Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Minnesota Decision: Supreme Court Rules For Franken, Coleman Concedes (VIDEO)

if franken had been a republican, limbaugh, hannity, o'reilly and beck [the four foxmen of the apocalypse] would have hammered the democrats incessantly over their obstructionist tactics that denied minnesotans their rightful representation in the senate. too bad democrats are deficient in vitriol. it's the only thing an undereducated electorate understands.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, June 29, 2009

Madoff Sentenced To 150 Years In Prison

the cliche 'time heals all wounds' may have some merit here, though no amount of 'prison' time will restore the stolen funds. i have no sympathy for maddoff.

i heard something on npr about the maximum 'claims' payout to those who were defrauded being 500k. my heart goes out to the charities [and those the charities would have benefited] and 'smaller' investors [i.e. those who had less to lose.].
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Spiritual Adviser: "Darkness" Gripped Sanford

quoting the article out of order...

Besides Bible readings and prayer, the Culbertsons stage what they call a "date night," where spouses interview each other. Culbertson said the boot camp is "not a marriage course, but marriages benefit from it."

The Sanfords "passed" the Culbertsons' course with flying colors. A week later, Jenny Sanford asked her husband to leave their home.

and a week after that, governor sanford flies to argentina after jenny warned him not to go there. ...remind me not to sign up for cubby's course.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, June 22, 2009


i started the last post with this statement -- 'i have long considered the conservative christian designation to be an oxymoron.' at that point i was distracted and wandered off down another path. let me return to that thought and explain why i consider conservative christian to be a contradiction in terms.

definitions of conservative contain phrases such as: resistant to change; cautious; a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas; unimaginatively conventional; people who generally like to uphold current conditions and oppose changes.

resistance to change is inexorably linked the notion of conservatism, yet, to be genuinely christian without experiencing fundamental change is an impossibility. sadly, in the minds of many, the idea of change as a part of what it means to be christian is noticeably absent. popular culture seeks a christian faith that reinforces its image of itself.

one critique i would offer regarding the weakness of contemporary christian faith is that it has as its foundation the teaching of paul rather than the teaching of jesus. this is significant because paul was a pharisee, i.e., a member of the class that jesus criticized harshly. paul, as far as we know, never met jesus. his 'encounter with christ' was a vision [an hallucination] on his way to damascus.

this is important because many of the 'fundamental' doctrines of the 'christian' faith are based on the teaching of saul of tarsus [paul] rather than jesus of nazareth. the understanding of 'christ' in contemporary christianity is filtered through the lens of paul the pharisee.

jesus criticized the pharisees for their focus on ritual, tradition and outward appearance. jesus taught saying 'you have heard it said... but i say to you...' turning tradition on its head and encouraging independent thought. the teachings of jesus are focused on the deeper foundational message of the hebrew scriptures rather than the literal 'letter of the law.'

paul preached a universal application of pharisaism, not the teachings of jesus, becuase paul had no first hand exposure to jesus' teaching. granted, the teachings of jesus that are available to us at this point were not recorded by eyewitnesses as jesus spoke, nor are they eyewitness accounts, but there is a distinct voice or timbre to the teachings that does not resonate from the writing of paul.

paul, for example, condemns homosexuality and a variety of other 'sins' whereas jesus consistently demonstrated unconditional forgiveness. jesus lived as a model to his disciples whereas paul deified jesus to make following his example impossible. jesus' message was follow me, whereas paul taught follow the law and worship jesus.

jesus condensed the law into a single simple liberating teaching -- love the lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. his definition of neighbor was anything but conservative. 'the world is my neighbor' teaching of jesus is the very definition of liberal.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

feigned acceptance

i have long considered the conservative christian designation to be an oxymoron. i started to say always, but that would not be entirely true. i was raised in what could only be described as a conservative christian family. i struggled to believe the doctrines that i heard preached and was taught in sunday school, but the best i could do was feign acceptance. i wanted to believe the things i was hearing, but i just could not.

for much of the time growing up, i tried, with varying degrees of desperation, to believe things, which to me, simply made no sense. at least not the way i understood it.

the message i had come away with was something like this: the bible [i.e. the king james version] was the literal word of god, dictated by the holy ghost to people who wrote word for word what was whispered into their ear. you were not to question anything therein, under threat of a literal burning everlasting hell. god, jesus and holy ghost were practically interchangeable terms in many instances, but with the caveat that jesus was the literal son of god, having been born of the physical union of mary and the holy ghost, and that his death on the cross was a necessary precondition for a loving god to forgive the sins of mankind. jesus' physical body was resurrected and physically ascended into heaven [passing through the atmosphere]. at any moment now, a trumpet will sound which everyone will hear, the 'dead in christ' will physically rise from their graves [with glorified bodies], and they, along with the sanctified who are alive, will ascend through the atmosphere into heaven.

for most of my youth, that was the message i heard. to question the message would, i was sure, consign my soul to an eternal burning hell. but, try as i might, i could not make the things i was being taught fit into any logical framework that made sense. despite that, i tried. really and truly, i tried. i went to off to furman university and studied religion with the intention of entering the baptist ministry. all the while, there was this uneasiness as i tried to perform the mental gymnastics necessary to fit the 'doctrines' i had been taught as a youth into some sort of framework that i could tolerate.

choosing furman for my education saved me. soon after arriving there, i realized that there were people who actually held beliefs that were different from those to which i had been exposed and their beliefs actually made some sort of sense to me. i learned that it was okay to ask questions and seek answers that were logically consistent. it was at once liberating and bitter-sweet, as i realized that much of what i learned would never find it's way into the church that i loved. i also learned that it was okay for me to think for myself and that i didn't have to have someone else tell me what i should think.

to say that furman changed me would be an understatement. it opened my mind and set me on the path to be the person i am, and i am quite happy to be who i am today. had it not been for my experience at furman, i would likely have nothing to do with the church today.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

guinea pig... [update]

when my participation in the pagoclone study began, i was given three numbered bottles of gel-caps. two gel-caps b.i.d. from the first bottle from may 19 through june 1. june 2 through june 14, i was taking one b.i.d. from bottle two. i started the third bottle, [one b.i.d.] on june 15 and will continue with it through my next visit on july 13.

for about the first 5 days i noticed a runny nose, had a brief 'sore throat' around day 4, and felt generally tired and run down for the duration of bottle one. i did not notice a significant change in fluency, but i was not in a situation where i would normally have had fluency issues.

once i started bottle two, the runny nose returned for about 4 days, though it was not as bad as it was with the beginning of bottle one. the fatigue continued, but in fairness, my schedule was considerably more demanding for the duration of bottle two. with bottle two, i did notice an increase in fluency which was equal to or better than the fluency i was accustomed to while using the speech-easy device. i would rate my overall fluency with bottle two as being better than the speech-easy experience, with the added bonus that the medication does no interfere with my ability to hear the way the speech-easy does.

since starting bottle three on monday, i have not experienced the runny nose as with previous bottles. i continue to be both busy and tired. yesterday was probably the most fluent day of my life thus far. i taught an eight hour defensive driving class and never repeated an initial syllable more than twice, [that was only once, most of the stuttering was repeating an initial syllable once] and stuttered no more than a dozen times all day. i read all of the objectives for the five sessions without stuttering even once, something i have never done in twelve years of teaching the class.

at this point i have concluded that i am probably in the high dosage group of the study. either that or i have one amazing placebo. i'll post periodic updates as the study continues.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

nation of immigrants

this morning on the today show there was a piece about families being separated by our nations immigration policies. featured in the piece were 'mixed status' families, immigrant families were some members are undocumented aliens and others are citizens.

in one featured family, the husband has been in the country legally for 22 years. his wife, whom he had left behind in mexico, grew tired of waiting to enter the country legally and crossed over to be with her husband here in the states. after arriving, they had two more children together. in 2005, they went to immigration and naturalization seeking legal status for her to remain in the country with her family. she was arrested, deported and barred from entering the country for life. meanwhile, the rest of her family, who are legal, remains here.

with another family, the couple entered the country legally with visas, established a business, bought a home, but overstayed their visa. they were arrested in a midnight raid and deported to mexico, while their three children, who were born here, were allowed to stay.

immigration has been a hot button issue for some in this country, though, to be honest, i feel that much of the anger directed toward the issue is misplaced at best. we are, after all, a nation comprised totally of immigrants. the only persons in this country who are not immigrants have been so completely marginalized as to be invisible. in light of that simple fact, our mistreatment of immigrants who lack the proper papers is particularly egregious. i'm not aware that any of my ancestors arrived here with proper permissions from the native population.

in all respects, our country is what it is today because of the blood, sweat and tears of its immigrant population. rather than vilify those who enter our country seeking work, and eager to do whatever work they can find [often to the profit and advantage of our countrymen], we should embrace those whose hard labour can only make our country stronger.

Monday, June 1, 2009

when free speech is not free

on sunday an usher was gunned down as he served at his lutheran church in wichita, kansas. when phrased in that manner it sounds ghastly, and rightly so. should the details of the victim's profession make his death sound any less horrific? the victim, in this case, was a physician who provided medical services to desperate pregnant women. does including that information make his death any less deserved?

the back story is that the doctor had been the target of 'hate speech' from anti-abortion zealots and right-wing media talking heads because he provided abortion services to women who sought late term abortions. he provided this service because he was committed to attending to the medical needs to the women who sought his clinic out of desperation. he was also a man who was committed to his church and his faith. those two facts should not be in conflict or tension with one another.

never did he seek out women or compel them to enter his clinic to end their pregnancy. to the contrary, the women who entered his clinic seeking his services often did so over the pleas of anti-choice advocates to reconsider. to remain steadfastly committed to his patients in the face of such opposition is the epitome of courage and more of a testament to authentic christian faith than those who made his occupation dangerous. the doctor is a modern day christian martyr.

while i agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion and to the right to freely express that opinion, i do not agree that anyone has the right to make inflammatory statements that incite people to commit murder. to the extent that the anti-choice zealots used inflammatory rhetoric that resulted in the death of doctor tiller, they are accessories to murder.