Saturday, November 22, 2008

No Heaven For You

I will be as up front about a few things. First, I neither know nor care all that much about what happens when we die. Maybe nothing. Maybe we wink out of existence, with all that remains rotting under the ground, or perhaps reduced to ash, feeding the cycle of life, death, and generation that has existed in some form or another for over three billion years on this planet. Perhaps, when we die, we find ourselves before the throne of God, to be embraced as a child. Perhaps, to the contrary, there is a form of reincarnation, and for a brief moment we see all our past lives, only to plunge in to the forgetfulness of another mortal life once again. I really have no opinion on the details one way or another. All I am sure of concerning death is that it is inevitable, and whatever happens is outside my ability to control.

I say all this because I am at turns amused and miffed at all the speculative personal eschatologies, built around this or that Biblical verse, or even parable, or this or that legend (Dante's Inferno reflected nearly a century of what passed for serious theological scholarship, and in turn has fed an ever-growing stream that has led, among other places, to The Omen and The Excorcist). There is, to be blunt, far too much attention paid to what happens after this life in far too many circles. Since I'm not dead yet, I for one am far more concerned about what is going on in this life. More, I think there is ample evidence from the Bible that God is far more concerned with this life - with how much and how well we love one another; how we care for those most in need; how we pursue justice, mercy, with compassion for all persons - than with whether or not there is a greeter at the Pearly Gates, with a harp and prefab wings for each of us.

The only thing, to my mind, that is more wasteful of intellectual energy than speculating about what happens after we die (and isn't it horribly narcissistic and prideful to think that God really cares about me so much that the entire edifice of salvation exists to ensure my own continued existence in some form or another after death?), is to use one's own convicted beliefs (now transferred to the realm of certainty) as a club to beat up others.
And it is important to get the claim right: Non-Christians are doomed to Hell as the appropriate punishment for their sins against a perfect and Holy God. Christians are pardoned from their punishment based on their trust in Jesus, whereby our sins were transferred to his account and his perfect righteousness was imputed to ours.

The New Testament is very clear that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and to reject him is to reject God. Telling Jews otherwise is profoundly unkind and un-Christian.

This is so disturbing on so many levels. It is also a huge distortion of the Biblical witness to say the Bible is "clear" about this issue. To take just one example, St. Paul did not write "For all non-Christians have sinned by rejecting God, and are therefore doomed to hell for all eternity." There was no qualification in Paul's insistence that, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God".

At the end of Romans 8, after a long discussion in the previous chapter concerning the role of the Law, he turns to the power of the Spirit in our lives. Chapter 8 is often cited because of the growing crescendo of hope and possibility on rhetorical display as Paul shows that the new life we have in Christ is ours not through any acceptance of our own (a point he was hammering home in Chapter 7), but the weird, irrational, prodigal love and grace of God. The end - "For I believe that neither death nor life" etc., etc. - refers as much to God's love for all of us, and each of us in this life. It is the hope and promise of the Spirit available to all. Not just to Christians who say the magic words; nor is it denied to all those who deny Christ (otherwise St. Peter would be sitting next to Judas in the pit of Hell, rather than chaperoning the Pearly Gates).

God's grace, thankfully, is much larger than Neil's. Were I to guess, I would say that all of us might just be surprised at that moment when the final mystery engulfs us. Be that as it may, to definitively claim that the Bible is clear that billions of human beings are consigned first to perdition, then to annihilation at the consummation of all things (check out the end of the Book of Revelation, where Jesus not only destroys Hell, but all those tossed in to the lake of fire simply wink out of existence) is not just unBiblical, it betrays a lack of love, compassion, and simple human fellow-feeling that is really . . . unbelievable.

Don't Know Much About Democracy

At several different times in various posts here and conversations at work and elsewhere, I have been really surprised at the lack of understanding of what, exactly, democracy really is. One might think this is a problem relegated to certain fringes, both left and right, I have found it to be far more widespread.

I got thinking about this subject after reading Matt Yglesias' highlight of a discussion on proposed constitutional changes underway in Russia. After noting that (a) the measure, which would appear to allow Vladimir Putin to run again for the Presidency, is popular in most of Russia, outside the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg; (b) both Putin and the current President Medvedev, are wildly popular in Russia, he goes on to write the following reflection:
I like how the elected parliament voting to enact a popular measure constitutes a “giant crack” in the foundation of Russian democracy. Oh well.


There is a tendency to view the democratic actions of other nation-states through the quite-natural prism of our own interest. Is it in the American national interest to have Vladimir Putin rule as President? It might be, it might not be. Yet, as he is both popular and effective, and has been elected under Russian law and through the democratic institutions as they exist in Russia, I would hardly call it "undemocratic" to make it possible for people to vote the way they want.

I have seen similar commentary in regards to Pres. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Many of the right call him "dictator". He may be, he may not be. Yet, what he most definitely is is the democratically elected head of state. He even managed to survive a coup carried out with American help (and we wonder why he isn't all that friendly toward us . . .).

Closer to home, during the discussion at Sadly, No! that featured something I had written, it became clear that one reason for Brad's frustration with my own position was a deeply held contempt for the intelligence and perspicacity of the American people. Rooted in the frustrations not just of the past eight years, but of most of the Republican era - it seems the American people vote for Republicans, and then are shocked that they enact policies Republicans would enact! - there is an abiding disregard for the intelligence of the average American voter. Thus, Brad would have preferred a campaign that heightened resentment and rage at the many faults and failings of the Republican ruling party.

To my mind this is a highly undemocratic reflex, i.e., to assume that people don't vote the way one would like them to because they are either unintelligent, uninformed, or gullible, or some combination thereof. Actually, people support different political parties and politicians for a variety of reasons, some of them quite rational, some not so rational. The thing is, though, that regardless of the reasons, even had the election turned out different this past fall, it would have been reflective of the will of the people.

I trust the American people. It has taken me a long time to let go of my own inherent contempt for people who think and vote different than I do, but it is just a difference, neither an intellectual nor moral failing. Sure there are stupid people who supported John McCain; there were also stupid people who supported Barack Obama, and my guess is that both attracted about an equal share of the "Duh" vote, or at least roughly equivalent to their total vote (in other words, Obama probably got more stupid people to vote for him, but he got more people in general to vote for him).

So, whether its other countries doing things that we think are not in our interest, yet are reflective of their own preferences, or elections that don't turn out the way we might have liked, I think it undemocratic to say, in the former, "They're being undemocratic!", or in the latter, "But the people who voted that way are just dumb!" Democracy is a messy business and, sadly, you have to take the good with the bad.

Ginning Up The Fauxtrage

Remember during the campaign when the Republicans broadcast far and wide Barack Obama's opposition to legislation pending in the Illinois' State Senate that would have forced doctors to save the life of a baby, even if the child had been delivered in the course of the mother seeking an abortion? Since the law in Illinois was quite clear that doctors are under the obligation to work to save the life of any human being, it was clear this was an anti-abortion measure by another name. It duplicated a law already on the books, and sought to do nothing more than limit abortions, especially the poorly-named "partial-birth" abortion. Yet, they got the pro-lifers frothing that Obama supported infanticide.

Well, as the Bush Administration fades in to the sunset, it is attempting to do something similar on a national scale. Under proposed rules changes for the Department of Health and Human Services, they would like to exempt from professional reprimand any individual who refuses to participate in any procedure they oppose on religious and moral grounds. Except, of course, the 1964 Civil Rights Act already does this - discrimination on religious grounds is verboten. Not to tell stories out of school, but when I had my vasectomy, my doctor had to use a different nurse because his nurse was opposed to the procedure on religious grounds.

Thankfully, Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray are introducing legislation to block this rule change. Since the sole goal of such nonsense is to reduce the already small supply of abortion providers - as well as those who assist on vasectomies, tubal ligations, sterilizations, and other such procedures - and is moot in any case due to already existing laws on the books, this is just another of those fake controversies the right loves to stir up.

This kind of thing is what Barack Obama spoke of when he spoke about "changing our politics". It is nothing more and nothing less than the politics of bullshit, using frightful images, threats of all sorts of horrors, on an issue already covered by legal protections with little consequence outside the small group of rabid anti-abortion folks who hold the fetus of far more importance than real living human beings. I will be so glad when this kind of things is but a dim, sad memory.

Saturday Rock Show

Cheesy (without any pun intended)? Definitely! Dated? Absolutely, at least visually. At the remove of two decades it is difficult to remember that, at the time this video was released (1984-1985), Ratt was one of the biggest rock bands out there. On the tour from which this video clip came their opening act was . . . Bon Jovi! Steve Pearcy, the lead singer, argued that they weren't some niche band, but should be rated with Led Zepelin, and there was abundant evidence to back that up, at least in terms of popularity.

I always liked their lead guitarist, Warren DeMartini. Sadly, their other guitarist (I think his name was Robin Crosby) ended up dying homeless on the street from complications due to AIDS from needle sharing; addicted to heroin, he ended up as far from the strutting, thrusting rock guitarist vamping in front of thousands of fans as could be.

I consider this the rock equivalent of a Snickers bar, say, or a package of Necco wafers. Good for a moment of fun, but certainly not nutritious (although the banner that flashes on the the screen for a moment, put up by some young women in the balcony, that reads "Eat me I'm cheese" has always been dear to my heart).

Friday, November 21, 2008

Really Off The Reservation

Kathleen Parker, a conservative columnist who discovered the depth of psychotic vitriol that floats near the bottom of the Republican base when she called for Sarah Palin's ouster from the Republican ticket, has penned a column that shows just how far away she has wandered from what was, once, conservative orthodoxy.

Before I go any further, I should be clear that I am noting this not because I "agree" with her view, or even that I "disagree" with it. I am noting the column because it is a model of sane political advice that I am quite sure her former employers at National Review would consider ridiculous precisely because it is so sane (please remember, Jonah Goldberg is an editor there, which should give anyone an idea of the level of ridiculousness floating around out there in Republican land).

[T]he evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.


[T]he GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

Here's the deal, 'pubbies: Howard Dean was right.

It isn't that culture doesn't matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party -- and conservatism with it -- eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one's heart where it belongs.


the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

With the exception of Miss Alaska, of course.

Even Sarah Palin has blamed Bush policies for the GOP loss. She's not entirely wrong, but she's also part of the problem. Her recent conjecture about whether to run for president in 2012 (does anyone really doubt she will?) speaks for itself:

"I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. ... And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it's something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

Let's do pray that God shows Alaska's governor the door.

While not the entire column, I think these excerpts show what eminently sensible advice she is offering the Republican Party. I also think it should be clear why it will be ignored. Like the Democrats in 1972, the Republicans had a huge can of whup-ass served to them, and they are in search of an identity right now. Just as the Democrats took a long time to regroup and reorganize - in part because, while it is poor form to say so, American meanstream liberalism was bereft of ideas starting in the late 1960's or so. By the time Ronald Reagan was elected, all they had was a kind of reflexive anti-conservatism, and it really didn't serve them, or the American people well. Even their brightest lights of the mid-1980's - Mario Cuomo, Jesse Jackson, Geraldine Ferraro - were left with nothing but reasons why they weren't Republicans. Bill Clinton, the most successful Democratic politician since Franklin Roosevelt, had no core set of ideas, no vision, and offered only a legacy of fiscal prudence that was squandered by his successor.

Kathleen Parker here is telling the Republicans to smile at the conservative base, and then show them the door. I think it unlikely, however, because along with social conservatives there are also the neo-cons. Nihilists to the core, wrong on pretty much everything, they nevertheless hold the whip hand because of the patina of "intellectual prowess" they possess for some reason or other. As such, they will continue to push an agenda that resonates with social conservatives, uniting the two most marginal sectors of the Republican Party in a deadly embrace.

I am not an admirer of Ms. Parker, but I also find her advice, especially in regards Gov. Palin very sound. The problem, of course, is that it will be ignored, even scorned precisely because the two loudest, most vociferous voices in the Republican Party are hostile to actual thought.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Serious Note On The Homo-Hatred At American Descent

I have had a bit of fun tweaking the gentlemen at American Descent, especially in re their reflexive hatred of GLBT folk. Yet, I would be remiss if I didn't pause for a moment and remind anyone who might need reminding that the kind of fear and hatred exhibited there is, while amusing in a sick and twisted way, also indicative of a deeply disturbed individual.

When I first heard of Matthew Shepard's murder, I was hardly stunned; murdering a young man for the heinous crime of hitting on another man seemed par for the course for some people, like beating up a black man in the south, or a Chinese in California in another day and time. Yet, the more I thought about it, the angrier I became. Shepard was beaten to death for making the quite natural assumption that one of a pair of young men at a bar might be interested in a little fun. Rather than just say to him, "Sorry, dude, not the way I hang," they reacted in fear and rage and, after beating him, left him to die on the side of the road. Let me reiterate - Shepard's offense was making a pass at someone. That's it, and that's all. I say offense, because it is only offensive to someone whose mind is so twisted by bigotry as to believe it wrong for a young man in a bar to hit on someone.

I will not deny my own struggle with mixed feelings toward gay folk, especially when I was younger. I overcame it not because I am superior in some moral or personal way. Rather, I overcame it because I had friends who taught me a simple truth - they aren't gay people. They are people. They love a little differently from me, but then again, everyone else does, too. Some people would find my wife a knockout; others would just kind of shrug and say, "eh". Such is the way of the world. It's just difference, and a minor one at that.

Yet, such are the vagaries of the human animal that this minor difference is enough to spark a deep-seated rage among some people. It can become murderous.

I recently noted the passing of one of the dearest friend of my life, Steve Creech. Among his many wonderful qualities was his nonchalance about being out in a context where being out could very well be dangerous. I always thought he was so brave for that. I have known other folks, in situations that could or should have been far more comfortable and comforting and supportive who, for their own reasons, chose to keep their sexuality to themselves (I hate the term "closeted"; Larry Craig is closeted; some whom I have known have been open enough with those close to them, but just chose not to broadcast it far and wide). Steve, however, was just Steve, and being gay was about on a par for him with being legally blind. It was part of who he was, and he neither advertised it nor denied it.

The sickness on display over at American Descent in regard to gays and lesbians can be a source of amusement. It can also be, if not vented frequently, a source of danger. The kind of vitriolic hatred and bigotry there is the taproot of so much violence. While it is certainly fun to tweak them about their own latent homoeroticism (it surfaces so frequently), I think I should be honest enough to say that it can also be very frightening, too.

Memo To American Descent - There's Reality, Then There's You (UPDATE)

The "gentlemen" at American Descent (who seem to think that calling me a fag is a reason for high-fiving one another, then maybe taking a shower together in the American Descent locker room . . .) have been obsession about the looming return of the Fairness Doctrine, walking Monkee-walk step with the voice of their master, Rush Limbaugh, ever since Obama won two weeks ago. Since I have zero interest in finding out whether or not there are people who are interested in doing so, I haven't done the research to find out if their claim that Chuck Schumer supports such a move is true or not. I figured, even if it is true, it is also irrelevant.

Lucky for me, Matt Yglesias found an actual journalist who did what I chose not to do, and what the folks at AD cannot do. He researched the issue and came up with the following narrative progression:
On Election Day, conservatives found a new bogeyman in Senator Chuck Schumer, after Fox News host Bill Hemmer cornered him about the issue on the air. Schumer just smirked: “I think we should all try to be fair and balanced, don’t you?” Rush Limbaugh seized on Schumer’s comments as evidence that the Democrats would “do everything they can” to bring the doctrine back. Two days after the election, National Review’s Peter Kirsanow tried to rally the troops to preempt the return of the policy. “Waiting until Inauguration Day to get geared up is too late. By that time the Fairness Doctrine Express will be at full steam–wavering Democrats will be pressed to support the new Democratic president, weak-kneed Republicans will want to display comity, the mainstream media will not be saddened to see talk radio annihilated and much of the public will be too enraptured by Obama’s Camelot inauguration to notice or care.”

To figure out who was causing such agitation, I went searching for the proponents of the fairness doctrine. I looked at Obama’s position–and it turns out that he doesn’t want the policy reinstated. Then I called the array of Democratic congressmen who had been tagged by conservatives as doctrine proponents. But they all denied any intention to push for its reinstatement. As some of the world’s great egotists, it’s not surprising that Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly believe they would be the first political prisoners interred in an Obama administration. But, the more I searched for actual evidence of the doctrine’s return, the more I had to conclude that Schumer was just messing with their heads.

Messing with their heads is easy enough to do, I suppose. I would post this at AD, but since this is real research containing actual facts, it will be dismissed as "liberal", which for them is the equivalent of "evil".

Something tells me that, as Obama ends his second term in eight years, AD will still be warning all good-hearted real Americans about the imminent reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine.

As I said in comments over there last night, these folks are so far out there, it takes days for the light of the sun to reach them.

UPDATE: At the risk of offending some people, I just thought I would put a couple comments from one of the proprietors at American Descent here, so you won't have to dirty yourself by visiting there. If there is a more clueless individual to his own hatred, fear, yet strange attraction to, gay folks than the person who wrote these comments, introduce me. Better yet, introduce him to a gay friend of yours.
"Someone's really getting his hate on towards the gay folks." J-Off

An example please? It's not gays I hate,'s the perversion.

As displayed by the fanatical children throwing a fit out in Fagland, USA.

The truth of it is...and it is being clearly documented by both the press and the blogosphere...the hate is coming from the fags.

I responded to this with the note that he actually gave an example in the next sentence after he asked for one. It's like a gift that keeps on giving over there . . .
Tell me, J-Off...just how is that considered "hate"?

They are FAGS. It's a name that has described homos for eons. They're not "gay". Haven't you seen the hatred on their faces out there in Poofta-land?

They are perverts. Dispute that, Be-atch!

"Fag" is mild compared to "pervert", don;t you think? But perverts they are...and will forever remain. A fact you just cannot get around.

You, J-Off, are the only one around here who has displayed hatred for those with whom you disagree.

I would also point out, although I am quite sure it hasn't been missed, the not-very-latent homoeroticism of my "nickname". Also, the whole be-atch thing - please, honey, don't make me come over there!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama's Cabinet Shaping Up - With An Excursus On Clinton At State

Holder at Justice and Daschle and HHS. Two good picks. The info on Hillary at Senate isn't solid, so I have no way of knowing if, in fact, she will be Secretary of State. Josh Marshall says he needs help understanding this pick.

First, there are negatives to naming either of the Clinton's to a position of authority, but I think they are related more to the press' utter insanity when it comes to the Clintons. They will receive all sorts of weird press for the simple reason that the press hates and fears them, and journalists waste all sorts of energy on nonsense when it comes to Bill and Hillary. This, more than any alleged deficiencies either brings to the table - speaking on the merits, now.

On the other hand, I think that, as I have said before, Obama is entering office with far more authority and political muscle than any President since George H. W. Bush in 1988 (and, maybe, Bill Clinton in 1996, although he was hampered by the Republican efforts to get him booted). However rough and tumble the Democratic primary may have been, the policy differences between Clinton and Obama are minuscule. Furthermore, one thing Clinton did quite well was keeping the US on pretty good terms with the rest of the world. He was far from perfect - the Iraqi embargo was responsible for thousands of deaths; he stumbled a few times, in Haiti and Somalia during his first term, for example - but had tremendous success in engaging the African continent, for example. Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea did a whirlwind tour of the continent toward the end of his second term that was a triumph; I think this should be kept in mind as well.

Both are committed to reestablishing the US as a legitimate player on the international stage; both are also committed to redressing various grievances other nations may have against the US due to the multiple bunglings and crimes of the Bush years. Finally, I think that Hillary Clinton understands that this is Obama's game, and he knows how to play it.

As far as Foggy Bottom being a recalcitrant bureaucracy, I think that is only because they are constantly undercut by Presidents who have thought they knew what they were doing overseas, or tried to bypass that bureaucracy in order to achieve some fanciful goal. Morale at Foggy Bottom is perpetually low because they do not believe either Secretaries of State or the President they serve take them seriously. In Barack Obama, however, that might change. Putting Hillary Clinton in charge might be a way to show them that they have a sympathetic ear at the cabinet level.

Of course, I might be wrong about this last point - hubris is something the Office of President is designed to heighten - but I think, for the time being, career foreign officers would be assuaged a great deal by a Clinton Secretariat. Unlike the failed Health Care business in 1994 and her Presidential campaign - the former of which failed only in part because of anything she did; please remember the Republicans went in to overdrive to ensure nothing came of that - she might be Administrator of the State Department, but she will be following the direction and orders of the President. To that extent, I think any alleged administrative failings she may have will be compensated for by the brief she gets from the future President Obama.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where Do I Send Away For My Pink Swastika?

I saw this yesterday.
Discussing actions by individual protesters of Proposition 8, Newt Gingrich stated: "I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion."

My dream ticket for the Republican Party for 2012 is Gingrich/Palin. I hope he's on every Sunday talk show for the next four years.

Here I Had Hopes He Would Bring About The Apocalypse . . .

Steve Benen sums it up well.
I can appreciate the fact that there are a handful of very odd people in the world, some of whom believe the Book of Revelation foretold Obama's election. Strange people can be led to believe strange things. That's not a reason for Newsweek to publish articles about their inanity.

Why is it the crazies actually get attention without being called, you know, crazy?

A Couple Reruns (Length Alert)

In a discussion in another forum, I mentioned that I have written a bit on my own perspective on human sexuality. After reviewing my archives under that heading, it turns out my memory is a bit faulty, at least in terms of context. So, in order to satisfy my own sense of thoroughness, I am including a couple different pieces here, including a couple blog posts, and comments from another. If this is too long, I apologize and can only ask your indulgence. A couple points. The "Anonymous" commenter is my oldest sister (for those who are new), who joins in because our family ancestry takes a bit of a hit. Second, I think this is all relevant, especially in regards all the discussion concerning Prop 8. Since my own position vis-a-vis human sexuality is complex and highly nuanced, I figured the best thing to do would be to put everything together in one place. Again, it may be too long, and if so, I'm sorry for that. At the same time, at least I'll have it all in one place as a reference.

First, from May 19, 2007:

I believe I once quoted my mother's one comment to me on human sexuality, "If God made anything better than sex, he kept it to himself." For lack of anything better to write about today, I thought I would take a minute and offer some thoughts on human sexual ethics from this one individual Christian's point of view. I offer these thoughts in a random, non-systematic way, and invite comment, criticism, etc.

For the record, I think human sexuality is, in the words of the United Methodist Discipline a good gift from a good God. At its best, it is a mysterious union of two people that is greater than the sum of its physical and psychological parts. At its worst, however, it is destructive of life, of physical and psychological health. I have called this aspect of sex "demonic" because, sadly, I have experienced it for myself (no, I won't elaborate; I offer that merely to say that this is something I know from first-hand experience) and there seems no better adjective for it. For me, one of the biggest problems we have in talking about human sexuality is that we fear sex, we fear stepping on toes, we fear appearing to interfere in the individual decisions of others. Even if it is sometimes difficult to discern a coherent sexual ethic from the contradictions of the Bible and the varieties of teaching in the history of the Church, I think the attempt should be made to address the issue for each generation of Christians. So, here's mine, again, in a non-discursive way.

- We too often confuse sex and love. At its root, we human beings are no different from dogs in the park. The crucial difference is that we give meaning to what we do.

- The desire for sexual release is actually a stronger physical desire than nourishment. We can recognize this, but still maintain some kind of discipline and control precisely because we recognize it. Exercising discipline and control are the hallmarks of emotional and intellectual maturity.

- The relationship between sex and procreation should never be the root of any sexual ethic. Reproduction is just one of the beneficial aspects of human sexuality. Because Roman Catholic sexual ethics are so rooted, I believe they are, at heart, deeply flawed.

- The pleasurable aspect of the sexual act is obvious and banal, and should not be a serious part of an ethical discussion. Eating is pleasurable, too, as is, on occasion, emptying one's bladder, but neither of these pleasures suddenly become central to understanding eating or peeing, or an argument in their favor. To focus on the fact that sex "feels good" is to be stuck in perpetual adolescent, masturbatory mode.

- There are limits to what should be acceptable human sexual conduct, including acts with children, and any act the denies the humanity, agency, and integrity of another person. Even should another person find sexual release through humiliation and the erasure of their individuality, that is no excuse for participating in it; the individual in question is, in two words, mentally ill. To find sexual pleasure in the debasement of others is a sign of mental illness as well. What two individuals get up to on their own, in private, can still be destructive, and I have no problem calling sadism and masochism illnesses.

- Marriage is a social, legal relationship the church uses as a model for the relationship between Christ and the Church. Even in the centuries of Christian dominance in the west, it was more often honored in the breech than in actual practice. To limit human sexual practice, a priori, to this particular form of relationship is nonsensical. This does not mean I support people mating willy-nilly. I just think we should be honest and say that marriage adds little to human sexuality.

- That some people are romantically and sexually attracted to others of the same gender is simply a reality we are going to have to accept some day as an institution. All that I have written here applies to straight and gay folks equally, because I see no differences other than to whom one directs one's affections.

This is hardly exhaustive, and doesn't address a whole host of things, but I think these are all good starting points for discussion, disagreement, debate, dissension, etc.

Comments from October 29, 2007:
Marshall Art said...

Sit down. Have a sip or two of brandy. This will come as a great shock to you:

I'm totally upset with this turn of events. As Rothstein suggests, Dumbledore's sexual preference is irrelevant. It's unnecessary, and inappropriate for a series of books intended mostly for children. It's also quite cowardly and arrogant to now, after raking in all the cash, and after the final installment is out there, make this announcement. If anyone should have shut up, it would be Rowling herself, right at the moment she felt like sharing this piece of filth with the world. Whether it was there all the time from book 1 on, or just something that came to her in writing the last, she, like so many in our educational system, certain governmental bodies, and bath houses across America and the world, have no business planting such weedlike seeds in children's books, thus consequently in the minds of the children of other people. Whether they like it or not, even the most militant homosexual activist must step aside for the rights of parents, knowing full well that their unseemly predelictions are not viewed with the same enthusiasm by most of the general population.

In the name of all that's Holy, for the sake of the children themselves, leave the kids the hell out of your sexual disfunction. This, by the way, encompasses not just homosexuality, but the entire decadence that has spread throughout our land since the shameful 60's.
8:33 PM
Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Decadence that has spread throughout out land? And you want me to have a brandy? Marshall, sex outside of wedlock wasn't invented in 1964. My greatgrandmother was born as the result of an adulterous affair between a Union soldier home on leave during the Civil War and a fifteen year old girl who occasionally helped the man's wife out on the farm while he was away defending the Union. I think you might just want to calm down a tad and think this through.

That Dumbledore is gay is actually very important, as I outlined above, precisely because he is, even more than Harry Potter, the moral center of the story. That he is also a gay man - and that his identity as a gay man is incidental to his character - is revolutionary, in a way, when seen in retrospect.

Teaching our children tolerance and even acceptance of difference, especially sexual difference can only ever be a good thing. Teaching them that a human being can be a force for good in the world, and be gay, is a wonderful reminder that morality is not the sole possession of religious folk.

In all the annals of literary history, this is not a blip at all. It is important, however, because it is showing the stark difference between those who think that using literature to enhance our appreciation of those who live and love differently is an unmitigated good. Then there are those, such as yourself, who would rather all gay folks simply hid themselves away, without upsetting our pristine vision of the Universe. I much prefer the former vision.

Before you ask, yes, I am teaching my kids to disregard sexual orientation as something to consider as important in people. Who one loves is unimportant. That one loves is necessary to our survival as a species.
8:58 PM
Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Your use of the word "filth" in you comment tells me more than I wish to know about how you feel about gay people, and how you think society should treat them.

Truly awful.
9:04 PM
Marshall Art said...

There you go again. Can you for once, get it straight (no pun intended) that asking for clarification is far superior and desirable to assuming you know what I mean. So I'll paint you a picture:

I have a problem with homosexual behavior. I have a problem with sex as "love" in general. It is a lie to soothe the consciences of those who fill it with importance. And herein you, like too many, confuse love and lust. They are not the same, and they are not working in tandem in most relationships these days. Lust takes precedence for too many with love given token consideration. Homosexuality is a totally lust driven phenomena. This is not to say that agape love cannot exist, but it is secondary to the lustful desire. As such, lust is a selfish urge. It is true even within the traditional and morally superior marriage.

But all this misses the more important point, which is that kids don't need sex pushed down their throats because some liberal intellectuals WANT it to be better for them, not because it is. Why can't you let the kids be kids and enjoy what little innocence life nowadays allows? Is that too fuckin' much to ask? Is pushing the homo agenda so important that it can't wait until the kids are at least in high school? It's child abuse, for pete's sake. Why not just give them porno movies and let them have at it? If this is a mark of being progressive, then I prefer no progress be made. This fits well within your EVIL discussion if you can't see what's wrong with subjecting kids to this stuff.

And yeah, I know that out of wedlock sex is not new. DUH! Are you saying you're PROUD that your greatgrandmother was a bastard? That her parents were weak-willed crotch centered people? I would find it unfortunate to find such in my ancestry no matter the liklihood.

If you want to be a good parent, teach them rather that controlling one's desires is the way to go. I don't teach mine to beat up homos, but they know that homosex is wrong and that their own, as well as my own, pre-marital escapades is wrong as well. Perhaps even evil.

Just leave the kids alone.
12:44 AM
Alan said...

"As Rothstein suggests, Dumbledore's sexual preference is irrelevant."

Not to him it wasn't, regardless of which way he swung. LOL

Apparently it's only irrelevant now that she tells us he's gay. Didn't have a problem with it when you assumed he was straight, eh? Funny that no one stomped around and ranted and raged about how straight Harry is. After all, there were plenty of heterosexual romances in the books. Funny that no one thought THAT should be deleted in order to maintain kids' innocence.

"And herein you, like too many, confuse love and lust. They are not the same, and they are not working in tandem in most relationships these days."

I'd agree that too many confuse love and lust. But perhaps you should look in the mirror. Apparently all you can see of gay people is sex, and cannot imagine for a moment that two men or two women could love each other. How sad.

"Why can't you let the kids be kids and enjoy what little innocence life nowadays allows? Is that too fuckin' much to ask? Is pushing the homo agenda so important that it can't wait until the kids are at least in high school? It's child abuse, for pete's sake."

Blah, blah, blah. Don'tcha love it when people play the "its for the children" card? Obviously in this case, Marshall is referring to the straight children.

"The homo agenda". ROFL. Did I just walk into the 1950s? Do people still talk like that? Why not just use the much-preferred "fags"?

"I don't teach mine to beat up homos,..."

Wow ... you're a frackin' saint. Shall we nominate you for a medal? Don't worry, I'm sure they get the message anyway.

Well enough of Marshall's nonsense.

Geoffrey, I'd say that Dumbledore was not a good gay role model at all, for any number of reasons, particularly the stereotypes JKR uses as "evidence" of his orientation:

* Her understanding of gay childhood was apparently ripped from the pages of Freud: absent father, overbearing mother. Heck, it sounds like something Marshall would have written.
* His one and only love interest, Grindelwald, turned out to be a psychopathic killer.
* The rest of his life is riddled with loneliness, despair, guilt, and regret.

And, by keeping this secret and not making it apparent in the text itself, she has simply reinforced Marshall's notion that the only good "homo" is one that shuts up, keeps his place, doesn't rock the boat, and doesn't ever, ever come out, not to mention she continues the notion that gay people are not to be included in any portrayal of society, particularly not in children's literature. As a friend of mine said, "He might have been a great wizard, but he was a lousy gay man."
8:19 AM
Parklife said...

"Shall we nominate you for a medal?"

I nominated him for the Peace Prize.. But.. then.. we all know how that went.

"The homo agenda"

Ehe.. been down this dark, short and twisted road with MA. It seems hes proving how manly he is by not giving into this "evil" side.

"it sounds like something Marshall would have written."

From what I understand (having never read the books), they are not exactly literary works of art. The whole thing with Dumbledore smacks of Rowling reaching for some depth in her work that may (or may not) be there. Then again.. would all these people have purchased the books if they suspected? She does seem to be all about the money.

In the end.. I suppose.. MA is right. It is all about the kids. And, honestly, who cares what an individuals sexual preferences are. We are all about the individual, right? Anyway, the kids really dont or shouldnt care about Dumbledore's identity. Just imagine how shocking its going to be when it turns out Harry was... straight!
11:17 AM
Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I think that Alan makes an interesting point about Dumbledore's roots and subsequent life, and it being less than stellar, and somewhat stereotypical. I had not thought that part through that much (especially the whole loneliness thing - great point). On the other hand, I stand by my larger point that his being gay is important for who his character is and how he functions in the books.

"It's all about the kids" - exactly. The sexiest moment in the book is when Harry gets his first kiss, and it isn't even mentioned until after it happens, so I don't know what the hubbub is about. Other than the outward manifestations of teenage affection and attraction, there is no sign of struggle with masturbation, the almost constant desire for sex, the discussions about it between friends, etc. - in that sense the books are quite deficient.

Love versus lust - so, Marshall, you think gay folks are only in it for sex, because you can't possibly imagine having a romantic attachment to a person of the same gender, perhaps? I'm really not sure what that comment means, really. Lust is a healthy part of anyone's emotional diet - it physically keeps the species alive, if nothing else. My only problem with "lust" is when it becomes either destructive of relationships (one based solely on sexual release). Incorporating a healthy feeling of lust towards the person you love is the sign of a lively, healthy relationship.

On the one hand you teach your kids "not to beat up homos". As Alan says, how saintly of you. Yet, you use words such as filth, the term "homo", etc., so I wonder, what message do you send your children, exactly, about those who are different?

I think, after this little discussion that my judgment that this isn't very important is wrong. I think that it is important, if for no other reason than the books have such cultural resonance.
2:21 PM
Alan said...

"The sexiest moment in the book is when Harry gets his first kiss,..."

You know, I don't know why she had to include that in the book. Or why did she include the scene at the end of the last book everyone has kids -- clearly flaunting the fact that they've had sexual intercourse in poor young readers' faces. Even Hagrid had a love interest. Do we really want our children picturing that?! Why can't she let the kids be kids and enjoy what little innocence life nowadays allows? Is that too frackin' much to ask? Is pushing the hetero agenda so important that it can't wait until the kids are at least in high school? It's child abuse, for pete's sake.

"On the other hand, I stand by my larger point that his being gay is important for who his character is and how he functions in the books."

I'm less sure. I think if she'd wanted to make this an important aspect of his character, she would have made it obvious (like she did every other character's sexuality.) I suppose it's somewhat less coded in the movies, as Dumbledore has clearly been dipping into Bea Arthur's "Golden Girls" wardrobe.

In order to make Dubledore obviously gay, perhaps she could have made him a right winger who rants about the "homosexual agenda". These days nothing quite says "Screaming Queen", quite like the right wing bigot act. That image has now taken its place alongside such other notable gay cliches as hair stylist, florist, interior decorator, and Catholic priest.

What's next I ask you?! How much worse can this get? Sheesh ... next thing you're going to tell me is that Uncle Arthur from Bewitched was gay.
3:57 PM
Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Wasn't Uncle Arthur played by Paul Lynde? 'Nuff said, I think . . .

I think we can agree to disagree about the place of Dumbledore's sexual orientation within the larger scheme of Rowling's work. I think, however, that it is, as I said, as much the cultural importance of the books that has created the stir as any literary merit the books might or might not have. That is an issue for another day, another post, and another blog.

I do like your whole rant against the "hetero" agenda thing. Nice touch. It would have nice, after all, to show Neville Longbottom (with a name like that what do you think?) and his partner in their adulthood. Be that as it may, a popular book purporting to show the growing pains of a teenage boy that does not include some discussion of, say, self-interest or the occasionally obsessive way sexual thoughts intrude upon a young man's life (and the embarrassing results that keep so many teenage boys in their chairs) does lack a little something in the reality department.

Having a gay teacher isn't a big deal. Having a gay teacher at what purports to be an English public school is not surprising (buggery was not invented by the English navy, but at the English public schools). The only people who have a problem with Dumbledore's sexuality are those, like Marshall and Bill O'Reilly who have a pre-existing condition called homophobia.
5:05 PM
Marshall Art said...

Homophobia--the mythical condition created from thin air by those who wish to get their sexual jollies in unnatural ways. My pre-existing condition is an unconditional devotion to God's Will as described in Scripture. You should try it sometime.

Hey Alan,

Your attempt to equate homo & hetero lifestyles would be funny if it wasn't so stupid. It's like teasing a carpenter for using a hammer to drive nails. It's the proper use of the equipment.

Young teens experiencing their first kiss might be premature for some, but it is natural between a boy and a girl of that age. You may not be aware, but teens date. It's all the rage I hear. And presenting kids with images or descriptions of traditional marriages IS appropriate for them. Presenting unnatural acts as normal is abusive and entirely inappropriate.

Perhaps in the next kids series to come along, we'll hear of a nice guy who loves his goat. Oh what a lonely life he'll lead when the goat dies. It'll be so sad.


I believe you missed the part where I said, "This is not to say that agape love cannot exist..." But yes, they are driven by their urges. Then they try to find someone with whom they can pretend to play house. But it really doesn't matter since the practice is unnatural and sinful. And I also made reference to similar urges driving most heteros as well. But if you think lust is necessary for a healthy relationship, yours is not healthy. Go ahead and test it. If you truly love your wife, sex is unnecessary. I dare ya.

And you all could not be more dishonest tahn to suggest that there doesn't exist an agenda by the homosexual community. It's found in a book, the title of which begins "After the Ball" I believe. It's visible to anyone with eyes with every little whine that emanates from their mouths. And people like yourselves have bought into it and are happy to put kids at risk by your easy-going attitudes regarding sexuality. How freakin' (it's "freakin'", Alan, not "frackin'"---probably a typo, but Geoffrey loves to correct in this manner. He probably missed it) how freakin' irresponsible.
1:27 AM
Alan said...

Marshall rants: "(it's "freakin'", Alan, not "frackin'"---probably a typo,"

First of all, I meant "frackin'." It's a Battlestar Galactica reference, genius. I thought that was better than the expletive you used on a public blog that any kid could read. What about the children!? (I hope that's not the same mouth you kiss your kids with, potty mouth.)

"Your attempt to equate homo & hetero lifestyles would be funny if it wasn't so stupid. "

Second of all .... why are you hitting on me?

7:48 AM
Jim Bush-Resko said...

Alan - I salute you, sir. With my hand, Marshall. Must you sexualize everything?

Seriously, though... Marshall, you seem very agitated about homosexuality, and I think that's a sad state of affairs. After all, you're expending so much energy on your anger towards homosexuals, people that were born in the image of God just like you. Yesterday, I listened to an interview with the author of "The Year of Living Biblically," and the author was asked how he dealt with homosexuality and he responded that in choosing to live Biblically, he had to make some choices about which precepts to follow, because some of them are contradictory. So, as he thought over the question of homosexuality, he decided that since Jesus said nothing about homosexuality in his teachings, that he could let go of the Old Testament teachings on the subject.

Marshall, have you read any of the articles that have been appearing lately on the web regarding the resurgence of the liberal aspect of Christianity? It seems that some fundamentalist Christian groups are moving their activities away from a focus on Abortion and Homosexuality towards a focus on Christ's teachings, addressing social justice. How do you feel about that movement? Would you be comfortable with a fundamentalist movement that would identify themselves with the poor and the dispossessed?

Certainly the homosexual community in America has been ostracized, so I would think that outreach to aspects of the homosexual community would be a natural outgrowth of such a movement. Not to change their orientation, but to support them, to help them find peace in their lives and their identities. Think about being a young homosexual in an American small town. A Christian outreach group that supported that young person through their period of sexual self-definition without pushing them toward rejecting their own feelings would be an amazing thing. But of course, that would require that the people in that group accept homosexuality as an orientation, forsaking the view that it is a sinful choice. That requires a type of love that some might not be ready to give. Would you be up to challenging yourself to embrace Christ's love for all people?
8:47 AM
Brian said...
This post has been removed by the author.
9:11 AM
Brian said...

I do love when someone purports to know the content of my heart.

This hullaballoo about lusting in our hearts (thank you Jimmy Carter) reminds me of a quote from Mel White, pastor, former ghostwriter for the religious right, and now founder and director of SoulForce, when he was interviewed on the Larry King show:

"A caller asked what Mel and his partner did in bed. Even though Larry King hung up on the caller for being rude, White answered, “What do we do in bed? We’ve been together for 24 years—we sleep in bed.”

And why, oh Lord, why do conservatives always play this stupid (stupid!) slippery-slope card and start talking about bestiality when they talk about gay sex? It only ever comes up when the fundies are around. With all of interesting items in the queer sexual repertoire that kind of stuff never comes up, but boy you get a fundie or two in the room and suddenly its "goat sex this" and "dog sex that".

I tell you, its disgusting! I can't believe we'd let these folks around our...children.
9:13 AM
Parklife said...


Ha.. Love it..

"traditional marriages"

Umm.. like Brit and K-Fed?

One more disturbing quality to all this is MA's insistence that he reads the bible "correctly". But, what do I know... I just live in sin (or so I'm told).
9:57 AM
Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Let's move backwards, shall we? Parklife, we all live in sin. One of the gifts of the Reformation was the acknowledgment that we are always both justified and still trapped in sin - at least in this life. So, don't sweat it. Somehow, I think God has a bit more to do than be angry at you for sharing a home and life with the person you love.

Second, Brian, the reason folks equate gay sex with bestiality is because they are ignorant. Also, straight fundies are mightily interested in what goes on in private between gay folks because they're interested. Why else?

Jim, as someone who has been following the morphing of fundamentalism away from gay-bashing and fetus-hugging, I know whereof you speak. I think that many older fundies would be uncomfortable in a church where they couldn't differentiate themselves from others by their purity of intent and hatred of difference.

Alan, he's not hitting on you. Flirting, maybe . . .

Marshall, Marshall, Marshall - you nailed it, buddy. All us liberal types invented the idea of hatred of gays and lesbians because, obviously, in a country where in thirty-eight states it is legal to fire a person for their sexual orientation; in a country that insists on defining a waning institution as limited to a man and a woman, legally excluding gays and lesbians from the legal benefits of marriage; in a country where many still are forced to live in hiding, for fear of the reactions of family and friends; where a young man can be brutally beaten and killed for the horrid sin of trying to pick up another young man - yes, you are so right, homophobia is a figment of liberal imagination.

"Driven by their urges"? Marshall, even closing in on my 42nd birthday, I'm driven by my urges, too. To eat. To sleep. To be with my wife as often, as well, as possible. To shelter my children. I have all sorts of urges, in common with every other human being I know. The only difference between a gay man and me, is they direct their romantic feelings towards another man. Period.

You know, I have to wonder, in all seriousness. Marshall, you rant about how evil homosexual sex is. I have to wonder - have you ever seen lesbian porn? C'mon, like all guys you've taken a peek at the sight of two women having sex even once, haven't you? Do you know why such is so prevalent? Because straight guys like to watch that kind of thing!! At least I will admit that I have, on occasion, glimpsed such images.
2:00 PM
C said...

Do y'all not realize that Dumbledore is a fictitious character, who appearantly spent the last 7 books in the imaginary closet.

Great example to all those closeted gay wizards out there.
7:43 PM
C said...

Sorry, my analogy was incomplete. Although Dumbledore is a fictitious character, who appearantly did spend 7 books in the closet. His is, alas, not a coming out gay pride moment. Instead he was outed by his "mother". Therefor we need to add for all those closeted gay wizards out there, beware. You never know when those you thought loved you will turn on you.
8:15 PM
Finally, excerpts from a post and comments on November 2, 2007:
. . . I don't know of any "liberal intellectuals" who want to "push sex" down kid's "throats". On the other hand, as there is nothing intrinsically wrong with human sexuality, and forewarned is forearmed, I also think there is nothing wrong with educating kids about sexual difference from an early age. There is such a thing as age-appropriate information; thus, my wife and I have already had several general discussions with our older daughter, who is 10, especially as regards some of the upcoming changes her body will go through (she did not take the first of these talks well at all, poor thing). In Marshall Art's world, it is child abuse to educate our children about human sexuality, and to teach them the acceptance of the wonder of human variety when it comes to the sexual expression of humanity. Wow. . . .


Are you saying you're PROUD that your greatgrandmother was a bastard? That her parents were weak-willed crotch centered people? I would find it unfortunate to find such in my ancestry no matter the liklihood.

I do love the whole "weak-willed crotch centered people" line, although calling my great-grandmother, Sarah Gabriella Rockwell Shores (who has given her names to two different members of my family), a bastard is a bit much. What in the world could I possibly gain for having some kind of opinion about the way people lived? Especially people who lived in 1863? I mean, honestly, these folks are mostly names on paper, with a yellowing photo or two of them in their later years being the only remnants of lives long and varied. Sitting around in judgment would be a bit of a waste of time.

As for the provenance of the aforementioned great-grandmother, I have ancestors who were ex-communicated from the Catholic Church because, as a priest and a nun in Germany, they fled to America, where they founded a family in Chicago. One of their children became a bishop in the Church of the Brethren, a forerunner of the Evangelical United Brethren, which in the course of events, joined and helped form the United Methodist Church. This man's sister was another great-grandmother.

If I didn't think it would get back to me in a way that I would prefer it not, I could speak of my mother's intention to have five children, and the five different men she had already picked out to father each of them. Oops, I mentioned it, didn't I? Ah, well. Suffice it to say, she found one man who did the job quite well.

Every family tree has all sorts of stories and storied lives in it. I think it makes life far more interesting that we have people who lived real lives, than people who somehow fit some kind of preconceived idea of how people should live.

Anonymous said...

proud,not proud,thats NOT the point. The point is that the more things chnge the more they stay the same. I beleive that you originally mentioned it to make a point about human sexuality. Marshall has some real issues with sex. Before the Victorian era,people were much more open and realistic about sex.It was not uncommon for babies to be born out of wedlock . In the days of the early settlers,and as the west opened up,and I mean west like NYS and Ohio,after the Revolution,people might not see a clergy member for months or even years. Couple LIVED together. They may have a number of children before they actually could legally marry. In the mountains of West Virginia and the Carolina's ,the tradition of hand fasting,brought over form their Scottish forebears was considered 'ok'. Then eventually,if they found a man of the cloth,they may actually marry. And why did they do this? BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO HAVE SEX.Because r eally ,what else did they have and the drive for sex is as strong and legitimate a drive as the drive to eat or drink or pee. Marshall needs to accept the fact that even he may have had weak-willed crotch centered people,in his past and I am sorry that he doesnt want to be one himself. ok,thats it from the first person named after the bastard great grandmother ,I am going to go see my daughter,the second person named after the bastard great grandmother. I wonder what marshall would say if he knew we have a sister and cousins who have had a child out of wedlock...."gasp"....Love ya...

7:55 AM
Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

You make a good point about the legitimacy and power of the sex drive, oh Most Senior of Our Generation. People will go without food, sleep, they will set aside any rational consideration of their best interest - all for some nookie. Some people master this desire (please, insert pun here about being bated to master it) and others have neither the will nor the capacity to do so. The former are called saints. The latter are most of the members of my extended family, especially on my mother's side.
12:57 PM
Democracy Lover said...

This seems to be the natural outcome of religion like that of your friend Marshall Art.
6:37 PM
Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I think I will pay to have the following grave marker made: Sarah Gabriella Shores, 1865-1936, Bastard

Maybe om her husband's I will have it read, Bird Shores, 1862-1932, Bastard's Husband

Eye-catching, no?
7:07 PM
Marshall Art said...

I'm sorry, but isn't "bastard" the proper term for a child born out of wedlock? That's like being pissed if I call her a woman. She is what she is. The question was, are you proud of her for her lack of control?

To DL, who believes a billion wrongs make a right, it doesn't matter how things were back in the day. We live in the here and now. For we sad fools who take God's Word seriously, we believe sex outside of a traditional marriage is wrong and sinful. Which it is. And your cute link is irrelevant to this discussion and unrepresentative of the type of person I am. Thanks anyway.

You sad sacks represent the underlying cause of the sorry state of society as regards all things sexual. Thanks to liberal attitudes like yours, there's been 40+million abortions since Roe v Wade, STDs are rampant and not uncommon amongst even pre-teens, more rapes, more broken marriages, and a recent film about the joys of bestiality (I believe it got play at Sundance). But I'M the goofy one. I'm nuts because I'd prefer a higher national character and an end to the "they're gonna do it anyways" cowards and quitters that you represent.

Geoffrey, muh man, I've just said a quick prayer for your girl. To alert a child to the changes they will undergo is one thing. To present perversions as simply sexual diversity is reprehensible. As things are going now, don't be surprised if she winds up pregnant early with the very decisions she didn't need to make and wouldn't have to if she was taught to put sex in it's proper place. Those who think sex is a more powerful urge than eating or sleeping need to seek counseling.

AS to what "liberal intellectuals" want to push sex down kids throats, see California and Massachusetts for that. In Mass, they had a case where a father had a restraining order placed on him after complaining about his kindergarden age child being taught about homosexuality. California promotes it as well. It's happening and it's all thanks to idiot liberals who think even kids are sexual beings who need to explore their sexuality. (See Judith Levine)

Sure they're gonna do it anyway. Sure sex is a powerful desire. Sure, most people don't give a flyin' rats ass about consequences when they want to dip their wicks. But there's nothing noble, loving or holy about it whatsoever. It's people lowering themselves and you people are party to all the negatives that go with it.
1:01 AM
Marshall Art said...

BTW, the vids didn't play well when I clicked on them. Give me the bands and song titles and I'll have to view them by going directly to YouTube as opposed to hitting your link. I think it's a problem with my ancient computer.
1:02 AM
Alan said...

MA writes, "You sad sacks represent the underlying cause of the sorry state of society as regards all things sexual."

This from a guy who apparently can't have a conversation about sex or sexuality without talking about bestiality. I and my other sad sack friends spend exactly 0.00% of our time thinking about such things, and yet for folks like M.A. that's apparently one of the first things that come to mind. Creepy.
8:53 AM
Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Marshall, my daughter does not need your prayers. I am teaching her to accept people as they are, not as she, or I, or anyone else, thinks they should be. God made them, that should be good enough for anyone.

And, no, "bastard" is not an acceptable term to describe anyone. Neither is "illegitimate". Whether it is my great-grandmother we are talking about, or my nephew who currently has a full-ride scholarship to Dartmouth, or whomever, they are human beings, period. I do not judge the way other people live their lives, whether they are related to me or not.

"Those who think sex is a more powerful urge than eating or sleeping need to seek counseling." There have been numerous studies, on both rats and humans, that show this is in fact the case. I don't need to seek counseling. You need to seek out some serious scientific research.

"The question was, are you proud of her for her lack of control?" I answered that question. If you didn't get my answer, so be it. Did you, by the way, notice in my sister's comments that she indicated there might just be a possibility there exists in your family tree some weak-willed crotch-centered people? Of course, you would probably refuse to accept them, or judge them harshly if that were the case.

Why in the world should I possibly waste any effort considering the way people lived their lives 134 years ago? Or even 5 years ago? I have enough worries about my own life, and trying to make sure I don't screw it up, without passing along condemnations of the way other people choose to lives their lives.

I feel sorry for you, Marshall. I do not mean that in a condescending way, nor am I being flippant. You go through life intent upon fitting people in to boxes, one labeled "homo", another labeled "weak-willed", another labeled "bastard", and I don't know how many other boxes you might have. You can't just accept that people are just people. Sometimes they are weak, sometimes they are strong. Sometimes they make mistakes, sometimes they do the right thing (even if the right thing isn't always what is right by others' standards). Is it any wonder you have this huge chip on your shoulder? I just refuse to accept whatever box you try to fit me in, no matter how hard you try. It must be tiring trying to pre-judge everyone you meet and deal with, rather than just accept they are who they are.

We are teaching our daughter that sex is a beautiful gift from a wonderful God. As such, it is precious, and not to be wasted willy-nilly. It does indeed require strength of will to resist many of the urges she, and all human beings, feel and will feel as she gets older. As such, we are teaching her, by example, that she can come to us, at anytime, with any question, any concern, any problem, and not be yelled at, judged, ridiculed, or turned away. We are also insisting that there is a large sphere of privacy about her life that we will not intrude upon, and she should not allow others to do so, either.

Finally, we are teaching her that people love in different ways. The important thing is that they love others. You, it seems, just cannot comprehend that possibility. Most of the same-sex couples I know have been together far longer, and far stronger, than most married couples. Their being together is abiding, deep, and a profound testament to the power of love in a society that devalues their very existence as fellow members. I wish that you could see that, but your Procrustean Bed does not allow for that kind of difference to be appreciated. More pity for you, really.

There are many things wrong with our society. One of the biggest things that is wrong, from my own point of view, are people who demand conformity to a very narrow range of behaviors, insist that this range is the only acceptable pattern for truly human living, and dismiss those who live differently as not just socially, but ontologically, deviant.

Your "liberal intellectuals" sound more like judges to me. I do not know of the case you are talking about. On the one hand, it is acceptable for a parent to complain if a school district is teaching his or her children things that run counter to his or her own moral code. On the other hand, to insist that such teaching stop for all children everywhere is also wrong. The parent so offended is within his or her right to remove the child from school. Teaching acceptance of difference is part of socializing children to live in a society awash in all kinds of difference. Should a parent wish a child to grow up with a narrow, judgmental, prejudiced view of the world, that is that parent's right. It is most certainly not the parent's right to insist that all parents everywhere must conform to such a narrow, bigoted viewpoint. That is another thing that is wrong with society.
6:03 PM
Erudite Redneck said...

Re, 'I'm sorry, but isn't "bastard" the proper term for a child born out of wedlock?'

Well, no. MA. It's about as proper as the word "nigger" is for one who is black.
9:03 PM
Brian Spolarich said...

I have a fairly visceral reaction to folks on any end of whatever spectrum who, frankly, sound really pissed off most of the time.

When we start talking about life in the Church, I find it particularly striking that it is the "conservatives" who almost always are the ones who tend to deal in language of judgment and condemnation. This just seems ironic given that these folks, I suspect, perceive themselves as upholding what they see as God-given truths and moral absolutes.

For in all of this, I wonder how they fit this into their theology of Jesus. I can guess of course, but the more I learn about Christ's life, relationships, and teachings, I have a pretty hard time squaring the Jesus, and the God who sends him, I find in the Greek scriptures with what I hear coming from the conservatives.

Those folks never preach any Good News! Jesus was someone whose beliefs were guided by his relationships, not his relationships by his beliefs. He broke bread with prostitutes, Roman collaborators, and diseased people -- akin to sitting down with the queers and other sexual deviants that MA rails so strongly against here.

I wonder if the folks who claim to speak for Jesus would do the same today.
11:15 AM
Marshall Art said...


Having a relationship with a sinner was Jesus idea of a doctor healing the sick, not the healthy. He never EVER pretended that their behavior is acceptable in God's eyes and the directive, "Go and sin no more" was commonly use by Him. So, like your friends here, your concept of who Christ was and what He was about is skewed horribly. If anyone disagrees with this, please refer me to the verse that demostrates His acceptance of sinful behavior. If anything, her tightened the rules so that it wasn't enough to not commit adultery, He taught it was just as wrong to lust (what passes for love for most lefties), and that it wasn't enough to not smack someone, but to refrain from being angry or hating one's enemies. The thing to remember is that Jesus' beliefs were guided soley by God's Will, and that is one of the main things He sought to teach us. His beliefs were NOT guided by relationships. Unless you have Scriptural support.

Also, I don't think your perception of conservatives is on the mark, either. We aren't judging, for no judgement is necessary when sinners are blatantly sinning. But we are hoping to remind folks of what God taught us through Scripture and we try to counter the fantasies of those who pretend that THEY'RE prayer and meditations have given them revelations that are contrary to Biblical teaching. The accusations come after we've pointed out the error of another's ways, and frankly, if the errors weren't out in the open, being pushed legislatively or through the courts, you'd have little about which to worry. So basically, you're giving me crap because I reminded you the speed limit is only 40MPH. Don't go telling me the posted limit isn't for everyone. God's aware of our "diversity". He's unconcerned, it seems to me, but more so that we conform with HIS wishes as clearly expressed in Scripture.

So I'm not condemning anyone or putting anyone in boxes. That's not my job. But I would be a sorry Christian if I didn't respond to clearly contrarian, non-Christian precepts labeled as Christian. BTW, I don't care how many homosexual couples you know. You don't know enough hetero couples if you think that homosexuals are somehow more likely to remain monogomous. That's crap.

Another sidebar: I don't buy any "scientific" research purporting to insist that the lack of sex affects lifespans. It cannot be confirmed one way or the other, and it diminishes your fellow man as well as God's power to sustain those who follow His Will.

For Alan, also from the Kruse-Safford school of rebutting things not said,

My only referrence to bestiality is in the PROPER grouping of that, homosexual behavior, and other sexual sins. If I was to use instead "adultery", it wouldn't have the same effect since those like yourself and Geoffrey don't view such things as sinful if there's "love" driving it. The same goes for "fornication" or incest or several other examples of that which is forbidden by God. Only hetero-sex between a man and his wife (woman) are sanctioned, or seemingly more precisely, tolerated, by God. Do you honestly believe that those who DO engage in bestiality believe that they're doing anything wrong? Do you believe adulterers or fornicators do? Of course you don't, and I know Geoffrey doesn't, based on his comments. What the hell, it's diversity after all. Sorry if God's preferences conflict with yours. His did with mine before I got married, and also with a few others with which I still struggle.

For all,

According to Merriam-Webster, the first listed definition of "bastard" is---an illegitimate child.

Though you don't like the term "illegitimate child", the definition is that which I had in mind in describing Geoff's ancestor. "Nigger" is a slang term, yet "Negro" is a legitimate definition from years past. Political correctness has removed it from the common lexicon, but it carried no more negative connotation than did "caucasion"(SP). "Bastard" is used also as an epithet, but it is still the proper name for one born out of wedlock. Except to lefties, for whom there is no such thing as sexual sin. To their detriment.

For Geoffrey,

I need from you Scriptural support that sex is a "wonderful gift from God". I can't recall anything that would suggest such a thing. I've explained in detail at my blog that sex is a specific biological function, that it contains a pleasurable element that guarantees that it gets done for the survival of our species. It is man who has elevated sex to some lofty position due to man's desire for self-gratification. So you can teach your kids all the psuedo-intellectual touchy-feely crap that you like, but it doesn't square with the God you claim to worship.

And therein lies the real trouble. I read Scripture and seek to conform to what I read there. So if there's any intolerance going on, it's by my Lord for those who insist on doing their way rather than His. I merely remind and relate what it was that He has revealed to us in Scripture. YOU GUYS on the other hand, seek to force Scripture to conform with what you want to do, how you think things should be, and your version of who and what God is. You've "made Him bend to your religion, Him resurrected from the grave." -Ian Anderson
10:06 PM
Marshall Art said...

One more thing, if I haven't addressed it already:

I don't know about the sexual practices of my ancestors. I would not be surprised to find things of which I wouldn't approve. I've committed sins of my own and don't approve of them either, even those for which I wish I had dispensation. None of that matters, whether or not "I" approve or not. What matters is whether or not God approves. Should I learn of some unsavory info regarding my great-great-great-great whatever, yes, I would be disappointed to learn of it. My wish is that all conform to God's Will, not mine. I certainly don't want to see more conform to yours, and that's for sure.
10:11 PM

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Music

Some samples of one of my favorite "oldies" singing groups, The Platters.

"Twilight Time"

"Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"

"The Great Pretender"

An Apology And An Explanation

I lost my cool. I read the words, and I saw nothing more but red. Lashing out in anger, I forswore cool, detached deliberation and observation.

I came home from work this morning, and as I sat and ate a delicious piece of homemade banana bread, was checking this post out, and I saw that I had made a mistake. I compounded this initial mistake - bringing up the issue of abortion, then getting caught up in a discussion of it with Marshall and Neil - by being baited. Neil waved the lure in front of me, and I latched on. He called me a "fake Christian", and rather than just snicker, I blew my stack.

I am not angry at the words I wrote. They have, at least, the virtue of honesty. What I regret is that I allowed myself to get in to a pissing contest with Neil over something as petty as who is the better Christian. I daresay we both probably end up on the "pretty bad" scale most of the time, like most of us. For that, I am sorry.

I also never should have mentioned the holy fetus. I brought up the issue to highlight what I see as the cynical manipulation of a certain group of Americans - pro-lifers - by politicians who have not nor ever intend to end the practice of abortion, as it is far too successful (or at least had been for years) a money-raising and electioneering issue. I noted not only the lack of any serious discussion of abortion; immigration was also off the table this fall, because the Republicans knew they had lost much of the Latino vote with their anti-immigration rhetoric of the previous year.

Yet, rather than stick to the central point I was trying to make - left with few cultural/social wedge issues with a whole lot of "oomph", the Republicans were left with anti-gay prejudice - I got sucked in to a discussion I should have avoided completely.

I should note for the record, however, that my experience as an escort at a Washington, DC woman's health clinic in the winter of '90-'91 disabused me of any naivete I should have about the "compassion" pro-life Christians would have for single women in crisis. The scenes I briefly described there - of people screaming out "whore", "murderer", the pelting with little plastic fetuses - do not include the fact that I stopped being an escort because I feared for my own safety. The whole pelting with fetuses ended up with me getting a cut beneath my left eye; a DC cop told me "tough titty" (his exact words), I think because he was as afraid of the barely-controlled hate and rage to wade in and make an arrest as I was afraid of the same thing to brave another trip through the gauntlet. What needs to be recalled is that this was happening in the midst of a wave of domestic terrorism against abortion providers - clinic bombings and the murder and harassment of ob-gyns who provided the service - and everyone was on edge. Yet, to see people who called themselves Christian, their faces twisted in rage and hate, shouting at young women that they were damned for all eternity just for stepping foot inside a Planned Parenthood clinic disabused me for all time that the pretense to any facade of "compassion" was anything more than a bunch of nonsensical rhetoric.

I had not thought of those couple weeks of volunteer work in a long time, yet in our discussion it all came rushing back to me. The differences between the faces of fear and confusion of the young women, and the twisted masks of rage of the crowds barely kept back by police barriers was quite vivid. To then be told by Neil that I was a fake Christian because I did not revere the fetus enough was quite enough. He may wish to dissociate himself from those such as they, but I cannot separate them, because of my own experiences. These same people would sit and pray for the "baby" about to "be killed", just after spitting on a woman in need of help and a young man (me) whose presence was necessary to protect them from their Christian compassion.

So, for falling in to a neatly-laid trap, I apologize. For losing my cool at a silly, meaningless school-yard taunt, I apologize. For what I said - at least most of it, anyway - I do not apologize.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jesus Is Not God

I was trying to remember the exact wording, so I held my breath for the plunge and found it:
Is the Bible the Word of God?

The Bible directly quotes God roughly 3,000 times and the New Testament writers quote the Old Testament as the Word of God 320 times. Keep in mind that some of those references covered whole sections of scripture and not just one verse.

Also, Jesus claimed to be God, so all the “red letters” would be Biblical claims to be the Word of God.[emphasis added]

Now, I realize that as a liberal my Scriptural knowledge isn't up to some others, but I do not recall, in any of the Gospel accounts, Jesus saying, "I am God." Indeed, that was one of the false charges laid against him by the Pharisees, as duly noted by all the Gospel writers.

In any event, as Christian theology developed over the ensuing three centuries, trying to understand who and what, exactly, they were dealing with in the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth, there developed this little thing called the Doctrine of the Trinity. To say, as was stated above, that "Jesus said he was God", would be to put heretical remarks in the mouth of Jesus, because Jesus was not God. In Trinitarian language, Jesus was the fully divine, fully human incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. Now, it is true that the Three Persons cannot be separated (the heresy of modalism); all Divine Acts are the act of the One God acting in Three Persons. Thus, Creation by the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Spirit. The Incarnation was the embodiment of the Son, by the Father, through the power of the Spirit. While trinitarian language is clunky, to be sure, and as confusing in and of itself as the doctrine is, to say as was said above "Jesus said he was God" or, slightly differently, Jesus "was" God or "is" God depending upon your tense preference for the verb is not only wrong, it is heretical.

Just thought I'd toss that out there.

Marshall Art Likes Me

At least enough to link to me. Check it out, and let me know what you think.

You Know What They Say About A Picture . . .

To all those who think that western civilization will fall if two men or two women are allowed to have the same legal status and privileges as a married couple, here's a photo that sums up my own feelings:

This is the face of the future. Deal with it.

Virtual Tin Cup

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