Category Archives: People

It’s all relationship

Persecution: a chilling reminder of the Holocaust

Persecution: noun. Hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race, political or religious beliefs

Today I hiked up to Portland’s amazing Japanese Garden. Close by is the small but extremely poignant memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

Almost 25 million civilians perished in Europe in World War II, almost 6 million Jews and millions of others [homosexuals, liberals and intellectuals, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, labor leaders, etc.] fell victim to racial hatred and premeditated murder carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators…  Hitler blamed these people for the country’s post- WWI woes and promised stability.

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At the memorial are bronze castings of the things that the men, women and children had to leave behind as they fled for their lives (only to die of starvation or gassing soon after). A doll, a broken violin, a book, a boot and some spectacles, a teddy bear.

These were people who lived and loved, worked and played, just like you and me. Am I being melodramatic? Maybe. But enough hate has been unleashed since the election of DT that we see America’s underbelly. The man himself is a narcissist and sociopath with zero compassion for others. Nor do the people he wants to appoint instill any faith in me.

Someone named Elliott Lustzig wrote about Hannah Arendt’s book on the rise of totalitarianism what  a couple of days ago:

Decent liberals in of 1930s Germany would “fact-check” the Nazis’ bizarre claims about Jews, as if they were meant to be factual. What they failed to understand, she suggests, is that the Nazi’s Jew-hating statements were not statements of fact, but declarations of intent. So when someone would blame the Jews for Germany’s defeat in WWI, naive people would counter by saying there’s no evidence of that.

What the Nazis were doing was not describing what was *true*, but what would *have to be true* to justify what they planned to do next. 

Did 3 million “illegals” cast votes in this election? Clearly not. But fact-checking is just a way of playing along with their game. So… Trump may be saying that 3 million illegals voted, but what he means is: I’m going to steal the voting rights of millions of Americans.

This has already happened in several GOP-led states where they’ve used voter ID laws, restricted voting sites and restricted voting hours, to make it very difficult for minorities, immigrants, students and the poor to vote.

Fact-checkers are exhausted trying to keep up with the blizzard of lies coming from Trump and his representatives. And they don’t give a fuck.

Yeah. I’m upset.

Parallel Planets: right wing’s grip on reality

[A repost from 2009. The GOP is still out there in lala land.]

Parallel: adj. extending in the same direction, everywhere equidistant, and not meeting

Planet: n. one of the large bodies that revolve around the sun in the solar system

This was quite a week in la-la land, where hate crimes are a reflection of one’s faith, a decrease in one’s taxes is a cause for a taxpayer revolt, and patriotic disgust at the duly elected Obama administration is sufficient reason for Texas to secede.

The unhappy rightmost fringe of the GOP exists not only on a different planet from everyone else on earth, they also run arguments that directly contradict other of their pet arguments.

We’ll take Tony Perkins first (of the Christian group – Family Research Council). He has created a website “fighthatecrimes.org” to OPPOSE a bill currently in Congress that says people who harm other people because they’re different (gay) will be prosecuted.  Isn’t the first rule of Christianity, “Love Your Neighbor as yourself?”

Then we have the TeaBaggers, who are protesting Anything and Everything Obama – currently “taxation without representation” – even though American voters went resoundingly for Obama last November and 69% support him today. And even though almost all of the protesters’ taxes will be lower, thanks to his tax cuts.

Gail Collins at the NY Times notes:

Have you ever noticed that the states where anti-tax sentiment is strongest are frequently the same states that get way more back from the federal government than they send in? Alaska gets $1.84 for every tax dollar it sends to Washington, which is a rate of return even Bernard Madoff never pretended to achieve. Yet there they were in Ketchikan waving “Taxed Enough Already!” signs and demanding an end to federal spending.

Then we go to Texas, where Governor Rick Perry (whose hair is almost as perfect as Senator John Boehner’s or Ex-Gov Blagojevich) thinks Texas should secede from the United States.  (And wasn’t Todd Palin into that as well, up in Alaska??)

Collins continues:

Have you noticed how places that pride themselves on being superpatriotic seem to have the most people who want to abandon the country entirely and set up shop on their own?

“What a great crowd,” Perry twittered, referring to the protesters he addressed in Austin, some of whom were waving American flags and yelling “Secede!”

Back when we protested the Iraq war, we were called unpatriotic and much worse; we were called traitors. “You’re either with us or you’re with the enemy…”

What makes this tax season so different from a couple hundred tax seasons that preceded it?  Last week’s protests were almost exclusively populated by white folks… Could it have anything to do with racism??

Need I mention that Obama is black?

Angry people need scapegoats – it’s the Mexicans taking our jobs and raking in welfare; it’s the black guys taking over the government.  But no one wants to admit being racist so instead they protest taxes, regulations, religious “persecution”.

Palin’s Party now…

Palin: n. Alaska’s almost former governor, who giddily and incoherently quit her job last week. (“No more politics as usual!”)

Party: n. that would be the Republican party, the party of the hypocritical Christian right

I hoped never again to have to use the P word that ends -alin. But here we are, confronting that woman from Wasilla.  Frank Rich at the NY Times says:

In the aftermath of her decision to drop out and cash in, Palin’s standing in the G.O.P. actually rose in the USA Today/Gallup poll. No less than 71 percent of Republicans said they would vote for her for president. That overwhelming majority isn’t just the “base” of the Republican Party that liberals and conservatives alike tend to ghettoize as a rump backwater minority. It is the party, or what remains of it in the Barack Obama era.

71% of Republicans would trust this woman to be the CEO of this country???? To keep the economy on an even keel? to negotiate with Iran or North Korea? to resolve the health care crisis? even to bake cupcakes for Piper’s birthday?

That’s why Palin won’t go gently into the good night, much as some Republicans in Washington might wish. She is not just the party’s biggest star and most charismatic television performer; she is its only star and charismatic performer. Most important, she stands for a genuine movement: a dwindling white nonurban America that is aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind. Palin gives this movement a major party brand and political plausibility that its open-throated media auxiliary, exemplified by Glenn Beck, cannot. She loves the spotlight, can raise millions of dollars and has no discernible reason to go fishing now except for self-promotional photo ops.

The essence of Palinism is emotional, not ideological. Yes, she is of the religious right, even if she winks literally and figuratively at her own daughter’s flagrant disregard of abstinence and marriage. But family-values politics, now more devalued than the dollar by the philandering of ostentatiously Christian Republican politicians, can only take her so far. The real wave she’s riding is a loud, resonant surge of resentment and victimization that’s larger than issues like abortion and gay civil rights.

And the scary thing is that to the 71% of Republicans who would vote for her, being an uneducated gun-totin’ religious fanatic is a PLUS! Don’t give me facts, give me red meat.   Don’t give me a hand up, give me a pitchfork.

Resentment is toxic, and that’s what Palinistas feed on. I only hope the remaining 29% of relatively sane Republicans can bring a sufficient number of their party buddies around or the GOP is doomed.

Or America is.

President Peter: Rev. Morales heads UUA

President: n. leader of an organization – by election, appointment or personal decision

Peter: n. my old friend Rev. Peter Morales

Rev. Peter Morales, UUA President!

Just returned from Salt Lake City, where a couple thousand Unitarian Universalists from around the country convened for their/our annual General Assembly or GA. Although the workshops, talks, worship services and meet-greets are always worthwhile, this year I went to pimp for Peter – working on the campaign to elect him president of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

And he won! Decisively – with 58% of the votes. I call him “Pope Peter”.  (“President”  is the closest UUs get to pontiff status.)

A combination of factors that led to his victory, IMHO:

  • A clearly articulated platform, with specific goals
  • An opponent whose platform was fuzzy and vaguely stated
  • A richly varied background of multicultural experience ( including in the business world), world travel, education, success
  • Skillful ease with public speaking – without notes
  • Personal charm and sense of humor

I was particularly invested in the campaign because it was I who first brought Peter and his family to a UU church in 1994. The exposure took, and the rest is history.

Now the real work begins. Ours is a venerable but TINY denomination, not natively given to evangelism. Either we grow in numbers and presence or watch ourselves become an interesting footnote in American religious and intellectual history.  The budget has been slashed by 20%.  So whatever gets done, must be done with less.

I send him white light…

Pew on pew-sitters’ support of torture

Pew: n. Pew Research Center, a non-partisan center that looks at American values, religion, and the public life.

Pew-sitter: n. a person who goes to church regularly (the bench is called a pew).

Churchgoers more likely to back torture, survey finds

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new analysis.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week — 54 percent — said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than 6 in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only 4 in 10 of them did.

Honestly this doesn’t surprise me one whit. Jack Cafferty at CNN asked viewers for comments and here are some choice ones:

–Pastors need to address the paradox and say, “You can’t be pro-life and at the same time be pro-death penalty, pro-guns, and pro-torture.”

–I’m not sure that the ‘faithful’ finding torture acceptable should surprise us. Isn’t that what Islamic fundamentalists do? All radicalized forms of thinking lack innate tolerance — that’s what radicalism does, whether it’s based on religion, politics, culture, money or anything else.

–Why? Why?! Really? Jack, c’mon… Can you say, “Crusades?” Can you say, “Holy War?” Can you say, “Jihad?” Nobody loves man’s inhumanity to man more than those who have God on their side.

–Having been tortured sitting through all of those sermons, I think it’s no wonder churchgoers want to share the misery.

Premier of President Obama’s primo first 100 days

Premiere: n. First in occurrence; first showing; highest importance

Primo: adj. of exceptional quality, first class, kickass

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Al Rodgers has assembled a fantastic collection of photographs and accomplishments from President Obama’s first 100 days in office.  It’s not to miss.  Some of the pictures move me to tears.

And what his administration has accomplished so far is mind-boggling, given the radioactive garbage dump Bush and Cheney left us with.

YES WE CAN!

Peter for President – of the Unitarian Universalist Association

Peter: n. Rev. Peter Morales, Senior Minister of Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden Colorado.

President: n. the person (democratically) elected by delegates from the thousand UU congregations in the U.S. to be the leader of and spokesperson for the denomination for the next four years.

Rev. Peter Morales is running for UUA President against the Rev. Laurel Hallman of Dallas. Both are fine candidates, but this election, to be held June 27 at our annual meeting, reminds me of last spring’s primary when I wanted a woman to be US president, but ended up supporting Obama because he was the right person for the job at this time.

Peter is the right man for this job at this time because he has the vision and the practical experience to help us out of our current shrinking mode. With less than 200,000 members you could say we’re but a blip on the American religious landscape these days.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about UUism:

Unitarian Universalism (UUism) is a theologically liberal religion characterized by its support for a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed; rather, they are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. Unitarian Universalists draw on many different theological sources and have a wide range of beliefs and practices.

Both Unitarianism and Universalism have their historical roots in the Christian faith. But by the time they decided to combine their efforts at the continental level in 1961, the theological significance of these terms had expanded beyond the traditional Christian understanding. Today’s UUs appreciate and value aspects of other religions ranging from Judaism to Jainism. Although Unitarian Universalist congregations and fellowships tend to retain some Christian traditions, such as Sunday worship with a sermon and the singing of hymns, they do not necessarily identify themselves as Christians, nor do they necessarily subscribe to Christian beliefs.

The extent to which the elements of any particular faith tradition are incorporated into one’s personal spiritual practices is a matter of personal choice in keeping with Unitarian Universalism’s creedless, non-dogmatic approach to spirituality and faith development.

Let me say this: one of the biggest problems UUs have is articulating what we believe. We have “Seven Principles” which serve more as a code of behavior towards others and towards the natural world than a set of beliefs. Some of us are Buddhists, some are pagans. We have atheists and agnostics too.

It makes it hard to talk about what we’ve got going for us with people who’ve never heard of us! It also makes us really hard to govern when there’s no orthodoxy. A bunch of cats, we are.

Just pulling together a post  into something that actually says something meaningful about UUism is a challenge for me, and I’ve been a UU all my life — as were my parents and grandparents. Pathetic.

Compared to the other candidate, who is even more mush-mouthed than I am, Peter will ( if anyone can) help us share our message more effectively, and herd us into a flock that moves forward together.

His website is here