Saturday, December 22, 2018

Second Feature - Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe - Christmas Party

Maver Moore 
Don Franks 
Cec Linder, 
Frank Perry, 
Alfie Scott
Marty Meriden, 
Linda Sorenson, 
Patricia Hamilton
Gordon Thompson
John Brannock 

I don't remember if I've posted this before, it's from an extremely good series of 13 "full cast productions" based closely on Nero Wolfe novels and novellas.  I wouldn't be surprised if it inspired the excellent dramatizations that starred the great Maurey Chakin and Timothy Hutton and a company of really great Canadian actors whose work on the series is like an encyclopedia of really fine acting. 

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Frederick Forsyth - The Shepherd - read by Alan Maitland

The reading of The Shepherd by the late Alan Maitland is a long established Christmas tradition for listeners of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.  It makes a pretty good monodrama, as there are only two characters who say anything in the story,  Maitland did an excellent job of it.  I seem to recall at least one year they had someone else doing it with him.    I like the maps in this video, they help to understand the story.  A more optimistic sort of ghost story. From what I read online, Fredrick Forsyth was experienced in flying the Vampire, the plane the story happens in from his time in the RAF.

Here's a transcript of a broadcast from the CBC 

Another CBC tradition was Alan Maitland reading The Gift of the Magi

For anyone who might come for the radio drama, I posted a longer one last night, below.

Hit And Misc.

Eldercare chores postponed until tomorrow so I can do something today.   

I am really not enjoying life under Government by fascist cabloid and hate-talk radio.  That's what we've got, what we've been reduced to under government by Supreme Court.   Ruth Bader Ginsberg's health news shows just how stupid it is for us to have to depend on the health of octogenarians on the Court.  I remember being at a loss to explain why she didn't retire when she could have during Obama's presidency when there was some chance she wouldn't be replaced by a Federalist-fascist Society drone in his 40s or 50s.  She'd already been through cancer treatment by then.  I like "notorious RBG" as much as anyone but, really, egalitarian democracy is too important and too much in danger for its safety to repose in the hands of any one person.  

Now it's just going to cement in a catastrophic court.  Me, I favor radical solutions to the problem, expanding the court, limiting terms to ten years,* requiring either a super-majority or a unanimous court to overturn duly adopted laws -there should be an absolute requirement that some of the members of the court have a fairly good knowledge of the mathematics and science needed to understand some of the issues before them, it is sheer lunacy to have the likes of Scalia and Thomas deciding issues that they can't begin to understand and which they, with Trumplike bravado and stupidity, claim they don't need to understand because their legal training gives them a superior road to knowledge.  

I would like to be able to dope-slap all of the Greens the non-Green equivalent and others who, when confronted by the dangers of having Republican fascists control the court drop the prepared lines that they were tired of being "blackmailed over Roe".  The simple fact is that the entire secular left who spouted such slogans and lines as they pushed stupid, never-would-happen pipe dreams IS one of the major sources of our horrible situation.   That play-left - I'm ever more convinced some of it financed by Putin and other oligarchs - needs to be dumped in the burning dumpster that is our too real reality.  

*  A ten year term limit would make the fascist strategy of putting youngish tools on the court irrelevant.   It would be a great equalizer in that regard.  That with a lifetime ban on retired justices having a financial interest in issues that were before them while on the court would take care of the alleged motive of wanting a court which would allegedly be made incorruptible by having members seated till they rot.  If there's one thing the Court has been, from its earliest days, it is corrupt in pretty similar ways that the Congress and Executive have been.  The history of Justices who were slave owners as they corruptly ruled to their own financial benefit was all the proof anyone could have needed that that idea was stupidly unrealistic. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday Night Before Christmas Radio Drama - Don Taylor - The Exorcism: A Christmas Ghost Story

Margaret, Sarah Castleman
Rachel, Susan Fleetwood
Edmond, Kenneth Haigh
Dan, Norman Rodway

Edmund shows Dan around the cottage that he and his wife Rachel have recently renovated. Dan's wife Margaret helps Rachel prepare Christmas dinner. Edmund says that his father, an old-style socialist, greatly dislikes their affluent lifestyle.

Rachel plays the clavichord [in this production, it's a harpsichord] they have bought. She stops, realising that she has no idea what the tune is. Seeing her distress, the others reassure her that she has merely forgotten it. Dan thinks that the mind plays tricks and that thoughts can travel through space and time. To prove that anyone is prone to the power of suggestion, he blindfolds Margaret and tells her he is going to slash her cheek with a cutthroat razor. He then presses an ice cube against her face, making her scream in fear . . . . 

The notes are from another production, this is one that gets redone a bit, apparently.  People just love their horror at Christmastime.  I have politics for that.

I figured I'd post a Christmas themed play.  I thought a comedy but couldn't find  anything.   I found this horror themed one and figured I should give a present for the many people who like a good horror story at Christmas time.  This one is peopled by a bunch of rather dreadful upper middle-class Brits.  I figure if bad things are going to happen to people, it's nice to imagine them being upper class people from an arrogant, comfortable, self-indulgent ruling class.   I wonder if that's what's being exorcised as nothing else seems to be in the play.

I am going to be busy tomorrow so I don't know if I'll get a Saturday night play posted.  If I can I'll post another one.

*  I wrote that down from the on-air credits, sorry if I misspelled any of the names.

Should I Re-post Some of the Yule Pieces I've Done? Nah.

So, another solstice is upon us.  Big whoop.

Am I missing something or has the fashion for people online yowling about how those mean Christians stole the Yule and turned it into Xmas seems to have disappeared?

I can't claim to have been the first to point out what a load of crap that was,  RMJ did it well before I got around to doing it, very well. [Update:  Toltyaso]  When I got around to it I concentrated on what the evidence that the Yule as celebrated by those dear pagans of old included such wonderful things as sacrifice of 9 of each kind of animal, including human beings.  And that included my speculation that with all of that merry old priestly murder, the class of those who were most likely to have been chosen to murder were probably more than a little bit glad to give up paganism for a religion that forbade human sacrifice.  

And, also, too, how post-war neo-pagans adopted some overtly Nazi neo-pagan practices, as part of their cluelessly constructed pseudo-historical religion.   Face it, modern "paganism" has about the same intellectual basis as the "goth" scene which has about the same, uh, intellectual basis as punk or any other ridiculous fashion as lifestyle bullshit.  You'll forgive me but I've been reading about the factual history of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young the past several days and. what with that and seeing the smug puss of Orin Hatch leaving the Senate the other day,  my nice-liberal tolerance of outright lies and bullshit on the basis of being nice and fair is at a very low point just now.  Fairness has nothing to do with it.  I'll save that for the people Hatch has damaged during his putrid career. 

Anyway, I don't think I'll write something new on the topic, either I'm just missing it because I'm spending less time online this year or there's a lot less of that kind of bullshit being spread around among the college-credentialed these days. 

On Seeing Orin Hatch's Smug Face As He Leaves The Senate

I wonder what would happen if I told the next cute little Mormon boys who knock on my door that Joseph Smith was a well known con-man, liar and pimp - that the Mormon lore about how their two-bit scripture was concocted is a load of lies - and, if anything Brigham Young was worse, as have been the steady stream of leaders in Mormonism.  I wonder if they'd be violent.   I've been reading about the actual history of the beginning of Mormonism from the con jobs of Joseph Smith who was a well-known conman in rural New York.  It's pretty amazing how much UNLIKE the origin of the New Testament it is. 

In that podcast of The Bible for Normal People episode that featured Richard Rohr he pointed out that Protestantism tends to make The Bible into an idol (even as Catholicism tends to turn  The Church into one).  I wonder if Mormonism, sprouting up in a generally Protestant milieu hasn't combined the two forms of idolatry.  There are members of all three streams of religion who aren't hard cases and who aren't damaged by the excesses of them but my impression, I'm talking about general aspects of the religious bodies.   But as a political force in the United States, as a bulwark of oppression of women and a religion that turns its leaders into idols (they believe that they will be gods) my impression that Mormonism is worse. 

Well, How Do You Like Your Government By Media Instead Of By Morals?

So many of the slogans of modern, liberalish-libertarianism prove to be totally wrong when they get a test in the laboratory of reality.  With the goings on in Trumpdonia yesterday, this is another of the piously recited tropes of the civil liberties industry that, given the test of time, proves to be a disaster.

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. Thomas Jefferson

Trump, the 100% creation of newspapers, and even more so the TV and fascist hate-talk radio which our idiot Supreme Court made the modern version of newspapers, is the definitive proof  that that quote, as so often mined and recited or, as such clipped quotes generally are understood to be, is stupid. 

As we are finding, a combination of the fascist media in the country, everything from Breitbart and FOX up to the august New York Times and the disastrous Constitutional machine imposed by the slave power to prevent equality, specifically the Electoral College, has given us a president who is an open agent of a foreign despot, be that Vladimir Putin or Recep Tayyip Erdogan, someone who is destroying egalitarian democracy here and a party in congress that refuses to be any kind of check on his idiotically wielded power.

All of the anti-democratic seeds planted by the slave-power and the Northern commercial interests in the original Constitution which didn't produce poison before are bearing fruit now.  The worst seems to have come last.  We've had horrible governments before but none have been worse than the one that governs us now.

The impending danger of a government shutdown, I'm informed, is a product of Trump listening to FOX based scum like Laura Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro, the three idiots on the couch in the morning on that network,  my dear friends, we have, in effect, a government of "newspapers" or what we've replaced them with in the place of government.  Trump's brain IS whatever he has seen on FOX.

I am pretty sure the first place I ever encountered that was on a TV show.  If my misty recollection isn't correct about the medium I know it was the media that gave me that bit of self-serving Jeffersoniana and not a history class.   I've heard it spouted - self-servingly-  in the media, both electronic and print, so as to make that not matter.

It is one of the most serious limitations in the cult of the Founders, the founders fetish that is such a disastrous feature of our so-called life of the mind,  that that collected entity "founders" is, as we all are, limited by what they could have known and the impossibility of them understanding the future.  We live in the future they couldn't have imagined when they wrote the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, it is sheer idiocy to be ruled by their other world which no longer exists.

The absurdity of that founders fetish is well proven in that it has given us the government we have now, under Trump, under George W. Bush, under Democratic presidents so weak from knowing they will be attacked by the predominant right-wing and corporate press that they are pushovers for Republican fascists. 

Constitutional fundamentalism, called "originalism" "strict constructionism" or whatever, is a means of using a comic book reduction of far more complex ideas and it is never done for honest purposes.   Those who are honest in their earnest recitations of such lines are generally pious chumps who will generally take a stupid position that turns out to be bad for egalitarian democracy, enhancing the position of oligarchs and crooks and fascists.

Much as his history of such things as slave holding and slave raping has made me view everything that Jefferson said with a gelid eye, in this case this passage, so idiotically spouted in current usage,  is far less stupid in his original setting of it, a letter he wrote from Paris to Edward Carrington in New York on January 16, 1787.  This is the paragraph that the line occurs in.

The tumults in America, I expected would have produced in Europe an unfavorable opinion of our political state. But it has not. On the contrary, the small effect of those tumults seems to have given more confidence in the firmness of our governments. The interposition of the people themselves on the side of government has had a great effect on the opinion here. I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, and to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them. I am convinced that those societies (as the Indians) which live without government enjoy in their general mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those who live under European governments. Among the former, public opinion is in the place of law, and restrains morals as powerfully as laws ever did any where. Among the latter, under pretence of governing they have divided their nations into two classes, wolves and sheep. I do not exaggerate. This is a true picture of Europe. Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, judges and governors shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions; and experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor.—The want of news has led me into disquisition instead of narration, forgetting you have every day enough of that. I shall be happy to hear from you some times, only observing that whatever passes thro’ the post is read, and that when you write what should be read by myself only, you must be so good as to confide your letter to some passenger or officer of the packet. I will ask your permission to write to you sometimes, and to assure you of the esteem & respect with which I have the honour to be Dear Sir your most obedient & most humble servt.,  Th: Jefferson

In almost every other part of that letter,  Jefferson demonstrates that if he anticipated the media we have, he would have probably cut those often cited lines from the thing.

Our media is not one which deserves the privileges given to it by Jefferson's allies in the Constitutional Convention because it doesn't serve the truth it serves self serving lies.   It attacks and opposes equality, it supports, in every way, "the general prey of the rich on the poor."   It does that because it is owned by the rich and is staffed by people who are either rich (Tucker Carlson, other idiot sons of the oligarchy)  or who want to advance by pleasing and servicing the rich.

It, in no way, performs the function Jefferson imagined that newspapers c. 1787 did.  He in no way could imagine the effect of  lie machines of 24-7-365 cable TV and hate-talk radio as they "penetrate the whole mass of the people".

The post-Sullivan decision, totally unregulated "channel of" free media has not given people, "full information of their affairs" it is the producer of propagandized and ignorant masses, which, in the age of computer analysis which can serve the purpose of ratfucking elections, can impose a regime of minority government of, by and for deluded but racist and ignorant people, corrupting their morals in every way.

As can be seen in the romantic view what he imagined were Indians who were without law, moral restraint was where Jefferson, correctly, put the ultimate power to prevent evil.  Well, part of the libertarian modernist view of things holds that morals are out of style or merely situational or merely the product of social convention or, worst of all, to be determined by the superstition of "natural selection".  Of course, Jefferson, if he had had the habit of effective self-examination, would have known from his own life that depending on moral restraint without effective laws is a guarantee of depravity ruling.  His famous "newspapers over governments" line is bullshit, reality proves it is.

Every evil that Jefferson imagined we could avoid through "newspapers" depended on at least enough of the media to have morals and, foremost among those, was that they would tell the truth.  If you want that to work, you've got to, at the very least, punish them for lying strongly enough to keep them from doing it.  And that doesn't get to the corruption that comes from the media providing constantly distracting entertainment that will prevent enough of us from even paying attention to the truth.  That is something that egalitarian democracy will either fix or it is finished.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


Eldercare responsibilities mean that editing is going to be iffy and bumpy for the next little while.  I mean more so than usual.   

I have to admit it's not that so much as the Trump regime murdering children and getting away with it that has taken the Christmas feeling right out of me.  If it weren't for RMJ's advent postings (best anywhere) I don't think I'd have any.   

Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois Points Out Nielsen Is A Shameless Liar She Proves Him Right

It's hard to keep up with who belongs at the top, or bottom, of the list of disgusting, criminal hypocrites and liars in the Trump regime, I mean other than Trump, the human tsunami of lies,  but Kirstjen Nielsen, Aryan racist criminal,  is never far from the top, or bottom. 

I must say that the shamelessness of the skank is epic as she confirms her status as shameless liar, on national TV, under oath at a congressional hearing, knowing full well that Republican-fascists won't hold her to account.  She is certainly one of those I hope to see do real time in a real prison.   But, you know, Sarah Sanders or any of the rest of them will open their mouth any time now.  I'd love to see them all in prison with almost no exceptions.

One Alternative To The Theistic God Is Far Too Few, One God, May Ideas of God

Before going on from where I left off yesterday morning, giving Elizabeth Johnson's thoughts on what replaces the "classical theistic" conception of God, it's probably a good thing to point out that she, along with most of those who are proposing replacing the god of theism don't believe, for a second, that their ideas are the last word on that.  Part of the idea is that God will always, in countless ways, surpass human abilities to have an even merely adequate conception of God.  The conception of God and the ways that God is spoke about will always be ever changing because as far as human conceptions of God go, that will always be ever changing. Even if God as God is is never changing human limitations will mean that, so far as people will ever think about God, that will always change.  At least that's my understanding of this way of thinking about God.


It is at this historical juncture where speech about God is being reshaped to include intrinsic relatedness to the world, alliance with human flourishing, liberating care for the poor, and greater mystery that feminist theology joins the theological effort, intersecting with these other concerns at every point.   At the same time, feminist theology's fresh language about the mystery of God from the perspective of women's lives and its specific critique of the sexism not only of the classical tradition but also of most reconstructive efforts to date bring a care into the conversation that has not been spoken until now. 

Classical theism emphasizes in a one-sided way the absolute transcendence of God over the world.  God's untouchability by human history and suffering and the all-pervasiveness of God's dominating power to which human beings owe submission and awe.  Is this idea of God not the reflection of patriarchal imagination, which prizes nothing more than unopposed power-over and unquestioned loyalty?  Is not the transcendent, omnipotent, impassible symbol of God the quintessential embodiment of the solitary ruling male ego, above the fray, perfectly happy in himself, filled with power in the face of obstreperousness of others?  Is this not "man" according to the patriarchal ideal?  Feminist thought sees a more intrinsic connection between those characteristics of the theistic God found problematic in nineteenth and twentieth century critiques and the fundamental sexism of the symbol of this God than is usually realized.  

The same holds true for more contemporary discourse.  There is not one religious tradition or theological school existing in the world today, nor one atheistic critique of religious tradition, nor one sociopolitical arrangement nor liberating critique of such structures, nor culture of East or West that yet does justice to the full humanity of women.  Valuable as insights from contemporary theology may b, these are as yet only partial and even dangerous to the degree that they implicitly assume that me, ruling or otherwise, form a universal norm for defining humanity and for speaking about God.  What has failed to come to expression in reinterpreted religious symbol systems and theological language is the human reality of vast numbers of women:  women disbelieving or seeking meaning in the midst of secular culture;  women and their dependent children as the majority of the poor, and consequently the lifting of their voices as the "interruption within the interruption" of liberation theology;  women as bearers of the wisdom of the East; women created in the image of God so truly that their concrete reality can provide suitable metaphor for the holy mystery of God.  As theology began to respond to its tradition of exclusivity in the light of the experience of the "other half" of the human race, the so-called revolution in the concept of God takes a turn into new and unsuspected depths.  

By the time you get to the end of that passage which, in the book goes on to a long and important discourse on Feminist Theology, it's important to understand that, unusually,  the starting point for Elizabeth Johnson's feminist theology is that it is one of a number of different and new theologies that come from differing perspectives AND THAT THEY ARE ALL IMPORTANT.   It's not something that can be dismissed as people defining God as they like based on their identity - any theology that delivers a God devoid of things you probably don't exactly want is probably a theology that buys time to be seen on American TV or radio to bilk the dupes - it is all to be expected of a God too big to fit into human minds contained on one person's (or one identity's thoughts) that God would be liable to more than one interpretation. 

The theistic God that new atheists were slamming and mocking all over the media in the past sixteen or so years is not God.  It was a God constructed out of the very mixed results of trying to square the round God of the Hebrew Bible with, first Greek philosophy and, then, scientistic modernism.  And, not generally being great readers, as Richard Dawkins proved in his featherweight rant, The God Delusion, they didn't even realize that by the time they started their campaign, large parts of theology had moved on.  God as explored in Latino Liberation Theology, Black Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology, Womanist and Mujerista theology, and a myriad of others had already surpassed those limits.  Elizabeth Johnson's book Quest for the Living God devotes chapters to many of these and more theologies. 

Given that I've been focused on the Song of Mary this was something that was necessary to go into, something that I didn't exactly connect till I was typing this passage out. 

The Least Terrible Season of the Year | Christmas on I.C.E. Part 1

This is God's work.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Magnificat - Halsey Stevens

The Good News Singers of Los Angeles, performed on February 17, 1973 at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles.
Kent Kimball, conductor
Rob Skinell, trumpet
Becky Edwards, piano

Sopranos: Claudia Haynes, Norma Krummel, Peggy Schmid.

Altos: Valerie Loskota, Gail Ferris, Becky Edwards.

Tenors: Charles Bunnell, Hayden Jones, Rob Skinell.

Basses: Mark Stevens, Huey Weatherby, Darrel Estel.

I've always liked this setting, it deserves to be performed more and recorded more.  I'm grateful to Kent Kimball for posting this on Youtube, it's a lot clearer than the mp3 that I found several years back.   It would be interesting to hear it with the organ instead of the piano which the score lists as an option, though I really like the piano version with the trumpet.  Very clear and decisive. 

Halsey Steven's choral music is very good, his music should be the subject of a revival.  If American music is still capable of doing that.

What God Don't You Believe In? And A Few Other Ideas On A Recent Article

I started reading this article,  Has Boston Given Up on God?  by Erick Trickey expecting it to be something like what I found it was, a "Surrender Dorothy" on religion, though that's not all it was.  It is worth reading, but worth reading with several doses of salt.

The first load of salt came in me realizing for Trickey "Boston" means, pretty much the elite private schools in Boston and Cambridge and, when I checked every named person to see what their credentialing institutions were, I got this list with, you guess, Harvard being the one most commonly found in the CVs of those, Jewish, Atheist, Christian, Universalist, "none".   The complete list I complied for those who aren't shy about saying where they went to school is

University of Chicago
Boston University (NOT a public university, in case someone might not know and the author teaches "magazine journalism" there.)
Cardinal O'Connor Seminary (the pedophile defrocked priest John Geoghan is mentioned in passing)
and on the CV of a single person, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Notice a pattern?

I would have a lot to say about the many things said in the article.  While it's certainly true the pedophile scandal is responsible for some reduction in church attendance at Catholic churches, I think the fact that it's coming off of several decades by two of the most anti-pastoral Popes and the many equally anti-pastoral bishops and cardinals they appointed has a lot to do with it too.  As well the seriously depleting effects of there not being enough unmarried men who feel called to the vocation of priests and the resulting closure of parishes (in many cases to also pay out compensation to the victims of pedophile abuse) has more than a little to do with that.   When they closed the old church in my town, opening some bull-shit new church in a new "parish" that covers about eight towns, a lot of people who had been life-long church goers stopped going.  Two of my sisters stopped going and both of them had been lectors at mass. As that one thing in the article shows, you'd need to have more space that this long article takes up to cover even that one issue.

But one of the biggest problems with most journalistic treatments of religion is that they take the same view of it that this article does, a determinedly elitist notion which the large majority of people don't participate in and either don't know about or don't care about.  I don't think

Other Churches have other issues.  Perhaps more on that later:

I can say the most interesting thing I found in the article was this.

Like Bethel AME, other congregations are also trying to welcome people alienated from religion. At Temple Israel of Boston, the largest Reform Jewish synagogue in New England, Senior Rabbi Elaine Zecher says many members don’t believe in God. “But then I would say, ‘Well, what God don’t you believe in?’” she says. “Is it a theistic God that is looking down on us? Is it the kind of God that is manifest in the way that people interact with each other? Is it a kind of God that is the still, small voice within us that is likened to our conscience?”

Which encourages me to look more into the problem of what Elizabeth A. Johnson calls either "classical theism" and in another book "modern theism" which is the same thing but put more in terms compatible with a so-called enlightenment conception of reality.   I think Rabbi Zecher puts her finger directly on the formally defined reason that so many people have given up on God, it is because both their own traditions and educations and also the general culture have led them to believe that the very limited, very unbelievable God of theism is the only way to think about God.  I once heard a Unitarian, of all people say that he always asks atheists who aggressively assert that they don't believe in God what they mean by "God" and inevitably he could tell them that he didn't believe in that God, either.

See the earlier post from this morning for more of the critique of theism. 


The article starts characteristically enough at MIT with a well worn path to who I find to be the rather annoying, well known humanist chaplain Greg Epstein, who I think is part of the bogus club that Sherwin Wine started, though I haven't looked it up to see if that's the case. 

I have to say that I've been thinking more about how funny it is for atheists who reject God on the basis of God being an illusion created by people, a projection of human personality, that "man created God in his own image" then go and put Humanity in the role of God.  But my bigger problem is that I think even with the best of intentions such "Humanism" is bound to be even less effective than real Judaism or Christianity or Islam when it comes to making society less depraved than materialism inevitably leads it into being.  And there was this passage:

Kevin Frazier, 25, a master’s student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government attending a Saturday-morning yoga class at Aeronaut Brewing Co., says he was raised Presbyterian but left religion behind as a college student after studying Northern Ireland’s Troubles in Belfast with a human-rights organization. “I think I walked away from religion because I think religion divides people,” he says. He’s still guided by the Golden Rule, and by political philosopher John Rawls’s theory of justice: “If I were randomly going to be placed in someone else’s shoes, that’s how I should think through a decision.”

To start with the problem isn't the adoption of "The Golden Rule" by a contented grad-student or contented college grad in general, it's whether or not a secular adoption of it is effective in action, in the real lives of those who may hold it as an apothem to mouth on occasion.  That's a big enough problem when those who say it believe it is The Law of God expressed in abbreviation.  I'm not convinced that a secular adoption of it as a slogan will have even that mush of a diluted effect across society. 

I will forego extensive commentary concerning the graduates of his university and the Kennedy School, though he should probably watch out for the flying beams that could get into his eyes from hanging out there.  The place is an establishment training ground for the degenerate ruling class.

And I wonder if young Frazier ever asked him about the divisive effects of secularism, of economics, of business, of sports fandom, of Ivy League snobbery and a myriad of other things which the boy probably has not chosen to have any problem with in the way that he decided to impose on all of religion.  I would say that one of the reasons that that is imposed as a fatal flaw on religion when it isn't in any other area of life is because religion is, in fact, probably in the large majority of cases the least divisive thing in life.  Religion, itself, generally has no power to make that kind of thing effective.  The Troubles in Ireland were far more based in ethnic and political and economic resentments than in religion.  If it was a problem with religion, why didn't those extend to the whole of England which is hardly uniform in its religious make up or, in fact, any land.  I doubt there are many places in which there is more peaceful coexistence among religions than in New England.  What makes this particular often heard claim in this article are these two paragraphs.

When Catholic priests do tackle civic issues in Boston today, Kendrick says, they’re more likely to do so in interfaith groups than they used to. “Now,” unlike in the past, he says, “there’s a sense that if you want to do something interfaith, there will be priests present. Because there’s no longer an arrogance. There’s a sense that they now understand that we’re all in this together.”


For strength in numbers, Bethel joined the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, a coalition of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim congregations that speaks out on issues from criminal-justice reform to healthcare to affordable housing. “Now, to move major issues, you need a larger tent, a larger coalition—and even deeper kinds of organizing techniques and political engagement,” Hammond says.

So, which is it?  Religion is too powerful when it is divisive and sectarian or it is more powerful when it is ecumenical, working on an interfaith basis?  Because you don't get to have it both ways.  Though having it all ways has never been a problem for the writers of these kinds of articles, so long as it comes out with religion losing to the "Humanists" and their allies.

Amazon Executive Gets ROASTED By Badass NYC Council Member

Notice the Amazon flack is a former Obama spokesman Jay Carney [Yale].  His stream of bull-shit is just vile.  The point that Sam Seder makes that just about everyone who worked in the Obama administration is cashing out like this is a good one.  Every time I see something like this my already fallen opinion of Obama goes lower and lower.

It makes me glad to have bought nothing from Amazon for a long while now.  The last time it happened I didn't realize the printer toner I bought would come through Amazon with one of its repulsive emoji smiles on the box.  It made me sick to see it.   I think the reason the Majority Report crew came up with for why New York and DC, the better to manipulate the media and power centers is absolutely spot on.  Amazon should be broken up into a million pieces.  Billionaires should be leveled to the level of the workers they exploit.

"Mary sang here about equality. A society with no social classes. Everyone alike."

He has shown the strength of his arms; he conquers those with proud hearts 

Old THOMAS, who can't read but who always talks with great wisdom:  "They are the rich, because they think they are above us and they look down on us.  Since they have the money . . . .  And a poor person comes to their house and they won't even turn around to look at him.  They don't have anything more than we do, except money.  Only money and pride, and that's all they have that we don't."

ANGEL says:  "I don't believe that's true.  There are humble rich people and there are proud poor people.  If we weren't proud we wouldn't be divided, and us poor are divided."

LAUREANO:  "We're divided because the rich divide us.  Or because a poor person often wants to be like a rich one.  He yearns to be rich, and then he's an exploiter in his heart, that is, the poor person has the mentality of the exploiter."

OLIVIA:  "That's why Mary talks about people with proud hearts.  It's not a matter of having money or not, but of having the mentality of an exploiter or not."

I said that nevertheless it cannot be denied that in general the rich person is a proud man,  the poor one. 

And TOMAS said:  "Yes, because the poor person doesn't have anything.  What has he got to be proud of?   That's why I said the rich are proud, because they have the money.  But that's the only thing they have we don't have, money and the pride that goes with having money."

He pulls down the mighty from their thrones and raises up the humble.  He fills the simple with good things and he leaves the rich with nothing.

One said:  "The mighty is the same as the rich.  The mighty are rich and the rich are mighty."

TERESITA:  "Mary says that God raised up the humble.  That's what he did to Mary."

And MARIITA:  "And what he did to Jesus who was poor and to Mary, and to all the others who followed Jesus who were Poor."

I asked what they thought of Herod would have said if he had known that a woman of the people had sung that God had pulled down the mighty and raised up the humble, filled the hungry with good things and the rich with nothing.

NATALIA laughed and said:  "He'd say she was crazy."

ROSITA:  "That she was a communist."

LAUREANO:  "The point isn't that they would say the Virgin was a communist.  She was a communist."

"And what would they say in Nicaragua if they heard what we're saying here in Solentiname?"

Several voices:  "That we're communists."

Someone asked:  "That part about filling the hungry with good things?"
A young man answered:  "The hungry are going to eat."

And another:  "The Revolution."

LAUREANO:  "That is the Revolution.  The rich person or the mighty is brought down and the poor person, the one who was down, is raised up."

Still another:  "If God is against the mighty, then he has to be on the side of the poor."

ANDREA,  Oscar's wife, asked: "That promise that the poor would have those good things, was it for then, for Mary's time, or would it happen in our time?  I ask because I don't know."

One of the young people answered:  "She spoke for the future, it seems to me, because we are just barely beginning to see the liberation she announces."  

As a deep skeptic of the effectiveness of revolution for improving things I have come to think that this basis of a revolution of leveling to equality is the only one that is likely to have a better chance than the kind that have happened so far. 

He helps the nation of Israel his servant, in remembrance of his love; as he has promised to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his descendants forever. 

ALEJANDRO:  "That nation of Israel that she speaks about is the new people that Jesus formed, and we are his people."

WILLIAM:  "It's the people who will be liberated, like before the other people were liberated from the dictatorship of Egypt, where they were treated like shit, changed into cheap hand labor.  But the people can't be liberated by others.  They must liberate themselves.  God can show the way to the Promised Land, but the people themselves must begin the journey. 

OSCAR asked:  "Can you take riches from the rich by force?   Christ didn't force the rich young man.  He said to him; "If you wish . . .' " 

I thought for a while before answering.  I said hesitantly:  "You might let him go to another country . . . "

WILLIAM:  " But not let him take his wealth with him."

FELIPE:  "Yes, let him take it."

The last remark was from MARIITA:  "Mary sang here about equality.  A society with no social classes.  Everyone alike."  


The idea that Alejandro and William had, defining "Israel" in the Magnifcat as "the new people that Jesus formed" and that "we are his people" would certain to be controversial.  If that was what what the author of the song meant instead of, literally,  The "nation" that would be The People of Israel, is more specific than that.  Though you have to look at the whole passage that the phrase occurs in:

He helps the nation of Israel his servant

It defines "Israel" as God's servant, of keeping the role of the Children of Israel as defined in the covenant God made with Abraham the grandfather of Jacob (Israel) the father of the 12 tribes of the "nation Israel".  One of the most significant parts of that covenant was the amendment that God made after Abraham passed the test in Genesis 22 that his descendants were to be those who, on behalf of their faithfulness,  all people would have grace:

All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed My command.  Genesis 22:18,  JPS Bible

I think it's quite a deep insight that William has that peoples' liberation will come through their own choices and actions.*    I don't know if he was thinking about this passage from Genesis which doesn't exactly condition the fulfillment of this codicil of the covenant on obedience to it but notes that's how it has to happen.  That's what would come about in the Exodus narrative and the radical economics of the Mosaic Law which would have certainly led to the least class stratified society in human history if it were enacted. 

The whole thing can be seen as a whole but it isn't laid out in a straight line of discourse.  That's something that surprises me every time I think about things I've heard for more than six decades. 

*As Brueggemann notes, when God frees the Children of Israel he does it through human agency.

"The Heresy Of Theism"

The discussion among the peasant theologians in the passage from The Gospel in Solentiname that I posted yesterday reminded me of the criticism of "classical theism" by Elizabeth A. Johnson.  A lot of atheists would be shocked by that critique, which is hardly limited to her, because all they know of God is contained in that range of ideas, that vocabulary for talking about God.   I have a feeling any criticism of it by religious people would either be incomprehensible to almost all atheists, from what is taken to be on high and down to the even more mindless repetition of that in Youtube-blog comment thread level.   I'am going to give you the critique as given in She Who Is:  The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse.  It will take a couple of days, if not more.  I'm having a particularly busy morning so I won't have time to comment on it, she gives more than enough to think about.

Classical Theism

It has not been just any concept of God that has come under particular and sustained fire since the beginning of the modern era, but that configuration of elements identified in the term philosophical or classical theism.   In a general sense the term theism refers to the concept of God developed by medieval and early modern theology in close contact with classical metaphysics.  It signifies the understanding that there is God (contrary to atheism),  that God is one (contrary to polytheism), and that the one God is not to be identified with the world (contrary to pantheism).   As it developed in the course of medieval reflection and especially as it was systematized in both Protestant and Catholic theology done in the rational spirit of the Enlightenment, theism takes on a precise coloring.  It signifies the so-called natural knowledge of God arrived at primarily through philosophical inference, or that idea of God which separates the one God from knowledge of God's Trinity, places consideration of this one God first, and views this God alone as "himself" apart from any kenosis, incarnation, self-communication in grace, or other self-involving activity in the world. 

Theism in this specific sense views God as the Supreme Being who made all things and who rules all things.  Although architect and governor of the world, it is essential to God's deity that "he" (the theistic god is always referred to in male terms) be essentially unrelated to this world and unaffected by what happens in it so as to remain independent from and unaffected by what happens in tit so as to remain independent from it.  This view therefore excels at stressing divine transcendence, although divine immanence tends to slip from view.  The perfections of the theistic God are developed in contrast to the finitude of creatures, leading to speech about God the creator who is "infinite, self-existent, incorporeal, real, eternal, immutable, impassible, simple, perfect, omniscient, and omnipotent,"  in the descriptive list drawn up by H. P. Owens.

The theistic God is modeled on the pattern of an earthly absolute monarch , a metaphor so prevalent that most often it is simply taken for granted.  As a king rules over his subjects, so God the Lord has dominion over his creatures, a view which, in Sallie McFague's analysis, is intrinsically hierarchical whether the divine reign be accomplished through dominance or benevolence.  Theoretically, theism adheres to the assertion that the mystery of God is beyond all images and conceptualizations.  Yet the history of theology shows how in practice theism has reified God, reducing infinite mystery to an independently existing Supreme Being alongside other beings, a solitary, transcendent power who together with the world can be thought to form a larger whole.  In Herbert Vorgrimler's summary, partially borrowed from the seventeenth-century thinker who first coined this word, theism ias a "conviction of the existence of an absolute, world-transcendent, personal God, who made the world from nothing and permanently sustains it, and who enjoys all those attributes of infinity, almightty power, perfection and so on, about which there was unanimity in Judaism, Christendom and Islam from the Middle Ages onward."

Theism's Demise

With the slow but inexorable breakup of the classical and neoclassical world, theism has found critics on many fronts.  Nineteenth - and twentieth-century forms of atheism repudiate it as an alienating projection of human consciousness, an opium that deadens the pain of social and economic oppression, an illusion motivated by wish-fulfillment, or a hypothesis unnecessary for scientific investigation.  Protest against the occurrence of radical suffering in history, particularly of the innocent, also leads thinkers to reject the theistic God.  A God who could put an end to such misery but instead "allows" it for whatever reason appears orally intolerable.   As the voice of the poor and violently suppressed come to speech, the theistic idea of God is criticized for its supposed neutrality, so easily weighted toward a divine mandate for passivity, obedience, and submission and so often co-opted to sustain unjust civil and ecclesiastical rule.  Interreligious diallogue with the living traditions of the East raises the question of the naive anthropomorphism associated with much of the language about the theistic God and, by making known the paths of Eastern mysticism, offers a profound corrective. 

Heidegger's judgment on the end product of classical theism now echoes from thinkers of diverse theological perspectives:  "Man can neither pray nor sacrifice to this god.  Before the causa sui, man can neither fall to his knees in awe nor can he play music and dance before this god."   Walter Ksaper even speaks of "the heresy of theism," meaning the nontrinitarian notion of an impersonal God who stands over against the world as imperial ruler and judge.  In retrospect to the insufficiencies of classical theism, a goodly number of theologians have been seeking other ways of speaking about God.  These theological efforts are leading to discourse about, in Anne Carr's felicitous summary, the liberating God, the incarnational God, the relational God, the suffering God, the God who is future and the unknown,  hidden God of mystery.  So profound are these changes and deviations from the classical approach that it is not uncommon for theologians engaged in their development to proclaim that a "revolution" in the idea of God is occurring in our day.   

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Hate Mail - I'll Give Her The Last Word On This

You know who else doesn't think much of Patti Smith as a musician?  Patti Smith.

One thing there is not much of in M Train is music. I remark on this, and Smith nods. ‘Well, I mean, I’m not a musician. People’s concept of me is often so off the mark. In ’78, ’79, right before I walked away from public life, I experienced, in Europe, two years of what I would call being a rock-and-roll star. My last job, my band played to 80,000 people in Florence. I know what that tastes like, to be a rock-and-roll star – to have a limousine, to have girls screaming when they see you, girls trying to cut my hair, get a piece of me. But I don’t walk around with a concept of myself as a rock-and-roll star, and certainly not as a musician, because I really can’t play anything, except primitively. I sing, but almost everybody sings. I am a performer, but in my life, when I’m not performing, you know, I’m a mother, I have a cat, I’m sort of a loner, I write every day. My view of myself is more as a writer.’

Who am I to argue that point with her, having recently decided that, by right, anyone who speaks any language who writes things down in it as a writer.  That's as true as it is that anyone who speaks the language is a speaker.  Doesn't mean they have to be good at it just as anyone can pick up a guitar and intone stuff as they strum or anyone can pick up a camera and call themselves a photographer.  Doesn't mean anyone's required to pretend they think what they produce is any good.   As far as I'm concerned, she's only a rock-star.  She got that right and she doesn't even want that to define her.  Got to say, finding that made me have a bit of respect for her I didn't before.

Update:  Stupy is Trying To Revenge Himself On Me By Proving His Illiteracy

Stupy has posted the opening narration from the movie Spartacus as a means to taunt me.

In the last century before the birth of the new faith called Christianity which was destined to overthrow the pagan tyranny of Rome and bring about a new society, the Roman Republic stood at the very center of the civilized world. "Of all things fairest" sang the poet, "First among cities and home of the Gods is Golden Rome." Yet even at the zenith of her pride and power, the Republic lay fatally stricken with the disease called human slavery. The age of the dictator was at hand, waiting in shadows for the event to bring forth. In that same century, in the conquered Greek province of Thrace, an illiterate slave woman added to her master's wealth by giving birth to a son whom she names Spartacus. A proud rebellious son, who was sold to living death in the mines of Libya, before his thirteenth birthday. There under whip and chain and sun he lived out his youth and his young manhood, dreaming the death of slavery 2000 years before it finally would die.

Stupy says two things about that passage

That's absolutely beautifully written, and the actual sequence in the film that it illustrates it is wonderful.


But, yknow, fuck that shit, because as That Idiot From Maine© has informed us, Trumbo was a Red.

Well, Trumbo was resting on the writing of the once popular, now sadly forgotten Howard Fast, who wrote his novel while in prison when he got into trouble with HUAC. I don't know the extent to which Trumbo might have been resting on Fast's book which I've never read.  It's been a long time since I read anything by Fast but I don't remember his writing being quite as flowery as that.  I wonder what he'd have said about the passage.  I think its kind of, you know, stagey. 

[Note:  I found a pirate copy online and have quickly read the first three chapters, the second of which, I have to say is literally a gut slam of shockingly disturbing writing.  It is the most shocking description of  the casual terror-violence of Roman mass-crucifixion I've ever read.  Compared to Fast's prose, Trumbo's is . . . not as good.]

That said, apparently Stupy is unable to read what he finds so beauteous because I'm sure he would hate what it says if he understood it.  The first sentence doesn't strike me as something that would make him and his Eschaton buddies happy.

In the last century before the birth of the new faith called Christianity which was destined to overthrow the pagan tyranny of Rome and bring about a new society, the Roman Republic stood at the very center of the civilized world.

I wonder what would happen if some newcomer went to Eschaton and said something like "The pagan tyranny of Rome was overthrown by a new faith called Christianity."  I'll bet the old folks would rage and gnash their teeth if someone said EXACTLY WHAT TRUMBO SAID IN THAT PASSAGE.

Not to mention Trumbo's point that slavery wasn't overturned for 2,000 years after that, implying that Christianity had more than a bit to do with that overturning, which is simply true. I will point out that there are isolated places it happened a lot faster than that, Christian Ireland, for example. 

Of course, it being a Hollywood movie, the real history of the overturning of slavery won't fit in to 2 hours, it's extremely complex though about the only places where slavery was opposed and overturned were, in fact, places where Christianity was the primary motivation to do that.  The modern abolition movement is, in fact, by an overwhelming percentage, a Christian phenomenon.

Alas, Trumbo's ringing claim made with a perfect tense construction that slavery it finally would die was overly optimistic because slavery is still rampant in the world, today, especially notably in such Communist countries as China and North Korea, also in the post-Communist Soviets, especially Putin's Russia but in many other places in the world.   Here's a map showing the prevalence of modern slavery in different countries.

Image result for where does slavery still exist 2018

Oddly, it would seem, the places where there is the least slavery would support Trumbo's contention that Christianity would be the motivation for abolition, though some places in Eastern Europe cloud that contention, they are also places where Communism was imposed until fairly recently.  Communism, according to the map, doesn't seem to lead to the greatest success in getting rid of slavery (apart from Cuba, if I am reading the map correctly).

I will note that the map and the Global Slavery Index are not uncontroversial, even the definition of what is and isn't slavery is argued.  But that's for another series of posts.  Maybe in February, again.  There's still slavery in the United States, it's been totally abolished in almost no places.

"It Is The Favorite Prayer Of The Poor"

We came to the Song of Mary, the Magnificat, traditionally known by that name because it is the first word in the Latin.  It is said that this passage of the Gospel terrified the Russian Czars, and [Charles] Maurras was very right in talking about the "revolutionary germ" of the Magnificat.

I've decided to post all of the discussions of the peasant theologians of Solentiname  on the Christmas narratives of the Bible over the next few days.

The pregnant Mary had gone to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who also was pregnant,  Elizabeth congratulated her because she would be the other of the Messiah, and Mary broke out singing that song.  It is a song to the poor.  The people of Nicaragua have been very fond of reciting it.  It is the favorite prayer of the poor, and superstitious campesinos often carry it as an amulet.  In the time of old Somoza when the campesinos were required always to carry with them proof that they had voted for him, the people jokingly called that document the Magnificat.  

Now young ESPERANAZA read this poem, and the women began to comment on it. 

My soul praises the Lord, my heart rejoices in God my Savior, because he has noticed his slave.

"She praises God because the Messiah is going to be born, and that's a great event for the people."

"She calls God "Savior" because she knows that the Son that he has given her is going to bring liberation."

"She's full of joy.  Us women must also be that way, because in our community the Messiah is born too, the liberator."

Talk about the incredible audacity of the Gospel, the thing which has been covered up by wealthy establishments and their governments and, in the modern era, what has been discouraged by the scientistic educational establishment which, even when it produces a class of would-be secular revolutionaries, props up the same established order through discouraging such audacious thinking.*

"She recognizes liberation . . . . We have to do the same thing.  Liberation is from sin, that is, from selfishness, from injustice, from misery, from ignorance - from everything that's oppressive.  That liberation is in our wombs too, it seems to me . . . "

The last speaker was ANDREA, a young married woman, and now O   SCAR, her young husband breaks in:  "God is selfish because he wants us to be his slaves.  He wants our submission.  Just him. I don't see why Mary has to call herself a slave.  We should be free!  Why just him?  That's selfishness.

ALEJANDRO, who is a bachelor:  "We have to be slaves of God, not of men."

I said that it's true that this selfish God Oscar spoke about does exist.  And it's a God invented by people.  People have often invented a god in their own image and likeness - not the true God, but idols, and those religions are alienating, like opium of the people.  But the God of the Bible does not teach religion, but rather he urges Moses to take Israel out of Egypt, where the Jews were working as slaves.  He led them from colonialism to liberty.  And later God ordered that among those people no one could hold another as a slave, because they had been freed by him belonged only to him, which means they were free.

And TERESITA, William's wife:  "We have to keep in mind that at the time when Mary said she was a slave, slavery existed.  It exists today too, but with a different name.  Now the slaves are the proletariat or the campesinos.  When she called herself a slave, Mary brought herself closer to the oppressed,  I think. Today she would have called herself a proletarian or a campesina of Solentiname." 

And WILLIAM:  "But she says she's a slave of the Lord (who is the Liberator, who is the one who brought freedom from the Egyptian slavery).  It's as if she said she was a slave of the liberation.  Or as if she said she was a proletarian or a revolutionary campesina."

Another of the girls:  "She says she's poor, and she says that God took into account the "poverty of his slave,"  that is that God chose her because she was poor.  He didn't choose a queen or a lady of high society but a woman from the people.  Yes, because God has preferred us poor people.  Those are the "great things" that God has done, as Mary says." 

And from now on all generations will call me happy, for Mighty God has done great things for me.  His name is holy, and his love reaches his faithful ones from generation to generation.

One of the ladies:  "She says that people will call her happy . . . . . She feels happy because she is the mother of Jesus the Liberator, and because she also is a liberator like her son, because she understood her son and did not oppose his mission.  She didn't oppose him, unlike other mothers of young people who are messiahs, liberators of their communities.  That was her great merit, I say."

And another:  "She says that God is holy, and that means "just."  The just person who doesn't offend anybody, the one who doesn't commit any injustices.  God is like this and we should be like him."

I said that was a perfect biblical definition of the holiness of God**.  And then I asked what a holy society would be.

"The one we are seeking,"  LAURENAO answered at once.  He is a young man who talks of the Revolution or revolutionaries almost every time he comments on the Bible.  After a brief pause he added:  "The one that revolutionaries want to build, all the revolutionaries of the world."  

* I seldom read Twitter feeds but the one by Monjula Ray @queerBengali which lists such elite "revolutionary" prescription that is a guarantee to remain stuck in futility came to my notice yesterday.

**  The God of the Bible is the strangest thing about the whole Bible.  He is the only one of his kind.  In all the history of religion, there is no other like him.  And that is hard to understand.  So the people who dealt with him in the Bible always wanted to relate to him as though he were like all other notions of God.  And in every time, even ours, we are tempted to force him into other categories as though he belongs to a species of similar agents.

But he is not like any other.  And his strangeness is in this  He is with his people  He is for his people   His goodness is not in his great transcendental power nor in his majestic remoteness nor in his demanding toughness but in his readiness to be with and for his people.  And his being with and for is not a matter of bribery or deception or intimidation.  He simply wills it so.  He is not, in his characteristic way,  by himself.  He is for others.  

Walter Brueggemann, The Bible Makes Sense Chapter The Center of the Odd Perspective of the Bible – God

Wambulance Driver For The Trump PR Effort Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz said that James Comey "Talks too much". 

Wait, let me rephrase that ALAN DERSHOWITZ! said that James Comey "Talks too much."  Well, he is the guy who called one of his too many books "Chutzpah".

Don't think I'm sticking up for James Comey because I pretty much dislike the guy as much as I do the Dersh, but for all the things he has to answer for Comey is a petty offender as compared to the self-styled "Constitutional Law Expert at Hah-vahd."

I do blame Harvard for Dershowitz.  If he hadn't worked at Harvard Law he'd be no more than the former Rolls Royce ambulance chaser he's been,  the Trump coverup's wambulance driver wherever he can get them to put his lying puss on the screen.  The man is a total and complete disgrace, lying his head off, a one-man post-truth squad.  His claim that Mike Flynn lying to the FBI isn't a crime reminds me of how he successfully got away with documented plagiarism due to Harvard clearly not caring that one of its media star was doing things that they would discipline or throw out a student for doing. 

People who ask what happened to the original Dershowitz who peddled himself as a civil libertarian but I don't think anything happened to him, I think he's always been like this he's just gotten more himself as time rides him off into the sunset.  The man is an especially sleazy lawyer who will tell any lie no matter how transparent and obvious to sway the jury of public opinion or, failing that, to confuse the issues.   I can't say he's the most disgusting lawyer surrounding the most corrupt person to have ever held the office of the presidency, in people like Rudy Giuliani and those he's fired or who have fled, it's not an easy thing to sort that box of rotting fish. 

It's the media's fault for putting the guy on all these years, peddling himself as something I've read real lawyers know he isn't, an expert in Constitutional law.  What he is is a media lawyer in the mode of Giuliani and a flack and a hack.  One lawyer I read said what he's good at is just what I said above, swaying juries, one of the things that has probably made him the lawyer of choice among ultra-rich guys and celebrities who murder their wives.    The guy stinks, and that's before you start to figure in his friendship to criminals who are let off like Jeffrey Epstein Hiis tactics in that are identical to his slime campaign against Norman Finkelstein, dig up dirt on the mostly powerless and poor plaintiffs, harvesting from their social media.  It's remarkable they only recently started leaving him off the guest list on The Vinyard, or, given the milieu he whined about being excluded from, maybe unremarkable.   You'd think they'd have noticed the stench long ago, but the rich and famous are a pretty stinking awful bunch, by and large, which is relevant to why Harvard hasn't cut ties with him.  You really have to stink before they notice.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Heads-Up (Their Asses)

Jacobin, The Nation, In These Times . . . I will say this, since the revelations of Putin ratfucking every sector of the American media as well as everything else he could I don't trust any of them.   It doesn't surprise me that someone named Daniel Denvir is interviewing Glenn Greenwald at Jacobin to pooh-pooh one of the worst dictators ratfucking American democracy.  A journalist murdering, opposition destroying dictator who who would have had all of them killed if they were in his Russian Reich - that is if they wouldn't have been in his pay there as I now wonder if they are here. 

I'd love to now exactly how their finances work, I mean exactly how they work and what their relationships with Putin's reich is.  I suspect that in one case, the husband of the owner is as liable to blackmail as Trump is. 

I'm fed up with the automatically-anti-American, secular pseudo-left who tacitly support Trump one way or another.   That bunch have been enabling Republican-fascism since well before the 2000 election when they promoted the Green spoilers. They can all fold and I don't think it would bother me in the slightest.   I thought Gleen Greenwald was a dishonest scumbag back when he was peddled widely as a great champion of liberty.  He's a piece of shit.  I'd never noticed this Denvir guy before, he's an attention seeking shithead.  

They are not part of any real American left, they are part of the American play-left.  I'll throw in the Democratic Socialists now, too. They can all go to hell.  I say that as a far left socialist+.  

Who are the gardeners in our lives, the ones we mistake for someone else but who are truly the presence of Christ?

Following up on the post from last night which excerpts the sermon by Fr. Jack Lynch, I was reminded of a passage from the end of Elizabeth A. Johnson's talk about rediscovering Mary Magdalene and what her ordained vocation, ordered by the highest of all highest of all authorities in the Gospel of John, means for the future of Christianity.   Again, this is my transcription from about this point in her lecture.  Beginning with a line from the Easter hymn Victimae Paschali Laudes she started her lecture with,

"Tell us, Mary, what you saw on the way?" 

The way we decide to tell her [Mary Magdalene's]  story can become  an impetus for growing an understanding of  the possibilities for women in the church today.  In rendering her visible women also become visible.  In reclaiming her she reclaims women who witnessed to a God who calls forth life out of death.   And for women and men, alike, there are questions she asks that can frame our own lives and ministries.  

How do we continue her courageous solidarity with those who suffer and her apostolic witness to new life?   

Where are the crosses of our day that others run from and we are called to stand by?  

Who are the gardeners in our lives, the ones we mistake for someone else but who are truly the presence of Christ?  

How does our name have to be called for us to recognize the Voice of God? 

Which ways of living are we called to leave behind in order to live the Gospel? 

Of course it was the provocative question about which faces of Christ we are mistaking for gardeners - really for any menial or least among us - which I recalled in the context of Jack Lynch's beautiful recounting of his rediscovery of the same thing. 

Like a good teacher, Elizabeth Johnson gives us questions to answer, questions that could take papers and books to come up with an adequate response to, or they could be answered even better by just living the answers to them.  I am going to try to take them to heart and if I do, I expect there will have to be a lot of changes in my life starting as soon as Christmas is over.   When the real work of Christmas starts. 

Susan Collins Is Mounting Her Rehabilitation Campaign She Shouldn't Get Away With It

Maine Public Broadcasting is pushing Susan Collins' new slogan that she's vindicated !!! in voting for the perjurer and credibly accused sexual assaulter and political ratfucker Brett Kavanaugh because Kavanaugh, knowing the first time he does it it will ignite a fire storm, didn't vote to take up a case against Planned Parenthood.   Of course her rehabilitation campaign will be pushed by the Maine media which, including "Public" Radio is a Republican propaganda machine.  It's been her most important tool in pulling the wool over the eyes of the center right and modestly leftish in the state. 

Kavanaugh knows that he will be vulnerable for as long as he sits on the Court because he so obviously did perjure himself and he did outrageously lie about his high school and college years as well as his time working for the Bush II regime.  He will lie low for as long as he figures he's in danger of becoming the first successfully impeached Supreme Court justice, that's about the only reason he might not be as bad as there is every reason to believe he wants to be.

Susan Collins and the media machine that covers up for her is desperate to save her from any possible sign that Kavanaugh will do what he was put on the court by Trump, Grassley, Graham and McConnell to do.   My guess is that he'll feel safest going after People of color because the massive racism of the population and the media will make that safest for him, that and anti-environmental rulings, rulings propping up Republican vote suppression, gerrymandering, etc. will be more than damaging enough to prove that Susan Collins voted for a hard right hack and tool with every reason for her to know that's who she was voting for.   She will use this one area to cover up what will probably be one of her most enduring betrayals of those who were chumped into voting for her on the basis of her phony moderation.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Towards Justice For A Victim Of The New Pax Romana

The state murder of Jakelin Caal Maquin and the cruelly awful response of the political and journalistic establishment to it has taken out what seasonal feeling I'd had.

I was going to post something from The Gospel In Solentiname, one of my favorite books of theology,  but I listened to the Daily TV Mass broadcast I didn't listen to on Saturday and the homily by Fr. Jack Lynch made the same point in a different way, comparing the insights of people who live lives most like those who first heard and recorded the Gospels to what he learned in one of the foremost university schools of theology in North America.   I'll save the insights of the peasants from Solentiname for later this week.  The transcription is mine, including all its faults.

You know, as we prepare for Christmas during this time of advent it's a time of expectation but it's also a time to acknowledge that, somehow, God is present in our history, God is present in the events of our daily lives.  And I keep thinking back to a time when I lived in Peru many years ago and I got a little bit anxious when one of the sisters came up to me and said, you know we've got to get ready for Christmas.  And I, living in a very poor area in a barrio which was characterized by unemployment, people didn't have a great deal to eat and I kept thinking how do you celebrate the feast of Joy, the Feast of Christmas in this particular milieu.  

She called together some of the leaders of the people and together we read the Scriptures and the Scriptures, particularly from Luke about the shepherds.  As I listened to people speaking about what those readings meant to them, I realized that the men were really taken with the shepherds and I said,  What is it you see in these men?   And they said,  they're like us.  They often times were looked down on because they didn't keep the law, the Sabbath.  They were poor and yet here they are the ones that were promised the Messiah, to see the Messiah.   And they said,  that's the gift, the gift that Christmas is for us.  Just as they were invited to go and see the Messiah, we too are invited, we too are listening to those words so we recognize that God is to us, the Lord is with us and that's really the gift of Christmas, that God is with us at all times and at all places in all things.  

And as I listened to them I was  a little bit ashamed because I kept thinking of my time in all the classes and all the time here at the University of Toronto studying theology but I never heard such a lived reality of waiting for a God who was inviting them to believe in themselves.  

They had to accept that Jesus was one of them, the Messiah and in so doing that was God's gift to them.  To believe in themselves as people loved by God.  And here I was listening to these men telling me that's the significance of for us.  

That's what it means that God came to be with us God is with us now but God invites us to believe that we are People loved by God.  And I think that so often we get lost up in activity and shopping and I thank God I'm beyond that to a certain degree, that I don't get caught up in all the shopping but you listen to the running and yet sometimes we often miss the significance of the Incarnation, this is God who entered history God who is one with us, God who walks with us God was present to us and invites to believe that God walks with us day in and day out.

I am coming to think one of the biggest mistakes that Christianity ever made was to be so impressed with the attitude of the so-called "enlightenment" that it was made to feel embarrassed at the incredible audacity of its central holdings such as the ones that Fr. Lynch sets out - holdings he had to be reminded of and which became  more real to him through the articulation of poor Peruvians who understood that, especially for them, that audacity, that audacious holding is their life's blood, the thing they can have that no corrupt local, regional, national or world powers can take from them.

In one of his talks Walter Brueggemann talks about having a discussion with the janitor in the building he taught in at I forget which university it was.  The janitor wanted to know what this eschatology that was always being downgraded, the eschatological content of Christianity that was so unfashionable in the university.  Brueggemann told him that it concerned the last days, the final judgement, the long delayed day of justice.  I don't know how far he went with that, I would go so far as the final redemption of all things, when God finally convinces all creatures of the truth, etc.  He said that the janitor said that if they got rid of that he would have nothing, no hope at all.  That's something that's a lot more important to you the closer to having nothing you are, I'd imagine.  I think that janitor's insistence on believing in that means more than all of the dismissal of eschatological theology that I've read no matter how reputable and currently fashionable it is.

I understand the problem often pointed out with the obsession with personal salvation and the indictment that that has resulted in the distortion of Christianity, decidedly for the worse.  But I will point out that the theology that seeks to redress that excess by getting rid of it will never be acceptable to the very people that James and Paul supported over the rich (who James pointed out were the ones attacking them), the people that Paul was told to remember, the ones who Jesus said would be first in the Kingdom of God.  That certainly has to count for something.  I mean, they're not, by and large, the ones who are responsible for the excesses and distortions.

Hate Mail

Where did I propose banning the photos of Robert Mapplethorpe?   My guess is if those idiots didn't make the fuss over his crap being sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts he'd be well on his way to being entirely forgotten, now.

That asshole didn't even develop and print his own pictures.  His work is derivative crap.  If he hadn't stuck a whip up his ass or taken a picture of one gay man pissing in the mouth of another (straight kulcha-vultures are thrilled by internalized self-hatred among minority members) and his racist images of black people he'd have been remembered as the toy-boy of a trust-fund vampire on the fringes of the arts. 

I wish I could find the article I read where Fran Lebowitz who he had plied with prints talked about how she took moving into a much smaller apartment as the excuse she wanted to throw them in the garbage - before the tulip-mania that is the art market inflated them into the same kind of thing Bit-Coin is now - I can't remember if it was she who talked about how tediously superficial his work was.

No, I'm in favor of him going out of style and never coming back in and being an exhibit in nothing more interesting than an example of how stupid and decadent commercial art became in the post-war period.   I think whoever in the NEA who decided to fund the showing of his pictures probably did more to hurt artists and their ability to make a basic living than the Republican assholes who jumped on the bandwagon that idiot provided to them.  I don't think that's responsible or in any way positive.  By that time his pictures were selling for a lot of money, the bull-shit art market should have to fund its own publicity stunts, not using public funds that real artists need.