Saturday, December 14, 2019

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Katie Hims - LILO

Trystan and Simone haven't seen each other for eighteen years. They went to school together, grew up together and fell in love. It ended badly and then Trystan went off to university. To Trystan's disappointment Simone is still married, to his arch enemy no less. They even have kids. Trystan has no family but a successful career. They both claim to be happy. They both claim to have no regrets. But as the evening progresses they get down to the heart of the matter. Have they wasted the last eighteen years? Should they be together now? And how much did Simone's act of violence in the swimming pool, as a child, change the shape of both their lives? When the pub kicks them out they make their way to Trystan's hotel room. They have never slept together. Are they going to sleep together now?

We meet Trystan and Simone at 11, 18 and 36 and piece together the story of their friendship which seems to have foundered on an incident in the pool that completely alters the course of their lives.

Simone ...... Maxine Peake
Trystan ..... Trystan Gravelle
Simone (11 yrs) ..... Shannon Flynn
Trystan (11 yrs) ..... Euan Brown

Sound Design by Eloise Whitmore

Producer: Melanie Harris

Saturday after Advent 2

God of our futures, give us wisdom to receive your future by living in the present differently.  Move us beyond our excessive commitment to present norms, by his name,  Amen.

Psalm 30

Haggai 2:1-9

Revelation 3:1-6

Matthew 24:1-14

These readings are deeply committed to a good future from God that will not be extrapolated from the present.  They invite the faithful to relinquish and to shift energy toward that good future from God.  This summons a deep challenge to the ideology that firms that the future will be only an extnsion of the present, as though we cannot immagine otherwise.  It is an ideology preferred by those among us who enjoy disproportionate well-being in the present. 

Thus Matthew has Jesus speak of "birth pangs,"  an image that suggests that entry into God's future is not an easy slide but a genuine newness that comes with struggle.  Haggai can anticipate that in "a little while" the present tense earth will be "shaken up"; and the church in Sardis is called to be worthy of "the book of life," an image of the roster of the blessed in time to come.  Advent is preparation for newness that evokes a very different participation in the present world, a participation that is not marked by fear, anxiety or greed.

Psalm 30 dramatically voices the wondrous turn from present to future.  It honestly recognizes that weeping (pain, suffering, distress) lingers all through the night, a very long night.  And surely we are in for a long night of weeping over poverty, violence, child abuse, sex trafficking, and a predatory economy that requires such practices.  But the weeping, it is promised, will end.  It will end in the morning of God's rule that will be marked by justice, mercy, and compassion.  We have much preparation to make that includes disengagement from sorry practices that have become much too "normal." 

Walter Brueggemann:  Gift and Task

This Slogan Should Be On The Lips, on the Signs and On Everything Every Democratic Senatorial Candidate Puts Out Next Year

"You don’t have to live in Kentucky to vote against Mitch McConnell."

Barney Frank 

For An Adult Approach To Life As Opposed To Being Mired In The Darkness Of Eternal Adolescence - Hate Mail

I am accused of being a covert right-winger because I've posted a video of an interview with David Bentley Hart who used to write for First Things.  If the idiot had listened to the videos he'd know that David Bentley Hart doesn't write for First Things anymore because of political disagreements he has with those who run the thing, so that's not true.

For the love of Mike, adults can agree with people about some things as they disagree with them about other things, that's one of the pillars of being an adult instead of a perpetually pubescent jr. high schooler - as so many of those with college credentials now are, into their senectitude.   

I happen to agree with him on a major and enormously consequential error that has led a huge part of Western Christianity astray, the Augustinian popularization of predestination (as a more complex and worse stand is usually abbreviated), original sin, eternal damnation, and the idea that Jesus was crucified as an expiation of God the father's wrath over Adam and Eve eating fruit they were told not to.  I think much of what is wrong in Western Christianity* is as a result of those Augustinian impositions on the Gospel, the Epistles, the Apocalypse (what Protestants call "Revelations").  There are, of course, other things that have been terrible in the long history of Western treatment of the Gospel, etc. that's not a comprehensive list.  

I will point out that much of that disappears if you read the actual text of the Bible as translated NOT to push any of those later ideological impositions on it, something which seems to be being done more and more in the West, these days.  I think it's actually a kind of great age of leaving that stuff behind in Christian theology.

That leads to my citation of that writer who I respect most of all, among living authors, Marilynne Robinson's call for the rehabilitation of John Calvin's reputation.   I did look and do, actually, find that she is right about his Geneva Bible translation and, even more so, commentary as the source of the American traditional understanding of liberalism in liberal provision for the poor, the widow, the sick, the prisoner, the stranger living among us, etc. I would love to hear Calvin's response to, as I recall, Cotton Mather's racist, genocidalist use of the book of Joshua to permit the murder of the natives of North America and the theft of their land because it doesn't look like something in line with the parts of Calvinism that Robinson uses to make her case.  Of course, he was long dead by that time.  

Calvin was, as D. B. Hart points out, the proponent of the most extreme and degenerate form of Augustinian predestination in which it is asserted that millions and jillions of unbaptized infants are burning in eternal torment because their parents had failed to have water poured over them in the nick of time, even babies born to parents who had never heard of baptism, of Jesus or the Bible.  You can't overlook that kind of stuff in Calvin even if you like the idea that he told people to support the poor and destitute and, as Robinson points out, despite the frequent criticism of him for the execution of Michael Servetus, the unitarian**,  Geneva during his time was, in Europe, one of the least murderous loci.  It's an interesting fact that it wasn't a Calvinist who led the trial against Servetus, it was one of Calvin's opponents who sentenced Servetus to be burned at the stake along with his books.  The trial and burning has done nothing for the reputation of Calvin.  

I can agree with Hart overall that it's regrettable that Augustine, no doubt in a really bad mood over the crumbling Roman empire, inserted some of the worst and widely influential of ideas into Western Christianity, some of which are featured, heavily, in the anti-Christian propaganda that has filled the "enlightenment" culture ever since.  It's been demanded, over and over and over again, for the past two decades that I defend things that I don't only not agree with but which appear nowhere in the Second Testament or the First and which, often, in Catholic terms, were hardly universally believed, either.  Some of the more clueless of the atheist idiots have demanded I defend stuff Luther or Calvin or some later figure in that line held which they assume was part of Catholic teaching - not that there isn't plenty to reject in official Catholic doctrine and dogma as well.  

Real adults agree with people they disagree with at other times, sometimes they agree on a lot of things, sometimes they agree with someone on little to nothing. It's the adolescents' idea of an intellectual who figures someone who is wrong about one thing is wrong about everything in every case, or at least when they figure it's useful for them to totally denigrate them.  

I don't believe in eternal damnation, I wouldn't be surprised if there is some penalty for evil done in this life but as Mark Twain pointed out, you'd have to believe God is a total monster undeserving of love if you believed in eternal punishment.   It might take a long, long time.  When someone interviewing Hart was asked about the "what about Hitler" argument against his universalism, he said,  "Well, I suppose Trump has to go somewhere after he dies."   I'm sure we might disagree on some political stands but that doesn't mean I have to reject someone who thinks that. 

*  As I mentioned several times recently, I think one of the worst things about Orthodox Christianity is how apt it is to become entangled in nationalism and national politics.  That is something that the Roman Catholic and many Protestant denominations in Western Christianity have gotten away from, in the case of the Catholics, through the liberation of the Papal States and, for example, some Calvinist churches in early 19th century New England, they had to give up with some reluctance but they're a lot better off. far more Christian,  when they don't get involved in political machinations and, worse, nationalism.   That doesn't mean they aren't critical of those when the countries and governments are rotten and evil.   Congressman Fr. Robert Drinan, for example, was a very good Congressman and a very good priest while in Congress, especially on the House committee that adopted the articles of Impeachment against Nixon.  His article over Nixon's war crimes in Cambodia and Laos was rejected but it was among Nixon's gravest crimes and moral atrocities.  

**  Servetus, the more I read about him, as with Bruno, would seem to be constitutionally unable to not be asking for trouble wherever he went.  I've got my problems with Unitarians, being a New Englander of the left, I've probably been exposed to more of them than people elsewhere.  They can be friggin' full of themselves and are, at times, extremely impractical.  Some are, as Mrs. Oliver Wendell Holmes jr. put it, Unitarians for political cover and a Unitarian was the least you could be,  William Cohen was a nominal Unitarian, as I recall.  But some are good, even reliable.  You can't judge them by the label. 

McConnell's Stated Intention To Rig The Trial For Trump Means He Can't Be Exonerated By The Senate etc.

Anyone who has both a working mind and pretends that there is any way for Trump to be legitimately acquitted in the upcoming Senate trial on his impeachment is lying through their, no doubt, Republican teeth. 

Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, etc. if they don't call for Mitch (Putin's Bitch) McConnell to be taken from a leadership position in the trial that he has already said he intends to throw in collusion with the Trump regime, which, of course, they won't, they are buying the fixed trial that Mitch (Putin's Bitch) McConnell has announced he intends to mount. 

Yes, Susan Collins, in this, in her role in maintaining Mitch McConnell in his position leading the Senate is exposing what she's always been, a Republican apparatchik, enabling the worst of them - occasionally, when it wouldn't mean anything, making a show of "moderation" so she and the Republican media in Maine can pretend she's better than HER PARTY AND THEIRS.

Mitch McConnell is bragging on FOX that he intends to throw the trial for Trump, so there is no way that this trial, THIS REPUBLICAN CAUCUS IN THE SENATE, cannot stand as legitimate because of their not only exposed but admitted corruption, even extending to corrupting the only thing that confers legitimacy, an honest election by The People, who have not been lied to.

That last part is the media's part in this.  Apparently a well thought of New York Times reporter has written, documenting the long history of corruption of Rudy Giuliani* to which I say, why wasn't the "free press" exposing that corruption to get him out of office if not to prevent him being there.  I have no doubt that them not liking having a Black mayor of New York had no little bit to do with that. 

When the history of this is written, if they don't note the primary role that the "free press" freed to lie by the New York Times, Joel Gora, the ACLU and other "civil liberties" entities and the court under Earl Warren giving the media a carte blanche to lie with impunity, it will be a lie, the overarching lie, the lie that opened the door for all of the Republican and ever increasingly corrupt, Republican-fascist rule that we now have. Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II and now Trump.  It's not as if you couldn't see that coming in that line of Republicans.  If you don't think that has everything to do with the wealth of the owners, the wealth of the on-air personalities, the writers, etc, you are as big a chump as my fellow Mainers who have bought Susan Collins' act and the cover up for decades.

*  For the liar who trolls me, my little town has had bad guys in leadership before, but it was never as bad as Giuliani and it was not a product of the media that covers us lying and covering up for him.  New York City is a moral cess pool, it has been for a long, long time.  The New York City media is the primary engine of corruption there as the media throughout the country now is.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Note On The Advent Postings

If you follow the links to Scripture passages in the Advent postings,you'll find it brings you to Bible Gateway.   I've been wondering which of the myriad of English translations you can access there to post to get you there.  I, more or less at random, chose, first the New International Version and, other times the Revised Standard Version.  I wouldn't normally rely on either of those, I think the reason I started with the NIV was because I thought the language was closer to what Brueggemann used in the first verse I looked up to link to.   I don't know which version he'd suggest, if he would recommend one.   I'd suggest looking at several different translations, preferably from different theological traditions.   Every translation will inevitably be influenced by the orientation of the translators, that is true of every reader, we can't possibly escape from our own experience, point of view and habits when we read something.  Two readers reading the same translation will have somewhat different understandings of it.  

That's something that should have been cleared up when I started this.  

Knowing the people who troll me aren't great readers, I was tempted to post the Easy To Read version*, though that is definitely a translation I don't agree with in many points.  I like the idea of making the language of the translation as transparent as possible but that one distorted one of the most important passages in Matthew to change the meaning in a way I can't accept.   I think there are bad translations, not on the basis of whether a "dynamic translation" or "formal equivalence" or the such are used.  The really bad ones are done by those who try to limit who grace is to be extended to, I can't accept that theological orientation as authentic. 

*  I used the Spanish version of it when I was learning Spanish, I wouldn't endorse it as a reliable translation, either.  I have used the American Bible Society,  Dios Llegra al Hombre translation that was recommended by Ernesto Cardenal in The Gospel in Solentiname as the best one he had found because it was a poetic translation in the language of the peasants of Latin America.  I was thinking of posting from The Gospel in Solentiname after Advent and if I do I'll probably use the Good News For Modern Man translation as being close to the one he recommends.  My print copy of DLH has the GNT on the facing page.   

Friday after Advent 2

God of inexorable purpose, help us to old more closely to your good-will, that our lives our practices and our policies may fully reflect our love for you.  In his name, Amen.

Psalm 31

Haggai 1:1-15

Revelations 2:18-29

Matthew 23:27-39

The severe rhetoric of these readings surely reflects various times when the community was in danger and profoundly at risk.   The readings reflect a stern theology of quid pro quo in which disobedience results in negative outcomes from God, while obedience yields well-being.  The same calculus pertains to each reading. 

In Haggai, severe drought has come on the community because it has been preoccupied with its own well-being to the neglect of the things of God.  In Revelation, the church in Thyatira is under judgment because it has "tolerated that woman, Jezebel,"  that is, the church has made "compromises with a popular culture that results from idolatry and thereby compromises the distinctiveness of life and outlook"  that concern the writer.*  The result is "great distress."  In Matthew, Jesus indicts religious leadership that "kills the prophets"  with the result that "your house is left to you, desolate."  

In each case, the reading urges repentance and renewed faith:  (a) In Haggai, this is expressed as temple building.  (b) People in Thyatira are urged to "hold fast" because "your last works are greater than the first."  (c) From Jesus, the charge is to live in hope until the messiah comes.

This quid pro quo theology of stern sanctions is not in vogue among us.  But the summons and warnings of Advent largely operate in the sphere of this theology.   We may reflect on the ways in which it is true that our actions produce our futures in direct ways.  Then it follows that different actions - of generous, hope-filled obedience - may indeed yield different futures among us.

* Christopher C. Rowland, "Revelations," in New Interpreter's Bible,  vol 12 Hebrew-Revelation (Nashville:  Abington Press 1998,) 581. 

Walter Brueggemann:  Gift and Task

Hate Mail - I'll Let The Late Great Margaret Barry, From Cork So Probably a Cousin, Say It For Me In This Tale Of Racial Profiling

Here's a variant on the verse

A policeman walked out, oh, so proud on his beat
When a vision came to him of stripes on his sleeve;
"Promotion," he whispered, "I'll try for today,
So its come with me Mister Ri-tooral-i-ay."

"Come tell me your name," says the limb of the law
To the little fat man selling wares on the straw.
"What's that, sir? Me name, sir? Why it's there on display
And it's Moses Ri-tooral-i-ooral-i-ay."

Now, the trial it came on and it lasted a week.
One judge said 'twas German; another, 'twas Greek-
"Prove you're lrish," said the policeman "and beyond it say nay;
And we'll sit on it, Moses Ri-tooral-i-ay."

Now the prisoner stepped up there as stiff as a crutch.
"Are you lrish or English or German or Dutch?"
"I'm a Jew, sir; I'm a Jew, sir," that came over to stay.
And my name it is Moses Ri-tooral-i-ay."

"We're two of a kind." said the judge to the Jew;
"You're a cousin of Briscoe and I am one too.
This numbskull has blundered and for it will pay."
"Wisha that's right," says Moses Ri-tooral-i-ay.

There's a garbage collector who works down our strset;
He once was a policeman, the pride of his beat.
And he moans all the night and he groans all the day,
Singing," Moses Ri-tootal-i-ooral-i-ay. "

There's a good reason the hero of Ulysses Is Named "Leopold Bloom".

I love Margaret Barry's music.   I needed to get a piece of Tin-Pan-Alley crap out of my mind.  Pardon me while I put the CD with this on.

Update:  Well, I couldn't prove she's related to me but there's a Youtube of her on a TV show from, I'd expect, the 1970s and she could be one of my mother's cousins, one of the ones who colored their hair at that age.  They lived in Lynn, so what do you expect?  We were the country cousins. My brother told me that when he went to Cork everyone looked like our family.  I've never been there so I'm only going on what I was told.

Update 2:  Of for fucks's sake.   How more obvious could it be.  Margaret Barry was a Corkwoman, considered one of the great Irish folk singers of our time, a sometimes of the traveling folk you don't get more Irish than Margaret Barry.  The song's about an Irish cop, full of himself, figuring on getting ahead by impressing his  boss by arresting a Jewish guy who sells stuff on the street, only he gets him before the Irish judge who recognizes that the guy's part of his family and the cop ends up a garbage collector.  Clearly Margaret Barry, like James Joyce considered Jews to be equals with a right to be in Ireland.  I wouldn't be surprised if a street singer like her figured that someone like Moses was a fellow member of the class that might be the target of such police arrogance, you can tell that from the song. I'd imagine she was hassled by the cops while she was earning her living, too.   It's not that uncommon among the Irish I know. 

Thrilling Yarns Of The Bad Popes And Some Good Ones

David Bentley Hart mentioned St. Celestine V in his comments on the disgusting garb favored by the neo-fascist-neo-integralists who have made bearing false witness against Pope Francis their purpose in life. Celestine is someone who, if the majority of Americans had ever heard of him, apparently, it's through that bearer of false witness, Dan Brown and his absurd bull shit that so many of our bearers of college credentials mistake as history.

In looking him up, I found out that today is the anniversary of his resignation, so I thought I'd go into him a bit.  Just for fun. 

I'd like it if more were known about Celestine who had long ago fascinated me, a hermetic monk who was, against his will, selected as Pope when the Cardinals who were making the next Pope deadlocked for two years - his big mistake was sending them a letter saying if they didn't choose a new Pope, God would smite them - whereupon the oldest of the Cardinals proclaimed him Pope.  Unfortunately, a lot of what he did as Pope has been lost as his successor immediately suppressed much of it.  

The poor guy, on hearing he was fingered, tried to go doggo, but he was forced to be Pope whereupon the princes of the church found he, as St. Francis would, took the Gospel, the Epistles and the Prophets more seriously than suited their worldly lifestyle.  The unhappy Pope's every word was ignored and, after his resignation about five months later - the last papal resignation before Benedict XVI's - so he could go back to his hermetic life of prayer and penitence, was again hunted down by his successor and imprisoned to prevent him being set up as an anti-Pope in opposition to him.  It's a gripping tale:

When the report spread that Celestine contemplated resigning, the excitement in Naples was intense. King Charles, whose arbitrary course had brought things to this crisis, organized a determined opposition. A huge procession of the clergy and monks surrounded the castle, and with tears and prayers implored the pope to continue his rule. Celestine, whose mind was not yet clear on the subject, returned an evasive answer, whereupon the multitude chanted the Te Deum and withdrew. A week later (13 December) Celestine's resolution was irrevocably fixed; summoning the cardinals on that day, he read the constitution mentioned by Boniface in the "Liber Sextus", announced his resignation, and proclaimed the cardinals free to proceed to a new election. After the lapse of the nine days enjoined by the legislation of Gregory X, the cardinals entered the conclave, and the next day Benedetto Gaetani was proclaimed Pope as Boniface VIII. After revoking many of the provisions made by Celestine, Boniface brought his predecessor, now in the dress of a humble hermit, with him on the road to Rome. He was forced to retain him in custody, lest an inimical use should be made of the simple old man. Celestine yearned for his cell in the Abruzzi, managed to effect his escape at San Germano, and to the great joy of his monks reappeared among them at Majella. Boniface ordered his arrest; but Celestine evaded his pursuers for several months by wandering through the woods and mountains. Finally, he attempted to cross the Adriatic to Greece; but, driven back by a tempest, and captured at the foot of Mt. Gargano, he was delivered into the hands of Boniface, who confined him closely in a narrow room in the tower of the castle of Fumone near Anagni (Analecta Bollandiana, 1897, XVI, 429-30). Here, after nine months passed in fasting and prayer, closely watched but attended by two of his own religious, though rudely treated by the guards, he ended his extraordinary career in his eighty-first year. That Boniface treated him harshly, and finally cruelly murdered him, is a calumny. Some years after his canonization by Clement V in 1313, his remains were transferred from Ferentino to the church of his order at Aquila, where they are still the object of great veneration. His feast is celebrated on 19 May.

I remember reading the account in the popular anti-Catholic classic, The Bad Popes about his imprisonment, which, as I recall many decades after having read it, he, a live long self-denying hermit,  fared better than his fellow prisoners.  His successor, Boniface VIII, who had played such a decisive role, AS A CANNON LAWYER, in confirming Celestine's abdication, was as corruptly worldly a Pope as any in the roll of bad Popes.  His bio is interesting because it's similar to the kind of neo-barque degeneracy that the fan-boys of the cross-dressing Burke and its like would like the papacy to return to, the Pope being a tool of billionaire oligarchy.  

It is mentioned elsewhere that when Pope Paul VI visited Celestine's tomb in 1966, it was rumored that he was considering resignation from the Papacy.  I'm not sure it would have been a good thing, though it might have avoided some problems if someone more resolute in pushing through the reforms of Vatican II had become Pope, as it was his successor, the saintly (and I wouldn't be surprised, martyr?)  St. John Paul I had an even shorter papacy before the awful, as seen in the awful Anthony Quinn movie,  John Paul II usurped his name and tried to put a stop to as much of the reform as he could, to be followed by his major henchman as Benedict XVI, who also made a visit to Celestine's tomb before he faced the fact that he just wasn't Pope material.  So maybe the Saint pulled off that miracle, too.  I wish Burke would visit it. 

Thoughts About The Disaster In Britland

The Brits have now proven they're no better than the United States, giving the criminal idiot, Boris Johnson a  huge majority.

I absolutely hope this leads to Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving the UK and forming a Celtic confederation with the Republic of Ireland, with real, democratic representation for all members of it. 

I hope it leads, immediately to the fall of the idiot Jeremy Corbyn, the worst Labour leader in the history of that party.   He and his Marxist-lite idiot supporters deserve the full measure of blame they deserve in this disaster.

I hope it leads to the BBC being seen for what is is in terms of politics, the supporter of the ingrained British oligarchy, the British class system that, no matter how much the margins of it may change, with the help of the traditional British gutter media, it still has the English people, by and large, totally duped just as they have been since Tutor times.   Remember that the next time PBS here has on one of their costume dramas presenting the rich and super-rich in such ludicrously romantic terms that it is essentially a Disney princess movie for idiot Americans. 

It would be too much for the idiot American play-left who adored the crap out of Jeremy Corbyn because, you know, he's a "socialist" will hear a wake up call in this,  I'm not expecting the British left will wake up to understand the disaster that the Marxists have been for them.   I'm hoping that the clear headed Celts will understand that as long as they have the British class system, on one hand, and the idiot Marxists on the other hand, holding the down, they will never get out from under the control of these people.   I hope they dump the British monarchy while they're at it.  

I would hope that, getting back to the BBC's role in pushing this - and it has - that we all learn something about the role that media free to lie and propagandize plays in destroying democracy, they can't be trusted with a license to lie.  

I'm not expecting it to happen, but I'm expecting with the disaster that will come from Brexit,  the Scots might start the break up.  I'm hoping that this Queen will be the last monarch of the UK.  I'm hoping it goes. 

In my wildest fantasies, I'd like to see Wales tell the English to screw themselves, too.  I might feel some sympathy for Brits who are not in the majority, the British poor, but they don't dump the British class system.  They could, they're the victims of the British media, in the end, just as Americans are here. 

Hate Mail

Oh dear, it's typical of the anti-religious idiot that he doesn't know what a theologian is so he doesn't know when he's not seeing one.

Cardinal Raymond Burke is not a theologian, he's a neo-integralist, neo-fascist cannon lawyer.   I might have some small amount of respect for some lawyers in the civil realm, I don't especially have the same amount of respect for cannon lawyers, I have none for this Burke.   But none of them are capable of holding their own in theological matters which are, at the level worth bothering with, far, far more difficult requiring the highest level of intellectual engagement.  Burke is a clotheshorse who is more of an ass who has the most appalling taste.  He's essentially what happens when a 4 year old girl is allowed to dress herself from an over, ample dress-up box.   "Cross-dressing act" is the absolutely accurate term for his shtick.   Only on the Catholic neo-integralist right would he not be laughed into impotence.  

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Who Would Have Thought That An Orthodox ex-Episcopalian Would Nail What's Wrong With The "catholic" Neo-Integralists

He gets most of what's wrong with the enriched, billionaire, multi-millionarie backed thugs of the anti-Francis "traditionalists" right, starting with a non-believer reactionary hankering after "Catholic tradition" as presented in some HBO, neo-fascist-integralist wet dream that up till I heard this, I didn't know it existed.   As to the non-believer thinking he's got some stake in this, it's because "catholic traditionalism" is a PR arm of the billionaire oligarch's scheme to get control of everything.  They hate Francis for the reason's that Hart lists.   Some of his more entertaining statements are, roughly. 

"They want the Tridentine Mass which, I as an Orthodox think is scarcely better than the Novus Ordo, a 16th century atrocity."

"Unless you've got a full choir performing Palestrina the Tridentine Mass is about as absorbing spiritually, for me, as reading a phone book."

As someone who remembers the pre-Vatican II Tridentine mass, it was about as empty as he heads of these idiots, especially the young JPII BXVI era seminarians and priests.  Some of whom aren't exactly young anymore but who don't remember the sterility and mockery of sprituality that the Latin mass was. 

"The things that concern them, things like large saturnos or beautiful clerical garb.  You know you'd think that Raymond Burke's cross-dressing act was the truth."

This is what these drag-act loving young traditionalists imagine is authentic Christianity.

Image result for raymond burke drag

While I don't especially like Mike Barnicle, he got this right:

“Cardinal Raymond Burke is a 66-year-old guy who lives in Rome,
dresses like Queen Elizabeth, and talks like someone who majored in misogyny at some bogus, backwoods, Bible-banging tent school.”

Only, if I were Liz, I'd sue for slander.  She was never that over-the-top, not at her wedding, not even at her coronation.  

I'd go into where a lot of this crap got its big push from the late "Mother Angelica" who I always post-fixed with "that Nazi nun" and her EWTN empire.  I hope the U.S. Catholic Conference or even the local bishop would shut that lie machine down for good. 

Update:  I could have gone with D. B. Hart comparing that style with Carol Channing

  Related image

or Liberace. 

Related image

I mean

Image result for cardinal raymond burke

Thursday after Advent 2

God of uncompromising purposes, forgive our indifference to the claims you make upon us, give us fresh awareness of the way in which obedience to your purpose is our true freedom.  In his name, Amen

Psalm 37

Amos 9:1-10

Revelation 2:8-17

Matthew 23:13-26

We may find entry into these difficult and severe texts by appealing to psalm 37, the "wicked" and the "righteous."  We must give up any simplistic, moralistic notion of those terms.  Rather, "wicked" refers to those out of sync with the purposes of God who live with indifference about the common good.   Conversely,  the "righteous" are those who give themselves to social solidarity with neighbors in obedience to God's purpose.  The Psalm probes the destiny and outcome for these two contrasting ways of life.  

Amos sees that the wicked are at risk before the judgment of God and cannot finally escape the long reach of God's governance.  He allows, however, that in the final "sifting," some will not be judged.  In Revelation, the address to the church in Smyrna recognizes that the church - like ancient Israel for Amos - is an ambiguous community.   Jesus' tirade against the religious leadership of his time concerns a series of practices that distort and misrepresent authentic faith.  The rhetoric of "woe" allows that trouble will inescapably come on such failed leadership.

Advent reflection may consider the ways in which we, in church and in society, have lost our way concerning the requirements of faith that are very different from common popular values.  Which the judgment of God is an awkward theme for many of us,  it is worth considering the extent to which our current failed common life is itself a judgment on long-held conventional commitments against the common good. 

While Listening To The Hearings

Every time I hear James "Congressman Kotex" Sensenbrenner lying his fat, trustifarian-senile-baby face off during these hearings it makes me wish he could be prosecuted for it.  I've been listening to that piece of crap for almost as long as I've been hearing self-congratulating Wisconsin play-lefties presenting that state as some bastion of enlightenment. 

And now it's Jim "Singlet Sniffer" Jordan from that lil' bit of Louisiana up-river, Ohio.   

the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin's efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin

I don't see the guile of the clueless Kushner in Trump's dishonest executive order redefining Jewishness, I see the FOX style PR distraction of the scumbag lawyer, Dershowitz.

Anyone who tries to understand Trump's motives in anything to do with Jews or even Israel is making a mistake.  Dershowitz might have gotten something for the disaster that Israel has become, but he's only using the resource that is the black hole of Trump's self-interest.  Trump gets: 

A. and most important to him, distraction from his imminent impeachment.

B. Something he hopes will divide Democrats.

C. Something he hopes will help him in Florida.

D. Something Alan Dershowitz and the rest of his stable of designated bull shitters will endlessly use on FOX and NPR and CNN and elsewhere.  I'm sure the New York Times will carry "balanced" coverage of it, especially in the op-ed and the "features," as Walter Benjamin said in his essay on the great and forgotten Karl Krauss,  

“Journalism,is betrayal of the literary life, of mind, of the demon. Idle chatter is its true substance, and every feuilleton poses anew the insoluble question of the relationship between the forces of stupidity and malice, whose expression is gossip”

The likes of Dershowitz and, to an extent, the show-biz created Trump operate in that relationship between "the forces of stupidity and malice, whose espression is,"  today, Twitter.   We're chumps to put our faith in the "free press," who lie with impunity.   They only serve egalitarian democracy the extent to which they are punished for lying. 

For those who want to suppress the divestment movement, this might be temporarily satisfying but in the long run, it's going to cost the a lot more than they believe they get out of it.  Israeli politics are rapidly devolving into outright Apartheid style fascism, as was predicted by a number of the most eminent Jewish intellectuals of 1948 who warned about the consequences of American support for the fascist Menachem Begin.  They were prophetic, we're seeing that coming true seventy years later.  This paragraph from their letter is as relevant to today's politics in both countries as it was that year. 

In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country  It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin's efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.

Updated:  Imagine that, me, an Irish Catholic of the traditional American liberal persuasion knows who Walter Benjamin was AND KNOWS HE WAS A MAJOR SECULAR-JEWISH INTELLECTUAL OF THE PRE-WAR PERIOD, and you don't.  If I didn't know that everything you knew you learned from TV before you were 13 I'd advise you to read him on Karl Krauss, I learned a lot about the idiocy of having faith in the "free press" freed to lie with impunity from reading him. 

His committing suicide on his party of Jews being stopped on the Spanish border by Franco's fascists would, if told honestly, make a gripping drama.  I will note that he was, despite being Jewish and having committed suicide, buried in consecrated ground in a Catholic cemetery, I believe an act of charity in violation of cannon law.  It's speculated that his suicide led to the authorities allowing his party to cross to relative safety the day after.  I think it's a rare case in which it might be asked if his suicide was, after all, in its ultimate meaning, a selfless act of sacrifice that led to others living.  One of whom was, as I recall, Arthur Koestler.   Truth is so much more dramatic than Hollywood make-believe.  Certainly more so than anything you're going to see in the ephemera of American-TV, even the crap that comes from the "quality" for-pay channels. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Magnificat in C minor - George Dyson


I can't resist reposting it, I love this setting, it's so strong and simple.  Anglican as it might be.

Messiaen: Vingt Regards - I. Regard du Pére

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano

I'm not going to post all of the twenty shewings as I have in past years but I'll post some of them.  This first one is the one of them that's most likely to start going through my mind at any given time of the year.  

I'd have liked to post those recorded by Messaien's wife Yvonne Loriod but the postings of those online aren't as clear as this one which is also excellent. 

Hate Male of the Senescent Kind

William Barr?  I don't think you can pull out the ol' "antisemtism" charges over my slamming Barr SINCE I DID IT IN THE CONTEXT OF HIS MEMBERSHIP IN THE NEO-INTEGRALIST FASCIST-"CATHOLIC" ESTABLISHMENT AT LEAST THREE TIMES WITHIN THE PAST SIX MONTHS.  Yesterday's post you attempt to twist to your use, the most recent one. 

We went through this when I had to point out that the infamous Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, Torquemada, was a member of a family of eminent conversos, who by converting became Catholics in such good standing that his uncle played pope-maker in not one but two conclaves.  

No, no.  Once they convert, they're not your problem anymore, once they convert, they become our problem from then on out.  Such are the rules, you convert, you become as Catholic as any cradle Catholic whose family have been Catholic from the time they started calling themselves one.  That's as true for scum like him as it is for St. Edith Stein, only one of a number of Catholics the Nazis murdered for being Jews. 

And it was his daddy, the scumbag who hired Jeffrey Epstein to teach at one of the most elite of elite prep schools - though he didn't have an undergraduate, never mind the typical graduate degree they want at such places, who converted.  I suspect Epstein was as good a blackmailer as he was a sexual degenerate, I wouldn't be surprised if he had the goods on the Barrs, perhaps one or both, père et fils, I can't imagine he didn't use what he knew to blackmail people when he could use that information to his own ends.  There had to be some reason that Barr sr. would discredit himself by hiring the unqualified young rapist,  I wouldn't be surprised if him possessing such information is what ended up in his alleged suicide as he was in a position to use what he knew to spring himself.  I think there's probably more reason to believe the rumor that Barr visited Epstein in jail secretly than there is in any of the clearly phony political "investigations" Barr is doing for Trump, I hold that when it comes to powerful government officials, especially in "law enforcement" you judge them by the same standards they use in their official acts/ 

I wish I could find out more about daddy Barr's conversion to see how well the reputation of those who converted him held up as the priest who was instrumental in converting a lot of the biggest scumbags in current fascist-neo-integralist "catholicism" crap like Gingrich, Brownback and Kudlow, turned out to be a sexual predator, himself, the Opus Dei predator-priest, C. John McCloskey, has unsurprisingly sunk into the degenerate scum that is the catholic far-right.

I'd have to say that Trump's timing with his redefinition of Judaism re stopping the criticism of the Israeli fascist system, you share that desire to shield them with Trump, apparently, wasn't anything I saw coming.  I suspect it had more to do with him finding out his poll numbers among American Jews are not good - he probably worries about losing Florida badly enough that the Republican-fascists in the judiciary can't hand it to him like they did Bush II.   I think it's just bizarre.   I'd love to have several million more Jews voting in our elections - something else you also call "antisemitism".  

No, William Barr is a degenerate liar-lawyer who is not the burden  of Jews, at least no more than it is anyone else who suffers under his hijacking of the Attorney General's office.  We're the ones who have to condemn that gangster in terms of Catholic moral teaching, as mentioned, as you may recall I slammed Notre Dame University for providing him with a platform, as did many other Catholics.  But I'm not accepting responsibility for Roseanne. 

A Seasonal Gift - A Scenario, Free of Charge

I think it's a sign of really being educated or, at least,  having a life of the mind that such a person will, at some time, try to write poetry or fiction and in almost all cases fail at coming up with something that even pleases them.  I will admit that I've got many notebooks which, often among notes on things I've read,  there are poems and short stories, a couple of short-novels, a one act play or so which I hope to destroy before my heirs find them and are appalled to discover that old uncle "A" was a failed and not very good writer.  

I think some of the ideas I've had aren't bad ones, or maybe it should be the scenarios aren't bad, it's the execution that's bad.  Reading the lesser novels of the greatest writers and the greatest of the lesser writers can make me feel less bad about that.   I'm just not a writer of fiction.  Anything I still write is entirely for my own consumption, when I bother to re-read it.  I do find I actually like writing when I can type it,  it's such an aid to thinking. 

One such scenario I thought of a few years back surrounds what it must have been like the first year or couple of years after Christianity came to those areas of Northern Europe where human sacrifice at the Yule and other times of the year had been practiced from time immemorial.  What a relief it must have been to those classes of people from whom such victims were taken and murdered that the pagan spectacle-murders of those poor dear old pagans - in modern romantic fictitious bull shit - and the religio-political order of paganism had done were over. 

The medieval period of Christianity had lots of terrible things happen, all of human history does, none so much as the modern, atheistical-political entities in which millions are sacrificed, not to a god but to an ideological cover-up for murderous thieves.  But one thing that happened, human sacrifice with religion as a motive ended.   

Just don't make any Christian preachers in it  sappy and sentimental.  No one Tom Hanks would be offered the role to. 

Update:  Denying The gods They Worship

Oh, come on, there are no real atheists if atheism is the belief that there is no god.

Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, natural selection is the god they worship and hold everyone must bow down before and recognize as supreme.  Daniel Dennett is the most insanely fanatical of them in that regard and that's probably because as a philospher instead of someone whose training as in the relatively trivial specialization that a career in science can be, his attention span has some staying power.

Sean Carroll, the ones who come out of a physics or pseudo-social-science background, it's  a combination of mass-energy and the probability mathematics that are used to tell stories about those in equations.  Larry Krauss with his "nothing" talk is typical of the more inastute expression of that, the late-great Hawking one of the most obvious of the true believers in probability as a creator-god. 

Also coming from the social-science side of things is the Marxist form of that in which the overarching faith in material monism just asserts that everything must have a physical explanation of things, something which the pseudo-sciences all have as their foundational claim to being sciences.   That faith, being the most attenuated form of it, makes the most absurd and outlandishly baseless and unevidenced claims of all of them.  Trotsky no less than Stalin and Lenin and Hoxha and Pol Pot.  No, failure to get the reigns of power, as in the case of the phony saint Trotsky isn't holiness, it's just a failure to get the upper hand. 

I've yet to encounter an atheist who didn't have an unacknowledged god under their claims of non-faith.  For most of them, the blog-rat variety, it's fashion and how they like to imagine they're seen by the other kewel-kids.   For some of them, either as aspiration or as their job, it's money.  That's what it is for Trump.  They're really no different except in the details. 

Wednesday after Advent 2 - Advent is a wake-up call away from such careless participation in the restless "festival of stuff."

God of summoning words, in your presence we are yet again aware of your calling that we be different in the word.  Grant us enough resolve to resist being narcotized by our society of indifference.  In his name.  Amen.

Psalm 38

Amos 8:1-14

Revelation 1:17-27

Matthew 23:1-12

Going through the motions in a mindless way is a durable temptation.  In a society of too many consumer goods, too many TV options, too much wearisome news, and the needless pursuit of commodities it is easy to give up on intentionality and simply go through the motions of what is expected at home, at work, in church.  In the oracle of Amos, the merchants, busy at exloitation, wait impatiently through the motions of Sabbath keeping.  In the Gospel reading, the opponents of Jesus are indicted for going through the motions of religious performance.  And in the address to the church as Ephesus in Revelation, the cooling of "first love" perhaps causes church life to be less than zealously engaged.

In each case the readings warn against such indifferent living.  Amos raises hard questions about economic exploitation.  Jesus calls is followers away from empty performance to serious, attentive obedience that takes the form of servanthood.  And Ephesus is called to "repent, and do the works you did at first."

Commercial Christmas is much going through the demanding motions of office parties, shopping, decorating, sending and receiving cards, wrapping gifts . . . enough to create deep fatigue.  Advent is a wake-up call away from such careless participation in the restless "festival of stuff."  An awakened "season of giving" may be marked by a new passion for economic justice, for sustained servanthood grounded in humbleness, and for listening to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. 

Walter Brueggemann:  Gift and Task

Snark Is Such A Limited Form Of Thought

Duncan Black shouldn't touch on even the comic-book, "white evangelical" view of that most troublesome book in the Second Testament canon, Revelations.  He, as almost every other member of the anti-Christian, college-credentialed population feels no obligation to know what he's talking about when he talks about things religious and he knows his audience, trained in the same anti-intellectual milieu he came up in, won't care that he misrepresents things.   I'd, myself, rather they'd left out that extremely complex book of allegory and symbolism that you can't possibly get the meaning of unless you find out what they mean.  
None of the books of the Second Testament are easy reading but that one may be the hardest to get. 

The only reason I'm even answering this snark is because some of the readings for Advent I'll be posting come from Revelations and as can be seen from Walter Brueggemann's commentary on them, they'are a lot more complex than the "fundamentalists" or the atheist people of fashion can deal with.  Their hatred of the amount of work to understand complex topics is something they share in common. 

Looking for ideological or religious motives in the American-fascist-right of which Trump is the current fake-fur-Fuhrer - Reagan was one, then Bush II - is a mistake, the only simple rule that always works with them is "follow the money". 

Hate Mail - Coincidence? HA!

I'm a "ph" Stephen, we're good people.  Those "v" Stevens?  HUMAN GARBAGE!  

Who can you believe if you don't believe Stephen Colbert?  

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tuesday after Advent 2

God of liberating disruptions,  grant us wisdom to identify the certitudes by which we live, and the courage to notice your governance even beyond our treasured certitudes.  In his name.  Amen

Psalm 26 

Amos 7:10-17

Revelation 1:9-16 

Matthew 22:34-46 

It is comforting to have an explanatory system that accounts for everything; and we all have them.  Such a system may be a theological orthodoxy that delivers unfailing assurance.  Or such a system may be a moral code that confidently reduces everything to simple right and wrong with appropriate rewards and punishments.  Or such a system may be an economic orthodoxy, like free-market capitalism, that can reduce everything to production and consumption.  Any such system  comforts us and keeps us safe.

In the purview of Advent thinking, however, any such system - theological, moral or economic - is an illusion.  It is sure to be interrupted and exposed as inadequate and placed in jeopardy.  In Christian life,  Advent is the big interruption of all our explanatory illusions.

- In the Amos reading, the liturgic certitude of Bethel is interrupted by the prophet who speaks of justice.  The priest banishes the prophet, but his words do not go away. 

-  In the book of Revelation the interruption takes the form of "a loud voice." In what follows after our text, the voice will confront the several churches with gospel truth.

-  In the Gospel reading, one of the Pharisees put a trick question to Jesus, trying to contain him in their brand of Torah interpretation.  He, however, outflanks them with his enigma statement that eludes their decipherment. 

In Advent it is useful to identify the explanatory systems on which we rely and then to consider how they are being disrupted in disconcerting ways.  We would mostly like to stop such interruption;  but, of course, we cannot. 

Why It's Essential To Look Beneath The Facade of Identity To The Gangsterism It Is There To Hide

William Barr and his henchman, scumbucket John Durham lying through their teeth, even as contradicted by the IG report on the trumped up charges that the FBI investigation into Trump's criminality was a partisan-political thing is done in full confidence that the Murdoch media and Sinclare and the huge lie operation that a majority of the American "free-press" is will ensure there are no real consequences to them.  To an extent they also rely on the corruption of the legal profession, the thing that ensured that Trump's first Cohn, Roy, kept his law license until he was about to die of AIDS when he should have lost it decades earlier.  

The corruption of the American system runs deep and thick  and will be here long after Trump goes the way of all drugged-up, self-indulgent flesh.  And it is as foul as can be.

I will concentrate on the Rupert Murdoch part of that because it allows me to expand on what I said about the degeneracy of the John Paul II papacy yesterday.  Among other things in the degenerate history of that papacy is the fact that John Paul II knighted Rupert Murdoch, making him a Knight Commander of St Gregory, something which at the time was done under the blistering criticism of many Catholics, especially Catholic women who noted that Rupert Murdoch was, literally, a porn merchant, a smut peddler and, in somc cases it was recognized, a promoter of lies and crypto-fascism.   

It may not surprise you to learn that as he was so knighted in Los Angeles, it was the pedophile enabling Cardinal Roger Mahony who promoted the knighting of the benighted smut peddler, years before Mahony was exposed for his part in the pedophile scandal, one of its major enablers in the United States as measured in money his archdioces had to pay out to victims. 

The motive of the JPII era Vatican to display its own corruption was money,  Murdoch at the behest of his then wife, Anna, a Catholic of the mafia-wife variety, gave bundles of money to putative Catholic organizations and institutions.   That is despite the fact that she married Murdoch after his first divorce and has, apparently, remarried after they were divorced.  I don't know if Rupert retained his papal knighthood when that happened, I will note that many of the right-wing Catholics who are promoted by and who work in league with Murdoch's neo-fascist media empire are exactly the same ones who railed against Pope Francis when he indicated he might be open to allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion.   There being no bottom to the hypocrisy, the depravity and the degeneracy of the Catholic far-right. 

These gangsters all work hand in glove,  their identity cover-stories don't count as anything but PR lies.  I am left curious to know if Stephen Miller has ever had anything to do with Chabad, it would explain a lot about him.   I will note that William Barr, in so far as he is at all sincere about his use of catholic-fascist organizations, is an example of the same kind of thing.   

None of this has anything to do with sincere Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, which is genuine, it's all a cover up for gangsterism just as the Mafia involvement with the Vatican Bank during the JPII years was.  

Update:  I had a few seconds and looking at one of the old archived news stories on this, it noted the awarding of the knighthood was with the approval of the Vatican Secretary of State, looking up who that was at the time I was not surprised to see it was Giovanni Battista Re, one of the more corrupt and fascistic Cardinals of the JPII, Benedict XVI regimes.  He, along with the equally awful Cardinal Sodano was instrumental in staffing the US Catholic Conference of Bishops with corrupt incompetents who still control it and those who still work hand-in-glove with the anti-Francis fascists as well as Republican-fascists in the United States. 

Too many were selected as bishops because they have been promoted by a powerful patron. For example, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo became a cardinal because he had Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re as his patron, as did Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. Such patronage explains why DiNardo, whose incompetence in his dealings with Rome have been recently revealed, became a cardinal. The large number of mediocre bishops produced by the Re and Sodano networks will stalk the church for years.

Viganò, if you've forgotten, was the one who engineered the meeting of Pope Francis with the anti-LGBT county clerk in Kentucky and, Francis not being pleased at being so used, fired him.  Viganò has been working with the likes of Cardinal Raymond Burke to smear and attack Pope Francis ever since. 

Hate Mail

I have found, there is, actually, a not insignificant literature by Jews that condemns the racism of the Lubovitch gang, especially its mirror image of Nazism in the genetic bull shit of Yitzhak Ginsburgh, which has clearly been known to those who pay attention to the Nazi-equivalence on the Israeli far right and its support in at least English speaking countries that I've found that response in.  

I can tell you one group that is also paying attention to it are, not only the Arab opposition to Israel, but the American far right who make common cause with the Lubovitch gangsters.  

But I'm more interested in how such absurd claims dressed in the trappings of science as are made by Ginsburgh, no doubt impressing his dupes with his degree in mathematics.  I think it's clearly riding in on that most anti-religious of scientific theories, natural selection, a negation of huge swaths of The Law, the Prophets and the Gospel*, though, obviously bigots like those in the Lubovitich cult and its front groups don't much care about the Gospel.  

That theory, founded in the inherent inequality of the British class system, itself in opposition to the teachings of Moses and Jesus, will always, as I have warned, generate Nazi style political agitation that is intended to benefit gangsters like the kind who rule in Israel, seemingly now in perpetuity.  That the present leaders are crooks and gangsters doesn't matter to people who are under the thrall of gangsters, either the vulgar kind that is pushed in gutter journalism, the kind that seems to push out good journalism because you can make lies, slander, racism and gossip more entertaining than the truth, or the snooty kind that would be impressed with graduate degrees in topics they don't know anything about, themselves, but they would like people to think they do.  

I don't look at these issues much but every time I do I'm shocked that this gang of thugs and mirror-Nazis isn't exposed because their influence on the American government - tied into fears of their readiness to smear their critics with cries of "antisemitism" which will be amplified in the gutter media - gives them reign to exercise influence all out of proportion to their numbers. The results in both the United States and in Israel have been catastrophic.   

If I had the time I'd go over the role that the fanatical American-Israelis, many of the worst of them part of this mirror-Nazi movement, have had, including one of them murdering 29 innocent Muslims and being made into a god by the cult and the role it had in the assassination of the Prime Minister who may have been the last chance of Israel making peace with the Palestinians.  The fascists have ruled, more or less continually, ever since.   That's not a surprise, natural selection has that political intent and effect as Ernst Haeckel noted in the 1870s with the full endorsement of Charles Darwin.  It should be a lot less of a shock it is when you hear them sounding like Nazis with a few of the nouns switched around, it's what natural selection as applied to the human population always skirts when it doesn't go there.   I call it out in the United States,I call it out in Britain and in Europe and, on occasion, in Asia and,in the past, South Africa.  I'm certainly not going to ignore it in Israel. 

*  It wasn't until I was looking up the links to and reading yesterday's portion of Gift and Task that I realized the timing of the post and the contents of the readings.  

I also occurred to me, later, that those parts of the attempt by some Jewish groups to come up with an official definition of "antisemitism" the parts that would officially proclaim that those who compared the policies of Israel or Jews to Nazism to be "antisemites" would have the effect of shielding exactly this kind of mirror-Nazism from criticism, helping to hide it from those who could be cowed and gulled by that.  I don't know if that was the overt motive, to protect this kind of genetic-Nazi style bull shit from wider exposure but that is the obvious effect it would have.  

Monday, December 9, 2019

Monday after Advent 2

God beyond our explanations, give us imaginative freedom, that we may rest before the splendor of your power for life that relativises both our accomplishments and our anxieties.  In his name,  Amen. 

Psalm 25 

Amos 7:1-9 

Revelation 1:1-8

Matthew 22:23-33

The Sadducees are exemplars of "the arithmetic of this age."   They think they can figure it all out, explain everything and so control and manage their life in the world.  Jesus counters their domesticated reasoning by witnessing to the alternative reality, known in Scriptures, of the power of God that is not controlled or domesticated by our calculation.   The defining reality is the God attested by our Genesis ancestors who is the god of the living.   Thus God has the singular capacity and resolve to bring life out of death,  to call into existence things that do not exist. 

The soaring rhetoric of our reading in Revelation situates the power of God,  fleshed in Jesus, outside the scope of our capacity.  It does so by appeal to the old tradition of "coming with the clouds,'  that is, outside our explanatory systems.  The ultimate claim is that the Holy One, embodied in Jesus, is "the Alpha and the Omega,"  the beginning before our explanations, the completion after our management.  The rhetoric shows how impotent and irrelevant is the closed reality of people like the Sadducees who think they can manage the mystery and gift of life.

It is a sobering admission of Advent to recognize that we are not the alpha.  We are not the beginning point,  not self-made, not self-sufficient;  before us and behind us is the power for life that is pure gift to be received in trusting gratitude.  It is an equally sobering admission of Advent to recognize that we are not the omega.  We are not the point of it all.  We are not the best imaginable outcome,  the completion of creation.  It is no wonder that the crowd was astonished by Jesus' testimony to the resurrection!  

Republicans Would Put Jesus In A Baby Cage and Deport His Parents As They Didn't Bother To Make A Record Of It

I came to this story about one of the best manger scenes ever, Jesus Mary and Joseph in Trump baby cages, through RMJ/s blog.  This most faithful to the story and to The Gospels display was put up by the Claremont United Methodist Church in California.   The Rev. Karen Clark Ristine said:  

What if this family sought refuge in our country today? Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center as more than 5,500 children have been the past three years. Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people.

As could be predicted, the anti-Christ, in the form of Republican-fascism, Trumpism, "white evangelical 'christianity'" etc. are freaking out over it, but they're in continual violation of the old "What would Jesus Do" thing in regard to the least among us, the widow, the orphan, the sick, the stranger among us, THE FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE PRISONER

That freak-out by the pseudo-Christians is to be expected.  Unfortunately, in the link from Rawstory which did a fairly decent piece about this, I made the mistake of seeing if the entirely predictable and viciously stupid atheist snark over it would also be there, with few exceptions, it was.   A few atheists got it, most of them were typical atheist assholes. As I have pointed out before, not all atheists are assholes, but a hell of a lot of them are.  

But that's not the point.  I looked to see if there was anywhere online I could send the Claremont Methodists a donation for the fund mentioned in the stories about this, alas, their website seems to be down.  I hope it's down with floods of support and not with threats and idiotic snark.  I hope I remember to look again when this has calmed down again.   Remind me. 

Hate Mail - When What You Want Isn't Really Equality

A long time ago, in his column in The Nation, the atheist, Marxist commentator and sometimes not that bad journalist Alexander Cockburn asked the kind of provocative question he often would ask.  Noting that someone in the New York based media had recently said, in public, for publication "fuck the Pope" to the approval of many and the condemnation of practically no one, Cockburn asked what would happen if someone in the same milieu had said "fuck the Lubovitcher Rebbe," the then still living, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the central figure of a fascistic, Kabbalistic cult with enormous influence in the United States, even more in Israel and elsewhere.  I admit that the sheer novelty of "fuck the Lubovitcher Rebbe" as opposed to the common as dirt "fuck the Pope" did kind of jar me.  I was vaguely aware of Schneerson's existence as the center of a Jewish cult that I'd read sometimes engaged in small local riots with a smaller "fundamentalist"* Jewish cult in which women shaved their heads and wore wigs but I didn't know much about it.   I figured people had a right to their own ideas, presented in the American media in rather innocuous terms. 

As I recall Cockburn's transgression did get a reaction, not the same one that saying "fuck the Pope" would get and decidedly not uniformly or mostly positive.  Though it was a good question.  I, by the way, have no problem with someone who was angry at John Paul II who would have been Pope when I read that saying "fuck the Pope" though it is a rather stupid thing to say when you could be pointing out some of the very many things that were truly bad about his long papacy, one of the worst in the modern period.  Pointing some of the worst of those out was to say far worse about him than dropping the common as dirt and so impotent, "f" bomb.   

The extent to which JPII may have played an important role in bringing down the Soviet stranglehold on many Eastern European countries and,so, the collapse of the Soviet dictatorship, was mitigated by his many other grotesque faults, such as his and his appointees (such as the putrid Bernard Law) support for fascism in the West.  I still expect that someday the documents identifying him as a CIA asset may surface.  

I don't believe he should have been canonized a saint.  I don't find his saintliness in evidence, though the grotesque cult of personality he mounted with its many vulgar and repulsive spectacles with him at the center (it's a mistake to elect a pope who spent time in the theater) may have hidden some of that from me.   I will note that though I thoroughly dislike much about him, as I have found out more about Pius XII, cutting through the smears of him, many of them flowing from Stalin and then Khrushchev's gangster regime through the Western "left", my opinion of him has risen. 

But as I read more about him in the intervening years, Schneerson was a pretty awful figure too, as is his cult, behind the well constructed PR facade.  His racism was florid and often expressed in what can be best understood as inverted Nazism or some of the worst excesses of Louis Farrakhan.   Like the Nazis, he held that Jews were a different species from non-Jews, and in the mirror image of Nazism,  that Jewish souls were superior and different than the souls of gentiles.  

As some of his critics have pointed out, what made him merely a huge asshole in the United States where his cult had some influence but was only one among many influential cults in largely gentile America.  In Israel where his fanatical cult holds more influence, his racism, often sanitized when his rants were translated,  was far less diluted and it had real life consequences for Palestinians.   And after his death and his failure to rise from the dead as, reportedly, some of his cult members expected, his racist and violent legacy lives on in his continuing cult.  Since I mentioned the worst mass murder in the history of Canada, done in the name of male supremacy, I can mention the mass murderer, Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Muslims in cold blood is venerated by that cult and one of its major figures, Yitzchak Ginsburgh, has lavished praise on the man and his mass murders on the basis of one of the things Schneerson taught, that gentiles are not really human and that it is permissible to murder them.   In some of his Nazi-like declarations, he even claimed that gentiles were there to serve Jews, sounding like the Nazi intentions of how they were going to enslave the slavic people they didn't murder. 

I'm all for calling a jerk a jerk no matter who they are and no matter what their identity is.  And I'm also in favor of not smearing people who don't praise and worship jerks with people who are total assholes entirely independent of the innocent.  The Lubavitcher cult isn't Judaism, it's a racist, violent despicable cult just as Opus Dei and the Legionaries of Christ are cults and what seems to have devolved into another cult of personality, the Catholic League.  I will note, as an aside,  the Catholic League that its logo is a sword against a shield, so no "those who live by the sword shall die by the sword," for them. NO ALLEGEDLY CHRISTIAN GROUP THAT WIELDS A SWORD OR HAS ONE AS ITS LOGO SHOULD BE TAKEN AS OTHER THAN PSEUDO-CHRISTIAN.   It was also, reportedly, modeled by its founder on the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League, two groups with a rather mixed, record, as well.   All of those groups together don't represent Catholics anymore than Scheerson or Ginsburgh do Jews. 

*  I don't think the word "fundamentalist" really works for anything except the American neo-confederate pseudo-Christian group and their cohort that self-consciously wrote and adopted The Fundamentals.  That group shares a lot of the racism, potential and actual violence and reactionary gangsterism as other groups mis-called "fundamentalist" but the temptation for the ignorant is to associate the claims and ideologies of such groups as, somehow, representative of authenticity within whatever religious group they claim to represent the authentic version of.  I know and have known Jews who tried to follow the commandments of Judaism and they're nothing like Schneerson's cult, a lot of them are opponents of the fascist political movement that flows from such sources and the Israeli fascism that it supports.   

I think "fascist cult" is a better term for them, or cutting to the real center of it, "gang mob".  I think a lot of the "orthodox" followers of a number of religious identities are actually covers for gangsters, the Catholic, the Jewish, a number of Protestant identities, Islamic, Orthodox Christian (mixing nationalism and religion will almost always produce gangster activity) Hindu, Buddhist (as will be in evidence as the Buddhist genocide against Muslims in Burma is defended at the UN this week) and atheist (Marxists, anarchists, etc).   Once you drop the identity bull shit and call gangster activity what it is, it's a lot easier to see how what we're supposed to consider and treat with such piety can produce the mafia or the Kushner family or Sheldon Adelson or Franklin Graham or Jerry Falwell jr. or the stuff that Tim Busch supports.  

When you drop the false-front, "gangster" would seem to almost always fully explain things. 

Update:  By now you know I wouldn't say something like that without having the backup for it.  

Among the religious settlers in the Occupied territories the Chabad Hassids constitute one of the most extreme groups.  Baruch Goldstein, the mass murderer of Palestinians, was one of them (Goldstein will be discussed in Chapter 6.)  Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, who wrote a chapter of a book in praise of Goldstein and what he did, is another member of their group.  Ginsburgh is the former head of the Yoseph Tomb Yeshiva, located on the outskirts of Nablus.  Rabbi Ginsburgh, who originally came to Israel from the United States and had good connection to the Lubovitcher community in the United States, has often expressed his views in English in American Jewish publications.  The following appeared in an April 26, 1996 Jewish Week (New York) article that contained an interview with Rabbi Ginsburgh:


Regarded as one of the Lubovitcher sect's leading authorities on Jewish mysticism, the St. Louis born rabbi, who also has a graduate degree in mathematics, speaks freely of Jew's genetic-based, spiritual superiority over non-Jews.  It is a superiority that he asserts invests Jewish life with greater value in the eyes of the Torah.  "If you saw two people drowning,  a Jew and a non-Jew, the Torah says you sa e the Jewish life first,"  Rabbi Ginsburgh told the Jewish Week "If every simple cell in a Jewish body entails divinity,  is a part of God, then every strand of DNA is part of God.  Therefore, something is special about Jewish DNA."  Later, Rabbi Ginsburgh asked rhetorically;  "If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him?  The Torah would probably permit that.  Jewish life has an infinite value," he explained.  "There is something infinitely more holy and unique about Jewish life than non-Jewish life."


Changing the words "Jewish" to "German" or "Aryan" and "non-Jewish" to "Jewish" turns the Ginsburgh position into the doctrine that made Auschwitz possible in the past.  To a considerable extent the German Nazi success depended upon that ideology and upon its implications not being widely known early.  Disregarding even on a limited scale the potential effects of messianic, Lubovitch and other ideologies could prove to be calamitous.

From: Jewish Fundamentalism In Israel by Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky

I will point out that Israel Shahak was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and death camps who was an Israeli citizen and an eminent organic chemist as well as a long time campaigner for equality and democracy who was despised and attacked for speaking out for minority rights.   His writing has been largely disappeared from the American media in the typical way when someone mentions inconvenient truths.