Easter Sunday means our annual tradition - a tradition unlike any other - it's Easterdown!
121 is here. This is 122.
1. Religion's Demand for Obedience
The most important epistemological shift in western history (and in our individual lives) is one from knowledge based on authority to an understanding of the world based on reason. In almost every course I teach I reference the Enlightenment, humanity grabbing for itself the ability to find truth.
Who we (the collective we, all of us, you me and all of our dead brothers in the struggle) took that power from was religion, and the fight continues in 2012.
Religion is very much a holdover from the dark ages of the past, and the world's holy books still enshrine the ancient demands for us to bow down and obey the (conveniently unseen and absent) gods, and more importantly, the human beings who claim the right to act as their representatives. It's no surprise, then, that the most fervent advocates of religion in the modern world are also the most deeply inculcated with this mindset of command and obedience.
2. Hedges on Christian Fascism
Chris Hedges, with a Masters in Divinity from Harvard, writes this.
All debates with the Christian Right are useless. We cannot reach this movement. It does not want a dialogue. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. It is not mollified because John Kerry prays or Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School. These naive attempts to reach out to a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to them that we too have “values,” would be humorous if the stakes were not so deadly. They hate us. They hate the liberal, enlightened world formed by the Constitution. Our opinions do not count.
This movement will not stop until we are ruled by Biblical Law, an authoritarian church intrudes in every aspect of our life, women stay at home and rear children, gays agree to be cured, abortion is considered murder, the press and the schools promote “positive” Christian values, the federal government is gutted, war becomes our primary form of communication with the rest of the world and recalcitrant non-believers see their flesh eviscerated at the sound of the Messiah's voice.
The spark that could set it ablaze may be lying in the hands of an Islamic terrorist cell, in the hands of the ideological twins of the Christian Right. Another catastrophic terrorist attack could be our Reichstag fire, the excuse used to begin the accelerated dismantling of our open society. The ideology of the Christian Right is not one of love and compassion, the central theme of Christ's message, but of violence and hatred. It has a strong appeal to many in our society, but it is also aided by our complacency. Let us not stand at the open city gates waiting passively and meekly for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching rudely towards Bethlehem . Let us, if nothing else, begin to call them by their name.
3. A Panel Discussion
The United States as Christian Nation.
4. Biblical Support for Slavery
It's reasonable to offer, as many Christians do, that the Bible is an ancient book not to be taken literally.
But those who call homosexuality an abomination based on literal interpretation of scripture have a requirement to explain why they don't similarly argue (at least not anymore) that slavery is also sanctioned by God.
6. The Book You Should Buy
The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children.
Only 3 1/2 years ago, I would have found such a state of affairs hard to imagine. My awakening came when an after-school group called the Good News Club set up shop offering “Bible study” in my daughter’s public elementary school in Santa Barbara, California. It rapidly became clear that the group’s aim was to convert young children and use them to spread its fundamentalist version of Christianity. The club wanted to be in the school to foster the impression among children that its religion was endorsed by the school.
The club was part of a larger organization known as the Child Evangelism Fellowship. Founded more than 70 years ago, the CEF had only a small presence in public schools until 2001, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the exclusion of such clubs from after-school programs represented a violation of their free-speech rights. This legal armor has given them an advantage over regular clubs that offer sports or crafts, because school administrators are now legally compelled to grant access. In 2010, there were 3,439 Good News Club groups, almost all in public K-6 schools around the country.
Among the clubs’ teachings: There is only one “right” way to live, and that is to believe in Jesus; anyone who fails to conform will go to hell. The activists I met who work with the CEF have an especially restrictive view of who qualifies as a Christian. Among the “unchurched,” they include most Catholics, U.S. Episcopalians, United Methodists, liberal Congregationalists and Presbyterians, as well as Mormons—anyone who doesn’t meet their understanding of “Bible-believing” Christianity.
7. David Barton Lies
David Barton, professional Christian liar, has a new book about Jefferson. Here's a two hour debunking.
8. Where's Fox News On This?
As you know, there's a terrible war on Christians in the United States. Only a matter of time before saying Merry Christmas is made illegal, probably as a provision in Obamacare. Christian expression is always getting punished.
Like in Ohio, where a student was prohibited from wearing a t-shirt to high school.
9. If You've Gotten This Far
The greatest piece in Deadspin history.
10. Who Has a New Album?
Rony F'n Seikaly
The Great Chinaglia.
That's all for this time. I'll be back next time. If there is a next time...