Thursday, November 12, 2009

Catholic ultimatum: Obey, or the poor will starve!

What would Jesus do?

Jesus had no trouble interacting with prostitutes, beggars, and Samaritans. He was not an -ism sort of guy. When his questioners phrased their queries in the third person ("What must a man do to ..."), Jesus usually responded with "You must". No shift of responsibility from the individual to society was allowed under his watch. No dogma would exculpate individual failure.

The Roman Catholic Church has been in retrograde motion from Vatican II since the assent of John Paul II, and has under Benedict XVI rapidly increased its purge of liberalism within and without the Church.

Its latest candidate for the Grinch Award comes with an ultimatum issued by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. to the District that it will be "unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law".

Rather than extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, Catholic Charities would rather deny shelter to the homeless and food to the hungry.

Quo vadis? Mat 25:34-46 suggests that this is ill-advised strategy for someone wanting to get to heaven:

Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'

Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'

And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Even that firebrand St. Paul would find the current Catholic self-righteousness un-Christlike and counterproductive, as he clearly states in Romans 12:14-20:

Bless those who persecute (you), bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.

Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."

Rather, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head."

If you cannot give charity without preconditions and with selfless generosity of spirit, then keep your money. As St. Paul says so passionately in 1 Cor 13:4:

If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

The poor, the hungry, the homeless, are not pawns in some Vatican chess game. Threatening to withhold succor from them to blackmail and pressure secular politicians is evil.

In the 70's we used to sing in mass, "you will know we are Christians by our love". If only that were still true.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hydrogen's Love Affair with Helium

One lonely Hydrogen atom sees how noble Helium is and wants to join with another Hydrogen atom to form a Hydrogen marriage. At first, they just moved in together, but inevitably a third Hydrogen would come along and break up this cohabitation scheme. Finally, they decide to fuse their nuclei like Helium.

The Latter naturally object, insisting that only Helium can do that (though rumor has it that sometimes Helium sneaks in an extra neutron or two, those are called Fundamentalist Helium but are now officially disowned by the Periodic Table), and that two Hydrogen could never get close enough to have what Helium has. Once inside they might seduce other nucleons to change identity and destroy chemistry as we know it (indeed it was standard practice to expel from the nucleus such deviants via radiation).

Helium got together with its buddies Neon and Argon to form a coalition of the willing, even though Argon was too heavy to be of use, and stingy Neon turned out to be no more buoyant than hot air (and secretly loathed Helium), so in the end it was Helium, being the lightest, who did the heavy lifting. They passed a ballot proposition by telling the other elements that Hydrogen's real goal is not nobility but alchemy, and that anyway they already had their own, much weaker, Hydrogen bond.

Outraged, Hydrogen charged straight at the Helium nucleus, expecting to do battle with the usual inverse-square repulsive electric force of Evangelical positive ions, the seductive power of vice-ridden negative ions, and the side-swiping of the well-meaning but just as deterring magnetic force which, rather than do any work to help, merely diverts Hydrogen with offers of separate-but-equal civil union, pushing Hydrogen off course and sending him in circles.

But unexpectedly, when Hydrogen got close to Helium, he sensed an unusually strong but very short-range force which he could not explain and did not understand. Formerly indifferent to his presence, Helium was inexplicably and strongly resistant to his nuclear ambitions. Many Hydrogen, understandably angry, started calling Helium bad names like Boron. But one Hydrogen suspected that the very force that was repelling him was the same strong force that bound the Helium nucleus so harmoniously.

More determined than ever, Hydrogen joined Helium blogs (the other noble gas blogs were uninsightful and poorly written) in the hope of understanding the true nature of this strong nuclear force, so powerful that Helium does not steal electrons, is not attracted to alcohol or caffeine molecules, and is always so level-headed.

Now this no-longer lonely Hydrogen does not just advocate for Hydrogen rights or disparage or envy Helium, but seeks to understand the true nature of the strong nuclear force, just one small but essential step on my path to discovering a unified theory of my universe.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pope trolling for Anglicans

The NYTimes reports that the Vatican is bidding to Get Anglicans to join the Catholic fold, while maintaining their separate traditions of non-celibate clergy. It seems that politics trumps long-held belief.
More shocking still is that this flies in the face of Pope Benedict XVI's very own words1 (when he was merely Josef Cardinal Ratzinger):

“Although the particular inclination of the [Anglican priest to become Catholic yet retain the right to marry] is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”
“[Marriage for a Catholic priest] is not a complementary union, able to transmit [eternal] life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which [the Catholic Church] says is the essence of Christian [sacerdotal] living. This does not mean that [married priests] are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in [married life] they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.”
“The Church teaches that respect for [priests in other traditions who do choose to marry] cannot lead in any way to approval of [such] behavior or to legal recognition [under canon law] of [connubial] unions. Legal recognition [of marriage among the clergy] or placing them on the same level as [the celibate priest] would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior.”
“Allowing [parishioners] to be [put in the pastoral care of priests] living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children [of God], in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development [and that of their Catholic faith and identity].”
“There are absolutely no grounds for considering [priestly marriage] to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan [for the Priesthood]. [The celibate sacerdotal calling] is holy, while sexual acts go against the natural law [of priestly chastity].”
“The various forms of the dissolution of [the priesthood ]today, like free[dom of thought], trial [priests], and going up to pseudo-[ordinations] by people of [other religious traditions], are rather expressions of an anarchic freedom that wrongly passes for true freedom of man [embracing celibacy in a life devoted to God].”
“[T]he church, while deeply respecting the people in question, cannot admit to the seminary and the sacred orders those who practice [their Holy Orders within the bounds of marriage], present deeply rooted [conjugal] tendencies, or support so-called [liberal] culture. Those people find themselves, in fact, in a situation that presents a grave obstacle to a correct relationship with [God]. One cannot ignore the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of people with deeply-rooted [Protestant] tendencies.”

1Actually,those words within brackets above not Ratzinger's but my own. I have made a few key substitutions to accentuate the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church under the leadership of the present pontiff. I trust I have not done any more violence to the Pope's thinking than He Himself already has.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cheney is playing Obama...good!

Full disclosure: I loathe Dick Cheney.

Now, after torturing prisoners of war, illegally wiretapping Americans, and conspiring to out Valerie Plame, Cheney dares to shame President Obama into agreeing with him to support same-sex marriage! Obama must now either take the bait and admit that gays are worthy of that sacred institution (after which the Republicans will no doubt wedge the issue mercilessly) or else be to the right of Dick Cheney on a central tenet of the Progressive agenda.

What is a President to do? If you are Jimmy Carter or Harry Truman, you make the moral choice and take the heat. If you are Bill Clinton, (either) George Bush, or the last emperor of Russia, you consult your James Carville, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, or Rasputin to pick the politically safe choice. (Safe at the time, though the Romanov and Bush dynasties show that history is not always kind to political expediency).

Obama too has his Rahm Emanuel, the man who allegedly cannot call his mother without appending a four-letter word. Obama has defied all expectations (including my own) to become President, and I am very glad for it. Clearly the Man with Hope (like the Man from Hope) has a strong dose of political savvy behind the charisma and needs no advice from me.

Still, I will give it. President Obama, it is time to take that 63% approval rating out for a spin (eerily prescient, Mr. Sorkin!) The American people are fickle, but history is not.

Dick Cheney is suckering you Mr. President. Show him you're smarter than that.

Take the bait.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Primus inter pares: a strategic blunder

While reading Stuart Whatley's blog post Moral Majority or Immoral Minority?, I was struck by one sentence:

If conservatives wish to elevate their fight against same-sex marriage to primus inter pares without a smarting backlash, they will have to somehow justify this exclusive denial of rights as something other than hidebound bigotry.

Primus inter pares (first among equals) is the status that conservatives currently allot to heterosexuality. Not five years ago, homosexuality was hedonistic. Fifteen years ago, it was perverted. Twenty-five years ago, it was a mental illness.

Conservatives have been playing catch-up with the American public, admitting only enough normality to homosexuality to remain credible on the issue. Unfortunately for them, as in a tug-of-war contest, once you start sliding, the ground gives way from under you. Justice Scalia himself noted in his dissent to Lawrence v. Texas that there is no other basis besides the right of the majority to impose its moral standards for discriminating against homosexuals (or for that matter, bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity). As usual, Scalia gives into to shocking exaggeration for effect, but he is largely correct. The only essential difference (barring direct revelation from a Higher Power) between bigotry and public morality is whether the majority (and the Court) feel good about themselves in thinking it.

The public is no longer feeling comfortable with large-scale discrimination against gays. The inevitable side-effect is that there is no other intellectually coherent stopping point. Either gays are defective, immoral, or normal. After ceding the judgment of "defective" in 1975 and "immoral" in 2003, there is only "normal" left.

The latest arguments against same-sex marriage are variously fatuous (it harms opposite-sex marriage), bizarre (it leads to sex with animals), or highly speculative (it harms children). The only plausible arguments, that being gay is a "bad thing" and should not be rewarded, or that marriage is about children and not spouses, are now soundly political losers, rejected by a substantial majority of Americans. Those left adrift in the political center who believe simultaneously that being gay is just fine but that marriage is preferentially for straight people with children are standing on logically thin ice. Their thinking is not at an equilibrium state, and the internal contradiction will inevitably impel them either forward or back, for there is no rational middle ground.

We are not now at a crossroads. That dilemma is past. Those old people stuck in that past have learned too late that righteous indignation, once bereft of righteousness, becomes mere bigotry. Pace Dylan Thomas, even as they grieve it on its way, and do not go gentle into that good night, their time to rule is passing.

And for me, that is none too soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Obama, remember us?

The road to the White House is paved with broken promises.

Obama promised as a candidate to end Don't Ask Don't Tell. He is the Commander-in-Chief. He has a Congress begging to do his bidding. He promised as a candidate to end discrimination against gays in the military.

He has done nothing.

At the White House Correspondents' Dinner, he jokingly compared himself to God, saying that He had accomplished his first 100 days in only 72. And on the 73rd day, He rested.

If you have time to rest, Mr. Obama, you have time to remember your campaign promise and stop allowing the throwing away of valuable military talent (and people's careers) by resistant generals who will drag this out until you are out of office. Congress is willing to follow, but loath to lead, on this issue. You have only to expend a microfraction of the immense political capital that you have.

I know that gays are not going to win politicians any elections (though fortunately we are no longer losing them any!). That is precisely why honoring a commitment to fairness in taking active steps to end discrimination against us is such a clear sign of integrity. It is time to do the right thing.

Because political capital is a terrible thing to waste.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Black Dyke got it just right

The black dyke got it wrong. No one told her the rules.

Thus allegedly (and laconically) did Christopher Hitchens call out Wanda Sykes over her undiplomatic and sarcastic “humorous” jabs at all things Republican at the White House Correspondents' Dinner a few days ago.

He is half right. Ms. Sykes is indeed black and (by her own admission) a dyke. It is highly likely that someone did tell her the rules, she just didn't play along.

Nor does Mr. Hitchens. I suspect I am the one missing Hitchens' own satire. Perhaps it was this repulsive idea — that adulatory, sycophantic, even fawning media elite who go to sleep nightly with Beltway-ese language tapes and rise the next day to insinuate themselves farther up Obama's backstory still find it necessary to vaunt (and flaunt) their insider status with a yearly orgy of self-important stroking disguised as stand-up comedy with the very people whom they are paid to investigate — this idea which impelled the usually expansive wordsmith to encode his nausea in two short satirical sentences.

A judge cavorting with a prosecutor would be disbarred. Why do journalists get a pass? Obama calls it torture, yet the New York Times cannot?

The real zinger was when Obama got real at the end of his roast. Crudely speaking (if Obama could speak crudely, which I doubt): “Your industry pimped itself out and lost the trust of the people, who then took matters into their own hands. Now you're crying to me. Sorry, can't help you.”

A credulous press is a threat to our democracy. Bloggers like me know this. Most journalists do to. And then there are the White House Correspondents who prefer their gossip served up first hand in the East Room, where propaganda offends less than rearranging the seating chart. Their paymasters in turn have learned from Limbaugh that in large part the American people are intellectually lazy and chronically incurious and want their prejudgments confirmed by self-selected “news” sources.

So what? If you can't pay for the ink and paper, stop printing (and go online). If you can't pay the correspondent to propagate (as in, propaganda) the words of others, facilitate the countless volunteers who actually want to research a policy (and and not the one making it). Who cares if Obama is for healthcare reform, the question is whether I am for healthcare reform (and if so, which kind?) Any journalism worthy of the name should at least help me decide that I need to decide such things.

This noble quest is now in the hands of bloggers, many histrionic, most partisan, all opinionated. Still, readers are only one Google search away from every side of any issue. Bloggers compete in a truly free market for your attention, and “even though we cannot affirm that the products of mimesis are invested in the panoply of existence” (i.e. even if we're just bullshitting you), a quick survey of opinions (and their sources) quickly sieves fact from fiction.

Did the Black Dyke get it wrong? She wasn't the one voting against my same-sex marriage. She did not worry that in embarrassing Sean Hannity (or herself) she might (heaven forbid) also be embarrassing Barack Obama...unlike the access-craving sheeple in the audience.

If the label "Black Dyke" seems incomplete, perhaps it is because you were secretly thinking "Uppity Black Dyke" and wondered why Hitchens censored himself (and Wanda Sykes). Clearly Sykes has no problem with this designation, for it is the calling of truthseekers. Uppity is exactly what journalists should be, upending the cherished decorum of smugness pervading the Inner Circle who have forgotten that at the heart of Correspondent is the verb "respond". Uppity White Fag is what I aspire to be when one day I get the chance to speak to such a large and influential audience as Wanda Sykes did. Meanwhile, I will settle for Lonely Voice Crying out in the Wilderness.

Love is patient, love is kind. But the truth is jarring and rude. It imposes on friends and turns on its own.

I suppose the Fox News table could have walked out on Sykes' ungracious contumely. But then they would have missed the after-dinner schmoozing, and that would have been such a waste of privilege.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

LDS proxy baptism is none of my business

Poor tormented soul.

Obama's mother was abducted recently. Last seen on Cloud 9, her soul was brazenly stolen by proxy baptists, posthumously baptized into the LDS Church, and is feared lost in a post-mortal LDS eschatology. Although archangels are out looking for her, God Himself seems powerless to stop this odious practice. Obama is considering sending in the clowns.

Truly, the world has gone mad.

If President Obama's religion is even remotely true, then it is asinine to believe that a member of the LDS Church (or any other mortal besides Stanley Ann Dunham herself) has any say over her final resting place. In fact, asinine is too kind (and yet too mean to donkeys). It is heresy to believe this, and any self-respecting (non-Mormon) Christian should be ashamed to have let such paganism into his or her belief system.

It is no surprise to read that the Vatican has called LDS baptisms for the dead a “detrimental practice” and directed each Catholic diocesan bishop “not to cooperate with the erroneous practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (according to the Salt Lake Tribune). After all, they should know about "erroneous practices", given their history.

If we all claim to know the Truth, why the outrage when what they others quietly (even secretly) undertake a ritual we believe will be completely ineffective and harmless?

Slander, pure and simple. However disguised, it is an unjustified free kick at a political opponent. What's not to like? Plenty. Gays are culturally more "odd" than Mormons, and those attempting to "shame" us with our "odd" beliefs are waiting in line to see if the mud sticks to Mormons before pour hot tar onto gays. Those avidly watching Big Love today will be laughing at Butt Love tomorrow.

It is not hard to find legitimate points of disagreement with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has not earned my good will in playing such a central role in opposing my same-sex marriage (a purely civil matter) through lobbying (inappropriate for a tax-free institution).

But if we want the LDS church not to meddle in our civil marriage laws, who are we to tell them what secret (and, we believe, vain) ritual they might undergo in the privacy of their own temple? We need to take our own advice and butt out.

By all means, take my future soul away with proxy baptism, and leave me my same-sex marriage here on Earth. Now that's a bargain I can live with.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spoken Sango: a musical language

For those of you wondering what Sango is, wonder no more. Sango is the national language of the Central African Republic (the official language being French). There are also numerous tribal languages, making most Central Africans trilingual at least.

For those of you out there wondering how Sango sounds when spoken, wonder no more. For your listening pleasure I give you the November 5, 2008 evening broadcast of Radio Centrafrique, Sango language edition, where President Bozize offers his congratulations to President-elect Obama.

You can download the Sango version, or listen here:

For comparison, you can download the French version, or listen here:

I hope you hear how musical spoken Sango is, with its high, medium, and low tones like Chinese. If you listen closely, you can hear numerous French words slipping in (a hallmark of educated urbanites), although the prepared text of the broadcast does try hard to limit the number of loadwords where possible to help develop Sango as a sufficiently rich language on its own.

For those who understand neither Sango nor French, President Bozize expressed (very roughly) the pride that (Central) Africans have that a man of half-African descent has become the most powerful man in the most powerful country of the world, and that this is a sign that skin color is no longer an issue. The Sango motto of the CAR is Zo Kwe Zo (literally "Person-each person") meaning that every person is a somebody, regardless of tribe (or by extension, race or nationality). Those who think this sounds an awful lot like the South African idea of Ubuntu have good instincts. Both phrases center on the word "humanity". For Americans, Obama's election is a welcome sign that we too are at last embracing the idea that Zo Kwe Zo. Strom Thurmond must be rolling over in his grave.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why does the State care about marriage anyway?

Stand To Reason Blog asserts what they consider the essential Rational Basis for the State to oppose gay marriage:

...marriage isn't an issue of fairness. It's not a civil right. It's necessarily discriminatory because it favors the kinds of relationships that the state has in interest in. Marriage is unique in that it produces the next generation of society, an interest all cultures must favor. Marriage also provides the kind of stability that not only protects children. Without that kind of stability when the family breaks down, the state has all sorts of new burden that affect everyone, including increased crime and poverty that social programs are then needed to fill the gaps.

The state obviously has an interest in traditional marriage.

Obviously? Let's look a little closer:

  1. The California Supreme Court has applied the standard of "strict scrutiny" in the appelate review in re Marriage, not a "rational basis" standard, so even if the above were true, it is not sufficient cause to oppose gay marriage. The State must clearly show not that children might be harmed but that in statistically significant numbers they will be harmed. No such evidence has been accepted by any court to my knowledge, and most certainly not the California Supreme Court.

  2. None of the three branches of California State government have made the above argument, nor did Proposition 8 make it (having after all only 14 words in it). To be relevant in a legal context, this argument must be advanced through Executive Order, Legislative Action, Judicial Finding, or Popular Initiative. Blogging provides no legal standing.

  3. The claim is facially untrue. Marriage does not produce the next generation, sexual reproduction does. This not only does not need marriage, it will soon not even need parents. A fertilized egg could be incubated, or a person cloned.

  4. The claim is substantively untrue: "About half the babies born in Sweden are born to unwed mothers, though very few are born to teenagers....Despite all these “problems,” the Swedish birth rate has increased steadily since 1970 (Home sweet home, 1995), and children rarely suffer....Swedish children showed the highest educational performance of the four groups in the study, the lowest percentage in poverty, and nearly the lowest child abuse death rate."

  5. The state obviously has an interest in traditional marriage.

    No. The state might have an interest in traditional child rearing, in which case it must more narrowly tailor its support, allowing binding marriage proposals only to a woman who conceives (or declares her intention to conceive) a child, with whoever she thinks can best co-parent with her. This marriage proposal would automatically become a marriage contract upon successful live birth (and be retroactively nullified upon failure to achieve this) and would automatically dissolve when there are no children of minority age. Spousal cohabitation (unlike the parent-child relationship) would be a matter purely of contract law, with default nuptial obligations when no prenuptial agreement is in place. In fact, the child would logically even have standing to sue both parents for breach of contract in the case of divorce or family strife. The State obviously has no business involving itself so intimately in the intimate lives of adult relationships, and certainly not in an unequal and discriminatory fashion.

Family law is very messy business, and the courts continually seek (and are legislatively encouraged to seek) advice and guidance on child welfare issues from experts to form a time-varying consensus understanding to inform their legal judgment. There are already ample sanctions against irresponsible parents, without government intrusion into the private lives of consenting adults.

There is a meme, relentlessly promoted by anti-same-sex-marriage advocates, that the State has a right—and duty— to care about marriage. It does not. The State has a duty only to children, not to parents, and though it may permissibly embed what is clearly an instinctive bipartite pair bonding (common among most all higher-order animals) in contract (spousal) and family (child) law, it has no right to restrict this institution to opposite-sex couples. Many religious arguments against same-sex marriage have been advanced, but the First Amendment forbids consideration of these in our civic framework.

No wonder this tired argument never made it out of the sermons and blog pages and into a legal finding. Not the California Supreme Court, not the Assembly or Senate, not even our Republican Governor has shown any more sympathy for this argument than I have.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

LDS and Prop. 8: Losing sight of the goal?

It has been said that the fanatic is the one who redoubles his efforts while having lost sight of his end.

So reminds us Doug McManaman in his (Catholic oriented) essay On the Importance of Taking Oneself Lightly. He goes on to note:

I have seen a tremendous redoubling of efforts on the part of many Catholic teachers in recent years, engaged as they have been in strategic planning of job action for this, for that, and the other thing, all accompanied by a manifest loss-of-sight of the end of their vocation as Catholic teachers of the baptized.

Humans need a purpose to live, and some religious people deep down do not trust that God has given them sufficient purpose. Even among these, some fear that they will not be around to watch the wicked get their just desserts. Theirs is the sin of self-importance.

The LDS focus opposing same-sex marriage is a fixation on means, not ends. As a practical matter, the most probable end in forcing gays to choose between their immanent orientation and God is to prematurely kill their faith in God, or at least to keep infantilized their moral conscience.

Biblically, the usual course of events is a lone voice crying out from the wilderness, followed by earnest exhortations for the wicked to change their ways, which is always ignored, the righteous withdraw, and God smites those left behind. This leaves a clear moral example for those coming after, that free choice has consequences.

We are in uncharted waters now, where the "righteous" decline to withdraw and let God do the smiting. This forecloses on free choice, and deprives those coming after of any cogent moral message.

Or to use another parable: what if the wheat had decided that instead of waiting for the farmer to separate out the weeds after harvest, they are going to crowd out the weeds from the field themselves, not only usurping the farmer's prerogative to decide the weeds' fate, but forestalling the possibility that a weed may choose before it dies to become a wheatstalk.

I believe it is this second aspect that is ignored among the religious. You cannot save a sinner by preventing him from sinning, you only strengthen his resolve to sin. If same-sex marriage is so far beyond God's plan, will it not prove its fruitlessness in the fullness of time? Does the wheat not have enough to do in producing grain, or must it also weed the garden?

If the real goal is not the voluntary choice of chastity, but chastity itself, then we would be better off neutering those unwilling to marry the opposite sex by some age cutoff. Would this not better serve God's plans for humankind? By eliminating sexual desire, do we not eliminate the sin? Is the elimination of sin itself the real goal? Or has our willingness to be the instrument of God's will metastasized into an insistance on our being that instrument? Do we just need to be needed?

Maybe we should all stop playing God. One day the field will be harvested. If the weeds are not keeping the wheat from producing, maybe we can afford to let both coexist until the final winnowing.

Or is the real problem that you don't want to be the wheat, and would rather be the farmer? If God had just wanted us not to be wicked, he could have just created us all heterosexual.

Do you have the wisdom to play God? Judging by the LDS involvement in Prop. 8, somehow I doubt it. Maybe you should just stick to being wheat and stop uprooting the weeds, before the entire field is barren.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hope

"Persecuted by governments. Arrested and beaten for being who we are. Our rights put up for popular vote, time and time again."

Equality California's new ad makes the connection between past persecution and current discrimination, such as the passage of Prop 8:

(alt. video link)

Actually, gays' rights are usually not put up for popular vote. The immediacy of a popular referendum on your life is so much more compelling than having some mere bureaucrat stand in your way. It's nice to know where you stand, once in a while.

I know where I stand. I hope the California Supreme Court will be standing there with me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Overturning Prop. 8 would be a win for all

There is a false rivalry between Mormons and Gays.

Proposition 8, which overturned the CA Supreme Court's ruling that gays have a right to marry (each other), presupposes that the right for gays to marry impairs the right of the religious to keep marriage religiously based.

Nonsense. This confuses ends and means. Gays are looking for what and don't care about how or why. We win when we achieve the goal. Religious (especially Mormons) win through the fight itself. It is the opposing that matters, works being the most credible sign of belief, the sacrifice for a good cause, fighting the good fight. The final result can be safely be left to God's hands.

All sides win if the California Supreme Court overturns Prop. 8: Mormons can feel satisfied that they reaffirmed their belief in a divine transmortal marriage and did all in their power to defend this, gays can (finally!) get married, and marriage itself gains from being shown explicitly not to arise merely out of statute or public will (even one that included gays, had Prop. 8 been defeated), but out of a more basic natural right.

LDS, Gay, Marriage: all three winners when Prop. 8 wins before losing. All sides could be proud of their participation and be winners by their own criteria: Mormons in their means, Gays in their ends, and Marriage for all.

Let's hope the Court does not miss this opportunity to make everybody happy.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm in the New York Times!

I'm so proud. Read how awesome I am in my very own New York Times bio. This is better than IMDB! Oh wait, I'm in that too. Oh, and on Hollywood.com, and...well, I just can't keep up with it all.

Inexplicably, my popularity is down 35% this week on IMDB. I guess 7 of my 20 fans must have had enough of my insatiable need to be famous. But what can I do...they're family.

Anyway, I would like to thank the Académie (française, that is. The Other One is trademarked).

And don't worry...I've already submitted the 3 missing film credits to IMDB. They assure me the diss was unintentional. I guess you have to be much more famous than I before they intentionally diss you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Freelancing for Fun and Fame

I knew this day would come.

No one blog is broad enough in scope and target audience to contain all the wisdom I have to offer this world. So, I took the plunge and wrote my first guest post on a topic and blog very different from what you'll find here.

First, read the nice introductory send-up from my gracious host, to remind you why you like me so much.

Then, on to the main course, the highly stimulating apology on how one can in good conscience be both Mormon and Libertarian, aptly titled Mormon Libertarian: Not an oxymoron?.

Still, editors being what they are, I was asked to pick a punchier headline, so for those of you camels out there who've put on a few pounds and can no longer fit through the eye of that proverbial needle: Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy:


Latter Gay Saint overturns Luke 16:13 with new Revelation: Ye can serve both God and M(or)mon
.

Here's hoping this doesn't use up my 15 minutes of fame. I'm not done basking in it!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Literate Presidency

Mark Nickolas has consulted the Oracle of Redmond to render an objective judgment on Obama's and Bush's literacy.

While mere humans are still processing Obama's first Presidential press conference, Microsoft Word has already reached an unsurprising verdict: Obama is smarter than Dubya.

Or at least presents himself more intelligibly. In unprepared answers to reporters' questions, Obama speaks at a 10th grade level, Bush at a 7th grade level. To be fair, Obama is still talking down to us, whereas Bush was fully utilizing his English skills to their utmost. Perhaps when Obama gets more comfortable with the long-dormant intelligence and education of his audience, he will let drop more sesquipedalia. In the interim, it already gives me hope just to hear our leader speak extemporaneously on at least a high school level of written English, after the prevaricating and evasive locker room bro-speak of the previous tenant of that high office.

Or, as Henry Higgens had it, “You'll get much further with the Lord if you learn not to offend His ears.”

Mine too.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quo vadis, Papa?

The Independent reports that Pope Benedict XVI has overturned the excommunication of four bishops ordained by the arch-conservative Society of Saint Pius X.

Who are these wayward souls so deserving of mercy? According to The Independent, three of the four are:

  • Richard Williamson

    British bishop consecrated by schismatic French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Has said the Vatican is controlled by Satan and once declared the historical evidence was “hugely against six million having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers... I believe there were no gas chambers.”

  • Floriano Abrahamowicz

    Regarded as unofficial chaplain of Italy's separatist Northern League. He told an Italian newspaper: “I know the gas chambers existed... but I don't know if anyone was killed in them. I know that, in addition to the official version, there is another version based on the observations of the first Allied technicians to enter.”

  • Gerhard Maria Wagner

    Appointed auxiliary bishop in the Austrian city of Linz last week. In 2005 he suggested that disasters such as Hurricane Katrina were the result of “spiritual environmental pollution”. “It is surely not an accident,” he added, “that all five of New Orleans's abortion clinics... were destroyed.”

Why would the Pope rehabilitate such Holocaust-deniers? Maybe he felt the need to short up his base after the election of Obama and the decline of the Catholic Church in Europe? Maybe he's willing to sacrifice the Jews (and the moral standing of his flock) to lure back the idolaters left behind by Vatican II? Maybe he is merely isolated in his Papal Apartments by a Machiavellian Curia?

Or just maybe, the Vatican really is controlled by Satan. This explanation is the least frightening alternative, and has at least the merit of freeing Catholics from the shame of this decision. Not that His Holiness needs my advice: the Pope seems to be without shame already.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Per cogitandum solum sum

Those who dare to self-deceive,
soon find they cannot apperceive
what they have lost, and at what cost,
when vacuous belief turns fatuous in grief.

While others surrogate science with superstition,
derogate fact and propagate fiction,
and climate change so oft deny
that repetition prove their lie,

How credulous and ignorant appear
the simply lazy and the diffident who fear
that smarter people think them dumb
and thus to dumber still succumb.

If arrogation is the end,
prevarication is its friend,
as weaker minds religion binds,
and guilt and shame kill hearts and minds.

Thus sinners their sins expiate
and with Hail Marys try to mitigate
their penance from an Angry God,
as priests conflate charade and fraud.

What hope have men of reason to oppose
a too-convenient myth in Jesus' clothes,
who first must needs destroy to recreate
our birthright of free thought and Fourth Estate.

While men of faith queue up at Peter's Gate
and pray they serve who just submit and wait,
wise men know better, and do not idly pass the time,
but counter ignorance with reason and with rhyme.

Is not then nature good enough,
with quantum foam and Eightfold Way,
when cows go moo but donkeys bray,
when banana's shape is perfect for our hand,
but only once we grew it on command?

They execrate stochastic fate
and evolution imprecate,
miraculous appraise
what Occam rather raze.

But what of goodness worked with such alacrity
by those of Higher Calling, can it be
that Darwin summoned God to quench our need,
that we in turn encode in sacred screed?

Better that we pray and clerisy obey
lest innocence be maimed by savage man untamed?
Obsequious to absent liege, compliant under present siege,
acquiescing to behest, divine intent not second-guessed?

Or prefer our own quest to another's test?
Not eschatology but (modestly) epistemology.
To learn to know, and yearn to teach
the scientist and teacher preach.

Then poetasters like yours true,
take up baton and see it through.
No God commands the flowers bloom,
per cogitandum solum sum.

          —  Dan Weston