Archive - Oct 2013

Date

October 17th

Background on End Times

A weblog reader and retired Presbyterian minister submits some interesting background on the End Times movement, as well as the truly troubling Christian Reconstructionist Movement: 

"I've just been reading the article cited in your blog, regarding the End Times scenario being run by the Tea Party Republican faithful.  I was reminded of two things:

First, an article a couple of days ago in The Huffington Post deals with the influence of Christian Reconstructionism in current House Republican struggles.  Short lines of descent connect Ted Cruz & Co. with purveyors of this "gospel," which encourages the replacement of our present system of government with a Taliban-like system based on the Bible.

Second, I am reminded of my own study in the Palestinian politics of Second Temple Judaism (post-exilic to 70 CE) and the frequent eruptions of apocalyptic movements during that period.  This was the seedbed of movements led by John the Baptist, Jesus, and James (Jesus' brother, who led the early Christian community in Jerusalem that eventually faded out as the Ebionite heresy in the 4th Century CE), all of which began with charismatic leadership--though differing in significant ways from the Zealots who eventually brought down the wrath of Rome upon their land.

Such movements arise, particularly among groups that feel oppressed by governing authority, in many periods of history.  Muslim extremists in many lands today, Jewish "greater Israel" parties, and Christian reconstructionists in this country all share the aim of replacing existing arrangements with radically new ones.  All find grounding in their respective Scriptures.  Assad's regime in Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, etc., all fear these people.  So what we're seeing is not new.  

As a growing boy in poverty-stricken rural MN back in the 1930s, I was exposed repeatedly in church services to end-time scenarios based on the Biblical books of Daniel and Revelation--two documents originally produced in times of mortal crisis for Jewish (Daniel) and Christian (Revelation) communities undergoing persecution for their stubborn resistance to assimilation into the dominant imperial cultures of their days.

My study group has been reading a book, The Evolution of God, written by Robert Wright, that discusses this issue, among many others.  

The Washington governance community, no matter which party is in the majority, is always sensitive to the possibility of revolutionaries, but in the current atmosphere, the revolutionaries have inseminated the Congress, in the persons of the Tea Party elected officials.  It's the biggest constitutional crisis I've seen since the Nixon administration's firing of several top officials back in the 70s.  That was a Presidential problem; this one's a Congressional one, which is going to take elections to fix.  Unfortunately, the next general election is a year away.  Looks like a long year ahead!"

After I wrote him asking to post the above, he added much more background, including the following insight into the book of Revelation:

"Revelation is the book that closes the NT, though it was far from being the last of those documents to be written.  Marcus Borg's Evolution of the Word presents evidence that it was written around 90 CE to a group of churches in what is now western Turkey.  But the pictures it paints are cosmic in scope, and the theology is that of looming disaster.  Much of the city of Rome had been destroyed by fire in 64 CE, and the author foresees Rome's ultimate destruction using imagery dating from that earlier time.  But he interweaves themes from Daniel (written at the time of the Maccabean revolt around 165 BCE to inspire the Jewish rebels of that time) and other OT apocalyptic accounts, including even the plague stories from Exodus.  

So the apocalyptic genre (of which I've mentioned here only the canonical documents; there were many others) was a familiar one to those who believed themselves to be oppressed.  Historically, apocalyptic imagery has been very influential in Christianity (see the Wikipedia articles on "Book of Daniel" and "Christian eschatology"), particularly in times of real or perceived oppression.  (Senator Ted Cruz' rant this morning, which I viewed on C-SPAN, identified Obamacare repeatedly with Federal oppression.)"

 

Palouse

One of the most unique and beautiful areas of our country, but one which, because it is difficult to capture in photographs, and because no interstate highway runs through it, is neglected: The Palouse

October 16th

It's the hate, folks

Chris Matthews nails it. This article lays it out. The irrational hatred of President Obama is behind this government shut-down. He is a milquetoast moderate, but because they have constantly hinted, without one shred of evidence, that the President is a deeply a radical Muslim, Marxist, Leninist, anti-colonialist, an imposter, and whatever else, Fox, right-wing talk radio and hundreds of loony websites have thrived since 2008. They have thrived by lying, and by stirring up the more ignorant of our population into intransigent hatred. 

Finally, at least on the debt ceiling, President Obama decided he'd had enough. He has won this very large battle. Thank goodness. 

Now, can we do business? 

October 15th

One thing to be proud of amidst the rubble

As Washington descends deeper into destruction, led by the Ted Cruz vandals, Hillary Clinton gives a speech which brings out the best in American world leadership. 

This needless, stupid crisis has already eroded our world economic leadership. Ted Cruz and the House Republicans are in essence traitors. 

The Tea Party nuts who showed up in Washington this past weekend to protest the closing of national monuments (a closing they alone caused) were openly racist. Confederate flags. A speaker who said, "Obama supports his people, we support our people!" and "We have a president who bows down to Allah." Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz were there and cheered. 

Crazy, deluded nuts. The paranoid, right-wing mind is something to behold. Without evidence, they operate on their deepest suspicions and fears. To rise to the top of their ranks, all you have to do is dare speak their crazy delusions out loud--which reinforces those fears in their mind, providing justification for hatreds and fears which have no rational justification. The phrase "We have a president who bows down to Allah," is an insane, untrue statement. But to these nut cases, it rings true. So whoever dares say it out loud is not asked for evidence, but is praised for "telling it like it is." 

Whenever a right-winger praises somebody like Michelle Bachmann for "telling it like it is," is actually means the politician is telling a real whopper, but one in synch with the paranoid delusions of the ignorant rubes. She's "telling it like it is" in the right-wing fantasy world. It is non-sense, of course, her carrying on about fig leaves and such. The details are always fuzzy. If you waded into the details, it would be a bunch of irrational, insane gibberish. Try it sometime. The lay persons always defer to End Times "experts," who "really know this stuff." Like Hal Lindsay, or Tim LaHay. Psychopathic liars (they constantly change their stories to fit current events, which means they were false prophets before) who have managed to dupe a substantial minority of our population into believing their apocalyptic visions which, not-so-incidently, sell them millions of books. 

UPDATE: Here is a good summation of the role End Times theology plays in the present budget mess. 

 

 

October 11th

Source of the insanity

An excellent article about the religious fundamentalism which is turning the GOP into a nuthouse. The religious right has been so stirred up into thinking Obama is the anti-Christ, or the next best thing, that they are willing to destroy the world economy to oppose everything he is affiliated with, including a relatively harmless law already on the books, the Affordable Care Act. 

What remains of the Tea Party movement is a radical fundamentalist fringe that is convinced that they have a corner on God's truth. When you know God's truth, you are perfectly willing to pull the world down around you in the name of that truth, however crazy it is. 

Religious certainty is the problem here. Religious certainty of all sorts is the problem all over the world, particularly in the Mideast. Religion is one thing if it helps you lead a more useful, satisfying life. When it ossifies into unshakable dogma about present political issues, it becomes truly dangerous. (It also is evident that such religion prevents people from leading a more useful, satisfying life, but that is beside the point here.)

I do not relish the destruction of the Republican party as a viable political force. We need the push and pull of two viable, healthy parties for our system to work. Right now, we have one secular party and one which is run by religious fanatics who haved intimidated (or already purged) the secular elements which once kept the party from turning into a fanatical religion. 

The secular branch of the Republicans tolerated the religious nuts because they wanted their support. Now, they are paying. 

I say to the Koch Brothers: You created this monster, now control it!

At present, we do not have a true conservative party. The Republicans in Congress are anarchists, devoted to destruction, both of society, and apparently, if the past week is any indication, of themselves. They don't want to conserve anything. Their psychology and politics are shaped by End Times thinking

A true conservative in today's situation would preserve our national faith and credit at all cost.  

If this bunch succeeds at pulling down the economy, then they have pulled off a treasonous act of sabotage. 

 

Shaggy caps

twin shaggy caps.jpg 

Here are two beautiful shaggy cap mushrooms, right at the perfect stage to be harvested. To harvest the entire shroom, I take a knife and cut about an inch below the surface. The meaty root is really the best part. There are so many in the yard that I have been discarding the cap, which sometimes turns to mush, and just using the root and stem. 

shaving shrooms.jpg

Even after rinsing, there is a layer of humus on the roots which needs to be shaved off. I put the shavings down the garbage disposal once, which was a mistake, as there was a rock which jammed the disposal. 

After cleaning a pile of shrooms, I cut them up, put them on a tray, freeze them, then bag them up in zip lock bags and keep them frozen until dumping them in the frying pan. 

Both the flavor and texture of these mushrooms are far superior to the button mushrooms found in stores. The button mushrooms have the market because they last. If you pick a shaggy cap, you have only a couple of hours to freeze it before it starts to turn black and actually dissolve. 

Shaggy caps are attractive to me due to their ease of picking and identification. I have about fifteen types of mushrooms in the yard right now, and the shaggy cap is the only one I am confident (without the aid of an expert) is edible. Plus, my brother Joe and wife Kae ate a bunch of them and lived through it, so I figured I could, too. 

 

October 10th

The key to a long life

If I live to be 103, I want to do it just like this man. Eat a $100 meal every night

October 9th

Shampoo

shampoo.jpg 

This picture came in from Thailand this morning. Brother Joe's wife Kae just left for Thailand last week. She is working to bring her daughter Shampoo, pictured here, back to the states. We are eagerly anticipating her arrival, which could take several months. In the picture are cookies sent by my mother along with Kae. Kind of a nice connection! 

October 8th

Nuts, nuts and more nuts

Michelle Bachmann again proves she's nuts. She could be ignored if only a substantial minority of bozos in this country didn't agree with her. 

Let's just summarize the basics here, folks: 

•If you believe we are in the End Times, keep your goofy eschatalogical acid trips limited to your cult meetings on Sunday morning and don't bring them into the public arena. Anybody paranoid enough to carry on about End Times can safely be dismissed from rational conversation. End Times talk is not religion. It is sanctified mental instability. However, now we have some End Times nuts in Congress. And they seem bent on bringing the End Times on, and then blaming it on President Obama.

•If you believe, despite having no evidence other than the insidious suggestions from people who are in the right-wing racket for financial gain, that President Obama is a Muslim, for gosh sakes have the decency to realize that you are not operating from evidence. There is none. And who would care but bigots?

•If you think the annual budget deficit is going up, forget it. It is going down. Fast. (This is a correction. Originally I stated that the debt is going down.)

•If you think Obamacare is going to bankrupt the country, provide evidence. There is none

•Anybody who refers to the Affordable Care Act as a bill, not a law, is a liar. It is the law of the land. Get over it. 

•If you think President Obama is so vile that anything he does should be automatically opposed, get psychiatric help for paranoid schizophrenia, please. There is no secret, concealed Obama. He is who he looks like: A pathologically moderate compromiser dedicated to muddling through. His habit of compromise finally got him pushed against this wall, where craven, amoral, playground-grade hostage-takers think they're entitled to "get something out of this, we don't know what."

This article was meant as a joke. However, many people I know believed it was actually plausible. If you think the article is plausible in any way, examine your head and realize how far you have departed from whatever meager education you endured before you returned to your cave to stew in the miasma of your unchallenged moronic certainties. It was satire. If you took it seriously, you are what is called a complete dupe

•If this stupid, unnecessary, Republican-manufactured "debt crisis" discredits Ted Cruz forever, it may have been worth it. He is Sarah Palin with brain cells, truly diabolical and dangerous. Here is where Ted came from. No wonder he thinks he's going to be president. He considers himself annointed. If you think of yourself as annointed to be a pastor, fine. Knock yourself out. But once you think you've been annointed to hold elective office, you have become dangerous. 

•As usual over the past six years, the only sensible explanation comes from Jon Stewart

 

 

Warren

Nobody but nobody nails it better than Elizabeth Warren. I agree with her completely.