Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

According to Joe the Talking Head Who Smokes Cigars and Sweats Profusely, here is absolute proof that Obama is a failed President.

  1. Tiger Woods isn’t going to take questions at his public appearance tomorrow.
  2. Heidi Montag is going to bare it all for Playboy.
  3. A Utah state senator proposes to eliminate the 12th grade in Utah schools.
  4. Tim Urban replaces Chris Golightly in American Idol’s Top 24.
  5. God told Moses, “Do not lust in your heart for Hollywood bimbos, either.”
  6. A plague of grasshoppers is expected to descend on Northern Nevada this year.
  7. Joe stepped on a crack and nothing happened.
  8. The alien body in Area 51 is the real Barack Obama.
  9. Joe thinks, but he isn’t certain, Gavin Newsom (will) (will not) (who cares) run for Lieutenant Governor of San Francisco.
  10. Dick Cheney supports waterboarding.

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I’ve never been in a foxhole, so I can’t offer direct testimony for or against the theory. About all I can say is that the statement sounds logical. When our life is in imminent danger of coming to an abrupt halt, we may reflexively pray regardless of our professed disbelief in a god or gods. Approaching death makes believers out of a lot of people, in or out of foxholes.

I’ve always been skeptical of the Biblical version of a god. Call me a heretic if you wish, but I just can’t seen to get a handle on an invisible being in the sky who created all that is around us in seven days and then rested.

And, yet, there is so much about the universe and human nature that is unexplainable. Are humans merely a product of random chance? Was my beloved no more than a fortuitous arrangement of protoplasm? The thought seems outrageous, so preposterous, in fact, that I am forced to reject it out of hand. A human of such inner and outer beauty could not possibly be just an accidental creation.

For many years, I rejected both the theory of creationism and the theory of evolutionism. For awhile, I thought about and accepted in part a belief in the universal nature of all things. We are all a part of the Earth and the Sun that give us conscious life. There is no distinction between the animate and inanimate. When we die, we become once more a part of the elements. We soar with the wind and float atop waves. Our spirit rides on sunbeams, ever touching those we love and ever giving them the gift of the warmth that is our love.

When did I abandon this belief? As my beloved lay dying and when I heard my daughter cry our, “Dad, she’s going,” I began to cry and kiss my loved one’s cheek and caress her hair, begging her to stay with us.

And then, I began to pray. I implored God to give us just one more moment, just one more smile, just one more exhilarating glance into her sparkling eyes. I prayed silently as I had never prayed before.

But God’s response didn’t touch my personal foxhole. He permitted her to silently slip away, and suddenly she became still and quiet. I continued to cry and kiss her, but I knew there would be no reanimation of dead tissue.

Life is short, brutal, and nasty for many. But she made my life tolerable. Someday, if I am fortunate, we will join again. Until then, I’ll wait patiently and dream about our life together.

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To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die…

I suppose that’s true. The American version of the King James Bible says so in Ecclesiastes-3. Who am I to argue with King James?

The problem is, James lived a long time ago. Today is today and the tools for measuring just about anything are sophisticated. As far as the passage of time goes, scientists are able to measure it to the millisecond, although accuracy at this level isn’t necessary in everyday life.

For example, when a baby leave’s its mother’s womb, the chances are excellent that the attending physician will look at his or her watch and say something like, “Ah ha, nine ten a.m.,” meaning, “This baby was born at ten minutes after nine in the morning.” Subsequently, the time will be entered on a birth certificate for all to see unless the physician forgets and enters any old time.

Gauging the time of a person’s death is equally imprecise. The case of our beloved is illustrative. Her final heartbeat and her last breath occurred at five minutes past seven in the evening.

But that isn’t the time on her registered and certified death certificate. The time entered by an anonymous soul is a full hour later.

Why the difference? Because the time noted by our daughter and me isn’t “official.” Only a properly certified medical professional can pronounce a person dead.

In our beloved’s case, a registered hospice nurse traveled for almost an hour to reach our home and complete the requisite examination. Then and only then was our wife and mother “officially” deceased. In the interim, she was apparently in a state of bureaucratically imposed suspended animation.

But measuring time isn’t the message in Ecclesiastes-3. The verse quoted above refers to the inevitability of the events of life in the days of Adam and Eve and Noah and a host of other biblical figures. We are born; we die.

So it is also in the 21st Century. With a couple of exceptions. Back then, most people probably accepted the given that God was the decider in chief when it came to determining the “time.”

It ain’t necessarily so in this day and age. Men with their God-given technologies often determine the time of birth and death. Induced deliveries and cesareans hasten the natural process of birth.

And feeding tubes may well maintain life indefinitely beyond its natural span. Think of Terry Schiavo as an example of the debatably harmful extension of life by artificial means.

In the case of our loved one, she had decided long ago to let her body follow its natural course. Fortunately, her family agreed. There were no appeals to courts of law or to religious institutions or attempts to persuade her otherwise.

For her, the natural time to die arrived at 7:05 p.m., Saturday, June 27, 2009.

Despite our intellectual knowledge that her passing was a blessed relief from her extended pain and suffering, we nevertheless defined her passing in terms of our pain, our loss, our misery, our grief.

In life and in death, there is a time to be selfish as well.

If this seems rambling, incoherent, and  disconnected, so be it. There is also a time to be confused, even if King James excluded it.

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Speaking only for myself, I haven’t the slightest idea. Occasionally, someone asks me the question and they seem puzzled when I answer just as I have stated. It’s as if I must have an opinion or an answer or I am not a human being. I don’t think; therefore I am not.

Usually, the ones who demand an answer from me are those who are strong believers in creationism. The folks who argue for evolutionism apparently couldn’t care less about my opinion. Or else I’ve just never met one.

Even if an evolutionist asked me, I’d give the same answer. I simply do not know. I am not an expert on evolutionism or on creationism. Hence, why should I render an opinion and leave the impression that I possess knowledge that I do not in fact possess?

Although I am not a pretender to knowledge, I do have a habit of asking questions.  People don’t seem to mind because Americans have an answer for everything there is to know about everything in the universe, including the delicate art of brain surgery.

Apparently, people are flattered by my questions and happy that I have recognized their male testosteronic expertise and its female equivalent. I have validated their position at the apex of authoritative knowledge.

I am also a good listener and that pleases them as well. Over the years, I have developed the muscle control needed to nod occasionally, flash my eyes in interest the way Jimmy Carter does, and say things like, “I see,” or “That’s interesting,” or the ultimate, “Tell me more.”  And as I feign interest, my mind is elsewhere, probably on a girl I once knew or something equally important.

But I have one disconcerting habit that has come back to bite me. In a one on one conversation, I agree with everything the other person says. Occasionally, a couple of people I have related divergent opinions to get together and compare notes. Then, I have a hell of a time explaining how the two people I have spoken to actually hold the same opinion but are communicating on two different frequencies. Like a couple of 50,000 watt radio signals, they pass in the night.

I handle the question of evolutionism and creationism about the same way. I agree that God made everything in six days or whatever about 4,000 years ago. But I also agree that humans have evolved since the Almighty worked His/Her magic and created the miracle that we are today—humans.

My approach after these seemingly contradictory admissions is uaually in the form of a few simple questions.

Is God not capable of choosing evolution as His/Her preferred means of finishing off the job?

Does not the Almighty operate on a timeless schedule, unbound by the mortal means of calculating hours, days, months, and years?

Is it not possible that 4,000 years has no meaning to the Creator, only to the delusional brains of mere mortals?

Long story short, I may say, if I’m in the mood, God is the policy maker, the Intelligent Designer, the Big Picture Guy or Gal. Once the policy and design tasks are completed on God’s own cosmic time, implementation falls to the underlings.

Their job is to operate a sort of assembly line for cranking out models of Adam and Eve the way Henry Ford used to crank out Model T’s. Over time, Model T’s have morphed into F-150’s, and the original humans have evolved into Super Bowl Champions.

Once the means of implementing God’s design has begun, The Creator then goes about the really important business of planning for the creation of such things as guilt, sin, praying, singing hosannas, and thinking about strategies and procedures to help humans become Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, rock worshipers, and Atheists.

So, when you get down to it, the creationists and the evolutionists are broadcasting on separate frequencies.

Where’s the beef?

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El Gavo appeared on the Dr. Phil Show today as one of a panel of six to debate the issue of gay marriage. The panel was composed of three who support gay marriage and three who opposed it.

Everyone knows the pros and cons of the issue so I won’t go into them here except to say that the overriding theme for the pros was civil rights while the cons objected on religious grounds. In a nutshell the civil rights group favored giving something to someone whereas the religious group favored denying or taking something away.

I’ve heard all of the argument, so my watching wasn’t to hear them repeated. Rather, I wanted to observe El’s performance. His is one of the names floated frequently as a candidate for Governor of California in 2010 and he has developed a reputation for defending gay rights and gay marriage. I wondered if I could gain a sense of how he might perform before a statewide or nationwide audience.

Watchers of politics will often tell you that the issues are largely irrelevant on the state and national stages. That isn’t to say that everyone ignores the issues. But a majority of Americans are concerned with one issue: supporting themselves and their families. The distinction between a civil union and a religious union is relevant only to a small segment of American society. Americans want leaders with strong management skills and an ability to see the whole picture.

In other words, personalities and appearances count. Sarah Palin is a prime example of someone holding extreme views who was popular even with those who may have opposed her positions. Did El evince a similar appeal during the Dr. Phil Show?

If he did, it was difficult to discern. For the entire show, he hardly spoke. Admittedly, the conversation was moderated, but air time certainly seemed the province of those who opposed gay marriage on moral grounds. Their emotion as a group and as individual members was strong and visible.

El seemed subdued, rarely speaking. But when he did, he was clear and concise, and he demonstrated a command of the legal facts. I had the impression that Dr. Phil was more interested in emotion and histrionics rather than facts, hence his preference for the cons.

On balance, El’s appearance on the Dr. Phil Show was a wash. He didn’t gain any ground in his quest for higher office but he didn’t lose any, either. He merely sat there like a spectator. That’s no way to win an election.

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I like Joe the Plumber. The one who visits our place regularly to readjust a cranky flush mechanism is an intelligent guy who can easily discuss domestic and international politics with just about anyone. We should have the whole ball of plumbing wax replaced, but Joe the Plumber is a nice guy who spends a few minutes calming our nerves with his steady and professional presence. He’s a gem and I think we ignore the need for a 21st Century mechanism just for the pleasure of his company now and then.

Joe is so calm and steady, I bet he could even calm John McCain down a little. John demonstrated again last night that he’s more closely aligned to the behavior patterns of Captain Queeg than to the presence at the helm America needs at this moment in history.

Last night during the third and final presidential debate, John did his level best to rattle Barack without success. In the process he thus came across as a cranky old guy whose eyelids constantly fluttered like a venation blind in a windstorm. And, like all relics of days of yore, he seemed oddly offbeat with his constant sneers at the young whipper snapper who met his confused accusations with steadiness and resolve. John seemed comfortable in the persona of a sneering and blinking superior man of action. Apparently, he thought his manner was one of a maverick but it seemed more like that of a skittish, stubborn old mule.

He tried the Ayers tack by suggesting something sinister in Obama’s membership in a community board that included the 1960s radical, now a professor with the University of Chicago. Obama must not be telling the truth to “the American people,” McCain said. Obama made it clear that he was ready for the attack when he pointed out that several members of that same board were prominent Republicans. And the founder and Funder in chief, of another charity foundation of which Ayers was a board member, Walter Annenberg, contributed so much money to the campaign of Richard Nixon that he was rewarded with the ambassadorship to Great Britain. Annenberg was an exceptionally rich Republican who hosted presidents at his Palm Springs estate, which included a private golf course. McCain seemed to sense that he was treading on dangerous ground and let the subject drop.

Later in the debate, McCain feigned a great deal of indignation over the remarks of John Lewis, Democratic Representative from Georgia, who compared John McCain’s campaign tactics and hate speech to similar language and tactics employed by the once-governor of Alabama, George Wallace, the worst racist mouth in the South, where George stirred up racial hatreds in the 1960s.

McCain’s indignation didn’t seem to extend to the words of his own flunky Sarah Palin whose constant drumbeat of accusations that Obama pals around with terrorists has no purpose but to create an impression in the minds of “the American people” that Obama is a traitor. Oddly, the question of Sarah’s connection to the Alaskan Independence Party, an organization that advocates the secession of Alaska from the United States and which preaches hate for America and the American flag, is the penultimate traitorous association which has yet to be examined.

Following the debate, I spoke with my sister who launched her own attack against McCain and Palin. She wondered if the sneering, superior McCain of the debate would be the same McCain who meets with world leaders, most of whom are from Asia and Africa. She also, rather emotionally I thought, condemned Sarah to that well-known spot described so exquisitely by George Carlin in a comedy routine in which he noted that the Lord condemns sinners to burn in hell forever, “but he loves you.”

My sister’s observation is important because she is a level-headed and staunch Christian, participating in religious activities regularly. One would think that she would view Sarah in a favorable light. But whatever Sarah possesses, it certainly isn’t something that endears Sarah to my sister’s heart.

On balance, I had the feeling that America needs the calmness and rationality of Joe the Plumber. Unfortunately, McCain, as the touchy and privileged son and grandson of four-star admirals and the darling of Wall Street despite his feigned anger of the moment, knows nothing of the life of Joe the Plumber. That’s sad. He might grow in stature by living in Joe’s shoes for awhile rather than flitting from one of his seven homes to the next in air conditioned jets. McCain is an elitist born and bred, convinced that a “man of the streets” doesn’t deserve to be the President. That’s a heck of a message for all who believe any kid in America can grow up to be President.

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Barack is speaking today in Elko, Nevada, which lies in the northeastern part of Nevada’s Cowboy Country. His stop represents a strategy to make inroads in traditionally Republican territory.

Elko, with a population of about 17,000, is the county seat of Elko County. The town’s racial breakout is roughly 75 percent White and about 21 percent Hispanic.

Most people have never heard of Elko, or they may know it as a pit stop on I-80. That’s the sum total of my own personal knowledge of the area. We’ve driven through it several times from the Bay Area to elsewhere, stopping only for gas.

In addition to establishing a beachhead in a traditionally Republican area (80 percent Republican in the last presidential vote), Barack also hopes to connect with small town America. He believes that Democratic candidates have largely overlooked America’s small towns, rationalizing their decisions with the argument that campaigning where a loss is certain is wasted time and resources.

Obama hopes to change the old equation, but his gaffe about bitter, gun-totin’ Bible readers will certainly complicate his efforts. Elko, perhaps the totality of Cowboy Country, is a Western equivalent of small towns in the South and in Appalachia.

Obama may have a chance, however. With his appearance in Elko, he will make history as the first presidential candidate of either major party to campaign in rural Nevada. Candidates in the past have devoted their time to Las Vegas and Reno where most of Nevada’s population is concentrated.

Here’s hoping you don melt under Elko’s September sun, Barack. But if you want to get a leg up on the opposition, learn the local lingo.

In Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon, the local term for “cowboy” is “buckaroo.”

Ride ’em, Buckaroo!

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