Friday, December 31, 2010

Blogging into the New Decade

Here we are at the close of 2010.  I have completed my second full year as a blogger.  Last year I noted my progress and reflected on the fruits of blogging.  This post is a continuation of that tradition.

I closed out last year with a total of 9 public followers.  I am now up to 30 public followers by the blogger counter and 8 through networked blogs.  Three of those are duplicates from the blogger counter.  So I now have a net of 35 public followers.  I have found my blog linked on other sites that are not in my public counter.

Last year I posted 27 times this year 45 (including this entry)  My topics of interest have been consistent: politics, religion and living in Utah.  I have had a couple of posts that have stimulated robust conversations.  I have seen many more of my posts linked in the Sunday in Outer Blogness feature at Main Street Plaza which I have found flattering.

My blog has received over 5000 page views and  140 comments.

My goals for blogging in the coming year are:

  1. Post with more frequency
  2. Post with relevance
  3. Continue the "Children are the Challenge" series
  4. Attempt to stimulate thoughtful discussion on posts I submit
While my blog does not have a universal appeal here in Utah or among many folks who hold very fundamental beliefs either politically or religiously; I hope to expand the reader base.  I prefer a diverse audience because it brings great discussion.  However, I will not likely tone down my rhetoric in that vein.  I am however willing to facilitate discussion and to have conversations regarding what I post in hopes that discussion brings understanding and in some cases may sway my opinion on the matter.

Here's to the adventures that 2011 will bring!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Charity... what is your position... can you admit it?

If you really want to find out what people believe you look at how they behave and not what they say.~Roger Nygard

The above video clip has got a bit of attention on facebook this week.  My liberal theist friends have posted it and some have alluded to the fact that Colbert's comments are almost prophetic.  My conservative theist friends have been outraged at the audacity of Colbert to poke fun at them and to take the New Testament out of context.  

The Christmas season brings out two polls on the questions of how we deal with the poor and sick and less fortunate.  Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is the standard by which we measure a person's commitment to the season.  You are either a Tiny Tim/Bob Cratchit or and Ebeneezer Scrooge.  Nobody wants to be seen as a Scrooge during this season and so there is a bunch of talk about Christian principles and keeping Christ in the season..... while arguing that our government has no business using tax dollars to look after the general welfare of the American populous.  After all, the government cannot tell who is faking it and who really needs the help.

One of my favorite quotes from the Dickens' classic is the result of the dialog between Scrooge and his Nephew Fred.  Fred optimistically states why he loves the Christmas season.:
 ..and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
Immediately, as Fred exits the office Scrooge is met by two solicitors.  Both, in contemporary terms, bleeding heart liberals:
"Scrooge and Marley's, I believe," said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list.  "Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?"
"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."
"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.
"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
"And the Union workhouses?"  demanded Scrooge.  "Are they still in operation?"
"They are.  Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."
"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?"  said Scrooge.
"Both very busy, sir."
"Oh!  I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge.  "I'm very glad to hear it."
"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth.  We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.  What shall I put you down for?"
"Nothing!" Scrooge replied.
"You wish to be anonymous?"
"I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge.  "Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer.  I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry.  I help to support the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there."
"Many can't go there; and many would rather die."
"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.  Besides -- excuse me -- I don't know that."
"But you might know it," observed the gentleman.
"It's not my business," Scrooge returned.  "It's enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's.  Mine occupies me constantly.  Good afternoon, gentlemen!"
The section in bold came to mind as I engaged in a debate with a facebook friend who did not find the Colbert video funny.  This is the end of the discussion:

  • Him:.....

    You love to put groups of people into boxes and summarily dismiss the entire box, and that is just wrong. I know many liberals and many conservatives that give of their time and money to help people. I think if you gave them the chance to do the bulk of what is needed to help people who are underprivileged, they would surprise you. There is no one category of people who need help. Every person has a different reason, a different trial or problem. Some are self inflicted, some are not. Some people are truly helpless, others are simply irresponsible. The government doesn't distinguish between the two.

    December 17 at 3:57pm · 

  • Me: ‎"Some people are truly helpless, others are simply irresponsible. The government doesn't distinguish between the two."

    And based upon the Christian Dogma who is the one who is qualified to make that determination?

    December 17 at 4:04pm · 

  • Him: Only somebody who develops a personal relationship with the person in need. True charity involves giving yourself to serve others and listen and learn, not just give money.

The problem as I see it is that as Americans we are spoiled children of privilege and as Scrooge says:  "It is not my business."  So who's business is it?

My mother is dying of emphysema.  She is in the very advanced stages and is in incredibly poor health.  She also suffers from Post Polio Syndrome.  She struggles to breathe and is in constant pain.  One of the conditions she did to herself.  In fact she still smokes with the O2 turned all the way up.  The other she is a victim of.  She dedicated 30 years to raising her children and did the best she could with the tools she had.  While we do what we can for her including grocery shopping, taking her meals, and getting her to the doctor;  we are of humble means and cannot pay for her care.  She was on a medical retirement for 10 years and now is on social security and a meager pension.

While I agree with my friend that charity, true charity requires a personal touch, I also think it is unrealistic and impossible for everyone.  I pay into Social Security, I pay income and sales taxes and while it is not my favorite thing to spend my money on; I recognize it is necessary.  My Mother has us.  Many others have no one and the only care they get is the care Medicare of Medicaid covers.  Whether you are homeless by your own choice or because of mental illness; whether you liver is failing from alcoholism or NASH; whether you have lung cancer from smoking or working in asbestos; you deserve the best care you can get and to be comfortable on your way to returning to health or in my mother's case as you prepare to die. If you want to question where the money goes and who deserves it ask yourself who really profits from defrauding the government.  The answer lies in the lobbyists and the capitalist who exploit the system to the tune of billions.  Not the poor who benefit from the programs and exaggerate their conditions to get a few more dollars to live on.

It's time this "Christian Nation" put its money and compassion where its mouth is.... or acknowledge you are hypocrites and just don't want to do it!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Should we Limit Expression that Causes the Rabid Right to Get their Panties in a Wad.

I had a brief (no pun intended) conversation with my Facebook friend Thomas on the fact that there are few American Artists who's work is compelling, edgy, and that tells a story.  In fact, the object of that conversation is posted below:

I responded to the post with this comment:
If we had artists like this they would be censored and their works hidden from public view. Maybe not at the hands of the government but by way of right wing hysteria.
And the following morning this story is featured on Fox 13:

This is exactly the same "Right Wing Hysteria" I was talking about.  I remember, while I was a college student, the Salt Lake City Public Library had some nude paintings on display. The ridiculous outcry was all over the news including one mother who was completely distraught because her little boy was having nightmares over the paintings.  The ilk of the Knitting Needle Mafia have instituted plastic covers for magazines in our grocery stores to censor what they deem inappropriate material.

There is the rub... it is what they deem inappropriate.  As the video indicates the law is clear as to what can be determined pornographic and a woman wearing the equivalent of a bikini is does not rise to that level.  Nor does the word SEX on the cover of Cosmopolitan.

So it is the ads in the mall, the magazines in grocery store and what is next the art in our museums...

I enjoyed the hosts final comment:
I don't think it is up to anyone to tell me what art I am and am not allowed to see.
The point of this post is that if we allow the fundies, the pious, the superstitious, and the rabid right to control the media they also control the message.  Watch this video that discusses the outrage over the Atheist bus ads in Fort Worth Texas.  Note how fauxrage over the freedom of expression will drown out a minorities message:

The bus system will likely stop carrying this type of ad and the Mayor of Fort Worth has threatened to change the makeup of the board if they don't agree with him.  They take away an outlet for those who are non religious to engage in what is really a benign and in offensive message.

John F. Kennedy said:
The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state. The great artist is thus a solitary figure.....

If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.

And as such we should resist restrictions of expression whether the art is commercial, the art is edgy, or the art is just beautiful.  Restrictions of expressions of points of view that are not your own is tyrannical.  This is certainly not what the First Amendment is about.  But if you are a fundamentalist I guess the First Amendment was inspired by God to protect your point of view only.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"...well they were acting as men."

In 1983 I worked on the Pioneer Theatre Company's production of Amadeus. One of my favorite parts of this show was when Salieri realizes that his life dedicated to religion and the celebration of god through his music did not earn him the position of god's favorite composer.  Instead that honor went to Mozart.
"I was suddenly frightened.  It seemed to me that I heard the voice of God–and that it issued from a creature whose own voice I had also heard–and it was the voice of an obscene child."~ Peter Schaefer's Amadeus.
But Mozart was not really god's instrument he was a man like any other with a gift or a natural born and cultivated talent.  To Salieri the fact that his flawed man was so talented was a slap in the face and cause for a declaration for war against god and a quest to silence his instrument.

I was reminded of this story as I read the Salt Lake Tribunes article on Ezra Taft Benson.  The article pointed out how one of the LDS church's more colorful figures was deeply flawed.  For those of us who are now on the outside this was no surprise.  His follies have been documented his grandson and it is well known that he is the one character in Utah that is responsible for our single party system of government.

Benson was not the first colorfully flawed religious leader where there was a belief that his position/authority/talents were god given.  In LDS lore there are the characters of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.  Smith was a know treasure hunter, philanderer/polyandrous man who criminally destroyed a printing press and started a couple of rebellions and then died in a shoot out while attempting to escape from jail.  Young was a racist polygamist with a thirst for blood atonement who is credited with the orders/environment  that resulted in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  

It is not just LDS leaders who are flawed and leave as their legacy scandals.  The Catholic Church has a rich history of scandals which include the Spanish Inquisition, incest, and organized crime.  The Evangelicals have Ted HaggardJim BakkerJimmy Swaggart, Robert Tilton, and Kent Hovind.  The list includes extra marital affairs, tax evasion, homosexual relationships and fraud.

If you ask the faithful they will excuse the behavior of these supposed men of god.  The will say when they are doing good in the world it was inspired of god.  What about their less inspiring moments?  Well... they were not acting as prophets or men of god.  They were acting as men.

Which is exactly my point.  In each case these supposed men of god rose to power by making claims they could not prove.  They maintained power through manipulation and either lost power through scandal or their fraud became apparent after their death.  It takes incredible mental gymnastics to engage in the cognitive dissonance that is required to follow these leaders or to believe their works are inspired once you know how flawed they are in character.  Yet the faithful write checks, invest time and energy and bet their salvation on the word of men.  Even if that man is "the voice of an obscene child."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Capitalists not Atheist are Ruining Christmas

I found this interesting and it first came to my attention while I was watching the morning news yesterday.  The Fox 13 Utah news commentator opened the story by saying... "Meanwhile Atheist are Trying to Ruin Christmas."  Atheists cannot be held responsible for the ruining of Christmas.  This was already done by 3am openings at WalMart and our American Lust for stuff at the expense of our own financial health.

As an LDS kid growing up there was a certain magic about the holidays.  As an atheist adult there is little joy in the financial and social expectations of the season.

I don't believe in the Myth of Christ and the season holds no special spiritual significance.  As a young parent there was still some magic but as my kids get older and it is apparent they have more than everything they need the shopping portion of the Holiday has become a burden.

Not only do I support the billboard but I think it is time eliminate the government observance of this holiday and the tacit support of the religious buy fest that goes along with it.  Open the government, post offices and banks on the 25th of December.  Unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday.  The religious will support and celebrate their holiday regardless.  However the artificial economy that is built around this religious holiday is a wink and a nod to Christianity and the myths surround its inception.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thank You for 24 Beautiful Years

24 years ago I married my high school sweet heart.  We were expecting our first of five children.  We were young, naive, and thought we loved each other.  We have been through hardships and good times and experienced personal growth that has sometimes been painful.  There has always been one constant... we've had each other.

I look forward to each day that I spend with her.  While I don't believe there is only one love for each person and that we have an eternal commitment I find the commitment I have made to her to be very rewarding and one that I am satisfied with.  It is in part because of her that I am the man I am today and with her I will be an even better man tomorrow and next year.  Thank you Lisa for a lovely 24 years and it is with optimism that I look forward to 24 more.  As long as you'll have me I am yours!   

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Not a War on Christmas... but a war anyway!

The Holiday Season is rocketing toward us again.  American's are going to spend billions on holiday decor, food, electronics, and toys.  I like somethings about the holiday season.  I like to decorate my house.  I love to cook for and to entertain family and friends for the holidays.  But I hate the financial pressure that we feel during the holiday season.

I have had a couple of friends post a video speculating on what Jesus would buy for Christmas in a call to take commercialism out of the Christmas Holiday.  I suggest we take it one step further and take business to task during the Christmas season.  There is no reason to support the capitalists if they are not going to care for the American Consumer, their employees, and the country we all live in.

In the 1950's Americans worked for employers who would offer generous benefit and retirement packages.  They offered education benefits to workers and their families.  In short the American companies invested in their workers and their country and as a result those same companies enjoyed a productive work force that put the US economy at the top.  There is a reality that this golden age of the American economy came in part from pressure put on employers by labor unions but we had a healthy middle class.

In the early 1980's Reagan "busted" the unions and American's have had to work more hours to maintain the same comparative quality of life.  Fast forward to 2010 and the middle class is disappearing.  Jobs are being outsourced to third world countries and employees have smaller benefit packages while the companies profits are being posted at record rates.

So back to the holidays.  Every year we engage in a tradition of shopping till we drop.  Many of us spend money we don't have to subsidize this ideal that it is better to give than to receive.  Every year we hear of those needy children who without our help won't enjoy a Christmas.  The money comes out of our bank accounts and into the accounts of corporations who treat their employees like chattel.

So here is my suggestion.  Find a new holiday tradition that does not require money and if it does spend it on something you couldn't do without anyway... like a meal a week that is special for each member of the family. Find an opportunity to host extended family and share a meal.  Say no to Christmas gifts you can't afford and make those types of purchases through out the year as your resources allow.  Thin out your closets and make donations to local charities if not in money with your time and energy.  Tell you children that the 25th of December entitlement is an illusion and there are ways enjoy the rich traditions of Christmas without it being about gifts and transferring money from our accounts to the corporate accounts.  We need to learn to do what the large US corporations have done during this last recession and hoard our resources.  If you can meet the needs of your family.... look for a charity to support.  Instead of spending money save it for opportunities to better your or your family's existence.  Put you money in to a tax deferred college savings plan.

This is not my atheist war on Christmas... it is my war on capitalism!  Now if I can just convince my wife....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Matthew Jewkes 

February 20, 1969 ~  November 5, 2010

I have worked in government for 25 years and and a little over 80% of that time has been in law enforcement.  During my time as a state employee I have met and worked with hundreds of people.  Few leave a lasting impression and even fewer get into my heart.  Today I learned that my friend Matt Jewkes died on Nov. 5th.  He was one of those who made it into my heart.

I met Matt in 1998 when I was assigned to the Salt Lake Area Gang Project as a Metro Gang Detective.  Matt was one of those guys who was easy to get to know.  He had an affinity for talking your ear off but was such a genuine and caring person you would look forward to it.  We would rotate partners in the gang unit and I personally loved riding with Matt.  We got into a few situations together but for the most part our duty was an exercise in surviving the tedium of a 10 shift especially when the weather was cold and it was 2:00 am.

This is what I learned about Matt.  He had been married twice to the same woman.  The first time he married her in the LDS temple.  They divorced and remarried a little while later.  Matt declined to remarry in the temple because for some reason the whole religion thing was not for him.  Yet he believed there was something out there.

A couple of years before Matt went to the gang unit he responded to a Taco Bell robbery.  He confronted the bad guy as he came out and during a scuffle the bad guy took Matt's gun.  Matt was knocked to the ground and the bad guy pointed the gun and pulled the trigger.  For some reason it failed to fire and Matt believed there was some kind of guardian angel or divine intervention that kept him from dying.  He did not know what form it took or if any religion had it right but he thought is was unexplainable and worthy of pondering.

Matt loved his son Mason with every inch of his being.  When he divorced his wife the second time because she had become addicted to pain killers and had resorted to stealing them and forging prescriptions he took custody of Mason and was very concerned that Mason grow up in healthy environment and really looked to his parents as examples.

Based upon some of our conversations the divorce and the Taco Bell incident changed Matt considerably.  He realized how mortal he was and how tentative his happiness was.  Matt had always wanted to be a police officer and he found that he knew nothing else but it seemed to be eating him from the inside out.  He had a big heart and always seemed to have plenty to share with others but he also had a way of feeling the pain other's felt and would frequently tell me ".... I don't know Kevman." , as he tried to make sense of it.  I watched Matt as we would wade through the dark culture of gangs and crime desperately try to make it make sense.  He was troubled by the human casualties we dealt with on a daily basis.  Those casualties included teens who seemed to be throwing their lives away, kids who lived in filth and young men with potential who didn't know what to do with.  Matt would respond to all of this outwardly like many cops do but not very convincingly.

Matt loved the rock Group Kiss especially but also the entire heavy metal genre.  He burned several disks for me.  Some of which I threw out a couple of weeks ago because it was not my kind of music and I hadn't listened to them in 10 years.

Matt was afraid of dogs.  I really could appreciate this because I had a certain fear of them as well.  That's what made his application to and acceptance in the K-9 unit brow raising.  He applied himself to that assignment and worked hard.  He eventually overcame his fear of dogs.  My kids loved when he brought his K-9 Tyger over.

Matt dated several women and married one and divorced her soon after.  He seemed to always weigh those relationships based upon his need provided a positive environment for Mason and whether they met his mother's approval.  He did not settle on one long term but he remained friends with most after they stopped dating.

Matt admitted to me that he had been struggling with depression and things did not seem to be getting better.  He had sought a counselor and started medication.  The law enforcement community is fairly close but on a special unit like the gang unit you are a bunch of 5th grade school buddies who get in to mischief together and tease each other.  There was a stigma and still is to some degree about admitting a flaw like suffering from depression and taking medication to control it.  Matt was sensitive to that.

We both left the gang unit in 2001 right after 9-11.  Matt and I kept in touch for the first couple of years after leaving but as people often do we drifted apart.  A little while ago his first wife Mindy died and it was believed it was the result of her drug addiction.  I found the obituary in the paper.  I called Matt and he apologized, "I guess I should have called ya Kevman."  He was struggling to make sense of it all.  He was very concerned about how Mason would adapt.  I spoke to Matt one other time after that.  He was in a conflict with the school district over a recent incident with Mason in school.

Kiss was here in concert this last summer.  I thought I should call Matt then and see if he was going and more importantly to have him over for dinner.  I got busy and as it often happens I didn't make the call.  I have thought of Matt a couple of other times and as recently as of a couple of weeks ago I thought about inviting him over for dinner... but alas I didn't.

I didn't realize things had gotten that bad for him.  I will really miss Matt.  I loved him like a brother and he was one of my favorite people.  He will be missed.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Facts Don't Hurt.... Dogma Does-The Continuing Same Sex Debate

I am not known for keeping my opinions tight to the vest and this post will be no exception.  Today the Salt Lake Tribune published an article which included a poll on whether Utahns believed same sex attraction could be changed.  Sadly but not surprising 44% believe same sex attraction can be changed.   This poll reflects the conservative nature of Utah.  One might say 'nothing to see here... move on.'  However when broken down by political party and religious affiliation and set against the backdrop of the recent Boyd K. Packer speech at the LDS General Conference all of the noise that has gone on as a result and it becomes concerning.

Okay Curmudgeon this is old news what is the big deal?  The big deal is that in Utah, and nationally where there is a conservative religious base we continue to ignore what science has provided in the form of evidence.  Study after study has shown that there is a genetic component to homosexuality yet we keep hearing statements like 'I don't believe that.'  Dammit! it is not like the mythological god you cling to..... there is evidence that shows there  is a genetic component.  'Science changes it's mind all the time.'  Yes it does and that is the beauty of science.  When the facts and figures do not bear out science re-examines it positions and based upon the truth born out by the evidence the position may change.  However religion is generally not guilty of the same introspection.

So as the result of religious dogma that has in most cases been disproved we make judgments regarding someones worth.  This today is tantamount to throwing women into a lake to see if they float to determine if they are witches.

“The attractions don’t change,” said Lisa Diamond, a psychology professor and sexuality researcher at the University of Utah. “It is disheartening to me that there is such a discrepancy between what is not even an issue anymore in the scientific community and this obvious ambiguity in public opinion.”
Last year, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution warning mental health professionals not to tell clients they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments. No solid evidence exists that such efforts work, the APA said after an extensive research review. And some studies suggest a potential for harm, including depression and suicidal tendencies.
Yet we continue to insist that through prayer, electroshock therapy, reparitive therapy, medication, and self deprivation that they can overcome same sex attraction. The reality is they cannot nor can they live a full and satisfying life.  I thought this quote from the article was revealing:
But therapy can help people change their attitudes about their same-sex attractions or their behaviors, Diamond said.
I also think the person who can benefit from a little therapy is the pious.  It is not the GLBT person who really needs to change their attitudes it is the 61% of conservatives who believe it is a choice that need to get some treatment and 55% of self identified Mormons who are backward on this belief.
“When people don’t accept the science, then there’s a perpetuation of a mythology that is unfortunate because it leads to discriminatory personal attitudes and it leads to justification for social inequality,” said Bill Bradshaw, a molecular biologist and professor emeritus at Brigham Young University.
A vast number of scientific studies in biology, biochemistry and neuroscience, he said, indicate that sexual orientation is biologically “programmed” in human beings.
“I’m convinced by these data that homosexuality is inborn. It is innate,” said Bradshaw, a former LDS mission president and co-chairman of Family Fellowship, a support group for LDS parents of gay children. “It’s true that there are those who dispute that conclusion. I think it’s fair to say that, in the LDS community, the sentiment for a long time has been that gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender persons should make an effort to change.”
The reason this is and continues to be an issue for me is because of attitudes that are exposed in the following YouTube video.  While I generally agree with the way the poster exposes quotes from the LDS General Authorities I also feel that he was too abrasive at the end of the video and as a result may turn people off.

As long as we use a spiritual hammer and tell our children that they are immoral and better off dead the number of teen suicides in Utah will continue to be disproportionately high.  The problem lies in the dogma of piety not the truth that same gender attraction is normal and no less beautiful than heterosexual attraction.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sometimes a New Adventure!

A little more than two years ago I helped co-found a production company that produces community theatre productions in South Jordan, Utah.  I have either built or designed and built 11 consecutive sets and technical directed every show.  For me this has been a dream come true.  I interrupted my college education to work and to raise a family.  I attended the University of Utah as a production and design major and had dreams of making theatre a full time career.  25 years later I made a career out of law enforcement.... how did that happen?

The other co-founder of our production company is a jr. high school theatre teacher at a local charter school.  She left for a two week vacation and needed a substitute teacher for her crew class.  So today I took a half day off and taught her technical theatre class.  Today's lesson was on set modeling.  I spent a couple of hours over the last couple of days putting together materials for the lesson and was very excited to share with 13 and 14 year-olds the process that I go through to design a set.  Many of them have seen my sets and had a point of reference for the discussion.   Over the next 6 periods we will build models based upon their concepts for the production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  

I was kind of struck by the fact that several of the kids seemed to be less excited about the subject matter and seemed to be just taking up space.  It is my challenge to get them all excited about this unit and to find the designer inside.  

As a whole the class was successful and I am looking forward to teaching again.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Things We Say! It's up for Discussion!

This might be a continuation of my last post.  There are several sayings that have their root in religious piety that are real conversation enders.  Primarily because they have no quick retort nor is it considered in good form to answer them in a contrary manner.  I have heard several of those this week and wanted to discuss a couple here.  

"God will never give you more than you can handle.":  This is a response to many of life's challenges including cancer victims and has been recently used in response to those who feel like they have been born gay and it is too much to be asked to stay abstinent.  Some might considered it to be a benign and sometimes spiritual saying; however, I see it as a conversation ender and a statement that is dismissive and is absent of any empathy.  If you are suffering and need to tell someone about it and they retort "God will never give you more than you can handle"  how do you respond.  If you on the giving end of this statement do you really want to share this persons pain?  Do you recognize the absurdity of the statement?

Absurdity:  If you are suffering from cancer and death is imminent, if you are a family member of the cancer victim, if you have lost a child, if your home has just burned down.... god is testing you.  If you loose faith you fail the test.   If the pain is too much and you blame god then the problem is yours because he knew you could handle it and you let him down.  Conversely if you are wealthy and have had no real challenges in life then god must think you were weaker and would not be able to rise to the test.  So you are punished for strength and  rewarded for weakness?

"It wasn't in God's plan for you": If you have tried and worked your heart out and it still hasn't happened its because this guy had a different plan for you and failed to tell you.  Again an opportunity missed to assuage the hurt feelings of someone who is in pain and demonstrate our humanity.  Instead a dismissive remark that invokes piety and hurts someone who may really need empathy is offered.  This was a common saying while I grew up and is kind of woven into the the idea that your existence on earth was preordained.  Now there was also the idea that you had free agency and so if your life was preordained then you really didn't have free agency.

Absurdity:  The saying brings into play two conflicting concepts.  You are free, through agency, to chart your own course but if you fail it is because "it wasn't in God's plan for you." If you follow God's plan for you then you give up your agency.  So it becomes "Your Mission if you Choose to Accept it" ?

"Pray like it is up to God, Work like it is up to you":  This is my favorite saying from annals of pious belief because at least it is an acknowledgement that your dream will likely be realized by your own hard work not divine intervention.

Absurdity:  I don't see this saying as absurd as much as I do the interpretation of it.  I interpret it as an acknowledgement that there very well could be a possibility that there is not a god up there that is really involved.  However, some may say that what you are asking for is too trivial to warrant intervention and therefore your success is up to you alone.  God is too busy to help.  So if you have cancer and you pray for a cure and that is not answered does that mean your life and your existence is too trivial for god to care about?  

So the question is is there a saying that is thrown around your circles that you find absurd or that is a conversation stopper?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Words and Their Meaning

Over the last several days I have given some thought to words and how we assign a value to them.  Specifically how we define swear words or words that are offensive.  George Carlin does a great and classic piece on the 7 words you cannot say on TV.  He also is good at pointing out our own hypocrisy when it comes to making rules about what you can or cannot say.  The video clip is below.  If you are easily offended don’t click on play.

Living here in Morridor there are several other words that are swear words for no other reason that they are assigned that weight.  My favorite Utah swear word is “Stupid”.  I have seen the swift retribution of mothers to their children who use this word toward their siblings.  The reaction is the same as is if they had used the “mother of all swear words”.

My second favorite swear word is “God” .  The way I understand this rule: If you use “God” in any context except a direct conversation with God then it is a swear word.  Here is where we have to engage in mental gymnastics to justify using the word in a manner that it is not offensive.  You can say “thank God”  because apparently this is an aside conversation with god.  You can say, “this is why God Invented”,  because apparently you are giving this ambiguous person credit in some sort of aside wink and nod. You obviously say  "pray to God” and request his guidance because you are talking to god.  However as soon as you say “Oh My God!”  you are taking “the Lord’s name in vain!?!?”  Now I thought gods name was Yahweh or Elohim if you subscribe to the Judeo-Christian texts.  God is a title!... kind of like Dr. or Mr. or PHD. or MA is it not?
If you are a word like damn you are automatically a swear word because of your association with the infamous word god.  Damn in Utah and its other form Dammit  are immediately censored as gateway swear words.  It starts with a damn and then progresses to a god damn and before long you will be saying Stupid!  Absurd?  Yes!

There is a reason we have developed language as humans.  That reason is because we needed a way to communicate ideas.  While some words in our language have terse meanings and they are abrupt and jarring when uttered… some times they are appropriate to the situation or to the context.  Our abhorrence  to using them sometimes gets in the way of ability to communicate.  I worked with a nice lady who rarely would use any of the “7 Words You Can’t Say of TV”.  She would say that sometimes there is no other word that is powerful enough to communicate the idea.  That is why we see content on TV, in the movies, and in our other forms of literary expression using language that is colored, textured, and multidimensional.

This phenomenon is not limited to the use of swear words. We avoid using words that are appropriate in many contexts and are the proper descriptors  to be offered.  In my last post I noted how Doug Wright could not say the words Oral, Anal, or Vaginal Sex on his radio program.  Why?  They were the appropriate descriptors.  Additionally, we fail to teach our children to use words that describe their body parts like penis or vagina.  Instead we treat them as dirty words and in our inability to to get over our 5th grade reaction we inhibit their ability to communicate with their physicians or healthcare providers.  We also inhibit their ability to have a healthy view of their bodies and in our effort to diffuse our own discomfort with the word we actually do harm to our children.  Our reaction to words ultimately taints the real value that word as in our rich language.

I am not an advocate of using course language in all settings.  I correct my children when they use language that is shocking or inappropriate for the situation but in Utah and in other fundamental communities in the United States; I think we have taken it too far.  I am not sure why?  I suspect that it is in part because of religious piety, in part because of political correctness and in part because we think that June and Ward Cleaver were normal representations of the American Family.  To take away the texture of our language is to relegate us an artificial “Pleasantville” existence that is not representative of the American or Human experience.  Dammit! Even Disney knows that!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Questions should be asked.... when they are young and often as they grow

I was in the car today at about 11:00am listening to Doug Wright on KSL.  He brought this story up on his talk radio program and the engaged in an hour worth of faux outrage:

Sex Survey at D.C. School Sparks Controversy

A Washington, D.C., middle school is under fire after distributing a survey to seventh-graders asking both boys and girls about their sexual orientations and whether they knew how to put on a condom, among other sex-based questions.
The survey, developed by Metro TeenAIDS, a group dedicated to helping young people fight against HIV/AIDS, was intended to raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and teach the children how to avoid them,

I read the survey that is linked to the article.  It is a little but direct it uses medical terms that Doug would not repeat on the air ie. oral, vaginal, or anal sex.  It asked the kids if they knew how to get condoms and if they knew how to put one on themselves or their partners.  I did not see anything in the article that my children who live in a nice middle class conservative suburban neighborhood didn't already have some knowledge about.   This survey was given to 7th graders.  Some kids where as young as 11.  I didn't get the outrage because these were similar to the questions my LDS Bishop asked when I was 12.  The same Bishop that asked theses questions of my sister when she was 11 and who described the act of masturbation to my younger sister when she was 12.

There was a minor screw up.... they forgot to send the opt out letter home the day before the test.

Okay that was a screw up but there is a reality, to quote a line from the movie Fame "The kids in my neighborhood are into sex much earlier.... about 6am."  There is a reality that inner city neighborhood children are exposed to sex much earlier in their lives.  There is something about growing up poor in a neighborhood without parental supervision, where drug abuse is high and education is low that causes that dynamic.  I knew a young woman who grew up in inner city Chicago.  She reported she had consensual sex for the first time when she was 8.

So caller after caller called and expressed their outrage and many said this discussion belongs in the home.  But the comment that floored me was the one who said this conversation belonged in the home and maybe with their religious leader ( in Utah that translates to "the Bishop") but this conversation should not have occurred in a health class, with a trained health teacher, because the school is 16 times more likely to have students engage in risk behavior.  REALLY? a Bishop is more qualified to ask theses questions than trained aids workers?

The reason we need comprehensive sex education in this state and early is because we are at risk of having stats similar to Washington DC.  Conservatives like to tell us there is consequences to behavior.... when your child is dying of aids that was preventable not only are they responsible but so are you for denying them information that could have saved their lives.  Instead we opt to pretend that a parent with no formal training has any real expertise to teach the child and that they will.  Once they have the disease all the prayers, blessings, or voodoo will do nothing to save them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bullying is not just perpetrated by the kids on the playground

There has been much said about the recent rash of gay teen suicides that have been caused in part by peer bullying.  The attention has resulted in of hundreds of links offered in Facebook and countless comments posted on Facebook, blogs, and other networked social media sites.  In Utah this attention crescendoed with the ill-timed and foolishly worded address given by Boyd K. Packer in the LDS general conference.

I think it is a shame that the attention is solely focused on bullying; because, the image that we as Americans have is limited to the school yard bully.  Bullying is only effective if the attacks on the child/teen have the effect of making them feel isolated, worthless, and without an ally.  The problem here is much deeper than just a school yard bully and it extends beyond homosexuality.

Andrew Hackman wrote in his blog: "Your attitudes will be reflected and amplified in your children."
What does the child do when his peers attitudes are reflected in the attitudes of his own parents, religion, religious leaders, and community.  This has been my point in the Facebook debates.  In Utah the LDS culture dominates on matters of public policy.  I have seen the most hateful and insensitive remarks come from purported temple recommend holding members regarding the "sinner" they see in a homosexual who lives his or her life in a full and meaning way including intimate same gender relationships.  They quote scripture, their "prophets", and make arguments that are writhe with logical fallacies all in an attempt to be in lock step with their doctrine.

Again I point to a brilliantly written piece by Andrew Hackman:

  Objecting to homosexuality, I believe, cannot be a universal moral. It is a religious conviction. I think for something to be considered a universal moral, and not merely a religious position, it has to be amenable to all faiths... and those without a faith. The bible says murder is wrong (although it acts it out more as a guideline than a rule) but I could also make a non-religious arguement as to why it is good for humanity to follow that position. On the contrary, I have yet to hear a valid argument against homosexuality that did not come back to a religious point and/or that individual's personal "ick" factor with homosexuality. 
I concur with Andrews stance on this matter but take it a step further in that I have to question why you would hold the texts of any religion and the texts specifically of Christianity and Mormonism (they are the texts that I have some experience with)  as a supreme word given their flaws.  Many religious scholars will tell you that the texts are not historical and the events and people are not actual but allegorical.  So based upon a myth we will throw away or relationships with actual people for salvation that is not likely real now matter how nice it sounds.  

I have seen first hand the mistreatment of a child who diverges from their parents religious world view.  Whether it is a homosexual teen who comes out of the closet or a heterosexual teen or young adult who engages in the very natural act of premarital sex.  The child who chooses not to go on a mission or the child who has the audacity to leave the family's church.  The messages delivered to that young and inexperienced human is : If you continue on this course your are going to hell.  You are no longer worthy of your heavenly father's protection or mine.

The bullying is not just from their peers but from their religious leaders and sadly form their family members.  I have seen this first hand because it has happened to me and to my spouse.  It is a guilt that takes years to repair and for some the on relief from it comes in the form of drug abuse or from the last desperate act of suicide.

I cannot figure out why we choose to chase a myth developed from contrived man made religious dogma while we throw away the amazing relationships with our children/youth and adult citizens who exercise their freedom and engage in age appropriate consensual  relationships that are natural and normal.

I think the question here is does your loved one have a place to go for comfort and are you providing it or are you pushing them to their last desperate solution through your piety and inflexible adherence to doctrine?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yellow Journalism is Alive and Well in Utah!

What happens when a religious power house has control of several dominate media outlets in a market and then declares it will produce news in a manner consistent with the faith's belief system and then edits comments on the comment boards of its paper and closes comment boards on its television news site and combines the staff of both its Television outlets and its newspaper... You get crap like this:  Society paying price for pornography use

Bruce Lindsay appears to be hosting a three part segment on the trappings of pornography use and its detriment to society presented as an investigative journalism piece(for some reason KSL pulled the video for this segment).  The reality is that Deseret Media company has launched a new initiative called Out in the Light and the Bruce Lindsay's Sunday Edition in this case is being used as a "journalism" source to bring attention to the illness of pornography addiction and the harm it does to families.

Yellow Journalism:
Yellow journalism or the yellow press is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension "Yellow Journalism" is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.~Wikipedia
Here is the problem with this "news" source:  The station, KSL, is owned by the LDS Church.  The two experts cited in the news story both have something to gain or loose by their endorsement of lack of endorsement.  Dr. Rory Reid is a graduate of BYU and is associated with one of two of the counseling firms that have links to the Out in the Light website.  Dr. Liz Hale, while a licensed therapist, is an employee of the the Church Owned KSL.  At no time is the disclosure made

Here is the problem with the topic:  The American Psychological Association does not recognize sex addiction or pornography addiction as diagnosable disorders.  Dr. Reid must know this because on his website he indicates a specialization in "hypersexual behavior and pornography dependence".  Hyper-sexual behavior is not in and of its self a disorder but a symptom of some compulsive disorders including bi-polar disorder.

There is a link to LDS biases with regard to sex and sexuality and what is considered normal.  The LDS church, while not unique in its doctrinal approach to sex, considers pornography use a sin worthy of revoking a temple recommend.  With out the recommend the wife now fears that her "eternal family" is in jeopardy.  This can and has caused a strong emotional reaction.  While in general the APA views pornography use inside the marriage and as a tool to facilitate arousal for an individual as normal; there is no such concession for the LDS faithful.  It is considered repugnant.  This can create a double bind for the person who finds him/herself engaged in normal expressions of sexuality which is denied by doctrine.  The resulting cognitive dissonance over time may lead to mental health problems.

So in the case of the story referenced above.... the "story" is an infomercial that is meant to solve a problem... that is only a problem because they made it a problem.  I think if fits the definition of Yellow Journalism.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Your child's desire to learn is the key to a good education... with innovation!

A Facebook friend (Staci Baker Centini) posted this TED talk by Sugata Mitra.  Sugata stated one obvious fact in that he asserts the best teachers do not want to teach where they are need most.  However it was the exploration of the third world (or inner city if your in America) child's natural curiosity that led to the discovery that children want to learn and if you spark the interest the teacher and their credentials are irrelevant.

I have seen the result this experiment in my own children.  I was commenting to my lovely wife that our kids are not afraid of technology.  They migrate to it and understand it.  When computers were first introduced into my working environment I had to attend hours of classes to figure them out.  My wife says she avoids some technology because she is afraid she will break it.  My kids on the other hand quickly figured out how to make them work and how to find information.  I was having a discussion about the "talk" with my oldest not to long ago.  He is 23.  He told me that his own curiosity on the subject made the "talk" irrelevant.  Books from the dictionary, to biology and a Google search gave him the information he needed.

The above example however illustrates why the teacher is still critical to the learning process.  "Using the method of the grandmother" children can learn to sort out what information is accurate and appropriate to the topic and to their age.

The hypothesis he comes to at the end of the talk is very provocative:
Education is a self organising system where learning is an emergent phenomenon..... 
The question is:  Is Sugata Mitra's hypothesis worth funding and is the innovation worth the risk?

I think it might be....

Friday, September 17, 2010

"What's Your Program Boy?"

While I was working for the Department of Corrections I had an administrator frequently reminisce about the days he worked for Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago.  He would frequently tell us that if we wanted to institute change we needed a plan.  "... and Mayor Daley would say to me 'What's your program boy.'", he would say.

I have seen the nauseating countdown to the election for Tea Party Conservatives on Facebook.  What I know is they are giddy with delight at the prospects that the conservative will return to power with their fundamentalists at the head.  What I don't know is "What's the program?"  I've heard the Fox spun tag lines and sound bites but what is really their program.

According to Wikipedia it is:

  1. Identify constitutionality of every new law: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (82.03%)
  2. Reject emissions trading: Stop the "cap and trade" administrative approach used to control carbon dioxide emissions by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of carbon dioxide. (72.20%)
  3. Demand a balanced federal budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax modification. (69.69%)
  4. Simplify the tax system: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words – the length of the original Constitution. (64.9%)
  5. Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in an audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities. (63.37%)
  6. Limit annual growth in federal spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%)
  7. Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Defund, repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (56.39%)
  8. Pass an 'All-of-the-Above' Energy Policy: Authorize the exploration of additional energy reserves to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation. (55.5%)
  9. Reduce Earmarks: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%)
  10. Reduce Taxes: Permanently repeal all recent tax increases, and extend current temporary reductions in income taxcapital gains tax and estate taxes, currently scheduled to end in 2011. (53.38%)
Okay that is simple enough.... But how and at what cost.  Unfortunately the Tea Party members on the whole are less than astute and less than educated on what the net result of this agenda will be or if it is even possible.  What we are seeing is "throw the baby out with the bath water" politics.  The policies they propose will likely grind the economy to a halt.  

I know!  I have heard it ad nausea!  The government is too big and there is nothing that the government can do that the private sector can't do better.  I have yet to see a large road project, a school being built, a prison under construction, or civic center opened that is actually built by the government.  For every government contract there is a capitalist exploiting the tax payer and fleecing the tax base.  Those contractors are employing folks, paying wages that are then again taxed.  The more people who pay into the system the lower the burden on you and I.  

So while the contract points listed above sound nice what is the real cost to implement them. More importantly what is the "Program Boy"?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Discussion Group: Indoctrination is it Dangerous ~ What is your experience?

Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology.... It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned.[2] As such it is used pejoratively, often in the context of political opinions, theology or religious dogma. ~ Wikipedia

I have noticed in some of my conversations recently how the level of indoctrination a person has experienced and holds on to effects their ability to engage in a discussion that requires critical evaluation.  There seems to be a point where reason turns off and the programming takes over.  Now I know that as an atheist my BS meter is probably set lower and my world view is skewed.

I wasn't always this way.  As a Mormon youth I was guilty of saying some pretty crazy stuff out loud.  Much of if I did not even give a second thought to until I got older and then I had the realization that maybe it wasn't reasonable and that is did not add up.  Even shortly after I got married the little guilt feelings would haunt me.  Not because I was doing anything wrong but because I had this programming.

I have not programmed or indoctrinated my children.  If you know me you might find that hard to believe.  While I openly speak out against religion I encourage them to ask questions to ponder the superstition and to reason through it.  I also believe there is a big difference between education and indoctrination.

So my question is how do you view religious indoctrination.  What has been your experience and do you think it has impaired your ability to look critically at your beliefs?  Do you think it is dangerous to oneself, the country, or our society as a whole?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If you are praying for Christopher Hitchens Death ....... go *#&@ yourselves

As you may be aware Christopher Hitchens is dying of esophageal cancer.  He has been repeatedly asked if he will convert on his death bed.  He says not and if a person in the body of Christopher Hitchens does he was not in his right mind.

When asked if he minded if people prayed for him he said he was flattered by those who prayed for him to get well and did not really care about those who prayed for him to die.

The Atlantic Journal has a different take:

I found this candid statement from the Atlantic Journal refreshing.

Thanks again to PZ Myers for bringing it to our attention.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sexuality... Who Owns It?

I cannot figure out what we have, as a human culture against, sex education.  This video and the others like it that demonstrate mutilation of women to curb either their interest in sex of their attractiveness to the opposite sex represent the collective evil that we can do as a species to each other.

I know your thinking "now Curmudgeon, that does not happen in civilized societies like America."  Yes it does.  The same barbarous practices happen in secret here cloaked in religious ceremonies and under the guise of religious freedom.  Additionally, we tolerate in the open ritualistic psychological abuse in the form religious dogma.

Our children are taught from the earliest ages to deny their sexuality.  I was always taught that god made us sexual beings as a test to our faith and resolve to keeps his commandments.  I was taught to push back every sexual thought and feeling as inappropriate and wicked.  Of course abstinence was the key to a happy marriage and an eternal life.

The fact is that we have sexual feelings because humans are sexual beings.  It is not wrong to act on those feelings as long as you understand the risks, you aren't hurting someone else, and the parties are consenting.  

For some reason as a species we feel we have a need to own everyone's sexuality.  In the name of superstition we have taught our daughters that their self-worth is wrapped up in the physical condition of their bodies(virginity) not their contribution society.  We teach our boys and men to deny sexuality and to avoid engaging in even the most rudimentary and normal practices including masturbation.  In India girls are raised to  expect careers in brothels.  In the Middle East they are forced to cover almost every inch of skin and in Africa are subject to mutilation.  Boys in the Judeo-Christian areas of the world are subject to a now medically indefensible practice of circumcision.

In western cultures we put our men and women through reparative therapy to cure their homosexual tendencies in what usually amounts to a suppression of their selves and in many cases has resulted in depression and suicide. We operate on the assumption that based on our selective reading of the bible that homosexuality is a choice and a sin. We ignore scientific studies that indicate it is instead a naturally occurring variation in our genes.

I have struggled to come to grips with why we feel we need to be involved in everyone else's sexuality and it comes down to one thing.... control.  We changed from a hunter gatherer society to an agricultural society about 10,000 years ago and property became definable including sexual property.  It is also around that time we started forming religious dogma.  This changed the way our society functioned and the practices discussed above became ritual with that dogma.  As we awake from that haze as a culture and information flows so freely we need to realize we do not own anyone's sexuality.... but our own.  It is in that realization that we will find healthy relationships and in that realization that we can guide our children to make choices that work for them in the most healthy manner.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Jesus was Prosperous and He wants you to be too..... oh yeah he had some fine clothes too!

Okay I am sure that to evangelical Christians this is not a new sermon.

My wife and three of my kids left for an Idaho vacation on Thursday.  On Friday I was rumbling around my quiet house and started flipping channels on the plasma.  On one of the channels I cam across an evangelical minister was was preaching that Jesus was not poor; but rich beyond dreams.  This was evidenced by his very expensive seamless coat that the Roman Guards coveted and bet on and that when he was born he did not just receive three small gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh but was endowed with three distinct caravans of the listed gifts setting him up for life.  The preacher went on to offer the idea that "if you invest in things that will out last you... you will be prosperous too" as an interlacing of both spiritual and investment advice.  Why is this not the Jesus I learned about in my ward house as a kid?

He was a charismatic man wearing a $150.00 shirt and preaching in a state of the art chapel with hundreds of thousands dollars worth of audio visual and theatrical equipment all funded by his congregation.... who were not prosperous enough to shop anywhere but Wal-Mart  I am left asking... is this what happens when we tie religion to Republican Politics.  You get a minister who looks and acts like a used car salesman spinning the republican agenda and because he is a "man of god" the congregation buys it and continues to vote for politicians who skim of the cream and leave masses with nothing!

Time to Bring Back Supply Side Jesus!

I was reading PZ Myers blog the same day and he posted the following article regarding the growing gap between the wealthy 1% and the rest of us.   It has long been observed that middle class in America is shrinking.  There is one major factor... no factories!  The middle class labor force cuts into the profit margin of the corporation.  The people of the US are worthy to buy their products, worthy to support their tax breaks but are not worthy of livable wage and benefits package.  Third world labor markets work cheap and are easy to exploit.  Why? No social justice!  No governmental requirements for a living wage, reasonable work hours and reasonable and safe working conditions!  It is not illegal immigrants who take our jobs it is countries like India and El Salvador.

This theme was continued in todays Salt Lake Tribune with Glenn Beck's continued assertion that Social Justice in Religions.... getting back to the core of Christianity is Marxist.

Beck’s “American Revival,” a combination of politics and stadium evangelism that promotional materials labeled a “fusion of entertainment and enlightenment,” is mostly about duty to God. And from the EnergySolutions Arena pulpit on Saturday, the TV and radio personality told roughly 5,000 ticketed fans it’s a duty requiring restoration of religion in public life.....
 “There is a perversion of faith right now,” he said, “a wicked, wicked perversion. And it is all about social justice. It is all about collective salvation. It’s actually all about Marxism.”
Collective salvation, he said, is a liberal goal meant to force individuals into doing the right thing by taking wealth from them and spreading it to the needy. In his view, he said, salvation only comes when individuals accept God.....
“It’s time to be a patriot again,” he said. “We gotta defend religion and morality in the public sphere.”
Karen Newnam, 48, of West Jordan, said she came away inspired to be more involved politically, and to learn more about where candidates stand. She agreed with the premise that religion is the basis for good government.
“I think that’s what our Founding Fathers based our government on,” she said, “and it seems to have worked.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance to start the day, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said an opening prayer.

Even the Utah conservative politicians are afraid to separate themselves for this ridiculous crap because as Bob Bennett learned if you appear rational you are not conservative enough!  If you advocate for a clear separation of church and state or you believe that social justice means a healthier more compassionate society and you recognize that you cannot leave that the to good graces of humans.... you are a Marxist, Communist, or Socialist.
Unfortunately this is the only social justice that is acceptable the rabid religious right 

I have long said that everything that is wrong with this world was created by organized religion... I will now temper that assertion with the following addition:  "Everything that is wrong with this world was created by organized religion and greed!"  If you are a greedy religious fundamentalist.... you are dangerous for this country!