Saturday, December 6, 2008
War on Christmas
I am always troubled by being told some how I am fighting a war on someone else's holiday by encouraging inclusion in my approach to December. As a kid there was a season, starting with Thanksgiving and going through New Year's Day that was simply called The Holidays. On Thanksgiving Day WPIX showed March of the Wooden Soldiers and that marked the start of a time when everyone seemed to enjoy the spirit of the holiday. Season's Greetings, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas filled the community and all seemed to have the same power for sharing joy. The few Jews in my hometown would celebrate Hanukah in the proper time and people respected and enjoyed the moment.
But today when someone says Happy Holidays there are those right wing nuts who think it is an assault on American values. There are those who think it is an affront to all that is good. Inclusion is what this country is about, but not to the right wing. They fear the ideas of others. It is a challenge to their weak minded faith, much like the existence of Jews in the Middle Ages was a challenge to the corrupt church, so they killed the Jews whenever they could. Today it is more about marginalizing the anyone who doesn't think like they do, making them some how Anti-American. That is comical to me.
I believe the true war on Christmas comes from consumerism. Christmas to Christians is about the birth of Jesus, the savior, the changer of destiny. How could a religious tradition that holds that so dear allow it to become about 1/2 off sales at Target?
I think the fictional war on Christmas is being fought only from those of little faith trying to cover their ears and sing when anyone brings up the rich diversity of our nation. Sad, because in a highly homogeneous society in 1973 we understood that while there were those who were "other", they had a place at the table. Too bad someone is trying to pull away the chair.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
At one point he visits an institute in Israel where Rabbis try to invent ways to allow traditional Jews to use technology that would be normally be forbidden on the Sabbath. It was clear to me that this was a grand opportunity to discuss the idea that perhaps religion is not about getting around the rules, but understanding the meaning of some rules. And perhaps how they might change with each generation. But Maher laughed it off, not digging deep he simply poked fun.
I think Maher is looking at religion like most in Western culture, the religion they remember from elementary school religion classes. Heaven and Hell, Baby Jesus, Moses on the mountain, Apples and Honey, Easter Eggs. A religion where incredible stories of miracles and fun holiday traditions feed a childhood imagination that as we age we begin to question but rarely find a good answer. Some faith traditions have interpreted over time what the stories mean and how they can be teaching tools for how to live our lives. Certainly, sitting in the center of the Hebrew Bible is a cornerstone of building a society. Albeit a religious society based around sacrifice, but even that changed over time, including being argued against by the prophets later in the history of the faith. What Maher and most of his belief system fail to understand is that you can take a faith tradition seriously and yet not believe that the stories that were created to explain the unexplainable were true stories. As one teacher of mine once said "The stories in the Bible are true, they just didn't happen that way". We mine the meaning and create a way of living, a culture, that grows out of what the ancient wisdom tries to teach us. We don't have to believe in a celestial hall monitor that watches over us looking for us to screw up. But we can believe that an attempt to understand our existence, that faith in something greater than ourselves can have value, as long as we examine it from what we know about the universe. I think there are rich religious traditions that understand that God may not be the God of the Bible, or the theologians of old, but something that is understood differently as we unlock the knowledge of the world. Too often people don't want to explore the deeper meaning so they either disconnect from the reality they see or simply hold two mutually exclusive thoughts in their head. I believe both set one up for failure to thrive as a human and leads Maher to so easily attack religion as if it were monolithic.
One point Maher complains that more people have been killed for religion and uses Christianity and Islam as an example. The problem with this is that it isn't simply religion. In both cases and in many others in the past when religion and government combine and a sin against God is a crime against the state violence can only be the solution. That, connected with a government supporting the idea that they have the one true answer, zealotry leads to persecution and forced conversions and events like the Holocaust. Governments that have religion as the driving force of the society can not be wrong. Killing the "infidel" is not murder, it is keeping the society safe. It is a government holding on to power in most cases using religion as a club. Often distorting the faith.
I believe intellectually honest religion is a good thing for people personally and for society as a whole. But Maher doesn't want to look that deep, no comedy in nuance. So laugh with Bill at Scientology and zealots but I encourage you to examine your own thoughts. What do you believe? Why? How do you reconcile it with the world you live in? Look deep, there is a lot of good in a faith tradition, but bring out the wheat and leave the chafe. You will be better for it.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Giving it to the people will do absolutely nothing. If you divide the money by every American, it comes to about $2300, how does this help someone who is 3 months behind in an $1100 mortgage payment they can't afford anyway? It won't stimulate the economy and yes it is our money that we are borrowing. I have no idea where an earlier poster came up with the $400 K scenario. What this does is to support the collapse of a banking system that for good or bad holds up the rest of the economy. With out loans, small business doesn't thrive, big business can't function, and people can't operate in a world that many live month to month. Yes stupid loans were given out when money was plentiful and there was insurance on risky loans. But the holders of that insurance didn't put away enough money to cover them, banks didn't want to continuously foreclose and there is a housing glut in many parts of the country so the structures themselves are not worth what is owed on them. This bailout will create a whole new way of our economics working. At least I hope in the end it does. The government should take over failing companies, hold the boards and management responsible for negligence and seize all assets to avoid anyone walking out with any severance. Investigations should be done on any illegality and it should all be done in the light of day. The gov't should have a plan for reselling assets at fair value as quickly as possible and using that money pay off the price tag. When the economy is strong again, and it will be, there should be significant tax reductions across the board. As for programs to help people buy a home, in the future there should be far more oversight in how those loans are processed and how much money is given away. The government should have strict controls to avoid predatory lending and frankly ridiculous lending. I don't see this package as simply throwing money at the problem. Giving every American $2300 would in fact put money in people's pockets but will they pay their past due loans or buy a flat screen? I don't know. What I do know is that if we do nothing we risk a total collapse of monetary systems around the world and frankly I don't want to learn Chinese.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Democrats are going to vote, for the most part of Senator Obama, Republicans are for the most part going to vote for Senator McCain. There is about 10-15% of the population that waivers week-to-week about who they will vote for. Biden was chosen for them. I see a 5 point bounce coming in the daily tracking polls and a 10 point bump by Thursday night. (of course that will be erased quickly by the rise of the GOP convention and the attacks on Obama/Biden) But I think there will be some to look closer at this team. 70ish days to go. I can't wait.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
As for the forum, it was pure silliness. Sen. McCain didn't come across as genuine, he sounded like a bumper sticker machine. It is easy to make such declarative statements but that is not how one governs. Sadly most Americans don't get that.
Senator Obama should take some of Senator McCain's answers to the first debate.
I could just hear him:
"Senator McCain, it is believed that Osama Bin Laden is in Northern Pakistan, not quite the gates of hell. Tell us all how you will be going there to get him."
"John, if human rights begin at conception, what do you tell a young girl who is pregnant by her father when she doesn't want to carry the baby to term. Why should she have to give up her human rights for the rights of the fetus?"
"Should there be an investigation into every miscarriage to make sure that the mom did everything right to protect the human rights of her child?"
"Sir, you spout a lot about morality and the failure of your first marriage. Tell us how soon after meeting Cindie did you start sleeping together? Were you married? Do you think that you are a good role model for our youth?"
Those who want to be bumper sticker politicians should be forced to answer real questions. But according to many Sen. Obama lost because of nuance and details. So sad when our society is all about nuance and compromise.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Obama, as well as many Americans, know that most Muslims are peaceful, but we will make them less so if we marginalize, discriminate against, and abuse. Obama will likely have to address this head on. Perhaps a speech in Detroit with a large Muslim crowd outlining why racism hurts the way the campaign works. Maybe he can invite people like Glen Beck to tell us how his race and religious are a factor and then play Beck crying when Gov. Romney was attacked for his Mormon beliefs.
The simple fact is that Senator Obama's race, his name, his family religious history and his current faith tradition will be a factor for some. Some of that may even be legitimate. But most is just crap. Too bad that is what helped win the last several elections.
Monday, June 23, 2008
(CNN) -- School administrators in Ohio voted Friday to begin the process of firing a middle school teacher accused of burning a cross into a student's arm and refusing to keep his religious beliefs out of the classroom.
The Mount Vernon School Board passed a resolution to terminate the employment of John Freshwater, an eighth-grade science teacher for the past 21 years.
Freshwater, according to an independent report, used an electrostatic device to mark a cross on the arm of one of his students, causing pain to the student the night of the incident and leaving a mark that lasted for approximately three weeks.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, the student's family has filed a lawsuit.
Freshwater was also reprimanded several times for refusing to move his Bible from his classroom desk and teaching creationism alongside evolution, according to the 15-page independent report. The report also cites evidence that Mr. Freshwater told his students that "science is wrong because the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin and so anyone who is gay chooses to be gay and is therefore a sinner."
This guy is a nut and if he did this he should be charged with assault. But what is more troubling is that so many people teaching science don't seem to understand science.
It turns out a study reveals that a large percentage of science teachers seem to discount evolution on the whole and teach creationism as a valid alternative:
Teachers often say, while they teach it they don't believe in evolution.
Evolution is not a matter of belief, it is a matter of science. There is clear and present evidence for evolution. Replacing it with a belief in something else without evidence is not science. While there are various aspects of Evolutionary theory that continue to be studied, tweaked, enhanced and discounted the fundamental theory has lived up to its predictable expectations. If you are teaching biological science and reject evolution you need a career change. Oh and if you are a public school teacher, and you really want to be a preacher, get out of the classroom.
I think that we need a national science revolution. We need to focus our energies on creating true science literate individuals. So much misinformation causes people to not fully comprehend what is true science and what is pseudoscience. I think an educated population is much better than a ignorant one swayed by half truths and out right lies. Some people call it indoctrination. Funny, one is encouraged to question science with evidence. Can we say that about the ID crowd?
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Well, the movie is out and I hope that if you see it that you will at least see that from much of the press there was some deception in its creation. However one of the most interesting stories came out of one of the scientists that was interviewed in the film who went to a screening and was not allowed in. Read details here: http://scienceblogs.com
Too often the debates in this country are black and white. At a time when we should be seeking a better understanding of truth we are struck by the growing community who calls science Godless or draws connections as this movie does between the theory of Evolution and the horrors of the Shoah (Holocaust). As a Jewish educator this movie offends me on its face. But the deception used to get scientist to seemingly endorse its message is unforgivable. I hope that in the long run this movie will be seen for what it is, propaganda.
Sorry for the rant, but this really got to me.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
But I was wondering, could the US elect a Muslim President? Could there be a different faith in the White House besides Christianity? We have flirted with Jewish candidates in the past, and I am quite sure there were a few atheists among the so-called Christian Presidents. But I have to ask is there any real advantage to having someone with a good Christian upbring in the White House. President GW Bush and President Carter probably wore their faith the most on their sleeve and seemed to live it out more in their walking around life. Both show good Christian cred, but neither was a great President, both probably make the most people's list of worst in the last 100 years. (there were a few dunderheads in the 1800s but that is like comparing running backs now to the leather helmet days).
You see maybe we shouldn't care what religion some is or isn't and see their character, their desire to lead us in an appropriate direction. To fight to protect America and Americans not only from foreign terrorists but from other forces that allow for poverty, depression, hate and fear to thrive so well in this country. Perhaps we should be less concerned about which language they call to God in, and more about what they say when they all to us.
Barack Hussein Obama, I don't know if I want him to be President, I still support Senator Clinton, but I could easily pull the lever for him in November if he is the chose of my party, even if we find a prayer rug in his closet.
While anyone who knows me knows I feel the Republican party has many problems and it is in fact ready to die a painful death at the hands o...
So the letter came today. Every two years it comes at the end of January or beginning of February. It tells me that Linda's murderer ...
It continues to be a trial to be a mindful liberal these days. Recently in McCordsville, a suburb of Indianapolis had a teacher send home ...