B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘religion’ tag

Strapped Cities Hit Nonprofits With Fees

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And yet, the US govt is fine with two active wars, and bases in hundreds of locations, and military budgets for planes, warships, SDI, etc., and tax-cuts for billionaires. Priorities, I guess. Though, religions are a business, and should be treated like a business. Small non-profits shouldn’t bare the burden alone.

Facing budget gaps and an aversion to new debt and taxes, states and local governments are slapping residents with an array of new fees—and some are applying them to nonprofits.

That marks a sharp departure from long-standing tax exemptions mandated by state law or adopted on the theory that churches, schools and charitable organizations work alongside governments to provide services to the community.

The issue is on display in Houston, where some flood-prone roads are in such disrepair that signs warn drivers, “Turn around, don’t drown.”

Houston’s taxpayers in November narrowly voted to adopt a “drainage fee” to raise at least $125 million a year toward the cost of improving roads and storm-water systems. The city will charge fees to property owners, and it won’t grant exceptions to churches, schools and charities.

The city has been tightening its budget. “We’re cutting up the city’s credit cards,” says Mayor Annise Parker. “Everyone who contributes to drainage issues has to share in the cost of correcting those issues.”

A number of groups—including schools, businesses, churches and senior citizens—are demanding exemptions. “We’ll defeat this,” says David Welch, of the Houston Area Pastor’s Council, who plans to lobby state legislators in January. “This is really a tax. It is the first time that churches would not be exempt from property taxes,” he says. Some opponents have filed suit claiming the ballot wording was misleading.

At a group called the National Council of Nonprofits, Tim Delaney, chief executive, says, “Governments are taking their public burdens and putting them on the backs of nonprofits, at a time when the demand for our services is skyrocketing.”

Some cities are charging religious groups property taxes on buildings no longer used for worship. Other localities are soliciting voluntary contributions. Albany, N.Y., recently passed an ordinance asking schools, hospitals and other nonprofits to contribute to city services.

As municipalities try to bridge budget gaps with fees that also hit nonprofits, some residents are kicking up a storm. Chicago and Dade City, Fla., scrapped proposals for drainage fees after protests from these groups. Cleveland suspended its proposal after community groups and businesses sued.

(click to continue reading Strapped Cities Hit Nonprofits With Fees – WSJ.com.)

Since the Republicans won the 2010 election with the help of the anti-tax know-nothings, let’s see how many more stories like this one we’ll read.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 27th, 2010 at 7:36 am

Posted in government,religion

Tagged with , ,

Hospital Loses Catholic Affiliation

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Sin will find you out

Sad, doctrinaire rulings judged to be more important than human life to the Church; the mother’s health weighed as less important than her fetus. At least St. Joseph’s Hospital had the strength of its convictions

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix announced on Tuesday that St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center could no longer identify itself as Roman Catholic because it violated church teachings by ending a woman’s pregnancy in 2009. Hospital administrators said the procedure was necessary to save her life, and stood by their decision even after Bishop Olmsted excommunicated a nun on the hospital ethics committee. The hospital, which receives no money from the Phoenix diocese, can no longer hold Masses.

(click to continue reading Arizona – Hospital Loses Catholic Affiliation – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 22nd, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with ,

Why I’m An Atheist

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European Totem

Ricky Gervais consistently delights me with the turns and twists of his logic. For instance, a comedic bit that begins thus is brilliant:

Why don’t you believe in God? I get that question all the time. I always try to give a sensitive, reasoned answer. This is usually awkward, time consuming and pointless. People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary. They are happy with their belief. They even say things like “it’s true to me” and “it’s faith”. I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe”, comes across as both patronizing and impolite.

Arrogance is another accusation. Which seems particularly unfair. Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence – ‐ evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition. If it did, you wouldn’t get a shot of penicillin, you’d pop a leach down your trousers and pray. Whatever you “believe”, this is not as effective as medicine. Again you can say, “It works for me”, but so do placebos. My point being, I’m saying God doesn’t exist. I’m not saying faith doesn’t exist. I know faith exists. I see it all the time. But believing in something doesn’t make it true. Hoping that something is true doesn’t make it true. The existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.

Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God? Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I came up to you and said, “Why don’t you believe I can fly?” You’d say, “Why would I?” I’d reply, “Because it’s a matter of faith”. If I then said, “Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t fly see, see, you can’t prove it can you?” You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me out of the window and shout, ‘’Fucking fly then you lunatic.”

(click to continue reading A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I’m An Atheist – Speakeasy – WSJ.)

I want to copy the whole rant for your amusement, but I’m restraining myself. I’ve heard part of this bit before, maybe it will be part of his live act that’s currently running on HBO?

Conclusion, with a sentiment I can believe in:

So what does the question “Why don’t you believe in God?” really mean. I think when someone asks that; they are really questioning their own belief. In a way they are asking “what makes you so special? “How come you weren’t brainwashed with the rest of us?” “How dare you say I’m a fool and I’m not going to heaven, fuck you!” Let’s be honest, if one person believed in God he would be considered pretty strange. But because it’s a very popular view it’s accepted. And why is it such a popular view? That’s obvious. It’s an attractive proposition. Believe in me and live forever. Again if it was just a case of spirituality this would be fine. “Do unto others…” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. Buts that’s exactly what it is – ‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”

You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 19th, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Posted in humor

Tagged with

Rebuilding Noah’s Ark Tax-Free

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Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy

Tax breaks for 6,000 year old Earthers is a travesty. Tax breaks for any religious organization is absurd, actually, but especially for the Christian Taliban who want to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and institute a theocracy in its stead.

On Dec. 1, Kentucky Gov. Steven L. Beshear announced that the state would provide tax incentives to support the construction of Ark Encounter, a sprawling theme park on 800 acres of rural Grant County. Under Kentucky’s Tourism Development Act, the state can compensate approved businesses for as much as a quarter of their development costs, using funds drawn out of sales-tax receipts. It’s a considerable sweetener to promote development and jobs.

But in this case, say critics, it may pose a constitutional problem. The developers of Ark Encounter have close ties to a Christian ministry called Answers in Genesis, which promotes “young-earth” creationism—the belief that the account of creation provided in Genesis is scientifically accurate and that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

More seriously, civil libertarians’ are concerned that the park would involve an unconstitutional advancement of religion. But over the past two decades federal law has moved toward nondiscrimination against religious organizations. This began with the “charitable choice” provisions in Bill Clinton’s welfare-reform package, which sought to allow religious groups to receive government-funded social services. The trend continued with the Bush administration’s promotion of faith-based initiatives, which the Obama administration has extended in barely modified form. The constitutional argument therefore seems tired, supporting a form of discrimination that the government is abandoning in other quarters.

Should the promotion of tourism be subject to this kind of discrimination? The legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky has stated that he objects to the park receiving state funds because it “is about bringing the Bible to life.” But why is that different, legally speaking, from Disneyland bringing Pirates of the Caribbean to life? At what point did the planners of Ark Encounter go too far in their concerns for religious authenticity?

(click to continue reading Wilfred M. McClay: Rebuilding Noah’s Ark, Tax-Free – WSJ.com.)

I wouldn’t be surprised if, despite the outcry, Kentucky gives in to these fanatics.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 18th, 2010 at 9:02 am

Family version I Ching – Richard Wilhelm translation

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I Ching, Family version of Richard Wilhelm translation

This is the inscription on the hardback version of the I Ching I have, and have carried around for most of my adult life.1 Originally printed in 1966, Bollingen Series. There is a lot of subtext here, but I won’t bore you with a description.

The Chinese characters below my name are the transliteration of my last name, as assigned to me when I studied Beijing Hua at UT-Austin. An De Sen. Quiet Virtuous Forest, as my first Chinese teacher told me. The other character is “sheng” which translates into “born”. Again, there is subtext out the yin-yang, but I won’t bore you with a delineation of it. If you really want to know, bring me a couple of bottles of red wine, and drink them with me: I’ll tell you more than you want to hear.

This edition of the I Ching has a forward by Carl Jung, oft read, oft quoted. I suspect that more modern translations of the I Ching might speak to us more clearly, but that doesn’t matter. My Chinese was never proficient enough to make my own translations.

For over ten years, I kept a dedicated journal where I wrote down the questions and answers related to throwing the coins: my last entry was years ago, but I keep my spidery prose on my shelf. Just in case. Has it helped me? Probably. Part of the charm/mystique of the I Ching is the oblique meaning of the text. One can interpret meaning as it applies to one’s own life; sometimes even accurately.

I am an atheist, and have been as long as I was sentient, but the I Ching isn’t religion, it is aided contemplation. Part of the procedure of throwing the I Ching coins is thinking deeply and seriously about whatever the question of the moment is. I consider the I Ching results as tapping into the subconscious mind, that part of the brain which is active while sleeping, or otherwise occupied. Do you ever wake up in the morning with a perfect answer to a problem you’ve faced? This is that.

  1. I’ve moved it a dozen times or more, because I’ve moved seemingly a gazillion times []

Written by swanksalot

October 17th, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Sharron Angle Vs. Geography

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Lone Star Lame Duck

Sharron Angle is just retarded, no? What other explanation can there be? She recently said, with a straight face:

“My thoughts are these, first of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas are on American soil, and under constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don’t know how that happened in the United States,” she said. “It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States.”

Dearborn, Mich., has a large Muslim community. But Frankford, Texas? Well it doesn’t exist— it’s a former town that was annexed into Dallas around 1975. The former town was close to what is now the Bent Tree Country Club.

(click to continue reading Islamic law in Frankford, Texas —- Oh really? | OPINION Blog | dallasnews.com.)

Frankford, Texas, is about a ten minute drive from George W. Bush’s new home on 10141 Daria Place, maybe that’s the connection? More from the Texas State Historical Assocation, that raging liberal organization1

FRANKFORD, TEXAS. Frankford was nine miles northwest of Richardson in extreme southwestern Collin County. Settlement of the area began around a campsite on the Shawnee Trail near a small spring on Halls Branch, used in the 1850s and 1860s as a stopping point and watering hole for traildrivers and other travelers. A small town developed after the Civil War at the nearby crossing of the Addison and Weber roads (later known respectively as the Dallas North Tollroad and Hilton Head Road), and a post office opened on May 11, 1880, under the name Frankford. By 1890 the town had a population of eighty-three, a steam gristmill, a corn mill, a cotton gin, a blacksmith shop, two general stores, and three churches.

The St. Louis Southwestern Railway bypassed the town in the late 1880s, however, and many Frankford residents moved to Addison, Plano, and other nearby communities. In 1904 the Frankford post office was closed, and in 1907 its lodge hall, which had served as a nondenominational church, was moved to Addison. A second church, built in the 1890s, continued to serve a predominantly Methodist congregation until 1924. By the mid-1930s the town was no longer shown on county highway maps. Its church building was restored in 1963 by the Frankford Cemetery Association, which arranged for the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion to worship there.

The city of Dallas annexed the area in 1975, and in 1990 local children attended the Plano schools. All that remained of the community in 1990 was the Frankford Church and Cemetery, adjoined by residences on three sides and by the Bent Tree Country Club to the south.

(click to continue reading Handbook of Texas Online – FRANKFORD, TX.)

Even claiming Dearbon, Michigan, as free from the laws of the United States is laughable. I doubt Sharron Angle could even find Dearborn on a map, much less talk for more than thirty seconds without saying something ridiculously, factually incorrect. I’ve been to Dearbon a few times, and while there is a large Middle Eastern community there, some of them are Lebanese Christians, etc.. No to mention that the headquarters of the notably fundamentalist Islamic organization2 Ford Motor Company is located in Dearborn.

It Pays to Play

Actually, the mayor of Dearborn responded by asking Angle to educate herself a little3

[Dearborn Mayor John ]O’Reilly appeared Monday night on CNN to defend Dearborn.

Today he gave Action News a copy of the letter he sent to Angle.

“This is the most absurd, inane answer I’ve ever heard. And she was led by the questioner, but should have been mature enough to say I don’t think that’s happening,” said O’Reilly.

O’Reilly said the last census revealed that only thirty percent of the population in Dearborn is Arab American.

“Nobody is trying to control Dearborn. Muslims have been in Dearborn, there has been a mosque in Dearborn for 90 years. So the notion that there’s this new phenomenon and Muslims are taking over America is certainly not substantiated in this community,” said O’Reilly.

(click to continue reading Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly takes on Sharron Angle’s comments that Sharia exists in Dearborn.)

From the comments of the above cited article:

The breakdown of religious affiliation among Arab Americans is as follows: 63% Christian (35% Catholic, 18% Orthodox, 10% Protestant)  24% Muslim 13% Other; Jewish, No Affiliation

  1. kidding, of course, but in case you didn’t catch it []
  2. kidding, again []
  3. yeah, right, that’s gonna happen []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 12th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

links for 2010-09-10

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  • On the commentary track of the 2004 “2 Disc Special Edition” DVD for the film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Terry Jones stated that to his knowledge Ireland had banned only four movies, three of which he had directed: The Meaning of Life, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Personal Services.
    (tags: humor England)
  • Lawmakers Alin Popoviciu and Cristi Dugulescu of the ruling Democratic Liberal Party drafted a law where witches and fortune tellers would have to produce receipts, and would also be held liable for wrong predictions, a measure which was part of the government’s drive to increase revenue.


    Romania’s Senate voted down the proposal Tuesday. Popoviciu claimed lawmakers were frightened of being cursed.

    (tags: humor religion)


Written by swanksalot

September 10th, 2010 at 7:01 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with ,

William Lilly – Master Astrologer

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William Lilly - Master Astrologer
William Lilly – Master Astrologer, originally uploaded by swanksalot.


From Wikipedia:

William Lilly (1 May (O.S.)/11 May (N.S.), 1602 – 9 June 1681), was a famed English astrologer during his time. Lilly was particularly adept at interpreting the astrological charts drawn up for horary questions, as this was his speciality.

Lilly caused much controversy in 1666 for allegedly predicting the Great Fire of London some 14 years before it happened. For this reason many people believed that he might have started the fire, but there is no evidence to support these claims. He was tried for the offence in Parliament but was found to be innocent.


“William Lilly’s History of His Life and Times from the Year 1602 to 1681” (William Lilly)

I had not heard the term, Hoary Astrology before

Horary astrology is an ancient branch of horoscopic astrology by which an astrologer attempts to answer a question by constructing a horoscope for the exact time at which the question was received and understood by the astrologer. There is disagreement amongst horary astrologers as to whether to use the location of the person who asks the question – the querent – or the location of the astrologer. Normally they are in the same place, but in modern times many astrologers work online and by telephone. These days the querent could be in Australia and send an email with the question to an astrologer in Europe. The horoscope would in this case be radically different. Many European practitioners take the location of the querent, but there are strong voices in traditional English schools who advocate using the location of the astrologer. The answer to the horary question might be a simple yes or no, but is generally more complex with insights into, for example, the motives of the questioner, the motives of others involved in the matter, and the options available to him.

(click to continue reading Horary astrology – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Written by swanksalot

September 2nd, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , ,

How Fox Betrayed Petraeus

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Frank Rich has a good overview of the laughably transparent manufactured outrage the Rethuglicans are spewing over the creation of an Islamic prayer center in lower Manhattan. A few choice paragraphs:

Trio of musicians

These patriots have never attacked the routine Muslim worship services at another site of the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon. Their sudden concern for ground zero is suspect to those of us who actually live in New York. All but 12 Republicans in the House voted against health benefits for 9/11 responders just last month. Though many of these ground-zero watchdogs partied at the 2004 G.O.P. convention in New York exploiting 9/11, none of them protested that a fellow Republican, the former New York governor George Pataki, so bollixed up the management of the World Trade Center site that nine years on it still lacks any finished buildings, let alone a permanent memorial.

The Fox patron saint Sarah Palin calls Park51 a “stab in the heart” of Americans who “still have that lingering pain from 9/11.” But her only previous engagement with the 9/11 site was when she used it as a political backdrop for taking her first questions from reporters nearly a month after being named to the G.O.P. ticket. (She was so eager to grab her ground zero photo op that she defied John McCain’s just-announced “suspension” of their campaign.) Her disingenuous piety has been topped only by Bernie Kerik, who smuggled a Twitter message out of prison to register his rage at the ground zero desecration. As my colleague Clyde Haberman reminded us, such was Kerik’s previous reverence for the burial ground of 9/11 that he appropriated an apartment overlooking the site (and designated for recovery workers) for an extramarital affair.

At the Islamophobia command center, Murdoch’s News Corporation, the hypocrisy is, if anything, thicker. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial darkly cited unspecified “reports” that Park51 has “money coming from Saudi charities or Gulf princes that also fund Wahabi madrassas.” As Jon Stewart observed, this brand of innuendo could also be applied to News Corp., whose second largest shareholder after the Murdoch family is a member of the Saudi royal family. Perhaps last week’s revelation that News Corp. has poured $1 million into G.O.P. campaign coffers was a fiendishly clever smokescreen to deflect anyone from following the far greater sum of Saudi money (a $3 billion stake) that has flowed into Murdoch enterprises, or the News Corp. money (at least $70 million) recently invested in a Saudi media company.

…After 9/11, President Bush praised Islam as a religion of peace and asked for tolerance for Muslims not necessarily because he was a humanitarian or knew much about Islam but because national security demanded it. An America at war with Islam plays right into Al Qaeda’s recruitment spiel. This month’s incessant and indiscriminate orgy of Muslim-bashing is a national security disaster for that reason — Osama bin Laden’s “next video script has just written itself,” as the former F.B.I. terrorist interrogator Ali Soufan put it — but not just for that reason. America’s Muslim partners, those our troops are fighting and dying for, are collateral damage. If the cleric behind Park51 — a man who has participated in events with Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes, for heaven’s sake — is labeled a closet terrorist sympathizer and a Nazi by some of the loudest and most powerful conservative voices in America, which Muslims are not?

(click to continue reading Frank Rich – How Fox Betrayed Petraeus – NYTimes.com.)

The GOP and their ally, the Christian Taliban, will not stop until America overturns the Constitution and Bill of Rights America was founded on, and the GOP has the right to crucify the non-believers. Why don’t they leave and start their own country somewhere far far away since they hate the US so much?

And as Frank Rich explains, kind of hard to “win hearts and minds” in Iraq and Afghanistan when the GOP wants to strip Muslims of religious freedoms here.

Poor General Petraeus. Over the last week he has been ubiquitous in the major newspapersand on television as he pursues a publicity tour to pitch the war he’s inherited. But have you heard any buzz about what he had to say? Any debate? Any anything? No one was listening and no one cared. Everyone was too busy yelling about the mosque.

It’s poignant, really. Even as America’s most venerable soldier returned from the front to valiantly assume the role of Willy Loman, the product he was selling was being discredited and discontinued by his own self-proclaimed allies at home.


Written by Seth Anderson

August 22nd, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Christopher Hitchens and Mel Gibson

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Christopher Hitchens is not fooled by Mel Gibson’s publicists – Gibson has been a seething racist for most of his career.


We live in a culture where the terms fascist and racist are thrown about, if anything, too easily and too frequently. Yet here is a man whose every word and deed is easily explicable once you know the single essential thing about him: He is a member of a fascist splinter group that believes it is the salvation of the Catholic Church.

This schismatic crackpot sect is headed by Mel Gibson’s father, Hutton Gibson, a nutty autodidact with a sideline in Holocaust denial. During the controversy over The Passion of the Christ, Gibson junior said that he had never heard anything but the truth from his father. I have some of old man Gibson’s books on my shelf, including his self-published classics Is the Pope Catholic? and The Enemy Is Still Here!, which essentially accuse the current papacy of doing the work of the Antichrist. My favorite sample of his prose style is the following: “Our ‘civilization’ tolerates open sodomy and condones murder of the unborn, but shrinks in horror from burning incorrigible heretics—essentially a charitable act.” He attacks the late Pope John Paul II for having said, in one of his “outreaches” to the Jewish people, “You are our predilect brothers and, in a certain way, one could say our oldest brothers.” Hutton Gibson’s comment? “Abel had an older brother.” I don’t think that there’s much ambiguity there, do you? Like many ultra-conservative Catholics, the Gibsons, père et fils, have never forgiven the Vatican for lifting the charge of deicide against the Jews in 1964.

Nor have they forgiven the British Isles for breaking away from Rome during the 16th-century Reformation and destroying the monopoly of Holy Mother Church. In a series of ultra-violent propaganda movies, from Braveheart to The Patriot, Gibson has represented the English as a generally foul tribe. Those of us who have English descent can of course laugh this off as the writhings of a thwarted theocracy (combined in this case with some symptoms of a colonial inferiority complex), but the historic connection of the Catholic right with European fascism is not so amusing.

(click to continue reading Mel Gibson’s tirades are the distilled violence, cruelty, and bigotry of right-wing Catholic ideology. – By Christopher Hitchens – Slate Magazine.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 19th, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with ,

Praying to the wrong direction

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Lest a reader think we are singling out Islam for ridicule, we are not, because all religions are by very definition, nuts.

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s Muslims learned on Friday they have been praying in the wrong direction, after the country’s highest Islamic authority said its directive on the direction of Mecca actually had people facing Africa.

Muslims are supposed to face the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia during prayer and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued an edict in March stipulating westward was the correct direction from the world’s most populous Muslim country.

“But it has been decided that actually the mosques are facing Somalia or Kenya, so we are now suggesting people shift the direction slightly to the north-west,” the head of the MUI, Cholil Ridwan, told Reuters. “There’s no need to knock down mosques, just shift your direction slightly during prayer.”

Ridwan said Muslims need not fear that their prayers have been wasted because they were facing the wrong way.

“Their prayers will still be heard by Allah,” he said.

(click to continue reading Indonesian Muslims told to change prayer direction | Oddly Enough | Reuters.)

This logic1 makes me giggle – if an Indonesian Muslim is facing the wrong direction while praying, the prayers apparently don’t count. Except Mr. Ridwan reassures the faithful that their prayers were still received by Allah, but if the prayer was still heard, why go to all the trouble of figuring out the precise direction to pray in?

  1. illogic? []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 19th, 2010 at 10:04 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with ,

Churchgoers forced to pay parking gods to pray

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Poor, poor Christians, forced to pay the city a pittance. Not forced to pay property taxes or anything like that, but even contributing nickles and dimes is apparently too much of a burden.

No Parking

Churchgoers forced to pay to pray: Ever since the steeple of Chicago’s First United Methodist Church went up across the street from City Hall in the 1830s, worshippers have sought a place to hitch their horse or park their station wagon to pray.

But since the city privatized its parking meters last year, more churchgoers have encountered unanswered prayers for parking. Pricey meters and restricted curbside parking now surround historic houses of worship in the Loop, forcing the faithful to pay to pray or get free parking by volunteering for soup kitchens, tutoring or other ministries.

Some pastors are pushing the city to consider what churches contribute to city life and ease parking restrictions for congregants, especially on Sunday mornings when commercial and government traffic is light.

(Via Churchgoers forced to pay to pray.)

Fixing Another Parking Meter

If churches whine themselves into special treatment, I’m petitioning various businesses I frequent to become churches too; restaurants, bars, retail, whatever. Only makes sense, right? Food can be a transcendent experience, better than any bible thumping, at least for me. In fact, I’m declaring that I am a Church, so I demand the right to park anywhere in the City of Chicago for free, at any time.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 5th, 2010 at 8:08 am

Posted in Chicago-esque

Tagged with ,

NYT defends against Vatican criticism

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Follow up on Catholic Church and its newest enemy, journalists, especially at the New York Times

Cardinal William J. Levada, a top Vatican official, leveled harsh criticism at The New York Times today, calling the paper’s news and editorial coverage of a sexual abuse case “deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness.”

The Times has been reporting on how Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, handled pleas from Wisconsin church officials to “defrock a priest who had abused as many as 200 deaf boys from 1950 to 1974.”

Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty told POLITICO that the “stories were based on meticulous reporting and documents, many of them posted on our website.”

“We stand by that reporting,” she said.

Indeed, the Times has included a number of primary documents online. And as a timeline of events clearly shows, the Vatican’s doctrinal office — which Ratzinger ran — suspended a secret trial that could have punished the priest, who was given such leniency because of his declining health.

“The allegations of abuse within the Catholic Church are a serious subject, as the Vatican has acknowledged on many occasions,” McNulty said. “Any role the current pope may have played in responding to those allegations over the years is a significant aspect of this story.”

[Click to continue reading NYT defends against Vatican criticism – Michael Calderone – POLITICO.com]

Written by Seth Anderson

April 1st, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , , ,

Should There Be an Inquisition for the Pope

with 5 comments

Yes, and more. Secular punishment for criminals who hide behind religion.

Church Heavies - Roof of St. Peters, Vatican City 1993

MoDo writes:

It doesn’t seem right that the Catholic Church is spending Holy Week practicing the unholy art of spin.

Complete with crown-of-thorns imagery, the church has started an Easter public relations blitz defending a pope who went along with the perverse culture of protecting molesters and the church’s reputation rather than abused — and sometimes disabled and disadvantaged — children.

The church gave up its credibility for Lent. Holy Thursday and Good Friday are now becoming Cover-Up Thursday and Blame-Others Friday.

This week of special confessions and penance services is unfolding as the pope resists pressure from Catholics around the globe for his own confession and penance about the cascade of child sexual abuse cases that were ignored, even by a German diocese and Vatican office he ran.

If church fund-raising and contributions dry up, Benedict’s P.R. handlers may yet have to stage a photo-op where he steps out of the priest’s side of the confessional and enters the side where the rest of his fallible flock goes.

Or maybe 30-second spots defending the pope with Benedict’s voice intoning at the end: “I am infallible, and I approve this message.”

[Click to continue reading Maureen Dowd – Should There Be an Inquisition for the Pope? – NYTimes.com]

And remove the Church’s tax-exempt status while we’re at it. Criminal organizations shouldn’t get special concessions from the government.


Dowd refutes the six PR strategies the Catholic Church and its supporters are using, but bottom line is that nobody should be exempt from laws of Caesar, even and especially the Pope.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 31st, 2010 at 8:12 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,

Texas Conservatives Vote To Join Taliban

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The Christian Taliban, that is.

Garfield Dino Dali

AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.

The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.

In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.

Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers.

[Click to continue reading Texas Conservatives Win Vote on Textbook Standards – NYTimes.com]

For all of the charms of Texas1, the power of the Christian Taliban over Texas politics is certainly in my top five reasons for moving away. There are just too many of these anti-21st century, anti-intellectual, anti-free thinking radicals in positions of authority. The Texas Board of Education is an elected position, and the Texas Board of Education believes in a 6,000 year old Earth, hence the majority of voters in Texas also believe2 that humans rode around on dinosaurs. Scary, scary people.

George W. Bush was an honorary member, at the least, but the current Governor of Texas is a founding member of the Texas Flat Earth Party of the Christian Taliban. And Governor Good Hair is about to be elected for a third term. The will of the people indeed, just not people I wish to affiliate with.

Dinosaur Invasion

“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”3

They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”

Even the course on world history did not escape the board’s scalpel.Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

Evolutionary Moment

I wouldn’t be sad if Texas actually did secede, as long as there is a bullet train that goes to Austin so I can visit family.

  1. and there are quite a few []
  2. or don’t care []
  3. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 13th, 2010 at 10:31 am