April 28, 2005
Postponing my pedantic pontification, I present a passel of pictures of our precocious princess.
April 25, 2005
Mixing the Faith (edited)
When one's religion becomes one's politics, a dangerous line is crossed. A great deal of choice is given up because to question a political leader who shares your faith becomes a question of the faith itself. To doubt any policy based on a belief is to doubt the belief itself. Machiavelli understood this when he said, "That the show of religion was helpful to the politician, but the reality of it hurtful and pernicious." Politicians want the unquestioned power of faith behind their pronouncements, but they often don't want to follow the more demanding tenets of that faith.
I won't bore you with the lessons from history, like Salem or the Inquisition, but ask yourself how free you feel to question a minister in front of others whenever they say something that you oppose. The good people of Salem allowed 17 innocent people to hang because they were afraid to confront the political forces steered by religious fervor, and tens of thousands of women, Jews, and other marginalized people in Europe were executed by Catholics who felt they were doing God's work. Most people knew it was wrong, but felt compelled by their trust in the church to go along.
The sublimity and dignity of religion is tainted when mixed with the banality and rhetoric of politics. Religion is supposed to be an inclusive experience of our common humanity, while politics is by definition an exclusive exercise of power. And, when faith is used as political justification, the path is open to question that faith as rhetoric, with condemnation the only retort available to those using faith as vindication for their actions. Don't like my reasoning? You're an infidel!
The only thing we all have in common is our reasoning ability. Is it too much to ask that our political decisions be based on this? Convince me, within the bounds of rationality and without the realm of superstition, that I should adhere to a political policy and I will follow. That's a democracy. Threaten me with eternal punishment if I don't think your way, and I'll resist until they start burning people at the stakes again. That's a theocracy.
April 22, 2005
I was discussing politics with a colleague the other day, and, after he fully expounded on the fact that Fox news is not biased, I asked him what he thought a liberal was. He responded with a definition that centered around religious concerns. Liberals, including me, are godless relativists with no morals, ineptly blind to their own hypocrisy. They (me) slaughter 1.6 million babies a year and seek to undermine the religious foundations of the country.
I asked him if "Christian Liberal" were an oxymoron, to which he snorted a laugh, as if I were being funny. I asked if Martin Luther King would fit into that label, to which he replied, "Yeah, but he gave up preaching whenever he started leading the Civil Rights Movement," whatever that means.
I offered to explain some of the main reasons I stand on the Left: progressive taxation, privacy, and education. I explained that a progressive tax system is fundamental to democracy because of the commonwealth it produces--the fortunate among us contribute more to the general welfare, which is guaranteed in the Constitution after all, so that all citizens can prosper. Of course, Rethuglicans call it "wealth redistribution," but I call it "forcing the bastards to be humane."
Privacy issues are particularly disturbing to me as a geek who sees how technology has turned our personal information into a commodity. Those grocery cards and car giveaways you've been signing up for are not innocent promotions. I, for one, am not comfortable with giving up my privacy; Republicans are.
As far as education is concerned, there's a reason the vast majority of teachers are union members, much less Democrats. I see public education as fundamental to the ideas of equality and opportunity, which are liberal policies I think everyone can agree on.
It's always frightening and enlightening to talk to the "other side." On one hand, we agreed on some things, like gun control and nuclear power, but on the other, I realized that he saw me as a demonized pinko, dehumanized and handily categorized. That's too bad, because, while I remember and reflect on what he said, I suspect he never heard a word from me. So much for discourse.
April 21, 2005
Freedom? We don't need no steenking Freedom
The new pope is a perfect complement to radical conservative policies sweeping us back into the Middle Ages. With warmongers like Bolton and Wolfowitz swaggering into power to enforce the new American Neo-Con policies, we've got the "might makes right" policy in place. With Ratzinger and Bush as the mouthpieces of God, we've got the justification to do whatever we deem moral, even killing 20,000 innocent Iraqis to "free" them. Hey, it's the Crusades and the Inquisition rolled into one!
The same cast of characters that were jailed, tortured, killed, enslaved, and conquered in the not so distant past are the same ones again being jailed, tortured, killed, enslaved, and conquered today. Progress, freedom, enlightenment, brotherhood? Boooooring! Imperialism, submission, ignorance, hegemony? Huzzah!
April 12, 2005
WalkAmerica (from Denise)
Bryan, Molly and I will be walking in the March of Dimes WalkAmerica on the 30th of this month. Our lives have been touched in such a special way by Molly's wonderful life. We realize now how truly fortunate we are to have had her enter life the way she did and with so few repercussions. Through her birth our lives have been touched by many more families who have been less fortunate in this way. These experiences and our awareness of the problem of premature births in the United States have encouraged us to participate in this special event. Below you will find a link to our page for Team MollyD. Please consider sponsoring us in our walk on the 30th as a family. Your gift will mean so much to us and even more to those babies we know who are still struggling or will struggle in the future.
in the spirit of miracles,
April 07, 2005
I've been struggling lately with what Camus called the absurd--the struggle to reconcile self-awareness with a finite existence--and still maintain a positive mindset. We all dance with ourselves over this issue, lying at times, despairing at others. Reading and alcohol help to distract, but ultimately it's intellectual suicide to dodge the question: Why?
Existentialism, the philosophy that Camus helped form, teaches that in order to overcome, or at least to extenuate the pain of, this painful dichotomy, embrace your own existence and find meaning in the daily minutiae that comprise life. Find in yourself the meaning, the responsibility, for the life you lead. Make yourself into who you are, experiencing yourself and avoiding reflection--such as this writing--that taint the purity of emotion, the true wellspring of being. Be, not think. Feel, not plan.
Roll down your windows today on your way home. Spit, really spit. Take one minute to chew each bite. Walk barefooted all weekend. Stare at your spouse. Say nothing. Exist. Be.
April 06, 2005
Ya know, if I may indulge for a minute, I was thinking on my commute home today that I'm looking forward to using "fatass" without hypocrisy. Part of my motivation for losing weight was to opt out of the American way of eating; you know, the one that gave us the fried ranch-style meat-lover's pizza? And for my soon-to-be thin ass to call my fellow Americans fatasses makes me feel like such a self-righteous rebel against everything consumer. Yeah.