News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: August 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

In Memoriam: Julie

Before I move on to posting more of my politically naive diatribes, I want to note the death of a woman I wish I had known better. Julie died yesterday after a bout with a very horrible disease, systemic sclerosis, that travestied her body and made her last days on earth a daze induced by pain-suffocating drugs.

But this end does no justice to the light that this woman shared with all while she lived. It is that light which I only experienced for a few short hours and that I will remember and hope that all her family never forgets.

Julie was my ex-fiancee's aunt. I came to know Julie at several holiday gatherings and momentary stop-overs at her home, which she kindly opened up to me and my son when we had to catch a 6am plane.

From the bits and pieces that I know about her, Julie's life was not easy. She raised a son by herself. He was a handful. Later in life he gravitated to drugs and caused great hardship for her with various criminal activities that it seemed Julie invariably took upon herself to pay for. This even ended in her having to give up her house to get him out of trouble.

A less forgiving parent might have simply disowned a son like that. And, no doubt, they'd be right in a prudent way. Yet, not only did Julie display the unconditional love of a mother, but perhaps she exhibited that love that goes beyond even the natural and biological love. She never gave up on her son, something that will perhaps be to her credit should a final accounting have been made in whatever other reality exists beyond this one.

Julie worked as a head cook in a hospital kitchen. From this position she gained the wisdom to see that hospitals were money-making institutions just like any other in America. She also saw that the interests of hospital management and those of the less skilled and educated hospital workers had to fight for respect and a decent standard of living.

From this position, she rose to become president of her local hospital worker's union. Over the years, she saw the nature of healthcare change and as it changed so did the pressures on hospital workers to reduce their pay. She became quite adept at seeing through the many lies and strategems that hospital management tried to use to undermine worker solidarity. Until the end, she remained committed to workers and their dignity. She was a fighter.

Before her long illness sapped her strength, she had begun to work with street walkers close to her home. Non-judgmentally and completely on her own, she first created a bond of trust with these naturally distrustful individuals and began coaching them on ways to see get out of the brutality and vicious cycle of drugs and physical and mental abuse of pimps.

Perhaps in working with prostitutes, she was trying to exorcize some of her own demons. Perhaps she felt that helping someone in dire straits would make up for what she may have felt were her own failures with her son.

I never had a chance to go deep with Julie about her motivations, but then we have all have demons and judging others is supposed to be done with a measuring rod that begins with your own life. There's much in my own life that tells against being presumptuous in this regard.

Yet, there were also triumphs. Her courageous stand in rescuing my ex-fiance from a home where she was sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend for years is one such instance. Julie took her into her home and raised her like her own daughter. She was successful in teaching my ex- survival skills that enabled her to live on her own in an independent and self-sufficient manner.

Julie was a courageous and strong woman. It is people like her that should fill our history books. I only hope that these few, hastily jotted words do not exaggerate either her humility or her innate genius. For me, at least, she was a person to know for who she was--strengths and weaknesses alike. For it is through our weaknesses that we are strong, the Apostle Paul once wrote. And it is through our humble strengths that we show forth the spark that can move mountains. Read more!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Coming War with Iran (Updated)

The Bush admin has done an admirable job of selling the coming war with Iran. Popping every trial balloon like it was just bubbles of fantasy, it has made such a war appear less and less likely. Simultaneously, it has made those who see the writing on the wall of such a war look like so many Chicken Littles.

Excellent job, you guys in disinformation and psyops. You really have played this game superbly.

So all the talk about Condi working for a diplomatic settlement and Cheney in the doghouse was so much dust in our eyes. Or perhaps Dick has wormed his lovable way back into the deciderer's heart. Who knows?

As it is, the signs that such a war with Iran is imminent becomes more more compelling by the hour. There is still a huge armada in the Persian Gulf. AF personnel are well-rested and do not suffer from the fatigue that the ground troops do. The naval and AF ordnance and resources are stacked high and ready.

Then, of course, you have George, Rex Youdas, displaying apocalyptic fantasies once again in public. Yesterday, for example, in a little-covered speech (that's what floating all those bubbles does, see, it makes such speeches seem like trivialities and old hat, nothing important, just a bunch of verbiage), almost made it a fait accompli.

Born at the Crest of the Empire picked these choice quotes:

(AFP) "The United States demanded Tuesday that Iran end any support for extremists in Iraq "at once" and raised the specter of a "nuclear holocaust" in the Middle East if Tehran gets atomic weapons."

(Speech text) "I want our fellow citizens to consider what would happen if these forces of radicalism and extremism were allowed to drive us out of the Middle East. The region would be dramatically transformed in a way that could imperil the civilized world."
Those are fighting words and this guy is in a corner, facing the oblivion of history or the glory of being the one to save the world from evil. Which would you choose?

And if that weren't sobering enough, consider the following remarks from Col. Lang, a guy whose instincts and experience on these matters I think you should trust:
In fact such a strike would be merely the opening battle in yet another long war fought against a major piece of the Islamic World.

The current IO [Information Operations, i.e., the Defense Department's propaganda wing] campaign against Iran makes it seem more and more plausible that such an onslaught will be attempted.
Then again, don't we deserve this in some weird, twisted way? Didn't most of us applaud George and facilitate his egomania as the guy in the white hat who fights the evil ferners who're out to kill us all?

What or who's going to stop them? The Democrats will not, no matter how many dollars pour into their campaign troughs. They're up to their eyeballs in dining with the AIPAC and Defense Dept. military-industrial technocrats.

Update In response to a post at Lang's blog, I noted the following:
The Dems will not in any way tie Bush's hands on Iran. AIPAC is too strong in both parties. And it's AIPAC and its minions who are pushing hard this idea of hitting Iran.

Dick has what he wants, I think, in Iraq. I wrote several months ago that he and Rumsfeld were telling Der Deciderer that things were sufficiently "contained" in Iraq to go after Iran. Obviously he couldn't make the appearance of that stick in the popular press.

Now, however, with Petraeus conveying confidence and almost spouting success, the perception that Iraq is indeed contained can gain more credence. I say this after listening to two people on NPR talk about Iraq in terms that made Iraq sound like it was on the verge of entering the Emerald City.

This is a liberal talk show and if the impression given by the host and her speakers is so sanguine, then how do you think Der Deciderer feels?

What broke my growing euphoria, though, was a statement during the news break that Condi Rice is sounding the Cheney fight song. It sounds like she's given in and is now on-board with Dick
Updates: Fer "evil ferners" see the comment left by Davie on my very successful post, "Kill All Muslims." (more of which in a second)

Col. Lang has kindly linked to an article explaining further the IO plan of operations vis a vis the Iranian War.

Also see this from Chris Floyd.

Related Links
Read more!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Coming Xtian Takeover!?

A major theme of this site has been the supposed takeover of the US government by a coalition of Xtian fundamentalists and neocon ideologues. This alliance of convenience has been covered from numerous angles, especially the Xtian fundamentalist side. Kevin Phillips wrote a best-selling book on the subject and Chris Hedges has covered it in numerous articles.

I engaged in some discussion with Adam Kotsko about whether the Xtian Right posed a real danger to US democracy. Oversimplifying somewhat, Kotsko appears to think that the Xtian Right is not as strong as the press makes them out to be. He also thinks that the press overplays their strengths, ostensibly from a secularist bias. I have written extensively about why I think the Xtian/neocon coalition is a threat not just to democracy but also to a true undertsnading of Christianity.

These discussions were, perhaps, overly academic and just pissing in the wind. With that fantasy aspect in mind, I wrote several months ago about the potential for a military coup in the US. This relates to one of my most powerful movie memories from childhood, the film "Seven Days in May." At the time I somewhat dismissively noted that "it's just a movie."

My interest in this subject was brought to life again, though, with the recent appearance of several articles that made no impact in the MSM (as far as I know). One was the report by a Defense Department inspector general on several generals who appeared in a Xtian-sponsored video. Christianity Today reports the incident this way:

Both parachurch organizations and military personnel have to be aware of divisions between a soldier's official duties—even if they include providing religious services—and other activities. Blurring the lines can be considered an ethical breach. On July 27, the U.S. Department of Defense's inspector general released a report on the alleged misconduct of nine military personnel. Two of them were exonerated in the report. The officers, including four generals, appeared in a Christian Embassy fundraising video filmed in the Pentagon. The Department of Defense objected that their endorsement (in uniform, and without the permission of superiors) gave the "appearance of government sanction," violated regulations on wearing uniforms, and provided a selective benefit to the Christian Embassy. The Department of Defense has not decided what disciplinary action to take.
The report of the Defense Department's findings can be found in this report, "ALLEGED MISCONDUCT BY DOD OFFICIALS

This report and its findings should be put into perspective. The per capita percentage of evangelical Xtians in the military is higher than in the rest of the US population. As Dr. Leo Strauss (alias) writes:
We know that the current military demographically is isolated from ‘mainstream American society’ in many important ways. Only one is the vastly higher ratio of Evangelical, Pentacostal and other non-mainstream religious sects in the officer corps. There are many more. Culturally, and this is where Charlie was THE expert, the military remains separate and apart even from now-current Republican mores.

How will this closed off organization handle and digest defeat? As well as its stunning abuse at the hands of its CinC? (Note that the military and the intelligence communities, two legs of State Power in any basic political science analysis of any governming appartus have been grossly misused, bludgeoned, exhausted and radicalized by the regime. This is, as the Stiftung has long observed, “no accident”).
Again, Strauss goes on to (ironically?) raise some flags that I think should be given some serious and concerned thought. That is, what will the miliatry do if the Dems ever find the stones to have the military leave Iraq?

The potential here, if you haven't already guessed it, is that a military believing that it has a divine mission ot fulfill--perhaps a millenialist-style mission--might find the solution in a scenario familiar from "Seven Days in May." I know this sounds conspiracist and over-the top.

Yet, the rhetoric coming from the Xtian Right is filled with a rapturous angst. They truly believe that the US is headed to Hell unless something dramatic ultimate happens. In the past, these feelings and emotion were sustained by a belief in a heavenly/divine reckoning. What is distinctive about today's evangelicals is that they believe that they can and must do something to hurry that reckoning.

Also see Linker's book on the Theocons. Read more!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rumblings in the Ranks 6

Two years ago, I began a thread about dissent and growing frustration among the troops in Iraq. (Click the Label "ranks" below to see these articles.)

I wrote that there was increasing dissent among the grunts in Iraq, the ones actually dying. I linked to several articles, many of which never made it into the mainstream media.

Recent surveys, and a well-publicized op-ed by serving soldiers, support the view that these men and women are getting sick and tired of the hypocrisy and bad decisions of this country's leadership.

Think Progess reports the following:

Some say two wars are being fought here: the one the enlisted men see, and the one that senior officers and politicians want the world to see.

“I don’t see any progress. Just us getting killed,” said Spc. Yvenson Tertulien, one of those in the dining hall in Yousifiya, 10 miles south of Baghdad, as Bush’s speech aired last month. “I don’t want to be here anymore.” […]

The signs of frustration and of flagging morale are unmistakable, including blunt comments, online rants and the findings of surveys on military morale and suicides.

Sometimes the signs are to be found even in latrines. In the stalls at Baghdad’s Camp Liberty, someone had posted Army help cards listing “nine signs of suicide.” On one card, seven of the boxes had been checked.

I would just like to note that throughout history, revolutions have begun from the midst of soldiers.

My question is: how soon before these soldiers say enough is enough and begin refusing to fight? What the, George? Are you going to order that they be shot for disobeying orders? Read more!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mute Before Terror

[The following was written in response to something at I Cite. It now sounds so trite and overblown, too preachy maybe. The issue is one I have dealt with in poems, so perhaps I'll dig those out and print some lines rather than this tripe.]

I have always been drawn to the verse where Jesus says, "And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." That injustice, or muteness before injustice, is epitomized here, no? One MUST speak out, perhaps not knowing what to say or what to do. The gap of the not-knowing is filled with fear and trembling, I think.

I've done some study of the Holocaust and even did a class on it at a Church. I used "Shoah" to prompt discussion and as background, along with several documents from the Nazi archives in the Wiesenthal library. The effect of the film and its power is that it relies on personal testimony of victims and perpetrators and abettors. This is wrapped around a framework within which the narrator moves closer and closer to Auschwitz and its physical edifice.

I do not think that it's the quantitative accumulation of testimonies or even their contrasts that make the event of the film effective in its depiction of the horror and terror of the Shoah. It is the balancing of objective and subjective to create a framework within which the event can be seen in all its unknowable terror. This at the same time that you begin to understand not only what brought the horror alive but also gain an emotional stimulus to confront that injustice so as to make it the bedrock for further action.

But again, what is the response to such monstrosity if not a prayerful reflection that leads to a vigilant awareness to remain open to the potential for this to arise in whatever form it might take in the future?
Read more!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Laying It on the Line

If you haven't realized the truth of what this guy says, now is your chance to read and learn. There are insiders and outsiders. My own position is to follow Alastair Hannay's advice and try to be an outsider's outsider.

Anyway, read what Arthur has to say and take it to heart and mind:

It is important to recognize the two perspectives and the two kinds of analysis, and to keep them separate. Almost all of our public debate is conducted on the first level of analysis: what various political leaders say their goals and objectives are. In terms of those stated goals, their decisions in foreign policy are uniformly calamitous, and they lead to results that are the opposite of what they claim they hope to achieve. No public figure will admit the truth of the second kind of analysis and, I regret to note, most Americans are not the least bit interested in hearing such unpleasant truths. Nonetheless, they are truths: a huge swath of our economy is now devoted to preparing for war, making war, and cleaning up after war. To one degree or another, most members of Congress are beholden to the economic powers that drive the obsessive concern with war, and its cornucopia of economic opportunity. Both parties are enmeshed in the War State, and the current corporatist warmaking apparatus devours almost all those who go into public service. Until this intricate and complex system is altered, nothing else will change, except in comparatively superficial ways.
If you think you understand this, you might not. Read the article and decide for yourself. Read more!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tugendhat Article and Interview

I mentioned a while ago that I was reading Tugendhat's great lectures on analytical philosophy and another one on self-consciousness. Habermasian Reflections pointed me to an interview with Tugendhat, that I found interesting. I then found a link at the bottom of that to an article on religion by Tugendhat himself.

Tugendhat writes about religion and God:

As what we are dealing with is an anthropological need, I must start from a correspondingly fundamental fact. Such a fact seems to me to be the experience of contingency: people inevitably find that it does not depend on them whether they attain their goals or avoid their "ungoals". The extreme example of contingency is death. While other species live in their situation, humans live independently of their situation, related to the future. People strive for an "ever onward," an "ever more."

But this tendency is frustrated by death and contingency. The "more" seems empty, and what at first seems like sense can also be seen as senseless. People have therefore also sought another relationship to volition and time, one contrary to the first: pausing instead of striving for "ever more," abdicating the will instead of insisting. In my book "Egozentrizität und Mystik" (egocentricity and mysticism) I call this second, reflected relationship to time and volition mysticism. This word may certainly be understood in other ways. But what's important here is that this reflection, which is no longer directed at objectives but at things "in their entirety," represents a shift in natural human life, which nonetheless is not necessarily focussed on the supernatural.
I really think that Tugendhat is in a class by himself when it comes to philosphical scholars. He is not a great philosopher as are Wittgenstein and Habermas but he is a serious scholar whose work is deadly acute and relentlessly honest. The intellectual rigoro of his work is much more stringent than Habermas' who often seems to me to gloss over significant logical and grammatical problems. Read more!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lynch & Mulholland

[w/ apolgies to Adam Kotsko for using his website to try out these rather toilsome remarks. Needless to say they are collected from there and would serve as rough rough drafts for a review, were I ever to find time to do one]

Update: These remarks appeared before the NPR interview w/ Lynch and before I had a chance to read the interview w/ Lynch @ Village Voice.

Spoiler Alert: THe following remarks may deaden your first viewing of Mulholland.

Wittgenstein talks about a gestalt switch in language avquistion, and used it to explain the way that people understand language--that is, go from simple commands and context-determined response to being able to apply sentences in a meaningful way. Wittgenstein and the gestalt switch can help explain what some might require in a Lynch filnm by asking: "Okay, so this thing in the 'dream' part corresponds to this thing in the 'real' part -- but why is it shifted in just this way?" What is the shape of the transformation that the "real" events undergo?"

I am still trying to get a handle on what that might mean It is about the "shift" between dream and reality? It is the mechanism that makes this work or doesn't work? Or is it simply a matter of identifying a decoder manual to the movie?

In my own view, it does take several viewings to decode (interpret) Mulholland. I have my own theory about what the film's about, starting with the fact that it's dedicated to Keanu Reeves' wife (?) who was killed in a car accident. Is the scene at the beginning an allusion to that? Is the film about reincarnation in some way; ie,, Diana being the disembodied soul (atman) of Lynch's friend? Is the story an allegory about small-town girl goes to H-wood and loses her soul to H-wood corruption?

Again, these are simply outer wrappings of a mystery within a mystery. The "real" events are refracted through various dream characters and we find doppelgangers all over the place. For me, at least, the film begins show reality at the dinner where Naomi Watts' lover announces her marriage to the director. All the characters in her dream are at that party--even the Cowboy.

Having said this, of course, you have to consider the idea that it seems that Naomi Watts' character has already committed suicide--or so it seems--so the dream/reality could be some form of "loop" that her disembodied soul is condemned to repeat over and over again.

I don't know these fit into your questions about the "shift" from reality to dream, a question that I thought was related to one regarding "meaning." But perhaps I read too much into it.

Unlike other works involving dreams, it seems that Lynch has left clues in this movie that enable the viewer to indeed decode the movie as dream. In this way, it does not call up so much the viewer's deeper desires and unconscious mysteries as it does the goings inside the film. That is, much surrealist work was meant to enable people to tap into their hidden energies and ID, thereby unleashing it for a supposed freer form of life. Lynch doesn't do that in his films--perhaps because he recognizes that these forces or energies are potentially destructive of those small-town values he seems to respect.

That's the great thing about Lynch: he works on numerous levels, exploiting the ambiguities. His aesthetic is basically surrealist, which means he wants to jar us out of one way of seeing things into another way. The problems, as I see it, with the surrealist aesthetic is that it cannot sustain itself over time. It ultimatelt breaks down when confronted by what Kierkegaard would've called "actuality." This is the downfall of all aesthetic views that attempt to undermine conventional ethics with a more radical vision.

Lynch, I think, tries to make up for this weakness by putting much of his work into the context of everyday, hometown stories. At least on the surface, he appears to want to uphold those values while introducing the disruption of those values by various perverse, dare one say corruptive, forces at play under the surface. In some ways, I think you could see Lynch as a spokesman for wholesome values and a vision of America that harkens back to the 50s. Or is he merely dangling these fragments of a lost unified social ethos and putting the fragments into intriguing mesmerizing patterns?

It's that "renewed" vision that I think Lynch in a weird is commenting on in Mulholland. That is, there's a weird sense that you've lost something by seeing the mystery solved in the film. You'll never be able to see the film anew, so to speak, now that you've "solved" it. Instead, you'll spend time (at least I do) putting the pieces together again into a logical (I imagine he might say "serial" or "linear") fashion that ultimately destroys the heart of the vision. Read more!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Florida Muslim Home Set on Fire, Hate Messages Left

This is what the hysteria about terrorism breeds. Thank you GWB and Neocons.

Read more!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Do you have Asperger's?

I don't but scored 29, only 3 away from being a highly functional autist. What does that mean? Take the test and see what you are. Read more!

Film Review: Crash

I'm in the midst of a decent dialog on Lynch's films at In the meantime, I came across this review of David Cronenberg's film, Crash. I'm a fan of Cronenberg, finding Videodrome somewhat prophetic. His Fly was a bit overdone but a very good remake of a classic.

Crash is in a category by itself, however. It is not easy to watch at times and made me uncomforetable, which I think is a good sign since it enabled me to plumb some depths of eroticism and sexuality that I'd perhaps not want to look at.

Zembla here gives a decent review. I'd mention the aesthetic aspect about pornography. Like Lynch, it seems that Cronenberg finds something fascinating about the raw, grainy image of the porno picture. For me it's the sense of desolation and despair that come through those images meant to entice and allure.

Begun in the late 1800s, the cult of the grotesque and bizarre, is one that Cronenberg flirts with as does Lynch. I think the greatest 20th-21st c. master of this art form is Joel Peter Witkin. Witkin. His photos of carcasses, dead bodies, mutant and disfigured humans haunted me when I first saw them. In his highly stylized rendition of the fine line separating the passions--perhaps giving the truth to Freud's theory of thanatos and eros--he creates mesmerizing images that haunt you because you don't want to believe that that's really what you're seeing and when you can't deny that it is what you're seeing, you don't want to accept the fact that you're attracted to (seduced by) it.

Remind me to tell you the story of one of his models, whom I had the pleasure of meeting one time.

Update (Via Zembla) A review of Crash from a more academic standpoint. Read more!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Background to a Critique of Xtianism

The following was first posted at Kotsko's Weblog:

I have found in my own teaching experience on these issues that strictly evangelical students are very open to the critiques of religion--Xtianity in particular. Of course, that might be because I lay the basis for a common understanding using texts that are open to diverse interpretations, or that I do not try to impose a solution on them.

I think Adam has made some interesting comments and I hope to address them below. The first question I have though is whether Adam's criticism's cannot be seen as applying to the leadership of the right-wing evangelicals. In this sense, we might want to say that it's the leadership that tends to steer the church-goers into a more conservative direction, perhaps by skewing the information they use to propagate that message.

This latter point is something I have seen, again, in my experience with evangelical students. The information and readings I provide are distinctly different from the ones they get in sermons and bible studies. Yet, the readings I use are ostensibly "authentically" religious. That is, they call on a religious experiential base that students can align within their own lives. Yet the direction that that experiential hermeneutic is often distinctly different from the one that they hear at church.

Second, I wonder whether some liberal evangelicals try to differentiate the diverse liberal Christian traditions from the religious right. Even within evangelicalism, there is found a distinctly liberal wing. Jimmy Carter, Jim Wallis, and the Baptist Bill Moyers ate the more publicly visible members of this wing.

Then again, there's a third movement within Christian denominations that often gets the brunt of evangelical wrath: the liberation theologians. Using a Marxist hermeneutic, this movement was effectively squashed in Catholicism by John Paul II. Its effectiveness has declined in other places as well.

The success of evangelicalism worldwide is a phenomenon that the liberal Christians have found difficult to explain. From a sociological standpoint, the explanation often revolves around the emotional versus the intellectual approach of the evangelicals versus the more traditional denominations.

I don't think that this completely explains the phenomenon. There's something inherently conservative within fundamentalism that appeals to those who are trying to withstand the onslaught of modernism and secularism. Traditional Christian teaching provides that type of stable value system in a world that seems to many to verge on the abyss of chaos.

Be these introductory remarks as they may, I only mention them to Adam to perhaps help me clarify his argument. I imagine that the majority of people who fear the so-called thecon/neocon alliance often make the mistake of jumbling all Christians together, thereby making it more monolithic than it is.

Even given this context, however, I still wonder whether Adam's remarks stand up to scrutiny. I suggest that the evangelical movement--in its right-wing incarnation--is very strong. It has shown its political clout several times in recent elections. Its leaders have shown that they are open to advocating the most extreme social and cultural prescriptions for society's ills.

It is this fact that I think many on the left--and right by the way--find disturbing when they look at the influence of right-wing religion in US politics. Read more!

Put Off for Too Long

In some way, I have put off dealing directly with Xtian arguments from the Right for why they believe that their views should influence the political process in the US. I had a spat with Adam Kotsko over this issue on his Weblog, but I didn't carry those over to this blog. I will attempt to collect those remarks as prelude to debating the issues raised at Right Reason by Jeremy Pierce.

Pierce prefaces what he says will be an extended discussion of this issue with the following:

If I have the ability to influence my government by one vote for two senators, and every other Christian in my state has a similar ability, we can collectively influence the vote for those senatorial positions in a way that might have an impact. (This doesn't assume Christians will all vote for the same candidate, merely that if Christians do then they can have an impact.) If I have the ability and networking capability to set up a voter initiative and do what it takes to get it on the ballot and get people to vote for it, then I should seek to use such abilities. If I have the ability to fund-raise or to promote candidates, I should do so provided that my other responsibilities and means of loving my neighbors coordinate well enough with my doing such things. The same goes for running for office and serving in government or for accepting appointments from those in office who nominate Christians to serve. If it turns out to motivate the love of neighbor and to seek that goal best, consistent with balancing my other responsibilities, then that's something I ought to take very seriously.
Peirce says these views are shared by Augustine and that he's re-presenting them in a modern, evangelical framework. Perhaps that is so; but what are the reasons for doing so? The changed political context is so manifestly different between Augustine's milieu and our own. What could possibly legitimate a wholesale reappriation of such views from that context to the present?

Perhaps I can find time to discuss the possible answers to these questions in the coming days. Read more!

Plot To Take Over US

Has GW Bush accomplished what his grandfather couldn't?

Back in the 1930s a general by the name of Smedley Butler exposed a plot to overthrow the government of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and install a fascist oligarchy backed by some of America’s most powerful business leaders and conservatives. Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W., was among those linked to the plan.
It makes you wonder whether this stuff forms the background legacy for these children born into privileged families. Is this why so many feel entitled to freedoms others don't have? And/or why they believe they can take others' freedoms away?

For more information on this plot, see The Plot to Sieze [sic!] the White House by Jules Archer. Read more!

You're a Xtian Zionist if...

(via Crssings) With apologies to my elderly downstairs neighbor:

You might be a Christian Zionist . . .

1. If you think the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 and its expansion in 1967 (West Bank, Gaza, Golan and East Jerusalem) are part of God’s prophetic plan for the End Times and added proof of Scripture’s accuracy.
2. If you support the modern state of Israel largely for theological reasons.
3. If you believe America has been blessed by God because of its support for the modern state of Israel.
4. If you enthusiastically support the Israeli policy of building settlements throughout the West Bank and Gaza as their way of laying claim to more of their entitlement.
5. If you refer to the West Bank with the Biblical names “Judea and Samaria” rather than with phrases like “Occupied Territories.”
6. If you oppose the founding of a Palestinian state within the borders of Israel and think the U.S. and U.N. should not pressure Israel to trade "land for peace."
7. If you rejoice in the 6,000 or so Messianic Jewish Christians in Israel but give little or no thought to the 200,000 or so Palestinian Christians in Israel and the West Bank.
8. If you believe the Last Days will witness the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple and the resumption of animal sacrifice.
9. If you believe that one day Israel’s territory will extend, far beyond their present borders, reaching from the Nile to the Euphrates.
10. If you believe that trouble in the Middle East between Jews and Arabs is inevitable, and that regional conflict must continue until the return of Christ.
Read more!