Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« Rice claims Bush adminstration "at least as aggressive" on terror as Clinton pre-9/11 | Main | No, Senator Reid, we don't want to torture »

September 26, 2006

Recommended reading

Some links to keep you entertained while I work on my follow-up post about Mel Sembler Lieberman fundraiser and proprietor of the Abu Ghraib of rehab.

Alon Levy reviews Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism.

Jennifer Ouellette body image, clothes that fit, and sizes less than 0.

Lizardbreath does a little diffident white person race-blogging. What do you do when you don't want to pretend you're ethnically unmarked, but you don't want to sound like George Allen?

Update: Amanda and Shakes on Bush's rape-torture loophole.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c61e653ef00d834eb6c2069e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Recommended reading:

Comments

Michelle Goldberg's book is fantastic. She has been on CSPAN at least twice and numerous guest spots on talk radio and the like. I've listened to several on iTunes.

On the Christian Nationalism issue, I think Goldberg understates the danger somewhat. There are strong defenses in the constitution against the rise of religious authoritarianism in the government, but given a sufficiently acute crisis they could easily be bypassed. A concrete worst-case scenario would be something like an attack on Iran that expanded to consume all of what's left of US military reserve strength[*] followed by China dumping their US treasuries (which is exactly what I'd do in China's position). We'd have economic devastation and a major war with religious overtones. An ideal situation for someone to make some 'adjustments' to the constitution.

[*] reserve strength here refers to the military strength currently standing ready in Korea, Japan, Europe, and elsewhere on guard against regional threats.

You're right, Togolosh, hence my comment that the book is optimistic.

But either way, it's a really good introduction into the ideology of Dominionism - the motive, so to speak.

About the race-blogging thing, I don't think developing a non-racist white identity is possible. It's far more productive to forego identities completely.

On the minimum weight standard for models, I don't see why people are wringing their hands about it. It's a worker safety regulation that was enacted after a model died from starvation. We have tons of limits on what an employer can ask of an employee in terms of putting themselves in physical danger; this regulation is there to make sure employers can't require employees to quit eating and put themselves in danger.

If the goal is to protect models' health, is weight the best indicator to use? BMI is just a crude approximation of health in both directions; there exist plenty of more accurate indicators of obesity, but are there any similar indicators of anorexia?

The big problem with regulation is how you deal with the .01% of the population that's naturally as thin as fashion models. Or the 5% of the population who can maintain a fashion-model degree of underweight without being seriously underweight relative to their natural setpoint. (Numbers pulled out of my lower-to-"normal"-weight ass, of course.)

I don't think there are any indicators of self-imposed starvation that I'd like regulators to investigate. Basically, the "gold standard" of being severely underweight for a woman, relative to her individual physiology, is failing to menstruate for at least 3 months. But anorexia isn't the only reason why someone might fall into that category.

For a god review of this and other books from the perspective of those who know try:

http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0607/articles/douthat.html

I have been a member (in good standing) of the “Religious Right “ for my entire adult life. I still don’t know what a “Dominionist” is, and am hard pressed to believe this country was a “theocracy” circa 1950.

“Michelle Goldberg’s Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism is marginally less ridiculous than this, perhaps because Goldberg, a reporter for Salon, actually spent some time among the believers and even found herself liking them. “I was treated with remarkable openness and hospitality,” she notes, and speaks with sympathy of the Christian nationalists’ eagerness “to engage in passionate discussion about the meaning of life, and about how we understand morality and reality.” But within a page, she’s quoting Hannah Arendt on the origins of totalitarianism and warning balefully that “individual decency can dissolve when groups are mobilized against diabolized enemies.”
Goldberg’s approach, like that of all the anti-theocrat authors, is to assume that the most extreme manifestation of religious conservatism must, by definition, be its most authentic expression. So she analyzes contemporary evangelicalism without once mentioning Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, or any other prominent pop theologian, and her description of mega-churches—at once “temples of religious nationalism” and “tightly organized right-wing political machines”—suggests a fairly thin acquaintance with the variegated world of entrepreneurial Protestantism. The continuum of conservative Christian belief, in her telling, runs from Rushdoony on the Right to D. James Kennedy on the Left. And the taint of theocracy is everywhere, infecting everyone from Timothy McVeigh (a potential harbinger of “theocratic authoritarianism,” despite his distinct lack of Christian beliefs) to Marvin Olasky (who “seems to be drawn to totalitarian ideologies”).”

I'm quite certain I'll be linking to your follow-up Sembler post, will try to check back periodically today to assure freshness. It's really of great significance to me, and everything that the DFAF does is adverse to everything I am doing. I believe that if we can end cannabis prohibition we can end war.

You could say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

I still don’t know what a “Dominionist” is, and am hard pressed to believe this country was a “theocracy” circa 1950.

Who's claiming the US was a theocracy circa 1950?

There are several inequivalent definitions of Dominionism. The popular one is simply a term for organized political Christianity. Christianity : Dominionism :: Islam : Islamism. Like Islamism, Dominionism is a very conservative movement that seeks to radically change the legal system according to its religion's principles, and that is hostile to civil rights and social change. Like Islamism, Dominionism has a violent fringe, although unlike Jihadism, the militia movement is fairly disorganized.

There's another definition, which is based mostly on Christian theology and on the concept that "It's dominion we're after."

Goldberg’s approach, like that of all the anti-theocrat authors, is to assume that the most extreme manifestation of religious conservatism must, by definition, be its most authentic expression.

Crap. Her approach is to look at the extreme religious conservative movement. What the Sojourners do is outside the scope of her book. The Dominionist movement is large and threatening enough as it is to be the subject of many critical books.

"What do you do when you don't want to pretend you're ethnically unmarked, but you don't want to sound like George Allen? "

When I graduated to the 32-color box of Crayola crayons, I stopped using orange to draw people and started using peach (I'm sure the rich kids, with their 128-color boxes had evrything from "Norwegian Shut-in" to "Greek Fisherman", the bastards!). I propose we non-racist white people who are proud (yet not overly so) of our caucasianality, refer to ourselves as "Just Peachy".

Nobody will confuse this with a superiority complex. No Neo-nazi would be caught dead talking this way. It is also evocative of what liberal whiteness is all about - it's just peachy!

Alon Levy

“Who's claiming the US was a theocracy circa 1950?”

Most of what the religious right is demanding: A return to federalism and democracy concerning abortion, traditional sexual mores, even prayer in school were all mainstream practice circa 1950-60’s America. The scare of “theocracy” seems to obscure the point that most of what is advocated is neither new nor radical to American culture. To the contrary it is cultural leftist “experiments” (like ss “m”) that represent the political extreme.

It is in this vein that I believe talk of “dominionism” is simply a sop to the cultural left. Rather than confront the mainstream reaction to the cultural revolution of the late 60”s and 70”s, leftists would rather pretend that they are under eminent threat from some faux “theocracy” that “seeks to radically change the legal system according to its religion's principles, and that is hostile to civil rights and social change.”
The truth is seems is much harder to except, because it comes not in the guise of “Dominionists” but John Roberts & Samuel Alito.

No, that's what the meekest Religious Rightists want. Merely wanting to go back to the period of back-alley abortions, legalized discrimination against homosexuals and women, and no evolution in schools is considered moderate in the Dominionist movement. Rushdoony supports executing gays; James Kennedy's organization circulated a pamphlet saying explicitly, "It is Dominion we want, not just equal rights"; Jerry Falwell blamed secularists for 9/11.

It doesn't matter the US wasn't totalitarian in 1950. 1950s America : Dominionists :: 1870s Germany : Nazis. Hitler talked up Bismarck, glorified his rule, and blamed the liberals and socialists for corrupting Germany after the Great War; by your argument, he wasn't really totalitarian, since Germany wasn't totalitarian in the 1870s.


“No, that's what the meekest Religious Rightists want.”

Read – Mainstream social conservatives

“Merely wanting to go back to the period of back-alley abortions,”

Seems unlikely under what is being advocated. A reversal of Roe would simply put the question to State legislatures. Obviously some area’s of the Country would have an obsolute right and others no right to Abortion, with most places limiting it according to trimester, development or circumstance. Its more lickly that women would travel to a pro-abortion state, and that groups like NARAL would help poor women procure legal abortions there than any return of “back –ally abortionists”.

“ legalized discrimination against homosexuals and women”,

- It depends on the level of discrimination. If you mean a non-protected civil rights status than that’s already the case. The failure of the ERA and gay rights movement to secure victories legislatively has allowed democratic movements to best draw the line of “discrimination” were the people find reasonable distinctions.

“and no evolution in schools”
I’m not aware of any movement that would prevent local school boards from not making their own decisions. Certainly sound science is preferred to nothing at all. I hardly think we are under assault from some widespread movement that wants to force creationism on our students.

“ is considered moderate in the Dominionist movement. Rushdoony supports executing gays; James Kennedy's organization circulated a pamphlet saying explicitly, "It is Dominion we want, not just equal rights";”

I’m not aware of either of these people. You may find it illuminating to delve into the fringe of a fringe and then scare yourself silly, but I don’t believe you have anything to fear in reality. I much enjoy the same thing, except when I do so I’m not reading the screeds of a backwoods preacher but rather law review articles and scholarly journals published by some of the most “respected” university presses. (lets just say the lefts extremists are “well placed”)

“Jerry Falwell blamed secularists for 9/11.”

It common practice (and I believe advisable) to look inward at the failing’s of one’s own society when tragedy befalls it. Moments of somber reflection require introspection least they result in a panicked lashing out.

“It doesn't matter the US wasn't totalitarian in 1950. 1950s America : Dominionists :: 1870s Germany : Nazis. Hitler talked up Bismarck, glorified his rule, and blamed the liberals and socialists for corrupting Germany after the Great War; by your argument, he wasn't really totalitarian, since Germany wasn't totalitarian in the 1870s.”

Well, apparently you live under the fear of the dark night of fascism descending. If it helps Aleve your paranoia I can attest that I have spent my entire lifetime as a cultural conservative activist and have never heard of “Dominionism” nor am I aware of any plans to exert totalitarian control and start executing gays. The largest mass movement among social conservatives seems to be the pro-life movement. For 30 year’s it has marched on Washington in the bitter cold to little press coverage. Each year it gets younger and larger. It’s renowned as one of the best organized, most peaceful protest movements in Washington history. In the end they seem to want a chance to exercise democratic self rule.

“The popular one is simply a term for organized political Christianity. Christianity : Dominionism :: Islam : Islamism. Like Islamism, Dominionism is a very conservative movement that seeks to radically change the legal system according to its religion's principles, and that is hostile to civil rights and social change. Like Islamism, Dominionism has a violent fringe, although unlike Jihadism, the militia movement is fairly disorganized.”

Yesterday's moral equivalency meant that West was just as bad as Communism. Today's is that both Christianity and Islam are the creeds of violent wackos.

After all, who can forget the beheading Methodists, the angry riots by surging Catholic mobs enraged over "Piss Christ", the planes flown into mosques by members of the Nebraska Missionary Alliance, the Bible Church members who bombed the disco in Bali, the bomb in the London Underground set off by crazed Lutherans from Lake Wobegon, and the bombs in Spain courtesy of the Billy Graham organization.

If you've seen one Abrahamic religion, you've seen 'em all.

Fitz, tell me you didn't just justify Falwell's comment that secularists are responsible to 9/11.

Alon Levy

Well I’ll Let Mr. Falwell speak for himself.

“On the broadcast of the Christian television program "The 700 Club," Falwell made the following statement:
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"
Falwell, pastor of the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, viewed the attacks as God's judgment on America for "throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked."
But in a phone call to CNN, Falwell said that only the hijackers and terrorists were responsible for the deadly attacks.
"I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says 'living by God's principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame,'" he said.
Falwell said he believes the ACLU and other organizations "which have attempted to secularize America, have removed our nation from its relationship with Christ on which it was founded."
"I therefore believe that that created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812," he said.”


I can say that this line of thinking about Gods providence is not unusual. I myself proscribe to a view that looks to our own failings as a Nation (at home & abroad) when disaster strikes. Such impulses should always encourage self-criticism and repentance. All major religion traditions have such an outlook. Be it a Volcano or a bad year’s harvest, Religion compels us to look to improve ourselves before we blame external forces. Ultimately this level of self-criticism helps encourage a healthy culture. I’m sure you have difficulty subscribing to such a worldview, but that hardly makes in foreign to human experience.

Are you really going to ignore the rest of my critique?

"Many people are concerned with children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is the greatest destroyer of peace today- abortion which brings people to such blindness."

"Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion"

"I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself."

"And if we can accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa was a fanatic who I must count among the Dominionists. She never helped anyone; all she did was found a hospital where people could go die, and where the staff never offered anesthetics of any sort, since she viewed pain and suffering as positive things.

Are you really going to ignore the rest of my critique?

I wrote an entire post refuting it (well, not the "court-mandated desegregation is bad" part).

Hello Lindsay and all,

Why do religious leaders and followers so often participate in and support blatant evil?

The time is long past to stop focusing on symptoms and myriad details and finally seek lasting solutions. Until we address the core causes of the millennia of struggle and suffering that have bedeviled humanity, these repeating cycles of evil will never end.

History is replete with examples of religious leaders and followers advocating, supporting, and participating in blatant evil. Regardless of attempts to shift or deny blame, history clearly records the widespread crimes of Christianity. Whether we're talking about the abominations of the Inquisition, Crusades, the greed and genocide of colonizers, slavery in the Americas, or the Bush administration's recent deeds and results, Christianity has always spawned great evil. The deeds of many Muslims and the state of Israel are also prime examples.

The paradox of adherents who speak of peace and good deeds contrasted with leaders and willing cohorts knowingly using religion for evil keeps the cycle of violence spinning through time. Why does religion seem to represent good while always serving as a constant source of deception, conflict, and the chosen tool of great deceivers? The answer is simple. The combination of faith and religion is a strong delusion purposely designed to affect one's ability to reason clearly. Regardless of the current pope's duplicitous talk about reason, faith and religion are the opposite of truth, wisdom, and justice and completely incompatible with logic.

Religion, like politics and money, creates a spiritual, conceptual, and karmic endless loop. By their very nature, they always create opponents and losers which leads to a never ending cycle of losers striving to become winners again, ad infinitum. This purposeful logic trap always creates myriad sources of conflict and injustice, regardless of often-stated ideals, which are always diluted by ignorance and delusion. The only way to stop the cycle is to convert or kill off all opponents or to end the systems and concepts that drive it.

Think it through, would the Creator of all knowledge and wisdom insist that you remain ignorant by simply believing what you have been told by obviously duplicitous religious founders and leaders? Would a compassionate Creator want you to participate in a system that guarantees injustice and suffering to your fellow souls? Isn’t it far more likely that religion is a tool of greedy men seeking to profit from the ignorance of followers and the strife it constantly foments? When you mix religion with the equally destructive delusions of money and politics, injustice, chaos, and the profits they generate are guaranteed.

Read More...

...and here...

Peace…

Seven Star Hand, you might like to take a look at something my friend wrote, and I would tell you on your own blog but I could not seem to be able to leave a comment there.

Lindsay, sorry for putting this where it might not otherwise be welcome. It is one person's metaphor, and that is all anything religious is. Each of us have our own, and each of us should respect that others have their own, even if we are reading from the same hymnal. We all think thoughts and in thinking we perceive differently.

The conservative mindset is the idea that everyone else has to share your own metaphor down to the very details of the color of the paint on the car, so to speak. It is to say that you cannot think for yourself but must accept the "wisdom" that was given to you, only it is not wisdom unless it is earned by your own experience.

Those words, those scriptures, in whatever language they were written, in whatever time and place, they were written by people, and they are not God's own words unmediated by human hand. There is no arguing this point, and the conservatives who may be confused and thinking differently because they were taught otherwise and never questioned it, cannot be persuaded by logic until and unless they open their minds to reality.

This is one of the reasons I am mainly focused to ending the prohibition of cannabis, because what cannabis does is awaken the inner self, the God-connected active thinking soul, whatever you choose to call it or believe in. I am not selling you on what I believe but that cannabis has the effect of bringing people into fuller awareness of their surroundings and independent of their brainwashing.

That is why cannabis is illegal and that is why Mel Sembler and his cohorts are opposing us everywhere and that is two of the major sides involved in this -- the prohibitionists versus the cannabists. They fear us more than anyone, because we speak for cannabis and not merely against the harms that are alleged to be due to it.

You have seen the fruit of the prohibitionist tree, you have seen the abuse visited upon the children, and the lives destroyed. You have seen the hypocrisy and immorality of these people. Judge only in the sense of choosing, when you consider the tree.

As Led Zeppelin said, there are two paths you can go by, and there is always time to change the road you are on.

I have posted that last comment on my own blog so that discussion can take place there if it is an unwelcome topic here.

"Mother Teresa was a fanatic who I must count among the Dominionists. She never helped anyone; all she did was found a hospital where people could go die, and where the staff never offered anesthetics of any sort, since she viewed pain and suffering as positive things."

Read: The depth of Avon Levy’s Ignorance …

Noble Peace prize winner Mother Teresa of Calcutta

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1979/teresa-bio.html

(excerpt)

{At the age of eighteen she left her parental home in Skopje and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India. After a few months' training in Dublin she was sent to India, where on May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun. From 1931 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta, but the suffering and poverty she glimpsed outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her that in 1948 she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. Although she had no funds, she depended on Divine Providence, and started an open-air school for slum children. Soon she was joined by voluntary helpers, and financial support was also forthcoming. This made it possible for her to extend the scope of her work.
On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, "The Missionaries of Charity", whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after. The Missionaries of Charity throughout the world are aided and assisted by Co-Workers who became an official International Association on March 29, 1969. By the 1990s there were over one million Co-Workers in more than 40 countries. Along with the Co-Workers, the lay Missionaries of Charity try to follow Mother Teresa's spirit and charism in their families.
The Society of Missionaries has spread all over the world, including the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries. They provide effective help to the poorest of the poor in a number of countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and they undertake relief work in the wake of natural catastrophes such as floods, epidemics, and famine, and for refugees. The order also has houses in North America, Europe and Australia, where they take care of the shut-ins, alcoholics, homeless, and AIDS sufferers.}

We need more “Dominionists” like her in this world.

I don’t know what to make of Steven Star Hands random broad side of ‘religion’ as a whole, and source of eternal human suffering.

(However) His Links reveal statements like this dandy…

“The Vatican and its secret society cohorts rule Planet Earth through hidden control of all money, politics, and religion”

This seems to be the extent of his critique.
Alon Levy’s cop out was done while claiming "court-mandated desegregation is bad"????? a topic not discussed or at issue (is this the George Allen strategy?)

Suffice to say – A little more Christian charity with your opponents, lowering the paranoia level three notches, listening to what their real grievances are, and understanding their views are (as they are) Rather than creating a straw-man fiction to cling too, will help the left (at the least) better persuade such voters.
Once again I recommend this excellent review of Books like Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism

http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0607/articles/douthat.html

Hey if you're doing a followup on Lieberman, please do a followup on how he's leading Ned Lamont by ten points in the latest poll.

Democracy in action! The people of Connecticut will have the last word!

The comments to this entry are closed.