Archive for January, 2009

When I officially left the Republican party around five or six years ago I felt a little bit guilty. I’d been a die-hard (R) for so long that it was both embarassing and disorienting. I left because I didn’t like the direction it was going. I didn’t like how Republicans in power were increasingly willing to compromise on their political ideals and philosophies in order to stay close to the gravy train and the trough.

As of today I no longer feel guilty, but I do feel extremely prescient.

I got an email today from something called the Don’t Go Movement. It sounds vaguely anti-war, but it’s something to do with Republicanism and opposition to Obama. The email was about how the stimulus plan was the first step on the dangerous slide into socialism. It spoke a lot about ideals and philosophies. The sad thing is, however, that those ideals and philosophies which seem so crucial to the people behind the email were the exact things the Republicans strayed away from in the last four years. When they were in power it was okay to ignore small-government, fiscally conservative policies, or to see them as nothing more than inconvenient road blocks to another four- or six-year term. Now, though, that they’re the odd men out it is all of a sudden okay to care again?

The way I see the current economic crisis it was at least thirty years in the making, born out of a combination of greed and easy credit. The lies came more easily as the money piled higher. It’s not an issue of Republican or Democrat–both parties were a party to building the house of cards which for so long was overpriced and so recently crumbled. But to the man in the street it looks very much like the Republicans caused it and the Democrats are fixing it. To that I say “’tain’t necessarily so”, but the appearance is the key in modern politics.

And the Republicans are looking baaaad right now. There is nothing they can say for this first six months that will save their reputation. If I were advising them on strategy I would say only this. Take a break until September. Let Obama and his government do what they are going to do. Right now is the honeymoon period and anything you say or do will be construed as sour grapes. But come September you’ll have enough information about the success and failure of this administration’s earliest actions that you’ll be able to mount a campaign to win back points in the war of public opinion.

Of course as a libertarian I would encourage them to keep looking bad in order to pave the way for the multi-party system we so desperately need.

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Killing Sermons

Last Tuesday one of my braver friends called me up to see how I was doing. Given the amount of drugs I take, a phone conversation with me can be a risky proposition.

I know her from church and so of course part of the conversation is always about how much I miss going to church on one level but can’t handle sitting in the uncomfortable pews, playing the human jack-in-the-box as we stand and sit for hymns and (worst of all) shaking myriad hands. I do listen to the sermon podcasts, though. Sheepishly we both admitted that sermons were our least favourite part of church.

And that makes me wonder…

Everywhere I turn in the Christian world, churches are lamenting the drop off in attendance. People, by and large, don’t go to church anymore. I wonder if this would change if we (the Church in general–not just my home church) offered services without sermons. If you think about it, the main reason for assembling as a body is for corporate worship. There’s a specialness about singing and praying in one accord that just can’t be matched. It meets a true need for the Christian and fuels us up to face the week of serpents which lies ahead.

It seems odd, then, to stop the prayer and praise portion in order to sit still and listen to twenty or thirty minutes of speaking. Don’t get me wrong–I have an excellent pastor who is a phenomenal speaker and gives wonderful sermons. His messages were one of the main attractions for us at our church. But what if we gave people the option to just come and sing and praise God with other believers?

I’m betting a lot more people would be there a lot more regularly.

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Yes, this was a comment. I made it its own post because I think it’s interesting and I wanted to and that way I feel like I’ve made more entries to my blog this week. Lazy sod.

Mithraism and Christianity both started up in popularity at about the same time (1st Century CE). Mithraism was a very upper-class religion, whereas Christianity was “the slave’s religion”. Under Mithraism the Taurobolia was a blood baptism rite. A bull was slaughtered and the initiate was baptisted in the blood. Oftentimes this happened as the bull was slaughtered over a floor with holes in it. The initiate stood in a chamber underneath and was covered in the warm blood as it rained down.

Obviously this was a costly practice–bulls are not cheap! Christianity’s water baptism was a more cost-effective rite (the water symbolising the same thing as the blood.)

Ironically, Christianity probably gained prominance because of feminism. Mithraism was a bit hostile toward women initiates–not allowing very many women to practice the faith. The disgruntled women then turned to Christianity–another mystery religion with many similarities.

Around the 4th Century CE, Mithraism became outlawed and many of its practices were subsumed into what is now Catholicism. As we’ve all seen, the Mithraic attitude toward women came with the package.

As for something Adam said above–this is important.

Protestants and Anabaptists are not the same thing. I know I say this over and over again, but as long as folks fail to understand this, the differences between the Baptism rites of the churches don’t make sense. Protestants generally adhere more closely to Catholic rites–which adhere more closely to Mithraic origins. Hence the “sprinkling” baptism–like the bull blood sprinkling down.

Anabaptists (those who believe in adult baptism) use dunking. They are adamant about being seperate from Catholic rites entirely–in fact for many centuries the Anabaptists had a great anti-Catholic prejudice. The dunking practice is a) a disavowal of the Catholic sprinkling/infant baptism/christening and b)an attempt to return to the “early church” by baptising the way Jesus was baptised in the river.

Baptism throughout history has been a key component of mystery religions. While on the surface it appears similar to the practice of Mikvah (they both involve water) it is actually not at all derived from Mikvot rites. The purposes of Mikvot are different and not Mystical in origin. It is most likely that John the Baptist–as a practitioner of a mystical subset of Judaism–incorporated the rite of immersion baptism after study of other Mystery religions. Or–if you choose to believe–upon divine revelation during his purification rite in the desert. As a Mystical Christian I tend to believe the latter.

Now if you will excuse me I am going to bribe my dog to come in so I can lie back down.

The collected works of Roger Beck I have personally read whatever I can get my hands on of his.

Origins of Mithraic Mysteries by David Ulansey

(Full text available online–not under copyright. Original copyright 1929)

The Gnostic Bible

A Brief History Of Christian Baptism
(I don’t care for this source, as it is brief and very Christocentric. It doesn’t take much comparative study into account and is clearly a primer for Christians. This is fine if you just want to know the basics, but for deeper information there needs to be much deeper reading, I think.

I’m going through my notes and papers to find other sources that aren’t so easily googled.

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[Excuse any incoherence. I’m trying to write something while I wait for the dog to complete his bodily functions in the backyard. This is tough as I’m in the process of dying–or at least it feels that way.]

On Tuesday the rheumatologist upped my weekly dose of Methotrexate. I was already fighting some flu-type thing, so for the past two days I’ve been enjoying a sea of nausea, body aches, joint aches and extreme drowsiness. They say this is supposed to make me feel better. I actually do believe them, as when I’m not having side effects I can do things like knitting, walking up and down stairs, cooking and other activities once thought gone forever. I have to tell myself that a lot on days like today.

So last night we watched Lost. It was FUN again. That’s the show I remember! There were answers and intrigue and black humour. It was awesome and I’m so glad to have it back. I don’t even have anything bad to say about it. (How’s that for a welcome change?)

I did realise, though, that Ben looks a little bit like my Rheumatologist. It’s funny, because the doctor is this really mild-mannered science-y type of guy. He’s really nice and very compassionate. A polar opposite of Benjamin Linus, yet they do resemble one another.

I’ve been trying to find a picture of my doctor to show you but since there’s a doctor who shares his name that is friends with President Obama, well, I don’t have the patience to wade through that many pages of Google Images to find my doctor. You’ll have to trust me on this.

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1. I’m not ready to concede that Pith In The Wind is the new local center around which blogs can rally, a la NiT.   I’m sorry, but my memory (for some things) is long, and I don’t forget the snide remarks and belittling attitude the Scene had toward bloggers back when their paper had money and readers who weren’t online.   Now that they’ve seen a marked decrease in both they are coming late to the party.    I’ve checked.   The staff behind the redesigned bits are largely the same folks who were there before making the with the snide.

2.  Battlestar Galacatica.  What was that?  I’m not yet ready to just write off Earth.  In fact, I’m mighty pissed off about the whole thing.  The whole point of the show was that they were striving for something better.  In this case, a permanent home on Earth.   For them to get to Earth and have it be nonviable within an hour is just…well, it makes me not give a crap about the show from here on out.   And I’m certainly not wasting the time and energy to tune into the Caprica show.

3.  Can we call a moratorium on spelling criticism on the blogs.   Unless you’re writing specifically about a grammatical or syntactical issue a spelling criticism is the most out of left field, unconstructive thing you can leave behind.   I mention this because in the middle of Friday’s tense, intense exchange about deep ideas, multi-millenial major religions, writing styles and responsibility to one’s audience, somebody dropped in and pointed out that I can’t spell “semitic”.  Thanks.  That was so on point.   I also can’t spell seperate, Teusday, and a few other words I have problems with.  In case you hadn’t yet cottoned on, all my spelling pitfalls involve the letter “e”.   I,  with my Indiana accent, tend to write as I speak to myself in my head.  Some of the words invariably come out on page the way they “sound” to me in my head as I write them.   Yes, I could learn.  But, frankly, when I’ve got major thoughts spilling out everywhere, going back and fixing a spelling error is–to me–like making the beds before leaving a burning house.   It’s largely pointless, ruins the free flow of things and is really, in the main, too anal for words.

But thanks for playing.

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I need to start this post with a confession, because it might (partially) enlighten everyone–about me.

My father was adopted. One summer I was at his mother’s house for an afternoon and she took it upon herself to tell me about my natural birth grandparents. The tricky part is that what I remember her saying isn’t the actual truth. She either told me incorrect information OR I ‘misheard’ her. Either way, I left her house that weekend thinking I was half Jewish.

I laboured under that misunderstanding well into my twenties. After her death my father and his (both genetic and adopted) brother decided to find their birth family. Once we were up against a large group of people–all of whom swore they were of Welsh decent, some of whom were Presbyterian ministers–I realised I was wrong.

There went years of study into Judaica. There went my Hebrew lessons, the classes I had with a Rabbi in college. All of it.

Except for one thing. I remain stubbornly close to Judaism and Judaic causes. Even though I had no blood ties to the faith, I’m still enamoured of its traditions and practices. There’s a stubborn and elegant beauty about Judaism which no other religion can claim. Threads of bright meaning are woven into every action–small and large. The poetry inside even the most simple ritual can break your heart. It’s a religion worth dying for. And many have.

To this day I am fiercely protective of Judaism, even though I’ve stayed with my original Christian faith.

It angers me how much anti-Semetic anti-Judaic attitude is pervasive in the Christian church. I know what we believe and how we believe it fits historically into the Jewish religion.

That doesn’t mean we need to go around saying things that imply that the Jews are dullards who just haven’t cottoned on yet.

That’s what I took from large portions of this post over at Slarti’s place. He’s talking about having a Bar Mitzvah for his 13-year-old son. (How that would be accomplished without the boy being called to the front of the congregation to read a portion of Torah in perfect Hebrew I do not know.) I think, basically, he wants a coming-of-age ceremony and doesn’t like some of the others out there. Hey, I read Roots and I wouldn’t want my son to go through that particular right of passage. Of all of the male “today you are a man” ceremonies, the Judaic one is certainly the best. Possibly because it involves a test of wits and devotion–things I personally prize more than brawn and athleticism.

But Slarti, in his attempt to describe what he wants for his son does something I see over and over again in the Church.


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An Admission

[Here’s one of the “eaten” posts. I decided to rework the other two.]

So, my husband was out of town all weekend. That was one of the things I didn’t like to tell the Internet beforehand. Because nothing says “rape and rob me” like a disabled woman posting that she’s alone in the house. Although, come to think of it, the fact that I’m a “gun nut” should be in my favour. Until you realise that my arthritis is so bad I can’t pull a trigger. I wonder if faced with the high-adrenaline “he’s going to rape me” situation I would pull the trigger anyway. I would definitely pull the trigger if my dog was threatened in any way. What a sad commentary that I view a threat to my dog as worse than a threat to my person. But I do.

Anyway, on to the admission. Since I was alone all weekend with my brand new TiVo I decided to take Netflix Watch Instantly (R) (TM) for a spin. “Instantly” in this case is a bit of a canard, what with the fact that I often had to wait several minutes for something to “receive”. I’m now intimate friends with the “Receiving….” progress bar. Well, once I finally Received them, I watched most of the episodes in Season One of 30 Rock. I’ve heard nothing but good things about that show and never Season Passed it. I love Tina Fey but my strong dislike of Alec Baldwin sorta trumps that. However my bored-at-home-aloneness trumped even my dislike for Alec “I loathe my own offspring. She’s probably a Secret Republican” Baldwin, so watch I finally did.

The admission? I started to say I didn’t like the show but on further reflection I think it’s just that I don’t like the show in large chunks. A half-hour here and there is fine and funny enough. But there’s so much bitterness and mean-spiritedness underneath the funny that I can’t take it in large doses. Which is odd, considering the fact that I love nothing more than to gorge on Arrested Development marathons–and those are not all sunshine and sweetness.

I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s just something about 30 Rock that makes it not-fun-in-large-doses. I feel bad because I think I’ve just sacrificed whatever hipness I had. Oh well. Guess I’ll go play with my dog.

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I’ve written three posts this week. I kept wondering why NO ONE commented. I usually get at least one comment. (Thanks, Dolphin and nm. ;-p) Especially when I’m talking about things like guns and rape and dogs and Jesus.

So I went to my blog today. None of those posts are there. I wonder what happened to them.

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I wasn’t “feeling” a good Feel Good Friday song today. I’m not in a music mood. That’s one thing that trips me out as I get older. I don’t always have music on the way I used to. Sometimes, now, it gives me a bit of a headache and I just have to have some quiet.

I think my younger self is rolling over in her teen years to think that we don’t any longer have to have music at every turn.

In a way, though, it’s better because the music has more impact when I do engage. Instead of being constant in the background it gets spotlit in my mind and washes over me completely. I think that’s really how music should be, and I wonder sometimes if the easy access to music that we enjoy sometimes takes away from the magic.

Today is one of those days I hate blogging because I’ve got all of these things going on behind the scenes that I can’t make public over the internet. If I kept an old-fashioned journal (which I no longer do) I’d write it in there. But I don’t, so I just blog and try to blog around the sensitive stuff. Then again, I do have people I can email and say “what would you do in this circumstance, people?” That’s a good side to blogging. You meet people who can serve as wise counsel.

All that aside I must say that I do feel good this Friday. For the past week and a half I’ve been able to knit again! That’s a huge milestone–in some ways it’s bigger even than being able to walk down the stairs. So I’m happy beyond happy about that.

It is a good Friday indeed.

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In this English-Only discussion I can’t believe we’re actually having to have again I’ve followed all sorts of arguments for and against. The only one “for” that makes any sense to me is that people wish to forestall a Quebec-style bill where companies are forced to accomodate multiple languages down the road. There are any number of horror stories coming out of Quebec where small businesses have had to shut down because they couldn’t afford an interpreter or couldn’t afford to pay to change the labels on their products to reflect the French-AND-English-MUST-be-on-everything laws.

If we are ever faced with such a law (French and Spanish MUST be on EVERYTHING), I will fight it with every ounce of energy I have in my body. Granted, that’s not much these days, but it’s something. I wholly dislike one group of citizens deciding what is proper conduct for everyone. Unless we’re talking about murder or rape or arson or other horrifying Malum en Se crimes against humanity I’d just as soon let everyone go about his or her business in the way that makes them the happiest and most productive citizens possible.

I’ve heard a lot of people on the “English-Only Is DUMB!!!” side ramble a bit about how we Americans are so dumb and stupid that we only know one language and that ignorance is WHY we have to have such bills. No argument makes me angrier, and I have to tell you that on more than one occasion I was tempted to support the English-Only bill just to say a loud “Up Yours” to that particular train of thought.

Here’s the thing. A large number of Americans speak only one language. Many Europeans speak multiple languages. I get that it can make you feel inferior, but it’s not about stupidity. It’s about Geography. In most of the United States you have to drive for several hours before reaching a place where another language is predominant. In most of Europe you have to drive like two hours before you cross into “what the hell are they saying?” territory.

Trust me. If everyone in Tennessee had to speak Latin in order to do business in Atlanta, I would guess that many of us would sound like Roman senators. If everyone in Indiana had to speak French to do business in Michigan, well, voulez-vous couche avec moi? (Yeah, I know I misspelled that. I haven’t had French since Jr. High and I hate the remake of that song.)

At one point I was very conversant in Spanish and someone conversant in German and French. I can still read Spanish and Latin. I still know that Krankenschwester means Nurse. But I’ve not hung out with anyone who speaks any of those languages in a very long time so I’ve lost them.

I’m excited for the kids who are learning Spanish now. They may not lose it the way I did. They’ve got people nearby to bust out some chatter occasionally.

We’re not stupid. We’re just suffering one of the larger drawbacks of the whole Sea-to-Shining-Sea thing. And if you want to win people over to the Vote No On English-Only side, I suggest you stay away from the “you’re stupid” argument. It didn’t work on my brother when he was five and it won’t work on grown folks any better.

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