Friday, July 28, 2006

Mind Numbing Reiteration

The recent escalation of hostilities between the Israelis, Hezbollah, and the Palestinians in Gaza is certainly disturbing. As the world is a relative tinder box, it wouldn't take much to spark a wider conflagration, though it will not be the raptile's long awaited battle at Armegeddon. It will just be messy, costly, and deadly.

My family and I watched a DVD of Steven Spielburg's Munich a few nights ago. While I found the film difficult to follow and don't consider it to be one of Spielburg's better efforts, it did serve to remind me that the ongoing and violent dispute between the Israelis and about everyone else in the region of the middle east is not new. For them it is all about revenge. The struggle for control of this area predates Pope Urban II's first crusade to regain christian control of the holy land in 1095. How much blood has been shed over this parched, forbidding land during the interim? Why can't they all just get along?

I have, and will likely continue, to debate and discuss issues pertaining to current politics, separation of church and state, etc., but the issue most central to the origins of this blog is my opposition to a belief in god and religion in general. As I have stated, the most disturbing development in this regard is the effort of a number of conservative, evangelistic, fundamental, pentecostal and charismatic christians working more or less in concert to form a christian theocracy in this country which would supercede the American Constitution and set up rule by biblical law. This is deadly, serious stuff.

As noted in my most recent post and as reported by various news media, a number of theocracy proponents, who are also some of those who believe in the imminent rapture and the return of christ, are actually celebratory about the violence in Israel and Lebanon. They believe that death and suffering here on earth is of little importance. Rather, the only matter worthy of attention is being properly prepared for the hereafter. Of course, I see this view as unfathomably ludicrous, not to mention painfully inhumane.

This same idiocy has harkened the end of a number of high, generally imperialist civilizations throughout history. The Holy Roman Empire, 18th century Spain, the Netherlands and most recently, the British Empire were brought assunder during periods of religious fervor, prosetylizing and intolerance. The dispensationalists, who believe that end times are at hand, have a strong voice in the current federal administration, congress, and increasingly in the federal courts, pose a significant danger to the future welfare of not only this country, but the world at large as well, owing to the great financial, political and military power they wield. Our country is not being led by thoughtful people of reason, but rather by those guided by faith and religious inspiration. History is repeating itself. The citizenry of each of those fallen empires believed that they were "the chosen" of god, that they were exceptional. They believed that it was their charge to deliver the message of jesus christ throughout the world. Each believed that they were living in the most desparate of times, that the end of the world was at hand. In each and every case, they were, of course, wrong. While it is true that their respective worlds did change drastically, the "end time" they anticipated did not achieve.

Now we have thousands of bible thumping evangelists, and hundreds of politicians, primarily members of this country's first religious party, the republicans, making the same dire predictions. It is relatively easy to convince masses of largely uneducated people to buy into the hype. It is all so appealing. Just give your heart and mind over to jesus, and the rest will take care of itself. Eternal bliss, here we come. Everyone else be dammed - literally.

This may well get us all killed. There are thousands of like minded Muslims who see us as the embodiment of evil just as we are urged to regard them (it always being necessary to demonize the enemy.) They are bent on our destruction. They have a seventh century mind-set, but have no difficulty in making use of modern technology including atomic and other 21st century weaponry, computers, cell phones, etc. to aid in their efforts to bring down the infidel. (That would be us.)

Virtually all large scale death, other than that caused by disease, has been brought about through religious zealotry. At least that has been the premise sold to the masses. In truth, in almost every instance, the real issue has been and is resources. Of course, the resource at issue now is oil. Don't believe for a second that oil did not enter into the equation for our incursion into Iraq.

It is interesting to note that Iraq's oil reserves are, in fact, the least exploited anywhere in the middle east. Owing to constant political unrest since the end of WWI and the mis-guided despotism of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi oil industry has never approached its potential. It has been estimated that little more than 6% to 10% of Iraq's oil reserves have been tapped. Most of the other big oil producing nations are believed to be at, or past, their peak. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest are simply lying when they insist that oil was not an issue. In truth, it was the only issue. The unholy marriage of western oil concerns with christian fundamentalism may ultimately prove to be deadly to us all. Again, I say, who is using whom? Is the anti-christ Osama, or Saddam? Or, perhaps it's good old GW himself. It's so hard to tell. (I wish they'd wear name tags.)


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Armageddon - Here We Come

The Raptiles are giddy with glee. They are jumping up and down with joy in their belief that the present hostilities between Israel and Lebanon are the first salvos of the coming final battle at Armageddon between the armies of jesus and the anti-christ and his minions. The odds-on favorite for the anti-christ is, of course, Osama, or perhaps a mullah yet to be named (along with a 2nd round draft choice in 2009 should 2009 actually happen.) Some are sticking with Bill Clinton. My money's on Rob Schneider.

Never mind the misery, the pain, the suffering of all those mis-guided, godless muslims and jews. Christ is up at bat. He'll hit the first pitch clean out of the park. And nooooo steroids!

Jesus is to appear mounted aboard a towering white steed, dressed - as you might guess - all in white, with a sword in his mouth. I don't know what that last is all about, but I'm sure such a spectre would be quite stirring. Perhaps the J- man isn't all that great a horseman and kinda needs to hold on with both hands. His father should speak to him, though about that sword in the mouth thingy.

I just hope I can get the T-shirt concession. Bobble heads, too.

I am also prepared to accept any and all material things any of you Raptiles choose to leave behind in the knowledge that "you can't take it with you." I prefer stocks, bonds, real estate, and, of course, cash. Although, if you choose to give it all to some charity or other, that might be kind of like sending it on ahead. Who knows?

I take comfort in knowing that CNN will be there to give all of us doomed folk a front row seat with around the clock, 24/7 coverage. Life is great.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A.C. Grayling on Moralising

I have mentioned the English essayist, ethicist, and philosopher A. C. Grayling in previous posts. I have read a couple of his books which are, for the most part, a compilation of articles printed in The Guardian.

The first entry in Grayling's Meditations for the Humanists: Ethics for a Secular Age focuses on moralising.
It may be somewhat tiresome, but I will simply quote some of it here, as he states his case much better than I.

"A moraliser is a person who seeks to impose upon others his view of how they should live and behave. Everyone is entitled to a view about what counts as acceptable behaviour, and everyone is entitled to put it forward as eloquently and forcefully as he can. But moralisers go much further. They want others to conform to their views, and they seek to bring this about by coercion - employing means which range from social disapproval to legal control, this latter often being their preferred option. In forcing others to comply with their preferences they show at least several of the following: insensitivity, intolerance, unkindness, lack of imagination, failure of sympathy, absence of understanding, ignorance of alternative interests and needs in human experience, and arrogance in believing that theirs is the only acceptable way. They defend their actions by saying that they are trying to defend others from harm, thereby claiming not only a monopoly on moral judgment, but the right to decide on others' behalf what is good for them.

When moralisers attack liberal legislation on homosexuality, abortion, prostitution, censorship, blasphemy, bastardy, and other like matters, it is their way of manifesting hostility to lifestyles they personally dislike, and of trying to impose instead their own choices, usually in the form of a traditionalist fantasy of "family morality. . .

When the body politic is not immune {to moralisers} they are a menace, causing. . . downright misery to the people whose ways of life differ from their own. . .

Every age thinks it is in crisis. Things have got worse, people say, clucking their tongues; crime is up, the quality of life down, the world in a mess. People of religious bent are inclined to think that their personal epoch is so bad that it probably marks the end of the world. . .

Such sentiments are misleading because they premise a belief that somewhere or sometime the world had something which has since been lost - a cosy, chintzy, afternoon-teatime era when there was neither danger without nor unease within."

In other words: "The good old days."

It also should be noted that such moralising in American society comes out of the puritan ethic enforced by early settlers who supposedly left europe to escape religious persecution. Some historians have concluded that these people were forced to vacate their respective homelands owing to their own intolerance and persecution of others. Also, I reiterate the great H.L. Menken definition of puritanism as a fear that someone else might be having a good time. It seems that there is always someone out there who makes your behavior their business.