Sunday, March 31, 2013

April Fool!

Social Security and Taxes

Bunny, bunny, money, money

So sayeth......

an Easter message

Easter, the gun-huggers fallacy, and Tony Cornish

cross-posted from the MN Progressive Project:
Back on the 20th of March, the Big E wrote here about the assertion by Tony Cornish on Jesus and violence, with Cornish apparently positing that Jesus would come down on the side of the gun huggers and vigilante violence. The gun huggers believe that Jesus would have defended his family and followers with violence.

Now, Tony Cornish claims to be a Missouri Synod Lutheran, a very conservative branch of the Lutheran denomination with which I'm familiar. I'm the product of a 'mixed marriage', being brought up a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran (the other extremely conservative branch of Lutheranism) from my mother's side of the family, but my father's side of the family were Missouri Synod Lutherans. My two god children were brought up Missouri Synod; to be allowed to be their godmother, I had to demonstrate proficiency of knowledge of the synod doctrine and the Bible, so I have some basis for presenting an informed opinion. I still vividly remember my own confirmation rite-of-passage, which involved a question during an oral examination in front of the congregation, designed to show a knowledge of the Bible, specifically a question that involved Malchus .

As a good Missouri Synod Lutheran, Tony Cornish believes the Missouri Synod teachings - if his beliefs are consistent with the doctrinal positions of his faith, which you can read here on their official web page - then he believes the Bible is the inerrant word of God, which means he cannot make up his own variations on the Bible. The Missouri Synod does not allow 'cafeteria' Christianity, where you pick and choose, make up your own interpretations, or otherwise branch out on your own on theological matters. Your all in, or you're out. The inerrant, literal aspect of the Bible is their first and most foundational premise:
Of the Holy Scriptures1. We teach that the Holy Scriptures differ from all other books in the world in that they are the Word of God. They are the Word of God because the holy men of God who wrote the Scriptures wrote only that which the Holy Ghost communicated to them by inspiration, 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1: 21. We teach also that the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures is not a so-called "theological deduction," but that it is taught by direct statements of the Scriptures, 2 Tim. 3:16; John 10:35; Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:13. Since the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, it goes without saying that they contain no errors or contradictions, but that they are in all their parts and words the infallible truth, also in those parts which treat of historical, geographical, and other secular matters, John 10:35.

2. We furthermore teach regarding the Holy Scriptures that they are given by God to the Christian Church for the foundation of faith, Eph. 2:20. Hence the Holy Scriptures are the sole source from which all doctrines proclaimed in the Christian Church must be taken and therefore, too, the sole rule and norm by which all teachers and doctrines must be examined and judged. - With the Confessions of our Church we teach also that the "rule of faith" (analogia fidei) according to which the Holy Scriptures are to be understood are the clear passages of the Scriptures themselves which set forth the individual doctrines. (Apology. Triglot, p. 441, @_ 60; Mueller, p. 284). The rule of faith is not the man-made so-called "totality of Scripture" ("Ganzes der Schrift").
According to the City Pages, Cornish believes that Jesus would arm himself. I find that odd, given that clearly Jesus had every opportunity to arm not only himself, but his disciples and other followers, and did not do so. Beyond that, the Bible is very clear that arming oneself was an aspect of war for the common defense, and that for private defense, one could hire an armed guard - essentially an extension of civil authority. We know that the extreme conservatives differ from the accepted biblical texts, having re-written the Bible to contort and distort it to conform to their ideology, but that is not the traditional Bible texts accepted by the Missouri Synod, and that kind of alternative text is what that group most emphatically rejects, despite the self-description of being 'conservative'.

Rather what we do know, specifically from the teachings of the events leading up to the revelations of Easter are that Jesus repudiated violence, specifically when his disciple Peter took a sword and chopped off the ear of one Malchus in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested. This is the same Peter who later became the biblical St. Peter, the only figure ever associated with the title of pope who was not rejected by the Missouri Synod as the Anti-Christ; (only the actual disciples of Jesus, and Saul/Paul are saints in this denomination). Instead of engaging in violence, Jesus rebuked Peter, picked up the ear, and in a minor miracle tacked it back on, healing the man Malchus; this text is widely used to demonstrate the aversion to violence expressed by Jesus.

Like the mistaken idea of Rush Limbaugh that Congressman Lewis should have been armed when he was attacked on a civil rights protest march, in order to prevent the brutality that caused him to suffer a concussion, Tony Cornish misses the essential point. Both the Biblical Jesus and the modern day civil rights figure COULD have armed themselves, had they wanted to do so. Despite modern Jim Crow prohibitions to the contrary, there were armed black men in the south; at one point Martin Luther King himself owned a gun, for self-protection, but voluntarily got rid of it. Not to be armed, not to give in to the temptation to respond violently when harmed by violence in the course of protests, the very Biblical essence of turning the other cheek, was the foundation of peaceful resistance and civil disobedience.

Similarly, the pro-violence, pro-vigilante shooting gun huggers like to misrepresent and distort the teachings of Gandhi, who supported the arming of Indian citizens to join with British forces, but himself refused to own or use a gun, and who ONLY ever supported the arming of civil authority and military forces. Not surprising from such a violent group, when I wrote about Guns and Gandhi here, I received death threats from gun huggers who objected to being confronted with facts that did not support their co-opting Gandhi's core message. The attribution to Gandhi that he said "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians." was debunked by Snopes here, but there does seem to be some justification for Gandhi selectively supporting the non-violence aspect of Biblical teachings of Jesus, which further argues against the false interpretation by Cornish of scripture to support Jesus or the disciples taking up arms, and by extension, arming anyone in modern times.

Missouri Synod Lutherans believes some other stuff that might surprise more mainstream Christians from other denominations, like the belief the Pope is the Anti-Christ.
Of the Antichrist43. As to the Antichrist we teach that the prophecies of the Holy Scriptures concerning the Antichrist, 2 Thess. 2: 3-12; 1 John 2:18, have been fulfilled in the Pope of Rome and his dominion. All the features of the Antichrist as drawn in these prophecies, including the most abominable and horrible ones, for example, that the Antichrist "as God sitteth in the temple of God," 2 Thess. 2:4; that he anathematizes the very heart of the Gospel of Christ, that is, the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, for Christ's sake alone, through faith alone, without any merit or worthiness in man (Rom. 3:20-28; Gal. 2:16); that he recognizes only those as members of the Christian Church who bow to his authority; and that, like a deluge, he had inundated the whole Church with his antichristian doctrines till God revealed hirn through the Reformation these very features are the outstanding characteristics of the Papacy. (Cf. Smalcald Articles. Triglot, p. 515, @_ 39 to . 1; p. 401, _ 45; M., pp. 336, 258.) Hence we subscribe to the statement of our Confessions that the Pope is "the very Antichrist." (Smalcald Articles. Triglot, p. 475, @_ 10; M, p. 308.)
(Michele Bachmann used to belong to a Wisconsin Synod church, but left after being challenged about the teaching of that Synod, which also accuses the Pope of being the Anti-Christ.)

But the other core belief espoused by the Missouri Synod that Mr. Cornish should revisit is this one, that he as a legislator should remember - the strong separation of church and state. The Missouri Synod clearly disapproves of the use of religion to justify civil or criminal law, and also clearly advocates for a peaceful and peaceable life rather than individual violence. Apparently Tony Cornish slept through Sunday School classes, Sunday Sermons, and his confirmation classes, if he so poorly understands the core precepts of his own faith.
Of Church and State

34. Although both Church and State are ordinances of God, yet they must not be commingled. Church and State have entirely different aims. By the Church, God would save men, for which reason the Church is called the "mother" of believers, Gal. 4:26. By the State, God would maintain external order among men, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty," 1 Tim. 2:2. It follows that the means which Church and State employ to gain their ends are entirely different. The Church may not employ any other means than the preaching of the Word of God, John 18:11,36; 2 Cor. 10: 4. The State, on the other hand, makes laws bearing on civil matters and is empowered to employ for their execution also the sword and other corporal punishments, Rom. 13:4. Accordingly we condemn the policy of those who would have the power of the State employed "in the interest of the Church" and who thus turn the Church into a secular dominion; as also of those who, aiming to govern the State by the Word of God, seek to turn the State into a Church.
Shame on Mr. Cornish; we can only hope and pray that if he attends Easter services, he might learn something, and achieve a better enlightenment.

Easter? Ishtar? Earlier?

Origins of the name "Easter":

The name "Easter" originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE.) a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similarly, the "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [was] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos." 1 Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: "eastre." Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were:
bullet Aphrodite, named Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus) after the two places which claimed her birth; 8
bullet Ashtoreth from ancient Israel;
bullet Astarte from ancient Greece;
bullet Demeter from Mycenae;
bullet Hathor from ancient Egypt;
bullet Ishtar from Assyria;
bullet Kali, from India; and
bulletOstara a Norse Goddess of fertility.
An alternative explanation has been suggested. The name given by the Frankish church to Jesus' resurrection festival included the Latin word "alba" which means "white." (This was a reference to the white robes that were worn during the festival.) "Alba" also has a second meaning: "sunrise." When the name of the festival was translated into German, the "sunrise" meaning was selected in error. This became "ostern" in German. Ostern has been proposed as the origin of the word "Easter". 2
There are two popular beliefs about the origin of the English word "Sunday."
bulletIt is derived from the name of the Scandinavian sun Goddess Sunna (a.k.a. Sunne, Frau Sonne). 5,6
bulletIt is derived from "Sol," the Roman God of the Sun." Their phrase "Dies Solis" means "day of the Sun." The Christian saint Jerome (d. 420) commented "If it is called the day of the sun by the pagans, we willingly accept this name, for on this day the Light of the world arose, on this day the Sun of Justice shone forth." 7

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Holiday of your chosen faith (or no faith)

Here's the thing; neither Easter rabbits nor Easter eggs are Christian symbols. But the right wing nuts are shrieking about an imaginary attack on Easter.

From Media Matters:

Here's the story: Some schools chose to have "Spring egg hunts" instead of "Easter egg hunts." From this, Fox News concluded that "Christianity is on the run," and that there's a sinister "War on Easter" being waged across the country.

They've been at it all week:


The notion that linking easter egg hunts and other celebrations to spring is legitimate and factual; the claims that it constitutes a 'War on Easter' or a War on Christianity is neither legitimate NOR fact-based.

NOT that facts ever have any close connection (if they have any connection at all) to the right wing paranoid claims that are the obsession of conservatives.

They're PAGAN iconography. Even the word Easter isn't of Christian origin, the origin is traced variously to the Teutonic goddess Eostra or Austron. Other sources link it to the worship of Ishtar, and a variety of eastern Mediterranean and African religious and cultural celebrations. 

As one of my favorite FACT sources for religious topics noted :

Pagan origins of Easter:

Many, perhaps most, Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area had a major seasonal day of religious celebration at or following the Spring Equinox. Cybele, the Phrygian fertility goddess, had a consort, Attis, who was believed to have been born via a virgin birth. Attis was believed to have died and been resurrected each year during the period MAR-22 to MAR-25.
Gerald L. Berry, author of "Religions of the World," wrote:
"About 200 B.C. mystery cults began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult centered on Vatican hill ...Associated with the Cybele cult was that of her lover, Attis (the older Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus under a new name). He was a god of ever-reviving vegetation. Born of a virgin, he died and was reborn annually. The festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection." 3
Wherever Christian worship of Jesus and Pagan worship of Attis were active in the same geographical area in ancient times, Christians:
"... used to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on the same date; and pagans and Christians used to quarrel bitterly about which of their gods was the true prototype and which the imitation."
Many religious historians and liberal theologians believe that the death and resurrection legends were first associated with Attis, many centuries before the birth of Jesus. They were simply grafted onto stories of Jesus' life in order to make Christian theology more acceptable to Pagans. Others suggest that many of the events in Jesus' life that were recorded in the gospels were lifted from the life of Krishna, the second person of the Hindu Trinity. Ancient Christians had an alternative explanation; they claimed that Satan had created counterfeit deities in advance of the coming of Christ in order to confuse humanity. 4 Modern-day Christians generally regard the Attis legend as being a Pagan myth of little value with no connection to Jesus. They regard Jesus' death and resurrection account as being true, and unrelated to the earlier tradition.
Wiccans and other modern-day Neopagans continue to celebrate the Spring Equinox as one of their 8 yearly Sabbats (holy days of celebration). Near the Mediterranean, this is a time of sprouting of the summer's crop; farther north, it is the time for seeding. Their rituals at the Spring Equinox are related primarily to the fertility of the crops and to the balance of the day and night times. In those places where Wiccans can safely celebrate the Sabbat out of doors without threat of religious persecution, they often incorporate a bonfire into their rituals, jumping over the dying embers is believed to assure fertility of people and crops.

As wikipedia noted:
Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility,[4] and rebirth, pre-dating Christian traditions.[5] The practice of decorating eggshell is ancient. Ostrich eggs with engraved decoration that are 60,000 years old have been found in Africa.[6] Decorated ostrich eggs, and representations of ostrich eggs in gold and silver, were commonly placed in graves of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians as early as 5,000 years ago.[7]
In particular, the custom of the Easter egg originated amongst the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion.[8][9] The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection; in A.D. 1610, Pope Paul V proclaimed the following prayer:[8][9]
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary:
O.E. Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from P.Gmc. *Austron, a goddess of fertility and sunrise whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, from *austra-, from PIE *aus- "to shine" (especially of the dawn). Bede says Anglo-Saxon Christians adopted her name and many of the celebratory practices for their Mass of Christ's resurrection. Ultimately related to east. Almost all neighboring languages use a variant of Latin Pasche to name this holiday.

According to the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration — and the origin of the Easter Bunny — can be traced back to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses.The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.

NEWS: Was the Last Supper a Day Earlier?

Spring also symbolized new life and rebirth; eggs were an ancient symbol of fertility. According to, Easter eggs represent Jesus' resurrection. However, this association came much later when Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion in Germany in the 15th century and merged with already ingrained pagan beliefs.
The first Easter Bunny legend was documented in the 1500s. By 1680, the first story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published. These legends were brought to the United States in the 1700s, when German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania Dutch country, according to the Center for Children's Literature and Culture.
The tradition of making nests for the rabbit to lay its eggs in soon followed. Eventually, nests became decorated baskets and colorful eggs were swapped for candy, treats and other small gifts.

Fake, Faux, Fox

More ways the right gets facts wrong; this is NOT correct. Bill-O's books are all factually inaccurate crap.

It's not bad enough that the right wing nuts like this guy get their facts wrong, they try to profit from lying to people who want to be deceived.

Per media matters:
Bill O'Reilly tried to reinterpret the Bible for his new book "Killing Jesus." Dr. Marc Lamont Hill wasn't having it.

Bill O'Reilly = Economic Ignoramus

Facts are not the friends of conservatives.

As noted by Media Matters:
If you haven't seen Richard Wolff's take down of Bill O'Reilly and his incompetence when it comes to economics, it's worth your time. 
Check out the video from Democracy Now! here:
Richard Wolff on Bill O'Reilly: O'Reilly's "just making it up as he goes along to conform to an ideological position that is harder and harder for folks like him to sustain, so he has to reach further and further into fantasy."
Sounds about right. READ: 10 other examples of Bill O'Reilly flubbing economics:
Bill O'Reilly, he's loud, obnoxious, and wrong.

We are NOT a Christian Nation, we are a secular nation.

Gun hugger hypocisy

Conservatives would willingly hurt the country, just to play politics.

Science advances worth noting

It's amazing how quickly right wing principles are set aside, when either money or power is in play.

Damn straight

Glad that was cleared up.

There just is no legitimate excuse for conservative politics and politicians.

It is a clear choice, a clean choice or a dirty and corrupt choice.

What's the problem with the word Vagina?

There have been multiple instances where conservatives have had problems with the word vagina, despite their culture war on women and vaginas. Maybe they feel guilty. It's a far better word than the demeaning and abusive language some men use for that body part and for women; those men are pigs, who don't merit consideration. They place themselves outside of civilized society.

This man is clearly an educator. But then - the right is against education every bit as much as they are against women, especially honest, factual sex education. Shame on them, shame on these parents, shame on the priorities of the conservatives in red states like Idaho.

About Prop 8

That includes bodily autonomy and equal pay for equal work.

Even the nuts on the far right fringe are coming around

Whine La Pierre, a coward behind guns

There is no excuse for right wing voter suppression, you don't find it with nearly the frequency among any other part of the political spectrum.


The 'Biblical' definition(s) of Marriage we keep hearing about...

About that damned puritanical, uptight, sanctimonious holier-than-thou conservative insistence on the religious / 'Christian'/ Biblical definition of marriage............I keep wondering how many of these idiots have actually read the Bible and familiarized themselves with it, because of how factually wrong they are, consistently, in their claims.

What those who want to prohibit marriage equality are trying to do is to legally exclude anyone who doesn't practice their version of monogamy, which has NOTHING whatsoever to do with Biblical definitions of marriage, but with our supposed European cultural traditions -- and even then, their beliefs and traditions do really reflect the actual practices of historic Europe, which included child marriage.

The one thing we are not going to return to is an unequal heterosexual definition of marriage where women have no rights to say no, which IS the Biblical traditional marriage. I can only imagine the shock and horror of the religious right at the idea of adding concubines to their uptight little traditional heterosexual families.

This should go a long way to educate the right wing ignorant:

'Fossilized Bigots'


I'd reverse the first two - he can vote because he's human, not because he's white. 

Conservatives have tried to prevent those who are not white from voting, through their voter suppression efforts, because conservatives don't really trust people to vote.  Conservatives don't REALLY believe in representative government, or they wouldn't support voter suppression.

He can go to school, not because he's male, but because he is human.  Otherwise -- this is pretty much on target.

Good for America, good for the economy.

For the few who are holding on to their hate and intolerance with both hands -- because that is what it is to deny people civil liberties, no matter how you try to spin it, it's hate -- here's a list of those companies who understand and support REAL liberty.  It's good for business, it's good for the economy, it's good for people.

We're not some antiquated 19th century pseudo-theocracy, catering to right wing ignorance and badly informed religious bias.

Funny thing - those companies, like Chick-fil-A that have come out against same sex oriented individuals? That hasn't worked out well for them financially.  So, by all means - boycott away. It won't make any difference. Opposition to marriage equality is losing; it's just a matter of time, a matter of what is fair and right (not right wing).

We want marriage equality, we want it NOW.

It's clear, it's here, equal marriage for same sex couples.

As someone noted, support appears to be especially strong in St. Louis County, MN...

Facebook has revealed that 2.7 million more users than normal changed their photo this Tuesday, doubling the average number of photo uploads. The catalyst? HRC’s equal sign.

More data:

Image: Facebook provided this map, where-in counties with bolder colors had more photo-switchers.

Name calling? How about we just call him call him Jerk?



Loving it


Friday, March 29, 2013

Good question......

Make a Choice

Now is your time to decide. Do you stand on the side of history which supports equal rights, not separate rights, but equal rights. Or do you stand, just like those who advocated for segregation, on the side which will be judged to have been nothing but the stubborn refuse of bigotry and intollerence worthy only of being relgated to that same distbin of history. Will you be proud of being on the vanguard standing up for decency and fairness? Or, like so many in the south of the US such as Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd when reflecting on their own indefensible conduct, will you take a stance for which ultimately, will you be shamed.

A basic liberty is like gravity, something which exists whether we recognize it or not, but unlike gravity, we can chose to strip it, to keep it locked away.  This fundamental liberty, granting equal treatment under the law to gays and lesbians, is the civil rights issue of our age.  Whether you realize it is the only question.  Make your choice, take your stand.

Enjoy the holiday weekend, but drive extra safely!

RIP, Richard Griffiths

Many people know Richard Griffiths from the Harry Potter movies; he was so very much more than the role of Uncle Vernon Dursley. He will be missed. Showing his larger range - Shakespeare, and my favorite move showcasing his talents - the History boys, where he reprised his award winning stage performance in the 2006 film version with the rest of the original cast (2nd video).

Fox 'news' = right wing fact-free propaganda

If self-deportation doesn't insult Hispanics and Latinos, calling them wet-backs certainly does. GOP = Tone Deafness

Tea Party insanity