Pope Francis Condemns Corruption and Unbridled Capitalism

Pope Francis Condemns Corruption and Unbridled Capitalism

Pope Francis is truly a remarkable figure.  My favorite quote from the above Huffington Post article:

He urged politicians and business leaders “not to yield to an economic model which is idolatrous, which needs to sacrifice human lives on the altar of money and profit.”

I wish I had more to write, but I am somewhat speechless.  I’m extremely glad to see such a powerful figure speaking truth and standing up for human rights.  Statements like the above shouldn’t be surprising, it’s basic common sense, but unfortunately we live in a world where people all too often put money and profit above others.

George Carlin On Abortion

Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers.

In honor, no defiance, of the latest court ruling in Texas concerning Abortion clinics, here is George Carlin on abortions.  From his album Back in Town:

Why, why, why, why is it that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place, huh? Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They’re all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re preborn, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re fucked.
Conservatives don’t give a shit about you until you reach “military age”. Then they think you are just fine. Just what they’ve been looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers. Pro-life… pro-life… These people aren’t pro-life, they’re killing doctors! What kind of pro-life is that? What, they’ll do anything they can to save a fetus but if it grows up to be a doctor they just might have to kill it’They’re not pro-life. You know what they are? They’re anti-woman. Simple as it gets, anti-woman. They don’t like them. They don’t like women.They believe a woman’s primary role is to function as a brood mare for the state.
Pro-life… You don’t see many of these white anti-abortion women volunteering to have any black fetuses transplanted into their uteruses, do you? No, you don’t see them adopting a whole lot of crack babies, do you? No, that might be something Christ would do. And, you won’t see alot of these pro-life people dousing themselves in kerosene and lighting themselves on fire. You know, moraly committed religious people in South Vietnam knew how to stage a goddamn demonstration, didn’t they?! They knew how to put on a fucking protest. Light yourself on FIRE!! C’mon, you moral crusaders, let’s see a little smoke. To match that fire in your belly.
Here’s another question I have: how come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette? Are we so much better than chickens all of a sudden? When did this happen, that we passed chickens in goodness? Name six ways we’re better than chickens… See, nobody can do it! You know why? ‘Cuz chickens are decent people. You don’t see chickens hanging around in drug gangs, do you? No, you don’t see a chicken strapping some guy to a chair and hooking up his nuts to a car battery, do you? When’s the last chicken you heard about came home from work and beat the shit out of his hen, huh? Doesn’t happen. ‘Cuz chickens are decent people.
But let’s get back to this abortion shit. Now, is a fetus a human being? This seems to be the central question. Well, if a fetus is a human being, how come the census doesn’t count them? If a fetus is a human being, how come when there’s a miscarriage they don’t have a funeral? If a fetus is a human being, how come people say “we have two children and one on the way” instead of saying “we have three children?” People say life begins at conception, I say life began about a billion years ago and it’s a continuous process. Continuous, just keeps rolling along. Rolling, rolling, rolling along.
And say you know something? Listen, you can go back further than that. What about the carbon atoms? Hah? Human life could not exist without carbon. So is it just possible that maybe we shouldn’t be burning all this coal? Just looking for a little consistency here in these anti-abortion arguments. See the really hardcore people will tell you life begins at fertilization. Fertilization, when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Which is usually a few moments after the man says “Gee, honey, I was going to pull out but the phone rang and it startled me.” Fertilization.
But even after the egg is fertilized, it’s still six or seven days before it reaches the uterus and pregnancy begins, and not every egg makes it that far. Eighty percent of a woman’s fertilized eggs are rinsed and flushed out of her body once a month during those delightful few days she has. They wind up on sanitary napkins, and yet they are fertilized eggs. So basically what these anti-abortion people are telling us is that any woman who’s had more than more than one period is a serial killer! Consistency. Consistency. Hey, hey, if they really want to get serious, what about all the sperm that are wasted when the state executes a condemned man, one of these pro-life guys who’s watching cums in his pants, huh? Here’s a guy standing over there with his jockey shorts full of little Vinnies and Debbies, and nobody’s saying a word to the guy. Not every ejaculation deserves a name.
Now, speaking of consistency, Catholics, which I was until I reached the age of reason, Catholics and other Christians are against abortions, and they’re against homosexuals. Well who has less abortions than homosexuals?! Leave these fucking people alone, for Christ sakes! Here is an entire class of people guaranteed never to have an abortion! And the Catholics and Christians are just tossing them aside! You’d think they’d make natural allies. Go look for consistency in religion. And speaking of my friends the Catholics, when John Cardinal O’Connor of New York and some of these other Cardinals and Bishops have experienced their first pregnancies and their first labor pains and they’ve raised a couple of children on minimum wage, then I’ll be glad to hear what they have to say about abortion. I’m sure it’ll be interesting. Enlightening, too. But, in the meantime what they ought to be doing is telling these priests who took a vow of chastity to keep their hands off the altar boys! Keep your hands to yourself, Father! You know? When Jesus said “Suffer the little children come unto me”, that’s not what he was talking about!
So you know what I tell these anti-abortion people? I say “Hey. Hey. If you think a fetus is more important that a woman, try getting a fetus to wash the shit stains out of your underwear. For no pay and no pension.” I tell them “Think of an abortion as term limits. That’s all it is. Bioligical term limits.

Most Texas Abortion Clinics Likely to Close

Most Texas Abortion Clinics Likely to Close

Along with the article I posted before this one and others, there is all kinds of depressing news in Texas right now.  I find it despicable that others should be telling women what to do with their own bodies.  I don’t understand the mind frame of those in the power structure that want to control women, minorities, etc.  I mean I understand their goals, but I don’t understand the actual way their brains work, unless they are sociopaths.  Those without power who back them are depressingly comedic fools, clinging to nothing but illusion.  The urge to control others is in our society, in our makeup.  We must resist the urge if possible.

Scott Walker Wants to Amend Constitution to Allow Same Sex Marriage Bans

Scott Walker Wants to Amend Constitution to Allow Same Sex Marriage Bans

This is what the modern GOP has come to:  Wanting to amend the Constitution to actually deprive people of the pursuit of happiness.  All the meanwhile sliding money out the backdoor to multinational corporations.  This is backwoods barbarity combined with snake oil salesmanship.   They distract people from what is really destroying their quality of life with archaic notions of morality.  It’s cruel and stupid.  Don’t let them dupe you. Love is the only engine of our survival.   Only through kindness and tolerance can we move forward to better days. 

Gay Marriage Approved In Ireland

Ireland has just voted in favor of gay marriage.  This is a victory for sanity, dignity, and love.  Ireland, a country that was oppressed by the Church for many years, is now officially more progressive than parts of our country on this issue.  Although I know we will get there eventually, it is shameful that so many people here in the USA are still firmly rooted in the ideas of the past.  All sane people know that those who were against Civil Rights in the 60’s will look eternally foolish when remembered in history books.  So will those that oppose gay marriage now.  However, today is a day to celebrate.  Today brings the world one step closer to justice and equality.

The Pope On The Military Industrial Complex

The Pope On The Military Industrial Complex

From the article at Daily Kos

Pope Francis said Monday that “many powerful people don’t want peace because they live off war”. The Argentine pontiff made the hard-hitting comment in response to a question from one of the 7,000 children taking part in an audience held with the Peace Factory organisation. “This is serious,” Francis told the children.

“Some powerful people make their living with the production of arms.

“It’s the industry of death”.

Pope Francis has said so many things that make sense.  Although I’m not joining anytime soon, or any other religious organization, he has made me think of the Catholic Church in a new light.  Although I know there are still views that he has that I don’t agree with, he seems by and large a true force for good, someone that is striving for economic justice, environmental sanity, and peace.

A note to people of other sects and faiths:  If you want to be taken seriously outside of your bubble of fellow believers, do things in the name of your religion that actually bring about a better world.

Why should it be that Pope Francis seems to tower above so many religious leaders?  Why is it such a shock that an extremely high ranking religious leader is actually standing against so many of the things that cause human suffering?

Flow Chart That Destroys Religious Argument Against Gay Marriage

Flow Chart That Destroys Religious Argument Against Gay Marriage

If you go to the above link there is a pretty hilarious flow chart that shows how silly religious arguments against gay marriage are.  Worth a moment of your time.  And we won’t even get into the whole idea of how marriage has constantly been changing as society changes.

Black Death

“As sure as the sun rises and falls, witches will burn.”Black Death*

Tonight I had a couple good laughs watching the medieval horror/thrill Black Death.  The movie was not an intended comedy, nor do I mean to make light of the film or to say that it was intentionally funny.  But once you have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it is hard not to remember it when there is anything to do with the Black Plague or witch burning.  This is not the fault of the filmmakers.  The movie itself is unique, interesting, and gritty.  Although it pulls from other films like The Wicker Man, it puts things together in an original combination.

The film stars Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne.  Redmayne plays a young monk during the bubonic plague in the 1300’s.  His monastery is wracked with the dead.  He has a secret love of a girl in the local village.  Due to this he secretly wants to leave the monastery and the death that surrounds him.  When Sean Bean, who is a knight in service for the church, says that he needs a guide, circumstances drive Osmund, Redmayne’s character, to lead Ulrich, Bean’s character, on a journey.  They are searching for a village that has not been touched by the plague.  They believe it has made it untouched by the plague due to a necromancer and black magic.

The movie treats the situation as realistic, from the viewpoint of the people that are living in that time and place.  The viewer does not know until late in the movie if there is any supernatural element to the movie, or it is just the superstition of a backwards religious people.  This is a dark film, with gritty violence and all manner of barbarism carried out in the name of religion.  It is suspenseful and bleak.  Torturing and many forms of dismembering take place throughout the film.

However, Hannah Arendt once said, “that the horrible can be not only ludicrous but outright funny.”  As Monty Python demonstrated, through the clarity of hindsight, the beliefs of those times are completely absurd and ridiculous.  Although the characters may or may not be dealing with the supernatural, I don’t want to spoil anything, you know that they are largely on a fools errand.  When local villagers want to burn a woman at the stake for supposedly putting a curse on the local water supply, one can’t help but feel, knowing such things happened, as being a complete folly.  The actions of many of the people in the movie are so absurd, yet realistic, that is somehow passes through the looking glass and becomes somewhat of a comedy of human behavior.  I don’t want to portray the movie as a farce.  I’m not even saying that the movie depicts the actions of these people with anything other than serious.  However, it is because it is so straight that you realize just how absurd this behavior is.  When a character is drawn and quartered it is completely horrific.  Yet once upon a time our ancestors did that kind of thing.

Watching the film I couldn’t help but wonder why this time period is depicted in more movies.  It is strange and horrifying enough to be almost fantastic, yet interesting because it is not fantasy.  This movie takes liberties with the time period, and the story itself is fiction, but many of the things that people do to one another, many of the beliefs, are real.  I found this movie to be entertaining, gripping, interesting, and yes funny at times.  It is also batshit insane.  When they are venturing out to find the possibly supernatural village they come across men walking down a stream whipping themselves and carrying a large cross.  These people are punishing themselves to make penance with God.  They warn the main group not to go any further.  If these are the people warning them, what kind of further insanity waits down the road?

Although this movie is first and foremost a horror movie or thriller, it does ask questions about the nature of evil, religious belief, and human nature.  One can’t help thinking about what is going on in the world currently due to religious strife while watching it.  It is entertainment with intelligence.  It looks and feels differently than the typical Hollywood movie and that is because it was filmed in Germany, even if it has several stars in it.  The camera work and art direction is gritty and realistic, though gothic in fitting with the time period.

Tragedy plus time equals comedy.  While I watched this film I couldn’t help but wonder what actions of modern times will look completely ridiculous to those hundreds of years in the future.

The famous witch scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

* This quote may be slightly paraphrased.  It was late, we were already watching something else, and my internet searches came up empty.  If not exact it gets close enough to the original’s intent.

The Deeply Strange American Night

This is a deeply strange country.  Sometimes it too closely resembles the movie Blue Velvet, where a seemingly normal veneer masks a darker underbelly.  The other night on tour I found myself with the rare solo hotel room.  It was late, but since I don’t have cable, I decided to see if there was anything interesting on that I would normally not get to watch.  I was in Oklahoma.  What I found was perverse mixture of religion and crime.

The first thing that I stumbled upon was the televangelist Mike Murdock.  He looked like he should have been hosting a Vegas magic show with a black sequined shirt on, hair that was so black it was almost blue, and a black goatee.  He was giving a strange mixture of religious and finical advice.  He wanted viewers to “sow” the “seeds” of their future for just $83 a month.  He was hoping that 120 souls would send him a thousand dollars a piece.  He was shamefully asking for money like a late-night infomercial host while holding a Bible.  Televangelists have been around a long time, but the sheer look of this guy was creepy, like if he tried to sell you a used car you would be suspicious.  However, he clearly has enough money to appear on not one, but two channels at the same time.  Someone out there in the American night was buying into his insane schtick, long after Jimmy Swaggart’s deal went south.

The strange thing was, he wasn’t even the only televangelist on.  In flipping the channel I again not only found him again, but another one on at the same time in the same state.  Between these I saw the equally strange infomercials that so dominate late night television.  Bad ideas for those that just might be in a state to believe anything.  Some guy that looked like an albino was trying to sell personal generators incase U.S. power grid going down.  I understand that in someplace like Oklahoma, where tornados are a reality, there may occasionally be a need for such a thing, but this was beyond that.  This was trying to strike fear into the average person to make them think that Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was right around the corner.

Even weirder still, every channel that I turned on that did not feature religious or business hucksters of some kind, featured crime and punishment.  These were, for the most part, true crime shows, that let one know what kind of savagery was waiting outside their door.  i finally settled on a show that was about Arizona’s famous tent city prison, where inmates sleep under tents in the stifling Arizona heat and do hard labor by day.  The part of the show that I watched was about someone that was a new inmate serving six months for meth.  Apparently if he did his time in tent city he could avoid a lengthier sentence in a “real” prison.  If he broke the rules in tent city his sentence would be extended and he would again be sent to that “real” prison.  However, like prison in general, the inmates formed gangs by race.  If they broker the rules of the gangs, which often were the opposite of the rules of the prison, they would get the living fuck beaten out of them.  This didn’t have to put the fear into people.  This actually resembled Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

So here in Oklahoma, people were being preyed upon by religious hucksters and slimy sale men.  Meanwhile they are constantly receiving messages of fear:  Fear that they are going to go broke, fear that hell awaits, fear that criminals await, and fear that if they break any rules they will go to a prison that animals aren’t fit to live in.  No wonder so many people in this country are crazy!

Strangely enough, I have been trying to finish Dante’s Inferno the last couple of days.  In Dante’s version of hell, those that use God to commit fraud are worse than those that actually steal.  However, in our country we give those people TV programs and tax breaks while those that commit non-violent crimes are put in a living version of hell.  Someone might go to jail for theft that, while still wrong, pales in comparison to what these religious con-artists are doing.  Someone that robs people of thousands of dollars by prettying upon their fears and religious beliefs becomes a rich celebrity in America.  Now there is a lot of absurdity in The Divine Comedy, but I can’t help but feel that our own moral code is often absurd as well.

I went to sleep deeply troubled that night.  I try not to be under any illusions as to what is out there.  I’ve been well aware of all of the above for quite some time.  However, it was jarring seeing it all back to back, channel after channel.  Images of unrelenting insanity are being pumped into millions of homes on a daily basis.  I’ve read enough to know that over the long game of history that progress is real.  I know that change is possible.  But for a brief moment I couldn’t help but feel that we were just monkeys with machine guns, gathered around televisions instead of campfires, telling superstitious stories, under the influence of a skull white moon.

Why People Do Horrible Things For Belief

Why People Do Horrible Things For Belief

Over at Salon is an article that starts out with Scientology and Going Clear, the book and documentary about it, but then deals in the much broader realm of belief.  It deals with everything from the Rwandan genocide to the Mob and how people, once caught up in a group, use belief to justify the things that they have done.  At a certain point belief in something is more painful than coming to terms with the reality of a situation.  An interesting read.