I’m an X, so I believe Y

It’s fascinating to me how the phrase “I’m a Christian, so I believe <Y>” is almost completely non-predictive to what <Y> is. Pro-life or pro-choice? Pro- or anti- same-sex marriage? Spank your children or not? For or against the death penalty? Welfare supporter or “welfare queen” detractor? Will the Rapture happen in our lifetimes or not, or is it impossible to know? Is divorce OK or not? Evolution: “real” or not? War: “turn the other cheek” or “eye for an eye”? Ghosts? Global warming? Universal healthcare? Or to go back in time a little: pro-slavery or anti? Or even further: does the Earth go around the Sun, or vice versa, or neither?

To put it another way: in the phrase “I’m a Christian, so I believe <Y>”, there are a greater number of non-trivial beliefs than can be substituted for <Y> (including contradictory ones) than those that are universally considered unacceptable by all who speak the phrase.

It’s especially fascinating when the sentence is followed by the supposed final word on the matter: a biblical quote. If you can equally support both sides of the argument in the same collection of books, while at the same time claim the other side is taking their quotes (from the same book) “out of context”, or confusing literal statements with metaphor, or using a mistranslation of the “true meaning of the text”, or applying other factors to decide which parts still apply and which no longer do… it should give you pause as to the usefulness of the text, and a little humility over proclaiming that one happens to have been born into the only small subsection of the population that got the interpretation just right.

Why if I didn’t know better I’d think that people just generally believe what they already believe (read: what they were taught by their parents, largely determined by where in the world they were born) and then just pick and choose the parts of religion that fit. It helps that they use a book written over centuries by people who had wildly different and inconsistent beliefs, therefore can justify practically any position you take.

But that’s just my belief, and we all know the Devil can quote scripture for his own purposes (Luke 4:9-11).

Wait… I read Fox News?

Wow, this opinion piece got accidentally posted on the Fox News website!  Someone’s going to be SO FIRED!

It’s an article that:

  • Admits that Obama’s quote is being deliberately taken out of context (and although it’s not stated in the article, it’s well known that it’s Romney, his campaign and the GOP who are doing so)
  • States that the taxes the rich pay are too low
  • In fact, implies that the low taxes that the rich pay are UNAMERICAN
  • Allows for the necessary role of the government in helping business succeed
  • Says the words “Obama’s right”, without being sarcastic

Rupert Murdoch’s going to be so angry he’ll probably suck the blood out of a whole baby. Go read it before he sees it!

And in America, we don’t get ours and then yank away the ladder of opportunity for the next generation.

Thank you.

[Previously]

MN United volunteer/training opportunity for you!

Hey Minneapolis friends! I’ll be training volunteers for MN United voter contact phone banks tomorrow from 6-9pm at All God’s Children, 3100 Park Ave S. It’s my first training, and I could use your support (as could MN United, obviously): care to join me? Ping me if you can, or just show up.

We’re looking for volunteers to train and call voters to survey them about their position on the Amendment to Limit Marriage, trying to determine how they will be voting. Come on over!

Someone else seems to have a “brain condition”

Congratulations, Dana Ford.  This has to be the dumbest article I’ve read in quite some time. And I sometimes even read birther conspiracy theory articles in WND.

Hi there! Millions of years ago I caused evolution to give some number of people a relatively rare condition in their brains. I did this so that millions of years later, I would make a crazy person fail to kill you, while succeeding in murdering 12 others that I… well, I guess I didn’t plan that far ahead for. By the way, it’s possible that thousands or millions of people have had this condition for no discernible reason, ’cause I made it for YOU! Special!

Now, don’t get me wrong: he doesn’t kill you per se, but you’ll still have to go through painful therapy, tons of expensive surgery, facial reconstruction, you’ll probably have some sort of PTSD from this… and oh: your mom still has cancer in her liver, bones and lungs. I mean, there’s only so much I can do, right? Who am I, Sanjay Gupta? Amirite? Love that guy.

Right, well I guess I could have made the crazy person get discovered and arrested on his way to the theater, I suppose. Or just made his brain not have the condition that made him crazy. Or made the gun jam. Could’ve given the guy a heart attack or something. Or kept you away from the theater that night, or changed the path of the bullet so that it missed you. Technically, I guess I have the power to just make this horrifying bloodbath-slash-massacre not happen in the first place! Oh well… hindsight, huh? LOL!

Hey, the news article didn’t mention the amazing team of doctors and nurses that actually saved your life, by any chance? No? Good, wouldn’t want stories about their expertise, hard work, dedication and skill to eclipse all the… evolution… brain work thing I did millions of years ago. Screw those guys, don’t even want to hear their names mentioned. Might just give one of THEM cancer too! ROFL! How ’bout them “mysterious ways”, science!

Now praise me. I did a miracle!

Oh Mitt Romney, you anti-business socialist big-government interventionist, you

“I know that you recognize a lot of people help you in a business. Perhaps the bank, the investors. There is no question your mom and dad, your school teachers. The people who provide roads, the fire, the police. A lot of people help.”

- Mitt Romney, July 2012

Wait, that quote reminds me of something… but what?

Uh oh! A little hate boo-boo!

Congratulations to the Lifetime network, who have seen fit to show us footage of little 3-year old Tripp Palin angrily calling his aunt a “faggot”, to which his mother and aunt respond by cracking up. I bet that little rascal learned the word in a hateful way from the “lamestream media”, amirite Real Americans? No way a young child could have picked it up from regular casual use around the household, right?

Such a proud moment for the whole family.

Ten bucks it’s a ploy to get the show canceled so it can be blamed on “liberal political correctness”, and not the show’s dismal ratings. It could have been turned into a teaching moment, too: it would have been so wonderful to see Bristol telling little Tripp that words can be hurtful, that words can bully, and that certain words are not acceptable to use in that way because that’s not the kind of people we are and not the way we treat other people.

If she had done that, I think I would have considered actually watching the show. Instead, they just giggle nervously while the “Uh oh! Whoopsie-doodle!” music plays in the background. And now we know that the words “hate” and “faggot” go hand-in-hand in the Palin household.

No link, in case people following it accidentally leads to someone at the network reaching the conclusion that there is any interest in the show.

It’s your fault I don’t believe in evolution

The author of this piece in the Star Tribune this Sunday on his conversion from creationist to evolution “supporter” starts out OK, explaining that his rejection of evolution (in favor of creationism) was caused by his ignorance of the science. But then proceeds to place the blame on the scientific establishment itself for not educating him.

When you look at the amount of information available–websites, books, online lectures, classes–the claim that it was the scientific establishment’s fault for not reaching out to him *personally* rings hollow. Especially when he himself admits that he had regular debates against pro-evolution thinkers, and would smugly (his words) reject their facts out of hand. How much more would he have needed? A personal phone call from the Darwin Society?

I have had discussions and debates with the kind of person the author was before. Here’s a clue: there is no official “scientific establishment” to reach out to them. It’s individuals, people like me, who try to talk reason and facts only to find them rejected out of hand due to pre-existing beliefs. When you close your eyes and cover your own ears, you don’t get to complain about the lack of information after you open your eyes and find the mountains of brochures scattered around you, dropped in frustration by people who have given up talking to you.

I’m glad he’s been through his own personal “evolution” on this matter. But he can only blame himself and the leadership of the organization that promoted his ignorance for their own agenda.

And do yourself a favor and don’t read the comments on the article…

Protection

I understand that the gun issue has reasonable and well-thought out positions on either side. I realize that the Second Amendment, at least to a first degree of interpretation, guarantees the civilian right to own a gun. I understand the need for protection. I say this in order to clarify that this is not a call to outlaw guns, to enact more control or to repeal the Second: those who know me realize my positions, while generally trending liberal, aren’t always predictable in terms of the arguments I recognize or use.

However, in the inevitable outcry over the horrible events in Aurora, I keep hearing an argument I don’t understand: that if only more people in that theater had guns, this wouldn’t have happened, because if the gunman knew that other people in the theater had guns, he would have thought twice about it.

However I can’t understand why anyone would make that argument, in this case. The gunman was wearing tactical body armor. Was he trying to protect himself from bee stings? One wears tactical body armor when one EXPECTS to be shot at. Obviously the thought that someone else in that theater might have a gun DID occur to him, and he clearly expected to be able to survive being shot at long enough to potentially kill them (since that person WOULDN’T have been wearing armor) and continue the massacre.

Let me repeat: I understand a lot of the arguments for and against gun control. I’m not 100% anti- or pro-, so please don’t assume I accept or agree with any of the standard arguments. At best I can say I am conflicted about the position. I don’t intend this to be a general discussion about all the arguments pro- and con-, I am asking about this one position.

A variation on the theme is that MORE gun carriers in the theater would have meant FEWER deaths or injuries… at least those caused by the gunman himself. Perhaps that is the case. But the number would not have been zero, and I ask you how long the average person (even one with the minimal gun training required to carry a weapon these days) would take to assess this situation in the chaos of tear gas, bullets, and screaming people, then identify which of the 100 people waving weapons and firing was the real threat, and then fire enough accurate shots at the gunman to take him out (considering he was wearing tactical body armor).

Long enough, perhaps, that we might be talking about 6 deaths and 30 injured instead of twice that number.

Is that low enough to end the conversation?

And do we really think that all 100 of those people waving guns would be sufficiently trained and rational and calm enough to not accidentally take out several innocent people running in front of their weapons while they fired through the tear gas and smoke? We’d be talking about a different number of dead and wounded, not zero. Knowing some of the people I know who own and carry guns, I would not even be ready to assume it would be fewer than the number with which we ended up.

I would note that this is not by any definition a straw man discussion: the arguments above have been stated repeatedly in the aftermath of the Aurora massacre. Links available if you really need proof.

Let me repeat: I am not a gun control nut, nor am I a Second Amendment nut. My position is best described as uncomfortable with the need for guns in the first place (as we should all be), understanding and in favor of the need in many cases, but VERY skeptical about the vision in which a Utopian peace is guaranteed by knowing everyone around you is carrying a gun. But, to be clear, I have also seen friends of mine–intelligent, otherwise sane people–use their cars recklessly and in ways that endanger lives (including their own) merely over the offense of being cut off in traffic. I have no illusions that they would use their guns less recklessly if given the chance.

So at best, my position is “uncomfortable” or “conflicted”.

But these two argument variations don’t work. Not in general, and DEFINITELY not in this case. I welcome discussion pointing out any nuance of the arguments I am missing.

My heart goes out to the people in Aurora, the people wounded and dead, their families, even the family of the gunman. It was a horrible, horrible event, and I cannot imagine the anguish they are going through, even as I hope that no one I know ever has to experience the same thing.

Even as I know that, very possibly, some of us will.

I’m not offended by the fact that people are rich

I’m not offended by the fact that the Romney’s have money, just as I wasn’t offended that the Kerrys did. I also don’t find it offensive that the President is of the opinion that the marginal tax rates should be different from what they are.

That a tax system allows someone to claim a $77,000 writeoff (over TWICE the median income in the US) for a horse, and then publicly justify said animal as “therapy”, when that person is also opposed to providing taxpayer-funded healthcare to those who can’t afford it?

THAT, I find offensive.

Check out the new MN United digs!

There’s a new South Central MPLS Action Center for MN United for All Families! It’s in the “All God’s Children” church (I know, I know) at 3100 Park Ave S in Minneapolis. First event this weekend, and I know you’ve all been dying to sign up and help with volunteer work, so here’s your opportunity!

There will be training and events practically every day of the week, including canvassing, event, phone recruiting, phone voter contact, neighborhood knocking and training on how to talk to your friends and family about how to defeat the “Limiting Marriage” Amendment in November.

So if you come on Thursdays you’ll be there to get trained (by yours truly) to call on voters and have conversations with them to see where they stand and whether we can persuade them to vote No. And there are plenty of other opportunities and other kinds of volunteer activities too. What do you want to do?

Watch this space, more specifics on dates and details coming soon.