Old man Huckabee comes across as shallow, almost foppish; the kind of guy who might start a bar fight and then run to hide behind the counter.

Some guys trying to sound thoughtfully and intellectually critical make observations that have no depth. Then someone comes along who does homework, makes a legitimate response. Old man Huckabee comes across as shallow, almost foppish; the kind of guy who might start a bar fight and then run to hide behind the counter.

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Rapture Road: The freeway to political and civic ruination.

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Fundamentalism… making sure than actions of mortals have not violated the rules by which heaven and earth are governed … a performance-based religion.

The fundamentalist “cosmology” of heaven has always included an “exclusive-club-with-rules” assumption.  In God’s fundamentalist kingdom, there is some sort of administrative code from which, by which and through which God works his mysteries. God is assisted by note-taking angels making sure than actions of mortals have not violated the rules by which heaven and earth are governed. It’s this supposed administrative code that is the basis for most conformity-driven theology.

When a significant block of such literal-minded religious voters sway an election, what are the consequences by which all citizens must accept? The answer is a life that to a certain degree requires submission to the notion that God is anal-retentive and overly invested in the most minute details of conformity. Such a God is not unlike the leader of a group of ten-year-olds who formed a club and made him president and rule watcher.
Rapture Event

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Truth be told, the divine autocrat beloved of authoritarians is not real. Whatever the great beyond and higher existence looks like, it ain’t that. Churches that encourage belief that heaven is the destiny and reward toward which one directs a life of accumulated accomplishments are known as performance-based religions.

I will tell you why the wisest vote will and should be opposed to candidates and programs espoused by performance-based religions. These believers incorrectly assume that God is in fact a respecter of persons, has favorites and will demonstrate a punitive divine righteousness in support of those who support the tyrant.

In America it is okay that you live by the Constitution and your civic understanding of an organized society. One does not place one’s hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.

Thomas Paine said, “my mind is my own church.” He was opposed by the preachers and authorities of organized religion who refused to accept the notion that a man’s supposedly unorganized mind constituted a better place to worship the Divine than the temples and churches decorated with the accoutrements of someone else’s magic masquerading as true religion.

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The fundamentalist Christian equivalent of the non-religious American Constitution is nothing more than systematic theologies, doctrines and programs that pattern a way of imagining god and god’s reality. Although entirely lacking proof in any physical or spiritual form of such a realm organized after the pattern of 19th-century reality,  a host of early American prophets, evangelists and circuit-riding preachers asserted in creatively imagined and described forms the notion that the ultimate truthfulness of the spirit world is based on performance and worthiness.

This imagined reality, consistently asserted over more than the past two centuries,  is why most believing biblical literalists easily and perhaps without much critical thought –  buy into Church legalism.

It becomes almost second nature to accept the idea of an over-controlling detail-obsessed God who seems much after the pattern of a controlling parent or lover. Uncritically, as an act of faith, devotion and obedience, many sincere believers interact within their circle of belief that humans are so imperfect that God created religion by which that Male Patriarch could – in a loving but domineering manner – thrust into our lives guidelines for living. Such guidelines almost casually become laws or, better said, doctrines “irrevocably decreed” which the children of said God are expected to follow.

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The god-talk reflected the chosen circle as well as the rest of the world imagines a god of guidelines; a deity who demands strict adherence to doctrines and the notion that obedience is elevated at the expense of agency and that the highest spiritual approval in life is nothing more than an experiential pat on the head for being an obedient child.

Almost casually, most believers apparently see no reason to challenge the idea that the God and Father of Obedience placed humanity on the garden earth with something uglier and meaner than a mere request that the children eat no fruit of the wrong tree.

The God and Father of Obedience created a world abundant with the fruits of creative activity. Let’s make a brief and incomplete list of the performances – or in some cases, negative performances – that the children of God are expected to do … or not do …

A performance based religion puts bans on what are perceived to be inappropriate things. These bans become “laws of the Church” which by implication become “Laws of God” which are viewed than as Irrevocably Decreed and upon which a worthiness- obsessed God grants rewards.

In a performance-based-religion, members are banned from inappropriate music, television, movies, books and other literature. Freedom of expression in art, music, and other forms of entertainment are seen as risks that may cause the Father to stop attending the disobedient.

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In a performance-based-religion certain food and drink products are banned and seen as the causes of risks that the Father will stop attending the disobedient.

In a performance-based-religion the Father wands strict adherence to dress and personal appearance codes the rejection of which creates a risk that the Father will stop attending the disobedient.

In a performance-based-religion scriptures become the means and tool that can be utilized to effectively stand in for a lack of contemporary legitimate on-going revelation from the God who started everything eons ago by speaking directly to his children. Scripture then becomes the weapon that confronts those who challenge would-be prophets.

“Pick up the sacred books of your religion, look for passages supporting your values, and adapt them a little to your liking. Then highlight their importance in the overall balance of the religion, and conveniently forget all those other unsavory passages that either downright contradict your values or support behaviors and attitudes that don’t fit with your inclinations. 

Rather than having the guts to admit what they are doing and openly defend their right to pick and choose the passages they want to live their lives by, most people prefer hiding under the fable that their particular take on religion is the only correct one. All other people who put the accent on different messages and values contained in the same scriptures, they claim, are heretics who are twisting the essence of the religion. If this strikes you as intellectually dishonest, it’s because it is.”  -Daniele Bolelli, Alternet

In a performance-based-religion, the very Father of Obedience – who has become in fact a Father of Conformity – does not speak to His church except through the voices of those who declare that the same silent Father has established in this  performance-based-religion the only right means to salvation.

The Father of Conformity either refuses or is unwilling to justify or explain how such an exclusive-means-to-salvation system and circumstance is equally fair and just to every other human being on the planet.

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In a performance-based-religion the Father of Conformity has authorized the use of emotional guilt, intimidation, thought control and coercion to keep members in line. He is also seen as justifying guilt-ridden sermons and lessons designed to push believers into submitting to the authority of the leadership without question or criticism. Failure to respect the leadership creates a risk that the Father will stop attending the disobedient.

In a performance-based-religion the Father of Conformity has authorized the use of the theory that people should spend long hours at the Church and do work in the Church in order to gain rewards in heaven. A bureaucracy has been created at all levels in order to engender, monitor and “lovingly” coerce this sort of working participation which then becomes the standard by which member spirituality is measured and recognized.

The same bureaucracy becomes then a powerful instrument for limiting criticism and dissention through emotional and spiritual abuse by perceived authority and endorsement by the Father of Conformity.

One can make a case the some of those driven off are at least temporarily not prepared to deal with life and society in a manner that is free from long-internalized judgmental and narrow notions.

The gentle but rigid church programming involves and in fact revolves around forms of guilt and coercion. Within the church as well as among those driven off there is a danger of low self-esteem that causes essentially unreasonable reactions to the church itself.

Repentance becomes much more than returning to God, it involves returning to the mind set  from which one has fled in desperation. This is not unlike a battered-wives syndrome where one consciously returns to a life at home with a mean and unrepentant drunk who will continue business as usual.

There is a genuine tragedy when one feels driven off from the clan or out of the tribe  because like an enormous and ominous dark tower, the church rises in the background or even the actual center of the tribal village,  thrusting itself with impunity into the middle of family relationships to which it has no moral or God given right to interfere.

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Members are forced to choose between church and family. The Father of Conformity has said nothing about why this circumstance is a positive fruit by which that Father is known among the children of men. The either-or attitude may only be a perception of those driven off when the rest of the family remains inside the righteous but unseen walls of church conformity, but the church does little or nothing to address that very  family estrangement of which the church and it’s self presentation is the principle cause.

Limited serenity that comes from separation from the direct and immediate sources of emotional pain still feels like something much better than the rigidly inflexible  cauldron of conformity whose principal legacy is misery.

… and of course a false god …

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I am for SOCIAL JUSTICE!! … and if ever there should be justice in this particular venue, THIS IS IT … This is TRULY about family values.

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Want Viagra? Not without a note from wife

“I want to protect these men from themselves,” said Marzian, a nurse.

HB 396 also specifies that only married men may obtain the drug and requires “a man to make a sworn statement with his hand on a Bible that he will only use a prescription for a drug for erectile dysfunction when having sexual relations with his current spouse.”

“This is about family values,” Marzian said.

T’was the Sunday Before Christmas when all thru the American House

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To those who insist that America is – regardless of its cultural diversity – a “Christian Nation,” those core values must then logically be directly connected to Christ’s teachings.

In previous articles I have contrasted the fundamentals of those teachings with the sort of theological rationale we have heard from the self-appointed movers and shakers of right-wing Christian politics.

Jesus won’t go away on this one.

In the same sense that political leaders and parties do not have a monopoly on defining patriotism in this country, neither do the biggest mouths and loudest voices have a monopoly on what constitutes Christian thinking, doctrine and beliefs in America.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Teresa Whitehurst …

You can’t argue a person out of his or her identity. As most of us have learned the hard way, you should never try to convince a Republican that he’s a Democrat, a pacifist that she’s pro-war, or a hard worker that he’s a lazy bum … ‘I can surrender my opinions if your argument is effective and I’m in a receptive mood, but I’ll fight to the death for my identity.’

This is what we must keep in mind about Trump supporters: they may seem indifferent to suffering and uninterested in the facts, but what really prevents them from hearing what we assert when we disagree with them is fear – the fear of losing their manufactured identity, not to mention the fear of having become part of a serious electoral mistake.

Everywhere they look, they seem to project a sense of fear-driven anger, almost mindless in its imagined reality. Once having chosen to be a Trumpist, there seems to be then a real fear of being challenged.

Why? Simply put, those who committed their votes put themselves at risk of straying from the Trumpist herd and thereby suffering rejection, even hatred, from others if challenged.

I would also propose that this unfortunate circumstance is not primarily the fault of Donald Trump. No, someone else is at fault for this circumstance where the rugged idealistic American – possessor of ethical and moral goodness –  “has been transformed … to a fearful child who’s willing to apply peer pressure to silence critics (even those in his or her own family) in order to avoid personal and collective punishment” [Whitehurst].

Candidate Trump capitalized on that circumstance and therein lies the real fault – but not solely the fault of Trump.

That “someone else” includes all those who years ago decided that rendering unto Caesar and rendering unto God should become one and the same. Entry into the political process began with preaching at first. But then – with popularity exploding into the notoriety – coercion through fear, shame and guilt has put before us self-constructed images of righteous crusading knights slaying dragons of evil.

Now these Shameless High Priests insist that they speak for all of us. Many let them do it at the price of their own spiritual integrity. In this regard, personal religion has been dragged out from the personal to the public for all of us whether we like it or not. Attempt to discuss religion and the old adage about not talking about religion and politics is brought forth as a shield to protect the sheep who have voted to look the other way while Jesus has been co-opted as a political bumper sticker.

Christian Crusaders historically were never heroic, not so long as they fought military battles in the name of Christ, thrusting with spear and sword through the bodies of men, women and children – all the time pretending to themselves that they believed their religious leaders who insisted that God approved.

There is nothing heroic in these current times about hiding in congregations and voting as a block according to demagoguery where the pseudo-Christian generals out front make mountains out of moral molehills. That is not the courage of conviction, not the courage of Christ, not the courage of the martyrs killed by Roman persecution nor the courage of the victims of inquisitions.

It is the ignorant moral cowardice of the Salem witch trials, gay and minority-bashing by sons and daughters of American Christian parents who for too long failed to teach the gospel of peace because they themselves perhaps were not taught it.

It is the cowardly righteous indignation that behaves as if abortion, gay-rights, school prayer, and a “war” on Christmas are all more vital to the pursuit of goodness in humanity than any prayerful study of Sermons on Mounts, Good Samaritans, Prodigal Sons and “neither do I condemn you, go your way and sin no more.”

Fear and cowardice are not the same things except when fear leads to cowardice.

Which is the harder choice?

It’s tortuous work attempting a life of quiet desperation and the uneasy conscious-stricken restlessness of having to look the other way as one’s identity gets grouped among those responsible for war, murder and human destruction. Or having to actively, mentally and spiritually question the integrity of one’s identity in order to keep it sanctified?

You don’t have to be a theological scholar to understand the depth of moral shame and anti-Christ behavior to which many American Christians have given their assent. If you must leave a congregation that leaves you uneasy inside then leave it. There are still lilies in the field arrayed in all their glory. Christianity remains at its most powerful in the individual conscience-informed life …

and at it’s weakest and most harmful in the blind submissive behavior of massed Christian irrational anger.

There is a better way – the oldest Way.

Well, looks like Genrul O’Reilly of the Fox Brigade has a new commander in chief for the War on You-Know-What.

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Get ready … it’s November and the Winds of War will probably start blow-harding any time now.

Trump rallies the faithful against the ‘war on Christmas’

It’s beginning to look a lot like the war on Christmas.

Or rather, the annual controversy — inspired by the 2005 book “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought” — about whether or not there is such a thing.

President-elect Donald Trump, in his postelection victory tour, is casting himself as the protector of the celebration — or, at least, the traditional greeting associated with it. “When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we’re going to come back here someday and we are going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump said on Tuesday. “Merry Christmas — so, Merry Christmas, everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas.”

Advice … Don’t vote with your mind asleep

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Good heavens. You heard his promises. You bought his koolaid. You voted for him. Why the hell are you all afraidy and calling Planned Parenthood now?

THE RIGHT WING Shocked Trump Voters Are Calling Planned Parenthood Apparently, they had no idea they might lose their access to health care.

“Mike Pence unfortunately has said he would end that access to care… I run into women every single day who say, ‘You know that Planned Parenthood is the place I go for my annual exam; I don’t know where we’d go without you.'”

And while the battle to defund Planned Parenthood is heavily partisan, the organization’s clients are not.

“The women who come to Planned Parenthood, they are Republicans, they’re Democrats, they’re Trump voters. These are women who had no idea that their health care access was at stake,” Richards noted.

One week before the election, a Politico poll showed that, unlike Republicans in Congress, Trump voters predominantly support federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

“We’re seeing this as women are calling us and saying, ‘I voted for Donald Trump, but I had no idea I might lose my access to health care’; that’s the point we’re going to be making,” Richards explained.