Posts Tagged “tea party”

Jesus weptWhen I heard Bill O’Reilly, Fox News’s screaming, tantrum-throwing prime-time gadlfy, was writing a book about the life and death of Jesus Christ, I groaned inside. Lots of people over the years have attempted to write about the historicity of Jesus, so it’s not as though the topic has never been handled. I’ve read a lot of those books, and most of them are poor attempts at historiography. Based upon reviews of Billy’s book I’ve seen, by scholars like Candida Moss, the Fox News host’s effort is no exception.

O’Reilly’s contention is that Jesus was killed, because … <drumroll please> … he objected to Roman taxation.

That’s right, folks. Billy-boy’s Jesus was a first-century tax protester, ergo he was killed.

Think about that for a moment. Just stop, and think about it. For a moment.

There’s a very simple and very obvious problem with this claim. It shouldn’t take most Americans long to come up with it.

Go ahead. Stop. Think. I’m sure it will come to you.

In case you haven’t got it by now, I’ll explain: According to the gospels (well, three of them anyway!), Jesus was clearly, explicitly, and specifically not a tax protester! Allow me to quote from the Billster’s own Catholic Bible:

Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” When they heard this they were amazed, and leaving him they went away. (Mt 22:15-22)

They sent some Pharisees and Herodians to him to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?” Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.’ They were utterly amazed at him. (Mk 12:13-17)

They watched him closely and sent agents pretending to be righteous who were to trap him in speech, in order to hand him over to the authority and power of the governor. They posed this question to him, “Teacher, we know that what you say and teach is correct, and you show no partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful for us to pay tribute to Caesar or not?” Recognizing their craftiness he said to them, “Show me a denarius; whose image and name does it bear?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” So he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were unable to trap him by something he might say before the people, and so amazed were they at his reply that they fell silent. (Lk 20:20-26)

Given that Jesus was reported by three gospels to have said this, how can anyone rationally conclude that Jesus objected to the Romans’ taxation? Clearly, he did not! The Billster’s effort to turn Jesus Christ into a classical-era prototype teabagger is laughable, transparent, absurd, and — perhaps most importantly — directly contradicts what Christian legend tells us about Jesus.

Before anyone asks … no, I haven’t read O’Reilly’s book. And no, I have no plans ever to read it. (The same goes for Reza Aslan’s book that I blogged about back in July.) I’ve long since soured on books that claim to dig into the life of Jesus as a historical topic. Almost invariably those books have nothing to do with “history”; truthfully, most of their authors are not interested in “history” in the first place. All they’re doing is selling their own ideas about Jesus by cloaking them behind the claim of being “historical.” Unfortunately, the actual historicity of Jesus is more elusive than most people, including scholars, will admit. Barring some kind of discovery that sheds new light on the matter, that’s the way it’s going to stay. Centuries of Christian legends, history revision, myth-making, and trampling of the historical record, have made sure of it.

P.S. If you really feel the need to read about books that examine the historicity of Jesus, I suggest starting at the beginning of that contemporary effort, and read The Quest of the Historical Jesus by Albert Schweitzer (yes, that Albert Schweitzer, the famous philanthropist-physician … he’d been an accomplished theologian before embarking on a career in medicine). Although I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, nor do most other scholars, his book got the ball rolling, and that alone makes it seminal. For a more recent work on the subject, I suggest Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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'No God in beer commercial? We win!' / Courtesy of Meme Generator (URL: http://memegenerator.co/instance/39502527)For the last month or so, the folks who make Sam Adams beers have been running a July 4th seasonal commercial that hearkens back to its namesake’s era. But as the Raw Story reports, some Christofascists on a Fox News show blustered and fumed because — heaven forbid! — the commercial didn’t mention God (WebCite cached article):

A Fox News guest host asserted on Friday that “the terrorists have won” because brewer Samuel Adams was not in invoking God in its television commercials to sell beer.

In the “Independence” television spot that began airing last month, an actor in a Samuel Adams Boston Lager commercial quotes from the Declaration of Independence.

“Why name a beer after Samuel Adams? Because Samuel Adams signed the Declaration of Independence,” the actor says. “He believed there was a better way to live: all men are created equal. They are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Smooth, flavorful, we bow to no kings. Samuel Adams Boston lager: declare your independence.”

On Friday, the three Fox & Friends guest hosts expressed outrage that the brewer had not included the phrase “endowed by their Creator” in the commercial.

Here’s the commercial that Fox News is furious about, courtesy of Youtube:

That’s right, it’s horrific that the brewers of Sam Adams failed to fully quote the Declaration of Independence so as to include its mention of God. One of the jabbering fools on the show, Bill O’Reilly producer Jesse Watters, knows what’s really going on here:

“When political correctness takes over the beer advertising industry, the terrorists have won,” said Watters, who is better known for his job as a producer on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show. “I mean, this is absolutely outrageous!”

“You know, maybe it’s because Sam Adams was the tea party guy — he started the Boston Tea Party — maybe the tea party’s being targeted here,” he added.

Yes, that’s right. This God-defying abomination occurred because “political correctness” has taken over the brewing industry and handed “the terrorists” a “win” … and fired a vicious salvo at the Teabaggers as well as at the memory of the original Samuel Adams.

I can’t think of any better way for the cast and crew of Fox & Friends to celebrate the nation’s birthday, than to have uncovered this horrific conspiracy and exposed the Boston Beer Company as nefarious agents of the Evil Godless Leftist Terrorist conspiracy. I know what I’m doing about this … I’m stocking up on Sam Adams beers!

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

Photo credit: Meme Generator.

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Stop and ThinkYesterday I blogged about Indiana’s Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s claim that rape-pregnancies are “something that God intended to happen.” In the wake of the understandable shitstorm this kicked up, Mourdock claimed he hadn’t said what he clearly had said, and whined that he was being criticized. It’s true that some Christians — including GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney — disavowed Mourdock’s statement, but some are actively defending the guy. For example, we have this piece from Christianity Today (WebCite cached article):

According to CBS News and a number of other outlets, last night Republican candidate for an Indiana U.S. Senate seat Richard Mourdock suggested that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”…

Then again, it may be even more “disrespectful to the survivors of rape” to fail to tell them about the wondrous redeeming power of God, even in the most horrible circumstances.

Actually, yes, it would in fact be exceedingly “disrespectful to the survivors of rape” to tell them, “It’s OK, God is great, so everything is fine!” Or, “You were raped and are now pregnant? What a wonderful gift God gave you, you must be so thrilled!” Would it be appropriate to say anything like this? What if the situation weren’t a rape or rape-pregnancy, but something else … say, losing a child in an auto accident, getting a diagnosis of terminal cancer, or having one’s home wiped out in a wildfire? Do Christians really think it helps anyone dealing with any of these situations to tell them that whatever happened to them is OK because God is still around? Is it in any way “respectful” to them?

Of course it’s not. What’s more, Christians know it! Any Christian who says it would be appropriate, is lying.

Of course this is not the first time a Christianist’s idiotic or reprehensible statement is defended by other Christianists. Back when Marion “Pat” Robertson declared that the Haiti earthquake had happened because Haiti had been cursed, he had no small number of fellow Christians defending him.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Christianist tribalism … where nothing any Christian says is ever out of bounds, and where everything a Christian says is rationalized and justified, no matter how horrid or untrue it is. These people just can’t help themselves. The idea that a fellow Christian could have done something wrong, is an admission they cannot and will not ever make. Theirs is a harsh black-&-white world, one in which it’s them against everyone else, where “the Enemy” will revel in their every misstep, thus they defend their fellow Christians at all costs, because they can’t abide the idea that “the Enemy” might get an occasional “win” now and then. It’s all very irrational and even childish … but hey, what can you expect?

What this really shows us, is that these people have no integrity or character. They can blather on all they want about their morality and ethics and how their belief in God makes them great people — but they have no reservations about defending the indefensible whenever they need to in order to protect one of their own. If they did have any integrity, they’d have been willing to say, “Mr Mourdock was out of line. His words are unacceptable and I will not defend them, or him. Until he atones for what he’s said and offers a contrite, sincere apology, we will have nothing more to do with him.” It can’t damage them to say something like this, even though they think it will kill them. That’s because fierce religionists don’t have any integrity, nor do they have the courage to admit one of their own might have been wrong. They just have their primitive, reflexive tribal instinct.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: mikmikko, via Flickr.

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And Jesus WeptThe number of Religious Rightist candidates making idiotic, Puritanical declarations that expose them as hateful misogynists just keeps growing. First we had Todd Akin of Missouri, then Joe Walsh of Illinois. Now, as NBC News reports, it’s a candidate from Indiana, Richard Mourdock, who’s running for U.S. Senate, likewise exposing the R.R.’s irrational hatred of women (WebCite cached article):

Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Indiana, said in a debate on Tuesday that “even when life begins with that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.” …

“The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother,” Mourdock said. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God intended to happen.”

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to deflect Mourdock’s spew:

Romney, who on Monday launched statewide ads endorsing Mourdock, distanced himself on Tuesday from the remark by his fellow Republican. “Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

But really, how far can the guy go to get away from this? Mourdock wouldn’t have made this kind of statement if he didn’t think lots of Republican voters — whom Romney also represents — also believed it.

Mourdock isn’t apologizing for his comment, even though Romney dealt him that mild, implied slap:

Mourdock issued a statement after the debate that said: “God creates life, and that was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick.”

No, Mr Mourdock. Your critics are not “absurd and sick.” You — and the sanctimoniously-enraged Religious Right whom you appeal to — are the ones who are “absurd and sick.” You cannot simultaneously declare that rape “is something God intended to happen,” then later claim it’s “a horrible thing.” According to your own Abrahamic tradition, your God is benevolent and only capable of doing good. This means that, if he has willed something to happen, then by this definition it cannot be “a horrible thing.” Moreover, when you state that rape-pregnancy “is something God intended to happen” then you absofuckinglutely are stating that God truly does “want rape.” The logic of your statement doesn’t work any other way. So Mr Mourdock … give your fucking juvenile indignation a rest already, and take responsibility for your own fucking words. No one shoved them down your throat and forced you to say them. You came up with them all by yourself. Bellyaching that people have criticized you for having said them, is childish. Man up, grow up, and stop with your crybaby whining.

Note, this is not the first time I’ve heard from believers that rape, or rape-pregnancy, are “God’s will.” Military chaplains have made this claim, too.

Photo credit: Termin8er, via Flickr.

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Glenn Beck Calls Obama a Dictator - Crying for LibertyThings apparently haven’t been looking too good for America’s favorite paranoid schizophrenic. Glenn Beck’s radio show is no longer aired on a number of stations, including WOR in New York and WDRC in Hartford, as I blogged just a short while ago. And now, Fox News has dropped his daily television show. The New York Times reports on what was behind this parting-of-the-ways (WebCite cached article):

The negotiations that led Glenn Beck to announce his departure from the Fox News Channel on Wednesday ended with an expression of “let’s part as friends,” according to several people with knowledge of the talks. But behind that moment was a torrent of acrimony that underscored just how fractious the relationship between Mr. Beck and the network had become during his three-year run on Fox. …

Notably, Mr. Beck became a daily broadcast platform for a libertarian strain of politics that is also evident in the Tea Party, a movement he embraced. Critics loudly condemned him for living with his own facts — but that only seemed to widen the conspiracy that he outlined each night, aided by a growing number of chalkboards in his studio.

But at that studio, he was unhappy from almost his first day on the job, which happened to be the day before Mr. Obama was inaugurated. Even in his first year, he was contemplating an exit from Fox and wondering if he could start his own channel.

In Glenn Beck’s world, you see, everything is all about “Glenn Beck” and to hell with everyone else — including the television network that hired him, aired his idiotic, insane drivel night after night, and even stuck up for him in the wake of criticism and an advertiser boycott:

As onerous as [the boycott] might have been to Fox financially, it did not seem to be an issue for Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of the News Corporation. In two recent comments to shareholders, Mr. Murdoch defended Mr. Beck. He said of the advertiser boycott, “They don’t boycott watching it. We’re getting incredible numbers.” He followed that by pointing out that even with his diminished ratings, Mr. Beck’s show provided a “terrific kickoff” to the lineup of Fox shows that followed.

Even so, it appears sliding ratings were the reason Fox News decided it wanted to be free of the egotistical Beck.

The problem is, I shudder to think what sort of lying liar for Jesus Fox News is going to scare up and put on their soon-to-be-vacated 5 p.m. Eastern Time slot.

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Don't tell us the F.F.s owned slaves (based on Gadsden flag, Don't tread on us)Tea Partiers in the great state of Tennessee have decided — as the militant Christianists in Texas have already done — that schools aren’t teaching history correctly. The Memphis, TN Commercial Appeal reports on a list of demands they’ve made of their state legislature (WebCite cached article):

Members of Tennessee tea parties presented state legislators with five priorities for action Wednesday, including “rejecting” the federal health reform act, establishing an elected “chief litigator” for the state and “educating students the truth about America.”

Railing and caterwauling about healthcare reform is, of course, standard fare among tea partiers. And whining about state litigation is, too. Neither of these really is unexpected or novel, then, in light of what the tea partiers have already been doing. What’s alarming is what they demand be done in the TN’s public schools:

Regarding education, the material they distributed said, “Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.” …

The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

TN’s tea partiers, then, don’t want to hear about anything bad about the Founding Fathers. And they don’t want their kids to have to study about those “minorities.” Their complaint is based on their own perceptions about how American history is being taught:

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.

“The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,” said Rounds, whose website identifies him as a Vietnam War veteran of the Air Force and FedEx retiree who became a lawyer in 1995.

The problem, of course, is that every school in the country already teaches that the F.F.s were “revolutionaries” and that they promoted their own vision of liberty. Their revolutionary nature is clearly implied, for instance, in calling the U.S. war for independence as “the American Revolution.” Moreover, mentioning that the F.F.s owned slaves, does absolutely nothing to change that. To teach both the good and the bad about the F.F.s is not wrong — if anything it’s the right thing to do.

TN’s tea partiers are trying to set up something of a “Founding Father cult” in which the F.F.s end up being venerated as saints or worshipped as demigods … bigger than life, having lived perfect lives, virtuous beyond compare. This flies in the face of reality, however; we all know that no human being is perfect, not even the F.F.s, and to suggest they were perfect, does both them and TN’s school children a disservice.

Also, the choice to do make this demand just before Martin Luther King’s birthday may be coincidental, or it might have been an intended slap at the Martin Luther King Day holiday, a frequent target of complaints about “political correctness.” I just don’t know.

It’s time for tea partiers to fucking grow up for the first time in their lives and stop screaming and wailing that history isn’t what they demand it was.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith blog.

Photo credit: My own modified version of the Gadsden flag, from Wikimedia Commons.

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Glenn BeckAfter his pledge to destroy Jim Wallis over the issue of Christianity and “social justice” fizzled like old ginger ale, Glenn Beck has decided to take on another one of his old foes: George Soros. Soros, you see, leads a “shadow government” in the US and has been the puppet master of the country for years. He’s a Communist who rules the Democratic Party, and now the country, with an iron fist. (Forget for a moment that, for long stretches during the 80s, 90s, and 00s, we’ve had Republicans in charge — at various times and in various combinations, including all three at once — of the House, the Senate, and the White House. So it’s pretty hard to see how the Democratic Party’s “puppet master” could have been running the country for so long.) He recently ran what he considers an exposé of Soros, which, as the New York Times Lede blog revealed, included some stretches of the truth as well as some outright lies (WebCite cached article):

In his indictment of Mr. Soros this week, what Mr. Beck did not say about the list of governments he claimed the philanthropist had helped to topple was striking. Before naming America as Mr. Soros’s next “target,” Mr. Beck ominously intoned:

Soros has helped fund the ‘Velvet Revolution’ in the Czech Republic, the “Orange Revolution” in the Ukraine, the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia. He also helped to engineer coups in Slovakia, Croatia and Yugoslavia.

What Mr. Beck failed to mention is that in each of the countries he named, Mr. Soros in fact provided support to popular pro-democracy groups battling repressive regimes led by Communist or former Communist autocrats. The Fox host also seemed confused about some of the events he described in those nations.

To start with, the mass street protests led by the Czech playwright Vaclav Havel in 1989 that brought down Prague’s Communist regime took place in what was still Czechoslovakia, not the Czech Republic, which did not exist at the time.

There were also no coups in Slovakia, Croatia or Yugoslavia. Slovakia was created by the so-called “velvet divorce” [cached], the peaceful dissolution of the federal state of Czechoslovakia by democratically-elected leaders in 1993; Croatia’s wartime president, Franjo Tudjman, an authoritarian former Communist general, died in office [cached] in 1999 and was replaced by a former member of his party after a democratic election; Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav leader who was most responsible for the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that killed tens of thousands in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, resigned in 2000 [cached], following street protests after his loss in a democratic election.

Thus, if one looked only at Soros’s activities during the late 80s and early 90s, one would have to assume him to have been a vehement anti-communist, rather than the devout Marxist Beckie-boy tells us he is.

And while it is true that George Soros does bankroll a lot of Democratic Party operations and Leftist groups, the Times shows he doesn’t leave the Right untouched by his money:

The Fox News host also made no mention in his program of the fact — first reported by Justin Elliott of Salon on Friday — that Mr. Soros has paid more than $150,000 to Randy Scheunemann, a Republican lobbyist who is a senior adviser to Sarah Palin, to press Congress and the White House to keep sanctions in place against Myanmar’s military junta and promote a resolution “calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” whose party won the last free elections held in the country.

The Times goes on to say that Beckie-boy’s rhetoric is eerily similar to that of the Islamofascist regime of Iran:

Oddly, Mr. Beck’s conspiratorial reading of the recent history of Eastern Europe puts him in complete agreement with Iran’s intelligence ministry, which for years has been working to discredit the country’s reformist leaders and their calls for fair elections as the puppets of foreign plotters. …

Mr. Khatami called the allegation absurd, but, as The Lede explained in a post on “Iran’s Fear of a ‘Velvet Revolution’” [cached], Iran’s intelligence service seems to be obsessed with Mr. Soros.

What’s more, other commenters on Beckie-boy’s “exposé” of Soros have noted more than a whiff of anti-Semitism within it, among them Michelle Goldberg at the Daily Beast (cached article):

Anti-Semitism, like all ideologies, tells a story about the world. It’s a story about almost occult Jewish power, about cabals that manipulate world events for their own gain. In classic anti-Semitic narratives, Jews control both the elites and the masses; they’re responsible for the communist revolution and the speculative excesses of capitalism. Their goal is to undermine society so that they can take over. …

If you know this history, you’ll understand why Glenn Beck’s two-part “exposé” on George Soros, whom Beck calls “The Puppet Master,” was so shocking, even by Beck’s degraded standards. The program, which aired Tuesday and Wednesday, was a symphony of anti-Semitic dog-whistles. …

Soros, a billionaire financier and patron of liberal causes, has long been an object of hatred on the right. But Beck went beyond demonizing him; he cast him as the protagonist in an updated Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He described Soros as the most powerful man on earth, the creator of a “shadow government” that manipulates regimes and currencies for its own enrichment. Obama is his “puppet,” Beck says. Soros has even “infiltrated the churches.” He foments social unrest and economic distress so he can bring down governments, all for his own financial gain. “Four times before,” Beck warned. “We’ll be number five.”

Now, for the record, I do not believe Glenn Beck is an anti-Semite. And that’s not just because I believe Fox News’s denials of it, or because Beck claims he’s a supporter of Israel. No, it’s because I think he hates Soros so vehemently and so passionately, that he will stoop to nothing, including using Protocols of the Elders of Zion-type claims against him, in his campaign to destroy Soros. He’s so driven by hatred, that he simply doesn’t care that he’s using traditional anti-Semitic rhetoric against a Jewish survivor of the Third Reich.

Two final points: I’m not a fan of George Soros myself. He supports the ideological Left too much for my taste; I consider Americans’ thralldom to ideology of any sort to be counter-productive if not dangerous, and Soros is as responsible for this as anyone else at the moment.

And lastly … I’d like to point out that Glenn Beck, and the “Tea Party” movement of which he is a core part, is itself the product of secretive ideological philanthropists; David and Charles Koch, to be exact (cached article). Beck is very much an officer in their army, if not its Field Marshall. Presumably he has no problem with the Koch brothers’ own large, “shadow” ideological apparatus (seen as how Beckie happily does their bidding); yet he points an accusing finger at another ideological philanthropist. How dare he! What a fucking hypocrite. Glennie, haven’t you read your Bible recently? You must have missed the parts of it where your own Jesus instructed you never to be hypocritical … ever … not for any reason. He said it clearly, unambiguously, and offered no caveats or exceptions to this rule. Christians such as yourself, Glenn, must never be hypocritical. That’s just the way it is.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.

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