Monday, November 23, 2009

Humor beats Ideology

As a semi-pacifist, I know that violence is wrong, even more so when used to threaten schoolchildren. Jon Stewart just makes it so darn funny though (skip to 1:53 on the video):

This Thanksgiving, I remain thankful for Jon Stewart.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Charting the jokes

I've become addicted to GraphJam, where people make jokes via graphs and charts. 

For example:

song chart memes

They are funny because they are true:
song chart memes

song chart memes

My all-time favorite:

song chart memes

Friday, November 06, 2009

Government health care to the rescue

Amidst all the crazy at Michelle Bachman's GOP teabag party on the Capitol this week, Dana Milbank noted one bit of irony during the proceedings.  After displaying signs like this:

and, among other things, decrying government health care as more dangerous than terrorists and suggesting that Congress should be waterboarded, this happened:

More ominously, a man standing just beyond the TV cameras apparently suffered a heart attack 20 minutes after event began. Medical personnel from the Capitol physician's office -- an entity that could, quite accurately, be labeled government-run health care -- rushed over, attaching electrodes to his chest and giving him oxygen and an IV drip.

This turned into an unwanted visual for the speakers, as a D.C. ambulance and firetruck, lights flashing, pulled in just behind the lawmakers. A path was made through the media section, and the patient, attended to by about 10 government medical personnel, was being wheeled away on a stretcher just as House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) stepped to the microphone. "Join us in defeating Pelosi care!" he exhorted. A few members stole a glance at the stretcher. Boehner may have been distracted as well. He told the crowd he would read from the Constitution, then read the "we hold these truths" bit from the Declaration of Independence.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Good Ol' Fashioned Book Burning

At some point, you have to admire a person's commitment to intolerance.

Sure, it's easy to condemn Brian McLaren and Shane Claiborne. After all, they have expansive views on Christian responsibility and don't condemn other religions.  And burning a pile of rock, rap and heavy metal records is just a cliche at this point.

All that is sissy stuff for Marc Grizzard, pastor of Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Waynesville, NC.  Their book-burning this past Halloween was the good old-fashioned kind.

Included was pretty much all music that is not sung in church to the glory of God, since it is all considered Satanic by AGBC.  The usual suspects were of course included, but they also burned country, pop, soft & easy, western, soul, jazz, southern gospel (including The Anchormen, because they performed at Dollywood, whose owner was in a movie called the "The Best Little Whore House in Texas"), contemporary christian (too popular and secular for their tastes, including Amy Grant, who once gave an interview to a Catholic magazine), and some category called "oldies but goldies," left unexplained.

Of course, you can't have a book burning without the books. Unsurprisingly, books by McLaren and Claiborne make the list. More surprising are books by Franklin Graham (soft on rock music), Mother Teresa (Catholic),  James Dobson (because Dobson is friends with Glenn Beck, who curses, and you are supposed to shun people who curse, which saddens him, because Glenn Beck's heart is in the right place), Rick Warren (who knows -- I stopped reading) and hundreds of other name-brand Christians.

However, their Pièce de résistance, the cherry on their ice cream sundae of purity, is their burning of Bibles.  Like many, they believe the King James translation to be the real deal.  Unlike others, they believe any other English translation of the Bible is a perversion, and needs to be burned.  Their list of perversions is quite long -- basically any Bible that is not the King James. Lest you think their intolerance is crazy, however, note that they do accept different versions of the King James, and also Bibles written in other languages.

Not reported was whether any witches were discovered in their midst, or whether there are plans for some kind of crusade to retake the holy land from the heretics who currently occupy it.

So, Poe's law strikes again, given that it is impossible to parody Amazing Grace Baptist Church.  I was once again fooled, as I thought for certain this was a parody when I first heard about it.

I'm probably making too much of this, given that the church only has 14 members.  On the other hand, they keep getting emails from people who agree with them.

I guess the only thing to say to Amazing Grace Baptist Church is: Congratulations.  The attention they are getting far outdistances their numbers or their influence, for now. Their commitment to intolerance should inspire us all, hopefully to a commitment to something other than intolerance.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Romans 13 in American Discourse

Romans 13:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement.

Although I heard this passage quoted almost continually during the Bush era, I've not heard it lately.  In fact, I have noticed a certain pattern regarding Romans 13 and public discourse over the last 30 years:

Conclusion: Sometimes, Romans 13 is relevant to American politics and sometimes it isn't. Once we find the right correlation, we can predict when it will be relevant again.