Archive for July, 2012
Yes, black people are still second-class citizens in some pockets of the nation: Black wedding banned by Baptist church
Here’s an excerpt:
CRYSTAL SPRINGS, MS (WLBT) – It was to be their big day, but a Jackson couple says the church where they were planning to wed turned them away because of their race.
Now, the couple wants answers, and the church’s pastor is questioning the mindset of some of members of his congregation who caused the problem in the first place.
They had set the date and printed and mailed out all the invitations, but the day before wedding bells were to ring for Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson, they say they got some bad news from the pastor.
“The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if he went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church,” said Charles Wilson.
The Wilsons were trying to get married at the predominantly white First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs – a church they attend regularly, but are not members of.
“He had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple,” said Te’Andrea Wilson. ”I didn’t like it at all, because I wasn’t brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody.”
The church’s pastor, Dr. Stan Weatherford, says he was taken by surprise by what he calls a small minority against the black marriage at the church.
“This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that,” said Weatherford.
Weatherford went on and performed the wedding at a nearby church. …
Kudos to the pastor for performing the ceremony elsewhere, I guess, but how do you go back to your hateful congregation members after that ugly episode?
Another tragedy, more crazy talk to boot. Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee recently said America’s “sin problem” was behind the Aurora movie theater shooting, while Rep. Louie Gohmert has said the nation was no longer under God’s “protective hand.”
Dwight Longenecker, a Catholic priest in my native South Carolina said recently on his blog that Satan could be behind James Holmes’ recent rampage in the Aurora movie theater shooting. Longenecker wrote:
… Was he demon possessed? Maybe. It happens.
Demonic infestation is a rare, strange and terrible psycho-spiritual affliction. In simple terms, a malevolent, separate intelligence infests the mind and spirit of a person. It takes over the rational faculties and dominates the personality. The phenomenon is real, but anyone who has ever dealt with the problem realizes that the demonic realm is complex. The human person is an intricate organism in which the physical, mental and spiritual aspects are totally interwoven. Therefore, in most cases, trying to diagnose the possibility of demonic influence is extremely difficult.
This is because, in theory, demonic influence in a personality can exist on several different levels. Experts disagree about the terminology and extent of the diabolical influence, and in this arcane discipline, for reasons that will become clear, there are few set rules or guidelines. However, some levels of demonic involvement can be observed.
Longenecker goes on to identify four “levels” of demonic influence, which begin at temptation and then devolve into obsession with a certain “sin.” The third level is “infestation.” At this level, the demon becomes entangled — or whatever — inside the spirit of the host:
When the signs of preternatural strength are seen, horrible alien voices come from the person, vile blasphemies are heard and perverted and violent actions are witnessed, one can be fairly sure that a demonic infestation is happening. However, many of these symptoms may also be signs of a deep mental or spiritual illness which is not demonic in origin.
Of course, we aren’t told how we are to determine the difference between “demonic infestation” and mere mental illness. The final level is possession, in which the spirit “hides within the personality rather like a parasite.” The actual exorcist at this point is in a kind of no-man’s-land between reality and the spiritual knife edge, as Longenecker describes it:
In analyzing these levels of demonic influence, one must remember that each level builds on the former and there may be no sequence, predictability or diagnostic tests. In dealing with the interface between the paranormal realm and the complexities of the human person, the exorcist often feels like he is walking blindfolded through a minefield set in quicksand. He is wrestling with a pool of oily octopuses. He is on the edge of chaos where there is no foothold.
Here, Longenecker, possibly realizing that not even he believes his own hot garbage, softens his tone and begins using the more typical and blanket term, “evil,” to describe what Holmes may or may not have experienced:
Is James Holmes demon possessed? It is impossible to say without a detailed diagnosis. Even then, it is a slippery question. We are dealing with a reality that is rubbery. In many ways this is the wrong question. Better to ask, “Was James Holmes taken over by Evil?”
“Evil” is capitalized here, of course, because Longenecker wants people think that he is still talking about the concept as the personification of the devil or demonic spirits, and again, we are given no explanation as to what this “detailed diagnosis” involves, other than to reference a friend whom he said was an exorcist:
A friend of mine who is an exorcist says this is why the ministry of exorcism is so exhausting and grueling—because the demons constantly lie. Whenever evil is manifested, it wears a mask. The evil ones squirm and hide. They flatter one moment and hiss with rage the next. They are one moment obsequious and aggressive the next. Because they are liars, reason and trust can find no grasp. Pure Evil is random, violent and unpredictable.
Longenecker then notes that “Evil” is “mindless” and that all we helpless humans can do is gaze on it with “fascinated horror.” Now, if “evil” is mindless, then how is there a demon behind this dark cloak? I thought Satan was a cagey, intelligent creature, as presumably are his minions as well if they have been smart enough to somehow outfox Yahweh all these thousands of years. Further, for all the “horror” that the Aurora shooting does represent, I find it hard to view the deaths of 12 people as anything but fascinating, no matter if some “spiritual” force was behind it or not.
Longenecker ends with some rather lame truisms about love (He capitalizes it, again personifying a wholly secular feeling) conquers darkness and that love (“Love”) was the force that drove three people to shield their loves ones in the shooting, saying nothing of selflessness or courage. Well, I hate to break it to Longenecker, but if God is “Love,” as Christianity teaches, then God himself failed where those three heroic humans did not.
As if I needed more books that I may never get around to reading:
The literature anthology at the top and “Perspective on Culture” were in the free bin. The others were no more than $4 apiece. Thank you, McKay Used Books, CDs, Movies, & More, and of course, my obscure reading tastes.
This graphic shows part of the estimated $21 trillion in assets that is being funneled through other parts of the world by the rich in order to take advantage of lax tax codes in other nations or to dodge paying taxes in their native countries altogether:
According to this article from The Guardian:
… some experts believe the amount of assets being held offshore is so large that accounting for it fully would radically alter the balance of financial power between countries. The French economist Thomas Piketty, an expert on inequality who helps compile the World Top Incomes Database, says research by his colleagues has shown that “the wealth held in tax havens is probably sufficiently substantial to turn Europe into a very large net creditor with respect to the rest of the world.”
In other words, even a solution to the eurozone’s seemingly endless sovereign debt crisis might be within reach – if only Europe’s governments could get a grip on the wallets of their own wealthiest citizens.
It’s both shocking and disconcerting to think about how much of that potential tax money could be used to improve the lives of the poor, boost education, create new infrastructure and support life-saving research, all so the super rich can stroke their massive egos and satiate their near limitless greed.
And yes, the two words in the headline are synonyms:
Greta Christina has a post up about her experiences from a recent Secular Student Alliance conference. During a portion of the event, participants sat at different tables, at which they discussed various topics as they related to the atheist/freethinker community.
The topic at her table was “Diversity — Minorities,” and Christina related some of the take-away points from the brainstorming session about how the community could be more welcoming to black people and other non-white ethnicities (As it happens, she used the term “people of color” throughout the post, with which I am not terribly comfortable because although it’s apparently no longer offensive to black people and others, it does seem to be, as NAACP spokeswoman Carla Sims has said, to be “outdated and antiquated.”).
Here is a truncated list of what members of the atheist/freethinker community could do to be more inclusive at conferences and meetings of like minds:
- Invite more people of color as speakers, at conferences and for individual speaking events.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about race.
- Do joint events with groups/ organizations of people of color.
- Support appropriate events hosted by groups of people of color, such as service projects.
- Don’t glom onto people of color when they show up at your group or event. (People of color sometimes say that, when they show up at all- or mostly-white atheist groups or events, they’re swarmed by overly friendly people who are SO DELIGHTED that a non-white person has shown up, in a way that’s overwhelming, and that’s clearly directed at their race. Don’t do this.)
- Don’t expect individual people of color to speak for their entire race.
- Listen to people of color — actively. …
- Don’t assume people of color are religious.
- Co-protesting – show up at protests about racism, and about issues that are strongly affected by race, such as economic justice or the drug war.
She then included this addendum outlining a different comment policy for that particular post to which readers should adhere (italics mine):
This conversation is for people who already agree that increasing racial diversity is important to the atheist community and the atheist movement, and who think positive action should be taken to improve the situation, and who want to discuss how to go about that. If you want to debate this core proposition — if, for instance, you think the atheist movement should be entirely race-blind, and that paying any attention at all to race and racism is itself racist — this comment thread is not the place.
I don’t know that I agree with that entire statement, thus the reason I am posting on my own site and not commenting on her blog.
While I think it is highly commendable and admirable to be proactive in welcoming blacks, Hispanics, etc., into the community of nonbelievers, as well as discussing topics of race in an open and respectful manner — if that’s a goal the community wants to pursue — I don’t necessarily think that racism can die — as well it should — until we move past race itself, just like BET or Black History Month, both of which, to me, insult black people by giving them their own special television station and their own special month of the year, as if black history and culture can’t be celebrated and remembered all year and on all television stations. It can, and it should be.
So, while some of the goals in racial inclusiveness are certainly admirable, I think we are approaching a time where the notion of “race” needs to go the way of the dodo and be replaced, simply, with “culture.” For, if we want to learn about how different groups of people live their lives and interact with the rest of the world, we can do that through learning about their culture and about what makes their particular culture unique, and by that token, worthy to be celebrated in its own right. I think when we frame the discussion, admirable as it might be, in racial terms, we may be in danger of taking one step forward and two tentative steps back.
@kaimatai: Why yes, we do know how the bacterial flagellum evolved http://www.pnas.org/content/104/17/7116/F1.large.jpg #evolution #atheist #atheism: