Friday, January 11, 2008

Psalm 82: Polytheism, Henotheism, Monotheism

(Outside Prophet is haranguing, Person was peacefully chillin’ out reading a book before Prophet shows up)
Prophet: God is one. God is one! All other gods are idols; you cook your food over the wood one day, pray to it the next! Foolish foolish people.
Person: Of course I have heard “The LORD our God, the LORD, is one.” But He is simply first among equals.
Prophet: What! No! All other God’s are idols.
Person: But Ba’al is El’s son!
Prophet: Ah... No... They’re Idols... Ah... It’s like this!
(God enters "council of gods" pours coffee for all the gods. Linger on coffee pot- pan across the pantheon)
God: (Sighs) You guys seriously! You aren’t doing your jobs!
(paces the floor, gods drink their coffee) I mean, how long are you going to rule wrongly and side with the wicked?
You’re supposed to side with the bastard child and the homeless. You’re supposed to help the hungry and save the oppressed from the oppressor!
(God looks around at the gods) Look at the lot of you! Its like you’re flying blind and bumping into things. Well those bumps are nasty, tsunamis get stirred up, the earth quakes, volcanos bellow, buildings fall.
(God shakes head) You are gods; you are as children to me. All of you. Yet, this is unacceptable. You know, I brought you into this world, I can take you out.
(gods start choking on poisoned coffee, fall over dramatically)
God: Arise, O God, judge the earth! For to thee belong all the nations! (Smiles and stands up)
(Back to Prophet and person)
Person: Oh... (Smile) God is one! All other gods are idols!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bill says bye

Dear Christopher,
It is with great pride, understanding and acceptance that I am ending my campaign for President of the United States. It was my hope that all of you would first hear this news from me and not a news organization. But unfortunately, as with too many things in our world today, it's the ending of something that garners the most intense interest and speculation.
I knew from the beginning that this would be an uphill climb. When I entered the campaign, it was clear that we, as Democrats, had the most talented field of candidates in my lifetime running to change the direction of our country. And in the end, one of them will.
Despite overwhelming financial and political odds, I am proud of the campaign we waged and the influence we had on the issues that matter most to the future of this country.
A year ago, we were the only major campaign calling for the removal of all of our troops within a year's time from Iraq. We were the only campaign calling for a complete reform of education in this country, including the scrapping of No Child Left Behind. And we were the campaign with the most aggressive clean energy plan and the most ambitious standards for reducing global warming.
Now, all of the remaining candidates are coming to our point of view. I am confident that the next President of the United States will implement much of what we've been urging for the last twelve months, and our nation and world will be the better for it.
There are so many of you who gave so much to this campaign. For that, I will be forever grateful. Running for president has been, at times, humbling and at other times, exhilarating. I have grown and learned a great deal from the experience, and I am a better person for it.
Also, because of your close friendship and support throughout the ups and downs of what is a very grueling and demanding process, I have never felt alone.
Running for president brings out the best in everyone who graces the stage, and I have learned much from the other candidates running. They have all brought great talents and abilities to the campaign.
Senator Biden's passion and intellect are remarkable.
Senator Dodd is the epitome of selfless dedication to public service and the Democratic Party.
Senator Edwards is a singular voice for the most downtrodden and forgotten among us.
Senator Obama is a bright light of hope and optimism at a time of great national unease, yet he is also grounded in thoughtful wisdom beyond his years.
Senator Clinton's poise in the face of adversity is matched only by her lifetime of achievement and deep understanding of the challenges we face.
Representative Kucinich is a man of great decency and dedication who will faithfully soldier on no matter how great the odds.
And all of us in the Democratic Party owe Senator Mike Gravel our appreciation for his leadership during the national turmoil of Vietnam.
I am honored to have shared the stage with each of these Democrats. And I am enormously grateful to all of my supporters who chose to stand with me despite so many other candidates of accomplishment and potential.
Now that my time in this national campaign has come to an end, I would urge those who supported my candidacy to take a long and thoughtful look at the remaining Democrats. They are all strong contenders who each, in their own way, would bring desperately needed change to our country. All I ask is that you make your own independent choice with the same care and dedication to this country that you honored me with during this campaign. At this time, I will not endorse any candidate.
Now I am returning to a job that I love, serving a state that I cherish and doing the work of the people I was elected to serve. As I have always said, I am the luckiest man I know. I am married to my high school sweetheart. I live in a place called the Land of Enchantment. I have the best job in the world. And I just got to run for president of the United States.
It doesn't get any better than that.
With my deepest appreciation for all that you have done,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sen. Obama is not a TERRORIST! Or Re:Fwd: Who is Barack Obama?

Sen. Obama is not a TERRORIST! Or Re:Fwd: Who is Barack Obama?

Now I try to steer away from sending emails asking folk to forward things along, but this is an exception! As of today two relatives I love very dearly, one a Southern belle, one a Northern gal, have sent me a total of three forwarded emails smearing Senator Barack Obama.
The first, essentially, argued Obama is a Muslim. The second insinuated he is an unpatriotic Muslim. Then this morning I received this email that suggests Senator Obama is a radical Muslim secret agent attempting to topple the US government from the inside out! If this trend continues by the fifth of February (Super Tuesday… remember to vote!) he’ll be accused of being the little brother of Osama Bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, and Saddam Hussein. By November 4th, election day, people will claim he’s behind 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Y2K, Pearl Harbor, and the Bill’s inability to win a Super Bowl.
That these emails have come from different people made me believe that these attacks are very widespread. After doing a little research I found out that this is indeed the case, in fact several newspapers have called Barack Obama’s faith and patriotism into question. (1)
Now I’m a Richardson supporter (he’s a Western Governor, and as the old saying goes you can take the boy out of the West but you can’t take the West out of the boy) but after reading his “Call for Renewal Address” on faith and politics while writing my theses (2), after reading a very persuasive article in the Atlantic (3), and the more I see the Democratic primaries play out, I’m really starting to like this Barack guy! Therefore I thought it appropriate to parse this “Who is Barack Obama?” email and show that it is a pack of lies someone is sending out to scare folk.
So here we go:

EMAIL: “Very interesting and something that should be considered in your choice. If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts...this is very scary to think of what lies ahead of us here in our own United States...better heed this and pray about it and share it.
We checked this out on "snope@&&&!". It is factual. Check for yourself.”
ME: So I did check for myself as the email recommends. This particular email is in fact dissected by Snopes and declared “False.” (4)
EMAIL: “Who is Barack Obama?
Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHIEST from Wichita, Kansas.”
ME: Obama Sr. is in fact the atheist in the family, or at least a non-practicing Muslim. (4) As for Mrs. Dunham she didn’t like organized religion, looked at faith as an Anthropologist, and I would classify her as a pluralist. Thus, she’d take young Barack to church on Christmas and Easter, and also “dragged” Barack to, “the Buddhist temple, the chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.” (4) I have to say this particular aspersion against Obama kind of pisses me off. I grew up in a rather Christmas and Easter kind of home. When my dad realized I had was interested in religious stuff he’d bring home The Book of Mormons, Buddhist books about “Nuclear spirituality,” as well as a good old red letter KJV Bible; until I was in my teens I probably knew more about ancient Egyptian religion than Christianity! I’m now studying to be a Lutheran Pastor; this proves that where one starts in life does not pre-determine where one ends up. If I was running for president there would be an email going around about how I’m secretly a rabid secularist or something!
Moving on.
EMAIL: “Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocate to Indonesia. Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.”
ME: CNN actually went to Jakarta and interviewed the headmaster of the school. Its essentially a public school. It is a “Muslim school” only in the sense that the majority of the students there were Muslim! (5) When I was approximately Obama’s age I attended a school on a military base in Brussels, that doesn’t qualify me to fight in the military! I’ve studied in an English school, that doesn’t make me English (sadly, as they have such nice accents). I’ve worked for the Anglican church, that doesn’t make me Anglican!
EMAIL: “Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school." Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that he is not a radical.”
ME: Obama is not us a Muslim, let alone a radical one, and has never been! (4) He is a practicing UCCer and attends services at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. (6) He’s a Congregationalist and a Calvinist.
I have to ask a question though, what would be so wrong with a Muslim running for president? I mean isn’t the amazing thing about America is that anyone, from any background, can rise up, live the American Dream? A person’s faith is not a bar to service of country, there is no state church, and no religious test. (7) Even Iran, yes “lets drive them to the sea” Iran, has a Jewish Member of Parliament! (8)
EMAIL: “Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct Influence over his son's education.
Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta.”
ME: Again the school was a public school! (5)
EMAIL: “Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran.”
ME: Barack Obama had a conversion experience and was baptized at Trinity United Church of Christ when he was in his twenties. (9) He’s been a Christian for over 20 years and has attended services regularly since 1985! (4) As for the charge that Senator Obama was sworn in using the Koran, I believe the author is thinking of Keith Ellison, the first Muslim congressman, a representative of Minnesota. (10) Why the confusion? These guys don’t even look alike!
EMAIL: “Barack Hussein Obama will NOT recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor will he show any reverence for our flag.While others place their hands over their hearts, Obama turns his back to the flag and slouches.”
ME: This harkens back to one of the first emails I got about Obama. This photo is shot during the national anthem. (4) At the end of this link (11) there are two clips of Senator Obama pledging allegiance to the flag.
EMAIL: “Let us all remain alert concerning Obama's expected presidential candidacy.
The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level - through the President of the United States, one of their own!!!!”
ME: As my analysis proves Obama isn’t a Muslim and is patriotic, therefore he’s not a Muslim sleeper agent- a Muslim Manchurian Candidate if you will. None the less, lets think about this, aren’t there better ways to take down a country? For example attacks like on 9/11. Also the idea that Obama was preparing for this in the late 60’s and early 70’s (aka as a young child) would suggest Islamic Extremists have been mad at us for a LONG time. Yet during this period everyone was much more interested in the Cold War. Indonesia banned communism since ’65, it supported, and was supported by, the United States. Beirut didn’t happen til ’83. We armed Afghanistan against the Soviets. In short if Jihadists had planned to infiltrate a country in the 60’s and 70’s it would have been the USSR, not the USA. The sleeper cell idea is simply farfetched.
EMAIL: “Please forward to everyone you know. Would you want this man leading our country?...... NOT ME!!!”
ME: ME!!! I would be happy to see Senator Barack Obama as President of the United States. At very least I would like to see this unfair slandering stopped. So if you are tired of people making up these stories and passing them on to unsuspecting folk in order to scare them, whether it is George Bush’s aids telling people that John McCain had a bi-racial love child back in 2000, or emails like “Who is Barack Obama?” forward this on!
Christopher Lee Halverson