Pocono link-dump

We’re heading to the mountains for a few days to a place with no TV or Internet (this is a feature, not a bug). I’ll be back Sunday evening — hoping to get home in time to catch the Eagles’ next fourth-quarter collapse.

So in the meantime, here, in no particular order, are some random links that I didn’t have time to put together any longer or more coherent response to/comment on.

Self portrait.

Adrian Mack explores a treasure trove for “trash hounds.” With video. “A brief history of fundie Christian cinema.”

That photo to the right (via Phil Plait) is a picture of us. You, me, everyone — the 100 percent. That fuzzy blob on the left? That’s Earth. The one on the right is the moon.

A Protestant Affirmation on the Control of Human Reproduction (1968)

Baptist Prophet Squares Off Against Baptist Governor in Alabama

Alabama Deli Owner, Businesses Stand Strong for Immigrant Rights

More like this please: “Occupy Cleveland Helps a Single Mother Stay in Her Home.”

Jim Wallis: “A Church Sanctuary for the Occupy Movement” (Sanctuary! — I miss Howard Ashman.)

Rob Tish notes that sometimes Jesuits sound like stoners. (And on the subject of same-sex marriage, they really, really do.)

C. Peter Wagner believes that the emperor of Japan has sex with the Sun Goddess, who is really a demon. I’ve tried to phrase that in the least-ridiculous-sounding way, but I’m not sure that’s possible.

On the Prophet Hen of Leeds (and nine other failed doomsday predictions):

History has countless examples of people who have proclaimed that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, but perhaps there has never been a stranger messenger than a hen in the English town of Leeds in 1806. It seems that a hen began laying eggs on which the phrase “Christ is coming” was written. …

All part of Obama's anti-Christian conspiracy

Great sex! Flat abs! And Jesus!

The beloved Norman Rockwell painting to the right — part of his “Four Freedoms” series — is famously titled “Freedom to Worship.” According to the Liar Tony Perkins, that phrase “freedom of worship” was recently invented by the Obama administration as part of its ongoing persecution of real, true, heterosexual Christianity. We all knew that President Barack Obama loves Norman Rockwell. But until the Liar Tony Perkins told us about this, we hadn’t realized that Obama also had a time machine that enabled him to travel back to 1943 to conspire with Rockwell and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in their diabolical assault on Christian freedom.

Speaking of time travel, here’s a time capsule of former speakers of the House Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi discussing climate change. The difference between then and now is that Pelosi is still telling the truth about this.

Herman Cain: “We need a leader, not a reader.”

Ramesh Rao: “Now It Is the Turn of the Hindus

The combination of ignorance and intolerance has not always been a losing formula in politics, for if it were, it would not be used so often.

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association reassures his listeners that Elton John will never sing at his wedding. (Fischer is criticizing Rush Limbaugh for having the pop star sing at his most recent wedding. In keeping with Fischer’s notion of “traditional values,” he doesn’t complain that this was Limbaugh’s fourth wedding — only that the more successful radio demagogue hired a gay icon to sing.)

Noahpinion: “Why conservatives can’t get people to work hard

Nevada Attorney General announces indictment in robo-signing scheme

Wendell Berry on the EPA: “I have a lot of sympathy, actually, for you and your colleagues, because you are standing in a very difficult place, that is between the bandits and the loot.”

These “Nuns Who Won’t Stop Nudging” are standing in that same very difficult place. I worked with some of these formidable women through ICCR for a couple of years in the early 1990s. CEOs do not look forward to sitting across the table from these prophetic sisters.

Atrios uses the “J-word.”

Andrew Marin: “Toward a Better Future for Gays at Evangelical Seminaries

Mormon bishop says church responsible for gays’ emotional wounds

Candace Chellew-Hodge: “New Southern Baptist Curriculum Bashes Gays

Michelle Bachman's legislative aide for health care issues (left).

Steve Benen: “When someone makes a claim, the claim is proven false, and the person makes it again anyway, they’re lying.” But lying about Obama is fair game, because it’s lying for Jesus.

What if there were a god named Fred who hated lies?” asks Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin. Kincaid seems to think this is a hypothetical question.

Speaking of lying for Jesus, Rep. Michele Bachmann said that health care reform will require all doctors to get IRS approval for every procedure. The congresswoman voted on that law, so she ought to know it does no such thing, but she claims this must be true because a 7-foot-tall doctor told her.

When your relationship to reality is so seriously askew that you think Jesus wants you to bear false witness against your neighbor, then anything that reasserts or reaffirms reality becomes your enemy. If your political views require you to say that north is south and south is north, then you have no choice but to denounce and discredit every working compass. Even things like Snopes.com. Hence the delightful double-lindy right-wing conspiracy theory falsely accusing Snopes of being a Soros-funded puppet of international Jewish liberal bankers. I hadn’t heard that one until Victoria Jackson brought it up, but I suppose it was inevitable and, for people like Jackson, yet one more necessary fiction in the futile effort to cling to unreality. Lies are like potato chips — it’s hard to tell just one.

Michele Bachmann’s campaign site recently posted a video featuring an endorsement from George Grant. Then the video was taken down. After spending months saying that there’s no such thing as dominion theology, and that this nonexistent thing is a tiny fringe view with no influence, and that it has no ties to any national figures in the Republican Party — after working so hard to create that narrative, and enlisting the help of all those compliant columnists and pundits to spread that message — then it’s a bit awkward to tout the endorsement of old-school deconstructionist dominion theology cheerleader George Grant, the guy who wrote this:

It is dominion that we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.

Another Liar for Jesus: the Liar Tom Vineyard, senior pastor of Windsor Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. (In some alternate universe, perhaps there’s an honest man named Tom Baptist who’s pastor of a Vineyard church in KO City.)

We could replace coal power with geothermal—10 times over

The Truth Is Out There: “White House formally denies connection with E.T.

Kevin Drum: “Gog, Magog and George Bush

Two posts influenced by the moral philosophy many of us learned from Gary Gygax:

1. “Presidential Candidates Explained Through Dungeons and Dragons Character Sheets

2. Abi Sutherland: “Occupy Chaotic Good

BlackTsunami shares a powerful anti-bullying video from The Netherlands. What struck me was that the ad was prepared by “de Kinderombudsman” or Children’s Ombudsman. That’s an official government office tasked with ensuring that “children in the Netherlands are respected by the government” and other organizations and with advising the Dutch parliament on behalf of children. Interesting.

Robert Reich: “The Corporate Pledge of Allegiance

Diana E. Anderson: “Thou gleeking hell-hated malcontent!

Our current sexual ethic in the American church does just as good of a job objectifying women as secular “porn” culture.


Gawker: “100,000 ‘Atlas Shrugged’ DVDs Recalled for Perfectly Hilarious Reason” (For Randians, “courage and self-sacrifice” is considered a Bad Thing.)

Josh Rosenau: “Evangelicals have lower science literacy, part 2

You Don’t Know Mitt: 99 Facts About Mitt Romney” All true. Oddly, so too is a list of 99 contradictory facts about Mitt Romney.

Eric Hague: “A Stripped-Down Compromised Draft of the American Jobs Act

Repealing the estate tax does not promote economic growth” (So much for the Kardashian-driven economic recovery.)

Here’s another recommendation for Gungor. I’m really going to have to check them out.

And finally, please don’t put a “Jesus” bumper sticker on your car and then park like a total douchebag. It causes people to associate Jesus with douchebaggery, and I think he deserves better than that.

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  • For those of you not familiar with the term, teleology is an approach where you ask “What is this designed for? What is it’s function? It’s purpose?” and everything is judged in terms of how well — or poorly — it serves that function or fulfills that purpose.

    The problem arises when you start applying this thinking to the natural world. You ask what is the purpose of sex? The Catholic Church has long answered that with: reproduction. If the purpose of sex is reproduction, then anything that doesn’t and can’t lead to reproduction is wrong. Thus, the Church opposes homosexuality and abortion and contraceptives. The two planets/islands argument is just an illustration of that idea.

    Teleology is a perfectly reasonable way of looking at a lot of things, the problem is when people start getting too narrow or pre-concieved a notion of what something “should” be used for is.  For example, I would argue that the primary function of sex is reproduction, yes.  That does not mean that sex should be used only for reproduction though.  Sex has a variety of useful secondary functions, such as a method of bonding between individuals.  Some of its secondary functions actually work better when the primary function is disabled.  

    To say that sex should only be used for reproduction would be like saying that a hammer with a nail wedge on the other side should only be used to drive nails and never to remove them.  It follows the primary function of something while completely discounting any other function it might serve.

  • For example, I would argue that the primary function of sex is reproduction, yes.

    The phrase “the primary function” in that sentence is doing a lot of implicit and unexamined work, and it’s sometimes useful when thinking about subjects like these to make that work explicit.

    Here are some possible interpretations, which mean very different things:

    “the most valuable function of sex is reproduction”
    “the defining function of sex is reproduction”
    “the function which, if prevented from operating, would cause sex to no longer exist is reproduction”

    “the function that originally created selection pressure for the evolution of sex is reproduction”
    “the function that originally inspired the designers of sex to design it is reproduction”

    I’m not really sure which if any of those statements you mean. (You might, of course, mean something else altogether… or many of them at the same time… or perhaps all of them… or you might not be sure, yourself.) Your use of the hammer analogy suggests the last of them, or perhaps the next-to-last… but may not have been intended as such a tight analogy.

    For many of these interpretations, I would disagree.

  • Hawker40

    Actually, we don’t need a better way of generating energy, we need a better way to collect and use the energy already being produced (and mostly, from the human perspective, wasted) by that big nuclear fusion reactor in the center of the solar system.

  • I’m not really sure which if any of those statements you mean. (You might, of course, mean something else altogether… or many of them at the same time… or perhaps all of them… or you might not be sure, yourself.) Your use of the hammer analogy suggests the last of them, or perhaps the next-to-last… but may not have been intended as such a tight analogy.

    Sorry, no, I did not mean any of those definitions.  I mean that, should the reproductive function of sex fail on a species-wide level, the species goes extinct.  If functions like, say, emotional bonding as concerns sex were to fail on a species wide level, the species would not go extinct.  I am not trying to assign any design perspective to it or assign any moral value.  

    Perhaps I should rephrase.  The capacity for reproduction is often a defining characteristic of life (in the very general sense, let us not get into semantics about non-reproductive members in an otherwise reproductive population.)  In the case of most lifeforms on this planet, sexual reproduction has proven to be a successful method of achieving that.  Certain secondary functions of sex turned out to facilitate reproduction, but some creatures found those secondary functions had values and usefulness all their own, even aside from the reproductive function.  

    Reproduction was the starting point of all that, but it is hardly the ending point.  The issue I take with a lot of the attempt to “moralize” sexuality is the assumption that reproduction is both the beginning and the end of sexuality, when the end function of it is so much more broad than that.  

  • Matri

    I have a genuine question regarding geothermal energy.

    Years ago I heard an argument made that we shouldn’t tap geothermal energy, because we’d be draining all the heat from the Earth’s core causing it to cool and then OMG ARMAGEDDON!

    My question is, does he have a point or is he blowing smoke out his ass?

  • I wanted to add a little something to my earlier post by way of metaphor.  

    Trees reproduce by dropping seeds.  If fertile seeds manage to find purchase in a spot of good ground they happen to fall to, then those seeds might sprout into saplings and eventually grow into adult trees.  However, it helps a tree to reproduce if the seeds can be spread away from the parent tree.  A sapling that literally grows in its parent’s shadow will never reach the same size as its parent since it will never get as much resources.  Hence, trees with some mechanism of spreading their seeds further out have a reproductive advantage.  

    One of the methods that this happens if when a tree’s seeds are covered in some kind protective sheath that animals find tasty to eat.  Animals will pluck those seeds off of trees to eat the sheath, and the seed stands a good chance of being carried off to another location where it might sprout, particularly if the animals seeking the seeds carry them off whole to, say, feed their own young.  Trees which had better tasting seeds sheaths, or had more to eat on those sheaths could better attract animals, and thus had a reproductive advantage over those with less.  

    Again, reproduction is the primary purpose of this process.  

    However, to say that because reproduction is the primary purpose of something that it should be the only purpose would make it immoral of us to pluck apples to make delicious apple pie.  Sure, maybe we do not plant the seeds we get from the apples we pick for the pie, but as long as we want to keep making pie we will take measures to ensure we will always have enough apple trees to continue to pick them.  So too with human sexuality.  Yes, reproduction is the primary function of such activity, but the other factors that have evolved around it are beneficial in their own right, and to claim that they are immoral to enjoy would be to deprive us of a great deal of what the activity has to offer.  

    I cannot speak for other people, but limiting oneself only ever to the primary function of something is a very narrow way to live.  

  • Anonymous

    I have a genuine question regarding geothermal energy.

    Years ago I
    heard an argument made that we shouldn’t tap geothermal energy, because
    we’d be draining all the heat from the Earth’s core causing it to cool
    and then OMG ARMAGEDDON!

    My question is, does he have a point or is he blowing smoke out his ass?

    Geothermal energy taps a minute fraction of the earth’s heat outflow (well less than 1%), almost all of that heat was going to be lost anyway (we only tap the crust which transfers the heat sooner or later anyway, think hot springs). Anway the earth has a truly staggering quantity of thermal energy, the largest SI unit of energy is the yottajoule, the earth has approximately one *hundred* *thousand* of them. Even if the earth’s net cooling quadrupled (how?) we’d still probably be engulfed by the sun before it ran out. So not a serious worry.