7 things @ 9 o’clock (9.6)

1. Does David Barton realize that government schools are indoctrinating our children in the theories of Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, forcing them to learn the principles of his Arabic “restoration” and even going so far as to require the use of Arabic numerals instead of thus used by the early Christians?

2. “I know that President Reagan would never have let this happen,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, said yesterday about Syrian’s apparent use of chemical weapons. Steven Benen responds with a reminder that this is not a hypothetical matter. Reagan did respond to the use of chemical weapons by a Middle Eastern dictator. Here’s how:

No, in fact. Donald Rumsfeld has never been right about anything.

3. Terry Firma alerts us to a contentious battle in Brandon, Mississippi, over one Southern Baptist church’s plan to erect an 11-story, 110-foot-tall cross on it’s property. (The current tallest structure in Brandon is just two stories high, so this giant cross would be the biggest erection in town.)

This is apparently a thing, promoted by a donor-seeking nonprofit called “Crosses Across America.” The group says its mission is to “preserve, maintain, and construct roadside crosses across America.” OK, a skeptic might say this is an act of pure tribal symbolism — basically pissing on trees to mark territory, writ large. But why would they say they’re doing it?

Is it supposed to be evangelistic? If so, have you ever heard of anyone, anywhere, who became a Christian because they saw a ginormous roadside cross? I’ve heard a lot of personal testimonies, but none of them told such a story.

4. The BBC interviews Esther W., who, as a child, was at the center of a horrific case of Satanic panic on tiny Orkney Island. That story is disturbing (trigger warning) as it describes the abuse of children — first by parents, then by a system that repeated the abuse, failing in its duty to protect children because it was too busy using them as pawns in a fantasy role-playing battle against a non-existent Satanist conspiracy.

5. I don’t admire Mother Angelica — her cheery, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew face never quite hid the reactionary behind the mask — but this is a fascinating profile of her and of the cable network she created by Renee K. Gadoua at Religion & Politics. It’s always strange to see a woman with obvious gifts of leadership using that talent to argue that women must never be allowed to lead.

6. Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for one day. Punish and humiliate a man for not being able to fish after you’ve outlawed all boats except for luxury yachts, and that man will go hungry for the rest of his short, miserable life. If you’re Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, these are the only two possibilities you can imagine.

7. This was the No. 1 song on Billboard’s chart 43 years ago today. Still seems appropriate:

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  • Panda Rosa

    Well, I’ve seen crosses up and down the various Interstates, two white ones and a larger yellow one, usually perched on hills or mountains. It’s about on the level of those old South Of The Border signs, fine if you notice, but after a while you ignore them. Actually, the simplicity of the crosses is rather nice.

  • Daniel

    Then there’s this

  • Panda Rosa

    Good grief, where is this? What is this?
    That figure over on the left looks like he’s giving directions, “And then bear left at the church.”

  • Launcifer

    Nah, he’s telling Edward Woodward where to go, in case he’s running late for his appointment with the Wicker Man. And, no, I have no idea why that image made me think of that film.

  • Daniel


    It is in Lithuania. They have been there for decades. The Communists used to bulldoze the site every so often but the crosses would pop up again overnight.

  • Veylon

    It may be ugly as all heck, but at least it means something in a way that all the fiberglass Jesuses and giant roadside crosses in America never will. People risked their lives to contribute to that.

  • Daniel

    Personally I like it. A lot of the crosses are handmade out of bits of rubbish and scrap, and the sheer density of them makes the whole thing beautiful in an eerie, spooky way. It reminds me a lot of the memorial in the Hungarian “House of Terror” museum for the victims of the arrow cross regime- hundreds and hundreds of stars of David twisted out of those iron rods they use to reinforce concrete, each with a single builder’s lamp in the middle. The ordinariness of the materials, the simplicity of the markers is a very poignant way of reflecting that these are markers for real, flesh and blood, frightened, innocent people and not “heroes”. That’s what these crosses are too.

  • Rissa

    Now, to me, THAT has meaning. Even if the faith represented by a symbol is not my own, I can still feel joy and triumph at any proof of resistance to oppression.
    Erecting a massive symbol of the majority-rule faith, on the other hand, seems a bit the opposite.

  • Jenny Islander

    In my Sunday school materials, I have preserved a photo from National Geographic of a little wooden church in a village in the woods in the former Soviet Union. The entire congregation is parading around the church on a snowy Easter morning. Back in the USSR, they were allowed to meet, just not, you know, in a building. So they met outdoors in the slush, and meanwhile sent work parties into the woods to “cut firewood” and “pick mushrooms.” And one night, they all slipped into the forest, hand-carried the stockpiles of hand-sawn lumber and shingles into the village, and built a church.

    The local Party officials didn’t dare knock it down. They would have had to explain to their higher-ups how it got there in the first place. So they pretended that they had known about it all along and given permission.

    And every year, on Easter, the entire congregation marches clear around the little church, because it’s still there and the USSR is long gone.

    Your 110-foot crosses can go for scrap. That’s how to witness with construction.

  • Daniel

    “Your 110-foot crosses can go for scrap. That’s how to witness with construction.”

    The awful thing is that these groups in the US doing this use language that equates them with the victims of dictatorships despite living in a nation where it’s unlikely a non-christian would be able to get elected President. They diminish their own cause by seeming oversensitive reactionaries, and worse they diminish the suffering of those genuine victims. To compare- those examples above versus this:


  • Matri

    Reminds me of this.

  • Cathy W

    You know, if this church wanted to buy a quarter acre of land along the interstate, somewhere there wasn’t a zoning ordinance that said “no structures over 20 feet”, and put up a 100-foot cross on it, I think I’d be okay with that. I’m kind of galled by the notion that they think they should get a special exemption from the zoning ordinance.

  • Michael Pullmann

    “The current tallest structure in Brandon is just two stories high, so this giant cross would be the biggest erection in town.”
    Make the joke yourselves, folks.

  • Daniel

    They’ve got a list of articles on their website, but “God’s love shown in Brandon’s enormous erection” is not one. Sadly.
    That joke was as obvious as saying the Great Wall of China is long.

  • GDwarf

    Surely you mean “…as the great wall of China is schlong” :D

    …I’ll get my coat.

  • hidden_urchin

    I can see the fundraising slogan for the Brandon erection now…”Rise for Christ.”

    Oooh, I am soooo going to hell.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    “Verily, he is arisen”?

  • Carstonio

    The coming of the Lord?

  • Michael Pullmann

    Mine eyes have seen the glory.

  • The_L1985

    Come quickly, Lord Jesus, I can’t stay on my knees forever!

  • Carstonio

    Even though crucifixion was a common Roman punishment of the time, I still see a resemblance to the male genitals in their entirety.

  • Daniel

    angel lust, as it’s also known, happens when men get hanged or crucified:

    “In The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion,[6] art historian and critic Leo Steinberg notes that a number of Renaissance era artists depicted Jesus Christ after the crucifixion with a post-mortem erection. The artwork was suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church for several centuries.”

    (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_erection)

  • Oswald Carnes

    Sounds like William S. Burroughs. In at least one of his novels men who are hanged not only pop wood, but end up blasting one last special gift just before they die.

  • Daniel

    Yeah, he mentions it a lot in naked lunch.

  • MarkTemporis

    Next kaiju attack, we’ll nail the sucker up there as a warning to the rest of ’em.

  • Omnicrom

    That would be an appropriate response to an Angel Attack, but the humanoid ones tend to explode when you break their cores. You could try it on Remiel, but it’s hard to crucify a giant blue laser diamond. And that’s assuming they aren’t taking on the Alpha Numbers or LOTUS or someone, those guys are thorough when monster hunting.

  • The_L1985

    Well, it is for a territorial pissing contest.

  • histrogeek

    Two obvious typos: In #1 “thus” and in #3 “it’s”. This concludes my morning pedantry.
    For less petty reaction:
    Maybe David Barton justifies those Quranic snares called “numbers” on the grounds that most of that was picked up from Hindus and thence transmitted to the West via the world-conquering Saracens. So it’s all good.
    All I’m seeing with the Bradon cross is one huge, literal lightening rod. How long before a thunderstorm, tornado, or hurricane knocks that thing to the ground, eliciting non-literal gales of laughter from everyone except the weird believers who will see it as an omen of something grim, brought about by someone else’s naughtiness?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    He could get math outlawed in schools because of that infernal al-jabr, a.k.a. algebra. :P

  • histrogeek

    I know but the Indians claim that all al-Khwarizimi did was compile all their hard work in a form that dumb-ass semi-literates (which is to Western Europeans) could understand. And put his book in a place where the aforementioned dumb-ass semi-literates could find it (like Toledo, Granada, and Sicily).

  • Ross Thompson

    You think David Barton cares about that? That would require actual research and context.

  • MarkTemporis

    High school me would forgive Bartons crimes against history if it would’ve gotten me out of high school algebra. Quadratic equations make me want to kill myself.

  • The_L1985

    I just taught those. I feel unloved now. :P

  • Lorehead
  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino


    Are they really that uninformed, willfully ignorant, and just plain stupid?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    They’re being paid good money to be that stupid.

  • AnonaMiss

    I’m confused about the food stamp story.

    Kansas plans to throw more than a fifth of its nearly 90,000 unemployed residents off of the food stamp rolls by reinstating federal work requirements for the program that are normally waived during times of unusually high unemployment. The state’s Department for Children and Families announced the move Wednesday and projected that 20,000 unemployed Kansans currently on food assistance will be affected.

    The federal rules for food assistance require that able-bodied recipients who do not have dependent children – a very small subset of the food stamp population – work at least 20 hours per week in order to receive the aid for longer than three months.

    The vast majority of food stamp recipients are either working or not part of the population that is expected to work. Children, the elderly, and the disabled make up more than two-thirds of the food stamp rolls.

    Emphasis mine.

    So we can expect that at least 60,000 of the 90,000 on food stamps in Kansas are children, the elderly, and the disabled.

    In the united states, 39% of households contain children under the age of 18, so we can expect that at least 12,000 of the 30,000 remaining SNAP beneficiaries will be exempt from work requirements due to having dependent children – and that’s a generous underestimate, as some proportion of the 61% of households without children would have already been covered within the 60,000 exempt from work requirements due to age.

    That’s less than 20,000 affected even before you sift out those who are already meeting the federal work requirement (e.g. Wal-Mart employees). After the sifting, I’d be surprised if 10,000 Kansans are affected.

    Mind you, I think it’s ridiculous that so many of our fellow-Americans have this stupid idea that unemployed folks need to be motivated by hunger to go out and work at jobs that don’t exist.

    But lying about the numbers just destroys our credibility.

  • AnonaMiss

    Household numbers from http://www.oecd.org/els/soc/41919509.pdf table SF1.1.B btw

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    You might want to get your facts straight before you go around calling people liars. The state of Kansas does not have 90,000 people on SNAP, which would be absurdly low for a state of this size. The actual number is slightly over 300,000 (see http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/29snapcurrpp.htm). The 90k figure is the number of people considered unemployed who are on SNAP, which was achieved by removing two-thirds for children, elderly and the disabled – all of whom you went and removed again. Remove 39% from that (and another caveat – why are you using the federal averages instead of the actual numbers for the state of Kansas?) and you still have over 50,000.

    Just something to consider before you go around throwing nasty words at decent people again.

  • AnonaMiss

    Whoops – I skimmed over the word ‘unemployed’ describing the 90,000. My bad.

    I was using the federal numbers because they were the first numbers I found, it was napkin math anyway, and I had a meeting at 10.

  • LoneWolf343

    You know what is really messed up? I once checked to see if I could qualify for SNAP. Turns out you can’t have more than $2000 in asset to qualify, and I have a bank account (a gift from a rich family member which I keep for emergencies,) for more than that. I’m officially too rich for SNAP, and that’s depressing.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    What if you cashed it out, hid the money, told them you blew it all on a road trip and blow and hookers, and now you need SNAP?

  • Lee B.

    I know you’re joking, but when applying for SNAP (at least in Kansas, I don’t know how it is elsewhere) they actually require your bank records to check whether you’ve withdrawn and squirreled away some cash — and if you haven’t, they assume that you did it anyway and were just able to somehow hide it from them.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Know what’s really messed up? When my mom was looking into food stamps while my dad was unemployed, she found that cars count as assets.

    My piece of shit Toyota is worth more than two grand.

  • LoneWolf343

    Seriously!? Wow. You have to be seriously down in the dumps to even qualify.

  • Daniel

    In response to number 2, here’s the response of Britain’s most lauded Prime Minister (before he got to that post) on the use of chemical weapons:

    “I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly
    gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.”
    Winston Churchill.


  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Is it supposed to be evangelistic? If so, have you ever heard
    of anyone, anywhere, who became a Christian because they saw a ginormous
    roadside cross? I’ve heard a lot of personal testimonies, but none of
    them told such a story.

    The church I grew up in built a new megachurch-esque campus. They put a giant tower out front that’s topped by a glass pyramid that’s lit from within. I believe it was supposed to represent the church being the light of the world.

    I just call it “The Jesus Penis.”

  • Otrame

    Mother Angelica has creeped me the hell out since I first saw her. The way people speak about and to her is even worse. I can’t believe any decent person who works for the glory of God and to improve the lives of others would allow that sort of brown nosing.

    Fred’s remarks about her leadership reminds me of listening to a dear friend who was a good-hearted woman who had bought into fundyism. She explained to a friend of hers, who was complaining about coming home from work to find her husband sitting in front of the TV and demanding his dinner, that he was the boss of the house and if he chose to do that it was his right. It was the Biblical way of marriage. The man is in charge and only by submitting to him could a woman be happy. She was dreadfully earnest about it, meant every word. The punchline is that I have NEVER seen a marriage where the husband was less the boss than in her own. It was a good marriage and they were happy, but she was completely in charge in that house. That is what worked for them.

  • The_L1985

    I once lived not far from their main broadcasting studio, so it was part of the local basic-cable package at a time when I was still fairly devout. The only thing other than Mass that I can definitively tell you was on EWTN was the one time a guy rapped about the rosary to the tune of Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca. No, really. That happened.

  • Hexep

    I went to college with a man from Miami. If you mentioned any of his elected representatives to him, he’d froth at the mouth. (There was one guy he liked, though, but I don’t remember who). I talked to him a few weeks ago on Facebook, and we discussed current events; he told me that if Marco Rubio ever became President, he’d travel to DC and assassinate him.

    Of course, he also boasted that he once got within 30 feet of the governor while carrying a loaded handgun, so there you have it.

    EDIT: Oh, yeah. He was famously negative of Ros-Lehtinen, and could both describe specific things he didn’t like about what she’d done, and nevertheless seamlessly weave in some really foul language about her. The man was partizan, let’s just leave it at that.

  • Jurgan

    Wow, making death threats on Facebook. Smart guy.

  • Hexep

    Ehh, he was always a good time back in school. We’d do coke together.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Did you report him to the Secret Service? They keep tabs on people like that just in case.

  • Hexep

    Not my country, not my problem.

  • LoneWolf343

    If he said it on Facebook, they probably already know.

  • MaryKaye

    The little roadside crosses that mean “someone I loved died on the road here” are moving. I don’t know if they contribute to Christianity but they sure do make me reflect on the cost of driving drunk. There are two in my neighborhood, and a non-cross bicycle shrine which is even more moving–partly because I saw the accident that led to it firsthand.

    Two hundred foot crosses? Not so much.

  • J_Enigma32

    I read about the 110-foot-cross the other day. My first thought on that was, “that’s a lot of money you could be spending on feeding and clothing the poor, instead. Like Republicans are always telling me the church is supposed to do.”

    But then I remembered, “Ha. Silly me, they don’t care about the poor at all. This right here is dick-wagging, just like they feel the need to put up a Christian billboard that’s larger and louder in front of every atheist billboard. Why, I remember a time on Facebook when one of my (former) friends told me that me being an outspoken atheist made them feel like they had to speak up louder to protect their faith (Christian, for the record).”

    Then I imagined a world if the Republicans got what they wanted and the Churches were responsible for the charity and common welfare instead of a government-sponsored social network.

    Then I had a sad.

  • Matri

    They’re definitely overcompensating for something.

  • LL

    “biggest erection in town”


  • themunck

    3. Crosses along the road….Now what does that remind me off….(hint: Watch Spartacus, 1960. Or read any history book on the Roman Empire). Yet more proof that the Anti-christ is real, and using evangical chistians as his pawns.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Eh, I don’t give the construct that much credit. There are Antichrists, plural. I would say the potential for Antichrist exists within every Christian, since it is, at its heart, a manifestation of evil.

  • themunck

    True, but it will be easier to show the RTC’s they’re not doing the Lord’s work if we use their own framework first.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Oh, by all means, the Antichrist is a useful symbol. More than simply being an evil Christian, it’s a Christian who utilizes their religion to twisted ends, perverting love and stripping humanity from law. It gives the angel in me a sad.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    3. Terry Firma alerts us to a contentious battle in Brandon, Mississippi, over one Southern Baptist church’s plan to erect an 11-story, 110-foot-tall cross on it’s property.
    (The current tallest structure in Brandon is just two stories high, so
    this giant cross would be the biggest erection in town.)

    I see Fred wasn’t the only one to think it seemed rather phallic. ;)

    Then again, as for conversion stories? I will admit to saying, “Oh, my God!” after seeing some … er, monuments. :P

  • Lori

    No, in fact. Donald Rumsfeld has never been right about anything.

    So much word.

    The fact that anyone still holds Rumsfeld up as anything other than a negative example is beyond ridiculous.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    you know, back when we did that in schools, America was number one in
    the world in literacy? We had the highest literacy rate in the world.” –

    Citation beyond white man in a suit’s say so please.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    The raw numbers would be good too. Has American literacy fell or have other countries just surpassed it?

  • Anton_Mates

    According to the Human Development Index, we’re not #68 in the world; we’re around #20-30 or so. (Precise rankings mean little because the rates are so closely packed.) And that’s because we have like 99% adult literacy while some other countries have 99 point whatever. That small difference probably has a lot to do with immigration; many of the highest-scoring nations are small islands and/or very ethnically uniform, and I doubt they have a lot of adult residents who weren’t educated in their school system.

    Countries surpassing us include Scandinavian and former Soviet republics, Samoa, Andorra and Cuba. Not an especially God-fearing crowd.

    Almost certainly, if our rank has fallen, it’s because global literacy rates have massively improved. By every measure I can find in a quick Google, US literacy rates and verbal skills have consistently improved since the 1800s, although in some areas we’ve kind of leveled off in the last 30 years or so. But again, that’s largely because our rates are already really good, historically speaking. There’s not much higher we could go (though we definitely could improve, and our educational system is far from perfect, obvs.)

    So David Barton is bullshitting yet more, yes.

  • David S.

    What’s the number of adults that simply are physically incapable of reading or learning to read? My problem with the whole thing at the top is they can’t be measuring the exact same thing, and the fudge factors they put in plus the error margin have got to amount to at least 0.5%. Claiming a 99.7% is different from a 99.8% when it’s done by different organizations under different rules isn’t credible. (Claiming 100% just annoys me; if you’re going to make up numbers, make up good looking ones. Dove is 99.44% pure for a reason.)

  • Miff

    Interesting fact: the Hindu-Arabic Numerals are used in writing neither Hindi nor Arabic.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Talk amongst yourselves.

  • The_L1985

    Even better: the Church banned them for a century or two because clearly, the ROMAN church needed to use ROMAN numerals, this somehow being more godly.

  • G.G.

    Gov. Brownback doesn’t have time to worry about the poor in Kansas, he’s too busy with important things, like how a war in Syria will effect end time prophesies http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/09/syria-joel-rosenberg-damascus-countdown-magog

  • atalex

    I wonder how much money this church is spending on a graven image to worship.

  • Abner Cadaver

    Crosses along the roadside remind me more of what Crassus than Christ. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Servile_War#Aftermath

  • Abner Cadaver

    “While most of the rebel slaves were killed on the battlefield, some 6,000 survivors were captured by the legions of Crassus. All 6,000 were crucified along the Appian Way from Rome to Capua.”

  • LoneWolf343

    The cross story reminds me of a story I’ve been meaning to write. It involves an extremely tall cross made of pure gold (or, perhaps just gold plated, but passed off as gold.) The fate of said cross is that it topples an squashes a vicar in a rather literal interpretation of Matthew 21:44

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I’ve heard a lot of personal testimonies, but none of them told such a story.

    That’s because there aren’t enough ginormous roadside crosses. As the number of GRCs goes up, the number of testimonies giving credit to them will skyrocket.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Rather Off Topic and a bit of an aside, but still, it’s fascinating. :D

    I came across something I hadn’t really known about: there’s a movement of some authors to purposely write English as a pure Germanic language. Poul Anderson wrote a treatise on atomic theory using such a form of English, which is fascinating to read. :)

    One thing that is interesting is that Germanic-derived words in English carry a kind of “outworldish” flavor that can make fiction more interesting: for example, in a world like that of Revolution, I can see people inventing or backporting such words for long-forgotten mechanical devices to replace those that previously operated on electricity. Other such incidences in which the English-speaking countries become particularly insular for one reason or another might do that too, I imagine.

  • samann1121

    Really no one’s posted this yet?