7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.10)

7 things @ 11 o’clock (7.10) July 10, 2013

1. Lester Maddox “increasingly counter-cultural” on restaurant issues. Inquisition “increasingly counter-cultural” on heliocentrism. Bash Brothers “increasingly counter-cultural” on benefits of PEDs. I guess that’s one way to put it. Certainly sounds nicer than “wrong side of history.”

2. Tony Jones discusses “Why Every Christian Leader Needs to Have a Good Answer About Homosexuality.” Kimberly Knight says, “amen” … with one qualification, “Why Every Christian Leader Needs to Have a Good Relationship With a Homosexual.”

3. It’s not just Vladimir Putin — anti-gay religious right groups also have a soulmate in disgraced Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.

But good news for clueless trolls allied with the philosophy of Mugabe and Putin: They have biblical carte blanche to torment and abuse Mr. Aloysius P. Van Landingham of Prescott, Ariz.

The Bible — or, at least, the Bible as they claim to read it — clearly allows them to condemn Mr. Van Landingham. It allows them to revile him, insult him, torment him, deny his civil and legal rights and deny him access to the sacraments of the church.

After all, can you show me a single passage in the Old Testament or the New Testament that affirms Aloysius P. Van Landingham of Prescott, Ariz.? I am open to see any cogent, compelling and scripturally supported case made that God condones or blesses Aloysius P. Van Landingham of Prescott, Ariz. I have been waiting a very long time.

(We used to attract a better quality of troll around here. This stuff — taken from comments troll-deposited here yesterday — doesn’t even rise to the level of sophistry, it’s like … froshistry. Prideful, sanctimonious and stupid is no way to go through life, son.)  

4. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Paul Bibeau’s Goblinbooks blog. His posts have a comic structure that’s a lot harder to pull off than he makes it look. Consider, for example, Pat Robertson, the televangelist who routinely says howlingly awful things. It’s not easy to come up with a fresh way of discussing Robertson at this point, but “A Message From the Terrified People Sitting Next to Pat Robertson” does the trick.

Or think of all that you’ve read in recent weeks about the NSA’s massive surveillance programs. Bibeau’s recent posts purportedly from intelligence chief James Clapper — see “‘We Need to Be the Country We Were Right After 9/11’ by James Clapper” and the hilariously specific “Intelligence Chief James Clapper Answers a Craigslist Missed Connection” — cut to the heart of the matter as deftly as any other commentary I’ve seen.

There’s a formula of sorts, but it’s a good formula, and it all starts with an aptly chosen absurd premise. With his latest post, though, the absurd premise is too audacious to re-enact — it can only be described: What if the United States of America is nothing more than an elaborate Andy Kaufman-style prank that got out of hand? Follow the logic and it almost seems logical. And the final two sentences, I think, say something darn near profound — about America, or about jokes, or both.

5. James McGrath shares a short video of “N.T. Wright and James Dunn on the New Perspective on Paul.” I don’t like that term “new perspective,” because it’s misleading. The so-called new perspective isn’t new at all, but serves to correct a centuries-long mistake. That mistake was a genuinely new thing — a wrong turn that led theology astray, while the so-called “new” perspective is simply an attempt to get us back on course.

I suppose this may sound dry, and the video — a couple of old white theologians talking — might seem dry. But this is actually explosive stuff. It explains, for example, why Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism can’t easily be dismissed as an unfortunate incidental personal failing. Wright and Dunn accentuate the positive, emphasizing the aspects of Pauline theology that the new perspective helps us to understand. And they downplay the negative, with Dunn urging us not to understand any of this as meaning that “Luther got it wrong.” He doesn’t want to say that, so instead he says that there are a host of things Luther didn’t get right which need to be corrected. I’m not sure I follow that distinction.

6. Will Campbell died last month. Campbell is one of those people it seems as though I ought to have read, but I’ve never actually read anything by him. I may have to correct that. “We’re all bastards. But God loves us anyway,” Campbell said. That’ll preach.

Bonus: He liked to quote Ezekiel 23:20 — the dirtiest verse in the Bible. And how can you not be intrigued by a guy who said things like this:

True soul freedom can never be found in any institution. If they will pay you, let them. I did it too. But never trust them. Never bow the knee to them. They are all after your soul. Your ultimate, absolute, uncompromising allegiance. Your soul. All of them.

More on Campbell here and here. If you’ve read Will Campbell’s stuff, where would you recommend I start?

7. Let me add my congratulations to David and John!

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  • Lori

    Not all wildfires are created equal and I suspect you aren’t dumb enough to think they are.

  • Alix

    We get hurricanes ’round my area every year, too. (More or less. Up here, the remains, usually.) That doesn’t mean that, oh, the amount and intensity of those storms hasn’t changed (both have) and aren’t linked to climate change (going theory says probably!).

    Just because something has happened in the past, even regularly, even frequently, doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been significant change in some part of their nature.

  • Yeah, I get that bug every few years. But it turns out the Classics can be quite a slog for someone with my tastes and my distressingly slow reading speed.

  • Emcee, cubed

    One Million Moms does the boycott thing, though NOM often supports it. Of course, we know little about OMM, since they are really little more than a facebook page. Seriously, NOM was once a major force, spearheading numerous campaigns around the country, and now 30 or so states have anti-marriage amendments, a large part because of their efforts. Only recently have they been losing ground and are becoming irrelevant. OMM, on the other hand, has been a joke since the beginning.

  • dpolicar

    Leaving the politics out of it, EG strikes me as one of those books it’s good to read as an early adolescent (the chronological age associated with this varies) but which doesn’t keep up with one as one matures.

  • I can’t tell….Is he trying to give the evil eye, or avert it?

  • Turcano

    Avert it. That’s that the corna is supposed to do.

  • There must be some kind of record for the amount of flip-flops on the matter undertaken by CFA.

  • Yes, yes, they are totally 100% exactly equivalent phenomena



  • MarkTemporis

    As a longtime student of HPL and member of an ethnic group he literally turned into monsters in his work (Polynesians = Deep Ones), I get the distinct impression that were he alive, you could actually change his mind about some of his more retrograde opinions. As an atheist, he’d be more responsive to appeals to reason, and his racism was more ignorance than anything else — he was an ardent anti-semite right up until he fell in love and married a Jew, after all.

  • aunursa

    Among other things, the hottest 12 years on record have been in the last 15 years.

    So then have we passed the point of no return?

    What exactly do you think reaching the point of no return on climate change looks like?

    I don’t know what it looks like. Similar to the Iran nuclear bomb timeline, the point of no return timeline keeps changing. Or so I am told.

  • aunursa

    You’re projecting again.

  • SisterCoyote

    Oh, damn it all.

  • SisterCoyote

    Er, no, you’re kind of being a jerk the last couple threads.

  • reynard61

    Insurance companies are now part of the Vast Left-wing Conspiracy. It was in last week’s “Things I now believe as part of my membership in The Tribe” memo. You *did* get your copy, didn’t you?

  • With his hand in that position, I can’t help but picture him about to throw the horns and start headbanging.

  • What Naked Bunny said. HPL was incredibly racist, but we have no reason to believe that anyone currently selling his books, or any Lovecraft-themed items, is supporting a racist cause. We can spend our money with a clear conscience.

    Also, this: http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/02/21/1619481/an-ethical-guide-to-consuming-content-created-by-awful-people-like-orson-scott-card/

  • I read that European clergy railed against the use of anaesthetics during childbirth, because the pain was Eve’s punishment. Then Queen Victoria asked for (and received) ether during one of her births, and praised it to the skies. British clergy, at least, had to STFU.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    I devoured Ender’s Game in high school. Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide followed, and then Children of the Mind. All great books, and they encouraged me to dabble in science fiction myself.

    It’s not always a good idea to know very much about your heroes. They sometimes tend to have feet of clay. Discovering Card’s true views was…unpleasant, to say the least. The same was true with James P. Hogan.

  • Daniel

    I just get genuinely curious- I really want to understand what he believes and why. Which is why it’s so frustrating that most of his replies are smug non-answers like “Wise up”. It has all the substance of the joke on a lolly stick, but apparently is sufficient basis for a whole ethos.

  • FearlessSon
  • Fanraeth

    I doubt very much that the Bible-clutching, gay-hating whackjobs that flocked to Chik-Fil-A’s defense have even heard of Orson Scott Card, much less Ender’s Game. He’s alienated the scifi/fantasy fandoms by being a raging douchecanoe and they’re fighting back.

  • aunursa

    Offering a perspective that conflicts with the general consensus = being a jerk.

    Got it.

  • Jenny Islander

    Huh. My ALC (now ELCA) confirmation class made no attempt to brush away Luther’s horrific bigotry. The pastor said that it’s possible to be a good and decent person and also believe and preach some horrible things; conversely, people can be horrible jerks in daily life and say beautiful things. Luther’s understanding of grace, he said, was in his opinion Heavenly, but he would understand if we didn’t want to be associated with Luther the person. (Note that our confirmation class took place in our last year of high school, so we were looking at striking out on our own anyway. The same speech given to a bunch of junior high kids would have been a bad joke.)

  • And Brandon Sanderson. I remain saddened that his ethos seem to be based around “Well, my churches teaches that it’s wrong, so I guess I have no choice but to believe it’s wrong.”

  • Alix

    Thanks for the link! That’s a good article.

  • Michael Pullmann

    That’s brilliant. I’ve got to try that sometime.

  • caryjamesbond

    I’ve always gotten the impression that Lovecraft’s racism was born more out of a lack of mental health than anything else. If his letters and personal relationships are any indication, he was a very depressed and isolated man. Being in that position can lead to some very twisted thoughts about the world and the people in it.

    Particularly when you compare him with other contemporaries like Robert E. Howard, and their more “Jolly good being white and anglo, wot wot, thank god I’m not a wog” sort of racism. Lovecraft’s was more virulent, but in a weird, lashing-out sort of way.

  • Daniel

    It deletes entire pages of text that I write. Be grateful I’m too lazy to retype it. And too butterfly brained to remember what I wrote, else I’d be clogging this place up like beans in a u bend.

  • Daniel

    Well stop bloody whining and do that then. Just keep all your pearls to yourself and allow all the other people to get on with their lives. How are Christians being scapegoated?

  • Lori

    So you have no idea what it looks like, but you’re sure we haven’t passed it and are at least implying that the whole thing is BS? Brilliant.

  • Lori

    No aunursa, I was noticing that you were going through another one of your idiotic combative phases and that you said something really shitty in a rather shitty sort of way.

  • Actually IIRC someone pointed out all the ways Pat Robertson was totally cheating at that leg press.

  • Between the “Card Curse” and his shitty behavior, I refuse to read anything but “Ender’s Game”.

    V fgvyy ernyyl, ernyyl yvxr gur Znmre Enpxunz erirny, nf jryy nf Raqre’f ernyvmngvba gung ur npghnyyl sbhtug gur Ohttref.

  • Frankly, I’ll take Brandon Sanderson’s benign neglect of the issue over Orson Scott Card’s regular cycles of flaming assholishness.

  • That’s not benign neglect. He donates to the Mormon church, and we know how influential that was in California.

  • MarkTemporis

    Depressed and isolated, but still intellectually curious, and to me that’s the key to still being able to change and improve one’s self.

  • So do lots of Mormons. I don’t count their socially-obligatory tithing system as a black mark against Sanderson so much as his use of his author pulpit. In OSC’s case he uses it to bully and berate QUILTBAG people. In Sanderson’s case he’s positively enlightened compared to OSC.

  • By comparison, I suppose, but I’m still not particularly thrilled to know that I indirectly contributed to the passing of Proposition 8 in California.

  • Daniel

    It’s also important to remember that even in countries where antisemitism was ingrained in the culture, the powers that be accepted Jewish communities for their usefulness- particularly in circumventing church requirements about usury. I’m thinking of England here, where the word “holocaust” applied to Jewish people was first used- but earlier than Luther, in the actual mediaeval period.

    Bohemia, scene of the proto-Reformation uprising by Jan Hus, had, and still had until the war, a huge royally endorsed Jewish community- the ghetto in Prague was issued its own flag and was given near self-governing powers from the 15th century. Jews in Venice were much less persecuted than in other Italian states- maybe not explicit endorsement from the state, but again they had a reasonable degree of freedom and acceptance compared to say Spain and Portugal at the same time.
    As mentioned above Poland (which was much bigger and more powerful then, and covered a hell of a lot of eastern and central Europe) was also very tolerant. These were powerful nations, the seats of Empires, and they officially endorsed their Jewish citizens. Luther’s extreme antisemitism was not reflective of every European state, nor even of every German state at the time.

  • Daniel

    Also this was not mediaeval, it was Renaissance/Early Modern. That means it coincided with the rise in humanism across Europe, and an increased emphasis on learning and tolerance, and the increase in interest in the Kabalah- for alchemical studies that meant Jewish mystics and Rabbis were afforded royal patronage across Europe.