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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why 1 in 5 Americans are Wrong

White Christian Americans have always been a tad myopic. There is no wonder that a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life poll suggests that 1 in 5 Americans feel that Barak Obama is Muslim. I can't characterize the finding as Americans "thinking" that President Obama is Muslim. It is their myopia that stands in the way of thinking and leads people to feel instead.

Here is my point. Western culture is predisposed to view everything as a matter of black and white, good and bad, right and wrong, Christian and not Christian. Try this exercise yourself. A child is born. His mother is Caucasian and his father is Negro (please pardon my choice of words. Some Africans are white.) Is the child black or white?

Now change the father to Chinese. Is the child white or Chinese? The mother is Swedish Lutheran, the father an Orthodox Jew from the Ukraine. Is the child Jewish or Lutheran? The chances are that most of white Christian America will say: Black, Chinese and Jewish. How did you fare?

In the binary thinking of Western minds, if the child is less than all Caucasian the child is classified by the bloodline that is not Caucasian. Even one-quarter black is black. One-eighth. The converse of this heritage doesn't hold. A grandchild of three Sub-Saharan African grandparents and one Caucasian grandparent is not considered White. He may indeed by ostracized by his family and village for being of less than "pure blood."

It is no wonder that 20% of Americans think wrong about The President's religion. They look at African Muslims and see a resemblance to Mr. Obama. They see and hear his name with the Hussein emphasized and are lead astray. They see his skin color and the texture of his hair and can conclude only one binary thought: He's black, his name is odd and sounds Muslim. Must be Muslim. It's an easy mistake to make when you only have a Yes and a No choice to make. It's easy when one listens to only one source of information. To them, Muslim is an unalterable heritage like a strand of DNA, not a religion that one embraces through study, contemplation, and ritual attainment. It works that way in Christianity too. Calling yourself Christian doesn't make you one. It is in your thoughts, words and deeds and following the teaching of Christ that Christianity arises.

Additional Thoughts: Global Energy Demand

Global Energy Demand

Even if global energy production from coal, oil and gas remains flat, we will run short at the rate of consumption and the increase in the rate of consumption by such countries as India and China. Those two countries comprise about 2.5 billion people. Although they are presently relatively low on the per capita energy use scale, their sheer numbers will overshadow the USA. While our economy is in a slow period and money is being borrowed against our futures anyway, we should be investing it in the infrastructure that we will need in the next 50 years. That way it will not be wasted. If we get better transportation, better healthcare with more doctors and nurses, energy sources that won't choke us, and cities where we can live and thrive then our taxes and the taxes of our children and grandchildren are not wasted and they will benefit them too.

Additional Thoughts: An Unholy Alliance

The Tea Party folks can contract with the NRA to stand in the doorway of the Emergency Rooms of the country and turn away everyone who doesn't have adequate insurance coverage or proof of ability to pay. The NRA people would probably do it for free if they get legislator endorsements. Then Fiscal Conservatives can repeal the healthcare reforms that so enrage them.

Professional OathTakers can then swear to transport and treat only non-14th Amendment citizens regardless of the form of payment presented.

Additional Thoughts: Creationism

God's Creation must be perfect according to theological thinking. How could He create anything less. The day He invented Adam then the woman Eve was the last day of six. Then He rested. Presumably He is still resting or the story would have continued on with how he further created more of the world we see today. One might imagine Him fashioning an automobile in which to ride over the Divine Highways to other equally glorious Gardens. He might have molded a cellphone from acorns and straw so that Man could call his mother on her birthday. Without divine hands it took nearly 6000 years for a man to fashion a lightbulb from glass and tungsten. It took nearly as long for man to invent television so that tele-evangelists could spread His word back around the world from where it came.

While there are fundamentalists who actually do advocate a return to scriptural roots, few western civilization residents would truly feel comfortable with out coal and petroleum fueled vehicles, heated and air-conditioned homes, electricity, radio and TV, telephones either wired or wireless, Internet, airplanes, antibiotics, refrigeration, tap water, flush toilets, TP, and antibacterial hand sanitizers.

All of these items have come about in the last 100 years, after 5,900 years since Creation. It seems that although God might have provided a great start, since then man's ingenuity seems to have taken over. God might have provided the creativity that is in mankind, that creativity has accomplished a lot of impressive things.

A divinely inspired scripture is only closely rivaled by the American Constitution for its ability to form the framework of a civilization and a society that is able to reinvent itself without completely trashing everything that came before. Whereas the constitution is a document and code of conduct that is able to evolve after its creation, the holy Bible is not. Every educator hopes that in some way his or her students will eventually exceed the sum of all the information and ideas that are stuffed into their tiny heads. I suspect that God as the great teacher would be no different.

There are the persistent students who never leave academia until they are forced out. They do not make that transition from learning to using that knowledge for fruitful purposes. They are fond of impressing others with what they know rather than with how they can utilize it for anything beneficial. They become masters of citation. The can quote chapter and verse without ever really understanding what the words mean. In their academic cloisters, if a statement or idea is not thoroughly peer reviewed and approved, it is utter nonsense and worthless for consideration. In this way, even something as well known as a spherical earth took hundreds of years to reach the status of common knowledge.

For they who are ardent adherents of biblical scripture, we can suggest that they fore go everything that came about after the day Adam was molded from the clay and had the breath of life blown into his nostrils. Upon this act, the rest of us might be able to believe that they are serious about their theological convictions and maybe sufficiently vetted in order to be believable.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Whether the stone hits the pitcher, or the pitcher hits the stone.."

"it's going to be bad for the pitcher." Cervantes.

The day had worn on under the blistering sun in the nation's Capitol. The atmosphere of DC held its heat as the workday wound down. I was sitting on my wheelchair waiting to cross G Street to the Metro. I had just crossed 13th as the pedestrian signal counted down to Zero and the traffic signal was about to change. A man forged ahead on his urgent crossing followed by a 30-ish man with white ear buds and his walking music surging in his head.

After he had crossed about halfway to the other side, an automobile driver sped straight through the intersection on HIS urgent engagement. I marveled at the synchronization of the early pedestrian and the late driver. As the car zipped behind the pedestrian, he momentarily looked back at what has blown that wind on him. I was glad that his music hadn't suddenly stopped and he too stopped to adjust his tunes-device as I have seen done so many times IN the Metro while people are walking ahead of me and suddenly stop for no apparent reason.

I proceeded when the pedestrian signal began its countdown. The man stopped at the corner while attending to his electronics. I arrived as he was about to obliviously cross my path as I zipped up the curb ramp.

"Did you see that," he asked?

"Well you were crossing on HIS signal."

"He ran the red light. It has just changed."

"and you were already more than halfway across the street when he did. I thought, 'I can't believe that guy is crossing the street now'," I said to him.

"He could have killed someone," he proclaimed.

"Not just someone. You."

"He was wrong," the lament continued.

"Whether he was wrong or you were wrong, it would be bad for you," I said, paraphrasing Don Quixote.

He continued on his way and I grabbed the moving handrail of the center escalator to descend into the station for my ride on the Metro Red Line.