Sunday, October 21, 2012

Who the hell writes this stuff?

In reading what might be an otherwise unremarkable NY Times book review on a biography on Brigham Young, I came upon this passage:

The perennial question in Mormon history is: Whose side are you on? For over a century, the church cleaved to “faith-­promoting” histories about heroic Joseph and Brigham, and the evil Gentiles who persecuted them. As recently as 19 years ago, Salt Lake’s guardians of the Saintly flame excommunicated several prominent writers and historians for what the old-line Soviets would have called “deviationist” points of view. (Some of them have since rejoined the church.)
Turner is on the side of good history, and he generally negotiates the many tripwires in the Saints’ story — the “hall of mirrors,” as he calls it — with aplomb. For example, he unflinchingly recounts the notorious 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which Mormons and their Paiute Indian allies killed a group of emigrants from Arkansas. While he writes that Young encouraged the Indians to attack the wagon trains, Turner allows that no document directly links him to the horrific murders of 120 men, women and children. Turner does note that Young cynically billed the federal government for $3,527 worth of gifts supposedly distributed to “sundry bands of Indians near Mountain Meadow.” The gifts — steers, clothing and butcher knives — had in fact been plundered from the slaughtered settlers. What Turner calls “the dark stain the Mountain Meadows Massacre” left on Young’s reputation remains to this day.

That this guy, Brigham Young, is celebrated by any segment in our society is pathological, and probably  more pathological than if any segment of our society celebrated Sonny Barger - the latter I would claim and those like him are more honest in their endeavors.  You know what the Hell's Angels are.   They don't claim to be the one true religion yada yada yada.

Of course, that a nominee for President of the United States can't bring himself to address issues such as this - that is to say, how does he square his Mormon-ness with the questionable history of this church - and that nobody wants to go there is even more pathological.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"And a religious worldview, like any worldview, can dispose a researcher toward certain mistakes in thinking?"

So says the NY Times Beliefs editor.

I suspect the editor may be right, but not in the way that he thinks...

The case in point involved some kind of social science researcher who is some kind of right-wing Christian who managed to get a study published that claimed that households run by teh gay have more problems than otherwise, and the resulting brouhaha.

One can easily imagine why there might be reasons where this is true, but irrelevant (e.g., gays have more problems because heterosexuality as defined with a male patriarchy is privileged in this society, for starters).

But I digress a bit...

The worldview we should aspire to is no worldview.  The writer seems to make it as though worldviews were like clothing or hair styles, and most right wing Christians make this sort of appeal.    But it's immature in the extreme -it is like saying, do we want to play spies or cowboys and Indians or Muslim and Christian?

We shouldn't seek to adopt a set of beliefs - although much brouhaha has also been made of the Buddhism without Beliefs of Stephen Bachelor,  the point remains that Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and the 10,000 things is going to be Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and the 10,000 things no matter what we necessarily want to make believe is true about them.

So, in a sense, any worldview is already a mistake.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Changing the world...

I have recently been involved in trying to do something new in my work life.  This new thing is kind of evolving with a bunch of people.

There's obstacles.  The obstacles are being maneuvered in a 功夫 kind of way - "being like water."  Obstacles are a form of dukkha.  There's one particular obstacle that has been bothering me...but I think I figured a way around that obstacle - and it requires a profundity in what we are doing.

I think I may be on to something - the degree to which one can transcend the obstacles in life is the degree to which, in being like water, we make a profound radical change (not necessarily an arduous one.)

Thanks everyone for your continued support on this blog!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

This is obviously, totally not the right way to go

If you give kids pills because their environment's bad, you are fostering the notion that you should not change what you should change, and you are fostering the notion that it takes something external to one to change what is inside of one. And it teaches them that there is separation, and that society's sicknesses must be accommodated  for rather than treated.

Friday, October 05, 2012

"I feel like it's getting out God's word to those who need it."

School district officials ordered the cheerleaders to stop putting Bible verses on the banners, because they believed doing so violated the law on religious expression at public school events. In response, a group of 15 cheerleaders and their parents sued the Kountze Independent School District and its superintendent, Kevin Weldon, claiming that prohibiting the students from writing Christian banner messages violated their religious liberties and free-speech rights.

On Thursday afternoon, the two sides met in a courtroom on the second floor of the Hardin County Courthouse. It had all the trappings of a high-profile courtroom drama: Lawyers from both sides haggled over the Texas Constitution and the cheerleaders’ own constitution, a police officer with an assault rifle and binoculars was stationed on the roof, reporters filled the jury box, and one witness — Kieara Moffett, an 11th grade cheerleader — teared up on the stand during cross-examination.

The superintendent’s decision has outraged many students and their parents, and has brought national attention upon a small town about two hours outside Houston. The cheerleaders’ supporters have put up lawn signs and started a Facebook page called Support Kountze Kids Faith that, with nearly 50,000 members, far exceeds the town’s population of 2,100...

Each side’s lawyers cast their clients as courageous: The teenage cheerleaders, for standing up to the school district to protect their religious views, and Mr. Weldon, himself a Christian and a former football coach, for taking an unpopular position in a largely conservative Christian town in order to, as he sees it, uphold the law.

After a daylong hearing that included the testimony of two cheerleaders, District Judge Steven Thomas of Hardin County decided to extend for an additional 14 days more a temporary restraining order that he had put in place two weeks ago. The move prevents district officials from enforcing the ban on religious signs for 14 days and allows the cheerleaders to continue to create and display the banners at the home game on Friday night as well as other coming games. It seemed likely that the judge would hold another hearing in two weeks.

“I feel like it’s getting God’s word out to those that need it,” Kieara, 16, said of the banners.
Yeah, people need to see bible verses and they need to do so at the football games to which they go.
And yeah, Kieara, you surely feel that way,  I submit.

I don't know how far it goes back, but the arrogance of this stuff is breathtaking.  Regardless of what eventually happens in this case (which depends, naturally on case law being followed, which in this benighted time and that benighted place might be different than what one might expect), regardless of what happens, it certainly doesn't reflect well on the bible sputtering cheer-leaders, their parents, or their religion.

It all leads to death...and when you die, they die. The gut bacteria, that is.

My wife was reminding me last night about one acquaintance with a brain tumor who now can't recognize others and another who is in the last stages of liver cancer.

There's a heck of a lot of dreck that comes about in the course of living one's life.

And it all leads to death.

The trick is doing it gracefully, beautifully, and compassionately, and yes, with skill.

At the same time I still know the 67 year old guy who can do 詠春券 to the point where he can outdo others.

So, yeah, it depends on skill.

And when you die, they die.


The bacteria flora in your gut, inter alia.

The bacteria flora in your gut are responsible for amazing things. According to a recent RadioLab Show (entitled, helpfully enough, "Guts;" you can Google it, I'm working through a bad cold this week), the ecosystem of bacteria flora in your gut are more than possibly strong contributors to one's mood.

This brings the whole issue of 5 aggregates and all that into an entirely different realm, I think.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

How to handle a pathological liar...or, advice to Barack Obama

I watched the debates last night, or I should say parts of them. Yeah, yeah Romney lied through his teeth and Barry pulled his punches.

I mean, if I were there, and Willard was spewing the lies that he told, I would have put it to him thusly:

"Mitt, we know what you've said in the past; it's recorded multiple times all over the place.  Either you've changed your positions - again - which brings up fundamental questions about trusting you - or - you're not being honest here tonight, which also brings up fundamental questions about trusting you.  Is there anything you'd like to walk back considering the video record that's out there?"

Simple enough.  Maybe the Obama folks know this and are going to blitz the airwaves with these ads which would be so easy to make.  But as for me, I simply would have said the above.  It's true, it's accurate, it's somewhat delicate.  And it pins Romney.  And it's what people would have wanted to see. 

Either that or the whole thing's been scripted from the get-go.  I can't discount that.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

We're all downtrodden...even if we believe we're not...

An interesting point is made in the NY Times recurring talking head series "Room for Debate" by one Hastings Wyman, in this case, on why the South is more right-wing than the rest of the USA.  Well, actually he could have made it slightly better, so I'll make the slightly better version:

There were two ethnic groups alone in the South, and pretty much nobody else, unlike pretty much the rest of the country.  The native Americans were largely exterminated or ethnically cleansed.

So there weren't really Irish to realize that in their being picked on by the WASPs,  they were in solidarity with Germans,  Jews,  Poles, Italians, and,  yes, African Americans and Latinos.

I think it's one of the cases where if we can see our common state of dukkha, we're a bit better off; a smidgen of suffering is transcended right there.