Romney’s Foreign Policy Team, Same as Bush’s.

If you liked our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, you will like a Romney administration.

Looking at some of the characters now on his foreign policy team, it includes the same Keystone Cops that were on the Bush team.  They are like cartoon characters.

The best know is John Bolton.  You may recall him in the Bush Administration.  He was one of the principle figures saying intelligence pointed to weapons of mass destruction.  They later pushed him over to the U. N.  I could see a Romney Administration renewing the search for Iraq weapons of mass destruction on Day One.

For a while, Bush was cute with hints that Iraq was linked to the 9/11 attack.  This was promoted by Elliot Cohen, now, too, a Romney insider.

Then, there is Robert Joesph who pushed the false story Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger.  It took a while for that story to be become comedy material, but it did.

The uneasy thing about these people is you can almost hear their voices when Romney speaks, just as we could while Bush was President.  Romney talks of military action against Iran.

We all have to admit, foreign policy, war and peace and everything involving international affairs must be complicated with much information hidden from those of us in the public.  But, after the fact, we can see if mistakes were made.

The Bush Administration looks worse and worse as time goes  on.  I hope we don’t vote in another team like that one.

Less Hell Christianity.

While I’m not a theologian, the “less hell” branch of the faith seems to be gaining popularity.  Another name for it might be the emerging church and perhaps liberal protestantism in general.

The most successful individuals in “less hell” are  Rob Bell and Joel Osteen.  Both have, or still, minister in mega churches founded around the idea Christianity is all about the positive, not the negative.  Osteen’s church is said to have 16,000 members.  Bell is a best selling author.

By emphasizing acceptance of people, rather than condemnation, this new Christian brand downplays the importance and existence of hell.  It slips seamlessly into current culture.  Elementary children are taught not to bully.  This means they are to accept differences.

The “less hell” approach says Jesus accepts you and does not condemn you.  There might not even be a hell, this branch of the faith teaches.

I have the impression the “less hell” branches of the mega church compete with liberal denominations of Protestantism Catholicism, both of which are losing members.

On the other end, fundamentalist denominations, like the Southern Baptist Convention, is losing members as well.  This, while pentecostal churches are doing well.

The Southern Baptists and really big on hell, while Pentecostals are into a direct and personal relationship with the god.  Perhaps they compete and the Southern Baptists in what hell means.

I think “less hell” would be more tolerant of homosexuals, women and abortion.  I hope it prevails.

Our Local Paper Will Print Gay Marriage Announcements.

Today the Fargo Forum announced it will print announcements of gay marriages.  It will apply only to marriages performed in states where such marriages are licensed.

Thus, announcements of marriages of local couples which are to take place in North Dakota or Minnesota will not be published until these states change their laws.   If the marriages take place in nearby Iowa the announcements will be published.

Before now, the Forum would not print announcements of any gay marriage.  The change reflects some obvious truths.

One is the Forum, like the church down the street, is a business.  It makes its money by selling advertisements and carrying inserts to your front door.  When the public’s attitudes change, it must change as well.

Conservative religious people have often mistaken themselves for a huge economic force.  They have staged boycotts over pro gay policies of businesses such as Disney.  Today, Disney’s stock is 50% higher than when the boycott began.  I doubt a boycott by local people will be noticed.

Another twist to this new policy is the role of government.  The Forum’s decision recognizes marriage is the business of government, not religion.  Whatever you may think God intended marriage to be does not count.  The Forum could have selected a policy to publish only weddings to be performed by licensed clergy, but it did not.

Hopefully, North Dakota and Minnesota will license gay marriages one day soon.  In the meantime, the new Forum policy is a good start.

Secularism and Atheism

While it is not the end of the world if we do not use words about philosophy exactly as someone else does, these two words have some importance in arguments about religion.  I am guilty of not using the words precisely.

One of the funniest things Newt Gingrich said during his bungled campaign for the Presidency was his grandchildren may have to live in a secular, atheist country dominated by Isalam.  How any country could be secular, atheist and Islamic at the same time is beyond me.

Technically, secularism has nothing to do with people either being religious and being not religious.  It is about a government that is not religious.   Thus, the very successful  organization, Americans for the Separation of Church and State, is headed by a minister.  As I recall, it was founded by people who belonged to churches, not atheists.

It seems to be in the interests of some clergy and politicians like Gingrich to confuse people about the definition of secularism.  They do this by mixing it together with atheism, and, even the religion of Islam.

Some atheists mix them together also.  There are unbelievers who do not want religion to be available to anyone.  If this were the case, they say, we would have  a secular country.  It would be more accurate to call it an atheist country, hopefully with a secular government.

Thus, a secular country could be dominated by either religious or not religious people.  The founding fathers seemed to have this in mind.

People Can Change.

I just returned from a four day airplane enthusiast’s group,  the Cessna 150-152 Club. There was camaraderie, laughter, loops, spins and hammerheads.

This would not be noteworthy but for the history of the group.  It has not always been so.  There were times when the group contained a lot of tension and ill will.

The tension centered on whether or not it was OK to promote Christian views and conservative politics during the gathering and on the club’s very active website discussion.  For some reason, a group of members thought the club was the appropriate opportunity to explain the hell that awaits the unbeliever and the terrible things people in the Democratic Party stand for.

I was the first to start complaining about this on the club website.  The responses to my complaints were atheists and liberals were becoming too aggressive and since it was only me, I should just keep quiet.

As time went on, more people became emboldened. One set were skeptics like me.  Another set were church goers but wanted the club to be about flying, not about religion and politics. Insults and counter insults were the norm.

Ever so slowly, a little light went on in the heads of believers and political conservatives.  A voice said, “Gosh, a lot of people here want to discuss airplanes, not religion and politics. Maybe it’s better for the Club if we don’t bring these issues up.”

This week, a good time was had by all.



Boy Scouts and Values.

Many of us have been involved with Boy Scouts.  It is sad to see this great organization falling into dogma not good for it’s boys nor their country.  The most disappointing is the prohibition of gay parents from leadership rolls in the organization. It also has a requirement for a belief in “god”.

These and other issues would not be so bad were it not the organization bills itself mostly as secular.  It is not a secular organization, but a religious one.

Some say its anti gay position is only temporary–when it is apparent the views are out of the mainstream, it will change.  This is unlikely.

The reason it is unlikely is money.  I’ve read the largest source of money for Boy Scouts of America are fundamentalist churches.  One would surmise Boy Scout views will be like those of fundamentalists.  Indeed, they are.

To be “morally upright” as Boy Scouts are supposed to be, it seems like honesty would be high on the list.  If Boy Scouts of America were not honest it would state clearly, “We are a religious organization.

So much it good about the Boy Scouts, it is disappointing to see it espouse prejudice and religious dogma.  Projects, merit badges and the rest of the program have obviously stood the test of time.

The Boy Scout program could be every bit as successful without social and religious indoctrination.  It would also project honesty from an organization which always claimed it as a central tenet.


Who is in Heaven, Joe Paterno or Sally Ride?

The obituary of Sally Ride, the first woman in space, included the revelation she was a lesbian.  I wondered how the public would compare her with the recently departed football coach, Joe Paterno, of Penn State.

Although Joe Paterno’s teams won lots of football games, apparently he was aware of child abuse by his staff and did not make certain it stopped. I’m sure he, like many of the high ranking clergy in the Catholic church, did not want his program to receive bad publicity.

Unlike Paterno, Ride lived what was reported to be an exemplary life with no such black marks.  She started and ran a nonprofit which encouraged young women to enter the sciences.  She did not ruin lives.

Nevertheless, if one polled the public after Ride’s lesbian disclosure, I would guess Paterno’s career in the testosterone game of football would cause a majority of the public to see him, not lesbian Ride, as the one who sits with the Almighty today.  Such is on the street theology in the U. S.

What would change the minds of people who would judge a person’s entire character by their sexual preference?  I would guess there is nothing but the sands of time.

While young people who see the exemplary life of Sally Ride as evidence she is a person to be admired, an older generation judges her as a sinful person and sees Joe Paternal as the something above reproach, “a leader”.

I don’t believe either is in heaven.  So far as we know, it does not exist.


The Drought, Does it Have Theological Significance?

I am at the little airport in Iowa where I come each year for the Cessna 150-152 Fly In.  The grass here is brown and the earth hard.  I struggled to get my anchors screwed into the ground to tie my plane down.

Flying over all the dry area of the Midwest, while distressing to see, is also a testament of the whims of nature.  It’s magnificent power can be seen in the extremes of weather we experience.

I’ve noticed none of the religious sites have anything to offer in the way of theological analysis or meaning about the drought.  My impression is that to be considered “punishment”, a weather event, or current event, must have drama associated with it.

Large thunderstorms, tornadoes, fires and such seem to have meaning, while dry crops do not.  Mass murders like that in Colorado have meaning while deaths in car crashes do not.

Since these storms, fires and murders have not theological significance, I am happy to see no such commentary about the drought.  It would be even better if preachers and politicians would not on people’s emotions by pretending to pray for rain.  I’m sure there will be a lot of this coming up, and, if anyone complains about it, they will be labeled as being unkind and unsympathetic.  This, in spite of the fact they are merely trying to separate reality from myth.

I hope it rains soon.  But, until it does, we can simply sit back and watch the amazing power of nature.

Michelle Bachmann, Intelligence Sleuth.

Michelle Bachmann sees the Muslim Brotherhood behind every rock.  She sees it in two public officials where, apparently, there is no connection what so ever.

The time has come to recognize the world as it actually is, not as seen through the emotional eyes we have used now for so many years.  A better approach would be to reiterate this country’s principle of freedom of religion and endorse the public service of these two Muslim citizens.  There are, after all, professional people who’s job it is to look for enemies of our country.

There is a lot of amature detective work in the Republican Party.  Dick Chaney did not like the intelligence work done by professionals on the weapons of mass destruction issue.  Because of this, he set up his own intelligence operation and made certain the people in it saw things the way he did.

The professionals, of course, were right.  There were no weapons of mass destruction either.  My guess is that professionals have not found anything subversive about these two Muslim officials.

What little I know about the Muslim Brotherhood is that it is in flux.  If this is correct, it could become a worse enemy of the west, or, a better friend than it is now.

The oldest entry in the diplomacy play book is to pit groups that are unfriendly to us against each other.  The worst thing is to unit them against us.

W. Bush did a good job or uniting opposition against us.  Bachmann shows potential.


People of Faith, The Denver Murders Had Nothing To Do With You.

The Christian web sites are full of commentary about the 20 some people killed in Denver. I’d suggest to not read into it something not present.

Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Seminary, writes, ” Christians are driven by instinct to think in biblical or theological terms.”

He is right some Christians often think these events have meaning.  They don’t.

They attribute importance to their religion and their own particular version of it.  The Bible and theology are useless in explaining what happened.

Someone wrote our secularism caused it.  Then, there are Christians who write there is too much arguing in the faith, this is why it happened.

Mohler argued that somehow the Christian god reduces such impulses in people and makes them happen less frequently than would otherwise.  Then, he makes an even more foolish point the cross somehow turns the person committing the crime onto himself.

To place this event in perspective, let’s start with an undeniable fact.  On the same day these 20 some people were murdered, 127 people (average), were killed on U. S. highways.  Of these 127, about half were killed where alcohol was involved.  So, that is 60 some people killed in alcohol related deaths every day.

Do the Christian instincts to ponder the biblical or theological meanings kick in when you read about automobile deaths? Of course not.

The god cannot stop any of these from happening.  Humans and prevent them by being more responsible.