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BDS: Beautiful, Delicious Summer

3:12 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at the demise

A picnic spread on a blanket outdoors

Some politics for your next picnic.

Been thinking of having a summertime picnic – and as it always is with a picnic, trying to determine what yummy summertime portable food to bring, what other equipment to pack — and most importantly: the setting.

I’ve picnicked on the banks of Amphitheater Lake on the top of Wyoming’s Grand Teton, on the iron-stone shores of Lake Superior, in the springtime groves of the Hudson River Valley’s fragrant blooming apple orchards, on the banks of the Flathead River in the Great Bear Wilderness, watching the sun sink below Midwestern farm fields and the Mississippi River, on the beach at Mora in Olympic National Park, on the sandy shores of the Atlantic as it lapped up on Puerto Rico, on the knobby green mountains of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway, at sacred Native American sites in Arizona (within both State and National parks), in the rolly green hills of Wisconsin’s driftless region, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the Cocteau friendly town of Menton France, on the shore of the wild North Atlantic coast at the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim Ireland, in the High Atlas Mountains of central Morocco, surrounded by a magnificent and usable piece of modern art by Frank Gehry in Chicago’s Millennium Park and even amongst the hundred year old trees that dot the Boston Common…so many beautiful spots to picnic in this world.

Breathtaking, delightful settings.

I read a story in the UK’s Guardian newspaper that described some Israelis who have been picnicking themselves over the past week – having a nice summertime meal, sharing wine and sharing community in this sweet and sweltery season, on the hills that overlook Gaza. I’m sure the view is remarkable – heard about those picnickers taking pictures and just basically enjoying themselves … even whooping it up together as they celebrate a meal al fresco in the summer evenings.

Bombing … destruction … senseless

If you are thinking about picnicking and are considering how to fill that picnic basket, here are some things you may want to remember to forget.

Food products:

  • Sabra Hummus: After capturing 60 percent of the American hummus market, Sabra also is attempting to capture the hearts of Israel by “adopting” an Israel Defense Forces unit. The company’s chairwoman says that IDF soldiers are “not army, Israeli soldiers are our kids.”
  • Tribe Hummus :The second largest hummus seller in America, one of whose owners has a long and cooperative relationship with the Jewish National Fund, which is the Israeli organization that buys up Palestinian land (from “absent owners”) and only leases the land to Israeli settlers. The JNF also has a nasty habit of using Caterpillar bulldozers to flatten Bedouin villages…repeatedly.
  • Jaffa Citrus: Grown in the Jordan Valley, 94 percent of which has been land-grabbed by Israel. Extracting wealth from stolen lands is against international law. Knowing this, Jaffa’s products may well leave a sour taste in your mouth.
  • Golan Heights Wine: Named after land stolen from Syria more than 40 years ago, this biz claims in its advertising that it grows its grapes in Israel’s world-class vineyards. More accurate; “grown on land Israel has occupied in contravention of international law for generations.”
  • Soda Stream products: Soda Stream manufactures its products on illegally occupied Palestinian land. Choose instead the similar product made by Cuisine Art called ‘Sparkling Beverage Maker’, and your soda glasses won’t get bloodstains on them.
  • Ahava Cosmetic Products: Ahava operates on land stolen from Palestine and, in a bizzaro fashion, is owned in part by settlement villages the establishment of which is a violation of international law. Another part owner manufactures motion detection systems used by Israel on it’s apartheid wall. Additionally, Ahava excavates the raw materials to make their products from illegally occupied lands. That’s an international law violation three-fer.
  • Medjool Dates: Medjool farms land stolen from Palestine using Palestinian child labor, while often labeling that their products come instead from Israel. Operating on stolen land, using child labor and misrepresenting the origin of the product? That’s a real blind date.

Picnic Togs:

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New Zealand Church Can’t Find Advertising Regulations in King James’ Edition

1:23 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at the demise

A page from a personally annotated bible, with verses highlighted and notes.

The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority favored honesty over religion.

In America, where Christians have the hobby of lobbying the courts and their legislators for all kinds of special treatment, the faithful, with little green papers stamped with the words “In God We Trust” in their pockets, listen to all sorts of self-appointed (and often finely appointed) ministers who advise the poor and sick that god really wants them to be wealthy and healthy, and who promise that they can be all helpy — while separating the faithful from their dollars in a manner that’s stealthy.

In New Zealand, where the government attempts to encourage even those who claim spiritual motivation to make honest representations as they ply their wares (or scares, as the case may be), the governmental agency that monitors advertisers’ claims, the Advertising Standards Authority, has ordered an evangelical church to cease advertising so-called “healing sessions” due to the fact that there is no medical evidence that prayer is capable of healing the health problems that their adverts suggest it can.

The Universal Church for the Kingdom of God in New Zealand passed out brochures promising that praying to the universe’s head doctor in their chapel will bring relief to “people who suffer with constant pain, deteriorating health, can’t work due to illness, incurable disease, doctors who don’t know what’s wrong, dependent on pills, recovering from injury, weight problems (and) sick children.”

The Advertising Standards Authority’s Complaint Board ruled that the church’s claim as absolute fact, as opposed to an opinion, that prayer can cure or mitigate disease and sickness violated the country’s advertising standards and ordered that the church discontinue its advertising blitz.

The church pointed out to the government authority that it only conducts prayer ceremonies and that they believe, “God can heal the sick, and it is He who heals.” The church also reminded the governmental authority that the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God was “no different from any other church in this regard.” The authority found, however, that the church’s claims could quite possibly “mislead and deceive vulnerable people who may be suffering from any of the illnesses listed in the advertisement.”

The authority received a complaint from an organization called the Society for Science Based Healthcare, that advised the government that the church’s claims violated New Zealand’s Therapeutic Products Advertising Code, thereby “failing to uphold the high standard of social responsibility” required under the law.

At the time of publishing, Joel Osteen and Benny Hinn were unavailable for comment as they were spending the day at Florida’s “Holy Land Experience” theme park enjoying rides on the “Immaculate Conception” water coaster and noshing on “Last Supper” funnel cake.

God also could not be reached for comment, as She was at Her doctor’s office for Her yearly physical.

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Pope says nope to dope; I say, extend the metaphor

8:03 am in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

Pope Francis - Caricature

Pope Francis – Caricature

The high priest of the Catholic branch of the Abrahamic school of religions has cast his lot amongst the neo-prohibitionists by dismissing the bold experiments of the denizens of Colorado, Washington and Uruguay to end the nightmare scourge of the prohibition of one of the gods’ most appreciable gifts, cannabis, calling the movements to legalize the biblically referred to substance “highly questionable”.

Speaking to the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome (a group of law enforcement officials and policy makers who are seeking guidance as they face a new world where many have realized that they have been lied to by self-interested money-swillers and bigoted jailhouse-fillers for eighty years about what is arguably the world’s oldest cultivated plant who invited the insights of the spiritual leader of the sect of Abrahamic monotheism that claims that Jesus, the barefoot wandering preacher of the first century who challenged his adherents to care for the sick and remember those who are imprisoned, is their messiah) Francis said that cannabis legalization movements “however limited, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs,’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce desired effects.” The pontiff continued, “The scourge of drug use continues to spread inexorably, fed by a deplorable commerce which transcends national and continental borders.” Francis told his audience of law enforcers that, “Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise.”

The Pope, having ministered to addicts for years as a priest and even as he rose through the ranks to become the Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in Argentina during Argentina’s dirty war, has surely seen, as many of us have, the hollowed frame of someone we knew who has become addicted to any one of the body eating and mind destroying drugs that are truly a scourge; such as heroin and pharmaceutical opiates, crack and meth – possibly one of gods’ most appreciable evils, addiction. And, I submit, Jorge Mario, who, having had a front passenger’s seat during those Hieronymus Bosch-ian days in Argentina in the 1970′s, when liberation theologists had their babies stolen to be entrusted to ‘true Catholic families’ for proper rearing as the parents were board-walked out of flying helicopters, can be trusted here when he says that drug addiction is truly evil in his view.

It is quite clear, however, that Pope Francis has been getting his information on the addictive properties of cannabis from our president’s go-to neo-prohibitionist, Dr. Nora Volkow who is the Director of our government’s National Institute on Drug Addiction (an agency within the National Institutes of Health) who has in recent years been the public face of the president’s determined, disgraceful and misrepresentational program to continue the prohibition of cannabis. Volkow is the lead author of a recent report that blazed across the headlines of America’s media outlets reminding the ill-informed and timorous that “Marijuana is addictive!” Because these reefer madness reports failed to mention that scientists say that cannabis is as addictive as caffeine, not heroin or crack, I aver that Francis may just be, you know, taking the word of the experts because they are scientists, and addiction is evil, and any way, why would any government agency that is entrusted with protecting safety of the citizens go out of its way to ignore science and willfully pursue an agenda of supporting misinformation about cannabis, destroying lives and forestalling the comfort of the sick over the course of generations? It doesn’t make sense, might as well go with the experts.

I posit that the pope has fallen under the mesmerizing effects of propagandists, and given his participation in the two thousand year old propagation of the meme that there is only one god, he has to be aware of the insidious power of the constant drume-beat of propaganda messaging…perhaps muted but relentless. And in the war on cannabis, with it’s insinuations and conflations, misrepresentations and racist connotations, the eighty year pogrom has been truly compassion consciousness numbing.

So – in the hope of blowing that propaganda dust out of your cranium, Frankie – consider that cannabis prohibition is an addiction. An addiction that breeds crime. An addiction that feeds on human beings as sure as addiction to really addictive drugs can, in prisons and in hospices. An addiction that costs both dollars and lives. An addiction that haunts my president who fears for his legacy as his brethren are suffering and being discriminated against.

And, traversing in the metaphorical realms of the Christ who always sought to connect a message with reality to enhance its resonance; I propose, extend that christic philosophical framing – The bread is the body, the wine is the blood…and cannabis is the mind. I exclaim with you, il papa, “‘yes’ to life, ‘yes’ to love, ‘yes’ to others, ‘yes’ to education, ‘yes’ to greater job opportunities”. Now, let’s do that sacrament thang!
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Peace Pope Throws Oligarchs Out of the Temple

2:41 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

 

cross posted at the demise

The pope reminded the UN conferees that “an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens.”

The always surprising (largely for taking on the mantle of preaching what the Christ of Christian theology actually taught with respect to compassion, brotherhood and humility) Pope Francis laid down another challenge to the world’s Catholics and the denizens of that oh so special Land-O-Christians; the USofA.

The pope, welcoming a United Nations delegation to a conference in Rome, challenged the executives of the UN Agencies Funds and Programs directorate, which coordinates efforts to promote sustainable development across the globe, to have the audacity to not avert their eyes and minds from “The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off (and) left behind,” and “awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions” that have immediate results irrespective of “religious or political convictions”

Francis implored the members of the international body to challenge “the “economy of exclusion”, the “throwaway culture” and the “culture of death”” and aspire to achieve goals formulated to have “a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment (and) ensure dignified and productive labor for all.” The pope reminded the UN conferees that “an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens.”

Part of the pope’s prescription for addressing the stark inequality that exists in the world today and the continued exclusion of huge sectors of mankind from progress and equality is to harness the scientific and technical abilities that are afforded to our technologically advanced society to approach resolution of the problems of hunger and poverty with “a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness,” pursuing economic and social progress for all humans, in part, through “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State” as well as the honest cooperation between the private sector and civil society at large.

The pope closed his statement to the UN committee by suggesting a page from the “Occupy Movement” and other social movements to elevate humanity (such as Christianity), encouraging the conferees “to work together in promoting a true, worldwide ethical mobilization which, beyond all differences of religious or political convictions, will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jesus can’t get a few winks and God can’t buy Infiniti

12:00 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

 

Cross posted at the demise

Alarmed at the thought of poor shelter-less citizens invading the public’s well-kept city benches, citizens in Davidson, NC motivated by their “concerned for the safety of the neighborhood” have reported to local officials that a vagrant has set up camp in front of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church.

The vagrant, an art installation by Timothy Schmalz, is a life size bronze of a man, sheltering himself against the cold with a makeshift blanket, sleeping on a park bench called “Homeless Jesus”. An indication that the bronze sleeping vagrant is the Christ, the homeless wandering religious philosopher of the first century who challenged the people of his time to “give up all you own and follow” and, in later centuries, was exalted as the “king of kings”, are nail wounds on his exposed bare feet. The bronze is accompanied by a plaque with the gospel verse from Matthew; “as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me.”

Rev. David Buck, St. Alban’s minister, told USA Today that the life-size statue that beckons viewers to become part of the work by leaving space on the ‘park bench’ for a single person to sit “makes people think about their faith commitment and the plight of the homeless in this country.” Rev, Buck feels that the art work, which is on church property, reflects the church’s commitment to social justice. Buck said that it is important to remember that “faith expresses itself not in beautiful buildings only, but mainly in care for those less fortunate, the marginalized.”

The artist had originally attempted to gain the cooperation of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York (both Catholic churches) to display the art work, but had been turned down by both churches.

Concerned citizen Cindy Castano Swannack, who called the police to report the loitering artwork, when advised that the homeless person was actually art that had found a home, said she disagreed with the depiction of Christ as a vulnerable fellow human stating that Jesus was “not a vagrant” and not someone “who needs our help.”

As North Carolina citizens were coming face to face with a homeless Jesus, God himself sued the national credit reporting company Equifax for taking actions to prevent the deity from accessing Infiniti.

God Gazarov, who has a godly credit score of over 720, states in court documents that Equifax has prevented him from securing financing for the Infiniti that he wants to jump in and take for spin around the known universe, or at lease Brooklyn.

Gazarov, a Russian citizen who shares his first name with his grandfather, claims that Equifax has blocked him from accessing his credit file and score because security measures that the company uses refuse to accept that his given name, God, is his real name.

Gazarov says in his complaint that the company has denied his existence for more than 2 years, and his credit history, as reported by the company, is as empty as Christ’s tomb, preventing Gazarov from getting approved for credit cards and loans. Gazarov said that Equifax customer service personnel have even suggested that he change his first name to facilitate smoother credit transactions.

Equifax said that it was working with God to resolve problems with his account. The company says it “has processes in place to help ensure that businesses and individuals requesting access to credit are who they say they are. These processes flag standalone names that generally may not be associated with the valid openings of credit accounts.”

Gazarov’s attorney said that the company now, after the revelation of the court action, may indeed be ready to acquiesce and admit the existence of God.

Jesus schools taking US taxpayers for fools

9:05 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at the demise

Creationist decorated car: Evolution? The Fossils Say NO! Evolution is a Fairy Tale For Grownups

Are tax payer dollars supporting creationism in schools?

Reporter Stephanie Simon writing for Politico has reported on her findings after reviewing government subsidies granted to parents who choose to abandon public education and instead send their school age children to private schools, including hundreds of theological schools. Simon reports that in 2014 US taxpayers will pay nearly $1 billion to subsidize the private education, and in many cases this means the religious education and indoctrination, of grammar and secondary school children across America by providing publicly paid for “vouchers” to their parents.

The movement to expand the subsidization of private school religious indoctrination has been pushed by evangelical politicians who knowingly misrepresent their support of evangelical indoctrination by suggesting that they are simply lending a hand to parents who want to save their children from the terror of “failing public schools,” when their efforts are intended to fund ecumenical education at the expense of all Americans and to the impoverishment of the country’s public school systems.

While it is true that some political supporters of the concept of funding private schooling with US tax dollars are inspired by their support for the get-rich-quick-with-guaranteed-government-income-streams-and-bust-unions-at-the-same-time schemes also known as “charter schools” (Democratic mayor of blue state Chicago Rahm Emmanuel is a big supporter of the charter school projects that enrich private companies with tax dollars that otherwise would be spent on public schools), Simon focused her investigation on Christian institutions that that receive government dollars to teach American children and some of the educational (sic) materials that are used in in these theological schools. What Simon found in her review is that the materials and course outlines of publicly funded Christian learning centers “nurture disdain of the secular world, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists.”

Simon reports that one set of Christian textbooks that is widely used in private ecumenical schools refers to the theory of evolution as “a wicked and vain philosophy” and another is derisive of “modern math theories.” Simon goes on to report that, while most Americans may be aware that Abrahamic religious folklore is taught alongside the theory of evolution in Christian academy biology courses, many are not aware that Christian theological doctrine is infused through all course study in such schools. Simon advises that she found that math instructors take time away from teaching math to teach “biblical numbers” (presumably studying the biblical Book of Numbers) and in language classes students are taught spelling and language skills using example sentences such as; “Many scientists today are Creationists.”

Simon reports that a private school in Pennsylvania that is subsidized with taxpayer dollars advises potential students and their parents that they teach their students that their “understanding is not complete until we filter it through God’s word,” so that students will be able to “disprove the fake and vain philosophies of the world,” and a private Christian school in Georgia uses science classes to train students on how they can refute and argue against established scientific theories.

Furthermore, religious schools are not required to ensure that their curricula conforms with the educational standards that states set for their public grammar and secondary schools and religious schools are often exempted from state school testing regimes that public schools must adhere to.

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South African church leaders have seen this all before

3:01 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

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Christian church leaders in South Africa have extended their support for the upcoming Israel Apartheid Week, an effort to publicize the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The South African Council of Churches urged its member churches to “campaign for greater awareness on all Palestinian struggles in general and the plight of Palestinian Christians in particular,” and requested that member congregations “dedicate Sunday services on March 16th during the upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) campaign to reflect and pray for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel.” The ecumenical group made the appeal after its Triennial Conference which took place in February.

Reverend Dr. Moss Nthla, pastor of the Ebenezer Bible Church and General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa said in a video statement of support of Israeli Apartheid Week that he personally reviewed the situation on the ground in Israel and occupied Palestine on a fact finding mission and was traumatized by what he observed.

Nthla said that the desperation of the subjugated Palestinian people that he witnessed firsthand caused him to “relive the experiences” he had in apartheid South Africa. “From my own experience and many of us who’ve been in the struggle against apartheid,” Nthla said in the video statement, “the similarities are as clear as anything – there’s no other way to describe what we’ve seen in Israel. Many Christians around the world, including in South Africa, are not sufficiently informed about what is going on in the Middle East and what Israel is doing to Palestinians. Israeli Apartheid Week is a good opportunity to raise awareness.”

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu joined the Council of Churches in supporting Israeli Apartheid Week 2014 noting in a statement, “In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime.”

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign was initiated in 2005 by more than 100 Palestinian non-governmental organizations. Now celebrating its tenth year, Israeli Apartheid Week is an international effort to bring awareness to the BDS movement that aims to end Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Arab lands, grant equal rights to Palestinians who live in Israel and promote the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and properties that they have been driven from. All of these goals are the subject of UN resolutions.

Tutu said in his statement, “I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing in the Holy Land that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under Apartheid. I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.”

The courageous stance taken by members of the Council of Churches in support of Palestine has led to criticism of the effort. Reverend Dr. Frank Chikane, president of Apostolic Faith Mission International, and vice president of the South African Council of Churches said in the video statement that his likening the situation in occupied Palestine to apartheid South Africa caused critics to assert that he was “against the Israelis or the Jews.” Chikane reminds his critics, “I love the Jews and the Palestinians alike. When I look at what happens I look at it from the perspective of justice.”

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Tutu said he supports Israeli Apartheid Week and the BDS movement because, as was the case in apartheid South Africa, “People who are denied their dignity and rights deserve the solidarity of their fellow human beings. Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Tutu added, “It doesn’t matter where we worship or live. Jew, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Atheist; Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Gaza – we are members of one family, the human family, God’s family.”

Muslim Leaders Issue Fatwah against Critter Killers

12:34 pm in Uncategorized by patrick devlin

cross posted at the demise

Indonesia-243

“All activities resulting in wildlife extinction without justifiable religious grounds or legal provisions,” are forbidden under Islamic law.

The Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), Indonesia’s highest Islamic clerical body, has issued a fatwah (a religious decree) outlawing the illegal poaching and trafficking of the country’s endangered wildlife species and the wanton decimation of wildlife habitats in the island nation. The religious council deemed illegal hunting of threatened wildlife to be “unethical, immoral and sinful.”

Over the course of the past 20 years vast swaths of Indonesian forests have been leveled by lumber interests to make room for palm oil plantations and other agricultural development. The destruction of the nation’s forests has threated the habitat of many endangered species, including orangutans, Sumatran tigers and elephants.

Asrorun Ni’am Sholeh, the secretary of the council’s commission on fatwas, told Agency France Press; “All activities resulting in wildlife extinction without justifiable religious grounds or legal provisions,” are forbidden under Islamic law. Sholeh said that the theologians concluded that illegal hunting and trading of endangered animal species threatens future generations of the species. Sholeh said the clerical body concluded that whoever “takes away a life, kills a generation. This is not restricted to humans, but also includes God’s other living creatures, especially if they die in vain.”

The World Wildlife Fund released a statement in support of the declared religious prohibition of hunting endangered species, calling the world’s first religious law protecting threatened wild creatures “a positive step forward,” which “provides a spiritual aspect and raises moral awareness which will help us in our work to protect and save the remaining wildlife in the country such as the critically endangered tigers and rhinos.” Read the rest of this entry →