Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Lesson I Would Never Have Learned From Rush Limbaugh

"For years, I never doubted the truthfulness of what I was taught. This is not surprising considering that virtually anything will make sense if it's all you know." ~ Robert Kirby

Jay Leno recently interviewed Rush Limbaugh. It was a very good interview and I was reminded of how generally likable Rush can be.

As Rush spoke, I began to listen critically in ways I would never have thought to do 15 years ago when I was a Dittohead. It is not that I completely disagree with him, but it is clear to me now that he only tells half a story. This is something I never caught when he, and those who share his views, were all I listened to.

Here is an example of when he presents half a story:

RUSH: The economic pie is growing. It's not a zero-sum game. Just because somebody has $800 million doesn't mean somebody lost it. It means the market produced it. It's none of my business what they make, Jay. It's certainly none of yours, and it's certainly not Barack Obama's what anybody makes.

To me, this is how one would fail to get a true perspective. Rush presents a true statement... to a degree. He wants capitalism to be viewed favorably, so the example he gives is when capitalism is working at it's best. But corporations and shareholders pockets are not lined ONLY when the pie grows. They are also lined when they use their positions of power to strong arm workers into sweatshops. They are lined when perfectly healthy companies are gutted to make a quick buck. They are lined when they use their bank of lawyers to avoid paying their obligations.

Leno attempted to bring this up, stating that HOW one makes money is important.

RUSH: No, no, it's not. If you believe in the capitalist system, then you have to erase from your whole worldview what does somebody need. It's not about need. Capitalism is not about need. It's about providing; it's about growing; it's about opportunity; it is about doing whatever you want to do.

Rush accurately points out here that capitalism has no conscience... and it doesn't want you to have one either. This is where I agree with Leno. How we make money does matter.

I was in my late teens when I went with my parents to visit my cousins in California. We decided one evening to go over the boarder to Tijuana, Mexico. There are street vendors everywhere in Tijuana in addition to the stores. Many items were to be haggled over, rather than having a set price.

Toward the end of the evening, I had some money burning a hole in my pocket and there were some necklaces I had been eyeing. An old lady was sitting on a blanket stringing such necklaces by the side of the road. I asked her how much she wanted for two. I don't remember how much they were, but I remember that it was a decent price. However, never wanting to miss a potential bargain, I offered her half. She shook her head, but I knew it was late and I figured I could get her to realize that some money was better than no money. After some haggling and my threatening to walk away, she sighed and took my money. I strutted away, jewelry in hand ... victorious.

Amidst the noise and bustle as I looked for my family, a small voice spoke in my heart:

"To you it was a game, to her it was food for her family."

My heart froze as this insight grew. It was as if the breath were being taken from me. I ran back to where the old lady had been, but she had already packed up for the night. I stood there starting at the empty spot by the side of the road. Shame washed over me.

To me, the few dollars here or there were less than nothing. To her, it was her lifeblood.

It matters Rush.... it matters.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Maybe It Isn't Lack of Prayer

In my last post, we talked about a prayer in public schools video. In it, the producers put forth the postulation that the world is going to hell in a handbasket because we do not force school children to pray.

I think a more logical cause of many of the world's ills is accurately addressed in this video. (The language is R, so be careful where you watch this).


Idiocracy - Opening Sequence - Funny bloopers R us

Friday, September 25, 2009

Christians Need to Get Over Prayer in Public Schools

I had a friend on Facebook post a video promoting public school prayer. It was based on an email that was circulating years ago where a school child asks why God did not stop the various school shootings. A voice from heaven sarcastically replies, "Because I am not allowed in public schools anymore."

I find the video very troubling. First, because people who claim the name of Christ are putting words in to God's mouth (I seem to recall that that being a commandment violation) and second, because they are just really bad words.

I went to the Facebook Causes section where the video was hosted and read some of the comments. Here are some examples:
  • This was truly inspirational. Why should we stand back and let people tell us what to do. We need to step up as Children of God and put God back in schools.
  • US as Christian's have to stand up and shout his name out loud and let people know he is here for us ALL of us and those who don't believe need to sit back and take good look at the world since God has been taken out
  • We are definitely reaping what we have sown. Now we need to take back what the enemy has stolen from us and our children!
  • When we ask..."What has happened to society?" or "What's wrong with people?" Here is your answer.
  • I am Thankful to the few Teachers that still have prayer with the students in class. They are risking their jobs for our Children .
It always amazes me how myopic these folks can be. There is absolutely no empathy for how these statements might sound to someone who is not a Christian. If someone of another religion were wanting things from their religion (ancestor meditation, reading the Gita, prayers to the goddess) inserted into the school day, Focus on the Family could not contain all the money that would roll in from Christians to fight it. Yet we cannot seem to get it through our thick Christian heads that when we demand "Prayer in Public Schools", we are doing the exact same thing. We condemn in others behaviors we praise in ourselves. I don't blame non-Christians for being scared of us. I'M scared of us!

I believe the public schools are correct in choosing not to force children to pray. Christianity has a deep history of forced baptisms and conversions. Let us show that we have truly renounced that part of our past and let the issue of prayer in public schools go.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w35txHZRdB0

Monday, September 21, 2009

Maher interviews Wendell Potter

I have to post another Maher interview. He really has some of the best on television right now.

This week Bill interviewed Wendell Potter, a former Cigna exec and head of their public relations. Just over a year ago, Wendell had an attack of conscience and has now become one of the health insurance industries biggest critics and staunch advocate for public health care.

I thought it was interesting that prior to his leaving, one of his responsibilities was to refute Micheal Moore's movie Sicko. He has this to say at the end of his interview:

Wendell: We were working overtime to discredit the movie...

Bill: But he wasn't wrong...right?

Wendell: He was not wrong. He got it right.

Watch to see why he left Cigna.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIzs5bSAE2c

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Moyers on Maher

A great interview. I found it on Youtube in three parts. It is worth viewing.

Pt.1


Pt.2



Pt.3

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Reading Tea Leaves

Tea Leaf Reading: A form of divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea leaves.

Once or twice a month, I get an email or a comment on my blog from an enthusiastic Christian who wants to point out the error of my ways. Sometimes it is done gracefully, but more often than not it is proclaimed by someone who has become overly frustrated because I have the audacity to hold a view of God that is different than theirs. If this were the 16th century, some commentators would probably have me burned at the stake - as John Calvin did Michael Servetus. Since present laws and culture will not permit that, they must resign themselves to caustic comments and emails.

The latest comment on one of my Truth Project (a DVD series by Focus on the Family) blogs finished off by warning me not to comment further, lest there be eternal consequences. Interesting theology... but I actually want to focus on the beginning of his comment. He said:

"I am simply amazed at how on earth you got to be on the top of Googles searches regarding the Truth Project but it simply goes to show me how powerful the enemy is and how important things like the Truth Project really are. Your views are not only wrong they are a terrifying example of why the project exists in the first place."

His interpretation of what has placed my articles at the top of Google searches is very typical of how some Christians read random events. He doesn't like what I have written, so he interprets that this blog's high placement in Google searches must be the work of Satan.

However, one could just as easily say that Focus on the Family is spreading a poor interpretation of God though their Truth Project seminars, and God was getting a little tired of the misrepresentation; so He bumped a nobody blogger to the top of Google's list to try to get the word out that Focus on the Family has gone way off the path.

Of course, either view is just Tea Leaf Reading... looking at a random happening and assigning an outside meaning to it. Not too different from thinking that fluffy white cloud bears a striking resemblance to Scooby-Doo.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Parents Pay Down the Road

Well, some parents had good reason to fear Obama's education speech. They were right to try to shield their darlin's ears from what the President might say. Listen to these reactions from students:

"I didn't know [about] his dad. My dad died; it's kind of weird to have that personal connection."

"There was no hidden agenda."


"It just surprised me that he's human, you know."


The last thing reactionary parents wanted was for their children to see a president who stood in stark contrast to the strawman they have been building in their children's minds. What do you do when you have made the president out to be a madman and a demon.... and he turns out not to be??

This is why we hear so many stories of children who have radically different beliefs and politics than their parents when they move out on their own. Some of it, I believe, is a genuine difference of opinion; but often I think there is a swing reaction to discovering that your parents presented a very skewed view of reality. In their enthusiasm to "protect", parents often cross the line into exaggeration, misrepresentation, and flat out lies.

If you really desire your children to follow in your footsteps, I suggest you make those steps humble ones.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day

The first Labor Day was celebrated in 1882. Labor unions are as much needed today as ever. They were created to protect workers from corporate abuses. If anyone feels that times are different now and that unions are no longer needed, one need only look at the sweatshops that have been created by American companies that have moved off shore. Out from under American laws that were crafted due to unions, American companies often revert back to horrid and oppresive working conditions for workers.

There is this great scene in A Bug's Life, when the ants realize for the first time that they are not powerless against the grasshoppers when they stand together. The grasshoppers don't like having to face the group... they would rather deal with one ant at a time. When I hear managers and buisnesses complain about Unions, I realize they are a grasshopper who would rather only have to deal with one ant at a time.

Not that Unions always play fair when they have the upper hand. Abuses can occur on both sides. Balance must be maintained as best as possible.

So on this Labor Day, I am thankful for unions. History shows why they are needed, and history is forever repeating itself.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Listening to Rush made me think of Alice Cooper

I tuned-in to Hannity, Beck, and Rush today. I listened to their messages of gimme, gimme, gimme, mine, mine, mine, me, me, me. The crowds they stir up reflect their attitude. Regardless of their arguments for or against changes in health care delivery, there is an underlying attitude of me, myself, and I. A friend of mine said (and I paraphrase) "Liberals tend to be concerned with the OTHER person's health care, if their children are being taken care of. Whereas conservatives typically use phrases like MY health care, MY money, MY interests."

Me... Me... Me....

While the talk show hosts droned on, a song from Alice Cooper came to mind. This is from the album "Brutal Planet" (an album where Alice does a fair amount of social commentary).

Though this song deals with the issue of world hunger, I couldn't help contrasting it to the message of endless, bottomless indulgence that I was hearing over the radio.

Eat Some More by Alice Cooper

Sixty million tons of meat
Spoiling in the stinking heat
Train full loads of moldy bread
Millions will still go unfed

Acres full of dying wheat
Burning brightly at our feet
A billion tons of roasted fish
Some with nothing on their dish

We can't see we're going blind
We're just dying on the vine
We're all sinking from the weight
Open wide and salivate

Do you like the taste?
Stuff it in your face
Its not nice to waste

We're not happy 'til we're choking

So we eat some more
Throw up on the floor
Go back to the store

We're so hungry
So pathetic

Lots of melting cheddar cheese
Spreading instant meat disease
Rotting veggies on the ground
Where hungry little kids are found

Worms in fruit an ugly sight
They're begging for a single bite
Our garbage dumps are mountains high
While other people sadly die

We can't see we're going blind
We're just dying on the vine
We're all sinking from the weight
Open wide and salivate

Do you like the taste?
Stuff it in your face
Its not nice to waste

We're not happy 'til we're choking

So we eat some more
Throw up on the floor
Go back to the store

We're so hungry
So pathetic



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QywIExyI7wA
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