Can you think of anything stupider to fight about?

Cross-posted from LiveJournal

Arguing about the nature of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If you’ve been touched by his noodly appendage, this is not supposed to happen.

An experience interacting with a rather un-Christian biblical apologist some time ago left me somewhat unsettled, and I wasn’t able to think about much else for a couple of days. The thing that unsettled me the most was that despite my best intentions, I felt myself being dragged into the fray.

Additional research on the internet has led me to a plethora of websites of every possible permutation.

  • Atheists vs. Apologists
  • Evangelicals vs. non-orthodox Christians
  • Muslims vs. Jews
  • Muslims vs. Christians
  • Jews vs. Gentiles
  • Secular humanists vs. Believers
  • Mormons vs. Atheists
  • Evangelicals vs. Mormons
  • Bible-believing Christians vs. Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Scientologists vs. Everybody
  • 7th-Day-Adventists vs. …

You get the picture. Choose one from column A, and one from Column B, and you’ll be able to find it out there.

Incredible amounts of time, effort, indignation, anger and outright hatred are being spent in attempts to prove, by logic, or reason, or scripture, or exegesis, or tradition, that which is virtually unprovable – hence the cartoon above, which I created more for my own benefit than anyone else’s. And it all comes down to the most basic of human addictions, the addiction to being right.

Of course, none of this is new. It’s only that the internet era gives us fingertip access to the full spectrum of human maladjustment and brings it into clearer focus. People have been killing each other for their differences, religious and otherwise, since the dawn of time [be careful, that link is a bit grim]- and since the same epoch, there have been those who have risen up against the madness.

I remember back in the late 60’s and early 70’s when Vietnam was in full swing, a popular bumper sticker read, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?”, and that led me to an odd thought. My own faith holds out that before Christ comes again, the earth has to be made ready for his coming. Part of this involves preaching the Gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, which is why almost everywhere you go, you see our young missionaries out spreading the word.

That’s well and good, but what’s the ultimate point of that Gospel? Imagine with me for a moment that the earth was divided into only two nations, Exegetia and Harmonia.

The Republic of Exegetia consisted of three billion people. 99% of those belonged to a single faith – the “correct” one, whatever that happened to look like. Other than that, things were pretty much the same way they are now.

In Harmonia, there were also three billion people, of all different persuasions, religious and secular – and it was not uncommon to find a mosque and a synagogue built next to each other, right across the street from a Hindu temple, an Anglican chapel, and a chapter of the Harmonian Humanist Society.
While not everyone was rich, there were no poor, because everyone believed in a society where everyone wins.
People didn’t covet one another’s goods.
People didn’t lie, or steal, or rob, or murder, or slander or persecute one another.
People lived simply, so that everyone could simply live.
People respected their environment, and did all they could to be good stewards of the only planet they had to live on.
People were kind, and loving, and charitable.
Lawyers and judges were out of work, because nobody wanted to sue anyone else.

If you were God, which nation would you want to walk with? “Wait, wait, God loves everyone, he’s not a respecter of persons!” Well, you’re right but you get my point, which is:

“In the end analysis, God cares less about which Church you belong to, or don’t, than how you’re treating your fellow man.”

This, then, is the Ecumenism that I support. It has nothing to do with the various faiths trying to become like one another. It has nothing to do with everyone joining the “First Church of Blah Unsalted Farina”. It has to do with each one of us, regardless of our walk in life, reaching out to every member of humanity and doing our best to create an entire planet where everyone wins, and helping every other member of our species to make it across the finish line.

Utopia won’t come cheap. Given human nature, there will always be poor folk, there will always be those who don’t obey the rules, there will always be illness, natural disasters and everything else that makes our world a challenge to live in. But what if we were to make it even halfway to that glorious goal? Wouldn’t that be better than maintaining the status quo?

The more time goes on, the more I become committed to bringing people to Christ (which is my particular walk) by raising the human condition, rather than worrying about what they wear, which scriptures they read or which direction they face to pray – or if they even pray at all. I may be the only book of scripture that some people ever read.

Just saying that could get me heaved out of my own faith by certain people.

I’ll take my chances.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Speech *I* Wish a President would give.

On the 8th of October, 2003, some time subsequent to the Desert Storm operation a veteran named Dennis Chapman posted this. It circulated widely on the Internet after that, in various forms as is not uncommon, people feeling the need to edit or improve things according to their own whims. It is the earliest known occurrence I can find, and I have no reason to suppose that Mr. Chapman was not the original author.

The Speech We Wish a President Would Give
My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.
Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.
This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq. This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.
Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short. The United Kingdom , Spain , Bulgaria , Australia , and Poland are some of the countries listed there.
The other list contains everyone not on the first list. Most of the world’s nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.
Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war.
The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hellholes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.
Need help with a famine ? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France.
In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home . On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth.
Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France, or maybe China .
I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, Germany, and Russia . Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bon chance, mes amis.
I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don’t care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York.
A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.
Mexico is also on List 2 President Fox and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra tank and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put ’em? Yep, border security.
Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty – starting now.
We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we’ll be drilling for oil in Alaska – which will take care of this country’s oil needs for decades to come. If you’re an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there. They care.
It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, “darn tootin.”
Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America It is time to eliminate homelessness in America . To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won’t forget.
To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.
God bless America . Thank you and good night.
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.


Dennis Chapman

15 years ago I was still smarting from the insult of the 9/11 attacks, and on more days than not my gut instinct was to agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Chapman’s sentiments. I think had 45 been running for president in 2004 using this fictitious letter as a campaign platform, I might have (to my discomfort now) pulled the lever for a straight GOP ticket with great enthusiasm. So it’s not like I don’t have a sense of what 45’s base is feeling, and why they support him so doggedly.

Fortunately for my conscience, in 2007 I began a journey into a different space, thanks to some amazing seminars produced by Klemmer and Associates. People finish these leadership training experiences with many different takeaways, depending on their own particular biases and preconceptions, and which ones they are willing to look at. For me, the bottom line was that mankind consists of “one village,” and without each other we cannot maximize our potential as human beings. I landed on the concept of R. Buckminster Fuller’s “World Game” (hence the title of this blog), which goes like this:

“Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

R. Buckminster Fuller

There were other important lessons as well, but this one ended up informing what’s left of my life, and made me realize that the “Yeah Baby ‘Murica First” philosophy was incompatible with my heart and soul.

As a result of thinking long and hard about what kind of America I believe in, and how I would like to see it led, I have crafted the speech that I wish an American president would give.

My Fellow Americans,

It is a privilege to address you this evening. To begin with, it will not be surprising to any of you if I say we are still living through one of the most challenging political, economic, and social periods that our nation has faced. But before anything else is said, it needs to be acknowledged that we are Americans, that we have survived difficult times before, and that as a nation and as a people we will survive this time in our history and emerge the stronger for having done so.

As eloquently pointed out by President Lincoln, the founders of our nation envisioned a republic where all people would be free and equal. While their vision did not fully encompass people of color or women, subsequent modifications to our Constitution, along with various decisions by the Supreme Court, rectified most of those time-relative cultural oversights. With the exception of certain fanatical or misguided groups, and despite the fact that there is still work to be done, the vast majority of Americans support the concept of a nation where every person is equal in the eyes of the law and has an equal chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sadly, today’s reality does not live up to those founding principles, and it is my intention to devote the next four years rectifying that and other underlying problems which are holding our nation back from achieving its full potential.

The first group of people I would like to address is my colleagues in the press. You have been warmly invited to cover this address with open arms, and it is my intention that this state of affairs will continue. The relationship of the office of the President with the Fourth Estate has never been an easy one, and while I cannot promise that this administration will be the media’s darling, I can promise one thing: you will never be lied to by me or my spokespeople. In the interest of national security, there may be questions we cannot answer, and if that is the case, we will say so directly. But I and those in my administration are determined to make you our allies in building an America that works for everyone, with no one left out. Journalism is driven by money, money comes from advertising, and sensationalism sells ads. I don’t expect to change the rubric of your profession in a brief four years (or eight, if that happens to be the will of the American people) – but I ask you for an agreement of honor. I expect you to shine the harsh light of reason into every dark corner of this government, and to act as Amerca’s watchdogs. If there is malfeasance, or corruption, or injustice, I expect you to uncover it – and this administration will be your partners in doing that. In exchange, I ask that you make your coverage fair and balanced, and as devoid of sensationalism, partisanship, and outright falsehood as possible; your training as journalists has prepared you to do this, and I expect nothing less. If I, as president, have something to say to the nation, you will be notified by a televised address or by the time-tested channel of a press conference – and not by some social media platform.

To our military, and our police forces, and our first responders, I have only this to say: I honor you for your service, for your sacrifices, and for your daily willingness to put yourselves in harm’s way for the safety and security of our nation and our allies – and I want nothing more than to build a nation where your services will be seldom, if ever, needed. You belong with your families, and it’s my job to make sure you can spend as much time with them as humanly possible.

To the nations of the world, I offer the hand of friendship. There have been some serious bumps along the way, but the past is written and unchangeable. What we have is now, and tomorrow. If you will work with me in building a world of safety and prosperity for the almost 8 billion sojourners on our spaceship Earth, you will find me a willing and eager partner. If you oppose the general welfare of humanity, you are likely to find me a formidable and immovable opponent.

Of my colleagues in Congress, I ask this: send me legislation to sign that builds our nation, that makes it stronger, that is designed to benefit everyone – not just the privileged few – and that extends beyond our borders in areas of diplomacy, of science, of health, and of the environment. I will work with you to this end, but I will not support unfairness, or cruelty, or selfishness, or dishonesty. If you truly work for the benefit of humanity, we will be able to make sensible progress together.

To the people of America, I say this: I was elected by a democratic process, and I will never forget that I represent the hopes and dreams of everyone in this nation – the ones who voted for me and the ones who didn’t. In past years and after past elections, I have heard a similar refrain from both parties, to the extent that “We won, and you people (the opposition) are now irrelevant.” That is not an America that I support. Whether you believe in me or my party’s platform is irrelevant – but you are not. However you would like to see it happen, I know that what you mostly desire in life is health, safety, security, and opportunity for yourself and your children. It may be that we have different approaches, but I want those things for you – for all of you – and will work to see that you get more of them than you have now.

If you have a spiritual walk, then join with me in saying God Bless America. If you turn to the wisdom of humanity for your strength, then may your efforts to build a humane and peaceful country bear as much fruit as you can make happen with your efforts.

My fellow citizens, I thank you. May you prosper in all that you do.

As a point of practicality, I have disabled comments for this post. Like it if you wish, I always appreciate knowing if people resonate with my thoughts. Or don’t, if you disagree. But this is not reddit or YouTube, and not a place for debate – if you have other thoughts, the best place for those will be your own blog.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

It sure is a scary time for men

At least, according to the thermonuclear bowel evacuation currently disgracing the Oval Office. (Yeah, I’m talkin’ ’bout you, Donny).

He had no problem mocking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for her “unfounded allegations.” He has no problem claiming that George Soros is paying all these democratic protesters (read: Women) to protest. He has no problem apologizing to Brett Kavanaugh for the anguish he was subjected to during the orchestrated circus the GOP called a hearing and investigation. And he has no problem saying that this is a “scary time for men,” worried that they might be unjustly accused and their lives ruined on a whim.

Well, isn’t that just special?

The damage inflicted on our nation by execrable, hateful, power-drunken despots like 45 and Mitch McConnell and their congressional sycophants will continue for decades, generations even. But if the catastrophe spawns a sufficient storm of outrage from average Americans, specifically women, and specifically the young, and specifically minorities – all groups targeted by Cheetolini for particular disdain – and they get to the polls in 2018 and 2020 to vote, our nation may yet survive as the republic which the founders envisioned.

There is hope. A song written by Lynzy Lab and posted to YouTube has already garnered half a million views in three days.

Lyrics:

Hi, I wrote a song and it goes like this:I can’t walk to my car late at night while on the phone
I can’t open up my windows when I’m home alone
I can’t go to the bar without a chaperone
I can’t wear a mini skirt if it’s the only one I own
I can’t use public transportation after 7 PM
I can’t be brutally honest when you slide into my dms
I can’t go to the club just to dance with my friends
And I can never leave my drink unattended…

But it sure is a scary time for boys, yeah
Gentleman band together make some noise
It’s really tough when your reputations on the line
And any woman you’ve assaulted could show up any time
Yeah, it sure is a scary time for guys
can’t look at any woman or look her in the eyes
It’s so confusing, is it rape or just being nice
So inconvenient that you even have to think twice

I can’t live in an apartment if it’s on the first floor
I can’t be wearing silk pajamas when I answer the door
I can’t have another drink even if I want more
And I can’t make you feel invalid on the scene or ignored
I can’t jog around the city with headphones on my ears
I can’t speak out against my rapist after 35 years
I can’t be taken seriously if I’m holding back tears
And I can never speak earnestly about all these fears cuz…

It sure is a scary time for dudes
Can’t text a girl repeatedly asking for nudes
Can’t make a girl have sex when she’s not in the mood
And what gives her the right to give you attitudeIt sure is a scary time for men
Girls like to act like you’re to blame and they’re the victim
Her dress was short and she was drunk she’s not so innocent
Thank god your dads a judge and you won’t be convicted…

Oh that’s right… oh yeah, yeah;
It’s not such a scary time for boys
They’ve always had the upper hand, they’ve always had a choice
It’s time for women to rise up use our collective voice
The day to vote is Nov 6th so let’s go make some noiseGo vote

Mad props, Lynzy. The future of our nation is in your hands and the hands of young people like you.

dia7nbzvmaafhwx.jpg

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The rivers of life

Shower thought on the passing of a virtual but nonetheless very dear friend and colleague. Inspired perhaps by a confluence of this XKCD and this story which I posted earlier:

“Our lives through time are like streams of water, and can cross and re-cross and diverge from those with whom we sojourn on this earth. It is at those precious points of convergence with souls who lift and enrich us, even though tomorrow our streams may once again separate, never again to reconvene, that some of life’s greatest joys are captured.

Moments. They’re all we get.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

The Moment – by Jaspreet Kaur

“The moment that you realize that true contentment can be found when we serve others, all other desires will seem so small.
And the moment you see joy in another being eyes, because of your own selfless actions, life starts to make a lot more sense.
And the moment you begin to act as the reflection of the visions that you have a of a better world, things will begin to change.
And the moment that you recognize your own responsibility for the betterment of others, you’ll see such beauty in life.
And the moment that you recognize that you’ll make more of an impact by being righteous than always being right, rewards will come and fall into your lap.
And the moment that you are more concerned about learning to love, then to be loved, positive emotions of oceanic depths will engulf you.
And the moment that you are more concerned about understanding others than to always be understood, that’s when your mind will truly begin to learn.
And the moment that we realize that our enemies are not physical flesh and blood, yet they are our own thoughts, peace will begin to conquer.
And the moment that we overcome those inner enemies, rather than deflecting them onto others, merriment will come find you.
And the moment that you are more concerned about learning to listen, rather than to always be heard, you will hear languages you thought your mind could never fathom.
And the moment that you realize that life will always be about mastering and relearning, hunkering and climbing your journey will begin to feel so smooth.
And the moment that we all believe that we can change this world for the better, we will do it. Where we learn, change, grow and give, so go live your moments.”

– Spoken-word artist Jaspreet Kaur, at the 2018 Commonwealth Day Celebration

Happy International Women’s Day to all the “nasty women” out there. All of them.

Now, put away your pitchforks and torches and listen to this amazing video by Aya Korem (it’s in Hebrew with English subtitles, but you’ll have to read fast because she does the equality run in less than 12 parsecs¹:

I asked this question over on Facebook:

Answer me this: why should more than 50% of the earth’s population be given a single day of celebration? Just sayin’.

Listening to Ms. Korem, I was reminded of the following exchange Morgan Freeman had with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes:

WALLACE: Black History Month, you find …
FREEMAN: Ridiculous.
WALLACE: Why?
FREEMAN: You’re going to relegate my history to a month?
WALLACE: Come on.
FREEMAN: What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month? Come on, tell me.
WALLACE: I’m Jewish.
FREEMAN: OK. Which month is Jewish History Month?
WALLACE: There isn’t one.
FREEMAN: Why not? Do you want one?
WALLACE: No, no.
FREEMAN: I don’t either. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.
WALLACE: How are we going to get rid of racism until …?
FREEMAN: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, “I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.” Hear what I’m saying?

So yes, I get it. Happy International Women’s Day. It’s never inappropriate to celebrate the accomplishments of anyone. But in today’s world of #MeToo and #TimesUp, it seems jejune to celebrate half (more than half, statistically) of humanity by giving them a single day.

When we achieve the kind of gender equality that people of humanity strive for, the kind of equality that Morgan Freeman was alluding to, then we can truly celebrate.


¹ Any respectable Star Wars fan knows that a parsec is a measure of distance, not speed. It’s a joke.

Next phase of the United Saga

First, Oscar Munoz “apologized” for re-accomodating” a paying passenger – by beating the snot out of him and dragging him off the plane.

Then, this fine specimen of corporate leadership doubles down by blaming the passenger.

Finally, United offers a real apology and promises changes.

With regards to United’s “apology” for the event,

“The sentiment certainly rings a bit hollow when it follows two previous failures and 36 hours of intense public pressure…The back-against-the-wall, through-gritted-teeth apology isn’t generally a winning strategy.” (Jeremy Robinson-Leon)

Have a look at these articles from the New York Times about the matter:

The Internet, of course, has come up with its own response:

D2A1PSfproxy

 

17800145_799028196928423_2226200765753369623_n

 

download

17884136_1522465511120713_7991983898053050833_n

proxy

1n1v6g

17861572_1528991607113297_2553385010258129113_n

rgtt

Keep up the pressure on United until things improve, not only with this airline but throughout the industry.

The security officers involved in this debacle are not squeaky-clean either – three of them have been suspended pending reviews.

Lastly, the social media flap and internal policy reviews are not the only consequences – the affected passenger has retained a high-powered attorney and begun steps to file a lawsuit. As much as I execrate frivolous legal action, I hope whatever happens is a serious financial incentive for United to be careful how it treats paying customers in the future.

The Old Wolf has spoken.