Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Dawkins Delusion


The Dawkins Delusion

By Alister McGrath, AlterNet. Posted January 26, 2007.

An Oxford theologian contends that the aggressive rhetoric of Richard Dawkins' books masks a deep insecurity about the public credibility of atheism.

Alister McGrath, a biochemist and Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University, may be Richard Dawkins' most prominent critic. As the author of "Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes and the Meaning of Life," he was interviewed extensively for Dawkins' recent documentary, "The Root of All Evil." Not a frame of these interviews made it into the final edit. Below is a slightly modified version of remarks delivered by McGrath in response to Dawkins' latest book, "The God Delusion."

The God Delusion has established Dawkins as the world's most high-profile atheist polemicist, who directs a withering criticism against every form of religion. He is out to convert his readers. "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down." Not that he thinks that this is particularly likely; after all, he suggests, "dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument." Along with Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris, Dawkins directs a ferocious trade of criticism against religion in general and Christianity in particular. In this article, I propose to explore two major questions. First, why this sudden outburst of aggression? Second, how reliable are Dawkins' criticisms of religion?

Let's begin by looking at the first question. Every worldview, whether religious or not, has its point of vulnerability. There is a tension between theory and experience, raising questions over the coherence and trustworthiness of the worldview itself. In the case of Christianity, many locate that point of weakness in the existence of suffering within the world. In the case of atheism, it is the persistence of belief in God, when there is supposedly no God in which to believe.

Until recently, western atheism had waited patiently, believing that belief in God would simply die out. But now, a whiff of panic is evident. Far from dying out, belief in God has rebounded, and seems set to exercise still greater influence in both the public and private spheres. The God Delusion expresses this deep anxiety, partly reflecting an intense distaste for religion. Yet there is something deeper here, often overlooked in the heat of debate. The anxiety is that the coherence of atheism itself is at stake. Might the unexpected resurgence of religion persuade many that atheism itself is fatally flawed as a worldview?

That's what Dawkins is worried about. The shrill, aggressive rhetoric of his God Delusion masks a deep insecurity about the public credibility of atheism. The God Delusion seems more designed to reassure atheists whose faith is faltering than to engage fairly or rigorously with religious believers, and others seeking for truth. (Might this be because the writer is himself an atheist whose faith is faltering?) Religious believers will be dismayed by its ritual stereotyping of religion, and will find its manifest lack of fairness a significant disincentive to take its arguments and concerns seriously. Seekers after truth who would not consider themselves religious may also find themselves shocked by Dawkins' aggressive rhetoric, his substitution of personal creedal statements for objective engagement with evidence, his hectoring and bullying tone towards "dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads," and his utter determination to find nothing but fault with religion of any kind.

It is this deep, unsettling anxiety about the future of atheism which explains the high degree of dogmatism and aggressive rhetorical style of this new secular fundamentalism. The dogmatism of the work has been the subject of intense criticism in the secular press, reflecting growing alarm within the secularist community about the damage that Dawkins is doing to their public reputation. Many of those who might be expected to support Dawkins are running for cover, trying to distance themselves from this embarrassment.

To give an example: The God Delusion trumpets the fact that its author was recently voted one of the world's three leading intellectuals. This survey took place among the readers of Prospect magazine in November 2005. So what did this same Prospect magazine make of the book? Its reviewer was shocked at this "incurious, dogmatic, rambling, and self-contradictory" book. The title of the review? "Dawkins the dogmatist."

But what of the arguments themselves? The God Delusion is often little more than an aggregation of convenient factoids, suitably overstated to achieve maximum impact, and loosely arranged to suggest that they constitute an argument. This makes dealing with its "arguments" a little problematical, in that the work frequently substitutes aggressive, bullying rhetoric for serious evidence-based argument. Dawkins often treats evidence as something to shoehorn into his preconceived theoretical framework. Religion is persistently and consistently portrayed in the worst possible way, mimicking the worst features of religious fundamentalism's portrayal of atheism.

Space is limited, so let's look his two core arguments -- that religion can be explained away on scientific grounds, and that religion leads to violence. Dawkins dogmatically insists that religious belief is "blind trust," which refuses to take due account of evidence, or subject itself to examination. So why do people believe in God, when there is no God to believe in? For Dawkins, religion is simply the accidental and unnecessary outcome of biological or psychological processes. His arguments for this bold assertion are actually quite weak, and rest on an astonishingly superficial engagement with scientific studies.

For example, consider this important argument in The God Delusion. Since belief in God is utterly irrational (one of Dawkins' core beliefs, by the way), there has to be some biological or psychological way of explaining why so many people -- in fact, by far the greater part of the world's population -- fall victim to such a delusion. One of the explanations that Dawkins offers is that believing in God is like being infected with a contagious virus, which spreads throughout entire populations. Yet the analogy -- belief in God is like a virus -- seems to then assume ontological substance. Belief in God is a virus of the mind. Yet biological viruses are not merely hypothesized; they can be identified, observed, and their structure and mode of operation determined. Yet this hypothetical "virus of the mind" is an essentially polemical construction, devised to discredit ideas that Dawkins does not like.

So are all ideas viruses of the mind? Dawkins draws an absolute distinction between rational, scientific and evidence-based ideas, and spurious, irrational notions -- such as religious beliefs. The latter, not the former, count as mental viruses. But who decides what is "rational" and "scientific"? Dawkins does not see this as a problem, believing that he can easily categorize such ideas, separating the sheep from the goats.

Except it all turns out to be horribly complicated, losing the simplicity and elegance that marks a great idea. For instance, every worldview -- religious or secular -- ends up falling into the category of "belief systems," precisely because it cannot be proved. That is simply the nature of worldviews, and everyone knows it. It prevents nobody from holding a worldview in the first place, and doing so with complete intellectual integrity in the second. In the end, Dawkins' idea simply implodes, falling victim to his own subjective judgement of what is rational and true. It's not an idea that is taken seriously within the scientific community, and can safely be disregarded.

The main argument of The God Delusion, however, is that religion leads to violence and oppression. Dawkins treats this as defining characteristic of religion, airbrushing out of his somewhat skimpy account of the roots of violence any suggestion that it might be the result of political fanaticism -- or even atheism. He is adamant that he himself, as a good atheist, would never, ever fly airplanes into skyscrapers, or commit any other outrageous act of violence or oppression. Good for him. Neither would I. Yet the harsh reality is that religious and anti-religious violence has happened, and is likely to continue to do so.

As someone who grew up in Northern Ireland, I know about religious violence only too well. There is no doubt that religion can generate violence. But it's not alone in this. The history of the twentieth century has given us a frightening awareness of how political extremism can equally cause violence. In Latin America, millions of people seem to have "disappeared" as a result of ruthless campaigns of violence by right wing politicians and their militias. In Cambodia, Pol Pot eliminated his millions in the name of socialism.

The rise of the Soviet Union was of particular significance. Lenin regarded the elimination of religion as central to the socialist revolution, and put in place measures designed to eradicate religious beliefs through the "protracted use of violence." One of the greatest tragedies of this dark era in human history was that those who sought to eliminate religious belief through violence and oppression believed they were justified in doing so. They were accountable to no higher authority than the state.

In one of his more bizarre creedal statements as an atheist, Dawkins insists that there is "not the smallest evidence" that atheism systematically influences people to do bad things. It's an astonishing, naïve, and somewhat sad statement. The facts are otherwise. In their efforts to enforce their atheist ideology, the Soviet authorities systematically destroyed and eliminated the vast majority of churches and priests during the period 1918-41. The statistics make for dreadful reading. This violence and repression was undertaken in pursuit of an atheist agenda -- the elimination of religion. This doesn't fit with Dawkins' highly sanitized, idealized picture of atheism. Dawkins is clearly an ivory tower atheist, disconnected from the real and brutal world of the twentieth century.

Dawkins develops a criticism that is often directed against religion in works of atheist apologetics -- namely, that it encourages the formation and maintenance of "in-groups" and "out-groups." For Dawkins, removing religion is essential if this form of social demarcation and discrimination is to be defeated. But what, many will wonder, about Jesus of Nazareth? Wasn't this a core theme of his teaching -- that the love of God transcends, and subsequently abrogates, such social divisions?

Dawkins' analysis here is unacceptable. There are points at which his ignorance of religion ceases to be amusing, and simply becomes risible. In dealing with this question he draws extensively on a paper published in Skeptic magazine in 1995 by John Hartung, which asserts that -- and here I cite Dawkin's summary: Jesus was a devotee of the same in-group morality -- coupled with out-group hostility -- that was taken for granted in the Old Testament. Jesus was a loyal Jew. It was Paul who invented the idea of taking the Jewish God to the Gentiles. Hartung puts it more bluntly than I dare: "Jesus would have turned over in his grave if he had known that Paul would be taking his plan to the pigs." Many Christian readers of this will be astonished at this bizarre misrepresentation of things being presented as if it were gospel truth. Yet, I regret to say, it is representative of Dawkins' method: ridicule, distort, belittle, and demonize. Still, at least it will give Christian readers an idea of the lack of any scholarly objectivity or basic human sense of fairness which now pervades atheist fundamentalism.

There is little point in arguing with such fundamentalist nonsense. It's about as worthwhile as trying to persuade a flat-earther that the world is actually round. Dawkins seems to be so deeply trapped within his own worldview that he cannot assess alternatives. Yet many readers would value a more reliable and informed response, rather than accepting Dawkins' increasingly tedious antireligious tirades. Let's look at things as they actually stand.

In the first place, Jesus explicitly extends the Old Testament command to "love your neighbour" to "love your enemy" (Matthew 5.44). Far from endorsing "out-group hostility," Jesus both commended and commanded an ethic of "out-group affirmation." As this feature of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth is so well-known and distinctive, it is inexcusable that Dawkins should make no mention of it. Christians may certainly be accused of failing to live up to this demand. But it is there, right at the heart of the Christian ethic.

In the second place, many readers would point out that the familiar story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) makes it clear that the command to "love your neighbour" extends far beyond Judaism. (Indeed, this aspect of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth seems to have resulted in people suspecting Jesus of actually being a Samaritan: see John 8.48). It is certainly true that Jesus, a Palestinian Jew, gave priority to the Jews as God's chosen people, but his definition of who was a "true Jew" was radically broad. It included those who had excluded themselves from Judaism by intimate collaborators with Roman occupying forces. One of the main charges levelled against Jesus by his critics within Judaism was his open acceptance of these out-groups. Indeed a substantial part of his teaching can be seen as a defence of his behaviour towards them. Jesus' welcome of marginalized groups, who inhabited an ambiguous position between "in" and "out" is also well attested in accounts of his willingness to touch those considered by his culture to be ritually unclean (for instance Matthew 8.3, Matthew 9.20-25).

So what are we to make of this shrill and petulant manifesto of atheist fundamentalism? Aware of the moral obligation of a critic of religion to deal with this phenomenon at its best and most persuasive, many atheists have been disturbed by Dawkins' crude stereotypes, vastly over-simplified binary oppositions ("science is good, religion is bad"), straw men, and seemingly pathological hostility towards religion. Might The God Delusion actually backfire, and end up persuading people that atheism is just as intolerant, doctrinaire and disagreeable as the worst that religion can offer? As the atheist philosopher Michael Ruse commented recently: "The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist."

Dawkins seems to think that saying something more loudly and confidently, while ignoring or trivializing counter-evidence, will persuade the open-minded that religious belief is a type of delusion. For the gullible and credulous, it is the confidence with which something is said that persuades, rather than the evidence offered in its support. Dawkins' astonishingly superficial and inaccurate portrayal of Christianity will simply lead Christians to conclude that he does not know what he is talking about -- and that his atheism may therefore rest on a series of errors and misunderstandings. Ironically the ultimate achievement of The God Delusion for modern atheism may be to suggest that it is actually atheism itself may be a delusion about God.

What Does All This Have to Do With Christian Faith?- Connecting the Dots


I feel the personal need to re-iterate why I seem to be stuck on the types of subjects I have written about in this blog...

In my mind I imagine some folks that will see a posts on "politics" and fail to see the "geo-theological" narrative that I am working from.... fail to see the connection to Christianity...
I want to say something about that. I was watching something on CBN last night.
There was a guest on the show...the lady from Lebanon who wrote the book "Because They Hate" about radical Islam. I had some thoughts that I believe connects the dots on this.

Here's the deal;

We can all agree that upon the nature of things spiritual and carnal-
things we can change and things we cannot.

In my own view, which seems very simple and kind of obvious to me myself, when we can simply dismiss ALL of the problems of the Middle East as being rooted in a bunch of crazy, suicidal fundamentalists, and that we (the "Christian" nations) are the sort of innocent, virtuous bystanders- and that the Middle eastern world simply hates us for ONLY religious motivations - we are blinded and missing something vital in understanding not only the conflicts- but ourselves as a nation, ourselves as representatives of Christ within that nation, the World, the enemy as in the REAL enemy and his game etc. Sure, there is an obvious connection with the conflicts to the radical Islamic view about those of us who they consider to be infidels. We are often encouraged by voices in our own society to listen and take seriously what radical Islam says on this. They are correct. However, we should also listen when they list the litany of grievances they have that have triggered these movements. I will dare to say that although I would never legitimize or condone killing innocent people with bombs (that goes for us too)- they do have some legitimate beefs with us. if we simply refuse to acknowledge or adjust those items then we cannot even begin to hope for reconcilliation and peace.

Osama himself, when it was suggested to him that his group simply hated freedom and democracy and that is what motivated them, chuckled and said, "Go and ask your President why we didn't attack Sweden then."

That's a good question to start with to get at what I am saying with ALL of these posts.

All this is why fact, truth and perception really matters. If we simply continue to make charicatures out of these problems and not confront our own worldview and not look in the mirror through the eyes of the adversary

I believe that all of this this subject matter cuts right to the heart of nearly everything about our lives, the zeitgeist we live in and the MEANING OF IT ALL... theology...GEOTHEOLOGY if you will.

If you ever saw that movie the Matrix...I have even made references to it here- I regard all this the same way... When you see through the guises, the pretenses, the masks and the games...the MATRIX... you understand the Enemy... suddenly you understand God, you understand life, you understand purpose, you understand more fully what salvation is...what we sare saved from... the value of it and you also understand the Redeemer more fully.

Maybe I am out on a limb by myself on this- but that is where I am trying to
take PEOPLE...not the government...PEOPLE. I am not simply trying to bash
the (R)'s.

I got into another long conversation with a friend of mine the other day who
was kind of ribbing me about the "Super Christian" pose of the blog. I explained to him very lucidly that Christ himself as well as the Apostles and many of the early church leaders were persecuted and/or killed for saying the same sorts of things that I was writing about. They were considered as an element that would weaken the defensive posture of the nation and lead to the "nation" being overpopulated with those who were unwilling to fight and kill for its interests when they were not percieved to be what their God desired and then overrun by its enemies. The truth is that the World runs on the fuel of fear and domination...and when us Christians refuse to engage on those terms and refuse to compromise...we are percieved as a serious threat. The problem is that when we don't refuse to participate we become a tool of the infernal...we become part of the REAL problem.... and the problems are never solved.

Now my friend there is a guy that was raised in Church and then turned away from it
during the rise to power of the Christain Right and the Falwells and Robertsons of the world. Here is a guy that believes in Jesus- but could not stand "Christians"...or what he percieved as Christians...for many years.

The conversation made a serious impression on him....he said he'd never heard anyone say what I was saying...and in fact he has silently believed
the same way for quite some time.... He is also thinking of going back to Church and re-discovering his faith. I feel good about that- not only because my friend is re-awakening to the call of God in his life- but that I am not out on a limb by myself on this understanding of the world as well.

The Corporate News Purveyors


Pay no attention to the corporate entity behind the curtain!!

Here is an ARTICLE about the rise of the corporate media and what it does to the collective "we".

Excerpt:

...But Big Media doesn't answer to a foundation. It answers to Wall Street, and to the demands of the market.

Many of those demands are well documented and often decried: The dumbing down of political discourse, an increasing emphasis on pictures instead of words, a lack of critical thinking, and putting profit before journalism.

"ABC News reporters were not able to go anywhere near the war in Afghanistan," Lapham said with some exaggeration, but ABC's parent, the Walt Disney Co., hired Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer to make a 13-part series on the war "with the full cooperation of the Pentagon."

"The media always wants to reduce it to a fairy tale," he said. "You can't tell the difference between the war in Afghanistan and 'The Fellowship of the Ring.' Even the names are similar."

Lapham is most dismayed that he has been accused of being unpatriotic, when he isn't. "In a democracy, the most valuable quality is candor," he said. "Democracy works best when people try to tell each other the truth. That's not what we've got. We've got a lot of cant."

Lapham once considered himself a centrist, but said the center has moved so far to the right that he's now seen as liberal. Still, he believes the notion of a liberal media is "a canard . . . utterly a straw man as far as I'm concerned."

The right wing wants to "blame the wreckage of the culture on a few university professors," Lapham said. "The people that have (wrecked the culture) -- it's the (Rupert) Murdochs of the world. Those are the people who say, 'Whatever the market will bear.' The market doesn't think. The market isn't a cultivated person. It's a ball bearing. It will go immediately to what sells. That's what wrecks the culture."

Lapham offered some examples. He used to contribute to "Travel and Leisure Golf," which was edited by a friend of his, Jim Gaines, the former editor of Time magazine. Gaines tried to give the magazine a literary bent, Lapham said, assigning work to writers like George Plimpton, John Updike and Chip McGrath.

But American Express Publishing, which owns the magazine, said the profit wasn't high enough, he said. "They dumbed down the magazine," he said. "Now it's like Golf Digest. It's about your swing. Gaines is gone and it's a whole different game plan."


Comments;
There are those that will stop reading this article when they see from whence it comes...the San Francisco Chronicle. This negative, gut reaction is in itself a testament to the power and effectiveness of the propaganda campaign to scape goat all things "liberal" of which San Fransico is supposedly the Mecca of sorts. Things that come from San Fransisco are somehow inherantly flawed in the minds of many these days. Review the recent campaign to somehow prevent Nancy Pelosi from becoming the Speaker of the House. She was characterized as a "San Francisco Liberal"- which is as far as I can reckon supposed to be an extremely deranged and virulent species of "liberal" and the harbinger of the End of Days. To me, she's just another politico from another city in the U.S.

I myself when discussing an issue have been encouraged to "just go ahead and move to San Francisco" where I'll find lots of people who agree with me and we can all just cavort and dawdle in our own little delusional universe til doomsday. Doomsday, by the way, will not be long in coming, according to these folks- and will also be brought to us because of the cultural onslaught and scourge of liberalism and the "liberal media". These remarks are often followed with a smirky expression that indicates that the person who has made them assumes that the debate is now over, the final, crushing, ultimate retort having been delivered. I say that this is a perfect example of how the discourse in this country unfortunatly including the Churches has been poisoned by characterization, generalization, inuendo, short cuts to thinking and flat out balderdash.

Another example would be how subjects like air and water quality, topics every human has a responsibility and a stake in, are simply squelched by tossing around catch phrases like "tree- hugger" which is by now a term with household recognition...any mass marketer's dream accomplishment.

I have said before, with every attempt to not sound arrogant and condescending like those who offend me- myself so much, whenever somebody starts trying to tell me about the "left- wing media" I quickly conclude that this person does not know enough about the workings of media or perhaps even human nature to be discussing the topic in the first place.

Simply put, the media is controlled by those who finance and own the journalistic and entertainment production mechanisms and outlets of dissemination. These production and distribution mechanisms are driven by the profit imperative and fueled by advertising dollars. Do the math. Follow the money trails just like the Yellow Brick Road. You will come to the same conclusion that Dorothy came to in Oz when she discovered the "Wizard" behind the curtain pushing pedals and buttons and yanking levers.

When I converse upon these subjects, some people don't seem to grasp the idea that I am not defending the integrity of the media and trying to say that the media does not skew reality. This is just not so. What I am trying to convey is that they are right in being suspicious of the media, but, the idea that the problem is in the political liberalism of the media is simply not supported by solid evidence or a working demonstrative model of how the so called "liberal media" operates. The thesis that I am working from does in fact have a solid basis of evidence as well as a flow- chart- like working model of how it works. Sure there are liberal voices and personlities and agendas and anecdotes working within the media complex. This however, does not by any means validate the idea that the entire media complex is all geared to the same left leaning worldview. In fact the evidence suggests that if anything the truth is closer to the opposite.

Here is what was said elsewhere in the blog, which I stand pat on:

The "Left Wing Media" is a mythical construct of propaganda and is actually a profit-generating arm of the corporate machine that is ironically more associated with big business and "conservative" interests.
The consumerism and hedonism you see on T.V. and the in the movies has NOTHING to do with political liberalism or conservatism for that matter. The endless parade of decadence and materialism that flows out of America is a well oiled marketing machine- selling more cars, fast food, soft drinks, fashion items, video games and tabloid sensationalism to consumers by stimulating them with ever-more provocative imagery and false needs.
Big business and corporatism is responsible for the America's image abroad and her spiritual condition- not political liberalism or Democrats. Follow the money...do the math...its really simple.

One thing that the author of this article asserts is that he reckons himself to have been a centrist that moved so far to the right that people consider him a liberal. I have felt the same way for years. When one criticizes the existing order, which is in this case the "conservative" propaganda campaign, they are often castigated as "liberal" just because they are speaking critically of "conservative" assertions. Nowadays, all one has to do to become a liberal is to refrain from singing the praises of conservatives, dare to question them or, God forbid, challenge them on any matter. I don't think I need to elaborate on how counter- productive and yea even dangerous this trend is. It has gotten so bad, that I no longer insist that I am actually a conservative in these discussions. I have come to the conclusion that the definitions of conservative and liberal have become so muddled, confused and overused that the whole conservative/liberal debate is pointless, meaningless and an impediment to everything we need to be trying to accomplish as a community if people with common interests.

If you think about all of this instead of simply repeating ideas that have been repititiously served up by other people with agendas for you to interpret media data in a certain way- you will likely come to the same conclusion that I am offering you here.

There are plenty of other entries in this blog that point up examples of what I am talking about. There are also some good clips and educational materials linked. If you click on media related tags at the bottom of this entry it will take you to other ramblings and educational spots on this topic.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Robert McNamara- The Fog of War and the Concept of Proportionality


Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.

This is an excerpt from the 2005 film "The Fog of War" which was probably the most important film of the year. Its really too bad that more people did not see or internalize the lessons of this film... especially the fundamentalist "Christian" element whose party of choice has held political sway in this country for the last several years.

At the end of this clip McNamara makes the point that the human race has yet to seriously grapple with the "rules" of warfare- as in the concept of "just warfare" which has been debated in Church history but not much in the general population- and he asks the question, "what makes something immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?"

Can you answer that question? Can you answer that question from a Christian point of view? Are the answers the same? If not...why not?

Chalmers Johnson- History of U.S. Involvement in the Middle East

WHAT THE AMERICAN PUBLIC MUST KNOW ABOUT THE PENTAGON



Image from watir.org
Writing from the fine blog @ Rose Covered Glasses
Blog Article

The Military Industrial Complex-


Here is What Dwight D. Eisenhower had to say on the subject:

Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.

Save the Internet! Net Neutrality is of Key Importance

Iraq: The Hidden War

News you won't find in the so- called liberal media.

Two boys walk past a pool of blood and scattered books at the entrance floor of a secondary school after a mortar attack in Baghdad, Iraq, on Saturday, January 27, 2007.

Video Link

Iraq: The Hidden Story shows the footage used by TV news broadcasts, and compares it with the devastatingly powerful uncensored footage of the aftermath of the carnage that is becoming a part of the fabric of life in Iraq.

Prod/ Dir: Christian Trumble; Exec Prod: Stephen Phelps; Prod Co: Zenith Entertainment Ltd - 2006

Images of Iraq dominate our TV news bulletins every night but in this film, Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow, questions whether these reports are sugar-coating the bloody reality of war under the US-led occupation

- Warning -

This video contains images that should only be viewed by a mature audience


Comment:

According to some- the news is not censored, sanitized or co-opted to the powers that be enough... the problem is actually that the "liberal media" reports too much bad news.

There is a term;"Orwellian"- look into it.

Are we really afraid that the American public cannot make proper, moral, well- thought- out decisions if they view and contemplate the unvarnished truth? Are we actually prepared to say that the enemy is truth? Truth then undermines and undercuts the mission of the United States?

I think I will stick with the thing about the truth setting one free...

Free your mind and the rest will follow.

Bonus question; What is truth?
This is not a rhetorical question. I would really like an answer from YOU.

Pilate smirkingly asked that same question of Jesus right before he addressed the mob assembled outside that was calling for Jesus' executuion on the grounds of blasphemy and crimes of sedition against the state. This conversation with Jesus was recorded by John. Some parts overlapped with the account of Luke.

"Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"

"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

"You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

"What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. "" (John 18:33-38)

What a picture of the Saviors grace and love. He is still ministering as He steadily moves toward Roman brutality. As Jesus stands peacefully within his own boundaries, speaking candidly and confidently to Pilate, man to man, He adds shape to Pilate's test and his need. It centers on his commitment to truth. Pilate's answer, "What is truth?", suggests that he is not clear that absolute truth exists. This is unfortunate because he is going back outside to defend Jesus before a mob of liars.

Anyone who has tried to set a truth boundary against bold, determined manipulation knows that the price for doing so can be high and the consequences can be an affront and insult to one's entire being if not their existence.

Here is a paraphrase of what is said the end of the video- a statement with which I concur.

It is not inconvenient to the governments of the forces occupying Iraq that we see so little of the daily carnage in Iraq. My frustration is that if told in full and unsanitized- the reality of life and death in Iraq could radically affect perceptions in the outside world. Among the most important people being denied a full account of what's really going on are those from the countries that are engaged in the occupation of Iraq. The question is whether if they had such a full account they would support what is being done in their name.

Even more frustrating is the realization that the American public is somewhat aware now of the situation in Iraq and the majority is against the present "strategy" and looking for a way out of the bloody and futile occupation- but it doesn't matter. The presiding administration does at it wishes and sees fit. The pretense of representative democracy has met its end.

Blowback The Costs and Consequences of American Empire

By Chalmers Johnson

"Blowback- its a CIA term. Blowback does not simply mean the unintended consequences of foreign operations- it means the unintended consequences of foreign operations that were deliberately kept secret from the American public so that when the retaliation comes- the American public is not able to put it in context- it is not able to put cause and effect together. Then they come up with questions like- "why do they hate us?"
- quoted from the documentary "Why We Fight"

Article Link

Excerpt:
The suicidal assassins of September 11, 2001, did not "attack America," as our political leaders and the news media like to maintain; they attacked American foreign policy. Employing the strategy of the weak, they killed innocent bystanders who then became enemies only because they had already become victims. Terrorism by definition strikes at the innocent in order to draw attention to the sins of the invulnerable. The United States deploys such overwhelming military force globally that for its militarized opponents only an "asymmetric strategy," in the jargon of the Pentagon, has any chance of success. When it does succeed, as it did spectacularly on September 11, it renders our massive military machine worthless: The terrorists offer it no targets. On the day of the disaster, President George W. Bush told the American people that we were attacked because we are "a beacon for freedom" and because the attackers were "evil." In his address to Congress on September 20, he said, "This is civilization's fight." This attempt to define difficult-to-grasp events as only a conflict over abstract values--as a "clash of civilizations," in current post-cold war American jargon--is not only disingenuous but also a way of evading responsibility for the "blowback" that America's imperial projects have generated.


The Costs and Consequences of American Empire



The American Empire Project


Review of "Nemesis- The Last Days of the American Republic"
(Nemesis is the Greek goddess of retribution and vengeance, the punisher of pride and hubris. The God of the Bible is known as a God of justice, balance and wrath against the prideful and wicked as well. It is a universal idea that applies extremely well to the present circumstances we find ourselves in.)
From Publishers Weekly
Like ancient Rome, America is saddled with an empire that is fatally undermining its republican government, argues Johnson (The Sorrows of Empire), in this bleak jeremiad. He surveys the trappings of empire: the brutal war of choice in Iraq and other foreign interventions going back decades; the militarization of space; the hundreds of overseas U.S. military bases full of "swaggering soldiers who brawl and sometimes rape." At home, the growth of an "imperial presidency," with the CIA as its "private army," has culminated in the Bush administration's resort to warrantless wiretaps, torture, a "gulag" of secret CIA prisons and an unconstitutional arrogation of "dictatorial" powers, while a corrupt Congress bows like the Roman Senate to Caesar. Retribution looms, the author warns, as the American economy, dependent on a bloated military-industrial complex and foreign borrowing, staggers toward bankruptcy, maybe a military coup. Johnson's is a biting, often effective indictment of some ugly and troubling features of America's foreign policy and domestic politics. But his doom-laden trope of empire ("the capacity for things to get worse is limitless.... the American republic may be coming to its end") seems overstated. With Bush a lame duck, not a Caesar, and his military adventures repudiated by the electorate, the Republic seems more robust than Johnson allows. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review
"Chalmers Johnson, a patriot who pulls no punches, has emerged as our most prescient critic of American empire and its pretensions. Nemesis is his fiercest book—and his best.”—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism

“Nemesis, the final volume in the remarkable Blowback trilogy, completes a true patriot’s anguished and devastating critique of the militarism that threatens to destroy the United States from within. In detail and with unflinching candor, Chalmers Johnson decries the discrepancies between what America professes to be and what it has actually become—a global empire of military bases and operations; a secret government increasingly characterized by covert activities, enormous ‘black’ budgets, and near dictatorial executive power; a misguided republic that has betrayed its noblest ideals and most basic founding principals in pursuit of disastrously conceived notions of security, stability, and progress.”
—John Dower, author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II

“Chalmers Johnson’s voice has never been more urgently needed, and in Nemesis it rings with eloquence, clarity, and truth.”—James Carroll, author of House of War

“Nemesis is a stimulating, sweeping study in which Johnson asks a most profound strategic question: Can we maintain the global dominance we now regard as our natural right? His answer is chilling. You do not have to agree with everything Johnson says—I don't—but if you agree with even half of his policy critiques, you will still slam the book down on the table, swearing, ‘We have to change this!’”
—Joseph Cirincione, Senior Vice President for National Security and International Policy, Center for American Progress

“Nemesis is a five-alarm warning about flaming militarism, burning imperial attitudes, secret armies, and executive arrogance that has torched and consumed the Constitution and brought the American Republic to death's door. Johnson shares a simple, liberating, and healing path back to worthy republicanism. But the frightening and heart-breaking details contained in Nemesis suggest that the goddess of retribution will not be so easily satisfied before ‘the right order of things’ is restored.”—Karen Kwiatkowski, retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel

“Last fall a treasonous Congress gave the president license to kidnap, torture—you name it—on an imperial scale. All of us, citizens and non-citizens alike, are fair game. Kudos for not being silent, Chalmers, and for completing your revealing trilogy with undaunted courage.”—Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst; co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Video on ”The Last Days of the American Republic.”

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Challenging Media


Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.

I am dead set on challenging this myth of a liberal media- it is a very big deal...this is a major and debilitating lie...a tool of the real enemy of mankind that is doing tremendous harm. The vids are excellent and to the point.

Media Education Foundation Videos

Rich Media, Poor Democracy


Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.

The leftist media theory is a myth. I have begun to understand that the whole conservative-liberal debate is useless and the terms are meaningless. There is no left and right - just authoritarian/worldly and more authoritarian/worldly. There is left and further left and right and further right so that they both really fall in approximately the same position on the dial I encourage my fellow men, Christians and citizens to climb out of those respective boxes and become discerning human beings again.

I am dead set on challenging this myth of a liberal media- it is a very big deal...this is a major and debilitating lie...a tool of the real enemy of mankind that is doing tremendous harm. The vids are excellent and to the point.

Media Education Foundation Videos

Constructing Public Opinion


Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.

The leftist media theory is a myth. I have begun to understand that the whole conservative-liberal debate is useless and the terms are meaningless. There is no left and right - just authoritarian/worldly and more authoritarian/worldly. There is left and further left and right and further right so that they both really fall in approximately the same position on the dial. I encourage my fellow men, Christians and citizens to climb out of those respective boxes and become discerning human beings again

Is my dissent legitimate? See here:

You Gotta Keep 'Em Separated


Confronting the Powers That Be

Media Education Foundation Videos

Game Over: Gender, Race & Violence in Video Games


Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.


The "Left Wing Media" is a mythical construct of propaganda and is actually a profit-generating arm of the corporate machine that is ironically more associated with big business and "conservative" interests.
The consumerism and hedonism you see on T.V. and the in the movies has NOTHING to do with political liberalism or conservatism for that matter. The endless parade of decadence and materialism that flows out of America is a well oiled marketing machine- selling more cars, fast food, soft drinks, fashion items, video games and tabloid sensationalism to consumers by stimulating them with ever-more provocative imagery and false needs.
Big business and corporatism is responsible for the America's image abroad and her spiritual condition- not political liberalism or Democrats. Follow the money...do the math...its really simple.

Eleven Rules of Corporate Behavior


Is my dissent legitimate? See here:

You Gotta Keep 'Em Separated


Confronting the Powers That Be

Media Education Foundation Videos

The Authoritarians

Article

In the intro of this book/online PDF Professor Robert Altemeyer talks about why he felt it was important to provide this information to a broad audience for free. As he notes, much of the study on authoritarianism has concentrated on the authoritarian followers, but not too many people have done much to understand what mechanisms make the authoritarian leaders tick.

The book will be published on the web in 8 sections consisting of an intro and seven chapters:

Ch. 1. Who Are the Authoritarian Followers?
Ch. 2. The Roots of Authoritarian Aggression, and Authoritarianism Itself
Ch. 3. How Authoritarian Followers Think
Ch. 4. Authoritarian Followers and Religious Fundamentalism
Ch. 5. Authoritarian Leaders
Ch. 6. Authoritarianism and Politics
Ch. 7. What's To Be Done?

INTRO

The Authoritarian Specter

Excerpt from review of T.A.S.:

The bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, the emergence of militias and skinheads, the rise of the religious right, the attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics, the backlash against equal rights movements, the increase in poverty...these, according to Bob Altemeyer, are all versions of one story--the authoritarian personality in action. But aren't authoritarians Nazi types, kooks, the Klan? These are just the extreme examples, he argues. The Authoritarian Specter shows that many ordinary people today are psychologically disposed to embrace antidemocratic, fascist policies.

The Killing Screens: Media & the Culture of Violence


Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.


The "Left Wing Media" is a mythical construct of propaganda and is actually a profit-generating arm of the right-wing corporate machine.
The consumerism and hedonism you see on T.V. and the in the movies has NOTHING to do with political liberalism. The endless parade of decadence and materialism that flows out of America is a well oiled marketing machine- selling more cars, fast food, soft drinks, fashion items, video games and tabloid sensationalism to consumers by stimulating them with ever-more provocative imagery and false needs.
Big business and corporatism is responsible for the America's image abroad and her spiritual condition- not political liberalism or Democrats. Follow the money...do the math...its really simple.

Eleven Rules of Corporate Behavior


Is my dissent legitimate? See here:

You Gotta Keep 'Em Separated


Confronting the Powers That Be

Media Education Foundation Videos

Toxic Sludge is Good For You


Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.


WOW!!!


Eleven Rules of Corporate Behavior

Friday, January 19, 2007

Great Moments in "Un-Biased" News Coverage

Article

It would have been nice to have somebody in the media asking the tough questions and exercising their critical thinking skills on this kind of fertilizer.

What a CROCK.

Sean Hannity, The Fairness Doctrine and Free Speech



On the August 29 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Fox News host Sean Hannity sought to encourage Republican voters and candidates to ensure a
Republican victory in the November midterm elections by proclaiming that “there are things in life worth fighting and dying for, and one of ‘em is making sure” that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) “doesn’t become the speaker.”

I do not seek to demonize or condemn this person because scripture, (which Mr. Hannity, is well outside the boundaries of with his daily urgings to hate our political opponents, enemies and to encourage violence*), but, to let his own words be his judge.

* Hannity is on TV at this very moment complaining about someone being beaten up by those with a vicious, violent, gang- like mentality.

* Ironically, and quite hypocritically, Mr. Hannity seems to have no problem having Ann Coulter who has a penchant for recommending death for those with whom she disagrees as a repeat guest on his shows.

Note these:
* Ann Coulter stated in her December 21 column that "I think the government
should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo." (this is about as un-Christian as it gets- but wait there's more)

* Commenting on radio host Melanie Morgan’s assertion that if New York Times executive editor Bill Keller were convicted of treason she “would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber,” Coulter said, “I prefer a firing squad, but I’m open to a debate on the method of execution.” She later suggested that Times staff members should be “executed.”

(Suspicion must always fall on those who attempt to silence their opponents.
~Ian Buckley)

* Coulter said of the media: “Would that it were so! … That the American military were targeting journalists.”

* Coulter suggested that Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) is “the reason soldiers invented fragging,” — military slang meaning the intentional killing of a member of one’s own unit.

* Coulter argued that the national debate during the Monica Lewinsky controversy should not have focused on whether former President Bill Clinton “did it,” but rather “whether to impeach or assassinate” him.

* Coulter said of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: “We need somebody to put rat poison in Justice Stevens’s créme brulée.'’

* Fox News host Sean Hannity* asked right-wing pundit Ann Coulter how she would propose to end Iran's nuclear activities if she "were president." Coulter replied: "How about we just ... carpet-bomb them so they can't build a transistor radio?" As Media Matters for America recently noted, Fox News host Neil Cavuto similarly wondered how a "President Ann Coulter" would view certain diplomatic overtures toward Israel from Hezbollah's leadership. Coulter noted that her "first act in office ... would be to deport all liberals" and then "deal with Israel."

* Hannity's response to this was jocular.

I submit that Mr. Hannity is "conservative" and Christian in name only. As for Ms. Coulter, she is decidedly pagan no-matter what she claims- and is certifiably, criminally insane. The rich part is that she often speaks out about the evil of Saddam, the Taliban, the Nazis, Islamic radicals etc. Ohhh, the irony. Can ANYONE seriously regard her as anything other than a terrorist in her own right?

Alvin Toffler said in Future Shock back in 1970 that, as change continues to accelerate in the world, many groups who are unable to cope with the change will become more conservative, more fundamentalist, more angry and hostile as they feel left behind.

We see this in America, we see it in Islam, and we see it elsewhere. In Iraq, innocent people who are labeled "the others" are dragged from cars and shot on a daily basis.

Mr. Hannity's latest rants are targeted against the proposal to revive the Fairness Doctrine
in media broadcasting. This is rather ironic given that Mr. Hannity works for a
network whose mantra has been "Fair and Balanced".

He cries that "liberals' cannot compete in the arena of mass media and thus have to institute laws to gain access to the market. This is also ironic given the gent's constant rantings against what he calls the "Liberal Media" domination. Another irony is that Mr. Hannity who has a three hour a day radio show and a prime time slot on Fox speaks about the media as though he is not a part of it.

Yet another irony is that this fellow constantly blames things like the failures of the War in Iraq on the media rather than failed foreign policy and failed militarism.
I have had many conversations with people who maintain that basically the government should control or edit the news that we hear- because negative news erodes support for the cause in Iraq. I don't think I really need to comment about how twisted the idea that the government should control the press is...they call it totalitarianism. I do not believe that in a supposedly free society or a democracy that people should be intimidated or called unpatriotic for questioning authority or any other thing in the entire spectrum of human existence. Without dissent there would be no United State's of America in the first place. The questioning of Worldly authority is the essence of both democracy and religion!!

Someone recently insisted to me that "we" (the collective we) should not even know what was going in Iraq concerning the numbers of deaths and casualties at all because it detracts from the "cause". Its funny that many of the people who believe this are the same ones who are always complaining that others are too sensitive and cannot withstand scrutiny or criticism.

I understand that loose lips sink ships- and that tactical information should never be relayed- but, to black out the reporting of negative news is another matter all together. I remarked, tongue in cheek, to this person that they would have made a fine Soviet or Nazi and he would have liked to a swing at me. For someone constantly ranting about how the socialists and liberals are ruining life on Earth that's what you call being able to dish it out but not being able to take it.

I issued a challenge a long time ago for people to unearth the good news from Iraq that was being supressed according to those who insist that the fault for the debacle lies with the media reporting about the bloodshed( laughable- its actually much worse than the daily news blurbs suggest). I am sill waiting. A new coat of paint on school in a zone tortured by daily bomb blasts just doesn't make the grade. I also posted an article straight from the State Department's web site that talked about how the ongoing violence was squelching every facet of life over there- to the contrary of what the presiding administration's newsspeak was insisting right up until the recent elections. Many pseudo- conservatives, decry a biased media on one hand- and tacitly condone the control, editing and manipulation of the news by the government concerning the war on the other hand.

Basically what this means is that they actually don't have any problem manipulating or supressing the truth- they just don't like to hear things that do not support their own personal beliefs. Anyone who does not conform to the thought processes of these sorts becomes a "liberal-America- hating- socialist".

I find it funny funny that at the same time many pseudo- conservatives cry "assault" on free speech when faced with the idea of a bill that requires equal representation of viewpoints so as to prevent corporate media powerhouses from becoming nothing more than propaganda spewing arms of particular political parties- they accuse their critics of being afraid of a competition and of being unable to sell themselves to the public. And they still cry about the unfairness of the "liberal media".

I often hear people calling NPR an overly leftist media outlet. I frequently listen to NPR because I don't have to hear people raising their voices, shouting down or squelching callers with opposing viewpoints or crass, insensitive, classless attacks on those whose views are being scrutinized. NPR is actually very good about discussing both sides of a story. Because they do have liberal voices sharing time they are often demonized as a liberal outlet. I find this to be fairly ridiculous. I have openly challenged anyone who insists that NPR is so brashly liberal (most of them have never even listened to NPR and are simply parrotting people like Hannity)- to listen for a week and log every time that they promote a liberal idea without offering another opposing view. I challenge them to statistically prove the NPR as extreme left thesis. None have even considered taking up this challenge. I believe this is because that they have not listened, as I said, and in the back of their mind realize that there is a chance that one of their favortite mantras and theories just might be preposterous after all. I won't duck like that...somebody...anybody...PROVE IT TO ME. I'm listening.... and right here is your forum you can have as much space as you want. The only thing I'll consider editing is foul language.

I do not believe that the government should control the media- but neither do I believe that mega- corporations who control media markets should be able to spew commentary without equal representation from the other side of the story. Also, be it noted that the idea that there are only two (conservative and liberal) interpretations of any given scenario is in itself a very short sighted, over- simplifying control mechanism.

At this point I have begun to understand that the whole conservative-liberal debate is useless and the terms are meaningless. I encourage my fellow men, Christians and citizens to climb out of those respective boxes and become discerning human beings again.

Wikipedia on the Fairness Doctrine

The Wisdom Fund on the Fairness Doctrine

FAIR on The Fairness Doctrine
How we lost it, and why we need it back

The false balance of Hannity & Colmes

GREAT MOMENTS IN "UN-BIASED" NEWS COVERAGE

Rev. Richard Cizik- Evangelicals Take on Environmental, Social Issues


Richard Cizik* is the new President of the National Association of Evangelicals
*Cizik took over after the former president Ted Haggard was ousted in a scandal involving a male prostitute and the use of methamphetamines.

Article

Audio Interview*****



BONUS ARTICLE


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Here comes the (Christian) Revolution



ARTICLE

Or should we call it a revival... a return to the original mission of the Church as a collection of disciples rather than an arm of the state and empire building enterprise?

The Mythical Left Wing Media

The "Left Wing Media" is a mythical construct of propaganda and is actually a profit-generating arm of the right-wing corporate machine.
The consumerism and hedonism you see on T.V. and the in the movies has NOTHING to do with political liberalism. The endless parade of decadence and materialism that flows out of America is a well oiled marketing machine- selling more cars, fast food, soft drinks, fashion items, video games and tabloid sensationalism to consumers by stimulating them with ever-more provocative imagery and false needs.
Big business and corporatism is responsible for the America's image abroad and her spiritual condition- not political liberalism or Democrats. Follow the money...do the math...its really simple.

Song Dedication or as my most excellent mate MWK put it, a "culture- slap" - an upside your head presentation of your own cultural reality.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Iraq For sale



Link

Winning Hearts and Minds In Iraq


Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.

This is not how hearts and minds are won. Although this is an isolated incident and not nearly as horrific as the massacre at Haditha- it is nevertheless disgusting and a good indicator of how we are percieved and why we are catching armed resistance. Its over...it has BEEN over. Its time to bring them home.

P.S. I have actually had some people try and defend this incident to me privately. I have one question in response... would Jesus EVER do something like this?.......... Case closed.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Propaganda in America - History of Public Relations


Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.

PT.2 The Gimmicks


PT.3 The Art of PR Spin


Pt.4 Hitler's Ideological Beast


Pt.5 Business vs Politicians


Pt.6 The Enemy Within

Better Way- Ben Harper Video Clip

Ben Harper Better Way

Click on the small arrow at the corner of the screen to dig the clip while staying with this page.

"Better Way" lyrics

i'm a living sunset
lightning in my bones
push me to the edge
but my will is stone

fools will be fools
and wise will be wise
but i will look this world
straight in the eyes

what good is a man
who won't take a stand
what good is a cynic
with no better plan

(hope these words feel pleasant
as they rest upon your ears)

reality is sharp
it cuts at me like a knife
everyone i know
is in the fight of their life

take your face out of your hands
and clear your eyes
you have a right to your dreams
and don't be denied

i believe in a better way

Friday, January 12, 2007

Kill Your Television- Jerry Mander

ARTICLE

Living Colour-Everything Is Possible (Type) Video Clip

Living Colour - Type

Click on the small arrow in the corner of the screen to stay on this page while digging the clip.

Lyrics:

Stereotype
Monotype
Blood type
Are you my type?
Minimalism
Abstract expressionism
Postmodernism
Is it?

We are the children of concrete and steel
This is the place where the truth is concealed
This is the time when the lie is revealed
Everything is possible, but nothing is real

Corporate religion
Televangahypnotism
Suffer till you die
For the sweet-by-and-by
Science and technology, the new mythology
Look deep inside
Empty

We are the children of concrete and steel
This is the place where the truth is concealed
This is the time when the lie is revealed
Everything is possible, but nothing is real

Everything that goes around
Comes around

Hypothetical
Theoretical
Circumstantial evidence
Irrelevance
Dont think twice
Just roll the dice
Pay the price
Snake eyes

We are the children of concrete and steel
This is the place where the truth is concealed
This is the time when the lie is revealed
Everything is possible, but nothing is real

We are the children of concrete and steel
This is the place where your fate has been sealed
This is the time when your life is revealed
Everything is possible, but nothing is real

Everything that goes around
Comes around...

Thursday, January 11, 2007