Friday, March 17, 2017

After this appeared:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-ed-disney-gay-themes-not-for-kids-20170306-story.html

I tried to post this:

http://thefederalist.com/2015/03/31/gay-marriage-isnt-about-justice-its-about-selma-envy/

"halos without sacrifice"  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, some 70 years ago, called that "cheap grace," a phrase he first heard in a Harlem church.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

FYI.  In response to:
       
https://www.denisonforum.org/uncategorized/cant-celebrate-trumps-transgender-bathroom-policy/
     
I posted:
           
Ordinary human law needs to read its ugly head here. Obama violated the rules for how rules are to be made in several different ways, which is why his "Dear Colleague" letter was enjoined (blocked). Weights get assigned to values. IMHO, Obama exceeding his authority, especially for what I believe was an illegitimate motive, was a bigger problem to me than the hurt feelings of - - supposedly - - "hundreds of thousands" of school children. Nonetheless, "render unto Ceasar" and getting "Chevron deference" correct tells us NOTHING about how we are to treat other people.

That's where the other half of Jesus' command kicks in; "render unto God." Thus, Ryan D is completely and directly on point when he calls us to compassion for our fellow fallen souls.

But that's also why I highly doubt Jesus would cry over Trump's reversal. Bullying in its wake? Yes. Correcting an of-this-world error? No.
posted twice by mistake   site took me to some weird google sign in page

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

ISIS or Homophobe? Or both?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/12/19/facebook-twitter-google-sued-orlando-shooting-victims-families/95634736/

Of course this suit should be dismissed.  (Possibly even discipline on the attorneys who filed it, but that's "inside baseball" very few lay people will ever know or care about.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The debate last night

Did you watch it? I'd like to see Donald Trump pressed a bit on his bragging about how much money he makes AND how he pays no taxes because he's "smart". He's like the guy who agrees to go out with a group of people for dinner or drinks, and figures out how to leave before the check comes. And is proud of getting one over on his ... well, won't call them "friends" because people don't treat their friends that way. Who is supposed to pay for all of the government functions? The military, for instance, or immigration and border control, which he's so big on? Trump benefits mightily from being an American. What does he think he owes America in return?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

If you were to think about mass killings in the past few years ...

... and draw a Venn diagram with one circle labeled "Muslim and/or associated somehow with the Middle East or North Africa" and the other labeled "Homicidal maniac", what would it look like? And would it really be appropriate to label the intersection "Radical Islam" as we seem to be doing? Does his background as a Tunisian really make the Nice truck driver qualitatively different from Seung-Hui Cho? Yes, he seemed to be "radicalized" shortly before the end of his life after showing zero interest in religion until then. Cho was pretty weird and scared people, too.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Our long national nightmare

Is it really going to be Clinton v. Trump?

Really?

319,000,000 people and this is the best we can do?

Monday, February 15, 2016

I guess ...

... rather than have President Obama put forth a candidate, and examine her, and have a chance to reject her if there's a valid reason, it's better to wait and potentially let President Sanders or President Clinton pick one with potentially a Democratic Senate to rubber-stamp their choice?

Can these people set aside their posturing for five seconds and just think?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sanders v. Trump ...

Does anyone else think this is like an epic showdown to determine what the soul of this nation is made of? Or is it just a passing curiosity and by election time we'll have settled into a choice between candidates who are almost indistinguishable from each other except that one is labeled R and the other D?

Follow-up to previous subject of discussion

Here is an article about the Yale educator who emailed about the college's request that students be cognizant of others' feelings when they planned their Halloween costume, and who subsequently left her job.

I was thinking just today that there are people, like me, for whom thinking a lot about feelings doesn't come naturally. We can do it. We should do it. But it's not second nature.

The fact is, I thought today, people who lack insight into feelings nevertheless have feelings of their own; and if they lack insight, either because feelings aren't important to them all the time or because they don't make the effort to give them any thought, then they can be oblivious to their own feelings and how they are affected by them. I've known people who thought themselves very no-nonsense and straightforward, and who nevertheless sulked or carried grudges because someone hurt their feelings, and they lacked the self-insight to see that. If you're in tune with your feelings, and someone hurts them, you can take a step back and ask: what is really going on here? Maybe I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Would what she said have bothered me on a different day? And let me take into account what I know about this person. Is she the type of person who would say ugly things for effect, or maybe she's just abrupt with everyone b/c that's her way and I shouldn't take it personally? But if you aren't in touch with your own feelings, you will now be angry and in a bad mood and you won't know why. I've known people, grown men usually, that you had to tip toe around in order not to set them off. Yet they sneered if anyone else tried to talk about how something made them feel.

Christakis left her job due to the blowback her email got. No administrator at Yale asked her to leave. She had support from a lot of students. Still, the bad feelings she had from the offended students's criticism was more than she could stand, and according to this article, she still has very painful memories about that time. Ironic, isn't it, that the negative feedback loomed so large for her. She lacked the perspective of thinking about how there were different views about what she had said, her bosses weren't troubled by it, with the passage of time it would be something else getting all the attention and outrage. She lacked, in other words, the perspective that she insisted the students who were offended by Halloween costumes surely ought to have. The irony is this: people who take into account feelings are not as likely to have their own illogically and disproportionately hurt. Because they take feelings into account, giving them neither more nor less the attention they ought to get.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

speechless

“But women who genuinely insist on ‘no masculine protection’ are really women who tacitly agree on the propriety of rape."

Man's out of his damn mind. I can't believe I ever commented on the blog of such an odious person.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Iowa caucus so far ...

With 2% reporting: Trump and Cruz are neck-and-neck, at 32.7% and 32.4% respectively, with Rubio in 3rd place with 13.4%, and Carson in 4th with 9.4%. Paul is less than 5%. The following are between 1% and 2%: Huckabee, Bush, Christie, Kasich, Fiorina.

Clinton is beating Sanders, 52.4% - 42.5%. I wonder how many Democrats wish they had the depth of field that Republicans have.

Update: With 22% of Republicans reporting, Cruz is over Trump at 30% over 27.1%, with Rubio at 18.9% now and Carson still between 9 and 10%.

47% of Democrats have Clinton at 51.2%, Sanders at 48.2%.

Update again: Wow! At 47%, Cruz is leading Trump at 29% to 25.4%, and Rubio is catching up - 20.9%! Very respectable showing for Mr. Rubio. Carson is still at 9.8%.

With 63% of Democrats reporting, Clinton surpasses Sanders, 50.8% - 48.7%. Each will get 15 delegates to the national convention.

Update again: Don't know about the Republican delegates yet and I have to go to bed. 62% reporting, Cruz - Trump - Rubio = 28.3%, 25%, 21.9%. I wonder if they'll split the delegates three ways. Guess we'll see. 76% of the Democratic vote is in. Delegates are still split 50-50 and the vote count is drawing closer: 50.3% for Clinton, 49% for Sanders.

Tuesday morning: Dust has settled. Cruz, Trump, Rubio, Carson, have 8, 7, 7, and 3 delegates respectively. Rubio almost matched Trump, at 23.1% to Trump's 24.3%. Interesting how he surged during the night, while Carson started with 9.4% at 2% reporting and ended with 9.3%. And Clinton and Sanders ended in a dead heat, 49.9% and 49.6%. Those could hardly be closer. I think Cruz, Rubio, and Sanders ought to be very pleased.

We'll see what New Hampshire brings.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Viral Brains

Had a cold (or possibly a "mild" case of flu - I had the shot) the week of Christmas. The cough is still dragging on, but worse, I'm in a bit of mental fog that makes it hard to initiate thought. I'm trying to jar myself out of it. I wonder, seriously, if there's something about this lingering viral illness that's making me mentally foggy right now. It's not a new thing to have this after a cold and I have always gotten over it in the past (I guess) but what is new is reading some things about how viruses previously thought to be more or less harmless turn out to be able to cause encephalitis as an unwanted aftereffect. Chikungunya, for instance. I don't have encephalitis but I do wonder if there is an actual effect on the brain here.

Have y'all been keeping up with the Zika virus? It's a mosquito-borne virus that's been around for a while, but the strain now present in Brazil may be causing microcephaly in fetuses when the mother is infected. Here's the New York Times. Pop over and look at that article. Y'all, West Nile is one thing, but look at this:
The C.D.C. advisory came after several days of consultation with outside experts. Some virologists have been urging the health authorities to issue such a warning as the threat from Zika has grown. Officials in Brazil said Tuesday that they were investigating more than 3,500 cases of microcephaly in newborns. Until last year, the country normally had about 150 cases each year. ... Earlier this month, a leading Brazilian health official suggested that women in the hard-hit northeastern region postpone having babies.
Holy cow.

Update 1/17/16

Zika Warning Spotlights Latin America’s Fight Against Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Dr. Isaac I. Bogoch, a tropical infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto who is part of a team modeling the potential for Zika to spread, warned that the Olympics could serve as a catalyst for the virus, which some researchers believe may have arrived in Brazil during another sports mega-event, the 2014 World Cup.

“There will be people traveling to Brazil from all over the world,” Dr. Bogoch said in an email.

“The concern is that infected individuals will travel back to their home country and introduce the virus to new regions.”

Dr. Bogoch and other researchers determined that Zika had the potential to rapidly spread to other parts of the world, according to findings published last week in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Their model for Zika’s possible spread, using worldwide temperature profiles and air travel routes, also determined that more than 60 percent of the population in the United States lives in areas conducive to seasonal Zika transmission. And about 23 million people in the United States live in places with climates like Florida and parts of Texas where Zika can be transmitted by mosquitoes year-round, the researchers said.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another Attempt to Advance an Alternate Atheist Amorality

After discovering that "2 + 2 = 4" cannot be explained or affirmed outside of Christianity (and really not outside of "reformed" Calvinism, since mere Methodism was "broadly compromised"), I dropped off making any arguments or presenting any alternate viewpoints on a certain web site, but after stumbling across this web site:
  
http://onpoint.wbur.org/2015/12/30/a-guide-to-a-godless-morality
  
I thought it might fit here.  And Happy New Year!
  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Seperation v Integration of Church and State in U.S. v Saudi Arabia

In a place with a Free Exercise clause, "religion" is not a thing which occurs only within the four corners of a particular lot and then only for one hour a week.  Or it's not supposed to be . . . .

Whereas in places without a Bill of Rights - - written or not (such as the U.K.) - - the very concept of a distinction between "public" and "private" life may not exist.  When Mussolini said "nothing outside the state" he was renouncing a tradition already about 400 years old in the West.

Anyway, interesting reading for Christmas.  And, like Scrooge's Nephew, I wish you both a Merry one! [whether you keep it or not; Bah! Humbug!  ;)]

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

The Death of God Is Greatly Exaggerated
Kate Bachelder interviews Eric Metaxas
The Wall Street Journal
The Weekend Interview (Fri 18 Dec 2015)
The happy warrior for a muscular Christianity on why faith and science are not opposed, and why the public square benefits from expressions of belief.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-death-of-god-is-greatly-exaggerated-an-interview-with-eric-metaxas-1450481540

"Part of my life’s thesis is that we live in a culture that has bought into the patently silly idea that there is a divide between the secular world and the faith world," he says, the idea that religion can be walled off exclusively into private life or pitched altogether, particularly when 70% or so of U.S. residents identify as Christian. "Culture presents us with this false choice between channels that are exclusively faith-based" versus those that are "exclusively secular." Yet "that’s not how most Americans process the world."

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

U.S. Department of State: Marriage to Saudis
Middle East Quarterly
WINTER 2003 • VOLUME 10: NUMBER 1, pp. 74-81
http://www.meforum.org/520/us-department-of-state-marriage-to-Saudis

The document is an advisory to American women contemplating marriage to Saudi men, based on the long experience of U.S. consular personnel in the kingdom. It is remarkable for its undiplomatic and anecdotal tone, so distant from the department's standard bureaucratic style. For prospective spouses, "Marriage to Saudis" constituted an official tutorial in Saudi culture; for others, it served as a fascinating example of practical anthropology, school of hard knocks.

The straightforward and talkative frankness of "Marriage to Saudis" also led to its retraction by the department. The Saudis themselves were not perturbed by the document.[4] But when the brochure went up on the department's website, the American Muslim Council demanded its removal, calling it "hurtful," "derogatory and biased." In February 2000, the department removed the document from its website for "revision," but it was never replaced. (The department has since published a straightforward fact brochure on child abduction in Saudi Arabia.)[5]

No subsequent revision could supersede "Marriage to Saudis," a minor classic by an anonymous diplomat determined to tell it straight. The document appears here in its entirety.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Return of "White" Science?

The ‘Benefits’ of Black Physics Students
by Jedidah C. Isler, December 17, 2015
A version of this op-ed appears in print on December 17, 2015, on page A39 of the New York edition with the headline: Being Black in Physics Class.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/17/opinion/the-benefits-of-black-physics-students.html?mabReward=A3&moduleDetail=recommendations-2&action=click&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&region=Footer&module=WhatsNext&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&src=recg&pgtype=article&_r=0

http://nyti.ms/1Pa07nu [printer-friendly URL]

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Many laymen (meaning "not attorneys," as contrasted to those who are not scientists) have made fools out of themselves the last 10 days or so having vapors over Scalia's questions in oral argument.
  
But this physics PhD goes well beyond not have the remotest inkling of understanding what happened in court, much less understanding what the fight in Fisher is even about.
    
So, I'm curious to see if you two see the same defects in logic and self-awareness in this Op-Ed as I did.  I think there's a howler in almost every paragraph . . . but maybe that's just me?  Thus, I'm looking for some second opinions here - - y'all see anything odd or weak in her logic?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Are y'all ready for my tinfoil hat theory?

First the setup:

We've known for several years that strep infections in children can cause OCD.
A likely mechanism by which a bacterial infection triggers obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in some children has been demonstrated by scientists at the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and collaborators at California State University (CSU) and the University of Oklahoma (UO). Their research suggests that an antibody against strep throat bacteria sometimes mistakenly acts on a brain enzyme, disrupting communications between neurons and causing a form of obsessive compulsive and related tic disorder in children — pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococci (PANDAS).
And we've known that toxoplasmosis, a parasitical infection caused by Toxoplasma gondii, can cause behavioral changes in animals and in humans.
...T. gondii-infected rodents exhibit an increase in activity and a decrease in predator vigilance behavioural traits (Berdoy et al., 1995; Hay et al., 1983; Hay et al., 1984; Hutchison et al., 1980a; Hutchison et al., 1980b; Lamberton et al., 2008; Webster, 1994; Webster, 2001; Webster, 2007; Webster et al., 1994; Webster et al., 2006). Moreover, whilst uninfected rats show a strong innate aversion to predator odour, T. gondii infection appears to subtly alter the rats’ cognitive perception of cat predation risk, turning their innate aversion into a ‘suicidal’ ‘fatal feline attraction’ (Berdoy et al., 2000; Vyas et al., 2007c; Webster et al., 2006). Such fatal feline attraction appears specific towards a response to cat (urine) odour, with no difference observed between infected and uninfected rats in their responses to odours of non-predatory mammals such as rabbit (Berdoy et al., 2000; Vyas et al., 2007c; Webster et al., 2006) nor contrasting potential predatory species odours such as mink (Lamberton et al., 2008) or dog (Kannan et al., 2010).
...
Consistent with a possible impairment in psychomotor performance and/or enhanced risk-taking personality profiles, individuals with latent toxoplasmosis have been reported to be at a 2.65 times increased risk to be involved in a traffic accident relative to the general population (Flegr et al., 2002), a result subsequently replicated by other groups (Flegr et al., 2009; Kocazeybeka et al., 2009; Yereli et al., 2006). Another recent study, albeit significant only in a subset with lower socioeconomic status, linked T. gondii seropositivity with workplace accidents (Alvarado-Esquivel et al., 2012). There is also the ever growing and convincing body of evidence concerning a potential relationship linking T. gondii with that of some forms of affective and neurological disorders in humans. Correlations have been found for OCD (Miman et al., 2010b), Parkinson’s disease (Miman et al., 2010a), Alzheimer’s disease (Kusbeci et al., 2011), suicide (Arling et al., 2009) and bipolar disorder (Pearce et al., 2012). The most substantial body of empirical evidence gathered to date relates to the potential association between T. gondii and some cases of schizophrenia in humans. T. gondii seroprevalence has been associated with schizophrenia in at least 38 studies to date (Mortensen et al., 2007; Torrey et al., 2007; Torrey et al., 2012; Torrey et al., 2000; Torrey and Yolken, 2003; Yolken and Torrey, 2008).
There's even been speculation about T. gondii causing cultural differences.
The associations between prevalence and cultural dimensions are consistent with the prediction that T. gondii can influence human culture. Just as individuals infected with T. gondii score themselves higher in the neurotic factor guilt-proneness, nations with high T. gondii prevalence had a higher aggregate neuroticism score. In addition, Western nations with high T. gondii prevalence were higher in the ‘neurotic’ cultural dimensions of masculine sex roles and uncertainty avoidance. These results were predicted by a logical scaling-up from individuals to aggregate personalities to cultural dimensions.
So when we read about people traveling to the Middle East, or associating with folks from the ME in their mosques and whatnot, and their being suddenly and inexplicably "radicalized" ... see where I am going with this?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Maybe they're both right

Muslim extremists with guns shoot up a holiday party.

One lobby says it's not fair to blame all Muslims for the misdeeds of a few.

Another lobby says it's not fair to blame all gun owners for the misdeeds of a few.

Maybe they're both right.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Terrorism

1 - What makes an act terrorism? Is this distinct from paranoid schizophrenia, from disgruntled employee (remember "going postal"?), from angry ex?

2 - If we think too much about whether or not an act is terrorism, as opposed to "just" mass murder, have the terrorists won?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Gender - what does it really mean?

I've wondered a lot over the years what we really mean by masculinity and femininity, what makes a woman womanly or a man manly.

What is tripping me up is that there's no quality I can think of, that a real man ought to aspire to, that a woman ought not to have as well; and vice versa.

And when I think of characteristics that we associate with boys and men, or girls and women, there aren't any that aren't a trainwreck if taken to the extreme. Men who are too aggressive. Women who are too invested in their appearance. Women who smother their children so they have to make a complete break to get away. Men who have to dominate everyone around them.

Here is Rudyard Kipling's "If". It goes through a lot of "if you can" this and that, and ends
"Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!"

Does he really mean "man", or does he mean "grownup"?

Look at this part:

"If you can bear to ...
... watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools"

Think about a mother who did the best she could to raise her child but in his teen years he fell in with the wrong crowd. Drugs. Problems in school. Maybe he develops an addiction, or actually ends up in prison. The mom addresses his problems at the same time that she loves him unconditionally, which is to say no matter what, and never gives up on him. Is that not womanly?

This part:

"If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;"

That's cool, but if you are gambling away the rent money or any money beyond your discretionary spending, you may or may not be a man, but you're definitely a fool.

So anyway, suppose you take a quality like nurturing. Maybe women tend more to have this quality than men. That doesn't mean that any given woman is nurturing. That doesn't mean that men aren't. When I am sick my husband takes very good care of me. I don't see that as womanish. I see that as my life partner caring and stepping up. Why would I want a partner who didn't.

When I've tried asking this before I've never gotten a straight answer. I have read where feminists (dunh dunh DUNH!) assert that there is no difference between men and women. I don't see other feminists saying this and I don't say it either. I know we're different. Of course we are. I'm just not sure exactly how.

Thoughts?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

On Rehabilitation

What is the extent to which words, customs, practices and music with unsavory pasts are permitted to overcome those unsavory pasts and be rehabilitated?

There's a beautiful piece of music by Haydn.  Christians who attend churches that still sing traditional hymns would recognize it as the tune for "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken," and Christians have been singing it to those words for 200 years.  When Hitler came to power, that tune became the tune of the Nazi national anthem.  Today, the Nazi national anthem has been grandly forgotten -- I'd be surprised if one German in a thousand could recite the words to it -- and Christians continue to sing Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.  Some would say that the tune's use by the Nazis precludes it from being used in polite society.  Others would say that the world does not deserve to be robbed of a  beautiful piece of music just because it was appropriated by the Nazis.  If you want to hear what it sounds like, you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0oywMbpo24

What about Halloween?  Today, it is a silly children's holiday.  Once upon a time, it was a fairly bloody pagan religious ritual.  Its celebration was forbidden in the deeply religious home in which I was raised, in part for that reason.  Why should we celebrate an event that at one time caused much suffering?  On the other hand, there is no one alive who remembers that past, so should we deprive ourselves of what is today a bit of harmless fun for children?  The candy industry certainly hopes not.

Remember Yosemite Sam from the Buggs Bunny/Road Runner Hour?  Sam loved to cuss, and one of his favorite expressions was "cotton picking."  As in "ya cottin pickin varmint."  That term is of racist origin; it disparages the Black slaves who picked cotton in the South.  Probably none of the children watching Saturday morning cartoons in the 1960s and 70s made the connection.  A few of their parents might have made the connection.  But for most, it was simply a silly cartoon character saying silly things.

Reasonable minds may differ on the question, and it probably needs to be considered case by case.  But I'm of the mind that the better plan is to take power over words and music by not allowing their past to dictate our present.  Just because Hitler enjoyed Haydn's music doesn't mean I can't.  Just because slaves were disparaged doesn't mean I can't take some pleasure by watching a Yosemite Sam rerun on You Tube.

By doing so, we tell yesterday's bigots that we are stronger than they are; that while they are dust and ashes, we will transform their malevolence into joy. 

There was once a restaurant that, in the 1950s, had a sign that said "No faggots allowed."  Time passed, and eventually the restaurant was sold to a gay man, who decided not to take down the sign.  He transformed it into a restaurant with a mostly gay clientele, and he still didn't take the sign down.  He left it up because every day the business opened with a gay owner and a mostly gay staff and a mostly gay clientele, was a day that he and his staff and his clientele were giving the finger to the sign and its previous homophobic owner.  Kind of like a dog taking a leak on a sign that says "No dogs."

The sign isn't there any more; a bunch of humorless bureaucrats from the local human rights commission didn't see it that way and made him remove it.  Pity.  I liked his message so much better.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gun control?

Man accidentally shot when customer's gun falls to floor while at Sanford Cracker Barrel
The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said after interviewing witnesses at the scene, deputies determined that a customer was on his way to the register to pay for his meal when his legally carried firearm fell from his holster onto the floor, discharging one round, which struck a male patron in the lower leg.

The shooting was determined to be accidental and no charges are expected to be filed.

The man who was shot was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
I don't know why charges weren't filed. I'd like to see the following gun control law: You have to control your gun. Fell out of his holster, really?

Monday, November 23, 2015

How to read the Bible (part 1, maybe)

3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
This is Matthew 19, of course, and it's one of several passages where divorce is addressed. Interestingly, in Matthew 5, when Jesus talks about divorce during the Sermon on the Mount, he mentions the sexual immorality clause, but in the corresponding verses in Mark and Luke, that is left out.

I am NOT a fan of "I'm not happy" divorces. There have been some of those in my family and among acquaintances. It seems like people sometimes just wake up in the morning and say "I want out" and despite their spouse's pleading, won't articulate any specific problem and won't go to counseling. Among the people I can think of that that has happened to, they're about evenly split between the men and the women.

Sometimes the spouse has articulated a grievance, and the other dismisses it until it's too late. It's sad when that happens, and the offending spouse promises to go to counseling and the whole nine yards - and maybe does go - but the offended spouse just has no love left. That still doesn't make it all right, of course, but one could wish that the offending spouse had not been quite so closed-minded about his/her faults.

I think part of the picture is what the disciples touch on here - if it's that grim maybe people just shouldn't get married. Definitely engaged couples should understand that they are in it for the long haul, and "for better or for worse" isn't just a phrase we say b/c it sounds nice. I am willing to bet that the number of starry-eyed lovers who believe what they're told, that the day will come when they are so mad at their loved one they could kill him/her, could be counted on one hand. But still, you enter marriage hopefully understanding that there will be bumps and you have to cling together and get through them.

All that to say this:

When you look at this passage in Matthew, if you were to pick one of these as being more central to Jesus's point than the other, which would it be?

1 - It's wrong to make up reasons why it's OK to divorce frivolously. God takes marriage very seriously. Don't try to weasel out of your commitments.

2 - Let me present to you an exhaustive and comprehensive list of acceptable reasons to divorce. Whoops, there's only one.

Things can happen nowadays that simply weren't possible 2000 years ago. Suppose your spouse has been rightfully convicted of serial murder and has been imprisoned for life w/o parole. You have little children to raise. Are you doomed to being a single parent, and your children doomed to growing up in a single-parent household, just because your killer spouse never committed adultery? How could Jesus have addressed this? They didn't imprison people like that. A serial killer would simply have been put to death, freeing his/her spouse to remarry.

Once you open that door, then there you are. When is divorce OK? When is it not?

I think ... I think ... that rather than to try to find ways to shoehorn specific exceptions to the no-divorce rule, like abandonment is OK b/c Paul said ... and abuse is a kind of abandonment ... the thing to do is to try to get at the purpose behind all of this, which is to say that once you've married somebody you shouldn't try to get out of your marriage unless you have a truly drastic reason. Yes, that can be abused. OTOH it's not right to put unbearable burdens on people for no good reason, especially if we're not the ones who will ever have to carry them.

Is anyone else willing to touch this with a nine-foot pole?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Intelligence Lied About ISIS

The New York Times has a couple of articles this morning.

Pentagon Expands Inquiry Into Intelligence on ISIS Surge
State fighters overran a string of Iraqi cities last year, analysts at United States Central Command wrote classified assessments for military intelligence officials and policy makers that documented the humiliating retreat of the Iraqi Army. But before the assessments were final, former intelligence officials said, the analysts’ superiors made significant changes.

In the revised documents, the Iraqi Army had not retreated at all. The soldiers had simply “redeployed.”

Such changes are at the heart of an expanding internal Pentagon investigation of Centcom, as Central Command is known, where analysts say that supervisors revised conclusions to mask some of the American military’s failures in training Iraqi troops and beating back the Islamic State. The analysts say supervisors were particularly eager to paint a more optimistic picture of America’s role in the conflict than was warranted.
What the heck? Why would they do this?

Obama Says He Won’t Relent in Fight Against ISIS Amid Questions About Intelligence Reports
He rejected the use of the term “mastermind” to describe the man who authorities believe planned and helped execute the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13. He said the man “got his hands on some fairly conventional weapons, and sadly it turns out if you are willing to die, you can kill a lot of people.”

“The most powerful tool we have to fight ISIL is to say that we’re not afraid,” he said, “to not elevate it, to not somehow buy into their fantasy that they are doing something important.”

He called the group merely “a bunch of killers, with good social media.”
This is Obama, in Malaysia right now, at a press conference.

I like the first paragraph, and the third, but the second: that can't be the most powerful tool we have. Seriously? Was he channeling FDR here?

I recall that after 9/11, GWB ordered the FBI and CIA to stop fighting between themselves and figure out how to pull together. Apparently each had information they were shielding from the other because it was so important to score against the other side. And now these folks in military intelligence, not the analysts but their bosses, once again prioritizing something - personal power? - over forthright sharing of information where it needs to go. I don't know how it is that these folks take their eye off the ball and worry more about internal politics than they do their primary job of providing intelligence. Is it something about the personalities of the people who gravitate to these agencies? Do they think it's a game?