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AlienLove: Spirituality

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 History/Culture: A Mythical Right to Discriminate

Anti-LGBT activists are masking their bigotry as a quest to protect "religious freedom."

By Peter Montgomery

The Supreme Court is now considering cases that could usher in nationwide marriage equality, and state-level gay marriage bans are falling faster than you can say “equal protection under the law.”

People who want to turn back the clock on rights for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) neighbors are struggling to find new ways to do so. Public opinion is turning against them, and the courts have followed.

Facing one legal defeat after another, anti-LGBT forces have latched onto a troubling new approach: cloaking discrimination in the language of religious liberty.

In states across the country — including Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming — right-wing legislators have introduced bills that could let business owners and others ignore anti-discrimination laws in the name of religion. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Sunday, February 22 @ 16:11:14 EST (2475 reads)
(Read More... | 5119 bytes more | Comments? | History/Culture | Score: 0)

 History/Culture: Thou Shalt Not Tolerate Inequality

By rejecting a "deified Market," Pope Francis is protecting our societies — and souls.

By Sam Pizzigati

Sometimes you don’t have to say anything “new” to make news. Consider the “apostolic exhortation” the Vatican recently released.

This statement from Pope Francis, observers note, didn’t really break new theological ground. But the Pope’s exhortation, his first since he stepped onto the world stage, still made front page news the world over — and fully deserved that attention.

What makes this new papal statement so significant? No global religious figure has ever before denounced economic inequality with an assault as wide-ranging — and accessible.

Just what insights can we take from what Pope Francis has to say about inequality? These five jump out. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, December 06 @ 20:02:30 EST (3040 reads)
(Read More... | 6080 bytes more | Comments? | History/Culture | Score: 5)

 Business/Economy: American Common Good and Wages

SpiritualityBy Howard Bess

In the twentieth chapter of the Matthew Gospel, Jesus tells a story. The story was about the wage that was to be paid to poor farm laborers who waited each day to be called to the harvest fields. The issue in the story is the amount to be paid to each worker at the end of the day. Modern understanding of the economics of Galilee in the lifetime of Jesus defines the point of the story. A laborer is deserving of a livable wage.

At the time of Jesus, rich land owners regularly abused farm laborer by paying them less than a livable wage. The rich got richer. The poor got poorer. Jesus became the champion of the poor.

How much should be paid to a person, who works as a laborer? The history of this debate runs through all of American history. In the 19th century on multiple occasions, Congress passed and a U.S. president signed a minimum wage law. Each time, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law. In 1938 congress passed and President Roosevelt signed a minimum wage law. The law passed in 1938 has not been successfully challenged in our courts. The amount of the minimum wage has been raised several times and President Obama recently advocated for a minimum wage of $9.00 per hour. Today even $9.00 per hour is well below a livable wage for a person who is the only wage earner in a household. By the standards of the Bible, paying a person $9.00 per hour is below a livable wage and smells of immorality. A laborer is deserving of a livable wage. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, June 24 @ 20:30:39 EDT (1056 reads)
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 Peace News: The Christian God Cannot Be or Tolerate Violence

SpiritualityBy Howard Bess

If God is love, God cannot be violent nor can God tolerate violence. Jesus was a non-violent, loving people’s rabbi. He was never violent in action, nor do we find endorsement of violence in his teachings.

There are far-reaching changes that are taking place in Christian churches. Older churches and denominations are shrinking, and new expressions of Christian Faith are popping up at a dizzying pace. The changes that are taking place are not a matter of speculation. The upheaval is confirmed with hard numbers produced by professional researchers. The changes that are taking place are numerous, varied and undefined. The future shape of the changes cannot be defined. Our understanding of Christianity and what it means to be a Christian is up for grabs.

All theological discussions are contextual. The present upheaval in Christian churches cannot be divorced from a younger American population that is weary of war on the world scene, weary of violence in our American communities, and outraged at the violence that is taking place in our homes. For many violence has become unacceptable. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, March 07 @ 20:32:45 EST (1768 reads)
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 My Story: For The Least Of These My Sisters And Brothers

SpiritualityBy Howard Bess

I am writing this column on Tuesday evening. Tuesday is a very special day of the week. Every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. I arrive at Daybreak Apartments, a 20 unit housing complex built for the benefit of persons who suffer from long-term mental illnesses. I always have in hand a large box of pastries that I have purchased at a local bakery. By the time I can get to a seat at the large table in the complex dayroom, a dear friend has poured me a cup of fresh coffee along with a cup of water. The cup of water is her way of saying that her friend should not drink a second cup of coffee. She is certain that too much coffee is not good for anyone.

About three quarters of the tenants visit the dayroom on Tuesday mornings. Some stay for an hour and a half. Others pass through, grab a pastry and disappear out the door. Each has a story that would make a chapter in a great book about the people of Daybreak Apartments. Many of my favorite people live in that attractive building on Hemmer Road.

I have had a long-time interest in people will mental illnesses. I cannot say when it first began, but it became very real over 50 years ago when my younger sister was struck down with a schizophrenic episode. At the time, she was in her mid-twenties, was married and had four young children. Psychiatrists did not understand the disease and the treatments were primitive to say the least. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Sunday, October 07 @ 19:10:49 EDT (915 reads)
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 Health News: The Freedom to Die with Dignity

Catholic hospitals follow an edict that requires them to override do-not-resuscitate orders.

By William A. Collins

Now that death
Is at your door;
Hope you planned it
Long before.

You may have missed it amid all this fuss about Catholics and contraception. The Church's pushback over routine birth control methods stemmed in large part from an important edict the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued in 2009, which remains poorly understood and could have a major impact on you and your loved ones.

"Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services," as it's officially called, dictates how the roughly 15 percent of American patients who are treated in Catholic hospitals get to die.

Here's the gist: If you are soon to cash in your chips, your choice to die with dignity will be ignored. You may have signed a "do-not-resuscitate" order and a living will. You may have notarized "end-of-life" directives. You or your loved ones may have posted a big sign on your bed that says "No Tubes." None of that matters. The hospital's mission will be to make sure that you live every possible last agonizing moment. And your job will be to suffer against your will. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Sunday, March 18 @ 19:00:37 EDT (809 reads)
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 Peace News: What Kind of Christianity Is This?

SpiritualityBy Gary G. Kohls

From time to time, I read about condemnations of religion coming from non-religious groups, especially concerning the all-too-common violence perpetrated in the name of religious gods. Indeed there is plenty to condemn.

Altogether too many religions sects of both major and minor religions, despite verbally professing a desire for peace and justice in the world, are actually pro-war, pro-homicide and pro-violence in practice (or they may be silent on the subject, which is, according to moral theology, the same as being pro-violence).

Obvious examples include those portions of the three major war-justifying religions of the world: fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity.

I use the term fundamentalist in the sense that the religious person, who ascribes to a fundamentalist point of view, believes, among other dogmatic belief, that their scriptures are inerrant and thus they can find passages in their holy books that justify homicidal violence against their perceived or fingered enemies, while simultaneously ignoring the numerous contradictory passages that forbid violence and homicide and instead prescribe love, hospitality, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, January 25 @ 19:52:44 EST (899 reads)
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 Occupy: Occupy Interfaith Celebration in Liberty Square

24 Hour “Occupy Christmas” Prayer Vigil, Sharing of Food, Poetry, Music

Press Release from: occupywallst.org

Several occupy movement faith groups will be hosting an interfaith gathering, inviting people of all cultures and religious beliefs to come and celebrate together. December 25 marks the 100th day of Occupy Wall Street.

“We are taught to close our doors and retract into the nuclear family, into our faith groups, into our nationalism, “ said Atiq Zabinski of OWS. “Lets do something truly revolutionary and celebrate, meditate, pray, play, and eat together!"

SCHEDULE: December 25th starting at 12 AM-- a midnight service led by a minister from Judson Church will lead into a prayer vigil beginning at 2 AM, with breakfast served at 9 AM, followed by performances. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, December 24 @ 12:57:01 EST (829 reads)
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 Opinion: The "Anti-Christ" Came Long Ago!

And untold millions throughout the world have suffered and died, and continue to do so, ever since!

By Sherlyn Meinz

What? Perhaps you are thinking: How can that be, how did I miss it? I find myself wondering about that too! But, I ask you: What could be more Anti-Jesus (or Anti-Christ) than unending wars, killing for "God", torture, hate, bullying, or destroying countries while calling it "help"! Was Jesus' message "Love your enemies" an approval to make war on anyone/everyone? Is it okay as long as they are a different color, religion, ancestry or if they just happen to have something you (or more likely the 1%) want - like land, oil, gold...?

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28)

Put your sword back in its place...for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. (Matt. 26:52)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matt. 5:9)

Have you heard the expression: "Out of the mouth of babes.." As young children "christians" were taught the truth: That Jesus was Love! It is only in later years that the oxymoron of "Onward Christian Soldiers" begins to come into play, a twisted idea using convoluted thinking that a "child" would not understand. ....

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, November 19 @ 16:16:57 EST (1020 reads)
(Read More... | 4096 bytes more | 1 comment | Opinion | Score: 5)

 Opinion: How To Define Christianity

Is it possible that our first theologian led us terribly astray?

By Howard Bess

Paul was Christianity’s first theologian. His writings make up about one half of the entire New Testament. He wrote before any of the four gospels were written. He set the standard for what is required to be a Christian. In the 10th chapter of his letter to the Romans he wrote these words. If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Being a Christian was for Paul a matter of head and heart. By his standard there is no amount of good deeds that can bring salvation. It is a matter of belief and belief only. There is no ritual that can make a person truly whole and a part of the family of God.

The standard set by Paul has been challenged but never successfully.

The content of what must be believed has been discussed and debated, but Paul’s standard of head and heart remains. Christian salvation comes by what a person believes, not by what a person does. Paul could not state his conviction more clearly. Head and heart. Paul set the standard, and it has always been the standard of Christianity. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, October 29 @ 17:17:50 EDT (926 reads)
(Read More... | 5784 bytes more | Comments? | Opinion | Score: 0)

 Opinion: On Further Reflection.....9/11

SpiritualityBy Howard Bess

I too looked at the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2011, with horror. No one needs to remind me of what happened on that day. I will not forget. I had not turned on the television set that morning. We received a phone call from our daughter about the plane that crashed into the first tower of the Trade Center. Quickly I turned on the television in time to watch in live time another plane assaulting the second tower. I could not believe what my eyes were reporting.

Over the next few hours the magnitude of the terrorist attack unfolded. The Pentagon! Yet another plane, apparently headed for the White House, crashed in Pennsylvania. The estimates of the number of people killed kept climbing. It took several days for the count to become accurate. Who did it? How did they do it? How could so many terrorists slip through the nation’s security systems?

I live more than 3,000 miles from the crime scenes. There is no way that I can claim to understand fully the pain and anger of those who lived near the crime scenes and who had family members, loved ones and neighbors who were killed. However, I, and every other American who loves our country, were horrified, angered, bewildered, and left wondering what might and should come next.

My religious convictions kicked into gear. Jesus from Nazareth, the one I call Lord and the Christ of God, made some very plain and clear statements. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, September 17 @ 22:50:53 EDT (1079 reads)
(Read More... | 5554 bytes more | Comments? | Opinion | Score: 0)

 Politics: The Cult of Death

Spiritualityby: William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. - Matthew 25:40 (King James)

Trying to figure out what this whole "Tea Party" phenomenon is all about is a lot like trying to peer into the bottom of a muddy pool. The "mainstream" news media has accepted them as a legitimate, powerful force in American politics, as evidenced by CNN's so-called "Tea Party Debate" for the Republican presidential candidates on Monday night. A group that did not exist three years ago suddenly has enough clout to rate a television banner and a chunk of prime-time coverage.

But who are these people, really?

Clearly, they are made up of what used to be quaintly called the "GOP base." In large part, they are the people who voted for George W. Bush twice, and would have happily pulled the lever for him a third time had he been on the ballot in 2008. They struggled mightily with John McCain's nomination in 2008, thanks to McCain's occasional political heresies against Mr. Bush, and their reticence to get behind McCain is a sizeable part of the explanation for why his campaign chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, September 13 @ 16:48:44 EDT (901 reads)
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 Opinion: The Sixties Made Me Do It

What is it about confession that the Catholic hierarchy can't seem to grasp?

By Jim Hightower

I try to avoid religious commentary, but — Good God! What is it about confession that the Catholic hierarchy can't seem to grasp?

The grotesque epidemic of priestly pedophilia that has roiled the church has been under assessment in a five-year, $2-million study commissioned by our country's Catholic bishops. At long last, the report is out, but not the truth. Instead, the panel concludes that this horror is not the fault of the church, nor even of the abusive priests. Rather — cue the heavenly music — the sixties made them do it.

Yes, it's the Woodstock defense. The diabolical theory of this study is that "social chaos" created by the tie-dyed sexual revolution of the 1960s so discombobulated otherwise chaste and honorable men that they used their religious authority to rape 10-year-olds and teenagers. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, June 08 @ 21:52:24 EDT (998 reads)
(Read More... | 2767 bytes more | Comments? | Opinion | Score: 0)

 History/Culture: What Happened To Jesus In His Last Week?

SpiritualityBy Howard Bess

Among Christians there are special celebrations for key events. Palm Sunday celebrates the entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. Maunday Thursday is a solemn replay of his last meal with his disciples. Good Friday takes us through his mock trial and his death of horror on a Roman Cross. Easter is the Christians’ triumphant celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

There is a missing piece. The incident that gives sense to the week of activities is the incident in the temple. Tradition says that the incident was a ceremonial cleansing of the temple of its commercial enterprises. Tradition says that those in charge of the temple had turned a house of worship into a commercial enterprise. Jesus disrupted the commercial operation by upsetting the tables where the temple lackeys sold required animals for sacrifice.

Modern scholarship is putting an emphasis on understanding this historical incident in context. The first piece is the temple itself.

Herod the Great was an ambitious king, who was appointed by Rome’s Caesar to rule Palestine. Herod was of mixed racial background and claimed some Jewish blood. He wanted to be known as King of the Jews, but acceptance by the Jews was difficult to attain. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, April 23 @ 17:11:29 EDT (2096 reads)
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 History/Culture: The Power of Underlying Principles

SpiritualityBy Howard Bess

We Americans are observing the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War between the States, North and South. During the past week I watched major portions of Ken Burns’ documentary about the most vicious war in the history of the United States. At one point I had to hit the off button. I could not handle the slaughter.

Some years back I did some tracing of my family history. My great-great-great grandfather and his brother moved from North Carolina to Southeastern Missouri. The great grandfather of my grandfather and his family became abolitionists. His brother became a slave owner. When I traced down the records of Bolinger County, I realized the awful truth. Cousins were killing one another in that awful war.

We now have more and better historians in America than ever before. The Civil War’s 150th anniversary has provided historians the opportunity to come center stage. The prime issue that is being debated is the cause of the war. Incredibly a majority of Americans believe the war was fought over the issue of state’s rights. Nothing could be more wrong. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, April 16 @ 18:47:33 EDT (1125 reads)
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Tuesday, March 22
· War's Corruption of Christianity
Saturday, February 26
· Prophets Speak Unwelcomed Truth
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· Gnostic Apologetics 101, pt 1
Friday, January 28
· Pre-catholic (c50-c150 CE) Christian theology
Saturday, November 20
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Thursday, October 07
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Saturday, September 18
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Tuesday, August 31
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Tuesday, August 24
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Wednesday, August 18
· A "Mosque" Should Be Built at Ground Zero
Saturday, July 31
· Which Parts of Jesus Teaching Should We Believe?
Wednesday, July 14
· Who Will Speak Up For The Expendables?
Saturday, June 12
· Revelation in the 21st Century
Friday, June 04
· Jesus gave greatness a different meaning
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Saturday, April 10
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