The rapture index fell by one point to 155 this week. Increases in oil prices were offset by ... the lack of volcanoes and droughts? Something, I'm not sure. Anyone, we're hurtling toward the apocalypse at a slightly moderated pace. Good news for everyone who hopes to finish the Harry Potter series before J.K. Rowling and her fans are cast into the lake of fire.
Last week we discussed the assertion that American schools are chock-a-block full of teachers poised to rape their students. Agape ran with the story. It's stories like that that put stories like this in focus:
A public school superintendent in South Dakota says he wants to dispel the notion that all public schools are harmful to children. Christian administrator Dr. Gary Harms contends that many public schools do not fit the description of some liberal education institutions on the east and west coasts and in some urban areas.
Harms, a school superintendent in Aberdeen, South Dakota, believes a strong Christian influence remains in many school districts in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Kansas, and down through the Bible Belt. As evidence of that influence in his district, he notes, at least 11 of 19 songs performed at a local high school's spring concert had their roots in the church.
Where on earth would Agape readers get the idea that public schools are harmful to children?
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is a pure political hack. He raises money and gets out votes, nothing more, nothing less. He usually sticks to religious issues, but he's not afraid to push his flock on any Republican issue. On Thursday he was scolding Elliot Spitzer for support stem cell research:
New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer (D) famously runs down every hint of consumer fraud. But he doesn't apply this standard to "snake oil" claims made for stem cells taken from human embryos. A Long Island doctor, Jon R. Cohen, said embryonic stem cell experiments would "revolutionize" medicine "a thousand-fold" more than antibiotics. Despite the fact that embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) has not been used in a single treatment, Spitzer wants to spend $1 billion of public funds on embryonic stem cells.
Do people really buy this stuff? First, you research the idea. Second, you apply the research to treatments. Humankind spent centuries trying to fly before the Wright brothers got off the ground. Early attempts were often spectacularly bad. Once the engineering problems were resolved, flight took off in a big way.
Stem cell research is at least something of a "values" issue, at least as Perkins defines "values". In the same missive, he strayed from values directly into spin:
"Nothing is certain except death and taxes," said Ben Franklin. We're celebrating that electrifying genius' 300th birthday this year. Why not honor Ben by eliminating the death tax? The House passed a repeal of the death tax one year ago today, but the Senate has yet to act. They should give this onerous tax a proper burial. Speaking of money, the federal government set a new record in February--for spending, a record breaking $250 billion.
Again, do people really by this stuff? What's the FRC doing pimping tax policy, anyway? The estate tax affects fewer families than extending the FMLA to astronauts in orbit. Perkins goes on to scold Congressional spending, even mentioning the GOP. But to advocate another tax cut for the wealthiest Americans at a time of enormous budget deficits is bad fiscal policy, for one, and bad for the families Perkins purports to champion, for two.
We've got one more example of Tony Perkins's slavish commitment to the GOP. Jambo reminded us that Leviticus demands respect for immigrants:
When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt.
Perkins loves Leviticus. It's full of admonitions and recriminations and wonderful stuff about how bad gay people are. So why does Perkins abuse Woody Guthrie so?
This Land Is Your Land
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of D.C. yesterday as coordinated protests took place across the country against Congress' efforts to address illegal immigration. "La Marcha" as it was called was a rally for "immigration rights." It's hard to maintain that anyone has a right to violate U.S. laws. Although their signs and speeches were mostly in Spanish, crowds were non-violent and most took care not to antagonize law-abiding Americans by waving Mexican flags in their faces. Our FRC survey shows that you are very concerned about the illegal immigration issue. ...By a lop-sided margin of 91 to 9 percent, our survey respondents said illegal immigrants should be treated humanely but should be detected, arrested, and returned to their country of origin. Our survey respondents also agreed (78 percent) that official election ballots should be printed in English only. I completely agree. Party activists used yesterday's crowds to register voters. Knowing that thousands of rally participants are illegally in the U.S., these activists are deliberately setting up election day challenges. Then, of course, they will scream racism. I leave it to your imagination which party that was.
Sweet Jeebus. How does the song go?
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me
As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no trespassin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!
I'm not an expert, but something tells me Woody Guthrie would've been on the side of the immigrants. I don't know if you could pervert the song further than what Perkins has done.
Post Script: Agape reports there's a movement to boycott Catholic parishes that aide illegal immigrants:
According to Susan Tully of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), many Roman Catholics are unhappy with their church leaders who, like Mahony, advocate for illegal aliens. "I am a Catholic, and there's a whole bunch of us who are calling for a boycott of the Catholic Church," she says.
"In other words," Tully explains, "we're telling other Catholics, 'If you want to go to church to receive communion and a service or whatever, that would be fine, but do not financially support [the church]." And as for Cardinal Mahony, she contends, it is important for church members to remember what is truly motivating him.
Agape reports on McCain's efforts to reach out to Republican primary voters:
There is more fallout over Rev. Jerry Falwell's decision to invite Senator John McCain to speak at a graduation ceremony at Liberty University next month. McCain, who has voted against an amendment to protect traditional marriage and is responsible for campaign ad laws that have hurt Christian organizations, seems an unlikely speaker for a conservative, evangelical university. Cliff Kincaid, editor of Accuracy in Media, says the Arizona senator is not a friend of family advocates. "He has achieved a reputation as a maverick, as somebody willing to buck the Republican Party," Kincade says. "In the past he has said some very unkind things about prominent members of the Christian conservative movement."
They're never going to like you, John. Give it up. You're embarrasing yourself.
No, not slavery, per se, but Agape is promoting the plight of a 15 year old South Carolinian who wants to wear clothes that include the Confederate flag:
A South Carolina high school is being sued for punishing a 15-year-old student when she tried to wear a T-shirt bearing a small Confederate flag. According to sophomore Candace Hardwick, officials at Latta High School actually ordered the teen to change her shirt, turn it inside out, or else cover the flag image.
Odd, isn't it, that the same people who get upset if they see Mexican flags at an immigration rally want to defend the right to wear a Confederate flag to school.
There's been some research suggesting that Jesus walked on water by walking on ice just below the surface of the water. The local fishers of men, the theory goes, were baffled by this "melting" of "ice". Or something. The Rev. Mark Creech looks at the issue differently:
"Nof's study found that a period of cooler temperatures in the area between 1,500 and 2,600 years ago could have included the decades in which Jesus lived. A drop in temperature below freezing could have caused ice -- thick enough to support a human -- to form on the surface of the freshwater lake near the western shore ... it might have been nearly impossible for distant observers to see a piece of floating ice surrounded by water."
It's hard to believe any such theories are ever taken seriously. Yet they often are. Why? Why is it so incredibly hard for some to believe the obvious -- a miracle took place?
Why is it hard to believe in miracles? I don't know, but the Bible is full of examples of a seemingly impossible lack of faith. Jesus resurrects 2 or 3 people, yet his disciples aren't willing to believe he's the resurrected Son of God -- I'm looking at you, Thomas. Moses unleashes a world of hurt on the Egyptians, parts the Red Sea, leads the Israelites to freedom, then goes up Mount Ararat. Forty days later he comes down and his flock is already worshiping a new god. Five hundred years in slavery, but they kept their faith. Forty days without Moses and they change their minds. Go figure.
Maybe it's human nature to lose faith so quickly -- but maybe not. I still think Brett Favre is good enough to win a Super Bowl, if he had enough talent surrounding him. Tell me that's not blind faith.