Love, Don’t Fear God

Philosophy starts (and one may effectively joke ends) with a question.  Here’s one.  Why fear God?  Mike writes:

The total lack of the fear of God is what marks the ungodly. (Romans 3:18)

I’d argue that it is a transpersonal love of God and all sentient beings which marks the godly.  If it says anything, then the fear of God is the mark of the controlled.  It is control that mars organized religion.  Why was there such a backlash against The Golden Compass and The DaVinci Code?  Because both books where at their core about the control exerted by the Church.  Regarding the Golden Compass and the His Dark Materials Trilogy, Amanda (Pandagon) observes (warning, rest of review contains major spoilers):

the concept of original sin was not sexualized by accident, but instead was a tool to poison people’s intimate relationships with misogyny and shame , and cripple our collective development into better people.

You see, if one’s relationship with God is one of fear, then one acts like a child with an authoritarian teacher.  A Matilda in a Miss Trunchbull’s class.  The problem for organized religion is that God is not marred by imperfections like hate, jealously, or pettiness.  And when we step outside the confines of organized religion, and re-affirm our natural relationship to God is one of love, we become enamored of a life in which all the rich promise of religion is realized without the stunted self expression that supposedly must accompany it.  We find that the God described in scripture is at odds with the notion of a perfect being, and find that the subtle warmth in the depths of our being has been inviting us inward all along.  We leave Miss Trunchbull a quivering mess of harmless anger, and walk into Miss Honey’s waiting arms.

So don’t fear God.  God is not some thundering mountain deity who will give crops or withhold rains if we live outside narrow rules of conduct.  Humans make such rules.  God is an eternal fountain of love and light, the inner teacher who always has time to nurture, guide and comfort.

Fear of God speaks in religion’s political tongue.  Love of God is our shared language.

As far as how we should conduct ourselves, how cynical must we be to require fear of heavenly punishment to behave correctly?  We know how to behave justly, and when we are truly lost, it is not a fear of God that will guide us.  It is a love without limit.

Why Cigna’s Stance is Suspect

Cigna has apparently decided to stand by their decision to override her doctors and deny a teenager a vital liver transplant.  The teenager later died.

Initially, they reversed course at the very last minute.  It was too late by that point to save the girl.  Now they are saying their decision was the correct one:

Philadelphia-based Cigna HealthCare has a record of approving coverage for more than 90% of all transplants requested by its members, as well as more than 90% of the liver transplants, company President David Cordani said in a memo addressed to employees and distributed to members of the media.

Nataline Sarkisyan’s request was evaluated on an expedited basis using “evidence-based guidelines published by independent physician and medical organizations, as well as expert scientific journals,” Cordani said.

Funny how the doctors charged with her care thought she should get the transplant, and the bean counters using “evidence based guidelines” and “expert scientific journals” charmingly decided on denying the costly procedure.

What do we expected when we mix private corporations with public health care?  Profit at the cost of human life is an extreme, the kind of theoretical example one brings into a debate to make a point.  Not with the expectation one might come face to face with such a callous disregard for human life.  Cigna President David, by making the denial of care an official point, has made the cold, greedy nature of himself and Cigna blazingly apparent to the world.

And this is the story we heard about.  How many other patients were denied coverage, didn’t protest, and simply died?  How many were denied procedures, and continue to live with debilitating medical problems?   All for Cigna’s profit.

Removing “for profit” from Health Care, and recognizing Health Care coverage as a fundamental human right, is one of the cornerstone issues facing humanity.  For what cynical joke is the “right to life” if that right can be denied to balance a spreadsheet?

J Edgar Hoover and Giuliani

Via NewsCat, this set off some alarms:

Over the holidays there was a little noticed story published about recently declassified papers showing that in July 1950, only a few days after the beginning of the Korean War, J. Edgar Hoover wanted President Truman to round up and detain 12,000 American citizens.

Who was he targeting?  Does anyone want to be it was suspected communists?  Think of how close we came in recent history to the mass arrest of American citizens on the basis of political beliefs.

Now, couple that with two particular notes about Rudy Giuliani:

If elected Giuliani would extend the already power mad style of the Bush administration to new levels. Glenn Greenwald has the scoop:

Over the weekend, it was revealed by National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru that Rudy Giuliani believes that, as President, he would have the power to imprison American citizens without any sort of review of any kind, and Giuliani stated he hoped to exercise that power only “infrequently”

NYTimes:

Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

Some say history repeats itself.  Combine a Giuliani Presidency with that history and the rising tide in eliminationist rhetoric, and we have an instant recipe for an oppressive tyranny on a massively tragic scale.  This time there would be no President to turn down J Edgar Giuliani’s request.  Giuliani would be the President.  A President who’s view of executive power extends ever further than George W Bush.

Republicans: Eliminating Muslims

Its always startling when a nasty bout of hate breaks out close to home. There’s a lot of nastiness in Herndon, VA. I was living in Reston when this joyful little gathering took place. So again I was startled when I came across this item over at Feministe (Jill):

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That’s a short metro ride away. The post itself is about the comments by Rudy’s Aide, suggesting we need to “get rid of” Muslims. Jill goes into a bit more depth:

Deady later clarified:

“When I say get rid of them, I wasn’t necessarily referring to genocide. What I was referring to is, stand up to them every time they stick up their heads and attack us. We can’t afford to say, `We’ll try diplomacy.’ They don’t respond to it. If you look into Islamic tradition, a treaty is only good for five years. We’re not dealing with a rational mindset here. We’re dealing with madmen.”

“I wasn’t necessarily referring to genocide?” That may be more telling than the original comment.

Indeed. I hadn’t caught the clarification. It is worse than the original comment, all the more so in that its unfolding in a responsibility vacuum on the part of Giuliani.

Via Jill, Ali continues:

I will leave it to each individual to determine whether the GOP’s “gaffes” are just that, or that they are part of a sustained campaign to not only lose as many American-Muslim votes as possible (you guys are succeeding!), but to further demonize Islam in order to perpetuate some kind of religious standoff consistent with Tim Lahaye’s vision.

I think we have two things going on here. The first is that the Republican field is rife with riffs on the original Southern Strategy. We see it with Huckabee’s winks and nods to hardline evangelical Christians and anti-immigrant rants, Ron Paul’s winks to the white supremacist set, and Rudy’s Islamophobe nods.

The second is a rising tide of eliminationist rhetoric on the right, targeting Women, Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Homosexuals, and of course, Liberals. Sometimes this speech is hidden, as in the references to “New York/Hollywood liberals” (Jews) or “San Francisco liberals” (Homosexuals). And sometimes it is right out in the open, as is the case with the Georgetown poster up above targeting Muslims. In each case, the right wing in the country is working its base into a violent frenzy. All of this virulent hate seeping into and around the mainstream is normalizing notions of inferiority and “otherness”, as well as the appropriateness of violent reactions.

We cannot stand silently by while this tide of hatred and violence rises.

UPDATE: Just a note, the poster is satirical (the actual poster, which you can see here, is arguably worse than the satire (which adheres nicely to Tom Tomorrow’s rule of right wing reality).)

Gay Rights Rhetoric

Daisy at Our Descent Into Madness has hit upon a rhetorical tactic I think can be extended to many liberal positions.  (Emphasis mine):

If he’s going to claim to support equality, he should support full equality. If he’s not going to that — and he doesn’t seem about to — I’d like him to at least have the guts to look someone like me in the face and admit that when he talks about justice and equality, he is only partially including me.

Through the youtube debates, as well as the scripted political theater run by the major news networks under the same name, there are occasions where actual liberals slip in and are allowed to frame questions at our would be leaders.  I cannot think of a more savvy approach than to make that question an immediate confrontation, a bare soul to soul meeting wherein a candidate is trapped into responding to the humanity of the questioner.

Candidates who bow to religious bigotry against homosexuals, and that’s nearly all of them, have placed themselves in a weak position.  What a brilliant way to exploit that and strike deep into the illogical heart of inequality.

Web Hosting: Allowing Spam Blogs

This post is going to be stolen.  A while back I noticed an upsurge in splogs taking content off this site (thanks to Technorati, which doesn’t really filter them out of its stats).   So I decided to notify registrars and hosts (thanks to SlightlyShadySEO‘s comment):

Dynamic Dolphin: Report SpamGoDaddy:  Spam Abuse

MyDomain:  Spam

Note that for MyDomain, they actually forward your email onto the offender!

For splogs hosted by blogspot, flagging them so far doesn’t seem to result in any discernable effect.

This had mixed results.  GoDaddy seemed to have the most straightfoward process.  Some hosts appear to periodically check (or other folks report these spammers), as “this account has been suspended” would occasionally pop up on a splog in my Technorati reactions list.

So when a particular splog (fitfanatic) really went nuts with the culling, I decided to contact their host (HostGator).  The only recourse they allow is for one to file a DMCA complaint.  While I could technically do this due to the Creative Commons license I blog under, this would mean exposing my identity to the spammer.  Not ideal:

Owning a splog that does not include stolen content is not illegal, nor is it against our terms of service.   We do not judge the merits of the sites that host with us, merely the legality.  As such, the violation that we are looking at is the stolen content.

To handle stolen content, we use the process documented by the DMCA.

In other words, HostGator allows spam blogs.  Which leads to a few questions.  Should hosting terms of service always contain anti-spam measures?  If not, then bloggers who do not want their identity shared with a known spammer have zero recourse with regards to their content.  Should search engines and blog analysis sites create a blacklist for known splog hosts, and submit them to more intense filtering algorithms?

There is a clear difference in the caliber of the hosting companies out there.

Eliminationist Rudy Aide On the Rise of the Muslims

Greg Sargent puts it best:

This has already gotten some attention, but it deserves a lot more.

So what happened?  (Emphasis mine)

The Guardian of London is conducting video documentaries up in New Hampshire. And they did a segment on Rudy in which they got a very off-kilter quote about Muslims from a Rudy campaign official in the state. The Guardian identifies him as John Deady, the co-chair of state Veterans for Rudy.

Deady — and the key here is that he is a Rudy campaign official — says that Rudy should be our President because he has what it takes to tackle one of our “most difficult problems,” which he identifies as the “rise of the Muslims.” Deady adds that we need to “chase them back to their caves” or otherwise “get rid of them.”

At the moment, there is silence from the Giuliani campaign and the mass media.

Any chance the national press will see this as newsworthy?

The Rudy campaign didn’t immediately return a request for comment. You can watch the whole video from The Guardian here.

In addition to the media question, what I want to know is:  Will the Giuliani campaign condemn this, or will they let it quietly form a new southern strategy?