Expensive Sticks and Holy Stones
There has been a lot of trouble comin' every day lately. Much of this trouble comes from those who pray, and some of us are getting more than a little tired of it. Take this author, for example:
Perhaps itís time for the president to put an end to the notion being propounded by ďChristianĒ supporters that those who oppose his political positions are not only less likely to receive the endorsement of the Supreme Being when the time comes but also may be in league with the forces of darkness.
The essence of Christianity is told to us in the Garden of Eden history. The fruit that was forbidden was on the Tree of Knowledge. The subtext is, All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on.
You could be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your fucking mouth shut and hadn't asked any questions.
- Frank Zappa, interview, Playboy, May 2, 1993
Just one word from George W. Bush, beyond the few he has uttered so far, might cause the zealots to back off their outrageously ignorant contention that opposition, for instance, to Republican efforts to end the filibuster of the presidentís judicial nominees equates to a lack of faith in the Almighty Ė that Christians who support Democrats arenít really Christians at all. The fight over the filibuster, which Republicans used to their own benefit over the 40 years when they were the minority, is purely a political fight and has nothing to do with religion.
True, members of any number of religious orders may wish to see certain judges installed on the federal bench and disagree with the decisions made by still others. But to contend that those who disagree with them are less faithful is pure poppycock and it is dangerously fractious to the body politic.
To his credit, Bush has said he doesnít feel that way. But he needs to do so in no uncertain terms. He must clear up once and for all any misconception and make it clear that he understands, as all his supporters should, that his values and theirs arenít always the same as those of others who may in their own way be every bit as religiously faithful or more so.
This country was founded on religious freedom and it is enforced in a Constitution that prohibits the government from establishing or interfering with any particular variety.
But Bu$hCo supporters are choosing to ignore that salient fact:
A North Carolina Baptist pastor tells his congregation that those who donít agree with Bush arenít welcome. Nine church members are voted out and 40 some others resign in protest. A spokesman for the stateís Baptist Convention reportedly excuses this silly outrage as a local matter and the pastor has since resigned.
As a matter of fact, the Baptists, as are any number of other Protestant religions these days, are split wide open over political preferences based on liberal or conservative labels.
To paraphrase Will Rogers, they donít actually seem to belong to any organized religion. One can only wonder how the North Carolina pastor handles it when a husband agrees with him but a wife doesnít or vice versa. It makes for an interesting home life.
Then there is the Texas Baptist minister who has formed the ďPatriot PastorsĒ to support conservative positions generally and his old friend, House Republican leader Tom DeLay, specifically. According to reports, whenever Senate Republicans seem to be wavering in their efforts to do away with the filibuster on judgeships, his troops spring into action to apply the pressure to keep them at it.
Ironically, in the old days, an organization with the word ďPatriotĒ in its title would automatically have been fair game for investigation by J. Edgar Hooverís communist hunters.
The spread of religious activism has even invaded such purely governmental institutions as the Air Force Academy, where some evangelical Christian faculty and coaches have become overly enthusiastic enough to provoke an investigation. Federal academies necessarily must be blind to any specific religion and their varying colors. Their doors are open to everyone, from atheists to worshippers of Zeus, and they are assured of going about their studies without any particular metaphysical pressure.
There is nothing new about efforts to mix religion with politics. Christian conservatives clearly got out the vote for Bush and they deserve to be heard, but only in tones that donít challenge the sincerity and piety of those who disagree with them. Any other way poisons the political atmosphere and threatens to weaken the time-tested constitutional separation of church and state. The president needs to warn off those who donít understand this.
That would include the Ku Klux Klan, whose members often claim to be Christians, and who abuse the main symbol of Christianity:
DURHAM, N.C. - Three large crosses were burned in separate spots around the city during a span of just over an hour, and yellow fliers with Ku Klux Klan sayings were found at one location, police said. Cross burnings have been associated with the Ku Klux Klan since the early 20th century. The first known cross burning occurred when a Georgia mob celebrated a lynching, according to the high court decision.
The cross burnings Wednesday night marked the first time in recent memory that one of the South's most notorious symbols of racial hatred has been seen in the city. "At this day and time, I thought we'd be beyond that," said Mayor Bill Bell. "People do things for different reasons, and I don't have the slightest idea why anyone would do this." Bell said he couldn't recall a cross burning in Durham since he arrived in 1968. He said his office had not received any correspondence suggesting someone might target the city with cross burnings.
Burning a cross without the permission of the property owner is a misdemeanor in North Carolina. However, the
U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that, under the First Amendment, cross burning could be barred only when done with the intent to intimidate.
Above I linked to the minister who fired his congregation. This post wouldn't be complete if I didn't include this article about a 'Christian' congregation firing its minister for acting like a Christian:
"Gay and lesbian Christians are no different than the rest of us," the Rev. Jeff Falter wrote in a Feb. 26 article. "They deserve full equality in the church and in society, for they are my brothers and sisters, people for whom Christ died."
The congregation of Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church in Elkins, W.Va., has voted 100-72 on Sunday to request that the Presbytery of West Virginia dismiss Falter effective next Wednesday after he wrote a column for the local daily, the Inter-Mountain, supporting gay rights.
Bu$hCo constantly decries activism by judges, but that complaint only applies if the judge is not acting in accord with fundamentalist Christian principles. It's OK to use the law to force someone NOT to teach their children their non-Christian religion!
Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs
Father appeals order in divorce decree that prevents couple from exposing son to Wicca.
An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.
Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show.
I think you should leave it up to the parent, because not all parents want to keep their children totally ignorant.
- Frank Zappa, in response to a question from Senator Hollings
Even The US Military Recognizes It!
Even the U.S. military accommodates Wiccans and educates chaplains about their beliefs, said Lawrence W. Snyder, an associate professor of religious studies at Western Kentucky University. "The federal government has given Wiccans protection under the First Amendment," Snyder said. "Unless this judge has some very specific information about activities involving the child that are harmful, the law is not on his side."
"When they read the order to me, I said, 'You've got to be kidding,' " said Alisa G. Cohen, an Indianapolis attorney representing Jones. "Didn't the judge get the memo that it's not up to him what constitutes a valid religion?"
Indiana law generally allows parents who are awarded physical custody of children to determine their religious training; courts step in only when the children's physical or emotional health would be endangered.
Getting the judge's religious restriction lifted should be a slam-dunk, said David Orentlicher, an Indiana University law professor and Democratic state representative from Indianapolis. "That's blatantly unconstitutional," Orentlicher said. "Obviously, the judge can order them not to expose the child to drugs or other inappropriate conduct, but it sounds like this order was confusing or could be misconstrued."
The ICLU and Jones assert the judge's order tramples on the parents' constitutional right to expose their son to a religion of their choice. Both say the court failed to explain how exposing the boy to Wicca's beliefs and practices would harm him. Jones and the ICLU also argue the order is so vague that it could lead to Jones being found in contempt and losing custody of his son.
The parents' Wiccan beliefs came to Bradford's attention in a confidential report prepared by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which provides recommendations to the court on child custody and visitation rights. Jones' son attends a local Catholic school. "There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones' lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school. . . . Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages," the bureau said in its report. But Jones, 37, Indianapolis, disputes the bureau's findings, saying he attended Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis as a non-Christian.
My best advice to anyone who wants to raise a happy, mentally healthy child is: Keep him or her as far away from a church as you can.
- Frank Zappa
At times, divorcing parents might battle in the courts over the religion of their children. But Kenneth J. Falk, the ICLU's legal director, said he knows of no such order issued before by an Indiana court. He said his research also did not turn up such a case nationally.
"Religion comes up most frequently when there are disputes between the parents. There are lots of cases where a mom and dad are of different faiths, and they're having a tug of war over the kids," Falk said.
Jones has brought the case before the Indiana Court of Appeals, with help from the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. They filed their request for the appeals court to strike the one-paragraph clause in January. "This was done without either of us requesting it and at the judge's whim," said Jones, who has organized Pagan Pride Day events in Indianapolis. "It is upsetting to our son that he cannot celebrate holidays with us, including Yule, which is winter solstice, and Ostara, which is the spring equinox."
Just a side note here: some claim Ostara is the ancestor of the word 'Easter' - THE Holy Day of Christianity.
But I digress.
What is Wicca?
Wicca is not a centralized religion but a belief system observed by 50,000 Americans that is recognized by reference texts such as the U.S. Army Chaplain's Handbook.
Wicca is related to European tribal nature worship. Wiccans regard living things as sacred and often show a concern for the environment. They do not worship Satan, but some cast "spells." Some worship in the nude as a sign of attunement with nature. The core value of Wicca states, "As it harm none, do what you will."
Some people have preconceived notions about Wicca, which has some rituals involving nudity, but mostly would be inoffensive to children, said Philip Goff, director of the Center for the Study of Religion & American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. "Wiccans use the language of witchcraft, but it has a different meaning to them," Goff said. "Their practices tend to be rather pacifistic. They tend to revolve around the old pagan holidays. There's not really a church of Wicca. Practices vary from region to region."
Jones said he does not consider himself a witch or practice anything resembling witchcraft. As Wiccans, the boy's parents believe in nature-based deities and engage in worship rituals that include guided meditation that Jones says improved his son's concentration. Wicca "is an understanding that we're all connected, and respecting that," said Jones, who is a computer Web designer.
During the divorce, he told a court official that Wiccans are not devil worshippers. And he said he does not practice a form of Wicca that involves nudity. "I celebrate life as a duality. There's a male and female force to everything," Jones said. "I feel the Earth is a living creature.
"The language and concepts contained herein are guaranteed not to cause eternal torment in the place where the guy with the horns and pointed stick conducts his business."
- Frank Zappa
They are also in the process of creating a new weapon system - one they have dubbed "Rods from God":
Jerry Pournelle, a science writer and chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy, came up with the idea, which he originally named "Thor" after the Norse god of thunder.
I'm sure that our current regime is far too Christian to allow the use of that pagan name for a weapon system created under their watch. They also wouldn't have allowed the usage of the names Nike, Ajax, Zeus, Hercules, Poseidon, ... that the military often used in the past.
But I digress.
Colloquially called "Rods from God," this weapon would consist of orbiting platforms stocked with tungsten rods perhaps 20 feet long and one foot in diameter that could be satellite-guided to targets anywhere on Earth within minutes.
Accurate within about 25 feet, they would strike at speeds upwards of 12,000 feet per second, enough to destroy even hardened bunkers several stories underground. No explosives would be needed. The speed and weight of the rods would lend them all the force they need.
To drag you back to your basic high school physics, the destructive force (F) would equal mass (m) times acceleration (a), or the speed at which the rod is travelling. I'll return to this in a moment.
First we need to see why they are using tungsten, a pricy metal which is currently trading at record levels: $290 per metric tonne unit, a measure equal to a hundredth of a tonne (approximately 22 pounds). Thus, tungsten is about $29 per kilo.
The word "tungsten" literarally means "a substance of high density", and is derived from the Swedish language, "tung", meaning "heavy," and "sten", meaning "stone." The name is appropriate as Tungsten is a metal with one of the highest densities. In fact, tungsten is 1.7 times heavier than lead. Only gold, platinum, and a few other rare and expensive metals have a similar density.
And they happen to be a whole lot more expensive!
Coincidently, tungsten has been used by NASCAR for the metal roll cage and as frame ballast to lower the center of gravity of the race car.
NASCAR - that figures!
Tungsten is completely non-toxic and environmentally friendly so it is gaining increased use in weighting applications where lead is not appropriate.
NOW Bu$hCo militarists are getting environmentally friendly???
Tungsten Cubes are 1/4" cubes of solid tungsten. Your 4 ounce shipment of Tungsten Cubes will contain 30 to 32 cubes.
Taking the simplest math option, 1 1/4" cube of tungsten would equal 1/8 of an ounce. Thus, these 'God-rods' 20'x1' would have to weigh about 1130 pounds, or approximately 500 kilos (Trust me - the math would take a while to go through, and I know most of you are already bored by the amount of detail I've already used!).
Thus, the destructive force of this weapon would be equal to (saving you the gory details of the conversion) over one ton of explosives.
This principle was applied in Iraq to destroy tanks that Saddam's forces shielded near mosques, schools or hospitals. U.S. aviators used concrete practice bombs.
Taxpayers! Are we not spending far too much money for the Mo$t Expen$ive Oil-Pirate Military On Earth to be going back to throwing expensive (tungsten) sticks (These 'God-rods' would cost about $15,000 each) and (concrete) stones as weapons?
What will they be launching next, Trojan rabbits?
It's getting to be insane enough to drive one to religion!
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