The Danger of Religious Tyranny
Today, religious fanatics and bigots like Rick Santorum or psychopathic opportunists seeking their backing, like Mitt Romney, are destroying this foundation for American liberty and democracy. Along with their incessant lying, which destroys political debate and the discussion of ideas on which democracy depends, they are also destroying the country by casting their arguments in very narrow terms, and then making those issues so central that compromise is impossible. Political discussion that can enlarge citizens’ understanding is replaced by self-righteous shrieking as we see in the falsely named “pro-life” movement that spreads death and suffering for real people while unctuously puffing about their devotion to zygotes. That their motives have nothing to do with life and everything to do with control and domination have been revealed for all but the most blind to see by their recent assaults against contraception and violence against women legislation, even to the point of permitting doctors to lie and occasionally prohibiting them from telling their patients the truth.
The requirement for a secular context within which citizens could make their case to other citizens is rejected as “anti-religious” when in fact it is pro-religious. In its place, they would install rule by privileged groups the worst members of which would rise to the top as genuine spiritual scum, something that we have observed happening whenever religion and politics become indistinguishable. Oppressing other views comes naturally to such people. Some of Santorum’s supporters have said as much, although others are more circumspect.
Either they rule us, or they seek to destroy the country. There is no third option. Under such circumstances the stakes of winning or losing rise to become unacceptably high. No one who values women’s freedom, be they man or woman, can afford to let these people rule us. No one who has any faith other than the most irrational and mindless reading of the Bible can afford to let them rule us either. Nor can anyone who has no faith. History is very clear where these people go when they have the power, and the graves of millions testify to their methods.
For the moment, right-wing Catholics are united with right-wing Southern Baptists, right-wing Pentecostals, and right-wing Mormons in a wholesale assault on America’s best traditions. Their political leaders, such as Santorum, have made it clear that forms of Christianity not like his are not really Christian. Given that they claim America is a “Christian” nation, it takes little imagination to realize what they would do to liberal Christians once they have consolidated power. Totalitarians of the right and left have always been clear as to what they would do, and their future victims have refused to believe them, until it was too late. Now we are facing a similar challenge.
The logic of their positions would turn them against one another after having gotten rid of the wrong sorts of liberal Christians, Pagans, and likely Jews. This is what Christianist totalitarians have always done since the Roman Empire. Today in America, it is as if the worst people from times that repeatedly drenched Europe in war and massacre have crawled like mindless zombies out from the mass graves of mutual religious slaughter to do it again. And most of these zombies are Republicans.
If they do not attain power, their alliance with a powerful element of the corporate oligarchy now dominating this country prevents any pushback against the power of wealth. The Southern Baptists in particular served to support Southern oligarchs against poor whites and blacks alike by splitting them and weakening their ability to see what they share in common. Now they are doing the same on a national scale. Their threat comes not only from what they want to do to the rest of us, but also from their efforts to divide the country to facilitate the rule of wealth.
Our road to safety and a more secure liberty requires calling out these demonic servants of a Sauron rather than a deity, and doing so at every opportunity. Very importantly, this includes as Americans taking back our history from their lies. Hopefully this column gives my readers plenty of truthful ammunition for doing so.
The Republicans think we are not watching them. Michigan now has what the Governor calls Financial Martial Law and no one reported it on the three news stations…wonder if they will face this autocratic objective: child laborers. Are we watching them? Not closely enough.
I do not understand a group of people who stupidly named themselves Tea Baggers. This is my problem with them. These underpaid folks, tea baggers, seem to want to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. If they have their way, our grandchildren will not have social security or medicare…they will have voucher systems to purchase insurance from large insurance corporations who will charge high prices. Tea Baggers are an American embarrassment. People who are manipulated by fear, scare me. They become mobs and as we have seen so far…this would be a mob who can’t spell straight.
Teabaggers want poor people to return to the social status of peasants while allowing the Corporate Feudal bosses to become richer. How did Americans come to such a mess? Prejudice and hate taught to us by the Republican party leaders.
In honor of the women of Athens, Greece, I am requesting that all 555 wives of our elected goverment officials stop sleeping with their husbands, if they do?
Tell them to forget sex, until your elected husbands stop screwing the rights of American women.
I am a very unlikely person to post the article below. As a child, I knelt on my knees each night before bedtime and my father led us in saying, “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is a habit, I have not broken. It is a memory I have always carried along life’s way. Still, it is rare that I ever desire to attend a protestant church. You could not drag me into a Catholic church or Baptist. They seriously do not like women.
I pray every day and I know they are heard, but church and religion are not part of my spirituality.
Still, in recent months I have seen so-called Christians lie, call others who are different names, and try to cloak themselves and other in a state of fear. Lately, Christians and their leaders haven’t been acting like they have good sense. But, this article in the Huffington Post caught my attention and reminded me of how Christians are supposed to be, a lot like socialists.
(RNS) John Dominic Crossan is arguably the world’s foremost scholar of the historical Jesus. Twenty-five years ago, Crossan co-founded the Jesus Seminar with Robert Funk, a group of mostly liberal scholars who decide on the historicity of the deeds and sayings of Jesus.
A former Roman Catholic priest and professor emeritus of religious studies at DePaul University, Crossan newest book — his 26th — looks at the Lord’s Prayer, or the Our Father. In The Greatest Prayer, Crossan argues that Christianity’s best-known invocation is misunderstood and undervalued in today’s society.
Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: You call the Lord’s Prayer Christianity’s “greatest prayer,” but also say it can be prayed by followers of all religions. Why would non-Christians recite it?
A: Any religion’s greatest prayers should be addressed to the whole world. If a prayer only speaks to you, that’s fine. But I would like to hear you speaking to all of us. The Lord’s Prayer is the greatest because it comes from the heart of Judaism and the lips of Christianity — but speaks to the conscience of the world.
Q: You also call it Christianity’s “strangest” prayer.
A: Ask a Christian what’s the most important things about Christianity, and see if you find those in the Lord’s Prayer. When Christians emphasize what’s most important for them, it’s usually not in the Lord’s Prayer, and they almost never mention that “give us this day our daily bread” means exactly that — that everyone has a right to the material basis of life. It’s “strange” in that there’s a huge discrepancy between what most people think Christianity is really about and what Jesus thinks Christianity is really about.
Q: The Lord’s Prayer addresses God as “Father.” Is that a turn-off for women?
A: It is, and they’re going to have to learn, as we all have to, what is meant by people who use a different culture than our own. Sheep and shepherds don’t do much for me, but I will allow ancient people the validity of their language.
When they say “Father,” I ask what that meant in the Mediterranean world, and it means “householder.” I accept the traditional term of “Father,” but I do not accept the patriarchal presuppositions. I say “Father” (but) I read “householder.” The most important point is that you understand what this metaphor stands for.
Q: Scholars have shown the Lord’s Prayer to come straight from the Jewish tradition. How did it become Christianity’s best-known prayer?
A: It is utterly, totally, fully Jewish. There’s nothing in there that’s particularly “Christian.” Do I think Jesus drilled his followers to learn the prayer as we have it in (the Gospels of) Matthew or Luke? I don’t think so, because I can’t find it in (the writings of) Paul. What I do find in Paul and (the Gospel of) Mark is the key word: “Abba” — the metaphor for God as householder. If you unpack that, everything else simply flows from it.
Q: What new light does all this shed on the historical Jesus?
A: If you had to summarize the historical Jesus, we are now down to a single word, almost an ecstatic proclamation: God is “Abba.” And God as householder is the way the ancient Jews and earliest Christians got their idea of how things should be run. They all knew what a well-run
household looked like, and they made God the Big Householder in the Sky. What appalled them was not poverty or riches, but the discrepancy between them, the inequality.
I don’t think the Bible would worry if everyone was poor or if everyone was rich. What appalls the Bible is, how could you have a household with some (members) getting far more than others, and others getting far less than they need?
Given America’s current climate, why hasn’t anyone said the Lord’s Prayer is a socialist prayer and we shouldn’t recite it?
A: I don’t think there’s much in the Our Father that isn’t in the Pledge of Allegiance, where we pledge ourselves to liberty and justice for all. If liberty and justice for all is not communism or socialism or liberalism, then the Bible is saying really not much more.
I read this on Salon.com today and thought the author, Elon James White wrote a humorous and correct essay. I believe that the word, socialism is a substitute word for prejudice. If you went to public schools, you participated in a socialistic program. Obama is not socialism…He has accomplished a lot since the dark days of Bush II. Americans can own all the guns they want, thanks to Obama. They can also carry guns into Starbucks and church. There is no reason for the National Rifle Association to be unhappy. Do you have your uzi, yet? Also, I see no reason a minimum wage worker should pay the same amount of taxes as rich people and corporations. I agree with White…there is evil afoot in this nation.
Here is a sample of what Elon James White wrote. Enjoy.
Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the other right-wing fear-mongers know what subject riles up the masses: Race.
When asked, “Where do you fall along the political spectrum,” I often answer, “I consider myself ‘anti-evil.’” When I see malicious attempts at hurting people I will often side with not hurting people. It’s weird, I know. I think stopping insurance companies from bankrupting families and denying healthcare is a good idea. I think maybe we shouldn’t racially profile Hispanics in order to deal with our immigration issue. Apparently this makes me a crazy socialist Nazi to some, but to me, I’m on the side of light.
I will continue fighting for what seems like obvious ways of helping: squashing stereotypes, speaking up against injustice, and, on occasion (read: all the time), mocking. If this was all playing out like some big-budget blockbuster movie my superpower would be sarcasm sprinkled with awesome snark. That’s how I cut down the forces that would rather marginalize my experiences and label me “caught up in race.” I will throw on my superhero hat, tilt it to the side, and happily tell someone to go fuck themselves for the betterment of society.
Making fun of evil is a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it, right?
How seriously can a person take the Tea Party? Their members have called me a Nazi Brownshirt because I am a liberal. Sharon Angle wants to rescind my social security and yours too. Boehner wants a forty-five, fifty, sixty-year olds to work until they are 70, while he plays golf and stays tanned. In truth Social Security is not in trouble. Especially if the US Government would repay all the loans they have taken out of Social Security finances. Another Republican wants to change the 14th amendment.
Both political parties are selling out to rich Corporations and their demanding rich shareholders. Fox News which obviously is short on researchers spreads lies across the world like a super-virus along with bloggers who have no conscience or merits. The Tea Party has become a spreading virus. It is time to fight evil and I commend Mr. White’s for his efforts. We need to stop being fearful and look at the truths.
Listen up, Tea Baggers, you are falling for a giant propaganda movement and you could turn out looking like a follower of the once powerful Senator McCaurthy. Rush, Newt, and other Repubs are the children of Lee Atwater. These people cannot play nice.
There is so much chatter about the oil explosion in the Gulf, but so little action. We do know now that possibly every Friday, Obama will walk the coast and talk to strangers. When he returns, nothing happens. We in the people watch media images of talking heads, oil-soaked birds, oiled crab and sick dolphins. I have not seen any action. So, I ask myself every morning, “Why doesn’t the government do something?”
Send the Navy, send in the Marines. Send the unemployed. Isn’t contaminating the world more important that wars and hate? There is nothing to be patient about…this is a tragedy of world proportions. If the oil globs are on Florida beaches today, tomorrow…the Islands of Novia Scotia, all too soon oil globs will reach “The Halls of Montezuma.”
What happened to the old American way of life, have we forgotten all that our parents and grandparents taught us? It used to be that each generation taught their children to stand up and claim their mistakes because it made us a better person. Now it is standard to blame problems on your neighbor’s political party. This is not the American way.
Our fathers and mothers once taught us the importance of respect for ourselves and others. Back in a time, “a handshake was as good as a contract and things were built just so.”
I grew up country. A farmer’s child. My parents grew up during the depression. My mother had to quit school and help run the house when her mother became too ill to care for her eight brothers and sisters. My father was the eldest son of five children. His father became ill and he took his place running the farm, this meant he quit school at sixteen. My father worked the farm until noon, Then he would eat dinner, shower, and change into a suit. He was circulation manager of the western counties. He never came home from work before 8 p.m.
I was raised around people who grew up during the depression and frought World War II. Many of them had not had the privilege to complete high school. If a job needed doing…their generation, and our grandparents got it done. They built America.
Why are we, the children of mighty forefathers standing dumbstruck passively watching the Gulf, the sea, and the oceans being poisoned.
Are we so separated from the ways of nature that instead of becoming a land of opportunities, America has become the land of the silent peasant watching the angry peasants. This is so sad because we all live on this one earth. In this time of change, instead of pulling apart, why aren’t we pulling together? Especially, at a time when we all are losing a way of life. Has anyone noticed that harm is done to the earth in our name?
Where are the farmers who could ship loads of hay? If hay is the answer will someone place it along the wetlands and retrieve it to save the day?
If Kevin Costner has spent millions funding a device that can separate oil water…why is it not in use now. But, the whole Gulf oil mess broke down along political parties. This at a time when Anerica’s resources are dwindling.
It is time to remember that America was shaped by people working together. We are the government. We are America.
Does anyone hear the individual voices of America, not anymore. We have done this to ourselves and we need to help each other not fight over Liberal or Conservative. Didn’t our ancestors want us to pull together for each other where there was trouble.
As fathers drive their boats across America’s rivers and lakes, remember all that is nature belong to the Eternal, the God of many names. It is up to us to keep America safe and clean. It is time to label ourselves Americans, roll up our sleeves, and throw away individual labels until our world is repaired. It is the American Way.
I own a cemetery and it is occupied by relatives. This might seem like a strange sort of investment holding, but there’s nothing untoward here. I had nothing to do with the demise of any of the relatives, and the cemetery is not in my backyard beneath the rose bushes. Instead, it is unmarked and obscured in deep woods. This dear piece of earth came to me through a quick claim. I was fortunate enough to be hired for a research project. I needed money. I certainly never had any intentions of acquiring said cemetery.
In the fall of 2002, I convinced a friend to hire me to research the history of the Riverbend community. Well, one thing led to another, and in the spring of 2003, I drove to the Gaston County Courthouse, gave the Clerk of Court the filing fee, signed my name on a deed and became the owner of an old and ancient graves. Through a curiously circuitous journey, I was led to these forgotten relatives.
During my history project, I interviewed everyone I could find who would sit and answer questions about Riverbend, including the peninsula historian, Calvin Hart. Calvin knew someone who had an old map of the peninsula. Another person came up with letters and photos of the old Henderson place, and the location of the Henderson ferry which took them across the river to one of the area’s first church, Hopedale on Beatties Ford Rd. I read the tombstones in the Lineberger Cemetery at the end of the peninsula. I spent days shuffling through the archives in the Lincoln County Museum.
I met cousins, grandparents, uncles, and aunts, most of who were dead. I read about ancestry that claims blood kin from Pocahontas and Norman Vikings. Family legend states that John Abernethy, one of the first pioneers to ford the Catawba, arrived from Virginia, and told that one of his grandmothers was Pocahontas. I read of a relative who died in a duel, another was appointed to a government office and when he was excused from the office, he refused to leave.
In Gaston County records there is a reference to an Abernethy family operating a ferry in 1764. This same ferry would be purchased in the next century by Richard Rozzelle, my great, great, and great-grandfather.
Among the early pioneers were Jacob Forney (arrived in 1752) followed by multitudes of new back-country settlers. Among the next wave were the families of Johnson, Mauney, Alexander, Abernethy, McCorkle, Cansler, Rhyne, Hoke, Lineberger, McLean, Howard, Reid, Reinhardt, Reep, Warlick, Chronicle, Dellinger and Ramsour. The Dutch pioneers arriving from Pennsylvania to settle along the Catawba were from the Palatinate Region of Germany. The Scots-Irish were peasant from the Plantation of Ulster.
It was in a conversation with a friend that sent me in search of a forgotten graveyard. I followed my instincts and parked along a country road one bright fall day…I entered the woods looking for a “supposed” cemetery. Leaves crunched beneath our footfalls. Unseen mourning doves called from the brush, periwinkle carpeted the ground, and the trees were thicker than rush-hour traffic. My feet were deep in leaves dropped by many fall seasons, it was quiet. It was spooky. I glanced into the trees one last time before turning back. Suddenly, I saw five tombstones standing among the trees.
These moss-covered slabs marked the final resting place of the first pioneer families to carve out hoe on the Riverbend Peninsula. More than one grave was sunken and most tombstones were broken, scattered, and in various states of disintegration.
Among the tombstones are all are proof of lives that are now long forgotten. James A. Henderson (b. 1796-d. April 18, 1888) rests here as does his wife, Linia Parr Abernethy (b. 1811-d. November 20, 1888). Beneath the fourth tombstone lies their daughter, Mary Adeline Craig, wife of S. W. Craig. Mary was born in 1831 and died April 20, 1855, one month after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Laura Elizabeth Craig.
James and Linia doubtless made many sad pilgrimages to this graveyard. They buried two sons, William Adolphus Henderson (b. 1842 d. 1862), James Lawson Henderson (b. 1839 d. 1864) and their granddaughter, Mary Laura Elizabeth Craig (b. March 5, 1855 d. 1868). Mary Laura Elizabeth was only thirteen at the time of her death. James and Linia Henderson carried on with the task of living for more than 20 years before they joined their children in the cemetery.
According to a letter written by James Abernethy Henderson on September 19, 1962, James Abernethy, one of Henderson’s ancestors, arrived in the Riverbend/South Forks area in the summer of 1769. He traveled to the area with his brother-in-law, Robert Abernethy, Jr. and Robert’s wife, Sarah Abernethy. Robert’s elderly parents were traveling with them as were his two brothers, David and Miles Abernethy, James was known in the family as Cousin James.
They crossed the river at Beatties Ford and settled on the western banks of the
Catawba River. The letter further states that James married Elizabeth Cox Abernethy and they were the parents of seven children. Among the children was a set of twins, Elizabeth and Mary who was nicknamed Polly.
Elizabeth married William Henderson. They had 10 children. Their first born child was James A. Henderson who rests by his wife, Linia Abernethy, daughter of Miles and Susan Paar Abernethy. Her sister, Mary (Polly) Abernethy married Richard Rozzelle and they had six children.
Richard and Mary Rozzelle settled on what became Old Plank Road and were neighbors of Anna Morrison, wife of Civil War legend Stonewall Jackson. Though the Jacksons lived in Virginia, Mrs. Jackson settled in the Charlotte area after the war.
The landscape changes, and decades pass, but as each generation births a new generation into their life’s journey to experience laughter, contentment, and tears; mortgages, weddings, and wars; ancestors are forgotten. If we do not know our history, our forefathers, if we erase history; how will we know who we are?
“Think of all that has happened here, on this earth. All the blood, hot and strong for living, pleasuring, that has soaked back into it.” William Faulkner, “Big Woods”
Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean
over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you,
you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.
There is unrest among the neighbors of Mountain Island Lake. Newcomers want to halt efforts to increase regulation and fees related to recreation on the lake, while old-timers — many of whose families were living on its shores long before the Catawba River was dammed, in 1924, to create the lake — want to preserve what remains of the lake’s natural beauty and resources.
And while the debate goes on, hardly anyone is discussing the central role the river has played in history, and the impact those events have had on the nation, the state and the region.
Over the next few weeks, I will be publishing a series of essays on the history of Mountain Island Lake region going back to the original settlers of the region. The essays are intended to provide context about the lake’s past as we debate its future, which at the moment appears to be perilous.
First, for those not familiar with the current crisis, here is some background information:
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