Digging Deeper: Mocking God

This election, there’s a movement around the country to use the Bible and prayer in the wrong way. It makes God a political partisan. It associates God with vengeance and hatred, substitutes a personal or group judgement for God’s own as it despoils the idea of divine glory, and mocks God by asking God to grant divine intervention and authority to actions God condemns.

Put aside the impulse to run to the barricades of clichés, the library of platitudes about religion. Go outside free will, the failed standards of churches, the doubts about the existence of God, the comfortable substitution of superstition, the smug blindness by which we ignore the invisible, universal presence our ancestors were able to discern with slowly evolved awareness of its immanence. For all doubters, simply look to creativity–one concept–the endless, infinite, ever-changing, amazing creativity that is the world, things small and large, near and far, that are, even by our limited measure, eternal marvels of patterns and chaos that link light arriving to our eye before the earth was formed.

After creativity, morality is a universal set of human rules, tied to an afterlife. Sacred texts developed by communities coded behavior and designated good and bad. For Christianity, the Bible is a sacred text. Its words by many believers are considered the holy writ of God. And its believers, many people of power and influence, of education and means, are using its verses to pray for the defeat, death and the spiritual disembowelment of Barack Obama.

E-mails are being widely distributed with the title, “Pray Psalm 109:8.” Here’s the relevant section of Psalm 109 people are using to pray for Barack:

When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. 8 May his days be few; may another take his place in office. 9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. 10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven[a] from their ruined homes. 11 May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. 12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. 13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. 14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. 15 May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may blot out their name from the earth.

People around the country are praying these words, sending them to friends, specifically putting “Pray Psalm 109:8″ on tee shirts, hats, and bumper stickers and earnestly bowing their heads without thought or remorse that Barack be “blotted out.” Others are using what they believe are God’s words to ridicule Barack, mocking him with the swift righteousness of  a God whose wrath is final. But God’s wrath is not theirs; their judgement is not His. By not embracing God in love, they deceive themselves and mock God.

Harriet Tubman is a major source of my own belief, this woman whose head was crushed by a 40 lb. scale weight when she was 12, leaving her in a six-month coma and with debilitating lifelong seizures and migraines. She was the height of 19th century courage as she guided small bands of the enslaved to freedom across hostile landscapes, never caught, never losing a passenger on her underground railroad, even as she lapsed into day-long seizures, never captured despite the $40,000 price tag on her head by those who condemned her victories for freedom as evil.

During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman served as a soldier, scout, spy, and nurse–but never fired a shot. She united faith and works. She healed hundreds of soldiers given up on with dysentery, using an herbal remedy she learned from the enslaved. She liberated the largest one-day total of the enslaved, over nine hundred, as she commanded three ships clearing mines from the Combahee River, a blackwater river along coastal South Carolina. She was present at the nation’s first emancipation celebration at Port Royal, SC, beginning midnight, January 1, 1863. As freedom spread across the South in its own long march, at the time and place of its notice, no soldiers died and no deaths were recorded. Freedom was unspoiled.

God’s warrior angel deserves sainthood. Her work is how God answers prayers. It shows how God intervenes, not through death but hope. God is a refuge, not an assassin. The grace and protection of God surrounded her every step. She always claimed to be guided by God’s voice.

Those who are praying the verses above are praying not for the righteous guidance of God but for his vengeance. Their praise of God corrupts his intent. Their hearts do not see God as a fortress against distress. Their stubborn hearts follow a false way. They profane the sweet honey from the rock.

Among the leaders of the Psalm 109 prayer movement is Kansas Speaker of the House, Republican Mike O’Neal. O’Neal also wrote in an e-mail: “At last – I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up – it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!” This is a man deceived by the wickedness of his own heart, a man who cannot ask for glory. He has misjudged God’s trust. Continue reading Digging Deeper: Mocking God

Take Five (Mooks'n'Mamalukes edition)

ONE: Say It Ain’t Joe

Joe Arpaio has had one hell of a run. Twenty years as sheriff of a county now comprising 3.8 million people is no mean achievement, especially if said sheriff has a propensity to bend, bludgeon or break the law routinely.

It would be foolish to assume that his run is necessarily over, no matter how things seem to be unfolding for Arpaio, but I’m pleased to see that things seem to be unfolding rather badly for him. As buzzards circle over Maricopa County, John Dougherty (who has covered the sheriff from the beginning) notes that Arpaio is running out of friends:

The latest Arpaio political supporter to fall is former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas, who was disbarred April 10 for engaging in unethical conduct to intimidate and smear his and Arpaio’s political adversaries…

Thomas’ disbarment comes six months after Arpaio’s closest ally in the state Legislature was recalled from office. Angry voters ousted former Senate President Russell Pearce for his leading role in passing Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB1070… Pearce was once Arpaio’s chief deputy and is credited with coming up with the idea 20 years ago of housing thousands of county inmates in tents.

Arpaio has also lost key support staff within his office, including his longtime chief deputy David Hendershott, who was fired last year for his role in an unfolding Arpaio campaign finance scandal that is the subject of another federal criminal investigation.

The Thomas disbarment, in particular, should make Arpaio sweat, since the Arizona Supreme Court disciplinary panel:

… said there was enough evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the sheriff and three of his closest allies participated in what the panel believes was federal crime in December 2009.

Uh-oh. What with the campaign finance probe, an ongoing DOJ investigation into possible civil rights violations, and speculation mounting that a three-year grand jury investigation into abuse of power allegations will soon result in criminal charges, it’s tempting to think Arpaio might be stopped before he can win a sixth term this fall. Which would be terrific, not least because Arpaio’s buddies over at WND would surely gnash their teeth and rend their garments in hilarious fashion were old Joe to be brought down. Until or unless that happens, WND frantically continues to lobby Congress to follow the lead of Arpaio’s cold case posse:

PETITION DEMANDING THAT CONGRESS OPEN AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION OF BARACK OBAMA’S CONSTITUTIONAL ELIGIBILITY TO SERVE AS PRESIDENT, IN LIGHT OF THE FIRST OFFICIAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PROBE INTO THE MATTER DISCOVERING “PROBABLE CAUSE” THAT BOTH OBAMA’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND SELECTIVE SERVICE REGISTRATION FORM ARE FORGERIES.

WND claims that 47,321 people have already signed the petition. It seems that the way to a birther’s heart is through the caps lock key.

TWO: Joeverkill

Every stinking time God turns around, some politician is invoking Him or justifying an ill-chosen career by blaming its every detail on poor old omnipresent God.

“God says vote for me.”

“God told me to support all that bad legislation.”

“God told me to run again and act like all that bad legislation I supported is something to be proud of.”

“God says vote for me again.”

As if to demonstrate his political bona fides, first-time Congressional candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher – AKA Joe the Plumber – doesn’t think God is on his side, he knows it. Just like he knows a bunch of other things that are also false:

Obama’s ideology is un-American, I say that every day, and I won’t shut up about it.

Obviously he won’t.

His views are socialist. He’s been hanging around with them for a very long time. It’s connecting the dots, it’s very simple. It’s not conspiracy theory, it’s not a bunch of hoopla, it’s real. And people have to call it out, and not be afraid of the media slapping them down. I won’t be.

Hey, God – may I call You God? – if You’re really on Samuel Wurzelbacher’s side, as he claims You are, could You please inspire him to pick up a book and learn something about socialism? Or plumbing?

THREE: No True Hairpiece

When Donald Trump and his entourage swept into the Scottish Parliament yesterday morning, a stiff breeze barrelled down from the Edinburgh crags and threatened to lift the famously thin but coiffured locks from the American entrepreneur’s head.

As it did so, a bemused bystander remarked quietly: “Aye, now we know why he doesn’t like the wind.”

America’s bilious billionaire blowhard was at Holyrood to renew his threats to take his marbles and go home if Scotland doesn’t cancel a proposed wind farm adjacent to Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf course. Trump had planned to add a resort hotel and luxury housing to the course, which is slated to open in July, but maintains that he will cancel the expansions if the 11-turbine renewable energy project goes ahead. His testimony before the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee was, let’s say, quintessentially Trumpian:

At one point he was challenged to provide evidence that building thousands more wind farms would destroy Scottish tourism. “I am the evidence,” he bluntly retorted. “I am considered a world-class expert in tourism.”

Trump accused former First Minister Alex Salmond of misleading him during a 2007 dinner meeting in New York:

Mr Trump said the First Minister had “scoffed” at the idea the offshore wind farm would get planning approval, citing the Ministry of Defence’s concerns about its effect on radar and it blocking shipping lanes…

“So after I’ve invested this tremendous amount of money, all of a sudden this really obnoxious and ugly wind farm appears,” he said. “It’s going to look like Disneyland, except a bad version of Disneyland. I felt betrayed.”

After leaving Holyrood, Trump did what Trump does best. He strutted:

As he strolled out, smirking in pleasure and waving, anti-wind activists hailed his support and his enemies hurled abuse. Police officers rushed into the crowd and surrounded Trump in a protective cordon as the property baron tried to touch hands with admirers crushed behind a crowd barrier.

What a pity that Scotland can’t relocate the wind farm over Trump’s mouth. Renewable energy just doesn’t get more renewable than that. Continue reading Take Five (Mooks’n’Mamalukes edition)

Take Five (Iowa, O! Iowa edition)

ONE: Eight Votes and Counting

Know why Rick Santorum turned in such a strong performance in Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses? The Duggars.

Yes, America’s favorite breeding pair recently took time out from their near-constant rutting to endorse the former Pennsylvania senator. This isn’t the first high-profile endorsement Santorum has picked up this year, of course. Nefarious supervillain Rupert Murdoch tweeted his endorsement Monday evening, while failed reality show star Sarah Palin more or less endorsed him immediately after saying she wasn’t going to be endorsing anyone.

With a mere seven children, Santorum is a comparative piker when it comes to “sowing the lower forty” yet Jim Bob Duggar still found much to admire:

“He’s somebody that doesn’t take a poll to know where he stands,” the Duggar patriarch told a crowd at a pizza restaurant north of Des Moines. “I’m asking families, Christians all over America, to get behind Rick Santorum for the next president of the United States.”

He later added, “[Santorum] is somebody that goes and really just votes from his heart and votes on his convictions, votes on things based on the Constitution of the United States and the Bible. And that’s the kind of man we want to support.”

With Jim Bob and his penis out stumping on the campaign trail, Michelle Duggar caught a rare break, and by way of thanks recorded some robocalls for Santorum, probably with tears in her eyes.

So why, after an endorsement as big as this, did Santorum ultimately fall eight votes short of Mitt Romney? Quite simply because the Duggars aren’t Iowa residents, that’s why. If they were, Jim Bob, Michelle and their voting-age children – Joshua James, Jana Marie, John-David, Jill Michelle, Jessa Lauren and Jinger Nicole – could have tied this up. Throw in another Santorum vote from Joshua James’ wife Anna and it would have been an embarrassing second place finish for Mitt.

TWO: Mysterious Ways

Pat Robertson believes God has shown him the identity of the next president, but he said he’s “not supposed to talk about that” as he talked about it on Tuesday. Despite refusing to come clean on who it will be, Robertson went on to share some notes he jotted down during his recent confab with the Almighty. It sounded pretty much like any bull session between two very, very old geezers around a cracker barrel, right down to the predictable “world is goin’ to hell” and “that Kenyan commie’s gonna be the ruination of the nation” sentiments, but at least the Maker didn’t mince His words:

Your country will be torn apart by internal stress. A house divided cannot stand. Your president holds a radical view of the direction of your country which is at odds with the majority. Expect chaos and paralysis.

Holy moly! I always suspected that the Lord watched Fox; I just didn’t realize he took it so seriously. Robertson gamely tried to guess the nature of the coming calamity. EMP blast? Nope. Cosmic or solar or radiation blast? No siree. Mayan galaxy alignment? Hell, no. Iranian or North Korean nuclear threat? Get serious. Earthquake or volcano? Nuh-uh. Massive power failure? Oh, pshaw. Finally, the Creator spat on the floor, squinted to the left and to the right, then leaned in low over the checkerboard and whispered hoarsely:

It’s an economic collapse. This is not my judgment. They are bringing it upon themselves.

All right. I made up the spitting and squinting and stuff, but just to give the story a little more oomph than Robertson’s clinical recitation. Robertson didn’t say whether God intends to head this disaster off, or whether He means to settle back in His rocker with wry satisfaction and maybe smoke His corncob pipe while the economy tanks. Nor did God tell his confidant when this is all going to happen, but since President Obama will be in office for another five years and has a successful track record battling economic collapse, I like our chances.

THREE: “Huge Political Consequences”

Speaking of omnipotent entities, the American Petroleum Institute threatened President Obama yesterday with “huge political consequences” if he fails to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring tar sands crude from Canada to Gulf of Mexico refineries (minus whatever amount gets spilled in transit across the US heartland).

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard urged Obama to quickly approve the pipeline…

“I think it would be a huge mistake on the part of the president of the United States to deny the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline,” Gerard said during the powerful oil industry trade association’s annual “State of American Energy” event Wednesday.

“Clearly, the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest. A determination to decide anything less than that I believe will have huge political consequences.”

Gerard’s threats might have been better directed toward Republicans in Congress, though, since they’re the ones who insisted on including a provision in December’s payroll tax cut extension:

… requiring the president to make a final decision on the pipeline within 60 days.

What Gerard and his Congressional marionettes have yet to realize is that this newest example of GOP overreach provides all the cover necessary for President Obama to kill the pipeline with complete political immunity, despite the inevitable howling it will prompt from the “drill, baby, drill” crowd:

Obama administration and White House officials have said that the 60-day timeline could force them to reject the project because the State Department will not have enough time to conduct the necessary reviews…

Environmental groups – who vehemently oppose the project, citing concerns about oil spills and greenhouse gas emissions – have said Obama has no choice but to reject the pipeline under the GOP-backed Keystone measure.

Should things unfold in this happy fashion, and I believe they will, it will be a splendid example of “huge political consequences.” Continue reading Take Five (Iowa, O! Iowa edition)