Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Is Bill Moyers an origional thinker?

I had this great discourse on Bill Moyers’ article from today’s Star Tribune (first appeared in AlterNet). Moyers references an article written by Glenn Scherer on Grist.

I won’t insult everyones intelligence by asking they read both. They pretty much say the same thing. But, if I were Scherer, I’d be pretty ticked off at Moyers about now.

Here’s why (note, I'm copying from the Star Tribune for Moyers because I have the hard copy sitting in front of me):

Moyers: Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."

Scherer: Odds are it was in 1981, when President Reagan's first secretary of the interior, James Watt, told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. "God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back," Watt said in public testimony that helped get him fired.

OK, so we’re a little questionable here. He cites the on-line journal, not the article or the author. And that is something. But look at the italicized sections, and ask yourself if this is proper citing technique?

Moyers continues his article after doing a poor job of following Scherer’s research into Pre-Tribulation believers, but we’ll save that for the end. However, he does site the article “The Road to Environmental Apocalypse.” Let’s, for the sake of argument, say that he’s referring to “The Godly Must Be Crazy,” the article I link to above. And let’s just call this sloppy research, and be understanding, as Bill Moyers is of “that age.”

Moyers: As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election -- 231 legislators in total and more since the election -- are backed by the religious right.

Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt.
The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land." He seemed to be relishing the thought.

Scherer: We are not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. The 231 legislators (all but five of them Republicans) who received an average 80 percent approval rating or higher from the leading religious-right organizations make up more than 40 percent of the U.S. Congress. (The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian Coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who earlier this year quoted from the Book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land. Not a famine of bread or of thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord!") These politicians include some of the most powerful figures in the U.S. government, as well as key environmental decision makers: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Republican Conference Chair Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), Senate Republican Policy Chair Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, and quite possibly President Bush. (Earlier this month, a cover story by Ron Suskind in The New York Times Magazine described how Bush's faith-based governance has led to, among other things, a disastrous "crusade" in the Middle East and has laid the groundwork for "a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.")

Who makes clear? Grist? Grist is the magazine, Scherer is the writer. Is this another case of bad citing technique? I think not. What irks me the most is that Moyers only changed punctuation! If one reads Moyers first, as I did in today’s Star Tribune, one gets the impression that perhaps the paragraph starting “Forty-five senators and 186 Congressman…” is an original thought, or at the very least adding detail to Scherer’s research as there is not the informal “Grist says..” citation that Moyers uses. That entire paragraph is taken straight from Grist’s article.

Scherer: A 2002 Time/CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the Book of Revelation are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks.
Moyers: And why not? There's a constituency for it.
A 2002 Time-CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks.
Is it really a coincidence that Moyers picks the same Time/CNN poll?

Now for Moyers messing up Scherer’s research:
Scherer indicates that: A plethora of End-Time preachers, tracts, films, and websites hawk environmental cataclysm as Good News -- a harbinger of the imminent Second Coming. Hal Lindsey's 1970 End-Time "non-fiction" work, The Late Great Planet Earth, is the classic of the genre; the movie version pummels viewers with stock footage of nuclear blasts, polluting smokestacks, raging floods, and killer bees. Likewise, dispensationalist author Tim LaHaye's "Left Behind" novels -- at one point selling 1.5 million copies per month -- weave ecological disaster into an action-adventure account of prophesy.
At, the "Rapture Index" tracks all the latest news in relation to biblical prophecy. Among its leading environmental indicators of Apocalypse are oil supply and price, famine, drought, plagues, wild weather, floods, and climate. Rapture Ready webmaster Todd Strandberg writes to explain why climate change made the list: "I used to think there was no real need for Christians to monitor the changes related to greenhouse gases. If it was going to take a couple hundred years for things to get serious, I assumed the nearness of the End Times would overshadow this problem. With the speed of climate change now seen as moving much faster, global warming could very well be a major factor in the plagues of the tribulation."

Moyers: That's right -- the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind" series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious-right warrior Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

Look, Moyers, the “Left Behind Series” has little to do with the “Rapture Index.” Infact, at Rapture Ready, they don’t mention a thing about these books. Actually, I would also disagree that the “Left Behind” books are the best selling books in America. In March, when the last book comes out, they’ll probably hit the best seller lists again, but watch and wait for Harry Potter book six to come out July 16, and we’ll see what the best sellers are. Not that I don’t like La Haye and Jerry Jenkins (the co-author) and the books, but face it, Harry Potter is bigger then Pre-Trib theology.

Scherer: Tune in to any of America's 2,000 Christian radio stations or 250 Christian TV stations and you're likely to get a heady dose of dispensationalism, an End-Time doctrine invented in the 19th century by the Irish-Anglo theologian John Nelson Darby.

Moyers: Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations, or in the motel turn on some of the 250 Christian TV stations, and you can hear some of this end-time gospel.

OK, let’s give Moyers some credit for coming up with a different number. But I’m highlighting this because it is just too convenient that Moyers used this as an example of the prevalence of pre-trib thought.

All in all, the point of both articles is that fundamental Christians are bad for the environment. Moyers and Scherer do end their article in different directions. Scherer seeks to understand the differences but maintains that we need to be concerned about the environment. To an extent, I agree that we need to be concerned about the environment. God calls us to be good stewards of our resources. We need to take care of the world around us and not be wasteful. But, at the same time, it is not the most important calling of God’s followers. “He has shown you what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8.

Moyers needs to adjust his attitude to evangelical Christians. But, most importantly, he needs to give intellectual credit where credit is due. Thanks for the great work, Glenn Scherer.

Sorry for the pause

I've been taking a break from blogging. Now that Josh has a new job, for the first time in the less than 2 years we've been married, we're actually at home for more then 2 hours of wake time at the same time each day. And since we all have priorities, blogging has not been one of mine.

Also, I'm getting a little tired of working on political commentary, not that I've been going at it for that long. I really do not have that unique of an opinion to add something to the daily discourse. Nor do I really want to take the time to research anything too deeply unless I think I have something to add.

So, at risk of loosing what little audience I have, I'm going to break for a little while longer and come back as a tea and craft blog. Those are the two hobbies that I've been investing in the most these days, and are of interest to me in general.

I do have one last political post left, and I'll put that up above this one.

Cheers, and see you in a month!

Monday, January 03, 2005

50 Day Bible Memory Challenge

As my regular readers have guessed, I have several interests. I enjoy sewing, making soap, crocheting, and a couple of other “crafty” things. I like political commentary. Also, I comment upon my own Christian beliefs.

In high school and college, the one thing I took the most pride in was my Bible memory accomplishments. I had a couple hundred Bible verses memorized, and attempted to keep them in note card boxes. I have a little problem, though. First, I made a habit of giving out my verse cards when I hoped someone would find comfort or encouragement in a specific verse. And at the time, I thought, “Why not, I have the verse memorized, so it really doesn’t matter.” This leads to my second problem: I was diagnosed with an auto-immune related disease (ITP, or chronic low platelets, for those interested) during my senior year of college, and because of the extreme amounts of prednisone that I had to take, I have some memory problems. First, I have this unaccounted for period of time during my senior year; which means I have course work on my transcript (with A’s and B’s, even) that I don’t remember taking, at all. Second, I lost a lot of memorized content, like Bible verses, people’s birthdays, and some other random trivia.

So, over the last four years, I have been “meaning” to re-learn my Bible verses. But, I never got “around to it.” And here we are.

Today is January 3, 2005. I challenge all of my readers to memorize the following scriptures by February 21, 2005.
Job 22:27
Psalm 1:6
Psalm 8:9
Psalm 29:11
Psalm 32:5
Psalm 91:10
Psalm 94:1
Psalm 104:24
Psalm 108:3-4
Psalm 119:160
Psalm 119:165
Isaiah 66:13
Zechariah 13:9
Malachi 3:6
Matthew 7:7
Luke 5:10
Luke 6:27
Luke 12:29-31
John 1:12
John 3:3
John 3:16-17
John 13:34
John 14:6
John 14:21
John 15:9-13
Acts 4:12
Romans 1:16
Romans 3:10-11
Romans 3:23
Romans 4:21
Romans 5:8-9
Romans 6:23
Romans 8:1-2
Romans 10:9-10
Romans 12:1-2
2 Corinthians 1:20
2 Corinthians 3:5
2 Corinthians 5:21
Ephesians 2:8-10
Colossians 3:17
1 Timothy 1:15
1 Timothy 6:6
Hebrews 2:18
Hebrews 11:6
1 Peter 2:2
1 Peter 3:18
1 Peter 4:10-11
I John 3:18
1 John 4:7-11
Revelation 3:20

I really have no reward for anyone who accepts this challenge. However, there are rewards to be had both mentally and spiritually.

And, in order to have accountability for meeting this challenge, I will invite a guest blogger to post when I have the verses memorized. Furthermore, I will invite the guest blogger to post throughout the year to post how well I do at reciting these same verses. I have a few guests in mind, though none are blonde, all reliable people. Perhaps I will ask Hermionygonzo from Stillman Girls or one of our cousins to comment.

And, for those who need some help, I would like to share my method of memory. Attempt to learn 7 passages a week. Take 7 minutes each day, and go through your seven verses, reciting them out loud. It helps to have the scriptures written on 3x5 note cards. After day 3, start to turn the cards over and recite without checking reference. By day 7, you should have the verses memorized. In order to maintain memory, (remember, the goal is to have 50 passages in permanent memory) it is important to run through memorized verses at least once a day. Others, namely my calculus teacher from college, found that memory came through repeatedly copying what was to be memorized, I am not much for writing because I forget commas and mix up commas and semi-colons, etc. And some people are more picky about punctuation then others.

Also, another tip to try: include passages that you either have memorized, or mostly memorized, passages that sound familiar, and passages that you do not know in each set. When I do this, I feel more encouraged because I am reminded that I do have verses memorized, and I am not a hopeless cause. This leads me to work harder on the passages that I do not have memorized, or completely memorized.

Good luck, and happy memorizing!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Legislation of Morality

One of the arguements heard now and then is the arguement that we should not be legislating morality. This argument ignores our tradition of doing just that. As a people, we legislate morality.

The Consititution begins with a charge to "establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty..." We ammended this Constitution to elaborate on the rights of the citizens of our country. Furthermore, we elaborate on the Constitution with a civil and criminal law system.

We value life, and have declared murder wrong. (Though I am strongly pro-life, I don't want to argue abortion today.) We believe that sex should be consentual, and have declared rape to be illegal. Furthermore, though we believe that sex should be consentual, we believe that prostitution is wrong. We have codes against lying, defrauding our neighbor, and stealing. We also govern discriminatory actions in the form of equal opportunity laws. We believe that people should be treated fairly, and therefore have a variety of civil laws governing medical practice, sales, education, perscription drugs, medical care, and living conditions.

All of the above are moral beliefs and values which we legislate. Furthermore, we associate ourselves in communities that impose certain other legislation on us. For example, I attend a church where pre-marital sex is frowned upon according to the Bible, and so the pastor of my church will not perform marriage rites to those who are actively engaging in pre-marital sex. Also such communities impose a belief in charitable contributions and other behaviors that expand upon our civil and criminal law.

It is acceptable to legislate morality as we practice this. And in areas in which laws do not cover or do not cover well enough, we seek out communities where other rules are imposed. What I do not find acceptable is the interfereance of state in religion. Our founding fathers formed a secular state where state and church are two separate entities. This is not saying that religious people cannot participate in government. Nor does this say that the church and state cannot share mutual goals and attempt to reach these goals together. Rather, it acknowledges that the state cannot impose laws on the church that may be against the theology of the church; and that the church cannot impose its own will as a governing body. In other words, the state can't tell the church what to believe, nor can the church behave like it has actual legal authority to punish unbelievers. (Defining unbelievers as those who do not belong to church.)

I am not particularly worried that we will have a theocracy any time soon. Rather, I am afraid that the irreligious of the world will do what they fear the Christian community will do. I fear that the irreligious will impose their beliefs on the state and eventually on the church. Unfortunately, we have some foundation in Christian scripture to support this fear of mine. Jesus warned that we should not be surprised when the world hates us because the world hates him.

Will we go down fighting?