Thursday, December 25, 2008


Bill Maher's Final Comments from his Movie "RELIGILOUS"

Thorkild Grosboell where is he now?

Pastor openly rejects the Creator

by Michael Matthews, AiG–US

20 June 2003

The Lutheran Church in Denmark is not sure what to do with a pastor who has gone public with his atheism. In a newspaper interview, Thorkild Grosboell openly said he believes ‘there is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection.’1

The pastor’s local bishop, Rev. Lise-Lotte Rebel, felt compelled to suspend him, pending clarification of his views. In response, hundreds of his parishioners rallied to Grosboell’s side, demanding his return.
‘The church must be tolerant!’

‘If there is no place for our pastor in this church, then there is no place for many of us either,’ says the head of the parish council, Lars Heilesen. ‘The Church must be able to tolerate points of view that are not necessarily its own. There must be some room allowed to express one’s doubts openly without being sanctioned.’2

Actually, the bishop’s demands were not heavy. She simply wanted Grosboell to clarify ‘that he did not want to sow doubt about the Church's confession but rather trigger a debate.’3 When he would not back down, she suspended him.

Because it is a state church, however, the Lutheran Church cannot defrock Grosboell.

A government committee seeking to clean up the state church from charges of corruption has actually come to Grosboell’s defense, claiming he is a victim of censorship. It has filed a formal complaint claiming a violation of the Danish constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Others are on his side, too. According to an AP report, Mogens Lindhardt, who heads Denmark's Theological College of Education, considers Grosboell’s claims ‘refreshing.’1
‘I was just misquoted!’

After his suspension, Grosboell told the press that his words have been misunderstood: ‘I feel that I was misquoted. My statements were presented in a way that was oversimplified and categorical.’ He says he believes ‘in something divine, but not in a God who created man and the ant.’2

The media seems shocked by this strange turn of events.

Yet Denmark’s church has been a harbinger of the depths to which Christians can sink once Pandora’s box has been opened—once Christians reject the authority of every word in the Bible, beginning with its historical account of a six-day Creation and a worldwide Flood in Genesis.

One hundred years ago, who would have believed that the church would employ atheists as pastors? It seems that there’s no ‘bottom’ to the depths of society’s decline, once the door has been opened. (See Ken Ham’s article The big picture.)

For follow-up news on this article, please read our Update on ‘atheist pastor’.

1. Danish priest suspended after claiming God, eternal life don’t exist, , 3 June 2003. Return to text.
2. Danish pastor suspended for refusing to believe in God, Agence France-Presse, , 13 June 2003. Return to text.
3. Parishioners demand return of atheist pastor, ABC News Online, , 12 June 2003. Return to text

More Details here

Thorkild Grosbøll (born February 27, 1948) is a parish priest in the Church of Denmark. Grosbøll has said that he does not believe in God, but he still wants to serve as a priest. While quoting just these two views out of context is an oversimplification of his position, they have resulted in Grosbøll being at the centre of a controversy among Christians, mostly in Denmark. After various other services, Grosbøll became parish priest in Taarbæk June 1991. In the spring of 2003, Thorkild Grosbøll published the book En Sten i Skoen (A Stone in the Shoe), resulting in very limited reactions, though he wrote in it that he does not believe in God. On May 23, 2003, the Danish newspaper Weekendavisen published an interview with Grosbøll, in which he repeated statements from his book, in particular that he does not believe in a creating or upholding God. After a public outcry, the bishop in Elsinore, Lise-Lotte Rebel, started talks with the priest on June 3, 2003 about his faith. Simultaneously, she relieved him of his duties as parish priest in Taarbæk as she believed Grosbøll had failed in four accounts:

* neglected the creed of the Church of Denmark.
* subverted the respectability of the service.
* ignored orders.
* created profound confusion about the Church of Denmark.

On July 23, 2003, Thorkild Grosbøll was allowed to continue his service as a parish priest in Taarbæk, subject to special surveillance by the bishop. On June 3, 2004, Grosbøll was instructed to resign no later than June 4, or he would be suspended. On June 7, 2004, the chairman of the elected parish council in Taarbæk, Lars Heilesen, informed the parish about the situation in the church in Taarbæk. On June 10, 2004, Rebel again relieved Thorkild Grosbøll of his duties. During all these events, the parish community in Taarbæk stood by Thorkild Grosbøll. There was an animated public debate, occasionally fuelled by statements from Grosbøll like: "God belongs in the past. He is actually so old fashioned that I am baffled by modern people believing in his existence. I am thoroughly fed up with empty words about miracles and eternal life." (Ude og Hjemme, week 24, 2005). At the same time he maintained that the bishop and the press misunderstood him, taking quotes from his sermons out of context. July 12, 2004 the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs transferred the case to an ecclesiastical court. The first stage of this process, a hearing of the involved parties, was concluded February 2005. On May 11 2005, the ministry relieved bishop Rebel from her surveillance of Thorkild Grosbøll, and transferred the surveillance to the bishop in Roskilde, Jan Lindhardt. Thereby the ministry put the ecclesiastical court case on hold. May 20 2006 Grosbøll confirmed his priestly vows before Lindhardt in the presence of witnesses and by his signature, and was allowed to serve again as parish priest, but was instructed not to talk to the press. Thus the case was put to rest till autumn 2007, where it was decided that the surveillance was to be transferred to the bishop in Århus, Kjeld Holm, by May 1 2008, when Lindhart would retire. Shortly after this decision, Grosbøll announced that he will seek early retirement when he turns 60 in February 2008.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Elizabeth Alexander: Obama's Innaugural Poet

Some of Elizabeth Alexander's poems are here

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Deja Vu all over again

You seldom, if ever, see it reported in the embedded corporate media, but an economic crisis has accompanied every recent Republican administration. In 1993 Economist Lester Thurow described the consequences of neo-conservative policies of Reagan and H.W. Bush: the collapse of the financial industry led by the savings and loan debacle. The loss of hundreds of billions in pension investments and the serial bankruptcy of the airline industry Those who looted the S&L's and invested in 'JUNK-BONDS' (today we would call them 'sub-prime corporate debt' became rich beyond their wildest dreams and impoverished the middle-class of the day. When "free market" ideologues finally called on the government to rescue them, the private enterprise US government ended up owning a larger percentage of the US economy than the soviet's owned of theirs. The next time some moron comes along and tells us that he will cut taxes for the rich and increase military expenditures, we should throw him in Guantanamo rather than allowing him to economically terrorize the US from the White House.

Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle Among
Japan, Europe and America
ISBN 0-446-39497-1
June, 1993 p. 18-19

Left to itself, unfettered capitalism has a tendency to drift
into either financial instability or monopoly. Tulip mania, the
South Sea Bubble, numerous nineteenth-century financial
panics, and the stock-market collapse of 1929 were all forerun-
ners of the current mess in America's deregulated financial
markets. The current consolidations in the U.S. airline indus-
try are not unlike the great monopolistic trusts of the last half
of the nineteenth century.

If government had not come to the rescue, finance capital-
ism, as it is practiced in the United States, would now be col-
lapsing. Most of America's savings and loan banks (S&Ls) are
in government receivership. Large numbers of commercial
banks have not yet gone broke but are broke in the sense that
they could not be liquidated to pay off their depositors if that
should have to be done. The ultimate cost may not end up
being as big as that for the S&Ls, but it is going to require a
lot of the taxpayer money. If the banking system had not been
bailed out by government, panic would have set in as individ-
uals lost their savings accounts, and a repeat of the Great De
pression would probably now be under way.

Paradoxically, as Eastern Europe privatizes, America na-
tionalizes. With the collapse of much of its banking sector, by
early 1991 the American government had been forced to take
over two hundred billion dollars in private assets and was ex-
pected to end up owning_ three hundred billion dollars in pri-
vate assets before the hemorrhaging stopped.' A government corporation, the Resolution Trust Corporation, has become by far the largest owner of property in America. To these totals
must be added the large sums that will be needed by the Pen-
sion Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the government fund that
guarantees pensions, to fulfill its obligations to protect private
pension funds. Pension funds hold 30 percent of those dubi-
ous junk bonds, and the bankruptcies that are flowing from
the financial excesses of the 1980s will require billions in gov-
ernment aid to insure that the private pensions that have been
promised are in fact paid. The pension funds of the airlines
that were already in bankruptcy by mid-1991 will require more
than two billion dollars in taxpayer money all by themselves.'
The same, problems afflict the insurance sector. Here the
guarantees have been given by state governments. Forty-
seven states guarantee life-insurance policies, most up to
$300,000 per person. In early 1991 the states of California and
New York took over the management of Executive Life, a
company with thirteen billion dollars in assets, two thirds of
which were invested in junk bonds.' By midyear three other
large insurance companies (First Capital Life, Monarch Life,
and Mutual Benefit Life) were under state jurisdiction. To pre-
vent the feared bankruptcy of an out-of-state holding com-
pany from bringing down an in-state insurance subsidiary,
Massachusetts stepped in to start running an insurance com-
pany that had not yet gone broke.

In the industrial sector America has just seen the tip of the
iceberg of the corporations that have loaded up with too much
debt and gone broke because of the merger and takeover
wars. Airlines and large retailing firms lead the parade into
bankruptcy, but there is a lot of the parade yet to come. With
these industrial bankruptcies will come the need for even
more government (taxpayer) help (unemployment insurance
for those who end up unemployed, deposit insurance to cover
the banks that go broke because they have lent to companies
that go broke, and pension insurance to pay the pensions of
those who were owed pensions by bankrupt corporations).
Unfettered Anglo-Saxon capitalism is finding it difficult to
cope with the present and may, not be the unstoppable wave
of the future that pundits on the political right like to extol.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow on Sword Ferns

On Gay Marriage From TravBuddy Forum

I live in Canada where the courts have ruled that gay marriages are legal. Many churches are willing to perform gay marriages although probably a majority do not.

Since the 1920's Canada has become progressively more liberal in its approach to human sexuality. In the 1960's we made divorce no fault, legalized birth control, decriminalized homosexuality and banned discrimination against homosexuals. Our government has admitted that church employees acting as agents of government physically and sexually abused Indian Students who were forced into residential schools, "illegitimate" children who were warehoused in mental hospitals and orphanages. Compensation is now being paid to these individuals who, as helpless children had their lives destroyed by abusive clergy.

Today the same conservative churches who committed these abuses now demand that marriage is the sacred basis of the family and should be reserved exclusively for heterosexual couples because homosexual couples cannot produce children. This is a ridiculous argument. does it mean that infertile couples can't marry? should couples using contraceptives have their sacred marriage privilege suspended? The notion that opening marriage to gays will lead to inter-species marriage or polygamy is equally fallacious.

Science has taught us that human sexuality is not based on 2 polarities but on a whole spectrum of preferences that are programmed into us at birth. It is about time that the law recognized that. It is not certain that churches ever will because sex has been exploited by churches as a source of fear and guilt to keep their congregants in line and submissive.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Billy Connolly On Catholicism and Sarah Palin

Billy Connolly On Catholicism and Sarah Palin

Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares? ...He's a mile away and you've got his shoes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Harris Poll - American Beliefs

Poll: Belief in UFOs Matches Belief in OT, NT as Word of God
By Eric Young
Christian Post Reporter
Thu, Dec. 11 2008 01:51 PM EST

A little more than a third of Americans believe all the text in the Old Testament or all the text in the New Testament represent the Word of God, according to the results of a newly released poll.

That’s about the same as the percentage of people who believe in UFOs (36 percent) and less than the amount of people who believe in ghosts (44 percent), Harris Interactive found through its online survey.

Notably, however, 55 percent of those surveyed affirmed their belief that all or most of the Word of God is represented in the Old Testament and 54 percent for the New Testament. Furthermore, 80 percent were found to believe in God and 71 percent that Jesus is God or the Son of God.

“That very large majorities of the American public believe in God, miracles, the survival of the soul after death, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the Virgin birth will come as no great surprise,” staff at Harris Interactive stated. “What may be more surprising is that substantial minorities believe in ghosts, UFOs, witches, astrology, and the belief that they themselves were once other people.”

According to the poll, 44 percent of Americans believe in ghosts, 36 in UFOs, 31 in witches, 31 in astrology, and 24 in reincarnation.

Among churchgoers, the numbers were not so different. Of those who attended religious services at least weekly, 34 percent said they believe in witches, 28 in astrology, 26 in UFOs, and 18 in reincarnation.

Overall, Catholics were more likely to believe in each of the above than Protestants.

Catholics were also much more likely than Protestants to believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution (52 percent to 32 percent) and a little less likely to believe in creationism (46 percent to 54 percent).

Other notably figures recorded by Harris Interactive include the percentage of Americans who believe in angels (71 percent), survival of the soul after death (68 percent), Hell (62 percent), the Virgin birth (61 percent), the devil (59 percent), and Darwin's theory of evolution (47 percent).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Joel Osteen vs "Dr." Terry Watkins

An example of the judgmental, intolerant, hate-filled critiques by hell-fire and brimstone, bible-believing christians against more tolerant pastors such as Joel Osteen of Houston, Texas. Osteen's recent interview with Larry King on CNN prompted this vitriolic response by "Dr." Terry Watkins of Dial-the-Truth Ministries

George W. Bush, Respected Diplomat

Click here for MSNBC Video George Bush, Diplomat

Saturday, December 6, 2008

a lame-duck coup d'etat!

Isn't it amazing how a president elect's campaign promises can be shelved so quickly after the election and even before the victorious candidate takes office. As Barack Obama assembles his new cabinet and puts programs together so he can "hit the ground running" on January 20th, he is being hobbled by mounting claims on current and future revenues of the US government.

Seven hundred billion dollars for the self-dealing executives on wall street and another 35 billion for the mismanaged auto industry who lobbied governments to continue production of gas-guzzling, environment-destroying mega-cars without proper public oversight. And if the auto industry deserves a bailout, who steps up to the plate next - hotels and hamburger joints? Can we really afford to see all those burger flippers and desk clerks out of work and unable to make payments on their sub-prime loans?

These claims are being made against a national treasury already in record deficit thanks to the failed-state economics of the Bush administration. If Obama borrows the funds from countries like China or India, what surrender of sovereignty will be required? No limit on imports, no restriction of job exports? There go 2 more of Obama's promised changes.

If Bush's economic time-bomb isn't enough, there are presidential orders being churned out of the "lame-duck" White House to allow environmentally destructive energy exploration, gutting of the endangered species act and creating impediments to any programs Obama may be considering to reverse global warming and other threats to our planet's capacity to sustain life.

Then there are all the graduates from Pat Robertson's Regent University Law school who were salted into the Attorney-General's payroll and who forgot to ask, "What would Jesus Do?" when that Department justified torture and the elimination of Constitutional legal protections. I suppose they already have their petitions prepared for unlawful dismissal

Finally there is the presidential pardon privilege. How many crooked K-street lobbyists will be released from prison - maybe even a Canadian Lord who looted his holding company while regulators looked the other way - When these right-wing Marielitas hit the airwaves like the Watergate bandits and Oliver North, Obama's honeymoon will be over.

I don't blame Obama if he can't keep his promises. I blame Bush for what amounts to a lame-duck coup d'etat!

Friday, December 5, 2008

What ever happened to Otto Wels?

On March 23, the newly elected Reichstag met in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin to consider passing Hitler's Enabling Act. It was officially called the "Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich." If passed, it would in effect vote democracy out of existence in Germany and establish the legal dictatorship of Adolf Hitler.

Brown-shirted Nazi storm troopers swarmed over the fancy old building in a show of force and as a visible threat. They stood outside, in the hallways and even lined the aisles inside, glaring ominously at anyone who might oppose Hitler's will.

Before the vote, Hitler made a speech in which he pledged to use restraint.

"The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures...The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one," Hitler told the Reichstag.

He also promised an end to unemployment and pledged to promote peace with France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. But in order to do all this, Hitler said, he first needed the Enabling Act. A two-thirds majority was needed, since the law would actually alter the constitution. Hitler needed 31 non-Nazi votes to pass it. He got those votes from the Catholic Center Party after making a false promise to restore some basic rights already taken away by decree.

Meanwhile, Nazi storm troopers chanted outside: "Full powers - or else! We want the bill - or fire and murder!!"

But one man arose amid the overwhelming might. Otto Wells, leader of the Social Democrats stood up and spoke quietly to Hitler.

"We German Social Democrats pledge ourselves solemnly in this historic hour to the principles of humanity and justice, of freedom and socialism. No enabling act can give you power to destroy ideas which are eternal and indestructible."

Hitler was enraged and jumped up to respond.

"You are no longer needed! - The star of Germany will rise and yours will sink! Your death knell has sounded!"

The vote was taken - 441 for, and only 84, the Social Democrats, against. The Nazis leapt to their feet clapping, stamping and shouting, then broke into the Nazi anthem, the Hörst Wessel song.

Democracy was ended.

from The History Place *********** Wikipedia Bio

Fading flowers in our garden

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A New Style of Political Leadership for Canada?

One of the failings of Canadian Parliaments has been the pursuit of majority governments by the two dominant, corporate-financed political parties in a "first past the post" electoral system. The result has been non-responsive majority governments elected with less than 40% of the popular vote while important political views - Greens and Social Democrats - often win fewer seats in the house than is fair based on their percentage of popular vote.

The problem is not caused only by the corporate-financed Liberal and Conservative parties who see themselves as the alternative natural governing parties of Canada. It is also caused by the smaller parties in the opposition who see themselves as future majority governments and insist on protecting their ideological purity until that day happens. The 800 pound gorilla in the room is the Bloc Quebecois. It has been treated like a pariah by all the other parties who are concerned that - if they make political alliances with the BQ, they will be tagged as separatist - in spite of the fact that the BQ advocates not separatism but a form of joint- sovreignty with Canada.

It doesn't take rocket science to understand why an 800 pound gorilla has begun to look like Marilyn Monroe. When Prime Minister Harper threatened to cut off federal funding for political parties, the parties who stood to benefit least from corporate largesse began to pay closer attention to their common interests and the potential of forming a governing coalition of their own. This coalition building effort is the most exciting thing to happen in Canadian politics since Confederation because it requires a style of leadership that has been practiced in progressive European democracies for almost a century. In those countries leaders build majority coalitions based on negotiation and compromise between the diverse parties in parliament. And those majorities are maintained by leaders who are sensitive to the needs of coalition partners who represent regional and cultural as well as philosophical differences.

What is critical is whether this opposition coalition-building process does represent a new style of leadership or whether Harper can bribe it to a halt by restoring federal financing of political parties. Let's hope for the former.

The Social Function of Religion

I am not a religious person. Nor are most religious people I know.

Basically, religion is the social glue of tribal societies. It explains why some people are included in the tribal structure while others are excluded. Almost every culture has a creation myth that describes its origins and attempts to provide an explanation for death. When society was based on kinship, it was inconceivable that a person would question his religion because religious beliefs were so tightly woven into tribal culture. Even today, most people adhere to their parents' religion because, as children they were socialized into it. Changing religions is extremely difficult because it means rejecting your family and their beliefs. To avoid family conflict, most people simply follow the required rituals and forms even though they no longer believe.

Christianity is different from other religions. It had no creation myth so it appropriated the Jewish creation story in the Old Testament - The New Testament provided an explanation of the reasons for death - a transition from life through a process of judgment by god and afterwards a life of eternal pleasure for the included and eternal punishment for the excluded.

Christianity has also existed primarily in ethnically and religiously plural societies rather than in homogenous societies based on kinship. It was forced to compete with other religions through the process of conversion. It did so effectively in two ways: first by appropriating the mysteries of other religions - virgin birth, death and resurection myths, miracle cures and pagan seasonal celebrations are all taken from other popular religions. Second by allying themselves with the powerful elements of civil society - from the Roman Emperors Constantine and Theodosias through Hitler and Stalin down to the U.S. Republican Party of the present day.

The real difference today between christianity and most other religions is the bible. It is a book that is ridiculously inconsistent, scientifically nonsensical, historically unverifiable and morally ambiguous. American religious fundamentalists especially those in the deep south have elevated the bible to the point where it has become the fourth person of the trinity. They insist that the bible is the inspired work of god - although why god ceased to inspire books after the bible isn't well explained. Joseph Smith advanced a sequel in an attempt to bring the bible up to date with the European discovery of America but his Book of Mormon hasn't had a good reception outside of Utah.

Southern fundamentalists also insist on absolute belief in the literal words of the bible. To interpret the bible is to sin. Yet their charismatic, self-appointed mega-church clerics and televangelists have no hesitation in selecting out their targets - for example homosexuals can be targeted for venimous attacks, while people who eat seafood - equally abominable according to the book of leviticus - are ignored. The distinction is political not theological - homosexuals are easier to attack than the food industry. But selection is interpretation and despite this a whole flock of fundamentalist theological sheep speak hatred against homosexuals from their tax-supported pulpits around the continent. (more to follow)