Friday, August 26, 2005

Christ among the Republicans

Thanks to "son-of-adam1" at for pointing out this gem from

The Parable of Jesus and the Rubber Chicken
What if Christ spoke at a Republican Party fund-raiser?

By Tom Peyer

Posted Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005, at 4:21 AM PT


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm going to have a hard time living up to an introduction like that. (LAUGHTER)

First, let Me express My gratitude for your support over the last few years. It's nice to be thought of as a winner for a change. If I had known we'd get the House, the Senate, and two consecutive terms in the White House (APPLAUSE)—if I'd known all that, I would have had an easier time that Friday on the Cross, let Me tell you. (LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

But seriously, folks (LAUGHTER)—no, seriously, that day did pass, and then two more. Then I rose from the dead. (CHEERS, APPLAUSE) Thank you. I rose from the dead and I flew up to Heaven. But first, you'll remember, I made a little side trip to Hell (SCATTERED BOOS) just to get a look at how they do things. And I'm here to tell you, Hell is just like Heaven (AUDIBLE GASPS)—but with taxes. (LAUGHTER, CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

I'd especially like to thank President Bush, who gave Me a free Pioneer membership. (AUDIBLE GASPS, MUTTERING) Was I not supposed to say that? Sorry. My point is, the president's a good man. The only real difference between Me and him is his daddy found a way to forgive Bill Clinton. (WILD APPLAUSE)

This president married well, too. He married a woman. (CHEERS, APPLAUSE) That's the right way. That's the way My Dad intended. Respect the sanctity of marriage. Now a few loud people keep saying the government should forget about sanctity, forget about religion. They want separation of church and state. See these hands? See the holes in them? That's separation of church and state. (APPLAUSE) I know George W. Bush, and I know he won't ever let that happen to Me again. (CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Ken Mehlman asked Me to come down here today to meet with you good people and clear up a few things you've been wondering about. I told him I'd be glad to eat a little crow for a good cause. You'll forgive Me if I read a brief prepared statement, but Ken and My Dad want Me to get this just right. (LAUGHTER) Here goes.

"In My youth, I made certain ill-advised statements that I now regret. If I offended anyone, I apologize. I want to clarify that it is easy for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (CHEERS, WILD APPLAUSE)

"I'd like to apologize specifically to the money-changers. It is My sincere hope that you will come back into the Temple free of charge as My guests." (WILD APPLAUSE, CHANT OF "U.S.A! U.S.A!")

Finally—and this is Me speaking for Myself now—I want to say to the meek: Once we finally get rid of the death tax, you're not inheriting anything. Not while you're meek, so buck up. (CHEERS) And that goes double for you peacemakers. (LAUGHTER) Good night and Dad bless America. (CHEERS, WILD APPLAUSE)

Jesus gives pointers to local sheep ranchers after the fundraiser

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Saint Izaak of the Brooks

Belatedly thumbing through some magazines that arrived earlier this year, I came across the following item in the April 2005 issue of Fly Rod & Reel:

Here at FR&R headquarters, we get a lot of off-the-wall e-mails. But by far the strangest in a long time arrived recently and announced an effort to name Izaak Walton, author of the 1653 angling tome The Compleat Angler, as a saint in the Episcopal Church.

We asked the same question you're likely asking yourself: C'mon, a fly-fisher as a saint?

Sure St. Peter and St. James and the rest were all fisherman, but they left angling for a higher calling. Izaak Walton was just an English tailor and biographer who wrote a book about fishing and that's pretty much it, right?

Well, not exactly. Spearheading the effort to "elevate" Walton to sainthood is Reverend Jeremy Lucas of St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Athens, [Alabama]. Rev. Lucas informs us that Walton represents a philosophy of pastoral simplicity and grace that is often forgotten in this bustling and busy age.

"[Walton] took up fishing as a contemplative practice that had nothing to do with how much money you could make from it," Lucas says. "I feel Izaak is saying: You can go out and go fishing on a day that is perfectly fine to work and be fine. Relax."

OK, you might be saying to yourself, but will this help me catch more fish? Say, I'm getting skunked, for instance. Can I send a prayer to Walton, who then relays it to the Big Guy and get the fish biting?

Not quite, according to Lucas. Episcopalian saints don't have the same intercessory role that saints in the Catholic Church occupy. Lucas has already submitted his proposal to the committee that approves candidates for sainthood, but a final decision on Walton's elevation won't be handed down until the next Episcopal Convention in 2006. So Lucas has about a year to campaign for his candidate.

He is hopeful that angling-minded Episcopalians will help him get Walton named to the Calendar of Saints. "This is light-hearted, but nonetheless serious," Lucas says. "We're trying to lift up someone who has a good attitude about the world."

Interested Episcopalians can contact Rev. Jeremy Lucas at 256-232-3541 and

The Izaak Walton window in Winchester Cathedral

(Are you paying attention, Mrs. P?)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Not of God

Much as I (along with most UUs) dislike some of the things that pass for normal in the conservative Christian universe, I'm not often the first to condemn them. Part of this reluctance comes from a genuine belief in the UU nostrum that we all apprehend truth in our own individual fashion -- even Christian conservatives. However, when I saw this on Yahoo! News this morning, I thought it deserved an exception. This man truly blasphemes his pulpit. His flock should abandon him.

Televangelist Calls for Chavez' Death

14 minutes ago

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's "The 700 Club."

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush, accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous.

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Robertson, 75, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, accused the United States of failing to act when Chavez was briefly overthrown in 2002.

Electronic pages and a message to a Robertson spokeswoman were not immediately returned Monday evening.

Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporter and a major supplier of oil to the United States. The CIA estimates that U.S. markets absorb almost 59 percent of Venezuela's total exports.

Venezuela's government has demanded in the past that the United States crack down on Cuban and Venezuelan "terrorists" in Florida who they say are conspiring against Chavez.

Robertson has made controversial statements in the past. In October 2003, he suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to "kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Same Sex Swans Spoon, Swoon

According to a story in today's Boston Globe, the cute swan couple in Boston's Public Garden, known affectionately to tourists as "Romeo and Juliet", actually consists of two females.

Some observers have expressed shock and alarm, but more sanguine types calmly shrug and note the proximity of the Arlington Street Church.

I suppose I'm in the not-so-surprised camp. After all, if you were "Romeo and Juliet", wouldn't you feel right at home in the neighborhood too?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

J&C, Summer Absence Edition

Please pray or send positive energy or whatever it is you do for fellow UUs Dana Reeve (the widow of the late actor Christopher Reeve) and her 13-year-old son Will. She announced to the press today that she is being treated for lung cancer.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Reflections on Montana

The Fausto family is back home from a family reunion plus some extra days in Montana.

As I told PeaceBang before I left, my grandfather was the oldest of ten kids on a farm in southern Indiana. He originally wanted to be a Methodist minister, but then he went to college and ended up on the Columbia U. Teachers College faculty with John Dewey and Sophia Fahs, where he helped found the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and dabbled in Ethical Culture and Baha'i. My mother, who attended Riverside Church's Sunday School, remembers Dewey coming over for dinner reasonably often. (You might not guess it from my blog, but if you ask me something about humanism, chances are I grew up already knowing it, although many of such ideas usually attributed to others in broader society were credited to my grandfather in my family.) Harry Fosdick would come over too, once in a while.

In contrast, three of my granddad's brothers and sisters went to Montana instead of college to get some of the free farmland Uncle Sam was still giving away, and they kept the old-time religion free of all that pointy-headed, citified corruption. Glory! They were also just as prolific as my granddad's parents had been, and so were their kids, and now there are a couple hundred of them out there, which must be about half the population of the state. They rented out a Bible camp on Flathead Lake for the reunion. (Yes, Flathead. No unkind wisecracks, please.) We had our choice of Cabin 7, adorned with "The Lord is my Rock and Shield", or Cabin 6, adorned with "Christ is King!" and "Pray without Ceasing!" Feeling a bit travel-weary rather than effusive, we chose the rock and shield.

Haven't had time to piece together everything I saw into some kind of unified whole, but here are some random observations:

Bozeman has no significant economic base, but it's booming. Real estate prices are going through the roof. It could be the next Jackson Hole.

While we were staying in Bozeman, we felt an earthquake.

The state, or at least its mountainous western half, is drop-dead gorgeous.

The place is huge, and empty. Montana is the fourth largest state by land area, but has a population of less than a million people.

They are obsessed with the fact that Lewis and Clark passed through 200 years ago on their way to somewhere else and back.

I got the opportunity to catch fish in two of North America's trout meccas, the Madison and Yellowstone Rivers.

The culture is plain, honest, and unbelievably (to a city slicker) self-reliant. They really are still homesteaders at heart. Among the old-timers and their descendants (as opposed to the newcomers), material acquisitiveness is not important. As a result, the dichotomy between the impecunious natives (both white and aboriginal) and the well-heeled arrivistes who expect a high level of both public and private services is striking.

It turns out that I have a second cousin, once removed, who was crowned Miss Rodeo Montana in 1987. The beauty genes didn't come down through my side of the family, though.

Miss Rodeo Montana 2005 stayed in our hotel one night. I bumped into her on the elevator. I never knew they made jeans so tight or shirts and hats with so many rhinestones. She drives a really nice luxury pickup truck, with no cargo stashed in the truckbed to mar the paint job.

Faustoette and Fausto Jr. watched the children's events at the Last Chance Stampede in Helena, and concluded that rodeos are cruel to both animals and children. I thought they'd have fun, but they were horrified.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park has got to be one of the most spectacular drives in the world.

At the present rate of retreat, all the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be melted within 25 years. Sooner, if global warming accelerates.

You can see wild mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and bears up close in Glacier Park. In the case of the goats, you can even see them wandering around in the parking lot.

A lot of Montanans, including a lot of my relatives, take it for granted that the Bible is the literal utterance of God, and arrange their lives accordingly. They don't spend much time thinking about either theology or politics, but they believe in the Bible and vote Republican because Pastor tells them they should, and Pastor is a good, humble man whom the Lord uses powerfully. Now, I've been known to argue that we UUs could benefit greatly from more familiarity with and more frequent invocation of the Bible, but their uncritical credulity and innocent absolutism amazed me -- especially since all my own formative family experience was so heavily influenced by the famously humanist and agnostic John Dewey, whose career was spent knocking down educational methods that relied on rote acceptance of supposed truths and encouraging kids to think for themselves instead.

It turns out I have a second or third cousin who lives in a little town in Idaho with only a handful of people in it, and he attends a non-denominational church founded six years ago with 4,000 members and a young, charismatic pastor. Now, I don't understand this exurban non-denom megachurch phenonenon at all. What my cousin described had aspects of a cult of personality that gave me the creeps, and the word "non-denominational" seemed like a hint that this pastor didn't care for the discipline of an organizational structure that might place limits on how he led or what he taught his flock. I told my cousin that my church was founded 325 years ago and had 150 members, and he seemed embarrassed for my poor luck.

One realization that the trip taught me is that, notwithstanding the fact that I received a big slug of childhood religious training from orthodox Episcopalians, and notwithstanding my defenses of UU Christian authenticity on other blogs earlier today, I have absolutely no appreciation for what modern American evangelical conservatives believe, or why they do. However, I wonder whether that's because, despite their apparent devoutness, the religion they practice may be in fact less authentically Christian than our supposedly heretical UU tradition; they're just a lot more determined than we UUs are to retain possession of the label.

Worth Re-Posting

The following post appeared a few weeks ago on LutheranChik's "L" Word Diary, the blog of a sometime Beliefnet ally of mine. It's worth repeating here for anyone who missed it before.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Last week St. John's Reformed United Church of Christ in Middlebrook, VA, was vandalized by fire and grafitti, in apparent response to the UCC's recent affirmation of blessing same-sex marriages. Read all about it at Talk to Action; follow the link above.

If you would like to help this historic congregation with a donation and words of support, contact:

St. John's Reformed United Church of Christ
1515 Arbor Rd.
Staunton, VA 24401

If you don't think this is "your" issue, prayerfully consider Pastor Martin Niemoller's warning against complacency in the face of bigotry and oppression:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Hat tip to bls for this news item (which, unsurprisingly, did not seem to be burning up the wires in the mainstream media).