Dec 13, 2010

Where do angels come from?

Now that Christmas is rapidly approaching, it's time for the touchy feely made-for-TV movies about Angels and Christmas Holiday Spirit. The major networks air at least one of them every year, and I have a few on tape that I've popped in recently to enjoy while I did housework or crafts. Except, I found myself not really enjoying them, which I thought was strange because I have enjoyed them many times before.  I'll take this as a sign of spiritual growth and maturation, because I discovered that the vague, diluted spirituality of this programs really grated on me. 

I've watched a made-for-TVer recently that I can use to illustrate my point here: Three Days

Three Days is a sappy flick about a young married couple who have come to a dry spot in their marriage. The husband, Andrew, is totally absorbed in his work and more willing to entertain his "assistant" than his lonely wife, Beth. It's Christmas time, and he blows off the plans Beth made in order to fly to Chicago for a quick business trip. Though he technically doesn't have an affair while on this trip (he gets cold feet and backs out at the last minute) Beth thinks he has because when she called his room the "assistant" answered. When Andrew returns home, Beth confronts him, then storms out of the home into the cold midnight. He goes go after her and finds her just in time to see her hit by a speeding car as she tries to rescue a neighbor's dog. She dies at the hospital. 

When Andrew attempts to return home that night, he can't get in. His key won't fit. Mysteriously, there is a locksmith's shop across the street that was never there before. This is how he meets the angel, Lionel. Don't worry that Lionel has dreadocks, he's actually pretty cool. The gist of the story is that Lionel gives Andrew three more days with Beth - days in which he is supposed to prove to her that he loves her, so that she can die with a peaceful heart. 

Lionel says that Andrew's prayer has been answered. Andrew isn't even aware that he had prayed. So who is it that is ultimately granting Lionel the power to turn the clock back three days and let some goofy guy try again? Must be the Cosmos, because Lionel never says anything about God. 

So when Beth is alive again the next morning, having no memory of dying, Andrew decides to spend every minute with her and shower her with gifts to prove his love. He really just succeeds in creeping her out - to the point that she breaks down in tears. It's ok, Lionel materializes from time to time to give Andrew hints. Usually it ends with an argument in which Andrew states that he is not going to let Beth die on Christmas Eve. Lionel's response? "If Beth skips her date with Destiny the whole cosmic balance is thrown out of whack."

It gets worse:
Lionel: "Life isn't a bunch of marbles bouncing around." 
Andrew: "Where did you learn that?" 
Lionel: "Angel Metaphysics - top of my class." 
He also quotes fortune cookies. Scripture? Not so much. Do you think an angel could have learned anything from God at some point?

What does Beth think about angels and miracles? Well, she "would like to believe that there are angels, that there's another side, a spiritual side." That's it, and that's sad. Andrew doesn't even tell her that there is a spiritual side and that's he's met an angel. She wouldn't believe him. 

It all boils down to Lionel eventually hinting that if Andrew gives Beth the right gift, then she might be able to live beyond Christmas Eve. It takes Andrew a while to figure it out. He tries giving her fancy snow globes and consents to finally starting a family, but the moment still arrives when Beth goes out the door and it supernaturally locks behind her. Lionel tells Andrew that the gift he has been hinting about all along is the gift of life, at which point the door is released and Andrew is able to push Beth out of the way of the car and get hit himself. 

Well, because it's Christmas and Andrew has done the right thing, Lionel makes a grand exception and allows Andrew to come back to life. Now Andrew and Beth can continue on together knowing that some nice angel named Lionel rearranged the Cosmos and Destiny a little for them. They name their baby Lionel. How cute. 

But it does pull at your heartstrings, and that's why these movies are made year after year. If you don't think about it too hard, it's guiltless watching. They are clean, they have positive messages of hope and love, and they have angels in them, so as Christians we somehow feel vindicated in watching them. But are these movies really doing us any favors? Are we doing ourselves any favors by watching them? If we use it as an opportunity to do some critical thinking and sharpen our faith, yes, but otherwise, I say no. 

If we don't challenge the ideas in Three Days, what do we learn from it?

Well, if we're like Beth, we learn nothing at all, because she doesn't even know what happened. If we're like Andrew, we learn that we should love our spouses, and that there are angels roaming around who can give you a second chance. On a positive note, the object lesson of Andrew giving his life for Beth's is very valuable and could have hit a home run for a salvation illustration. Too bad it's not used in that way. 

But as watchers we are learning more than that because our subconscious is involved, and the subconscious is prone to erosion. Eventually we could end up thinking of angels as really cool people who went to college in heaven and show up to grant miracles to faithless people who are so vague they would only like to believe that there is a spiritual side. When the angels quote fortune cookies as their spiritual advice, it is only too clear that we have made angels in our own image, for our own purposes. In cases like this one, the angels are in man's image, and God has no image at all. 

I don't deny that angels work in human lives from time to time, but I don't know how often and to what extent. That is a theological discussion for another day, and only God really knows anyhow. I do think that if we made our angels in the image God gave them, they wouldn't forget to mention God. It seems to me that they might even say something about Christ and salvation while they were at it. I don't expect to ever see that in a movie, though.

At least Lionel ends the film by saying, "Merry Christmas!"

Dec 6, 2010

Happy Holidays! (which ones?)

I watched the Barefoot Contessa with my grandmother today on the Food Network. It was a "holiday" episode with hot chocolate and other Christmas-y recipes. Every time she added cinnamon to a recipe, she smelled it and said gleefully, "this smells so Holiday-ish." After hearing this several times I found myself exasperated. 

"Why don't you just go ahead and say Christmas?" I challenged aloud. "Saying that this smells like the Holidays doesn't really make sense!"

Actually, come to think about it - there isn't much that makes sense about the phrase "Happy Holidays." I understand why people say it. There are a few different cultures observing different holidays at this time of year. The vast majority of the world celebrates Christmas, but there are sizable chunks observing Hannukah and Kwanzaa. Not wanting to offend those celebrating either of the latter, or those bitter few who celebrate nothing, many people say, "Happy Holidays." 

Without getting in to a discussion political correctness, though, I want to address what else is ridiculous about the phrase.

First, why don't we use this phrase year round? There is always some holiday coming up - why don't we go about constantly with "Happy Holidays" on our lips?

The fact that we don't raises an interesting point; isn't it obvious that this season is about Christmas? But, moving right along...

Second, it makes absolutely no sense to say that something "smells like the Holidays." I ask you, Contessa, of which Holiday does it smell? 
Memorial Day?
Columbus Day?
Hopefully not Groundhog's Day! 
How are we to know that this is a good smell she is sucking in?

If she were to say Christmas, then - aha! - I understand the smell and the emotions that come with it. The smell of the Holidays? That's a bit vague for me.

Wouldn't the world make more sense if we said what we meant?

Nov 29, 2010

Who cares if you disagree...

I have here an article, snipped from USA Today's Monday, November 15th edition. It is an article by David Campbell and Robert Putnam in promotion of their new book, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. The book, which is a result of years of study, is  meant to be an exhaustive examination of data that supposedly reveals how religion affects our society. This article is a synopsis, meant to whet your appetite, of what they wrote in that book. 

Results of a study

They say that their "discoveries" provide fodder for both those who defend religion and those who attack it. In defense of religion, they say, is that religious Americans are "better neighbors" than the faithless. The bad news for religion? Religious Americans "are somewhat less tolerant of free speech and dissent." 

Five years of exhaustive study and they get this? 

The article goes on to explain that the religious make better neighbors because they are more involved: they are more likely to volunteer their time and donate their money, both to religious and secular causes. On the "other hand," they are less likely to respond that "someone should be allowed to give a speech defending Osama bin Laden or al-Queda," among other things. They are therefore concluded to be less tolerant.

As you might imagine, we are in no way supposed to believe that this is a good thing. To be less tolerant than the secular American? Goodness, no! We've heard this word thrown around for years, usually aimed at Conservative and religious Americans like a spear. To quote The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." That's because America has long misunderstood what "tolerance" means. 

What is tolerance?

The word "tolerance," which once meant that you could live in peace with people different from yourself and respectfully agree to disagree, has been co-opted by those whose agenda is to mislead those who don't know any better. The result is that many Americans, among them hoards of unsuspecting Christians, have been conditioned to believe that having tolerance means accepting every Tom, Dick, and Harry's version of morality as absolute truth (regardless of how contradictory it is to the next guy's) and keeping your mouth shut about it. It has become the spoiled ingredient in our otherwise healthy recipe, an absurdity that trivializes our society, cripples our effectiveness, and negates our faith. 

I look on it as a grand program to re-sculpt and control our national character by applying pressure to free speech here and attacking the notion of absolute truth there. Practice makes perfect, and the brain eventually loses the pathways it doesn't use - when Americans  are no longer used to intellectually defending the ideals of Truth and Morality in absolute terms, they eventually become incapable of doing so, and even unaware that they need to. In short, their minds become perfect sheep to the bludgeoning stick that controls them: the media, the radical leftists, the atheists, the rabidly anti-religious. If given free reign, this bludgeoning stick would thrash into unconsciousness every one of us who looks at another's way of life or statement of belief and says, "that's wrong."  

And isn't that a little oxymoronic? I mean, haven't you ever noticed that those who rant about tolerance and let off curse-ridden tirades about conservatives and religious Americans invariably call them names, taunt them, make fun of them, persecute them, and in all ways spew hate at them - in the name of tolerance? How do they pull that off? 

Who among us is a good example of tolerance?

From the cast of those who endlessly and hyperactively harp on tolerance and the Right's so-called lack of it, I have chosen a few examples of the tolerance we are all expected to put in practice - except not really, because if we did we would all be prosecuted for hate crimes.

Keith Olbermann 
        On Michelle Malkin
"...thanks to the total mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk, fascistic hatred, without which Michelle Malkin would just be a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it."
        On Scott Brown:
"In short, in Scott Brown we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against woman and against politicians with whom he disagrees. In any other time in our history, this man would have been laughed off the stage as unqualified and a disaster in the making by the most conservative of conservatives. Instead, the commonwealth of Massachusetts is close to sending this bad joke to the Senate of the United States." 
         On the Tea Party:

I wonder if he said those things because these people disagree with him. If only we could learn such tolerance. 

Well, let's try another one.

Bill Maher

No, I don't think we're getting any warmer. 
*Side note - if you are familiar with Maher you know that he is a zealous anti-religion activist, who, among other things, explicitly demands the death of all religion in the name of human good. This is a very good article written in response to his documentary "Religulous," in which Maher ruthlessly ridiculed people of faith. It is an interesting article and has bearing on this discussion.

Whoopi and Joy from The View, or, The View in general

When the argument gets heated, it is Whoopi and Joy who have physical conniption fits and then storm out of the room because they don't like what O'Reilly has to say. The very topic of disagreement involves their demand for ever-greater tolerance.

A conclusion about tolerance

One of the sad notes in this grating song about tolerance is that it robs true tolerance of its rightful respect and beauty. We as Christians need to understand how tolerance works into our Christian faith and our lives as Christ's servants. To do that is to recognize that any Christian who says, in the name of tolerance, "I wouldn't live my life that way because I think it is sinful, but I'm not saying that my faith is right for you. You can do whatever you want," is missing the point and buying into the world's lies. 

Carrie Prejean, the famous Miss California said:
"Well I think its great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you very much.”
She wasn't doing Christianity or religious America any real favors by trying to be nice and inoffensive. To go so far as to say that you think that you believe is bending over backwards to qualify the statement as nothing more than a very personal fancy, almost as inconsequential as a passing whim that shouldn't be taken seriously. And it didn't even save her the fire. They still said she was a bigot.

Had she stood up and strongly advocated Christ's truth, I would have pointed her out as a good example, but the truth is that she more aptly illustrates how Christians go wrong.

Christ set the standard for how we ought to treat people: with love, with humility, with self-sacrifice and generosity. He also set the standard for how to treat lies, deceit, and sin. Christ never persecuted or acted in a hateful manner toward a human being, but he also never tolerated any of these trespasses against his father. Remember, Christ did not come to unite us all under a wishy-washy, touchy-feely standard of tolerance, but to divide us under the righteous standard of his Father. Our duty on Earth is not to seek what he did not desire, but to defend righteousness and work toward its furtherance here. 

To do that will be to have the bludgeoning stick constantly on your back, to be spit on, persecuted and hated. Much like Christ was treated. He told us it was coming. 

In closing I will explain why I called this post what I did. While I was formulating this little essay, it occurred to me that this song, which is currently quite popular, sums up many an individual's attitude toward tolerance. 

On the one hand it stresses that disagreement may not be the big deal it is cracked up to be, and for that I give it kudos. Asserting an opinion strongly is almost always better than to be wishy-washy. My tae kwon do instructor told me that if I made a mistake, I should make it strong. Someone else told us to either be hot or cold, but not lukewarm.

On the other hand, this seems to renew the indictment of Christians or anyone else who would say that people should not live in sin. "How dare you tell me who to be? Who made you...

 ..."King of Anything" by Sara Bareilles

Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table
While I look outside
So many things I’d say if only I were able
But I just keep quiet and count the cars that pass by

You’ve got opinions, man
We’re all entitled to ‘em, but I never asked
So let me thank you for your time, and try not to waste anymore of mine
And get out of here fast

I hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning
There’s no one here to save
Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

You sound so innocent, all full of good intent
Swear you know best
But you expect me to jump up on board with you
And ride off into your delusional sunset

I’m not the one who’s lost with no direction
But you’ll never see
You’re so busy making maps with my name on them in all caps
You got the talking down, just not the listening

And who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

All my life I’ve tried to make everybody happy
While I just hurt and hide
Waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Let me hold your crown, babe.

Food for thought. 

Nov 24, 2010

Addendum to "THANKSGIVING"

A word from one of the greatest Presidents in American history.

Addendum to "Are you watching?"

My friend Jason, the one who tipped me off on the polar bear commercial below, also sent me this picture of a poster he came across on the job. I am sensing a trend here...

Nov 23, 2010


12 Steps to a better America, starting with an attitude of THANKSGIVING:

Thank God for our men and women in uniform, especially those serving overseas: God Bless you, we are grateful for you.
Hold your elected officials accountable. Never leave them unattended.

Any time you lose hope or become discouraged, remember that past American Patriots have done great things in worse times.
Now is the time to praise God abundantly.
Keep toiling to make this country great, even when we have won a battle. The war is not yet over.
Start every day as if it's your last.
Give generously of your time and your smiles.
Instill in your children an appreciation for beauty, truth, and virtue.
Visit a monument or memorial.
Instigate a discussion of the finer things.
Notice a need and meet it.
Go to and get involved!

Nov 22, 2010

Are you watching?

This post contains some frank discussion and videos that, while apparently appropriate for prime-time television, might make you feel sick.

We don't typically watch much TV at my house, but this Sunday we tuned into the Colts/Patriots and Giants/Eagles games. Besides seeing both Manning brothers bite the dust, we got an earful and eyeful of commercials. And those were just the ones we didn't mute because we were distracted.

Now, we usually mute commercials because they are generally so loud, obnoxious, and, these days, objectionable. Below is a sampling of about four of the worst ones we saw last evening. They range from plain old dumb to suggestive to downright raunchy. 

But first is a commercial brought to my attention by my friend Jason, who saw it the other day and found it not only laughable, but intellectually offensive. It depicts a polar bear swimming away from his melting iceberg, climbing onto a beach on the Pacific coastline, and walking all the way across the continent to hug a man in NYC. The man drives a Nissan Leaf, 100% electric. 

As Jason observed about its absurdity: if the bear can live in the continental United States, as he does quite aptly in this commercial, what does it matter if the iceberg melts? Similarly, how can a wild animal know, and why would it care, what kind of car this man drives? It's looking for its next meal!

Beyond this, as long as 30,000+ scientists maintain that global warming is a scam, why should we accept the premise that the iceberg is melting in the first place?

Again, as Jason astutely remarked, Nissan is clearly attempting to pull at the strings of the bleeding hearts in order to sell overpriced, under-proven (or not at all proven), unreliable technology. If you buy this car, it will make you feel good. At least, when you get stranded because no one ever thought out all of the kinks involved with this technology, at least you can be reminded that you did something to keep those world-trekking polar bears from being stranded.

Next we have a commercial that my husband challenged while studying for an upcoming exam. I was in the pantry doing some reorganization. Hearing him chuckle, I asked what it was about. He said that the claim made by the commercial is flatly contradicted by the basic laws of physics. 

The suggestion is that the braking force on a roller coaster could be converted into electricity and used to power the coaster on its next run (a system Toyota has apparently incorporated into some of its new vehicles). The problem is that, in such a situation as this one, you will never get as much energy out of the coaster as you put into it, due to friction. So, while a nice idea, it wouldn't be able to make an amusement park self-sustaining. Perhaps combined with solar power and other resources the idea could come together, but not as simply and neatly as the commercial suggests.

I'm all for clean energy and finding innovative ways to meet our power needs, but I'm not on the bandwagon bound for blindly promoting "green energy" at the cost of common sense and realism. This commercial simply amounts to another attempt to goad the American public into investing its hopes, dreams, and hard-earned cash into this kind of technology. Beyond this, it is a contribution to the "cult of green" and the worship of mother earth. Beware that we replace faith in God with devotion to snails and polar bears.

Next up: a commercial that disarmingly highlights what the focus of our day-to-day entertainment has become. Watch.

So, what did you think was going to happen there in the beginning? What does that say about what we have been subconsciously conditioned to expect from something as casual as a 30 second TV commercial? And why do we need to see people licking their fingers? Gross.

If you're not sure where I'm headed with this, the next commercial ought to give you a good idea. 

What a... funny... way to sell hamburgers.

But, hey, that's small fries (pun not intended) compared to the next one, which juxtapositions innocent babies with sexual excitement over documentary depictions of animals mating. Or am I wrong?

To say that this is sick is an understatement by my estimation. Haven't we reached a pinnacle of immorality and pervertedness when we are willing to sully the innocence of babies in such a gratuitous way? Oh, here's an adorable little baby who has a naughty little internet habit revolving around wildebeest. Ha. Ha. Ha. Can you send me the link?

If you can even find a television show worth watching, might I suggest that you do your best to avoid the commercials?

Nov 18, 2010

Is Heaven here on earth?

One of my favorite musicians is Tracy Chapman, that poet of compassion and craftsman of earthy music who I am pretty sure has had the same dreads for the past twenty years. She is probably one of if not the very first artists I've ever danced to (in my mother's arms as a baby). I love the way she can bend her voice and mold a phrase of melody, but I do not agree with her world view. 

To sum up, Chapman's philosophy seems to be a New Age-y kind of humanism. A do-good, cultivate your karma, have love in your hearts, protect Mother Earth kind of man-centered philosophy. In my estimation, it is not especially what this philosophy is made of that is problematic, but what it lacks. The mission to do good and be loving is one we should all keep in our hearts, and it should also be a priority to take good care of the beautiful planet on which we live (as long as we don't begin to worship it). 

More troublesome than Chapman's implied pantheism, though, is that she doesn't recognize one of the most important truths on which right philosophy is built: that humankind is inherently flawed. That the human race is a depraved, fallen, and ultimately doomed population in need of a supernatural Saviour.  

So when I had my iPod on shuffle today, and this song came on, it started my wheels turning on these things again, which is one of the reasons why I keep it in my queue. While I am a strong believer that we ought to be discriminatory and deliberate about the content of the music we listen to, I think this song is of use to me because it reminds me not only to pay attention to what I am listening to, but to remind me of the Truth.

Here are the lyrics. My reactions are interspersed in red.

Heaven's Here On Earth
by Tracy Chapman

You can look (but you won't find?) to the stars in search of the answers
Look for God and life on distant planets
Have your faith in the ever after
While each of us holds inside the map to the labyrinth (self-esteem boost!)
And heaven's here on earth (really? where?)

We are the spirit the collective conscience (oh boy)
We create the pain and the suffering and the beauty in this world (that is true, but probably not in the sense she means it. We are not the authors of either suffering or beauty, but the agents)
Heaven's here on earth

In our faith in humankind (be careful)
In our respect for what is earthly ("Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" -Col. 3:2)
In our unfaltering belief in peace and love and understanding (what about our unfaltering believe in the peace, love, and understanding of God? Apart from Him they have no power.)

I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise
Of ordinary people leading ordinary lives
Filled with love, compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice
Heaven's in our hearts (God works through people, but there is no Heaven in the human heart by a long shot. The human heart is sinful and imperfect. If it weren't we wouldn't have to be looked at naked and groped in the airports)

In our faith in humankind
In our respect for what is earthly
In our unfaltering belief in peace and love and understanding

Look around
Believe in what you see
The k(K)ingdom is at hand (Right!)
The promised land is at your feet
We can and will become what we aspire to be (we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, but I don't have much enthusiasm for what a lot of people aspire to be)
If Heaven's here on earth

If we have faith in humankind
And respect for what is earthly
And an unfaltering belief that truth is divinity
And heaven's here on earth

I've seen spirits
I've met angels
I've touched creations beautiful and wondrous
I've been places where I question all I think I know
But I believe, I believe, I believe this could be heaven (a hope against all reason, unfortunately)

We are born inside the gates with the power to create life
And to take it away
The world is our temple (pantheism)
The world is our church (more pantheism)
Heaven's here on earth

If we have faith in humankind
And respect for what is earthly
And an unfaltering belief
In peace and love and understanding
This could be heaven here on earth (why can't we all just get along)

So the tone of this is quite cheery and hopeful and uplifting, like a big ra-ra "let's go out and heal the world by having faith in humankind" kind of pep talk. But it's actually quite empty in substance. How long have we been hearing this message? And what do we have now? A world scarier, darker, more evil than it has ever been before. I'm not holding out much hope for humankind on this one. I'd much rather see people recognizing their own incapabilities and looking to the all-powerful for the solution. It is probably one of the easiest decisions, and certainly the most attractive, that can ever be made in this life. When so much of eternal significance hangs in the balance, why do we insist on doing it ourselves?

Interestingly enough, if you listen carefully beyond the lyrics to the music, you might hear what I detect: a melancholy note of foreboding.

Incidentally, and also very interesting, I believe that Tracy Chapman's face is one of the most open, serenely soul-beautiful faces I have ever seen. Watch the video below.

Nov 17, 2010

And how would you like your personal dignity violated today?

I have listened with great interest over the past few days as the heat over the new TSA regulations and use of AIT (Advanced Imaging Technology) has intensified. From the man who warned an agent not to touch his "junk" and was subsequently thrown out of the airport, to the highly distressed three year old child who was "patted down," to the numerous men and women who claim to have been groped in their groin/breast/buttock areas, both on top of and underneath clothing, countless stories of abuse have now surfaced.

We may expect many more in the weeks to come, and I expect that something drastic will come of it all before Christmas. Something's gotta give, as they say. 

But while the American people protest, vocally and physically, the government continues to insist not only that the technology is not harmful (and there is some controversy surrounding that aspect of it), but that most Americans actually support the new measures. Wait, the government trying to marginalize mainstream Americans by presenting data that paints them as a whacked-out fringe element? That doesn't sound familiar at all.  So, aside from all of the propaganda on TSA's website, what else are federal officials saying about the situation?

Well, for one we have the so-called guardian of homeland security, Janet Napolitano (aka Crazy Lady), saying:

"It's all about security... It's all about everybody recognising their role."

So, my whacked-out fringe element friends, what is your role? Is it to become an unpaid nude model or putty in the government's hands?

I, for one, have had to think about it seriously because I will be flying soon. Now, while there is no guarantee that I will be "randomly" selected to go through a backscatter or millimeter wave, it is a likely enough scenario that I need to be prepared for it. Finding totally repugnant the idea that some stranger, probably a man, would be holed away somewhere looking a graphic picture of my body, I am forced to consider the "pat down." Although I am not happy with the idea of some other stranger putting their hands on me and patting various places I consider private, at least that person would be a woman, and I would have face-to-face knowledge of the situation and therefore more control over it. Remember, pictures once taken are easily kept!

My husband, on the other hand, is more comfortable with the idea of some dude seeing him naked than he is with the idea of some dude feeling him up. That makes sense. Morally, modesty is less of an issue for men than women, and culturally, men have always been more public and communal in nakedness than women (I refer to men's bathing suits, shirtless public appearances, locker rooms, and bathrooms).  

But the point is that this is an absolutely ridiculous thing to have to worry about in this country. This place was founded to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, not the land of the violated and home of the embarrassed. 

The agent that dealt with the don't-touch-my-junk man stated that the passenger gave up a lot of his rights when he bought the ticket. This is impossible under the Constitution of the United States, which protects the right of law abiding citizens to travel amongst the States. You see, if one cannot freely travel, one is not truly free. While the vast majority of Americans are willing to concede that the attacks carried out on our country warrant serious security measures, there is still a line to be drawn between what is appropriately serious and what is an abuse of power. In the end, it may be up to all the conscientious and well-meaning TSA agents out there to refuse to violate the American people in this manner. After all, history has shown us that, in the end, saying that you were only following orders doesn't hold up real well in morals court.

Now, I don't mean to deny that there are plenty of people out there who don't care and don't think it's a big deal. I guess to some extent this is a matter of preference, but if you are not made personally uncomfortable by these options, then I don't fully know how to relate to you personally. You see, in my book the government never has the authority over or ownership of my body that it takes to give someone consent to touch it in this way. Only I have that right. And supporting its institutionalization for the sake of safety (and you've got to be kidding yourself if you think that the security measures implemented in this country are effective) sounds a lot like what Benjamin Franklin warned against.

"Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

If we don't have the liberty of our bodies, what liberty do we then have?

Nov 16, 2010

What's in a name?

I suppose it could be helpful for me to explain why I named the blog (im)moral republic.  I thought long and hard about it before I did, and I chose the name because a) we live in a republic b) it was founded on morality to be a beacon of morality and c) it is, on the whole much less moral than immoral these days.  The design of the title, and the title itself, reflected this thought process to me. 

The bridge behind the title could be seen to symbolize the path that leads either from morality to immorality or back vice versa. I really just chose it because I think it looks cool. 

Since I am founding the character of this blog on the words "moral" and "immoral," I should preface the ongoing stream of thought with a definition of terms, as I learned to do specifically in my sophomore year of high school. 

To quote at length, "moral" means:
of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong;ethical: moral attitudes.
expressing or conveying truths or counsel as to right conduct, as a speaker or a literary work; moralizing: a moral novel.
founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom: moral obligations.
capable of conforming to the rules of right conduct: a moral being.
conforming to the rules of right conduct (opposed to immoral): a moral man.
virtuous in sexual matters; chaste.
of, pertaining to, or acting on the mind, feelings, will, or character: moral support.
resting upon convincing grounds of probability; virtual: moral certainty.
the moral teaching or practical lesson contained in a fable, tale, experience, etc.
the embodiment or type of something.
morals, principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct.
"Immoral" is accepted as meaning generally the opposite. 

Now, all of that is like throwing a generous handful of words at a dart board in hopes that some will stick on the bullseye. Let it suffice to say then, for the purposes of the blog, that my understanding of the concept of morality rests largely on the book of Proverbs (and really the whole New Testament, and really the rest of the Bible). Of course, there will be plenty of opportunities for delving into this in greater detail later.