Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Where Is Religious Freedom?

Two interesting but completely unrelated stories struck my attention recently. I think these two articles serve as an interesting juxtaposition to illustrate the attitudes that we have about religion and the State in this country.

Lawmaker intends to take oath of office on Quran

War Widow Dedicates Wiccan Plaque Symbol

Now, technically, we are supposed to be a country of religious freedom where all people are free to worship, or not worship, as they please. Yet… In the first article, we have a pundit expressing outrage that a government official is taking his oath of office on a politically incorrect holy book.

The Minnesota Democrat's decision is stirring a debate among academicians and conservatives, with some saying it's appropriate to take an oath of office only on the Bible.

"Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath," radio talk-show host and author Dennis Prager wrote in a column this week. He said American Jews routinely had taken their oaths on the Bible, even though they didn't believe in the New Testament, and that if Ellison refused to do so, "don't serve in Congress."
Ahh, yes! It’s the whole “America is a Christian Nation” mythology. And it figures it’s a Conservative doing the whining. Never mind the fact that the Constitution states very clearly that there “shall be no religious tests for public office”. Never mind the Treaty of Tripoli of 1789 states that the government of the United States is in no sense established upon the Christian religion (article 11). Never mind that the voters in this Congressman’s district freely chose to elect him to represent him. No…. America is for Christians only!! Convert or leave!!!

Set aside, for a moment, that all politicians violate the pledge they take upon these holy scriptures 5-minutes after they utter their oaths, but hey…. If this guy is Muslim, then what value would it have for him to swear upon a Christian bible that means little to him? At least this guy is making a better show that the oath he plans to violate means something to him.

In the second article… We have the U.S. government actively working to suppress the religious identity of one of its cannon fodder. A soldier gives his life in the pursuit of a political pipe-dream, and the government throws an additional slap in the face to him and his family by refusing to acknowledging his spirituality. Well, he served his purpose to the war machine, so why bother, right? He should just be lucky to get a flag draped coffin…which of course, GW Bush would rather we didn’t look at.

Of course, the funny thing is, if you listen to myopic Conservatives like Speedothebrief over at the Conservatorium of Collectivism , who routinely blogs about the government conspiracy to squash Christianity, you’d think that our right-wing friends would grasp that Big Government is a threat to EVERYONE’S religious beliefs. Instead, they worry about how to maintain Christian hegemony over society, and keeping competing religious under the boot of the State. Well, no one ever accused of Conservatives of being rational, nor principled.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stranger In A Strange Land, RIP?

One of my favorite bloggers seems to have gone missing. Stranger in a Strange Land appears to be a dead link. Maybe the blog was deleted. Maybe Homeland Security hauled her off to Gitmo for being subversive. Who knows?

If anyone knows what became of Stranger, let me know. I hope she hasn't left the blogsphere entirely.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Review: Brave New World

I recently read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. I thought, hey! Here's a classic novel that paints a dystopian vision of the future, which may have startling implications for the present.

Not so much. What a snoozer.

Anyway, I wrote a short review of it on Epinions.com.

I read this book because it has always been hailed as a classic novel depicting some of the more ominous trends of “progress”. Like the aforementioned 1984, one often hears references to concepts and themes depicted in this book, and when one looks at policies that are being pursued by our government - for example, the rampant Ritalin fetish the education system has to drug kids into a pliant, sheeplike state of submission - the themes in the book come starkly into focus. The actual reading of it, however, is a different story. It’s incredibly disjointed and random. There is no real “plot” per se. As the book progresses, the book shifts focus to different characters, places and storyline in a seemingly haphazard way. The characters just seem to be vaguely disguised caricatures. Perhaps there is a certain irony here, as the Brave New World is rather chaotic and disjointed. The book, however, comes off as nihilistic.