Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In defense of Pat Robertson

(That's certainly not how I ever envisioned titling a blog post.) Anyway, the blogosphere is all a-twitter about Pat Robertson and his latest comments about the recent earthquake in Haiti and devil-worship. You've probably hear what he said, if not, it's at the link. I'm not going to summarize it here. Robertson was referring to the possibly-apocryphal Vodou ceremony in 1791 that kicked off the Haitian Revolution. Here's one description of it:

...the slaves held a large meeting to draw up a final plan for a general revolt.... Before they separated, they held amidst a violent rainstorm an impressive ceremony, so as to solemnize the undertakings they made. While the storm raged and lightning shot across the sky, a tall black woman appeared suddenly in the center of the gathering.... A black pig was then dragged in front of her and she split it open with her knife. The animal’s blood was collected in a wooden bowl and served still foaming to each delegate. At a signal from the priestess, they all threw themselves on their knees and swore blindly to obey the orders of Boukman, who had been proclaimed the supreme chief of the rebellion.

The blogosphere has erupted in condemnation of Robertson. Basically everyone (e.g. Al Sharpton) is calling him a horrible person and not a real Christian. There was this comment left on the Facebook status update of a former classmate of mine / now Presbyterian-minister:

(Aside: that's a tragic and horrible story, and I hope for the best.)

I can't help but be confused about the source of this outrage against Robertson, especially by people that claim to be Christians. Eight out of ten Americans believe in God. Roughly two-thirds believe in angels and the devil; I would assume a similar proportion believe in demons. Fully a third of American believe in witches. The Catholic Church has a category of priests that specialize in performing rituals to cast demonic spirits out of people. (The Church refuses to say how many exorcisms it performs each year.)

So why is it so hard to believe that a Haitian ritual that involved animal sacrifice and the drinking of blood wasn't demonic? If you want to believe in angels, there's a flip side to that coin, too.

All the people condemning Roberton seem to be of the mindset that God couldn't have been behind an even that has caused such suffering. Which makes me wonder: have these people even read the Bible? God sent a plague upon Egypt that killed the first born male child of every family in Egypt -- including the cattle -- so that Moses could lead the Jews out of Egypt into the wilderness. The number of people killed in the Haitian earthquake is probably a drop in the bucket compared to the number that died when God drowned every living person on Earth except for Noah's family. Turning to the New Testament, I'd like to point out that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, foretold in Revelation, are not named Kittens, Puppies, Flowers, and Candy. God is more than happy to slaughter people by the bucketload when it suits His mysterious ways.

Obviously, I'm not saying that the Haitian earthquake was a punishment from God. Angels were no more responsible for this earthquake than were the Aesir. Robertson's comments were heartless and cruel; the man's a pig, and I've been saying that for years. I'm just saying that there's nothing un-Christian about the notion that God sent a natural disaster to punish the wicked -- or even just innocent bystanders.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This is why Americans are stupid

On my latest trip down South, I was listening to the radio one weekend morning, and found this rather depressing:

Radio stations with religious programming:10
Radio stations with Weekend Edition or some other news:0

This is why as recently as 2008 Sarah Palin still believed Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11

Friday, January 01, 2010

Turd Marriage

Karl Rove just got divorced. Again. His first traditional marriage lasted three years. This divorce ends his second traditional marriage. Darth Rove is only an apprentice, though. The master being Newt Gingrich, who values traditional marriage so much that, not only has he had three of them, but marries the mistress with which he's cheating on his current wife. It's more efficient that way.

Rove is, of course, the mastermind behind using the spectre of gay marriage (ooh, scary) to motovate people to get out and vote Republican during Bush II's election campaigns. For actual commentary, I must simply yield to Glenzilla:

There's debate and dispute among various Christian theologians and sects over whether divorce and re-marriage are permissible and, if so, under what circumstances. But what is clear is that the attribute of permanence is every bit as much of a part of "traditional marriage" as the need for a man and a women -- hence, the vow before God of "till death do us part" and "that which God has brought together, let no man put asunder." The concept of "no-fault" divorce is certainly repugnant to most Christian and traditional understandings of marriage. Yet those like Rove who have devoted endless efforts to barring gay citizens from marrying on the ground that our laws must enshrine Christian concepts of "traditional marriage" continuously take advantage of laws that enable them to end their own marriages on a whim, and even enter new marriages with their so-called "second, third and fourth wives," which only seems to intensify their "traditional marriage" preaching.

I've long thought that the solution to the cheap, cost-free moralizing that leads very upstanding people like Karl Rove to want to ban same-sex marriages (which they don't want to enter into themselves, and thus cost them nothing) is to have those same "principles" apply consistently to all marriage laws. If Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and their friends and followers actually were required by law to stay married to their wives -- the way that "traditional marriage" was generally supposed to work -- the movement to have our secular laws conform to "traditional marriage" principles would almost certainly die a quick, quiet and well-deserved death.

Rove's spokesperson ended the announcement about the divorce with, "There will be no further comment and the family requests that its privacy be respected." There is some serious chutzpah in a man that made judging other people's personal lives a mainstay of right-wing politics demanding privacy for his own.