Entries arguing a particular point of view

A skeptic's guide to President Obama's "Nowruz Address"

{josquote}Mr. Obama's cordial message to the Islamic regime of Iran is a slap in the face to millions of Bahai's across the world.{/josquote}

On March 20, 2009 President Obama delivered an address to the Islamic Republic of Iran on the occasion of Nowruz (the Persian New Year). This bit of appeasement rubbed me the wrong way. It would take a feature-length film or perhaps a university-level course to deconstruct the absurd piece of post-modern street-theater that our President just unleashed upon us.

Instead I stuck with one dimension of criticism and focused on two or three relevant points among dozens. I didn't like President Obama's YouTube video so I made a YouTube video in response. Here it is, savor it:


A full transcript with sourcing follows:

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Boo! --- I'm B'ack.

I’m not exactly sure in what capacity I’m back, but hold on and we’ll find out. I hope to resume posting sporadic essays, and I hereby give myself permission to post tid-bits of interest as I find them. No more tyrannizing myself with the idea that only long, crisp prose is worthy of this venue.

In general the response to Baha’i the Way has been lovely, and I have been seriously impressed by the willingness of a number of my Baha’i friends to risk the read. These can be troubling waters, and, bless them, they have waded right in. One Baha’i friend recently challenged me, though, on the wisdom of Baha’i the Way, and the unintended consequence has been to revive my interest in it. There is a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon in which, as I recall, Calvin is making his face contort wildly for the amusement of Hobbes. His mother scolds, “Keep that up and your face will stay like that.” Calvin looks up hopefully. “Really?”

So...I’ve been told this blog could influence people. Opinions will vary, positive and negative, on the nature of that influence. Sway isn’t something I’m particularly expecting, but, on reflection, I realized this blog represents much of what I believe so I’m not displeased with the thought. I believe in showing up for life with your whole person—body, mind, and heart. I try to do that here. If this blog were to have any influence on others I would hope that it would strengthen that in readers which seeks a more examined, creative, honest, deeply felt, open life —of faith or of no-faith.

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Christianity, Socialism, and President Obama

Roy Hilbinger

During the 2008 presidential campaign and now during the first month of President Obama's residence in the White House, the Christian Right has been warning that the president and his appointees (and, of course, a Congress dominated by the Democratic Party) are going to condemn America to God's judgement by converting the country to a "socialist" state. The implication here is that this country is supposed to be a "Christian" nation, and Christianity and socialism are incompatible enemies. But is that really true? Are Christianity and socialism so incompatible? In fact, aren't there a lot of sayings in the Bible which seem to support the socialist ideal? Let's look at this.

From the Wikipedia article on socialism:

Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating public or state ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals, with a fair or egalitarian method of compensation.

{josquote}Those Christians who claim that socialism is evil and the enemy of Christianity really need to go back and read their own scriptures.{/josquote}

The first part of that description, state ownership of production and markets, isn't approached by the Bible. It couldn't be; the way society was organized in the first century was radically different from how society is organized now, and concepts such as capitalism and socialism would have been incomprehensible then. In fact, the social and cultural structure and philosophy of the time was so different that you couldn't apply either capitalist or socialist principles to it. So naturally the Bible doesn't speak to that particular subject. However...

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Our Daily Bread: A Demon-Haunted World Order

There’s an ancient tradition in Iran of regarding some things as “ritually” unclean. Any exposure to such things can cause spiritual illness, and requires that the exposed be ritually purified. If this sounds exotic, just think of baptism or crucifixion—two Christian examples of ritual purification. Among the carriers of such contagious impurity is the infidel—the unbeliever. The tradition goes back into Zoroastrian times, and has persisted as a doctrine of Shi’a Islam and the Bahá’í Faith:

Beware! Walk not with the ungodly and seek not fellowship with him, for such companionship turneth the radiance of the heart into infernal fire.

—Bahá’u'lláh, The Persian Hidden Words

Though the Bahá’í Faith doesn’t provide a ritual for cleansing Bahá’ís after exposure to unbelievers, it definitely teaches that exposure to “the ungodly” sickens the soul. The contagion appears to be quite common, though its severity appears to depend on the degree of ungodliness of the “carrier,” being at its worst when acquired from exposure to people that Bahá’ís call “Covenant-breakers.”

Covenant-breakers are the demons of the Bahá’í Faith. I don’t think there’s anything quite like them in any other religion, though they are somewhat reminiscent of the old Zoroastrian demons of death. They are outwardly ordinary people, though it has been claimed that a very unpleasant odor precedes them wherever they go.

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No, this is not the start of a new year

Thomas Millington

I will not wish you a Happy New Year at this time because this is not the beginning of a new year.  In case you hadn't noticed we are in the middle of winter [or summer -ed.]. This is not the beginning of anything. If you have been under the delusion that a new year has begun, then I am here to tell you that you have been led astray.

For your information, in the event that it has not been perfectily obvious to you, the year begins on the first day of spring. That is March 21st on my calendar. If you believe otherwise then someone has been lying to you all your life. Wake up and smell the roses. Roses bloom in the spring, not in mid-winter. This is not springtime, the time when the earth is renewed, when all of nature is reborn and begins anew.

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