Saturday, December 08, 2007

The best Holiday special, Ever

It needs to be The Year Without a Santa....

Why you ask? Well, because it has style. And in order to have style, you need a trombone.

"Some like it hot. But I like it really hot."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Reaction to Romney

A humorous excerpt from Christopher Hitchens' review of Romney's absurd speech on Religion:

If an atheist was running against him, would Romney make nothing of the fact? His stupid unease on this point is shown by his demagogic attack on the straw man "religion of secularism," when, actually, his main and most cynical critic is a moon-faced true believer and anti-Darwin pulpit-puncher from Arkansas who doesn't seem to know the difference between being born again and born yesterday.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Speech

A Clever beginning about GHWB, his military service, and the protection of freedom.

But then, after the intro, the problems begin.

The speech rests on the dichotomy between freedom and dogmatism. Greatness develops through liberty, especially religious liberty, while damnation rests with tyranny. No big surprise here. Neither were the references with Kennedy.

He is strong when he defends his convictions:
here are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers – I will be true to them and to my beliefs.

This seems to be a point at which he distances himself from the religious voters who would not vote for him. If evangelicals may reject him for his beliefs on theology, he may reach common ground with them over his stance on following principle and tradition.

Yet, after beginning with a strategy of merger, he then follows with a strategy of division based on the paper-tiger argument of "secularism".
But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

In the beginning of his address, he invokes Kennedy; yet here, he rejects Kennedy. In his 1960 speech, Kennedy spoke of an absolute division between Church and State, which his audience would accept. Forty-six years later, Romney cannot proclaim an absolute separation because his audience would reject it. Where does this lead us?

We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders – in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'

This is a very interesting passage. He begins with the Founders, who did not place G-D on the currency or in the pledge or in Nativity scenes. The Founders did not places judges in position because of their "foundation of faith upon which the constitution rests." The constitution does not rest upon the foundation of faith. It does not rest on revelation but reason and consensus.

While Romney would reject religious tests he invokes religious tests. Romney:
Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government. No people in the history of the world have sacrificed as much for liberty.
What about the concept that liberty is a natural right based on a common human experience. No, that for Romney is not possible. It requires religion.

This religion also requires the rejection of enlightenment, which the Founding Fathers would have accepted. Well, the Founding Fathers not invoked by Romney:
I'm not sure that we fully appreciate the profound implications of our tradition of religious liberty. I have visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired ... so grand ... so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too 'enlightened' to venture inside and kneel in prayer.

Romney desires the balance of revelation and reason but too often he seems to reject reason. It is the same with his position of faith. He sees a problem with religion and extreme religion. Yet, if you are outside of religion, if you do not believe, then you do not have freedom and you can never desire or move toward freedom. Romney: "I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'"

Where does this leave Romney-

For the deeply religious, he offers those a message: Religion, in general, matters and there is good in all religions. Mitt:
I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life's blessings.
. Yet, this message should not resonate for the "true believer" because, for those people, it is not only that their beliefs matter but their specific beliefs matter. If you know and possess the truth, then that truth is specific.

For the religious but not committed: this speech glitters in banality. It rewrites history, it places everything within the bounds of religion, and it creates a symbolic enemy that would take religion away-- those damn secularists. This is a great message for those not steeped in deep belief and theology, do not care for the day-to-day word, and show up to service during Christmas and Easter. It is summed up by this quote: "we do not insist on a single strain of religion – rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith." Right, Mitt. Remember, you delivered this speech because some believe that Mormons, and to another extent, Catholics, are not Christians. That is a symphony invented on discord.

For the non-believers, you do not have a place at the table. This country is not for you. For remember, according to Bishop Mitt, "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."

For the extremists: you are dangerous. And remember, fanatics are not limited to Islam. Meaning, if make Mitt's religion a religious test for office, you are being dogmatic. And there is no place for you.

Points of Light

Does it burn GWB and his supporters that GHWB is introducing a member of a "cult?"

And that is not a shot on Mormonism.

Romney on Religion

In less than 30 minutes, Mitt Romney will be delivering a speech on his religion at the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University.

This is an interesting speech, especially to the concepts of rhetorical echoes. In 1960, Kennedy delivered a speech to the Houston Ministerial Association to defend his ability to be independent if he were President. But can Romney make the same rhetorical choice is he is choosing to seek the support of religious voters.

It is a very interesting choice to deliver this at A&M, a very conservative school. Former President George H.W. Bush will introduce him.

When Kennedy delivered his speech in 1960, he visited the Alamo before he delivered the speech. One of the most important aspects of Kennedy's speech is that during his visit to the Alamo, he noticed that the memorial did not take account of the religion of those who died. Of course, at the time, Baptists were in favor of the separation of church and state and not for the abolishment of that separation.

But how time changes.

Begin Again

The Blog is back and running, even if I am the only one posting-- to you other members of the situation.