Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Author flees judgment, not Jesus

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Mega-bestselling author Anne Rice has quit Christianity, according to her Facebook blog post.

“I quit being a Christian,” she writes. “In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life…”

What Ms. Rice objects to are not the actual teachings of Jesus, but all the judgments others have attached to his message. Jesus told his followers that God is unconditional love.

Unconditional love  means love without judgments, standards, expectations, or hooks. Unconditional love is love without any limitations. It most emphatically is not the so-called love exhibited by Christian political conservatives. 

Most of those who heard Jesus did not understand him and do not truly comprehend his message even now. Hence they insist on judging and condemning, when Jesus did no such thing, and still claim to be his followers.

Just as radical conservatives hijack and pervert Islam in the Middle East for their theocratic ends, so radical conservatives twist and distort Christianity for similar political goals in this country.

Let us hope that many others become as fed up (and as vocal about it) as Ms. Rice with the unloving, uncharitable words and deeds of the militant Christian right. There is hope yet that this nation will avoid becoming a Christian theocracy, which is the goal of far-right Christian conservatives. 

Avatar reprises ‘ugly American’ theme with high-tech twist

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

avatar.jpgDirector James Cameron’s billion-dollar, award-winning blockbuster, Avatar, bears a striking resemblance to Dances with Wolves in its basic plot. White guy from a military background encounters an indigenous population, falls in love, decides their values and way of life are superior to his, and casts his culture aside.

Of course, there are some refinements to Avatar, mostly the over-the-top technical effects that make this film possible and that are woven into the storyline. The white guy, a crippled former Marine named Jake Sully, uses an avatar, a biomechanical fictional being that is genetically engineered to be half human and half Na’vi, the inhabitants of the planet Pandora. With it he is able to walk again, breath air that is poisonous to human beings, and mingle with the natives to learn their ways.

Avatar is paradoxically plentiful and yet insufficient. The bounty consists of the powerful visual punch that this movie packs. There is so much to see in Pandora that the eyes boggle long before even half of the activity registers in the mind. Watching it non-stop on the big screen is downright exhausting. It’s as though the director does not trust his audience to be able to imagine anything for themselves. In that sense, Avatar unintentionally insults viewers even while offering them the most spectacular blend of animation and live action to come out of Hollywood yet.

As to its lack, the film provides frustratingly superficial glimpses of the natives’ beliefs and spiritual practices, squeezed in between all of the action sequences. Even so, that’s a deal too much for certain critics, who slam it as “anti-human” and “anti-American.” The Vatican doesn’t care for the film’s earth-based faith, and still others bash the portrayal of a white man as yet another savior of an indigenous population.

What do they expect? Cameron, who wrote the script as well as directed, is a white male, so he’s stuck with that viewpoint. No doubt those who find fault would be equally censorious had the director tried to make the film from the native viewpoint.

Critics may gnash their teeth all they want over the movie’s politics, but it is wildly popular precisely because of its advocacy, not despite it. As polls continue to show, more and more Americans have abandoned traditional religions to call themselves independent seekers or simply spiritual. There has also been a huge rise in interest in the goddess, or the feminine divine. On top of that, the public is incensed over unpunished Iraq war profiteering, massive corporate fraud that led to the 2008 economic meltdown yet was rewarded with equally gigantic bailouts, and Wall Street’s baleful influence over Congress and the White House.

Avatar reflects and builds on these trends. The Na’vi tribe’s home is on top of a huge deposit of highly valuable ore that a human corporation wants to mine. Sully’s mission is to persuade the tribe to move peacefully, or his corporate masters will have no qualms about using deadly force to clear the members off their land.

Sully soon realizes and tells his superiors that the natives have no interest in anything the human interlopers could offer them. The Na’vi do not live to amass wealth or power. They love the world that sustains them and try to live in harmony with it and with neighboring tribes.

What a tragedy that the preceding is so threatening to so many Americans. If might-makes-right, profits-uber-alles is now the creed of our culture and country, then we are indeed as lost as Sully is when his avatar inadvertently spends its first night alone outside in Pandora.

This film is also a hit worldwide. In the greedy ore-grubbers, who don’t care who they kill or what they destroy in their profits quest, others clearly recognize the proverbial ugly American. If we also see it and don’t like it, then there’s little point in blaming the mirror, which in this case is a movie called Avatar.

Maybe it’s time to address what causes such a revolting reflection in the first place.

GOP Nervous About Texas?

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Guess what showed up on Texas television the night before Election Day?

None other than the National Republican Trust PAC’s television spot of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

This odious piece of political theater shows clips of Wright at his most fiery in the pulpit. It then claims that since Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama never objected to any of his former pastor’s rhetoric, Obama is too radical to be U.S. president.

This ad targets voters in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. So why did it air in a supposedly safe Republican state?

Could Texas be about to swing purple?

The morning of Election Day, the Lone Star state is leaning toward Obama 62 percent to 38 percent, according to the 7-Eleven coffee cup poll that was accurate in the 2004 and 2000 presidential elections.

We’ll see in just a few short hours.

Pastors, Priests Don’t Mix Well with Politics

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

The wanna-be theocrats are at it again.

Evangelist Dr. K.A. Paul has endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president.

The Rock Christian Fellowship in New Mexico has told its members to vote for John McCain and his fellow Republicans, as has the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson, N.J.

Then there was that absurd pulpit initiative last month designed to defy U.S. tax laws by having dozens of clergy make specific candidate endorsements while preaching the weekly sermon.

Unlike Azgard, the government of the United States of America does not promote or endorse any specific religion or creed, as specified in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

To qualify and maintain their tax-exempt status, religious organizations must return the favor and refrain from overt partisan activity that amounts to endorsing any specific candidate for public office.

The founders of this nation were a lot wiser than those who established Azgard. They realized that partisan politicking diminishes the standing of religion and that injecting religious views into politics ignites dangerous passions.

Sectarian strife ultimately destroyed Azgard. Don’t let that happen to this nation. Keep church and state strictly separate for the sake of both sides.

Obama as Anti-Christ: Religious Extremism Not Dead as Political Influence

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Now that a GOP campaign ad casts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the role of anti-Christ, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that the impact of religious extremists isn’t quite as dead as mainstream media keep reporting.

The John McCain ad, ‘The One,’ playing on YouTube not so subtly paints Obama as the anti-Christ for adherents to an extreme interpretation of Revelations. This YouTube spot stokes these believers’ worst fears of global conflagration in an ultimate war between God and the devil.

McCain’s spin doctors want to scare these people into voting against Obama by casting a ballot for the Arizona senator, even if they don’t like McCain all that much.

Although mainstream media articles keep declaring the death of religious conservatism, religious conservatives obviously could impact this year’s election outcome. Otherwise the McCain camp would not bother to try to scare up their votes.

It’s so eery–and alarming. My fantasy saga chronicles what happens when politics and piety collide, just as they have in U.S. elections since 2000, all of which have been marred by extreme divisiveness and bitterly contested vote counts.

The fictional theocrats try to wrest power from the secular government of an island nation called Azgard, just as Christian Dominionists seriously seek to impose religious totalitarianism on the United States, and Islamic extremists want to impose a Caliphate on the Middle East. The fictional power struggle leads to civil war, eventually resulting in the destruction of the country and most of the world.

What might happen in real life if extreme religious viewpoints continue to influence the elections as well as public discourse and policies? Consider McCain’s statements about U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 years and supposedly joking comments about bombing Iran.

There is little humor and much to be alarmed about in any type of militant religiosity–Muslim, Christian, Hindu or whatever.

Some People Just Need Killing…

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Theocrats Put Death Mark on Heroine,
Punish Father in Fantasy Saga’s 3rd Book

Lancaster, Texas (July 16, 2008) — Some people just need killing.

Will the ones to die be Helen Andros, outspoken first-generation heroine of the Green Stone of Healing® fantasy saga, and her newly reconciled father?

The astonishing sequel to The Vision and Fallout, The Scorpions Strike debuts today in paperback and ebook versions. Helen and Lord James Mordecai endure proscription and savage punishment by the state-sanctioned Temple of Kronos.

Under a Temple death mark, Helen learns basic energy manipulation from Maguari, the otherworldly Mist-Weaver, and first uses her green gem for healing and saving lives. Lord James’ political enemies hound him relentlessly and a treacherous ally plots his assassination.

The Scorpions Strike is fast-paced, action-packed and full of surprises,” writes Anne Garber, managing director of evalu8.org. “Just when you think you have figured out where these events might be heading, everything you imagined is thrown out the window.”

Calling the series “masterful,” Garber concludes, “Hooray for Helen Andros and the behaviour-models she has spawned. What an important void this character, and C.L. Talmadge’s inspirational story have filled!”

HealingStone Books today also made The Vision and Fallout available as paperbacks. Readers may browse through all three books online for free at http://www.greenstoneofhealing.com/browsebooks.shtml.

The first two novels in the series have drawn high praise.

“Exceptional job of writing, and keeping this story tightly together in a genre that is certainly difficult to do such, our author is top-notch,” Shirley P. Johnson writes about Fallout in Midwest Book Review. “If you love an intense read, packed with sinister power seekers, grueling heartless characters, yet laced with mystical moments, the lure of peace and healing, and the hope that goodness will prevail, this read is for you.”

“Helen is a formidable protagonist,” Kirkus Discoveries says about The Vision.

Over several generations of strong female characters, the saga explores what happens when politics and piety collide–how state support for an exclusionary religion leads to worldwide cataclysm and the utter destruction of an island nation called Azgard.

Author C.L. Talmadge describes the series as, “a blue-state version of ‘end-of-the-world’ fiction without a traditional religious viewpoint. Instead, it examines alternative spiritual themes and sets forth a different interpretation of free will and good and evil.”

Throughout the tale, the heroines and their mysterious jewel offer a healing, inclusive alternative to a government that persecutes those who do not look like or share the religious beliefs of the ones in power.

Readers who become fond of Helen and other characters will be delighted that they reincarnate, affirming that not even death can separate loved ones (or enemies).

Talmadge’s writing career began in 1976. A political columnist syndicated by North Star Writers Group, she has been on staff or freelanced for numerous media including Business Week, the Dallas Times Herald, Forbes, the International Herald Tribune, The New York Times and Reuters America.

The author discusses this latest book and how the series speaks to events today:
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/07/prweb1097104.htm

The Scorpions Strike
Paperback:       $16.95
Pages:      248
ISBN:      978-9800537-5-3

eBook:   $6.95
Format:    .pdf only
Pages:    312
ISBN:   978-0-9800537-2-2