Wednesday, March 28, 2007

21st Century Emancipation Proclamations, Part Three

Rueters, Fakehamshire, England

In the roughly 6 months that have passed since the USA's presidential election, so much has happened, as you are well aware. No longer do I write to you, dear readers, from the plush Rueters office towers of downtown Los Angeles. While media outlets have sent a deluge to your eyes, ears, and hearts, I have been on a voyage to find refuge. For I was part of an anti-administration "liberation action" which led to my temporary paralysis, blindness, and deafness caused by something much harsher than pepper spray. And that experience of tyranny was so severe that I needed to find a new, undisclosed location to report on just how frightening things are in the US of A.

When the governor of Massachusetts declared that as a state, they could not support President Greyback because of what they wittily described as "a long train of abuses", which included a 5000% tax on books without pictures, a threat to end abortion without passing any laws on the matter, and so on, my office in LA was anxious to see what that statement from Boston would exactly mean.

What came as an utter shock to those watching the legislature of the US government was the fact that in response to these harsh words from Massachusetts, the Homeland Security Act version 5.1 was enacted unanimously by Congress. However, what was striking about the votes on this bill was that those senators who had been dragging their heels in the sand in opposition to previous versions of the Homeland Security act were all absent from the vote. Conservative pundits blamed this on the "lazy socialist tendencies of the liberals who would dare go against the president". Whatever the reason, they were gone--but what would be the results of passing this new version of the bill?

This became clear when in a matter of hours, all phone records, e-mails, credit card purchases, and some would argue, thoughts of every inhabitant of the USA, citizen or not, were uploaded for access and analysis on the "Universal Freedom Database", or UFD.

National Guard troops swept through Massachusetts, and in outrage, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and even little Rhode Island joined their side, vainly attempting to stop these actions. Citing references to the US civil war of 1860-1865, they decided that they would take objection to the words of the pledge of allegiance, which state that the republic for which the flag stands is "indivisible", and try to undo the indivisible nature of the USA by creating what some have called the inverse of the CSA, or Confederate States of America. For this confederacy was called the LSA, or Liberal States of America. Alas, this only led to a more thorough application of Homeland Security version 5.1 in those states.

But oh, the pledge of allegiance. That "indivisible" clause suddenly became the talk of all towns, especially as news started pouring in from the opposite coast. California Governor Hercules Terminator found himself locked into a cell with no warrant and no charges in Guantanamo Bay. When he arrived, it was clear that any anti-Greyback member of the California state legislature was already there, as well as both federal senators, who were among the most vocal opponents of Greyback.

Walter Reed Hospital, in Washington DC, was converted to a penitentiary (as the conditions were too harsh to support actual patients), and East Coast "dissidents" were shipped there for further questioning, and, in President Greyback's words "to be sure that this tide of revolt and anarchy is quelled by peace and justice."

At the same time as this whirlwind of politically important events, scientists at the National Institutes of Health determined, using new techniques of stem cell analysis, that a zygote truly is a human being. Among peer reviewers of both pro-life and pro-choice persuasions, the data were compelling. Thus, scientifically, the debate for abortion was over, as long as you trusted those scientists.

There were those who cried out with glee, and said that this was all done to end abortion. In states such as Colorado, cries of "victory for the unborn!" rang through church sanctuaries and town halls. The imprisonment of those in power in pro-choice states was described by prominent pro-life pastor Dudley Hibbes as "a necessary nuisance that was needed to give liberty to all, including the unborn. With those new findings by scientists, it's clear that we were right all along."

As the Liberal States of America decayed into nothingness, and new leaders of those states were put into power by the Greyback administration, we have undoubtedly all read his 21st Century Emancipation Proclamation. I have no need to cite it all at length, as it as been sent to every house and been broadcast on TV day and night.

But as I sat in my office at Rueters, I had to ask an important question, which I must try to impress these questions upon my readers, now that I am able to write you again:

At what cost will we provide liberty for all?
Do we provide it for all when we oppress others in the process?
Does discussion of these matters matter, now that the question of indivisibility is answered?

In my next account, the answer to these questions will be provided,
for I will tell you of my own experiences in California. The story of how I got to flee from the limelight to the cover of night will explain why I and thousands of others have fled for refuge, in many cases to other countries. The 3 months of rebellion against Greyback's administration may be over, and abortion is now illegal everywhere in the world, but I would argue that we are only beginning to feel the effects of this administration's actions.

But if these accounts have not provided any cause for concern, my last installment will, as long as your conscience is not dulled by the drudgery of the day.

---Rueters is a fictitional news source. If only its reportings did not bear a resemblance to aspects of reality past, present or future.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

21st Century Emancipation Proclamations, Part Two

Rueters, Fakehamshire, England

Washington DC and the rest of the USA is abuzz with news, for it appears that Stan Greyback, the one time senator from Kansas, has been elected their president.

Through 2008 the battle for chief executive emerged as one of great proportions. Greyback, the Red state diehard, has continuously supported tax breaks for farming and manufacturing while being in opposition to industries prevalent in the blue states, such as biotechnology, moviemaking, wineries and other such marks of "haute couture" that abound on the coasts.

In fact, his membership in and support of the newly founded Freedom Party was cause alone for concern. Its deceased founder Patty DuCannon once described Hiram Smith as a great man who "strove for freedom and equality". This sort of concern eventually led to Greyback's actual exclusion from the ballots of California, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, a practice not seen for over one hundred years. In other blue states, he received dismally low votes, with most percentages in the single digits. Somehow, this protest from such prominent states was insufficient to keep him from winning the electoral college. And as a result, a nation which was once divided in terms of colors on a map stands in even more disunity than before.

There are even murmurings that his agenda may be as staunchly anti-abortion as those of Hiram Smith. Speaking from his Topeka estate, Greyback had these words for concerned Americans, blue state and red state alike.

"America was founded as a democracy and will only flourish as a democracy. The proud people of these fifty states have striven to provide freedom for all peoples of all lands. While some view the cause of abortion as part and parcel of this move towards providing consistent liberty to people of all walks of life, it is in the hands of the lawmakers who represent you citizens to make such decisions. Therefore, people of all states may rest assured that I have no intention to injure the normal course of law for any party preferences. I wish you all the best, and am excitedly preparing for what promises to be a term of great progress and growth for this great country of ours. May God bless you, and this land."

Pundits and bloggers alike have analyzed this brief speech to their wits' ends. On the side of those who support Greyback, conservative radio announcer Bush Extremitybough had this to say:
"I can't see why these tax and spend liberals in California and other places want to kill babies, but listen people, this is America. And Greyback has made it clear that he won't be a tyrant like old Slick Willy and his VP Igor did. Hopefully Congress can change things, but seriously, read up on Greyback. As a trial lawyer he defended several abortion doctors in Kansas--he's not going to try to outlaw abortion outside the normal process of law and order that this new Freedom Party stands for. So grow up and come see me at my next book signing. And if you know what's good for you, you'll bring me a Cohiba. That's a cigar, for those of you out in Adelanto."

In agreement with this, more serious analysts like Filliam W. Duckley have pointed to campaign speeches of Greyback. As Duckley observed, in one debate with Shmancy Pelozzi, Greyback stated, "look folks, a fetus is a meaningless ball of cells, if that's what you think it is. You can't call flour and eggs a cake--you have to bake it. And we all know that this is just like the issue of whether a fetus is a child or not. If that's your perspective, that is what it is. But I should say, if you believe life begins at conception, it begins at conception."

Will these and many other words, which point to Greyback as not only a member of the Freedom Party, but as one who has championed the cause of choice, assuage the fears of those states which refused to support Greyback?

There are many who say that this is inadequate. "After all," remarked former Republican governor of California Hercules Terminator, "this man is coming from the party that opposes the great people of California. My movies have been taxed to the point of starvation. You are driving the big companies to places like Canada, and my wife Miriam O'Kennison's family in Massachussetts is also worried about this guy. They didn't vote for him because the Freedom party has put a 5000% tax on books without pictures. And don't get me started on this abortion issue-it drives me crazy, just like how those Latina women get."

The firebrands are waving their flags on both sides of this issue. And we Britons, as observers of a nation divided can only ask:
What will Greyback do when he is in the White House? Will he bring peace and reconciliation, or will resentment and division grow? We can only hope and pray that this does not occur.

------Rueters is a fictitious news source. In most cases, names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

21st Century Emancipation Proclamations, Part One

Rueters, Fakehamshire, England

Hiram Smith was like most average Americans. Rather, until last year he was just like your neighbor down the street. This father of five who lived in Provo, Utah, was an avid golfer who loved to coach his children's sports teams. However, a shadow on one man's life grew to cause an alarming trend that has grown into the maelstrom which threatens an entire nation.

For Hiram Smith was last seen in Anaheim, California, where he entered a Planned Parenthood office and shot 12 people to death.

His subsequent apprehension by a mob that led to his death is all but a memory in the minds of Americans. Little would we know that this debate which once strode across Supreme Court and on the Mall of Washington DC would now lead to murmurings that there should be revolts against the "wicked Blue States".

More shocking was the revelation that his legacy is part of a growing movement that is by no means uncommon.

Unlike the abortion doctor killings of the 1980's and 1990's, which were almost unanimously condemned, Smith's death was cause for celebration among town halls and pulpits of red states, far and wide.

"Smith's courage to be brave and serve God's law in opposition to the godless laws of men has shown us that we have all been asleep at the wheel", commented Pastor Dudley Hibbes, of Creek Chapel Christian Church, which is located in Anaheim Hills, California.

This coexistence of pro-life and pro-choice individuals in the US has, like other parts of the world, been a cause of friction and debate. But it was not until these last few weeks has it been feared that the impasse might be irremediable.

Some have gone so far as to speculate that if abortions continue, sections of California and other blue states with more pro-life constituents may leave their homes and settle in with those of the red states, where abortion is more frequently condemned. Even more severe are calls of secession.

As a cautioning voice, Episcopalian minister the Right Reverend St. Francesca de District de Castro commented and said, "Let the hate mongering cease forevermore. We have seen that the laws of this land have decided in favor of choice. We are only acting in accord with the laws forever settled by Roe v. Wade. If you don't agree with abortion, don't have one."

The growing fear is that this sort of progressive argument will not always pacify those of pro-life interests. In the minds of the growing clamor for more reactionaries like Hiram Smith, it seems certain that the tides may change, whether those who are pro-choice choose to agree or not.

-----------Rueters is a fictional news source. Reuters is an actual news source, though some would prefer to view their reports as fictional.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Prayers for Zombies (stolen words from my dead mouth)

THIS BOOK looks very interesting.

This prayer is excerpted from the book:
Dear God, it’s me—Your servant in science. I wanted to thank You that my latest paper was accepted by such a prestigious journal. We put a lot of work into it, and it was nice to see our work recognized.

Lord, you got me through grad school, and by Your grace I’ve been doing well in research—for which I’m grateful. But, when it gets down to it, I’m just not feeling easy about this whole direction for me. I’m not sure how exactly I ended up with this particular research focus. I have learned a lot, but sometimes I have to ask myself, “Who really cares?” If no one ever found out about what I’m researching, the world would still go on. Lord, You’ve given me a good marriage, blessed me with kids, a good church, but ... Lord, I don’t want to sound ungrateful ... but what I really want is to do something significant for the kingdom of God. I mean, the time is going by. The years fly now, and it doesn’t seem like I’m doing much of eternal significance.

Oh, I have taught my share of Sunday school classes. And there was that short-term mission trip the year before last. And, yes, there was the meeting in Chicago where I was able to share my faith with several folks in my field. They were kind of surprised that a good scientist could be a believer.

Maybe I ought to quit the research game and join a student ministry. I seem to have a good rapport with college students. Or maybe, as we just heard at the missions conference at church last month about the great need for missionaries in third-world areas, and last week a representative from a relief agency made a presentation, my heart just went out to those needy people. Maybe I should explore the missions direction.

Lord, I just want to do something significant for the kingdom. I long to hear You say at the end, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Please direct me to something that really counts.

The prayer encapsulates my thoughts on my vocation--to me, considering the significance of one's job as a scientist (or a plumber) is much more than a direct addressing of God's existence. So many times we look at religion and science as polar opposites, and most people attempt to resolve this by agreeing with that basic premise and pitting our favorite fighter against the foul foe that we prefer. But is this justified? I would say no, and that futher, it is not the way to show someone else that their deification of science or hatred of science is unjustified.

In fact, consider these words by Pascal in Pensee #473:

"It is a remarkable fact that no canonical author has ever used nature to prove God. They all try to make people believe in him. David, Solomon, etc. never said: 'There is no such thing as a vacuum, therefore God exists." They must have been cleverer than the cleverest of their successors, all of whom used proofs from nature. This is very noteworthy.

To me, the whole idea of being the person who attacks this or that atheistic position based on one's scientific background is so superficial, when compared to what science is actually about. Have we learned more about the world, and can that help people live a better or healthier or insert the appropriate adjective life? If so, we are showing as Christians that we care about others. That is more of our mission than any "Blasphemy Challenge", or inverse correlation thereof.

So I say we blow off Richard Dawkins and think more about what matters in the world, which is truth as truth. As my previous blog on hamartology stated, if evil is a non-entity, then these errors of others should not be our hangups. Instead, we should focus on the light that we have--and we shouldn't be surprised if we see light from heaven and earth, from God and nature.

Friday, March 9, 2007

the chalice of evil is NOT half full, it is fully empty.

We have seen it all too many times-some kid with a new toy struts with pride and shows off his new prized possession. As the other children stand around, the rivalry and jealousy ensues, and parents are often left telling kids to share, or worse, end up taking that toy so that no one can have it.

But imagine life in some other universe not quite like ours. The scene changes and shifts to a boy who stands with empty hands, gloating nonetheless.

You or I might be tempted to give a quizzical look and wonder if this is a child suffering from some deranged sense of reality, but that would only be at first, for as time would roll on, we would see his childhood companions look with great envy at their friend with nothing in their hands. You might wonder if you lacked the ability to see some magical item that this lucky one held, but when you ask one of his devotees what is so special about this spoiled child, you are told that he is one of the few who has been given nothing by his parents.

Now, take your mouse and zoom out on this google earth, and you see two nations. One leader waves his arms at the other and shouts obscenities, with pomp and circumstance surrounding crowd of his denizens. To his own glory he proclaims that he lacks any weapons, and is thus the stronger of the two countries.

Again, you or I would most likely be puzzled beyond imagination to see the response of this other leader, who trembles at the sight of an empty silo. And if you asked this quaking queen (or king), you would find out that this great nemesis is to be feared because of the nothing that they hold.

Now, you may ask me why we should devote even a moment's thought to such a silly nightmare.
To answer that, I must point back in time to a great thinker who showed that much of what we do as we walk on earth is as foolish as those who covet the lives of those who have nothing ultimately.

That man is St. Augustine, whose works are inspirational for many reasons. For the sake of today's inspiration, we are dealing with what is technically referred to as hamartology. This term, derived from the greek word for sin, is an understanding of evil. And the title to this blog is to state that if we agree with Augustine on the matter of what evil is, we would realize that what evil is, as an entity, is a non-entity. Here are his words on the matter from what is also considered the first autobiography, the Confessions. I will start with the Latin because it has a vivacious character that is lacking in our clumsy language du jour.

ubi ergo malum et unde et qua huc inrepsit? quae radix eius et quod semen eius? an omnino non est? cur ergo timemus et cavemus quod non est? aut si inaniter timemus, timor ipse malum est, quo incassum stimulatur et excruciatur cor; et tanto gravius malum, quanto non est, quod timeamus, et timemus.

Where, then, is evil, and whence does it come and how has it crept in? What is its root and what its seed? Has it no being at all? Why, then, do we fear and shun what has no being? Or if we fear it needlessly, then surely that fear is evil by which the heart is unnecessarily stabbed and tortured--and indeed a greater evil since we have nothing real to fear, and yet do fear.

So we see here that it could be argued that evil, in Augstine's mind, is really the absence of existence. It is a twisted version of the way things should be. Now, when I first learned of this philosophical concept, frequently referred to as a view of evil as a privation of good, I thought this to be merely semantic.

But when I consider how most people view the wrong in this world, so much time is spent looking at what is being done in terms of positive evil. But if wickedness is failing to be what it ought to be, we should view it more in terms of what it lacks instead of what it does. Christians walk around talking about the bad that people do so much that they forget that the real crime and tragedy is the good that has been abandoned.

That places the sinner in a position of one who is not some demon dwelling in misdeeds, but instead, it is something fractured and, to be frank, in poverty.

We turn back to the first analogy, and realize that for too long we have viewed the grass as always greener in the lives of those who live with reckless abandon when really we should see that those who do so have abandoned themselves, and the lives that they could have.

We see the fear that we have with those that are our enemies, and realize that the battle between good and evil is really one between those who have something, and those who do not. And we wonder why we ever cringed.....