Dogma Alert

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Catastrophies Mirror Consciousness

I came across a very interesting quote the other day on one of my favourite alternative news sites, the Signs of the Times. One of the things I like about the Signs is that it is compiled new every day, and it's just like having an electronic newspaper delievered right to your door, with all the top stories of the day. Why bother with CNN or even the New York Times, when often major stories make it on the Signs often before they are printed in the mainstream news.

Another great thing about the Signs is the variety of sources from which they compile the days page. Often times one might see something broadcast on Fox News compared directly to the same story on al-Jazeerah, and by being able to look at the relative "spin" put on the story by both agencies, one is able to come to a more accurate or objective picture or what's really going on. They also reference many of what are considered to be "alternative news sources"; those websites that are not owned by or affiliated with the major media conglomerates, so are able to report independently without coercion or editorial control that is often exerted by shareholders or big advertising contracts.

The best thing about the Signs of the Times, in my opinion, are the comments that often follow or are interspersed between a particular news story that give the page it's most unique and valuable character. Their mission it seems is to report the facts as objectively as possible, and they take great pains to cut through the media spin and various biases that accompany a certain viewpoint. Their comments seem balanced, articulate and well thought out, and often include references to history, mythology, archeology, quantum physics, and other scientific and esoteric disciplines that give their perspective the feel of seeing the big picture.

There is really no other news site quite like it and I think we are fortunate to be able to have such a clear and well written source for news in these seemingly troubled times.

Anyway, getting back to this quote I found that started all these thoughts in my head. It appears on the Hallowe'en edition of Signs of the Times in 2004, and goes like this...

Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the "past." People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the "Future."

From what I understand as seemingly inherent in the above quote is the idea of how "consciousness" interacts with "matter" to create "order" out of "chaos". The experience of the perceiver and accuracy of the perceiver's perception in relation to objective reality, or the way things actually are, appears to go a long way in how that "reality" mainfests itself in the future.

In other words, the closer a person aligns their perception to objective reality, the more chance that reality has of becoming attuned to the consciousness of the perceiver. It's almost as if humans beings, as conscious individuals, can indeed create or have an effect on reality, but only if the individual is first able to objectively see what is real.

Laura Knight-Jadczyk, the author of the editorial in question and one of the onwer's of the Cassiopaean website, sums up this phenomenon quite succinctly...

What this means is that order can be brought out of chaos by observing chaos as it IS and not pretending that it is otherwise.

In short, everyone who "believes" in an attempt to "create reality" that is different from what IS, increases the chaos and entropy. If your beliefs are orthogonal to the truth, no matter how strongly you believe them, you are essentially coming into conflict with how the Universe views itself and I can assure you, you ain't gonna win that contest. You are inviting destruction upon yourself and all who engage in this "staring down the universe" exercise with you.

On the other hand, if you are able to view the Universe as it views itself, objectively, without blinking, and with acceptance, you then become more "aligned" with the Creative energy of the universe and your very consciousness becomes a transducer of order. Your energy of observation, given unconditionally, can bring order to chaos, can create out of infinite potential.

Now, being able to see reality objectively is no easy feat by any means. All human beings, from the moment we are born, and by virtue of the place and culture in which we grow up, are conditioned and programmed to accept the values and norms of our parents and the society in which we happen to find ourselves. Seeing that none of us really have any choice as to where we are born, the idea that one nation or religion is better or more true than any other seems wholly dependent on luck, chance, blind fate, or what have you. And if the Buddhist and Hindu ideas of reincarnation are true, as evidence seems to suggest, then it is entirely possible that all human beings on the planet at one time have experienced what it is like to be male, female, of all different races, castes and religions.

Yet to dispassionately observe the power of the belief system of the fundamentalist Christian in comparison to the fundamentalist Muslim, their similarities to rigid dogma, intolerance, and absolute "rightness" of their beliefs are far more striking than any perceived differences. That's why the absurdity of moral crusades voiciferously perpetuated by Reverends, Rabbis, Priests and Mullahs only serve to add to the chaos and strife on a planet already beseiged with enough pain and suffering to last an eternity.

The point here is to consider the quote above in that "Life is Religion", and how we interact with life is how we interact with God. Our ability to see through our conditioned programs, to rid ourselves of the lies of culture, nationality and religion, and fully grasp the humanity of each individual regardless of background or skin colour, is to get closer to objective reality and thus closer to perceiving the true nature of God. That's why religions will always be divisive, and are one of the main causes of war and human conflict throughout recorded history.

To take this idea one step further; is it possible that the three main monotheistic religions were created exactly for this purpose? If it is true that Jehovah/Yahweh/Allah is in fact the same entity, it too much of a stretch of the imagination to consider that He created the three religions in his name in order create and foment as much suffering as possible between his flock of human believers? If so, it does give us an important clue as to the true nature or alignment of this being in regards to idea of a wise, compassionate and loving God, does it not? If we are to take the above quote seriously, than any belief system in the absolute rightness of one God or religion, one that leads us away from objective reality, would indeed add to the chaos and entropy that seems so prevalent in our world today.

Unfortunately, that seems to be precisely the point. The God of the three monotheistic religions is not the compassionate, love-thy-neighbour God of the New Testament that Jesus spoke of, but in fact moreso resembles the angry jealous God of the Old Testament. The God who demands blind obediance and bloody sacrifice from his followers. A God who "feeds" off the negative emotional pain and suffering of his earthly flock, and whose power grows larger the more His true believers continue to blindly accept His lies without question.

So, how does this aspect of consciousness interacting with matter to bring order out of chaos fit in with the idea of earthly catastrophies as the title of this article suggests?

Well, one of the most interesting references in the Hallowe'en edition of the Signs of the Times written by the site's owner, Laura Knight-Jadczyk, mentions the cyclic nature of history and how the policies of Adolf Hitler in World War II are now being mirrored to the actions of war-time President George Bush in what appears to be the creation of the Fourth Reich, the implementation of a fascist police in America, and a continuation and perhaps completion of the 'final solution' in which semitic Arabs (and eventually semitic Jews) are the ones targeted for anhiliation this time around.

In her editorial she also makes mention of the cyclic nature of cometary cycles that is covered in great detail elsewhere on her site in what she calls The Wave Series. According to this series of well-researched articles based on an abundance of archeological and historical evidence, she describes how the planet earth, over it's long history, has repeatedly undergone showers of cometary bombardment, each time resulting in an almost complete devastation of the human population and all the related infrastructure and technology that went with it. The myth of Noah's Ark and the flood, the great battle of Atlantis as described by Plato, and the so-called "dark ages" of medieval Europe all strongly point to the appearance and effects of this periodic cometary and meteorite cycle.

There seems to be an enormous amount of evidence to suggest that there is a strong connection between the conscious experience of human beings as observers of reality and the timing and nature of these cometary showers. It's almost as if the more divorced from reality the perceptions of humans become, the greater and faster will these rocks start appearing in our atmosphere. Seeing how Bush and his Neocon cabal have successfully stolen another election, and millions of his fundamentalist Christian supporters blindly follow him like the pied piper of the apocalypse, does give a certain credence to the prophecies contained in the Book of Revelations, and how this could literally be the end of our world as we know it. Compare this phenomenon to the numerous sightings of meteors and meteorites that are reported with greater and greater frequency around the world, should give the entire human race pause for grave concern.

So, as long as the majority of human beings on this planet continue to passively accept the lies of their leaders, religions and cultures, and as long as these lies stand in direct contrast to the perception of objective reality, the more likely it seems that the continued bombardment of meteorites and space rocks this planet will experience. Until such point as the grand techonological marvels and scientific progress we've made over the past hundreds of years lay in rubble under the glow of a perpetual red sky.

However, the few who have the will and perseverance to deprogram themselves from the lies of official culture, and the courage to face the truth of this reality in all it's horrors and suffering, perhaps the effects of the Human Experiential Cycle for them might be different, just maybe there exists the possibility of creating order out of chaos, to behold an altogether different future.

Food for thought.


Friday, January 28, 2005

Under Mars: Perfectly Normal for Yahoo Redneck God-Fearing Soldiers

This excellent essay by Kurt Nimmo speaks for itself, and as such, needs no introduction or commentary.


January 28, 2005
Kurt Nimmo

Australian expat Iraqis are apparently clueless. They are outraged by a photo gallery ( chock full of photos of dead Iraqis, blown to bloody pieces by “our” troops in Iraq, complete with tasteless and insensitive captions. “It is abhorrent to see gruesome pictures of dead bodies in Iraq posted on this offending website,” complained Australian Iraqi Forum president Dr Riadh al-Mahaidi. “It is no less cruel and sickening than web postings by terrorist groups of decapitated bodies of kidnapped victims.”

Right you are, Riadh, but, seriously, what do you expect? These guys are only doing what they were trained to do—kill people, without remorse, and then make fun of it, although I’m sure the making fun part is not included in the military training, it is simply the yahoo and redneck character of the soldiers, the same testosterone mentality of weekend deer hunters, posing with their prey, drinking beer and making stupid jokes. As part of the military dehumanization process, dead Iraqis are no different than ten point bucks stretched out proudly on car hoods. Here is a snapshot of your typical Iraqi deer hunter, drinking his favorite brew, probably relaxing after an evening of kicking in doors and terrorizing Iraqi women and children.

As disturbing and sick as photos of dead and dismembered Iraqis are, this particular photo is even more alarming—a soldier with Psalm 21 marked up on his helmet. It brings to mind the Christian nature of the occupation, as detailed by Lieutenant General William Boykin, an evangelical Christian who believes Muslims are sub-human. As Boykin told thousands of Christian Zionists on a whirlwind tour, Bush’s “war on terrorism” is a holy war against Satan and redneck yahoo soldiers are doing God’s work because the United States is a “Christian nation.” It was later discovered Boykin was connected to the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, a development that should not be surprising, since fanatical Christians have tortured and killed unbelievers and heretics for centuries. “This will be taken as proof that what happened at Abu Ghraib (prison) is evidence of a broader culture of dehumanizing Arabs and Muslims, based on the American understanding of the innate superiority of Christendom,” Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, told ABC News last May.

In fact, for many Republicans in Congress, Boykin is a hero. On the Christian Coalition’s web site, Roberta Combs, in her Washington Weekly Review column (November 7, 2003), mentions a “Dear Colleague” letter, authored by Congressman Todd Tiahrt, R-KS and signed by some 16 Members of the House, entitled “Lieutenant General William Boykin: American Hero.” Combs writes: “Congressman [Todd Akin, R-MO] says regarding liberal criticism of General Boykin’s remarks in churches about radical Islamists, ‘Perhaps instead of castigating this authentic America hero, Congress should simply say, “thank you” for his service to our country.’” As for the events Mr. Akin is paying tribute to, simply reference the Under Mars web site, or take a look at the Abu Ghraib photos.

It should come as no surprise the invasion and occupation of Iraq is a Judeo-Christian Crusade against Islam, as our so-called president is supposedly a “born-again” Christian, beholden to Christian Reconstructionists who want to impose biblical law not only on America but the entire world. For more on these whacked out zealots, who weigh so heavily on Washington and the Republican Party, read Rob Boston’s Operation Potomac.

For evans and Christian Reconstructionists, mass murdering 100,000 or more Iraqis is no problem, since their Old Testament God, the same God worshipped by Zionists who kill Palestinian school children, is himself a serial murderer of “first born” children and entire races of people. “In the fundamentalist mind killing God’s enemies is not murder even if it is a child or genocide,” a letter sent to the Bristol Herald Courier notes. “The reality is that anyone who doesn’t follow their beliefs is God’s enemy.” Mass murder and genocide of Arabs and Muslims is a natural for fanatics such as Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and a proponent of Christian Reconstructionism, who tells Americans to wake up and “see who your real enemies are” and preaches that the “Koran teaches that the end of the world will not come until every Jew is killed by Muslims.”

“At first sight, an alliance between right-wing Christian fundamentalists and right-wing Zionist fundamentalists might appear too bizarre to be true,” writes William Bowles. “But not if their long-term aims coincide as they do with the Bush and Sharon governments.” As Bowles correctly notes, the United States has consistently supported “the fascist side of Israeli colonialism” since Israel’s inception “because the creation of Israel acted as a block to Arab nationalism and of course, as long as the Arab nations remain divided, gives free access to the vast oil reserves so crucial to the US economy,” and also gives free reign to the Zionist dream of Greater Israel. “Zionism means a Jewish state in all of Eretz Israel, without Arabs,” writes Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery. “This is a historical process. Zionism always knew how to realize at every phase what could be realized at that stage. It understood the limitations of power and took at every point what it could take, without giving up its determination to achieve the rest in due course.”

But with the United States in tow, under the “leadership” of the Christian Zionist Bush and the Zionist Strausscons—who are more Zionist than Sharon and more akin to Israeli settlers in their viciousness—the “final phase” of “Eretz Israel” is now within reach, or so the Likudite-Strausscon faction, now more than ever in control of the Pentagon and Congress, believe. It is common knowledge, or it should be anyway, that Eretz Yisrael encompasses not only the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but Jordan, south-western Syria, and southern Lebanon as well. Many Israelis, however, consider this empire even larger, “from the River of Egypt to the Great River, the river Euphrates,” as the Jewish God told Abraham in the Bible. Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, “described the territory over which the Zionist movement laid claim as inclusive of all the land ‘from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.’ The territory embraced all of Lebanon and Jordan, two thirds of Syria, one-half of Iraq, a strip of Turkey, one-half of Kuwait, one third of Saudi Arabia, the Sinai and Egypt, including Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo,” writes Ralph Schoenman.

Since Jesus cannot return, according to Bush’s evangelical supporters, until Israel dominates the Middle East, facilitating the Likudite-Strausscon plan for Word War IV, as described by the Strausscons, is of primary importance. “The US and its president are totally helpless before the Christian extremists, who put Israel’s interest first,” explains Abid Ullah Jan. “Their torch bearers, such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, believe Israeli hegemony in the Middle East represents the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy about the coming of Jesus. A prophecy, in their view, can be self-fulfilling: it is, however, their Christian duty to expedite it. These themes are the ever-increasing force behind conservative support for Bush’s war policy and the new efforts to spread the conflict to Syria, Iran, and beyond.”

Thus it is perfectly natural for a US soldier to mark up his helmet with Psalm 21, which reads in part: “Your hand will reach all your enemies; your right hand will reach your foes! At the time of your coming you will drive them into a furnace. Then the Lord’s anger will consume them, devour them with fire. Even their descendants you will wipe out from the earth, their offspring from the human race.” In other words, genocide is completely natural, even expected, in fact demanded by God.

So it is not surprising there is a web gallery of digital images glorifying the grisly murder of Iraqis, complete with sarcastic commentary. It is a natural extension of the Christian Recon-Strausscon-Likudite plan to “wipe out from the earth” all Arabs and Muslims who do not accept Greater Israel, “from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” Remarkably, millions of Americans, who consider themselves evangelical Christians, not only buy into this homicidal madness, they believe genocide and mass murder is mandatory if the “King of Peace” is to return and they are to sit on the “right-hand side of God,” minus Arabs and Muslims, of course.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bush's embrace of faith cheered

The average rabid fundamentalist Christian in the United States may have reason to cheer Dubya's "special relationship with the Lord", but for those of us not blinded by rigid dogmatic belief systems, this unholy alliance is cause for grave concern.

Not since the days of Adolph Hitler has the so-called leader of the free world invoked the name of Jehovah so often while exterminating semitic peoples in His name.

Now with the Neocon hawk's sights set on Iran and Syria as next in line to receive an unhealthy dose of American-style freedom and democracy, it seems that Hitler's infamous 'final solution' is dangerously close to succeeding.

By James G. Lakely

President Bush's declaration that he can't imagine anyone serving in the Oval Office "without a relationship with the Lord" has pleased groups that say public expressions of faith have been discouraged for too long.

"We believe that not only the president, but everyone would be much better off for eternity with a relationship with the Lord," said Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family. "The president should not be criticized for stating what he believes by faith. Every American has the right to do that."

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, added that he doesn't think "anyone should be upset or worried" about Mr. Bush's words — even if his reference to "the Lord" means Jesus Christ.

Of course Mr. Foxman would support Bush's allegiance to the angry jealous God of the Old Testament, for if Yahweh of the Jews and Jehovah of the Christians are in fact the same entity, then it would appear that both Mr. Bush and Mr. Foxman serve the same master.

"I haven't heard him say his faith is the only truth, the one truth," Mr. Foxman said. "He talks about respect for people's faith or nonfaith."

Mr. Bush discussed the role of his Christian faith in his personal life and presidency in an Oval Office interview last week with The Washington Times.

He acknowledged that "there are some who worry about a president who is faith-based, a person who openly admits that [he] accepts the prayers of the people."

Mr. Bush said he would never try "to impose his will on others," but he couldn't see "how you can be president, at least from my perspective ... without a relationship with the Lord."

Excuse me? Bush would "never try to impose his will on others"??? Try telling that to the 100,000+ dead Iraqi's that have been sacrificed upon the altar of his insatiable bloodthirsty deity.

Conservative Christians were heartened to hear Mr. Bush express his beliefs so candidly and noted their continuity with the mainstream of American history.

"Most of our presidents were very forthright in their Christian convictions," Mr. Minnery said. "I think what we're seeing here is an ever more desperate attempt by atheists to deny the very motto of the country, 'One Nation Under God.' "

Mr. Minnery noted that even religious tolerance is part of the Christian tradition.

"People who do not believe in the Christian faith ought to be thankful that this is a Christian country," Mr. Minnery said. "Christianity is voluntary. No Christian can force anybody to accept the Christian faith.

Anyone whose had their peaceful Sunday afternoon interrupted by a gaggle of proselytizing JW's knows that even though "no Christian can force anybody to accept the Christian faith" certainly won't stop them from trying.

"Christians, above all, recognize freedom of conscience. They realize some will turn away," he said. "Therefore, a country governed by Christian principles is a country that guards religious freedom religiously."

Mr. Bush took time out Saturday to mark "Religious Freedom Day," commemorating the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786 and citing President Washington writing about "the liberty enjoyed by the people of these States, of worshipping Almighty God agreeably to their consciences, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights."

"Our Founding Fathers knew the importance of freedom of religion to a stable and lasting union," Mr. Bush wrote in his official proclamation. "As the United States advances the cause of liberty, we remember that freedom is not America's gift to the world, but God's gift to each man and woman in this world."

In other words, as the United States continues it's hegemonic push for world domination, all them brown-skined heathens in the Middle East and Asia better worship the only One True God, which is Bush's God, or else!

Mr. Bush famously named Jesus Christ as the most influential political philosopher of his life while running in the 2000 presidential race. Vice President Al Gore also told The Washington Post during the campaign that if faced with difficult problems, he "would ask what Jesus would do."

Even a cursory study of the life and works of Jesus Christ as outlined in the present heavily edited version of the Bible will show that the actions of the current commander in chief of the U.S. is so far removed from "what would Jesus do", as to be absurd. Yet, that doesn't stop the sheeple that comprise Dubya's fawning flock from seeing him as almost divine as Christ himself.

Mr. Foxman said his organization was critical of both candidates' comments, as it has opposed Mr. Bush's faith-based initiative, which gives public dollars to religious organizations to provide services for the poor.

"We said Jesus Christ can be your moral guide, but not your political philosopher," Mr. Foxman said. "That is where the line is crossed."

That said, Mr. Foxman asked: "Why isn't it OK for the president to have faith?"

"The moment you serve the public, you shouldn't have to put away your faith," he said.

At the end of Mr. Bush's conversation with The Washington Times, he stressed that "the president's job is not to pick religion."

"The president's job is not to say you've got to be religious," he said. "The president's job is to say each is free to choose it. And it's really important that that be clear today, given the world in which we live. And if you're a Sikh or Muslim or a Methodist or anybody else for that matter, it's an important message."

But that assurance wasn't enough for Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists.

"He just doesn't get it," Mrs. Johnson said. "And he seems to ignore the fact that in our Constitution we do not have a religious test for those seeking public office."

The interview "demonstrates clearly that he does not respect the diversity of the country, and the fact that nonbelievers and so-called seculars are one of the fastest-growing segments of American society."

An honest appraisal of Bush's false piety in resepct to his public religious convictions compared to his real-life works of exporting war and terror to any country with a lot of oil that doesn't cowtow to American influence and intimidation, goes to show that his admiration of Jesus as his personal philospher is designed purely for public consumption.

Bush tendency of being a habitual liar and likely psychopath give credence to the notion that his soul (or lack thereof) is more aligned with the angry jealous rantings of Jehovah in the Old Testament, than any affiliation with Jesus.

Just more pseudo-religious stink from America's head cheese.


Marine read Bible during sniper duty

This appears to be one of those religious feel good stories you often read about in the newspaper where a noble young soldier with a strong faith in the Almighty is struck down in his prime by an evil terrorist/insurgent, and how we should all feel so uplifted by his selfless sacrifice for God and country.

It seems this type of account is meant to stir up feelings of patriotism and devotion in the reader, and ignores the deeper question of why a so-called "Christian", or one who supposedly follows in the footsteps of Jesus, would support an illegal war by volunteering to murder another human being through the scope of a sniper rifle.

By Shia Kapos and Jennifer Taylor
Special to the Tribune
Published January 18, 2005

Cpl. Tommy L. Parker Jr. may have needed his parents' permission to join the Marine Reserves when he was 17, but he was no kid.

An experienced hunter with a strong belief in God and the hereafter, Parker became a husband, father and active duty sniper within a few years of graduating from high school.

"TJ," as he was known to family and friends, "was the type of kid who put everything into whatever he did," said his father, Tommy Parker Sr., also a Reservist.

Cpl. Parker was killed in an ambush on the roof of a building in Al Anbar Province in Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton in California.

Parker and three other Marines had been on the rooftop 24 hours a day for a few months, said Parker's father.

"He was reading the Bible when he was hit," the elder Parker said.

Parker grew up in Arkansas, where he played baseball as a youngster and basketball at Triple S Christian Ranch. His wife, Carla, had been his high school sweetheart.

Parker served in Japan and Indonesia before being deployed to Iraq. His daughter Lara is 2.

Sadly enough, the only real protection a Bible can give a person while on sniper duty is if they carry it their breast pocket and it happens to stop a bullet or a piece of shrapnel with their name on it.


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Religious aid groups try to convert victims

This is another disturbing story from the UK's Guardian newspaper that highlights the typical hypocrisy of Christian dogoodniks, whose poisoned "charity" comes with a most malevolent pricetag.

Jason Burke
Sunday January 16, 2005

Dozens of religious groups have moved in to Aceh, looking to help tsunami victims - and convert them and others, creating tensions in the disaster area.

What grand psychological schism must exist in the minds of those manipulative proselytizers who feel the need to take a massive human tragedy and use it to further their own goals.

It's almost as if they believe that by converting those Godless brown-skinned heathens in third world countries will win them brownie points in heaven.

Unfortunately, the sad reality for those people now struggling with the enormity of this disaster, is trying to contend with a gaggle of raging zealots who insist that any help offered in their time of tragedy also be coupled with Biblical sermons and other forms of fundamentalist dogma.

The arrival of Western Christian groups with records of aggressive preaching risks confrontation with local Muslim leaders which could jeopardise the provision of aid to the 600,000 local people made homeless by the disaster. The death toll in Aceh stands at around 110,000 and is expected to rise.

Reacting to the attempts of one American group to fly hundreds of local children to a Christian orphanage, Din Syamsuddin, head of the Indonesian Council of Clerics, said any attempt to spread religion under the cover of aid was wrong.

'The Muslim community will not remain quiet. This a clear statement, and it is serious,' he said.

Many survivors of the disaster are deeply traumatised by their experience and thus, experts say, vulnerable to religious groups. The disaster has led to a huge increase in religious sentiment. Many Acehnese speak of the wave as a punishment from God for immorality and lax Islamic practice, pointing out that in many villages only the mosque was left standing.

'I had faith but never did what I should have done,' said Shinta Ekhsani, a 29 year-old English teacher. 'I did not pray five times a day. I did not teach my children about Islam. I was too materialistic. Now I have changed.'

Most Indonesians follow a moderate strand of Islam, very different from more hardline varieties increasingly prevalent in the Middle East. Local Muslim groups were among the first to bring help to victims. Aceh is Indonesia's most religiously conservative province.

However, more radical Muslim groups started arriving in the province within days. These include the Islamic Defenders' Front, which has attacked bars and shops selling alcohol in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, and Lashkar Mujahideen, which endorses a militant ideology and has alleged links to the killing of Christians.

Last week, speaking outside a tent at Banda Aceh's busy military airport under a banner reading 'Islamic Law Enforcement', Salman al-Farizi said his group were in Aceh to give medical and food assistance, remove corpses, evacuate refugees and to preach. 'The survivors will be helped to spread the true word of Allah,' al-Farizi said.

Lest anyone think that my distaste for relgious "pushers" taking advantage of people in times of crisis is limited to those of the Christian variety, they would be incorrect. As the above example shows, fundamentalism from any belief system, be it Christian, Muslim or Jewish, that is forced upon others is equally abhorrent.

Elsewhere, groups are handing out Korans and even veils alongside aid. Volunteers from the al-Azhar Foundation in Jakarta said they had distributed 1,993 Korans to refugees from Lokh Nga, one of the worst-hit villages. 'Many want to read the Koran to help them with their trauma,' said Anwar Sani, director of the foundation.

Some Christian groups, however, are instructing workers not to display church names or wear crosses.

'We prefer to address the physical needs first,' said William Suhanda, an Indonesian whose Christian group, 'Light of Love for Aceh', is helping distribute food in Banda Aceh and hopes to bring 50 children to a Christian orphanage in Jakarta. 'We also want to expose them to Christian values... so they can see the other side, that we're about the love of Christ,' he said.

It is irrelevant whether or not church names or crosses are openly displayed, as with any "hidden agenda", it is the people in desperate need of aid who will become the new victims of this latest wave of religiosity.

Mark Kosinski, an American evangelist who arrived in Aceh from Malaysia last week, said: 'These people need food but they also need Jesus. God is trying to awaken people and help them realise salvation is in Christ.'

One US Christian group was revealed last week to have tried to airlift 300 'tsunami orphans' to a Christian children's home. WorldHelp started raising funds for the operation until it learned that the Indonesian government had banned non-Muslims from adopting Acehnese orphans.

'What we were attempting to do in finding a home for these orphans is no different from what Mother Teresa did in placing Hindu orphans in a Christian children's home,' said Vernon Brewer, president of WorldHelp.

The Church of Scientology has also established a presence in Banda Aceh, setting up a base opposite the governor's mansion. 'We are not here to proselytise. That would be distasteful,' said Greg Churilov. 'We hope we are just seen as another relief group.'

However, there are also opportunities for co-operation. The US navy's high-profile effort to assist Indonesia deliver aid has helped counter anger over the Iraq war. The Islamic Defenders' Front spent much of this week removing corpses from collapsed homes alongside an Indonesian Christian group. Mormons have teamed up with Islamic relief operations to send aid to the region.

Last week, the UN even asked Lashkar Mujahideen to unload a plane of relief supplies because it was short of personnel.

Okay, so now even the Church of Scientology is getting involved, praise Hubbard. Perhaps they are on the lookout for the next would be Indonesian Tom Cruise?

One of the downsides of living in a free-will universe is that people, no matter how deluded their belief system may be, are still free to try and pressure others to conform to that very same belief system, whether they like it or not.

Too bad for those kids in Indonesia who are unaware of the Devil's bargain that such relief aid will bring.

Who will save them from this new tsunami of religious dogma?

Hopefully, not Jesus.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Group Threatens Lawsuit Over Crosses

This is an odd story from the Chicago Tribune that shows to what extent fundamentalist Christians are hypnotized and enslaved by their symbols.

Associated Press Writer
Published January 10, 2005, 5:00 PM CST

WASHINGTON -- A conservative group is threatening to sue the Secret Service for religious discrimination over security guidelines that would ban Christian crosses from President Bush's inaugural parade route.

The Secret Service said Monday the guidelines were meant to prohibit large structures that could be used as weapons. Crosses were the only religious symbols on the list of banned items.

Oh, the irony. The thought that our intrepid Dubya might be threatened by a 6-foot crucifix as a weapon is hard to imagine while keeping a straight face. What are they gonna do, sharpen the end and throw it at him? One would think that ol' George, being such a pious Christian and all, would welcome such ancient symbols of pain and suffering to decorate his inaugural route. In fact a giant crucifix would be doubly meaningful because it could also serve as a portend of the all pain and suffering the next four years of his rule will most likely bring.

In a Dec. 17 directive to the National Park Service, the Secret Service mandated that signs and placards along the inaugural parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue be made out of cardboard, poster board or cloth. They may be no more than three feet wide or 20 feet long.

The directive also prohibited folding chairs, bicycles and other structures, and displays "such as puppets, papier mache objects, coffins, crates, crosses, theaters, cages and statues."

"The way it's written, it's an unequivocal ban on crosses," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition. The group is seeking to have the prohibition overturned in federal court if the Secret Service fails to retract it.

"They are not banning large displays of the Star of David or Islamic symbols," Mahoney said. "The only resolution is that they would have to pull 'crosses' out. And they could easily protect religious freedom by saying, 'We ban all structures made of wood.'"

Notice how the good Reverend gets his kickers in a twist over the way the directive singles out crosses and not other religious symbols, particularly ones from Judaism and Islam? I wonder if the vampire coalition should mount a protest over the ban on coffins as well? Looking at the other items on the list, it seems obvious that the directive was talking about large structures or things that could be used to disguise weapons of some sort. Only someone who is either not very bright or is over-emotionally attached to their symbolic belief system would think otherwise.

That's the curious thing about the hypnotic effect of true belief in the three monotheistic religions, is that emotional identification with the symbolism or meaning of an object is so overwhelming that any perceived attack or snub against the symbol is perceived as a direct threat to the person themselves.

The Secret Service was working on a clarification Monday to resolve the flap. Spokesman Tom Mazur said the ban on crosses "is strictly in regards to structures -- certainly not the symbol."

"There is no prohibition on crosses, symbols or messages based on content -- only structures made of materials or of a size that could be used in a potentially threatening or harmful manner," Mazur said.

I wonder if Jesus walked his ministry in the American wild west, whether his followers today would remember his suffering by wearing a noose around their necks?

"Come down off the cross, we could use the wood."


Monday, January 10, 2005

Where Was God?


Published: January 10, 2005

Washington - In the aftermath of a cataclysm, with pictures of parents sobbing over dead infants driven into human consciousness around the globe, faith-shaking questions arise: Where was God?

Where was God indeed? Perhaps "God", or what is commonly known as "God" was right there all along? Perhaps "God", having knowledge of time and space, "knew" that the tsunami would strike on that day and was waiting, in predatory fashion, for the harvesting of souls so that "He" could enjoy a tasty feast from the pain and suffering that would result?


Why does a good and all-powerful deity permit such evil and grief to fall on so many thousands of innocents?

First of all, while "God" may be "all powerful" (at least in this density), it is an enormous assumption to describe Him as being "good". If he has "dominion" over this world, then it seems quite obvious that his agenda is far from being "good". It is this kind of automatic assumption, repeated ad nauseum in the media, that adds to the lie of consensus reality.

It is because we have been repeatedly conditioned with the idea of a compassionate, loving God, that the assumption is accepted without question.

But what if it isn't true?

What if what we have been told about God is all a lie? And I'm not taking an atheist position and assuming that God does not exist. What I'm suggesting is that perhaps everything we've been taught about "God" may be completely ass backwards. He is real enough, for an objective assessment of the dire straits we presently find ourselves in does seem to indicate a kind of "invisible hand" guiding human affairs that enjoys the misery and suffering of others.

The notion of a kind, compassionate God just doesn't stand up to scrutiny. There is no evidence that such a being exists.

It seems that the "God" that rules this world is in fact the Devil himself. A cold sinister evil whose depths of cunning and depravity seemingly knows no bounds.

This is the reality of our world.

What did these people do to deserve such suffering?

All is lessons.

After a similar natural disaster wiped out tens of thousands of lives in Lisbon in the 18th century, the philosopher Voltaire wrote "Candide," savagely satirizing optimists who still found comfort and hope in God.

Well, perhaps Voltaire was onto something. Perhaps he wasn't one to seek comfort in belief and illusion, and desired to know the truth of this world. Perhaps he could SEE that choosing the "comfort and hope" of an lie was waste of valuable energy.


After last month's Indian Ocean tsunami, the same anguished questioning is in the minds of millions of religious believers.

If "millions of religious believers" were experiencing "anguish" because of a faulty belief system, then it is only the belief system that needs to be changed in order for the anguish to go away.

Or so it seems to me.

The rest of this essay deals with the Book of Job and how the faithful should remain good obediant servants to the omnipotent One in spite of any number of calamities and disasters that befall them.

In other words, advice on how to shut up and not ask questions, no matter what evidence exists that this loving and compassionate "God" is not at all how he is presented to be.

In the end, a recipe for continued slumber.

Turn to the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible. It was written some 2,500 years ago during what must have been a crisis of faith. The covenant with Abraham - worship the one God, and his people would be protected - didn't seem to be working. The good died young, the wicked prospered; where was the promised justice?

The poet-priest who wrote this book began with a dialogue between God and the Satan, then a kind of prosecuting angel. When God pointed to "my servant Job" as most upright and devout, the Satan suggested Job worshipped God only because he had been given power and riches. On a bet that Job would stay faithful, God let the angel take the good man's possessions, kill his children and afflict him with loathsome boils.

The first point the Book of Job made was that suffering is not evidence of sin. When Job's friends said that he must have done something awful to deserve such misery, the reader knows that is false. Job's suffering was a test of his faith: even as he grew angry with God for being unjust - wishing he could sue him in a court of law - he never abandoned his belief.

And did this righteous Gentile get furious: "Damn the day that I was born!" Forget the so-called "patience of Job"; that legend is blown away by the shockingly irreverent biblical narrative. Job's famous expression of meek acceptance in the 1611 King James Version - "though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" - was a blatant misreading by nervous translators. Modern scholarship offers a much different translation: "He may slay me, I'll not quaver."

The point of Job's gutsy defiance of God's injustice - right there in the Bible - is that it is not blasphemous to challenge the highest authority when it inflicts a moral wrong. (I titled a book on this "The First Dissident.") Indeed, Job's demand that his unseen adversary show up at a trial with a written indictment gets an unexpected reaction: in a thunderous theophany, God appears before the startled man with the longest and most beautifully poetic speech attributed directly to him in Scripture.

Frankly, God's voice "out of the whirlwind" carries a message not all that satisfying to those wondering about moral mismanagement. Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal "I read the Book of Job last night - I don't think God comes well out of it."


The powerful voice demands of puny Man: "Where were you when I laid the Earth's foundations?" Summoning an image of the mythic sea-monster symbolizing Chaos, God asks, "Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a hook?" The poet-priest's point, I think, is that God is occupied bringing light to darkness, imposing physical order on chaos, and leaves his human creations free to work out moral justice on their own.

Job's moral outrage caused God to appear, thereby demonstrating that the sufferer who believes is never alone. Job abruptly stops complaining, and - in a prosaic happy ending that strikes me as tacked on by other sages so as to get the troublesome book accepted in the Hebrew canon - he is rewarded. (Christianity promises to rectify earthly injustice in an afterlife.)

Ah, there's the rub. Mere mortal man shall not question those trials and tribulations that seem to beset even the most fortunate among us. It is not our place to question the works of the Almighty, just place your blind unwavering obediance and faith in this most sadistic of Deities, and maybe (no guarantees of course), just maybe we will be rewarded in the afterlife.

Let me be the first to say no thank you to that Faustian bargain.

Job's lessons for today:

(1) Victims of this cataclysm in no way "deserved" a fate inflicted by the Leviathanic force of nature.

(2) Questioning God's inscrutable ways has its exemplar in the Bible and need not undermine faith.

(3) Humanity's obligation to ameliorate injustice on earth is being expressed in a surge of generosity that refutes Voltaire's cynicism.

More grist for that millstone around your neck.


Acts of God, Acts of Media

Norman Solomon
January 7, 2005

The new year has scarcely begun, but Americans watching television have already heard a lot about God.

When Larry King interviewed George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton the other night, CNN presented ample split-screen evidence that the Lord transcends political parties and backgrounds. The former presidents -- blue-blooded Yankee and hardscrabble Arkansan -- spoke eloquently about faith. By now, perhaps no subject has achieved more agreement in the USA's news media. Faith in God is a televised no-brainer.

"My faith is never shaken by a personal tragedy," said ex-President Bush, "or even a tragedy of this enormity." Clinton said: "It reminds us that we're not in control, that our faith is constantly tested by circumstances, but it should be deepened when we see the courageous response people are having, and the determination to endure." Both men praised the incumbent in the White House, presumptively a God-loving guy.

But, writing in the London-based Guardian four days into the new year, George Monbiot did the unholy math: "The U.S. government has so far pledged $350 million to the victims of the tsunami - and has spent $148 billion on the war in Iraq. The war has been running for 656 days. This means that the money pledged for the tsunami disaster by the United States is the equivalent of one and a half day's spending in Iraq." (The British government's killing-to-helping ratio, while not quite so extreme, is also overwhelmingly for death.)

In the media frame, it doesn't seem to matter that almost all the notable Americans invited on the networks to talk about their faith in God are supportive of bankrolling the carnage in Iraq. This is nothing new. For a long time, high-profile talk about belief in God has been a useful fog for agendas that enrich weapons manufacturers while helping the wealthy get wealthier and further impoverishing the already poor.

In autumn 1994, just weeks before the mid-term election when the GOP won the upper hand on Capitol Hill, the executive director of the conservative fundamentalist Christian Coalition spoke at the National Press Club. "Faith in God isn't what's wrong with America," Ralph Reed declared, "it's what is right with America." A decade later, Reed is one of the nation's top Republican operatives, and such rhetoric is routine.

No doubt many Americans like the profuse media talk about faith in God. If that's the case, they should say so -- and, judging from the steady media cacophony, a large number of them do. But what about the Americans who find that talk to be cloying, simplistic and manipulative? Whereís the media space for them?

One of the great media taboos is to sincerely question "faith in God" or to suggest that the superficial renditions of faith popularized in mass media are apt to paralyze more than empower.

With all the God talk, big media outlets create ongoing pressure for conformity. That may seem to be an affirmation of shared beliefs or, at worst, inconsequential. But banishing doubt runs the very real risk of banishing -- or at least ostracizing -- thought.

"I don't know if God exists and I don't care," Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wrote a few days ago, bucking the media tide. "God's will and design for this temporal and spatial vastness, if any, is so patently, deliberately impenetrable that I doubt any mortal has a grasp on it. The very inexplicability of sad events like the tsunami, like the AIDS crisis or even like the cancer death of the father of one of my daughter's 2nd-grade classmates last week are, to me, reminders to focus on our obligations to one another, not to the infinite; to honor the creator, if any, by honoring creation itself and hoping that's good enough."

But the media market is bullish on piety -- and very fond of the facile reverence that far-flung TV correspondents are now exuding from picturesque beaches struck by Acts of God. We don't need to impugn the sincerity of any individual to note that such reportage is good for the U.S. news business. And, in the political economy of corporate media compassion, it would be bad for the U.S. news business to devote anywhere near such extensive coverage to the children being destroyed by Pentagon firepower and wartime malnutrition in Iraq.

We're often told that God works in mysterious ways. But Washington's priorities are appreciably more intelligible. While the prospects for clearly deciphering life's unfathomable riddles remain dim, we ought to figure out how to stop the wholesale killers who've gained so much unholy power close to home.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Introduction from blogmaster

Hi, and welcome to Dogma Alert.

Over the coming weeks and months I will be posting the odd story here that catches my eye. Some will be from mainstream newspapers. others will be from what is considered "alternative news" sites. What all the stories will share in common is a connection to some kind of monotheistic religious viewpoint and it's impact on the believer and the world at large.

It is the author's contention that the Gods of the three main monotheistic religions, Jehova/Yahweh/Allah, are in fact the same entity. Organized religion for the most part serves as a cultural shaping device, a grand psychological meme that is deliberately used to keep the human race separate and at war with itself.

There does appear to be a connection to the current war in the Middle East and the involvement of the Christians and the Jews against the Muslims. Almost as if the one true God of the the monotheistic religions "feeds" off the negative energy that his believers create in their hatred for one another.

"You shall have no other Gods before me."
- Deuteronomy 5