Tag Archives: Christmas

Indeed, it’s the ‘Christians’ who wage war on the spirit of Christmas

“[Today’s Repugnican Tea Partiers] are most surely at odds with the spirit of Christmas,” concludes the Washington Post’s Harold Meyerson, adding, “Walls on the border, religious tests for admission, despising the poor — good thing Joseph and Mary didn’t have to encounter our modern-day defenders of the right as they scrambled from one country to another, desperate to save their son’s life.”

Of Mary and Joseph, Meyerson writes:

They were refugees, fleeing for their lives from one Middle Eastern country to the next.

As Matthew tells the tale, Joseph, fearing that the government had marked his newborn son for death, gathered up his wife and child and stole away by night across the Judean border into Egypt. And just in time: Unsure who, exactly, to kill, that government — a king named Herod, who’d heard some kid would one day become a rival king — proceeded to slaughter every remaining child in Bethlehem under the age of 2.

This isn’t a chapter of the Christmas story that has made it into the general celebration, but it’s there in the gospel, for those who give the gospels credence and for those who don’t.

For both groups, it’s clear that the authors of the New Testament intended to recount (for the believers) or compose (for the nons) a story that echoed the Old Testament’s concern for strangers, foreigners and refugees (“The stranger among you shall be as one born among you,” says Leviticus, “and you shall love him as yourself”), that foreshadowed Jesus’ teachings to care for castaways and the least among us, and that laid the foundation for institutional Christianity’s transnationalism.

Which is, perhaps, a long way of asking the question: Who’s really waging a war against Christmas in 2015? Secular multi-culturalists who, stealthily and nefariously, have somehow rendered Starbucks’ coffee cups a tad less festive? Or the self-proclaimed culture warriors on behalf of traditional values, who demand we leave refugees — even small children, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has made pitilessly clear — at the mercy of the latter-day Herods? Who condemn entire religions? Who fear and loathe strangers? …

Indeed, while I don’t believe the “miracles” in the Bible, such as the virgin birth, Jesus’ raising of the dead and his resurrection, it’s clear that today’s “Christians” don’t follow their own supposed beliefs, as exemplified by their rank xenophobia against Mexicans and others from Latin America (and Latinos in general, except for right-wing Cuban Americans [such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio]) and Muslims and other Middle Easterners, perhaps especially refugees from harsh sociopolitical conditions in the Middle East that the United States’ greedy, military meddling helped to create, and it’s clear that we secular humanists, ironically, are far more Christian in our morals than the “Christians” are.

Merry Christmas.

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Happy holidays, ‘Christo’fascists!

 

Oh, does that hurt? Too bad!

Recently my mother had sent me a package with Christmas* gifts, and I wrote her an e-mail to thank her for it.

“Happy holidays!” I concluded my e-mail. I immediately added: “Or, as you say in Arizona, merry Christmas! 😉

(I am a proud Northern Californian; I believe that California probably overall is the best state in the nation, although not perhaps to the extent that Texans believe that theirs is the supreme state. [To me, the only remarkable thing about Texas is that it’s a state that we can say is even worse than is Arizona. Probably.])

I was being cheeky in my e-mail to Mom, but, because there is truth to the joke, I guess that it was at least somewhat provocative.

My mother responded: “Hope you have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS (I don’t care whose toes I step on – [it’s] our tradition and I like to say MERRY CHRISTMAS, but don’t get me started on this).”

I was joking (for the most part), but I don’t think that she was.

So Mom has inspired this blog piece; consider it her CHRISTMAS gift to you.

The use of the greeting “Happy holidays” does not mean that you don’t get to celebrate Christmas if you so wish to do so. There is no “war” on Christmas.

Many years ago, when I first encountered “Happy holidays,” I just assumed that it meant to have a merry Christmas and a happy new year, and that it just saved a lot of words. (I mean, really, in a sense, there are four holidays in there: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.)

It seems to me that “Happy holidays” still can mean that; after all, the majority of Americans celebrate Christmas Day and then New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day a week later.

“Happy holidays” also means, or perhaps has come to mean, that you’re not sure whether or not the person to whom you’re speaking recognizes/celebrates Christmas, and so you’re trying to be sensitive to his or her religious beliefs.

What, exactly, is wrong with being sensitive to the fact that someone whom you don’t know might not share your religious beliefs, including your holidays?

Indeed, there is no “war” on Christmas, but there is a war on anyone having religious beliefs and holidays that aren’t in line with the majority of Americans’ (about 70 percent of Americans identify as “Christian”).

Indeed, so hostile have “good” “Christians” “defending” Christmas become that very often “Merry Christmas!” is said not with love in the utterer’s heart, but is said with hostile defiance, perhaps even as a warning to its target: This is Christian territory!

Needless to say, this is not the spirit of peace and goodwill toward all humankind that Jesus Christ espoused, in black in white, in the gospels.

And how strong are “Christians” in their “faith” if it’s not good enough for them that “only” about 70 percent of Americans are on their team?

Christianity is supposed to be about love, but in most American “Christians” we see only fear, including the fear that if 100 percent of the nation’s population isn’t on board, marching in lockstep, then Christianity is “threatened.”

As someone who identifies more as an atheist than as anything else — I do gravitate toward Buddhism, which is more of a philosophy than a religion, as Buddha (presuming that a historical Buddha did indeed exist), strictly speaking, was not a deity and he rejected deism) — to me, more than anything else, “Happy holidays” is a reference to the winter solstice, probably especially here in the northern hemisphere.

As Wikipedia notes of the winter solstice, “Winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Winter solstice occurs for the northern hemisphere in December and for the southern hemisphere in June.”

Scholars almost universally agree that if there was a historical Jesus (my best guess is that there was, but I don’t know whether there was or not, and neither do you), he very most likely was not born on December 25 or even in the few days surrounding it.

As Livescience.com puts it: “Researchers believe the Roman Catholic Church settled on December 25 for many reasons, such as that date’s ties to the winter solstice and Saturnalia, a festival dedicated to the Roman deity Saturn. By choosing this day to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, the church could co-opt the popular pagan festival, as well as the winter celebrations of other pagan religions.”

Christmas was ripped off from the pagans, and in any event, even the pagans were observing (and still today observe) the astronomical phenomenon of the shortest day and the longest night of the year. (Astronomical phenomena are objective and universal. We have different cultures, including different religions, to suit individual and tribal tastes, but we don’t have different astronomical phenomena to suit individual and tribal tastes.)

The winter solstice, to me, is the holiday, so if you say to me, “Happy holidays,” to me it means the winter solstice and probably New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, too (having picked January 1 as the start of the new year is incorrect, too – or, at the least, quite arbitrary – but that’s another blog post).

The bottom line: Feel perfectly, wondrously free to say “Merry Christmas” to those whom you know celebrate Christmas if you wish to do so; knock your jolly old soul out.

But if you don’t know whether or not the person to whom you’re speaking celebrates/recognizes Christmas, then why in the holy fuck would you want to say “Merry Christmas” to him or to her?

And to say “Merry Christmas” in order to shove your own fucking religious beliefs down others’ throats, because you’re so fucking sure that your religion is The One and Only True Religion to the extent that you believe that everyone else also should subscribe to it just makes you a fucking asshole (and therefore, I suppose, a likely Donald Trump voter [I haven’t yet asked Mom if she supports The Donald, because I don’t think that I want to know the answer…]).

To shove “Merry Christmas” and your other religious beliefs down others’ throats makes you no different, in spirit, from the assholes of ISIS who believe that they should shove their religious beliefs down others’ throats. You’re just not killing people (yet).

Happy holidays.

P.S. I recognize that “Happy holidays” might be offensive to some atheists and perhaps even to some agnostics, since “holiday” means “holy day,” but again, to me the wintertime “holiday” is the winter solstice, an annual astronomical event (and that’s scientific, not “holy,” if by “holy” we mean the involvement of a deity), and when coupled with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, it becomes “the holidays.” Thus, “Happy holidays.”

*I accept that Christmas is a wintertime holiday celebrated by most Americans. That’s what “Christmas” means to me. (“Christmas” to me does not mean the magically virginal birth of our lord and savior Jesus Christ on December 25 or on any other date of the year.)

Even though I’m an atheist or at least atheisty, I use the term “Christmas” myself, such as in “Christmas gifts” (which I give every year) and “Christmas tree,” but I don’t say “Merry Christmas” to those who might not celebrate/recognize the holiday.

Because I try not to be an asshole.

(No, pushing back against the “Christo”fascists, as I have done here, is not to be an asshole myself. Intolerance of intolerance is a good thing, not a bad thing. Jesus fuck.)

And, while we’re talking about fascism, “Christian” or otherwise, Donald Trump is a dangerous fascist who, if he actually became president, probably would require a Second-Amendment remedy.

Again: Happy holidays!

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YES, Mittens’ Mormonism MATTERS (and other heretical thoughts on this Easter Sunday)

Ah, Easter Sunday.

No better day (except Christmas, perhaps) to discuss religion.

The Los Angeles Times’ website had two interesting headlines this past week. The first, posted Thursday, was “Sen. Hatch Predicts Obama Campaign to ‘Throw Mormon Church’ at Romney.” It begins:

In a prediction of underhanded campaign tactics to come, [Mormon U.S.] Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told GOP delegates Tuesday that he foresees that President [Barack] Obama’s campaign will try to use Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith against him.

“You watch, they’re going to throw the Mormon church at him like you can’t believe it,” Hatch said.

He later reiterated his point on Wednesday in Draper, Utah.

“For them to say they aren’t going to smear Mitt Romney is bologna. It’s way out of bounds, but that’s what is going to happen.”

Hatch, also a Mormon, and seeking re-election in a state with more than 60 percent of the population following the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [the Mormon cult], specifically pointed his finger toward Obama’s campaign adviser David Axelrod and White House aide David Plouffe.

“Let me tell you something. The Obama people have some of the best political consultants in the country and they don’t get there because they’re always wonderful people. They’re very tough,” Hatch said. “I’ve met with Axelrod, he’s the best there is in the business. Plouffe, you’ve got to say he’s one of the best. And there is nothing they won’t do.” …

Yesterday, the L.A. Times ran another story, authored by someone else, with the headline “Obama Praised – and Pummeled – on Matters of Faith.”

Indeed, as the story points out:

… Few presidents have spoken about their religious faith as often, as deeply or as eloquently as Obama. “We worship an awesome God in the blue states,” he declared at the 2004 Democratic convention, and he has sought since then to rebuild ties between the Democratic Party and the world of faith.

Yet no president has faced such sustained hostility over issues of faith, including Republican charges that he is waging a “war on religion,” widespread suspicion about the sincerity of his Christian faith, and the persistent legend that he is a practicing Muslim. … [Emphasis mine.]

Indeed, Barack Obama’s having tossed some bones to the believers in God as A Super-Duper Wish-Granting and Punishment-Doling Big Santa Claus in the Sky on Crack — He’s making a list and checking it twice; he’s going to find out who’s naughty and nice! He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake! — always has unsettled me, someone whose views on religion decidedly do not follow those of the pack of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

However, I’ve lived with Obama’s occasional God crap because (1) I’ve pretty much had no choice, and (2) I’ve never had the sense that he would govern the nation theocratically — and certainly not as a Muslim!

The problem that the “Christo”fascists have with Obama is not that he has waged an actual “war on religion.” He has not. He has not ordered that any churches or any church publications be burned or banned, that any religious leaders be burned at the stake or crucified or even just exiled.

Shit, the Obama administration allows “Christo”fascist organizations to, as I understand it, blatantly violate their tax-exempt status by openly participating in politics and in political campaigns, such as in the “Christo”fascists’ jihad against women, non-heterosexuals, non-whites, non-“Christo”fascists, et. al.

(Disclosure: I never will forgive the Mormon and Catholic cults for their hateful, mean-spirited, anti-Christian support of the incredibly hateful, mean-spirited, anti-Christian Proposition 8, which wrote the hatred of and the discrimination against an historically oppressed minority group into the state’s constitution here in California.)

It has been business as usual for the “Christo”fascist churches under President Obama*, and any drop-off in church membership can be attributed to the fact that the backasswards, anti-science and anti-reality “Christo”fascism, which picks certain groups out for continued persecution and subjugation, in direct violation of the actual teachings of Jesus Christ — I need only point to the “Christo”fascists’ ongoing war on women, in which both Catholic Prick Santorum and Mormon Mittens Romney are active, bomb-lobbing enemy combatants — doesn’t fucking work in 2012, if it ever worked at all (it did not).

But the right-wing fascists love to blame everything, even their own miserable failings — perhaps especially their own miserable failings — on the nation’s first black president.

The problem that the “Christo”fascists have with Obama is not that he is waging some “war on religion,” but that he is not giving favored status to the stupid white men — like the cabals of stupid, old, evil white men who lead the Mormon cult and the Catholic cult, who would love to get their hands on the White House via Mormon Mittens Romney or Catholic Prick Santorum — stupid, evil white men who use the names of God and Jesus to try to advance their own personal lust for power and money.

Historically there have been two broad visions of Christianity.** The historically dominant one is the one supported by the likes of Prick Santorum and Mittens Romney, the one in which certain power-grubbing men have all of the power and the only way to God and Jesus and “salvation” is through these men — which is awfully convenient for these men, but not so great for the rest of us. They have the monopoly on God and Jesus and “salvation,” you see, and they will defend this monopoly because no one with a ridiculous amount of power and money will part with it without a fight.

The other vision of Christianity is a minority vision. It views spirituality as a personal matter that the individual must cultivate within herself or himself. Indeed, under this vision some gargantuan “Christian” institution cannot somehow magically “save” the individual merely by the individual’s identification with or membership of the institution. The individual has to do the work of “salvation.” No one else can do it for her or him.

Indeed, Jesus himself is recorded to have said, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5 and 6:6)

I see no other way to interpret that than that Jesus was saying that prayer is an intensely personal, not a public, matter, yet the “Christo”fascists are all about prayer in public, even in our public schools, although Jesus himself clearly called such practitioners and advocates “hypocrites.”

Jesus also had choice words about rich people, such as “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

Hmmm. Is multi-millionaire Mittens Romney going to heaven?

If his millions have bought him a method of shrinking himself so that he can squeeze through the eye of a needle, then sure.

But seriously, here is “Christo”fascist Mormon tool Orrin Hatch insinuating that all discussion of Mittens Romney’s Mormonism should be off limits, yet it’s been wide open fucking season on Barack Obama’s religious beliefs since before he took office. How conveniently convenient it is for the Mormon cult that we should be able to discuss Barack Obama’s religious beliefs (or supposed lack thereof) ad nauseam, but that to discuss Mittens’ religious beliefs is, according to Mormon cult spokesnake Sen. Orrin Hatch, “way out of bounds.”

This is the rank hypocrisy that Hatch and his “Christo”fascist ilk have been so steeped in for so long now that they apparently can’t even see it; they take it for granted like a fish takes water for granted.

Whatever Barack Obama does or does not actually believe about God and/or Jesus, I don’t much care, as long as he doesn’t try to govern the nation theocratically. In a nation of diverse believers and non-believers, to govern theocratically is to govern only for some and not for all. The only way to govern for all is to govern secularly.

I, for one American, don’t want theocracy. I want secular democracy. I have good reason to believe that Mittens Romney would take marching orders from the cabal of stupid, old, evil white men in Salt Lake City. Every Mormon is expected to obey and to answer to the cabal in Salt Lake City, which is to have the supreme authority in Mormons’ lives. Mormons ultimately don’t answer to their country. They answer to the cabal in Salt Lake City. I lived among Mormons in Arizona. I know.

Nor do I want Pope Palapatine’s puppet, Prick Santorum, in the Oval Office. I don’t have to worry about him being elected president, since he has a snowball’s chance in hell of that ever happening, but I’m not OK with him being vice president any more than I was OK with Sarah Palin being a heartbeat away from the highest political office in the land.

On this Easter Sunday, I want to tell the “Christo”fascists of the world: Fuck you. For centuries you have been calling the shots and persecuting your detractors in the names of God and Jesus Christ, using rank hypocrisy as your main weapon of choice. Your anti-Christian reign is ending. You know it, which is why you are in your death throes — and better, the rest of us who for centuries have been your victims know it.

*Indeed, as the L.A. Times notes:

Obama gets generally high marks from faith organizations for maintaining, and in some ways strengthening, the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships begun by [former “President”] George W. Bush. Obama faced pressure from secular liberals to scuttle the office, which was seen as blurring the line between church and state. Instead, he used it to reach out to faith groups across a broad spectrum of theology and politics.

“The president was very bold in deciding not just to drop something that a lot of people who supported him thought was not a great idea,” said Stanley Carlson-Thies, who served under Bush in what was then called the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.

Under Joshua Dubois, a Pentecostal minister Obama appointed to head the office, it has expanded its focus from primarily funneling government contracts to faith-based groups to also engaging religious organizations as volunteers. It has, for instance, trained churches and other religious organizations in disaster preparedness and response. It also enlisted more than 1,000 churches in a Job Clubs program to help the unemployed.

A rather different message has emerged from the Republican presidential contest. “This president is attacking religion, and is putting in place a secular agenda that our forefounders would not recognize,” his likely Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, has said. …

**For more on this, see the writings of Elaine Pagels, perhaps especially her seminal The Gnostic Gospels.

She begins her conclusion of that work with this paragraph:

It is the winners who write history — their way. No wonder, then, that the viewpoint of the successful majority has dominated all traditional accounts of the origin of Christianity. Ecclesiastical Christians first defined the terms (naming themselves “orthodox” and their opponents “heretics”); then they proceed to demonstrate — at least to their own satisfaction — that their triumph was historically inevitable, or, in religious terms, “guided by the Holy Spirit.”

In her work, Pagels chronicles how Christianity, quite early on, was hijacked by power-hungry, ruthless men who wished to mangle the message of Jesus Christ into something that no longer freed people, all people, as it was intended to do, but into something that instead enslaved people and that served these power-mad men and their own selfish, ultimately petty interests.

This bastardization of the teachings of Jesus Christ began as early as with Bishop Irenaeus, who within the two centuries after the death of the historical Jesus determined which early Christian gospels (there were many of them, not just four of them) would become official and “true” and which would be deemed apocryphal and “heretical.” Irenaeus advocated for a rigid, all-male hierarchy that decided all matters, against the early gnostic Christians’ belief that spirituality is an individual practice, not an institutional or hierarchal practice, and that this is what Jesus Christ taught.

Once the early patriarchal/hierarchal “Christian” church gained the military strength of the Roman empire under Roman Emperor Constantine about a century after Irenaeus, this bastardized vision of Christianity as a rigid patriarchy that could persecute — even slaughter — others in the names of God and Jesus became the dominant form of “Christianity” that we know today.

The early gnostic Christians — the true Christians, in my book — who by definition opposed hierarchy and militarism, were no match against the unholy alliance between the early patriarchal/hierarchal “Christians” and the militaristic Roman empire. They were, in essence, crucified, and their teachings, including the gnostic gospels, deemed “heretical” by the early patriarchal/hierarchal “Christian” church, were lost. (Many of the gnostic gospels later were discovered, however, especially the find in Egypt in 1945, as Pagels chronicles in her books on the topic.)

Bringing this true Christianity back would be, symbolically, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that, in my book, is the real message of Easter today.

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Desperate Rick Perry takes last refuge of the scoundrel: ‘Christianity’

As is the case with Repugnican Tea Party U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, we probably safely can ignore Repugnican Tea Party Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who, like Bachmann, can’t break even 10 percent in recent presidential polls of the members of his own fucking fascistic party. Like Bachmann, Perry would be lucky even to be considered for the Repugnican Tea Party’s vice presidential spot on the 2012 ticket.

Still, Rick Perry’s “Brokeback Mountain”-like anti-gay spot (apparently primarily meant for Iowans, who will caucus early next month) has gone viral to the point that I feel compelled to chime in.

Many have pointed out (correctly) that the jacket that Perry wears in the spot is fairly identical to the jacket worn by the late Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain” —

— and spoofs of the spot abound, including PhotoShop spoofs —

— and video spoofs such as this one, which is Perry’s spot “gay-dubbed”:

Perry deserves to be lampooned. Actually, he deserves worse. He apparently believes that the way to make up for his own glaring deficiencies is to attack an historically oppressed minority group, as though this were the 2004 presidential election (hey, gay-bashing worked pretty well for the last governor from Texas!). Yet the name of Perry’s Brokeback spot is “Strong.” Because yeah, it takes a big, strong, manly man to beat up on gays.

I’ve long suspected that Rick Perry in fact is a closet case, and the video of him giving an apparently drunken speech in New Hampshire in October pretty much confirms my suspicions — in the clip, it appears that Perry is drunk, and that alcohol, the great disinhibitor, brings out what’s deep inside Perry, as he displays much-less-than-macho verbalizations and gesticulations. (As I noted at the time, he acted like a giddy schoolgirl.)

Not that I want Rick Perry on my team — I do not — but if it looks like a queer duck, waddles like a queer duck, and quacks like a queer duck…

But let’s go beyond the image stuff and go ahead and tackle the “substance” of what Perry actually says in his spot. He says: “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

Wow. This is wrong on so many levels. Where to begin?

OK, first, I suppose, we need to define the word “Christian.” To me, the word means “one who is familiar with and who strives to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

By my definition, of course, Rick Perry and his ilk are not Christians. They are ignorant, fearful, violent (at least violent at heart and violent in spirit if not also physically violent) haters who are bound together not by anything remotely like love, but by their ignorance, their fearfulness and their hatred of the same “out” groups, such as non-heterosexuals, non-“Christians,” non-whites, non-Americans, non-wingnuts, et. al.

Also fundamentally, we need to ask why Perry is conflating non-discrimination within the U.S. military and our children’s ability to “celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” Perry’s “logic” here is as clear as is the “logic” of the “Christo”fascist fucktards who protest at U.S. military funerals, claiming that God kills U.S. soldiers abroad because the United States is too permissive on homosexuality. (What? You don’t see the clear link?)

We also need to look at Rick Perry’s utterly bogus claims of victimhood. “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian,” he whines, although anywhere from around 60 percent to 75 percent of Americans call themselves “Christians.” This is a persecuted minority? Yeah, you know, I, for one, haven’t seen a so-called “Christian” tossed to any lions recently.

Speaking of which, there is no fucking “war on Christmas.” I am so not a Christian (well, I agree with Jesus’ teachings that no one follows, but I certainly don’t identify with the fascistic hypocrites who call themselves “Christians”), but I give Christmas cards and Christmas gifts every year. Christmas is pretty deeply ingrained within the American culture, and affects you whether you identify yourself as a Christian or not.

If anyone has been destroying Christmas, it is those who have commercialized it, who have sucked every drop of spirituality from it in order to make a buck, and they enjoy the full support of the “Christo”fascist Repugnican Tea Partiers, so if anyone is destroying Christmas, it’s the wingnutty fascists who hypocritically blame others when, as usual, it is they who are to blame.

Anyone who wishes to celebrate Christmas in the United States of America may do so — but not with public funds (at least in the blue states, which for the most part honor the separation of church and state). That’s fair and that’s just. The same “Christo”facists who want to use our public funds to shove their own religious beliefs down everyone’s throats would go ballistic if those same public funds were used to promote another religion, such as Islam. And how would the “Christo”fascists feel about Muslim prayers in our public schools?

Yeah, fuck the “Christo”fascists.

Perry also remarks in his spot, “You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday” — is this Perry’s admission that he just calls himself a “Christian” since it’s good politics in the backasswards “Christo”fascist state of Texas? Is this Perry’s admission that he knows about as much about his own claimed religion as he knows about the U.S. Supreme Court, which he believes has eight justices, and not nine?

Speaking of Christianity, anyone who actually has read and comprehended the words of Jesus Christ as contained in the four gospels would oppose the very existence of the U.S. military, since Jesus taught love and peace and turning the other cheek — not bombing and gunning down and torturing and otherwise maiming and killing and inflicting pain and suffering upon others.

Jesus also said not one fucking word on homosexuality, at least not as recorded in the four gospels.

Obviously the holiday of Christmas was invented after Jesus’ death, so we can’t say that Jesus was pro-Christmas and still claim sanity, and this is what Jesus had to say about the public prayer that Rick “The U.S. Supreme Court Has Eight Justices” Perry claims is so central to Christianity:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” [Matthew 6:5 and Matthew 6:6]

Jesus clearly repudiated public prayer as being something that only hypocrites practice and instructed that his followers should pray in private.

We have all of these so-called “Christians” here in the United States of America, and I don’t believe that in my almost 44 years I’ve actually met any more than a handful of them, not by my reasonable definition of a Christian.

Rick Perry certainly isn’t a Christian. He’s just an apparent alcoholic closet case, a self-loather who has wanted the presidency of the United States of America to fill the endless black void that is his soul, and he has demonstrated that he is perfectly willing to persecute the already persecuted in order to get there. Just like Jesus would do, right? And just like Adolf Hitler and his henchmen did.*

*No, the Hitler comparison is not out there. The right-wing, fascistic/pro-corporate, “Christian” Nazis killed thousands of gay men, just as the American Taliban – the “Christo”fascists here at home, the majority of whom are aligned with the Repugnican Tea Party – would do if they could. Hitler’s political tactic was to whip up hatred of minorities (Jews, gays, gypsies, Communists, et. al.), and that’s what the politicians within the Repugnican Tea Party do also (with hatred of Muslims, gays, “illegals,” “socialists,” et. al.).

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Forgo the Christmas sweater and see Zemeckis’ ‘A Christmas Carol’

Film review (with gratuitous political commentary)

Charles Dickens character Scrooge played by Jim Carrey is shown ...

In this film publicity image released by Disney, from left, ...

In stills from Robert Zemeckis’ version of “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge, voiced by Jim Carrey, is confronted by the tortured ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley and is shown by the Ghost of Christmas Past the love that he gave up for the pursuit of money.

God bless Robert Zemeckis for bringing us “A Christmas Carol” at the same time that Glenn Beck (assuming that he really writes all of the books that are released under his name) has released his children’s picture book The Christmas Sweater (yes, I know, it’s frightening, a children’s book by the likes of Glenn Beck; if it is not a sign of the coming Apocalypse, then I don’t know what is).

Full admission: I would never purchase one of Glenn Beck’s books. I would never financially support a stupid white man, a dry drunk who claims that he is all about traditional values. Yes, Glenn Beck wants to drag all of us, kicking and screaming, back to the good old days — you know, the days when stupid white men like he, drunk on power, had complete control of everything, and we uppity women, non-whites, non-heterosexuals and non-Christians knew our place. (Um, yeah, that’s why if I had a child, I wouldn’t allow him or her to possess a copy of anything by Glenn Beck. Because I truly care about family values, and white supremacism, racism, misogyny, homphobia, xenophobia and “Christo”fascism are not family values.)

Anyway, although I’d never read anything by Beck, amazon.com does give this description of The Christmas Sweater (the full “novel” that the children’s picture book, released a year after the “novel” was released, is based upon) :

In Beck’s debut novel, the conservative radio and TV host makes a weak attempt at a holiday classic in the vein of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Despite his single mother’s financial hardships, 12-year-old Eddie is certain this Christmas he will receive his much-desired Huffy bike. To his dismay, what he finds under the tree is “a stupid, handmade, ugly sweater” that his mother carefully modeled after those she can’t afford at Sears (one of four places she keeps part-time jobs).

Eddie tosses the sweater and insults his mother before the two go visit his grandparents at their farmouse. On the drive home, though, Eddie’s exhausted mother falls asleep at the wheel and crashes, dying instantly. Sent to live with his grandparents, an increasingly bitter and angry Eddie lashes out at his accommodating guardians, engages in typical teenage angst and grapples with belief in God.

For all his focus on traditional family virtues like respect, love and forgiveness, Beck’s lightweight parable cruises on predictability, repetition and sentimentality.

That’s priceless: A materialistic baby boomer like Glenn Beck is going to lecture our kiddies hypocritically that they shouldn’t want stuff. Like the likes of Beck would pick the homemade sweater over the Huffy bike. And it’s incredibly and sickly ironic that Beck and his Fox “News” fully support the system of wage slavery in which a single mother would have to work more than one job, yet here is Beck writing about the tragedy of a single mother who has to work more than one job.

And what kind of kid’s book has the protagonist’s mother dying in a car wreck? Beck is one sick and twisted piece of shit, and I wouldn’t want my kids reading something by a sick and twisted piece of shit.

But I digress.

There is egomaniac Glenn Beck, who likens himself to Thomas Paine — yes, he actually released a book actually titled Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine — and then there is the real deal, Charles Dickens.

Wikipedia notes that Dickens, who lived from 1812 to 1870, “was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era and one of the most popular of all time. He created some of literature’s most memorable characters. His novels and short stories have never gone out of print. A concern with what he saw as the pressing need for social reform is a theme that runs throughout his work.”

Yup. While Beck writes a story about a boy who must feel awfully guilty that he wanted a bicycle over the sweater made for him by his mother, who works in sweat shops that Beck and Fox “News” support and who then dies in a grisly car wreck, Dickens was about doing something about the sweat shops.

Dickens was not about lecturing the downtrodden to just shut the fuck up and thank God for whatever they do have, which, from what I can tell, is the central message of The Christmas Sweater, a message that the plutocrats and corporatocrats are only too happy to have their Darth Vader in Glenn Beck deliver to our impressionable kiddies. (Further, why do the corporatists like Beck incessantly advertise their products and then criticize anyone for actually wanting one of their products, like a Huffy bike? They can’t fucking have it both ways.)

“A Christmas Carol” is, let’s face it, socialist.

The main character of “A Christmas Carol” is the Dick-Cheney-like Ebenezer Scrooge, who, when he sees the damage that his miserliness has caused others, does a 180 and decides to stop stealing other people’s money from them via the legalized thievery that is called “capitalism” (a.k.a. “just business”) and decides to give their rightful wealth back to them instead.

That’s hardly the Christmas message that the likes of “Fox” News’ Glenn Beck want to put out there, that the plutocrats should share the wealth that they have stolen and thus ease the suffering of the many around them. Why, that’s — socialist!

(Of course, Jesus Christ himself preached, over and over again, in black and white in the New Testament, about the evils of the rich [my favorite being his declaration that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven] and the virtue of helping the less fortunate, so Jesus must have been a socialist, too. And doesn’t Christmas come from Jesus Christ?)

But we can’t have a socialist/“socialist” — that is, a truly Christian — Christmas message put out there, so it’s the likes of Beck, with his fucking Christmas sweater, who are to save the day for the ultra-super-rich.

OK, my political commentary is over, so let me dive into Robert Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol.” I just wanted to put it into some sociopolitical context first.

Zemeckis, who brought us the “Back to the Future” trilogy and “Forrest Gump,” lately has been giving us computer-aided fare, with “The Polar Express,” “Beowulf” and now “A Christmas Carol.”

I’ve seen all three of those films, and, like Roger Ebert declared that he would do in his review of Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol,” I won’t regurgitate the plot of “A Christmas Carol,” which everyone already knows, but I will talk about the technological aspects of Zemeckis’ latest.

Zemeckis’ craftspeople are getting better at capturing realistic human expressions (especially human eyes), but they’re not fully there yet. I found the creepy unnaturalness of the characters’ CGI eyes in “The Polar Express” to be too much to even be able to get into the film (which, if memory serves, I saw at an IMAX theater, so it was even bigger and even more unintentionally scary).

“Beowulf” was an improvement on the CGI technology that Zemeckis uses these days, but “Beowulf” suffers from a poor storyline (isn’t Beowulf what high schoolers dread they’ll have to read?) and a poor screenplay (as well as from testosterone overload, a la “300”). Of all of the stories that Zemeckis could have adapted, why Beowulf?

No, we didn’t need another “A Christmas Carol,” either. You’re right. We didn’t. Except that we probably did. In these BushCheneyCorp-induced times of economic collapse and the subsequent national environment of fear and uncertainty that that collapse has caused, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the fact that the reason that there is so much poverty and suffering around us is that there are so many Ebenezer Scrooges around us.

Of course, Dickens’ story relies on four spirits to induce Ebenezer Scrooge to change his ways. In our case, we can’t count on spirits preventing the plutocrats from completely destroying our nation (although I must wonder if the ghost of Ronald Reagan would replace the spirit of Dickens’ Jacob Marley were a ghost to appear before the Scrooges of today). We, the people, might have to take matters into our own hands — the threat of which is why we have such things as “Fox” News and its henchmen like Glenn Beck.

(There I go again…)

Anyway, Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” has the eye thing down, at least where it comes to the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. Zemeckis’ CGI Scrooge is quite humanlike, but it’s the other characters, especially the extras in the streets, on whom the CGI technicians presumedly spent less time and effort, that have that unnatural, not-quite-human look that we have seen in “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf.”

Zemeckis makes the burly Ghost of Christmas Present surprisingly hunky, replete with a copious amount of apparently proudly displayed strawberry-blond chest hair (although apparently Zemeckis was fairly faithful to the appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Present as he appeared in Dickens’ original novel), and Zemeckis interprets the Ghost of Christmas Past interestingly — as a human-candle hybrid, with the head of the ghost being the flame of a white candle that occasionally flickers as the ghost speaks (which I, like Ebert did, found to be an interesting special effect).

Much of Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” is like a roller-coaster ride, with the latter three spirits zipping Ebenezer here and there, over rooftops and landscapes, in order to show him where he fucked up his life in the past, how his miserliness has harmed others in the present, and how his miserliness will affect him in the future if he doesn’t change his ways drastically.

The greatest liberty that Zemeckis took with “A Christmas Carol” is the segment in which he has Scrooge shrink to the size of a mouse during his time with the Ghost of Christmas Future. At first I took umbrage with this liberty — Dickens never shrunk Scrooge! — and other reviewers have said that they didn’t like it, but Zemeckis at least ultimately makes it work, especially when the mini-Scrooge finds himself in the home of his impoverished maid, who is talking to her husband about Scrooge after his death.  

Jim Carrey (who also gave us the live-action Grinch, recall) did an excellent job voicing Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. (Well, OK, he is credited with being the voice of the grim-reaper-like Ghost of Christmas Future, but I don’t recall that that ghost says a word…) Why Carrey has taken so much shit from reviewers, proclaiming in their sheep-like unison that One Jim Carrey is enough!, I don’t know. Jealousy over Carrey’s talents, maybe?

“A Christmas Carol,” although fully titled “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” (shudder — that a corporation would co-opt the anti-corporate Dickens is sickening), probably isn’t for small children. I found the slack-jawed ghost of Jacob Marley to be at least moderately disturbing, so I can’t imagine that most small children wouldn’t find it to be even more disturbing.

But most older children and adults — except for the plutocrats and corporatocrats and their supporters, of course, who equate the easing of poverty with “socialism” and who would regard Ebenezer Scrooge as a Great American Capitalist Hero — will enjoy Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol,” not only for its technological achievements (and you must see it in 3-D if it’s playing near you in 3-D), but also for the fact that it remains faithful to the spirit of Dickens’ short novel — which is the true spirit of Christmas.

Fuck Glenn Beck and his fucking Christmas sweater.

My grade: A

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