Saturday, March 24, 2007

Starr King's YouTube Ad

Here it is over at Starr King's site. I had a hard time getting the YouTube version to play.

CahaliceBlog, Cuumbaya, and UU Enforcer all gave it a deserved thumbs-down. Joel inflicts dial-up users with the transcript,
The sole speaker is a student, Neal Anderson. Here is what he says: “I chose Starr King School for the Ministry because it best encapsulated the values that I have and the values that I wanted to expand upon. The explicit dedication to educating to counter oppression was very important to my call to ministry. I wanted to grow in my understanding of how Unitarian Universalism can live the countering of oppression in the world, and also how we as Unitarian Universalists can build sustainable and justice centered communities.”
Others deconstructed the above. I'm from Chicago so let me just add geez Neal sounds like a sap here. Can't he just say I want to fight the oppressor?

He's so abstract I don't have a clue what he means. I worry he'll graduate without a clue himself if he keeps this up.

Here's some video from Chicago's NBC news (it's violent and not for the faint) of a drunken Chicago Cop beating a woman barkeeper for refusing him another drink.

I belong to progressive blog in Chicago and asked the others there why they didn't speak out. We've had a pattern of abuse by Chicago Police for years. There had been nil posts on police brutality, and I thought local progressives too busy speaking out about the Patriot Act and missed the real oppression in the City. (Maybe because in one of the bluest of States, elected progressives might share some of the responsibility for the abuse?)

Read the comments back. The first blamed George Bush.

I'd hope Starr King would teach how we fight this oppression. Teach us what to do when confronted personally or as citizens viewing the YouTube afterwards.

Keep the talk concrete, because abstract talk leads to abstract solutions like blaming George Bush.

Maybe the response to Starr King is take the Divinity School into the taverns. Scholars may not meet God there but pick the right one and they can certainly meet the Devil incarnate without any abstraction.

Architecture and Morality: The President and his Land: Lessons from the Architect of the "Western White House" in Crawford

Corbusier talks with the his former Prof and the architect of Bush's ranch house.

From the comments.
The irony of our President, so hated by the lunatic left and the envirofreaks, having an enviromentally-friendly house vs. the carbon monster of the Gorecal of Doom is rich. You'll never hear a word about what the President has done in Crawford from the leftstream media.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Maryam Namazie at the National Secular Society: Doesn't Criticising Islam contribute to Racism?

Maryam Namazie responding to questions at the National Secular Society's seminar on Islam, Women's Rights and the Veil. Namazie links videos of her speech, Taslima Nasreen, and Mina Ahadi. Ahadi. I've only listened to the Q & A. Namazie points on the racism of critizing your own religion but making Islam off-limits. Don't hear that obvious point very often in the US.

xp Bill Baar's West Side

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Arabist: White Man discovers Orwell in Alaa Al Aswany

The Arabist on Michael Gove's reading of The Yacoubian Building. Give us western liberals a break Issander. We're trying and yours a tough world to fathom.

Also check the post on Egypt naming its first female judges.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Secular Islam Summit: Part 2

PJ Media has videos of interviews with Nibras Kazimi and Ibn Warraq thanks to Andrew's Notepad (where you can find more video from the summit).

How much is Unitarian Universalism typically American?

Reignite asks a very good question.
How much is Unitarian Universalism typically American? How much is Unitarian Universalism tied to the US American culture? This is probably a question that gets Canadian Unitarians going more than anyone else.

So much of what UUs speak and preach about is very tied to American culture. I heard a sermon about Abraham Lincoln the other day. A lot of what gets talked about is internal American politics, and the social justice dimension is always more American than global.
One reason I'm a UU is because it is so much United States of America. Penty to think about in this post and I'll come back to it.

Quick immediate thoughts:

Matt commented in response to a suggestion US ministers move to the UK: There is a further question - how many congregations could actually support a full-time minister? I'm certain Evangelicals would rephrase that into: how long would we support an Evangelical Minister until your congregation could support him/her?

And regarding, ...the social justice dimension is always more American than global, please read my comments on our failure to express solidarity with liberal Muslims.

Unitarian Record: "University calls off 'Islamic anti-semitism' talk" (Guardian Unlimited)

Unitarian Record quoting The Guardian,
"The University of Leeds this morning hit back at critics accusing it of censorship after it cancelled a public lecture on 'Islamic anti-semitism' due to be delivered by a visiting academic.

The university said it had cancelled the lecture on security grounds and insisted it had nothing to do with "academic freedom, freedom of speech, anti-semitism or Islamophobia."

The university's secretary, Richard Gair, said: "Those that are claiming that is the case are making mischief."
No comment on the mischief caused by those who threatened security here. What happened to Liberalism that will not face down mischief makers? Nick Cohen tells us,
Beyond the contortions and betrayals of liberal and leftish thinking lies a simple emotion that I don't believe Americans take account of: an insidious fear that has produced the ideal conditions for appeasement. Radical Islam does worry Europeans but we are trying to prevent an explosion by going along with Islamist victimhood. We blame ourselves for the Islamist rage, in the hope that our admission of guilt will pacify our enemies. We are scared, but not scared enough to take a stand.
xp Bill Baar's West Side

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Haidar's Hero: Ayatollah Sistani

via IraqSlogger.

Sistani would get my vote. Haider writes Iraqslogger,
It is clear for everyone that Ayatollah Sistani was the first highest religious authority in Iraq, which is a religious society, who established a fatwa (in English: religious order) that forbids any single aggressive act against any Baathist or against any governmental office.

Ayatollah Sistani was the first for calling for new, free and quick elections to choose the National Assembly where they can choose people to write the recent permanent constitution.

Ayatollah Sistani was against all types of discrimination. He met all tribes and also met Christian clerics who were impressed by his assuring for the unity of all of Iraq and that people from all types of religion must be treated as brothers and sisters.

Pete Stark's Unitarianism

From the LA Times,
"When the Secular Coalition asked me to complete a survey on my religious beliefs, I indicated I am a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being," Stark said. "Like our nation's founders, I strongly support the separation of church and state. I look forward to working with the Secular Coalition to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in science, marriage contracts, the military and the provision of social services."
My first thought was what Member of Congress doesn't consider themselves the supreme being, but if he Stark claims the secularist's label, he should voice solidarity with the secular Muslim signers of the St Petersburg Declaration.
We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.
Read it all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 on Body Worlds

I hated this exhibit. Now I know why. From,
I credit one of the more perceptive priest journalists and philosophers Fr. Richard John Neuhaus with the discovery that most of the corpses on display have bullet holes in the base of their skulls, so the corpses have been unduly appropriated. Body Worlds gets most of its cadavers from China where a bullet in the back of a head is the speediest way of execution. The “plastinated” ghastly recreations using real bodies were put together by German scientists. There: you’re not completely surprised to hear that, are you?
xp Bill Baar's West Side

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Secular Islam: The St. Petersburg Declaration

via PJ Media,
>Released by the delegates to the Secular Islam Summit, St. Petersburg, Florida on March 5, 2007

We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.

We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.

We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.

We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.

We call on the governments of the world to reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostacy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights;

eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women;

protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence;

reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims;

and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.

We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid strictures of orthodoxy.

We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.

We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine;

to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens;

and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.

Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must chose for themselves.

Endorsed by:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Magdi Allam
Mithal Al-Alusi
Shaker Al-Nabulsi
Nonie Darwish
Afhin Ellian
Tawfik Hamid
Shahriar Kabir
Hasan Mahmud
Wafa Sultan
Amir Taheri
Ibn Warraq
Manda Zand Ervin
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Being a good UU

Cuumbaya, CRAPonSundays, and Chalice Blog posting on political activism in UU Churches, and being a politically conservative UU; all prompted by this: UUA calls for shareholder votes on CEO pay.

****onSundays found the call embarrassing and drivel. I don't find it an especially politically conservative or liberal issue. Encouraging shareholder activism fine with me.

UUA does slide in a wider political-ethical issue though,
It’s a matter of social justice, said Tim Brennan, the UUA’s treasurer and vice president of finance, who filed the resolutions. “There are CEOs making as much in a day as the average worker makes in a year,” he said. The resolutions bring attention not only to the specific issue of executive compensation, he added, “but to the broader lack of fairness in the distribution of wealth in our country.”
We UU's seem to spout drivel here not because the issue a liberal one, but because we ignore the eithics of seizing from the wealthy to achieve income equality (listen to Clinton, I want to take those profits...).

What liberties do we lose to get equitable incomes; are the tradeoffs worth it? Who taxes, and how much? When have we reached equality? All questions needing answers and Brennan doesn't talk about them. I think because he, and many other UU's, share Sowell's bar of reason,

Many observers who say that they cannot understand how anyone can be worth $100 million a year do not realize that it is not necessary that they understand it, since it is not their money.

All of us have thousands of things happening around us that we do not understand. We use computers all the time but most of us could not build a computer if our life depended on it — and those few individuals who could probably couldn't grow orchids or train horses.

In short, we all have grossly inadequate knowledge in other people's specialties.

The idea that everything must "justify itself before the bar of reason" goes back at least as far as the 18th century. But that just makes it a candidate for the longest-running fallacy in the world.

Given the high degree of specialization in a modern economy, demanding that everything "justify itself before the bar of reason" means demanding that people who know what they are doing must be subject to the veto of people who don't have a clue about the decisions that they are second-guessing.

It means demanding that ignorance override knowledge.
Brennan just slips the broader issue into the call, unexamined; because he takes it for granted reasonable people understand.

We UU's leave unexamined our faith in the bar of reason . Given the history of the last century that makes us seem naive.

And it doesn't help we also appear bit blind to the rest of the world's peoples when we say ...distribution of wealth in our country... An oversight I think an internationally minded Evangelical, just like an international corporation, less prone to do today.


Above all written because I felt like I should first post on ****onSudays original point (that **** bothers me although I swear freely; just never in print).

What really caught my eye though was this sentence in Cuumbaya's post,
Those who don’t understand how a good UU can be a political conservative....
Who is a good UU?

I go back to my Church's covenant,
Being desirous of promoting practical goodness in the world, and aiding each other in our moral and religious improvement, we have associated ourselves together: not as agreeing in opinion, not as having attained universal truth in belief or perfection in character, but as seekers after Truth & Goodness.
If one can affirm those words, support the Church, and attend service regularly, I'd say you're a good UU. The Geneva Church has been there since 1846 and politics has changed over and over during the years, but the covenant holds up pretty well.

But I'll post more on this one as there was plenty to reflect on in these posts.