Sunday, April 1, 2007

"POSITIVE MORRIS"? HARDLY

Let me first say that my initial intention for this blog was nothing more than to vent my inner thoughts on the occurances within my small town. It was not meant as an expose' or for the purpose of stirring up trouble as some blogs are wont to do, which incidentally is fine with me. I simply comment on things I perceive in order to formulate my own thoughts. With that said, I will expound on another occurance which raised interest for me solely from the psychological and sociological perspective.

Apparently the ever-so-righteous "Positive Morris" is under the impression that he is under attack by what he perceives as "satan disciples". I had received a number of messages to the effect that one or more particular blogs had been posted Thursday night and then deleted the following day. Now, if it were only one individual claiming this, I would have let it go, but there were quite a few and I didn't want the comments to become redundant. The words stated in one of the deleted blogs were as follows:

"The Silver Tongue Speaks Against Christians
Xo and other Satan disciples attack me, Positive Morris.

Typical of the other blogs and the most recently established xo blog.
Morris and this Country is under attack my atheist, war mongering, death loving, and specifically idol worshipping liars.
Unite and get Rid of this Establishment. I have personally experienced within my family, businesses like this, in which they try to change the culture and thought process of our youth.
Let me be the one to say " X it out of town!"
To my atheist foes:
Christ Has Risen!
Easter is upon us,
God Bless you!"

It seems that "Positive" Morris views anyone who disagrees with or questions his particular Christian positivistic bent as being not only a cohort with Satan, but an "atheist, a war monger, a death lover and an idol-worshipping liar". I ran Positive Morris' deleted blog post by a friend of mine who studied psychology in college and asked her opinion of this statement. Her answer was, "Sounds like paranoia stemming from some sort of personality disorder that encompasses megalomania and delusionalism where there's a devil hiding behind every corner. Have you been talking to Pat Robertson?"

From what I gather, he seems to think that the owner of a recently opened store in Morris is pushing some sort of satanic "agenda" (deja vu aka the "pastor" and his Walmart rampage). There's been a lot of buzz about it in recent weeks, mostly because of articles posted in the local paper, which I view only online, since I don't subscribe to the paper. I had visited the store's website out of curiosity and found a link called "News: False Bloggers". The page outlines the correspondence of various letters written to the Voice of The People and a number of negative blog comments to the articles which were obviously written by one individual. The owner made attempts to defend her position in light of these attacks in order to protect her reputation and business.

The accusations of Positive Morris, that "they are trying to change the culture and thought process of youth" is for the most part a non sequitur. In case Positive Morris hasn't realized this yet, the culture has already changed as has the thought process of modern youth, not to mention modern society. This store is simply providing them what they previously lacked here and ventured to Joliet for. But again, try to state that to an individual who resides in a proverbial glass bubble, as per my first blog; it falls on deaf ears.

I received a message from the owner of the store who stated that she was appalled when she read Positive Morris's blog subject. She had replied with the following:

"??? Huh? What the heck are you talking about? I don't read this blog for a week and a half and all of a sudden I log on and my store's name is on this post as well as the previous, being accused of all sorts of things? LOL If you remember PM, I actually gave you kudos you when you first started this. Btw, I AM a Christian and if you don't believe me go ahead and test me. Wait..never mind, I'll tell you myself. Jesus is God incarnate, He died and rose on the 3rd day to save man from sin, He sits at the right hand of the Father, yea I believe in the trinity, yea I believe in salvation by grace thru faith alone as per Ephesians 2:8,9. If you'd like to test me in other areas of doctrine or if there's anything else you'd like to say to me, you know where I am. You can come and talk to me face to face and that goes for ANYONE else. Funny though...noone's approached me in person and in regards to any other accusations, I always post my name or initials"

This particular comment was censored by PM. One can only guess as to why. It's apparent this woman, at least by all traditional Christian doctrine standards that I am aware of, would be deemed a Christian and yet she is accused of being in cohorts with satan simply because her cultural viewpoint doesn't conform with that of PM's. Positive Morris had been offered an open opportunity to discuss his concerns with the owner, yet what does he choose to do under the guise of his religiosity as well as anonymity? Go on the attack in what I would deem a deceptive manner.

My question is this: If one does not claim to follow the teachings of the bible which clearly states that it is wrong to lie and deceive, ("satan" being the father of lies and deception according to the bible from what I remember), then is it hypocrisy when that individual chooses to deceive since he holds to no external defining moral basis from which to base his actions? On the other hand, if one DOES claim to follow the teachings of the bible holding to a defining moral plumbline and then makes a conscious, willful decision to deceive, does that individual not go against the grain of what he holds to be morally correct thereby consituting himself a hypocrite?

It has been my own experience that when one continually and willfully acts against the moral standard of his conscience of what he holds to be morally correct and true, a war of conscience will ensue resulting in guilt. I envision guilt as somewhat of it's own entity, almost a physical blob-like substance like a cancer. Because the "guilt", like a physical illness has to go somewhere, I believe it is either internalized or externalized. When internalized it may result in depression, blame, anger, and hatred toward oneself. When externalized, it may result in blame, anger and hatred toward others. Personally, I believe the christian concept of confession may be an antecdote for this problem. Without getting too graphic, let's just say its akin to what occurs after one has over imbibed and finds themselves hugging a toilet. The body needs to rid itself of the poison in order to be healthy again.

Maybe there's something to this Christianity after all. But it's nothing less than tragic when those who claim to believe in it, twist it and distort it for their own self aggrandizing purposes.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

WWJD?

An article taken from USA Today updated 8/23/2005 states the following:

Pat Robertson calls for assassination of Hugo Chavez
VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) — Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's The 700 Club.

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush, accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous. (Related story: Venezuela VP slams Robertson)

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Robertson, 75, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, accused the United States of failing to act when Chavez was briefly overthrown in 2002.

Electronic pages and a message to a Robertson spokeswoman were not immediately returned Monday evening.

Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporter and a major supplier of oil to the United States. The CIA estimates that U.S. markets absorb almost 59% of Venezuela's total exports.

Venezuela's government has demanded in the past that the United States crack down on Cuban and Venezuelan "terrorists" in Florida who they say are conspiring against Chavez.

Robertson has made controversial statements in the past. In October 2003, he suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to "kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-08-22-robertson-_x.htm

Other quotes by Pat Robertson:

"Wait a minute, I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should, quote, 'take him out,' and 'take him out' can be a number of things including kidnapping. There are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time."
--The 700 Club, August 24, 2005


"You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense, I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist. I can love the people who hold false opinions but I don't have to be nice to them."
--The 700 Club, January 14, 1991

"There will never be world peace until God's house and God's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world. How can there be peace when drunkards, drug dealers, communists, atheists, New Age worshipers of Satan, secular humanists, oppressive dictators, greedy money changers, revolutionary assassins, adulterers, and homosexuals are on top?"
--The New World Order, p.227

"The mission of the Christian Coalition is simple, to mobilize Christians-- one precinct at a time, one community at a time -- until once again we are the head and not the tail, and at the top rather than the bottom of our political system....the Christian Coalition will be the most powerful political force in America by the end of this decade.. We have enough votes to run this country... and when the people say, 'We've had enough,' we're going to take over!" - Pat Robertson, Mission of The Christian Coalition

Thursday, March 29, 2007

FREE SPEECH FOR ME, BUT NOT FOR THEE

Someone sent me a link to a blog the other day. Apparently it's author is a law student out of New York and it is entitled "Fundie Watch". It was sent to me because it relates to an incident that occured November of last year which had significance to the town in which I live.

The particular blog post is titled, "Web Site Combats Satanic Agenda of Wal-Mart".
http://fundiewatch.blogspot.com/2006/11/web-site-combats-satanic-agenda-of-wal.html

I can't say that I agree or disagree with the author, as I have long suspected that evil forces are behind the conception of Walmart otherwise known to some as "hellmart", but I will admit that the article raised some interest as it pertains to a letter written by a certain pastor in this town who has had a history of speaking out against issues and businesses which he sees as anti-biblical and "of the devil".

Now, I do not know the man and have never met him personally, but he seems to have great marketing skills in that every time he and his tiny band of do-gooders see a perceived evil about to penetrate Morris, he will gain the attention of the local press to get the word out that satanic agendas are being promoted.

This particular incident revolved around a campaign to "save walmart". Apparently some group of anti-gay Christians discovered that Walmart sells books about gay marriage and contributes money to a gay and lesbian organization. The pastor and his tiny posse of moral saviors latched on to this little tidbit, probably from some mass mailings "warning" the national clergy that Walmart has abandoned their original "family values" policy and has gone to hell in a handbasket...literally.
http://savewalmart.com/

The pastor's letter to the Morris Daily Herald stated the following:
On November 1, Wal-Mart reported a meager 0.5 percent increase in October same-store sales while predicting sales would be flat in November, according to Bloomberg News. This marks Wal-Mart’s worst sales performance in 10 years, while the rest of the retail industry gained nearly 5 percent! Company executives blamed the slump on a failed women’s fashion strategy that went too trendy and on disruptions from a store remodeling program. However, I and many others believe it mostly had to do with those who are staying away from the store as much as possible because of their executives’ decision to aggressively support homosexual groups and their agenda of trying to get the rest of us to accept this lifestyle and so-called “same-sex marriage”.
http://savewalmart.com/newsUpdatesDetail.asp?NewsUpdatesID=22

The author states in the blog post, "Now, I'm not a big fan of Wal-Mart. I don't like their practice of running local shops out of business, I don't like their sweat shop-produced clothing, and I don't like that they sell schlock merchandise masquerading as viable alternatives to good stuff. Sure, there are some name brands there, but if you really need to shop at Wally World (and let me be the first to admit, I sometimes have to), watch what you're buying. The less said about my old Apex brand DVD player (Wal-Mart chic!) the better. But that's not why fundies hate Wal-Mart, oh no. Flushing local economies down the toilet and Vietnamese child slaves are apparently nothing as insidious as the Homosexual Agenda!! Yup, that's right. Wal-Mart supports the queers! Come on, not Wal-Mart too! Isn't there anything still sacred for rednecks?"

The guy has a point. While Pastor "Barnyard", as the author calls him, is out holding up his signs claiming "Walmart Supports Sodomy", Walmart is laughing all the way to the bank while the downtown Morris stores and other businesses here die a slow, painful death.

The way I see it, Walmart saw an opportunity to make a buck and grab a tax write-off. It's what Walmart does best and as a privately owned corporation they have the right to sell whatever they want to whomever they want. The pastor has a right to refuse to shop there if he so chooses. But one can only imagine how the pastor would react if a national and local public media campaign was initiated against his "church" on Jefferson Street. After all, not all agree with his particular bent on Christianity.

We can only thank the pastor for pushing his agenda of trying to get the rest of us to accept his lifestyle by bringing to our attention the fact that Walmart is busy pushing, in his words, "their agenda of trying to get the rest of us to accept this lifestyle".

My only question is this: Will the pastor be offering food and shelter to homeless ex-walmart employees when Walmart goes belly-up because he and his ilk refuse to shop there as long as they promote their "gay agenda"?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

HYPOCRISY? SO WHAT EXACTLY IS IT?

Hypocrisy is the act of condemning another person, where the stated basis for the criticism is the breach of a rule which also applies to the critic and of which the critic is in breach to a similar or greater extent. A person engaged in hypocrisy is called a hypocrite. The word hypocrisy, derives from the Latin hypocrisis which further derives from the Greek hyp├│krisis -both meaning 'play-acting' or 'pretense'. The Greek noun derives from the compound verb hypokr─źnesthai to judge, which itself is etymologically related to the word "criticism".

What is and is not hypocrisy?
In an act of hypocrisy the aim is to condemn another person or people, not to condemn an act. To preach against an act of which one is oneself guilty, does not in itself constitute hypocrisy, even if one takes efforts to conceal one's behaviour. It becomes hypocrisy when it involves verbal attacks or demands of punishment against perpetrators of the act which one practices oneself.
Concealment or evasion is not necessary for hypocrisy; hypocrisy can involve the open practice of a behaviour for which one condemns others. If there is a salient difference between the critic and the criticised which makes the criticised person reproachable for the act, but the critic not, then it is not hypocrisy; e.g. a parent condemning their child for using a dangerous implement which the parent themselves uses is not a hypocrite. If the difference in status appealed to by the critic is bogus, then it is indeed hypocrisy. The term double standard is used, confusingly enough, for both cases, as a simple descriptive phrase in the case of the parents, and as a pejorative phrase for open hypocrisy in the second case.
Whether the criticism is based on the absence of a behaviour or on the practise of a behaviour, the same criteria for hypocrisy apply.

Hypocrisy has been described alongside lack of sincerity, as a characteristic which attracts particular opprobrium in the modern age. Many belief systems condemn behaviours related to hypocrisy. In some translations of the Book of Job, the Hebrew word chaneph is rendered as "hypocrite," though it usually means "godless" or "profane." In the Christian Bible, Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites in the passage known as the Woes of the Pharisees. In the Buddhist text Dhammapada, Gautama Buddha condemns a man who takes the appearance of an ascetic but is full of passions within. In Islam, the Qur'an rails against the munafiq - those who claim to be believers and peacemakers, thinking they are fooling Allah and others, but only fool themselves.

In psychology, hypocritical behavior is closely related to the fundamental attribution error: individuals are more likely to explain their own actions by their environment, yet they attribute the actions of others to 'innate characteristics', thus leading towards judging others while justifying ones' own actions.

Also, some people genuinely fail to recognize that they have character faults which they condemn in others. This is called Psychological projection. This is Self-deception rather than deliberate deception of other people. People understand vices which they are struggling to overcome or have overcome in the past. Efforts to get other people to overcome such vices may be sincere. There may be an element of hypocrisy as well if the actors do not readily admit how far they are or have been subject to these vices.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

BLOG FEVER - MAYBE AN ENEMA IS THE CURE

It seems that "blog fever" has hit the small town of roughly 13,000 in which I reside. Of course blogging has been around for years; just ask any jr high or high schooler. On one hand it's great to see people in this ass-end edge-of-nowhere town finally venture into the computerized 21st century. On the other hand, again just ask any jr high or high schooler what occurs when people are allowed free reign under the protective mask of anonymity to regurgitate their verbal spewage. (Can you say "chat room"?)

One blog in particular seems to be composed by a fairly articulate, educated individual. Odds have it that he/she didn't grow up here and has no ancestral ties here, but one never knows. The blogger, being somewhat careful to give the appearance of objectivity in their statements, comments on events and media reports within Morris and Grungy County with a skeptical eye, which is what any good critical thinker should do. The sentence structure and content seem to be fairly well thought out and include links to support the comments. I find this blog informative.
http://skepticalmorris.blogspot.com/

Then we have a little ditty called Sledgehammer Morris, which seems to have been created as an attack against the politico "powers-that-be" and their alleged underhanded, corrupt "Chicago-style" nepotism. This blog doesn't pretend to be anything other than it is; an unashamed and bold expose', demolishing the antics of "the enemy". The writer definitely has a witty, sarcastic bent, which I find entertaining although I may not always agree with his methods or opinions. Actually, it's not that I disagree...I just don't really give a rats ass about the political in-fighting between individuals who in their younger days all went to the same high school, drank in the same bars and married each others' sisters, brothers, cousins, etc... I find this blog amusing.
http://sledgehammermorris.blogspot.com/search?q=

Then we have the creme de la creme called "Positive Morris". I'll let this one speak for itself:
"This blog is about promoting Morris schools, businesses, churches and traditional family values.People are sick and tired of all the negative news reports of scandal, murder, disease, death and War. We can not read a newspaper or watch a newscast without this kind of negative reporting. Morris is a good Christian community, but gossip and rumor run rampant, this is contrary to our Christian teachings. Let’s turn the corner and put a stop to it by participating in this little community blog."

I won't even get into the potential first amendment (as per the Establishment Clause which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" together with the Free Exercise Clause, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof) violations of this blogger's claims of Morris being a "good Christian community".

In light of this blogger's claims, one has to wonder that if this is indeed a "good Christian community", then why do "gossip and rumor" run rampant? The blogger seems to think that it is the responsibility of the local politicians to keep our city within the moral confines of the blogger's "Christian" worldview. But is it their responsibility at all? And if Morris has failed in it's maintaining of "Christian teachings", is it possible that the church leaders have failed in instilling that in the community? And is it even THEIR job to do that in the first place?

The tone of the blog at first seemed to be one of "promoting" Morris, but when one looks deeper, it unabashedly appears to be promoting another agenda...it's own. The tone of the blog in recent days has taken on a sort of "superhero" mentality, being the promoter of "good christian values in Morris", more powerful (in his/her own estimation) than a locomotive and able to leap over perceived degenerates and anyone else he/she doesn't morally agree with, with a single bound. I find this blog to be self-serving and hypocritical.
http://www.positivemorris.blogspot.com/

This particular blogger wants to keep Morris a "good Christian community", akin to Mayberry, I would assume. But I question the premise that Morris ever WAS a "good Christian community" to begin with. Sure, we have a church on every corner...as well as bars. In fact, We have more bars per capita than any other city I have lived in, legitimate businesses I might add. Drive through downtown Morris any given night and you'll see a completely different world than the empty streets you see during the day. You could shoot a canon down Liberty street on any Saturday and not hit one vehicle. But come 9pm, it's loaded with cars. Guess where those car owners are?

And I highly doubt this is a recent occurance. I have heard stories from those now in their 30's, 40's and 50's about something called "busting a gut" in which they, teens and 20 somethings at the time, would drive up and down Liberty street apparently because that was the only entertainment available in a small town. I've heard stories of drug use, bar brawls, fights, teenage pregnancy, scandal, back "in the day"...and the list goes on and on.

It appears to me that Morris is experiencing a phenomena called "parallel universes". I'll save the intricate details of this metaphysical-like, quantum physics theory for another discussion, but in the very basic sense, it describes the concept that various dimensions or "realities" exist simultaneously.

Within one dimension, we have those who dwell in the idealized, Rockwellian Morris; a picture-perfect "traditional family values" glass bubble in which no evil influences may penetrate. They tend to come out only during the day and you will never find them in the "other" downtown Morris after 7pm, although they have been observed at some of the local restaurants on Sunday mornings after church, in the non-smoking section only. This Morris, in their view, is one in which all teens listen to their parents and are either football players or cheerleaders, people drink "sparingly" or not at all, drugs do not exist, everyone attends church, everyone is a "christian and a true blue right wing republican who condemns homosexuality, abortion and any other practice that doesn't fall within their conservative biblical Christian "positivity". Of course, these are generally the sames ones who, while condemning gossip, rumors, judgementalism, and "unChristlike" behavior are some of the first to perpetuate it, under the guise of righteous religiosity.

Another dimension consists of dwellers who raised a bit of "innocent" good ole boy or good ole girl hell back in the day. They have gone on to raise families, most likely marrying their high school sweetheart who was the sister, brother, or cousin of a friend or in a few cases a sister, brother or cousin. They have gone on to own businesses and obtain jobs while never leaving the confines of this county, or if they have left they've returned to their home town, which some have described as the "black hole of the universe" because it always "sucks you back in". These are the red, white and blue collar dwellers who talk a good talk on the outside, but don't always live up to it themselves. You'll usually find them in the local watering holes, restaurants and other well-known public places, both during the day and after 7pm engaging in the latest gossip. Inner conflict sometimes results because they realize the world is changing and they must try to adapt in many aspects, yet feel a need to cling to the old ways. It's akin to wearing two different shoes.

A new dimension has recently been discovered. This is what I term the "crossover" dimension. It occurs when those who have previously occupied other dimensions penetrate the above-described dimensions. These dwellers come from far away places and have theological, cultural, educational, and experiential backgrounds which are foreign to some of the current dwellers. This naturally results in instances of resistance stemming from fear of the unknown. These dwellers are viewed upon as outsiders who hold no relative validity so they tend to keep their thoughts to themselves, while trying to remain inconspicuous by appearing to blend in. It's safer that way.

In viewing these blogs, judging by the statements of both the bloggers and commenters on the blogs, this phenomena of multi dimensionality is alive and well in Morris. As one blogger quoted, "Tolerating others is the price we pay for being tolerated ourselves". Well stated.

What do I think of these blogs? Read the title again and figure it out for yourself.