Category: religion

Gay marriage and my rights to a civil union

California Attorney General Jerry Brown created a good stir this week when he changed the wording of Proposition 8. Previously it “had been described as a measure to limit marriage between a man and a woman.” Now, it states “the initiative as a constitutional change to eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry.”

Prop. 8 backers are now going to sue over the change. Am I surprised? No. Am I annoyed? Deeply. I really want to see Prop. 8 fail. I applaud Brown for making the issue explicitly about civil rights- it’s not about protecting straight marriages, it’s about denying people the right to marry. Fundamentally that is wrong, and I would hate to see the state constitution explicitly diminish any groups civil rights. It also upsets me because it would retain a largely religious definition of marriage that isn’t entirely based on reason. Not exactly separation of church and state. So the will of the majority (and their beliefs) get to impinge on a minority. Fantastic. On the flip side, I know people who will claim their beliefs against gay marriage have nothing to do with religion, rather they’re “not natural” and ignore “procreation”. Hmm, so does that mean only people willing to have kids can be married? And what about gay couples who adopt or have a child? Really a marriage is just a contract between two people and society. This idea of a contract was central to women’s liberation in Victorian Britain, and it’s something that I think people can’t ignore. Why do gays want to be married? They want all the security provided through the marriage contract. How is that going to harm heterosexual marriage?

If there was a true state contract, removed from any cultural or religious values, allowing couples to enter a strictly civil union, then I would be for it. California has the Domestic Partnership law, which grants same sex couples and straight couples where one member is over the age of 62 a contract that allows them to most of the rights of marriage. What about straight couples where both members are under the age of 62? Oh, we can get married. What if we’re opposed to marriage because it’s definitions are bigoted and tied to religious beliefs? Then you’re screwed.

I’ve been entertaining the idea of a civil union for years now, and I can’t do it. Of course I’m too stubborn to cave in to the terrible definition of marriage we have today- I’d rather not compromise my values. (This might not be fair to my other half.) Will the world end because of this? No. Is it silly? Yes. I’m starting to feel that I might have to fight for my right to domestic partnership if Prop. 8 passes, because then I surely wouldn’t want to be married in the state of California.

i’m my own person

there’s a big brouha over at metatalk about anti-semitism and jewish identity. the question that sparked this debate was about a slumlord in brooklyn who happens to be hasidic. there’s really nothing new, but it did bring up some weird issues for me and my last name.

levine – it’s a jewish name. it’s root is levi, one of the 12 tribes of israel. am i jewish? hardly. my dad’s dad was jewish, but by all accounts he pretty much renounced the religion. my dad wasn’t raised jewish, his mom was secular. my mom’s catholic, so by all accounts i’m definitely not jewish, but i have the name. i know my brother has struggled with this identity in the past, and has flirted with conversion, but i never really thought about it. the thing is, i know for most people i’m no jewish. i don’t pretend to be, but i also can’t escape the last name because it’s part of my family history, for what little that’s worth. every so often somebdoy seems surprised when they find out i’m not really jewish, and then get sort of mean about it like i tried to pull a fast one. they’re just sensitive and looking for trouble.

i’m not saying i don’t find my family’s past to be interesting, it’s just not terribly important to me in my day to day function. i don’t think having a jewish grandfather i never met, or a walloniangradnmother defines me. i won’t even pretend to be croation even though that is one part of my family’s ethnicity that is clear and obvious. (klepic- it’s my middle name.) it’s weird because i keep hearing people being proud of their ancestor’s nationalities, but i can’t feel that same sense of pride. i am proud to be from carmichael. i am proud to have lots of strong and vibrant characters in my family. (my dad’s mom in particular has always been somebody i’ve worked imitating in ways.)

my brother has described me as a self-loathing jew (somewhat in jest), but i would contest it’s not true because i’m not jewish. i’m not german, nor dutch, nor croation. i’m californian and then american, because i think that’s impacted me more than anything else.

joe says, “the rapture is here!”

and i think he’s right. it’s a weird day when pat robertson and iranian president mahmoud ahmadinejad are not only in agreement but getting the same message from their own gods (or is it the same god?). people have it right when they describe this hateful duo as two peas in a pod.

this is just the start of the end. you know why? nuclear war is in our future and it scares me. why aren’t more people concerned about this? because american media is too busy either stating the obvious or totally messing up. i guess it’s easier to worry about domestic squabbles when world war 5 is just on the horizon. sound familiar?

welcome to the free zone…

i don’t know much about scientology, other than it’s just a scam to make money. after ready with scientology wiki i can appreciate how complex of a scam it is. this l. ron hubbard guy was into ellaborate ploys.

i was most suprised to find out that there was something of a reformation within scientology- where the reformers call it the free zone. makes the official church of scientology sound like a tyrant, doesn’t it? i also like how the free zone can’t use the word “scientology” at all (almost entirely due to financial reasons is my guess). here’s a passage from the free zone wiki:

The Church views “rogue” Scientologists with even more disdain than those who dismiss Hubbard’s teachings outright. It lumps all practitioners and believers of unsanctioned Scientology as “squirrels” — a term Hubbard coined to describe those who alter Scientology “technology” or practice it in a nonstandard fashion. This word is comparable in meaning to heretic. In practice, orthodox Scientologists use it to describe all Scientologists who practice outside the Church regardless of their adherence to the technology. This usage is at odds to Hubbard’s original meaning of the word. A lot of “squirrels” are former Church members who left the Church for various reasons — the Church frequently states they were dismissed for “unethical activities”, but many observers say that because of the different meaning ethics has in Scientology, this merely translates to a general accusation they did something the Church viewed as bad for Scientology.

The Church has taken steps to suppress Free Zone and shut it down when possible. It has used copyright and trademark laws to attack various Free Zone factions. Because of this, the Free Zone avoides the use of officially trademarked Scientology words, including Scientology itself.

squirrels! trademarks! oh my! that sounds like a church for me.

by the power of the union of charity…

most of the librarians here are lapsed catholics, and as such we talk about catholic ritual quite a lot. despite not really being catholic (i’ve never done ccd or anything formal), i seem to know a lot about catholic rituals. ok- old catholic rituals. blame medieval history, since most of it was recorded by catholics.

today two of my bosses started talking about something that sounds sorta neat- the living rosary.

The Living Rosary is endowed with great power before the throne of God through the union of charity which flows through its members. Immense are the graces and merits obtained daily by every member when united and animated by the Fire of Divine Love in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. One who prays the Rosary alone receives the grace and merits of a single Rosary, but if he or she is united with two million members, then all of the graces and merits of the whole are gained.

doesn’t that sound like some catholic super powers? i actually own a rosary, but i’ve never done it. maybe i should in order to practice for the living rosary. i could have super powers too!

also, the rosary brings up something i love linguistically. the etymology of the word bead:

1377, bede “prayer bead,” from O.E. gebed “prayer,” from P.Gmc. *beðan (cf. M.Du. bede, O.H.G. beta, Ger. bitte, Goth. bida). Shift in meaning came via beads threaded on a string to count prayers, and in phrases like to bid one’s beads, to count one’s beads. Ger. cognate Bitte is the usual word for conversational request “please.” Also related to bid (O.E. biddan) and Goth. bidjan “to ask, pray.” Sense transferred to “drop of liquid” 1596; to “small knob forming front sight of a gun” 1831 (Kentucky slang); hence draw a bead on “take aim at,” 1841, U.S. colloquial.

pray in german is still bieten. neat, huh?

intelligent voters outsmart intelligent design

the new york times ranan article today about how the 8 dover school board officials who were promoting intelligent deisgn were voted out of office. that’s right- all 8 of them!

“I think voters were tired of the trial, they were tired of intelligent design, they were tired of everything that this school board brought about,” said Bernadette Reinking, who was among the winners.

The election will not alter the facts on which the judge must decide the case. But if the intelligent design policy is defeated in court, the new school board could refuse to pursue an appeal. It could also withdraw the policy, a step that many challengers said they intended to take.

“We are all for it being discussed, but we do not want to see it in biology class,” said Judy McIlvaine, a member of the winning slate. “It is not a science.”

and the nominee is…

samuel a. alito jr.!!!! come on down!!!

natually, bush’s announcement of alito as the next supreme court nominee is big news. the news doesn’t stop for halloween. is alito shocking? at least he was actually a judge, that’s an improvement. is he a good guy? of course not- how can bush actually support somebody who isn’t on the dark side?

alito would be the fifth catholic on the supreme court, which is a little weird if you ask me. why would papists have such sway in the court? because rome keeps them tied to the same dogma that bush wants to govern the world by. scary? nah. am i being stupid? probably.

allright. happy halloween.

giving up on intelligence…

the whole intelligent design debate is really starting to worry me. is america really becoming jesusland?

i understand that some people who have religious beliefs may feel threatened by secular society telling them that they are bad/stupid/wrong. i don’t think people should be harrassed for their beliefs, whether or not they have some or not. i guess it’s just the rational side of the small-l-libertarian beliefs. (since when do i have to preface libertarian beliefs with the stupid “small-l”? it’s stupid how quick some people want to jump on the libertarian must always mean thos libertarians.)

in an article, this quote by eugenie scott, the executive director for the national center for science education, really made me see what the real tension is:

“People don’t show up here (at the courtroom) because they believe evolution is bad science,” Scott said. “They show up because they believe that if they accept evolution, then they are abandoning their religious beliefs. They see it as an either/or proposition: Either evolution happened, or God loves you.”

until secular people understand this and respect is (more than they do now), then i think we will become jesus land. the more the liberals and other “enlightened” people ignore and refuse to give this problem its full weight, the less control they’ll have elsewhere.

let us all pray


Originally uploaded by bd34r.

pastafarianism is one of the fastest growing religions around. they finally got with the programme and now how the required “calvin praying” logo. it’d be funnier if it was calvin peeing, but i like the flying spaghetti monster. maybe it could have the fsm peeing on calvin?

how to cope

yesterday i wrote about the beebs coverage of the london bombings. i’m still not sure what words i should use to describe them, but that’s not the point.

today the bbc questions uk multi-culturism. larry and i got into a debat about it the other night, and i still don’t really have an answer. i don’t think multi-culti should just be abandoned, but then again i’m a young optimist (despite how it seems) and know nothing.

compare that to their coverage of the “ordinary lives” of the four bombers. aside from the russell square bomber (who’s just been named), they have nice little stories about each of the men (in some cases boys) involved. this is how they closed the description of shehzad tanweer, 22:

Neighbours described the graduate, who studied at Leeds Metropolitan University, as a “good Muslim”. Others said he was a “nice lad” who could “get on with anyone”.

Yet Shehzad Tanweer detonated a bomb on a Circle Line train between Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations which killed seven people, including himself, and injured over 100 more.

sounds like something ripped from the today show.

chilling confessions

with the recent bombings/attacks/what have you in london by muslin extremists/radicals/terrorists/what have you, i’ve been thinking more and more about the murder of theo von gogh. his murderer just stood trial in the netherlands and has confessed to killing van gogh. mohammed bouyeri said at trial:

“I did what I did purely out of my beliefs. I want you to know that I acted out of conviction and not that I took his life because he was Dutch or because I was Moroccan and felt insulted. … If I ever get free, I would do it again.”

against people like him, i don’t know how the war will be won.

home grown problems?

lexington green posted this article on dr. frank’s blog today about extreme islamists in luton.

“As far as I’m concerned, when they bomb London, the bigger the better,” says Abdul Haq, the social worker. “I know it’s going to happen because Sheikh bin Laden said so. Like Bali, like Turkey, like Madrid – I pray for it, I look forward to the day.”

“Pass the brown sauce, brother,” says Abu Malaahim, the IT specialist, devouring his chicken and chips.

ok, so this quote may undermine the point- there are extremists in the western world and their numbers are growing. it’s not suprising of course, look at the netherlands, germany, or france. it seems that a bulk of the western european extremists are essentially being funded (if not totally supported) by the governments they want to destroy. larry, please help me reconcile this.