My heart is bleeding. Can you hear it?
September 13, 2003
This is old news by now (about a week old) but what the heck.
Since Scientology-related lawsuits can sometimes get convoluted, and I have been out of the anti-Scientology loop for several years, I've missed out on some of the fun. However, on my own Web site I briefly mention the original 1996 summary proceeding, which Karin won. The case went to a full hearing in 1999, which Karin won. The cult appealed, and the courts ruled that Karin's paraphrases of the sekrit skripturz are perfectly legal, thankyouverymuch.
For the uninitiated, the documents in question detail the origin of man's problems: an interplanetary despot named Xenu who killed off his excess population by freezing them, shipping their corpsicles to Earth in interstellar DC-8s, dropping them into volcanoes on Hawaii, and nuking them. Xenu then captured their disembodied souls and forced them to watch bad movies that implanted neuroses into them. As a result these disembodied souls cluster together and stick to the bodies of Scientologists, slowing down their enlightenment. The only solution to this problem is paying huge bucks to the Church of Scientology to repeat utter twaddle while holding soup cans connected to an electrical meter, which gets rid of the "Body Thetans."
And so now as a result of Scientology's loss, it is perfectly legal for anyone (in the Netherlands at least) to tell you this and even link you to it on the Web. This represents a total victory for free speech in the public interest.
September 10, 2003
September 09, 2003
BERLIN, Germany (AP) -- Germany has protested to Italy over a winery that labels its bottles with portraits of Adolf Hitler, the Justice Ministry said.
Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries recently wrote to her Italian counterpart to say the labels are "contemptible and tasteless" and asked him to see what could be done against them, spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said Friday.
The so-called "Fuehrerwein" bottles, part of Alessandro Lunardelli's "historic line," features 14 different labels portraying Hitler and other Nazis, with slogans such as "Seig Heil."
Other labels in the same line include portraits of other infamous characters of history, such as Italy's former fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
Coming soon to a supermarket near you: Idi Amin brand pork chops.
September 08, 2003
Here are another few texts often cited to make the case that God forbids the races to intermarry.
Please note that many of these references are often "spoof-texts" rather than proof-texts - that is, they are presented as nothing but a bare reference with no further commentary, often without quoting the verse itself, and frequently as one of a long list of such references. The idea of spoof-texting is to bury your opponent in a mound of Bible verses in the hope that one of them will "stick," your opponent looks like a fool because he can't respond adequately to each one, and he looks like he is arguing against God. It's a form of debating sleight-of-hand that has the appearance of being "Biblical." Nonetheless, here is a sample of lesser proofs.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:24-25)
Assertion: God made all creation after its kind and intended for it to reproduce after its kind. Therefore, it is wrong to cross those boundaries; therefore, interracial marriages are wrong.
Response: Yes, this verse says that God created all things after their kind. Big dogs make little dogs. Big horses make little horses. Big oak trees make little oak trees. And big people make little people. The anti-interracial-marriage advocate assumes that black people and white people, for example, are different "kinds." However, it is their ability to reproduce after their kind that proves they are the same kind.
When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. (Deut. 32:8)
Assertion: God has set the boundaries of the nations, and it is not man's place to cross those boundaries; therefore, interracial marriages are wrong.
Response: The exact meaning of this poetic passage is not entirely clear, but it appears to be referring to the specific allotments of land which God gave to the twelve tribes of Israel when they occupied the Promised Land.
Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. (Ezra 9:1-2)
Assertion: The Israelites had intermarried with the neighbouring nations, and according to Ezra, this was one of the gravest sins that they could have fallen into; therefore, interracial marriages are wrong.
Response: This passage is actually about mixed marriage. But unfortunately for the segregationists, it doesn't make their case. The real issue is that the women these Israelites were marrying were not only foreigners, but pagans. The text itself says that they were "doing according to their abominations": in other words, the women were drawing the children of Israel into pagan practices. This, not skin colour, was the real issue behind God's commands not to intermarry with the surrounding nations. In fact, it was possible for Gentiles to enter into the covenant and receive all the benefits thereof, if they subjected themselves to the Law (see Exod. 12:48-49, for example).
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? (Jeremiah 13:23)
Assertion: The answer to this question is no. When an "Ethiopian" (a black person) marries a white person, his children have lighter skin than him. This makes God a liar; therefore, interracial marriages are wrong.
Response: The point of Jer. 13:23 is not the colour of skin, but the very nature of man. The verse goes on to say, "then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." Man is by nature fundamentally wicked. Just as a man's skin colour is part of his fundamental makeup and cannot be changed at a whim, so is his sinfulness. Furthermore, the progeny of a mixed-race marriage does not have a changed skin colour; he has his own skin colour which is part of his fundamental makeup.
The case against interracial marriage is looking weaker all the time. It looks like there is no specific Biblical prohibition against such unions. My next step will be to make a positive case that there is, in fact, Scriptural reason not to forbid them.
Breaking news from the British scientific community:
DUCK THEORY IS QUACKERS
Scientists say they have sunk an enduring theory that a duck's quack does not produce an echo.
They claim to have proved, with the help of a farmyard duck called Daisy, that the theory is quackers.
Coming soon: the latest scientific evidence proving that men do not have one less rib than women because God took one of Adam's to make Eve, and the beaver did not get its flat tail because a rock or a log fell on it.
This organization had received an offer from the American Bible society of 40,000 Bibles to distribute in Iraq. Did they receive this gift with gladness? No, they turned it down because - get this - they were 40,000 copies of the New International Version, and the IFB group apparently is one that believes only the King James Version is the "true" Bible, at least in the English language.
So, having refused this handout, the organization was now seeking financial support to buy its own Bibles to distribute.
Had I received such a letter myself, my own response would have been along these lines:
Dear [IFB missionary organization]:
I am in receipt of your letter dated [date], concerning your need for funds to purchase Bibles to send to Iraq.
It seems to me that there could have been a wonderful symbiotic relationship between yourselves and the Bible Society. You have missionaries with an opportunity to distribute the Word of God in a country that was formerly closed to the Gospel; the Bible Society has 40,000 Bibles available to distribute. You receive the Bibles free of charge; the Bible Society gets them distributed free of charge. This is a win-win situation for you, the American Bible Society, and, not least, 40,000 Iraqis who are willing to receive the Scriptures, perhaps being exposed to the Gospel of life for the first time.
But instead of taking advantage of this free gift, probably worth at least $100,000, you reject it. Why? Because you are in bondage to a foolish ideology - based on false history, false theology, and false logic - that says that if it's not the King James, it's not "really" the Bible.
And now, having made this poor decision, you come begging to me and to others, expecting us to pay for what you were offered for nothing. I regret to inform you that I will not be doing that. Organizations such as yours are accountable before God and your supporters for the way you make use of the resources God has provided you. I regard your squandering of this opportunity as poor stewardship.
I urge you to reconsider your choice.
Yours very truly, blah blah blah.
That being said, another thought also occurred to me yesterday: why are so many English Bibles being sent to Iraq? Would the Bible in Arabic not be a better choice?
September 07, 2003
I hope to spend a few posts in the near future analyzing the Biblical proof-texts that are put forward by opponents of interracial marriage.
An objection could be raised that all I am doing is making a negative case against the psycho-fundies rather than presenting a positive case that God actually permits the races to intermarry. That much is true, and in fact I hope to have the chance to make a positive case in the future. However, in the meantime, keep in mind that the psycho-fundies maintain this proposition: It is God's will that the races not intermarry. Either that proposition is true or it is not. If a case cannot be made that it is true, I submit that it is safe to assume it is false.
Based on my experience debating this issue with these people, the two most significant proof-texts against interracial marriage are Genesis 10:5 and Acts 10:26.
By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. (Genesis 10:5)
From this and similar verses in Genesis 10 (cf. vv. 20, 32), we are told that since God divided the nations, it is not man's place to reunite them again. But is this what this verse actually says?
First of all, the author here has "jumped the gun," chronologically speaking. Note that he says the descendents of Japheth were divided "everyone after his tongue." And yet in chapter 11 we are still told that "the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech" (11:1). So Genesis 10:5,20,32 are best understood as "summary statements" of what comes later.
Genesis 11 begins with the well-known story of the Tower of Babel, in which we are told all men spoke one language. They also lived together on the plain of Shinar, where they began to build a massive city, culminating in a tall tower. The purpose of this colossal building project: to unify mankind in one place and to make a name for themselves.
And it is for this reason that God proposes to separate mankind, which he does by "confound[ing] their language" so they cannot understand each other. The purpose of this separation is twofold:
- Explicitly, it says God moved to squash their pride by destroying their ability to build their tower.
- Implicitly, it says God forced them into fulfilling the mandate to "[b]e fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Gen. 1:28), which they were disobeying by settling in a single location.
The result: "from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth" (11:9). Or, more specifically, the sons of Japheth, Ham, and Shem were "divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations" (10:5).
In other words, nothing in this passage says that God's purpose in scattering the peoples at Babel was to separate the races, or to keep them separate perpetually.
On to the next proof-text:
And [God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation . . . (Acts 17:26)
As the argument goes, this verse tells us that God has fixed the "bounds" (i.e. boundaries) of human habitation, and it is not up to us to cross those boundaries; therefore, interracial marriage is wrong.
Of course, it is not saying this at all. The thrust of this statement from Paul is not of divine law, but divine providence. The meaning is obscured somewhat in the KJV, but it basically says this: God is sovereign over the lives of men. He decides when they are born, and when they die. He decides when nations rise, and when they fall. And in between is that bit called life, and he determines where we spend that, too. What Paul is not saying is that because God has decreed the boundaries, therefore man may not cross those boundaries - because that, too, has already been determined in God's order of things. In short this is a statement of what is, not what ought to be.
And so the two major proof-texts against interracial marriage fail to make the case. Lord willing, in a future installment I will look at some of the other texts raised on this issue, and maybe even submit a positive rebuttal of my own.
I would be happy to hear any comments you may have on this subject; please feel free to contact me at mcclare @ ncf · ca. I reserve the right to bring any good points made in email into the blog - anonymously, of course, unless you are really being obnoxious.
 OK, I'll be honest. Acts 17:26 in the KJV is about as clear as mud. What the heck is "determined the times before appointed" supposed to mean, really?
September 05, 2003
Interracial marriage has been one of the hot topics on "Dr." Phil Kidd's guestbook lately. There is a strong belief in many psycho-fundy circles that interracial marriages are wrong. This was the motivation behind the infamous ban on interracial dating at Bob Jones University, for example.
Although most psycho-fundies don't appear to be overtly racist to me, it appears as though interracial marriages are the last racial taboo to fall. Frequently I have seen some fundy express distaste or even disgust with the idea of an interracial marriage, prefacing their remarks with "I'm not racist, but . . ."
Then, on the other hand, there are the more virulent sort, such as this post from "Dr." Kidd's guest book, added yesterday:
I have been to Japan, Okinawa, Iceland and Canada and it churns my stomach to see ANYONE marry a foreigner and to see the problems that they have. Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino and Mexican marriages, to an American citizen are not only indecent but they are a travesty of justice. Just what America needs, more homes without citizenship.
From a Bible standpoint I cannot find a lot of issues, but as an America I am crying rape.
Trying to extract a biblical foundation for this position from these people is like pulling hen's teeth. Nonetheless, I have managed to scrounge a few proof-texts together, and in subsequent entries I hope to analyze some of them, God willing.
"Dr." Phil Kidd is "One of America's Most Controversial Evangelists" according to his recently relaunched Web site. Most of the controversy involves his views on the American South, as well as race relations.
- On the former, he's all for it, and used to have his Web site festooned with Confederate flags. There was even a picture of him sporting a Confederate novelty tie and Confederate boxing gloves. Philly wisely replaced this picture with something more conventional, as it seems it finally dawned on him that the goofy get-up made him look like even more of a weiner than usual.
- On the latter, obviously he wishes there were a lot fewer relations between the races. The former incarnation of his Web site said he was equipping "white churches," or words to that effect. His sermons are full of put-downs of blacks and Mexicans (not to mention women and animals), and he is dead-set against mixed-race marriages.
Naturally the controversy surrounding this "controversial" "evangelist" has nothing to do with evangelism. Oddly enough, neither has any of the "preaching" I have heard - hysterical shrieking, to be more accurate. Philly the Kidd's Gospel is so non-controversial that it is nonexistent.
Philly very unwisely included a guestbook on the site. Some folks on the Fightin' Fundamentalist Forum got wind of it, and it became a hotbed of debate over Philly's views. Phil has a number of sycophants who believe he can say and do no wrong, particularly on the issue of interracial marriage, which I propose to tackle in a later entry.
"Dr." Kidd and his followers comprise the most psycho element of the psycho-fundy camp - a veritable cesspool of idiocy.
September 04, 2003
This is the first official post on the blog of the Crusty Curmudgeon.
The Crusty Curmudgeon is the dark side of Scott McClare, a normal person.
I owe the name to my friend Steve, who once noted how truly cynical I got at times. His word for this mindset was "crusty"; I added "curmudgeon." He and I both agree that I can take on a you-crazy-kids-get-off-my-lawn mindset when faced with the follies of the world.
This blog originally was going to be a convenient spot to review books and movies that I had read or seen recently, but now is more of a general-rambling kind of thing. Enjoy.