Friday, August 22, 2008

Jesus and Reality

I'm willing to concede that what we call religion is probably little more than a combination of folklore, wishful thinking and outright fraud. But, it doesn't matter, I'm still a christian.

How can that be? Am I stupid? Deluded?

Thought creates reality. Jesus becomes real because I believe in Jesus.

Let's look at some other ideas that are completely imaginary, yet even atheists believe in them so they become real.

Ideas like: Justice, Equality and Freedom.

Equality? You can't show me two human beings that are equal, let alone a whole nation or a whole species. Equality is just something we made up...and yet, how many of us have died fighting for it?

The same goes for Justice. Are you kidding me? There is no justice! In the "real world", justice just isn't possible, and yet we fight for it every day and we make it a reality.

Freedom? Freedom is bullshit. We are bound every second of every day by gravity, economics, age, physics, prejudice, ignorance, lack of energy, lack of knowledge, lack of motivation, greed, lust, envy, bureaucracy, hypocrisy, genetics and stupidity, and yet there is nothing more important to us Americans than Freedom.

You simply cannot posit these things as a reality using logic and science. These things only exist if we believe they exist and work to make them exist.

Space travel wasn't a reality in 1950. Reasonable people just didn't believe in such things: yet by believing in the impossible, man walked on the moon before 1970.

If we accepted only what we could prove was real and solid and tangible then the world would never grow and improve. It's by reaching beyond reality that we create reality, otherwise we might as well just go back to making tools from stone, living in caves and killing each other over a bite of antelope flesh.

I don't know if there was actually a guy walking around first century Palestine named Jesus doing all sorts of magic and stuff. It doesn't matter, because I am not in first century Palestine.

It doesn't matter because in the here and now, I have these really astounding writings attributed to Jesus and the even more amazing concept of Jesus that I can hold and use and build a better world.

Believing in Jesus helps me make really imaginary things like love, compassion, forgiveness and grace real and tangible in a way not possible if I didn't have a Jesus to guide me--and that's why I'm a christian.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What Is Art Aardman?

I've thought about art, written about art, talked about art and struggled with trying to make art all my life and I've never come up with anything half as good as this from Aardman studios:

Mad at MADD

Don't let the name fool you. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is just another faceless, self-perpetuating lobbying agency, determined to separate you from your civil liberties.

In the beginning MADD, really was women who had suffered loss from drunk driving, but that was a long time ago. In the beginning, they did fairly obvious sane stuff, like educating people about the dangers of drunk driving and lobbying the states to increase and enforce drunk driving laws.

They crossed the line pretty quickly though, and started pushing to prohibit the sale of alcohol by pushing back the legal drinking age and empowering vulture and pirate personal injury lawyers by making everybody but the person actually doing the drinking financially responsible for whatever damages the drunk causes.

Because people are not young very long, there was no substantial counter-lobby to MADD's efforts to raise the drinking age. Besides, who would dare go against them when they had positioned themselves as the wrathful, bereaved mothers of bloody, dismembered children--when in fact they were just another lobby, ran by professional lobbyists and professional fund-raisers with the bulk of their support coming from, you guessed it, the reactionary far right.

Recently, over one hundred American college and university presidents (including Francis Lucas from our own Millsaps College) sent a letter to congress asking that the legal drinking age be, again, lowered to eighteen. Called "The Amethyst Initiative", the letter suggests that problem drinking and the problems associated with drinking are easier to deal with if drinking is legal.

Lets be clear here: the statutory prohibition of intoxicating substances does not work, never has worked, and never will work.

In the first part of the twentieth century we tried to prohibit alcohol sales by constitutional amendment and it was a horrible failure, not only failing to deal with the issues of alcoholism, but also giving rise to national and international organized crime that still exists today, long after the original amendment was repealed. In other words, it was a colossal screw-up.

When the drinking age was raised to 21 back in the 1980's, MADD couldn't get the states to go along with it, so their lobbyists conspired with congress to extort state support for MADD's initiative by making the twenty-one drinking age a requirement to receive federal highway funding. How crappy is that? MADD extorted their will on a nation of free people, and we let it happen.

MADD's tactics haven't changed much over the years. In response to the Amethyst Initiative letter, MADD sent out a letter of their own, listing those who signed the letter and suggesting to parents that their children might be better off going somewhere else to school if the signers didn't withdraw their name--again, MADD uses tactics of extortion to enforce their will.

Even now, MADD lists all the signers on their website with easy to use forms so you can harass them by email into withdrawing their name from the list. Their claim is that the signers are using the initiative to rid themselves of the responsibility to police campuses to enforce drinking laws.

That's just bullshit. It's not the legal drinking age that forces college and university presidents to patrol the campuses to prevent drinking, it's the threat of civil litigation empowered by MADD and their vulture and pirate personal injury lawyers who look for the deepest pockets they can find when a student causes problems by their own decision to drink.

No college or university in this nation facilitates an atmosphere conducive to irresponsible drinking. That's an invention of the personal injury lawyers looking to make a buck off the situation and empowered by MADD.

The kids do this themselves--and the only way to deal with it is by dealing with the kids with honesty and integrity which you cannot do when you take away their legal right to drink.

People over the age of twenty-one are still just as likely to have problems with drinking and cause problems by drinking, but the deep pockets are no longer there since they are out of college and on their own, usually not making very much money. So, with nobody left to sue, MADD has most graciously allowed us to start drinking at the age of twenty-one.

Yet again, MADD does not seek to change public policy by intellectual discourse or education, but by bald-faced aggression and extortion.

Don't get me wrong. I HATE alcoholism and alcoholics. It has caused real problems in my life and in the lives of people I care about--but, right is right and what these people are doing is just wrong. There are better ways of dealing with alcohol than the MADD Gestapo.

The Amethyst Initiative is correct. The problems of alcohol are much easier dealt with when the consumption of alcohol is legal.

So, what can you do? How do we fight these people?

You can start by supporting the Amethyst Initiative here.

I know most of my readers are graduates and students at Millsaps College, so contact Dr. Lucas and let her know you support the Amethyst Initiative.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Limited Vocabulary

Recently, I wrote a piece entitled "Astronaut Punches Asshole". A reader emailed back, that they liked the article, but did I have to use that word?

Short answer: yes I had to use that word. For a number of reasons.

For one thing: it sounds cool. It has rhythm. Both words begin with A and S, you get the idea.

Secondly: the person being punched was indeed an asshole. Read the article and you'll know why.

Thirdly: I swear like a sailor. It's my style. When I was a kid, people said if you used the kind of words I used, it indicated a limited vocabulary. That's not actually true. I have an unusually broad vocabulary; I just happen to enjoy using dirty words.

I don't use the F-Bomb much, as I think it's overused, but "Ass" and related words are pretty high on my list though, including: Ass-hole, Ass-hat, Ass-munch, Ass-face, Ass-wipe and many more.

Does this mean my blog isn't fit for children? Are you kidding? By the age of eight, most children use language far worse than anything you'll see here. Being honest with them about the use of these words is just one way of showing them a little respect. Besides, there are far worse things than teaching a child to call an asshole an asshole.

Official Ted Lasso