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Night before last I finished finished a really slow and long, but also really interesting read of the Canadian anthrolopologist turned ethnobotanist Wade Davis’ One River, about Davis and an friend and their ethobotanist mentor and his British ethnobotanist role model’s explorations of the plants and indigenous peoples of the upper Amazon basin in Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. After reading the last page, I told the angels that avaricious white men and their Catholic and Protestant religions sure did screw up that area of South America and its many diverse tribes of people, who, as Davis told it, and I felt he told it well, were doing a whole lot better before the arrival of the white man and his religions. I suppose, though, you’d have to read One River to make your own determination. I will turn the copy I read back into the county library today.
Also night before last, I had a slew of dreams of my having dealings with Christian evangelists ranging from cult leaders to groups of young school children. I imagine what kicked that off was my having unexpectedly spent the Super Bowl among Christian evangelists of various ages and their leader, who left me with the sense they are going to be really surprised when they pass on from this world and see what life is like on the other side. The most interesting, for me, part of meeting this cult has been seeing them be blocked at every turn from leaving Key West to proselytize their views elsewhere. I told them God wanted them in Key West, because it is humanity’s proxy: as Key West goes, humanity is measured by heaven. I think maybe they thought I worked for the Devil, even though I told them many times who runs me.
I suppose as part of those dreams playing out in my waking life, born-again Christian Tim Gratz, of Key West, replied to part of yesterday’s Key West – ship of fools, under God, so to speak … post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
When I recite the Pledge of Allegiance at city commission and other government meetings, I leave out “under God” because that was not part of the Pledge when I learned it in grammar school, (So?) and because all nations are under God, (yes, in one sense all nations are “under God” but one thing that distinguishes the United States is that we acknowledge God’s sovereignty on our currency, in the pledge of allegiance, etc. Other nations may also so acknowledge (I am not sure) but for the pledge to state that our nation is “under God” does not imply that other nations are not. If I said, Timothy Gratz, under the laws of Florida, that does not imply that I am the only Floridian. Your logic is wrong here.) although few nations, if any, do God’s will. (Your latter phrase is probably true and reminds me of the famous Lincoln quote that what matters is not if God is on our side but rather if we are on God’s side.)
I think you missed the point – entirely.
Saying you are under God, or godly, does not make it so. What you do determines that. America has done plenty to prove it is not under God, or godly.
When I was a kid, the “under God” addition to the Pledge was a response to communism and was added to distinguish America from the Soviet Union. “under God” was self-serving, boastful, arrogant and just plain incorrect, and nothing has changed.
The Nation of Islam makes a similar boast. The Nation of Christendom makes a similar boast. The Nation of the Vatican makes a similar boast. I believe some Jewish sects make a similar boast. And that’s all it is, boasting. Birds of a feather.
I may not agree but now I see your point, that at least in your opinion America does not act like it us “under God” so it is hypocritical to so calim. Might well agree with you but need to reflect on it a bit.
After being pointed in nap dreams to Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee, I wrote to Tim:
I like it that America acknowledges God exists, and that it also recognizes there needs to be freedom of religion and freedom from it, so to speak. I do not like America, or any country, including the ones I named in my prior email, and adding to those the Republican and Democratic parties, and all political parties in America, saying they are in God’s favor, which is the precise meaning of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Make no mistake, Islam believes it is favored by God over America, and over Christendom and Judaism, and over all other religions on this world. I have just as big a problem with that, as I do with “under God” in the Pledge.
My mother’s parents were from westernish Kentucky. They were staunch southern Baptists, but they did not preach God to me; they simply loved and doted on me, and I loved seeing and being around them. My father’s parents also were staunch Southern Baptists, same church in Birmingham. My grandmother Bashinsky was deranged and I had little dealings with her in my youth. My grandfather Bashinsky was a pious man who preached his will for me, as he had done to my father. I didn’t care much for that grandfather, although I enjoyed the money he left me and my children enjoyed the money he left them.
I’m sure both sets of my grandparents felt America was favored by God, but neither set preached that to me. Nor did my parents preach that to me. I got sent off to a private high school in Chattanooga, The McCallie School, founded by two right-wing Presbyterian brothers, one still living when I was there. He preached in daily student body devotionals that he was a member of the Elect and Nikita Kruschev was the Anti-Christ and we would be called on to use the M-1’s we marched with 5 days a week to defend America from the Godless communists. He also told our Bible class that he had his wife of 60 years had had sex three times, twice to have children, once for pleasure, and he had regretted the third time ever since. His poor wife.
For me, “under God” in the Pledge is religious fanaticism, and it was the product of religious fanaticism when it was put into the Pledge. I think I recall hearing George W. Bush say on TV, or maybe read it in a news article, that God was telling him to invade Iraq. Something told him to invade Iraq, okay, but it was not God.
The creed of my Vanderbilt [Nashville] college fraternity, Kappa Alpha Order, Dieu et les dames, God and the women, still resonates with me. It’s an aspiration, not a boast; a pledge to try to follow God and be knightly in my dealings with women. Not that I didn’t trample that creed many times, as does Key West trample One Human Family many times, especially in its dealings with homeless people. However, KA’s creed was an exhortation. KW’s creed is, sadly, a boast, just like “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is a boast.
“God is great!” is not a boast, it is a statement of fact, or belief, depending on your actual experience with God. My god is greater than all other gods is a boast. My country, under God, is a boast. Boasting is a magnet for karma, not the fun kind. Just as KW invited severe testing by God for boasting it is One Human Family, America invited severe testing by God for boasting it is under God. Angels of the Lord decide who is “under God”, and to what degree. They also determine karma dispensation.
Personally, I doubt God gives a whole lot, if any, thought to America, Christendom, Islam, Judaism, or any religion on this world, which includes political parties. Vast as the Creation is, tiny as this planet is in the Big Scheme of Things, this world’s religions way over estimate their importance in God’s Infinite Eternal Unlimited Kingdom. Too bad “God’s will, not ours, be done” is not printed on all US currency. Too bad “God’s will, not ours, be done” is not how each public prayer ends.
In the same vein, from the most recent Keynoter - www.keysnet.com:
Boundaries stretched with City Council prayers, which receive criticism
BY RYAN MCCARTHY
February 5, 2014
The prayers at City Council meetings are drawing some criticism.
Invocations to open Marathon City Council meetings could be on their way out.
Marathon Mayor Dick Ramsay says he’ll do “everything I can to pull the plug” on the practice, which the council approved in December, if they continue to be heavily religious.
“If this continues, I’m absolutely committed to bringing this back to the council for reconsideration,” he said.
Marathon Church of God Pastor Nick Vaughn stirred the pot at the Jan. 14 council meeting when he used the word “Jesus,” which is apparently not allowed. Those giving invocations are permitted to say “God,” but not allude to any particular faith.
That created some backlash, but the issue has been exacerbated since Martin Luther Chapel Rev. Bruce Crabtree’s prayer prior to the Jan. 28 council meeting. Crabtree’s invocation went on more than three minutes and, while it didn’t allude to any particular faith, sounded like a sermon to some residents.
Speaking to God, he said, “the principles you have established go beyond the basic laws of science.” He alluded to creationism as the reason for the universe.
Councilman Mark Senmartin was the lone dissenter when the council voted to approve pre-meeting prayer and has remained seated for each invocation. He called Crabtree’s invocation a “creationist” speech.
“We need to make stricter the language so everybody knows what they’re allowed to say,” Senmartin said.
“This is exactly what I was concerned about,” he said. “Maybe the only thing that hasn’t happened yet is any particular groups saying, ‘We haven’t been represented here and now we want to sue you.’ That’s the only thing that hasn’t gone wrong yet.”
Vaughn told the Keynoter that a letter he received from the city inviting clergy members to participate did not prevent him from saying “Jesus.” He said he would not have volunteered if it had.
“What the letter said was we were to be sensitive to other people’s faith, in not so many words. It never said anything about not invoking the name of Jesus,” Vaughn said.
Councilwoman Ginger Snead, who sponsored the idea for invocations, defended Vaughn by noting the city letter does not forbid particular words, nor does the six-page resolution establishing the policy for the pre-meeting prayer.
The resolution requires only that “invocations did not advance or disparage a belief or affiliate government with specific faith.”
“In his mind, he went by what he was given and what our resolution says. He did what he was given, so he can’t be faulted for that. If we want something different, then that’s on us as a council,” she said.
Snead added that she’s received almost no feedback on the issue and that it would be a “power play” to attempt removing the prayer after just two meetings.
“It’s a sad state of affairs when with all the things we have going on in the city of Marathon that this is what people are worried about,” she said.
Vaughn told the Keynoter his Christian “faith instructs him” to believe in the Holy Trinity, so “when I’m invoking or praying to God, I’m praying to Jesus.”
Crabtree said his invocation was similar to many he’s given during his career. He moved to the Keys from Michigan in October.
“It was immensely shorter than a sermon would have been, and as such my expectation was that it was the appropriate length. I’m sorry if anyone was offended or people thought it went on too long,” he said.
“It would appear that whatever is said, someone is going to take exception to it,” Ramsay said. “Because of that and because the city is not in the business of creating controversy over faith-related issues, I personally think we should reevaluate what we’re doing.”
The first amendment guarantees that the government shall not establish a religion, nor prohibit the free practice thereof. Clearly this has been established as an absolute separation of church and state. It is time to give up these invocations and focus on governing Marathon.
Reply · 3 · Like · Follow Post · 15 hours ago
Anthony Bartleson · Head Monkey at Monkey Business
You should keep your imaginary friend to your self!
Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 12 hours ago
Mary Asher Fischer Fineberg · George Mason University
I think Marathon has a whole lot more to worry about than how a council person says an opening prayer. People just need to be respectful and tolerant. And as far as praying before meetings, we need prayer – as human beings, we need all the help we can get!
Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 12 hours ago
Bill Dunn · Top Commenter
Churches and homes are places for prayers and sermons. Council meetings are for conducting public business. Stop this tyranny of the Christian majority, please.
Reply · 1 · Like · Follow Post · 12 hours ago
Carol Tabellione Bartleson
It’s simple, especially to those who are always “preaching” the Constitution: Separation of Church and State.
Reply · 2 · Like · Follow Post · 12 hours ago
Meghan Donohue Vaughn · Works at Volunteer
Disclaimer: I’m Pastor Vaughn’s spouse. Pastor Nick is representing graciously in the community. Offering a general public prayer is not a conflict. The Constitution states, “government shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Government meetings from The Presidential Inauguration to the House of Representatives have an officiant whom offers a public prayer. It’s not an compulsion or endorsement but a reflection that we are a society with spiritual beliefs and practices. If “the reflection,” i.e., the simple prayer, is not your cup of tea, do as Mr. Senmartin did, ignore it, sit down or meditate upon your own personal beliefs. But do not kid yourself into thinking your rights are being violated. Unless one is a historical revisionist with one’s head in the sand, one cannot deny the influence of Judeo-Christian sacred writings and philosophy upon our Constitution and society, and the traditions of faith that informed the Framers of the Constitution of the United States.
Sloan Bashinsky · Janitor at God, Inc.
For me, there is nothing imaginary about God, angels, demons. I have the direct experience ongoing, and have had for many years now. The main “imaginary beings” who ride me like I’m a pack donkey are Jesus, Archangel Michael and Magdalene-Melchizedek (Melchizedek is an angelic order). For me, God, angels, demons are as real as any person I know. I don’t believe what I know from direct experience exists independently of any religion. However, I don’t care for people coming to government meetings and making prayers based on their personal beliefs, nor do I go to government meetings and make prayers, and if I did make such a prayer in a government meeting, requested or not, it would be short and sweet, something like, “God, please help us, we need your help!” or “God, please show us the best way to do what we have to do”, or “Your will, not ours, be done, O Lord”. I cannot imagine the people who invited the pastors and the pastors did not know they were pushing the envelop, and I would remind them, and others, of Matthew 6:6: “But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” As far as the US Constitution being based on the Bible (Judeo-Christian views), I don’t see that in the Constitution as a lay person nor as a lawyer. The Declaration of Independence makes several references to the Almighty, but none look Christian or Jewish to me. A number of times I have told the Key West City Commission that only God can change/fix long-term street people and/or addicts. They didn’t seem to care for hearing that, but that seemed because they didn’t like hearing there was no secular solution, not because only God had the solution. Dorothy Sherman, the founder of the soup kitchen in Key West , and after she passed on, her successor, Angela (don’t recall her last name), used to say “It’s our job to feed homeless people, it’s God’s job to change them.” The First Amendment not only protects freedom of religion, but also freedom from it. The Founding Fathers were well aware of church-controlled governments in England and Europe mistreating people who did not follow the state-church party line, mistreating is an understatement as I read history. They did not wish to see that happen in their new nation. I read where Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, who was not a Christian, led the charge against an effort to make Christianity the state religion in the Virginia Constitution, and he was successful in preventing that from happening. Proselytizing is one thing, praying to God for help, guidance, is something else altogether, and I imagine every person I know knows the difference.
Reply · Like · Unfollow Post · 2 seconds ago
In Monday’s Key West Citizen - www.keysnews.com:
Stand up for our Muslim friends, oppose bigotry
Let us stand up for our Muslim friends against the nonsense and ignorance being promoted by the Islamophobe and snake oil salesman Tim Roosenberg.
Apparently, Impact Community Church in Key West invited this bigotry and intolerance into our community and it is despicable. It seems everyone in the city received an invitation to listen to sheer nonsense. This “crusade” against Islam masquerading as biblical prophecy is just another ploy by those with a political purpose to justify so much suffering in our world. These folks are of the same persuasion as those who have justified enslaving Africans, stoning women, corraling Jews, and putting gays to death. Because of their vulnerability, Muslims are the latest group to be targeted. This individual will be spewing his ignorance in Key West for a couple of weeks, and Impact Community Church is giving him the platform.
Reach out to your Muslim friends in this community and elsewhere to let them know that you do not condone hatred, bigotry and intolerance. If you have no Muslim friends, educate yourself, reach out and seek out knowledge instead of stupidity.
I will never forget sitting in a Methodist Sunday school class in north Georgia, in June 2004, listening to the Sunday school teacher, a bikers for Christ gang leader, rant about how much he hated Muslims and that they all needed to be killed, as the class members sat there nodding their heads in agreement. Finally, I asked, “What about Jesus? What about turn the other cheek, love, do good to and pray for your enemies? The rant continued, the nodding heads continued. I bellowed, “Don’t Christians read the Bible?! In Genesis God told Abraham that Ishmael’s seed would become a great nation and would cause Isaac’s seed trouble. God predicted the war between Islam (Ishmael’s seed) and Judaism and Christendom (Issac). So what are you complaining about?”
You could have heard a pin drop. There was no further discussion that day of killing Muslims.
Christendom’s problem, and it is a really big problem, by claiming salvation through Jesus, Christendom requires of itself Jesus’ standard of behavior in the Gospels, which is a far higher standard of behavior than people practiced in that day before Jesus was in their midst. Nothing has changed since then.
On another Key West behavior front, the vicious van dweller criminal (when he’s in Key West) Kurt Wagner replied to parts of yesterday Key West – ship of fools, under God, so to speak … post at www.goodmorningkeywest.com:
Thumbs down (part 1)
Once again the City Commissioners tried to put their collective thumbs on the heads of the “financially challenged” residents of Key Weird. In typical fashion Rossi and Yaniz voted against allowing two benches being placed outside an ice cream shop for the simple reason a homeless person might put his unwashed ass on it. There are very few places in Key Weird for visitors to sit a few minuets to rest. I’m sure Rossi would prefer to have them sit in the bar at his “entertainment complex” so he can continue reaping the profits of his overpriced drinks. With any luck, when these two are 85 years old and not walking too well, I hope they collapse on Duval St. for lack of a place to rest. Kurt Wagner. temporarily in St.Thomas VI
Thumbs Down (part 2)
Are Yaniz and Rossi afraid of the “financially challenged”? Do they think all the crime is committed by them? How much crime is committed by the “financially challenged”? I looked up the arrests for a 7 day period ending Feb 1. The Key Weird Storm Troopers made 28 arrests. (they didn’t murder anyone) 6 homeless (21%), 7 out of town (25%) and 15 residents of Key Weird or Stock Island (54%) So who are the dangerous ones? I’m more in fear of the residents than any others! Kurt Wagner. temporarily in St. Thomas, VI
I, Sloan, imagine that in God’s eyes we all are are criminals and homeless.
Maybe when their rolls are called up yonder, homeless people (the least, in Key West mainstream’s sense) will be at the front of the line, and mainstream people (the greatest, in Key West mainstream’s sense) will be at the end of the line wondering, like homeless people at the end of the line each evening at KOTS (Key West’s overnight homeless shelter) wonder, if they will be able to get in when they reach the front of the line?
Maybe when their rolls are called up yonder, Christians who believe only they stand in favor with God will have a similar end of the line experience, ie. standing behind Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoist, Hindus, New Agers, Atheists, Pagans, Indigenous Peoples, etc.?
Maybe when their roll is called up yonder, Key West Christians, who believe only they are members of God’s One Human Family, will find themselves at the end of that line behind of all other Key West people?
If you claim One Human Family as your creed, you set a far higher standard for yourself before God, than if you do not claim that as your creed.
priest garb provided by the mischievous pirate boss of www.bigpinekey.com‘s popular Coconut Telegraph bitch and praise blog
Meanwhile, not entirely just for chuckles, from Facebook yesterday: