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December 26, 2006 - December 19, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006


A Step Too Far.

God of the atheists, Richard Dawkins

THUS SPAKE THE BEAGLE... It's understandable that a significant number of scientists would become atheists. The scientific method that rules their professional lives insists that they must concern themselves only with phenomena which can be measured. It's not much of a leap from there to believing that what cannot be measured does not exist. The concept of the divine, being a concept, cannot be measured. Therefore, the scientific mind can easily conclude that the divine does not exist or is irrelevant even if it does.

Those who observe that there is much which cannot be measured but which also obviously exists -- e.g., the human imagination -- may disagree with such a conclusion, but there is no particular need to condemn it out of hand. It is a consequence of the practical utility of creating specialists, which is accomplished by establishing within individuals a frame-of-reference so focused in a particular direction that it may amputate or truncate other perspectives. We have athletes who know or care nothing about anything but sports or even their own sport. We have artists who come to believe that all the experience in their ken is nothing but fuel for their work. We have mothers who dote so completely on their own children that they do not accept the primacy of any human value outside that bond. We have ideologues of every description -- political, philosophical, and, yes, religious -- who behold the panorama of life and see in it only an allegory of the concepts they hold most dear.

Specialist viewpoints of this sort become dangerous when they reach the level of certainty that moves them to insist that all other viewpoints must be brought into conformance with their own. This is the step too far which almost always precipitates death and disaster for everyone involved. This is a step the famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has recently taken by condemning all religion and promoting in its place a philosophy of atheism characterized by such hostile provocations as The Blasphemy Challenge. (see their major product here.)

In case you're not familiar with it, here's a brief introduction of the challenge via YouTube.



The rationale of Richard Dawkins for supporting this kind of cultural flamethrowing is summarized in an interview he gave to Salon magazine back in April 2005.  Here are some representative quotes:

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explains why God is a delusion, religion is a virus, and America has slipped back into the Dark Ages.

Q... so many people resist believing in evolution. Where does the resistance come from?

A. It comes, I'm sorry to say, from religion. And from bad religion. You won't find any opposition to the idea of evolution among sophisticated, educated theologians. It comes from an exceedingly retarded, primitive version of religion, which unfortunately is at present undergoing an epidemic in the United States. Not in Europe, not in Britain, but in the United States.

My American friends tell me that you are slipping towards a theocratic Dark Age. Which is very disagreeable for the very large number of educated, intelligent and right-thinking people in America. Unfortunately, at present, it's slightly outnumbered by the ignorant, uneducated people who voted Bush in...

Q. ...why do we insist on believing in God?

A. From a biological point of view, there are lots of different theories about why we have this extraordinary predisposition to believe in supernatural things. One suggestion is that the child mind is, for very good Darwinian reasons, susceptible to infection the same way a computer is. In order to be useful, a computer has to be programmable, to obey whatever it's told to do. That automatically makes it vulnerable to computer viruses, which are programs that say, "Spread me, copy me, pass me on." Once a viral program gets started, there is nothing to stop it.

Similarly, the child brain is preprogrammed by natural selection to obey and believe what parents and other adults tell it. In general, it's a good thing that child brains should be susceptible to being taught what to do and what to believe by adults. But this necessarily carries the down side that bad ideas, useless ideas, waste of time ideas like rain dances and other religious customs, will also be passed down the generations...

Q. What are... negative connotations [of "The God Delusion]?

A. A delusion that encourages belief where there is no evidence is asking for trouble. Disagreements between incompatible beliefs cannot be settled by reasoned argument because reasoned argument is drummed out of those trained in religion from the cradle. Instead, disagreements are settled by other means which, in extreme cases, inevitably become violent. Scientists disagree among themselves but they never fight over their disagreements. They argue about evidence or go out and seek new evidence. Much the same is true of philosophers, historians and literary critics.

But you don't do that if you just know your holy book is the God-written truth and the other guy knows that his incompatible scripture is too. People brought up to believe in faith and private revelation cannot be persuaded by evidence to change their minds. No wonder religious zealots throughout history have resorted to torture and execution, to crusades and jihads, to holy wars and purges and pogroms, to the Inquisition and the burning of witches.

Q. What are the dark sides of religion today?

A. Terrorism in the Middle East, militant Zionism, 9/11, the Northern Ireland "troubles," genocide, which turns out to be "credicide" in Yugoslavia, the subversion of American science education, oppression of women in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and the Roman Catholic Church, which thinks you can't be a valid priest without testicles.

Q. How would we be better off without religion?

A. We'd all be freed to concentrate on the only life we are ever going to have. We'd be free to exult in the privilege -- the remarkable good fortune -- that each one of us enjoys through having been being born. An astronomically overwhelming majority of the people who could be born never will be. You are one of the tiny minority whose number came up. Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one. The world would be a better place if we all had this positive attitude to life. It would also be a better place if morality was all about doing good to others and refraining from hurting them, rather than religion's morbid obsession with private sin and the evils of sexual enjoyment.

In his intro, the interviewer noted that Dawkins had recently "signed an agreement with British television to make a documentary about the destructive role of religion in modern history, tentatively titled 'The Root of All Evil.'" He also commented that during the interview Dawkins, though famously argumentative, "was as gracious as he was punctiliously dressed in a crisp white shirt and soft blazer."

No wonder the scientist was gracious. The interviewer challenged him on nothing. He failed, for example, to ask the single most obvious question one could ask of a man who describes religion as "the root of all evil" and claims that "the world would be a better place" without it: Dr. Dawkins, hasn't this experiment already been tried repeatedly over the past century with expressly rational and atheistic social organizations in Eastern Europe, China, Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Latin America? Hasn't it resulted in an aggregate death toll that makes the Spanish Inquisition look like a walk in the park?

Or: What possible basis can you have for proclaiming that only people concerned with religion and the divine "cannot be persuaded by evidence to change their minds"? Isn't this true of all entrenched systems of thought, including your own discipline of science?

Of course, there is no evidence that could make Richard Dawkins change his mind about the ideas he is espousing. His blind spot is his own certainty that his personal model of the world is absolutely correct. All his arguments are immune from criticism only to the extent that he gets to define what constitutes "evidence." Thus, he would probably discount the horrifying murder rate of Marxism because its professed rationality doesn't measure up to his own standards of rationality. For the same reason, he cannot see that much of what is to him evidence of what is "better" or "worse" in the human condition is mere partisan political opinion, however derivatively related to the perfect rationality he (thinks he) sees in his Oxford laboratory.

Most of all he cannot see that his own perspective represents a greater ultimate danger than all the religions in human history put together, for the same reason that Communist governments around the world calmly and systematically annihiliated millions of their own citizens in the name of engineering a "better" human social contract. Why is that? Because they lacked the one consistent principle which unites and redeems all major religions -- the belief in a power beyond men to which all men are eventually accountable, no matter how august and mighty. This is the great restraining power inherent in religion that -- while admittedly tolerating much abuse and injustice -- can prevent or end the excesses of kings, emperors, priests, and other tyrants. For the self-anointed gods of atheistic rationalism there is no such thing as punishment and neither the fear nor the humility that can cause the most arrogant among us to question their own certainties.

If we allowed him to, Dawkins would no doubt be happy to impose his certainties on our societies, to remake our laws and child-rearing schemes in his own image. He admits of no supreme entity capable of refuting his logic. All he lacks is the power to set things right.

We've been down that road a time or two in the past hundred years. We don't need human gods; they inevitably fail. (What kind of "evidence" might this be?) His inability to see the danger his own arrogance represents is all the proof we need that his diagnoses of the human condition are wrong.

He needs to take a step back. Out of the arena of politics. Into the realm of philosophy, where he properly and safely belongs.




Thursday, December 21, 2006


Politact.

This is mild compared to what she shows.

YAWN.  We're used to it. Okay. I'm used to it. I spent the Seventies anxious to debate feminism with feminists. It never happened. They seemed to sense my extraoradinary eagerness to discuss their outlandish assertion of female intellectual equality. They didn't want to play.

Now we have female bloggers. I cited a site called Politits not long ago, written by a woman who calls herself D-Cup. She responded rather pleasantly and, to my first comment at her site, she replied:

Good morning, IP. I've just published your comment on my blog. Thanks for your compliments on how I approached this.

I'll post more sometime today, but for now I thank you for your link and want to let you know that we might agree more than we disagree on certain issues.

A political perspective adjustment would be quite a challenge, but I see no point in discouraging you. Incurious, I'm not.

I look forward to more conversation with you regarding the male/female and conservative/liberal points of view.

I thought this enouraging, so I updated my post with this: "The author of Politits has responded to this entry in a very ladylike way. I applaud the tone of her argument and though I disagree with her on multiple issues -- you can read my comment at her blog -- I withdraw much of my charge about dual identity. In truth, she's as frank as I could hope for. Now, if we can just adjust her political perspective..." I was hopeful about the possibility of discussion. My mistake. I should have known.

Because that's when everything went to hell. There was a brief (and highly enjoyable) revolt at this site, which provided a convenient excuse: D-Cup responded immediately, so incredibly relieved...

So Does This Mean I Win?
 
Here's what you say when you have nothing intelligent left to say. From instapunk.

[The InstaPunk post, quoted in full.]

Okay, to sum up. Kill anyone who doesn't agree with me. Preferably with a gun to the head.

All right. Most women don't really have a sense of humor, so how could Politits have known that InstaPunk was just enjoying an inside joke on itself by creating a confrontation between the Barbarian InstaPunk and the Ultra-Barbarian TruePunk? So I inserted a comment at Politits to alert her that I was still waiting for the promised discussion.

No answer.

After perusing her site for several days and discovering nothing new on it but another clicheed attack on Rumsfeld, I inserted a second comment:

From InstaPunk:

Interesting that you failed to post my comment on this, your presumptuous crowing of victory.

I gather you don't want debate. At least not with a conservative who knows how to fight back. (TruePunk is only a diversion, something like your bra. Go here(http://www.instapunk.com/archives/InstaPunkArchiveV2.php3?a=944) to see how much he has shifted the discussion at Instapunk.com.

Pfui. You still haven't responded to my rebuttal of your Pelosi pandering. BlueGal hasn't stepped up to the plate either. (I challenged her to respond to this post about abortion logic, "The Magic Doorway."  Silence. Feel free to respond in her place.

You've both got lots of attitude. But I don't see much substance. Believe me, I know there are female intellects, but proving it requires more than pissing on Rumsfeld. Nothing you've written about him convinces me that if you met him, his response to your assaults wouldn't either crush you or make you feel like a rude, ignorant wench. Which I begin to suspect you are.

Show me I'm wrong concluding you're a lightweight. If you ignore this second comment on the same post, I WILL be making fun of Politits...

Regards,
InstaPunk

You know: "Hey! Come out and fight! It'll be fun!" This was the response she finally posted:

IP: This is the first comment I received from you (since the initial one) and here it is. You are here with all your name-calling and threatening for the world to see. No, I'm not interested in debating you because you've shown yourself to be unable to have civilized conversation without decedending into schoolyard taunting and threats.

I'm also smart enought to know that with someone like you, it's an utter waste of time. You hold your views dearly and I respect that. What I don't respect is your approach.

And no, I'm not interested in responding for Blue Gal. She's perfectly capable of speaking for herself. If you're really anxious for a response from her, try again. Perhaps she didn't receive your comments either.

I'm guessing that the Blogger Beta switch may have caused your earlier commments (which you accuse me of not publishing) to disappear before they reached me for moderation, but I can assure you that the only comments that get deleted are spam.

As for my Pelosi pandering...sorry it bothers you. Traffic is traffic. You've driven quite a bit to my blog, thanks.

And if you feel better picking on me, have at it. Wouldn't be the first time, doubt it will be the last. And I'll be happy to have the traffic. Some come and go quickly. Some stay to read or whack. Some become repeat visitors.

And your fantasy of me and Don Rumsfeld having a tete a tete so that I can ask him why he f***ed [asterisks min; IP] up this war so badly? Interesting concept. Really. Glad you used it as another opportunity to call me a name.

Feel better?

Not really. It's a frustrating pattern. Both Politits and BlueGal responded affirmatively when asked if they'd like to seriously debate their leftist positions vis a vis InstaPunk's right-wing insanity. BlueGal is a Brandeis graduate, but when pressed she finally declared that InstaPunk's entries are too long and complicated to understand???!!! (I guess Samuel Johnson is no longer part of the Brandeis humanities curriculum, or anyone else who writes sentences longer than ten words and essays longer than ten paragraphs.) Politits has seized on an insult that's somewhat less inflammatory than what's acceptable in routine liberal discourse to declare herself above communicating with the likes of me, even though no asterisks have been needed in quoting my conversations with her.

I was in college when feminism first reared its ugly head. In all the time since, I have never had a meaningful discussion with a feminist about her views on sex and society. Usually, when they learned I really wanted to have that discussion with them, they mysteriously vanished into the ozone. Some 20 years later, my last attempt failed when my own sister averred that a woman could pitch like Sandy Koufax if she got the right training. I didn't ask her what regimen a girl would need to become Koufax or Muhammed Ali or Abraham Lincoln. Would it require never saying anything even moderately offensive to their fragile female egos? I'd have been fascinated by the response. But she'd already stalked out of the room in a huff by then. That was a big disappointment because she had a Ph.D. in the Natural Superiority of the Female Sex from no less an authority than Cornell University. Go figure.

And now Politits and BlueGal have left the room, too. My supposition? They're cowards. After all, to quote Politits, "Traffic is traffic." She doesn't have to like me to debate me. But like most liberals, and most feminists, her favorite sounding board is a well filled with the echo of her own voice.

Now. Have I called her a name? Geez, I hope not. I am earnestly soliciting her participation in an experiment to introduce the great liberal truth to my readers and to demonstrate that it is superior to the logic and rhetoric of InstaPunk. Is she willing to talk?

Or should I release TruePunk from his chains one more time and let him do his uncouth worst?

Oh. Excuse me. That will be perceived as a threat. I beg a thousand pardons. Far be it from me to engage in the implied sexual violence of, say, every lefty blogger in the whole f***ing blogosphere.




Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Unteroffizier Behar

I feel liberated. How about you?

I'M BACK. Once again, we see why I'm needed. [Go screw yourself, InstaPunk.] This Behar bitch isn't a loose cannon. She's a useful idiot, which the left has always utilized abundantly. Any political movement that builds its platfom on the assumption that it is intellectually superior to all its opponents operates according to the rules of high society. There's an in-crowd so lofty that all the hangers-on are willing to do anything to impress, always hoping for the glamorous invite. (One reason the Hollywood set fits in perfectly.) The hierarchy is so well established that the peons expect to be sacrificed from time to time and experience no resentment when they are.

So Joy Behar is a sacrifice. She's an absolute nothing in liberal society, a D-class celebrity with zero accomplishments in the world of intellect or politics. Just a loud-mouthed comedian on the lowest scale of humor -- a self-caricature whose punchlines all depend on the stereotypes of her sex, station, and ethnicity. A dead typical female stand-up, as predictable as she is hackneyed and obnoxious. An Italian version of her equally rude Irish counterpart, Kathy Griffin. Both of them share the neurotic self-awareness that despite their unending ambition to be admired, the sad truth is that deep down, no matter how much they set store by their own wit, they themselves are the butt of their own jokes, pitiful, ridiculous, and flatly unlikeable people whose need for attention trumps even their own human dignity. Untouchables. (Cue laughtrack.)


The View is a neat metaphor for the social caste system I'm describing. Barbara Walters owns the show. It doesn't matter how thoroughly she enters into the byplay with Joy and the trailer-dyke Rosie O'Donnell. She has the infinite freedom of the quality slumming with the help. With a nod or a curled lip, she can set her clowns loose to wreak havoc or incinerate them in their tracks. This past week, she gave an infinitesimal nod to Behar that granted permission to accuse Republicans of causing Senator Tim Johnson's stroke and then to compare Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to Hitler. Walters's motive? Very much like that of the Zulu chiefs who sent warriors up to the British lines to be shot down like dogs. By doing so, the Zulu lords learned the range of the British guns. Barbara is learning what libs can get away with in the new political season.

Apparently, the experiment was a marginal success in the eyes of the liberal nobility, despite some boos from the audience. No one produced a noose the way they would have if Elizabeth Hasselbeck had compared Cindy Sheehan to a fascisti collaborator. As a result,  Behar was not disciplined for accusing Republicans of Putin-like assault tactics. She wasn't compelled to apologize for being a grossly slanderous low-class shrew about Rumsfeld; she was allowed to offer a lame explanation that she was only making a joke, because isn't it really funny to compare a Republican retiring from 35 years of government service to the most frighteningly evil dictator in recorded human history? Of course it is. It's a hoot.

Me, I'm happy. I'm celebrating with the graphic above. InstaPunk took a lot of grief for posting a photo of that Nazi bastard Pat Buchanan in an S.S. uniform. I thought IP should have done it again, and again, just to drive home the point that Buchanan is a Jew-hating Nazi bastard. But I got overruled.

Now I've been vindicated by the most illustrious grande dame of political society. According to Barbara Walters, I have carte blanche to depict Joy Behar as a Nazi dominatrix, just because her politics are different from mine.  That is just so cool. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Baba Wawa. You're my idol, my ice queen, my punk babe of the week, and my future sex-slave. Consider yourself complimented.

Sieg heil, Behar bitch. How do you like it? Is it just another joke when you're the one wearing the swastika? Of course it is.

If I'd had more time, I'd have shopped Barbara Walters into a leather and latex nightmare too. But I'll leave that for another day. Maybe the next time Unteroffizier Behar follows orders without question.

P.S. And if there's anything you don't like about this post, stuff it. Remember, I'm the Time Person of the Year, every bit as great as you are. Don't you forget it.

One more thing. Mrs. Wuzzadem hit a grand slam this week. Read this all the way through.




Tuesday, December 19, 2006


The Gnostic Party

HOT! The new sex symbol of Christian atheism, Elaine Pagels. HOT!

ANOTHER SWARTHMORON EPISTLE. Such great news. The educationally elect have at last noticed Christianity, and they are doing their very best to launch a belated rescue of all the fools who have been taken in by it over the past 2,000 years. The new offensive is being led -- with extraordinary tact -- by the magnificent intellectuals of academia with an assist from the educational television channels and the alphabet news networks.

Some of you may have tuned in last night to CBS's 48 Hours program called The Mystery of Christmas. It's a beautiful example of the intelligentsia's effort to lead lunkheaded Christians away from error toward a more acceptable kind of religion. The upside is that we're still apparently permitted to retain a kind of Christianity, a soupy, squishy faith in the possible goodness and wisdom of Jesus Christ. The downside is that we really do have to accept that the gospels are nothing more than lying propaganda written for the purpose of scoring political points against Rome and covering up the scandalous illegitimacy of Christ's birth. I mean, forget the immaculate conception and all that nonsense. Even the theologians don't believe in it anymore.

You say that's not true? Well, if you're CBS -- or TLC or the History Channel or the Discovery Nework -- it most certainly is true. Because the one theological scholar you simply cannot escape on these outlets is Elaine Pagels, who is always identified simply as a Professor of Religion at Princeton University. You're also more than likely to be hearing from FatherProfessor John Crossan, who has written many learned books about the real meaning of the New Testament. We are just so damned lucky that both of them happened to be available to share the truth with hard-hitting CBS reporter Maureen Maher, whose bio indicates that she received her own education from Loyola University in Chicago, a fine Catholic school that no doubt imparted to her the impeccable taste represented by the immaculate white jacket she wore in the cathedral segment of the show. We don't know if it was Loyola or CBS News that conferred upon her the scrupulous fairness she exhibited in her treatment of the crazed religious fantasies that surround the "story" of Christ's birth,  But, here, let her tell you the gist in her own words, courtesy of CBS video services.

I just love that little patronzing sing-song at the beginning -- "the baby Jesus, the manger, no room at the inn..." -- don't you? And her smooth definition of "what faith should be" as a paraphrase of Rodney King. Cool. Still, perhaps we can be forgiven by the Great Squishy God of Secular Peace and Getting Along if we point out that the "leading New Testament scholars" Maureen spent most of her time talking to (as opposed to sneering at) are chiefly known not as Christian scholars but as Christian apostates.

John Crossan's Wikipedia entry notes the following:

John Dominic Crossan (born Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, 1934) is an Irish American biblical scholar known for co-founding the Jesus Seminar. As a major figure in the fields of Biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual criticism, he is a popular lecturer, but is dismissed by those critical of his historical methodology. He has appeared in many television documentaries about Jesus and the Bible...

After a year at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois, and a year at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Crossan chose to resign his priesthood. He cited as reasons both a desire for more academic freedom, and the freedom to be bound in matrimony. He married Margaret Dagenais, a professor at Loyola University (Chicago) in the summer of 1969, and joined the faculty of DePaul University that fall, where he remained until retiring from teaching in 1995. His first wife died of a heart attack in 1983. Crossan married Sarah Sexton, a social worker with two grown children, in 1986. Since his academic retirement, Crossan has lived in the Orlando, Florida area, remaining active in research, writing, and teaching seminars.

Regardless of his academic qualifications, a twice-married ex-priest should probably not be presented on network television as a mainstream Christian authority, particularly in the absence of any attempt to consult a theologian endorsed by the Roman Catholic faith. Yet none of the "many television documentaries about Jesus and the Bible" I've seen Crossan pontificating on has mentioned his controversial status.

All that we ever seem to hear from TV presenters about Elaine Pagels is that she's a Princeton professor. Most assuredly, we are not told about her provocative and activist role as a champion of heretical gnostic interpretations of Christian scripture and pseudo-scripture. Again, from Wikipedia:

Elaine Pagels (née Hiesey, born February 13, 1943), is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She was born in California, graduated from Stanford University (B.A. 1964, M.A. 1965) and, after briefly studying dance at Martha Graham's studio, began studying for her Ph.D. at Harvard University as a student of Helmut Koester. She married theoretical physicist Heinz Pagels in 1969.

At Harvard, she was part of a team studying the Nag Hammadi library manuscripts. Upon finishing her Ph.D. from Harvard in 1970, she joined the faculty at Barnard College, where she headed the department of religion from 1974. Her study of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts was the basis for The Gnostic Gospels (1979), a popular introduction to the Nag Hammadi library. The bestselling book won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award and was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best books of the twentieth century. However, the conservative Christian Intercollegiate Studies Institute listed it as one of the 50 Worst Books of the Twentieth Century.

In the book she argued that the Christian church was founded in a society espousing a number of contradictory viewpoints. Gnosticism as a movement was not very coherent and there were several areas of disagreement between different factions. Gnosticism attracted women in particular because of its egalitarian perspective which allowed their participation in sacred rites...

In 1987, Pagels' son Mark died after four years of illness, and the following year her husband Heinz Pagels died in a hiking accident. Partly due to these experiences, Pagels began working on the research leading to The Origin of Satan. This book purports to show the way that the figure Satan became a way for Christians to demonize their religious opponents, the Jews and the unorthodox Christians....

A smart, very well educated, and extremely interesting woman, but not one who should be introduced as a "leading New Testament scholar" without any further explanation. The tone of the CBS show and others like it in the world of educational TV is intended to make Christians believe that the real experts have abandoned traditional faith for a modern, politically correct, and far less religious view of Christianity as Old/New Age philosophy couched in feel-good platitudes about altruism, social equality, and world peace.

All that is fine and dandy as a cultural fad, but it's not Christianity, and the determination to substitute it in place of the religious faith that created the world we live in is sinister political hackery. Pagels is not the prophet of a religious renewal; she is merely another in a long line of secular opportunists who have sought to redefine Christianity in ways convenient to the political fashions of their time.

CBS's The Mystery of Christmas is not surprising in any way. In fact, it's so predictable that I could have written a lot of the pap Maureen Maher utters in passing myself. What I don't get is who it is exactly they're trying to convince. Do they think the Bible-thumping fundamentalists they scorn and fear so much will be changed by anything Pagels, Crossan, or Maher have to say? I doubt it. Do they seriously think that the better educated Christians aren't literate about the issues they claim to be "uncovering" like some crime mystery? Maybe. But to me, the whole enterprise smacks of self-indulgence, as if they don't have any clear objective at all, but only an inchoate desire to be seen considering religion, so that all the impotent unwashed can behold the half-smiles, tolerant condescension, and meticulous patience of the only surviving gods, the mighty idols of the mass media. In this context, the repeatedly expressed desire not to offend is a kind of threat: Can you imagine what damage we'd wreak if we covered this as ruthlessly as we cover those idiot Republicans? We're supposed to quiver in our boots or fall to our knees. Or both. Do so if you want.

The only thing the rest of us can take from it is a clue about what patrician liberals running for office mean when they claim to be Christians. Memorize the picture of Elaine Pagels above. She is their priest and the chair of the Gnostic Party, which believes in absolutely nothing but the divine right of Princeton and company to tell the ignorant masses how to behave and what to think. The word 'gnostic' means 'knowing' after all, and the thing the smart people know best is that knowing is much superior to believing.

Phooey.

Merry Christmas, everybody.




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