Friday, January 22, 2010

Pat Robinson - Towing the Line

This is my response to a comment my friend made regarding Pat Robinson's most recent debacle regarding why he thought that Haiti was stricken by earthquakes.

Pat Robinson said:

"And you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, uh, you know Napoleon the 3rd and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the Devil.

"They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.'

"True story. And so the Devil said, 'Okay, it's a deal.’

"And, uh, they kicked the French out, you know, with Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by, by one thing after another, desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti on the other side is the Dominican Republican. Dominican Republic is, is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etcetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God and out of this tragedy I’m optimistic something good may come. But right now we’re helping the suffering people and the suffering is unimaginable."

Here is a link commentary about the broadcast in question. Here is a link to the video of his broadcast.

She said, "I do believe he (and those like him) are a plague on the Reputation of Christianity."

I responded with, "Reputation of Christianity? He's towing the line, and that's what is so sad. He is a plague on humanity PERIOD," and further went on to say the following:

A group of U.S. Christian missionaries went to Uganda saying they were experts on homosexuality and that homosexuals were trying to destroy the "normal" family, so they proposed laws that homosexuals should be executed. Article here.

In California, the biggest backers of Proposition 8 was a coalition of Mormon and Catholic churches. In fact, "The e-mails and other memos detail the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' involvement in Proposition 8 -- for instance, that there was at least one LDS volunteer working in every California ZIP code." This prompted an upsurge in anti-gay violence. An article regarding their involvement is here.

During the Bush administration, and because of the Republican party's view on family planning, funding for birth control was reduced not just in this country but for Africa. Here is an article about the cuts. And here is another article.

"Bush's mammoth global anti-AIDS initiative, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, poured billions of dollars into Africa but prohibited groups from spending any of it on family planning services or counseling programs, whose budgets flat-lined."

And most recently, there has been a backlash against a gun sight manufacturer who was putting Bible verses on their gun sights. They were under exclusive contract with the US military and used in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the militants in those countries have one more reason to say that the United States is trying to fight a holy war - Christianity vs. Islam.

Pat Robinson is just part of a huge group of people who make this country and the Christian faith look bad. I am agnostic, but I was once a devout Christian. A Sunday school teacher for many years. I would never want to go back.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BBC News - Google postpones China mobiles after censorship row

Read the article here: BBC News.

Google is quickly extending its purportedly beneficent tentacles into every facet of our lives - at least our electronic and telephonic lives. I personally use Google Docs, Chrome, Gmail, Calendar, Earth, Translate, and I would love their new Nexus phone. Despite my slight resentment on this daily encroachment by one company, I love their services so much, I shall continue to use them. There are many benefits to using their service. They are free and they do promote open development.

So when I heard that Google is standing up to China because of hacks to the accounts of reporters and human rights activists through their Gmail service, I couldn't help but feel relieved that they are taking such a tough stance. Their rejection of China's censorship is an affirmation of my loyalty.

Granted their altruism might be motivated by desire for a greater market share, but I would rather think it was not. I would rather think that they came to their senses and realized that what they were doing was wrong and they wanted to remediate the situation.

Many people scoff that they only have 30% of the browser market share in China, and thus their actions won't hurt China. Those people don't understand that for a foreign company to have 30% of the market share in China is actually a great feat. They have made inroads in a country where many outside business fail. It will hurt their bottom line to pull out of China -- another reason why I hope their current battle cry is for the people of China, and not to line their pockets.

My friend Michael of Sweden pointed out that:

"Google is definitely an interesting company with an almost unprecedented ingenuity and growth in modern computer software tech. Only Microsoft itself has taken such command of the markets.

As people pat the company's back for taking a stance against the dictatorship, they could use a reminder that Google had no problem with censoring and helping to block internet traffic, information and browser searches until its own product, Gmail, happened to become a target of espionage.

Those 30% of the browser market were only possible because Google gladly crawled for the despots and sold its software there - on Chinese censored terms. But I guess since all foreign companies in any industry have to do the same to gain any ground on that potentially massive market, that makes it alright.

I'm not boycotting Google (great products!), Yahoo or any number of companies for earning a buck while brown-nosing tyranny, but I won't applaud them for taking such minor action after years of condoning and appeasing censorship."

Michael brings up excellent points, but again, I hope Google's stand against China doesn't flag, but bears some fruit for human rights in China.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Muslim Female Dress in France

ASSOCIATED PRESS ARTICLE: France moves closer to banning full Muslim veil

The non-denominational christian church I was a member of as a child and young adult required women to wear veils when in temple, to wear no jewelry nor makeup (ever), to wear dresses and/or skirts that extended to the ankles, to not cut one's hair, and to be "modest." It is not common in the United States to see women like that. While I am no longer christian, nor do I feel I should follow those mores any longer, at the time, I felt it was my duty to my god and an expression of my faith to follow the dress prescribed to by my church.

While Islam does not require the niqabs nor burqas, and I personally feel that modesty is what one makes of it, if these women choose to follow a custom that they feel makes it easier for them to be faithful to their beliefs, then a government has no right to infringe on that choice. When I was of my faith, I would not wear pants, and my country would not make me do so. As long as the women and men follow the rules of France, they too should be allowed to dress as they please - especially as it is for a faith in their god and not because they are part of some nefarious gang or for a ridiculous fad.

More importantly, any woman, Muslim or otherwise, should not be denied citizenship because they have not assimilated to the "culture of France." France has a reputation for being a beacon of peace and freedom. To suddenly require that a segment of their population "assimilate" to look like every other French citizen goes against everything that the country stands for. France has a vivid tapestry of citizens, of every color, of every religion, and from most corners of the globe. What exactly are immigrants supposed to assimilate to?

I want to reiterate that I do not believe women should have to wear these types of coverings nor the type of clothing I wore when I was christian to prove that they are good women and faithful to their god. A woman can be immoral and immodest even if covered from head to toe. A woman can be unfaithful, even if wearing no makeup. A woman can be vulgar and think awful things, even if she never cuts her hair and wears skirts down to her ankles. Faithfulness to a deity is dependent on one's inner workings...not a facade shored by a type of clothing.

While taking religious studies, I took courses about Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. I wrote essays about the oppression of women through dress. I will be posting these essays soon, but no where in these essays do I take the position that these methods of dress should be abolished. My disagreement with oppressive dress -- from christian Mennonites and Catholic women religious (nuns) to the women of Islam -- does not mean I have the right to dictate their removal.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tutoring My Cousin

I didn't realize how much I had missed tutoring. Tutoring my cousin Geneva in geometry. She had a couple of light bulb moments. Such a rush.

Here is a link to the article I first wrote about tutoring my cousin: Helping + Knowledge = Satisfaction - Entry for November 06, 2007

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

As They Giggled, I observed

DECLARATION: It's hard to be Mom when they are sick, when they are angry, when they are finicky, when they are fighting, oh but the joy I feel to be Mom when they are sweet, clean from the shower, giggling on the bed, and telling me I'm the best Mom in the world. My heart is so full right now. It makes every sacrifice worth it. (yes, mushy, I know...but damn it's great)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Non-Human Persons Indeed

Scientists say dolphins should be treated as 'non-human persons'

Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as “non-human persons”.

There are so many things I want to say about this article that I will probably write another blog post or at least a longer one, but I mentally staggered under the realization that if scientists were to find a species similar to a dolphin on another planet, they would be attempting to communicate and would be wetting themselves with the discovery of such an intelligent animal. But on our planet, where we have MILLIONS of living things, each with complex social systems, unique biology and interactions, we think we are so great and so above all other living animals that we are JUST now realizing that intelligent animals deserve to be treated with respect. How about respecting ALL animals? How about discovering just how intelligent they are instead of coming from the prospective of trying to justify our treatment of them?

How about respecting humanity for that matter? How about accepting our racial heritage but acknowledging our intrinsic affinity for each other as humans? How about respecting sexual preferences?

We get excited that there might be bacteria living in the rings around Saturn, while we drive complex organisms like whales, bird species, tigers, elephants, and dozens more to extinction. It makes no sense.