Archive for Jesus

The Dead Arisen: The Grateful Variety From 1977-10-29

Posted in Grateful Dead, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2010 by halmasonberg

Another amazing show to coincide with today’s celebration of the return of Jesus Christ (which is, of course, the sequel to “Jesus Christ”). What? An atheist Jew can’t celebrate, too? Hogwash! I spent the bulk of the day doing my taxes and listening to the Grateful Dead from Evans Field House at Northern Illinois University on October 29, 1977. That’s both patriotic and spiritual all at the same time!

And while my taxes certainly leave a lot to be desired (namely money) this particular Dead show doesn’t. As I’ve said many times before, when Jerry Garcia was on, the whole band was on! And this is one of those nights. Straight outta the gate, Garcia is on fire and the rest of the band are keeping time and slamming their instruments right there with him. It’s a powerful display of energy.

This soundboard is a beautiful sounding puppy with only a few intermittent audience splices to cover those pesky reel flips. And luckily the audience recording is solid and gives us a welcome flavor of the crowd’s don’t-stop-now enthusiasm.

There are few things on this earth I enjoy more than hearing Jerry rip it up and this journey made my 2010 Easter Sunday a memorable one. I hope you find the time to enjoy it as much as I did!

And for the love of Jesus, don’t forget to turn it up real loud! And then check out the informal backstage interview with Garcia from the Paramount Theatre in Portland, Oregon from October 2nd, 1977. Unusually personal and casual. Just some guys hangin’ and chattin’ (and snortin’). A rare treat!

Just click the links below…

Evans Field House, Northern Illinois University, October 29, 1977

Paramount Theater interview, October 2, 1977

Lively Doesn’t Want Gays Killed, Just Eliminated

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by halmasonberg

Scott Lively, the president of one of the most hateful organizations in America -Abiding Truth Ministries- has spoken out against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. A bill he, in essence, helped create.

“I suggested they liberalize the law, not to make it more [harsh]. What’s the gay agenda in Uganda? It’s the attempt to homosexualize the country like they did in so many other countries. … To change the moral foundation of the society, away from a marriage-based culture, to one of sexual anarchy.”

Well, it seems Mr. Lively’s outspoken opinion of homosexuals has rubbed off on Uganda’s lawmakers –who were already severely homophobic– to the point where they are proposing a bill that would, if passed, make Homosexuality punishable by a lengthy prison sentence or, in many cases, death.

So what was Lively doing in Uganda in the first place?

He was invited.

According to Lively himself:

“They were concerned about the attempts… by American and European gays, mostly men, who were coming into their country, messing with the young men in the country, and trying to influence their political and cultural policies.”

Lively visited Uganda to give a series of talks along with Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge, two American evangelical Christians who are well known for their teaching that homosexuality can be “cured.”

According to Stephen Langa, who organized the Ugandan event, the purpose of these talks was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda.”

I guess they succeeded. And many lives may be lost as a result. Certainly many lives will be destroyed. And many will be directly linked to Mr. Lively’s “teachings,” despite his insistence that he does “not believe in incarceration for homosexuality.” Unfortunately, Lively’s assessment of his talks in Uganda is that “Our campaign was like a nuclear bomb against the ‘gay’ agenda in Uganda.”

According to Wikipedia:

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

These talks are widely considered to have been instrumental in the development of the Uganda Anti-Homosexual Bill which would:

“broaden the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda, including introducing the death penalty for people who have previous convictions, who are HIV-positive, or who engage in sexual acts with those under 18,introducing extradition for those engaging in same-sex sexual relations outside Uganda, and penalising individuals, companies, media organizations, or NGOs who support LGBT rights.”

So let’s take a look at Mr. Lively’s credits to see who else he’s been influencing lo these many years. In addition to heading the Abiding Truth Ministries –which it should be stated is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center– Lively was also the co-author of a book titled THE PINK SWASTIKA which suggested direct links between homosexuals and the Nazi Party. He is also the former state director for California’s branch of the American Family Association, which is an organization that promotes so-called conservative Christian values. Those values basically boil down to being anti-pornography, anti-gay, pro-life, and in favor of “traditional” marriage only. They also support deregulation of the oil industry and oppose the Employee Free Choice Act which, if passed, would “amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.”

The American Family Association defines itself as “a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on TV and other media”

Lively also formed the anti-homosexual group Watchmen on the Walls based in Riga, Latvia, which supports conversion therapy and describes itself as “the international Christian movement that unites Christian leaders, Christian and social organizations and aims to protect Christian morals and values in society.”

Those Christian morals and values include anti-gay rallies wherein gays and lesbians are pelted with bags of excrement. A practice I’m sure Jesus would have approved of.

So why waste time writing about such lunatics as Lively and his associates? Because it’s people like Lively who help spread hatred, fear and gross misunderstanding. And in doing so, they have a direct negative impact on the lives of many human beings. This is the same reason I write about Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Glenn Beck, etc. Because, while they may only represent a fringe, folks should at least be aware of what is being said and how it is being heard.

And while I don’t know where Mr. Lively and friends claim to get their information about the “gay agenda” from, you can read about Mr. Lively’s agenda right here, in his own words and in crystal clear black and white.

From Lively’s DECIPHERING ‘GAY’ WORD-SPEAK AND LANGUAGE OF CONFUSION:

“If homosexuality is not innate, it must be acquired. And if it can be acquired, we dare not allow homosexuality to be legitimized to our children. If there remains any shadow of doubt as to the cause of homosexuality, we must err on the side of protecting our children. Indeed we must actively discourage them from viewing homosexuality as safe and normal, when in fact it is demonstrably neither safe nor normal. It bears noting here that normalcy is functioning according to nature or design. Normalcy is not based on popular opinion.

“…The truth about homosexuality is self-evident. Self-evident truths are not taught, they are revealed. Helping people overcome “gay” sophistry does not require teaching them new facts and figures or raising their level of intellectual sophistication. On the contrary, it requires a clearing away of the misinformation that obscures the simple reality of things.”

In God We Trust. Or Else. You Listening, Tiger?

Posted in Politics, Religion, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2010 by halmasonberg

Wasn’t it George Orwell who said, “As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents”?

While folks like Sarah Palin and the staff of Fox News spend much of their time screaming threats of Socialism at their more left-leaning fellow Americans, it seems the hardcore religious right are becoming a more visible entity in this country. I don’t remember there being TV news channels back in the day that were grossly committed to espousing and dignifying the misguided efforts and beliefs of this very odd faction of human beings.

As Obama and his supporters (and many of his critics) try and make changes to benefit the daily lives of Americans, offer them choices, enhance equality and freedom, we still hear the loud, frightened cries of those who have not even yet managed to bring themselves to embrace the notion of evolution. They’re still working on the universe was created in a week” plan. No wonder the Bush Administration and many of its political predecessors had so much trouble planning ahead and projecting into the future. Everything worth accomplishing should and could be done in a week! Mission accomplished anyone?

So while the shouts of “Socialism!” and “Totalitarianism!” persist, we move slowly away from an administration that restricted human freedoms by passing a law that would allow individuals to be placed under arrest with no charges officially filed or rights allowed. And those arrests and subsequent imprisonments were proclaimed “indefinite.” That same administration led us into a preemptive attack on another country for the first time in American history. But unlike Kubrick’s DR. STRANGELOVE, our leaders did so with full knowledge and intent, disregarding the recommendations of the United Nations, who, it turns out, were correct in their assessment of the situation in Iraq. And through all of this, the Bush Administration found every possible way to overturn any criticism that their particular brand of torture was inhuman. They insisted it was not only legal, but necessary. And when faced with legal implications, they actually tried to redefine torture itself so that they could legally continue in their God-mandated actions.

I wonder what Jesus would think about all of this?

It seems odd to me that so many of these Bush supporters and Palin supporters are actually running around in fear of totalitarianism, fascism and big government under the Obama Administration. Especially considering that the Bush Administration and many Republican administrations before (though Clinton can be lumped in here to an extent, as well) catered grotesquely to the massive corporations that have, in essence, become the government of the United States (and, perhaps, the rest of the world). The very fears these people are now espousing and their accompanying accusations were actually flourishing as a reality under their own God-approved world leaders.

There has been few things in my lifetime that seemed more moralistically damaged than the Bush Administration. They not only diminished our hundreds-year struggle to make and keep America “The Land Of The Free,” but they did it under the name of God and Christianity. There is nothing more offensive to my understanding of Jesus and God–any God–than the actions of the Bush Administration and the current portion of Americans still engaged in these beliefs.

Understand, this is not a Democrat versus Republican issue. Nor is it an anti-religion issue. This is an argument between a group of people who believe in true freedom and equality –regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation– and a group of people who believe in those things with a set of parenthesis attached. It seems that simply claiming to be a good Christian is enough to justify almost any act of brutality or injustice so long as you can connect it to your religious beliefs and convince yourself that you are on the side of “right.” That you are “chosen” or “saved.” What a terrifying notion. This faith-based bit of simple-mindedness has brought us such God-approved events as the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials. It seems that only in retrospect can the public at large recognize the atrocities committed in the name of the Lord.

But what is one to expect from a belief system that suggests believers will go to heaven, while the rest of humanity will spend an eternity in hell? Is this what the universe has been boiled down to in the glorious and creative minds of the human race?

A few weeks back, I wrote a short piece on Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration’s torture policies and I held them up against some of the insightful and thoughtful teachings of Gandhi. One very angry woman wrote to me proclaiming “You’re obviously NOT a Christian man!” I wondered what gave me away? My quoting Gandhi or my not endorsing torture?

Today, Fox News’ Brit Hume commented on golfer Tiger Woods’ one chance to save himself, not only from his current public scandal, but from the very fiery depths of hell itself:

“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

Tiger has spoken openly in the past about his religious beliefs:

“I practice meditation. That is something that I do, that my mum taught me over the years. We also have a thing we do every year, where we go to temple together. In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life. It is all about what you do and you get out of it what you put into it.”

Clearly the words of a blasphemer.

I wonder how many Americans are out there right now commenting not so much on Mr. Woods’ all-too human difficulties and challenges, but on the indisputable “fact” that he may well rot in hell. He doesn’t need a therapist. He needs to have faith. Not in himself, but in another. And if he does so, he can finally realize that he is not only above the law, but the rest of humanity.

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