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This and that

Just some random things from the mailbag, with plenty on Pastor Ted…

* In the latest Time magazine, David Kuo, the former staffer in the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and author of Tempting Faith had some interesting observations about the perversion of the evangelical movement by folks like James Dobson in light of the Pastor Ted debacle — it’s less about God, and all about politics.

“Jim Dobson’s response was particularly telling,” Kuo says of leading evangelical James Dobson. “He basically blamed the controversy on gays and Democrats. When evangelical leaders can’t see beyond Tuesday on any question, what on earth is happening?”

…”The evangelical obsession with homosexuality makes this especially ironic. For many evangelical leaders, anything related to homosexuality is this special, dark sin. But that’s not what the Bible says,” says Kuo. “Really it’s a sin like gossiping to your neighbor. Jesus doesn’t even mention it at all.”

* In the same vein, check out the Salon piece, The GOP’s dwindling anti-gay parade. Marilyn Musgrave comes off like the sorry, hateful hag that she is, but the article focuses on the over-the-top homobigotry by candidates, and the fact that it is turning off voters. Some of the GOP’s stars that hitched onto the homo-obsessions as a career path are floundering.

The reason for this turnabout may signal a transformation of the national debate over homosexual relationships, which have been a defining issue in recent election cycles. Across the country, candidates who have built their careers fighting homosexual rights now find themselves on the losing side of the polls. In Pennsylvania, Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, who once compared gay sex to “man-on-dog” relations, appears sure to lose his campaign for reelection. In Ohio, the polls are equally grim for Ken Blackwell, a Republican candidate for governor, who once said gay marriage “defies barnyard logic.” In Minnesota, Republican state Sen. Michele Bachmann, who called gay matrimony a “ticking time bomb” because “little children would be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal,” is fighting a tight battle for an open Republican seat.

* Take a musical journey through the six f*cking disastrous years of the Bush Administration, a montage set to George Michael’s “Freedom.” It will fire you up. Hat tip to Michael Stickings of The Reaction.


* Check out Blender Nancy Goldstein’s ace series of articles (called Mind Games) for Raw Story on how the Department of Defense has royally screwed the men and women who serve this country. The latest is Big Money: The Compensation Angle, on how veterans’ pre- and post-war health conditions are not being documented by the Department of Defense (DOD), despite Congress passing legislation requiring this in 1997. When they come back, what they are guaranteed is difficulty receiving benefits.

But one thing is for sure: A solider who at the time of his demobilization has no documentation of his condition on the post-deployment health assessment form (the 2796) that he may or may not have filled out is going to have a hell of a time later when he tries to get free treatment from the VA or collect compensation for a service-connected disability.

Previous pieces in the series: Part I – The Things They Carry, Part II – To Hell and Back: Spinning the Downward Spiral, and Part III – Full Metal Lockout: The Myth of Accessible Health Care)

* The Harper’s article Soldiers of Christ – Inside America’s most powerful megachurch with Pastor Ted Haggard” came up again in an email from Paul, who strung a few excerpts together for your amusement:

Your preacher might be a light-in-the-loafers meth snorting tweaker if:

“He doesn’t strut… he gushes .”

“(H)e believes he foresaw Internet prayer networks before the Internet existed.” (Come one now, everyone knows that was Al Gore)

he can transform a church where “The pulpit was three five-gallon buckets stacked one atop the other, and the pews were lawn chairs” into the spectacular described here: “Two fog machines on each side of the stage filled the sanctuary with white clouds. Pod-shaped projectors cast a light show across the ceiling, giant spinning white snowflakes and cartwheeling yellow flowers and a shimmering blue water-effect. Across the stage teens began leaping straight up, a dance that swept across the arena: kids hopped, old men hopped, middle-aged women hopped. Spinners wheeled out from the ranks and danced like dervishes around the stage. The light pods dilated and blasted the sanctuary with red. Worship Pastor Ross roared: “Let the King of Glory enter in!” Ushers rushed through the crowds throwing out rainbow glow strings… the music and video quickened as the camera rose to meet the new sanctuary. Images spliced and jumped over one another: thousands of New Lifers holding candles, and dozens skydiving, and Pastor Ted, Bible in hand, blond head thrust forward above the Good Book, smiling, finger-shaking, singing, more smiling. (His nose is snubby and his brow overhung, lending him an impishness crucial to the smile’s success; without that edge he would look not happy but stoned.)

he suffers from paranoia…”He was always on the lookout for spies.” and “evil forces that dominated Colorado Springs—and every other metropolitan area in the country—”Control.” Sometimes, he says, Control would call him late on Saturday night, threatening to kill him. “Any more impertinence out of you, Ted Haggard,” he claims Control once told him, “and there will be unrelenting pandemonium in this city.”

He staked out gay bars, inviting men to come to his church…”

he installs in his church “a massive bronze of a glowering angel, its muscular wings in full flex,” and “another bronze warrior angel, a scowling, bearded type with massive biceps and, again, a sword. The angel’s pedestal stands at the center of a great, eight-pointed compass laid out in muted red, white, and blue-black stone. Each point directs the eye to a contemporary painting, most depicting gorgeous, muscular men—one is a blacksmith, another is bound, fetish-style, in chains—in various states of undress.” and “a print of The Vessel , a tall, vertical panel of two nude, ample-breasted, white female angels team-pouring an urn of honey onto the shaved head of a naked, olive-skinned man below. The honey drips down over his slab-like pecs and his six-pack abs into the eponymous vessel, which he holds in front of his crotch.”

* Wes passed on a link to another Haggard YouTube video, this time from an interview with evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. While as you might imagine, the irony meter breaks when you watch Pastor Ted leading his flock into religious ecstasy. I saw a lot of twinks jumping up and down in that crowd. Maybe these were some of the pastor’s “outreach” successes.

Dawkins: “My biggest concern is that evangelicals like Haggard are foisting evident falsehoods on their flock. The evangelicals are denying scientific evidence just to support Bronze Age myths.” Ouch.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding