Hip-Gnosis: August 2008: Archives

August 24, 2008

Democratic National Convention Attracts Fanatical Fringe Groups genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

There was little doubt that the 2008 Democratic National Convention would see its share of protests from extremists. However, I had little expectation I would see something as disgusting as the following flyer. While leaving the Media Welcoming Party, there were a number of protesters along the walk as I returned to my vehicle. Normally, I wouldn't take a flyer from someone on the street, but I wanted to see the propaganda being distributed during the convention.

Below, I've broken the six part flyer into three pieces...the front page (panel one), the fully opened center (panels two through four), and the remaining two portions of the back of the flyer (panels five and six). You can click on the images to enlarge them.

The apparent goal of the flyer is to compel the reader to oppose abortion. To make that point, they've chosen to use slavery as their moral comparison...a decision I can't help but feel seeks to play upon the fact that Senator Obama is black and favors a woman's right to choose. Frankly, the flyer is so offensive, I can't imagine it could have changed anyones mind last night.

What amazes me the most is the degree to which some groups focus upon one issue as their defining moral consideration...seemingly ignoring all others. The fact that they simultaneously ignore the needs of other living, breathing human beings makes me question their actual commitment to the betterment of society.

I've often wondered if defending a fetus that isn't viable is an easier proposition for those who often harbor hidden hatreds and animosities towards many of the other segments of society they encounter on a daily basis...like the neighbor family that can't afford to pay their mortgage or pay their bills...the families they so easily conclude must be lazy...or from Mexico and living here illegally...or just so happens to be gay.

Last time I checked, the notion of love thy neighbor was still an important religious edict. Unfortunately, many of these lunatics are only interested in loving their hypothetical neighbors...the ones they can be sure will never live next door.

Part One - Front Panel Of The Flyer

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Part Two - The Center Three Panels

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Part Three - The Back Two Panels

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Tagged as: 2008 Election, Abortion, Barack Obama, Christianists, Democratic National Convention, DNCC, Extremists, Racism, Religion

Daniel DiRito | August 24, 2008 | 10:45 AM | link | Comments (1)
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August 23, 2008

Pat Condell Pwns The Persistent Proselytizers genre: Hip-Gnosis

There's little I can add to this video...it's pretty self explanatory. Pat Condell is a comic as well as an avid atheist...and he's gained quite a following on YouTube. He's never been inclined to sugar coat his criticism of those individuals who blindly embrace the Bible and feel it's their duty to enable the conversion of each and every individual they encounter.

In the following video, in no uncertain terms, Condell tells these folks to buzz off. Unfortunately, that will likely motivate these folks to redouble their efforts to save his soul. Something tells me their odds of succeeding are slim to none.

Tagged as: Atheism, Evangelizing, Faith, God, Pat Condell, Religion

Daniel DiRito | August 23, 2008 | 3:10 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Focus On The Family's Stuart Shepard Is "Makin' Stuff Up" genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Video-Philes

Focus on the Family's Stuart Shepard, fresh off of his stint as the GOP's self-anointed rain dancer, has turned his attentions to another role...that of a shrill and sophomoric stooge.

In the following video, Shepard is promoting the meme that Barack Obama's favorite answer to criticism of his positions is to assert that the opposition is "Makin' stuff up". I find it rather ironic that a religious organization is comfortable putting a rhetoric rattling GOP sycophant on its website to mimic the manufactured mantra's of the Republican Party.

Perhaps deception is part and parcel of partisan politics...but I wouldn't expect it to be the modus operandi of a group that claims to be promoting Christian values. Apparently Focus on the Family believes that the means by which they support family values is exempt from moral considerations. In other words, It's apparently acceptable to say whatever you want (facts be damned) in order to defeat the candidate you oppose. I guess the road to religious purity is paved with misrepresentations?

I'm not sure whose calling the shots at FOF, but this new video looks to be even more childish that the "Pray for rain" video. In fact, I view this pitiful propaganda piece to be little more than an attempt at retribution by a man whose fragile ego must have been fractured when he had his hand slapped for reducing God's role to that of a petulant partisan. Maybe Stuart needs to change teams...I hear Lucifer is looking for a hypocritical and hateful holier-than-thou henchman.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Family Values, Focus On The Family, Religion, Stuart Shepard

Daniel DiRito | August 23, 2008 | 2:20 PM | link | Comments (1)
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August 21, 2008

Focus On The Family: Defeating Homosexuality With Homoeroticism genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

They say, "If it quacks it's a duck"...but I'm now convinced that if it quacks, it's an affiliate of Focus on the Family. In the following video, Kim Trobee cites the testimony of David Pickup to counter the fact that the American Psychological Association remains skeptical of those who promote therapy to reverse homosexuality. Trobee and her associate proceed to tell us that the APA's "embrace of the gay agenda" is under siege by learned experts and that gay activists have likely overplayed their hand.

I hate to burst Focus on the Family's Biblically based bubble, but if David Pickup is their idea of a reputable expert, they're in need of a serious reality check. Should there be any doubt, take a look at the following David Pickup video.

When I first saw the video, I wrote the following:

This is priceless. The following video is apparently a legitimate advertisement for men seeking to overcome their homosexuality. The fact that it is filled with homoeroticism only reinforces my belief that many of these men are tortured Christians with a limitless ability to disguise their sexual orientation by engaging in acts of denial that are intended to demonstrate their heterosexuality...as well as their devotion to the religious dogma they seem hopelessly driven to embrace.

Honestly, when I first saw the video clip, I thought the program had to be a joke. However, after tracking down the site where it is advertised, it appears to be a "legitimate" attempt to offer services intended to "repair" homosexuality. Of course I know nothing about the credentials of the gentleman offering the program. For all I know, he could simply be an opportunist attempting to play upon the insecurities of men who feel compelled to reject their homosexuality. Even if he is sincere in offering this program, it doesn't negate the absurdity in suggesting that homosexuality can be washed away.

In fact, I think the video is a comical adventure in homoeroticism (and I had a little fun with it in my prior posting). I suspect the use of this kind of exploitive imagery is an element in the APA's reluctance to endorse this supposed "treatment". The fact that the actual evidence also casts doubt on the therapeutic value of such programs only underscores the absurdity of the FOF assertions.

While men like Pickup would have us believe that they are providing a beneficial service, I'm of the opinion that they are simply capitalizing upon the fact that some homosexuals are unable to reconcile their orientation with the rigidity of their religious beliefs. Hence, these programs are merely the means to reinforce ideology and suppress actual one's sexual orientation.

In different circumstances, I suspect we would equate these programs with the kind of brainwashing we typically associate with cults. The fact that some participants report themselves as having altered their orientation is little more than the scripted assurances we witness from those who would have us believe that their membership in a cult is an act of willful self-awareness.

Frankly, the endless effort to establish the "militant homosexual agenda" meme as a matter of fact is sickening. The utter lack of legitimacy in this assertion is only exceeded by the total disregard for facts that is so often the trademark of those who wrap themselves in the pabulum of piety. This disconnect is disturbing...and it calls into question their claim to Christian values.

Tagged as: APA, David Pickup, Focus on the Family, Kim Trobee, LGBT, Psychology, Religion, Reparative Therapy, Sexual Orientation

Daniel DiRito | August 21, 2008 | 11:48 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Bill Maher Discusses Religion & Politics On Larry King Live genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

I realize that Bill Maher is first and foremost a comedian...but in my opinion, he's also one of the most intelligent and insightful people on the airwaves. I also realize that his blunt and outspoken style may offend some...but perhaps that's exactly what we need.

In truth, Maher, and those who embrace his views, face an obstacle that is most likely insurmountable. I say as much because it's my contention that religion's power comes from its ability to assuage the fear of mortality...even though that ability emanates from the inherent denial found in its followers.

What Maher brings to the table is a willingness to confront life as it exists; not as we endeavor to create it in our minds. Unfortunately, the number of people willing to join him in experiencing and embracing the existential angst he accepts is far too small...primarily because he resides in a place that is far too disquieting.

Frankly, the obstacles preventing the widespread adoption of Maher's perspective is the equivalent of the equation that underlies the expression, "Better the devil you know, than the devil you don't." It also brings to light the real possibility that human nature will forever wrap itself in the grandeur of godly gesticulations rather than accept the certainty of our inability to ascertain the meaning of our existence as well the unyielding uncertainty that surrounds our understanding of it's inevitable ending...death.

You see, in the end, our proclamations of a commitment to truth...in close association with our religious beliefs...is more a function of self-deceit than a demonstration of faith. Regardless, the contrived comfort this construct provides is a powerful force...one that isn't apt to be abandoned in favor of facts...especially since the facts, to the extent we know them, support a hypothesis most of us are unwilling to accept.

In the end, we're imprisoned by our own fears, and we make bargains with ourselves, and the higher beings we imagine, in order to survive the knowledge of our pending death. In this dissonance driven dichotomy, we also sacrifice the life that's available to us when we spend precious time negotiating away our self-determination in the hopes that doing so will convince our contrived gods to grant us eternal extensions.

Bill Maher On Larry King - Part One

Bill Maher On Larry King - Part Two

Bill Maher On Larry King - Part Three

Tagged as: Bill Maher, Death, Faith, Fear, God, Humor, Larry King, Mortality, Politics, Religion

Daniel DiRito | August 21, 2008 | 10:17 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Red State Update Meets Westboro Baptist Church genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Sometimes contrast creates nothing but conflict; other times it highlights the absurd positions some people hold. The following video is an example of the latter. This encounter, between the folks of Westboro Baptist Church and Red State Update's Jackie and Dunlap, is clearly intended to make us laugh. While it succeeds in doing just that, it also demonstrates the complex distinctions that defy our attempts to generalize and categorize each other.

Clearly, Jackie and Dunlap are caricatures created for comic value. Regardless, they represent one of the many mindsets we find in our American culture. One could say the same about the Westboro clan, although their actions aren't intended to make us laugh and they undoubtedly hold a uniquely controversial viewpoint. In watching this interaction, we realize the dangers that come with labeling.

Perhaps in seeing the exchange between these two groups, we are able to see the things that connect us with those we would otherwise reject. In fact, one could argue that the extremity of the Westboro Baptist ideology helps the rest of us find the common ground we share but so often fail to acknowledge. As we see in this video, Jackie and Dunlap may well have more in common with the gay couple they interview than with a group like Westboro...a group we would be more inclined to associate with the red neck personae they exhibit.

Sadly, the video also highlights the divisive nature of our political process. In the pursuit of power, all too often those who seek office choose to exaggerate our differences while downplaying our similarities. In this way, they simply raise the barriers that separate us from each other. The more this happens, the more antagonistic we become to each other...seemingly accepting the one-dimensional depictions we've become accustomed to as a result of the relentless rhetoric that rolls off the tactical tongues of our politicians.

In the end, we see that a seemingly light hearted video may have a greater capacity to foster understanding than those who spend their time behind their pulpits promoting propaganda or those who traverse the country telling us the intend to unite us; not divide us.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Humor, McCain, Obama, Red State, Religion, Saddleback, Westboro Baptist Church

Daniel DiRito | August 21, 2008 | 9:05 AM | link | Comments (0)
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August 18, 2008

Bill Donohue Speaks His Mind: "Silence Others" genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

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No doubt election years are trying times for many of us. It's easy to find oneself drawn into the dog fight...especially if one is passionate about any particular issue. Fortunately, we live in a country that allows us to speak our minds and cast our votes accordingly. Sadly, there are those who want the benefit of speaking their mind in order to silence others. Last time I checked, that's contrary to the American way.

However, it isn't contrary to the Catholic League's Bill Donohue. It seems that Donohue has taken offense to some of the bloggers who were selected to attend the Democratic National Convention...and he's calling upon the powers that be to "nix them ASAP".

From The Catholic League:

Over 120 blogs have been credentialed as members of the media for the Democratic National Convention; those who have received credentials are allowed to cover the Convention at the Pepsi Center. While most of them offer legitimate commentary, some do not.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue is protesting two of the blogs:

"The list of credentialed blogs include radical sites like The Daily Kos. Worse are blogs that feature anti-Catholic and obscene material. The two most offensive are Bitch Ph.D. and Towleroad.

"On the home page of Bitch Ph.D. there is a picture of two children: one of them is shown flashing his middle finger. Today's lead post, which was written August 17, is called 'Jesus Christ.' It begins with, 'I'm a really crappy Catholic who hasn't been to mass in ages because most parishes around here 'will' insist on being aggressively anti-abortion....' The writer then objects to some children's toys on the grounds that they are more offensive than desecrating the Eucharist. The toys are actually balloons that have been made to depict Jesus in various poses, including a crucified Christ; one of these images shows Jesus with a penis. Several who commented on this image made patently obscene comments.

"Towleroad describes itself as 'A Site with Homosexual Tendencies.' Accordingly, it shows men in jock straps and underwear. It also has a post on Pope Benedict XVI that takes him to task for wearing a cape with ermine. Some of those who commented on this described the pope in a vile and profane way.

"Both of these blogs should be cut immediately from the list of credentialed sites. Neither functions as a responsible media outlet and both offend Catholics, as well as others. To allow them access to the Democratic National Convention sends a message to Catholics they will not forget. We look for Leah Daughtry, CEO of the Convention, to nix them ASAP."

As I stated at the outset, Donohue is entitled to his opinion. Notwithstanding, he's not entitled to call on the Democratic National Convention to censor its list of bloggers. Yes, some of the bloggers chosen (this one included) have been critical of the Catholic Church...but we also represent important constituent groups in the Democratic Party. If Donohue wants lockstep homogeneity, there's another party that more likely to embrace his point of view.

Truth be told, Donohue isn't apt to vote for the Democratic nominee anyway...which likely means this grandstanding is simply a political stunt designed to outrage those Catholics he believes might be entertaining a vote for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Again, he has every right to be heard...but so do the bloggers he's singling out.

Donohue's actions are part and parcel of the objections many have to the Catholic Church. History tells us that the Church is predisposed to dictating to its followers...despite ample evidence of its many misjudgments as well as an abundance of inappropriate decisions and behaviors.

While the Church believes in the infallibility of its leader, history suggests otherwise. The fact that men like Donohue still adhere to this mind set simply highlights his and his church's irrational insistence upon blind faith. That can only work if one lives in a vacuum or has no interest in considering the facts.

In the end, Donohue's outburst is an attempt to bully those who fail to share his ideology. He's welcome to offer an opposing view...but he has no standing to demand that those with adversarial views be silenced. This is America...not the Vatican.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Atheism, Barack Obama, Bill Donohue, Catholic Church, Catholic League, LGBT, Pope, Vatican

Daniel DiRito | August 18, 2008 | 2:12 PM | link | Comments (2)
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BBC: The Lost Gospels genre: Hip-Gnosis

Biblical literalists rarely discuss the history behind its compilation. Instead, they remind the faithful of the provisions they find to be the most beneficial in maintaining their authority...and therefore the power it grants.

In truth, the Bible's compilation is a case study in the influences of culture, politics, sociology, psychology and any combination of the many other intrigues that can be associated with human nature.

In the following BBC documentary, Pete Owen Jones, an Anglican priest, provides an in-depth discussion of the many documents that were not included in the Bible...and the impact they may have had upon Christianity and the beliefs Christians hold.

What this documentary proves is that the history of man has always been a relatively subjective endeavor. In that reality, we are often left with uncertainties as to what is, in fact, reality. To presume that the Bible was constructed absent any such bias is to ignore the instruction of history...as well as the human nature of those who record it.

Yes, our need for an explanation of the meaning of our existence and an understanding of our inevitable mortality is a compelling motivation to believe in something with certainty. Notwithstanding, such need does not create fact out of fiction...no matter how desperate we may be for it to exist. Such is the existential conundrum we face.

The Lost Gospels - Part One

The Lost Gospels - Part Two

The Lost Gospels - Part Three

The Lost Gospels - Part Four

The Lost Gospels - Part Five

The Lost Gospels - Part Six

The Lost Gospels - Part Seven

The Lost Gospels - Part Eight

The Lost Gospels - Part Nine

Tagged as: Bible, Christianity, Death, Faith, Gospels, Jesus, Mortality, Religion

Daniel DiRito | August 18, 2008 | 9:54 AM | link | Comments (0)
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August 15, 2008

Compare & Contrast: Family Values & The 2008 Election genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

The GOP has, for years, claimed to be the party of family values. Unfortunately, that title is more like a badge worn on one's lapel than an innate commitment to morality. Even worse, this carefully chosen description is primarily tailored to encompass those issues the GOP feels will garner votes. This seeming manipulation is no accident. In fact, I think it's safe to say that the GOP practices selective morality...the kind that makes a revelation of hypocrisy all the more significant.

Consider the facts. John McCain wants us to believe he shares the values of the evangelical voters he seeks to court. Unfortunately, his own history suggests something else...yet that hasn't stopped McCain from moving to claim he's always been aligned with Christian values. Well, if one believes that Ralph Reed represents family values, perhaps John McCain is entitled to wear his new badge.

In the first of the two following videos, Dems Rapid Response sheds some much needed light on the kind of values the GOP has actually come to represent under the leadership of men like George Bush. Yes, they consistently rail against abortion and same-sex marriage...while condoning deceit, deception, and dishonesty...the kind that robs hard-working Americans of opportunities and insures that the political elite will maintain their hold upon wealth and power.

The truth of the matter is that Ralph Reed, once a burgeoning star in the GOP (who diligently mouthed the party's moral mumbo jumbo), was exposed as the corrupt cash chasing charlatan he's always been. In fact, his rapid ascendency was formulaic...and his speedy demise deservedly mimicked that of many of his crooked Christian cohorts.

The fact that John McCain is happy to attach his fundraising efforts to Reed is a testament to the priorities he and his party share. The hypocrisy is revealed in their simultaneous attempts to connect Barack Obama's secular sensibilities with all things un-American...and therefore paint them as lacking moral justification.

In the second video, Matthew 25, a Christian political action committee, offers some much needed contrast...and begins the difficult work of dislodging the faithful from many of the fraudulent fabrications about Barack Obama that are being fostered by legions of GOP loyalists.

Sadly, we've become a nation that finds much of its worth in the denigration of others...and the blinding bravado of dogmatic intransigence. If it isn't the gays or those who favor a woman's right to choose or the hotel chain that offers adult movies to patrons or the network that allows Janet Jackson to expose her breast, it's the French and those other nations that have chosen secularism and the full separation of church and state.

In our haste to equate morality with the institutionalization of theology, we've often impinged upon the promise of equality and forsaken the foundational fundamentals of our freedom...and the opportunities it should foster. In fact, many of us have succumbed to the notion that simply being American is akin to being moral...and we've increasingly acted without introspection...assuming we can do no wrong.

Truth be told, values aren't limited to those issues that can be easily sexualized or sensationalized. The family that suffers in silence under the burden of a usurious mortgage or as a result of a failed economy or due to unexpected medical expenses they can't afford warrants consideration. Unfortunately, we're talking about the kind of morality that calls us to act; not simply to feign outrage.

It's easy to vilify the unknown gay man who wants to marry his partner or the stereotyped women who may have chosen to have an abortion. They are nameless, faceless individuals we can categorize while never having to recognize their humanity. The neighbor family struggling to pay its bills and feed its family is too close...too real...too apt to require our morality to be more than lip service.

Instead, we prefer the safety of pious platitudes. We want our elections be about salacious snippets and snarky sound bites...as it keeps us from having to look at our candidates, our country, ourselves, and our collective actions beyond the cardboard caricatures we construct.

America is at a crossroads...whether we choose to admit it or not. We run the risk of becoming irrelevant under the weight of our own rationalizations. Morality cannot be a slogan or a slur. It can't be predicated upon a golden rule that grants gold a godly status. Our ability to buy and sell the world...while staking a claim to all things Christian...is a contradiction that cannot be sustained. Family values cannot exclude those families we choose to ignore.

Morality cannot be measured without a commitment to compare and contrast. The following videos can be an important first step in that direction.

DemRapidResponse - Tainted

Matthew 25 - Families

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Abortion, Barack Obama, Democrats, Evangelicals, Family Values, GOP, John McCain, LGBT, Morality, Patriotism, Ralph Reed, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Values

Daniel DiRito | August 15, 2008 | 2:17 PM | link | Comments (3)
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August 13, 2008

Todd Bentley: His Ministry Raises The Dead? genre: Hip-Gnosis

Thought Theater previously posted an ABC News expose on televangelist Todd Bentley and his Lakeland, Florida ministry. That posting can be found here. Bentley claims to have healing powers and he's parlayed this assertion into a large following...which has translated into even larger cash donations.

As the ABC piece notes, there isn't any actual evidence supporting any of Bentley's proclamations...yet there is little reason to believe Bentley will cease and desist. Unfortunately, so long as people voluntarily flock to see and support him, his increasingly grandiose pronouncements will persist.

The line between a sincere demonstration of faith and an outright disconnection from reality is on full display in the following video. In the video, Bentley reads a letter to his flock in which it is suggested that his ministry has played an integral role in raising a man from the dead. As if a third party account weren't sufficient evidence of Bentley's deception, he proceeds to unequivocally state, "the dead are being raised".

I've long realized the power that lies beneath our fear of death, but this video takes it to another level...one that ought to be sufficient to question the sanity of the participants. The fact that this can happen in this day and age should lead us to explore the societal factors that enable this type of delusional thought.

I find it ironic that many of the religious leaders who suggest faith is the salve to heal society are actually the ones who are providing the virtual narcotic which is facilitating our neurosis. In this circle of self-sustaining symbiosis, faith becomes the means to deny death (the drug) and the giving of cash to those who produce it (the dealers) is the means by which the recipients (the addicts) insure that it will continue to be available.

I've long been opposed to the war on drugs...but if it could be redirected towards extinguishing this carefully crafted canard, I'd happily enlist. In the end, morality must have self-awareness as its core. Todd Bentley and his ilk are selling anything but.

Tagged as: Addiction, Death, Drugs, Evangelist, Faith, Religion, Todd Bentley

Daniel DiRito | August 13, 2008 | 1:18 PM | link | Comments (1)
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August 12, 2008

Focus On The Family Pulls Pray For Rain (On Obama) Video genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

When I first saw the following video by Focus on the Family's Stuart Shepard...a video in which he suggests people of faith should pray for it to rain (in Biblical proportions) at the moment Barack Obama is scheduled to accept his party's nomination...it struck me as a example of the sheltered and sophomoric mind set that so often emanates from the religious right. Ever emboldened by their beliefs and an unexplored ration of righteous indignation, they frequently invoke God to administer punishment upon those they judge.

Were life only as simple as Shepard wants the faithful to believe it is. Apparently the powers that be at Focus on the Family think its more important to pray for political high jinks than to focus on those who are being challenged by a weak economy, a lack of healthcare, and persistent poverty...to name a few.

The fact that Shepard has time to play such games with his camera suggests that the employees of FOF live in an idyllic world built upon the backs of the hard working families who shell out huge sums of money to fund the organization. I guess if I were Shepard, and God had already answered my prayers for unearned enrichment, I might think the good lord is apt to grant any wish that happens to strike my fancy.

I doubt Shepard expected his little video to garner him Keith Olbermann's designation as worst person in the world. Maybe Stuart can ask the faithful to pray for Keith to be stricken mute. Then again, maybe Shepard wants to be known as FOF's evangelical version of Mad TV's petulant and persnickety school boy...Stuart. Perhaps he should ask James Dobson for some pointers on perfecting that persona?

Stuart Shepard Prays For A Deluge

Keith Olbermann: Worst Person In The World - Stuart Shepard

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention, Focus on the Family, James Dobson, Keith Olbermann, Mad TV, Stuart Shepard

Daniel DiRito | August 12, 2008 | 7:46 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Physicist Leonard Susskind Refutes Intelligent Design genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

It's always refreshing to hear an informed member of the scientific community offer their views on the likelihood of an intelligent designer. In the following clip, Leonard Susskind gives a brief commentary on the subject.

Most notable in Susskind's observations is his willingness to step beyond our earth-centric perceptions of the universe and see the predominance of unintelligence that exists. While many religious apologists point to our planet and its inhabitants as evidence of a creator, Susskind suggests that the random nature of the universe is a far more plausible explanation for our existence.

In other words, why would a divine being create an immense universe with so few parts serving any function in sustaining or propagating those living beings that are presumably his pièce de rèsistance. Rather than view humanity as the work of a designer, unique instances or events can just as easily be explained in terms of mathematical probability.

When someone wins the lottery, we realize that it is a matter of astronomical odds...yet it happens in accordance within predictable mathematical parameters...not as a matter of divine intervention. Consider the sound evidence for the theory of evolution and our ever expanding ability to scientifically explain what we see and experience and the rationale for a creator is increasingly a matter of wishful speculation.

Tagged as: Creationism, Darwin, Evolution, Fora.TV, Intelligent Design, Leonard Susskind, Universe

Daniel DiRito | August 12, 2008 | 6:45 PM | link | Comments (2)
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August 10, 2008

Stephen Lynch: My Name Is Satan...Call Me Beelz genre: Hip-Gnosis & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

I recently posted a video depicting the geographic advances and declines of the various religions of the world. The video was part of a piece in which Dan Dennett discussed memes and the ability of societies to adopt and perpetuate them for generations.

Well, the following video uses the same video...but in this version, we hear comedian Stephen Lynch singing "Beelz", a song he wrote about Satan. I thought it was pretty funny to listen to Lynch sing about the dastardly deeds of the devil while watching the spread of religion.

You can draw your own comparisons and conclusions.

Stephen Lynch - Beelz

Daniel DiRito | August 10, 2008 | 3:33 PM | link | Comments (2)
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August 7, 2008

One Wingnut's Pedophile Is Another's Science Guru? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

When Peter Tatchell served as the Grand Marshall of the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade, the Family Research Council jumped at the opportunity to discredit him and point to his selection as evidence that the LGBT community embraces pedophilia.

When Tatchell, in a recent article at Spiked, suggested that an individual's homosexuality is far more complex than basic genetics, the folks at Focus on the Family referenced him as a seeming expert on the origins of homosexuality...and further evidence that gays have attempted to use genetics to excuse their inappropriate behavior.

I'm not sure how one begins to square the dissonance. First, a look at the FRC's take on Tatchell.

From FRC:

It seems that the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade has a long history of problems associated with pedophilia, including hiring a number of registered sex offenders. However this year they truly crossed the lines to practically endorsing pedophilia by naming pedophilia activist Peter Tatchell as the International Grand Marshal. The fact that such a person even exists, let alone to be endorsed by an organization that also receives taxpayer funded services, is incomprehensible.

Mr. Tatchell's website (which I won't link to but which can be found easy enough) includes topic titles such as:

"Lowering the unrealistic age of consent will help teenagers: The criminalisation of teen sex inhibits advice and protection,"

"SEX RIGHTS FOR THE UNDER-16s, Young people under 16 have sexual rights too,"

"I'M 14, I'M GAY & I WANT A BOYFRIEND, Fourteen year old LEE tells about first sex, boyfriends, coming out, paedophilia, and why an age of consent of 16 won't help under-age gays like him."

"CONSENT AT 16: PROTECTION OR PERSECUTION, Young people under 16 have a right to make their own sexual choices without being victimised by the law."

How this man is not immediately arrested instead of being honored at a parade is beyond me.

Now take a look at the latest Focus on the Family video touting Tatchell's remarks as a refutation of the "gay gene" hypothesis.

So the bottom line is the FRC thinks Tatchell is a garden variety pedophile who should be incarcerated while FOF holds him up as an informed expert. The fact that neither FRC or FOF have truly researched or read the works of Tatchell is simply a testament to both groups propensity for knee-jerk reactions to anything related to homosexuality. Truth be told, Tatchell isn't a pedophile nor did his article reduce homosexuality to a thumbs up or thumbs down genetic equation.

Take a look at the following excerpts from the Spiked article.

From Spiked:

I don't disagree that genes (and hormonal exposure in the womb) influence sexual orientation. The scientific evidence for these biological influences is presented in the book Born Gay (2005), written by Glenn Wilson of the Institute of Psychiatry in London and Qazi Rahman, a lecturer in psychobiology at the University of East London.

But contrary to what the authors seem to suggest, an influence is not the same as a cause. Genes and hormones may predispose a person to one sexuality rather than another. But that's all. Predisposition and determination are two different things.

The relative influence of biological versus social factors with regard to sexual orientation is still uncertain. What is, however, certain is that if gayness was primarily explainable in genetic terms we would expect it to appear in the same proportions, and in similar forms, in all cultures and all epochs. As the anthropologists Clellan Ford and Frank Beach demonstrated in Patterns Of Sexual Behaviour (1965), far from being cross-culturally uniform and stable, both the incidence and expressions of same-sex desire vary vastly between different societies.

The homophobes are thus, paradoxically, closer to the truth than many gay activists. Removing the social opprobrium and penalties from queer relationships, and celebrating gay love and lust, would allow more people to come to terms with presently inhibited homoerotic desires. In this sense, it is perfectly feasible to 'promote' lesbian and gay sexuality and 'make' someone queer. Individuals who have a homosexual component in their character, but are inhibited by repression or guilt, definitely can be encouraged to acknowledge their same-sex attraction and act upon it.

Were future generations to grow up in a gay-positive, homo-friendly culture, it's likely that many more people would have same-sex relationships, if not for all of their lives at least for significant periods. With this boom in queer sex, the social basis of homophobia would be radically undermined.

In this state of greater sexual freedom, where homosexuality becomes commonplace and ceases to be disparaged or victimised, gayness would no longer have to be defended and affirmed. Gay identity (and its straight counterpart) would thus, at last, become redundant. Hurrah!

Reducing Tatchell's thoughts to the pabulum contained on the FRC site or in the FOF video is laughable. The one-dimensional characterizations of Tatchell's intentions and his conclusions is at best a matter of selective reading and suspended reasoning. Then again, this should come as no surprise since these groups have done the same with the Bible for years. Such is the art of unsubstantiated certainty and a disregard for rational thought and the scientific method.

When science supports evolution, they race to condemn it by citing the Bible and pointing to each and every gap in the fossil record. When an erudite gay man cites the admitted uncertainty of science, they tout some of his words as inviolable evidence that homosexuality is nothing more than a self-serving choice. If one can engage in this level of triangulation, one might as well assert that a circle has four corners.

I think it's safe to conclude that this level of disjointed dogma makes it virtually impossible to conduct an intelligent dialogue with many of these intransigent ideologues. Watching the folks at FRC and FOF using the views of the same person...in one instance as a valid expert and in another as a virtual monster...to make seeming judgments about the nature of all homosexuals...gives credence to the theory that ignorance is bliss. Frankly, who am I to disagree? In fact, I'll be the first to admit that these folks must be blissfully ignorant.

Tagged as: Bigotry, Evangelical, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, FOF, FRC, Gay, LGBT, Peter Tatchell, Religion, San Diego Pride, Spiked

Daniel DiRito | August 7, 2008 | 6:11 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Pat Condell On The Tyranny Of Scriptures genre: Hip-Gnosis

Ouch! In the following video, Pat Condell, a stand-up comic and frequent critic of religion, is acutely acerbic in his criticism of scripture and those who choose to blindly embrace it. Condell has never been one to mince words...and he certainly does nothing to change that perception in this diatribe.

Condell has a unique ability to cut to the chase and connect the dots. While many may take issue with his delivery, there is no doubt that he is an important voice for those who seek to end the strangle hold religious ideology has on a number of societies.

Underlying Condell's critique of religion is a concern for those who are oppressed by it and are unable to voice their opposition to the tyranny they endure. I find his candor a breath of fresh air in a world that is often afraid to challenge convention. For every person he offends, I suspect there are two others who are empowered. I think that's a good thing.

Tagged as: Atheism, Bible, Comedy, God, Pat Condell, Religion, Scripture

Daniel DiRito | August 7, 2008 | 2:14 PM | link | Comments (0)
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August 7, 2008

Who Is The God That Stands Between The Theist & The Atheist? genre: Hip-Gnosis

I'm of the opinion that morality isn't the domain of any particular segment of society...whether that be religiously inclined groups or those who don't believe in God. Generally speaking, I suspect morality is an individual construct...albeit influenced by many factors...

Tagged as: Atheism, Bible, Culture, Darwinism, Death, Evolution, Faith, God, Morality, Religion, Theism, Values

Daniel DiRito | August 7, 2008 | 9:22 AM | link | Comments (0)
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August 5, 2008

Kissing Up To James Dobson Requires A Lot Of Lip Service genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

Nothing makes Focus on the Family's James Dobson happier than having his ego stroked...and Mark Joseph does just that in an open letter opinion piece on Fox News. The only thing missing in Joseph's "adore-itorial" is a picture of Dobson's...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Cindy McCain, Evangelicals, Focus on the Family, John McCain, Mark Joseph, Michelle Obama, Religion

Daniel DiRito | August 5, 2008 | 12:33 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Naturally Selected: A Ditty On The Divide Between Darwin & Jesus genre: Hip-Gnosis & Tongue-In-Cheek & Tuned Out

This video is hysterical. Between the voice of Jesus being a girl, the implied gay relationship between Darwin and Jesus, the moments of petulance, and the oh so funny screeching episode, I couldn't stop laughing....

Tagged as: Charles Darwin, Comedy, Creationism, Evolution, Humor, Jesus, Natural Selection, Satire

Daniel DiRito | August 5, 2008 | 12:05 PM | link | Comments (0)
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August 4, 2008

Does God Hate Westboro Baptist Church? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, renowned for the vitriol its members spew on a regular basis...at just about anybody and everybody...was the victim of a suspicious fire early this past Saturday morning. In the following video, Phelps accuses fags...

Tagged as: Bigotry, Fred Phelps, Hate, LGBT, Shirley Phelps Roper, Topeka, Westboro Baptist Church

Daniel DiRito | August 4, 2008 | 8:29 PM | link | Comments (2)
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August 3, 2008

More On The Historical Inaccuracy Of The Bible genre: Hip-Gnosis

I find it fascinating how little most people actually know about the Bible and its historical validity. The adherence to the Bible as fact is even more astounding in the seeming absence of evidence to support such beliefs. As...

Tagged as: Bible, Christ, Death, Faith, God, History, Jesus, Literalism, Religion, Resurrection

Daniel DiRito | August 3, 2008 | 3:43 PM | link | Comments (4)
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CDC Report - U.S. HIV Infections 40% Higher Than Estimates genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

A new report suggests that the number of annual HIV infections in the U.S. has been drastically underestimated...or underreported. While this is a significant revelation, I'm of the opinion that the back story may be far more telling. Let's...

Tagged as: AIDS, CDC, Elizabeth Dole, FRC, George W. Bush, HIV, Jesse Helms, LGBT, PEPFAR, Religion, Religious Right, Same-Sex Marriage, United Nations, World Health Organization

Daniel DiRito | August 3, 2008 | 9:12 AM | link | Comments (0)
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