This Is How It Starts – The Trump Campaign

 Crack Pots, Election, Featured, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on This Is How It Starts – The Trump Campaign
Mar 012016
This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series 2016 Elections

donald-trump-july-10-2015I’ve written pretty extensively about Cruz’s beliefs and his campaign. He remains my biggest fear as President because of his deep-seated religious beliefs, but Trump is already making the U.S. a terrible place. His campaign has given permission to the racists and xenophobes in this country to take off the masks of civility, and revel in their hate. And so far, candidate Trump has done nothing to dissuade them.

This is how it starts, we know how it ends. History has taught us, but as too often the case, we have decided to forego the lessons of history. Oh yes, a bare few Republican party leaders are timidly calling Trump out, but Rubio and Cruz are aiding and abetting by trying to out Trump Trump. Continue reading »

Spotlight – A Movie Review

 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on Spotlight – A Movie Review
Dec 102015

Spotlight Movie PosterStarring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James and Stanley Tucci, SPOTLIGHT tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. Directed by Academy Award-nominee Tom McCarthy, SPOTLIGHT is a tense investigative dramatic-thriller, tracing the steps to one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times.

Director: Tom McCarthy
Writer: Tom McCarthy (screenplay), Josh Singer (screenplay)
Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber
Runtime: 128 min; Rated: R; Genre: Biography, Drama, History; Released: 31 Dec 2015 Continue reading »

More From the Uhmerikah Front

 Congress, Corruption, Crime, Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on More From the Uhmerikah Front
Feb 052014

marco-rubio-watergateMarco Rubio shared a link to a National Review article about the U.N. report on the Catholic Church’s worldwide problem of child abuse. The report, not surprisingly seems to be in favor of said child abuse, and is indignant that the U.N. would have the gall to call out the Catholic Church on its many abuses. Since he’s provided the link on his Facebook page, I have to assume Marco supports that view.

I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’d support the Catholic Church no matter what…he claims to be a Catholic. Never mind that he was born and raised Mormon, supposedly converted to Catholicism, but reportedly attends (on the rare occasions he goes to church…I’d guess during election periods) a Baptist church.

But this isn’t about him, but about the comments demanding that the U.N. be kicked out of the United States. Darla Rodriguez leaves the best comment of all, saying, “The U.N. is corrupted. Time to close it’s doors and move it out of the USA. The U.N. has numerous cases of rape, child abuse laying at their front door…they are hypocrites.”

Do these people ever read what they write?

My reply to that Darla, if corruption, rape, and child abuse are indeed grounds for an institution to close its doors, then why are you not demanding the closing of the Catholic Church? I know there are many good people who are Catholic, but the church, as an institution, has turned those three things into an art form.

The stupid burns.

Angels and Demons – A Movie Review

 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on Angels and Demons – A Movie Review
May 172009

angelsanddemons_smallposterWhen Robert Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati — the most powerful underground organization in history — he also faces a deadly threat to the existence of the secret organization’s most despised enemy: the Catholic Church. When Langdon learns that the clock is ticking on an unstoppable Illuminati time bomb, he jets to Rome, where he joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and enigmatic Italian scientist. Embarking on a nonstop hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals and even to the heart of the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra will follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that mark the Vatican’s only hope for survival.

Genres: Thriller, Adaptation, Politics/Religion and Sequel; Running Time: 2 hrs. 18 min.; Release Date: May 15th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Armin Mueller-Stahl

Directed By: Ron Howard

This film delivers well as the book was written in a fashion that reads like a international action thriller touching on the intellectual and spiritual.

The film takes off with the development in sciences that would have significance in proving the big bang theory but a crime is committed and a sample of the proof is stolen from a large lab in Europe. As the story progresses, they realize there may be a tie to a group who claim to be the Illuminati and who are seeking to bring down the Catholic church with the truth of science. This somehow involves deeply delving into the history of the Catholic church, it’s security concerns, hidden treasures and the bits of truth that may be stored away that they don’t want the public to be aware of.

From there, the film just gets thicker and faster. Ewan McGregor does a great job and is a refreshing face in the film along with some other good names that round out the cast, unlike Da Vinci Code which had only one mode to the film. Angels&Demons is much more watchable and theatrical. The performances are much better because the book has many bigger than life characters and events. It followed the book better as in the way it didn’t water down the controversy and graphic details. The Angels&Demons film is definitely worth a watch and will wash out any of the bad taste left from Da Vinci Code.

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The Death of John Paul

 Religion, Society  Comments Off on The Death of John Paul
Apr 032005

Pope John Paul II has died. I’m not Catholic (nor am I one of the many “former/recovering” Catholics), and I don’t have particularly strong feelings about this particular pope. But seeing the crowd gathered in St Peters Square has caused me to develop some thoughts on the history of the church and John Paul’s place in it.

So how do I evaluate the reign of the former Karol Jozef Wojtyla? I would give him about a “C.”

He was less reactionary than most who have held the See of Peter in modern times, but less progressive than either his immediate predecessor — who died way too soon to leave much of a legacy, or Pope John XXIII — who left one for the ages.

John Paul II spoke for economic justice and the needs of the poor (not always with the full authority of the Papacy). He was a courageous champion of freedom for those suffering under Soviet tyranny in Eastern Europe (probably because he had lived it); He opposed the death penalty and the War in Iraq. And he made a good faith effort (pun intended) to advance the church’s painful reconcilation with its anti-Semitic past.

On the other hand, John Paul II was a cipher on most of what we here in the States would call the “social issues.” His refusal to budge on Human Vitae was particularly discouraging, as was his equally?stubbon position on clerical celibacy. And of his attitude towards the gay and lesbian members of his human flock, there’s little to say and less that’s good.

I don’t know to what extent those positions were motivated by a political fear of schism and to what extent they were deeply held beliefs, but their long-run effects will be to add to the net stock of human misery, both for the world as a whole and for the church.

As “billmon” wrote at the Whiskey Bar Blog, “The Catholic Church is more than just a political institution, and a pope can’t be evaluated in political terms alone — left on economic issues, right on abortion, as if he were a candidate in a U.S. Senate race. A pope’s moral impact on the world, like the impact of the church itself, has a lot of moving parts, including the complexity of the religious experience, the material or psychological benefits each believer derives from that experience, and — last but hardly least — the impact of religious doctrines or practices on nonbelievers.”

On balance I think Christianity has been a net positive for the world, despite its frequent fits of ignorance and intolerance. For John Paul, though, I have to close the book at something near even — more because of the opportunity costs of the things he failed to do as pope, rather than for losses suffered because of the things he did do.

The pope is a big guy and the Catholic Church is a big organization, and it’s been in business a long time. In fact, unless I’ve overlooked something in the historical catalog, the church can rightly claim to be the planet’s oldest surviving.

Two thousand years is a remarkable run for an entity run by creatures who, even under the best conditions, typically live only about 1/30th that long. Catholic or Protestant, one can’t sit through a Catholic Mass and not be moved by the power of the ceremony. There’s a grandeur and richness to Catholicism…a way of reaching from the vertical to the horizontal.

Something about the institution has allowed it to defy (so far at least) the slow decay of history, even as proud dynasties and powerful empires have gone down like flies around it. Looking back at the endless schisms and political scheming, the corruption of the the priests and the sheer bigoted ignorance of its various inquisitions, it’s a miracle the church managed to survive the Reformation, much less regain a measure of its moral standing.

You have to have a certain respect for an organization that has managed to retain the loyalty and deep affection of millions of human beings for almost two millennia, despite its own enormous flaws.

As the Catholic Church moves through the ancient rituals of succession, I’ll be watching closely — to see whether the College of Cardinals can transcend their own limitations and produce a pope like John XXIII, or whether the reactionaries will, as usual, have the upper hand (as the case in the Episcopal Church of late) and the kind of papacy that goes with it.

The answer may not determine the fate of the church — for a 2,000-year-old institution, what’s another CEO, more or less? But it will go a long way towards telling me whether I should, on balance, regard that ancient institution as an ally or an enemy of the moral values in which I believe.