Tag Archives: bible

On Love…(excerpt from upcoming Revolution and Beer book: TOMFOOLERY IS NOT A GUY FROM TEXAS, Riffs and Rants from Post-Republican America)

the mooksI’m collecting perspectives. That’s all any of us can do in coming to an understanding of what love is, which is fundamentally what the issue of Gay Marriage comes down to; Love and the hierarchy of love. That is, which love is valid, and with is not.

So, if in a truly Christian society, particularly one in which not only the Bible is contradictory, but even the most boisterously pious of men ultimate are judicious in what in that book they will adhere to, and what they will not, we are left with perspectives. So it becomes a mandate for each of us to collect perspectives on the world, and to weigh things not just in the balance, but upon a broader, deeper understanding of love.

I suppose that’s the way to come to some better comprehension of the word, as it is as elusive as defining a day without explaining the rotation of the earth, the waxing and waning of shadows, of morning dew, the urgency of fulfilling each final moment before sunset, or donning a sweater against an evening chill.

How does one comprehend the wind from a single pale word? In it there is limited comprehension for the gentlest of breezes against a humid morning, the rage of a tornado, a howling blizzard wind or the gust that stands out a flag to its fullest glory. There is only a hint of consideration in the word “wind” for the clap of a full sail unfurling, of the thundering surf rushed towards a pristine shoreline, the rattles of trash through an alley, the frosty whistle through a gap in the window.

Words fail us, and the heart fails us more. Not in the wish for love, but in the arrogance of ego that we truly comprehend its scope. Young lovers exalt in its electric rush, sweeping them headlong towards the uncertainty of love; to be swept over into the abyss where they are lost, or to settle into something that lasts a lifetime. There is the love in a child’s needing eyes, love in the betrayal and sorrow of a broken heart and an argument, and love in the adoring gaze of a pet.

There is love among friends, between lovers and among enemies. The desperate, dying and downtrodden find love in the rescuing eyes of those who would comfort and save them. Some find love in a glass of wine, or in a wonderful meal, others in the whisper of a sunrise or the majesty of a moment. We love our work and the passion of a cherished painter, or the brilliance of a favorite writer, or in diversity of all things. Many find it in the grace and goodness of god, but who’s god? What form god takes is entirely one’s own definition, and that definition informs their perspective or lack of perspective on love.

Defining love might be the fools way out. No, better to come to it as a science of sorts, in which there will never be a proper or simple definition, but rather a deeper knowledge and understanding…

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There is nothing in the Bible about contraception, so the Catholic Church’s issue with offering free contraception to women is at best an interpretation based upon something that doesn’t exist. Some would call that a fabrication. The Church leadership’s ignorance on this position is no different than the idea of so-called “Activist Judges” interpreting the Constitution, except that those rulings originate in public debate and representative law. As a Catholic, I do not belong to a cult, but to a community whose guidance should come from the Bible and God and not men. This is merely a political statement by a church seeking to accelerate its obsolescence, and hardly a spiritual statement rooted in any reason, wisdom or understanding of women’s needs and rights.


Legacy

I was a child in the 1960s and early 70s, but even at an early age it was impossible not to be affected by those tumultuous years. Even in the suburbs, far from the so-called Grant Park riots, the anti-war movement, Civil Rights, the vitriolic assaults  against those questioning the status (white) quo and Vietnam, the historic scope of those years was inescapable. And that was perhaps the most dramatic period of American History since the civil war. Before that change was far more incremental, and still favored the status quo. White power and supremacy was not assailed or significantly challenged for more than two centuries. That changed in the 1960s.

But the effort begun during those years was surrendered as that generation grew older. Many, though not all, abandoned the ideal of love, peace and egalitarianism they fought, bled, and in the case of Kent State or Martin Luther King, or Malcolm X and many others, died for. To be fair, their dreams were not completely abandoned. Important steps forward in peace, human and civil rights were made, but too many of that generation believed they had won the fight, or had won it enough. In the last several decades a purposeful effort was made to discredit their work and to roll it back as much as possible. As much as civil order would tolerate. But many from that generation abandoned their ideals, or followed the mantra of ideological cowards, a phrase repeated endlessly by the Right:

When I was a young man I was a liberal, when I grew up I was a conservative.

Where is the evidence for the charge that the 60s generation quit, conceded or defected to the enemies of peace and tolerance? First of all, they are the ones mostly in charge now, because succeeding generations have not yet acquired enough money, power and influence. Here are but a few examples. 

Racists have honed their message, and made their craft slicker and less apparent, even seductive. So-called “men” like Limbaugh and Savage and Beck tease the humors of their closeted and bigoted followers in carefully couched language. Human Rights were thrown back pre-Second World War over lawyerly justifications and obfuscations about torture. Vietnam was  a war over money, markets(oil and rubber) and influence filtered through extreme national ego, with just the right amount of racism to sell it to middle America. The perverse invasion of Iraq, the “strategic” picking and choosing of which human rights issues we will interfere in makes American foreign policy in Indochina and the 1960s-world seem naive and innocent by comparison.

And please don’t think this is a generational thing. My generation gave itself to an “Alex B. Keaton” style of morality and conscience, compromising comfort with ethics. We were on watch when the Twin Towers were struck, and when war threatened in Iraq, carried on propaganda and demonstrable lies, we acquiesced. A million of us marched, but it wasn’t enough, because we didn’t understand the powers arrayed against us, nor how to  turn the message to our favor. We stood in the street and then conceded when the war began, disillusioned that a wholly owned media would impune our patriotism, and that a bought and paid for government wouldn’t simply ignore us, it laughed in our faces as pathetic for believing our voice actually held value in this nation.

And now comes the Occupy Movement. they stand for equality. They stand for freedom. And they stand for a government that must work for human beings, rather than corporate and banking interests. And for those simple assertions they are treated like peddlers of porn or worse. Safe from the comfort of their homes, too many in older generations ignore their efforts or dismiss them as kids, communists-and even worse-not serious. They will inherit the world the rest of us failed to improve enough. They are in the fight to reverse the damage the out of control influence corporations have had on the nation and the world. It is a just fight. It is the correct fight, because in each of our hearts we know the alternative should this movement fail.

And they have created their own media. The mainstream media is obsolete and never even a consideration any longer. The revolutions will not be televised, I have heard, it has been digitized. And it works through the amazing  ascension of social networking, instantly and around the world. They control their own message, and underground message, if you will, growing and strengthening as the old media kills itself off with its corrupted and co-opted corporate parentage. Occupy will succeed or build its own society based upon principles often quoted from the Constitution…and Bible…documents too many now wipe their ass with to use as a weapon against others. 

But what if it succeeds? What if a world in which the individual is paramount is forged. What if the government works to further human rights, fight wars only in defense or in defense of the helpless rather than as the enforcement wing of multi-nationals, or the marketing wing of those companies, siphoning taxpayer dollars to subsidize corporate profits? what if we lived in a world in which political candidates were chosen by the people, without the money influence, and that we could be sure they were beholden to us, and if not faced dismissal or prosecution? What if our choice for president was  3 or 5 or a dozen viable candidates, rather than two media chosen automatons shoe-horned into the ballot box? Now what if none of that came to pass?

And so one question remains, one that calls us back to our purer, less cynical, less damaged,more loving and accepting selves? When is it time for change? When do we decide to make that change. Where does a road begin, and when is it time to take the first step on that road. No one can make that decision for another. They must make it on their own. But that decision begins change in the world, every decision makes change in the world, and that is each person’s legacy.  

In my younger days I was a liberal…and I never stopped fighting or believing.

That is my legacy.


Right to life, Death penalty: The power to choose who lives and who dies

This piece began as another rail against Rick Perry and the sad tale of Cameron Willingham. Accused of murdering his three children in a fire, Willingham was wrongly convicted through a combination of flawed evidence, incompetent counsel, witness bias and the arguable corruption of investigators. He was subsequently sentenced to death, an innocent man thrust into a process which, contrary to public perception, favors the process of execution over the spectre of putting to death an innocent man.

Suddenly the burden of proof is on the condemned, rather than the necessity of the State to prove its case for fear of rendering the ultimate punishment against the innocent. It creates an almost insurmountable obstacle. Given the revolutionary advances in criminal forensics in the last 20 years, from DNA analysis to precise crime scene investigative techniques, failure in death penalty cases to be absolutely sure of guilt or innocence becomes tantamount to a crime.

Cameron Willingham was wrongly executed for the deaths of his three daughters in Texas, 2009

 Conclusive evidence emerged showing that the original forensic evidence was deeply flawed and, “hardly consistent with a scientific mindset and is more characteristic of mystics and psychics,” according to a Texas Forensic Science Commission investigator. The evidence was not only rebuffed by Perry, but the investigating committee was purposelly stopped in its tracks before it could hear testimony by the investigator. Right up to the day of Willingham’s execution by lethal injection, Perry refused to consider this new evidence, embarking on a campaign to discredit the commission and perpetuating falsehoods about the condemned man.  Odd for a man who backs an anti-abortion amendment to the Constitution. 

Perry’s hypocritical views on life issues are consistent with his anti-science views, which is why choice-individual choice- is far more consistent with the Constitution, and indeed, the Bible, than the current ideology he currently panders to. The problem is that the Evangelically-hijacked Right views the Bible as law rather than faith. The ultimate flaw in that argument is that it leaves no choice but to accept all of the Bible, mandating such extremist views that a person be stoned for eating shellfish or adultery just as they would for murder. As faith the Bible becomes a guide to higher principles, ethics and morality, while understanding that it is a historical document, not a history document. As law the Bible paints a person into indefensible corners, as it has for Perry in the Willingham case. If, indeed, the Bible is law, it all must be followed. There is no room for  disagreement. As faith it becomes a guide with flexibility enough for mercy and forgiveness.

It is an absolute hypocrisy to act as a self-appointed advocate for the unborn and not advocate fully to protect any possibility of innocence for the condemned. Not only is it a hypocrisy, but it becomes a complete abrogation of their assumed responsibility by those who view the Bible as law. That assumption comes with an implicit power over life and death, which, by any moral standard, Perry abused fully in the Willingham case. In the view of the Bible-as law- what does that say for Perry, and for those who believe as strident and uncompromising as he?

The death penalty is arguable. What is not is the calculated abandonment of an innocent man on death row. Perry not only abandoned this man to unjust death for a crime that legitimate and legally sanctioned investigators proved he did not commit, but he deliberately interfered with a commission’s report that would have proved Willingham’s innocence.

That begs the question for men like Perry, as to whether or not they truly believe in  the Right to Life, or if it isn’t a political tactic. If he is true to his faith, has Perry ever once paused to consider his crime and ask forgiveness for the death of this young man? The problem with hypocrites who hide behind religion is that they tend to ask forgiveness in order to keep perpetrating the same sins, instead of seeking true forgiveness and finding greater wisdom from the inherent human weaknesses that we all suffer. Doubtful whether Perry is interested in either, and is more interested in the power and wealth that comes along with wrapping himself in the Bible in order to appear faithful.


Standing on Human Rights, not Principles

Standing on principle is a fraud. It is a lawyerly equivocation and obfuscation of the truth. It is a way of being morally corrupt but legally sound. Standing on principle assumes we all share the same principles. Evidence a Mob lawyer who stands on principle for his client. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden stood on their principles. Siding with an economic system over the Constitution or the Bible, Koran, Torah…is standing on a principle. Principles can be bought and sold, or rented. Human Rights are fundamentally different. There can be no equivocation on Human Rights without sacrificing your own in the process.

In June 1989 I stood before the Chinese Consulate in Chicago imploring fellow artists to stand with the protesters who were being slaughtered in Tiananmen Square. A few years later I defended the First Ammendment over an

Tiananmen, 1989, W.C. Turck

attempt to shut down an anti-crime art exhibition. Ultimately standing for Human Rights landed me in Bosnia as a witness to the siege of Mostar, Sarajevo, and the Genocide of Bosnia’s Muslim population. I was willing to risk my life for these ideals and to stand on the side of the weak and voiceless. Principles make no distinction between weak and powerful,  or between the voiceless and those with the means to flood every discourse with their own message.

Indeed, I was raised on those ideals. I grew up during the Civil Rights issue, taking to heart the messages of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, both being 2 sides of the same beautiful coin. i believed in the post-Holocaust pledge of “Never Again,” those words resonating ever stronger when we visited  a Lakota schoolmate on a South Dakota reservation during the Wounded Knee uprising, witnessing first hand the appalling conditions imposed upon them for almost 2 centuries by “Men of Principle.”

In October 2001, the nation still reeling from the terrible atrocities of September 11, I once again found myself standing for the voiceless, preparing and willing to put everything on the line when a CEO made an irresponsible statement threatening the lives and livelihoods of friends and co-workers. Before television cameras, I challenged that statement. An hour later I faced retribution for the audacity to speak my mind to the Press, just as the Constitution prescribes and conscience demands. But I stood against a giant corporation and prevailed. Later my wife, unwaveringly supportive through all of it, remarked, “I’m proud of you, but if we’d had kids I would have killed you.”

I knew what she was saying, and knew that my emotions tend to run away with me at times. But if we had children and taught them nothing else, it would be that I would always keep a roof over their heads and food in their belly, but that they should stand for something.

These are the reasons I am a Liberal and  a Progressive. The powerful don’t need champions, advocates and allies. Their’s are the highest paid salesmen money can buy, filling our airwaves, papers and televisions with carefully crafted and stunningly packaged messages meant to evoke sympathy fear and loyalty to the powerful. The poor and weak have no such voice. What is the defiant voice of a single man against the deafening thunder of  a corporation or corrupted government? This is why I am a Liberal and a progressive, for to abandon one man’s Human Rights ultimately is to abandon my own.


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