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Diseased Politics

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, life, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2011 by chouck017894

When religious extremists in the US finally wrested control of the Republican Party in 1996, the pulsating health of democracy began to decline.  As often happens, the early signs of contamination did not seem to be threatening.  The killer potential kept itself disguised long enough to establish a network of carriers, most of whom were unaware that they carried unstable spiritual impurities.  In 1997 (July 6), for example, “reverend” Jerry Falwell pontificated, “America is in imminent peril…rotting from within.”  He was correct in diagnosing the symptoms, but totally clueless that he and his political-minded faith merchants were the deadly contaminants.  And it was in 1997-98 that the religiously bedazzled Missouri Senator, John Ashcroft, tested the political waters for president of the United States, receiving most of his financial support from the religiously militant Pat Robertson and other evangelical extremists.

It was in 1998 that the fanatical religionists’ craving for temporal power received a stimulus injection in the form of a new private school to be known as Patrick Henry College.  It was the first school established primarily for evangelical Christian home-schooled children.  The event elicited considerable hoopla on every corporate-owned major network and cable news, as well as spreads in the New York Times, Time Magazine, The Economist, etc.  Michael Farris, a lawyer who was obsessed with “…the irreligious trend in America’s public schools,” founder of the college, stated, “We are not home-schooling our children just so they can read.”  He added, “…if we put enough kids in the system, some may get through the major league.”  In other words, get their narrow religious values injected into top posts of the US government.

A 1999 Pew Research Center poll reported that 44% of Americans expected Jesus Christ to return to Earth in their lifetime.  A Gallup poll that year disclosed that 47% of Americans believed that human beings had been created in their present form within the last ten thousand years!  Still another Gallup Poll revealed how senseless prejudices, generally fueled by religious misinformation, influenced voting choices of huge segments of American citizens.  Those who were taught to be distrusted for public office included blacks, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, homosexuals and atheists even though they might be well qualified  for carrying out political duties.  In this same timeframe, Newsweek magazine had also conducted as poll, which revealed that around 40% of American Christians believed in Armageddon.  Nearly the same amount were convinced that the antichrist was already alive.

It was in the latter days of the twentieth century that the term “faith-based” became the euphemism to camouflage the aggressive purpose of the religious fanatics.  The euphemism became an extremely successful means of diversion of public attention from the proper relationship that legally existed between government and religion, having been put in place to assure genuine justice for all citizens.  And it was with this continuing burlesque of “holy purpose” that the twentieth century stumbled ignominiously to a close.

The new millennium was ushered in and planet Earth continued to trundle its course through the infinite heavens.  But the messiah had not yet appeared to the Jews, the savior had not yet arrived to redeem Christians, and the Muslims still waited for heavenly blessings from Allah.  The televangelists were still shamelessly offering spiritual exclusivity to anyone who would send money to their “ministry.”  In this period of time, around 40% of US citizens defined themselves as born-again Christians.  The United States of America, the land of freedom, was being sucked into the quicksand of religious duplicity and hypocrisy that had once decimated Europe some five hundred years before; a religious plague across most of that continent that resulted in the Dark Ages.  But the religious fanatics, ever the great pretenders of morality,  insisted that the land of freedom must look far backward for moral instruction and incorporate their prejudicial concepts into the mechanics of government.

So what did the land of freedom have thrust upon the people through the suspicious intrusion of the Supreme Court?  A born-again president and a hand-picked cabinet of religious extremists!  Here was a person installed as President who declared that his favorite “political philosopher” was Jesus Christ!  Apparently he meant the apocalyptic Jesus in Revelation, not the earlier gentle teacher who had taught “do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  The questionable manner of this nominee’s “winning” the national election was followed by years of questionable “biblical values” that allowed for giving public money to the wealthy, wage illegal wars, indulge in illegal detentions, torture of captives, opposition to process as being “unpatriotic,” and imposition of one of the most serious blockages on the constitutional checks and balances of power that skated dangerously close to dictatorial. 

The tentacles of religious propaganda that had for years been growing across the US was longing to devour its prey and regurgitate a government of “biblical values.”  With a convenient war in his pocket, the incumbent President spoke loudly of moral values (?) in a bid for a second term as he ignored the lies, deceptions, war mongering and deliberate criminality of his supporters—not exactly what Jesus is alleged to have taught.  Among his supporters, their religious morality and ethics was accentuated by many churches openly abusing the Charter Tax-exemptions during this campaign.  The badgering of unbelievers ran rampant, fueled by tax-free monies gathered by religious groups.  Even the Internal Revenue Service would later release a study of these abuses by churches, the major recipients of non-profit organization tax exclusion.  Ethics apparently was not too much of a concern to the IRS, for 99% of the known church violations were never pursued.  And so the self-serving religious deceptions are allowed to continue to this day. 

O how the majority of citizens yearned for a change, ached for a return to more democratic principles, craved the true compassion and tolerance that is the soul of those democratic principles.  And wonder of wonders, the younger voters and older voters who actually use their brains rose up to defend citizen rights, and Lo!  a black man was elected as President!  But that has only infuriated those piety-pretenders still more, and they have reassembled under the banner of Tea Party.  The disease in US politics is now pernicious and life-threatening for true democracy.

Judaism and Ancient Mystery Religions

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, faith, random, religion, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 1, 2010 by chouck017894

Beneath the surface of Judaism there has always existed a strong element of mystery. For most Jews, however, the zeal for studying the Torah in search of any relationship to the ancient tantalizing mystery religion ingredients are sufficiently gratified by the body of the Mosaic Law, not to mention the redoubtable commentaries that accompany them.  Thus their esoteric heritage has simply faded into the dim corners of Orthodoxy.

Canonical Judaism shows the influence of ancient mystery religions most closely in the so-called wisdom literature that gained prominence in the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE—a timeframe coinciding with the Hasmoneans, a family of Jewish patriots better known as Maccabees.  This also happened to be the timeframe in which the Pentateuch, the Septuagint translation, was being written in Alexandria.  The texts that hint most closely at divine mystery elements are found in Koheleth (Ecclesiastes), Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Chokmah (Wisdom of Solomon), Proverbs, and the Book of Job.  These examples of wisdom literature are most notable for the perspective that is expressed, for the viewpoint does not arrogantly segregate mankind into Jews and Gentiles as is typical of priest-composed texts.  Instead, man’s worth is seen in the wisdom literature to be determined as either wise or foolish.  The Lord that is addressed in these wisdom texts is correctly understood as acknowledgment of the unified principles of Creation that produced and approved all that exists.

The Book of Job was a direct restructuring of an 1870-1830 BCE  Babylonian account, and is the most consistently theological work in the Hebrew Bible, focusing on an extensive dialogue on one theological issue—the purpose of suffering.  Its superiority stems from the lack of priestly philosophy and religiosity, and being rich in mythopoeic knowledge of reality.  That reality rests in the story of an innocent man not accusing himself as being deserving of the afflictions he suffered and placing the blame squarely where it belongs (on god).  This, of course, was an unacceptable premise for the priests of Yahweh, and so they fitted the superior Babylonian story with an anticlimax to serve their priestly purpose. 

The book of Proverbs consists primarily of short sayings that express terse insights into human affairs, especially of a social and religious nature such as wisdom, wickedness, violence, concern for others, greed, etc.  Authorship is  popularly credited to Solomon, but indications are that these treasures of wisdom were collected well after the time in which Solomon is alleged to have ruled (c. 960 BCE)—like about three centuries after.

The deuterocanonical book Sirach, written c. 180-130 BCE, was a collection of ethical teachings, and has much in common with Proverbs.  The book closes with the assessment that the wisdom and greatness of God is revealed in all his works, not just in the history and people of Israel, and this is what is presented as justifying belief in God. 

Cholomah is a Hebrew word meaning “wisdom,” and is defined in Cabala (Ha Qabalah, Kabala, Kabbala) as the second of ten sefirot (divine emanations), and regarded as the first power of conscious intellect within Creation.  When Cabalists analyzed the Pentateuch (first five book of the Old Testament) they believed that they had found metaphysical and cosmological doctrines to be concealed in the words broken down into their numerical equivalents.  This would seem to indicate that whoever the authors of those opening four book* may have been, they were proficient at understanding and concealing from the masses profound  knowledge of the Creation processes.  (*The book of Leviticus does not fit comfortably or logically into the book lineup of the Israelite’s alleged history; it is all about priestly authority propaganda and nothing more.)

In the text known as Koheleth, which translates something like “speaker of the assembly,” the main speaker claims to be the “son of David and king in Jerusalem,” and reflects often on the meaning of life.  The author’s assessment is that all of man’s actions are “transitory, “temporary,” “empty,” “vain,” “futile,” and “meaningless.”  The stoic flavored text focuses on mortality and the struggle that permeates life, and does not labor over the yearned for reward of Paradise.  The author’s rather cynical outlook is that the lives of the wise and the lives of the foolish both end in death, but he sees wisdom as being the best way to achieve a more self satisfying and well-lived life.  Even so, he could not credit an eternal reward for having cherished wisdom.  This is not typical priestly party-line material. 

Among the mystery items in Jewish observation to this day is the Menorah, the seven-branched candlestick that became the idolized feature of Judaism.  The ceremonial candelabrum allegedly symbolizes the seven days of Creation (Exodus 37:17-24), but it was not a feature in the earliest worship of Yahweh even though the priest-written history composed in 7th century BCE claims that it had always been an item used in veneration of Yahweh, its use having been suggested to Moses by God.  The object was used in Babylonia (and Egypt) and was absorbed into Jewish tradition during the days of  “Captivity” there.  The seven-branched candlestick in Babylonian observances represented the Sun surrounded by the six then-known planets, and it therefore symbolized for them the journey that the soul made after death.  This association of the soul’s journey was a feature in all ancient mystery religions.

The rabbinical explanations of the menorah as representative of the seven days of Creation is perceptibly faulty, for the central light being ascribed to the Sabbath does not correspond with the “Let there be light” command of the fourth day of Creation.  There is a more ancient tradition than the rabbinical one which is echoed in the Zohar (from Cabala, metaphoric discourses on the Torah), which says, “These lamps, like the seven planets above, receive their light from the sun.”  In ancient sun cult observances, such as in Egypt, the central branch of the candlestick properly represented Wednesday.  Thus the rabbinical view that it represented the Sabbath was neither poetically nor historically accurate.  (Incidentally, Moses is portrayed as having been a priest of the Sun god when in Egypt: in that timeframe in which the story is presented the menorah was indeed in use in the sanctuary, and had to face W. S. W.   So, in a manner of speaking, one could say that Moses had been counseled by God to continue in use of the seven-branched candlestick.)  The first cosmic association with the menorah is in Zechariah, who is alleged to have learned in a vision that the seven lamps were “…the eyes of Yahweh that run to and fro through the universe.”  In other words, the seven planets.  Thus the annual lighting of the Temple candelabra at the autumn festival actually commemorates the creation of stars on the fourth “day.”

These few examples drawn from ancient literature and symbolism still exert influence in today’s faith systems.

Old Turmoil and New Belief

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, culture, faith, history, random, religion, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 1, 2010 by chouck017894

It was not until about 300 BCE, in the Hellenistic period, that foreign observers began to write extensively about the laws, traditions and customs of the Jewish people.  The Greek skeptic, historian and philosopher Hecataeus of Abdera (4th century BCE) recorded observations of Jewish life in his work Peri Hyperborean.  Hecataeus noted with some wonderment the Jewish traditions which then lavished their priests with highest prestige, and he pondered over the Laws of Deuteronomy which prevailed over social legislation.  Indeed, the monarchy which had crystallized with King Josiah (d. 608? BCE) had been completely overshadowed by this 300 timeframe.  He sensed the irony in the fact that it had been during the reign of King Josiah that the book of Deuteronomy happened to have been “discovered” in the Temple wall in Jerusalem.

 Jews were more fanatically devoted to their God than most Pagan cultures that Hecataeus had encountered.  That difference was due principally to the Pagans having closer affiliations with nature in which they recognized the interlocking aspects at work within nature and respected those aspects as godlike in their own right.  The Jews, on the other hand, long dominated by priest-organizers, had been conditioned for generations through use of priestly writings from the time of King Josiah and so shared the belief in a composed history that starred Abraham as their God-blessed progenitor.  The priest-written history assured them that from the time of Abraham a whole string of Israelite ancestors could be claimed, all of whom had spoken directly with God.  The “history” of Exodus, for example, and the asserted inheritance of the Promised Land provided the elements for a shared identity for the people in a psychological manner that the mythologies of other cultures could not.  Thus conditioned for generations, the Jews shared law codes attributed to Moses—a whole battery of laws (613) which, strangely, as noted, had not been found until the time of King Josiah.  The unity of the Judean people was strongly anchored upon the priests’ holy narratives that provided the illusion of their faith’s historic past.

The priests of Yahweh, accomplished story-tellers, borrowed from extremely ancient cosmological teachings as the source from which they constructed Israelite “history.”  Mesopotamian and Persian religious epics, for instance, offered ancient cosmic secrets also, but these were not presented in a manner that seemed to be linked to a people’ personal history.  Neither did those epical myths particularly inspire principles of moral responsibility.  Similarly, the Greek myths of deities and epics of heroes were presented in metaphorical fashion, and were meant only to inspire by example.

After the conquest of the Near East c. 332 BCE by Alexander the Great, there was a gradual and steady increase of awareness and recognition of the Judeans (Jews) throughout the Mediterranean world.  By the time of the second century BCE there had evolved a questioning spirit among the Judean people, which resulted from association with Syrian culture after being conquered by Antiochus the Great in 198 BCE.  There was mounting dissatisfaction with the excesses of Antiochus and it eventually lead to outright revolt by the Maccabees under Mattathias, a priest.  (Maccabees are more properly referred to as Hasmoneans, from Hasmon, a name of an ancestor.)  The priest-inspired revolt went on, led by the priest’s son Judas, to conquer a large part of the land traditionally regarded as the land of Israel, and the Judean’s Law was forced upon the conquered inhabitants.  In 165 BCE Judas regained possession of Jerusalem and immediately purified and rededicated the Temple.  (This is celebrated even today in the Jewish Feast of the Dedication.)  Judas was later slain in battle against the successor of Antiochus, and Judas was succeeded by his brother Jonathan.  With this, under sufferance of other powers, the Hasmonean line of priest-rulers was established. 

But by the first century BCE the Maccabean kingship had degenerated due to petty squabbles.  The Roman Senate, at the insistence of Marcus Antonius and annoyed at the Jews’ narrow patriotism and self-righteousness, installed Herod as King of Judea in 39 BCE.  The Herodians were more of a political party than a priest-led religious sect.  Of course the Judeans were not particularly happy with that either.

It was this distinctive prickly characteristic of God’s chosen ones that apparently grew wearisome even to God, and so he made arrangements forthwith for his only begotten son to manifest into the troublesome little region on planet Earth.  Evidently nowhere else on Earth was there dire need of such a direct intrusion and supervision.  Thus in the incensed environment around one group of people in the world—a people troubled by resentful and unspiritual religious controversies and manipulated through elaborate religious ritual—Jesus came upon the local Near-East scene to bring holy adjustment to the entire world.

Choosing What Was to be Believed

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, history, Inspiration, random, religion, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 11, 2010 by chouck017894

For those who choose to believe that every word in the Bible is inviolable, the only thing that they prove by that stance is that they ignore how it was compiled by a cut-and-paste method.  Most of the writings that are known as the New Testament were established by canon sometime after 200 CE.  In this process the “fathers” of Christianity were highly selective in the choices of their scriptural literature, often rejecting some parts within a literary work of even rejecting complete works of the same general tone.  This gathering of materials took place to set up the politics to be structured into their faith system and it required careful pruning and rejection of many literary works that were in use among the outlying cults of the movement that were springing up throughout the Roman Empire.  The “fathers,” in their zeal to impose a management system upon as many seekers as possible, indulged themselves in a pick-and-choose orgy of various literary works that often proved to be overly contradictory.

With politics of the struggling faith system always in the back of their minds the “fathers” therefore found the Gospel of John to be tolerable but cast aside similar works such as The Dialogue of Thomas.  They favored the Gospel of John because it happened to be written in such a manner that it could be utilized (read altered) to promote certain policies for an authoritarian structure that the “fathers” favored.  Gnostic-like works such as the Dialogue of Thomas and similar works encompassed a much broader or freer acceptance of religious practice than the power-seeking “fathers” preferred.  The “fathers” wanted the people to become totally reliant upon the dictates of the church representatives.  If seekers believed that one could approach the power that was personified as God only through his son-agent, and the church was the son’s representative, then the church had to be obeyed. 

Thus the literary works that were not rejected survived the selection process simply because the chosen works served the political need of the newly emerging authority-seeking priest class.  The shapers of the rudimentary Christian cult followed the example of the priest authors that had been devoted to Yahweh in the 7th century BCE in Jerusalem and who understood that the basic institutional structure of their religion had to have the apparent support of “authorized” scriptures. 

The political platform upon which episcopal authroity (church government) campaigned and overran the more natural and honest relgions at that time was the insistence that each person had to have a means beyond their own personal power to approach the creative primacy that was/is personified as “God.”  In this way the concept of personal integrity being the means of achieving “salvation” shifted into a totally churchy matter and no longer a personal affair between a seeker and their Creator.  This irrational intrusion of having the church thrust between a seeker and the Absolute had to carry the appearance of being divinely ordained if it was to become an influencing factor over the masses.   And this is what accounts for the selection of Gospels that have been held out to Christians for nearly 2000 years as being God’s singularly approved pathway to heaven.  It was not simply coincidence that those painstakingly selected literary works allowed for the souls of the seekers to held hostage as a means of financial resources and political muscle for the church wheeler-dealers.

God Didn’t Mention Chromosomes

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, gay culture, humanity, life, random, religion, science, sex, sex taboos, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by chouck017894

Love is the alleged message of Christian  faith—but the “holy” twist that pulpit charlatans put upon that message is only if that love is breeder-friendly.  The bewilderment of why god would discriminate against any commitment of love was brought back into question by an elderly Asian man who was soliciting signatures and donations at a market entrance for the drive to reestablish California state’s earlier approval of gay marriages. 1   As a father of a son and daughter, both hetero, his prime concern was over the calloused inequality practiced in the name of spiritual truth—a sense of inequality that had been imposed upon California voters by the Utah-based Mormon church’s intrusion into other peoples’ affairs through a devious $42 million ad campaign.  Interest in other people’s sexual attraction—which is nothing more than voyeurism and autoeroticism—should not be mistaken as a launch pad into God’s good graces. 

Previous posts here, such as Sex in Sacred Disguise (March 2009), pondered over how sexual allusions are intertwined throughout the whole framework of Judeo-Christian religious literature.  Words such as sacrament, testament, and seminary, we have seen, are directly traceable to sexual implication. 2  But despite such sexual allusions, the old priests and “prophets” who fathered these cults knew precious little regarding the holy secrets that set life in motion—those active principles which approve and insure the great diversity in life expressions.  That non-revealed process of life’s means composition proved blissful for the cult founders, for it allowed them the freedom to practice all forms of sexual intolerance.

Those much revered priest-mythmakers, for example, had not been informed by God about  how chromosomes and the chemistry of the brain determine the development of a person’s physical and sexual makeup. Unfortunately, even today the blindly faithful choose to accept principles set down long ago by those unenlightened men and completely ignore what science research has revealed concerning human development.  For example, the effects of sex chromosomes and the chemical sex hormones do NOT have an undeviating  manner of lining up according to one’s general anatomical features as religious prejudices have taught us to believe. 

Furthermore, anatomists know that there are considerable variations in the human brain—its shape, thalamus, structure of the cerebrum, etc.—that are extremely variable and are as individual as one’s fingerprints.  This means that mental and/or sensory properties connected within the brain structure may align within vastly diverse ranges, and no two persons will ever be exactly the same.  Obviously individuals are not meant to be identical in their life expressions.  So, as far as religious approval of human sexual expression goes, one size does not fit all.

Within these God-allowable differences there is left open the allowance for every diverse expression of life and love.  The chromosomes are what chemically controls the total development of the body, brain and intelligence.  These do so in a vast range of ways throughout each person’s lifetime.  Therefore, for political or religious faction to pretend that the “Creator” expects only one narrow expression of life or love to be striven for by all individuals is to be appallingly self-indulgent.  Even worse, such an unyielding attitude amounts to sacrilege. 

Hard-line, ego-driven religionists refuse to even consider the holy code used in production of all  life forms—the code of chromosomal and chemical “design” that decrees that there must be great diversity in human physical, mental and emotional expression.  Only in great diversity of life can the omniscient creative power be fully served.  This seems to be problematic only for those who choose to work themselves into histrionics over the fact that all life expressions mirror the power that gives forth all life.

Perhaps the great body of self-indulgence that is religion would do well to remember what science has also shown: The brain needs considerable amount of body to function in muscular circumstances, but very little brain is necessary for the body to corrode into corruption.

  • 1  Related post: Victimizing Gays is to Mock Jesus, October 2009
  • 2  Related post: Dressed for Sex, September 2009

Spring Equinox and Religious Myths

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, history, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2010 by chouck017894

In astronomy (the scientific study of the universe beyond the Earth) the point in Aries (about March 21-22 in the Northern Hemisphere) at which the ecliptic intersects the celestial equator, and the length of day and night are approximately equal all around Earth, is known as the Vernal Equinox or Spring Equinox.  This is one of four times of year that terrestrial position relative to the universe have been commemorated since most remote prehistory times.

The remote but documented Time Frame c. 3000-2000 BCE:  The  ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Persians, etc. customarily celebrated their New Year at the time of the Vernal Equinox, and the custom remains in Iran to this day.  The Chaldeans also recognized the period  following the Spring Equinox, which lapsed over into Taurus, as the harbinger of spring.  Their festivity echoed the earlier Sumerians’ reference to Taurus as the “Bull of Light,” the charging force that maintained the cycle of the seasons.  Out of this understanding the Bull constellation came to symbolize the renewal of the world after winter’s “death,” and its appearance was honored with annual resurrection rites.  In ancient Egypt on the occurence of the full moon at the Vernal Equinox (the point in Aries) the nation celebrated in joy the domination of the Ram.  The Egyptian holiday Sham El Nessim, can be traced back to at least 2700 BCE, and it is still one of Egypt’s holidays.

Time Frame c. 1500-1200 BCE:  A pre-Mosaic festival marking the advent of Spring was celebrated among the nomadic Hebrew people.  This early observance recognized the Ram (Aries) as symbolic of the spring period, as in Egypt, and this symbolism is echoed in the Genesis myth where Abraham is told to sacrifice his “only begotten son” to God, but at the last moment a ram is miraculously provided by God as a substitute.  The son Isaac thus equals the lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.”  What this and other similar prehistory literary subterfuges refer to is the creation process in which the first elements are given up to allow prototype formation to begin—the developmental process when elementary particles are activated so they may pass-over into matter development.

Time  Frame c.25 BCE:  Mystery cults that were  popular in Greece began to influence the Roman culture in this period, and by 200 Before our Common Era the cult of Cybele, a Phrygian/Greek nature goddess, was ensconced on what was later to became known as Vatican Hill.  The cult also honored Cybele’s consort Attis (nearly identical to older cultures’ gods such as Tammuz,  Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus).  Her festival began on “Black Friday,” so-called because of bloodletting that took place  during the self-emasculation ceremony of aspiring priests, known as Corybantes.  Attis, Cybele’s consort, was presented as having been born of a virgin (Nana), and was meant to be a sacrificial victim and savior of mankind.  The celebration in his honor was on March 25—or exactly nine months before his annual rebirth (December 25).  Curiously, in Roman Catholicism the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is held on March 25, and celebrated the alleged time when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she had been made pregnant (Luke 1:26-38).

Time Frame c. 100+ CE:   Ancient Saxons, a Germanic people who first appeared in history in the writings of Ptolemy in the second century CE, held a feast day for the goddess Ostara (the Saxon version of the German lunar goddess Eostre) on the full moon following the Spring Equinox.  It is from this Pagan goddess that Christianity absorbed its name Easter, which is celebrated in near-identical season calculation to the Saxon festival.

At the Vernal Equinox, due to the Earth’s movements, the Sun seemingly remains suspended in one position for three days where the ecliptic and equator cross.  This is the “cross” upon which the Sun is figuratively crucified every year.  This  apparent lack of motion accounts for the three days following the alleged crucifixion of Jesus after which he is said to have risen from the dead to appear to Mary Magdalene and some disciples.  From this part of the account we could conclude that Jesus performed his “Second Coming” at that time.

These brief (and far from complete) times-gone-by anecdotes are meant to show how disguised Pagan awe for nature and the wonder workings of the universe have subtly colored the rites and ceremonies of every organized western religion of today.  The honesty at the heart of Pagan respect for the interrelated elements at work  throughout the universe has been tramped down to pulp in the stampede of building hierarchical-style “faith” systems.  That loss has not been exactly for the betterment of anyones personal spiritual understanding or guidance.

Dismantlement of Fair Play Rules

Posted in Atheism, culture, Government, history, politics, random, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by chouck017894

Time Frame 1913:  The Federal Reserve Act established the national banking system, and in 1914, when Democrat Woodrow Wilson was President, the Federal Trade Commission Act outlawed unfair or deceptive business practices.  In the closing months of 1929 when Republican Herbert Hoover was President, the stock marked crashed, leading to the 1933 Glass-Steagal Act that set apart the “commercial banks” dealing primarily with checking and savings from the “investment banks” that dabbled in speculative trading and mergers.

In the decade after World War II years, prosperity, optimism and jitters over the threat of Communism kept the national financial climate fairly free of gross extortion for a while.  By 1968, when Democrat Lydon Johnson was President, it became necessary to enact the Truth in Lending Act, which required banks to disclose their loan terms and fees.  Greed hates restrictions and so the money-worshipers engineered a means of weakening the Glass-Steagal Act and getting installed the Bank Holding Company Act in 1970.  The clever finagling allowed the “commercial banks,” limited to checking and savings, a means of sidestepping via holding companies so the commercial banks could accept not only deposits but could also make commercial loans.  The next step in loosening banking activities occurred in 1978 when the Supreme Court approved giving the right to banks to make loans in states other than where the banks wer headquartered.  Naturally, that set off a stampede to states such as South Dakota and Delaware where consumer protections were not strong. 

Interest rates climbed after 1978, and a measure was pushed through Congress by Republican Jake Garn of  Utah that pulled off usury caps for mortgages.  By the next year Senator Garn was the chair of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.  His fellow deregulation advocate, M. Danny Wall, of the Office of Thrift Supervision, was made the majority staff director, and the lobbyists were ecstatic.  Thus set in power, Senator Garn then coauthored the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act, which deregulated the savings and loan businesses.  By 1984, when Republican Ronald Reagan acted as President, the S&Ls began to crash in Texas, and throughout the next decade over 1000 trifts failed nationwide, which cause the loss of $124 billion of taxpayer money.

Time Frame 1988:  Republican George H. W. Bush was president.  The collapse of the Silverado S&L, whose board members included Neil Bush, left a taxpayers’ liability of around $1.3 billion.  The federal Office of Thrift Supervision determined that Neil Bush’s engineering of loans constituted “multiple conflicts of interest.”  Interestingly, early in the next year President G. H. W. Bush move quickly to bail out S&L industries. And curiously the government then took over most of a $5 million second mortgage on the President’s son Jeb’s Miami office building.

Some six years later, 1995, when Democrat William J. Clinton was  President, the Republican dominated Congress jockeyed the Truth in Lending Act into law, a reform that greatly eased the regulations on creditors.  In late December of ’95, the jockeying continued; this time by Republican Newt Gingrich’s involvement and a measure that made it more difficult to sue companies for securities fraud was enacted!  This was followed eight months later with the Office of Thrift Supervision issuing a rule that preëmpted nearly all state laws that had regulated S&L dealings.

 Through 1997-1998 heavy lobbying or the Republican Congress, financed by $200 million from FIRE sector (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) and $150 million from political donations, pushed agenda items that included the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act to facilitate mergers.   This opened the means for Citicorp and Travelers to merge into a $70 billion corporation—which had been technically illegal under the Glass-Steagall Act. And Conseco was then free to purchase powerhouse Green Tree in a $5 billion deal.  In 1999 the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act was the coup de grâce for the Glass-Steagall Act, and it was not a mercy killing; its passage flung open the door for a wave of megamergers among banks, insurance and securities companies.  The driving force behind this insult to fairness ws Republican Senator Phil Gramm from Texas aided by Republican Representative Jim Leach of Iowa and Thomas J. Biley of Virginia. 

Gramm was not through though.  Just when Congress was anxious to close up shop for the Christmas recess, Senator Gramm cunningly attached a 262 page amendment to an omnibus appropriations bill, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act.  The attachment served to deregulate derivatives trading, which allowed an eruption in new unregulated securities as well as the Enron disaster.  Among the flock of vultures wer the lobbyists for the National Association of Realtors, fat with $13 million, that persuaded Congress to approve the American Homeownership and Economic Opportunity Act, which really made it harder for consumers to get our of lender-required insurance.

Needless to say, abuses in subprime activities exploded.  For example, in 2001 the Federal Trade Commission then had to sue the nation’s second largest subprime originator, Citigroup and its subsidiary Associates, for abusive lending practices that had involve over two million borrowers.  For Citigroup the suit was but a mosquito bite which was brushed off with a trifling $250 million settlement.

 Time Frame, entry into the 21st century:  The Republican machine was in full control, and Congress was urged to roll back subprime regulation by Stephen W. Prough, chairman of Ameriquest.  In self-defense the state of Georgia enacted an anti-predatory law designed to protect its citizens from subprime abuses and Ameriquest campaign against it, getting Standard and Poor, a division of McGraw-Hill to refuse to rate Georgia’s mortgage securities.  That effectively choked off credit supply to the state’s homebuyers, and the protective law was soon gutted.

Meanwhile, good old Phil Gramm was still wheeling and dealing.  This good buddy of Republican John McCain joined up with the Swiss investment bank UBS to “advise clients on corporation finance issues and strategy.”  He would also lobby Congress, the Treasury and the Fed on mortgage and banking issues.  Of course there was a great industry push to eliminate predatory lending rules.  By 2003 HSBC could buy pu Household finance, the nation’s fourth largest subprime lender.  Ameriquest succeeded in having New Jersey’s anti-predatory law gutted through intimidation tactics.  Happy with their lucrative activities Ameriquest then shelled out $200 million to the Bush campaign. 

In 2004, with Bush still saddled-up in the Oval Office, the Federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a final ruling which preëmpted states from applying most of their credit laws to national banks and their subsidiaries.  In 2005, what some called the Loan Shark Protection Act (officially known as the Responsible Lending Act) was deceptively billed by its promoter as an anti-predatory lending measure, but which actually preëmpted stronger state laws.  Its sponsor was Republican Representative Robert Ney of Ohio–who would later go to prison for his involvement in the Abramoff scandal.

The Bush-Cheney years would afford the nation such things as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act (2005), sponsored by Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, which actually made it still harder for consumers to discharge debts: businesses, of course, were not affected.  By March of 2007 Republican Senator John McCain announced that Senator Phil Gramm (yes, that Gramm) would join his presidential campaign as its co-chair and economic policy adviser.  But the nation’s financial crisis was already underway, thanks in part to Gramm.  There would follow the virtual meltdown of such outfits as the subprime giant New Century Financial, Dillon Read Capital Management, General Motors finance unit, American Home Mortgage, Countrywide Mortgage lender, and even Wall Street.  Ameriquest simply blew away.

But former bosses of such outfits as Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Countrywide were being questioned by Congress about the $40 million they had received throughout the five-year primetime boom.  Monopoly practices, once outlawed, continued with Bear Stearns taking over J. P. Morgan Chase in a Fed-engineered bailout—an action passed without the number of votes that are required by law.  Senator McCain knew how to ease the nation’s problems: just remove regulatory, accounting, and tax impediments to raising capital, he said!  And G. W. Bush said that he would veto legislation that sought to provide $300 billion for struggling homeowners, declaring it would be a “burdensome bailout” and the lenders would have to renegotiate some mortgages.  He would leave office with these words, “In terms of the economy, look, I inherited a recession, I am ending on a recession.”  Records show that there was a surplus in reserve when he swore to serve the people.  Maybe it would look better on his record if he hadn’t immediately given that away to the already-rich.