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Public Scatology and Sacrilege

August 16, 2019

I’m feeling rather punchy this morning.

Let’s begin with a little civic action to prevent the subluxation of health policy. Tell your congressmonster to quash the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act:

H.R. 3654 would impose false hope on Medicare patients by legitimizing useless pseudomedicine. It would endanger patients who need treatments that have been proven to be safe and effective in treating serious health conditions. And it would waste taxpayer dollars on snake oil. For the sake of patient health and safety, we can’t let this bill become law.

Michael Gerson is about to open up a can of whup-hiney:

I have a confession to make. I am one of the five remaining Americans who is uncomfortable with vulgarity, put off by profanity and offended by blasphemy. Swearing is now generally taken as a sign of authenticity; it is more often the expression of anger and aggression. I don’t think political discourse is improved by language more appropriate to a bar fight. I do think the presidency is diminished by public scatology and sacrilege. And I really don’t give a darn whether you think this is old-fashioned.

WASH THAT MOUTH OUT, GERSON. But he’s ready to scrap:

The problem does not lie in Christianity but in the moral formation of Christians. … the worship of political idols is ultimately a spiritual problem — a different kind of blasphemy.

These challenges run deeper than politics. Many white evangelical Christians hold a faith that appeals to the comfortable rather than siding with the afflicted. They have allied themselves with bigots and nativists, risking the reputation of the gospel itself. And, in some very public ways, they are difficult to recognize as Christians at all.

Writing about the Satanic Temple documentary Hail Satan?, Steve Rose at The Guardian asks, “Has the time come to rehabilitate the dark lord?” And I just happen to be reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to my son, and JUST LAST NIGHT we read the chapter in which its “dark lord” is, well, not rehabilitated, per se, but re-substantiated at the least. COINCIDENCE?

The Methodists might be breaking up the band, contemplating splitting into liberal and conservative denominations so the latter can continue to be mean to the gays.

Writing at The Good Men Project, James Haught says there may be more “closet atheists” than we think:

Some sophisticated theologians try to shift religion away from supernatural spirits. They contend that “God” actually is the human capacity to feel compassion and empathy—that “God is love.” Or, they postulate, that God is the awesome, mysterious power in every atom of the universe. … Actually, those who would reinterpret God in a manner far removed from traditional religion are almost “closet atheists” of another sort.

Mental Floss wastes its bandwidth to publish “12 Surprising Facts” about the show Ghost Hunters, including the “surprising fact” that Meat Loaf is a fan (how is that surprising?), and that, of course, the Ghost Hunters are the real skeptics:

While Gonsalves admits that ghost hunters aren’t scientists, he says that they do take a scientific approach. The “hateful skeptics,” however, annoy him. “They think we’re all liars, which is fine,” he said. “But when they start to get hateful it’s just like, come on guys, really? It sounds horrible, but boil it down to jealousy. I end up finding out that half of these skeptics are members of paranormal organizations, and when we first came out they loved us and said we pushed this into the forefront. But then they always sort of have that mindset that, it should be them on TV. I have yet to meet a skeptic that doesn’t have an ulterior motive to what they’re feeling or saying.”

Former CFI policy guy Michael De Dora, along with his colleague Aliya Iftikhar at the Committee to Protect Journalists, writes at CNN.com to urge India to end the communications blackout in Kashmir.

A study of American news outlets shows that “climate contrarians” (science deniers) get 49 percent more coverage than actual scientists who accept reality. Great.

Props to American Atheists for their spin on the “In God We Trust” sign requirement in Kentucky schools. Go look. I mean, I’m assuming it’ll never wind up in a Kentucky school but STILL. It’s super clever.

400 Jewish protestors gathered outside a Rhode Island detention center, with 30 forming a human barricade in front of the entrance, so a guy decided that Charlottesville was a model for dealing with the libs, and drove a truck into the crowd.

Don’t panic: Trump’s tariffs won’t apply to Bibles. Whew!

Atlas Obscura takes us to the Museum of Prophecies in Iceland, staffed by fortune-tellers, and dedicated to telling the story of 10th-century prophetess Þórdís, which is pronounced sort of like “THOR-deese,” and the Google Street View of the building looks like it’s near Avengers HQ. Think on that.

Quote of the Day

At The Outline, Bailey Pickens uses Marianne Williamson’s “kooky” spirituality to frame how we ought to talk about public figures’ beliefs:

It is not, of course, incumbent upon or appropriate for the American news media to dissect a given person’s religious beliefs in order to determine their fitness for office. Arguably, individuals don’t need to do that either. Antivax sentiment can be disqualifying without context. But the broad refusal to acknowledge that beliefs have consequences, or even that connections between beliefs, and between beliefs and actions, can be made to the greater intelligibility of a subject impoverishes our ability to speak clearly about the world. In our present political moment, it has not only hampered coverage of obviously religious public figures and events (intense right-wing support for Israel, for instance, is connected to ideas of “regional stability,” distrust of Arabs broadly, and a particular definition of “democracy,” but it is predicated on the necessity of the Jewish Nation of Israel to trigger the events of Armageddon; you decide which is a better way to understand the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital) … [A] political media conditioned to read everything in terms of polling or optics or idiosyncracy will of course sputter and flail when met with anything approaching real conviction.

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.