Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

An All-Inclusive Church

January 17, 2017

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.”  So I was delighted when the BBC read this the other night.  It is posted on the Hereford Diocese Inclusive Church, England, among others.

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, confused, filthy rich, comfortable, or dirt poor. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rake or could afford to lose a few pounds. You’re welcome if you are Old Leigh, New Leigh, Not Leigh, or just passing by.

We welcome you if you can sing like Pavarotti or can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing,’ just woke up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury, or haven’t been in church since little Jack’s christening.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome keep-fit mums, football dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like ‘organised religion.’ We’ve been there too!

If you blew all your money on the horses, you’re welcome here. We offer a welcome to those who think the earth is flat, ‘work too hard,’ don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost on the London Road and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts… and you!

Seen Today

bobcatI was in my bedroom (second floor, with a view of the relatively animal-less hillside beyond), and was so excited to see a bobcat ambling down said hillside.  I grabbed my camera, but there is a dreadful block wall behind, so all I got her his/her ears and back.  To think that I had them lounging on my back patios at the last house.  (Google bobcat notesfromthewest, and set it to Images and you’ll see a lot of the shots of bobcats I’ve taken over the past five or so years, with other miscellaneous photos from those same blogs.)

Reading

obama-booksCan’t remember if it was on NPR or in the NY Times, but it was mentioned that President Obama read books late into the night.  (Photo of President Obama reading “Where the Wild Things Are” to children at the White House in 2014. Doug Mills/The New York Times.) This wasn’t the article, but it mentions three books that I have read1:

And most every night in the White House, he would read for an hour or so late at night — reading that was deep and ecumenical, ranging from contemporary literary fiction (the last novel he read was Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad) to classic novels to groundbreaking works of nonfiction like Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction2.

I am just finishing Our Kind of Traitor, by John Le Carre, which President Obama mentioned in the interview that I heard, along with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz, which I also “read” (listened to the audiobook version, narrated by musical maestro Lin-Manuel Miranda), although it was very strange (magical realism).  Maybe I’ll try to read more books on his list.

Then I saw this: Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon nominated for book critics award.3  I just picked up Chabon’s Moonglow from the library.  Enjoyed his The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.  And Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto.  I think we’ve all read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Ann Patchett, Michael Chabon and Zadie Smith are among the nominees for the National Book Critics Circle awards in the US…

Margaret Atwood, the Canadian author of novels including The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye, will receive a lifetime achievement prize…  The winners will be announced on 16 March.

Patchett’s Commonwealth, Chabon’s Moonglow and Smith’s Swing Time were all fiction finalists, along with Erdrich’s LaRose and Adam Haslett’s Imagine Me Gone.

So there’s more to add to my request list at the library.

Monsanto Continued

A friend emailed me this question: If they are growing genetically modified corn in green house, it should not need pesticides.  Are you concerned about fertilizer?

I answered: Watch The World According to Monsanto on youtube.  It’s way long and boring but skip to the section on corn in Mexico, 1:25:20; it’s an eye-opener.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6_DbVdVo-k

1https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/books/obamas-secret-to-surviving-the-white-house-years-books.html?_r=0
2https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jan/17/michael-chabon-zadie-smith-nominated-book-critics-award-margaret-atwood-national-book-critics-circle-
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/connect-the-dots/

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Who to Help and Who to Kill

December 31, 2016

Volunteering

Because we adjuncts are so poorly paid at Pima College, I have pretended that I’m getting twice the pay half of the time, and the other half of the time I’m volunteering.  But I continue, even though I meant to completely retire. When the head of the department, at the end of the semester, said that one of the instructors for the Writing Fundamentals class had bowed out, and asked if I would teach another class, I said yes.

senior-transI’ve also decided that I need to help more than my students.  (Did connect on of my students last semester to Helping Hands for Single Moms, which provides scholarships and services for single mom college student families.)  Shall be going through orientation for ICS (Interfaith Community Services) – Helping Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Stay Safe and Independent, as a Senior Services Driver – providing transportation to doctor’s appointments, the pharmacy, the grocery store, etc.1

I know that it’s more than the transportation, but the companionship. When I had done Christmas at Primavera1, which has a temporary shelter for the homeless south of town, (with my mother and possibly my children – it was years ago), we were asked not only to bring food,  but to sit and listen to their individual stories.

Sure, this is through a church group, and most of you know that I don’t go to church, as I can plainly see that if there is a god, he or she doesn’t micromanage, or we wouldn’t have such horrible natural disasters, wars, diseases, and overpopulation, so prayer does nothing.  But if churches, synagogues, mosques want to help others, I’m all for that.

Charity

I believe that I got ripped off.  A few months ago a couple of young people at a table outside Lee Lee International Supermarket were asking for contributions to ChildFund International Guardian Angels.  The brochures were glossy and the pitch sounded legit.  But they said that I had to sign up for at least $30/ month to sponsor a child.  They took my email address to send the receipt, and since then I have gotten at least two junk emails a day for EnhanceMind IQ <EnhanceMind@nd1.kndrako.site>, Military Flashlight <Military@nd1.kndrako.site>, Choice Home Warranty <Choice@clouacierl.xyz>, and so on.  It took me a while of tossing them into the Junk Email folder to realize that I should Block them.  (Done.)  But after three months I tryied to cancel the money being taken out automatically on my credit card by ChildFund, and hadn’t gotten an answer since my email on December 18, nor a returned call from a message I left (with an actual person) on December 22.  Finally, a chirpy woman called on December 27 to say that yes, they’d cancel but wouldn’t I like to give only $10 a month.  Apparently that had always been a choice, but it was not given to me.  I declined.  Here is a lawyer’s take on the charity:

childfund
The ‘Kids Wish Network’… has doled out less than three cents for every dollar contributed over the last ten years. $110 million donated by people thinking they were helping sick kids has gone into their own pockets. Another $4.8 million has gone to the founder and his consulting firms. It’s rather shameless that on their own website they claim 100% of donations to “Kids Wish Network’s Guardian Angel Fund will go directly to supporting our kids through our services and programs.” I sense some lawyerly dissemination there. Do they mean the donations go directly to the kids, or that they go to their companies which operate the charity and ‘support’ kids? That second interpretation is MUCH different from suggesting the money goes straight to the kids and I suspect it’s what is actually going on.

The strange thing is that apparently watchdog groups think a legitimate charity should spend about 35% of donations on direct aid. If you’re good enough to really pick a great name, throw together a great website with a link for donations, and then get some great pictures of sick or hungry kids (remember Sally Struthers and the Child Fund?) you can operate a legal money-making machine on a grand scale. If you keep your overhead low you should have no problems tossing a few dollars here and there to real charitable causes to get close to the 35% guideline and stay off the bad list. I mean, hey – if you bring in $200,000 this year you can spare $50,000 if it goes to a soup kitchen or something. Of course running one of these fake charities really depends on your ability to stomach all that ripping off of well-meaning people who think they are trying to help some dying three-year old kid in Africa. But if you can do that then you are in business.3

Who to Kill

Interesting article: Self-driving cars are already deciding who to kill.4  I thought I had already written about the trolley problem, an ethical conundrum, but I can’t find it in any old blog.  This from Wikipedia:

trolley_problemThe general form of the problem is this: There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the most ethical choice?

So the programmers of the Autonomous Vehicles have to decide who to kill:

The most well-known issues in AV ethics are trolley problems — moral questions dating back to the era of trolleys that ask whose lives should be sacrificed in an unavoidable crash. For instance, if a person falls onto the road in front of a fast-moving AV, and the car can either swerve into a traffic barrier, potentially killing the passenger, or go straight, potentially killing the pedestrian, what should it do?4

“Poetry”

NPR discussed Ring Lardner this morning.  He wrote poems about when each of the boys were born. His wife insisted they name Ring Jr. after himself, so he writes,5

When you are christened Ringworm, by humorists and wits
When people pun about you, till they drive you into fits
When funny folks say ‘Ring, ring off!’ until they make you ill
Remember that your poor old dad tried hard to name you Bill.

1https://www.icstucson.org/
2http://www.primavera.org/index_flash.html
3https://lawyerrant.wordpress.com/favorite-scams/fake-charity-scam/
4http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/technologyinvesting/self-driving-cars-are-already-deciding-who-to-kill/ar-BBxI6mq?li=BBnbfcL&ocid=mailsignout
5http://www.npr.org/2016/12/31/507595363/lost-journalism-revisits-the-golden-age-of-ring-lardner

The Rainbow Connection

June 27, 2015

white-house-rainbow

Can you hear Kermit singing this? www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSFLZ-MzIhM

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
So we’ve been told, and some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong, wait and see
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me…

Then there’s this news satire from The Onion:
http://www.theonion.com/article/scalia-thomas-roberts-alito-suddenly-realize-they–32972

Sorry, but I must refer to the Bible, which “Christians” use as an excuse to be against gays.  There was to be a gang rape of a couple of angels, but Lot asks that they take his virgin daughters instead.  How does that sit with you?  What does gang rape have to do with marriage equality?  Why does Lot think so little of his daughters that he’d throw them to the wolves?  (Genesis 19)

Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed

The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

Oops – one more  (Leviticus 18-19):

Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.  Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her…  Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman…

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner…

Check out the context: anyone using the rhythm method of birth control, which may be a lot of Catholics, have disobeyed God, 50% of men (according to Kinsey) have ignored God, including some well-respected presidents – Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, and all agribusinesses, as well.  But hey, that’s a moot point as of yesterday. However, I did try to find what the Bible said about marriage between one man and one woman.1 This was the only line that was specific (1 Corinthians 7):

But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.

On the other hand (2 Kings 11):

King Solomon… had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines…

I may be an agnostic now, but I was in church every Sunday of my childhood. I got to know my Bible pretty well. I noticed, as Shakespeare said, The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. (It must be the heat that’s making me contankerous…)

1http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/marriage-bible-verses/ 

South Carolina

June 26, 2015

confederate-flagDiscussion continues to rage around Nikki Haley and the removal of the confederate flag from South Carolina’s State House grounds. Nicholas Kristof wrote an opinion about it day before yesterday in the New York Times: Tearing Down the Confederate Flag Is Just a Start.1  Yes, it is definitely only a start.

This controversy has come up because of  Dylann Roof’s slaughter of nine people in SC.  But… Sixteen hours after killing nine people inside a Charleston, South Carolina, church, 21-year-old Dylann Roof was treated to a free meal from Burger King by the Shelby, North Carolina, police officers who arrested him.   Now imagine this: a black guy goes into a white church and guns down nine white people.  When the police catch him they take him to Burger King for a free meal.  As if.  (Although it would make a great SNL Burger King ad.)

In Maryland, Freddie Gray (who did not kill nine people) was arrested for what the police alleged was an illegal switchblade, fell into a coma in the police van, and died of spinal injuries.  In New York, Eric Garner (who did not kill nine people) was being arrested on suspicion of selling single cigarettes (single cigarettes!!!), was put in a choke hold and died.  In South Carolina, Walter Scott (who did not kill nine people) was shot eight times (!!!) in the back when he ran away after a traffic stop.  In Ohio, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy (who did not kill nine people) was fatally shot by a police officer over a toy gun.  Guess the race of Dylann Roof, of Freddie Gray, of Eric Garner, of Walter Scott, of Tamir Rice.  Something is wrong with this picture (and it’s not just in SC).

charleston

Sure, the US of A has made a few advances.  Everyone loves Oprah.  Obama was elected twice as the most important leader on our planet.  MLK has his own holiday.  Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela (and our Prez) were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Then there are all of the sports stars, authors (how many of Toni Morrison’s have you read?), movie stars – Morgan Freeman even played God!

stromOn the other hand, Shrom Thurmond, who had been a (white) South Carolina senator, had fathered a child with a 16-year-old black maid  – how Old South.  So a statue of him stands on the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol as well as one in the town square of Edgefield, South Carolina (where a high school was also named after him).  President Bush Gave him a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Buildings are named after him at the University of South Carolina, Charleston Southern University, and Winthrop University; these universities are in South Carolina, of course, and nobody there cares if a white guy who said,

I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/54/Strom_Thurmond_1948_Speech_Clip.ogg

had sex with a black teenager, who then had a child. (Hit that clip to hear him.) It wasn’t until six months after Thurmond’s death (at the age of 100), that Essie Mae Washington-Williams publicly revealed that she was his daughter.  BTW – he started that affair with Carrie Butler in 1924, when miscegenation was a felony.  (No big deal for a white guy, but Emmett Till, a 14-tear-old black kid, was mutilated and murdered for just whistling at a white woman in 1941 in Mississippi.)

In 1967, 17 Southern states (all the former slave states plus Oklahoma) still enforced laws prohibiting marriage between whites and non-whites. After the ruling of the Supreme Court, the remaining laws were no longer in effect. Nonetheless, it took South Carolina until 1998… to officially amend state constitutions to remove language prohibiting miscegenation.

For a few years I lived in Greenville, South Carolina, one of the Ten Least Segregated Metropolitan Areas in 20102 (as well as Tucson). Greenville’s index of 43.6 means that it is moderately segregated, that about four out of 10 black residents would need to move to another Greenville neighborhood to be distributed throughout the metro area in the same way as whites.

But the center of most everyone’s life there was The Church (and this was not just Sunday, but almost every day of the week, with activities for the kids, prayer sessions, bible study classes, and so on), and I’ll bet all 33 of them were segregated.  In spite of the fact that the Southern Baptists, who …didn’t formally apologize for its stand on slavery until 1995, think that it’s a good idea to integrate.  “Right now, 11 a.m. on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America.”3

corridorWhen I was there, got to know about the 2007 documentary, Corridor of Shame: the neglect of South Carolina’s rural schools, an hour documentary that tells the story of the challenges faced in funding an adequate education in South Carolina’s rural school districts.4  If you don’t watch the entire film, at least watch this 9-minute segment:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjY69hO0fxk.  Then read this article from February’s (2015) Charleston Chronicle, SC Legislators Continue To Deny Court-Ordered Education In “Corridor Of Shame”:

The South Carolina State Legislature’s efforts to appeal a state Supreme Court ruling mandating it provides the resources to rural schools in the state’s worst school districts indicate the general assembly will continue to do nothing to insure students in the predominantly Black schools of the “Corridor of Shame” receive a quality education…
The lawsuit to force the legislature to provide basic education to the schools was brought in 19935

…Parents and other community leaders responded to school desegregation by creating private schools that could discriminate in accepting applications to attend.  Prior to 1956, South Carolina had only 16 private schools.  Between 1963 and 1975, almost 200 new private schools were created in the state.  In some of the more rural, majority-African American counties in South Carolina, these schools enrolled over 90% of the white children in the public school system.  Named “segregation academies,” these private schools continued segregation in education throughout South Carolina.  In Clarendon County today, Summerton High School has an enrollment of 95% African American students, while the whites attend Clarendon Hall.  Clarendon Hall only began accepting African American students in 2000.6

…The federal government forced South Carolina to dismantle its dual school system, where certain schools were predominately black or white, by the beginning of the 1970-1971 school year. Greenville and Darlington counties, under specific court cases, had to  integrate their schools by the end of the 1969-1970 school system. This order led to protests and violence in Lamar, where a group of almost 200 white adults attacked and overturned a school bus full of black children. Over three thousand of Darlington County’s white students had boycotted school for weeks before the mob attack.7

Back then there were 200 private schools, today there are 449 private schools in South Carolina.  Minority enrollment is 14% [9,298 minority kids, 57,113 white kids].  78% of South Carolina private schools are religiously affiliated.8  I did a spot check on some of the religious schools – one was 100% black, but two others were actually integrated by color (33% minority for a Catholic school, 13% for a Christian), if segregated by religion.  Plus poor people cannot afford private schools, so the well-to-do can send their kids to private school and vote down money for the Corridor of Shame schools.  It’s also of interest that back when the schools were forcibly integrated, hardly any white kids got bussed, and many (substandard) black schools were closed.

Now I want to apologize to my friend L, who befriended me when I joined the Greenville chapter of the AAUW (American Association of University Women) for dissing her state.  She is a marvelous person, as well as all of the women who I got to know in the AAUW book club (of which there was one black member).  We read many books that did not shed a good light upon the history of the south, such as Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo, one of the nine black students to integrate Little Rock Central High in 1957.  I would highly recommend it, even if you end up in tears.  She…

…had acid thrown into her eyes and also recalled in her book… an incident in which a group of white girls trapped her in a stall in the girls’ washroom and attempted to burn her by dropping pieces of flaming paper on her from above.

See photo from the Little Rock integration below.  Think we read The Help too.  I just wish that all of South Carolina were as tolerant as those AAUW women.  But I was only there for a few years, and unfortunately I met too many people who give Southerners a bad name.

Little_Rock_integration_protest-P

1http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/25/opinion/tearing-down-the-confederate-flag-is-just-a-start.html?_r=0
2http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2011/us-residential-segregation.aspx
3http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/27/southern-baptist-integrated-churches_n_6550538.html
4http://www.corridorofshame.com/
5http://www.charlestonchronicle.net/92755/2152/sc-legislators-continue-to-deny-courtordered-education-in-corridor-of-shame
6 In 2004, …95.5 percent of Summerton’s 1,230 public school students are black, mirroring the levels of minority concentrations seen in a growing number of schools nationwide. At Clarendon Hall, all but about 20 of its 275 students are white, reflecting the racial isolation experienced by most of America’s white students.  http://people.hofstra.edu/alan_j_singer/202%20ISI%20Course%20pack/BX.ND.%20Brown.pdf
7http://www.scequalizationschools.org/after-equalization.html
8http://www.privateschoolreview.com/south-carolina

God

January 28, 2015

I know, it’s an age old phrase that many people use – “You shouldn’t talk about religion or politics.”   Oh well.

This from Sunday’s NY Times:

[Pope Francis] was on the papal plane, en route from the Philippines back to Italy, and he was reflecting on the relationship between third-world poverty and extra-large families. He told reporters that Catholics needn’t feel compelled to breed “like rabbits,” a zoological simile that’s sure to have legs.1

OMG!  (A bad expression for me, as I have no god.)  But imagine if the pope figures out that families would do better with only two children.  Maybe he could start handing out condoms to the poorest of the poor?  Zero Population Growth2 would help solve most of the world’s problems.  (See my note towards the bottom of my blog, October Evening3.)

God and Me

… But what is he

Who fills the world with trees and stars
And leaves us alone
With our wars and atrocities
Our deadly human nature
Our sad dominion over the fish and the fowl

Look
No one knows why
There is so much silence in the upper spheres
And so much suffering down here

The Almighty skipped over our houses4

— Edward Hirsch

Seen today

OK, a lighter topic.  In my neighborhood – a woman driving a golf cart as she walked her dog.  At the college – a guy with short hair except a long swirl of orange sherbet hiding half of his face.

Life in the Universe

In January/ February of each year the University of Arizona’s College of Science offers free evening lectures once a week at Centennial Hall.  (Of course, because they’re free, the audience is mostly retired people, which means that if you get there half an hour early, you won’t find a seat.  We ended up sitting behind the camera, leaning way over in each direction to see the stage.  Oh, and talking about the camera, these lectures are recorded.5)

I had previously attended Living Beyond 1006 and Genomics Now7.  (These lectures from previous years can be seen on http://cos.arizona.edu/podcasts or chose a lecture from a previous year here and watch it on youtube: http://cos.arizona.edu/connections/ua-science-lecture-series.)  This year’s series concerns Life in the Universe8, and the first lecture on Monday night was What is Life? presented by a Jesuit Brother, Guy J. Consolmagno (BA and MA from MIT, PhD from U of A, postdoc at Harvard and MIT, and served in the Peace Corps in Kenya before he took vows as a brother, now Planetary Scientist, Vatican Observatory Research Group), who was a fantastic speaker!  He even got Stephen Colbert cracking up on the Cobert Report9.  Marvelous sense of humor.  Our hour listening to him went all too fast.  (But the conclusion was that there is little agreement among scientists on What is Life?)

Riffing on Cobert’s comments (watch that video), I had read The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber10 back in December.  Plot: a preacher goes to another planet in another galaxy to convert the natives, along with a group of people going there to colonize and mine the planet, leaving his wife back on a collapsing earth.  Not your typical scifi, but I was rather captivated.  (Note: you have to employ suspension of disbelief as Peter has to be put into a state of suspended animation to travel the vast distance to the planet, but emails to and from him and his wife go through almost immediately.)

1http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/25/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-pope-francis-birth-control-and-american-catholics.html
2http://www.populationconnection.org/site/PageServer (ZPG is now Population Connection.)
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/october-evening/
4http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/27/miquel-barcelo-edward-hirsch-picture-poem/?_r=0
52015 – Each lecture will air on television after a one-week delay on Mondays, beginning February 2 at 8PM. The broadcast will repeat: Tuesdays at 2AM, Fridays at 1PM, Sundays at 1PM and again on Mondays at 12AM and 2PM.
Comcast Subscribers: Channel 76  Cox Subscribers: Channel 116
6https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/100/
7https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/genomics-now/
8http://cos.arizona.edu/connections/life-in-the-universe
9http://www.frequency.com/video/colbert-report-gold-frankincense-mars/69752258
10http://www.amazon.com/The-Book-Strange-New-Things/dp/055341884X

Your tax dollars support polygamy!

August 24, 2012

After my blog1 my cousin told me to read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.  While The 19th Wife mixed facts about the Mormons in with the novel, Under the Banner of Heaven is non-fiction.  It starts with a few well-publicized Mormon crimes.

I thought that the one regarding Tom Green, who had 10 wives (the youngest 29 years younger than himself) and 32 children, and who was convicted of 4 counts of bigamy (only 4 because 5 of his wives had left him), one charge of criminal non-support of his family, and one charge of first degree felony child rape (his last wife was 13 when he took her down to Mexico and “married” her), and who received 5 years in prison and a fine of $78,868, was of particular interest.  (The latest photo of Tom and his five wives2 here.)

Of interest to me not because of the polygamy, which it seems is not only in the northwest corner of Arizona, but because of the criminal non-support of his family.  A friend had said that she didn’t care how many wives Mormons had (these are not the Romney LDS, but the FLDS – Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), because they took care of themselves.  I thought so too before I read The 19th Wife, the year’s provisions under the bed, and so on.  NOT TRUE!  From Under the Banner of Heaven:

…between 1989 and 1999, Tom Green and his dependents received more than $647,000 in state and federal assistance, including $203,000 in food stamps and nearly $300,000 in medical and dental expenses.  …as far back as 1985, when Green began his polygamous lifestyle …[he] received well over $1 million in welfare.

Jon Krakauer writes that, “Fundamentalists call defrauding the government ‘bleeding the beast’ and regard it as a virtuous act.” Lots of interesting articles on the Web.  Click here: LDS.

Another article  from the internet regarding Warren Jeffs, a Utah polygamist, sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison as picture emerged of 50 brides, bred to worship the polygamous ‘prophet’.3 (Utah County has the highest birth rate in the US, higher than the birth rate in Bangladesh!)

In 1998 Hildale Utah’s polygamist community’s average tax payment per filers was $651 (annual).  The average income tax RETURN was $14,500 (the highest exemptions in the state.) Hildale, where having 15 wives on welfare is considered “normal” and 61% of the families live in poverty.  Hildale, where $405,006 in federal housing grants was paid, for houses (which remained unfinished because taxes on them start when they are finished) whose titles were held by polygamist leaders. Separated by one street, Colorado City received $1.8 million from the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development, $94,000 for its fire station and a government financed airport at $2.8 million, where FLDS leader Rulon Jeffs (Warren’s father) landed his chartered Lear jet when he arrived for Sunday meetings. Rulon Jeffs owned a 4-acre estate in one of the best areas in Utah.

During one month in 1997, 35 households in Hildale received $22,375 for 393 people. Hildale shows a household of 35 receiving food stamps and government aid. Colorado City is filled with unwed mothers without visible means of support, but that in itself creates money. The more children, the bigger the welfare checks. Colorado City and Hildale were on a list of ten top towns with a population growth of over 2000 in the Intermountain West for reliance on Medicaid.  33% of Hildale and Colorado City were using food stamps in 1998. Arizona’s average was 6.7%.4

And one sparked by the raid on Warren Jeffs’ compound in Texas:

Who Foots Bill For Polygamist Communities?
The raid on the polygamist compound in Eldorado, Texas has not only focused public attention on such sects, it’s sparked many questions about them.
One such query: Who pays their bills?
A significant part of the answer, according to Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman is — taxpayers, in the form of welfare.
Kauffman and Laurie Allen, who escaped from polygamy, drove around one such community, in Colorado City, Ariz., and saw many mammoth homes built to accommodate multiple wives and children.
How the man of the house can afford to build such super-sized dwellings! The answer: He can’t. He doesn’t pay for them, you do.
As Allen explained to Kauffman, “What happens is a man marries one wife, she’s his legal wife, then he marries ten other wives in the church, and all the other wives are, by law, single women, so they have all these children with him, and they all get welfare.”
The more kids, the bigger the welfare check, Kauffman points out.
Some of the women in this town have 26 babies,” Allen told her.5

But let’s leave the Mormon crimes, and go into the Mormon history.   I thought that it was interesting how Joseph Smith translated the golden plates he dug up (which the Angel Moroni conveniently took back):

Smith dictated a translation [from their original “reformed Egyptian” language] using a seer stone in the bottom of a hat, which he placed over his face to view the words written within the stone.   Smith published the translation in 1830 as the Book of Mormon.6

This great drawing and description from: restoration

I’m only a quarter through the book so far, but am amazed at the religion.  I guess that if you can believe that Jesus walked on water and changed water into wine (although the teetotalling Southern Baptists will tell you that it was just grape juice) and raised the dead (but why an old guy – why not a young kid who had died?), or believe that suicide bombers will get 72 virgins in their afterlife, you can believe that Jo Smith translated a book of reformed Egyptian text by gazing at a rock in a hat.

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/nineteen-wives/
2http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/subjects/p/polygamy/index.html
3http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2024150/Warren-Jeffs-trial-Paedophile-gets-life-sentence-50-brides-photo-emerges.html
4http://www.rebeccakimbel.com/polygamytaxdollars.html
5http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500202_162-4005519.html
6http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_plates