(1) ROWLING STEPS IN IT AGAIN. Yahoo! Entertainment reports that “Cries of racism erupt over the casting of Nagini in latest ‘Fantastic Beasts’ installment”.
The final trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald contained a jaw-dropping character reveal that has some Harry Potter fans fuming. As it turns out, one of the prequel franchise’s “new” characters, played by Claudia Kim, is actually a familiar villain from the original series: Voldemort’s evil snake companion Nagini. Author and screenwriter J.K. Rowling tweeted that she’d been sitting on this secret “for around 20 years.” But social media skeptics say that Nagini’s shocking past as a Korean woman seems highly implausible and possibly racist.
Here is the trailer:
Rowling’s tweet in response to a critic —
The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini.’ They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi. Have a lovely day ?
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 26, 2018
Fans have pointed out many troubling implications. Here is one of the less-sexualized examples —
It's kind of weird realising that Neville Longbottom decapitated a person…#HarryPotter #Nagini pic.twitter.com/ceWeYxalQS
— nimerouno ennis (@corevanadium) September 26, 2018
(2) SPINRAD ASKED FOR HIS VIEWS ABOUT ISLAM. Rachid Ouadah of motionXmedia interviewed the author of Osama the Gun — “Norman Spinrad: ‘There is a difference between the religion of islam by itself and middle-eastern politics’”. (Spinrad sent the link.)
Considering that the whole world is in crisis – we would not have had Trump if the world was in a good shape – would it be correct to say that terrorism is an expression of the crisis in the islamic world ? I didn’t say “arabic” because they are such a small part of muslims compared to Indonesians.
Indonesia is very complicated situation so I won’t go into that. (…) Islam and democracy are deeply against each other ideologically. Democracy says that legitimacy of a government arises from the consent of the people as expressed in a vote. Traditional islam says legitimacy of a government arises from the Quran, that human beings have no right to change these rules because it’s the word of Allah. And you can have a country that’s a democracy with a majority of muslims but you can’t have an islamic republic. Iran is not a real republic. It’s a phoney republic. The ultimate word is the word of Khamenei. And not of the president, not of anybody who that’s been elected. It’s not that it is a dictatorship. The ideology of what’s a legitimate government is completely different between an islamic government and a democratic government. So their take on what’s a democracy is it’s evil because it says that the decisions of humans can overrule the word of Allah. On the other side, democracy says [islam] is evil because it doesn’t allow people to decide. There is no middle ground between a theocratic muslim state and an electoral democracy. And that’s the core of the whole thing.
(3) TWO TO GEAR UP. SYFY Wire has artwork from the latest genre crossover: “IDW’s Star Trek vs Transformers #1: Beam up and roll out with artist Philip Murphy”.
Geek galaxies collide in a cosmic crossover for the ages in IDW’s new Star Trek vs. Transformers series, and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive chat with artist Philip Murphy and a first peek inside the pages of this perfect pairing of beloved sci-fi properties.
(4) EIGHT GREAT TOMATOES…ARE NOT ENOUGH. Hector Gonzalez’ saga of cooking for MexicanX Initiative participants at Worldcon 76 continues: “My Road to Worldcon 76. Part 5: Best Laid Plans…”
…The plan was set to bring the items to the main kitchen, get the mushrooms carnitas started, then work on the salsas. The pork will cook overnight and things will be ready in the morning. All seemed perfect. However, Mexican Pollyanna counted her chickens too soon. When we got to Doc Doyle’s home I discovered the besides missing some of the pork I needed for the carnitas, they had shopped dramatically wrong on different things I required, namely tomatoes, tomatillos, and onions. I asked for 8 lbs of tomatoes and only bought EIGHT TOMATOES. This meant another trip to the store, which bothered me. The least time I had at the kitchen, the longer this would take. It was already 2:30PM….
(5) IMAGINATIVE MERGER THEORIES. With Disney and Fox joining up, there’s money to be made! Yahoo! Entertainment heard one fan’s idea for how to do it — “This Marvel Fan Theory Explains How X-Men and the Fantastic Four Will Be Introduced Through ‘Avengers 4′”.
As we know, Avengers 4 will likely require some tricky inter-dimensional manipulation and time travel to undo Thanos’ big snap that killed half the universe. As we also know, back in the real world, Disney and 21st Century Fox are completing a merger, which gives the Marvel Cinematic Universe access to properties that were formerly owned by a separate company, such as X-Men and Fantastic 4. And, as Disney CEO Bob Iger said earlier this year, the company plans to “expand iconic movie franchises like Avatar, Marvel’s X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Deadpool, Planet of the Apes, Kingsman, and many others.”
So, the gears are all in motion for this great meeting of the Marvel characters to happen as soon as Avengers 4. One interesting fan theory on Reddit explains how the reversal of Thanos’ snap could cause the introduction of both The Fantastic 4 and Mutants. If the snap can bring Captain Marvel back to Earth to help, certainly it could bring the Fantastic 4 back as well.
(6) VADER NEEDS YOU. SlashGear fills fans in on a new video game — “Star Wars: Vader Immortal trailer and release info revealed”.
This game will have the user – you – dropped out of hyperspace near the planet Mustafar. That’s the largely volcanic planet where Anakin Skywalker fought Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Vader was effectively born. There, Vader’s palace can be found. This is the palace we first saw in film form in the movie Star Wars: Rogue One.
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
The carpet in the house of Sid, the villain of the first “Toy Story” film, is the same pattern as the hotel carpet in “The Shining.” The character of Sid was also partially based on a former employee at Pixar studios. — Source: The Daily Dot
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- September 26, 2001 — Star Trek: Enterprise premiered on this day.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
- Born September 26, 1946 – Togo Igawa, 72, Actor and Producer. A Japanese actor who became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, his genre credits include a small role in The Last Jedi and playing the voice of Hiro the Wise Engine in many Thomas the Tank Engine TV episodes and movies.
- Born September 26, 1948 – Olivia Newton-John, 70, Actor, Singer, Composer, and Producer from Australia who starred in the fantasy musical Xanadu as a muse sent to help struggling artists achieve their dreams.
- Born September 26, 1956 – Linda Hamilton, 62, Actor, best known for playing Sarah Connor in the first two Terminator movies, and her lead role in the TV series Beauty and the Beast. She’ll be reprising her role in a Terminator reboot movie expected out next year.
- Born September 26, 1957 – Tanya Huff, 61, Writer. Canadian author of several fantasy series, all superb, including the Valor Confederation, Enchantment Emporium and Keeper Chronicles. Her Blood Books series, which pairs a Detective removed from the Force for failing eyesight with a vampire, was adapted as a series by CBC Television. She lives in rural Ontario with her partner, six cats, and an “unintentional chihuahua”.
- Born September 26, 1963 – Lysette Anthony, 55, Actor and Producer from England, known for genre roles in the movie Dracula: Dead and Loving It, the remake of the Dark Shadows TV series, and the classic epic sci-fantasy movie Krull (LALALALA ICantHearYou SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP).
- Born September 26, 1968 – Jim Caviezel, 50, Actor and Producer. Genre roles include the movie Frequency, the TV miniseries remake of The Prisoner, and 5 seasons in a lead role on Person of Interest.
I’m just going to leave this bit of craptastic birthday nostalgia here for your enjoyment:
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Superheroes helping each other out at The Argyle Sweater.
- This is just the way I felt about the surveys we had to fill out at work — Bizarro.
(11) OH THE HUMANITY. Metro has coverage of the latest cultural crisis: “Library really needs people to stop sticking googly eyes on book covers”.
Library staff are pleading with people to stop attaching ‘googly eyes’ to book covers because the result will ‘haunt nightmares for all eternity’. Visitors to Alexandria-Monroe Public Library in Indiana, US, have apparently damaged a number of books by sticking the eyes to their covers. Bosses shared a picture of the library’s copy of The Turn of the Shrew to its Facebook page this week, on which a pair of ‘grotesque and haunting’ eyes were placed.
The Alexandria-Monroe Public Library in Indiana says: "We’d like to remind patrons to not attach googly eyes to books. It can cause damage to the cover and in this case haunt our nightmares for all eternity. Thank you." pic.twitter.com/7B7wXolm8f
— ?? Tara Lazar (@taralazar) September 23, 2018
(12) PHONE HOME. JPL posted the Mars orbiter’s new photo of rover Opportunity. TechCrunch explicates: “Mars orbiter spots silent, dust-covered Opportunity rover as dust storm clears”.
The last we heard from the rover was on June 10, at which point the storm was getting so intense that Opportunity couldn’t charge its batteries any more and lowered itself into a hibernation state, warmed only by its plutonium-powered heaters — if they’re even working.
Once a day, Opportunity’s deeply embedded safety circuit checks if there’s any power in its battery or coming in via solar.
“Now that the sun is shining through the dust, it will start to charge its batteries,” explained Jim Watzin, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA. And so some time in the coming weeks it will have sufficient power to wake up and place a call back to Earth. But we don’t know when that call will come.”
That’s the hope, anyway. There is of course the possibility that the dust has obscured the solar cells too thickly, or some power fault during the storm led to the safety circuit not working… there’s no shortage of what-if scenarios.
(13) POPPING UP EVERYWHERE. BBC asks: “Are themed bars and pubs the future?” Half of the opening video covers a Potterverse bar in London, where Internet-of-Things wands manipulate toys and hooch; it’s doing well enough that a second one is opening. Chip Hitchcock also admires “The Bletchley”, which “Sounds to me like a great cutoff – ‘You’re not sober enough to have another if you can’t solve this puzzle.’”
…Many themed cocktail bars and pubs were originally pop-ups, such as The Cauldron and ABQ London.
Over the past decade, pop-ups have been increasingly used by new businesses to test out ideas, says Lucy Shaw, editor of alcohol trade magazine Drinks Business.
Pop-ups are hospitality events put on for a limited amount of time. They are held in temporary locations such as a tent or an existing venue.
“It makes business sense to have a pop-up, before you plough hundreds of thousands of pounds into a business,” Ms Shaw tells the BBC. “You want a litmus test, [you want] to test the water.”
Small businesses make up over 99% of all businesses in the hospitality industry, which made up 9.3% (£161bn) of the UK economy in 2016, according to the ONS….
(14) TECH IN SERVICE. “It’s Rice Vs. Seaweed Vs. Solar ATMs For A $1 Million Prize”:
…After the presentations, it was time for the judges to confer and decide. The prestigious group included former President Bill Clinton (the Hult Prize was previously associated with the Clinton Global Initiative); Earth Day Network president Kathleen Rogers; former U.N. assistant secretary general Elizabeth Thompson and a variety of business entrepreneurs, corporate executives and leaders of nonprofit organizations.
Finally, Clinton stepped to the podium to announce the winner. As he emphasized the urgency of responding to climate change, the implication was clear: These Hult Prize innovators better get to work. And the winner was …
…SunRice, from University College, London, whose plan promises to increase rice production in Southeast Asia and raise the incomes of rice farmers. They would accomplish this through the use of energy efficient rice-drying and storage technology….
(15) 1976 TECH. “Original working Apple-I computer fetches $375,000 at auction” – article includes substantial history interview with Wozniak — video, much transcribed.
“Our experts tell us that there might be 15 in the world that work properly. You can power this thing up and behave like it’s 1976. It’s pretty fantastic.”
The Apple-I holds a place in technology history as the first computer to not require any assembly, other than to plug in a monitor and keyboard.
(16) BUMMER. It might violate a regulation! Or it might not…. NPR has the story — “Maine Asks Restaurant To Stop Giving Lobsters Cannabis Before Boiling Them”, the follow-up to a recent Pixel.
According to seafoodsource.com, Maine officials have asked — but “not commanded,” notes Gill on the restaurant’s website — the eatery to stop testing medical marijuana on the lobsters. While Gill is licensed to grow marijuana for medical use, state regulators cite a lack of legislation in this area and want to investigate whether administering cannabis to lobsters violates state regulations.
David Heidrich, spokesperson for the Maine Medical Marijuana Program, told the Portland Press Herald that “medical marijuana may only be grown for and provided to persons with a marijuana recommendation from a qualified medical provider. Lobsters are not people.”
(17) CAT ENVY. This fellow has recalibrated his life’s ambition —
I used to think I wanted to win a Hugo award like @Scalzi, but now I think I just want a cat like Smudge. #AchievableGoals #RescueCat
— Mad Scientist (@MaxSynaptic) September 24, 2018
(18) A WORD FOR OUR SPONSOR. John Hertz sent what I’d call a “state of the File” poem —
Seven Seventy Dotcom Glyer,
Migly or just Mike to thee,
Took great care of his Filers
Though no more Hugos he’d see.
Seven Seventy Dotcom Glyer
Said to his Filers, said he,
“If any of youse get some SF news,
I hope you’ll report it to me.”
(19) DEALING THE JOKER. The Hollywood Reporter has a short clip of Joaquin Phoenix both as “himself” and in full makeup (“See Joaquin Phoenix in His Joker Make-Up”). The clip morphs from the former to the latter… but don’t expect full-on SFX work. The movie, reportedly an origin film, is scheduled for an October 2019 release.
Here’s the first look of Joaquin Phoenix in makeup for his upcoming film about The Joker.
In a short screen test shared by director Todd Phillips, Phoenix is staring blankly into the camera before cracking a slight smile. The camera then flashes to Phoenix wearing clown makeup, but not the traditional Joker white face and green hair.
Aaaand cue Judy Collins…
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Norman Spinrad, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
@Lis Carey: You are correct that I made very rough estimates based on incomplete evidence, but you are wrong that you think I just skimmed that summary. It’s been a topic of discussion in my circles for several weeks now, largely because the typology is so Christian that it doesn’t measure non-Christians well.
There is no direct way to get a proportion of fundamentalists in either the general population or the religious population from their typology. But the God and Country Believers are fundies, 99.44% pure. There’s no way to argue around that. So there’s at least 12% in the population. I tacked on the Sunday Stalwarts because some of them–not all, but some–are fundies. I don’t know how many. I’d bet it’s less than half. But I also didn’t add in the Diversely Devout. Some of them are fundies, probably a lower percentage than among the Sunday Stalwarts. So I guessed and put a range on it. It’s the best I can do with what I’ve got fresh in my mental buffer.
If you’ve got a source that doesn’t require me to torture the data to get it to speak, i’d be thrilled to read it. But those numbers are plausible to me.
@Mike Glyer–Yeah, I’m sure that was Mormon when I typed it…
And yes, every denomination is sure it’s The Only One That Has it Right. But mostly they just think the other ones have it wrong, not that they’re not Christians at all. That’s why most large cities have multidenominational church councils, working together on the social issues they agree on. The Catholic Church considers Mormonism a cult, but they can work together on feeding the poor, for instance.
The divisiveness exemplified by P J’s account of the Southern Baptists refusing to attend even nonreligious events at the local Baptist college is not typical of how most Christian denominations in North America regard each other.
Heck, the list of priests the Roman Catholic church considers able to perform valid sacraments is limited compared to the views of mainline Protestant churches, but it’s not limited to Roman Catholic priests. Especially with baptism and Last Rites.
@Lis – it wasn’t the Southern Baptists refusing, it was, IIRC, something like Assembly of God. One of the smaller, very very conservative sects.
@ various: While I am well aware that there are a number of denominations officially opposed to the concept of a theocracy, I also know how many times I’ve been unpleasantly surprised by people who I thought of as love-based Christians* being strongly opposed to our bumper sticker which says “Religious freedom is measured by the distance between church and state.” Not that they think they’re arguing for theocracy, mind you — they’re just convinced that a government with no Christian influence is a very bad idea. And, scarily, if pressed on the matter they will often indicate that they don’t see the right-wing calls for a “Christian America” as being significantly different from their own beliefs. They hear the words, but assume that the right-wingers mean the same thing by them that they would. These are the people who will hand us over to the theocrats, and then be very surprised indeed when they discover that said theocrats don’t consider them to be Christian.
* There are Christians who define themselves by love, and Christians who define themselves by who they love to hate. IMO that’s the deepest divide in the faith — and my position is that it’s not just the hate-based faction which would support rcade’s assertion, but a significant part of the love-based one as well.
Personally, I’m thinking of joining the Jehova’s Witnesses. They sound interesting.
@P J–Sorry, I see how I misread that earlier.
@Lee–I didn’t talk about love-based vs. hate-based, although that’s quite real, too. I talked about those who reject secular knowledge vs. those who don’t.
Your generalizations that fundamentalists might be “bad Christians” and Mormons are “weird Christians” are far stronger negative characterizations than mine. All I ventured was the idea a significant majority of Christians believe our rights and government come from God.
Why should I “accept” what other people believe about Christians over my own perceptions? It’s not like anyone here has offered facts to counter what I said. They just did the same thing I did and expressed a personal opinion informed by their experiences.
Mine have come from a lifetime living in the South.
I think you are miss-stating the premise, which is more along the lines of “We are creations of God, and as such have rights resulting from such; the Constitution recognizes those pre-existing rights and does not create them”; rather than “Our rights and Constitution come from the Bible”.
@Darren Garrison: The JWs are very interesting. They spent a long time being persecuted in America, especially during wartime. They didn’t get lynched much, but they did get beaten, jailed, and so on, all for handing out pamphlets and promoting their religion. They’re legit minor civil rights martyrs.
They also have one other characteristic unique, so far as I know, among denominations. There is an extremely strong correlation between evolution-denial and climate change-denial. Virtually every denomination believes or disbelieves in both those proportionately strongly.
There is one exception: The Jehovah’s Witnesses. They disbelieve in evolution but take climate change very seriously. They are the one point way off the line.
(The folks whose story you linked to sound like fun, but nothing to build a religion on.)
When I attended a Catholic friend’s funeral 25 years ago, I was excluded from communion because I’m not Catholic. Has that changed?
This convention schedule https://schedule.balticon.org/#prog/query:communion suggests that the “Old Catholic” priest conducting the service was open to allowing all to participate.
A lot of them claim that the bible/10 commandments is the foundation of US government and laws, and will quote the Declaration to prove it, apparently being unaware that it isn’t the Constitution.
What’s scarier is that there are elected politicians who also believe that’s true.
I hear it all the time in Florida from conservative Republican politicians. If somebody wants to argue that they are not true Christians I will not dispute that premise.
Seems to me the Declaration of Independence is quite clear: Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
But it mentions “the laws of nature and of nature’s God”, so obviously – to them.
(They’re ignorant, I think. Or they’ve been mistaught.)
@ Lis: The overlap between your breakout and mine is substantial.
Has anyone else noticed that we’re basically having the racism argument here? You know, the one where non-white people talk about how much racism they see around them and white people say, “Oh, that can’t be true, I don’t see anything like that!”
It would be really nice if the people who complain that we won’t accept what Christians tell them could in turn accept that it looks very different from where we are — even for those of us who are not members of a group that’s currently being actively targeted? Because we can definitely see our turn in the barrel coming up.
(Incidentally, Slacktivist has a very informative series about the historical and current cultural connections between white Evangelism, which started out in the Deep South but has now spread across the country, and racism.)
Errr, no. In fact, several SCOTUS decisions have affirmed that school children do NOT have to participate in that pledge if they don’t wish to (peer pressure is something else altogether). I’ve got that especially in mind this week, as some numbnuts in TX is trying hard to ignore those SCOTUS rulings. I’m confident he will soon be shut down by the ACLU.
As for interesting religions — I’ve had a soft spot for Seventh Day Adventists for years. Because of them, there’s a lot more vegetarian meat substitutes available across the country (ever heard of Loma Linda? Yeah, that’s them!), and that was especially helpful in the 80s and 90s back before veggie-ism became more popular!
I think that all the argument about exactly how many of the different Christian groups believe in the Bible as a far more important authority than any secular government (A number, Lee correctly points out, which includes many otherwise quite decent people, not just the ugliest of fundamentalist strips) muddies the real base point, which is that some Christians DO.
It also ignores that Spinrad is equally wrong; there are a quite goodly number of Muslims who have squared that circle and favour secular government for all as a country’s main mode.
And if the people arguing that more Christians do this than we think start arguing that no, really, few Muslims do, I will be sorely disappointed.
I’m aware of that, but by the time a child is old enough to understand that fact they’ve already participated in the pledge for many years.
Incidentally, the Katy school board in Texas is expelling a student for sitting during the pledge, a decision the state of Texas supports.
So while it has been unconstitutional to punish students for not taking part in the pledge since the 1943 Supreme Court decision West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, that doesn’t mean it isn’t being treated by the authorities as compelled speech anyway.
Ding! Thank you for playing. What you first said was “overwhelming”, not significant — not that I’d accept even the latter without more evidence than we have here, given the counter-evidence.
If several people (not a single mob, but a gallimaufry of fans) say something is orange and you think it’s green, you should consider getting your eyes checked.
Ding^2! A conservative part of the US, notorious for overvaluing religion; see, e.g., Roy Moore. Yes, there are extremists elsewhere; see, e.g., Dover. (I read the judge’s ruling; I suspect it would be hard to find another written decision that comes so close to calling the defendants perjurers.) But if you look at distribution maps, you’ll see you’re not in a median area.
Ding^3! False argument; nobody here is claiming that these people aren’t Christians, just that they aren’t the majority.
And just for reference: I stormed away from Christianity half a century ago; I’ve had a personal grievance against an element of it for some decades, but call myself an agnostic (except when religious people get pushy at me — then I’m a militant agnostic). I still have no tolerance for anyone demanding that specifically Christian principles (or principles that are claimed to be Christian) rule my life or the life of anyone I know, but I’ve been shown repeatedly that people sharper and wiser than I (and with less patience with fools) nonetheless profess Christianity. (Prime example: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.) Your problem is that you, like Spinrad, are trying to tar an entire group with the misbehavior of its worse members; to put it bluntly, that’s approaching similarity to the claim that all young Black males are gangbangers.
And wrt your last post — even if Kavanaugh gets in, my bet is that Texas will lose if the case gets to SCOTUS; AFAICT it’s being pushed by someone trying to bolster their political credentials.
PS to @OGH re Communion: as a baptized Episcopalian, I was still refused communion until I confirmed/was-confirmed in the faith of my own volition. Very roughly, think of it as a membership benefit. Since I wasn’t present for your case, I don’t know whether it was handled gracefully [sic]; some ~ushers are better about this than others, just as some fans are better guards than others.
Afterthought on why this sets me off: one of the worst lies being told throughout the US and right up to POTUS is that there is a “war on Christianity”. ISTM that prejudicial claims against Christianity as a whole feed this narrative, just as prejudicial claims against Islam feed Islamic fundamentalists’ claims that the US is the Great Satan; ultimately, both increase entropy/friction at a time when we need to decrease it.
@P J Evans
The phrase you later cite from the Declaration, “the laws of nature and of nature’s God”, is much more consistent with the premise as I restated it (inherent dignity and rights of man derive from being created by God), than it is with how Lis (Bible being the source of our Constitution and laws) and you (bible/10 commandments is the foundation of US government and laws) have miss-stated it.
No, Bill, that’s not what I said.
It’s how rcade framed it, and that’s what I was responding to.
“…the laws of nature and of nature’s God…” Yes, pretty widely shared view among Christians generally, and I suspect theists generally. That’s different from what rcade claimed. We need laws to be able to function in groups larger than the clan level. We have some widely shared perceptions, as a species, about what some of those laws need to be, e.g., don’t vent your frustrations with other people by killing them, or, don’t take other people’s stuff. Two very basic examples. To get from that idea of natural law to a large society that more or less functions, we need some kind of agreed structure for it–and if we thought we were bound by the forms of government offered in the Bible, that would mostly be monarchies.
Even the surviving European monarchies don’t look much like what’s in the Bible. The Constitution certainly doesn’t.
“the laws of nature and of nature’s God” was a Deist statement, not a Christian one.
Hoo-boy….where to start.
The Declaration of Independence includes:
Bolding is mine. Capitalization per the founders. A very deist expression, but still one that points toward a religious basis for individual liberty.
Part of that may be because they recall that one element of the First Amendment documents the founders’ concern for religious liberty. The state has an obligation to protect religion; particularly religious minorities. Not that the state has always done that very well, but the obligation exists nonetheless. It is hard to execute that obligation if there is not some measure of proximity between church and state.
Which might be relevant if Israel were a theocracy. But it isn’t. (not that it couldn’t become one at some point…just that it isn’t today.) The leaders are elected from the population and are not restricted to coming from religious bodies/panels. Citizens freely practice several different religions and several flavors of each religion. Israel may be many things, but a theocracy isn’t one of them.
It is quite correct to point out that there are many Arab and/or Muslim nations that fall well within the description of having a functioning representative government that respects human rights. Islam flavors how those governments execute their legitimate functions just as cultures informed by other religions will have traces/elements of their respective religions expressed in their governments.
It might also be correct to point out that there are non-Muslim theocracies in the world. Technically, Japan’s government is led by an emperor that is considered to be a diety. But the Japanese government is largely secular in function. The Athonite State of Greece is a theocracy, but I don’t see them as much of a threat to individual liberty.
Of the theocracies that eschew human rights, almost all of them are informed by restrictive interpretations of Islam. I say “almost all” as I cannot think of any nations that impose a religion on the populace that are not so informed, but you never know. Iran certainly qualifies. Afghanistan used to qualify and looks like they are sliding back in that direction. Saudi Arabia is technically a monarchy, but the monarchy imposes Islam in a manner that from “rubber meets the road” perspective should make it a theocracy in practice. They look to be moving away from imposing a strict interpretation of Islam which is good news. There are also a number of dictatorships and military juntas in Africa that similarly impose a narrow interpretation of Islam; again, perhaps not technically “theocracies”, but they aren’t missing by much.
Nations such as these justify Spinrad’s perspective. I added his book to my TBR as I think he’s aiming at something greater than “all Islam is bad”.
FWIW, I agree with a lot of what you have posted in the comments in terms of characterizing the range of Christian perspectives.
And in general, FWIW, I’m somewhere between being an outright skeptic and an agnostic. At the same time, I see where some religious training is quite useful is building a successful society and tend to not spend much time criticizing those that practice those elements of their faith. Radical terrorists like Carry Nation, on the other hand……
I don’t have issues. I have subscriptions.
Dann665: one element of the First Amendment documents the founders’ concern for religious liberty. The state has an obligation to protect religion
Not true. The first thing does not lead to the second thing.
What the state has an obligation to do is to not make laws which specify what religious beliefs its members must adhere, and to not interfere with those members’ practice of religion as long as it does not violate secular laws.
This is very distinctly different from what you just said, and I feel as though you’re trying to palm a card here.
The Declaration of Independence is a polemic, not one of the legal documents on which government is based. It was written more than 10 years before the Constitution, by a somewhat different group of people, with a different purpose.
The Constitution has no references to the bible or to god. It’s pretty clearly not interested in or explicitly based on “biblical law”.
In 1787, there were many religions already in the US. Most of the colonies had had State Religions, and those had been problems, in some cases from the colony’s foundation. It’s clear that the people writing the Constitution didn’t think that was a good idea, and were trying to prevent it from becoming a bigger problem than it already was.
(My peeps include a lot of Quakers and Seventh-Day Baptists.)
@Dann665: what Lis and PJ said, in spades. Against your citation of that non-organizational document, I put subsequent signed statements concerning the wall between church and state. As for Israel: aside from the recent declaration that they are a Jewish state, I note the extent to which religious rules have been imposed by more-recent arrivals on the more-secular founders, and particularly the fact that Shas (fundamentalists) has held the balance of power in an excessive number of recent governments. As for your remarks about Africa: I suggest you tot up those dictatorships you consider Islamic, and compare them with the number that profess Christianity — bearing in mind that there might be a few more of the latter that still mount a sham of democracy over their tyranny, or there might not.
It is kind of hard to say if Israel is an theocracy or only an ehtnocracy as the line is blurred with regards to the jewish people.
I appreciate your pointing out the African dictatorships that use a veneer of Christianity to justify their existence. You are correct on that count which is why I attempted to qualify my comments about Christian theocracies to indicate that some might well exist. They do.
IMHO, while they are a problem in need of a solution, they are not exporting their problem in a manner comparable to what is coming out of Islamic theocracies.
Basic Programmers Never Die! They just GOSUB w/o RETURN.
Dann, seriously? Christianity exports like nobody’s business. We have had missionaries all over the world for many centuries, and continue to do so. We even export back – there are African Christian missionaries in the U.S. to try to cure us of our, from their point of view, sinful ungodly ways.
My parents were missionaries in Japan. To be fair, they mostly taught English and had bible study for volunteers, but the church was paying us to be there.
Christianity is in the background of many of our cultural exports as well, and the foreground of some.
You just don’t count all this because it’s part of our cultural background, and you no longer perceive it as exporting.
Christianity has been a proselytizing faith since very early in its history. The form of that proselytizing has been different at different times and places. I’m right this moment watching a program about the end of WWII in the Pacific, including an overview of the occupation of Japan. MacArthur decided that he was going to make Japan a free and open democracy, and that includes broad civil rights, including freedom of religion, and not just the traditional Japanese religions –which is good.
Then there was one, casual line–Macarthur distributed ten million free Bibles.
Which is not terrible.
Except it is proselytizing, very mild proselytizing, but carried out by the U.S. government. Which is a violation of the 1st Amendment.
And I doubt anyone even noticed that problem.
I could go on at length about European Christian proselytizing, in the Americas and Africa. And a Jewish splinter sect didn’t become a religion large and powerful enough to proselytize like that without very effective proselytizing.
It’s just plain silly, and wilfully ahistorical, to say Christian countries don’t proselytize, and therefore can’t cause the problems proselytizing can cause.
There are Korean missionaries, too, though they seem to target Asians rather than Europeans. I’ve seen them in downtown L.A.
P J Evans, I didn’t know that, but I’m not surprised. There are a lot of Korean-American Christians in the U.S. Northeast, certainly. I used to be on the Board of New York Theological Seminary, which focuses on urban ministry, and has most classes at night or on Saturdays, because many students have day jobs. It has classes in English, Spanish, and Korean, so there’s obviously quite a substantial market in NYC for Korean Christian leadership. It makes sense that there should be a big community on the West Coast as well.
We actually have a problem in Sweden, because american christians are funding christians here in Sweden to try to destroy or undermine our abortion laws.
And lets not go into the christian holy warriors around US wars.
Some of the Korean churches I’ve heard of are pretty conservative, and some give the impression of being New Agey. (I’m in an area not far from one with a lot of Korean businesses, but it’s not Koreatown.)