Actually, the Islamic State IS “Islamic” 11/18/15

Turns out the official line about the ISIS as proclaimed by our President (you will recall the blanket statements – not Islamic, and AQ’s junior partner) were as ignorant in their dismissiveness as they were dangerous in their denial.  This excellent Atlantic article spells out what we actually know about these militant medieval religious zealots, their appeal, and their goals.

A Surprising Map

religious map

Weekend Open Thread—Religion………yikes

I’m very interested in religion and religious views, although I’d prefer to read what others have to say than share my own thoughts……….hah.  Seriously, religion has always been a highly personal thing for me and I don’t generally discuss my views.  In some ways it’s because they’re always evolving so what I say today I may not actually agree with tomorrow and I don’t like to be held to a standard of consistency.  Consistency isn’t something I’m well known for anyway, just ask Scott (that’s a joke btw).

I guess if I were to describe myself religiously it would be as an agnostic who enjoys attending church, but only very specific types of churches and each one for very different selfish reasons.  I also consider agnosticism as a true cop out but there I sit nonetheless.  I’m neither an atheist nor a Christian but I found this article on atheists, and agnostics to a lesser extent, enlightening if you will.

What kind of atheist are you anyway?  I think everyone will recognize me right away but I’m curious about the rest of you atheists.  Number six was my favorite but it’s not me.

6. Ritual Atheist/Agnostic. While you might think the anti-theist is the non-believer type that scares Christians the most, it turns out that it may very well be the Ritual Atheist/Agnostic. This group, making up 12.5 percent of atheists, doesn’t really believe in the supernatural, but they do believe in the community aspects of their religious tradition enough to continue participating. We’re not just talking about atheists who happen to have a Christmas tree, but who tend to align themselves with a religious tradition even while professing no belief. “Such participation may be related to an ethnic identity (e.g. Jewish),” explain researchers, “or the perceived utility of such practices in making the individual a better person.” The  Christian Post clearly found this group most alarming, titling their coverage of this study “Researchers: ‘Ritual’ Atheists and Agnostics Could Be Sitting Next to You in Church,” and giving the first few paragraphs over to concern that people in your very own congregation may not actually believe in your god. The atheism, it seems, might be coming from inside the house (of God).

Another subject that interests me, and one I’ve been reading an awful lot about lately especially in the context of politics, is ageism.  I don’t agree with everything in this piece but I did find it thought provoking.  As a ‘B Word’ boomer it’s always in the back of my mind of course that a lot of us are much worse off financially that we imagined we’d be (not me necessarily) and that we’ve become so reviled (hopefully that’s too strong of a word) by younger generations.  Republicans, and even some Democrats, are certainly using Hillary as an example of someone who is too old to run for President and it’s becoming pretty pervasive so I’m wondering who agrees.  I’m not a Hillary fan, and I’ve stated publicly that I hope she doesn’t run, but it’s only partially because I’d prefer to see someone younger run.

Anyway, I thought this showed a unique perspective on us boomers and you millennials as well.  For the rest of you……meh.  And true to form for my posts, there’s obviously something for everyone to hate in this piece.

It’s corruption, stupid. Like the majority of ’60s radicals, who came from liberal families, millennials feel betrayed by their parents’ generation. Instead of placing the blame on the doorsteps of K Street lobbyists, many see government as the problem.

“Government has obviously become a place where opportunistic people go to get rich,” said a 32-year-old Internet entrepreneur. “Most millennials know only Bill Clinton, who seemed kind of cool until it turned out he was a shill for corporations and the banking lobby, and Bush, who was unabashedly awful as we all know. Then there’s Obama, who seemed great until he turned out to be a lying, spying, bailer-out who gets all his advice from the same lobbyists he promised over and over ‘will not work in my White House.’ ”

That disenchantment is emerging in voting numbers. In 2008, Barack Obama won the 18-29 vote by 34 points. But in 2012, as disappointment with his performance rose, Obama’s edge among these voters dropped to 23 percent. The erosion of support wasn’t lost on Republicans. Like Latinos, the millennials are considered up for grabs in 2016.

Although the feeling of betrayal is understandable, there is something regressive and childlike about ascribing so much power to your parents. Viewing history through the lens of a generation has its limits. Idealists are always flawed, and every generation has its complement of hustlers, toadies and arrivistes. Historical forces larger than the individual determine winners and losers: in this case, globalization, technology, and America’s rise and fall as an imperial power.

And just for fun:



שנה טובה ומתוקה‎

A good and sweet year to you all.

Today is a happy celebration for me and my family. But it begins the ten days of penitence, in which I am to find the people I mistreated during the previous year and ask their forgiveness. I am to do this so that I can seek God’s forgiveness ten days from now on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. If I have not honestly sought forgiveness from those I have injured first then it is thought my prayers for forgiveness to God will not be heard.

This exercise has been mirrored in the Twelve Steps of AA, btw.

Let me add that I have only once seriously pursued this outside my family and close friends in 69 years. It is difficult, and not so much for the reason one would anticipate, the discomfort in making the request. It is difficult because we never know whom we mistreated inadvertently unless they tell us, and then we clean it up at the time, as best we can. Further, it is difficult to recall whom we mistreated purposefully if the emotion that caused the outburst or action is long gone, or if we don’t think of what we did as “mistreatment” at all.

We only trade words here, so I do not recall mistreating any of you save one, and that was inadvertent. I offered my regret at the time. You are welcome to correct me on my faulty memory of mistreatment of others by email to me.

In the Jewish version, it is unnecessary that the the one I mistreated forgives me. It is, however, required that the request by me be sincere.

Does It Matter If You Don’t Believe In Evolution?

It’s not often I see an ATiM discussion echoed nearly word for word in the bigger blogosphere, but an item in Andrew Sullivan’s Dish gave me an odd sense of deja vu. He had reacted in horror to a Gallup poll which showed that 46% of Americans believe God created man as-is. Another 32% believe in what I call ‘guided evolution’ where there is divine influence. Only 15% believe that God had nothing to do with us looking as we do.

Sullivan’s alarm is stated thusly:

I’m not sure how many of the 46 percent actually believe the story of 10,000 years ago. Surely some of them know it’s less empirically supported than Bigfoot. {snip} I simply do not know how you construct a civil discourse indispensable to a functioning democracy with this vast a gulf between citizens in their basic understanding of the world.

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones rolled his eyes by noting that the 46% number is essentially unchanged since the question has been tracked and it is hardly a concern.

The fact is that belief in evolution has virtually no real-life impact on anything. That’s why 46% of the country can safely choose not to believe it: their lack of belief has precisely zero effect on their lives. Sure, it’s a handy way of saying that they’re God-fearing Christians — a “cultural signifier,” as Andrew puts it — but our lives are jam-packed with cultural signifiers.

Basically, Drum is saying that denying evolution is the price of admission to a not very exclusive club and most people are able to compartmentalize the cognitive dissonance it creates when relying on medicine or agriculture or anything that requires the actual mechanisms of evolution to work.

And lots of smart people don’t ‘believe’ in evolution (and I put ‘believe’ in air quotes because I personally ‘believe’ that is as silly as not believing in gravity) and still do quite well in their professional lives. I heard from colleagues of a prominent engineering professor who was a Young Earther, that is, he thought the Grand Canyon was created from backwash from Noah’s flood. I went to a public lecture of his and his thoughts on thermodynamics and the like were very mainstream and enlightening. Only at the end did he make a slightly veiled cryptic comment about having to conserve energy because we were stewards of the Earth.

Saying that God made Man in an afternoon and then used some spare parts to make Woman is a harmless fairy tale demonstrating a reliance on faith over a trust in reason. Evolution makes intellectual sense because it explains observable phenomena such as there being so many different types of plants and animals, far more than would fit on a raft 300 cubits long.

Not believing in evolution has very little effect on tax policy or road funding or the vast majority of governmental issues. It’s only when the theology drips into policy that I grow concerned. Jame Watt famously saw harvesting trees on a non-sustainable basis as no problem since he was imminently expecting The Rapture and then it wouldn’t matter any more. And we don’t want to even begin opening the can of worms of how religious dogma has affected the debate over reproductive rights.

So if someone wants to believe in folk tales on the origin of the world, I can only shake my head and shrug. To me these are people that in their devotion to their beliefs refuse to separate the moral and ethical authority that have been the traditional realm of religion from the mythmaking mumbo jumbo which science has supplanted. For some “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” is all they need. For me, I expect a higher standard of intellectual rigor when deciding whose opinions I trust, I but don’t require it when selecting a plumber.

Birth Control, ACA, HHS, and the RC Church

Catholic Church Blasts HHS Birth Control Rule

By Emily P. Walker, Washington Correspondent, MedPage TodayPublished: January 30, 2012



WASHINGTON — The Catholic Church is protesting an Obama administration rule that requires nearly all employers — even Catholic ones — who provide insurance to their employees to include coverage of birth control services.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has come down against the administration for not exempting all religious organizations from the rule.

In a video posted to the group’s website, USCCB president Archbishop Timothy Dolan said the “administration is on the wrong side of the Constitution” and that the rule to provide birth control is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, which provides for the free exercise of religion.

Anecdotally, Catholics from the Midwest to the Washington, D.C., area said their churches addressed the issue in the past week via church bulletins that urged churchgoers to contact their members of Congress to support legislation to reverse the administration’s rule.

The Obama administration rule stems from a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires no-cost coverage for preventive health services. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that the Department of Health and Human Services cover the “full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods” in order to prevent unintended pregnancies at no cost to the beneficiary, and that includes birth control.

The final rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Jan. 20, says that starting on Aug. 1, 2013, health plans must cover all FDA-approved contraceptives, including hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills, implanted devices such as intrauterine devices (IUDs), Plan B emergency contraceptives (the “morning-after” pill), and sterilization — all without charging a copay, coinsurance, or a deductible.

The plans will not have to cover abortions, however.

Churches and church-affiliated secondary schools are exempt from the rule, but other organizations with religious affiliations — including universities, charities, and hospitals — must comply. Such organizations petitioned HHS for an exemption after the preliminary rule was issued last summer. As a compromise, they have been given an extra year to comply.

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” Dolan said in a statement.

The Catholic Church opposes preventing conception by any artificial means, including condoms, IUDs, birth control pills, and sterilization.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB told MedPage Today that requiring Catholic providers to write prescriptions for birth control would be asking them to violate the church’s teaching.

“If you went to the Jewish deli, you can’t complain because it doesn’t have pork,” she said. “If you went to a Catholic hospital, you shouldn’t be surprised that that a Catholic hospital won’t prescribe contraception and sterilization.”

Walsh said the USCCB supports legislation authored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) that would amend the ACA to permit health plans to refuse to cover specific items, such as birth control or services that “are contrary to the religious beliefs” of the entity offering the plan, without penalty. The bill, HR 1179, would allow those plans to still be considered “qualified health plans” and therefore able to be sold in the health insurance exchanges created by the healthcare reform law.

The bill has 102 sponsors, seven of whom are Democrats.

The Catholic Health Association of the United States declined a request for an interview, but pointedMedPage Today to a statement made by CEO Carol Keehan, who said the group is disappointed that HHS exempted only churches, but not religious hospitals, from its preventive services rule.

“The challenge that these regulations posed for many groups remains unresolved,” Keehan said in the statement. “This indicates the need for an effective national conversation on the appropriate conscience protections in our pluralistic country, which has always respected the role of religions.”


During the debate in 2009, The Bishops fought to have abortion not covered by ACA and the Catholic hospitals split with them (you can look that up).  The compromise finally went the Bishops’ way on abortion, as I recall.  Birth control, not including elective abortion, of course, remained in ACA, with an exemption for Churches, but not for RC employers or RC Hospitals (which presumably do not want that exemption, judging by 2009’s experience).  Is there some way the Bishops have been subjected to a sneak attack here, or was this a fight that was just going to happen once ACA was implemented, no matter what?  It seems to me that HHS is implementing ACA here as written.  Is there an executive overreach here that I am missing?  Was there reason to think a “church” included a “hospital” affiliated with the RCC?

Your collective input is required for my edification.

Monday Morning Opening (or, Ramblings From a Tired Mind)

She’s baaaa-aaaack!

I’m going to throw this up as a somewhat rambling morning thread, since I’ve spent bits and pieces of the last 24 hours going through PL and ATiM threads to get caught up. I’ll just throw out there that moving is the pits, but it does tend to clear out the rubble!

What a weekend! Starting on Thursday, when I went offline due to moving and associated intertubes interuptions, I’d like to make a few quick hits to get up to speed:

NoVA: An absolutely wonderful post that I’m going to re-read and comment on later. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into writing this, and I just wish that 12BB would get her fourth point of contact over here to read it. Does anybody know why she seems to be boycotting us?

lms: I can’t make a direct connection, but it really burns me up that healthcare insurance works the way it does. It’s one of the few perks that we (state) government lackeys have, and one of my last bills for my ex came in at $17K for a less than 72 hour stay in a hospital. I’m not paying it for several reasons, but part of it is that they don’t seem to be able/willing to break it down. . . you can’t convince me that they provided $17K of care to a man who didn’t need divine intervention to make him better (I’ve seen what they do: stick an IV in his arm, pump him up with vitamins and let him sleep it off. For $17K??????) And because I’ve got such great insurance that’s what they’d “bill” me. . . except I don’t have to pay anything other than the deductible, because they’re passing the cost on to people like you. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Troll: Your PT was done at a physician-owned practice, which goes against many ethical guidelines in the PT world (my ex spent several years working at the Federal level on practice guidelines and scope of practice rules.) While it isn’t illegal, it’s considered unethical in many ways for PTs to work directly for orthopods, so it doesn’t surprise me that you were less than happy with your tennis elbow rehab. Having said that, I had a similar injury that just couldn’t be rehabbed, no matter what was tried. About five years later it spontaneously got better. . . so I hope that happens for you!

okie: Sounds like you ran a marvelous event–congrats! If it makes you feel any better, I failed to get the starting pistol to the Honorary Chair who was starting our Race For the Cure last May because I was trying to figure out why our trash cans hadn’t been delivered. There he was (County Mayor), reduced to saying “Bang!” at the start. . .

Who is Mike? And I see that shrink has changed his name again (to mdash?).

And, finally, I have to say that these people strike me as idiots.

What else is happening this morning?


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