About Corazon

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cooking With Corazon: **Special Wife Edition**

So I have had a few people ask me if I am the sole chef in our house since it is I who posts meals from time to time on this blog. The answer is NO!!! My wife is actually a really good cook (far better than I) and between the two of us we have a good mix of dinners that grace our table.

Now, for those of you who know my wife Elizabeth, you are aware of the fact that she suffers from Celiac disease. Celiac is a stomach intolerance to gluten, which means that our meals (if they include her) must be free of any and all traces of wheat, barley and rye. In short, Elizabeth is unable to eat any breads, most cereals or anything containing modified food starch. Basically anything that tastes good, she gets the shaft.

To compensate, we usually use gluten free recipes in which we substitute rice flour (or something similar) for wheat flour. And if I am being 100% honest, gluten free food can suck depending on the recipe. Usually the breads, doughs, etc. taste more like chalk than anything resembling wheat. Let's face it, wheat is awesome! Using anything as a substitute just doesn't taste the same. Having said that, I am proud to introduce you all to an AWESOME pizza recipe that Elizabeth makes on a weekly basis at our house. It has become so popular that we have installed a weekly tradition that we call, "Pizza Madness!":


Above is her signature barbecue chicken pizza that is, in all honesty, my all-time favorite pizza EVER! Yeah, it's that good. The recipe will be forthcoming. I plan on adding my own twist to "pizza madness" sometime this week!

Buen Provecho!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Laus Deo

More "Christian Nation"
Pop-Culture Nonsense


The following is an email (forward) I received from a friend that has been quite popular over the years. I am sure that you all have seen similar forwards, which try to depict our nation's founding in a 21st century religious/patriotic tone. I chose to post it here to illustrate just how prevalent the "Christian Nation" argument really is. We're not simply arguing semantics here, but issues that many American Christians take very seriously.

Enjoy!

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A very interesting piece of history. Please take a minute and read on.
Do you know what it means?

LAUS DEO

One detail that is never mentioned is that in Washington , D.C. . there can never be a building of greater height than the Washington Monument .

With all the uproar about removing the ten commandments, etc., this is worth a moment or two of your time. I was not aware of this amazing historical information.

On the aluminum cap, atop the Washington Monument in Washington , D.C. , are displayed two words: Laus Deo.

No one can see these words. In fact, most visitors to the monument are totally unaware they are even there and for that matter, probably couldn't care less.

Once you know Laus Deo's history , you will want to share this with everyone you know. These words have been there for many years; they are 555 feet, 5.125 inches high, perched atop the monument, facing skyward to the Father of our nation, overlooking the 69 square miles which comprise the District of Columbia , capital of the United States of America

Laus Deo! Two seemingly insignificant, unnoticed words. Out of sight and, one might think, out of mind, but very meaningfully placed at the highest point ov er what is the most powerful city in the most successful nation in the world.

So, what do those two words, in Latin, composed of just four syllables and only seven letters, possibly mean? Very simply, they say ' Praise be to God!'

Though construction of this giant obelisk began in 1848, when James Polk was President of the United States , it was not until 1888 that the monument was inaugurated and opened to the public. It took twenty-five years to finally cap the memorial with a tribute to the Father of our nation, Laus Deo 'Praise be to God!'

From atop this magnificent granite and marble structure, visitors may take in the beautiful panoramic view of the city with its division into four major segments. From that vantage point, one can also easily see the original plan of the designer, Pierre Charles l'Enfant ..a perfect cross imposed upon the landscape, with the White House to the north. The Jefferson Memorial is to the south, the Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west.

A cross you ask? Why a cross? What about separation of church and state? Yes, a cross; separation of church and state was not, is not, in the Constitution. So, read on. How interesting and, no doubt, intended to carry a profound meaning for those who bother to notice.

Praise be to God! Within the monument itself are 898 steps and 50 landings. As one climbs the steps and pauses at the landings the memorial stones share a message.

On the 12th Landing is a prayer offered by the City of Baltimore ;
on the 20th is a memorial presented by some Chinese Christians;
on the 24th a presentation
made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting Proverbs 10:7, Luke 18:16 and Proverbs 22:6. Praise be to God!

When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4th, 1848 deposited within it were many items including the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society. Praise be to God! Such was the discipline, the moral direction, and the spiritual mood given by the founder and first President of our unique democracy 'One Nation, Under God.'

I am awed by Washington 's prayer for America. Have you ever read it? Well, now is your unique opportunity, so read on!

Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Laus Deo!

When one stops to observe the inscriptions found in public places all over our nation's capitol, he or she will easily find the signature of God, as it is unmistakably inscribed everywhere you look. You may forget the width and height of 'Laus Deo ', its location, or the architects but no one who reads this will be able to forget its meaning, or these words: 'Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.' (Psalm 127: 1)

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Now, it is always nice to see the "Washington prayer journal" turn up from time to time. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people still believe in its authenticity. What did surprise me, however, was that snopes.com, which is known for debunking email myths, etc. actually asserts this email's authenticity. Let's be clear here: the George Washington prayer journal is a FRAUD! It was fabricated in the mid 1800s by zealots who wanted to portray Washington as a devout Evangelical style of Christian. I don't know how to be any more clear on this matter...it is an OUTRIGHT FRAUD!!! People need to quit quoting from it.

The other point I enjoy is the author's apparent insistence that the inscriptions on the monument were done because it is what the founders would have wanted. We should keep in mind that the Washington Monument was finished almost 100 years after the man's death. As a result, any inscriptions should be taken with a grain of salt. They are more representative of the 19th century's surge in religious fundamentalism than they are of Washington's actual beliefs. In fact, Washington never made such declarations, or anything similar to them, during his life. As Jefferson once stated with regards to Washington's faith:
Dr. Rush tells me that he had it from Asa Green that when the clergy addressed Genl. Washington on his departure from the govmt, it was observed in their consultation that he had never on any occasion said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Xn [Christian] religion and they thot they should so pen their address as to force him at length to declare publicly whether he was a Christian or not. They did so. However he observed the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly except that, which he passed over without notice. Rush observes he [Washington] never did say a word on the subject in any of his public papers except in his valedictory letter to the Governors of the states when he resigned his commission in the army, wherein he speaks of the benign influence of the Christian religion.

I know that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his secrets & believed himself to be so, has often told me that Genl. Washington believed no more of that system than he himself did.
To insist that Washington was a devout believer in any brand of Christianity is historically irresponsible. Simply put, the evidence doesn't exist. This "Laus Deo" nonsense is just another typical example of pop-culture's attempt to distort the truth in order to advance an agenda that was never embraced by the founders.

For a thorough overview of Washington's true religious beliefs, I invite you to check out this post that I did a while back entitled, "The Religious Paradox of George Washington." Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Founders Would Be Spinning in Their Graves Over Healthcare...Right?

Ahhh...the crazy, convoluted and downright bizarre world that is American politics! These days I am beginning to feel more and more that George Washington's prophetic message regarding political parties is coming true:
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
Yes, patriotism, nationalism and even God's "will" are now wrapped up in a political party's stupid partisan doctrine!

And as is common with these political parties, both sides are engaged in a continual tug-o-war over the legacy of our founding fathers. After all, if they can prove that the founders were on their side, everything else is colored bubbles. As a result, you see Democrats and Republicans try to articulate how the founders favored their brand of partisan despotism. Both sides grab a handful of quotes, often out of context, which they feel is adequate support for whatever cause they have taken up.

But most of the time they are just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

Take, for instance, the healthcare debate. If you have even listened to 5 minutes of talk radio, you probably have heard pundits ranting and raving about how "unconstitutional" and "immoral" Obama's plan is. And certainly our founding fathers would be appalled at the President for creating such a massive program...right?

Well, certainly some founders would be upset. Thomas Jefferson, the quintessential small government/low taxes guy, would probably make Obama his new project of disdain and ridicule that only Jefferson could deliver. Other founders, however, might not feel the same.

In 1798, for example, Congress passed a law "for the relief of sick and disabled seamen." Under this law, tax funds were used to establish several hospitals where sick and injured seamen were able to receive government-funded healthcare. Eventually this program grew to include other groups of American workers, most notably members of the Merchant Marines. For many of our founders (most notably J. Adams, A. Hamilton and even G. Washington) the health of America's workforce was of paramount importance and was, at least in some form, even a responsibility of the federal government to safeguard. Historian Gautham Rao further explains why this issue was of importance to the founding generation:
That the federal government created this health care system for merchant mariners in the early American republic will surprise many. This is due in no small measure to the tenor of political debate about health care in American society. Advocates of government structured, universal health care plans claim that the times are too fast and costs too high to return to the old days of "pay-as-you-go" care. Deregulationists counter that only by removing the stamp of government from health care can society relive the great success of decades and centuries past. Both sides presuppose that government regulation and provision of health care is a new development. But the story of the marine hospitals in the early American republic suggests that the United States has a long history of using institutions to manage public health. Through the marine hospitals, the federal government used health care to regulate a crucial labor force in an age of maritime commerce. Treating sick and disabled merchant mariners helped stabilize the maritime labor force. More broadly, through the marine hospitals, we witness the actual points of interaction between government, community, and individuals. A glimpse within hospital walls reveals the rich, diverse personal experiences of working in, or being treated in, an early federal marine hospital. To be sure the marine hospitals were effective instruments of politics and policy. But within the marine hospitals, medical practice and administration was far more than an abstract tool of political economy. Rather, the stories of sickness, injury, admission, treatment, resistance, and regulation that characterized life within the marine hospitals reveal how the federal government shaped the social, economic, and political order of the early republic to a degree scholars have only just now begun to appreciate.
In fairness, it's important to note that while some of the founders did support at least a small type of national healthcare, this doesn't necessarily mean they would agree with something on the scope of Obama's plan. Perhaps they would, perhaps not. One could easily see somebody like Hamilton or Adams, who advocated for a strong national government, possibly being in favor, while men like Jefferson and Madison would most likely be beside themselves with anger over such a plan. In the end we'll never really know. I suppose that ascertaining the founders' position on national healthcare would be akin to uncovering their opinion on atomic energy. Different times have different problems.

And it is for this reason that appealing to the founders isn't always the best idea. Or as Jefferson put it, "The earth belongs to the living, not the dead."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Book Review: The First World War

The First World War. By John Keegan. (New York: Vintage Books, 1998. Pp. 427).


"The First World War was a tragic and unnecessary conflict." This opening sentence to John Keegan’s book The First World War serves as the prevailing thesis for the duration of his book. By suggesting that the First World War could have been avoided, Keegan invites the reader to join him in an in-depth look into the origins, causes, and consequences of Europe’s "Great War." In this work, Keegan rejects the notion that the First World War was an inevitable conflict between rival superpowers, but insists that the growing trends of nationalism, combined with the massive military/industrial buildup of the various European nations, brought already existing tensions to a frenzied crescendo. As a result, cooler heads were unable to prevail over the supercharged militaristic intentions of the differing European powers.

Though primarily written as a military history, Keegan provides a good amount of scholarly insight into the origins of the First World War. Keegan’s prose effectively sheds light on the true nature of the First World War, which he claims is often overshadowed by the subsequent Second World War. Keegan insists that both world wars can and should be understood jointly, as opposed to the traditional view of separate world conflicts:
The derelict fortifications of the Atlantic wall...the decaying hutments of Auschwitz...A child’s shoe in the Polish dust...are as much relics of the First as of the Second World War.
Though separated by roughly two decades, it was the First World War that sharpened the resolve and fury of the Second World War. Or as Keegan put it, "The First World War inaugurated the manufacture of mass death that the Second brought to a pitiless consummation."

The initial chapters of Keegan’s book focus on the origins of the First World War. Keegan points out the fact that early twentieth-century Europe actually saw itself as a relatively peaceful and civilized society. International dependence in the economic, religious, and political arenas created an imaginary sense of stability between the various European powers. These illusionary factors, however, were unable to prevent the turbulent tide of nationalistic and militaristic development, which propelled Europe to the avant-garde of warfare. Once one nation started down the path of military development, its rival powers soon followed. Such an atmosphere of militancy made any effort to keep the peace progressively more difficult. As Keegan points out:
The tragedy of the diplomatic crisis that preceded the outbreak of fighting...is that events successively and progressively overwhelmed the capacity of statesmen and diplomats to control and contain them.
In essence, diplomacy was held at bay by the aggressive agendas of militarism.

Along with presenting the origins of the conflict, Keegan effectively demonstrates the impact that the First World War had on shaping European identity. Throughout the text, Keegan strives to depict the “Great War” as one of the preeminent international events that propelled the world into modernity. According to Keegan, the development of nationalism and military might essentially pushed aside the rational ideology left over from the Enlightenment. As a result, an injection of nationalistic fervor infected Europe’s populace, creating an atmosphere of patriotic loyalty. Keegan alludes to this fact when he writes of how each nation’s citizenry rallied behind the war:
Crowds thronged the streets, shouting, cheering and singing patriotic songs. In St. Petersburg...the entire crowd at once knelt and sang the Russian national anthem. In Germany, the flag was carried higher than the cross.
Keegan’s description of the war itself gives the reader a full view of its dramatic impact. Since virtually every European nation believed that the conflict was to be short, the general public was utterly shocked to its core once reality set in. The sheer terror of seeing so many soldiers killed or maimed caused soldiers to desert and citizens to reassess where their loyalties stood. As Keegan points out:
Civilian discontent fed military discontent, just as the soldiers’ anxieties for their families were reinforced by the worries of wives and parents for husbands and sons at the front...nationalism and popular patriotism took its appropriate back seat to basic human needs and desires.
The war’s violent impact brought the once fevered nationalistic chants to a dull roar. As Keegan suggests, the war’s lengthy duration, combined with its bloody outcome, left the masses in a virtual daze. Gone were the days when massive crowds gathered in public squares to thank god for their nationalistic superiority. Instead, families and friends came together to bury their dead and pray for an end to the violence. One's nationality barely mattered anymore.

Keegan’s work takes a bold stand against the traditional historiography of the First World War. Instead of seeing the war through the traditional lenses of military greatness and national pride, Keegan seeks a different rout of understanding. As he states in the book’s final pages:
Why did a prosperous continent, at the height of its success as a source and agent of global wealth and power...choose to risk all it had won for itself and all it offered to the world in the lottery of a vicious and local internecine conflict?
It is likely that the various European powers that participated in the conflict would respond by invoking their nationalistic and militaristic duties to protect and defend their respective homelands as a justifiable reason for declaring war. Keegan, however, would likely respond by using the same words that he chose to begin this book: “The First World War was a tragic and unnecessary conflict.” Or as George Bernard Shaw put it:
Patriotism is your conviction that your country is superior to all others because you were born in it.
That is the First World War in a nutshell.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Zakary and his "Colt Peacemaker"

Here's a short video clip of Zakary playing with his favorite toy: the Colt Peacemaker:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Glenn Beck Check, Part III: Barton Joins Beck in Fake History

Well, I'm back with another "Glenn Beck Check" sooner than I thought I'd be. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of politics. Contrary to what you may think, I don't really care about too many issues. Don't get me wrong, I have a select few that I get passionate about, but for me most of politics is a live and let live prospect. I don't really have an opinion on health care, global warming, or all the other hot-button issues of today.

But let me tell you what DOES get my blood boiling. For whatever reason (probably because I spent several years in school on this topic and have made it my #1 hobby in life) I HATE IT when people misrepresent history to fit their own biased agenda, and it is exclusively for that reason that the Glenn Beck Check is back so soon after my last installment. Now in fairness, Beck is far from the first person to twist basic historical facts to fit his agenda. The "hijacking" of history (particularly that of our Founding Fathers) is as old as the United States itself. However, Beck has such a large platform and has so many people convinced that he is the true "guardian" of America's "true heritage" that so many of his followers accept his nonsense at the expense of tossing actual historians to the curb (and who is calling who dumb?).

Which leads me to Glenn Beck's show from last night. Did you catch it? Or were you too busy doing something else...like clipping your toenails or stabbing yourself in the throat with hot needles? Well, fortunately I am here to get you caught up. On last night's "stellar" program, Glenn Beck assembled a panel of "experts" (Beck called them "the best minds available") to debate a number of issues. And it just so happens that one of those "experts" was none other than DAVID BARTON! In case you are unfamiliar with who Barton is, he's an Evangelical activist who passes himself off as an expert historian of the American Revolution. The man has made millions off of fabricating, misrepresenting and misinterpreting history, all in an effort to portray the Founding Fathers as hard-core Evangelicals themselves (and his fans eat that crap up). He's the most outspoken advocate of the "Christian Nation" thesis that gets tossed around these days by religious conservatives. His "books" and other "scholarly" material have been debunked on so many occasions that you almost feel sorry for the guy. Simply put, his blatantly transparent agenda and personal history of horrific research has left Barton with zero credibility to speak of.

But apparently Beck forgot that memo because here he is on last night's show. Just a note, only pay attention to the first 2 minutes. That's all I am interested in:



So what feelings do you get when you hear about Congress "printing a Bible" and Thomas Jefferson speaking of "our Lord, Christ?" Probably pride, patriotism, solemnity, reverence, etc., right? Well, we all like having those moments, especially when we are talking about our God and our country (and for the record I am all for that). But here's thing, there's the tinsy-winsy problem that NONE OF IT IS TRUE!!! Wha-wha-wha-WHAT!!! Brad, are you suggesting that Glenn Beck, Mr. Thomas Paine reincarnated himself, would dare to lie on his show??? NOOOOOOOOO!!!! Besides, what's the big deal? It's just a bible that we're talking about here.

Slow down, cowboy! Let's take this one step at a time. First, let's dissect these two blatant lies one at a time. Up first, the "American Revolution Bible."

Congress' "Bible"

In the clip above, David Barton WOWS Glenn Beck (and we all know how hard that is to do) with his old and torn copy of what he calls, "the American Bible." He goes on to mention that it was congress itself that authorized and printed these bibles, which were then distributed to the American citizenry, with specific emphasis in the nation's schools. Well, to be perfectly frank, Barton jumped off the boat and miss the ocean on this one, and Beck ate it up hook, line and sinker.

Here's the truth about this Bible. A Philadelphia printer by the name of Robert Aitken petitioned Congress for permission to print the Bible here in America. His hope was that he would be able to gain congressional sanctioning for his bible, especially since American printing was basically in the toilet at this time and getting books from Britain was impossible...because of that pesky Revolutionary War. Well, Aitken continued to hound Congress with a countless number of petitions asking for approval and congressional sanctioning for his bible. He never got it. What he did get, however, was a congressional endorsement of his printing. Again, American printing sucked at this time and Congress needed to get it moving. Aitken's ability to mass produce a book as large as the Bible demonstrated that American industry and independence was becoming a reality. As a result, Congress was happy to promote Aitken's printing...but NOT his Bible. And again, Congress didn't print the book, Aitken did, using his own time, resources and money. Congress never gave him a thing...except perhaps a pat on the back for his ingenuity in printing.

So how does Barton come to his conclusions? Well, the first thing he does is mess up his dates. On a number of occasions (not present in the video above) Barton tries to argue that Congress began printing these bibles in 1782, immediately following the victory of Yorktown. The problem, however, is that Aitken had already begun printing as early as 1779, a full three years BEFORE victory at Yorktown. In addition, Barton's claims that Congress "recommended" the Bible is simply Aiken's overzealous and presumptuous move to give his Bible more credit than it deserved. Congress NEVER approved of it. Now, Barton claims that there are "congressional records" which show that the Bible was approved, specifically to be "A neat addition to the Holy Scriptures for use in our schools." The only problem (and he conveniently omits this part) is that these "records" are Aitken's letters to Congress! In other words, Barton's research is so bad that he actually considers Aitken's petitions as "Congressional documents." This would be like you or I petitioning Congress for a new car by stating that it would be "a neat addition to my front driveway", having Congress refuse the petition, and then using that same letter we sent as proof that Congress was for it! Barton is king of this kind of research because he knows his audience will never bother to check his sources.

Ok, that's sort of the ultra-condensed rebuttal of Barton and Beck's stupid "American Bible" nonsense. Here is a much more thorough overview by a lady named Chris Rodda, author of the book, Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate View of America History. Ms. Rodda has spent a great deal of time in debunking Barton and this video will eliminate any doubt that might exist as to whether or not Beck and Barton know what they are talking about:



If that were the only lie it would be bad enough. After all, people love to eat up stuff like "Congress printed a Bible" and other crap like that. Well, sadly, Beck and Barton sunk to an even lower level. They actually attempted to make Thomas Jefferson (my favorite founder) look like a Christian. Now, for those of you who know anything about Jefferson's religion you know how insanely silly this is. It's so stupid that it defies reason. Insinuating that Jefferson was a Christian is like saying that Beck is smart. In the video, Beck flashes around a letter from Jefferson which concludes with the phrase, "In the year of our Lord, Christ." That's it. Nothing more. And from that singular line they insinuate that Jefferson was not the unbeliever we think, since he added "Christ."

Well, here's the thing. As is the case with all presidents, rarely if ever do they actually write the documents they are signing. They simply have somebody else (like a secretary) write if for them. Jefferson didn't write this letter, he just signed it. In addition, concluding documents in the 18th century with "In the Year of our Lord" was extremely common. You can find thousands upon thousands of examples of such a formality from renowned atheists of the day. Ending a letter like this was standard operating procedure, but apparently Beck and Barton have such poor context when it comes to their history that they missed this obvious fact. Furthermore, this would be like insinuating that all of us today worship the god Thor because we sometimes label our letters with the date "Thursday." After all, Thursday is named after Thor, just like Monday is named for the Norse goddess Mani. But who among us would be stupid enough to suggest that somebody worshiped Thor because they mention Thursday in a letter? Well, this is basically what Barton and Beck are doing.

But just so people are clear on Jefferson's faith, here are a few quotes that are far more concrete than some stupid, random letter that Jefferson only signed:
"Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity."

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

"I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians."

-Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes."

-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own."

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814
And why does all of this matter? It's simple really. Anyone who needs to embellish the past to make their case seem more credible is a fool. In addition, and perhaps even more important, this "Christian Nation" movement to characterize our founders as something they are not reeks of theocracy. The desire to strip away the separation between church and state would be like wanting to strip away the founders themselves. Yes, this simple two-minute segment is indicative of much more, and Glenn Beck of all people should know that. Heck, he's the loudest voice out there crying about "history revisionists" not telling us "our true history."

Congrats, Mr. Beck. It looks like you have officially become the "progressive" of history revision, along with your new buddy, David Barton!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

They're Always After Me Lucky Charms

Origins and Meanings of
St. Patrick's Day Symbols


Once again, happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! On this day, the good deeds of Ireland's favorite missionary (and slave) are hailed by one and all (except for some Protestants) by wearing green, clipping on a shamrock lapel pin, and drinking Guinness Beer. And while most know the general story surrounding dear St. Patrick, few these days are aware of the origins of many of its popular symbols.

The Shamrock

As is the case with most other popular holidays (click
here and here), many of the symbols of St. Patrick's Day are heavily rooted in pagan origins. And of course the most popular St. Patrick's Day symbol is the shamrock. Often associated with Christian symbolism (many suggest that St. Patrick himself used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the Trinity) the special nature of the shamrock is actually much older. In Celtic lore, the number three is a significant and holy number. Instead of representing the three parts of the Christian Trinity, the shamrock held pagan significance for its representation of sky, earth and underworld. In addition, it's important to point out that Celtic symbolism was highly dependent on number sequences. Also, the pagan goddess Brigit, whose sacred number is often either 3 or 9, had special significance when it came to the shamrock. Celtic beliefs were also deeply dependent on magic enchantments and lucky charms. And since the shamrock was easy for both the rich and the poor to obtain, it became a popular "lucky charm" to carry around (incidentally, this helps to explain why a 4-leaf clover is/was seen as popular. It was a rare gem that represented even greater luck).

The Leprechaun

And of course, what would St. Patrick's Day be without Leprechauns! Originally (at least according to Celtic lore) leprechauns were sometimes considered to be sea creatures that would grant three wishes (there's that #3 again) to anyone who could catch them. Later, however, the leprechaun evolved into a mischievous, miniature fairy who made shoes, protected pots of gold and, interestingly enough, wore RED!

But to really understand the origins of the leprechaun, we have to look at the Celtic tales of Tuatha Dé Danann. In Celtic mythology, the Tuatha Dé Danann are a race of gods who not only controlled Ireland but much of the heavens. It was believed that a rainbow was their bridge between this world and the world beyond, and that if one could get to the end of a rainbow before it disappeared a common person could join their ranks. Over time, and with the appearance of Christianity, the Tuatha Dé Danann were replaced with Christian deity (and saints like St. Patrick) and the magical, enchanting gods of Celtic mythology disappeared...or at least evolved into the more modern form: a leprechaun.

The Harp

Contrary to popular belief, the shamrock is not the official symbol of Ireland. The harp has that all-important distinction. In Medieval Ireland, the harp took on special significance, since it was believed that its music could commune with the gods. As a result, harp players were usually from the nobility and carried tremendous importance in Irish society. In addition, since the harp's music was considered the language of the gods, many harp players had their eyes removed, since it was believed that looking upon god was unacceptable.

So the next time you take a look at one of these "lucky charms" remember that you are in good company. They go back a long way indeed and carry powerful "magic." No wonder the Irish always get mad about "people after me lucky charms!"

And why all the green? Check out
this post for that answer.

Happy Green...I Mean Blue...I Mean Orange St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my blog readers!

Yes, another lovely holiday of drinking, shamrocks, leprechauns and pots of gold is upon us! And while it's fun to enjoy the wonderful symbols of the day while adorning one's self in their favorite shade of green, let us not forget that St. Patrick's Day has a unique history that might surprise some.

The
first recorded St. Patrick's Day celebration in colonial America was held in 1737. According to the Charitable Irish Society, it was a group of 18th century Irish immigrants to New England who first brought the St. Patrick's Day tradition to the New World:
The origins of Boston’s Irish community stretch back to the early 18th century when considerable numbers of Ulster Presbyterians came to New England in search of economic opportunity and the religious and political freedom which the Penal Laws denied to Dissenters and Roman Catholics alike. Merchants and artisans of Ulster stock founded the Charitable Irish Society in 1737 with the express purpose of assisting fellow Irish immigrants in the traumatic process of settling in a strange new city and country.
Interestingly enough, these Irish immigrants from Ulster were NOT Catholic but Protestant. Their Presbyterian beliefs had also incorporated the St. Patrick's Day holiday as more of an expression of cultural heritage rather than a recognition of Catholic tradition.

Approximately three decades later, New York City became host to the first ever official parade commemorating the celebration of St. Patrick's Day in America. On that day, Irish soldiers, serving in the British military, marched proudly through the streets of New York, while eager crowds gathered to praise their bravery during the Seven Years' War (French & Indian War) and to recognize their Irish heritage.


What? Where did the green go, you ask? How unpatriotic of me you say! Well, the answer is actually based in the history of this day. It was during the early part of the 17th century that the celebration of St. Patrick's Day became an officially recognized feast of Ireland. During those first centuries, St. Patrick was regularly recognized with the customary blue, since blue was regularly associated with the ancient colors of Ireland. It wasn't until many years later that the "wearing of the green," meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing, made its appearance, thus forever changing the "official" color of St. Patrick's Day.

And perhaps we should change the blue to orange, since many Protestants actually chose to wear orange on this day as a symbol of defiance. And while this tradition is still continued by some Protestants to this day, it is interesting to note that many attribute the wearing of orange to William of Orange (William III), who defeated the Catholic King James II to take over the throne of England. Perhaps those who credit William III should remember that the "Orange" in William's nickname has nothing to do with the color, but the French province in southern France. In fact, the orange color in Ireland's flag is actually used to recognize Ireland's Protestant minority.

So should we start pinching those not wearing blue...or orange???

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bonnie and Clyde's Final Stand

A rare video of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow taken moments after their fatal encounter with law enforcement. Taken May 23, 1934:



Lacking modern apprehension techniques, and considering the fact that Barrow had already killed nine law enforcement officers in a two-year period, it is understandable why so much force was used.

Cartoon Propaganda/Racism: Volume XIV

It's been a while since I posted anything in this series of propaganda/racist cartoons. Just haven't bothered to look around I guess. Anyway, here's one from 1932 entitled, "Uncle Tom and Little Eva" that is a pretty obvious demonstration of the racial stereotypes of that era:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Massachusetts State Constitution: Juxtaposing America's PLANTING and America's FOUNDING

In his newest book Empire of Liberty, historian Gordon Wood dissects the origins and evolution of the early republic by referencing the famous story of Rip Van Winkle. Wood states in the introduction to his book:
During the second decade of the nineteenth century, writer Washington Irving developed an acute sense that his native land was no longer the same place it had been just a generation earlier. Irving had conservative and nostalgic sensibilities, and he sought to express some of his amazement at the transformation that had taken place in America by writing his story "Rip Van Winkle." Irving had his character Rip awaken from a sleep that had begun before the Revolution and had lasted twenty years. When Rip entered the village, he immediately felt lost. The buildings, the faces, the names were all strange and incomprehensible. "The very character of the people seemed changed. There was a busy, bustling disputatious tone about it, instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquility."

[...]

"Rip Van Winkle" became the most popular if Irving's many stories, for early nineteenth-century Americans could appreciate Rip's bewilderment. Although superficially the political leadership seemed much the same...beneath the surface Rip, like most Americans, knew that "every thing's changed." In a few short decades Americans had experienced a remarkable transformation in their society and culture, and, like Rip and his creator, many wondered what happened and who they really were.
Yes, the convoluted world of early America was a swirling, evolving clash of ideas and beliefs that made the future seem different and uncertain. And among these changes to America's landscape, religion was a front and center issue for a people whose faith and devotion were changing as much as the rest of society.

One of the central components to this evolution of American religion has been the role of state constitutions in the establishment and execution of religious devotion. For many who argue in favor of America's Christian heritage, these state charters serve as a barometer of sorts, which, in their opinion, lean clearly in favor of the "Christian Nation" thesis. On the flip side of that coin, others see these state constitutions as an irrelevant blip on the radar, a mere side show to more important issues concerning the nation's true heritage.

And while I agree that these state constitutions provide substantial evidence that religion has played a dramatic role on the grand stage of American history, I think we would be mistaken to conclude that these various state charters serve as conclusive proof that America is a "Christian Nation." These constitutions do not close the door on this ongoing debate but in fact complicate the issue. Yes, they do help to color in many of the details, affording us a clearer picture of America's true heritage but they are no Rosetta Stone. With that said, if we keep Rip Van Winkle in mind, we can see that these state charters clearly demonstrate the fact that American religion was (and still is) an evolving specie; that America's PLANTING and its FOUNDING are both exclusive and joined at the hip. So let us travel back in time a ways and see what Mr. Van Winkle may have seen. How would different American generations, which all existed within relatively the same time and place, differ on the role that religion should play in the "New World?"

Our guide on this journey will be the Massachusetts State Constitution. From its creation in 1780 and extending all the way into the third decade of the 19th century, the Massachusetts State Constitution became an important experimental rat in the laboratory of religion and government. Initially we would see that many of the first proposals that incorporated both religion and government were based on earlier Puritan roots. After all, codifying religion as a part of government was nothing new. Before and after the Protestant Reformation, religion had been a component of government that would seem only natural and necessary to the earliest (and even later generations) of American settlers. As historian Patricia Bonomi points out in her book, Under the Cope of Heaven:
According to traditional history, colonial leaders were above all with creating stable New World communities, and it was an axiom of early seventeenth-century political thought that a strong church was the handmaiden and bulwark of a stable state. The church's guardianship of morality and public behavior made it an ally of orderly government, an interdependence that statesmen acknowledged by granting official status to one church only. Every colony founded in the western hemisphere before the mid-seventeenth century, except Maryland, reproduced the Old World model of a single, established church...the privileged position of these churches was protected by laws restricting the religious and political rights of dissenters from the official establishment. Only through such an arrangement, so the leaders believed, might the colonists ward off the evils of religious strife and achieve the civic harmony essential to the survival of those imperial outposts situated so precariously on the rim of the civilized world.
In consequence, it would seem appropriate for the founders of state constitutions to include religion as a component of good government. Or as those Right Guard commercials from the 90s would put it, "Anything less would be uncivilized."

So, in the wake of the newly declared independence from the home world, Massachusetts was forced to create a new government. In early 1777, delegates from the various counties gathered to draft the state constitution of Massachusetts. And in the process, religion became an issue of paramount importance. The question that plagued everyone was how should religion be represented. Should taxpayers be required to pay for the support of religion or should such a practice be done away with?

Well, to make a long story short, this first attempt to establish a state constitution failed miserably. Most counties outright rejected the new constitution because of disagreements over religious issues and the lack of a bill of rights. With that said, it is important that we recognize the fact that nobody was wanting to toss religion aside completely. When secularist historians of this era suggest that the earliest Americans tried to set up a secular government they do so by misrepresenting the fact that these debates came down to HOW should religion be represented, not WHY should religion be represented. Nobody in their right mind was willing to do without religion entirely. Instead, the question was how should religion be made manifest in a new government.

As mentioned before, religion had always been a component of government in the "Old World." The traditional understanding of the unity between church and state was often linked with the biblical admonition found in Isaiah 49, which states that "kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers." In other words, the government (and the people it was supposed to represent) had the duty to be the "nursing father" of the church. The Library of Congress' website explains this relationship appropriately with the following commentary:
Congregationalists and Anglicans who, before 1776, had received public financial support, called their state benefactors "nursing fathers" (Isaiah 49:23). After independence they urged the state governments, as "nursing fathers," to continue succoring them. Knowing that in the egalitarian, post-independence era, the public would no longer permit single denominations to monopolize state support, legislators devised "general assessment schemes." Religious taxes were laid on all citizens, each of whom was given the option of designating his share to the church of his choice. Such laws took effect in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire and were passed but not implemented in Maryland and Georgia.
But not everyone was pleased with the obligatory taxation. Isaac Backus, a Baptist preacher in Massachusetts, equated the obligatory "taxation without representation" of British Parliament to that of the Massachusetts government collecting taxes for a religion that many did not embrace. In addressing the pro-taxation crowd of Mass., Backus wrote:
Suffer us a little to expostulate with our fathers and brethren, who inhabit the land to which our ancestors fled for religious liberty. You have lately been accused with being disorderly and rebellious, by men in power, who profess a great regard for order and the public good; and why don't you believe them and rest easy under their administrations? You tell us you cannot because you are taxed where you are not represented; and is it not really so with us? You do not deny the right of the British to impose taxes within her own realm; only complain that she extends her taxing power beyond her proper limits; and have we not as good right to say you do the same thing? And so that wherein you judge others you condemn yourselves? Can three thousand miles possibly fix such limits to taxing power, as the difference between civil and sacred matters has already done? One is only a distance of space, the other is so great a difference in the nature of things, as there is between sacrifices to God, and the ordinances of men. This we trust has been fully proved.
Such was the dilemma that plagued the authors of the Mass. Constitution. The heritage of America's PLANTING, which was deeply rooted in a church/state combination, was, for the first time, coming into question. The coup on government was spilling over to a coup of religious dominion. Again, this isn't to say that people were discarding religion entirely. Instead they were beginning to see that a singular faith was not needing the guarantee of protection that the civil power could afford.

But as we all know, the eventual ratification of the Mass. Constitution of 1780 DID provide for public taxes to fund religion. Despite all of the protests and petitions for change, the "old school" view of church and state won the day. It seemed that the "Nursing fathers" doctrine of America's PLANTING had survived another violent storm...at least for the time being

But not everything was the same. The Constitution of 1780 did have a few important concessions that broke from some of the traditional concepts of the Old World. First, no one single religion was promoted over another. Or as the writers of the document (James Bowdoin, John Adams and Samuel Adams) put it, "Religion was a matter between God and individuals."

But the consensus was that religion WAS a matter. As Article II and III of the 1780 Constitution state:
Art. II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested or restrained in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, or for his religious profession or sentiments, provided he doth not disturb the public peace or obstruct others in their religious worship.

Art. III. As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of the public instructions in piety, religion, and morality: Therefore, To promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic or religious societies to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.

[...]

And all moneys paid by the subject to the support of public worship and of public teachers aforesaid shall, if he require it, be uniformly applied to the support of the public teacher or teachers of his own religious sect or denomination, provided there be any on whose instructions he attends; othewise it may be paid toward the support of the teacher or teachers of the parish or precinct in which the said moneys are raised.

And every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.
The third article was of particular importance. The delegates informed the people that the “third article of the declaration of rights...provided for the free exercise of the rights of conscience” as they understood that these rights were more valuable to the people than other rights. So in essence, the compromise to allow for a multiplicity of religions was, in fact, an important distinction between America's PLANTING and its FOUNDING.

But the FOUNDING wasn't quite finished. Over the course of the next 50 years, Massachusetts would further its devotion to a more complete separation of church and state. In 1831, after a tremendous outpouring of protests from Unitarian, Baptist and other church leaders, the Mass. house voted 272 to 78 to revise article three. Eventually, Article XI was adopted in 1833 to replace Article III, effectively eliminating the requirement of public taxes on religion. In so doing, Massachusetts became the last of the original 13 states to remove the government sanctioning of an established church, overthrowing 200 years of tradition. In essence, America's FOUNDING had taken root.

And though I do not personally see how these state charters support any "Christian Nation" argument, I see the fact that they do confirm a deeply religious heritage. In many ways, charters like the Mass. Constitution serve to bridge the gap between America's PLANTING, which was a deeply Christian experience, and America's FOUNDING, which, in part, brought about the greatest explosion of religious freedom in history. But the bottom line is this: religion was, for the PLANTERS and the FOUNDERS very much in view. It was a constant reality that never disappeared over time. So while the Rip Van Winkle's of American religion may have been shocked to see the dramatic changes that took place (i.e. elimination of tax dollars to support religion, no sanctioning of a specific religious faith, etc.) the spirit of pious devotion and ecclesiastical preservation remained as solid as the day that John Winthrop proudly declared Massachusetts Bay to be a "shining city upon a hill."

Bunkin' It

Today was a milestone day in the Hart family. Never again will we have children in a crib! That's right, the old baby crib (which has been to hell and back after enduring the pounding it took from both Jaxson and Zakary) has been retired and we have "upgraded" to BUNK BEDS!!! And our boys couldn't be happier:


Zakary's first "official" bed. He wasn't sad a bit to see that crib go!

Jaxson more than happy to be on the top.



And here is a video of our first night with the new beds. On a side note, it's nice to have their room smelling like fresh wood as opposed to what it usually smells like!

Cooking With Corazon, Episode XIX

Baked Lemon Pepper Salmon
w/ Green Chili Scallops and
Baked Parmesan Zucchini


My apologies to one and all for my two-month absence from "Cooking with Corazon." Life just happens sometimes and sadly that meant cooking went on the back burner (no pun intended). So to renew my commitment to culinary excellence (not that I am excellent...just trying to get there one dinner at a time) I give you the following EXCELLENT meal:

Today I made a family favorite but added a few extra twists. The salmon and zucchini is something I have done before but the scallops are new.

And they were AWESOME. Here's the recipe:

Lemon Pepper Salmon:

- One 1 lb. fillet of WILD salmon (I emphasize wild because most salmon from a grocery store is farmed. Now, there's nothing wrong with regular farmed salmon, but if you want to get the most from your fish get the wild. It's only like $2 or $3 more and worth every penny).

-1 cup Kroger Lemon Pepper Marinade (at least that's what I used but any lemon pepper marinade would probably do).

-1/2 tbs. lemon pepper seasoning

-1/2 tbs. rosemary.

-1/2 tbs. thyme.

-1/2 red onion (chopped).

-2 zucchini (chopped).

-2 squash (chopped).

-1 cup parmesan cheese.

-Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

1.) Marinade fish with lemon pepper marinade, lemon pepper seasoning, rosemary and thyme. Top with chopped red onions and bake in tin foil for 35-45 minutes at 300-315.

2.) Chop zucchini and squash to desired size. Place on baking sheet (with a little oil). Top with parmesan cheese and salt to taste. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

3.) SCARF!!! Simple Stuff really.

Green Chili Scallops

All I did was heat a pan to medium, melt about 1/4 stick of butter, mince about 3 cloves of garlic and allow to melt. I then added about 1/2 cup of diced green chili, and then the scallops (about 3/4 pound or 8 large scallops). Let cook for 5-8 minutes on medium or until the scallops turn golden brown. Remove from pan and top with a little bit of your favorite green chili sauce. Good stuff!

Chances are if you like scallops (and of course not everyone does) and your mouth likes heat, then you'll LOVE making these green chili scallops. And they went GREAT with the rest of the meal!

Buen provecho, everyone!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Home Video Archive: Part I

Here's YET ANOTHER running series that I plan on doing on my blog (especially since some family members follow it). Over the course of this year I plan on converting roughly 100 VHS home videos to DVD in order to preserve them. Thus far it has been a fun and rewarding project. Anyway, for family and friends (and any stalkers out there) I will try to post segments of those videos here from time to time.

And for our first installment, here is a video from 1986. It is of my grandparent's surprise anniversary. A stirring video to say the least, since several people in this video (including both my Dad and grandpa) are deceased:

Brothers to the Bone

I realize that I have posted pictures that are similar to these but being that we got a new camera today, I thought this would be the perfect excuse to do it again. My two boys (Jaxson and Zakary) are, as Forrest Gump put it, "like peas and carrots." Even though Jaxson has his own bed, he loves sleeping with his little brother, who is more than happy to share that cramped crib. Here are a few pictures of what I mean:



Not All Unitarians Rejected a Divine Jesus

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!


Ok, I know what you are thinking. What is Brad doing quoting a Christmas song in March?

Hold your breaths, I am about to tell you....

As is evidenced from my blog, my favorite historical topic is early America and religion. I think it is one of the most interesting and important topics out there. Well, one of the most interesting aspects of early American religion is the rise of Unitarianism, which, in many cases, tended to reject many of the traditional (orthodox) concepts of Christianity. As a result, many "traditional" Christians saw Unitarianism as a "heresy." After all, many of these "heathen" disciples of the Unitarian faith were declaring that Jesus was not divine, not born of a virgin, etc., etc., etc.

But not all Unitarians of late 18th century/early 19th century America rejected the idea of a divine Jesus. Take for instance the famous Unitarian Julia Ward Howe, author of the song "Battle Hymn of the Republic." One quick glance at the lyrics of that song would be enough to convince anyone that she believed in a divine Jesus:
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free;
While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.
And the same can be said of the famous Christmas song, "O Holy Night." Originally adapted from an 1847 French poem entitled "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians), "O Holy Night" has become a popular Christmas song throughout America. But it wasn't until one John Sullivan Dwight, a UNITARIAN preacher in the "heathen" Boston area, translated the song into a singing version in English that "O Holy Night" became so popular. Originally published in his extremely popular magazine, Dwight's Journal of Music "O Holy Night" became an overnight success that is now sung, without fail, during every Christmas, by every branch of Christianity (orthodox and "heathen") that exists.

Interesting that Dwight, a devout Unitarian, chose to use such "heathen" words for this song like, "Fall on your knees," "Oh night divine, the night when Christ was born," "Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease," and "Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, With all our hearts we praise His holy name."

"Heathen," anti-Jesus stuff if I ever saw it!

Now, I realize that Dwight wasn't around during the founding (he lived in the early to mid 1800s), nor does he represent a fair cross-section of all Unitarian beliefs, but I still think there is a small point here. Clearly Unitarianism (a religion I personally greatly admire for its devotion to reason and its relatively liberal acceptance of many points of faith) was not as hard-core "anti-divine Jesus" as many are lead to believe.

Just something quick to chew on. Maybe I am making a mountain out of a mole hill here but I still thought it would be worth tossing out there.

And for your listening pleasure here is Josh Groban's version of "O Holy Night." Enjoy the "rational" prose of the song for yourself. And keep in mind, only 288 days until Christmas!


And let us not forget Julia Ward Howe's epic song. Hopefully she wouldn't mind it being sung by "America's Choir":

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Glenn Beck Check, Part II: If Beck is a Man of His Word, He Must Leave His Church

Beck's Latest Lunacy:
Leave Your Church if it
Teaches Social Justice


This past week, Glenn Beck took his crazy "progressive" witch hunt to an all-time new level of stupidity. Now even religion has fallen under the "progressive" "socialist" "communist" blanket of Beckonian doctrine. That's right, if your church teaches "social justice" you are supporting socialism! But don't believe me, here's Beck in his own words:
I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!
Yes, you heard him right. If your church teaches "social justice" in any way, you MUST leave that church. Well, being that I happen to be a devout member of Glenn Beck's faith (yeah, there are Mormons out there who are embarrassed to death by Beck) I thought we ought to apply Beck's "socialist" "communist" "progressive" litmus test to the Mormon faith itself. Again, keep Beck's own words in mind: "I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can."

"It is unfortunate that it is taking so long to bring full ECONOMIC JUSTICE to women. The feminization of poverty is both real and tragic. That is why you should work very hard to prepare for your future by gaining some marketable skills."

~James E Faust, Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, September, 1986 (Link can be found here).

Wow! Not only economic justice but FULL economic justice...and for women nonetheless! Surely enough to make Beck's head explode with rage!

And let's not forget President Thomas S. Monson, the current president of the Mormon Church who created a 4th official mission for the church: "Care for the Needy."

"This can only be a positive...to bring SOCIAL JUSTICE to those in need." (Link here).

And the Mormon Tabernacle Choir being honored for, "The achievements of those who beautify the world, especially in the fields of religion, SOCIAL JUSTICE, and the arts." (link here).

Or Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, an apostle of the Mormon church who stated:
Our Heavenly Father expects that we do more with our riches than build larger barns to hold them. Will you consider what more you can do to build the kingdom of God? Will you consider what more you can do to bless the lives of others and bring about SOCIAL JUSTICE in their lives?
Or how about the fact that the Mormon Church recognizes that the Old Testament teaches and supports the idea of social justice:
From proclaiming the preeminence of the merciful, just, and righteous God of Israel to asserting higher ethical and social responsibilities concerning war, women, slavery, marriage, family, and the poor and downtrodden, the teachings of the Old Testament spoke for a better humanity, stirring people to lead lives answerable to a supreme God. This ancient scripture set forth codes of human conduct as well as a doctrinal foundation that have endured the ages and influenced the history and cultural development of much of the modern Western world. Old Testament doctrine and moral values also represented a dramatic departure millennia ago from the belief systems of the cultures surrounding ancient Israel.

[...]

The morality of “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev. 19:18) came logically from a God who said, “Ye shall be holy: For I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). These concepts from Sinai helped inspire later prophets such as Amos, Isaiah, Micah, and Jeremiah with their great resounding cries for compassion and justice—a “prophetic protest against social injustice [that was] without close parallel in the ancient world.”

Some skeptics see the Bible as the enemy of history and science without realizing that, in part, it made science and history possible. Surrounding Israel were religions of accommodation that merely sought to help people survive in, not change, their worlds. In contrast, “Judaism … affirmed that [history] was a meaningful process leading to the gradual regeneration of humanity.” 15 By introducing the concept of linear historical progress—the idea that because history is leading to a millennial state, our actions matter in helping create a better world—the Old Testament inspired great changes in human history. Whereas other religions of the period never “produced a major social revolution fired by a high concept of social justice, … ‘the prophets of Judah were a reforming political force which has never been surpassed.’"
And let us not forget some of the teachings of the Book of Mormon itself:

From the Book of Alma 1: 27-28, 30:
“And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.

And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions.

And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.”
And Mosiah 4: 16-19:
And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?”
Beck continues his rant by stating that if his own church teaches social justice, he is putting them on alert:
Social justice and economic justice are code words. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop. I don’t care what the church is. If it’s my church. I’m alerting the church authorities. Excuse me, what’s this social justice thing? And if they say, yeah, we’re all in that social justice thing, I’m in the wrong place.
So now he presumes to tell the leadership of the Mormon Church how to run things. Well, let me be the first to say, "DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT!"

Time to walk out on your church, Glenn...that is, if you are a man of your word.

You can hear Beck's comments on this video. Sorry, it's the only one I could find that had it. I don't support the commentator's views 100%. Just listen to the Beck audio.

Washington's "Purple Heart"

I know that this blog is primarily devoted to religion and the founding of America but this was too interesting to pass up. On this day, the PURPLE HEART, a medal given to soldiers who are wounded in combat, was created. And do you know WHO created the Purple Heart? None other than George Washington himself! Here's an interesting little tidbit from a military historian with Valley Forge:

At his headquarters in Newburgh, New York, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, creates the "Badge for Military Merit," a decoration consisting of a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk, edged with a narrow binding of silver, with the word Merit stitched across the face in silver. The badge was to be presented to soldiers for "any singularly meritorious action" and permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge. The honoree's name and regiment were also to be inscribed in a "Book of Merit."

Washington's "Purple Heart" was awarded to only three known soldiers during the Revolutionary War: Elijah Churchill, William Brown, and Daniel Bissell, Jr. The "Book of Merit" was lost, and the decoration was largely forgotten until 1927, when General Charles P. Summerall, the U.S. Army chief of staff, sent an unsuccessful draft bill to Congress to "revive the Badge of Military Merit." In 1931, Summerall's successor, General Douglas MacArthur, took up the cause, hoping to reinstate the medal in time for the bicentennial of George Washington's birth. On February 22, 1932, Washington's 200th birthday, the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the "Order of the Purple Heart."

In addition to aspects of Washington's original design, the new Purple Heart also displays a bust of Washington and his coat of arms. The Order of the Purple Heart, the oldest American military decoration for military merit, is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who have been killed or wounded in action against an enemy. It is also awarded to soldiers who have suffered maltreatment as prisoners of war.