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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Klobuchar Tries to Have it Both Ways on FISA

Steve Perry reports.

Why the Student Took the Wafer

Well reported story here.

Church officials say UCF Student Senator Webster Cook was disruptive and disrespectful when he attended Mass held on campus Sunday June 29. It was during that Mass where Cook admits he obtained the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is a small bread wafer blessed by a priest. According to Catholics, the wafer becomes the Body of Christ once blessed and is to be consumed immediately after a minister passes it out to churchgoers.

Cook claims he planned to consume it, but first wanted to show it to a fellow student senator he brought to Mass who was curious about the Catholic faith.

"When I received the Eucharist, my intention was to bring it back to my seat to show him," Cook said. "I took about three steps from the woman distributing the Eucharist and someone grabbed the inside of my elbow and blocked the path in front of me. At that point I put it in my mouth so they'd leave me alone and I went back to my seat and I removed it from my mouth."

A church leader was watching, confronted Cook and tried to recover the sacred bread. Cook said she crossed the line and that's why he brought it home with him.

"She came up behind me, grabbed my wrist with her right hand, with her left hand grabbed my fingers and was trying to pry them open to get the Eucharist out of my hand," Cook said, adding she wouldn't immediately take her hands off him despite several requests.

Diocese of Orlando spokeswoman Carol Brinati said she was not aware of anyone touching Cook. She released a statement Thursday: "... a Catholic Campus Ministry student representative filed a complaint with the Student Union regarding the behavior of the two young men. A Student Government Representative called Catholic Campus Ministry to apologize for this disruption."

Cook filed an official abuse complaint with UCF's student conduct court regarding the alleged physical force. Following that complaint, Brinati said church members filed their own official complaints of disruptive conduct. Punishment for either offense could result in suspension or expulsion.

"The church feels that I'm the problem here," Cook said. "The problem is actually that this is a publicly-funded religious institution. Through student government here, we fund them through an activity and service, so they're receiving student money."

Cook is upset more than $40,000 in student fees have been allocated to support religious organizations on campus for the 2008-2009 school year, according to student government records. He denied he is holding the Eucharist hostage to protest that support.

I used to think that Catholics believed that the wafer literally turned into flesh. The article suggests this. I always wondered how they could believe this, when the wafer would continue to taste like a wafer rather than meat after transubstanciation. From what I understand now, the wafer retains the physical and chemical characteristics of a wafer, but its essence becomes the body of Christ. Protestants believe this is symbolic, not literal.

Greg Laden has a good round up of blogospheric reaction to PZ Myer's now famous "It's a cracker" post.

Emailed Letter to President Bruininks in Support of Myers

A supporter of PZ Myers posts his letter to Robert Bruininks on Myers blog:


Dear Mr. Bruininks:

While I am aware that many will find P.Z. Myers' proposal to desecrate a Eucharist wafer shocking and offensive, I think that the people least entitled to outrage--much less threats of violence and demands for censorship of Dr. Myers--are those who worship the wafer as the transubstantiated flesh of Jesus. The "Judeo-Christian tradition" has a long history of desecrating and destroying the sacred sites and relics of other religions, going back to before there was a "Christian" to add after the hyphen. The Hebrew Bible is replete with instructions to destroy the transubstantiated statues ("idols") that embodied the deities of other religions, murder their clergy and burn their bodies on their own altars. Bill Donahue's church has sanctioned the destruction of incalculable amounts of priceless religious artwork belonging to other faiths, destruction of their temples and the construction of Catholic churches atop the ruins. The Roman Catholic Church destroyed nearly all of the books of the pre-Columbian civilizations, defaced the majestic temples of the Egyptians, and destroyed much of the religious, scientific, and philosophical inheritance of the Greco-Roman world. They made a saint out of the man who murdered the last Librarian of Alexandria and burned down the Library itself.

In comparison, P.Z. Myers has proposed the public desecration of a cracker that can be bought in bulk for a pittance, a "crime" for which he has been threatened with physical attack, in addition to an organized campaign to deprive him of his economic livelihood. A Eucharist wafer is not a priceless work of art or literature. It is "special" only because of a magic spell cast upon it by a Catholic priest.

P.Z. Myers has become an internationally known, prominent spokesman for science and critical thought in the same league with Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. In addition to defending science against the onslaught of creationism, alternative "medicine" and other superstitions, Professor Myers also provides fascinating informative content, such as explanations of syenteny, the groundbreaking research of Dr. Lenski on evolution in E. Coli, and regular explorations into the mystery and wonder of cephalopods. Any university in the world could be proud to count P.Z. Myers as a member of its faculty.

In this current controversy, P.Z. Myers has had the courage to take a stand against forces of intolerance continuing their own tradition of using violence against those who disagree with them. In this case, Professor Myers is publicly standing up to defend an otherwise voiceless student who simply kept something that was freely given to him in the first place. You can know that if any force of organized ignorance were ever to threaten your University, that you can count on Professor Myers to have the physical courage to put his own person on the line in defense of reason and free inquiry. That alone ought to stand as a shining example of excellence in a member of your faculty.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

(Real name, address, and phone number)

I Will Derive

This is a spoof of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive.

Drama Queen Almost Makes City Pages Comix Edition

Avidor included this panel in his submission to City Pages comix edition. He decided to pull the panel in favor of a panel showing Michele Bachmann kibitzing with two Alaskan delegates.

Avidor:  Michele Bachmann's RNC Diary

The published Diary is available at the City Pages site here.

Michele Bachmann is also featured in this cartoon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Catholic League's Bill Donahue Gets Panties in a Bunch Over "Cracker" Post

PZ Myers wrote a satirical post reacting to the outcry about a student who had taken a communion wafer from a Catholic Service.

Got that? If you don't like what Webster Cook did, all you have to do is complain to the university, and they will do the dirty work for you of making his college experience miserable. And don't assume the university would support Cook; the college is now having armed university police officers standing guard during mass.

I find this all utterly unbelievable. It's like Dark Age superstition and malice, all thriving with the endorsement of secular institutions here in 21st century America. It is a culture of deluded lunatics calling the shots and making human beings dance to their mythical bunkum.

So, what to do. I have an idea. Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There's no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I'm sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won't be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart. If you can smuggle some out from under the armed guards and grim nuns hovering over your local communion ceremony, just write to me and I'll send you my home address.

Just wait. Now there'll be a team of Jesuits assigned to rifle through my mail every day.

Bill Donahue from the Catholic League responded by calling for people to write President Bob Bruininks to urge him to fire PZ Myers for these statements on his blog.

The Strib has now posted a story on this. Comments are interesting. According to the strib:

Myers, in an interview today, explained that the blog entry is more "satire and protest" than an actual threat to defile the Eucharist.

Myers has now asked people to write University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks in response to Donahue's efforts to get him fired from the University. A Christian Minister who is strongly critical of Myer's attitude towards religion wrote a letter in support of Myers.

Dear Drs. Bruininks and Johnson:

I write you in support of Dr. Myers against the campaign to have him fired.

As a Christian pastor, I cannot and will not condone Myers' antagonistic discourse on religious matters. On a good day, it is caustic. Most days, I find it willfully ignorant, intolerant, and mean-spirited.

However, the principle of free speech protects those with whom we disagree, not our friends. I'm sure you understand that as accomplished members of the academy.

The fact is that Myers made his comments in a personal venue unrelated to his official capacities at the University of Minnesota. As much as I disagree with his positions, he is entitled to them. Furthermore, the death threats and coordinated campaign to end his career at Morris should indicate the hostility that he rightly points to in his blog.

That Myers is deliberately provocative is a rhetorical strategy to highlight the threat he perceives in religion, not a justification for that threat.

I reject this thuggish attack on his person and his thought as antithetical to the true spirit of Christian belief. I urge you to do the same because it is antithetical to the values of academic freedom and participatory democracy.


Rev. Daniel Schultz

Would Donahue also want to get Tom Lehrer fired from his math position for "The Vatican Rag"?

From his intro:

Another big news story of year concerned the ecumenical council in Rome, known as Vatican II. Among the things they did in an attempt to make the church more commercial was to introduce the vernacular into portions of the mass, to replace Latin, and to widen somewhat the range of music permissible in the liturgy, but I feel that if they really want to sell the product, in this secular age, what they ought to do is to redo some of the liturgical music in popular song forms. I have a modest example here. It's called The Vatican Rag.

Full lyrics here.

Back in Town from Yorkshire

We stayed at the Chorister's House in Fountain's Abbey. It's a great place to stay if you have a group of 10 people. (We did.) My mother was well enough to make the journey.

I'll have some photos next weekend hopefully.

I pick up the cats from boarding tomorrow.

It sounds like the bipartisan blogger sorta party went really well. I hope there's another one later this year.

Thursday, July 10, 2008