As George W. Bush, our God-fearing president and sweetheart of the Christian Right, continues his crusade to legalize torturing prisoners it may be time to reflect on how Jesus was tortured – suffering terrible pain and humiliation at the hands of his Roman captors. Difficult to believe that Jesus would condone torture under any circumstance.
But why should we be surprised? The Christian Right has done an amazing job of perverting the teachings of Jesus and the gospels. Jesus was humble, an itinerant wanderer who embraced an ascetic life of fasting and penury. His closest associates were poor working men – fishermen, carpenters, and tax collectors. He focused his ministry on the destitute, the diseased, and the troubled (gamblers, criminals, and prostitutes). He preached of a coming doomsday and the being saved by God through sacrifice, charity, redemption, and salvation.
Yet, this is the figure that the Christian Right uses as the symbol of their wholly un-Jesus agenda. As if Jesus would condone the unmitigated invasion of Iraq and the killing of women and children (collateral damage). As if Jesus would side with the Bush administration to legalize the torture of alleged terrorists. As if Jesus would rally to the battle cry of deporting and arresting illegal immigrants. Would Jesus really own a firearm? Or bristle at his tax dollars being used for Welfare or universal healthcare?
Jesus was… is… a liberal. He wouldn’t participate in gay bashing. He would live among the poor and condemn CEOs and their outrageous salaries and benefits. He would call for leniency for criminals. He would march in anti-war rallies and argue passionately for the dismantling of nuclear weapons. Jesus would call for living wages for the poor – housing and healthcare for all.
For evidence look no further than the Gospels.
The four Synoptic Gospels in the Bible attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the only parts of the Bible that outline Jesus’ life and give us the only real glimpse at the man – his actions and words. So we’ll use the Synoptic Gospels as the final word on what Jesus believed and how he lived.
I do this with reluctance, however, because the Gospels are not a reliable source by any modern standard. Biblical scholars break down the four Gospels like this:
But the four Biblical Gospels are the closest we can come to an historical record on Jesus – so while the source material and text is questionable (and would never hold up in any U.S. court as evidence), it is the best we can do.
Next we need to look at the platform of the Christian Right. This information was compiled from several right-wing Christian organizations including the Moral Majority, The Christian Coalition and the Traditional Values Coalition. While they vary slightly, the fundamental tenets of the Christian Right break down as follows:
So using the Four Gospels as our source – let’s easily refute that Jesus Christ supported any of the tenets above – with the possible exception of abortion.
Corporeal Punishment and the War in Iraq
There should be little doubt – anywhere – that Jesus was a pacifist. His primary message was one of loving your neighbor and doing unto others and as you would have them do unto you. Reasonable people can agree that that would mean not killing your neighbor or punching them in the face. Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus condone or accept warfare and the consquences that come with it: murder, rape, maiming, bombing, and destruction. In fact, one could argue that supporting a war would be a complete reversal of beliefs of a man who admonished his Apostles to not to strike back at those who strike them – but to turn the other cheek.
Here’s the proof that Jesus was a peacenik from the Gospels:
State and Federal Taxes & Support of Wealth
There are no references to Jesus being opposed to tax collectors – money lenders, yes, tax collectors, no. But one could easily argue that Jesus would support a strong welfare system (including universal healthcare) which would provide a safety net for the poor, sick, and elderly. He surrounded himself with the down-and-out – lepers, peasants, slaves, prostitutes, and the poor. Clearly his sympathies lie with the downtrodden – not the wealthy.
Jesus was also an ascetic – shunning the trappings of wealth for a life of penuary. He owned no home, had no wealth, and spoke in direct and clear terms that the pursuit of money was a sin. There can be little doubt that Jesus meant for his followers to shun this kind of life because he repeatedly tells them so:
So it’s quite odd that the Christian Coalition would be actively lobbying Congress for Bush’s tax cuts to be made permanent – considering that they favor the wealthy.
Sex & Homosexuality
While there admonishments in the New Testament against homosexuality and sexual intercourse outside of marriage, there are none in the four Gospels. One can argue that an ascetic like Jesus would probably have been celebate as well. So while he probably would not have favored a gay or sexually active lifestyle – I’m sure he would not have been in favor of bashing them or treating them as second class citizens.
(For more information check out our link to the web site "Jesus is a Liberal.")
“Hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.”
- Clint Eastwood in “Unforgiven”
There’s a scene in “Unforgiven” with Sheriff Little Bill Daggett entertaining his henchmen; showing off for his new writer friend. They’re gathered in the murky, soulless confines of Greeley’s Saloon. Little Bill, giddy and boisterous, buys the crowd a round of whiskey. Outside, lightning flickers as a storm rolls in and illuminates the dead body of Ned Logan. Little Bill and his men have killed him.
As Little Bill and his boys laugh it up, a dark figure with a shotgun looms in front of the camera. The henchmen notice first, their chuckles catching in their throats. They fall deadly, fearfully quiet. Little Bill continues to rant and rave before, he, too, finally notices and sputters to a stop. There’s an instant in his expression – just a flash, mind you – that fear seizes him as he realizes he’s looking at his tombstone.
William Munny, fueled by whiskey, has been transformed from a slightly bumbling and affable cowboy into the man he used to be: a merciless murderer. He moves differently now and even his eyes have gone black.
“Who’s the fellow who owns this shithole?” Munny asks.
He blasts the saloon owner with his shotgun, the sound like thunder, smoke filling the hard lines of the wooden building.
“You cowardly son of a bitch!” Little Bill shouts. “You just shot an unarmed man!” (The irony of this statement lost on him).
“He should have armed himself if he was going to decorate his saloon with my friend.”
Little Bill, a control freak if there ever was one, realizes he’s lost control of the situation – things are spinning way out of hand – and the panic is being to bubble off him like a bad odor.
“You’d be Will Munny from Missouri, killer of women and children,” Little Bill says.
“That’s right,” Munny says. “I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed just about everything that walks or crawls at one time or another. And I’m here to kill you Little Bill for what you did to Ned.”
And he does.
“Unforgiven” is arguably Clint Eastwood’s best movie – and certainly it’s one of the preeminent Westerns ever put to celluloid. Movies like this make DaRK PaRTY a huge Eastwood fan. He’s become one of the best actors and directors in Hollywood and even when he misses – he manages to put together an interesting film. So without further ado, DaRK PaRTY presents the five best and the five worst Clint Eastwood movies.
A western that encapsulates the American psyche and rips apart the films of Eastwood’s youth where he played no-name gunslingers that never had to face up to the consequences of their violent actions. He does this with career performances from Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris.
Pale Rider (1985)
Second only to “Unforgiven” in the western genre. This one meshes the tale of stranger riding into town with an unnerving ghost story. Like “Unforgiven,” “Pale Rider” is heavy on atmosphere and gives us wide-open spaces combined with claustrophobic interior shots.
A Perfect World (1993)
An underrated gem. Kevin Costner stars as an escaped convict who kidnaps a boy from a repressed religious family as Federal Agent Clint Eastwood pursues. The story is really about the bonding of a troubled man and a lost boy. It’s the small moments in this film that make it great.
This is the movie where Eastwood sandbags his Dirty Harry personae. He plays a cop pursuing a serial killer who murders prostitutes. The cop shares some of the same violent sexual urges as the killer – an even some of the same women. Eastwood should have done more with this – but bails out at the end. Good stuff, nonetheless.
In the Line of Fire (1993)
Eastwood plays a Secret Service agent nearing retirement. He failed to protect President Kennedy and now he’s tested again when the new president is threatened. The movie is stolen by the high-octane performance of John Malkovich as the assassin.
Pink Cadillac (1989)
Eastwood should of known better to star in a movie with “Pink” in the title. This was supposed to be an action comedy – but it isn’t either.
The Rookie (1990)
It co-stars Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen = Crap.
True Crime (1999)
Eastwood looks like he should be in a nursing home. Totally miscast as a rogue journalist with women and booze problems. The bare-chested scene has you wincing and reaching for “The Outlaw Josie Wales.”
Bronco Billy (1980)
The title sounds like it should be in the adult section. Eastwood stars as the owner of a traveling Wild West show on the skids. It’s worse than it sounds and co-stars Sondra Locke, who simply can’t act.
City Heat (1984)
Co-starring Burt Reynolds and directed by Blake Edwards. That stench you smell is, in fact, the movie.
This is the last part of the story that is set in reality – until the grim last sentence. The rest of the story takes place in a fantasy world that Peyton has created in the last seconds of his life. The reader is given hints that we aren’t in the real world – primarily through Peyton’s supernaturally heightened perceptions.
“And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was a sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith's hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality.
He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by--it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each stroke with impatience and--he knew not why--apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer, the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek.
What he heard was the ticking of his watch.”
To capture the full essence of Ambrose Bierce, a reader must appreciate his acid wit. He was one of the most prominent social critics in post-Civil War America. One of Bierce’s most popular works is The Devil’s Dictionary, a collection of his newspaper columns that redefined common English words to lampoon the double-speak of U.S. politics and business. Working for the Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner, Bierce had a national podium to spew his sardonic opinions and stir-up national controversy -- which earned him the nickname Bitter Bierce.
DaRK PaRTY has collected some of his gems:
“A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.”
“Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.”
“Acquaintance. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.”
“Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.”
“All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.”
“An egotist is a person of low taste-more interested in himself than in me.”
“Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.”
“Consult: To seek approval for a course of action already decided upon.”
“Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.”
“It is evident that skepticism, while it makes no actual change in man, always makes him feel better.”
“Optimism: The doctrine that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong... It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.”
“Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.”
“War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.”
“What this country needs what every country needs occasionally is a good hard bloody war to revive the vice of patriotism on which its existence as a nation depends.”
“Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.”
It was steamy and still in New York City. Exhaust from the cabs and buses pressed down on the avenues and streets like a ratty, wool blanket salvaged from a fire. A storm was brewing – you could feel it building like an electrical charge, but the rain was still hours away.
I pushed out of the air conditioned confines of Two World Financial Center and bid my client a safe journey. He had a customer meeting in mid-town and barely remembered to acknowledge me before plowing into the backseat of a waiting taxi, which plunged into the surge of traffic.
I stood on the sidewalk, the heat from the pavement making the bottoms of my feet sweat, and stared across the West Side Highway at the tasteful fencing that divided the Financial District from Ground Zero. I felt a pitter-patter in my heart and it occurred to me that the elegant waterfront restaurant where we had dined was across the street from a murder hole.
No one had mentioned that fact during lunch.
I glanced at my watch. I was supposed to catch a plane back to Boston, but instead I crossed the street the next time the traffic light turned red. Perspiration coated my face and neck when I finally arrived on Liberty Street. I walked up to the chain link fence and looked down at this notorious place; this dead zone that once sprouted up proud buildings of shiny glass, steel, and concrete. A serious place – stern even, a place that once shunned frivolity. This had been a place laden with money, designed for commerce, and with a spirit so unyielding that it would crush those foolish enough to stand in its way.
That place went up in flames – turned to dust, vaporized in an instant. There’s no more twisted steel and piles of rubble. There’s no sense of destruction or pathos. Ground Zero is more like a well healed scab now; a bald spot on an otherwise healthy head of hair. The seriousness is gone. It is solemn now, not unlike stepping into the dark, hallowed foyer of an ancient cathedral.
People rush by. Cabs honk. A bus blunders by; gears grinding. The sun is hot and bright without the shade of the buildings. I try to conjure up the feelings I felt five years ago when I stood in the office of a colleague in a Boston high-rise and watched the first tower crash to the ground. Then it was surreal; the squeal from the throat of the receptionist next to me, and the voice of my former boss: “Jesus fucking Christ.”
It seemed like the world was ending back then. Planes dropping from the sky like meteors or toys hurled by an angry god. Certainly we had done something to deserve this furious fate. And I remembered the visceral fear that gnawed at my belly like a rat I had inadvertently swallowed whole at the building cafeteria.
I remembered looking out of my colleague’s office window at Logan Airport across the harbor. The sky was blue and clear and the airplanes had already been grounded, but I thought we were next. That a 747 would appear like a speck of cancer and grow and grow until the entire world would become an airplane wing and the last thing I would hear would be the explosion that would kill me.
We were vulnerable and scared. My building was evacuated and I drove home desperate to be with my wife. We huddled around the television, exchanging glances, and wondering what the hell was going on. The commentators told us everything had changed – and we believed them.
But standing at the edge of Ground Zero on this stifling summer day, looking down at the vacant lot that resembled a construction zone more than the final resting place of nearly 3,000 murdered people, I find it difficult to replicate those feelings. I searched for the fear and the anxiety – but it wouldn’t come.
And that was a good thing. We have wallowed in 9/11 for too long. We shouldn’t forget, but we’re on the verge of turning September 11 into a holiday for grief; a pity party for a strong, wealthy nation that should know better. It’s time to stop using 9/11 as an excuse – a crutch. We’re supposed to be better than that. Stronger. When you’re knocked to your knees, you stand up again.
It’s time to do that.
Thunder rumbles in the distance. The sky over lower Manhattan churns with inky black clouds. You can smell the rain now. I turn away from Ground Zero, my back a little straighter, my stride a bit wider. I hail a cab.
Neither the cabbie nor I mention the hole to the left of us. I tell him I want to go to the airport and he asks which one. I tell him and we drive away as the first fat drop of the storm splatters on the windshield.
The heatwave will be broken.
“Off there to the right – somewhere – is a large island,” said Whitney.
“It’s rather a mystery—”
“What island is it?” Rainsford
“The old charts call it ‘Ship-Trap Island,’” Whitney
replied. “A suggestive name, isn’t it? Sailors have a curious dread
of the place. I don’t know why. Some
“Can’t see it,” remarked Rainsford, trying to peer
through the dank tropical night that was palpable as it pressed its thick warm
blackness in upon the yacht.
“You’re good eyes,” said Whitney with
a laugh, “and I’ve seen you pick off a moose moving in the brown fall brush at
four hundred yards, but even you can’t see four miles or so through a moonless
- “McElligot’s Pool” by Dr. Seuss- “Encyclopedia Prehistorica Sharks and Other Sea Monsters: The Definitive Pop-Up” by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
- “The Courage to Be Rich: Creating a Life of Material and Spiritual Abundance” by Suze Orman (audio version)
- “Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies: Issue by Issue Responses to the Most Common Claims of the Left from A to Z” by Gregg Jackson (audio version)
- “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler and Charle Van Doren
- “SparkNotes: The Stranger”Vice President Cheney
-“Satanic Bible” by Anton Szandor Lavey and Peter H. Gilmore
- “60 Second Anger Management: Quick Tips to Handle Explosive Feelings” by Dr. Michael Hershorn
- “Precision Shooting at 1,000 Yards” by Dave Brennan
- “Born to be BAD” by Sherrilyn Kenyon
- “Hand Puppets: How to Make and Use Them” by Laura Ross
Security of Defense Rumsfeld
- "Saving Face: How to Lie, Fake, and Maneuver Your Way Out of Life’s Most Awkward Situations” by Andy Robin
- “The Rumsfeld Way: Leadership Wisdom of a Battle-Hardened Maverick” by Jeffrey A. Krames
- “The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking” by Dale Carnegie
- “Red-Hot Sex the Kama Sutra Way” by Emerson Richard
- “The Klan” by Patsy Sims
Secretary of State Rice
- “He’s Just Not That Into You: Your Daily Wake-up Call” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo
- “The Social Biology of Wasps” by Kenneth G. Ross and Robert W. Matthews
- “Lie Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Elisabeth Elliot
- "World Is Full of Married Men” by Jackie Collins
- “Swim with the Dolphins: How Women Can Succeed in Corporate America on Their Own Terms” By Connie Glaser and Barbara Steinberg Smalley
- “The Stranger” by Albert Camus
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