There's a lot of controversy going on currently
(whether real or media-manufactured - who can tell anymore?) about
the new Mel Gibson film, 'The Passion', basically telling
Jesus' story as recounted in The Gospel of John. The few
clips I've seen of the film are suggesting a neo-realistic interpretation,
in the manner that 'Unforgiven' and 'Lonesome Dove'
were neo-Westerns, and 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Thin
Red Line' were a neo-WWII films - ( i.e. you-are-there, Jesus
leaves a gruesome trail of blood as he stand before Pilate and
you can practically feel the spike being driven into his palm.)
There are rising allegations of anti-Semitism from some Jewish
scholars, who apparently haven't seen the film yet (to be released
in 2004) but have had access to the final screenplay. (One resurgent
argument is that the entire New Testament could be interpreted
to be anti-Semitic. Might as well throw in some anti-Italian while
we're at it! )
People may remember the pickets and protests around Scorsese's 'The Last Temptation of Christ.' I had to wade through a wall of Greek orthodox women in black dresses holding up placards saying 'SCORSESE IS THE ANTI-CHRIST' just to get in the Russell St Cinema here in Melbourne. The best thing about Scorsese's film to me was Mary Magdalene's tattoos and Peter Gabriel's music score. Wilhem Dafoe seemed more believable sucking necks as Nosferatu, and behind the porno camera in 'Autofocus' than hanging up there on the Cross.
I'm looking forward to 'The Passion'. I've heard the film is in Aramaic with English subtitles (indicating it is not pandering strictly to commercial guidelines) and Jesus is finally being played by a real Middle Eastern looking Jew, as he was in real life, rather than another English thespian or whitebread Aryan future Republican hopeful. As Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys' famous song long ago foretold, 'They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.'
(I've recommended a book below about Nietzsche's sister, Elisabeth, and her bizarre life, if you want to read a little known but very important story about some really confused anti-Semites.)
I also agree with Bill Hicks' comment that it's a shame that the Crucifix is the prime contemporary symbol of Jesus' message. When I think of what Christ, Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr had in common - what really inspires me - I don't think of the Cross. I think of something more having to do with Hope. Hope when faced with an unbelievably hopeless and despairing situation. The Cross, by itself, is like Part I without Part II. Of course, it's hard to find an image for Hope. We need different senses to access it, other than the Basic Five. (Is Creative Imagination a sense?)
The Dove is a slightly better symbol. Or maybe the Fish. (You get the idea.) Of course, we'd have to change some of the hand movements for the Sign of the Cross. The Sign of the Dove, for instance, would need some flapping arms in there for wings and the Sign of the Fish - maybe casting a net or something.
A lot of US rightwing Christian fundamentalists use one primary phrase, attributed to Christ, to justify warlike thinking -
But if you read on for the context of that sentence:
Taking a sword to ones mother-in-law ain't such a bad idea, but here the word sword is used simply as a symbol for the person encouraged to think for themselves - to cut themselves free of the constrictions of family pressure to conformity. This phrase was never intended to justify war and killing but was clearly intended to strengthen the spirits of those who were taking difficult positions against the accepted, and in Jesus' view, excessive and corrupt organized religion they found all around him, the moneylenders in the temples - even the spiritual apathy in the home.
- but my favourite Gospel, and the one that I believe will endure long after the others have been relegated to myths (in the manner of the Greek and Roman religious myths) is JS Bach's St Matthew Passion. If they want to call George Martin the 'Fifth Beatle' ( I prefer to refer to the Beatles as the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th George Martins) - then Bach's Passion was certainly the Fifth Gospel. He was a profound musical mystic whose soundtrack transcends the libretto while also lifting it into a sublime, more empowering and enduring atmosphere.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a simple gospel song based on what I imagined Jesus' mother, Mary, might have thought when she first saw her son crucified, called 'Lower Jesus.' Lyrics.
And, one of my favourite and weirdest cover versions, of the 35 or so versions I know of, of my song, 'Shaddap You Face', was written by Mrs Liz Luva, for the Clontarf Beach Baptist Church Vacation Bible School. Here are the words, which are sung to the original tune:
Donald Rumsfeld died and went to heaven. As he stood in front of St. Peter, he asked, "What are all those clocks?"
St. Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move."
"Oh," said Rumsfeld, "Whose clock is that?"
"That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie."
"Incredible," said Rumsfeld. "And whose clock is that one?"
St. Peter responded, "That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire life."
Where's Bush's clock?" asked Rumsfeld.
"Bush's clock is in Jesus' office. He's
using it as a ceiling fan."
(Thanks to Mairied Sullivan)
Power of Presidency Resides in Language
as Well as Law
By RENANA BROOKS
George W. Bush is generally regarded as a mangler of the English language.
What is overlooked is his mastery of emotional language -- especially negatively charged emotional language -- as a political tool. Take a closer look at his speeches and public utterances and his political success turns out to be no surprise. It is the predictable result of the intentional use of language to dominate others.
Bush, like many dominant personality types, uses dependency-creating language. He employs language of contempt and intimidation to shame others into submission and desperate admiration.
While we tend to think of the dominator as using physical force, in fact most dominators use verbal abuse to control others. Abusive language has been a major theme of psychological researchers on marital problems, such as John Gottman, and of philosophers and theologians, such as Josef Pieper.
But little has been said about the key role it has come to play in political discourse and in such "hot media" as talk radio and television.
Bush uses several dominating linguistic techniques
to induce surrender to his will. The first is empty language.
This term refers to broad statements that are so abstract and
mean so little that they are virtually impossible to oppose. (More)
(Thanks to Eileen Crean)
Amnesty International Call to Action
Hearing on AMINA LAWAL SET TO BE STONED ON - 27 AUGUST 2003
This is important.
The Nigerian Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for Amina Lawal, condemned for the crime of adultery on August 19th 2002, to be buried up to her neck and stoned to death. Her death was postponed so that she could continue to nurse her baby. Hearing on her Execution is now set for 27 AUGUST 2003.
Amina confessed to having had a child while divorced. Pregnancy outside of marriage constitutes sufficient evidence for a woman to be convicted of adultery according to the new Shari'ah-based penal code for Muslims, introduced in Katsina state.
If you haven't been following this case, you
might like to know that Amina's baby is regarded as the 'evidence'
of her adultery. Amina's case is being handled by the Spanish
branch of Amnesty International, which is attempting to put together
enough signatures to make the Nigerian government rescind the
death sentence. A similar campaign saved another Nigerian woman,
Safiya, condemned in similar circumstances. By March 4th, the
petition had amassed over 2,600,000 signatures. It will only take
you a few seconds to sign Amnesty's online petition. Please sign
the petition now, then copy this message into a new email and
send it to everyone in your address book. Go to the web page:
Thanks for reading this. Please take the time to sign the petition. (Note: I've just done this. It takes about 5 seconds. Joe.)
(Thanks to Stefan Abeysekera)
Go to the following site and click on the TOP
GUN link for an exciting ride through Dubya's military CV:
(Thanks to Mairied Sullivan and Joe Simonetta)
C-SPAN is a private, non-profit company, created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a public service whose mission is to provide public access to the political process.
This is an excellent online archival site for
downloading videotaped speeches of Dennis Kucinich and
others, including many addresses by authors and novelists. Just
type the name of the person you are looking for in the Video Search
Box. C-span Site
'Working Families Presidential Forum'
Watch the recent and exciting AFL-CIO Unions
forum and debate with all nine of the Democratic candidates:
Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun
Governor Howard Dean
Senator John Edwards
Congressman Dick Gephardt
Senator Bob Graham
Senator John Kerry
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Boy, did Dennis the Menace shake them up. What a speaker!)
Senator Joe Lieberman
Reverend Al Sharpton (I like Al, too! He was late arriving but broke everyone up when took the stage saying: ' I'm late because I had a non-union cabdriver!')
Moderator: Bob Edwards. Five subjects. Questions
directed from the workers. 90 second replies. President Bush was
invited but declined. Debate
Jerry Springer's Speech
'Jerr-EY Jerr-EY' has declined to run for the
US Senate in the upcoming election. ( Aw! Now he would make an
interesting President. He could have Press Conferences from his
show and have people like Bill Clinton, Hillary and Monica Lewinski
on 'live' to sort things out.)
'Forgotten Fatherland - The Search for Elisabeth
Ben MacIntyre, Macmilian, London 1992.
Around 1886, Elisabeth Nietzsche, the bigoted, imperious sister of the famous philosopher, together with her husband, anti-Semitic agitator, Bernhard Forster, (kicked out of Germany, at that time, can you believe it, for being too anti-Semetic) took a band of 14 fair-skinned fellow German bigots and their families and founded a "racially pure" colony in Paraguay that they christened "Nueva Germania." (This was about the same time that a "New Australia Colony" was also being established in Paraguay by ex-pats from Down Under.)
In 1991, Macintyre, previously a foreign-affairs
reporter for Britain's Sunday Correspondent, went to Paraguay.
He vividly recounts the sights and sounds of the villages and
jungles, and the flora and fauna he encountered tracking down
the survivors. He found a strange, tight-lipped people, still
interbreeding to the point of genetic deterioration. Their purpose
had been to escape a Fatherland they believed to be in serious
decline and to live in a place where their beliefs -- anti-Semitism,
vegetarianism, nationalism, and Lutheranism -- could flourish.
Descendants of the original settlers, many hooked on yerba mate
tea, and remnants of Forster's decayed colonial mansion built
for Elisabeth Nietzsche, now relegated, appropriately, to the
village pig sty, still remain. Paraguayan neighbors still call
them 'the lost people.'
Digging into recently opened German archives, Macintyre tells how Elisabeth Nietzsche, returning to Germany in 1893, grafted her anti-Semitic, nationalist ideas onto her brother Friedrich's philosophy, building a mythic cult around him. (Friedrich, by this time, was already long gone in ga-ga land at the local asylum.)
She, later, at 80, became a mentor to Hitler; her stately funeral in 1935 was attended by a tearful Fuhrer. Laced with mordant irony, Macintyre's brilliant piece of investigative journalism adds weight to the view, shared by many scholars, that the Nazis' use of Nietzsche's ideas to justify their evil deeds and doctrines was a perversion of his thought.
Tech Support: Yes Ma'am... how can I help you?
Customer: Well, after much consideration, I've decided to install Love. Can you guide me though the process?
Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you
ready to proceed?
Customer: Well, I'm not very technical, but I think I'm ready. What do I do first?
Tech Support: The first step is to open your
Heart. Have you located your Heart ma'am?
Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?
Tech Support: What programs are running ma'am?
Customer: Let's see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge, Resentment and Anger running right now.
Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually
erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain
in your permanent memory, but it will no longer disrupt other
programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a
module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to
completely turn off Grudge, Resentment and Anger. Those programs
prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those
Customer: I don't know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?
Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start
menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary
until Grudge, Resentment and Anger have completely erased.
Customer: Okay, done! Love has started to install itself. Is that normal?
Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have
only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts
in order to get the upgrades.
Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, "Error - program not run on external components." What should I do?
Tech Support: Don't worry ma'am. It means that
the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has
not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply
means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.
Customer: So, what should I do?
Tech Support: Can you pull down Self-Acceptance;
then click on the following files: Forgive-Self; Realize Your
Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.
Customer: Okay, done.
Tech Support: Now, copy them to the "My
Heart" directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting
files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to
delete Negative Self-Talk and Judging Others from all directories
and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone
and never comes back.
Customer: Got it. Hey!!! My Heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?
Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes
awhile, but eventually everything gets it at the proper time.
So now Love is installed and running.. One more thing before we
hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various
modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with
others and return some cool modules and Love Upgrades back to
Customer: I promise to do just that. By the way, what's your name?
Tech Support: Just call me the Divine Cardiologist,
or just "I AM." Most people feel all they need is an
annual checkup to stay heart-healthy; but, the manufacturer (ME)
suggests a daily maintenance schedule for maximum Love efficiency.
(Thanks to Rupert Guenther)
Cooking - Party Appetizers
I learned the next two bobby-dazzlers from Nigella Lawson.
Rosemary Spiced Nuts
Simple and ingenious way to prepare nuts.
Take a couple of cups of mixed nuts, roast them in the oven until they start to get brown. Remove from oven, place in a bowl and set aside.
Mix 1/4 cup Muscova sugar, some salt, some cayenne pepper and some very, very finely chopped fresh rosemary in a bowl. Melt some butter in a frying pan, stir the mixed spices until the sugar melts, toss the nuts in with the spices and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish.
Halloumi Cheese with Cayenne Pepper
Slice some Halloumi Cheese (traditional cheese
of Cyprus) into 1/4 inch slices. Fry the cheese in an oil-less
pan until seared on each side. Place on serving dish, sprinkle
generously with olive oil and cayenne pepper. Squeeze a half of
lemon over the top and serve.
(Note: Nigella marinates some cut red chillies with the olive oil for about an hour - omitting the cayenne pepper.)