Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Month-Long Backlog

Getting married and going on a honeymoon to Bora Bora may be wonderful, but it doesn't help the blogging. So I wonder what's been happening in the past month...

- Britain seems to have an exploding car problem. Doctors seem to be responsible. Doctors, folks. Personally, I didn't think the Hippocratic Oath - "first, do no harm" - squared with the Terrorist Oath ("first, do as much harm as possible"). I guess if you're an incompetent terrorist, you actually do satisfy the former - which, fortunately for these deranged docs, was the case.

- Speaking of dumbass terrorists, Gaza managed to go completely feather-pluckin' insane. Here's what I think happened: the JIMF got pissed off, somehow kicked Fatah (and Abbas with it) out of Gaza, then had to engage in a prisoner swap with something called the Army of Islam (which appears to be six guys with a gun) to get some BBC reporter freed. Meanwhile, Israel invaded Gaza. Abbas seems to be perfectly okay with this. In fact, Hamas' takeover seems, in a perverse way, to have actually helped the peace process. If all the radicals get sucked into the black hole that is Gaza, West Bank moderates can be free from the rightward pressures that force them away from the bargaining table. This could lead to the beginnings of a Palestinian state in the West Bank with Abbas and the moderates at the helm - which would basically kill Hamas by demonstrating the ineffectiveness of their... well, I hesitate to call what Hamas does "tactics..."

It already seems to be working. Usually, the Israeli killing of a Palestinian militant gets met with what can only be described as darkly comical outrage - this time, it seems to have been met with a glorified "whatever."

- The immigration bill got revived some 88 times before finally being killed. Essentially, everyone in Congress seems to have forgotten that killing the bill is a vote for the status quo, which isn't exactly working out for us. Note to Congress: when you make the perfect the enemy of the good, you also make it the ally of the crappy. Do you want to be on the side of the crappy? Yeah, it was a flawed bill, but it had some good aspects to it, and would have made things at least a little bit better.

Related news - Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, who I usually like, just signed an anti-immigrant bill that even she admitted was a horrible bill. On the one hand, this is good - it signals a willingness to get things done even if the end result isn't exactly to your personal liking. On the other hand, if it's so awful that it needs to be amended severely before being enacted, why sign the damn thing now?

- The new airport security regulations don't provide any real security? No shit.

My favorite part: "In one test, TSA inspectors hid the components of a fake bomb in carry-on luggage that also contained a bottle of water. Passengers are prohibited from carrying containers holding more than three ounces of liquids, gels or aerosols through airport checkpoints. The screeners at Albany International confiscated the water bottle but missed the bomb."

- The Pope is partying like it's 1529.

- The coolest line in this article: "He passed through clouds. He said they were fluffy."


Pierce said...

Welcome back and congratulations again, my good man.

Can you really blame the pope? It seems like the whole point of dogmatic beliefs is that alternatives are wrong "just 'cause." How many protestant churches accept Catholicism any more openly? Anecdotally, I remember many discussions with protestants when I was in college in which I was told Catholicism wasn't even a "Christian" religion, let alone a valid form of Christianity.

This doesn't mean you can't work towards tolerance. Actually, it's probably better. "We're different but that's okay" is a true philosophical tolerance. "We're similar enough" isn't, because it just shifts the exclusion boundaries without promoting actual acceptance.

Ben said...

On Gaza - I heard an interesting news story on NPR about Hamas police cracking down on drug dealers and mobsters that corrupt Fatah police left alone. Not that this makes Hamas a better bargain overall, but sometimes I wish "moderates" had just a bit of Hamas's ideological purity...y'know enough to not be corrupt but not enough to go around killing Israelis.

On Catholicism - Gotta disagree with both Pierce and the Pope. As a Protestant, let me state for the record: Catholics are Christians. Catholics believe Jesus Christ is/was the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again and they believe the only means to a relationship with God is through Jesus. That's not to say the differences among Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians aren't big.....but they are all still Christians. So, yes, I can blame the Pope. I'm quite disappointed in him.

You're right that tolerance should mean "we're different but that's okay." That's why I - an unabashed evangelical Christian - count among my dearest friends Jews, Atheists, and folks with all sorts of unorthodox religious beliefs. I'd be kidding myself and them if I said my beliefs were really the same as theirs. But among Christians, more than tolerance should be sought. Unity should be the goal.

Pierce said...

Ben: what is the threshold at which differing beliefs become deal-breaking? For example, the catholics believe your sins aren't forgiven unless you confess to a priest. As I understand it, protestants believe it's a dialogue between the sinner and God. Assuming the sin is something hell-worthy, how can catholics square with a protestant going to heaven if he or she didn't repent through a middle-man? Fundamentally, a difference like this means that the catholic church must either abandon a doctrine, or establish that those who disagree are not on "a true path to salvation."

Why is it a priority to unify Christian churches beyond simple tolerance? And why does that priority end at belief in Jesus as savior? Wouldn't the same logic seek unity between all People of the Book? After all, they supposedly worship the same God and you could chalk up the rest as differences of implementation just like you suggest we do with the branches of Christianity.

It just seems to me that you either have to define religious doctrine as discrete and incompatible with other belief systems (which doesn't mean you can't tolerate their presence or have them as friends, etc), or you have to accept all paths to salvation as equally valid.

Michael said...

Welcome back, and congratulations on getting married.
Give it a few years, and you'll understand why they call marriage an institution...

The problem with Hamas's ideological purity is that killing Jews is central to it.

Matthew B. Novak said...

My response (to the Pope stuff) is finally up on my blog.