Wednesday, March 05, 2008

WND changes its name

To Weird Nutcase Patrol (they can still keep all their monograms, but they have to add a line under the D)

A few of the wackier tidbits from the past week or so:

- First, Hal Lindsey uses cloning to talk about Biblical eugenics.

At the rate human knowledge is expanding, it won't belong before the brain's electrical impulses can be captured and imaged the way a hard drive is today, in effect, storing "you" in a digital format.

Actually I'm pretty sure that's nowhere close to correct.

And it won't be much longer after that before some whiz kid figures a way to transfer that image.

Add cloning to the mixture and the result would be a form of immortality. One could theoretically clone endless "blanks" of oneself and, barring violent death, live forever. It might be expensive, but how much is too much – if the alternative is death, anyway?

Hal, you really need to stop watching reruns of Star Trek Deep Space 9 at 3 am before your columns are due.

But it gets better.

And then there is the possibility of endless cloning. Again, no reason to replenish the earth, and whatever the child of a clone might be, he would not be in the strictest sense of the word, "human." (If there really were no difference, there'd be no word for "clone.")
How would we tell? Would it really matter?

Within a few generations, the human race would be hopelessly contaminated, assuming there were any meaningful human reproduction at all.

"Meaningful reproduction?" First these Christians are mad because people aren't having sex for reproduction, now they're mad because cloning will make reproductive sex less meaningful. Geez, for a bunch of prudes you guys sure are mighty interested in what's happening in people's bedrooms.

According to Genesis 6:1-6, the "sons of God" intermarried with "the daughters of men" and produced offspring that Genesis calls "giants" and "mighty men of renown." Genesis 6:9 records that Noah was found to be a "just" man and "perfect in his generations," i.e., untainted by the hybrid genes introduced into the human bloodline. Genesis 6:12 says that by this time, "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth."

God saved Noah and his family alive and destroyed the hybrid population by sending the Flood.

Yeah, that was close. Wouldn't want any giants or mighty men around screwing up our super-selective bloodline. (Get your butt back in the cage, Yao Ming! No reproduction for you.)

As surprising and painful as it may be, it turns out Hal is actually kind of right on this one- "kind of" being the key term.

Ginzburg's Legends of the Jews has the text:

Chiefly the fallen angels and their giant posterity caused the depravity of mankind. The blood spilled by the giants cried unto heaven from the ground, and the four archangels accused the fallen angels and their sons before God, whereupon He gave the following orders to them: Uriel was sent to Noah to announce to him that the earth would be destroyed by a flood...

The funny thing is, the midrash seems to place most of the blame for the fallen angels "falling" in the first place not on their own corrupt nature, but rather on the fact that the "daughters of men" were hussies.

Naamah, the lovely sister of Tubal-cain, led the angels astray with her beauty, and from her union with Shamdon sprang the devil Asmodeus. She was as shameless as all the other descendants of Cain, and as prone to bestial indulgences. Cainite women and Cainite men alike were in the habit of walking abroad naked, and they gave themselves up to every conceivable manner of lewd practices. Of such were the women whose beauty and sensual charms tempted the angels from the path of virtue. The angels, on the other hand, no sooner had they rebelled against God and descended to earth than they lost their transcendental qualities, and were invested with sublunary bodies, so that a union with the daughters of men became possible. The offspring of these alliances between the angels and the Cainite women were the giants, known for their strength and their sinfulness; as their very name, the Emim, indicates, they inspired fear. They have many other names. Sometimes they go by the name Rephaim, because one glance at them made one's heart grow weak; or by the name Gibborim, simply giants, because their size was so enormous that their thigh measured eighteen ells; or by the name Zamzummim, because they were great masters in war; or by the name Anakim, because they touched the sun with their neck; or by the name Ivvim, because, like the snake, they could judge of the qualities of the soil; or finally, by the name Nephilim, because, bringing the world to its fall, they themselves fell.

So all this suggests that the root cause of the bad genes infiltrating the human genepool actually came from Cain's very own- and very human- descendants. Interesting.

- Next up is Pat Boone, who is taking a page from his pal Chuck Norris' playbook and deciding to brush up on his "Witch of Endor" impression. Except unlike Chuck, who used his necromancy powers to find out who the Founding Fathers would have voted for, Pat just cranks out a masturbatory conversation with Thomas Jefferson. (Hint: It's been done, Pat. Stick to singing, or whatever the hell it is you do.)

A few gems:

"It's hard to say exactly, Mr. Jefferson, but we have teacher organizations that make the decisions about what will be taught, and what won't … and they've decided that their new ideas of what America ought to be are more important now than how we actually came to be a free and independent democracy."

First of all, it's totally reasonable that educators be part of the process of determining teaching material- who else should decide, Pat? You? Second, new media and technology are actually making American history (even the selective examples you cite that only involve wig-wearing white men) more accessible, not less. Ever hear of the History Channel?

"You're telling me that the teachers of today find our intentions, our sacrifices and our purposes of so little consequence that the younger generation doesn't need to know about them? How do they expect to preserve what we created? What will be their guide?"

"Oh, their newer ideas, more recent philosophies, what other countries and societies are doing. One of our most recent Supreme Court justices – a woman, which might surprise you, Mr. Jefferson – actually suggested we should learn from legal decisions and positions in Europe and try to conform to them."

"In Europe? Don't they realize it was precisely the conformist, humanist, even dictatorial philosophies of Europe we wanted to be free of? That America was intentionally founded on unique precepts that could guarantee the God-endowed rights of man and not dictate them?..."

First of all, the Founders were cribbing plenty from European counterparts and predecessors like Locke, Rousseau and Paine, not to mention stuff like the Magna Carta. Second, I don't see how you can praise the inventiveness and creativity of the American Revolution and the Constitution and then pooh-pooh "new ideas." What the hell, Pat? Like all the good ideas stopped after 1776? Isn't that why we have amendments?

Pat goes on to have Tommy talk about various issues relating to the establishment clause. No surprise, they totally agree on every point. Shocking. What is interesting is that Pat is totally silent about Jefferson's other most well-known work besides the Constitution and Declaration of Independence- the Jefferson Bible. Must just be an oversight.

- If you can stand it, there's more. Chuck Norris claims Oprah is deliberately promoting some random weirdo and his psuedo-religion during spring as a way to undermine Easter. As if people selling me gigantic bunnies and eggs in February weren't doing that already.

I completely respect everyone's First Amendment rights to choose their religion of choice. But I also recognize the First Amendment rights to speak freely against what I and so many others deem as errant and spiritually unsafe. We can all agree to disagree agreeably, but that doesn't turn an aberrant spiritual opinion into almighty religious truth.

With this live webcast running through the very heart of one of Christendom's most sacred seasons of the year (including Lent, Palm Sunday, Easter and Pentecost), the queen of daytime talk is preaching from a primetime pulpit, from which she is heralding to the world community, "Get ready to be awakened!"

But is it merely a coincidence that Winfrey's and Tolle's spiritual quest aligns with this special religious time of year? It is yet one more evidence of the paradigm shift in our culture from its moral absolute and Judeo-Christian basis to a relativistic worldview in which anything goes and everything is tolerated.

There are no moral absolutes, Chuckie. Just like there's no such thing as Judeo-Christianity. Or a good episode of Walker: Texas Ranger. But I digress.
Like most self-help spiritual texts of this type, it is a blend of half truths and half fabrications.
Like say, faith healing? Or do you mean the prosperity gospel?

Chuck concludes with the famous quote from C.S. Lewis about how you can't cop-out and call Jesus a great teacher. You can only say he was God (or Messiah, or God and Messiah, or the Messiah and some kind of mini-quasi-God), a liar, or crazy. Of course, this sort of "deep" argumentation only works for people that actually feel some sort of obligation to portray Jesus as a good guy. (Incidentally, had he been totally nuts that still wouldn't be HIS personal failing, per se- people can't necessarily control their own mental illness.)

Personally, I have a different view: Jesus, if he was historical at all, was probably a teacher with some radical ideas who cribbed from earlier Jewish teachers (cough cough Hillel), and over time, his followers distorted his image- and message- to something pretty different.

-Lastly, WND's co-editor David Kuppelian wants us all to know that America is under attack. By liberals? No. Muslims? Nuh-uh. Communists? Wrong. No, Dave knows that all these things are just distractions. The biggest threat to America right now is... witchcraft.

That's right, and, surprise surprise, Dave's not down with the witch-crowd:
Most readers, I suspect, are slightly relieved to hear that the "Wiccan Rede" ["An it harm none, do what you will,"] prohibits witches from harming others – although the "rede" (or rule) is more akin to the '60s hippie counterculture ethic ("Like, I can do whatever I want, dude, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else – you dig?") than the much nobler Golden Rule.
Funny, it makes me think of the Hippocratic Oath.

Dave's journalistic integrity comes out in other subtle ways:

what about spells and magic circles and strange rituals?

You mean like speaking in tongues? Or exorcisms?

"OK, whatever," you might well say. "But where do the moon-lit sex orgies fit in?"

What's this "you" stuff? I'm not the sex-obsessed, culturally insensitive douchebag you seem to think I am, Dave. Besides, plenty of other religions think sex is not just not sinful, but also emulates the divinity of creation- the Kabbalists in Judaism, or certain groups of Hindus come to mind.
So, what seems to a mere muggle (that's "Harry Potter" lingo for a non-magical person) as just a chance to have sex in the woods, to a Wiccan has a much more sacred purpose – that of unifying and integrating the practitioners' inner selves through the union of opposite polar energies. And if that isn't highfalutin enough for you, one Wiccan website explains the Great Rite as "the opening of the gateway to the womb of the Goddess that the Self may be reborn."

So, a ton of people smearing burned palm leaves on their foreheads, that's fine, and a bunch of other people going without food for a day or bread products for a week, that makes perfect sense, and Hindus can worship cows and Buddhists can believe in reincarnation, and Mormons can baptize the dead by proxy, but if you have hanky-panky in the woods, your religion is suddenly off the "quasi-legitimate list?" It must be nice to have such clearly defined standards. As a good Christian, I'm sure Dave's come from the Bible (maybe even that stupid Geneva Bible his website has been hawking since last year). Now if only he'd be kind enough to point me to the "no sex in the woods" commandment.

Dave also doesn't like Wiccan spells, suggesting they are silly, arbitrary, and useless. No word on whether he intends to hold other forms of prayer to the same standard.

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