Tag Archives: christianity

Notes from the Underground

Here’s a round up of links I wanted to do full posts on, but don’t have time.

1.) Neurogenesis: your body creates new brain cells. Aerobic exercise increases neurogenesis and helps fight mental illnesses (like depression), senility, and Alzheimer’s.

But something else happened as a result of all those workouts: blood flowed at a much higher volume to a part of the brain responsible for neurogenesis. Functional M.R.I.’s showed that a portion of each person’s hippocampus received almost twice the blood volume as it did before. Scientists suspect that the blood pumping into that part of the brain was helping to produce fresh neurons.

The hippocampus plays a large role in how mammals create and process memories; it also plays a role in cognition. If your hippocampus is damaged, you most likely have trouble learning facts and forming new memories. Age plays a factor, too. As you get older, your brain gets smaller, and one of the areas most prone to this shrinkage is the hippocampus. (This can start depressingly early, in your 30’s.) Many neurologists believe that the loss of neurons in the hippocampus may be a primary cause of the cognitive decay associated with aging. A number of studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia tend to have smaller-than-normal hippocampi. The Columbia study suggests that shrinkage to parts of the hippocampus can be slowed via exercise.

2.) I don’t agree with Obama regarding his new call to expand federal aid to faith-based programs, but at least read what he said and don’t rely on media reports:

Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.

That doesn’t mean that the federal funds can’t be used to free up other money that will be used on discriminatory and proselytizing activities.

3.) Hitchens get’s waterboarded – Is this the Christian fundie wet dream, or are they dissapointed that Dawkins and Harris weren’t tortured as well? Hitchens has been unappolagetic pro-war and a proponent of waterboarding. Now he says, “believe me, it’s torture”.

4.) This MTV Choose or Loose election commercial is funny.

5.) A Christian “news” service changes Olympian Tyson Gay’s name to “Tyson Homosexual”. Ha! Fundies say the darndest things!

6.) Two years out and people still express “disgust” and “outrage” over New Orleans Katrina looters (see this famous pic). Why doesn’t anyone talk about the racist vigilantes? Watch this clip from the excellent Danish documentary Welcome to New Orleans. (Watch the complete film, a story of how self reliance and private citizen volunteerism filled a need medical care needs despite the government’s efforts to stop it, @ Google Vide0.)

The Final MLK Post

I got sidetracked this week and I wanted to write a coda to my MLK series; instead, I’ll close in brief. There’s so much material out there, so it will leave me plenty of room for a part 2. Or parts 3, 4, 5, etc. I hope someone learned something and or I slightly changed someone’s view on Dr King.

A freind and I talked about this last week. It’s Robert Kennedy announcing to an Indiana crowd that King had been shot. I’m a little frustrated because I couldn’t find the exact footage I wanted on YouTube, but little is lost in the video below. The thing that sticks out in my mind are those blood-curdling screams of horror when King’s death is announced.

An excerpt:

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

One last thing. Most of you know U2 wrote “Pride (In the Name of Love)” about King – see John Legend’s take in this series’s first post – you may not know they ended the same album, The Unforgettable Fire, with the haunting “MLK”. Listen here.

MLK: Assassination Conspiracy Trial

THE COURT: In answer to the question did Loyd Jowers participate in a conspiracy to do harm to Dr. Martin Luther King, your answer is yes. Do you also find that others, including governmental agencies, were parties to this conspiracy as alleged by the defendant? Your answer to that one is also yes. And the total amount of damages you find for the plaintiffs entitled to is one hundred dollars. Is that your verdict?

THE JURY: Yes.

The Kings v. Jowers. December 8, 1999. From the trial’s transcript posted at The King Center.

MLK: James Brown “Saved” Boston

Martin Luther King was assasinated on April 4, 1968. By April 5, riots were tearing apart major American cities. Not Boston.

Mayor Kevin White** engineered a a deal that allowed Brown to perform and the legendary local PBS station to carry the show live. Everyone stayed home. Brown’s concert has been local legend for years, and now with the 40th anniversery of King’s death, VH1 has produced a rockDoc on the Boston show.

The Boston Phoenix calls this the greatest concert in Boston history:

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, America’s greatest civil-rights leader, was assassinated in Memphis. Violence erupted in major cities across the county as African-Americans, who had already endured so much, reacted to the loss of a leader who was both spiritual and practical. Mayor Kevin White panicked. Although Boston wasn’t literally burning, like Detroit or Los Angeles, it was approaching an ignition point. He considered canceling all public events, including a James Brown concert at the Garden. Fortunately, his advisers suggested that stopping the show would be viewed as yet another stifling of black expression and could easily start the very rioting they’d hoped to avoid. The mayor made history by meeting with Brown and asking if they could work together to keep the peace. He was less lucky with the local affiliates of the three major TV networks, who all declined to broadcast the show, according to music historian Dick Waterman. Instead, the PBS station, WGBH, stepped in so Brown’s music could reach beyond the Garden’s 14,000 seats and into the living rooms of everyone in Greater Boston. The show was an absolute tour de force. Brown soothed his mourning audience by dedicating the concert to Dr. King and delivering a million-watt performance packed with greats: “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” “Cold Sweat,” “That’s Life,” “Try Me,” “Please, Please, Please,” and more. He invited White to speak to the crowd and the cameras. And when police reacted to fans who rushed the stage at one point, Brown assured them he could handle things himself, pleading, successfully, for everyone to return to their seats. On this night, music literally helped determine the course of Boston’s history. Continue reading

MLK: Portrait of the Martyr as a Young Man

King at 27.. This man had a doctorate from Boston University and was getting arrested and risking his life in order to build a better America for all people at the age of 27. He was murdered at 39.

“Why I’m Opposed to the War in [Insert Nation Here]”

For those of you who may not be familiar with MLK after “I Have a Dream”, it’s often surprising to know he held some radical views. This speech by King, delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967, is called Why I’m Opposed to the War in Vietnam.

King’s anti-Vietnam speeches caused him to be disinvited from the White House and disallowed from giving scheduled college lectures. The mainstream turned it’s back on King and Time magazine rebuked his words as “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi” .

This speech is worth a careful watch or close read; its contemporary relevance is arresting.

Some choice excerpts:

  • Now, I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal. Continue reading

Today is ther 40th anniversery of MLK’s execution

I want to blog about it, but I short on time right now. Watch this space for further developments.

In the meantime, enjoy this moving mashup of Dr. King and U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”.Please take a moment to watch carefully and reflect.

UPDATE: OMFG! I just found this video of John Legend singing “Pride” to a civil rights montage promoting an upcoming History Channel special. God damn I love John Legend.