Tag Archives: fundamentalism

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.)

Female Circumcision in Indonesia

Go check out the article and the haunting photo essay at The New York Times Magazine. Oh, and this is done to 9-month-olds and 14-year-olds alike.

The procedure takes several minutes. There is little blood involved. Afterward, the girl’s genital area is swabbed with the antiseptic Betadine. She is then helped back into her underwear and returned to a waiting area, where she’s given a small, celebratory gift — some fruit or a donated piece of clothing — and offered a cup of milk for refreshment. She has now joined a quiet majority in Indonesia, where, according to a 2003 study by the Population Council, an international research group, 96 percent of families surveyed reported that their daughters had undergone some form of circumcision by the time they reached 14….

According to Lukman Hakim, [Assalaam Foundation’s] chairman of social services, there are three “benefits” to circumcising girls.

“One, it will stabilize her libido,” he said through an interpreter. “Two, it will make a woman look more beautiful in the eyes of her husband. And three, it will balance her psychology.”

Just Married! UNICEF’s Photo of the Year

He’s forty, she’s eleven. And they are a couple – the Afghan man Mohammed F.* and the child Ghulam H.*. “We needed the money”, Ghulam’s parents said. Faiz claims he is going to send her to school. But the women of Damarda village in Afghanistan’s Ghor province know better: “Our men don’t want educated women.” They predict that Ghulam will be married within a few weeks after her engagement in 2006, so as to bear children for Faiz.

Click here read the rest of the accompanying blurb and to see the Photo of the Year runners up.

Evangelicals encourage abandonment, torture and murder of “child witches”

I’m speechless. This photo essay from The Guardian brought tears to my eyes.

“In Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, evangelical preachers encourage people to believe children are witches, and abuse, abandonment and even murder follows.”

Above: “Ekemini Abia is 13. Her father tied her to a tree by her ankles and left her there. She was found, half-starved, over a week later.”

Guess how I feel about religion and religious beliefs right about now.

Should we “take this nation back for Christ”? Huckabee thinks so.

Do you know what a Christian Dominionist is? Mike Huckabee does and he wants certain voters to identify him as such. Christian Dominionists want “a nation governed by Christians or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law.”

Rolling Stone further expounds on dominionists:

Meet the Dominionists — biblical literalists who believe God has called them to take over the U.S. government…They want to rewrite schoolbooks to reflect a Christian version of American history, pack the nation’s courts with judges who follow Old Testament law, post the Ten Commandments in every courthouse and make it a felony for gay men to have sex and women to have abortions. In Florida, when the courts ordered Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube removed, it was the Dominionists who organized round-the-clock protests and issued a fiery call for Gov. Jeb Bush to defy the law and take Schiavo into state custody. Their ultimate goal is to plant the seeds of a “faith-based” government that will endure far longer than Bush’s presidency — all the way until Jesus comes back.”Most people hear them talk about a ‘Christian nation’ and think, ‘Well, that sounds like a good, moral thing,’ says the Rev. Mel White, who ghostwrote Jerry Falwell’s autobiography before breaking with the evangelical movement. “What they don’t know — what even most conservative Christians who voted for Bush don’t know — is that ‘Christian nation’ means something else entirely to these Dominionist leaders. This movement is no more about following the example of Christ than Bush’s Clean Water Act is about clean water.”

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Christian Purity Balls: All the creepiness of incest without the jail time!

Purity Balls are formal events in which a Christian teenaged girl pledges her sexual purity to her father until she takes a husband. The first time I saw a Purity Ball was during the excellent abstinence-only themed documentary, The Education of Shelby Knox. My reaction was visceral. When the tux-wearing father gave the gown wearing-daughter a purity ring, it became clear the ceremony is designed to mimic a wedding; the inference of a father marrying his teenaged daughter kicked me in the gut and repulsed me on many levels.

Eve Ensler describes Purity Balls succinctly: “When you sign a pledge to your father to preserve your virginity, your sexuality is basically being taken away from you until you sign yet another contract, a marital one…It makes you feel like you’re the least important person in the whole equation. It makes you feel invisible.”

Considering this new tradition traces its roots back to bronze-age times when women were property on the level of cows and land, I find it ironic that the only decent YouTube video on the subject comes from the al-Jazeera show Everywoman. Watch for yourself (the Purity Ball segment ends at around 6:30 into the clip):

So, how tied is our foreign policy to the Biblical “Rapture”?

I’ve wanted to post about this recent Max Blumenthal video blog called Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians United for Israel Tour.

Scarry stuff.

But CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of [pastor John] Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers – Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. – must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation. Over a dozen CUFI members eagerly revealed to me their excitement at the prospect of Armageddon occurring tomorrow. Among the rapture ready was Republican Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

More context on my question from The Guardian: George Bush: ‘God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq’.