religion


Check out this story from MSNBC:  Rachel Ray ad pulled as pundit sees terror link.  Food Network celeb Rachel Ray has been doing some commercials for Dunkin’ Donuts.  In one Dunkin’ Donuts TV ad, she appears with a black and white scarf around her neck.  Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin claims that the scarf is an Arab kaffiyeh and says that it’s a symbol of terrorism.  What a load of shit!  But the dumbest part of the whole issue is that Dunkin’ Donuts decided to cave into the Fox News propaganda machine and pulled the ad, even though the company explained that the scarf was not a kaffiyeh.  My question is, so what if it was?  Now a piece of clothing makes someone a terrorist?  What has this country come to that we make decisions based on silly fictional statements blurted from the mouths of people who want to stir our hatred?

Taking a chill pill,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

Hope you’re enjoying the jellybeans, chocolate eggs, and peeps, along with any get-togethers you may have with family and friends. It’s a beautiful, sunny Easter in Morrison County – just the respite we needed after the snow.

Even a fish needs a holiday once in a while,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

I’ve taken a couple of trips to the Twin Cities lately.  For those of you unfamiliar with our Minnesota lingo, the term ‘Twin Cities’ refers to Minneapolis and St. Paul, which are joined at the hip physically, but have distinct personalities.

On I-94, going south, I saw a billboard near Rogers.  It’s a simple billboard, with a picture of Al Gore and the words:  “an inconvenient truth: Gore Lies, Gets Nobel Prize?”  The billboard is sponsored by GlobalClimateScam.com.  I suppose they think the question mark gets them off the hook for libel.

When I see something this blatantly accusatory, I’ve got to know who is behind it.  So, when I got home, I looked up GlobalClimateScam.com.  The purpose of the group is to debunk the role human activity plays in global warming.  From the group’s About page:

“Mankind has a moral obligation to be a responsible steward of God’s creation for the good of future generations.  Protecting and preserving our earth’s ecosystems must remain a high priority for citizens of every nation.

“However, we oppose the alarmist agenda employed by most global warming “evangelists.”  In many cases, their agendas are based upon questionable scientific data and erroneous claims about global climate change. They claim the “science is settled” when, in fact, it is not.  Scientists do not agree on the cause of climate change, the role of carbon dioxide (CO2), the degree to which man contributes to atmospheric CO2, and whether global warming is anything other than a naturally occurring phenomenon. 

“Global climate changes have been occurring for centuries.  Global warming is most likely occurring today.  But there is much evidence to suggest that temperature fluctuations are part of a natural cycle of climate change, not man-made causes.  To conclude that man bears the brunt of the blame for rising temperatures is morally irresponsible and politically reckless.  Nature itself produces the greatest contributions to climate change.”

Note the use of the words ‘mankind’ and ‘God’ and the complete absolution of human beings for causing global warming.  Sounds awfully neo-conservative to me.  I dug a little further, noting that GlobalClimateScam.com was sponsored by the Minnesota Majority.  Upon arriving at Minnesota Majority’s home page, I discovered that their tagline is “Standing Together for Traditional Values.”

The term ‘traditional values’ is typical neo-con jargon and means that the group is all for legislating how people live their private lives (i.e. no abortions ever! no gay marriage ever!  follow our Christian religion and the morals we set forth always!), while at the same time claiming they want government out of our lives.  They want to allow the free market to reign unchecked and if you’re not wealthy, well then, it’s your own damn fault.  It’s the whole “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and agree with my way of thinking, but I’m not going to give you any boots” philosophy.  (Check out the site’s drop-down menu under Our Principles for the full screed.)

Funny thing, that.  I’m a Minnesotan, but I’m not a part of their majority.  I disagree with the Minnesota Majority on pretty much everything they stand for.  While it might be understandable that this li’l ol’ fish might fall into a minority of thought in the state, why is it that our state consistently seems to be a blend of both liberal and conservative values, as seen in the way we elect our government officials?  Could it be that we have two majorities?

Beware of who you allow to speak for you.  Now, the Freedom of Speech right the Minnesota Majority supports is something I can ascribe to (although I’m pretty sure the group is not going to like what I have to say).

As for the idea that human beings have nothing to do with global warming, I think I’ll listen to the ice core samples scientists have pulled out of the Antarctic that show elevated levels of carbon dioxide trapped in the ice at the point that the American Industrial Revolution started.

With frosted fins,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

A warning for all you fishies out there:  Watch your tail fins.  It’s the season of Lent and Friday Fish Fries are all the rage.

Darting madly about the pond,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

The donkey has been stolen from the manger scene on display at Lindbergh Elementary School in Little Falls, MN. So reports the Morrison County Record in its December 23, 2007, edition. The baby Jesus has been stolen twice before, so the Lindbergh Lions, who sponsor and take care of the display, didn’t bother to put him out this year. What good is a manger scene without the Christ child?

Some might condemn me for finding this incredibly humorous. What lends humor to the situation is the ransom note left behind by the “twisted sisters,” who want a million dollars in Monopoly money, three live chickens, “7 maids a milken, and a pare tree,” and for “sexy to be brought back,” whatever that means. Oh, and they want some smokes, too. A pack of Marlboro Red 100s.

What the “twisted sisters” don’t realize is that they may have hit upon a solution to all the enmity caused by displaying Christian scenes and symbols on public property. If pranksters start stealing the symbols and scenes, people will think twice before displaying them.

While I take no issue with religious organizations displaying items of faith on private property (their own, or that of consenting property owners), I do take issue with the display of religious items on public property when the displays favor one religion over the others. This is what we have come to in America today. Christianity has become the de facto public religion and if anyone complains about it, well they’re just too sensitive and they should just get over it.

Since when has it become illegal in the United States to practice a religion other than Christianity? Have Christians forgotten their history? (Did some of them ever know it?) At one time, their religion was the repressed one and they were persecuted. Now some Christians are attempting to turn the tables in a land where religious plurality is supposed to be the rule. Be careful of wishing for a totalitarian state of any kind. You just might get it.

Oh, and “twisted sisters?” Pony up the donkey. Stealing is not nice, although you do get a few kudos for a creative ransom note.

Happy Holidays to Fish Wrap readers of all faiths, and to agnostics and atheists everywhere.

From my pond to yours,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

December 22 officially marks the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.  (Didn’t we just celebrate the equinox?  How time flies!)  The winter solstice, that day of the year that contains the most darkness, has influenced many of the world’s religions in some way or another.  You’ve got to admit, it is a pretty dramatic day, what with all of us fumbling to open our car doors from 4:30-ish p.m. on in the dark after work.  To read more about how the winter solstice has affected various world religions, head on over to ReligiousTolerance.org and have yourself a happy solstice.

Darn!  I dropped my keys and now they’re at the bottom of the pond!

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

The Our View section of the Morrison County Record this week (November 27, 2007) had a happy little piece about donating to charity over the holiday season. It’s a wonderful sentiment. We should remember those less fortunate than ourselves during this time of the year. (Well, we should remember the poor the other 11 months of the year, too, but that’s another story.)

The article suggests several local, regional, and national organizations and causes to which one can donate. The one that specifically caught my eye was the Salvation Army kettle drive. According to the Our View article, “No earthly reason exists not to drop your spare change in a kettle as you walk by.”

Well, now, I guess that all depends on one’s philosophical and religious perspective. I am one who believes in religious plurality and the right of individuals and organizations to live their faith as they see fit. According to the Salvation Army’s website:

“Salvation Army beliefs follow those of the universal Christian church, as derived from the scriptures.”

I have a little problem with the word “universal” here, in that universality implies unanimity of interpretation of Biblical texts across the entire breadth of Christian denominations. Christian churches are hardly unanimous in their beliefs.

One of the hot-button issues in churches is homosexuality. The Salvation Army appears to ally itself with Christian churches that lean to the right when it comes to same-sex relationships. You can find their official stance on the topic here.

I fully support the Salvation Army’s right to believe what they believe concerning homosexuality. However, I also fully support the right of other Christian denominations and organizations that lean to the left on the issue. Within the United Church of Christ, there are many congregations that support the ordination of gay clergy. In fact, the UCC ordained Malcolm Himschoot, a female-to-male transgender. Among the clergy of the UCC, there are many who support the right of same-sex couples to marry and have full legal recognition of their unions. In fact, some UCC congregations, such as Lyndale United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN, have gone so far as to proclaim that they will perform no marriages until everyone is allowed to get married. They will perform the religious ceremony, but the clergy will not file any of the legal documents required by the state for legal recognition – even of heterosexual couples. The church feels that the state is infringing upon its religious freedom.

It is with the cause of these left-leaning organizations and denominations that I am sympathetic. It’s not that I don’t support kids getting Christmas gifts, it’s just that I believe that I should give my money to organizations that will help children in a manner that is in keeping with my faith and moral code. Not only do I have an earthly reason to donate my money to organizations other than the Salvation Army, based on my faith, I have a moral obligation to do so.

Swimming in circles to the left,

Suckerlip Blenny

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