Tag Archives: God

2012

On minutes 1:48 and 2:03 of this 2012 five-minute promo video, you see billboards of the Southern California nonprofit organization Heal the Bay crumbling down … sorry guys, I guess environmentalists don’t survive the Apocalypse (or is the Apocalypse being brought on human kind as punishment from God because we haven’t been caring for our environment as we should have been?!)

I’ve started to see the signs of the Apocalypse … no, not on the skies, not on earthquakes, and certainly not on tarot cards, but rather plastered on billboards all over L.A. and on YouTube videos.  As a fan of Mesoamerican history and a holder of a  B.A. degree in Anthropology, I have been keenly aware about the Mayan calendar that supposedly “ends” on the year 2012.  I must say that I was actually suprised that it took this long for Hollywood to make a movie about it.  Conveniently, they did not make a film about the calendar leading up to Y2K but I guess that would’ve defeated the whole purpose somewhat: how could the world end in 2000 if the Mayan calendar went all the way up to the year 2012?  But I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on Hollywood: after all, the film is only the latest incarnation of an ongoing furor of Apocalypse theories (I’m being overly kind: I’m using the word “theory” loosely here) based on the calendar that have been peddled for many years now.  However, the film has blown up the profile of such theories way out of proportion; so much so, that even the descendants of the Mayans are getting fed up with it.  Chile Pixtun, a Guatemalan Mayan elder, was recently quoted by the AP as saying that “the doomsday theories spring from Western, not Mayan, ideas.”        

Hollywood has a nack for re-inventing and sensationalizing history but I guess that is nothing new.  A perfect example of this was the movie Apocalypto, which told the story of the Mayan conquests just before their civilization runs into the Spanish “conquistadores”.  There was just one small problem with that story line: it never happened.  It was the Aztecs that had a brush with the Spaniards, not the Mayans (the Mayan Mesoamerican civilization and the Aztec civilization existed centuries apart).  In our modern world saturated by myths that are spurred by a modern popular disdain and mocking of academia and rationality, facts are sometimes irrelevant.  Point-in-case is the term “Aztec” (which comes from the Nahuatl word “Aztecatl”, which means “someone that comes from Aztlán“).  Yet, the indigenous people that came to make up what we now call “the Aztec empire” did not even call themselves that.  The Aztec empire was in fact not a homogenous group of people, but rather made up by three main ethnic groups (also known as “The Triple Alliance“) that were dominant over the others at one point or another: the Mexicas, the Acolhuas, and the Tepanecs.  The homogenizing category “Aztec” was actually first used by English-speaking westerners and was widely used by American historian William H. Prescott.  In modern times in the U.S., it was later further popularized via the Aztlán mythology that was adopted by many “Chicano nationalists“.  The problem with such reductionist approach, (as with any type of reductionism), is that it glosses over the rich diversity that actually exists and presents a reality that is overly skewed just so it can fit into a particular theory.  Don’t get me wrong, I happen to like that the word “Aztec”.  Besides, humans, after all, have an inherent need for categories that help us make sense of this world.  That is the way we are wired and for a good reason: it helps us identify important patterns in nature.  I only wished our western modern “patterns” or “categories” or for that matter our industries were more inclusive and respectful of the rich cultural variety of the indigenous ethnic groups that flourished and still exist not just in Mexico but in all of Latin America.

PS So am I going to go see this 2012 film? Depends.  I’m gonna wait for the reviews.  I hate watching movies that are all flashy special effects and terrible acting/dialogue.

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Filed under History, Media Literacy

Jesus WAS a LIBERAL

Was Jesus a Liberal or a Conservative?  Some people answer “neither” because he is supposed to transcend human labels … but this view is a little contradictory because Jesus was the incarnation of God into human flesh, and if that was the case, then shouldn’t we assume that he also adopted human qualities as well?  The question of Jesus’ orientation is nevertheless explored more in depth in the new book: “Jesus Was a Liberal.”  The media, nevertheless, would have you believe that Jesus was a staunch right-wing conservative even though there are many Christians that see through the current so-called conservative “culture of life” because it often contradicts itself when it refuses to promote a true all-encompassing culture of life, that is, one that celebrates and protects the human condition in all of its facets: through social programs that follow the teachings of Jesus to combat poverty,  promote compassion and empathy, and protect God’s creation (to agressively combat such threats to our environment-like global warming and offer everyone Universal Healthcare).

Perception in the media most of the time trumps reality … in fact so much so that perception at some point becomes so pervasive that it starts to influence and define reality.  In the United States, religion has become a topic of division, mainly because it has been hijacked by its portrayal in the hands of who dominates our corporate media: the conservative right-wing. 

The conservative right-wing media has been extremely successful at dominating the dialogue in mass communication.  One perfect example is how they have been incredibly successful at perpuating the myth that the media has a “liberal bias”, when in fact the opposite is true: for the most part, mass media has a CONSERVATIVE bias, which continues to persist to this day

Point in case is the way that religion is portrayed in the corporate media. “Religious values” to the media talking heads has come to mean a very narrow set of issues: “anti-abortion” and “anti-gay” (by the way, the Bible never even talks about abortion and Jesus himself never even mentioned anything about gays-the only mention of it is some vague mention in the Old Testament, which according to Christianity, was rendered invalid by the advent of the New Testament).  This has come to be because of a concerted behind-the-scenes strategy through political manipulation from the right-wing think-tanks.  Yet, there is hardly any mention that for many Americans who identify themselves as “religious”, those issues are not really that important to them-in fact, issues such as social and economic justice are far closer to their hearts.  However, right-wing think-tanks, their corporatist sponsors, and their media talking head enablers are not all to blame. 

The left-wing of this country also bears some responsibility: for many secular liberals, religion has often been viewed as an obstacle to progress and enlightment or as a sign of weakness (never mind that some of the biggest leaps foward in our society have been rooted in religious themes: Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches and organizing tactics were a perfect example of that).  Meanwhile, politicans on the so-called “Left” are left with the difficult task of trying to fill in the gaps and get across the message (most of the time in a very awkward manner) that not all religious people are authoritarian conservative but that in fact many are actually liberal and yes, even supportive of the sanctity of love inherent in the concept of Gay Marriage.  

Overall, conservative religious personalities such as James Dobson and Pat Robertson and their campaigns get all the attention from the media, and the progressive religious personalities like Michael Lerner or  Jim Wallis and their campaigns get almost no attention.  Point in case is the recent supposed (if not manufactured) uproar that the media is currently focusing on 24/7: President Obama speaking at Notre Dame.  According to right-wing outlets, “Catholics” are supposedly “outraged” that President Obama was scheduled to speak at Notre Dame (because of his defense of pro-choice policies), a Catholic University:

As a Catholic, I really don’t know what’s more offensive: the fact that right-wing religious outlets claim to speak for ALL Catholics (including myself and an overwhelming majority of Catholics that don’t share their views), or the fact that their hypocrisy is just so offensively transparent: the Pope himself gave an Honorary recognition to President Sarkozy, who is a supporter of pro-choice polices … so do you think they will boycott the Pope? Yeah, don’t hold your breath … and if you want to talk about contradictions between the Catholic Church’s teachings and peoples’ practices: how about the support of the American Catholic Conservatives for capital punishment, which is a direct violation of the Catholic Church’s official position … oh and let’s not get into the whole Occupation of Iraq: both John Paul II and the current Pope Benedict have been very critical of America’s military campaigns in the Middle East.  But do you think these contradictions are getting media coverage?  Nope, not a peep.  Instead, we hear carefully-crafted messages about how Nancy Pelosi is not worthy of communion because she supports “abortion rights.” 

This is not the first time that a blackout of the progressive religious view has taken place in the media.  Back in 2007, a group of progressive Evangelical Christians were arrested for protesting former President Bush’s Occupation of Iraq.  This got covered in a few print & online outlets, but it really did not make it to the corporate cable news cycle nor did it get the under-the-microscope intensity that Obama’s speech at Notre Dame got.  More recently, the online advocacy community “Faithful America” launched a drive to support Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to speak, but do you think that got any major attention from the media?  Nope. 

Frankly, I wouldn’t be the least surprised to learn that all this media frenzy was manufactured by the conservative right as a strategic piece in their quest to torpedo Obama’s upcoming nomination of a new Justice to the Supreme Court.  Regardless, I am pretty sick and tired of the way the media is portraying religion as a battle between “secularism” and “religiosity”.  It is a frame that is manipulative at best and morally bankrupt at worst because it is devoid of meaningful debate.  The topic of abortion is the perfect example of how the messaging wars play out, to the detriment of the American public.  All we hear in the media is how the “pro-choicers” are in a battle with the “pro-lifers” … but these lables just block us from moving forward on views that recognize that this is more than just a black-and-white issue.  It deprives us of views such the one espoused by the Network of Spiritual Progressives on this topic:

“Make [abortion] safe, legal, and rare … And make childbearing safe, economically supported, and surrounded by a loving community that celebrates the mystery and miracle of life and that honors and rewards the parent or parents who have undertaken the difficult and beautiful task of raising children.” -Rabbi Michael Lerner.

So what can you do about all this? Well, for starters, check out the action alert that “Faithful America” has up on their site to support a new way in how we deal and talk about abortion.  Click here to visit their site.

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Filed under Abortion, Gay Marriage, Media Literacy, Political, Progressive Movement, Religion, Spirituality