Ethics Dunce: Minnesota’s Cottage Grove United Methodist Church

They’re going to have to update this, I think…

I believe that it’s fair to say that no church should ever make an ethics dunce of itself. This, unfortunately, is an extreme example. [Full disclosure: My father was raised as a Methodist, and my father in law was a Methodist minister and scholar.] The rationalizations and  double talk came fast and furious, and there even was a Jumbo in the mix.

Praise the Lord!

Rev. Dan Wetterstrom, lead pastor at the Woodbury and Cottage Grove branches of the United Methodist Church, sent out letters to parishioners that the Cottage Grove branch would close on June 1, then open, refurbished, in the Fall seeking the membership of young families with children. Current members who don’t fit that description will not be welcome. The letter encouraged the exiles  to worship elsewhere.

The good news is that the old, childless members should be able to come back into the fold  in 15 to18 months.

“The ends justify the means” is not a Christian, moral nor ethical philosophy, but that is the reasoning being applied by Wetterstrom and his church’s administrators to deal with what they see as a demographic crisis. Young people are staying away (perhaps because they have noticed the rank hypocrisy and stupidity in the church, indeed many churches, engage in, but I’m just guessing) and the current flock keeps getting older and older.

Yecchh. Continue reading

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t…

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An Oregon woman, Kristine Johnson, is suing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (that’s the Mormon church) for $9.54 million because Timothy Samuel Johnson, her husband, confessed to church leaders that he had sexually molested a child, and he was reported to law enforcement authorities, leading to his arrest, conviction and imprisonment. The lawsuit alleges that local church leaders breached confidentiality and the “priest-penitent privilege. Timothy Johnson had confessed to  clergy that he had repeated sexual contact with a minor. Local clergy’s actions “totally violated church policy,” says the woman’s lawyers. “It’s been devastating on the family,” plaintiff’s counsel told the press. “They lost a husband and a father, and local girls lost a reliable source of gifts, friendship, and excitement.”

OK, I’m kidding about the part after “father.” Continue reading

Unethical Quote (And Tweet) Of The Month: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)

The first reaction some had to this uniquely damning tweet is that Omar was suggesting to the Iranians that they attack the Trump organization hotels. Oh, who knows what her intent is. If it isn’t clear by now that Rep. Omar has greater loyalty to and regard for her Islamic faith and the nations that embrace it than she does for the country where she serves as an elected representative, I don’t know what more she could do or say.

It’s marvelously idiotic tweet. House member though she is, Omar doesn’t know what the emoluments clause means: the archaic Constitutional provision addresses foreign bribes, not potential conflicts of interest arising out of foreign threats. Moreover, if the President put his business interests over national interests, that would lead him to avoid taking action which might risk his business interests.

She does deserve credit for managing to come up with a false motivation for the President killing a vicious terrorist that is even more ridiculous that Elizabeth Warren’s “Wag the Dog” theory.

Omar is openly anti-Semitic, hostile to American interests, and appears to have the reasoning ability of a planarian. The Minnesota district that inflicted her on the nation is accountable for her pollution of the national discourse: there is no conceivable excuse for electing someone with her biases, proclivities, and lack of qualifications.

The Republicans had the sense and integrity to isolate Steve King for his repeated ugly statements evoking ignorance and bigotry. The Democrats should do the same with Omar, and if they do not, it will be fair to ask why. Either they endorse her vile lunacy, or they are too cowardly to risk accusations of being bigoted against Muslims, women, and “house members of color.”

 

Ethics Warm-Up, 1/6/2020: On The Eve Of Destruction Edition!

ARRGH! WE’RE DOOMED! DOOMED!

Just kidding.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned Barry McGwire’s hilariously overwrought rendition of P.F. Sloan’s silly lyrics before. Everyone should listen to this song every few months or so to remind them that we were pronounced doomed 55 years ago, yet here we are. The lack of historical perspective and general knowledge about the real world of geopolitics is driving so much of the over-heated laments we are hearing and reading—I think laughing is a better response that rolling one’s eyes, but I’m open to being convinced otherwise. Yes, sometimes leaders and countries have to draw red lines, and it is always best if the world believes them when they do. It never believed Barack Obama.

1. Fake news, headline-style...Yesterday, the New York Times headline, in bold,  “this is really important!!!” point type, told us that Trump’s military advisers were “stunned” at his decision to kill Iran’s head terrorist. Oh, no! His decision was surprise? Tt came out of the blue? They had recommended against it? Well, no. The story under that intentionally misleading headline says that the President was presented with several options, and the pros and cons of all were discussed. They expected him to choose one of the other options, that’s all. “Stunned” carried negative implications that the facts didn’t warrant, so naturally that’s what the Times editors chose. All the better to undermine trust in the President.

2. Not all celebrities are America-hating dolts:

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “’Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!’ As Chuck Todd Drops The Mask”

This fierce Comment of the Day by Steve-O-in NJ is one more think-piece in a slowly  completing jigsaw puzzle that promises to reveal an ugly, ugly picture.

I can’t quite make sense out of it yet, but I see other pieces; the attacks on Jews by blacks in New York, the rise of anti-Semistsm on the Left, Rep. Omar’s open mourning of an anti-American, murderous Iranian terrorist, Pete Buttigieg’s cynical use of God to make his partisan arguments, Joe Biden’s neon hypocrisy (Joe says he is a devout Catholic who adheres to his religion’s teachings, but he strongly supports abortion because he won’t “impose” his beliefs on others), the concerted efforts of LGTBG activists to bend small businesses owned by Christian to their will rather than leave them to their beliefs—the liberal contempt for religion and the religious is of long standing, and the Democrats have paid discounted prices for their arrogance.

I’m not sure how the pieces fit together yet, or how ugly the final picture will be.

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day, taking off from a quote in the post, “‘Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!’ As Chuck Todd Drops The Mask”

“If you’re religious, you’re a dope, and you’re the problem. That’s what he thinks. That’s what most of them think.”

I wish it were that simple. Non-believers and nominal believers are pretty much the same as the rest of us. Militant atheists (the ones who constantly attack the beliefs of others) are usually miserable souls and relatively easily dismissed or walked away from. Chuck Todd is one of the insidious liberal elite who see religion as just one more item in the locker of things that can be weaponized against those he doesn’t agree with and wants to see gone. The liberal are happy to have the boost of black churches and ministers. They are happy to portray them as pillars of the community who bravely stand up to the oppressor and defy the racist system. They are happy to have the moral boost that synagogues can provide, whether it’s from the progressive ones for whom Judaism isn’t much more than spiritualized leftism, or the black-clad Orthodox who still count a few tattooed Holocaust survivors among them, both for themselves and because they are one more means to remind everyone that They Are Different And Must Be Respected, so no saying “Merry Christmas” or singing “Silent Night.” They are also happy to have whatever boost they can get from the mosques, and weaponize them to remind us that Not All Muslims Are Terrorists, in fact very few are, and most of them are SUCH warm people of faith, and don’t you feel stupid and cruel for not trusting them?

At the same time they weaponize Catholicism against its adherents, and say how dare you support a church that treats women as brood mares and acts as a procurer for pedophiles? They weaponize evangelical Christianity too, saying how dare you support a church that tells you how to think and supports those icky conservative values? Maybe they’re ok, just ok, mind you, with squishy Episcopalian churches that just exist to wave at the liberal agenda as it goes by, and Unitarian churches that just shrug and say “follow your journey and live your truth,” but probably more than half of them are actively hostile to Christianity in any form, and look down their noses at its adherents. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Res Ipsa Loquitur Files: What Does The Public Learn From These Things? Can They Figure It Out Themselves?

[This is the successor to a completed post that WordPress, for some reason, deleted beyond recovery when I hit “publish” at about 6:30 am today, thus robbing me of 90 minutes of my life and nearly my sanity. My inclination was to let it stay in cyber-hell and forget the whole thing, especially since the viewership here has similarly vanished lately and I feel like I could be more productively catching up on my “Everybody loves Raymond” episodes, but that would be petulant.]

There are a lot of dots to connect, but it shouldn’t be hard for the unbiased and attentive. I know they are out there, even if the Democratic Party is certain they are not.

So here are the dots…Let’s begin with the attack against a group of Jews celebrating Hanukkah at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York over the weekend. Grafton Thomas used a machete-like blade, and stabbed five celebrants.

  • The attack, which officials said began after 10 p.m. this past Saturday, was the 13th anti-Semitic incident in three weeks in the state and the most recent in a string of violence targeting local Jewish communities in the region.

Earlier this month, four people were fatally shot in  an attack on a Jersey City kosher grocery store.

  • On Friday the 27th, the day before the Monsey attack, Tiffany Harris, like Thomas an African American, was arrested for  punching and cursing three Orthodox women awhile shouting, ‘Fuck you you, Jews.’

Harris then was released on her own recognizance, and a day later arrested for another attack.

  • NYC’s Democrat mayor Bill de Blasio immediately shifted blame and accountability to…well, guess.

You’re RIGHT! He told Fox News, “An atmosphere of hate has been developing in this country over the last few years. A lot of it is emanating from Washington and it’s having an effect on all of us.. Not just the President — I’m saying, but we have to be clear. We need a different tone starting in Washington.”

  • OK, let’s be clear. The members of “The Squad,” Rep. Tlaib, Rep. Omar, and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, have been making anti-Jewish pronouncements since they were elected in 2018. Many member of the Congressional Black Caucus, including the recent co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, Keith Ellison, have had friendly ties with Nation of Islam Louis Farrakhan, who regularly refers to Jews as vermin. Maxine Waters has openly greeted Farrakhan with hugs. New York Democrat Thomas Lopez-Pierre’s campaign slogan was stopping “Greedy Jewish Landlords.” A  black Trenton, New Jersey City Council Chair used the phrase “Jew me down;” a black Jersey City School board member opined in the wake of the kosher market massacre that Jews for were at fault for living in that neighborhood. The “Women’s Marches,” “resistance” protests all, had the endorsement of Farrakhan, and at one of them speaker Tamika Mallory referred to him as the “Greatest of All Time.”

Writes Debby Hall on a pro-Israel site,

Demonization of Israel on the left has also contributed to whipping up the people who would ultimately commit these attacks. BDS, a movement calling for Israel’s destruction, is essentially letting people know that Jews have no right to self-determination and as a result, no right to live.

  •  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released this boilerplate:

     Nice. Of course, that “zero-tolerance thingy was somewhat undercut by the  release of Tiffany Harris into the community. The Governor also has not been a practitioner of  inclusion and diversity himself, raising the question of what he means when he uses these words. For example, this year he said in part, “These extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay…if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” In a similar vein, Cuomo has said that those who do not support same-sex marriage don’t belong in his diverse, inclusive state.

Orthodox Jews do not support same sex marriage.

  • Finally, an NBC fact-checker tweeted,

This is, I repeat, a fact-checker. Rationalizations are not facts. From the Ethics Alarms list: 46. The Abuser’s License:  “It’s Complicated”…”The implication is that “yes, this looks bad, but if you knew all of the details, history and considerations, you would understand..If [an act] was unethical, it is important to say so, to make certain that nobody labors under the misconception that it was the right thing to do when they face similar decisions. “It’s complicated” is also lazy…. Complexity doesn’t relieve us of the responsibility of seeking the right approach to these matters. “It’s complicated” is an ethics cop-out.

After she was roundly condemned on Twitter, the fact-checker buried the fact of her own bias, taking down the tweet, making her account private, and finally taking down her account.

Observant Americans should be able to connect these dots, though the mainstream media and politicians, counting on the public’s own biases  and certain that they can fool all of the people all of the time, will try mightily to spin, obscure, bury and otherwise interfere with accurate perception.

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Sources: Victory Girls, Pittsburgh  Post-Gazette, PJ media, Twitchy, Libertarian Republic, Daily Wire, Washington Post, Israelycool

 

The Last Christmas Music Post Of 2019: Regarding The “Definitive” List [UPDATED and CORRECTED]

Over at Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze” someone named Chris Field offered what was audaciously headlined “These are the definitive recordings of 35 favorite Christmas carols: Don’t argue, just listen: A perfect list.”

Is it still clickbait when a link virtually screams “CLICKBAIT!”? Maybe, but if someone is going to claim that they have made a “perfect list,” he had better do a better job than  this. My earlier comments today about Pauline Kael apply: some of this guy’s assessments of what is “definitive” disqualify him as a useful or credible authority. For example, Field, who reveals himself as an Ella Fitzgerald fan boy, chooses Ella’s rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” as ‘the best, saying, “If you think Garland’s rendition is better than Ella’s, you’re probably also a Liza Minnelli fan.” Well, I’m not a Liza fan; she sounded nothing like her mother, and Garland’s rendition is better, indeed the “definitive” version. Old Blue Eyes’ rendition finishes second for sure, but Judy’s tumbling scales were never more affecting or emotionally eloquent, and this is her song. Similarly, Field picks Andy Williams’ version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” as “the best.” That’s ridiculous. I know this song especially well: I watched “The Hollywood Palace” as a kid the night Bing Crosby introduced it. I’ve written about it on Ethics Alarms, researched it, put it into a Christmas revue and staged it. Crosby’s version is the only one that manages to give the song sufficient heft and gravity: he shifts deep into his chest baritone in the final verse, and decades after hearing the song for the first time, Bing still gives me chills. Lots of male singers, including Williams, have done respectable covers, but they are all chasing Bing.

Look, anyone can have a preference for any professional version of any of the Christmas standards and carols, and there is no point arguing about it. However, if one is going to use the descriptor “definitive,” it has to involve more than personal taste. What is the singer’s connection to the song? Why is it identified with him or her, or is it? Do other singers obviously evoke that singers’ performance? Generational familiarity aside, is the version generally recognized as being definitive? Has the singer’s version become iconic? If one were describing the singer, would the song immediately come to mind?

Here’s my definitive list of the definitive versions of Christmas standards: Continue reading