Hestia, known to the Romas as Vesta, is the Goddess of the hearth, the home, the well-cooked meal.
"Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you ahve gained an everlasting abode and highest honour: glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet, - where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last. And you, Argeiphontes [Hermes], son of Zeus and Maia, .. be favourable and help us, you and Hestia, the worshipful and dear. Come and dwell in this glorious house in friendship together; for you two, well knowing the noble actions of men, aid on their wisdom and their strength. Hail, Daughter of Kronos, and you also, Hermes." - Homeric Hymn 24 to Hestia
"Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollon, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise - draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song." - Homeric Hymn XXIV to Hestia
"To Hestia, Fumigation from Aromatics. Daughter of Kronos, venerable dame, who dwellest amidst great fire’s eternal flame; in sacred rites these ministers are thine, mystics much blessed, holy and divine. In thee the Gods have fixed their dwelling place, strong, stable basis of the mortal race. Eternal, much formed, ever florid queen, laughing and blessed, and of lovely mien; accept these rites, accord each just desire, and gentle health and needful good inspire." - Orphic Hymn 84 to Hestia
It's not very often that I agree with Christopher Hitchens on politics, and he'd find my faith as foolish as he finds all others. But his rebuttal in today's WaPo to yesterday's obnoxious opinion piece by Michael Gerson -- who asserted that, without relligion, there is no morality -- is rather good. Hitchens notes that religion certainly has led to some seriously "immoral" behavior:
Those of us who disbelieve in the heavenly dictatorship also reject many of its immoral teachings, which have at different times included the slaughter of other "tribes," the enslavement of the survivors, the mutilation of the genitalia of children, the burning of witches, the condemnation of sexual "deviants" and the eating of certain foods, the opposition to innovations in science and medicine, the mad doctrine of predestination, the deranged accusation against all Jews of the crime of "deicide," the absurdity of "Limbo," the horror of suicide-bombing and jihad, and the ethi=cally dubious notion of vicarious redemption by human sacrifice.
I think his comment about the "ethically dubious notion of vicarious redemption by human sacrifice" refers to the xian notion that they are "saved" from "original sin" because Jesus was crucified "for them." But, of course, ancient Pagans did, from time to time and in some places, practice human sacrifice. (Yeah, I know that there's an argument that some of those sacrificed volunteered for the job. We just have no way to know that as of now.) Some Pagans also kept slaves, although there's certainly little indication that it was "approved" by their Goddesses and Gods, the way that the Old Testament indicates that Yahweh "commanded" the Israelites to enslave others or "allowed" the Babylonians and Egyptians to enslave the Hebrews. So while I like to think that today's Pagans aren't as likely to commit outrage as are members of, for example, the three Abrahamist cults, we do have a history of doing some shitty stuff. (And, then, there's the way most of us dress and all that crap jewelry. Those are serious outrages, right there, and they're getting worse, not better. I am just saying.)
I do think that Hitchens misses the motive behind Gerson's screed. Gerson and other xianitst are determined to make it impossible for anyone other than fellow Abrahamists to hold public office in America, indeed, even to participate in American political life. (See, e.g., xianists this week making it almost impossible for a Hindu chaplin to offer a bland and nondenominational prayer to open the U.S. Senate. They argue -- seriously -- that only monotheists (and we all know they aren't talking about someone who believes that Loki is the one, true god) should be allowed that privilege.)) Digby makes a very similar point in an excellent essay concerning how the press lies about Democrats' religious affiliations. She says:
Since it doesn't seem to make any difference how much they talk about their religion or spend time in church or anything else, what could they possibly do to prove that they are really, truly, god-fearing religious people? Why, they could adopt socially conservative policies!
That's the real agenda. These people are not as concerned about Democrats winning, despite all the concern troll advice for the last decade or so, as much as they care about making the Democrats more socially conservative. Amy Sullivan just proved it again by writing a misleading article that assumes Democrats are going to lose because they aren't religious enough --- at a time when the country is sick and tired of their leaders' using their religious views to justify policies that the majority don't want enacted. And let's just say that all this religion talk in politics doesn't exactly have the same punch now that so many of the allegedly pious, evangelical Republicans have shown themselves to be lying perverts.
Again, I have no problem with Democrats talking about their religious views. But it will not buy them one Republican vote. The religious folk who vote GOP on the basis of religion are never going to vote for Democrats unless they become social conservatives. That's the formula and that's what the liberal religious lobby is really pushing. I just wish they'd be honest about it.
Only "religious" people have morals. And, in fact, only monotheists are allowed to participate in politics. To show that they are "religious" and "have morals" even monotheists (and, let's face it, there isn't a Democrat running for president who isn't a xian) have to adopt conservative social policies (which I wish Digby would go ahead and call anti-woman, anti-gay, patriarchial policies, since interfering in other people's private lives is emphatically not classical conservatism). Voila! Theocracy!
As I understand it - you have to dive really really deep to even begin to rise above. You have to go the Underworld first. You have to get down with your bad self. You have to begin to love the shit before you love the gloss. You have to die before you die. Deep in the heart of the heart of hearts - the infinite point, the smallest world where the further in you go the bigger it gets, the horizon star, the densest, heaviest point of infinite expansion, the darkest place under the darkest place where there is a sudden blossoming of light, a seed and a sky at the same time - illumination and awareness roil around in timeless, sexy, shattering adoration, yes….yes….the stars beneath the earth….
You owe it to yourself to go read the whole thing.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today deplored the disruption by Religious Right activists of a Hindu chaplain’s prayer to open the U.S. Senate.
“This shows the intolerance of many Religious Right activists,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “They say they want more religion in the public square, but it’s clear they mean only their religion.
“America is a land of extraordinary religious diversity, and the Religious Right just can’t seem to accept that fact,” Lynn continued. “I don’t think the Senate should open with prayers, but if it’s going to happen, the invocations ought to reflect the diversity of the American people.”
Hindu Chaplain Rajan Zed, a Nevada resident, gave the opening prayer in the Senate at the invitation of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). As he began his remarks, two protestors interrupted the proceedings, asking for forgiveness from Jesus Christ for the “abomination” of failing to pray to the “one true God.” (The sergeant-at-arms had to restore order.)
Religious Right groups have been agitating against the Hindu leader’s prayer since it was announced. The Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association has asked his members to complain to their senators about the invitation. The group’s news service reported that “Christian nation” activist David Barton said that Hinduism has few followers in the United States and that prayer to a “non-monotheistic god” is “outside the American paradigm.”
Said AU’s Lynn, “The Religious Right promotes a deeply skewed version of American history. Our founders wanted separation of church and state and full religious liberty for all faith traditions. The episode today shows we still have a ways to go to achieve that goal.”
/hat tip to wtfwjd? at Eschaton
This is fun, in the same way that using the Fourth Circuit's ruling to get Yule and Atheiset Summer Camp flyers handed out at schools was fun. One imagines that even some of the the more crazed xianits might begin to understand how the rest of us feel having their religion shoved down our throats and why it might be better if we actually had a wall between church and government. But, really, their cognitive disonance is far too well entrenched and they are far too irony-impaired.
Update: Josh Marshall has video, as well as the press release from the fundies:
Theology Moved to the Senate and was Arrested
Theology has moved from the church house onto the floor of the United States Senate, and has been arrested.
Ante Pavkovic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar were all arrested in the chambers of the United States Senate as that chamber was violated by a false Hindu god. The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ. This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers.
"Not one Senator had the backbone to stand as our Founding Fathers stood. They stood on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! There were three in the audience with the courage to stand and proclaim, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' They were immediately removed from the chambers, arrested, and are in jail now. God bless those who stand for Jesus as we know that He stands for them." Rev. Flip Benham, Director, Operation Save America/Operation Rescue
1. Everything is connected. Literally. What happens to you affects me. What happens to me affects the trees. What happens to the trees affects you. What happens between the worlds affects them all. This is the animating principal behind all magic.
2. Divinity is immanent, embodied within the world, contained within you, larger than you can ever be.
3. The Earth is our Mother.
4. There is no duality. There is no light over dark, or life over death, or man over woman.
5. All acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess.
6. It's all real. It's all metaphor. There's always more.
Sweet Kali on a croissant, yesterday's testimony from former Surgeon General Carmona would, in a rational universe, be enough, all by itself, to impeach George W. Bush. Carmona, Surgeon General during Bush's first term, testified that:
* He was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. You know, this is the kind of megalomaniacal, stupid-shit, ignorant, petty rule that only the most deranged of emperors puts in place. Carmona needs to be forced to say who ordered him to do that.
* He was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates. Shades of Lurita Doan, Bush's head of the GSA, who asked her employees "How can we support our candidates in the next election?"
* Bush administration officials discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name. I don't know why he's playing so coy; everyone knows that the family is the Kennedys. I want this incident thrown in the face of all the David Broders of the world who whine about how Democrats need to be "more bipartisan." The Bush administration won't even turn off its relentless politicization of everything to help out retarded kids who want to play softball or run races. I want this incident thrown in the face of every talking head on tv who moans about liberals with their "irrational hatred of Bush."
* He attended a meeting of top officials in which the subject of global warming was discussed. The officials concluded that global warming was a liberal cause and dismissed it, he said. He tried to explain the science to them; he was never invited back. Again, I don't ever want to hear again about "reaching across the aisle" on issues of "common concern." The Republicans' only concern was whether an issue was "liberal" or "conservative" -- the fact that the entire Earth might be at risk was irrelevant. You've really got to stop for a minute and let that sink in.
* When stem cells became a focus of debate, Dr. Carmona said he proposed that his office offer guidance “so that we can have, if you will, informed consent.” “I was told to stand down and not speak about it,” he said. “It was removed from my speeches.” Informed decision making? This junta don't' need no informed decision making! Karl Rove decides that a given position will play well with the irrational, batshit insane, fundie base and that's the end of the matter. Meanwhile, American medicine and research lags behind the rest of the world and other countries patent and profit from new medical discoveries. The Republicans don't care. They care about being in power. Period.
* He wanted to address the controversial topic of sexual education. Scientific studies suggest that the most effective approach includes a discussion of contraceptives. “However there was already a policy in place that did not want to hear the science but wanted to preach abstinence only, but I felt that was scientifically incorrect,” he said. See above re: Rove.
* A surgeon general report on global health was never approved because he refused to sprinkle the report with glowing references to the efforts of the Bush administration.
* A surgeon general report concerning health care in prisons has also never been released. “The correctional health care report is pointing out the inadequacies of health care within our correctional health care system,” he said. “It would force the government on a course of action to improve that.” Because the administration does not want to spend more money on prisoners’ health care, the report has been delayed, Dr. Carmona said. “For us, the science was pretty easy,” he said. “These people go back into the community and take diseases with them.” He added, “This is not about the crime. It’s about protecting the public.” Protecting the public is so low on this administration's list of priorities that it's laughable.
Interestingly, Dr. Carmona described himself as politically naive. He's not the only person chosen by this administration who can be described that way. Remember John J. DiIulio Jr., director of the faith-based office, who eventually accused the the Bush White House with being obsessed politics but dismissive of policy, and slammed them as "Mayberry Machiavellis"? David Kuo, who was deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, later charged much the same thing. You get the impression that naivete was what the Bush administration wanted, especially for positions such as Surgeon General. Let's face it, if they were starting from scratch, Republicans would never even have a Surgeon General. Given, however, that they had to fill the position, they filled it with a naive dupe who would follow their instructions to mention the boyking three times on every page and allow them to use him to mislead the American public. Sometimes, even naive dupes insist on trying to do their actual jobs. In that case, they are never invited back to meetings and are let got at the end of the first term. And, here's how the Bush junta thanks them:
Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said the surgeon general “is the leading voice for the health of all Americans.” “It’s disappointing to us,” Ms. Lawrimore said, “if he failed to use this position to the fullest extent in advocating for policies he thought were in the best interests of the nation.” That's cute; isn't it? Dr. Carmona failed to advocate for policies that would help Americans. Shame on him. The denial of reality is positively breathtaking. The man just testified under oath that when he tried, for example, to advocate for sex education that included information on contraceptives, "there was already a policy in place that did not want to hear the science but wanted to preach abstinence only." When he wanted to release a report that would have prevented released prisoners from spreading AIDS to the general public, the report wasn't released because that might have impacted Paris Hilton's tax cuts. When he wanted to release a report on global health, it was trashcanned because he hadn't sufficiently larded it with praise for Republicans.
President Bush's first surgeon generalcharged todaythat administration officials prevented him from providing the public with accurate scientific and medical information on such issues as stem cell research and teen pregnancy.
"The reality is that the 'nation's doctor' has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas," Dr. Richard H. Carmona told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried.
"The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds," said Carmona, who served from 2002 to 2006. "The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation — not the doctor of a political party." . . . Carmona said he was told to "stand down" from playing any educational role because a decision had already been made. He also said administration appointees who reviewed his prepared speech texts deleted from them references to stem cell research.
Likewise, on the issue of preventing teen pregnancy, Carmona said he was not allowed to deviate from the administration's position that abstinence was the best approach.
In fact, he said, he believes a variety of approaches are needed, including contraception for sexually active teens. But the administration "did not want to hear the science," he said, and instead "wanted to preach."
Maybe the most empowering sentence in the whole post is: I went to priestess my sister’s wedding.
But there are other amazing bits.
I loved New Orleans the first time I laid eyes upon her. It was on that trip that I understood how the elements are embodied in our great cities. The four directions and their elemental correspondences play out in our nation’s landscape and our cities serve as great Guardians of the Directions. New York in the east has the power of intellect, with Air holding reign there. Chicago, that mighty meatpacking city in the north, holds the power of Earth. On the west coast, Water rules the city of dreamers that is San Francisco. And in the south, in New Orleans, sex and death are always dancing a hot tango, paying tribute to Fire’s power.
I’m back now in my city of dreams, one that the seismologists predict will see another great quake in the next decades to come. This weekend there were house parties and concerts all over the globe to raise awareness about climate change. I know there will be many more catastrophes and disasters of all types in this lifetime, some I may personally experience, and one I may even die in. There will be unkindness, selfishness, and even cruelty. And yet, there also will be resilience, and people reaching a hand out to help. How can we not marvel on how great cities and regular people come back, again and again and again?
My brilliant friend E. keeps going back to NO and saying what Deborah's girlfriend says: Go.
I'll add, if you go, eat at Bayona's and have afternoon tea at the Ritz.
One of the guiding principals of my religion is that all acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess. And,you know, I can conceive of a society that treated prostitution as a valued career and viewed prostitutes as important caregivers. We don't live in that society. We live in the patriarchy which, by definition, can't allow prostitution to be anything other than what it is: a crass attempt to completely commercialize and colonize women's bodies, to turn women from humans into meat.
So, I've got nothing but contempt for men who hire prostitutes. But that contempt turns into true anger when the man is a xianist, wingnut, hypocrite who wants to impose on the rest of us a set of sexual prohibitions that he can't even live up to himself. The records of the D.C. Madam (who claims that what she ran was an escort service that involved sexual fantasy but no actual sex -- whatever) have been released and, surprise, surprise, look who was using her services:
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) apologized last night after his telephone number appeared in the phone records of the woman dubbed the "D.C. Madam," making him the first member of Congress to become ensnared in the high-profile case.
The statement containing Vitter's apology said his telephone number was included on phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates dating from before he ran for the Senate in 2004. . . . This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter, 46, said in a statement, which his spokesman, Joel DiGrado, confirmed to the Associated Press.
"Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling," Vitter continued. "Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."
Want to know what I love, I love how he can't really discuss this embarrassing incident because, well, somehow it was ok to cheat on his wife with a sex worker, but it would be way out of bounds for him to have to actually, you know, talk about that. For the sake of his family, you understand.
Know what else I love? Paying for sex may or may not be a sin; I guess for xians it is. But it's not "just" a sin. It's also against the law. And asking Jebuz and your wife to forgive you doesn't mean that you didn't break the law.
Here's some of the legislation this creepazoid has sponsored:
* S.RES.132 : A resolution expressing support for prayer at school board meetings.
* S.RES.354 : A resolution honoring the valuable contributions of Catholic schools in the United States.
* S.2206 : A bill to amend title X of the Public Health Service Act to prohibit family planning grants from being awarded to any entity that performs abortions
* S.2786 : A bill to amend title 5, United States Code, to permit access to databases maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for purposes of complying with sex offender registry and notification laws, and for other purposes.
* S.3939 : A bill to require the Food and Drug Administration to establish restrictions regarding the qualifications of physicians to prescribe the abortion drug commonly known as RU-486.
His webpage says: As a strong believer in the dignity and sanctity of all human life, I stand with many other Louisianans in defense of those who cannot defend themselves. Together, we work daily to turn the tide toward respecting, protecting, and dignifying innocent human life.
To this end, I have supported all pro-life measures before Congress, including:
Supporting an immediate ban on partial birth abortions.
Expanding tax credits and other support for adoption.
Authoring legislation that would absolutely prohibit taxpayer funding to private providers of abortion services.
Supporting a full ban on human cloning.
Authoring legislation to codify safety measures designed to protect the health of women who use RU-486, responding to the misguided and politicized approval of the drug.
Participating in National Adoption Awareness Month.
Supporting legislation requiring that pregnant mothers be provided information on their unborn child's ability to experience pain 20 weeks after fertilization.
Supporting legislation prohibiting the transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.
His website also notes that last month he: authored a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee expressing support for reauthorization of the Title V Abstinence Education Program of the Social Security Act. Twelve senators joined Vitter in writing in support of the program. “This a valuable program with proven results, but it is nearing its expiration. We must reauthorize this program so we can continue the incredible strides we have made in teaching teens about both risk avoidance and protecting themselves from potential abuse,” Vitter said.
So while he can't stop running to prostitutes, he's demanding that we spend tax dollars telling teens to just abstain from sex. He didn't even have to abstain; he's got a wife who's already borne four kids for him. He can't even limit himself to just one sex partner and teenagers are supposed to just abstain from sex? WTF?
Xianists are hurting our country. They need to stop.
Solar Said to Potentially Create 123,000 Texas Jobs by 2020
A white paper by the IC2 Institute of the University of Texas estimated that solar generation could create 123,000 jobs in Texas by 2020, UPI Energy reported. The study advocated incentives for solar development as a way to create as many as 11 times more jobs per MW as coal-based generation. It claimed that solar-related jobs in Texas would include solar farms in West Texas, silicon plants on the Gulf Coast, and manufacturing centers in Central Texas.
Study contributor Joel Serface was quoted as saying: "Worldwide, the cost of converting sunlight to electricity is rapidly decreasing. The right public policies, combined with emerging and increasingly efficient technologies in solar power, would create a solid opportunity for Texas to build an economic engine on this non-polluting resource." UPI Energy via Earthtimes.org , July 6.
Eleven times more jobs per MW than coal. Even that Texas idiot George W. Bush should be able to do the math.
Sodium-Sulfur Batteries Could Boost Grid Strength by Storing Power
The use of room-size sodium-sulfur batteries is seen as a potential way to improve grid reliability by storing power at night for consumption during daytime peak demand periods, USA Today reported. American Electric Power already has installed a $2.5-million, 1.2-MW battery in West Virginia and plans to install another battery with twice the capacity in 2008.
Ali Nourai, AEP utility manager of distributed energy, said the device has allowed a seven-year postponement in the previously planned $1-million upgrade of a substation. The battery scheduled for installation in 2008 will be used as a backup in case of blackouts. Dan Mears, consultant for Japanese battery manufacturer NGK Insulators, said the batteries use a porcelain-like material for bridging electrodes to create a 15-year battery life. He said dozens of utilities may install the batteries.
The batteries also are seen as a way to store wind generation from strong nighttime winds for use during summer demand peaks, when the air is often stagnant. Stow Walker of Cambridge Energy Research Associates was quoted as saying: "If you've got these batteries distributed in the neighborhood, you have, in a sense, lots of little power plants. The difference between these and diesel generators is these batteries don't need fuel." USA Today , July 5.
Sounds like a great way to deal with the variable nature of wind and solar power. Informative video here.
The fountains mingle with the river, And the rivers with the ocean; The winds of heaven mix forever With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine In another's being mingle-- Why not I with thine?
See, the mountains kiss high heaven, And the waves clasp one another; No sister flower could be forgiven If it disdained its brother; And the sunlight clasps the earth, And the moonbeams kiss the sea;-- What are all these kissings worth, If thou kiss not me?
I have learned how faces fall to bone, how under the eyelids terror lurks, how suffering inscribes on cheeks the hard lines of its cuneiform texts, how glossy black or ash-fair locks turn overnight to tarnished silver, how smiles fade on submissive lips, and fear quavers in a dry titter. And I pray not for myself alone . . . for all who stood outside the jail, in bitter cold or summer's blaze, with me under that blind red wall.
President Bush has declared that he has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize and imprison any American citizen whom he alone determines to be a threat to our nation -- without an arrest warrant, without notifying them of what charges have been filed against them, and without even informing their families that they have been imprisoned. The president claims that he can simply snatch an American citizen off the street and keep him or her locked up indefinitely -- even for the rest of his or her life -- and refuse to allow that citizen the right to make a phone call or talk to a lawyer -- even to argue that the president or his appointees have made a mistake and imprisoned the wrong person. . . .So a constitutional right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we used to think of in an old-fashioned way as "inalienable" can now be instantly stripped from any American by the president with no meaningful review by any other branch of government.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."