Conservative religionists are at it again. Now some of them want us to boycott Google. Here are their top three reasons:

1. Divorce – is a leading factor in divorce and family breakups today. 2. Child Abuse – is a leading factor in towards women and children today. 3. Biggest Culprit – Google is by far the biggest and most popular source of material on internet.

Got it? Toss this one in the Impotency Leads to Idiocy file.

You can find more of their complaints and sign their petition on Blogspot, the Google-owned blog hosting service, at

Bill Clinton on the need for a higher level of consciousness

A sad commentary on spirituality and politics: even someone so esteemed as Bill Clinton must apologize for appearing to be “touchy-feely” for interjecting a loaded word like “consciousness” into our public discourse.

If ordinary people don’t perceive that our grand ideas are working in their lives, then they can’t develop, the higher level of consciousness, if I can use a kind of touchy-feely word, that American philosopher Ken Wilber wrote a whole book about, called A Theory of Everything. He said, you know, the problem is the world needs to be more integrated but it requires a consciousness that’s way up here, and an ability to see beyond the differences among us. So I worry about that.–Bill Clinton

His point, I think, is indisputable. And therefore almost completely ignored by the chattering classes.

For more, see Vince Horn’s post.

Study: Republicans more biased against blacks

Here’s an interesting piece of research. Via Slog.

“If anyone in Washington is skeptical about these findings, they are in denial,” [Jon Krosnick, a psychologist and political scientist at Stanford University] said. “We have 50 years of evidence that racial prejudice predicts voting. Republicans are supported by whites with prejudice against blacks. If people say, ‘This takes me aback,’ they are ignoring a huge volume of research.”

Keep the research into the social psychology of politics coming. We need to break the hold of the deeply rooted prejudice that politics is primarily an exercise in public reason.

The silence of the religionists

The following post contains graphic and good-taste-defying descriptions of mind numbing, humanity draining, stomach churning, breathtakingly evil sentiments by a religionist. Read on at your own risk.

Cheers to Tarry Mattingly, the religion professor and journalist behind GetReligion, for this piece about the increasing prevalence of graphically depicted torture scenes on network TV, and the silence of the religionists. “[M]ost religious groups are totally silent about the role that entertainment plays in daily life,” he says, “other than to blow the warning trumpets every year or two about sex in a specific show or movie (as if waves of teen-agers are rushing out to see Brokeback Mountain)…”

He’s one of the good guys.

Jeers to Greg Popcak, Mr. Exceptional Marriages himself, who–writing in a comment on this post at GetReligion–explains why as a “Christian” he finds torture scenes such as those in the movie Hostel to be less morally offensive than the love scenes in Brokeback Mountain.

Here’s the argument of Mr. Exceptional Marriages in full:

Here’s my take, for what its worth. I won’t be patronizing either; Brokeback because it doesn’t speak to me and I don’t care to line the pockets of those who have a cultural agenda opposed to mine, and Hostel because I think it is in horrible bad taste and I don’t care to encourage that kind of “entertainment.”

That said, I still find Hostel less objectionable than Brokeback because:

(1) No one in decent society is suggesting that snuff-porn based “relationship” should be the cultural norm between two consenting adults and that people who want to kill each other in the name of love should be granted the same status as married people and

(2) Even in an awful movie like Hostel, there is no question that what we are witnessing is evil. It might be awful to watch, but then, evil always is. Fascinatingly awful. Brokeback is MUCH more morally ambiguous.

(3) As some have noted, Hostel can be used to illustrate how objectification of people for sex can lead directly to the objectification of people for torture. If I can use people however I want (pleasure/contraception), why can’t I abuse them however I want (torture for thrill)? I think it is much more difficult to draw similar clear moral lessons from Brokeback.

(4) Picking up on this theme, in Hostel, evil is either clear and, ultimately, unattractive as a way of life, or obviously punished. This is actually a common ethic in the whole horror genre which is why some argue that the horror drama is actually the modern answer to the traditional morality play. Brokeback, again, is much more ambiguous, and although the protagonists experience pain as the result of their actions, I am not certain that the movie makes it clear that the pain is the result of their actions rather than the result of a society that prohibits them from “being who they really are.” Therefore, anthropologically speaking Brokeback is more objectionable—I would argue—than a movie like Hostel, and even though a movie like Hostel is decidedly uglier, that is part of its moral appeal—if you will.

I don’t know Popcak, but I want to ask anyone who can write this sort of drivel: When did you lose your humanity, man? When did your heart stop pumping the same blood that flows through the blood of us all? When did your cold, hardened, shriveled mind start spewing rationalizations of the most Nazi-like variety, and relabeling such evil as Christian? God have mercy on you.

Well, Poppy, these words are for you. I have seen both these movies. I had been planning to wait to see Hostel on video, but your comment changed my mind about that. I had to see for myself if anyone in his or her right mind could compare these two movies and come to your conclusion. I saw them back to back just yesterday. Hostel in the afternoon sickened me so much I left the theater wanting to vomit. It was more graphic, more gruesome than anything I had ever seen depicted on film before. None of the characters were likable, but you may be interested to know that the slightly more likable characters, the ones with a shred of conscience, the almost innocent ones, well, they died the worst. They got tortured longer and more gruesomely than the rest, drills and screws in the eye sockets and all that.

Thinking of your evil post, Mr. Exceptional Marriages, I felt compelled to go out to see Brokeback Mountain in the evening. I heard your voice in my head, and I wished it would be silent. That Popcak voice that could tolerate torture and abhor love, and do so in the name of all that is most sacred. I could still hear it even as the story of the sadness and brokeness of humanity came home to the audience, and the waves of crying began among the audience moved to grief. I cried, and I even cried for you, that you must live with such darkness within your soul, and when you lash out with your thought turds on the Internet, the suffering of the world grows. Perhaps my tears can help bring some silence in my head from the harmful words you breathed like pollution into the blogosphere, Mr. Exceptional Marriages. Perhaps they can tame my rage, and turn even my anger into a source of clarity rather than destruction.

None of the readers of Mattingly’s GetReligion blog found Poppy’s comments objectionable enough to respond critically. Makes one wonder if the guy’s opinion that torture is more morally acceptable subject of film than same-sex love might very well be a mainstream opinion among many religionists. If true, that would explain a lot about the silence Mattingly hears in the pews.

But I choose to have more faith in humanity than that. I choose to have more faith in Christians. I have sat in a theater watching Brokeback Mountain filled with hundreds of gay and straight couples on dates, and heard the sobs of women and men. For every heart ruled by the darkness of ignorance and twisted by corrupt thoughts, there are many more hearts still beating with love, still growing, learning, and identifying with the suffering of others. Tortured souls need not become torturing souls, if they are open to love and truth. It’s a hard world to be human, but not impossible.

Three blogs

I get mail asking why I so frequently comment on Andrew Sullivan’s blogs and articles. (I also occasionally get mail telling me I shouldn’t care what he thinks. Sullivan has earned his share of enemies in the gay community.) No mystery, basically he’s my favorite mainstream blogger and I think his writing is a great touchstone. He’s certainly one of the few mainstream bloggers taking an approach that is arguably integral (though still miles away from AQAL or STEAM-based). I am frequently disappointed by some of his flatland politics, but I learn a helluva lot even when I disagree. What more could anyone want of any writer?

Tonight, Sullivan linked to another site called Independent Gay Forum, and praised it. So have I (see “Why I Read Independent Gay Forum,”) and I also praise this site and recommend its articles. The site’s writers have earned Sullivan’s praise (Dale Carpenter’s columns are usually the most thought provocative, in my opinion), but I simply cannot let Sullivan’s characterization of the site as “non-left” go unchallenged. Of course, Sullivan is merely repeating the Indegayforum party line, that theirs is the “alternative” to the gay left. What’s truly accurate is that theirs is a genuine alternative to the left by presenting conservative, libertarian, and classical liberal opinions only. And that’s all they offer. Of course, to their readers like Sullivan, that’s all there is that’s worth mentioning on the “non-left.” Puke.

From the standpoint of an integral philosophy, Independent Gay Forum is primarily a sounding board for mostly rationalist-level writing by some of the gay community’s best writers. There is occasionally an integral bent to a piece, and when I find it, it always makes me happy to see. And their opponents on the mainstream left are mostly rationalists. And with their opponents on the far left in gay academia, you have a heavy pluralist streak. Not exactly a huge difference between the left and the so-called “non-left,” from where I’m standing.

P.S.: In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that I have in the past (it’s been a few years) submitted a few of my previously published columns to Independent Gay Forum for publication, and they were all rejected without explanation. For example, I submitted one of my best columns, a piece about gay and straight men healing from sexual abuse, and I drew the connections to healing homophobia on the terrain of individual consciousness. Rejected. Too spiritual, I guess. (They include stories by religionists, but only the rationalist-level stuff like explanations for why Roman Catholic natural law philosophy isn’t rational enough.) The story I make up is that their editors have no use for spirituality and are utterly clueless about the connections between inner growth, consciousness, and cultural/political change.

Subsequently, I founded Gay Spirituality & Culture where writers and readers less clueless about spirituality can congregate and see what magic might develop… It’s a group blog that allows for voices and perspectives excluded by the rationalist-level blogs like The Daily Dish and Indegayforum. The motto begins with this phrase: “We are a group of independent writers with interests in inner transformation, personal growth, spirituality, religion, and culture …” It’s still a baby, and I make no claims that it’s all that, but feel free to check it out. The GS&C blog will turn two years old in just over a week. Ghandi once said that you have to “be the change” you want to see in the world. Not everybody gets that, but some blogs are drawing the connections.

100 words or less

Homophobic, “Christian” preacher says stupid, homophobic things, advocates stupid, anti-gay boycott, is caught in lies, and then advocates even more stupid, laughable, anti-gay measures called a “buy-and-dump stock scheme.” Just the same run of the mill story that’s overly familiar by now.

Enough said, almost. There’s something about impotence breeding idiocy. And then there’s this: he’s not worth it. My own personal boycott is to refuse to write more than 100 words about any homophobe this moronic. The disgust, righteous anger, and gleefulness… I try to save my energy for more worthy targets. Sadly, they’re out there.

Promiscuity, testicle size, and brain size in males linked

Studies of bats and other mammals have found that the average brain size is 36 percent bigger among monogamous males than promiscuous males, researchers say. In bat species with promiscuous females, the male’s body has been shown to use more of its energy to enhance the testes, costing the males the energy needed to further develop their brains. Promiscuity is also associated with big testicles among chimpanzees, whereas dominant gorillas with exclusive access to a harm of females are known to have small testicles.

The implication is that males of some species make a trade-off between brain power and sex appeal. In promiscuous species where there is heightened competition for male sexual success, males are more likely to choose balls over brains compared to non-promiscuous species.

If the results of this research are applicable to the human species, one might dare to speculate, then this could eventually support the stereotypes that associate physical beauty and sexual prowess with low intelligence. Jokes and prejudice surrounding “muscle meatheads” and “blonde bimbos” could get scientific reinforcement. Potentially, stereotypes about breast, penis or ball size could also be put at play. If, say, large penises are supposedly linked to lower intelligence and smaller penises to higher intelligence, then the racial and ethnic aspects of such linkages would become politically and culturally explosive.

Reason not involved in partisan decision-making, study says

Researchers hooked up the brains of staunch Democrats and Republicans to brain-scanning devices and asked the partisans to examine contradictions made by political candidates. Here’s what they found, according to a report on MSNBC:

We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.”The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.

Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

“None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged,” Westen said. “Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones.”

The cycle formerly known as partisan “reasoning”: ignore the contradiction, get disgusted, rationalize away the feeling of disgust, and then bask in the drug-like high one gets from having one’s deepest prejudices confirmed. This explains, in part, why I find most political weblogs on both the left and right so brain-dead that I can’t stand to read them. It’s just a bunch of blah blah blah blah blah blah. I tend to skim them for various impressions of “what’s passing as political ‘reasoning’ these days…”

Too busy to blog

But check out these fluffy links: on racism and white privilege from TimBomb… on integral relationships from Bill… on defining religiosity from landonville… on beadaholism by Jean… Greg’s post on recovery and more… and then there’s Hugo’s “Another long one on Christianity, feminism, ezers, and gender roles” post that I haven’t had the energy to reply to yet. Will definitely write something up by 2007.

Update: Can’t wait to write about Naomi Wolf’s encounter with Jesus.