Daily Links 21 December 2004

The Shelf-Life of Angels
Bia Lowe investigates the devolution of angels, lyrics, and humanity: “It is still a mystery as to why A. curiosa [“angels”] developed a mouth part, since there was no apparent need — nothing to be gained, nothing to be transcended, nothing, indeed, to be fought, won, or defended. These early mouth parts were concentrations of chitonous material, likely used to scrape, gnaw or puncture flora, though it is not clear whether such activities were required for eating or for purposes of aggression. It is, however, quite likely that these proto-mouths gave rise to the first lyric, as remnants survive today within the ectomorphic vestiges of such celestial hand-me-downs as, say, the ad jingle and the pop song chorus; or endomorphically within the relentless — in fact maddening — sing-songs of various psycho-dynamic pathologies, such as OCD.” More…
Baldwin Wants Out of the Millennial Kingdom
“Are we heading for a modern day religious inquisition, this one led not by the Catholic Church but by the Religious Right?” Who wants to know? Baptist Senior Pastor Chuck Baldwin, who, with his four fundamentalist Christian degrees, his record of service in the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, the anti-abortion movement, the pro-Ten Commandments movement, the NRA and the election campaigns of several conservative politicians, could safely be called a member of the Religious Right. Yet Baldwin’s feeling far from at home as he sees his movement become a hollow one “without a cause, except the cause of advancing the Republican Party.” One which has sacrificed its principles “in order to sit at the king’s table.” Among Baldwin’s top complaints: the Religious Right put up no resistance to the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, the national I.D. card, and what he finds most troubling: the RR’s “Christianizing” the politicians it supports, while demonizing the rest. “I used to believe that liberals were paranoid for being fearful of conservative Christians gaining political power. Now, I share their trepidation…”
Same As It Ever Was
China’s new regulations on religious affairs — described by the government as a safeguard of religious freedom — are unlikely to actually increase the free practice of unofficial religions, such as China’s many underground Catholic and Protestant house churches, and the Falun Gong movement, which the Chinese government has called an “evil cult.” Analysts say the new rules will still stress the dominion of the state over religion, and only state-sanctioned religions will benefit from the protections. “‘For those [religions] which are not registered,'” said Chan Kim-kwong, of the Hong Kong Christian Council, “‘Chinese government’s dismissal of them in terms of banning or punishment will be stepped up. When the grey areas have gone and if you’re not registered, you won’t be in the game anymore.'”
Free Speech is for Groups of 10,000 or More
Violent protests by Sikhs in Birmingham, England ended the run of Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play, drama Behzti, or Dishonour, which contains murder and rape scenes taking place in a Sikh temple. Audience members were evacuated from the theatre Saturday night as protesters fought with riot police and caused thousands of pounds of damage. Following the destruction, a representative from a local Sikh temple, Mohan Singh, chastised the theatre for not heeding the warnings of Sikh leaders, and denied that free speech was at issue here, as: “‘Free speech can go so far. Maybe 5,000 people would have seen this play over the run. Are you going to upset 600,000 thousands Sikhs in Britain and maybe 20 million outside the UK for that?'” Sounds like Singh has a friend.
Church of Good Drinking
Since St. Mark’s Episcopal Church introduced its own homebrewed beer to the church’s “pub Sunday” lunches this fall, Sunday morning attendance is up among Gen. X and Y sinners, and parishioners aren’t sure if they could go back to commercial beer… (Via Pastor Dan of Religion News Roundup)
My Fox and My God and My G.O.P.
According to a new poll, nearly half of the land of the free thinks that Muslim Americans’ civil liberties should be restricted, with a stalwart 27% supporting the federal registration of all Muslim Americans. According to the findings of the pollsters at Cornell University, this too may be a “values gap”: Republicans and people who described themselves as “highly religious” — as well as people who watched more TV news — were more likely to support the curtailing of Muslim Americans’ civil liberties than heathens or other Dems.

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