he has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us, and against
our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us great evils, such as
have not happened under the whole heaven, according to what has
happened in Jerusalem.”
Judges Who Judged Us
INHUMAN—PART 4: HEAVEN & HELL SCENARIOS
June 28, 2015 by SkyWatch Editor
While positive advances either already have been or will come from some of the science and technology fields we examine in the upcoming documentary INHUMAN, learned men like Prof. Francis Fukuyama, in his book, Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, warn that unintended consequences resulting from what mankind has now set in motion represents the most dangerous time in earth’s history, a period when exotic technology in the hands of transhumanist ambitions could forever alter what it means to be human. To those who would engineer a transhuman future, Fukuyama warns of a dehumanized “hell scenario” in which we “no longer struggle, aspire, love, feel pain, make difficult moral choices, have families, or do any of the things that we traditionally associate with being human.” In this ultimate identity crisis, we would “no longer have the characteristics that give us human dignity” because, for one thing, “people dehumanized à la Brave New World¼don’t know that they are dehumanized, and, what is worse, would not care if they knew. They are, indeed, happy slaves with a slavish happiness.”[i] The “hell scenario” envisioned by Fukuyama is but a beginning to what other intelligent thinkers believe could go wrong.
On the other end of the spectrum and diametrically opposed to Fukuyama’s conclusions is an equally energetic crowd that subscribes to a form of technological utopianism we will call the “heaven scenario.” Among this group, a “who’s who” of transhumansist evangelists such as Ray Kurzweil, James Hughes, Natasha Vita More (both Hughes and More are in the upcoming documentary INHUMAN), Nick Bostrom, and Gregory Stock see the dawn of a new Age of Enlightenment arriving as a result of the accelerating pace of GRINS (Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology), technologies. As with the eighteenth-century Enlightenment in which intellectual and scientific reason elevated the authority of scientists over priests, techno-utopians believe they will triumph over prophets of doom by “stealing fire from the gods, breathing life into inert matter, and gaining immortality. Our efforts to become something more than human have a long and distinguished genealogy. Tracing the history of those efforts illuminates human nature. In every civilization, in every era, we have given the gods no peace.”[ii] Such men and women are joined in their quest for godlike constitutions by a growing list of official U.S. departments that dole out hundreds of millions of dollars each year for science and technology research. The National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Commerce anticipated this development over a decade ago, publishing the government report Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance—complete with diagrams and bullet points—to lay out the blueprint for the radical evolution of man and machine. Their vision imagined that, following the year 2012, the “heaven scenario” would begin to be manifested and quickly result in (among other things):
The transhuman body being “more durable, healthy, energetic, easier to repair, and resistant to many kinds of stress, biological threats, and aging processes.”
Brain-machine interfacing that will “transform work in factories, control automobiles, ensure military superiority, and enable new sports, art forms and modes of interaction between people.
“Engineers, artists, architects, and designers will experience tremendously expanded creative abilities,” in part through “improved understanding of the wellspring of human creativity.”
“Average persons, as well as policymakers, will have a vastly improved awareness of the cognitive, social, and biological forces operating their lives, enabling far better adjustment, creativity, and daily decision making.
“Factories of tomorrow will be organized” around “increased human-machine capabilities.”[iii]
Beyond how human augmentation and biological reinvention would spread into the wider culture following 2012 (the same date former counter-terrorism czar, Richard Clark, in his book, Breakpoint, predicted serious GRINS rollout), the government report detailed the especially important global and economic aspects of genetically superior humans acting in superior ways, offering how, as a result of GRINS leading to techno-sapien dna upgrading, brain-to-brain interaction, human-machine interfaces, personal sensory device interfaces, and biological war fighting systems, “The twenty-first century could end in world peace, universal prosperity, and evolution to a higher level [as] humanity become[s] like a single, transcendent nervous system, an interconnected ‘brain’ based in new core pathways of society.” The first version of the government’s report asserted that the only real roadblock to this “heaven scenario” would be the “catastrophe” that would be unleashed if society fails to employ the technological opportunities available to us now. “We may not have the luxury of delay, because the remarkable economic, political and even violent turmoil of recent years implies that the world system is unstable. If we fail to chart the direction of change boldly, we may become the victims of unpredictable catastrophe.”[iv] This argument parallels what is currently echoed in military corridors, where sentiments hold that failure to commit resources to develop GRINS as the next step in human and technological evolution will only lead to others doing so ahead of us and using it for global domination.
Not everybody likes the “heaven scenario” imperative, and from the dreamy fantasies of Star Trek to the dismal vision of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, some have come to believe there are demons hiding inside transhumanism’s mystical (or mythical?) “Shangri-la.”
“Many of the writers [of the government report cited above] share a faith in technology which borders on religiosity, boasting of miracles once thought to be the province of the Almighty,” write the editors of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society. “[But] without any serious reflection about the hazards of technically manipulating our brains and our consciousness a different sort of catastrophe is nearer at hand. Without honestly and seriously assessing the consequences associated with these powerful new [GRINS] technologies, we are certain, in our enthusiasm and fantasy and pride, to rush headlong into disaster.”[v]
Few people would be more qualified than computer scientist Bill Joy to annunciate these dangers, or to outline the “hell scenario” that could unfold as a result of GRINS. Yet it must have come as a real surprise to some of those who remembered him as the level-headed Silicon Valley scientist and co-founder of Sun Microsystems (sm) when, as chief scientist for the corporation, he released a vast and now-famous essay, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” arguing how GRINS would threaten in the very near future to obliterate mankind. What was extraordinary about Joy’s prophecy was how he saw himself—and people like him—as responsible for building the very machines that “will enable the construction of the technology that may replace our species.”
“From the very moment I became involved in the creation of new technologies, their ethical dimensions have concerned me,” he begins. But it was not until the autumn of 1998 that he became “anxiously aware of how great are the dangers facing us in the twenty-first century.” Joy dates his “awakening” to a chance meeting with Ray Kurzweil, whom he talked with in a hotel bar during a conference at which they both spoke. Kurzweil was finishing his manuscript for The Age of Spiritual Machines and the powerful descriptions of sentient robots and near-term enhanced humans left Joy taken aback, “especially given Ray’s proven ability to imagine and create the future,” Joy wrote. “I already knew that new technologies like genetic engineering and nanotechnology were giving us the power to remake the world, but a realistic and imminent scenario for intelligent robots surprised me.”
Over the weeks and months following the hotel conversation, Joy puzzled over Kurzweil’s vision of the future until finally it dawned on him that genetic engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology posed “a different threat than the technologies that have come before. Specifically, robots, engineered organisms, and nanobots share a dangerous amplifying factor: They can self-replicate. A bomb is blown up only once—but one bot can become many, and quickly get out of control.” The unprecedented threat of self-replication particularly burdened Joy because, as a computer scientist, he thoroughly understood the concept of out-of-control replication or viruses leading to machine systems or computer networks being disabled. Uncontrolled self-replication of nanobots or engineered organisms would run “a much greater risk of substantial damage in the physical world,” Joy concluded before adding his deeper fear:
What was different in the twentieth century? Certainly, the technologies underlying the weapons of mass destruction (wmd)—nuclear, biological, and chemical (nbc)—were powerful, and the weapons an enormous threat. But building nuclear weapons required highly protected information; biological and chemical weapons programs also tended to require large-scale activities.
The twenty-first-century technologies—genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics are so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of accidents and abuses. Most dangerously, for the first time, these accidents and abuses are widely within the reach of individuals or small groups. They will not require large facilities or rare raw materials. Knowledge alone will enable the use of them.
Thus we have the possibility not just of weapons of mass destruction but of knowledge-enabled mass destruction (kmd), this destructiveness hugely amplified by the power of self-replication.
I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil, an evil whose possibility spreads well beyond that which weapons of mass destruction bequeathed to the nation states, on to a surprising and terrible empowerment.[vi]
Joy’s prophecy about self-replicating “extreme evil” as an imminent and enormous transformative power that threatens to rewrite the laws of nature and permanently alter the course of life as we know it was frighteningly revived not long ago with the creation of J. Craig Venter’s “self-replicating” Synthia species (Venter’s description). Parasites such as the mycoplasma mycoides that Venter modified to create Synthia can be resistant to antibiotics and acquire and smuggle dna from one species to another, causing a variety of diseases. The dangers represented by Synthia’s self-replicating parasitism has thus refueled Joy’s opus and given experts in the field of counter-terrorism sleepless nights over how extremists could use open-source information to create a Frankenstein version of Synthia in fulfillment of Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, which Joy quoted as, “the first moment in the history of our planet when any species, by its own voluntary actions, has become a danger to itself.” As a dire example of the possibilities this represents, a genetically modified version of mouse pox was created not long ago that immediately reached 100 percent lethality. If such pathogens were unleashed into population centers, the results would be catastrophic. This is why Joy and others were hoping a few years ago that a universal moratorium or voluntary relinquishment of GRINS developments would be initiated by national laboratories and governments. But the genie is so far out of the bottle today that even college students are attending annual synthetic biology contests (such as the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition, or igem) where nature-altering witches’ brews are being concocted by the scores, splicing and dicing dna into task-fulfilling living entities. A growing list of such dna sequences are readily available over the Internet, exasperating security experts who see the absence of universal rules for controlling what is increasingly available through information networks as threatening to unleash a “runaway sorcerer’s apprentice” with unavoidable biological fallout. Venter and his collaborators say they recognize this danger—that self-replicating biological systems like the ones they are building—hold peril as well as hope, and they have joined in calling on Congress to enact laws to attempt to control the flow of information and synthetic “recipes” that could provide lethal new pathogens for terrorists. The problem, as always, is getting all of the governments in the world to voluntarily follow a firm set of ethics or rules. This is wishful thinking at best. It is far more likely the world is racing toward what Joel Garreau was first to call the “hell scenario”—a moment in which human-driven GRINS technologies place earth and all its inhabitants on course to self-eradication.
Ironically, some advocates of posthumanity are now using the same threat scenario to advocate for transhumanism as the best way to deal with the inevitable extinction of mankind via GRINS. At the global interdisciplinary institute Metanexus, Mark Walker, assistant professor at New Mexico State University (who holds the Richard L. Hedden of Advanced Philosophical Studies Chair) concludes like Bill Joy that “technological advances mean that there is a high probability that a human-only future will end in extinction.” From this he makes a paradoxical argument:
In a nutshell, the argument is that even though creating posthumans may be a very dangerous social experiment, it is even more dangerous not to attempt it.
I suspect that those who think the transhumanist future is risky often have something like the following reasoning in mind: (1) If we alter human nature then we will be conducting an experiment whose outcome we cannot be sure of. (2) We should not conduct experiments of great magnitude if we do not know the outcome. (3) We do not know the outcome of the transhumanist experiment. (4) So, we ought not to alter human nature.
The problem with the argument is because genetic engineering is already with us, and it has the potential to destroy civilization and create posthumans, we are already entering uncharted waters, so we must experiment. The question is not whether to experiment, but only the residual question of which social experiment will we conduct. Will we try relinquishment? This would be an unparalleled social experiment to eradicate knowledge and technology. Will it be the steady-as-she-goes experiment where for the first time governments, organizations and private citizens will have access to knowledge and technology that (accidently or intentionally) could be turned to civilization ending purposes? Or finally, will it be the transhumanist social experiment where we attempt to make beings brighter and more virtuous to deal with these powerful technologies?
I have tried to make at least a prima facie case that transhumanism promises the safest passage through twenty-first–century technologies.[vii]
The producers of the upcoming documentary INHUMAN believe the “brighter and more virtuous beings” Professor Walker and others are arguing for possess supernatural elements and that the spirit behind the transhumanist nightmare will put the “hell” in the “hell scenario” sooner than most comprehend.
[i] Francis Fukuyama, Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution (New York: Picador, 2002) 6.
[ii] Garreau, 106.
[iii] Garreau, Radical Evolution, 113–114.
[iv] “Carried Away with Convergence,” New Atlantis (Summer 2003) 102–105, http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/carried-away-with-convergence.
[v] (Summer 2003 issue of The New Atlantis, http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/carried-away-with-convergence)
[vi] Bill Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” Wired (April 2000) http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy.html), emphasis added.
[vii] Mark Walker, “Ship of Fools: Why Transhumanism is the Best Bet to Prevent the Extinction of Civilization,” Metanexus Institute (2/5/09) http://www.metanexus.net/magazine/tabid/68/id/10682/Default.aspx.
The Future of the LGBT Movement May Involve Transhumanism
Posted: 06/25/2015 1:53 pm EDT Updated: 06/25/2015 1:59 pm EDT
The other night my wife and I were reading to our 4-year-old daughter a children's book that we borrowed from the public library. We came to a section where two characters -- both who were the same sex -- began having romantic feelings for each other. My wife and I smiled -- we have many good LGBT friends.
Later that evening after putting my daughter to bed, I began wondering about the future of the LGBT movement, especially after Tim Cook, Apple's CEO and probably the world's most influential technologist, recently said he was proud to be gay. It's certainly interesting to speculate on how sexuality, sexual orientation, and society's interpretation of it all will change over the next 25 years as we charge headlong into the transhumanist age.
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that the LGBT movement and transhumanism have a lot in common. Nearly all transhumanists support the LGBT cause. After all, a desire to be free to alter, express, and control one's sexual preference and identity sounds like a transhumanist concept. Advocates of transhumanism aim to alter, express, and control their bodies and preferences too, except they emphasize doing it with science and technology. If you look closely, the two movements -- especially some of their major philosophies -- are practically different sides of the same coin, and each is poised to gain strength from one another in the future as radical technologies transform the species.
In the next 25 years, the human being will undergo a larger transformation of its evolutionary body than it has undergone in the last 100,000 years. Artificial hearts will likely become better than real hearts. Telepathy via brain implants will become an important form of communication. Men will be able to give birth with implanted uteri. Each of these technologies already exists in some form and will soon be more widely available.
The million dollar question regarding these technologies is whether we will be allowed to freely use them. After all, the United States Congress is basically made up of all religious politicians, some whose faiths derive from texts that forbid anything like LGBT practices or transhumanism. Transhumanist's main goals are to overcome mortality and become as free and powerful as possible using technology--in essence, to become godlike.
For ages now, society has largely been afraid of transformation, especially when it concerns the human body or sexuality. Even today, a dozen U.S. states still have anti-sodomy laws, and LGBT people are often killed in places around the world -- sometimes stoned to death -- for their actions and beliefs. While victories have been won in the 21st century, such as in California and other states where people of the same sex can now officially marry, massive inequalities and bigotry still exist.
In the future, transhumanist technology and science will compliment the LGBT movement and help push it forward in the face of continued social oppression and closed-mindedness. This is important, since LGBT people are devoted to freedom. They want to be free to do anything they please without condemnation so long as it doesn't hurt others. Transhumanists -- a notable number who are LGBT themselves -- want the same exact thing. And they can work together to better achieve their goals.
With the onslaught of new tech and advanced medical and surgical techniques hitting the market, it's likely the LGBT movement will involve more transhumanist issues in the future. For those who are conservative and resist change, this may prove challenging. Take cybersex and virtual reality, for example, where Facebook's Oculus Rift and haptic suits will allow people from all corners of the world to have group sex if they want. Or what about fembots and sexbots, which already represent a growing 100 million dollar market? In 10 years, some robots may be as sophisticated as humans. Do we give them rights? Can we marry them? What if they're gay? What if we program them to not know if they're gay or not?
"The world is shifting under our feet," says B.J. Murphy, a pansexual transhumanist, writer, and futurist. "In 15 years, conservatives and anti-gay people will look back at the LGBT movement and yearn for an adversary so simple in its demands."
B.J. Murphy is right. The future will be anything but simple. Already, within two decade's time, parents may choose to have designer babies without certain sexual organs. Is a uterus necessary if you have ectogenesis (use of artificial wombs)? Or does it just present extra cancer risk and, for some, decades of painful, crampy menstrual cycles? Alternatively, will some religions encourage some males to be born with genetically lowered sex drives so they may have a better chance at becoming celibate priests, a shrinking vocation in the U.S.? Finally, will some seemingly narcissistic people procreate only through cloning techniques? The bizarre questions of the transhumanist age seem endless -- and they are already being asked by a growing number of people.
Frankly, I could see many humans in the future stopping physical sex altogether as cranial implant technology finds precisely the right means to stimulate erogenous zones in the brain -- something researchers are already working on. Real sex will probably not be able to match direct and scientifically targeted stimulation of our minds. Such actions may lead to a society where male and female traits disappear as pleasure becomes "on-demand," and gene therapy is able to combine the most functional parts of both genders into one entity. Not surprisingly, some institutions like marriage may end up going the way of the dinosaurs.
The LGBT movement has found firm footing in the 21st century -- a testament to the courage of its supporters. I applaud them and support their courageous efforts. As a transhumanist, atheist, and a politician, I stand ready to defend their freedoms and push their agenda forward, all the while knowing that the future will bring its own set of new challenges that none of us can easily foresee. In fact, the clash of civil rights in the transhumanist era may just be starting in a whole new way. Personhood, sexual freedom (virtual or not), and gender identity (or non-identity) will soon take on unprecedented roles in society, spurred by radical innovation and changing stereotypes of what it means to be a human being. For me, the wildcard of the future is not in society, but in the transformative technology that we invent and embrace.
HATE WINS: OREGON STATE ISSUES GAG ORDER AGAINST OPPOSING GAY MARRIAGE
by JOHN NOLTE
3 Jul 20152982
In a sign of the overt fascism and religious persecution to come in the wake of a Left emboldened by the Supreme Court’s recent gay marriage ruling, a judge in Oregon has issued a gag order denying two Christian bakery owners from speaking out against same sex marriage.
“The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” [Administrative Law Judge Alan] Avakian wrote.
The gag order is meant to stop Aaron and Melissa Klein from publicly speaking out about their desire to not bake cakes for same sex weddings. The State’s order came after the Kleins were interviewed by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, and after the State fined the Kleins $135,000 for “emotional damages” incurred by a lesbian couple after the Kleins refused to bake their wedding cake.
That this kind of fascist oppression was always the endgame in the Left’s push for same sex marriage, was apparent to anyone familiar with the Left’s tactics.
The push for same sex marriage was always nothing more the Left’s sheep’s clothing in a crusade to destroy Christians and the Christian Church.
By adhering to the word of God, the Left will label Christians bigots and haters, and use the power of boycotts and the State to punish and silence us.
Now that gay marriage is the law of the land, the gay-pride flag will become the fascist banner under which any Church that doesn’t perform same sex marriages will be dismantled piece-by-piece. The tools used by the Gaystapo will include coordinated hate campaigns in the media, as well as political campaigns aimed at removing the Church’s tax exempt status.
Christians and conservatives who never believed this could happen are part of the problem.
1995: We don’t want marriage, just civil unions.
2005: Our marriage won’t affect your rights.
2014: Bake me a cake, or else.
2015: Your opinion against same sex marriage is illegal.
Moreover, it is not discrimination to not want to be forced by the State to participate in and profit from what Christians correctly see as the sacramentalization of sin, which is what a same sex marriage ceremony is. Christians believe our very soul is at stake.
Besides the State, the true bigoted oppressor here is the fascist lesbian couple demanding Christians be silenced by the State, but only after demanding the State force a small business owner into celebrating their marriage.
Oh, and happy Independence Day.
Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country
Rod Dreher @roddreher June 26, 2015
The American flag flies in the wind in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on June 22, 2015.
Rod Dreher is a senior editor and blogger at The American Conservative.
Voting Republican and other failed culture war strategies are not going to save us now
No, the sky is not falling — not yet, anyway — but with the Supreme Court ruling constitutionalizing same-sex marriage, the ground under our feet has shifted tectonically.
It is hard to overstate the significance of the Obergefell decision — and the seriousness of the challenges it presents to orthodox Christians and other social conservatives. Voting Republican and other failed culture war strategies are not going to save us now.
Discerning the meaning of the present moment requires sobriety, precisely because its radicalism requires of conservatives a realistic sense of how weak our position is in post-Christian America.
The alarm that the four dissenting justices sounded in their minority opinions is chilling. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia were particularly scathing in pointing out the philosophical and historical groundlessness of the majority’s opinion. Justice Scalia even called the decision “a threat to democracy,” and denounced it, shockingly, in the language of revolution.
It is now clear that for this Court, extremism in the pursuit of the Sexual Revolution’s goals is no vice. True, the majority opinion nodded and smiled in the direction of the First Amendment, in an attempt to calm the fears of those worried about religious liberty. But when a Supreme Court majority is willing to invent rights out of nothing, it is impossible to have faith that the First Amendment will offer any but the barest protection to religious dissenters from gay rights orthodoxy.
Indeed, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito explicitly warned religious traditionalists that this decision leaves them vulnerable. Alito warns that Obergefell “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,” and will be used to oppress the faithful “by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”
The warning to conservatives from the four dissenters could hardly be clearer or stronger. So where does that leave us?
For one, we have to accept that we really are living in a culturally post-Christian nation. The fundamental norms Christians have long been able to depend on no longer exist. To be frank, the court majority may impose on the rest of the nation a view widely shared by elites, but it is also a view shared by a majority of Americans. There will be no widespread popular resistance to Obergefell. This is the new normal.
For another, LGBT activists and their fellow travelers really will be coming after social conservatives. The Supreme Court has now, in constitutional doctrine, said that homosexuality is equivalent to race. The next goal of activists will be a long-term campaign to remove tax-exempt status from dissenting religious institutions. The more immediate goal will be the shunning and persecution of dissenters within civil society. After today, all religious conservatives are Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla who was chased out of that company for supporting California’s Proposition 8.
Third, the Court majority wrote that gays and lesbians do not want to change the institution of marriage, but rather want to benefit from it. This is hard to believe, given more recent writing from gay activists like Dan Savage expressing a desire to loosen the strictures of monogamy in all marriages. Besides, if marriage can be redefined according to what we desire — that is, if there is no essential nature to marriage, or to gender — then there are no boundaries on marriage. Marriage inevitably loses its power.
In that sense, social and religious conservatives must recognize that the Obergefell decision did not come from nowhere. It is the logical result of the Sexual Revolution, which valorized erotic liberty. It has been widely and correctly observed that heterosexuals began to devalue marriage long before same-sex marriage became an issue. The individualism at the heart of contemporary American culture is at the core of Obergefell — and at the core of modern American life.
This is profoundly incompatible with orthodox Christianity. But this is the world we live in today.
One can certainly understand the joy that LGBT Americans and their supporters feel today. But orthodox Christians must understand that things are going to get much more difficult for us. We are going to have to learn how to live as exiles in our own country. We are going to have to learn how to live with at least a mild form of persecution. And we are going to have to change the way we practice our faith and teach it to our children, to build resilient communities.
It is time for what I call the Benedict Option. In his 1982 book After Virtue, the eminent philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre likened the current age to the fall of ancient Rome. He pointed to Benedict of Nursia, a pious young Christian who left the chaos of Rome to go to the woods to pray, as an example for us. We who want to live by the traditional virtues, MacIntyre said, have to pioneer new ways of doing so in community. We await, he said “a new — and doubtless very different — St. Benedict.”
Throughout the early Middle Ages, Benedict’s communities formed monasteries, and kept the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness. Eventually, the Benedictine monks helped refound civilization.
I believe that orthodox Christians today are called to be those new and very different St. Benedicts. How do we take the Benedict Option, and build resilient communities within our condition of internal exile, and under increasingly hostile conditions? I don’t know. But we had better figure this out together, and soon, while there is time.
Last fall, I spoke with the prior of the Benedictine monastery in Nursia, and told him about the Benedict Option. So many Christians, he told me, have no clue how far things have decayed in our aggressively secularizing world. The future for Christians will be within the Benedict Option, the monk said, or it won’t be at all.
Obergefell is a sign of the times, for those with eyes to see. This isn’t the view of wild-eyed prophets wearing animal skins and shouting in the desert. It is the view of four Supreme Court justices, in effect declaring from the bench the decline and fall of the traditional American social, political, and legal order.
We live in interesting times.
Episcopal Church to allow same-sex marriages
By Jethro Mullen, CNN
Updated 2:57 AM ET, Thu July 2, 2015
Resolutions receive strong support at meeting of church's governing body in Utah
They "provide as wide a tent as possible" for church's diversity, clergy member says
Change follows U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage
(CNN)The Episcopal Church says it will permit weddings for same-sex couples after members approved the change at a meeting of its governing body.
The decision by the church, which has about 1.9 million members in the United States, follows the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision last week to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.
The Episcopal Church has taken steps toward greater inclusiveness for same-sex couples in the past. In 2012, it approved services blessing same-sex relationships.
But those services were not considered to be marriage ceremonies by the church, whose headquarters are in New York.
Clergy keeps right to refuse to officiate
The big change came at the Episcopalian General Convention in Salt Lake City this week.
The convention's House of Deputies, which is made up of clergy and lay members, voted strongly in favor of two key resolutions Wednesday.
One removed from church canons language that defined marriage being as between a man and a woman; the other approved two new liturgies adapted for both same-sex and opposite-sex marriages.
The convention's House of Bishops had passed the resolutions the day before. They will take effect in late November.
Despite the change, Episcopalian clergy retain the right to refuse to officiate at any wedding, the church's news service said.
Opponent to change warns of 'schism'
Some Episcopalians had voiced opposition to the new resolutions.
"This will create schism in our church," said the Very Rev. Jose Luis Mendoza-Barahona, deputy from Honduras, according to an article on the House of Deputies' news website. "It goes against the charity we should be showing fellow Christians."
But such views were in the minority at the convention.
The two resolutions "provide as wide a tent as possible for the historic diversity that characterizes the Episcopal Church," said the Rev. Susan Russell, deputy from Los Angeles.
Russell, an advocate of LGBT rights in the church, said the change guarantees "access to marriage liturgies to all couples" and also protects "the conscience of clergy and bishops who dissent theologically."
I FEAR JUDGMENT BEFALLING AMERICA
Exclusive: James Dobson sees children as primary victims in high-court ruling
Published: June 27, 2012
Even though Friday’s re-definition of marriage by the U. S. Supreme Court was anticipated, I have found myself grieving over its implications for my country and for Western civilization itself. This radical decree will have a devastating affect on every dimension of culture.
I grieve most for what it will do to our children, our grandchildren and future generations. They will be taught that right is wrong and wrong is right, and that the teachings of Scripture are unreliable and inaccurate. How outrageous it is that boys and girls barely out of babyhood are already being introduced in some schools to perverse adult behavior.
Soon, public school textbooks throughout the country will be re-written and re-illustrated to conform to today’s ruling. It matters not that these revisions will contradict the beliefs and convictions of their parents. It will soon become the law of the land.
Many more vulnerable kids will grow up in homes with same-sex parents, obviously lacking either masculine or feminine role models. They are the real victims of the Court’s ruling.
Adults will suffer, too. I believe a barrage of court cases has already been planned against those who hold to politically incorrect views of marriage. Many of us will be dragged into court to be prosecuted or subjected to civil judgments. Some will lose their jobs, while others forfeit their businesses. Some will be persecuted and ridiculed and fined. Some may go to prison as the years unfold. Since same-sex marriage has now been determined to be a universal human right by the highest court in the land, it will trump religious liberty, churches, seminaries, Christian schools, businesses and a host of individual liberties. I also fear that judgment will befall this once great nation.
Here is the question of the hour. The organization I lead, Family Talk, is in accord with the National Organization for Marriage. This is an excerpt of its editorial released Friday:
We reject this decision and so will the American people. It represents nothing but judicial activism, legislating from the bench, with a bare majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court exercising raw political power to impose their own preferences on marriage when they have no constitutional authority to do so. It is a lawless ruling that contravenes the decisions of over 50 million voters and their elected representatives. It is a decision that is reminiscent of other illegitimate Court rulings such as Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade and will further plunge the Supreme Court into public disrepute.
Make no mistake about it: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) [and my organization, Family Talk] and countless millions of Americans do not accept this ruling. Instead, we will work at every turn to reverse it.
The U.S. Supreme Court does not have the authority to redefine something it did not create. Marriage was created long before the United States and our constitution came into existence. Our constitution says nothing about marriage. The majority who issued today’s ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority.
In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King discussed the moral importance of disobeying unjust laws, which we submit applies equally to unjust Supreme Court decisions. Dr. King evoked the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that an unjust law or decision is one that is “a human law that is not rooted in eternal law or natural law.”
Today’s decision of the Supreme Court lacks both constitutional and moral authority. There is no eternal or natural law that allows for marriage to be redefined.
Today’s decision is by no means the final word concerning the definition of marriage; indeed it is only the beginning of the next phase in the struggle. NOM is committed to reversing this ruling over the long term and ameliorating it over the short term.
Speaking now for our organization, Family Talk, I believe it is time for this nation to hold State Constitutional Conventions, which would allow certain provisions within the Constitution to be reaffirmed. Among these possibilities would be a provision to set term limits on judges and justices. Another clause would limit the scope of their power. Unelected, unaccountable judges would no longer override the other two co-equal branches of government. Finally, language would be inserted to restore what Abraham Lincoln referred to in his Gettysburg Address as government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Wouldn’t that be a novel idea in the 21st century?
I’ll end my comments by quoting the final words from the Manhattan Declaration, written by the late Charles Colson, professor Robby George and Dr. Timothy George. They wrote:
“… Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”
AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PEDIATRICIANS ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE RULING: ‘A TRAGIC DAY FOR AMERICA’S CHILDREN’
The Associated Press
by DR. SUSAN BERRY26 Jun 2015645
In a statement released Friday, the president of the American College of Pediatricians said the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage will have a significantly negative impact on children in the United States.
Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the College, said:
[T]his is a tragic day for America’s children. The SCOTUS has just undermined the single greatest pro-child institution in the history of mankind: the natural family. Just as it did in the joint Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton decisions, the SCOTUS has elevated and enshrined the wants of adults over the needs of children.
The College, which has members in 44 states and in several countries outside the U.S., joined in an amici brief in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that has led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states of the nation.
In the brief, the amici stated what is often the case when sound research is ignored by the left when it fails to support their causes:
Despite being certified by almost all major social science scholarly associations—indeed, in part because of this—the alleged scientific consensus that having two parents of the same sex is innocuous for child well-being is almost wholly without basis. All but a handful of the studies cited in support draw on small, non-random samples which cannot be extrapolated to the same-sex population at large. This limitation is repeatedly acknowledged in scientific meetings and journals, but ignored when asserted as settled findings in public or judicial advocacy.
The College itself has maintained that a significant body of research has demonstrated that “same-sex marriage deliberately deprives the child of a mother or a father, and is therefore harmful.”
Historic meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox head 'getting closer'
The meeting would be a significant step towards healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity
Monday 29 June 2015
An historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is "getting closer every day," a senior Orthodox prelate said in an interview published on 28 June.
The unprecedented meeting would be a significant step towards healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in the Great Schism of 1054.
"Now such a meeting is getting closer every day but it must be well prepared," Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign relations department, said in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.
He said the meeting between the head of the 1.2 billion member Roman Catholic Church and the head of Russian Orthodox Church - which counts some 165 million of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians - would take place in a "neutral" country, not in Moscow or the Vatican. Austria or Hungary were possibilities, he said.
Hilarion, one of the most influential people in world Orthodoxy, said he could not say if the meeting could take place as early as this year, but there was currently "a good dynamic" between the two Churches.
One of the biggest bones of contention is the fate of many church properties that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin confiscated from Eastern Rite Catholics, who worship in an Orthodox rite but owe their allegiance to Rome. (Getty Images)
Francis told reporters on the plane returning from a trip to Turkey last year that he had sent word to Kirill that he was willing to meet the Russian patriarch "wherever you want, you call me and I'll come".
The Russian Orthodox Church has accused Catholics of using their new freedoms of religion following the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s to try to convert people from the Orthodox, a charge the Vatican has denied.
One of the biggest bones of contention is the fate of many church properties that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin confiscated from Eastern Rite Catholics, who worship in an Orthodox rite but owe their allegiance to Rome.
Stalin gave the property to the Russian Orthodox Church but after the fall of communism, Eastern Rite Catholics took back many church properties, mostly in western Ukraine.
THE SACRAMENTO BEE
Jerry Brown signs California vaccine bill
Law eliminates religious and personal belief exemptions for vaccines
Brown says ‘the science is clear’ on vaccines
Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a ceremony for the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in San Francisco, Friday, June 26, 2015. | Jeff Chiu AP
BY DAVID SIDERS
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed one of the strictest schoolchild vaccination laws in the country, eliminating personal and religious belief exemptions for vaccines.
The governor’s signature came one day after the state Senate moved the bill to his desk, following months of protests and fierce debate at the Capitol.
“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” Brown said in a signing statement. “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”
The bill will make California the third state in the nation to require vaccines without religious and personal belief exemptions.
Proponents of the bill said it would help protect public health, while critics said it unfairly restricts parent choice.
Brown’s signature was expected. His office said earlier this year that Brown believed “vaccinations are profoundly important and a major public health benefit,” and a senior official in his office, though saying she was speaking on her own behalf, testified in favor of the measure this month.
Thousands of California parents protested the measure, Senate Bill 277, in recent months, including at a vigil outside the Capitol this week. Legal challenges are expected.
Despite passionate opposition to the bill, a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California this month found support for mandatory vaccines from 67 percent of California adults and 65 percent of public school parents.
Officials: Much of Pacific Ocean threatened by Fukushima releases, an area covering 1/3 of globe — US: “States in region understandably concerned for safety”… “Urgent need” to assess impact on food, water — IAEA begins testing around Pacific
Merkel's European Strategy Didn't Just Fail, It Failed Spectacularly
10:02 29.06.2015(updated 11:42 29.06.2015)
The protracted economic crisis in the EU has acquired a political dimension, threatening to destroy the union, Henrik Müller wrote in Der Spiegel, placing the blame for the sorry state of European affairs on the German government and Angela Merkel in particular.
The Greek crisis might be making all the headlines, but it is not what threatens the survival of the European integration project.
"The greater danger arises from the fatigue, exposed by the years of political imbalance – not only and the others, but across the EU," Müller noted, adding that the EU might be close to a point of no return.
A succession of European summits in June has revealed the true state of the EU: it is a "hopelessly overburdened and divided" entity, according to the economist.
Indeed, the challenges Europe faces are monumental: from the unprecedented amount of refugees coming in endless and ever potent waves, Islamic radicalism wreaking havoc with its acts of terror, the early stages of an arms race with Russia, the protracted and seemingly unresolvable Greek crisis and a real danger of the UK leaving the union.
Cameron’s Balancing Act © SPUTNIK/ VITALY PODVITSKI
What has Brussels offered to solve the burning issue gnawing on the EU? In one word: not enough. Müller described the bloc's decision making process as plagued by "helplessness, cowardice, selfishness."
"There is a real threat of Europe collapsing and Germany, whom the Economist called the 'reluctant hegemon,' is letting it happen," the journalist pointed out.
Merkel's strategy is two-fold, according to Müller. She stands for economic recovery through improved competitiveness of individual member states and the return of power to the Eurozone members. It could have seemed to be the path of the least political risk for the chancellor, but it created an impossible situation in the long run.
As a result of the economic strategy, endorsed by Berlin, living conditions of Europeans have hardly improved. Enormous private and public debts are the key obstacle to growth. But unlike the US or the UK, the Eurozone has no mechanism to deal with this issue. It has not been developed not least since the German government was against.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
SUNDAY’S VOTE WILL DETERMINE LIBERTY OR SERFDOM
According to history books, democracy originated in Greece
JULY 3, 2015
According to history books, democracy originated in Greece. Of course, historians could be mistaken, but this is the prevailing view among Western populations with enough awareness to be interested to know.
What we are witnessing today, July 2, 2015, is that after 2,500 years in the Western World only the current Greek government is interested in democracy. The Greek government, to the surprise and consternation of every other European government, has called a referendum for the Greek people to decide the fate of Greece. For resorting to democracy, the Greek government has been universally denounced in the Western World.
So much for Western democracy.
The greatest and most successful propaganda scam in history is the one that convinces the world that they are nobody if they are not part of The West, the indispensable peoples, the exceptional peoples. If you are not part of The West you are nobody, nonexistent, a nothing.
This prevailing propaganda might prevail in Greece on Sunday, in which case a fearful and intimidated Greek population might vote against the only government that, instead of accepting a payoff from Greece’s enemies, fought for the welfare of the Greek people.
If the Greeks vote for their oppressors and against their own government, democracy in the EU will cease to exist.
2,500 years ago Greeks saved their independence from the Persian Empire. Sunday’s vote will tell us whether Greeks have again served liberty or whether they have succumbed to Washington’s Empire.
The fate of all Europeans and of Americans themselves will be settled on Sunday.
WATCH: NASA cuts live video transmission as THREE UFOs fly past Earth
NASA was reportedly forced to end a live stream from the International Space Station as THREE UFOs blasted out of Earth's atmosphere.
By AARON BROWN
PUBLISHED: 00:38, Sat, Jun 27, 2015 | UPDATED: 00:40, Sat, Jun 27, 2015
This shocking footage is causing quite a stir online.
Some have already branded the clip definitive PROOF of alien lifeforms.
The video – which is reportedly shot from the International Space Station – shows three unidentified flying objects blast out of Earth’s atmosphere.
The lights leave our planet seconds before the live video feed is cut by NASA due to a reported “loss of signal”.
An artists’ impression of a UFO – and the location of the flashing lights before the live feed ends
Conspiracy theorists have already labeled the YouTube clip – which has been watched more than 15,000 times – proof of alien life.
“BINGO Caught them red handed leaving earths orbit,” one viewer wrote on Youtube “Thats the kind of proof that is needed."
Another posted on the video sharing website: “Cut the cameras more that just confirms its true.”
The NASA footage – entitled “UFO Mysteries: UFOs, Angels Or Biological Creatures Seen Leaving The Earth?” – appeared online earlier this week.
NASA has not yet commented on the flashing lights captured during its live broadcast.
Of course, its possible the YouTube video has been doctored, or the unexplained objects are simply a trick of the light.
But this is not the first time conspiracy theorists claim NASA has inadvertently captured extra terrestrial activity.
Live streams from the International Space Station have triggered hundreds of viral videos claiming to show proof of alien crafts.
One such clip – posted on YouTube by user Streetcap1 – reportedly shows a small white disc flying near to the space station.
Critics claim the alleged UFO sightings on the live feed are simply down to NASA's poor camera and this latest sighting is likely to be a distorted view of the Moon.
Fizzy drinks lethal toll: Scientists warn they kill 184,000 a year through diabetes, heart disease and cancer
Study looked at sodas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks
Found they have no benefits but contribute to thousands of deaths
Urged world governments to eliminate such drinks from diets
By COLIN FERNANDEZ FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 17:13 EST, 29 June 2015 | UPDATED: 02:03 EST, 30 June 2015
Sugary drinks kill as many as 184,000 adults each year, scientists claim.
Fizzy soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks and sweetened iced teas are causing thousands of deaths and have no health benefits, they said.
And they warned that governments across the world should make it a priority to eliminate such drinks from people’s diets.
Researchers said sugary drinks were implicated in 133,000 diabetes deaths worldwide in one year. Another 45,000 died from cardiovascular disease and 6,450 from cancer. All three diseases have been linked to high sugar consumption.
Potentially lethal: Researchers claim sugary drinks kill as many as 184,000 adults each year (stock image)
In the UK 1,316 people are said to have died as a result of drinking sweetened drinks. Mexico topped the list, with 30 per cent of adult deaths under 45 attributed to sugary drink consumption, while Japan was lowest with 1 per cent.
Kawther Hashem, a nutritionist from the campaign group Action on Sugar, said: ‘More evidence is showing the alarming impact of sugary drinks on our health, the healthcare service and the economy. It is time these huge profit-making drinks companies took to reformulating their products with less sugar.’
The study looked at sodas, fruit drinks, sports or energy drinks, sweetened iced teas and homemade sugary drinks that contained at least 50 calories per 240ml. A can of Coca-Cola contains 101 calories per 240ml or 139 overall.
Dariush Mozaffarian, from Tufts University, Boston, and a senior author of the study, said the focus should be on cutting the drinks out of diets in order to save lives.
‘It should be a global priority to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet,’ he said.
‘Some population dietary changes, such as increasing fruits and vegetables, can be challenging due to agriculture, costs, storage, and other complexities. This is not complicated.
‘There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year.’
Health problems: Sugary drinks have been linked to thousands of deaths relating to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer (stock image)
Researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Circulation, calculated sugar consumption by examining 62 dietary surveys involving 611,971 individuals across 51 countries, along with data on national availability of sugar.
Younger adults were more dramatically affected than older people. Gitanjali Singh, who also helped write the study, said: ‘If these young people continue to consume high levels as they age, [this] will be compounded by the effects of ageing, leading to even higher death and disability rates from heart disease and diabetes than we are seeing now.’
Homemade sugary drinks are popular in Latin America and the Caribbean and taken in addition to commercial varieties.
Gitanjali Singh added: ‘Among the 20 countries with the highest estimated sugar-sweetened beverage-related deaths, at least eight were in Latin America and the Caribbean, reflecting the high intakes in that region of the world.’
Until next week...keep on believing.
therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory
(1 Corinthians 10:31)