Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hi, Mr. President!

As much as I am looking forward to just starting over with a new life on the west coast this spring, I freely concede that one of the great things about living in New York is the frequency of random celebrity sightings.

True, once back in high school I saw local news anchor Tracy Barry at the Canyon Road Fred Meyer, but -- forgive me -- somehow that's not quite on the same level as passing Julia Roberts in Central Park, seeing Hugh Jackman coming out of the theater after The Boy from Oz, riding in an elevator with Michael J. Fox and Alec Baldwin (not at the same time; they both lived in my voice teacher's building), or sitting in front of Kiri Te Kanawa at a movie theater (Good Will Hunting at the multiplex on 68th Street). Once I even rode in a limousine with David Boreanaz. (Long story involving other WB celebrities. He was very nice.)

I haven't any idea what I'm going to be doing for work back on the Left Coast, but it's a reasonably safe bet that whatever it is, the President of the United States won't be flying past my window on a regular basis.

Here at the national headquarters of The Homosexual Agenda, we are fortunate enough to have lovely, expansive views of Brooklyn across the East River, including the heliport at the end of Wall Street. (My view is less impressive, but I'm grateful for it nonetheless. Yes, that's the Brooklyn Bridge. Or part of it, at any rate.)

"The Decider" is in town today to "bring his economic message out from the shadows of the Iraq war," as the AP puts it, in a speech on Wall Street. Whenever he's in New York, we gather in the better offices to watch the motorcade greet the fleet of helicopters that descend on the pier. Today for whatever reason, they came straight down FDR Drive and flew so close to our building that we could see the faces of the passengers.

As you might well imagine, we simply adore the President and gave him a warm wave.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Beware January 30

Yipes. Maybe it's better to stay home today. Here are some things that happened in history on January 30:

1649: King Charles I of England beheaded.

1933: Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.

1948: Gandhi assassinated.

1968: Tet Offensive began.

1972: Northern Ireland's "Bloody Sunday" massacre.

2006: ExxonMobil posts the highest quarterly and yearly profits for any American company in history.

And finally: Happy 66th Birthday, Dick Cheney!

Friday, January 26, 2007

If God Doesn't Exist, Why Are There So Few Atheists?

Many atheists regard religion as nothing more than fairytales invented to explain the unexplainable or fantasies of hope in a hopeless world; “the opium of the masses” goes the popular quote. They claim religion defies logic and rejects reason, resting on beliefs which could appeal only to the hopelessly stupid, the desperate or the manipulative. They tend not to give religion very much thought, because they assume its adherents have given it virtually no thought at all.

They ask questions like, “If God exists, how can there be so much suffering in the world?” and because they cannot provide an answer, they assume there isn’t one. Indeed, like the Sam Harris piece I linked to earlier this week, they triumphantly tout their unanswered questions with a distinctly defiant “A-ha!” tone of voice. “You Christians never thought of that, did you?” goes the subtext.

Compounding this problem is that (especially in America) there are multitudes of Christians who frankly have not given such important questions sufficient thought, and who spew forth copious nonsensical verbiage blaming natural disasters on homosexuals, for example. Primetime Christianity is not, alas, an intellectually serious or theologically coherent movement. Fundamentalist Christians, for all their protestations of belief in Biblical inerrancy, are often ignorant of what Jesus said about tragedy and suffering.

But that doesn’t mean no Christian has ever pondered tough questions and come away with faith intact. John Stott wrote, “The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith. Its distribution and degree appear to be entirely random and therefore unfair. Sensitive spirits ask if it can possibly be reconciled with God’s justice and love.”

At the heart of the misunderstanding is anthropomorphism, the old “If I were God” conundrum. “If God is omniscient,” they want to know, “then how come (fill in the blank)?” Are you claiming omniscience? The answer (forgive my snark) is that God knows what you don’t. Just as a good parent often makes decisions that a child will reject as unfair, God acts in our lives in ways that often do not become clear until we have gained perspective with the passage of time and the accumulation of experience and wisdom. Good parents sometimes have to let their kids stumble and fall, so they learn from their errors.

That dismissive atheists like Harris have not really put much thought into their judgments on religion is readily apparent in issues like suffering. If the question is “How can God permit so much suffering,” I have a couple of questions in return.

First of all, what is suffering? If I plan a trip to the beach but it rains, I am unhappy. Would you say, though, that I am suffering? Probably not. If I am a teenager in Darfur who has just witnessed his village burned and his family massacred in the middle of the night and I am fleeing for my life naked into the desert, you would probably say I’m suffering. Fair enough. But where is the dividing line between unhappiness and suffering? In order for a loving God to exist, must we never be unhappy?

How much suffering is “so much” that God could not possibly exist? People often point to the Holocaust, in which 13 million people were exterminated. How could God let that happen? (The better question, which God would like an answer to, is how did we let that happen?) If the Nazis had only killed 12 million, might there be a God? Six million? A hundred-thousand? Ten? One? Where is this line we cross between enough suffering that God is a possibility and too much? This is a difficult question to answer, especially since we’re not even clear on where mere unhappiness ends and suffering begins.

Here’s a question for atheists to answer, one posed by St. Augustine in the 4th century: “If there is no God, why is there so much good in the world?”

The fact that even atheists like Harris claim to be able to identify a distinct difference between the way the world is and the way it ought to be means there is a universal supposition of a standard of supreme good to which we should all aspire. Is that merely a byproduct of evolution? Frankly, the desire to kill others we judge different from ourselves sounds like the more Darwinian instinct.

Why didn’t God create a world without suffering? The simple answer is, He did. But he also gifted humanity with free will, which would be meaningless without the freedom to choose to do harm. Free will is either unconstrained or it is an impossibility.

Imagine a world without suffering. Really imagine it. It would be a world devoid of any of the human traits we value the most. What is generosity without poverty? What is heroism without danger? What is altruism without imbalance? What is sacrifice without cost? What is justice without cruelty? What is acceptance without bigotry? Courage without fear? Could we define sweetness without bitterness? For that matter, how could we prize unconditional love so highly if there were no hatred?

And if we have never suffered, how would we learn compassion?

We must also consider that even grotesque evil and senseless tragedy contain within themselves the potential for good. How many of us can say we have been through difficult periods in our life but are nonetheless better for having learned from the experience? Suffering gives us insight and earns us credibility.

Let’s go back to the Holocaust. It is likely the civil rights movement of the 1960s could not have taken place without the perspective that humanity gained from the racism of Nazi Germany. We learned – well, some of us did – that when we classify people merely according to arbitrary characteristics such as ethnicity, nationality, skin color, religion, gender or sexual orientation, when we group them by random categories of our choosing, we stop seeing them as individuals, and we stop valuing them as humans. Before we know it, we’ve killed 13 million of them.

When we start to consider these factors, it becomes clear that a life without suffering is a life without meaning. And if anything suggests the absence of God, it would be a meaningless life.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Who Are the Final Five?

WARNING: Potential "spoilers" ahead if you haven't seen the most recent episode.

This past Sunday, on the first episode of the second half of the third season of SciFi’s Battlestar Galactica, Cylon agent D’Anna Biers beheld – or thought she did, at any rate – the five remaining “skinjob” Cylon models that have not been revealed, before her model was deactivated and her memory “boxed,” or placed into cold storage.

The identity of one of the final five Cylons seemed to surprise her very much. Who might it have been?

Admiral William Adama: No. He’s been active in the colonial fleet since the original Cylon models rebelled, long before they had developed the technology to impersonate human beings. He has, we presume, two biological human children. Because the Helo-Athena hybrid is supposedly the first of its kind, anyone with children is probably ruled out. Also in the miniseries, Cylon Leoben was overcome by radiation at the weapons depot that left Adama unaffected. And why bother shooting him?

Commander Lee Adama: Also highly unlikely, for the reasons given above. Do Cylons “grow up”? Do they age? We don’t know yet, other than to say we have never seen any models that weren’t adults. But presumably longtime friends of Admiral Adama – such as Colonel Tigh – knew Lee as a child.

President Laura Roslin: Probably not, since we know that Cylons are immune to disease and President Roslin had breast cancer, which only disappeared when she received a Cylon blood transfusion.

Dr. Gaius Baltar: Possibly…but then why the elaborate ruse of sending Caprica Six down to seduce him to gain access to the security mainframe before the attack? Why not just activate him?

Colonel Saul Tigh: Again, a military officer who has been involved in the struggle against the Cylons since before they developed the technology to appear human, so probably not.

Ellen Tigh: In her first appearance on the hilarious episode “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down,” they seemed to make several suggestions that she was a potential Cylon suspect. She was executed for collaborating with the Cylon occupiers on New Caprica earlier this season, but if we see her again…we’ll know!

Chief Galen Tyrol: Possible, but see Helo below.

Anastasia “D” Dualla: Possible.

Lt. Felix Gaeta: Possible. It would be nice to have a handsome gay Cylon.

Karl “Helo” Agathon: No. He was the chosen subject of the Cylons’ first crossbreeding experiment. His daughter with Sharon “Boomer” Valerii, Hera, is understood to be the first (and so far only) hybrid. This casts doubt that Chief Tyrol or his wife Callie could be Cylons, though since the final five remain unknown even to the original seven, we can’t be sure.

Kara “Starbuck” Thrace: Alas, she gets my vote to be the secret Cylon who astonished D’Anna. She’s roughly the same age as Boomer, and, like Sharon, has only memories of a family but no actual family members (like the Adamas) that we have met. A Cylon identity explains why she is the top Viper pilot in the fleet, as well as why she so easily and quickly figured out the avionics of the captured Cylon raider. It would make perfect sense that she would be inserted into the Fleet Academy before the attacks to become a close confidante of the Adama family. Finally, in this most recent episode, we discovered that she has a secret, mysterious connection to the Eye of Jupiter, an icon located in the algae planet temple where D’Anna saw “the final five.” On the other hand, her capture by the Cylons on Caprica, when she apparently underwent some kind of operation or medical experiment in the breeding farm, would remain hard to explain.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Problem of Suffering

The question of why bad things happen to good people undoubtedly dates back to the mists of pre-history, when our ancestors first developed the ability to pose the question, “Why?” The tendency has been to answer the inexplicable with “God.”

It’s a serious question, and it deserves serious thought. What does the existence of suffering say about God?

Dagon linked to a piece from October 2005 by Sam Harris, entitled, “There Is No God (And You Know It).” Harris opens by presenting a likely scenario: A little girl is abducted, raped, tortured and killed, and while this is happening, her parents are innocently maintaining belief in a loving God who is watching out for them.

The argument here is that if God truly were omnipotent, omniscient and caring, He would never let atrocities and tragedies occur. As they do occur with regularity, either God is a hypocrite or, more likely, He simply does not exist. “If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or evil.”

My first reaction to this essay was disdainful anger. Harris mocks people of faith with dripping condescension: “Atheism is not a philosophy; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious.” Or, “atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma.”

Harris assumes that people of all religions have the same fundamental beliefs about the nature of God and His role in the world (which is as sophisticated as assuming all Americans support George W. Bush), and because he thinks of faith as willing surrender of analytical thinking skills in favor of uncritical acceptance of a highly illogical belief system that demands adherence even in the face of reason and science, he doesn’t stop to consider that many people of faith have wrestled with this very question and come to conclusions far from the one he claims we all share.

The response to accusations like this is necessarily complex. It involves thoughts about free will and conscience, mortality, and though the phrase may sound strange, the benefits of suffering. The answer to “Where is God in the midst of all this tragedy?” can be found in the results of a Washington Post poll that Harris himself links to: 80% of Hurricane Katrina survivors responded that the experience strengthened their faith, a phenomenon we also saw with the 2004 Tsunami. Harris sees this as evidence of the utter idiocy of religious people, when the ironic truth is that far from proving that suffering indicates the absence of God, it is during our darkest hours that God is most present.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How Time Flies When You're Having Stress


That pretty much sums it up.

Yes, I'm still here. I have been so busy lately -- both at work and in planning my upcoming move -- that I haven't had time or energy to follow the news or even read anyone's blogs. I haven't seen another person's blog in a week. I'll try to catch up this weekend. I have no idea what's happening in the world. The only time I have for current events is reading the cover of The New York Post that the person in front of me on the subway is holding. Basically, if I understand correctly, the week's top story is that Lindsay Lohan is in rehab.

This week was hard. Without going too much into it, I'm having some disagreements with my supervisors at work over priorities.

Also it is becoming apparent that the best strategy for relocation means abandoning almost everything I own. The cost of replacing my furniture and other banal possessions is only slightly higher than the cost of moving them across the country, so it seems like the better investment would be to just buy new things upon arrival. This also has the advantage of not needing a place to put an apartment's worth full of crap somewhere until I have a new home.

I've had a lot of sleepless nights lately. I think I understand why people turn to drugs. My mind would not get off the issues facing me. Either I was lying in bed arguing in my head with my bosses, getting angry over things I only fantasized they were saying (however likely it might be that they might eventually say them), or I was constantly turning over my spring calendar and fretting over all the things that could go wrong and brainstorming things I have to do, accounts to cancel, hotel options to research, gas costs to estimate, blah blah blah.

Try as I might, I just couldn't get my brain to leave it alone. I need to get back to my yoga practice, but every time I try to sit still and breathe and relax, my brain starts yelling at me, "You have too much to do!" I can't read, I can't listen to music, I can't watch TV. I just can't focus on anything. My brain just hijacks itself and goes back to work and moving.

Last night I had a good friend's birthday party to go to, but I came home and stretched out on the sofa and flipped on Animal Planet, and then promptly fell asleep and woke up at 10:45. I hadn't eaten dinner or anything, and I couldn't possibly have gotten to the party before midnight anyway, so I made a frozen pizza that I had in the freezer and then tried to go back to bed. Then of course I couldn't sleep. Ah, the joys of being stressed out. You're only sleepy when you need to be awake.

Still, there's reason for optimism. The wheels are turning and things are falling into place. I have a budget for this and should be able to last for a while upon arrival until I have a permanent job. The sales are going pretty well -- I've sold twelve items and made over $100! I've updated my storefront and added a few more items, hopefully with some broader appeal, so look again if you haven't recently.

And I promise to try to get back in touch with the rest of the world as soon as I can.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Giddeup, Kitty!

So I've been looking at my money situation and trying to figure out a budget for this proposed relocation to Oregon.

Basically this is what I can afford.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ooh Heaven is a Place on Earth

When Pat Robertson claimed that America would fall victim to a large-scale terrorist attack this year, I argued that “end times” theology was a deadly threat because it leads people to uncritical support for war in the middle east and to cheer every time there is a natural disaster because, according to the fanciful chronology they have worked out by stringing unrelated fragments of scripture together, each catastrophe brings us closer to the return of Jesus. Some Christians who believe we are living the final days/weeks/years before the Second Coming and Armageddon even think we can speed up Christ’s return by pushing the Earth and its inhabitants over the brink of disaster.

For these people, Global Warming is just such a sign and cause. They do not deny that Global Warming is happening, but they react with horror to the suggestion that we should do anything to stop it, because the sooner we have pillaged every last natural resource, harvested every rainforest, poisoned every ocean and dried up the third world’s water supply while flooding the world’s lifeless coastal regions, Jesus will come back, and they will leave this used up hulk of a planet behind and go live in “heaven.”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported this week on a fundamentalist Christian family in Federal Way, Washington who managed to thwart the local school district’s attempt to show the popular documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

"The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is,” said parent Frosty Hardison. “The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD." Hardison doesn’t want to deny Global Warming, he wants to promote it.

Does the Bible really say that? True, Revelation is chock full of natural disasters, from earthquakes to hundred pound hailstones. There is a great deal of destructive imagery, but nowhere does it encourage us to incite war and rejoice at disaster, a suggestion that is as far away from the message of the Gospel as anything possibly could be.

Fundamentalists talk about the “Rapture,” a made-up event where Christians will suddenly disappear from the world and be “taken up” to heaven. But Revelation – the book they claim to take so literally – very clearly says in Chapter 21 that the Holy City, “a new Jerusalem,” comes down to us. Revelation, for all its gory imagery, isn’t about death and destruction, but hope and healing. The world isn’t going to be incinerated, but rather made whole.

The Gospels don’t present us with a Jesus who left violent instructions to encourage his return, but rather a Messiah who taught us to pray, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

We don’t tend to think of 80s pop songs in terms of their apocalyptic theology, but Belinda Carlisle, in her 1987 #1 hit “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” got a lot closer to the message of Revelation than end-times fanatics ever have:

Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth?
Ooh heaven is a place on earth
They say in heaven love comes first
We'll make heaven a place on earth
Ooh heaven is a place on earth

Hat tip: Towleroad

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Let the countdown begin.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sly, or Just Pathetic? You Decide.

Today I agreed to set up a meeting with a salesman just because he sounded hot on the phone.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Introducing: Buy My Stuff!

I'm purging my book collection and have listed 40-some titles with under the seller name "lastdebater." Please check out the link under my profile on the right and see if there's anything you'd like! Check back frequently for updates and additions.

If anyone's interested, I have some rare opera vocal scores that Amazon doesn't have listings for. If you'd be interested in the Kalmus editions of Donizetti's Belisario, Maria Padilla, Maria di Rohan and Poliuto, Bellini's La Straniera or Berlioz' Les Troyens a Carthage (Part II of the larger Les Troyens, not including La Prise de Troie), please contact me directly.

All proceeds benefit The Rocky & Starbuck Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading awareness of LGBT issues among felines of faith.

PS, if you gave me any of these books as gifts, thank you, I loved them, and I want to share them!

*Legal disclaimer: The Rocky & Starbuck Foundation is not a real organization. I will probably use your money to buy booze, or possibly move to Oregon.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Fire Me, Please

I wish I sucked so bad at my job that they had to pay me to leave.

By now you’ve probably heard about Robert L. Nardelli, the former CEO of Home Depot, who “resigned abruptly” last week “after enduring six years of mounting criticism.” The controversy wasn’t over his performance. The shareholders thought his salary -- $64 million over 6 years – was exorbitant. So they fired him, with a parting gift of about 20 years’ worth his controversial salary. The New York Times headline? Highly Paid Chief is Paid $210 Million to Go Away. (Incidentally, that’s around 20 times the size of my company’s annual budget; or, put another way, he earned somewhere just above my annual salary every day.)

Is it just me, or is something seriously rotten in the State of America?

If I got fired from my job, not only would I not expect a severance package larger than the Cook Islands GDP, I would be worried about my ability to get hired again. Yet Leon Cooperman, one of Home Depot’s largest shareholders, told CNBC “about an hour after news of Mr. Nardelli’s departure” that “he will wind up making a lot more money with a lot less grief in the private equity world.”

That’s right, fresh from being tossed out on his ear (landing on a $210 million cushion) because he was making more than $10 million a year, Mr. Nardelli can now go to the private sector where, like Mark P. Frissora, who in July left his public job where “he was only making a few million dollars a year,” he could maybe expect to earn $33 million in six months (or, my annual salary about once every hour and ten minutes).

Compared to private sector CEO’s, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts’ recent complaint seems downright modest. Federal district court judges are paid $165,200 annually; Chief Justice Roberts earns $212,100. The inadequacy of this pay scale, according to Roberts, “has now reached the level of a constitutional crisis.”

What about the other end of America’s economic spectrum? Washington Post columnist George Will said last week, “The federal minimum wage is a bad idea whose time has come….The minimum wage should be the same everywhere: $0.”

Assuming a 40-hr week, right now the federal minimum wage will earn you $10,712 annually. Will points out that “more than half” of minimum wage earners are under 25 and that 60% of minimum-wage earners only work part-time and have “an average household income…well over $40,000.” So, let’s get this straight: a $212,000 individual salary is a constitutional crisis, but a total household income of more than $40,000 – we are meant to understand that “well over $40,000” means “significantly less than $50,000 and more than one earner” – means you have no right to complain, especially if you’re under 25?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that burger-flippers are entitled to the same pay as a Chief Justice or a corporate CEO.

But is it just me, or is it obscene that corporate America complains that “regulation” – meaning federal requirements about minimum wage and benefits – renders companies “less competitive”? Competitive, in this case, has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the service or product, and everything to do with the profit margin and the size of executive pay, which is determined by how little a company is required to pay its non-executive workforce in salary and benefits. It’s not just obscene, it’s morally repulsive when executives make thousands of dollars an hour and right-wing columnists argue that non-skilled (but essential!) laborers are hampering “market forces” (i.e., executive salaries) by asking for more than $5.15 an hour.

Or, to put it another way, on the current minimum wage, you’d have to work full time for more than 19,000 years to earn what Home Depot paid Nardelli to go away.

Hat tips: Matt’s World, Dappled Things

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Photo Blogging: Crazy Cats

As it's been so long since I posted pictures of the cats, I'm sure you were all wondering if they were even still alive. Yes, yes they are. And crazier than ever. (The cat doesn't fall far from the tree, as the saying goes.)

Be careful what you say in my apartment. The trash cans have ears.

Note to self: be careful not to recycle the cat. Strange place for a nap, no?

"Thank you for finally doing the dishes so there's room for me in here."

Oh boy, bathtime! Whenever I turn on the faucets, the cats come running. (Yes, my bathroom is gross and the water is a funny color. Welcome to Washington Heights.)

Rocky likes to sit on the edge of the tub and watch it fill up. He bats at the bubbles when they get close enough. Starbuck is the one who likes to watch it drain.

Every cat I've ever known has been terrified of the bathtub. So of course here's Rocky hanging out, just letting his tail float in the tub. Having a cat sitting over your shoulder in the bathtub takes some getting used to.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Prophet or Profit?

Is Pat Robertson God’s prophet?

Yesterday on his TV program The 700 Club, Robertson claimed that God had spoken to him during a recent retreat and revealed a major terrorist attack on the United States in late 2007, a “mass killing” involving multiple cities and potentially millions of victims. “I’m not necessarily saying it’s going to be nuclear,” he clarified. “The Lord didn’t say nuclear.”

Damn right he didn’t.

Fundamentalist Christians focus on “Biblical prophecy.” Tim LaHaye, co-author of the reprehensible and heretical Left Behind novels, likes to point out that “twenty-eight percent of the Bible is dedicated to prophecy.” Millions of American Christians have come to “understand” the Bible as a secret code that reveals events as signs of the end of the world.

Fundamentalists addicted to “end-times” theology eagerly await mass disasters like the 2004 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the attacks of 9/11. They cheer on the war in Iraq, because they believe destabilization of the Middle East will bring about the “nuclear armageddon” necessary to usher in the Second Coming. Nuclear warfare plays an enormous role in the current end-times fantasies. The Left Behind books open just after a full-out nuclear assault by Russia on Israel, and LaHaye has commented that “ours is the first generation that has the technology and opportunity to uniquely fulfill the many prophecies of Revelation.”

Therein lies the significance of Robertson’s prediction. He isn’t warning us out of concern for our safety; he is announcing gleefully that millions of people are going to die, and Christians should rejoice because nuclear carnage means we are just that much closer to the return of Jesus and the baseless fundamentalist “Rapture” fantasy.

But like everything else Robertson and extremists of his ilk preach, these ideas about “Biblical prophecy” are fundamentally in error, based on a profound and heretical misunderstanding of Scripture. Prophecy, in this instance, does not mean foretelling future events.

Evangelical pastor Jim Wallis, in his best-selling book God’s Politics, calls the Biblical prophets “ancient moral articulators.” “Whom were the prophets speaking to?” he asks. Rulers, kings, judges, employers, landlords, owners of property and wealth. “Those in charge of things were the ones called to the greatest accountability. “And whom were the prophets usually speaking for? The dispossessed, widows and orphans (read: poor single moms), the hungry, the homeless, the helpless, the least, last and lost.” And “what were their subjects? Quite secular topics, really – land, labor, capital, wages, debt, taxes, equity, fairness, courts, prisons, immigrants, other races and peoples, economic divisions, social justice, war and peace.”

Lutheran pastor Barbara Rossing says, “Their task was to set God’s vision before the people so they could see it and live it. Prophets condemn injustice and greed; they advocate for the poor, for widows and for orphans.”

In short, “Biblical prophecy” is, nine times out of ten, not at all about predicting the future, but speaking truth to power.

“The Lord has just blessed him. It doesn’t make any difference what he does, good or bad,” said Robertson, speaking of President Bush in January of 2004.

Does that sound like the language of Isaiah, Micah, Amos and Habakkuk?