Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for April 13th, 2011

The Corapi dyscent

Posted by Charles II on April 13, 2011

It’s rarely a housekeeping pleasure to follow trackbacks from MercRising. Usually it’s spam artists. Sometimes it’s tedious people who don’t know when they’ve lost an argument, and insist on continuing it with themselves. But very occasionally, it is rewarding.

And so I discovered Caelum et Terra (Heaven and Earth) and, in particular, that blog’s discussion of the Father John Corapi situation. A regular on EWTN, often presenting a heavily political message, Father Corapi has been accused of sexual and drug abuse. To (I would say primarily right-wing Catholics), he is a saint waiting only for death so that he may be canonized. Like C&T’s Daniel Nichols, I was a bit more skeptical. I don’t think that the peace of Christ leaves one as dour and brooding as Corapi seems to me. And, learning about the sumptuousness of his lifestyle, it’s hard to see how he could avoid falling.

There’s potentially more to the potential scandal. Corapi has been accused by one of his counselees of burning the diary of a victim of sexual abuse committed by the counselee. And, via C&T, information emerges about a for-profit company that Corapi founded to serve as the vehicle for his televangelism.

As I mentioned to C&T in thanking them for tracking the Corapi story, it’s interesting to contrast the careers of modern clerics such as Corapi with St. Francis. Although we know Francis almost exclusively through the pen of Thomas of Celano, who wrote under commissions that required him to present Francis through the most favorable lens, what is clear is that Francis understood the dangers of wealth and power. Good people can take on these burdens imagining that they will accomplish great good with them. Instead, they develop a sense of impunity, by which they tie burdens onto others that they themselves cannot bear, and judge others in ways that they would find very unfair if applied to themselves.

Consider what is being done to the poor by our government, many of whom consider themselves Christians and all of whom doubtless think of themselves as good people. They are taking away medical care from the ill, food stamps from the hungry, and the pension’s mite from the widow or widower. They do this in the name of saving the nation from bankruptcy (the hypocrisy of which is evident in the fact that the wealthy and corporations are not called upon to sacrifice at all, but rather to reap the benefits), or–in times when there are not deficits– to improve the morality of the poor by forcing them to work and not depend on government. Never mind that 3 year olds and 85 year olds–the majority of the poor being very young or very old–are not in great demand in the work world, or that some of the benefits our government is seizing were earned, so that what our leaders are doing is morally identical to a street mugging.

This is what wealth and power brings. A sense of impunity, arrogance, greed, contempt for the poor, tyranny over the weak, and hypocrisy to keep down the stench from that rotten sewer of evil.

Francis got it. Why not church leaders today?

Posted in Christianity, religion | 5 Comments »

Honduran dictatorship, day 462

Posted by Charles II on April 13, 2011

DemocracyNow hosted Gerardo Torres, of the Resistance. He says that March was the most violent month since the coup in June, 2009. Teachers, who are protesting not getting paid, are the targets of a great deal of the violence. Zelaya has signed a letter supporting the strike. Human Rights Watch issued a letter denouncing police violence, which the State Department, clueless as ever, eh…responded to… by denouncing the violence of protesters. Brother John draws the connection between events in Honduras and in Wisconsin.

Torres also mentioned the Interamerican Development Bank’s “Honduras Open for Business” (better translated as “Honduras for Sale”) forum which is being attended by, among others, the richest man in the world, South America’s last warlord, and Haitian Viceroy William J. Clinton.

There’s lots more and, as usual, I can only deliver the barest glimpse. But keep in mind that what is going on down there is also going on here, just with a little velvet covering the brass knuckles.

Posted in Honduras, Latin America | Comments Off on Honduran dictatorship, day 462

GOP Lies About Everything: Michele Bachmann Family Edition

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 13, 2011

Welcome to yet another episode of “If a Democrat did this his or her career would be toast”:

Bachmann, who’s flirting with a presidential run, was in the early-primary state of Iowa last week for the Rediscover God in America conference. Bachmann was born in Iowa, as she told the crowd. But she couldn’t leave it at just being an ordinary Iowan:

“I’m actually even more than just an Iowan,” she told her audience. “I’m a seventh-generation Iowan. Our family goes back to the 1850s, to the first pioneers that came to Iowa from Sognfjord, Norway.”

And from there, Bachmann was off and running, spinning an American story about her ancestors, Melchior and Martha Munson, who braved a 13-week ocean passage to Quebec and from there trekked overland to carve a homestead out of the wilderness of Iowa, felling trees and building a better life for themselves on the frontier.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t hold water, as researcher Chris Rodda ably points out at OpEdNews.

How off is Bachmann’s revisionist history? Really off. As in really, really, really off:

Since Bachmann said her great-great-great grandparents, whose names she provided, emigrated from Norway to Iowa in the 1850s, I searched the 1860 federal census for them. I started by searching for a Melchior Munson in Iowa, but came up empty. But, since unfamiliar foreign first names like Melchior were often misspelled or Americanized when written down by census workers, I didn’t think it was unusual not to find him on the first shot. So I tried Martha Munson, Melchior’s wife, since Martha was a common name that wouldn’t be misspelled. Still nothing. So I broadened my search to include sound-alike last names for Munson, in case it was their last name that was misspelled. Still nothing. Giving my search one last shot, I removed all search parameters except the first name Martha and the last name Munson, including any sound-alike last names. It was only then that I found Melchior and Martha — but not in Iowa. They were in Wisconsin.(1) So, there went that part of Bachmann’s ‘Iowanizing’ of her family history. Her great-great-great grandparents hadn’t gone from Quebec to Iowa. They had settled in Wisconsin.

And what about all those hardships that Bachmann says her ancestors persevered through during their first few years in Iowa — the worst winter in fifty years, the worst flooding in forty-two years, the worst drought that anyone had ever recorded, and a plague of locusts to boot? Well, obviously, none of this happened in Iowa, because her ancestors weren’t in Iowa. And it didn’t happen in Wisconsin either. This all happened in the Dakota Territory. That’s where Melchoir and Martha Munson and their children were from 1861 to 1864.(2) Like many Norwegian immigrants who had settled in Wisconsin, the Munsons set out for the Dakota Territory once Congress made it a territory in 1861.


But it’s not just where these events occurred that Bachmann is lying about in her revisionist version of her “Iwegian” family history. According to Bachmann, her ancestors “kept going, and they persevered, and they were people of faith.” But did her faithful ancestors really persevere and keep going? Well, no. They were among the settlers written about in the History of southeastern Dakota who “abandoned the Territory for the purpose of making homes elsewhere.” That’s how Melchior and Martha Munson ended up in Iowa — seven years after they came to America. By the time the Munsons abandoned the Dakota Territory in 1864, there was a well established Norwegian community in Chickasaw County, Iowa, so that’s where they stopped and resettled. Clearly, Iowa was never the intended destination of Bachmann’s great-great-great grandfather and grandmother when they left Norway in 1857, as she claims.

Bachmann even fudges the number of generations from Melchior’s and Martha’s to her own: Depending on how (and who) you count, it could be as few as four or as many as six, but it’s not seven. Then again, considering she’s an adherent of the Christian nationalist revisionist history movement as espoused by David Barton and John Eidsmoe (aka “Liars for Jesus” as Rodda calls it), this shouldn’t be surprising.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in Michele Bachmann, Minnesota, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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