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That address was dripping with just about every aspect of religion that makes me glad I left it.  Intolerance, authoritarianism, patriarchialism, conservatism chiefly among them. 

His speech is a classic example of the subtle negative effects of religion, and why I cannot consider it a positive influence in society.   Wrapping hatred and intolerance in the velvet robes of religious sanctimony does not make them any less hatred, bigotry and intolerance - like putting lipstick on a pig doesn't make it any less a pig.

The cure for this institutionalized bigotry is the same as for all forms of bigotry, religious and otherwise, as well as many other ills in society - a RIGOROUS requirement for the use of critical thinking and reasoning from the earliest grades through the end of university education - in a way that purges the mind of the tendency to believe in something just because believing in it feels good.  Ego is the basis for bigotry as for so many other social ills, and a rigorous education in critical thinking, and forcing students to use it habitually, breaks down egotism over time.  And with that, conservative religion - and this kind of bigoted dogmatism - doesn't stand a chance.  As long as a person can believe that something must be right because he believes it, displacing this kind of bigotry is not possible.  That is why the breaking down of ego, as taught by rigorous use of critical thinking, is so important.  It is the only way to immunize the mind from this kind of institutionalized bigotry.

You understand when my astonishment and chagrin when I learned that the GOP platform in the last election actually contained a pledge to end the "teaching" of "critical thinking" in our schools.  The rest of the world would laugh at us, and we would be crying as we devolve into a third world country no self-respecting scientist would want to work in and no scientific ideas coming out of our educational system.  Last time I considered the matter, critical thinking gave us the world wide web, solar power, and Twinkies.

Of course they want to end critical thinking.  Critical thinking, with its empiricism, is the foundation of the Enlightenment, and they want to end the Enlightenment, and replace it with a neofeudalism, with themselves as the feudal lords, of course.  Some of them literally DO long for the good old days of the Dark Ages and a return to theocracy.  I know, because more than one has come right out and told me so in response to my web pages. One actually told me that the world would be far better off if we simply returned to the ways and values of the 13th century!

The essence of conservatism, both political and social, is heirarchialism - obeisance to recognized authority - and that depends on uncritical obeisance to that authority's values.  They view that as a good thing and want to foster it.  If intellectual liberalism does any one thing, it is to instill skepticism, and that, by its nature, undermines uncritical obeisance to authority - and that is precisely why conservatives have such a visceral hatred of liberalism.  Conservatives are horrified when I declare that no nation, no religion, no ideology, no team gets my fealty without earning it.  And that I have changed loyalties early and often.  To them, that's anathema - I can't be a team player unless I am loyal, and of course the corollary to that is that I can't show fealty to the team without first subordinating my loyalty to realities which contradict the team's values.  The high value placed on team loyalty is why you saw remarkably little criticism from conservatives last year of the traveling freak show that was the Republican primary.

This is another reason postmodernist claptrap is so popular among the right - it makes it easy to align belief systems with team values.  The notion that reality is in the mind of the beholder makes it really easy to go into denial.  And hence, easy to subordinate contradictory evidence to team ideology.  Compartmentalized thinking, which is vital to a conservative to avoid cognitive dissonance, is greatly facilitated by postmodernism.

That's how a conservative can love his gay or lesbian offspring deeply and see no contradiction whatever in working hard against gay marriage and anti-discrimination laws - and express astonishment when his offspring objects. 

You know, we could use a few more like you in Texas.  You would fit right in with that hat. Of course, the minute you expressed an opinion on religion you would be tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail.  And just in case you try to escape that fate and head north, keep your nostrils open so you can smell the shit as you get close to the border.  Take one more step and you're there: Oklahoma.  The only state in the union more ignorant and narrow minded.

Go west.  New Mexico has some redeeming qualities.

If I ever moved back to the States (increasingly unlikely), Los Alamos is probably where I'd head.  Santa Fe is lovely, but I can't afford to live there.

I loved Santa Fe the one time I visited but, as you say, and Taos, too, are expensive but very chi chi. I should think there are cheaper places in N.M., perhaps Albuquerque?

But they have not legalized same sex marriage and marijuana.

Strangely enough, they never illegalized same sex marriage either.  It seems like they just sort of forgot, or assumed the only people who would marry are straight.  It's going to be interesting to watch -



As for marijuana, I don't know.  That seems like something that will snowball over the next few years.

Maybe weed will snowball as you put it (a metaphor perhaps more applicable to cocaine, lol) but I can guarantee you Texas will be the last state to legalize it even for medicinal purposes.  Last I looked we had a legislature of about 75% Republicans and they are anti-weed.

I applied for a job in Houston once.  Flew down from Phoenix and had a look around. The consultancy that was interviewing me, though, turned out to be an evangelical Christian mom and pop shop.  After seeing some of the stuff hanging on the walls in the front office, I decided that even if they offered me a job, I wouldn't take it.  They didn't.  So I didn't have to turn it down.  The fact that cops in Houston shoot or beat up unarmed suspects on an average of one a day didn't exactly light my fire, either.  Other than the suffocating conservatism and religiosity, small-town Texas is where I'd feel most comfortable.

But I must say that I love cowboy culture - was raised in it in southern Idaho, and couldn't get enough - except for the conservatism, which drives me plain over the top.  Big fan of Texas dance-hall swing.  Spent a lot of time line dancing when I lived in Phoenix at the gay cowboy bars there.  Not just being among my own, I could be liberal and not get tarred and feathered for it.

Now I find myself living in exile here in Costa Rica.  No rodeos, but we do have the occasional "gran lunada" - a kind of rodeo-lite (with the ubiquitous Mexican rancheros for music), and "topes" which are horsemanship competitions.  At least I can wear my hat and boots and fit in comfortably, and not feel out of place - even if I am a gringo.  The town where I live - a small farm and ranch town - knows that I'm gay and an atheist.  And yet they still greet me on the street - more so since the word got out!  Things have improved dramatically in Latin America in recent years.  The pedophilia scandals in the Catholic church have helped enormously to suppress homophobia down here.

Topes?  In Mexico those are "sleeping policemen": raised bumps in the road on either side of a village, meant to slow down all vehicles. I take the toll roads when I am driving there so I will not have to deal with topes.

I had a client who inherited his mom's fairly large estate, probated her will, then promptly left without even assisting me in the filing of an inventory and appriasement.  He had a wife waiting for him in C.R.  I have always wanted to visit there.  The idea of beaches in close proximity to mountains with coffee fincas is VERY enticing, though I hear the cost of living is about 2 or 3X Mexico's.



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