Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

How to Enjoy a Dubiously Progressive Film

I should probably preface this post with an admission: I absolutely loved The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Despite the abysmally low expectations set by the first Narnia attempt, I sat through Caspian in a state of gleeful enthrallment. And from an entertainment perspective, it was a surprisingly great movie: the landscape was crafted with Peter-Jackson-level expertise, the Pevensie children have become less insufferably whiny, and the sexual tension between characters Susan Pevensie and Prince Caspian was cringe-inducingly hilarious.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the original story, Prince Caspian weaves the tale of the Pevensie children’s return to Narnia after The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Since their last visit, over a thousand years have passed in Narnia and things have gotten really rough: a neighboring land has taken over everything, and all Narnians have been killed or driven into hiding. Enter attractive yet bizarrely accented Prince Caspian, the exiled heir to the throne—and Narnia’s only hope. Essentially, magical hijinks and epic battles ensue as good battles evil for power over Narnia.

Overall, Caspian is a satisfying fantasy adventure--which is not to say that the film is even close to being flawless—there were many moments when it veered into being ridiculously overwrought, unintentionally inspiring several hearty guffaws. Like the first moment that Aslan appears, beams of light triumphantly shooting out of his mane, in a blatant "Thank God! It’s Jesus!" moment. (C.S. Lewis’s original Narnia stories were modeled after Christian parables, with Aslan the lion serving as an obvious Jesus figure).

The movie versions of the tales are produced by Walden Media, financed by notoriously conservative Christian billionaire Philip Anschutz. Which had me, a staunch athiest, pseudo-maliciously poised to pounce on any thinly-veiled attempts at conversion. Of which there were surprisingly few. Most of what could be associated with a religious purpose was ambiguous. For example, a scene in which a river swells into the shape of a giant man, who then swallows the enemy army, is simultaneously a reference to the parting of the red seas and a harmless demonstration of cool Narnian magic.

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Praying Liberally: Ring the Bells

As part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the issue of Global warming, many New England United Church of Christ congregations have begun ringing their bells.

In collaboration with 350.org, the churches are attempting to ring their church bells 350 times by December 15th, the 350th day of the year.

Now, what's so special about the number 350?

Well, right now the Carbon Dioxide concentration in our atmosphere is 383 parts per million (ppm). This high number is the result of carbon emissions from cars, factories and basically anything that burns stuff.

The goal of 350.org is to lower our atmosphere's CO2 concentration to, you guessed it, 350 ppm.

It's really great that progressive movement organizations like 350.org are reaching out to these religious communities. In true Living Liberally fashion, they are bringing politics into places where we gather, socialize, learn, love and live.

Declare Independence...from "Independents"

Conventional wisdom says that Obama
caved on FISA & talked up faith-based programs
because he's appealing to "Independents."

Who knew independents oppose the Constitution?

Obama HAD to disavow Wes Clark's comments --
though Clark only questioned his experience as leader
& specifically honored his courage and will --
since "dishonoring" McCain would turn off independents.

Who knew independents are so ill-informed?

And McCain keeps saying he's a "maverick"
as he continues his "Straight Talk Express"
because these words appeal to independents.

Who knew independents liked slogans so much?!

If "independent" voters read only the spin,
& don't read the Constitution or the news,
maybe we shouldn't ask them to decide elections.

Or maybe "independent" really means something else.

And maybe "independent" candidates
who shy away from principled stands
aren't what we're looking for either.

It's time we take strong positions,
stop listening to the media's darling tales,
and Declare our Independence...from "Independents."

Celebrate the holiday in the most American way:
sharing an evening of spirited discussion
as you share a few pitchers of liberal libations
at your local progressive social club.

DRINKING LIBERALLY
Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Happy 4th of July!

Blogging Liberally: Your Daily Dose of Scary and Sad

This is what the internet is saying today:

1. Gas is still really expensive; we are still slaves to the oil companies.

2. Christopher Hitchens agreed to be waterboarded for a Vanity Fair story, which is fun to check out right after reading this article in the New York Times about how the folks at Gitmo are totally ripping off their torture techniques from Mao Zedong.

3. In the wake of his statements that he will support federally-funded faith-based initiatives, Obama meets with a bunch of right-wing Evanglists who, in turn, ask him a bunch of offensive questions.

4. There's still lots of coverage of Wesley Clark's remarks that getting shot down in a fighter plane doesn't qualify you for the presidency. Good news (?): Clark is getting some support, from Moveon and from Robert G. Gard. Bad news: The McCain people are still running this thing into the ground.

5. Truthdig has a report on the actually-kind-of-shocking discrepancy between American and Dutch drug use.

6. Conservative radio host Michael Savage calls Nancy Pelosi "Mussolini in a skirt" about forty times, makes mistake of dissing Media Matters.

7. Alternet ranked the top ten most "awesomely bad" moments of the Bush presidency, with "Mission Accomplished" as his "Sargeant Pepper."

8. Also, bears are great, am I right? MSNBC has the dish on their secret lives.

City Leaders Begin Registering for the National Conference

The Charlotte, NC chapter of Living Liberally city leaders to the National Conference September 5-7.

(Dick Cheney will not be wearing his hunting vest to Charlotte in September, so the proverbial ducks should be safe.)

We booked a hotel that the telecoms haven't 'bugged' yet. We've reserved a meeting space that will double as the holding cell for Rove and his buddies from the White House come January. We found an airport shuttle that runs on a clean-burning 75/25 mix of organic beer and wine. And finally, we promise to count every single Living Liberally libation drunk, er, vote cast here in Charlotte!

It's about that time, City Leaders. Register for our National Conference today!

Rocking Liberally (or Liberalmente that is)

On recent US tours, Latino musicians including Juanes, from Colombia, Los Tigres del Norte and Mana from Mexico, and even Dominican merengue star Juan luis Guerra have been doing much more than playing some melodias calientes and rocking sus corazones out.

These superestrellas are urging their US fans to register to vote and help to put Barack Obama in the White House. That Rocks (liberally)!

Now for some classic Juanes:

Praying Liberally: Obama Update

It seems that a key part of Obama's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships plan has been left out of most of the coverage.

Obama would allow charities to impose faith requirements hiring for those programs that did not receive federal funding. Federally-funded programs would have to be discrimination-free but since discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not prohibited, Obama wants to find a way to bring the state of the law back to where it was before President Bush's executive orders on religious hiring rights.

Sounds good to me!

Praying Liberally: Looking at the Obama Plan

Obama's new plan to create a Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, that would increase funding to grassroots religious groups to solve problems ranging from closing the achievement gap in education to fighting global warming has turned into quite the news story. Although some say that this is Obama's expansion of Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Obama attacked Bush's "Office" as a flimsy "photo-op", saying that the office has failed to provide support for meaningful faith-based initiatives.

This new proposal has reasonably drawn quite a bit of criticism from the left. Some say that this is just another example of Obama moving to the right for the general, a Sistah Souljah moment if you will.

I disagree. For starters, grassroots faith-based activism is at the core Obama's experience. As many of you know, Obama started his public service career as a community organizer, working with Chicago churches to fight for worker's rights and provide job training to those who had been laid off. Obama knows firsthand the possibilities of how faith-based programs can initiate social change.

Obama also rightly criticizes Bush and the Republicans for treating these religious groups as props instead of partners in the fight for a better world, and frames the need for faith-based efforts in an inclusive and liberal manner. While Bush created his OFBCI because he felt that people of shared faith could better communicate with each other, a divisive rationale, Obama argues that it is important to engage faith communities because they are the rootsy-est of the grassroots. The sense of local community they foster exemplifies Obama's bottom-up strategy.

To add to that, I agree with Obama (and this is one place where many readers might disagree, get your blockquotes ready) that "The challenges we face today ... are simply too big for government to solve alone." Part of a progressive strategy must be empowering those who are able to effectively make specific types change. There are certain issues that a Church is more equipped to deal with than the government. Some people might be more motivated to "Go Green" if doing so were part of a moral responsibility. A Church-based program might also be a good introduction into the environmental movement, for people not already familiar. Also, religious programs like soup kitchens and homeless shelters are already some of the most effective.

Finally, if you really look at it, Obama's plan doesn't break the barriers between church and state. The funding only goes towards secular programs, and the money can't be used "to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them - or against the people you hire - on the basis of their religion."

I am really glad that Obama has continued his emphasis on bottom-up change. This is a program that might win Obama some votes in November, but more importantly, I believe, could help him make real, substantive change, once he's elected.

Man, I Wish I Had One of These

Admit it. You’ve always wanted to say, "Yeah, I’m a card-carrying liberal. You got a problem with that?" Lucky for you, Living Liberally has a way for you to do just that.

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The Liberal Card also gets you discounts to places that allow you to shop, dine and drink with a clear conscience. From a free beer at Rudy’s the original home of Drinking Liberally to phone service from CREDO, we’re hooking you up big time.

Plus, by supporting our partner businesses, you’re helping support the larger liberal community, too.

So check out www.theliberalcard.org to order your card, and find places where you can use The Liberal Card liberally.

From Pro-Bama to "No, Bama!"

Progressives are excited what a President Obama
could do with a Democratic majority in Congress...
while the Dem Senate pushes phone company immunity
& Obama joins in the capitulation.

The Left argues McCain's bad for the Courts,
but when the Justices limit the death penalty,
Obama's among the first to criticize the ruling.

And while we're excited that Obama's candidacy
could energize down-ticket victories,
Obama endorses a pro-war Dem in a primary.

There's an incredible mood that's Pro-Bama...
but moves like this make us groan "No, 'Bama!"
Maybe he's just starting off Slow-Bama
-- here's to hoping he'll Grow-Bama.

In many ways, he's so right.
Now we have to make sure he's so Left as well.

Share frustrations, ideas & a pitcher to two
with like-minded liberals over a libation
at your local progressive social club.

DRINKING LIBERALLY
Find - or start - a chapter near you.