10 December 2007

Secular humanists of the world unite!

As you may know, I'm a sucker for the online personality quiz. Matt, Cascade, and Caden visited this weekend, and they suggested we check out the Belief-O-Matic quiz. This quiz purports to find the religious faith that's best-suited for you based on 20 multiple choice questions. No more grasping for meaning, because the internet once again delivers the goods! After you complete the quiz, it gives you a list of different faiths, and how well your answers fit each one. As it turns out, I'm a Secular Humanist, which basically means I'm an atheist, but that I think humans are inherently good (to contrast with the category "Nontheist," which seems like a more dour flavor of atheism). This wasn't particularly surprising to me, although I actually didn't even know this term until I met Anne. Apparently the "Secular Humanists" were frequently blamed by evangelicals in her hometown of all sorts of nefarious acts like removing prayer from school, higher taxes, and the inclusion of books that promote witchcraft in the school library. Seems like a group I would have common cause with, even if the name sounds like something that hasn't been in circulation since the Enlightenment.

Coming in a close second was Unitarian Universalist, which was not too surprising, either. After all, some of my best friends are unitarians ;-) I was brought up an Episcopalian, which this quiz lumps in with "Mainline to Liberal Protestants." Interestingly, this category came in 8th, below such faiths as Taoism and Neo-Pagan, whatever that one means.

So I realize that my recent blog activity would suggest I'm a poor dinner guest because I've brought up the two most taboo topics in consecutive posts: politics and religion. Hopefully you all derive some enjoyment from sorting out your political or religions quandaries from some of the personality quizzes I've linked in these posts. Where would we be without the internet, hallelujah! As for overlap between the two topics, if I'm at all representative, Dennis Kucinich has the Secular Humanist vote locked! (And in my own spiritual inventory, Mitt Romney's Mormons seem to have a distinct edge over JFK's catholics, although I have to say that Kennedy's speech wiped the floor with Romney's.)

For your reading enjoyment, here are my results with links to Beliefnet's descriptions of each faith:

1. Secular Humanism (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (96%)
3. Liberal Quakers (84%)
4. Theravada Buddhism (82%)
5. Neo-Pagan (71%)
6. Nontheist (70%)
7. Taoism (64%)
8. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (62%)
9. New Age (56%)
10. Orthodox Quaker (54%)
11. Mahayana Buddhism (52%)
12. Reform Judaism (46%)
13. Jainism (41%)
14. Bahá'í Faith (38%)
15. Sikhism (34%)
16. Scientology (32%)
17. New Thought (29%)
18. Seventh Day Adventist (26%)
19. Hinduism (25%)
20. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (24%)
21. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (22%)
22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (17%)
23. Orthodox Judaism (16%)
24. Eastern Orthodox (15%)
25. Islam (15%)
26. Roman Catholic (15%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (10%)

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06 December 2007

Who the hell is Mike Gravel?

About a month ago, Salon ran an article that hit pretty close to home. It was written as an open letter to Democrats, addressed particularly to those of us watching the front-runners in the Democratic primary with a healthy dose of skepticism. It exhorted us to "stop lying to yourselves. You love Dennis Kucinich." Yes, he may be a bit of a wing-nut, and yes, in fact I have heard about the UFO thing. But the fact is, the author kinda had a point. There's no one else in the field of Democratic contenders whose values and policy positions so closely mirror my own. At least that's what I thought....

The article urged its readers to take any of the myriad online quizzes designed to help you choose a candidate and see for yourself if you don't get Kucinich every time. Granted, these are probably about as accurate as the ones designed to determine which character from Buffy is your alter ego, but I'm a total sucker for an online quiz, so I followed a couple links at the end of the article to, well ... see for myself. And yes, it turns out I do love Dennis Kucinich, who finished in first place in each of the four or five polls that I took.

That may be mildly interesting, but perhaps not surprising given my politics, which never seemed too out of place in Oakland. The author reported that she, too, was a big Kucinich supporter, at least as far as these quizzes were concerned. What was interesting was that in an aside, she mentioned that she kept getting Mike Gravel as her second choice. Who? I thought maybe it was a typo or an inside joke, but I'll be damned if I didn't also get Mike Gravel as my second choice in almost all of the quizzes I took.

Mike Gravel (pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, like Nobel) is a former senator from Alaska, and is apparently running for president. Although he's been flying well under the radar, he was invited to NPR's presidential debate yesterday, giving me my first chance to hear my man Mike in action. (This is also how I learned how to pronounce his name.)

Let's just say that he swept me off my feet. He certainly had far less mic time than the front-runners, or even Chris Dodd, but he put it to good effect. During a discussion of immigration reform, while most of the candidates said warm and fuzzy things about multiculturalism out of one side of their mouths while promising to lock down the border out of the other, Iron Mike launched into a tirade about how immigration is an absurd non-issue that is used by "nativists and bigots" to make political hay during election season. Sweet! Why haven't we been hearing more from this guy?!

To be honest, I really don't know where Mike Gravel stands on most of the issues, and I haven't had the time or energy to find out. The way I see it, the race will probably be long-decided by the time our primary rolls around in early March, and my vote won't matter for much anyway. But I figure I can still lodge a protest vote. I realize I already spurned Dennis Kucinich last time, when I voted for the Reverend Al Sharpton in the last, already-decided Democratic primary I voted in, but I think Mike Gravel may be my new love.

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