Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

what would Jesus say?

In the NY Times' article by David Kirkpatrick today, A Fight Among Catholics Over Which Party Best Reflects Church Teachings, we learn that the church is currently divided as to which political party best reflects the full spectrum of church teachings. Catholics make up about 1/3 of the voting electorate.

Today is annual "respect life" Sunday for Catholics across America and there are those who believe that issues just as important as abortion are immigration, racism and the war on Iraq. But rich and powerful bishops who apparently pay no mind to what Jesus Christ actually taught regarding social justice and have a total disregard to why their church is tax exempt, have a different agenda. Here's an example:

In Scranton, Pa., every Catholic attending Mass this weekend will hear a special homily about the election next month: Bishop Joseph Martino has ordered every priest in the diocese to read a letter warning that voting for a supporter of abortion rights amounts to endorsing “homicide.”

“Being ‘right’ on taxes, education, health care, immigration and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life,” the bishop wrote. “It is a tragic irony that ‘pro-choice’ candidates have come to support homicide — the gravest injustice a society can tolerate — in the name of ‘social justice.’ ”
Conservatives argue that ending legal protections for abortion outweighs almost all other issues, while liberals contend that social programs can more effectively reduce the abortion rate than trying to overturn Supreme Court precedents. They cite a 2007 statement from the United States bishops explicitly condoning a vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights if the vote was cast for other “grave” reasons.

The subtleties can be slippery. The Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington, Del., where Mr. Biden lives, is promoting a video produced by the conservative Catholic group Fidelis that is intended to persuade Catholic voters to put opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage above all other issues.
What would Jesus say? Jesus knew that social justice would end most other societal ills. If the money that was pissed away in bombing the shit out of Iraq was spent at home, every road and school in America could be rebuilt, creating jobs, good education for all, a safe environment and every American would have health care, every expectant mother would be guaranteed health care during her pregnancy as well as health care for her child.

Would Jesus have preferred war to healthy happy life in America? Wouldn't there be more respect for life if there weren't so many dirty little racist secrets? Would Jesus approve of the greed of the GOP and the inhuman foreign policy that the US asserts? Would Jesus really approve of the RCC's non negotiable issues: abortion, stem-cell research, human cloning, euthanasia and same-sex marriage at the expense of issues such as poverty, racism, sexism, child abuse, lack of adequate health care for America's already born children, lack of jobs and the working poor? I think not. I've read the New Testament- the whole thing in its proper context. What's clear is that if people had love in their hearts, there wouldn't be a GOP as we know it.

No, Jesus would see through the pharisaic lip service to the abortion issue (which by the way was not banned when the Republicans had control of EVERYTHING, mind them) and see the greater evil being perpetrated by the power hungry, the greedy and the mindless of the poor- today's Republican candidates.

The GOP does not make this a christian country at all. When liberals speak of social justice and the poor, it makes conservatives seethe, it makes them hateful and it makes them more apt to deny equal rights and basic amenities such as food and shelter to the least among us- the least of us who are already born.

What would Jesus say about all the racist comments about Obama by so many Catholics?


Today's reading from the Gospel of Matthew:
25:35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

UPDATE: See also Social Justice Catholics fight back against the Church's elite Repubican hierarchy at

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A War Prayer

Whenever we read ... the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind. And, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Petraeus endorses book that slams 'non-believers' in the military
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann noted on Thursday that "General David Petraeus ... has endorsed a book written by an evangelical Lutheran chaplain in the US Army, in which the chaplain claims non-believers can lead to 'failure' in their military unit."

A dust jacket quote from Petraeus says the book "should be in every rucksack for those times when Soldiers need spiritual energy."
I don't know what's in the book, but if it's written by someone who takes god's war manual, the holy bible, literally, I'm sure that it should be the companion piece to every soldier who is out there fighting for the "christian" cause (the war on Iraq and Afghanistan) if he or she isn't already carrying a bible in their backpack for inspiration. (See How Many Has God Killed)

But wait! The atheists and non believers have taken exception to this book endorsement by Petraeus. They too can kill for the cause. They don't need no stinking book.

A MRFF (Military Religious Freedom Foundation) representative called Petraeus's endorsement "a slap in the face from the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq to the 21% of the men and women fighting there who define themselves as atheists or having no religious preference ... a reprehensible betrayal of all of the non-theists who are putting their lives on the line for our country with every bit as much bravery and dedication as their religious comrades."

Weinstein himself stated, "General Petraeus has, by his own hand, become a quintessential poster child of this fundamentalist Christian religious predation, via his unadulterated and shocking public endorsement of a book touting both Christian supremacy and exceptionalism."
Indeed. But Keith Olbermann took the most exception to the fact that Petraeus' name has been floated as a potential VP candidate for McCain, the future war president who will make bush look, well bush league.

"How about army regulations against promoting religion, against proselytizing?" Olbermann asked. "General Petraeus, who never has been troubled by Army regulations, nor Constitutional ones, claims that when McCoy asked him for a recommendation, he didn't give him to publish it, that it was only intended for McCoy personally."

Petraeus has claimed he "never knew" his comments were being his comments were being seen publicly. However, as Olbermann points out, "Petraeus's endorsement has been on that book jacket since the book was published last year."

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
-- From the War Prayer by Mark Twain

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Virgin Mary is Bhagavati's younger sister

Sisters and goddesses
From the Guardian UK By William Dalrymple:

Legend has it that it was the apostle, Thomas, the doubting one, who brought Christianity to Southern India - and now, aside from the odd jealous spat, the Virgin Mary and goddess Bhagavati are worshipped with equal fervour

"Yes, yes, the Virgin Mary is Bhagavati's younger sister," explained Vasudeva, the head priest, matter of factly, as if stating the obvious.

"But, for sisters, don't they look rather different from each other?" I asked. A calendar image of the goddess, pinned up behind him, showed Bhagavati as a wizened hag wreathed in skulls and crowned with an umbrella of cobra hoods. In her hand she wielded a giant sickle.

"Sisters are often a little different from each other," he replied. "Mary is another form of the Devi. They have equal power." He paused: "At our annual festival the priests take the goddess around the village on top of an elephant to receive sacrifices from the people. She visits all the places, and one stop is the church. There she sees her sister."

"Mary gets on an elephant too?"

"No," he replied. "But when the goddesses visit each other, the sacrifice in the church is just like the one we have here: we light lamps and make an offering. The priests stay in their church, but the congregation of the church receives us, and makes a donation to the temple."

"So relations are good?"

"The people here always cooperate," he said. "Our Hindus go to the church and the Christians come here and ask the goddess for what they want - for everyone believes the two are sisters."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Aha! We knew it all along

From the TimesOnline

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.


The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly skeptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

Mr Paul said: “The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.”

Pretty sad, but not surprising is it?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Vatican says will excommunicate women priests

From the story at Yahoo News: The Vatican issued its most explicit decree so far against the ordination of women priests on Thursday, punishing them and the bishops who try to ordain them with automatic excommunication.

"The decree was written by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and published in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, giving it immediate effect.

"A Vatican spokesman said the decree made the Church's existing ban on women priests more explicit by clarifying that excommunication would follow all such ordinations.

"The Church says it cannot change the rules banning women from the priesthood because Christ chose only men as his apostles. Church law states that only a baptized male can be made a priest."

Two thousand years ago in Palestine, women were not allowed to be seen gallivanting with a group of men, but there is Gospel proof that women were indeed devoted to Jesus and so much so that while the men were behaving like babies after Jesus' crucifixion, the women went out to investigate. Surely they must have been devoted disciples themselves to brave being caught hanging around Jesus' tomb on Sunday morning. And let us not forget the bum rap Mary of Magdala took for centuries- labeled a whore for hanging around with Jesus... and the early church fathers were so anti-women that they had to make Jesus' mother a virgin despite evidence to the contrary.

According to the Gospels, after Jesus was crucified and died, the male apostles went and hid. For they were not brave. (Throughout the Gospel's Jesus has to admonish their chickenheartedness, but that's another post.) The four Gospels differ, but there were definitely women who went to Jesus' grave. John's Gospel has one, Matthew's has two, Mark's has three and Luke's has 5 or more. They arrived on Sunday morning around the break of dawn.

John 20:1
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Matthew 28:1
As it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Mark 16:1
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

Luke 24:1, 10
Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
So basically, if it wasn't for the WOMEN, no one would have known that Jesus was risen from the dead, let alone the "devoted" apostles.

That's enough for now.

see the Skeptic's Annotated Bible

Monday, May 19, 2008

So much for morality

No sooner did California overturn the ban on homosexual marriage when Pope Benedict came out stating that marriage is only moral if between and man and a woman. Catholics worldwide are probably snickering. I am. So much for morality then.

What if one of the parties in a so called "moral" marriage is a closeted homosexual living a lie and makes both parties miserable? I imagine that there are thousands or millions of "holy" marriages like that. Perhaps allowing homosexuals to marry each other will eliminate such unholy alliances.

I can empathize with those married women and mothers whose husbands are outed for having homosexual relationships on the side and perhaps there are thousands more which don't make the news whose lives and families are devastated when it turns out that one of the parents is living a lie and reduced to sneaking out for nookie or even true love on the side with someone of the same sex. I often wonder how many closeted gay parents beat the crap out of or disinherit their openly gay offspring. I doubt that truly heterosexual parents would banish a child from the family for just being gay. You have to really hate yourself to hate your child.

With the millions, if not zillions of dysfunctional and immoral families out there in the world, anyone who speaks of heterosexual families as being so great ought to take their blinders off at once.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The RCC and homophobia back in the news...

One of the things about religion that really gets to me is that we are expected to suspend belief in that which makes sense and that which is rational in modern times in order to accept antiquated notions written by antiquated people in ancient times. Not everyone in the olden days was all that fucking bright... not even those who wrote the bible. They were quite superstitious. Today, people read the bible as if it were teh fucking bible and since they are given license to suspend belief in rational notions, they add to it.

May 17th was International Day Against Homophobia. It sounds like a nice thing to do... to educate people so that they won't hate themselves or others. It sounds like something Jesus would have exhorted his followers to celebrate, but no. Not the Catholics. In Poland someone in the church got the idea to cure homosexuals of their "affliction" instead. Talk about going against nature. And if there is a God, she certainly knew what she was doing when she created people, didn't she? If not, then she wasn't all that bright either.

Catholic Church offers therapy to 'cure' gays in Poland

"The Catholic Church has created rehabilitation centers in Poland to rehabilitate gay people and "get them back on the right path."

"The Odwaga Center uses therapy, prayer and chastity to teach its patients to resist their homosexual impulses. Men at the center are taught to play football and women are taught to cook."
Hey, that's gender bending. How sexist is it to teach men to play football and women to cook? How insane are the insinuations that football is manly and cooking is feminine? Thinking about American football and all those men jumping all over each other certainly wouldn't teach a gay guy not to crave other guys.

Not only that, the Catholic Church hierarchy of all people should know that you can't make men who don't dig chicks, dig them. Sure you can guilt people into not having sex for a while, but it certainly won't cure them of their sexual orientation. Even I know that and I'm not even gay. What the Catholic Church is trying to do is keep homosexuals from having sex, period. They ought to start with themselves, the hypocrites. Quite frankly the Catholic Church would probably like it a lot if no one ever had sex. Misery loves company.

The article goes on to declare that this sort of "therapy" makes people depressed... even suicidal. Well it's certainly no wonder. If someone told me back in my heyday when I was totally boy crazy that it was a sin and they tried to take my mind off my natural hormonal urges through prayer and guilt and cooking, I'd probably have lost my mind. Hell, I'd have signed up for the football just so I could jump on the boys.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Talk about hate speech

With all the hoopla about Rev Wright's so called "hate speech," you oughta take a look at John Hagee's hate speech.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

abstinence from flesh diet and strong drink

Here's something I had never learned in the seminary. From

WHEN St. John Chrysostom (D. 407), in his homily on Matthew xxii, 1-14, tells us that "flesh-meats and wine serve as materials for sensuality, and are a source of danger, sorrow, and disease," he does not stand alone.

Writing, in confutation of Jovinian, a monk of Milan, who abandoned asceticism, St. Jerome (D. A.V. 440) holds up vegetarianism as the Christian ideal and the restoration of the primeval rule of life. The passage may be rendered :--" As to his argument that in God's Second Blessing permission was given to eat flesh- a permission not given in the first Blessing- let him know that just as permission to put away a wife was, according to the words of the Saviour, not given from the beginning, but was granted to the human race by Moses because of the hardness of our hearts. So also in like manner the eating of flesh was unknown until the flood, but after the Flood, just as quails were given to the people when they murmured in the desert, so have sinews and the offensiveness of flesh been given to our teeth. The Apostle, writing to the Ephesians, teaches us that God had purposed that in the fullness of time he would restore all things, and would draw to their beginning, even to Christ Jesus, all things that are in heaven or that are on earth. Whence also, the Saviour Himself, in the Apocalypse of John, says, ' I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.' From the beginning of human nature, we neither fed upon flesh nor did we put away our wives, nor were our foreskins taken away from us for a sign. We kept on in this course until we arrived at the Flood. But after the Flood, together with the giving of the Law, which no man could fulfill, the eating of flesh was brought in; and the putting away of wives was conceded to hardness of heart; and the knife of circumcision is brought into use; as if the hand of God had created in us more than is necessary. But now that Christ has come in the end of time, and has turned, back Omega to Alpha, and drawn back the end to the beginning, neither is it permitted to us to put away our wives, nor are we circumcised, nor do we eat flesh; hence the Apostolic saying, ' It is a good, thing not to drink wine, and not to eat flesh.' For wine also, together with flesh, began to be used after the Flood."

Not less striking is the testimony of St. Basil (D. 379) : " With sober living," he says, " well-being increases in the household, animals are in safety, there is no shedding of blood, nor putting animals to death. The knife of the cook is needless; for the table is spread only with the fruits that Nature gives, and with them they are content. John the Baptist, he continues, "had neither bed, nor table, nor inheritance, nor ox, nor grain, nor baker, nor other things regarded as the necessaries of life; and yet it was to him that the Son of God gave the eulogy that he was the greatest of the children of men."

The Gospel according to the Hebrews was that which was in use amongst the first Christians of Jerusalem, and the Gospel according to the Egyptians is thought to have been in close relation to it. It has been said that there are traces of it in the Talmud before A.D. 130., It has even been conjectured that it was the Hebrew source from which the present Gospel according to Matthew was derived. This Gospel, according to the Nazarenes, was widely. circulated in the early Church, and was held in high esteem by the Jewish Christians.

Hegesippus gives a remarkable account of James, the brother of the Lord, and the first ruler of the Christian Church in Jerusalem. James, we are told was Holy from birth. He drank no wine nor strong liquor, nor ate he any living thing. A razor never went upon his head, and neither used the bath nor anointing with oil. Even his clothes were free from any taint of death for he wore no woolen but linen garments only., " It is a remarkable fact that Instead of being represented as a sectary at the head of a new school of religious thought antagonistic to the ancient Hebrew faith, we are told that he, and he alone, was permitted to enter the sanctuary.

That the physical puritanism of abstainence from intoxicants and flesh-meats was not an ideal foreign to Judaism we know from the examples of the Rechabites, the Nazarites, the Nazarenes, and the Essenes. The accounts that have come down to us of the last named sect are very interesting and suggestive. They lived in a brotherly community, they cultivated the land, they observed the Sabbath strictly, they refused to swear, they abstained from intoxicants and flesh.

There are striking parallelisms between Essenism and Christianity. Seek first the kingdom of God was the aim of the Essenes (Matt, vi, 33, Luke, xii, 31). Sell your possessions and give to the poor (Matt vi, 33)., They despised riches (Matt vi, 19-21). The brotherly spirit amongst them was a wonder to the Jewish people, and a test of Christianity is "we know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren" (I John iii, 14). The Essenes and the Christians in Jerusalem lived in communities where each man had a share in the common. No wonder that De Quincey with his love of paradox should declare the Essenes to be "neither more or less than the new-born brotherhood of Christians.

The writer of these few extracts makes acknowledgment the same to E. A.' Axon, LL.D., F.R.S.L.
This contradicts everything in the bible, particularly the New Testament. I need to explore this more.

Friday, April 18, 2008

And even more irony during the Pope's visit

While the Pope was calling for treating people with human dignity and for proper treatment of Latino immigrants,

(The United States must do “everything possible to fight…all forms of violence so that immigrants may lead dignified lives,” the pope said when asked if he would address the issue of Latin American immigrants with the US leader.)
the bushistas chose to carry out immigration raids at Pilgrim's Pride plants (ironically) in 5 states arresting 280 undocumented workers.

Tom Tancredo was outraged at the Pope's stance on immigration. (He was raised Catholic but left the church, probably because it was too liberal for him, heh.)
I would like to know what part of our lax immigration policy is considered violent. I fail to see how accepting more refugees than any other nation — and providing free health care, education, housing and social service benefits to millions of illegal aliens is in any way “violent” or “degrading.”
Well let's see:
From March 8th,
Chertoff faced questions from Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., about the treatment of children at immigrant detention facilities at the T. Don Hutto residential facility in Taylor and a smaller facility in Berka, Pa.

Sanchez said that children at the facilities had been put in cells alone for hours, awakened in the middle of the night with flashlights in their faces and threatened with being permanently separated from their parents.

Attorneys for several of the children confined at the Hutto facility contended in lawsuits that conditions there were inhumane and violated minimum standards for minors in custody. The case ended in a settlement that included new standards for the centers.

Chertoff said that he couldn't judge the conditions because he wasn't there, but that "eventually, this was resolved to the satisfaction of the plaintiffs."

Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., asked Chertoff to explain what it meant that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had power to "briefly detain" people and whether that included denying them food or access to their families. Watt said this occurred last year at raids of Swift & Co. meat plants.

Chertoff said that "no specific amount of time" has been determined by the courts as far as detention periods.

Watt also suggested that Chertoff needed more minority staff members. He pointed out that the 10 staff people with Chertoff at the hearing were white men.
Typical Chertoff. Homeland Insecurity. feh.

No one asked me but why not hold corporations who hire undocumented workers accountable for breaking the law, and throw the CEO's of said companies and their children in "detention centers" so that they can shine flashlights in the rich kids faces in the middle of the night and tell them that they will never see their parents again.... but that wouldn't be nice.

Meanwhile while the president was hosting the Pope who is calling for treating people with dignity NYT’s Lichtblau: Bush Torture Program And CIA Tape Destruction ‘Could Lead To Criminal Action’

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The God Particle is Being Studied

The Economist has an interesting article on the Science of Religion.

The first task of CERN's [the European particle-physics laboratory (CERN) at Geneva] new machine, the Large Hadron Collider, which is due to open later this year, will be to search for the Higgs boson—an object that has been dubbed, with a certain amount of hyperbole, the God particle. The €2m, by contrast, will be spent on the search for God Himself—or, rather, for the biological reasons why so many people believe in God, gods and religion in general. continued
The author says, "Religion cries out for a biological explanation." First evolutionary biologists have to find out which parts of the brain generate religious experiences and determine if they are epileptic seizures. Then there is a study of how religion effects behavior and if it was "invented" because of the long term cooperative benefits of holding a group or a society together (supposedly it does.)

But there's more. And this is an interesting thought:
Dr Wilson himself has studied the relationship between social insecurity and religious fervour, and discovered that, regardless of the religion in question, it is the least secure societies that tend to be most fundamentalist. That would make sense if adherence to the rules is a condition for the security which comes from membership of a group. He is also interested in what some religions hold out as the ultimate reward for good behaviour—life after death. That can promote any amount of self-sacrifice in a believer, up to and including suicidal behaviour—as recent events in the Islamic world have emphasised. However, belief in an afterlife is not equally well developed in all religions, and he suspects the differences may be illuminating.

That does not mean there are no explanations for religion that are based on individual selection. For example, Jason Slone, a professor of religious studies at Webster University in St Louis, argues that people who are religious will be seen as more likely to be faithful and to help in parenting than those who are not. That makes them desirable as mates. He plans to conduct experiments designed to find out whether this is so. And, slightly tongue in cheek, Dr Wilson quips that “secularism is very maladaptive biologically. We're the ones who at best are having only two kids. Religious people are the ones who aren't smoking and drinking, and are living longer and having the health benefits.”

That quip, though, makes an intriguing point. Evolutionary biologists tend to be atheists, and most would be surprised if the scientific investigation of religion did not end up supporting their point of view. But if a propensity to religious behaviour really is an evolved trait, then they have talked themselves into a position where they cannot benefit from it, much as a sceptic cannot benefit from the placebo effect of homeopathy. Maybe, therefore, it is God who will have the last laugh after all—whether He actually exists or not.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

oh god.

John Hagee, teh christian zionist who endorsed John McCain (but didn't get half the bad press that Obama's pastor, Rev. Wright received from the media for being a total wacko) just announced donations of $6 million to Israeli causes "and said that Israel must remain in control of all of Jerusalem."

Hagee and his group, Christians United for Israel, joined keynote speaker Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel's hard-line opposition Likud Party, at a rally in support of Jerusalem remaining united and under Jewish control.

"Turning part or all of Jerusalem over to the Palestinians would be tantamount to turning it over to the Taliban," Hagee told an audience filled with Americans who waved Israeli flags and cheered.
Lovely. Way to promote peace on earth, goodwill to all men.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gay Scientists Isolate Christianity Gene

Finally, the idea that Christianity is a lifestyle choice can be put to rest. If you're a Christian, you cannot help it for you were born that way.

hat tip slatev

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'll give you a "Brief for Whitey," Pat Buchanan

Wow MSNBC Political analyst Pat Buchanan has really lost it in A Brief for Whitey. He doesn't get the reasons for the racial divide in this country, but thinks he does like many lily white rich men. And he wants black people to show gratitude towards white people. Really. He sounds like the rich, white, well to do racists I grew up with... he's got all their talking points down, but he misses the whole point. Sad.


Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America.

Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation. White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to.

This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.

Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.

Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks — with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas — to advance black applicants over white applicants.

Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks.

We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?

Pat Buchanan doesn't speak for this white American and I would never dare to say such things to a black person like "You should be grateful that your slave ancestors came to America so that you could be saved by Gawd Almighty in our most christian country blessed by Gawd himself." If I were a christianist, I suppose I could console poor black Christians by saying, "At least you won't go to hell."

Oh but wait. Here's the stuff that when spoken by anyone in my presence causes me to get up and walk out of the room:
Is white America really responsible for the fact that the crime and incarceration rates for African-Americans are seven times those of white America? [YES, pretty much] Is it really white America’s fault that illegitimacy in the African-American community has hit 70 percent and the black dropout rate from high schools in some cities has reached 50 percent? [YES, pretty much]

Is that the fault of white America or, first and foremost, a failure of the black community itself? [Whitey]

As for racism, its ugliest manifestation is in interracial crime, and especially interracial crimes of violence. Is Barack Obama aware that while white criminals choose black victims 3 percent of the time, black criminals choose white victims 45 percent of the time? [I don't believe that. Prove it.]

Is Barack aware that black-on-white rapes are 100 times more common than the reverse, that black-on-white robberies were 139 times as common in the first three years of this decade as the reverse? [I don't believe that. Prove it.]
Well another day, another step back in American history. Same old, same old.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Blogs against Theocracy 2008: Silliness from teh Senate

Brownback, Lieberman Introduce Ten Commandments Resolution
Thursday, March 13, 2008
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) today introduced the Ten Commandments Weekend Resolution, which would designate the first weekend of May 2008 as Ten Commandments Weekend.

"It is important for Americans to remember the importance the Ten Commandments have in our nation," said Brownback. "The Ten Commandments are the cornerstone to the faith of millions of Americans of many faith traditions, and are a cornerstone to a fair and just society. We as a nation should take a weekend to reflect on the impact the Ten Commandments have had on the foundation of America's national life."
S Res 483
(1) recognizes the first weekend of May 2008 as `Ten Commandments Weekend';
(2) celebrates the Ten Commandments as a significant aspect of the national life of the United States; and
3) encourages citizens of the United States to reflect on the integral role that the Ten Commandments have played in the life of the Nation.

There are lots of "Where as's" but this one stuck out:
"Whereas President Harry S Truman affirmed, "The fundamental basis of this Nation's law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.'';"
Oh Harry. The basis of our Bill of Rights? Really?
First Amendment – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I didn't see anything else in the bill of rights pertaining to keeping the commandments except for how you might be tried for stealing, killing, lieing, etc.

Silly Senators. When I finished laughing at the resolution, I got to thinking about the 10 commandments themselves and how they do not influence the daily lives of elected lawmakers who support big business over the will or well being of the people. In fact, I don't think that most "devoutly religious" Americans really contemplate the 10 Commandments and if they did that on the first weekend in May every year, we might end up with complete anarchy and an overthrow of the government using our second amendment rights.

I also wonder how many people can name the 10 Commandments. Quick, ask a conservative politician what they are. Chances are that he hasn't a clue. Ask him to compare the Bill of Rights to the commonly accepted version of the 10 Commandments. Chances are he doesn't know the Bill of Rights offhand either.

There a couple of versions of the 10 Commandments and Catholics have a different version from the Protestants which seems rather divisive. The Jews have different ones as well. So do Muslims. Who decides which version is the official US version anyway? There are more than 10 commandments in each biblical version as well. Who decides which ones would be chosen? Furthermore, after studying Moses in a Catholic Seminary for my masters degree, we learned that scholars dispute Moses' authorship. Conservatives tend to not think about it and willingly accept that God did in fact dictate only 10 Commandments to Moses. People who think want to know how ALL the commandments were whittled down to 10 for religious purposes and how a burning bush means that god is near and not the result of a bolt of lightning or maybe an alien spaceship coming in to pick up Moses (which to me seems like the only logical explanation).

The first few commandments are unconstitutional but let's look at some of the others.

Thou shalt not commit adultery. According to the gospels, Jesus himself warns that if you get a divorce and then remarry while your previous spouse is still alive then you are in the state of adultery. More than half of marriages end in divorce... imagine how many people are adulterers according to the bible? But if you're Jewish, it's ok to remarry. If you have a chippy on the side, it's a huge scandal, but it's not against the law unless you pay for it.

Thou shalt not covet. Our economy runs on consumer coveting. What does the president tell you to do to help the ailing economy or recover from trauma such as that of 9/11? Shop. What motivates you to shop for non-essentials? Coveting. That's one sin that is encouraged by the powers that be.

A detailed version of thou shalt not covet is as follows and makes you think that not coveting would be positively anti-american:
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.
Keeping the Sabbath Holy should be merged with 'not coveting' and then duly disregarded. For Jews the Sabbath is Saturday and for Christians it's Sunday. We used to have blue laws and Christians did sort of keep the Sabbath holy because there wasn't anything else to do on Sunday except go to church. Today the stores are jammed on weekends. If the Sabbath Day's are so holy to religious Americans, why is everyone shopping (and even working)? In the summertime, people go to the shore on the sabbath to swim and covet thy neighbor's ass.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Sure it's against the law, but hardly anyone takes it seriously, let alone Joe LIEberman. Or how about being lied into wars? How can an elected official even pretend to care about the 10 Commandments as long as this is an official commandment in all 3 versions?

Thou shalt not kill. It is only against the law if you are not legally authorized to kill. Sure it's against the law unless Congress or the President declare war or as it's commonly called today, liberating.

Thou shalt not steal. I don't think anyone needed a commandment from god to figure that out. Again, there are certain authorities in our country that steal and it's neither a crime nor a sin.

It's all just another perfectly ridiculous reason to preach from the Senate.


In the gospel of Matthew when Jesus was asked which commandments one should follow, Jesus gives him 6, one of which is not in the "official" 10 commandments. Jesus added the concept of love to the mix.
19:18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19:19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Jesus goes on about the biggest obstacle towards human perfection is having "too much stuff."

19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
This is hardly an American value as put forth by most religious organizations and our very own federal government.

But Jesus sums it all up in Matthew's Chapter 22 and it's really quite universal when you think of it:
22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
It's quite true. If you have love in your hearts, you won't need any other laws or commandments for we wouldn't hurt each other. Even if you don't believe in the "god" of the bible, loving all creation including the people, the animals, the plants, the fish, everything, the world will be in harmony. You can throw all the rules and regulations out there for people to follow, but guiding people on how to behave for fear for breaking a rule, does not a true harmonious society make.

Further reading:
  1. S. RES. 483
  2. Senate Resolution for "Ten Commandments Weekend"
  3. Brownback, Lieberman, and the "Ten Commandments Weekend"
  4. Which Ten Commandments?
  5. Overview of the Ten Commandments
  6. Text of George Carlin on the 10 Commandments
  7. Video of George Carlin on the 10 Commandments
  8. The Ten Commandments Hubbub

Some of my posts on the 10 Commandments:
Are the 10 Commandments the Basis for Our Laws? Part I
Are the 10 Commandments the Basis for Our Laws? Part II
Are the 10 Commandments the Basis for Our Laws? Part III
Are the 10 Commandments the Basis for Our Laws? Part IV
Are the 10 Commandments the Basis for Our Laws? Part V

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Earthlings Play God.

Plans for 'doomsday ark' on the moon
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor, Telegraph

Plans are being made for the first experiments to pave the way for a "doomsday ark" on the moon.

The ark would contain DNA, embryos and all the essentials of life and civilisation, to be activated should Earth be devastated by a giant asteroid, a climate flip or nuclear holocaust.

The information bank would provide survivors on Earth with a remote-access toolkit to rebuild the human race, said Bernard Foing, the executive director of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG). continued

Add that to the Doomsday Seed Vault in Norway and the universe won't have to worry about being without earthlings for all eternity.

I wonder what kind of DNA they are going to put on the moon to restock humans?

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Second Enlightenment? I wish.

One article at Wired Drugs, Body Modifications May Create Second Enlightenment that talks about a "smart pill" bringing on a second "enlightenment", inspired me to look up more information on the connection between coffeehouses and the enlightenment in Europe, particularly London, in the 17th century. Even without reading anything, one could easily surmise that caffeine served up in coffeehouses produced more intelligent discourse than alcohol in ale houses which were the common meeting places in the middle ages.

Open discourse frightened authority types who preferred a more "mellow" (and drunken) populace. During the middle ages, Europeans (were pretty loaded and) didn't have access to the news of the day, but when coffeehouses appeared in England, people began to get caught up with reading the news and then sharing new ideas.

"Runners were sent round to the coffee-house to report major events of the day, such as victory in battle or political upheaval, and the newsletters and gazettes of the day were distributed chiefly in the coffee-house. Most of the establishments functioned as reading rooms, for the cost of newspapers and pamphlets was included in the admission charge...

Naturally, this dissemination of news led to the dissemination of ideas, and the coffee-house served as a forum for their discussion. As the eminent social historian G. M. Trevelyan observed: "The 'Universal liberty of speech of the English nation'...was the quintessence of Coffee House life." (English Coffee Houses.)

This enlightenment started in cities where people lived closer together. The internet today may be part of a "second enlightenment" which could be even larger and more widespread simply because our ideas are not confined to our locality.

You might even say that the anonymity of the internet today gives people a chance to engage without class distinction as it did in coffeehouses in the past. From The Fall of Public Man By Richard Sennett
"...the talk [in coffeehouses] was governed by a cardinal rule: in order for information to be as full as possible, distinctions of rank were temporarily suspended; anyone sitting in the coffeehouse had a right to talk to anyone else, to enter into any conversation, whether he knew the other people or not, whether he was bidden to speak or not. It was bad form even to touch on the social origins of other persons when talking to them in the coffeehouse, because the free flow of talk might then be impeded."
If I recall clearly the 60's and 70's, when I was sort of a hippie, there was no class distinction among my peers. It could have been that we were high, but then again, we weren't always high. I wasn't anyway. It could have been that we dressed like "freaks" and let our hair down literally so that you could tell who was like minded or open to chatting about important issues of the day (war). You really couldn't tell who came from money or who was the most well educated and you didn't really care. After a while though, many people just got too fucked up on drugs, lost interest in fighting the man after the war ended and the advent of mindless disco music led way to the Reagan years and the rest is history.

The wired article suggests that the smart pill may inspire people to go on the internet to disseminate ideas and information, but quite frankly, there are already a lot of smart and philosophical people out there from all walks of life... and I don't think that the brainwashed are going to want anything to do with smart pills because they have Fox News and already think they are smart.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The New Religious landscape

I've been reading this at Pew Research: The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey Reveals a Fluid and Diverse Pattern of Faith. They surveyed 35,000 people 18 and over. I think many of you would find it interesting.

A few quick tidbits of note from Summary of Key Findings:

16% are not affiliated with any denomination. That's more than double the number who said that they were unaffiliated when they were children.
Protestants will soon be in the minority. They make up currently 51% of the population and that is broken up into hundreds of denominations. The largest group of denominations are evangelicals which make up 26.3% of all protestants.
While American born and raised Catholics are changing affiliations in larger numbers than any other religion, the influx of Catholic immigrants makes up for it.
There are interactive charts and graphs breaking down the whole study at this link. Have fun. Come to you own conclusions.