sheep

Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air
You better watch out
There may be dogs about
I’ve looked over Jordan and I have seen
Things are not what they seem.

What do you get for pretending the danger’s not real
Meek and obedient you follow the leader
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes
Now things are really what they seem
No, this is no bad dream.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
He makes me down to lie
Through pastures green he leadeth me the silent waters by
With bright knives he releaseth my soul
He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places
He converteth me to lamb cutlets
For lo, he hath great power and great hunger
When cometh the day we lowly ones
Through quiet reflection and great dedication
Master the art of karate
Lo, we shall rise up
And then we’ll make the bugger’s eyes water.

Bleating and babbling we fell on his neck with a scream
Wave upon wave of demented avengers
March cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream.

Have you heard the news?
The dogs are dead!
You better stay home
And do as you’re told
Get out of the road if you want to grow old.


i once wrote about this in my other blog, but it was with a totally different vibe than the one with which i post this here today. Emphasis added is mine.

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who wants to go to fire lake?

I wrote this in response to this piece, entitled “If God is dead then what?” It should be noted that the writer is a dear friend of mine, and has been since junior high, so to say we go way back is putting it mildly. I have a great deal of respect for him, though it’s not terribly unusual for that to be a respectful sort of disagreement .

His answer to the question tends toward the position that god being dead would be a bad thing. And yes, I disagreed.

• • •

In the beginning there was the word. Now, I’m going to ask you to imagine a world in which there were no words in any language for the actions we know of as murder, manslaughter, rape, child abuse, robbery, slavery, torture, terrorism, human sacrifice, or hate crime. Imagine interacting with a society such as this, and trying to explain these concepts to them. If this society had a benevolent god, what would they think of ours? And if, in addition to all those terrible things they had no words for, they also lacked a term for god, what would they think of *us*? What if they didn’t even have a word for terrible? Now, look around you, listen, read. Is this the world a benevolent god would create? It is not. Should we be stressed out if he were to suddenly fail to exist?

So let’s assume that everyone in the whole world had a simultaneous, abrupt epiphany, and all the world’s religions were rendered a moot point. For atheists, the concept of “no god” is a familiar one, and the lack of belief in an afterlife causes us no particular sadness or hopelessness — so the effects of sudden worldwide atheism would very much depend on the manner in which the religious came to find themselves de-converted.

(more…)

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objects in reflective surfaces are usually you

One of my favorite blogs, Infidel753, has written a scathing rebuttal to the progressive Christian claim that Jesus overruled the Old Testament evils and replaced them with a kindler, gentler form of spiritual law, citing Matthew 5:17-19 and explaining:  (Emphasis added is mine)

All the laws of the Old Testament remain in full force and will continue to be so for as long as the Earth itself exists. If you are a liberal Christian and you claim that Christian morality does not require enforcing Leviticus 20:13 and executing every man who has ever committed a homosexual act, Jesus Christ himself says that you are wrong and that Fred Phelps (“whosoever shall do, and teach them”) is right.

Anyone who still thinks that Jesus changed everything should have a look at this 94 page PDF documenting instances of God’s hate (but use eye protection, for it is an abomination against the eyeballs). Sure, things got a little less genocidey after Jesus showed up, but it was still far from lovey-dovey.

So, let’s review: the Bible is the holy book of the Christian faith, and the only widely accepted source of their God’s teachings. The Bible is full of cruelty, violence, injustice, intolerance, and inconsistencies; it is, as Infidel753 describes it, a book of evil, and (if it were true) describes the activities of a deeply evil being, consumed by jealousy and prone to commit acts of unspeakable horror on a whim. Trying to defend this entity’s actions by citing examples where his capriciousness was inclined toward the generous side is like trying to defend a serial killer because he had an excellent driving record and supported his local PBS station.

So if you’re following a religion that is based on this book, but you are a good person, you are good in spite of it, not because of it. But, if you are not following the book, what is your religion, exactly? The god you know in your heart, based on the optimistic and selective interpretation of this book by good-hearted spiritual leaders? Well, then you’ve made up your own religion, and should probably think up another name for it, because when you identify as a member of a religion based on the teachings in the Bible, you align yourselves with Fred Phelps (remember, he’s right — Jesus said so.)

… i digress

About twenty years ago, I spent almost three years in NA, which is a cult, but that’s another rant entirely. The first thing you are required to do in that program is admit that you’re completely helpless and incurably ill, after which you must come to believe that only a Power greater than yourself can help you. If you are unable to choose any recognized deity, they will tell you to pick anything – the doorknob, the toaster, anything. And what is the point of that, one wonders? I would try to make a clever observation about how one’s reflection in the usually shiny surfaces of both those things is still you, it’s just distorted to the point of being nearly unrecognizable, but I feel like that would be pushing it. My point is, it doesn’t matter what you call what you believe in, it’s still just you looking back at you. If you are a genocidal asshole, you’ll see Fred Phelps’ version of a hateful and sadistic psychopath. If you’re a good and decent person, you’ll see a kindly long-haired hippie roaming the countryside feeding the hungry and healing the leopards. What you see in that entity you believe created you in his image is just you.

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inhuman nature

On Beliefnet, Rod Dreher offers a study in contradictions, starting with the title: Atheism and our inhuman nature. If human nature has a tendency towards evil, then evil isn’t inhuman, is it?

Then, as part of his argument for the necessity of religion, he cites atrocities in the Congo, then states:

This is not a matter of religion, or no religion. This is a matter of human nature, and what human beings are capable of absent civilized restraints. If you think people are bad with God, just imagine what they’re capable of without Him. I finished the Kristof column and thought to myself, “How is it that people still believe in the basic goodness of man?”

So if this is not a matter of religion or no religion, why, exactly, would religion help? In places like the Congo, or Rwanda, or any of the other places horrific things take place on a massive scale, are we to believe that by introducing (presumably) Christian morals, the rape, torture, and genocide would magically go away? This is a bit like shipping solar-powered bibles to earthquake victims who are starving and dying from lack of the most basic supplies – ignoring the overwhelming *real* needs in favor of imaginary ones. Not to mention completely overlooking the unspeakable persecutions currently being inflicted on gays in Uganda by a government heavily influenced by “The Family.”

But that’s not a contradiction, it’s just stupid. This is a contradiction:

And I believe having God — in the sense of professing belief in Him — is not enough to prevent individuals and sometimes entire societies from turning to evil (I think from time to time of a story I told here about Serbian butchers — Orthodox Christians, presumably — massacring innocent Bosnian Muslims; it was related to me by my friend Rich, who was haunted by the black mold on the wall of the warehouse, feeding on the bodily fluids of the murdered men). But if we are to be good, God must be present, and present in a real way in our hearts, such that His laws are binding on our conduct.

The cognitive dissonance is absolutely deafening. It’s like there’s an invisible 11th commandment, “Thou shalt disagree with thine own self.” Or maybe “Thou shalt not make any fucking sense at all, for the sensemakers are an abomination unto the Lord your God.”

In other news, Religious belief is likely a by-product of human moral reasoning, suggest psychologists.

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debate fail

It started out innocently enough. Coworker A comes back from session with chiropractor/massage guy, starts telling me funny story about how he did this test where he pressed down on her arm and told her about her past lives. We were sharing a good laugh about 187 past lives (about average for his clients) and I noted how unfair that would be, with a limited number of souls available due to vast population increases, and Coworker B comes trotting over and says, “wait, I hear some faulty logic here”. Oh crap, I’ve not ever debated this form of woo, I don’t even know how they argue it. I mention increases from hundreds of millions to billions and he counters, “How do we know there weren’t billions and billions of people back then?” Oh CRAP. (more…)

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like, omg

A few months ago, I somehow managed to secure the username “god” at formspring.me. I then promptly forgot to attend to the inquiries, and this morning discovered there were 48 of them. I answered each and every one, except the one about how many dicks I can fit in my mouth. I regret that, because “infinity” would have been such an awesome answer. Oh well.

Nobody’s perfect :)

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physicists see Michael Jackson’s face in hardened polymer

Jesus isn’t the only one who occasionally makes an appearance in, erm, alternative media. David Fairhurst, a physicist at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, explains the discovery:

The ugly-looking globular mound is a droplet of polymer solution, the kind of substance you might find in the ink cartridges of your printer. As the solution began to dry, Fairhurst noticed a number of small “spherulites” begin to crystallise on the droplet surface revealing what appears to be a tiny human face.

“I noticed it immediately and showed it to the other guys – we had a really good laugh about it,” Fairhurst told physicsworld.com.

The physicist and his group of PhD students reckon the face looks like a small girl, or possibly even the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Fairhurst adds that, after scientific analysis, it might not be the King of Pop after all:

I ran the image through an online face-recognition programme and the names that came out included: Rachel Carson, the American environmentalist; Marlene Dietrich the German-born actress; and (tenuously) Iggy Pop.

Well sure. The resemblance is … um …

Rachel
Rachel
Marlene
Marlene
Iggy
Tenuously, Iggy

clicking embiggens :)

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15 seconds of super bowl vs. 75 employees for 1 year

source: adfreak blog on adweek.com (click image for more)

Ahh, the choices we face in life. Imagine you are an executive with Focus on the Family. I know, I know, it’s unpleasant, but bear with me. Now, imagine you have a difficult choice to make: do you run a $3,000,000 advertisement for fifteen seconds during a football game, or do you hire back 75 recently laid-off staffers at an average of $35,000 salary for a year?

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what is it with that silsby woman?

Exactly:

The creepy factor here is off the charts.

But don’t judge her just by the (for lack of a better word) smile. Listen to “Carol”, a former employee of Ms. Silsby:

A woman, I will call her Carol*, contacted me after reading my article on OS earlier this week regarding the Baptists missionaries detained in Haiti. She reached out to me because she said (via email) “there is a group of us watching the events in Haiti [regarding Laura Silsby] in horror.” and ”she [Silsby] is a snake oil salesman.”
Many of us have been watching this story with great interest. But, Carol’s perspective is different as she has been observing Silsby for years, from the inside – Carol is a former employee of Silsby’s online company PersonalShopper.com.

Carol went on, “Laura Silsby is incredibly good at getting enormous sums of money from people. 10 years good at it. She has probably smooth talked these poor people and now they’re stuck in jail with her.”
The New York Times quotes Edwin Coq, the Baptist’s lawyer, stating that 9 of his 10 clients were “completely innocent,” but that, in an apparent reference to Ms. Silsby, “if the judiciary were to keep one, it could be the leader of the group.” (read the rest here)

It really is a shame that religious institutions have a general tendency to discourage critical thought, it makes their members such easy prey for thieves like this.

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