Archive for the ‘Poisoning Christianity’ Category

Scrooge Was a Liberal!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Until the three ghosts visited him, then he became a right-winger.

Ann Coulter took a look at the miserly-versus-generous behavior, vis a vis party affiliation, and came to that conclusion. It makes more sense than you might think:

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks’ study of charitable giving in America found that conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than liberals do, despite the fact that liberals have higher incomes than conservatives.

In his book “Who Really Cares?” Brooks compared the charitable donations of religious conservatives, secular liberals, secular conservatives and “religious” liberals.

His surprising conclusion was … Al Franken gave the most of all!

Ha ha! Just kidding. Religious conservatives, the largest group at about 20 percent of the population, gave the most to charity — $2,367 per year, compared with $1,347 for the country at large.

Even when it comes to purely secular charities, religious conservatives give more than other Americans, which is surprising because liberals specialize in “charities” that give them a direct benefit, such as the ballet or their children’s elite private schools.

Indeed, religious people, Brooks says, “are more charitable in every measurable nonreligious way.”

Brooks found that conservatives donate more in time, services and even blood than other Americans, noting that if liberals and moderates gave as much blood as conservatives do, the blood supply would increase by about 45 percent.

They ought to set up blood banks at tea parties.

On average, a person who attends religious services and does not believe in the redistribution of income will give away 100 times more — and 50 times more to secular charities — than a person who does not attend religious services and strongly believes in the redistribution of income.

Secular liberals, the second largest group coming in at 10 percent of the population, were the whitest and richest of the four groups. These “bleeding-heart tightwads,” as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls them, were the second stingiest, just behind secular conservatives, who are mostly young, poor, cranky white guys.

Despite their wealth and advantages, secular liberals give to charity at a rate of 9 percent less than all Americans and 19 percent less than religious conservatives. They were also “significantly less likely than the population average to return excess change mistakenly given to them by a cashier.”
Interestingly, religious liberals were also “most confused” of all the groups. Composed mostly of blacks and Unitarians, religious liberals made nearly as many charitable donations as religious conservatives, but presumably, the Unitarians brought down their numbers, making them second in charitable giving.

Brooks wrote that he was shocked by his conclusions because he believed liberals “genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did” — probably because liberals are always telling us that.

Blogger friend Phil entered a comment yesterday that is even more persuasive:

What was Scrooge’s answer to the charity collectors?

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink. and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.

See, he would give none of his post-tax fortunes to ease others’ suffering because that’s the government’s job – in accordance with the progressive viewpoint.

And of course, after his conversion, he gave freely of his fortunes to those to whom he chose to give it. Which would be in accordance with the conservative viewpoint.

Phil nailed it. The liberal has seen to it that we have constructed our state apparatus to deal with this — therefore he has “given at the office,” as it were, and there is nothing to do but scold, scold, and scold some more.

All who doubt this, just let the air out of your own tire at some busy intersection, downtown, in an urban area in the middle of a blue state. Or the water out of your radiator. See what kind of help you get…see what kind of attitude you get…then drive out into the middle of a farming area in a red state and repeat the exercise. This is the real cost of the nanny-state: You get your prisons, workhouses, treadmills and “poor laws” up and running, and with them arrives a horde of Ebenezer Scrooges ready to talk about them. The “gave at the office” attitude. Just get that wreck out of my way!

Reaching out with a helping hand to someone you personally notice needs the help, it becomes a thing of the past. We have programs to deal with that stuff; go there.

Thing I Know #343. The hard obligations of “charity” wax, the charitable feelings wane.

“It Was During One of These Meetings When the Penis Question Was Asked”

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Blogger friend Rick reminisces about the past, unfondly…waxing morosely about a spiritual setback, but it’s not the kind you’re expecting.

The initial hurdle was a series of psychological tests. I had to trek up to Richmond for the day to take them. It took hours to complete the battery. Once I learned that I had passed that satisfactorily, I moved on to the next level.

I, and my fellow potential ordinands, met with a Diocesan discernment board made up of both clergy, laity and mental health professionals…

We met regularly over a number of months as I recall and it was during one of these meetings when the penis question was asked…

I’m trying to think of a personal anecdote I could toss into the mix that would compare, and…nope. The closest I can come is when, as a kid, I had to listen as my Dad griped and grumbled about “the hippies taking over the church,” because the blue jeans and patch-elbowed suit jackets were taking the place of the fine traditional velvet choir robes, and the guitars were gradually displacing the pipe organ.

That’s nuthin’ compared to pre-ordination psychobabble questions about Big Jim & The Twins. I’ve just drawn a pair of sixes against Rick’s Full House.

I Made a New Word XLI

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Pres • ley (v.)

1. To kill an organism slowly, by means of poisoning, which in turn is achieved by denying it the ability to purge itself of impurities.
2. In politics, to bring an entity to a slow demise by stigmatizing against its autonomy in declaring what it is; specifically, declaring what is incompatible with it.
3. To deploy political resistance against a group’s ability to jettison something, with an intent to make it more ludicrous over time and thus to bring it to an end.
4. To declare that someone should never part with something, as if you have their best interests at heart, when you really don’t.

We’ve seen a lot of this lately haven’t we? Ann Rice lashes out against Christianity even as she insists she still believes in Christ; Meghan McCain tries to destroy the Republican party over the same issue, homosexuality, denying it the opportunity to declare and exercise a fidelity to its own principles.

The Republicans responded to a number of other moves like this one, late last year, by coming up with a “Purity Test.” Oh boy, after that, the process just started to get going. The purity test was watered down, by the folks who supposedly had the party’s best interests at heart. And after just a couple months, because of all the artificial heat involved, the purity test was dropped.

Now get your puke bucket ready — if someone isn’t Presley-ing you, you’re gonna be needing it. New York Daily News wants to call out the Republicans for getting rid of Bob Inglis.

The current Republican Party, one hijacked by hustlers and extremists, not only looks to destroy President Obama. It even starts to kill its own.

Rep. Bob Inglis, a voice of reason at a dumb, unreasonable time in American politics, is one of them. Inglis (R-S.C.) will be out of a job soon for not hating Barack Obama nearly enough. The irony, he says, is that he disagrees with Obama on almost everything.

Sounds pretty dumb and unreasonable, doesn’t it? Stupid Republicans! We need a new rule, requiring them to keep the candidate 71% of the voters did not want. For their own good!

But wait. Inglis says…

“I’d get asked a question and they’d all wait to see if I’d use the word – socialist – they were throwing around. I wouldn’t. Because I don’t think that’s what he is. To call him a socialist is to demean the office and stir up a passion that we need to be calming, rather than constantly stirring up.”

Now, that’s a problem. As we’ve pointed out before, it’s pretty hard to come up with something a socialist is supposed to do, that the President has not in fact already done. Inglis is effectively saying if you’re a socialist, once you manage to get yourself elected President, it becomes an obligation of all the citizens to pretend you aren’t one so that the office is not demeaned.

Sorry, Bob. Words mean things, as they saying goes. And since when do we elect our officials to calm ourselves down? Seems to me that’s not what your job is supposed to be. How’d this country get started in the first place, anyway? Was that a “calm” revolution? I missed that part of my history, please enlighten me.

But wait! At paragraph number thirteen (!!!), the reader is finally given the information needed to decide the paramount question: Is the Republican party cuckoo-burgers? Maybe they are, but if so, this might not be the decision that manage to demonstrates it. They purged sensibly. Not that this is evident to you if you stopped reading two-thirds of the way through.

Inglis is smart enough to know it wasn’t just his refusal to call the President names that turned him into one more unemployed American. He voted for TARP and against the surge in Iraq and even called out Glenn Beck, a rough, tough media guy who thinks ad hominem attacks are great until he’s the hominem.

In the primary runoff, Inglis’ opponent got 71% of the vote. It’s never just one thing when you get carried out of the ring like that.

“I was at a breakfast and somebody said the President wasn’t patriotic,” Inglis says. “I knew I was supposed to go along. Instead, I got up and said, ‘That’s simply not true. I disagree with this President most of the time, but he loves his country.’ Afterward a big Republican operative in our state grabbed me and said, ‘Don’t give him that.’ I said, ‘Give him what?’ And the guy said, ‘That he’s patriotic.’

“Why do I have to see Democrats as my enemies? I’ve got Al Qaeda. I’ve got the Taliban. I’ve got enough enemies. I’m supposed to call this President despicable? The people who are despicable are the ones who constantly mislead the public in the interest of selling books. Or themselves. And always cloaking themselves in patriotism. Shame on them.”

He laughs softly.

“But then what do I know?” Bob Inglis says. “I lost.”

His district did. His state did. His party did. He did not.

Yes, his party lost. It lost something it needed to lose, something toxic to it. If you are never allowed to reject anything, then there’s no definition to you and you’re never allowed to become anything.

Inglis did lose. He lost the confidence of his party, that he possessed the mettle required to effectively resist bad policy. He went on the record seeing things that were not actually there. He imagined a “love” of country, where the evidence doesn’t indicate any love actually exists. Like I’ve said before: If you love me like today’s democrats love America, then please stay the hell away.

But if the GOP is to show this dreamer the door, they are to pay as high a political price as is possible, for doing so.

In 2010, it seems that is a popular tactic of the left. Among the people who, strangely, inexplicably, are enamored of some frenzied fondness for higher taxes. Even though most of the people so intoxicated have no direct interest in such a policy, and stand to improve their lot in life not one bit through such a policy.

You know what? They could use a good purging, too.

Update: Oh look, there goes one of them right now. Raising money for Charlie Crist. It doesn’t even justify a separate post.

This is a word we’ve been needing for awhile. It’s an important concept, and we’re seeing examples of it more and more often lately.

If you’re never allowed to get rid of anything, you can’t keep anything.


Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Had this in my stack of to-do things, and The Spyglass jogged my memory about it.

Gerard Alexander: Why are liberals so condescending?

Every political community includes some members who insist that their side has all the answers and that their adversaries are idiots. But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration. Indeed, all the appeals to bipartisanship notwithstanding, President Obama and other leading liberal voices have joined in a chorus of intellectual condescension.
This condescension is part of a liberal tradition that for generations has impoverished American debates over the economy, society and the functions of government — and threatens to do so again today, when dialogue would be more valuable than ever.

Alexander provides many examples to support this, most of them recent. If he had the space to do so, he could put together an elaborate treatise supporting the fact that this has been a prominent trait of progressive liberalism within each and every single decade since…maybe World War II. Awhile.

Do all revolutions call for reactionary dismissal of the opposition’s ideas? I doubt it. As I read through the writings of the Founding Fathers, the most frequently recurring theme seems to be outrage with regard to the status quo — much like liberals with our health care, interestingly — but I don’t recall a single peep out of them about those “stupid” Tories and how they’re out to snooker everybody (or have been snookered by somebody). No, the Founding Fathers were fixated on what a viewpoint of one’s own birthright and responsibilities does to his way of looking at life itself; what it does to his way of living it.

Liberals, to the contrary, must avoid any discussion of that. America’s builders wanted people to stop living like dependent veal calves. Our post-moderns want us to start again.

For Adams, Jefferson, Madison et al, there was no need to even acknowledge the opposition, let alone formulate some “cowcatcher” idea to push them out of the way. We, the big “we,” were simply meant for grander things than to plow and harvest the fertile soil on behalf of the King Great Britain. And so there was no need to propagandize against the opposition. Maybe there were some caricatures of King George himself, but I see no evidence of anyone putting forth the argument that if you were a loyalist, you were automatically stupid, a nitwit, a dimbulb, a halfwit…even though that was a revolution too. So what changed?

Maybe it’s the secularism. If we were intended to govern ourselves…someone, somewhere, must have been doing that intending. To dwell upon such an idea nowadays in a public school setting, of course, would be an offense to our overlords and career suicide to the district employee. And so it is out of the question, and liberals don’t seem to be enthused about monotheism of any kind anyway. Other foundational concepts are similarly off-limits to them. Precedent is typically out of their reach. Quick, when’s the last time the earth was in danger, and we cut our carbon emissions and saved it? Actually, being a liberal seems to be mutually exclusive from doing anything anybody ever did before, whether it was found to be a winning strategy or not.

And so I think the process is one of elimination. DO IT MY WAY — because — these other guys did exactly the same thing over here and it turned out to be a smashing success? Liberals can’t say that. Do it my way because if a Higher Power put you here, then that Higher Power must intend for you to take on the responsibility? They cannot say that either. And so all that remains is some litmus test for intelligence, invented on the spot, but the progressive recruiter must pretend it is ancient, established, and canonical.

If you don’t do it my way, you’re a nitwit. According to something…some establishment of True North, some conception of it that is sacrosanct, bigger than you or me. Something cosmic. But not anointed or blessed or any of that “god” stuff. Something secular, something scieyuntifikal, something undeniable.

Do it my way or you are — mathematically — a dumbass.

It’s a messy hodge-podge, because it is the result of grasping at straws.

Christianity, Conservatism and “Reality TV”

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Reality teevee is starting to look like droopy butt-crack jeans to me: It appeals to morons, it looks (consequently) as stupid as all holy hell, but for reasons nobody can explain it’s just hanging around like a bad smell, year after year and decade after decade. Who thinks this looks cool? Who likes it? Someone somewhere must.

Anyway. Ryan Mauro, writing for Pajamas Media, was inspired by some vapid piece of “reality” trash, and after he distilled it for me in writing, I was inspired as well. I tried watching the clip, but the way these twenty-year-olds talk just grated on me after awhile.

Let’s go with the written summary:

The argument features Ty, an atheist; Mike, a bisexual Christian; and Ashley, a pro-Obama Christian who tries to referee…Ty is immediately angry, obviously bitter at Christians and threatened by any potential credibility of the faith. He says “everyone who is religious is so narrow-minded” and challenges Mike to say God doesn’t exist. When Mike refuses to, that is proof that he isn’t open-minded, according to Ty. For the most part, Mike stays cool throughout, reflecting a confidence in his faith and position…
Mike explains how the idea that his bisexuality means “you can’t be religious, you can’t follow the Bible, you can’t follow God … is stupid.” This may sound like a hippie version of Christianity that means there is no objective right and wrong, but he further explains.

“My church is come-as-you-are and we’ll teach you Christ and we’ll make you better and if you’re flawed, everybody’s flawed, just do what you can,” he says, and then he goes onto explain the concept of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love. Again, this sounds like an acceptance of sin, but if you listen closely, he’s acknowledging that we’re all sinners and in need of salvation. And as all sinners require God’s mercy, this means we are all on the same plane — whether you’re a bisexual, or lie, or act selfishly, or ever step into any of the pitfalls that all of us have — unless you think you’re perfect, which is a pitfall in and of itself.

This just completely nails it. And if you’re really paying attention, you see how the American experiment fits right into this: All men are created equal, and all that. Ted Kennedy was not a wonderful demigod whose poop didn’t stink; Barack Obama isn’t one right now, nor will He ever be. We’re all just people. We make our imperfect institutions within our imperfect lives on this imperfect plane of existence, and we do the best we can.

Hit the Nail on the HeadWe sometimes embrace a spirit of community to correct mistakes for each other. Like, for example, you could confuse “health care reform” with a process of corrupt politicians washing each others’ backsides, making closed-door deals to get “The Legislation” passed. If you can fall for that, then as an individual you can make mistakes, which it’s up to the community to then correct.

We sometimes take that too far, and declare a kind of war on the individual, pronouncing the community to be the source of all that is wise and good. That, too, is a mortal mistake. Or, we revert to our primitive urges and start to align ourselves into stratified, aristocratic layers. That, also, is a mistake made by terrestrial, flawed ordinary people.

If you think this is veering off into the Supreme Court decision, you’re right.

Ben Shapiro, at Townhall, did a great job of summarizing exactly what this means:

The case, entitled Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, dealt with Citizens United’s “Hillary: The Movie,” a 2008 documentary highly critical of the then-Democratic presidential candidate. The Federal Election Commission saw the documentary as a political advertisement in violation of the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA), and shut down Citizen United’s publicity efforts. Citizens United sued. And on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations no less than individuals have a right to political speech.
The unspoken rationale behind campaign finance reform has always been the equalization of access to political influence; many leftists feel that a poor man’s speech is not truly “free” unless it counts as much as a rich man’s in the public square. In this view, free speech is a commodity to be parceled out by the government in the name of equality, not an opportunity or a restriction on government interference in political action.

Because this rationale is not palatable to most Americans — we don’t want the government rationing our speech — the campaign finance reform gurus have cloaked themselves in the guise of “anti-corruption.” In Citizens United, however, the Supreme Court came out foursquare against that flimsy facade. “[T]he First Amendment,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, surprisingly lucid for once, “does not allow political speech restrictions based on a speaker’s corporate identity.”

This drives home exactly what liberalism is: Like conservatism, it acknowledges that people are inherently flawed. Since we’re flawed, we are capable of doing things that are bad — once we get ahold of the resources needed to do harm. Like a gun. Or mass-communication access to voters. Or what is surely the most dangerous weapon of all: The faith in the idea that we were put here for a reason, and if are sufficiently determined, we will succeed in what we were put here to do.

Liberals have a solution for this. Although this stain of flaw is certainly on us, from somewhere deep in their nether regions they’ve pulled out this hypothesis that it’s not interwoven with our DNA; instead, it is drizzled down upon us disproportionately. Some of us are awash in it. Most of us are just spattered with a light coating, and just a few fortunate folks have missed the smearing entirely. They may not be living on a plane of perfection, but somehow, doggone it they just are.

The solution therefore is clear: Identify who among us is least tainted by this meandering paintbrush of flaw, and install these Special People into some high position in which they can deprive the most grievously flawed from the tools that could & would be used to do harm. For an example, look no further than that awesome little document put out by Janet Napolitano’s agency…remember that? How it called out targeted classes of — citizens? For special scrutiny, to make sure they don’t do anything dangerous? Liberalism in a nutshell. Argue forcefully against any kind of “profiling,” come up with a new variant of it, and then go ahead and practice it without reservation, apology, or even a hint of irony.

We therefore need to organize into Elites and Commons. There needs to be an aristocracy. These Superpeople at the top, like Barack Obama, Barney Frank, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, therefore, are best suited to figure out what our health care habits should be, what kinds of cars our companies should build, what magnitudes of “Executive Bonus” are alright, when we should go to bed, what kind of food we should eat. The rest of us should then just do what they say.

Oh yeah: And get extra, extra nasty toward anyone who disagrees. Raise our voices to drown them out.

Spirit of 1776The conservative viewpoint is different…and yes, it has a relationship with Christianity, even among conservatives who happen to be atheists. It says, since we’re all descended from Adam, we are all tainted. Like the reality-teevee guy said, the tainting is conceptually uniform, and places us on a unifying, level egalitarian plane. So no, this layering of Special People versus plain ordinary hoi polloi, this just isn’t going to work.

And this seems to be where all the conflict emerges. The Constitution, in letter as well as in spirit, adheres to a principle of Separation of Powers. And so the debate is about — shouldn’t we just bulldoze that whole thing out of the way? These Special People need their Special Powers to make us just a little bit more perfect, like them. If we don’t give them these powers, we condemn any & all opportunity we may have to get better, and therefore it’s inevitable that we’ll get much worse! That’s just sensible, durable logic isn’t it?

And the conservatives continue to cling to this reckless and foolhardy notion of something called “freedom.”

Perhaps there is no way for these two sides to get along with each other. What we should do, is get rid of these Christian Conservatives. We should banish them somewhere; let them start their own country. They could write up some documents defining how this strange, expurgated malignancy is supposed to work…you know, dedicated to their sick, weird proposition that all men are created equal. They can go there and worship their strange little sky-fairy, maybe even include Him in their special little documents, how self-evident they hold it to be that they are endowed by their Creator with certain individual rights, that chief among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…

Hmm, where in the world should we put them, I wonder? Could there be a country somewhere on the planet that already believes in this silly stuff? What could it be called, and where is it?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Jail Time for Praying

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Pensacola, Fla.:

Students, teachers and local pastors are protesting over a court case involving a northern Florida school principal and an athletic director who are facing criminal charges and up to six months in jail over their offer of a mealtime prayer.

There have been yard signs, T-shirts and a mass student protest during graduation ceremonies this spring on behalf of Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and school athletic director Robert Freeman, who will go on trial Sept. 17 at a federal district court in Pensacola for breaching the conditions of a lawsuit settlement reached last year with the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I have been defending religious freedom issues for 22 years, and I’ve never had to defend somebody who has been charged criminally for praying,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the Orlando-based legal group that is defending the two school officials.

This is an important story, because one of the talking points out there is that nobody ever prohibits prayer at school, the prohibition is against proselytizing.

It seems the Santa Rosa County School District struck a deal as a result of a lawsuit…which, in turn, came out of this prohibition against proselytizing. Lawsuit, to deal, to court order, to jail. Baby steps. Now we’ve got people going to jail for praying, exactly the thing we’re often told is never happening.

The fight involving the ACLU, the school district and several devout Christian employees began last August when the ACLU sued Santa Rosa County Schools on behalf of two students who had complained privately to the group’s Florida affiliate, claiming some teachers and administrators were allowing prayers at school events such as graduations, orchestrating separate religiously themed graduation services, and “proselytizing” students during class and after school.

It takes some legal wrangling to forge a criminal act out of the First Amendment. It’s not a law designed to restrict the actions of people, it’s a law designed to restrict other laws that would ordinarily restrict the actions of people. This is supported by a simple reading of the plain text. “[O]r prohibiting the free exercise thereof” — it’s right in there.

Not that I’m saying anything anyone needs to know, that they don’t already know. The point is that thanks to the wrangling and massaging, a law that was clearly meant to support our central freedoms has been flipped around 180 degrees.

I’ve never been able to accept at face value these stories of students going off to complain to the ACLU. I went to school once; never did know where my local ACLU office was. So how do things like this work? The ACLU lawyer is sitting in his office one day, bored out of his skull, throwing pencils into the cork ceiling over his head…and suddenly he hears a knock at the door! “Hi, we’re a couple of students at such-and-such a school and we’re awfully concerned about some praying we’ve been hearing…”

Um, yeah. Somehow I doubt it went down like that.

Hat tip to Rick.

Religious Leftist Bigot-Fest

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Blogger friend Rick:

At our favorite go-to loving, compassionate and oh-so tolerant Religious Leftist hide-out:

A few days ago Brian McLaren commented via Sojourners on some disturbing findings from a recently released Pew Forum study, reported on here by CNN:

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

There’s no getting around this one. Those unaffiliated with any religious organization were less likely to support torture than the white evangelical Protestants surveyed. To borrow a line from Anne Lamott once again, I suspect Jesus has been drinking a lot of gin out of the cat dish this week.

Just to avoid confusion, let me be crystal clear on this one: I don’t believe you can be a Follower of Jesus and be in favour of torture, no way, no how.
I’m wondering if those “six in 10” white evangelical Protestants are not so much for torture per se, but in reality are for torture as long as it is practiced against people who do not look like them.

“No getting around this one.” Heh. Heheheh.

He said, “Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'” — Isaiah 6:9

No time to elaborate on where the flock has gone astray here, but it has to do with what you truly believe if you’re a gnostic atheist. We grew here, we’re nothing more than the natural result of wetness and nutrients coming in contact with each other, there is no Divine Will placing us here.

And therefore when one of us places several others of us in mortal peril, there is no moral imperative to do anything about it. Our leftist Christian-bashers are mistaking the absence of something for an abundance of it.

This Is Good LX

Monday, March 30th, 2009


Future Present
Posted on March 29th, 2009 by Scipio

Our archeologist, while rummaging among the ruins of our fallen civilization, met a ghost from the long dead race of Americans. The wraith boasted much about what we had been as a people.

We died in the hundreds of thousands to end slavery here and around the world.

We invented Jazz.

We wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg address.

We went to the moon to see how far we could hit a golf ball.

We lifted a telescope into orbit that could see to the edge of the universe.

When people snuck into the country against our laws, we made parking lots and food stands off to the side of the road so they wouldn’t get hurt, and we let them use our hospitals for free, and we made their children citizens.

We didn’t care what God you worshipped as long as we could worship ours.

We let the People arm themselves at will. Just to make sure.

We gave everybody the vote.

We built Disneyworld. Just for fun.

We had a revolution so successful it was still going strong two and a quarter centuries later.

We had so many heroes, even at the end, that we felt free to hate them and burn them in effigy.

We electrified the guitar.

We invented a music so compelling that it rocked the world.

The archeologist asked, “If you accomplished all of this, then why did your nation collapse?” The ghost answered, “Because we went insane.”

“Please explain.”

The ghost took a breath and said, “We traded beauty for ugliness, truth for lies, liberty for comfort, love for indifference, responsibility for frivolity, duty for entertainment, history for sound bites, and children for pleasure. We had gold, but we tossed it aside and replaced it with cleverly designed dross. We turned men into women and women into men and marveled at our new creative power. We stopped looking up to Heaven and began to keep our gaze firmly fixed on the ground. We abandoned the old God for a host of hip, cool and slick new ones.”


“Those new gods turned on us. At first they granted us our every wish. They laughed with us. They danced with us. We all ate, drank and made all sorts of merry. All of us exulted in our power. And then…” Here the ghost stopped for a moment. His mouth was half open as if trying to speak. His body shuddered as it remembered an ancient terror. “But there were some among us who felt something was wrong, dreadfully wrong.”

“How so?”

There’s more…much more. What’re you still doing here?

Pothead Culture

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Last night, I was noticing Michael Savage‘s observations about things, match my own, most closely when he says stuff that “everybody knows” is crazy.

Last night it was pot. Now, if I go only by what I’ve been hearing, just the opinions people have about things that they want to put out there whether they can explain ’em or not — we have to legalize this stuff pronto. It is not, not, not, not, not, repeat not, a “gateway drug.” It’s cheap, it’s good for you, it makes wonderful rope and sweaters, and besides if we legalize it we can tax it; that’ll “pay off the deficit overnight,” they tell me. Besides, “contrary to popular belief,” smoking pot increases your powers of observation and concentration. You’d want your brain surgeon to smoke pot.

Well for a melodious, cheerful dinner conversation, you really shouldn’t get Dr. Michael Alan Weiner going about marijuana. This is the point where, I’m going to presume, the guests start to regret allowing the conversation to drift in that general direction, for one quickly gathers the impression the good doctor can barely contain himself. Not only is pot a gateway drug, he says, but it’s a deadly one, one that destroys the consumer’s ability to think. Yes, this is what I’d been noticing. Pay off the deficit overnight, for example. They don’t mean this year’s budget deficit, at the state or federal level; they’re talking about the trillions and trillions owed by our federal government, more properly called the public debt. A little bit of third-grade math is devastating to that argument, especially when you start applying it to interest. Let’s see…ten trillion dollars “overnight” is eight hundred thirty-three billion dollars an hour, which comes to just shy of fourteen billion dollars a minute in tax receipts on legalized, taxable marijuana.

Er, uh, yeah, says the stoner. I was speaking, y’know, whatchamacallzit, metaphorically. Yeah. Yeah sure you were, pothead. You were talking out your butt. You weren’t speaking any way except cheerleading. You were trolling for recruits.

Now I don’t really have a dog in this hunt about legalizing marijuana one way or another, but I really can’t stand looking at an issue too closely when it’s part of something much bigger, which is why we haven’t been talking about pot too much in these pages. It’s not just about smoking pot. There’s a whole culture built around this, and that’s what Savage was going after last night. Here’s his argument: Because of the year we’re in, the potheads are coming into power right now. Seems, to me, this has been going on since about ’93, when Clinton was sworn in. But it’s been getting worse. One way or another the stoners are running the show. We have this window of ages we like to see in our leaders; the ones who make the actual decisions; the baby boomers who latched on, generationally, to the pothead culture, are there right now. So pretty much every office that counts for something — in the private sector as well as in government — is filled by a pothead.

Savage’s condemnation of the plant is even harsher than mine. As I understand it, he seems to believe in once-a-pothead-always-a-pothead…as if, once you inhale in your early twenties, in your late fifties youre still making bonehead decisions. Not sure if I’d go that far. But there certainly is a lag time, and a pronounced tendency to reject humility. I mean sincere, substantial humility. The tendency I see is to say “That must be an okay thing to do, for I just did it.” And it does seem persistent across time: That other guy did something, that’s awful, terrible, horrible, bad. I did something, even something that is against the law…well hey man, it’s all relative.

Savage went on to offer two examples of potheads running the show: Shutting down Guantanamo, or at least ceasing & desisting from the “torture” conducted within, and sending San Francisco’s police department to some kind of sensitivity training. I wish he went on much further than that, and maybe he did but my commute came to an end. I know I could add to a list like that all day long.

But I’m much more into definitions than examples, here. I’m junior to the baby boomers by some twelve to twenty years or so, which means I’ve been struggling awkwardly in their impressive wake all my life and will be continuing to do so until the day I drop dead. I consider myself well-qualified to speak on this. And Savage is right — the smoke-holers are running the show. Stoners hire other stoners. Because it’s them against the world, man. So this is becoming an important issue, one that’s affecting us all even in ways we don’t understand immediately when it isn’t pointed out.

Reefer GirlIt has a lot to do with something called “love”; that’s why you have to immediately stop torturing terrorists, and that of course means you have to stop doing anything that anybody, anywhere, no matter how recklessly, might label “torture.” Pretty much just feed ’em three times a day, fluff up their pillows, find out what else they want from you, go get it, and wait for them to talk. Police shouldn’t hurt criminals, and probably shouldn’t even arrest them for anything either. Countries shouldn’t go to war, no matter the reason. Make-love-not-war.

Conversely with that, whatever the potheads mean by “love,” it doesn’t have much to do with compatibility, because they seem to be insisting that whatever confrontation might possibly happen, does happen. A woman who is madly in love with her man, and none other, is deeply offensive to them. That could be because the feminist movement came to maturity at the same time as the pothead movement. If you really want to piss off a pothead, make a suggestion, in theory or in practice, that a woman who really loves her man will go get him a cold beer out of the fridge. (I’m entirely unsure how they’re going to react if she runs into the bedroom and gets him a jay.) But everything is like that; they don’t want people, in general, getting along with other people. Not across class lines, anyway. The real contradiction here, is that this is precisely what they say they’re working tirelessly to bring about, but I’ve noticed for years now when it’s right in front of their faces they don’t see it that way, and in fact recoil from it. Everyone has to be fighting something — man. Immigrants are constantly “oppressed” by bigoted “xenophobes” who in fact are insisting on nothing more than that the law be followed. Blacks are always oppressed by whites, women are always oppressed by men, citizens are always oppressed by the police and children are always oppressed by their parents. Everyone should constantly be throwing off shackles, storming some fortress or rampart, overthrowing someone, showing ’em what’s-what.

There are no consequences for anything. That’s probably the biggest, most important item, right there. No decision is ever made out of a sense of “if-this-then-that”; there are no domino effects, there is no cause-and-effect. Decisions are made, instead, on value-systems and overly-simplistic “should”s. If you think we’ll be unable to prevent an attack after we stop “torturing” terrorists, well, you’re just wrong. This argument won’t be taken anywhere, logically, mind you. It’ll simply be ended. It’ll be answered with mocking, “The Experts Say,” some quotes from The Daily Show, maybe a recycled line from Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs…and that’s about it. If you bring up some solid evidence of your own, such as mentioning Kalid Sheikh Mohammed or Abdul Hakim Murad, well, you’re just a mean unreasonable poopy-head. Trust me on this. I’ve been there.

So it really ends up being a child’s fantasy land, when you get down to it. I don’t mean a small child’s fantasy; I’m talking a teenager, of the slothy kind, the kind that doesn’t roll out of bed or do the dishes or cut the grass without a whole lot of nagging. Every little thing that would require some foresight or manual labor brings forth a torrent of excuses. There are lots of positive thoughts about how we all need to love each other and get along with each other — right up until positive thoughts about other people determine something decisive must be done, something that requires effort. Then we don’t need to think such positive thoughts about each other anymore. Like, for example, very wealthy people are just as much entitled to keep their money as the rest of us, and it’s probably beneficial to allow them to do so, because the rest of us are in a symbiotic relationship with them…that would be a positive, compassionate thought, one that is compatible with the continuing harmonious working of an evolved, civilized society. But you’ll never see the potheads support that one, because that’s just a bit too much civilization and “love” for them to choke down at all at once. Far better to drone onward about being oppressed, man, by that evil corporate America, man.

Every little call to take garbage out, is met with some plea for moral relativism, cry for revolution, or both of those. I mean literal garbage, such as everyday household chores, as well as figurative garbage, like making sure Big Bad Bart catches that midnight train outta here and doncha dare come back. Hippies hate cowboys, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, and they pull no punches that the thing they hate the most about cowboys, is the white hat, the black hat and the moral clarity. They hate the way this leads to realizations, fifteen minutes before closing-credits, that a real confrontation has to take place…for consequences loom over the “town,” if it does not. The stoner hippie isn’t down with that. He philosophizes his way out of every little thing that needs doing, and all without putting down the doobie or moving his ass off that well-worn mattress.

Hippies and those oh-so-hated cowboys are close cousins, in a way. They’re both all about confrontation. But the cowboy uses bullets instead of rhetoric and the hippy doesn’t like that. The dirtiest secret of all lies within that special hatred for bullets. It isn’t the property damage, or the death, or the carnage, or the danger to the bystanders the hippy hates when hot lead is flying around the saloon. It is the finality of the solution. No more negotiations; they never began. An elegant Obama/Cronkite lilt to the voice doesn’t count for shit. Settlements to disputes are not proposed, only implemented. Nothing is up for appeal.

In other words, decisions actually get made. Situations get changed. That is what cannot be tolerated on Planet Pothead. Ain’t that a kicker? The culture began for the express purpose of upsetting the status quo on a grand, cosmic scale; once it got some momentum built up, it became all about preserving status quos, even within microscopic, practically insignificant settings. Every situational change is a verbal agreement, which is just meaningless jibber-jabber, since every agreement has a loophole.

So I think Savage has a point here, and it’s a little bit of a frightening one when you think about it. Potheads are making the decisions now, and that means all decisions are cosmetic in nature, accountability never figures into it, consequences aren’t to be reckoned with. Do we have a society that can withstand that for long? Are our most influential and powerful positions-of-trust grappling with decisions on a daily-basis, decisions that can be made well, or at least harmlessly, by people who don’t believe actions have consequences? People that are only there to enforce contrarian social codes, love without accompanying feelings of symbiosis, and surreal & tie-died systems of quasi-moral babbling?

Can our culture stand for very long, when there is no human passion worth satisfying except lusting for the perverse, and the next case-of-the-munchies? With every single office that really matters, turned into a “work-free-drug-place”?

There’s the big question.

I guess we’ll be finding out the answer pretty soon, now.

Kwanzaa is Over

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

It really is just a memory and nothing more (hat tip: Attack Machine, via Maggie’s Farm).

Let’s make affirmative action next. Our President-Elect is a black guy, after all. Why would such a program be needed by a country with a black President? It’s possible for anyone to do anything, regardless of skin color, no dream is out-of-reach…or else, that’s not the case. Gotta be one or t’other, it can’t be both.

And, now, it can’t be “t’other.”

We do such a good job of jettisoning things that have helped so many people in the past. Let’s toss something overboard that hasn’t been helpful to anyone at all, ever, not even once, except cosmetically. Just once, for a change of pace. To show we can.

My Heart is Hardened, My Mind Enslaved

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Okay, I’ll talk about the damn sign.

Atheists brought their own seasonal message to Olympia on Monday, saying the religious beliefs that underpin the holidays are superstitions that lead to conflict.

“We can’t solve the world’s problems by getting rid of religion, but it would go a long way,” said Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The sign his group erected in the Capitol rotunda is the second such capitol display in the nation, he said. The other is in Madison, Wis., where the foundation is based.

The sign says there is no god or heaven, only the natural world. It also criticizes religion, saying it “hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Isn’t that funny? You talk about how religion motivates people to do nice things, like donate to charity, offer a home to those who need one, put food in the bellies of poor people who wouldn’t be able to come by it any other way — you have to put in a disclaimer that not all atheists are dicks. And true, some aren’t. But the point is, you have to have that disclaimer. Even on a blog.

On the other hand, if you want to talk about religious people being a bunch of nose-picking rubes, you can just leave it at that. Even under a state’s capitol dome.

A depiction of the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity, also was installed Monday just a few feet from the foundation’s sign. And workers set up a 30-foot noble fir tree that will be decorated and lit in a public ceremony Friday.

Those other displays might lead some to think that Washington is a Christian institution, Barker said. “Us being here underscores this is not a Christian state. It’s a secular state, where Christians are welcome.”

Based on what, Mr. Barker? And what’s your definition of “welcome”?

Let me see if I can paraphrase this for you…

“Welcome to our proud, secular state, you hard-hearted, enslaved-minded Christians with your religion that hardens your hearts and enslaves your minds. Please accept this liberty to indulge your pea-brained religion within our secular borders, as a gift, to you, from us, your more big-hearded large-minded secular overlords.”

Like that?

Lois Walker of Shelton, who died last month, requested the foundation sign after a local real estate agent set up the nativity for the first time last year.

That nativity was inspired by the installation of a menorah, symbolizing the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, in December 2006. There is no menorah display this year.

“I’m not very fond of all the competition to set up religious displays on state property,” said Bette Chambers of Lacey, who attended Monday’s dedication.

Bette Chambers is the only one so far, in this fracas, with whom I agree. This is sick.

A member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, she pointed to the recent terrorist attacks in India, which Indian authorities believe were carried out by Islamist extremists.

“Religion is fine, as long as it’s not too fiercely believed in,” Chambers said.

Oh, scratch that. The woman’s a coward. What else would you call it…she cites violence committed by crazed Islamic extremist thugs, and uses it to put a damper on this other religion, the one that has something to do with that guy who was nailed to a tree. The religion of people she knows won’t come after her and cut off her head.

The nearby nativity was installed without fanfare early Monday, with a sign explaining that the birth of Jesus, believed to be the son of God by Christians, is celebrated around the world.

The tree is a project of the Association of Washington Businesses. Originally called a Christmas tree, the group named it the “Capitol Holiday Kids Tree” to be more inclusive of non-Christian families, according to executive director Don Brunell.

People in northern countries long have recognized the shortest day of the year — Dec. 21 this year — with festivals, said Barker of the foundation. “We nonbelievers are happy to welcome Christians to the celebration of this time of year.”

The group also set up a billboard in downtown Olympia reading “Reason’s Greetings.”

Aren’t we forgetting something?

If this hostile, snotty atheist message is to be allowed into the capitol, so that Christians can have their faith ridiculed just a few paces away from where this “capitol holiday kids’ tree” is to be erected, and the concern is some sort of fairness-doctrine equal-time, why…that must mean atheism is a religion.

Now, waitaminnit. That isn’t true of the decent atheists I know. The ones that aren’t dicks. They just want to be included-out of something. They’re simply looking in from the outside at a vision of the cosmos, with which they choose not to participate because that isn’t how they see it.

You know the old cliche — atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.

According to that, we have nothing to worry about a secular “religion” being enshrined as the official state creed. Because it isn’t one. It’s an opting-out.

Well if that’s the case, there would be no need for equal-time or rebuttal, because there would be no religion demanding this equal-time. You can opt out of the Christian religion or any other religion; you can, just as easily, opt out of staring at these displays in the capitol.

So a truly secular form of atheism has no need for equal representation, equal expression, or anything of the like. It need not concern itself for how the li’l darlings of the next generation are indoctrinated or are not indoctrinated.

It could use reason to convince the next generation of how true it is. Or not. It could remain blithely unconcerned about who does or does not believe in it. It isn’t a religion, after all.

Unless it is.

I’m not sure which one is the case. Seems to me the folks who are responsible for putting up this sign — aside from being just plain nasty — are trying to have their cake and eat it too. If it’s all about reason and not religion, there’s no need to put up such a sign; nothing to be gained from it. In fact, I would add, no legitimate beef for insisting upon it. If it is a religion, on the other hand, then it’s a matter of great concern that one of its bishops is insisting that Washington State belongs to his order. How many Washington State citizens had no idea of such a thing? Beware, Washington State people, there’s a bunch of religious zealots trying to put you under the iron fist of a theocracy!

Also, if this kind of atheism is an actual religion, and we’re taking these extreme measures to ensure fairness across all these different religions, shouldn’t it be evaluated like any other? What if the Christians, instead of simply putting up their holiday tree, put up a sign criticizing all the things that are wrong with Judaism? Oh wait, I got another one! What if the Christians and Jews got together and put up a sign that said “all Muslims aren’t terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims”?

What that be of the proper civility and decorum to put in a state capitol? Would that lay the groundwork for everyone to get along with everybody else?

Because this atheist-sign seems, to me, to be on par with that. There’s not too much difference between saying the other-guy’s-religion can motivate you to become a terrorist, versus saying it’ll motivate you to have a small heart or a weak mind.

I think we’ve got a “Joshua” situation here: A strange game, it seems the only way to win is not to play. Or more like a Momma situation. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

You know, I think if we apply that standard equally across all these “religions,” we just might possibly have a happy “holiday.”

Merry Christmas.

Annoying Toys

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

I was conducting negotiations with “Kidzmom” about Christmas gifts and someone (no need to ponder who, too long, if you’ve been reading these pages) brought up the point that the people who produce toys seem to be hunkered down in an undeclared war with the people who produce the kids who produce the demand for those toys. This someone could not help noticing that as the grown-ups selecting the toy-gifts labored longer and harder to avoid the December 24 frowny-faces as the gifts were opened, the laboring seemed to come longer and harder still. The tech specs seemed to become more and more picky. Fine-grained. Deceptive. Failure migrated from the realm of the possible, to the likely, bordering on unavoidable. It began to feel like fighting someone.

When I was the rug-rat, it was just batteries not being included. Now it’s memory cards. And more. Packages that include these-or-those vital things, given names identical to corresponding packages that aren’t supposed to have them (even though you need them).

Most aggravating of all is the movie tie-in toy that has had the bejeezus marketed out of it, to such a degree that your adorable little yard ape, along with the others, is convinced that this is His Reason For Being. And the more you look into it, knowing your child’s personality, you know it’s going to end up at the bottom of the toy basket covered by a thick layer of dust. Even the damn thing costs four hundred bucks. When it’s all over, the parents will be blamed for Christmas becoming anti-Christian and overly-materialistic — well, yes, it is the parents’ fault. It’s the parents’ fault for being negligent. But what about those who are wilfully fooling them?

Are they really in the fun business? You know, I’m so glad it hasn’t happened around here…too often…but I think when the cherub is expecting X on Christmas Eve, and he opens the coveted present and pulls out Y instead of X — it ain’t that fun. From where arises this impressive effort to try to make it happen?

Well, Dr. Helen has found something I don’t think anybody, anywhere, is going to be expecting. And woe be unto you if it ends up in your abode.

How much must you hate the parents of the kid that you give this to? I can’t imagine how annoying and loud this thing must be. Nothing like a loud megaphone, flashing lights and a working fire hose to bring tranquility to the house.

Now, you just stop. I know what you’re thinking. And that parent, whoever she is, was not that mean to you.

D’JEver Notice? XVIII

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

It is said that the truth has a well-known liberal bias. I agree with this. At least, within the provision that seems to be accepted all-too-quickly by the feeble-minded about truth, that it is nothing more than an aggregate of whatever is spoken most forcefully and most often.

Consider for a moment what the “truth” says about liberal democrats, when they get their own asses handed to them in an election. Do you hear a great deal about how they need to move their positions closer to the center, drop the most fringe-kook beliefs from their platform? I didn’t hear about that in 1988, or 1994, or 2000 or 2004. No, I hear, instead, of the need to find a new and better spokesman. The need to “repackage.” To make things “more easily understood.”

Reassemble?That is not what we’re hearing now, when it is the conservatives and Republicans who got their own butt cheeks extended to them upon a silver platter. Now, things are different. No need to repackage anything; it is the contents within that have to be filtered out, organized, purified…purged.

This difference is all the more bizarre when one considers the extreme imbalance within the wreckage of landscape that is our legislation — on the national level, as well as within several states. Quoth Randall Hoven in the American Thinker (Hat tip to Phil):

The most obvious point to me is that it is the do-gooding liberals who are telling us all what we can and can’t do. The religious right usually just wants to be left alone, either to home school, pray in public or not get their children vaccinated with who-knows-what. Inasmuch as the “religious right” wants some things outlawed, they have failed miserably for at least the last 50 years. Abortion, sodomy, and pornography are now all Constitutional rights. However, praying in public school is outlawed, based on that same Constitution.

Just think for a moment about the things you are actually forced to do or are prevented from doing. Seat belts. Motorcycle helmets. Bicycle helmets. Smoking. Gun purchase and ownership restrictions. Mandatory vaccines for your children. Car emissions inspections. Campaign ad and contribution restrictions. Saying a prayer at a public school graduation or football game. Trash separation and recycling. Keeping the money you earned. Gas tax. Telephone tax. Income tax. FICA withholding. Fill in this form. Provide ID.

For the most part, the list just cited is post-1960. Neither Pat Robertson nor James Dobson ever forced any of that on us.

I can get pornography right at my keyboard, or drive a mile and get all the sex toys I can fit into my car. I can walk to the nearest casino to gamble (but can no longer smoke there). I do need to travel to Nevada for a legal prostitute. If my teenage daughters had wanted abortions, they could have had them free and without even notifying me. (However, had they taken Advil to school, we’d all be in trouble.)

This is reason number…I lost count…of why I’m convinced His Holiness’ Administration is going to be a serious disappointment for everyone, not the least for those who supported Him most ardently. The foundation upon which His ideas are built, is a philosophy that conservatism has bogged us down too much with “lost freedoms” and an injured economy, and we need His Divine Eminence to bring about “change.” Now, read the above paragraphs again. A change from that means what, exactly? The iPresident Man-God is going to bring this about?

Have you ever taken a minute or two to indulge in a fantasy that is the opposite of what’s jotted down above…to entertain what, exactly, would be different about our nation’s political landscape if the country really was in imminent danger of being placed under the iron fist of a theocracy? The way I figure it, the very first thing that would have to happen, would be some kind of a white-hot blistering inter-creed feud. We would have to figure out, don’t you see, which religion was going to be enshrined as our official state faith once the shredding of the First Amendment was finished and the revolution declared a success. Who is it to be? Methodists? Pentacostals? Baptists? The Catholics do not seem to be that interested, nor is anyone terribly worried about them, so it must be something Protestant.

We haven’t even seen the question raised, let alone anyone try to answer it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think overall paranoia can be a good thing. As Andrew Grove said, “only the paranoid survive.” But for paranoia to be beneficial, it has to be somewhat aligned with…truth. And I don’t mean, by that, the feeble-mind’s version of truth. I mean truth as it measurably exists.

And so far, as Hoven points out, Dr. James Dobson and all the rest of ’em haven’t stopped me from doing a damn thing. That’s the truth.

Update: Image swiped from Space Invaders, via Gerard.


Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about narratives lately. By that I mean, descriptions of events that are pieced together toward the objective of surviving, and traveling far and wide, rather than for the purpose of promoting good decisions.

There is a reason I’ve been thinking about them, and on this reason I’d rather remain somewhat slithery and vague for the time being. My old “friend” from work, the one who likes to talk about politics a lot but has shown a consistent tendency to descend into conflict with people — and it’s always someone else’s fault. Yeah, he’s an Obamaton.

I’d rather talk less about him, and more about who, and what, he represents. This should be do-able because this type of person is commonplace. They don’t want to be negative people, I don’t think. Conflict follows them around because they lack the tools to deal with the conversations they want to have. They want to talk about their truisms, their narratives…global warming will kill us all, Obama is a smarty-pants and will fix everything, George W. Bush is a war criminal and a dummy. Conflict will follow them around because if they persist in having these conversations with people who see things the same way, they’re going to get bored. It isn’t that they want to argue. It’s that they want ideas to be exchanged. If you think George W. Bush is stupid, and I think Bush is stupid, ideas won’t be exchanged because there’s no reason to explore anything.

So they gravitate outward.

And they bump into people like me…who don’t want to do a lot of arguing either. But we live in a different world, one in which each conclusion possesses an attribute of likelihood. In our world, if we are to conclude something is so, then the requirements change for the underlying justification based on whether we’re concluding the thing is probably so, versus whether we’re concluding the thing might be so. And if you’re arguing that the thing must be so, then the rules change yet again. You say this guy, whom I’ve never met and am never going to meet, who is President of the United States when I’m not, and has fooled me along with everyone else with his phony election…is a big dummy? Are you saying that’s probably true or are you saying that’s possibly true? And what of Obama rescuing us? Solving all our problems? To the satisfaction of whom?

People who argue by narrative don’t think this way. “Obama is the Real Deal,” to them, is an idea that has come to maturity just as much as any other…because it is ready to travel. To endure, to propagate. It need not prove anything, and it need not rest on evidence of anything.

Someday, I must find a way to deal with these people. Ignoring them doesn’t work. Agreeing with everything they say, doesn’t work. Changing the subject doesn’t work.

I’ve told the story before, of this popular narrative that emerged a year and a half ago that this was a racist country that would never elect a black man as President…I ended up in trouble when it was discovered I was leaving this narrative in my “holding area,” waiting for solid evidence of it, refusing to give it the benefit of the doubt. I was inexperienced in matters dealing with our racial-relations problems, was the new narrative — and there is some truth in that. But whatever. In the end, it turned out I was correct not giving the benefit-of-doubt to that other narrative. It wasn’t true, and it probably hasn’t been true for a very long time.

But it has been a very popular thing to say.

That’s the trouble with thinking by narrative. You can certainly say, they are already being subjected to a meritocracy in the theater of ideas, for they would not proliferate if there was not some truth to them. That’s the weakness: Some truth.

This battle for survival is not sufficiently taxing, for the emerging victors to show a pattern of verity. To survive and spread, the narrative doesn’t have to be provably true, demonstrably true, probably true…not even conceivably true. The appearance of truth will be quite sufficient. It’s all based on the other fellow, that stranger over there — how ready is he going to be to hear it. That’s the lodestar.

Quite a lead-in for this film clip Rick found at the “Jack Lewis” site. And this film clip is quite a morsel of ugliness, some three minutes’ worth, to get to the end, in which the dimwit anchor says something that twisted Rick off pretty good, and rightly so in my opinion:

Those last three words: “On both sides.”

You tool. You stupid tool. Yes, I mean that as the insult. I find it fitting in your case.

Maybe there was something earlier in this newscast substantiating that there was an equal measure of hate and nastiness on the “Yes On Prop 8” side. Maybe. I don’t give a rip. This is arguing by narrative. This is what I’m talking about. It’s “Who ya gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes” stuff.

It has become such a convenient narrative that religious folks are bigoted and intolerant. Too many people don’t care if it’s true or not. They’re meeting people by spewing this tired trope, making friends, and that’s all that matters to them.

But I end up in conflict with them, the same way I ended up in conflict when I voiced my doubts that racism was still capable of swaying a presidential election. I doubt it. I doubt religious people are inherently nasty, I doubt they are statistically nasty, I doubt they’re even motivated in that direction more than the average bear.

Spare me your anecdotes. I’m sure you have one or two. But it speaks volumes that when the time comes to support the argument, the most popular anecdote is something called “The Crusades,” and the second most popular is something called “The Inquisition.”

I’m not supposed to think anything of Obama’s America-hating asshole friends, because some of the stuff that went down occurred “When He Was Eight” — well here’s a news flash. During the crusades, Barack Obama wasn’t eight yet — so why in the hell does anyone bother to talk about ’em?

And so this chestnut that religious people are intolerant, is being stored, by me, in that holding area. I’m still waiting to be convinced of it. That, right there, is enough to get some people spittin’ mad. It gets them mad because they’ve got this little sound bite they can trot out, and use to make new friends, nevermind if there’s truth to it or not…and when they meet someone who isn’t buying, to them it’s like they’ve met someone determined to be their enemy. I’m sure it might feel that way when you’ve become accustomed to something else.

But that just goes to show, they’re the ones generating the conflict. They make friends by twisting truth around, rather than regarding the truth as it exists. And the truth as it exists, in my experience at least, is that the religious people I’ve met have been very nice. I haven’t personally seen too many of ’em shun anyone over their sexual preferences…I’ve heard quite a lot about that kind of thing, mostly with the kind of vague outlining used to relay urban legends, friend-of-a-friend stuff, like the lady with black widows making a nest in her beehive hairdo. The religious people I’ve met possess not a monopoly, but something very close to it, in helping strangers who are less well-off and expecting no payment of any kind in return.

So mister airhead anchorman, kindly take your “On Both Sides” narrative — for that is all that it is — and stick it up your rear end where it belongs, until you have something more substantial upon which to hang it.

I am tired, exceedlingly, to the point of digust, of watching people attacked and ridiculed for their creed, within the borders of a nation that was founded expressly to provide shelter from exactly that. And supposedly, more often than not, in the name of tolerance. Cut me a megaton crystal-cadillac break.

Prayer, God and War

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Via Gerard.

Christians Suck

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

I’ve come to a conclusion about people like this.

Why Christians S**k
Jesus might have harsh words for Christians today. Here’s why…and what you can do about it.
By Tom Davis

Each Sunday, millions of Christians in America gather to worship the God who commands us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” We belt out praises to the God who tells us that “pure and undefiled religion is caring for widows and orphans in their distress.” We kneel in pious prayer before the Almighty God of the universe who describes Himself as loving, gracious, merciful, and generous.

Then, we walk out the back door of the church, step into a world in need, and proceed to withhold the love, grace, and mercy that’s extended to us.

We might as well give God the middle finger. Outside of a tiny minority of Christians, we have become a self-centered group of priggish snobs.

In short, we s**k.
Here are the facts:

Eighty-five percent of young people outside the church who have had connection to Christians believe present-day Christianity is hypocritical. Inside the church, forty-seven percent of young people believe the same thing.

And why wouldn’t they? We’re pretty stingy with our money:

– 80 percent of the world’s evangelical wealth is in North America.
– Giving by churchgoers was higher during the Great Depression than it is today.
– Christians give an average of $13.31/week to their local church.
– Only 9 percent of “born-again” adults reported tithing in 2004.

My conclusion is, they are projecting psychologically.

I do not mean by that to say they are hypocrites, failing to tithe and then accusing others of failing to tithe. What I mean is, I think they’ve missed the point. I think they are, at heart, nasty people. They do not care about the poor people being helped, quite so much as the people donating, losing their solvency. Pain is the point of the exercise, in other words.

You know what some jaundiced observers say about the police and the sheriff and the mall cop: Some people have a desire to beat up other people, and for them a natural career path is to become a policeman, sheriff’s deputy or mall cop. They say, you round up a hundred policemen, sheriff’s deputies or mall cops, and you’ll find ten or fifteen of these bullies…maybe twenty…maybe fifty. A greater concentration of bullies than you’ll find in the surrounding population. The bullies just naturally gravitate to that line of work, is the point.

I don’t know if that’s true. But I suspect Christianity is going through the same problem.

Donating to help those in need, to me, is a private affair. I think that’s what it is supposed to be, for everyone. Well, smacking the knuckles of people who have not donated as much as you think they should’ve, every time I’ve seen it happen, is a very public affair. I’ve never come to be aware of it happening without someone taking extraordinary steps to be sure I’d come to be aware of it. And as far as that goes, I’ve never seen anyone lecture someone about it while knowing a great deal of what they were talking about. It’s just assumed — you didn’t donate enough. Shame on you!


Tithe bullies.

Maybe they think, if they dish out this lecturing it’ll be for the better, because people will feel guilty and start hauling some real coin down to the local church. That may be so, but wouldn’t it be more effective to show up in church, with someone who needs those donations, or visual facsimile thereof? To say a few words about where the money is going and why it is so badly needed? And then, respectfully, leave each worshiper to make up his or her own mind about what to do with the wallets and purses?

Plus, in that scenario, you’d be knowing so much more about what you’re talking about. That’s always a good thing, isn’t it?

I think these people just want to scold. I never hear them offer a carrot alongside the stick; I never hear them say something like “I would think happy thoughts of my fellow Christian if he were to tithe X percent of his income.” It’s always about what falls short. What’s inadequate. What’s unsatisfactory.

They’re always there to talk smack.

After a time, I have to conclude that must be the point to the exercise. Besides, they put so much effort into being seen dishing out these lectures. I have not yet seen one written anonymously, and I don’t think I ever will. So let the record indicate Tom Davis thinks we suck.

Noted, Mr. Davis.

H/T: Mike Todd.

George Carlin R.I.P.

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

As a South Park Republican I’m divided about the departure of Mr. Carlin. I kind of see it Sister Toldjah‘s way, and I kind of see it Locomotive Breath‘s way.

I lean a little bit in the direction of LB, because in the end, ingratitude makes me sick. Carlin did very well in his country, and it wouldn’t have killed him to save a few kind words about it.

He was pretty sure Obama would get assassinated. He made the mistake of saying so out loud, but being a lefty, he got away with it. Of course. Like most atheists who brag about being atheists, the man had a lot of faith about things he never would’ve been able to prove if he tried to.

On the plus side, this routine stands out in my head as one of the funniest things I saw in my childhood. Mister Carlin, if I were Our Father Who Art In Heaven, I’d say this is just enough to topple you into the pearly gates. But, of course, I’m not Him and that’s not up to me. Hope you’re doing alright.

Guns and God? Hell, Yes

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008


The Pornography of Barbarism

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Rick brings to our attention a lamentation from The Doctor, which seems to conclude that we have either lost our way or we are perilously close to doing so.

There was, at the first, the video: a teenage girl, lured into a trap, then brutally beaten by six other girls her age for thirty minutes continually, carefully recorded on video for upload to YouTube.

Then came the Yale “artist” who repeatedly impregnated herself by artificial insemination, then aborted the fetus with drugs, carefully saving the results for display wrapped in plastic and Vaseline for her senior art exhibit.

Then this morning, in the local paper: a man — a school bus driver — convicted for sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl left alone on his bus.

One could multiply such incidents, ad nauseum, on almost any given day, in any part of the world — beheadings and genocide, ghoulish scenes of body parts and bloodied walls from yet another heroic martyr seeking virgins through hyperviolence. Yet these events, small on such a savage scale, in some way troubled me more than most.

One wants to rail at a society gone mad, at a civilization which has lost its bearings and moral compass, at a decadence fed by materialism and secularism, force-fed with the rotgut wine of postmodern relativism, drunk with the notion that ideas have no consequence and idols worshiped bring no destruction.

Yet the time for such anguished mourning seems long past, its passing but a point in a pitiful past history. We have, it seems, entered the post-human age.

The Doctor went on to talk about the “consensus among the civilized that certain behavior and unrestrained license threaten [civilization’s] very existence” that is the real mortar holding together the bricks of our society, much more responsible for our continuing survival than any fighting force.

One thing I notice is that this wandering into such dark territory, seems to coincide not with so much a relaxation of classical standards of decency, as with a sudden ratcheting-up of new ones. As I said over at Rick’s place, “Our ability to blow the whistle & call shenanigans on each other, is just as robust and sensitive as it as ever been. What we’ve lost is the willingness to do it out of a sense of decency.” Not s’poseda have a gun in your home. Not s’poseda flush the Koran. Not s’poseda eat meat, pray in school, wear a flag lapel pin, support the Boy Scouts, call out the race of someone running from the police, invade nations pre-emptively…et cetera. And then there are all the quotas. Can’t emit more than so-many tons of carbon, can’t hire more than X percent straight-white-guys, can’t pay less than Z dollars per hour.

I notice with the global warming, the central thesis to it is that if you read the data the right way, you can plot a graph across certain segments of time in which “global temperature” is shown to reach a sharp upswing in recent years. It’s that sharp upswing that scares us. We see the line zipping upward like a bottle rocket at the right side of the graph, representing the present or the point of time closest to the present, and we think zowee! Something bad must be about to happen! That something bad really is about to happen, is perhaps the most weakly asserted portion of this “science” of global warming because it doesn’t have to be very strong. Our minds supply us with a psychological tendency to fill that part in…triggered by the bottle-rocket upswing at the right side of the graph.

It’s odd that we don’t do this with phony rules. The rules some faceless aristocrat pulled out of his arse — rules that exist more to service an elitist layer among us, than to reflect any lessons learned from any decent survey of history. Because who among us, with an adequate command of history, can deny that a graphing of phony-rules would fail to display the bottle-rocket curve on the right side of such a graph?

Jehovah is out; Gaea is in. Abandonment of rules is not the problem. We’re rapping each other across the knuckles left & right, day in and day out. We’re just cranking out the rules in service of a false deity. The rules multiplying so rapidly of late, don’t have anything to do with treating each other in a neighborly way. They just have to do with fanciful theories about what might & might not bring harm to certain segments of our society to whom we’re supposed to be especially sensitive, or to the “environment” itself.

Humanity, in a generic sense — as in, the sense of defining a species of which all of us humans are a part, regardless of our birth nation, skin color, sex, or political leanings — is the last beneficiary of the rules we make today. We are much quicker to crank out one more rule in service of this chunk of it, or that one. And then we use the word “environment” to refer to some more of those rules, because it rankles us to admit this-or-that rule is not intended to help anyone.

So it stands to reason…we are becoming less decent, at the same time we are becoming less free.

Thing I Know #196. Real freedom is actually pretty boring. It has very little to do with noteworthy events, save for the one event marking its arrival. When classes of people take turns, over time, enjoying special privileges, not one man among them enjoys genuine freedom.

Why We Have Faith

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Via Boortz: University of Oxford researchers will spend nearly $4 million to study why mankind embraces God.

The grant to the Ian Ramsey Center for Science and Religion will bring anthropologists, theologians, philosophers and other academics together for three years to study whether belief in a divine being is a basic part of mankind’s makeup.

“There are a lot of issues. What is it that is innate in human nature to believe in God, whether it is gods or something superhuman or supernatural?” said Roger Trigg, acting director of the center.

Four large, huh? I wonder how much of that goes to the guy who simply thought of doing this. Five percent?

Because at 200k a pop, seems to me what follows are bullets flowing from solid gold keystrokes.

Why do people take the words “increase in minimum wage” literally, when with just a little tiny bit of thinking they could see what really happens is that jobs are outlawed unless the jobs meet a specific criteria. It’s easy to explain how nice folks could fall for this once or twice. How does it continue to happen for the better part of a century?

Why do people like to do things lots of other people are doing at the same time those other people are doing them, even when, because so many other people are doing them, the activity becomes an exercise in misery and little more? We do we have this inclination to believe orbiting endlessly around a sweltering parking lot at the state fair or a rock concert searching for a parking spot in vain, will be “fun,” and driving out to a deserted beach watching a sunset in solitude, won’t be?

How come a young available lady is so attracted to bad boys and rebels, and once she manages to snag one of ’em, works so hard to get him to be just like everybody else, eventually hittin’-the-road if he doesn’t shape up?

We were kids. We had chores. If we mouthed off we got a smack across the mouth, and if we kept doing it we got spanked. Kids today don’t have as many chores and you can’t spank ’em. We all know this. So when they can’t pay attention to a goddamned thing, how come we’re so quick to rivet them into the “autistic spectrum”?

Why do people want stoicism and cool-headedness in their presidents, and pulse-pounding excitement and charisma from the people who are looking to become the next president?

More from whence those came. Much more. And I have the answers to some of them…that doesn’t mean the questions aren’t fertile grounds for study, and they’re worth at least as much grant money as the faith thing.

The faith thing actually seems pretty easy to me. I think the egghead strayed pretty close to the truth when he said,

“One implication that comes from this is that religion is the default position, and atheism is perhaps more in need of explanation,” he said.

It all comes from appreciating things. If/when we do something required for our survival, like planting and harvesting a crop, there’s an understandable impulse to look back and contemplate what was done. Why on earth wouldn’t there be? You’ll probably have to do it again. And when you do that, you have to think about the stuff that was necessary, that was already done before you got started. And to naturally be thankful for it.

So yeah, atheism is more in need of an explanation. Atheism says the reason fertile soil causes plants to grow in the ground is…process of elimination. If the plants didn’t grow in the ground, they would not be here, so if they’re here, of course they grow in the ground and we can use them to feed us. And if we couldn’t then we would not be here.

Just like the sculptor who explains that he simply starts with a block of marble and carves away everything that doesn’t look like a horse. Niiiiiice and simple…with a “you idiot” tacked on to the end, and the sculptor is explained-away.

But with the sculptor and with the deity, common sense says things aren’t quite so simple. I think the egghead’s second-thought is the right one. We need to study our atheists. I’d be particularly interested in the following conundrum: If rational, cool-headed thinking nods approvingly toward secularism, what has that to do with the last three or four years? How come atheism waited until the twenty-first century to really bask in the limelight? Wouldn’t it be more fitting if it came to popularity half a century ago, when we were launching satellites and smashing atoms? This is the age of fifty gazillion wonderful new inventions, all of which are dedicated to finding new ways to play personal music collections and carry dogs around in purses.

And this is the era in which the atheist’s view of the cosmos, is most popularly thought to be the correct one. If I were an atheist, that would be sufficient to make me seriously question my atheism. I’m glad I’m not one.

War on God

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

They aren’t even bothering with facts anymore. Tony Snow says there is a “War on God,” and our leftists just ritually denounce it as a big bunch of empty ravings as if Snow simply imagined the whole thing.

Well, Snow didn’t imagine the whole thing. We have become quite brittle and inflexible about the completeness of our secularism. Last year, for example, a valedictorian was unplugged during a graduation ceremony — for mentioning God.

Clark County School District officials and a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union say administrators followed federal law when they cut the microphone on Foothill High School valedictorian Brittany McComb as she began deviating from a pre-approved speech and reading from a version that mentioned God and contained biblical references.

“There should be no controversy here,” ACLU lawyer Allen Lichtenstein said. “It’s important for people to understand that a student was given a school-sponsored forum by a school and therefore, in essence, it was a school-sponsored speech.”

I find the ThinkProgress write-up interesting because it is sufficiently brazen to just come out and tell people what to think, with no foundation whatsoever…while accusing Tony Snow of doing exactly that. And the MSNBC write-up is interesting because it pretends something might be in violation of “federal law,” when it’s impossible to logically sustain that this is the case. That is, assuming the “federal law” is the First Amendment to the Constitution. The only specific rule of any kind mentioned by the article is a “policy” (which seems to have required that Ms. McComb be allowed to continue speaking).

To deny there is a War on God is, in my view, just plain silly. I think everyone with an attention span that exceeds any pre-existing agenda, would have to concede the word “God,” or any statement supportive of any monotheistic faith, has become a real hot-button item in any public forum whether “state-sponsored” or not. I think most of us have a lot of concerns about how distantly a non-religion-neutral thing can be related to state sponsorship, and still manage to generate this friction over church-state intermingling. Look how hard that school voucher thing was fought. You say I wanna take my kid out of public school, the district gives you a voucher for two or three thousand bucks, you use it to pay the tuition at a parochial school — oh dear oh dear, we have an establishment-clause issue. Yeah, the Supreme Court injected reason into it, and perhaps cemented it in, but why did the issue ever get that far?

Whoever is willing to be reasonable about this, would further have to concede this is a modern-day event with organized effort behind it. It’s not about original intent with regard to the Establishment Clause. Gosh & golly, if that were the case, let’s inspect Mr. “Wall of Separation” himself, Thomas Jefferson. Just dig up any of his correspondence. Choose some at random. Written while he was President, before, after, during his service as Secretary of State…anything you want. Pluck out the “Wall” letter to Nehemiah Dodge and the Danbury Baptists, if you want. See how he signs off. God, God, God, God, God, God, Heavenly Father, Father of Man, blah blah blah…this wasn’t a guy who thought we should sanitize our society, even our government sponsored society, from mention of a deity.

Nor did anyone of any importance imagine such an unyielding interpretation of the Establishent Clause for the next, oh, century and a half. The Day of Infamy speech, President Roosevelt says “with the unbounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.” [emphasis mine]

A generation later, give or take, something happened. This is undeniable. You can’t make a speech like that now. Not without a lot of bellyaching and grousing sure to follow.

If that isn’t a “War on God,” then what do you call it?

Update: Roger Simon, coming across a transcript of the Hugh Hewitt show with West Wing writer Lawrence O’Donnell as guest, makes some interesting points about this. It seems, perhaps, the War on God not only exists — but exists because it is a War of Least Resistance.

HH: Okay. And do you believe, would you say the same things about Mohammed as you just said about Joseph Smith?

LO’D: Oh, well, I’m afraid of what the…that’s where I’m really afraid. I would like to criticize Islam much more than I do publicly, but I’m afraid for my life if I do.

HH: Well, that’s candid.

LO’D: Mormons are the nicest people in the world. They’re not going to ever…

HH: So you can be bigoted towards Mormons, because they’ll just send you a strudel.

LO’D: They’ll never take a shot at me. Those other people, I’m not going to say a word about them.

HH: They’ll send you a strudel. The Mormons will bake you a cake and be nice to you.

LO’D: I agree.

HH: Lawrence O’Donnell, I appreciate your candor.

I appreciate O’Donnell’s candor too, but perhaps not in the way that Hugh meant. In fact, when I first read those statements, my mouth dropped open.

They are particularly disturbing if you compare the estimated number of Muslims in the world (1.5 billion) to the number of Mormons (12 million) and the likelihood of either group being responsible for, say, a bombing in the New York subway. Of course, O’Donnell is clearly aware of this – all too clearly. And he has decided to opt out.

This means he has opted out as well of a whole series of the most important questions of our time, such as are there moderate Muslims, can Islam be reformed, what is the relationship between religious doctrine and violence, what is jihad, what is dhimmitude, can true democracy exist under Islam, is it terminally expansionist in its ideology, can women and homosexuals achieve their rights under Sharia law, what happens when Sharia expands into Western society, etc.

Huh. And they call us chickenhawks.

Common Ground Between Atheists and Christians

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

AtheismThis is a list of ten things upon which atheists and believers agree, or on which they ought to agree. Supposedly.

I agree with every single item on the list.

Except the ones that deal in some way with my supposed fallibility, of course…since I am perfick.

And Number 9. Number 9 is pretty much crap. Well…it’s half-right, half-crap.

Atheists do so much whining lately. Not all of them, but most of them. A bunch of douchebag whiners. You can’t be much more of a big droopy pathetic whining bitch than filing lawsuits to get everything into line to comport with your personal viewpoint of the universe and just keep on filing ’em year after year after year until you get your way…like a little brother whining to his mommy about losing his stash because he landed on Park Place with a hotel on it.

But I should add, as a disclaimer, there are some cool atheists out there. Some. A few. Okay…end of disclaimer.

Oh, and Number One. I really do super-agree with Number One. Great point. One that should be remembered more often. I agree with that preamble point about people dying, even more. Nails it shut.

Man Argues About Evolution and Removes Himself From It

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Okay now this leads to, in fact I would say makes absolutely compulsory, a fascinating train of thought…

English backpacker Alexander Christian York, 33, was on Friday sentenced to a maximum of five years jail for the manslaughter of Scotsman Rudi Boa in January last year.

Mr Boa, 28, died on January 27 after being stabbed by York at the Blowering Holiday Park, near Tumut.
The Scottish couple and York, neighbours at the caravan park, were becoming friends and spent the night of January 27 drinking at the Star Hotel in Tumut.

However, towards the end of the night, an argument between York and the pair about creationism versus evolution escalated into a shouting match at the pub.

The couple, both biomedical scientists, had been arguing the case of evolution, while York had taken a more biblical view of history.

The creationist stabbed the evolutionist in a crime of passion.

Now, let’s figure out what this means based on the things we have good reasons to think. Yesterday, remember, we came across a clip by the late Dr. Carl Sagan that gave us occasion to discuss what we are and how we think things out that we want think out…inspired by an ancient experiment to calculate the size of the earth, we think what we have reason to think here. Not what we want to think, or what others want us to think. We evaluate the evidence and give it our best shot in terms of pondering what’s really going on.

So these guys are becoming fast buddies but the “molded from clay or grown from slime” argument put a fast stop to things, with a manslaughter charge. What happened?

Well, I see the Dawkins disciples are coming out of the woodwork, and the consensus among them seems to be “I checked the article to make sure it was the bible-thumper who lost his temper, and I was right. I’m not surprised.” The obvious implication is that the evolutionist guy tried to use reason and common sense, whereupon the fundamentalist zealot lost his cool, raised his voice, flung spittle around the room, and eventually pulled a sharp weapon and made a martyr out of his opposition.

Problem: I don’t have the luxury of being told by others how these things go down, and just believing it. I’ve seen them first-hand too many times.

I’ve yet to see such an exchange in which all the childish desperation, all that voice-raising and all that adrenaline, is reserved for the faithful, while a reasonable, dispassionate evolutionist tries to talk sense into him. Oh, I hear things encapsulated that way for a re-telling quite often. I’ve yet to see it.

What I see in such dialogs, is derision and plain ol’ snottiness. It emerges on the evolutionary side. It seldom fails. The evolutionist, after all, comes to his conclusion by awarding benefit-of-doubt to a certain place. He engages in the dialog not to persuade by means of reason and fact, but by means of an instruction that all others should award benefit-of-doubt the way he does. If others present fail to heed his counsel, sarcasm is about the only place he can go, from there. He can’t go anywhere else.

The problem is that he arrived at the argument with a lack of evidence, rather than with an abundance of it. God is not supported with evidence, therefore I don’t believe in Him and you shouldn’t either.

I’ve grown weary of such exchanges and have participated in, maybe, ten or twenty percent of all the ones I’ve personally seen. Of the ones I’ve seen, I’d say the phrase “sky fairy” has been used in, oh, maybe two-thirds or three-quarters of ’em. In what context — well, just take a guess. In fact, looking back over all of them, it seems to me the evolutionist understands fully at the very outset that this is a dialog in which nothing can be proven or rebuked, indeed, nothing can be logically attacked or substantiated. With the benefit of the knowledge I’ve gained by watching these exchanges, I see them as exercises in aggravation and nothing more. One-sided aggravation. Like poking a dog with a stick. Or “cat fishing” with a ball of yarn, or a laser-pen. Sorry, but to envision it as anything else, would be to forget the things I’ve seen.

And so I see these discussion, taking place in a bar, or a family kitchen, or on the Internet, as nothing more than exercises in kind of a sick game. It’s a rather simple parlor trick. The result is supposed to be that the religious zealot does more yelling and ends up looking wild-eyed and crazy. Confronted with this, some among the faithful can rise above it. Not everyone can. And so we drink a toast to the memory of the late Mister Boa. But we’ll not participate in this charade that things are proven, scrutinized, revealed or debunked in such exchanges. Nobody ever promised such a thing.

Which means — every now and then, arguing evolutionary theory with one of us wild-eyed religious zealots can end up being a deadly thing. The question with which we are left, therefore, is not how such an insane thing might have happened, but why it doesn’t happen a lot more often. After all, they’re English & Scottish. Alcohol was involved. Do the math.

Now at this point we could engage in a debate about who is more homicidal, the creationists or the evolutionists. We could go at it from that point-of-view…hauling out evidence that indicates Christians are here to protect people and anti-Christians are here to inflict harm. But a higher calling beckons so let’s instead proceed from this point according to the evolutionary theory. Because that is the mark of a well-balanced, sane mind. Being able to view things through the lens of your opposition.

Mr. Boa did some arguing about gene pools, and ended up removing himself from one. The implications are profound.

According to what we call “evolution” in 2007, micro- and macro- are necessarily intermixed because the ultimate goal is not to surmise new & interesting things about biology and zoology, but to disprove the existence of God. Therefore, all of evolutionary theory is intertwined with unified common descent. You have the one-celled creatures, and all of us vertebrates and invertebrates, warm-blooded animals and cold-blooded animals, are descended from the amoeba.

This is done by means of, every now and then, a specimen from one species or another will acquire a trait by means of random mutation. If the trait assists is the competition for food and other resources, all of which are limited, and/or with the activity of reproduction, he trait will make this specimen stronger. Presuming the trait can be inherited by the next generation, therefore, we will over time surely see the trait become more commonplace and eventually it will achieve complete saturation within that species.

On the other hand, if the trait interferes with this acquisition of finite resources or with the process of breeding, all specimens among this species sharing this trait will surely die off and the trait will be relegated to the cruel dustbin of evolutionary history.

Well, it seems Rudi Boa had a trait of arguing about evolution with creationist-types. Probably, according to track-record, using choices-of-words, mannerisms and tactics calculated to be infuriating. Mr. Boa ended up demonstrating the weakness of this trait in the process of propagation of the species.

According to evolutionary theory, therefore, we should not be seeing any more of this behavior. But…thanks to the publication of an entire miniature-library of atheist books in a relatively short time, we’re rather up to our armpits in it for the moment.

The poor Scotsman seems to have dealt a blow to modern evolutionary theory.

How to explain it? Well, one would have to conclude the process of evolution is not yet complete. One would have to further conclude that the gene pool is, therefore, still polluted. With weaker genomes, due for an appointment with Darwin’s Ghost, due to be plucked out from the shallow end, having not yet arrived for the meeting.

No, I’m not advocating violence any more than any other evolutionist guy who says the same sort of stuff. Like any good little Darwinist, all I’m calling for is the identification of weaker specimens, those unfortunates whose time in the evolutionary ecosystem is limited. You can spot them taunting the faithful with words deliberately chose to taunt and to aggravate, like the above-mentioned “sky fairy.” They drive around in cars that have Darwin-fishies on the back bumper with little feet growing out from under them.

They don’t belong here, by their own logic. They are the weaker link.

Creationist Scandals

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Panda’s Thumb has an interesting theory for which support has been gleaned from the Larry Craig mess: that scandals disproportionately afflict creationists. Into the supporting data sets waltzes Sen. Craig, who in 1989

…co-sponsored a constitutional amendment, the “Community Life Amendment,” to authorize teaching “the creation of the earth as accepted in Judeo-Christian tradition.”

I think Panda’s Thumb’s theory might have been in better shape if Sen. Craig’s name had been left unmentioned. It’s not too extravagant to suppose the Senator is innocent of the charges. True, he did plead guilty to a lesser charge, and there are other problems with the supposition — who the hell picks up toilet paper on the floor of bathroom stalls, how can you take it so calmly when a cop calls you a liar, and so forth — but it’s a little strange that so much legal hot water can be churned up out of so little evidence. This is bothersome to quite a few folks, some of whom hate Sen. Craig’s guts and think he’s guilty as hell. A prostitution sting can’t work this way. A lot of other things can’t work this way. A cop can’t bust you for fidgeting, making gestures, gesturing in manners anecdotally associated with…ripping off a stereo system out of a jeep. Pressing chewing gum against a bus seat. Jaywalking. Tearing the tag off a mattress.

And then there’s the thing loyal gentlemen Craig-haters club members refuse to discuss: Do you want to take a crap in a stall next to a cop? A cop who can’t leave his own crapper until he busts someone? Are you in control of where your feet are going and how they’re moving? Really?

So to include Sen. Craig, strikes me as a little bit of a grasping-at-straws exercise. If we’re counting scandals, and measuring them on any sort of a scientific basis, the Craig thing hardly emerges as a creme de la creme specimen, does it? No, if the Craig mess is statistically representative of any phenomenon, it is a phenomenon of people talking about things, and officials being forced to resign over those things — but not of those things actually being done.

And in this respect, Panda is quite correct. Just not in the way Panda thinks.

At this point, we have to confess to an ugly truth about religion. It is more than a belief in one or several deities. It always has been much more than that. It is a system which empowers the few to dictate behavior to many, and avoid any intra-societal debate about whether such behavior would be beneficial or not, or whether there might be alternatives. This is the stigma the secularists continue to slap on religion, and they are quite correct about this. Religion is an ancient method of keeping the riff-raff in line. This is what has kept it around for so long, at least throughout the middle ages. It’s undeniable.

Saying so doesn’t make you a godless heathen. You can admit this truism and still have a healthy belief in and respect for God. This confession has to do with the affairs of men, which is an enclave altogether separate from the dominion of God.

The thing is, though, religion works best when people struggle away in substandard lifestyles. Actually, when people have no lifestyles. This is easy to substantiate. Here we are in 2007, we have an unprecedented surge of atheism…oh, look how popular it is! Can’t swing a dead cat around without hitting an atheist, haughtily lecturing at you that the cat evolved from a ladybug, now there is no cat, and you’re such a drooling idiot if you dare to question his wisdom. Atheist book after atheist book after atheist book hits the best-seller list — there are even “A for Atheism” tee shirts. It’s a big business, one that looks more and more, ironically enough, like evangelism.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on here. People, we see fairly easily once we really start to pay attention to them and how they do things, aren’t so ready, willing and able to soar above the level of an easily-led zombie as they prefer to believe they are. They like someone else telling them what to do. They might not like the idea of it, and sometimes they’re less welcoming of it than other times. But over the long haul, they certainly can’t be counted on to nurse a viscerally-independent rebellious acrimony toward arbitrary and excessive authority.

Over the long haul, they’ll always make a place for it. For the “natural-born leader” who steps in and starts slinging around commandments…benevolent commandments, malicious ones, duplicitous ones, or just-plain poorly-thought-out ones.

And you can take it to the bank that someone will always be willing to step up and do exactly that. Blame God or blame Darwin — somehow, we have been hard-wired to live in tribes. Tribes with hierarchical command structures. Leaders…followers…neither class with a monopoly on survival-related genetic attributes, since after hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, both classes are still here. Goin’ STRONG. No end in sight. Anyone who seeks to assert leading-and-following is learned behavior, only has to hang around groups of people while they do the leading-and-following for awhile. Watch the group put someone in charge. See how much sense it makes. Repeat the experiment a few times…the “learned behavior” theory will be quietly withdrawn in sheepish disgrace. It isn’t learned behavior. It’s genetic coding.

The methodology of communication between these two classes, the “network topology,” if you will, by which the leaders tell the followers what to do — this is the only thing that changes. It changes with technology. In an agricultural society, religion just seems like a natural fit. Try living as a farmer for a year without praying. Try doing it when you have fifteen kids, fifteen kids you need in order to get enough help with the spring planting or the fall harvest. Try it when, at best, you might be able to hope for ten of those fifteen to live long enough to have kids of their own, and only five of the fifteen to live to bury you.

Just try not praying then.

Once you realize that, you realize how cowardly atheism is. There is the factual cowardice of it; it is “right,” because and only because God is an entity whose existence cannot be proven. This means atheism cannot be debunked, and since it cannot be debunked it insists on being awarded the status of “proven,” when all it has achieved is non-debunkery, and a logical assurance of everlasting non-debunkery. No further proof than that. “I must be right, for you cannot say that I am wrong,” is what it tells us.

But there is also the fair-weather cowardice. Atheism pops up to accept accolades and embraces from our society, when it can. Once the starvation and pestilence and Great Depressions and Nazis and under-electrified rural areas and racial oppression have been relegated to the dustbin of history, with the lid of the dustbin riveted and welded in place — up pops atheism! We can afford to be atheists now, although our grandparents could not have. Nevermind that, we can be atheists now, so let’s have at it.

In the end, Panda’s Thumb’s error is to associate the word “scandal” with some kind of honest and even-handed delivery of hard fact. This is why I think so little of Panda’s example, since the Craig Scandal is based on postulation and not fact.

The Thumb has accidentally proven something problematic to the theory it intends to promote; it has stuck a rake handle into it’s own bicycle spokes. Scandals, as we know them today, are not about guilt. They are about control. They are about telling the “little people” what to think and what to do…exactly the task religion was achieving for the powerful, hundreds of years ago.

This is a process that has been repeated countless times in human history, each time a new sovereign has displaced an old one through a revolution. The difference now is that the new emperor, and the former one, are harder to identify. Neither one wore a crown, neither one was an individual, but rather they were & are aggregates of individuals. But now, as in revolutions past, our new ruler has to sweep away the remnants of government wielded by the old one. This is an essential last-phase of any successful revolution — the parliament and the councils and the census-taking establishments of the displaced king, must be broken down, then rooted out, then swept away, and the residue sterilized.

That’s what the new ruler is doing now, and that’s what atheism is all about. Godless people are much easier to control. They don’t think they were put here by a Higher Power for any glorious purpose…of necessity, they must think the whole point to their existence is to eat and poop and inhale and exhale, plus whatever ancillary purpose some employer somewhere might see fit for them to do. An employer which, of further necessity, they must think of as some kind of fool, or a big meanie, or both.

This is why atheists don’t often have too many nice things to say about other people, unless those other people are also atheists. I can pretty much promise you if an atheist happens to trip across this post, he or she will prove this point nicely. Better than even odds the adjective “stupid” will be embedded somewhere in the response, and will compliment yours truly.

Anyway, that’s what scandals are now. Pretty much. They are drummed up artificially, tossed out to us like T-bone steaks to hungry tigers, at times deemed convenient to interested parties. This is not to say everyone afflicted with scandal is innocent. But we might as well admit that scandals are being used as devices, since they doubtlessly are. The scandal is a new Layer 2 network topology — it displaces religion exactly the same way Ethernet displaced Token-Ring. It is a new mechanism to keep the proles and plebes in line, now that the technology is available to sustain a communication medium that relies on rhythm, and there is a pressing need for such a medium that does what the old one did, while eschewing any notion of a deity. Demand…supply.

So I think Panda’s Thumb is right: Scandals disproportionately afflict those failing to demonstrate an inimicable attitude toward religion, failing to embrace secularism. Scandals will continue to be pointed in that direction, toward those targets. The theory is correct, just not for the reasons thought.

Thing I Know #85. As the standard of living improves, people slowly lose their need for a Supreme Being, while their need for a spiritual leader remains.

Thing I Know #175. Atheists are supposed to value their independence, and be determined to live out their lives to appeal to no one, and at the pleasure of no one. But when they’re around other atheists they don’t act like this.

On Atheism

Friday, May 25th, 2007

I’m not exactly brimming with skill when it comes to figuring out what a bunch of people are thinking. I’m usually among the last to do that within any given setting, and when I arrive at a conclusion about this I’m very often wrong. But there is a great deal of hard evidence around us, it seems to me, that atheism is popular lately. Hugely popular. Either that, or our atheists are getting much louder about their atheism. One way or t’other, the atheistic noise is hitting a crescendo.

Well, that’s quite alright with me. I’ve got a blog, which has my opinions about things written in it, and I’m certainly not about to upbraid someone else for coming to a conclusion about something and then voicing that conclusion. It’s exactly what I do. Should there somehow be an urgent need to condemn this by itself, I’ll take one step backward with everybody else, and let someone else volunteer to do the condemning. I’m unfit.

Having said that, though, I can’t help noticing something. The atheists I have seen lately, don’t behave the way I do. I may believe in God, but there are other things in which I don’t believe. Some of which I don’t discuss often at all.

Let’s come up with an example…the lottery. The lottery, to me, is the very embodiment of issues that are 1) decided by individuals according to their personal values, and 2) relatively insignificant, insofar as the necessity they present for winning converts. In other words, if I were to recognize a compelling need to get as many people as possible to look at the lottery the way I look at the lottery — why, I would have to get cracking. Goodness gracious. What a lot of work I’d have ahead of me. Everyone I know, I daresay, plays that damned lottery.

And I do have my little monologues to deliver on such a thing. There’s not much point to them, though, because the judgment to be made from their content, is limited to things I shall or shall not do by myself. So…I have a blog with a zillion posts in it about this-or-that, and my beliefs about the lottery don’t end up anywhere in it. Not very often, anyway.

Other people want to do something different from what I would do, because they get fun out of it. I respect that. Others really and truly think this might be the one…and I don’t see much point in trying to talk sense into them. When the office collects for the pool on Fridays, I decline politely, and quietly. Pressed for a reason, occasionally I will make up something silly about a made-up religious denomination frowning on lotteries. Anything to be left-alone on the matter. The monologues stay under wraps, until such time as someone indicates they want to hear them. And then after I recite them, the usual outcome is I’m heckled in some good-natured roasting horseshoe arrangement.

Think of Reservoir Dogs: Mister Pink doesn’t believe in tipping. It’s like that. Except I don’t talk as loud about lotteries as Steve Buscemi does about tipping.

This is not how our atheists talk about God, I notice.

Simply put, they don’t treat it as a personal decision. They treat it as a community policy decision. I mean, the loudest ones treat it that way. Consider the case of Intelligent Design from two summers ago, when President Bush went on record to say both sides should be taught in school. Both sides, meaning…evolution, and the hated Intelligent Design.

This touched off a firestorm.

Why? I dunno.

I don’t believe in the lottery, but if someone else does, fine. If they wanna teach their little sweetums’ that no weekend is complete without the purchase of one or several lottery tickets, that’s just great. Teach them in the public schools…I’m down with that, too. It wouldn’t be in the curriculum I’d put together. But hey. Takes all kinds.

See, I just don’t like to play it. I don’t think it works out in the long term. I think it’s entertainment…people should be willing to admit that’s what it is. That is all it is.

Now if I’m right about that…and the little crumb-crunchers have been taught how to think — not what to think, but how to think — eventually, they’ll come ’round to my way of thinking. If I’m wrong, well, I’m still just on the heavy side of forty. There’s still time, maybe I’ll come ’round to theirs.

But I don’t care if, in their elementary-school years, the little curtain-climbers are given a good intellectual shove off in my direction. It doesn’t matter to me one little bit.

Our atheists, laying their naturally-selected eyeballs upon an instance they might, by some stretch, be able to call “Creationism,” see a threat. Oh horrors, the next generation might not believe as we do. They act like this is some form of genocide. Simply to allow both sides.

And then they uphold themselves as the guardians of logic, while inflicting incendiary broadside attacks upon that logic. Case in point is Jerry Coyne’s essay from that tumultuous time, The Faith That Dare Not Speak Its Name. The point to this is that Intelligent Design is simply Creationism masquerading under a different label. And as Intelligent Design went on trial subsequently, there was ironclad evidence that this is indeed the case. Someone tried to get Creationism into the classrooms, they were struck down, and they tried again by turning Creationism into Intelligent Design.

Mmmkay. So the material was rejected because it was too Judeo-Christian, so someone made it less denominationally-flavorful and gave ‘er another go. Seems sensible to me. But Coyne’s argument is essentially that these insidious forces should be silenced forever because their intent remains the same.

Okay. But with a little bit of innocent scope creep, Coyne meanders from his mainstream argument of pure paranoia, down a bunny-trail of reason and logic and relatively solid common sense. And in crafting the argument about why we should all be so enlightened as to not hear any of this, he presents a few tidbits I personally find fascinating:

Consider the eye. Creationists have long maintained that it could not have resulted from natural selection, citing a sentence from On the Origin of Species: “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” But in the next passage, invariably omitted by creationists, Darwin ingeniously answers his own objection:

Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory.

Thus our eyes did not suddenly appear as full-fledged camera eyes, but evolved from simpler eyes, having fewer components, in ancestral species. Darwin brilliantly addressed this argument by surveying existing species to see if one could find functional but less complex eyes that not only were useful, but also could be strung together into a hypothetical sequence showing how a camera eye might evolve. If this could be done – and it can – then the argument for irreducible complexity vanishes, for the eyes of existing species are obviously useful, and each step in the hypothetical sequence could thus evolve by natural selection.

See, we’ve lost track of what the argument is about, and both sides are much better off for it. It turns out — questions about how we got here, and what the evidence has to say about how we got here and how we didn’t, are all fascinating, and endlessly complicated and involved. I think Coyne has done everybody a wonderful service by inspecting, at least at a cursory level, something about which so many other authorities would just as soon keep their silence.

Well, I’d rather know about it. And if the argument is about whether the childrunz ought to be taught all this stuff or not, I’m sold. They’ll learn not only about eyeballs and nerves, they’ll learn about people. I don’t see the downside. I know Coyne wants me to see one. But he’s made a compelling, bulletproof case that President Bush was right. If the proposal were not on the table for both sides to be taught, I wouldn’t have learned this fascinating stuff.

One thing though. “If this could be done – and it can – then the argument for irreducible complexity vanishes…” This is a mishandling of logic, and it’s kind of disturbing that a University of Chicago professor would indulge in it. Although I suppose we all are human and we all have our prejudices.

Prof. Coyne, here, is transgressing against Blogger friend Phil’s Thing I Know #6: “The mere fact that plausible argument can be made does not mean that its conclusion is valid.” Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say, if Intelligent Design were an ineluctable conclusion prior to the investigation of these variations-of-eyeballs, then after such investigations, it no longer is.

That would be a clumsy wording. But it would be accurate. Prof. Coyne will have none of it, though. In his world, the argument has vanished. Should an argument be friendly to his side of things, once such an argument is shown to be plausible, this is as good as proof.

It’s simply not a healthy way to noodle things out. And in Ann Coulter’s book from a year ago, Godless, this is the chink in the Darwin armor that she exploits mercilessly throughout the final third of it.

But if a lot of people want to run around, coloring outside the lines of Phil’s Thing I Know #6, I think we can survive that. To rigidly pursue the finer rules of logic to the extent you can learn about why we’re here and how the world works, that is a completely different thing from figuring out how to put your pants on one leg at a time. Scientists should follow science. Non-scientists can do what they want.

But the other trend is mighty disturbing. People who do not believe in God…lately…have begun to apply intelligence tests to strangers. Pass-fail intelligence tests. You are a blithering idiot if you believe in the “Sky Fairies.” And if you’re a good, righteous, straight and true atheists — one must restrain onesself from tossing in “God-fearing” — then maybe you have something working between your ears.

It is a breathtakingly simple illustration of circular reasoning, with a little bit of third-grade playground name-calling thrown in. There can be no God, because everyone who believes in Him is a stupid chucklehead. And I know they are stupid chuckleheads, because they believe in God.

Based on what I’ve seen, even that summation goes beyond the “logic” atheists have been using to arrive at their atheism. I have to confess, I nurse strong doubts about logic having anything to do with it.

If I were pressed to comment on a cause for this widespread atheism, I blame video games.

I think the atheists were once children, and their childhoods were filled with Sundays. It was time to go to church, they had to put down the controller and go to church, and they just didn’t wanna. Conflict arose. And they became atheists.

That’s as complicated as it gets. I can’t prove it. But I’m convinced.

If, when video games were starting to hit their stride in the early nineties…back then, you were about thirteen years old — you are twenty-seven or twenty-eight now. This is the face of the twenty-first century atheist. He’s a grown-up child who didn’t want to hit “save” and stop playing Super Mario 64 long enough to go to church for an hour or two. And this has molded and shaped his perception of whether there is a God or not. Eyeballs and finch beaks have nothing to do with it. Coyne, preaching to his choir, might have saved himself the trouble and avoided all that hard science; they don’t care.

They want what they want when they want it. They like beer, Cheese-Whiz straight outta the can, Gears Of War, and as much sex as they can get.

Simply put, God hasn’t seen fit to show what He can bring to the table in bringing them all that stuff.

Which is perfectly okay by me. I just wish our video-game atheists would abstain from believing in God — quietly — just as I abstain from buying lottery tickets. Because if I understand the overall argument correctly…it has something to do with everyone living their lives as they see fit, without interference from others. Right?

Noonan V

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Once again, Peggy Noonan turns in something that scuttles straight toward the “Required Reading” folder:

We are scaring our children to death. Have you noticed this? And we’re doing it more and more.

Last week of course it was Cho Seung-hui, the mass murderer of Virginia Tech. The dead-faced man with the famous dead-shark eyes pointed his pistols and wielded his hammer on front pages and TV screens all over America.

What does it do to children to see that?

For 50 years in America, whenever the subject has turned to what our culture presents, the bright response has been, “You don’t like it? Change the channel.” But there is no other channel to change to, no safe place to click to. Our culture is national. The terrorizing of children is all over.

Click. Smug and menacing rappers.

Click. “This is Bauer. He’s got a nuke and he’s going to take out Los Angeles.”

Click. Rosie grabs her crotch. “Eat this.”

Click. “Every day 2,000 children are reported missing . . .”

Click. Don Imus’s face.

Click. “Eyewitnesses say the shooter then lined the students up . . .”
I would hate to be a child now.

I don’t agree with Noonan on everything, and I certainly don’t agree with it all here. I see it as part of a much larger arc. People like to scare kids nowadays — in the second half of the article, she nicely covers this — because people have noticed, when children are scared by something, they have a tendency to blow money and votes on whatever crap you’re selling when they grow up. It’s a chance to step in and perform the vital values-instilling assembly routines Mom and Dad are supposed to be performing. Scare a kid for a couple of seconds, and then let that kid go home and masticate his evening meal with Mom and Dad all week long. Make it a whole year. At the end of the year, if you ask the child what’s important to him, will he comment on something he learned at home, or on something he learned from you?

You. Of course. You scared the crap outta him.

And so our politicians, advocacy groups, 527s, and just about anyone else capable of grabbing a spot on the boob tube, have figured this out. Therein lies the motive — as for how long it’s been going on, with nobody saying boo about it, you’d have to look to the options available to people who set out to scare our kids. Those options are limitless, because our kids are easily scared. This is a problem that’s been going on even longer, and Noonan doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The expectancy our kids have out of their day-to-day security — the expectancy their parents have — is sky-freakin’-high. It was not ever thus.

Since feminism came on the scene, shamed everybody, demanded equal-pay-for-equal-work, got it, and then went searching for some other things to point out to shame everybody again…we have been raising babies. Every childhood should be less and less threatening. Except when a child isn’t scared by his childhood at home, he learns little…then he goes out into the big scary world, gets scared by something, and learns far more from whatever scared him than whatever he learned in his “harmlesss” home.

So you see, it’s very simple. When we set out to make sure our babums can go from the cradle to the graduation podium never having been jolted by anything, it’s like parking a solid-gold plated Lamborghini curbside with the keys in the ignition. Parents make sure their kids are never ever threatened, in substance or in form. As a direct consequence, parents, whether they realize it or not, teach their kids very little. Mannerisms, mostly. Things like how to answer the door with the cordless phone pressed to your ear; very little about right-and-wrong. And so it falls to the outside forces to teach the kids what is scary.

Which means, their values. It turns out there is very little different between what’s-right-and-wrong, and what-is-scary. In a secular society that becomes antagonistic toward the notion of any kind of Higher Power, this fusion between right-and-wrong and what-is-scary becomes even more solid.

As a parent, I’ve been guilty of some of Noonan’s complaints. But — and I’m sure Noonan would be receptive to this, and if she isn’t then nuts to her — this is different. I’m a parent. That’s my job. I tell my kid what I wish someone had told me, when I was a kid, about what is scary or what should be scary. I do this, or someone else does; and if someone else does, that is a usurpation.

And it’s been a uspurpation going on unopposed for generations. Look around, ask a grown-up what scares him or her. What comes out next, nine times out of ten, is a regurgitation of exactly what’s been coming out of the idiot box during the insipid morning “news” programs. The bitter irony is, post-WWII, we’ve been struggling to become a scare-free society. Here it is deep into the next century, and other than the things that scare us, we think about very little except Starbuck’s and iPods. In a sense, we live to be scared from cradle to grave. And, in a society that has been laboring endlessly to be more and more sensitive…nobody cares. Noonan, here, melds her own sentiments with mine, in a delicious parting-shot. The final sentence to her essay is priceless.

So what’re you still doing here on a blog nobody reads anyway? Go!

Jesus Tomb Scholars Backtrack

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Well…back to the drawing board.

Tolerance and Intolerance

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

In early 21st-century America, we have a disturbing predilection for calling out tolerance as intolerance, and vice-versa. It seems to start when we observe someone going out of their way to announce their beliefs and values, and indulge in using the lengthier of those two intangible nouns to caption that. “Intolerance.” Of course we do that for the express purpose of smacking it down, from scolding it to proscribing it. And the irony is, that to spring in to such action provoked only by the evidence of that other person’s belief systems — and nothing else at all — is the very definition of intolerance.

Now, I’m undecided about whether this is a good example of what I’m talking about. It seems the infraction is more along the lines of intended offense, rather than the mere manifestation of personal belief; the intent certainly does appear to be there. So perhaps a better illustration can be found elsewhere.

Nevertheless, I maintain the principal of Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School is on a treacherous and slippery slope.

A Catholic school principal has organized sensitivity training for students who shouted “We love Jesus” during a basketball game against a school with Jewish students.

The word “Jew” also was painted on a gym wall behind the seats of Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School students attending the Feb. 2 game at Norfolk Academy, said Dennis W. Price, principal of the Virginia Beach school.

Price who also watched the game, said the rivals exchanged chants, “Then, at some point, our students were chanting, ‘We love Jesus.'”

“It was obviously in reference to the Jewish population of Norfolk Academy; that’s the only way you can take that,” he added.

Price said he sent a letter of apology to Norfolk. Dennis G. Manning, the academy’s headmaster, declined to comment.

Several Sullivan students met with Norfolk Academy’s cultural diversity club Thursday as part of a series of events aimed at promoting tolerance, Price said.

Thus far, I have not yet seen the trend fail: Whenever someone in a position of authority uses those four words in sequence, “aimed at promoting tolerance,” something that had previously been tolerated, no longer will be, and it is soon to be subjected to intolerance.

I think our use of these words could use a little work.

No War On Christmas, Huh? III

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

I just don’t see what’s complicated about this. I support separation of church & state, as far as what the First Amendment says; no establishment of a religion above others, and no prohibition against the free exercise thereof.

When you treat any one religion, no matter how politically-incorrect you regard that religion to be, as a filthy contaminant, that crosses the line. Religions aren’t filthy contaminants. Crosses on military gravestones, Moses on the Supreme Court building, “IN GOD WE TRUST” on our money, hey it’s all good. Some of the people who disagree with me about that, as sane as they may try to pretend to be, are whacko-nuts. And I hope people don’t forget how nutty they are. So let’s take a look at the company they keep, like, out in Bakersfield

A man used flammable liquid to light himself on fire, apparently to protest a San Joaquin Valley school district’s decision to change the names of winter and spring breaks to Christmas and Easter vacation. The man, who was not immediately identified, on Friday also set fire to a Christmas tree, an American flag and a revolutionary flag replica, said Fire Captain Garth Milam.
Beside the tree the man stood with an American flag draped around his shoulders and a red gas can over his head. Seeing the deputy, the man poured the liquid over his head. He quickly burst into flames when the fumes from the gas met the flames from the tree.
The man suffered first degree burns on his shoulders and arms, Milam said. Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy John Leyendecker said the man had a sign that read: “(expletive) the religious establishment and KHSD.”

Is it unfair to lump this deranged whackjob in with the other folks who would bleach and scrub every single somewhat-religious reference from public view? Some might say it is indeed unfair. But I don’t think so. From where I’m sitting, it all looks equally surreal.

Commit Blasphemy, Win Free Stuff

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Richard Dawkins is going to get you a free DVD and a chance to win other cool stuff if you videotape yourself blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

The comments underneath the linked post are pretty interesting. There seems to be a deep schism within the atheist community. Some don’t give a rat’s ass about Christians, and others live for the purpose of cheesing off the Christians — they’re left each arguing with the other, about how much attention to pay to the Christians.

Some atheists leave me convinced by their conduct that they should just get together, build some temples and arenas out of marble, get ahold of a bunch of lions, and get it the hell over with. It’s like — they want to be given all this credit for pursuing a “logical and reasoned” process, subordinating their cognitive pursuits to nobody…and then they end up orbiting around the Christians, like an insignificant little moon orbiting around a large planet. They wake up wondering what they can do to tick off the Christians, and if they go to bed not getting it done, they wake up the next morning wondering how to do a better job of it.

Well, look. I’m not going to sit here and type in a bunch of foolishness to the effect I know the atheists are wrong. I don’t know that. Faith is called “faith” for a reason, after all.

But if you want to deny the existence of a higher power because of your “logical and reasoned” process, and you have refused to subordinate your cognitive pursuits to outside authorities, and you truly think for yourself — if this leads you to the conclusion that God is a fairy tale, the following seems just obvious. You aren’t going to care who agrees with you and who does not. You’re supposed to be relying on your own internal sense of right, wrong, proven, unproven. That means the opinions of others, are irrelevant or mostly irrelevant. Whether you’re in good company or not, is going to be decidedly off-topic.

And you sure aren’t going to be starting any contests or giving away DVDs.

It would appear these folks, Dr. Dawkins included, have given up one religion and accepted a different one.