Tag Archives: Religion

Who the Hell Can Get Into Heaven?

Who the Hell Can Get Into Heaven?

It’s pretty interesting to see how incredibly diverse and self-contradictory these suppositions can be among the various Christian sects. The Internet, of course, gives ideas that otherwise might be almost invisible a worldwide forum, and it’s a curious thing to see that they are all purportedly drawn from the same holy text.

Now, I had my moments of Christian religiosity during all these years, but it was always within the Congregationalist church. Heaven and Hell didn’t get a lot of discussion, but it always seemed that there were a whole bunch of ways to get to the first and avoid going to the second. “Heaven” was a kind of vague concept, with the basic idea being that when you get there, it’s all good all the time. A real, honest-to-goodness eternal reward.

One of the things that got me thinking about this was a story I read once about a young man asking a wise man “who gets to go to heaven?” It started off with one person who was perfect and worthy, who would be miserable if his loved ones were suffering in hell, so they got to go, too, then how their misery at the suffering of their loved ones would also make heaven less perfect for him, so they got to go, too, until everyone was in heaven and nobody was in hell. It kind of made sense to me, and it seems to a lot of practicing Christians to be the same – but for them, it presents a dilemma.

You see, just because someone who’s guaranteed a spot in heaven loves you, you don’t get a free pass. And people who are absolutely certain that heaven exists and life is an entrance exam are just as convinced that there’s a hell, and anyone who doesn’t follow their doctrine is going there no matter what. Obviously this could cause a problem with the eternal bliss thing, but some folks have come up with the answer:

How can we enjoy heaven with loved ones in hell?
God’s Word foretells that the Lord will wipe away all tears and sorrow for Believers –that all the things of the past, sinful world will be removed in some way. We infer from this that all memories that are painful –such as knowledge that we have family and friends who are suffering eternal damnation because of their rejection of Salvation through God’s son, JesusChrist, will be totally erased in the Heavenly dimension.A primary Scripture for this Truth is the following:
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: forthe former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21: 4)

There ya go. You’ll just forget they ever existed. You won’t notice the huge gaps in your memory of life on earth (which you need to remember, because you’re called upon to give an accounting of it to god. . .) and you won’t even know hell exists. Or will you?

That quote came from Rapture Ready, a site dedicated to the idea that a chosen few will be bodily assumed into heaven and the rest of us will be brutally hacked up and mangled by none other than Jesus Christ hisself, followed by an eternity in agony. They live for this – they can’t wait for nonbelievers to get their comeuppance, and pay for their “sins”. Ironically, a couple of weeks ago, Terry James of RR said, “You unsaved folks who happen to be reading this article and think it is total nonsense, you are pure gold to this cause. Once you meet your unfortunate end, you’ll cry out 10 times louder from bowels of hell than a saved person who might be distracted by the glories of heaven.” So. . .do the blessed souls truly enjoy listening to the screams? If they do, wouldn’t they equally enjoy the screams of their loved ones? Or does the enjoyment of suffering enhance the delights of heaven only if the sufferers remain anonymous? They sound like the audience at a dogfight.

Well, that kind of chips away at the eternal bliss concept for me. If so much joy comes from the suffering of others, it doesn’t sound all that appealing. But then, along comes another idea to make things even more confusing. You see, some groups hold proselytizing (oh, excuse me – witnessing) above all else, and want to use hell as a threat not just to the unsaved, but to the folks who aren’t making their quotas. This video shows the reprehensible tactic of this particular belief group: Letter from Hell

I’m assuming that if you go to heaven and feel this awful about some kid you hung out with not hearing your “good news” and therefore going to hell, imagine the absolute soul-crushing despair of knowing that EVERYONE YOU EVER MET and didn’t witness to is burning in hell AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!!!! Can you imagine? Why in the world would you want to go to this place for all eternity? I’m just thinking about all the times I was selling movie tickets, and the line was out the door – how many thousands of people said “two adults, please”, paid, and left without telling me about Jesus? How many of them are going to be suffering because of that? Can you think of anything suckier than doing everything you can to get into heaven, only to find that it’s a neverending guilt trip?

Then again, you could always hook up with one of those sects that believes that you could do everything absolutely, perfectly right, and still miss the eternal bliss express. You don’t even have to get as extreme as Westboro Baptist Church, with a god who really, really wants everyone to just die and go to hell and leave him alone, and makes you do all this stuff just to keep you out from underfoot. There’s a passage in the Bible that pretty specifically limits who’s allowed in to heaven. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are OK with this, accepting that only 144,000 souls will get in, and it’s a crap shoot whether they’ll be one of them. However, they’re not reading the fine print: the book of Revelation states clearly that it’s 12,000 virgin men from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. I’d say that leaves pretty much most of us out, but that’s sounding better and better the more I hear. It certainly solves the problem of feeling bad about your loved ones suffering in hell, since you’ll be there, too.

Of course, if I still believed in heaven, I’d like to think that it’s the place that all good people go, regardless of their religion and/or level of devotion, and I think that’s the version that many people who attended churches like the ones I did prefer that version, too. The problem is, though, that from that most liberal, love and forgiveness view of who gets to go there, all the way to the “I’m gonna point and laugh while you burn” one, there are Biblical verses to support them. In fact, while some Christians object to the “cafeteria style” method of picking and choosing which verses to believe, it’s something even the fundamentalists and literalists have to do, because the book contradicts itself about this throughout.

So who does get to go to heaven? You’re not going to get one definitive answer from the Bible, no matter how you try. The people who are most certain about it are making it up as they go – and a lot of them are not the type of person most of us would want to be with for eternity, either. After checking around and seeing some of the answers, I think the more important question is, “Who would want to go to heaven?”

It’s good to not have to believe in this anymore. It saves a lot of time and worry. I won’t be going, and it doesn’t bother me a bit.

You Can’t Disagree with What You Don’t Understand

You Can’t Disagree with What You Don’t Understand

Here’s a little story I threw together this morning to put you in the right frame of mind. Imagine this:

Cousin Angus is visiting his U.S. relatives from Scotland. One day he tells his little American cousin Mary that she’s very twee. Being young and sensitive, she runs away in tears and tells her mother what Angus said. Mom, not knowing but wanting to soothe her daughter assures her, “oh, honey, he was just teasing you about being short. He didn’t mean anything, and besides, you’ll grow!”

In school, she tells her classmates with authority, frequently, and over many years, that in Scotland, the word for short is “twee”. As she and her classmates grow older, and learn more about the world around her, there are some who wonder, “I thought I heard that it meant cute or precious?” or “Are you sure it wasn’t an insult? I heard it meant really nauseatingly sweet,” only to be firmly assured by Mary that it means short, and that’s the end of it.

In her teens, she finally gets to go on a plane for the first time to visit Angus’ side of the family. She picks out an outfit that she thinks will make a good first impression, something with lots of plaids and pleats, a darling little hat, kneesocks with garters – kind of a Hot Topic take on the pictures she remembered from her childhood books. She touches up her hair and makeup before the plane lands, and debarks knowing she’s looking wonderful. When she’s greeted by cousin Angus, she declares, “Remember when I was little and you called me twee? Well, look at me now!”

“Oh,” he says, taking her in, “You’re still twee.”

(Needless to say, every Scot she meets tries to correct her understanding, but she goes back home convinced that they don’t even know what their own slang words mean.)

The inspiration for this came from reading statements from people in Florida who are protesting proposed school science standards that would mandate teaching evolution. None of their arguments are new, none of the statements contain any valid refutations, and each one shows that they understand science just as well as Mary understood anything about Scotland. Someone told them their assumptions were true, maybe even fed them a scripted argument, and since it reinforced what they wanted to believe anyway, they have no reason to question or (god forbid) change their minds.

Most of these egregious, deliberate redefinitions have been fed to people from the Discovery Institute into the churches, books, radio broadcasts, and internet forums and blogs of creationists, who gobble it up.

Of course, it started with the word “Theory”. In science, a Theory is an explanation of facts – how they work, how they came to be, what causes them, what they cause, etc. A Theory is not a fact because it isn’t one single thing that can be expressed in a sentence or a mathematical statement, but is a collection of many facts, formulas, observations, etc. A Theory is not a fact the way a Library isn’t a Book. However, people who haven’t been educated in science have allowed this word to be co-opted by the cdesign proponentsists as equivalent to the colloquial “theory” (small t) that means a wild stab in the dark. As soon as you hear someone describe the Theory of Evolution as “only a theory,” you know that more misunderstandings and lies will soon follow:

“To be scientifically proven, it has to be observable and no one was around 6,000 years ago. We want students exposed to all theories so they can become critical thinkers.”

This comment was made on February 11th, during a meeting about the new standards, which took place in Orlando. The speaker shows how incredibly wrong you can go just by starting with a basic lack of education and then swallowing the rest of the anti-evolution propaganda hook, line, and sinker. It has allowed people to simply accept that Intelligent Design, or whatever flavor of creationism they favor, to qualify as a Theory, once it’s been redefined as a theory.

The success of this linguistic sneak attack has led to more of the same. People who have found their assertions of biblical truth torn apart by scientific facts are appropriating the language of those facts and repurposing them for their own ends.

For example, take “random mutation”. What it’s like is a random number generator that’s told to pick a two-digit number. Well, all the numbers from 00 to 99 are there, all the program does is pick one of them. In biology, there’s a limited set of mutations, determined by species, parental genetics, dominance or recessiveness of traits, environmental factors during development, and so on. In arguments against evolutionary theory, though, it means that a fish could turn into a bird, or cows could develop wings. To a scientist, “random” means not predetermined. To an antievolutionist, it means something that comes completely out of left field.

The worst, in my mind, is the recent interpretation of “peer review” by the Discovery Institute. Defenders of the “Theory” of Intelligent Design have consistently been criticized for their lack of documented, peer-reviewed research. (Any research at all, really.) To circumvent this, they’ve assembled a group of like-minded thinkers to approve of their books and papers, and called it peer review. With that kind of peer review, you could go into a bar in Massachusetts, buy everyone a few rounds, and have a peer-reviewed opinion that the Patriots really won the Super Bowl this year, someone just tinkered with the TV broadcast.

There are many, many examples of this tactic. The credibility of all science is eroded by this linguistic attack on “Evolutionism”. Like actors long ago who sought to make themselves shine in film by surrounding themselves with a dull supporting cast, these people are trying to make their arguments valid by devaluing the truth. We could hope for the same result, that people would see through the deception, but there are so many who are accepting this without question, repeating it in public, and having their words spread by the media that it seems to lead only to more credulity. No matter how much is said to show that these statements show a lack of education and understanding, they still hold sway whenever the subject of evolution comes up. Like Mary in my little story, their minds are made up, and they won’t allow themselves to be confused by the facts.

Ooh, for some more fun reading on this, check out this editorial by Carl Hiaasen and its comments on the Florida Science Standards issue.

Holiday Display Controversies

Holiday Display Controversies

In Racine, Vernon, CT, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, atheist groups have put up their own displays alongside Christmas themed ones, and it has raised at least as much ire as the legal insistence of menorahs and kwanzaa decorations on public property.

For the most part, Christians are quite willing to share the secular part of Christmas with everyone, not bothered in the least at decorated trees, lights, santas and snowmen showing up in the most non-religious of places. Plenty of people understand that retailers are profit-motivated rather than religiously motivated when they have “holiday sales” and wish people a generic “Happy Holidays”, and don’t mind seeing some gifts, decorations, and wrapping paraphernalia that isn’t exclusively Christmas-oriented. And when courts decided that displays on public property had to be either completely secular or inclusive of all celebrations, most people understood and accepted that. The idea was that if everyone was paying the taxes on the land, the purchase price of decorations, the electricity costs, labor by public employees to erect, dismantle, maintain, and store the stuff, that it shouldn’t be exclusionary. No big deal. Nativity scenes without anything unrelated aren’t forbidden on private property or church property, after all, any more than menorahs, or Buddha statues, or pentagrams, so religion is hardly being suppressed. Really, most people are OK with it. Read the rest of this entry

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray

The recent shootings at a youth mission and its associated church by Matthew Murray got a lot of blog attention recently, much of it, of course, speculating wildly about the young man’s motivation. My take is that he was maybe a little mentally unstable, but was certainly involved in a Christian sect (Pentecostals) that says in no uncertain terms that anyone who’s an outsider is hell-bound. They have very rigid rules and a literal interpretation of the parts of the bible they like to interpret literally. His parents were also very religious, and he was homeschooled, so I would imagine that the church was the major, if not sole, source of his social life. So we have a young man who is heavily dependent on a religious organization, and who believes he will go to hell if that changes.

Then they throw him out.

It’s a perfect set-up to turn a depressed and lonely person into an angry, murderous one, I’d say. His posts in an ex-pentecostal internet forum in which he expressed his hatred of Christians (among others) was likely an anger at this particular group that grew into something that was easier to express in generalities. Plus, had he written only of his venom towards this particular organization, someone might have been able to step in and stop him. He had also been sending hate mail to Youth With a Mission since he was rejected from the missionary program.

Given the timeline, plus some understanding of how a depressed person’s mind operates, I think this is a plausible explanation. Religion could be blamed insofar as that it nurtured a dependency so obsessive in a person so needy, but not much further than that. Blame, if there is any, is spread about piecemeal among the church decision-makers who ejected him from a program to which he desperately wanted to belong (although they might have been entirely justified) but did not try to get him the help he needed; parents who allowed him to live under their roof for 26 years, but apparently didn’t know him well enough to recognize signs that he needed help; doctors or mental health organizations that might have recognized his needs and inadequately addressed them. Of course, Murray himself is ultimately responsible, but to what degree depends a lot on how affected he was by mental illness. He was sane enough to keep his plans secret, conscious enough of the source of his anger to drive to two specific places about two hours apart rather than open fire at the first convenient location. If you read some of the forum posts attributed to him, it looks very much like this was the case. Read the rest of this entry

Evolution Should be Taught!

Evolution Should be Taught!

Right now in Florida, a campaign is being started to overturn the proposal that evolution be taught in schools more comprehensively than it has been. In Texas, the director of science curriculum was dismissed, so it seems, for advocating evolution by circulating news of a lecture about evolution through e-mail. Both of these states are hotbeds for anti-evolution forces, and many people who seem to be ignorant not only of science but of Kitzmiller vs. Dover, are ready to jump at any opportunity to push religious education into public schools, even if it’s only Intelligent Design.

In trying to advocate against science and for wild stabs in the dark, most of them actually show why we need more science in public schools, and more evolutionary biology taught, not less. The fact that they can graduate from the public school system and say “It’s only a theory” shows that the schools did not adequately teach them about scientific method or even vocabulary. “There are holes in the fossil record” demonstrates that they have not learned some basic facts about geology and how fossilization occurs. “There are no transitional fossils” shows that they know little about the vast fossil record collected around the world – and should brush up on current events, too, since the discovery of tiktaalik was widely publicized, but was far from the only “transitional” creature ever found. All the arguments they make have been addressed over and over, explained by scientists and teachers, yet they persist. Clearly, a good foundation of scientific understanding was not laid during their public school years, and this must be corrected for current and future generations. Read the rest of this entry

Missed Opportunity!

Missed Opportunity!

So sad. . .

Two well-dressed young Mormon fellows came to our door this afternoon. Unfortunately, I was on my way out the door to take Audrey to band rehearsal to engage in a meaningful dialogue with them.

So I simply said to them, “You’re at the wrong house.”

I wish I had had a camera to capture the looks of confusion.

I said, “No, really. This is not the right house for you. Have a nice day.”

I’m not sure they understood, but they made a good show of it.

Atheist Morality

Atheist Morality

At one point, I had an idea to write a regularly-scheduled themed post. Say, once a week. I got as far as finishing one piece and jotting down ideas for several others. I was reminded of this when I typed the words “copy” and “paste” in the last post. . .if I wait until I have a series, or pressure myself to have a regular post output, none of these thoughts will ever see the light of day. So here’s the (ahem) first of what may or may not be a series, copy/pasted from my hidden MSWord files of doom. . .

Where Do Atheists Get Their Morality?

I honestly don’t think that most people automatically assume that a person who doesn’t worship regularly is a nihilist with no concept whatever of morality, but there are enough people on the web and in the media who do (and quite nastily, too) that it sometimes really ticks me off. I’ve been meaning to write about this many, many times, but never quite put the whole thing together. This is probably going to be the first blog post you see here that actually was composed in Word, sat around fermenting for a while, and got edits and rewrites before release. Imagine that. Forethought – from Mrs. Visceral herself.

Anyway, let me cogitate a bit. It’s such an emotional topic that it gets very jumbled. Let me start with the basic question itself.

Atheists get their morality from the exact same places as everyone else. Family. Friends. School. TV, books, radio, and movies – and the choices of and reactions to those by the people who influence our lives. By the time religion makes an actual impact on anyone, the foundation has already been laid, no matter what a fundamentalist theist would like us to believe.

Family first. From the moment we’re born, we’re watching the people around us, seeing what works to get our basic needs fulfilled, learning how important we are. Even before babies can discern features, they can recognize the people who hold them and talk to them and feed them. It takes most babies only a month to learn the power of a smile, which they learn in great part from the people who smile at them. The family teaches the child right away that if he’s hungry, needs a diaper, wants some attention, etc., he’ll need to cry a little, cry until he gets sick and screaming, maybe laugh and make silly noises. Some children won’t need to make any indications because their parents are attentive (sometimes overly so) and some will learn that it’s pointless because nothing will happen until the parent or caregiver is darned good and ready to feed or change or give attention. It seems simple, but it teaches us right from the beginning how much we’re cared for, and what we need to do to get what we want.

Once we’re starting to be able to influence the world around us through our mobility and language, the learning deepens. The older people around us – adults, siblings, more mobile or verbal children – begin teaching us every waking moment. We learn about objects. Some are “ours”, but we also are introduced to the idea of “sharing”. Some we are allowed to touch, some we are not. Things we can touch we might not be allowed to take apart or put in our mouths. We learn about people. We do something funny, and everyone laughs and pays attention to us, so we do it again and again, as long as it works. We hit, bite, or otherwise hurt someone, and we are taught in one way or another that it’s not acceptable. We’re also working on learning how other people interact with each other through observation. The beginnings of understanding that we and the others are similar are taking hold, and in play we will imitate the real-life patterns we see around us. We may see Dad hitting Mom or Brother or Sister, and hit them ourselves, only to be hit by that person and reprimanded that hitting is not good. We begin to realize that things

are a lot more complicated than we thought! The big people might reward us for doing something they want us to do, and punish us for doing things they don’t want us to do. The rewards and punishments might be the same all the time, they might be different, so we might learn that there’s only one outcome, or we might learn that some things we do are better or worse than other things. We might also learn that we can get what we want by doing something specific. One child might find that all she has to do is throw herself on the floor and scream to get attention, so she’ll skip all the weeping and whimpering she used to do to warm up to that point and go straight to the tantrum. Another might find that a consequence is enough punishment – breaking a toy means no more toy, taking too long at bedtime means no time for story. Yet another might find that the best course is to not get caught.

So before any moral lessons might be absorbed by religion, we’ve already learned how much or how little we’re valued, what actions are acceptable or not, and how to treat other people. We’ve learned about manipulating our behavior to attain the results we desire.

Now come Friends and School. They both come into the picture fairly early on, and unlike attendance at a religious institution, they’re common to almost every single child, and contain a much more insistent and frequent lesson. What I mean is that each religious institution teaches a different set of lessons, while schools will try to have a more common discipline and behavior standard. School begins before the age that children have begun to feel empathy, and at the beginning edge of their ability to understand abstract concepts. Sunday School dives right into ideas with stories that are supposed to be morality tales, but public school introduces standards of behavior by coming right out and telling students what they can do, what is expected of them, and how to treat others – the abstract concept of why comes later, and is easier to understand as it is applied to them personally rather than by example of a story that might or might not make sense. For the first time, we’re in the company of people we’ve never met, who aren’t family or family friends, who might be quite different from us, with whom we might or might not get along but have to treat respectfully anyway. Soon, these schoolmates will become friends, or not, and we will spend time with them outside of school as well as in it. We will be concerned with their opinions, their feelings toward us, our mutual enjoyment of each others’ company. Our opinions, interests, and behavior will be influenced by not only our contact with them, but our desire to please them and continue to be friends with them. Just as we learned at home and in the classroom, some behaviors are acceptable and some are not; and this classification may not be the same in each of these situations.

For example, lets take the child who learned to not get caught to avoid punishment at home. He might try to get away with the same thing at school, and have a teacher who’s just overwhelmed or inattentive enough that he can often enough or under the right circumstances. This child is learning to refine his technique of getting what he wants while appearing to behave the way he’s expected to. Another child, whose teacher creates a situation that makes this more difficult or impossible, might become resentful and overcompensate, or he might see the light and behave better for this teacher if the rewards appeal to him more than the hidden rewards he’s had to get for himself so far. A parent might be an ally in one goal or another. Arguing with the teacher and supporting the child vociferously might give the child additional satisfaction of having gotten away with it. Paying no attention reinforces the idea that it doesn’t matter, so it must be OK. Positive reinforcement at home for positive behavior at school might cause the child to abandon the sneaky behavior, if it’s the craving for attention is what had been driving it. Mix in the influence of friends to this, and the possibilities expand even further. Another child might also enjoy doing bad things and getting away with it, and the two of them will engage in this behavior together. A different friend might get angry with the child for this, whether because he opposes it or because it affects him directly, and the child may decide the friend is not important enough to change, or that the friend is valuable enough to do so. The child has learned a lesson regardless of whether he’s listened to stories or parables, and regardless of promises of eternal reward or threats of eternal damnation. No matter what religion he may be exposed to, its abstract, intangible reasons for behavior have far less impact on him than the daily personal experience of cause and effect.

Now, I don’t want to vilify the media or place too much importance on its influence, but it does come into play also, and not just the obvious way you might think. Its impact on our morality lies far more on how we’re taught to perceive it than in the medium itself. Again, from infancy, we’re watching how the people around us react. A child who is frequently held and read to or cuddled and sung to will associate reading and music with positive feelings. A child who is left alone in front of the TV will have a completely different feeling. The choices of what the child is exposed to are also important. After all, it’s the big people who pick out the books, music, TV shows, and movies. As adults, we may be able to expose ourselves to all kinds of negative ideas and images and not have them influence our behavior, but the young minds are observing and absorbing. The child who repeats words or movements from a music video that demeans women or glorifies violence won’t learn whether those things are OK or not until an adult reacts. If Mom gives him a punishment for grabbing his little friend’s behind and grinding their hips together, he’s learned that the things in the video are not necessarily things he should be emulating. If, on the other hand, he repeats the lyrics about shooting or beating or stealing, including profanity or not, and the adults laugh – maybe even tell him to show it to other people, he’s learning that it’s OK. If the adults choose to read to the child, and pick books that teach, whether it’s practical or moral lessons, the child learns that this knowledge garners a positive response from the parents. If the adults watch a movie with the child and are able to say, with knowledge, that this part is a good lesson, or this part is bad, allowing or prohibiting future viewings, it teaches the child critical thinking that’s essential to both learning and morality. When an adult exposes a child to any medium, it’s a learning opportunity. If it’s provided without comment or it’s imitated and receives a positive reaction, the child is learning that what he has seen or heard is right and acceptable. If it’s provided and shared and talked about (even at 6 months, a child can understand far more language than you’d think) then it’s a valuable lesson on both right and wrong.

The daily experience of living our lives and interacting with others forms our morality from the moment of birth. The foundations are laid and built upon by the results of our decisions, the consequences to our actions, the choices we make about what matters more to us. Are we willing to risk punishment to attain something we want? Do the needs and feelings of others mean enough to us to forgo our own wants? Is something that will take more time but last longer worth more than quick, fleeting gratification? Is an action or behavior that’s unacceptable to the larger society OK because our smaller social circle deems it so? No matter what your religion teaches you, regardless of whether or not you believe or practice a religion, your morals come from being human and experiencing life as part of a number of different societies. The atheist gets his or her morality from the same places as everyone else, Agnostic, Christian, Hindu, Wiccan, Jewish, whatever you subscribe to. We are fine-tuning it every day we’re alive, with every experience we have, with every human being with whom we interact. Every person alive begins learning morality and continues to refine his or her sense of morality merely from living, and being alive is common to all of us no matter what or how we might believe.

So before you ask the question, or accuse an atheist of having no morals, consider where your own came from right from the beginning of your life. Can you say that your family, friends, school, interests and activities, and all the significant, formative moments in your life had no hand in shaping you at all? Can you dismiss all the human love you’ve received, all the rejection, all the interactions with others that you still remember clearly even though years and years have passed, as central to the way you think and act? Unless you can completely forget your entire life before you embraced your religion, and prove that you have had no defining, memorable experiences outside of your religious life, then you’ll need to stop yourself before you ask it.

The atheist got his morals from the very places that you did.

The War on Christmas. . .again.

The War on Christmas. . .again.

Ed Brayton, at Dispatches From the Culture War, postulates:

Seems like Bill O’Reilly’s idiotic blather about the war on Christmas starts earlier every year. How about a War on Demagoguery?

I replied with a novel. I haven’t posted here in over a week. Plus, I’ve bitched about this before. Still, a copy-paste of my comment from a different blog is better than nothing. My take:

IMHO, the “War on Christmas” starts not with improper holiday greetings or fights about location or content of nativity displays. Oh, no.

The “War on Christmas” started this year in August, when K-Mart had artificial Christmas Trees on display next to the Back-to-School Supplies.

Additional troops were brought in at the mall, where Christmas Decorations gradually moved into spots vacated by sold halloween merchandise.

The Target near my house will already have Christmas music playing already, very softly and only in certain departments. As November progresses, it will gradually expand to fill the store, until Thanksgiving comes and goes, when the din will be inescapable.

The real “War on Christmas” is being waged by people who want to turn it from a one-day religious holiday to a four-month frenzy of buying. The “War on Christmas” is the brainwashing of people to make them believe they must update their themed decorations every year, and buy presents for the sake of buying presents, not because they care for the recipients or because a gift seems like the thing someone really needs or wants.

The real “War on Christmas” is the constant badgering that we must buy this, decorate with that, get something for everyone on the “list”, attend a whole slew of parties AND visit all the relatives, AND make it perfect for the kids, and still feel “goodwill towards men” after doing all that crap. Each time advertisers and retailers heap yet another demand upon us, insisting we must do or buy or give to make this a “perfect holiday season!” more of us revolt.

For some people, the financial demands are too much. Their revolt might be on a smaller scale, involving only themselves and their loved ones. They’ll simplify, cut back the “gift list”, give homemade presents, or even (GASP!) celebrate it as a religious holiday only. Their contributions to the war won’t be noticed quite so much, although they are making some impact.

For others, the demands in general have taken away any pleasure we might have had in the secular celebration, whether or not we participate in the religious one. We’re sick of it. We don’t give a damn whether you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” just wait until frickin’ December to start saying it. We know from experience that the shopping does not make the holiday happy. We know that “the perfect gift” does not make the holiday happy – nor does giving it on a specific day make it any more perfect. We know that after about the 50th time of hearing it in a week, “Joyeux Noel” doesn’t sound so joyful anymore. We’re tired of being assaulted with Christmas for such a huge part of the year, and our backs are up. So we’re scaling back, too. We’re not buying what they’re selling, in goods or ideology. We’re fighting back, and we’re not quiet about it.

And that is the real “War on Christmas”. Corporate America started it. The Public is just defending itself. O’Reilly is appealing to the attackers to stop the war, which shows what a fool he is. It won’t stop until Americans stop feeding the effort – not by insisting that the proper greeting be used, but by insisting that advertisers and TV bloviators can’t tell us what to do and how to do it.

Glad I’m Not In Oklahoma City.

Glad I’m Not In Oklahoma City.

Rex Duncan, a Representative in Oklahoma, got all pissy when he was given a copy of the Quran because it endorsed the killing of women and children. The bible he got from the Baptist General Convention, though, is something else entirely. “Mine is proudly on my desk on the Capitol and I don’t think I ever read a part of it that condones the killing of women and children in furtherance of God’s word,” Duncan said. “It’s one of the nicest things I’ve received in my three years in the Legislature.”

Hmmm. Looks like he doesn’t actually read it, doesn’t it?

Eight legislators who were offered the book by the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council refused it, but Duncan was the only one making a public statement about his refusal. He also complained that he objected “to the use of the state Centennial Seal and the state Seal all in an effort to further their (Muslims’) religion.”

This from the state that wrote legislation last year to allow placement of the ten commandments on new buildings and call it constitutional if the majority of the council says it’s OK – and to earmark $3 million to cover legal fees if anyone challenges the posting of religious stuff with public money in public buildings.

Hunk-a, Hunk-a Burning Stupid!

Hunk-a, Hunk-a Burning Stupid!

I indulged this evening in a bit of websurfing, and came across a site that really made my brain hurt. I shouldn’t have been visiting the blog that linked to it, but hey, these things happen. Anywho, the guy is identifying himself as Jewish, contributing to jewish blogs, but in reality he’s christian. I mean, he’s written all these books and calls it “Jewish Trinitarianism,” but let’s be honest – you worship christ, that’s kinda where the word “Christian” came from. He is a creationist, uses links to Answers in Genesis, but simultaneously sneers at Ken Ham’s vision of dinosaurs. He links atheism with all the other ills of the world, and uses a quote by G. K. Chesterton to sum them up (Chesterton abhorred the treatment of Jews by the Nazis, but was otherwise known for his anti-semitism, partly from frequent mentions of “the Jewish problem” in many of his writings.) He cheers the Christians who support Israel, apparently unaware that many of them do so because they believe the “End times” will begin once all the Jews are over there. He’s quite liberal with “scientists say this” and “studies prove” to support his seriously non-scientific viewpoints, like that T-Rex was a swimmer, and many of the broken rib bones in fossils came from the big guys doing belly flops. However, he provides no links or any other information that might lead you to the supposed research that supports him. Plenty of links, though, to sites that “disprove evolution” and malign non-theists, all of which spew out the same religionist pap that makes up sciency-sounding stuff that reaches exactly the conclusion you’d get if you were trying to prove the bible without actually doing any science. Oh, wait, that’s what they do. Nevermind.

He throws in some stuff about software and electronic gadgets, with his advice about what’s good and what’s not, but if his technology expertise is anything like his scientific knowledge, I’d steer clear of it. He also photoshopped a picture so you could see the UFO in it (so you know it must be true, ‘cuz photoshop doesn’t make fake pictures???) and further supports his evidence by saying that Greeks and Romans saw UFOs, too.

I’m debating here, should I link, and risk drawing his attention? Might the blog I shouldn’t have been at in the first place become aware that I’m sneaking in looks here and there? Heck, I haven’t even pasted in some of the more egregious or bizarre quotes, for fear that someone looking for a quoted passage might find both me and him on the same Google search page. Worst of all, some of you, my few but treasured readers, might find your brains or your beverages spewed all over your monitors if you clicked on the link! The horror! Only if you think you can take it – I’m willing to take the chance of being invaded if you’re willing to handle the stupid-fication.