Thursday, August 25, 2016

France: Making Secularism Look Idiotic One Moronic Law at a Time

Look, I've never held myself up as a bastion of tolerance and brotherly love.  I  have no patience for religionists who wear their foolishness as a badge of honor.  I look at Hasidim attire as patently idiotic; I don't want a waitress' "dead Jew on a stick" necklace dangling in my food at a restaurant; and I find Muslim head scarves and burkas ridiculous.

But I acknowledge that how I feel has exactly nothing to do with people's right to wear what they please as long as it doesn't interfere with my rights or exceed the bounds of good taste (i.e. wearing only an athletic supporter while teaching a class on thermodynamics in a publicly funded college would be an example).  As a secularist it's simply a matter of live and let  live ... their goofy garb not withstanding.

Evidently the French don't share this mentality.  Their laws involving religious garb or symbols have become so draconian as to actually embarrass me as an atheist / secularist.

If you haven't read about it, the police in France forced a Muslim woman to remove more of her covering at a beach than her religion and modesty permits. It's the law!  It's part of the law that also says one cannot wear yarmulkes, or any distinctive religious garb publicly that falls outside the "norm" of French culture.  It is a law so beyond the pale that when I first learned of it I thought it was an article from the satirical site The Onion.  It isn't. It's quite real. Read the whole story here.
It smacks of a bizarre reversal of what was done to the non-religious or to Jews during the Spanish inquisition:  "You damn well better start eating that pork, or we'll arrest you for being a Jew!"

What the heck has happened here?  How can a nation whose motto is  "
Liberté,  égalité,  fraternité"  speak of liberty and equality and brotherhood on one hand, while the other hand holds a baton ready to punish those less deserved of liberty or equal treatment because of what they wear?

I wonder how it got to that point. 
I wonder how much worse it will get there.
I wonder if it can happen here. 
I'm disgusted.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Product of Religious and Political Stupidity

What do you get when you combine devotion to an imaginary supernatural being, with the worship of a narcissistic sociopath, congenital liar, and purveyor of hate?  This guy.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Pew Research center reports that Evangelicals have come out strong for Donald Trump. Seventy-eight percent would vote for him for president today.  Here's a link to the story and poll data.

I'm unsurprised. Why wouldn't Evangelicals support a man who has been divorced twice; lusts after his own daughter's "figure";  is a fake Christian who misquotes biblical verse, and panders to the religiously stupid; makes fun of the disabled, is an inveterate liar, and has a wife who poses nude?

After all, Christians in general, and Evangelicals in particular are utter hypocrites. Hypocrisy is a veritable sacrament to them. Let them be damned.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Violence, Hate and Sickness in America: The Religious Answer

From time to time I go to the religion section of the Huffington Post to see what the religiously impaired are up to. Given the horror of the assassination of police in Dallas, and the brutal killings of African American civilians by police in the past few days, the religious leader take on the issue and what needs to be done about it took center stage. You can read the article here, albeit, it's hardly enlightening. 

This one comment from a pastor caught my eye: 
"Dear Lord today please protect black men who are driving, selling, walking, riding bikes, working or just breathing,” "

Naturally it really tweaked my hump to read that. Appeal to the Lord to protect black men, because if you don't beg god it doesn't know what to do? Because it has the power to do that, but was too busy over the past few days, months, years, helping some balls players win some games to intervene and stop an innocent passenger from being blown away in cold blood at 18 inches? Why not just do the old "our thoughts and prayers are with the victims" nonsense that they all spew as easily as saying "God bless you" after a sneeze and leave it at that as though that platitudinous religio-gibberish means anything.

The fact is we are a sick society. Racism, white privilege, political extremism, xenophobia, a culture that s
ees guns and violence as the answer, the means to an end, for everything - this is our nation's prevailing mentality. We have become the example of what civilization should never become; the obscenity that every other industrialized nation points to in horror.

So naturally I'll be asked "That's all well and good...but what do we do about it?" I haven't the foggiest idea. I'm not sure it's even fixable anymore, our ills having been either ignored or embraced for so long they may now be terminal. But what I do know is two things:
1) that spewing religious platitudes, praying to a make believe sky daddy , or imploring people to "hold on a little longer", as though there is a fix afoot is patently inane and less than useless. And...

2) Pogo was right: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Bible: Either Love it or Leave can't have it both ways

In a recent interview Jimmy Carter decried the use of the Bible as justification for immoral and unethical behavior. Here’s an extract:

“You can pick out individual verses throughout the Bible that show that the verse favours your particular preference, and the fact that the Catholic church, for instance, prohibits women from serving as priests or even deacons gives a kind of a permission to male people all over the world, that well, if God thinks that women are inferior, I’ll treat them as inferiors. If she’s my wife, I can abuse her with impunity, or if I’m an employer, I can pay my female employees less salary,...”

Whole interview here:

So the question becomes:  “Yeah…and? Problem?”
The fact is that the Bible, the “Good Book”, is, according to believers, the last word in how their God wants people to behave. He sets the tune, and the sheep dance to it.  How then can Jimmy decry Christians who take God and His Bible at His/It’s word and accuse them of less than Christian behavior?  How does one have the nerve to say on one hand as a Christian he embraces the bible, while on the other hand it shouldn’t actually be taken seriously, lest we behave badly?  Why doesn't he just renounce the bible, since its been justifiably used to do just that for some 1700 years?

Seems to me if he wants to continue to believe a mythical dead Jewish guy is God he can do it without holding the bible up as some bastion of morality and ethics.  Thomas Jefferson respected Jesus' [alleged] specific words, but rejected everything else in that book of supernatural foolishness and immoral horrors. Jimmy could do it too ... all Christians could do it.

My point is: those who use that book as a guideline / as a model for and justification of their behavior, as obscene and evil as it may appear in the 21st century, definition...more Christian than the one who rejects its guidelines but embraces its existence as holy.

Want people to stop using the Bible as support for their misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, and violent behavior?  Then declare it an obsolete and false doctrine. Disown it as a product of ancient ignorance and prejudice.  To condemn the actors but not their script, and its authors, is patently absurd and hypocritical.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Fear and Loathing in the US: If you’re not having a déjà vu moment, you may be part of the problem

I don’t typically scare easily. Oh sure, the occasional furry spider may startle me, but I don’t go into flash backs over it.  But coming from a Jewish back ground, and what with my parents having lost relatives in the Holocaust…I’m starting to get a funny feeling that I’ve seen this all before, and I’m scared. 

Before I go any further, I must apologize to my readers, especially those who bought my books. In them, more than once, I declared that the greatest threat to this nation is not radical Islam from without, but Christianity from within.  I may have been wrong and I’m sorry.

Perhaps I can be forgiven, because I was foolish enough to be lulled into accepting that what happened in Europe in the 1920s and through the 1930s could never happen here; that we learn from history; that we would never repeat its most heinous events; that we are better than that.  Well, it can, we didn’t, we may, and we aren’t.

Once this nation looked toward a bright future. Once our politicians, on both sides of the aisle, had high ideals and great hopes for our future.  We didn’t always accomplish those goals, those promises, but the promises were invariably predicated on hope, on growth, on advancement.  Usually only the method toward achievement divided us.  Not so anymore. 

As I hear the rhetoric of the GOP front runner, slathered with hate speech, with fear mongering, with innuendo, with encouragement to violence against those who may protest that speech a knot forms in my gut.  When I hear him espouse truncating the 1st amendment to be more to his liking and benefit I cringe. When I see the racism, scapegoating and demonizing of minorities as people coming to take American jobs while they perpetrate "rape and murder" throughout the land; or the lumping together every member of a given religion as “they all  hate us! I don’t know why...” , I know I’ve heard this somewhere before. 

When the throngs of followers, largely white, and largely less educated - are driven by that rhetoric to the point where they feel compelled even encouraged toward meting out violence and doing so with a sense of entitlement and impunity… I am seeing something I remember from old photographs and newsreels.  Only the brown shirts and the guttural speech and accents are missing. 

As I hear that would be leader, that con man, that hater and purveyor of hate- babble his circular and self aggrandizing say nothing babble, and as he directs his fanatical and mesmerized followers to pledge their allegiance to this cult of personality … a feeling of familiar dread comes over me. 

Some will say I’m exaggerating, that I’m being melodramatic, that I’m distorting this into more than it is.  They’re wrong. I’m seeing this for exactly what it is:  Fascism. To ignore it, to down play it, to say “it can never happen here” is to be in denial.  Worse, that denial makes us complicit in what could well be our future.  It’s not too horrible to contemplate… it is our duty to contemplate it now, before it’s too late.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Obituary for a Theocratic Tyrant.

Antonin Scalia represented to me the worst kind of  tyrant. His decision on the Gore V Bush election issue was obscene.  His failed attempts to overthrow Roe V Wade would have set women's reproductive rights back fifty years. His racism was verbalized more than once while on the bench.  His prejudice toward gays was blatant.

He interpreted the Constitution strictly, as "a dead document", meaning not to be interpreted in / or adapted to today's societal realities, but only by its original words in its original time period.  But his point of view, his decisions were, by my observations, equally if not even more driven by his devout Catholic beliefs.  He was just as dedicated to the dead document perspective /  literal interpretation of the law as he was to the literal interpretation of the Bible . He was theocratic. He lived in the past on virtually every social issue that came before him.  His objective was to maintain the status quo, and suppress societal growth and advancement.  If he ever decided in favor of human rights and progressive thought, it was tantamount to a blind squirrel finding a nut now and then...rare.  My guess is he bemoaned the fact that he was born too late to serve as a church appointed prosecutor during the Spanish Inquisition.   

There's my obituary for him.

    "How disrespectful! How dare you speak ill of the dead. What about his family?" 

The above is typical of the comments I received in response to comments I posted to facebook. Yes, it's disrespectful. And is intended to be. 

Why should I be respectful? Because he's dead?  Because his brain ceased to function and his heart has stopped? Because his body is in decomposition?  Why should the state of nonexistence garner respect for a person who commanded none from me in life?  I've said this before:  I'm not John Donne - every man's death does NOT diminish me, and certainly not the demise of a tyrant.

This mentality hearkens back to nonsensical religious superstition. "Do not speak ill of the dead, lest they haunt you from the grave."  Thanks. I'll take my chances.

As for his family:  I doubt any of them are on my facebook friend list, or are readers of my blog.  If they are surfing the net at the hour of their beloved's death, they have bigger issues than worrying about my words of contempt.  

No, this phony piousness for the dead that we must supposedly feign even though we despised them in life is hypocrisy... religiously inspired archaic hypocrisy.  I don't do hypocrisy. If you didn't honor him in life, but think the end of his bodily functions requires some sanctimonious false respect... take your hypocrisy elsewhere.
I'll have none of it.