Friday, September 25, 2009

Christian Idol Worship: What ARE They Thinking?

A recent story posted to Fighting Ignorance message group about the erection (and I use that term intentionally) of some hideously giant cross along some interstate in Texas caused me no small amount of irritation.

What is it with these Christians who are devoid of sensitivity? What is it that prevents their brains from processing that erecting their giant religious symbol doesn’t represent their community, state, or nation; it doesn’t appease their God; it doesn’t put food in the mouths of the poor; it doesn’t cause instant conversions; and doesn’t end divisiveness or intolerance. In fact, it actually encourages the latter.

I am forever amazed that these zealous Christians have zero empathy, are unable to put themselves in the place of non-Christians, to understand how we feel when such a symbol is imposed on us. It’s a wholly good and wonderful thing to these Christians. They can’t fathom it being anything else.

But, just imagine their outcry if a giant 110 foot Islamic Crescent, Star of David, Wiccan Totem, statue of Buddha, or effigy of Brahma were erected along an interstate … illuminated no less. To these Christians that would be just unacceptable, damn un-American no doubt. I can imagine they would be moved to hysteria, if not violence.

Beyond that, there’s this: Isn’t their love of Christ suppose to be within their “hearts?” Isn’t it enough that he “lives within” them? Do they need to be reminded who they worship, lest they forget, by the sight of a gigantic grotesque execution device, or an overblown statue of their man-god for whom no physical description exists? What is with the idolatry that these fanatics seem to be so devoted? How does it differ from the glorification of statues of Zeus, Isis, Moloch, or Baal etc., that the pagans used to view as the symbol of their deity, if not its very essence?

Then there is the cost. Hundreds of thousands even millions have been invested in these monstrosities -- and for what? For the edification of the ministers who reap the publicity to bring more sheeple to their church? To teach those godless heathens, and Jews, and Muslims, and pagan peoples a thing or two about their death cult’s symbol? To stake their claim to their religion’s superior numbers and influence? Could no better use for that money be found?

Sure, people can do what they like on private property. They want to put a “Mary on the half Shell” next to their garden gnome, fine. They want to put a manger in their front yard next to their junk car up on cinder blocks, super. They want to paint a face of their imagined man-god on the side of their doublewide, go for it. But when it comes to imposing their grandiose oversized mega gargantuan death devises and imaginary man-god on the public use a little fricken discretion and humility.

I'd wager if their Jesus existed, and came to Earth, and saw these things glorified in his name, he’d have some really ugly flashbacks… then smite those hideous monuments. But since he doesn’t exist, I hope someone does it for him.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lessons of the post Rapture pet rescue site. Who’d have thunk it?

What started out as a concept with some money making opportunity has turned out to be a remarkable educational experience.

Over the past ten weeks, since the site began, Brad and I have received two-thousand plus emails from atheists applauding Eternal Earth-Bound Pets as “genius, “brilliant,” and the funniest poke at fundies they have ever witnessed. Naturally, almost all of them want in on the action. We have demurred thus far and not taken on additional rescuers or expanded our area of coverage. One could have predicted this kind of response, but hardly in the numbers we have experienced.

Then there are the angry Christians who see this service offering one of three ways:

  • Fundie evangelicals who perceive this as an intentional ridicule of their sacred belief for which I am assured I will “burn in hell forever,” and who would no more entrust their pet to a godless atheist than they would a Korean restaurant owner. Some try their proselytizing act assuming the threat of hell would jog my intellect free from my brain.

  • Second, from non-Rapture believing Christians who are embarrassed by their Rapture believing brethren, and who assure me I will “burn in hell forever” for promulgating this misinterpretation of scripture. Sometimes their email is sprinkled with obscenities that one would think would prohibit their kissing Jesus or their Moms with their filthy mouths.

  • Third, from Christians who insist their pets will be beaming up to Jesus with them, and that my ignorance of this proves I am a “fool.” Naturally, this is inventive feel good doctrine which does not exist anywhere in scripture. But invariably they warn me I will be “burning in hell forever.”

As you can see they all share one common theme – the promise of an eternal camel BBQ in the netherworld.

But the letters that surprised me the most were from liberal moderate Christians who not only see humor in the details of the terms and conditions and contract language, but who actually congratulate us for our creativity and entrepreneurial endeavor -- going so far as to wish us luck on our business. And these aren’t just rare occurrences.

Last week I received an email from a lovely lady from Michigan, a believer whose husband happens to be a pastor. She made a suggestion about some of our contract language, and explained that she and her husband found the site very entertaining. Both hoped we were realizing some sales for our efforts. We exchanged emails, over a couple of days. I answered some questions about “belief” (or in the case of atheists the lack there of), my position of the creation of the universe, and the trials and tribulations of raising a two year old (she has one now, I had two over a quarter century ago.) She bought my book for her pastor husband today. I expect this to be the beginning of a long term pen pal relationship.

Early this week an email challenged our site’s statement that all our pet rescuers have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit in accordance with Mark 3:29. He asked me to explain exactly how I interpreted Mark 3:29 and how exactly we had blasphemed to ensure it being the “unforgivable sin” described in scripture. So, having not a lot to do other than watch bad TV, I gave him the scriptural interpretation of what made it the unforgivable sin of the Pharisees, followed by my modern day interpretation of how to blaspheme in order to make it applicable for non-Pharisee blasphemers.

He replied quickly, thanking me for my response, and congratulating me on my knowledge and interpretation of scripture. Turned out he is a retired Episcopal priest, bordering on something like agnostic. He wanted to make sure we weren’t just pulling the blasphemy guarantee out of our asses. He wished us luck on our business.

There have been many more like these -- friendly, charming, funny and supportive believers. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I never would have expected such a divergence of perspective of what our offer meant to Christians; such diametrically opposed emotions emanating from people sharing the same religion; such a difference in temperament and tolerance.

I turned a year older on September 8. I am really old now, but not too old to be educated and pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Racism, Ignorance, Hate and Stupidity on Loan from God

Last week President Obama went on television to encourage American school children to stay in school, study hard because it is the path to success and a stronger nation. Period.

The firestorm of insanity by the fundamentalist religious groups who align with the far right was beyond the pale. Never before in the history of this nation has a US President, the leader of the free world, been so maligned and attacked for an appeal to education. Here are just a few examples of the insanity that was spewed by the religiously afflicted in opposition to President Obama’s speech to the kids: *

"Public schools can't teach children to speak out in support of the sanctity of human life or traditional marriage. President Obama and the Democrats wouldn't dream of allowing prayer in school. Christmas Parties are now Holiday Parties. But the Democrats have no problem going against the majority of American people and usurping the rights of parents by sending Pied Piper Obama into the American classroom." Jim Greer, Chairman of the GOP of Florida

The Christian Coalition's blog made the claim that Obama's speech would result in teachers directing school children "to do volunteer work in the areas which he is concerned about: going to rallies and getting their parents to go with them to support universal health care; encouraging their Members of Congress to vote for Obama's huge tax increase schemes."

The fundamentalist OneNewsNow posted several pieces against Obama's speech. One was titled, "Mother Fears Obama School Speech Will Be 'Indoctrination Into Socialism.'" Another title said, "Obama's School Speech—Social Indoctrination?"

A 2010 gubernatorial candidate and member of Woodlake Assembly of God, Brogdon said he was worried that Obama might address "environmental conservation and other social issues. These are topics for parents to talk about with their children, not the President of the United States."

The founder of the American Family Policy Institute urged parents to boycott the president's speech accusing Obama of wanting to "brainwash" American school children and comparing his administration to the "leaders of the Hitler Youth,"

Look -- a long time ago I came to the conclusion that the most religiously infected are the most ignorant and uneducated people on the face of the planet. The only thing that surprises me is that I underestimated their racism, utter idiocy, capacity for hate, fear and their disdain for thought.

Meanwhile, search as I may, I can find no examples of atheists, Humanists, agnostics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Satanists, Wiccans or any one besides Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians condemning Obama for his wanting to encourage our children to be educated.

I’m convinced that when they say “God’s will be done,” it means ”God wills you to abandon all dignity and reason, O ye mind slaves of superstition.”


Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 11 Remembered

Eight years ago Friday was the worst day in my life. It probably was for many of you, but for me and my family it was especially bad. My eldest son was in World Trade Center Tower II.

He had just come down from the 76th floor for a smoke break when the plane hit Tower I and dropped debris on the street. In the scramble to get back into the building to avoid the shards, my son was slightly injured. He went out side, looked up… and made the second best decision he ever made (the first best being his decision to have a smoke).

He left his suit jacket, telephone, and briefcase in his office 76 floors up and started walking up town. Instinctively he knew something was very wrong. As he walked up town among the crowds of people similarly trying to put space between them and disaster, he turned and saw the second plane hit his building.

I watched on TV at work, not realizing my son’s office was in the WTC, his having just changed companies. That’s when my wife called me. The panic we experienced over the next two hours was indescribable, until we finally heard from my son that he was safe.

He was one of the lucky ones. 2,973 people were not so lucky. Their lives were snuffed out by religious fanatics who, enflamed by religious passion and heartened by the promise of a martyr’s reward in paradise, destroyed innocents. They destroyed the innocent lives of their victims, the innocent lives of the victim’s families, and the innocence of a country which had never before experienced this kind of religiously inspired violence on its shores.

And that religious inspiration led us to correctly retaliate against a religion dominated Afghanistan. And a religious zealot in the Oval Office took us into another war with “God on our side” to battle “Gog and Magog” the demons of the anti-Christ in Iraq.

Never forget what happened on 911 -- not the people who died, nor their families, and not the fact that religious delusion helped make it all possible and promulgates madness all over the globe to this day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Not Your Usual Christian

Let me preface this article with the following disclaimer: No! The Humpster has not turned soft; isn’t in the throes of religious conversion; and is still the cantankerous anti-theist that has endeared him to you over the past two years. I promise that will never change.

But every now and then I meet a Christian, or read his works, and find myself surprisingly charmed and disarmed by their intellect and honesty. In my book I praised the Reverend Barry Lynn, an ordained minister, a believer, and the Executive Director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, a staunch defender of the 1st amendment's establishment clause, as our Founding Fathers envisioned it. He’s my hero.

Joyce, one of our very few Christian visitors and commenters here and her husband Jeff, have become good internet friends with whom I can banter and challenge without it lapsing into a flame war or pointless proselytizing... by either of us. Just two examples of many believers who have my respect.

That said, I want to introduce Jason Boyett. Jason is a prolific author and a blogger of some fame. He has appeared on The History Channel and National Geographic Channel; and is a Christian who is so far removed from the caricature that we the thinking godless typically paint of Christians that he defies my ability to label him. I hate that!

Jason saw my Eternal Earth-Bound Pets site and asked to interview me for his blog. I was delighted and not a little surprised to find that he didn’t pass judgment on my perspectives, didn’t proselytize, didn’t censor or curtail my rhetoric. In fact, if anything, he made me sound more coherent than I am in real life. Then, as if that wasn’t surprising enough, his blog readership’s comments were as respectful of me and appreciative of my points as Jason was in his professionalism. Pretty refreshing.

Jason and I have exchanged books (he sent me three of his). I read the first one in a few hours. While I learned a lot, I am still scratching my head trying to figure out what the heck kind of Christian Jason is. He is irreverent, damn funny, and challenges Christian doctrine -- even questioning the bible and his own degree of faith. What’s up with that?!

With this as ground work I now encourage my readers to click on this link and read the two part interview I did with Jason.
Please scroll down to August 25th for Part 1, then up to August 26th for Part 2.
Don’t forget to check out the reader comments.

And if you want to get a whole new perspective on what a thinking Christian is all about, check out Jason’s Pocket Guides . They are as entertaining as they are educational and as far removed from anything you’ve ever read on religion/Christianity.

While I’ll never respect “beliefs” of any kind, I have a profound respect for this kind of believer, and a new Christian friend in Jason. I will return to being my usual “ornery-anti-fundie-take no prisoners-foul tempered-spitting camel” self by my next blog posting. Promise.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

To the Terminally Religious "Non-Belief = Religion."

A theist emailing me at Eternal Earthbound Pets tells me that since I have no belief in the existence of a God, that non-belief is therefore a belief, and thus equates to a religion.

What is it with these people? Why is it they are so desperate to call disbelief a belief, and atheism a religion, when the concepts are diametrically opposed to logic, and the very definitions of these terms?

I’ve discussed this before… how one’s non-belief in alien abductions, or vampires, et al, does not equate to a “belief” in their nonexistence much less a religion. It’s simple disbelief, a rejection of a concept because it is devoid of evidence and cannot be supported by natural law. No belief does not a belief make-- it’s quite simple.

Calling a lack of belief in such things “Belief because you don’t believe” is just plain moronic. It's the same as insisting that I subscribe to “The Religion of There are No Vampires" because I have no belief in the existence of vampires. It's patently crazy.

Mostly I think this is a product of Christian apologists who like to play fast and lose with word definitions and the minds of their even less intellectually gifted followers. Once infected by convoluted word games proffered as fact, these poor uneducated folks have no way of displacing it with logic or authenticated definitions. That’s not how their brains are wired.

I don’t “believe” the Earth is flat. I reject it as fallacy until and unless those who do believer it’s flat can substantiate it with scientific evidence. I do not have “belief” in an alternate concept of the shape of the earth as theists have belief in God. What I do have is a very strong degree of certainty that the Earth is spherical because of scientific evidence and proofs that seem to defy contradiction. That’s as far from blind belief as one could get. A "belief" in flat earth, or anything else, is acceptence of that which is devoid of empirical evidence. Non-Belief is simply the result of a lack of empirical evidence.

In the non-thinking of the religiously stupid, if that makes me a congregant of the "Round Earth Religion," well pass me the Round Earth communion wafer and call me Father Hump.