Sunday, April 29, 2012

An old fashioned Xtian sing along: Just follow the bouncing spleen

Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?

   Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
 Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?                                                                 “Are You Washed in the Blood?” hymn by
 Elisha A. Hoffman, pub.1878

Nothing seems to make Xtians happier or holier than invoking the gore and grotesqueness of brutal death that is a mainstay of their belief system. What the Mayans and Aztecs did in reality with human sacrifices and beating heart extractions, the Xtians do symbolically in song.

Isaac Watts, was a 18th century writer of hymns. Many were so full of blood and gore that the Methodist Church decided to pull them from their hymnals.

Here are a few selected verses from Mr. Watts:

Alas, and did my Savior Bleed?”
Alas, and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sov'reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, thine,
And bathed in its own blood,
While all exposed to wrath divine

Catchy, eh?

Here’s a lovely little ditty entitled “Blest is the Man Whose Bowels Move”

His heart contrives for their relief
More good than his own hands can do;
He, in the time of gen’ral grief,
Shall find the Lord has bowels too.

 His soul shall live secure on earth,
With secret blessings on his head,
When drought, and pestilence, and dearth
Around him multiply their dead

Here’s a bloody one with a little anti-Semitism thrown in for good measure

“Not all the Blood of Beasts”
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.

 But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.

Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice
And sing His bleeding love.
Watts has over two-hundred fifty hymns attributed to him, and no small portion speak of washing in the “the blest fountain of Thy blood” and other such gory references.

Other devout hymn writers penned such notable titles as “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood,” “Power in the Blood,” “Hide you in the Blood,” “Covered by the Blood,” “Thank God for the Blood,” and the ever popular “The Blood,” among others too numerous to mention.  Here’s the chorus from “Washed in the Blood”:

Washed in the Blood, washed in the Blood!
Washed in the Blood, in the soul-cleaning Blood.
Washed in the Blood, washed in the Blood!
Sealed in the Spirit true,
and washed in the Blood!

It’s a veritable blood bath...literally ... since having blood pouring out of Jesus’ gaping abdominal wound seems to be a popular theme.

Nowadays many churches prefer to keep the bloodiest hymns out of their mainstream hymnals.  Let’s face it, between promoting the reanimation of rotting corpses;  revering pickled pieces of saint body parts and mummified bodies under glass; images of Jesus with his heart outside his body (and oddly on fire...heartburn I imagine); drinking symbolic blood and eating symbolic flesh -  the imagery tends to make Xtianity sound suspiciously like a blood and gore death cult...which it is. Picture the Thuggee High Priest holding the beating heart of his human victim in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,”... bad press.

So singing about blood baths in church has largely gone the way of the Catholic  “Feast of the Circumcision.”  I guess it was starting to leave a bad taste in their mouth.    

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

“A mathematician in the model of Jesus.” : Christian Education in a Nut Shell.

The following is from a website that answers parent’s questions about their children’s education.  This is the closing paragraph explaining the difference between parochial and public schools: 
The parochial school is giving your children a religious upbringing that cannot be duplicated at a once a week religion class. Furthermore, they are having the chance to be with a group with similar values and be part of a faith community.”

My translation:  “Your child will be indoctrinated into the preferred myth and non-think of the school's religious sect early - before they can form their own independent thoughts, concepts and perspectives. Furthermore, they will be insulated from ‘the others’ who have varied /differing perspectives and world views.”

And the parochial school authorities wouldn't deny it.  What they will do is put a spin on it.  They’ll talk about “... instilling a Christian morality and set of values that will provide a solid foundation for exemplary lives.”   
In other words: “... teaching the child that those who do not share their supernatural belief system are damned to eternal pain and suffering; are less than they; have questionable morals and ethics; and are to be viewed with suspicion.”

So what happens when that child enters the real world?  What are the chances they will have cultivated an understanding that  people whose religious beliefs are different, or who lack belief entirely, or who are gay, or whose parents are lesbians,  are as likely to be as  honest, loving, caring, generous, patriotic and posses every positive quality that they do?   
Not very good, in my opinion. 

In a recent article in my New Hampshire newspaper a Catholic middle school administrator said that while they use textbooks from a Christian publisher and teach creationism, they also teach evolutionary theory in their science class, because that’s what students will be taught in the NH high schools.   His justification for this disconnect between teaching religious dogma on the one hand and contradicting real science on the other was “You don’t want to say two plus two is four because Jesus said so.  That’s plastic.”    

The story goes on to describe a poster which exhorts children to become “mathematicians in the model of Christ.”  Somehow the administrator was able to justify this bizarre and totally baffling admonishment by saying [It] means thinking of Jesus first, others second, and yourself third...even when it comes to fractions and acute angles.’   No plasticity there, nor an iota of common sense.  

I live in NH where our school system is rated above the national average. Thus sending a child to a Christian school can only mean the parents want their child immersed in religious indoctrination, mental domination by religious zealots, and the institutionalized isolation/segregation that these schools promise. Academics and preparedness for the real world becomes a secondary consideration, hit or miss, as the teachers don’t even have to be accredited nor is the curriculum monitored by, or answerable to, a secular authority.   

Perhaps in those states where the public schools are so poor that they are ranked below average or among the worst in the nation (i.e. Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas)  concerned parents dedicated to their child’s intellectual advancement  may well be served by a parochial school curriculum, but then only if they couldn’t access a secular private school, or are not qualified or comfortable with home schooling their child.   

I’d just be sure to deprogram them daily to counter act the religious indoctrination and non-think that accompanied the day’s academics lest they become less like a mathematician in the model of Archimedes, and more like a mathematician in the model of Christ who wouldn’t have known a protractor from a talking donkey.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

“Our Thoughts and Prayers are with Dick Clark’s Family.” Oookay

Sorry Dick died. I don’t mean to sound crass, Dick was a good guy, but as they say, death is just nature’s way of telling us to slow down.

Over the past two days I must have heard the “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dick Clark’s family” about fifty times. I get the thoughts part. It’s nice of people to think of the family and express their support during a trying time. But what exactly are they praying for and why?

I’ve never understood this particular platitude that Xtians are so fond of. Are they praying to their god to intervene and prevent the family from committing mass suicide in their grief? That’s a rather extreme and rare response to the passing of an 82 year old man who lived a full life and was already in poor health.

Are they asking their god to shorten the family’s grieving period? Grief is a natural response to death of a loved one- a basic human reaction and cathartic emotion. It will run its course prayers or not. And given the fact that their omniscient god would surely know their of their grief, he/she/it is going to either ease their grief or not independent of their appeal.

If it is meant to comfort the family, why not just say genuine words of comfort like “I’m so sorry for Dick’s passing. He was loved by us all. The world is a better place for his having been a part of it. We share your sadness.”

After all, a supernatural appeal for some kind of divine intervention that can’t even be defined seems rather bland and trite compared to a genuine expression of support for the family and admiration for the deceased. Besides, I’d bet dollars to donuts that 99.9% of the time no prayers are being offered up for the family anyway. What would they mumble “Dear Jesus, If you’re not too busy ignoring the genocide in Sudan, please ... uh ... do sompthin to make Dick Clark’s family feel better.” ? C’mon.

Ask your religious friends. If they can define their prayers for the family, I’d sure like to know what they are praying for and if they actually pray, if they have ever been able to objectively ascertain the net result of the impact of those prayers.

My educated guess is that when all is said and done it comes down to it being a simple mindless knee jerk platitude that religionists are compelled to mouth out of conditioned response, like “God bless you” after a sneeze.

Ah, unthinking shallow religious gibberish....they do it so well.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sex Sells in Advertising. But what’s it doing in Religion?

Madison Avenue has been sexualizing products as a sales gimmick for as long as advertising has been around because sex sells. But, what is with the Abrahamic religions’ fixation on sex and sexuality? What are they selling?

The Old Testament is chock full prohibitions, instructions, and penalties for sexual behavior. It is also full of inexplicably bizarre and violent sexual references.

  • Lot commits incest with his daughters.
  • God’s demand of total genocide of a pagan tribe, except for the virgin girls who are to be sexual fodder for the Hebrews
  • God kills Onan for whacking off onto the ground.
  • Judah doing his daughter-in-law.
  • I don’t even want to explain Song of Solomon’s "My beloved put his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him". (!?)
  • Attempted angel rape in the Sodom and Gomorrah story... Lot trys to placate the mob with his virgin daughters.
  • Rapists of virgins have to marry them and pay the girl’s father 50 shekels.
  • Incest by Adam and Eve’s children
  • Noah puts a curse on his son Ham’s son because Ham saw Noah naked.
  • Abraham does a servant so his sterile wife can have a baby.
  • A woman who grabs the privates of her husband’s attacker while trying to help her husband has to have her hand cut off.
  • Bestiality requires the man AND the innocent beast to be put to death
  • Homosexual sex punishable by death.
  • Women who commit adultery must be put to death.
  • God doesn’t like turtle necks on penis’ and requires genital mutilation of the Hebrews.
  • Having sex with your father’s wife is punishable by death.
  • Threesome with your wife and mother-in-law...death.
  • Lose your testicles? Banned from temple.
  • Endless laws and rituals about coming into contact with ejaculate and women who are menstruating.

This isn’t even scratching the surface. There are over two-hundred (200) references to sex, sex acts, sexual parts, rape, incest, masturbation, and lewd and lascivious behavior, as they say, in the Old Testament. The Jews were obviously obsessed with sexual matters. Christians today who say Jesus did away with the laws of the Torah, the Old Testament, nevertheless seem happy to pick and choose among those Old Testament sexual prohibitions depending on the situation (“JOHNNY!! What are you doing?? Jesus is watching!!”) , or their agenda (“God hates fags!”).

The New Testament has a few references to sex, but not nearly as much fun as the OT unless you think being a eunuch for the Lord a good thing, which Jesus endorsed whole heartedly. And there’s that mysterious homoerotic verse about a young man flashing Jesus (Mark 14:51-52). But more than once we are told there is no sex in heaven ... some heaven that is.

The Quran has lots of sex stuff too, much of it drawn from the Old Testament, But here are a few uniquely Muslim sex thing:

  • Women are to be considered fields to be “tilled” with ones “plow.”
  • Virgins await the faithful in paradise (note: paradise beats heaven).
  • No sex for new widows until four months and ten days has passed.
  • Women charged with lewdness by four witnesses are to be put under house arrest until they die.
  • Slave wives should be punished only half as much for lewdness as your free born wives.
  • Wives who are lewd have their inheritance taken away.
  • And this peculiarly ambiguous admonishment:
    “it is forbidden that ye should have two sisters together, except what hath already happened of that nature in the past. Allah is forever forgiving and merciful!” and obviously Allah is into threesomes with twins, but only once!!

So what’s this all about? What’s with all this sex stuff? Why does it seem their god is one big horn dog and hall monitor of penises and vaginas, who gets to use them, and with whom?

Because God is made in Man’s image ... and men are pigs. Men wrote the scriptures to satisfy their misogynistic bent to subjugate women, and to elevate the sanctity of the penis; to justify as God’s will otherwise abominable acts; to establish a sexual pecking order. What better way to exercise control than to be the keeper of the strongest natural instinct among animals; to be divinely appointed to enforce God’s determinates of where, when, and how their willing mind slaves will have sex?

And on it goes with modern day keepers of their God’s genitalia obsession: Santorum, Bachmann, Perry, the religious right. If any of them were to ever get elected I imagine they’d push for a new national motto –

“In God We Trust, and in Your Genitalia We Don’t”

Monday, April 9, 2012

Can a Christian be a “Freethinker?”: My definitive answer is “it depends.”

Freethinker, n.
one who forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority; especially : one who doubts or denies religious dogma

The question presents something of a dilemma for me. Instinctively, or perhaps more accurately – reflexively- I would answer in the negative. But to do so would likely be erroneous.

Christians who can isolate/segment belief in God, but do not permit it to supplant their ability to accept scientific evidence for evolutionary theory; who do not re-write history in favor of a "Christian nation," where no such historical support exists; who do not bastardize the meaning of the 1st amendment's Establishment Clause; or do not invoke God or the Bible to justify religious involvement in America's policies, laws, waging war, nor allow their religious belief to impede people's reproductive rights or pursuit of happiness based on sexual preference or gender; and who recognize and support Jefferson's intent for the Separation of Church and State; then my answer is YES, one can be both a Xtian and Freethinker.

The Rev Barry Lynn, Director of Americans United for the Separation. of Church and State is one of those. I have come to realize there are many like him.

But if a Xtian would require me to give objective evidence, irrefutable proof, for my claim that I have a monkey that recites Shakespeare, but requires no such proof that a snake talked and the first human was formed from mud by a super being, then they have accepted tradition, dogma, religious authority over reason and cannot be called a freethinker. A freethinker requires proof, objective evidence of something incredible proffered as fact, and applies that premise consistently.

If one rejects volumes of scientific data corroborated by multiple disciplines all of which point to evolution to explain origin of species; but accept a myth written by pre-scientific nomadic cultists to explain why species exist... he rejects freethought.

If one believes prayer has efficacy and can influence a supreme beings decision making for his life, or the planet, or their dog, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary through many controlled studies, accepting instead the dictates of the Bible and the anecdotal stories of like minded believers... they cannot be a freethinker.

If ones attributes certain outcomes to divine intervention (the most complex if all potential explanations), as oppose to natural physical laws and /or coincidence / probability as the causal factor, they defy freethinking.

If one believes morality and ethics are determined by a supreme being and not the result of culture and the evolution of civilization as a natural outgrowth for the need for a cohesive and cooperative society, you can’t be called freethinker.

The things I mentioned are not meant to be a definitive listing of what determines if a person is or isn’t a freethinker. There is no definitive list. These aren't any ones rules for joining the community of free thought. We don’t have rules. They aren't a doctrine or directive from some hierarchy of freethinkers. We don’t have a doctrine or hierarchy. They represent my strictly my perspective. But, I expect they would likely be agreed to by many freethinkers. And note that the definition of freethinker says “especially” those who doubt or deny religious dogma...not “exclusively” those who doubt or deny it.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong. I'm open to being convinced otherwise by reason. After all, I am a freethinker.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On Judging and Christian Love: Reason and Platitudes Collide

A Southern Baptist self proclaimed Christian, Palin supporting, McDonalds employee from Fancy Gap, Virginia ( I am not making any of this up) posted this remarkably annoying comment on a facebook discussion thread:

"If someone who claims to be Christian is judging you for what you have done wrong then they are more religious than Christian. A Christian doesn't judge because they realize they are not perfect either...”

“... being a Christian is believing in Jesus for what he done [sic] for the world and loving every person no matter what they do.” Brad N., 4/3/12

That comment almost drove me to apoplexy. There comes a time when accepting pat platitudes, and then seeing the purveyor of same expose his/her hypocrisy becomes intolerable.

Xtians don't "judge"? My fat camel ass! They judge abortion providers and women who abort a fetus; they judge gays; they judge this to be a "Xtian nation" and all Founding Fathers to be Xtians in spite of all evidence to the contrary. They serve on juries and judge defendants. They judge whether or not a person on a darkened street, or deserted subway car is a threat to them. Many judge Obama to be a Muslim, a Kenyan, a Communist, a fascist, and/or the anti-Christ.

They judge all non-Xtians as deceived or "closed minded" for not buying into their myth. They judge clergy who molest and the hierarchy who cover it up to have been "led astray by Satan" and a rarity.

They judge global warming endorsing scientists to be fakes and evolutionists to be gullible. They judge it better to turn a blind eye to tens of thousands of third world people dying of AIDS rather than to insist their church endorse condoms.

Xtians are all about judgment, and the more Xtian they are the more their judgment is invariably hideous and grotesquely poor.

The whole “Xtians don’t judge” nonsense derives from their misunderstanding of Matthew 7:1 “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Not surprising since most have never read the Bible, or those who have haven’t taken the time to understand it. It has nothing to do with judging peoples acts/actions, it has everything to do with assessing who is and isn’t worthy of “salvation.” Big difference.

So while Good Xtian Brad opined to grace me with his expertise, it is in fact a defunct explanation offered by someone who doesn’t understand his own professed doctrine.

As for loving every person no matter what they do” ... Bull Hockey!

Any Xtian who claims to love / have loved Bin Laden, Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin,
Dr. Joseph Mengele, Mao, Torquemada, Vlad the Impaler, Tim McVeigh, John Wayne Gacy, or anyone one of thousands of despots, murderers, and genocidal fiends though history just because they commit their minds to believing a dead Jew came to life and all the Pauline doctrinal bullshit that accompanies it, is either a liar and mouthing expected doctrine, patently insane, has been lobotomized, is a social deviate, or a damnable moron. The old "I hate the act but love the person" is the most insipid Xtian platitude ever invented right after "its okay little Suzie got decapitated in a car accident; it was part of God's plan."

They may figure they are fooling their God, and thus assuring themselves of a place in heaven, but anyone professing love for a mass murderer is irrational at best, psychotic at worst.

Naturally I explained all this in vivid detail to Brad N. He replied that since he didn’t personally know any of those murderous historical personages he can’t be sure if he “loved them or not.”

The deafening crash he probably heard after he hit the send button on that sentence was brute reality and gross Xtian hypocrisy traveling on the same track in opposite directions at 100 MPH. So much for the non-judgmental, all loving Xtian ethic courtesy of Fancy Gap, VA.