2017 A To Z Challenge – O

Challenge2017*

I am an Optimist.  Not a cockeyed optimist.  Not a naïve, ‘everything will turn out right’, optimist.   Not a wide-eyed, slack-grinned, Pollyanna, ‘everything is great’, optimist.  Not a Little Orphan Annie, ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow’ optimist.  Not even one of those Optimist guys who goes to monthly urban-improvement meetings.  I just always hope for the best from people and society.

letter-o

On the other hand, I’m also a flint-hard-minded, cynical realist. I hope for the best, but expect the worst from people, and I’m seldom disappointed, Trust – But Verify.

The optimist thinks that we live in the best of all possible worlds.
The pessimist fears that that statement is true.

During my childhood, alone in my neighborhood, I sometimes reached out to other children (guys) living blocks away, to show them things I’d discovered during my solitary explorations. Almost without exception, whatever was not stolen, was destroyed, preventing further enjoyment by them, me, or the rightful owner.  It’s still an all-too-common attitude in the world today, which I just don’t understand!  😯

I would like to believe that, with the information age, and increasing education and technology, the world is slowly rising to be a better place.  Certainly, within the more civilized sections, torture and arbitrary executions have mostly disappeared.  Then I see militant Islam terror attacks against Christian countries, and one type of Muslim killing and driving out another.

Islamofascists are trying to control/prevent the dissemination of information and concepts that they do not approve of, especially via the internet. That genie (if you’ll excuse the expression) is already out of the bottle.  I hope that the tipping point has been reached, and, no matter how many AK-47s or Semtex explosive they use, knowledge and social freedom will still continue to spread.

In the western world, it seems restricted to acts like a local LGBTF-friendly church recently having its entryway sidewalk graffitied, “The Church Shall Remain Holy.” Since they are welcoming the same sort of social rejects that Christ did, they feel that they are holy, and plan to have another artist ‘frame’ the graffiti, and seal it with a transparent coat, turning it from an act of hate, to an inclusive act of love.

So much of life has become polarized – Blue States vs. Red States – White Supremacists – tear down historical statues – Fundamentalists trying to drag society back into superstitious days.

I hope!
I hope!
I hope!

I don’t think that I will live long enough to see very much total improvement. I’d like to say, ‘Two steps forward – One step back’, but often it seems like 12 steps forward, 11 steps backward.  I hope that progress will continue.  I hope that my children and grandchildren will live in a better world than the one that I did.  I am optimistic!

***

This is the closest that I’ve finished a blog composition before posting, since I wrote my first 13 directly into WordPress. It was completed only a half an hour before my self-imposed schedule said that it was to be published.  I don’t even think it was because of my procrastination – more like, I just couldn’t organize my thoughts, and decide where it was going.  Since I’m supposed to have three, in a Word file, ready to go at all times, I’d better get going at P, Q, and R.  😳

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WOW #20

Stunned*

I just knew that, sooner or later, my love of language and my general disdain for organized religion would crash into each other, and cause me grief. In scanning some Atheist/anti-Atheist blog-posts recently, I came upon the Word Of the Week, which is

CATHOLIC

adjective

broad or wide-ranging in tastes, interests, or the like; having sympathies with all;
broad-minded; liberal.
universal in extent; involving all; of interest to all.
pertaining to the whole Christian body or church.

Origin of catholic

1300-1350; Middle English < Latin catholicus < Greek katholikós general, equivalent to kathól(ou) universally (contraction of phrase katà hólou according to the whole; see cata-, holo- ) + -ikos -ic

The word ‘catholic’ is a Janus-word, one of a few in English which have 2 different, contradictory meanings, like ‘cleave’, which can mean to split into pieces – or to make pieces into one solid whole, or the verb ‘table’, which can mean to set aside and not deal with – or to deal with immediately.

Even when the word catholic was first used to describe the Christian church/religion, the existence of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., clearly show that it violated definition #2. It was not universal!  It did not involve or was of interest to all!

The longer it has existed, the more it has diverged from definition #1. Instead of being broad-minded, liberal, and sympathetic to all, it has become increasingly more hidebound, narrow-minded and dogmatic.

The Roman Catholic Church even violates the third definition. It does not represent the entire body of the Christian faith, as proved by the existence of 33,000 Protestant denominations.  It split, or was split from, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church.  Even just linguistically, it cannot claim to be an only child, when it obviously has two brothers.

I hear/read Christian Apologetics try to deny evolution by asking questions like, “If we came from monkeys/apes, why are there still monkeys/apes?” I just want to scream, “Are you really as stupid and narrow-minded as that question makes you appear? Read a book – not just The Good Book.”  If all dogs came from wolves, why are there still wolves?  Or better, if all Christian denominations came from Catholic, why are there still Catholics?  We didn’t ‘come from apes/monkeys.’  Apes, monkeys and humans all came from a common ancestor.  It’s just that some of us are a little more evolved than others.

In arguments/discussions about Christianity/Faith/Bible, Christian Apologetics have answers to explain away every single thing, but not for everything.  If doubt were a building, they have individual arguments to refute bricks, doors, windows, floors and roofs – but not the entire house.  Their arguments against bricks contradict their claims denying the existence of windows, etc., etc., etc.!   😦  😯

THE BLOG-POST THAT I WAS NEVER GOING TO WRITE

Bible

God is for the wise – religions are for fools.

“The totally convinced and the totally stupid have too much in common for the resemblance to be accidental.” ~Robert Anton Wilson

Dear God (if you’ll excuse the expression), how can they so casually dismiss everybody else’s religious claims, yet profess to unflinchingly believe the exact, same thing, with a different color paint on it.

I don’t call myself an Atheist.  I don’t call myself much of anything.  If I have to, I like the son’s definition – A Militant Agnostic.  I don’t know, and neither do you.  I have been called many things by ‘religious people.’  Every person, and every religion, creates a ‘God’ in the way they want Him to be.  I like to think that there’s a unifying force in/to the universe, so I believe in a God, just not your God, subject to your imaginings, and all the man-made rules and restrictions of your particular (or anybody else’s) religion.

Muslims fight with Jews, who feel that Christians are mistaken. Catholics look down on Protestants.  ‘Good Christians’ claim that Mormons are ‘not Christians,’ even though they worship the same God, and accept Jesus as their savior.  They just don’t believe that Christ was the last person to hear from God.

If there is a Divine Being who created Heaven and Earth, there’s only one of Him/It, but you’d never know that from some Christian claims.  A caller to the Atheist Experience show railed that the Atheists, “are almost as bad as those Godless Muslims”, not seeing the contradiction.

Steam ears

The moderator insisted that Muslims are not Godless. “In fact, they worship the same God that you do.”  I thought the caller was going to explode!  Apparently a good Catholic, he insisted, “They do not!  We worship God in three parts!  They only worship one God.”….but it’s the same God.  The problem is not with different Gods.  The problem is how different people worship, view, pray to, and react with, one God, in different ways. You see Him in three parts.  They see Him as one unified whole.  People were burned at the stake over how many Angels could dance on the head of a pin.  Far too many exclusionary fools seem far too worried about irrelevant, unimportant details.  Who’s right?  All of them – and none.

A well-known Atheist, sarcastically claimed that, “We’re all Atheists.  I just worship one less God than you do.”  The words were scarcely out of his mouth, before the Christian Apologetics, obviously missing the irony, insisted that, ‘Well, that’s okay for those gods, but ours is the REAL God, the particular imaginary one that we believe in and expect you to believe in, with no more proof of existence than Odin, Zeus, Jove, Yahweh or Allah.’

A good Catholic, who thought that my That’s Not Funny post wasn’t that funny, sent me some more Christian vs. Atheists jokes.

  1. Q: What do you get when you cross an atheist and a Jehovah’s Witness?
    A: Somebody knocking at your door for no reason.

2.  Q: Why did the Atheist cross the road?
A: He thought there might be a street on the other side, but he wouldn’t believe it until he tested his hypothesis.

and finally…
3.  Q: What is so ironic about Atheists?
A: They’re always talking about God.

The third joke is especially true of you non believers. How many articles do you see written on my blog professing the existence of the Lord? I don’t write many because I know He is there. This is the same reason I have absolutely no blog posts on the legs of the chair I am sitting on…I know they are there.

That’s fine – until you sit down on that chair that you know is there – and it isn’t.  We’ve all done it; some of us more than once.  The same thing could happen with ‘your God.’  A little double-checking couldn’t hurt.

You don’t even need to be Atheist, to feel that Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on people’s doors for no reason. Christians will belittle and make fun of ‘Jovies,’ but, when push comes to shove, they’ll cut them some slack, “Because they are Christians, after all – sadly mistaken Christians – but ‘one of us.’”

An open mind can always stand a closed one, if it has to – by making room for it in the general picture. But a closed mind can’t stand it near an open one without risking immediate and complete destruction in its own terms.  In a closed mind, there’s no more room. Gordon R. Dickson, author – Tiger Green – 1965

The Atheist-crossing-the –road joke isn’t funny, because it ridicules those who seek the truth.  Truth may not be what you ‘believe’ it to be.  The unquestioning faithful may blindly believe in salvation, but in no other life endeavor, would non-cynical, un-researched participation in a course of action, be considered a good idea.  The ‘God’ that you believe in, is not any other person’s ‘God’, not your husband’s, your wife’s, the person next to you in the church pew – or even the priest/preacher at the front.

The third one shows how some Christians mistakenly feel themselves attacked. Atheists don’t ‘always talk about God.’ They talk about Christians, talking about their God – claiming to know what He thinks and wants. If there were more Christians, secure in their own, but quietly acceptant of others’ opinions, and fewer aggressive know-it-alls, there’d be far fewer Atheists pointing out apparent mistakes and contradictions.  If Snidely Smartass hadn’t published his ‘Smart Christian – Dumb Atheist’ joke, I wouldn’t have written my post.  As ye sow, so shall ye reap.   😛

***

That’s Not Funny

Comedy

Wait, wait, I gotta go back. I forgot to tell you that the kangaroo was left-handed….

I’m sure that, at least once, you’ve all encountered a joke-teller – really, a joke-killer – like the one above. THAT’S NOT FUNNY!

I suppose that one of the reasons I’m interested in jokes and comedy, is that they require crisp, clear, concise, complete communication. The Devil, and the humor, is often in the details.

I first started hearing and collecting jokes when I entered Grade 1. The worldly-wise Grade 2 boys had worldly-wise (for 6/7 year-olds) jokes.

Bobby’s mother sent him to the store to pick up some groceries. On the way home, he tripped, and he and the bag of groceries fell into a mud puddle.  “Jesus Christ Almighty,” he said angrily.  A passing Minister demanded, “What did you say?”  I just said, “The cheese and rice got all muddy.

That joke is not funny, but a six-year-old boy trying out public profanity for the first time, and desperately attempting to evade adult retribution is.

Some people just should not be allowed to (try to) tell jokes. They may be the same people who wander from lane to lane, make left turns from the right lane or drive at 50MPH in the fast lane on the Interstate.

I was at a business dinner one evening, when I heard the beginnings of a joke, so I jammed my ear in to catch it.

The Good-Old-Boy Southern Sheriff dragged Bubba up before the judge. The judge asked, “What’s the charge?”  The Sheriff answered, “Arson, Your Honor.”  The judge said, “There’s been too much of that going on recently.  That’ll be a $300 fine.”

There were a few polite chuckles, and suddenly, everybody had somewhere else to be. THAT’S NOT FUNNY.  Two years later, I was at another meeting, and heard the beginning of the same joke.

The Good-Old-Boy Southern Sheriff dragged Bubba up before the judge. The judge asked, “What’s the charge?”  The Sheriff answered, “Arson, Your Honor.”  The judge said, “There’s been too much of that going on recently.  Now I want you to marry the girl, and make an honest woman of her.”

Oh, arson/arsin’. How could someone not get that punch line, or think that a fine was funny?

In mining a joke site, I recently downloaded what I, at first, thought was a cute joke that I could include in a comedy post. The more I studied it, the more I realized that, THAT’S NOT FUNNY.

An atheist was seated next to a little girl on an airplane and he turned to her and said, “Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, “What would you want to talk about?” “Oh, I don’t know,” said the atheist. “How about why there is no God, or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death?” as he smiled smugly.

“Okay,” she said. “Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff – grass, yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?”

The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, “Hmmm, I have no idea.”

To which the little girl replies, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss God, Heaven and Hell, or life after death, when you don’t know shit?” And then she went back to reading her book.

With a bit of study and thought, what at first seems innocent and amusing, soon becomes a desperate Christian attempt at an Atheist joke. For a joke to work, like a book or movie, there must be a voluntary suspension of disbelief.  This thing is chock-a-block with heavy-handed failure.

Airlines do not place ‘little girls’ next to random older men, whether Atheist or not. They put them next to their mother or father, or at least nearby.  A random pedophile might start a conversation with a little girl, but an Atheist would know that a parent would soon interfere, since Christians deem them more dangerous than pedophiles.  I just love the insertion of, “smiled smugly.”

Atheists don’t generally discuss, what is an adult theme, with children until they are old enough to think on their own. Cows, horses and deer don’t actually eat the same thing – grass, and there are physiological reasons for the differences in their scat, despite the Atheist’s inability to respond.

The Christian girl is shown to be more intelligent and knowledgeable than the adult Atheist, and the ‘don’t know shit’ line just pounds home Atheists’ apparent ignorance. While not capitalized in the joke, it is obvious that the girl returns to reading, not just ‘her book,’ but her Book, the Holy Bible, from which all knowledge of shit flows.

I’ll be back soon with some jokes that actually are funny.   😆

The Smartest People Say The Dumbest Things

atheist-i-am

Perhaps tired of having ‘God’ and Christianity shoved down their throats, in their Government, and into their schools, many Atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers can become a little bit testy and aggressive.

The older, wiser, calmer leaders of the movements often advise the firebrands not to call Christians or Christianity stupid. “They’ll just try harder to defend their position.  You’ll never change their minds with insults.”

Personally, I’d settle for ‘Live And Let Live.’ Minds are not going to change, not when a well-known scientist, a PhD in Paleontology, who knows about evolution and that the Earth is really 4.5 billion years old, says that, when he goes home, he believes that the world is only 6000 years old, because that’s what his religion tells him, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

If the above admonition is to be taken seriously, then, the smartest people in the world say the dumbest things. There is a group of people, both professional and amateur, known as Christian Apologetics, from the Greek word ‘apologia’, meaning speaking in defense.

They make it their crusade to provide answers for questions, and explanations for the doubts, of non-believers. They could be named Pretzels, for the mental gymnastics and theosophical knots they tie themselves in, trying to buttress their blind faith.

Some of their claims are amazing, and just mind-numbing.
Atheists really believe in God, but they don’t believe in Satan, so that they can sin.

Yin Yang

This is like believing in Bugs Bunny, but not Elmer Fudd – Sonny, without Cher – salt, but no pepper, or Yin, with no Yang! They come in matched sets.  Belief in one of them enforces the need to believe in the other.

BTW, nice backhand insult, that Atheists sin….because we all know that believers in God never sin.

Atheists are angry at God for something He did, and deny His existence.

This is dumber than the first one. If I believed in ‘God’, to be angry at Him, I’d believe in His omniscience, and know that, even if something happened that angered me, He works in mysterious ways, and it would be for my good, or the good of all.

Even if I were angry at God, I’d still believe in His power, and know that denying Him would result in everlasting torment. This is like a five-year-old, running around with his fingers in his ears, yelling La La La.  Mommy will still spank.  Angry or not, I gotta believe.

Atheists really believe in God, they just don’t know they do.

This one confuses the Hell out of me – so to speak. Does this mean that, even if I deny that God exists, I still get to go to Heaven??  If that’s the case, what’s the fuss?

If someone showed you proof that God existed, would you believe in Him then?
Duh! That’s what this dispute is all about, but nobody’s done it, in 2000 years.  Atheists and Agnostics are not petulant children, rebelling simply for the attention.  This belief by ‘smart’ Christians, simply shows how foolishly desperate they are.

A female phoned in to The Atheist Experience podcast, and asked, “If Y’all don’t believe in God, then who do you worship?” She was told that Atheists don’t believe in deities, so they don’t worship any. “Then y’all worship Satan.” They told her that they did not believe in either God or Satan, so they didn’t worship either. “Well, my preacher told me that, if y’all don’t worship God, then you worship Satan.” The one moderator said, “Then he lied to you.” and thereby made a mistake.  He had no more proof that the preacher had actually, intentionally lied, than the preacher had that they worshipped Satan.

“Well, if that ain’t the truth, then why would he have said it?” (Oh, so many reasons!) This gave the moderator a chance to retract his earlier gaffe.  “He may have been in error.  He may have wrongly believed something that someone else told him, but he does not know, and he has no right to make claims about who Atheists may, or may not, worship.”

A recent post that I read, attributed Christians’ belief in an ‘Assault On Christianity,’ to the rise of the internet, but the Information Age stretches back even further than that.  As long as any religion could fester in its own dark little private hole, like the five-year-old above, they could close their eyes, plug their ears and pretend that they were the only, or at least the most important.

Now that TV, movies, videos and all the other new social media keep displaying the fact that there is a large majority of other people on Earth with contrary opinions, insecurity sets in, and they get their particular emotional/religious crutch kicked out from under them.  This ‘new assault’ isn’t new. It’s been there all along.  They’ve just never had it brought to their attention, or had to face it. 😯

I don’t believe that all Christians are stupid….but some of them say real dumb shit!

manure

The Evolution Of Religion

Prayer Beads

Finally, an eminent scientist is setting out to prove that the rise of religion was caused by evolution.

In humans’ mysterious journey to become intelligent, socializing creatures like no other in the animal world, religion was the innovation which played an essential role. We needed something to literally stop everyone from killing everyone else, just out of grumpiness.

How did we manage it? Did humor help? Exercise?  Storytelling?  Singing?  Dance?

CAUTION, CONFORMITY CONFIRMATION

Religion is a complex, multi-tentacled Hydra, which draws from many psychological inputs, to ensure the survival of (most of) the race. It creates an US and a THEM.  Anything we recognize as US, we deem safe and acceptable.  THEM, on the other hand, are not family, clan or village, fit to be driven out.

Each species of primate can manage to keep up a special bond with a certain number of others of the same species. This goes up as brain size increases, from monkeys to apes.  Humans can maintain significantly more social ties than brain size alone, seems to explain.  Most of us keep a surprisingly large number of social ties, including 5 with intimate friends, 50 with good friends, 150 with friends, and 1500 with people we can recognize by name.

Reading this, I immediately knew that I was well below the standard. Of my 5 most intimate friends, I’ve only physically met two of them.  I am friendly with 50 to 150 people, but they are store clerks, Osteopaths, etc.  While they may like me, or put up with me and my silliness, I doubt that they regard themselves as my ‘friend,’ and I barely remember the names of the people who reside in the same house with me. 1500??!

It is well known that repetitive actions like pacing the floor, or twiddling thumbs, lower anxiety. The Jews and Muslims have prayer beads, and Catholics have their rosary – the same thing, with a cross attached, although most Protestants have given it up.  Buddhist monks spin prayer wheels, and all of these focus the mind to help achieve a calm, Zen-like state.

Religions have taken all the calming practices, and made them into group activities. If everyone bows, kneels (in the same direction), waves their hands, etc, at the same time, each person feels less aggressive and more accepting, and everybody feels part of the group.

A couple of other calming activities are singing – think hymns – and dancing, although Christianity has largely got away from that. It smacks too much of ‘having fun.’  Anyone forced to observe me singing or dancing, would not be calm or friendly.

Another couple of aggression/tension reducers surprised me. Not ‘group’ actions, because not everyone performs them simultaneously, they are humor and story-telling.  Presenting funny or spell-binding tales to a rapt group, especially youngsters, binds them into a less war-like group.

My singing and dancing may be banned in some States, and I can’t remember who my friends are, but apparently, my blog-posts and jokes make others less likely to assault me.  Hey!  I’m religious, and I didn’t even know it.   😯

The Humor Page

Extra Extra

That’s what I thought I was reading – the Humor Page!  Then I looked up at the top, and realized that it was the Religion Page of the newspaper; two Christian articles, both by women.

The first was the usual tale of a young woman being told that having unmarried sex made her a terrible sinner. After slipping, and giving it away once, she lost all self-respect and began throwing it away indiscriminately.

The article was titled, ‘Why I chose abstinence again.’ The sub-title was, ‘Despite feeling let down by my Church, I still want to walk in the way of my faith.’ Oh….  So many qualified psychotherapists!  So few people who really, REALLY need the help, actually getting it.

This is masochism! ‘You’ve hurt me before, so go ahead and hurt me again.’ This is hypocrisy!  She, and others, was told that ‘sex was the cause of all the problems in a romantic relationship,’…. and she wants to let this Church run/ruin her life again.

KARMA, KARMA, KARMA, KAMELEON

The second article had my “Tough luck! Couldn’t happen to a nicer person” meter pegged over to maximum.  It was titled, “On our second date, we went to Church.”

A 26-year-old, single, white female, perhaps getting a little desperate, set up a Meet-A-Pervert (No, wait.  That’s Craigslist) Tinder account.  Seeing several others who listed as atheist or pagan, she made sure to include the descriptor, “Jesus is my homeboy.”

During a nice, restaurant first-date, her Good Christian young lad mentioned that he was surprised at the number of non-Christians listed, and asked her exactly what she meant by her statement. Following a chaste, curbside, goodnight handshake, she suggested that their next date should be going to church.

He laughed, and she thought it was because he felt that she was joking.

He took her to his Catholic Church that Sunday. He taught her when to stand, when to kneel, and when to wave her hands magically in the air – but he wouldn’t let her go up to the front for the juice and cookies buffet.

Still hungry, they went for a lovely brunch afterward, and she believed that God had a plan for her.  They parted company amiably, and she believed that He had provided her a companion.

A couple of days later, choir boy sent her a message, saying that he just felt that something was missing.  He dumped her, by text, because she wasn’t a good enough Christian (Catholic)!   😆