Skeptic

Skeptic

A skeptic is a thinker, not a blind believer, but you already know that.

I laugh when ‘they’ use the word -or the term- to characterize someone who happens to have a different opinion, or point of view from them.  It’s obvious, that is the whole purpose of this, isn’t it?  Seize the definition, and then prove it wrong.

It’s wonderful to be a Skeptic, but who isn’t?  Unfortunately, far too many, who farm out and subcontract others to do their thinking for them.  But fortunately, we still have the right to think whatever we want, whatever we like, whatever we wish, the most wonderful nonsense, the most brilliant ideas.

We need to continue to fight for the right to be skeptics. So, dear journalists and assorted religious nuts, you’d better use some other words.  Like “controversialist,” “dissenter,” “arguer,” “questioner,” etc.

Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion – including freedom FROM religion, freedom of action – as long as it harms no-one else. As Braveheart, William Wallace, said, FREEDOM. I am not skeptical about that.

Just be careful not to topple over the edge to Cynic. I’ve seen some militant Atheists – actually anti-Theists – interviewed, and asked, “If you were presented with proof of the Christian God, would you believe?” And they answer, “NO!” That is just foolish, rebellious cynicism. Believe what you want, but have a good reason for it.

’18 A To Z Challenge – Flood

Challenge '18

Letter F

Unless the Mayan calendar apocalypse comes to pass, my little home town, situated where a river meets a lake, will never have a flood.

Lake Huron’s levels are closely monitored and controlled by the St. Lawrence Seaway commission, the geography is stable, and it would take something larger than a falling Chinese Space Station, to cause a tsunami.  The land quickly rises, so that most of the town is 50 feet above water level.  My birthplace house is more like 70’.

The closest thing to a flood is the spring ice-breakup in the river.  It starts 3 miles upstream, below the little rapids.  The thin ice breaks, pushing downstream against the thicker and thicker layers, partly impeding the water flow, until finally it lets loose.  Suddenly, thousands of tons of ice blocks, 2 – 3 – 4-feet thick, and as big as buses, thunder down the canyon, scour the harbor docks, and spew into the lake.

I’m told that it is an awe-inspiring sight and sound, but silly little things like education and employment have never allowed me to be present.  In late fall, the docks are cleared.  Ladders for swimmers and boaters are unbolted.  Fishing boats are winched onto the concrete, and placed well up on the banks.  After the cascade, ice that’s in the way is bulldozed back into the water.  Blocks that aren’t, are still melting beside the little park, well into June.

***

When we made our pitifully few visits to the lower United States for vacations, we were usually fixed on getting to our destination as soon as possible, and took the Interstates.  Humming along steadily for hours, at 110Kmh/70MPH, the extra distances were made up for by not having to follow some farm tractor, or stop at every stop sign and red light in every goober little town.

The time we took our On Top Of The World trip, we decided that we had the time, not to go 100 miles from Buffalo to Erie, PA, to get on I-79.  Instead, we took State highways down and back, from Buffalo, through Pennsylvania.  The entertainment and education justified the decision.

We passed through Du Bois, PA, named after W.E.B. Du Bois, a 19th century Negro civil-rights pioneer.  Both names are pronounced ‘due–boys’, rather than the French ‘due-bwah.’

We found a small PA town that clings to a mountainside so steep, that the northbound lane of the highway/main street, is 8 feet above the southbound lane, with a guardrail to prevent cars from falling in.  The industry in another Pennsylvania town was a Weyerhaeuser paper mill.  We could smell that one 3 miles before we got there, and 3 miles after we left, and rolled the windows down to clear the stench.

Rolling into one town we were faced with 6 or 7 truck-docks, at the back of a large plant.  Each dock seemed to be a different color, red, green, orange blue, purple.  When we got closer we found that it was a Pittsburgh Glass plant, and what we’d seen was hundreds of pounds of broken bottles and other glass, all sorted by color, which had fallen below the docks as it was being brought back in for melting and reuse.

As we were coming back north, we reached a spot where a secondary road met the highway at a T-intersection to our left.  Suddenly, in the middle of Nowhere PA, miles from any town or city, I was faced with the first roundabout I’d ever seen.

Like the 1942 song That Old Black Magic says, “Down and down I go.  Round and round I go.”  Round and round the roundabout I went, missing the northbound, uphill highway.  Instead, I continued ‘round, and exited onto the westbound, downhill road.

Six miles this steep, two-lane blacktop weaved its way down and down, with not a sign of a turnoff, another side-road, or even a farmer’s lane, to turn into to turn around.

Finally, after losing hundreds of feet of altitude, we reached a sign that said, “Welcome To Johnstown PA”.  Johnstown??  Like in the Johnstown flood??  Sure enough, there was the Conemaugh River, before we started our long trek back uphill.

In 1851 a dam was built 14 miles upstream, to provide water for area industries, and for a barge-canal system.  Later, trains replaced barges, so the dam was sold to a railway company.  The Railway Company wasn’t in the ‘dam’ business, so they didn’t maintain it, even removing and selling piping that could lower water levels behind it.

In 1889, a ‘Century Storm’ dumped 12 inches of rain in the mountain valley in two days.  The dam finally failed, and the flood roared through several small towns and Johnstown.  It caused $17 million 1889 dollars worth of damage, almost $500 million today, and killed over 2200 people.

I quietly drove back up to the highway and home, to compose this happy tale for you.  Stop back again later, when we visit The Rockies and talk about avalanches.  😯

Flash Fiction #56

Tunnel

PHOTO PROMPT © Stephen Baum

OUT

Cindy lived in the Bible Belt.  Usually she was very careful what she did and said.  A couple of years ago, a handsome young man had tried to pick her up at the entrance to a club.

She replied, “I’m not straight.”  In a lobby full of smoked-up pill-droppers, that was not unusual, and he persisted.  “No!  I’m not straight.” and Marilyn had come out, and they’d gone home.

Now, the Federal Supreme Court had ruled that her State government could no longer withhold rights and privileges enjoyed by all other citizens.  She and Marilyn were going to get married.

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

#478

Flash Fiction #45

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

© Jennifer Pendergast

Title Yard Sale – Read the following short story, and then pick the title you feel best applies.  No extra charge.

IRONY
DICHOTOMY
REDNECKS IN TRAINING
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE
IMAGINE BUM-PING INTO YOU

****

SAME SEX MARRIAGE??!  Over my dead body – better still, over theirs.

These filthy fags parading around – “I have a job.  I pay taxes. I want the same civil rights as everybody else.”  They’re worse than the niggers and Jews.  Niggers are just weak-minded jungle bunnies.  They don’t know no better.  The Jews may be Christ-killing heathens – but these perverts are sinners.

Civil rights??  I say cut their junk off and throw them all in jail.

Here we are at the church.  Take a look at the sign Bobby.  What’s Reverend Larkin’s sermon theme today?  “Love One Another.”  Awww – that’s nice.

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story

People Of Privilege

Bible

Much has been made in the media recently about “White Privilege.”  On the average, white people receive and achieve things better than people of other colors, generally the darker the hue, the greater the exclusion.  This ‘Angel Aura’ thing extends from jobs, wages and promotion, to housing, education, banking/financing, and general treatment by those in power (AKA lighter skin), particularly police.

White men came to this continent, and made it in their image.  They marginalized the Indians and other natives, and imported black slaves.  There were some who did disreputable things for financial and social gain, and there were some who performed unspeakable acts to justify eliminating anyone who ‘wasn’t them.’  Mostly, they did it from the perhaps-mistaken, but honestly-held belief that they and their way of life were superior.

So too, did the Christians come here and mold society so that they would reap the benefits, and all others would be ignored and excluded.  Some questions and comments on my recent Religism post, as well as some predictable “Christmas” articles, show that many Christians just don’t get it – or believe it.

Religism is real.  It’s the hatred of a particular faith or set of beliefs.  Some ‘Good Christians’ hate Jews. Many Muslims hate Jews, and also Christians.  Catholics hate Protestants.  Ego and insecurity drives it, and the hatred is often for the wrong reason, or for no reason at all.

The blind, unquestioning faith in the pre-eminence of Christianity often has its proponents mistakenly claiming Religism, when other groups’ rituals are included in secular life.  A woman writer recently spoke of knowing about Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Wiccan Solstice and the like – but wondered why they would want to celebrate at the same time as Christians, and exclude Jesus.

Because of her (and many others’) assumption of the universality of Christianity, it just never occurs to her that the members of these other religions all have their own year-end celebrations, which they would still practice if Christ had never existed.  A few of them have done so for thousands of years before Christianity came along.

There are the Christian haters who are the equivalent of the bigots who gave blankets infected with smallpox to the Indians, because they regarded them as sub-human.  Most of these folks however, are just the ones who have been subjected to the constant, low-level religious conditioning.  The Catholic Church calls it responsive reading, and catechism.  The Government does the same thing and labels it ‘brainwashing.’

Protecting one’s religious rituals can be a good thing – until you try to force them on others.  Inclusion of what is important to others is not exclusion of any portion of Christianity.  Falsely claiming Religism to justify a Christian-only secular public, makes Christians guilty of the same exclusionary tactics that they accuse others of.

A usually level-headed male newspaper writer pumped out a column labeled ‘Stop Diluting Christmas Traditions.’  It might better have been titled, ‘I ain’t gonna share!  You can’t make me.  I’m gonna take my ball and go home.’  A previously Catholic hospital had gone public.  Now funded by taxes from ALL citizens, it provided care for people of ALL faiths, and none.  They decided not to put up the usual nativity display.  Well, how DARE they??!

He was lost, because he couldn’t parade his faith, and held no-one else’s valid.  “It waves away the possibility of any faith.  It empties our plate, and bids us to eat.”  Actually, it removes the “His-only, a-la-carte” plate, and sets up a smorgasbord of beliefs to sample and compare, but there’s no trying religious chili or curry for him.  He’s a dedicated meat and potatoes Christian.

He complained that, “It’s like trying to speak language in the abstract, but no specific tongue,” apparently unlike me, studying all languages, or in this case religions, and seeing how they influence my favorite.

“It’s not a generic ‘Holiday Tree’, because there’s no generic holiday.”  It’s a generic Holiday Tree because it’s everybody’s ‘holiday’, Christmas included – just not exclusively Christian, even though that’s what he, and many like him, want and expect.  There’s reverse Religism here.  They just don’t see that they’re giving, not receiving.

The history teacher of the 15-year-old atheist son of one of the Free Thinkers was ranting about people who wouldn’t accept “proven historical facts.”  When one of the other students asked for an example, she came out with ‘the proven existence of Jesus Christ.’  School policy prohibits discussion of any single religion.  She was in the wrong, no matter how well-intentioned, or deluded.

Our lad pointed out that there was no ‘historical proof’ that Christ really existed.  “Well, it’s all right there, in the Bible!”  That may be, but no other contemporary Jewish – or Roman – document mentions Jesus, his exploits, his execution or his resurrection.  The boy was sent to the Principal, who chastised him for causing a disturbance in class.  No thinking allowed.  Believe what we tell you.

A local mall has a public meeting room which various community groups can book to present their particular points of interest.  The Free Thinkers recently requested a booking, and were, at least initially told, “We’re not sure you qualify as a ‘Community Group’.”  The Ontario Civil Rights Tribunal has dealt with Sofree(Southern Ontario Free Thinkers) as a community group dozens of times, establishing a precedent.  The president even has the complaint form document bookmarked on his smart phone.  A few keystrokes will rouse the Government to set them straight.

Too often, Christianity acts as a big, unthinking, entitled bully.  While less bloody, the difference between its head-in-the-sand stance, and ISIS’ off-with-their –heads methods, is one of only a minor degree. President Obama recently compared the atrocities of ISIS with the actions of the medieval Inquisition, and the usual suspects immediately began screaming about being attacked, and how dare he compare ISIS’s actions with those of the church.  That’s not Religism, that’s reality.

Flash Fiction #20

 

Salt Flats

 

 

 

 

Take It With A Grain Of Salt

For almost a century, the self-righteous British Raj ran the sub-continent for the financial benefit of The British East India Company. Each year, the rules became stricter, and more numerous.

Now they were told that they could not go to their ocean, and use their sunshine to evaporate the water.  They could no longer “make salt.”

Their leader, the Mahatma, told them that they must non-violently insist on their centuries-old rights. Men were beaten and imprisoned.  Bones were broken, and people died. Still the people quietly rose, like the tide itself.

And so, the great Gandhi gave birth to India.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site, and use her Wednesday picture as a prompt to write a complete story.