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.   😛

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Ars Est Celare Artes

olympic-rings

The above title is a Latin motto which means ‘The Art Is To Conceal The Arts’. To properly awe an audience with the performance of a difficult task, it is often necessary to make it appear easy.

A comedian, commenting about the Olympics, said that all he understands about gymnastics is this; he hopped into the air, and landed on his feet, perfectly erect, and said, “That’s good!”  He hopped into the air again, and landed leaning slightly backward, so that he had to put a foot back to keep from falling over, and said, “That’s bad!”  To win gold, you have to make it look easy.

I recently had the chance to read the beginning of an online novel by a writer who, like many of us, hopes to be a published author. He’s a member of a highly respected profession.  He’s intelligent and well educated.  He has a (reasonably) good vocabulary and grasp of grammar and composition.  What he is not, is an author – or writer.

I only managed to read the first three paragraphs, before I had to stop, or suffer nausea and vertigo. Here are the three paragraphs.  Remember to take Gravol. (Americans may take Dramamine.)

You are on the beach, watching the swaying of the waves. The waves sweep across the steeps like a flock of stampeding sheep speeding over the steppes, the snaking waves hissing over the driftwood steeped in the sandy wrack.

A squadron of gulls lifts uneasily into the air and then dissipates against the grey sky. You look meaningly at the gulls. They hover, the flurry of gulls. The gulls lull heavily in the air, squealing their dull squeals.

You incline your head downward and stare at the inrushing waves, each one a hungry-mouthed sheep, coming toward you ravenously. The water is deliquescent twenty feet from the shore. Beyond the shoal the surface seems lacquered, solid, unbreachable, enameled, brackish, thick, as if it were a spreading mass of viscous aquatic jelly. From the shore you cannot fathom, through the spume lid, the pelagic fathoms. The lake’s lid is swarming with wavelets, each one undulant and alive—afroth, the lake’s lip, frosting wisps.

That opening is almost as bad as, “It was a dark and stormy night.” This thing has more verbiage slathered on than icing on a Wal-Mart birthday cake.  This is like the parlor of a Nevada brothel – cheap, gaudy and ostentatious.  Typos, overdone alliteration, excess words, redundant words, repetitive words, overly ornate words, eight-dollar words, employed to seem interesting and impressive, but used incorrectly.   Steppes, and steeps, and stampeding sheeps – oh my.

To ‘look meaningly’ is to use a facial expression to convey information to another person. You cannot look meaningly at seagulls, because their tiny bird-brains don’t get it. And speaking of seagulls, I can think of five verbs to describe the noise they make.  ‘Dull squeals’ is not on the list.

Deliquescent means; The process of a solid dissolving or becoming liquid through the absorption of moisture from the atmosphere. That obviously is not happening here. It’s a good, solid, proud word.  It’s just hanging out in the wrong neighborhood.

Instead of smooth, clear, economical communication, this writer seems to have gone out of his way to confuse and impress, and say, ‘Look how much work I went to, to attract and hold your attention.’ It is not concealed. (But it should be!)

spacehounds-of-ipc

I recently re-read E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Subspace Encounter. Doc was the mentor who taught Robert Heinlein much about writing.  An engineer by trade, Doc always used the exactly correct word, and the exactly correct number of words.

In this book, he has Mankind meet another galactic civilization. Physically, they are Human, but their society is vastly different.  Not cruel, but they are pragmatic to the point of making the Spartans look like soft amateurs.

To identify their empire, he coins the word ‘Justiciate.’ This is literary irony.  It is like referring to The People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea.  It is not ‘for or by the people.’  It is not a democracy, and it is not a Republic.  There is little ‘justice’ in a society, where the ruler of 180 planets is identified as the Supreme Tyrant.  And the supreme ruler of the red-skinned sect, who wants to kill 90% of those of other skin colors and keep the rest as slaves – identifies himself as The Grand Justice.

Having invented the Justiciate, Doc went on to invent an interplanetary monetary unit for them – the Junex, meaning the Justiciate Unit of Exchange.  For an imaginary empire, he created imaginary money to give believability.  No sheeps or steeps or gulls were needed.

As a young adult, I missed much of his precision. Re-reading it now, with life experience, I have a greater appreciation.  He made it look easy, when it really wasn’t.  I’m glad Jim Wheeler made me do it.  😀

Ironically Christian

I found a Saint Jude’s medal the other day….and laughed until I could barely breathe.  I guffawed until I was bent over, and my sides hurt.  Why all the mirth and merriment you ask, at least you’d better, if you know what’s good for me.

At first, I thought that I’d found a dime wedged behind a railing at a French-fry wagon.  It was small, round and shiny, with printing on it.  Not until I read it, did I realize what it really was.  I keep my eye open wherever people handle money, and am often rewarded with a stray coin.

People often won’t bother to bend down to pick up a dropped penny, and now the Canadian penny is on its way to extinction.  I also find nickels, dimes, quarters and sometimes even bills.  One day I got 40 pennies from the overflow chute of a coin-counting machine.  My best day was when I picked up a hundred-dollar bill that two other shoppers had walked on, at my Detroit Meijer’s.

The first irony is that someone lost a St. Jude’s medal.  The Catholics followed Church instruction, and, for years, prayed to St. Jude, among their plethora of single-use saints, to help them find lost items.  That’s the second piece of irony.  St. Jude is not the patron saint of lost things; he is/was the patron saint of lost causes.  That’s the third piece of religious irony.  If finding your car keys is a lost cause, what good would come from praying to the guy who represents failure?

I was going to use the word final, but will settle for fourth, because the Catholic Church, and all churches, and all religions, are a rich source of irony and hypocrisy.  The fourth bit of irony is that, after years – centuries, of mindless Church-ordered supplication to St. Jude, the Catholic Church downgraded him, just like the Astronomical Society did to poor minor-planetoid Pluto.

Despite being the go-to guy for the church, apparently they did some checking on his marriage licence.  They found that he didn’t have one.  In a time and place where it was common to take a wife without the Official Blessing of the Church, Jude lived with a woman in a common-law relationship.  After having centuries to discover that fact, and despite the good that the Church claimed he did, suddenly the Unchanging Church revoked his sainthood.  It is now especially ironic that he represented lost causes.  Now, if you lose your car-keys, you have to pray to your husband or wife.  Sorry Jude, no offence.

From this general area of the planet, the Catholic Church has appointed its first Native American (Indian) saint.  A woman, no less, she was born in northern New York, and lived near Montreal.  I don’t know what the big rush is, she’s only been dead since 1680, but you know the Catholic Church, always right on top of things.

She is Saint Kateri, AKA Katherine, Catherine and Kateri Tekawitha.  I’m not sure what she did to win on the big Church show, “So You Think You Can Bless,”…. or was it, “Anointing With The Stars”?  Perhaps she helped Sacajawea get Lewis and Clarke one of those, Buy One Bison, Get The Second One Free, coupons at Wal-Mart.  The Church claims that a young man in the 1700s was cured of smallpox, by being touched with a piece of Kateri’s decayed coffin.  Of course, the beneficent Church insisted that he renounce Protestantism, and become a Catholic before they would treat him.  Sort of the same loving game they played with Pat Morita in 1943.

I’m not sure why, but a local school, full of white kids, was named for this Indian woman, who lived five hundred miles away. The name used to be The Blessed Kateri School.  Now that she’s been given a big promotion into management, the local Catholics want to bask in all the reflected glory they can get.  Despite her only being “Blessed” when the school was named, and the expenses involved, the Church is upgrading the name to The Sainted Kateri School.  I wait for scholastic results to rise.

As you may have surmised, I am greatly underwhelmed by the bureaucratic side of religions.  The reason that I take the occasional swipe at them, is that I unthinkingly believe that they deserve it.  And we all know that the churches are big on unthinking belief.

Feel Free To Think

I’m sitting here staring at my own title with ironic amusement.  I know what I want to say.  I just can’t seem to marshal my thoughts to say it clearly and tactfully.  Well, that’s the beauty of electronic editing, I can always change it.  Here goes.

I took the daughter to another meeting of the Free Thinkers Society.  It is possible to be a free-thinker and still be a Christian, although many “Good Christians” and all “Good Catholics” will deny that.  Free Thinkers, atheists, agnostics and *science* don’t wish to be enemies of Christianity, but they are all thinkers, and Catholicism in particular, denies the right to think for yourself.  I commented to my *recovering Catholic* wife, one time, about reading a Bible passage when she was a child, and was astounded to find that Good Catholics are not permitted to read the Bible.  They might *misinterpret* it.  They had to wait for a priest to tell them what it meant.

With the Catholic Church at the top of the list, all Christian denominations present their particular set of views, as a monolithic whole, indivisible, and unquestionable.  The Catholic Church rails against “supermarket religion”, and says that its followers can’t pick and choose what they will and will not believe.  Yet the same church picked and chose among divinely inspired gospels, written at the same time, by the same group of holy people, and found among the same scrolls.  The Church included in the Bible the ones which solidified their position and ignored the ones which did them no good.

The Catholic Church changes its dogma from time period to time period, and from place to place, yet its followers are expected to believe that it remains uniform.  I worked with a young woman who was the child of an English Catholic couple who had moved to Canada.  In England, when a child was taken in to be baptised, any name could be chosen. 

They had picked the name Lynne for her, but the priest demanded to know what saint’s name they had chosen.  He told them he could not baptise a child without a saint’s name.  He told them that they could pick any holy name except Jesus or Madonna.  Under time pressure, they chose Virginia, after the Virgin Mary.  Every third Latino is named Jesus (hay-sues), and the Detroit Madonna is still trying to keep British riff-raff from walking through her back yard.  The British Catholic rules are not observed in Canada, and Canadian Catholic rules are not obeyed in the US, or south of its borders.

It is said that some people believe they’re thinking, when all they are doing is rearranging their prejudices.  A recent column in the local paper would be amusing, if the writer wasn’t so darned serious.  He doesn’t say that he’s a vegetarian, just that he’s a member of Toronto Pig Save.  What he doesn’t say is as telling as what he does say. He wants to prevent pigs from being trucked and slaughtered at a large Toronto plant.  He plays the same language games that the churches play, and, to one who pays attention, sounds just as foolish.  He tries the *Own the Definition Gambit*, but fails, quickly and miserably.

He immediately stakes out the high ground by asking, “Is it moral to slaughter pigs just so we can have bacon?”  He quickly reckons that most Canadians would answer yes, to this.  “Moral” means actions or behavior based on right and wrong.  He would like most people to think his viewpoint is right, but morality in this case is subjective and the majority says he’s wrong.  I’m happy he’s got a hobby trying to save pigs, but he never mentions cows, steers, veal calves, turkeys or chickens.  Why so much heat about hogs, while ignoring the rest?

He writes about people from his group standing on the street, taking pictures and videos of pigs on their way to the slaughter-house.  He points out that the temperature one day was 36C (95F), and the trucks were not air-conditioned.  It would be illegal to leave a dog in a car on such a day – but a dog would be sealed in a car, whereas the pigs were in a trailer with airflow though many openings.  In fact, the pigs would be covered by the top of the trailer, and probably a lot cooler and more comfortable than the idiots out on the sidewalk taking pictures.

He feels the answer to his question above might change if the word pigs were changed to puppies.  Now he’s trying to play the *Define Cute* game.  Someone said that, if baby seals looked like lobsters, no-one would say a word when they were clubbed to death.  He says that pigs are notoriously smart, and have a habit of looking you in the eye – as if to say, “I know what you have in mind for me, and I’m disappointed in your lack of character.” He need have no such worry.  I’m sure even the pigs consider him quite a character, standing out in the sun, peering into passing trucks, in an attempt to change the millennia-old eating habits of the human race.

While I’m sure he wants to keep the pigs from being slaughtered, the main thrust of the article is their handling and transportation.  He complains a couple of times about the lack of air-conditioning.  How would he suggest they be delivered, one at a time, in limos?  That would stop people from eating pork.  It would drive the price as high as a communications satellite, with beef and chicken right behind it.

Do you want to be fed, or do you want to be Nice?  Here’s a nice tofu sandwich while you consider.  Pigs also provide ribs, roasts, stews and sausage.  Ignore that man behind the truck wheel.  Just click your heels twice and return to brunch.  He wrote a nice (there’s that word again.) little feel-good article.  I just don’t think that much thinking went into it.