Some Thoughts – Domestic And Foreign

All teachings are mere references.
The true experience is living your own life.
Then, even the holiest of words are only words.
Deng Ming-Dao

To determine the true rulers of any society, you must ask this question; “Who am I not allowed to criticize?”

‘All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician [to keep the hoi-polloi in order], and ridiculous to the philosopher.’

“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon was not an Atheist. He was Catholic and realized how he could use religion to rule the masses.

“Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for Atheism ever conceived.”
Isaac Asimov

If prayer actually worked, we’d see two things:
1 – Ambulances would take patients to churches
2 – Christians would have longer life spans than the rest of the population

Most people are not looking for provable truths. Truth is often accompanied by terrible pain, and almost no-one is looking for painful truths. What people need are beautiful, comforting stories that make them feel as if their lives have some meaning. This is where religion comes from.

My favorite part of the Bible is where God gives everyone free will, and then drowns everybody in a flood for not acting the way He wanted.

CREATIONISM
The idea that we are not related to apes, no matter how many genes we share, but are in fact, descended from dirt.

Religion has at every age kept the human mind in darkness and held it in ignorance of its true relations, of its real duties, and its true interests. It is but in removing its clouds and phantoms that we may find the source of truth, reason, morality, and the actual motives which inspire virtue—Jean Messlier 1704

How many religious people does it take to change a light bulb?
None! They just sit in the dark and demand that you believe that the light is still on.

The cold, hard truth is worth so much more than a comforting lie.

“In religions and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are, in almost every case, gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who themselves have not examined the questions at issue, but have taken them second-hand from other examiners, whose opinions about them are not worth a brass farthing.”
Mark Twain

When you have to ignore mountains of evidence to hold a belief; when your words are those of others to preserve your faith; when you refuse to use logic, to protect your fantasy, your willful ignorance does not make you a unique individual. It doesn’t afford you special consideration.

Actually, it means that you are just plain wrong. It means that you have nothing to add to intelligent conversation. Believers show all the hallmarks of long-term abuse, unable to distinguish threats, fear and degradation, from kindness, love and self-worth.

Atheism says absolutely nothing about the issues of Northern Ireland, Shia/Sunni wars, genocide in Rwanda, questions of religious freedom, stem cell research, or gay marriage.  Atheism is not a belief, it’s not a set of values, it’s not a political movement, it’s not even a platform.  It merely is the understanding that all the religions seem made up.  And since we have no way to figure out if any of them are real, we must deal with life on our own.  We must use our brains.  So let’s quit being dicks to each other, roll up our sleeves, and figure these things out.  And keep making fun of religions.

PopeClown

***

 

The Saddest Funny Story

Sad Emoji

We recently had to attend a funeral service for one of the wife’s sisters. That was only the beginning of the sadness. A nephew of the wife’s sat down opposite us, and related his sad tale.

For about five years, he’s been fighting a neuropathy, a neurological syndrome which has been causing increasing pain in his extremities. First his hands, then his feet, became agonizingly sore. He was up to gobbling eight Oxycodone tablets a day, just to keep the pain level down to a 2.

He married a New Order Mennonite girl who increasingly involved him and the kids in their church. There had been a two-day weekend Salvation Convention. The church brought in speakers to lecture on different sins, and what to do to get rid of them.

After one seminar session, the moderator paired each attendee off with another church member who they were not particularly close to. They were to go to small tables, where each one would confess his/her sins to the other, who would then pray for them and forgive them. Then the process would reverse.

He said that he hunched over the table and told the other man about all his sins. The farmer devoutly prayed for him, and told him that he was forgiven. He said that he suddenly realized that he could no longer feel the continuous pain in his hands and feet. He called the pastor over and told him this, and the whole room had a Glory, Halleluiah, Praise-The-Lord, prayer session of thanks. God had cured him.

I manfully tried not to smirk, and wondered if his posture had kinked, or un-kinked, a spot on his spine, or if the power of suggestion had caused a psychosomatic (perhaps temporary) cure. He might even provide the possibility of a God-answered-prayer miracle. I was all ears!

He continued his tale. He can now not feel anything with his hands. His legs are numb from the knees down. When he had to call an ambulance for his wife’s apparent heart attack, he stood outside for ten minutes, in a foot of February snow in his bare feet. This condition is dangerous, especially for him, because he works in HVAC. This is like leprosy, or diabetes. If he cuts or burns himself and doesn’t notice it, he may have to have an amputation, if infection sets in.

This is the normal, worsening progression of the disease. GOD didn’t cure him, but he believes that happened. I just sat there in stunned disbelief, thinking that it was his belief that was stunned.
What’s the problem with a comfortable delusion?
There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Flash Fiction #196

Oy

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

OY

Trump doesn’t govern well because he has poor advisors – not that he listens to anyone. The guys who really know how to run the country are all cutting hair, or driving taxis. The difference between a good haircut and a bad one, is two weeks. The difference between a calm cab ride and a butt-clencher, is prayer.

What was the DMV thinking, licensing these guys?? They drive like they were still in Beirut or Mumbai.
AAAHK – WATCH OUT FOR THAT BUS!!

I’ll just cover my eyes and hope for the best. I picked a fine time to be an Atheist.

***

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

Friday Fictioneers

‘18 A To Z Challenge – C

Challenge '18 Letter C

Druid

My Scottish ancestors were doing just fine, until the Christians came along with fire and sword.

Caim – (n.) Sanctuary. An invisible circle of protection drawn around the body with the hand, to remind one of being safe and loved even in the darkest times.  The index finger of the right hand was to be extended and pointed at the ground to do this.  It was to be drawn clockwise, as God has made the sun and moon rise and set.

The Irish and my Scottish Celtic ancestors lived a naturalistic existence, close to the earth, the plants and the wildlife.  Then along came the Christians.  They would have none of this mystical hand-waving.  They wanted their own brand of mystical hand-waving.

First, the spelling and pronunciation was slurred to ‘Cain.’  In their mythology, Cain was the first murderer, and an evil person, a servant of Satan.  No-one was allowed to be saved or protected by such an evil spirit.  Union rules said that all such work went to Jesus.  The word ‘Caim’ still exists in the Scottish language, but it now describes a Christian prayer for protection.

The Celts were already well aware of the motions of the sun and the moon, but the Christian ‘God’ even creeps into the historical definition, by making them do so.  I noted that the definition is Northern-centric.  In the Northern hemisphere, the apparent movements of the sun and moon are clockwise, from left to right.

When this word was born, the Christians had not yet invaded the Southern Hemisphere, where the counter-clockwise, widdershins, motion of the Heavenly bodies was obvious, and correct.  I wonder what the Christians would think of that??  (Oops, I used the words ‘think’ and ‘Christian’ in the same sentence.)  😯

Click here http://branawen.blogspot.ca/2011/09/celtic-symbolism-casting-ring-of.html caim, if you’d like to have a look at the research for this.

I’ll have a little bit of lighter humor in a week.  Hope to see you there.

 

Incommunicado

 

Bible Dictionary

 

 

 

 

 

Is there something about religion, especially Christianity here in North America, which warps reality, halts comprehension and communication, defeats logic, and fans the flames of paranoia? There’s definitely something which fertilizes the feeling of entitlement, and encourages complaints about the expression of any unwelcome facts or opinions.

After my Dazed And Confused Op-Ed post, letters kept trickling in from Christians, dismayed and defiant, about things that were not said, and claims that were not made.

I was away on vacation, so I’m not familiar with what led up to the last letter about prayer. But two thoughts come to me in reading it, the first is that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

The second thought I have is that Christianity and its beliefs seem to be fair game these days for skeptics and pundits alike. We would not tolerate a public discussion of another religion’s deity or its practices in the glib and derisive way the writer does. Irreverently speaking or writing about God amounts to blasphemy, and I for one am offended by it.

So, you don’t know what’s going on, but you’d like to add your 2 cents worth anyway. I don’t see how you relate ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ to the previous letter, but you prove that it applies to your own.

Christianity is not the only religion these days which is fair game for skeptics and pundits, but it’s the one closest to (your) home. When you publicly broadcast your blind faith and belief without any proof, you create skeptics in job lots.

There’s no glib and derisive treatment of any other religion? Really??!  There’s even a word for it – Islamophobia.  Perhaps you’ve noticed some other ‘Good Christians’ doing it.

Speaking of ‘a little knowledge’ – a pundit is a learned person, not merely some street yob, spray painting anti-religious graffiti.  Scientific studies prove that most Atheists and Agnostics know more about Christianity than most Christians, often including priests/preachers.

Merely writing about what God (allegedly) does, or does not, do, is a statement of fact, not an irreverence. It is not blasphemy.  (See ‘little knowledge’, above)  Other people have faith and belief that your ‘God’ does not exist.  Respect their opinions.  I am offended that you worked so hard to be offended.

Pray? What For?s writer does not realize that those of us who pray do not need to justify it to him or anyone else, for that matter. Prayer is simply a relationship with or a conversation with God. He must know this, but for some reason seems to need to attack those of us who pray. And to attack people because of religion or because we pray for those affected by Irma is a new low. Perhaps this says more about him than it does about anyone else. He is free not to pray but those of us who do are doing just fine. Who is he trying to convince that prayer does not work, him or me? He should remember the saying that, “There are no Atheists in foxholes.” and it seems to me that someday he will realize this.

Despite your fevered, misplaced paranoia, the writer – Did not ask or expect anyone to justify their praying. – Did not attack anyone, especially for praying, or for their religion, or praying for the victims of Hurricane Irma. – Did not suggest that anyone must stop praying – though I doubt that he’ll join you.  You even admit that it’s “simply a conversation with God,” not actually productive.  What he did, was point out that, after all your self-congratulatory, self-satisfied praying – the Southern U.S. is still a mess.

Much of it is still flooded. Hundreds are dead.  Hundreds of thousands are without homes, food, water, and clothing.  Billions of dollars of property damage has been inflicted.  A National Day of Prayer has been held, and your God is throwing another hurricane toward Florida.  Aside from making yourself feel good – YOUR PRAYER CHANGED NOTHING!

Even if, somehow, some Southern victims were aware of your prayers, they might still give you the evil eye and ask why you didn’t donate – money, food, clothing, your time and energy to drive or fly down and help clean up and rebuild. Organizations like Red Cross and FEMA are doing that – without all the useless, feel-good prayers.  (Your perhaps imaginary) God helps those who help themselves – and others.  Get off your prayer beads and actually do something – besides whining about how attacked you feel.

An Atheist in a foxhole might strongly wish that there were a God, a Heaven, and a life after death. If wishes were horses, then beggars might ride.  Faith is when hope replaces reason.

Dazed And Confused Op-Ed

Extra Extra

PRAY! BUT TO WHOM?

Re: ‘Pray for everyone in Florida-Sept. 11

Who would not want to respond to the heartfelt cry from Florida Gov. Rick Scott? It calls to us again in this harrowing description of Irma’s relentless advances, indeed a terrifying and devastating onslaught.

Pray! But to whom?

The U.S. Supreme Court has banned prayer in schools. In Canada, courts found that the use of The Lord’s Prayer in schools infringed on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Defining the above rulings, as has been done, to mean that teaching religion in school is illegal, teaching about religion in school is legal, has excited argument rather than agreement.

Veteran education journalist Linda K. Wertheimer has written a book, “Faith Ed: Teaching About Religion in an Age of Intolerance.” She explores the diversity of cultures and religions as they meet in the classrooms and community, with many stories of teacher-pupil episodes, as well as parents getting involved.  Pray! But To Whom?  That’s a book I plan to read.

Cora Wright

Cambridge

***

Pray Where?

Cora Wright’s Sept. 16 letter confuses and disappoints. “Pray! But To Whom?”  Doesn’t she know?  A clergyman could direct her.

Perhaps she could pray to an English teacher, who would help her differentiate between ‘where’, and ‘to whom.’ She expends much ink and angst, listing public places where the Christian religion may not be monopolistically imposed on the multicultural population.  She fails to mention her chosen place of worship, the privacy of her home, or the sanctity of her own mind.

As for whom she may pray to, in these locations she is free to pray to God, or Yahweh or Allah or Zeus or Odin, or The Flying Spaghetti Monster. It doesn’t really matter.  The observed results are all indistinguishable from random chance.

Yours truly

Grumpy Old (logical, freethinker) Archon

***

Aside from my negating arguments above, here in Ontario, in schools run by the Catholic School Board, teaching religion is still legal, although this unique privilege is being considered for cancellation. Catholic schools accept non-Catholic students (to increase their declining enrollment-generated Government grants), but they, and even Catholic students, are allowed to opt out of religious studies.

In both the American, and Canadian rulings, what has been banned is the exclusive use of Christian prayers, to the omission of all other religions.

While her letter seems to show her as open-minded, she puts a lot of energy into the Christian faith.  She may be surprised and disappointed when she finds that Wertheimer’s book doesn’t treat Christianity as an only child.

***

Someone else had a Word to say.

Pray? What For?

Re: Trump’s National Day of Prayer

If we are to believe our religious friends, everything that happens is the handiwork of their all-powerful God. If this were true, it would be logical to assume that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were the creations of their omnipotent and loving God.

With this in mind, I find it difficult to understand the declaration by Donald Trump of a National Day of Prayer, following Hurricane Harvey. It is a mystery to me what the prayers are meant to accomplish.  The devastation and destruction having already occurred to lives and property, it seems illogical to appeal through prayer to the very entity that created these hurricanes, guided their paths, and allowed said devastation and destruction to happen.

It is noteworthy that Trump did not declare a second National Day of Prayer following Hurricane Irma. Perhaps he was not impressed with God’s response to the first one.  😳

 

Horse Sh…Play

Clown

My life has been built around humor and comedy. I’m a great believer in amusement and entertainment.  I’m all for fun and frivolity.  Want to get into horseplay?  I think you’re a stupid asshole!

Sooner or later, horseplay ends in injury, damage or death, often sooner than later. At least, most times it ends there.  There are people (I’m sad to say they most often have an XY chromosome mix, though not always.) who go beyond asshole on the stupid scale, and continue.  Almost every workplace has a rule against horseplay.  There are good reasons for that.

The young man who formed the vinyl parts on my auto plant line was quiet and well-behaved. Management changed the part we did, and now we required two formers.  The second one we got was an industrial strength asshole.

The line beside us had four young women behind the press. He and one of them immediately started throwing small, hard balls of vinyl at each other.  One day he said to Mr. Niceguy, “Here, toss this at Elaine.”

He did so….just in time for Janet to step around the press, and get hit right in the eye. The guy who had never before thrown anything, got a written reprimand, and we had a lost-time accident after six months injury-free.   BTW, Mr. Asshole continued throwing stuff.

We bonded thin vinyl to foam rubber, then cut pieces out, usually discs, to fit over steering columns, etc. One of the parts had a steel support added, about the size of a cell phone.  Four protruding feet were hammered over like staples.  One jokester came by and found one near the supply crib.  He picked it up, yelled at our installer, and then scaled it toward him like a Frisbee.

It would have landed six feet short, and clanged across the floor.  Spinning in the air, it looked just like a soft rubber knockout, so my guy stepped forward and caught it in his bare hand.  Fortunately there was no blood, but their friendship was strained for several days.

When I worked at the steel warehouse, management had Southern Ontario carved up into six sections. One outside salesman serviced each piece.  The Inside Sales Dept. had one clerk for each of them.  It was a most redundant system in my opinion.  Three or four bodies could have easily handled the volume of calls, but I guess one-on-one ensured familiarity.

It meant that there was often a lot of free time. Two of the clerks were in their early 20s, like me.  One of them was a convicted kidder.  If anyone was away for washroom or coffee break, and there was a call, another clerk took name and number and left a note, for the customer to be called back.

There are two local Universities, one of them Lutheran. A call-back note might get you the recorded ‘Prayer of the Day.’  With the African Lion Safari fifteen miles away, another note might tell you to call a number and ask for ‘Leo.’  The other University had a Performing Arts Department.  They had a dedicated line that you could call to purchase tickets.  When shows were not running, it played recordings of things like ‘Money, Money, Money’ from Cabaret.  All very amusing.  😳

One day, the fall guy returned to his desk and found a note. A Mennonite he’d never dealt with had decided to set up a metal fabrication shop, and wanted to order a significant amount of material.  When he phoned back, he was answered by a Mr. Bierschbach. (Beersh-bock)

Expecting another prank, he heard ‘Beer Box’, a 24-bottle case, so he went along with the joke.  He told the customer that his name was Carling Labatt, the names of two of Canada’s largest breweries.  This wasn’t terribly unreasonable.  At the time, Carling Bassett, a young female member of the brewing clan, was well-known in figure-skating.

The call went on and on, with him nodding and agreeing, and calling the new customer Mr. Beer Box – but not writing a thing down. When the kidder returned, he had a big laugh about his ‘buddy’s fake call.’

After being assured that the call was genuine, and given the man’s name and pronunciation, he then had to call him back and apologise and explain – and write down the entire order. This was not a good introduction for a new client.  If there’d been another, sufficiently-large local warehouse, I’d have gone with them.

It’s all fun until somebody loses an eye – or a customer – or their job. Fun’s fun, but this ain’t it.  Horseplay is for horses’ asses.