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

***

 

WOW #50

Dictionary

I recently ran into the word

ADVERTENCY

I bruised a couple of ribs, but I’ll be okay.

Advertency = advertence: The state of being advertent – aware, attentive, heedful, knowledgeable, perceptive

The modern (somewhat restricted) equivalent is “Woke.”

I have been somewhat covert (covered, concealed) in my production of another WOW. Some of you have been a bit overt (open to view, observable) in your expectations that I do, so I thought I’d introduce most of the bunch. The family name – VERT – comes from Latin, through the French, ouvrir-to open, into English. They all have something to do with showing, or seeing – or not.

With its negative prefix, avert means to prevent something from happening, so that the results are not seen. Similarly, invert means to display something, but upside-down. Evert means to turn something inside-out, and show the inner surface. With an opening syllable that means – in, at or to – advertising points your attention to the presentation of goods that retailers want you to be aware of, and purchase.

We move to psychology to meet the introverts, who keep most of their personalities hidden within themselves, and the extroverts, who fill any room they’re in with their outward glow and conversations. Then there are the members of the family that we usually don’t mention, pervert and subvert. They’re the guys who get to see stuff that they shouldn’t.

My advertency about the term advertency came from a science-fiction book. In it, one planet prided themselves about their citizens’ knowledge and understanding of what went on around them, so that they could make the most optimal, informed decisions. The giant University even taught a course on advertency – how to notice details, be informed, know what was going on.

It all comes down to making reasonable, informed decisions. This is what many Atheists wish that the religious hoi polloi would do. If you want to worship one particular God, or follow the tenets of a specific denomination or church, do it. Just be able to give a better justification, when asked, than, “I have faith.”

Canada and the U.S. – Hell, most of the world – could use a University that teaches advertency. I notice far more things than the average Joe, but I could still use some training in how to do more.

I come over a rise, driving in the curb lane. A block ahead is a bus. I know that it will stop and block my lane, so I move out. The guy behind me now rushes up beside me, almost rear-ends the bus when it stops, and almost sideswipes me, trying to go around at the last minute. Too many drivers ‘drive’ no further ahead than their hood ornament.

If we could just raise the average awareness of citizens, then the uninformed, unaware, extrovert leaders like Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, and Boris Johnson wouldn’t get re-elected. Probably won’t happen though. Jay Leno used to air a segment titled Americans Are Dumb, And Proud Of It! I continue to hope, though. Were you aware of that?   😕

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.

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Joked

confession-box

There is the story of a pastor who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: “I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program.

The bad news is, it’s still out there in your pockets.”

—–

A minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump. “Reverend,” said the young man, “I’m so sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”

The minister chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”

—–

People want the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the center of attention.

—–

The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play.

“Here’s a copy of the service,” he said impatiently “But, you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances.”

During the service, the minister paused and said, “Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up.”

At that moment, the substitute organist played “The Star Spangled Banner.”

And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!

___

 

A carful of Irish nuns are sitting at a traffic light in downtown Dublin, when a bunch of rowdy drunks pull up alongside of them. “Hey, show us yer teets, ya bloody penguins!” shouts one of the drunks.

Quite shocked, Mother Superior turns to Sister Mary Immaculata and says, “I don’t think they know who we are; show them your cross.”

Sister Mary Immaculata rolls down her window and shouts, “Piss off, ya fookin’ little wankers, before I come over there and rip yer balls off!”

Sister Mary Immaculata then rolls up her window, looks back at Mother Superior, quite innocently, and asks, “Did that sound cross enough?”

***

A German Shepherd, a Doberman and a Cat died. (Notice no type of cat was named!)

In heaven, all three faced God.
God wanted to know what each of them believed in.

The German Shepherd said, “I believe in discipline, training, and loyalty to my master.”

“Very good”, said God. “You may sit at my right hand!”
And so the German Shepherd did.

The Doberman approached and declared, “I believe in the love, care and protection of my master.”
Once again, God proclaimed, “Very good! You may sit at my left hand!”
And so the Doberman did.

Finally, the Cat approached and God looked down from high above on his throne and inquired of the Cat, “And what do you believe in?”

The Cat looked squarely at God and replied, “I believe you are sitting in my seat!”

___

 

IS ATHEISM A RELIGION?

Religions

‘Theism’ means ‘belief in a god or gods’. Believers usually sign up to the values and principles of a godly belief system: it’s an ideology. Theistic ideologies are commonly known as faiths or religions. Many ideologies have the suffix ‘ism’; for example, liberalism, socialism, and communism but, in the case of ‘atheism’, the ‘ism’ ending has merely been inherited from its root: ‘theism’. The prefix ‘a’ turns the meaning around to the negative, that is, ‘not a belief in a god’, so ‘atheism’ is as far from a faith or religion as it’s possible to get.

Atheism is not a belief system, so that should end this article right here, but theists will likely not be satisfied. They might point to the things atheists and religions have in common: religions form churches, atheists form associations; churches and atheist associations appoint members to formal roles such as bishop and president; church members give offerings, atheists pay subscriptions; churches hold services, atheist hold meetings. Churches and Atheists both have literature they value and people they admire.

The problem is, these are superficial similarities and if they make Atheism a religion, they make political parties and table tennis clubs religions too. That is obviously absurd.

There is one organization in the United States which makes it their job to decide which group is a religion and which is not, and that’s The Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Religions receive highly favorable treatment in the USA and the IRS wants to avoid giving these advantages to organizations that are not genuine religions. So the IRS has a set of criteria they apply to any group claiming to be a religion. The primary criteria are listed below with how Atheist groups qualify [shown in parenthesis].

  1. Distinct legal existence [Some Atheist groups are legal entities.]
  2. Recognized creed and form of worship [No creed or forms of worship.]
  3. Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government [No ecclesiastical governance.]
  4. Formal code of doctrine and discipline [No doctrine.]
  5. Distinct religious history [No religious history.]
  6. Membership not associated with any other church or denomination [Atheists may join any number of atheist groups.]
  7. Organization of ordained ministers [No ministers of any kind.]
  8. Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study [No courses of study.]
  9. Literature of its own [No literature reserved for one group.]
  10. Established places of worship [No worship.]
  11. Regular religious services [No religious services.]
  12. Sunday schools for the religious instruction of the young [No instructing the young.]
  13. Schools for the preparation of its members [No atheist schools.]

With only one criterion applicable to Atheists (and that one all political parties and many clubs share), the IRS won’t be granting religious tax exemptions to Atheist groups any time soon.

Theists might follow-up by asking why Atheists bother to meet to talk about gods they do not believe in. There are several reasons atheists meet but none of them are to talk about gods they don’t believe in. A common reason, especially in very religious countries, is to find some time to socialize with like-minded people who are not preoccupied with religious beliefs.

In many cases, atheists meet as a reaction against religious intolerance, the infiltration of religious dogma into schools and legislation, or the entanglement of church and state. They meet to get organized in an attempt to combat these religious excesses.

Let’s spell this out; Atheists have no beliefs in common, no gods of any kind, nothing they worship, no scripture, no shared values, and no dogma. They have no clergy, no schools, and no sacred buildings. The only thing all Atheists share is a lack of belief in gods.

Why then do the religious so often claim that Atheism is a religion? I don’t know, you’ll have to ask religious people that question. Perhaps it is to try to establish a false equivalency, an attempt to drag Atheism down to the level of a religion—a set of unsubstantiated beliefs, in a landscape where beliefs are held only on faith. If so, they would be completely wrong about that too. 😯

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – H

AtoZ2019Letter H

What a difference a day makes (click to hear Dinah Washington, if you don’t believe me)– or a single letter. The English language has so many words, that you sometimes need to look very carefully, to be sure that you’ve read the correct one.

That was the position that I found myself in while trying to find a word-theme for the letter H. At first I thought I’d had an old-timers’ moment, and duplicated a word on my list. Closer inspection though, revealed the fraternal twins I’d like to introduce you to.

Hominy and Homily

Hominy [Hom-uh-nee]

whole or ground hulled corn from which the bran and germ have been removed by bleaching the whole kernels in a lye bath (lye hominy) or by crushing and sifting (pearl hominy).

mainly US – coarsely ground maize prepared as a food by boiling in milk or water

RELATED WORDS

porridge, cereal, samp

Origin of hominy

1620–30, Americanism; <Virginia Algonquian

South of the Mason-Dixon Line, it’s often served like mashed potatoes at almost every meal, and the coarser variety is known as grits. Or an egg is mixed into it, to hold it together, formed and baked like a bread loaf, and called corn-pone. Formed into balls and deep-fried, it’s known as hush-puppies. Its look-alike brother-from-another-mother is

Homily [Hom-uh-lee]

a sermon, usually on a Biblical topic and usually of a non-doctrinal nature.
an admonitory or moralizing discourse.
an inspirational saying or cliché.

RELATED WORDS

lecture, lesson, doctrine

Origin of homily

1545–55; < Late Latin homīlia < Greek homīlía assembly, sermon

The similarities go beyond nearly-identical spelling. Again, mostly in the American South, any precept which is not Evangelical Christian ideology or theology has its strong, supporting cover and any germ of an idea removed, ground down, and served constantly as boring, tasteless, mental-conditioning pap.

Dear Lord; You created me with a fully functional, highly capable brain. Please allow me to use it to the best advantage of myself and others. Amen!

 

Book Review #18

Extraordinary Popular Delusions &amp; the Madness of Crowds

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & The Madness Of Crowds

I am ticked off…. or rather, this book is ticked off the reading list challenge that I don’t follow.

It was originally published before I was born – more than a century before. It was first printed in 1841. The copy that I got on an inter-library loan was reprinted in 1980. It had 3 prefaces – the original, a slightly revised version when the author had it reprinted 30 years later, and yet another from the 1980 re-release.

The 1980 instigator was taking a University Psychology course, when he thought he heard the instructor speaking of an old book about The Madness Of Krauts. He didn’t realize that Germans were called Krauts, that far back. A check of the University library showed him his mistake, but since the copyright had long expired, he felt that he could make a little money by having it reprinted.

This book was a disappointment, yet also a delight to me. Even since the ‘70s, there have been great changes and improvements in psychiatry and psychology, but since I only knew of the 1980 publish date, I hoped to get some fairly up-to-date insights into mob behavior. The 1841 composer rendered none of that. He only provided recountings of historical events which were notable for mass delusion.

These included the likes of the monetary bubble, collapse of the Louisiana Investment scam/scandal, the sad failure of the earliest attempt at a German Crusade, and the ongoing hysteria of the witch hunts. While the historical details were interesting enough, he delivered them all with the long-winded panache of someone reciting a Life Insurance actuarial table.

With the German Crusade, 100,000 young men were said to have started out, but only a handful survived, even to reach Constantinople, because of fighting among themselves, and with the armies of states and countries they marched through and denuded for food and drink.

As usual, the section on the witch hunts provided the worst atrocities. It was both a Church and State viewpoint that, “Because of the seriousness of this offence, none who are accused of this horrid crime shall escape torture to make them confess their sins. It is better that a million shall die, than that one witch shall be allowed to escape.”

Even while trying to do good, the well-intentioned did bad. As the witch-hunt frenzy was ebbing, a minor member of British Nobility tried an experiment. He was unconvinced that torture-induced confessions, and especially the naming of other witches, was valid.

He was acquainted and friends with, two Jesuit priests who acted as judges at the torture trials. To convince them of his viewpoint, he used a woman accused and imprisoned as a witch. They all attended the torture chamber, and he acted as interrogator. He had the woman stretched on the rack, and afflicted with the gamut of horrible tortures. Within a day, she admitted that she was a witch. Skillfully using leading questions, he also had her claim that the two Jesuits were wizards, calling them by name.

As they left the building, leaving the poor woman to her undeserved fate, the senior priest said, “It is well that this was done by a friend, rather than by an enemy.” And so, the witch-hunt frenzy slowly died, but not before thousands of innocent people also suffered and died.

This book is old enough to display some of the some of the English language’s spelling shifts. Words like ‘showed’, and ‘shown’ were printed as shewed, and shewn. While it was not what I thought I was getting, still it was an interesting read.