Childlike Grace

Bible

When I was a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Blogger Barry, in a recent post, said that he’d halted on his path to becoming an Atheist. He does not say that it was because he was taught that Atheists are evil, nasty or sinful, but that is the reason that many ex-Christians won’t admit that they have become Atheists.

Tired of the judgemental, accusatory, denominational bureaucracy and hypocrisy, he still wished to identify as ‘spiritual.’ It is quite possible to be spiritual, without being a member of any Christian sect.  His last stop before getting off the Christian bus, was at Mormon.

He still visited Atheist websites, and admitted that he had remained a Christian. He was amazed at the vehemence of some militant Atheists, who insisted that any and all religions were harmful.  He admitted that, being ‘inside the box,’ perhaps he did not understand the claim.  He asked, if he was not harming himself, or anyone else, how could his being a Christian be harmful?

When we tell small children that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy exist, are we harming them, or society in general? Probably not, or only a minuscule amount.  However, when children get to be 7, 8, 9 years old, we tell them the truth, and show them reality.  To allow them to grow into adults who still believe in things like the Tooth Fairy, can cause harm in a variety of ways.

If an individual or sect is allowed to treat their particular and peculiar superstition as reality, then both the believers and society are harmed. It also inserts the thin edge of a wedge.  If one is, then all religious opinions must be accepted, no matter how strange or unreal.  The more people there are, who treat fantasy as fact when dealing with life and the general public – the fewer people who cannot and/or do not, deal with secular reality – the more harm is caused, both to the believers and to society.

Critical thinking is incredibly hard, but also incredibly important. We can’t learn and grow without it.  We have to question our own ideas and motivations, so that we don’t get stuck on there being only one correct, acceptable idea.

Next comes the slippery slope. Once strange unprovable beliefs are allowed, the holders quickly try to turn acceptance into licence.  If politically powerful enough, they try to pass laws enforcing membership in their sect, and making disagreement with their views into heresy and apostasy.  Kindly old George H. W. Thousand Points Of Light Bush once said that Atheists should not be allowed to be American citizens, or patriots.

My opinion of Blogger Barry’s intelligence and mental strength, based only on reading a few of his posts, is that he is not, and probably won’t ever be, directly harmful to society. Sadly, he’s one in 10,000 – or maybe a million.  There are countless hordes, who are only too willing to use their religion as a justification to inflict physical, mental, emotional, social, or financial pain and damage to countless other victims.

God is for the wise. Religions are for fools.  If only more people would grow out of the childish need for an imaginary friend to protect and guide them, and become adult enough to face the universe and life as it really is, and not just how they wish it were.   😦  😯

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Where’s Willy

No! That title isn’t for a porno-lite blog post.  There are people and websites that allow you to track the movements of certain currency bills.  I mentioned this a couple of years ago, and it happened again recently.  The son received a 5-dollar bill with whereswilly.com on it.  He graciously donated it to my blog-theme account for the mere fee of….a different 5-dollar bill.

Willy 3

Willy 4

“Willy” is/was Sir Wilfrid (not Wilfred) Laurier, whose stern face graces the Canadian fiver.  The smaller local university began as Waterloo Lutheran University.  As they expanded, and outgrew the religious connection, they took ‘Willy’ as their mascot, and became Wilfrid Laurier University, so that W.L.U. remained W.L.U.  (Saves on paperwork.)

Willy 1

I accessed the website, and entered the bill’s serial number. When I submitted the short report of where I (the son) got it, and its physical condition, I got a webpage which showed where it had originated, and how long/how many miles/kilometers it had been on the road.  If you can read the fine print, Americans are invited to play this game by visiting “Where’s George?”

Willy 2

I was the first one to report this bill since its originator set it loose 174 days, almost six months before. As you can see, (but probably not that map) it began its tattooed journey in a town in Quebec called Listuguj, 1185 KM (750 Mi.) east of here, almost to the end of the Gaspé Peninsula, across the river/bay from New Brunswick.  How and why did it get from there to here?

When I found that it started in a Quebec town, I wondered why it didn’t say, “Ou est Willi?” That was explained when I investigated Listuguj.  I thought that it might have Polish or Czech founders, but it’s actually a treaty M’iq M’aq Indian enclave.

Have any of you got bills like this and/or played this game?

Six Years A Blogger

calendar

Six years ago today, November 21, 2011, I burst upon the scene, and published my first blog-post. For H E Ellis, that’s 2192 days, exactly twice the count of my three-year celebration post, because I got to include another leap year.  Even without BrainRants’ interference assistance, they begin to add up.

Scottish Flag

Unlike the movie, 19 Years A Slave, I was not kidnapped and forced into servitude, but one way or another, I’ve become a willing slave to this lifestyle.

This is post number 843. I have lots more jokes for the bi-weekly comedy posts, and, between the 100-word Flash Fictions, and the WOW language essays, I get another post per week.  The A To Z Challenge helps flesh out the schedule.

I’ve just about run out of interesting anecdotes about my childhood, or work history, and, while they piss me off regularly, I can’t risk boring you with oft-repeated rants about religion, whether Christian or Muslim. I may have to soften my self-imposed publishing schedule, and cut back to only two posts a week.

I have a few blog-themes in a Word file, and I hope to get to at least 1000 posts before I have to give it up. Any suggestions or some ‘We’ll Miss You’ encouragement would be appreciated.

Today is the day that the wife goes in for knee-replacement surgery on the second leg. This time, she will be the first surgery of the day, and I have to have her to the registration desk at the hospital by 6:00 AM.

For two old fogies with a strange wake/sleep schedule, this means that, after I publish this post, we may get an hour or so nap, and then leave for the hospital at 5 AM, when we usually head for bed. It won’t matter for her.  They’ll medicate her, and she’ll sleep all day.  Me on the other hand….  😕

She goes in today, and gets out on Thursday. On Friday I have to take her to a physiotherapy clinic.  The physiotherapist(?) for the first knee never touched her.  He just came to the house and handed out Xeroxed exercise sheets.  She recovered so quickly and pain-free the first time, that this time she gets gym workouts immediately.  I’ll probably bore you with tales of She Who Must Be Obeyed-versus-hospital bureaucracy in a week or so.

I’ll be busy/distracted for the next few days. Don’t worry if I’m a bit slower than usual with comment replies, or miss a post.  Things should be back to their normal level of strange by early next week.  I’ll see you then.  Let’s see….What do I owe you??  Comedy??  Okay, laughs it is!   😆

 

Peace Through Stupidity

Shock

Some years ago, shortly after Kitchener built its new (third) City Hall, I had cause to be walking in front of it. On the sidewalk were two earnest-looking young men, with a folding plastic table covered with papers.  Curious to see what was attracting a small group of people, I ambled over.

They were looking for signators for a petition to the Federal Government of Canada, for “Unilateral Nuclear Weapons Disarmament.” The woman beside me grabbed a pen and quickly filled in name, address, phone number and signed it.  Then she stuck the pen in my face, and said, “Here, sign!  It’s a really good idea.”

“I don’t really think so.” “Why not?” she demanded.  “Well, first of all, while Canada has nuclear power plants, we do not have nuclear weapons, or heavy bombers or ICBMs to deliver them.  Also, I don’t think it’s a good idea for ‘us’ to give ours up, if ‘the other guy’ doesn’t give his up.”  She replied, “That’s what this is all about.”

“No, the petition is for UNILATERAL action.  That means that we do, but they don’t.”  Almost crying, she blurted, “That’s not right!”  “No, it isn’t, but that’s what you were in such a hurry to sign up for.” and I watched the crowd dwindle before walking away.

After an 18-month hiatus, caused by a poor choice of restaurant, I recently attended a relocated Free Thinkers’ Sunday brunch. Somehow, they were conned into allowing a World Peace representative to give a ‘little’ talk.  He promised that it would be just a 15-minute AV presentation, but maundered on for over half an hour, killing most of my chances to interact with the other attendees.

First he attacked NATO. Up until 1991, they were a defense against Russia, and the Communist Bloc.  When they lost their raison d’etre, they just became big bullies, and spread out all over the world.  Now they were in Africa, and Asia, invading countries.

Then he segued to the United States, another big bully. The American General who was the liaison to NATO was recalled to the Pentagon.  How our mumbler would know this, I don’t know, but he told the possibly apocryphal story that, on his first morning, NATO guy was approached by another, excited General, who asked if he’d heard “The Plan” yet.

It seems that there was a list of 7 countries that the US would invade over the following 5 years.  He couldn’t seem to keep his facts and/or accusations straight.  First he claimed that they were to be invaded for their oil, then it became just so that America could show its power, and control them.

It turned out that the US only went into 6 of the 7. I don’t know or care who produces oil, but I’m sure of one, and suspicious of another, that they don’t.  Of course, that still leaves him his ‘bully excuse.’

Then he turned on Israel. The US didn’t need to invade, because they already controlled it.  I was going to ask how much oil Israel had, but I remembered that, also about 1991, the Prime Minister of Israel complained, “The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, and when Moses finally led them to their promised land, he picked the one spot in the region with no oil under it.”  And then, a couple of years later, a bit of oil was discovered offshore of their north-western tip.

If the Jews would just ignore those guys in the Gaza, who threw 18,000 rockets at them, and hid behind women and children, all would be peaceful. The Arabs pushed the Jews out of the region in a diaspora, centuries ago, but when the United Nations gave them back a little bit of territory, he felt sorry for the displaced Palestinians, and could support them in their frustration when they promised to use violence to push the Jews back into the sea.

It didn’t even surprise me when he became an apologist for North Korea, going through Libya and Iran to get there. Peter Paranoid Peacenik claimed that both Muammar Khadafy and Saddam Hussein had been threatened by the US, to give up their weapons of mass destruction.  They had given them up, and America had still invaded, and ruined both countries.  Kim Young Psychopath looks at this and sees what happens to countries that disarm, and decides to keep his nuclear weapons – strictly for peaceful protection.

Neither Khadafy nor Hussein, quietly, peacefully or obediently, gave up their weapons of mass destruction.  Libya didn’t even have them.  What they had, were training camps for terrorists, to spread death and mayhem among the Western, Christian countries.  Libya provided money, food, weapons, training and false documents, until a coalition of countries used bombers to convince Khadafy that it was not a good idea.

While Hussein didn’t have the WMDs that George W. was led to believe he had, he very un-peacefully used regular weapons to invade Kuwait, and set fire to hundreds of oil wells, before the United Nations-led coalition forced the Iranians out.

It’s difficult to understand how someone like this could acquire and justify these points of view. Is it ‘White Man’s Burden’, or is it just wishful thinking and terminal stupidity?  The pacifist, Neville Chamberlain returned to England from Berlin in 1938, claiming to have achieved “Peace for our time”, but instead, embroiled most of the Western World in 6 years of nasty war.

‘We,’ – our countries, our militaries, our politicians – are far from perfect (and Donald Trump is pushing the envelope), but I’d far sooner live with/under them, because I can live with them, and not be exterminated simply for having the wrong race, religion or skin color.  I’m not stupid.  🙄

I Confess

confession-box

I went to confession after a long break I was feeling depressed, and life wasn’t going so well, when walking down the street I passed the church. It had been many years since I went to church, and just as long since I last went to the confessional. Perhaps, I thought, getting right with God would help fix my life.

I went into the church, and the dim light and smell of incense brought it all back. I headed for the confession booth and went straight in. Wow, things had changed in all those years.

There was a comfy chair, a small screen TV, the Wi-Fi password. Then I opened the cupboard and inside was a bottle of fine malt scotch, and some cigars! Suddenly the door opened and the priest appeared, and he said sharply “Get out, you’re on my side!”

Or maybe that guy is confessing because….

A thief in Paris planned to steal some paintings from the Louvre. After careful planning, he got past security, stole the paintings, and made it safely to his van. However, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of gas.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied: “Monsieur, that is the reason I stole the paintings. I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.”

***

THE LAST SUPPER

And it came to pass that they were having a glass or two of vino. Jesus looked but only saw 11 disciples. Yet in the place of Judas was a six pack of Guinness.
“What is that?”
“That´s Judas´ carry out” replied James.
“Will he be along later?”
“I doubt it,” said Thomas.
“What about some music? Peter you are the Rock star. Play some heavy metal.”
And Lo, Peter did play some Nine Inch Nails.
“Why are you dressed in all of those dark clothes?” asked Jesus.
“I thought it was a Black Sabbath,” said Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.
It was a great night, though later on Peter let himself down a bit; you should never wait up for the cock.
And in the morning, Jesus Swept.

***

Texas
The Sheriff pulled up next to the guy unloading garbage out of his pick-up into the ditch. The Sheriff asked, “Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch? Don’t you see that sign right over your head.”

“Yep,” he replied. …. “That’s why I’m dumpin’ it here
’cause it says: …. ‘Fine For Dumping Garbage.’ “

***

Ole was talking with his brother Sven, who lived next door, when Sven said, “Ya know Ole, you and Lena should really get some new curtains.” “Vy’s dat?” Ole asked. “Vel last night I saw you and Lena, vel you know…” Ole thought for awhile, then said, “Ha-ha Sven, da yokes on you! I vasn’t even home last night!”

***

On a recent lunch hour, I decided to take a walk down by the harbor. A big wave washed a lawyer off the dock, and he was drowning. Now I was stuck with a moral dilemma. Do I just ignore it, and continue with my lunch – or stay here and watch?

***

 

WOW #19

Icon

Iconoclastic

Definitions for iconoclastic
attacking or ignoring cherished beliefs and long-held traditions, etc., as being based on error, superstition, or lack of creativity:
an iconoclastic architect whose buildings are like monumental sculptures.
breaking or destroying images, especially those set up for religious veneration.

Origin of iconoclastic

Iconoclastic is an adjective derived from the nouns iconoclasm “image smashing” and iconoclast “image smasher.” The Greek noun eikn means “image, likeness,” whether a painting or a statue; -clast and -clastic- derive from the Greek adjective klastós “broken in pieces.” The most famous instance of iconoclasm began under the Byzantine emperor Leo III the Isaurian (c680–741). It lasted from about 726 to 787 and was partly based on the injunction against graven images in the Hebrew Bible (the second of the Ten Commandments recorded in Exodus and Deuteronomy). A second period of iconoclasm occurred in Switzerland, the Holy Roman Empire, France, and elsewhere in Western Europe in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation. Iconoclastic entered English in the 17th century. The modern nonreligious, secular sense arose in the 19th century.

I’ve never really been one to follow the rank and file; especially when I found that ‘rank’ means having a foul, offensive odor, and ‘file’ is an abrasive tool.  To the Brits, a ‘file’ can be a sly, cunning, or artful person, like Oliver Twist’s Artful Dodger pickpocket.  I’ve known a lot of foul-smelling, abrasive, dodgy tools in my time.  I did it my way, long before Frank Sinatra sang about it.

I tried to be part of the sheep herd, but, even before I was out of short pants, I realized that their baa-ing didn’t describe reality. I was a goat among the sheep, and I was often made the goat, when I pointed that out.

Respect politicians??! They put on their bullied, bought, coerced and cozened pants, one nepotistic leg at a time, the same as honest people.  Even the few who start out with the best of intentions, soon are turned rotten or disillusioned.

Respect police??! The people whose enforcement of the laws tends to make them believe that there are two sets of laws, one for you and me, and another (complete with free passes) for them?  I respect the work they do and the Police Forces, but it’s hard to respect a group of folks which include testosterone-soaked alpha-males who severely beat citizens – not criminals, not even suspects, but innocent civilians – simply because they do not immediately, and unquestioningly, obey illegal commands.

I have unkind thoughts and words for officers who take a 6-pack of beer along on a midnight patrol. I regard as unsafe, but typically entitled, an officer who flicks on his cruiser’s lights and siren to skate through a red light, and turns them off again a block later, to turn into a coffee/donut shop.

Save the best for last, because, even the definition emphasises it – RELIGION – which, in this area, means all the many different, mutually incorrect branches of Christianity.   Whether by Atheists, Jews, Muslims, or just another Christian sect, any time the particular and peculiar aspects of any given denomination are questioned or contradicted, there is always the outcry that, “You have to respect religious practices.” Why?  You don’t!  What you really mean is that your religious practices should be respected.  The only reason that the assertion is broadly stated, is so that your group is included.

Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. So also, your faith and reverence does not mean that I must show reverence, when I find your beliefs and ceremonies, rites and rituals to be superstitious, foolish and misguided.  Screw you and your commandment-violating icons and paintings and statues, as you worship and show reverence on the commandment-violating wrong day of the week.

I’m not usually enough of an asshole to go out and actively be Iconoclastic, but when some other asshole proudly shows me “To Serve And Protect”, and I know it’s only to serve his/her own best interests and protect his ass; when someone boasts of their ‘inerrant Bible, or Koran’, or their ‘infallible Pope, or Imam’, then my ‘private opinions’ become a little more public.

A lot of people don’t even form opinions about things that they really should. Many of them hesitate to ‘rock the boat’ by disagreeing.  I’ve never had that problem.  I will call a spade a fucking shovel, and then use it to dig out of the bullshit being spread.   😯

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.  😳