Friday, July 28, 2006

Is this what they mean by Second Coming?

A Christian radio station in California was recently born again, or perhaps I should say, porn again. KFYE-FM in Kingsburg now promises "all sex radio, all the time". Billing itself as "Porn Radio" is plays songs mainly on the basis of suggestive titles or lyrics. Tame songs get spiced up with pre-recorded moans and groans added in.

The new owner is known for pulling stunts to attract attention so the "change" is nothing more than a gimmick. But local Christians, used to listening to gospel and sermons telling them how evil they are, are none too happy. Complaints have already been filed with the federal government. Good Christians can't wait to bring in the strong arm of government to bat someone around. The owner notes that no one was listening to the station before "and obviously now they are or they wouldn't be up in arms about it."

Reminds me of Pieter-Dirk Uys the South African satirist who performed as the drag persona Evita Bezuidenhuit. Evita was his means of ridiculing the apartheid government. Each time he had a new show he would file an anonymous complaint with the censors (only sad little countries actually have censors). The censors would shut him down and eventually he'd get the show back on track but the publicity from the shut down guaranteed a sell out audience.

And the new owner of KFYE knows this as well. The format will change and the "outraged" listeners will get to pick the new format. The songs are not illegal as much as Christians would like them to be. And all are played on other stations with hardly anyone noticing. But call it something like "porn radio" and it guarantees that dirty minded religious folk will now listen in with their imaginations running wild --- and some of them have very wild imaginations, just ask Jimmy Swaggart.

The station only played a few songs and just repeated them over and over. Then the songs disappeared and the new owner was heard saying "Now that we got your attention" and suggesting they call up and leave a message as to what the new format of the station should be. The owner noted: "Everyone gets crazed when you talk about sex. But they will watch body parts flying across the screen every night on television."

True, Americans in particular are very hypocritical about sex. It is one reason teens in the US have some of the highest rates of pregnancy in the world. They sneak around and have sex but can't actually admit to it and thus can't take precautions since that implies they planned it. Better to wing it and hope for the best. One conservative "family values" spokeswoman was overheard saying, at a US right wing confab, that when it came to her teens and sex she didn't want to know what they were doing.

Christians are particularly odd about this issue and I'm thinking now of charismatic or Pentecostal Christians, and in particular the women. I've been to enough of their services over the years (and even preached in a few of the churches many years ago) and I know how those women "love" Jesus. They endlessly go on and on and how much they love Jesus. They call out his name over and over and there is something very sensuous is the way they do it. Their bodies start gyrating and they get more and more excited. It is as if they are working themselves up into a climax and then it comes, they either start shrieking, jabbering incoherently (they call it speaking in tongues) or collapse in a heap. But this is not just an emotional build up followed by release. These Holy Roller women get very physical in their worship. They may attempt to repress their sexuality in general but it is still escaping in full view of the rest of the church. Of course the other worshippers are doing the same thing. It's like a massive orgy but with clothes.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Led by the hand of who?

I can understand why some people cling to the belief in a god, especially a personal god, that is one who directs and controls and protects and even punishes.

I will illustrate with a story. I was attempting to get some service one day while ordering lunch. Suddenly I’m being ignored and the entire establishment goes briefly silent followed by murmuring. My dinning companion leans over to explain what happened because I was facing the opposite direction. He said: “Nelson Mandela just walked in.”

I turned and sure enough Mandela was a few feet to my left. I basically blinked and then resumed ordering my lunch. Apparently the rest of the people didn’t respond similarly. They all stopped eating and stared. Every other person was on their cell phone excitedly telling someone on the other end about this event. I was just happy to get my food and continue with the conversation I was having.

Admittedly it was a small crowd of about 70 people that afternoon. But totally unexpectedly it happened a second time. What were the chances? Except this time I was at a concert with Diana Ross. Once again Mandela walks in. But this time he makes his entrance up on the balcony while Ross is in the middle of a number. The entire place erupts with people pointing. Ross stopped singing and turned around to see what was going on since this time he was behind her. Of course she invited him on stage and he, like all politicians, was not about to say no to free publicity.

We were in the 10th row so we should have had a good view. Except for some reason everyone in the first nine rows were standing on their chairs to get a better view. I sat patiently waiting for the uproar to die down and the concert to resume.

Now consider the concept of a personal god compared to a celebrity. By definition the creator of the universe is a far more awesome concept than any human you can name. If people go bonkers over Mandela then expect a similar thing if they convince themselves that they have a direct line to the All Mighty.

And what is great about this invisible friend in the sky is that one can experience the emotional highs of being in the presence of a celebrity anytime you want. Humans can induce happiness on themselves if they want. They can self-generate depression or ecstasy. They can convince themselves they are ill or that they are experiencing pure joy.

So if they convince themselves there is some deity in direct communication with them they will “feel” his presence. Because they believe they will experience this very strongly. But consider what else they can do.

They can take any decision in life, no matter how mundane, and turn it into an experience with the Almighty. And they do. They may have desires to enter a certain profession. But with any decision there are trade offs. But for the believer it only takes a bit of self persuasion and they can believe that their occupation was picked for them by God himself. They talk about “God leading” them in certain directions.

Now the leadership of this god is really no different from the events all the rest of us experience. Opportunities open up, you find them interesting. You consider them and you make a choice. But imagine the thrill if you can believe that this god is actually directing you personally.

You see this all the time. Christian X has a dozen or so flights he can take to a specific destination. He picks one just as everyone else does who is making the same trip. But if the plane crashes he discovers that “God led him” to pick the flight he picked otherwise he would be dead. If he drives down one road instead of another and either has something good happen as a result, or avoids having something bad happen, he again attributes this to the directions of the deity taking a personal interest in him.

But all of us go through such things. It was only a couple of years ago that I was sitting at home and said to myself that for Christmas I wanted to go someplace special. I was going to take myself and a friend on a holiday of some sort. I spent a couple of hours seeing what wonderful holiday I could find. To be honest I had two main destinations in mind. I wanted to go to either Phuket or Fiji that week. I wanted a warm sunny beach. But buying tickets only a few days in advance can be difficult. In fact it proved impossible. So after discussing options with a travel consultant I booked two tickets to Sydney, which was plenty sunny for me. We got a lovely hotel room overlooking Darling Harbour and set in to enjoy our trip.

We settled in on Christmas Day and then spent Boxing Day (Dec. 26th) keeping busy. We started on a cruise of Sydney Harbour which lasted for hours as we stayed out to watch the beginning of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, one of the most famous such contests in the world. We toured the Sydney Zoo which was interesting but not as fun as being on safari. And after dinner at Darling Harbour we returned exhausted to the hotel room only to discover that a few hours earlier the town of Phuket, our original destination, had been destroyed by a tsunami. And the flight we took was from Thai Air and the fellow passengers with us that day were flying on to Thailand.

It occurred to me that we had been lucky. I had left the tickets long enough to miss out getting a beach resort in Phuket. Perhaps a few days earlier I could have still managed it. But luckily for me nothing was available at any price. It was not so lucky for the thousands of others who had their lives uprooted or destroyed that day. Whatever resort we would have been in was destroyed by the tsunami.

I do not, however, delude myself into thinking that some deity saved this old atheist. Sometimes we luck out and sometimes we don’t. I didn’t feel a god had saved me anymore than I felt he murdered all those other people for no apparent reason.

But the Christian engages in such magical thinking. Everything in life reveals the hand of their god. There smallest decision is now part of God’s plan. He directs them. When a car spinning out of control misses them they attribute the miss to his direction. When it hits and kills someone they love it is God “calling them home”. They sleep feeling safe that there are simply no unexplainable events in existence. There are no mysteries only the will of God. But imagine the sense of importance this gives. It was “God” who turned you into a clerk, petrol attendant or travel agent. There is a belief that each of them are in direct communication with the Creator who is guiding them personally through life. What euphoria that delusion must bring.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Christian harassers whine they are victims.

Fundamentalist Christians have turned into whiners. The more power they grab in America the more they pretend to be powerless victims harassed by others. They cry about it so much they spend more time as victims than anything else.

Take the antics of one group of anti-gay Christian bigots. By the way I am convinced the more they claim to "love" homosexuals the more they, in reality, hate them. I mean hate in the most literally sense of the word. One of the vile anti-gay groups is a fundie outfit called Repent America. These fanatics look for gay events and then go there to harass people who are merely minding their own business. They insult and harass the people attending hoping to elicit a response from them.

The Gay Games are a world event when gay people from around the world gather for an Olympic-like sporting event. No one goes there to harass Christians. In fact most people who attend wouldn't even think of bothering someone else. They are just there to have a good time. But the fundamentalist who vomit out verses of Scripture to attack gays gather there intentionally provoking and trying to be "victimized". Repent America was told this was a private event. Tough shit they thought. They don't respect the rights of others not when their disgusting doctrines and twisted theology is at stake.

If people wanted to protest the event, though why someone would protest a sporting event is bizarre, they were invited to do so in an area specifically reserved for that purpose. They don't have a right to disturb this event just because they have some deluded theology.

According to the extremist World News Daily web site these sad victims of hate were "preaching to a crowd and displaying banners with biblical messages". Right! Would the preaching including insulting and harassing? Would the verses they displayed be idiotic, barbaric texts attacking homosexuals? How much would you want to bet that was the case.

So these Bible bigots stand around taunting and insulting people and when people yell back they rush off whining that they were confronted by "a militant mob of homosexuals". Notice how this assholes are incapable of saying homosexual or gay without some pejorative before it. And they love claiming all gays are "militant homosexuals" while they are just peaceful messengers of God. If you vomit I won't blame you.

Of course the bigots with the Bibles say they were not there to insult or harass. They drone that "these are folks that so love gays that they're willing to spend a significant amount of time and even go to jail so they can tell them that there's hope." Now realize that no one there wanted anything to do with these clowns. But they shouted anti-gay Bible verses because they love. Right. And the Nazis just loved Jews too.

Funny thing is that the militant homosexuals never seem to be out doing the attacks. It's always these loving Christians. Gay groups rarely attend a Christian event, unless it is an anti-gay rally sponsored by Christians. They don't picket churches or try to recruit Christians. But not a major gay event can go by without these hate mongers showing up and screaming their doctrines at people who don't want to hear it. You tell me who is the militant mob? It isn't the people who were minding their own business at a private sporting event. The real militants are people who travel across country just to harass gays. In fact they are so militant they admit they are willing to go to jail just for the opportunity of insulting gays. Over the years I’ve witnessed this sort of harassment myself. I have seen gay parades on three different continents. And without exception some fundamentalist group showed up to taunt and insult gay people purposely trying to egg on a response so they could play the eternal victim.

The divide between education and indoctrination.

The New York Times has an interesting article regarding the number of colleges that historically were connected with the Southern Baptist Church who have severed their ties to the denomination because of the rise of unthinking fundamentalism.

Georgetown College, in Georgetown, Kentucky had been affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention but ended that relationship. Dr. William Crouch, Jr., the president of the college, said: "I sat for 25 years and watched my denomination become much more narrow and, in terms of education, much more interested in indoctrination."

R. Kirby Godsey, ex president of Mercer University says that: "The future of Baptist higher education has rarely been more fragile." Mercer is no longer associated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Sometimes the university leaves and sometimes the fundamentalists push it out. Fundamentalists are demanding the right to appoint teachers and determine what will be allowed to be taught. They insist that their own world view be given exclusive reign on campus and that all other opinions be snuffed out. The dean of the Divinity School at Wake Forest, Bill Leonard, says that the Baptists have "moved so far to the right that previous diversity on the faculty and among the trustees is no longer possible."

But David Key, director of Baptist Studies at Candler school of Theology, Emory University, is more blunt. "The real underlying issue is that fundamentalism in the Southern Baptis form is incompatible with higher education. In fundamentalism, you have all the truths. In education, you're searching for truths."

Never forget that in the fundamentalist mind there is no room for any views but their own. Fundamentalism, whether Islamic or Christian, is inherently authoritarian and dangerous. As Europe grapples with the dangers of having allowed so many fundamentalist Muslims move there America is still too oblivous to the real threat posed by Christian fundamentalist and their war on Constitutional principles of individual rights and limited government. It is no accident that the most fundamentalist president to ever sit in the White House is also the one president who has shown the most contempt for the American Constitution.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Why does death and destruction give some Christians "glory bumps"?

Unless you understand the "dispensationalism" of fundamentalist Christianity you won't understand their thrill over conflict in the Middle East. Dispensationalism is a form of end times beliefs invented by a fellow named Darby. And it was latched onto by the American born again movment. As doctrines go it is a relatively new invention since Darby himself was only born in 1800 and didn't make up his theology on end times until 1827. But among that uniquely American form of Christianity, fundamentalism, it caught on like wild fire.

I myself always thought it odd that some divine being had supposedly plotted out in advance how the world would go. That idea strips humans of free choice and buys into the Calvinist concept of predestination yet the Calvinists themselves tend not to be dispensationalists. Fundamentalism was a movement main out of the American South and was born in the backwaters of a society that was poor and largely illiterate. It was the simplistic form of religion that one would expect from the uneducated and ignorant segments of the uneducated and ignornat section of the United States. Of course fundamentalism spread from there much the way Islamic fundamentalism has spread in the last couple of decades.
Now the fundamentalist is drooling for death and destruction in the Middle East as they believe that there will be some huge war there that marks the end of the world. But before that happens Jesus is supposed to come back and whisk the nutters out of the world and to heaven to live with himself. It strikes me that Jesus would no more enjoy spending time with these fanatical lunatics than the rest of do. Imagine being Jesus and having millions of these nutters getting practically orgasmic over how they love you. Imagine listening to them for etermity going on and on about this love. I'm sure most of us would appreciate the attention for a short while but soon find it tedious. After a bit of this we'd probably go into hiding just to escape the attention. But fundamentalists think Jesus would glory in the constant praise and seek it out for all of eternity. In their mind Jesus is actually a rather shallow individual.

So these fundies are themselves becoming rather raputurous, if you pardon the pun, over the recent Isreali attack on Lebanon. Israel is bombing the shit out of Lebanon and seems to be intentionally inflict as much destruction as possible on the social infrastructure of Lebanon as they can. It is rather shocking to see how these action from a so-called civilized nation. But the born againers love it. Death, they want more of it. Destruction, they relish it. Each corpse is another sign to them that Jesus is coming back.

Harper's magazine has looked at a discussion group for these born again dispensationalists and collected some of the messages they have posted to one another. They truly do love the war. And remember that the White House is filled with these monsters going right to the top! Now if these people love war then perhaps we can now understand how one of their own, George Bush, Jr., a man entirely stupid enough to be born again, could follow a foreign policy that turned a bad situation into one that is truly catastophic. Bush is supposedly one of them. They are the core of what support Bush has left in America. If they are have orgasms over the war is it possible that one of their own has pushed a disastrous foreign policy in the Middle East intentionally knowing it would lead to disaster? Is the meltdown caused by the US invasion of Iraq actually a goal and not an unintended consequence? Here are some of the messages posted by these Christians.

"Praise God! We are chosen to be in these times and also watch and spread the word. Something inside me is exploding to get out, and I don't know what it is. Its kind of like I want to do cartwheels around the neighborhood."

"Got that dancing feeling on the inside of me."

"Whoa! I can sure feel the glory bumps after reading this thread!"

"I too am soooo excited!! I get goose bumps, literally, when I watch what's going on in the M.E.!! And Watcherboy, you were so right when saying it was quite a day yesterday, in the world news, and I add in local news here in the Boston area!! Tunnel ceiling collapsed on a car and killed a woman of faith, and we had the most terrifying storms I have ever seen here!! But, yes, oh happy day, like in your screen name , it is most indeed a time to be happy and excited, right there with ya!!"

"This is the busiest I've ever seen this website in a few years! I have been having rapture dreams and I can't believe that this is really it! We are on the edge of eternity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

" I am excited beyond words that the struggle of this life may be over soon and I can finally be FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!"

This is sick stuff. Just in case you forget what is making these people so happy I have posted a picture of the recent devestation that Israel has inflicted on Beirut.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan

Mickey Weinstein is a conservative from a military family. He was once a White House attorney for the Reagan administration. But these days he is doing something he once thought unthinkable --- suing the military, specifically the Air Force. He was born on an Air Force base and attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs as did both his sons.

It started when he visited the Academy to see his son, Curtis. When he sawCurtis he knew something was wrong and asked him.

Curtis said: "It's not what I've done, Dad. It's what I'm going to do. I'm going to beat the shit out of the next person that calls me a XXX Jew or accuses me or our people of killing Jesus Christ." On approximately 8 or 9 different occassions fundamentalist Christians at the academy have made such remarks to Curtis. One said: "How does it make you feel to know that you killed Jesus Christ?"

Weinstein investigated and talked to hundreds of cadets, past and present, and staff as well. He realized early on it was not a matter of Christian against Jews but of born again Christians against everyone else. A military investigation substantiated what Weinstein had discovered and said that the born again cult simply doesn't know where to draw the line between sharing their faith and assaulting and insulting others. Weinstein says it is improper for superior officers to be pushing their religion on subordinates who are in no position to respond. It too easily confuses things such as the chain of command and confuses military protocol with personal faith. He wants this sort of assault on non fundamentalists stopped. For this he was called the Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan. Other good Christians have called his home with threats which his wife received. She has multiple sclerosis and now has painful "stress-induced" jaw disorder. The family as two attack dogs for protection.

The fundamentalists of today have a total agenda for society -- that is they are totalitarians. They want their religion to have total control of all institutions in society. They admit this. They are a danger to the core values on which America was founded.

Paul: The first modern Christian

For a moment consider a novel I’m writing (not really but pretend for a second). It’s a novel about global warming politics. In it a radical environmentalist group uses the assets of a wealthy donor, and the best technology that money can buy, to set off a series of disasters that appear “natural” and are attributed to the effects of global warming. At this point you may scream: “What a second fella. That’s the plot of Michael Crichton’s novel State of Fear.”

And you would be right. If I published that story I would probably be guilty of plagiarism. I could change the name of the characters, the location of the story, the period when it took place, etc., but if the plot stayed the same it would be stealing.

And that is one reason I am so baffled by Christianity. Most Christian doctrines are nothing new. The idea of the virgin birth, the crucified saviour who rises from the dead and much, much more were beliefs that were lifted from previous cults and sects that were well known in the region. The Jesus story is not unique. I will go into some specifics but first want to make clear what I think, based on the best evidence I can find, really happened.

I think there was some man named Jesus who went around preaching. I don’t think he was much like the Jesus described in the New Testament. Just the unreliability of the Bible itself is enough to make it’s characterization of Jesus open to suspicion. The fact that the earliest shreds of the New Testament were only written decades after Jesus was dead are sufficient reason to mistrust them.

I really doubt that Jesus was anyone special. But I do think he had a small following. That isn’t unusual. Many preachers had such a following. But Jesus had an advocate who did something others didn’t do. He re-branded his product. The old Jesus was unknown to most people. He was almost totally unmentioned in contemporary accounts and the few, very brief mentions he receives, didn’t indicate that the writers thought him particularly news worthy. Jesus was kept alive in the memory of people by his brother James and the sect around him.

About this time a new preacher comes along calling himself Paul. Paul is a clever fellow for sure. He never knew Jesus at all; never met him, never heard him preach, never even saw him except in a “vision” he claimed. Paul wanted to take the Jesus story to places where it had not gone before -- to the Gentiles. So he dug into the mythology that was popular with these “pagans” and adopted it to fit the Jesus story.

Now most of us get our view of Jesus from reading the Gospel. But Paul never read the Gospels, not a one of them. He couldn’t have done this as they were only written after he wrote much of what became the New Testament. So Paul’s view of Jesus is not one based on personal experience or on any contemporary written records. He just made it up as he went along. And the Jesus he invented was very similar to the crucified saviours that cropped up in pagan mythology for hundreds of years.

The Hebrews thought God was a spirit and not flesh. But the Gentiles were used to gods who walked around in fleshly bodies --- such as Zeus. So Paul claimed that Jesus was just like that -- a god in human flesh. The sect around Jesus practiced Judaic rituals including circumcision. Converting to Judaism was not popular as few of the Gentiles were anxious to have their foreskins cut off as adults. Paul simply did away with the practice much to the consternation of James, the brother of Jesus. The followers of Jesus followed Old Testament rituals and rules. Again that was not popular with the Gentiles so Paul scuttled that idea as well.

Jesus was declared a heretic and executed. Some verses in the New Testament refer to him being hung on a tree. The sins of Jesus were religious not political. So the punishment would have been religious not political. The Gospels say he was accused by the Sanhedrin of heresy. The punishment for that was hanging not crucifixion, a punishment that the religious leaders handed out not the Romans. Yet it was claimed Jesus was crucified which was a political punishment. So the Sanhedrin accuses him of heresy but we are supposed to think he Romans then executed him in the style of a political prisoner. Perhaps this was another rebreeding. The Romans were not well loved throughout their empire and having Jesus executed by them would appeal to the Roman underclass that were the main recruits to the new Pauline religion. Rome made a more popular villain than did the Sanhedrin.

Jesus was a relatively unknown, minor religious figure before Paul rebranded him into The Christ. Paul started preaching this new Jesus before the Gospels were written. His letters regarding Jesus are the earliest written documents about the man though Paul himself never met Jesus. Paul had no eyewitness testimony to give as he wasn’t there. He had no records to rely upon yet he preached a new Jesus that produced many converts. His rebreeding was a success. It caught on with the Gentiles. The tiny band of Judaic followers of Jesus were mainly centered in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. And they probably disappeared when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. With the destruction of the Jerusalem followers of Christ the competition to the Pauline view disappeared. The last obstacle to the rebreeding was gone. And once the Pauline Christians gained political power they spent centuries torturing and killing anyone who challenge the fantasies of Paul.

After the sacking of Jerusalem the only thing left was Paul’s teachings and the Gospels which were to only be written later. There is scant evidence that any of the stories regarding Jesus came directly from people who witnessed him themselves. Parts of the New Testament probably date from about a century after the death of Jesus. No parts are contemporary to him. The writers were recounting stories but not stories which they witnessed themselves. They were repeating stories they heard not writing reports of events they saw. The New Testament is a collection of tales told by primitive and superstitious people. But without it’s account the Christian is left with nothing on which to base their faith but the raw emotions they feel, emotions which are self-generated. When it comes to the historical Jesus we know almost nothing!

We don’t know which doctrines he preached and which were ascribed to him. We don’t know which parables he told for sure or how he expressed them. Some think the foundation for the Christ story is an unknown book which was assembled together by one man. He listened to stories recounted by someone who claimed to have known Jesus and told stories about him. After this “witness” died the man wrote down what he remembered. But even this is just a theory. We have no reliable account of Jesus what so ever. And the reason Christians cling to the fantasies and exaggerated tales of this collection of hear say stories is because it is all they have of any substance. But that to which they cling is pure gossamer.

Paul was basically free to invent any kind of Jesus he wanted. Consider the possible evidence that would prove Paul wrong.

Jesus: Jesus could challenge Paul’s views and say he got it wrong. But Jesus had been dead for years before Paul was “converted” and started preaching his doctrines.

The New Testament: It could contradict Paul except it didn’t exist until after Paul started preaching his gospel. So there is no written record predating Paul’s views which can prove him wrong. And “gospels” that corresponded with Paul were accepted while dozens that viewed Jesus differently were dropped. Most Christians don’t even know that there existed dozens of gospels all purporting to tell the Jesus story.

The Church: The followers of Jesus in Jerusalem could challenge Paul. And there is some indication that they did. Paul and James, the brother of Jesus, clearly were in different corners when it came to their theology. But by 70 A.D. the Jerusalem church had been wiped out. The only sects of Christians to survive were those outside Jerusalem and they were “converted” by Paul to his teachings.

The theological coup d’etat that Paul instigated was a success because the Romans, in attacking Jerusalem, had wiped out the only alternative Christianity to that being peddled by Paul.

In the next few postings we will look at some of the Christian doctrines and show how they were merely badly copied pagan doctrines applied to a man called Jesus.

I'm back

After a few side trips and moving cities I'm back. My internet connection is now working and I can again begin posting. I thank the readers for their patience.

Monday, July 10, 2006

You are property.

I have repeatedly argued that religion is inherently against human freedom. Now a Rabbi author seems to agree. The difference between him and I is that he is not troubled by that authoritarian trend. He writes here for Newsweek magazine on “doing life-threatening things for fun.” The Rabbi is basically arguing that people do not have a right to take risks. The reason is simple: you have no right to your own life.

This is the fundamental principle of the religious. Man is property but not his own property. Man is owned by god not by the self. The socialists argue that the state owns you. The religionists argues that the church owns you.

Rabbi Marc Gellman says that in response to the libertarian argument that individuals own themselves, “that there is no such thing as a purely self-regarding act.” Gellman gets to the point: “Religious people, like me, would argue that God owns your body and you re just sort of renting it for the duration of your life and you are thus no more entitled to risk your life than you are entitled to pound nail holes into the walls of rented apartment.”

Follow the logic carefully. Gellman is saying that since your body belongs to God you have no right to take risks. But this means you have no rights what so ever. None. Not a one. You are a piece of property not a self-owning being with rights. I own shoes. My shoes have no rights because they are my property.

And if you have no right to risk your body since you don’t own it then why would you have the right to think for yourself? Wouldn’t the mind also belong to Gellman’s magic man in the sky as well?

If you are property of God then your property can’t really be your property either. It also must belong to God who owns you. Property can’t own property. Property is property. Gellman has basically argued a premise that destroys rights in principle.

Of course God isn’t walking around asserting property rights here. He doesn’t show up in court to assert a claim on you as his property. But there are people who claim to be God’s representatives on earth. The Pope, for instances, says he is the Vicar of Christ. Religious people assert that when they speak they are promoting the will of God.

The premise that the fairy in heaven, which they represent, really owns you means that they are asserting a right to control your life. In principle they are making a blatant power grab. You say they really don’t want such control over others.

Consider the new laws against abortion. They are based on the idea that a woman has no right over her own body. Consider the drive for censorship. It asserts you have no right to consider ideas or images of which they do not approve.

They want to shackle your right to express ideas. They want to control with whom you sleep. They want to control who it is that you are allowed to love. They argue that there is no right for you to take risks as you are not the rightful owner of your life. God, and hence his representatives, make a superior claim on your existence.

At the core they are no different than the vicious Marxist and communists who said you belong to the collective. Any belief that refuses to acknowledge your status as a self-owner is inherently totalitarian.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Corrupting Lady Liberty

There is a tendency of faith to end up relying on force. Politics is force. Government is force. When Christianists or Islamists or others want to rely on state power to achieve their goals what it means is that rely upon force against others. It is inherently violent, or at the very least, contains the threat of violence.

Freedom or liberty is the opposite of force. Keep that in mind as you read of the antics of the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church run by the self-proclaimed "Apostle" Aton Williams. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the buckle on the Bible Belt, this fundamentlist sect decided to remake over the Statue of Liberty. These good Christians spent $260,000 to build a 72 foot high replica of the Statute that has been changed to reflect their values about theocracy -- the opposite of liberty.

This distorted Liberty is carrying the Ten Commandments, part of the Levitcal Code of the Old Testament that advocated genocide among other things. The real Miss Liberty is meant to symbolize Liberty lighting the world hence she carries a torch. The torch has been extinguished on this Christian version and replaced with a giant gold cross. And the word "Jehovah" is transcribed on her crown.

This combination of church and state appeals to the theocrats in this church. And it isn't the first time they spent a lot of money to push their agenda. Previously they have purchased full. The deranged minister who runs this cult has also added a tear to the Statue's face to lament legalized abortion, free speech and the separation of church and state. This minister is one who said that God sent Hurricane Katrina to punish the sins of people in New Orleans. He ignores the absurdity that God, to punish people in New Orleans, destroyed the homes and churches of hundreds of thousands of people all across the Bible Belt. Williams says the "statue proves that Jesus Christ is Lord over America."

That will disappoint Bush. He thought he was Lord over America. But then perhaps Bush also thinks he is Jesus. So who knows.

The great tragedy here is that this cult, by it's editing of Lady Liberty, has turned a symbol of freedom and liberty into a symbol of religios tyranny and oppression. One 11 year old girl, Evelyn Douglass, told the press that she takes a long way to walk home just to avoid seeing the statues. "The Statues of Liberty is a symbol of the United States of America. [Ed.: Not quite is a symbol of liberty in America not a symbol of America but good try.] The cross represents a specific religion. It's not right that they are mixing the two. That church is trashing the meaning of America."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Alive and well

To our friends and visitors from around the globe my apologies for not having anything here new in a few days. I have been traveling. And I have not had access to the internet in a way that allowed me to blog. In fact I was not even able to download emails and had 700 some waiting for me. I suspect 600 of them were for viagra. It seems the ISPs over here are doing a pathetically poor job of spam blocking if they are trying at all!

I did spend the day catching up with some old freinds from the US who are on vacation. Atheists of course! But most people I know are atheists. I tend to travel in intelligent circles.

I am heading from here tomorrow and will be away for another week for a conference. And I have a new flat and have put into motion the requirements to get an internet connection there so I will be back for steady discussion and fun. Please be patient. We shall be back. And unlike some one who said he'd be back I won't keep you waiting over two thousand years. It may be closer to two weeks but I will be back.


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