Showing posts with label christianity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label christianity. Show all posts

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Incomprehensible Catholic Arguments For Opposing 'Gender Theory' Published Days After Trans Teen's Tragic Death

By Tim Evanson from Washington, D.C., USA, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
There's a horrendous piece of theological gobbly-gook over at The Catholic World Report by Bill Maguire. The website chose to publish just three days after transgender teen Leelah Alcorn tragically killed herself.  (An online letter penned by her detailed that she could no longer bear living as a transgender child in a deeply Christian family.)

Here's the title of this piece:

Christmas Season and Gender Theory: The pernicious ideology of so-called “gender theory" is a rejection of the gift of our bodies and, ultimately, a rejection of the Giver

Because of the mention of Christmas, it appears that this was not meant as a direct response to the death -- unlike Michael Brown's dreadful piece. Still, it offers a window into a cold, logically abstract, disconnected from reality, and utterly incomprehensible theologically inspired 'response' to the pernicious ideology of gender theory. Ideology? Could you imagine being a transgender teen trying to get some sort of insight from this article?
Christ did not come as a pure spirit with the mere appearance of a body; nor did he come as an androgynous person. Rather, he came as a male-person. Jesus took on real human flesh and united his real human body and soul to his divine Person. The Incarnation, then, plunges its roots back to “the beginning,” back to the sacrament of creation. When the eternal Word became flesh, he reaffirmed the two fundamental words of his creation: male and female. And in reaffirming these two words of creation, these two ways of being human, Jesus reaffirms the sacramental function of the body: to bear the image of God in the visible cosmos through the dual-unity, the unity-in-difference of man and woman.
Confused yet? How about this.
Gender theory, then, insists on rejecting the symbolism of the body in its masculinity and femininity. Interestingly, the term symbol comes from the Greeks words sym+ballein, which means “thrown together.” Thus, gender theorists are in fact trying to put asunder what God has joined together: the body, in its masculinity and femininity, as the visible sign of the invisible reality of who God is (an eternal communion of three divine persons) and the nature of his love for humanity (spousal—the love of the Bridegroom for the Bride).

In a real sense, then, gender theory is diabolic. The term diabolic comes from the two Greek words dia+ballein, which means to “throw apart” or “separate.” In Christian theology, the diabolic is that aspect of evil which tears apart and fractures. Gender theory tears apart the body and the soul; it fractures the personality and causes alienation between one’s identity and one’s body. It is, moreover, diabolic in a second sense. Gender theory enshrines as its first principle a Promethean will to power: it introduces a rivalry between God and man in that it presupposes the rejection of God and his created order—the given order of the body in its masculinity and femininity—as the precise precondition for the authentic exercise of freedom and self-realization.
It was difficult for me to choose parts to highlight from this because pretty much every paragraph is just as intensely confusing as the previous. None of it seems to be the slightest bit rooted in reality.

I'm from a Latin-mass-going Catholic family myself. I'm now trying to imagine now, if I were transgender rather than cis (and still religious), what I would make of this. How could I even begin to unpack these sorts of arguments which are rooted down to their foundations in Catholic theology.

To be honest, my brain shut down after the first few paragraphs. All I was left with is the message that if I were transgender, I would be somehow diabolic and destructive to myself and others. What an inspiring Christmas message -- what wonderful timing so soon after the death of a transgender teen.

The Catholic World Report apparently let the post go up at the height of media attention for this story. I can only assume this could be their response to this tragic story which didn't have to happen if people would only accept trans teens for who they are.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Brampton Drops Lord's Prayer... And A Touch of Christian Dominionism?

Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey explains what secularism is to a Brampton resident. (source)
During December 10th question period portion of the Brampton city council meeting, newly elected mayor Linda Jeffrey explained why the council decided to stop saying the Lord's Prayer to upset resident Greta Archer.

The entire exchange is only twelve minutes and is well worth a watch (skip to 3:30).

Here's a rough transcript of an example of the sort of thing we're up against when pushing for a secular nation. The transcribing bit was bloody painful -- give it a listen up above and you'll know why.
What is our heritage here? To me, the Lord's Prayer is a vital part of our Canadian Christian heritage and this needs to be maintained in council. Because what it says to me is that all of you are not proud enough.. are not proud... but you are in humility, willing to allow to be directed, guiding, given wisdom by God, to do your job, right?

It's very important to us to have that basis. Then, if you want add a more inclusive one, as the mayor said in the Friday November 7th newspaper, which was, Madam mayor, a shock to me, to tell the truth, because I voted for you.

We had enough of other things and we need a fresh start, but this hits me hard as a person who voted. This is the first thing that you brought and I strongly believe that we should be respectful of our diverse communities. I agree with that, but we must have a basis,  a base and then we be inclusive.

In all we homes, we have a rules, we have our standards and then we are welcoming and inclusive to other things. The Lord's Prayer is, to me -- how much more inclusive can we get? It is, to me, one of the most vital things.

So, a question for you, I noticed it was absent today. So was there a meeting that you had to drop it? Where did the idea come from to drop it? Is this your own idea?
She then asked Jeffrey for answers to those questions. The mayor suggested Archer to finish her questions due to time constraints. This is when things get even more frightening.
Did members of your transition team advise you to do this? Has any person of other faith asked you to do this? Is each of the regional and city councilors in agreement with this 100%... ... if so, if they are not in agreement, in a matter of transparency, we would like to know those of you who are not in agreement and we want to know the names.

Because, I believe it should be maintained as a part of our Canadian Christian heritage and everything addresses... we think it's separate but really it's not...  state and religion... history tells us they are connected, whether we like it or not. Seeking direction is very very vitally important.. and maintaining what Canada, why I came to Canada: freedom, yes, but for the Christian heritage that I can pass on to my children and they to their children.
Terrifying. She's all for diverse cultures -- so long as they know who's boss -- her Gawd. It sort of, kind of, sounds like Christian Dominionism, doesn't it?

Again, just a quick reminder that the council didn't drop all prayer, just this particular prayer. So the invocation could still very well be a Christian one -- or at least a monotheistic one. That's just not acceptable for Archer. Her god needs to be revered over all others by the government -- that's why she chose Canada, to be some kind of theocracy-lite. This is what this prayer means to her.

The mayor made a very reasonable and non-rambly response.
I'll speak to the Lord's Prayer. At the end of the day, the Charter of Right and Freedoms has indicated that since 1999 it is illegal for a municipal council to be reciting the Lord's Prayer in their council chambers and we have been one of the outliers as a community, the City of Brampton. So, as I arrived at council, I actually did a survey of all of council and spoke with each person individually about a number of issues and this is one.

As you begin a new term of council, you can decide whether you want to continue to do things the way you used to or whether you do, for a new term of council, in this case four years, do something different. I'm not going to speak about what each councillor said individually -- if you want to have that conversation with each one -- but the majority agreed that it was time for a non-denominational invocation to be part of our opening greetings at the beginning of a council meeting. So, I agree with you, I'm one who recites the Lord's Prayer when I pray but that's my cultural background. My goal here is to try to put the city of Brampton in a different place, to be not an outlier, to be leading edge.

So, each councilor gave me an answer, and the majority indicated either no prayer or a non-denomination. So that was the majority decision of council. ... ...
It would appear that Jeffrey not only understands that city councils should not break the law -- she is after all trying to improve transparency! -- but she also has a much better grasp on secularism than this resident.

Her private consultation with the members also avoided the any concerns councillors may have with good Christians wanting to see who needed shaming -- like what happened to Carolyn Parrish, the only member to vote against keeping the Lord's Prayer in Mississauga.
I've already received two tweets on my Blackberry; that I didn't stand for the Lord's Prayer today: "Now we know what her beliefs are," and one good Christian said, "We're gonna have to work on this and we're gonna have to shame her."
Archer wanted names. I'm not implying she would harass the councilors who wanted a more inclusive space, but there is an element of intimidation there. I wonder how the vote would have gone in Mississauga if mayor Crombie had done things the same way. Perhaps it wouldn't have been such a clean sweep to keep the Lord's Prayer.

Meanwhile, in the above video, the city solicitor was even called into the discussion. Archer asked how she and thousands of other concerned residents could get this changed. The mayor very wisely asked to city solicitor to speak to this. He succinctly brought up the 1999 ruling that rendered reciting the prayer illegal.  Call your lawyer, otherwise, case closed.

If only Mississauga could have been as reasonable as Brampton. Still, remember that all this hullabaloo is over the Lord's Prayer. This will be replaced with another non-denominational prayers, so people are still praying to god(s) before the meetings.

Oh, but it's all just a tradition, after-all. Let this indicate what this prayer really means -- it's a demonstration to all non-Christians that the Christian god is in charge and that politicians are to humble themselves to Yahweh and let Him guide their every move. This is about theocracy -- well, symbolically at least.

Go check out Veronica Abbass' excellent Orwellianesque piece on this over at the Canadian Atheist. There, she points out the Mississauga Newspeak which so starkly contrasts Brampton mayor Jeffrey's clear English.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Irrational Beliefs Have Real World Consequences

By Tim Evanson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
There has been another case of parents attempting to faith heal their child. Calgary fundamentalist Seventh Day Adventist couple Jennifer Clark and Jeromie Clark withheld proper medical treatment to their infant son after malnourishing it. The baby died in the hospital from a condition which could have been easily treated if caught sooner.
An autopsy found the child was suffering from a staph infection that was complicated by malnutrition and as a result, the infection was untreatable.
This tragedy keeps repeating itself. At the risk of coming off as an insensitive I-told-you-so, I'll repeat a little of my reaction to another case of a religious family letting a member of their own die due to misguided and delusional blind religious faith.
Again, I wonder how this would have gone down if it were a child instead of the father -- and if the family were of a minority religion or no religion at all (kooky alien cult, etc.). I think this could have turned out quite differently.
My above comment was about Kaling Wald, who believed that prayer would heal her husband's seriously infected foot and then believed that prayer would resurrect him from the dead. Neither worked.

Well, it turns out that this was a repetition of history. Last week, the Clarks were arrested after their infant child wasn't strong enough to be treated for a staph infection. An over the top religiously-motivated diet left him extremely malnourished. They even hid their son's declining health until someone ultimately forced them to bring him to a hospital. No doubt, the child suffered horribly.
“We have no indication that he (the infant) had seen a doctor since his birth and the child was not born in hospital,”  said S/Sgt. Andrus. “And the family took steps to conceal his condition from family members. And it was only after the realization by a family member that the infant was sick [that] they were advised to take him to hospital.”
It apparently took a long time in this case for the authorities to bring about charges against the couple.
Police say the investigation was a long and complicated process, which is why it took time to get the results.
No exact indication about why it was so long and complicated, but the other case seemed to be difficult as well, perhaps due to the religious angle.
“It’s an extremely sad case . . . she truly believed her husband was going to be resurrected from the dead, even after six months,” said assistant Crown attorney Janet Booy.
In the case of the adult victim, the children were left with the mother, even after she admitted that she still believed wholeheartedly in the power of prayer and in resurrection. Thankfully, in this case of the infant, the surviving children were removed at the onset of the investigation and are being cared for elsewhere. I fail to see how one is any less potentially dangerous than the other.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Former Mayor Violated Human Rights Settlement & Just Doesn't Seem to Care

Former Lord Mayor David Eke looks on during Paul Henderson's talk during the 2014 Lord Mayor's Prayer Breakfast. Photo by Penny Cole. (source)
There's a good piece by Grant Lafleche over at the Niagara Falls Review about the former Niagara-on-the-Lake Lord Mayor David Eke. Eke broke any semblance of government neutrality towards religion when he attended participated in the last Prayer Breakfast with all his mayoral bling on -- a breakfast that appeared to have gone out of its way to keep itself a purely Christian affair.

As Lafleche points out, It's just exhausting watching these politicians who just can't stop praying while in their capacity as public officials every chance they get during city council meetings or breakfasts. Then when you call them out for being non-inclusive or privileging their own religion over others they start flapping their hands about and protesting that it's not really a religious thing, per se, it's just tradition!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

"Mommy Let Daddy Die & Rot For Six Months In Our House." -- Anyone Thinking About The Kids?

Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I'm sure you've probably all read about the Hamilton family that left the corpse of dad, Peter Wald, to rot in a sealed off room in the house for six months. If anyone could ever move a mountain with their faith in the Lord, it would be Peter and Kaling Wald.

Peter had diabetes and his foot got infected. Rather than go to a hospital, they prayed for a recovery and he went into a coma and died. Six months later, the police discovered his rotten corpse in a sealed off room of the house. It seems the family got it into their heads that he'd be resurrected, so they stuck a tuque on his head and taped up all the vents. The laws of Nature were not suspended and he didn't come back.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Egypt's Muslim & Christian Leaders Uniting Against Atheism

By Daniel Mayer (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Religion has been the cause of so much conflict and harm in this world. Alas, if only they could find something to bring them together, to unite them! Well it turns out religious leaders in Egypt have found something to set aside their differences over and finally come together! Halleluja!
Christian churches in Egypt say they are joining forces with Egypt's Al-Azhar, a prominent center of Sunni Muslim learning, to fight the spread of atheism in the country.
Everyone gang up on the atheists, now.

I suppose this is a step up from arresting and brutalizing atheists, which is what they've done with bloggers, including Alber Saber, who managed to get away. As I've written before, they plan on using psychologists and stuff to persuade kids not to be atheists... and maybe throw them into jail later if that doesn't work.
For his part, Ahmed al-Tayeb, Egypt's Grand Imam and leader of the Al-Azhar, said on state television last month that atheism was a "fad" borrowed by Egyptian youth from the West.

"The atheism trend is new to the Arab world and Egypt," al-Tayeb said. "It is regretful… that some young people now openly brag about being atheists."

He went on to say that atheistic and "materialistic" ideas were "shallow by nature."
These 'apparently existential threats to society' fads that are so shallow! Don't worry though, freedom of thought is in the constitution! Based on their history so far, I'm totally confident there will be no problem at all.
Freedom of thought is enshrined in the Egyptian constitution. However, a handful of Egyptians have been prosecuted in recent years for "defaming religion" on social media platforms.
Oh right... just a handful -- the ones we actually hear about. It only takes a handful of people being brutally persecuted to keep the general population in line.
"The Church and the Al-Azhar are drafting a constructive mechanism to address atheism," Poules Halim, a spokesman for Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, told Anadolu Agency.

His statements came following a two-day conference, organized jointly between the Al-Azhar and the church, aimed at forging a "scholarly response" to atheism, which, Halim said, had been "spreading increasingly" in Egypt over the past three years.

This article definitely lacks any sort of explanation of what they actually talked about and what this constructive mechanism is. I'm waiting to see what sort of nonsense they'll come up with. They've had hundreds of years and I'm still waiting.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Up For a Little Bingo?

By English: Cpl. Timothy T. Parish [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Feeling kind of bored or lethargic on this Friday? Why not drag your sad butt over to Guardian Liberty Voice and play a little Chestnut/Canard/Strawman Bingo!

In Atheists Fail to Understand Both God and Man, Graham Noble seems to hit pretty much every old canard and chestnut ever when it comes to arguing for God and against atheism. Get your Bingo cards ready.
Atheists have elevated their profile in the western world – particularly in the United States – to one of a, supposedly, persecuted minority and, in doing so, have exposed their failure to understand both man and the very concept of God.
I can only assume the supposedly must refer to the persecuted. Given that a majority of Americans seem more willing to vote in anyone but an atheist for president, I'm not sure if Noble has really looked into this at all. Does he think the strong stigma against coming out atheist is merely illusion?
Their bizarre and desperate need to stamp out Christianity...
Atheists by definition do not wish to stamp out Christianity. They just don't believe in God. Now, I'd love to see Christianity and all religions relegated to the same sort of dustbin as Greco-Roman religion in the West, but that's just me. There are plenty of atheists out there who are happy just not believing and going about their lives. Just look at Sweden.
An atheist is someone who professes a belief in two basic principles: First, the non-existence of a deity, or deities; second, the belief that man is the only master of his own destiny and that only through a true understanding of humanism will mankind reach its full potential. 
No. An atheist is someone who does not profess a belief in any gods. Please try to grasp this difference. Someone who is atheist may well believe those other things but this doesn't make an atheist.
A fair starting point in the argument over the existence of God – a Creator, a higher power, a supreme being or whatever label one chooses to apply – is the acknowledgement that the existence of such a being, or deity, has never been scientifically proven and, perhaps, never will be.
Thank you! Are we done now, then? No, apparently not. We need to state the obvious about something for which there is no proof it exists.
Such a statement, however, demands the caveat that the non-existence of God has also never been proven, nor could it ever possibly be proven. 
Yes. It is impossible to prove the non-existence of something like a god, unicorns, robot frogmen on the planet VeeedyVeedy 6 .. etc..

Now, prepare to be shocked, amazed and confused.
Herein, then, lies the utter rejection of that first tenet of atheism: One must take, for context, the idea that a ‘god’ is a being of all-encompassing power and possibility; a being that has created everything that exists and possesses all knowledge; a being that defies the very laws of physics, as they are understood by man. A simple – and very short – leap of logic, then, brings one to the realization that, in order to be certain that such an omnipotent being does not exist, one would have to be an omnipotent being. How else could one possibly know, with certainty, that an all-seeing, all-knowing deity – existing beyond the physical grasp and sight of man – does not exist unless one actually possesses all the known and unknown knowledge of the universe – and whatever is beyond? In short; only if one were God could one say that God does not exist – and then, of course, one would be denying one’s own existence.
That a single human mind can contain the above paragraph without imploding immediately is a testament to the power of millions of years of evolution. I'm sure some long lost humanoids may have thought of things like the above and their heads did implode or severe internal hemorrhaging or stroke could have occurred.

As a thought experiment, let's replace the not exist with exist from the above quoted:
A simple – and very short – leap of logic, then, brings one to the realization that, in order to be certain that such an omnipotent being does exist, one would have to be an omnipotent being. How else could one possibly know, with certainty, that an all-seeing, all-knowing deity – existing beyond the physical grasp and sight of man – does exist unless one actually possesses all the known and unknown knowledge of the universe – and whatever is beyond? In short; only if one were God could one say that God does exist – ...
Wow, it makes just as much sense as the original! This only demonstrates a parlour trick called shifting the burden of proof. Place your Bingo chip in the appropriate box, please.

Bonus marks if you noticed that only his God seems to require a solid disproving. 

All-powerful propellor-hat wearing rhinoceroses living deep inside the crust of Pluto do not seem to require such a vigorous disproving. Neither do less outrageous claims like Satan is actually in charge around here rather God -- that would explain a few things -- or that it's all actually space aliens after all.

This sort of business is called begging the question. It's putting your God into a special category -- because he's God -- that requires us to disprove it while other gods apparently do not require him to disprove them, the burden is completely on these other believers to make their case.

Now comes the classic argument that humans have always been religious and believed in god, which proves absolutely nothing.
Having established, therefore, that atheists do not understand the nature of God, it is worth examining the ways in which they also fail to understand the nature of man. The mere fact that belief in God – or in multiple gods – has been with mankind from its very beginning demonstrates a faith and a need which is beyond understanding and, certainly, beyond eradication.
Do we have Bingo yet? Get your chips ready because they come in fast and furious from this point forward.

Atheists want more than separation of church and state. They want total eradication of Christianity.
In the US, atheist groups have gone far beyond what they are claiming to be pushing for, which is the complete separation of church and state. Their goal appears to be nothing less than the complete eradication of Christianity from American society.
Although true for some atheists, I'm sure. This is not technically correct. Atheism means no belief in god. There are plenty of atheists who are perfectly happy with religion existing. And many just don't want it imposed on them via state mechanisms.

Next comes the all too common question: If you don't believe in God then how could you be offended by Christian symbols?
Their obsession with bringing lawsuits aimed at removing Christian symbols from public display begs the question: If one does not believe in God, how can one possibly be offended by the idea that other people do? Not believing in something implies a lack of feeling or emotion, regarding that something. It is simply not possible to be offended by a concept in which one claims not to believe.
Of course, he leaves out that it's Christian symbols on public land. Atheists are not offended that you believe in your God although they may find this bizarre and they may very well be offended by your concept of God.

I'm also pretty certain he doesn't understand what begs the question really means.

Now, here's one I've never, ever, heard before!
There can be only one possible explanation of why atheists become so agitated at the very idea that others put their faith in God; it comes down to politics. Atheist groups in the United States are merely Socialists in disguise and, like all Socialists, they insist that only loyalty a citizen should have is loyalty to the almighty State. religious faith stands in the way and that is precisely why Socialist governments always persecute those who believe in God.
Mr. Noble, I believe you need to be introduced to a rather large atheist Libertarian segment. I'm sure they would have a few things to clear up with you!

He tries to clear things up in the next paragraph by stating that not all atheists are Socialists making me wonder how many other assertions some atheists may be pardoned from.
That is not to say that all atheists are Socialists; those who simply choose not to believe should be distinguished from those who join groups which try to force others not to believe.
Do you have your chip ready? Did you catch the subtle choose not to believe? People don't choose to believe or disbelieve anything. If they are, then I can only guess they're trying to somehow brainwash themselves!

If you've not got a row yet, maybe this next section will help. He moves on to revisit the Constitution and the establishment clause.
Atheists have maintained, for some time, that separation of church and state is enshrined in the Constitution. This, however, is a myth. There is no part of the Constitution that demands such a separation; the First Amendment is very clear on the subject. The religion clause within the First Amendment prevents the government from interfering in religious matters. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It is as clear as it could possibly be: The government is prohibited from forcing any one religion upon the people; nor can it write laws that promote any one religion over another; nor can it write any laws that restrict an individual’s right to worship in whatever way they choose.
A myth that the Supreme Court and countless judges have also apparently fallen for.  I guess they're all atheists too. Apparently, the amendment was written to protect the religious from imposing their religions onto other religious or having religions imposed upon them.
Atheism, in truth, is a religion in itself; it is the religion of Statism and its lifeblood is fear and intimidation.
Uhm... Oh well.

There is some fancy footwork having to do with the First Amendment only applying to Congress but not really, or sort of... therefore it's fine to preach Jesus in the public schools. It confuses my foreigner Canadian brain and I leave it up to you for your homework this weekend to figure out. It is after all, Friday.

Did you win?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Baptisms In Pointe-Claire Public Pool

Pointe-Claire Aquatic Centre, Pointe-Claire, Quebec. (source)
Are you tired of all those people crowding you at your local public pool? Are you nervous taking a shower when you've inevitably forgotten your flip-flops? Is the chlorine or salt water too aggressive? Do you resent having to wear those tight head condoms? Are you suspicious of strangely coloured underwater clouds lingering around young children?

Well, things were even more distressing this past weekend over at the Pointe-Claire Aquatic Centre. It seems like churches are bringing their members to the pool and baptizing them!
Pointe-Claire resident Ninon Choquette said she was at the Pointe-Claire Aquatic Centre on Saturday afternoon at about 2:30 p.m. for “open-swim” when a group of bathers, including several dressed entirely in white, entered the pool area.
Well, at least they were fully clothed.
“The pool is in no way a place of worship,” said Choquette. “We go there to relax, to play with our children and to get in shape, not to undergo religious exercises.
Apparently, this is a pretty common thing.
Bill Gate is the manager of the Pointe-Claire Aquatic Centre.

Over the years, Gate said, he has seen baptisms take place in the pool, “one or two people … it’s over in 30 seconds.”
Choquette also asks the question of what's the limit, here. Indeed, what's next, funerals? In response, she made the very reasonable suggestion that religious groups rent the pool outside of regular swim hours for their religious ceremonies.

Meanwhile, the complaint has made it all the way up to the mayor of the city who responded by stating that religious events in city facilities are forbidden without prior city council approval.

This is apparently what happens when churches do not have the resources to baptise within their own premises and the Canadian winter is setting in -- and they're not into BieberBaptisms.

One commenter to the article could see no reason why anyone should have any problem with churches performing religious rituals at the public pool:
Why has this offended anyone? It is a public place. How you enter the water or why should be of no concern to anyone else. No one is hurt by someone choosing baptism and if it makes someone uncomfortable, don't watch. Why should it not be allowed? How about a mother breast feeding her child in the pool area? That makes some people uncomfortable, should that not be allowed? What happened to living in a place of freedom? What is it about God that offends some people so greatly that they would take precious time out of their day to complain? There are so many more productive things to fill your time with.
I wonder if there are any Satanist groups nearby who would be interested in doing some of their rituals there? If Christians get to have their ritual there then everyone from the Satanists to the Pastafarians should jump right on in.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Survey: 'Evangelicals, Americans Are Just Not That Into Your Church.'

William Hogarth. British Artist and Engraver. The Sleeping Congregation (1736)
Today seems to be a really good news day over at the Christian Post. A report came out about a study that shows unchurched (read: Nones) Americans are the least likely to fall anything Christian evangelicals have in their proselytizing toolbox in 20 years. They just don't want to go to church -- who can blame them?

Unchurched Americans Most Resistant to Evangelism Outreach in 20 Years, Survey Finds

Apparently, this is no wimpy survey. Some 40,000 interviews were done.
A new study from Christian Research company Barna Group reveals that unchurched Americans are the most resistant to outreach efforts by the church and friends than they've been in 20 years.

Data collected from 42,855 interviews show that 47 percent of U.S. adults who do not attend church said they were open to being invited to church by a friend – down from 65 percent in 1993.
That's almost 20 points in 20 years -- not trivial at all, but surely all part of God's plan.

President of the survey group, David Kinnaman, echoed in the article that the gap between churches and society at large is an ever widening chasm.
While the research does not reveal the cause of the rift between churches and their communities, he believes "monumental cultural changes" have made Christians seem "increasingly alien and difficult to understand."
Now there's an understatement.

The article seems to be saying that newer generations are less interested in Christianity partially because of monumental changes.  Changes like accepting LGBT people as not sinful, broken, corrupt, dangerous people but rather normal people who are naturally attracted to people of the same gender. I also blame the Internet.

Kirk Cameron Said Something About Halloween

Christian woman dressed up as a woman for Halloween. Wait a minute! That does make sense! (source)
Here's an article about the highly complex historical influences that played into the formation of what we now know of as Halloween in Canada, the United States, and across the world. It's long, nuanced and shows you just the sort of history you'd expect for a holiday as goofy and fun as Samhain... I mean All Souls Eve, or whatever. Complicated, isn't it?

Too complicated, man! Who has time to read all that when you can just skip to what Kirk Cameron has to say! Well, I extracted most of what was left of this Christian Post advertisement for his upcoming Christmas movie (and his entire career in general). I take this lovely sweetmeat and I place it here now for you! Here's your treat -- you should have done the trick.
"When you go out on Halloween and see all people dressed in costumes and see someone in a great big bobble head Obama costume with great big ears and an Obama face, are they honoring him or poking fun?" Cameron asked.

"They are poking fun at him," the actor said, answering his own question before comparing the concept of costumes to early Christianity.

"Early on, Christians would dress up in costumes as the devil, ghosts, goblins and witches precisely to make the point that those things were defeated and overthrown by the resurrected Jesus Christ," Cameron continued. "The costumes poke fun at the fact that the devil and other evils were publicly humiliated by Christ at His resurrection. That's what the Scriptures say, that He publicly humiliated the devil when He triumphed over power and principality and put them under his feet. Over time you get some pagans who want to go this is our day, high holy day of Satanic church, that this is all about death, but Christians have always known since the first century that death was defeated, that the grave was overwhelmed, that ghosts, goblins, devils are foolish has-beens who used to be in power but not anymore. That's the perspective Christians should have."
I'm certain all those people dressed up as naughty nurses or police officers or USB adapters are truly mocking those instruments of Satan. Or is it just ancient Christians in the Bible who go door-to-door dressed up like witches collecting Chick tracts?

Are we supposed to paint our doors with lambs' blood or something here? What's the story, Cameron? There's more questions here than answers.

No, I will not watch your movie.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Viking Discrimination Against Christians... Well, Maybe.

So, there was finally a real honest-to-God case of religious discrimination against a Christian here in Canada by a real company. A Trinity Western University graduate, Bethany Paquette, applied to an outdoorsy expedition company to be a wilderness guide and she was denied a job because she apparently didn't meet the minimum requirements -- oh, and because she went to Trinity Western and is Christian.

It all gets rather bizarre and confusing past this point.

See, it turns out that the company, Amaruk, is run by Vikings who are (understandably) unimpressed with Christians like Bethany because of what the Christians apparently did to Norse traditional religion and culture. It's of course ludicrous to bring this up with Bethany. I'm of Irish descent and the Vikings, with all their plundering, terrorizing and rapeing... well, the CEOs over at Amaruk better send me an apology letter.

So, Bethany gets this response from Olaf, who's a bigwig at this company:
Ms. Paquette.

I do not understand the purpose of your application considering you do not meet the minimum requirements that are clearly outlined on our web site.
Okay, a little rude, but still, not completely unprofessional.

Wait, what's this other crap?
Additionally, considering you were involved with Trinity Western University, I should mention that, unlike Trinity Western University, we embrace diversity, and the right of people to sleep with or marry whoever they want, and this is reflected within some of our staff and management. In addition, the Norse background of most of the guys at the management level means that we are not a Christian organization, and most of us actually see Christianity as having destroyed our culture, tradition, and way of life.
Okay, I'm sure most readers here know how I feel about the Trinity Western University Law School and their retrograde and draconian rules against LGBT people and unmarried couples. They get money from the government to teach religious nonsense and bigotry and even Law Societies across the country are rejecting the school's accreditation in protest.

However, this is truly unprofessional. Perhaps not illegal, but is this Facebook or Reddit? Come on, people.

Then, probably out of anger, Bethany wrote back this long e-mail including a long history lesson along with a demographics breakdown of the world's religions! Also not professional, but I guess Olaf threw any semblance of professionalism right out the window.

Go read the e-mail exchange if you like.

Then, bizarrely, other C-level representatives of the company just spring in as if they don't have anything better to do. Shouldn't they be busy scaling cliffs or jumping out of helicopters or something? Here's a super unprofessional nugget responding to Bethany's response.
In contrast, we believe that a man ending up with another man is probably the best thing that could happen to him. But we do not force these views onto other people, and we are completely fine if a guy decides to go the emasculation route by marrying a BC woman. Live and let live.

Anyway, I got the idea that this company may actually cater to a gay clientele (not that there is anything wrong with this). The site doesn't have a single woman on it. Instead I find shirtless men and really buff ones at that -- riding horses with cowboy hats... etc. Check out the Wilderness Fitness section of the site, to see what I mean. Rugged.

Well now it seems like things have gotten even more bizarre. Sun News reporter and Canada's Foremost Freedom Fighter, Ezra Levant, reported on Bethany's plight just yesterday.  Here's what he has to say today.
Except Amaruk isn’t real. They have a grandiose website, with beautiful images of the great outdoors. But they’re fake photos – ripped off from the Internet. The website boasts of being a massive, multi-national tourism company. But no actual trips or tours are listed. The location of the outdoor fantasy photos, or their “40,000-sheep ranch” are never identified.

The website is affiliated with other websites that have a homo-erotic feeling – idolizing the “Viking” lifestyle – bearded hipsters with great abs, out in the woods.

The CBC’s investigative reporter, Natalie Clancy, got her story half-right. Bethany was the subject of an anti-Christian tirade. But she didn’t lose a job over it – there was no job to be had. It was an elaborate hoax.
It turns out that this company may be nothing more than an odd front. There were no jobs to be had, as several other women have discovered who applied for the same or similar jobs. They got horrible responses as well.
As more women who received bizarre and inappropriate responses to their job applications to wilderness company Amaruk come forward, efforts to reach the company's CEO have left CBC News questioning whether the business and its jobs even exist.
The company claims to be the result of a partnership of other companies. However, it seems to be all a big hoax -- for tax purposes?
One of the companies, Norealis, is listed as owning a male erotic website called Many of the models found on that site can also be found in images on the other companies' websites.

The domain names of the websites for all the companies were registered in B.C. by a Christopher Fragassi, who lists a Whistler P.O. Box  as his address.

Only Christopher Fragassi is named on Amaruk's B.C. corporate registry entry, though Industry Canada's website lists 217 employees and 20 company directors. Calls to several listed numbers reached no one, just a hold signal that played the song of loons down the phone line. 
Here's the sort of response other women got.
Sophie Waterman applied for the same job, but soon believed it sounded too good to be true. She withdrew her application after a friend in the tourism industry warned her Amaruk might not be all that it seems.

"When I cancelled the interview, I received about 15 emails in quick succession," she says. "All pretending to be from different people involved with the company, and all very litigious, accusing me and my friend of slander. My feeling is that it's all one person."
Now it seems like this Amaruk email could be coming from a small group or even a single person who may have a problem with Christianity and women in general.

Ezrant concludes his post with a call to not forget the victims here -- Christians.
It’s too bad that the first time the CBC took a serious interest in anti-Christian bigotry, they were duped. I hope that doesn’t turn them off the subject. There are plenty of real anti-Christian bigots in Canada, who attack Trinity Western all the time. Right now, law societies across Canada are debating banning TWU’s graduates from practicing law. That’s just as vicious as the fake trolls at Amaruk. But they’re real, and unafraid to use their real names.
I say we do not forget the victims in this particular case, who were not all attacked because they were Christian. 

However, I'm all for investigating these troublemakers to see if their posing as a real company is somehow against the law. I'm just not certain if these shenanigans constitute anything that can be considered a real crime.

Meanwhile, we have law school that's partially publicly-funded demanding that its students and staff agree to a purity oath. I'm guessing that if you're a married gay professor you're going to be discriminated against there. It's sort of institutionalized descrimination. You know, like this hoax turned out not to be.
“In keeping with biblical and TWU ideals, community members voluntarily abstain from… sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman,” it reads.

All students and faculty are required to swear an oath to the covenant, and its rules apply off-campus as well. The covenant also bans gossip, vulgar language, pornography and alcohol consumption.

Violations can result in penalties, including expulsion, though TWU said no student has ever been thrown out for being gay.

Some Quick Responses to Atheist Claims

It's a long weekend here in Canada for Thanksgiving. So, get the hell away from your extended family, lock yourself into the bathroom and fire up your laptop to get a little sanity break before the turkey eating begins.

If you don't have anything worthwhile to read, then perhaps you could do one of those Cosmo sex quizzes while hiding out from your blood relatives. If you don't have an old copy of Cosmo lying around -- who doesn't? -- then maybe this will do to pass the time.

Ten quick responses to atheist claims
At the London Evangelists' Conference yesterday, Professor John Lennox offered some quick responses to some common claims from atheists.
Give it a read you'll very likely find yourself wondering how anyone could take them seriously and re-affirm your complete lack of belief in god. Or you could become a born again Christian, which would no doubt make for a memorable Thanksgiving dinner.

Number One is a response to Yahweh being yet one more god that atheists do not believe in, in addition to the multitude of pagan gods Christians don't take seriously. Lennox's response sounds like special pleading.
"There is a vast distinction between all of the Ancient near eastern gods and the God of the Bible," said Prof Lennox. "They are products of the primeval mass and energy of the universe. The God of the Bible created the heavens and the earth".
Does that not require one to believe in this god to begin with?

Number Two first posits a straw man atheist who proclaims that science explains everything and there is no need for god. No, science doesn't claim to explain everything but where's the proof that God did anything around here?
Science cannot answer certain kinds of questions, such as 'what is ethical?' and 'what is beautiful?' Even when it comes to questions about the natural world, which science does explore and can sometimes answer, there are different types of explanations for different things.
I'd like to see how religion can explain what is ethical or beautiful. Because it seems to me like there is a great deal of confusion within the Bible itself on these points.

Number Three ...
"If we're being offered a choice between science and god... it is not a biblical concept of god," said Prof Lennox. "The biblical God is not a god of the gaps, but a God of the whole show. The bits we do understand [through science] and the bits we don't.
How about the bits we do understand is science and the bits we don't are simply bits we don't?

There's more, including the statement that Christianity is evidence-based faith! None of them are particularly convincing, but perhaps they're just meant to put some questioning Christians' minds at ease.

They do make interesting reading while you get away from the in-laws.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

South African Pastor Now Tells Congregation to Eat Floral Arrangements

Maxwell Klinger eats a jeep on the television program M*A*S*H: "See? I'm crazy. I'm eating a jeep and I think it's tasty. What could be more crazy than that?" Nom! Nom! Nom!
Remember Maxwell Klinger on M*A*S*H? He would try any stunt to prove to his superiors he was insane so he could be discharged from service in the Korean War? One episode, he decided to eat a jeep to prove he was clearly insane and who wouldn't agree that there are some sort of psychological issues there? Well, this sort of thing doesn't appear to be mental illness to the congregation of one Lesego Daniel, who previously had his congregation eat grass, then ostensibly drink 'pineapple flavoured' gasoline -- he's got religion, so he's a prophet.

This time the pastor is advising his flock to graze on the floral displays around the church.

Pastor Daniel’s flock eats flowers

People started munching on daisies at his command.
“Eat this one,” said Daniel to one of his ushers. The woman ran to the flowers her pastor was pointing to and started chewing off the heads of the daisies and the leaves.

Others started running to the stage to get a taste of the flowers. At first the woman refused to share but Daniel told her to welcome others to also take part in “what the Holy Spirit was doing”.

Soon the whole stage was filled with people chewing away at the flowers.
Well, that must have been a sight. I am relieved, though, that Mr. Daniel chose flowers this time, as some of them are actually edible as far as science is concerned. So there is no miracle there if people didn't get sick -- assuming they are edible flowers. European daisies are at least are edible.
This daisy may be used as a potherb. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked, noting that the leaves become increasingly astringent with age. Flower buds and petals can be eaten raw in sandwiches, soups and salads. It is also used as a tea and as a vitamin supplement.
It's pretty apparent he's now simply trolling for attention.
“I’m making news,” Daniel said standing over his congregation as they fought over the flowers.

Maybe it's not a scam though. Perhaps this is just the way South African mega church pastors lose it completely.
On Sunday, he told his congregation that media reports claiming that his private life was falling apart and that he owned luxury cars and huge piece of land where not true and are only attempts to discredit him.
If so, then I suppose this is not really that distinguishable from Maxwell Klinger's situation. Well, on the outside, at least, both cases look insane to us. It's interesting that when religion is involved, stunts like this seem to increase faith and devotion in the congregation, while without religion, in Klinger's case, it was all part of an intentional ploy to draw on as much discredit as possible.

Has anyone seen Pastor Daniel eat the flowers?

Friday, 3 October 2014

Friday Rapturous Movie Rundowns!

Everyone is just giddy about the theatrical release of the muchly anticipated Nicolas Cage. By which I mean Left Behind: The End Begins! I cannot wait to see it but know that I won't be one of the lucky ones sitting next to some church outing or whatever. I don't get out much these days and movies are so damn expensive I'd have to be certain the world was about to end.

So I was thrilled to see this list of Ten Amazing Christian Rapture & Apocalypse Movies That Culture Left Behind brought to us by Christian Today. Can you see the clever title there, with Left Behind in it? I pray to Cthulhu that at least some of these are on Netflix.

(I've enriched your experience somewhat with trailers when I've found them along with a little behind the scenes digging. Still, it's worth it to give the original a look.)

First off, there's this one with Mr T! Not on Netflix USA.
3. Judgment
The final part in a long-running film series that begins with 1998's Apocalypse. It's got Mr T in it. Who's betting his role isn't quite as major as the cover suggests? Who's hoping he has to say the line: 'I ain't gettin' on no cloud, fool'? 

Then there's the ever present theme of "See atheists! See! See! We told you so!" None of these films are on Netflix either. I've lost my faith in you, Cthulhu!
7. The Last Messengers
See her? She's an atheist, she is. Well – not for long! While it's understandable that a low-budget film might need to use CGI artwork, we're not entirely sure why that guy in the purple shirt also appears to be computer generated...

Well it turns out this movie doesn't actually seem to be made yet. I guess that's why they have the computer generated purple shirt guy. Take a look at the About section on the films Facebook page.
Seeking trim actors for roles: Female age 25-30 with own long straight hair, executive-like male 35-45. Email with headshots at:
Trim... Nice euphemism there.

Anyway, then there's those atheists who always go to debate groups and argue and debate until the end of time. Perhaps these atheists are cyborgs. Could all atheists be cyborgs? Am I a cyborg?

I'm guessing that I'm not good harvesting material.
8. End of the Harvest
The cover of this rapture movie doesn't suggest a huge amount of drama. Nor does the plot, which concerns some atheists coming to a debating group. MAYBE THERE ARE CYBORGS! But probably there aren't.

The fun thing is that the writer seems to clearly recognize just how ridiculous and goofy these movies are. I wonder if this latest film will make the very next list? My guess is yes.

Go check out the rest of the list!

For now, I'll leave you with a few quotes from a rundown over at Yahoo News: Disaster Movie? We Round Up the Most Scathing 'Left Behind' Reviews. It got 2% on Rotten Tomatoes -- surely it would take a God to make a movie this perfectly bad.
“Ultimately, just like all of those empty articles of clothing left behind by Jesus’ return, Left Behind is a lifeless film, void of anything remotely human, God-like, or authentic, just a terrible Christian movie starring Nicolas Cage.” —The Daily Beast
“The rapture won’t come soon enough for the unfortunate souls forced to suffer through Left Behind.” —The Hollywood Reporter
Who knew Satan was such a decent film critic -- praise Cthulhu!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Jessa Duggar Writes Something Else On Her Instagram

It was only one day and already Jessa Duggar -- from the Nineteen Kids & Counting quiverfull-type-evangelical-homeschool-Christian-unreal-reality-television-family fame... Well... Listen... She's gone done written something else on her Instagram!

It's not so much the image, which is a haunting picture of children in a Nazi concentration camp. Nope, it's Jessa's description of the image that made people upset. (Emphasis mine.)
I walked through the Holocaust Museum again today... very sobering. Millions of innocents denied the most basic and fundamental of all rights--their right to life. One human destroying the life of another deemed "less than human." Racism, stemming from the evolutionary idea that man came from something less than human; that some people groups are "more evolved" and others "less evolved." A denying that our Creator--GOD--made us human from the beginning, all of ONE BLOOD and ONE RACE, descendants of Adam. The belief that some human beings are "not fit to live." So they're murdered. Slaughtered. Kids with Down syndrome or other disabilities. The sickly. The elderly. The sanctity of human life varies not in sickness or health, poverty or wealth, elderly or pre-born, little or lots of melanin [making you darker or lighter skinned], or any other factor. "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works?" (Proverbs 24:10-12) May we never sit idly by and allow such an atrocity to happen again. Not this generation. We must be a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Because EVERY LIFE IS PRECIOUS. #ProLife
First off, she has a pretty horrendous picture of what evolution is all about. I've heard it before from the evangelical crowd. Regardless of what the Nazis used to justify their atrocities, evolution is as close to proven fact as any theory in science can ever get. It's right up there with the theory of gravity and the theory of relativity.

However, it was her apparent equation of the murder of millions of self-conscious human beings during the holocaust with the termination of pregnancies -- not self-conscious fully-formed human beings... often not even close -- has offended many of her followers, some of whom were already getting over her anti-atheist comments the day before.
I love you and you are a sweet girl. But I am Jewish and I can't even understand why you would compare the Holocaust to abortion. Women have abortions because their life style or body is not fit for a child. Do you think women feel good after killing an innocent child? It was what they had to do to save a baby from a miserable life. The Holocaust was when 9 million innocent and defenseless people who were deemed 'less than human' were slaughtered. Please don't ever compare those two again. Again I say, you are a lovely girl, just don't compare slaughter to selflessness. -- _mya_butoryak_
Abortion is not murder if you look at science. A fetus isn't viable or alive within the time abortion is allowed. Comparing that to the Holocaust is horrendous. Those people were alive and slaughtered. They were put through hell. To say something that isn't alive is going through the same thing is unjustified. I hope your child does not grow up with the same prejudice and narrow-minded approach to life. Shame on you, @jessaseewald. God forbid you're raped. Would you want that reminder of the attack? And putting a child up for adoption? Well, there are 109,000 children in the foster care system in the United States alone. And millions of ALIVE children around the world waiting for a loving family to adopt them today. I pity you and your lack of compassion. -- mayniacmeg
Ironically, comparing the holocaust with abortion -- many of which are performed when pregnancy is under 12 weeks -- is sort of extra dehumanizing, I think, for the victims of the holocaust. As the last commenter pointed out, these people -- who were completely aware of their situation -- were made to suffer in the vilest and cruelest ways over extended periods. The suffering was totally unthinkably gruesome and horrifying. To say that's the same as abortion belittles the event.

Look, I'm no big fan of abortion. Who is? However, in many situation it's the lesser of several evils and, in the end, it must remain a woman's choice over her own bodily autonomy.

Some of you may wonder why I'm even covering this story. Well, Jessa is the product of her upbringing. It is a cloistered, sheltered evangelical Christian homeschooled upbringing that is anti-evolution, anti-climate change, (anti-science), anti-choice etc. So, this is apparently what you get. It's not Jessa's fault -- by all indications she appears to be an intelligent woman who's simply working with what she's got.

Another reason is that, apparently, half a million people follow this Instagram. It's sad, but these people are looked up to by thousands if not millions of young people. Her words may have more effect on some than all the teachers and public speakers out there.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

South African "Eat Grass" Pastor Now Urging Congregation To Drink Gasoline

Lead warning on a gas pump at Keeler's Korner, Lynnwood, Washington (built 1927). (source)
Remember Pastor Lesego Daniel of Rabboni Center Ministries? He's the South African preacher who urged his congregation to eat grass. That was pretty bad and, as far as I can remember, resulted in people vomiting copiously. Well, now things are worse and I think the police probably ought to be called. He's telling people to drink gasoline! This is no longer funny -- it's sick.
A video showing a controversial South African Christian pastor making members of his congregation drink petrol – which he said would turn into pineapple juice – has sparked a public outcry.
Is he just toying with people now to see how far they'll go? This is like some cruel test to see to what degree people can become completely deluded by blind faith.

Skip ahead to the seven minute mark. Things get completely messed up.

Read on, this man should be locked up.
Pastor Lesego Daniel of Rabboni Center Ministries, located north of capital Pretoria, can be seen in the video holding a bottle of petrol, which, he says, he had prayed for to turn into pineapple juice.

The video, which has gone viral online in recent days, shows Pastor Daniel first giving the petrol to one of his fellow preachers to test.

A female congregant then comes from the audience shaking and dancing, reaching out for the bottle in the pastor's hands.

"You want to drink pineapple juice?" Daniel asks her before giving her a sip of the petrol.

Then several other congregants come forward and drink from the same bottle.
So far, though, it seems that the authorities aren't doing anything at all to control this insanity. The above article quotes a dean of Theology who's pretty sure this isn't Biblical and that although the country's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, this freedom ends when people get harmed. Well, at least someone said that.

Two other people were quoted expressing their outraged, but unlike the dean, they remained anonymous.

Seems like nobody is challenging this pastor who is now clearly a danger to human life.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Americans Sure Are Talking About Those Atheists These Days!

This whole situation's gone to the Birds.
I usually shy away from commenting about all the really interesting things going on in the United States. Usually, I feel ill-equipped to make any sort of useful commentary and Hemant Mehta or Jerry Coyne usually cover it really well anyway. Sometimes, though, I cannot help but point stuff out -- sort of like your clueless Canadian uncle come down to the family reunion who, with the patience of a saint, must explain that our bacons are in fact identical. A man who refuses to pronounce house or boot incorrectly.

I'm working off less than four hours of sleep here, so I will not stumble to the point. It seems like people are talking a whole lot about atheists in the U.S of A. these days. I mean, I'm not able to even keep up with folks telling us all to stop behaving like Dawkins or Maher, or telling us we all should be Kirks instead of Spocks or that Sam Harris has turned us all Buddhist or that being atheist makes you an anti-Christ! Just look it all up on Google! Who can keep their food down these days? It's pretty wild.

We're surrounded on all sides! Troop morale is at an all time low as they peck at our eyeballs while simultaneously complaining they're the most persecuted group in the country! Barricade the doors! Stock up on canned beans! The irony meter has burst past Defcon 5 and we should all retreat soon cower in our bomb shelters or under staircases!

No doubt, the release of Nicholas Cage and Left Behind will spell the end of all of us. We'll all likely facepalm ourselves to death,but until then we have these two devastating occurrences -- prophesying much worse future calamity.

First off, there is this man in the United States who shares DNA with Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. We can remember Phil as being the guy who kept saying wild and irrational things about the gays and who very recently suggested that ISIS needs to be converted to Christianity under threat of death -- a point of view remarkably similar to the folks over at ISIS.  Well, his nephew, Republican House Candidate Zach Dasher, very obviously shares the bits of DNA that control brain-mouth functions with his uncle Phil.

GOP House Candidate: ‘Atheist Agenda’ Caused Sandy Hook Shooting
“He was made in the image of God,” Dasher said of the shooter. “But somewhere along the way he believed what the atheist says. He reduced humanity to nothing more than a collection of atoms, to be discarded like an old banana peel. I guarantee you, now this is my hypothesis, that even saw himself as nothing more than chemicals.”
Let this sink in for a moment. He's saying that an atheist cannot help but have a reduced view of humanity and that they must also see themselves as being depraved or sub human. This seems to be a common and highly concerning point of view among theists. I cannot help but think that it's dehumanization like this that can lead to some pretty gruesome actions. Oh, and did I mention this guy is running for the House? I thought I would repeat that to emphasize the absurdity of this situation.
He also said those who blamed the shooting on loose gun laws or mental illness were missing the point: “To blame the acts of a mass murderer on mental illness, for one, is a slap in the face, I think, to reason. It’s the equivalent of blaming lung cancer on coughing.”
No, instead he's implying that anyone who doesn't believe in his god becomes depraved and sub human enough to commit mass murder. I cringe to think what might happen if he should ever try to stop all this mass murder at its root. I wonder how that might go down.

The only thing I can agree with this guy on is his disdain for postmodernism! Well, that's a relief.

In second place here is Jessa Duggar, one of the 19 Duggar children whom Ken Ham recently praised for visiting his Creationism Museum. She had something to say about atheism too.

Jessa Duggar News 2014: ’19 Kids & Counting' Star Angers Fans With Atheism Rant On Instagram

(Nevermind the video on that page, it's just an advert for her new book.)
In her post, Duggar wrote, "Atheism - the belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason what so ever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs. Makes perfect sense."
Magically, eh? I'm not sure why she would have such a problem with that since the family apparently is all for the magic thing according to a new book she wrote along with 3 of her sisters.
"Magic, sorcery, witches, spell-casting and the like are all part of the demonic realm that God wants us to stay away from. One specific thing that our parents have always been careful about is magic, which often shows up in children's movies. As harmless as it may seem, it's not a joke in God's eyes," sisters Jill, Jessa, Jana and Jinger in their book, Growing Up Duggar.
Yeah, seems like anything goes in a belief system like that, while atheist types quite often rely on this thing called science. Did Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar not teach their kids science when they were home schooled? How am I to take her post about atheism seriously at all if she believes in witches and spell-casting and demons?

Jessa, why not pick up a copy of Why Evolution is True? Or any university level course might do.

Why does our culture put such value on those who have such a blatant and open disdain for science?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

We Are All Fig Trees In the End

"Teachings of Jesus 36 of 40. parable of the fig tree. Jan Luyken etching. Bowyer Bible" by Phillip Medhurst - Photo by Harry Kossuth. Licensed under FAL via Wikimedia Commons.
I'm absolutely certain that someone has mentioned this before -- perhaps Christopher Hitchens? Anyway, something else struck me when reading Carolyn Hippolyte's book, Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born-Again Atheist. It's just after the opening of chapter 4 which I quoted in my previous post about the book.

p. 81
[...] Over the years, I have watched believers seriously struggle over the odd or violent stories in their holy book. Even Emily was occasionally flummoxed by the Bible. One day she recounted how disturbed she had been during her morning devotion upon reading that Jesus had cursed a fig tree for not bearing figs when it was not the season for figs (Mark 11:12-14). I am certain that she must have read this story dozens of times since she spent a good deal of time reading the Bible every day, but her demeanor was as one who had never encountered the story before. She was sitting on the floor and she pounded on the ground, saying. “But Jesus, you are always loving. I don’t understand since it was not the time for figs.” I said nothing, and she said nothing. We never talked about this matter of the figs again. She moved on with the same piety she had before. It should not be surprising that this fig story was not a deal breaker. What I think is noteworthy is that this seemed to me one of those moments when we read the Bible without the veil of dogma and for a moment, we see it for what it is. For a moment Jesus looks not only human, but even a bit irrational. But for a believer, these moments are short-lived. Something else in the mind takes over and forgetting the brief moment when the voice of reason was heard, one returns to reading the text as one wishes it were.
This parable and the reaction to it reminded me of what Christopher Hitchens said about the cruelty of a supposed God who would create not just fig trees but all of humankind to be flawed and then expect perfection.

Or put differently, punish those who cannot honestly believe in his existence would be punished for not being capable of getting it with eternal hell. I suppose they do it to themselves the same way the fig tree does it to itself when it's simply not in season.  This tree is merely behaving as it was supposedly designed! Seems to more resemble the behaviour of an abusive parent than a loving father to me. Perhaps some wise Christian can explain Jesus' seemingly childish fit and apparently brutal snuffing of a perfectly good tree.
I have been called arrogant myself in my time, and hope to earn the title again, but to claim that I am privy to the secrets of the universe and its creator — that's beyond my conceit. I therefore have no choice but to find something suspect even in the humblest believer. Even the most humane and compassionate of the monotheisms and polytheisms are complicit in this quiet and irrational authoritarianism: they proclaim us, in Fulke Greville's unforgettable line, "Created sick — Commanded to be well." And there are totalitarian insinuations to back this up if its appeal should fail. Christians, for example, declare me redeemed by a human sacrifice that occurred thousands of years before I was born. I didn't ask for it, and would willingly have foregone it, but there it is: I'm claimed and saved whether I wish it or not. And if I refuse the unsolicited gift? Well, there are still some vague mutterings about an eternity of torment for my ingratitude. That is somewhat worse than a Big Brother state, because there could be no hope of its eventually passing away.
-- Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian