29 September 2008

Pastor Thinks his Flock are Idiots Too

Well, it's nice to see I'm not the only one. That seems like a harsh thing to say, but really...

Rev. Johnson and 32 other pastors are openly preaching politics in their churches, ignoring the special rule special religious folks get so they can skip out on their taxes. I'm getting to where I'm fine with this--I'm just looking for any reason to take this privilege away from churches and make the pony up the phat cash the rest of us have to. Yes, yes, there's the separation of church and state, but we all know that's a bit of a joke, so, since we seem to need the extra income anyway, let's reform the tax code. That aside, here's the best part of the article:
Asked why he felt the need to discuss the candidates by name and to be explicit in rejecting Obama and his pro-choice views, Johnson said he must connect the dots because he is not sure that all members of his congregation can do so on their own.
Okay, that's the second best part. Here's the best part:
The congregation greeted Johnson's reasoning and his criticism of Obama with applause.
"He's right! We're rock stupid!" He might be right. Those people need all the help they can get in making, probably, the most menial decisions. He might have to walk them to the polling stations.

26 September 2008

Obama Too Cool?

Now I've heard everything. This...this is just ridiculous.
DUNEDIN, Fla. — Where many politicians would have aspired to show anger, Senator Barack Obama spoke in a soft, even tone as he reached the crescendo of his speech Wednesday about government mismanagement of the economy...

Two hours later, after Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, said he would temporarily stop campaigning because of the economic crisis, Mr. Obama looked downright unflappable at a news conference. Referring to this week of economic peril — and tweaking his Republican rival — Mr. Obama said flatly, “Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time.”

However forceful and passionate Mr. Obama can be, his speeches and public appearances this week have underscored how he is sometimes out of sync with the visceral anger of Americans who are losing their jobs and homes. He often talks about growing up on food stamps and about having paid off his student loans only recently, yet his tone and volume, body language, facial expressions and words convey a certain distance from the ache that many voters feel.

What? That's what Americans want? They want a President who is as panic-stricken as they are in a time of crisis? Have we lost our minds?? This is as stupid as those idiots who will vote McCain because they feel Sarah Palin is 'just like them,' or the morons who voted in Bush, twice, because they thought they could 'have a beer' with him. Seriously people?

If Bush was going to have a beer, he wouldn't be having it with some poor slob from, say, Lawrenceville, outside Pittsburgh. And, really, there are really people out there who would vote McCain because they feel like they could do a good job as VP--some hockey mom PTA-er who 'knows what it's like to balance family and work?' Really? And, seriously, we really want a President who's about to blow a gasket on live TV because we ourselves are feeling somewhat freaked out by the economy?

We've lost our minds. Really, if this is how the majority of Americans are thinking, we with a thimble full of sense need to vacate the premises and let these idiots ride this nation into the ground. I hear Sweden's nice...

07 September 2008

Sarah Palin's Church: A Clear Menace

Watch this. Watch it right now.

Sarah Palin's churches are actively involved in a resurgent movement that was declared heretical by the Assemblies of God in 1949. This is the same 'Spiritual Warfare' movement that was featured in the award winning movie, "Jesus Camp," which showed young children being trained to do battle for the Lord. At least three of four of Palin's churches are involved with major organizations and leaders of this movement, which is referred to as The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit or the New Apostolic Reformation. The movement is training a young "Joel's Army" to take dominion over the United States and the world.
Yes, read, but more importantly watch. Pay special attention to the societal roles of some of these people: administrators, teachers, vice principles...this is very, very upsetting. These people are psychotic.

If you were on the fence before--if you're one of many atheists who, like me, have been concerned about the Democrats turn towards faith and away from secularism--then you really need to watch this. If you can, find a church like this near you and attend. Watching the video is terrifying, but it's nothing compared to being in the same room with this kind of insanity (and make no bones about it, this is nothing short of insanity).

This is the church of McCain's VP pick, Sarah Palin. This is the person who will be, as they say, a heartbeat away from the Presidency. I do strongly suggest that you make it a top priority to be at the polls on November 4th.

Inaction, in the face of this, is irresponsible and reprehensible, and if McCain wins, frankly, unforgivable.

06 September 2008

Who the Hell is this Woman?

Out of necessity, this blog must take on a decidedly political bent. I really wanted to keep it strictly about atheism and religion, but the current political climate forces me to do otherwise.

I missed the DNC convention last week as I was out of the country, and even missed the introduction of Sarah Palin as the GOP VP pick (imagine my surprise when I re-reentered the country and found it on the airport CNN broadcasts). At first, I thought, 'Really? Joke?' I thought McCain had finally proven his senility to the country in one fell swoop. I certainly know better now. This woman is a menace.

From what I understand of her, she is worse than what we've been putting up with for the last 8 years. If the far Religious Right thought they had power before, now it will know no bounds (just when we thought it was on the wane). The thing about Bush is that, despite his yammering on about his God and mission, there was a safe spot in the back of our minds that told us he didn't really mean it. It was all a big show to keep the nutters happy and guarantee their votes when needed. He didn't really believe it. Maybe to an extent, but it was never anything that topped his political ambitions. With Palin, it looks as though we have a real warrior for God. This is disturbing. More than that, it is horrifying.

Now here this:
Palin has called on people to pray for the cooperation necessary to build a natural gas pipeline across Alaska, labeled the U.S. mission in Iraq a "task that is from God" and argued that students should be taught the creation account from Genesis in public schools.
Click the link and read more about her views on the environment and foreign policy as influenced directly by her faith. Her theological background preaches 'man's dominion over the earth,' and in that sense, all the drilling, polluting, and destroying matters not.
"When she talks about using up our non-renewable resources, drilling on the North Slope and building the pipeline, it's almost with glee because in a sense it doesn't matter," said Nancy Hardesty, a professor of religion at Clemson University in South Carolina.
Her own pastor has this to say regarding her foreign policy outlook:
Rev. Tim McGraw, Palin's pastor when she became mayor of Wasilla, said believers look to Israel for signs of the coming end times and where they are in God's plan. That would undoubtedly influence Palin's approach to foreign policy, McGraw said.
Not terrified enough, ladies? How about this? She opposes sex-ed and supports abstinence only education. This is despite her own teenage daughter getting knocked up, unmarried. Guess that promise ring didn't do much to keep her from playing a little 'hide the sausage' with a 'fucking redneck' (yeehaw! Embarrassed guy? You should be). If this woman can't get abstinence only to work in her own family, how does she expect it to work for an entire nation?

Solution? Keep the baby! All of them! Now matter what! That's right, if Palin has her way, we will have no choice, ladies. McCain wants to overtrun Roe v. Wade. Palin wants it too, one state at a time and regardless of the situation. From her 2006 gubernatorial race:

The candidates were pressed on their stances on abortion and were even asked what they would do if their own daughters were raped and became pregnant.

Palin said she would support abortion only if the mother's life was in danger. When it came to her daughter, she said, "I would choose life."

This is hardcore even to the average Anti-Choicer.

Ladies, don't be stupid--a vagina isn't a vagina isn't a vagina. You can't just throw a set of genitals up there and say, ah, she speaks for me because we both have vaginae. Please. A vote for Palin isn't a vote for a woman's rights. I've seen this type of 'powerful woman' before. This is the kind of woman who knows that in order to make it in life--to get ahead in powerful positions--she must go along with the sexist status quo. Her religion has made this easier for her. She is the type of woman who knows that in order to get along with men and become 'one of the boys,' she has to act and think like one of them, which is to say, she must oppose everything that is good and equal for women and do her best to uphold business as usual. Worse, she needs to do what she can to take away what rights we've fought to hard to acquire over the years. This is one way women can get men to like them. The other way is to screw them.

This is not a feminist candidate. This woman is not for us, she is against us. Do not be fooled. If we expect to be considered for more than our genitals, we have to look at the rest of the world and each other in the same way. Look at this woman's credentials and try to control your gag reflex as you want to throw up at the spectacle of the Republican Party snagging a traditionally Democratic cornerstone--feminism--and rape it. Want to puke? Me too.

To recap, and more:
She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.
Got it? Good. That was my plea to women not smart enough to figure it out. This is my plea to men not smart enough to figure something else out: Just because she's doable doesn't mean it's okay to vote for her. I understand some men's desire to have a little eye-candy around, but really, this is not the time, nor the place. Put it back in your pants and start thinking with your big head.

04 September 2008

Yay for Christian Alarmist Propaganda

Oh, what one stumbles upon in the early hours whilst slowly extricating oneself from the peaceful void of slumber over a cup of coffee.

Check out Clifford Goldstein's 'Faith Attack' on Liberty Magazine Online. First off, the language used referring to atheists and atheism is clearly chosen very carefully to invoke the popular 'militant' image of atheists among Christians. Usually, when I come across this sort of rhetoric, I can safely dismiss the whole article as alarmist drivel. This is no exception. Enjoy some of these choice excerpts:
Picture this dystopia: in the name of rationality, reason, and science—religion is severely pro-scribed. Some religious beliefs— beliefs —deemed so dangerous that those holding them should be killed. The concept of religious “tolerance” would also be anathema: persons would not be allowed to hold whatever religious beliefs they chose—this cannot be for beliefs deemed irrational. And parents could be charged with “child abuse” for giving their offspring a religious education.

It all sounds like something from the failed social experiments of the Soviet Union, the Eastern bloc countries, and other now defunct Marxist regimes, perhaps?

Perhaps. Yet that kind of society would be the logical outgrowth of views promoted by an elitist clique of atheist writers, philosophers, scientists, and scholars. Dr. Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris are at the forefront of what’s been dubbed “the new atheism,” a take-no-prisoners, shock-and-awe assault on any theism at all.
Ever see those silly little comic tracts depicting poor Christians in tattered clothing running for their very lives through dark woods in such a bleak and violent future-vision such as this? I have and they'd be funny if they weren't such an accurate description of how some Christians seem to think they are truly persecuted. Goldstein, please. Now, he does quote Harris a little later:
Sam Harris, in his screed The End of Faith, writes, “I hope to show that the very ideal of religious tolerance—born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God—is one of the principal forces driving us toward the abyss.” As if that weren’t enough, he argues that “some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.”
I haven't read Harris. I'll assume he did indeed say these things. And if Harris suggests that anyone be killed for holding any idea, then I would say that Harris is a schmuck. I'll go ahead and put myself out there now to speak for what I believe the majority of atheists think--that no one be killed for their beliefs, and even that no laws be enacted to infringe of any believers' right to believe whatever they want and to worship. That said, though, what Harris says about "very ideal of religious tolerance—born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God—is one of the principal forces driving us toward the abyss"--I agree. I do. I do believe that one major factor in humanity's long, slow spiral downwards is this sad and pervasive tendency to believe in irrational things. And the huge problem of not being allowed to directly address the issue without being told we are intolerant, or worse, militant, and being accused of wanting to physically wipe out Christians. Fact is, no one can say 'boo' about anyone's religion, no matter how ridiculous, and actually, how violent, it can be.

This is what I think Goldstein's real problem is. He seems like a relatively intelligent person, so I don't really believe that he really believes that any part of the atheist 'agenda' involves actually hunting down and killing Christians in droves. When he pulls the Harris quote, he effectively, by means of the opening paragraph, paints all atheists--specifically Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, etc.--with the same violent, bloodthirsty brush. It has been these same men who have made it a little easier to criticize religion. These popular thinkers/authors have made gains for atheists to be able to articulate our problems with religion. And since there's nothing actually wrong with that, Goldstein must drum up some real (well, imagined) fear. Hence, we are all just foaming at the mouth to shoot all Christians for nothing more than believing. It's ridiculous, and thoroughly dishonest.

Much of the rest of the article is hardly worth touching, except for this little gem, referring to religious indoctrination as child abuse:
Children do need to be taught something about themselves, their origins, and their destiny, right? The new atheists, then, would teach their children—what? That we’re created by chance, with no ultimate purpose or destiny, and that more conscious thought went into someone spray painting graffiti on a wall than went into our existence? Children who lose siblings, friends, or parents must be taught that these people are gone forever, with no hope of ever seeing them again. The children will also learn that they themselves, and all their hopes and dreams and desires, will also one day be forever gone—with no hope of redemption, no hope of having the hard questions answered, no hope of anything but the pain and suffering of this life, followed by the eternal blackness of a cold and dead universe.

Child abuse, Dr. Dawkins, can come in myriad forms.
Where to even begin? Mr Goldstein: We don't teach our children we were 'created' by chance, and for myself, the theories we have as to how exactly life came about are rather amazing and, frankly, uplifting. You're right, I don't believe that I have a particular purpose or destiny, but I have a whole lot of fun going through life deciding what I want it to be (because it is exactly what I want to to be), instead of looking up to a God with whom I have no direct, tangible contact to tell me what it is, and then sighing in resignation when I get to the end of my life, forced to be content with never really knowing how I fit into 'his plan.' And, no, I don't need to know that thought was put into my very existence--the fact that I exist is astounding and, to me, an incredibly happy and positive thought.

And yes, we lose people we love, and yes, we will never see them again, just as someday we will die and that will be the end of that. Frankly, that is infinitely more preferable than going through life believing that one misstep on my part (a misstep, by the way, constantly provoked by God himself, as for some reason he saw fit to fill our world with endless temptation and suffocating rules) and I burn in hell. Yes, indeed, give me nothingness--if nothing else, at least it's poetic.

Now, let me repeat the last bit:
"...with no hope of redemption, no hope of having the hard questions answered, no hope of anything but the pain and suffering of this life, followed by the eternal blackness of a cold and dead universe."
Really...that's what you think atheists teach their kids? Dude, what's wrong with you? First off, we would only worry about redemption if we were teaching ourselves we had done something wrong. Since we don't, we don't really have to worry about redemption. That's your problem and you bring it on yourself. As to answering the hard questions--scientists have been answering many hard questions for quite some time. Will I die before some are answered? Of course. But the amount I'm able to learn through the scientific work of others already fills my lifetime with a tremendous amount of awe and wonder, and for that, I am perfectly content. Actually, it's very exciting. Disappointment at the end of life can only come as the same sense of not being able to finish watching the movie. Oh well. No hope for anything but the pain and suffering of this life? What life are you leading? Thus far, I've had a pretty good life. Has there been pain and suffering? Sure. But really, is your outlook on life so pathetically bleak that you teach your kids that there is nothing but pain and suffering and the only relief is in dying? That isn't the outlook of atheists, that is the outlook of Christians. Clearly.

Well, that was fun. I hope you all have enjoyed this excursion into the mind of a Christian alarmist and his pathetic, bigoted, fear-mongering propaganda. Have a swell day.

02 September 2008

I Have Returned

This post is nothing more than a note to say I've returned. I've been back a couple of days, actually, but classes have officially started as well and that's been keeping me busy.

The King's College expedition was a success--while I was sure I'd have to find what I needed, to be honest, it was a bit of a crap shoot. However, out of 69 letters, I narrowed it down to 2 plus a few notes that were exactly what I was looking for (*relief*). It took me two days to read two letters, his handwriting was so poor. But I triumphed, and then hopped a train down to Bath to get drunk with friends--which I did with a certain amount of celebratory gusto. Oh, to be in a place where the Guinness doesn't taste like ass.

Now that that's out of the way, I give you this for fun:
A Donegal atheist had to be buried in Londonderry because the county has no facilities for non-religious burials.

Journalist Roy Greenslade's mother was buried in Ballyowen cemetery in Derry on Tuesday after a humanist service.

He said he was told atheists could not be buried in Donegal because the graveyards are church-owned.

"Therefore unless one is willing to compromise one's beliefs by agreeing to a religious service, it is impossible to be buried," he said.

"There is a degree of black comedy about this, and my mother, who had a fantastic sense of humour, would certainly have laughed.

"When I rang up and asked Derry City Council's cemeteries department if it was possible to bury an atheist in a municipal cemetery they said it was possible because there were different sections for Catholics, Protestants and Muslims.

"My wife asked if it meant they were going to start an atheist section and the woman said, 'oh no, she can go in with the Protestants'."

A spokesperson from Donegal County Council said it is only responsible for old and unused graveyards.