.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

The Big Picture

'Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.' -- Vizzini from "The Princess Bride"

Friday, November 30, 2007

The War On Christmas and a Sudanese Teacher

You may wonder what the two have in common, but in reality it is very clear. Both exihibit an --unnatural-- sensitivity to things which may be perceived as insulting or attacking one's religion. In this country, Christians consider themselves to be persecuted (i.e. the equivalent of being thrown to the lions) if they are told 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas', and then those very same Christians turn around and scoff at Muslims who take offense to naming a teddy bear 'Mohammad.' This AP story, already well known by now, gives the details..

Pictures of Jesus and Mary used in innappropriate ways is highly offensive to Christians, just as images and use of the name Mohammad is to Muslims. But the brain-damaging irony only comes into play when Christians call Muslims 'sensitive' for being offended when their religion is mocked. And yet Christians the country over, all get in a hissy fit if some 16 year old says happy holidays instead of merry Christmas, because as everyone knows, "Jesus is the reason for the Season.." I mean it certainly has nothing at all to do with the pagans who celebrated the winter solstice (shortest day of the year) as the turning point of winter towards the rebirth of spring. Nope, that certainly has nothing to do with it.

In this country, aside from the vaunted War On Christmas, Christians are year-'round peeved that they are not allowed to foist their peculiar beliefs upon all other Americans who are not Christian. 'Christian Nation' is their war call. But what happens when the topic turns to, say, Iran. There is no mutual respect for Iran being an 'Islamic Nation'. In its place you hear and read terms expressed by leading Christians such as 'Islamo-fascism' 'Islamic terrorists' and 'islamic extremism.' If Iranians treat Christians as second-class citizens, then that is bad, it is repression of other religions. But in America, it is perfectly acceptable to treat non-Christians as second-class citizens. Can you imagine James Dobson of Focus on the Family arguing that it is ok for atheists to place anti-Jesus displays next to nativity scenes in public areas? Neither can I.

I guess there is one true common link between all religions. Every religion's one true god is named hypocrisy.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 23, 2007

Literature: Conservative and Liberal

PZ Myers has a great post up which should make anyone with an I.Q. greater than two digits stand up and take notice. In it he is humorously (well, not so much, as it is serious) commenting on the recent debate over over the books written by an atheist, Philip Pullman. The first of the trilogy, has now been made into a movie, "The Golden Compass."

Anyway, it seems that conservatives, and especially Christian conservatives, want to simply ban books that they don't want anyone to read. Their current attack is preventing children to read books which may challenge the conservative's viewpoints. But we all know they also want to prevent adults from the same -- They want to prevent adults from viewing pornography, for example.

Is this really effective? Simply eliminating from public access books and material which they do not want be publicly known... But more importantly, how does the left handle books and material they do not want on the shelves, for public consumption?? The liberals of this world all have one thing in common, they will allow public access to all information, books, materials, etc. Their limit has to deal with only one thing: Delivering factual accuraccy to our children. Liberals only want to limit the direct teaching of anti-factual ideas, or at best, fact-less ideas. However, liberals do not support restricting access to books which support those same ideas. The perfect example is Intelligent Design. No liberal has suggested that the book, "Of Pandas and People" be eliminated from libraries despite it being full of factual inaccuracies. But teaching that same dreck to students should be completely eliminated from school science curricula.

I guess the simplest way to put the difference is this: Conservatives, especially conservative Christians, think that removing access to all books they don't like and preventing individual choice is the best route whereas liberals think that teaching only fact based classes and allowing access to non-factual hogwash for everyone is best.

And oddly enough this again boils down to whether or not one lives in a reality-based community, like liberals; or some fantasy land, like conservatives.

Labels: ,

Friday, November 16, 2007

Things I am Tired Of, But Appreciate Anyway

One of the biggest traffic attractions to my blog is... Pat Robertson and his prophecies for this year. I have to admit that I hate that the topic which brings the most people to my blog is also the most absurd. I have yet to find one single Christian who thinks Pat is in any way a messenger of God or even simply sane. But that stands in stark contradiction to the fact that he remains a very popular and influential televangelist.

However, my rather silly insights into the whole Pat Robertson annual tete-a-tete with God is exactly what brings the most traffic to my blog. People want to know what he says and and what others (like me) think about it. That is fine. I think he is nuts, as do many Christians. But that is not what I want to be as my main message to the world. I intend to show how Christianity is a damaging worldview (much like Christopher Hitchens in his book) along with all other diety-based religions/worldviews. I continually show how those very religions who claim to 'save' humanity are the very same groups who harm it most. I also use morality as a tool for this end. Morality is something which is common to all peoples. But it is not the same for all peoples and is continually changing throughout time. The 'absolute morality' of Christians is no different. The only thing which can be said when it comes to morality is that it is merely a set of guidelines for a civilization to survive. And the more effective those guidelines are, the longer that civilization exists. In other words, it is purely human-based. Even in religious circles, their morality is only valid as long as it propagates their community. No God involved -- Only human survival.

This has been the goal of my blog since its inception. But I guess I'll have to live with the fact that this is no longer relevant, only what Pat Robertson has to say as far as what he 'hears' from God. As that seems to be the only attractor to my blog.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Some Heavy Philosophical Thought on Christian Morals

Christianity Today has up an article discussing racial slurs, character questions and the issue of morality. Obviously all those issues are related. But can you guess how they are related from a distinctly Christian perspective?

Surprise! They are not related in the way any normal --sane-- person would say. A person who lies, cheats and steals cannot be described as a liar, cheater or thief by anyone and they be moral for making that accusation according to Christian theology; so says Mark Galli. Whereas, it is moral to call a dark-skinned person of recent-times African descent (we are all of African descent if we go back to the origins of humanity) a 'nigger', 'darkie', 'colored', etc. The reason why, according to Mark, will surprise you.

Mark opens with this (try and spot the obvious error(s)):
A thought experiment: Is it worse to call former secretary of state Colin Powell a racial slur, or to call him a liar?

Let's see, being born black or choosing to mislead a nation into an unnecessary war which has caused the deaths of more Americans than 9-11...

Hmm. Woooo Boy. That is a tough one. Calling Powell a 'nigger' for being born black, or calling him a liar for causing the deaths of thousands of Americans. I think I'll have to go with door number one here. That is certainly more immoral. He can no more change his heritage than the moon can change its composition to swiss cheese. But lying?? He did that, and the blood of thousands of Americans is on his head (along with many others, of course). Powell committed a huge immoral act, and calling it such is in no way itself immoral.

But racial slurs, that is entirely different in nature. It does not become a slur if it is simply a description. 'Black' is still acceptable as it is merely a differentiation between 'White'. 'Black' is only a slur if it is used in place of 'nigger'. So why then, is it a slur? Because it suggests more than simply heritage. It suggests many negative general qualities. Intelligence, untrustworthyness, conniving are but some of the other attributes that accompany 'nigger' outside of skin color. If 'nigger' only meant 'black' then it would be as harmless as calling someone tall or short or fat or skinny, or Asian, or African or European. But 'nigger' has nothing to do with inherant traits such as these. It has everything to do with characteristics. And those characteristics are not ones that are earned --i.e. the individual may never have stolen or killed-- but are generalities unrightly bestowed upon an entire group because of prejudice. Undeserved characteristics are the bedrock of racial slurs. This is the the most glaring distinction between slurs and labelling Colin Powell a 'liar'. He lied. He has admitted he lied.

But Mark does not see it that way. He thinks it is worse to identify a person by what they are according to their actions than to misidentify an entire race according to qualities for which they are innocent of.

Let us see how he puts it:
Most people would agree that to call Colin Powell a racial slur reflects nothing on Colin Powell as much as it says something about the person using the word. But if one calls Colin Powell a liar, (as some are now doing regarding his role leading up to the Iraq war) then that is a direct attack on his very character. While many would not believe for a second that Powell is a liar, it raises in other minds the possibility that maybe he is—and thus his character is smirched.

Ok, Colin Powell isn't a liar. He was given false information and turned around and spread it around the entire planet even though he personally had strong reservations about the authenticity of the information. But he went ahead and told the world Iraq had WMDs when reality said they didn't -- i.e. He told a lie. But he is not a liar.

It is really simple. He told the world Iraq had WMDs. They did not. He lied. It does not require any sort of logical gymnastics to call him a liar. He lied, that makes him a liar. He could have done something about it at the time, like refusing to tell the lie. But he didn't. What about the other side of the coin? Can he do something about the color of his skin? So if someone demonizes him with generalized characteristics based solely on the color of his skin, that is more moral? According to Mark it is.

If that wasn't enough, then read this:
Many were aghast recently when they learned that reality show star Dog the Bounty Hunter used the n-word to describe some blacks, and earlier we were disturbed that shock jock Don Imus implied that certain black athletes were prostitutes—both comments manifestly silly that reflected nothing about the character of the people they were talking about. Yet when bloggers and pundits—and even leading Christians who describe themselves as "social prophets"—call their current political leaders "liars" and "murderers"—well, we hardly blink.

Maybe because the direct and specific accusation fits their willful crimes. Why is it wrong, in Mark's view, to call a person who lies a liar? And please correct me if I'm wrong, but don't Christians call abortion doctors 'murderers'? So are those Christians less moral than white supremicists who call blacks 'niggers'?

If a person is guilty of the willful committal of the crime, be it lying or murdering, then calling by that title seems appropriate. We now know Powell told the world something he knew to be untrue. He admits that now. That makes him a liar.

But then, the very next paragraph goes off the rails, he completely changes subject. It almost is as if he accidentally spliced two seperate posts together...
We are appalled when men treat women like sex objects, when they use sexually demeaning terms to talk about and to them. But we as a society wink and smile when we hear jokes on sitcoms that imply that a sexually healthy person will—of course! —look at pornography now and then. If there were ever a world where women are really demeaned and abused, it would be pornography. While we've
created workplace laws to prevent verbally demeaning talk, we have no political
will to create laws that will stop the pornographic degradation of women.

I get it, this isn't about calling a black person a 'nigger' at all... It is about pornography! Because women the world over are all demeaned when some women make money off their bodies. Of course the men making money off their bodies in the same movies is not demeaning to men everywhere. And sex... Whoa! No one should ever admit to liking or even having sex because it is just too dirty. That peeping tom sky fairy is watching all of us even in the shower when we may possibly be --gasp-- masturbating. So sex and porn is worse than racial degradation and racial slander. As is calling a liar a liar.

Then he jumps into probably the only coherent statement he makes in the entire post:
In the church, examples abound. Take just one: I've noted how some members are shocked, just shocked, if their minister uses an occasional swear word in conversation, yet they don't seem to worry much if he rarely preaches about bringing justice to the poor.

He is completely correct here. If you actually read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you will find that social justice and caring for the poor is the primary teaching of Jesus. Yet only the liberal pro-gay Christian churches teach this aspect of Jesus. All other more conservative churches teach hellfire and forced dominionism on the masses. If all Christian churches focused on justice for the poor instead of electing conservative politicians who lie rape and murder, then not only would this be a strongly Democratic nation, the poor would not be so poor. Why is the occasional swear word more important than starving children? You would have to ask a Christian to get that answer.

He draws all this together in his final point:

Jesus talked about the nature of our spoken words in a larger context. He told a story about a father with two sons. One son says the socially correct thing to a command of his father: "Yes, Father, I will go work in the fields." The other son says the socially scandalous thing: "No, Father, I will not go work in the fields." Yet later, the socially incorrect son actually went into the field to work, and the socially correct son did not.

Jesus said the socially incorrect son was the righteous one. The words we use to talk about others, and the promises we make to others—that is, how we use language—seems secondary to Jesus. It's what we do with our lives that counts. Not everyone who says "Lord, Lord" (or avoids swearing or slurs), will enter the kingdom of

So the 'socially correct' son lied. The "socially incorrect" son did not lie. The socially incorrect son made no promise that he didn't think he could keep. And he in fact went against his statement because he was concerned with more important things, namely doing the right thing -- helping his father in the fields. The other son, the 'socially correct' son, lied. He said he would help and then did not. This story proves that Mark is completely 'talking out of his ass'. For he admits that lying and thus being labeled a liar is less moral than being called something that has no relation to who you really are. For in this analogy, the 'socially incorrect' son is innocent of his label. But the 'socially correct' son is properly labeled a liar. Calling a liar a liar is more moral than calling someone who is innocent of the accusation, a 'nigger', things he is innocent of. Thus Mark disproves his entire thesis here.. Ironically enough with the very words of the God he believes in.

My personal observation is this: Lying is one of the Ten Commandments no no's... But forget about all that according to Mark. Calling someone a liar because they lie is wrong. Throw those commandments out the window. From now on, the new laws of Christians is to be racial, commit whatever crime you feel like, but never ever expose wrongdoing, for that is the one true immoral act.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 02, 2007

The War on Christmas Has Begun, This Time by An Irish Catholic

Sean Hannity, of Fox News Channel, has fired the first shot in the war against Christmas. If you read this Media Matters post about how he describes Halloween, it is equally as applicable to Christmas -- Children learning to be liberals by asking for free handouts. Who knew that an Irish Catholic conservative was really secretly a part of the "great atheist conspiracy" to destroy Christmas.....

Children asking Santa Claus for free toys that they didn't earn the money to buy. What could be more liberal than that? Free handouts from a magical man paid for by nothing more than blind faith that that magical man, God, errr... Santa Claus exists. Well, maybe I'm wrong after all. What could be more Christian than asking for free handouts from a God paid for by nothing more than blind faith in that God. That is most certainly more noble and worthy than asking for a free handout from a flesh and blood person, paid for by dressing up in a costume and having to walk from door to door.

Wait, what is the difference again??

Labels: ,

Why The Religious Right Is So Warm and Fuzzy and Lovable

Over at Crooks and Liars, they have a video clip and transcript of an interview with the Rev. Fred Phelps. He comes off like a raving loonie. If this is the best the gay-hating anti-constitution Christians have to offer, then rejoice, civil rights and equality will be scoring a major victory soon.

My take on it was the whole "persecution" angle. In the early centuries of Christianity persecution meant torture and death. But today's most vile of Christians all claim persecution simply because they are prevented from abusing, murdering and denying equal rights to groups they hate. The funny thing is, they are all free to spew their harted within the confines of their churches, in their homes, to their impressionable children, even on public streecorners. Yet because they are not able to codify their disgusting views into law, forcing their views upon everyone else, that is persecution.

Labels: , ,