Archive for April, 2017

'Miracles: It's all smoke and mirrors' / Motifake.ComReligious believers have an odd way of wringing “miracles” out of what are actually disasters. Take, for example, some tornados that tore through eastern Texas yesterday (WebCite cached article). Amid the mayhem and destruction that these tornadoes wrought, though — as CNN reports — Christians in Texas managed to track down “a miracle” (cached):

Parishioners say it’s a miracle that no one was harmed when a deadly tornado hit a Texas church on Saturday night.

About 45 people had gathered to honor high school graduates at the parish hall of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Emory, a town outside of Dallas, Texas.

If you’re like me, by this point in the story, you had in mind a vision of a church full of worshippers who, in the middle of their service, found their church vacuumed up neatly from around them by the tornado. They were magically shielded from injury by the awesome metaphysical power of the Almighty.

But if you thought this, you’d be wrong. Instead of divine intervention, it turns out there was — instead! — merely human intervention, as the story immediately relates:

They received a warning to take cover because a tornado was approaching, and decided to take refuge in a hallway between the parish hall and the main part of the church, said Peyton Low, director of public affairs for the Diocese of Tyler.

So, instead of the Almighty magically saving these people, what happened was that mere-human meteorologists warned them about the tornado; their warning was conveyed to them by a disaster-warning system built and staffed by mere humans; and the mere humans in the church figured out where to go that would keep them safe.

No divine intervention was needed … at all. Human beings, themselves, managed to prevent injury in this particular case. Yes, that’s “human beings.” Not “God.” S/he/it had nothing to do with it.

The Christians of Emory will, no doubt, not care one iota about this. No doubt they much prefer giving their deity credit for what the human beings managed to do, here, and call it a “miracle” rather than pat themselves on the back for having handled this disaster correctly. For some reason, they’ll be emotionally comforted by this effort to rob humanity of credit for what it has accomplished. I have no idea what that reason is, but they’ll do it.

In the meantime, they’ll conveniently forget all the people who weren’t magically saved by divine intervention (cached):

Five people were killed and at least 50 people were taken to hospitals after a tornado hit a small city in East Texas on Saturday.

Officials confirmed late Saturday night a total of five people had died, CBS Dallas / Fort Worth reports [cached]. None of the victims had been formally identified as of Saturday night.

These tornadoes weren’t a “miracle” for the 5 people who died or the 50 hospitalized. It was anything but a miracle for them. Rather, for them it was a fucking disaster. A catastrophe.

This is just another example of religious believers engaging in their time-honored tradition of cherry picking, selecting just the tiny little bits of things that grant them emotional comfort, while brazenly ignoring everything else which happens to contradict their irrational beliefs. What’s troubling is that the parts of this story Christians are purposely ignoring, are injuries and deaths. Is life really so cheap, in their eyes, that they can be so casual about it?

Photo credit: Motifake.Com.

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Unsplash, via PixabayThe Commonwealth of Kentucky has an awful lot of problems … or so I thought. I mean, last I knew, it’s home to some of the most impoverished counties in the entire US (WebCite cached article). It’s taken decades for Kentucky to devolve into its current dismal status. Yes, it’s been hurt by the loss of coal production, but no, this wasn’t caused by the coal-hating Barack HUSSEIN Obama; coal jobs have diminished steadily since the 1980s, under presidents of both parties.

But it seems the Bluegrass State has solved all of its problems, including the deep poverty of its eastern reaches, because Frankfort has moved on to dealing with problems it doesn’t have: Namely, not enough Bible-thumping. As the Christian Post reports, Kentucky’s governor bravely signed a bill that establishes a foundation for Bible classes in the commonwealth’s public schools (cached):

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin recently signed a bill into law that authorizes public school boards to allow schools to offer elective Bible literacy courses and provides state guidance to help establish such classes, local news outlets have reported [cached].

According to the Ohio County Monitor, Bevin, a Republican, has signed House Bill 128 into law, which provides guidance to schools as they begin offering students the ability to sign up to take Bible courses.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. DJ Johnson, passed overwhelmingly in the state’s senate 34 to 4 late last month.

The CP article includes obligatory references to the historic nature of the Bible and how important it is to civilization and yada yada yada. It even included this claim:

“Additionally, studies show that students that have a higher level of Bible literacy also tend to have higher GPAs,” [Republican representative DJ] Johnson continued.

No citations to these “studies” are provided, and I’m willing to bet either that no such thing exists, or they were commissioned by religious groups, in which case their results are suspect at best.

The article also points out the classes designed as a result of this law are to be “electives” only. The problem is that large swaths of Kentucky are packed with militant Christianists, so in many schools these “elective” classes won’t really be “electives”; nearly all kids will take them as a matter of course, and the few who dare not do so will be harassed and bullied. Yes, it will happen, no matter how vehemently the people promoting these classes insist they won’t permit it.

As someone who’s studied the Bible both from a religious and secular perspective, I don’t deny that secular Bible-literacy courses can have value for kids. The problem is, will the folks who teach these classes be willing to limit themselves to a secular approach? Will they have the restraint not to use them as an opportunity to proselytize? I’m not sure all of them will be able to resist the temptation to do so.

Really, what’s going on here is a kind of Bible-worship, or treating the Bible as though it were an idol. The people behind this law think that exposing kids to it will magically make them Christianists just like themselves. They really need to stick crowbars into the Bibles they long ago slammed shut, though, and actually read them for once … because it contains admonitions against idolatry and other forms of magical thinking.

At any rate, allow me to congratulate the Commonwealth on its achievement. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with Kentucky any more, and all that’s left is the passage of laws to promote Bible-reading. Well done, Kentuckyites! You must be so proud!

Photo credit: Unsplash, via Pixabay.

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Better to remain silent, and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth, and remove all doubt! (proverb) / PsiCop original graphicThe compound train-wreck which is the Apricot Wonder’s presidential administration just keeps piling up more wreckage. White House press secretary Sean Spicer — who already faces a monumental credibility gap, having begun his tenure by angrily (not to mention brazenly) lying about the size of the Groper-in-Chief’s inauguration crowd (WebCite cached article), just outdid himself in asinine stupidity. At today’s press conference, as the New York Times explains, he not only went off the rails, he polevaulted over them and sailed half a mile beyond (cached):

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, set off an intense backlash on Tuesday when he suggested that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was worse than Hitler and said incorrectly that Hitler had not used chemical weapons during World War II or against his own people.

Mr. Spicer was attempting to lend gravity to the actions of Mr. Assad, who United States officials believe used sarin gas, a lethal chemical weapon, in an attack on a rebel-held area of Idlib Province last week that killed dozens.

Hitler oversaw a network of extermination camps where gas chambers were used to kill millions of Jews and others deemed to be harmful to the German state.

“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Mr. Spicer said.…

Asked to clarify his remarks, Mr. Spicer acknowledged that Hitler used chemical agents, but maintained that there was a difference.

CNN offers video of Spicer’s cringeworthy debacle:

I can’t even describe the inanity and idiocy of comparing al-Assad to Hitler. There are just no words. I mean … seriously!? … what the fuck is wrong with Spicer? As a rule, Hitler comparisons are always a bad idea. This one is many times worse, because as it turns out, the Nazis definitely gassed Jews and others in concentration camps — in horrifically large numbers, at that. Spicer’s comparison is pure lunacy! It’s indefensible … period, end of story, full stop.

I expect, though, that Spicer and the rest of the Groper’s minions will continue — in spite of the obvious absurdity of doing so — defending this insane comparison. Moreover, their fanbois will join in the defense, and rail against any members of the media who lambaste Spicer over his buffoonish comparison. They’ll do so largely because of their allegiance to the Groper-in-Chief, whom they think can do no wrong, and because some of the Democrats they so vehemently despise have demanded Spicer’s resignation over the matter (cached). Democrats’ vilification of Spicer means — in the eyes of militant Rightists — that he must be correct.

This is a lesson in my principle (described above) that Third Reich comparisons are usually a bad idea, just by their very nature. I blogged about this, not only because of how tremendously crazy Spicer’s comparison is, but because as a rule, Hitler comparisons are altogether too common. The Right flung them at Barack Obama and the Democrats for the last 8 years, and they’re now being heaved at the Right from the opposite direction. It needs to fucking stop already. Time for everyone to grow up, fercryinoutloud, and put the Nazi comparisons away.

Photo credit: PsiCop original, based on proverb.

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