Archive for the “Metaphysics” Category

Aimless metaphysics of all sorts

Haredi crowd aisle after refusing to sit next to women on flight /  Photo Credit: Amit Ben Natan, via Shalom LifeAir travel is a nightmare these days, as everyone knows. What with TSA’s laughable “security theater” antics — which includes making passengers take off their shoes, belts, and throw away their coffees and sodas at security checkpoints — there’s the problem of cramped flights jammed with cranky people. Well, a bunch of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men on a flight from JFK in New York to Israel recently did their best to make this already-bad situation much worse for their fellow passengers. This debacle, Canada’s Shalom Life reports, stemmed from the fact that none of them would sit next to a woman (WebCite cached article):

Passengers aboard an El Al flight from New York’s JKF airport to Israel claim that hundreds of ultra-Orthodox passengers demanded that they trade places with them before takeoff, saying they cannot sit next to women.

“It was an 11-hour long nightmare,” one of the passengers summed up her experience.…

According to the passengers who were on the plane, their fellow ultra-Orthodox travelers refused to sit next to women prior to the takeoff, which not only delayed the flight, but caused actual chaos to ensue on the plane.

“People stood in the aisles and refused to go forward,” said Amit Ben-Natan, a passenger who was on board the plane.

“Although everyone had tickets with seat numbers that they purchased in advance, they asked us to trade seats with them, and even offered to pay money, since they cannot sit next to a woman. It was obvious that the plane won’t take off as long as they keep standing in the aisles.”

I’m not quite sure what horrific thing would have happened to any of these guys if they’d actually shut their faces and sat down next to women. Would they explode? Would they catch some kind of disease? Do they have “girl cooties” that the Haredi just can’t allow to infect them? What, exactly, is the point of this sort of juvenile and idiotic shit-fit? Someone please tell me, because I can’t figure it out. Perhaps that’s because I’m just a cynical, cold-hearted godless agnostic heathen and can’t comprehend such holy matters. Or whatever.

Something that didn’t help at all, was that the El Al flight crew actually indulged these incredible religionistic crybabies:

Passengers claimed that though the El Al flight crew informed them they do not have to agree to a switch, the flight’s captain said over the PA system that the flight would not take off as long as people were standing.

“This is completely inconsiderate of the non-haredi travelers. I don’t know many airlines that would allow their passengers to act like that,” said Bar Natan.

What Bar Natan said is true. I’ve never heard of any airline crew tolerating disruptive passengers, especially while a plane is still on the ground and they can kick the malcontents off easily.

Note that, even once the plane was in the air after they’d pitched their fit over the presence of women, the Haredi compounded it all by creating even more trouble while in transit:

It seems that after takeoff a large portion of the haredi travelers took to the isles to pray which, according to their fellow travelers, crowded the isles and caused the flight to be unbearable.

Again, it seems the flight crew indulged these guys because they allowed this to occur. Well done, El Al! How nice of you to bend over happily for your ultra-Orthodox brethren. Their irrational, childish, metaphysically-rationalized wishes, after all, are vastly more important than getting a plane in the air on time or making other passengers comfortable. The rest of the passengers must be treated like shit compared to the all-important Haredi. What they say goes, and everyone else can go fuck off. It’s mandatory … for some reason, again that I can’t fathom, and again that’s probably due to my being an insolent, cold-hearted godless agnostic heathen, not gifted with sacred insight into such godly matters.

Photo credit: Amit Ben Natan, via Shalon Life.

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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Archbishop Nienstedt / Jeffrey Thompson/MPR NewsThe R.C. Church has been having trouble lately up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Archbishop John Nienstedt of St Paul and Minneapolis has been dealing with a few controversies over the last year or so. But something else has come up. As Minnesota Public Radio reports, a Catholic parish’s musical director was fired because he married his same-sex partner (WebCite cached article):

Archbishop John Nienstedt has asked the music director of a parish in Victoria, Minn., to resign after learning that the man married his long-time male partner last weekend, according to a letter from the parish priest [cached].

“Our beloved Director of Music, Jamie Moore, married his long-time partner Garrett this past weekend,” the Rev. Bob White, of St. Victoria Catholic Church, wrote in a letter to parishioners posted on the parish website this week. “Since Jamie’s marriage conflicts with official Church teaching, Archbishop Nienstedt asked for Jamie’s resignation.”…

In a written statement to MPR News, Nienstedt said he was “consulted about the employment matter and I responded by saying the teachings of the Church must be upheld, including the pastoral response of working with an employee whose actions are contrary to the Catholic faith.”

Note that these two accounts differ a bit. Rev White explicitly says Nienstedt asked for Moore’s resignation; the archbishop said he’d merely been “consulted” about it. Thus, Nienstedt implies it was the priest, not himself, who requested the resignation. Although he doesn’t exactly deny any involvement in the decision, he does downplay his part in it. The priest’s account, on the other hand, doesn’t suggest his role was anywhere near that remote.

Note that his Excellency’s thinking on the matter is clouded by his wingnutty beliefs about gays, which MPR News helpfully relates:

[Nienstedt] has also said that “homosexual inclination is a result of some psychological trauma” that occurs before the age of 3.

I have no idea what evidence Nienstadt has to support this insane hypothesis. I’d love for him to divulge it — if he dares. I doubt he will, of course, since there probably isn’t any.

Given Nienstedt’s nuttiness on the subject of gays, his refusal to rein in child-abusing priests, and the possibility that he or someone who worked for him may have destroyed evidence of kiddie-porn possession by one of his priests, I suspect the liar here is Nienstedt and not the Rev White. Although I certainly can’t be sure of that.

Photo credit: Jeffrey Thompson/MPR News.

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Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford 3, 2009-09-02You could say the archdiocese of Hartford is the gift that keeps on giving … for agnostic bloggers like myself, anyway. Some two and a half years ago, this is the outfit whose attorney, Jack Sitarz, achieved a new high in low, during a civil trial over child abuse by a priest, by not only claiming the abuse wasn’t harmful because the victims “liked it,” but then by doubling down on that claim later in the same trial. (This is in spite of the fact that minors cannot by law be construed as consenting to sexual activity. Even I know this, and I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not sure how Sitarz got away with it.) Fortunately, the jury didn’t fall for Sitarz’s nasty and reprehensible maneuver (WebCite cached article).

Well, the archdiocese isn’t done scraping up new ways to evade responsibility for the abuse that it knew Fr Ivan Ferguson had been guilty of. They’ve appealed the verdict, the Hartford Courant reports, and demand the Connecticut Supreme Court invalidate the law that allowed the suit in the first place (cached):

The Archdiocese of Hartford is seeking to have the state Supreme Court overturn a $1 million verdict in a priest sex abuse case while at the same time reversing a state law that extended the amount of time in which accusers may file a lawsuit against it.

In February 2012, a jury in Waterbury awarded a former altar boy $1 million after a trial in which the victim, identified in court papers as Jacob Doe, testified that he and another friend were repeatedly molested and sexually assaulted by the Rev. Ivan Ferguson and a friend of the priest.

The diocese is asking the Supreme Court to overturn that verdict based on a variety of claims — including that the trial judge erred by not allowing an expert witness to testify for the church and by allowing the jury to hear testimony from a deposition of Ferguson.

But the most controversial argument is the claim that a state law last updated in 2002 — bumping to 30 years the statute of limitations for when a victim of sexual abuse may file a lawsuit — is unconstitutional and should be stricken.

What the archdiocese conveniently leaves out of the discussion, is just how long ago it knew the abuse had been going on, and even after it knew about the abuse, purposely chose to put Fr Ferguson back in a place where he could abuse more kids:

At the trial, testimony showed that when former Archbishop John F. Whealon confronted him about the 1979 allegation, Ferguson admitted to the abuse. Ferguson was sent to a treatment facility in Massachusetts. Two years later, Whealon appointed Ferguson priest director of a Derby school.

Ferguson and his boyfriend were accused of abusing Doe and his childhood friend at, among other places, the rectory to which Ferguson had been reassigned in Derby. At the time of the abuse, from 1981 to 1983, the boys attended the school. Ferguson died in 2002.

Now, I know some of the Catholic Church’s defenders here in Connecticut. Most of them are convinced no Catholic clergy ever abused any kids; that plaintiffs and their lawyers fabricated claims solely to extort money from a totally-innocent Church. It’s all a pack of malicious lies, you see, cooked up by greedy trial lawyers. While I agree some trial lawyers are greedy, and also agree it’s possible some plaintiffs are exaggerating or lying for profit, the cold facts are:

  1. Clerical child abuse has occurred within the Catholic Church;
  2. It happened all over the world, not just in Connecticut;
  3. The Church hierarchy knew damned well it was going on;
  4. The bishops happily and giddily continued putting kids in harm’s way by redeploying abusive clergy all over the place;
  5. And they actively interfered with secular authorities’ efforts to prosecute it, stifling investigations and even refusing to obey mandatory-reporting laws.

So am I impressed with these apologists’ objections? Fuck no. I’m nowhere near as stupid as they seem to think I am.

It’s long past time the archdiocese of Hartford stopped making ridiculous excuses, such as “the victims liked it,” grew the hell up already, and owned up to what they did. In this case, that was was to knowingly put Fr Ferguson in a place where he could abuse Jacob Doe and his friend. Pitching fits and whining in court over “unfair” legislation, is not accountability, and not what anyone ought to expect of Jesus’ representatives on earth. If you’re a Catholic and don’t like hearing this … well, it’s time you fucking grew up too, and started holding your own Church accountable, even if your bishops refuse to do so on their own.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Pope Francis leaves after officiating a mass at the wedding of 20 couples in St.Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, September 14, 2014. REUTERS/Giampiero SpositoSeveral times I’ve blogged about Pope Francis diverging from established papal traditions, even when his own officials in the Vatican disapproved. Well, he’s done it again. The Pope married 20 couples today, Reuters reports, some of whom aren’t what one would call traditional candidates for marriage in the Catholic Church (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis married 20 couples on Sunday, some of whom had already lived together and had children, in the latest sign that the Argentine pontiff wants the Catholic church to be more open and inclusive.

In the first wedding he has performed in his 18-month-old papacy, Francis took each couple through their vows in turn — including Gabriella and Guido, who already had children and thought such a marriage would be impossible, official broadcasting service Radio Vaticana said.

“The people getting married on Sunday are couples like many others,” the diocese of Rome said in a statement. “Some already live together, some already have children.”

I hadn’t realized it, but Popes marrying people is fairly rare, as Reuters explains:

The ceremony was the first of its kind in the Vatican since Pope John Paul II presided over a wedding in 2000, when he was the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics.

I expect traditionalists within the Church will soon pitch fits over this. It wouldn’t be the first time, and as I said, the Pope doesn’t seem to mind such confrontations. Which is kind of a refreshing change from the past.

Photo credit: Reuters/Giampiero Sposito.

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Gustave Doré (1832-1883), The Crusaders war machinery, via Wikimedia CommonsThis is the second of two posts today on the subject of what I call the Great Neocrusade … i.e. the American Religious Right’s war on Islam, mostly within the US but in some cases not limited just to this country.

There are a lot of really angry Christianists in the US, and most of them are mortally offended by the mere existence of Islam, which they view as the world’s chief rival to their own religion. Many of them sincerely believe that there’s no such thing as “Islamic extremism”; in their minds, all Muslims everywhere are by definition “extremists,” so all Muslims must be put down before they slaughter everyone else. Or something like that.

That the US is now contending with the Islamofascist group ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-people-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood isn’t helping. That particular outfit is guilty of a level of savagery the world hasn’t seen much of in the last decade or so. Boko Haram’s kidnapping of hundreds of girls in Nigeria earlier this year, and al-Shabaab’s attack on a mall in Kenya a year ago, provide similar examples of the primitive barbarism some Muslims have been willing to stoop to in the name of their particular version of Islam.

While groups like this don’t represent the entirety of Islam — in fact, other Muslims are more frequently the targets of their savagery — these sorts of events fuel Christianists’ sanctimonious rage over Islam and push them to lash out as a result. Right Wing Watch reports on one such Christofascist whose shit-fit over Islam made him declare an “overwhelming Christian just war” on that faith (WebCite cached article):

Yesterday, anti-Islam activist Gary Cass, founder of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, posted a piece on his website [cached] in which he calls for Christians to prepare to wage holy war in an effort to utterly destroy all 1.6 billion of the world’s Muslims because Christians simply have to “face the harsh truth that Islam has no place in civilized society.”

Saying that there is no possibility of converting Muslims to Christianity and forcibly sterilizing all Muslims in order to prevent them from building an “Army of Islam” is impractical, Cass declares that the only solution is biblical violence, which is why Americans must now begin preparing to launch an “overwhelming Christian just war” by arming themselves and their children and forming “small cells” that will “crush the vicious seed of Ishmael in Jesus name”

I won’t quote any of this creature’s nasty screed. If you feel like reading it, you can do so for yourself. I will just point out that Cass’s group, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, is just another of many Christianist groups who presume that Christianity needs to be “defended” because it’s about to be wiped off the map. There is, of course, no effort to abolish Christianity in the US even if Cass and his colleagues believe there is. Christians are the majority in the country and will remain so for the indefinite future. He and the rest of the Religious Right have been hoodwinked by the psychopathology inherent in their own religion to want to feel persecuted for their beliefs, so they simply invent that persecution.

In any event, while the country’s Christofascists are cheering on Cass’s declaration of “just war” on Islam, I’m sure the rest of the world … especially the Muslim parts of it … aren’t entirely impressed. Cass doesn’t care about them, of course. In fact, the angrier they get, the happier he gets, because their anger only fuels his own sanctimonious indignation over Muslims’ continued insolent refusal to convert en masse to Christianity. In their minds, the only way to deal with some Islamists’ jihad against the rest of the world, is to direct a Christian holy war right back at them! In the meantime, those of us who’re neither Christian nor Muslim are watching these two groups engage in a pissing contest over whose god can beat up who else’s god. It’s all very tedious and also deadly, but since both sides are deeply mired in immaturity and anger, it’s not going to get better any time soon. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Gustave Doré, Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, via Wikimedia CommonsToday I offer not just one, but two blog posts on the theme of what I’ve referred to as the Neocrusade; i.e. the American Religious Right’s effort to outlaw Islam in the US (and sometimes destroy it everywhere else).

I’ve blogged before about Christofascists declaring that the First Amendment’s freedom of religion doesn’t extend to Muslims. Usually the reason cited is because Islam — supposedly — isn’t really a “religion” per se, but rather, it’s a political philosophy. Therefore, the reasoning goes, it can Constitutionally be outlawed. Or something like that.

Of course, I’m not sure how that works, because as far as I know, the US also has things like freedom of speech and freedom of association, which together would make it impossible for government to outlaw any given political philosophy. Maybe that’s just because I’m a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen and such important sacred notions are beyond my feeble, god-deprived mind.

But I digress.

Despite this, it’s rare for Religious Rightists to just come right out and say this. They tend to keep this notion close to their vests. Even so, once in a while one of them lets it slip. It turns out that, as Right Wing Watch reports, Tony Perkins did precisely this recently (WebCite cached article):

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who now styles himself as an Islamic scholar, said on his “Washington Watch” radio show yesterday that members of militant groups like ISIS are the real Muslims who are truly “practicing their faith.”

Islam is such a danger, Perkins explained, that Muslim-Americans should not have the same religious freedoms as other citizens.

He echoed other Christianists on the subject of why Muslims should be deprived of freedom to follow their religion:

He warned that Islam isn’t necessarily protected under the Constitution because it “tears at the fabric of our society” and undermines “ordered liberty,” adding that Islam is “not just a religion, it’s an economic system, it’s a judicial system and it’s a military system.”

As with other Christianists who’ve advocated defying the First Amendment in order to outlaw Islam in the US, Perkins claims it’s not merely a religion, but a lot more, thus depriving it of protection:

He warned that Islam isn’t necessarily protected under the Constitution because it “tears at the fabric of our society” and undermines “ordered liberty,” adding that Islam is “not just a religion, it’s an economic system, it’s a judicial system and it’s a military system.”

I find it truly odd that a Christian like Tony-boy would condemn Islam because “it’s an economic system, it’s a judicial system and it’s a military system.” After all, the Religious Right movement as it exists in the US is most certainly an economic system, a judicial system, and a military system. If we’re to deprive Muslims in the US of their religious freedom on those grounds, then by the very same reasoning, Perkins and the rest of his fellow Christofascists must also forfeit theirs.

Only a brazen hypocrite could come up with something that insipid. Perkins’s own Jesus explicitly forbid him ever to be hypocritical, of course … but Tony-boy isn’t aware of that, and not likely ever to obey that injunction even if he were to be educated about it.

To be clear, I’m no more a fan of Islam than I am of Christianity (an accusation that correspondents have leveled at me). It is, of course, absolutely correct to protect the US and American interests, and Islamic terror groups such as ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-people-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood ought to be destroyed. There also does appear to be something about Islam which allows such primitive barbarism to grow and fester in a manner not seen — at this moment — in any other religion. But even this admission doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, or even helpful, to outlaw Islam in the US or deprive Muslims here of their religious-freedom rights, merely because some anxious Christian presumes mosques here might be recruiting terrorists. Americans — all Americans, not just Christians! — have certain rights, not the least of which that they shouldn’t be presumed guilty of wanting to be terrorists until there’s reason to think they might be. This means Muslims should be left alone in their homes and mosques (which should continue to be built) until there’s information suggesting otherwise.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Baphomet.pngAlmost 4 years ago I blogged about Satanists performing their rites in Oklahoma City and about Christians there protesting. It seems they just couldn’t handle Satanists being in their midst. But the Satanists haven’t backed down; as the Christian Post reports, later this month they plan to have a black mass and Satanist exorcism there (WebCite cached article):

The Satanist group that will stage a controversial “black mass” at an Oklahoma City civic center has said that all 88 tickets for its Sept. 21 event are sold out. The co-founder of the group revealed that the ritual will go ahead despite strong Christian protests and will feature a satanic exorcism, but will be “toned down” to comply with state health laws.

“One of the dictates of the church is not only to educate the members but to educate the public, and to debunk the Hollywood-projected image of our beliefs,” Dakhma of Angra Mainyu’s Adam Daniels told ABC News [cached].

He added that the group will comply with state health laws and substitute vinegar for actions involving urine as part of the satanic ceremony.

Daniels said that the ceremony will also feature Dakhma of Angra Mainyu deacons and priest who will stomp, spit on and use explicit language on an unconsecrated host, a wafer presented as a form of the resurrected Jesus Christ.

Christians are upset about this and plan to protest it, because — you see — this is just too insulting for the poor little things to take:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Catholic Archbishop Paul Coakley, and over 80,000 people who have signed an online petition have all condemned the upcoming event.

Fallin called the black mass a “disgusting mockery of the Catholic faith,” saying that it should be “equally repellent to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”

“It may be protected by the First Amendment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t condemn it in the strongest terms possible for the moral outrage which it is.

If we’re going to talk about “repellent” behavior that — supposedly — just can’t be tolerated, Governor & Archbishop, then by all means, let’s do so! I mean it. Let’s talk about all of the following “repellent” things said by your own co-religionists:

If we move away from the insensitivity, insults, and viciousness of Catholics and include other Christians, we have the following:

I could post hundreds more examples of similarly “repellent” words and behaviors by Christians, both Catholic and not. Why is it such an intolerable outrage when some Satanists poke fun at Christianity (and yes, that’s all they’re doing), given the horrible words and behaviors of Christians themselves — which other Christians never seem able or willing to correct?

Here’s a thought for Gov. Fallin, Abp. Coakley, and any other Oklahoman Christians who’re pissed off at these insolent, outsider Satanists daring come int their midst to lampoon their religion: Get your own fucking house in order before you go bellyaching about what other people are doing. Grow up, toughen up, and deal with your own, and only then will you have the moral standing to complain about what you find “repellent.” OK? It really is that simple.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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