Archive for the “Metaphysics” Category
Aimless metaphysics of all sorts
As I’ve mentioned several times before, once upon a time, the vocation of “ghost hunter” and/or “paranormal investigator” was rare. It was so rare, in fact, that in Connecticut, where I grew up, these phrases were used to speak only of Lorraine Warren and her late husband Ed. Over the past 10 years or so, though — probably owing to the numerous television series on “ghost hunting” that have cropped up on almost every cable channel — it seems virtually everyone has become a “ghost hunter.” And why shouldn’t they? There’s no training involved, no credentialing, and no standards to abide by. Pretty much anyone can grab a camera, a recording device, maybe a light meter, and traipse through old places claiming to find “entities” and assorted other nutty stuff.
Most of the time, aside from the occasional trespassing incident (cached), and the even-more-occasional freak-accident death, there’s little harm this pastime. Still, “ghost hunters” do manage to get themselves into trouble, and even destroy property. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports on a cadre of ghost hunters who, upset that they couldn’t manage to scare up a ghost in a supposedly-haunted plantation, set fire to it (WebCite cached article):
The seven men in custody in connection with the suspected arson of LeBeau Plantation [cached] in Old Arabi apparently were looking for ghosts, according to St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann. The sheriff said the men had been smoking marijuana and drinking in the vacant house.
One of the men is from Arabi, one is from Gretna, and the others are from Texas, the sheriff said.
The men, between the ages of 17 and 31, arrived at the home late Thursday night, likely entering through a gap in the fence around the property that had been cut out by other curious trespassers over the years, according to Col. John Doran, who oversees the Sheriff’s Office’s criminal enforcement.…
Doran said the men appear to have become frustrated when no ghosts materialized. Police believe that in a haze of alcohol and marijuana, one of them decided to burn the place to the ground.
Doran said the ringleader seemed to be Dusten Davenport, 31, of Fort Worth, Texas, who is suspected of having the idea to start the fire, and who began stacking up pieces of wood.
Despite being supposedly fogged by booze and/or pot, these creeps managed to do a pretty thorough job of razing the place. I have to wonder how intoxicated they truly were. They’re lucky none of them was hurt or killed during the course of this little adventure.
Photo credit: Ray Solis Photo, via The Times-Picayune.
Hat tip: Raw Story, via RationalWiki.
, ghost hunter
, ghost hunters
, ghost hunting
, haunted house
, haunted houses
, lebeau plantation
, old arabi LA
, paranormal investigator
, paranormal investigators
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In most cases I respect the Amish and many of the other Mennonite communities. Unlike the vast majority of Christians, they’re willing to put into actual practice many of the things Jesus taught, such as simple living, pacifism, etc.
But note, I said “in most cases.” Sometimes the counter-productive (and potentially dangerous) nature of their metaphysics rears its head, and that’s something I can’t respect. An example of this comes in this report from ABC News, about an Amish family that fled the country in order to prevent their leukemic daughter from getting chemotherapy (WebCite cached article):
A 10-year-old Amish girl with leukemia and her parents have left the country to seek alternatives to chemotherapy, according to the family’s attorney.
Sarah Hershberger and her parents oppose chemotherapy, and have been fighting the Akron Children’s Hospital in court after the family stopped Sarah’s treatment. Her parents said the treatments have caused their daughter a great deal of pain, and they’d rather focus on herbal and natural remedies.
Their initial stated objection to chemotherapy is the discomfort it causes:
Sarah had tumors on her neck, chest and kidneys when her parents initially agreed to chemotherapy at Akron Children’s Hospital earlier this year. Her parents said the side effects were terrible, and they wanted to treat Sarah’s leukemia with alternative treatments.
I concede that chemotherapy can have terrible effects … but it also can be a very effective treatment for an illness that, left untreated, is inevitably fatal. Lots of medical treatments, unfortunately, can cause pain and misery, such as setting a broken bone. But I don’t know anyone with a broken bone who wouldn’t want it set. But even after objecting on those grounds, the family’s metaphysical objections emerge:
“We’ve seen how sick it makes her,” Andy Hershberger, Sarah’s father, told ABC News in August. “Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it’s God’s will.”
The family’s religion tells them that the form of Sarah’s treatment doesn’t matter: If their God wants her to get better, she will, and that’s the end of it, for them. They may as well not even give her any of their herbal concoctions, since the whole matter is entirely up to God, who will be doing all the work.
Note, therefore, their disingenuousness: All that crap about the pain caused by chemotherapy is just a smokescreen they’ve thrown up in order to divert people’s attention from this detrimental metaphysics.
I’ll point out that whatever herbal concoctions the Hershbergers give Sarah, may not even be what’s on their labels. And they aren’t without potential side effects. Moreover, reliance on homeopathy vs. conventional medicine can, indeed, be deadly, as another family recently discovered.
Lastly, it doesn’t seem anyone is really doing much to protect Sarah from her family’s for-her-deadly religionism:
Law enforcement officials said at this point there was no formal search for the girl.
Granted, they may just be saying this in order to give the Hershbergers they idea that they’re home free, but until I see evidence of that, there’s no reason for me to assume this must be the case. If in fact authorities are not looking for this family, that’s one helluva way to serve and protect.
Photo credit: louisepalanker, via Flickr.
Tags: akron OH
, alternative medicine
, conventional medicine
, herbal remedies
, herbal remedy
, killing kid for jesus
, killing kids for jesus
, sarah hershberger
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Today the Roman Catholic Church marched out relics which, the Vatican claims, belong to St Peter, the man whom legend claims established Christianity in the Roman Empire’s capital. The AFP via Yahoo News reports on this momentous occasion (WebCite cached article):
Bones believed to belong to Saint Peter, one of the founding fathers of the Catholic Church, went on display for the first time Sunday, as Pope Francis held a ceremony to end the “Year of Faith”.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered to catch a glimpse of the remains, eight fragments of bone between two and three centimetres (around one inch) long displayed on an ivory bed within a bronze chest on a pedestal in St. Peter’s Square.
The chest, given to pope Paul VI in 1971 and usually kept in the tiny chapel of the papal apartments, was decorated with a carving of Peter, who was a fisherman before becoming the Church’s first pope, casting his nets into the sea.
Given that Christianity in the city of Rome does date back to the first century CE, and has had a more-or-less continuous presence there since, one would think these bones might have been collected and saved all that time. But that turns out not to be the case. These relics were a 20th century discovery, and it’s not at all clear these are truly the bones of St Peter. But the Vatican is undeterred by archaeological questions:
The bones have long been the object of controversy between historians and archaeologists: they were first discovered in a 1940 dig next to an ancient monument honouring Saint Peter, but ended up gathering dust in a storage box.
It was not until archaeologist Margherita Guarducci discovered graffiti near the excavated tomb reading “Petros eni”, which could mean “Peter is here”, that she requested tests on the fragments.
She found they belonged to a robust man who died aged between 60 and 70 and had been buried in a purple, gold-threaded cloth — enough to convince Paul VI to say in 1968 that Peter’s bones had been identified “in a convincing manner.”…
“Faith, the people of God, have always believed these to be the relics of the apostle Peter, and we continue to venerate them in this way,” Rino Fisichella, head of the pontifical council for evangelisation, said in the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
The veneration of saints’ relics is a feature of Catholic and Orthodox Christianity which most other Christian sects have done away with. It seems a fairly unsavory practice to cling desperately to the physical remains of long-dead people. But the macabre nature of relic-worship doesn’t faze Catholics. They continue to believe such things carry metaphysical power that somehow connects them more closely to their God … a God whom they believe is omnipotent and therefore, presumably, doesn’t require such things to maintain his connection with his followers.
Let’s face it: People are irrational creatures, and it’s events like these that help demonstrate it.
Photo credit: AFP Photo / Vincenzo Pinto, via Yahoo News.
Tags: catholic church
, pope francis
, relic veneration
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
, saint veneration
, st peter
, st peter's bones
, st peter's square
, vatican city
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Todd Starnes at Fox News is furious. That, of course, is normal for him, as it as for every other militant Religious Rightist. They live in a perpetual state of sanctimonious rage over … well, something. Based on a tip from an equally-outraged California pastor, he condemned the Costco warehouse chain for insolently labeling the Holy Bible as “fiction” (WebCite cached article):
What do the Bible, “The Hunger Games” and “Fifty Shades of Grey” have in common? All three are works of fiction, according to the booksellers at Costco.
Pastor Caleb Kaltenbach made that shocking discovery last Friday as he was shopping for a present for his wife at a Costco in Simi Valley, Calif.
“All the Bibles were labeled as fiction,” the pastor told me. “It seemed bizarre to me.”
While this may seem “bizarre” to the pastor and to Starnes, it doesn’t seem at all “bizarre” to me. Unlike the vast majority of Americans, I’ve actually read the Bible. From cover to cover. In several translations, and in Greek (which is the original language of the New Testament, and the form of the Old Testament as most of the earliest Christians knew it). It is most definitely “fiction,” no matter how fervently any Christianist thinks otherwise.
Starnes then narrates the tale of poor Pastor Kaltenbach traipsing through a Costco store and its corporate bureaucracy, demanding an explanation and removal of all those insolent stickers from all of their Bibles in stock. Starnes also quotes Kaltenbach lampshading his own martyr complex:
“On the one hand Christians should not yell out ‘persecution’,” he said. “We aren’t living in Iraq or Iran. But on the other hand, I believe that we do need to stand up for our faith and we need to be vocal about our concerns.”
This is a clever trick of propaganda. Ostensibly, Kaltenbach (and Starnes) are admitting this isn’t “persecution” of them as Christians … yet, nevertheless, by stating this, the clear implication is that it is “persecution.” How nice!
These guys really need to grow up and get over themselves. First, this isn’t Christian persecution. Christians in the U.S. aren’t being persecuted at all. It’s not happening … anywhere. And no amount of sanctimonious fury by Religious Rightists can ever change that.
Second, Starnes and Kaltenbach assume, in this case, that their Biblical-literalist view of the Bible is that of Christianity as a whole; thus, marking the Bible as “fiction” is an attack on all of Christianity. But this isn’t true. Not every Christian denomination takes the Bible literally. There really are Christians in the world willing to accept that some or all of their Bible is, in strict terms, “fiction.”
Lastly, I note that Starnes works for Fox News, which thinks businesses should be free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, free of regulation. Yet, here he’s presuming that he and Pastor Kaltenbach should have authority over how Costco labels its Bibles. In what universe is this consistent? I smell a whiff of hypocrisy here … the very sort of hypocrisy that their own Jesus ordered them never to engage in, and which is clearly and unambiguously condemned within the pages of those very same Bibles over which they’ve got their knickers in a knot. Boo fucking hoo, babies.
Photo credit: Caleb Kaltenbach, via Fox News.
, bible as fiction
, caleb kaltenbach
, christian bible
, christian martyr complex
, christian persecution
, christian persecution complex
, holy bible
, todd starnes
At times I’ve mentioned the phenomenon of Christian Zionism, a philosophy held by a lot of evangelical Christians. These people militantly support the state of Israel, but not out of any love for that country, its people, or Jews generally. Rather, they’re agitating for the Battle of Armageddon, which they believe will usher in Jesus’ return and the End of the World. Evangelicals encourage Israel’s belligerence; the idea is to instigate an attack by “the kings from the east” as described in Revelation:
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east. And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”) And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon. (Revelation 16:12-16)
My position has always been that, while Christian Zionists profess respect for Jews and their place in God’s cosmic plan, the truth is that they’re actually anti-Semitic. But evidence for this can be hard to come by, and disappointingly so.
Recently, however, a prominent Christian Zionist exposed the anti-Semitism that lurks deep inside that philosophy. As Right Wing Watch reports, Pastor John Hagee let the cat out of the bag (WebCite cached article):
Trinity Broadcasting Network hosted a Praise The Lord prophecy special this month, featuring a number of speakers including televangelist John Hagee. The right-wing pastor explained that during the End Times, the Jewish people will not accept Jesus as the Messiah until he returns “because they have just — three-and-a-half years or seven-years before — made a deal with the Antichrist, who is the false messiah, and they are extremely skeptical of that.”
Here’s video of Hagee saying this, courtesy of RWW, via Youtube:
Hagee’s claim that Jews will collaborate with the Antichrist is offensive, revealing the villainy to which he thinks Jews will be willing to stoop. He’s saying Jews are going to betray humanity to the Antichrist. If that’s not distasteful, I don’t know what is!
Hagee goes on to say that Jews will only be convinced that Jesus is the Messiah once he returns and they’ve seen “the riven side.” I find his stated reasoning for this interesting; he claims the original Greek of Romans 11 states that Jews have been “judicially blinded” to the identity of the Messiah. He doesn’t say it, but the specific verse he’s referring to is Rom 11:7:
What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened …
In Greek, this is:
τι ουν επιζητει ισραηλ τουτο ουκ επετυχεν η δε εκλογη επετυχεν οι δε λοιποι επωρωθησαν
The verb in question is the final word in that verse, a form of the Greek verb πωροω (póroó), which doesn’t mean “judicially blinded” at all: Hagee just made that up. It actually means “to be made stubborn” or “to be made unfeeling.” Semantically, this isn’t too far off from what Hagee is saying, however, his claim is rather specific, and as such, clearly false; as someone who presents himself as an expert in Biblical languages, he has no excuse for this. He thus betrays his ignorance of Greek and his lack of expertise.
The RWW article adds Hagee’s claim September 11, 2001 attacks were an act of divine judgement against the U.S. because it had fallen away from him. This is pretty much the same sentiment as had been expressed by the late Jerry Falwell and his friend Marion “Pat” Robertson, just a few days after the attacks. Yeah, folks, this is the Religion of Love in action.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
, battle of armageddon
, christian zionism
, christian zionist
, christian zionists
, end times
, john hagee
, pastor john hagee
, romans 11:7
, second coming
Illinois will soon permit gay marriage (WebCite cached article). And Thomas Paprocki, bishop of that state’s capital, is not happy about it. He’s so angry, in fact, that — as CNN’s Belief blog reports — he plans to exorcise gay marriage from his state (cached):
According to a Catholic bishop in Springfield, Illinois, Satan was behind his state’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage.
So, next Wednesday, at about the same time Gov. Pat Quinn signs the gay marriage bill into law, Bishop Thomas Paprocki will hold an exorcism ceremony “in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage.”…
In September, the Pope said the church has no right to “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians and chided Catholics who “obsess” about fighting culture war issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
But Paprocki calls same-sex marriage “contrary to the plan of God” and says all Catholics who support it — from legislators to county clerks who issue marriage licenses — are “culpable of serious sin.”…
Paprocki says the ceremony will follow the Catholic Church’s Rite of Exorcism, which explains that Satan not only possesses people, he can also invade places and things, including the church itself.…
“We must pray for deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our church,” Paprocki said.
For most of the last century or so, the Roman Catholic Church has downplayed exorcism. Sure, there’s an exorcism liturgy; some priests have been trained as exorcists; and they are occasionally performed. But it’s not something the Church was usually willing to discuss very much, and it’s tightly controlled (an exorcism can only be performed with a bishop’s express approval).
Even so, in the last couple of years, the Church has been a little more open about it, and the numbers of priests trained to handle exorcism has been increasing. As it turns out, Paprocki is one of the hierarchs behind this renewed push into exorcism. Hmm. Coincidence? I think not.
In any event, I’m not sure how Satan is involved in gay marriage; how a couple of gays marrying someplace harms Paprocki, or any other Catholic for that matter; how useful a political tool exorcism may be; and still less do I understand what Paprocki’s exorcism rite is supposed to do about it. But then, what could I — cynical, godless agnostic heathen that I am — possibly know about such dreadfully important things?
Photo credit: Chicago Tribune.
Tags: bishop thomas paprocki
, catholic church
, diocese of springfield IL
, gay marriage
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
, same-sex marriage
, springfield IL
, thomas paprocki
Important update: It turns out there are some problems with the original story described in this blog post. Severe ones. In fact, based on what the New York Post reports, it looks as though it was fabricated (cached). I can no longer stand behind it. But I don’t simply want to delete this post. I’m leaving it as it was — but with this update prepended — as evidence that this was an erroneous report. (Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.)
Christians using their religionism to justify saving a buck by not tipping the folks who wait on them, apparently continues to be a problem. They don’t seem to understand that tipping is the prevailing custom in the U.S. Or maybe they do, but think that withholding tips is a valid way to teach people lessons and coerce them into changing their ways. It isn’t, but that doesn’t seem to matter much to them.
In any event, on the heels of a similar situation just a short time ago, another gay waitress was treated to a stingy dose of “the Religion of Love” (WebCite cached article):
A $93.55 check netted one New Jersey waitress an unexpected tip. Former Marine Dayna Morales, a server at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, got no money for the service she gave one family, but a note that read, “I’m sorry I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and the way you live your life.”
In an email Morales sent to the Facebook page, Have A Gay Day [cached], she writes:
NEVER in a million years did I think this would happen. Not only was it a family with two kids, but as I introduce myself and tell them my name is Dayna – the mom proceeds to look at me and say “oh I thought you were gonna say your name is Dan. You sure surprised us!”
I am THOROUGHLY offended mad pissed off and hurt that THIS is what her kids will grow up learning and that I served in the Marines to keep ignorant people like them free.
Now, I know there are some Christians who disagree with this behavior. And that’s all well and good, I suppose. But there’s a deeper problem here, and that lies in the nature of their religion and in the manner in which some of their co-religionists adhere to it. They cherry-pick Christianity’s metaphysics in a continual effort to rationalize anything and everything they want to do — no matter how rude, mean, or nasty it might be. That’s something that other, clearer-headed, Christians are going to have to fix. To date, they aren’t doing so … at least, I’ve never heard of any of them doing it. They just continue letting sanctimoniously-furious Christofascists be sanctimoniously-furious Christofascists. That doesn’t help anyone; in fact, the more reasonable Christians’ inaction is viewed as a kind of approval by the Christofascists … so they just keep on doing whatever they want to do, to whomever they want to do it, and they won’t change. Because — obviously! — no one is forcing them to change.
Note, these “jerks for Jesus” presume themselves to be able to dictate to other people how they should or shouldn’t live. But I’m not aware anyone gave them a vote on the matter. They may dislike gays, and want them to no longer be gay … but that doesn’t mean they have any power to force them not to be gay any more. So why do they assume they have this authority? I’d like to know who passed that law, and when.
Photo credit: Have a Gay Day timeline photo, via Facebook.
Tags: asshole for jesus
, assholes for jesus
, bridgewater NJ
, dayna morales
, gallop asian bistro
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