Archive for the “Metaphysics” Category

Aimless metaphysics of all sorts

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal waves with a Bible in his hand, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Baton Rouge, La. Gov. Jindal continued to court Christian conservatives for a possible presidential campaign with a headlining appearance at an all-day prayer rally hosted by the American Family Association. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman, via Washington Post)Louisiana’s Republican governor Bobby Jindal — a fierce Religious Rightist, if not an outright Christofascist — led a prayer revival yesterday at Louisiana State University. As the Washington Post explains, it’s a strong indication that he plans to run for president in 2016 (WebCite cached article):

Skipping an Iowa event that drew a number of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls in favor of a controversial Louisiana prayer rally, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) called for a national spiritual revival and urged event attendees to proselytize on behalf of their Christian beliefs.

Jindal had insisted the day-long evangelical event hosted by the American Family Association on the campus of Louisiana State University was a religious and not political gathering. And, indeed, his 15-minute long remarks to the group consisted entirely of a highly personal testimony about how he had come to his Catholic beliefs. Jindal was raised by Hindu parents but converted to Catholicism in high school.

But Jindal’s keynote address at the event came as he has been courting Christian conservatives in advance of a possible run for president, meeting with pastors in the early battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Former Texas governor Rick Perry hosted the same event, known as “The Response,” in 2011, just before announcing he was running for president.

The Bobster’s revival meeting didn’t go unnoticed by others, as the Post reports:

The event drew protests outside the basketball arena where several hundred were gathered because of accusations that the American Family Association promotes discrimination against gays and is hostile to non-Christians. Jindal briefly referred to the protests in his appearance, asking the rally’s attendees to pray for the demonstrators.

Ah. The old “I’ll pray for you” thing hurled at those who refuse to believe. I’m sure he knows this is an insulting tactic, even if it sounds all compassionate and shit. Well played, Bobby! Well played.

The Bobster even included a gratuitous little story which likely reflects how he intends to inject his fierce, dogmatic religionism into government:

Jindal recalled a girl in high school who said she wanted to grow up to be a Supreme Court justice, so she could “save innocent human lives” from abortion.

He put these words in the mouth of someone else, but this tale illustrates how he views participating in government. And that’s not to uphold the laws that are written, as they’re written, but instead to wrench and manipulate them to coincide with the Almighty’s dictates, whatever he thinks those are, and without regard for what those laws actually say.

Not that the Bobster really cares much, but here’s my response to his “response”:

Gov Jindal, if you think the country needs more God, then start with this one American: Track me down and make me turn to your God. I dare you. If it’s mandatory for all Americans to do so, then what reason would you have not to do it? Go ahead. I invite you to try your best — if you dare. Should you not do this, to me or to any other insolent non-believer, then I must presume that Americans turning to your deity can’t actually be as imperative as you said it is. That would demonstrate your cowardice, not to mention your hypocrisy — which, for supposedly-dutiful Catholics such as yourself, was explicitly forbidden to you by the founder of your own religion.

One last observation: The irony of a Roman Catholic leading a Protestant-style prayer revival — sponsored by a Protestant group — is especially precious. By leading an event of this kind, the Bobster openly admits he needs to curry the favor of devout Protestants, especially of the evangelical variety. But in the end, they’re his ecclesiastical enemies, not his friends. Just as America’s Catholic bishops have done, he’s forging what, ultimately, can only be called an unholy alliance. Should he get elected and start bending the country toward the Christocracy he wants, eventually he and his fellow Catholics will end up in evangelicals’ crosshairs. Many of them consider Jindal’s Church “the Whore of Babylon” mentioned in Revelation. A lot of those evangelicals would happily throw “Mary-worshipping papists” like Jindal into the flames of eternal perdition, if ever given the chance. Just saying.

Photo credit: AP Photo / Jonathan Bachman, via the Washington Post.

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Open BibleGiven what happened in Paris over the past week, it was inevitable, I suppose, that a bunch of angry Christofascists would respond with what amounts to an outcry of “More Jesus! More Bible! More Christianity!” Down in Mississippi, deep in the heart of the Bible Belt Bobble Bay-elt, the AP reports via ABC News, plans are afoot to make the Bible the “state book” (WebCite cached article):

Mississippi is the birthplace of William Faulkner, Richard Wright and recent U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey. However, some lawmakers say they want to look beyond the secular literary world and designate the Bible as the state book.

At least two bills are being filed during this state election year to make the holy book a state symbol.

One is from Republican Rep. Tracy Arnold of Booneville, who is the pastor of a nondenominational Christian church. The other is from Democratic Reps. Tom Miles of Forest and Michael Evans of Preston, who say they have promises of bipartisan support from more than 20 colleagues.

Their intentions, of course, are perfectly noble, and not an effort to proselytize; we know this because … well … they pinky-swear:

Miles told The Associated Press on Monday he’s not trying to force religion — or even reading — on anyone.

“The Bible provides a good role model on how to treat people,” Miles said. “They could read in there about love and compassion.”

Enough already. I have to call bullshit on this. Not that there’s no love or compassion in the Bible … there is, some anyway. A little. Here and there. The problem with the Bible is that it has a far larger amount of cruelty, hatred, and violence. Horrific, cosmic-scale, raging cataclysm-type shit. Let’s have a look at just a small sampling of it, shall we?

  • YHWH drowns every living thing on the planet (Gen 6-7), sparing only 2 of each animal and 8 human beings. All because of “the wickedness of man” (Gen 6:5) … which the reader is led to believe must have been pretty horrific, but since the nature of that “wickedness” is never mentioned, we have no way actually to know what it was. Such is YHWH’s “love,” I guess.
  • YHWH later magically slew Er the son of Judah for (again!) unstated “evil”, then magically slew his brother Onan because “he wasted his seed on the ground” (Gen 38:7-10). Yeah, that’s “compassion” all right. Oh yeah.
  • YHWH also staged one of the worst atrocities since the Great Flood when he afflicted Egypt with a series of devastating plagues, slaughtered all the first-born in the land, and then wiped out one of the largest armies in the ancient world (Gen 3-14). Yup, that’s “love.” No doubt.
  • YHWH then tells the Hebrews to conquer Canaan — as an expression of his love for the Canaanites, I suppose. In the process he orders not just one (Ex 17:8-18:16) but two (1 Sam 15:1-9) genocides of the Amalekites. Definite “compassion” there, no?

OK, enough of this. I can’t take it any more. This is as far as I could get in relating stories of Biblical “love” and “compassion” without vomiting. Note, I left out of the above list the manner in which Sodom and Gomorrah were “loved” (Gen 19:1-29), not to mention Lot’s wife. Someone will, I’m sure, inform me that I left out “context;” for instance, Sodom & Gomorrah deserved to be wiped off the face of the earth and reduced to an ashen ruin because its citizens were “inhospitable,” and that the Amalekites were slaughtered to the last infant because they’d insolently fended off the Hebrew migration into their land. Sorry, but those defenses just don’t stack up to the sheer amount of violence perpetrated; if “inhospitability” were enough to raze cities in fiery holocausts, there would be none left anywhere, and a nation defending its territory is generally not considered a crime worthy of a genocide. And don’t even get me started on why Lot’s wife needed to be changed into a pillar of salt — because that whole thing is just ridiculous bullshit, period. So pardon me if I don’t buy the whole “context” protest. I’m nowhere near stupid enough to fall for any of that.

The only reason representatives Arnold, Miles, and Evans could plausibly say the Bible teaches only “love” and “compassion” is if they never actually read the thing. Which, of course, is probably the case, since as I explained long ago, nearly all Christians have never actually read it and haven’t a fucking clue what it truly says.

Needless to say, getting up in front of a legislature … and a state … to pronounce the Bible the “state book” could be construed as public piety, which is something Jesus clearly, specifically, and unambiguously forbid his followers ever to do. Not that these people are aware of that — even if that injunction is contained within the pages of the very Bible they want their state to venerate (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18)!

Photo credit: Ryk Neethling, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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The folks at Charlie Hebdo … at least, those who remain after last week’s inexcusable Islamofascist massacre … aren’t caving in. No, their next issue’s cover will also feature a drawing of the prophet Muhammad. Multiple outlets report it will be as follows:'Tou est pardonné' - 'Je suis Charlie' / Charlie Hebdo cover for 2015/01/14, via Talking Points MemoAs an aside on this matter, allow me to throw out a few items for your consideration:

This wouldn’t be the disaster it was, without some sanctimoniously-angry Christofascist using it to promote his fierce, dour religionism. Enter, therefore, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, as Right Wing Watch reports with video (cached):

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer speculated that the attack by radical Muslim terrorists on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed twelve people may have been God’s retribution for the magazine’s blasphemy.

Given that the magazine, in addition to mocking Islam and Muhammad, also had a long record of running satirical articles and cartoons about Christianity and Jesus, Fischer raised the possibility that this attack was punishment for the magazine’s repeated violation of the commandment that “you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”

It also wouldn’t be a Muslim-perpetrated atrocity without people jumping up to say Islam doesn’t support what the killers did. Take, for example, this apologia for Islam in Slate (cached):

In an op-ed in USA Today on Thursday, Choudary seemed to try to justify the attacks. “[T]he potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” Choudary said. “The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State,” he continued.

Choudary, radical extremists, and anti-Islam polemicists alike often resort to quoting scripture out of context, or taking advantage of transliteration, as a way to distort the messages of Islam. Sharia law varies upon interpretations of scripture—and like any religion, some interpretations are more radical than others.

While extremist governments like Iran and Saudi Arabia use the death penalty as a punishment for blasphemy, its justification isn’t found in Islam. The word “blasphemy” isn’t even mentioned in the Quran, or the stories of Mohammed and his companions that make up the hadiths, which form the basis for Islamic tradition. Prominent Islamic scholars like Pakistan’s Javed Ahmad Ghamidi have repeatedly said that “blasphemy laws have no justification in Islam.” Neither does the horrible attack that took place on Wednesday.

That piece was a response to this hateful diatribe by someone who is — get this! — a Muslim cleric and therefore a credentialed spokesman for that religion (cached):

Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, “Whoever insults a Prophet kill him.”…

So why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk?

It is time that the sanctity of a Prophet revered by up to one-quarter of the world’s population was protected.

So pardon me — cynical, hateful, godless agnostic heathen that I am — for not being clear on whether or not Islam actually forbids blasphemy or “insults” of the Prophet. I guess the world’s Muslims are going to have to duke it out over that. Unfortunately, they may not leave the rest of us around to find out which side won the argument.

Lastly, I took the liberty of compiling a GIF animation of many different Muhammad cartoons to which Muslims have taken offense at one time or another. Have a blast, you little fucking crybabies:Animated GIF containing numerous Muhammad cartoons, collected from around the Internet. Original cartoons all copyrighted by their original artists and publishers.If anyone feels the need to be angry over these cartoons, go right ahead! Indulge your childish sanctimonious impulses, if it makes you feel better to do so. Far be it from me to get in the way of your pathological need to always be outraged in defense of your religion or your Prophet.

Photo credit: Middle, Talking Points Memo; bottom, PsiCop-generated GIF of pics collected around the Internet.

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Cover of Charlie Hebdo, newspaper in France. Speech bubble reads Once again, the world has been treated to a stellar example of “the religion of peace” showing its true colors. Overnight (by my clock here in the ‘States) terrorists stormed the Paris offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, as the BBC and many other outlets around the world are reporting, and killed a dozen people (WebCite cached article):

Gunmen have attacked the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring seven, French officials say.

At least two masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car.

President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack “of exceptional barbarity”.

A major police operation is under way in the Paris area to catch the killers.

We don’t Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoon, via Assyrian International News Agencyyet know the terrorists’ identities or affiliations, but it’s safe to say they are, very likely, of the Islamist variety. Although Charlie Hebdo has lampooned many religions with its cartoons, it’s only Islamists who’ve previously objected enough to get violent about them, as they did back in 2011 (cached). Someone, please tell me again how Islam is “the religion of peace”? ‘Cause this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen just isn’t seeing it.

I wonder Jyllands-Posten Mohammad Cartoon / 'Stop, stop, we ran out of virgins!' / via AINAwhat Islamism’s defenders (e.g. Ben Affleck) will make of this? He’d probably just mumble something like the terrorists not being “real Muslims” or something … as though that sort of defense isn’t the fallacy it actually is.

As I always do when Islamists rage and fume over their religion being “dissed,” sometimes violently, I decorated this blog post with cartoons that are sure to offend them even more. Go ahead, little crybabies. Rage, bluster, and fume away!

Photo credits: Top, Wikimedia Commons; both in body, from Jyllands-Posten via Assyrian International News Agency.

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Angel-FacepalmI’m tagging this post “you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,” because … well … you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me! It’s rare to see people do something so insanely stupid, publicly, and then proceed to double down on it, refusing to acknowledge an error which is absurdly blatant and for which there can be no rational excuse.

This December 15, not too far from me in Springfield, MA, the city held a menorah lighting in its famous Court Square. That city’s Republican newspaper reports on the raging idiocy one of the city’s councilors spewed (WebCite cached article):

Jaws dropped in Springfield’s Court Square Tuesday afternoon when Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams offered his take on the annual city menorah lighting ceremony.

“Jesus is the reason for the season,” Williams said during remarks at the ceremony that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

Following short speeches by Congressman Richard Neal of Springfield and Mayor Domenic Sarno, who both touched on the history of religion in Springfield, Williams was handed the microphone and uttered the line that had people talking long after the ceremony ended.

What Williams apparently was unaware of, is that Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday and that Jews don’t worship Jesus. The article gives a brief sketch of what Hannukah is about, and links to Chabad.org’s FAQ page on the holiday. I suggest checking it out.

If you do, you will discover that Jesus had nothing to do with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (except, perhaps, assuming he lived, as a Jew himself, he may have celebrated it). It’s a Jewish holiday, as should be obvious, and Jews don’t revere or worship Jesus.

A lot of folks who said something this stupid would accept correction and apologize. But not Mr Williams. He was having none of it, and is not backing down as the Republican reported just a little later (cached):

[City Councilor Bud] Williams, a Baptist, made the remark during a Court Square event attended by Mayor Domenic Sarno, Congressman Richard Neal, city dignitaries, and leaders of the greater Springfield Jewish community, all of whom gathered at the downtown park to mark the Dec. 16 start of the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights.

“I thought it added something to the service, it didn’t take away,” Williams said Tuesday night.

The city councilor said he referenced Jesus Christ, whose birth is celebrated every Dec. 25 by Christians worldwide but not by Jews, after participants in the ceremony mentioned “the bright light” of 2,000 years ago — an allusion to Christ, according to Williams.

“They said it,” Williams said.

The councilor said his remark wasn’t meant as an expression of religious superiority or “dominance,” but rather as a simple reminder about the “reason for the season.”

Did you catch that? Williams blamed his stupidity on the rabbis, throwing them under the bus, as it were. “They said it,” he insists … ridiculously! In his mind, the rabbis’ mention of “‘the bright light’ of 2,000 years ago” could only have been Jesus, and cannot possibly have been a reference to the “miracle of lights” which the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah commemorates. Williams further engaged in his own variation of the “some of my best friends are Jewish” defense:

Williams said some people thanked him for his remarks. “A couple of the rabbis walked up to me and said, ‘Great comments, Mr. Williams.'”

The Republican notes, however, that they couldn’t verify this:

Rabbi Noach Kosofsky, who attended the ceremony, was asked Tuesday night for his reaction to Williams’ statement. “I’ll get back to you,” he said.

It’s safe to say that either these rabbis never said any such thing to Williams, or they did, but were just being nice to an assholish, mindless buffoon who clearly had no idea what he was talking about. In any event, Williams plainly hasn’t the slightest clue he said something he shouldn’t have said; thus, he isn’t about to apologize for it. Because, after all — as all the “war on Christmas” proponents have been railing for the past several years — Jesus “is the reason for the season” and anyone who says otherwise is trying to destroy Christianity and kill Christians. Or something like that.

Isn’t it time for Christians to just fucking grow the hell up already and get over themselves? Is it really necessary for them to presume everyone else on the planet sees everything the same way they do … even when they belong to non-Christian religions? Yes, references to “light” can mean Jesus … but they can also refer to other things within other religions, too.

Photo credit: shane_d_k, via Flickr.

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Christmas-Tree-Wallpaper-christmas-8142630-1024-768I’ve blogged many times about the paranoid delusion Christians have cooked up, which is known as the “war on Christmas.” Supposedly, wicked secularists have decided to outlaw Christmas or something. It hasn’t happened, but they’ve convinced themselves it has … so they keep repeating it, hoping somehow that it will magically manifest if they say it often enough (even though it doesn’t work that way).

Well, despite the fact that Religious Rightists have never been able to show such an effort exists, the Washington Times has decided it’s uncovered evidence of it, and they’ve blown the lid off secularists’ infernal conspiracy (WebCite cached article):

Conservatives have been mocked for insisting there’s an ongoing war on Christmas, but now it looks like they may have simply been ahead of their time.

American Atheists unveiled Wednesday the “War on Christmas” line-up on its television channel, AtheistTV, featuring “original programs proclaiming the truth about Christmas on December 24 and December 25, featuring scholars and celebrities from the atheist community.”…

Conservatives like Fox News talk-show hosts Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly have long warned of a “War on Christmas,” citing moves by retailers, public schools and local governments to remove references to Christmas from displays and celebrations.

The network’s annual coverage of anti-Christmas happenings has drawn taunts from “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, such as last year’s “War on Christmas: S***’s Getting Weird Edition,” while the liberal online magazine Salon weighed in with a sarcastic article titled, “9 reasons Fox News thinks there’s a war on Christmas.”

All I can say is … Wow! “AtheistTV“? How dare those vile, insolent atheist types establish their own television network and actually air their own TV shows!

Oh, wait. Let’s have ourselves a closer look at what AtheistTV is:

The AtheistTV channel was launched worldwide on July 29 and can be accessed via Roku set-top boxes or as a free online stream at www.atheists.tv, the release said.

Aha. So this isn’t a broadcast network. Nor is it a cable-television channel. Nor is it even a single television station! It’s not any of that! It is, instead, a Web site and a Roku channel.

That’s right, folks. A Roku channel. If you’ve never heard of Roku, that can be forgiven, I suppose; it’s an Internet-connected video-streaming device (similar to an Apple TV or Chromecast) with its own proprietary collection of channels that Roku owners can subscribe to and watch.

Lest one thinks the Roku company is run by a bunch of hateful atheist reprobates forcing their secularism on subscribers, one may be interested to know that Roku has religious channels. A lot of them. Hundreds, in fact! They’ve got Christian channels of many sorts (Catholic, Protestant, evangelical) including some focused solely on particular topics (e.g. prophecy, Bible texts); they’ve got Jewish channels, Buddhist channels, “New Age” channels, Muslim channels, and lots more. Only a couple of the hundreds in that category are atheist or secular.

If anyone thinks a single Web site with some videos on it, and a single Roku channel, could possibly represent a viable weapon that atheists can use to carry out their putative “war on Christmas,” well … that’s so fucking laughable, it hardly merits any more comment than to laugh hilariously at the childish idiocy of it!

What’s more, I’d like to point out that Christians have their own video channels. Not just on Roku, nor just Web sites, but Christian television networksbroadcast and on cableby the dozen. Not to mention hundreds of Christian television and radio stations around the country. They have channels, and channels, and more channels, all their own! If one Roku channel and one Web site constitute a “war on Christmas,” what does all of that Christian programming by so many Christian outlets constitute? A “war on non-belief”?

It’s amazing the depths of hypocrisy Christians are willing to stoop to, in the name of their Jesus, when they feel they should … even though he explicitly and unambiguously forbid them ever to be hypocritical, about anything, and at any time. Give me a fucking break already!

Photo credit: travis, via Flickr.

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Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sept. 11, 2013. Photo by Paul Haring/Catholic News Service / via Religion News ServiceIt seems the Pope is definitely marking out his own territory, even at the risk of confronting the bureaucracy of his own Church. Earlier today, the Religion News Service reports, he used his traditional Christmas address to the Curia’s functionaries to ream them all new ones (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis launched a blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy on Monday (Dec. 22), outlining a “catalog of illnesses” that plague the church’s central administration, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and gossipy cliques.

The pope’s traditional Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was more “Bah! Humbug!” than holiday cheer as he ticked off a laundry list of “ailments of the Curia” that he wants to cure.

In a critique that left many of the assembled clerics clearly uncomfortable, the 15 ailments in Francis’ “catalog of illnesses” reflected the take-no-prisoners approach he promised when he was elected nearly two years ago as an outsider with little direct experience in Rome.

“The Curia is called upon to improve itself, always improve itself and grow in communion, holiness and knowledge to fully realize its mission,” the pope said.

Among the “illnesses” the Pope diagnosed within his Curia, were: lust for power, hypocrisy, gossiping, and something he called “existential schizophrenia.” The RNS article also explains different ways, over the last year and a half, in which he’s expressed his plans to reform the Vatican’s vast machinery and then began following through on them, including demanding the resignation of Germany’s “bling bishop” and also removing a super-ultra-conservative-fierce-hardline American Cardinal from one of his offices (cached). He’s drifted afield from typical Church positions in the past … to the point where the Vatican’s machinery felt the need to insist the Pope never said something he very likely did say (that, or something close to it), and he married a number of couples whom prior Popes would never have dared even speak to.

Photo credit: Paul Haring/Catholic News Service, via Religion News Service.

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