Archive for the “Christianity” Category

Christians and their religion

U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) speaking at the 2015 Reagan Dinner for the Dallas County Republican PartyThe number of sanctimonious Religious Rightists using disasters like hurricanes to promote their dour messages — and framing them as messages from the Almighty — continues to grow. The latest example isn’t exactly the sort of disaster theology I’ve often blogged about, but as the (UK) Independent explains, it’s very, very close to that (Archive.Is cached article):

A Republican congressman has suggested that flooding in certain areas – exacerbated by two massive storms that recently hit the US – is God telling homeowners to move.

“We have these repetitive loss properties,” Representative Jeb Hensarling said. “For example, we have one property outside of Baton Rouge [Louisiana] that has a modest home worth about $60,000 that’s flooded over 40 times. The taxpayers have paid almost half a million dollars for it.”

He added: “At some point, God is telling you to move.”

While Hensarling is from Texas, which was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, he represents its 5th district, which includes a snippet of Dallas and a chunk of the area to its east and southeast. I’m not sure it had many Harvey-related problems. So he’s spewing standard Right-wing “all-government-spending-is-horrific-and-can’t-be-tolerated” rhetoric. Later, though, Hensarling (through a spokesman) tried to swerve out from under the foolishness of what he’d said:

A spokesperson for the House Financial Services Committee, of which Mr Hensarling is a member, told The Independent that the Congressman was not talking about hurricane victims – although he mentioned victims of Texas floods several times.

“The interview was about the committee’s efforts to reform the National Flood Insurance Program,” spokesman Jeff Emerson said. “…He’s discussing the need to reform the NFIP. He was not discussing disaster assistance.”…

Mr Hensarling’s proposed solution is to privatise flood insurance markets, and even buy out homes in flood-prone areas. Offering federal flood insurance, he said, “is encouraging people to live in harm’s way.”

I’m not sure what God supposedly telling people not to live somewhere has to do with the NFIP … unless it’s a roundabout way of rationalizing terminating the program altogether. (Which I’m sure a lot of Rightists would just love to do.)

As for privatizing flood insurance, that’s already been tried — and it failed. Once upon a time, ordinary property insurance covered flooding. In the 50s and 60s, though, due to the high cost of claims, insurance companies carved it out, making it separate, and then were unable to charge premiums ample enough to reimburse policy owners for flooding events. They started exiting the business altogether. The federal government essentially nationalized flood insurance in 1968, as a consequence. Private-sector insurance is not — contrary to what Hensarling and his fellow Rightists would like — going to re-enter that business. No fucking way. They’ve been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, and went home. It’s just not going to happen. Ending the NFIP is not an option. Perhaps making it mandatory for more people than are currently required to have it (i.e. mortgage-holders in certain flood zones), is one solution. But ending it? No.

As for getting everyone currently in a flood zone to move, that makes no sense economically. Let’s say the government forbids people living in certain zones. Their current properties — which for many are the bulk of their assets — would instantly cease to have any value. They’d be forced to rent or buy elsewhere, in places which are flood-proof, whose rent or purchase values will naturally shoot up. What’s more, they’d lose their jobs, and businesses in those zones would also be forced to close. They’d be left with no resources to pay for relocation; homeowners would have to scramble for new jobs, and businesses would have to find markets in new places. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea, is a brazen, fucking moron.

Put as simply as possible: Hensarling is a religionist, idiotic douchebag who has no idea what he’s talking about.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: PMeldrum at World Politics forum on Delphi Forums.

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Blender Cycles - ArmageddonMost people my age recall televised tests of what used to be called the Emergency Broadcast System. We all heard, “If this had been an actual emergency, the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news, or instructions” more times than any of us wanted to. These days, this program is a little less intrusive, and is called the Emergency Alert System (the need for a name change isn’t quite clear, but hey, this is government in action). But those tests do still go out. Just this past Thursday, September 21, people in Orange county, CA got a test warning with an unusual twist. As the Orange County Register explains, they were warning about the Armageddon that had been predicted for today, Saturday, September 23 (Archive.Is cached article):

Some Orange County residents were stunned Thursday, Sept. 21, when television programming was suddenly interrupted for about a minute with an ominous message predicting the end of the world.

Stacy Laflamme of Lake Forest said she was watching the HGTV channel via Cox Communications about 11:05 a.m. when suddenly an emergency alert flashed across her screen followed by a voice.

“Realize this, extremely violent times will come,” a man’s voice boomed, according to a video of the alert.

This “warning” was about a “Biblical prophecy” I’ve already blogged about a few times, by a crank named David Meade, which definitely will not come true.OCR offers video of what they saw:

This was strange, but what might arguably be stranger, is the explanation that was offered for it (cached):

The end-of-the-world message heard on some Orange County channels during an Emergency Alert System test on Thursday was a technical glitch prompted by a local radio station, broadcasting officials said on Friday.

KWVE-FM, a Santa Ana station that broadcasts Christian programs, was conducting the test for the region that did not properly kick off – prompting a pastor’s comments meant only for that station to be heard over TV and probably radio channels in the county and beyond.

“During a regularly scheduled test of the Emergency Alert System for Orange County, KWVE-FM experienced an equipment failure that resulted in KWVE-FM not sending the end-of-message tones that would disconnect those media entities participating in the Emergency Alert System test,” a statement from the station says.

“When KWVE-FM resumed its regular programming, approximately 90 seconds of that audio was sent to the rest of the participants of the Emergency Alert System test.”

KWVE-FM has volunteered to be the primary Emergency Alert System station for the area since the inception of the alerts in 1996 and has never experienced a similar equipment failure, the statement says.

That this supposedly-prophetic warning would go out this way, is an awfully specific “failure.” I’m not sure I buy this explanation. It seems too convenient. Besides, the station itself never ought to have issued this apocalypse warning to its own listeners in the first place, let alone everyone in Orange county via the EAS — because it’s not going to come true. Period. End of discussion.

Photo credit: NGCHunter2, via Flickr.

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Vintage RCA International 7 Transistor Radio, Model AH-271-S, Holiday Series Radio, 2 Bands, Made In Japan / Joe Haput, via FlickrFormer judge Roy Moore, perhaps the best-known Christofascist in Alabama, is an agnostic blogger’s dream. The man literally cannot stop shooting his mouth off like the militant Christianist he is, and he repeatedly demonstrates everything that’s wrong with religionism — and by extension, religion. He’s running for US Senate, and in a primary runoff for the GOP nomination, which gives him every incentive to spew the most ridiculous Christofascist tripe imaginable. As the Friendly Atheist explains, during last night’s debate, he didn’t disappoint (Archive.Is cached article):

As a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Vietnam veteran, I want to work our military strong again. I want it freed from political correctness and social experimentation, like transistor troops in our bathrooms and inclusiveness.

Now, if anyone can explain to me what a “transistor troop” is, I’d love to know … because I haven’t the first fucking clue what that is. Best I can figure is, it’s a vaguely-sinister-sounding expression that Moore conjured up. As the Friendly Atheist put it, he tossed that in along with a reference to bathrooms (which the Religious Right has pitched fits over for more than a year) to create a little R.R. “word salad” that will appeal to Alabama’s Christianists (and there are many).

What makes Moore such a marvelous example of what’s wrong with religion, is that he upends the common trope of militant Christianists like him being merely “the lunatic fringe” and not representative of the wider Christian population. He’s a Decalogue champion who was removed from office as Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court back in 2003 after defying a federal court’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument (cached). Despite the shame of that, however, the good Christianist folk of Alabama re-elected him to that office in 2012 (cached). That he won a statewide race for an office he’d been thrown out of over his dour Christofascism nearly a decade earlier, tells me he absolutely is not just a “fringe” crank, and that his Christianism definitely is representative of — and approved by — the majority of Alabamans. It’s undeniable!

Of course, Moore proved too extreme a Christianist to stay in his new office (a second time) for long, and was suspended for yet more Jesus-inspired judicial misconduct, then formally resigned in order to run for Senate (cached). If the people of Alabama elect him to the US Senate — which appears very possible — they’ll have proven themselves dour Christofascists twice over. Which will mean it’ll be even harder for them to disown him than it already is.

Photo credit: Joe Haupt, via Flickr.

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The End is Not NearI’ve already blogged a couple of times about Christian crank David Meade, who claims a “Biblical prophecy” (bolstered by numerology, pseudoastronomy, solar eclipses, the Egyptian pyramids, Bible codes, and conspiratorialism) predicts “the End of the World” will start this coming Saturday, September 23, 2017. Initially these stories were found only in Rupert Murdoch’s outlets, but many others have picked up this story. Some relay it as breathlessly as Murdoch’s papers, channels, and sites, but others treat it more dismissively (recognizing it as the bullshit it is).

One outlet that dismisses it is Christianity Today, which protested this kind of crap (Archive.Is cached article):

Again, we must deal with fake news. I’ve written on this numerous times before here and here and, undoubtedly, this won’t be the last time.

In this case, it’s making Christians look silly.

Again.

But there it is on the front page of Fox News, “Christian doomsdayers claim world will end next week.”

It’s under the heading “Science.” When you click on it, the article headline proclaims, “Biblical prophecy claims the world will end on Sept. 23, Christian numerologists claim.”

Note, first of all, that CT‘s chief objection to this “Biblical prophecy” is not that it’s all bullshit, predicated on distortions and lies. Oh no. Their initial objection is “it’s making Christians look silly.” Well, duh. Of course it is! It’s making Christians look silly, because this sort of bullshit is entirely consistent with Christianity’s long history of trotting out “prophecies” which are dire scenarios of death and destruction. Arguably, Christianity itself was clearly inspired by 1st century CE apocalyptic Judaism … so the propounding of apocalyptic doom is entirely within its wheelhouse! If Christians don’t want to look silly, they need to alter their religion so it doesn’t lead to this kind of doomsaying, and they need to shut down — and shut up — anyone in their religion who does so.

Yeah I know, good luck with that. Clearly Christians have no desire to do this … hence, if those crankish doomsayers make them look bad, they have no one to blame but themselves for allowing those doomsayers to run amok for the last two millennia.

But on top of that “boo hoo hoo, this crank makes us look bad” whine, CT goes on to explain:

No, the world won’t end on September 23rd and, Fox News, believe it or not, there is no such thing as a ‘Christian numerologist.’

Note the claim at the end of this sentence: “There is no such thing as a ‘Christian numerologist.’” That, unfortunately for CT, is simply not true. There absolutely are “Christian numerologists” because numerology is embedded within the religion.

Consider the significance of certain numbers, in Christian scripture: The numbers 3, 7, and 12 (for example) figure in repeatedly. Adam and Eve had 3 sons, and so did Noah; Jesus was accompanied by 3 apostles in the Transfiguration; Peter denied him 3 times; Jesus was dead 3 days; the world was created in 7 days; the book of Revelation begins with 7 letters to 7 churches of Asia; later in it, there are 7 seals and 7 trumpets; Jacob/Israel had 12 sons who founded 12 tribes; Jesus had 12 apostles; 144,000 (or 12×12) “sons of Israel” appear in Revelation; and on and on it goes. Numbers clearly matter in the Bible. They have metaphorical and metaphysical meaning, on many levels. This inevitably leads to numerological analysis.

What’s more, there’s actually explicit numerology in scripture. Specifically, it’s found in Revelation:

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. (Revelation 13:18)

But some early manuscripts say “the number of the Beast” is 616, not 666 (fortunately, some modern Bible translations indicate this). This is hard to make sense of, if one assumes (as many Christians do) that Revelation’s Beast is some future person; but if one is looking for historical figures whom the author of Revelation knew about (it was probably composed in the 90s CE), there’s one obvious candidate that could explain this coincidence. That infamous person’s name, in Greek, when transliterated into Hebrew and rendered using Hebrew gematria, is 666, but his Latin name (also transliterated into Hebrew) becomes 616. That infamous person is none other than the Roman emperor Nero. Nero was said to have persecuted Christians (both Christian and non-Christian authors report it). He is also said to have martyred the apostle Peter. He was, to put it briefly, a common bogeyman among Christians (not wholly unreasonably, it seems). So it makes sense for him to have inspired the figure of “the Beast.”

At any rate, to say there’s no such thing as a Christian numerologist is to assert there was no special use of numbers within Christian tradition, and especially in the Bible — which on its face is foolish. All by itself, “the number of the Beast” is numerology. Period.

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'NASA warns disaster is near as Nibiru heads for Earth' / satire site News4KTLA, via SnopesI just blogged about Christian “prophet” David Meade, who claims “the End of the World” was predicted to happen — by the Bible, the Egyptian pyramids, and a wicked conspiracy, woven together with numerology and assorted screwy pseudoastronomical notions — just under a week from now (on September 23, 2017, to be exact).

Since posting that, I’ve seen stories trumpeting Meade’s asinine and laughable “discovery” that add an additional point to his insane scenario; namely, that he’s supposedly seen actual photos of this “Planet X” (aka Nibiru). The (UK) Sunday Express, for example, reports on this amazing claim (Archive.Is cached article):

Christian conspiracy theorist David Meade, who claims the alleged giant planet Nibiru – which is officially unknown to astronomical science – will pass the Earth causing a global apocalypse in October, says he has been shown secret footage which proves it exists.

Speaking on Late Night in the Midlands, a US conspiracy theory radio show, Mr Meade said: “The sightings are increasing in my opinion.”

He claimed he had spoken to a professor of astronomy in Paris based at a large observatory, who told him Nibiru was real.…

“I’ve seen it and he told me the name of the observatory he has seen it at, and he said he had a secret film of it, which he later sent me.

“He had taken it with his phone and it is an actual photo of the system, he got out of the observatory at a very high level, and he has shared it with me since.

“I have not shared it with the public, but I have seen it.”

He said a fellow conspiracy theorist had also shared a new snap with him.

Mr Meade added: “A colleague of mine recently sent me photo which makes it appear Planet X is currently right over the North Pole.

Meade’s breathless assertion is truly fucking hilarious, and fully in line with how conspiratorialists work. He assures us the photos are “real,” and we can be assured of that, because:

  1. He has seen them (although he won’t release them)
  2. They came from a real, working astronomer (whose name and credentials he won’t disclose)
  3. That astronomer works at a real, working observatory (whose name he likewise won’t disclose)
  4. The existence of these photos was backed up by another conspiratorialist (whom Meade won’t name)

All of this is a steaming load, heaved right out the back of the barn. I will say this outright: Meade is lying. He hasn’t seen the photos he said he saw, and they don’t exist. He made it all up in a desperate effort to bolster his fucking ridiculous scenario and sell more books before his “Biblical prophecy” proves false, this coming Saturday.

I’ll conclude this post by repeating what I’ve said for many years now: “Biblical prophecy” is bullshit. Fraudulent. Lies. All of it, all the time, everywhere, every time, without exception. There is, simply put, no such thing as a valid “Biblical prophecy.” It. Does. Not. Exist. Period.

Photo credit: Satire site News4KTLA, via Snopes.

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Sumerian seal / via Doug's DarkworldIf you pay any attention to Rupert Murdoch-owned media outlets, then by now you’ve come across a report or two about how the world is going to end this September 23. Perhaps the most alarming and expansive of those reports comes from the (UK) Sun, but similar stories are on most of Murdoch’s sites (Archive.Is cached article):

DOOMSDAY could be sooner than you think if you are to believe conspiracy theorists claiming a planet will collide with Earth on September 23, 2017.

Bible passages apparently supporting a centuries’ old prediction of the end of the world have intrigued many around the world – but what’s it all about?

A Christian numerologist claims a verse in the Bible proves that the world will end on September 23.

In Luke’s passage 21: 25 to 26, there is a quote which apparently matches the date of the Great American Solar Eclipse, when Hurricane Harvey hit and when Texas was flooded.

September 23 was pinpointed using codes from the Bible and also a “date marker” shown by the pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

This alarming report goes on … and on and on and on … from there. This is just idiotic, maddening bullshit.

Christian “prophet” David Meade’s scenario checks off all the requisite points of pseudoastronomy, pseuodohistory, and “End Times” caterwauling. It has Bible verses, Nibiru aka Planet X, numerology, solar eclipses, the Egyptian pyramids, and Bible codes, among many other features. It’s as though Meade used the shotgun approach, trying to weave every crackpot feature he could think of, into his “prophecy.”

But none of that matters, because as I said, it’s all bullshit. First, there is no Nibiru or Planet X. It was cooked up by the late crackpot pseudohistorian Zechariah Sitchin, of The Twelfth Planet fame. Sitchin’s scenario is a brazen lie.

Second, numerology is bullshit, plain and simple. There’s nothing behind it — period. Nor is there any veracity in any “Bible codes.”

Third, there’s nothing magical or supernatural about the Egyptian pyramids. And yes, in fact we do know how the pyramids were built … and humans did it, not gods or extraterrestrials. There’s also nothing magical or supernatural about eclipses. We know how they happen … and again, neither gods nor aliens have anything to do with them.

But lastly, what really makes this “Bible prophecy” bullshit, is that it’s “Bible prophecy”! As I covered in my static page on the subject, all Biblical prophecies are rotten, stinking lies. Every last one of them: All the time, every time, by definition and with no exceptions.

Sure, believers can produce all kinds of scriptural passages that they say predict the future. Most of these are interpretations, usually extracted via convoluted analysis, and employing lots of cherry-picking. The real problem with it all, as I explain, is that the Bible simply can’t be used this way. As it turns out, it contains at least one specific, explicit prediction of the future, which absolutely failed to come true, and is recorded in all three synoptic gospels (emphasis mine):

“Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mt 16:28)

And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” (Mk 9:1)

“But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:27)

Almost two millennia have passed since Jesus supposedly said that, and all those people to whom he said it have been dead almost as long; yet “the kingdom of God” has not come (“with power” or without). Jesus’ prediction literally cannot ever possibly come true.

If an explicit prediction — which doesn’t require any analysis or interpretation — has failed so obviously, then how can the rest of the Bible be viewed as a credible source of “prophecy”?It just doesn’t work. Period. End of discussion.

Note: This the first of two posts about this “prophecy.” The crank who cooked it up is still desperately trying to sell his book before it’s proven false by his “prophecy’s” impending failure. So if you want more laughs, read on!

Photo credit: Doug’s Darkworld.

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Vatican flag (8583012024)The Roman Catholic Church obviously has a major problem. It’s been decades in the making, and has been on the front burner of occidental society for going on 20 years now. But it doesn’t seem to go away … because Church personnel just won’t stop doing shit they know they’re not supposed to do.

The latest case doesn’t involve abuse of children by a priest … but it’s close. As the New York Times reports, the Vatican has recalled one of their diplomats from their Washington Embassy due to kiddie porn (Archive.Is cached article):

The Vatican has recalled a high-ranking priest working as a diplomat in the Holy See’s embassy in Washington after American authorities sought to strip his immunity and potentially charge him with possession of child pornography, the Vatican said Friday.

In a statement, the Vatican said that it had been notified by the State Department on Aug. 21 of “a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images” by a member of its diplomatic corps.

The Vatican said the priest would face an investigation and potential trial in Vatican City. But some critics saw in the Vatican’s move a reflexive step to protect its own by whisking a priest away from a justice system in a foreign land.

The statement did not identify the cleric, but Italian news media reports and an American official familiar with the investigation said it was Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, who was ordained in Milan in 1993 and entered the diplomatic corps in 2004. He has also worked as a diplomat in Hong Kong and as the Holy See’s liaison to Italy.

The article suggests this is standard practice for diplomats accused of crimes, but let’s be honest here: It fully coincides with the well-worn, and well-known, Church policy of vacuuming up clergy accused of wrongdoing and shuffling them off someplace else. The Times relates a story of another Vatican diplomat — an archbishop, Jozef Wesolowski, nuncio to the Dominican Republic — who was similarly brought back to Vatican City and was supposed to have been “tried” for his crimes, only to die (conveniently) before that trial. I expect something similar to happen in this case; it will languish in the bowels of the Vatican Curia long enough for the just-recalled diplomat to die or to become so old or infirm that he ends up never being tried. Guaranteed.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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