Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Heaven's Contractor

A thought from vacation. One of the key tools that Christians, Muslims and their ilk use to sell their religion is heaven. But here's the thing. The same guy who created earth created Heaven. Why would we presume that Heaven was built any better than earth? The same contractor did both jobs -- wherefore, then, the presumption that things will be better in Heaven? Why would we consider, for a moment, that the guy who put the tree in the garden, and then blamed not only the original transgressors but all of humanity, and then invented this convoluted way to gain "redemption" for sins we didn't even commit, will have Heaven be without all sorts of equally bizarre caveats and pitfalls? We know - we know - from the Bible that either the Christian god either changes his mind or doesn't let us know all the facts. Even assuming that he's telling the whole truth now, how can this guy be trusted to deliver in Heaven? Why would anyone feel this character is really trustworthy? Or, again, that Heaven isn't too terribly different in design philosophy than the earth?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tagged by a Meme!

My first blog meme tagging! Yay! It's a little late, and my blog will be a little slow, because I'm on vacation right now -- were I a better blogger, I'd've told folks that BEFORE the vacation, hehe, but better late than never, right?

Anyway, vjack at Atheist Revolution has tagged me with a meme! As I said, it is my first, and I am excited. This is how it works:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

My 8 random facts/habits:

1. I am a terrible geek for role-playing games. It's my oldest hobby and I still do it very regularly.
2. I suffer from seasonal affective disorder. When I was in Maine, I'd get very depressed for weeks at a time. In California I am much, much better.
3. When I was a wee little lad, I wanted to be a monk. Specifically, a devil's advocate. Satan's lawyer. Can it get cooler than that?
4. I haven't seen anyone in my family going on ten years. No one at all. I haven't see anyone on my father's side of the family for going on twenty-five years.
5. The first story I ever wrote I wrote when I was ten years old. It was about a giant bio-technology robot invading Australia.
6. I stopped writing from around ages 11 to 14 because my mother read one of my stories without my permission and then told me that it was "too vulgar". It was a crude attempt to write political horror, with a Nixon-esque protagonist. I'd just learned that Nixon swore like a sailor on his White House tapes so I was trying to buff up the realism by including natural language in my stories. Certainly if a President could swear, so could I, at least in stories. I was too young to effectively communicate this to my mom, and was so horrified that the first thing of mine she didn't like because I'd tried to be "experimental" that I was scared, literally scared, to write for several years afterwards.
7. Today, my writing is a veritable non-stop stream of vulgarity, so obviously it didn't really stick too well.
8. I detest almost all holidays, especially Christmas. I feel that holidays are intimidation to be happy and cheerful, no matter what you might or might not be feeling, and I think that's a form of psychological cruelty for society to dictate a season of happiness that a person might not feel. I hate Christmas in particular due to it's unusually intrusive nature. I tell people not to get me gifts, but every year at least ONE PERSON will feel obligated to ignore my clearly stated desire and give me something. I have to struggle not to tell them to fuck off and listen to me when I fucking say something! Let it be known, again, I hate Christmas. I hate the forced jovality of it, the compulsion to be happy, and the yearly ritual arrogance of people who can't seem to let me alone.

And then I have to tag eight people! Why eight? It's a rule. They are:

1. Biblioblography
2. Beep! Beep! It's Me!
3. A Night on the Tiles
4. A Whore in the Temple of Reason
5. Seeking a Little Truth
6. Parenthetical Remarks
7. The Honest Doubter
8. Sabotabby

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hayes Code, Women in Movies

This post was inspired by this Krystalline Apostate post that mentions the the Hayes Code. There's something of a hidden story there that I feel the urge to talk about, so I shall!

What was happening in cinema during the early years was that a lot of the income was being derived from white, middle-class women who stayed at home. Well, since it doesn't actually take eight hours to keep the house clean and cook dinner for the "man of the house", after they got the kids off to school they often had several hours in the middle of the day with, functionally, nothing to do. And this was before not only the proliferation of TV but also radio. But every neighborhood had a cinema. So a large number of movies were being produced directed at the housewife audience with the values, scripts and stars that would appeal to that audience.

The sort of movie I'm talking about was The Sheik by George Melford starring Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres. It's the story of an English noblewoman who doesn't want to get married because she's fearful of losing her independence (played by Ayres), but on a trip to the Algerian desert she's kidnapped by a sheik (played by Valentino). During the course of the movie, the woman falls in love with the sheik, who learns to treat her as an equal. The movie is orientalist crap, and in our day and age the very idea of a backwoods Muslim warlord treating a woman with respect and dignity is absurd, but women loved it. That housewife matinee movie crowd saw it as many times as fourteen year old boys would see the first Star Wars movie.

The male establishment . . . did not like it. It was about a woman who saw marriage as a burden, who eventually falls in love with a sand nigger. The very orientalism I detest they feared -- the notion that "out there" were men willing to treat women as equals. And not just The Sheik, either. These movies were filled with independent women taking lovers, and dismissing them, being in charge of their sexual destiny, rejecting the traditional roles that society was forcing on them. Obviously, this had to be put to a stop, which is what ultimately lead to the creation of the Hayes Code.

The Hayes Code did everything in it's power to destroy the movie culture in America. Initially, it was simply ignored. But the big distributors got together and eventually demanded certification as a precondition of distribution. And then there was a whole generation of movie makers and audiences that simply refuses to submit to the code peacefully and pushed, pushed, pushed against it -- so you have all these movies that still had powerful female leads (and actresses) such as Bette Davis. By the fifties and sixties, however, there was almost no movie being made where women were allowed to have powerful roles. Women, as important characters in movies, had been almost eliminated. Entertainment Tonight's list of the 100 greatest movies is illustrative in this regard. The top ten movies are The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Chinatown, Raging Bull, La Dolce Vita, The Godfather Part 2, Gone with the Wind, Some Like It Hot, and Singing in the Rain. The ones with female roles that aren't merely love interests are Casablanca (where the female lead is a Resistance fighter) and Gone With the Wind (Scarlett O'Hara, duh). The Godfather movies, Citizen Kane and Raging Bull functionally lack a female presence at all, in Chinatown the women are dilettantes and victims. In La Dolce Vita, Some Like It Hot and Singing in the Rain they're merely the love interests of the male characters. Most of the top one hundred movies follow this pattern, and it is noteworthy that the movies that do include women as something other than love interests are almost all from the fifties and earlier. Like I said, by the sixties, women as serious people had been virtually removed from cinema.

As a writer, I think this is a shameful episode in American literary and cinematic history. It deeply offends me that the forced removal of powerful women from cinema is virtually unnoticed by . . . virtually anyone at all, not to mention the deep damage this has done to American cinema as the rules of the Hayes Code functionally forced women into passive roles.

Friday, June 22, 2007


What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

I have been rated!

CIA Admits Secrets? I Do Not Hold My Breath

The CIA is going to reveal years of misdeeds from the time period from the 50s to the 70s. The article specifically talks about assassination plots, domestic spying and wiretapping, kidnapping and human experiments. Most watchers of the CIA, even such dilettantes as myself, have known about many of them. If it's honest, the accounts will be grim. CIA chief Michael Hayden said that the time period was "unflattering".

Here's the gig, though. This is pure public relations. By revealing what happened no later than the 70s, they're shifting blame for historic CIA misdeeds to people who are either dead or secure in their retirements, and will indict no living Presidents. While I do await the release with some interest, what I'm even more interested in is extraordinary rendition. The treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are still deeply unresolved issues concerning Iran-Contra scandal or the CIA's role in the murderous wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. The difference between these misdeeds and the ones from the 70s backwards is, well, chief amongst them is that the people who perpetrated them are still alive and could be held accountable, and many of them are in positions of power and influence. That other stuff? The main players are safely dead. The other main difference between older CIA misdeeds and newer ones is that some of the newer ones are still ongoing, of course, such as the case of extraordinary rendition, which is the policy of kidnapping people and sending them to be tortured in other countries, or the open question of how many illegal prisons has the CIA run, who was there, and what happened in these prisons.

To my eyes, the main purpose behind this CIA admission of historical guilts is to say that today we have a kinder, gentler CIA. A CIA that admits it's mistakes, see, they're admitting their shameful misdeeds -- but they're not like that anymore. In the words of the great Chuck D, don't believe the hype. This is a snow job. While I am interested in the historic crimes of the organization, I think it's even more important to keep in mind that these sorts of crimes aren't in the past. The CIA is has a continuity of abuse of power. These things are not in the past. Torture, illegal human experimentation, assassination, human trafficking -- this is not the CIA's past, it is very much it's present as can be seen, obviously seen, from its secret prisons, extraordinary renditions, and the numerous torture scandals of the past couple of years.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Aliens and Weak-Minded Fools

More mail! In my blog, my readers know, I focus on religions and, particularly, Christianity. It isn't that I think that Christianity is particularly bad as religions go. Put in cultural context, I feel it's better than Islam and Hinduism, really. I know that it's because of cultural context -- that when Christians could get away with the shit Muslims and Hindus get away with they certainly did. I know that Christianity was stopped from all the murderous excesses that one sees in other religions. Christians wiped out a third of Germany and people said that maybe religious power and religious choice shouldn't be quite so important and worked to rein in the power of religion, over Christian protestations.

But, that said, there are other weird things going on in the world and because of my blog and YouTube, I occasionally get to contact them. Like . . . Truthism. Alas, it doesn't appear to have any relationship whatsoever to truthiness. And the author of the site assures the reader again and again that the site is "real" and not a hoax or humor.

And then it gets into the meat with this little snatch of quotable material:

Truthism 101: Matrix Basics

For those of you who have been asleep your
entire lives, here are some basic things about
reality that you just might want to catch up on

We snap straight into it! You've been asleep your whole life and there are basic things you need to catch up on. Slacker! If you were as smart at the guy you wouldn't be caught with your pants down!

From there, there is an amusing section with these headers: "How Human Beings Deny the Truth", "What the Truth is Not", "The Great Contradictions of You So-called Rationalists", "Officialdom", "Your Ego" and "Morality". The author says some things that are utterly true. It is true that humans often do deny the truth for a variety of reasons and they sometimes do blow off the truth as being funny, hilarious, entertaining, or call people who force uncomfortable truths as mad, illogical and self-absorbed. It is true, too, that the truth is not always popular, easy to swallow or socially acceptable. Without doubt it is true that the winners write the history books and they do so with an eye to promoting their own actions and culture as superior. Likewise, no historian I know doubts that a person's ego can sometimes make it impossible to see a truth that goes against their most inherently held beliefs. And, I think it is obvious that those in power do, in fact, often possess an extremely stunted moral sense.

However, that doesn't mean that any idea that is funny is therefore true. It doesn't mean a crazy, illogical, self-absorbed person is therefore right. Just because something is unpopular doesn't make it so.

But this part is so dear, I'll quote it:

You do not have access to Top Secret government information or to Top Secret government facilities. Nor are you a member of any of Earth's secret societies. In addition, you were not born 5,000 years ago; you were born only within the last 100 years, so you were not able to see history unfold with your own eyes.

Yet, despite all of these undeniable facts, you claim that you already know what the truth is. That is, just like how you know for a fact that 1+1=2, you also claim that you know for a fact what the truth is. So, um, how the hell is that possible???

But the author does have access to Top Secret government information and facilities? He's a member of earth's secret societies? He's five thousand years old and has watched history unfold before his eyes? Somehow, I doubt it. But he goes on to claim that we're all just brainwashed by authority figures and dupes of the global conspiracies that run the world.

Yes, he's a conspiracy theorist. The earth is ruled by the governing elite that constructed the Pyramids in Egypt. They got this knowledge from the Anunnaki, or reptilian aliens who genetically modified humans thousands of years ago to serve as their slaves. The "Reptilians" have indoctrinated us so completely that we are too "weak-minded" to fathom that they exist. Fortunately, we don't have to! We have to do that for us!

Still, there are some gems:

Strangely enough, though, here on Earth, the concept of an imaginary god is perfectly acceptable, and is by no means considered to be the "ultimate crazy fantasy." Yet, the concept of aliens is taboo, and is ultra-ridiculed by society in a freakish "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil"-type fashion.

This is, I think, true. Of course, on my blog, the concept of an imaginary god isn't terribly acceptable. I'm an atheist. It is the ultimate crazy fantasy, even crazier, really, than this stuff because it has been accepted by billions for thousands of years, and has shaped our society in innumerable ways. Still, I think that the idea that humans were genetically adapted by aliens to be almost equally fraudulent. Where's the proof? So far, has given absolutely no logical or physical evidence for the existence of DNA uplifting space aliens.

I actually find it easy to believe there are other intelligent life in the universe. Heck, I'm willing to believe that intelligent life out there in the universe would consider us to be woefully stupid and backwards (just like I suspect that in a thousand years we'll look back and say how woefully stupid and backwards we were). I accept that possibility, that the universe is big and it seems increasingly likely that the conditions for earth-style life are pretty common. Amino acids and terrestrial planets seem to litter the galaxy. But from that vague belief that aliens might exist, and there is no compelling reason at least some of them wouldn't be more technologically sophisticated than we are and might have come to this planet in times past for a variety of purposes.

However, even if they did come to earth for our resources -- which is unlikely, by the way except for our biological resources -- they would have come here with the full technological weight of an advanced space faring civilization. It is impossible, of course, to imagine what their technology would look like . . . except it would have to be far superior to our own requiring them to be able to build generation ships, or accelerate to a very high fraction of light speed (well over 99%), or to travel faster than light speed (my money is on the middle one -- generation ships would be too subjectively slow to make broad exploration of the galaxy possible and the is, I would think, be too energy costly for general use . . . tho' I could be wrong). Whatever the option, their technology would make ours look primitive in comparison. And it would probably be pretty . . . weird. We're getting there, ourselves. What will, in the fullness of time, be done with biotechnology, cybernetics and nanotechnology? All good questions. But it's likely to be weird and in ways that fundamentally change the definition of humanity. While it is not possible to know what alien technology would look like, if they're to the point where they're exploring the universe they're past the point where they'd have to answer these sorts of questions. However, it would be highly unlikely that aliens, on arriving on earth, would spend too much time making apes to do their work. Far more likely that they'd bring their robot legions with them to do it.

Moreover, alien intervention on that scale would leave traces behind, and more than just human life. We can see this from our own colonization efforts. When a technologically superior people invade or colonize a place, they bring with their their tools and techniques. So, when the Spaniards invaded Mexico they swiftly built things in the Spanish style. When Americans during WWII landed on Polynesian islands to build air bases, they left behind asphalt runways and concrete bunkers. While they might build with local materials, they do so in a technologically sophisticated style and leave behind durable examples of their presence.

So, where are the 5000 year old steel-reinforced concrete bunkers, or refined aluminum or titanium-steel beams? No. What we have are pyramids. Despite the fact that a pyramid is, at the end of the day, just a mound of stones we're expected to believe that this is the paragon of alien engineering on earth. It's childish to say that obvious neolithic construction techniques were inspired by aliens, especially when no durable proof of alien existence has been found.

My favorite "proof" is the neolithic carvings and drawings, like this one:

Aliens arrived in ships that looked like . . . Buck Rogers spaceships? The "proof" is also in the form of jewelry and the like from Pre-Columbian America that looks vaguely like delta winged jet fighters. This is not proof, of course, of aliens -- any more than modern sci-fi art of space ships is proof of alien space ships. It's fascinating how they'll take a little bit of data and stretch and twist it to fit their preconceived notions. It reminds me of . . . religious people!

Really, it seems to me that in the end that the alien/conspiracy people are driven by many of the same impulses as religious people -- they just have made a slightly more plausible sounding argument insofar that it doesn't require any supernatural agency. But when you ask for proof, they do pretty much the precise same thing that theists do and take little dots of data and stretch them to encompass their entire bizarre theory while completely ignoring or ridiculing those that point out that 1. their theory is bizarre and 2. there is no real proof for it. Like with religion, they'll misinterpret or give specious interpretations of limited data while using arguments identical to the god of the gaps reasoning saying that the real evidence is out there but that we're unable to see it due to our weak-mindedness because of alien indoctrination. Which seems the same to me as saying that I'd see god, too, if not for my sin-induced weakness and the indoctrination of Satan.

Still, I do get some interesting emails, these days!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Bigger Dose of Prophesy

I ended up in the prophesy room today, after all. It was a combination of creepy and boring. So, in most of the ways that count, it was just like reading the Bible . . . which far worse spelling and grammar. I copied down three of the very underwhelming "prophesies". Before the first prophesy, there was literally around forty minutes of people praising Jesus. It was very tedious. It went something like this:

[19:34] we worship you Lord
[19:34] YOU ALONE
[19:34] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> lord god almighty
[19:34] it is all about YOU
[19:34] U r soooooooo worthy
[19:34] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> heaven and earth
[19:34] of our praises
[19:34] Jesus

Imagine that for forty minutes, now. My guess is that they were trying to whip themselves up into enough of a frenzy not to feel stupid with their prophesies. I'm going to give you the ones I got. I'm not going to alter them at all. I decided that the disjointed nature, with the interruptions of various praises, is an integral part of the prophesy. After the prophesy, I'm going to make a few comments and then move on.

[19:36] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> Tiffany go please
[19:36] thankyou...
[19:36] as I was seeking the Lord just now I saw a vision...
[19:37] * Gayle ( has joined #prophetic-school
[19:37] and in the vision I saw a green field...
[19:37] with many hills...
[19:37] * HeavenlyTreasure ( has joined #prophetic-school
[19:37] and spread throughout this field...
[19:37] I saw crosses laying everywhere....
[19:37] looked as though they had been abandoned...
[19:37] and I saw a company of eagles flying overhead...
[19:37] observing the situation...
[19:37] calling out...
[19:37] and seeking out...
[19:37] * erica ( Quit ( QUIT: User exited )
[19:37] those who would come and carry those crosses
[19:38] and as the cries were heard loud and strong...
[19:38] I saw people....
[19:38] numerous people...
[19:38] as far as the eye could see...
[19:38] coming out from under rocks...
[19:38] out from hiding...
[19:38] they come out from the valleys...
[19:38] came from the mountains...
[19:38] some looked weary...
[19:38] some looked beaten...
[19:38] and some were obviously in the midst of the battle...
[19:39] ??
[19:39] and each one had slowly walked up to a cross...
[19:39] through it on their shoulders...
[19:39] and began walking....
[19:39] for this night declares the Lord...
[19:39] even this very night...
[19:39] My call is going out...
[19:39] My call is being heard.....
[19:39] calling out to all who has an ear to hear....
[19:39] come out from among them
[19:39] \o/
[19:39] and be ye separate....
[19:39] Thank u Jesus /PTL \o/
[19:40] take up your crosses....
[19:40] take up your crosses...
[19:40] and resume your positions....
[19:40] the time is now....
[19:40] the past is over....
[19:40] do not look behind...
[19:40] look only ahead...
[19:40] and as you step up to your posts...
[19:40] step up to your positions....
[19:40] the past will soon
[19:40] become a distant memory...
[19:40] * michael_calif1 ( has joined #prophetic-school
[19:40] \o/
[19:40] for where there was mourning...
[19:40] I am giving joy....
[19:41] where there was sorrow....
[19:41] rejoicing....
[19:41] weeping... laughter....
[19:41] Thank u Jesus
[19:41] for I am restoring you
[19:41] I am rebuilding you
[19:41] \o/
[19:41] I am rebirthing within you
[19:37] calling out...
[19:37] and seeking out...
[19:41] that ministry that I placed within you
[19:41] years ago....
[19:41] come up higher my dear children
[19:41] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> yes lord
[19:41] my servants, and my warriors....
[19:41] and as you do.....
[19:41] you shall see the salvation of the Lord!
[19:41] done
[19:41] \o/
[19:42] \o/\o/\o/
[19:42] thank you Jesus
[19:42] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> Amen!!! Thank you, Tiffany God bless you
[19:42] hallelujah
[19:42] hallelujah
[19:42] Amen, Praise the LORD
[19:42] Praise His Name
[19:42] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> anymore words 4 the room?
[19:42] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> o/tag
[19:42] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> for i ur god

As "prophesies" go, this one feels pretty contrived, without the least little bit of evocative imagery. I mean, really! Crosses scattered around and people go up to them pointing to ministry? What I do think is interesting is the persecution complex that seems built into religion. I think I just realized that a persecution complex is built into Christianity. What distinguishes Jesus is precisely his persecution. So here you've got these reasonably well-off (well-off enough to have computers and Internet connections, which most of the world simply can't afford) and their minds are filled with this apocalyptic imagery with themselves as the suffers in a hostile world . . . when they're amongst the most privileged group of people who have ever lived.

Unfortunately, it isn't close to being prophesy, even if it was a vision. Which I doubt it was, more like a prose poem. But, onwards!

[19:48] I saw the Lord placing in the hands of many of you hear tonight....
[19:48] a jewel.....
[19:48] and others a coal....
[19:48] for there are those of you who are called to carry his treasure as a jewel.....
[19:49] and from you will flow secret treasures.....
[19:49] healing....
[19:49] comfort.....
[19:49] edification.....
[19:49] encouragement.....
[19:49] the My people.....
[19:49] you shall take this jewel
[19:49] into a lost and dying world...
[19:49] and bring hope to the hopeless
[19:49] rest to the weary
[19:50] and for those who received the coals....
[19:50] behold you are my prophets...
[19:50] * cityofgold ( has joined #prophetic-school
[19:50] you are called to speak forth My word....
[19:50] and carry My word as a sword...
[19:50] for as you open your mouths to speak
[19:50] My word will flow forth as a mighty sword....
[19:50] and you shall teach others to use their sword.....
[19:50] * preciouspearl (JavaUser@dialup- net) has joined #prophetic-school
[19:50] you shall instruct, direct, and correct....
[19:50] for a fire shall fill you
[19:51] and spread to all those around you...
[19:51] a flaming sword shall you possess....
[19:51] You shall speak my word with clarity....
[19:51] You shall speak my word with sharpness...
[19:51] and you shall set the captives free!
[19:51] each of you are called....
[19:51] \o/
[19:51] every one of you are called....
[19:51] listen not to the lies of man
[19:52] or the lies of the enemy
[19:52] AMen
[19:52] o/ testimony that sort of goes along with the words
[19:52] who would try to stop My servants
[19:52] from speaking forth my Word....
[19:52] and I saw to you this night
[19:52] even declare
[19:52] that you are MY servants
[19:52] called by My name....
[19:52] who is man to stand in the way
[19:52] * Guest35202 is now known as ConsidertheLily
[19:52] who is man to contradict what I have spoken over your lives....
[19:52] you can't figure it out...
[19:52] you will not understand the call
[19:53] or the responsibility I have placed within you
[19:53] but as you rise up and walk in that which I have called you to walk....
[19:53] your understanding will be made clear
[19:53] step by step
[19:53] line upon line
[19:53] precept upon precept....
[19:53] do not hesitate
[19:53] once I have spoken....
[19:53] you know My voice...
[19:53] \o/
[19:53] hearken this day
[19:53] \o/
[19:53] to the voice of the Lord
[19:53] done
[19:53] o/heavenlytreasure
[19:53] * Guest56420 ( has left #prophetic-school
[19:53] Jesus, Jesus, glorryyyy
[19:54] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> Amen!!! Thank you, Tiffany God bless you
[19:54] Thank u Jesus
[19:54] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> wonderful jesus
[19:54] yessss

Again, this isn't prophesy, really. It's not predicting or foretelling anything. But what struck me, here, is the symbols used. First, the symbols of wealth, pearls and jewels. We'll see them again, too. It is interesting for as poor a person as Jesus seemed to be, and that he was quite critical of material wealth, one of the most common Christians symbols are those of riches. Second, the symbol of the sword. After all that Christianity is supposed to be a religion of poverty and peace, there's a lot of talk about swords!

But, again, I find myself filled with disappointment. The imagery and message are tedious. I mean, the deep wisdom of this prophesy is that some people are called to do good deeds in the name of the Christian god? Not precisely a thrilling new message, there.

[19:54] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> shepherd go please
[19:54] I had this remarkable 3+ hour vision this evening. I only came out of it about 20 minutes ago. The glory is still partly on me.
[19:54] One of the things that happened in the vision was that I got to meet Moses and I asked him how he was able to trust God in all those situations
[19:55] he said he would show me
[19:55] then he took me by the hand and brought me to the tabrinacle
[19:55] and he told me that the glory of the Lord would meet us there.
[19:55] At first I was very mindful of Moses--he is one of my heros ofthe faith and someone I really relate to and look up to
[19:55] but when God showed up...
[19:56] well, I got so lost in God's goodness that I totally forgot about Moses
[19:56] and the glory of the Lord saturated me
[19:56] and it ws amazing
[19:56] He spoke to me about a lot of things, but the gist of the coversation is that He is actually much easier to please than we tend to think He is
[19:57] all we have to do is come before HIm with pure hearts, hungry for Him
[19:57] we don't have to be perfected yet, just yeilded and willing to cooperate with HIm
[19:57] amen
[19:57] * warriorintheSpirit ( has joined #prophetic-school
[19:57] * Kathe is now known as Kathe_afk
[19:57] God's glory saturated me
[19:57] yes, amen
[19:57] and it was ovewhelmeing beyond words
[19:57] \o/
[19:57] At one point He showed me this pearl
[19:57] \o/
[19:57] it gistened and glimmered and radiated His glory
[19:58] and I knew it was the pearl of great price
[19:58] and God asked me if I would like to have it
[19:58] of course, I said yes
[19:58] Instead of handing it to me, he began to place it on my forehead.
[19:58] I was surprised, because I expected Him to put it in my hand
[19:58] I did not say a word--but I did not have to because God hears our thoughts
[19:59] so He asked me, WOuld you like to hold it?
[19:59] I said yes
[19:59] and He told me to put out my hand and he placed in it my hand
[19:59] and I could feel energy radiating out of the pearl and it seemed to be vibrating
[19:59] the best I can describe it was that it was alive with God's presence and radiated His glory
[19:59] and I stood here holding it and looking at it
[20:00] then God asked me, "Teresa, how will you be able to carry this without loosing it for the rest of your life?"
[20:00] I realized that he meant I might drop it or put it down
[20:00] that it was a wonderful treasure, but there was no way I could go about holding it
[20:00] * warriorintheSpirit ( Quit ( Connection reset by peer )
[20:00] and still living my life
[20:01] then He asked me if I would like Him to take care of it--to attach it to me so I never lost it
[20:01] I said yes.
[20:01] He asked me to hand the pearl back to Him and I did
[20:01] and then He took it and placed it on my forehead
[20:01] and he pushed gently and it went inside of Me
[20:01] \o/
[20:02] and He said that now I would never loose it because He put it where it belonged
[20:02] and the application that God is showing me is that a times we try to hold on to the things of the kingdom that we value
[20:02] --- ministries, relationships, possessions, anointings, etc
[20:02] but we are not capable of carrying them
[20:03] we are not capable of being in charge of them
[20:03] * Davidicdancer ( has joined #prophetic-school
[20:03] the only way to keep them is to put them back in God's hands and let Him
[20:03] be in charge of them
[20:03] The vision went on
[20:03] I won't bore you with all the details
[20:03] but near the end of the vision I was aware of Moses watched me with pleased interest
[20:04] and I felt bad that I'd ignored him to pay attention to God
[20:04] and Moses told me that was the way it was supposed to be
[20:04] o/ tag
[20:04] and then he asked me if I undestood his answer to my question
[20:04] * derek ( has joined #prophetic-school
[20:04] I had to think back and concentrate to figure out what the origial question had been
[20:05] It had been how to trust God in ministry when so many things go wrong as you lead
[20:05] and then he better explained the answer
[20:05] the key to trusting God is being in His presence and being staturated by im
[20:05] Him
[20:05] It is getting to know HIm so well that it is no longer a "mental" thing to trust God but an experiencial one
[20:06] when you expereince God's faithfulness enough times, it becomes engrained in you that He is faithful
[20:06] amen
[20:06] and then it is easy to trust Him
[20:06] yes
[20:06] <@hugsfromtheMASTER> \o/
[20:06] yes
[20:06] \o/

This one is my favorite. What makes it my favorite? Allow me to summarize. This woman is next to Jehovah and she's hungry for him, to be saturated by him, and Jehovah, well, he has this throbbing pearl of power, and the woman really wants it, so Jehovah sticks it in her and she's filled with glory even twenty minutes after it was over. I see!

But, again, the actual message is . . . I mean, the message is that the Christian god doesn't care if you're not perfect, you've just got to accept Jesus, and then everything will be fine. The fairly intense sexual innuendo aside, the message is cut straight from the Bible and traditional Christian wisdom.

Indeed, all the messages were very normal, very traditional things that Christians say to each other. Biblical prophets, on the other hand, often are disbelieved and suffer because of their prophesy, because what they're saying are highly controversial things. This is quite the opposite of controversial. It's the lowest common denominator. What Christian is going to say that Jesus doesn't call people to ministry or that the Christian god is willing to forgive people who go to him?

I can also fairly confidentially call the guy who sent it to me full of shit, now, too. This is his miracle? I would say it's just a tawdry trick, but there isn't even a trick to it. It's just people writing Christian platitudes, and writing them poorly, at that. This is not a miracle. I could easily produce one of these prophesies -- and, indeed, produce a far superior one. I think I shall:

I was standing at the foot of a path that lead up a great hill, and I felt the presence of the Lord behind me. I was with my brother, but I knew that he wanted to do me some wrong. Lightning struck a tree atop the hill, and a ball of flame descended upon me, but a sheet of rain fell and the fire went around me and I was not touched, for I did not fear because the Lord was with me. My brother was consumed by the flames, because he had not trusted in the Lord, and the Lord was not with him. And the Lord lead me up the hill, and on the other side was paradise. Those who trust in the Lord will be saved, those who are not will surely be cast into flames.

I think I'm ready for the big time!

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Touch of Prophesy

So, I went briefly into the prophesy IRC room that I was told about for a few minutes. Then I realized that to stay there would absorb me with a while, so I got out because I have other things to do. Yet, I have a brief update!

So, for a while there was nothing but the sort of idle chatter a person could see in any chat room. Then this little exchange:

[17:23] where were you born?
[17:23] just curious
[17:23] orignally Oregon
[17:23] oh ok
[17:23] born and raised there?
[17:23] where are u now nancy??
[17:23] for about 6mo
[17:23] now I wasnt raised there.. just born
[17:24] I was sent to CA to Los Angeles City of Hope Hospital to see if they could save me
[17:24] they couldnt
[17:24] so Jesus did
[17:24] amen Nancy
[17:25] was very sick as a newborn.. pnuemia, partially collasped lung and my heart was attacked
[17:25] PTL Nancy
[17:25] but Jesus saved me anyways
[17:25] well he must have a purpose for you

So, here we have some of the arrogance of Christians jumping straight to the forefront. As an infant, apparently, Nancy was sickly and didn't die. Does she attribute this to City of Hope? No. But Jesus. OK, then, what Chuckles the Clown says is even more interesting, to me. That because Nancy was "saved" by Jesus -- an assertion for which proof is neither offered nor required -- Jesus must have a purpose for Mary. God himself is validating Mary's existence!

It goes on:

[17:25] you a miracle huh Nancy
[17:25] :)
[17:25] amen I do I really really do.. with all my heart!
[17:25] Passing Storm.. yes one of them documented ones
[17:26] although I still struggles with weakness's
[17:26] the Lord anoints me for the plans and purposes and the missions He sends me on
[17:26] to do in His Name
[17:26] the only thing is I dont much like when that anointing lifts
[17:27] it takes me days sometimes a week or more to get some strength in my being
[17:27] or until the Lord sends me again
[17:27] wow what a testiomony Nancy
[17:27] pretty much, He's my breath.. for real.. He's my heart beat.. for reals
[17:27] He's my strength.. definately for reals
[17:27] keeps me close to Him

Again, all of this is offered up with neither proof nor even the need of proof. The credulity is staggering. No one seemed the slightest bit concerned that this story might be untrue, it was just assumed that the person was speaking the truth and something that is probably entirely mundane is proof of supernatural agency acting in the world . . . and that what is probably mundane is a special purpose that the person serves to their god. I am wondering, as I write this, if I could make all sorts of outrageous claims and be believed. I suspect so.

Religious Intimidation - Playground Prayer Circles

In my previous post, in the comments, a Christian (who did not identify his or her denomination, but I suspect it was of a reasonably fundamentalist sect) and I started talking about religious intimidation. The Christians, as they almost inevitably do, justified the whole bit about hellfire and damnation as being sufficiently important that the intimidation is justified. I pointed out that, outside of religion, no one thinks that way -- it's wrong, for instance, to threaten a person with torture and death to make them lose weight, even tho' losing that weight might well save their life. Other Christians I've talked to about the subject say, essentially, that Christianity doesn't engage in systematic intimidation, even though I find it quite easy to find examples of people who are pretty messed up because of religious intimidation, fear of hellfire, apocalyptic nightmares, the whole nine yards.

Well, here's a post from Atheist Revolution about prayer circles on playgrounds. This never happened to me but I think it's an interesting example of systematized religious intimidation and a fairly clear case of what I mean by when I say that doing this sort of thing to children constitutes child abuse.

What is a prayer circle? Let's go to Atheist Revolution's post!

Imagine yourself back in the third grade. It is recess, and you are with your classmates on the playground. There is a teacher in the vicinity, but the supervision is fairly minimal. Suddenly, a group of 6 or more children approach you and say something along the lines of, "Have you been saved?" You are not sure what to make of the question, so other questions about your religious beliefs and experiences follow. Without understanding the consequences, you tell them that you and your family are atheists, Jews, Catholics, Buddhists, non-fundamentalist Protestants, etc.

The children start calling you names and hurling insults at you. If you happen to be Jewish, you will hear things that would make neo-Nazi's proud. You are a sinner. You are going to burn in a lake of fire. You will rot in hell. They form a circle around you, holding hands to make sure you can't easily escape. They tell you that the only way you can save yourself is to accept Jee-zuhs. They begin praying around you loudly to "save your soul."

AR goes on to say:

[P]rayer circles are such a common occurrence on Mississippi playgrounds that nearly everyone I know with children who isn't a fundamentalist Christian has had it happen to their children. In some cases, especially if the family is not Christian at all, it happens many times throughout elementary school.

And when the parents complain?

These parents typically meet with the school officials to express their concern, push for increased supervision, etc. But time and time again, they run into the same wall. The fundamentalists are the overwhelming majority, teachers can't be everywhere, we can't control what other children say, this is part of the culture here in the South, etc.

It's actually hard to find specific mention of this happening. I, fairly obviously, believe AR's story. And a person can find tantalizing clues to it in searches -- it even has a name, prayer bullying. And in this article there's this little nugget, "Last October, in a suit involving an assistance principal with a school-age son, DeMent found illegal and bullying religious activities throughout the school district." There was a link, but it was broken. Still, what is there is pretty interesting:

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit on behalf of a family in Troy, a small town in the southeastern corner of Alabama. It charges that schools in Pike County are essentially abusing and persecuting four Jewish children who are refusing to pray and write essays and other school assignments which have a religious content.

Searching a bit more, I found some information on Judge DeMent. He's apparently the go-to guy in that area if you want someone to move against religions violating the barrier between church and state.

So, he stopped people in public schools in DeKalb, Alabama. This was in the late 90s that this was happening. He also had to stop school prayer there, too. Examples include:

Thursday's order issued by DeMent said that county schools have ignored previous rulings concerning prayer, and continue to allow praying over school public address systems at football games, distribution of Christian Bibles during official class time, and teacher-organized devotional session during the school period. He specifically expressed opposition to what is taking place in the Fyffe School, where officials are permitting up to 200 students to stand each day and pray when the son of Michael Chandler, who initiated the lawsuit, enters the cafeteria.

The last, with Michael Chandler, is precisely the sort of school prayer circle bullying Atheist Revolution was talking about, of course.

Which is interesting to me on a different level, too. Not just that there is enough widespread school prayer bullying that it gets to be a federal case, but the virtual news blackout on the subject! Apparently, the state of Alabama is in a long feud -- going on a decade -- with a federal judge who is trying to stop numerous violations of church-state separation, including prayer bullying, but also the distribution of Bibles in schools, assigning religious papers in class even to non-Christians, prayers on the PA system, things of that nature. The silence about this is pretty stunning, particularly given the fact a federal judge has been involved for a decade.

However, the notion that religious people aren't intimidating others, systematically and abusively, is simply not true.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Creation Museum Ahoy!

It is to my abiding horror that the United States is hosting ignorance on the scale of a Creation Museum that tries to pass off young earth creationism as a science worthy of having a museum dedicated to it. It horrifies me that this is one of those "only in America" things, where pitiful creationists can raise enough cash (upwards of $27 million) to build this travesty to reason.

However, as humor and horror go hand in hand, and a hat tip to Deep Thoughts, I present Behold the Creation Museum. It's a picture gallery devoted to the museum. Revealing the horror and humor of what lay within!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Practicing Prophesy

So, uh, I just got the weirdest email. I do a fair bit of video commentary on YouTube. It only takes a few minutes to do and, as my offline friends will certainly attest, I like the sound of my own voice. So, I commented on something and this fella and I were going back and forth about god and free will, pretty boilerplate stuff, when the guy said that he believed in god because of the miracles he'd seen. He specifically said he's seen someone's legs healed instantly (which is very close to healing an amputee) and he had personally spoken to god. Well, I got out of the discussion because it's one of those things that put me in the position of either saying, "Dood, you're a complete fucking liar fruitcake or insane" or shutting up, so I shut up.

Well, I just got an email from this person. He has invited me into an IRC room where they practice prophesy. Where they practice prophesy!

I just wish I'd gotten this before I started to write Simon Peter! Curse this bad timing! Still, I'm absolutely fascinated at the idea of this IRC channel of prophesy. Utterly fascinated. So, hey, y'all will get to see me post on it ere long.

All Religion is Politics

I think that the distinction between politics and religion is false. Those of us in democratic republics in the modern mold generally feel that it is possible to have this distinction between church and state. We go on all the time about it, at least here in America. But it occurred to me some time ago that this distinction is false. All religion is politics.

Religions are organizations that give orders to their congregations. They tell their congregations what to do, how to do it, they give orders on who to fuck, how to do it, with whom it is acceptable to fuck. Or marry. They dictate to their congregations how to behave in social situations. They give orders, often, on what is acceptable to eat, or wear. They enforce obedience to their orders through the most brutal of threats -- eternal torture or being born as a worm or what have you for most of them -- and often by ostracizing people who are sufficiently disobedient from their community (such in the case of a conservative Christian who refuses to "give up" homosexuality, or the formality of excommunication).

Think about all of that for a second. Religions exercise way more authority, or attempt to do so, than any modern democratic republic. If the government tried to order a person that they couldn't marry someone of the "wrong religion" they'd be accused (appropriately!) of tyranny. If the government tried to regulate a person's speech the way religions do, they'd be accused of tyranny. But religions routinely do these things. They routinely order these things.

And they do their dead level best to compel obedience. In modern democracies, they are wisely kept from physically enforcing their laws, but they would if they could, and they definitely do all they can to compel obedience. They invent the most cruel tortures for non-believers or heretics they can and threaten their congregations (and, indeed, the whole world) -- and for believers it is vital to keep in mind that these threats are real. They believe in the hells invented for non-believers and heretics. The threat, in the mind of the believer, is very real, as real as if I were to threaten you with pulling out your teeth with pliers. Worse. Eventually you'd run out of teeth, whereas religious threatens torment without end. If I was to physically threaten someone with torture, I'd be a criminal. Religions threaten their congregations with far worse threats but we sort of shrug and let them. We let them do this to children, to people who are literally mentally ill, we let them do these things! If I was raising a child and consistently threatening the child with, say, skinning the child alive and boiling the child in oil to compel obedience I'd be correctly accused of child abuse. Religions? Nope. It's okay for them to threaten people, to threaten them in ways that they accept as real, to compel obedience.

The government isn't allowed to do that! In modern democracies, cruel and unusual punishment is unacceptable, but religions aren't held to that standard.

What I'm saying here is that religions are political. They create laws, they enforce them, they collect taxes. They do everything that governments do. While they can't do some of the things that governments do, they also do things that governments can't.

The only defense of this is that it's voluntary. But is it? I don't think so. Religions threaten people who try to leave the church with eternal damnation. Because the religious people believe these threats, it is no different than me threatening someone with violence to remain in a relationship. It's no different than if I was to tell my wife I'd cut her arms and legs off if she dared to leave me -- it is duress. So even the voluntary argument doesn't really hold up to those who believe. To leave a religion is to be, in their own minds, condemned to a fate worse than death.

As such, I think that something should be done about this. No joke. I think that the same standards we apply to other groups need to be applied to religions. I think they should be forbidden to threaten people, just like any other organization in a modern democracy! Additionally, I think that people need to be aware that all religious activity is political with leaders, laws, taxes and enforcement, and that religions challenge the sovereignty of the government . . . and they should be treated appropriately, and forbidden to have the character of a government in the lives of the people of that religion (though, admittedly, stopping religions from threatening their congregations might be sufficient to do that -- without duress, people would be free to leave religions).

But those are my thoughts for today. That religions should be held to the same standards as every other organization and be absolutely forbidden from using tactics and fear and intimidation on people.

PS: I was thinking about what this means for my interaction with religion. What is it that really bothers me about religion. Sure, I think that people who believe in spirits and gods are wrong. But I generally don't have that much of a problem with people being merely wrong about something.

What bothers me about religion is their actions. And the more I think about it the more I'm seeing one of the key things that bothers me about religion is the overt intimidation involved in religion. So I went to see how common threats are in the big world religions. I consulted the power of Google and found some information about religions.

Here are the top 22 religions, by numbers of adherents:

# Christianity: 2.1 billion
# Islam: 1.3 billion
# Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
# Hinduism: 900 million
# Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
# Buddhism: 376 million
# primal-indigenous: 300 million
# African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
# Sikhism: 23 million
# Juche: 19 million
# Spiritism: 15 million
# Judaism: 14 million
# Baha'i: 7 million
# Jainism: 4.2 million
# Shinto: 4 million
# Cao Dai: 4 million
# Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
# Tenrikyo: 2 million
# Neo-Paganism: 1 million
# Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
# Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
# Scientology: 500 thousand

Christianity, Islam, Chinese traditional religions, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism all have at least one hell. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Cao Dai and Tenrikyo have beliefs where people who violate their religion are punished through being born again into a worst state. So, most religions and all the biggest ones include intimidation as a part of normal doctrine.

Juche, the state cult of North Korea, does not have a hell or offers punishment to anyone who "strays". However, it is part and parcel with Kimiljungism which is creepy in it's own right.

African traditional and diaspora religions . . . well, there are a whole bunch of them. I know that many of them have various concepts of "hell", but it might be a mixed bag considering how many religions they actually are. The same is true of "primal-indigenous" and, er, Judaism -- there is no unified view of a Jewish afterlife.

The religions that have no system of intimidation built into them are Baha'i, Shinto (tho' it is deeply entwined with Japanese Buddhism), Rastafarianism, neo-paganism and Unitarian Universalism -- with some African traditional and diaspora religions, some Jews and some primal indigenous religions. I feel that these, then, are the outside limits of the religions I would be willing to deal with. They're the religions that systematically make it policy not to intimidate people with threats of eternal punishment for non-belief or disobedience. I know that there are sects of the other religions that also do not coerce people, and I'd be willing to deal with them, as well. I think that lack of intimidation and coercion might be my standard for dealing with a given religion, politically or socially. Because without the threat behind it, religion is just a choice.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

More Makin' Fun of Genesis!

Because I know y'all can't get enough of me in video format, here is me makin' some more fun of Genesis. This talks all about the sex!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Post-colonialism and Post-theism

(Hat tip to Atheist Hussy for grooving me onto the interview with Christopher Hitchens.) just did an interview with Christopher Hitchens concerning his new book God is Not Great. It is the latest in a series of best-sellers whose success motivates me to write Simon Peter faster so I can point to all the recent books directed at atheists that have sold a million copies. Beyond that, and the proximate reason for this post, is that Hitchens said something clever:

Wiener: The final killer argument of your critics is that Hitler and Stalin were not religious. The worst crimes of the 20th century did not have a religious basis. They came from political ideology.

Hitchens: That’s easy. Hitler never abandoned Christianity and recommends Catholicism quite highly in “Mein Kampf.” Fascism, as distinct from National Socialism, was in effect a Catholic movement.

Wiener: What about Stalin? He wasn’t religious.

Hitchens: Stalin—easier still. For hundreds of years, millions of Russians had been told the head of state should be a man close to God, the czar, who was head of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as absolute despot. If you’re Stalin, you shouldn’t be in the dictatorship business if you can’t exploit the pool of servility and docility that’s ready-made for you. The task of atheists is to raise people above that level of servility and credulity. No society has gone the way of gulags or concentration camps by following the path of Spinoza and Einstein and Jefferson and Thomas Paine.

This put me in mind of post-colonialism. For those not in the know, post-colonialism grapples with the legacy of colonial rule. Stuff like why is that Haiti is the amongst poorest nations on earth despite being one of the first modern democracies and despite having a massively profitable export product? Post-colonialism argues that it is the legacy of dependence created by the colonial system that keeps places like Haiti poor - that even after Haiti was technically independent of France's rule, most of the property in Haiti was still owned by people who had deep ties to France and who served the interests, largely, of France. Not to mention the brutality of slavery, the trained obedience to white prestige and privilege, things of that nature. The same is true in most former colonies. This ongoing legacy needs to be dealt with before a country can come into it's own. Haiti, having been particularly brutally colonized, is having a particularly hard time coming out of it's post-colonial period. Whereas China, which was far less colonized than Haiti, for less time, and with a far more robust culture than Haiti, has almost entirely put its post-colonial legacy behind it. And it is then unsurprising that the first Asian nation to come into it's own on the world stage was Japan - a country that had never suffered colonization by European powers.

So, when Hitchens said Stalin was able to take advantage of centuries of servility and docility that had been hammered into the Russian people by the Russian Orthodox Church, my mind made the connection between the legacy of religion and post-colonialism. It made me think that we're living in a post-theist society. God is dead, but as Nietzsche noted the shadow of god will continue to trouble our days for centuries to come. So, while Stalin was certainly an atheist, and a madman, the groundwork for his atrocities were laid by brutal theism of the Russian Orthodox Church in the same way that the brutality of Papa Doc Duvalier were laid by the colonial horrors of the French. The brutality of Stalin was not contextless. It was able to happen for a reason and part of that reason certainly was the habits indoctrinated into them by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Czar.

Some other examples of post-theism might be found in, say, Great Britain where the Church of England still has seats in the House of Lords. Despite the overwhelming majority of the British being a-religious, British laws are still in part shaped by the Church of England. It's absurd, but it's true. And in the United States, it is de rigeur for virtually all political candidates to publicly repeat ad nauseum their "born again" status - even though, on paper, the US is one of the least religious countries in the world. We don't have an official religion. We never have had an official religion. But so powerful is the lingering influence of theism that candidates must nevertheless acknowledge some silly born again state in order to get elected into office. A third example might be found in the Vatican City. Why on earth is a couple of blocks in Rome a separate nation? It's preposterous, but there it is, not to mention the absurd level of influence this decadent and dying religion continues to have on the modern Italian state.

Most of the world is in a post-theist phase - there is no enforcement of a state cult in most countries and religious leaders have little formal authority in most places. Yet, I think that it is important to realize that just because a society might not be religious doesn't mean the effects of religion mystically vanish from that society. After literally centuries of basing one's laws and culture off of various religious authorities these cultural habits remain ingrained into our society and person even if we have rejected the religion. Much of who we are, culturally, socially, is so deeply entwined with religion it will be a very long time before we're free of the malady of religion. Religion is a fever that has broken, but we are still a long way of having our full strength.

But we will. Skepticism is the fastest growing belief about religion in the world today. I don't figure this will change.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Twisty Faster's I Blame the Patriarchy

Twisty Faster's I Blame the Patriarchy has annoyed me for a while now, and I've kept it on my RSS aggregator largely because she has some nice pictures of bugs, and who doesn't like bugs? It will be going off my RSS aggregator and the reasons why are sufficiently interesting that I think they deserve a post.

The final straw was this article. It's a picture of something she ate at some restaurant, seared foie gras. And in that moment it struck me with brilliant clarity that Twisty Faster is part of what she despises. She is the patriarchy. And not part of the patriarchy in the sense that all of us are, to some extent, caught up in it because of various social reasons. She's at the apex of patriarchy. She's the sort of person who eats seared foie gras, which to the barley pop crowd tastes like filth.

Or, perhaps more accurately, she's the sort of person who can go out to the sort of restaurant that serves a dish like seared foie gras. If you read her journal, she records many of these culinary experiences. She also talks about how she's living in one house on her property while building another, on her property. She leaves, routinely, to go on week long vacations to visit relatives or whatever.

Allow me to translate, then: she's rich. She's a white, well-off woman.

One of the things that has always angered me about revolution is that that virtually no revolutionary leader actually objects to the system. What they do is object to their place in the system. So, Twisty Faster goes on at great length about the problems of patriarchy. As long-time readers of my journal undoubtedly know, I loathe the patriarchy, myself, as I loathe all systems of oppression (religion, capitalism, you name it, if it oppresses, I hate it's guts). Her problems end at sexist oppression. Or, to say it a different way, she is only interested in the form of oppression that can oppress a rich white woman in Texas.

Where she reveals herself as part of the patriarchy herself is how she handles people who want to fuck differently than she does.

She is superficially critical of the patriarchy's handling of sex. And with good reason! But the key tactic that the patriarchy uses to control women's sexuality is shame. A woman who is sexual in the wrong way is shamed. Even in the industrialized world, a sexually active woman has to live with labels like whore and slut and a greatly increased chance of being attacked or killed. But the key element of control is shame. Women should be ashamed of their lust.

Twisty is all about this. Where it is most common is when BDSM gets brought up. Twisty is against BDSM because it's somehow anti-feminist, as it is mock displays of domination which are rooted in the patriarchy. She deploys against them the worst language in her vocabulary: they are part of the patriarchy. Translation: when it comes to sex she doesn't like, she shames those who do it. She does everything in her power to make women who like BDSM feel like whores and sluts. Or, to quote Twisty in her own words:

Femininity is a set of practices and behaviors (boob jobs, FGM, ‘beauty’, the ‘veil’, the flirty head-tilt, pornaliciousness, BDSM, fashion, compulsory pregnancy, marriage, et al) that are dangerous, painful, pink, or otherwise destructive; that compel female subordination; that exist only to benefit Dude Nation; that are overwhelmingly represented by ‘girly’ feminists as a ‘choice’; and that are overwhelmingly represented by godbags and other irritating conservatives as ‘natural instincts’. In fact these practices and behaviors are nothing but inviolable cultural traditions in abject compliance with which comfort, contentment, and personal fulfillment are inextricably intertwined, and from which deviation is discouraged by the threat of ingenious punishments ranging from diminished social influence, to unemployability, to ridicule, to imprisonment, to rape, to murder, to the policing of feminist blogs.

That's right. If you're a woman who likes to be sexually appealing, for whatever reason, you're buying into female subordination to the Dude Nation. If you like that sort of thing, it's because you've given in to intimidation. Translation: you ought to be ashamed of yourself, you whore, for wanting to fuck a man! She is promoting, in her own way, the very diminished social influence and ridicule she knows the patriarchy uses to condemn sex practices it doesn't like.

The marks of her class - that of a wealthy white person - are all over her blog in other ways. Such as her word choice. It isn't exactly what we use down here amongst the masses. We tend to speak plain. It takes the education of a guy like George Bush to get the humor in stuff like this: "This stunningly unremarkable event in the pornulational continuum induced not the slightest blip on my obstreperometer." I mean . . . pornulational continuum? Obstreperometer? To even get the humor in her diction requires a prep school education. Her language betrays her class. Combined with her lifestyle of leisure, her obvious displays of wealth and her patriarchal attempts to shame and humiliate people who don't live up to her standards, I conclude thus: she has met the enemy and she is them. She's a revolutionary in the sense that it isn't the system she objects to, but who runs it. Right now, men run it for their own purposes. She just wants them replaced with people like her who will run it for their purposes. She is the patriarchy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Science and Secularism

I was reading PZ Myer's blog. In a recent post, he did something he frequently does, and that many atheists do, which is give this universal primacy to science in the scientific method. Says he: "Faith says that the way to get answers is by revelation, accepting authority, and dogma. Science says that the way to get answers is by examining the evidence critically, testing hypotheses with experiment in the natural world, and by constantly reevaluating and revising our ideas to make them more accurate."

Indeed, he was responding to this: "The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths."

Both of them conflate reason with science. Anyone with passing interest in my blog and writings know that I am very pro-science, but I think that . . . well, I understand that the theists do want to try to limit the damage that the secular world is doing to them. But I am finding it increasingly disturbing that the atheists approach the subject of addressing religion in such a one note way. As if the fight is a brawl over scientific facts, alone!

But it isn't, and science is not the only field to use reason and philosophical materialism to address it's subject matter. Another area -- and this is another key area when discussing matters religions -- is history. History attempts to explain human events without the slightest hint of the supernatural. It is not a science, but all the core elements of history are similar to science, and they are based on the same sort of philosophical materialism of science. You look for data to create an increasing accurate view of the past, and ideas that aren't supported by the data are generally discarded.

History is also one of the most powerful tools that an atheist can use -- and secular historians are definitely under a sustained attack by religious people. Still, it is useful to be able to debunk religion by pointing out not only how none of the supernatural events of various religious works are supported by historical works but also all the other religions that are dead, to be able to talk about how religions are formed and die, the plethora of would-be messiahs and gods whose works have been exposed as frauds, and often the complete lack of a historical record about the existence of these people, and how that record is at variance with religious works.

I know this is true for me. I can be talking with a Christian about Simon Peter and they'll be disturbed at what I'm writing about. That is, after all, part of the point of me writing it. They'll get disturbed and say that I'm factually wrong about things and they'll use what as their sole reference? If you didn't guess "the Bible" then where do you live so I can go there where it isn't know that Christians have a grand total of one reference about everything, hmm? Yes, the Bible. So, I can start talking about historical events and other religions of the period and I'll almost always draw a blank stare. So, you say that Christianity is just Roman Mithraism with a Jewish coat of paint, and that various solar religions with stories similiar to Christianity were all over the area for centuries, Roman, Persian, Greek and Egyptian, the general response I get is a blank stare. Despite Mithraism being the official cult of several Roman legions, including some in the area, and Mithraism's similarity to Christianity, and it predating Christianity by about 200 years, Christians are ignorant of Mithraism.

And that's just one of the gems that can be dropped on Christians from history. The Christian narrative, like all religious narratives, simply can't stand up in the face of the historical record. When a person is able to contextualize a religious story in the broader panoply of history, the stories don't seem as urgent. A Christian reading the Bible can easily feel that what is going on in those stories must have been the most important thing in the universe -- but when compared to the larger story of the Jewish world, the Roman Empire and it's struggle with Persia, the vastness of Indian and Chinese history, all occurring at the same time, it becomes a lot less impressive.

Of course, history isn't even the only additional discipline. Politics is another. Now, politics won't be able to combat the truth or falseness of religion, but when a person has studied politics in any capacity, it becomes painfully obvious that the best sorts of governments are those without church interference. The correlation between a secular government and the well-being of the people under that government is nearly absolute. It is harder to promote religion in society when a person has a good knowledge of politics.

Of course, all of these things are related to some extent. Science and religion share many techniques, and politics and history have interesting interconnections, and they all make use at various stages mathematics and statistics. But the notion that science is the only way to addressing the foolishness of religion is something that needs to stop, I feel.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Religion in the Media - Thoughts in Brief

A great big ol' hat tip to Vast Left Wing Conspiracy at God is for Suckers for bringing this to my attention.

The article is from Media Matters, it's Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in Major News Media. Nuggets of wisdom from the article include that fundie nutjobs are 3 times more likely to be quoted than "progressive" religious leaders. (I mean, to me, calling yourself a progressive religious leader is like saying you're a best downhill skiier in Haiti, but maybe that's just me.) But what this seems to demonstrate is something I've said before, and I'm sure I'm going to say it, again: fundamentalism is mainstream religion in America.

The fundies aren't quoted 3 times as often because there's some conspiracy to destroy liberal Christianity in America, but because those leaders actually represent the religious views of most religious Americans. They're on the tube because the people who watch the tube want to see them. They're there because they accurately represent American Christians.