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Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Religion

“Religion is like a knife: you can either use it to cut bread, or stick it in someone's back.”
    ― Desmond Tutu

 

What’s that old saying?

Religion is like a penis, right?

I think that’s an apt description.

Religion is like a penis.

It’s okay to have one.

It’s okay to be proud of it, I suppose.

It’s not a bad toy to play with, all things considered.  It serves a useful purpose. It makes a lot of people feel better, it gives them release and relief. And it’s been known to make some people very happy. Like the banana, it is ergonomically pleasing – as artwork throughout the ages can attest. Many words in song and poetry have been dedicated to descriptions of its phallic glory. 

Some might even consider it divine.

But like anything else, it can be – and often is – abused.

It can give joy and contentment, or it can cause the owner a great deal of pain – and no end of problems. And let’s be honest, in a certain light, from the wrong angle, when you throw cold water on it, well, it’s a little ridiculous.

When you start obsessing over your organ, worshipping it, preening and polishing and comparing it to others, you’re just jerking off – and you know what religion says about blind self indulgence. 

If you pull it out in public and start flogging it around and demanding that everybody else bow down before your rampant magnificence, most people think you’re just being a dick. Though, of course, people being people, there are always those who will drop to their knees and swallow whatever it is that you’re handing out.

And when you start sticking it into others without their permission, well, my friend, that’s called rape.

 

A post of mine on Facebook led to a conversation about religion and politics. You know, the usual. In the course of the discussion I made a lengthy comment regarding my particular view of religion in general.  A number of folks asked me to turn those comments into an essay here so that they could share it more widely.

You ask, I deliver.

Over the years, given the things I write here, certain people have gotten it into their heads that I’m anti-religion, or that I’m some kind of militant atheist, or that I hate all religious people. 

None of that is correct – though I honestly don’t much care if you think so.

I don’t have any particular problem with the idea of a deity, or deities plural if you prefer. The universe is a big place, if we manage to survive long enough as a species, sooner or later we’re going to encounter entities indistinguishable from gods – if we don’t transform ourselves into such beings first, that is.

I certainly don’t profess to know for certain if there is a god or not.  And I mostly just don’t care.  God stays on his side of the universe and I stay on mine. If he (or she) needs something, he knows where to find me – but I don’t heed mumbo jumbo and I have no use for proxies, if he’s got something to say to me, he’d best show up in person and speak plainly.  You tell me you’re speaking for god, you’d better have a signed power of attorney in hand or other such proof, otherwise I put you in the same category with magicians (I might enjoy the showmanship, but I know there’s a trick).

No it’s not the idea of god that I have a problem with, it’s religion.

Now, I don't have anything against religion per se.  Everybody believes in something, and like the aforementioned penis, so long as you keep it to yourself unless invited otherwise, you and I are good.

Where I have a problem is when people use their religion as a cudgel to beat others over the head.

And just for the record, I feel the same way about militant non-believers.

You believe? Fine.

You don't believe. That’s fine too.

But you start acting like a raging dick about it, then we're going to have a problem.

This is a defining criteria with me.  I am pathologically incapable of suffering fools, or dicks, gladly.  I don’t want to and I don’t have to. You stick your religion, or your cock, in my face and you can expect to get kicked in the balls.

A few days ago, a reader complained that I seem to talk about religion a lot. And I do. But, see, here’s the thing, if you don’t want me to keep harping on your religion then quit bringing it up.

You may not believe this, but I never set out to offend believers (or non-believers for that matter). Unless they ask for it.

Again, it’s like a penis, you pull it out in public and start waving it around, then you’d better be willing to accept the resulting critical analysis.  Don’t like what people say about your pride and joy? It hurts your feelings and makes you feel bad? Then keep it in your pants.

People like Westboro Baptist Church? They're asking for it. Those people stand on the corner waving their dicks at the public every single day.  The US Constitution gives them the right to do so, but that doesn’t mean I have to respect their virulent hatred – and I don’t.

Evangelicals like Michele Bachmann? She's asking for it. The Constitution might give her the right to act like an ignorant dimwitted bug-eyed screeching Jesus freak, but that doesn’t mean I have to respect her hateful stupidity – and I don’t.

Superstitious loons like Rick Perry? He’s asking for it. The Constitution might give him the right to command Texans to pray, foam at the mouth and roll on the floor, and lift up their arms to heaven asking their god to make it rain, but that doesn’t mean I have to join in – and I won’t.

TV preachers who offer salvation in exchange for dollars? They're asking for it. The guy on the corner waving his holy book and screaming at traffic? He’s asking for it. Politicians who violate their sworn oath (an oath, by the way, that they swear on the Bible and end with “So help me, God”) by attempting to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us? They’re asking for it.  Glassy eyed lunatics who knock on my door on Saturday morning and try to shove some religious tract into my hand while damning me to their hell? They’re asking for it. 

These people go around attempting to jam their dicks into every orifice they see. I find this offensive and obnoxious, and it tends to make me offensive and obnoxious in turn.

But that doesn’t mean I think every religious person is a prick, or stupid, or ignorant, or deluded, or obnoxious – because I don’t. Not at all. In fact, I have a great deal of respect for religions, Christians for example, who actually live the tenets of their belief.  Jesus, if what we know of him is accurate, seems like a guy I could respect and call a friend – heck, I betcha he’d be a regular here on Stonekettle Station.

I know a lot of religious folks, including a number of ordained clergy, and they don’t go around acting like raging hard-ons. 

The problem I have with religion, and evangelical Christianity in particular, is when others insist that I live up to their beliefs ... when they don't themselves.

You claim to be Christian, a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, but you only preach the Old Testament and ignore Christ's very explicit orders to give up wealth, to feed the hungry, to clothe the poor, to heal the sick, to do unto others, to reserve judgment for God, to attend first the beam in your own eye, and above all to be kind. And not only do you ignore those commands, but actively dismiss them and rationalize them away when they are brought to your attention,  then you shouldn’t be surprised when I mock your hypocrisy.

Honestly, if you can't live up to the requirements of your religion, then why should I?

If you don’t respect the commands of your own prophet, why should I?

When you insist that I respect your beliefs, but you show no respect whatsoever for mine in return, then you shouldn’t be surprised by my loud disrespect.  You don’t get to damn me to your hell, you don’t get to judge me or anybody else for that matter – and that’s in your Bible, you can look it up.

If you want me to respect your religion, then be worthy of respect.

It’s really just that simple.

And here's the rest of it: when your religion demands equal time with science, then it should have to meet the exact same burden of rigor as science if you want me to take it seriously.

I don't have a problem with creationism being taught in public school, so long as it's taught in mythology class right next to Thor and the Loch Ness Monster.

But the minute you want to insert your religion into science class, you'd better be bringing along the same, the exact same, degree of scientific rigor as physics or chemistry or astronomy or biology or whatever field of inquiry you’d care to name.

And I don't think that’s too much to ask. 

In fact, it should be simple, shouldn’t it?

After all religion claims all of creation, from the beginning of time to its end across the width and depth of the entire universe.  Now surely, out of all that, from creation to man lives inside a whale to the loaves/fishes to angels destroy a city to burning bushes to one guy builds a boat the size of an aircraft carrier out of sticks and fills it full of animals and rides out the end of the world to resurrection itself, surely out all of that, you can find something that can be tested to the exact same degree of scientific rigor required for publication in any reputable mainstream scientific journal.

I think that's fair, and I'm not asking for anything that I don't demand of science.

And as long as we're on the subject of "equal time," you want your religion taught in public school? Then "equal" means you're willing to accept the teaching of science, say evolution by a certified evolutionary biologist, in religious schools. No? Then don't talk to me about equal, because now you're asking to be mocked in public.

I don't have a problem with religion until it insists that I believe without proof, until it attempts to force others to comply.

And that's exactly what you’re doing when you insist that this is a Christian nation. It’s not a Christian nation and never has been. Just as it’s not a Jewish nation, or a Muslim one, or an atheist one. It’s a nation where Christians, and all other beliefs, are free to live their lives without fear of persecution so long as they don’t harm others.  But that doesn’t mean you get to claim the whole goddamned nation for yourself or use your religion to beat the rest of us about the head and shoulders.

And that is exactly what you’re doing when you attempt to force your beliefs on others.

When it comes to things like homosexuality, if you don't like gay marriage because it makes Jesus soggy and hard to light, then don't get gay married. If you don’t believe in birth control because some doddering old virgin in a pointy hat says it’s bad, then don’t go around sticking your dick in things. But you don't get to make other people comply with your religion. Don't like it? Too fucking bad, go complain to Jesus or Thor or Cthulhu or whoever it is you give your money to, but I don't want to hear it.

And if you keep preaching at me, if you keep attempting to force the country that I live in into your church, if you keep attempting to shove your cock in my face, then you'd better be prepared for what comes next.

Finally, and because I was asked, yes, frankly I do often find certain militant non-believers to be just as obnoxious as fanatical believers.

I'm not saying the two are equal, I’m not saying they are the same, I'm saying dicks come in all flavors (yep, I did that on purpose).

You can be a non-believer without being an obnoxious jerk about it. But that’s how I feel about most things. Adults can disagree without being dicks, many don’t, but it is possible.

Next, of course, you'll ask me what label applies to me.

The answer is "none."

I'm neither a believer nor a non-believer.

There's no label for me, just as there’s no label for people who don’t believe in Leprechauns but honestly don’t mind if other people do.

There’s no label for me and I like it that way just fine.

“Religion is like a pair of shoes. Find one that fits for you, but don't make me wear yours.”
George Carlin

143 comments:

  1. "quit bringing it up," not "brining it up." Typos are hell, ¿no? [Please don't publish this.]

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    1. Since we're editing, "..heel the sick.." should be "heal".

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    2. Note that "criterion" is the singular of "criteria."

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  2. A label for me is 'Danny', I always assumed a label for you was 'Jim'.

    Danny

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  3. I bet Jesus would be a regular here at the Station too, Jim. Heck, maybe He already is.

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  4. Here's an edit for you, Jim. "It’s a nation where Christians, and all other beliefs" Maybe change beliefs to believers.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. exactly! i've always felt that there was little to no difference between organised religion and organised crime. *bonus points for quoting the god of comedy. (rest in peace or raise hell george, whichever is your preference)

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  7. Although I don't use the language quite as boldly as you do, I agree with every word you said. And, I can't help but laugh at your use "dick" as a substitute for religion. My mother would have said that was awful, but she would have laughed as well. It's quite a mental image.

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    1. I agree with every word he said, too. And agree with people shoving it in my face as dicks. And would say it, although my mom wouldn't like it.

      I watched these videos a few minutes ago:

      Hailstorm ensures it's no day at the beach
      Video: So much for a relaxing day of sand & surf. Some unfortunate beachgoers in Russia had to run for cover when the weather suddenly changed. (Just after I got my drivers license, something similar happened to me as I was driving to SLO to visit my sister at Cal Poly)
      http://msnvideo.msn.com/?channelindex=2&from=en-us_msnhp#/video/40988ae7-1cc5-4375-ab20-e4cdbfe6301a

      Cloud seems to fall from the sky (IOW, rain!)
      http://msnvideo.msn.com/?channelindex=4&from=en-us_msnhp#/video/8ae0e8dc-1907-a274-f58a-b242657cebf1

      Stunning footage shows developing storm (IOW, cool!)
      http://msnvideo.msn.com/?channelindex=4&from=en-us_msnhp#/video/5b436ba1-5848-4a7b-b06b-affb74c0a999

      and thought, some people would think this was 'god being angry', and the rest of us would think 'physics'."

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  8. Oh, the irony...At the bottom of this essay is a poll that says, "Do you support traditional marriage? Vote now"

    My problem with this type of poll is they are very mis-leading. Yes, I support traditional marriage, but I do NOT support ONLY traditional marriage. I support the ideal of whomever wishes to get married should be allowed to do so. And get all the benefits as well as the responsibilities that come with it.

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    1. I'm opposed to traditional marriage - you know, the marriage of the bible, one guy, three or four wives. It's all I can do to keep up with one!

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    2. You just made me grin. Yes. It depends upon how you define traditional marriage. Love it. I felt like you channeled my thinking in this post, Mr. Wright. You just wrote it better than I could. Hilarious metaphor! I will have to share with my extended family, all of whom will love it.

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    3. Traditional marriage? Hmm, maybe they should define traditional marriage before asking for support.

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  9. Irony is me reading this in a Family Christian Stores parking lot (with a temp of 104!) while my wife and son purchase a sympathy card for a "religious" family friend... with a husband, 5 kids, 5 baby-daddies AND a boyfriend she met... wait for it... yes, at church!

    I felt a plain sympathy card from Walgreens would've sufficed!

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    1. But here in west Perryland (El Paso) it's a dry heat!

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    2. Might want to stop by Walgreen on the way to the party anyway, and pick her up a box of condoms.

      What, I'm just saying it couldn't hurt.

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    3. She could always use them as decorative balloons for the party....

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  10. Are you ready for the hate mail, thou Tool of Satan? I think there are good, kind, admirable people in every religion and atheism as well. But when any system gets too large – any system, including health care, law, education, etc. – it breaks down and has bad effects.

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  11. How funny, as I get to the bottom of the post, there's an ad for the 'New Scientist'. I'm logged in at that point, so after I log in to post, there's an ad from 'Mormon.org'

    practicing what you preach... who woulda thunk :)

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    1. duh... typo, should be "I'm not logged in"

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  12. Damn, I really loved this, Jim, and I couldn't agree more. To top it all, you made me laugh. Thank you!

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  13. I particularly enjoyed checking the "You are my God!" checkbox.

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  14. “Religion is based primarily upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly as the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand."
    Bertrand Russell

    One of my favorite quotes about religion. I enjoyed your notions as well, Jim.

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  15. Can I get this in a wallet size?
    This needs to be handed out.

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    1. OK..wallet sized or not, think about printing this up and taking it into bathrooms at all Hobby Lobby stores--tape it up and leave! Potty blogging!!! What fun.

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    2. Maybe, in the spirit of the dominant metaphor, you could get it in wallet size but if you rub it it will get big enough to read ALL the words.

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  16. This will make 16 Comments and 16 Reactions; all votes for "You are my God!". I find that very appropriate.

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  17. It is my belief that God has no interest in religion or dogma.

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  18. I agree with almost everything here because it is a part of me, too....But one thing you got wrong....You do have a label; it's ........sane.........I know you say you rub against crazy and put your tongue in it's ear.(and I can't tell you how much I love that statement)...Well, we all do, closer than most think, Jim....Having run the San Francisco General Psych Emergency at night for 23 years, I know crazy.....and how there is only a thin line of separation.....most nights, the only difference between me and the patients was: I HAD THE KEYS ........but I so loved the 3 am discussions with a patient who was willing to go deeply into his/her 'craziness'.....I could sometimes run a match step by step.....No, you got a label: SANE......also I loved the penis metaphor, but then I would wouldn't I, just natural for me, but may I say that the comparisons (as well as the irony) just rolled effortless off your tongue (no accusation intended)....Thank you for a very thought provoking editorial (and all in one place too !).......Having been an English teacher form Jr. High to University, I cannot resist: There were a few noteworthy high points in the polemic here: None of that is correct – though I honestly don’t much care if you think so......Maybe, probably, it's just that this was a milestone for me in my evolution a while ago, and I tend to agree....I, with the exception of a few people, do not give over to others the right to decide how I am going to be...I consider this the responsibility of an adult to be responsible for oneself, and how one chooses and wants to be....I realized at this point in my development that here I became free.....no control from others, from my culture, etc.....and it was hard for me to get there.....sounds like you have arrived there too......I welcome you to that place...........Another cogent point: " No it’s not the idea of god that I have a problem with, it’s religion." Ghandi said: I love your Christ but I hate your Christians because your Christians are unlike your Christ. I don't actually hate Christians, I just wonder which Jesus they are talking about......For me, it is always the Fundamentalists in every religion which are the problem......When they start this bullshit about if you don't do what I say, you'll have to go to my hell.....Bullshit.....I am Buddhist, not for the religion, but for the mind training, and the ordinary way of life....I took vows of poverty, gave it all away, I meditate and spend long hours in mental practice.....practicing for a 30 day silent meditation retreat in Kaufman Texas in October 2014......Thank you for being my friend Jim ......Stonekettle: I love this name !!!! Oh, and one other think I thought about and adored while reading here was your understanding of and ability to portray in your writing: The irony of life as exemplified by the penis metaphor....The difference between good writers and great writers is IRONY !!!!

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    1. Really nice analysis of an excellent, articulate post on the absurdity of religion. Unfortunate that one of the few typos was in the sentence extolling your past record as an English teacher. Forgive my pedantry ;-)

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  19. As usual, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. Generally, I just describe myself as an agnostic because people love labels and that one comes closest (I don't think there's a god but, I also don't believe that can be adequately proven). Like you, I don't mind people having any religion as long as they don't try to foist it on me (or my gov't for that matter). What I say to my many religious friends is this: "If you need the life raft of religion to swim the rough seas of reality far be from me to snatch it away, I'd prefer to swim on my own, you raft makes me too itchy".

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    1. Sorry, that's "your raft makes me too itchy".

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  20. Lol! The ad I'm seeing says "Discover ways you can strengthen your family ties. mormon.org"
    The ad engine knows we're talking about religion, it just doesn't understand what we're saying.

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    1. "The ad engine knows we're talking about religion, it just doesn't understand what we're saying."

      Not so different from the one time my mother reluctantly agreed to let me attend church with my best friend.

      bd

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  21. The word I prefer is 'apatheist'. There may be a God; there may not… in either case, it's irrelevant to my daily life.

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    1. Or perhaps..."Ignapatheist"? To quote Jimmy Buffett: "is it ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care". Pretty much my stand on the Great Googlymoogly, but i never bothered naming it...

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  22. Well put, and you amused me. Bless you.

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  23. So I have one smallish issue. Faith is belief in the absence of proof. That point is what I base my Christianity on but can still accept science at face value. They can coexist just fine if you follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as you outlined.

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    1. Proof is, unfortunately, often in the eye of the beholder. Very, very few people are able to reason clearly and accurately. Most are merely rationalizers.

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    2. But how do you know what THE teachings are? :) The various sects of Christianity have been warring over this for 2000 years.

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  24. I'll venture to say that there are more moral atheists than there are Christians, but that's just my opinion.
    And you know what they say about opinions: "Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, some stink more than others."

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  25. Religion is perfect for Godly people who refuse to submit to anything unorganized.

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  26. "Faith is belief in the absence of proof." says Dan. I have no faith because everything I believe in, I can see and hear and touch and taste and smell. It is all around me, as far as this Universe goes. I have walked a long and twisted path to get to where I am today. Baptized by the Baptists, I have also attended Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches. I converted to Catholicism (but knew that the Pope and I had different ideas about a LOT of stuff). I eventually put all of that behind me and am walking the Eight-Fold Path. Like MedicineShowPolitico, I have chosen to be a Buddhist mainly because it is NOT a religion. It is a way of life. I add a couple more labels to that, telling people I am a Tibetan Zen Buddhist. I meditate, I work on the loosening of attachments (to things, to words, to old feelings). I am trying to be a good Buddhist. Is there a god, or many gods (and goddesses)? Maybe. Maybe they are all archetypes we have created in our own image, to deal with the morality of our own behavior. To quote the meme, "You don't need religion to have morals. If you can't determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion."

    I agree with you about requiring others to live a (insert adjective here) life when you yourself do not. Hypocrisy of the highest caliber. And frankly, if you identify as a Christian, that means a Christ follower; that means you need to STOP using the Old Testament as your guidebook and flip a little further back into the book until you reach the Gospels.

    You quoted what has to be my favorite response to the idiots who are taking Jesus' name in vain by saying they belong to him: Matthew 25:31-46 "For I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you invited me into your home...." etc, etc, etc. Take away of those verses: The way you behave to the other sacred beings on this planet is how you will be treated by your Jesus at Judgment Day. So if you believe in that book, and the concept of a final judgment, you'd better have your shit together. (And not be waving a dick in my face. Fabulous metaphor, but you seem to have missed one part of it: "Religion is like a dick...don't push it in my children's face." Our kids see the hate and vitriol of these self-acclaimed Christians on TV, maybe even in real life...how do you explain that to a 4 year old, who is wise enough to understand that you don't say you love Jesus and then hate your neighbor.)

    If I can get my act together, I am going to putting a blog (WordPress) called "The Challenge of the Complicated Conversations. Religion, Politics, Sex, some mixture of two or more of those and other passionate topics will be brought out and run, like trained monkeys, across the screen. We'll see how that goes.

    Thanks for the essay; great stuff in there, guaranteed to start brain processes going in those who still have the gears to do the pondering...and it'll just piss off the ones who don't!

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  27. Everyone is getting cool ads, I'm getting Medifast?? Somehow that doesn't seem fair.

    Great essay, Jim. I'm pretty active in my church, (Episcopalian) but I don't wave it around, I don't prostelytize at all in my "real" life. But people in real life push and prod me all the time to explain my beliefs, how can I be part of it, why do I do it, why would I spend all that time there, and not because they're thinking of joining me, but more why am I wasting my time, in their views. I get tired of having to defend myself. So the dick waving sometimes is from the other side, the non-religious side.

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  28. Great writing, as it always is.
    BYW, though, although penises have their uses they are still damned funny looking coming out of the shower, all dangly and odd. (don't start talking to me about the other uses, ok?)

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  29. Loved the essay. I'm not into religion as much as I am into belief. And it is my belief that God exists because I believe it. I don't care if you believe or agree with me! I still enjoy your writing!

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  30. Great essay as usual.

    I particularly liked the part about feeling the same way towards militant non-believers.

    I have no problem with any belief system that allows others (me and mine especially), to live their lives the way the see fit. I personally don't know if there is a God, but I am convinced the god of the Abrahamic faiths is a fraud perpetrated on mankind as a way to control all people, but especially women .

    I am as frustrated by the folks that are atheists and expect me to be to either agree with them or justify my position as I am with the faith peddlers that do the same.

    Rick Morton

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  31. Great essay, Jim. I've never heard the analogy before, but you expound on it well. It's not just a catch phrase, the way you write. I believe that I will have a different mental image of those trying to force religion on me in the future. "You're trying to shove WHAT down our throats?!"

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  32. Most excellent, Jim.

    Funny... the ad I'm getting? "Cholesterol Study", looking for people with cardiovascular disease. What? It thinks I might have a heart?

    MarianneRPool

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  33. My ad is for Birch Lane. I wonder what that says about me?? I consider myself a Christian but I am so horrified and embarrassed by the actions of those horrible people who want to beat everyone who doesn't follow their way. I just want to hang my head in shame when others try to lump me in that same group. Good job Jim, as always.

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  34. Another essay that hit home for me. I really enjoyed reading and I love the comments, too. You definitely have a way with words. I am at work reading and the laughing out loud is probably annoying my co-workers, but I don't care. Thanks for another great job!

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  35. "Religion is like a penis". This is quite possibly the best analogy I've ever seen! Appropriate on so many levels. Thank you, Jim, for providing yet another sane commentary on the mass insanity so prevalent today.

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  36. Very interesting and insightful essay, Jim. Interesting to me especially because my dad was a reformed Catholic Sicilian first gen in the US (dad was a physicist; his parents, brothers and sisters all blamed his education for his fall from grace). Mom was raised Baptist and Methodist. And somewhere along the way they met at a Unitarian Universalist dance, and, well, the rest is history. My paternal aunts gave me a rosary, taught me how to say the Hail Mary's, took me to church, and prayed for me. By the time I was born, my mom's family had slipped into a somewhat apathetic view of religion (although I think they'd disagree with my assessment), so I have little if no recollection of any maternal relatives' influence on my religious views. As it turns out, I spent my childhood going to UU services. Later, became interested in Buddhism, married my first husband, whose family were Episcopalian. After divorcing, dated a Methodist minister, and attended his church. After that ended, I dated a sworn Atheist for several years. I married my husband in 1999....he's Jewish! I follow a lot of Buddha's teachings; Buddhism comes closest to fitting how I view the world and life and being. My kids go to synagogue and Hebrew school and we do just fine. My experiences have made me kind of a moderate with regard to religion. I'm fairly neutral and nonjudgmental when it comes to others and their beliefs. It serves me well in the work I do as a marriage and family therapist. My clients run the gamut of faiths, and they have taught me a lot. Your essay is spot on. I have dropped several friends who have attempted to shove their doctrine down my throat. I'm just not that kind of girl.








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  37. I've finally found a "label" that I'm comfortable with, Agnostic Atheist. I don't believe in deities, but cannot prove their non-existence. If they do exist, they are of no consequence to me.

    The one thing that WILL turn me into an "obnoxious non-believer" is when people use their mythology as grounds and reason to deny people like me, equal protection under the law. I am a 61-year-old gay man, who has been fighting this all of my life, even when I was a practicing Christian.

    I was living in CA in 2008, and couldn't believe that with Prop 8, they were putting the civil rights of a group of people up for a popular vote! I was further upset by the fact that the Mormon Church was behind and financing the campaign. Apparently they felt they could ignore one of their god's "biggies" about bearing false witness, since their commercials were full of lies like, "Your minister will be FORCED to perform same-sex marriages." or "If your minister preaches that homosexuality is wrong, he'll be arrested and tossed in jail!"

    The morning after the election was such a mixed bag. We elected our first black president, but California also took civil rights away from a minority group of people.

    If your mythology makes you feel better or brings you comfort when you are close to death, great, but don't use it to hurt other people that may be different from yourself. For me, when I walked down the path to disbelief, it was freeing. I no longer took the randomness of life, personally. If something "bad" happened, I no longer wondered what I did wrong.

    One doesn't need religion to be moral either, one only needs empathy. Ironically, I seem to have better "Christian values" as a non-believer, than many Christians I know, or know of, and certainly more than many a politician.

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  38. First, as always, I look forward to some point in the future when I can enjoy a beer (or beverage of choice) with you while simply chatting about the things (like this) that we agree on, or (especially) the things we don't.

    In the meantime, 25 years ago I worked at a firm with a gentleman who was a devout Christian. Evangelical. He would spend part of every day asking people at our workplace what their "religious persuasion" was. He got to me one day and asked mine. I informed him that I was Russian Orthodox. He looked dubious and asked me if it was "a Christian religion". Spotting an opportunity for a little fun, I explained that it was, but that it was for very busy people and so we only worked on one of the 10 Commandments per week. He asked "Which one is it this week?" and I told him that for this week, I'd stopped coveting my neighbor's wife, but that it was really impacting my sex life. I then walked away. He never bothered me again.

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  39. The sex analogy is apt, I find people pestering me about their belief or non-belief, just as annoying as I do someone shoving their bedroom proclivities in my face. Honest, people, if I wanted to know, I'd ask.

    Shadow

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  40. I agree with this entire essay. Absolutely, without reservation.

    I was raised Presbyterian and Methodist. But I don't have faith, regardless of attempts at indoctrination. I suppose I'm just not a "joiner." To simplify things, I usually claim to be agnostic--there may be a higher power, but I don't think prayer does anything, nor do I think organized religion is the only way to reach out to her/him/it. Granted, I am also a fan of the line from the movie Deep Impact, spoken by Morgan Freeman, "I believe that God answers all prayers. Sometimes the answer is No." Which might be my answer, since most of the prayers I used to offer were requests that my Manic Bipolar (actually, unipolar--she's NEVER been depressed) mother would find some healing, since science was having such a rough time of it. But since, if that IS my answer, it looks exactly the same as if there were no answer at all, my lack of faith remains intact.

    Thanks for telling it so clearly, and kudos on the vibrant new digs, since I don't think I've commented since the change.

    Gretchen in KS

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  41. Thank you, once again you have started pretty much where I stand clearly and with great humour. I would but have been so bold as to use the penis analogy, but it is so perfect and graphically explanatory I will likely have to steal it. I identify as an interfaith minister, from a Christian tradition, and I certainly didn't find anything in your essay offensive, more same and rational than most of the folks in the country recently. I also think that Jesus would be a minion, likely is, based on the comment stream.

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  42. My ad is for a free book about the Antichrist! :-)

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    1. Oh no! And now it is trying to get me to go sign a Billy Graham pledge. This is fun!

      Delete
  43. Great analogy! I'm a devout Christian & agreed with everything you said until you equated evolution with rigorous science. I agree that creationism shouldn't be taught in science classrooms, but then neither should molecules-to-man evolution. Micro-evolution, yes. Natural selection & adaptation, absolutely. Those are observable & testable. But the theory that life arose from some soup of elements does NOT stand up to the test of rigorous science. One really has to have more faith to believe in that than believing that an all powerful designer created life. If you're interested in learning about the scientific probability of evolution, this is worth a half hour: http://www.worldviewweekend.com/news/article/probability-and-evolution

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    1. I beg to differ, but the Theory of Evolution is a proven one- as proven as the Theory of Gravity. The exact mechanisms may not be, but the basis of the theory is solid. It is proven in the petre dish in the doctor's office, and in vaccines such as flu viruses every day. The Theory of Evolution has survived the rigorous scientific scrutiny of repeated experimentation and peer review and challenge. Check out Wed's NOVA episode, Part 3 of a series on Australia and evolution will be showing. You should go ahead and Netflix the whole thing, along with Cosmos. Maybe then you'd have a better understanding of why your statement is so wrong. (perhaps because it would challenge your comfort zone with your Christianity?)

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    2. Many people believe that evolution really happened

      Many people believe what's in the Bible. Scientists can prove what they say (or they get drummed out of the Corps). Can your preacher? No, s/he cannot.

      Rather than just listening to claims of events that no one has ever observed (big bang, the origin of life, human evolution,…)

      The "Virgin Birth"...the "Miracles"...the "Resurrection" (in fact, Jesus himself. I read J D Crossan's The Historical Jesus--took me a couple years to slog through--and at the end, I was perplexed. Where was Jesus? Crossan literally did not show me a "historical Jesus", although I learned a lot about the life of a weaver's apprentice named Tryphon gleaned from trash piles that Egypt's arid climate preserved, than I did about anybody named Jesus.)

      You have a book, written in bits and pieces over millennia, by hordes of authors largely unknown, translated and re-translated by others with self-evident political motives, and you accept it as The Truth, and dismiss the work of trained, dedicated scientists as bunkum? You (as a group, perhaps not you as a person) demand to know "were you there?" when scientists tell what they think happened. I can't help but laugh every time I hear it.

      So.

      Were you there?

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    3. As a former college level biology teacher in the religious Midwest, I used to actually teach creationism side-by-side with evolution. I actually advocate doing so, to the complete condemnation of my science peers, national science education organizations, atheist organizations, etc. But here's what happened.....obviously, creationism is based on nothing, whereas evolution is based on fact after fact after fact after fact....

      So I would put them side-by-side on a chart. When placed thusly it became obvious even to my die-hard creationist students how ridiculous non-acceptance of evolution actually is. One of my favorite questions to the students was "how many absolutely provable, testable facts would it take to destroy the theory of evolution? One. Just one. Haldane's "fossil rabbits in the Precambrian" is a good example. (More obvious examples can be found here http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Disproving_evolution)

      I changed a lot of minds, but not all, of course. But what ultimately happened is that I was asked by the administration to stop teaching creationism in biology, not because it didn't belong there (I think it does, actually) but because the FUNDY students complained that I was making creationism look bad!

      Personally, I'm convinced that we should be teaching creationism in biology class, and that if we did so, it wouldn't take long before:
      a0 the creationist fundys would stop wanting it taught there, and
      b) we wouldn't have a nearly 50% rate of the population who reject such a fundamental basic of science.

      April

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    4. Hi Jim,

      I posted a reply here that apparently you did not approve of. I'm sorry about that. I would love to know why it wasn't approved so that I don't make that mistake in the future. (Obviously I don't want this posted.)

      Love your writings!
      April drdorseytyler@yahoo.com

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    5. April,

      I saw two comments of yours prior to the one immediately above this. Both were approved and I see both as posted.

      Sometimes it takes me a bit to get around to approving comments, that may be what happened here.

      Hope that clears things up // Jim

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    6. JSchmidt, you may want to check into what evolution actually is before saying it shouldn't be taught in schools. Your objection to evolution is that the part about where life came from isn't testable. Except that's not part of evolution. Evolution begins after life began, the creation of life is not part of it.

      As for your "more faith to believe in that" claim, who designed the designer?

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    7. It does. Sorry to have jumped the gun.

      April

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  44. I have forgotten who said it but "The only difference between a sect and a religion is the number of crazy people who believe in it."

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  45. Like others here, I call myself agnostic or apatheistic. But from the standpoint of a devout believer, I am an atheist, just as early Christians were called 'atheists' by Roman citizens, because they disavowed the multitude of Roman deities. As Mr. Wright says, don't worry about what they call you. But don't let them write the laws!

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  46. My ad is for 'foods women should avoid" and it has a big drawing of a banana. Who says algorithms can't have a sense of humor?

    Those early Pilgrim Fathers have a lot to answer for. The idea of 'Religious Freedom' they carried across the Atlantic in their little wooden boats was very different from the kind Jim espouses and most of us who are not evangelicals now carry around in our 21st century heads. They were rabidly in favor of freedom of religion, but to them that meant freedom FROM any religion other than their own. They didn't even want to hear about anyone else's religion and they certainly didn't want anyone practicing any other kind of religion than their own approved brand anywhere in their colony. Doing so was possibly a hanging offense, certainly a banishing offense.

    This was absolutely not the freedom of religion that was codified in the Bill of Rights, to wit: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
    There are all kinds of historical ins and outs behind that clause, but one notion which is absolutely not embodies there is any kind of notion about one religion having any kind of right to be free from any other religion or free from those who espouse no religion at all (even when they espouse it as fervently as if it WAS a regligion).

    But the evangelicals have never seemed to be able to let go of that old idea of being free FROM other religions. It's like a fungus bound up to to roots of their tree. And it causes all kinds of problems.

    I'm no Christian, but I've spent a long time among Christians, and a long time with the fundamental text of Christianity, ie the New Testament. And what I have never been able to figure out is how anyone who claims that the love of Jesus and his Truths is the guiding Light of her or his life can at the same time support capital punishment, or oppose universal health care, or be against generous immigration policies, or against progressive taxation, or be a racist. And if you really take Jesus at his word it's also pretty damn hard to figure out how you could even be against communism. He was ALL about redistributing the wealth. In fact He was so much about so many things that don't fit in with the the way we all live now that it's just downright weird that so many people who don't want to live the way He advised keep on claiming Him as their guide. In the entire two thousand years since Jesus started the whole Christianity business, I'm pretty sure we only know about one documented guy who actually managed to live precisely according to everything Jesus advocated, and that was Francis of Assisi. And he did not by any means have an easy life.

    All of which is by way of agreeing: none of it makes much sense, so keep your nonsense, and your cocks, to yourselves, all of you, and we'll all get along a hell of a lot better.

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    1. This was absolutely not the freedom of religion that was codified in the Bill of Rights, to wit: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

      The problem is, the Constitution prohibits the government from determining what is and what is not a religion. (Thus we get Scientology, LDS, and Christian Science) and these religions are free to decide what their religion is, and what it demands of them. They alone get to say what the "free exercise" of their religion consists of, and the government can't say no (unless your religion isn't in the Top ten, and your "god" told you to eat some tasty mushrooms*, or drink the Sacred Peyo-tea. Then, well, they're Breaking the Law, and the Establishment Clause is suddenly not quite so sacrosanct.)

      And what do we see today? "Christians" proclaiming their bigotries are an integral part of their "free exercise", and demanding the Government change the Law so that they won't be breaking it when they discriminate against...well, we don't have the complete list yet, do we?

      The fun has only started...


      *Check out John Allegro's The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, wherein he endeavors to establish that early Christians and their precursors used the Amanita Muscaria mushroom in their sacred rites. He was pretty well ridden out of town on a rail for it in the '70s: the publisher apologized, and he resigned from Manchester), but scholarly thinking is slowly turning in his direction. The book is back in print, easily available, and other books have been written on the same subject. Do not, however, expect any Christian to accept the idea, even if archeologists unearth a petrified Priest munching a petrified 'shroom. Not. Gonna. Happen.

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  47. It's astounding how hateful people can be who espouse "religions of love" -- and this time i'm referring to a "secular humanist." :-D I referred to my belief in reincarnation and karma, and the bitch lit into me like I invented "inter-life punishment." ...No, she doesn't need a religion to make her a good, moral person -- she can be a hateful fundamentalist without any help!

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  48. My man! great summation of how many of us feel. So glad to read and agree with your thoughts. I keep pointing out to my "believer" friends that if they want to see what a nation run by religious nuts looks like, take a look at Iraq right now. Three factions, all professing to believe in the same religion. Instant chaos.

    My all time greatest American, Thomas Jefferson, said this:

    "It does me no harm nor ill if my neighbor worships 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

    Well said, Mr. Wright, Sir! SALUTE!

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  49. My thoughts exactly, Mr. W., as usual.

    Something that has always bothered me about God, the world's creator, maker of everything, is the crowd he hangs with. The people he "speaks" to. Directing them to help us lost souls to "find" him. With buds like Pat Robertson, Jim and Tammy Faye, and the thousands of religious leaders guilty of being sexual predators and other nefarious crimes, I'm thinking maybe that's a clique I don't want to belong to. And then there are those that say God told them to go murder everyone at the mall. Nope, not my kind of people.

    Besides, if he can't "find" me, he might not be so powerful after all. I'm not hiding. I can be found often at donation stations and charity events. Right out in the open. Yoo Hoo!

    bd

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  50. You wrote: "... insert your religion it into science class, ...".

    Edit: please remove the word "it".

    Excellent article, as always.

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  51. My ad is "Download Google Chrome." I already have it, although I'm reading this in IE, so the ad-tracking gods are not all-knowing.

    And, I could not wait to press "You are my god," What a brilliant piece this is.

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  52. Does everyone always use a red pen and perform spelling and grammar checks on your essays?

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    1. Pretty much.

      I don't mind, so long as it's meant to be helpful. I'm glad regular readers care enough to want to help make the essay better.

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    2. This above all is what I like about you, Jim. Always willing to accept critique and always trying to improve your message.

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  53. I like to think of myself as the guard dog science our local school. After several families of the LDS sect moved into the area with with their Quiver-full progeny tried to indoctrinate the rest of our small village school. Luckily the Russian Orthodox is strong and that wasn't going to work -yet they all have critical thinking skill issues. When confronted with the statement from one LDS mother that "she would have a problem with a science teacher that refused to teach Creationism in science class." I replied that as a scientist I would have problem with someone trying to introduce a philosophy into the science lab. But if she could point out where the tenets of Creationism are upheld by rigorous scientific challenge and debate, I would consider it. Crickets....Now I'm a school board member and a pit bull when it comes to protecting our science and critical thinking curricula!

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    1. Hedgewytch,

      Thank you for what you are doing to protect science education.

      I have never understood that "you can't be a Christian and accept that evolution is a fact" attitude. Then again, I got a bachelor's in biology at a Jesuit university and studied evolutionary biology from a professor who had a crucifix on his office wall. I was raised Roman Catholic and am now Episcopalian, two denominations that have not had a problem with the Theory of Evolution.

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    2. The only problem I see with accepting evolution as a Christian is that, if God didn't actually MAKE any living thing this throws out the whole Adam and Eve story which throws out original sin which throws out the need for Jesus' sacrifice which is kind of the whole basis of Christianity. This is NOT a criticism of your beliefs...if it works for you, mazel tov!

      But this is the problem that caused my own deconversion from Christianity.

      April

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  54. Not much into religion or dicks ---- I loved this piece. I live in the south, where good ol' time religion is in the air we breathe, and the clean air act hasn't touched it. Now when I'm approached about finding jesus, wherever he is, I'll have a great mental picture of the swinging dick. Thanks!

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  55. Interesting thing. . . .religion! What I find so interesting about Jesus - he never intended to begin a "new religion" ! He was a Jew, through and through! He was just trying to get people to understand what justice, peace, love is all about. I teach an adult Sunday school class in my church - and I rubbed people the wrong way this morning because I talked about God wanting a relationship with us. . . he doesn't love America best!! You should have seen the shocked expressions! Maybe they'll ask me to resign!!

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    1. Very little pisses me off more than the folks who think "God Bless America" means "God Bless America (and no one else)."

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  56. Thank goodness that JIm Wright is still on the net. "Freedom OF religion" also means to a lot of us "Freedom FROM religion". Keep it in mind. And, thank you so much.

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  57. I've seen the analogy between a penis and religion before, but you express it well.

    Another aspect of this analogy is the "Mine is bigger and better than yours" aspect of some people's religious beliefs.

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  58. About lost my coffee on the second sentence, great analogy. love your work Jim. As usual your ability to formulate my feelings into words gives you another......you are my god.

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  59. My own personal mantra also fits very well here too - ahem... "I'm not here to fulfill everyone else's expectations on how I should live my life".

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  60. You laid out my own sentiments, to a tee. Much more eloquently than I could have. Bravo!

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  61. I agree with the general premise, and I find the metaphor to be both effective and memorable, but I am disappointed that all of your examples come from only one side of the political spectrum. Similar examples of abuse from the other side are easy to find, and likely would only bolster your initial observation about religion, but none appear herein. I am led to conclude that this clever and engaging prose is ultimately only political screed.

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    1. How about you offer some concrete examples? Always a constructive way to engage in a conversation.

      Delete
    2. Dearest Anonymous ..... If, as you say "similar examples of abuse from the other side are easy to find" then please, oh please pray tell, share one with us. We're all waiting with baited breath.

      Sincerely - JZinFL

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    3. Upon further reflection, Anonymous, in order to answer your question one would need to ask .... what is your definition of "the other side"? One side, as clearly stated in the essay, consists of militant loudmouth Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists or whatever who want to "stick their dicks in your face" by aggressively subjecting you to their version of religion (and, yes, Atheism is a religious view). The "other side" would then be those Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists or whatever who believe their views on religion are a personal issue, not something to be inflicted on others. If, as it seems, you want to make this about politics I suppose you'd have to take that up with the folks who think their chosen diety favors one political party over another. There are plenty of folks out there who think Jesus is a Republican but I doubt you'll find them here. Anyway, good luck and let us know what they have to say. As I said earlier, we're all patiently waiting to hear back :-)

      JZ inFL

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    4. Anonymous,

      ... I am disappointed that all of your examples come from only one side of the political spectrum.

      What are you talking about? I used Jesus as an example didn't I? Unemployed sandal wearing hippy socialist who hands out free food and medical care while talking about peace and love? Doesn't get much more liberal than that.

      Similar examples of abuse from the other side are easy to find

      Perhaps. I note, however, that you didn't list any actual examples. Couldn't think of any either, eh?

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    5. "Atheism is a religious view": not fully.

      It's kind of like asking someone what icecream flavor they like, to which they answer they dont like icecream. Is a-icecream a really flavor choice?

      So what kind of S&M do you prefer? None. Ah HA! So you do like a certain category of S&M!! Noo i dooon't.

      Plus i suspect people usually mean agnostic over atheist.

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    6. Good point, Frenchy but it's more like saying they don't believe in ice cream at all - and we can all clearly see ice cream. To me, a religion is a powerful and firmly held belief in something unseen. Since Atheists have no doubts about the nature of God (for which they have no proof) it sure smells like a firmly held religious belief to me. Agnostics, on the other hand just aren't sure.

      JZinFL

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    7. JZ in FL: careful there. Proof of a negative is a categorically different endeavor than proof of a positive. To describe a lack of faith in something for which there is no evidence as a 'belief', much less a 'strongly held belief', much less a 'religious' belief, really is stretching language further than language can go without breaking down.

      If someone is standing in an ice cream shop, in front of 27 buckets of different flavors of ice cream, and that person says I don't LIKE ice cream. And the next question is, okay, but which flavor is it that you don't like? That's hardly the same as that same person insisting, in the face of the 27 buckets, that ice cream does not exist.

      It is true that some atheists are evangelical about their certainty that no evidence whatever of supernatural supreme beings exists, and go round attempting to free other people of what they consider to be harmful and debilitating superstitions. And when they do so they sail pretty close, in many ways, to those other humans who go around trying to encourage those same superstitions. And they (the evangelical atheists) can get ugly and aggressive in their drive to 'free' people in a similar way to the religious evangelicals in their drive to 'bring people to their god'.

      But to describe the thinking both sets of pushy people are engaging in as 'belief', just doesn't work. Atheist don't 'believe' in the lack of supernatural supreme beings. Would you say that you have a firmly held religious belief in the nonexistence of Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny? I doubt it. Well it's exactly like that. Except fervent belief in the existence of Santa Clause and Easter Bunny doesn't seem to cause wars or suffering much, nor does it try to worm its way into the textbooks or the laws of the land, etc. So no one goes around aggressively trying to disabuse anyone deluded enough to actually believe Santa or E.B. is going to bring them presents or colored eggs.

      I'm all for people keeping their own notions of the supernatural to their own selves. But it makes a nonsense of language itself to confound atheism and religious belief, and if we make a nonsense of the language, then how the are we going to be able to talk about anything?

      Some of the above posts are from me.

      BB

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    8. JZ inFL
      Actually the christian bible says that their God is all-powerful, that nothing is impossible for him. That was proven to be inherently contradictory over a century ago. So yes, Atheists do have proof the christian god doesn't exist.

      Delete
    9. BB - Thanks for your thoughts on language. I'm not here to delve into the weeds on the definition of religion or the existence (or not) of Santa Clause, Jesus, Mohammed, the Easter Bunny or ice cream. Just saying that regardless of the degree of passion one has about the existence (or not) of "God" it's OK as long as they don't try to involve me - and politics does affect me because the job of politicians is to write the laws of the land and appoint the judges who interpret those laws.

      Jason - I would love to know how and by whom it was proven in the early 20th century that the all-powerful nature of God as claimed in the Christian Bible doesn't exist, thus giving absolute proof to Atheists that the Christian God doesn't exist. Really - I swear I missed that one in history class.

      JZinFL

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    10. JZ - Of course the root of the problem here is the evangelical imperative at the core of the two radical monotheisms that were born out nomad Semetic culture in the Middle East. The older monothesim, ie Judaism, out of which they both sprang was not evangelical at all. You were either of the tribe or excluded from the tribe. But then along come a bunch of pushy radicals who not only want to change the terms, and allow everyone in to the chosen sect, but soon they are out after killing anyone who wasn't keen to convert. A quick way to boost your attendance rates at Sunday Sermon no doubt, but the source of uncountable suffering and evil and misery ever since.

      "Evangelical Atheism" is not a force for that kind of action, it is clearly a reaction to the unceasing proselytizing, often backed by violence, of Christians and Muslims. I can't see too many atheists getting at all het up about pantheism of any flavor.

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  62. I'm tickled that so many people agree with you in the comments. I have to believe that you aren't being read by EVERYBODY who agrees, which would seem to mean that there are a whole bunch more who agree with you that we never hear from. I sure would like to see us all get together and start taking on some of the craziness you've been pointing out.

    You keep highlighting the areas ripe for improvement, and I'll keep pointing out your excellent writing. Thanks for being a rational voice in the vast sea of irrationality.

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  63. My ad was for the "Ultimate Sack." Just saying.

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  64. I always thought battles about different beliefs -- beliefs which are in our MINDS -- were like arguments over the color we see when we close our eyes . . . futile attempts at forced compliance -- the sole purpose of which is personal validation for the aggressor. The real irony is that the need for validation exposes the weakness of the belief.

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  65. Religion has another inherent problem too. Superstition isn't always harmless.

    e.g.

    "Fieldworkers from MSF and the Red Cross, who have been threatened and attacked, report that villagers often refuse to believe that Ebola exists, because all information is gleaned from local leaders and witchdoctors, who have had no proper briefing from government on the disease. "

    "Revivalist churches in Papua New Guinea are promoting prayer as a substitute for medication to those with HIV, according to human rights groups.

    PNG is a deeply Christian society, and most mainstream churches are trying to improve attitudes to those living with HIV.

    But with poor medical facilities and a widespread belief in sorcery, belief in faith healing is growing."

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  66. Jim, once again you have hit the nail on the head...what the fundies, and others of the extreme groups, never teach, nor remember, is the very first "Religious War"...or "When GOD put down an insurrection of Angels, led by, none other than, SATAN, the Enforcer of the Extremists"...The root of all evil in religion...

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  67. I really hear you on ALL fundamentalists.
    I was learning about/joining in with a group practicing Wicca in the early 80's. They tended to be very fundamental in their ceremonies and didn't want me to join in unless I was "sky clad" (naked). I have no problem with nudity, the temperature was in the mid 20's (Fahrenheit). Like I told them at the time, "If we are dealing with something that has a problem getting a message to or from us through our clothes maybe we should be looking for something a little stronger."

    But having swam through hundreds, if not thousands, of miles of kelp there is no denying there is some pattern to life. Nobody is out there planting and managing the kelp beds, making sure that the bass stay in the same places, the blacksmith perch, the smelt, the blennys all end up in the same pattern mile after mile. It's a mystery.
    I'll believe in a mystery. And it doesn't have to be solved.

    My ad wonders if I think student and faculty should be allowed to pray in public schools. Like getting through clothing, if your deity can't hear you without some display of your prayer (which limits where you can do it) then you should be looking for a more powerful deity.

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    1. As a Witch for almost half a century now, I fully agree with your comment about our "own" fundamentalists. Alas, I've yet to learn of any religion free from them, ours sadly included.

      But I'm very glad that the Craft doesn't deny science, nor evolution, and exceptionally glad that it absolutely forbids proselytizing. Nobody needs any more assholes ringing their doorbell than there already are. What kind of idiot expects that I'll change my most deeply held beliefs based on a 2 minute conversation on my doorstep with a complete stranger?

      We once had a sign for our house which was prominently displayed on our porch, where it could clearly be read from the street. It read: "ATTENTION EVANGELISTS! The people who live here are Witches. They are content with their ancient and honorable religion and do not wish to hear about yours. Neither does anyone else. Kindly shut the #*@& up and go back home." As could have been predicted, this sign had no effect whatever.

      So, now I'm back to my old standby- Evangelist comes to the door, I let our (very large) dog go apeshit inside the screen door for a bit then I tell the visitor that they have until I count to ten to be back off my property or I'm gonna let the dog out. Then, I tell them that I'm gonna count by fives. Sometimes they depart so fast they leave vapor trails. Word must have gotten out. We haven't had anyone proselytizing here in quite some time. Peace and quiet reign supreme.

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  68. At one time a person's religion was considered personal, a relationship between him or her and God/Jesus. But some time in the 1970s, churches began this huge push to "publicize" their beliefs with the idea of gaining converts. Those of us old enough should remember the many bumper stickers promoting this.

    Thank you, Jim. Your prose says what so many of us feel.

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  69. There is a great scene in Boyz in the Hood where the dad is at the beach with his son asking the youngster to repeat the basic rules he is trying to teach him. One of those rules is to never give respect to anyone who does not reciprocate that respect.

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  70. Holy jism, Jim. Kudos on another great essay. Like the new look.

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  71. Nice. To be short, if people want to believe in God, Zeus, Satan.. I Do Not Care. If that what gets you through the day than I'm happy for you. But, please... keep it to yourself. Oh, and grow a set. Christians, especially, seem to get the vapors when confronted with another belief system or, The Horror, a non-believer. Pussies.

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  72. Great comment. And so true!

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  73. Thank you Jim, Once again you are spot on. I have a Catholic friend who frequently puts me on the spot about not "believing". I keep telling her I never siad I didn't believe, I said I don't like organized religion. A book written by men, for men, translated hundreds (if not thousands) of times over thousands of years is at best dubious. The ten commandments are where I stop. Good enough for me.

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  74. Actually Perry does NOT have the right to tell Texans to pray to his god. He did so as the governor, a government position and using government power, and not as a private citizen. That's a violation of the non-establishment clause of the US Constitution.

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  75. Love it! Let the choir say Amen!

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  76. Ramen!

    Jim, you have summed up exactly how this agnostic feels too. I don't know if there is a god or not and I have friends on both sides of the religious / atheist divide but I do know I detest what the followers of some religions so hypocritically and hatefully do supposedly in the names of peaceful, forgiving compassionate supernatural deities.

    BTW. I thought you were going for an old crude joke at the start here : Why is the Bible like a penis?

    A: They both get shoved down your throat by a priest!

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    1. I laughed, StevoR. I know I shouldn't have, but I did. Still chuckling. *Blushes*

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  77. my thoughts..

    religion is for people arfiad of going to hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there

    well said Mr Wright, well said <3

    grim_chickn

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  78. Valerie DeBenedette
    To me the Jesuits were always the Vatican's shock troops; always the first in to proselytize to the "heathens." This is in no way a knock on them for it is the Jesuits as a group who tend to be worldly, highly educated, and leaders. Most papal nuncios (ambassadors) are jesuit trained: a great many of them are scientists of the first rank. I am thinking of LeMatre here.

    whitelilly

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  79. "This is a defining criteria with me."

    The most minor of nits in yet another outstanding column: Criterion is the singular of criteria.

    Anon so far, but a big fan.

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  80. Am I reading your words on http://crooksandliars.com/2014/08/john-boehners-monster-how-irrational ? I kept looking for quotes or an acknowledgement, but no. Please tell me I am wrong!

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    1. It's okay. That's a syndicated feed from AATTP. AATTP has my permission to publish my material.


      Thanks for looking out for me though, I appreciate it // Jim

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  81. Many people misuse the term "agnostic".

    Gnostic/Agnostic addresses "can it be known?" Theist or Atheist addresses whether a person accepts the proposition that a deity (or deities) exists.

    If you don't say "yes" when asked "do you accept the existence of diety X?" then you are an atheist in re that particular deity. I don't see the answer "I don't know" as being a yes, agnostic is not some position in the middle ground.

    A person can be an agnostic theist (I can't know if the deity exists but I accept that it does) just as another person might be a gnostic atheist (I do know the deity doesn't exist and therefore I don't accept that it exists). The same is true for gnostic theists and agnostic atheists. The vast majority of atheists I know fall into the latter camp, as they accept that there is some ever-so-faint chance that a given deity might be lurking somewhere in the universe but in the absence of any evidence to believe it exists there's no reason to not provisionally determine that it doesn't.

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  82. Whoa, Jim, baby, bubala, Look, leave me out of this. This is between you humans and those 3 guys over there arguing about who came first, who killed whose son, and how they got that chick to claim she was a virgin when she clearly was well known around the manger, wink wink, nudge nudge.

    I'm just sitting down here in the deep waiting for the stars to be right, Dreaming.

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  83. My husband uses the phrase 'slamming your dick on the Bible.' I find in my email this morning I'm being 'followed' on Disqus by Soldiers Sanctuary Lightfighters and their God, Guns, and Guts forum. Should I be concerned, Jim?

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  84. My faith demands much of me. It asks nothing of you.

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  85. I love seeing many of these words come from someone else. I am glad I have had the pleasure of reading this entry!!!!

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  86. Well written and expresses my own view on it so very perfectly!

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