Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
Christopher Hitchens, Archbishop John Onaiyekan, Stephen Fry and Anne Widdencombe, and mix?
It's the "Intelligence Squared" debate, which was held before a live audience in London this past weekend.
It's quite good, actually - and worth watching the whole thing. All four participants do a good job in presenting their position on whether or not the Catholic Church is a "force for good in the world."
What I found was telling was that at the start of the program, a survey was taken of the audience. About 35% said that the Church was a force for good, 55% said that it wasn't, and the rest were undecided. After the debate was over, the numbers were 13% yes, 86% no, with just a handful still undecided.
. . . about how advertising your Love Canal home as Now 3% Less Toxic isn't going to send the right message to potential buyers:
Apparently the Vatican has finally decided that the best defense is a good offense. According to a bellicose statement issued Monday, the Catholic Church doesn't have a paedophilia problem, it has an ephebophilia problem, thankyouverymuch. Plus this:
The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that "available research" showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.
He also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.
Only 1.5-5%! Not bad! And anyway, Protestants and Jews are doing it too. So there.
In spite of what a lot of believers think, I am not actually allergic to going into a church from time to time. Which, when you think of it, should actually be considered some kind of proof that God does not exist, since I haven't been struck down by lightning or anything on these occasions. But anyway, I'll go into a church for weddings and funerals, for public events, even just to enjoy the architecture and artwork.
Now I've found a new and much better reason, however: beer.
Yup, I have seen the light at The Church Brew Works. From their website:
By far, the most breathtaking element is the position of the brew house on the altar. Because the altar was built as a centerpiece of the church, the steel and copper tanks gleaming in the celestial blue backdrop is nothing less than captivating. This extraordinary view is only paralleled by the quality and taste of our beer.
Amen, Brothers & Sisters! Amen!
Too damned bad it is in Pittsburgh. Or I'd be a regular church-going fella.
Well, I suppose I should have, since I was 'raised Catholic' and grew up listening to (and loving) The Beatles:
A book by Joseph Niezgoda - The Lennon Prophecy, A New Examination of the Death Clues of the Beatles - makes a good case for John Lennon making a pact with Satan in exchange for fame and fortune. The author is a first generation Beatle fan, has read every book out on the rock group, and admits conflict with his love of the music and the evil that he perceives surrounds it. His book - a 15-year project - was an effort, he said, to try to define or make sense of that evil.
In fact, this is the book I was always planning to write about the Beatles. Since I threw out my Beatles albums along with the rest of my rock music many years ago, I've been gathering facts about the clues and signs of a Satanic link, evidence of camaraderie with occultists and their dabbling with the occult. Believe me, plenty exists.
Man, it just gets better from there.
You would think that most would say that the proposed blasphemy law in Ireland is a bad idea.
Well, you would be wrong.
[link] In the interests of rationality and common sense, the legislation should go further and label atheism a thought crime.
Well, this will probably come as no news to most of the people here:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.
More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified -- more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.
Sully, of course, is shocked that his co-religionists are less moral than us heathens:
A couple of weeks ago, someone at the Vatican really stuck it to the atheists and their little bus campaign, and the wound still stings. Per Reuters, under the headline "Advertising Drive for Atheism Is Mocked":
“We should almost thank the people who promoted that advertising campaign. It has served God’s cause more than so many of our apologetic arguments,” said the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa . . . "It has demonstrated the poverty of their reasons and has helped stir so many sleeping consciences."
Gah! What a wound is this!
[*Performs melodramatic, gasping death scene*]
But seriously, this is a little bit sad when you consider that even this representative of the HQ of the Catholic Church has to admit that a bus ad about nonbelief does a better job of "serving God's purposes" than his own institution.
I just want to point you folks to a new newsweek article. I read it and was a little blown away by the middle ground that the article takes.
*** edited to add. I think this is a good article and positive press for non-theists.
You can see it here.
Well, it's been fun, everyone. But after carefully considering the content of this vid, I have decided that I can no longer continue to write blasphemy nor to deny what my heart tells me: that I am missing a Jesus-shaped piece of myself.
So, adios. I am returning to the faith of my childhood, and even considering becoming a lay-preacher for the true church.
I will pray for all of you.
Here's another in an ongoing series! Robert Heinlein first made me aware of this verse in his book Stranger in a Stranger Land. Here's the verse: 2 Kings 2:23-25.
2:23 He went up from there to Bethel. As he was traveling up the road, some young boys came out of the city and made fun of him, saying, “Go on up, baldy! Go on up, baldy!” 24 When he turned around and saw them, he called God’s judgment down on them. Two female bears came out of the woods and ripped forty-two of the boys to pieces. 25 From there he traveled to Mount Carmel and then back to Samaria.
So...yeah. This has to be a tough verse for Christians. Frankly, this has to be a tough verse for Jews too. It's a little redundant but let me recap.
1. Kids make fun of bald guy (who happens to be a prophet of "God")
2. Kids get killed by bears sent by "God".
Fun! (more below the fold)
Well, the economic downturn is deeper and more widespread than other recent recessions have been. The stalwart defenders of morality have shown to be inept, perverted, and corrupt themselves. The GOP is being turned into a small regional party of little consequence. And more Americans than ever now say that they are not religious.
Little wonder that the religious are feeling a bit threatened, eh? You can see it from the rather subdued and pathetic troll who showed up here recently, to an uptick in violent threats that PZ has been getting, to actual violence:
I'm not going to reference an article today. Today I'm going to give an example of where theists go wrong. We have a small discussion group at work. One of the topics given today was something in the news that I hadn't read and still haven't read. The topic discussed memories from being reincarnated. One of my coworkers brought up the topic after having read something online. The coworker gave the headline which was something along the lines of, "Study shows evidence of former life memories gives credence to past life experiences!" (w/ a reference to reincarnation which I can't recall at this point, sorry)
Keep in mind, I haven't read either the article or the study. My coworker brings up this article and immediately afterward another coworker exclaims, "And you say you don't believe in God."
My immediate reply afterward was, "What? Why would you bring God into this?"
The coworker was incredulous. He wondered why an atheist would reference an article which gave the idea that reincarnation was possible.
If you had any doubt about Kathryn Jean Lopez, the editor of the National Review Online, then read her current column at the National Catholic Register. It's pure, unadulterated revisionism with a side order of theocracy thrown in for good measure:
We’re a nation not just where you are free to believe or not to believe; we’re a nation founded for Him — so we could praise Him, so we could do His will. Warren began his prayer as a gentle reminder to those privileged with seats and every Joe sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial:
“Almighty God — our Father. Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory.”
After a morning of “Obama!” chants, I would have loved to hear some of the crowd — or the president-to-be — join Warren in praying the Lord’s Prayer.
. . . I'd opt for the naked women, as well:
ROME (Reuters) – Italian atheists have lost a bid to run "no God" advertisements on city buses after strong opposition from conservative political parties, a member of the group said on Saturday.
The ads reading "The bad news is that God doesn't exist. The good news is that you don't need him" were to have been put on buses in the northern city of Genoa, home to the Catholic cardinal who is head of the Italian Bishops Conference.
* * *
"Right-wing politicians criticized us ferociously," Villella said by telephone from the group's base, adding that at least one bus driver in Genoa said he would refuse to drive a "no God" bus.
"It's strange that in a country where ads depicting near-naked women wearing skimpy lingerie is permitted on buses that we can't run ads about atheism," Villella said.
HT to ML - thanks!
[link] Church removes 'scary crucifix'
A large sculpture of Christ on the cross has been removed from outside a church in West Sussex after its vicar said it was "scaring young children".
The Reverend Ewen Souter said the 10ft crucifix was "a horrifying depiction of pain and suffering" which was also "putting people off".
Heh. Ya think Reverend?
So, I went to a funeral the other day.
It was a nice funeral, as funerals go, but it was a decidedly Catholic funeral. You see, Mrs. Inscrutable and I did the flowers for the funeral. My brother's wife's mother died way too young, and we were only happy to put together a wonderful flower arrangement for the family. We asked if they wanted us to stay for the service, and they said it was okay to leave after dropping off the flowers, but we thought that it would be nice if we stuck around and offered some moral support for my brother, his wife, and her family.
Can you say "uncomfortable"?
The priest - "Father Joe", had a high-pitched, whiny voice, which he acknowledged right up front, and had a tendency to repeat himself, to make his points. He insisted on calling the deceased "mom" and "grandma". Over and over. "Mom, and grandma, would have said...", would have wanted, would have been, etc. All I could think was, "didn't this guy have the decency to actually get to know the deceased and her family a bit before spouting off about her "wants" and "needs"? He also sang. In latin. Acapella.
From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way: leaders like President Kennedy, who inspired us to push the boundaries of the known world and achieve the impossible; leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process.
Because the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States – and I could not have a better team to guide me in this work.
Compare that to the mindset we've put up with from the Bush administration, the latest round of which was announced yesterday:
We in the atheist community often hear the phrase, "Why are you attacking Christianity? Why not go after Islam?" The reason, as has been stated many times before, is that in America, Christianity is the dominant religion and our public and private lives are dominated by its practice. This series, as long as it lasts, will go through some of the things in the Christian Bible that bother me.
We start with Jesus and the Pigs. Mark 5 verses 1-20. Here's the relevant text from the NIV (New International Version)(more below the fold):
Here's a little bit of fun to get myself started again. Some classic stained glass:
|From My Pictures|
tip o' the hat to KW
Man, I loves me some Ladyhawke. How can you not? It's got Rutger Hauer. He's got a big damn sword. And a Friesian. There's Michelle Pfeiffer. The fighting is way above average for 1980s movies. The armour, clothing, and even music (no, not the Alan Parsons score, though that ain't bad) is fairly authentic for the roughly 13th-century time period. And real medieval armour from that time period make just that exact same creaking sound as does his - a nice and subtle touch that most people wouldn't think of getting right.
And it's got the perfect mystical, religious mindset for the Middle Ages.
Seriously, watch it. All the talk of "God's Will" and curses, all the prayers, all excuses for and to God, all the mystical mumbo-jumbo, is perfect.
And, sadly, all of it sounds entirely too much like the insanity that we constantly hear from the faithful these days.