Sunday, December 14, 2014

God's Divine Word or Subjective Interpretation?

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We live in a world that adheres to many different dogmas. Within just the Christian sect, there are tens of thousands of variations on that central theme. This fact alone has started many down the path of rubbing their index finger on their jawline, scrunching up their mouths, arching the left eyebrow, and ultimately discarding religion all together because well... it makes sense to.
ReligionAdherents
Christianity[4]2.2 billion
Islam1.6 billion
Secular[a]/Nonreligious[b]/Agnostic/Atheist≤ 1.1 billion
Hinduismbillion
Chinese traditional religion[c]394 million
Buddhism376 million
Ethnic religions excluding some in separate categories300 million
African traditional religions100 million
Sikhism23 million
Juche[d]19 million
Spiritism15 million
Judaism14 million
Bahá'í7 million
Jainism4.2 million
Shinto4 million
Cao Dai4 million
Zoroastrianism2.6 million
Tenrikyo2 million
Neo-Paganism1 million
Unitarian Universalism800,000
Rastafarianism600,000
Size of Major Religious Groups, 2012
ReligionPercent
Christianity
  
31.5%
Muslim
  
23.2%
Unaffiliated
  
16.3%
Hindu
  
15.0%
Buddhist *
  
7.1%
Folk
  
5.9%
Other
  
0.8%
Jewish
  
0.2%
Pew Research Center, 2012[2]

And yet still, this is not a red flag to the true believers. Why the hell not?

The word divine means that it is 'of god', right? To me, that means what is being handed down is truly his divine word and there would only be one message, not a gazillion different ways of looking at things. For this very reason, having numerous, in my opinion - subjective interpretations - means that these religions are not imbued with his divine word, but rather all the different religions are man-made because every off-shoot has been tailored according to the one who initially heralded it. There seems to be no other take-away from this.

Not one person of faith has been able to detail to me how my thought process about this issue could be any different than what I've resolved in my head. My initial assumption is that religions (all) are basically just created to appease an individual's ideal about what religion means to them. They wear what feels right for them and then encourage others to follow their ideals. If they're lucky, it's popular and it grows. If not, it falls by the wayside and dies out.

Luckily, people with a natural bent towards the supernatural have so many to choose from that if they get bored with what they were indoctrinated with or the religion doesn't meet their needs anymore, they can switch and try on another more to their current liking.

For us non-believers we'll continue to just pick apart the illogical and continue to point out what so richly deserves to the criticized.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Kids Will Believe Anything, It's Exactly Why Indoctrination Starts At Birth

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Children believe shit... period. Especially from people they trust - teachers, parents, friends - although the order of trust may be different. I'm not shocked, having two of my own that swallowed things hook, line and sinker at not so crucial times.

Imagine my chuckles when a teacher came into my job and described how students in her class were mistakenly led to believe she had 'eyes in the back of her head' when she could detail actions of her students doing things without her directly looking at them, and then would chastise them when her head was turned the other way for things 'she couldn't have possibly seen!' It scared them into thinking she did indeed have that super power! The children, being as naive as they probably would be at that age, didn't realize she had the benefit of a reflection of a window or mirror at her disposal. Obviously, she never shared that little detail with them while they were squirming or later when she could have come clean.

Hearing her laugh about what kids would ultimately believe from people whom they trusted is what lead me to this thought... Kids truly do believe anything, and this is the very reason why indoctrination takes place from the time they are born. The sooner they are fed stories about a parent's belief system, the sooner they will emulate what they have been taught. The intention of the parents may be to ensure their place in Heaven, but the exercise of not thinking for themselves is grounded in what the institution of religion wants and always has wanted... to take center stage no matter what, the individual be damned. There is no such thing as autonomy, it's only about what the collective wants so let the assimilation begin... as soon as they are born.

It's not just about what they believe, but it's about continuing the retelling of the same stories... over and over again. It just makes it harder for the kids to confront the belief system or ultimately ask the relevant questions when it's continually forced down their throats, that's why it's called indoctrination. It's a systematic process and it's one that is reinforced by Bible School, church on Wednesdays and Sundays (or whenever the specific denomination meets) and those supreme holidays like Christmas and Ash Wednesday, or whichever high holy days that specific religion or church decrees.

Ironically, the teacher I mention is religious and she can't see how the misleading of young children contributes to the cycle of indoctrination she condones, even though she would readily admit in this instance she is a participant in lying to her students. If only people (like her, and all) would truly reevaluate the things they engage in. If only they understood the impact of their actions. It actually would positively affect their small bubble of influence if only they would tailor their behavior and actions to reality, and thereby the rest that, by chance, came in contact with it.

Hmmm...I wish.

Friday, November 7, 2014

God Was Created In The Land Of Brown People


One Nation Under Nothing

We all know that most, if not all, of today's religions evolved from ancient belief systems. Judaism began in Babylonia. Christianity started in Judea (present-day Israel). The religion of Islam began in Mecca. But all of the them started in that region we call the Middle East today.

Yes, Christianity, the current version of the most popular religion in this country was formulated and brought, eventually, to us white people by a part of the world where the skin color of its people was a darker shade than ours.

This raises two questions for me. Number one - how are we still such a nation of bigots when those bigots claim a religion that comes from this part of the world where the people are darker and number two - how can you even believe that god's intention was to make the US great when he wouldn't have had a clue that's where it would eventually spread to? But I'm sure there will be believers saying... Of course he knew! He's god! So I guess never mind that question.

Being a modern day citizen of the United States, I'm scratching my head and wondering how some of today's Christians who are true bigots can still hold fast to the notion that this country is a Christian Nation when they can't even understand that it really didn't start here and the man they cling to for their salvation was allegedly a brown boy. And especially when they can't even identify with people of those nations today! You know, those people in the Middle East who identify primarily as Muslims!

I've said it before a thousand times and I'll say it again... religion is the most ridiculous invention in the history of humanity. Contradictions, crazy ideas and justifications, and just plain dumb thinking about it... I just wish it would stop. Now. Forever.

Yeah.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

There's A Rainbow In Kansas!!!

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Well, it's in Johnson County for now, but things could be changing in a big way for the rest of Kansas, and hopefully soon!

I know that many of my friends in Kansas are ecstatic about the possibility of our state granting equal rights to the LGBT community, me included. It's been an issue that should have been resolved years ago.

Naturally, our Governor Brownback had this to say:


"I swore an oath to support the Constitution of the State of Kansas. An overwhelming majority of Kansas voters amended the Constitution to include a definition of marriage as one man and one woman. Activist judges should not overrule the people of Kansas."

Upholding the constitution is a requirement, sure. I'll give him that. Having said that though, what is his reason for denying schools the funding that is guaranteed by the Kansas Constitution?

Hypocrite! He's picking and choosing what to get behind based on his ideology, plain and simple.

Tell Brownback with your vote in November that enough is enough with his antiquated and failing conservative, slimy politics. Make sure he gets the message loud and clear!

Fundamentalist governors should not overrule the people of Kansas.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Killing Anonymously





And I'm just asking myself.... why?

The answer seems to be they just want to be able to jump over regulation and do as they please. Isn't that what any reasonable person gets from this article? 

One of the things that sets us apart from the uncivilized is that we are above-board, upfront and state our intentions. This does nothing but say we want to be anonymous, behind the scenes and not let anyone know what we are up to... in other words, "I want to just do whatever the fuck I want to!"

I can't see this end any other way but badly. We will have victims of gun violence who won't be able to trace back to anyone because there are no records of gun ownership. And law enforcement won't be able to say to a potential law-breaker "Hey, can I get that registered gun to match to ballistics from a crime scene?" because they won't even know where to start! Printed guns that are not registered will not even be on anyone's radar to investigate! Yay! Criminals get another free pass! Really... how stupid is that?!?!

I'm not happy knowing that we do one more thing that just basically makes us more uncivilized than we were previously.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

SCOTUS Rules The Wrong Way Again


So there you have it, religion now gets to make health care decisions. Just one more chipping away at established law to appease the religious right. Just like the picture says - it is INJUSTICE and it's against women, and yes, they act like gods among us; the ones who are playing the part by making incredibly life-altering decisions with women's health care decisions.

With the recent ruling of the five scrotum... er, five old white guys of the SCOTUS, it's outrageous that now the belief system of the religious right, Christianity, seems to trump the belief system all others. What does SCOTUS not seem to understand about the concept of equal protection under the law in our country? I still believe every person has the right to express their beliefs, but seriously, to now be governed by the belief system of one religion? I don't think the justices got it right this time.

This fight being waged against women by Hobby Lobby, along with 100 other companies, and receiving the blessing of the Supreme Court Justices, shows us that they don't give a shit about religious freedom. They want their belief system to dominate this country. Don't you know by now that Christianists have all the answers and should make all the rules? Because of course - they have that book that tells them so. Argh...

These past three days my blood pressure has been elevated when I think how much we are still fighting about, and what we are losing by the decisions being made in this country with respect to women and their rights. Today's woman and the future generations of women have to struggle even more now to regain what should have been guaranteed during all our lifetimes; equality, that which has eluded us for too long.

The only positive I see coming from this ruling is that women (and men) will be more united to stand against those who would continue to undermine the rights of women, and bring with it a conscious shift leading to more thoughtful and reasonable legislation. We've always had activists who fought the good fight and brought us farther than those before them, but this current level of anger, agitation, and passion created in the minds and hearts of much of our citizenry after the ruling... well, it is palpable. Social media is exploding - both sides of the issue - but it would seem the motivation for more progressive change has the stronger voice. The justices have managed to set in motion something I hadn't seen in a long time, and for that I'm glad. Who knew that Hobby Lobby would be the straw that finally broke the camel's back!

Two things are at stake here - the equality of women and complete separation of church and state. My hope is that these issues will finally be resolved in my lifetime.

This is only the beginning of one hell of a fight. Buckle in, it might get worse before it gets better. But let us not be mistaken, this is a fight we must have and finish. It speaks to the core of what is wrong in our country and across the world where women are being oppressed, mistreated and/or marginalized for their sex. And religion is at the heart of it. It is what propagates the discrimination and the oppression that exists in this world. 

And it needs to stop... NOW!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Faith Explained

"I'm waiting..."
Choosing to have faith means you think this life endured so far is not as good as what's being dangled in front of you. And of course that your expectation will translate into the right choice.

Oh, and it makes you feel warm and fuzzy.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Can't.Have.Sex.Toys.

... as of right now. Yes, the city of Sandy Springs, GA has decided you can't have any. Guess I'll not be moving to Sandy Springs any time soon.

Who in the hell are these people and what in the hell are they thinking when they interject themselves into people's sex lives? Small government at its finest... NOT!

My pleasure and how I go about getting it (unless it actually would harm someone else) is NONE OF YOUR CONCERN!!! What do these flakes not get about private matters?!?

Keep your fingers crossed ladies and gentleman who are supporters of sex toys in the hands of the humans who desire them. We're hoping to find out later this month whether the Sandy Springs ordinance will be struck down as unconstitutional or not. They seem ripe for ridicule if they keep this one on the books. But hopefully it will also be struck down because obviously - what I want to introduce into my sex life is none of your business, assholes!

Let's hope that common sense and reason will prevail, and this prudish ordinance is kicked to the curb. But I'm not going to hold my breath. It would seem the stupid is strong with this city for this ordinance to have been introduced to begin with.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

I Support Open-Carry Hugs

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We've all seen the images or personally encountered people in real-life who are advocates of open-carry proudly showing us their weapons. As a person who doesn't particularly like guns, all I can try to do is understand what would motivate someone to want to be that person. And don't get me wrong, I'm not against the legal ownership of guns should citizens choose to exercise that right. But I wouldn't object if one day this country decided all guns should no longer exist here, nor would I complain if they were eliminated around the world.

What I often reflect on is the motivation and intention of those who advocate for open-carry laws. Especially when I listen to the enthusiasm with which they exclaim that right prior to and directly after getting those laws in place enabling them to finally do so. 

I consistently hear that the right to protect one's self is the biggest reason, and I would support that thought process as we do have a second amendment right to keep and bear arms. However, I would also think the desire to own guns for protection (whether one or an arsenal) and/or open-carry is motivated by fear, specifically being fearful of the intention of others. In other words, gun owners seem suspicious and not trusting; like they are thinking "someone, anyone whose actions at any time could or will potentially hurt me, so I must be prepared."

We all feel that way from time to time because we have encountered something that made us experience that emotion, but in open-carry situations it seems that is the mindset all day long. Smacks of paranoia to me if gun owners think everyone is potentially out to get them. On the outside they might say that's not true, but they are expecting something to happen otherwise why would they feel the need to be cloaked in a manner that will protect them 24/7? I guess someone needs to explain that to me if I've interpreted that incorrectly.

Living in this world, I see all the vile behaviors whether on the news, or in print and social media. Gun owners, and especially open-carry advocates, would tout this as a reason to have the right to protect themselves. Having personally encountered some unsavory situations in my past  - one when our home was broken into when I was a teenager, and another when an unwelcome visitor made an appearance in my apartment in the middle of the night when I was a young mother - I get that someone would want to have something at their disposal that could potentially protect them during acts of criminality. Luckily no one was hurt, us or the perpetrators, and no guns were involved in either situation. Both were frightening experiences, but I think they would have been made even more stressful had guns been present. Self-preservation is a factor in wanting protection, but I'm not sure that guns would have provided me with the outcome I was hoping for had I been in possession of a gun. Just as I would not like to end up with a bullet hole, neither do I want to inflict that kind of damage to another human being, even if that person was trying to hurt me. Also, data tends tell us that if a gun is in the home, the risks of violence and/or suicide increases. So, adding a potential threat, even if no other criminal action enters into my residence, tells me that guns really have no place in my life.

But I guess what I always keep coming back to is that mindset of paranoia. I remember how I felt after those incidents, and they weren't pleasant. I was fearful and I was anxious, but I still didn't want to go out and buy a gun. Maybe it would have empowered me in that moment. I'm sure that many, if not most, gun advocates would say "exactly!" and that's the point they've been trying to make all along. It's not about paranoia, but being in control rather than being at the mercy of another and their indecent intentions. It's as if they legitimize their strength (paranoia) because a gun makes them feel invincible. Maybe not to the point where they would go around pistol-whipping complete innocents, but still they scrutinize and assess any situation as potentially threatening while being rational about their paranoia. Otherwise, why carry a gun to begin with? I know I can't speak for others, only myself, but open-carry still suggests to me there is a certain amount of paranoia. 

Paranoia is a form of fear, and fear can create panic. When you have anxiety about something it is sometimes difficult to think rationally in a situation that should actually require it in order to remain calm and ensure your safety. An anxiety-filled situation can leave you with no desire to think positively about the person in this situation that you believe will do you harm. It is quite understandable. One hopes that would only be in a life-threatening situation and one where you think someone is truly out to get you.

Imagine a nation, hell a world, where the opposite of that mindset existed! They actually have a word for that state of mind - pronoia, enjoying the feeling that the world around them conspires to do them good. What if we all went around expecting we were going to be treated right by others? Just wow. The deep-feeling, empathetic human in me is experiencing thrills as I picture this. How could we not want to feel like this always? The imagery would obviously not include guns because living in a world where you know everyone has your back wouldn't require guns or the fear they instill. We would have nothing to be fearful about as no one desires anything but the best for us.

So, I'll start. I have an arsenal and it's called my arms. I'm prepared to use them at the appropriate time. It'll be my mission to see that sad people are to be comforted and uplifted, happy people would experience one more bonus of good fortune in their day, hurried people would slow down and enjoy the humanity. People with an aversion to touch, please wear signs. What I think is appropriate, you may not! But small problem considering this world would be a better place, and certainly the more loving place that we always talk about wanting.

I propose that what would help to change the current mindset in this country is for people to want to think well of others rather than believe other's intentions are only about hurting them. Because in reality, it's not just gun owners in favor of open-carry who feel this way, it's many others who don't own guns who have a chip on their shoulder about people who are out to get them. Of course, we know there are bad people out there, but let's not have fear or paranoia claim there are more out there on the wrong side than there are good ones.

What sends a more powerful positive message to the people around you - a warm embrace and smiles or guns at the hip ready to discharge? Would you rather be on the receiving end of a hug or a bullet? Because really, that's what it boils down to emotionally - someone either suspects an imminent commission of crime out of you or they think you are worthy of their humanity. Which mindset would you prefer?

I support open-carry hugs and less paranoia.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I Learned The Hard Way - Spanking Is Wrong


I'm fifty-one years old and still remember the spankings I received as a child. Back then it was normal for parents to reach out and touch their children when they misbehaved. Now it's a big debate, hopefully one that will end soon and with us coming away with a better understanding of how to be more humane towards our children.

Yesterday I had a lengthy email exchange with a friend who advocates for spanking. My impression (after many conversations about her world-view) is that her religion teaches her it's in the best interest of the child, so naturally it's something to support and also, not something to question. Because if god says it, then it must be true. Knowing me, that alone is worth challenging, but it went deeper than that this time. Spanking affected not only me growing up, but in turn, my children as well. It was a hard parenting lesson, but certainly one worth learning how to do different.

What sparked this whole conversation, and also what prompted my responses during this email exchange, was her insistence that spanking was the right thing to do when it was necessary. She believed that the writer of the piece didn't have the correct take-away from her endured spankings. In other words, the spankers in the writer's case weren't spanking in the right fashion for her to receive the valuable and appropriate message. Obviously! And since that was the case, it invalidated the writer's thoughts that spanking was wrong. Having had a similar experience growing up and being a parent who passed on what I had been taught (although not to the degree I experienced at the hands of my mother), this piece struck a similar chord in me. The writer was entitled to her opinion (how gracious of you email exchange person), but like what was being assigned to the writer, I was feeling the burn of "Opinions are like assholes, everyone's got them" slap across my face with her comments. Only she had all the answers, and apparently hers are the only right ones. I guess she doesn't understand that the word opinion would also apply to her.

I'm not proud to admit I spanked my kids on more than just a few occasions. Even having been 'educated' that way myself, thinking this is what I was supposed to do to my own children, it never felt good to do this to them. I cringe and I cry when I look back on the moments in their childhood when they were on the receiving end of spankings for something I felt warranted that type of punishment. It didn't happen very often, but when it did I felt like I had died just a little. Still to this day I wrestle with the guilt of inflicting pain on my children. They have since told me that they don't remember much or have any hard feelings knowing that it happened, but my shame lingers still, even with their reassurances.

Writing this now, I'm still struggling with my emotions and my own memories of those moments. It kills me that I could ever have hurt my children when they were misbehaving. In those moments I felt justified somehow that I should spank them as they were the ones who created the situations that were getting out of control; my job was to halt their inappropriate behavior by any means necessary. Spanking was swift, usually worked immediately with them and allowed me to vent my anger in the heat of the moment. Many parents won't admit their anger is usually in charge, but it's true. Even when they say 'last resort measure', it's because the child has pushed the parent to a certain threshold that's not to be crossed. Controlled anger and controlled punishment still means emotions have been tested and pushed to the limit. The response is still the same, too - violence inflicted against your child.

Spanking is the intentional infliction of pain, emotional and/or physical. Whether it be a swat on a clothed bottom or the extreme of whipping with a belt or any other object that leaves red welts, bruises or deep cuts. It is an assault on the body of a being who is smaller, more vulnerable and in no position to fight back. And it undermines the supposed connection and relationship you have with the little person who is entrusted to your care, the one you chose to love.

We are sending the message that sometimes love hurts and it's the child's fault. Really? That's what love is supposed to mean to them? We may think they understand this punishment is to convey a consequence of inappropriate behavior, but the take-away is really that the person who loves them is also the one hurting them. How do we ever square that in our heads as it's happening? I know I couldn't and it's ultimately what made me rethink the whole issue of spanking. I figured out that it was never in the best interest of my child to harm them physically, make them fearful of me or feel humiliated in any way. I just wish that I would have thoughtfully decided that before I ever laid a hand on them in the first place.

Some would say that if it's done out of love and to teach actions have consequences; they will learn and won't do that bad behavior again. That's the gist of many conversations I've endured about spanking with religious types. But that's my point, the motivation and the lies they are taught that it's done out of love aren't true! The good book is allegedly divinely inspired by a supernatural being who wants to be the one in charge and in control of his followers using fear, intimidation and force. It's just teaching followers that same set-up in their own homes is appropriate, so now they become just like the one they worship... a control freak who has to have it his way or there will be insufferable consequences. The message being - IT really loves you when IT must use these techniques to keep you in line - so it is with believers when they use these tactics in their 'loving' family environment. They are perpetuating a model of submission through fear and control, and calling it love. How screwed up is that? Very screwed up in my book, and I'm incredibly sad for my kids and myself that I ever considered this part of my job called parenting.

I'm human and, still to this day, don't always end up doing the right things all the time. It is a struggle to choose carefully and thoughtfully how I navigate through this life and in the lives of others. The one thing I've learned in this short life is that whether it be towards people (little and big) or animals, loving means one needs to act loving. Always ask yourself "What Would A Loving Person Do?" I'm pretty sure a thoughtfully reasoned answer wouldn't be - "let me strike my child/another adult/this animal." At least I hope it won't be.

Imagine a world where the consequences aren't pain, but rather understanding that problems created by our actions should and can be resolved without violence, control or fear. Love means choosing to be kind. Spanking is not kind, it's a tactic that is the opposite of being loving. It hurts, it wounds and it teaches our children how to feel scared of their parents, to be isolated in their pain and it damages their personhood.

And it needs to stop. Now.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hi-Jacking Lucky


Recently, while preparing some marketing materials for a friend, I was asked to remove the word lucky from a flyer because it has an evil connotation. Lucky is short from Lucifer, she said. I was taken aback because I had never heard that before, but I made the changes as requested; she's the client and gets whatever she wants.

I did, however, look into this whole lucky thing and...

Sue Bohlin of Probe Ministries tells us that "There's nothing there about Lucifer. What you heard is something someone made up, and there's nothing to it.

Ah, it's been debunked and it's from someone in the religious community! Just kidding. What she actually insisted was the definition of luck was listed incorrectly. Yes, she's saying the dictionary people got it wrong! Digging further, she is even dismissing the etymology of the word with her statements. All the followers who hang on her every word without verifying any information are also dismissing the truth. Just shameful.

Another odd bit from her post, "From a Christian worldview, there IS no such thing as luck, because God is in control of everything. There's such a thing as blessing, but not luck. God is in control; Satan is not. "

This now explains why the good stuff that happens in their lives is only from god and the bad bits are satan originated! Oh wait a minute, she just said god is in control of everything! Doesn't that mean everything? AND she backs it up with "satan is not" in control, thereby reinforcing that god is in control of everything. Sue, I don't think you know what the word everything means!!

Just like you don't know what the word lucky means.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter IS Confusing!

black-frames.net

Believers - this is your Easter test. Non-believers - another opportunity to add to your repertoire of evidence.

In Godless, Dan Barker asks you simply to tell him what happened on this day we call Easter. Yes, do tell us the particulars on how it became known as the high holy day of Christianity.

Here's what you need to do. "Please go to and read Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21, Acts 1:3-12 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. Then, without omitting a single detail from these separate accounts, write a simple, chronological narrative of the events between the resurrection and the ascension; what happened first, second and so on; who said what and when, and where these things happened."

Or how I would say it - just read everything and then tell me why there are so many damn contradictions. The bible is the truth and nothing but the truth because it's god-inspired. Yeah... NOT!

ZOMBIE! Real Horror Rock!'s Page

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SCOTUS - Delivered Exactly What The Plutocracy Wanted... Again



Andy Borowitz may have posted satire, but his commentary was spot on in the sense this is exactly what the court's recent decision does to this country.

Will this latest ruling of the SCOTUS instill citizens to realize that their vote means more now than ever? Oh, please let common sense and reasonable actions finally rule! The people who think they have the right to own the politicians by what they give them need to hear the citizenry refuses to be ruled by their money.

I sure do hope Bernie is right. This plutocracy needs to end and the sooner, the better.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"The Killing" - Not Recommended For Believers


Its characters are skeptical, reasonable, logical and scientific, also possessing a tenaciousness and unrelenting desire to find the truth. Those who watch this show and thoroughly enjoy it understand that they have happened upon a rather intelligent show. The nastiness of life aside, it is thrilling and entertaining, even joyful actually, to witness their detective work while they emulate these wonderful characteristics.

From beginning to the very last conclusion, the main characters are asking questions and following through from one logical determination to another. Sometimes they are wrong. But they don't stop until they get to the truth and when they are wrong, they admit it. The precision they use and the techniques they employ in working their case while they reason through each presentation of clues shows an incredible capacity for keeping an open mind about the situation. They come to conclusions based on evidence and then self-correct when found to be in error. The dark subject matter of the show is trumped instead by how intelligent and methodical it is. Just brilliant.

Imagine what it would be like if the writer's mindset was that of believers. Opening scene - "Oh, she's dead!" Lead character remarks - "The Lord works in mysterious ways." Second main character - "Yes, it was all part of God's plan." The show would be over before it had even really begun! Fini, The End. This is what happens when you have your mind made up about a subject or situation or a case. There is no mystery, there is no understanding, you just believe one thing and it's that things are out of your realm of understanding. And of course, then there is no story.

From what I've observed being around believers, they seem to be satisfied with that kind of an ending, and obviously the lack of a complete story. And not only satisfied, they seem to feel completely OK with that; content with only what they have accepted to be true. Putting up a shield to stop asking further questions, for whatever the reasons. I guess it's a protection of sorts, but I'm not sure why that could make anyone feel settled. I know it doesn't make me feel good. It's like the story or the take-away is completely devoid of any substance. This just seems that it is only a means to stop figuring out what comes next.

I struggle with that inclination in some people, along with many other things, because that screams laziness and disinterest. It certainly isn't very open-minded and portrays such a lack of curiosity. This is especially frustrating when I know some of those people are not and, actually, are just as inquisitive and methodical as I am. However, they would ultimately stipulate that their god has all the answers and they just don't understand his plan yet. In other words, it's futile to question.

What is it that makes people stop and hand over their curiosity? I don't know, only that a reasonable answer to that question eludes me. But I will continue to ask because it seems impossible for me to fathom how anyone wouldn't be moved to question things to a logical conclusion, and be thoroughly satisfied with something that was just fed to them. Or in the case of some, do some research and still give up because that is the godly thing to do.

Seems to me that believers certainly have found their niche in religion; they really are a perfect fit. Religion shows them the ending, the followers accept it on faith... Fini, The End.

I can't imagine a more boring story.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Two Versions Of Boom

Believers will tell you a superior and supernatural being created life as we know it by poofing it all into existence at his whim. From nothing to something, every day until he was done. But scientists are crazy because a huge explosion was the cause for the existence of our universe.

Scientists will tell you the best possible explanation that we have to date is the big bang happened. Visually conceptualized, from virtually nothing to something into our current understanding of the universe. But believers are crazy because they think a supernatural being just whipped up the existence of life as we know it out of thin air.

Highlighting the meaning of this concept is clearly one minuscule part of the much larger argument, but it is an irritant for me. Forgive me my OCDs. If we look at these examples, side by side, religion and science seem to agree to the origin (nothing into something) even though each perspective would tell us the how and the why are different. So my point is - let's stop arguing about that particular point! If the explanation for both sides is that our existence got here from nothing, it would seem to me we all (believer, non-believer, scientist or layman) agree to this concept of our beginning.

BOOM... there it is.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I'm Not Spiritual

Armando Favazza, author of PyschoBible, presented us with psychologist David Elkins' definition of what would qualify a person to be a spiritual one. He wrote "These would include belief in "a greater self" or a personal God, a sense of purpose in life and a quest for meaning, acceptance of the sacredness of nature and of all human experience, knowledge that ultimate fulfillment is found in spirituality and not in material things, altruism, idealism, awareness of suffering and death, and leading a life that has a positive effect on people, nature and their relationship "with whatever they consider to be the ultimate and transcendent reality." The take-away for me was that Favazza would agree with that definition.

Well, after reading that I'm going to have to admit that I, too, agreed with that definition at one time. But it's certainly not a label I hold any longer. I think I held this opinion then in the hopes that if there really were a god, I might still get points for the effort of calling myself something closely resembling what he/she wanted me to be.

I understand now am I not spiritual as described in the definition above, but really only a human being who wants to do the best I can during my short stint on this planet. I'll agree (slightly and with some modifications) that I have "a sense of purpose in life and a quest for meaning, acceptance of the sacredness of nature and of all human experience, knowledge that ultimate fulfillment is found in spirituality *being a decent human being and not in material things, altruism, idealism, awareness of suffering and death, and leading a life that has a positive effect on people, *and nature and their relationship "with whatever they consider to be the ultimate and transcendent reality." In other words, just being someone whose presence in this life is not detrimental to others and the world I inhabit. It still doesn't require a holy spirit that sets my actions in motion.

So, I'm not spiritual, but I am a good human and I'm self-led. And that's about as deep as it gets.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reworking the 12 Steps

MTSofan

THE TWELVE STEPS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
Version 2.27.14 - My take on it

1. We admitted we were powerless  our physical/psychological addiction over alcohol that our lives had become and how it made our lives unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves understand those addictions and empowered ourselves with coping tools that could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.  'enough is enough' and with the help of trained medical help, will beat this addiction.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Acknowledged who I am (good and bad) and what I've done (good and bad).

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove change all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove Worked diligently on our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer deep reflection and/or meditation to improve our conscious contact with God ourselves and our motivations, as we understanding Him how we got here, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and tapping into our own personal the power, along with the help of a support system, to carry that out what was necessary to live in a civilized society with others.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening experienced devastating consequences of our actions, taking responsibility, exercising deep thought and insight as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The original words without the strike-through - Copyright A.A. World Services, Inc.

I'm an average human with flaws, but also good character traits. Made good decisions and bad over my lifetime. It's probably correct to say that I have addictive tendencies, but they have not impacted my life in a devastating fashion to date. Regardless, my past included involvement with another 12 Step Program. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was brief but gave rise to rethinking this whole approach. Primarily because of the AA model incorporating the same traditional approach that religion uses to save souls.

In my opinion, AA is parading like a wolf in sheep's clothing. The main objective for the alcoholic is to get sober, but the running of this program smacks of being back in church. It seems more about bringing wretched people to a god who pulls all the strings rather than solving the initial problem of addiction. Look how many of these steps revolve around the deity! Only 3 out of the 12 Steps actually talk about what to do to help with their recovery. They put up this whole smoke screen of curing/managing their addiction, but a god is the only one in charge apparently.

In addition, the 12 Steps seem to be giving them yet another crutch to use rather than empowering them to stand up for themselves. And obviously it works for some people (something always does - different strokes for different folks), but the conflicting success rates don't show that it is making a dent in the problem of alcohol addiction.

Personally, I think when an addict has crossed a certain threshold and decided for himself/herself that enough is enough, interjecting a god into this process is saying that a person can't do it alone. I call bullshit on AA for letting a person struggling with addictions feel as if they are powerless. How is them saying that give them the courage necessary to face the internal struggles? Especially when realistically they only have themselves to achieve anything. Oh right, I forgot, if they only give it up to God. It just seems like an obvious set up for defeat when it is highly likely they will lapse again.

So if or when the alcoholic does goes back to his old habits does God get the blame? NO! It's the schlub who falls off the wagon who just can't get his act together! The fall back will be 'he/she wasn't entirely ready' to give it all over to God. Does the program and their leaders even begin to understand physical addiction during this whole process?

If addicts were truly powerless, how did those who finally made a decision to stop drinking and then manage to maintain sobriety actually do it? They may 'chant' they believe in the 12 Steps, but it is taking their own determination and willpower to actually succeed. Way to go AA for not giving them the credit for taking the first step towards their own sobriety!

Like I said, I'm an average person with some flaws, I'm not an expert in the field of addictions. But I am against yet another process that would enslave someone to thinking they require a god to live a decent life. That's just bullshit.

If you are struggling with addiction and are searching for a program that doesn't involve handing your life over to a god, check out S.O.S. It's been in existence since 1985 and continues to offer an alternative to the 12 Step Program of AA.

I hope you find the strength you need to get through the process of recovery. May your support system be strong and the resolve for your sobriety be even stronger. You and your success in overcoming your addictions are a testament of your own strength. I wish you all the best.

Friday, February 21, 2014

To Be or Not To Be... Stupid

For the people who absolutely, positively don’t have the ability to be intelligent due to physical or mental challenges, I get it and I’m not discussing you here… just for the record. More knowledge or more education just doesn't matter. These people need our help and support to adjust to a world that takes thinking for granted. And I'll say to those of us that get very uptight about a person’s intelligence level and rail at them at every opportunity when the lack of understanding makes itself known, please realize you might be failing to take some factors into consideration during said rant. Some people are just not capable of grasping information that we readily absorb. Chill out and get a grip of your righteousness.

The term stupid is considered a derogatory comment on the state of someone’s intelligence. By definition though it’s not a bad thing, it just is. So, by that logic, what follows being stupid is actually the bad part. People who are stupid tend to make poor decisions or careless mistakes. Their lack of intelligence or understanding of things contributes immensely to the condition or quality of life. That means stupid people just require more knowledge or education. Right?

Well, sort of. Having the capability isn't the only requirement for learning, the other component is a desire to be educated and informed. So, if people are capable and want to learn, then I would never consider them stupid. They are just ignorant until they understand and that's not a bad thing.



The group of stupid that irritates me and who I'm suggesting are worthy of ire are those who lack any willingness to achieve understanding because it feels more comfortable to remain ignorant. You know who I'm talking about! As John Cleese mentions in the video, they have to have a bit of intelligence to realize they are stupid and when they ignore what is potentially able to be grasped, they make a choice. Stupid doesn't do that, stupid can't do that.

So choosing to ignore information helps to keep intelligence levels down, THAT is what is frustrating with these types of people. Most just want to stay at their own ignorance level instead of really understanding all issues, problems and concerns surrounding their current situations requiring their involvement. Throw into that lack of knowledge unfettered emotions that add absolutely no value to the situation requiring some thought and well, you see, you have a mess. This scenario just leads to no resolution and generally more confusion for the uneducated person.

Let's not call these people stupid, let's call it out for what it really is - them willfully choosing to be stupid. And keep saying it to them. Maybe one of these days this comment you are making about them will have an impact. I suppose they might finally choose to be less ignorant. One can only hope.

***NOTE ADDED 2/23/14 - A fan has highlighted something problematic with this piece. The picture (unknown creator), one I took off of Bing.com, apparently doesn't have it right according to Wikipedia. I'd like to thank the fan for pointing it out. What a great way to highlight the point I was making! Getting schooled about something you are unaware about is an opportunity to learn. Choosing not to means you prefer remaining ignorant. Acknowledging that you didn't know something is not wrong and slinging unwarranted attacks on people for it is also wrong. And it's even more inappropriate when you don't even know the people, what their thought process is or what their intentions are in the situation. We can all learn something, I hope.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Creationism -The Dogma Of The Christian Fringe

thefrustratedteacher.com



Ken Ham and his views on Creationism are like the Tea Party of the religious - extremely right of American Christianity.

The idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old is a radical idea far from the mainstream understanding of the existence of our world, but it's one that he and so many more want to cling to and sell to the rest of the country. They tried real hard getting it into schools and have succeeded to some degree.

This recent debate between Ham and Nye showed the world the silliness and the sheer ignorance of Creationists; the idea will be laid aside, once and for all. Like the Tea Party, they got just stupid enough that everyone is now coming around to seeing how dangerous their thought process is in the world we understand so well through science. A rational world not only rejecting their ideas about Creationism, but also showing the rest of the sane people how idiotic this whole concept really is and how destructive it is to how we live in this world. The die-hard followers will continue to double down; ignorance always does. But the thinking population will prevail with respect to education and understanding of our universe.

When it became obvious what the true colors of the Tea Party were, their radical mind-set and actions began to contribute to their demise. And it continues as we see that many are being ousted from their positions in Congress.Their infiltration of the Republican Party only recently being loudly called out for what it is - the fringe element of society trying to take over our political systems. Like the Tea Party, the groundwork laid down by supporters of Creationism had somewhat of a foothold in our society, but if we are lucky, sooner rather than later, these crazy ideas will also fade away.

To make the case even more, we have another fringe guy speaking up about the crazy talk of Ham and his followers, pushing it along. You know you and your following, and especially your ideas are in trouble when Pat Robertson says you just need to go away. If he says you are spouting stuff that is "making a joke of Christianity!" seems to me you've crossed a line with so-called legitimate Christians




Pat seems to forget he does a good enough job on his own convincing most of us that Christianity is a joke. He should probably just go away, too. And take with you your fringe element!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Science Is Reasonable

Creator Unknown

I lost count of how many times Bill Nye said the word reasonable during the debate, but every time he did it made me want to slap him on the back with praise. That one word was the most appropriate thing he could say in rebuttal to anything that was coming out of Ken Ham's mouth. He was practically begging him to say something reasonable all during the debate. It didn't happen.

The picture above shows you the response of both participants from last night. Would either of them be persuaded to change their position and what would it take for that to happen?  Many would argue they shouldn't change their mind because they are supposed to defend their position and win the debate. But interestingly, the science guy is open to it because that's what scientists do! That position seems pretty reasonable. Again that word. 

Discussions with people who just want to believe in things rather than understand them cannot be reasonable. We can debate with them until we are blue in the face about their facts and understanding, show them evidence that clearly contradicts not only their thought process about the topic but about the relevancy of the topic as a guiding truth. Getting into a debate with someone who has closed their mind to any new information and we are still no further along than "But it's in the Bible so it must be true." And so, they backpedal all their insight to fit into that idea. Debate over. You're just wrong, you fact-having, evidence-producing, reasonable person you. 

That word - reasonable - will remind people to take a step back and understand that we would normally approach things from a reasonable perspective during the course of our day and life in general. Well, some of us. So, let's hope there are those who were willing to take this discussion about creationism/religion in their brains one step further. Those on the fence about these topics will maybe begin to understand that being reasonable is how we solve problems and maintain a life on this earth. Fantasizing a guy in the sky is pulling the strings and providing you with an after-life is not being reasonable; it's just wishful thinking because you are afraid of your own death. And you want a promise you'll see your loved ones again. 

I've heard many people make the comment that Ken Ham needed money for his creation museum and that this was just a stunt to get some much needed cash-flow. Based on the email I received below the day after (and the pre-sale one before the event), I think I can reasonably say that I would have to agree with them. Making money was one part of the agenda, turning non-believers into believers was the other.

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham Debate

Keep the conversations going!

Tonight’s historic debate didn’t end at 9:30—it has only just begun! Below are some opportunities for you and your church, school, or organization to keep the conversations going.
  • Debate Answers Live

    Watch Ken Ham and Georgia Purdom discuss the debate at debatelive.org on Wednesday 2/5/14 at 8:00 PM (ET).
    • Air it live for your Wednesday night youth groups, Bible studies, and small groups.
  • Re-watch the debate on our YouTube channel.

  • Learn more with Ken Ham’s Foundations DVD series

    Purchase the curriculum set or just the DVDs, now for an EXTRA 50% off the sale price for 72 hours after the debate!
    • Use promo code FOUND50
    • Check out the first video in this series FREE on YouTube
  • Get Answers

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  • More coming soon

    Look for future emails, in the coming weeks, with outreach ideas for your church and immediate family including new debate and study plan materials.
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Bill Nye and Ken Ham both had agendas, obviously. Ham proselytized his way through the debate and Nye talked about what we can know and what we don't know. Both were confident in their positions. One had evidence based on the scientific method which we would apply to everything in our natural world and the other had evidence from an alleged supernatural source which cannot be proven. Which position seems reasonable to you?

I think I'd rather be on the reasonable one's side.

PS - Bill Nye won that debate hands down.