Enough is Enough

When is Humanity Going to Get That We’re All in This Together?

Archive for December, 2006

New Violent Xtian Video Game — Hey Kids, Kill the Nonbelievers!

Posted by honestpoet on December 29, 2006

Just what we need: a video game to train xtian terrorists.

Here’s a press release from American Atheists:

Violent Christian Video Game Promotes Religious Bigotry, Intolerance

A new video game targeting conservative Christians promotes intolerance and demonizes Atheists and other nonbelievers, gays, and even members of minority religious groups an Atheist civil rights organization warned today.

Based on the “Left Behind” series of apocalyptic novels, the game has been distributed to over 10,000 retail locations including Wal-Mart, just in time for the holiday season. Dubbed “Left Behind: Eternal Forces,” the action is set in New York City where a Christian militia is engaged in bloody combat with “bad guys” who refuse to accept Jesus. Despite earlier protests from civic and even religious groups, the company behind this intolerant video fare defends the game as “inspirational entertainment.”

Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, said that everything from the content to the marketing of “Left Behind” takes the game to a new and possibly dangerous level.

“There are plenty of violent and racy video games out there in the market, but ‘Left Behind’ conveys a message of intolerance.” Johnson added that players score points for “blowing away” their heretical opponents, and that points scored for “unnecessary killing” can be redeemed by prayer.

“In a time when our nation and the rest of the world desperately need to stress tolerance, this game – targeted at a vulnerable segment of our community, namely, young people – preaches that violence is acceptable as long as Jesus or some religious figure demands its use.”

Dave Silverman, Communications Director for the group said that American Atheists was NOT advocating censorship of “Left Behind” or any other controversial video game. “We’re not asking the government or retailers to ban this game. Parents, though, should use the church-centered marketing of this as an opportunity to talk to young people about good judgement, acceptance of others, and the need for tolerance – not violence.”

American Atheists is a nationwide movement which defends the civil rights of nonbelievers, works for the separation of church and state, and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

http://www.atheists.org/

Posted in atheism, Christianity, fundamentalism, terrorism | Leave a Comment »

Still Celebrating

Posted by honestpoet on December 28, 2006

Things are pretty slow here in terms of writing.  We celebrate the twelve days of Xmas in this house (being apostate Catholics), so I’m still busy doing things with the kids.  I’ve got my mother & stepfather coming on the 3rd, and my girl is busy, with play-dates & violin lessons with my friend’s son who’s the concert master at a local university, while she’s out of school.  (My son is busy with the mega-man video games he got for Xmas.)  And I need to go outside and plant pansies (which are the floral symbol for independent thought!  not to mention very pretty and cold hardy).

I got a bamboo six-holed flute and a book on Irish flute playing for Xmas, and I’ve been practicing like a maniac.  I used to play a native American flute, but this is very different, being transverse (meaning I blow across a hole rather than down into a mouthpiece).  It’s tricky, but I’m getting the hang of it.   It’s lovely to be learning an instrument that uses western scales, because now my husband (who’s been playing music for 25 years) can help me learn.  He’s an excellent teacher.  When I’ve acquired some real proficiency I’ll be buying a Terry McGee flute, which is quite an investment.

I’ll be back to ranting about things I’m fed up with after the kids get back to school, but for now, I’m enjoying ignoring the outside world and cocooning with my family and lots of baked goodies and my flute, which makes beautiful music, when I manage it right.

Posted in atheism | Leave a Comment »

Those Bastards!

Posted by honestpoet on December 23, 2006

I’m sitting at the dinner table; things are wrapping up, and I feel like a rant. We’ve been talking about Bush & Co. again, and the possibilities, if not for impeachment, at least for some significant change, so that we don’t end up in another mess like this down the road. And we are in such a mess. I just got the issue of Newsweek with Obama and Clinton (Hillary) on the cover. Among many lovely tidbits in it we saw a photograph of a national forest that had been clear cut. You know, when I’d heard that those bastards had opened up some national forests for logging, I’d naively imagined that, though it was bad enough to do any logging there, they’d at least have the decency and sense to log selectively. No. The hill I saw was cut bare, nothing but bare soil and tree stumps, a few stripped logs still willy nilly, waiting to be dragged away. My daughter just about cried, thinking about all the animals that had nowhere to go. My son was outraged. And so am I.

What a horror. What a crime. And though it may not be a charge we can make stick, though most of them may not stick, thanks to Bush’s legalistic wartime-power voodoo, we ought to at least be able to ensure that it doesn’t keep happening.

Let’s face it. As someone said, democracy is the sneaking suspician that more than half the people can be wrong most of the time. I didn’t set out to impugn the intelligence of the average American, but let’s face it. Too many Americans get fooled too often. A handsome smile, the right name, a slick campaign, and some bozo ends up running things. And if he’s surrounded by enough evil people (ahem), then things can go very wrong indeed.

How to make things better? Hubby is an aristocrat, believes that the rule of a capable minority would be better than the rule of the easily fooled majority. Face it. Bush was elected because most Americans aren’t comfortable with smart people. (Unless you believe he was elected through voter fraud, a possibility I have considered.) And why don’t most Americans feel comfortable wth smart people? Because most Americans are stupid. I’m sorry, but it’s true. As Carlin says, think how stupid your average guy is: half the people are dumber than that! And this makes democracy a problem.

But the problem with an aristocracy is, who says who’s meritorious? Now that’s a sticky wicket, isn’t it? So I guess we’re going to have to keep democracy. But we ought to protect ourselves from having to endure this much damage when a bozo with evil buddies gets elected. How can we do that? Well, funny you ask, because I’ve thought about this, too.

We remove corporate influence from government by making corporate contributions illegal. That’s how it is in Canada, and it makes a lot of sense. And we need to terminate the 14th-Amendment personhood of corporations. There’s pretty good evidence that the Supreme Court that allowed that to happen was “unduly influenced,” shall we say (some might say “bribed”), and it’s also been made clear over the past century, culminating in the current catastrophe, that corporations abuse the privacy afforded by such personhood. They need to be transparent, so that the real citizens, the actual people, can be protected from the evil men will do in groups for the almighty dollar.

What’s perfectly ugly about this whole scenario, what I’d gloat about if it didn’t mean death and suffering for so many, for so long into the future, is that Bush&Co. used religion to fool people. Further proof that religous people are suckers. Suckers for a lie.

I bet those Islamic big-wigs live pretty well, too.

Posted in atheism, Christianity, ecology, fundamentalism, homophobia, impeachment, Islam, politics | 38 Comments »

Happy Solstice, Y’All

Posted by honestpoet on December 22, 2006

The real reason for the season.

Bright blessings to all as we mark the stillpoint, the moment of balance before we move back toward the sun (those of us in the northern hemisphere, that is), and honor the dark and the life that begins there, and celebrate the return of the light.

Posted in atheism | Leave a Comment »

Call for Impeachment

Posted by honestpoet on December 19, 2006

I’ve been devouring a book I picked up the other day at the grocery store: Jimmy Carter’s Our Endangered Values. It’s hard to put down. It’s an easy read; he’s got an amiable, yet authoritative, voice. He knows his stuff.

In the book he details his own religious background and beliefs (which, in the past, I would have found difficult to get through, but these days I find myself more tolerant…I may find it a bit silly, but at least it’s not malignant); he goes into the development of the influence of the Religious Right, the erosion of the separation of religion and politics (which caused him to sever his ties with the convention which he’d belonged to for decades) and then outlines the precepts and characteristics of fundamentalism. Some of them are angering enough, like the insistence on the subservience of women (despite the ample evidence that in early Christianity women were on an equal footing with men), and the denial of importance of environmental protection. But by far the scariest of them is the end-time philosophy that has them fomenting conflict between Israel and the rest of the Middle East. These folks not only believe that the Rapture is near (despite Christ’s insistence that no man knows the day, no man knows the hour) but actually think it’s their job to speed it on its way.

And this brings me to one of the ugliest aspects of redemption theology. Now, like I’ve said, I understand the desire, like my sister feels, to believe in Heaven, so you can imagine that you won’t be separated forever from your loved ones. (Of course, as I tell my children often, wanting something does not make it so.) But my sister doesn’t believe in the Devil or in Hell. She gets no juice out of imagining anyone suffering forever in a lake of fire. But these fundies, they do. In fact, I think they like that idea more than the idea of spending eternity on bended knee in the Lord’s presence (in fact, I think by their actions they make it clear that their knees don’t bend very well, anyway.) Like fundamentalists of any sect, they read scriptures selectively, and ignore those that don’t fit their ego-driven purposes. The Book of Revelations is the ravings of a lunatic, but it’s the part of the Bible they value the most, because it’s full of the images they thrive on: conflict, and the suffering of the Other (the unbelievers). They ignore the many injunctions in both the Old and New Testaments to be kind, generous, non-violent, to leave judgment to the Almighty.

This is what concerns me most about the current administration. These are the nuts that are running the country. Pres. Carter’s book details all the things that they’ve done to set us back, to undo progress in terms of international relations, social justice, environmental protection, personal freedom, that had been made by world leaders, including US presidents, over the last 60 or so years. And a lot of their actions he describes as illegal. And he should know.

That’s why I think we need to get serious about urging both our Democratic and our Republican legislators to impeach both Pres. Bush and VP Cheney. I’m concerned not only about the damage they could do in the next two years, but I’m also concerned, as are others, about the precedent that their behavior is setting. Congress should have impeached Reagan for the Iran-Contra scandal. Instead, they let it slide, and now we’ve got this mess. The Constitution was written with human nature in mind, with the understanding that when power rests in the hands of too few individuals, it will always be misused. It’s the duty of Congress to keep these folks in check. It’s time they did their job. But they won’t do it unless we demand that they do it. They’re afraid of being perceived as wasting time on revenge. But this isn’t revenge. This is what’s necessary to ensure the continuation of our democracy, and also to rehabilitate our standing in the international community, something that sorely needs doing. Right now most of the world sees America as their greatest threat. And I’m afraid they might be right.

So please, write your representatives. Encourage them to pursue impeachment, not on the grounds of payback, but to protect America, for the next two years, and long into the future.

If you’ve never written your representatives and don’t know where to start, you can figure that out here. They do usually read emails, but paper letters carry even more weight.

And in case you’re still not sure that this war is an unholy mistake, watch this (with thanks to whig at cannablog).

Posted in atheism, Christianity, ecology, fundamentalism, impeachment, politics | 3 Comments »

You gotta watch this

Posted by honestpoet on December 17, 2006

I told you the war on drugs was one of the things I’m fed up with. Here’s an excellent video I just watched at cannablog with my kids.

Posted in war on drugs | 2 Comments »

Can’t we all just get along?

Posted by honestpoet on December 17, 2006

Oh, I know that article was harsh, and some of it wasn’t even well written.  But it certainly expressed my mood after I’d made the mistake of trying to engage a Muslim in rational conversation.  I’m only human, after all.  Of course I get frustrated after basically banging my head against a brick wall.  I don’t know how many times I have to be reminded that the religious wear intellectual blinders, that they operate with a filter that keeps out anything that might make them question their faith.

And you know, I really do value unity in diversity.  I’m not trying to get anyone to abandon a faith that helps them get through this difficult life.  But religious people have to be willing to admit that their faith IS irrational, that it flies in the face of known fact.  And that too many who practice it do it in a way that causes serious problems for their neighbors.

My husband (who found me that article after I’d become so frustrated, as a way to make me feel better, the dear) and I have been talking about why people are like this, why they insist that everyone believe and live the way they do.  He’s a total computer geek, a guy who loves coding, fiddling.  I’m not (but I sure am glad he is).  He came across a 4-page argument this morning between fans of Windows and fans of Linux.  Both hurled ugly generalizations at each other.  Only two posts in the four pages were by rational people who said, “Hey, you know, maybe Windows works for some people, and Linux works for others, and that’s okay.”  I have no problem with people believing in the supernatural, be it an unknowable force or even a daddy in the sky, as long as they don’t try to make me believe the same thing.

I’ve got a hypothesis about the evangelical Christian’s or the Muslim’s insistence that their way is the only way, that everyone must accept their Truth or suffer in hell (or in the case of the jihadist, die an early death and THEN suffer in hell), or the homophobic’s bashing of gays, or even in the conservative’s stance against marijuana:  they don’t actually have that much confidence in their belief, in their choices, and they therefore feel the need to make everyone agree with them so they don’t feel confronted by their own doubts.

A homophobe is probably experiencing repressed homosexual feelings.  In fact, my psychiatrist friend tells me that it happens often, that a preacher, who is most vehement in his anti-gay rhetoric at the pulpit, comes to his office plagued with guilt over the fact that at night, when everyone’s asleep, he can’t stop watching gay porn.

And my husband, who’s also a doctor, has a nurse who’s an evangelical christian who admits that he knows the Bible better than she does.  She confessed recently that she’s never read it, because when she’s tried she’s found it too contradictory, too confusing.  So she finds it easier to let the preacher tell her what it means.  How is this not mental slavery?  She’s abbrogated her responsibility to make up her own mind.  And yet she’s convinced that my husband’s going to hell for not accepting Jesus Christ as his personal lord and savior.

This blog is not really intended to be all about atheism or religion bashing.  But I feel like I have to get it out of the way.  I actually have a lot of other concerns: the impending ecological disaster, human rights, the war on drugs.  But I sincerely believe that none of these problems are going to be solved until we arrive at a place where we recognize ourselves as one species among many, all related, all inherently free.  And the only way that’s going to happen is if we abandon religion as anything but a personal choice and accept science, not scripture, as the source of knowledge.

Posted in atheism, ecology, homophobia, Islam, Muslims, science, skepticism, war on drugs | 1 Comment »

Someone Said It for Me

Posted by honestpoet on December 15, 2006

I don’t think I need to add anything here.

Posted in atheism, Islam, science, skepticism, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The Whole Racket Started with the Egyptians

Posted by honestpoet on December 13, 2006

Last night we watched a two-hour special on the Egyptian Book of the Dead (history chanel — one of our favorites, after the science chanel — knowing one’s place in time is as important as knowing one’s place in the material order). Fascinating, and probably the first time I’ve seen anyone on TV mention the similarities between the Isis/Osiris/Horus myth and the Christian story, which clearly recycles the old symbols of that as well as some others.

You know, I understand the human desire to believe in an afterlife. My father died young, when I was in my twenties. It would be comforting to imagine that he’s up in some Heaven somewhere, waiting for me to join him in my time. I certainly miss him plenty. And if my husband or children were to go, I’d be devastated, and really have trouble with the idea of never seeing them again.

But as I wrote in a poem that’s coming out in a magazine in February, about the time I almost died myself (and discovered, to my relief, that I did not fall back into prayer and grasp at the white robes of Christ in my fear, nor find anything but nothingness while I was without brain-stem function — no tunnel with light at the end, no deceased relatives waiting to welcome me), accepting the impermanence of life can add to its sweetness (grateful for every day), as well as strengthen one’s resolve to treat one’s family as one ought, with the love and kindness they deserve.

In researching markets for poems, I read a bunch of secular humanist articles yesterday. One was interesting, about whether or not we need to respect religion. The article came down strongly on the side of “no.” And I have to agree. Especially in my writing, I will not make any attempt to temper what I say to make anyone feel better about the fact that they cling to what’s clearly nothing more than ancient superstition. The world is speeding to a hell of its own making, fighting wars motivated at least on one side by religious intolerance (while many Americans may feel intolerance toward Islam, I don’t believe that’s the actual motivation of the adminstration…I think it has a lot more to do with that god of money, Mammon). I don’t believe Jesus even existed. And Muhammad was clearly a bi-polar nut who justified his bloody wars with spoutings of recycled stories picked up from traders in the desert. And why the hell is half the world held captive by the scriptures of some Semitic tribe who decided a few thousand years ago that they were the chosen people? Most of the Old Testament seems to me to be a lot of rationalization for killing and looting, not to mention a land-grab that covers pretty much the entire Middle East.

Allah is a moon god, and Jehovah’s the god of thunder, and their representatives have been killing each other for centuries. And thanks to the frickin’ Romans and their revisionist histories, all of Europe (and now the Americas) are caught up in this mess via the allegedly Holy Church.

We watched the Terry Jones miniseries on the history chanel some weeks ago, about the so-called barbarians. The episode that intrigued me most was the one on the Celts, and not only because I’ve got a lot of ancestry from those folks. What really amazed me was the advanced and egalitarian society they had before the Romans “civilized” them. Their legal code gave equal rights to women (women were second-class citizens in Rome, practically property), and protected children, the elderly, and the mentally handicapped, which seems pretty enlightened to me. The “civilized” Romans threw unwanted babies on the garbage heap. Egads.

Back to the Egyptians and their scrolls, I learned last night that those Egyptian priests really had quite a racket going. A scroll (to be buried with you to guide you through the trials of the afterlife) would cost a royal scribe half a year’s salary. This morning my husband joked about needing one. I said, “Yeah, you gonna spend $75K on it?” He said he figured if Bibles cost that much, there’d be a lot more folks around here reconsidering the whole church thing.

Posted in atheism, Egyptians, history, Jews, Muslims, Romans, skepticism | 23 Comments »

The Toxicity of Religion

Posted by honestpoet on December 12, 2006

I’ve decided to start using this blog. This’ll be the first of many posts, maybe not daily, but frequent. I had been blogging elsewhere, at a new-agey forum that had purported to be a site for cultural activists but which turned out to be yet another place for irrational people to get together and air their imbecilic beliefs and insist that you can’t disagree because everything is a matter of perspective. And while I’m all for acknowledging the perspective of the Other (which I think is the basis of ethics and morality), that doesn’t mean that there isn’t such a thing as right and wrong, or good and evil. Reality and wishful thinking.

I agree with Richard Dawkins when he says, well, just about anything, because we’re on the same reality-based wave-length. But what I started to say with that sentence was that I agree that it’s time for atheists, or, to cast us in a less negative light, skeptics, to come out of the closet and voice our doubts, ask our questions, and risk offending.

As Irshad Manji says in her excellent book, The Trouble with Islam, people need to be willing to risk “ruining the moment.” (Though she’s referring to Westerners desiring to engage Muslims in discussing the problems they’re having with violent extremists.) It’s okay to hurt people’s feelings if it’s necessary to arrive at a rational solution to the problems facing humanity. Feelings pass. No blood’s lost when your beliefs are challenged.

And let’s face it. Humanity is royally f*&ck%d. And religion is the primary cause of our sorry state. It’s toxic to mental health. How could it be otherwise, when “faith” requires such mental gymnastics? A psychiatrist in my close acquaintance tells me there’s a clear demographic difference between the general population and the occupants of the ward. Pentecostals are the largest number. Southern Baptists next. Sometimes a Catholic or Jew. Once a Wiccan, though I’m sure in cities where they’re more common, they’re filling a few beds. But never, not once in his decade of practice, an atheist. Now, the incidence of purely biological pathologies like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are more or less the same across the religious/non-religious spectrum, but the kind of things that stem from drug abuse, abuse or other trauma — post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder — overwhelmingly afflict the religious. The more fundamental, literalist, extreme the strain, the more toxic. Now, some of these folks are in fact the victims of an incestuous or violent (or both) relative (most often the father). But others have simply had an irrational mindset forced upon them, and can’t free themselves without pathological guilt, which manifests in one or more of the above. For this reason I also agree with Richard Dawkins when he says that raising a child with religion is tantamount to child abuse.

How much more positive, how much more sane, to raise a child to experience the world without the distorting filter of religion. To teach science, not only what is known, but how it’s known, so that s/he may grow up with an inherent understanding that s/he can add to that knowledge, can explore the world and her/his place in it, unfettered by guilt or a disdain for the beauty that abounds here, which is unavoidable when raised to believe that the world is an illusion, a temptation.

And just as importantly, if not more so, with an awareness that every other human on the planet is in a very real way kin. Though experiencing the travesty that is modern culture in America sometimes leads me to cynicism, I try to hang on to hope that humanity will do better than this. That one day (in the not-too-distant future, if I have my way), we’ll have learned the lesson that we’re dying for: that we now have a Creation Story that we can all share. It’s called Evolution, and it’s ongoing. Not a one-time creation, but cosmogenesis. How incredible, to be a part of a living, constantly created universe. As humans, we have a chance to have a hand in that creation. We’ve spent enough time destroying it already.

Posted in atheism, evolution, psychiatry, Richard Dawkins, science, secular humanism, skepticism | 2 Comments »