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When the comment trading is starting to drag on into the unscrolled dusty depths of a diary I like to drag my carpal tunnel syndrome inflicting rants back up into the sunny spotlight of the recent diary ride to oblivion and inflict them on you.

Yeah, the damn cat is yowling for attention again.

What follows is something of a reply to a comment (I will post a link to this diary as a reply to that comment) in a conversation I've been having with a person who I think may have suffered from a Jesus Camp style indoctrination. I start with a blockquote from the  comment I'm responding to:

That is what I see around me. People with religion, and no sense of social obligation. For their indifference to humanity and the earth I blame religion.

That one part of what you wrote has stuck with me as being the key to everything. You've written that your personal experience is with Christianity. Isn't basically the entire Sermon on the Mount about social obligation and renouncing material wealth? I don't see the problem in the message or the messenger. I see a problem in people learning about the message and the messenger from people like this slightly photoshopped opportunist:

But really the problem is people believing the opportunists. Just sitting back and letting authority do your thinking for you.

I grew up on Frank Zappa for much of my religious indoctrination:

The problem as I see it is people who believe anything they are fed by authority. This sort of thinking makes for masses of Americans who claim to be conservatives but identify so closely with the label 'Republican' that they vote for authoritarian, big government, spend, spend spend, corporate 'suck ups' just because they share a meaningless label. Vote for the label! -- ignore the corrupt bastard behind the curtain. A similar sort of meaningless label is 'Christian' which is clung to by millions of people who seem to use the teachings of Jesus Christ as found in The Bible as toilet paper. But there are also Christians who take Christ's message seriously and understand it well enough to know that hoarding wealth and hating are not part of the message.

Opportunistic authoritarians love the meek. The meek sheeple are ruining the place. There will always be power hungry predators and there will always be meek drones who willfully throw away the daunting task of actually having to make decisions. The unending cry of "Tell me what to do!" will always find responses of "Follow ME!"

The problem has never been religion. And here I quote one of my own personal favorite atheists Douglas Adams "People are a problem"

And like Frank says:

Remember, there's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over.

I also highly recommend large doses of George Carlin. If you start bending over ol' buddy George is there to give you a helpful kick in the ass.

So my congratulations for finally breaking out of the zombie world of lockstep group-think. People are generally lazy twits that follow anyone willing to lead. It's good to see an individual poke their head up above the herd and check on which direction everyone is headed. I like it even better when someone like you manages to get out of a misled herd. You've shown great strength. I hope to read more from you as you discover your own path and continue your journey.

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Fri May 13, 2011 at 07:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cookie Jar (83+ / 0-)

    Disclaimer: These are just my thoughts. I'm working my way up my own path. I've been an outspoken or perhaps overspoken atheist on the Daily Kos satellite site Street Prophets for a few years now. I wander through here too occasionally. With big orange DK4 getting slowly ready to reabsorb the calm world of lil' blue SP (like our own star going red giant on us) we've started up a Street Prophets group. Keeping ahead of the game perhaps. Anyway, we're folks of all flavors who make a pretty good attempt now and then to discuss religion and politics without wasting too much lovely pie in pie fights.

    If you read this post and are left with the impression that I'm somehow anti-religion or anti-atheism I can only blame that on an educational system that has failed both of us.

    I try to keep an open mind. More stuff can get in that way.

    And unfortunately stuff is also falling out...

    Oh, and speaking of stuff-- Street Prophets has a community custom of calling that sticky mojo rec stuff "cookies". It may be a bit delusional but I swear that it tastes better. So, leave a few cookies for the werepootie if you want. My self-inflatable ego would appreciate it.

    •  Have a cookie (34+ / 0-)

      People are sometimes surprised to find that a number of us who wear the label "atheist" hang out at Street Prophets. Too often there is an assumption that religion must have something to do with a god, and thus some "religious" people reject major religions such as Buddhism by saying that there are not really religions.

      •  God and Gods (18+ / 0-)

        As a person studying Zen Buddhism, I understand that there is something Out There, barely within the comprehension of any human. To call That There Is "a God" or to provide That There Is with attributes, is to define something beyond definition.

        Therefore, I do not believe in "God" as a singular being.

        I also think that there may be beings out there with greater capabilities than humans, that these may be constructs of energy, rather than matter, and that one could define these poltergeists, pixies, sprites, Greek Panthenon and dwellers of Valhalla as "Gods." These are limited beings that change and grow or decay over time.

        Therefore, I do believe in "Gods."

        One of the things I really like about Buddhism is the sense of humor inherent in the religion.

        •  Buddhism is a handy example... (20+ / 0-)

          ...of a non-theistic religion.

          I use it as an example when debating with people who are trying to shove others into religious pigeonholes.  They usually overlook the non-theists.

          Harboring resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

          by The Red Pen on Fri May 13, 2011 at 08:27:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Buddhism isn't a religion (9+ / 0-)

            It's more like a set of ideas and practices for living well. One doesn't believe in what the Buddha taught, one puts his ideas into practice, perhaps discovering that i may need to make adjustments based on my own circumstances.

            "Without LOVE in the dream it will never come true..." -Hunter/Garcia

            by US Blues on Fri May 13, 2011 at 01:58:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And there's no such thing as a true Scotsman (8+ / 0-)

              Sorry, but the line between religion and philosophy is thin. Buddhism incorporates a number of metaphysical notions (particularly karma and reincarnation). That sets it apart from, say, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Any philosophy that touches on theological issues (either affirming or denying), moves past the empirical by definition, and into the realm of religion.

              "Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated” - George Bernard Shaw

              by Jaxpagan on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:53:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  acutally, I don't think either are metaphysical (10+ / 0-)

                Both of these concepts suffer from significant misinterpretation, in part because of the misapprenhensions of 19th century scholars who interpreted many doctrines from the framework of their own theological beliefs.  I think to their thinking much of buddhist thought was unthinkingly heretical.  

                In my own theravada tradition (referring to the tradition rooted in a set of texts developed by Buddhas students after his death) these concepts are distinctly non-metaphysical.  

                First of all, karma (a Pali word deriving from the Sanskrit krma, the verb to do)  refers to the relationship between actions and the mental state that derives from those actions.  The popularized notion of some cosmic evening of the score definitely shows the fingerprints of a judeo-christian mindframe. To a certain degree, this karma is a close relative of samsara, the endless cycle of origination in which your mental states and clinging carry forward moment to moment to create the suffering of your present moment.   Rather than divine retribution, it might be closer to making lying in the bed one made.  

                Second, reincarnation has a debated position in Buddhism.  There's an argument that it merely reflects a wider cosmological notion which was common at the time of Buddha. Not all traditions hold that there is some unchanging persistent self that can reincarnate.  To some degree, the very concept of something eternal such as a soul represents a clinging to the self, which is antithetical to the doctrine of no-self, or anatta.  Certainly, some of the Mahayana traditions seem to refer to some kind of mind that is separate from the perception of self arising from material sensation.  My understanding is that Buddha both rejected nihilism, as still preoccupied with a self, and the concept of a unitary, persisting unitary soul.

                Maybe the closest answer is that the existence of a soul is so bound up in the notion of self that one should not cling to it.

                Anyway, the answer to the question of whether Buddhism is a religion, I have read more experienced practitioners than I claim that it both is and is not a religion, depending on what aspects of religion one focusses on.  It certainly makes no universal claim on truth or faith in any divine inspiration.  On the other hand, it does provide a fairly clear moral and spiritual guide.

                Long story short, I don't really know!

                :D

              •  Buddhism is a lot like Christianity (8+ / 0-)

                Inasmuch as there are a great many branches of it. They range from the doctrinaire and dogmatic to the non-theistic, so it's a bit unfair to lump them all in the same boat.

                Every day's another chance to stick it to the man. - dls

                by The Raven on Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:03:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  There is such a thing as a true Japanese (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mapamp, Ooooh, Ojibwa, wishingwell

                See mine below.  

                Sorry old chap, but I was actually born a Buddhist and come from a culture where that was the norm, not one where the adherents are Western converts still using their old Judeo-Christian habits of thought .  

                "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" -King Jugurtha of Numidia

                by LucyandByron on Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:43:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, it is. (7+ / 0-)

              I heard the Dalai Lama talk about praying today. There's a "peace education conference" in Newark. I was there and so was he. I was in the front row when he said it.

              Therefore Buddhism is a religion.

              •  Not in Japan -- it's a philosophy (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mapamp, Ooooh, Steve84, wishingwell

                Like Confucianism.  You can also follow a religion if you want to.  Syncretism, yes; heresy is just not possible.  There are no wrong or mandatory toppings.  

                I was raised Jodo Shinshu, which has very little mysticism and no deities.  Nobody in my family prays or meditates.   Occasionally we talk to the ancestors, but that's not the same thing.  

                Asian conceptions of the divine are very different from the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim one.  So 85% of Japanese can and do say that they do not have any religion.  

                "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" -King Jugurtha of Numidia

                by LucyandByron on Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:40:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  There are non-theist influences in Buddhism, (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mapamp, Ooooh, BYw

              Christianity, Jainism, Hinduism, an on and on. To interpret that to mean they are all non-religions is a major stretch. When you call Siddhārtha Gautama "Buddha", you are immediately identifying Buddhism as a religion.

            •  In the West it's not a religion (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ooooh, mapamp, dirkster42

              But it's a full-blown religion for sure, with buildings and employees and half a billion adherents and a long and complicated history full of wars and schisms.

              I wonder what would happen some day if another civilization picked up bits of christianity and only used the bits that worked.  That would be cool!

            •  Strangely, for a not-religion... (6+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ooooh, dirkster42, BYw, mapamp, BoxNDox, JDsg

              it looks an awful lot like one. Temples. Priests. Monks. Shrines. Pilgrimages. Offerings. Holy days. Vows of celibacy. Shaved heads.

              Really? Seriously? You don't think Buddhism is a religion? Is the depth of your experience of it merely the thin crust of the most intellectual Westernized forms?

              Jesus wasn't about believing what he taught, he too was about putting the ideas he taught into practice.

              And over and over and over again we can find people who, in vast numbers, have been thrilled to wrap themselves in a holy man's image, claim his legacy, "interpret" it for others, and...

              "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

              by ogre on Fri May 13, 2011 at 05:44:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Buddhism is a lot of things... (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mapamp, dirkster42, Eikyu Saha, mkor7, Ooooh

              Are you referring to Mahayana, Hinayana, Pure Land, Zen, Theraveda (just to name a few)? Some are more "religiony" than others. To say definitively that it is or isn't a religion is like saying ice cream doesn't have chocolate in it. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

              "We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy, but we can't have both."-- Justice Louis Brandeis

              by ubertar on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:15:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you, ubertar (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mapamp

                for pointing out that "Buddhism" is too general a term to be used meaningfully.  Sort of like someone in Southeast Asia trying to lump every cultural practice from the Oslo to Lesotho under the same term.  What would it be? "Western religion?"

            •  It could be called a religion of experience (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mapamp, TexasTwister, US Blues, mkor7, Ooooh

              Buddhism does not proclaim dogmas; rather, it encourages critical questioning. Using the right meditations, the intellectual understanding of the teachings becomes a personal everlasting experience. The goal of Buddha's teachings is the full development of the innate potential of body, speech, and mind.

              So, what is Buddhism? "Buddha used the best description himself. During the 1,500 years the teachings existed in India, they were called Dharma, and for the last 1,000 years in Tibet, the name was Cho. Both mean 'the way things are'. Understanding 'the way things are' is the key to every happiness. Buddha himself is both teacher, example, protector and friend. His help allows beings to avoid suffering and to enter a state of increasing bliss while also liberating and enlightening others.

              The Buddha gave methods by which full enlightenment may be attained. In a way that makes Buddhism directly relevant to our lives, he explained what exists ultimately and what is conditioned. The Buddha showed his students how to use all experiences in life as steps towards enlightenment, giving teachings which lead to deep and lasting happiness. He encouraged his students to be sceptical, inviting them to thoroughly check for themselves whether his teachings were dogmatic or truly liberating. Buddhist meditation methods can generate powerful inner change enabling experiences to be integrated directly towards enriching our lives. These skillful methods allow the levels of consciousness already reached through meditation to become anchored in a way that they are never again lost.

              Whoever thinks of himself has problems but whoever thinks of others has interesting jobs to do. The greatest trick of all is simply to forget oneself. - Lama Ole Nydahl, "The Great Seal"

              by zephyr108 on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:26:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  In my experience (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mapamp

                Buddhist mind training, not meditation, was what helped me make sweeping changes in my consciousness. It helped me to accept the way things are, and by examining the way my mind operated I began to see that other people's minds reacted the same way mine did. Mind training helped me to step off the merry go round of reactivity by training  my mind to think differently. It changed my life.

                There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.--Hamlet

                by Ooooh on Sat May 14, 2011 at 04:21:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  you mean (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp, ubertar, BYw, HiBob

          you believe there MAY be something out there. As a rational atheist, I apply the same conditions to anything spiritual: Present empirical, non-anecdotal evidence, until then, everything is a theory, to say the least.

          But I'm certainly open to many possibilities, just uh, "show me the money."

          "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain

          by culturejammer on Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:11:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  this argument doesn't work for me. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mapamp

            and i hear it all the time...
            .  
            if you're saying something like:

            'I believe there is no tall man with a beard and lightning bolt'.  

            I have no reason to believe otherwise until you demonstrate it to be so'

            Then I can see it.

            But people's perception of what a 'god' is are really all over the map.  What's God? Is it a specific being?  Is it just 'divinity' whatever that means?  Is it sentience?  Is it just 'cause'?

            Because when you reduce it to:

            Existence was caused   vs. Existence was not caused

            then you have something on much more even footing.

            And since everything we know in the world has cause, it's not really that far fetched for those who have trouble grappling with the causeless, in my opinion.

            •  It's up to the person positing a god (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BYw, Steve84, HiBob, mapamp

              to define what they mean by it. Not the person who doesn't believe.

              "We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy, but we can't have both."-- Justice Louis Brandeis

              by ubertar on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:17:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  except (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk, greeseyparrot, mapamp

              You always come back to if X caused the universe, what caused X?

              Which usually results in an very dissatisfying answer along the lines of "Well, X always existed."  

              If that's the case, why not let Occam cut out the middle-man/woman/tentacled monster?

              If we don't stop them here, then where? If not now, then when?

              by nightsweat on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:44:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  i tend to think we're just in a series of infinite (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mapamp

                successive universes, perhaps arranged in a circle in time and space, in which each universe--or something in each universe--ends up creating the next one.  Look at us with our attempts to create artificial intelligence.  If we succeed in creating something with sentience--which i've always doubted--then it seems like whatever we created would eventually have the same discussions we are.

                Somehow understanding all of this requires capturing infinity, something that we don't seem to be meant to do.

                (Im about 1/4 serious about the above proposal ;)   Maybe 1/100...

                •  Re: (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mapamp

                  The difference is that those AIs could perceive us and interact with us - at least until they wipe us out.

                  They may wonder for a bit, but eventually they could obtain proof of their creators and how they were created. That's not possible with the gods of any man-made religion.

              •  Re: (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk, mapamp

                Fully agreed. Why is so hard to assume that maybe a singularity or a uniform quantum state always existed and then "exploded"/expanded? It's very abstract, sure, but still a lot more plausible than a complex being that always existed.

        •  I love Zappa's "Catholic Girls" (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp, BYw, Da Rock, Marko the Werelynx

          Frank was so religious...

          Sent via African Swallow carrying a coconut

          by ipaman on Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:32:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Frank (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ipaman, mapamp

            Yeah, he does seem to have a lot of insight into hypocrisy and what repressive ideas can do to people. I knew a girl a bit like the ones he sang about.

            Oddly enough, my first Zappa album was actually Joe's Garage Acts II & III. Very few instrumental "rock" songs stir my emotions like "Watermelon in Easter Hay".

      •  Hmm (19+ / 0-)

        I poked my head in once or twice a few years back, but could never find a comfort zone in a place where myth is allowed to stand for reality.

        For instance: the teachings of Jesus are one thing - textual analysis shows those parts of the Gospels come from a different source than the legend of the virgin-born, miracle-working, death-beating son of god. The important thing for me is to be clear on what's real. My reading of the NT convinces me that neither Paul nor the Gospel writers believed Jesus was a recently-deceased historical person. There are too many inconsistencies, gaps, and outright fabrications for me to accept that they thought they were writing not just a true story, but a true story of god on Earth. I have met Jews, Pagans, and Hindus who will say aloud that their sacred myth is myth. There's a breed of Christian though, to whom this is intolerable. And as Street Propheteers themselves have noted, the other kind of Christian can't get any airtime.

        It's not limited to Christians, or even Yahwists: I was recently asked to leave a comment thread because I questioned the diarist's premise that elections could be influenced by magic. The response was not "yes, magic is real and here's how you or I or anyone can see for himself", nor was it "no, we're just using a metaphor to explore the uses of power"; it was "calling my sacred beliefs fiction is pissing in the pool - get lost."

        Again: the subject at hand was  using "magick", i.e., projecting energies or causing change by means not currently understood, to contribute to the national defense or to influence elections. Much to my dismay, asking whether such a thing was really possible was considered rude.

        There was a time this community was proudly reality-based. There was a time that having your premises questioned was one of the reasons for writing a diary - to see if your thought processes held up.

        into the blue again, after the money's gone

        by Prof Haley on Fri May 13, 2011 at 08:21:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Questioning (12+ / 0-)

          For what it's worth, I don't see anybody asking you to leave that comment thread under your link.

          I see you asking a question which you understandably considered on-topic, and mentioning that you'll need more than they've given you to take their beliefs seriously.  Responses seemed to focus on explaining why they considered your question off-topic, and acceptance that you won't take their beliefs seriously.

          If you felt unwelcome seems to me because you wanted to use the diary for something other than what they (presumably including the initial diarist, I think that's a safe assumption in context) wanted to use the diary for, not that anyone wanted you, personally, to go away.

          Here in Street Prophets sometimes we, too, often use diaries for purposes other than having our premises questioned.  When the discussion is "let's coordinate doing X together" or "let's see if we can figure out how to do X", or "let me share X, because it's important to me that you all understand where I'm coming from" a reply of "I don't believe X is real, convince me" isn't going to get a warm reception, no mater what X is, and no matter how right you might be to question things, you're just on very different pages.

          Even "I don't believe X is right/safe/ethical to do" can be a tough question to raise, but if you're clearly communicating good evidence that it is wrong/unsafe/unethical, it can be worth the social backlash.  But why waste that energy just on something harmless that you disbelieve?

          If we spent all our time on Street Prophets challenging each other to convince us of the validity of their faith, we wouldn't be building a community, we wouldn't be building bridges among progressives and faithful that are sorely needed, we wouldn't be doing what we're trying to do.  We'd be having a counterproductive brawl instead, this community is too diverse (and this is speaking as someone who used to help moderate a forum on another site that was for the express purpose of those challenges, of enjoying that unproductive brawl).

          Questions certainly go by, but they typically come from a place of "I don't understand where you're coming from, help me understand your point of view" rather than "I don't think your viewpoint is valid, change my mind".  Learning, not challenging.

          There is a lot of merit in asking those tough, challenging, questions, but there is also a time and place for them, and I'm not convinced that Daily Kos in general is the best place unless perhaps you're setting aside a diary or community devoted to it.

          Bottom line, Daily Kos is about getting a big tent filled with progressives working to help each other improve the common good.  Street Prophets is about the religious progressive's role in this.  There's nothing wrong with what you're looking for, but it can be an unwelcome distraction.

          •  Well, I interpreted (7+ / 0-)

            the diarist's first response ["I'm sure you can find a community or two of people who see things your way"] as a clear invitation to take my contribution elsewhere.

            And I still think my questions were fair and reasonable. The diarist wasn't discussing an abstract X, he was discussing [among other things] suppressing voter turnout via supernatural weather control. How does someone even get to the page where asking whether that's real is off-topic?

            I wouldn't ask this sort of question about what I consider articles of religious faith, like what happens when you die or what god really wants from us while we're alive. I agree that's fruitless - there is no evidence to weigh. But the diarist was talking about really affecting the real world. And maybe my tone wasn't in the key of Street Prophets when I asked, but I was trying to learn, when I took his own questions ["Is it possible?"] at face value. I've been told all my life that I'm weird. Understanding why people who think differently from me, think what they do, is one of my long-term projects.

            into the blue again, after the money's gone

            by Prof Haley on Fri May 13, 2011 at 11:38:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  As one of your responders on the thread (4+ / 0-)

              I would say I don't believe any responses were intended to be rude, and I would certainly apologize if any of my own words were taken that way. As I said at the time, a discussion of empirical evidence of supernatural effects by prayer/magick/psychic powers/what-have-you, was beyond the scope of the thread, which dealt more with ethics. If you dismiss the possibility of those supernatural effects, there wasn't much to say. But I think most people got your question and respected it, but were keeping the thread on that ethical discussion, rather than a "can you prove prayer/magick/etc does anything" debate - which frankly I don't believe could ever be settled in a forum like this.

              "Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated” - George Bernard Shaw

              by Jaxpagan on Fri May 13, 2011 at 03:02:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, I backed out (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mapamp, Recall

                when I saw that indeed, a discussion of empirical evidence of supernatural effects would be taken as a hijack. I wasn't the only skeptic, and some guys got into it about taking people to court for imprecatory prayer or some such. I actually have had some form of the ethical discussion before, but (meaning no disrespect to Wiccans) the context was comic books, understood to be fiction. I get that magic is an attractive, even powerful, idea. As I said, I took the diarist's own questions at face value. He declined to give a straight answer and invited me to take it elsewhere. I agree the question won't be answered here, but an answer - "yes, I believe magic is real", "no, but we can hope", "not really, but it provides meaning in a blind screaming world" - not putting words in anyone's mouth here - would have been fair.

                I'm not one of those guys looking for a fight. Maybe reality is overrated, but it's where I live.

                into the blue again, after the money's gone

                by Prof Haley on Fri May 13, 2011 at 08:49:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  You know, I too have run up against this. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ubertar

              Sometimes it feels like a San Francisco love-in circa 1968 around here.  I drew more hide ratings on one diary written by self styled pagans than I have in all my comments in the past 5 years recently.  
              If we don't challenge these magick types, we lose our credibility here as a community.  We can't talk seriously about the Religious Right vs gays or abortion when we allow people to take magic, pagans or vampires seriously.  That's my opinion.

            •  Uh, strawmen abound here! Thanks for telling (0+ / 0-)

              me what I believe, kiddo. If your interested in finding out why people think differently than you, you might wanna ask and listen before you freaking tell them what they're thinking.

        •  Reality based Daily Kos (6+ / 0-)

          Which explains all of the pootie diaries.

          And those amazingly realistic gong sound effects from BiPM.

          Community building is what made the grass roots strong.

          That and a healthy sense of humor.

          •  I'm a pootie person myself (6+ / 0-)

            and I understand the value of a sense of humor. I'm a lifelong atheist and I still enjoy a good ghost story. The diarist did not appear to be joking.

            into the blue again, after the money's gone

            by Prof Haley on Fri May 13, 2011 at 12:27:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  For me (10+ / 0-)

              it has always been a matter of respecting personal differences and giving people a chance to express themselves without me stomping all over their efforts. Showing respect for people is important to me. More important than my opinions of the veracity of the stuff they believe in. Who the hell am I to judge anyone? Do I have all the answers? Do I need to ask dumb questions that require you to agree with me?  

              I often need to be reminded that I might be able to learn something if I'd just shut up.

              I don't believe in ghosts. But I've seen them.

              Rationality is not all it's cracked up to be.

              •  There is a limit to respecting personal difference (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Farlfoto, verdeo, pacotrey, BYw, Steve84

                How far do we go in respecting differences? When people are making decisions based on delusional superstitions, I have no reason to respect those decisions, nor do I have any reason to respect their decision making process.

                Would you respect someone's beliefs if they said an invisible sky man who talks to them in their head told them to blow up a building? Or told them that your child was the devil and had to be killed?

                You will argue that people who use religion to commit violence are extremists. I argue that belief in an invisible sky god demonstrates irrationality, reliance on superstition and a willingness to suspend your own independent measures of what's right and wrong. It's a slippery slope from friendly neighborhood religious person to fanatical. the foundation is the same.

                Religion breeds lack of critical thinking and lack of rationality.

                Quotable quote here.

                by beckstei on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:40:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  How freaking arrogant! It's such an absurd (5+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  loggersbrat, mapamp, HiBob, wishingwell, JDsg

                  misunderstanding of the human mind to think that any of us are immune to "making decisions based in superstitions." There's nothing more irrational than convincing yourself that human beings are rational. What was that you said about lack of critical thinking?

                  And, why are you invested in how people make their decisions if they are good ones? Why are you invested in what you imagine is in their head? If you're so much better than these people, then, y'know, prove it.

                  •  based in superstitions: true enough, sigh. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Steve84, Prof Haley, mapamp

                    We're all stuck with living in two different worlds. The physical one we can hope to understand rationally, even if often we don't always have enough information. The human one is different: our goals, the emotions they are based on, the decisions we make, the way we treat each other - very little of that is rational. And that's just fine: we almost never have enough information in the human world to prove anything, but still have to make thousands of decisions each day. Rational decisionmaking would be an iffy choice.

                    But the more people apply all of the shortcuts, logical fallacies, and gut feelings that get them through the day to how they view the physical world (and much more importantly, the more people impose those views on others), the  more things tend to get f@#$'d up.

                •  Am I my brother's psychiatrist? (6+ / 0-)

                  No.

                  Back to Zappa:

                  Do what you want, do what you will
                  Just don't mess up your neighbor's thrill

                  A lot of good stuff in the book of Frank.
                •  the more I see people invoke the pop-term (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Prof Haley, JDsg, mapamp

                  'invisible sky man' to go and denounce all religions and their adherents, the more I'm convinced that people who do this don't know a thing about religion.  Oh, yes, I'm aware that atheists can go around tossing bible quotes a thousand times more accurately than the most rigid fundamentalist...or that they know every single lexical tendency of the Yahwist or Elohic traditions found in the old testament....

                  but you know something?  so f*ing what?  you really don't understand religion much at all.

                  most religious people I know have a vague belief in something, very rarely are able to ariticulate what it is, may pray to it as tradition but only vaguely get the idea that anyone's actually listening, take the bible or whatever text as a bunch of parables that would be nice to believe, perhaps, perhaps not but upon reflection don't take these things at face value...

                  This 'Magic Sky Fairy' crap has got to stop....it's becoming a bunch of Richard Dawkins cult followers who magically reduce the complexities of religion into a single, ridiculous catch phrase.

                  You, and the hordes of people on this site who think and act the same way, need to grow up, learn to respect others, and figure out what you're fighting against and why you're so angry all the time.

                  •  As it happens (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mapamp

                    this

                    most religious people I know have a vague belief in something, very rarely are able to ariticulate what it is, may pray to it as tradition but only vaguely get the idea that anyone's actually listening, take the bible or whatever text as a bunch of parables that would be nice to believe, perhaps, perhaps not but upon reflection don't take these things at face value...
                    is exactly what I meant by the kind of religion that gets no air-time. Thank you.

                    I agree that "what do you think is real?" is a provocative question, but if the subject is doing magic, is it an unfair one?

                    into the blue again, after the money's gone

                    by Prof Haley on Fri May 13, 2011 at 09:15:47 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I do think that people who directly call on (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Prof Haley, mapamp

                      what you're considering 'magic'--things like an obvious invocation for God to help them score a touchdown, or save a sick relative (ignoring the fact that the other guy's praying for the same touchdown or that countless others may lose their sick relatives) --aren't paying much attention to reality.

                      But these aren't the people who I generally find myself close to--I'm Jewish, secular in practice, although there is some degree of a belief in God at some vague level within many (not all) members of my family---although none of us really proclaims to have any idea what that God might be, or if it's paying any attention to the universe at all...  I mean..if we DID, we'd be terrified all the time.  

                      Most people I know who profess to a religion just coast along, get the presents, celebrate the holidays, and acknowledge that they don't know (or care) what's out there, since it's not attainable at this point...(and probably never will be)

                    •  also.... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Prof Haley, mapamp

                      a lot of people here think that prayer is just that...magical thinking...asking for things...

                      But it's also communality...shared cultural practices....music....spirituality in the sense that everybody in the room is for a few moments looking outside of themselves...even if they're not REALLY looking TO a god, or REALLY asking for things...

                      it's very powerful, and although I now only go to services maybe once or twice every 2-3 years....I find it very meaningful.

                      I don't give a rat's ass if anyone's actually listening, though.

                      •  The rituals (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        bevenro, mapamp

                        really resonate with some people. Makes them feel better and maybe even act better. Cool. I was exposed a different set [Lutheran and Methodist], and never much wanted what it offered. I still do all right.

                        I appreciate your time.

                        into the blue again, after the money's gone

                        by Prof Haley on Fri May 13, 2011 at 09:59:28 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  last point before I crash... (3+ / 0-)

                          I'm an archaeologist---specialising in the Bronze Age (so let's say 2000 BC ish)...

                          the fact that I'm participating in traditions that have their roots that far back absolutely floors me every time I think of it.  I've been to Israel once...it was the history and the archaeology of the place...that and the connection of three religions in one perennially sacred city...that got me.  For some  it's the religious experience---I'm not religious so for me it's the antiquity, and the continuity of humanity.  

                          But it's different for everyone, and I fully respect that many people don't feel any connection to religion at all.  I would say that most of my closest friends consider themselves atheists..although I tend to yell at the one or two that try to go on anti-religious tirades...it doesn't accomplish much and it's often the product of not fully understanding the spectrum of feelings/sentiments/practices that falls under 'religion'.

                          Good discussing the topic w/you---have a good night!

                •  and there was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Prof Haley, mapamp

                  Jr.  who was very religious and the civil rights movement which had its beginnings in the black churches.    

                  And I would dare say he was a visionary and very realistic and very practical.  

                  So I always stop short of painting with too broad a brush. As some religious people have been active in equal rights like the abolitionists, many of the suffragettes and the civil rights movements not just in this country but around the world.  

                  Yes religion has always stifled equal rights, tolerance and slowed us down but not all.

    •  Thoughts - definitions (11+ / 0-)

      I am wondering about your use of "anti-theist" as opposed to "non-theist" which I often use myself. Maybe I am splitting hairs. I consider myself to be "not religious" but not against religion. I think religious texts are historical and educational but I don't feel the spiritual aspect or follow a "religion".

      I believe I can establish a personal code of ethics - be it from literature or from sitting under a tree. It is the thoughtfulness and ongoing searching to better understand my individual role as part of the whole that is my task.

      Thoughts?

      •  I think the author understands the distinction (12+ / 0-)

        atheist: someone who does not believe in the divine.

        non-theist: someone who does not believe in a god, but does accept a divine nature to the universe.

        anti-theist: someone who does not believe in the divine and insists that you don't either.

        Harboring resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

        by The Red Pen on Fri May 13, 2011 at 08:29:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Seeing as we ared defining things (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp, peachcreek, BYw

          I am going to split hairs here:

          atheist: someone who does not believe in the divine.

          This is incorrect. An Atheist may believe this, but that's not the point.

          An Atheist is simply someone who doesn't believe in the assertion that there is a God

          What they may or may not believe beyond that isn't relevant.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          by twigg on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:10:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  To pick at the picking at... (5+ / 0-)

            "a-theist" means "without-" or "no-" "-god."

            The Jains (now there's a religion) affirm the existence of gods. And then they studiously refuse to worship them. They, somewhat like most Buddhists, see the gods as other beings on the wheel of existence, caught up in their own shit, and in some ways at a disadvantage to humans.

            But the path that Jainism teaches is one in which one escapes existence and enjoys an entirely blissful and totally apart existence. Unlike Buddhism, it's not nirvana, one is not erased or subsumed.

            Atheistic? Uh, no, they believe in gods. Well, unless one means it to mean that they are without/uninvolved with gods.
            Non-theistic... probably... maybe. They, as a religion, are without any relationship to god(s). But they aren't denying the existence of the divine.

            The problem is that you/we are caught up trying to use theological tools from the Western tool chest, which is fervently monotheistic (or fervently a-monotheistic). The categories don't fit.

            I think the coinage (fairly recent) of anti-theist is an excellent one. One might say that the term aptly labels those who some have called 'fundamentalist atheists' in the past (making some people apoplectic...).

            "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

            by ogre on Fri May 13, 2011 at 05:56:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  atheist: someone who does not believe (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bevenro, mapamp, peachcreek

          in the divine.

          Where did you get that from? What does it mean? What does it mean to accept the divine nature of the universe?

          We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

          by denise b on Fri May 13, 2011 at 03:02:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  that raises a whole other point... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp, BYw, shaggies2009

          what does anyone mean by 'divine'?

        •  Anti-thiest doesn't mean intolerant. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Steve84, Recall

          It means that we believe that theism has a negative overall impact on society and that the future of humanity is enhanced by the end of religion.

          It means that we hope to wake up one day and say, "I am glad I live in a secular society."

          No I don't believe that any means necessary are acceptable or beneficial.

          Environmentalists are anti-global warming denialists. That means that they are advocating against an ideology, but that is not the same as being intolerant.  

          God is the problem, not the solution.

          by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri May 13, 2011 at 08:37:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  non-theist: the term isn't so limited (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp, The Red Pen

          Nontheism

          is a term that covers a range of both religious[1] and nonreligious[2] attitudes characterized by the absence of — or the rejection of — theism or any belief in a personal god or gods. Invented originally as a synonym for secularism (see below), it has become an umbrella term for summarizing various distinct and even mutually exclusive positions united by a naturalist approach, such as agnosticism, skepticism, and atheism. It is in use in the fields of Christian apologetics and general liberal theology. It is sometimes used synonymously with the term atheism.
      •  Splitting Hairs (10+ / 0-)

        I think The Red Pen did pretty well stepping in for me while I was out buying cheeses.

        I do dabble in linguism and etymology and I've ranted on occasion about the incorrect definition of atheism excluding the element of active disbelief. Taken apart to its Greek roots (filtered through French for the -ism) it literally means "A belief in no gods". the 'atheos' ('no gods') existed long before the French tacked an -isme on the end to make it a belief.

        I've long been a fan of Thomas Huxley and how he gently nudged believers of all stripes by inventing the term agnosticism for his belief that he didn't have enough evidence to know whether God existed or not.

        I kinda wish I was an agnostic. It seems so-- so rational.

        Oh well, I'm just a crazy cat.

        Anyway, I rather like your thoughts. Even a pedantic hair splitter like myself can' t do much more than just agree with you. Anti-theists have taken a stance of varying degrees of hostility towards what they see as religion. The only 'enemy' I see out there are people too timid or repressed to think for themselves. I've no problem with people who have found moral guidance in religion. I've found some good stuff in there too. I just worry about the people who stop thinking and accept clearly immoral acts such as killing and torture because some authority figure, occasionally with his hand on a holy book, tells them it's okay.

        Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

      •  yea, you're splittin hairs (0+ / 0-)
    •  If you open your mind too far (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brentut5, ricky57, Farlfoto

      your brains will fall out.

      Quotable quote here.

      by beckstei on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:31:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think you are a total chicken (0+ / 0-)

      shit for post a diary about me without warning me.

      For that alone I consider this diary a cheap shot.

      God is the problem, not the solution.

      by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri May 13, 2011 at 03:49:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh good! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mapamp

        No. I posted a reply to one of your comments at Fri May 13, 2011 at 11:26:15 AM CEST (uh, yeah that's this chickenshit's time zone and I got up at 3ish AM to check on this thing. Took me nearly an hour to read down to here) in which I stated quite clearly that:

        I've tossed some of my thoughts into a diary that may be shooting off the bottom of the recent diaries list soon. I'll post a link to it as a reply to this comment when I notice that someone has published it from the Street Prophets queue.
        and I did come back as promised and added the link when I got back from shopping today and noticed that the diary had been published. At the time the conversation here was just barely getting started.

        Probably Ojibwa moved it from the queue and added a comment-- the first I think, with the time shown as Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:36:20 PM CEST. Over 5 hours later.

        Hey, sorry if that doesn't consist of fair warning. Nowhere did I mention your username or write anything about you except for that mushy bit of praise at the end that I decided to leave in. I did link back to your comment that I took that quote from. Perhaps unfair of me but i do like to give credit when and where it's due. I figured that with me wanting to let Frank Zappa's band sing the really important parts it was stupid to just dump all that effort.

        Have you come to comment or would you like to give me your address and telephone number? I'm planning a trip to the US this summer.

        •  And all I sit is and look at my computer all day. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marko the Werelynx

          Wow you gave me five hours warning.

          That's very generous.

          In any case I have diary ready in response.

          What time would you like me to publish it tomorrow?

          I live on the west coast.

          God is the problem, not the solution.

          by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri May 13, 2011 at 08:27:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gee, sorry Sam (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JDsg, mapamp

            I've got things to do, places to go, people to play with. I can't plan my life around you. and you shouldn't bother to plan your life around me. I'm not worth it. Trust me.

            Go ahead and post. I can't promise anything. Maybe I'll stop by sometime next week to see how you're doing with your diary.

            "West coast" all right Portugal it is then. Know any good restaurants?

    •  Can't touch it. Will never be the same, and by (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Recall, Marko the Werelynx

      that I mean, me, not the "oh, lets' talk about religion on a blog"

      I may start another diary - actually I wish you - or someone else at SP, about where all my wounds come from, and I think where Sam (my opinion) gets his weaponry from.

      My misery started with a guy who said

      "Anyone who did not have faith would likely be a suicide victim".

      I often speak of suicide. I spoke of it that night that he mentioned it; the person who banned me from Street Prophets admonnished me that I 'cannot use suicide as a rhetorical threat', then she threatened to call the police on me (as she knew someone who knew my real name)

      Interesting: if it was rhetorical, nobody had any business calling the cops and acting on it as serious; if it was serious, they've got to answer to "G"od about how they could be that indifferent to a guy that close to the edge.

      Now, right there, you have the makings of all the misery you can want, and it's tangentially related to religion, but it's more related to how people treat each other and to what degree they have mutual respect.

      Talking with the man who said "all people have faith" was like talking to a pull-string doll that only responded in Chapter:Verse

      How's the weather, John?

      Chapter:Verse

      Do you favor the Giants or the Eagles, John?

      Chapter:Verse

      What's the weather like in your area, John?

      Chapter:Verse

      And so what got to me was a site that said we're all there to talk about things political with religious overtones, and whenever I opened my mouth a one-trick pony came riding in and stole the show. (I can show you the links; I can show you the emails he sent ot me personally insisting that we were great friends and that "conflict was healthy" - which is what he wrote in the wake of it all)

      That was demeaning to me; even before he got to the

      "all people without faith would likely be suicide victims"

      The suicide victims are the ones who are surrounded by people who figuratively and literally deny their existence as I see it; they only see others through the lens of their own perspective - which warps others into someone they are not whether they want to be that or not. It's dehumanizing; it denies others' existence unless that existence is created in the image of the ones who say there can be only One.

      Maybe god created man in his own image;

      I don't know, and I wish I lived a world that did not care.

      I was called a "fundamentalist", which proves to me they don't even have the chops to participate in the argument if they can't grasp the incongruity of that concept. There is no "fundamentalism" if there is no dogma to be fundamentally subject to; if there is no religon, no dogma, er go, no atheist can be a fundamentalits.

      We are faithful only to what can be proven.

      Religion, by it's nature, is the absense of proof - it supplants proof when none can be found, that's it's purpose to provide comfort in the lack of tangible explanations - and therefore atheists are not "anti" anything; we're just not on board with a boat we're not sure has proven it can float.

      Prove it floats, we'll get on board. No proof offered yet to sway me.

      People tell me that one cannot go forward without knowing where we came from. I say this is not true, and I can prove it in one move:

      If you awoke, naked and alone, on an island that after days of examination revealed that was uninhabited and unconnected to civilization, with no idea of how you got there, the answer to "where did I come from" is not only irrelevant to "where do I go now?" but may be a distraction.

      What breaks my back, literally, is people who live in this country under the very unbrella of freedom of thought provided by the government who then somehow insist that the law only protects their thought and everyone else is suspect or dangerous.

      That is the root of my angst towards the religious right; to that degree I agree with a lot of Sam Wise guy's tirades.

      On the other hand, I don't want to wind up bastardizing the definition of freedom in the same way that the Republicans/Chrisitans are right now -

      This country's Constitution and Bill of Rights can be boiled down to a very simple propisition:

      You are free to pursue your happiness, provided you show mutual respect and do not interrupt, trip, punch, beat, or shoot anyone else simply because they intend to pursue a different one.

      i see this country right now as taking a giant piss on the whole concept.

      I snapped at SP the night that someone posted a diary

      "Am I my wingnuts keeper" - to which the unequivocal answer in my never humble (and often worthless) opinion is

      "You better believe it"

      Why?

      Because if the atheists take on the faithful, it's game on, motherfucker, civil war. There is no equivocation in the minds of the Religious elites and Power elites who co-opt them because of their blind allegiance.

      So

      All I ever tried to do at SP, all I can do, all I have the right to do because it's all I have the credentials and the capacity to do, is report on how the world looks from inside my skull.

      If any faithful person of any religion would like to know why some atheists are so angry at them, I can give a few personal anecdotes about why one of us arrived at his current station in life.

      If the answer after telling my story is "well, you're wrong"

      then I did not need to tell the story, did I? If my own perspective is declared as "wrong", but I'm labeled a traitorous heathen bastard if I try to say that someone else is just as much a fool for finding faith in something I cannot see - well, then the idea of "pursuit of happiness" has been lost.

      If all our happiness are supposed to be along the same path, we would hardly need freedom to follow it.

      And this is my primary complaint about the monotheistic religons - they need a secular democracy to protect their individual worship; but the first thing they do with their freedom is hand it over to a dogma that limits it far more than any civil government ever could.

      All I ever tried to do is remind Street Prophets if they intend to be some kind of alternative to the Conservative Christian/Conservative Republican version of faith, ("Because the Right does not own faith") then they ought ot be wary of using the same tactics.

      I found one man who did use those tactics; he was belittling, condescending - and most of all cheerful - about it, and if the "ONE RULE" was

      "don't be a jerk, or a hater"

      What mattered in the end was the perspective of the judge.

      I thought someone treated me like a jerk

      and my reaction - personal, visceral, human, and very, very intense - was labled "hate" -

      which is a tragedy.

      Because that means that the next guy who comes along who says

      "hey, I think someone here is stepping on my windpipe, I cant' breathe"

      and the crowd/judges/rulers say

      "we think you should be able to breathe just fine, we don't think we're pushing too hard on you at all"

      the unfortunate bastard is going to suffocate.

      And what was worse than that -

      was (simply playing it out) if the guy actually did expire under the weight of the issue, even by his own hand - especially by his own hand -

      you know and I knwo the parties involved would have

      could have

      found absolution by only one path:

      "well, clearly he was sick when we found him, it wasn't our fault he was so vulnerable and wounded that it took so little to push him over the edge.

      ...he should have gotten 'help', and we told him to go get it"

      to which the jury might ask

      "but you felt no need to change your own behavior, as that seemed to be what he was reacting to at the time?"

      "surely no, for we knew we were right, and the other guy was wrong"

      "and therefore what happened was of no consequence to you?"

      "well, he was disrupting the community"

      "and therefore it was ok to ignore what disruption the whole matter was causing one individual?"

      That's the question I wish several people had to answer in front of "G"od and all these witnesses. Because based on what transpired, if another comes along, they'd play it the same way again and someone is going to see that as all the reason needed to just go through with it.

      I sleep troubled at night, but not for anything that happened at Street Prophets.

      It was nothing more than a pissing contest over who caused who more pain; the crowd wins at the expense of the loner; all for the collective good because individuals can be sacrificed for the "greater" purpose.

      I don't want to be

      if there is a god

      I would much rather have to answe rfor what i said those nights

      than what was said to me or done in my wake

      I'm not going to interfere with the SP group; I came to be a canary in the mine. Their plan is to go back up and get a stronger bird; until they're carrying an Emu down in the mine which won't drop until things are way past lethal even for the heartiest of humans.

      What SP suffered from that night is the same thing this site already suffers from - a lack of humanity.

      It cracked me up that when linkage posted some meta thoughts about coming back here, and indirectly referenced me, someone at SP in response said

      "Well, what I hate about Kos is that some people there need anger management training"

      WRong.

      I used to work for a company that said "lose your temper, lose your job"

      ...so all you really have to do is needle someone long enough and then you will quickly have the justification to fire them.

      Enough of that going on all over the country, the world, already.

      The interesting thing that I'd like to have someone start a discussion about (because I tried to do it here, I"ll link if you like, did not go well) is that excommunication never solves anything unless you eventually plan to eliminate those who won't stay down (or quiet) once they're outside the fence.

      Sooner or later, in any society, there will come a time when adversaries meet. They might need each other for some larger foe, or they might just be mortal enemies for life.

      And yet there was that time when they shared company; was it worth it to make enemies?

      By the way -

      I'm not an anti-theist

      I"m an anti-asshole-ist - and those who think I'm a stellar example of a gaping asshole myself should pay close attention, I'm reactive.

      I won't walk into a church and tell all the kids and grandma that "G"od is a fraud; but if anyone (even the kids and grandma) get up in my face and tell me I'm going to "H"ell just because they know and that's the best I got, I'm not going to be polite so I can go home and feel like shit by people who think they're better than me.

      I don't have faith. I may write a diary about what really started the war between me and JCHF, and then point out how a select few, Schuyler, Danish Brethren all sold out their higher-ground arguments when they cut into me just as deeply as anything I was guilty of.

      It hurt, and they were sure they earned the privilege or the right to ignore the pain I felt.

      Still feel.

      Feel right now, as a matter of fact.

      I don't have faith.

      And as of yet, I haven't committed suicide.

      Give me time, I'm not sure I won't find a reason - which won't have a goddamn thing to do with faith.

      And so it goes.

      I'll paypal a dollar to anyone who actually read this.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Sat May 14, 2011 at 07:23:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hey, for what it's worth (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snafubar, paxpdx

        and you can find better uses for that dollar than giving it to me--

        I really like what you've written here. I wasn't there for the blow up that got your SP account blocked and I've been through that diary since then and was left wondering where the meat was. The argument got a bit heated and personal sure. But something worth banning? Nah.

        We all need to take a break from the blog now and then. Like me! I'll pound this out and get back to work.

        I think your voice belongs in places like Street Prophets I just wish more people with religion problems would frame their questions in diaries like you did over in SP. And then deal with the hard headed chapter:verse types as best you can. Often they can be simply ignored.

        Too many people come to places like SP looking for a fight and not answers so the people on the receiving end of those attacks get defensive-- even overly defensive. It helps to get to know who you're dealing with a bit before judging them and most drive-by atheists aren't interested in meeting people and learning about what they believe in. People see the triggering signs of derision even if there was no such thing intended. Not easy to pick up a conversation when you're being put down. And skillful written communication is not exactly a strong trait of most Americans.

        Oh, and anyone who quotes Vonnegut maybe should think twice before becoming an "anti-asshole-ist". Vonnegut* was one of my favorite assholes.

        •  I quote Vonnegut because of the existential (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marko the Werelynx

          brutality of that one line

          And so it goes.  

          All ties in with the suicide, actually.

          And so it goes.

          Until that moment it doesnt.

          anyone who wants to take on the issue by using standard tactics as were used on me has got a real problem if they really want to explain to "G"od what they were doing that night.

          30,000 people a year - a number that's surreal in a country of 315 million, is about in between the number of accidents and homicides - take their own life.

          that's almost 100 every day.

          "get help" is too fucking easy, if - at the moment someone says that line - they are in fact engaged with the person who is so despondent, so angry.

          It's as if one might come across a person sinking in quicksand, and as the mouth of the victim is about to go beneath, the passerby says,

          "I'll be sure to tell someone I saw you, but my involvement here is not an option because I'm sure I can't help, and I"m sure I'm not the one pulling you under"

          Vonnegut was an asshole - but ne never did it for sport;

          he never tortured people just for the look on the other guys face.

           Not in real life.

          And as far as I'm aware, he never declared anything he wrote to be beyond reproach; never declared that he himself was beyond question, nor did he act so aloof and inured to the reaction to his work.

          That's a different beast altogether.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Sun May 15, 2011 at 02:05:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The asshole within (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            paxpdx, snafubar, linkage

            Yeah, Vonnegut had a lovely sense of self-deprecating humor. I've still got too many gaps in my Vonnegut collection.

            There should be a DK4 group for the survivors of religious abuse. Looking around this place sometimes I think it would be a good thing to do. So much crap that people have to deal with. I don't even know. Are there any atheist/anti-theist groups here?

            Some of the people you bashed heads with at SP are the same ones I've found myself reacting to out of anger. You never know how to take some of their comments. And I really try to hold back my own bullshit because I see how the passive/aggressive comments just stir the septic tank.

            I don't know what to say to you about the suicide crap. I'm just a glob of pixels on your monitor. If you want to drag yourself out of the crap pit then do it. I'm not your call for help. I'm not going to toss some bullshit motivational speech at you. But if you need to just vent here and know that maybe only I will come back sometime to read what you've written-- then, well yeah, I'll come back and read what you've written. Can't promise I'll always reply. But I'm thinking about you today.

            Gotta get back to work.    

            •  Building more groups is not an answer (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Marko the Werelynx

              that only sequesters like minds to commune with themselves and think everything is fine; build walls with concertina wire over the top, napalm in the trenches to be set on fire if anyone tries to come over.

              I just wrote a diary that the groups idea of DK4 is the dumbest thing since segregated schools.

              Of of the quieter members of SP said to me that SP was supposed to be a

              "safe place" for people of faith

              You tell me what that even means.

              So they can say whatever they want to, about, and in the midst of the people they are talking about and pretend that nobody would react to it if they actually said it in real life?

              Isn't that our current problem?

              Everyone in this country is - within some little group - wanting the world outside the group to look like the world inside their little group.

              Look around you - me - us

              This country is a joke- everyone thinks "freedom" means that everyone is free to look/walk/talk/think as the people shouting "freedom Hoo Ah" look/walk/talk/think, and there was in 1789 nor is there now (in their mind) any reason to do anything other than that in 2011.

              We are a living contradiction, everyone running around screaming "united we stand", "We're the greatest country in the world" and the next words out of their mouth are to talk shit about all the other people in their great country who aren't doing exactly what they are doing.

              And the religious? Well, they have special dispensation.

              They have "permission" from someone/something we cannot see, hear, talk to or petition to - except in our own heads.

              I've tried to talk to Jesus.

              Bastard won't answer my calls.

              I'm crying out to him now - see? Silence.

              Surely he knows the IP address and could intervene in this conversation - being "L"ord god and all.

              There should not be a group for survivors of religious abuse. One would think in a society of upright walking hominds wtih opposible thumbs and a huge pre-frontal cortex that we would be cogent enough not to abuse our own like the "lesser" animals would.

              There ought to be a some measure of "G"od's omnipotence that he would have better message control amongst his people - if the Christians are right, 5/6 of the world got the wrong memo, and of the 1/6 that heard the call, heard about 387 different versions of it.

              For an omnipotent power, he seems to have lost some of his mojo.

              I'm kind of a one-trick pony myself; I'll be polite until I smell bullshit and then I call "bullshit" at the top of my lungs.

              People who believe in "G"od can impugn my motives, insult what I see as the most sacred thing in the world, and then still claim they are a persecuted minority when 9 out of 10 people in America say they believe in something close to what they do.

              Gotta love that.

              Well...

              But if I say "I don't believe in "G"od," I've interfered with someone else's freedom of religion by insulting their faith; and have made myself a target of derison, or even a plausible threat.

              To say I feel threatened being outnumbered 9 to 1 - well, now I'm a crybaby and still an asshole who would surely be happy if realized all I have to do is follow their plan.

              That's too easy.

              Sure wish I could get a deal like that.

              And meanwhile - the "G"od that is supposed to protect them even in foxhole - when some little mortal asshole like me sets their hair on fire - seems to make Psalm 23:4 more like a joke than evidence of how much strength and comfort it gives.  

              No, Marko - read my diaries at SP - particularly the one Titled

              "How to build an atheist in two hours"

              I told them what ruined my life

              and they decided they'd do one better, they'd string mine out over five months and then blame it on me for telling them it hurt.

              ... then after it was over have a "healing" ceremony for THEMSELVES

              .

              I"m tired of such vicious victims.

              I will not play in their sandbox, and you can quote me.

              All that judment stuff they preach is part of their program, not mine. They think they're going to explain all of that and be told by St Peter it was a noble, righteous, and Christian thing to do.

              Any religion that could masturbate someone like that is nothing I want to be a part of .

              You should quote my question as to what any one of them would have said that night if Logersbrat's call to my house went unanswed.

              And now Rain, queen of quilts, needs one for herself. I wish her well, but I will say this to her face if she invites herself into my affairs again (I will not address her unless invited)

              and what I'm about to say is probably goign to get me banned from here because she's such a lauded figure

              Her email to me offering to make me a quilt in the wake of the banning was in my gut nothing  different than a parent who beat the shit out of their kid and then offered to buy him a new bike if he'll smile before grandma and grandpa show up for thanksgiving.

              their playground rules are all kinds of fucked up.

              My misery in real life started on a playground, and that's a whole different story.

              Street Prophets taught me that it's the ones who say "come on in" who are the ones who will drain every ounce of spirit in me and insist it's my fauilt I'm empty because I can't find theirs.

              They have to answer to "G"od for that shit.

              me, when I die, I'm just gonna die.

              I should quote what Schuyler said to Recall - he was absolutely unconditionally WRONG in how he took what Recall said to him, any kindergarten teacher would have told him so - Recall was not insulting him, but Schulyler shti all over atheists and said Recall had "colored his judgmenet towards atheists from that point forward.

              Danish Brethren called me a terrorist and said I was holding the group "hostage".

              It's one thing to be smart enough not to play with the kids who don't play fair.

              It's another planet altogether when the kids act like victims.

              do with this what you wil.

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Sun May 15, 2011 at 12:29:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No badmouthing Schuyler on my account. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Marko the Werelynx
                I should quote what Schuyler said to Recall - he was absolutely unconditionally WRONG in how he took what Recall said to him, any kindergarten teacher would have told him so - Recall was not insulting him, but Schulyler shti all over atheists and said Recall had "colored his judgmenet towards atheists from that point forward.

                It was a simple misunderstanding, and we cleared it up.

                •  Happy for you both (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Marko the Werelynx

                  but what he said is still there to read, there's no apology or hint therein where he posted it

                  There was an exchange between him and myself as a result of his remarks about you, at that time he and I had words, there was no suggestion it was all smoothed over and he surely did not take back what he said, so regardless of whatever peace you made he surely felt no need to back down from whatever he felt at the time he addressed me.

                  Fair enough?

                  and now we see there are complications in banning people who can't participate but who can still read what turned it all to mud in the first place.

                  George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                  by snafubar on Mon May 16, 2011 at 06:56:26 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Hey Marko, I'm going to give you a place (0+ / 0-)

              to start that, if you read my current writings as of this moment you'll note they are

              ... eerily simliar to what I wrote the night the shit hit the fan

              Youve got major control issues (2+ / 0-)

              If I were to participate in the same thread again, I would not change much of anything

              and that may have some bearing on our problem

              (apologies to Richard Feynman; not sure if you get the reference) .

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Sun May 15, 2011 at 04:10:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  One more thing, Marko - I think it's worth having (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Marko the Werelynx

              an entire discussion on this one rather peculiar, almost surreal detail about my time at SP

              They banned me

              but not once in three years did anyone ever use the tools available at hand to hide/troll rate one comment.

              not one.

              Dont' use the tools at hand, but go for the nuclear option when it all went wrong.

              The more I read this whole mess, the more I'm still not willing to apologize for any of it. There's a strange dichotomy about keeping peace in the community but utterly forsaking what peace one person in that community might have had.

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Sun May 15, 2011 at 04:32:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Just got my work sent out (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                snafubar

                If this isn't very coherent it's because I'm pinging off the walls on caffeine after being awake for too long. Just after 2:30 AM here.

                At least I'd like to blame any incoherence on something other than my goofy brain.

                Anyway, I haven't had a chance to get back to the diary you mentioned above for a read yet. My eyeballs will stare at this screen for just a few more minutes before i start going crosseyed.

                Freelance illustration is a bizzare way to make a living.

                I don't get the ban either. I seem to remember you and I trading a few comments back at SP. No idea what line you're supposed to have crossed.

                Oh well, I'd kinda thought that my idea of a group where victims of abuse could more easily find each other in this huge orange mess would have been some comfort. But I think your thoughts on groups are rather insightful. You're most kind to call "bullshit" on my suggestion of a group. That rather goes completely against my diary. Ah, the joys of the herd mentality-- Ba-a-a-a-a! Unfortunately, when people meet with hostile outsiders they usually don't just wrap them in a warm hug, they cower in tight little groups and beat the intruders with sticks and the occasional Bible quote. The same way you and I hate having Bible quotes tossed at us I think the religious folk of SP see demands of "evidence" and "proof" and the Dawkins quotes similarly. It's just one asshole bashing another asshole with nonsense. If we ever want to learn anything about what these non-fundamentalist folks really believe we need to know how to avoid the atheistic version of Bible quotes. Someone like my ol' inspirational buddy here comes along and in the middle of a sleepy little diary that asks people to come inside and offer their prayers and good thoughts, and indeed their problems starts asking the same bloody stupid "What is prayer?" crap. And then get's pissed off and spouts insults when someone politely directs him to ask his question in the open thread diary. Not exactly opening hearts and minds to the joys of free thought.

                That approach just drives people to dig trenches; form groups, us versus them.

                Do I go around bashing children for being ignorant? Do I hate the mentally ill for having an imbalanced brain?

                I don't think anyone is looking for an apology from you. I thought linkage made it plain that the SP crowd is willing to give everybody a fresh start if they want to try and deal with the diverse, jittery crowd again. You can't let the past eat up the present.

                Am I still lucid? Was I ever lucid?

                Anyway, I'll go back and read the whole mess from start to finish just to let it eat up my present for sheer curiosity's sake. But I think I could sleep until Tuesday. By the end of the week I should have slogged through it all.

                If you're more comfortable chatting about what's on your mind in this musty old diary I suppose we can do that still. But don't diaries cut off new comments after a certain period of time? You can post me a personal message via my profile page if you want. Anyway, there's more from your latest comments that I'd like to mull over and perhaps write to you about but right now I think I'm hitting the wall.

                Oof, and if my client needs any changes done I'll be back working in a couple of hours.

                •  re: timing of comments (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Recall

                  Each comment has a day or two window; independent of the diary I believe.

                  You can always use the new message system.

                  I basically have one billboard at this point:

                  I have a wound. A still open wound.

                  Telling me to "get over it", or "it's in the past" is too goddamn easy; particularly - especially - if anyone has the chops or the courage to admit what thoughts were coursing through my veins that night.

                  That's why it's not over.

                  It' snot about me, it's about the idea that the next guy who comes along who's anything like me may just say "go for it", and I want an answer

                  I want an answer

                  from those who wash their hands and blame it on the other guy.

                  I would at least like to bring back to life the exchange between Recall and Schulyer, because if Schuyler were a lawyer in a court of law, the judge would have thrown him out for intellectual bankruptcy if not also sought to have the bar association yank his license.

                  I'm either going to be one of two things:

                  A flamethrower with a giant mirror and all the evidence at my disposal until I get the answer I (and any sober adult with a hint of objectivity) can see is clear

                  OR

                  A wounded witch, forced to wear a scold's bridle as I sit idly by whilst everyone else chats incessantly about thing that I was once forbidden by my banning to address, and now am still unable to touch because it will only lead to being accused of whatever they think I was guilty of before.

                  In a sentence, Marko, whether or not I ever engage with any of the Street Prophets, two things are true: The past may indeed be the past, but it belongs to and cannot be taken from those who don't want to let it go

                  and it's not some fault of mine or some deficiency in my character that won't let it go. The hypocrisy of the whole thing stands on it's own.

                  I won't interfere with them, I won't bring it up, but they will not erase my life so they can cover their sickening hypocrisy and chilling inhumanity.

                  That is theirs to answer for, not mine.

                  This is all I have to say on the matter.

                  George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                  by snafubar on Sun May 15, 2011 at 07:27:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Why don't you ask them? (0+ / 0-)
                  I don't get the ban either. I seem to remember you and I trading a few comments back at SP. No idea what line you're supposed to have crossed.
                  Unfortunately, when people meet with hostile outsiders they usually don't just wrap them in a warm hug, they cower in tight little groups and beat the intruders with sticks and the occasional Bible quote.

                  There are many places out there that handle outsiders without resorting to the siege mentality that you see at SP.

                  •  I probably will (0+ / 0-)

                    sometime write a note to some of the people involved asking them what they remember of snafubar's banning. But I really want to go over the posts myself first. I can see how having the questions coming from a fuzzy insider like myself would give them greater weight. My brain however has some scrap of a "...was just given a week time out." or something like that comment floating around and I'm wondering if it was connected to this mess. I need to go back over the meta myself before I ask questions.

                    Thing with ol' SP is that we seem to expect an awful lot from new members. I came there as an openly atheist poser of questions but without the demented demands for empirical evidence that are actually offensive to so many people who are trying to hold tightly to a wispy, ethereal, mutable sense of something spiritual that they've only themselves begun to really explore. People trying out new labels for themselves are fragile. And SP draws all kinds of malcontents. Say what you like about it's own problems of intolerance it is a world away from the ever brewing crock o' crap that you find here on Big Orange. Anybody for a rousing Hilary Clinton diary? Maybe we'll head over to troll a Trans diary later eh?

                    Anyway, after some SLEEP and FOOD I will put on my deerstalker cap and tuck my meerschaum pipe between my fangs and get some answers. 'By hook or by crook my dear Watson...'

                    •  What amuses me, saddens me, enrages me (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Marko the Werelynx

                      are comments from the Christians here at Kos is about how sacred and precious their faith is, and they can't understand how anyone could be such an asshole as to say anything bad about it in the first place -

                      sacred, being...you know, sacred and all.

                      To which I ask a simple question:

                      Why is it NOT just as sacred that I be allowed to hold a view that says the universe has no Gods, and therefore why is it NOt just as offensive to me to suggest that I have character flaws, I am to be treated with suspicion if not outright contempt or presumed guilt, simply because I did the exact same thing as they did

                      (excercised my freedom of thought)

                      but came up with a different conclusion.

                      On this simple matter alone, it can be argued that most heavyweight Christians don't really want a Democracy on theological issues; they ostensibly want a theocracy but only when the government picks the same religion that they would have picked and enforces the rules as they would.

                      And the complexity never occurs to them that even in their own camp - amongst the Christians themselves - they can't agree on much more than they have the courage to admit.

                      Which is why our founders said "government can't touch this; we could not find a law anyone could agree on, except to say that laws shall not be used to enforce or prohibit matters where religion is involved"

                      And that is where the Christian Right has bastardized the whole concept

                      and where the religious Left is guilty for not being the biggest fist in their face to stop them.

                      Marko - the reason I'm not willing to take this to SP (the group) is that only a fool stands out in the rain and pretends they wont' get wet. The people I need to reach, the people who i address in my comments are precisely the people who have proven by their past interactions to offer no equivocation, no opportunity for flexibilty.

                      They see me as a provocateur, an antagonist purely out to bash religion (Danish Brethren)

                      TO try to convince him that it was dickhead comments of his own that completely justified every ounce of anger I ever displayed -

                      is pointless. He finds something that gives him absolution; he just KNOWS atheists are rotten people out to trash religion for sport, and if there are people of religion (never him, of course) that trash atheists for sport - well, that's not his problem and he really doesn't care where I get my angst from - he just wants me to leave.

                      That he had to come up with a NEW label for me - "anti-theist" - is all I need to say he's the one who needs to put down his flamethrower. I will not wear labels that other people put on me and then take shit for things I never said just because he was to fucking bullheaded to listen to what I did say in the first place.

                      So he's ok, as are others, with why I'm either depressed or enraged; they take no ownership for the way their faith is used like a cudgel by others because they themselves did not hold it (although they did in the end but can't see it) and they simply say that what others do that hurts meis not their responsibility. That they did it as well - they're blind in the presence of a mirror so they can sleep at night.

                      So no matter how pissed or depressed I get, it's never their religion to blame, surely never the way they use it.  

                      And that

                      is why this will never end.

                      When I hurt somebody, I can't deny it and I have (being a pragmatist and logical pedant) know that I'm to blame for all that I say or do; when they hurt someone else they simply look down at the badges and medals on their shirt and see

                      "Faithful, Christian"

                      ...then look in the rule book which says

                      "Faith and Christendom redeems and forgives, therefore there are no hurtful people who are of faith or Christianity. Blame the victim for thin skin, our knives are simply not sharp enough to harm anyone"

                      Bullshit.

                      I'll jump on any atheist who's being a dickhead for the sake of celebrating dicks; because I don't like taking shit for their behavior when I can hardly handle all I get for my own.

                      Either way, I'm gonna leave this thread now and go back to my life.

                      The truth will be left to haunt those who think they have such a tight grip on it, that grip making sure they never see that some things like me just squeezed past in their tenacity.

                      They'll build more of me, more like me, and then still stand around scratching their asses in shocked disbelief - shocked, I tell you - insisting that they can't understand where all the hositility comes from.

                      And so it goes.

                      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

                      by snafubar on Mon May 16, 2011 at 06:49:03 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I would like to believe you ... (0+ / 0-)

                      ... but it's hard when I check out SP and see that you've said stuff like this about us:

                      But at the same time this is a public forum, and because we park our soapboxes out on the Street there are bound to be a few hecklers and malcontents that wander past. Occasionally we find ourselves getting rudely shoved off our own soapbox by someone who has so much pain and frustration to deal with that it has to come out in a scream.

                      I'm talking writing about the occasional victim of religious abuse, the hard road converts to atheism, who come here bolstered by Richard Dawkins quotes and a few drinks shared with Christopher Hitchens. I think they're looking for compensation and a chance to belittle some people who happen to share a meaningless label with the bastards that caused so much pain and despair. They do see us (and yeah, that includes fuzzy-headed atheists tanked on catnip brownies) as enablers of the abuse. It's blind anger. A demon called 'Religion' has become the source of the pain for them. And while we sit back and nibble at our biscotti and slurp lattes they sit and fume and rage over our indifference, our casual neglect, our inability to dash our steaming mugs in the faces of the twisters of faith and ram our biscotti right up Becky Fisher's unholy sphincter.

                      Lately I've found myself confronted by and confronting a few atheists who felt that SP is not all that it claims to be. And I have noticed a change especially since Prophets like pastordan and Wolfie have left. Stories about how the many religions of the world get used by opportunists to feed a variety of horrendous sins are almost entirely lacking now on SP. I hope that with the move to Orange, once we have girded our armor to face the hordes, we'll feel strong enough to use our visibility to speak out against the amoral, self-aggrandizing villains who hide behind religious labels.

                      •  And? (0+ / 0-)

                        How have I played anyone false here?

                        That's how I see it at this point. Everyone involved is just another stupid human being and if Rain got so pissed off by snafubar's incessant challenges and his degrading personal assaults (deserved or not deserved is not the point!) I can't really disagree with her for blocking the account. I've had my share of fights with Prophets but I have the sense to stop replying when I find myself reacting out of anger and not reason. The same assholes* who yell the loudest about reason and rationality always come across as the batshit craziest of the whole loony bin. And yeah, we're all crazy. Our brains are a bit too much controlled by fish and lizard. The lack of troll ratings is explained by most Prophets being very slow to pass out punishment. The few who snafubar had so many problems with are people that I have had problems with too and yet we seem to be able to have a heated argument, even over abortion bullshit, and remain within the realm of showing some respect and not letting the conversation fall into personal attacks and pathetic insults. And when people get personal and stupid they should disengage. If they won't shut up and try a different tactic they deserve a forced time out. No crackers and juice for you today Timmy. One of my favorite Prophets, the old once 'Pagan' now 'Christian' Werewolf himself was banned by Rain when he started stalking and pestering another Prophet just because her church had apparently, once upon a time, promoted some rather homophobic and harmful policies. Any cries of hypocrisy should be faced with the fact that when a founding member of SP went off the deep end all he got were donuts-- and banned.

                        It says a lot about the people on SP that despite the obvious scorn and bile that was being spewed once the anger started that everyone held back their troll ratings and let it go. Perhaps some of them felt some measure of guilt by association for that anger.  Until Rain apparently decided that it had gone too far and called for the fight to stop.  

                        When somebody insults me my response is not to get angry and insult them back. What does that solve? I don't personally know most of the people I'm commenting with here and I'm not going to read all sorts of stuff into their comments. When people do that you get the pie fights that get people banned. It's all too easy for someone to trip the triggers. Anti-theists are hardly an exception. The whole damn world is out to sneak God under their tin-foil helmets. It's the paranoia and the persecution complexes that come out in the arguments. Nobody steps back to say "gee, that hurt but from the way he's coming at this it was meant to be helpful or even a joke". Like all the dark suicide bullshit above; folks wallowing in depression need to get help or should kick their own asses back into the cold, cruel world again if they're strong enough-- and flexible enough. I figure most of us are semi-illiterate anyway and what we write is often pretty far removed from the thoughts we are trying to express.

                        I think snafubar wouldn't have felt so hurt if there hadn't been so many supportive voices at SP. Look at this exchange too. Both filled with praise for snafubar and agreement to his comments until he goes off on some bullshit tirade because of some perceived insult. I'd have laughed at DB's "Feelings aren't facts..." comment. He posts all kinds of bitsy comments like that that set my teeth a gnashing. But I can see that comment as a joke. It's a wry poke at the constant theist/atheist battle between facts, rationality and faithy feelingy stuff. A joke! And an insightful joke no less. And when one of his strongest supporters tries to point out a bit of a double standard in snafubar's own thinking she gets the "Good night Gracie" dismissal from him. With snafubar it seems this is the fallback position-- someone writes something that was perhaps insensitive or just plain ignorant or even insulting and then it's attack, attack, attack, keep it personal and dismissive to make your point seem stronger shit that no forum has any pressing need to encourage. Snafubar posted many well written and deeply insightful comments, he was active in the open threads and showed interest in being a part, a strong part of the SP community. But when you can't laugh off a perceived slight, when you can't give someone the benefit of the doubt, when you can't admit that you might have misread something, when you can't take a breath and hit the backspace key and write it again without the anger and insults-- then you shouldn't expect your comments to be welcomed.

                        And that's my opinion from what I've learned of this matter so far.

        •  I've had many people say similar things to me. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marko the Werelynx
          I really like what you've written here. I wasn't there for the blow up that got your SP account blocked and I've been through that diary since then and was left wondering where the meat was. The argument got a bit heated and personal sure. But something worth banning? Nah.

          No one was ever willing to say challenge said bannings in public, though.

  •  Hey, Marko - (11+ / 0-)

    A good, thoughtful diary.  

    Not that you produce anything else unless you're bouncing through trying to make us laugh.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Fri May 13, 2011 at 07:58:09 AM PDT

  •  Zappa and Christ! (7+ / 0-)

    What a great diary.

  •  Thaks for this (8+ / 0-)

    People like Pat Robertson are usually wrong.  About everything.  We know this.

    Why is it that people who know this give him credit for understanding Christianity?  If Michele Bachman announced that the sky way blue, we'd double-check the claim, but if she makes some claim about what's Christian, many of us are more than happy to use that characterization as if it had authority.

    I don't get it.

    Harboring resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

    by The Red Pen on Fri May 13, 2011 at 08:33:55 AM PDT

    •  Always question authority (5+ / 0-)

      Political parties and clubs and religions all too often just pool people together to allow the scum to rise to the top.

    •  i think it's because (5+ / 0-)

      so much of the anger against Christianity that we see lately arises from its misuse by figures like Robertson/Bachmann...

      So they really do become authorities on their BRAND of teh religion, which is really what we're up against (not religion in general as some  people here often seem to think)

      I mean...most of us arent going off (too much) on the local Sunday School play or church bake sale or passover seder with the friends or your local Muslim youth group/softball game.

      •  Yeah, I know :( (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mapamp

        I wish there was a way to address this co-opting of Christianity (and other religious traditions).  I try to explain it to people, but get frustrated quickly as they are more interested in expressing their outrage than listening to nuanced details.

        It's one way in which the left reflects the worst of the right.

        Harboring resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

        by The Red Pen on Sat May 14, 2011 at 12:00:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I was watching all the Newt Gingrich crap... (19+ / 0-)

    In one TV spot from last year, he was decrying "gay and secular fascism".  

    And now his latest book is titled, "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine."

    This piece-of-shyte adulterer has the temerity to wrap himself in God.  And to point fingers and call us the worst names possible.

  •  I think... (18+ / 0-)

    ...I might be an apatheist.

    Unlike Theists, Agnostics, Atheists, etc, the unique feature of an Apatheist is that if it were possible to prove that God exists, their beliefs and behavior would not change. Similarly, there would be no change if someone proved that God does not exist.

    That is, I'm trying to seek wisdom, wherever the search leads me, and to live in accordance with the results of that search. From the tradition of my childhood:

    We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

    Thanks for the great post, Marko.

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Fri May 13, 2011 at 09:42:44 AM PDT

    •  Apatheist (8+ / 0-)

      Wow!  What a great word!  I have several friends that will be using that word to describe themselves, now that I can relate it to them!

      (They are kind friends that try hard to be patient with me when I get too enthusiastic and all preschool teacher-like  :-)

      Peace, Hope, Faith, Love

      by mapamp on Fri May 13, 2011 at 11:45:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hey, I like that one! (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, slksfca, Matt Z, mapamp, ogre, Ooooh

      Entirely new to me. I'm learning stuff all the time.

      Apatheist even tickles my etymological side. What a lovely word and I like the thought behind it.

      Heh, I may have to scrape off my old labels.

    •  Hmm... why is DK4 taking so long (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slksfca, linkage, Matt Z, mapamp, Ooooh

      to post my comment? I'll try posting another one to you.

      Thank you for bringing an etymological treat into my life!

      I like how it sounds, how it's put together and the thought behind it.

      Beautiful!

      Damn, do you have any idea how hard it is to get these self-sticking labels out of my fur?

      Sheesh, my old comment to you is still spinning in posting comment limbo below this one!

      Hey, if it ever shows up don't get cocky thinkin' yer extra special just because you got two replies.

      •  An etymological were-snack? ;-) (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mapamp, Ooooh, Marko the Werelynx

        You're welcome. Can't remember how I first learned of this nifty -ism, but I like it. Even though I'm not 100% sure it describes me, it comes pretty close. And it pleased me for the same reasons you describe. :-)

        There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

        by slksfca on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:23:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think Apatheist is really tenable (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LucyandByron, Marko the Werelynx

      though.  For instance, what if the fundamentalist Christian view was proven correct?  That would certainly change my behavior.  I'd accept the fact I was at the mercy of a celestial tyrant and couldn't change it, so I'd do whatever it takes to avoid damnation.

      •  *Really* not giving a damn can be powerful (7+ / 0-)

        My late father believed that the "truth" about god was irrelevant as well as unprovable:   you should have good principles and do your best to live by them.   Doing the right thing is never wasted effort, whatever anyone else has to say about it.  Then at least you would be at peace with yourself, which is the best you can hope for in this world, which is all we can be sure of.   Maybe Hebrew school did stick with him a little.  

        Supposedly one comes face-to-face with the "truth" only when one dies, and in all of human history no-one has offered conclusive proof of life after death.  I'm not about to live in hypocrisy on the infinitesimal chance that I might regret it later, as opposed to the certainty of despising myself for being a hypocrite now.  

        If there is no god, than those who have done their best to be good people and true have not wasted their lives.   Those who were hypocritical or hateful did waste their lives, even if they never realize it.  

        If there was a god who was wise, compassionate and all-knowing, then He would give us credit for the good we had done and not sweat the small stuff, like mispronouncing Her name.   Newt Gingrich, OTOH, would have some 'splainin' to do.  

        If the deity turned out to be a tyrannical and vengeful type made in the image of its worst self-styled followers, then I'd be damned if I did and damned if I didn't (that type tends to hate women), so why not hold on to my self-respect?  

        To make things more confusing, in the tradition of my mother's people, I'm supposed to become a minor divinity myself when I die.   So really, I just have to satisfy Me.  ;)

        "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" -King Jugurtha of Numidia

        by LucyandByron on Fri May 13, 2011 at 03:48:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The issue was if it was absolutely (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marko the Werelynx, Steve84

          proven, beyond any doubt, that the Christian Evangelical view was correct.  In the absense of such evidence, I of course agree with you--that's why I'm an Atheist.

          But I guess I don't see much sense in this:

          If the deity turned out to be a tyrannical and vengeful type made in the image of its worst self-styled followers, then I'd be damned if I did and damned if I didn't (that type tends to hate women), so why not hold on to my self-respect?

          Will holding onto "self-respect" really comfort you for long if by doing so you're condemned to spend an eternity being horrifically tortured in Hell?  Knowing what we know about the effect of mundane, Earthly tortures on willpower, I'm guessing the self-respect vibes will wear off pretty quickly.

          Sticking up for principle in such a situation seems utterly pointless to me.  If there's no hope of my doing so actually bringing about change, and the consequences for doing so are so horrible, then I'm going to say "screw it, I'll kiss godly butt" to avoid damnation.  I'd have to just swallow pride and accept that since this celestial tyrant created the universe and made its rules, I'll just have to live by them.

          This, of course, is one of the prime reasons why religion itself is so morally flawed and, often, reprehensible.  It forces good people to accept evil things out of fear and a sense of obeisance to authority.  Religion laid the groundwork for Earthly tyrannies through example.

          •  Ask Nelson Mandela (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ogre, Marko the Werelynx, Steve84

            About holding on to sanity by a thread in the heart of darkness.  Also I have witnessed abusive relationships, so I know very well that appeasement is a loser's game.   That sort of theology is set up precisely for there to be no escape from torture.  "Twenty-nine distinct damnations, each one certain if another fails."  

            Maybe I'm just being too logical about this (Asperger's) but not only can't I believe in god, this world doesn't strike me as the work of a celestial tyrant (any more than Newt Gingrich is capable of writing a convincing love story).  If there were a tyrant, or even a Chaotic Demi-Urge like the Gnostic creator, I would have to infer the existence of  Another whose power that one was temporarily usurping.   To keep from going crazy, the irrational belief I'd prefer is that the Other was someday going to help me out.  

            I'm sorry, but I find your premise to be a trifle odd.  If this world had been created by a tyrannical deity who manifested its power in direct and personal ways such that they could not possible be ignored, we'd be in Hell now.   Granted most of my family members are out of work atheists and the residents of the Fukushima area are at least non-theists, but I don't think that makes them sinners in the hands of an angry god.  

            "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" -King Jugurtha of Numidia

            by LucyandByron on Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:26:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Mandela could hope (0+ / 0-)

              because he was dealing with an earthly power, and at the very least death would release him.  The same would not be true for us were we at the mercy of the Evangelical conception of god, so the analogy fails.

              I don't think you're being logical enough, actually.  There's nothing logical, to me, about stubbornly adhering to a moral code that doesn't really matter or even exist in the face of THE moral code that would be the dictate of the celestial tyrant.  I don't understand your objection to such a tyrant being feasible based on this world--are you really so sheltered from the countless horrors that are inflicted on people every day?  I suppose our relative privilege can lead us not to fully grasp just how much completely needless suffering goes on in this world, day in and day out.

              At any rate, I think it's perfectly logical that the most supremely evil celestial tyrant create a world with beauty could create such a world with just enough beauty, love, art, etc. to give humanity a taste of hope and joy, only to cruelly rip it out from under them at the end.  No, having a taste of bliss before being subjected to eternal torment would be far, far worse than just being deposited straight into that torment.  We'd not know what we were missing then, would we?

              Even so, I don't understand your objection even for a less-than-completely-evil deity.  Tyranny does not necessarily connote abject evil, after all.  A totally autocratic ruler can still be benevolent in some ways.

              •  Fascism, martial law, domestic abuse (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Marko the Werelynx, mapamp

                I know a little bit about those things.

                are you really so sheltered from the countless horrors that are inflicted on people every day?  

                I came to the US as a tween.  I paid my first bribe at the age of seven.  I was almost institutionalized for schizophrenia on the word of a doctor whose work was later discredited.  I found my father's dead body when I came home from shopping.  I once put a knife to a drunk's throat to get him to back off.  I didn't have to go through with it.  Later, I was raped by someone else.   At my first wedding, I had two enforcers sent by a friendly drug lord because one of my first husband's enemies had threatened to show up and poison us all.  One of my uncles threatened to kill my sister while he was in a drunken rage.  Her ex-husband tried to kill her twice.   And BTW my great-uncle lived in Hiroshima.   My father's ancestors were burned alive under the Inquisition.  QED

                I really don't know how to put it more plainly, but without hope you go insane.  Read any prison or Holocaust memoir.   Even if there's no reasonable basis for that hope, the survival instinct reaches for it.  Some people are going to respond that way to ultimate evil, even if that doesn't make sense to you.  {"The Torture of Hope," while a tour de force, is just a short story. )  

                My issue with your scenario was that the reality we have now does not support it; it would be necessary to imagine a world so different as to enter the world of Lovecraftian pastiche.  I should either have expressed that better, or left it out entirely since it seems to have set you off.   I generally agree with you and didn't intend to offend you.  Maybe I'm just a cockeyed optimist, but maybe that's what it takes for me not to have the issues the rest of my family has.  At least I'm not religious.  

                Tyranny does come with corruption, incompetence, irrationality, and really bad public art.  There's no way it doesn't show.   As as Nigerian prosecutor of my acquaintance said, it pervades and corrupts every area of life.   So the Universe of a corrupt Master would look (at least in my imagination) like 30's Tokyo, or 70's Manila, or last year in Cairo or Lagos.  

                "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" -King Jugurtha of Numidia

                by LucyandByron on Fri May 13, 2011 at 08:01:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Re: (0+ / 0-)

            I find such a being reprehensible as well and would consider it my moral duty to resist. But yeah, maybe that's bravado borne out of the certainty that I will never have to test that conviction.

            But what is the alternative? You would only fake devotion and subservience to that deity. Being omniscient it would know that you are only worshiping in order to escape punishment, and if it were consistent would punish you anyways.
            Or maybe the Christian god is really so shallow that blind groveling is enough to appease him. That would actually be the best in that situation.

            That's also one of the prime arguments against Pascal's Wager

    •  Sounds like a word that might capture (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ooooh, mapamp, slksfca, Marko the Werelynx

      what Universalists are about, in the end.

      Though they often preferred to assert that they were "Good for nothing."

      "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

      by ogre on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:00:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem with that definition (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marko the Werelynx

      Is that it hangs the definition of "apatheist" on a property that is also shared by many atheists and agnostics - that being that their beliefs () and behaviors would not change depending on whether or not god exists.   And yet the definition writer claims it's describing a group entirely distinct from atheists and agnostics.

      () I presume by "beliefs" the definition means all their beliefs OTHER than the one single "does god exist" belief.  If it merely means factual beliefs (of the sort like "I believe my car is green" or "I believe my mother is alive and lives at 123 Main Street", and so on), then the definition doesn't work for ANY human being.

      Morality is a question of how I treat other human beings.  God existing or not does not change that.  If "N" is the number of people that exist in the world (or let's say, universe), then moral questions are all about how I treat those N people.  If it turns out there is also a god and I was wrong about my hunch that there isn't, then nothing changes about my moral views at all - it's just that now I have to think about how I treat N+1 people, not just N people.  When N > 6 billion, that's not a big change.

      What I absolutely oppose about religion - and this seems to be true of all the mainstream ones - and what makes me an anti-theist - is this idea that morality is first and foremost a question of how you treat god, and then how you treat people is just a side effect of this.  Well, the problem with that attitude is that it sometimes will make you have to balance being nice to god against being nice to other people and chose which to pick when they're mutually exclusive choices (and given the depictions of gods in most religions, that will happen a lot).  Well, if it turns out that your god doesn't really exist after all, then you've just sacrificed the importance of how you treat actual existent people in order to maximize the importance of how you treat ... nothing.

      People are what matters.  Period.  We have the capacity to harm each other if we don't watch our behavior.  We don't have the capacity to harm an all-powerful god.

      If it turned out tomorrow that god was proven to exist, and furthermore it wasn't just any god, but it was specifically the angry Yahweh of the Old Testament, then I would continue to, for example, claim that gays should get equal treatment under the law even if Yahweh complains that this angers him.  My response would be, "You're a god for crying out loud, what can we possibly do to you?  We can't harm you.  But we can harm each other very easily.  So I'm going to continue right along as I have, treating humans as I have before, and if you want me to start being a dick to them, then I suggest you grow up and stop being a bully."

      And if Yahweh struck me down for saying that, well it wouldn't be any worse than continuing to live in a world with Him as dictator.

  •  Thanks, Marko (10+ / 0-)

    I happen to be a believer--A Christian one to be precise.  For those that really want to know, I am Protestant and I belong to the United Methodist church.

    So, does that describe me???

    Nope.  It does describe the fact that I have chosen to believe.  That, and the fact that being UM means there is never a meeting without food.

    What describes me?  Optimistic, positive, caring, pain-in-the-butt-persistent, insecure and not always confident about some things, WAY to confident about others.....  There is so very much.

    What upsets me is when people hear that I am a believer and they automatically assume I am stupid or unwise or uncaring or conservative or whatever else they want to attach to me, because I believe.

    What also upsets me is when people hear that someone is atheist or agnostic that they automatically assume that person is stupid or unwise or uncaring or LIBERAL (God forbid!) or whatever else they want to attach to that person.  

    Assumptions close people's minds.  I am here to learn and see where my place in the Progressive community can be.  I want to understand and to grow.

    So...when we are able to communicate in a respectful way and not assume that people are a certain way simply because they do or do not believe, we are able to present a unified force to the world.    

    Peace, Hope, Faith, Love

    by mapamp on Fri May 13, 2011 at 12:02:24 PM PDT

  •  Thank You - N/T (5+ / 0-)

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Fri May 13, 2011 at 12:31:19 PM PDT

  •  Me, I work very hard (3+ / 0-)

    at making sure I am not telling somebody else what they think or feel, and even harder at avoiding telling them they can't possibly feel the way they do or that their perceptions are wrong.  I have trouble enough with my own perceptions.

    I have also been involved in a couple of monumental disasters that involved some rhinoceri waltzing through those particular china shops.  And sincerely hope that if it happens again, I notice in time to get the rhinoceri's attention and explain to them that what they are doing is a very bad idea.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:06:00 PM PDT

    •  I do have some assumptions (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp, Marko the Werelynx

      about what the way certain people treat me means.  

      I am occasionally told that those assumptions are wrong, but the certain people in question have basically treated me the same way for most of my life and I feel entitled to avoid them if I want to - on the theory that we will all be a lot happier in the long run if I do.

      Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

      by loggersbrat on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:08:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "The problem has never been religion." (9+ / 0-)

    Reminds me of a saying by Jake Johannsen.  "Guns don't kill people. It's those darn bullets."

    I think religion is a problem.  Sure you can point to things in the Christian bible that are wonderful, but people throughout history have used that same bible to rationalize all kinds of bigotry and cruelty.  They are both religion though, and I think religion is a problem when people want to impose their religion on others.

    •  storytelling isn't by default a weapon. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp, Spoc42, JDsg

      belief isn't by default a weapon.

      mythology isn't by default a weapon.

      using belief as a WEAPON is a weapon.

      A gun is a weapon.  Using it as a wall-hanging doesn't make it any less of a weapon.

      is science a weapon because it can be used to make nuclear bombs?  I don't think so.  It can be co-opted, though.

    •  The important word though (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDsg, mapamp

      is always "people".

    •  The problem is when "faith" is respected (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Recall, Scioto

      The big problem is that religion promotes the notion that faith is a good and wonderful thing, when it's not.  Faith is the notion that it's acceptable to make claims up from thin air when there's no good evidence.  The part where this creates a gigantic problem in human history is when people believe they should get their morality from this method of thinking.  Some people come up with nice moral codes that way, and some come up with nasty ones, but in the end the fact that they both think their system is right on faith alone means it's something they cannot have a discussion or argument over.  They are convinced they are right, and that there can be no argument because they are right on faith alone, which is a thinking system dependent entirely on their own internal mind and nothing else.  Faith doesn't interact with the outside world so there's nothing to form an argument over to leverage someone else to your point of view.

      And that's why religious wars happen.  When one group's moral codes contradict another's, and both are based on faith alone, then there can be no discussing them.  There is nothing to use to form an argument.  So there's only one way to stop the other tribe next door from being so "evil" in the eyes of your tribe - fight them and force conversion by threats and if that doesn't work then just kill them.

      The reason these terrible things happen is because people have been making the mistake of basing their morality on faith-baed premises that can never be argued over or debated.

  •  yes, its religion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spoc42, Marko the Werelynx

    I grew up in a nice Lutheran church. My husband in a catholic one. He also attended a born-again evangelical group for a while.

    I think "Religion" is mostly organizations of people who benefit from a philosophy, and think that special people, i.e. priests and pastors are there to convey the Truth. "Religion picks and choose which part of their "holy books" to believe and promote. "Religion" is used to manipulate people, and religious people are often manipulated by the powerful.

    Faith is probably a genuine perception, but I believe "religion" is an artifact of a spiritual experience, and not particularly related to the real thing.

  •  "God" has absolutely ZERO to do with morality (8+ / 0-)

    None, zippo, zilch. Religions and religious "authorities" have appropriated morality for their own movements and purposes. What's right is right and always has been and has nothing to do with "god", and can be summarized as:

    Live and let live.

    Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

    We are all our "brother's" keeper, ultimately.

    I see no necessary or useful role for "god" in any of this. If people want to believe in an invisible being whose existance has never been even remotely proven then that's there choice, but let's leave "god" out of morality. They are two totally different things, even if some believe otherwise. I.e. you don't need to believe in "god" to believe in morality or be a moral person.

    "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

    by kovie on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:33:53 PM PDT

    •  maybe YOU don't. perhaps others do. n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp, JDsg
      •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HiBob

        What do others "see" that I'm too blind not to, that isn't faith-based?

        The role that "god" plays in morality is 100% what we choose for "him" to play.

        But let's forget about the unresolvable debate about proving the existance of "god" (let alone what "he" says about morality) and restrict ourselves to a more practical question: whose "god" gets to decide what's right and wrong?

        "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

        by kovie on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:34:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  what? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp

          your response doesn't seem to fit what I said...

          maybe some people feel that they need a divine moral code.  You don't.  Either of which is fine...  but also required are laws to establish some grounds for one person's morality not impinging on another...and that's true no matter what you believe.

          •  I wasn't discussing where people (0+ / 0-)

            feel they need to find their morality, but rather where morality itself comes from, which is not god. Ok, maybe it is god, but there is zero proof of that, which is why I said that god has nothing to do with morality, in a provable way.

            Also, god is not necessary to have morality. We can come up with it all on our own, through experience, and our sense of empathy and social tendencies. That "god" was tacked on millenia ago as a moral origin doesn't mean that "he" is that.

            Starkly different societies throughout history and the world have developed moral systems that are strikingly similar in their core elements. Was this "god's" doing? Perhaps, and I'm sure many people believe this. But that's faith talking, and not anything that's empirically provable. More likely, morality is simply inherent.

            "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

            by kovie on Fri May 13, 2011 at 10:55:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Same with Faith (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie

      Faith has also be co-opted by religion. You can have faith in many things that are completely outside religion. That being so, why do religions have to pretend that they invented faith, and that if you don't have the same faith as they do, you are damned for eternity?

      FOSI: Full Of Shit Information - Both my sister and I are trivia freaks...

      by Spoc42 on Fri May 13, 2011 at 05:08:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's pointless to try to derive anything uniform (0+ / 0-)

        from that which cannot be seen, proven or agreed upon. We cannot see "god", we cannot prove or disprove that "he" exists, and we certainly cannot agree on "who" "he" is and what "he" believes. Which is why morality cannot come from "god". We have to figure that out on our own, which I think we've done a pretty good job of doing, even if some of us prefer to believe that it came from elsewhere (which we cannot PROVE), and that we don't apply it consistently.

        Yes, I know, this raises all sorts of non-theological philosophical problems, but at least with "god" out of the discussion, we have one less unknowable variable--and no religious wars--to contend with.

        "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

        by kovie on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:40:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'd go one further (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie

      and say that you aren't truly moral if you base your morality on god. If you only do good because you expect a reward or a punishment, then you aren't actually a good person. It's literally the moral development stage of small children, not of an adult.

      Sure, one could say that god somehow magically gave us that sense of morality. But that's a distinction without any meaning and makes god completely irrelevant as far as the application of morality is concerned.

      •  Not just rewards and punishments (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Steve84

        I'm sure that there are religious people who believe in and practice their religion's brand of morality not so much because of the potential rewards and punishments (although I'm sure that these carry some weight with them), but because they truly believe that it's the right thing to do for its own sake.

        I don't dispute the moral sincerity of such people, even if there are many people who claim to be religious who are not really sincere about it, either pretending to be religious for social or professional reasons, or going through the motions of being religious only for the rewards and to avoid the punishments.

        However, even with the sincere group, I find it troubling that they only believe in their religion's morality because some divine being supposedly wants them to believe it, and not because it's right for its own sake, apart from its allegedly divine source. If someone were to prove beyond a doubt that there was no god, would these people cease to be moral?

        Morality is socially and culturally mediated, but the decision to subscribe to one's society's moral codes must come from within, and not by compulsion. Otherwise, it's not sincere, in a purely social sense, but coming from external compulsion.

        In even the best circumstances this is problematic, and as we all know there have been countless occasions where circumstances were quite bad, e.g. the Crusades, Inquisition, St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Salem witch trials, etc., where a supposedly "divine" morality led to unquestionably immoral acts.

        Morality is what we say it is, not what some invisible being supposedly said it is. Thankfully, enough people in civilized societies tend to agree on the basics of morality, so we need not worry (for the most part) that a consensus emerges that you and I would find reprehensible. And those occasions when non-religious immorality became the consensus tend to be outnumbered by occasions when religious immorality became the consensus.

        Bottom line, not only don't we need "god" to be moral, there are many reasons for why it's preferable that "he" be left out of the matter entirely.

        "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

        by kovie on Fri May 13, 2011 at 10:48:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  But isn't the Bible inherently authoritarian? (8+ / 0-)

    It seems strange to bemoan authoritarianism in a faith that is entirely based upon it.

    From the outset, the Biblical God was a celestial dictator.  He ruthlessly punished disobedience (Adam & Eve), slaughters his creations at will (The Flood), lays out law and morality by autocratic dictate (The 10 Commandments, Leviticus), and repeatedly flexxes his divine muscle to show he's the sole head honcho and his will is to be obeyed at all costs (Abraham & Isaac).

    And the New Testatement doesn't change that.  Jesus is even called the "King of Kings," which describes the monarchial relationship between this divine autocrat and his subjects.  

    I don't think, in the case of Judeo-Christian-Islamic fundamentals, that we can really say that it's all the fault of the believers and that the religious dogma itself isn't at fault for how they behave.

    •  You know, we are not too far off (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LucyandByron, Spoc42

      from end times.  I've been told all about it, and cant wait for it.

      You heathens will rue the day you deny my god in the sky when I'm lifted up to sit by his side and eat all the hamburgers I want without gaining an ounce.  

      I'm just wondering if I have to sit with the guys who are not circumcised?  Do you think it will be circumcised with circumcised or will we all be mixed together?  Some of this stuff is really confusing.

    •  Man makes god in his image (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Spoc42, Marko the Werelynx, Steve84

      Not the other way around.  "Heaven" is always created as a model of the social order on earth.  Those people created the God they thought they deserved, in order to justify what they wanted to do.  

      "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" -King Jugurtha of Numidia

      by LucyandByron on Fri May 13, 2011 at 03:52:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure, but that's not what the (0+ / 0-)

        religious people believe, and that's the point.  They worship authoritarianism because it's part and parcel of the dogma they believe.

        •  Please! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marko the Werelynx

          Do not paint all people who are religious with the same paint brush.  I get just as frustrated dealing with Fundies who will not question anything, as I do with non-believers who believe all of us who believe are the same.

          Peace, Hope, Faith, Love

          by mapamp on Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:07:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm talking about those (0+ / 0-)

            who believe in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic revealed religions, not all religious people.  I made that distinction above.

            But if you're within those faiths, how else would you describe morality other than the authoritarian dictate of the Supreme Being?  They're called the Ten Commandments, after all.

            •  but you also have to realise that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Marko the Werelynx

              people of these religions usually don't treat these things as written...

              when you come right down to it, faith--even in the most religious--is a pretty hazy concept.

              I mean....if you REALLY believed in Hell and you had kids you'd be out of your mind with terror imagining what woudl happen to them.

              Or if Jews REALLY believed that eating bread on passover would get you killed or cast out from your people...

              People claim faith, but what they actually have faith IN is often pretty fuzzy.

              •  The fact that many people don't strictly adhere (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk, BoxNDox

                to the tenets of these faiths doesn't make their origins any less autocratic, though.  

                And this of course sets up another conundrum: if one believes in one of the revealed religions, how can one justify ignoring select revelations of it?  It's the whole Cafeteria Christian problem, wherein people just believe what they want and ignore anything inconvenient to what they want to believe.  Where's the logic in that?

                •  i always used to argue the same point (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BoxNDox

                  articulated in the second paragraph....I mean, if religion purports to be truth, how can we go around picking and choosing things and still say it's in the name of a deity?

                  We do, though---which shows that religion is really a very broad concept...as is the idea of deity/god(s)

                  and yes, many religions have autocratic histories...but so do laws and other aspects of society....also adherents to the religion don't necessarily have to follow the (usually) patriarchal/hierarchial structure of the religion.

              •  That mindset does actually exist (0+ / 0-)

                For some people that terror is very real. It's the reason for the aggressive proselytizing in the evangelical and especially the "born again" movements. There are people out there who literally fear for your soul if you tell them you're an atheist. And because they like you as a person, they hope to "save" you. It's scary how deluded some people can be.

            •  Brainwashing (0+ / 0-)

              Christians have been programmed to think that their morality comes from their god. It's a lie they have been told pretty much from birth on. A lie that they don't reflect on.

              But if you press liberal Christians enough, you can get them to admit that it's not really how they behave or the reason they do good. They'll admit that it feels better to be good or that it has social advantages. But it takes some effort to break through the brainwashing and religious "education"

      •  Heaven the Ideal City (0+ / 0-)

        I agree as I think heaven was a Platonic Ideal City and that early Christians mistook the concept of the Ideal for an actual existent reality.

        Plato talked about four levels of reality.

        First level is shadow of reality, like a painting of a horse. It is not really a horse but reflects the reality of a horse.

        Second level is reality, an existent thing itself, like an actual specific horse. Each individual horse has many variations of size, shape, color and so on, yet all horses follow the same pattern of the Ideal Horse.

        Third level is Ideal, the Ideal Horse, the basic pattern of a horse that defines all horses. If all horses disappeared from existent reality, the concept of Ideal Horse would still persist.

        Fourth level is parts that make up the Ideal, all the individual definitions that together define the Ideal Horse. Some of those definitions could define Zebra, Giraffe, Mammal, and so on.

        Heaven in early Christianity I think was the Ideal City, as Jesus came to be the Ideal Man. They may have come to believe that the Ideal was more real than any individual existent object, since if all physical objects disappeared, the Ideal would still subsist.

        Veritas vincit totos tyrannos
        per est Terra nunquam inversum.

        by Surazeus on Mon May 16, 2011 at 12:19:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If you don't believe the God of the Bible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp

      has a sense of humor, read the Book of Jonah.  It's one of the funnier short stories around, for all that it has a serious point.

      Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

      by loggersbrat on Fri May 13, 2011 at 03:54:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Forgive me if I can't view a conception (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BoxNDox

        of a being that is so monstrous and horrible in positive light just because he also can have a joke at someone else's expense.

        I remember my reaction to Bush's video in which he joked about looking for WMDs under White House furniture...

    •  Would be peculiar (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp, SLKRR, Ooooh, Marko the Werelynx

      to read in the Bible that Jesus is President of Presidents or Mayor of Mayors or Prime Minister of Prime Ministers. Offhand, I can't think of a passage in the four Gospels where he refers to himself as "King of Kings." He does like "Son of Man." Theologian  Paul Tillich often referred to "God behind God," since he considered all human metaphors, like king, or even the word God, ultimately inadequate.

      "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

      by DJ Rix on Fri May 13, 2011 at 05:18:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  1 Timothy 6:15 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sam Wise Gingy, BoxNDox

        "Which in his times he shall shew, [who is] the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords"

        Revelation 17:14:

        "They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

        Whatever it's called, it's inescapable that the Biblical relationship described is that of an absolute monarch to his powerless subjects.

        •  My point is (0+ / 0-)

          the title was never claimed by Jesus. Timothy & John the Revelator are not Jesus. Jesus is called by many names & titles he never gave himself. Any metaphor for the authority of Jesus is bound by terrible limitations connected to our perceptions of authority. What is the authority of a deity who knows every atom in one's body, of whom I say, metaphorically, "knows one's true name in eternity." You gotta grow some language & try not to be so literal.

          "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

          by DJ Rix on Fri May 20, 2011 at 01:28:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Congregational Protestants (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp

      Liberal religion does use biblical texts without literal interpretations.   These denominations include: Quakers, UCC, UUA and many other mainline churches.   Congregational protestants have been in the USA since 1630's.

      •  That certain sects don't ascribe (0+ / 0-)

        to the authoritarian nature of the scriptures doesn't change their fundamentally authoritarian nature.

        No matter how liberal a Christian denomination may be, they still have to believe that morality is a dictate from on high.

  •  Gee, If you going to talk about me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Recall, BoxNDox

    you could have let me know.

    I would be happy to tell you what I think of your religion if you want to tell me what your religion is.

    As you rightly point out when a person uses the word Christian they haven't said a damn thing.

    But does that mean all religion is above criticism, especially all those who call themselves Christians, absolutely not.

    God is the problem, not the solution.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri May 13, 2011 at 03:46:29 PM PDT

  •  Religion itself is not so much the problem, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DJ Rix, Steve84

    but religions tend to acquire obnoxious practices and beliefs over time, and the real problem comes when such religions literally identify themselves with "good".  So then you have phenomena such as Holy Doctor Ambrose inducing Theodosius to decree that anyone engaging in a homosexual act was to be publicly burned alive, and for fifteen hundred years that was considered "good" and anyone who didn't like it was "bad" and frequently had a real physical problem on their hands.

    You have other similar situations such as the bloodbath called the Republic of Virtue, and Trotsky's zeal to eliminate wrong thinkers during that civil war.  But it only seems to last thousands of years when it involves spooky and unpredictable deities whose desires and motives cannot be readily perceived, and who are all-powerful and all-good and all-loving and from what I hear will burn your ass forever if you get one tiny little bit out of line.  Stalinism on a cosmic scale.

    Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest... Gibbon

    by Dinclusin on Fri May 13, 2011 at 04:16:45 PM PDT

    •  The problem with religion is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Steve84

      that it glorifies irrationality.

      Our reason is what protects from stupid ideas.

      When a religion demands that you believe without evidence or against evidence they damage the human resistance to stupid and dangerous ideas.

      Same with absolutist states. They damage reason to the extent that people can't think.

      Same with Fox News.  

      God is the problem, not the solution.

      by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri May 13, 2011 at 08:45:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But ask yourself *why* (0+ / 0-)

      is religion so obviously susceptible to this happening?

      It's because it's faith-based.  Once it has convinced its followers that making things up isn't dishonest and in fact is actually admirable (which is really putting it backward when you think about it), then it has opened up the entire flock to being vulnerable to the first snake-oil salesman to come along and grab power.

  •  Epitome of a moot diary.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoxNDox

    ..since the world's going to end next
    Saturday.
    Or is it Sunday?

    Damn math..

    Jaysus is coming. Again. Without a rubber this time.

    An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics - Plutarch

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Fri May 13, 2011 at 05:00:17 PM PDT

  •  A diary of mine (5+ / 0-)

    that is directly on point i think you would all be interested in.

    There are good christians, people who follow the teachings of Jesus, and there are false prophets and evil users. Why peopel think religion doesnt have its share of sociopaths is hard to fathom. Why people judge all religions people by the actions of the sociopaths is hard to fathom.

    A man is born as many men but dies as a single one.--Martin Heidegger

    by cdreid on Fri May 13, 2011 at 06:10:22 PM PDT

    •  Can we still judge the religions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cdreid

      that allow themselves to be co-opted by sociopaths?

    •  Yes as I tend to think this way (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cdreid, mapamp

      There was Rev. Jerry Falwell but there was also Dr. Martin Luther King.

      There is Franklin Graham but there are also wonderful UCC pastors who are all about equality for all and social justice and love and kindness.
      There are churches who bash gays and churches that fully accept gay members and promote gay marriage and full equality.  

      There are priests who molested kids and there was Mother Teresa.  

      •  I'd like to think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cdreid

        that those people are good in spite of their religion, not because of it.

        Religion merely gave them a tool to spread their ideas better and made it easier to reach followers. Basically the same channels the sociopaths use. But I certainly hope that religion wasn't the reason for their behavior

        •  That is basically (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Steve84, paxpdx

          what i think of Jesus and his philosophy. What transformed the world isnt the murder, rape and robbery of the churchs. It is his message. And 50% of christians seem to not only not get that message but to actively reject it in favor of an evil far right wing old testament message.

          Personally i agree with the gnostics , the old testament god was an evil god.

          A man is born as many men but dies as a single one.--Martin Heidegger

          by cdreid on Sat May 14, 2011 at 11:19:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  you can not petition the lord with prayer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marko the Werelynx

    fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

    by mollyd on Fri May 13, 2011 at 07:28:27 PM PDT

  •  semantics. (4+ / 0-)

    Of course you can blame people because people wrote the bible.  I know it's supposed to be the word of god, but that's a matter of faith.

    For me, the fact that most religions are very similar in what is right and what is wrong speaks to the universality of the human race. Our differences are much smaller than our similarities and what we think is right and wrong is also more the same than not.

    I grew up in the Catholic church and from the moment I can remember I felt it was not right.  That what I heard preached from the alter was wrong and truly bothered me.  I had many questions in catechism and no answers.  The history of the Catholic church is well known so I won't go into it.  For that matter, there is no religion that is without fault.

    I'm also well aware of the good works that are done by the worlds religions however, I think the evil done in their name is far greater than it should be and the good does not make up for it.

    I don't by default assume anyone who believes in any religion to be at fault, but I do expect them to hold their leaders accountable for what they do.  I rarely see that.

    Would we be so happy to have a military that dwarfs all others combined if it was a line item deduction on our paychecks next to FICA."

    by Back In Blue on Fri May 13, 2011 at 07:46:38 PM PDT

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