Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a peculiar Pollyanna

I’ve occasionally used the posts of a Christian minister to riff off of when it comes to showing how strange Christian arguments about their god and their religion.  It’s a way to have an actual Christian’s quotes to review and to point out how their claims don’t always work out quite like they intend.  For those who may not be familiar with the term “Pollyanna” it is from a movie, and has come to mean someone with a overly optimistic outlook, that every thing is wonderful and perfect, generally considered someone more than a bit naïve.

Pastor Dave has had a series of posts about creationism and his religion.  This is the most recent.  The basic argument is that the universe is evidence of this version of this religion’s god and that it is a result of this god’s “greatness”, which is a rather vague term, and its “goodness”, which shouldn’t be too hard to define but with many Christians, anything that this god can be claimed to do is “good” by default, a very circular argument.

He claims that “In Creation, we see God’s beauty, holiness and wisdom. For example, we see his holiness as God makes distinctions separating light from darkness, day from night, land from sea, sea from sky. This is the same God who will separate a people out for himself as a holy nation. This is also the God who, in his wisdom, creates an ordered and structured Universe.”

Now, considering what we know of the universe, it often isn’t very pleasant, and indeed, 99.999999999999…% of it is inimical to human life, supposedly this god’s favorite “creations”.   It includes the vacuum of space, guinea worms, gamma ray bursts, flesh eating bacteria (a some awful photos), water that is very deep with great pressures (also pretty gross), temperatures of millions of degrees and of many hundreds below zero, toxic gases, toxic liquids and things with lots of unpleasant venoms.   It takes an amazing amount of pure willful ignorance to try to make this argument, and an assumption that people are either too ignorant or simply too unintelligent to question it.  It could also simply be a lot of pure malice to control people by telling them such nonsense.

It also shows that the religious must try to convince themselves that they are special and above all other humans.  It’s not hard to see through history just what such ideas have done to humanity.

Pastor Dave tries to argue that this god cannot be a distant god, perhaps like the one that deists have invented, but a personal god that is constantly interfering with his creation, quoting John Calvin in that one cannot have a god that was just a momentary creator and claiming that “Here, especially, we must dissent from the profane, and maintain that the presence of the divine power is conspicuous, not less in the perpetual condition of the world then in its first creation.” The pastor makes the following claim: “God’s goodness, kindness, compassion and love are reflected in his providence.”   Calvin’s words reflect this: “After learning that there is a Creator, it must forthwith infer that he is also a Governor and Preserver, and that, not by producing a kind of general motion in the machine of the globe as well as in each of its parts, but by a special providence sustaining, cherishing, superintending, all the things which he has made, to the very minutest, even to a sparrow.”

Really?  Goodness, kindness, compassion and love.  In this world, shown by this god.  Hmmm.  I wonder, can we tell this to the children who have their body parts cut off in Africa?  I guess the sparrow gets cherished and screw the children.   I guess it’s easy if you are comfy in a first world country to make such baseless claims and need external validation for your religion.

We also have the claim of predestination, which means that this god intends that everything happens as it does and approves of it.  I guess again, this god needed children who were made amputees in one of the worst ways possible, hacked by a machete.  “Providence describes the way in which God is concerned for the well-being of his creatures and so orders and sustains the very detail of Creation. Providence is a consequence of God’s Will and Decrees. In other words, everything happens because God predestines it.”.  and we are told that miracles do occur and are “natural” and are part of predestination.   In that there is no evidence for miracles period, there is no reason to think they real, much less natural or supernatural.   Having been a Presbyterian, I know quite a bit about the claims of Calvinists and predestination, which is nothing more than excusing a god, and declaring oneself to be extra special that one will be saved because this god chose you.  They aren’t much different from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in this. And many Christians are sure that predestinationalists are entirely wrong.

Pastor Dave also wants us to know that this god works through “intermediate means” like him.  What he doesn’t explain is how does this work when pastors like him don’t agree on what this god wants.  He also wants us to believe that this god works through “processes of the water cycle and crop generation to bring this about”.  Hmmm, if this god can do miracles, why does it rely on natural processes that show that the claims of its bible never happened at all, and why does every other religion claim that their gods are responsible for the same natural processes?   And why do these natural processes fail sometimes and we have famines?  He also doesn’t quite get the “god of the gaps” idea.  The God of the gaps is a term where non-Christians have noted that the claims for his god aren’t true, and this god is only now able to be claimed as cause for processes we do not understand yet.  He wants to claim that his god is controlling all natural processes but that doesn’t work out very well for him because he wants to pick and choose when his god does something magical and when it does something by natural processes.   It’s awfully convenient to cherry pick like that, insisting that coincidence should be considered a miracle, and then be able to show no evidence at all that this god does anything.  It’s also quite funny to see him declare that his version of his god created a “mature universe” aka as it is right now,, when there is no evidence of that at all and indeed plenty of evidence that the universe became what it is today and wasn’t always this way.  Why some Christians try to lie about such things, when accepting the same science that shows that the universe has changed, as long as it makes them comfy, is rather ridiculous.  As for an orderly universe, yep, it does have certain physical laws that seem to control it, however, it’s a bit of a bummer when a star goes supernova and destroys what is around it.

Now, we get to the part where Pastor Dave claims this: “Providence encourages us to trust God’s provision and to depend on him every day.”  So how does that work out with the people who were murdered in that church down in Texas?  How many people does Dave think were praying desperately as the murderer was methodically walking around and shooting people in the head?  Did God need a baby to die of a high-power gunshot wound?  How about a good part of a family?  How about those people who were in the assisted living home in Philadelphia just today which burnt in a 5 alarm fire? Continue reading

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What the Boss Likes: So we went to Boston

About two weeks ago now, we took an extra-long weekend up to Boston.  My spouse has been working on a fiction story set there (and in New England, Cthulhu donchaknow? 😊 ) and it seemed as good as any place to vacation.

We took the train overnight to the city. That made for one long day without much sleep, since it is very rare in the US to have sleeping berths. We sat in seats that reclined only a bit.

from our room

Getting there about 8 AM, we were able to drop off our luggage at our hotel and they were kind enough to call us when a room was available. We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel’s Nine Zero, and I always try to stay with them because of their policies.   The only thing that wasn’t great there was their attached bar, which really could stand someone who had more design skills than early frat bar. A hundred yards of decent fabric, or hell, broadcloth, would go so far!

Boston traffic is entirely insane and I am so glad we took the train. Most streets are one-way, and definitely not meant for the easy passage of modern cars, being crazy narrow. No wonder they had such misery trying to get rid of the snows that the big blizzards dump. There is simply no where they could possibly put the stuff even if it would be plowed. Boston, at least the actual city is pretty tiny, and no problem to walk it.

We went to Boston Common and it’s smaller than I thought, but has a great carousel with a kitty to ride. We also went to the Faneuil Hall, much smaller than it seems in photos, and filled with tourist tchotchkes. There is a farm type market nearby and it was nice. Behind it, toward the bay, is the market hall which is Foodcourtia, surrounded by national brand shops. It felt like there were about a zillion tourists from China, Korea, Japan…. I’m not sure. They certainly wanted the lobsters. The chowder and lobster roll weren’t that great (I’m of course spoiled by my spouse’s chowder recipe). We also got a little lost and ended up in the Italian area of Boston (like I said, Boston is small). There is one fantastic liquor store there, V. Cirace & Son, that has about 20 bottles of things I haven’t seen other places like Batavia Arack.

That evening we found a great bar/restaurant literally down the alley by our hotel, Barracuda. It was on a second floor, which is a bit unusual. Tiny place, but it was friendly to everyone, and had great food. It also would make such a great bar to send

the alley where Barracuda is

characters to in a role playing game like Shadowrun, with a skylight that just begs to be crashed through. We had some great fried fish and scallops and beers, including one that became a favorite, Allagash White.

Next day we headed to Salem, of witch fame.   We went by fast ferry which took about an hour to get there and was a very nice addition to be able to be out on the water. Some folks tried to set out on the unprotected part of the deck, which got them wind whipped. Salem is mostly a bedroom community for Boston, though it does have the usual tourist stuff. A lot of it was cheesy and we indulged in the cheese. We got our photos taken in witch costumes. We also went to a nice classic dark bar/dining room that one can see “made men” taking dinner at, and stopped at a brewery. We went in some of the new age shops and picked up some incense that is very full of the good resins: Fred Solls. More expensive than a lot of incense but worth it. I used to consider myself a Wicca and it was kinda neat being back in those stores.

What’s amusing is that in high school I played an old witch in a play (complete with bringing my real live pet cat on stage with me). It’s amazing how close the images are, me in make up at 17 and me now in these silly photos.

We got back just before dinner time and hadn’t made a decision where to go. We were a bit nuts and ended up at the Union Oyster House, a fixture of Boston and where *all* the tourists go. Many thanks to the staff who got us in quick despite no reservations, and where we got the fastest service I’ve had in a long time so bravo to the kitchen staff. We tried the chowder there and it was better than the other but still not what I wanted. I got a raw seafood appetizer as a meal (oysters, clams and a couple of jumbo cocktail shrimp) and I’ll be damned if I can remember what he got. Oysters were good, clams are a bit gamey for me.

We went up on Beacon Hill on Saturday, and found this fabulous (and expensive but everything edible, with an exception below, is expensive) bakery/pastry shop, Tatte. We got in line, and then got coffees and two pastries, a cream cheese Danish and a thing I can’t remember the name of, other than it probably sounds something like “queen” but isn’t spelled like that. It was a layered pastry, no filling but a caramelized sugar top.

We then headed to the Boston Public Library which was gorgeous and in amongst the very very high end stores, like Hermes, Chanel, etc. The murals in the library were wonderful (pictures on Flickr). My favorite is this https://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/7727592768/in/album-72157630936484918/one, which I interpret as Sophia conquering the pale Galilean. I’m sure that’s not what was intended. 😊 There was also a book sale in progress by the friends of the library group. After that we were feeling the stress of traveling and dealing with people, retreated to our room and read our prizes from the sale and the ones we brought along.

The last day found us an outdoor arts market just south of Chinatown (and just down from a Whole Foods). Had some nice stuff but we didn’t have much way to transport it back. We wanted to do dim sum in Chinatown so we headed there for brunch. I don’t remember the restaurant we picked because there were so many and we just picked one that looked nice and had a few signs in English in the windows. Most signs were in some dialect of Chinese. At the restaurant we got three things, soup dumplings (where they are filled with broth and you have to suck out the juice before eating), a scallion pancake with beef and chilis rolled inside and bao which were also fried like potsticker dumplings. All very good, especially that pancake!  This was the only reasonably priced (from a central PA standpoint) food on the whole trip.

That’s the highlights. Hope you liked the review.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – hmmm, God or Tyvek(tm)

This is Ray “Banana Man” Comfort’s latest little trick

Shucks, it’s a tract printed on Tyvek(tm) or some similar tear-resistant material.  So, poor ol’ Ray has to depend on modern science to try to pretend that there is something magical happening.  Funny how a pair of scissors or a nice knife can overwhelm this sad attempt at using parlor tricks to convince someone of a divine being.  Humans are pretty clever tool users.

Let’s look at the back, shall we?

Ah, always great to see TrueChristians depending on anything but their god.   Hmm, Ray, have you lied, oh, about how something can be torn?  Are you choosing to lie to try to trick people?  For all of the claims of hell, it seems that it’ll be full up with TrueChristians like Ray.  as for that last sentence “Then read the Bible daily and obey what you read (see John 14:21). God will never let you down.”  I wonder, how many people has Ray killed for breaking that Sabbath that Christians can’t quite agree on when it is.  Or is this just something that is too inconvenient to obey if you read it?  (and for observant readers who want to know what John 14:21 says, I’ll even give you a bit more: “20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”) 

You can get a whole 5 of them for $7.  And indeed as Ray says in his newsletter, you’d better get out there and do something useless like put a tract somewhere and pay him for them, because, well, let’s have Ray say it himself “Are you going to leave a gospel tract somewhere today? Whatever you do, do something today. Tomorrow may never come.”

 

 

What the Boss Likes – we got really cool upholstered chairs!

As the title says, we got really cool upholstered chairs.   Some background on this,  my husband’s parents once did upholstery.  And when my mother in law was dying from colon cancer, she asked what we would like.  We got a pair of decrepit chairs that my husband loved because they were so comfortable, and a gold painted mirror, shelf and candle sconces from circa 1970.  The gold set is now at the base of our staircase.

front-preupholsteryside-preupholsteryThe chairs were in desperate shape 20 years ago, and weren’t getting any better.  But we wanted them to be a nice as possible when we finally shelled out the cash to get them done.   They left clumps of ancient cotton batting, horsehair and decaying bits of fabric everywhere.  There had been this very nice upholstery shop I walked past every day at work, Neil Choquette Fine Upholstery.  They had an old store front that had great glass display windows in front, always filled with such lovely vignettes of what was currently finished.  I always hoped we could get them done there.  Then they vanished.

Years passed…

And finally we had the funds to get them done.  As luck would have it, we read about the long lost upholsterers and found out that they were near-by.  So we contact them.  And couldn’t be happier.   This was not a cheap undertaking.  We got the fabric we wanted, not what was inexpensive.  With all of the insane pleating and buttons and every other upholstery term I don’t know,  it took ten yards of fabric that was $100+/yard, a lovely sculpted velvet that is a deep marine blue, the color of the ocean as seen from the lovely windjammer clipper we vacationed on in Maine a few years back.  The frames, sticky and opaque with decades of Pledge, were stripped and rehabbed by a Mennonite fellow that Neil works with.  I think they are maple and are now a lovely caramel color, gleaming with the deep sheen that good wood has.  Neil thought they were probably 1940s or so.  He did a very clever thing to the chairs. On the seat under the cushion, instead of using just heavy muslin or some such, he used the velvet and reversed the hand so the velvet from the cushion would catch and the cushion wouldn’t always go slipping off.

Feast your eyes.  This pair are as identical as could be made, an incredibly impressive feat.  They are essentially a 50th birthday present for my husband and a 25th wedding anniversary present for the both of us.   Someone will have a great pair of chairs when our estate is dispersed with after we leave this mortal coil.

Of course Muffin had to give her approval.  🙂

 

 

 

Chalking

I like this… (reblogged from We Play Our Roll)

A friend of mine sent me this link and the associated video.
http://dailycaller.com/2016/09/13/ivy-league-student-brought-to-tears-by-trump-chalking-video/

His attitude was “Ha Ha, look at what wimps the young liberals are turning out to be.”

Well, I wasn’t sure what “chalking” was, although I had a pretty good idea.  A little research brought up this: from another campus where chalking occurred.

http://college.usatoday.com/2016/04/09/chalking-pro-trump-messages-set-off-storms/

“Also on April 5, chalk messages were written on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. They included, “They have to go back #Trump,” “Build the Wall” and “Trump Deportation Force.”

The messages appeared near the campus’ Latina/Latino Studies building.”

Chalking is not the exchange of ideas, it’s done to intimidate.
This is not just pro trump, the messages and locations are not an accident.
Hate speech should be distinguished from free speech.
Lets not forget that the Hitler youth were fond of scrawling slogans on walls…
“Wir hassen die Juden und Ausländer”…

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