Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – three different Christians and questions answered

barker-creationist-quoteI’ve encountered a few very different Christians recently. We have Dave, a pastor, who believes in diversity, but also believes that Christianity supports violence as long as they benefit; Rina who says that she must take everything in the bible literally because if you don’t, what is to stop you from finding a resurrected dead guy to be ridiculous, but is sure that stars aren’t attached to a dome and can’t fall on the earth; and Scientific Christian (you can find his blog through clicking on his avatar in the comments here where he is *quite* prolific) who lies regularly , wants to physically harm those who disagree with him, insists that the bible and translators are wrong if they disagree with him and the very same ones right if they agree with him and very much wants my attention.

As you can see, Christians vary a *lot*, and this is only scratching the surface. I’m guessing that each of these three would have issues with what the other two claim to be true.

The following questions were asked at Dave’s church. On his blog, it seems to be the intent on giving the answers to them at some time in the future so you may wish to follow to see what answered are given. I’ll give my answers here. Unfortunately, Dave does not have comments open on his blog. I may be responsible for that, in asking too many questions that pointed out the problems in Christian claims.  If you are a regular reader here, you’ve seen this information before.

Why-indeed shelley quoteIf God wants us to believe in him, why doesn’t he make it obvious? Why does he seem to play hide and seek with us?

That’s a good observation. This god doesn’t make anything obvious, and if one is to believe that this god wrote or directly inspired the bible, one has to ask, why does this entity contradict itself repeatedly and make promises that are not fulfilled. Christians will claim that this god constantly does miracles as evidence, but when it is pointed out that lots of people who need these miracles don’t get them despite prayers e.g. when priests are raping children or when parents murder their children by not getting medical attention, then we get the excuses that this god doesn’t always do miracles, that this god will answer them only if that is the best answer according to it, or it may get around to doing the miracle later. However, if you read the bible, it doesn’t say this will happen. Prayers will be answered immediately (the mountain moves), positively, (a father would not give their child a snake if asked for a fish), and that any prayer will be answered as long as you ask it in JC’s name. Christians offer the caveat that the prayer must be what God intended anyway, which means a prayer is worthless.

There is also the problem that the essential events of the bible have no extra-biblical support for them. There are mentions of Christians in historical documents but not of the essential events in the bible. It is very hard to pin down when these events supposedly happened since even Christians disagree on what happened and when.

If God is the creator of all things, who or what created God?

Most Christians will try to claim that their god has always existed and thus does not need a creator. The first cause (cosmological) argument is based on the assumption that the Christian god is the only god, and that has always existed. Most, if not all, other religions make the same claim, which leaves us with a lot of competing gods and no evidence for any of them.  There is also nothing that says that the laws of physics can’t simply have “always existed”.

lightningIf God made a good world, why are there things like volcanos, earthquakes and floods that cause so much suffering?

Most Christians will blame the “fall”, which depends on a literal belief in the bible’s claims, something that they don’t always agree on.

Why doesn’t God act to stop all suffering?

One would think that an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being would do this, eliminate all suffering. Christians disagree on the reason that their god seems to have no problem allowing it and indeed reveling in it. Some Christians are sure that humans deserve to suffer, that we all bear some responsibility for the “fall”. Some Christians claim that if there was no suffering we would not know what good was, which is a bit of a problem for their claims about heaven. Still others claim that suffering can lead to good, which is fine to argue when the actors aren’t omnipotent, but doesn’t work quite so well with an omnipotent and supposedly omnibenevolent deity. If this god cannot get things to work without evil, it evidently isn’t all-powerful. By definition there should be nothing that this god can’t do. Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Not today

This is what happens when you don’t punch Nazis.

Bags of women's hair at the concentration camp at Auschwitz - Photo Credit, Polish National Archives

Bags of women’s hair at the concentration camp at Auschwitz – Photo Credit, Polish National Archives

 

Rather than putting up the usual pictures of pits full of starved, shot and tortured people. I thought this was more fitting. The people who were murdered in concentration camps were being harvested.

This is what those who support America First wanted to allow to keep happening.

There are some things that are always wrong and do not deserve to be protected or repeated. I have once supported the idea that I would support to the death that people have the right to say what they want. No longer. I am happy to punch Nazis. And I’ll be happy to die to make sure that they don’t do again what they did before.   It’s not punch who you think is a Nazi, punch who *shows* you he, or she, is a Nazi.

If we don’t punch the Nazi, then there will be no free speech of any kind to defend. There are Nazi wannabees in the Trump White House, who don’t think we remember that their kind said to turn away the refugees just like their forebearers who also touted “America First”, turned away the MS St. Louis, to hate anyone who is different, and who do their best to fracture the facts of the Holocaust so it doesn’t sound so bad. It’s too bad that not one Republican seems to be willing to stand up to these people, and lead the conservative Americans away from being supporters of Nazis.

This is where the new meme fits.

First they came for the Muslims

And we said “Not today.”

The current meme often has “motherfucker” appended to it. I find that entertaining but watering down the point. I’d suggest adding “Yippee ki-yay motherfucker” if one wishes after a suitable pause after the quote above.

I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. I had a Jewish man, a survivor of the Holocaust, take the time to find my contact information and thank me for a letter I wrote to the editor of the local newspaper standing against the attempts of some Christians to force their religion on students in public school in an attempt to create an “us” and “them”. I’m going guess he has probably died by now but in his memory, it will always be “Not today.”. Never think that you can’t do something, even if it is just a blog post or a letter to the editor. Enough of these and the evil retreats.

I recently watched the movie Conspiracy with Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci, playing Reinhard Heydrick and Adolph Eichmann, respectively plus many other excellent character actors.   This movie shows how such “gentlemen” conspired to annihilate people during the Wannsee Conference, mostly the Jews but their hate extended to others, Romany, homosexuals, the disabled, etc. One copy of the notes of this meeting survived and this is what the movie is based on. The one of the movie’s last lines is “”It is night in Moscow already. Soon it will be dark here. Do you think we will ever see the dawn in our lifetime?” It’s up to us to prevent the dark from coming.

And those of you who are about to type and call me a hater, or some such, for daring question you and not tolerating your nonsense, please do. You might want to consider why you’re defending such things and why you believe in a liar who claims that he’ll take care of everything. Many supporters of hatred and ignorance haven’t quite got the idea that their rights stop when they infringe on others. These rights are shared.

Here’s a quote often attributed to George Orwell, “Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” The quote is a shortened version of the opinion of the state, Oceania, in Nineteen Eighty Four (1984). (support Project Gutenberg if you can)

There are three stages in your reintegration,’ said O’Brien. ‘There is

learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance. It is time for

you to enter upon the second stage.”

“A world of victory after victory, triumph after triumph after triumph: an endless pressing, pressing, pressing upon the nerve of power. You are beginning, I can see, to realize what that world will be like. But in the end you will do more than understand it. You will accept it, welcome it, becomepart of it.’” 

“Forty years it had taken him to learnwhat kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needlessmisunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast!Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was allright, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had wonthe victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

 

and as a bit of biting humor

rangers

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – wannabee theocrats marching in DC today

what pro-control people want women to believe

what pro-control people want women to believe

Today there is a “march for life” in Washington, DC. There are a lot of women there, who insist that they are feminists. There may be some men who also would claim this, since being a feminist isn’t limited by sex. They all declare that they are “for life”, aka against abortion and birth control.

These people want to control others, and that is all they want to do. They want to tell women that they can’t. They can’t make their own decisions. They can’t believe what they want. They can’t be trusted to be intelligent enough to know what they want. They aren’t feminists, they are wolves in sheeps clothing. Feminism isn’t about telling a woman “no”. It’s about knowing that a woman can make her own decisions and that supporting women is important.

These wannabee theocrats demand that their opinion become law, that no one may choose to disagree with them. They want women to be punished for daring to make their own decisions and not obeying them. They claim that women need their help because of a myth with a talking snake. Most, if not all of them, want their particular version of one religion to be the law of the land, conservative Christianity. Of course, they can’t agree on which version of Christianity they want. They may insist that each other is doing to hell for accepting the Pope, for not accepting the Pope, for being baptized in one way or another, being divorced or not divorced, but they are harnessed in the same yoke for this one reason, in their pure hypocrisy.

They want to claim that they are for life, but they are against anything that would help the children that they wish forced on others to live. They are for punishment and obedience. They support the murder and terrorism of those who believe different than they do. They want no assistance be given to assure that these children have healthy food and a safe home. They want to keep families from having affordable health insurance. They want no assistance given to assure that these children have a good education, no matter if they are wealthy or poor . They want none but their religion taught to these children and they want only the families they approve of to take care of these children. They depend on lying to women to convince them to have children, intentionally misleading women by how they name their services. After the uterus is vacated, they are not interested.

Caring for another isn’t important at all, only forcing a woman to bear a child she cannot support, either financially or emotionally. They pretend that their churches will help these women but every shelter everywhere is desperate for money despite that there are pages upon pages of churches and other religious organizations in the phone book. They haven’t taken care of these families so far, so why should anyone believe that they will now?

These conservative Christians prate that this god would never give a woman more than she could handle, but they turn their heads when these women harm or kill themselves and their children because they could not handle those things, no matter how much they prayed and others prayed for them. They needed real help and that real help requires that people support them through real resources, resources payed by taxes and given to everyone, not just people who agree with the taxpayers or obey the rules of a religion that has no more evidence that it is true than any other religion.

These people want to take over the government, and force their religion on everyone. For all of their false claims of being unable to make their own choices, they do their best to remove the ability to choose from others. For all of their false claims of being pro-life, they do their best to ensure that those lives suffer as much as possible.

Hypocrisy personified, when this woman thinks she is being silenced and she’s walking down streets in the nation’s capital saying  exactly what she wants.

hypocrite

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – “alternative facts” and that tie…

It is no surprise that Trump is having a tantrum over the fact that it was noted that the audience for his inauguration was quite a bit smaller than other inaugurations. He was so taken aback that the truth was told that he dishonored men and women who have died in service to this country when he gave a speech at the CIA by whining about this fact.

Then we get his mouthpiece, Kellyanne Conway, insisting on “alternative facts”. Sounds quite Orwellian, doesn’t it? The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, went in front of the cameras and claims that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period”. This is of course a bald faced lie and we have lovely photographic evidence to show this wasn’t the case at all.

Photo by Reuters and Pool Camera

Photo by Reuters and Pool Camera

When confronted with this lie, Ms. Conway said “”You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary — gave alternative facts,”. This amazingly pathetic response was given to Chuck Todd, the moderator on NBC’s Meet the Press. When asked again why she was trying to spread nonsense, she responded “”Your job is not to call things ridiculous that are said by our press secretary and our president. That’s not your job.”

AKA How dare you say that the Emperor has no clothes! Ms. Conway seems to think that Trump and his coterie have the right to lie to others and take away their ability to make informed choices. Calling the things she and Trump et al say ridiculous, lies, false, etc is exactly the job all of us have now, and if the press doesn’t lead the charge, we all do.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. Hugo L. Black, associate justice US Supreme Court (New York Times Company v. United States, 1971).

To preserve the freedom of the human mind then and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will, and speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement. –Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Green Mumford (18 June 1799).

And then there is the tie. The really really long red one that Trump wore the inauguration. The one that was held together by tape. Ties are generally made with a loop in the back where the narrow end is tucked to keep it in place. This always works if the tie is knotted correctly. And this isn’t a hard thing to do. Millions can do it (my spouse suggests bringing the wide end down to the crotch and then tying it because it will then be at the beltline after the knot is made). But evidently not Trump.  Tie tacks and tie bars are also evidently beyond him.

It may seem petty to pick on the man’s tie but it reveals two possibilities, neither of which are reassuring: this man has no friends that will keep him from looking like a buffoon or that he has no one he will listen to. Not one of his family members, not one of his staff said “Don, let me take care of your tie for you.” or he was stupid enough to ignore them. I’ve had no problem telling my boss that she has snot hanging from her nose from a less than successful blow. If no one can do that for you, it’s just sad.

Stephen Colbert does a great monologue on the inauguration and that tie

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – the lying lips of a prince

Photo by Reuters and Pool Camera

Photo by Reuters and Pool Camera

We’re deep in it now. The sad little orange man has been inaugurated thanks to the ignorant and fearful and greedy who have sold their honor and responsibility for false promises.  Update:  The women’s march is doing quite well. Poor Donnie, he doesn’t react well to reality. What will TwitterFuhrer do?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/us/womens-march.htm  ( I don’t know if you will be able to see it. I have a subscription)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/21/chicago-womens-rally-massive-march-canceled/96882902/

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/womens-march-heads-washington-day-trumps-inauguration/story?id=44936042

and this interesting bit: http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/01/womens-march-canadian-protesters-denied-u-s-entry.html  and here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/20/womens-march-canada-protesters-denied-entry-us

Donald J. Trump, still is trying to spread those lies and spread that fear. Fear and greed is what fascism and totalitarianism grows in. Willful ignorance is what fertilizes it. Trump’s inaugural speech was nothing but lies, intended to spread fear. He claims that the US is in shambles, that “carnage” reigns in our streets and that simply isn’t true. He need people to believe though, because he can’t get his way if people stand strong and say “no”.

The US does have its problems, like any other country. However, we’ve always gone forward and have shed the shackles of our ignorance and fear, albeit slower than I would wish. Now we have to stand up against men and women who would wish to return us to the bad old days. They intentionally lie to us, trying to take away our right to make informed decisions on our own. They want obedience and no one to speak against them. They want the truth hidden, so people will believe them without question.

They can’t stand the truth, so they try to punish those who speak it. A National Park Service employee retweeted true tweets that showed how small the crowd was for the inauguration and this was termed not sympathetic to the president. It was also noted that the new administration stripped the White House website of any LGBT, climate change and health care webpages (snopes has the lowdown here. And it again shows that the transition team for Trump is utterly incompetent since they had nothing to put up). This was also declared not sympathetic to the president. The account was shut down with claims of urgency.

It has been reopened with the understanding that everything depends on the confirmation of Trump’s nominee, Rep. Ryan Zinke, who is of course supports mining, oil, loggin, trophy hunting, etc on public lands, and wants to transfer public lands to states, so the federal laws concerning wildlife, clean water and clean air don’t apply: anything but what his supposed hero, Teddy Roosevelt would have approved of.

The truth doesn’t have to be sympathetic, it is what it is. And it is in everyone’s interest to constantly point out the false claims and lies told by anyone, but especially when its someone in power.

Trump and his team were wrong when they claimed that millions would attend his inauguration (and more shots of the emptiness, and a great timelapse video of the Mall being occupied – scroll down on that link). Trump and his team were wrong when they claimed that there were no more fancy dresses in DC. Trump and his team were wrong when they claimed that hotels were sold out. They lied that he won the popular vote and they lied when they said it was a landslide and that Trump has a “mandate”.  This is only a few false claims about petty little things. It’s a problem when the lies keep coming about important things that will affect everyone.

“It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. — Abraham Lincoln, October 15, 1858 Debate at Alton, Illinois

Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.” – Proverbs 17 (KJV)

One might think that some of those Christians who voted for Trump might consider one of the few admirable things about their bible.

And just because I like them:

nazis

 

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – fundamentalist white rural America

burialWhite, rural fundamentalist America is where I grew up.  This article on Raw Story (which seems to have come from Alter Net) gets it very much right.

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/the-dark-rigidity-of-fundamentalist-rural-america-a-view-from-the-inside/

“When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t understand itself and will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility it might be true. ”

Is this true for everyone in white rural America? Nope, but unfortunately it’s become the way to bet. Sometimes you can get free of such nonsense, sometimes you can’t and sometimes you choose not to.  We have had people, friends and relatives, we thought were humane people who supported the ideal of America, of the lady with the lamp beside the golden door, that where everyone deserved to be considered equal and to have the same rights.  We never thought they would decide that they could ignore racism, misogyny, lies, cheating employees, xenophobia, etc, for the promise that someone will fulfill “every dream they ever dreamed“.  I don’t think even a three year old child would believe this.  But they did.

I’ve read where some people have said it has felt like someone died when Trump won.  I think that is pretty accurate.  The people we thought we knew “died” that day, and their places were taken by people we didn’t recognize anymore.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – screw your courage to the sticking place!

The goats won, barely.   And it is a reason to be angry.  However, it is also reason to be resolved, because it won’t last long.   In six months, half of those who voted for Trump will have buyer’s remorse; indeed Trump will have it himself when he realizes that being president isn’t being dictator. He isn’t the CEO of a company anymore, he is the employee now.   He may try to be the dictator, but history has indeed taught us how to handle those people.   You can depend on people to forget history, hopefully they won’t have time to forget it again when Trump implodes.

And heck, it gives me even more evidence that religion isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be.  So much for objective morality, eh?

Obama said that this election was judgment on his legacy. That legacy will be burnished to a new shine in 4 years, when it will be demonstrated that all of the magic prizes and ponies promised by his successor were simply lies told to be elected.

There are still humane people in the world.   We will still do the right thing, despite the attempts of others to hold us back, to return to ignorance and fear.  Shake them off and move ahead.  There is plenty of space to move in that direction.  Screw your courage to the sticking place!

But just in case I’m wrong about humanity, and I often am, anyone of my overseas friends have a room for me in a few years?