David Brooks pre-defends Christian young angry men

Brooks claims Christians are feeling like mainstream culture is against them.  That mainstream culture is against Scripture and that they will be persecuted for adhering to said Scripture.

In the first place, it’s against Old Testament bullshit, not New — which is what should be the concern of Christians.  Leave the Old Testament to the Jews, who don’t seem so upset about having mainstream culture running against them…maybe because when Christianity defined mainstream culture in America, Jews weren’t invited to be a part of it.

How’s it feel, Christians?

Here’s a link to Brooks’ column:  The Next Culture War


How is Jesus supposed to be a model for living if he croaked at the dawn of his middle age?  Get real.  It was fine for him to throw shit away, tell people to give to the poor (though what you’re supposed to give to the poor when you’re poor yourself remains a mystery.)

What would Jesus have done with his Social Security payments?

The Caliphate Concept

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image presents the Arches Cluster, the densest known star cluster in the Milky Way. It is located about 25 000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), close to the heart of our galaxy, the Milky Way. It is, like its neighbour the Quintuplet Cluster, a fairly young astronomical object at between two and four million years old. The Arches cluster is so dense that in a region with a radius equal to the distance between the Sun and its nearest star there would be over 100 000 stars! At least 150 stars within the cluster are among the brightest ever discovered in the the Milky Way. These stars are so bright and massive, that they will burn their fuel within a short time, on a cosmological scale, just a few million years, and die in spectacular supernova explosions. Due to the short lifetime of the stars in the cluster, the gas between the stars contains an unusually high amount of heavier elements, which were produced by earlier generations of stars. Despite its brightness the Arches Cluster cannot be seen with the naked eye. The visible light from the cluster is completely obscured by gigantic clouds of dust in this region. To make the cluster visible astronomers have to use detectors which can collect light from the X-ray, infrared, and radio bands, as these wavelengths can pass through the dust clouds. This observation shows the Arches Cluster in the infrared and demonstrates the leap in Hubble’s performance since its 1999 image of same object.

What a load of bullshit, huh? Caliphates in the 21st Century. Well, they are a negation of nationalism; a denial of the direction of world politics for the last 1,000 years or so. What blows me away is the idea that those people in ISIS really believe that some Deity they have never seen nor heard — but which happens to be the RIGHT Deity, oh lucky they, born in just the right time and place to have access to the truth! — is behind their new/old way of governing themselves.

Although religion is not responsible for the tragedies of human nature, it sure doesn’t make things better.

Freud, underappreciated

Sigmund Freud is, of course, a familiar name in North American households.  Usually his name is adjectified in accusatory phrases, such as, “That was a Freudian slip!”  But he is less well known as a philosopher, which he very clearly was.  bgtitle

Perhaps those who are impressed by his work in psychology are afraid of his equally impressive work in comparative religion.  Which wouldn’t surprise me.

Freud’s historical explanation of religion is set out in his Totem and Taboo. There he imagines a father of a primal horde, whose sons envy his access to the tribe’s women, and so overwhelm and kill him. Even after their rebellion, the sons cannot fulfil their desire to emulate their father, due to competition between them. Religion arose out of the frustration and guilt that they felt.

Freud’s psychological explanation of religion builds on the ideas of Ludwig Feuerbach. Feuerbach developed the idea that God is projection of the unconscious mind; Freud added to this a psychological foundation. For Freud, as for Feuerbach, religion is wish-fulfilment. Freud adds the explanation that the adoption of religion is a reversion to childish patterns of thought in response to feelings of helplessness and guilt. We feel a need for security and forgiveness, and so invent a source of security and forgiveness: God. Religion is thus seen as a childish delusion, and atheism as a grown-up realism.

Why is this so hard to take for so many people?  There is no god, there is no afterlife.  My beloved brother is gone; I will never see him again.  Yet he is still so alive with me every day.  I say something and hear his phrase; I hear a song we used to whistle together; I look at the car my wife and I bought on his recommendation.  I don’t have to wait until heaven to see him.  He will only be gone when people stop remembering him.  And so it is with us all.



Imagine you’re some unfortunate chap scraping out a living as a shoemaker in some remote Sorbian village in the center of Europe. You’ve been hearing about mass deaths in far-off Vienna, and your priest has been darkly hinting of a coming End of Days. Doctors have their leeches ready, ever prepared to use the latest alchemy to treat illness. Someone says it’s the Jews poisoning wells; others say it’s the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; you say your prayers and hope for God’s protection.

plague2As it happens, the plague comes to your house and kills your entire family: six children and your wife. You alone are left alive, to grieve and mourn and ask of God, Why me? No answer comes back from the sky. No answer comes from within you; there are hundreds of voices in your head and you can’t dipshitsdecipher any of them. Slowly, one thought rises above the others and sticks in your throat like a rose-twig: God did this to you and others like you because you are a sinner. You might not know what sins condemned you in God’s eyes, but that’s not for you to know. Meanwhile, your neighbor, also a sole survivor of his family, has come to a different conclusion: he believes that he was specially chosen by God to re-establish a lawful, God-fearing community.

You both go to the same church, where, a year later, a new priest is invested. He warns of a new scheme by the Jews to steal the first-born child of every Christian household so they can perform their obscene blood-thirsty rituals on babies. Everyone in your Sorbian valley believes that Jews are responsible for the plague, for didn’t the plague pass over the Jewish quarter? Surely! No Jews died, is what you hear from every tongue. How can you let them live in your midst, these killers of Christ? So you and others go out one fine April day, determined to exterminate the Jews who, so you’ve been told, are all set to poison your crops. After setting fire to a Jewish settlement (which curiously is rather empty of people, fancy that!) and crucifying resisters, you settle down again in your Sorbian village, content that you’re doing the will of God at last. You’re so hoping not to sin again, because the consequences last time were so devastating.

Nearly 700 years later, imagine your brother has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. A man who is larger than life, who loves his family with an all-encompassing dedication, is struck down within months to life in a wheelchair. There is no etiology, there is no cure. There is no God to ease the pain, no God to answer questions, no God to blame nor reward you. Someone tells you how God works in ways we can’t understand his wonders to perform, and you hit this someone in the face with a frying pan.

No, I do not want eternal life with a God that would kill my family by plague; I do not want eternal life with a God that would visit such a horrific illness on the best of men; I cannot tolerate anyone speaking of this God as if it actually existed. To do so is to belittle our suffering here on Earth, and I want everyone to know it is real, it is painful, and it is indelible.

God loves Ebola.

God loves Ebola.  God loves all viruses.  He made them.  Given that there are billions upon billions more viruses than humans, is it not conceivable that your god — yes, your god — created viruses in his own image?  In which case, Leo Tolstoy was indeed right: the kingdom of god is within you!

No Adam and Eve? No Jesus

Hey Christians, ————– well, okay, only two people on the planet read this blog and they’re both agnostics ———– have you ever wondered at the ultimate creativity of modern members of religious sects who have a decidedly modern outlook on the age of thadam and evee Earth, the existence of dinosaurs, even some, the likelihood of the evolution of species, yet believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection having anything whatsoever to do with ‘conquering sin and death’?  Given that Jesus lived to 30 and Adam lived to 800+, having a child at age 500.  If these two people did not exist, God would never have demanded a sacrifice to overcome the disobedience of the first man and first woman.  If you think that’s mean, sexist, and primitive, you’re right.  But something had to compel God to want to murder his son — and it wasn’t that Jesus was getting the last of the coffee in the mornings.  Nope:  It was two real persons, one named Adam, the other Eve.  Without their physical presence on this planet, there could have been no sacrifice demanded, else it would have been indiscriminate revenge.  

Bumbling idiots

Don’t Christians ever wonder why the Apostles struggled so long in recognizing Jesus as God?  Hmmm.  In Mark, Matthew, and Luke, they never do.  They keep falling down, saying things like, “Jeez, we’re gonna get caught!” or “How in the world did you do that, man?”


Either they were the dumbest people on the planet at the time, or they were really good actors.

If they didn’t feel invincible with God walking with them, then maybe they didn’t think he was God.  And they’d know best, yes?



Decline and Fall

Halfway through reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, and I can’t help but be struck by the thought that it should be absolutely impossible for anyone with a decent knowledge of the first five centuries of Christianity to be a Christian. Theology students all have to know the works of Tertullian, Jerome, Augustine; they have to be familiar with the earliest controversies such as Arianism, Donatism, Manichaeism. They know that the suppression of these alternate faiths was ferocious, and that the agent of that suppression was the very church to which they claim adherence. They know that what we now know as the core of Christianity — the New Testament — was created by the orthodox faction, and that this orthodoxy was the first belief system that required all people to confess the same faith.

How can anyone who has studied these things still believe there is any legitimacy to Christian tradition? The closest parallel we have is the history of communism, except in that case, its founder actually wrote something, and was photographed. But Stalinism, Maoism, and crazy North Korea all required (and in the latter case, still require) citizens to have a common belief about things that could not be proven. It is very, very difficult to find a person self-identified as a communist these days who would gladly volunteer that the Soviet Union under Stalin represented the purest Marxism and should be emulated. Rather, it seems to be universally understood that those countries that experimented with communism never really were experimenting with communism, that it was more a nationalist movement cloaked with the disguise of internationalism. There is no legitimacy granted to those failed configurations. Yet there are those who would freely admit that the first, oh, say, 1,800 years of Christianity were not really representative of Christ himself, but what they’re doing NOW sure is. Really? Can you really focus on the good St. Ambrose but ignore his rabid anti-Semitism? Can you revere Augustine but overlook his joy at the lethal suppression of Donatism?

Christianity had long enough to establish itself as a faith that was self-evidently worthy of one’s belief. It did not. In not doing so, it became nothing but a faith of clay, which can be molded into any shape and put to any use its owner sees fit. But nothing, nothing will alter the mind of someone who has subscribed his or her belief to such a venerated system. It is nothing short of an intellectual obscenity, but so it is.