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?”

dipshits

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.

Do not ignore the Old Testament

New Testament Verses Which Demand Following the Old Testament and Law Contradictions:

   One will often hear Christians speak of the New Testament as superseding the Old Testament.  But then they’ll mention the Ten Commandments and Isaiah and, well, let’s remember that Jesus would not have been necessary had Eve not bitten an apple and thus created the original sin that had to be washed away by god creating a copy of himself to be killed.  (Got that?)

Well, the fact is, there just isn’t enough meat in the New Testament.  Basically, it’s four variations on a theme, letters interpreting them, and some bizarre science fiction.  Christians need the Old Testament, much as they’d like to think they don’t.  (Thomas Paine once remarked, “The Old Testament! As if there could be two wills of the Creator!”)

 

1) “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)  Clearly the Old Testament is valid  until the end of human existence itself.  Jesus said so.

2) All of the vicious Old Testament laws will be binding forever.  “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.”  (Luke 16:17 NAB)

3) Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets.  He hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament.  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.”  (Matthew 5:17 NAB)

3b) “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…”  (2 Timothy 3:16 NAB)

3c) “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.” (2 Peter 20-21 NAB)

4) Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children according to Old Testament law.  Mark.7:9-13  “Whoever curses father or mother shall die”  (Mark 7:10 NAB)

5) Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for not washing his hands before eating.  He defends himself by attacking them for not killing disobedient children according to the commandment: “He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.”  (Matthew 15:4-7)

6) Jesus has a punishment even worse than his father concerning adultery: God said the act of adultery was punishable by death. Jesus says looking with lust is the same thing and you should gouge your eye out, better a part, than the whole.  The punishment under Jesus is an eternity in Hell.  (Matthew 5:27)

7) Peter says that all slaves should “be subject to [their] masters with all fear,” to the bad and cruel as well as the “good and gentle.”  This is merely an echo of the same slavery commands in the Old Testament. 1 Peter 2:18

8) “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John7:19) and “For the law was given by Moses,…” (John 1:17).

9) “…the scripture cannot be broken.” –Jesus Christ, John 10:35

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With thanks to evilbible.com

Pope Francis Brings Christmas Cheer To Rome’s Children’s Hospital PHOTOS

Pope Francis Brings Christmas Cheer To Rome’s Children’s Hospital PHOTOS.

How terribly sad.  It’s sad that the children are sick; it is my belief that suffering children are evidence that any god that may exist is certainly not benevolent.  It’s also sad that people think the Pope has special magic power to heal people because he’s a top religious fellow.  More illusions.

And yet, I feel sorry for the Pope.  He most likely believes he does have special power to heal, and when it doesn’t work, it must hurt like hell.

Musings on a Catholic upbringing

I went to a Catholic elementary school in Brooklyn, New York, from 1966 to 1973.  My neighborhood was almost exclusively Catholic: Lebanese, Syrians, Kurds, Italians, Irish and a few Puerto Ricans.  People with names like Khoury, Kurdy, Kawas, Bagley, Moury, Passalaqua…and we all went to the same school, the same church.  I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone thought the whole world was Catholic, except for a few people in Utah who were weird.  And somewhere among the stones there lurked Protestants, but we never saw any.  We would have known because they would have looked at us with hostility in their beady little Protestant eyes.  We knew this because when, in 5th grade, we studied for Confirmation — a sort of Catholic Bar Mitzvah — one of the question-and-answer couplets we had to memorize was this little nugget:

Q: Why should we not be friends with Protestant boys and girls?

A: We should not be friends with Protestant boys and girls because they could lead us away from the faith.

Yep, I’ll never forget that as long as I live.  It struck me as very odd, partly because I’d never knowingly seen a Protestant, and because it was not possible to lead us away from the faith: that was unthinkable.  Did we want to roast in Hell for eternity?  Did we want our parents to be dead from cancer when we got home from school?  We’d never betray Jesus.  He is watching us, after all — except when I scratch my nuts, I hope: this is what we all thought.  Well, maybe not the scratching part, but you get the idea.

Catholics were like that once.  Then came the shattering break of 1968 to 1971, when everything changed.  I chose 1971 as the end date because that was when All in the Family started airing on CBS.  I was in sixth grade.  It was the year I discovered what cool was.  Here’s how that happened.  I was walking home from school (Holy Name of Jesus) one afternoon, and while attempting to overtake a group of kids I didn’t hang around with, heard them saying, “Did you see that show All in the Family?  The guy says ‘nigger’ right on television!”  And they laughed like idiots.  They traded more stories and I realized what they were getting at.  This was an emerging world laughing at another, disappearing world.  If I watched this show, then I would be part of that emerging world.  I’d be part of the group.  I’d be cool.

Unfortunately, I could be all of those things, but I was still Catholic, with two more years of Catholic school ahead of me.  To make matters worse, my teachers were sadists.  No, they didn’t just cut us to shreds with sarcasm: they hit us with their hands, their fists, baseball bats, whiffle ball bats, and loose boards they’d picked up.  One kid, Larry Gonzalez, who had a perpetual set of chapped lips, and who was always licking the chapped areas, was always getting in trouble.  He’d throw pencils or blow spitballs or pass notes — and he’d be seen doing it by one of the sadistic pricks the Holy Name of Jesus employed as teachers.  Therewith began a series of entirely predictable events, beginning with a teacher shouting, “GonZALez!”, then Larry cutting his broad and chapped smile to a sudden frown, then slide down in his seat as the demand was voiced to “get up here, Gonzalez!”  He would slink up the aisle (our desks were screwed to the floor in six straight rows) and present himself to the teacher, who would turn him to face the blackboard, instruct him to bend over and touch his toes, and then wail on his ass with whatever was available and with full force.  I don’t remember if he ever hollered, but he’d come back to his desk rubbing his behind and with tears in his eyes.  And the next day he’d be caught throwing paper airplanes across the room, and the process began anew.

Why would I want to be part of that world of pain and bad choices?  This was what my elementary school offered me.  Oh, that and eternal salvation, which is a bit too ephemeral and distant for a boy whose biggest concern is not Hell but whether he’ll have any pubic hair by the end of the year.  I wanted to be cool, to fit in, to feel a part of that universal group of kids who made friends easily and were accepted by everybody.  The kind of kids who could show up alone in the schoolyard and have a ballgame going in minutes with nine on a side.

That Jesus wasn’t doing anything for me.  The gospels held no good news, just stuff like the “sin against the holy ghost” that can never be forgiven, and Jesus flitting around Galilee raising the dead and healing the sick and telling people not to tell anyone.  That all didn’t make sense.  Not the not telling people part, but the raising the dead part.  I remember thinking, “If someone were really dead and then resurrected by Jesus, wouldn’t he be hanging around Jesus in every gospel?  I mean, that would be really big news.  Kings and such would definitely be interested.  After all the resurrections in Mark, you’d figure he’d have a cadre of hundreds of former corpses singing his praises.  But all he had was the 12 apostles — the 12 idiots who kept with him for three years and never understood a thing he said nor believed a thing he did.  “Rise!” said the Lord.  “How can he say that to this man?  Surely the Lord can see he is dead!”  — that kind of thing.  They are the biggest buffoons to be found between the covers of the New and Old Testaments.  Then, after Jesus is gone, they go running around preaching and writing down their exploits in the Acts of the Apostles.  So we’re trusting these buffoons to tell us how they started a church?  Are you kidding?  That is not cool!

We had to go to Mass every Sunday with our class.  What’s worse, our teachers were there with us, the poor bastards.  (Actually, they did get what they wanted: exemption from service in Viet Nam.)  Every time I went to church, I felt more alienated from Catholicism.  It was around the time I was in eighth grade that I began seeing bumper stickers on the Poor Box in church saying, Abortion is Murder! and wondering what abortion was.  You might say I was sheltered.  But the church was moving in a weird direction.  It seemed to me that the most obvious murdering they should be protesting should be the murders our Army was committing in Southeast Asia.  My family was virulently anti-war, probably because my parents had three boys.  Then there was talk against the Equal Rights Amendment.  Nothing at all that related to the world I saw all around me.

It was then, in eighth grade, that I first was able to think of myself as not Catholic.  The idea of leaving it all behind was still scary (and secretly I apologized to Jesus for not believing in him.)  I started reading books critical of religion, then reading the New Testament, and I saw how stupid my parents were in sending me and my brothers to that penal colony called Holy Name of Jesus.  There was no god, there was no legitimacy to the gospels, and I could not trust a priest.  I was on to something.  It wasn’t that it was cool, because it wasn’t: atheists thought, “So what?” and Jews thought, “Finally saw through his silly Christianity!” and the religious were just hurt and defensive.  Cool would have to wait.  Cool was a going to be a lot harder than jettisoning my faith.  I’d have to tune in to this new culture by watching All in the Family and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Slowly it became apparent to me that the whole world seemed to be watching the same shows, because all of a sudden, news reporters were cool: they’d make a reference to Archie Bunker.  People you’d meet in stores were cool: they’d mention Archie Bunker.  The only people who just didn’t get it were the priests and those who still went to church.  Them and their distinctly uncool dozen idiots stumbling through the dust of early Christianity.  They could stay there, for all I cared.  I wanted to stay in the new world, the world of promise, of light, of openness.  A world where everybody got Monty Python references.  We might have had that world for a week or two in 1973, but it proved as ephemeral as any promise of paradise ever did.