Monthly Archives: April 2012

SENDING HIS SON TO ISRAEL

A Jewish businessman in Chicago decides to send his son to Israel to absorb some of the culture from the Jewish Homeland.
 
When the son returns, the father asks him to tell him about his trip.

The son says, “Pop, I had a great time in Israel. By the way, I converted to Christianity.”

“Oy, vey,” says the father, “Vat haf I dun?”

He decides to go ask his friend, Jacob, what to do.

Jake says, “Funny you should ask. I too sent my son to Israel, and he also came back a Christian. Perhaps we should go see the Rabbi and ask him what we should do.”

So they go to see the Rabbi.

The Rabbi says, “Funny you should ask. I too sent my son to Israel. He also came back a Christian. What is happening to our young people? Perhaps we should go talk to God and ask Him what to do.”

The three of them pray and explain what has happened to their sons and ask God what to do.

Suddenly a Voice loud and clear from Heaven is heard, “Funny you should ask. I, too, sent my son to Israel. . . ” 

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A light-hearted look at "Alternative Medicine"…

“By definition”, I begin
“Alternative Medicine”, I continue
“Has either not been proved to work,
Or been proved not to work.
You know what they call “alternative medicine”
That’s been proved to work?
Medicine.”
“Science adjusts its beliefs based on what’s observed
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.
If you show me
That, say, homeopathy works,
Then I will change my mind
I’ll spin on a fucking dime
I’ll be embarrassed as hell,
But I will run through the streets yelling
It’s a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
Water has memory!
And while it’s memory of a long lost drop of onion juice is Infinite
It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!”
Excerpted from “Storm”, by Tim Minchin.

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Ohio executes cult leader for 5 Killings

The above headline, from an Associated Press article, is a couple of years old now.  I do not normally read such stories because I am opposed to the Death Penalty for a number of reasons.  But that is not the point today.  The story continued:
“LUCASVILLE, Ohio – Ohio executed a religious cult leader Tuesday for murdering a family of five followers who were taken one at a time to a barn, bound and shot to death. The youngest was a girl just 7 years old.
Jeffrey Lundgren, 56, died by injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. ‘I profess my love for God, my family, for my children, for Kathy (his wife). I am because you are,’ Lundgren said in his final statement.
The evidence against him in the deaths of the Avery family — Dennis, 49, Cheryl, 46, Trina, 15, Rebecca, 13, and 7-year-old Karen — was compelling.
Upset by what he saw as a lack of faith, Lundgren arranged a dinner hosted by cult members. Afterward, he and his followers led the family members one by one — the father first, young Karen last — to their deaths while the others unknowingly cleaned up after dinner.
Lundgren shot each victim two or three times while a running chain saw muffled the sound of the gunfire.
Lundgren argued at his trial in 1990 that he was prophet of God and therefore not deserving of the death penalty.
‘It’s not a figment of my imagination that I can in fact talk to God, that I can hear his voice,’ he had told the jurors. ‘I am a prophet of God. I am even more than a prophet.’”
Lundgren formed the cult with about 20 members in the northeast Ohio town of Kirtland after he was dismissed in 1987 as a lay minister of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of the Latter Day Saints church.
He said God commanded him, through interpretation of Scriptures, to kill the Avery family, who had moved from Missouri in 1987 to follow his teachings.
I found the following three passages riveting:
  • Lundgren argued at his trial in 1990 that he was prophet of God and therefore not deserving of the death penalty.
  • “It’s not a figment of my imagination that I can in fact talk to God, that I can hear his voice,” he had told the jurors. “I am a prophet of God. I am even more than a prophet.”
  • He said God commanded him, through interpretation of Scriptures, to kill the Avery family, who had moved from Missouri in 1987 to follow his teachings.

Upon reflection on those three passages, I believe we can all agree that one of the following statements must be true.  Either
  1. Jeffery Lundgren was stark-raving mad;
  2. Jeffrey Lundgren was lying about his communications with God and his status as a “prophet”; or
  3. Jeffrey Lundgren was telling the truth; that is, he was in intimate communication with the Almighty, he was HIS ordained prophet, and he killed the Averys on God’s command.

Those are the only choices.  One must be true.
But which is it?
Frankly, unless you are a devoted member of Mr. Lundgren’s cult, I am absolutely certain that you have not chosen #3.
Every reader in general, and especially those who profess Christianity in particular, has opted for either explanation #1 or #2.
# 3 is out of the question.  Dismissed.  Impossible.
But why?
Atheists and like-minded secularists have an excellent reason for their choice:  If there is no God, then #3 is not even a remote possibility.  Their response needs no further explanation.
What about those of you who are Christians, Mormons, Jews, or Muslims however?  Why do you reject the third option?  Indeed, how can you?
Your entire belief system is based on the conviction that one or more times in the past, a Deity communicated His wishes and instructions directly to a human or group of humans.  You are certain of this.  There is no question in your mind.
But if God did communicate with man in the past, how can you be so sure that He was not in communication with Mr. Lundgren?  Jerry Falwell claimed that God spoke to him every day, so why not to Mr. Lundgren?
And God has, according to the Bible, often ordered His followers to kill others, including little children.  The God of the Old Testament several times displayed an extremely bloodthirsty and vengeful persona, so how can you know He did not instruct Mr. Lundgren to off the Averys?
You believe that if we all do not accept, worship, and fear this God, He will cast us into Hell and torture us for eternity.  That’s pretty serious, even vicious, stuff.  Why then is it impossible to believe Mr. Lundgren was telling the truth?
The fact is I have a clear, concise, and rational reason for rejecting option #3.
No adherent of any “revealed religion”, including Christianity, can make the same claim. 

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Open Mouth, Insert…President?

Politicians sometimes say the damnedest things.  Take the Democratic governor of Montana for instance.  Obviously sent forth by the Obama campaign as an attack dog now that Mitt Romney is the presumed GOP candidate, the governor went for every negative angle he could find, including pointing out the Mitt’s father was born in a polygamous Mormon settlement in Mexico.  That would certainly hurt Mitt, he opined, because polls show American women by a large majority detest polygamy.

True enough.  The history is that polygamy was illegal by the US, and was thus eschewed by the Latter-Day-Saints in order to gain statehood for Utah in the late 1800s.  Some Mormons who considered the practice to be an important part of their faith demurred, emigrating to Mexico, where they peacefully continued to adhere to the original doctrine.

However Mitt’s father was not polygamous, nor was his grandfather.  In fact one has to go back to his great-grandfather to find an ancestor who engaged in polygamy.

As unlikely as that connection is to cause a problem for Romney, there is however another candidate for president whose father was polygamous before, when, and after that candidate was born.

That candidate?  Barrack Obama.

So much for zingers.

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They are not to be trusted…

Yesterday I watched a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee.  Member after member took turns making statements, other than that not a damned bit of work was attempted.
Many of those speaking though referenced a single, and to my mind dangerous, theme:  We need to simplify the tax code, and we can do that by eliminating or reducing deductions and then lowering and flattening rates.
Sounds simple.  Sounds clean. Unfortunately this is Congress of which we are speaking, and they are not to be trusted.  Ever.
In 1986, under conservative icon Ronald Reagan, taxpayers were convinced to give up a series of deductions for what was essentially a two-bracket (15% & 28%) tax code.  (There was also a clawback provision whereby the extremely rich paid and even 28% on all income, but that effected very few.)
It took Congress only four years to demonstrate that they couldn’t be trusted.  In 1990, a new top bracket of 31% was added, and then under Clinton brackets were adjusted and a fourth one tacked on with a 39% tax rate.  In essentially a single decade Congress took back everything granted when we gave up our deductions in 1986.
If you believe that it won’t happen again, you are precisely the damned fool that the vultures in Congress want you to be, indeed expect that you are.  There can be no tax reform that allows Congress to give voters the bird whenever the mood strikes them.  The only effective tax reform must include the repeal of the 16th Amendment, the abolition of the IRS, the institution of a consumption tax with a requirement of a super-majority to increase rates, and the passage of a balanced-budget amendment.  Anything short of all four would be a willfull and deliberate fraud on the people.  Again.

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A "Heads Up":

From the 12th through the 16th centuries, monks laboring in monasteries would routinely scrap the ink off the ancient manuscripts in their libraries in order to reuse the parchment to copy scripture.  Thusly, untold ancient texts were lost to mankind.
It was an act then of incredible serendipity that in 1417 one Poggio Bracciolini, rummaging through the library of a monastery in Italy, opened and recognized an extraordinary work by the ancient Greek poet Lucretius, a contemporary of Cicero.  In its 1700 plus lines De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) summarized the atomic theory of Democritus and the atheism of Epicurus, as well as laying out an ancient theory of evolution.  Bracciolini obtained permission to copy the text and over the following couple of decades distributed it to other scholars across Europe, giving birth to the Renaissance and its natural offspring, The Enlightenment.  Among thinkers who were influenced by De Rerum Natura were Giordano Bruno, Galileo Galilei, Thomas More, Niccolò Machiavelli, Montaigne, and Thomas Jefferson.  Oh, and lest I forget, Christopher Hitchens (He included a passage as the very first piece in his book The Portable Atheist.). Quite a fan club.
I mention all this because of a book I recently discovered, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.  In its pages, recently the recipient of a 2012 Pulitzer Prize, Stephan Greenblatt tells the story of the manuscript’s rediscovery and its influence, as well as highlighting some of the work’s more compelling contributions to modern thought and perhaps even the “sexual revolution”.
I am loving it, and I highly recommend it.  Get it and read it before the Religious Right hears about it and tries to have it banned.

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Incredibly…

Reports out of Afghanistan today indicate that Muslim extremists poisoned the water at a school for girls in order to prevent the girls from being properly educated, causing outrage to erupt among American Christians.

In other news, American Christians today rallied against the teaching of the theories of evolution and the Big Bang in public schools.

Yeah. No shit.

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