Monday, May 13, 2013
Brace yourself for this Monday Music. It packs an emotional punch.
If you are going through a tough time, maybe give this one a pass.
Before Adele, there was George Michael:
One More Try
I've had enough of danger
And people on the streets
I'm looking out for angels
Just trying to find some peace
Now I think it's time
That you let me know
So if you love me
Say you love me
But if you don't just let me go...
There are things that I don't want to learn
And the last one I had
Made me cry
So I don't want to learn to
Hold you, touch you
Think that you're mine
Because it ain't no joy
For an uptown boy
Whose teacher has told him goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
When you were just a stranger
And I was at your feet
I didn't feel the danger
Now I feel the heat
That look in your eyes
Telling me no
So you think that you love me
Know that you need me
I wrote the song, I know it's wrong
Just let me go...
There are things
That I don't want to learn
Oh the last one I had
Made me cry
So I don't want to learn to
Hold you, touch you
Think that you're mine
Because it ain't no joy
For an uptown boy
Whose teacher has told him goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
So when you say that you need me
That you'll never leave me
I know you're wrong, you're not that strong
Let me go
There are things
That I still have to learn
But the one thing I have is my pride
Oh so I don't want to
Hold you, touch you
Think that you're mine
Because there ain't no joy
For an uptown boy
Who just isn't willing to try
I'm so cold
Maybe just one more try...
Friday, May 10, 2013
|photo credit: David Joles, Minnesota Star Tribune|
The Minnesota House made history Thursday, voting 75-59 to legalize same-sex marriage after three hours of heartfelt speeches from members on both sides of the issue.
The Senate is expected to OK the bill soon, and Gov. Mark Dayton has pledged to sign it into law.
In a closing statement just before the House vote, the bill’s author, Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, acknowledged that many opponents believe the change will “redefine marriage.’’ But Clark rightly pointed out that extending the right to same-sex couples “strengthens the meaning’’ of marriage by making it more inclusive. Minnesota Star Tribune, May 9, 2013.
|House Majority Leader Erin Murphy|
hugs Rep. Steve Simon who spoke on
the house floor in defense of
Minnesotans should be proud to be in such good company. It speaks volumes about our sense of fairness to be among the pioneering states on this important equal-rights issue. editorial staff at MN Star Tribune, May 9, 2013.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
Full story here.
Here's to you Minnesota! Mazel tov!
|photo credit: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune|
Good Morning, Humans.
Why yes, I am comfortable, thank you.
My humans prefer to have me very close by when they are trying to work.
I keep things running smoothly around here, you know.
If I hadn't blocked the workspace like this, how would my human have remembered to
feed me treats, give me belly scritches and show me who's boss?
I am comfortable and in case you did not know this:
I am the boss!
Thank gods it's FreyaDay!
Training Your Human
Training your human is a thankless task.
"Why bother with it?", some kittens may ask.
The fate of the world is the issue at hand,
as felines worldwide stake a claim for their land.
Make no bones about it, we cats own the joint.
We spray in the corners to drive home the point.
Some say the meek shall inherit the Earth,
But they've no fangs or claws, for what that's worth.
The cat is the ultimate species, you see,
We're poised to usurp man's authority.
These silly old humans who cannot play nice!
We cats are peaceful, we hate only mice.
Just what does training your human entail?
A host of fun things you must do without fail:
The sofas and rugs need a little makeover.
The La-Z-Boy's target for kitty takeover.
Then sleep on clean towels placed in the guest bath.
And make their best clothing a target of wrath.
Tear down those new drapes with a quick forceful tug.
Then tatter the pile of the new Berber rug.
And when they are sleeping, you block off their nose,
paw at their lower lip, chew on their toes.
Strut on the mantle. If they give any flack,
knock down their trophies and all bric-a-brac.
Shed on mom's new velvet black evening gown,
as she's headed out for a night on the town.
If they leave you home all alone for the night,
(Any human doing this can't be all that bright),
They're telling you by leaving, it's perfectly all right,
To totally redecorate 'til dawn's early light.
Knock over tables and chew up the fern.
Hurry, go faster! Soon, they'll return...
When they try to punish, you mustn't show concern.
(All attempts of discipline a pussycat should spurn.)
A snide flick of tail will convey no remorse,
but they will try harder to scold you, of course!
So, hide in the closet until they forget,
and then launch out just like an F-14 jet.
Tear up their ankle, their forearm, their hand,
then when they've had all the pain they can stand,
dart from the room while they call 9-1-1,
and celebrate victory: The felines have won!
To humans, however, the battle's begun,
as they steep in their anger and wish for a gun.
Pathetic and lumbering and clumsy to boot,
My friend, human dominance is really a hoot.
Take charge in your home. It's destiny, meow.
(The verses above have already told how.)
So sleep for an hour, and then grab some chow,
And then train your human, beginning right now.
|Artemis occasionally gets the mistaken idea that she, too, is in charge. Silly Artemis!|
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
via skyguyuk (hat tip to richardguru who posted a link to this treasure on Pharyngula)
This may be the best thing you look at all week! For your Thorsday Tonic this week, I was planning to post "Star Trekkin'". But why wait until Thorsday? Let's make it a Wednesday Wonder!
Context: So, it seems like the entire Facebook universe is sharing an AUDI S7 video ad featuring Leonard Nimoy (Spock, the original) and Zachary Quinto (Spock, recent incarnation).
Undeniably, the Audi ad rocks! If you have the spare chunk of change, I order all NiftyReaders to race right out to your local dealer and buy one of those cars at once! haha not really. But, wow, if awesome ads could ensure marketing success, Audi for the win!
For the younger crowd, the little 60's-vibe ditty ("Bilbo Baggins") that Leonard Nimoy is groovin' to as he drives to the club may be the most rocking thing about the entire ad - which is saying a lot! The video at the top of this post fills in the missing context. Enjoy!
And, because it is just so full of win, here is the Audi ad:
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Urgent: If you're short on time, skip my essay and go straight to the excellent video at the bottom of this post. I've written about this before, but this video is well worth watching - in a short, fast-paced documentary, Sophia's investigation makes the case far better than my verbosity ever could.
The Child Evangelism Fellowship is a Christian dominionist group which directly proselytizes to young children in public schools, often in defiance of the wishes of parents (see shocking video below as parent group tries, unsuccessfully, to protest). The vehicle through which the CEF gains access to your children, whether you want them to have access or not, is the Good News Club. You may have heard of them. They are not "good news". The Good News Club is an ideological and psychological attack on our children by the Christian right.
filthy, dirty sinners who deserve to die and burn in hell forever and ever, the CEF has been crowing about its ability to target your child preferably without your approval and especially if you are trying to raise your child with a different religious worldview. Yes, the CEF prefers - and relishes - the fact that they have been given government power to inflict psychological harm on your children without your consent. They delight in the fact that you are powerless to prevent them from spreading their "gospel" of hate, shame and fear:
“How’s it going at that school you were telling me about? The one where the principal was - you know - uncooperative?” a gray-haired gentleman in a plaid button-down shirt asks a younger friend in a white vest.
“We slaughtered ’em!” the younger man replies.
They both nod, satisfied. Throughout the convention, a phrase that I keep hearing is “kicking in the doors” — as in
“We’re going to kick in the doors of every public school in the country!” (excerpt from The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children).
Some parents may approve of these messages—but many, like Havener, find them antithetical to the values they want to instill in their own children. Because the club doesn’t reveal its hardline approach at the outset, it can end up converting children away from their parents’ beliefs. In fact, this is one of the Club’s explicit goals. At one CEF conference I attended, CEF leaders strategized about how to convert the children of Hispanic families.
“Don’t discredit the Catholic church,” a head of CEF’s Spanish ministries named Claudia Calderon warned a room full of Good News Club instructors. “At least, not at the beginning.” Do Evengelical Kids Clubs Deserve Freedom of Speech in Public Schools? Katherine Stewart, The Atlantic, March 2012.
One would think that the public discussions of Jesus Camp, and the disturbing videos which came out about it, would have alerted concerned parents to the danger of letting religion have a free pass to indoctrinate their youngsters, but apparently not. Religion is given a pass once more. Actually, religion is not just given a pass but is still presumed to be, on the whole, a positive and good thing for children, even by parents who would be horrified if they knew the true intentions of religious proselytizers who have targeted their children for training as warriors for Jesus.
The CEF has been teaching the story of the Amalekites at least since 1973. In its earlier curriculum materials, CEF was euphemistic about the bloodshed, saying simply that "the Amalekites were completely defeated." In the most recent version of the curriculum, however, the group is quite eager to drive the message home to its elementary school students. The first thing the curriculum makes clear is that if God gives instructions to kill a group of people, you must kill every last one:
"You are to go and completely destroy the Amalekites (AM-uh-leck-ites) – people, animals, every living thing. Nothing shall be left."
"That was pretty clear, wasn't it?" the manual tells the teachers to say to the kids.
|The Slaughter of the Amalekites|
"If you are asked to do something, how much of it do you need to do before you can say, 'I did it!'?"
"If only Saul had been willing to seek God for strength to obey!" the lesson concludes.
Even more important, the Good News Club wants the children to know, the Amalakites were targeted for destruction on account of their religion, or lack of it. The instruction manual reads:
"The Amalekites had heard about Israel's true and living God many years before, but they refused to believe in him. The Amalekites refused to believe in God and God had promised punishment." How Christian fundamentalists plan to teach genocide to schoolchildren,Katherine Stewart, The Guardian.
These Christian proselytizing vehicles won the right to insert themselves into public schools under the deceptive and insidious ruling (one of the few majority opinions authored by the conservative Clarence Thomas) in 2001. In that decision (Good News Club vs Milford Central School), the Supreme Court Justice disingenuously agreed with the CEF defense that the clubs were not religious in nature at all, but were merely clubs performing the laudable function of “teaching of morals and character development from a particular viewpoint”. Nothing to worry about there, right? But, wait. Here is the CEF viewpoint, straight from their "About Us" webpage:
|Jesus Camps and Good News Clubs:|
nothing but good, harmless fun!
Many parents uncritically accept these clubs as being what their deliberately kid-friendly name implies: a club for harmless fun and a sense of belonging, in the spirit of the Good News Bears. These parents either do not realise or do not want to realise that the raison d'être of Good News Clubs is to convert children and turn them into Christian evangelicals. These clubs are designed to pull in children under false pretenses (in many cases offering after-school care which is almost irresistible to parents who are struggling with poorly paid jobs and a lack of affordable child-care which is becoming a national crisis) and then convert them to fundamentalist Christianity. The benign-sounding name, the lure of a fun-sounding "club" and the fact that the children are often strongly encouraged to join by respected authorities (the schools) are all part of an insidious strategy to gain access to children without the truly informed consent of their parents and, obviously, of the children themselves. School acceptance of these clubs, mandated by the Supreme Court, means that both children and their parents are deceived into thinking that the secular, public schools endorse these religious clubs - and that there is no deeper agenda - which is one of the main reasons why the CEF fought so hard and so dishonestly to get them into public schools in the first place.
The Christian church has long used childhood indoctrination to ensure that obedient and thoroughly cowed legions of believers continue to swell their ranks, providing them with the power of numbers, financial wealth and, of course, warriors willing to die for their god/church/divinely appointed rulers. It has always been in the interest of those who hold power to have a large faith following, and religion has provided both the means and the ends.
|"Knock down all doors, all the barriers,|
to all 65,000 public elementary schools in America
and take the Gospel to this open mission field now!
Not later, now!"
(CEF national convention keynote speech, 2010)
Young children have no defenses against deliberate indoctrination. When they are taught to fear a god through stories which illustrate the god's relentlessly violent and implacably unforgiving reaction - not to lying, stealing and murdering which the Biblical god often condones and even orders, but to disbelief and disobedience - they learn the lesson through fear and they learn it well. The Biblical god is a terrifyingly powerful "awesome" god and the one "sin" He will never forgive is lack of belief. The children are primed first with the "fun" and then the stories are told, gradually leading to the point when the children are tearfully, fearfully professing "belief".
Research has shown that one of the most powerful human motivators is fear, and one of the most difficult psychological challenges to overcome is irrational fear, especially fear that has taken root in the mind at an early age. Religious proselytizers know this, and this is why they are so insistent upon childhood indoctrination. Children are vulnerable to lifelong damage from the powerful emotional appeal of fear and guilt-based religious proselytizing. They cannot "unthink" terrible thoughts which have been planted in their minds early. They cannot "unfeel" the horror and the fear that is elicited in their psyches through early Bible instruction.
Religious eschatology - and the terrifying images it evokes - is nothing less than psychological abuse of children. Yet, not only are parents permitted to subject their own children to these horrors, but religious groups are being permitted to sneak their fundamentalist religious indoctrination into public and private schools where they can prey on other peoples' children as well. In fact, gaining access to the children of parents who would not voluntarily subject their children to this violent, misanthropic and destructive theology is precisely the purpose of the Good News Club.
|What we don't want to know|
may seriously harm the USA.
Telling ourselves that one powerful religious group really cannot take over like that or kidding ourselves that the first amendment will protect people from religious tyranny is being willfully blind, deaf and dumb. As we have seen with the concurrent (and not merely coincidental) strategy of powerful groups to get issues affecting minorities' Constitutional rights onto ballots so that they can be put to a majority vote, the longterm objectives of the conservative right wing have been carefully and patiently planned. There is a real danger that the majority can use its power and clout to force their view on the minority until the power is so nearly total that complete annihilation of opposing viewpoints is achieved. The 2001 case heard by the SCOTUS is where the freedom from religion part should have been upheld – but the court has also been swayed by the power of the Christian majority.
Why is Katherine Stewart's nearly the only voice which has been raised publicly about this? Last year and again this year P Z Myers and Ophelia Benson blogged about it, as have I and some other bloggers, but why has this not been discussed in the mainstream media? It is a constitutional issue - a civil rights and religious freedom issue. Yet, the silence of the fourth estate is deafening.
This may be one of those things where people who care about this country and who care about preserving religious freedom may have to make the effort to stand up for it, or risk losing it. The issue is now urgent. Please take half an hour to watch this thoroughly chilling video.
from ScottBurdick again: Sophia Investigates The Good News Club.
Monday, May 6, 2013
For your Monday Music today, Great Big Sea's tongue-in-cheek ditty about the false dichotomy between belief/conformity/sanity vs. unbelief/individuality/depravity.
Wouldn't it be great, if no one ever got offended
Wouldn't it be great to say what's really on your mind
I have always said 'all the rules are made for bending'
And if I let my hair down, would that be such a crime?
I wanna be consequence free
I wanna be where nothing needs to matter
I wanna be consequence free
just sing Na Na Na Na Na Ne Na Na Na
I could really use, to lose my Catholic conscience
Cuz I'm getting sick of feeling guilty all the time
I won't abuse it, Yeah I've got the best intentions
For a little bit of anarchy but not the hurting kind
I couldn't sleep at all last night
cause I had so much on my mind
I'd like to leave it all behind,
but you know it's not that easy
Wouldn't it be great, if the band just never ended
We could stay out late and we would never hear last call
We wouldn't need to worry about approval or permission,
we could - slip off the edge and never worry about the fall
Saturday, May 4, 2013
|Why are there so many infants in this homeschooling logo? Curious!|
(Updated with reader Elise's comment and my response below)
I have been curious about homeschooling lately. I have always been pretty certain that I do not have the temperament for it, because even though I always loved spending time exploring with my kids when they were younger - not to mention reading with them and amassing a book collection worthy of small library status - I knew that I lacked the organizational skills and the stick-to-it-iveness necessary for success. I have to admit, though, that some days the idea of sailing around the world with my partner and our kids - providing them with the best darn home-schooled education imaginable - is very tempting indeed!
|Actors portraying the Nifty family:|
citizens of the world!
Everyone knows that the homeschooling movement in the USA is dominated by religious fundamentalists - the movement was actually inspired by Rousas John Rushdoony, the Calvinist father of American Christian Reconstructionism - but I happen to know at least one secular homeschooler (Hi Jenn!) so it has to be at least hypothetically possible that not everything connected to homeschooling would have to be drenched in the blood of Jesus.
|Yikes! Website banner for Homeschooling Books.com|
Education in the shadow of the cross? That is just creepy.
Perusing the google search page again, I typed in homeschool textbooks to see how easy it might be to find books and materials to support a homeschooling curriculum as suggested on the website. At the top of the search results was Homeschooling Books. I clicked on it only to discover that it was obviously geared toward the Christian homeschooling community in spite of its deceptively bland website name and description.
Homeschool Supercenter!) looked much more promising. Their textbook menu included specifically Christian resources and texts, of course, since the majority of homeschooling families are homeschooling for explicitly religious reasons. But at the top of the menu - even before the undoubtedly more popular Christian resources - were several categories of secular textbooks!
Feeling delighted that the second most referred site on the google search for homeschool textbooks offered resources for secular homeschooling, I clicked on the secular science tab and voilà! A little intermediary page of full curricula packages popped up. On it, not one real science package was featured, but prominently displayed on the top line was "Apologia", a creationist vomitus of Biblical mythology and anti-education, wrapped up in a fancy package with a SCIENCE label slapped on it.
I have news for the Homeschool Supercenter: creationism is not science. Calling it science does not make it science. Slapping on a SCIENCE label not only will not make that creationist dreck science, but it is false advertising as well.
|8th edition of a creationist textbook|
It must be interesting - not to mention a constant training ground for investigative skills - for secular homeschoolers to avoid the traps that appear to have been laid for them by the Christian homeschool movement. Presenting religious mythology in sciency-looking packages and hiding religious dogma in sciency-sounding language in textbooks and materials is the sneaky tactic used by the religious right to trick people into buying that garbage. If they are really lucky, they hope that people will buy into the nonsense, too, thus fulfilling the greater goal of the religious education strategy, which is to deny children a full education - especially denying them an understanding of the scientific method, free thought and skeptical critical thinking skills - thus keeping them ignorant, fearful followers of the teachings of their church.
Parents are free, of course, to deny their children a full education. In fact, it appears that millions have decided to do just that. Encouraged by anecdotal data which point to superior performance of homeschoolers compared to public school educated children, many homeschool parents are rightly proud of what their children - and they - are able to achieve. But those "statistics"* hide the complete story. Standardized tests can only test what children can regurgitate under less than ideal conditions, not how well-devloped their critical thinking skills have become. There is no way to know whether they have been taught to simply memorize actual scientific theories (which they are told are lies) for testing purposes, while being taught that religious mythology is the actual truth which they must believe or face eternal damnation.
|Christian homeschooling websites often post|
optimistic - and totally fabricated - charts like this.
The Christian homeschooling movement continues to grow. According to hopeful Christian homeschooling websites (quickly google** "homeschooling statistics" or similar), it will continue to grow a lot. I wonder if secular homeschooling is likewise growing? I am going to keep my eye on this topic because it is related to some other things I am working on about education and the power of the religious right.
Meanwhile, however, I will just keep dreaming!
*My own informal search on the internet for a source of this type of "statistic" report outside the homeschool community turned up zilch. All of the charts and diagrams showing homeschooling superiority that filled pages of goggle** search results came from homeschooling websites and blogs.
** I accidentally typed "goggle" instead of "google", but really, I did sort of goggle at it, too.
There is a short string of old comments below the original Hmm...Homeschooling post which I won't republish here. If you are interested in reading what a Christian apologist has to say, then you can read it here.
The reason why I am reposting the essay now is to post an unexpected new comment which arrived back in January. It took me several days to notice the new comment on a much older post, but when I did I was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful effort that the reader had given to it.
I was knee-deep in other projects through most of the winter, so it took me awhile to get back to this topic and to reply to the comment, which I think deserved an equally thoughtful reply. Thank you for your patience, Elise, and thank you again for an excellent contribution!
Here is Elise's comment and my response:
Friday, May 3, 2013
TGIF! If you are planning to watch a movie tonight, why not consider putting the film linked below on the schedule. It is entertaining, fast-paced and will definitely give you plenty to think and talk about with your family and friends. I've been actively following the rise of Christian fundamentalism in North America for over a decade, but I was still surprised and shocked by some of the revelations this documentary uncovers. It isn't speculation or fear-mongering. There is minimal editorializing: nearly every word in this film comes straight from the sources' mouths - whether the source is an atheist rally attendee, a Republican legislator, a famous scientist or a Christian fundamentalist. The words of Nate Phelps, estranged son of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church patriarch Fred Phelps, are particularly moving especially considering that as he spoke on the Washington mall that chilly afternoon, he knew he was being watched, judged and hated by the people who should have been closest to him - his own family.
On March 24, 2012, thousands of atheists, humanists, rationalists and social justice activists gathered on the mall in Washington DC for a first of its kind event: a Reason Rally. Estimates of the size of the Reason Rally crowd ranged from 20,000 to 30,000 people. Individuals traveled on their own time and on their own dime from all over the country to attend, to listen to rational speakers and to sound the alarm that the principle of separation of church and state is under attack.
The American Constitution is a precious treasure, the envy of the world. The First Amendment of the Constitution, which enshrines the separation between church and state, is the model for secular constitutions the world over and deserves to be imitated the world over. How sad it would be if in the birthplace of secular constitutions the very principle of secular constitutions were to be betrayed in a theocracy. But it's come close to that. Richard Dawkins, Biologist, Reason Rally speech, March 24, 2012.
Unlike the religiously-fueled, corporate-backed rally organized in the late summer of 2010 - where thousands of the approximately 85,000 attendees arrived by the busload, their travel organized and paid for by their churches - the Reason Rally was barely acknowledged by the mainstream media. Beck's scripted and stage-managed "grass roots" event enjoyed enormous media attention and prime time publicity on every major news outlet, while the Reason Rally - which actually was primarily a grass roots event - was largely ignored. Only after the event was over did a few media outlets belatedly mention that it had occurred at all. A few noted with surprise that as many as 30,000 godless Americans had gathered peacefully in one place (although they avoided actually giving publicity to any of the ideas the rally was trying to promote), while most simply stated that a rally had taken place and left it at that.
Fortunately, Scott Burdick was on hand filming, interviewing and working hard to preserve a record of this remarkable gathering. He then went home and began work on this documentary film project which would do justice not only to the rally itself, but which would help explain why this rally was so important.
American society is facing an urgently serious crisis. Radicalized Christianity is not simply a growing problem; it has been a growing problem for decades. Because of our cultural taboo against criticizing religion, Christianism has been mostly flying under the radar doing its organizing, proselytizing, infiltrating and undermining secular government and education while presenting the bland face of tradition to the world. Meanwhile, the moderate majority of Americans has been aiding and abetting religious extremism by refusing to consider that radicalization can happen at home as well as abroad.
We continued to believe that religion is mainly a beneficial part of society and that religious extremism is a very tiny fringe element of a mostly benign cultural treasure even as extreme conservatives began to trickle into higher and higher public offices. We persisted in lying to ourselves that the conservatives we voted for were fiscal conservatives who would not impose their religious beliefs on the public through the power of their elected posts. Then we stood by as these so-called fiscal conservatives began to pass bills spending wildly on corporate welfare and tax paydays for the wealthiest Americans (whose financial support they seem to universally enjoy) while restricting civil rights, limiting personal liberty (especially for women and minorities), scoffing at social justice and denying equal rights to many groups of citizens - all justified by their Christian faith.
Faith is a vice pretending to be a virtue, its lies and errors and frothy nonsense deluding us and distracting us from action. There's no salvation in wishful thinking, only inertia. Faith is the enemy of reason. It's the barren refuge of the vacuous, the fearful, the frauds, and the obstacles to accomplishment. P Z Myers, Biologist, Reason Rally speech, March 24, 2012.
The persistent belief that Christianity is a benign - even beneficial - force in society, coupled with the undeserved deference we all pay to religion, has been the key to preserving an environment in which insurgent, extremist Christian fundamentalism has flourished. We have allowed Christian conservatism to destabilize our political system, gut our social safety net and tear down the wall of separation between church and state. Acting through its political arm, the Republican party, the unholy alliance of corporatism and religion lobbied and succeeded in forcing measures through state legislatures and Congress which have increased ideological polarization in the country and widened the gap between rich and poor to a yawning chasm, while cementing in the public mind a false relationship between providing a social safety net and losing our personal liberty.
Christian conservatism has demonized anyone who dares to suggest that as a society we may have a duty to fulfill a social contract. By falsely equating the ideal of an American society where every man, woman and child can be guaranteed access to the tools to achieve a decent life with some sort of jack-booted nazi-socialist ideology, conservatives have succeeded in making social justice issues political kryptonite. They have demonized non-Christians (and especially non-theists) as the evil perpetrators of that imaginary ideology, forcing anyone hoping to run for public office to evince public religiosity lest he or she be tarred with the "godless, evil" brush, thus circumventing the 6th article of the Constitution which is supposed to protect candidates for public office from any religious test. They have stoked racial tensions and hammered on false linkages between race and crime, godlessness and evil, humanism and nihilism while denying the true link between gross inequality and all of social problems we face today. We are living through a civil cold war - brought about by the rampant social injustice and gross economic inequality which conservative policies have encouraged.
Atheists aren't angry because we're selfish, or bitter, or joyless. Atheists are angry because we have compassion. Atheists are angry because we have a sense of justice. Atheists are angry because we see millions of people being terribly harmed by religion, and our hearts go out to them, and we feel motivated to do something about it. Greta Christina, Writer, Reason Rally speech, March 24, 2012.
Christian fundamentalists despise America. They hate the ideals upon which the American republic was built. They dishonor the founding principles which protected this country from theocracy by establishing a secular government and barring any religion from wielding power over the civil rights of the people. They deny and try to rewrite the history of the revolution that sought to liberate this fledgling nation from the yoke of authoritarian religion thus enabling the closest thing to a truly free society ever known to humankind to be born. They have plotted and worked unceasingly to dismantle everything about America which made it a beacon of hope in the world - the Constitutional protections against authoritarianism - because everything America stands for conflicts with the authoritarian demands of their theocratic ambitions.
The greatest threat to the United States does not reside overseas. It lies in wait within our own borders, deep inside our most trusted communities. The most determined and implacable enemy of American liberty, justice and equality is American Christian fundamentalism. We've been sleeping with the enemy for decades.
It is time to wake up, America!
I have concluded through careful, empirical analysis and much thought that somebody is looking out for me, keeping track of what I think about things, forgiving me when I do less than I ought, giving me strength to shoot for more than I think I'm capable of. I believe they know everything that I do and think and they still love me and I've concluded after careful consideration that this person keeping score is me. Mythbuster Adam Savage, Reason Rally speech, March 24, 2012.
Here is part one of The March of Reason. I will be posting the other four parts as Friday features, but if you cannot wait to see them on this blog, the link to Scott Burdick's youtube site is below the film window. So far, only parts one and two have been uploaded there. I will be following his progress closely as he finishes the rest of the documentary and will post the remaining parts as Friday Features as they become available. Check back here to be sure not to miss them!
Documentary produced by Scott Burdick
Thanks to the Friendly Atheist for bringing attention to this excellent work!
Good Day, Humans.
It is the third of May. Yay May.
We had a lovely time last weekend.
Sunshine, birds singing, warm spring temperatures.
Yesterday, we woke up to snow.
Today, we woke up to more snow.
I have decided that my humans must be superhumans.
They work, they cook, they laugh and they give me scritches
in spite of the weather. Yay May.
Of course they are. They have me.
Thank gods it's FreyaDay!
Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries Make
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles it
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door, be
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks. Spring!
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Religious people in the USA will be pushing the National Day of Prayer into your face all day today. Yes, there has actually been a day mandated by Congress for the establishment of (Christian) prayer in nearly every government legislature, offices, schools and businesses throughout the land because, you know, the prioritizing of religious privilege had not been quite blatant enough before. There is another designation for today - the Day of Reason - but unlike the National Day of Prayer, it hasn't been widely publicized on national media or trumpeted proudly by our elected representatives.
There have been a few notable exceptions to the general bowing and scraping before the intimidation of religious power and a couple of mayors even proclaimed a Day of Reason to balance the national day of prayer. Most elected officials, however, refused to risk their careers by daring to champion the foundational principle upon which this country was built - the recognition that the establishment of authoritarian religion as a basis for any society leads to discrimination, injustice and eventually violence and brutal oppression. Instead, nearly all tugged their virtual forelocks, bowed their heads and murmured spells and incantations to one of the skygods in a show of obsequious respect for the dominant, hypervigilant, easily-offended, dangerously powerful Christian evangelical movement.
Those politicians - like non-Christians and non-believers everywhere - recognise the terrible truth. Religious privilege is so total, so oppressive and so vicious that to even suggest that forcing it on the population in the form of faith-based laws and "social services" might cause real harm to some citizens while reducing every citizen's liberty results in hysterical blowback. Fox "news" wasted no time this morning drawing an imaginary line spuriously connecting the Day of Reason to the Holocaust.
|Oh, those silly, angry atheists!|
The religious right has been working tirelessly for several decades to seize the kind of absolute political, economic and social power which they have been imperfectly prevented from grasping since the United States of America was formed, largely thanks to the wisdom of the founding fathers who inserted the Establishment clause into the Constitution. But, theocrats are patient. After the social revolutions in the 1960's they experienced a resurgence in energy and an implacable determination to take over the country once and for all, rolling back the clock on civil rights (especially women's rights). The first and most important step in their strategy was to promote the false idea that "secularism" is a religion like Christianity - although naturally secularism is a godless (and therefore evil) religious cult. By drawing a false parallel between "faith" and "godless secularism", they laid the groundwork to polarize society into "good" and "bad" camps, where the price of accepting anything outside of religion as possibly good for society was to be put in the "bad" camp. And those in the "bad" camp, being compared to Hitler and all, might just be righteously punished at some point, amirite?
|Just for the record...|
In the past decade, as the destructive power of the Christian theocratic movement finally began to be so obvious that even religious moderates could not fail to notice it, a group of atheists began to push back against religious hegemony. Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have all written famous (and infamous) books on the dangers of handing unfettered power over to religious believers. Their work started a movement which has grown slowly but surely - containing both non-theists and theists who share a grave concern for the future of this country if theocrats continue to ride the wave of unquestioned religious privilege to the highest seats of political power.
Last year, Richard Dawkins teamed up with another outspoken atheist - physicist Lawrence Krauss - to make a movie about this movement and the vitally important work it is trying to do. The movie's premiere this week in Toronto quickly brought out the usual attacks and insinuations that without religion, human beings are reduced to hopeless nihilism:
Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss double down on disbelief, the Globe and Mail, April 30, 2013.
New film examines science vs. religion, CNN belief blog, April 29, 2013.
A better and more thoughtful interview came at GlobalNews (Canada): Dawkins, Krauss have faith in 'The Unbelievers', John R. Kennedy, GlobalNews, April 29, 2013.
Here is the official trailer for The Unbelievers. You need to see this movie!
One final word. It's been true for all of history and is still true today. It doesn't matter what flavor of religion they practice, when they carry their religious beliefs to their logical conclusion, true believers are literally capable of anything:
*I refuse to link to any of the sites which demonize rational, reasonable human beings in this manner, but a simple google search for "evil, atheists" should reveal as much as you need to see to understand that this is a real problem.