Thursday, July 31, 2008
And not just any rain. No, they want a rain of "biblical proportions", one that will trigger flood advisories, "swamp the intersections", make conference attendees "want hip-waders", and prohibit the news cameras from seeing Obama on the podium.
Upon thinking about it, this actually is pretty consistent for conservative Christians. Instead of compassionately letting people express their views, they want to convince God to destroy the competition. As if he wouldn't have thought about it on his own.
If you want, you can watch the video here.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
This will be done in a series of posts, updated whenever.
Some readers may find some of my experiences surprising. Undoubtedly it will lead to questions on the part of anyone who is not me. Feel free to ask questions. I will do my best to answer them, either as a response, or in future chapters of the story.
I will write more-or-less in chronological order, mixed in with other topics as the need arises. At this time I do not know how many installments there will be, nor how long it will take.
It was the summer of my 13th year when I began having religious visions.
I had always been a religious kid, growing up in a hyper-Catholic family, going to Catholic school. But I also always have had a strong imagination, and when I was bored sitting in Church, I would imagine various monsters or demons destroying the church and killing people until I used my divine powers to save everyone.
There were times, receiving Communion in late grade school and into middle school, when I would experience a type of ecstasy. I would reflect on the idea that I had literally brought Jesus into me, and I felt a type of Greater Bond, an excited, awe-inspiring happiness. I told one of my nun teachers about it, and she considered that to be a very good thing. The parish priest suggested I think about becoming a priest. But the only reason I would have considered being a priest was if they let me perform exorcisms.
By 5th grade I had developed the habit of listening to music with my eyes closed, letting the sounds influence my daydreams. It was one of my favorite things to do - constructing my own surreal musical worlds.
When I was 13 years old, I was, like many American boys, trying to earn money by mowing lawns. One hot day I had just come back from mowing the lawn of my neighbors, two pretty college girls. I collapsed on my bed in my basement, and put on my newly favorite record (yes, record) - the soundtrack to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Closing my eyes, I submitted myself to the flow of the music, constructing and conducting soundscapes.
Towards the end of the record, however, I lost control of my daydream. It took over, and I was just along for the ride. The music led me through fantastical visions, both terrifying and exciting. The record ended and I was feeling very small and awestruck. There was an image similar to the space baby at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I opened my eyes and found myself curled up in the fetal position.
Once I pulled myself together, my fear at what happened was small compared to the fascination of it. I did not feel threatened in the slightest - I felt fresh, reborn, different. Though I can't remember for sure, I'm sure I took it as a sign from God. Doors had been opened to me.
I was going to start experiencing the world in a whole new way.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Happily Godless has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.
Here's an update: Cook, who is a member of the student Senate, is being impeached. The vote was 35-2 in favor of impeachment after 15 minutes of discussion. This starts an official investigation about whether Cook violated Senate ethics rules, which is based on allegations that he represented himself as a student government official at the religious service when it happened.
If that's not bad enough, his friend Benjamin Collard, is in trouble too, just for being at the service with Cook.
Collard says that he was trying to look at his class schedule and found out that a hold had been put on his account, and he couldn't sign up for classes. When he went to find out what was wrong, he discovered that Catholic Campus Ministries had filed charges against him - the exact same charges as against Cook.
These are the charges filed against both young men:
2) disruptive conduct
3) giving false identification
Collard says he never talked to anyone during the whole controversy. He didn't participate in the "wafer-napping", never lied about who he was, never talked to a university official.
If the charges stick to the two men, they can be expelled from the university.
Now, I wasn't there. I didn't witness the godnapping. I don't know if there was a big disruption or not. But come on. This modern-day witch hunt, a Christian jihad, against two college students? One just for being friends with the "criminal"?
I'm not saying Catholics shouldn't be offended. I understand their feelings towards their holy bread. But they're making themselves look like sadistic idiots. And it actually kind of scares me.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I also learned of Pastor Mark Biltz, who runs a Christian church in the Hebraic roots movement (which basically means taking Christianity and mixing it with Jewish traditions).
And I learned that Sept. 29 is known as a biblical holiday, the Feast of Trumpets.
What do those three things have in common with a large sporting event? Well, let me Pastor Biltz explain his global "Day of Shouting":
You know how at sporting events they have "the wave" where one group starts it and then it cycles all the way around back to the beginning? Do you remember how at the year 2000 they showed on television all the New Year celebrations going on around the world as the new millennium began? ...
Let's have an around the world shofar assembly in every time zone on the Feast of Trumpets at sunset announcing to Messiah we are awake and anxiously anticipating His return. What a dress rehearsal! Won't that stir His heart?
What this means is that he's organizing a world-wide "wave" of shofar trumpets. People and organizations are going to his website and committing to blow a shofar at the time of their sunset and then shout some version of God's name. This is done to let God know that they are ready for Jesus to return to earth.
Biltz asks everyone, "Will we show Abba a Tsunami or a Splash?"
You can see the list of people around the world who have committed to doing this here. Maybe you can find the people in your state doing it, and go ask them what the hell they're doing.
My biggest question is, if God can see into people's hearts, why is this even necessary? Does God need people blowing into animal horns and shouting to get His attention? This is such a literal interpretation of a supernatural deity, almost like the "primitive" gods that lived on mountains and stuff.
Monday, July 21, 2008
It's been awhile since I did a post like this. I stumbled upon this stunningly cruel birth defect by accident through YouTube (more on that in a minute). You can read the Wikipedia entry, but here is a general description of the condition:
Babies born with this condition have skin that basically consists of large reddish scales, diamond shaped. The skin doesn't bend or fold, it cracks. The eyelids are turned inside out. Ears, nose, and mouth and genitals may be malformed.
This was almost always fatal within a few days, either due to infection of the skin, overheating because the thick skin prevents heat loss, or breathing failure due to the skin restricting the chest from expanding enough to draw air. In recent years, some success has been had in helping the afflicted child live longer.
Here is a drawing of a fetus with the condition.
Normally, I include actual photos or videos of the topics I'm talking about. However, the drawing above is as far as I'm comfortable going with this topic on this page. For those who want to see more of the disease in real life, I offer the following two links.
PLEASE, BEFORE YOU CLICK ON THE LINKS, be certain you want to see them. These images are distressing beyond what you are probably imagining. I myself was not prepared for them when I saw them, and I can handle a lot. People who know me know I don't exaggerate things like this.
You don't have to see the images to understand the rest of the post.
Here's a link to a single photo: PHOTO
Here's a link to a YouTube video: VIDEO. It's heartbreaking and extremely difficult to watch all 3 minutes of it.
It's the video I want to discuss for a minute. For those who have decided not to watch the video, it is filmed by what I'm assuming are the parents of a child with this condition in the hospital. A man (the father?) is holding the child and singing a prayer to Allah while someone (I think the mother) is moving the camera all around the child's body.
I understand the man's prayer. However, what kind of god would create a situation like this? It's helpful to no-one, child or parents. A comment on the video says the man is saying that Allah is merciful and that everything has a reason. But possible reason could torturing a baby and its parents like this have?
Theists often report visceral reasons to believe in God - rainbows, beauty, etc.
For me, this is another visceral reason to say God couldn't exist - it's a product of blind genetic malfunction.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
They were joined at the hip. Which means that they had to have come from a double-yolk egg. This is extremely rare.
By the time a wildlife official came to get them, they refused to eat. One bird died Friday morning, and a vet later euthanized the other.
Natural history museums are reportedly interested in displaying them.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Hopefully you guys will not ban me, I was hoping to speak to intelligent white people, not just someone who's going to call me names like spic or whatever. But please feel free to call me a spic, I will nod my head and agree with you .
Ok to start off I am a Puerto Rican. DON'T SHOOT ME YET!, I respect your opinion on wanting to preserve your own race and culture. I kind of believe in something similar without wanting to hate other races . I have always been intrigued by the kkk and Nazis and just racist people in general. Not because I agree just because It's fun to know people believe in different things. Now heres my questions:
He asks several questions, but the most interesting, I think was this one:
If your daughter was dying or getting raped or mugged or something (god forbid) and I saved her, would you still hate me for being a spic? lol
And here are some of the interesting answers he got:
* Yes. One kind action is not going to make up for you or your entire race.
* I don't hate people just because they are "spics". I would thank you, reward you even for saving my daughter, but that doesn't make up for the mistakes of others within your same racial group. Your redeeming act does not redeem the entire race, but you personally, I would be thankful for having save a beautiful white girl from torture or death. Of course, I'd still want you to have sovereignty of your own - just because you helped me out wouldn't make me see you as an exception for removal from America, assuming you were in America.
* go back to puerto spico.
* I don't hate you for being a "spic", but I don't want you in my nation.
* Ya, LOL. I don't hate you now, why would I hate you after saving one of my family members. The only question might be how long before you visa runs out?
* if you stick the races together racial hate will become the norm. As the races have a natural apathy towards each other. But crammed together develop hostility. It's a natural law that exists to help stop the races from mixing and killing their diversity and hindering their evolution.
As you can see, the amount of hate is varied, but all responses share a common theme among White Nationalists - keeping America pure from any non-white influence.
Those poor deluded souls.
Other people wonder where I get this stuff from.
Let me answer the first question first. It's easy for most of us to assume that racism, homophobia, etc. are just rare blots on the face of an increasingly compassionate, educated, and reasonable world. And I do think that things are getting better every day, with every generation.
However, those haters are still there, still thriving. They tend not to advertise their opinions to those of us in the mainstream, because they know they're not appreciated. But that doesn't mean that they've all "learned their lesson". In fact, with Obama as the nation's first real African-American candidate for president, issues of race are pushing closer to the surface than they have in awhile.
So I put examples of this dark ignorance up for examination, to expose it, to remind myself (and by extension, you) that the world is not all warm and fuzzy, that we still need to fight for human rights for all people. Besides which, religion is often an underpinning for these beliefs. The technical term for activities like this is "opposition research".
As for where I get this stuff, well, I'll just say that it's not too hard to find these websites and forums if you really want to find them. I generally will not give out web addresses just because I don't want to help publicize them. I do this research and report on it so you don't have to.
It's all part of my atheistic belief that we can't rely on supernatural beings to take care of us - we need to do it ourselves.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Yes, an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle:
To give to a Christian teen summer camper. Or at least to a teen who puts up with the camp in order to get a free assault rifle
Controversy ensued and the giveaway was suddenly canceled because the guy that ran the competition, Jim Vineyard "injured his foot", and wasn't able to come. The church then denied that they had bought a gun for $800.
However, God intervened, because according to the camp website, someone donated a shotgun to the church camp so that the shooting competition/giveaway could continue.
God works in mysterious ways.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Speaking of the publisher, some people are curious to hear about my experiences because of past controversies regarding them.
The publisher of my book is Publish America. After I signed with them, I began hearing stories that they are kind of scammers. If you google, you'll find several stories of lawsuits against them. At first I thought I had screwed myself. But then I did further research. Here's what I found:
There were several complaints against the company:
1. It was an author mill that took any manuscript and approved it without looking at it. There were several hoaxes perpetrated to prove this.
2. They did no editing of manuscripts before printing them.
3. They did no publicizing or special effort to get books on actual bookstore shelves.
4. They cheated on paying royalties.
5. Authors must buy copies of their own book.
6. The books are priced higher than they should be.
The first thing I noticed about these claims that the most recent of them was from 2005. There have been no new allegations or news in at least 3 years. Also, despite looking like a widespread problem, I kept noticing the same names (or forum posters) over and over again.
Here is my experience of the four allegations above:
1. I have no idea. My book was a real book, and they approved it. That's what's most important for me.
2. This one seems to be true. They said they edited it and sent it back for my approval, where I found a good number of additional typos.
3. This one is true. However, they said that before I signed with them. They did not promise to do any ad campaigns, did not promise that my book would be on physical shelves. They emphasized the online presence of my book and said that it would be listed on all major book websites. This happened like they said.
4. I don't know about this one yet. They pay royalties twice a year. I will receive my first royalty check in September. There doesn't seem to be any way for me to check their numbers - I'm going to have to trust them. This makes me a little uncomfortable, but I'll wait and see how it plays out.
5. This is basically true. I got two free copies of my book upon publication. After that I must buy additional copies. However, I do get a discount of up to 50%. And there is no pressure to buy copies. I can buy or not.
6. This one is true. They priced my book at $19.95, where I think it should be something like $12.95-$14.95. They have probably priced it out of the reach of some young people, who I wrote the book for.
I have also found the publisher to be very communicative. The people I've spoken with on the phone are friendly. They respond to my questions promptly.
So, on the whole, so far I'm happy with them. It didn't cost one penny to get published. No matter what my royalties are, they're basically pure profit. I've bought copies of my book, but that was my decision. I've never felt any pressure to buy anything.
So do I recommend using Publish America to get published? Yes, with reservations. You need to be sure on your own that your manuscript is in good shape, and find your own editor if you're not. You need to be ok with the fact that it's an independent publisher and will not do your advertising for you.
Of course, Publish America is not as good as the big guys. But it was much easier to get my book in print, to get my message out. That's what's most important. And in 7 years, my contract with Publish America expires. Perhaps I can use this experience to get noticed and picked up by the bigger guys after that.
Perhaps Publish America really was bad, and did some cleaning up of it's act over the past 3 years. But personally speaking, a lot of the complaints against Publish America have more than a little smell of sour grapes. These may be people that are pissed off that their books didn't turn into instant best-sellers and want something to blame other than the fact that their writing was probably pretty terrible (I've read some other books from the publisher, and they do seem to have pretty low standards for acceptance. A lot of the writing is crap).
I hope I'm not deluding myself into thinking that my writing is better than most of those other books.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
College student Webster Cook goes to school in Florida. He went to mass, and as people do, went to communion.
Now, let me pause for some explanation so this story will make a little more sense to non-Catholics. The Catholic church believes very strongly in the doctrine of transubstantiation, which means that once the priest does his hocus-pocus over the communion bread wafer, the bread actually turns into the body of Jesus. Not physically - the bread doesn't turn into human flesh - but spiritually. When you eat the communion wafer, you are eating Jesus. A sort of holy spiritiual cannibalism.
Anyway, back to the story. Webster Cook went up to communion, took the wafer, but didn't eat it. Instead he took it out of the church and walked around with it.
As people found out, they became furious. He took the communion wafer back, but apparently that wasn't enough. He says he's getting death threats for messing with someting sacred.
The University says that Webster Cook is not in any trouble. This really pisses off the Catholic League, which is a national organization concerned with Catholic rights. The Catholic League expects the University to take this seriously, to send a message that "this kind of really complete sacrilege will not be tolerated". They also believe that "if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like it might be it."
So let me get this straight. Eating Jesus is fine. But taking him for a walk is a hate crime. If it were all that serious, why didn't Jesus make an escape from the godnapper? Why didn't God strike him dead or paralyze him or something? No, Jesus just sat there in the guy's hand.
Kind of like a plain old piece of bread would do.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
There's a good video about it from "AC 360" on CNN. I can't figure out how to put a CNN video on this page, so you'll have to go here.
It almost makes me want to join the military just so I can be an open atheist. And an open gay guy.
Except I would probably end up being killed by "friendly fire".
In today's episode of "Hater's corner", we have a White Nationalist (which are people like members of the KKK or neo-Nazis, etc., who want to keep their countries racially, ethnically, and sexually "pure") who is wondering why so many other white people don't agree with him. Here is his post:
I just want to know how much stupid liberal brainwashed anti-racist white people are against, are white nationalist beliefs. It seems like alot of people are against us and are movement, so does anyone have an estiment of how much retards disagree with us white nationalist?
And here is the answer, from another guy who has apparently thought this through:
jews if you consider them white. white homosexuals, white liberals, white diseased, mixed raced whites, whites that want to save the world, whites that do drugs, whites that molster and rape. etc etc its just commonsense just keep it simple
Monday, July 7, 2008
However, there is something about McCain that has gotten a little bit of press (though not a lot) that really does bother me.
John McCain is superstitious.
It was first noticed in his 2000 campaign. It has continued on to this year.
Here are some highlights:
* He thinks it's bad luck to take a salt shaker from somebody's hand.
* He won't throw a hat on a bed, because then someone in his family will die.
* In his pockets he carries a lucky feather, a lucky compass, a lucky penny, a lucky nickel, a lucky quarter, and a laminated 4-leaf clover.
* He won't pick up a coin if it is tails up. This is why his pockets above don't have a lucky dime - when he found a dime laying on the stage of a debate in the Reagan Presidential library, he bent over for a closer look. It was tails up. So he left it alone.
(McCain is of Irish descent. According to lore, the Irish have always had a thing about coins - If a coin is heads up, it's lucky. If it is tails up, the poor should get it. I wonder if the poor get the bad luck, too?)
McCain's superstitions are spreading. Starting in one of his stops in Kansas City, his staffers began knocking on wood along with McCain. His top advisor refuses to shave until the election is over.
And to top it all off, his official campaign headquarters are on the 13th floor of a highrise in Arlington. Of course, 13 is a bad number, so McCain had the building change floor 13 to floor M. For McCain. Even though M is the 13th letter of the alphabet.
Yeah, this stuff is funny. But what worries me is how much of his superstitions may influence his decisions as president.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Rocky Twyman is a Seventh-day Adventist, who realizes that high gas prices are a bad thing. So he has been holding prayer services at various gas stations around the country in order to bring them down. Apparently that wasn't effective, so he decided to move his prayer vigils to the Saudi-Arabian embassy in Washington D.C., in the hopes that God would move the oil country to release more oil barrells.
Interestingly, Twyman has also decided to do more than just pray, now - he is asking passersby to sign a petition. When he was asked about this, he replied,
"I think we have just entered a new phase. We were in the prayerful phase, but now we're going into a more activist phase, because we feel that whole faith without works is dead," Twyman told reporters.
Hmm. I can just see these groups of people gathered around gas pumps, praying, probably like our ancestors did when they prayed for rain. It's also interesting that as prayer alone doesn't seem to be working, they do more active work. But of course, it won't be their actions that bring success, it'll be the prayer.
I'm not sure how I feel about this one:
19-year-old Max Sanders lives in Minnesota. Like many young people (unfortunately), he doesn't really care much about politics or the presidency. So he decided to put his vote up for bid on eBay.
He set the beginning price at $10, and offered to take a picture of his vote as proof he voted as the winner wanted.
Here's the problem: his auction was halted right away because he broke a state law prohibiting selling your vote.
The law had good origins, I think, as it was designed to combat the practice during Prohibition when people would go into bars and give drunks $20 to convince them to vote. We do need to make sure things like that don't happen.
But is this that kind of case? It seems more of a joke or a sarcastic comment on society than a serious problem. The county prosecutor even admits that he isn't aware of people really trying to buy votes in modern times. Is this a "slippery slope" case? If this were allowed to happen once, would it happen more and more until it became a real problem?
While the charge technically carries up to 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine, nobody expects the student to get more than community service. The prosecutor says the charge is is more of a statement to respect such an important process.
But who is making the better statement, the apathetic college student or the patriotic prosecutor?
Friday, July 4, 2008
Now I would like to pause right here. If you read the title of this entry, you might suspect that this story will continue with a weird story of Bentley being "saved" by a faith healer. But no, actually, Bentley became the faith healer! He converted to Christianity at 18, and has caused some controversy with his revivals, where he recounts his adventures healing people. The highlights are below:
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Of course, FOX News then suggested it might be a "terrorist fist jab":
But not one to get left out of the hipness, George Bush tries it out with a youngster:
I love America!!!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
As hinted at in a recent post, I have long been fascinated with the neo-Nazi/White supremacist movement. It stems from an earlier job working on civil rights issues. I read their forum posts and peruse their websites. I'm a firm believer in what's called "opposition research" - keep an eye on the enemy.
Because of that, and because of the nature of society today, I have decided to occasionally put posts here of what's going on with members of that community. It's an effort to shine the light on a murky subject and subculture. I don't think I have to state that the opinions of the "White Nationalist" movement are not mine. Besides, being a white, openly gay teacher in a minority school gets me branded as a faggot race-traitor, and they would happily give me part of the tree that they might use to lynch people of color.
So here we go:
I was recently surprised to learn that the hate movements are starting to open up to non-believers; it was generally accepted that one's religious affiliation had to be either Christian (like the KKK) or followers of a Nordic mish-mash of gods and philosophies (the neo-Nazis). Here is a recent forum post:
I attend gatherings that have C.I./Odinist/Athiest/Etc... As a
Christian I serve God through service to my race. I don't argue
religion or anything like that. I respect your beliefs and will never
turn my back on Jesus. I do not believe for 1 second that he was/is
Jewish but I salute those who are racially aware and wear the uniform
of white skin, no matter your faith. In the trenches, in this war, we
are allies! I am hoping for the day that all of us - KKK/National
Socialist/Skinheads/etc... can stand in unity and quit the infighting.
Doesn't that make you atheists out there feel all welcome?
I've also been struck by current racist fashion: Here are two shirts that are popular right now: