Archive for December, 2009

Hunger for Human Family Values

Posted in Atheist, culture, freethought, humanity, life, logic, random, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2009 by chouck017894

Chronic hunger threatens over one billion persons today, which means that at minimum one-sixth of all humanity is facing a starvation crisis.  Even recently in the United States, for example, during the fairly good economic times in 1999, there were some 31 million persons that were either hungry or uncertain of their next meal.  Of these 12 million were children.  Today, worldwide, about 24,000 persons, the majority of them children, die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes.

In Niger, for example, 3.6 million persons face starvation.  Children starve to death inside refugee camps in Yemen, and tens of thousands of children outside the camps, at least 100,000 of them under the age of fifteen.  In Madagascar 250,000 children under the age of five face the crisis of malnutrition.  The hunger situation is worldwide:  Nepal, Ethiopia, India, Haiti, Afghanistan, Nigeria—on and on.

The callousness displayed by “we are god’s favorites” righteous belief systems toward the hunger crisis for the over one billion persons facing a starvation crisis today is hypocritical, to say the least.  Consider: in Gaza the Red Cross found the Israeli Military guilty of unacceptable conduct in ignoring international humanitarian law after finding four emaciated children huddling next to the corpse of their mother in a bomb-shattered house in Gaza.  There were numerous other such discoveries in Gaza, and the Israeli Military ordered the Red Cross representatives out of the area—an order which the representatives refused to honor.

Another example: In the African nation of Uganda the evangelical missionaries there had campaigned against the distribution of condoms, and instead counseled the youth to abstain from sexual activity.  As a result the amount of unwanted pregnancies increased dramatically over a two-year period, and equally alarming so did the cases of AIDS.  But the missionaries found other victims to focus on and encouraged the Uganda legislators to consider laws condemning homosexuals, even encouraging the legislators to enact harsh reprisals for same-sex activities—even to the extent of executing them!  The counselors were certain that god approved such prejudice against the diverse lifestyles that “he” had created.

The continuing mindset for the self-proclaimed righteous ones has alway been reflected in glamorizing big families, as though god’s greatest desire was quantity over quality.  There was always the propaganda that there is spiritual advantage in numerous siblings growing up together.  The thought of practicing birth control horrified them, and they refused to take responsibility for careless breeding.  Blithely ignored was the fact that when there are a number of children produced there is often sibling rivalry for parental attention.  And when that attention is miniscule the children are  likely to fail to learn respect, compassion and moral strength from the adults.  That too often results in the formation of many gangs and the senseless indulgence in violence in the attempt to gain a sense of  importance. 

True “family values” begin and hinge upon taking responsibility only for the number of children that a couple may produce and can bestow on each of them regular loving attention.  Otherwise the parents do humanity no service, and certainly they do not use the brain that the Creator bestowed upon Man so he might evolve.

Grab Our Profits

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, history, life, medical, politics, random, secularism, thoughts with tags , , , , , , on December 21, 2009 by chouck017894

Health care for the nation’s citizens has been vigorously opposed by the Republicans for decades, but perhaps never have they stooped quite so low as through the 2009 drive by the Democrats to assure citizens security in the face of costly illness.  They had opposed Medicare, for example, but now claim, falsely, that extending health care to all citizens would deprive the elderly of Medicare benefits.  The truth is that far too many of those “public servants” standing in opposition to Health Care with public option have been happily raking in loads of cash for their congressional seats from big insurance corporations.  And from Big Finance, and Big Oil, and Big Pharmacy too.

The hard-line Republicans have a long record against adhering to ethical forms of regulations and controls that were once in place to keep a level playing field for all citizens and businesses.  Slowly and surely the heavily financed GOP (Grab Our Profits) crowd chipped away at the principled regard for the little man in favor of the conniving schemers and greedy corporations.  The 2008-2009 economic collapse and the $700,000,000,000 (seven hundred billion) taxpayer-funded bailout for the Wall Street crowd is directly traceable to their devotion to end all controls and regulations that once protected homeowners, taxpayers and the national budget.

In this regard the United States can truly be termed a “Christian nation,” for the whole principle of that faith is that someone else will pay the end-price for you.  Is it simply bald coincidence that as right-wing religionists squirmed into political influence through the late 1970s and early 1980s that the democratic principles upon which the U.S. was built began to noticeably slide downhill?  Noted in Time Frames and Taboo Data: Reagan’ first official act after assuming office as President of the United States in 1981 was to terminate oil price controls, asserting it would boost America’s oil exploration and production.  But in the years of Reagan’s reign the “conservatives” never managed to find the waste, fraud and abuse that they had always claimed had been the hallmarks of liberal government.  Subtle shifts did occur, however, and with Ronald Reagan’s election the war on poverty had been quietly and quickly shifted to a war on the poor.

By 1992 the extreme radical religionists announced publicly, “We want…as soon as possible to see a majority of the Republican Party in the hands of pro-family Christians by 1996.”  By 1995 Congress was manipulated by their cohorts into stripping victims of shady businesses of their right to recover their losses from those businesses!  And by 1996 the Christian Right had finally managed to gain full control of the GOP at the Republican Convention.  Through the next few years evangelical fanatics wormed their way into Congress, the Judiciary and the Executive Branches—all the while corruption and unethical behavior was flourishing, reaching its apex in the election process that brought born-again G. W. Bush the presidency in 2000.

Led by this self-proclaimed god-favored crowd the nation was blessed with an illegal war, and the likes of Big Oil, Big Pharmacy, and Big Finance manipulating more and more of government policy through the disgraceful practice called “lobbying” for favors for the corporations and the rich.  In other words, an undemocratic system that is nothing more than legalized bribery.  Since 1998, for example, the “financial service” industry has spent over $5 billion in campaign contributions and lobbying expenses.  How many lives could that money have saved if it had only been used in genuine spiritual compassion?

Faith Based Governments and Reality

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, culture, Government, history, life, politics, random, thoughts with tags , , , on December 20, 2009 by chouck017894

Freedom of speech and religious freedom should mean that the errors, hatreds, slanderous rhetoric and hypocrisy that is practiced in the name of some religion should be open to public investigation as is everything else.  But in the United States, there is practiced the religious pretense that God finds it “an abomination” to seriously question the self-serving “faiths” that promote themselves through tax-free money while seeking to deny others their personal rights of expression. 

When groups of persons use religion as a decoy to indulge in covert actions and seek to disrupt or even overturn the principles of liberty that made the United States great, those are not spiritual objectives: they are glaringly temporal and material ambitions.  They also border on treason.

Aggressive  religious factions have risen dramatically in the U.S. since the 1950s, and the commercialism of religion has been in direct ratio to the rise of television through the same period as a means of  public communication.  Televangelists compete with one another to exercise power over as many impressible and insecure persons as possible, and make themselves wealthy in the process.  It was noted in a previous post that crime also increased across the nation in equal proportion to the spread of commercial religionism.

That was bad enough, but when the religiously inspired moved to control the seats of government and in that way have attempted to install their theocratic ideology upon the nation, they betrayed not only the nation that allows them such freedom of religion and speech, but insulted the higher purpose that they pretend to serve.

A prime example of “faith-based” governing was demonstrated in the so-called Military Commission Act that was imposed upon American citizens late in 2006 by the self-professed born-againer George Bush, his fundamentalist administration, and the Republican congressional choir that rubber stamped all his unconstitutional abuses of power.  Under this undemocratic and perverse “law” the right-wing granted themselves these horrendous indulgences:

  • Denial of the writ of habeas corpus—the right to challenge the legality or  conditions of their detention in an independent court—to people being held in detention.
  • Fashioned an excessively broad category of “unlawful enemy combatant,” a status that is not recognized in either U.S. law or international law, but which did allow the god-dazzled president to pick and choose who could be detained under that label.
  • Permitted whoever they chose to call “unlawful enemy combatants” to be tried by military commission, which would provide no guarantee whatever of fair trial rights—this again was clearly in contempt of mandated U.S. and international law.
  • Granted military commissions the right to use evidence that was obtained through cruel and degrading treatment (torture) of those being held in detention.
  • Allowed for imprisoned persons to be held indefinitely without charges, and established arbitrary and discriminatory means for prosecuting them.

These have been the means used by all theocratic forms of “governing” throughout history—always with appalling consequence.

American Myths Reviewed

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, history, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2009 by chouck017894

When the Puritans hit the shores of the Americas in 1620 they carried with them all the viruses of false guilt and manufactured shame that still contaminate reason to this day.  It is noted in Time Frames and Taboo Data—p 327:

 By myth and tradition the year 1620 is regarded in the United States as when the “Founding Fathers” or the “Pilgrims” first set foot in the Americas.  Although the Mayflower did indeed reach the bleak shores of what is today Massachusetts, the Pilgrims were at that location because of bad weather and poor navigation.  Their intended destination had been Jamestown and “The Old Dominion” of Virginia, 500 miles to the south, which had been established in 1607.  And tradition has it that the Puritans brought by the Mayflower were fleeing religious persecution in England, but the bulk of them had lived for eleven years in Holland where they were not persecuted.  The real reason for the Puritans to strike out for the New World was to bring aid and support to the Puritan element in Virginia, for the Puritan deputy governor, Samuel Argall, had been deposed by the Episcopalians in 1619—a great setback to the Whig/Puritan cause.

Apparently it never occurred to the Puritans that they might have been led astray because their intolerant faith was not much appreciated by god.  Their hardened hearts chose instead to establish a new colony of Massachusetts on the tenets of harsh intolerance of any beliefs other than their own.  Unfortunately, the bigotry and cruelty of the Puritan “fathers” would for centuries taint even the more tolerant faith systems of the U.S.

A few years later, 1634, Cecilius Calvert, the second Baron Baltimore, after his father’s death, wished to found a colony where coreligionists might worship freely without incurring the persecution they were subjected to in England.  Of the little more than 200 colonists to arrive, however, probably over half were Protestants.  The settlement they founded was called St. Mary’s.  The first statutes of the Providence (Maryland) were passed in 1638 and religious tolerance was the central feature of the project.  By this time the Puritans and their coreligionists had regained their hold over the Episcopalians of Virginia (mentioned in 1620), and with assistance of the Massachusetts Puritans actually invaded Maryland!  Typical of theocratic mentality, the Puritans quickly dismantled the Maryland Constitution in which the “Act of Toleration” was clearly proclaimed and replaced it with the disgraceful “Act Concerning Religion,” which mandated that the Puritan doctrine and tenets were to be followed by all.

Three years later, December 1641, another example of Christian/Puritan piety was played out in the disgraceful carnage known as the Cos Cob Massacre.  The New England settlers had been kindly received by the Indians under Cos Cog at Myanus and Stamford.  The Indians had taught the settlers how to make a living from the sea and from the forest.  But when the number of settlers had grown and they attained sufficient firearms, they displayed their Christian neighborly love by creeping out on Christmas Eve to the Indian village of Petuquapen.   In the spirit of Christ they built a huge fire at each of the village gates and then shot down every man, woman and child that sought to escape.  Every inhabitant of the village perished—some 400 “savage” souls.

Then in 1643 a company of Puritans were excluded from Virginia for religious nonconformity.  The shunned Puritans then founded a settlement called Providence on the site of present day Annapolis.  Interestingly, at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., cadets had to legally petition the school there in 2008 to abolish mandatory daily prayer at weekday lunch.  The practice was/is unconstitutional—but it does remain true to Puritan tradition.

Abuse of Democracy

Posted in Atheist, culture, Government, history, medical, politics, random, thoughts with tags , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by chouck017894

Let’s face it, there is a corrupt and self-absorbed minority in the United States Congress that is traitorously putting the screws to true democratic process.  It is obvious that these elected politicians have no genuine respect for the will of the people that they are supposed to be serving.  Glaring examples of these today are the poor-loser element of the Republican Party that have stood in opposition to Public Option in health coverage for which the majority of citizens clamored. 

Instead, that small segment of self-interest and special-interest senators indulged themselves by exploiting questionable rules of the House of Representatives to require that a supermajority be in place in order to even discuss necessary reforms in citizen health coverage.  Otherwise the self-interest senators threatened to filibuster.  In other words, a tiny minority, most from the least populous states, seeks to dictate terms of national health care.   

The antidemocratic indulgence of the filibuster, a means of gaming the system that was invented back in the 1800s to defend slavery and segregation, is a shameful “tradition” that has repeatedly threatened the credibility of Congress to implement the will of the majority.  The filibuster certainly is not authorized in the Constitution, for the purpose of that practice is to prevent the majority of senators from putting the peoples’ expressed requirements into effect.

As long as antidemocratic “rules” go unreformed, such self-interest “representatives” can thumb their noses at voters while they continue to compromise democracy and still get paid by the likes of insurance corporations, big oil, pharmaceutical companies, etc.  A couple of examples are in the persons of Democrat Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas who has collected a pile of insurance cash, and Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska who, from 2003 to 2008 squirreled away at least $600,000 from insurance “donations.”  The pursuit of corporate money has lured such as these into bed with the gang of obstructionist Republicans.  Plainly such politicians are not holding out for a better deal for the citizens.

For democratic justice to prevail, the Senate must honor the majority rule.  Compromise with politicians receiving under-the-table payments from corporate firms is not in the interest of the majority of the people.  While a good percentage of the former corrupt politicians are now sulking in their dens (like the infamous C Street “family” in Washington), the present elected representatives should commit themselves to ridding the Hill of the “rules” that suppress debate and inhibits achievement of majority will. 

The United States advertises itself as the land of the free, of liberty, justice, equality and opportunity for all.  It is also a nation with self-interest politicians that are inclined to tell other nations to take up a democratic form of government.  Shouldn’t we make sure that our own house is cleaned up before we strut around claiming to be the best of all social orders?

Star Over Bethlehem

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, history, life, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by chouck017894

In the book of Matthew in the New Testament, written c. 70-75 CE, the “star in the rising” is routinely misinterpreted as some bright phenomenon standing in a stationary position above the town of Bethlehem to herald the birth of the “king of the Jews.”  Since Herod died c. 04 CE, any startling celestial happening had to have occurred before that, for Herod supposedly put out a contract on the infant’s death (told only in John).  There actually were a few astronomical configurations of interest in the indecisive time of Jesus’ birth from 12 BCE to 04 CE.

The  periodic appearance of the comet that is known today as Halley’s Comet made one of its visible passages in the year 12 BCE.  Interestingly, the comet would have appeared over the Middle East showing itself at 31 degrees North, which is very close to the latitude of Bethlehem.  Over the centuries various devout Christians, desperate to explain the “star” that allegedly guided the Magi to Bethlehem have seized upon this astronomical fact as the event alluded to in the birth story.  But it is certain that no astronomer, referred to as “Magi,” would ever have mistaken a comet for a star.  And there were two other comets in this general timeframe: one in 05 BCE and another in 04 BCE.  Nonetheless, comets are not repeated stationary happenings, so they simply could not serve the purpose of the myth.

There was, however, a less common but definitely not a supernatural occurrence in the heavens in 07 BCE: it was a triple conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation Pisces.  This event has intriguing elements that have made it attractive to writers of the Jesus birth account.  The planet Jupiter was considered the royal planet and the sign of kings, hence it could be used to introduce the “king of the Jews.”  In addition, the Romans regarded the planet Saturn as representative of the Jews, as did the Jews themselves.  Furthermore, the world cultures were very much aware that planet Earth had recently entered the Age of Pisces (60 BCE), and Pisces was considered to rule over the regions of Syria and Palestine.  These associations may well have played a role in concocting the birth story plotline, but it is unlikely that Magi—meaning astronomers—would have concluded that a savior-king was to be born in Bethlehem.  If such was the general interpretation then there would have been more than just three astronomer-travelers going to Bethlehem, for the natural phenomenon was predicted as early as 17 BCE in almanac books of the time.  In other words, it was not a “miracle” event.

Whoever the real authors of the New Testament accounts may have been, it is certain that the literati in Rome were quite familiar with several other myths in which stars were claimed to have announced the birth of an alleged divine being.  Probably the most well-known in Rome in the time when the NT was being written was of Mithras (or Mithra), a Persian divinity of light, whose holy day was Sunday and whose holiest day was December 25th—the date when the Sun begins its northerly movement after the Winter Solstice.  Magi and shepherds were said to have seen the star announcing the birth of Mithras and were guided to the birthplace to adore him.

Holy Horrors

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, history, humanity, life, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2009 by chouck017894

The role of religion in incidents of escalating violence throughout the world is broadly ignored and suppressed in daily “news” reporting, and this avoidance is peculiarly noticeable in the United States.  Self-imposed censorship of religious pretentiousness in the name of freedom is something of an oxymoron.

 The relationship between a person’s taught belief system and a cultured tendency to be fanned into physical violence rests in a complicated asymmetrical balance of emotions that are due in part to the contradictory elements that make up religious “traditions” and practice.  Western organized religions are so heavily politicized and pretentious that any creditable spiritual content has settled like sludge to the bottom of the barrel.

The Torah, the Christian Bible, and the Koran are products of an ongoing incestuous relationship that has been carried on for millennia.  Each “holy” record claims common ancestors, and the love-hate infatuation of their close relatedness has bred only deformed mental attitude that has disturbed the whole world.  Each “faith” extols the virtues of compassion, altruism, humility, mercy, peace and justice, while also relating alleged god-approved acts of stoning, killing, warring, enslavement, destruction and deceit.  Spiritual integrity cannot evolve in such an agitated environment for it teaches seekers to direct noble sentiment or respect only to specific persons or some method of honoring the Source of all things. 

That which is revered as “faith” is, more often than not, little more than a focus on some self-proclaimed authority and a practice of bibliolatry—text worship—that is always open to questionable interpretation.  Extreme devotion to the written word presented by men who awed tribal members with their improvable claims of divine favoritism is like trying to drive forward down the highway of life while staring into the rearview mirror.  It is indispensable to know what is behind you, but it is more essential to keep your eyes on the road itself.  Too often the aim of those “authority” figures seeking to direct traffic is to stir up a sense of sanctified rage in others which feeds into their sense of personal power more than it accomplishes anything with decisive merit.

If one studies the genuine, honest history of major western religious movements—not the faith’s approved whitewashed version—it is a shock to find that  most pages are blood soaked.  To hold up such storied accounts as examples to follow to attain one’s higher potential assures nothing but continued tragedy.  If we remove the blinders which “faith” has pressured upon us, we can see that even today the savagery of sacrificing diverse life expressions is seen as appealing to the Source of that diversity!

 We need look nor further than the sorry loss of  spiritual integrity now being advocated throughout some African nations.  As Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity has spread across Nigeria and Congo, the teaching of the missionaries has been that the Bible is the perfect word of god.  That perverted teaching has insured the practice of bibliolatry, the literal interpretation of every word.  The result has been the heartless indulgence in beating, burning, and disfiguring children that have been condemned by Christian pastors and priests as “witches!”  It is all done in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, so how can it be evil?

And let us not ignored any longer the horror that is now being advocated in the African nation of Uganda under the instigation of Evangelicals known as “The Family” from the United States.  Uganda’s president succumbed to Evangelical pressure and converted to their highly politicized form of “faith.”  Now fully filled with holy insight Uganda’s president has accepted the challenge of “wiping out” homosexuality in his earthly realm.  Rather than seeking to understand biological causes he has chosen instead to dedicate his leadership to eliminating the natural diversity in life’s pool.  Thus he promotes a bill that allows for the death penalty for any gay infected with AIDS, and even advocates jail time  for parents that do not report their homosexual teens to the police. 

Today throughout Africa the Evangelicals still peddle their Bibles and seek to convert the largely docile people into acceptance of sacrificing innocent persons for godly favor.

Peculiar Holy Work

Posted in Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, Government, history, humanity, life, politics, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on December 4, 2009 by chouck017894

Back in October of 1928 a Spanish priest named Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer founded a group known formally as The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei.  Monsignor Escriva alleged that while on retreat in Madrid the bells of a nearby church began to peal and suddenly God made him see Opus Dei in a vision.

Since that time Escriva’s “path of sanctity” has garnered considerable controversy with its alleged elitism and misogyny, and particularly in its apparent right-leaning politics which the Francois Government of Spain approved while in power.  Escriva’s group had grown rapidly, spreading from Spain into other European countries—especially fascist-style governments.  And through the last decade of the twentieth century and first decade of the twenty-first its influence has infiltrated Latin America and the United States.

Recent studies have shown that there are  more than 3000 Opus Dei members in the United States, with prime concentrations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Texas and California.  Their centers are commonly situated near large college campuses, which makes it convenient for attracting new members.  But Opus Dei insists that they do not actively recruit or indulge in proselytism; they simply present themselves as a “distinct brand of spirituality.”  Yeah.

In a democratic culture such as in the United States, it is recognized that groups that operate under a shield of secrecy are interested only in their own advantages and welfare, not society in general.  So  it is more than a bit distrubing when Opus Dei members continually sidestep any efforts from the curious to get straightforward answers regarding their practices and corporate activities.  This, of course, is denied, but in 1995, for example, when a journalist sought a copy of Opus Dei’s constitution and statutes he was give a copy written in technical church Latin.  That’s the approved way of  “doing God’s work” apparently. 

The claim is that Opus Dei is a lay organization, but the strong emphasis on “commitments,” obedience and hierarchy seem more like the poorly disguised replication of clerical regimentation.  Indeed, male “numeraries” are encouraged to consider ordination to priesthood.  Women numeraries, on the other hand, are expected to devote themselves to domestic duties such as cleaning the men’s centers and cooking for them.  It’s all according to Paul, the self-appointed apostle to Jesus, who said that  it pleased God for women to be subservient to men.  Thus female members are embraced as “family” to make their work more appealing.

As in typical cults, those who take up commitment to Opus Dei—the numeraries—are expected to turn over their income  from which is doled out a stipend  for personal items.  For this favor they are expected to follow a daily routine that includes Mass, personal prayer, devotional readings, and in some cases physical mortification.  The cult-like behavior is seen also in isolation of members from former friends, and even a member’s incoming and outgoing personal mail is monitored.  Personality changes are the norm; generally the change is in the person becoming more  secretive and withdrawing from their immediate family.  The dedicated who endure this rationalize it away by saying, “You can’t become a saint alone.”

In 1982, God’s top representative in the Vatican granted Opus Dei the canonical status of  “personal prelature,” which allowed it juridical operation much like Catholic religious orders without regard for geographic limits.  That pope-recognized status, however, makes it somewhat questionable how the organization can legitimately claim to be a lay organization.

Add to this that Escriva who died in 1975 got rushed into “sainthood” in 1992—a mere seventeen years later!  There was open questioning by some at this unprecedented move and considerable distrust arose when numerous  persons were prevented from testifying at church tribunals that were deliberating on Escriva’s life.  Kept smothered were little character frailties such as having a nasty temper and what some had said were his “pro-Nazi tendencies.”

As mentioned earlier, there are more than 3000 Opus Dei centers in the United States and they sponsor such  noble sounding activities as outreach programs for the poor, retreat houses, programs for married Catholics, and educational programs for children.  On the other hand, the organization keeps such a secretive approach that even though Opus Dei is active in nearly every large archdiocese in the nation, the Catholic leadership routinely declares that they have no knowledge or contact with them!

Strange spirituality.  Makes one wonder, should we be concerned about the imbalance in the U.S. Supreme Court Justices where today six of the nine are Catholic?