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Marion On May - 17 - 2010

I am an atheist.

When I was seven years old, my father told me that there was no God and that he was Santa Claus. I was upset about the Santa Claus part, but I put the “no God” revelation on hold until I could think about it properly and continued in my Catholic upbringing until I’d reached a point, around about fourteen or so, where I realised that my father was probably right.

However, my parents also raised me to be respectful of other people’s faiths and beliefs. I went to school with Jewish kids and Protestants. I went to school with kids, who were Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses and Holy Rollers, who played with snakes. Such was a rural upbringing in the South in the early Sixties. Whenever I sought to criticize another’s religious persuasion, my mother was quick to admonish:

“Those are their beliefs; don’t criticize them. That’s wrong.”

I put that admonishment down to good breeding on her part, and, although I can honestly say I heard her dish the dirt on many a neighbour in a gossip-fest with one of her sisters or a neighbour, I can honestly say I never heard her condemn another person’s faith, religion of lack of either.

So, whilst I don’t believe in God, I don’t condemn or ridicule anyone who does, unless they seek to impose that belief on me and condemn my non-belief as wrong. Later on, after having left education, I realised that this philosophy is basically the tenet upon which our Constitution is founded – we have the freedom in our country to believe and worship or not to believe and not to worship and not be persecuted by anyone for our religious or non-religious choice.

This is why our government was founded, specifically, without any sort of established religion as part of its identity. Therefore, we are a secular nation. That a certain tranche of society within the country chooses to believe otherwise, chooses to believe that we are, in effect, a Christian nation, is a fallacy. It’s when they appropriate a particular faith – the Christian faith, or rather, the Protestant end of the Christian faith – attach it to the flag and wave it about, that it becomes distatesful, offensive and wrong.

It’s when the likes of Sarah Palin mounts the podium to proclaim the Christian Right as being in possession of the sole identity that is “Real America” which mirrors a particular brand of perverted Christianity, which is petty, mean, vulgar and exclusive. The Christianity I studied preached tolerance, inclusiveness, love and charity to all, without exception. A particular meme of the Catholicism of my childhood, as a matter of fact, appears, as well, in a teaching of Islam: love the sinner, hate the sin.

Throughout life, I’ve had friends who believed and friends who didn’t. Two of my closest friends from college are a practicing Catholic and a born-again Christian. They accepted my cynicism and secularism with openness and aplomb. We get along fine. They even pray for me in times of strife, and I thank them for that. It certainly can’t hurt. When they’re under duress, I let them know that they’re in my thoughts.

Hand-in-hand with that, my parents – lifelong Democrats and liberals – taught me, as well, that our kind, politically and socially, were traditionally tolerant and open-minded. We recognised change in society and changed with it.

So forgive me if I’ve spent the better part of my adult life believing that anyone to the left of the political scale was just that: tolerant and open-minded, because of late, I’ve seen a lot of the opposite on the Left side of the fence, and it’s not been pretty to see.

Friday night, I saw the worst sort of narrow-minded, ugly, bear-baiting intolerance come to the fore during the panel discussion on Real Time with Bill Maher.

And it concerned religion.

I must admit that I’ve long held Bill Maher’s atheism as suspect. For the longest time, until last September, Bill refused to be categorised as an atheist. An atheist, he’s on record as saying, is as definite in his belief that there is no God, as a fundamentalist Christian is in asserting that there is one. The truth is, he stated, we simply don’t know. When pressed, he actually admitted that he believed in a higher entity, just not the traditional God the Father image which is foisted on society as a whole.

He’s made this assertion, perfectly reasonable, in several interviews and even in his documentary Religulous, which was released in 2008. With this assertion, the closest definition of Bill’s belief was agnosticism. Then last September when he received the Richard Dawkins Award as “Atheist of the Year”, all hell broke loose in the atheist community because Bill wasn’t an avowed atheist, but also because Bill, who presented himself as a rationalist who believed in science, actually only believed in science, as long as it didn’t pertain to medical science – or Western medicine, as Bill described it.

When various high-profiled atheists in the scientific community started questioning Richard Dawkins’s judgement in bestowing the award, Bill “admitted” his atheism.

Bill, who likes to joke about women doing anything for shiny objects, professed he was an atheist … in order to receive a shiny object.

Two Fox News reporters have been known to “convert” to Islam in order to save their lives.

On Friday’s panel, Bill had the author S E Cupp as a first-time guest. I admit I didn’t know very much about the woman. She’s an author, a conservative and an atheist, who advocates for people of faith. She’s also very young.

Several people, avowed atheists in the blogosphere, have admitted difficulty in believing that she is, in fact, an atheist, because she has said that she accepts and understands why people believe in Christianity or whatever faith they follow, and because she has stated that, one day, it’s plausible that she, herself, might be open to the idea that there is a God.

I think, perhaps, those esteemed, blogging voices (many of whom are probably very young and/or very obtuse), take more exception with the fact that Miss Cupp is a conservative, rather than her unusually open-minded view of religion and religious followers. Let’s fact it: “conservative” and “atheist” juxtaposed is the most curious of oxymorons.

On Friday night, Bill Maher, with a copy of Cupp’s book in hand, asked her if she didn’t consider people who believed in God as “delusional”. This is what Bill thinks. He never forgets to tell us this at every opportunity – that people who believe in God suffer from a neurological disorder – to the deafening applause of his studio audience.

And so, he asked Cupp, fellow atheist, this selfsame question.

He didn’t get the answer he expected.

Cupp replied that she didn’t think believers were deluded. Bill asked her again, clearly not believing the answer he heard the first time, and she reaffirmed her reply, even enhancing it by saying that she knew many intelligent, articulate, well-informed people who believed in God and were in no way deluded.

But Bill pressed on, insisting, unwilling to believe that another person, a non-believer, could be so openly accepting of people of faith.

“Look,” Cupp tried to explain, “I totally buy into faith and religion. It works for some people.” And she proceeded to explain how various studies had shown that people with religious faith were happier in themselves and how these sorts of people seemed to respond well and benefit from various medical treatments, due to their abiding faith; but still Bill pressed on, determined to get her to admit that religious people were delusional, determined to wear her down, until suddenly, Cupp snapped:

“I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God, but I’m not the one who’s angry with Him.”

For one split second, there was a deafening silence before more than a smattering of applause erupted. Bill, for his part, had the panic-stricken look of a deer caught in the headlights of a car.

A raw nerve had been touched and brutally, if unintentionally, exposed. S E Cupp, who – prior to that evening – had never met Bill Maher before, had exposed his Achilles’ heel for all to see, read and comprehend.

For this man is not an atheist; he is someone who believes in and is angry with God and, by extension, religion.

There followed, for the next fifteen minutes, one of the ugliest examples of bigotry, intolerance and close-mindedness I’ve ever seen on any television screen. That it emanated from one who sees himself as a spokesperson for the Progressive Left was positively sickening.

One of the other panelists was Cory Booker, the newly re-elected mayor of Newark, New Jersey – a Democrat and a Christian. Booker never referred to his beliefs as a Christian, but entered the discussion in order to give some concrete examples of how Christians, through their religious organisations, can make a difference in communities and how various churches do, in some instances, work well in areas of deprivation and poverty.

It was at that particular instance that we saw Bill suddenly morph into Bill O’Reilly. He repeatedly cut Booker and Cupp off mid-sentence, refusing to let them get any point across and directly criticizing and belittling Booker for his faith.

Booker was summarily “reminded” by Bill that every war that had ever been fought was fought because of religion, that religion causes people’s deaths, that every ill in the world could be traced directly back to a person’s religious faith. Each time Booker sought to retort – logically – Bill swathed his every remark. When Booker attempted to get a word in edgeways by remarking that Bill didn’t know everything, Bill replied, prissily, “You’re the ones who know everything, like what happens after death!”

Booker objected strenuously, saying that he certainly didn’t know, but then retorted that he didn’t care to hear anymore of what Bill had to say, that Bill was beginning to sound more and more like the proselytising fire-and-brimstone Baptist preachers he regularly excoriated. “You’re intolerant,” he stated with finality.

Thus, occurred the second split-second pin-drop moment, followed by the audience’s applause. The camera caught Bill, on live television, looking like a small child who’d been roundly told off by his parents for naughtiness. He looked near tears.

“I’m not intolerant,” he protested, weakly, before accusing Booker of saying he was prejudiced and explaining in the most pedantic manner that he wasn’t pre-judgmental at all, merely judgmental, without ever realising in his hubris, that both were inherently wrong.

The whole exchange dominated the entire twenty minutes allocated for the panel portion of the show and afforded the reptilian Darrell Issa summary accordance, subsequently, to interrupt Booker’s explanation of the Miranda rule, just in time for Bill to call a halt to the proceedings for New Rules.

Although I was appalled by the episode, I wasn’t surprised in the least. Bill’s behaviour is something that’s becoming as common amongst people who purport to be a part of the Progressive Left as it is their Rightwing, teabagging counterparts. These people aren’t on the street, waving pictures of Obama as Hitler or a witch doctor, or spitting at Congressmen; but they’re hunched over laptops, tapping out four-lettered insults to anyone who doesn’t pass the purity test of agreeing lockstep with what they perceive to be accepted liberal dogma. They abhor racism, but they laugh at Bill referring to the President as “President Sanford and Son”. They nod in agreement when he derides the state of Arizona’s inordinate treatment of the Latino population, but see nothing wrong with Bill’s alpha male adomnition to the Muslim community that they’d better honour our First Amendment – in other words, our way or the highway.

These are people who consider Dylan Ratigan the height of journalism, not only when he shouts down a conservative “guest” to the point that he doesn’t allow the man the opportunity to answer at all, before flinging an ad hominem epithet his way and ending the interview in feigned disgust, but also when he screams insults at Debbie Wasserman Schulz, a Congresswoman and a breast cancer survivor, for her support of what he perceived to be a flawed healthcare bill.

These are people who attack anyone, even of their own political persuasion, if they admit to a nominal belief in God. Pardon me, but I thought our Constitution and our country abhorred any persecution of any faith. And I also thought my atheism was simply my lack of belief, not a dogma to be imposed on others as right. What’s right for me is not right for anyone else. Bill pointed out, quite rightly, to S E Cupp that communism was a state religion of sorts. Atheism is not a religion by any means, and people who proselytise it as the right way, the only way are as bad as those people who condemn anyone who doesn’t accept Christ as the only way to eternal hell.

He sounds like a male version of Sarah Palin, just as snarky, exclusive and mean. When I ran across a remark made by one of his biggest fans recently, a woman who is a former politician and living in the Pacific Northwest, commenting derisively that she supposed Bill had encountered “some dots of intelligent life in flyover country” after his return from stand-up in Indiana and Wisconsin, I knew then that – although he may not intend it – he’s becoming a demagogue to people who are so bereft of the capability to think and opinionate for themselves, that they parrot his own attitudes and beliefs, no matter that they are as inconsistent as the mood in which he awakens every morning.

This year, he derided S E Cupp her ability to speak out, as an atheist, for people of faith. Last year, he commended Brad Pitt, another self-avowed atheist, for his commitment to doing so. People who believe in God or practice a religion are delusional and suffer from a neurological disorder, yet Bill pals around with practicing Catholics Chris Matthews, Michael Moore, Paul Begala and P J O’Rourke. Please don’t tell me he’s trying to convert them.

Maybe they remember Bill in their prayers. Maybe he secretly wants to be like them. Maybe it’s time certain people who purport to be part of the Progressive Left, check their exact position on the political spectrum – because if you move far enough to the Left, you come out on the Right … and neocons are lapsed liberals.

Categories: News & Politics

109 Responses so far.

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  1. dildenusa says:

    Here’s a real good one from Huff post.
    I couldn’t resist making a comment there.

  2. TheRarestPatriot says:

    It’s funny how we recuperating Catholics always seem to bunch up. I, too, did the Catholic school thing yet was put in public school in the 7th grade because I asked too many questions about the contradictory nature of the KJ bible. And I still have a pencil lead embedded in my left wrist after a nun became so incensed that I had the audacity to ask where WE came from if Adam and Eve only bore Cain and Abel, she stabbed me with her pencil. ahhh…the compassion.
    I have met wonderful people of all faiths and I have met assholes of all faiths. (Once while growing up on the west coast of Florida and having come across a pod of dolphins while sailing, I wanted to have a swim with them. I was told I’d better not because 2 of the dolphins were known trouble makers. When I told them I was shocked that dolphins were mean, the lady said something I;ll never forget…she said..”…dolphins are alot like people, some are just assholes”…) So, I’ve carried that with me everyday of my life.
    I have admitted to being an atheist on many occasions, yet upon recent reflection I have to say that I’m not an atheist simply because I’m not sure I can be 100% assured of anything really. I only have my life experience ‘opinions.’
    I’ll finish by simply saying this:

    If ALL X’ians practiced Red Letter religion, we’d all be better off.

  3. whatsthatsound says:

    This is primarily for KQ, as he wrote that his ruminations on the subject of a “creator” pretty much ends with the same argument Dawkins uses in The God Delusion. Okay, then, where did the creator come from? KQ being a scientist, I can easily understand how this question would seem to make the whole discussion pointless and moot. But I have an analogy that I think may be helpful. I actually wrote it out once on RDNet when the forum was still operative, but it received little response. So, I’ll repost it here:

    Everyone knows the painting “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LeGrand-Jatte” by Seurat, I’m assuming. Now, let’s suppose that the people in that painting are actually alive, and are able to communicate with one another solely through telepathy. One of them is very observant, and a very deep thinker. He looks around him, and notices that he, his co-inhabitants, as well as everything around him is made up of little things he calls “dabs”. He’s very excited about this, and he tells everyone else his discovery. They are all very impressed.

    He thinks more deeply about this, and he begins to ponder even deeper things. What if these dabs were put there deliberately? They seem to be, after all. He then starts to conceptualize how such a thing could come about. The dabs would have to be applied by something called a “brush”. There is no evidence of such a thing WITHIN THE PAINTING, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility that such a thing could exist somewhere in the universe. Once again he tells his friends. “You’re stretching things”, they tell him, and seem mildly amused by his strange ideas.

    Then, his musings take him much further. For someone to be able to hold a brush and apply the dabs, they would have to be able to do something that not he nor anyone else among his companions can do, or have ever even thought about doing. He calls this miraculous phenomenon “movement”. Now he has gone too far! His companions tell him, “now you’re just making stuff up! Where’s your proof? You, my friend, are DELUDED!”

    You see my point, right? The man in the painting is right, about everything. And yet, from within the painting, no evidence of his wilder theories can be found. He’s not coming up with “fairy tales” and “bearded men in the sky”. He is looking around and intuiting things, correctly, that can’t be proven from within the constraints of his universe. His creator is beyond him, in other words. So I think that when Dawkins acolytes call people who have faith “nutters”, “deluded ones”, etc. as they tend to on atheist forums, it is they themselves who end up looking a bit foolish, and certainly constrained in their thinking by their so-called “reason”.

    • KQ says:

      Great metaphor describing the way you came to your beliefs WTS. That’s why these debates are always intriguing because I learn so much from them, especially things my brain does not intuitively conjure up. That’s exactly why I respect other people’s beliefs and don’t call them nutters. I don’t presume people are wrong because I have no delusion that I have any special insight but you know that about me by now. I’m just expressing my beliefs and how I got to those beliefs. I think your example is excellent evidence of how different people with different backgrounds and thought processes come to different conclusions. Beliefs by their very nature are the most subjective thoughts we have. Of course I understand why I come to my conclusions, even though I’m not so sure of that sometimes. My beliefs simply match by background as a scientist but I respect yours as well my friend.

      Cheers for reminding me about that wonderful piece of art. I was familiar with the image but forgot the name. I’m the classic absent minded professor in that way. But give me a nomenclature hierarchy like the IUPAC system for naming chemicals and I get it right almost 100% of the time, well at least I did when I practiced my art more. I use to be pretty good with biochemical and zoological nomenclature as well even though it require more rote memorization.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        Hi KQ. Great comments. I hope I didn’t make it sound like it was ME who was the “very observant, deep thinker”! I was thinking more about people like Socrates, Plato, Jesus, the great mystics of India and China and Japan, etc. The writers of The Psalms, etc. It was their story I was putting into allegory. And I can easily add great scientific minds to that analogy as well, except that their insights are more testable.

        I always appreciate what you have to offer, friend, and respect your beliefs and ideas, both those that intersect with mine and those which go in another direction from my own.

    • kesmarn says:

      WTS, even though your post was addressed to KQ, forgive me for commenting that I do appreciate your artist’s take on the “God Quest.”

      I have a hunch that art and science, intuition and investigation, will eventually come together on this…long after we are all in a place at which we have more first-hand info.

      It has always intrigued me — the way the biblical account of the creation of the world and its inhabitants in many ways does mirror the sequence of events involved in the process of the formation of the earth and of evolution. Its a sort of folklore intuition of how things probably did play out.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        Hi Kesmarn,
        I’m in the middle of a move, and so wasn’t able to reply to this as punctually as I have liked. I am very much in agreement with you that ancient people, as well as modern people, are able to intuit much about the origin of our universe. It IS subjective and non-scientific, but it is nevertheless easy to imagine why it would be so: because, we, ourselves, ARE parts of the universe, and our consciousness and ability to think originated within it. Just as an embryo has within it all the coding it needs to become a fully formed adult human, it is very possible that as elements OF this universe, we can tap into information ABOUT it. There is nothing “woo woo” about that, unless one is dogmatically opposed to any interpretation of reality that posits any other kind of awareness other than our own.
        Most dogmatic, Dawkinist atheists think religious thought came about quite simply. Ancient man observed that the most powerful thing he could observe was the sun, so the sun became a “god”. The thing he feared the most was a volcano, so, ditto, call it a god as well. The most necessary thing to him was the river, so, river = god too. But does that really explain all the richness and complexity of the myths they passed on? Of course not. Does it explain the high states of insight and ecstasy great spiritual practitioners reached? Decidedly not! In fact, can we imagine that ANYONE, ever, went into an altered, revelatory state just by thinking about a volcano? No, no no! The “religion is just stories” and it’s “the best people could do until science came along” memes the Dawkins types use is nonsense. It shows THEIR limitations, not the limitations of the people they belittle, as Maher does.

        • kesmarn says:

          Just arrived home from work in the wee hours of the morning, WTS, to find your thought-provoking note.

          I like your idea that, since we are born of “star stuff” as Sagan used to say, we have an innate, intuitive ability to understand where we come from.

          When I was young I used to dismiss the notion of a collective memory for humans. Now I’m not so sure!

          All I know is that humans have a longing for certitude in their lives, but they seem to have an equally powerful longing for mystery. And our lives are the richer for it. I don’t think I ever want complete certitude.

          That would take all the fun out of life. (Kinda the ways the fundies approach things.)

          A last note before I crash into the (collective) memory foam pillow: hope the move goes well for you and that the source of mystery in your own life is not just the matter of finding which box the blender is in!

        • Khirad says:

          Heh, I missed the reply first time round…

          Or, they accept that the propensity for religion must have served an evolutionary purpose but that it’s now like an appendix. If it is innate though, that suggests more possibilities, as you have just enumerated.

          I feel sorry for Dawkins. His problem is also in taking everything as literally as Christian fundies. He completely misses the point in belittling myth. I see myth as psychology, as art, as culture, as oft-transcending -- as; sublime, eternal beauty -- of a humanely divine nature.


          “Life is like arriving late for a movie having to figure out what was going on.”

          “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”

          -- Joseph Campbell

          • whatsthatsound says:

            Hey, Khirad. I see myths the way you do, I think. Necessary to the whole human, not just the left hemisphere of the brain type functions that give rise to logic and the scientific method. Dreams are part of this as well, as Campbell’s quote points out. I actually believe that the loss of the profession of Dream Interpreter, such as often appear as advisors to kings in old stories, is one of the great tragedies of our human situation in its current sorry state. We need more Dream Interpreters, and less lawyers, lobbyists, advertising execs and other professional manipulators. Oh, and politicians!

      • Khirad says:

        Especially in considering that the Hebrew word yom and its Arabic equivalent yum in the Qur’an, may also mean era, or epoch.

        I myself was tripped out when the Mahabharata (I think, it could have been the Ramayana) said that India was once in the ocean and joined up with the Himalaya. The god Hanuman (that ‘monkey’ one the fundies love to make fun of) is also from a more ancient race related to humans in the Ramayana…

        Could it be lore was transmitted? (Well, not likely with plate tectonics.) Or is it simple reverse engineering in interpretation? The avatara of Vishnu also mirror the stages of evolution, if looked at in that light.

      • KQ says:

        As a metaphor like you said the old testament version of creation is more or less sequentially consistent, especially considering the time it was written. I don’t know why people have to take it so literally, never have.

        An ancient Carthaginian scholar predicted the basic structure and immense power that is held within the atom millennia before Einstein’s famous equation.

        There have been brilliant people for tens of thousands of years. They just did not have the scientific foundation we often fail to appreciate in the modern era.

  4. javaz says:

    Wow, I’ve just read all the comments on this thread and understand the passion expressed, and also understand why talking politics, religion and money is never a good idea, unless you are a member of PPOV!

    Isn’t it wonderful that all of us were able to express our feelings without the worry of ‘going to pending’ or having our accounts banned?

    Now, can we all talk about sex as that seems to be a topic we can all agree upon?

    Okay, maybe not!


    When we lived in France, the company paid for us to take French lessons, and the French that taught them lessons were excellent because they didn’t stick to teaching us the language, but tried very hard to teach us their culture, and that was a good thing.

    We also tried to teach them what it meant to be an American and our culture, and it was all speaking French for the most part.

    Anyway, one of the best lessons we had from a Belgian and that’s a story because he wasn’t considered a real Frenchman by the French, yet he had the French attitude of superiority.

    Thiery believed that Americans never spoke about sex but freely spoke of money, whereby the French never speak of money but always speak about sex.
    And the things neither of us spoke about, was always on our minds!

    Maybe you had to be there, but I thought that was an excellent encapsulation that showed the difference in our cultures.

    And another thing -- was when it comes to religion -- there are churches all over Europe and even Germany taxes their citizens to support their churches, but their churches are not like they are here.

    They regard our churches as being social institutions, whereby we have church gatherings besides services and we do.
    Churchgoers in the USA are a community and they have parties and picnics and things like that, whereby in Europe, people that go to church -- well, they just go to church -- their churches are not gathering places for anything other than services.

    Plus, the French people we knew, and we said that we were Christians, they thought that we were the Born again religious right, so we learned real fast not to talk religion over there!

  5. whatsthatsound says:

    Bill looked just plain awful in that segment, just plain awful. Almost rabid-awful. Totally drank the Dawkins Kool Aid and eager to show just how intolerant a true believer he has become.Trying to pigeonhole Cupp; if you’re an atheist who doesn’t believe EXACTLY what I believe (i.e. what Richard Dawkins tells to me to believe) about people of faith, you “lack the courage of your convictions”.
    Just appalling!
    Furthermore, the inane assertion, also lifting a page from Dawkins and his acolytes, that religion has caused more wars than anything else, is so easily argued that a high school student could do it, so he resorted to shouting his panelists down about it.
    Bill, more wars have been fought over land than anything. Bill…..land??? Hello?
    Even worse, he said that fascism and Russian totalitarianism were “state religions” so all the misery they caused could similarly be attributed to religion. Okay, in Bill’s Bizarro World, Hitler DIDN’T want to put all Germanic countries under his thumb, and make off like a bandit with the Slavic countries. Similarly, Stalin didn’t want Georgia and the Ukraine and the Caspian countries. Nope. Land had nothing to do with it. They were both religious fanatics that wanted to bring everyone under their “state religion”. I can hardly type now, recalling that segment and getting so steamed by it!

    I pretty much lost any remains of respect I had for the “other” Billo.
    And agree with Khirad. Ms. Cupp was sexy enough to make me want to watch the whole segment again. ALLMost….!

    • Khirad says:

      I wonder if she remains open to being converted to Liberalism? Probably a failed cause, but hey, I’ll take one for the team.

      From 9:50 -- 13:30 she talks about atheism and against militant atheism. And goes from mostly making sense to defending Bush because she felt more comfortable he had faith… Not necessarily on-its-face absurd, but the way she frames it is, well… I think she’s confused, and moreover, ambitious.

      • Marion says:

        Funny enough, I can see exactly where she’s coming from and why she unnerved Bill. There are seven different shades of atheists, like everything else. Atheism is not a religion and doesn’t have a prescribed dogma to follow. People like Hitchens and Dawkins (who have their own personal issues which impinge upon their non-believe -- even Dawkins is reserving his 1/10th of doubt for his deathbed conversion and describes himself as a cultural Christian) believe in the “I’m and atheist, ergo all believers must be delusional” critique, because it validates their own lack of and need for established dogma. Cupp is like most normal atheists -- we don’t believe and don’t care if anyone else does or doesn’t. Don’t proselytise. People go on their own spiritual journeys and really don’t need the interference, masked as guidance of another, unless asked. I can see people’s need for a faith. Some of my friends who are believers are the happiest, most content people I know. I wish I had their faith.

        Bill hit on Cupp for the “right” answer. He’s never asked or demanded that question of other atheists on his show before -- not Seth McFarlane and certainly not Brad Pitt. Do you think they follow Bill’s atheist dictate? Of course, they don’t. Pitt, himself, said much the same thing Cupp did about believers last year, and Bill lauded him for it.

        Nope. First off, Bill hit on Cupp for the “right” answer because she was a reasonably young woman -- someone to whom Bill felt superior. (Remember the previous week, when Laura Tyson, the ex-Clinton Administration economist, smacked his ass for cherry-picking sentences spoken by the President and spinning different meanings?) Bill has a problem with women in their 40s and 50s (and 60s, like Fuckington). His self-esteem takes a nosedive. Women of that generation see through and don’t put up with his shit. Fuckington comes on the show, and he ends up looking like a kid at the grownups’ table. They’re MOMMY women, and probably remind him a lot of his own mother -- I’ll bet she was a pip.

        So, Bill hits on Cupp, who doesn’t give the correct “anyone who believes in god has a neurological disorder” meme. He carries on baiting her, demanding that she acknowledge it, questioning her posits in the book and her veracity until she hits another bullseye (and the most significant one).

        She calls out Bill as being angry with God. She implies that it’s BILL who’s not the real atheist, and she’s right. For a split second, he looked exposed.

        Bill misses religion. He misses being part of that big, rowdy, all-inclusive club called Irish Catholics. When Bill’s father left the Church, Bill ceased to be a part of that dynamic. He was like the grand old Duke of York, neither up nor down -- not really culturally Jewish, more culturally Irish, but without the Catholic. He misses the dogma of the Church, the routine. It’s why he seeks out the company of people like Chris Matthews, Paul Begala, Laurence O’Donnell, P J O’Rourke and Michael Moore. Do you honestly think he tells them they’re delusional? Of course, he doesn’t. On the last show of the season last year, Chris Matthews was joking about him, Alec Baldwin and Martin O’Malley being the three Irishmen at the table, when Bill kept saying plaintively, “I’m Irish.”

        Bill needs to belong. Unfortunately, he’s going to have to own up to a pretty horrific truth, if he wants a genuine catharsis.

        Allegedly, Bill’s father left the Church over birth control, when both he and his mother were well past fifty. I’m sorry, that story doesn’t hold water with me. If you think about the one incongruent thing about which Bill rants re Catholicism, you’ll hit the real nail on the head about why the dad left the church. Bill actually made a joke of it a couple of months back at the end of an editorial.

    • dildenusa says:

      Until I read this post I didn’t know who S. E. Cupp is
      and I really don’t care since people who believe that God is a hairy old white man who lives in the sky don’t float my boat. I am not an atheist and wouldn’t have anything to do with Richard Dawkins either. Theologically I align with the Deist and Pantheist beliefs.

      I suggest reading “The Cosmic Landscape” by Leonard Susskind
      Whether you are an atheist or a theist, the Anthropic Principle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle
      is a better starting point for rational discussion about belief rather than whether or not God is a hairy old white man who lives in the sky.

      • KQ says:

        You should enjoy this article. I put it in OT Off Topic but it’s on topic here.

        The meaning of life in 2200 words or less.


        • dildenusa says:

          I’ll remember this every time I turn on my computer and my router.

          • KQ says:

            It’s an interesting and very informative piece even if I think most of the conclusions are wrong.

            I don’t think the universe is an “artificial” construct and it has need for a traditional view of a “creator”.

            I agree most with the strong Anthropic Principle. Even though I think that’s a bit of a misnomer as well. I think creation is more a matter of probability. Over infinite time anything is possible including creation of multiuniverses. Meaning even if the probability of a universal being created is 1 in 101 and a quadrillion zeros it still must exist over infinite time.

            The Casimir Effect already proves matter can be created from nothing via Vacuum Energy so why not universes. Especially since the Vacuum Energy concept would also explain the “lumpiness” of matter creation.

            The reason the creator concept is alien to me is this question. Who created the creator? That sends my brain in a constant loop like envisioning two mirrors facing one another fading into infinity.

            • kesmarn says:

              Of course the Christian answer would be that the creator was uncreated — had existed from infinity and into infinity. Sort of the “I am Who am” notion. The Ground of all being. Equally mind-boggling, in my book. But also fun.

            • kesmarn says:

              Could the cosmic joke that the Deity is playing be the fact that we’re not supposed to get our heads around him/her/it, though? At least, not yet?

            • KQ says:

              Yup that’s what I was taught as well. The only problem is the odds of that don’t play out very well. Let me put my Nate Silver hat on for a second. If a supreme being existed infinite time it would take a probability of 1 in 1 over all time for that to be true. Very few things reach that high level of probability. To me it’s allot easier to get my head around something having an infinitesimally small probability just greater than 0 in 1 of happening.

    • KQ says:

      Absolutely most wars were and are mostly fought over land and resources (including money).

      Hitler did not fight for religion. He fought for Lebensraum and the reason he overreached and attacked Stalingrad was to get after Mideast Oil. The Japanese fought for the gain of land as well. Dogma whether it’s nationalistic or religious may be a source to stir up the lizard brain but the end is almost always land and resources. Even the Crusades were orchestrated by the Roman Catholic church to gain land and the treasures of the Mideast.

      • Khirad says:

        Kudos! Yes! Look who financed the Fourth Crusade (?). Venetians. Why? The Bosphorus.

        Furthermore, for the longest time Palestine and Lebanon were primarily important for one reason only (why else would have ancient empires cared, especially before any followed Abrahamic faiths?). Megiddo, site of battles in the 15th and 7th century BCE (and in 1918), was a strategic point where at least four (I think?) major trade routes met from North, South, East and West. Lebanese, of course, are from the ancient Phoenicians who provided the Persian Navy for one and Tyre itself (besides perfecting the design used by Carthage) has been scene to numerous sieges due to its indispensable strategic value for any military in securing economic interests via sea trade.

        With this area, it’s not so much resources, and religion may fuel the fire, but since ancient times it’s been about location, location, location.

        This being said. The battle over limited land and resources and water to live off of between two groups of people is a whole other issue of its own. I was more on the outward value -- of why countless empires sought need to conquer and administer it, when they could have just left it alone. Even this is simplistic though, and my memory a bit rusty.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        One of Bill’s panelists said, or tried to say actually, the same thing. That religion has often been invoked as a cause for war, conquest, etc., but let’s face it, very few people would be willing to fight a war that could involve the end of everything they know unless there was something real, and terrestrial, on the line. This whole idea that they do it for the seventy virgins, etc. is just the hokum that Hitchens and Dawkins get their devotees to swallow. Islamic terrorists kill because of land, land they feel belongs to them, land that is being invaded, land that their own countrymen have enriched themselves by turning into oil fields, etc. If you solved the land problems of the Middle East, you would NOT have wars just based on religion. It’s too abstract a concept to risk ones life for for 99.9999% of the population. People like Maher miss this because their thinking about this is so blinkered by their own religion issues.

        • KQ says:

          Exactly I was going to bring up the fact that if the Palestinians got their occupied lands back there would be much fewer problems in the Middle East.

          The other part people don’t get is how similar some religious people and Hitchens types are when it comes to religious intolerance. People rarely used the tenants of their religion to fight FOR it. On the contrary religious people and Hitchens types rationalize fighting AGAINST others religious beliefs. So even if you make the argument that religion is a mitigating factor in starting wars that falls on it’s face because it’s religious intolerance that’s really the mitigating factor.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            It’s not just the seemingly intractable Palestinian issue, either. It’s the American military base presence in Saudi Arabia, the biggest thing that stuck in Bin Laden’s craw. And it’s the way the Saudi oil sheiks, from the viewpoint of many impoverished and unhappy Arabs, “sold out to the West”, turned the peninsula into a petrol-industrial park, and fattened themselves in the process. There is just so much dissatisfaction in the Middle East, and Palestine is only a part of it.

            • KQ says:

              We are of the same mind on this issue I almost brought up the bases in Saudi Arabia. Also true like you said much of the displeasure with the US and West are the governments we support in predominantly Muslim countries.

  6. KQ says:

    BT Jesus did not despise anyone but I don’t know where you get that he hung out with the “rich”. He was hated amongst the Jewish elites of his time and hung around with what we would think of working classes and poor today. The real rich were the Romans in his time and they did not mingle with any Jews except for the Jewish elite collaborators.

    The real point is Jesus according to his own words showed preference to the poor much more than the rich elites in his time. The notion that he favored or even hung out with the rich is really a neo Christianist philosophy promoted by people like Glenn Beck and scurrilousness preachers that are defending their lavish lifestyle.

    …I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

    The parallel versions appear in Matthew 19:23-24, Mark 10:24-25 and Luke 18:24-25.

    The saying was a response to a young rich man who had asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied that he should keep the commandments, to which the man stated he had done. Jesus responded, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The young man became sad and was unwilling to do this. Jesus then spoke this response, leaving his disciples astonished.

      • choicelady says:

        Hey BT -- ( admit I’ve never thought of this before. So I looked up the traditions of hospitality, and here is why Jesus would NEVER ask one of the poor or someone with leprosy to house him and his disciples.

        Early issues of hospitality are pretty clearly laid out in the Bible and what we know is scholarship. If someone, even a stranger, comes to your home, you MUST take them in and feed them, give them a place to sleep, and otherwise tend to their needs. The person receiving the hospitality did not pay for it -- it was given, open handedly, by the host.

        Those with leprosy had no homes -- they were cast out (not having a clue about germs and certainly not antibiotics, they were very feared.) The poor, who may indeed have had a hovel, would have been rendered nearly destitute by such hospitality, for even one man, one night.

        Jesus would always have sought the right of hospitality bequest from someone who could support it. He’d never have put that burden on those in need. Since it would not do to have your guest, bidden or unbidden, share the least of what you, the host, had but would be given the most, the request was asked carefully. Jesus fully understood that, and bypassed those for whom hospitality was a hardship.

        I know that in the days of the ‘moral economy’ principles of Europe and the colonies, the same strictures applied. Of course if someone was injured, the person was obligated to take in the ill, the infirm, as they were REQUIRED TO DO FOR THE NEEDY. But those in NEED themselves, were not the first level of request for a night’s loding and meals. It would have been cruel.

        Does that help? I base this on both scripture AND history, so I believe I’m giving you “righteous information”. In the non religious sense, of course!

        • Khirad says:

          Even in the ME today though, poorer families will host guests (until they start to stink).

          It’s a thing of honor. To not stay with them, even though you know you’d inconvenience and put them in debt, would do harm to their reputation in town. The bit about Lot offering his daughters was extreme, but it made its point how seriously this was taken.

          So, the debate isn’t quite settled just like that for me.

          I’m of course fairly certain, like any good person, that he would have been as little bother as possible and like Middle Easterners today (or Westerners leaving a boring party), find some excuse to take leave.

          And yes, I remember the fox part, too.

          Fun fact. In the Qur’an, ‘Isa is born to Maryam under a palm tree on the side of a road, not in a manger. “Yusef” is not really mentioned…

          I might have some fun bringing up how the Qur’an presents Jesus… (and I have more than just my Mennonite tract picked up in Amish Country, in winning Muslims to Christ!)

        • kesmarn says:

          c’lady, I wonder, also whether there were not any number of nights under the stars. After all, “Foxes have their dens, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

          • choicelady says:

            Kes and BT -- I agree that the part about no starry nights has always irked me. Good enough for the shepherds who hailed your birth, good enough for you, JC.

            The reason I take nothing from the Bible literally is that in “Misquoting Jesus” biblical scholar Bart Ehrman notes that over the ages mis-transcriptions and deliberate alterations have produced 400,000 versions -- not copies but versions -- of The Word. Well, who can take it literally then?

            But knowing something of history (though this era is not my area of specialty) and tradition, I think I’m learning the “feel” of what Christian belief is meant to do for us.

            And I truly believe that Jesus would have like a good party, and not just the somber Last Supper. I do have to wonder how much of that joy was deliberately cut out of any manuscripts because we are so shocked by a “laughing Jesus” even now. While I’m fairly sure that “party down,dude” was not quite the flavor, enjoyment and savoring of what the world offers -- the paradise on earth -- and the people around him is where he was headed. He was a callow youth, and it’s the growth that fascinates me. That is attainable by us mere mortals. Wow.

            BT -- I’m so glad you had that topic!

            • Khirad says:

              I end up citing Ehrman’s book a bit too much. 😉

              And anyway, in this case, I think of him like any suburban youth today, rebelling and such.

              The whole renouncing your families and trekking around with disciples just struck me as like hippies boarding up in a VW Bus and taking their own Hero’s journey, to reference Campbell. Or, like a Che with a message of peace.

              I’m just opening myself up to too much criticism here, though. 😆

            • kesmarn says:

              c’lady I love your reply! But I have to say that, in my awkward way, I was was trying to say that it seems likely that Jesus and his crew did spend many a night under the stars. Hence his comment about the foxes.

            • choicelady says:

              Hi Kes -- then I will re-read it since I took it as a bit of snobbery, not experience. See? Even the C.Lady learns from the Planeteers! Thank you!

      • Khirad says:

        It is most likely, as least from what I’ve read, that he was middle class. And, of course, the middle class back then meant he had a craft and means for shelter over his head, little else -- his education shows he was better than middle class in that respect, perhaps. Hey, Buddha was Prince Siddhartha. He renounced riches, then renounced the austerities of asceticism for the middle way.

        I read down, and must’ve missed it, but I’m not sure what difference staying with them, rather than hanging out amongst them, makes the greatest of differences, except, that he was like many middle class of today whom go to the soup kitchens, but return back to the comfort of their house. At least he cared.

        He certainly seems to have detested the Pharisees and the money changers, but I don’t think Christ hated the rich, or anybody, for that matter.

        I do think the Pharisees get a bum rap though. If one was to argue for this classist Jesus, maybe that’s where I’d start. The New Testament is at odds with Josephus there, or has been interpreted as such. Though it could also be that some of the most heated arguments happen within the family…

          • Kalima says:

            If I’m wrong then please excuse me, but does this part of your comment include me for saying that there are parts of the Bible that I find hard to believe and if so why?

            “As I said earlier people pick and chose certain texts and ignore others, but in this case they just ignore the text and chose assumptions

            • Blues Tiger says:


            • Kalima says:

              No, you didn’t address me directly BT, but your comment to Khirad not long after I stated below that I believed the parts of the Bible written by his disciples and people who knew him, rather than others who didn’t, made me believe that you had included me in your “pick and chose” category.

              Please note that I started my comment with “If I’m wrong then please excuse me….”

          • kesmarn says:

            BT, other issues aside, the Planet seems to be one of the few online places where religious discussions don’t end up as “insult fests.” That’s one of the best things about it.

            Loved your other post on “Fogging,” and many of your other ones, but I’m not sure where you’re coming from on this one.

          • KQ says:

            Get off the cross no one is insulting you. I don’t have a dog in this fight since I’m not Christian. You are the one interpreting people’s Christian faith for them by trying to dispel their beliefs about Jesus. The faith that most Christians believe he was all about caring about the poor.

            I don’t like the pick and choosers either, especially people that pick the fire and brimstone from the Old Testament where most of the rationalizations for intolerance originate.

            The point is the faithful believe Jesus had no money of his own to give. No part of the bible does it say he had money. That’s why he told the rich to give to the poor.

            • Khirad says:

              I was about to say the same. I’m quite perplexed where this perception is coming from.

              I, quite frankly, couldn’t be more un-passionate about this. I’m merely throwing stuff out there. And I’m not completely ignorant on the subject either.

              I don’t think anyone here is.

            • KQ says:

              I never got the whole hate Jews thing that came from Christians since Jesus was Jewish.

            • KQ says:

              The basic tenets of Marxism and Socialism is to empower the masses. Hitler did not want to empower the masses, he wanted subservient masses. Which is fundamentally different from liberalism. Whether the Nazis controlled industry to some extent is totally secondary. He controlled them to fight his war, not empower the masses.

              You also never hear from the far right that Nazis were also totally against democracy.

            • Khirad says:

              Don’t get me started on ‘you know who’ who specializes in quoting Jonah Goldberg and Ayn Rand.

              I gave up a long time ago even trying. And, they are emblematic of a whole stream of revisionism out there.

              I recommend a trip to the National Holocaust Museum. The copious amount of quotes against Leftists there from Nazis put a few more nails in that coffin.

              Similarly, I think it’s the same type of thinking and pretzel logic that virulently anti-Semitic Christians had to employ before Judaism was accepted in the past century. That whole Jew-y thingy required some mental acrobatics to get around -- even more so with the Aryan Nations and KKK.

              And whoa, I’m so not trying to compare any of them (I’m so not), and this is far more tame, but merely say that you are right, KQ. The RW had that uncomfortable realization that their values did not match those in whom they wrapped themselves in, therefore, the Conservative Bible Project, etc. had to rewrite such longstanding beliefs and practices to justify their own continued “righteousness”. I’m sure this particular tenet of Supply Side Jesus has roots with Birch Society types and goes back much further.

            • KQ says:

              The thought that Jesus was somehow rich, hung out with the rich or showed deference to the rich is a very revisionist concept. The far right uses the revisionist concept to denounce the traditional view of Jesus for their own ends. I don’t see where it’s insulting to show how that revisionist concept is dangerous.

              The right wing constantly tries to rewrite history and they should not be given an quarter. They are using their pretzel logic to say Hitler was a leftist when when in reality he was a nationalist and fascist.

          • Khirad says:

            Understood, but I’m wondering what curing leprosy, anointing a prostitute (who wasn’t Mary Magdalene), and the miracle of the loaves and fishes teaches, if not compassion for the poor, outcast and downtrodden?

            I’m not arguing, either, but if I were getting in a theological debate, I’d bring this up, though it is a pretty lame rebuttal:

            Matthew 6

            1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

            2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

            3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

            4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

            I agree, that people spend their whole lives interpreting this way or that -- and much is based on tradition and texts written after the Bible, even.

            Be that as it may, no matter how incorrect it may be, I prefer the compassionate Jesus to Supply Side Jesus quoting Lao Tzu (teach a man to fish…).

            • Blues Tiger says:


            • Kalima says:

              When he threw the “money changers” and the dove sellers out of the Temple it was because the Temple was the “House of God.”

              The other reason was that there were a lot of foreigners who came to visit Jerusalem during Passover, some Jewish and some non-Jewish. These money changer would make a lot of profit at the expense of these pilgrims, it made him angry. I can’t see a rich man doing that and it seems that these things haven’t changed much over the years, except now we call them banks and financial institutions.

              Jesus would have so much to make him get angry about were he to walk the city streets today.

        • KQ says:

          The problem is the neo Christianist start their argument saying Jesus hung around with the rich elite as much as he did with poor and working people. They even go so far as to say he lived like a rich man. They use this justification to live lavish lifestyles from taking money from the poor. Jesus worked in reverse and got funded by a few rich and the hospitality of the middle class. He did not enrich himself.

          Like most historical prophets the life lived and teaching vary somewhat. The fact is Jesus saying the poor had a better chance to go to heaven than the rich elite was revolutionary in it’s time.

          It’s like the old joke about Buddha. Only a man over 300 lbs can rationalize teaching self discipline. It still does not take away from his teachings.

          • Emerald1943 says:

            Hi KQ! Good to see you!

            Now, about the Buddha…I don’t think he weighed 300 lbs. In fact, the story tells of a “beautiful” prince, strong and athletic. The 300 lb. Buddha may have come from the Chinese as Buddhism spread to their lands. The Chinese considered obesity as a sign of wisdom as well as prosperity…thus, we have these little statues of a fat Buddha. Since the historical Buddha lived on alms and food begged for in the streets, it is less likely that he could have gained that much weight. The statues of Buddha from other countries other than China show him to be lean and trim.

            I’m just sayin’…. I hope you are well! :-)

            • KQ says:

              I sorry I did not mean to sound literal or be historically accurate. I especially did not mean to offend. I’m guilty of using a bad joke as an analogy. I think his weight was besides the point. What he taught was important and the only substantial point I was trying to make.

            • KQ says:

              Yes regurgitating the joke with any sincerity would be different. I was just trying to give it as an example of how people without tolerance of religion make these types of narrow minded statements. In fact I think I heard Bill Maher regurgitate the joke once in one of his anti-religious tirades in his snarky way.

            • Khirad says:

              Yeah, I left it alone, because I knew that’s what you were driving at.

              How the Buddha ‘became fat’ is a topic of symbolism and syncretism all its own.

              Some other time. :-)

        • Kalima says:

          He was a carpenter by trade and I doubt if that made him rich or middle class. He hung out with scholars, teachers and rabbi with whom he would argue his point of view. Were they rich, I very much doubt this too.

            • Kalima says:

              He worked for his father Joseph, also a carpenter, I still doubt that as an apprentice even in those times there would be much money left to pay him any wages, also apprentices worked for free.

              I have never seen a reference to Jesus of Nazareth being a wealthy man, and even if it is written or has been added to the Bible over the years, I would question it’s authenticity. So many conflicting stories appear in the Bible after his death, that to me it often seems like pure fiction. I believe in what his disciples wrote, they knew him much better than anyone else during his preaching years, some of the other stuff doesn’t ring true.

            • Khirad says:

              Good point, KQ.

              And, they did convict him of being a threat to the state, so…

              Methinks he was not in good stead with them.

            • KQ says:

              Like I said earlier it’s almost a moot point as well on the scale of rich and poor Jewish people back then were the oppressed save for the ones who collaborated with the Romans like Harod. The Romans already looted most of the wealth before Jesus arrived.

              So unless Jesus surrounded himself with Romans or their collaborators which did not happen he hardly lived a rich life.

              I’ve heard the right argue that Jesus always had food, wine and lodging so he was well off. There’s no evidence that he even asked his followers for a thing. There is no sin in giving to OR accepting charity.

            • Kalima says:

              It is close enough, a craftsman, someone who worked with their hands, so it could still be a carpenter or “odd job” man as you suggested. Thanks Khirad.

            • Khirad says:

              I have no references to give but remembered PBS documentaries which interviewed scholars, saying that, while Middle Class has modern connotations, they merely mean that he wasn’t destitute, a slave, or from an unskilled homeless family. That, according to the times, he could be described, very loosely, as “middle class”.

              One of the more important notes of this series, was that carpenter is highly unlikely, in its current form.

              The Greek is t

      • KQ says:

        My real point was not directed at what you said at all. I’m not saying what you said has anything to do with what Beck is saying who says Jesus was hanging around with wealthy people.

        Just asking where the poor side of the town is has nothing to do with it. The fact is we know little about the historical Jesus and how he lived. We know he traveled mostly with poor and working people by all accounts. Because we don’t have much information and a relatively small percentage of wealthy people supported him does not really give a conclusive enough account to say he never stayed with the poor.

          • KQ says:

            I’ve never watched Beck once but read many rebuttals of his recent arguments that Jesus would not believe in redistribution of wealth from liberals and conservatives alike I might add. Beck’s arguments always starts with your premise that Jesus never rebuked the rich and lived like a upper class or rich man. I never assumed you came to the same conclusion. Hell I don’t even know what you conclusion is but to misunderstand what Christ like means. I’ve even heard Bill Maher say Christians should be Christ like which means following his teachings and the example he showed.

            Knowing who his apostles and followers were is far from knowing where he stayed each night. The former is well known while the latter is not. If his apostles were rich I doubt one would sell him out for 20 pieces of silver.

  7. Khirad says:

    I’m horrible. I don’t generally agree with SE Cupp -- and for someone so smart to be making excuses all the time for Palin is pathetic, but she is very hawt. There, I said it. And not in the usual FOX-bimbo way. But with that whole “I’m open to being converted” she also said in this clip on Hannity’s show on her main page. http://www.redsecupp.com -- tell me that’s not catnip for the Evangelicals. She’s like their wet dream. I’m not saying she’s not an atheist, and that she’s not right in that openness, but merely that it’s a line designed to play to her conservative audience.

    She did indeed nail it with the comment that she wasn’t the one still angry with God. I was one of those atheists too, cursing god all the time. One of those days I realized what I was doing, and that it made no sense. I became agnostic in High School and ever sense I’ve gradually had a more open feeling towards the religious. Believe it or not, in the late 90’s I would have been the first to not only slam all Christians, but Muslims, as well (for the curious, I generally didn’t give Jews much thought -- and was really into Eastern religions at the time). But, I decided to do some reading -- and not from atheists, but to read books by Christians and Muslims themselves. Believe it or not, people don’t always fit the caricatures we’ve constructed for them!

    Therefore, I feel sorry for Bill. I’ve been there. I think once in a while he makes sense, like at the end of Religulous, with his clearly agnostic take (after showing only the harshest caricatures of religion, only, save for that cool priest at the Vatican). But then, he goes off on intolerant rants. I have a few ideas of Muslims he could have on his show. I do think he has a problem there -- in understanding that Muslims run the gamut, and that it transcends the religion -- as the movie I recently watched -- Amreeka -- did a great job of subtly hitting the viewer with.

    39:53 O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

    I don’t need to be Muslim to take that message in stride. If only Bill could, as well. Bill, you are transgressing against the liberal soul, and we, the progressive community are oft-forgiving (ideally, not in the dogmatic circles). Just come clean, Bill, and take to heart what was said.

    The problem with him is that I feel it’s all about pride, not in amending beliefs, or growing, -- as that, admits making mistakes, or changing an opinion. Does Maher have it in himself, to change?

    P.S. That was an odd comment, and didn’t sound like a native Northwesterner. We friggin’ talked trash about California and the snooty provincialism of the East Coast (and the whole 13 colonies conceit) more than the Midwest. 😉 😆

  8. kesmarn says:

    Marion, thanks for a reminder that the right is far from holding a monopoly on intolerance. I don’t watch Maher’s show; don’t even know if it’s available on the cable package that I have. So I only hear of his opinions through others’ reports. Needless to say, I don’t think I’m going make the effort to track down online video of his programs at this point. Not after reading your insightful analysis of his latest rant.

    My own family has its “right wing” wing, if you will, and their (usually unspoken) belief is that anyone who is not a conservative Protestant evangelical really has no right to call him/herself an American. That’s pretty darned intolerant. But then we turn to the left. Maher might want to have a listen to his own words when he says, in effect, that no liberal can reasonably call him/herself a Christian.

    What is it about being a power-freak? I can understand (sorta) wanting to arrange things so that you control the environment around you to maximize your enjoyment of life. Who doesn’t have some degree of that will to run the show? I’ll ‘fess up to it.

    But what sort of uber-control-freak feels the need to crawl into other peoples’ heads and start pulling the levers and shifting the gears up there? That’s off limits! Telling other people what they must feel and believe is just not on. Even if they appear to believe something silly. This means you, Mr. Maher! And Ms. Palin.

    Even as a Catholic, I could never make the statement that I’m 100% assured of the existence of God. Because I believe in science. And, to date, there’s no scientific proof of his/her existence (as if gender were even an issue here!). But I’m certainly not going to throw rocks at anyone who is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that he does exist. (In fact, I hafta say, I somewhat envy them that assurance, as long as it doesn’t come with a hefty side of smug judgementalism.) Nor am I going to rag on my atheist friends about how inevitable their damnation to eternal hell is. (Possibly because I don’t believe it??)

    Because I don’t live in their heads. And neither does Bill.

  9. boomer1949 says:

    Exactly the reason I do not watch television.

    And, if I had the opportunity, I would ask both Bill’s, Sister Sarah, Rush, and every other pontificating on-air-pontiff the following question: “What did you do for humanity today besides throw stones at the glass house of another?”

    If I refuse to respect another human being, how can I respect myself, much less be able to freakin’ sleep at night?

  10. nellie says:

    For me, it all boils down to a simple idea…

    Why target people who are essentially minding their own business? When someone starts to hurt someone else — that’s one thing. Then have at it. But to get so worked up over what other people do — when they’re just living their lives and bothering no one — that I will never understand.

    • VegasBabe says:

      How true how true. The Amish are perfect examples. They bother no one. I have lost significant respect for this group, but to this day, they bother no one. And have even aided a cause or two quietly and privately.

    • KQ says:

      Hey nellie. I don’t get proselytizing either. I think beliefs should be your own business.

    • boomer1949 says:

      Hi nellie — great to see you! It’s been so long and I’ve missed your words of wisdom. :smile:

    • javaz says:


      I agree with you 100%.

      But it seems as though some feel that they must push their beliefs onto us all.

      Maybe people should learn to mind their own business and leave the rest of us alone.

      • nellie says:

        Some people definitely have too much time on their hands. That’s what meddling usually indicates …

        • javaz says:

          That is so true.

          It’s like some of us say -- if you disagree with abortion, then don’t ever have one!

          Or if you dislike gays, then don’t ever be gay!


          You know what I mean.

          Why must people push their beliefs on us all?

          I have hope because the younger generation, and you know younger people have a tendency to go against the grain, and they are so turned off with this religious stuff and homophobic attitude.

          The thing that worries me, well, I’m not worried about anything anymore because I’ve made my mind up that I do not have much time left to walk this earth, and I want to enjoy my husband and seeing a sunrise and sunset, but according to the polls, younger people are against a woman’s choice.

          Then again, one can never believe polls or the corporate media.

          We’d all be better off if people would just mind their own beeswax and clean their own houses before pointing fingers at others.

  11. javaz says:

    I think one of the things we all do is paint each other with the broad-brush on so many issues.

    For instance, most liberals/progressives/democrats, at least when blogging, tend to paint the GOP as bible-thumping, gun-toting and even ignorant for allowing the Tea Party and FOX to lead the Republican Party.

    It is very hard not to think of Republicans that way, especially when they quote Rush, O’Reilly, Glenn, and Hannity.

    In my personal life, I do know 3 Republicans who are in fact true atheists, yet they never condemn the radical religious right that drives so much of the GOP.
    And all three of them do quote the FOX pundits.

    I also have 2 Democratic friends who are born-again, bible-thumpers and they do drive me insane by preaching to me and trying to convert me under the guise of saving my soul.
    Heck, they believe in the ‘End of Times’ and swear that if I reject being born-again that I will never reach heaven.
    The bible quoting during inane conversations drives me bonkers, because one can never argue with scripture or faith.

    And then we have Republican friends who do not own guns and believe the gun laws in this country, and especially in Arizona are far too liberal.

    But we also have a friend that is a Democrat who is a gun-owner and even though he does not believe that anyone is going to take his guns away, he sees nothing wrong with liberal gun laws.

    Perhaps we should all regard each other as Independents, since Independents don’t seem to carry any type of dogma.
    (is that the correct term?)

    As many of you know, I didn’t want to believe that ALL Tea Partiers are racist bigots, and honestly, I’m still uncertain that all of them are, even though it sure does appear that way.

    I just think it’s a good rule of thumb to keep an open mind when it comes to judging people.
    No one ever fits perfectly into one particular slot because humans are such complex beings.

    I know people who are racists, true racist bigots, yet they completely accept and deeply love their adopted grandchild who is African American and apparently part Mexican.
    They never refer to their beloved grandchild by his race, but do worry about him since his parents are lesbians.

    I know Democrats and yes, people who describe themselves as Liberals and/or Progressives that are racists by their stance on the SB1070 law in Arizona.
    They may not use the racial slurs, but their lack of compassion for Hispanics is evident.

    And there are homophobes that are Democratic voters.

    I struggle nearly everyday with religion.
    I do take comfort from my beliefs, while having my doubts.
    And I do truly believe that a man called Jesus walked this earth, but as for him actually being the son of God or even rising from the dead, well, I struggle with that.

    I do believe that there are healers among us but whether or not they are given gifts from God is a question.

    I do believe in ghosts.

    I guess the thing that I try to do is to live my life the best that I can and try to be kind to others and generous, but I don’t do it for a heavenly reward, but do it because it’s human.

    Does any of that make sense or was this off-topic?

    • choicelady says:

      javaz -- it’s not at all off topic. It’s a focus on the wide variety of humanity. It’s your life that is testimony to how hard it is to pigeonhole people.

      The End Times believers are quite recent. Only question I ever ask them is -- what if you’re wrong? What if human error has led to the imposition of a date, a vision, that is just wrong? Prophecy has so often failed, and to cling to it as if it were the sole truth is a very fragile place to be since, if it fails, where are you?

      Adolph Hitler (family name Schicklegruber) accepted his father’s fall back on a remote relative’s name, “Hitler” because it “fulfilled” Nostradamus’s prophecy that a man named “Hissler” would lead Germany to the 1000-year Reich.

      Instead we had 13 horrific years of war, death, destruction, and no Reich, no triumph, no dominance of the Teutonic culture.

      My word of advice -- if you believe in prophecy, trust it and DON’T MIX IN! (NB -- I do NOT believe in prophecy, so this is advice to True Believers, not to y’all.) If you don’t think it’s coming true, don’t meddle -- you’ll screw it up. If you believe God wants us to end all the world in 2020 or whatever, WAIT. Don’t try to force it. God does not appreciate it.

      Now -- the reason this advice to the True Believer is so important is that every time a TB decides to give their prophetic vision a little nudge, they do GREAT HARM. If you believe in God, have a lot of faith.

      For the rest of us -- avoid TBs because there is no reasoning with them. In 1956 Leon Festinger wrote a book, “When Prophecy Fails” about UFO cults. Turns out that the more it failed, the STRONGER the belief became. Go figure. So don’t try to talk sense to them -- they NEED this prophecy for some reason.

      The Rapture is now officially 13 years overdue according to the “approved” timeline. Does that slow ’em down? Nope. They can’t actually move the date -- it has Biblical links -- but they can blame all of us for keeping it from happening. So removing us -- sinners all -- becomes essential. Therefore, stay OUT of their way.

      But don’t try to talk sense. It ain’t gonna happen.

      • Khirad says:

        OMG, was the Nostradamus prophecy -- prominently touched on on the Hitler Channel, I mean, History Channel was self-consciously changed? I don’t remember ever seeing that.

      • javaz says:

        I can’t remember how old I was, but I do remember coming home from school and I was worried and scared, and I’m thinking I might have been in the 2nd or 3rd grade, but I told my mom that I had been told that the world was going to end soon and I was really scared.

        My mother told me that she had heard the same thing at my age, and look, the world is still here.
        She told me not to worry about it and cautioned me that I would hear it again and again, but to pay it no mind because it isn’t true.

        My maternal grandparents came over from Austria, which once Hitler took over became Germany or something like that, and they were persecuted horribly for being immigrants.

        Then once WWII started, well, it got even worse and so my grandparents moved from Philadelphia to a German community in the thumb of Michigan where they were safer.

        My mother was born in that area and they were farmers, but she also lived with the guilt of being German, as Kalima references about collective guilt.

        They did round up Germans in this country, as they did the Japanese Americans, and my grandparents could speak English, but they were very hard to understand and since they were so very rural, they lived in fear of being sent to internment camps, but they were left alone.

        My mother spoke fluent German, but she never ever spoke it in front of us kids.

        My father came over illegally from Quebec!

        My mother’s parents studied and took their citizen tests and passed and were American citizens, whereby my father’s parents and my father for that matter, never did.

        My father and uncles served in WWII and had papers, and their original papers, which I have my dad’s, declare him a British citizen since at that time, Canada was still under Britain.

        So, I suppose if Arizona and whoever else, demands that Americans must be from actual American citizens, that I could be deported to Canada!


        My father’s first language was French, and he learned English once coming here, but even he had the accent.

        He taught us kids some French, but my mother always got so upset, because she feared that we’d all speak French and she’d be left out again.

        When they were first married, they lived with my father’s family and they spoke nothing but French, and my mother did not want to be left out again, and I truly can understand that.

        But it’s a darn shame, because us kids could have learned German and French, and we’d be tri-lingual, but them times back then were so very different.

        Or maybe not.

  12. choicelady says:

    Oh, Marion -- thank you! Thank you for your kindness and devotion to honoring diversity! I work for a very progressive faith organization, despite or maybe because of my own very shaky sense of “what is” -- definitely an agnostic on most issues. I am supported in that lack of clarity and dogma BY my organization that represents 21 mainstream, progressive Protestant denominations. The quest for truth is all encompassing. The ownership of truth is utterly repudiated. NO one can “know” without question what truth is, if there is a God, and even if there is, how God is made manifest. We are people who follow the teachings trying to bring about “paradise on earth” not waiting for that sweet bye and bye. Because, among other things, there may not be one.

    But for all that we are pro choice, pro GLBTQ equality, anti=war, anti-poverty, for building a sustainable economy -- we are looked at with horror by people who are atheist or even agnostic. Why? Because we MIGHT believe in something supernatural. And then want to covert the others to that belief. Which we decidedly do not.

    I detest Maher and his slimy dismissal. I once got into a back and forth with Sam Harris who asserted that no one who was religious believed in science. Absurd! Of course they do! He claimed he did not have “enough time” to prove his point, but I continued to press on (blogging on TruthDigg) with others who assumed, without evidence, that I believed in creationism, end times, was a bigot against (fill in the blank) until I simply wore them down.

    Polls prove nothing since all but Pew cast “religious” and “unreligious” people by one narrow focus -- do you go to church weekly. If not -- pop, you go into the “unreligious” category and from that all wise decisions are attributed to the unreligious.

    I work for a large faith organization. I do NOT go to church or belong to one.

    I believe in equality, science, and rationality, as I also am deeply moved by Christ’s teachings and wisdom, right along with Native America, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and many other teachings. I also LOVE Bertrand Russell, an atheist. So that makes me an “unreligious” person who is rational. So I have started lying on polls and saying I go to church every week but am also rational just to confound expectations of polls. Faint rebellion but mine own.

    Most of my allies -- once they stop fearing me -- are non-religious in ANY sense of the word, but they finally “get” who I am, who we are. We are the majority -- those who are questing for the truth, are Christians by heritage and understanding, but who are not devoted to rules, dogma, narrow thinking. We ARE the majority!

    I am so tired of the hate from the Left as well as the Right. You are so correct to note how nasty and dogmatic that has become! We are one of the most present forces for good in the world, and we have no “home” even though we were the people who fought slavery, stood with labor, ended children’s abuses, moved on to the suffrage movement and later abortion rights, and of course were in the forefront of the Civil Rights and anti-war work. We weren’t scary then -- where would this nation BE without William Sloane Coffin’s amazing moral leadership against the war? -- but after 30 years of religious right, people who damned well ought to know better think everyone who wonders about God or embraces Christianity (or anything else) are just all the same.

    Hate even against Sarah’s version of Christianity just makes us miss one another has human beings. I’m not at all comfortable with evangelicals for the most part, but WOW -- some of them ROCK! We won’t agree on a lot of things, often vehemently, but when we DO agree, as with Jim Wallis and his war on poverty -- we should definitely do that!

    We on the Planet are all so very different in this and many other aspects of life, but so what? We share a common respect for humanity and individual value, and for a better world, a more just and sustainable way of life, that it’s clear our MORAL values are identical. We come from different places in many ways. We are all headed with gusto and good will TO the same place. That’s the bond that matters.

    As a person of faith -- and I am, just not of religion -- I suspect your view of the universe is correct. I also know there is something bigger than any one person, and it may just be the collective knowledge and energy of humans, but -- is that not a “supreme being” in its way? What all people who hate other people reduce everything to, whether it’s Sarah or Bill, is that there is only one thing that matters -- themselves. Even declaring an utterly secular world, one still has to stand back and make way for the common good. And that is something the narcissistic salvation pursuers on the Right cannot tolerate, and it is equally what the narcissitic self-aggrandizers cannot tolerate. You are quite right that it comes out the same -- browbeating and absolutism.

    Bill would have been more honest if he’d declined the Bright Shiny Thing in the award and stayed true to his quest -- no one knows. But he’s now a fundamentalist, too. And the world is more sad because of it.

    Thank you again for the amazing beauty of your insights. I needed to read this today. You have uplifted me in many ways!

    • javaz says:

      Beautiful post, CL, and I agree with everything you say and you said it all with such eloquence.

      One of our favorite people to watch on Sundays -- and we do not watch him religiously (no pun intended) but if he’s on while we’re flipping channels, we watch Joel Osteen.

      I do not think the evangelical community accepts him as a Christian or one of them because he is so unlike any tele-evangelist.

      Osteen peaches hope and not fire and brimstone.
      He never takes a stand for or against any one group, such as homosexuals.
      He refuses to condemn any group because that’s not what Christ would do.
      His sermons are uplifting and humorous and he just makes you feel good.

      He’s also a multi-multi-millionaire that has mega-churches, and I admit that I think that that is wrong, just as I think the wealth of the Vatican and in Salt lake City is wrong.

      If these Christian organizations truly followed the teachings of Christ, wouldn’t they give all their wealth to help the poor?

      • choicelady says:

        Hey javaz -- I don’t know a lot about him, but at one point he actually had the strength to say that there were many routes to God. OMG! What OUTRAGE was directed at him! He did not precisely recant, but he has scaled that back.

        He is vilified on several web sites for his “heresy”. I think he’s pretty conservative, but he is like Jim Wallis and David Gushey who work for human rights and to end torture, poverty, and other evils in the world -- and get excoriated by the Uber right for doing so. An effort to reform the tax laws of Alabama to be moral and fair (it’s all on the poor now!) was opposed by the Christian Coalition even though it had huge support from the evangelical community in AL. So the moral of the story is that when you work for a better world, you’re in league with the divvil. If you point fingers at people and show you’re vastly superior to them, you are on your way to Heaven.

        Osteen and Wallis and Gushey however, are changing the face of conservative Christianity, and they are growing by leaps and bounds, especially among the youth, so in another decade or so, they MAY be in the lead.

        One freaking lives in hope.

        • javaz says:

          Hey BT!!!

          I saw him on 60 Minutes awhile ago and saw that he was having another mega-church built.

          I did not know that about his father.

          I think a really good example of a person of faith that did what people of faith should do in modern times was Mother Theresa, and even she had her doubts about God from all the suffering that she witnessed.

    • KQ says:

      You transformed my thought on people who have faith. I always respected people of faith at a human level but in my mind looked down on them for unreasonable thinking.

      Sure literal parts of the bible, especially the Old Testament have been proven wrong. I think people are wrong who don’t accept the theory of evolution which is consistent with every scientific finding. But there are many more reasonable people of faith that can separate scientific understanding from their beliefs.

  13. KQ says:

    Hear! Hear! Hear! An inspired piece Marion. You are so right on two points. One is the increasing intolerance we see on the left with people of faith and a host of other beliefs to be honest. Don’t get me started with the anti-Jewish rhetoric from the left as well. The other is the pure vitriol coming from the left that sounds increasingly similar to what we hear from the right.

    Bill Maher is a great example of that religious intolerance.

    As far as unreasonable vitriol goes, Jane Hamsher was one of the first pundits to compare Kagan to Meiers, even before the right wing got a hold of the meme. Any reasonable person knows that Kagan has a far far more accomplished career than Meiers even if you do think Kagan does not pass the purity test.

    • Kalima says:

      Well said K. I was having a conversation with wts on another thread the other day saying how I just can’t understand why when I say the I’m a Christian, I get such a gut-wrenching reaction. Where people I don’t know and will never meet, feel it’s alright to insult me in some cases and spit venom at me in others.

      I have lived my life trying to follow the teaching of Jesus, it has served me well. I feel no anger or disrespect for non-believers and have no motivation to convert a living soul. I just require the respect that most people do, to believe what I will always believe, that once upon a time, a good man walked this earth, a man of peace and understanding for the less fortunate and what he wanted to teach us, many of us do every day whether religious or not because we possess compassion and a deep love for our fellow humans.

      Growing up, my grandparents house was not one of Bible reading, we didn’t even own one, in fact I have never read it from cover to cover because I didn’t feel the need to. I follow Jesus’s teachings, they are in my heart and I try every day to remember the 10 commandments. Coming from a long line of Roman Catholics, I remember my grandparents as tolerant, kind and giving people. Any form of disrespect to race or religious beliefs were quickly silenced by my grandmother’s icy stare, even innocent childish questions. Her motto was “Live and let live.”

      I can assure you that out of the 1b 200,000 Catholics around the globe, only a small percentage would tackle anyone’s right to not believe in God and no, the rest of us are not at all delusional. We function like everyone else does, and the 24 hours in our day are not occupied with thoughts of religion or converting others, that’s just another myth put out there by people who feel the need to explain our belief by demeaning it. As my grandmother so wisely said, “Live and let live” insulting me and the rest of the “true believers” might make you feel good about yourself when you are in a group or involved in anonymous blogging, or even if you are Maher and have become famous by shouting down religion while being dishonest about your own beliefs, but it won’t cure your self hate for whatever reason.

      I made up my mind some time ago, that should I be challenged again about my beliefs, I won’t feel the need to ever have to defend them again. Arguing about either religion or politics has no end and no compromising solution, another thing my grandmother tried to teach me, and she was right as always. I am who I am, won’t hide or be ashamed, so either take me as I am or move on.

      • javaz says:

        Well said, Kalima!

        In the USA though, what the Catholics do not realize, whether lapsed or active, is that what we are is not the acceptable form of Christianity.
        Catholics, like Mormons and other faiths are not even considered Christian.
        You have to be Born-Again, and be a charismatic Christian on top of that to be considered a Christian.

        I still consider myself a Catholic, too, even though I believe that the Catholic Church has deserted me, but then I think we’ve talked about that before.

        The most recent case here in a Catholic hospital whereby a woman who was 11 weeks pregnant, and it was a life and death decision, so a nun, after discussing the mother’s health with her, her family and doctors decided to abort the fetus so the mother could live was excommunicated instantly by the bishop and removed from her post.

        The update on that story is that the woman has also been excommunicated.

        According to the Bishop of the Phoenix Diocese, the end did not meet the need.

        He believes, as do the scholars from Loyola University that the woman should have died, which would in turn killed the fetus anyway.

        Until the Catholic Church regards women as equals to men, I will have nothing to do with the actual church.

        It was the reason that I walked away a second time.

        But I do consider myself a Catholic because I was baptized into the faith and I do think that it’s a wonderful faith, but man has ruined the true meaning.

        Hope that makes sense.

        • choicelady says:

          Christianity has a wide variety of proponents, IMHO, most with very historical lineage.

          Certainly Roman Catholics, then Protestants of many stripes, then Eastern Orthodox and Copts and Marinites, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists -- Christians in many and wonderful varieties.

          Only in the last 100-200 years come the most recent versions: the fundies.

          But it is these newest ultra conservatives who declare that while there are Catholics and Protestants, THEY are the only ones who are Christian!!!!! Since when?????

          Evangelical Christianity began only about 1830 with the Great Awakening. If they and the Pentacostals (c.1901) are the ONLY Christians -- how did humanity go for over 1800 years without one single Christian on the face of the earth? Who carried the torch if there were NO Christians until this very recent lumpy lot?

          When I get a civilized, intelligent answer, I will let you know.

          Don’t be holding your breath.

        • Kalima says:

          I don’t live in your country javaz, and even if I did, no “born again” could ever tell me that I’m not a Christian, I would laugh in their faces and it would cost me nothing.

          Kesmarn wrote about this hospital incident but as you see there was a nun who thought it through and decided as it should be, to save the life of the mother, the fetus was only 11 weeks old and therefore not viable. There are many Catholics who would believe this was the right thing, the only thing to do. Excommunication by some Bishop living in the past while the rest of us are speeding to the future, shows how much the doctrine of the Church is lagging behind. They are both still Catholics and can find another Church to attend, I wouldn’t take the evil, hateful words of this Bishop seriously for a minute, not even he can take away my core beliefs, I would ignore him. The Church has failed to scare me into submission many years ago, they can’t throw me out if I don’t want to leave.

          • kesmarn says:

            Kalima, I am absolutely on the same page with you on this one. I’m not going to allow some misogynist old guys in red robes to cut me off from some of the most gorgeous art, music and theology ever created — not to mention the tremendous social justice work the Church has been part of. I’m not going to let them win by allowing them to “run me out” of the Church. As you say: “…they can’t throw me out if I don’t want to leave.”

            The nun who made this rational decision has a foot in the future. The bishop who’s wheezing and geezing in opposition is living in the past. As you put it: “…not even he can take away my core beliefs.” Strong women are going to be a huge part of the Church of the 21st century. I believe that!

          • javaz says:

            One of the reasons we went back and were married in the Church, was a local parish priest -- St. Bridget -- and the priest was Fr. John.

            Oh, how we loved his sermons and beliefs, and was he gay? Maybe, but no one cared at all, because he was so liberal, and so unlike all the priests we all grew up knowing.

            He looked like Richard Chamberlain, you know, Dr. Kildare, but more so.
            He was a handsome man, and my husband and I got so active in that parish.
            We played guitar and joined the teaching of catechism classes and also joined the choir and those were wonderful times.

            Fr. John was awesome, but then he left for a summer to visit his family owned home in Ireland, and then older priests came in to take his place, and it turned ugly and ugly very fast.

            I walked away, even though my husband did not want to leave the parish, he understood my reasons and joined me in turning my back.

            I even wrote Fr. John while he was in Ireland and told him, and he was saddened, but even he understood, because he got it.

            He used to say on occasion during mass that he hoped a woman would someday say mass.

            Well, when the new bishop came in, and that’s a long story why the Phoenix diocese got a new bishop, he moved Fr. John from St. Bridget and then Fr. John went to church in Gilbert.

            There was a mass in which the couple were from a different faith, yet both Catholic faiths, and Fr. John invited the Greek Orthodox Catholic priest to say the wedding mass, and someone reported him, and he was de-frocked.

            But everyone knew the real reason he was defrocked was because there’d always been rumors that Fr. John was gay.

            Who cares?
            He wasn’t a pedophile but the new bishop was on a mission.

            The parishioners from St. Bridget petitioned and did every thing possible to get Fr. John re-instated, but that bishop is a real SOB.

            To make a long story shorter, Fr. John has since been re-instated, but he no longer can be active in the church, so he’s considered retired, and he now teaches at ASU.

            This new bishop in Phoenix is a real piece of work.

            BTW, my husband’s uncle is a priest, and he was the guy in charge of St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix, and he married us, with Fr. John and three other priests that we knew through Fr. John and our activities with St. Bridget.

            We had the most Catholic wedding ever, and it was awesome, and my husband’s uncle cried, because my husband was the only person in my husband’s family that went through it all and was married in the church.

            It was all quite moving.

            The lack of tolerance in the church just turns us off.

    • choicelady says:

      Yes, KQ -- if someone could prove beyond doubt that there is no god, I’d not be shattered or change anything. The absence of fear of God-with-white-beard sitting in eternal judgment of every move we make is very liberating! It gives the freedom to BE GOOD and DO GOOD for its sake alone. How awful to think you are a moral person BECAUSE YOU’RE BEING WATCHED. That is not morality. That’s tyranny. And that is not faith. It’s merely fear.

      If God did exist as Sarah sees him, he is a God of such pettiness that it does not bear belief. If we can imagine (and Lennon got this right) a world of no hate and war and hurt and violence, then surely God has to be either bigger than we mere mortals can perceive, or it’s entirely up to us to do the imagining. It really ought to make no difference in the outcome. Good is good whether someone or something is watching or not.

      I am a Christian because it’s my cultural heritage with which I am familiar. I have a friend who converted to Islam, and she is more comfortable there, but I would not be however much I love the Muslims whom I know. I find Christian teachings inspiring, but they are not impossible standards many religious people would impose. Christianity is the only religion that holds up role models whom we CANNOT emulate -- no woman will ever give virgin birth, no human will ever have a life without blemish. Who can aspire to that? And be healthy? And why would you follow any of the saints who were penitents and abusers of the flesh? Ick! If God demands self abuse, that’s a nasty standard I reject.

      Living a moral life of kindness towards others and in pursuit of truth and seeking justice for all -- with or without God -- is a beautiful life, well lived.

      • KQ says:

        I don’t know how people who call themselves Christians rationalize any way to not be Christ like. Palin is a great example of that. Where is xenophobia, gay hating, lying, gun loving, blind ambition and greed being Christ like? It’s not necessarily her beliefs that is the problem to me. It’s following her own beliefs. People act like religion is the problem when it’s people who behave badly that are the problem. I know weak minded people are coerced by a certain dogma, but to me with the exception of extreme cases it’s always up to the individual to be moral regardless of their beliefs.

        • choicelady says:

          If you really want to puke, Google “Jesus with Guns”. Mind blowing and utterly disgusting. And Sarah’s kind of guy.

          • KQ says:

            One way to think about it if you are a Christian is what he said is direct testimony from God since he was God.

            Whereas the rest of the bible was hearsay evidence.

          • KQ says:

            I grew up Catholic and it was taught that what Jesus actually said trumps all other passages in the bible. Going by what he “said” there is no indication he would discriminate or reward the rich like CL said.

            The golden rule trumps all other law if you are truly Christ like.

          • choicelady says:

            Hi BT -- Christ grows and matures over time, a point hugely overlooked by those who do pick and choose. It’s precisely the imperfection of his youth coupled with the amazing transformation that makes this work for me. And “fulfilling the law” is carefully delineated since he tells the Pharisees that obeying the picky stuff but NOT changing where your heart and head are, leads to a kind of fundamentalism that is no different from the fundies of today. Legalisms (selectively picked at that) do not lead one to grace. Only to pomposity and self pride. Does that sound familiar? He made clear that one cannot decide to stone people, and his utter silence on sexual issues makes pretty clear that “love they neighbor” and all that other open heartedness is supposed to transcend the icky parts of God’s law. He was also pretty clear about riches being a drag on your humanity. Wish he’d been a little less opaque about some of that. Think what a better world we’d have. Or, conversely, how many fewer Christians. People DO love to hate, don’t they?

            • Blues Tiger says:


            • choicelady says:

              I agree it’s likely he was a person of some financial stability, but he did hang with those who were the most poor and, more important, advocated for them. He consistently broke the existing laws -- he healed on the Sabbath, spoke with the Samaritan woman, and the Sermon on the Mount was with those who had nothing to eat. His advocacy was far superior to his class origins which were not rich but what we’d think of as middle class. It’s his refusal to be comfortable, to take without giving, that makes him so different from those of his time.

            • javaz says:

              Well, he didn’t like the moneychangers in the Temple.

  14. dildenusa says:

    Most People who believe on faith that God is a hairy old white man who lives in the sky are decent people. It’s the same with any group based on belief. The bad apples can be in any belief group. But one bad apple spoils the whole barrel.

    Take for instance the people who manage BP or the managers of mining companies. Most of them are probably people one would consider decent. But their view of reality is skewed by their beliefs and attitude that people who do the grunt work in those kinds of jobs are expendable because profit is more important than people. And they will quote chapter and verse from the Bible to defend their attitudes and beliefs. The truth is it doesn’t have to be this way.

    • KQ says:

      That’s true about the BP workers. Not sure about the management tough.

      I call that the “Clerks” relative morality argument from that same movie.

      The argument is part of a discussion of the first Star Wars Trilogy regarding the moral relativism of blowing up the death star twice.

      In the “first” Star Wars they blew up the death star but all those on board were part of the evil empire. So they argued that everyone “deserved it”.

      But in Return of the Jedi they blew up the death star when it was being rebuilt so they argued thousands of independent contractors were on board that did not necessarily “deserve it” so it was an atrocity.

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