EppsNet Archive: Religion

Fake News?

29 Mar 2017 /
Peter Paul Rubens' painting, Massacre of the Innocents

Peter Paul Rubens’ painting, Massacre of the Innocents.

According to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Herod the Great died in the year 4 BCE.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod was the ruler of Judea who ordered the Massacre of the Innocents at the time of the birth of Jesus.

Which would mean that Jesus was born at least four years before the birth of Christ . . .


Jesus and Mo: Facts

23 Mar 2017 /

Jesus and Mo: Facts


I’d Like to Believe in the Existence of a Loving God . . .

11 Mar 2017 /
Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church

. . . but I can’t. The quality of evidence is very poor.

Do you believe in ghosts, fortune tellers, psychics, werewolves, vampires, astrology, alien visitations . . .?

I don’t believe in any of those things, but they’re all out there and a lot of people do believe in a lot of things for which the quality of evidence is very poor.

Do you believe that a cow jumped over the moon? I remember reading about it but the quality of evidence is very poor. It seems to be just another made-up story . . .


Another Reason I Don’t Believe in God

9 Dec 2016 /
Thomas Merton

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a Catholic writer and Trappist monk at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky.

His inspirational quotes turn up on Facebook and elsewhere. (I saw the above quote on Facebook this week.)

It’s a beautiful quote, I have to say that.

Do you know how Thomas Merton died? If you find Merton inspirational, it may be better not to know how he died.

He was electrocuted by an electric fan. He stepped out of a bath and was electrocuted by a fan.

I can’t help thinking about that when I read quotes like the above.

Dear Lord, I know you will lead me by the right road . . .

— Yep no problem Tom, got you covered.

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTT!

— Oops, watch out for that fan.

I don’t want to ruin it for you if you like Merton . . . but if you believe in this kind of a heavenly arrangement, you’ve got to believe God is one heck of a practical joker.


Praying for Sleeping Bags

23 Oct 2016 /
Praying to the Madonna of the Rosary, by Carav...

Praying to the Madonna of the Rosary, by Caravaggio, 1606-1607

I was having a conversation with someone last night about the efficacy of prayer . . .

“Prayers are always answered,” I was informed, “but sometimes the answer is no, or not right now.”

What’s the point of the prayer if God is going to do whatever he wants to do anyway? Your results would be just as good if you offered prayers to me. Some of your prayers would be answered and some wouldn’t.

Has anyone done a study on this? A control group wants things but doesn’t pray for them, a second group prays to God for what they want, and a third group prays to a random entity — me, or maybe a shopping cart.

Would there be any difference in results between the groups? I’m going to say no.

It’s also hard to assess the efficacy of prayer because people never pray for anything tangible . . .

My son as a kid went on a camping trip with a church group where they wound up short of sleeping bags. I asked him did the church leaders pray for more sleeping bags and he said no.

People will pray for so-and-so to recover from brain surgery but they won’t pray for more sleeping bags.

The brain surgery patient being prayed for is going to recover or not. If not, that gets filed under “sometimes the answer is no.”

But everyone knows damn well that praying for more sleeping bags is not going to work.


God Bless Us, Every One

16 Oct 2016 /
Daniel's Prayer

I saw a Facebook status update this weekend asking for prayers for anyone with family problems, health struggles, job issues or worries of any kind who just need to know that someone cares.

The deal is that you have to copy and paste the status to your own Facebook page.

Full disclosure: I don’t believe in God or prayer, although I do believe that a lot of people need to know that someone cares about them.

That being said, depending on how lost I feel at any given time, I’m willing to try things even though I’m pretty certain that they’re not going to work. But I have not tried prayer.

Why would I need to post something on Facebook to indicate that I prayed for you? Because prayer is not a real thing that’s going to produce a tangible result in the world. So you have to tell people that you did it, otherwise they would never know.

Also, if you believe in God, don’t you believe that God is in control of things being the way they are? If you have struggles, as we all do, do you believe that the struggles were given to you by God? If I leave a sack of flaming dog shit on your porch, do you think I’m going to come over and stomp it out for you?

Do you believe that God says to himself, “I’m going to hit this person with a series of devastating blows, but if he asks me to ease up a little, I will”?

It seems perverse to me.


Shut Up About Free Speech

16 Oct 2016 /

Jesus and Mo


Shake it Off (aka Haters Gonna Hate)

6 Oct 2016 /

A Chinese woman tells me that being around white guys inhibits her ability to make edgy (i.e., racist) comments about white guys . . .

I reply, “White guys didn’t get to be what we are by peeing in our pants and crying for our mamas every time someone calls us a name. Haters gonna hate. That has been amply demonstrated. We’re just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake it off.”

 

Some people are offended by absolutely everything, some people are offended by nothing, and everyone else is somewhere in between.

The people at the easily offended end of the spectrum get most of the attention. People who hear a trigger word or a dog whistle that wouldn’t bother a normal person and they’re bleeding out all over the place like hemophiliacs. That’s where most of the focus is, it seems to me. It’s a distorted view of reality.

My son went to college at Berkeley. I’ve been there a lot and I can tell you that if 100 people are blocking Sather Gate to protest a microaggression, when you watch the news that night, you see the 100 people, as though that’s the totality of what was happening.

If you weren’t there, you might think “Wow, the whole campus is in an uproar!” but what you don’t see are 25,000 other people ignoring the 100 protestors, going to class and trying to get on with their day.

If you weren’t there, what you see is not really what was happening.

Sather Gate protest

 

Ten years ago, my son’s junior high school had a co-ed pickleball tournament. The results were posted on the school web site. If a team name contained any sort of cultural reference, the P.E. teacher in charge of the tournament wouldn’t put the name on the web site without deliberately misspelling some of the words.

For example, 3 White Guys and a Hindu became 3 Wite Gus and a Hidu, because identifying someone as white, male or Hindu would be unacceptable.

The team name 3 Blondes and a Brunette came through untouched for some reason. Why people allowed to self-identify as white girls (i.e., blondes), but not as white guys or Hindus I don’t know.

The weirdest one to me was 4 Asians and an Idiot, which came out as 4 Ans and an Idiot.

I asked my son, “Who’s the idiot?”

“Some white guy,” he said.

“Why is it okay to call someone an idiot but not an Asian?”

“It’s not racial.”

True . . . there are idiots of all races.

 

Those kids are all in their early 20s now. They’re just coming into the real world, the next generation, and I’m optimistic about the fact that despite schools and others telling them that they should be offended by absolutely everything, they’re not offended by anything.

They have a sense of perspective, a sense of humor, and I think they’re going to be okay.


One Thing I Can’t Tolerate is Intolerance: BYU Edition

9 Aug 2016 /

LGBT values

What values are we talking about? Tolerance for sexual preferences? What about tolerance for religious beliefs? You want tolerance for what makes you different but you’re not willing to extend tolerance to what makes others different? That’s not tolerance. There’s a word for what that is, and it’s not tolerance.

What about inclusiveness? Is inclusiveness a good value? Should the Big 12 exclude BYU to promote inclusiveness? That’s not inclusiveness.


Bad Religion

9 Aug 2016 /

If it brings me to my knees
It’s a bad religion.

— Frank Ocean

When Was That? I Missed It.

7 Aug 2016 /

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.

— Romans 8:28

Your Attitude to Women is a Disgrace

26 Jul 2016 /

Jesus and Mo


What Are the Rules on Refusing a Religious Funeral?

21 Jun 2016 /

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. —- The father of the Orlando gunman said his son was buried at a Florida cemetery this week.

Seddique Mateen would not say where his son, Oman Mateen, was buried, but said it was an Islamic burial.

A lithographic painting depicting a Muslim funeral

Is a Muslim entitled to an Islamic funeral no matter what kind of atrocity he commits, in particular, an atrocity committed in the name of Islam? What are the rules on this?

Would a Catholic, for example, who pledged allegiance to the Pope before shooting 100 people be entitled to a funeral mass in the Church?

I remember a couple of years ago in Australia when an Islamic extremist got himself and a couple of hostages killed in a siege, the funeral director with the Lebanese Muslim ­Association said this:

We don’t care about him, we don’t know him, chuck him in the bloody shithouse. Nobody’s going to do his funeral. No Muslim funeral home will accept him. They can throw him in the bloody sea.

Anyone who does harm to Australians, we don’t want him. This is not a human, this is an animal. He killed innocent people … even if you paid us $3 million we would not do his funeral.


Praying for Startups

31 May 2016 /

A new Meetup group called Praying for Startups sent me the following email:

Are you involved in a startup? Are you a Christian?

Meet fellow Christians from all walks of the entrepreneurial eco-sphere, as we share and pray for our teams and the startup community, both locally and abroad.

I’d be interested to see some numbers on the correlation between prayer and startup success. I suspect there isn’t any. Also the relative efficacy of prayers to a Christian God vs. Allah, Buddha, Satan, Zeus and all other supernatural beings.


Religions or Cults?

28 Mar 2016 /

cult2


Tiptoeing Around Reality

28 Mar 2016 /


Mysterious Ways

11 Mar 2016 /

And it came to pass after these things, that God tested Abraham and said unto him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Behold, here I am.” And He said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

— Genesis 22:1-2
 

‘Schizophrenic’ nanny SMILES in Russian court after claiming ‘Allah ordered her’ to decapitate four-year-old girl and walk Moscow streets brandishing the child’s severed headDaily Mail Online

 

India: 400 men cut off their testicles to ‘get closer to God’ following advice from ‘guru’International Business Times

God seems to enjoy the occasional game of Supernatural Simon Says:

Cut off your testicles.

Cut off your own fookin testicles, mate.

God says cut off your testicles.

Oh . . .

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh


Feb. 5, 1631: Roger Williams Arrives in America

5 Feb 2016 /
Roger Williams

Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, meeting with the Narragansett Indians

It’s hard to imagine the sense of infinite potential accompanying the arrival on the North American continent in the 1600s . . .

Roger Williams came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Boston from England. Four years later, in 1635, he was banished from the colony for, among other things, speaking out against the right of civil authorities to punish religious dissension.

After leaving Massachusetts, Williams, with the assistance of the Narragansett tribe, established a settlement near Narragansett Bay, located in present-day Rhode Island. He declared the settlement open to all those seeking freedom of conscience and the removal of the church from civil matters.

Williams named the community “Providence.”


Cognitive Dissonance on Muslims

22 Dec 2015 /

How are these two ideas about Islam and Muslims, seemingly held simultaneously by a lot of people, not completely incompatible with each other:

  1. Islam is a religion of peace and Muslims are peaceful folks (e.g., Hillary Clinton: “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”)
  2. We must be careful not to offend Muslims because if we do, they will kill us (e.g., Hillary Clinton: “They are going out to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”)

What am I missing?


A New Use for Churches

13 Dec 2015 /
Church

Granting the existence of God, a house dedicated to Him naturally follows. He is all-important; it is fit that man should take some notice of Him. But why praise and flatter Him for His unspeakable cruelties? Why forget so supinely His failures to remedy the easily remediable? Why, indeed, devote the churches entirely to worship? Why not give them over, now and then, to justifiable indignation meetings?

— H.L. Mencken

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