EppsNet Archive: Religion

EppsNet at the Movies: A Serious Man

19 Apr 2014 /
A Serious Man

When the truth is found . . . to be lies. And all the hope . . . within you dies. What then?

Life is bleak. If you try to lead a good life, bad things happen. If you yield to temptation, worse things happen. Religion offers no more wisdom, insight or consolation than a Jefferson Airplane song.

P.S. I know the lyric should be “joy” and not “hope” but in the movie the rabbi says “hope.”

Rating: 4 stars

A Serious Man

Larry Gopnik, a Midwestern mathematics teacher, watches his life unravel over multiple sudden incidents. Though seeking meaning and answers amidst his turmoils, he seems to keep sinking.

Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cast: Michael Stuhlbarg Larry Gopnik, Richard Kind Uncle Arthur, Sari Lennick Judith Gopnik, Fred Melamed Sy Ableman

IMDb rating: 7.0 (80,564 votes)


See You in Hell: The Fritz Pollard Edition

1 Mar 2014 /

Satan

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan -- PE]

The head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors diversity in the NFL, expects the league to institute a rule where players would be penalized 15 yards for using the N-word on the field.

The N-word. Let’s see . . . the N-word is “National,” the F-word is “Football” and the L-word is “League.”

Wait — what?! I’m now being informed that the N-word in this case is “nigger.” That’s what the Fritz Pollard Alliance wants to penalize. OK, that’s a great idea, Fritz Pollard Alliance, and by “great” I mean “bullshit.”

Has anyone at the Fritz Pollard Alliance read the Harry Potter books? In the Harry Potter books, Voldemort is known as He Who Must Not Be Named. He’s so powerful and scary and evil that you’re not even allowed to say his name! The only person who’s not afraid to say Voldemort’s name is Harry Potter.

I wish someone would ban my name from being spoken. I hate to hear my name bandied about — “Satan this” and “Satan that.” It makes me seem unremarkable, like someone you might chat with at a dinner party or meet at Starbucks for a coffee.

If people were banned from speaking my name, every time someone did speak it, accidentally or on purpose, it would be like “AUUUUGH! SATAN HAS BEEN UNLEASHED FROM THE DEPTHS OF HELL!” I’d be 10 times more fearsome than I am already.

You see where I’m going with this, Fritz Pollard Alliance? Banning the use of a word makes the word more scary and powerful, not less.

Who knows better than me that if you make a thing forbidden, people will want that thing more than ever? I call that Satan’s Paradox.

 

Except for the N-word, all racial, ethnic or religious zingers, epithets and provocations remain A-okay with Fritz and his boys. The Kailee Wong Alliance has proposed that calling a Chinese player a gook or a Vietnamese player a chink, instead of the other way around, be grounds for automatic ejection, but adoption of the proposal is considered unlikely.

See you in Hell . . .


He Moves in Mysterious Ways

27 Jan 2014 /
Lighted match

Photo Credit: charles chan *

There’s a story on the TV news about a fire that burned down a local preschool, owned by the same family for 44 years. Fire investigators suspect arson.

The owner is being interviewed. “The Lord will get us through,” she says.

“I’m surprised the Lord let someone burn the place down to begin with,” I say to my wife.

“You can’t look at it that way.”

“I can’t?”

“It’s just something that happened and the Lord will get them through it.”

“I don’t see how the Lord can be given credit for anything that happens as long as it’s good, but when something bad happens, well, it’s just a random incident that he couldn’t do anything about. Where’s the accountability? Is the Lord making things happen in your life or isn’t he? Well, the preschool burned down, that was regrettable. The Lord must have looked away for a moment. But now he is going to take charge and set things right. Make sure we get the insurance money. How does this make any sense?”


Thoughts on a Turbulent Flight

30 Dec 2013 /

I can’t sleep on planes. I’m afraid the damn thing will crash and I’ll miss it.

 

I don’t believe in anything. I wish I did. It seems comforting to imagine holding the plane aloft with prayer.

 

I’m not a good person. Why shouldn’t something terrible happen to me?


Japan, Day 1: Osaka Castle, Todai-ji Temple, Kiyomizu Temple

22 Dec 2013 /

Osaka Castle

The main tower of Osaka Castle is situated on a plot of land roughly one square kilometer. It is built on two raised platforms of landfill supported by sheer walls of cut rock, using a technique called Burdock piling, each overlooking a moat. The central castle building is five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside, and built atop a tall stone foundation to protect its occupants from attackers.

The Castle grounds, which cover approximately 60,000 square meters (15 acres) contain thirteen structures which have been designated as Important Cultural Assets by the Japanese government.

In 1583 Toyotomi Hideyoshi commenced construction on the site of the Ikko-ikki temple of Ishiyama Hongan-ji. The basic plan was modeled after Azuchi Castle, the headquarters of Oda Nobunaga. Toyotomi wanted to build a castle that mirrored Oda’s, but surpassed it in every way: the plan featured a five-story main tower, with three extra stories underground, and gold leaf on the sides of the tower to impress visitors.

Osaka Castle: Otemon and Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Otemon and Main Tower

My son asks me, “Couldn’t invaders cross the moat on this bridge, just like we’re doing?”

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate that the bridge was added in modern times, not as part of the original construction.”

Osaka Castle: Moat

Osaka Castle: Moat

We entered the castle through the Otemon Gate:

Osaka Castle: Otemon (Western) Gate

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

There was a gentleman at the castle with a large supply of something or other that birds like to eat, so the birds followed him around:

Osaka Castle: The Birdman

Osaka Castle: The Birdman

He didn’t speak English but he kindly shared some of his bird food with us:

Osaka Castle: Feeding the birds

Osaka Castle: Feeding the birds

Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji (Todai-ji, Eastern Great Temple), is a Buddhist temple complex located in the city of Nara, Japan. Its Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden), houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese simply as Daibutsu. The temple also serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism. The temple is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site as “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara“, together with seven other sites including temples, shrines and places in the city of Nara. Sika deer, regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion, roam the grounds freely.

We entered Todai-ji Temple through Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate. In the photo below, the stand on the left sells biscuits you can buy and feed to the deer. More on that later . . .

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji Temple: Chumon Gate

Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji Temple: Chumon Gate

Great Buddha Hall

According to records kept by Todai-ji, more than 2,600,000 people in total helped construct the Great Buddha and its Hall. The 16 m (52 ft) high statue was built through eight castings over three years, the head and neck being cast together as a separate element. The making of the statue was started first in Shigaraki. After enduring multiple fires and earthquakes, the construction was eventually resumed in Nara in 745,[8] and the Buddha was finally completed in 751. A year later, in 752, the eye-opening ceremony was held with an attendance of 10,000 people to celebrate the completion of the Buddha. The Indian priest Bodhisena performed the eye-opening for Emperor Shomu. The project nearly bankrupted Japan’s economy, consuming most of the available bronze of the time.

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsiu)

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

Todai-ji Temple: Buddha

Todai-ji Temple: Buddha

Nara Deer Park

According to the legendary history of Kasuga Shrine, a mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital of Heijo-kyo. Since then the deer have been regarded as heavenly animals, protecting the city and the country.

Tame Sika Deer roam through the town, especially in Nara Park. Snack vendors sell “shika sembei” (deer biscuits) to visitors so they can feed the deer.

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: Deer are not naturally aggressive

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: Deer are not naturally aggressive

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: Deer are not naturally aggressive

“Deer are not naturally aggressive if you’re not aggressive with them,” our tour guide says.

In other news, grass is green and water flows downhill. What would an aggressive deer do anyway? What sort of aggressive deer behavior should we be on the lookout for?

OK, I’ll tell you: You can buy shika sembei (deer biscuits) to feed the deer. Deer really like the deer biscuits. If you have biscuits, the deer will surround you and nibble on you. While you’re feeding the ones in front of you, the deer who couldn’t find room in front will nibble you from behind so they don’t get left out.

In fact, if the deer are not sure if you have biscuits or not, they may nibble on you anyway, usually in the area of your pockets, which would be an ideal place to conceal deer biscuits.

A good thing to know is that the deer do recognize and respect an open-handed, “See I don’t have any deer biscuits” gesture and will acknowledge it by not nibbling you.

These deer, sika deer, are regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion. If that is true, the message the gods are sending us is “More biscuits, please.”

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: “More biscuits, please.”

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park

Kiyomizu Temple

Kiyomizu-dera, officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto.

Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period. The temple was founded in 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.

Wikipedia
Kiyomizu Temple: Main Veranda

Kiyomizu Temple: Main Veranda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon Gate and Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon Gate and Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon  Gate and Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon Gate and Pagoda

The temple complex contains several shrines, including the Jishu-jinja Shrine, known as the dwelling place of the god of love and matchmaking. Praying there is said to help one succeed in finding an appropriate love match.

Kiyomizu Temple: Jishu-Jinja Shrine

Kiyomizu Temple: Jishu-Jinja Shrine

The temple is popular with young people looking for good fortune in love.

Kiyomizu Temple: Kimono Girls

Kiyomizu Temple: Kimono Girls

Japanese Lanterns

Japanese Lanterns

Kiyomizu Temple: Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Pagoda


We’re Supporting Tolerance and Inclusion by Telling People to Shut the Hell Up

19 Dec 2013 /

“Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson has been put on an indefinite hiatus from filming the smash hit A&E reality series following inflammatory remarks about gay people he made in an interview with GQ magazine. . . .

In the interview, which appears in the January issue of GQ, Robertson, founder of the Duck Commander family business of duck calls, referred to gay people as “homosexual offenders” who would not “inherit the Kingdom of God.” He also said a woman’s vagina was “more desirable” than a man’s anus.

Phil Robertson

LET’S ENCOURAGE TOLERANCE AND DIVERSITY BY MAKING THIS GUY SHUT THE HELL UP!

Here’s Robertson’s full quote on “homosexual offenders”:

“Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. … Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

That’s a pretty accurate paraphrase of I Corinthians 6:9-10, which says

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the Kingdom of God.

A lot of people believe that’s the word of God. I don’t, but a lot of people do. In any case, it’s hardly extreme or “inflammatory.” It’s a bible verse. Why is it inflammatory to quote a bible verse as the word of God, but it’s totally cool to characterize Christian scripture as “vile”?

Also: you can’t be on TV if you find a woman’s vagina more desirable than a man’s anus?! A vagina is more desirable than an anus. That’s what keeps us going as a species.

A woman’s anus is more desirable than a man’s anus, but it’s not as desirable as a vagina. A man’s anus is a distant third in the desirability sweepstakes, and it’s even lower if you include mouths, sofa cushions, food products, etc.

This guy Robertson is on a “reality” show. That’s funny. There’s reality and then there’s “reality.”

He talks to a magazine and it turns out that in reality, he’s not as nuanced in his thinking as the people at GLAAD — whose job, by the way, is to be perpetually offended — would like him to be, and because of that, he can’t be on TV anymore.

I guess there’s such a thing as too much reality.


Waving Bibles at Scientists

1 Dec 2013 /
James Freshwater

James Freshwater

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a public school district was legally justified in firing science instructor James Freshwater, who waved a Bible at his students, distributed religious pamphlets and talked about creationism in evolution lessons.

Personally, I’d fire him just based on the look of smug, benevolent certainty on his face. He doesn’t look like a man who struggles with doubt, which is the essence of science.


How Effective is Prayer as a Tornado Survival Tactic?

22 May 2013 /

Oklahoma tornado

Take that, liberal heathen! She’s not “supposed” to pray in a school but she did it anyway! And that’s why she’s alive today!

It would be useful to know for the purpose of assessing the value of prayer as a tornado survival tactic, how many of the 24 people who didn’t survive the Oklahoma tornado were praying at the moment of their death.

Of the 10 children who were killed, were any of them praying? Maybe God said to himself, “Okay, change of plans. I was going to hit Rhonda Crosswhite with this tornado, but since she’s praying out loud in a school, I’ll redirect it into those 10 kids.”


In the desert, an old monk once advised a traveler, the voices of God and the Devil are scarcely distinguishable.


Word of the Day

14 May 2013 /

so·te·ri·ol·o·gy \suh-teer-ee-ol-uh-jee\, noun:

  1. spiritual salvation, esp. by divine agency.
  2. the branch of theology dealing with this.

See You in Hell

7 Apr 2013 /

Satan

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan -- PE]

Pastor Rick Warren’s son, Matthew, commits suicide, church says

I hope this won’t affect sales of The Purpose Driven Life.

The church is calling for prayers. They prayed for the kid — well, young man (he was 27) — when he was alive, he kills himself and now they’re calling for more prayers?! Wasn’t it Einstein who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results?

This is great PR for me, of course. My cell is blowing up . . . so many people trying to get in touch with me this weekend.

Dear Satan — Please look after my children. I don’t want them to end up like Rick Warren’s kid.

There are many troubled people on Earth looking for answers. And there are some people claiming to have the answers and offering to sell them to you.

One of my favorite Peanuts cartoons goes something like this:

LUCY (kneeling and looking at the ground): Look at those stupid bugs … They don’t have the slightest idea as to what is going on in this world.

CHARLIE BROWN: What is going on in this world?

LUCY: I don’t have the slightest idea.

I don’t have the slightest idea either and I’m Satan, for crying out loud. (I miss Charlie Schulz, by the way. He’s in heaven now.)

If you want a key takeaway from the Matthew Warren/Rick Warren story, here it is: Nobody has a clue.

Nobody has a clue.

See you in Hell . . .


Modern Baptists

23 Nov 2012 /

Mr. Pickens knew that once he got his preaching diploma, he would open a church for modern Baptists, Baptists who were sick to death of hell and sin being stuffed down their gullets every Sunday. There wasn’t going to be any of that old-fashioned ranting and raving in Mr. Pickens’s church. His Baptist church would be guided by reason and logic. Everyone could drink in moderation. Everyone could dance and pet as long as they were fifteen—well, maybe sixteen or seventeen. At thirty, if you still weren’t married, you could sleep with someone, and it wouldn’t be a sin—that is, as long as you loved that person. If you hit forty and were still single, you’d be eligible for adultery not being a sin, as long as no children’s feelings got hurt and it was kept very discreet. But you still had to love and respect the person; you couldn’t just do it for sex.


The Grand Inquisitor Addresses Jesus

11 Nov 2012 /
Jesus and the Grand Inquisitor

And now, do You see those stones in this parched and barren desert? Turn them into loaves of bread and men will follow You like cattle, grateful and docile, although constantly fearful lest You withdraw Your hand and they lose Your loaves. . . . You thought, what sort of freedom would they have if their obedience was bought with bread? You replied that man does not live by bread alone. . . .

So, in the end, they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, “Enslave us but feed us!” And they will finally understand that freedom and the assurance of daily bread for everyone are two incompatible notions that could never co-exist! . . .

They will marvel at us and worship us like gods, because, by becoming their masters, we have accepted the burden of freedom that they were too frightened to face, just because we have agreed to rule over them — that is how terrifying freedom will have become to them finally! . . .

I tell You once more that man has no more pressing, agonizing need than the need to find someone to whom he can hand over as quickly as possible the gift of freedom with which the poor wretch comes into the world. . . .

We have corrected Your work and have now founded it on miracle, mystery and authority. And men rejoice at being led like cattle again, with the terrible gift of freedom that brought them so much suffering removed from them. . . .

They will tell us the secrets that most torment their consciences, they will tell us everything, and we shall solve all their problems, and they will trust to our solutions completely, because they will be rid of the terrible worry and the frightening torment they know today when they have to decide for themselves how to act.

— Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

If God Exists

11 Nov 2012 /

If God exists, then no doubt I’ve sinned and I’ll answer for it; but if there is no God, then I didn’t offend them nearly enough, those holy fathers of yours.

— Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

A Grain of Faith

10 Nov 2012 /
Dostoevsky in 1863.

Dostoevsky in 1863. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It says in the Scriptures that if you have as much as a grain of faith and if you ask a mountain to move into the sea. it will do so at once and without delay, the second you ask it. So, Mr. Gregory, since you’re a believer and I’m an unbeliever — for which you keep reproaching me — why don’t you try asking the mountain to slide not even all the way into the sea (because there’s no sea anywhere near here) but just down into our stinking little river, the one that runs behind our garden. If you do, you’ll see for yourself that nothing will move, that everything will remain where it is, even though you shout all you want, and that should prove that you too, Mr. Gregory, do not have the true faith, which you like to reproach others for lacking.”

— Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Pleonasm of the Day: Offended Muslims

13 Sep 2012 /
Thomas Jefferson

ple·o·nasm, noun

  1. the use of more words than are necessary to express an idea; redundancy.
  2. an instance of this, as free gift or true fact.

My fellow Americans –

U.S. embassies in Egypt, Libya and Yemen have been attacked by Muslims offended by a YouTube video.

“Offended Muslims” — there’s a pleonasm for you!

The embassy in Egypt, hoping to pacify the attackers, issued a statement opposing “continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

DISAGREE! We should be APPLAUDING efforts to offend religious believers. We should be STEPPING UP efforts to offend religious believers.

My friends and I risked everything — including our lives, that’s how important it was to us — to ensure that Americans could speak their minds without interference from government.

Religion is all horseshit anyway. There’s no God. There’s no Allah. It’s all a bunch of made-up bullshit. Fairy tales!

As John Lennon — an Englishman, but otherwise a good bloke — used to say: Imagine no religion . . .


As a Man Sows

16 Aug 2012 /

Our body in Kali Yuga is a field of action: As a man sows, so is his reward. Nothing by empty talk is determined: Anyone swallowing poison must die. Brother! Behold the Creator’s justice: As are a man’s actions, so is his recompense.


Theological Question

16 Jul 2012 /

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up . . .

— James 5:15

So why did the Lord make the sick person sick in the first place?


In America, Anyone Can Be President … Uh, Not So Fast There, Mr. Antichrist

22 Jun 2012 /

While more than nine in 10 Americans would vote for a presidential candidate who is black, a woman, Catholic, Hispanic, or Jewish, significantly smaller percentages would vote for one who is an atheist (54%) or Muslim (58%). Americans’ willingness to vote for a Mormon (80%) or gay or lesbian (68%) candidate falls between these two extremes.

I fear that I won’t live to see a gay atheist in the Oval Office.

In other findings, far more Americans are open to voting for a black presidential candidate (96%) than for a Mormon (80%). Blacks also poll higher than women (95%), Catholics (94%) and Jews (91%), although those percentages are within the margin of sampling error.


The State of Evidence on the God Question

6 Nov 2011 /

By the way I’m an atheist. I don’t claim to have a proof that God cannot exist. It’s just that I consider the state of the evidence on the God question to be similar to that on the werewolf question.


Next Page »