Category Archives: Belief

Unicorns and Dinosaurs and Bears! Oh My!

Coming soon? Shit, they're already here!
Coming soon? Shit, they’re already here!

You may not know this, but Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter opened last week. You probably didn’t know because there wasn’t much fanfare outside of evangelical/fundamentalist circles. Well, that is unless you count the people pissed off about the fact that a privately owned, overtly religious theme park got an $18 million dollar tax break even though Kentucky is one of the poorest and hungriest states in the nation. Isn’t that nice?

Now, I’m not going to go on a tear about how this tax break violates the 1st Amendment, even though it does. And, I’m not going to talk about how much the whole thing cost ($100 million) and how Answers in Genesis could have better spent that money. Instead, I’ll just talk about the Ark and let you work the rest out for yourself.

The Ark Encounter, and its sister attraction the Creation museum, are both the brain children of Answers in Genesis. AiG is a Young Earth group headed up by the aforementioned, Ken Ham, aka America’s leading creationist . You probably remember him from his debate with Bill Nye (everyone’s favorite Science Guy) about the origins of the universe a couple of years ago.

Those of us who believe the earth is older than Ham and his associates claim thought that Nye won the debate. But, that may not be so. Ham contends that the debate helped stimulate fund-raising for the Ark Park. Man, talk about getting bit in the ass.

So, what hath Ken Ham wrought in the hinterlands of Kentucky? According to the park’s website, it is “a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, this modern engineering marvel amazes visitors young and old.”

Modern engineering marvel? Dude, there are a lot of things in this world more marvelous than your “ark”. Unless you built it with Stone Age (or possibly very early Bronze Age) tools, that is. Otherwise, it’s just a big-ass building.

I don’t know if you picked up on it or not, but the fine folks at AiG have built a boat that won’t float. As my friend (not to mention, faithful reader) Suzanne asked, “How is a boat that won’t float supposed to inspire awe and reverence?” How indeed.

Here’s the thing: it’s never been about inspiring awe and reverence. It’s about soaking the rubes. You see, admission to the Ark is $40 and from what I’ve seen, everywhere you turn, there’s something else to separate people from their hard-earned cash. 

 But, before I get all cynical, let’s talk about what’s on Kenny’s ark.  For the record, the following observations are drawn from a video posted on the Friendly Atheist site. There appear to be animatronic displays of Noah and his family engaged in various activities, cages of small “animals” (nothing in them except an audio player to generate animal sounds), models of larger ones and “educational” displays about how Noah might have pulled off this amazing feat.
Among those larger animals are…, wait for it: unicorns and dinosaurs. That’s right, my friends, Ham’s Ark contains both mythical animals and creatures who died out millions of years before humans existed in any form; not just our current modern iteration, but any  form.  Holy shit.
I really don’t know what to say about that. It takes some pretty impressive mental gymnastics to believe that either type of animal was on the ark Or, in the case of unicorns, even fucking existed.
Of course, we are talking about people who reject the massive weight of scientific evidence that the world is over 4 billion years old in favor of an idea from some preacher who “calculated” the age of the Earth from Old Testament stories.  When that’s your frame of reference, I guess unicorns aren’t that big a deal.
Remember what I said about “separating people from their hard-earned cash”? Well, according to the correspondent from TFA, the entire first floor is basically one big store. AiG’s money-grubbing and avarice are on full display with the Ark Encounter and I think they have a lot of nerve calling themselves “Christians”.
Unfortunately, as long as Americans are gullible enough to believe this bullshit and line up to fill Ham’s coffers, they’ll keep pimping their fucked up view of the Gospel. In case it’s not obvious, I’m not very happy about that.

 

 

What I’ve Learned In 55 Years

Actually, my birthday is tomorrow. But, I didn't like any of those memes, so...
Actually, my birthday is tomorrow. But, I didn’t like any of those memes, so…

In the days surrounding my birthday, I usually write something about questions I might have or make smart-ass comments about aging. This year, I decided to something a little different. In honor of turning 55, I want to share some of my accumulated wisdom with you folks. Don’t worry, it won’t take long.

In my 55 years on this Earth, I have learned that:

  • While you have to age, you don’t have to get old. “Age” is the chronological record of how long you’ve been alive. “Old” is a way of thinking; a mindset, if you will. You can be that old fart standing on his porch, yelling, “Get off my lawn!” or you can be that really cool lady who’s been places and seen things and loves sharing those experiences with other, younger folks who haven’t. It’s your choice.
  • All too many people my age haven’t actually taken the time to get to know any Millenials. If they did, they wouldn’t post so much ignorant shit about them. I’ve raised two children from that generation and count among my friends many others. And, I can say with all sincerity, they are an amazing group of people; they just don’t approach things the way we do. Considering our track record, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
  • There is a definite limit on my tolerance for political bullshit. And, it was reached sometime around December of last year. Trump is a nightmare come to life, Hillary is terrible campaigner (not to mention a mediocre candidate) and Bernie is not going to pull off an upset in Philadelphia. I’m afraid this going to be a long, long summer.
  • Being a grandfather is the shit It’s all the fun and none of the responsibility! In fact, if I’d known how great it was, I’d have skipped being a dad and gone straight to granddad. Yes, I know it doesn’t work that way. But, it should, damn it. It should.
  • The utter douchery of maledom can still surprise me. After all these years on the planet, you might think I’d be prepared for decision like the one handed down in the Stanford rape case. If you did, you’d be oh so wrong.
  • Joe Biden is a damn good man. In fact, he may be the best man who has ever held elected office in this country. Why do I say that? Read his letter to the Stanford rape victim and see.
  • Embracing something you’ve run from is incredibly freeing. For most of my life, I lived in denial of my inherent (and innate) nerdiness. A few years ago, I finally accepted the truth and took up the mantle of “nerd” with gusto. I’m haven’t looked back and I don’t intend to. Ever.
  • Progressives can be just as shitty and close-minded as conservatives. If you’re wondering what I mean by that, look at  the rhetoric of some Bernie Sanders supporters. Basically, they say “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” That sounds an awful lot like something Bush43 said about his “War on Terror”, which is something that should give you a significant reason for pause.
  • Some people will say anything for a bit of attention. Like Kevin Swanson, who tells his followers that the Girl Scouts are trying to turn their daughters into lesbians. Or, James Dobson, who recently claimed trans-inclusive bathroom laws are te same as prostituting little girls. Or, pretty much anything  comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.
  • “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still evil” sounds nice, but it’s fucking ridiculous. Life is a daily exercise in “choosing the lesser two evils”. Unless you’re 10 years old, it’s something you should be used to it by now. And, when the greater evil is a walking, talking tire fire who could wreak untold havoc not only on our country, but the world, it’s time to quit whining, put on your big person pants and do whatever is necessary keep him out of a position to wreak that havoc.
  • What you believe doesn’t mean shit if it doesn’t influence what you do. In other words, don’t say you believe Jesus is Lord and then shit all over the people he came to save. And, by “people he came to save”, I mean “anyone on the margins of society”. In America, that translates to anyone who’s not straight, white and Christian.

Looking back over this list, I can see that it includes something to offend almost everyone. That brings up something else I’ve learned over the years: As you age,  you care less and less that some people get their panties in a wad over the truth. But, I don’t want to be a dick, so if something here pisses you off, sorry about that. Whether I’m sorry that you decided to get pissed off or I’m sorry that I pissed you off is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

The Bible Is Literally True?

Bible literalismOne of my most fertile fields for developing blog posts is in the car. Driving requires just enough concentration to quell the manic mental activity brought on by my ADHD and allows me to spend enough time on one subject to put together a coherent thought. Recently, while tooling around town, I thought about all the truly weird shit that’s in the Bible. Then, I thought, “Why would any thinking person believe these insane things actually happened?” (See “Biblical literalism”) My next thought was that maybe these “thinking people” hadn’t actually done a lot of…, well, thinking on this subject. So, I decided to toss out a few nuggets for them to mull over.

  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe a donkey actually talked to Balaam. That’s right, a talking donkey. Like in Shrek, although not as funny.  And, what did Balaam do when his donkey spoke to him? Why, he had a conversation with it. Like it was the most normal thing in the world. Which, I suppose, could be true if you’re drugs are good enough.
  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe God sent bears to maul 42 kids for making fun of ElishaYes, you read that right: the God that Christians continually refer to as a “loving father” sent a couple of bears to maul some kids after Elisha “cursed them in the Lord’s name” for calling him “Baldy”. Well, that’s a little embarassing.
  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe we should stone smart-alecky kidsThat’s right, beloved, the “Good Book” says that if your child is consistently stubborn and rebellious, they should be stoned. And, not in the good way, either. To be fair, though, after raising a couple of teenagers, I can see where this one was coming from.
  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe Moses actually saw God’s assYep, Moses got a look at God’s butt. Oh sure, it says “back parts”. But, where I come from, that’s “ass” all day long.
  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe that sheep looking at striped sticks while mating will give birth to striped, speckled, and spotted  babies. . Who knew you could genetically engineer livestock with a few sticks? I’ll bet all those egghead scientists feel pretty stupid when they read this one.
  • When you say you believe the Bible is literally true, you’re saying you believe that God gave the Philistines hemorrhoids for taking the Ark of the Covenant. That’s right, bitches, fuck with God (or even God’s people) and you get hemorrhoids. Been there, done that and, frankly, I’d rather be mauled by bears.

So, do I think this will sway any biblical literalists from their belief that not only can we take the Bible literally, we must take it literally? Sadly, no, I do not. But, it was fun to write and, I hope, fun for you to read. And, who knows, maybe there’s a lone fundamentalist out there, on the verge of breaking through to a new way of looking at the Bible. If so, this will probably drive them right back into the fold. Oh well.

Purity Culture

God’s Will or Oddly Repulsive?

One of the weirder and, let’s face it, creepier aspects of conservative Christianity is its obsession with sex. And, nowhere is that more apparent than something known as “purity culture”. Now, some of you may be wondering “What the hell is ‘purity culture’?” Well, according to No Shame Movement, it is “simply the view of any discussion of things of a sexual nature outside of the context of heterosexual marriage as taboo.” Technically, that is correct; but, friends, that clinical definition doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the skin-crawling aberration that is purity culture.

Now, you may be wondering why I’m writing about this movement, thinking it’s strictly a fundamentalist/evangelical thing and doesn’t really affect the rest of us. If you think this, let me assure that you are wrong. In fact, you are so wrong that your wrongness surpasses any conceivable descriptor for being wrong. Your wrongness is so wrong that it makes Ben Carson’s all-too-frequent use of slavery and/or the Nazis as metaphors actually look right. Okay, that last one may be a little over the top, but still. Look, my point is that purity culture affects us all. How so, you ask? Like this:

That is a mother at a recent Omaha Public Schools parent meeting about proposed changes to the system’s sex education curriculum, including lessons on sexual orientation, sexual identity, contraception, and sexual trafficking. These alterations prompted the outburst from woman (now known across the internet as “puritymom”) in the video. In case you can’t make it out, what she’s saying is, “It’s my daughter! My daughter! Who’s going to keep her pure? Nobody! I am! Not OPS! Not OPS!” So, purity equals ignorance? I did not know that.

But, friends, parents raising hell because their ignorance is being challenged is just the tip of the disgusting iceberg. Take purity balls, for example. If you’re unfamiliar with this phenomenon, the purity ball is a religious ceremony/ formal dance event where dads and daughters dress up in evening attire for a night of dining and dancing, culminating with the daughters pledging to the fathers to abstain from sex until marriage. Photographer David Magnusson put together a book documenting this creepfest. Here’s a sample of his work:

From the book Purity by David Magnusson published by Bokförlaget Max Ström 2014. Copyright © David Magnusson 2011. Rules for use in copyright notice.
From the book Purity by David Magnusson published by Bokförlaget Max Ström 2014. Copyright © David Magnusson 2011. Rules for use in copyright notice.

I got this from an article on Huffington Post, but click that link with the understanding that you may feel the need to shower afterwards; it’s that bad. From what I can see, Magnusson’s book looks like a collection of prom photos from the Warren Jeffs School of Parenting. In a word, “Ewww”.

If that’s not enough for you, I ran across another story about this abnormality that raises the “ick” factor even more. In Christian Today (a UK-based media company not to be confused with Christianity Today), Carey Lodge reports that “Twenty-something Brelyn Freeman, now Bowman, presented her pastor father with a certificate confirming her virginity.” But wait. it gets better (and by “better”, I mean “oh, so much worse”): the certificate was signed by a doctor who, it seems, had actually examined Ms. Bowman to verify that her hymen was intact. Okay, then. When my daughter got married last year, if she had presented me with a document attesting to her virginity, I can honestly say it would’ve creeped me the fuck out. But, this dude? He posted a picture on Instagram of himself and his daughter holding the certificate, grinning like a possum eating briars. What the hell is wrong with these people?!?

I wish I knew the answer to that question. Maybe then I could begin to wrap my head around why seemingly intelligent adults think that keeping kids in the dark about sex will somehow magically prevent them from getting pregnant (because everyone knows teenagers don’t have an innate desire to knock boots every chance they get), that signing a pledge has a prayer of stemming up to the flood of hormones that comes with puberty and that a woman’s worth is irretrievably tied to her virginity. This whole thing is just fucked up.

 

Modern-day Pharisees

IslamicChristians_thumb[110]It’s a well-known fact that conservative Christians are the modern-day equivalent of those legalistic, New Testament buzzkills known as the Pharisees. From their obsession with sex to their penchant for out-of-context quotation of the Bible, conservatives are doing their level best to live out H. L. Mencken’s definition of puritanism: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” (because progressive obsessions [political correctness, gun control, non-violence, etc] are so much fun).

Take that Kim Davis woman, for instance. Where does she get off claiming “God’s authority” in denying others their legal right to marry when she’s been married 4 times herself. Someone needs to tell this woman that Jesus didn’t say anything about being gay, but he had plenty to say about infidelity and divorce (He also had a lot to say about not judging others and loving our neighbor, but let’s not muddy up the waters with such inconvenient passages). And, now she has a  book deal? Seriously? (Actually, she doesn’t. But, again, why wast time considering things that contradict what we want to believe?) And, what’s up with that hair? If she wasn’t so shitty to gay people, maybe she could find someone to take care of that for her. (Yes, because “the gays” are all about doing some hair.)

I just don’t get all this bigotry against people who are LGBTQQIP2SAA (explanatory link included for all the troglodytes who can’t keep up with this ever-changing acronym. And, I include myself in that category). Why, oh why can’t they be as Christ-like as we progressives are and join us in this march toward justice for all? I realize this shakes the foundations of everything they’ve been taught, but if they’d join us in the 21st century (and by “join us in the 21st century”, I mean “acknowledge that we’re right and they’re awful people”), things would be so much easier better.

As much as I don’t get their anti-gay stance, the political beliefs of conservative Christians baffle me even more. I mean, these people support Donald Trump, for God’s sake! Think about that for a minute; followers of Jesus, a man who preached radical inclusion and eschewed wealth and all its trappings, are losing their minds over a narcissistic money-hoarding billionaire with a xenophobic streak a mile wide (yes, progressive politicians, like Hillary “I love Wall Street” Clinton are pure as the driven snow). Honestly, though, my biggest issue is their mixing of faith and politics (something progressives would never do themselves). Okay, so maybe we do allow our faith to influence our political beliefs, but our intentions are good (and we know what road those have paved).

Isn’t it great to be a progressive Christian? I mean, what other belief allows you to fill social media with posts pointing out (to God and everyone else) all the ways you’re not like those bigoted, narrow-minded conservatives? 

Christian Persecution?

religious_persecutionEver since the issue of marriage equality popped up on the national radar, conservative Christians have been worried about being “persecuted for their beliefs” (and by “persecuted for their beliefs”, I mean “not allowed to shit on gay people anymore”). We’ve heard about bakers getting in trouble for refusing to make cakes for “gay” weddings, fears that pastors will be prosecuted for preaching against same-sex marriage, clerks of court being ordered to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, etc. That last example brings us to Casey Davis, clerk of Casey County, Kentucky.

Like his associate, Kim Davis of Rowan County, Casey has refused to issue marriage certificates to couples who are LGBT. However, unlike Ms. Davis, Casey has not just refused to issue marriage licenses, he’s taking his protest of the Supreme Court’s decision to a new level: martyrdom. That’s right, beloved; Casey Davis says he is willing to stand by his belief that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman even if it kills him. In his words: “Our law says ‘one man and one woman,’ and that is what I held my hand up and took an oath to and that is what I expected. If it takes my life, I will die … because I believe I owe that to the people that fought so I can have the freedom that I have, I owe that to them today, and you do, we all do.” He also said that there is a “war on Christianity” and that the Court’s action was “completely unconstitutional.” Well, okay then.

There are a couple of things wrong with Davis’ statement. First, the law that said “one man and one woman” was overturned by the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. That means it isn’t the “law” anymore and, as a government official, he has to respect that. If he can’t, then he should resign, as Governor Beshear told him. Second, it’s awful easy to say you’re willing to be martyred over a belief that no one actually wants to kill you for holding. Lastly, I may be wrong about this, but as the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of what is or isn’t constitutional in this country, a decision from them can’t be unconstitutional.

But, let’s be clear: not being allowed to discriminate against others is not persecution. I can’t believe we have to keep talking about this, but since we do, can we talk about why some Christians need a freakin’ law to get to them behave the way the man they claim to follow asked?

When Jesus encountered someone who had been marginalized by the dominant culture, what did he do? Did he tell them they had straighten up and conform (i.e repent of their sin) before he’d have anything to do with them or did he welcome them with open arms and love them unconditionally? It’s the second option, in case you’re wondering; the first was the Pharisees’ gig. Now, just in case I’ve put too fine a point on things, let me say this: Going out of your way to deny historically marginalized people their God-given, lawfully accorded rights because you think your Christian faith requires that means you have no fucking idea of what it means to be a Christian.

 

NC’s Own Westboro Baptist Church?

Yesterday, after a great worship service and breakfast with my friends, I walked out of church to this:20150823_104834

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, beloved, these people are protesting my church. Why? I’m not really sure; I wanted to ask, but they wouldn’t stop preaching at me long enough for me to get a word in. So, I just took the picture, laughed and went on my way.

You might think that this would end there and it probably should. But I’ve never been the object of a protest before and I’ll admit, it left me a little rattled. I mean, it’s one thing to see these jokers on television, or even to drive by them while they spew their bile at whoever they happen to hate at any given moment. But, it’s a little different when it’s you they’re calling “filth” and a “stench in God’s nostrils”. I spent most of yesterday trying to process this before I remembered something Chris Hardwick said: “Comedians make jokes about horrible things because, as humans, this our defense mechanism for trying to process those horrible things and gain power over them.” Now, calling me a comedian might be stretching things a bit and I don’t have a show like Hardwick to work this stuff out.  On the other hand, I am a smart ass with a blog. So, let’s get processing!

A little earlier, I said I didn’t know why these douche canoes decided to picket our church, but that’s not exactly true. Sure, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise when I first saw them, but one look at their sign told me exactly what their problem might be: We’re a welcoming and affirming Baptist church. Really? That’s the best you’ve got? Hell, it’s no secret that we’re cool with folks who are LGBT+; it’s plastered all over our website and we held an anti-Amendment 1 rally a few years ago. Seriously, if you going to go to all the trouble protest someone, do your homework. There are so many other things we do and/or believe that would drive these guys crazy. Like the fact that we don’t use the KJV exclusively, teach from books other than Bible now and then, “encourage” doubt by allowing members to ask questions, occasionally have secular music during service and, perhaps worst of all, allow women in positions of leadership. I’m sorry, fellows, but this was just lazy activism.

I’m not sure exactly who they are or where they’re from because, when I finally got a chance to talk to them, they wouldn’t say. All they’d cop to was that they weren’t local. Whether that’s because they’ve been threatened with violence or are afraid someone might show up and protest at their church (as so many people have done to those trolls at Westboro Baptist Church), I couldn’t say. But, it seems to me that if this is the case, you might want to reconsider your message.

Interestingly, these folks staged their “protest” right beside a sign that reads, “Where loving God means loving people.” And, when I say “right beside”, I mean that literally: they were like 10 feet away from it. So, let me get this straight, you’re spewing hate in God’s name while standing next to a sign that references a passage from the Bible? Sadly, the irony of it all seemed to be lost on them. Of course, that reference wasn’t taken directly from the Authorized King James Version of 1611, so maybe they were confused.

Their sign lists Hebrews 12:8 as a reference for their claim that people who are LGBT+ are nothing but bastards. But, let’s look at that passage and see what it says:But if you don’t experience discipline, which happens to all children, then you are illegitimate and not real sons and daughters.” Hmm, nothing about gay folks in there at all. To be fair, though, when I finally got a chance to have a bit of conversation with our visitors, one of them said that they weren’t just talking about homosexuality, but “all sin”: fornicators, liars, thieves, porn watchers like he “used to be”(that’s what he said, I’m not questioning his honesty there), etc. In other words, we’re all bastards. And, while this does seem to echo Will Campbell’s “Gospel in 7 words“, he forgets the most important part: yes, we are all bastards, but God loves us anyway.

I have to say, however, that just talking to these guys was exhausting because they couldn’t say three words in row without it turning into a sermon. And, the hostility? It came off of them in waves. But, I’m proud of my church family, because they didn’t let those ugly signs and the toxic theology get to them. Our pastor invited them in for breakfast and offered them some water (for a heathenous false teacher leading us all straight to hell, he’s not a bad guy).  And, one of the ladies who prepared breakfast took some food and water out to them; they wouldn’t touch it, though. Maybe they were afraid some “gay” might’ve gotten on it, I don’t know. Of course, it probably didn’t help that when she took out to them, she tipped her head at one of them and sweetly asked the other, “Is he your partner?”

I find it interesting that these people were quoting the Bible and “calling out sin”, but seemed to be completely ignorant of Matthew 7:1-2. You  know the one that says, “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you.” Or, James 4:12, who said “There is only one lawgiver and judge, and he is able to save and to destroy. But you who judge your neighbor, who are you?” Funny how that works, huh?

I’m not sure what their endgame was, but I suspect that, on some level, they hoped that all their preaching, sign-holding and Bible-waving would cause us all to see the error of our ways and we’d fall to our knees and ask God’s forgiveness. Or, failing that, maybe some college student would hear their “message” and turn from the life of depravity that they had been living. Yes, because nothing brings a person to God quicker than the knowledge that God “hates” them and wants them to burn in Hell for living the life God created them to live in the first place. That is such a compelling argument.

Okay, this thing is getting a little out of hand, so I’ll close with something my son, Parker, had to say about the whole thing: “If you have protesters outside your church, completely unprovoked, you must be doing something right.” That’s the way I’m looking at it, anyway.

Donald Trump, God’s Prophet?

Donald Trump - Caricature

I know I’ve said this before, but being a smart-ass blogger who focuses on religion and the stupid things people say can be a very boom and bust proposition. For the last week or so, I’ve been casting about, looking for a suitable target at which to direct my snark and saying it’s been tough is an understatement. Pat Robertson’s been uncharacteristically quiet, Franklin Graham sounds like god-damn broken record and people just haven’t been saying crazy shit lately (on the religious front, anyway). All that changed yesterday morning when I stumbled across Charisma Magazine’s latest gem: “Prophecy: Donald Trump Shall Become the Trumpet.”

That’s right, beloved, the Almighty has tapped the Donald to be prophet and fulfill the “promises and plans” that God has for creation. Now, you might be wondering how an egotistical blowhard like Trump could ever be considered a prophet (I know I am). But, as author Jeremiah Johnson points out, God has often “chosen to accomplish His will through men and women who have ignored and rebelled against Him” and cites the story of Cyrus (the Persian king who returned the Jews to Israel) as proof. All righty, then.

So, how did Johnson come by this great revelation? God told it to him, that’s how. As he explains in the article, “I was in a time of prayer several weeks ago when God began to speak to me concerning the destiny of Donald Trump in America. The Holy Spirit spoke to me…” (I’m not including the rest of it her for reasons of brevity, but you really should click the link and read. It’s fucking hilarious). I don’t know about the rest of you, but whenever I hear someone claim that God has spoken to them, a couple of thoughts run through my mind: a) they’re full of shit or b) they’ve been sampling some of those mushrooms that helped John write Revelation. After reading this article, I’m leaning toward the latter in Johnson’s case.

Johnson stops short of advocating a Trump Presidency, though. Which is probably a good thing; I don’t know anyone who loves I love weird shit more than I do (as long as it remains in the abstract), but that would be a bridge to far even for me. Can you imagine this country led by the Donald? About the only things could get scarier would be if he made Franklin Graham top advisor. Fortunately, Jeremiah is only claiming prophet status for the Trumpster. Or, in this case, the Trumpet (Johnson actually wrote “Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people…”. I told you it was hilarious).

So, Trump as a prophet, huh? Let’s unpack that a little bit. If you look up “prophecy” in the dictionary, you’ll see that it’s defined as “a statement that something will happen in the future”, which is the way most of us understand it. According to Strong’s Concordance, however, “prophecy” means “the gift of communicating and enforcing revealed truth.” And, that’s the context we’re looking at here. But, considering that Trump has at best a nodding acquaintance with the truth, I’m wondering what the hell he could be communicating.

Look, if Trump is God’s prophet, what kind of fucked up message is he carrying? At the end of this “revelation”, Johnson claims that Holy Spirit told him, “Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger.” Right, Trump wants to help “the foreigner and the stranger”. That’s why he called people immigrating from Mexico “rapists” and implied they were drug mules. Because stirring folks up against an already marginalized group of people is so helpful.

Of course, it could be God that is just fucking with us; you know, having a little fun at our expense. Whether that entails Johnson being right about this and Trump really is a prophetic voice (which I highly doubt) or if the Holy Spirit was just yanking Jeremiah with all that insane shit, I couldn’t say. Either way, it would be a pretty sick joke.

According to Terry Pratchett, “Revelation was a mushroom dream that belonged in the Apocrypha“, but the idea of Trump as a prophet isn’t a dream, it’s a fucking nightmare. Whatever substance Johnson may have ingested to come up with it.

Here We Go Again

I'm just going to leave this right here...
I’m just going to leave this right here…

The Supreme Court will be deciding the fate of same-sex marriage this session and  the protesters are out in force. From both sides, of course, but I thought I’d take a look at some of the arguments of the folks on the anti- side by checking out their signs. I would say they’re full of shit, but that wouldn’t be nice (maybe even mocking and sarcastic) and I’m trying not to be ugly these days. So, let’s just say I find their logic (not to mention their compassion)…, lacking. Check these out:

  • “Protect marriage and protect innocent children”   By not allowing gay folks to get married? Really? Look, marriage was in the shitter long before same-sex marriage was anyone’s horizon. In other words, we straight folks have fucked it up all by our lonesome. So, why not let people who are LGBT have shot at it. They can’t do any worse than we have. Besides, don’t they deserve the right to be just as miserable as we are? And, as for protecting children, protect them from what? Being molested? Right, because only people who are gay molest children.
  • “Follow God’s Directions: ‘One Man, One Woman'”  I notice you don’t use the phrase “Biblical marriage” anymore, why is that? Maybe because you figured out the Bible doesn’t back up your definition of marriage? So, now it’s “Follow God’s directions”. Tell me, where did you find these directions? Did God send you an email spelling them out? I’m sure all your divorces are just fine, though. While we’re on that subject…
  • “God made them male and female…, and said a man shall be joined to his wife.”  Which sounds really good…, until you read the whole thing and realize that Jesus was talking about divorce and not being gay.
  • “A Child Needs a Mom And A Dad”  Even if that dad is abusive or that mom is an addict? Look, I know you mean well, but seriously you need to stop with this shit because it’s just wrong. I mean, factually, not morally. Well, yeah, it’s morally wrong, too. But, that’s not what I’m talking about right now. There are plenty of kids who are growing up just fine with one parent, two parents, parents of the opposite sex, parents of the same sex, etc. What counts is love. And, not being an asshole (which is not the same thing, but it’ll do for a start).
  • “Today, man marries man. Tomorrow, man has civil union with his dog. Followed by man marrying his dog.”  Seriously? Can you look me in the eye and say, with a straight face, that allowing two consenting adult humans is anywhere near analogous to people marrying non-humans who do not have the capacity to consent?!? Sadly, some of you probably can. I’m not sure what to think about that.
  • “Stop Judicial Tyranny!”  It appears that some folks don’t understand the principle of judicial review, so here’s a quick and dirty breakdown: it is the job of the Supreme Court to look at the laws in this country and determine whether they are in line with the Constitution. You remember the Constitution, right? That’s the piece of paper some of you carry around in your pocket and pull out when it suits your purpose. The fact that you think the Supreme Court fulfilling its assigned duty is “judicial tyranny” leads me to suspect you haven’t spent much time actually reading it, though.
  • “Homo-sex Is A Threat To National Security.”  What…the…actual…fuck? I don’t even know where to start with this one. However, when I googled it to see if I could find where it came from, I saw it on a forum supported by the Landover Baptist Church (a satirical website that parodies fundamentalism and the Religious Right). Hopefully, that means this isn’t a belief that anyone actually holds. Hopefully.

So, do I think this “reasoned argument” against the ideas and beliefs of those opposed to equal rights for people who are LGBT will make a difference? Maybe. Maybe not. Okay, probably not, but a fellow has to try.

Love Wins

God proved his love on the crosss
In case you’re wondering, this a Billy Graham quote.

Since I began to embrace a more progressive view of Christianity, there are times when I wish I was a devoutly conservative evangelical; a fundamentalist, even. The more I read and learn about the faith and the  man I’ve chosen to follow, the more questions I have. Some of those questions can be…, uncomfortable. And, it doesn’t get much more uncomfortable for me than Easter. If I were a fundamentalist. I could see what happened on this day 2000 years ago as something which satisfied God’s need for justice and allows me, a vile, disgusting sinner, to enter heaven when I die. But, I can’t. For several reasons.

First, because I gave up the idea of an afterlife several years ago, going to heaven when I die isn’t a thing for me anymore. I suppose there might be something more after we die, but I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. To be honest, I believe that if your sole reason for being a Christian is to go to heaven after you die, you cheapen the whole thing and turn it into a quid pro quo arrangement. That seems an odd way to honor (much less follow) a man who whose message was all about unconditional love.

Second, I reject the idea that people are “vile, disgusting sinners” incapable of doing good on their own. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still think people are miserable bastards the vast majority of the time. But, it’s the end of that sentence that’s key, because it says we aren’t miserable bastards all the time. In a recent post on the subject, I said that I believed that, while people generally suck, they also have the capacity for immense good; that there is a little piece of the divine floating around in each of us which occasionally makes it way to the surface, showing us just how good we can truly be. I described it as a cross between the Quaker’s inner light and the concept  of prevenient grace.

Third, I also reject the concept that God needed blood to forgive our sins. In my eyes, this belief is limits God to an incredible degree. Think about it: on one hand,God is said to be omniscient; on the other, God is supposedly bound by human ideas of justice. That doesn’t make sense: wouldn’t a truly omniscient God be able forgive humanity’s sins with a wave of the hand? Besides, saying that God required Jesus, God’s own son, to die such a horrible, humiliating death to appease God’s sense of justice paints God as sadistic monster who rules through fear. Any such God would be completely unworthy of praise or obedience.

By now, I think you can see my dilemma. By letting go of what has become orthodox belief about the Cross, I’m left adrift and looking for a new lens through which to view things. What I’ve come up with is that the Cross isn’t about blood atonement or satisfying God’s warped sense of justice, it’s about the triumph of love over hate, fear and the powers and principalities of this world. Jesus was rejected by his friends, his neighbors, his countrymen, turned over to the powers that be and executed by a method reserved for enemies of the state. It was painful and publicly humiliating, an object lesson from Rome to people who would buck the system. As he hung on the cross, Jesus’ words about those who subjected him to this ultimate indignity weren’t based on hate or thoughts of revenge, they came from a place of love: He asked God to forgive his tormentors. I think the fact that Jesus loved his enemies even as they murdered him is much more important than any perverted ideas about blood or justice.

I know some people are going to read this and say I’ve left the fold, that I’m no longer a Christian. To those people, I say that if rejecting fear and brutality and embracing love means I’m not a Christian anymore, so be it. I never cared for their shitty version anyway.