Sunday, December 27, 2009

CCSG Chapter 9: Christian Entertainment and Bookstores [Part 2]

This is a continuation of my previous post on the topic.

Again, if you are interested, read about this series of posts here, The Christian Culture Survival Guide.

I left off last time talking about Christian movies and music, and today I'm going to talk about Christian television.

I used to watch the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which is a 24-hour, 7 days a week Christian programming network.  There are Christian made for television movies, televangelists, televised church sermons, Saturday morning Christian cartoons, weekday night "pledge infomercials", etc.  I even remember a few of the televangelists that had regular appearances, such as Rod Parsley, Joel Osteen, Dan and Paula Crouch, T.D. Jakes, Ed Young, John Hagee, Eddie Long, etc.

Although these people have a great number of Christian fans, they are not without ridicule.  Many of them are known for their "prosperity gospel", and Joel Osteen is the biggest culprit.  As a matter of fact, I recently saw a Rapture Ready forum post talking about the man, and how he has been sent from the devil himself to preach a false gospel.  Of course, if you take a look at his main points (graciously provided by one of the forum members), they are:
1) Have a positive attitude toward ourselves- (because sin is so offensive...we all have such beautiful potential yaknow)

2) Develop better relationships..(but he fails to mention the only relationship that has the capability to produce change and better "us"es....Hmm...Jesus ...)

3) Embrace where we are: ( yes, and if we listen to him, we most likely are on the wide road leading straight to caring of him)
Joel Osteen actually preaches that we should develop better relationships, have positive attitudes, and embrace life... If you ask me, he's way better than anybody else on the normal broadcasting schedule.  He doesn't sound half bad, considering the fact that he's often roasted for cutting out a lot of the Jesus crap from his messages (although, not entirely God-fluff free).  At the very least, he's better than this guy.

To cut the crap, TBN was founded by Christians Paul and Jan Crouch, and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.  It now seems that it is run by Paul and Jan, since you see their faces the most (perhaps I may be wrong, since the last time I spent too long in this channel was a while ago).

Here is the Mr. Turner's four ideas to help TBN (since I have to bring this back to the book somehow):

1.  Lose the wig.  (Just look at that photo).

2.  New musical talent.  (Seriously, I never even heard of the people who used to play music on this network, even when I was a Christian.  And they were bland.)

3.  Less crying, and more compelling storytelling.

4.  Encourage to give, rather than guilt.  (This is a huge criticism of televangelists).

There you have it.  That's pretty much what the whole chapter comes down to, since the end is just a short couple of paragraphs talking about Christian bookstores, and a list telling you what you can do with all of those "WWJD" bracelets you have.

There is one thing I do one to quote (for the sake of quoting, really), and it's the third item on the chapter's last list (which is three Jesus branded crap that Christians would have been better off never creating).

Right below the "Test-a-mints", and Jabez crapolla, just to leave you with something to think about, here is...
3.  The "Fish Eating Darwin" car decal - Everywhere you look, there's a tan mini-van with the "Jesus fish eating the Darwin thingy" pasted on its bum. Why did we lower ourselves to the standards of evolution? [Pg. 130].

Saturday, December 26, 2009

CCSG Chapter 9: Christian Entertainment and Bookstores [Part 1]

Read about this series of posts here, The Christian Culture Survival Guide.

Christianity is an industry, as well as a religion.  I'd like to say it began a while ago, when people first started to sing in churches; the music that was played was considered Christian, and fit enough to grace the ears of the Almighty one.  Or, perhaps it started in art (but then again, many will be quick to note that the reason for this was that those with the money to fund artistic endeavors were also those preaching and serving in the pews).  Or maybe the Christian industry is really a relatively recent thing, something that was brought about by the rise of television and radio.  Christians now have their own brand of everything, really, and no doubt this helps Christians to stay in their own bubbles and never come out.

When you go to watch the television, there are channels such as the Trinity Broadcast Network that plays exclusively Christian programming all day, every day.  Their is even a version of this channel aimed at the more youthful Christians, JC-TV, that is pretty much a Christian MTV.  Speaking of music, there are Christian music record labels aimed at providing Christian only content, and rightfully so.  With the hash of Christian fundamentalists claiming that the world belongs to the devil, no wonder Christians want to reside within their on circles.  The world is a scary place, and these good Christian labels are here to help discriminate between what belongs to Satan, and what praises God.

Hell, there are even Christian movies too (ones you don't really hear about), and don't get me started on the horde of Christian books as well.

But I do agree that these Christian directors, producers, publishers. are allowed to create films, music, and books for whatever public they want; it is their right to do so, and I do not want to take that away from them.  I really don't mind much, actually.  I'm sure if I were a Christian trying to abstain from the evil of the world, I'd be particularly set on only watching, reading, listening to Christian media.

Mr. Turner, the author of the book, discusses how Christianity seems to be a few years behind its contemporary secular partner in the entertainment industry.  He also makes the point of saying that Christian products are not usually creative, harping on other avenues for inspiration.  The end result is usually corny.

A big message in the book to Christian entertainers (the musicians) is that just because you're Christians does not mean you can't go out and have a blast... or something like that.  Really, saying "Praise the Lord" and the like every five minutes gets boring.  Christians are humans, and they want to enjoy those twenty-five dollars they spent to go to your concert.  (Of course, who can blame anybody for buyers remorse after listening to "Open the Eyes of My Heart", and "How Great is Our God").

According to Mr. Turner, here are five ways of making yourself a better Christian entertainer: 

1.  Remember your audience

2. Remember your budget

3.  Remember your story

4.  Remember your reason

5.  Remember your creator
    Really, it all sums down to "Put God first", which of course is what every good Christian should do.  And not just in music, but movies too!

    Here is Mr. Turner's five five must-dos when watching a Christian movie:

    1.  To make the time go by quicker, watch it with a Christian friend. 

    2.  Even though you know you could make a better script, refrain from stating the obvious.

    3.  Have a strong drink ready, and by strong drink the author means coffee.

    4.  Look past the shitty action scenes.

    5.  Make the last few minutes optional.

    I appreciate the fact that this Christian author decided to poke fun (albeit while being truthful) about the Christian movie industry.  How many of you have read "Left Behind"?  We all know Kirk Cameron as the washed out teen actor from Growing Pains, who now assists Ray Comfort in promoting his Way of the Master television program, and the crocoduck myth; however, Kirk Cameron was one of the stars of the movie rendition of the Left Behind series, which you can view a trailer of by clicking here.  He also starred in the movie "Fireproof", which has a cheesy website by the name "Fireproof my marriage" that has all sorts of articles that you can use to protect your nice Christian marriage... but that's besides the point.  These two movies by Kirk Cameron are obviously tailored for Christian audiences, and even within that circle only cater to the fundamentalists (or those who like watching crap films).  Sure, these movies may not have completely flopped, but that's only because there is a great many people who do not want to leave the bubble.

    Thursday, December 24, 2009

    Merry Christmas

    To get back into the Christmas spirit, I am going to re-post a video from AronRa (a YouTube user) dealing with a twist on an old Christmas classic!

    (Of course, it's still Christmas Eve where I live, but perhaps some of you have already opened and shared some gifts.  Then again, not all of you probably celebrate Christmas, in which case, have a safe December, no matter what you do.)

    Man commits suicide to be with his son

    Apologies in advance, since this post wont be such a happy, joyous one- and on Christmas Eve, no less.  I feel inclined, however, to share this article.

    A man has committed suicide in order to be reunited with his dead son, who died due to an automobile accident.
    Kelly still blames herself for the fatal smash on the A81 Glasgow to Aberfoyle Road.

    She was driving a Vauxhall Corsa with Connor in the passenger seat. They were following labourer Allan, who was carrying relatives in another car as they drove to Loch Achray to let their son try out his new fishing rod.

    But Kelly lost control after hitting a pothole. The Corsa smashed into a Volvo and rolled down an embankment.

    Connor was airlifted unconscious to Glasgow's Southern General where he was put on a life support machine.
    The article states that the death of the boy was brought upon by the head injuries he sustained in the car crash.  This is obviously tear jerking in itself, and I couldn't imagine the pain endured by both the mother and father; it's obvious they loved their son very much, enough to want to follow him into the afterlife and take care of him.

    If you're like me, you don't believe in the afterlife.  While there is no evidence that really disproves any notion of the afterlife, the burden of proof lies in those who posit that there is such a thing as the afterlife; in other words, this is the only life we're guaranteed.  This makes the story all the more tragic.
    "While we sat we had talked about who would go with him if he died.
    "Allan insisted I should stay to look after our 13-year-old daughter Lauren and he should go.
    "He went into the family room and took a cocktail of tablets and tried to take his own life that night but nurses found him and he was saved."
    But, several weeks later, Allan was found dead after strangling himself with a dog leash at a relative's home.
    Shop worker Kelly, of Dennistoun, Glasgow, admitted that both of them had struggled to come to terms with losing Connor.
    She added that their love for their daughter was the only thing that kept her going.
    She added: "We were both tortured by Connor's death .
    "We tried to carry on for Lauren's sake but it all got too much for Allan. When I heard he had died too, I screamed for about five minutes but then I felt a strange sense of comfort knowing that Connor wasn't alone any more.
    "I went to see his body and he was smiling and looked at peace and contented for the first time since Connor died.
    "I know that when he shut his eyes and died he knew that he was going to see Connor again.
    This leaves me at a crossroads.  On one hand, I advocate that we as humans should recognize truth, and try to rid ourselves of any superstitious beliefs in order to satisfy the desire for a more realistic, and better society.  On the other hand, these people actually found comfort in their belief that their son would not be alone.  This comfort is found in religious believers of all stripes as well, who have found joy in the fact that maybe they're not alone.  But then I read this:
    "She has been the strongest out of all of us and I am very proud of how she has coped with all this.
    "I feel bad for her because I still can't face putting up a Christmas tree as it just makes me upset.

    "The sense of loss doesn't seem to be getting any easier. My heart is still breaking for my lovely wee boy.
    Nothing has been solved.  The truth is, not only have they lost their son, but they have lost their father too.  Sure, magical thinking can provide comfort for the moment, but it's not long term- and it isn't true comfort in the sense that it has any merit to it.  The belief in superstition made this story only all the more tragic.  In times like this, what one should not dwell on unsubstantiated thoughts of the afterlife, but rather continue to trudge on (for their sake, and the sake of others).  I don't mean to sound harsh, since the mother and daughter have been charitable in their reactions.
    Since the double tragedy last year, Kelly has focused her energy on raising cash for the Southern General and the air ambulance.

    With the support of her daughter and best pal Kevin Brannigan, 23, she has raised thousands of pounds for both causes.

    Last week, they staged an original version of the Cinderella pantomime, penned by Kevin, starring family and friends, for 200 people at Bambury Centre in Barrowfield, Glasgow, in memory of Connor. They raised more than £600.

    It was such a success that Kelly, who starred as Red Riding Hood, and Kevin, the Fairy Godfather, are planning to hold another night after the New Year.
    The pair also held a charity dance, which raised £5000.

    Kelly said: "The hospital staff were wonderful, so thoughtful and caring. They do such an amazing job. I want Connor to be proud of his mum and helping others makes me feel closer to him."
    This is much more productive than taking your own life. Sometimes life is a struggle, I know, but the ability to continue forward in good faith (used loosely) is better than committing suicide.  It breaks my heart that this family has since lost two people, but as one reader puts it:
    FatherTed13 wrote:
    This is such a sad sad story. And proves that religon is a curse.

    This young man killed himself so he could be with his son, nonsense.

    All he has done is end his suffering, and in the process double that of the living.

    A better tribute to his son would have been to stay healthy and look after the rest of his family.

    I know i have been through this.

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    CCSG Chapter 8: Dating

    A while ago, I started a project revolving around a book titled the "Christian Culture Survival Guide", which was actually written from a Christian. For some reason, or another, I never finished it off. So, after several months, I decided to finally finish this project, and to redo a certain topic that deserves much more attention from me (instead of just a cheesy music video)- Christian dating.

    So, if you're interested, again, read about this series of posts here, The Christian Culture Survival Guide.

    Seven Types of Guys (for Girls to choose from) in a Christian Culture:

    You know, I'm actually not particularly familiar with this list- I guess the author believes he's so knowledgeable in the field of Christian dating that he actually knows the types of Christian fellows that exist that nice Christian gals to take.. or something like that. Well, in order to not discriminate between information, here you go (just in case there is a nice Christian lady reading):

    1. The Jesus Jock:
    So, this guy isn't really an athlete- unless you call becoming increasingly annoying is a sport. He's the sort of guy involved in various church activities, campus groups, says "praise Jesus", blah blah blah... A tosser, generally. For Christians, he's the perfect man. Maybe he'll attend a seminary someday, become a preacher, and then fuck his life over. Unless you think becoming a preacher is a good thing.

    2. The Unattractive Nice Guy:
    Pretty self explanatory, really. This guy has probably read the bible, and whilst not the top theologian in the world, has a general grounding in biblical knowledge. But, like the title says, he's unattractive.

    3. The "Do you think...?" Guy:
    Basically, people don't know whether this type of person is gay or "bi-curious" (the author's word). Hence, "do you think". Either way, if he's not into women, what makes him qualified to be in a list for Christian women? Oh yeah, because Christians think they can "cure" homosexuality. Just ask Ted Haggard. .

    4. The Big Brother:
    Knowledgeable, normal, and well mannered. He doesn't belong on this list, either, because according to the author, this person has had a steady girlfriend since the age of seventeen, and is looking to marry after graduating college. (Spoiler: This guy will become a youth pastor).

    5. The "Bad Christian" Boy:
    Pandering to the notion that women are attracted to rebels, this Christian is a long time Church goer, but gets kicked out of private school for his vanities (drugs). He's a construction worker (for some reason), making ten bucks an hour.

    6. The My So Called Life Music Guy:
    Blah blah blah, he has shoulder length hair, tries to act quasi-intelligent, and claims to like "Mozart and Nirvana."

    7. The Extreme Guy:
    Extreme because he goes to bible retreats, and skateboards. How exhilarating.

    So, that list isn't so great. But, do not fret, because the author has provided a list of Christian women us Christian guys would like to date. There is only one problem... I'm not a Christian.

    1. The Jesus Cheerleader:
    Pretty much fits the stereotype of a regular cheerleader, but she's a Christian. Pretty much, all of the girls in this video. She marries the "big brother" type of guy, apparently.

    2. The Tomboy:
    Again, just a regular tomboy mold who happens to be Christian.

    3. The Early Bloomer:
    Yep, this Christian girl has "the goods", and has kissed all the guys in youth group. At least, I heard that in a rumor going around bible study. She marries a jerk, and becomes re-re-born in her twenties.

    4. Miss Codependent:
    Sheltered upbringing, chases after the popular guy, and actively seeks attention.
    Creepy, really. Mostly because of the sheltered upbringing.

    5. The Home School Girl:
    Yep, she's home schooled. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but she receives a strictly Christian education. That doesn't stop her from being involved in various clubs. She starts dating when she's twenty two, for some reason.

    6. The Sweet Innocent One:
    Nice, says hello, likes the bible, is boring. All these Christian women are beginning to look like vanilla.

    7. "All about ME" Girl:
    Center of attention, it's all about her. My rehashing of these descriptions is getting lazier and lazier.

    8. The Premature Mother:
    A mother without kids. End of story.

    You know, I used to attend a service that had strict rules on dating. I always thought this was restrictive, and that a Church shouldn't care about the dating life of it's congregants- however, since God apparently cares about everything, it became a big deal.
    "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6:14, KJV).
    This generally applies to dating outside of the faith. Or, having friends outside of the faith. Either way, it was strictly followed. Aside from this, many people made pacts to date Jesus. This is actually briefly talked about in the book, but I always found this sentiment strange. Does God know you're dating his son? Is Jesus allowed to date? I don't think it counts, and if you date Jesus, you pretty much have an imaginary boyfriend.

    To move on, the rest of the chapter pretty much can be summed up with:

    Christians think sex is a taboo subject,  you should consider investing in chastity belts until you meet your future spouse, and some more lists that I don't care enough to sum up (trust me, it's better off that I didn't).

    With that said, that pretty much sums up chapter 8 of the Christian Culture Survival Guide.  Next will be the talk about Christian entertainment and bookstores.

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    It's the winter solstice, have yourself a scary one!

    Yes indeed, it's that time of year again, the time when the Earth is tilted in such a way to ensure a short day -- and also mark the beginning of Winter up here in the Northern Hemisphere.

    From National Geographic:
    The solstices occur twice a year (around December 21 and June 21), because Earth is tilted by an average of 23.5 degrees as it orbits the sun—the same phenomenon that drives the seasons.

    During the warmer half of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Pole is tilted toward the sun. The northern winter solstice occurs when the "top" half of Earth is tilted away from the sun at its most extreme angle of the year.

    Being the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice is essentially the year's darkest day, but it's not the coldest.

    Because the oceans are slow to heat and cool, in December they still retain some warmth from summer, delaying the coldest of winter days for another month and a half. Similarly, summer doesn't hit its heat peak until August, a month or two after the summer solstice.

    That's neat, but did you know that many people out there also decide to replace most traditional holidays during this time of year to celebrate the winter solstice? And with good reason, since celebrating the winter solstice has been a tradition for a while.

    From the same article:
    Germanic peoples of Northern Europe honored the winter solstice with Yule festivals—the origin of the still-standing tradition of the long-burning Yule log.

    The Roman feast of Saturnalia, honoring the God Saturn, was a weeklong December feast that included the observance of the winter solstice. Romans also celebrated the lengthening of days following the solstice by paying homage to Mithra—an ancient Persian god of light.

    Many modern pagans attempt to observe the winter solstice in the traditional manner of the ancients.

    "There is a resurgent interest in more traditional religious groups that is often driven by ecological motives," said Harry Yeide, a professor of religion at George Washington University. "These people do celebrate the solstice itself."

    Pagans aren't alone in commemorating the winter solstice in modern times.

    In a number of U.S. cities a Watertown, Massachusetts-based production called The Christmas Revels honors the winter solstice with an annually changing menu of traditional music and dance from around the world.

    "Nearly every northern culture has some sort of individual way of celebrating that shortest day," said Revels artistic director Patrick Swanson. "It's a lot of fun for us to dig up the traditional dance and music and even the plays [honoring] that time of the year."

    No doubt, there is some correlation between the winter solstice, and the December 25th holiday, Christmas. I for one, as I have already mentioned, don't care which one people choose to celebrate. I also am not amused at whether or not Christmas is just a ripoff of the celebration of the winter solstice; however, I am interested in the Lovecraft ripoff of the song "Joy to the World".

    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    Enjoying the holiday season?

    Is it wrong for me to enjoy the holiday season for what it is- just another holiday season? I mean, do I necessarily have to recognize one particular holiday as being superior to the rest, regardless if that is the one I celebrate myself? The reason I bring this up is because their is a group of people in this world that believe that their particular holiday deserves special recognition, and I don't see why it should. You know what I'm talking about...

    I'm talking about Hanukkah! No wait, that's not right. Then it has to be Kwanzaa. No, that's not right either. Well, it has to be... Tiger Woods birthday, on December 30th. No? You're right, the only people who care about that day is Tiger Woods, and his wife.

    Then is it:

    World AIDS Day?

    Pearl Harbor Day?

    National Pumpkin Pie Day?

    Emily Dickinson's Birthday?

    Walt Disney's Birthday?

    Isaac Newton's Birthday (according to the Julian Calendar)?

    What day is so damn important then? Oh yeah, Christmas!

    Now, I'm not a hater of Christmas, in fact, I celebrate Christmas (more out of tradition than any religious practice, for obvious reasons). I just don't think that Christmas should be the only holiday recognized this month, and I'm sure this is a tired sentiment in the secular community.

    There are people out there who don't agree.

    Yes, there are people who also claim there is a war on Christmas. You know what I really have to say about that? Forget it, I don't have much energy to argue over a holiday.

    I'll celebrate what I feel like celebrating, and acknowledge what I feel like acknowledging. I don't care much for saying Merry Christmas. So, whoever the hell has the time to compile this list of stores saying and not saying "merry Christmas", or to create buttons saying "please wish me a merry Christmas" should try doing something productive instead.

    Happy December, no matter what you do or don't do.

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    A not so daily quote.

    Just some new segment I'd like to start up, nothing big or fancy. The quotes I use for the "not so daily quotes" may not be "of the day", but rather, something I've recently read/re-read.

    A bit longer than just a year ago, this article came out on Science Daily, titled "Sun Goes Longer Than Normal Without Producing Sunspots."

    A thread had started around this topic over at the Rapture Ready forums, and here's a nice quote from a forum member-
    Its funny how scientists think they KNOW everything, and they KNOW there is no God, and they KNOW the big bang theory is real, and they KNOW this and that, but they don't KNOW a simple thing about a planet that is part of our solar system and so important to this world.

    How little and insignificant we are.

    There are no sunspots because the Lord has simply calmed the sun for now.

    dumb scientists.
    Now, I don't know whether this person was referring to the Sun as a planet, but this reminds me of one of the traits that seems to frequently occupy the thought processes of believers. Now, I don't want to characterize all theists by claiming they all do this, but this particular Christian seems to be satisfied with ignoring facts about what we do know, and replacing any search for knowledge or real truth with "god is responsible".

    Saturday, November 28, 2009

    Some of my favorite eponyms

    For those of you who do not know, an eponym (as defined by the Merriam-Webster's online dictionary) is "one for whom or which something is or is believed to be named." Let me give you an example- a newton is a good idea that seems to have appeared out of nowhere. It's obviously derived from the famous Sir Isaac Newton, and in this case specifically refers to the story of Newton being sat down beneath an apple tree, and then being bonked on the head with an apple, and thinking hard enough about that incident to then formulate his theory on gravity (and consequently, he invents calculus). Now, I'm not going to vouch for the credibility of the previous sentence, and quite honestly am a bit skeptical of the story myself, but that is not the issue here. In fact, there is no issue, I am merely trying to show an example of an eponym. I trust you now understand.

    Recently on one of my favorite blogs, Schott's Vocab, there was a competition between the readers trying to see who can formulate the best eponymous word. Being a fan of words, I decided to give the comments section a look over, and perhaps share some of the eponymous words I found amusing here.
    So, my readers, here you are-

    Number 1. dawkins: SI unit of disbelief = inverse of graham

    Number 2. to sun (tzu) sue: keep your friends close but your attorneys closer

    Number 3. Kanye’d: Get embarrassed by someone in a formal public setting. Usually by someone who’s drunk.

    Number 4
    . T.Hanks Giving: this is the special occasion you give someone Sleepless In Seattle, BIG, Philidelphia, The Money Pit, Dragnet, Turner and Hooch, Forrest Gump, et al……

    Number 5
    . A Clintonian Truth: Technically accurate but deliberately misleading. “I did not have sex with that woman” and others.

    After reading through ten pages of the comments sections, I've been inspired to create an eponymous word of my own.

    To Ray Comfort- To continuously babble on about scientific topics you're ignorant about, only to continue mouthing off the same tripe after being proved incorrect time and time again.

    What, too wordy? Not wordy enough?

    Oh well...

    You know...

    I have been neglecting this blog recently, even though I've tried to make constant efforts to update it. I've been busy for a while, but I've still been reading all the blogs in my RSS feed.

    So, it's two days after the glorious Thanksgiving holiday here in America, and I have to tell you that there is no way in hell anybody would ever be able to get me to accompany them to a Black Friday sale. The lines are crazy. (In case you didn't know, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgivings in which you see America consumerism at it's worse...or best, depending at how you look at it.)
    I live conveniently close to a local shopping center, so you can only imagine hordes of people setting up camp after having finished their Thanksgiving dinners.

    And I don't care how cheap that laptop is, it isn't worth the cold morning surrounded by people who have become your enemies just for becoming your immediate competition. It especially isn't worth it when I already have a perfectly functioning computer at home.

    That's just a thought unrelated to anything else on this blog.

    (Click the image to expand.)

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    The cold weather

    I just stepped outside my comfortable home here in California for a few minutes and felt the cold breeze of a morning with cloudy skies. It makes me realize just how much I really do like my coffee- the hot beverage that replenishes my energy (because sleeping takes so much out of me...)

    Enjoy the recent Non-sequitur.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Presbyterian theologian rejects common sense.

    (Source of the story can be found here- The Christian Post)

    It doesn't surprise me much that a Presbyterian theologian doesn't choose to adhere to the standards of sound logic and reasoning, but to reject common sense is a ludicrous idea. Of course, this is just playing around with words- the theologian (Dr. Margaret Aymer) doesn't mean reject common sense in its everyday use, but to adhere to "uncommon sense".
    "Common sense would say, in the face of the world today, prayer is ineffectual. Common sense would say, in the face of the world today, giving thanks is learned powerlessness."

    "As children of a living God, redeemed by the Christ, inspired by the Spirit, I am here to remind you that we are not called to be a people of common sense," she proclaimed. "We are called to be a people of uncommon sense; and as a people of uncommon sense, Paul charges us: rejoice, pray, give thanks."
    Common sense would say that prayer is ineffectual, and with good reason. There is no real evidence concluding that prayer gives the believer the ability to change anything without doing a damn thing, and that is why it is common sense to not believe its effectiveness. For giving thanks, I don't quite understand what Dr. Aymer is stating- giving thanks when thanks is deserved is just common courtesy.

    I don't really think Dr. Aymer understands when she states that Christians are not called to be a people of common sense, seeing as though common sense is valued in society is a useful tool. Claiming ignorance, or lack of necessary life tools, is not something you should "rejoice" about. But like I said, Dr. Aymer may not be making the case that one shouldn't have common sense, but that one should include unsubstantiated claims when examining their common sense.
    Rejoicing amid such conditions makes no common sense. But Aymer, who is associate professor of New Testament and Chair of Biblical Studies at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, explained that the Christians' joy "rests not in our human ability to change the grief of the present, but in our steadfast hope in the One who holds the future," as reported by the Presbyterian News Service.
    It's all fine and dandy to have hope for the future, but when a hope for an afterlife that is not guaranteed to be true replaces your desire to change the wrong things going on around you, then you have a problem. This is the only life you're absolutely sure to have, and when you go around thinking that it doesn't matter because you'll live in Heaven Avenue (which has never been proved to exist) when you're dead, well, that doesn't make much sense at all. I suppose that's what uncommon sense is all about then.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    H1N1 Vaccine

    I got my H1N1 Vaccine yesterday, and boy does it feel good. The waiting in line? Not so much. That's in the past, and we want to move towards the future. Speaking of which, Sylvia Browne (who allegedly can see into the future) was on the Jay Leno show recently. Go ahead and watch for yourself!

    Sunday, November 1, 2009

    November 1st

    Here I am, on November 1st, typing away on my computer desk with nothing better to do. There are only two months left in this year, and I have to admit that time goes by much too fast for my comfort. I don't even know what to blog about today. You see, I'm not one of those bloggers who usually likes to spread things that other people (presumably popular people) have already blogged about (unless it can absolutely warrant a second opinion, like an album review). I've also never been one to just talk about my atheism, and I'd like to use the blog to just share my thoughts from time to time about anything. I hope you don't mind, it's a way for me to get my frustrations out, or share something I believe deserves to be shared.

    So, on that note, there is a movie titled The Wolfman (a remake of a movie over half a century old) due in 2010.
    The trailer can be viewed here-

    What do you think?

    Saturday, October 31, 2009

    Happy Halloween

    So, I've decided to revert to using my first name on blogs (for now) instead of a pseudonym. It's no big deal to me, since not much anonymity is lost. Either way, I'd like to apologize for the lack of posts in the past two months- I've been busy. But, I'm slowly, but surely, getting back into the swing of things. Also, I would like to wish you all a Happy (and safe) Halloween.
    Don't eat too much candy, and don't scare yourself to death.

    Oh, what the hell, you've already sold your soul to Lucifer so who the hell cares...

    Sunday, October 25, 2009


    I am an atheist. I am also a blogger. By themselves, none of these describe me as a whole; they identify me as what I am in one area of my life. Another term I use to describe myself is music listener (hey, you probably do as well.)

    Vampire Weekend- Horchata (It’s the name of the song, and a tasty drink as well.)

    What do you think? Any musical suggestions (openly atheist, loud, classical, whatever) from my readers in the comments section is greatly appreciated.

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    I finally joined.

    Yes, I have finally joined the Atheist Blogroll after months of writing.

    B is for Barnstorming has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    God separated, not created, the Heavens and Earth

    Prof Van Wolde, 54, who will present a thesis on the subject at Radboud University in The Netherlands where she studies, said she had re-analysed the original Hebrew text and placed it in the context of the Bible as a whole, and in the context of other creation stories from ancient Mesopotamia.
    She said she eventually concluded the Hebrew verb "bara", which is used in the first sentence of the book of Genesis, does not mean "to create" but to "spatially separate".
    Interesting, since it seems that God did not create the Earth from even a literal biblical point of view (granted Prof Van Wolde is correct.) The article where I quoted from goes on to explain Wolde's belief that this particular verse in the Bible was not written to describe "the beginning of time, but the beginning of narration." Oh, and that there were sea monsters living in complete darkness before God decided to work his 6-day magic.

    Mind you, I don't know how contemporary religious circles will react to this; It should be mildly amusing if this continues to unfold.

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Kirk Cameron accepts dishonesty

    Not that the point needs to be reiterated. If you haven't heard of Way of the Master already, then you're really missing out on an opportunity to watch a scientifically ignorant duo consisting of Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron take on the world of evangelizing through dishonesty; however, since you are reading this blog I am going to assume that you do indeed know who they are.

    A while back, they debated an atheist group (known as the Rational Response Squad) on television. Although I am not much of a fan of the Rationalist Response Squad, few are reluctant to say that Kirk and Ray put up much of a fight (this sentence almost seems like a non sequitur, but I don't care). As many people may know already, Ray Comfort is not exactly the most honest creationist in town. He has been corrected many times on his blog about the misconceptions he's had related to science and evolution (one glance at any of his comments sections is evidence for that). He also eggs people on, in my opinion, through insults (both subtle and not). For example, here is his blog post for today.

    As we can see, Comfort is one classy fellow.

    What's worse is the video he links to, which shows a clip of Kirk Cameron talking about "missing links" in the fossil records (this was at the event mentioned above).
    Science has never found a genuine transitional form that is one kind of animal crossing over into another kind, either living or in the fossil record. And there are suppose to be billions of them.
    This is also where we get the first taste of the "crocoduck" argument against evolution; as you can see, Ray and Kirk are not exactly the most intelligent people when it comes to science. Or evolution. Or transitional fossils.

    In watching the video, you witness something even more distressing... somebody actually buys it.

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    Attaccabottoni (Italian)

    attaccabottoni (Italian): a sad person who buttonholes people and tells long, pointless stories of misfortune (literally, "a person who attacks your buttons").

    Even though this is my 100th post, it is nothing special. It is more for me, really. I like the fact that I am free to write about anything I want to write about on this blog, and the fact that you bear with me even during my dry spells (periods of time in which I find it difficult to post anything any of you smart people will find interesting). The word above has no specific value really. No relevance to anything here. Except for me. I've realized that (while not much on this blog), I'm an "attaccabottoni". I tell people about my problems, without addressing them. I put too much focus on my own stresses in life, and don't always realize other people have their own problems. Today I put an end to that. That is the "for me" part of this blog post.

    With that said, I also decided that I'd like to share with you a few posts from a couple of fellow bloggers that have caught my interest in the past few days, and I hope they have the same effect with you as well. I hope it is a sufficient 100th post.

    The Red Ferret has recently posted about an article on the matter of belief in god being natural... and even if it is true, it doesn't constitute the belief being true. Also, he delves into the Gideon's bible for some pretty neat biblical truths (like what to do when our hard drive crashes).

    Sparrowhawk draws attention to something that I thought deserved more attention in the first place (or, I should say, good attention). Obama's education and stay in school speech. Is Sparrowhawk trying to promote indoctrinating our students? Not at all. He also points to another president that has done something like this as well. Take a look. While I thought that some may find the speech Obama gave to students cheesy, I thought it was inspirational to some degree. Do well in school. That's the only doctrine I tasted while reading the transcript of it online.

    The Secular Thinker has posted on the definition of some terms people throw around in argument (which I think is good, part of the argument is knowing what's being said). He also touches upon the first cause argument. And the (often mind stressing) TAG.

    The New Atheist had a post 3 days ago about September 11. The ending paragraph deserves attention:
    September 11th ought to be a day when we reflect on role religion plays in our societies, not come together to praise the same God who abandoned us all eight years ago. The events of this day are irrevocably intertwined with religion. It is a fact that 9/11, and a multitude of other historical atrocities, wouldn’t have happened in a world of atheists. And no, Hitler wasn’t an atheist. So save it.
    The rest of the post is good, too. Also, sometimes people don't take kindly to civil discourse and rational discussion. No matter what political party they associate themselves with, they may look a bit like this.

    To 100 posts. Enjoy yesterday's Non-Sequitur.

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    Evolution draws us closer to God?

    I just read an article in Relevant Magazine (some hipster Jesus magazine) about the divide that Christians make between evolution and faith in God. First of all, I congratulate the author for being open to the idea that a scientific theory should not be discounted on the grounds that it does not mesh with what was written down in an old book thousands of years ago.
    Arguing for God being the Creator of the universe doesn’t necessitate an attack on the theory of evolution. Don’t misunderstand me; some evolutionists (particularly some of the neo-atheists like Richard Dawkins, who argues in his new book people who don't believe in evolution are on the same level as Holocaust deniers) have gone ape over their theory (forgive the pun) to the point that they seem to forget it is a theory, and refer to it as if it is an undeniable scientific fact. (Please note: when I speak about evolution, I’m referring to Darwin’s macroevolutionary theory: life began millions of years ago from a kind of primordial ooze that gave rise to single-celled creatures, which then evolved into more complex ones, all the way up to we humans.)
    Unfortunately, we find our first problem here (and it is an issue of semantics). Ed Gungor seems to make the mistake of claiming evolution is “just a theory”; the theory of evolution is a scientific theory, which is not on par with a hypothesis. While a scientific theory is falsifiable, it is also backed up by evidence. Another thing I am getting tired of is people who talk about evolutionary theory bringing up “neo-atheist” Richard Dawkins. While I appreciate what Dawkins does, I have never actually read any of his books. How about you ask any real scientist in the field that believes in the theory of evolution a question you’d ask Richard Dawkins (in regards to science, mind you), and you’ll find that you may get the same answer Dawkins would give. Also, it is not only Darwin’s theory; why people revert to calling it exclusively Darwin’s theory is beyond me. Darwin was greatly influential, this I’m sure, but the theory of evolution has evolved (forgive the pun) far beyond what Darwin first professed. Now let’s move on, I’m afraid I’m becoming too nitpicky with Mr. Gungor.
    Is the theory of evolution true? It definitely has its problems, but whether it is or isn’t true doesn’t impact the notion that God is the Creator of the world. Scientific theories about origins simply talk about how things came to be, not whether God was behind it. For Christians to argue about scientific theory—any theory—because they think it attacks the notion that God is the Creator seems silly.
    Mr. Gungor claims evolution has its problems (and I agree to a point). The theory of evolution has only one problem, and that is that it has limitations. This does not make the theory any less valid, but is a testament to the fact the science is ongoing and ever seeking new knowledge. Also, while I do agree that the theory of evolution does not answer the question of whether a god was or was not behind it, I would say it does if the theory is in conflict with a God who had created everything in 6 days the way it was 6000 years ago (unless you take Genesis poetically).

    Mr. Gungor goes on in the following paragraphs to make the point that being a Christian does not mean you have to adopt the view that the Earth is young, and that evolution is not true. In other words, science should not be the enemy of faith. Often times, though, it is faith that does hold back knowledge and understanding of scientific notions.

    Mr. Gungor then goes on to make the argument from design-
    One could say that the order of non-living things—the laws that govern physical objects, the earth orbiting the sun, the seasons coming and going, the laws governing atoms and the subatomic universe—is enough evidence to assert that there is a God who designed things to be the way they are. But the most compelling evidence—the evidence that seems to scream: THERE IS A GOD! — comes from things that are alive.
    We all know that this does not demonstrate that there is a God. The laws of physics do not prove God exists. The next two paragraph talk about how DNA is a language, a coded message written by God. Or at the very least, it had to be. The thing is, it does not, and until you demonstrate how this is the case you cannot say “God must’ve done it”. You can study science, and then come up with a sound conclusion instead.
    British chemist Leslie Orgel once said, “Evolution is smarter than you are,” to which atheist Christopher Hitchens responded, “But this complement to the ‘intelligence’ of natural selection is not by any means a concession to the stupid notion of ‘intelligent design.’”

    Why not? Why couldn’t evolution have an intelligence that was put in it by God? That Hitchens (along with the other neo-atheists) can make no “concession” to the possibility of God being involved is evidence of a silly prejudice. It is not a logical observation.
    I do not know the context of what Mr. Gungor quoted from Christopher Hitchens, but I have a feeling Hitchens was talking about the Discovery Institutes idea of intelligent design (which is different from theistic evolution). I may be wrong, though.

    I will end my post on this note- the idea that Mr. Gungor can observe the world around him and conclude that there just has to be a God is evidence of silly prejudice. When you look at the world around you, you find that there is no god above. The world as we know it operates as if there is no god, so why make the assumption there is a god without any evidence? That wouldn’t be a logical observation.

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    Believing in magic...and then some.

    After reading a post by the Secular Thinker, I repaid a visit to Ray Comfort’s blog to see what tripe he came out with today.

    This is what I get-
    A simple-minded man once maintained that the story of Pinocchio was true. A wooden doll did become a human being. He not only believed that it was true, but he maintained and that he had evidence to back it up. He said that its proof was that there was such a thing as a wooden doll of the type spoken of in the story, and that it has been also proven that there was once a child that looked like that doll. Therefore, in his mind, that was evidence that the wooden doll came to life. He didn’t see the disconnect between the two thoughts.

    Then he said that his theory was scientific, he was intelligent, and anyone who didn’t believe as he believed was unintelligent and unscientific. Yet everyone knew that non-life cannot become life.
    Ray Comfort brings up this story of a mystery man believing something on anecdotal evidence, who claims it is scientific (and by the way, claiming something scientific does not make it so). Why would Ray tell us this story? The hint is in the final sentence. A nickel if you guess what he’s going to write about next…
    Such describes the modern atheist. He has an adamant belief that there’s no evidence that there are any gods, and yet he himself is part of life. He believes that non-life produced life, and he doesn’t see the disconnect. Then he tries to justify his belief by embracing the wild speculation of Darwinian evolution, the theory that he believes is "not complete but is more compelling than believing in magic."
    While I certainly wouldn’t state that all atheists have an adamant belief that there’s absolutely no evidence that there are any gods (and God with a capital “g” too Ray, your God isn’t any exception), I would ask that if he does, so what? The only thing you should be able to do before you criticize this atheist is demonstrate that there is evidence for a god claim. And if you make a God claim, and fail to demonstrate how it is true, then anybody is justified in disbelieving your claim and stating there is no evidence (that we know of) for it.

    Ray then goes on to say that the atheist believes life came from non-life. You see, Ray Comfort is a man who offers his readers nothing but gross characterizations, false dichotomies, and straw men fallacies. The fact that we may admit not knowing how the universe originally began automatically makes Ray assume we mean nothing came from something. That’s untrue. Also, because we do not know how the universe originally began automatically makes Ray assume that God must’ve done it. He still fails to demonstrate how this is true, not realizing that when you posit a positive belief you should have evidence to back the assertion up lest you be condemned to false beliefs. Then, like is custom for Ray, he ties the theory of evolution into his post (no surprise there).
    I have practiced magic for many years, and have watched the astounded expressions of thousands of people whose eyes where easily fooled by my hands. Prestidigitation has taught me that human beings are extremely gullible, and never has there been such mass gullibility as with the case of those whose believe the theory of evolution without compelling evidence. For them, a bump on a whale-bone becomes positive proof that whales had legs, or some amino acid means that chickens were once dinosaurs. Obscure non-transitional fossils become attestation that humans are actually primates. This is the conviction of the simple-minded, who believe anything that paleontologists and professors pontificate.
    I agree, people who accept the theory of evolution without looking at the evidence are gullible- fortunately, most rational people I know have indeed analyzed the evidence. Ray Comfort may understand that his statements are either gross mischaracterizations or flat out lies, but he either does not know or care. If he does not know, he should do some more research on his part and read the comments on his own blog to gain a better understanding; if he indeed does not care, however, then he is intellectually dishonest. His last sentence, besides being mildly insulting, is highly ironic. Ray Comfort is a man who will believe anything in that canon of 66 books written long ago. Do the claims in these books have to be substantiated? No. That’s good enough for Ray.
    No doubt the argument will continue until Kingdom come between those that love God, and those that don’t. But I have looked at the "evidence" for evolution, and I don’t believe as they do. I am not afraid of their "starter information" because their "finish" doesn't exist.
    Ray offers up a false dichotomy: Either you accept evolution and hate god, or you love God and reject evolution. Not everybody who accepts the theory of evolution is an atheist. There are many Christians who accept the evolution (Kenneth Miller, for starters).
    I choose rather the evidence that is backed up by the power of the Creator, who promises to reveal Himself to those that obey Him (see John 14:21). There is no greater evidence for truth. When God reveals himself to any human being, the argument is over.
    Ray Comfort, there is greater evidence than that for truth- any evidence at all.

    On a side note, I decided to turn on word verification for the time being- these spam attacks became worse than I thought. I hope you don't mind.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Billy Graham attempts apologetics

    Billy Graham, although he is a preaching heavyweight, has always come across to me as an apologetics lightweight. When it comes to what seems to be sound Christian doctrine, I'd be inclined to listen to what he has to say (granted I were an evangelical Christian). When it comes to arguing against atheists, however, Billy Graham might want to do a little research first (he's beginning to sound like Ray Comfort).

    When confronted by an atheist about why he should believe in God, Mr. Graham replies with this-
    Has it ever occurred to you that as an atheist you also believe in something you can't prove?

    You see, an atheist says there is no God—in other words, that God doesn't exist. But can you prove it? No, you can't, any more than someone a thousand years ago—before the invention of the telescope—could have proved that other galaxies didn't exist. All you can say is that you don't believe there is any evidence for God's existence. But what if there is evidence that you haven't yet examined? In other words, you have faith that God doesn't exist—but you can't actually prove it.
    Graham has committed the all to familiar fallacy of claiming atheism is the stance that a god does not exist- or, their is no god. Atheism (I know this is becoming a tired slogan, but keep with me) is the lack of belief in any gods. This is not a positive statement. I am not claiming that no gods exist, but that I have rejected the god claims that I have been given based on evidentiary grounds. In other words, I've dismissed them because of their own lack of substantiated claims and evidence. It is not my job to disprove these god claims if the people making them have not demonstrated that they are true.
    I would be inclined to say that I may be wrong- just like the person who denied the existence of other galaxies was wrong. I will not fault the person for not having any evidence (or enough evidence) that other galaxies existed, if the evidence had not yet been discovered.
    But could you be looking in the wrong place? Or looking with the wrong attitude? You see, as a Christian I believe in God for one reason: He has revealed Himself to us. How has He done this? He has done it first of all through the majesty of His creation.

    But, most of all, He has revealed Himself in a way that staggers our imagination: He became a man. That man was Jesus, in whom (the Bible says) "all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9). No, I know you don't believe that right now—but I challenge you to look at Jesus with an open heart and mind as He is revealed in the pages of the New Testament. Don't let pride or anything else keep you from discovering Him.
    Graham assumes that the bible is true without demonstrating that it is. Billy Graham should read material other than that which is sold in Christian Bookstores to be well rounded in his education. I don't understand what looking for Jesus with an open mind and heart mean; surely if I'm looking for Jesus, I've already got the open mind and heart. I've dismissed Christianity after analyzing it. Why does Graham assume I may be an atheist because of my pride? I honestly don't care much for pride.
    Before you sell a "solution", you must create the problem.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009

    CCSG Chapter 8: Dating

    Read about this series of posts here, The Christian Culture Survival Guide.

    After reading the chapter, and being stricken by apathy towards the topic of Christian relationships, I've decided to now half-ass this blog post and show you a rap video about "rolling" with atheists. I don't generally listen to this type of music, and the video is a bit cheesy, but it's better than nothing (and perhaps mildly entertaining, at the very least).

    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    Just a Heads Up

    If I am absent for this following week, it is because I will be going on a camping trip that begins tomorrow (Sunday) and lasts until next Saturday. This also means that when I return I will have much to read due to the blog posts I expect to pile up on Google Reader during my trip.

    Don't worry, I prioritize, which means that I usually read the blogs I'm "following" on Blogger first.

    Take it easy this following week.

    Friday, August 14, 2009

    CCSG Chapter 7: Boycotts and Extremes [Part 2]

    Read about this series of posts here, The Christian Culture Survival Guide.

    There’s a saying that can vaguely be summarized as this- “Any publicity is good publicity”. When the first Dan Brown book to be filmed The Da Vinci Code was going to be released, there were protests from Christian groups calling it blasphemy. Aside from that, there were poor reviews all over the place (the movie holds a 24% rating at Rotten Tomatoes); the movie, however, did fairly well its opening release weekend. The reason was publicity, and all the Christian protesters were really doing was helping give this film more publicity. Christian boycotts don’t work much; what they do is spark curiosity in the people who hear their message, which in turn may make the person participate in the very thing the Christian boycotts are against. Let's face it, even the protesters may indulge in the very thing they claim to be against (I remember one Christian telling me he went to see the Da Vinci Code because he wanted to know what lies the adversity was spewing this time).

    Sometimes, what these people protest against baffles us. They boycott things that can be so minuscule, so small, it matters to nobody but them. Take this christian webpage, for example, which makes it its mission to denounce rock music. Yes, this includes Christian Rock and secular Rock. In regards to Christians replying to the allegations that Christian Rock is evil, one of the site masters had this to say:

    In an effort to return to the immediate topic at hand, Paul Turner gives us a list of three signs that indicate we may be about to make an erroneous decision.
    1. You're going to do it because everybody else is doing it.
    2. If you're doing it based on emotions.
    3. If you're doing it to make somebody happy.
    Although these are directed at Christians who are considering boycotting, I'd say these are good rules to adopt generally. Along with these suggestions, look out for these people:
    1. The Over-Zealous Regulator: I remember a pious usher once telling a congregant that he should shave his face because his beard wasn't very attractive. I must admit, it was eccentric and unkempt, but this was who he was. I myself have been prone to keeping my face unkempt every once in a while (albeit out of laziness). To this day, the man with the unkempt beard was probably one of the most humble persons I have met; I certainly preferred his company over any of those self-righteous men spewing venom from the pews.
    2. The Conspiracy Theorist: Satan's influence can be seen in any and all news. I remember my church being up in arms over Planet X. Perhaps if you're prone to believing something so ludicrous as religion, you leave yourself open for all types of nonsense.
    3. The Theological "Thumper": This one I found amusing. These sorts of people are the ones who go about fitting every aspect and event in life into some bible verse or obscure teaching- and according to the author, these people end up leaving the faith altogether.
    I'd like to add one more thing on that list. Beware of those who think for themselves instead of dogmatically following the words of some preacher or "holy book". Question everything, and question what motives these "leaders" may have.

    Thursday, August 13, 2009

    I now get Japanese Spam

    Now, I have set my blog comment settings in a way so that anybody can come to my blog and express their ideas without worrying about being censored (I actually support free speech, and don't care if you curse or say "blasphemous" comments). The reason for this is that I believe it is childish to get worked up about who said what, and I'd like this to be a place for any audience to have their ideas heard and not shut out; however, I never accounted for spam. Nevertheless, Japanese spam (I'm disappointed, I was hoping to get a drive-by gospel shooting).

    This one, with the help of Google translate, harshly translates into this-
    HAMESEREBU is immediately available free dating community. The unprecedented performance, and find people that match your wishes. Ensures we meet the events a month luxury unthinkable

    And this one harshly translates into this-
    Height of summer! One girl is a feeling of open world's spoiling for a H! Oh you girls ○ network to raise the mood for him at the knee! Of course, it's also OK to help you! Now, by accessing the Ministry of Relief Now
    I just found this amusing. Perhaps you can make more sense of this than I can. At the moment, though, I have no plans of changing my comment policy.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    CCSG Chapter 7: Boycotts and Extremes [Part 1]

    Read about this series of posts here, The Christian Culture Survival Guide.

    There was a gay parade scheduled for later that month in the city where the congregants met every Sunday. This meant that Satan had a stranglehold grip on these people, and was holding on tightly. The pastor decided to do something in retaliation, so he did what God called him to do. He got together with a group of other pastors, and they decided to have their own rally and parade. Walk for Jesus, it was called. It could have adequately been dubbed “Walk for injustice and inequality”, as it was crafted from a pitiful hate against people who were not like them. Like good Christians.

    As we know, Christians boycott and speak out against a lot of things (mostly because of unintelligent reasons). But when the good kingdom of God is threatened, the humble Christians have to bear their arms and put on their spiritual armor to combat the forces of Satan. By the way, that phrase is accurately pronounced “Merry Christmas”, emphasis on the Christ.
    Paul Turner makes the point in his book that Christians may picket against any petty grievances. He has created a list of today’s most popular boycotts:

    1. All things Disney: I remember a Christian group leader telling me once that when a new Disneyland park was opened, the staff would get together the night before and practice witchcraft and wizardry. Apparently, they did this in order to get a lot of visitors and to be successful.
    2. Halloween: The night when Satan holds captive the minds of people who even recognize what day it is.
    3. Pop music icons: Secular music is inherently evil.
    4. “R” Rated Movies
    5. All Things Mormon: This, of course, does not apply if you’re Mormon.
    6. Alcoholic beverages, and anything sponsored by Alcoholic beverages: Alcohol is Satan’s favorite tool. If he’s got a vice-like grip on you, he may very well have the ability to turn water into wine.

    Paul Turner recounts a moment in his life in which his father announced that they no longer were to purchase or own anything manufactured by Proctor and Gamble. He had gotten a tip at work by another fundamentalist that Proctor and Gamble was supporting the Church of Satan. This meant everything with the face resembling a crescent moon had to go. As disheartening as it was, Paul’s mother agreed (although she was the first to be skeptical). The truth of the matter, though, was that the other products just didn’t compare to the ones Satan profited from.

    And here are five pieces of advice for Christians about boycotting:
    1. They hardly work.
    2. Publicized boycotts make you seem petty and ridiculous.
    3. If you decided to boycott, be consistent.
    4. Don’t boycott something simply because others are.
    5. Don’t boycott without knowing the facts.

    Saturday, August 8, 2009

    Creation Museum Trip

    Since I could not go to yesterday's creation museum trip, I've decided to write a post about a news article about the trip. I'm doing my part to fight against weak "science", no matter how minor it may be. However, just in case you didn't know, PZ Myers (along with the Secular Student Alliance) decided to pay the creation museum (the one owned by Ken Ham) a visit. There was an incident in which one student, Derek, was removed from the premises. Although, the allegations seemed weak.
    The article begins:
    A group of scientists, students and secularists -- 304 in all -- visited Petersburg, Kentucky on Friday to tour exhibits on display at the Creation Museum.
    The visitors are in town attending a conference of the Secular Student Alliance, a group formed "to organize, unite, educate and serve students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human based ethics."
    Exhibits in the Creation Museum, which cost $27 million to build and opened in May, 2007, present a history of the world based on literal interpretations of the Book of Genesis. Adam and Eve share the Garden of Eden with dinosaurs; the beaks of Darwin's finches are explained by God's will, not evolution; and mankind spread from continent to continent by walking across the floating trunks of trees knocked down during the Biblical Flood. The museum has made a specific effort to reach out to students and families.
    $27 Million wasted on anti-science tripe. Apparently, dinosaurs were all vegetarians (even the dinosaurs with the sharp teeth) before the fall of man. Re-read where I added my bold emphasis- now, it is alright to ridicule at the explanation these people give for how people crossed the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. However, you have to give it to them for the ability to fabricate an excuse for anything.
    William Watkin, a chemist living in Indiana, challenged one exhibit's suggestion that the Grand Canyon could have been carved in hours by a process similar to how volcanic mudslides can rapidly create canyons in softer rocks. "Everything they said about sediment deposition, about Mount St. Helens … anyone in first year geology would say 'wrong from top to bottom,'" said Watkin.
    Anybody with even a basic understanding of science will understand these people are wrong from the top to the bottom. The problem is, these people aren't as interested in having their science correct as much as they are interested in spreading their gospel message. Here is a snapshot of their mission statement.

    As you can see, these people first lay the foundations of their "research" with what the bible states (or at least, their interpretation). Then anything that does not fit their worldview gets thrown out. Sound science is what a real museum strives for- these people are a sham.
    In the singular moment of noticeable conflict, Derek Rogers, a computer science major at Dalhouise University in Nova Scotia, Canada, was detained by guards for wearing a shirt with a slogan recently plastered on buses by activist groups that read "there's probably no God, so get over it." He was escorted to the bathroom and ordered to flip the shirt inside-out.
    "One family of religious people told me that I had ruined their trip, and they drove all the way from Virginia," said Rogers.
    A museum that orders somebody with a shirt that isn't very offensive (though this is my opinion, it did not have any explicit language or imagery) surely is not open to the exchange of ideas. This is truly disheartening, we'd expect a place that sets forth to "educate" to tolerate an opposing view. PZ Myers, famed biologist blogger, wrote about it on his blog (there is even video footage of the conversation between Derek, Myers, and a couple of other atheists). What I found amusing was that a family from Virginia stated this ruined their trip. I'm sure their trip would have been worse were they to have been thrown out. What these people should be worried about is the distasteful attitude this museum has towards any form of minor criticism.
    But at least one conversation between religious believers and members of the group found common ground. Beneath a poster that presented the creationist interpretation of fossils, two students from North Carolina and a man who became religious after being diagnosed with cancer engaged in a polite dialogue about helping others and tolerating differences that drew a crowd.

    "Regardless of religion, we both live our lives for the same reasons," said one of the students. "The big thing we have a problem with here is the faulty science."
    This is the ending paragraph in the article. And I agree that my first quirk against these fundamentalist types isn't their religiosity, it's their misunderstanding of basic science (and promotion of pseudoscience).

    Friday, August 7, 2009

    CCSG Chapter 6: Getting Along With Christians

    Read about this series of posts here, The Christian Culture Survival Guide.

    Becoming friends with the Christians at Church was easy. One simply had to look the part of a new convert (or potential convert), and you were welcomed into the ranks. Of course, most everyone leaned towards conservative value. Group bible study get-togethers involved me keeping my mouth shut. It was hard to truly become part of the group when you didn’t say “amen!” after every five sentences of speech, and raised your hand in the air whilst your head was down. There was a group mentality that went like this- If you’re not with us, you’re against us. I was the sheep cast among wolves.

    Mind you, this following sentence contains a word I do not condone using, but here it is being used to prove a point. Mr. Turner tells a story of when he was a younger person carrying a boom box to Church, and upon walking in one of the ushers whispered, “How many niggers did you have to tackle to get that there CD player?” Mr. Turner makes the point of saying that there are some Christians out there that make it hard for the rest of them, like saying vile things as if they were nothing but a joke. I know the reason for this- they’re all human like the rest of us. Having faith in an unsubstantiated worldview does not make you a better person. Kicking racism and stereotyping out the door is a good start though. And while you’re at it, try tolerance.
    Five phrases insulting to Christians, according to Mr. Turner:

    1. You’re sexy! (This phrase is seemingly X-rated for the more conservative Christian types.)
    2. I’m a Democrat. (Liberalism=God Hater.)
    3. Would you like to see a wine list? (Because you know what happened to Lot.)
    4. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being gay.
    5. How do you know God is indeed a man?

    Turner tells of an event involving his job as the editor of CCM magazine (a Contemporary Christian Music magazine). He received a phone call from a lady who did not like the usage of the word “sexy” in an article heading. She yelled at Turner, telling him that sex is not talked about in the bible. Of course, we already know about the Songs of Solomon, however, this woman then made the claim that it wasn’t talked about in the King James Version. She cancelled her subscription over one word.
    Five things Turner has learned about other Christians:

    1. When it seems you are going to offend somebody, then you are going to offend somebody.
    2. Think twice before you think your criticism will be welcomed at all.
    3. Christians judge first, think second.
    4. Christians have a skewed sense of humor (as we’ve discussed before). Perhaps most of your jokes won’t come across as funny, unless they deal with bible stories.
    5. A Christian’s politics is his religion, and vice-versa.

    Turner then continues to tell us yet another story of his days as the CCM editor. This one involved listening to a demo CD of a prospective Christian singer… and then telling her the music needed work. The prospective Christian singer was astounded, and said that the Holy Spirit gave her the song. At that point, there are three things you can say, but I’ll only share the one that is worth our time- “You’re full of crap.”

    The last sentence in the chapter reads something along the lines of “silence can help diffuse the worst of situations”. In Church, I held my silence out of fear. I would be looked down upon. I would be labeled with all sorts of horrific titles. Any minor friendships I held would have been lost.

    Today, however, I would not be afraid to call those people out on their tripe. And whenever somebody else was looked down upon for being different, I wouldn’t put up with it. If these people knew me now.

    Monday, August 3, 2009

    Perhaps I can get it a little higher than that.

    Doing a search for the book, The Christian Culture Survival Guide, I find myself a few web pages from the bottom. Either way, this is the first page. Does anybody else seem to get this result?

    Saturday, August 1, 2009

    CCSG Chapter 5: The Worship Service

    Read about this series of posts here, The Christian Culture Survival Guide.

    Worship is cringe worthy. I’ve wasted too much time of my life in worship services, time that could’ve been used doing something productive (like reading good literature). And from the outside looking it, worshipping anything just because it’s self-labeled itself “god” is scary. It’s scary because people are willing to suspend disbelief for an unsubstantiated claim and revere it to such a high degree.
    Regardless, here is Paul Turner’s list of 7 Church clich├ęs that need to go.

    1. Announcement in the middle of praise or worship services.
    2. Praise and Worship Flags.
    3. “Visitor” Time. Nobody likes being called out in the middle of worship service.
    4. Praise and Worship Guitar Solos. (My reason would be that “rocking for Jesus” is embarrassing.)
    5. Interpretive Dancing. (“Dancing for Jesus” is also lame).
    6. Five minute sermon prayers.
    7. Any mentions of sports by the pastor. I have no problem with this, really, because it forces the pastor to return to real life (even if for mere minutes).

    Don’t worry, though. Turner makes sure to offer 5 suggestions for churches to revamp their services. (This list isn’t serious at all).

    1. Rhythmic gymnastics (to go along with the worship flags).
    2. Pastors should enter from the rear entrance, followed by a mini “Jesus-parade”.
    3. Making public displays of pastoral counseling to be a regular thing. (For those who like Dr. Phil.)
    4. Internet capability.
    5. Pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs instead of doughnuts and coffee Sunday morning.

    Turner paraphrases Mathew 18:20 at the end of the chapter.
    Matthew 18:20 (New King James Version)
    20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
    That’s right. At the mall, grocery store, or park (it doesn’t matter where you worship). But, I have a better idea. How about you decide to live your life, and recognize the moments when you do something good. Recognize the goodness in others. Recognize that you’re able to accomplish great things, without the unfounded belief in an imaginary being.

    Instead of worshipping this god, investigate if he even exists in the first place.

    Friday, July 31, 2009

    God created the World

    [This is a bit of satire by YouTube user, Jesusophile]

    Thursday, July 30, 2009

    HJHOP Podcast Update

    Fellow blogger Bing has released another edition of the HJHOP podcast.

    Check it out if you wish.

    New York Times, taking a nap?

    I was on the New York Times website just a short while ago when I saw this on the front page.
    Now, I don't know how news website works, but I'd figure that the important things should be getting center stage (not that napping isn't important).*
    The Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends survey of daily activities found that people who were unemployed were more likely to nap during the week than on weekends and that those with jobs were only slightly more likely to nap on weekends.
    Well, there you have it. If you have a job, most likely you'll be napping on the weekends. If not, the week is yours for the taking.
    But many people, and experts, praise the benefits of a siesta or a power snooze. Confessed nappers include Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison and Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
    I'm a napper too, but I never thought such a big deal about it as to fabricate a news story about it. Perhaps I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but if they're using this for the center news on their website, I'm expecting a news story about people who drink coffee in the morning.
    [EDIT: Corrected a few typos.]*

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    CCSG Chapter 4: Church Involvement

    Read about this series of posts here, The Christian Culture Survival Guide.

    In an effort not to feel out of the loop, I looked for opportunities to volunteer at my church. However, not everybody would seek the help of a young, depressed young man. I did, however, find a place for myself. My job included me taking the personal information of newcomers, and given them a complimentary package of Christian pamphlets and brochures. At first I thought I was training myself to be a true soul winner for Christ Jesus. Later, I realized that not everybody wanted to accept Jesus, and some did it because they were pointed out in front of the congregation as being newcomers. Embarrassingly, and unwillingly, they’d go to the front of the church and mutter the sinner’s prayer. Our group (for some reason, dressed in orange vests) would then tend to these people. I didn’t want to be involved in that. For one, it was embarrassing wearing an orange vest for no real reason. Also, I was a bad soul winner. I didn’t volunteer for much else afterwards. According to Matthew Paul Turner, these are the more popular ways to volunteer.

    1. Opening up your house for small group meetings- We had small group meetings on Fridays at somebody’s house to learn about the bible for an hour and a half. We might sing a praise song or two. This meant no plans on Friday.
    2. Nursery- Probably the most dreaded volunteer service, though popular amongst mothers.
    3. Ushering- Pass out bulletins and the offering plate doesn’t seem so hard. Traditionally, older gentlemen would take this responsibility. However, at the local Mormon Church young adults seize this task.
    4. Teaching Children’s Sunday School- Popular amongst the young female adults in my church. Involves singing annoying songs, and telling boring biblical stories.
    5. A Singer in the Praise and Worship Band- Popular amongst people who couldn’t sing in my church. Also involves singing annoying songs.
    6. Janitorial Responsibilities- We didn’t have a need for this job. The reason for that was because we did not have a church. Sunday service might’ve taken place at the local school gym, or at a hotel.
    7. Leading an Adult Small Group- This, unlike just lending your house for group meetings, involves you being in charge of the meeting. This may mean lending your voice to an acoustic version of the most recent praise song, and reading a bible verse and trying to make a mini-sermon out of it.
    8. Special Music- I don’t see much of a difference between this and number 5. However, Mr. Turner emphasizes that if you cannot sing, then don’t.

    This isn’t the only list. There might be other church volunteer services available depending on the church. For example, my church sold books, CDs, and DVDs before and after service. There was a volunteer service for that. (If you ever volunteered for a church, whether you’re a Christian or were, I’d love to read about some of your experiences if you’re willing to share.)

    Mr. Turner also reveals two truths that I find myself in agreement with when volunteering for church services. One is that Christians are a group of people that are unpleasant to work with. Another, sexism isn’t out of the question for many church leaders. But this isn’t much of a problem when you multi-church, which is the practice of having more than one church. Perhaps one church is only good in one area, and you need more of god’s word (however, reading a good book is a much better option in my opinion). There are five benefits to "multi-churching".

    1. Options- Your schedule is more flexible when you have an array of churches to choose from that offer services every hour of the day.
    2. Faith Differences- Because we all know that Christianity has many different sects. Nobody of any sect can point a finger now.
    3. Youth Programs- Your child now has more options to choose from.
    4. Teaching- You can develop more opinions of your own when you have various “teachers”. However, I’d like to recommend reading literature not just relating to Christianity to get a real solid view of the world.
    5. Relationships and Community- You get to meet many different types of people, with different opinions than yours.

    I thought church involvement would make me a well-rounded Christian. I didn’t want to displease god. I wanted to be the best Christian I could be.

    However, when I decided to research other world views that weren’t mine, I learned more than I ever did sitting in the pew every Sunday. Even if you’re a Christian, or any other follower of a different religion, I recommend joining a community with people who don’t think like you.

    Perhaps they can offer you something more than your pastor may be able to- being able to acknowledge that there are other people in this world with their own convictions, their own flaws, but also their own beauty and place in the world(whether they believe in your god or not).