Monday, March 25, 2013
Tonight is the first night of Passover. There was a time in my life when Passover actually meant something meaningful and good to me. According to the Jewish faith, Passover commemorates the Israelites release from slavery in Egypt as told in Exodus.
We’d gather as a family - aunts, uncles, cousins et al, - and share the “Seder”, the Passover meal. As the youngest child, it was my solemn duty to ask the “four questions” which were answered by my father. Among the questions was “Why is this night different from all other nights.” The answers, along with all the other facets of the Judaic fable, were all lies.
You’ll recall from watching The Charlton Heston, Yule Brenner movie “The Ten Commandments”, that Moses went to Pharaoh and asked him to let his people go on multiple occasions; but each time “God hardened the Pharaohs’ heart” against the Jews and he refused to release them, only to have his nation punished by ten of God’s successively more hideous plagues. For the final coup de gras punishment God sent down the angel of death to kill all the first born of Egypt, culminating in the deaths of perhaps millions of Egyptians from infants to old people.
The good news is that the angel of death, evidently lacking “Jew-dar” (the Jew detecting version of “gay-dar”) was clued into where the Israelite homes were by the lamb’s blood the Jews smeared on their door lintels at Moses’ direction . The Jewish first born were thus spared. The angel of death “passed over” their houses. How nice. The story is so delightful to Jewish believers that if you Google “Passover plagues” you’ll find lots of happy children’s images celebrating the ten plagues. The picture above is one of them.
The faithful, be they Jew or Christian, never want to question this story, subject it to some reasoned inquiry. The fact is that the “four questions” that every thinking Jew and gentile should be asking are these:
“If God gives free will, why did God intentionally influence the Pharaoh’s decision to reject Moses’ pleas for freedom multiple times by ‘hardening’ his heart?”
“If God is omniscient, and knew that Pharaoh would only release the Jews following the mass genocide of Egyptian first born, why didn’t he just jump directly to the ultimate mass murder and avoid the other theatrics of locust, and hail, a bloody Nile, etc?”
”If god is Omni-beneficent, all merciful, why sacrifice so many innocents to prove his point? After all, after many plagues the people of Egypt implored the Pharaoh to let the Jews go. Why not just destroy the House of the Pharaoh, the priests and advisors, and Pharaoh himself, or better yet, simply appear in the sky and threaten destruction personally?”
”If the story were true, how is it that the Old Testament story is not corroborated by one monument, not one papyrus, not one etching or shard of data by the hand of a single Egyptian; a civilization famous for their detailed record keeping and devotion to commemorating historical events- or a single visiting Greek?”
The fact is these aren’t things the religious want to consider. And while thousands of apologists have written tens of thousands of pages of justification for these contradictions, they are no more on the critical thinking radar screen of believers than is questioning how the sun stopped in the sky over the battle of Jericho without causing the natural disasters that would have ensued had the earth stopped spinning.
You’d at least think that a people who admire and respect education, who have themselves been persecuted and subjected to genocide at the hands of their fellow God fearing religionists, would be rather circumspect about celebrating the torture and destruction of millions of innocent lives. But I suppose when one has been a victim so long and so often that it’s a lot easier to accept the victimization of others without much concern. After all, it’s all good … that time it was “God’s will.”
I could just image the answer my father would have given if I had posed those “revised” Passover questions during the Passover Seder: “Shut the hell up ya little pisher, and pass the brisket!”.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
T.J. Lane was seventeen years old in February of 2012, when he brought a .22 pistol to his high school and killed three of his classmates in cold blood; two boys sixteen years old, one seventeen. He was convicted of murder.
At sentencing he wore a T-shirt to court with the word “Killer” scrawled on it and made the following statement: "The hand that pulls the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to the memory," he said, then cursed at and raised his middle finger toward the victims' relatives.
Because of his age he could not be sentenced to death for the premeditated mass murder. The judge sentenced him to life without parole. Whole story here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/tj-lane-sentenced-to-life-chardon_n_2907540.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular
I do not think all murderers deserve the death penalty. But if ever there was a justification for capital punishment the conduct of Lane is it, irrespective of his age. I look at this from a purely pragmatic perspective, sans emotion. Simply put: any one who compounds the pain that their crime caused the victims’ families, and society by imposing incremental mental anguish on the survivors above and beyond the brutal act itself, is beyond redemption, beyond the realm of deserving of sympathy, compassion or mercy.
Such a person has divested himself of all humanity, surrendered that which makes a human better than a mindless predatory animal that kills on blind instinct, and thus forfeits any manner of mercy or consideration. Permitting such a person the continued benefits of life, such as they are in prison, can no more be justified than permitting a rabid dog to live.
My position was criticized by a facebook friend in that he perceived my position to be founded on religious precepts; that my expectation that such a criminal should pay the ultimate price is “…about punishment and wanting people to pay their penance and suffer for their crime … a religious notion.”
Punishment is in deed part of our judicial system, and necessary to signal to society that extreme divergence from societal norms will not be tolerated; and that the severity of the penalty will fit the severity of the crime(s). Capital punishment was employed well before the Abrahamic religions, before the first monotheistic religion in Egypt, and before the invoking of God/or gods for meting out punishment for violation of civil law.
The US Conference of Bishops opposes capital punishment, and the Catholic Church has, since 1997, revised the Catechism and opposes it in almost every instance. Further there are very few examples of the death penalty being imposed by Jewish Law in rabbinic times. Israel outlawed the death penalty, except for Nazi war criminals, in 1954. No, if anything, objection to capital punishment is more in line with the Western religionist concept of human-centric thinking, viewing the human species as "sacred" and worthy of more consideration than a violent mindless animal species.
The" boy" in question is a mass murderer, seemingly incapable of connecting with that part of the psyche that would, in the vast majority of humanity, at least not seek to heap pain upon the innocent suffering victims of his crime after the fact.. He's incapable of feeling remorse; incapable of asking for forgiveness; unable to even empathize with the victim’s families, preferring to heap insult on injury that will never heal. He has admitted he derives satisfaction from his actions and thus is utterly ill suited for living along side humans who possess even a modicum of humanity ... that includes other inmates. The wantonness of his anti-social acts exemplifies the kind of person for whom forfeiture of ones life is justified, the reason the death penalty exists.
One can disagree. One can dismiss the death penalty as archaic, barbaric and inhumane. I understand that perspective, and respect it, albeit I disagree. But, let’s leave labeling religiosity as the driving force behind an atheist advocating for capital punishment out of the argument, because at best invoking religiosity in this discourse is a double edged sword.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Chances are you’d be expecting a comment on the new Pope. Nope. Had enough of that idiocy to last another 5-8 years before the new old fool dies off.
Instead, I am proud (?) to report that I had an exclusive interview with another newly elected leader who also has millions (or thousands) of devoted followers, but the news of which was over shadowed by the Pope’s election. I’m speaking of the newly appointed head of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA).
While his real name is a secret, as the senior most official of NAMBLA he has taken on the symbolic name of “Father Jerry.” The interview was conducted via Skype from an undisclosed location.
Hump: First let me say that while I am disgusted with you, your organization, and everything you stand for, I am nevertheless appreciative for this exclusive interview.
Father Jerry: Hey, look… we’re just doin what comes naturally for men who avoid sex with consenting adults.
Hump: So you don’t see this at all as a great evil, seducing and raping young boys?
Father Jerry: Oh my Lord, not at all. Fact is we see this as normal as the day is long. After all, the Lord gave us free will, and our boys are free to participate or not.
Hump: You keep referencing “the Lord”, I assume you mean God/Jesus. Are you saying you are religious and following God’s will?
FJ: Well of course, my son. Why do you think I have the title of “Father.” We’ve learned from the best. Using a fatherly figure to attract and manipulate our vict…I mean… our loving boy partners, has been a tried and true technique for centuries in many parts of the world.
Hump: I’m not your son; and I’m old enough to be your older & saner sibling.
FJ: Sorry, force of habit. Get it? Habit? HABIT? Like what I’m wearing now.
Hump: Yeah, I get it. So what’s with the brown robe, rope belt and Prada loafers?
FJ: Oh, well… it gives a more dignified appearance, you know, sort of exalted. It builds trust while at the same time implying our connection to a higher authority. Hey, we learn from the best. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, I always say.
Hump: So you’re saying you have assumed a religious attire to emulate clergymen. You’re not only child molesters, and perverts…you’re phonies, charlatans and liars.
FJ: Whoa… that’s a little harsh. After all, many of our members ARE men of God; ministers, pastors, youth pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, Princes of the Church even. So those of us who are not ordained do feel a particularly strong connection to the calling if only by virtue of our close association with the ministry and our shared interests. We dress the part to win their trust to better anoint our children with our special blessings. It’s all good, no law against dressing the part. And given the clergy’s record, it’s not like we’re besmirching their name, right?
Hump: Yeah, I suppose you aren’t doing the clergy any great injustice. So, moving on … you were elected by the members of NAMBLA yesterday. How does that work, and how do you feel about it having been overshadowed by the Pope’s election?
FJ: The head of the organization serves for life, or until he resigns or is arrested. Our last leader was up for promotional consideration at his work, and just got the job, so he had to resign. We’re happy for Jorge. As far as being over shadowed, well, we kinda work in the shadows if you get my drift.
So, we called a meeting of all of the senior members… 117 of them to be exact. We lock them in the basement of one of our wealthier member’s parish house; supply them with paper and pencil, Viagra, and three dozen young boys who were attracted by our vast collection of Legos and video games.
In between the usual activities votes are cast to determine who has shown the highest degree of humility, passion, devotion to the Truth of our credo, and credibility that they will never change a darn thing about who or what we do and to whom. If we can’t get a 2/3rds majority on the first vote, we burn one of the boy’s underwear in the furnace. This goes on until we have the necessary majority vote. On the third vote it was me.
Then I don the special robe of Chief Molester and conference in our membership on Skype. It’s a big deal. Lots of waving and cheers, and even some tears of those who wish they had been here to at least witness the pre-vote festivities. And there ya have it.
Hump: Sounds sick, and strangely familiar.
FJ: Right on both counts. Now, if there will be no other questions, I am giving my blessing to a local children’s shelter around the block, and I don’t want to be late. Their knees may get sore waiting.
Hump: They’re praying?
FJ: Not exactly.
Hump: You’re a disgusting disgrace to humanity.
FJ: Grace, disgrace…what’s the difference? If you got a problem, go talk to your chaplain, he'll set you straight . I gotta go, I took a Viagra three and a half hour ago and only have thirty-minutes left before I have to seek medical attention.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Yes, that’s right. I have been able to get my camel toes on the actual form the Cardinals have been filling out over the past few days as a precursor to the beginning of the Conclave to elect the new pope. I have reprinted it below along with the scoring matrix.
Each cardinal had to submit this form prior to entry into the conclave. It identifies the unique qualifications that every candidate for the position of pope should have.
Keeping in mind that any baptized catholic could qualify for the papal office, if any of my readers are lapsed Catholics, you may want to fill it in and fax it to the Vatican immediately for consideration. Good luck:
PAPAL QUALIFICATION QUESTIONAIRE FOR POSITION OF HOLY SEE
1. Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Nazi Party, or Nazi Youth, worked in a German concentration camp, or hated Jews.
2. Have you ever molested a child prior to or during your priesthood or any time since your ordination?
3. As a priest, monsignor , Bishop, or Cardinal, have you ever been privy to child molestations/improper sexual conduct by a fellow Catholic clergy and failed to report it to the authorities, and instead covered it up, or reassigned said person to another Archdiocese?
4. Would it be fair to say your view of women is misogynistic, that is, that they should be subject to the rule of men, especially men of the cloth; and that equality of the sexes is an affront to God and God’s messenger St. Paul?
5. Do you agree that homosexuality is an abomination unto God, that it must be opposed by the Church, and condemned from the pulpit?
6. Have you yourself had sexual relations with a fellow male member of the Catholic Clergy?
7. Do you agree that condoms spread the disease they call AIDS, and that their use should be condemned by the Church, doubly so in 3rd world nations where the Church membership is growing exponentially?
8. In a situation where allowing a malformed fetus to be born, which will live for less than an hour and whose birth would most certainly result in the death of the mother who already has two other young children, would you deny that woman the abortion that would save her life?
9. Do you agree that in the United States politicking from the pulpit is not only your duty, but your God given right, irrespective of the fact it is a violation of the IRS’ tax exemption for the Church?
10. If faced with a financial impropriety in the Vatican Bank, would you refuse any regulatory body the right to access records and audit it for misuse of funds, or money laundering?
11. Do you agree that exorcism is as important now as it was in the Middle Ages, because demons are real and infect people with their evil; and reject the possibility that there are psychological or physiological causes for said “possessions” that should be referred to medical professionals?
12. If it were politically beneficial to the Church to canonize an otherwise evil, hideous, and grotesque person, and support their beatification and sainthood, would you do it without second thought?
13. Would you excommunicate a nun who supports giving an abortion to the mother in question 8 above, and/or who supports more latitude for nun’s in the role of the church, and/or who accept homosexuality as normal and God’s will?
14. Do you agree that it would never be appropriate to ever excommunicate a clergy child molester, clergy cover-up conspirator, or a Nazi Party war criminal?
15. Are you from a predominantly white, non-Hispanic country/culture?
By my signature I swear before the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that my answers are true and in accordance with my deeply held beliefs.
Scoring: 5 points for each YES answer / 0 points for each NO answer
0 – 20 points: You’re probably not even Catholic…go home.
25- 50 points: You’ve got much to learn, Father.
55- 70 points: Maybe next time, you have potential.
75 points: YOUR HOLINESS!!!
Sunday, March 3, 2013
This is going to be a very short article. As soon as I finish it I am going back into mourning for the utter demise of human dignity and reason.
After having posted a dromedarian screed to a Huffington Post story decrying Pope Benedict’s grotesque lie to 3rd world people in Africa that condoms spreads AIDS, I was treated to two defenses of the pope by devout Catholics.
The first one reprimanded me for focusing in on such a small detail when “everyone knows” that there is a “multinational conspiracy” to spread AIDS throughout Africa, especially among the miners in South Africa, and that should be my real concern if I really cared about AIDS among the African people.
The second Catholic’s admonishment was this:
“Condoms are against God’s plan for creation. His Holiness cares more for saving the eternal souls of those people so they can enter the Kingdom of God than about saving their mortal bodies, as well he should.”
Perhaps as I approach my dotage my ability or desire to respond to these things has been blunted. Maybe I’ve reached the point where I realize that ripping a new asshole for people this far beyond the pale is futile. Or possibly I just can’t formulate the words that would adequately express the breadth of my horror and intensity of my disgust when confronted by the unbridled and limitless insanity and inhumanity that religion brings. Whatever the cause, I was overwhelmed, saddened and left speechless.
I mourn for mankind.