Friday, December 28, 2012

The Random New Year

Call me a stodge, but I won't stay up to see the new year turn to 2013.

Part of it is, quite frankly, that I just don't have the room to sacrifice the extra sleep. Lately I've been on a pretty hardcore program of exercise -- more on that in a future post, maybe in a few weeks -- and by about 9PM most nights, it's lights out for the soma, if not for the household. I should add that even in prior years, we didn't stay up because the loss of sleep wasn't worth the effort.

What effort, in fact? The cynic in me says: The effort of observing what amounts to the passage of an arbitrarily designated measurement of time; and the shallow entertainments that go with it. Is it worth missing sleep over? No, not really.

Let's face it: Had it been so designed, the "new year" could have started on March 31 at 2 PM, or on June 3 at 10 PM, or on September 16 at 5 AM. We could even change things now so it'd be that way. The New Year is a moveable feast; it's not tied to any event in the past (like Washington's birthday), and the designation of new days starting at midnight is itself an artificiality of our timekeeping system.

In the social world of the Bible, and in many cultures, the main observance of time isn't chronos, but kairos. That means not measurement, but opportunity. You do things when time gives you the chance to do them, not when the clock hits 12. (Imagine that -- turning into a pumpkin because you didn't get X done, rather than because you didn't get X done by Y time.) I think there's a certain wisdom in this method, as it seems so much of our modern stress has to do with those artificialities of measured time.

Of course, in many ways I'm given no choice but to live by the demands of chronos. The Christian Research Journal wouldn't be very happy if I observed a kairos rather than a chronos deadline. But I have found that I can live by kairos instead of chronos in many ways, and can say this much: It's less stress on the mind, body and spirit.

Observe the New Year chronos? No thanks. But we'll observe it by kairos in a way we often do -- with some light snacks, a relaxed evening, and lights out by 10PM at the latest.

See you next year.

 

Friday, December 21, 2012

The End of the World for Christmas

I'm taking some time off for the next few days, but in celebration of today's Mayan Apocalypse (brought to you by the same firm that brought you Harold Camping), here's a vid I made for one of my YouTube channels.

 

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Drive By Irrelevancy



For this week’s Forge post we have another example for Adventures in Pointless Exercising by YouTube Fundy Atheists.


Here’s a  comment that was made this week by one such styled “wasup265”:


1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Wow, how nice of God to deny a gay person heaven for something that wasn't ever a choice in the first place. Also, how nice of him to command the death of those people as well. Isn't it funny that modern society has become more moral and tolerant than your God?


Now here’s a question. Where do you suppose he posted this on my channel?


On my vid on homosexuality? That would be a good guess. Except I don’t have any vids on homosexuality.


Try this one:




It won’t take you long before you scratch your head asking, as I did, “What’s any of that got to do with 1 Cor. 6:9-11, gay people going to heaven, or OT penalties against homosexuality?”


And of course, it has nothing to do with any of that. Historical references to the parting of the Temple curtain at Jesus’ crucifixion has as much relevance to those issues as the mating habits of the snail darter.


That’s something else typical of YT fundy atheists. Not just the vacuous sermonette, but the drive-by irrelevant comment. I’m guessing wasup265 has some sort of personal hobby horse he likes to ride, so he feels the need to vomit forth with irrelevant complaints like this one when he can’t figure out how to respond to the arguments the vid is actually making. Call it a case of hurling the elephant, except all they throw is one hair off of the elephant’s posterior.


It’s not for no reason that I closely moderate comments on TektonTV.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Church's Epic Fail

I saw a news item the other day on Hurricane Sandy victims which brought home a point I made here once before some years back. The interviewee, a man who had a good deal of his property lost and damaged, remarked that the government and other major organizations like Red Cross had done little or nothing for him, or had only done what they did in a manner that was less than timely. It was small groups that had really done the job of helping people in a timely fashion.

Naturally I won't presume to expand a single man's account to a widespread pattern. But it does bring to mind again the point that the government has stepped in to various places precisely because the church hasn't done its job.

Let's consider for a moment how life in America might be different if the church did do (or had done) its job.

We wouldn't have needed Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid -- because Christian organizations would be taking care of the needs those represent.

We wouldn't need unemployment benefits from the government, or food stamps, or even welfare, because churches and Christian groups would provide for the needs those represent.

Since we wouldn't need all of those programs, we wouldn't be facing the so-called "fiscal cliff." We also would have a lot lower taxes -- and there wouldn't be harangues about raising taxes on the rich. Well, not the Christian rich, anyway, because they'd all be something on the order of what is called "reverse tithers."

We wouldn't have big issues over abortion. Some of the chief arguments of the pro-choice coterie -- such as that a woman would not be able to support a child, so it is better off aborted -- would be emasculated. We'd also have a lot more moral authority and credibility on issues like gay marriage, and pornography, and capital punishment.

We'd be without Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, and so many other "prosperity" or feelgood preachers, because we wouldn't be seeing Christianity as a therapeutic tool.

(Hmm. Getting rid of Meyer and Hinn, and all those others? That ought to really motivate us!)

We as Christians wouldn't need private insurance -- not for health, not for property, not for any purpose. We wouldn't fear being bankrupted by a major medical emergency. Why? Because like the early church, our resources would be at the disposal of those in need.

We'd carefully tend our resources, and issues concerning the environment would virtually disappear. I expect we'd all drive a hybrid at the least, and that wind and solar power would have been in much greater use.

If this all sounds too good to be true, well, of course, it assumes a lot. It assumes widespread success in what all too many have failed at, which is following the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament. But that's sort of the point, isn't it? The church HAS failed in so many large ways to enact what Jesus taught us; and who can blame everyone else for stepping in to do the job?

In the biography of Ulysses S. Grant I read, it told of how Grant was asked by an aide if some government funds ought to be set aside for some farmers who had been struck by disaster. Grant turned the request down, reasoning that those farmers would get aid from their neighbors.

It's too bad Barack Obama doesn't have the luxury of making such a reply today.


Friday, November 16, 2012

The Vacuous Sermonette



The Forge will be off for a couple of weeks, one for the holiday and the other because my USDA job wants me to attend a school for learning how to use an iPad. Which means, I get to sit there and listen to someone explain to me for hours how to do something I already know how to do. But for all of that, let’s send the Forge off with a bang.

The subject is this vid I recently loaded on tektontv:


It took some time, but Sam Harris fanatics eventually found it – and gave me a perfect opportunity to discuss a fave tactic of fundy atheists: the vacuous off-topic sermonette. 

What do I mean by that? Well, check some of these comments on the vid:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. - Richard Dawkins

Nailed it. The devil was a saint compared to god. Silly people, myths are for kids.

**

Come on! How can anyone arrive at the conclusion that the bible s correct? Surely, you wouldn't believe that if it wasn't in your interest to do so. You believe it because it offers you hope and provides you with comfort. That's great but don't use the word truth to define it.

 **

This video still doesn't take away the fact that there are some barbaric sayings in the bible to begin with. Yeah, of course people can speculate about whether something was a "metaphor," or meant to be taken literally. But that is besides the point. If God is supposed to be omni-benevolent, as well as all powerful, then why have the confusion in the first place? He enjoys watching humans fumble around for meaning, and if they guess wrong, they are punished for it? It's all really bizarre.

**

Spin away, you ridiculous loser - it says what it says, and this is only one example among many. I'll bet you that not one in a million xians has the faintest clue about your tortured "reasoning" and will take this at face value, making even more tortured excuses for it! Your only saving grace, as it were, is that you can't be a biblical literalist.

**
Why are we even debating the scribbles of people from the Bronze age? When no one had any answers. No idea what caused crops to fail, weather patterns, celestial events, disease, atoms, gravity. Yet people believe that the all mighty omniscient God visited only these people in the desert, one time in history? This is so wildly insane and illogical that only a baseless, fact free, 'faith' could ever lead you to believe a word of this book as truth.

**

Sugar coat it and put a pretty face on it but it still doesnt hide the barbaric nature of the culture that wrote the bible. The bible is obsolete, written by desert dwellers with delusions and sheeple still lap it up as a word of god.


Notice something missing? Give yourself a steak dinner if you guessed, “they didn’t even touch the arguments in the vid.” That’s right. The vid is filled with details about things like the dramatic orientation of the Biblical world, human psychology, and so on. But not one fundy atheist deigned to address any specific point in the vid. Not one fundy atheist, not one point.

Not all were long-winded. Some were short, but no better at addressing arguments:

Tell me this is a joke...

**

STRAWMAN! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! The stupid, it burns!

And here was the funniest of all:

Euthyphro's Dilemma.

Yes, that was it. What that was supposed to have to do with anything, I can’t say.
I re-read Keen’s book Cult of the Amateur this past week, and I know what’s going on. It’s not that hard to discern. Basically, a vid that presents such complex concepts is too far over the head of the typical fundy atheist – leaving them little alternative but to resort to pre-fabricated speeches or dismissive sound bites. Do we expect them to actually argue something like, “Well, no, their world wasn’t one of dramatic orientation”? Or, “the literalist reading of Ps. 137:9 is better because…”?

Perish the thought. Because their thoughts perished long ago.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Election Post Mortem

Now that another election has passed, I have some followup on a post I did last major election season two years ago (see link below).

I’ll start with an oddity I discovered this morning that I’m trying to resolve. Last time I noted that we lived just 9 houses in to a district run by a politician I called “Porky”, and that distance away from a district run by Daniel Webster, a rather genteel politician whose district we would have preferred to be in. Much to our surprise, we found that for 2012, Webster was on the ballot as the option for our US rep, against a Democratic challenger who likely would have been only slightly less effective. It was a much nicer race than Webster vs Grayson, to be sure, and we likely would have been happy with either of them winning.

But wait a minute. I checked our political map this morning, the one right from the US Government website…and it says we’re still part of Porky’s district.

Uh – what?

I’m hoping this simply means the Government website hasn’t been updated after redistricting yet. I’d hate to start another political scandal here in Florida.

More seriously, although I won’t discuss politics in depth here, I will offer some observations relevant to one of our themes here -- that of the ease of spreading misinformation.

Like many of you, especially in swing states, we got the obligatory pile of junk mail begging for our vote. (Not even the candidates who claim to be friendly to the environment seem to be able to stop sending those.) One of these concerned Webster, and was sent by what I assume was a PAC; it was not from his opponents’ campaign. It featured a picture of an SUV driving over Florida’s state line, and arrows labeled with things like “assault rifle” and “ammo for rifle,” etc. The charge on the flyer said, in effect, Daniel Webster supported a bill to allow violent criminals and sexual offenders to bring dangerous weapons like these into Florida.

From this, you might think they mean someone actually posted and sponsored a bill that directly said, “Bill to Allow Convicted Criminals to Bring Assault Rifles From Other States” and that Webster voted for it. That seemed way out of line, as did many such claims on these flyers, but just for fun, and knowing that something of that nature would be far out of character for what we knew of Webster, I decided to check it out.

Rather brazenly, the flyer included a bill reference – which I can tell they didn’t expect people to look up. Why? Because once you did so, it became clear even to someone as ignorant as a fundy atheist that the bill said no such thing.
Rather, the bill was (generally speaking) a proposal that Florida allow those who have guns in other states to be able to observe the laws of their home state concerning guns while they were in Florida. 

Now, arguably, it could be said, that MIGHT mean that if there were another state with much less strict gun laws (say, where a convicted criminal was allowed to have an assault rifle legally!), this MIGHT allow said criminal to bring in his rifle, and as a result of this permissive attitude (we assume) start firing away at innocent citizens. I’ll pare that down further by noting that technically, this only matters if said state that said criminal comes from or through is either Georgia or Alabama – which alone border on Florida. And then we have to ask why either GA or AL is allowing felons to have assault rifles in the first place.

Now, let me make this clear – on the surface, I’m not sure I’d support such a law anyway, even as stated. I’d have to do some serious research (if I were a US representative) before deciding on that. The point here has to do with the  brazen assumption by the distributors of this flyer that they can so easily get away with such a remarkable “spin”.

Of course they can. In the Wikipedia Age, they can rightly expect that less than 1 percent of those who receive the flyer will look up that reference. (Which is not always insignificant, of course – as in this case, where Webster won his race 52-48 percent.) And why not, when the same thing can be said of nonsense claims made by everyone from Acharya S to Jack Chick? Hardly anyone looks up the claims of these wackos. They either dismiss it or swallow it, and on we go.

Just one more reason why every election season, I’m sorely tempted to write in “Donald Duck” as a candidate for every post.