Friday, December 24, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday religion report--FFRF doesn't mind sharing the Christmas season with believers!

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), an organization apparently formed to confirm Bill O'Reilly's worst suspicions about the left vs. religion, has told the press, “We nonbelievers don’t mind sharing the season with Christians." That is so very, very big of them. I'd even say "very Christian," but we won't go there.

Granted, they (the FFRF) said this back in December of 2008, but I'm assuming their generous season-sharing offer still stands. Can we take this to mean that, once every year at Line-Material-mas, these fearless activists--all of them way smarter and way better versed in logic and reason than we average morons--take a temporary break from filing lawsuits against public religious displays, carols in public schools, nursing home residents being forced to sing Amazing Grace during lobby and lunch hall meetings, and similar atrocities? No, probably not. It likely merely means they have no intention of ever suing the holiday itself. Astonishing, really, given the group's sheer, robotic hatred of religion, memorably expressed in stilted secularist English on a well-known FFRF sign: "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

Our founders obviously agreed. Why else would they have gone to such trouble to nurture the growth of this mind- and heart-hardening institution within our democracy? The FFRF, again: "Our Constitution was very purposefully written to be a godless document, whose only references to religion are exclusionary." Ah, yes. Nothing excludes religion from a democracy more effectively than promoting its plurality.

Of course, we can expect such brilliance from a group whose list of broadly-grinning honorary officers includes intellectual heavyweights like Ron Reagan, Julia Sweeney, and celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins.

Freedom from religion is typically described by cyber-secularists as the flip side of freedom of religion, and this may be my favorite disconnect of the lot. Think about it--we're talking a freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment (plus the no-religious-test clause) in addition to four other freedoms, including f. of speech and the press. What is the opposite/flip side of a guaranteed freedom? The absence of that freedom, of course--as any smart fourth-grader should be able to deduce. Maybe the FFRF should hire some of those.

And if freedom from religion is somehow implied by freedom of..., then does our Constitution also guarantee freedom from the press? And freedom from speech?

Now, I don't know that the FFRF or similar outfits ultimately have the power to do much harm to religion--after all, Americans aren't going to chuck their faith because a cadre of media-bright, lawsuit-happy blowhards insist on misreading the establishment clause as a gag order on faith. And our democracy, while virtually defenseless against greed, isn't nearly as easily taken down by stupidity. (Otherwise, it would have expired ages ago.) But such slow learners shouldn't be allowed to present themselves as the voice of reason, liberalism, and so on, and a smarter media would be lampooning such individuals, not shilling for their cause. The FFRF members are entitled to see themselves as keepers of our Constitution, but no one else is required to tip-toe around that delusion.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

This week, apparently, has been MBORW

This must be Misunderstand the Bill of Rights Week. At the risk of going against some wildly popular received ideas, let me state that the First Amendment does NOT guarantee the right to say bigoted things on the air and not get fired by NPR. Unless, of course, you don't work for them in the first place. Nor does it forbid newspapers from listing the religious preferences of candidates. Those are two things the First Amendment does not do.

Oh, and it also does not ban "religious symbols" in public. Nor require people of faith to keep our silly, Bronze Age superstitions out of "your" Constitution and public schools.

So, does that mean I'm allowed to inject those things into "your" democracy? Not at all. But I don't have any such power to begin with, do I? What would be the point of a document which bans me from, say, teaching a creation myth as science? "Lee is not allowed to teach creation myths as if they were science." Nope--noplace in the F.A. does this appear.

But guess what does appear? Two simple words: "Congress shall...." Congress, meaning the government. Ahhhhhhhh. Now we see. It's the government that's required to maintain neutrality regarding faith. It's the government that's not allowed to either promote or impede faith. Which, of course, means that public schools shouldn't be teaching religion as science, for one. Why? Because that would 1) shoot the neutrality principle to Heck, and 2) it wouldn't be very science-friendly.

Now, I suppose that, when someone tells me I have to keep "my" religion out of "their" Constitution, etc., I can reply, "No, it's the government that isn't allowed to promote or get in the way of religion--and, last time I checked, I'm not the government." I haven't tried it yet, but I'm sure it'll go over really well.

Why do I bring up points so blatantly, comically obvious? Because we have a folk First Amendment floating around, and it sometimes seems as if more people read IT than the actual document. With the Internet in our midst to speed up and virtually perfect the spread of misinformation, the situation is made that much more toxic. The Internet, of course, is that place where Bill-told-me-so-and-so trumps such boring alternatives as studying up on a topic by using a reliable, expert source. Sooooo Establishment.

The triumph of the folk First Amendment over the one written by our founders is not a trend to cheer, needless to say. It may help answer the question of why we, as Americans, think nothing of assisting the wealthy in pulling the handle on our basic rights--after all, if we don't even know what our basic rights consist of, how will we even notice their absence?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cats, cats, everywhere

The cast o' cats: Griff, Perry, Aim and Rosie, Rosie, Alphonso

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Spams, Scams

So, in my other email account, two memorable pieces of spam:

(No Subject)

Sure, I'll update me PayPal account right away. Just give me a second to sign in to my PayPal account through its (as opposed to "PayPal Inc."'s) link. (sign, sign, sign) Well, how about that? Not a word about needing to update. Must have been a mistake. Oh, well. They happen.

Meanwhile, in my primary email account, I've gotten three offers to sponsor ads (and, in one instance, "content") from and for other sites, all while promoting the sites in question. In return for doing so, I get zilch. Man, what a deal! Sign me up.

One place wants me to go to its site and register. No obligation, though. Ah, but I do feel an obligation--to utterly blow them off.

Two of the sites are those space-eating affairs which link to other links, which in turn link to links that link to other links. Links of links. I'm on a "50 best music blogs" list at one of them. In return for this honor, I'm supposed to plug that site and promote the other blogs on its list. Yeah, sure. Sounds groovy.

So, one site has content for me to repeat (Which is great, since I have so little of my own), and the other has me on a 50-best list, and the third promises to promote me in some way in return for giving it a free, permanent link. You'll notice I haven't mentioned any of them by name, and I won't. Not that I don't recognize the vastly important work they're doing in subverting any useful purpose to cyberspace by turning it into a vast link to nowhere, but they can trash the place without my input. I have faith in them.

What a great get-rich idea--going on the Internet. "I know, let's go on the Internet and make money." "What do we do when we're there?" "Nothing. We just go on the Internet. And make money." "Doing what?" "Going on the Internet."

This post sponsored by CLONED-ROLEXES.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Huffington Post to cover "religion." Or, Huffington Post to "cover" religion.

Huffington Post has announced (ta-daaaa!!) a new section called "HuffPost Religion." Sure enough, the section--described by Arianna Huffington as "home to an open and fearless dialogue about all the ways religion affects both our personal and our public lives"--is up and running. And who is better qualified to sponsor such a "fearless dialogue"? This is, after all, the site that (four years back) published the Sam Harris essay "Science Must Destroy Religion." I can't think of any move half as logical, except maybe starting a feminist blog at a biker website.

But so far all we're getting, comment-section-wise, are the standard, phoned-in condemnations of "organized" (read: your parents') religion, few of them having squat to do with any actual topic raised--the "free thinkers" who populate the comment threads are certainly masters of the art of free-form (some might say, non sequitur) response. As ever, the cracks are about 9 to 1 in opposition to faith, and, blog-wise, there's no shortage of patronizing essays by scientists and such who revel in their presumed evolutionary superiority to mere regular humans. Many of these win all of their arguments using the ingenious method of refusing to consider any input that isn't theirs. Brilliant-person's License, I guess.

So, naturally, there have been non-stop complaints about an overwhelming pro-faith bias at the site. I'm not sure whether to describe such a disconnect as infinite or perpetual. Maybe "Huff-Postian."

Anyway, Arianna is convinced that some huge faith-vs.-science debate is taking place in America, or even across the globe, and I guess no one has the heart (or nerve?) to inform her that the issue is completely media-invented. In real life, most Americans are religious; meanwhile, in the same real life, science progresses by leaps and bounds. But where's the debate potential in that? Besides, we have best-sellers postulating the presence of such a species-defining conflict, and best-sellers never lie. And, we must admit, the U.S. is highly not pro-science in attitude. But guess what? In the U.S. we find the exact same lack of popular support for any kind of education, or any kind of spending that doesn't stuff the pockets of the "haves." Lack of regard for science is merely the tip of the lack-of-public-support iceberg. And, again, science is still holding up, and better than many streets and bridges across the land.

Not that Arianna's site--which plays host to the warped wisdom of Deepak Chopra, claims for crank remedies like body cleansing, anti-psychiatry essays, and the like--is very pro-science.

But, genuine debate or not, 'Po should have realized long ago that nothing amounting to conversation, meaningful or otherwise, takes place on their Religion "page." My best guess is that the site is trying for cyber-brownie points, and with no concern for actual results. Which makes the participation of folks like Paul Raushenbush and Jim Wallis practically shameful. This believer would take a pro-wrestling endorsement of his faith to a hundred HuffPost religion "dialogues."

Saturday, February 27, 2010