In Religion, William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on December 1, 2013 at 5:40 am
From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
If we are fortunate, at some point before we die, we can discover WONDER. For we who have become so preoccupied with gaining and spending, with winning and losing, have lost sight of the miracles around us. Wonder is the capacity of sustained joy and awe. Wonder is a sense of freshness and spontaneity. Every day is a surprise party. Life is a cafeteria of delights, a new flower, a hummingbird hovering, a cucumber cucumbering.
To sense the ultimate in the common and in the rush of the passing, stillness in the eternal is to live with wonder, with “Ah.”
The purpose of religion for thousands of years has been More…
In Religion on November 24, 2013 at 8:45 am
As a newly de-converted Christian, I find ex-christian.net to be a uniquely comforting and refreshing lifeline. This is the only place I can candidly assume my self-proclaimed title: humanist agnostic. One question that often arises is how to muster the courage to “come out” to family and friends and own whatever label, best describes one’s new identity outside of faith. I’m grappling with the same conundrum. On one hand, what does it matter what thoughts, ideas and beliefs, my brain is generating? I’m still very much the same person my family and friends have come to know and love. I still spend time with my husband and six kids. I continue to enjoy teaching, composing music, cycling and kayaking. I’m active in my neighborhood and community. If I said nothing, my life would carry on the same way it has for decades, and no one would be the wiser. I can talk the Christian talk and walk the Christian walk with ease, as it has been my identity for over 40 years.
But here’s the problem. I’ve been hungrily devouring book after book from atheist writers, and I crave the freethinking podcasts, which fill up space on my iPod. Even my YouTube subscriptions are tainted with atheist content. But, sadly, all of this life altering, truth-seeking, reason-driven inquiry is done in secret, as if guarding a sordid and illicit affair. I’m in love with this new knowledge, but I can’t tell anyone about it. I really WANT to share what I’m learning with the rest of the world! I want to have open dialogue on Facebook. I want to “like” and “comment” on the juicy quotes from Robert Ingersoll or Sam Harris. But I can’t. More…
In Religion on November 10, 2013 at 8:50 am
From The Raw Story
Friday night on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow cast a critical eye toward former President George W. Bush’s decision to speak at the Messianic Bible Institute, the headquarters of the apocalyptic cult Jews for Jesus.
She compared what we know about Jews for Jesus with evidence of meetings held during the Bush presidency and said that one can only conclude that Bush was trying to bring about the Rapture and the apocalypse in order to hasten the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Mother Jones reported this week that George W. Bush is scheduled to address Jews for Jesus on Nov. 14. The sect is a conservative Christian splinter group that seeks to convert Jews to Christianity in hopes of bringing about the end of the world and the second coming.
The group was one of two apocalyptic Christian groups that met with George W. Bush’s principal Near East and North Africa advisor during the Bush presidency as reported by Rick Perlstein in 2004.
Apparently, Rapture-baiting, pro-apocalypse religious fanatics were holding sway over U.S. foreign policy before and during the War in Iraq, the War in Afghanistan and the rest of the Bush presidency. So it should come as no surprise that the former commander in chief is consorting with these groups in the wake of his presidency.
“It’s an amazing thing,” Maddow said. “I mean, everybody’s religious beliefs are their own, and by definition in this country, nobody’s religious beliefs are better than anyone else’s.”
If you agree with Jews for Jesus that all the Jews in the world should be converted to Christianity and then repatriated to Israel to bring on the apocalypse, Maddow said, that’s your business. More…
In Religion on November 10, 2013 at 8:24 am
The media failed to tell the real story of how we reached the shutdown and brink of default.
To get what’s happening to the GOP and, to America, you need to understand the theology of the extremist frankly stupid and misinformed evangelical heartland. We don’t have a political problem. We have an evangelical stupidity problem. The Republican Party has fallen into the grip of an evangelical-led group of religious fundamentalists who are either true believers or who know how to cater to them. Now the experience of the hostage taking these “Christians” did in the shutdown is over, it’s worth figuring out how things got so crazy because they will again– until we admit who and what is at the root of our political dysfunction.
In the late 19th Century a battle began between fundamentalists and liberal Protestant theologians. The battle between those who claimed to believe in the Bible literally and those who wanted to bring historic fact, science and nuance to their faith raged on into the 20th Century. By the mid 20th Century the liberals had won the argument but they lost the popular vote as it were. But for all its popularity fundamentalism was no longer intellectually respectable. So it was rebranded by a core group of image conscious preachers and evangelists as “evangelicalism” to take the edge off the scorn reserved for faith rooted in biblical literalism.
The echoes of the bitter theological battle left the evangelicals feeling embattled and adversarial. Then from the mid 20th Century forward, Billy Graham, and many other evangelicals (including my late evangelist father and religious right founder, Francis Schaeffer) convinced a huge swath of America to convert to born-again faith. While the evangelical camp grew the mainline denominations shrank. The fine print of conversion to a hot literal faith More…
In Please Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, Religion on October 6, 2013 at 10:30 am
I really wish I didn’t have to keep writing about this all the time on Horror Show Sunday, it’s a tragedy that I have to chronicle far too often, but here we go again. We remember Herbert and Catherine Schaible, who are being prosecuted for the murder of their second child who died of an easily treatable ailment while they just watched and prayed. We remember Jeffrey and Marci Beagley who were found criminally negligent when their teenage son Neil died of complications from an untreated urinary tract infection while they sat at home and prayed, rather than getting him the medical treatment he so desperately needed. There are dozens of other examples I could give, approximately 25 children die each and every year when their religious parents trust prayer over medicine.
[I could have been Neil. My father, a fundamentalist "faith healer" insisted prayer could heal me of my pneumonia when I was dying at ten years of age. Near death, with church people gathered in prayer, I yelled "call an ambulance, I need oxygen!" That broke the spell and I was rushed to a hospital and recovered. ~DS]
Here are another couple of unfortunate examples.
In 2012 in Albany, New York, Greg and JaLea Swezey were found guilty of child endangerment and sentenced to five years of probation after they allowed their 17 year old son Zachery to die More…
In Freethought, Religion on September 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm
From GODLESS IN DIXIE
Ancient civilizations used to believe that when a storm or a flood or an earthquake destroyed a village, it meant the gods (or one god in particular) were angry with that village. They would consult their holy men to discern what they had done to provoke the calamity, and he would prescribe the correct penitential path for the community (hint: it usually involved giving something up which benefited the holy man). As one of the Old Testament prophets once asked, “When disaster comes to a city, has not Yahweh caused it?” The seafarers who threw Jonah from their boat did so because they shared the belief that gods make storms and that they send them to punish someone for doing something wrong. Today because of modern science we understand that storms are caused by the collision of high pressure and low pressure atmospheric systems without any discernible correlation to the activities of the villagers below. We also understand that tectonic plates move beneath us in ways which cause volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and even tsunamis. You’ll be hard pressed to find any well-educated, civilized folks still denying the basic principles of either meteorology or tectonic plate theory. More…
In Freethought, Religion on September 7, 2013 at 9:10 am
From FREETHOUGHT BLOGS
I don’t like missionaries. I don’t like the idea of missionaries. The idea is simple. Go enlighten the blighted heathen and wow them with technology so that we can replace their unenlightened dark gods with our rape excusing, slavery begetting, incestuous, murderous god who is more civilised simply because we wear pants and they do not.
I understand that’s the older version of the missionary but the modern mission’s purpose is similar. Sure there may be more oversight and the emphasis has increased on helping people but the oversight is not there. And very often the miissionary doesn’t help so much as sweep into and out of their lives in a whirlwind of iPhones and temporary technology. Or worse, are so unfit for field work that they actually end up doing harm.
And no where is this seen as badly as in Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing International which is the subject of a documentary called Mission Congo.
The Congo holds a special place in my heart. I have never been. But I lost a friend there. More…
In Freethought, Religion on September 7, 2013 at 7:59 am
From FREETHOUGHT BLOGS
What awful, horrible people. And they’ve got a whole network full of them! Here, they’re commenting on the Massachusetts case to have “under God” removed from the pledge of allegiance.
All the news is about the first woman speaking, but really what astounded me was that they took turns going around the panel, and every single one of them said something incredibly stupid. They’re 0 for 5.
Dana Perino: I’m tired of them…they don’t have to live here.
Neither do you, lady.
Eric Bolling: It was added, but it doesn’t matter. It’s on our currency…they can choose not to take it.
It was also added to our currency in the 1950s, guy, at the height of Cold War fervor that couple religiosity to patriotism. It’s a relic of the same phenomenon that fostered McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist. It’s not a history to be proud of.
Greg Gutfeld: they can…give thanks for giving us the freedom to be an atheist.
In Religion on August 5, 2013 at 5:29 am
In 2010 at the behest of the Koch brothers, Mitch McConnell, and corporate leaders everywhere, the U.S. Supreme Court granted personhood rights to corporations giving them power to control the direction of the government and buy the services of Republicans candidates without campaign finance restrictions. Dissatisfied with the inordinate power the conservative court gave corporations, they are likely headed back to the Supreme Court to demand power to impose their religion on their employees in the next logical step towards transforming America into a theocracy. Despite the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of, and from, religious imposition More…
In Around Mendo Island, Religion on July 21, 2013 at 10:40 am
From RON EPSTEIN
According to Buddhist teachings, the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is not the One God, the Creator, nor is he omnipotent and omniscient. However, Buddhism does not deny his existence or the existence of his heaven.
There is no creator and there are no creations.
It is only from karma and thoughts that things are produced.
How can we know it is that way?
Because other than that there isn’t anything at all. More…
In Please Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, Religion on July 4, 2013 at 10:02 am
From VALERIE TARICO
The media’s most unabashed misogynists are actually tame compared to their ideological ancestors, which include the biggest names in Christian history.
With diatribes about entertainers who invite rape and moms who are destroying America by supporting their families…with ignorant arguments about fetuses that masturbate, and females who might as well if they use contraception, and fetal personhood that trumps the personhood of females…it’s tempting to think that Christian conservatives have reached some new pinnacle of hating women and sexuality. But the sad reality is that even the media’s most unabashed misogynists like Michele Bachmann, Michael Burgess, Lou Dobbs More…
In Please Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, Religion on July 4, 2013 at 9:07 am
From FRED RICH
The Daily Beast
Despite what many on the Christian right claim, America was not founded as a Christian nation. Author Fred Rich on why we should be afraid of their agenda on our Independence Day.
Most Americans saluting the flag this Independence Day grew up being taught that the nation for which that flag stands is a constitutional democracy. As Lincoln put it, the United States was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. But a significant number of your fellow citizens have a very different vision as they hoist the flag. They were raised to believe—or have now been convinced—that our Founding Fathers gave us what they call a “Christian Nation.”
On this July 4, 2013, we live in a country More…
In Religion, William Edelen Blog - The Contrary Minister on June 30, 2013 at 8:46 am
From WILLIAM EDELEN (1988)
The Contrary Minister
The diffusion of mythological themes from one culture to another and one religion to another is well known to religious historians. It is obvious with origin or creation mythologies.
Actually, the oldest Biblical accounts of creation are not the myths of Genesis, but Psalm 104. This psalm was borrowed from the famous “hymn of the Sun” of Akhenation, Egypt’s great monotheistic Pharaoh (1377-1360 B.C.).
As for the creation mythology of Genesis, both accounts were borrowed from other religions and both contradict one another. In Genesis 1, man is the last of the creation myth. In Chapter 2, man is the first to be created, with all else being created later.
These creation stories are recognized as mythological themes in the religion departments of every major university in this country (as well as the world), and also in the theological seminaries of the majority of mainline Protestant denominations. Only fundamentalist schools refuse to recognize the scholarship of these and related Biblical studies. More…
In Freethought, Religion on June 30, 2013 at 7:00 am
From DAVID FERGUSON
The Raw Story
The unveiling took place at noon on Saturday at the courthouse in Starke, Florida, where last year a Christian group erected a monument to the Christian Bible’s Ten Commandments. The new atheist monuments will be placed in similar locations, where Christian groups have erected monuments to their beliefs in public, government-owned places. More…
In Freethought, Religion on June 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm
From HEMANT MEHTA
Earlier this year, I posted about Asif Mohiuddin, a 29-year-old Bangladeshi man who was attacked for blogging about his atheism.
Of course, this being Bangladesh, Asif was sent to prison… for “hurting religious beliefs.” (That’s not a typo. It really makes no sense.)
He may be leaving jail soon, but the International Humanist and Ethical Union point out that he’s far from being truly free:
[Mohiuddin] is now set to be released on bail in a matter of days. However, his health has deteriorated in jail, he will be in [severe] danger upon release More…
In Freethought, Religion on June 28, 2013 at 8:22 pm
From The A-Unicordist
I saw this comment on a rather insipid blog in which the author suggested that God gave Christopher Hitchens cancer to humble him into conversion:
“The very existence of functional, happy atheists flies in the face of your beliefs, so you must convince yourselves that we must not be genuine. Either we are not functional, not happy, or we are not truly atheists. Unlike your god, however, there is substantial evidence for our existence.”
This got me thinking. More…