My quest for truth began with Bible Stories for Children…

 

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From The Freethinker, UK

It’s one of the few childhood memories I have that isn’t about Star Wars or Spider-Man.  I’m seven, and my mother is bringing me a large hardback book called Bible Stories for Children.  It does not have Doctor Octopus on the cover, and as such I am automatically and immediately uninterested, but then she starts talking.

This is a book filled with one group of people’s ideas about how the world works.  Many people believe these stories are true, so you should read it to be able to understand them and their perspective.

That’s it, just a child left with a book and the task of sussing things out. Other books would follow, about Greek and Roman religion, about world history and literature, offered with the same basic preamble:

Here are some things that some other people believe. 

Up to that point in life, I had no religious thoughts whatsoever.  I took it for granted that when people died, you never saw them again, and that when you were dead you were simply gone.  Growing up on a farm, where things died all the time and were treated as crude matter for consumption the instant that death occurred, It didn’t occur to me that other people thought, or could think, otherwise about themselves.

In The Good Old Days (Featuring Donald Trump)…

 

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Freethinker: Stephen Fry Born On This Day in 1957…

 

fryFrom Freedom From Religion

On this date in 1957, Stephen Fry was born in London, England. He grew up in Norfolk. At age 17, after leaving school, he was convicted of credit card fraud. After serving time in prison, Fry studied at City College Norfolk with the intention of sitting entrance exams for Cambridge, where he received a scholarship. At Cambridge, he performed in the Cambridge Footlights Review with Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie. Fry and Laurie continued their comedic collaboration outside of school, including the sketch comedy show “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” for the BBC, which had six seasons between 1986 and 1995. From 1990 to 1993, Fry and Laurie also starred in “Jeeves and Wooster” (Fry played Jeeves). Fry has had a wide-ranging career in acting, comedy and writing.

He is very active in social media, preferring to speak directly to his fans whenever he can, such as through Twitter and on his personal website. In 2003, Fry began hosting the BBC television panel comedy game show “QI.” The ninth season broadcasts in fall of 2011. Fry has been openly gay for his entire active professional life, and at times advocates for various causes, including gay rights. He grew up in an atheist home, but according to his website, http://www.stephenfry.com, he had a brief flirtation with Christianity as a teenager after reading C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters and was also influenced by G.K. Chesterton. However, as an adult, Fry returned to atheism and is very open about his nonbelief, describing the Christian God as “utterly evil, capricious and monstrous,” in an interview with the Gaurdian in Feb., 2015.  In 2011, he was awarded the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard’s Lifetime Award in Cultural Humanism.

“I love how when people watch I don’t know, David Attenborough or Discovery Planet type thing you know where you see the absolute phenomenal majesty and complexity and bewildering beauty of nature and you stare at it and then … somebody next to you goes, ‘And how can you say there is no God? Look at that.’ And then five minutes later you’re looking at the lifecycle of a parasitic worm whose job is to bury itself in the eyeball of a little lamb and eat the eyeball from inside while the lamb dies in horrible agony and then you turn to them and say, ‘Yeah, where is your God now?’ ”

—Stephen Fry in an interview by bigthink.com, Dec. 17, 2009

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Say No To the Savior Complex…

 

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People with privilege often engage with the world as saviors, and leave devastation behind. The world does not need more heroes, we need systemic solutions to racism, patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism.

Award-winning journalist Jordan Flaherty brings us inside the dark and politically twisted mind of the savior. Starting with Brandon Darby, an FBI informant whose rise within radical circles showed how movements are susceptible to a particular style of political heroism, Flaherty introduces us to would-be liberators and the damage they cause. We meet the young and idealistic college graduates who join Teach For America and displace unionized African American teachers. We hear anti-sex-work crusaders and the marginalized women their programs put behind bars. We see Red Cross coffers grow at the expense of local communities who consistently do more with less. And we also see a growing response to these dynamics: grassroots and street-based uprisings like those in Ferguson, Missouri, creating accountable movements focused on real, systemic change.

Insightful and unsparing, No More Heroes is an indispensable tool for social justice activists, reminding us that charity is not solidarity: saviors need not apply.

Jordan Flaherty has produced news and documentaries for Al Jazeera’s Fault LinesThe Laura Flanders Show, and Democracy Now. He is an award-winning journalist who has appeared on television and radio shows including Anderson Cooper 360CNN Headline News, and News and Notes on NPR. He is author of Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six.
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GENE LOGSDON: A Quiet Revolution Coming to a Farm Near You

 

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From Our Archives
GENE LOGSDON (1931 – 2016)
The Contrary Farmer

When farmers started telling me that they were getting rid of their machinery and putting their entire farms into pasture, I thought, “Yeah, right.” But when they led me around their farms more or less by the nose to prove it, I became a believer. After five years of experimentation, I, like thousands of farmers now, know that meat, milk, eggs and other farm products can be raised without annually cultivated crops, sometimes even without barns. In most American climates, grazing animals need only a wood lot or windbreak for shelter, will harvest grass and legumes themselves for their feed, and will control most weeds and spread their manure for fertilizer for free.

At the Bruce and Lisa Rickard farm near Mount Vernon, Ohio, there are about 25 beef cows and calves, 600 head of sheep and not a stalk of corn or soybeans. The only barn is a shearing shed. “Eventually,” Bruce said, “we think we can perfect rotational grazing to the point where we can graze year-round and get rid of the haying machinery, too.” “You can dynamite all those stupid silos, too,” added Bob Evans, a lifelong cattleman near Gallipolis, Ohio. With improved plants, he has proved that he can raise beef on pasture year-round.

Ingersoll: What Infidels Have Done…

 

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From The Archives
ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)
The Great Agnostic

One hundred years after Christ had died suppose some one had asked a Christian, What hospitals have you built? What asylums have you founded? They would have said “None.” Suppose three hundred years after the death of Christ the same questions had been asked the Christian, he would have said “None, not one.” Two hundred years more and the answer would have been the same. And at that time the Christian could have told the questioner that the Mohammedans had built asylums before the Christians. He could also have told him that there had been orphan asylums in China for hundreds and hundreds of years, hospitals in India, and hospitals for the sick at Athens.

Here it may be well enough to say that all hospitals and asylums are not built for charity. They are built because people do not want to be annoyed by the sick and the insane. If a sick man should come down the street and sit upon your doorstep, what would you do with him? You would have to take him into your house or leave him to suffer. Private families do not wish to take the burden of the sick. Consequently, in self-defence, hospitals are built so that any wanderer coming to a house, dying, or suffering from any disease, may immediately be packed off to a hospital and not become a burden upon private charity. The fact that many diseases are contagious rendered hospitals necessary for the preservation of the lives of the citizens. The same thing is true of the asylums. People do not, as a rule, want to take into their families, all the children who happen to have no fathers and mothers. So they endow and build an asylum where those children can be sent—and where they can be whipped according to law. Nobody wants an insane stranger in his house. The consequence is, that the community, to get rid of these people, to get rid of the trouble, build public institutions and send them there.

Rush: Roll The Bones…

 

Thanks to Bruce

Well, you can stake that claim
Good work is the key to good fortune
Winners take that praise
Losers seldom take that blame
If they don’t take that game
And sometimes the winner takes nothing
We draw our own designs
But fortune has to make that frame

We go out in the world and take our chances
Fate is just the weight of circumstances
That’s the way that lady luck dances
Roll the bones

Why are we here?
Because we’re here
Roll the bones
Why does it happen?
Because it happens
Roll the bones

Faith is cold as ice
Why are little ones born only to suffer
For the want of immunity
Or a bowl of rice?
Well, who would hold a price
On the heads of the innocent children
If there’s some immortal power
To control the dice?

We come into the world and take our chances
Fate is just the weight of circumstances
That’s the way that lady luck dances
Roll the bones

Jack…relax
Get busy with the facts
No zodiacs or almanacs
No maniacs in polyester slacks
Just the facts
Gonna kick some gluteus max
It’s a parallax…you dig?
You move around
The small gets big
It’s a rig
It’s action…reaction
Random interaction
So who’s afraid
Of a little abstraction?
Can’t get no satisfaction
From the facts?
You better run, homeboy
A fact’s a fact
From Nome to Rome, boy

What’s the deal?
Spin the wheel
If the dice are hot…take a shot
Play your cards. Show us what you got
What you’re holding
If the cards are cold
Don’t go folding
Lady Luck is golden
She favors the bold
That’s cold
Stop throwing stones
The night has a thousand saxophones
So get out there and rock
And roll the bones
Get busy!

Roll the bones

Why are we here?
Because we’re here
Roll the bones
Why does it happen?
Because it happens
Roll the bones

~~

Sam Harris: What Hillary Clinton Should Say about Islam and the “War on Terror”

 

(RNS1-sept9) In Sam Harris’ new book, “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion,” the usually outspoken critic of religion describes how spirituality not only can, but must, be divorced from religion if the human mind is to reach its full potential. For use with RNS-HARRIS-BOOK, transmitted on Septemeber 10, 2014, Photo courtesy of Simon & Schuster Publicity

From Sam Harris

The following is part of a speech that I think Hillary Clinton should deliver between now and November. Its purpose is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern, especially in the aftermath of any future terrorist attacks in the U.S. or Europe.—SH

* * *

Today, I want to talk about one of the most important and divisive issues of our time—the link between the religion of Islam and terrorism. I want you to know how I view it and how I will think about it as President. I also want you to understand the difference between how I approach this topic and how my opponent in this presidential race does.

The underlying issue—and really the most important issue of this or any time—is human cooperation. What prevents it, and what makes it possible? In November, you will be electing a president, not an emperor of the world. The job of the president of the United States, even with all the power at her or his disposal, is to get people, both at home and abroad, to cooperate to solve a wide range of complex problems. Your job is to pick the person who seems most capable of doing that.

In the past, I’ve said that groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda have nothing to do with Islam. And President Obama has said the same. This way of speaking has been guided by the belief that if we said anything that could be spun as confirming the narrative of groups like ISIS—suggesting that the West is hostile to the religion of Islam, if only to its most radical strands—we would drive more Muslims into the arms of the jihadists and the theocrats, preventing the very cooperation we need to win a war of ideas against radical Islam. I now see this situation differently. I now believe that we have been selling most Muslims short. And I think we are all paying an unacceptable price for not speaking clearly about the link between specific religious ideas and the sectarian hatred that is dividing the Muslim world.

New Music…

 

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From Dave Smith

‘Where Were You?’ My new 2 Minute Ditty on SoundCloud…
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TODD WALTON: Gym Rats

 

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Oasis painting by Nolan Winkler

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

Jim Young, coach of the Mendocino High School boys varsity basketball team, also happens to be my chiropractor and friend. I had a chiropractic appointment with him on Thursday at 11:30, and the night before he sent me an email saying: “I’m going to put one of my younger stars through a shooting workout right after our appointment. Want to help? 12:15 in the high school gym.”

Just a few months ago I would have declined Jim’s offer, not having touched a basketball in five years and being in dreadful shape as I close in on sixty-seven. However, for the last few months I have been endeavoring to right the ship and even occasionally going to the elementary school to fling a few balls at the rims, so…

While Jim expertly unknotted the muscles in my upper back and alleviated much of the chronic tightness in my neck, he explained how he and I would work together during the shooting workout of the promising young guard Nakai Baker. Jim would do the rebounding and pass the balls to me, and I, in turn, would pass the balls to Nakai, and Nakai would do nothing but shoot.

Some of Jim’s inspiration for involving me in this fascinating exercise sprang from his recent reading of my novel Ruby & Spear, published in 1996, the last time I was able to entice a major publisher to take a chance on one of my books. As it happened, Bantam didn’t take much of a chance and declared the book out-of-print on publication day. Thus very few people have ever read Ruby & Spear, the story of a poetical sports writer and his fantastical involvement with a phenomenal playground basketball player.

10 Things You Should Know about Seventh Day Adventists…

 

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9 Things You Should Know About Jehovah’s Witnesses…

 

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16 Ways to Greet Jehovah’s Witnesses…

 

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Christians, This is Why You Shouldn’t Evangelize to Us…

 

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The Potato Park of Peru

 

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 From David Bollier
Patterns of Commoning

Drive an hour northeast from Cusco, Peru, and you will encounter some beautiful high mountain lakes, historic Inca ruins, and the richest diversity of potatoes on the planet. Approximately 2,300 of the 4,000 known potato varieties in the world are grown here, making it one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. The 7,000 Quechua people who live on this high-altitude Sacred Valley of the Incas have, with their ancestors, cultivated and improved Andean potatoes for seven millennia. That impressive record stems from a holistic way of life that blends deep spiritual traditions and cultural values with cultivation techniques, barter and exchange practices and ecological stewardship.

Potatoes are, of course, a central element of Quechua culture. When a reporter from Gourmet magazine visited the region, she was amazed to discover that “each potato, it seemed, had its own special or ceremonial use: There were potatoes to eat at baptisms; potatoes, like the bride potato, for weddings; and others for funerals. Potatoes like the red moro boli were high in antioxidants, while potatoes such as the ttalaco – a long, banana-shaped tuber – must be either soaked and steamed or made into a potato alcohol.”

Some potatoes must be grown on steep slopes above 13,000 feet. Some can be grown nearly anywhere. It is not uncommon for a single farmer’s field to produce hundreds of different varieties, many of them quite rare.

Inciting Wars the American Way…

 

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From AntiWar.com

The New York Times took notice recently of the role that so-called “think tanks” play in corrupting U.S. government policy. Their review of think tanks “identified dozens of examples of scholars conducting research at think tanks while corporations were paying them to help shape government policy.”

Unfortunately, and perhaps predictably, while their investigation demonstrates well that the US is even more corrupt, though its corruption is better disguised, than the many foreign countries whom we routinely accuse of corruption, it failed to identify the most egregious form of corruption in our system. That is, those think tanks that are constantly engaged in the sort of activities which the DOD identifies as “Information War” when conducted by foreign countries who are designated by the US as an enemy at any given moment.

Those are activities using disinformation and propaganda to condition a population to hate a foreign nation or population with the intent to foment a war, which is the routine “business” of the best known US think tanks.

There are two levels to this information war. The first level is by the primary provocateur, such as the Rand Corporation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the smaller war instigators found wherever a Kagan family member lurks. They use psychological “suggestiveness” to create a false narrative of danger from some foreign entity with the objective being to create paranoia within the US population that it is under imminent threat of attack or takeover.

Once that fear and paranoia is instilled in much of the population, it can then be manipulated to foment a readiness or eagerness for war, in the manner that Joseph Goebbels understood well.

The measure if success of such a disinformation and propaganda effort can be seen when the narrative is adopted by secondary communicators who are perhaps the most important target audience. That is because they are “key communicators” in PsyOp terms, who in turn become provocateurs in propagating the false narrative even more broadly and to its own audiences, and becoming “combat multipliers” in military terms.

It is readily apparent now that Russia has taken its place as the primary target within US sights. One doesn’t have to see the US military buildup on Russia’s borders to understand that but only see the propaganda themes of our “think tanks.”

GENE LOGSDON: The Contrary Farmer

 

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From Our Archives
GENE LOGSDON (1931 – 2016)
The Contrary Farmer

A farmer of deep ecological sensitivity is to the plow jockey on his 200-horsepower tractor what a French chef is to the legions of hamburger handlers at fast food chains. The chef’s work is infused with artistic, scientific, and spiritual satisfactions; the hamburger handler’s is infused only with the ticking of a time clock. To the plow jockey, soil is a boring landscape of clods that need to be crushed. To the ecological farmer, every clod holds a wondrously exotic, tropical-like world of brilliantly colored microorganisms, the very stuff of life.
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Rational Suicide: David Brittain and wife Bridget, 86 and 84, did not want to lose their independence…

 

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From The Mirror, Britain

A retired Royal Navy Commander and his devoted wife carried out a suicide pact because they didn’t want to go into care. David Brittain and wife Bridget, 86 and 84, took their own lives five years after becoming members of a suicide group called Exit. [Exit International link here.]

The couple, who had spent 65 years together, did not want to to lose their independence by being admitted to an old people’s home. An inquest heard Bridget – known as Biddy – used a ‘suicide bag’ to end her life before husband David did the same. Their daughters Susan Keeling, 57, and Judith Thompson, 59, gave a joint statement to the inquest. They said: ”Our parents were proud people, married over 60 years, and they depended and relied on each other. “Father hated it if mother went away for a night. They wanted to be together. They did not want to be apart, not live without each other.” Commenting on the successful suicide pact, they added: “We did not want them to do it. ”They had done what they said they would do. It was a massive shock. There is some consolation they are still together.”

The inquest heard David and Bridget joined Exit, which helps people plan suicides, in 2010. In the same year they bought the items which they would later used to take their own lives. The hearing was told the pensioners openly talked about suicide for five years but stopped mentioning it in the 18 months before their deaths. The exact trigger for their decision to take their lives is not known. But their elderly pet dog Tink had had to be put to sleep one week earlier. And David suffered a fall while attending a ballet performance but did not reveal this to his daughters. Their cleaner found them dead at their £750,000 home in Yelverton, Devon, last November. The coroner said they had put out ‘cushions to make themselves comfortable’.

On a dining room table police found documents about Exit, handwritten notes to their children and instructions on how to commit suicide. Their daughters told how the couple were “proud people” who wanted to remain together and not end up in residential care. Forensic pathologist Dr Deborah Cook found that Biddy died first closely followed by her husband. Daughter Susan, who attended the hearing on Friday, said her parents’ breakfast had only been ‘half laid’ out on the morning of their deaths. She speculated that her father had fallen and their mother could not lift him up and they then decided ‘this is it’. Coroner Mr Tomalin heard that two weeks before the pact Bridget received some “bad news healthwise but did not elaborate further”. He concluded they committed suicide saying: ”It would appear both were willing participants in the act that ended their lives.”

Dealing With Depression And Loneliness After Abandoning Religion…

 

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From Atheist Republic

Gina1 shared on our public forums her experience of dealing with depression and loneliness after abandoning her faith. Gina1 wrote that after leaving her religion she initially felt liberated. However during a crisis or tragedy, she no longer has her faith to comfort her. Furthermore, she deals with crippling anxiety when thinking about death, uncertainty, and the fear of “what if” she is wrong about her unbelief. Although religion was a major part of her life, she cannot see herself going back, even with the comforts that it formerly provided.

Here are some of the most interesting responses to Gina1’s post:
Ellie Harris, although admitting to never being religious, sympathized with Gina1. He reassured Gina1 that it is a fundamental human need, and one that is not exclusive to religions, to desire camaraderie and moral support that is typically provided by religious communities.

Pitar shared his experience in becoming an atheist as a child and learning early on not to rely on faith as an emotional crutch, in spite of the isolation he felt due to his unbelief. He conceded that it must be more challenging for adults who abandon their faith and the comfort it provides at a later age than he did, as they typically enter “reality” without a warm welcome or support group. He insightfully pointed out how a religious belief system actually stifles individuality, suppresses one’s true identity, and forces people to be part of a false structure that is not true to the nature of the human heart. He concluded by hoping that Gina1 will appreciate the way in which she is being true to her nature with her atheism and not just view herself as someone who has gone by the wayside.

Mitch made a distinction between one who is clinically depressed and one who is grieving since abandoning faith. He stated that if one were clinically depressed, the depression would not dissipate regardless of one’s personal beliefs.

Jeff Vella Leone offered encouragement by suggesting that Gina1 should feel proud that she now understands something better than others, rather than feeling like someone who has lost something. He thinks that once Gina1 has arrived at this point, the depression she feels will go away.

The Pragmatic acknowledged that anyone who is isolated, ostracized, or shunned for their beliefs could easily become depressed. He offered a link from a secular website that helps atheists find an empathetic therapist.

Gina1 felt encouraged and comforted by the responses of the forum and suggested she may seek out a Unitarian church to regain her sense of community…
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Purpose: An Atheist Perspective…

 

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From Atheist Republic

I am sure that all of you reading this have at some point or another witnessed, heard of, or perhaps even been, a religious person attempting to convey how empty a life without God is. For the faithful, God is the centre of their universe. Belief in God is their most important value, their most primary function, and the seed from which their perspective on the world grows. And so it’s no surprise that whether or not you believe in God is likely what the religious consider to be your most important value, too. It’s how they look at the world, and it’s inevitably how they wish to frame you.

For atheists, of course, it should be relatively easy to recognize that a person’s perspective on God may be utterly irrelevant to his or her daily life; for people are composed of more than just their religious or nonreligious beliefs. But by maintaining that a person’s perspective on God is the most important aspect of their being, the religious are not only failing to see people outside of their own narrow scope of vision, they are also making an attempt to force upon atheists the idea that atheism is the dearth of purpose and meaning — that atheism ultimately leads to degeneration, to decay, to nihilism and moral abandon and a life of pointless pursuits — for if you don’t believe that God exists, then what are you worth to those who do? To them, you’re lost, you’re deluded, and you’re going to burn.

Arizona public college hotel now ‘bible free’…

 

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From FFRF

Publicly supported hotel rooms at Thunderbolt Executive Inn in Glendale, Ariz., are now bible free, thanks to a request from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

FFRF, a state/church watchdog with 24,000 members, contacted the Thunderbird School of Global Management after receiving a consumer complaint. The school became a unit of Arizona State University last year.

“State-run colleges have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion,” wrote FFRF Legal Fellow Madeline Ziegler.

Ziegler noted that the mission of the Gideon Society is to “win the lost for Christ.” Distributing Gideon bibles, which are Christian, inappropriately sends an unconstitutional message of endorsement of one religion’s so-called “holy book” over others, and of religion over nonreligion.

“Anyone zealous enough to need the bible as bedtime reading will travel with one,” noted FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The rest of us paying guests seek a vacation from proselytizing when we’re on vacation. What is offensive at private hotels and motels, however, becomes unconstitutional at public-supported rooms.”

Gaylor welcomed the college’s prompt response.

Northern Illinois University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Pennsylvania State University, Portland State University and the University of Iowa also have removed bibles from their public-supported hotel rooms in recent years after FFRF contacted them to express concerns by patrons and students.

FFRF has nearly 600 members in Arizona.
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Tamina Mirza, a schoolteacher, has been leading anti-terror protests in Lahore, Pakistan…

 

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From Clarion Project

Tamina Mirza, a schoolteacher, has been leading anti-terror protests in Lahore, Pakistan, on every 16th of the month, against the Taliban.

On the 16th of every month, come rain or shine, Tamina Mirza takes to the streets of Lahore in Pakistan to stand against terrorism.

She was moved to act in 2014 after “things changed for all of us” when 145 children were massacred at an army school in Peshawar by the Taliban.

“I just took it upon myself to start a series of protests against the Taliban and terrorists, “ she told Clarion Project. “I did them on every 16th of each month as a mark of remembrance and to pay my debt to those kids who were ruthlessly slaughtered.”

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One of their vigils for the murdered children of Peshawar.

Arrested For Cartoon Mocking ISIS…

 

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From Clarion Project

Eminent Jordanian satirist and political cartoonist Nahed Hattar posted the cartoon to Facebook, featuring Allah talking to a jihadist in paradise.

An eminent Jordanian cartoonist and political satirist Nahed Hattar has been arrested for a satirical cartoon depicting a conversation between a jihadist and Allah in paradise.

Hattar, of Christian origin who personally professes non-belief, has been a respected satirist in Jordan for many years.

The cartoon was posted to his anti-Islamic State Facebook page and purported to show how jihadists “envision heaven.”

Hattar was arrested for insulting religion. His cartoon twisted Islamic vocabulary about God and paradise for comedic effect, such as changing the word “Subhanallah” (Glory be to Allah) into the second person “Subhanekh” (your gloriousness) which also prompted criticism of his cartoon as being an insensitive way to discuss God.

The cartoon is translated below by by Clarion Project Arabic Affairs Analyst Anwar el-Iraqi.

In Green: In paradise…

Allah: “May your evening be joyous, Abu Saleh, do you need anything?”

Jihadist: “Yes Lord, bring me the glass of wine from other there and tell Jibril [the Angel Gabriel] to bring me some cashews. After that send me an eternal servant to clean the floor and take the empty plates with you.”

Jihadist continues: “Don’t forget to put a door on the tent so that you knock before you enter next time, your gloriousness.”

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Ingersoll: An Honest God is the Noblest Work of Man…

 

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From The Archives
ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)
The Great Agnostic

THE GODS 

EACH nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own. All these gods demanded praise, flattery, and worship. Most of them were pleased with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a divine perfume. All these gods have insisted upon having a vast number of priests, and the priests have always insisted upon being supported by the people, and the principal business of these priests has been to boast about their god, and to insist that he could easily vanquish all the other gods put together.

These gods have been manufactured after numberless models, and according to the most grotesque fashions. Some have a thousand arms, some a hundred heads, some are adorned with necklaces of living snakes, some are armed with clubs, some with sword and shield, some with bucklers, and some have wings as a cherub; some were invisible, some would show themselves entire, and some would only show their backs; some were jealous, some were foolish, some turned themselves into men, some into swans, some into bulls, some into doves, and some into Holy Ghosts, and made love to the beautiful daughters of men. Some were married—all ought to have been—and some were considered as old bachelors from all eternity. Some had children, and the children were turned into gods and worshiped as their fathers had been. Most of these gods were revengeful, savage, lustful, and ignorant. As they generally depended upon their priests for information, their ignorance can hardly excite our astonishment.

These gods did not even know the shape of the worlds they had created, but supposed them perfectly flat Some thought the day could be lengthened by stopping the sun, that the blowing of horns could throw down the walls of a city, and all knew so little of the real nature of the people they had created, that they commanded the people to love them. Some were so ignorant as to suppose that man could believe just as he might desire, or as they might command, and that to be governed by observation, reason, and experience was a most foul and damning sin. None of these gods could give a true account of the creation of this little earth. All were wofully deficient in geology and astronomy. As a rule, they were most miserable legislators, and as executives, they were far inferior to the average of American presidents.

What God Said…

 

 

Thanks to Bruce

You know Christie
Something happened a long time ago in Haiti
And the people don’t wanna talk about it
They were under the heel of the French
And they got together and they swore a pact to the devil
They said we’ll serve you
If you’ll get us free from the French
True story
And so the devil said okay it’s a deal
And ever since then they have been cursed

Shake the hand of my imaginary friend
See the trouble he gets in
Can’t be traced back to me
He can’t pretend at the slightest of his when
He has the power to suspend our rules of morality
And when he gets angry he can make the lion cry
He can help me win the fight with his power
Yes he speaks to me and it’s always positive
Cause I can just ask for forgiveness and it’s over

[Chorus:]
So you can’t put the blame on me I’m doing what God said
What God said, what God said
Don’t you put the blame on me I’m doing what God said
What God said, what God said

So you’re praying for the death of the president of the united states
Do you think it’s appropriate to say something like that or…
I’m not saying anything what I’m doing is repeating what God is saying
In the name of the one who made us all
I will hide behind these walls from my enemy
By the power bestowed from up above
I will conquer you because it is my destiny
And with the righteous hand
I will bring you to your knees
I will strip you of your freedom without mercy
And when the earth quakes and the blood runs in the sand
There will be no final stand for the unworthy

[Chorus:]
So you can’t put the blame on me I’m doing what God said
What God said, what God said
Don’t you put the blame on me I’m doing what God said
What God said, what God said

I stand on a mountain top on a solid rock
I stand on abundance truth and I won’t be moved
And when I come to claim my victory
I’ll repeat what was told to me

[Chorus:]
So you can’t put the blame on me I’m doing what God said
What God said, what God said
And he speaks to only me I know what God said
What God said, what God said
~~

Evolution of the Eye…

 

~~

TODD WALTON: Hungry Deer

 

birdbath and friends tw

Birdbath & Friends charcoal and acrylic by Nolan Winkler

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“For when you see that the universe cannot be distinguished from how you act upon it, there is neither fate nor free will, self nor other. There is simply one all-inclusive Happening, in which your personal sensation of being alive occurs in just the same way as the river flowing and the stars shining far out in space. There is no question of submitting or accepting or going with it, for what happens in and as you is no different from what happens as it.” Alan Watts

With that in mind this morning, I go out to water our apple trees.

When we bought our house and surrounding two acres four years ago, the place was a deer park, the seven dwarf and semi-dwarf apple trees badly mangled by the deer and dying from lack of water. Our first large expenditure was to have a sturdy deer fence installed around the southern three-quarters of an acre with the house as part of that barrier.

We pruned and watered and fed the apple trees, and today four of the original seven are now robust and productive, one gave up the ghost, and the remaining two are still quite distressed and would like new basins free of redwood roots, more food, and more water.

This year the crop on four of the trees is spectacular and we attribute some of this to our monthly deep watering throughout the dry summer months. To that end, we installed a second water tank two years ago so we would be assured of a goodly supply for the orchard and our vegetable garden. The deer are as plentiful as ever hereabouts, and groups of them can often be found standing at the fence gazing longingly at the bounty they once had access to.

Liberalism’s Great Challenge: How Can We Critique Ideas while Protecting People?

 

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From Valerie Tarico

Secular and reformist Muslims plead that we learn to tell the difference between analyzing ideas and attacking people.

When Islam is at question, members of the American Left and Right race into opposite corners. After the Orlando nightclub massacre, to cite one recent example, conservatives spewed anti-Muslim invective to the point that ordinary American Muslims were afraid to leave home. Donald Trump implied that Muslims, broadly, know when a fellow believer is going to shoot up a nightclub or government office but fail to act (as if gun-loving men, broadly, know when one of their fellows is going to shoot up a political rally or Black church or abortion clinic).

From their corner, liberals denied that Allah-blessed homophobia, or Islam’s concept of martyrdom, or the rallying cries of Jihadis might inspire a self-loathing, bipolar believer to redeem his soul through mass murder. Staff for U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch actually edited the shooter’s words of Islamic fidelity out of audio recordings for fear of inciting racist reprisals.

In the weeks that followed, as men claiming Islamist loyalties or shouting “Allahu akbar!” went on bloody rampages in IstanbulNiceBaghdadDhaka and Ansbach, the rhetorical divide simply got sharper. Left-leaning commentators talked about mental illness, domestic violence, gun access and economic disparities—all valid causal factors—but desperately avoided acknowledging the prayer mat in the room. The DNC put the Muslim parents of an American serviceman on display at their convention, and then waited for the inevitable insults from He Whose Toupee Cannot Hide His Missing Frontal Lobe. They were not long in coming.