Sunday, December 30, 2012
The problem with all religions, traditional, New Age, Pagan and for that matter sport warrior worship, is that they focus inward. If not on self on the small group of "us." Only "we" can save the world by converting everyone to "our" solution. While some religions are moving toward the celebration of life, all life, it seems that no God, goddess, or guru can figure out how to satisfy the ego needs for belonging with a concern for those not like "us." The Enlightenment and its modern descendent Cosmopolitanism does not give the ego the intermediate step of "us" but forces concern for all.
It begins with Jefferson. All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalianable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness. Implicit in this statement is that these rights are accepted and enforced by all reasonable and civic minded people collectively and individually ready and willing to mutually pledge to their Lives, their Fortunes and their Sacred Honor. They do not pledge to a leader or to a nation but to each other and to a cause.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
They're clearly trying to reach Regular Guys and the universe of gender politicsIn response to this excellent post and other news including the public gang rape in New Delhi and numerous articles on women all over the world including India now being able to choose how many children they wish to have including none. Add to that the empowerment of women in being able to choose the man that will be the father of those children. And the woman's choices not only in sex, but in living, working, and self fulfillment. It may be time to consider the implications of the title.
All of these have contributed to the fact that a large portion of the male population has been denied any opportunity for consensual sex, as they do not have the necessary respect to gain consent. They are locked in the old culture where the man is the aggressor, and the woman is compliant. There are women who remain in this culture as well, cultures change slowly, but contraception has given women a different kind of empowerment in that they can engage in casual sex without fear of the major consequence of pregnancy. They can send those mixed signals and enjoy the resulting sex, preferably without rape, but in any event without consequences. But where does that leave the men who for one reason or another always get the unmixed signal of NO? Sorry to say it is their fault, or at least the fault of the sexist culture they live in, but most women do not like the idea of being property even for the reason of having sex. For those men the two choices are rape and internet porn. Obviously the latter is preferable and commonly the only option, but opportunistic rape will still occur.
Women secure in their empowerment generally have no interest in and avoid the rape culture. They send no mixed signals, they do not even go to places where signals can be mixed. For them sex is a result of a relationship not a goal, and any man that doesn't understand that won't get any signals at all.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Blood and kinship. In some contexts, the two are synonymous. We say that we share blood with someone if we are familially related to them, if we are ‘blood kin’. Sharing blood is also understood as a way to establish kinship where it does not exist from birth: the old blood brotherhood or sisterhood. Why does this work (or to look at it another way), why is it believed to work? Because our blood is the essence of our life – it is the vehicle and condensed liquid form of life force. To share that is to be kin.To share that is to be kin.
A couple of hundred donations many shared with several patients in need. Call it a thousand unknown kinfolk of mine out there. Makes it hard to think badly of anyone. Eh, brother or sister?
This is an astute observation because research on the motivation of soldiers during combat—well summarized by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his deeply insightful book On Killing (Little, Brown, 2009)—reveals that a soldier's primary motivation is not politics and ideology but devotion to his band of brothers. “Among men who are bonded together so intensely,” Grossman explains, “there is a powerful process of peer pressure in which the individual cares so deeply about his comrades and what they think about him that he would rather die than let them down.”
As a social primate species, we modulate our morals with signals from family, friends and social groups with whom we identify because in our evolutionary past those attributes helped individuals to survive and reproduce. We do not just blindly concede control to authorities; instead we follow the cues provided by our moral communities on how best to behave
One only has to look at Westboro Baptist, Think Tanks, a JW Kingdom Hall, the NRA Leadership, et al. to see this modulation in action. No amount of pressure from those outside the group will have any effect on the peer group.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
As an ex-UU none who studied religion and spirituality at the university and beyond at All Souls in NYC and later beyond UU I have a couple of suggestions.
1. Take our spirituality seriously. You lost a promising UU spiritual leader (it wasn't me) by banning an atheist from a God discussion group at a UU Church. Keep in mind that spirituality is a human attribute that has nothing at all to do with God or religion.
2, You may keep and use the God meme, as long as it is clear that it is a spiritual learning meme rather than something to pray at or worship. You can even still pray if it is clear that prayer is a way to focus thinking usefully.
As an aside, not a suggestion, we all have our own social and political action vehicles that we choose for ourselves. Social pressure to conform to particular social values is Katy, bar the door! for most of us even if we agree with them.
I love the scene of Ben and Elaine barring the door with a cross in The Graduate. I have been tempted frequently as I left a UU church for good, prevented only by not being able to find a cross.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
A premier symphonic chorus, inspiring and enriching people's lives through the joy and power of choral music. We frequently perform commissioned or co-commissioned works. Recent performances include Terra Nostra an Oratorio by Stacy Garrop, Battle Hymns a performance piece by David Lang, and Seven Songs for Planet Earth by Olli Kortekangas.
If it was composed in the 20th century it is nostalgia for Volti. 3 or 4 world premier performances per program is the norm. Support your local musical choral composers.
Yosemite webcams are maintained through the generous support of Yosemite Conservancy donors.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
One of the reasons to side with the atheists in matters of sexual morality is that the atheist community is far superior to at least the Christian community in dealing with the modern fact, I use that term advisedly, that it is no longer the norm even among Christians for women to be married soon after puberty "To cleave only unto the husband" and spend her life barefoot and pregnant. Women and men tend to seek partners with similar educational and vocational interests, which frequently means deferring marriage until mid 20's or later. Perhaps a bit younger for women.
Marriage or parenting vows, take your pick, are generally taken after considerable thought with little impetus from sex. Indeed sexual compatibility is generally well proven by the time of parenting vows. And the pair bond is well established usually through contraceptive monogamous sex long before the vow is taken and the contra lost. The moral imperative is that the parenting vows are the binding ones and generally are anticipated to last through adulthood of the planned children. No instant gratification or fashion involved. It is a well thought out moral commitment.
OK. That takes care of the grown ups. What about the horny teens? The Our Whole Lives program, a joint venture between UU and UCC, recognizes the fact that at an early age children and young adults will experiment with sexual activities. OWL does not "Just say NO," that is a proven path to unwed parenthood. Please note there are two unwed parents for every child born out of wedlock. A much better moral standard is to understand that sex happens and that it is critical that when it does both partners are responsible, willing, and ready for it. The common question "Your condom or mine?" is a simple way of insuring this moral standard. Using this moral standard a sex act is no more (or less) significant than dirty dancing or if you prefer a formal Pas de Deux.
Monday, November 26, 2012
By Suzanne Venker
Worth skimming to "Feminism serves men well: they can have sex ... with no responsibilities whatsoever." after that it gets hilarious.
What the author ignores is that all such sex is sterile. Just enjoyable gymnastics, some good exercise, and the prick removes himself from the gene pool. No loss. If the woman wants to contribute to the gene pool there is no problem finding men with good genes to provide them and the prick might find himself living with a baby that is not his. He may leave, but there will be others who will trade sex for living space with or without children. It is that "They want to provide for and protect their families--its in their DNA." The DNA doesn't know or care where the y came from. She may imply that the sex is not sterile, but only she knows for sure.
However, the norm will be that men not threatened by the half the population that is intellectually and economically equal will find equal partners in the procreation business, sharing all the joys and work of bringing up a child in their own image. Neither will be virgins, but adolescent sterile gymnastics will have long since lost their allure.
Friday, October 26, 2012
I am not ready to condemn anyone who made the other choice. If you have trained all your life in the sport of your choice and are the top of the game, but competing at the next level means drugs, I refuse to disrespect those who choose to compete.
To live comfortably or perhaps at all I need asthma drugs. Are you going to give me a pass just because they are legal.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Dear Ann Coulter,
Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?
I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.
I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.
Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.
Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.
Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.
After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.
I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.
Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.
No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.
Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.
A friend you haven’t made yet, John Franklin Stephens
Special Olympics Virginia
My comment on facebook
I had the pleasure of working with an IQ challenged person who was never allowed to be labled by his parents, who used his "people skill" ability in a customer experience capacity to make a respected career for himself. Although I trained him in the CE skills, in my follow up with customers I found that he was much better at the job than I, even though technically I was clearly better. Any technical errors were forgotten as each customer was in fact the special focus of his attention and knew it. Absolutely critical to creating a satisfied, loyal customer. He certainly taught me important lessons in the CE which served me well in my career in this customer critical area.J'Carlin: It is high time that words referring to mentally challenged people used as insults be treated as the bigotry that they are. I have worked with mentally challenged people who have used other abilities to make a useful place for themselves in the world, and with others that have been warehoused with no opportunity to develop other skillls because of their mental challenge label. In either case the label is a cruel insult to the disabled and evidence of a mental disability of the user of the term. That mental disability is the lack of common decency and respect which has its own label which should be used freely and openly "Bigot." Or as Rollins should have said more concicely: Ann Coulter is a bigot and should STFU.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
It is almost impossible to not be moral and compassionate if you are an atheist as there is no alternative. You have no choice but to do the very best you can for the expanding circle of people that you consider your chosen society. It isn't so much having an apple fall on your head, we can't always be so lucky or so smart, but we do what we can to make it probable that those that are can take advantage of it. Education, critical thinking, and creative attitudes can all be encouraged, and certainly exploring top level thinking like the existentialists is important to being able to take advantage of those opportunities.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
As I demonstrated earlier in this thread, all the founders of the major branches of science were Christians, modern hospitals were invented by Christians, Christians ended slavery in the US and Britain, modern universities were invented by Christians, the largest charities in the world were founded and are run by Christians, the United States was founded by primarily Christians, and has been one of the countries that has produced the most good in the world and I could name more.
A classic example of the Gish Gallop. If you put enough lies in a short enough paragraph it is impossible to refute them all in any reasonable way. In this case each phrase has been the topic of many posts on this thread alone clearly defining the lie and misleading partial truth in the phrase.
Thanks to Daily Kos for pointing out that the Romney debate was won with this technique.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
The Kissing Sailor, or “The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture”
Most of us are familiar with this picture. Captured in Times Square on V-J Day, 1945, it has become one of the most iconic photographs of American history, symbolizing the jubilation and exuberance felt throughout the country at the end of World War II.
Retroactively trying to change a culture or even using a past culture to criticize a current culture is a fool's errand. I grew up in that culture and never imagined that the sailor asked for prior informed consent of the nurse. Sailors at liberty from an all male environment were expected to be aggressively promiscuous as were most single men at the time.
It was in fact a male aggressive culture, a reflection of the dominant religious culture of female submissiveness. Ask any cheerleader at the time about the victory parties. Or the loss parties for that matter. It was an article of manliness dogma that if you could get a woman in a compromising position good for you! The then current excuse for the man was if the woman didn't want to be molested she should have stayed home. Directly related to the current Muslim attitude to women. It isn't the man's fault if the woman is alone and improperly dressed.
Better to focus on examples of current non-consensual sexual contact which have a better chance of changing current culture than bitching about the past.
Lets fight about this shit:
I often ride the Metro when I commute from North Hollywood to Long Beach in order to save money. I bring a book, pointedly wear a ring on my ring finger to imply I’m married (I’m not) and keep to myself.
Without fail, I am aggressively approached by men on at least half of these commutes. The most common approach is to walk up to where I am sitting with body language that practically screams LEAVE ME ALONE and sit down next to me or as close to me as possible, when the train is not crowded and there are many empty rows. Sometimes an overly friendly arm is draped over the railing behind me, or they attempt to lean in close to talk to me as if we are old friends. Without fail, the man or boy in question will lean to close and ask me
What are you reading?
Is that a good book?
What’s that book about?
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Why am I misunderstanding freewill?
Let's cut to the chase. People make choices. These choices have various levels of constraint on them for a variety of reasons. This has nothing to do with free will in a religious context.
Free will in a religious context is whether human choices are controlled by God, or if certain choices such as a choice of a religious tradition or belief in God are unconstrained by God. For an atheist there are no choices constrained by God as there is no God. It is really that simple.
If you want more on constrained choices, all social animals have what passes for a conscience which is trained initially by mama smacking herm on the butt when hesh does something not permitted by the herd or society. As hesh gets older mentors and/or alphas take over from mama with increasing severe punishments up to exclusion from the herd or tribe which is in effect a death sentence quick or slow depending on the environment. Those who watch the fate of one "thrown to the wolves" very quickly internally constrain the behavior that led to the action.
None of this is really conscious behavior, either in training or accepting the constraints of the conscience. It is simply part of staying alive in the group. Humans and perhaps other animals have some conscious control over the dictates of conscience, and may choose to behave differently from the group if necessary or desirable. You may call this free will or intelligent choice, it makes no difference. The alpha says frog you may or may not choose to hop. But you know in some cases refusing to hop is to be thrown to the wolves. In some cases the wolves are a better choice. This is free will.
In a religious context if a major component of your self worthiness is defined as sin, say not believing in the local God or one of His stupid rules, the atheist wolves may be the only choice. We really aren't as scary as mama tol' ya we are, but for some religious people especially teens suicide is a reasonable alternative. Always talk to an atheist first.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
After a few quick searches with the terms “pastor” and “atheist,” he discovered that a cottage industry of atheist outreach groups had grown up in the past few years. Within days, he joined an online network called the Clergy Project, created for clerics who no longer believe in God and want to communicate anonymously through a secure Web site.
Early in the article it mentioned that he couldn't pray for a parishioner in difficulty. This is typical of converts of every sort. Many atheists resent prayers and resent being asked to pray.
As a life long atheist, with many good friends who are devout, I have learned both to pray and recieve prayers without hypocricy. I learned this when a devout Catholic friend was in a profoundly tragic situation and asked me for help in the form of prayer. He knew I was an atheist but also had been to performances where I had sung catholic prayers. He said "Please pray for me. God even listens to atheist prayers. They are special for God since he gets so few of them."
I chose appropriate prayers for all involved and sang them as devoutly and meaningfully as I could. Certainly as far as I was concerned I was singing into a void, but a void which contained my friend's God. Where is the hypocricy here?
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
Friday, August 10, 2012
Tillich, op. cit., pp. 20-21 -- "Philosophy necessarily asks the question of reality as a whole, the question of the structure of being. Theology necessarily asks the same question, for that which concerns us ultimatly must belong to reality as a whole; it must belong to being. Otherwise we could not encounter it, and it could not concern us. Of course, it cannot be one being among others; then it would not concern us infinitely. It must be the ground of our being, that which determines our being or not-being, the ultimate and unconditional power of being. But the power of being, its infinite ground or 'being itself,' expresses itself in and through the structure of being. Therefore, we can encounter it, be grasped by it, know it, and act toward it. Theology, when dealing with our ultimate concern, presupposes in every sentence the structure of being, its categories, laws, and concepts."Atheist philosophy asks nothing except how do I navigate living between birth and death and interact reasonably with my fellow inhabitants of this planet. Tillich does not get to redefine philosophy as the question of the structure of being, let alone the ultimate and unconditional power of being BS er God. It is pure and unadulterated theology with no more worth to an atheist than Yahweh, God, the Higgs Boson or the tooth fairy. None of which provide anything useful to my life except perhaps some lessons from myth. 'Being itself' doesn't even have any useful mythology or lessons. The entire lesson is have faith in being itself and feel good. It doesn't even get me from one minute to the next. I know how to feel good without bullshit.
Tillich's ultimate concern is indeed theology as it deals with that overriding meaning or "Ground of Being" in one's life. It has no more to do with an atheist's everyday living between birth and death than God, god, or any other ultimate concern. An atheist is aware of and compliant with the mores of herm chosen social support group, but there is no worship or ultimate concern about those mores simply the natural and genetic imperative of a social animal.
Much of this comes from reflections on an undergraduate religion seminar focused on Tillich conducted by a leading academic theologian Dr. Robert McAfee Brown. His Doctorate was in the philosophy of religion.
Friday, August 3, 2012
I am the Creator of the Universe due to my Experience of Solipcism. Of course I am not going throw these pearls of Solipcism before the swine of theists. But trust me. I am the Creator of the Universe. If you piss me off I will remove you from the Universe after I die or maybe before. Only True Believers in Solipcism will still exist. Your puny gods die with me.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Social humanism is based on the fact that humans are extremely intelligent, rational, social animals whose very existence is based on support from a large group of other humans for child socialization, food production, social support, and economic activity. The beginnings of social humanism were in tribes of closely related people that were nomadic hunter-gatherers, and herders. Compliance with the mores of the tribe was reinforced from childhood as children played games based on those mores. The mores were also reinforced at social gatherings where music and dancing provided the mate selection opportunities for the single members of the tribe. Once families were established shortly after puberty, living was essentially support for the family and tribe in that order.
As agriculture became more important to the tribe expanded to a village and the social humanism focused on a central gathering place where the culture of the village was maintained and supported. Specialization and leisure permitted the the lore masters to become respected and supported members of the village. Titles varied, but they generally were healers, councillors, and leaders of the group activities for mate selection and lore reinforcement again with music and dance.
(To be continued.)
Friday, July 27, 2012
Atheists are frequently accused of having no moral standards because moral standards are more diffuse and driven by intelligent evaluation of social imperatives of both religious and secular sources. The most important stumbling block is how to deal with social transgressions without bigotry. The Christian paradigm of hating the sin and loving the sinner just doesn’t work for me because the sinner is the problem. The UU radical respect can and frequently does degenerate into “Officer Krupke.” It is nobody’s fault, and nobody can be held responsible for their behavior.
I have never liked either of these responses. I refuse bigotry, as no group or class is all bad, but I do pay attention to behavior of people in certain groups and make certain assumptions about the group based on those observations. To use a non-religious example, big investment bankers may be all right as neighbors, but once they get to work I have zero trust that they are being socially responsible. I would have no issue with holding them collectively responsible for financial crimes against humanity. Or, since corporations are now people, throwing all board members and officers in jail once fraud by the corporation is proved. They collectively are lacking in Frith and oathbreakers with the society they pretend to serve.
I am generally careful to differentiate individuals from the group they represent until they refuse to disassociate themselves from the socially dysfunctional actions of the group. I will admit that it is sometimes hard for some “Christian” denominations, as it seems that being antisocial is part of being in the denomination. But even in the worst of them some individuals can be decent outside of their place of worship.
As for individuals aside from any group, radical respect is a given until through specific actions they forfeit that respect. Again the Asatru concept of oathbreaker is very useful here. Radical respect assumes that all are signed on to the social contract of Frith or the secular self evident truths, and those that violate that contract have a tough rehabilitation program ahead of them not only to prove that they regret the violation but that they have taken steps to repair the damage caused by that violation. Lacking that they deserve no respect or compassion from me or my ERSSG.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
I was raised in a Unitarian family, and one of the features of UU RE is the study of other religions, ostensibly to broaden our spiritual resources. I became facinated by religion and studied it both to try to figure out why people I respected believed, and to see what I could learn from the traditions. I started singing religious music in the 4th grade and I have continued choral singing since. Therefore I have studied the Christian Liturgy, and prayers intensively and sympathetically to be able to perform them properly.
In all of that study, or perhaps because of it, I have never found a reason to believe in any of the traditions studied. I have learned much, and indeed broadened my spiritual resources but my definition of spiritual would be heresy in any of the religions I have studied as it has nothing to do with God or any supernatural influences.
Another critical reason I am an atheist is that I have studied many of the Sacred Texts, including the Bible in all of the major versions. The God(s) depicted in the Bible are generally immoral and most of the theology is dysfunctional for reasoning people. I know of no one who has really studied the Bible independently that is not an atheist.
Friday, July 13, 2012
however, I believe "spiritual but not religious" will replace organized religion.
Spiritual but not religious is the only rational human reaction to the reality of being alive, having to die, and realizing that the only legacy they can leave is the effect they have had on the important other people in their lives.
Spirituality is the dopamine mediated stimulation of the attention centers of the brain/mind that focuses the entire power of the mind on an important aspect of living including the reward centers of the mind that determine the truth of a concept for that mind. Without the distraction of religion, the mind can focus on that which makes life worth living, and trying to improve the environment in which the educated, intellgent individual lives.
This environment includes primarily the others in the ERSSG, but also the physical and social environment in which they all must live. A useful reference about this physical and social environment is Kwame Appiah's Cosmopolitanism. Note that religion is an important part of that environment even though religion is not important for the individual. It might also be noted that the only religions that will survive in that enviroment are rational and ecumenical. These religions will serve those who are unwilling or unable to take responsibility for their own spirituality.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
post-"Enlightenment" (supposedly) Autnomous "Modern" Humans, who value The Individual SELF above almost anyone or anything else -- even including "God" ...Post-enlightenment humans are generally well integrated into the interconnected and interdependent web of all humans and are well aware that the individual is a small but important part of the larger society. But for post enlightenment humans it is that society and their place in it that is important. Gods have no place in it.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Thinking about the rules of the game of Lets Get Laid.
The following comment appearing there is dependent on that post and comments.
I think the major problem for both men and women is "Getting laid." That is there are two types of sex. The patriarchial patterns are based on men sowing their seed wildly in their youth and (theoretically) more responsibly in their maturity. But in any event the woman is always a rapee. Willing or not.
The idea of getting laid, that is recreational sex with no seed sown either due to infertility or a barrier of some sort is a very recent phenomenon. As recently as my youth (1950's) there was no such thing. Both men and women have learn the new rules of recreational sex. The most important part of Niki's post was the last line "Still, I think all people must face that shame and confusion and embrace the awkward confusion that sexual communication creates." Learning the rules of a new game particularly when they are being written over the rules of the oldest games in The Book are never easy, and communication is the key. A lot of empathy helps also.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
I was frequently involved in God discussions at that time and found the effort of avoiding the Pronouns for God too much effort and found the shock of using Hesh and Herm in reference to God a useful result in my discussions. Typically it generated the assertion that God was male and that the proper Pronouns were He and His. This generally derailed the discussion into a useful discussion of God's testosterone levels.
When I came to beliefnet I continued the practice and for a long time linked on the words to a discussion on the old Gender and Sexuality boards. When I began to see "hesh" and "hir" or "herm" in the popular literature without explanation, (I admit to noticing each time) I quit linking particularly on this and the UU boards as everyone could figure out what I meant without the link from context although fundamentalist Christians and language conservatives continue to protest its use in reference to God.
As a card carrying male feminist I also eliminated the gender specific pronouns from my vocabulary as a general pronoun and use "hesh" and "herm" as my pronouns of choice when the gender of the referent is not known. This is particularly useful in calling attention to gender specific terms like "Actor," Waitress," or "Chairman." Traditionalists be damned. They need their consciousness raised. If it jars their reading or hearing of the term, they still need the consicousness raising.
More recently I have been using the terms when the referent is of known gender but the gender is not relevant in context. Reference to the author of a scientific paper was beat into my head by my then wife whose papers in a male chauvinist academic profession were referred to as "HER" papers as if they were therefore less important than "his" papers. They in fact were less important than "his" papers, even though in general they were signifiicantly better. It is no accident that women in science generally publish with initials only. Those who are members of misogynic religions need to have their consciousness raised. If they are offended by having to think about gender, too bad. They need to. Particularly the sexist males. They can be sure I intended to insult them with the gender inclusive pronoun.
As for the ESL issue, some languages particularly Asian languages are non-sexist in that the pronouns are non-specific. I live with Asians and have become used to hearing "she" and "her" being used as a pronoun for anybody. I don't bother to correct them as they are on my side. I suspect Asians would have more trouble with "he" and "she" in writing and speech than they would be with "hesh" and "herm."
Other languages are inherently sexist. I was at the installation of a new department head couldn't even introduce his staff because his native language didn't have a word for a female collegue. He did all right with the men, but the female who outranked the men caused an embarrassing for all search for an appropriate honorific.
I didn't have a lot of words of comfort for my dad then, but if he were here now, I'd tell him: you are going to live forever. Not floating around on a cloud, or at some bizzare feast with harps and angels, but in the actions of those you touched, and the people they touch, and so on.These thoughts are why atheists generally have days of remembrance or celebration rather than funerals, so we can share those little, and big influences the deceased had on our lives and the society of which we are a part.
I'd heard this concept before from humanists and such, and it always seemed kind of thin to me, sort of a "salvation lite" attempt at comforting the bereaved without bringing a god into it. But since my father's death, I've seen this in action, and I am here to testify, it is real. I see it in myself, when I catch a stranger's eye and smile. That's not someting that's native to me, or something I learned from a book. It's something my dad taught me by modeling it over and over, and I've seen it have profound effects on relationships with other people. I see it in my niece, when she plants a garden anywhere she stops for awhile, and when she shares the fruits with friends and neighbors. I see it in all my family, when we forgive each other again and again for our differences and misunderstandings, and stand beside each other when it counts.
I don't know if I am conveying this very well, but this revelation is meaningful to me. I can see it, I can feel it, I can watch people pass it on. It's immortality of a fine and active kind, and all of us can have it. We just have to live like it matters, and people around us will take care of the rest.
While many of those influences are anonymous, those that are important know but it doesn't really matter. While you are alive you know, and that is a more certain immortality than any little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the over decorated balcony can provide.
Monday, June 4, 2012
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Christianity (like most other religions) is used in two ways: to justify all the prejudices and power imbalances of society as it stands, or to call on people to transform that society towards the image of higher ideals. Doug MuderEven ignoring the Abrahamic misogyny of treating women as breeding chattel to carry the seed of the man which alone would disqualify Christianity as a force for social good, Christianity from the time of Paul has had the ideal of exploiting the sheep and to the extent possible the larger society for the benefit of the church leaders. The lip service to the ideals of Jesus is disgusting in its hypocrisy as nowhere in Christianity can they be found to be implemented or even recommended.
Individual Christians have been able to see beyond their faith for the good of the larger society, but in nearly all cases they have been considered heretics by their faith superiors.
Just for the record Doug, I do not consider Unitarianism, Universalism, or Transcendentalism to be Christian in any respect.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Pain is not necessarily bad, but pain caused by another human whether physical or mental is bad, in fact positively immoral for the one inflicting the pain.
I know these things because I am an intelligent social animal, and inflicting pain on others of your kind is a genetic prohibition.
You will note that of your 10 commandments 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are commanding not to inflict mental pain on others with certain others enumerated. And 6 commands that you not inflict physical pain. This is simply God adopting basic human morality to Herm needs. No one needs God to do this and in fact the only thing God does is carve out tribal exceptions to this basic human morality. See the rest of the Old Testament and all of Paul.
An unindoctrinated human will have not inflicting pain of any kind on others as a basic component of herm conscience which is the term we give to the genetic imperatives of living as an intelligent social animal.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Yet I also think that atheists would do well to steer clear of American politics. American politics is corrupt, the gamboling fields of the rich and the arrogant and those with delusions of grandeur, and is little more than an offshoot of American Christianity. In other words, I think that atheists would do well to reject both politics and religion and be not only atheistical but also apolitical.
I think this is actually the case at this point. Politics is simply involved in the distribution of useless money, that is money which doesn't produce anything. The producers of the world, the teachers, scientists, engineers and manufacturers, which according to my unscientific observations are largely atheistic and apolitical seem to be able to continue to find the working money to produce. They are happy to recycle useless money into creative ads and military hardware, but this is a minor part of the useless money equation.
The "unfortunate" part of all of this is that the useless money that used to be recycled to the religious poor is now reserved for the religious rich. But the religious poor may be figuring out that they are being abused by their religion's PACs and voting against religion if not God.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Prejudice.I spent many years in Manhattan in the "bad years" '60s and '70s. My preferred mode of transportation was walking at all hours of day and night. I either needed to get control of my prejudice or fear would keep me inside. Once I learned the signs of danger from individuals or groups, I found that racial and ethnic prejudice was actually creating danger for me by ignoring the trouble signs from "my kind of people." The few times I had trouble were because I didn't "cross the street" to avoid trouble signs from my kind.
During those years I came to understand that there is a difference between prejudice and bigotry. Prejudice is exactly what it sounds like: a pre-judgment, an opinion that you have before you learn any specific facts about the situation. Your prejudices may be justified or unjustified, they may save your life or create dangerous confrontations out of nothing.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
I LOVE PENIS!Facebook post of 17yo. male.
The thought occurred to me that if 17yo males didn't love penis, we wouldn't have armies, sport teams, or religions. 17yo male humans are no where near ready to assume the responsibility for family, so society provides many rituals which involve groups of 17-18yo males naked together. Society also has rules that acting out on this love of penis is not permitted but must be sublimated with male bonding into fraternities, sport teams, armies, and single sex religious orders. Historically there seems to have been some flexibility in acting out on homosexuality, but the more of hetersexual attraction at adulthood seems built in to all workable societies. Again historically this was accomplished by institutionalized rape of subjugated women, for the purpose of creating more 17yo males for the armies, and religions. (Sport teams are a relatively recent innovation in dealing with this propensity of immature males.) Fraternal orders seem to have been secular responses to religious same sex orders.
It will be interesting to see how the ERSSG will incorporate this propensity into the SSG. In part leaving the childhood society and male bonds when going away to college, and the pressures of high level studies, prevent male bonding, in fact sexual bonding of any type until near the end of studies, when both genders begin to hear the biological clock ticking loudly for the necessary reproductive phase of life.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
As the religious right is systematically destroying the education and hence competitiveness of their children in the secular world. They will end up in religious enclaves with no visible means of support. This is known as bad luck.
Scientific inquiry, and human rights for all will continue to flourish outside those enclaves. It may take a while, but probably not long as they have made half of the country's population their enemy. Politically this is suicide. But in the USA politics has been irrelevant for the productive sector since Regan, and the religious and the rich can fight over the scraps.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
So what do you think was "out of the box"?In the context of the time The Two Great Commandments were downright radical.
In the first he gives God back to the individual, taking mediation for God away from the priesthood. Once God is "Thy God" God can be anything you want Herm to be. True, your conditioning at that time will insure that He is a magical supernatural alpha, but he is your magical supernatural alpha, and he cares about you not the priests.
The second is as radical. Love your despised minority neighbor as thyself. If this isn't radical humanism I sure don't know of a better definition. Sure it is theistic humanism but then I know a lot of theistic humanists today. They have no problem with reconciling the love of God with the love of mankind just like Jesus told them to do.
This may in fact be the salvation of Christianity in a modern cosmopolitan world. "You are going to Hell" or "You are a slut" just isn't going to cut it any more. All of the reasonable Christians I know today have taken God away from the Church and the pastors and priests and have a personal relationship with "The God within" which allows them to interpret God's wishes in accordance with their own conscience.
Shh, don't tell them this is the slippery slope to giving up on God entirely.
We can forget the Beatitudes they were so out of the box that according to some they are stupid, impractical and out of the box today.
Oh yeah, that stupid turn the other cheek bit. Turns out that tit for two tats is optimal in many game theory scenarios.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke,”
Too little, too late. Maybe something like
As an unadulterated prick with no personal redeeming values I must think of all women as sluts or prostitutes or I have no hope of ever getting laid. As it is, porn is the usual solution as the porn pushers don't care who pays the bill. The attack was not on Ms. Fluke but on all women. I appologize for using her as an example.just might have a possibility of qualifying as an apology to Ms. Fluke. There is nothing he can do about the assault on all women.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
*The late Forrest Church, Universalist theologian.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
I, a life-long, wholly dedicated believer in God and one who thinks he has a reasonable basis for that belief, do not think that I have enough information to come to an absolute and accurate conclusion regarding the matter.At some point a thorough investigation having found nothing concludes that there is nothing to be found. In your quote you are in effect admitting that you have found nothing but hints and rumors of something valuable perhaps eternal life that keeps you chasing these hints and rumors in the hope that there will be a there there at least after you die.
I have no problem admitting I am not certain the hints and rumors of a life after death are all false. Since they all require different rituals and understandings of the mediator of that life after death, the only conclusion is that they are all false, and pursuing any one is chasing an invisible pink unicorn and destined to be a waste of time.
As a result I do not claim there is no God, I just live as if none of them are of any value. In addition I live my life as if there is no reasonable way to achieve an afterlife but to live this life as if it will be the only important criteria for any afterlife concierge. This has the immeasurable added value of insuring that if there is no afterlife, everything I do in this life is significant. Which puts responsibility for everything I do right where it belongs: on me. No savior, no one to do it over for me, no one to blame.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
I am not sure if I've really met any "cradle atheists."
You probably wouldn't know it if you had. Most cradle atheists pay no attention to religion and only do what is necessary to comply with the mores of the community. My father as an example played mental golf in church and the only comment we might get on the whole service would be "I wish the minister would stay with his boring sermon topics, I only got 12 holes played today."
My mother's family is atheist and incidentally feminist back to my great grandmother who was the matriarch. Most went to church as a social necessity, this was the midwest, but chose a Unitarian Church if available and a Congregational Church if not. That way when people asked where you went to church you had an answer, and whatever church was chosen had a decent choir, we were musical as well as atheist. The matriarch wrote children's stories and songs which were read and sung by all of us as children. Typically a g-greatgrandaughter changed a mildly derogatory (today) racial reference in one of her songs that was taught to the g-g-g-g-grandchildren.
Socialization was the responsibility of all, and morality was taught on the street as the responsibility of all adults. I remember quite clearly an incident when I was visiting an uncle as a child, and a store clerk overpaid the change by a few cents. My uncle returned the few cents, without a fuss but asked me if I would have done the same. I said sure, a few cents makes no difference, but a few dollars would be different. His comment "Dollars or cents, WE do not steal." WE was clearly "Our kind of people." To this day, I cannot download copyrighted content because "WE do not steal." In everything from sexuality to race relations to ordinary politeness the lesson was always the same "WE do not do it that way." If I wanted to be a part of WE and there was really no choice, there was no choice. In the family free will was a joke. We were encouraged to think rationally about everything, but there were a few rational conclusions that were mandatory. If we came to the wrong conclusions we were shown the logical errors in our reasoning.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
An atheist is a person who does not believe in God, gods or goddesses. Some atheists have considered the reasons, such as they are, that theists present for the existence of gods and have reached the conclusion that the evidence and arguments of theists are lacking. Other atheists are atheists because they've simply never adopted any belief in gods.
As a minimalist definition where one size fits all, it works just fine. Nonetheless a Budddhist atheist has a complete paradigm covering all the important aspects of living and dying. It simply does not include God concepts.
But it seems to me that if an atheist cannot deal reasonably with those important aspects of living and dying but simply says God answers are wrong, hesh is missing the essence of atheism, which is building a valuable life that does not depend in any way on God concepts positively or negatively. There are of course off the shelf belief systems that are atheistic, skepticism and Secular Humanism as a couple of examples, but it seems to me that they are still negative systems, denying God rather than offering reasonable alternatives that do not involve God.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
If we define community as "a free and voluntary gathering of individuals with shared goals and interests -- of persons who have not so much been forced together as have chosen to associate with one another" (Harris, p. 138), then secular people, whether urban or rural, will probably belong to a number of different communities that are based on their values, political stances, hobbies, interests, and ways of living.The reason that such people overwhelmingly live in large polyglot cities is the richness of the groups of like minded people that are available. My wife and I were early adopters of a dual income, dual parenting, atheist life style. In Manhattan I found many groups where we were not considered odd or unusual and had a choice of groups of every interest to choose from with a compatible philosophical viewpoint.
Just as an example, of hundreds of community choruses, and church choirs to choose from I joined a group whose board chose Bob DeCormier, a radical left folk arranger (Harry Belefonte, the Weavers, and Peter Paul and Mary) as its (classical) music director. Sure we sang the popular religious works, but as an example the Verdi Requiem was always dedicated by the music director to the performers of the Requiem at the Terezin Concentration Camp most of whose performers died at the Death Camps at Auschwitz, Treblinka et al.
Our children went to a left wing private school. Our Museum memberships were the Modern and Natural History as well as the mandatory Met. But even at the Met the groups we attended were intellecual groups. Please note the absense of atheism as a unifier. It probably was a fact that most of the people involved were atheist, but the political tenor of the times was that it was never mentioned, but assumed by all even the theists.
Friday, February 17, 2012
I have never been a Nietzschean, atheist or otherwise. That said, Nietzsche was one of the first to articulate the fact that if God is dead atheists are going to have to step up to the plate and create a godless world worth living in. As I see the world by and large atheists are doing just that. Theistic solutions just don't work any more, and the frantic political activity in the US is a desperate denial of that fact. Prominent atheists are almost irrelevant in the remaking of a modern world, it is the ordinary atheists quietly doing what is necessary to remake the world that are the Ubermenschen.
It is not incidental that the religious destruction of the ideal of an educated population has opened the way for the Chinese and Indians to leapfrog with the example the US provided. Fortuantely there is still a large part of the population that values education, and the religious can always work in the service industries these people use to support their educated life style. The fact that these are minimum wage jobs at best is God's will.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
I was part of a Requiem sung for a good Catholic friend. There was no hypocrisy there, for the duration of the requiem I was a believer helping other believers send their loved one to herm Lord Jesus Christ. My beliefs or lack of them had absolutely nothing to do with the performance. I was a human being helping other human beings deal with their grief.
A very good Catholic friend asked me to pray with him in a berievement situation. He knew I was an atheist, but he also knew that I knew his God. We were on our knees together in a chapel praying for the gift of strength for him to deal with the situation. Was I being a hypocrite or was I helping a friend in a difficult situation? He was the one that told me that atheist prayers are more valuable to God as they are always sincere.
I see no problem with an atheist priest suspending disbelief to perform his offices for the benefit of his parishioners. Since there is no God to care anyway, what is the difference if the priest complies sincerely with the rituals for the believers in his parish. If their belief in the myth helps them get through the week, what is the problem with an atheist facilitating that belief? He is simply a human being helping other human beings, not judging them.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
If we are to make any sense of this topic, Morality, we must distinguish between moral behavior and moral rules. Moral behavior is concerned with how we treat each other and how we treat other animals. When we mistreat someone, we should feel guilt or remorse. When we hear of someone mistreated, we should feel moral outrage. These feelings are innate and instinctive. We refer to these instincts that enable us to discern right from wrong as Conscience.There is a third distinction that must be considered: Community moral imperatives which preceed the moral rules. This is where the intersection of reason and moral outrage result in a workable community. And where workable communities may be in considerable conflict.
As an example consider the food animals. At one extreme is the community exemplified by PETA. At the other is the community of trophy hunters that waste the food that may be subsistance for other carnivores or even their poorer neighbors. In the middle we have a mixture of rules, and community standards for the ethical treatment of food animals. The rules basically are concerned with humane slaughter. Community standards which are rapidly and rationally evolving concern the treatment of food animals while alive. There is a local university where the community standard is that free range meat is the only meat served in campus eating places. It is served side by side with soy based products for the PETA crowd. If you want cheap feedlot meat products you must go off campus, and being seen in a feedlot or manufactured food establishment may result in community scorn at the very mildest. Most of the local off campus eateries must comply with the free range ethic to survive.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
As you know I use the Jefferson Bible as my main source for the details of the ministry of Jesus, mixed with my own analysis of the synoptics prior to discovering the Jefferson Bible. My childhood Unitarian statement of belief read in part "Unitarians believe in the fatherhood of God, the leadership of Jesus, and the progress of mankind (sic) ..." I did not believe it then either but obviously it made an impression.
I read the entire KJV Bible in middle school, gagging then as now on everything past Acts. I did better on the OT as useful myth than anything past John as Christian lies from beginning to end. It wasn’t until my abortive attempt at a philosophy major in the university that I was able to even study the end of the NT with any intelligence. It never said anything of use in the study of Jesus.
Two of my earliest lessons from Jesus that indicated to me that he was extraordinary for his time and place were the cleansing of the Temple, and the forgiveness of the whore. The first was a very public and radical break with the top down Jewish prevailing faith of the time. In effect equivalent to Ginsberg’s Howl for my generation. “You [the Pharisees and the Jewish establishment] have turned my Father’s house…” Note: Not the house of God, but the house of the personal God of Jesus. The very idea of God belonging to an individual and not the Jewish establishment that was the social structure of Jesus and his peers was just wild and crazy. The fact he wasn’t killed on the spot was testimony to the power of his personality and vision. The possibility exists that the "Occupy the Temple" movement was at his back.
The intervention in the stoning of the whore was not only a radical break with the law, but one of the earliest recognition of the humanness of even the lowest of women in ancient literature. In effect his statement “Let he [the human person] who is without sin, cast the first stone [at this female human person.]” Perhaps there were other instances of the treatment of ordinary women as human beings in ancient writings, but they were few and far between, and none that I am aware of that take on a group of angry men doing their lawful job.
The Sermon on the Mount, impractical as it was for actual living at the time, was again the gift of God to the ordinary people of the culture who would have been ignored by the priests and the religious establishment except as butts in the seats offering their hard earned pittances to the priests, er, God.
The summation of the Two Great Commandments particularly in light of his recent inhospitable treatment at the hands of a Samaritan and his subsequent use of a Samaritan as his example of the neighbor he was talking about still gags Christians, let alone the Jews of his culture. I find it significant that “Progressive Christians” have retreated to the Two Great Commandments as the essence of their faith in God and humanity.
All of this attributed as best we can discern to one insignificant itinerant preacher living off the “coins in the hat” as did most of the itinerant preachers who are lost in the sands of time seems to me extraordinary.