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Echoes and Mirrors » religion

Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

Thus Spoke Bill Donahue, or, How I Learned to Relax and Embrace Religious Impotence

Friday, May 9th, 2014

I don’t even know how to contextualize this; I suppose it doesn’t matter, in a sense. Bill Donahue recently posted:

We do not have to worry about the Taliban in the United States—religious fanatics are properly impotent. But we do have to worry about their secular counterpart—atheist fanatics. It is their impotence that we must secure.

To be perfectly honest, this demonstrates not only a woeful lack of self-awareness, but also a childishness. Either he’s confused on what impotence entails or he’s reversed the causality in order to gain sympathy. I’m thinking it’s the latter.

But what most interests me is that a religious leader is speaking about social impotence and power in a way that echoes Nietzsche’s thoughts on the ‘priestly caste’ in The Genealogy of Morals, which is both amusing in its lack of self-awareness and pure irony. In Nietzsche’s view, promoters of religion are, indeed, ‘properly impotent.’ But that impotence is what makes them fanatical to the point of being dangerous, not something that makes them safe. Donahue makes the further mistake that this impotence is something that can be imposed by society. Rather, it is this impotence that has demarcated the ‘castes’ (in keeping with Nietzsche) and caused society to have become stratified in the way it has.

Thus spoke Nietzsche (from the Francis Golffing translation):

“The chivalrous and aristocratic valuations presuppose a strong physique, blooming, even exuberant health, together with all the conditions that guarantee its preservation: combat, adventure, the chase, the dance, war games, etc. The values of the priestly aristocracy is founded on different presuppositions. So much the worse for them when it becomes a question of war! As we all know, priests are the most evil enemies to have – why should this be so? Because they are the most impotent. It is their impotence which makes their hate so violent and sinister, so cerebral and poisonous. The greatest haters in history – but also the most intelligent haters – have been priests. Beside the brilliance of priestly vengeance all other brilliance fades. Human history would be a dull and stupid thing without the intelligence furnished by its impotents. […] Whatever else has been done to damage the powerful and great of this earth seems trivial compared with what the Jews have done, that priestly people who succeeded in avenging themselves on their enemies and oppressors by radically inverting all their values, that is, by an ac of the most spiritual vengeance. […] It was the Jew who, with frightening consistency, dared to invert the aristocratic value equations good/noble/powerful/beautiful/happy/favored-of-the-gods and maintain, with the furious hatred of the underprivileged and impotent, that ‘only the poor, the powerless, are good; only the suffering, sick, and ugly, truly blessed. But you noble and mighty ones of the earth will be, to all eternity, the evil, the cruel, the avaricious, the godless, and thus the cursed and damned!’” (167-8)

This seems to really parallel the odd vibe one sometimes gets from Christians in the United States wherein the Christians are the oppressed in the social equation, despite their overwhelming majority and firm grip on institutional power.


Whiney Little Bitches

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Hat-tip: Martin S Pribble

Also, maybe we’d actually be exploring space. And found those big-tittied green chicks. Science, I know I’ve been harsh on you for not giving me spaceships and time-travel, but you’re delays have been partly excused. Now: get to building me a spaceship. And cure cancer.


Rapture Time!

Friday, May 20th, 2011

So, if you believe today is the end I’m willing to take anything you won’t be needing anymore: houses, cars, daughters, et cetera.

Just leave me a comment and we’ll get the details worked out before God destroys the world. Unless you believe you can take it with you, which means you’re not a very good Christian and will most likely be stuck here with us heathens to die and go to hell. So you should keep your stuff as it might come in handy for surviving the zombies, anyway.


Of course I posted that too soon, Australia

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

So Australia, I was hasty in my clicking ‘publish’ not because I was wrong or felt bad about making knifey-spooney jokes, but because America being a rotting cesspool of Religiously fanatic politicians that pander to minority watchdog groups is more right than ever. From the AHA:

The American Humanist Association (AHA) expressed concern with the religiously motivated attacks on Hawaii’s gubernatorial candidate, Neil Abercrombie. The claims, which declare Abercrombie’s voting record “anti-Christian”, were produced by Island Values, a group comprised of volunteers and supporters of Muffi Hannemann, Abercrombie’s opponent.

“There are acceptable and unacceptable candidates,” the Island Values statement read. “Neil Abercrombie is unacceptable. He declares no religious affiliation.”

“This attack on Neil Abercrombie is filled with blatant religious prejudice that has no place in a productive, civil campaign” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Religious affiliation doesn’t indicate how qualified a candidate is to serve the public. Claims that having no religion is ‘unacceptable’ are inconsistent with the intent of our nation’s founding fathers.”

The U.S. Constitution’s No Religious Test Clause, Article VI, paragraph 3, states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Australia elected an openly atheist woman to be their leader. In the US, any hint of something like that causes a shitstorm of outrage from a dozen people with money and bullhorns.


Way to go Australia

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

You’ve re-elected Julia Gillard.

I find this fascinating because you’ve not only elected an atheist, but you re-elected an atheist. I don’t think that could ever happen here; politicians are the leading sellers of “The Fear Of God” in America. It totally blows my mind and makes me a little envious. Maybe this can be the proof that the world needs that atheists aren’t immoral or crazy.

So I may know nothing about Australian politics outside of this, and I’m not sure exactly what the Labour party is (but I could make an educated guess) I do know that Foster’s beer sucks, that stupid Outback restaurant has nothing to do with Australia, and that dingos eat babies. I’ve even made Australian girls say that line for me, so it must be true.

Actually, everything I know about Australia I learned from Quigley Down Under and The Simpsons.


Australian PM is an Atheist

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Gillard won’t play religion card – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was a regular at Canberra church services and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is known as a devout Catholic.

In contrast, Ms Gillard says that while she greatly respects other people’s religious views, she does not believe in God.

Ms Gillard has been quizzed on personal topics including her attitude to religion and her relationship with her partner during interviews this morning.

She says does not go through religious rituals for the sake of appearance.

“I am not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel,” she said.

“I am what I am and people will judge that.

“For people of faith, I think the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine.”

That’s pretty cool. I don’t think we will see anything like that here in the states for a very, very long time. I think it would be better sooner than later.

Too bad most Americans think Australia is next to Germany or that they’re just like us with funny accents.


South Carolina Senator is a Fat, Racist Tool

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Sen. Knotts (R-SC) calls Haley a “Fucking Raghead” and then apologizes for saying “fuck”:

Knotts says he believed Haley has been set up by a network of Sikhs and was programmed to run for governor of South Carolina by outside influences in foreign countries. He claims she is hiding her religion and he wants the voters to know about it.

“We got a raghead in Washington; we don’t need one in South Carolina,” Knotts said more than once. “She’s a raghead that’s ashamed of her religion trying to hide it behind being Methodist for political reasons.”

Holy fucking crazy, batman. How the fuck did somebody like this get elected? Oh, because he’s “not racist,” huh:

Knotts, a former boxer and cop from West Columbia, said he wasn’t worried about being called a racist for the remarks he made. He says he was elected to the Senate to represent his constituents which he says he does well. He says many of his supporters are black.

“This is Jakie Knotts trying to let the people know,” he said about his motivations for leveling the inflammatory charges against a minority Republican frontrunner for governor just days before the June 8 primary elections. He says he’s called her a raghead before.

Oh, so he’s pulling the old “I have black friends,” card. But because she’s not Asian or black, it’s okay to be racist. Just the same way it was fine to bully German-Americans during WWII. Or imprison Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor.

Knotts later apologized for his comments, which showed up in the morning papers.

“My ‘raghead’ comments about Obama and Haley were intended in jest,” Knotts said in a statement. “Bear in mind that this is a freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub. It’s like local political version of Saturday Night Live.”

Aaaand… “it was a joke” card played handily after the real media  caught wind of it.

Knotts said that South Carolina is a religious community.

“We need a good Christian to be our governor,” he said. “She’s hiding her religion. She ought to be proud of it. I’m proud of my god.”

I am confounded and befuddled by this statement. I’m not sure what he means with this string of weasel words or that it even constitutes a coherent thought.

Okay, South Carolina, please secede again. I won’t mind using my passport to cross the river for beer on Sundays (provided your religious community continues to allow that). I’m not even sure voting this guy out of office and Haley into office would be enough. Just get the fuck out, and take Utah with you.


I know why the Palestinians are angry

Friday, June 4th, 2010

It’s probably the lack of nutmeg to make really great French Toast with.

Or, failing that, the fact that what they’re getting is barely enough to sustain themselves without the opportunity to improve the living conditions. And also, no meat.

But hey, the situation is so polemic and tragic that I just can’t help but feel bad.


Adam Savage’s speech delivered to the Harvard Humanist Society

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

If Daniel Dennett is right— that there’s a human genetic need for religion— then I’d like to imagine that my atheism is proof of evolutionary biology in action.

Read it here.


Mysticism linked to Brain Damage

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Links to Spirituality Found in the Brain

Scientists have identified areas of the brain that, when damaged, lead to greater spirituality. The findings hint at the roots of spiritual and religious attitudes, the researchers say.

The study, published in the Feb. 11 issue of the journal Neuron, involves a personality trait called self-transcendence, which is a somewhat vague measure of spiritual feeling, thinking, and behaviors. Self-transcendence “reflects a decreased sense of self and an ability to identify one’s self as an integral part of the universe as a whole,” the researchers explain.

In light of this discovery that brain damage makes people feel more spiritual, I think its good to revisit William James and his take on drugs and alcohol in relation to religious experience (Note: both Alcohol and Nitrous Oxide cause brain damage).
William James – The Varieties of Religious Experience:

In a recital like this there is certainly something suggestive of pathology. * The next step into mystical states carries us into a realm that public opinion and ethical philosophy have long since branded as pathological, though private practice and certain lyric strains of poetry seem still to bear witness to its ideality. I refer to the consciousness produced by intoxicants and anaesthetics, especially by alcohol. The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour. Sobriety diminishes, discriminates and says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes. It is in fact the great exciter of the Yes function in man. It brings its votary from the chill periphery of things to the radiant core. It makes him for the moment one with truth. Not through mere perversity do men run after it. To the poor and the unlettered it stands in the place of symphony concerts and of literature; and it is part of the deeper mystery and tragedy of life that whiffs and gleams of something that we immediately recognize as excellent should be vouchsafed to so many of us only in the fleeting earlier phases of what in its totality is so degrading a poisoning. The drunken consciousness is one bit of the mystic consciousness, and our total opinion of it must find its place in our opinion of that larger whole. –

Nitrous oxide and ether, especially nitrous oxide, when sufficiently diluted with air, stimulate the mystical consciousness in an extraordinary degree. Depth beyond depth of truth seems revealed to the inhaler. This truth fades out, however, or escapes, at the moment of coming to; and if any words remain over in which it seemed to clothe itself, they prove to be the veriest nonsense. Nevertheless, the sense of a profound meaning having been there persists; and I know more than one person who is persuaded that in the nitrous oxide trance we have a genuine metaphysical revelation.

I think this could explain a lot of the unreasonable and broken arguments the intelligent design and creationist folks drag out regularly: they are unable to reason because their brains are broken.