Friday, January 31, 2014

I Am Jesus. Ask me Anything.

This week our guest on Ladyatheist.blogspot is Jesus himself! I had an opportunity to sit down with him and ask some of the questions we've all had about him. He offered to answer your questions in the comments, too!

Me: Thank you for taking the time to join us here at Ladyatheist, Mr. Jesus

Jesus: No, L.A., thank you! Remember I have lived for an eternity already and will live for the rest of eternity, so these few minutes with you are *pffth* You're the one frittering away time you'll never get back.

Me: I guess my first question is where did you get those baby blues? Artists for centuries have painted you with blue eyes, and now here you are with blue eyes! According to a recent DNA study, Neanderthals of Europe had blue eyes too. Are you a Neanderthal?

Jesus: hahaha, no, I'm a god-spirit-man, but as people with blue eyes are the most superior of all humans, when I take human form I naturally have blue eyes.

Me: uhhh, so Hitler was right?

Jesus: Gotcha! hahaha! There are no superior humans. You all suck. Read Genesis.

Me: Well, that's good news, I guess.

Jesus: I do however, have a ginormous penis. Don't ask me to prove it. Just take it on faith. [he's winking at me now and doing that little cluck-cluck thing]

Me: I'm not a virgin, so forget about impregnating me.

Jesus: Hey, I'm a chip off the old block. No, wait... I am my old man. Just an old habit, I guess. Next question.

Me: About that trinity thing. How is it being your own father? Do you punish yourself?

Jesus: Still stuck on the penis thing, eh? Some things are better left to the imagination.

Me: Uh, well, I'd rather not...

Jesus: I'm just messing with you. That trinity stuff is baloney. My followers couldn't decide which kind of being I was so they decided I'd be all three.

Me: Well that was hinted at in the Book of John...

Jesus: Ahhhh, my biographies [he snarled his lip while saying this] All biographies are partial truths at best. Believe what you want to believe.

Me: That's one of the things I hope to sort out here. Which gospel gets it right? Was it Mark? the one without a lot of the supernatural stuff? Or one of the other ones that piles it on?

Jesus: Did you like that line about snake-handling? I whispered that into the ear of a copyist just for funsies. I didn't think it would make it into the final version! But it sure does weed out the idiots, doesn't it?

Me: Yeah, that's a good one. Does this mean your apostles didn't really walk on water?

Jesus: [sitting back, picking his teeth] Sandbar.

Me: What about turning water into wine?

Jesus: Secret stash in a cave! Clever, eh?

Me: Loaves and fishes? Curing the blind? Resurrecting Lazarus? Any of it true?

Jesus: Heck no! But you can't get published telling a story about a rabbi who preached about love and forgiveness and then got killed a year into his ministry. That would be dull reading.

Me: So blasting the fig tree. That was fiction too?

Jesus: No, that one I did.

Me: Why?

Jesus: Because I could.

Me: Jesus, sometimes you're a real dick.

Jesus: Yeah, just like my dad!

Me: So what about Paul? Did you really appear to him?

Jesus: I sure did!

Me: Ahhh, so the letters of Paul are...

Jesus: Oh, that's all nonsense. He made it up but I didn't stop him, so I guess you could give me credit. But he ate this weed he found growing next to the road without asking the locals what it was and the next thing you know... *poof* There I am!

Me: So tell me something he got wrong.

Jesus: For one, I didn't tell him to tell people not to get married. I told him not to eat weeds without knowing what they are! That ones' not his fault though. It got lost in translation.

Me: Speaking of translations... Some people say James was your real brother, some say the word "brother" didn't mean blood brother back then.

Jesus: Yep, had real brothers. I don't remember James though. I was the oldest and the little rugrats really got on my nerves.

Me: Speaking of your family, were you really were the product of immaculate conception?

Jesus: Hey, were you at your conception? How would I know?

Me: Well, the books say so...

Jesus: That's because my mom said so, and you don't go against a Jewish mother. What are you a shiksa?

Me: Well, actually...

Jesus: haha gotcha again! I knew that because I know everything!

Me: Since you have all the answers, I'll open the floor to questions from the readers. Anyone?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Indiana is a Demon-Haunted World

Gary, Indiana, also home to the religious Jackson family that spawned Michael Jackson, is home to a haunted house that fortunately responded to exorcism of the parent and not the children for once:

An evil spirit possessed this woman
A woman and three children who claimed to be possessed by demons. A 9-year-old boy walking backward up a wall in the presence of a family case manager and hospital nurse.
Gary police Capt. Charles Austin said it was the strangest story he had ever heard.

...Many of the events are detailed in nearly 800 pages of official records obtained by The Indianapolis Star and recounted in more than a dozen interviews with police, DCS personnel, psychologists, family members and a Catholic priest.

Ammons, who swears by her story, has been unusually open. While she spoke on condition her children not be interviewed or named, she signed releases letting The Star review medical, psychological and official records that are not open to the public — and not always flattering.

... Eventually, after listening to Campbell and Ammons talk about the house and visiting it, officials at one church told them the Carolina Street house had spirits in it. They recommended the family clean the home with bleach and ammonia, then use oil to draw crosses on every door and window.

 fortunately the Department of Children's Services stepped in:

In April 2012, DCS petitioned Lake Juvenile Court for temporary wardship of the three children. The request was granted.

DCS found that Ammons neglected her children's education by not having them in school regularly. The agency made the same finding in 2009, its records show.

Ammons told Washington there were times she could not send the kids to school because "the spirits would make them sick, or they would be up all night without sleep."

 and the kids saw actual experts rather than cranks or exorcist priests:

Clinical psychologist Joel Schwartz, who evaluated Ammons' daughter and older son, came to a similar conclusion.

"There also appears to be a need to assess the extent to which (Ammons' daughter) may have been unduly influenced by her mother's concerns that the family was exposed to paranormal experiences," Schwartz wrote.

And DCS instructed the mom:
she needed to use "alternate forms of discipline not directly related to religion and demon possession,"

 A Reverand Maginot led a police investigation of the house:

Or if someone had died in the house and was buried under the stairs, it could explain paranormal activity, Maginot added.

One of the police officers dug a 4-foot by 3-foot hole beneath the stairs, unearthing a pink press-on fingernail, a white pair of panties, a political shirt pin, a lid for a small cooking pan, socks with the bottoms cut off below the ankles, candy wrappers and a heavy metal object that looked like a weight for a drapery cord, police records state.

Finding nothing else, the officer replaced the dirt and raked over it.

After being exorcised and then moving away...

It would be the last time Ammons saw Maginot. She and her mother drove back to Indianapolis, where they say they now live without fear.

Ammons' old home on Carolina Street became an object of local curiosity — so much so that the owner and andlord, Charles Reed, called the Gary Police Department to ask officers to stop driving by the house because it was scaring his new tenant.

He said there were no problems in the home before or after Ammons and her family lived there.

And we have a happy ending:

"No demonic presences or spirits in the home," DCS family case manager Christina Olejnik wrote in team meeting notes dated Jan. 10, 2013. She did not return calls from The Star seeking comment.

"The family is no longer fixated solely on religion to explain or cope with the children's behavior issues," Olejnik and her supervisor wrote in a request for dismissal of wardship dated Jan. 24, 2013.

For her part, Ammons said it was not the psychologists who resolved her problems but God.

"When you hear something like this," she said, "don't assume it's not real because I've lived it. I know it's real."
Sorry, lady, we're all immune to your story if this poll is any guide.  Few minds have been changed by reading this bizarre story:

I have to admit, though, I'd like to know what possessed her to dye her hair that ridiculous color and smear that horrendous eye shadow on her eyelids.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Another faked "reality" show

Say it ain't so!

Mother Jones claims that "Call of the Wildman" nuisance animal show is staged, and the animals aren't necessarily treated well.  And... *gasp*  forms weren't properly filled out!

A California court found that it's legal for Storage Wars to seed the storage lockers up for bid in order to make the show more interesting.  i.e., fake "reality" is protected under the First Amendment.

What does this have to do with atheism?

Well, human beings like a good story, and it's easy for us to fool each other.  A clever charlatan can easily make up a story that will grow legs, wings, and supernatural godlike abilities.  The New Testament is a much better read than "Bad-tempered fundamentalist rabbi gets executed after attacking Temple moneychangers."

Who would pay money for that?

Friday, January 17, 2014

America: Where Religions Sprout like Mushrooms in a Dank Forest

When Thomas Jefferson reassured the Danbury Baptists that a wall separating church and state would prevent the majority Congregationalists in Connecticut from denying Baptists the rights of citizenship, he couldn't have predicted that non-establishment of religion by the government would enable the establishment of so many religions.

If America were truly founded as a "Christian nation," there would have to be a definition of "Christian." And if there were an official religion, and it was "Christianity" by whatever definition Congress would have chosen (it would have been Anglican), then none of these beliefs could have developed:

1812  Reformed Mennonite Church

1816  African Methodist Episcopal Church

1840  Mormonism

1840  Spiritualism

1863  Seventh Day Adventist Church

1875  Christian Science

1881  Church of God (Anderson, IN)

1886  Church of God (Cleveland, TN)

1906  Pentecostalism 

1908  Church of the Nazarene

1914  Assemblies of God

1916  Jewish Science

1917  Jehovah's Witnesses 

1920  Reconstructionist Judaism

1927  International Church of the Foursquare Gospel

1953  Church of Scientology

1955  Branch Davidians

1957  United Church of Christ

1968  Disciples of Christ

1973  Jews for Jesus

Non-denominationalism is all the rage since then:
Prosperity theology, televangelism, and megachurches from the 1980s to today represent the trend toward non-denominational churches.   Though technically non-dogmatic, most of these seem remarkably similar to Southern Baptists in their beliefs.  By distancing themselves from any central authority, they can tailor their dogma to the wishes of the pastor(s) or congregation.

After all, if any denomination is free to practice in the U.S., then a denomination of one congregation is free as well.

Dominion theology, in which Christians seek to have dominion over everyone else in their "kingdom," has also gained some traction.  Coincidentally, it really took off after Roe v. Wade established abortion as a woman's right.

So ...
Religious freedom has been a two-edged sword.  Believers are free to sell their souls to whichever belief system wins them over in the marketplace of ideas.  But.... they have to let the heathens, hypocrites and heretics have their way, too.

I wonder how many American Baptists know they owe a debt to concept of a "Wall of Separation" between church and state.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

African-American Atheists (Documentary)

I'm white, but I've spent a lot of time in African-American communities and work places, and I found the level of religiosity in African-Americans dwarfs white religiosity by far.

January 11 Link Round-Up

Tired of their followers making up their own shit, Baptists consider using a catechism to let kids know what they're getting into when they get dunked.

Six Chicago Catholic schools are closing.  Kids will have to get groped elsewhere now.

Jeffrey Taylor offer 15 responses to common believer tropes in Salon.

Global carnivore loss has devastating impact ("trophic cascade") on ecosystems. 

Fukushima truthers took about 30 seconds to put their spin on a conjoined whale fetus that washed up on a beach last week.

Video of the week:  L. Ron Hubbard's great grandson on his family tree:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Greetings from Muncie!

The polar vortex that froze much of the United States was the perfect opportunity for the boiling water experiment: toss boiling water into the air and watch it turn to snow! .... or get burned.

Ball State students had some fun during their snow days and this pic went viral

Breaking the Faith: The Final Episode

So apparently this series was more of a mini-series.  The last episode aired this week.

The episode sums up the various experiences of the eight young adults.  One of the boys was on a quest to find his mother, and had hired a private investigator to help him.  An "informant" informed him that his mother is being "re-educated," a final confirmation of the definition of Jeff's FLDS as a cult. 

Themes from other episodes carried through, such as the painful loss of family and ambivalence toward each other as surrogate family.  Only one of the people (I should say "characters" but they are real people, just fictionalizing themselves) struggles openly with religion as a whole.  He isn't interested in it, having escaped from one he doesn't want to be tied down by another.  One of the women seems defensive about the FLDS's religious principles but has no desire to be one of several wives.  She's the one who left to find her boyfriend, found him, and is now engaged to him.   (Awwwww)

A final update for each one comes at the very end, and several are working toward their GEDs.  I wish the series had explored the issue of education.  These kids are only educated to about the fifth or sixth grade level, if that, and then are basically enslaved.  They either become mommy's little helpers, if girls, or farm hands and trade workers if boys.

And right on the heels of this happy ending, there begins another series:  Escaping the Prophet.  Link goes to introduction of Flora Jessop, who helps people escape.  This series has the potential to have more drama, if it is more about escaping the "Crick" and less about clothes.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

I have no idea what the words are but this is one reverend I don't mind listening to:

Sunday, January 5, 2014

January 4 Link Round-up

Yeah, so you can buy pot in Colorado now.  If you've been living under a rock this would be news to you.

And now on to the interesting news:

Chicago Natural History Museum blogger stands up to internet sexism mysogynistic bullying. (Be sure to watch the video!)

Islamic women want equality without giving up their religion: The Rise of Islamic Feminists

Hemant Mehta has advice for the pastor who is trying out atheism for a year.  So do his many commenters.  My advice:  Remind yourself constantly that nobody can read your mind.  That is the greatest freedom I've found since embracing atheism - not worrying that my random thoughts will be eavesdropped on and judged.

The atheist columnist for Religion News Service lists top 10 atheist stories ("defining moments") of 2013.

The local Muncie paper reports on allegations of favoritism being shown toward intelligent design proponent Gonzalez.  Perhaps innuendo is more correct, but last year's ID controversy seemed to take on another dimension when he was hired.

Video of the week: Anubis 2814 wonders if we're seeing the end of youtube atheism's heyday.  Lots of shout-outs, and I'll try out some of the channels he mentions.  I have unsubscribed to The Amazing Atheist and The Cult of Dusty.  They went too far off-topic for me.  (Does anyone care how much pot Dusty smokes?)  So I'll take a look at some of the youtubers mentioned here: