Friday, May 31, 2013


Here's an article about a Cheerios commercial featuring a happy interracial family. YouTube had to close the comments down after a large number of obnoxious people posted that it was "disgusting" and made them "want to vomit." How depressing. Interracial marriage ought not to be something people even take much note of any more, let alone anything anyone would publicly state opposition to (even on the internet, where morons say all sorts of moronic stuff). These people are pitiful.

Separation between church and state? Pish tosh!

One of the things that most amazes me about hard-right conservatives is their (self-serving) belief that the Founding Fathers never actually intended for there to be any real or significant separation between the church and the state. This link gives a good summary of their position. Basically, they believe that the First Amendment means only that no national religion may be established, and that no "sectarian policy" be pushed on the federal government or any individual state. They seem to envision a better world in which public school children are preached at constantly, and with Ten Commandments monuments marking every bit of public land. (One wonders if Muslim and Buddhist teachers would have the same freedom to talk about their religion, and if Pagan monuments would be as welcome as Ten Commandments ones, but of course they'd probably get around that little issue by falling back on the old chestnut that "this is a Christian country," thus neatly limiting religious freedom only to those they agree with.)

What I really find amusing here is the contention that the ACLU has used the First Amendment to "tell pastors that they do not have the right to speak freely from their pulpits applying Scripture and church teaching to candidates and elections." I don't believe anyone's ever argued that. Churches aren't "public" in the sense that they're on government land. That's obvious. But tax-exempt institutions can't make political endorsements, which seems perfectly reasonable to me. If churches don't like this, there's a simple way around it-- start paying taxes, and then the government can't tell you what to do.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sci-fi religion: Are you SURE you want to hang out with god eternally?

Let's say for the sake of argument there really is a god up there in the sky, and he's eternal and all-powerful. Would you really want to meet him briefly, let alone live with him, under his power, for all eternity?

This is a topic that's been explored by numerous science fiction stories. One of my favorites is Isaac Asimov's short story "The Last Answer" (not to be confused with the better-known "The Last Question"), in which an atheist physicist dies, and, much to his surprise, finds himself in an eternal afterlife. But the afterlife isn't the lovely heaven the physicist half expects; instead it's more of a prison, and the entity running the show doesn't really give a damn (so to speak) about the creatures it saves. In fact, the people it saves are only cogs in its greater plan, and it's using them rather than cherishing them.

It's a creepy story that turns the notion of an eternal god around and asks: What if god weren't all that great a person? What if heaven weren't an eternity of joy and love after all? Do you really know what you're worshipping? And are you really, really sure you want to live forever, anyway?

They're all good questions that aren't contemplated thoroughly enough by most theists. Even in the Bible, the Judeo-Christian God doesn't really come across as the sort of guy into whose keeping I'd want to entrust my soul for all eternity. He's hot-tempered and cranky at best, outright vicious at worst. He sends bears to rip up mouthy children, destroys towns and commands his people to kill the survivors and rape the female children, and sends floods to eradicate all life on earth. And that's God as seen through the eyes of his press agents! What might God really be like? I don't know, but I'm not sure I'd want to find out.

Happily, I won't have to:-).

Creepy stranger behavior

I had to drive my daughter to school unexpectedly today (the bus didn't show up). It's a long trip, and I hadn't bothered to fill my tank the night before, so we had to stop by a convenience store and put a bit of gas in. As I finished pumping the gas, a lady pulled up behind me, got out of her car, and came toward me smiling and waving a sheaf of papers, saying she wanted to tell me about Jesus.

Seriously? Who approaches complete strangers who are innocently pumping gas and tries to tell them about freakin' Jesus when they can't get away? That's intrusive, creepy, and shows a complete lack of understanding of the social graces. I said, "I'm sorry, I'm in a hurry" (which was in fact true, as my daughter was in danger of being late) and got back in my car, but now I sort of wish I'd said, "Sure, let me have one of those brochures. And hey, let me get you one of my business cards-- I write erotica, and I'm sure you'd like to read it."

Actually I'm glad I didn't say that, because I'm not in the habit of rudely accosting strangers. Too bad the same can't be said for some Christians.