More Historical Fiction

This one is from Evid3n3ce’s discovery of the origin of the Judeo-Christian God.

The more you see, the harder it is to unsee.  That’s why, as Evid3nc3 himself found out, as the pillars of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition are eliminated one by one, there is a point at which the whole construct falls apart.  A person who gets to this stage experiences the world with an entirely different perspective.  There is no going back.  And all attempts by Christian relatives and well meaning friends to bring you back into the fold are going to meet with failure on their part and frustration on yours.  As far as the non-believer is concerned, there’s nothing left to talk about unless the believer also wants to have his or her eyes opened.  To the non-believer, the believer is living a cramped existence, covered with an almost impenetrable shell.  It prevents the truth from getting in and for the believer to get out.  But once you’re out, the shell is not big enough to contain you anymore.

It has occurred to me, well, several things have occurred to me lately. The first is that with the age of the internet, it’s very easy for people to learn things on their own.  The guidance of a spiritual mentor is almost entirely absent on the internet.  That’s why Jehovah’s Witnesses are strongly advised to avoid YouTube.  There are way too many apostates giving their testimony without a filter.  And when you inadvertantly stumble on something like the Documentary Hypothesis, exploring it on your own can give you all kinds of ideas that organized religion would prefer you didn’t have.  And let’s not even get into liberal Christianity with it’s complete abstraction of God to the point of near non-existence.

The internet could be a real threat to the Judeo-Christian organization.  People will get wiser.  They will be harder to control.  They will start skyping people in foreign countries where God is just a fading memory.

Secondly, right now, our country doesn’t resemble the pre-American Revolutionary era with it’s anti-tax with no representation fervor.  No, right now, we resemble pre-Revolutionary France.  We have an extremely powerful religious faction that owns a lot of property and conducts its business tax free.  In the last few decades, this first estate has joined forces with the wealthy and well connected in politics.  The religious are determined to keep their property and tax exemptions and their hold on the lives of their flocks and in turn they hand their votes over to the new American aristocracy.  Now, I see the Catholic bishops in a whole new light.  It’s not reproductive rights they’re concerned with.  It’s protecting their own piece of the American pie at regular citizens’ expense.  After all, when the rich refuse to pay taxes and the social safety net becomes a tattered shred, who knows what citizens might demand of their churches? It’s better that the faithful demand comfort and solace and turn their thoughts away from the tax exemptions and exemptions from secular authority.  If history is any guide on this, that strategy is not going to work for too much longer unless the right wing can really lock up the electorate to the point where political change is impossible.  But then, nothing is impossible.  Just ask the French.

Finally, some really fanatical religious people, especially the apocalyptic variety who are waiting on the Rapture, seem to have a fascinating compulsion to protect themselves from death.  Now, why would that be?  It is very anti-Christian to resist the one thing that proves the faith you profess.  What kind of person who believes in the resurrection wants to skip the pre-requisite step?  The kind of person who immediately comes to mind is a homophobic person.  That is not to say that such Christians are closeted homosexuals who are projecting their hatred of themselves onto others.  No, I’m thinking that Rapturist Christians are closeted atheists and agnostics.  They fear death because they don’t really believe there’s an afterlife.  They’re smart enough to know that the whole religious construct doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.  They frantically try to protect themselves from other points of view that may challenge their faith.  They’re sticking their fingers in their ears singing “la-la-la, I can’t HEAR you” because the last thing they want to think about is the possibility that death means nothingness. The Rapture gives them a way out.  If they believe fervently that there is a Rapture, they never have to worry about finding out there is no heaven or hell.  Or God.  Scary thought.  Somehow, it never occurs to them to calm down and wait to find out what happens when we die.  The thought simply terrifies them.  Something to think about the next time you meet one of them.

Monday: logical conclusions

Digby watched the Sunday shows so I wouldn’t have to and posted Santorum’s rant about Kennedy’s 1960 statement that he wasn’t going to be run by the Pope just because he wanted to be the first Catholic president.

So funny, Santorum’s reaction reminded me of a similar rant from a guy at work we used to have lunch with who proclaimed that he hated New York City so much that if it fell into the ocean, he would not “shed a tear”.  For Rick Santorum, just the thought of Kennedy saying he would put his religious preferences secondary to his Constitutional duties made him “want to throw up”.  Here’s more:

“That makes me throw up and it should make every American who is seen from the president, someone who is now trying to tell people of faith that you will do what the government says, we are going to impose our values on you, not that you can’t come to the public square and argue against it, but now we’re going to turn around and say we’re going to impose our values from the government on people of faith, which of course is the next logical step when people of faith, at least according to John Kennedy, have no role in the public square,” he said. Santorum also said he does not believe in an America where the separation of church and state is “absolute.”

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country,” said Santorum. “This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion. That means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square. Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, ‘faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate.’ Go on and read the speech ‘I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.’ It was an absolutist doctrine that was foreign at the time of 1960,” he said

I don’t have any doubt that there are people who want to impose their values on the rest of us using government resources.  But from the evidence I’ve gathered in the last couple of years, it looks like the Catholics and other religious organizations are doing most of the impositions.   Those of us who want to keep state and church separate have no problem with Catholic values or religious values as long as we’re not forced to live by them.

But of course, this issue is not going to go away if the right has anything to say about it.  It’s amusing that there are so many Democrats in places like Michigan who think that prolonging the Republican primary is going to make it easier for Obama to win by pointing out how radical the Republicans really are. It’s pretty childish when you think about it.  It’s one thing to make a protest vote based on ethics and in support of voters’ rights.  It’s quite another to ignore all of the pain and suffering around you and work on behalf of the guy who has spared only the barest minimum of his enormous powers to alleviate any of it.  Note that making it harder for Obama to win Democrats’ votes would be a better use of their time but there’s no talking to people who are convinced they have the true religion.  What’s going to happen is that eventually, the Republican side of the aisle will get their shit together, a nominee will be selected, it won’t be Santorum but maybe he’ll get the second spot to keep the Mormon on the straight and narrow.  And then all of the money they’ve been saving up for the general election will be rolled out.

No, the economy is not getting better and with the guarantee of higher gas prices, it’s bound to get worse.  The middle class is still unemployed.  Yes, it looks like things are getting better in Michigan but Michigan had nowhere to go but up.  Here in New Jersey, the state everyone seems to be consciously avoiding, it still feels like the Great Depression where everyone I know has either been laid off, is in danger of a layoff or has been rehired and laid off several times in some kind of vicious cycle.  Oh and stay tuned for the Republican Congress to put Obama and the Democrats in more compromising situations.  Because that’s just the kind of people they are.

But let’s get back to Santorum’s pissy little rant about Constitution induced nausea.  The theme for this year’s election season is “religious liberty”, as if you’re not already aware.  The Republicans are going to beat this drum relentlessly.  And they’ve got all of the conservative churches onboard this year.  Obama is going to have to fight for the evangelical vote this year.  It’s all about “morals”.  The problem with the world is that no one has any morals anymore and God is angry and if we would only behave, the country could get back on its feet.  But Santorum let something slip about the “public square”.  If you’ve been following the Reason Rally concept, one of the problems that face secularists is that they’ve been almost completely shut out of the public square.  No one consults with the non-believers or strict secularists about what they think is right and moral anymore.  Hard to believe that it was precisely these people, the people of the Enlightenment, who wrote the first documents separating the colonies from the motherland.  The evidence is all over the Declaration of Independence but the religious choose to ignore this and the Enlightemnent’s descendants.   I think that’s about to change but we’ll see. The difference between then and now is that the new enlightenment thinkers benefit from advances in our understanding of the natural world that the 18th century thinkers could only dream about.

But the atheist/agnostic community knows more about history of religion than most of the relgious’ rank and file.  For example, they know that the Old Testament pentateuch was not written by Moses.  It’s a compilation of 4 different writers and an editor.  Those writers wrote over a span of about 500 years and adjusted the texts to fit their particular geographical locations and political situations.  Some of the book of Genesis was lifted straight out of polytheistic Mesopotamian creation stories and flood myths.  One of the writers, E, used the word Elohim excusively when referring to God, because he was from the Canaan area of the Levant, while J, another writer, used the word Yahweh almost exclusively because she was from the Judean area.  In the distant past Elohim and Yahweh were not the same god.  It took a different author to merge the two.  And it’s very easy to tease apart which author wrote which part.  You can read more about the Documentary Hypothesis here along with the parts of the bible written by each author.

Some of you might have heard of this hypothesis before, some might say it’s never been proven.  But go read those chapters yourself and you will find the idea pretty compelling.  Don’t just take my word for it.  For those of you who like to see vidoes on the subject, the youtuber Evid3nc3, will take you through a history of the bible in two parts. He does it in a very thorough way from the perspective of a Christian trying to figure it all out and you will be convinced by the end of his presentation that the bible is not what you think it is.  Here is what he found out about the bible:

I’m recommending Evid3nc3′s videos because they are very well produced, thoroughly researched and presented in an accessible style that is suitable for that religious person you know who insists that everyone in the country should get a religion and follow it religiously or have one selected for you to be shoved down your gullet by the government.  The next time they bring up the Judeo-Christian tradition, you can say, “You mean, the Judeo-Christian tradition as laid out in the bible?  Holy Hemiola, have you ever read that thing?  I mean, read it by author?  Fascinating.  Which author is your favorite?  I’m partial to J.  She’s got such an earthy feel to her prose and P incorporates all of that early Mesopotamian mythology from the Enûma Eliš.  And who knew that there were so many different versions of the 10 Commandments, hey, where’re you going?”

In other words, before Rick Santorum or Rick Warren or any other Rick gets up in a public square and tells the rest of us relgious or non-religious that they should engage the state to impose their superior Judeo-Christian religious beliefs on other people, they should have a thorough knowledge of just what it is they want to impose. Or at the very least, they should be honest and admit that seminarians and theologians have known about the polytheistic roots and inconsistencies of the bible for more than a century and just haven’t shared this with the rest of the class.  For those of you who ignore evidence, because you’re too afraid that your faith will be shaken by it, and rely on faith alone, please be aware that there are a lot of us out here who don’t think faith alone is a very good basis for a system of government and we will not go down quietly.

And as for that argument that without the bible or religion, you can’t be moral, check out this video on morality from evid3nc3:

Oh, SNAP!

Will someone please hand Rick an air sick bag?

Here’s the problem with Rick Santorum’s proposal that believers should get the state on their side to decide what the law should be to guide our daily lives: not all of us believe that there is a God or that his word is in the scriptures or that some 2000 year old all male organization has all of the answers for those of us who are not celibate men.  In fact, I guarantee that Catholics and Evangelical Protestants have differences of their own.  Pitting our beliefs or non-beliefs against each other is a recipe for conflict, argumentation, uncompromising positioning and it’s a huge distraction from the economy, the energy crisis and economic inequality.  Wars have been fought over religion around the world.  They were a tremendous waste of resources and human lives.  They were so destructive that believers of one sect were slaughtered by believers of another and whole relgious communities were forced to relocate.  And the people who put together the constitution argued about whether or not they wanted to go down that road in the Federalist Papers and decided it was a phenomenally bad idea to start imposing some state sanctioned religious dogma into their new rule of law.

And it’s still a distraction.  There’s nothing that the Wall Street psychopaths would like more than for the rest of us to be arguing about angels on pins and whether or not someone else’s wife or girlfriend can get her pill prescription pill.  The believers who fall for candidates like Rick Santorum are giving in to squabbles about faith that no one can solve at the expense of their own economic livelihoods.

Of course, that’s ok if what you really want is to make the country so unliveable that the Rapture comes and you’re delivered from all of the misery.  But if that’s the case, you’d better make damn sure that it was God who wrote that section of the bible you’re relying on and not some ancient editor who was trying to make all of the pieces go together.  Because if it wasn’t God, then you’re stuck here with the rest of us on a miserable earth of your own creation.

Sunday: Even a jerk occasionally asks a good question

Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women

So, this guy, James Poulos, writes some esoteric piece of fluff in The Daily Caller called What are Women For and stirs up the tender feelings of the left.  Digby featured a clip from Chris Hayes’ show from a couple of days ago where Poulos attempts to defend himself from Bob Herbert and Michelle Goldberg.

If the abstract rights of man will bear discussion and explanation, those of women, by a parity of reasoning, will not shrink from the same test.
Mary Wollstonecraft

The gist of this argument seems to be that the right has never made any attempt to deceive when it comes to their perception of the role of women in society, politics and culture.  To the right, women are the famous helpmeets.  They do the dirty work and they play second fiddle, unless the menfolk want them to play first fiddle- to help the menfolk.  I guess the right is pretty confident that Sarah Palin was not a radical feminist who would have had an epiphany the minute she got into the Oval Office.  “Wow, *I*, a woman, am now in charge here.  Well, there will be some changes made, I’m telling you now.  No more of this unequal pay shit, and free birth control for all!  Starting with Bristol.”

The divine right of husbands, like the divine right of kings, may, it is hoped, in this enlightened age, be contested without danger.
Mary Wollstonecraft

Even the most committed conservative can have a change of heart.  Look at David Frum, fighting gallantly to keep a tiny slivver of credibility for his side while succumbing to the irresistable pull of dark side logic and sensibility.  But then there’s also Phyllis Schlafly who has built a very successful independent career as an educated lawyer whose sole goal seems to be keeping other women from ever attaining the status of independent, successful career women and educated lawyers. So, you know, they already understand what women are for.  Women are supposed to use whatever talents God gave them to uphold the social hierarchy of men on top.  The right is pretty clear about that and no one should be surprised when they pull out the anti-contraceptives gun.  It’s also a great political strategy for the right, simultaneously pulling in the working class men, who secretly expect that it will be some other guy’s wife who will get pregnant and have to stay home with the kids and free up a good paying job, while wedging the old Democratic base of traditional liberals from the Obama Democratic base of African-Americans, Evangelicals and eggheads.  Eggheads, it seems, are concerned more with theoreticals than actual effects on the population at large.  Theoretically, voting for a schmoozer with so little political experience and ability to serve as a president during a catastrophic economic downturn was a bad idea- but not for them.

I love my man as my fellow; but his scepter, real, or usurped, extends not to me, unless the reason of an individual demands my homage; and even then the submission is to reason, and not to man.
Mary Wollstonecraft

Anyway, we know where Republicans are coming from.  That’s why we choose up sides and decide to either join them or fight them.

The problem is, what happens when you decide to fight them and then find out that the allies you picked are not really on your side?  What if your side gives lip service but behind your back revives newly buried cultural norms to undermine you? Is it still your ally?  Don’t you have the right to call it to reveal itself?  Who is it working for?  Shouldn’t you know what it is you’re signing up for?  Don’t you have the right to demand more than an absent or anemic response to the aggressive sexism of the right before you give it anymore of your time, money or votes?  What if your party is so intent on winning that it pricks primitive ids and is willing to destroy everything you’ve worked so hard for for 40 years.  Because that’s what happened.  For 40 years:

Biology was not destiny

Sex became less frightening

Women became very well educated

Women became leaders

Women became persons

And in less than one year, in the service of one man and the financial and religious institutions he promised to serve, all of the foundation of modern feminine emancipation that was bitterly fought over, carefully tended and vigorously defended, was put in jeopardy and swept away like it never even happened.  If Hillary Clinton hadn’t been defeated, we might never have been made aware of just how tenuous our grip on emancipation actually is.

If women be educated for dependence; that is, to act according to the will of another fallible being, and submit, right or wrong, to power, where are we to stop?
Mary Wollstonecraft

So, Poulos’ question, as loathsome as it is, deserves some attention and there is no time like the present for the party on the left to declare itself.  It either defends women’s rights now, before the election, or it never, ever will.  If you can’t depend on it to put its power to work for you when it needs your votes, you will not get it to put its power to work for you when it doesn’t.  You will have no leverage.

I’m not sure the panel that Chris Hayes assembled was the best one to discuss it, though he seems well intentioned.  His female guests are too young.  They know that something is wrong but they seem confused and bereft of clear argumentation.  They remind me of internet age children during a power failure trying to navigate the world the way it used to be. They grew up with no real sense of what came before so all of this “What are women for?” bullshit caught them by surprise.  Even I am too young, although women my age were closer to the “before time” and still had to put up with the subtle and not so subtle assumption that we were not quite as accomplished in certain subjects as men and were unlikely to get any encouragement or mentoring. It’s been a long hard slog and just when we thought we saw the top, some bunch of financial psychopaths used a chair lift to get their guy to the pinnacle while using a bulldozer to push us back down the mountain.

But even though women my age didn’t fight the hardest battles, we sure as hell know what we have lost.  Mostly, we have lost the unity with other women to know who is on our side and who has our best interests at heart.  And it is not the men who run *either* party.  When it comes to those guys, the parties are indistinguishable.  Women serve one purpose- they are helpmeets for the men who will run things with their assistance.  All of a woman’s talents are to be directed towards whatever goal the men set for everyone.

Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to the sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own superiority.
Mary Wollstonecraft

I don’t know why modernity seems to have skipped the United States of America but suspect that religion has the bigger part of the blame. Other developed countries and even some of the world’s most repressive when it comes to gender, have had female heads of state.  But in *THIS* country, we are still asking ourselves “What Are Women For?” as if the fact that they may have personalities, skills, talents, drives and ambitions to change the world, invent new technology, cure cancer, fix economies and solve social problems is still a matter of debate.

Slavery to monarchs and ministers, which the world will be long freeing itself from, and whose deadly grasp stops the progress of the human mind, is not yet abolished.
Mary Wollstonecraft

At this moment in time in our nation’s history, neither party is committed to seeing women as equal persons under the law.  One party believes this is due to nature; the other is just taking advantage of tradition to score political points.  And the problem is more crucial on the left because until someone holds the perpetrators accountable for the sexism that continues to persist, and more alarmingly, seems to be growing, women will continue to lose ground.  There’s nothing that can be done to influence the right.  It is going to continue to treat women like second class citizens until their older population dies out and their younger working men get a fricking clue and turn on the money men who keep their wages from rising.  I have some hope for the former but the latter will take a longer time.

It’s the left, that still has a veneer of fighting for equality and has the more powerful females that should be doing a better job of policing its own.  And the worst thing that those females could have done was let the misogyny of 2008 go unchecked.  They instantly undermined their own position.  Now, we are stuck trudging back up that mountain when it was so unavoidable.  It’s like we almost got to the top of Mount Everest in 2008 and at the last minute decided the last 20 feet were too much trouble.  Or did they decide that getting to the top wasn’t that important after all? Or did they mistakenly assume that reproductive rights in the absence of true constitutional equality was enough?  This is the reason why I think Hayes’ panel was too young.  They have lost sight and perspective of the landscape they are on.  They were their own worst enemies.  In any case, the result has been deadly for all women.

Women are degraded by the propensity to enjoy the present moment, and, at last, despise the freedom which they have not sufficient virtue to struggle to attain.
Mary Wollstonecraft

Neither party is advocating for the rights of more than half of the population.  We are not a minority and we aren’t a special interest group.  The question we need to ask our own side of the political spectrum is do we still subscribe to the principles of the Enlightenment?  Do we still believe in equality and certain unalienable rights and agree that these are also bestowed on women?  Does reason govern our lives or are we still slaves to religious superstition, tradition and political expedience?

The numbers are not in our favor.  Right now, women are a pathetic 16% of the legislative body.  We *lost* representation in the 2010 election and here in New Jersey, the state hasn’t elected a single woman to our Congressional delegation in decades.  This  state is the densest by population in the entire country and we don’t have even one woman representing us in Congress or the Senate.  Until we pump our numbers up in all states, we will continue to devolve and be forced to deal with stupid questions about what we are for.

Women ought to have representatives, instead of being arbitrarily governed without any direct share allowed them in the deliberations of government.
Mary Wollstonecraft

There is only one correct answer to that question: We are for MORE WOMEN.

The beginning is always today.
Mary Wollstonecraft

**********************

Don’t forget that Enlightenment 2.0 kicks off on March 24, 2012 at The Reason Rally.  Mary would approve.

This video isn’t for the Reason Rally but I liked its message so much that I thought I would post it here.  It’s from Evid3nc3, who documented his deconversion from devout Christian to Positive Atheist on youtube.  You can witness his deconversion testimony here.  Highly recommended.  He’s brilliant, sincere and deeply philosophical.  The guy really needs to write a book.  More on him in another post.  He deserves to be famous.

This video starts out with a persecution rant from a Christian.  Very topical.

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