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    • The Attack In Ottawa will be used to justify losing more rights
      Prime Minister Harper pretty much confirmed it: ‘Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened’ Yup.  Never let a crisis go to waste. I’m very sad that MPs and their staff were scared, and I’m sadder that a soldier lost his life.  But one attack does not justify increasing the police state.  However, if [...]
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Thursday: Things that shouldn’t need to be said but…

1.) Susie Madrak found this post by George Lakoff that I think everyone in the left blogosphere should read and commit to heart.  It’s about the Santorum Strategy and what is really going on with the Republican primary.

Liberals tend to underestimate the importance of public discourse and its effect on the brains of our citizens. All thought is physical. You think with your brain. You have no alternative. Brain circuitry strengthens with repeated activation. And language, far from being neutral, activates complex brain circuitry that is rooted in conservative and liberal moral systems. Conservative language, even when argued against, activates and strengthens conservative brain circuitry. This is extremely important for so-called “independents,” who actually have both conservative and liberal moral systems in their brains and can shift back and forth. The more they hear conservative language over the next eight months, the more their conservative brain circuitry will be strengthened.

This point is being missed by Democrats and by the media, and yet it is the most vital issue for our future in what is now being discussed. No matter who gets the Republican nomination for president, the Santorum Strategy will have succeeded unless Democrats dramatically change their communication strategy as soon as possible. Even if President Obama is re-elected, he will have very little power if the Republicans keep the House, and a great deal less if they take the Senate. And if they keep and take more state houses and local offices around the country, there will be less and less possibility of a liberal future.

I think I’ve said this before (I’ll see if I can find the links to my posts about it) but it bears repeating because the A list bloggers don’t seem to be getting it: the reason why the Republican primary is dragging on is because it works in the Republicans favor.  It changes the national dialog and keeps the issues that Republicans want to talk about out there in the media all the way to August.  Don’t be surprised if there is a brokered convention.  They *want* the whole nation sitting on the edge of its seat waiting to see who the Republicans crown.  That means they can talk about deficit reduction, entitlement reform and women’s reproductive rights for a long, long time. By the time they are done, the general public will believe that reducing the deficit at all costs is the most important thing in the world and that no one should pay for anyone’s health insurance, much less birth control.  If you made the stupid lifestyle decision to be born human and indulged in living, putting your body at risk, that’s YOUR problem. Romney and Santorum are in this together for this tag team event and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Republicans have already issued primary voters their votes in advance.  It only looks like chaos to the lefty bloggers sitting smugly at the top of Maslow’s pyramid.  But come August, the Democrats, who should have been championing Occupy Wall Street without trying to co-opt it (see more on this below) are going to be scrambling to control the message.  Never underestimate the Republicans’ desire to win.

PS: I need a job, George.  Call me.

2.) Lefty bloggers are wasting their time talking about Sarah Palin.  If Democrats need independent women’s votes, maybe they should stop assuming that Palin is the cause of their defection from the Democratic party.  She’s not.  There are just as many of us out here who are independent liberals who are Democrats in Exile, who do not give a flying fuck about what comes out of Sarah Palin’s mouth.  Frankly, we’re turned off by the Palin bashing, not because she’s a viable politician (she’s not) but because she’s a human being and we’re just tired of the left using Palin as the dumping ground for their current round of misogyny.

Can we move on from Palin already?  She disgraced herself last year during the  Gabby Giffords shooting episode and before that when she teamed up with her chum, Glenn Beck.  Palin had a choice after 2008.  She could have become a legitimate politician on the right, and still not to our tastes, or she could have become a hack.  She chose the latter.  Let’s move on.

Palin is not relevant in this election season.  OBAMA is relevant this election season.  Nothing Palin tells women who have flocked to her, and this woman is not one of them, is going to persuade them to vote for a Republican.  What might persuade them is the persistently lagging economy and anger at Obama for doing such a lousy job as president.  We could have had a V8 but we got watered down tomato juice instead.

The rest of us independent liberals are shopping around for a third party.  I would advise the Democrats to stop touting Lilly Ledbetter as the Paycheck Fairness Act.  Not only is this stupidly deceptive, women are not fooled.  It’s an insult to our intelligence.  Even we can figure out that there is still no fairness in our paychecks, if we are lucky enough to still have them.  And instead of being proactive about reproductive rights, the Democrats are not making a full throated defense of them against the Republican juggernaut.  We are going to remember who took down Rush.  It wasn’t president Obama.

By the way, if some of this diatribe about Palin sounds like something the Republican right wing nut cases are saying, it’s because even those vile mouths of Sauron have a point.  Stop being dicks, Democrats.  You’re playing right into their hands.

I’m still hopeful for a third party candidate.  The two major parties are busy talking amongst themselves and leaving the voters out of it.  They are leaving the American electorate on the table.  Some decent politician could see this as an opportunity of a lifetime and consider running as an Independent New Deal Democrat.  Think about it.

3.) When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.  The reason why the Republicans are pulling out all of the stops over paying for women to have sex is because they are working for insurance companies.  Insurance companies do not want to have to pay for this.  They are going to pass the costs onto someone.  Are you kidding?! Did you think the CEO of United Healthcare is going to take a cut to his bonus just because some broad in Washington wants to have sex?  Please.

The argument that Democrats are making that this will actually save insurance companies money doesn’t ring true to me.  Right now, all of the women who aren’t covered by the birth control mandate are bearing the costs by themselves.  That is saving the insurance companies money.  The vast majority are already preventing unwanted pregnancy related expenses for the insurance companies.  But let’s say that the companies end up paying for some unexpected surprises.  The cost of a pregnancy is already factored into the negotiations the insurance company has made with doctors and hospitals.  There’s a flat fee for an uncomplicated delivery.  That could easily be eclipsed by 10 years of oral contraceptives.  And now, they are going to be covering millions of women that they previously didn’t have to cover.  Of course it’s a hit to their bottom line.

If the Democrats were smart, they would have adopted the message of Occupy Wall Street and associated the insurance companies with the 1%, which they are.  They are trying to make a profit at the expense of your health.  They are collecting much more in premiums than they will ever pay out to you.  It’s immoral.  They’re making money hand over fist and giving themselves huge bonuses at your expense.  It’s immoral.  They’re greedy bastards and they’re making you feel dirty for asking for something that should be your right as a premium paying individual.  It’s immoral.

But Democrats are not smart.

3.) Speaking of the morality of Occupy Wall Street, the way that Democrats participated in muting the occupy movement (temporarily) may come back to bite them in the ass.  As I have noted before, the Republicans have a moral worldview and the Democrats do not (will try to find link to my post on this.  Must make better tags.  Sigh.).  You may not like the Republicans’ worldview but there’s no question that any American you ask can explain what it is.

What the Democrats currently have is everything on the table on a slippery slope and no backstop.  Not a winning formula.  They could have let the Occupy movement build momentum and then coasted to a win on its slipstream.  They could have said, “Hey, those dirty fucking hippies have a point!  The 1% *are* greedy fucks who are destroying the American middle class.  Maybe we should redefine what it means to be successful.  Maybe we should make the system more fair and help everyone achieve their goals so that America is number one again in innovation and prosperity.  Maybe we need to treat hard working Americans with more respect and champion their free speech rights.  Maybe we should stand up with them and labor against the soul destroying corporate class. Maybe we should force bankers to be good American citizens.”

But the Democrats did none of these things.  In fact, the Democrats were ultimately behind the DHS riot police interventions and the FBI surveillance and the infiltrations.  Oh, no, you say?  Well, who the hell else is in charge of the executive branch these days?

So, you gotta ask yourself, why is it that the Democrats would be more willing to engage in a strategy to enforce learned helplessness in anyone who wants to change the conversation and redirect it away from the ubiquitous Republican austerity message machine?

Who are the Democrats working for?  Hint: it’s not for you.

4.) Greg Smith, formerly of Goldman Sachs, now joins the ranks of the unemployed, possibly forever, after he immolated himself on the Op/Ed page of the NYTimes.  I hope he has a stash to fall back on.

I believe Smith.  I think he was what he says he was and do not question his descriptions of business as usual in the hallways of Goldman Sachs.  Let’s not forget that Jon Corzine was once a top executive at Goldman Sachs and look what wonders he did for the muppet investors of M. F. Global.  Or the Democratic base for that matter.  He has a habit of taking what is not his and giving it away to the undeserving.

Anyway, lest any of us in the pharma research forget, it was Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan who coordinated the merger mania that lead to Pharmageddon and all of the jobs we have lost in the past several years.  They do not care that what they are doing to the research industry is destroying it and is going to result in a vastly reduced portfolio of new drug therapies in the future.  All that is important is extracting the last bits of wealth from these ailing industries for the big shareholders and gigantic bonuses for themselves.  The ruined lives and careers that are left in the wake of these restructurings and mergers do not matter to them at all.  We’re losers, muppets and carrion.

This is not going to stop as long as executives are rewarded for short term planning.  It’s really not their fault that they behave the way they do.  It’s what they get paid for.  When we stop rewarding them for it, they’ll stop destroying us and not a second before.  It is stupid and foolish to expect them to act like decent human beings when they don’t have to.

So, what are Democrats planning to do to make sure the incentives are directed towards long term investment and prudent risk and financial stability?  Fuck if I know.

5.) Last but not least, I was looking at the lineup for the Reason Rally and while I am impressed by the great speakers who are going to be big draws for the Humanist, Freethought, Skeptics and Atheist movement, I was a little disappointed to see that many of them are not American.  If the Reason Rally organizers are trying to get attention for their voting bloc, it would be a good idea to ask Dawkins to serve more as MC, rather than headliner and let the American superstars take center stage (Dan Barker, Greta Cristina, Adam Savage etc.).  Otherwise, this rally is going to backfire.  You can already see the spin the Republicans are conjuring up.  Don’t fall into their trap.  I know that the rally attendees are going to be good, hard working, patriotic Americans who want reason to prevail over superstition.  That is what you need to work with.  The last thing you want is an international lineup of eggheads, much as I like Dawkins.  You need to have speakers who can connect with their audience, who come from a genuine place in the American experience and who lead Americans to a better way.  Sort of like this guy, Jerry Dewitt, former Pentacostal-Dominionist pastor and current executive director of Recovering from Religion, who in the span of 12 minutes manages to honor Tim Tebow, Christopher Hitchens, Thanksgiving and Christmas in a genuine, uplifting, positive  and non-theistic way:

Can I get an “Amen!”?

Recovering from Religion is an organization that is helping clergy and other believers make a transition away from more oppressive religious sects.  Dewitt says he gets a lot of inquiries from conservative Christians, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses because these communities tend to isolate their members so when a believer tries to get out, they lose much more than their religions.  They lose their families, community, sometimes their jobs, and they lose their identities.  Dewitt calls it “identity suicide”.  It’s a hard transition to make but people of good conscience who can no longer bear living a lie need a place to go where they will find acceptance and help.  Imagine Jinger Duggar trying to escape her captors and looking for a safe mental haven.  That’s what Dewitt is trying to provide.  So, if you are looking for a place to make a charitable contribution this year, consider donating to Recovering from Religion.  For every person who comes out of the spell, there is one more American who can help set the country back on the right track.  I think this is a mission that is worthy of our support and may even cough up a few bucks myself from income tax return.

By the way, I am astonished by the number of freethought meetings and organizations there are in the reddest states of the union.  I’m talking about Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska.  These people are very active and they are posting their meetings and media podcasts all over youtube.  Here in NJ?  Ehhhhh, not so much.  I guess that’s because New Jerseyans already feel comfortable as godless heathens and don’t feel the need to organize. I think they’re wrong.  The suburbs of central Jersey are sometimes indistinguishable from the bible belt.

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.

They’ll never know what hit them

In light of reports that Obama is starting to cave on the contraceptive issue to the red beanie boys, it would be a good idea to show him and the Democrats (forget the Republicans, they’re a lost cause) that secularism is alive and thriving in America.  I am amazed at the growing number of podcasts and personalities who have taken to online media in just the last couple of years.  They’re scientists like Richard Dawkins, former pastors like Dan Barker, advertising executives like Jane Caro, and lively and beautiful people like Margaret Downey and Seth, The Thinking Atheist.  They are changing the face of the non-believer, the skeptic, the freethinker.  They have a sense of humor and a genuine concern for people and the planet. Something is happening here.  Secularists are coming out of the closet in a wave.  Just like women who have finally had enough after the Komen debacle, the secular are starting to push back.

Even if you are a believer, of whatever, but are adamant about the separation of church and state, consider going.  If you think it is wrong that some old, celibate dudes from Vatican Inc can make decisions about your reproductive organs to preserve their job security, if you think it’s wrong that the religious get too many breaks, too much deference and have too much influence, if you think it is alarming that our government officials have to continually swear allegiance to a bunch of people who let a Bronze Age piece of literature run their lives, this rally might be for you.

March 24, 2012, the Mall, Washington, DC.  Be there.

Speaking of The Thinking Atheist, he’s got a new episode up today on Religion and Sexuality, which seems quite timely.  “We interview Dr. Marty Klein http://www.martyklein.com, author of such books as “America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law,Lust & Liberty.”  And we speak with Darrel Ray, Ed.D, author of the book “Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality.”

(Too funny, that podcast veers wildly from professional to profane and Seth turns out to be somewhat of a prude.  Towards the end, it even made me squirm uncomfortably, which just goes to show that we’re not all the same and there are places even the ungodly won’t go.)

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

Santorum picked up wins in some states in yesterday’s Republican primaries.  Veddy interesting.  I think this is how it’s going to work out: Romney has the party apparatus and the financing guys all lined up but he’s going to have to take on Rick Santorum as VP to appease the mighty religious contingent.  Come to think of it, the red beanie boys must have seen the numbers over the weekend and that’s why they’re pushing Obama to make compromises on the contraceptive front.

Everyone knows that the VP spot is largely ceremonial (which is why I want Hillary to stay clear of it, but I’m pretty sure she already knows this).  But the “Christians” will like the idea of Ricky standing by in the wings and *counseling* the Mormon on what is morally right, like Mitt is going to spend the next four years tearing his garments over abortion and birth control.  Am I right, rapture-ready people?

So, where is Rick Santorum getting all of his support?  Beats me, I still think the country is evolving away from religion, which is why Vatican Inc is getting so panicky and pre-emptive.  But Santorum did get the Duggar endorsement.  I have relatives who are in awe of the Duggars.  Recently, I forced myself to sit through some of their youtube episodes to see what the attraction is.  I mean, one particular relative made it sound like Michelle Duggar was Mother Teresa and General Patton all rolled up in one.  Her family is held up as some kind of example of perfection.

Ehhhh, I’m not feelin’ it.  But I think I see what the problem is.  Here it is: the people who admire the Duggars have somehow convinced themselves that modern women have been deceived into a unfulfilling life of hard work when they would be much happier if they stopped fighting the natural and godly order of things, got back into their houses and produced a lovely family full of clean, obedient and musical children.

I don’t know *what* makes them think this is a good thing for all women and children.  It is held up as an ideal of Godly perfection but it ignores everything about human nature.  And it’s not like this relative hasn’t seen this kind of lifestyle played out disastrously before in a different high control group religious cult.  The Duggars are no different.  The boys’ profile pages are full of their favorite subjects, like math and science (they’re all homeschooled).  The girls’ pages are mostly devoid of subject matter.  Girls have a father figure holding authority over them for all of their lives from father to husband to older sons.  They don’t have careers outside the home and they are expected to leave their family size up to God.  The whole family travels as a pack together.  Or they split up into other reasonably large sized chunks.  The children sleep in dorms.  They rarely have a minute to themselves.  There is always a buddy or a sibling to be a minder.

I see heartbreak in the Duggar family future.  One boy says he wants to study science and cure cancer.  Can’t do that without fully accepting the concepts of natural selection and evolution.  He’s going to have to make a choice.  For all we know, he might be the kid who can crack this nut but we’ll never find out if he doesn’t go to a rigorous college or university and if he stays within the family’s faith and circle, he won’t ever get that opportunity.

There’s a good probability that some of the younger boys will be gay.  I’ve read about this before about large families and gay sons. (need citation)  It’s either related to the size of the family or the number of older brothers.  Evolutionally, it kind of makes sense.  If you have a large number of siblings and your parents die, it’s good to have a couple of kids around who won’t have kids of their own who can provide resources and take on parenting tasks.  I think that having a gay kid in a large family is a blessing, but I’m betting the Duggars don’t.  And I’m preeeetty sure I know which one of these kids it’s going to be (betcha the Duggars do too).

Then there are the girls.  One of them, Jinger Duggar, has a very expressive face and is frequently caught on camera rolling her eyes or otherwise having a “And that affects me *how*?” look.  There’s even a couple of websites dedicated to freeing Jinger Duggar.  But she’s not the one I would expect to be the rebel.

Nope, I’m placing my money on Jessa Duggar whose natural extroversion, wit and ambition are not going to be satisfied with a batch of babies.  No, not Jessa.  Jessa likes the Prayer of Jabez.  Jessa wants prosperity.  Her focus on the success of the family business makes her an excellent family spokesdaughter.  I’d like to see her father try to hand her authority over to some fresh faced Christian boy who thinks he can guide and protect her.  That’s a series I’d be willing to watch on TLC.

Then there’s oldest daughter, Jana.  At 22, she’s unmarried and probably close to her expiration date.  What’s up with that?  Can’t they find some decent courtship material for her or is she holding out for a conservatory education so she can continue to play the harp in peace for a few hours a day?

That’s not to say their childhood is bad.  They’re clean, well fed, well cared for and none of them appear to be stupid. Anyway, it’s all they know, since the most contact they have with the outside world in their childhood is with the production crew that follows them around and their own circle of like minded Christian families. But they are a herd and in this herd there are mavericks.  Their world is highly intolerant of mavericks.  It’s going to be very hard on some of them to lose the love that Michelle and Jim-Bob have spent so much time and energy creating.  They either have to deny their faith and upbringing or they have to deny themselves.

And this is a choice that the Duggars would like to impose on the rest of the country.  In the world of the conservative religious, the only grace you get is from Jesus.  The rest of the country should not expect unconditional love under a Christan regime.

Another Reason to Go to Washington DC

Atheists are people too.  And citizens.  And while I’m not an atheist (I’m a panentheist), I live with one.  When she told me about her non-belief at the age of 9, I told her to keep it secret from her friends, Girl Scout troop leader and grandmother.  Pretty sick, huh?  I didn’t want her to be treated differently, harrassed or be subjected to a sermon.  The girl scout troop leader was a religious fanatic.  I was so afraid she was going to slip up (and she had a hard enough time fitting in) that eventually I took her out of Girl Scouts.  Better that than send me on one of my crusades against a national organization for imposing on her conscience.

But there is one thing I do not believe in.  I do not believe that a 3000 year old document is the word of God.  No, I do not.  There are sections of the life of Jesus that I love.  I’m a big fan of Psalms, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, mostly because these books are so dang weird compared to the other books and they have a musicality about them that makes them fun to sing.

But all those stories about miracles and floods and parting of the Red Sea and writing on the wall and the Whore of Babylon riding a Great Beast?  Nope, not into it.  There’s a lot of silly laws and two stories of creation and misogyny for reasons that should not apply to the modern world.  But the biggest problem with The Scriptures is that they were written for a world that doesn’t exist anymore.  Back then, we didn’t know anything about DNA.  Now that we do, there’s no reason to favor any one creation myth over another.  Personally, I like the Tolkien creation as recounted in the Ainuindale.  Why should I prefer Genesis if they’re all just metaphors and myths anyway?  Why can’t I pick the one I like the best?

And the attitude towards women in The Scriptures is barbaric and stupid.  I don’t believe in the God of the Bible but if he did exist, why would he want today’s religions to hold women down?  From what I can tell, God can use all the help she can get.  I was baptized Catholic, loved Catholic mass, loved going to church with my grandparents, loved St. Joe’s Catholic community.  But I could never be a Catholic because of the crazy and stupid attitude modern Catholics have towards birth control and women in general.  In a time when the Catholic church is plagued by priest problems you would think that the Pope would get a clue and say he misunderstood God.  His bad.  Totally need women in the pulpit.  But no, Catholics keep hiring these hard ass guys in red beanies to make rules that only apply to half of the planet’s population.

Women are supposed to live by tribal rules in a modern world.  We’re not supposed to admit we are sexual beings.  We’re not supposed to want autonomy.  When we’re at work, we are counseled to watch what we say for fear that we might offend some guy who thinks we’re too aggressive.  Screw the outcome of the work itself, we have to make sure we don’t get fired for being too ambitious or insufficiently deferential to a guy’s tender ego.  And the religious blame this on The Scriptures.  They can’t help it, they say, that’s what’s written in The Scriptures.  That dusty old book written by the first people who mastered the art of writing and scribbled down all of the collected myths and legends they heard around the campfire.  We’re supposed to live by these scribblings and forget the world in which we actually live.  I’m sorry but that’s just f^&*ing nutz.

Here’s a question that the religious should ponder: why is it that there has been no modern book of scriptures worth following?  Why isn’t there a modern, 21st century person they can consider a new messiah so that we can dump these decrepit, anachronistic, old writings?  How come no modern book meets the criteria for worship?  I happen to like the Silmarillion.  At least Tolkien was no misogynist.  His pantheon consisted of males and females of equal stature and all of his heros married up to stronger, more heroic women.  To Tolkien, resisting temptation in an evil world is more important than the absence of evil altogether.  To be the invisible hand behind unaccountable actions was to exercise the worst kind power and evil.  And Tolkien warned repeatedly that it is not original sin but the fear of death that leads to the fall of mankind.  So, why don’t we all follow Tolkien?

The reason is pretty clear to even the fundies.  We recognize a myth when we see it in its modern form even when that myth reveals profound truths.  We are not expected to take these myths literally.  But for some reason, we are incapable of applying that truth to The Scriptures.  And this is profoundly strange because The Scriptures tell important historical stories as well that are often overlooked.

For example, the oldest section of the Bible is not Genesis.  No, the oldest part of the Bible is in the old testament  book of Judges.  It is a song of victory and revolution after the Prophetess and Judge Deborah lead the Israelites in a triumphant battle.  Yes, one of the first leaders of Israel was a judge and a woman appointed by the people.  And she was good and wise and kicked ass.  Under her leadership, before the line of patriarchal kings, Israel prospered. She was appointed because people under siege by forces foreign and domestic tend to get over their objections about whether a woman should lead them.  They look for the wisest, craftiest, bravest people they can find and sometimes, they are women. There was a time in history when a people realized they had to put aside their tribal rules and regulations in order to survive.  They choose among themselves the person with the characteristics and traits necessary for survival.  It is the essence of the theory of natural selection. Once you wrap your head around that concept, the rest of The Scriptures don’t make any sense until Jesus makes his brief cameo appearance and then disappears behind a veil of first century mythmaking.

So, where am I going with this? This country has been destroyed by politicians repeatedly appealing to the religious.  The religious, in turn, have provided a screen for the real power in this country.  The rich and powerful have used them.  They find out what makes the religious tick and then put those issues front and center in every electoral contest because they know that politicians are terrified to upset religious people.  It looks disrespectful.  They capitulate because it is easier than looking like they are testing God.  That leaves the rest of us who live in the light of reason without political champions, respect or even recognition.  We have to stay in the closet. We aren’t treated like citizens worthy of respect and equality.  We’re treated like children who won’t eat our spinach instead of rational human beings who try to do what is right, not what is written.

We can not continue to govern ourselves in a modern world using the texts of a tribal people from 3000 years ago.  There are a lot of things we don’t do in this country because we recognize them as barbaric and cruel.  We don’t burn witches, beat children in school, own slaves or prevent women from voting.  We figured out that these things were wrong and we civilized ourselves.  It is now time to put The Scriptures in their proper historical context and free ourselves from their ancient rules and regulations that no longer apply to a modern people.  Failure to do so means we will fail to evolve as a civilized society. That doesn’t mean you have to give up your belief in God.  It means your definition of God will get bigger and more awesome.  God stops being irrational, jealous, vengeful, a capricious, mysterious enigma, a fudge factor in the equation of the universe.  Or it may mean that you can navigate through the world using your own resources and with greater attention to the suffering of the men and women around you because their hardships are not always the result of sin or some supernatural plan.  Sometimes, those hardships are the result of injustice, ignorance, cruelty or just a series of unfortunate events.

Let’s put The Scriptures back on the library shelf next to the Thesaurus and stop acting like fools.

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