Fundies rally behind McLeroy, give a big thumbs up to teen pregnancy

Time to get on the horn to your state senators, people. I’ll just link to the relevant TFN piece. You know where to take this from there.

In similar Christian War on Education news, the Texas house today voted down a bill that would require medically accurate sex education in the state. Bring on the teen pregnancies! Nice one, godbots.

More email joy!

Okay gang, you’re going to hate me for subjecting you to drivel this far gone. But I promise…stick with it. The payoff is at the end. Yes, we’re now starting to hear from these kooks.

It is not the question of God but the affects that seeing authority externally…God has never been proved to be a man and its symbolism in authority is the issue to human perception as it creates a need to measure the illusion of an image…That is the real meaning in the metaphors of Adam Eve Cain Abel…It is also an unknown fact that Jesus if he ever existed was teaching about human perception, Christianity misses the whole point and worships the cross rather than learning the teachings which are in fact a science to our duality of perception. Reason & Logic is what he was really teaching…It is nature that we all possess and knowledge is intuitive when there is no need to measure the illusions of self perception….Judgment in society is based upon the illusion of ego which relates to quantum physics and reality tunnels…The bible read in the proper context is a science, but most religion symbolizes authority in god. God does not exist but we all share the same natures in our duality of mind….

There is a good reason for religion because when we die our energy still has an impression upon it based upon the illusion of self perception, there is such a place as the fifth dimension of time space where we go, but

(snap snap) Hey! Still awake? Okay, here it comes…wait fooorr it…

this will be revealed to humanity Dec 21 2012….

Zing! We’ll be here all week, gang. Remember to tip your waitresses.

More paranoiac raving from that kook Brannon Howse

If fundamentalist nutcases didn’t exist, we’d have to invent them. On second thought, no we wouldn’t. We could actually get on with the worthwhile business of advancing the human race, increasing our store of scientific knowledge about our world, our universe, and ourselves, improving health care, extending life expectancy and raising the quality of life for everyone, supporting and evolving the arts, practicing such quaint notions as human rights and equality, ending war, and spreading our reach out into the cosmos.

Instead, we’re stuck on this poor little blue ball with a horde of gibbering twits.

Speaking of Brannon Howse…. The big cheese over at the Christian Worldview Network makes a habit of uncorking his paranoia on his weekly internet radio show Worldview Matters, letting it flow over and bathe his listeners in its curdled, pus-like warmth.

Keep in mind that Howse’s “worldview” is little saner than that of the creepy, muttering homeless guy whom you tried to ignore on the street earlier today, carrying on an extended debate with the aliens in his head interrupted only by pleas to passers-by for change or cigarette butts.

To Howse, pretty much everything that exists in America today is an evil liberal plot led by Marxist Barack Obama and his stormtroopers to Destroy All Christians. Howse is, if nothing else, a master of the sensationalist headline. William Randolph Hearst would have loved this motherfucker, if only for awesome histrionic dribblings like this: “Liberals who hate Christians love pedophiles and refuse to pass an amendment on to H.R. 1913 that excludes pedophiles from special protection. Does this not tell you all you need to know about their real goal for America and Christians?” I mean, that’s just gold.

Now, here’s the thing. I kind of value my brain. I consider it a friend, and as I like to have pleasant and healthy relationships with my friends, I try to avoid subjecting them to needless abuse. Friends are touchy that way. Thus I cannot really bring myself to listen to one of Howse’s maniacal podcasts, unless my brain also happens to be in a mischievous mood — like that one time with the hermit crab, the tube sock, the Krazy Glue, and a napping Kazim — and says to me, “Aw, come on, let’s do it, it’ll be hilarious!”

But I do get an endless charge out of those headlines, especially ones where I know a thing or two about what he’s blithering about and can see the crazy so clearly it’s simply breathtaking. In his latest episode, he raves about, of all things, the upcoming census. The headline is a joy to behold.

Topic One: The government GPS Tagged Brannon’s house and has or will tag your home in the next 90 days. Why? Why is the federal government spending $700 million to have 140,000 workers tag every front door with GSP in just 90 days? The census is not until 2010 and this person that is tagging your front door does not even talk to you since they just walk up to your door and load the GPS coordinates and walk away. In Germany, Jews were given a yellow Star of David to wear, I wonder if in today’s America, Christians will have a yellow cross on the governments GPS map?

Folks, you can’t invent that kind of crazy! I mean, census workers GPS tagging homes is just the same as the Nazis putting the yellow stars on Jews!? Great galloping…uh…something that starts with “g”.

If Howse wasn’t so deliciously non compos mentis, he could easily have tracked down a few facts before launching into a rant like this. For one thing, the people out doing the GPS tagging of addresses are called enumerators. And while I can’t speak for the person assigned to Howse’s neighborhood, the one who came through mine spoke to me, thank you very much, and was very friendly. But then, you know, I’m a friendly guy, and when I meet new people, friendly conversations tend to ensue. I can, on the other hand, probably understand why Howse failed to have a similar friendly engagement with his own enumerator, as it’s easy to imagine him bursting out of his front door in his robe and bedroom slippers, waving his Bible like a katana and shrieking, “Vile minion of Say-tun, I bind thee in the name of the Holy Spirit, now get offa my lawn!”

The census is taken every decade, and far from being all about rounding up the Christians for the ovens (one detail that fails to penetrate the fog clouding Howse’s miniscule brain is that enumerators simply tag addresses, they don’t ask what the religion is of the people living there), it’s a task mandated by the Constitution itself. As for why they’re getting such an early start, well, only someone as stupid as Howse would ask such a thing. It’s just like asking, “Hey, I thought that new skyscraper they were going to build downtown isn’t supposed to open till next year. So why are they laying the foundation now?” Uh, because big jobs take lots of preparation, idiot. The US has just over 304 million people in it. And as the task of the census is, as they state quite clearly, “to distribute Congressional seats to states, to make decisions about what community services to provide, and to distribute $300 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year,” obviously providing services on that scale to so many people isn’t the sort of thing you throw together in a week or two. Then again, I may be blind to whatever Vast Conspiracy the government has on its planner this week, and have been too easily fooled by the official site’s omission of “…and to pinpoint the location of Christians so we can exterminate them more efficiently” from their list of census benefits.

Well, I’m sure Howse will be comforted to know that I’m actually considering applying for a summer job with the census, following my friendly conversation with the friendly neighborhood enumerator I met. So if there isn’t already a “Target the Christians” objective among the government’s current action items, I could probably suggest it to my supervisor. He’ll kick it upstairs, and I’m sure our Islamofascist Marxist president Darth Barack will love it! Thanks for the idea, Brannon. I got a yellow cross with your name on it, buddy! And your little dog, too! Arbeit macht frei! Bwaaaaah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-haaaaaah!

A Co-Dependent Worldview

There are many misconceptions about co-dependents and co-dependent behavior. Many people still consider co-dependents to be merely “enablers” or people in relationships with addicts. But if we define a co-dependent person in such a way as to require that they be in a relationship with an addict (or with anyone) in order to qualify as “co-dependent,” that would be like defining an alcoholic as someone who is actively drinking—so that when the alcoholic is sleeping, we might rightly say he’s not an alcoholic. A co-dependent, like an addict, is identified by his mental perceptions—how he envisions his interactions, not who or what he’s interacting with in the moment.

This is not to say that if someone offers a definition of a co-dependent using a relationship model that there is no place for that. Certainly, if I were a family counselor, I would likely lean very hard toward a working definition that addressed my model of therapy in a way that would help my patients understand their roles in the situation. That’s fine. But I’m not defining “co-dependent” here in order to target a working treatment model. I’m seeking to understand a mental mindset that results in the dysfunctional relationships co-dependents gravitate toward due to a developmental disorder.

“Co-dependency is defined as a psychological disorder caused by a failure to complete one of the most important developmental tasks of early childhood, that of establishing psychological autonomy. Psychological autonomy is necessary for the development of the self, separate from parents.”
—Barry K. Weinhold, PhD, and Janae B Weinhold, PhD, co-authors, “Breaking Free of the Co-Dependency Trap.”

It is then, literally, to be blunt, a childish worldview that was never outgrown. This deals with boundaries, especially psychological boundaries, that the co-dependent has either weakened or lost. Just as a child who stubs his toe on a piece of furniture might become angry and hit (blame) the chair, so does the adult co-dependent not see the clear divide between himself and other people and things outside himself. And he sees his emotions as being at least partly dictated by people and things outside himself. He believes others have the ability to affect his emotional state, without his consent, to some degree. And to the level he accepts this, that is the level to which he is engaged in co-dependent thinking.

In order to address this problem, the following was suggested: “…to treat and heal the suffering and dysfunction of co-dependence, we first realize that we are powerless over others. We are powerless over their beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions and choices, and their behavior. But we discover that we are powerful over ourselves, our own beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices, and behaviors.”

And in order to offer a useful, broad definition (not narrowed for specific treatment programs), “…we can define [co-dependence] briefly as any suffering or dysfunction that is associated with or results from focusing on the needs and behaviors of others…it may be mild to severe.”
—Charles L. Whitfield, MD, (both quotes above) from his book “Co-Dependence, Healing the Human Condition. Whitfield is certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine and a former instructor at Rutgers Univeristy.

In other words, if I experience unpleasant or unwanted responses (“any suffering”) based on my observations of the actions of another (“associated with the behaviors of others”), that is a co-dependent perspective. And that last bit is important. This is not an “all” or “nothing” measurement. The level to which you relate to this worldview dictates the level to which you are co-dependent—mild or severe.

In the section of their book entitled “Healthy Ways to Handle Feelings,” Drs. Weinhold write, “own your feelings and take responsibility for being the source of your feelings.”

My posts are long enough, but that bears repeating: “take responsibility for being the source of your feelings.” As long as I continue to hold to a model that there are sources, other than me, for my emotional responses, I’m feeding into a mindset born of a developmental dysfunction.

“CBT treatments have received empirical support for efficient treatment of a variety of clinical and non-clinical problems, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, and psychotic disorders. It is often brief and time-limited. It is used in individual therapy as well as group settings, and the techniques are also commonly adapted for self-help applications…In cognitive oriented therapies, the objective is typically to identify and monitor thoughts, assumptions, beliefs and behaviors that are related and accompanied to debilitating negative emotions and to identify those which are dysfunctional, inaccurate, or simply unhelpful. This is done in an effort to replace or transcend them with more realistic and useful ones.”
—Wikipedia entry on “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)”

In other words, the goal is not to avoid situations where unwanted emotions arise and it is not to learn to live with these emotions and contain or suppress them. The goal is to teach people how to choose more appropriate, beneficial emotions over ones that are causing problems for them in their lives—because we can, and do, choose our emotional responses. A person suffering from anxiety disorder can actually learn to stop feeling anxious. This is achieved by heightening the person’s awareness via teaching him to monitor what is happening in his own mind, and make better choices in his reactions—including emotional reactions. We can choose appropriate or inappropriate emotional responses. However, most of us don’t really consider our mental reactions and responses. We take them for granted and let them move along without much interference unless and until something really bothers us enough to the point we need to learn how to take a more active role in controlling our mental, intrapersonal dialogues.

A quick word about avoidance: If you go to the local book store and pick up a copy of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you will find that in treating emotional disorders, such as anxiety, avoidance is a behavior the therapist must try to interrupt. It is not uncommon for people to suffer from anxiety in particular environmental situations. In order to avoid the anxiety, the patient avoids the situation (for example, driving a car). The problem here is many-fold. The patient is heading for phobia and soon will be not just someone with anxiety disorder, but someone with anxiety disorder and a phobia of driving.

The patient is misattributing the environmental stimulus as being the catalyst for the anxiety he feels. In reality the catalyst is his misinterpretation of the environmental stimulus: He sees driving—a mundane activity—as irrationally threatening and fearsome. What he doesn’t understand is that his anxiety and fear are not brought on by driving, but are rather brought on by his mentally defective interpretation of driving. The event occurs and is nonthreatening. But the patient’s mind interprets it as a threat, and he then responds with fear, panic, and anxiety to his imagined and unjustified mental model of what is happening. So, his emotional reaction is not in response to anything outside his head. It’s a response to a distortion within his head. If the distortion can be addressed, so that he regains a more realistic perspective of driving, then he will find he can choose an emotion other than “anxious” when he drives. But he first has to be able to make a rational evaluation of the event (while he’s in the event). He has the capacity to do this, as do we all, but he does not know how to do that at the time he enters therapy.

In communication psychology and intrapersonal communication, there are two thing
s I learned that have served me extremely well in life:

1. Nobody and nothing can make me mad.
2. Emotions tell us nothing about the world outside our own minds.

This is not to say I never get angry. The key word is “make.” When I become angry, I know I must accept responsibility for the anger I emote. Choosing anger as an appropriate emotional response is not the same as being forced to be angry. Likewise, choosing anger when it is an inappropriate response is not the same as being “made” angry. As an honest person I must admit I became angry—of my own free will. I was not force or made to be angry—no matter how tempting it might be to blame others for my own lack of judgment or unwillingness to exercise self-control.

And that is very difficult for some people to grasp, because not everything in reality is intuitive. Some things are actually counterintuitive the more deeply we study them. And it is often to our detriment that our emotional reactions are not intuitively understood for a great many people.

Something good happens—someone gives me a birthday present—and I feel good. Something sad happens—my dog dies—and I feel sad. Something scary happens—I step on a snake—and I’m scared. What could be more simple? A child can make this connection, right? Well, right, a child could make this connection, but the child would be wrong to say the events were the catalyst to his emotional reaction. It is not these events that evoke these emotions. It is our mental models and interpretations that evoke these emotions. How can I know this? Because, fortunately, we sometimes have cases we can examine where our mental models don’t correspond with environmental realities. And when that happens, which one of those things (our environment or our noncorresponding interpretation) do you imagine our emotions align with?

Well, when we consider it that way, it becomes intuitive again, doesn’t it? Would anyone fail to rightly guess that our emotional reaction will align with our interpretation of the environment—and not the environment? If there is nothing to fear in my environment, but I believe there is something to fear, I will feel corresponding fear. But corresponding to what? To reality or to my interpretation?

This becomes relevant in religion when people use emotional response as an affirmation of their belief that god is interacting with them in their lives. They “feel” god—and for many people that reinforces that there really is a god “out there” beyond their minds, creating these emotional impulses. But their model is flawed and actually a prime example co-dependent thinking and misattribution.

In other words, if I hear a strange noise in my house—and I believe someone is trying to break in—I will react emotionally as if an intruder is trying to enter my home (even if it’s just a branch scraping my window). My cognitive self confronts existent reality, interprets that reality, and then relays that interpretation, which is fed into another part of the brain that kicks out an impulse—emotional or otherwise. That response then goes to my cognitive self and I must decide whether or not the response is appropriate. If I deem it appropriate, I will unleash it. If I deem it inappropriate, I will send a new message back to my brain letting it know that isn’t an acceptable response, and I will choose another. And all this can happen instantaneously. In fact, this internal dialogue is happening in each of us, nonstop, all the time—whether we pay attention to it and acknowledge it, or not. We actually can tune into it—we just generally don’t bother.

This process can take milliseconds or years to produce a change in emotional response. And in very few cases, we may not have time to cognitively assess our response at all. Something might not frighten us slowly—but, instead, very quickly. This would be an emotional “spike,” and the immediacy of it would make it difficult or impossible to process and restrain in the moment. But we are, most of us, rarely confronted in daily life with such immediate and extreme levels of emotional impulse. You might think of it as walking along normally and stumbling over a tree root. Ninety-nine percent of the time you are in immediate control of your walking. That doesn’t mean you spend your energy focusing on it and monitoring each move—but you still understand you are the one controlling your movements as you walk. You don’t have to concentrate and think about it, because you’ve done it for so long that it’s nearly automatic. But hit that tree root and you look like you have lost any and all control over your legs and body. It’s a glitch for sure, but the exception and not the rule.

We take our emotional responses and psychological control for granted. And how many times do we hear people claim outright that we can’t control how we feel, who we love, what we like, what we hate, sometimes even what we do? These are excuses to unburden ourselves of our responsibility for our own reactions—literally to not take responsibility for our very selves.

Many, many things can show us that we have the capacity to adjust our emotional responses toward things—to change how we feel about them. If we are reasonable, someone might present a good argument or evidence that contradicts something we thought we understood previously, but now realize we did not. And we decide that maybe our attitude about a particular situation is perhaps not appropriate. So, we adjust it. Who hasn’t had that experience? Just as well, we might have a sudden and impactive emotional experience or trauma that changes our view. Maybe we nearly die, and it makes us realize that we should take more joy in our lives while we’re here. And we really do enjoy life more after that. Or maybe there is no trigger. Maybe I go to a party that I felt obligated to attend. I’m committed to be there for five hours and it’s pure tedium. I’ve served two hours of my hell-party sentence sitting in a chair by myself, when I simply consider that maybe if I tried to go and meet a few people it might not be so horrible. I go out and mingle, and whether I find any interesting people or not, I find the night is at least somewhat improved over brooding in a corner for three more hours.

In all of these cases, there are common denominators. One is that I agreed to consider another view—and ultimately to adopt another view of my situation. The person who gains new information can’t say that anything outside his own mind changed. The situation is the same. The information he gained wasn’t “not there” before. He simply was unaware of it. But reality didn’t change, only his view of it broadened. He now can consider “more” of it and has a different feeling about what he’s looking at. The man who nearly died did not come back to a new wife, a new son, a new job. He simply gained a new view of it all. And the guy at the party didn’t find a way to change the party. He just changed his view of it—all on his own. He recognized that he had zero control over the party, over the people, over the refreshments, over time, but he discovered, as Whitfield pointed out, that he was powerful over himself, his own beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices, and behaviors. Over himself, his actions, his attitude, he had total control. And by exercising it, he went from frustrated, angry and bored, to at least somewhat interested. He went from a co-dependent view of himself as a victim, obligated to a hateful five-hour torture session, to someone in control who was willing to take responsibility for his evening and whether or not he enjoyed it on any level.

Another common denominator in these three cases is that any of these men could have refused to agree to adopt a new attitude. I could get new and contradictory data and still hold tenaciously to my perspectives. I could nearly die, and come back and be the same complacent, joyless ass I was before. I could go to the party, wall
ow in my piss-poor mood all night, and go home thinking about how I’ll never get that evening back. It’s completely up to me. I am the only one who can control my attitude—and I can change it to a polar opposite view if I deem doing so is justified.

But whatever I do, as the Drs. Weinhold note, I must own my feelings and take responsibility for being the source of my feelings. I can’t be held accountable for everything that happens to me in life. But I can very well be held to account for every reaction express—so long as I’m enjoying a normal level of mental health.

Co-dependent attitudes are so prevalent, mainly, I would wager, due to some of the issues noted above—being so used to having near-automatic, appropriate emotional responses that we hardly notice them or feel a need to exercise restraint or control over them, and also, understandably, misattributing our emotions to things outside of our own minds, because so often, for the most part, our mental models are close enough to the Real McCoy that we don’t stop to examine whether our emotional reactions are toward the models or the reality being modeled.

According to Whitfield, “Co-dependence is the most common of all addictions: the addiction to looking elsewhere.” Whitfield acknowledges we “live in a world where nearly everyone is acting co-dependently most of the time.” In other words, this thinking, based on a developmental flaw, is extremely pervasive and common. It is so common in fact, that some co-dependence evaluation questionnaires have people answer with a scale like this one, (Almost Always = 4, Frequently = 3, Occasionally = 2, Never = 1), where the low score would be the least co-dependent attitude. Note there is no setting for “0.” In other words, nobody gets out of that test with zero level of co-dependence.

It may sound unfair, but it’s true. Examples of these evaluations appear in Weinholds’ and Whitfield’s books, and in many other places. I guess the message is that it’s simply too much to hope that a person could actually take full responsibility for himself. While I’d love to recoil, I can’t say that I don’t see a lot of this attitude in people. And I can’t say that I don’t have to police it in my own head. Road-rage anyone? But when I recognize it, I can say I don’t defend it as being beyond my control. Not controlling myself, certainly, is not the same as not being able to control myself—and not the same as not being responsible for controlling myself. I do what I do, because it’s what I chose to do—whether in the moment or after careful consideration is irrelevant. It is my reaction, and I must own it—since nobody else can. My mental and physical reactions are mine and come out of my human experience and worldview. If I can’t defend them, then I should reconsider them—in the moment or after careful consideration.

All this said, I admit fully that without religion, there would still be co-dependent people. And, actually, at least one religion, Buddhism, appears to give people props for exercising mental control and taking as much responsibility as possible for their own mental reactions. So, that said, not all religions feed into the “co-dependence trap” (as the Weinholds’ labeled it). Even Hinduism, with its self-defeating caste system and karma, contains an example in the Bhagavad-Gita of the self exercising control of emotional impulses. The process is compared to a charioteer driving a team of horses, and the analogy is meant to illustrate the value of exercising measured self-control over the mind’s impulses.

And isn’t this supposed to, somewhere, touch on religion a bit more?

With that, let’s have a word about compartmentalization. Consider Whitfield’s earlier statement, “we are powerful over ourselves, our own beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices, and behaviors.” His point in a nutshell is to take responsibility for you reactions, and stop blaming others for things that should be your responsibility as part of your life. Be the captain of your own destiny! And the Weinholds’ appear to agree. Intrapersonal communication models, based on research in communication psychology, also concur, and CBT demonstrates it as a working, demonstrable model as well. So, how does one explain statements like the following from Co-dependents Anonymous’ 12 Steps? Is this funny or sad?

Step 2: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Step 3: “Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

Step 6: “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

Step 7: “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.”

Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.”

I refuse to elaborate on the discrepancy here, because to do so would be an insult to the intelligence of every reader. If you can’t see the glaring hypocrisy of these steps in a program to help people who are having trouble taking responsibility for themselves and their own lives and personal reactions—as Foxworthy might say, “You just might be” a co-dependent.

Here’s what’s even spookier. Dr. Whitfield promotes and advocates this 12-step program in his aforementioned book. The same man who says my problem is that I am not acknowledging I am the source of power over my own life, advocates letting go and letting god, by throwing me into a program where I am immediately told I must accept I am powerless—beyond whatever power god, in his mercy, is willing to grant me.

How is that any better than being powerless over myself except for whatever power someone else or my environment grants me? In any of those scenarios, I still haven’t taken responsibility, I’ve merely shifted the responsibility for my life from one source that is not me to another source that (I believe) is not me. Where exactly did I gain any power from this shift?

But as if this weren’t disturbing enough, isn’t this pretty well Western religion in a nutshell? Conservative fundamentalists preach “responsibility,” then co-dependently slough off responsibility for everything in their lives to a mental model that does not represent themselves. Again—oh, the irony. They absolutely rail against people who they perceive to not be taking responsibility for themselves, and they preach out of that same mouth, the doctrine of fully crippling, co-dependent salvation (because I just can’t rely on myself to run my own life).

But let me add one last thing. Let’s end on an atheist note. We get many letters. And for every letter we get saying X, I can promise you we get just as many saying –X. One topic particularly that I find funny is “Matt’s attitude toward callers.” Matt could get 10 e-mails a day on this subject, and I promise you that five would scold him for being too mean and nasty, and the other five would praise him for his patience and kindness toward callers (some even scold him for being too kind). Some go on to say Matt, and the rest of the hosts/cohosts are no better than fundamentalist Christians in how we pig-headedly shove our opinions down the throats of others.

How do we stack up with this question from the “Patterns and Characteristics of Codependence”?

“I attempt to convince others of what they ‘should’ think and how they ‘truly’ feel.”

Let it be known that for myself, I understand that I have no control over what someone else thinks and feels. Without their consent to dialogue, consider, and ultimately change their mind, I can do nothing to impact them or their views. The power is fully, 100%, with them. They own that realm utterly.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t invite them to dialogue, consider or change their views. Whether t
hey think they should or can or will—is not within my power. I don’t lose sleep over it. An invitation is not an attempt at coercion. Anyone can refuse—no threats or fear of reprisals. Anyone can turn the channel, not call, or not e-mail us. Anyone who interacts with us has, of their own free will, and under their own power and cognition, chosen to engage with us for whatever reason of their own. And whatever they get out of it, they own it. Whatever they feel about it, they own that as well. If someone is offended, it’s not because of something I’ve said, it’s because they maintain such fragile ego models that even words manage to make them feel threatened. Whatever, they express or send to us—they own it. None of that belongs to anyone at AE. It’s completely the sender’s.

Own yourself. Empower yourself. Live your life and don’t lose out by thinking you have anything less than total control of what you put into it—mentally and physically. Whatever you have, you can give—100%—if you choose. Or you can be a walking, talking reaction—wandering through your life feeling powerless and victimized, waiting for your sign from your partner, environment or god model, before you’ll dare to make your next move. But I’m not telling you what you “should” do. I’m just inviting you to expand your perspective to consider what you “could” do. The power is only ever yours, whether you use it or convince yourself you can give it away.

Ratzinger is a self-serving hypocrite and the press is too brow-beaten to tell the truth

In the May 12th Austin American Statesman, there is an article from the Los Angeles Times concerning the Pope’s visit to the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. (Unfortunately, I can’t find a link to the story that was printed.)

Ordinarily, I try very hard to ignore the ridiculous antics of the Pope and the Vatican. Maybe I secretly believe that if we don’t give them any attention, they’ll just crawl back under their rocks and leave the world alone. It’s not true, unfortunately. So many papers and TV stations seem to use any excuse at all to write some fawning piece on Ratzinger’s latest pontification or self-serving act of “reconciliation”.

What never fails to piss me off is that the news rarely covers the skeptical position on the issue. Supposedly, the “big controversy” of the Pope’s visit is how the Vatican is dealing with some idiot Bishop that denied the Holocaust. That’s just a minor side show compared to the issues the article failed to mention at all.

The article failed to mention that as a lad, Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth. No redeeming tale of heroism or defiance of a great evil excuses his actions, just a lame half-assed apology to the effect that everybody joined up, therefore he should get a moral “passs”. When this issue is brought up in the news, it’s quickly pointed out that he defected from the Hitler Youth. They fail to mention that his defection only happened when the winds changed and Germany was facing collapse. Remember that Ratzinger is supposedly the world’s best Christian. Maybe he is.

It’s rarely mentioned how the Catholic church was embedded in German culture and that the Church never spoke up against the atrocities of the Holocaust. Yes, there were a few exceptions among individuals. The Church had a millennium plus history of persecution of Jews and I honestly believe that the church was happy to have some godly people take care of those evil Jesus killers. It was only later, after the failure of Nazi Germany that the Catholic church felt any embarrassment about what they had done. This whole bullshit propaganda phrase “Judeo-Christian” was coined to attempt to spin clean the blood on the hands of both Catholics and followers of Martin Luther, perhaps Hitler’s only rival for the title of anti-Semite extraordinaire. (Fun fact: Hitler thought that Martin Luther was so wonderful that he chose Martin Luther’s birthday to launch Kristallnacht. The Holocaust was an ecumenical undertaking.)

I don’t think I’ve ever seen it mentioned in the press that Hitler was a Catholic. He was never excommunicated by the Catholic church. God is on his side. Presumably, if you go to heaven, you’ll get to have lunch with the guy.

So when I read about Ratzinger visiting the Holocaust memorial and claiming that the event should “never be denied, belittled, or forgotten,” I get a little pissed off at the jaw-dropping show of self-serving hypocrisy. And the fact that most Americans are completely ignorant of the back story. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. The sad irony is that the few papers that would print this information would be beaten into submission by loyal Christian thugs who would claim persecution of their cherished religious beliefs (for printing facts about the real persectuion done because of those beliefs).

Obama disappoints religious right repeatedly

This isn’t new news, but I’m cleaning up loose ends since I promised to post these stories to the blog on the last show.

Dobson ‘Disappointed’ Obama Skipped Day of Prayer Ceremony

Evangelical author and radio host James Dobson said that he is “disappointed” that for the first time in nearly two decades there was no representative from the White House during the National Day of Prayer event.

“I have not asked to meet with the president and certainly he has not asked to meet with me, but I would just like this country to remember its foundation, to remember its heritage and honor it, especially on the day set aside by George Washington in the beginning for prayer in this country,” he said. “And I would hope that that would have occurred.”

The president has disappointed James Dobson. Folks, can I get an “Awwwww”?

It wouldn’t be right to give Obama full marks for snubbing Dobson without noting that it came out later that Dobson didn’t actually invite him to the event.


Only ‘Pro-Life’ White House Officials Invited to Prayer Day Event

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson scolded the White House for neglecting to send a representative to yesterday’s National Day of Prayer event at the Capitol, but a source familiar with the situation said the Obama team didn’t have much of a chance. That’s because the event organizers stipulated that the White House representative had to be opposed to abortion rights, according to this source.

“The administration’s representative had to be pro-life,” says the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Nobody else was allowed to go.”

Damn, now Obama has an excuse. I would have preferred it if he had just come out and said “James Dobson can kiss my ass.”

But in other happy news,


Obama budget cuts funds for abstinence-only sex education

President Obama’s new budget would eliminate most money for abstinence-only sex education and shift it to teen pregnancy prevention — a U-turn in what has been more than a decade of sex education policy in the USA.

The proposed budget, sent to Congress last Thursday, “reflects the research,” says Melody Barnes, director of the team that coordinates White House domestic policy.

Since we all know by now that abstinence-only education simply doesn’t work, this appears to be another nice step on the road to moving us back towards being a reality-based country.

We get email, yes we do. We get email, how about you?

A sampling of our latest, exactly as written:

FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT LETS ASSUME THAT GOD EXISTS ,WHO DO YOU BELIEF CREATED HIM?

I WOULD ALSO ASSUME THAT FROM YOUR POINT VIEW THAT MATH IS 100% TRUE. SO LETS ASSUME THAT THEIR IS NO GOD, SO ARE YOU 100% CERTAIN, AND IF YOU ARE WOULD’T THAT GAVE YOU A TITLE OF BEING GOD.. SO NOT BEING SARCASTIC BUT TRYING TO UNDERSTAND YOUR POINT VIEW, CAN YOU BE THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS…

[…Long, deep sigh…]

For the conclusion of the Ross/Rana/Shermer debate review

I apologize for not completing my earlier discussion of the debate. For those who don’t listen regularly to The Non-Prophets, I just wanted to mention that we had a fairly lengthy discussion there. You can hear the end by listening to this episode.

If you have listened to the episode, feel free to post a summary of what we said in the comments.

New show videos uploaded.

Breaking news from Don Baker:

I now have the last three videos up on Blip.tv and linked from our archive page. I don’t think this will be the end of the story as far as our video hosting, but it’s usable for now. Our fans can watch and download videos like before. Blip’s video player doesn’t allow you to skip past what the player has downloaded to your computer, so people will probably have to let the player sit for a while downloading if they want to skip past announcements and such. The service doesn’t allow anonymous comments. It does support Creative Commons licensing, which I like.

It’s ok to announce that we have the video back and we’re interested in comments. I’ll update the notes on the web site soon.

Episodes:

Over two years later, people still blame us for Kent Hovind

Well well well, what do you know. Yesterday on the show, I brought up this two year old post because Kent Hovind’s devotees still whine about his unjust incarceration. And then at the wee hours of two in the morning, someone else comes along and does precisely that. Since the linked post is more or less off the radar of most other commenters, I thought I’d bring it back to the top with a new post.

Andrew writes:

Wow.. I bet if creationists did something like this to Richard Dawkins the atheists would be in tears.

Okay, a few points of order here. First: Richard Dawkins is not an American citizen. I suppose he could get picked up for not paying taxes in Britain, but as far as I know, the completely wacky notion that you can live as a fairly affluent citizen in a first world country without paying your way is mostly local to the United States. Especially since the arguments I see all appear to hinge on misunderstood obscure points of American law, American history, and the US Constitution.

Second: if Richard Dawkins committed a felony, we would not be upset at the people who tried and convicted him. We would much more likely be pissed off at Richard Dawkins for doing something so stupid without thinking through the implications. Unlike religious figures, neither Dawkins nor any other atheist “celebrity” is considered infallible and beyond criticism.

Third: Where the hell is the analogy to “creationists doing something like this”? Atheists didn’t put him in jail. Hovind was put in jail by a judge and jury of his peers by the laws of the country that you probably claim to love. All we’ve done is make fun of him for it. :)

As I was saying on the show yesterday: people like Andrew see the world in terms of absolute good and evil, regardless of facts and evidence. It rarely crosses their mind that someone they believe is “on the side of right” might actually deserve to go to jail due to crimes that they committed. In the Christian mythos, of course, everyone deserves nothing less than eternal torture, but they get to avoid it by saying an incantation about accepting Jesus in their hearts. Hovind, being a Christian, shouldn’t be subject to any punishment, and therefore it must be wicked unjust infidels who are persecuting him.

Fact of the matter is that the tax code is too complex and unpredictable to avoid some error. Depending on how much money you’ve made, you could somehow be classified as much a criminal as a mugger on the street.

Oh yeah, it’s true that people can and do get in trouble for honest mistakes in computing the taxes they owe. Here’s something that doesn’t fall in that category: refusing to pay taxes for years, flaunting your claim that you don’t have to, and not bothering to run this obviously mistaken belief by a qualified lawyer who has a clue what the hell they’re talking about. That’s beyond stupid, it’s criminally stupid.

Another point: If a prominent Darwinist were taken in for something like this (it’s not possible since all these organizations are tax-funded in the first place) everybody would be screaming “The sky is falling! We’re going back to the Dark Ages of science!”

I’m afraid I will need some evidence of this extraordinary claim that “everybody” would be doing this. When a prominent scientist is convicted for breaking the law, few people assume that it reflects in any way on science in general. Well, creationists probably do, because ad hominems are so much fun.

There is alot of corruption within our government and a few key organizations get all the benefits in the world. This hasn’t changed since Obama rolmao. (WE WANT CHANGE!!) And those who supported McCAin were just as blind.

Right now we neither have a free market or socialist country. Right now we have a corporate and government alliance. It’s because of mergers that the government forces or creates that true monopolies are born.

Creationist or not, Kent Hovind was just another blind victim of the IRS. An organization which we do not need. (They’re not even productive.)

But just remember boys and girls,

“Don’t Steal! The Government Hates Competition!”

Corruption within our government there certainly may be. Convicting and imprisoning a fraud is not an example of that; it is an example of the system doing what it is meant to do. While you do bring up legitimate concerns, not every conviction is a conspiracy. So far, you have yet to demonstrate that this one is.

Also, what’s up with the weirdly sardonic tone of the sentence in quotes? Even assuming that we grant that the government is, by and large, a criminal organization, is Andrew saying that this means nobody should be convicted for stealing? Ah, the squishy nature of absolute morality…

Andrew then writes a second post, in which he starts trying to come to grips with the fact that maybe Hovind was convicted with good cause by a fair jury. Then he tries to rationalize it away. Needless to say, he finds another way to blame atheism.

Who knows. Maybe he’s in jail because he started to become too self-absorbed or took his mind off of spiritual things. Next thing you know, Kent Hovind gets greedy and poof!

Eh? Eh? You see what Andrew just did there? Prominent Christian apologist Kent Hovind broke the law because he took his mind off of spiritual things. You see, his only real crime was acting too much like an atheist.

He’s in jail! My advice to Hovind: Just go with it. Don’t try to fight the system. If you want to spread your message as soon as possible just play by the rules.

Good advice. It would have been even more valuable before Kent decided not to play by the rules that pertain to US tax law. But still good, in general.

Kent Hovind has his flaws. He’s a human being just like us all. Of course some people would say “Well does he desrve to go to Heaven?” Nope.

Neither would I. Neither would you. That is assuming, of course, that Heaven exists. Which I do every time.

Atheists, of course, would not bother asking whether Kent deserves to go to heaven, because we don’t believe in your happy land. But you see, it’s exactly how I was explaining it yesterday. Heaven never entered this question in the first place until you brought it up. We were discussing man-made laws and the evil conspiracy to enforce them.

Christians often claim that it must be a very dangerous thing to become an atheist, since true morality must come from God, and there is no other force preventing people from murdering and stealing. Yet in the fundamentalist mindset, there are no crimes other than angering God, and those crimes can be washed away by saying an incantation. Andrew was implying earlier that Kent Hovind deserves special dispensation to be forgiven for his crimes due to the fact that he said the words. Now he backs it up by invoking his belief that all humans have sinned equally, whether or not they made off with nearly half a million dollars in legally owed finances.

In other words, the moral check and balance of Christianity is phony. Christians and atheists alike may follow the law out of a sense of societal obligation or fear of earthly punishment. But becoming a Christian does not noticably improve the likelihood that you will do so, because it’s a moral blank check.

Kent Hovind may very well have been in the wrong her
e. I currently see it as more than likely (considering our current, flawed laws…. laws nonetheless. However unconstitutional, invasive, counterproductive, or dumb they might be.)

Hey, admitting he has a problem is the first step to recovery. You should maybe drop Kent a line to let him know he should start thinking about what he done wrong.

Warning: Assumptions about Heaven and God being real coming ahead.

I thought you might appreciate that warning. God might have put him there so that he could learn some humility.

But, hey. That’s the extent of my knowledge. Whatever God could have planned is beyond me :S.

Oh, and Kent Hovind’s point all along has been: “Evolution is not science because it cannot be observed beyond changes within certain kinds of animals.” It’s a good theory and all and very well-thought out. And it can make alot of logical sense.

But it can be very illogical as well. I think Kent Hovind misses some points about evolution, but he does make SOME good cases in favor of creation and a Young Earth.

I believe in the Young Earth myself and I will continue to believe in it until God himself tells me I was wrong.

And now we observe the impact of fundamentalism on scientific discourse as well as legal and ethical standards. Andrew has a belief which is in no way informed by scientific research, observation, or evidence. How will this belief ever change to one that is more accurate? By learning more about reality? No, Andrew will only change his mind if his invisible friend personally notifies him that it is okay to do so.

And I just bet THAT’S going to happen.

And, please. I BEG you to set aside your flame-throwers and spare me from major flammage.

Everybody likes to play pin the tail of the creationist lol.

Your request was denied. But hey, that tail is very becoming.