My sordid history of showering with gay men

Jack Burkman is a lobbyist who is trying to get a congressperson to support his idea of a good law: one that would ban gay people from being in the National Football League. It doesn’t sound constitutional, and although it wouldn’t surprise me if some of our congressvermin wouldn’t approve, it’s so toxic that I’d be surprised if they wanted to touch it. But it’s still a bizarre peak into the mind of a homophobe.

We are losing our decency as a nation, Burkman said in a statement. Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?

I should call up my mom and ask her. I took showers in high school with every guy in my PE class; not only am I statistically confident that some were gay, I knew specifically that some were. I was unconcerned. They never caused me any trouble or embarrassment, but you know who did? The aggressively macho asshole of a coach who would stroll through the shower area and make comments on the size of the kids’ penises, or how much pubic hair they had. That guy was loudly heterosexual, and a real perv. There were also more than a few towel-snapping swaggering jocks who would disparage us nerds, but it is unimaginable that any of the gay kids would do anything but shower up and get out as quickly as possible.

I suspect my mom would be more horrified by that story than about the nice young man who respected his fellow students.

If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it, Burkman said.

I hate to defend the morals of an organization that profits on traumatic brain injury to men, but…I think Burkman’s “morality” would only make the NFL worse.

Some people are speculating that this is just obnoxious noise to stir up interest in his lobbying firm, JM Burkman & Associates, which signed up 70 new clients last year, as the article at the link discloses. I would hope that those clients would only see that Burkman is poison to work with, and drop his firm immediately.

But my hope is tenuous and unlikely to be fulfilled.

They will return with stories, I’m sure

David Silverman, Amanda Knief, and Dave Muscato are going to be at an American Atheists booth at CPAC, that radical Conservative Political Action Committee meeting all the wingnuts attend.

It’s a cunning trick. If they survive, they know we’re all going to have another reason to attend the convention in Salt Lake City — so that we can take them to a bar and ply them with beverages and get them to tell us all the stories.

Thousands of channels and nothing on

So much junk. So much failed ambition. It seems like even the cable channels that are set up with high purpose (hello, History/Discovery/Learning channels) immediately succumb to the lure of the lowest common denominator and turn into dreck, so where is The Sportsman Channel to go?

Wait, you say, the Sportsman Channel doesn’t sound that awful; sure, it’s not educational, maybe, but it could be about honest entertainment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. To which I reply, “SyFy channel.”

But what could a channel about hunting and fishing do to degrade their starting premise? Behold. Now you know, you can always dig through the floor of the basement.

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Why we’re atheists

Two long reads for you today: Sean Carroll gives us some post debate analysis, and along the way, explains how modern physics really doesn’t support the excuses of theologians. The video of that debate may be down (but apparently it’s going to be restored at a later date), but there’s a lot to chew on in that discussion.

Second, Kenan Malik explains all the reasons he doesn’t believe in god. The short version: “Only an atheist view allows us to be truly human.” I like it.

I get email

Fanatical Catholics are always good for a laugh.

I’m not sure to what degree you’ve studied the history of Christianity, but I assume you’re at least somewhat aware that the Catholic claim to a historic link from the time of Jesus to now is accurate.

Which explains how Catholic church services and doctrine is so precisely like what a poor first century Jew would have experienced.

Yes, there is a historic “link” from a Jesus cult in the ancient Mediterranean to the modern Catholic church. There are also historic links to pagan practices in Germany, the Mithraic cults from Persia, the political maneuvering in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE (which makes House of Cards look tame), etc. — syncretism is the rule, not the exception. The church has been evolving for as long as it existed, and when cladogenesis occurs, as in the Reformation, both branches are able to trace their lineage back to the same original set of founding events.

I’m not defending Protestantism, by the way. You’re both loony.

Since the historical record is clear, since we know that the Catholic church–contrary to Protestant propaganda–has supported science throughout the ages, why exactly does Western society have to conform to liberal cosmopolitan norms, by accepting matters such as gay marriage which run contrary to our culture?

The historical record is clear — all religions are products of their times. You can’t make a case for Catholic exceptionalism without some Protestant making a case for the new and superior revelations of Martin Luther, or Muslim making a case for their prophet, whom you neglect or revile.

Since you are so focused on the historical record, you are aware, are you not, that Catholicism formed in a very cosmopolitan culture, in the heart of the most powerful empire in the ancient world? The core of Catholicism is very urban. Visit Rome and see.

Oh, I can tell you’re just one of those conservative Catholics who believes that their current social beliefs have always been so, and seeks to justify their every kneejerk rejection of change by claiming that the founder of your religion would have agreed. Sorry, no. Paul of Tarsus might well have been a nasty homophobe and misogynist, but that doesn’t mean we have to be. Catholics have changed a lot in the last few centuries. You’ve changed how you handle marriage a lot…unless you’re also one of those reactionaries who thinks love is irrelevant and women should have no say in who they marry.

It just seems bizarre to me that every other culture around the world is allowed to keep their traditions but for whatever reason, in large part due to Protestant superstitions, we’re told we must abandon the Catholic tradition. You don’t see anything strange about that?

Protestants are squawking just as loudly as you are about gay marriage. Mormons are on your side in this issue, which ought to make you pause. This is not a conspiracy by organized religion to make Catholics suffer, so just crawl down off that cross.

I think it’s cute what you did there: Protestants have superstitions, but you have traditions. You really are peas in a pod.

Also, no one is making you change your traditions or telling you what to believe. You don’t have to get married to someone of the same sex. Your church doesn’t even have to carry out gay marriage ceremonies. You get to do as you want.

Except where it hurts people.

That’s the thing. Where you think you are just so fucking special because you’re Catholic, the rest of the world is trying to grow up and recognize that every one of us, gay or straight, man or woman, brown or pink, are human beings who deserve equal treatment under the law, and that ‘tradition’ is not a sufficient excuse to refuse some people their rights.

I would also ask how, if a pair of gay atheists marry, it makes you abandon your Catholic tradition? Or what if it’s a pair of liberal Lutherans, or a pair of ex-Catholics? Is it just violating your Catholic tradition of treating some people as less than human?

You don’t have to like the Catholic church but you must know that a lot of the science/faith nonsense was created by Protestant propagandists all too willing to exaggerate any little hiccup in Catholic land. They didn’t think the Earth was flat, I assume you know that. I know I’m a Catholic apologist but you should at least look fairly at matters such as the Inquisition and the Galileo trial, there are a lot of exaggerated stories about both.

No, the Catholic church has not been a defender of science. It has been a defender of its own power and its own dogma. Science that contradicts your silly beliefs is either slapped down or mangled to fit. And it has always done that.

The Catholic church does not actually support evolution, for instance. It supports a bastardized version of directed evolution (two words that contradict each other profoundly), with your god creating beings who resembled him in some way using evolution (again, nonsense) and then suddenly creating a distinct transition with magical ensoulment.

Galileo and the Inquisition…just “little hiccups in Catholic land”. Right. Sounds like Catholic history, to me: self-serving distortions everywhere.

I guess what I’m saying is that to be Catholic, truly Catholic, you can see just how wicked Protestants behaved (and can you not laugh at their ignorance of history, their belief that the Bible just appeared in English in the 17th century?), how blurred they made all of history, and how it’s a shame that they planted these seeds of confusion in this land. There is really no need to reconcile science with faith, whether you like it or not the Catholic church has always supported science.

Man, you really have a hate-on for Protestants, don’t you? Weird. I get Protestants who tell me how unchristian and evil Catholics are, too, you know. I think you’re both bonkers.

So, what century did the Bible appear, and in what languages was it composed? How was it assembled? Or is that too much sausage making for you?

Ken Ham and I agree on something

There’s this new movie coming out, Noah, by Darren Aronofsky and with a top-notch cast…and it looks like crap.

I can get into a good fantasy story, but not one that takes itself so seriously and purports to be based on a true story. And you know this one is going to be peddled to the public as a good old Bible story, so of course it must be wholesome and good and true. So I’m unimpressed and uninterested.

So is Ken Ham, but for different reasons. He hates it because it is so unbiblical. He’s got a list of deviations from the One True Bible story, and apparently his followers saw it and are leaving youtube comments threatening to boycott the movie because it’s too worldly and godless. Who knew youtube comments could get even stupider?

  1. In the film, Noah was robbed of his birthright by Tubal-Cain. The serpent’s body (i.e., Satan), which was shed in Eden, was their “birthright reminder.” It also doubled with magical power that they would wrap around their arm. So weird!
  2. Noah’s family only consists of his wife, three sons, and one daughter-in-law, contrary to the Bible.
  3. It appears as if every species was crammed in the Ark instead of just the kinds of animals, thus mocking the Ark account the same way secularists do today.
  4. “Rocks” (that seem to be fallen angels) build the Ark with Noah!
  5. Methuselah (Noah’s grandfather) is a type of witch-doctor, whose mental health is questionable.
  6. Tubal-Cain defeats the Rocks who were protecting the finished Ark.
  7. A wounded Tubal-Cain axes his way inside the Ark in only about ten minutes and then hides inside. Tubal-Cain then convinces the middle son to lure Noah to the bottom of the Ark in order to murder him (because he was not allowed a wife in the Ark). Tubal-Cain stays alive by eating hibernating lizards. The middle son of Noah has a change of heart and helps kill Tubal-Cain instead.
  8. Noah becomes almost crazy as he believes the only purpose to his family’s existence was to help build the Ark for the “innocent” animals (this is a worship of creation).
  9. Noah repeatedly tells his family that they were the last generation and were never to procreate. So when his daughter-in-law becomes pregnant, he vows to murder his own grandchild. But he finally has a change of heart.
  10. Noah does not have a relationship with God but rather with circumstances and has deadly visions of the Flood.
  11. The Ark lands on a cliff next to a beach.
  12. After the Flood Noah becomes so distant from his family that he lives in a cave, getting drunk by the beach.

There were many other bizarre, unbiblical aspects in the preview cut. Though it’s possible that some of these elements may not make the final cut (though we suspect most will), compare the above list to the trailer that has just been released! The comparison should be very revealing for you. You wouldn’t get much of a hint of most of the biblical problems in the list above based on watching on this cleverly-put-together trailer. A real con job, to be frank!

Yeah, the guy who’s trying to build a Noah’s Ark theme park with junk bonds is claiming that the movie is a con job.

The movie sounds nutty from all the weird nonsense in that plot description, but then, the raw story straight from the bible is also absurd. And why is he complaining about #12? The lizard-eating stowaway isn’t in the Bible, but that part certainly is, in Genesis 9:20-25:

20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.

23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.

24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.

25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.

The church has priorities

The archdiocese of Newark has been closing up schools, pleading poverty — they’ve passed on their regrets to their congregations, but you know how it is, the Catholic church is spread so thin and struggling so hard to stay solvent. Personally, I’d rejoice in that — may they soon go bankrupt and disappear — but strangely, they don’t seem to lack money for the truly important investments.

John J. Myers, the archbishop of the Newark Archdiocese, comes to this vacation home on many weekends. The 4,500-square-foot home has a handsome amoeba-shaped swimming pool out back. And as he’s 72, and retirement beckons in two years, he has renovations in mind. A small army of workers are framing a 3,000-square-foot addition.

This new wing will have an indoor exercise pool, three fireplaces and an elevator. The Star-Ledger of Newark has noted that the half-million-dollar tab for this wing does not include architects’ fees or furnishings.

There’s no need to fear for the archbishop’s bank account. The Newark Archdiocese is picking up the bill.

Wow. So this is how institutions are supposed to support their people? I wonder if the University of Minnesota would mind building me a mansion somewhere nearby, and I wonder how they’d react if I asked for extensive renovations to make it more comfortable for myself after I retire?

I’ll have to make an appointment with the chancellor to make plans.

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: A topical topic

I had to go with bees because tomorrow, 6pm, at the Common Cup Coffeehouse in Morris, Minnesota, it’s time for Café Scientifique. Carrie Eberle, research agronomist post-doc at the North Central Soil Conservation Research Lab, will be talking about “The good, the bad, and the honey,” efforts to provide alternative forage crops to keep bees happy and healthy.