Headline Muse 8/28

“Keep the rum, give me straight Dr Pepper”
Said the decade-long-sober 12-stepper
She’s an atheist, too,
Which may counter the view
That A.A. sees the godless as leper

Headline: My Faithlessness: The atheist way through AA

Ok, not a headline, but from CNN’s Belief Blog. Hey, I only just got power back; any port in a storm.

AA (that’s Alcoholics Anonymous, not American Atheists) has never quite seen eye to eye with AA (that’s American Atheists, not Alcoholics Anonymous) due to the former’s explicit references to a god or higher power. This article is a really nice, if brief, story of an atheist who decided not to throw away a source of help just because she disagreed fundamentally with their axiomatic assumptions.

I like this. It views AA (the first) functionally, by what it does, rather than by what it claims. By the same token, we can see the social functions of many nominally religious institutions (hospitals, kitchens, etc.). Yes, the good that they do is due to their hard work, like it is for all of us. They can pray like theists, so long as they work like atheists.

If you can’t hold a pen, is it still mightier than a sword?

Though the pen is mightier than the sword, the sword speaks louder and stronger at any given momentThe Mouse That Roared

Image: Washington Post/Facebook

Making fun of politicians
Is a noble, grand tradition;
In the freest of societies, it’s cherished as a right
Elsewhere, though, if you’re outspoken
You can get your fingers broken
As this Syrian cartoonist, in the hospital tonight.

The photo above is of cartoonist Ali Ferzat, Syria’s best-known political cartoonist. He is in hospital tonight with broken hands, as a warning not to continue lampooning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Ink is powerful stuff. In the long run, Ferzat and other critics may find they had the power to help topple a government. In the short run, he’s in the hospital with two broken hands.

In Lieu Of Doing Nothing

So Cuttlemom (who has, of course, no idea that this blog exists, let alone that her son writes it) had roughly eight hours of surgery yesterday. It was needed, and it went well, and because I am a cuttlefish, that’s about all I’m going to say about it. Except. Cuttlesis (again, no idea of…) has been in charge of keeping everyone informed, and the long list of family and friends shows that this is a good and a necessary thing. Being Cuttlesis, she ends her emails by thanking everyone for their continued prayers.

At least three of the families on the list are atheist, I know. Many are devout bible-thumping christians, yes, but she knows that these three families have just heard “oh, this message doesn’t really apply to you.” It’s not a big deal, just yet one more example of privilege; when you are in the majority, you don’t have to think about what the minority thinks.

Anyway, though. I won’t ask for your kind thoughts toward my mother; you don’t know her, and there’s nothing those thoughts could do to help. What I will ask, though, is that the next chance you get, take a friend to a blood drive with you. If you can’t donate… take two friends.

I’ve said this before, and usually a small handful of people report back that they have done so. But really, if only one unit of blood gets donated, it’s got prayer beat.

On that note, one from the old place:

image thanks to PZ, who thanks Brian Flemming, who thanks Maria.
Let’s fold our hands and bow our heads
And mumble something low,
Or pray to tens of millions on
Some television show.
Let’s take a silent moment, and
Have others do the same,
So those remaining talking can
Be sure to feel their shame.
Let’s know that we are better, cos
We spent our time in prayer,
Than atheists and heathens who
Are working over there.
Let’s say a prayer for Washington,
For Darfur; for Tibet;
Let’s say a prayer for hunger, and
To fix the nation’s debt.
Let’s say a prayer for miners, trapped
In tunnels underground;
Let’s say a prayer for missing kids
In hopes that they are found.
Let’s say a prayer for polar ice
And students gone berserk;
Let’s say a prayer for everything–
It sure beats doing work.

Just Another Case Study

As an appropriate accompaniment to my earlier post today, I thought I’d reach way back in the archives–so far back that this verse actually predates my old blog. Indeed, it was the reaction to this one that led me to start collecting them at the old place. It refers to the unfortunate demise of Gary Aldridge, example number kajillion-and-one of repressed sexuality. If you don’t recall the case, take a moment to look at the link; the verse presupposes some knowledge of the particulars.

We gather here to eulogize
The Pastor and the Man
Old Gary Aldridge, often wise,
Though not his latest plan.

A member of the Christian nation,
Friend of Jerry Falwell,
His last attempt at masturbation
Didn’t go at all well.

For fifteen years, he’d preached the word
A Southern Baptist minister
His death–now, is it just absurd
Or something rather sinister?

How does a person come to wear
Not one wetsuit, but two?
(Although, I know, I should not care
I’m curious–aren’t you?)

I tend to think that, years ago,
He spied a rubber glove,
And wondered “Should I–well, you know–
When God and I make love?”

He tried it on, and found a tube,
Half hidden on his shelf,
Of KY–smiled, and murmered “Lube
Thy neighbor as thy self.”

And minutes later, hard at work,
He felt a little odd
Was this a sin, or just a quirk?
He talked it out with God.

“Is what I’m doing here a sin?
Or is my pleasure Thine?
Is this as bad as skin on skin?
Lord, please, give me a sign!”

So God produced a pamphlet: “Your
Vacation in Aruba!”
And pointed out–right there, page four–
The wetsuits used for SCUBA

See, God’s not really how you think
A deity might be
He’s got a wicked bondage kink
(Just ask His son, J. C.)

So Gary died, not steeped in sin
But following God’s plan;
So straight to Heaven–come on in!
And bring the wetsuits, man!

A story, sure, but it may yet
Explain what happened then.
The moral is, please don’t forget:
Your safeword is “Amen”.

And On The Eighth Day, God Created Porn

God made sex and God made pleasure
God made love, and God made lust
These are God’s most precious treasures—
These fill God with pure disgust.

God made tongues, and God made fingers
God made hair, and God made skin
If by chance your touch should linger
You’ve just committed mortal sin.

God made our imagination
And may have made it all too well
God made man love masturbation
Then used it as a path to hell

It must be Sunday; CNN’s Belief Blog has a long article up. This one is on christian counseling programs to overcome pornography addiction.

Though controversial in secular circles, much of the evangelical Christian world has been cheering this relatively new kind of therapy. Many believers, including many Christian leaders, consider it a powerful tool for fighting what they say is one of the modern church’s biggest problems: porn addiction.

It is, as I said, a long article, covering new approaches, criticisms, the online “xxxchurch” mission, and more.

It’s interesting; while [some, fundamentalist] christians [like, say, most of the GOP presidential candidates] love to give god, and not evolution, credit for human nature, when that human nature includes lust, porn-viewing and masturbation, that can’t possibly be god’s work. Whether Satan or evolution, turns out omnipotence isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Pinel Institute–Mabus’s New Home

The Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montreal really does seem like it might be the place where Dennis Markuze can get the help he needs. Specializing in forensic psychiatry, they are also a research hub; I think he has a better shot here than in most places.

The site is worth looking around–the history of the institution mirrors the broader societal views of mental illness, and does not whitewash the “deplorable” treatment of the earlier years. From early asylum to modern institute, we’ve come a long way in terms of how we treat those we deem abnormal.

It’s an institution, not a hotel, but I’ve seen much worse, and not much better. They even have a cyberpsychology unit–not applicable to DM, I think; rather, it is a virtual reality immersion, for diagnosis and possible treatment of sex offenders. But this is clearly not just a place where individuals are warehoused with minimal custodial care.

Here’s hoping DM’s problems have not been ignored for so long that he’s a lost cause.

Latest On Mabus–16 Charges For Online Threats

Global Montreal reports:

The Montreal man who had been wanted by police for allegedly making online death threats against people all over the world appeared in court on Friday to face 16 charges.

Known online as “David Mabus”, Dennis Markuze of St. Laurent has been charged with uttering death threats and for criminally harassing seven victims.

Two charges were laid against him Wednesday — and an additional 14 were added on Friday.

Markuze has been sent for a 30-day psychological evaluation at Montreal’s Pinel Institute and will appear in court again on Sept. 19.

Also at the link… it is a bit surreal to see a court artist’s rendition of Mabus. They appear to have replaced the sketch with a photo.

Jennifer, Jennifer

Ok, that last Headline Muse was mostly to set up this one, from the old blog. The pope seems to be responding to the social situation in Spain–maybe the sacred and the mundane selection pressures are causing the church to evolve… anyway, the real world is where the effects are felt.

Jennifer, Jennifer, got herself pregnant,
The poor, irresponsible slut.
See, boys will be boys, so it’s up to the girls
To be moral, and keep their legs shut.
But Jennifer, Jennifer, couldn’t be bothered;
She led her young Billy astray.
They met, after classes, at Jennifer’s house,
And now there’s a kid on the way.

Jennifer, Jennifer, wants an abortion—
She says she’s too young for a baby—
But the law of the land says abortion is murder;
The answer is no, and not maybe.
See, murder is murder; we cannot condone
The destruction of innocent life.
And Billy, of course, is an innocent, too,
And he’s much, much too young for a wife.

So Jennifer, Jennifer, finds herself caught
In the view of a watchful Big Brother,
And Country and Church have a task on their hands—
How to keep the babe safe from its mother.
If murder is murder, for fetus or child,
Then surely assault is assault;
A fetus is damaged by drinking or smoking,
And all of it, Jennifer’s fault.

If Jennifer, Jennifer, falls down the stairs
Then the baby inside could be harmed;
And since that poor child is a ward of the state
It is right we should all be alarmed!
So Jennifer, Jennifer, needs to be safe
For the sake of the babe in her womb;
To keep the poor innocent safe from all harm,
Let’s keep Jennifer locked in her room.

But Jennifer, Jennifer, isn’t the first
Nor the last to be pregnant, you see.
The task that’s before us—protecting our children—
Is crucial, I think you’ll agree.
With the passing to law of my modest proposal,
I honestly think we’ll prevail.
It’s simple: Each woman who finds herself pregnant
Must spend the next nine months in jail.

Jennifer, Jennifer, shielded from harm
In a cell with a toilet and cot
With a closed-circuit camera, an unblinking eye,
For the safety of Jennifer’s tot.
When at last you deliver your new baby boy
We’ll whisk you right out through the door;
We care about kids while they’re inside your womb—
Once they’re out, we don’t care any more.

And Jennifer, Jennifer, can’t find her Billy—
Besides, he’s too young for a wife—
She weighs her alternatives, looks down each road…
And reluctantly takes her own life.

And the church says a prayer for the baby unborn
And a heartfelt and tearful farewell.
But Jennifer, Jennifer, so says the church,
Will be heading directly to hell.