Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween...

... from the 99 and 1%

Together... we are 100%

Monday Rule: Political Advertising

All political advertising should be banned. Some of you may not like this one, but remember this come next year when the TV ads start piling up, and the signs start sprouting like weeds along the road, and you get calls at 8 AM from a pre-recorded message by your state representative.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Reflection #53

Occupy Wall Street assembles peacefully and is attacked by the government’s goons, while the Tea Party brought guns to rallies and carried signs with hate speech on them. It always amazes me to see who those in power find to be a threat.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Random Thoughts: July 2011 – October 2011

I’ve given up on pleasing people. People are impossible to please. However, pissing people off is not only easy, it’s entertaining.

There would be nothing wrong with people being really rich if they didn’t then turn around and buy the government.

I wouldn’t kill anyone. However, there are people who, if they were on fire and I had some water, I would just drink it.

Obedience blinds you. Complete obedience blinds you completely.

The only war America has won in the last 10 years is the one against civil rights.

The wealthy would be foolish to ignore the Occupy Wall Street protests. Today, they’re only demanding money from the rich, but tomorrow it could just as easily be their heads. This isn’t a threat, by any means, it’s more of a lesson in history.

Behind every great man, there’s a great woman, but behind every great woman, there’s a sleazy guy checking out her ass.

Remember when Sarah Palin was the craziest Republican presidential candidate? Those were the days…

Every racist joke starts off the same: by looking around to see if anyone of that race is nearby.

Is it racist to call a black CIA agent a spook?

The end result of perfect reason is to see that nothing is dictated by reason.

People don’t know what they want. Case in point: everyone who has ever begged for death actually just wanted a better life.

The young lack patience, which is why they so often go looking for death, when if they only waited, death would come looking for them in old age.

I’m not afraid to buy my wife tampons. I’m not a bloody pussy.

The devil’s in the details, because God is in the ambiguity.

This country can’t help the poor until we save ourselves from the rich.

An entrepreneur is little more than a criminal with venture capital.

It’s called “faith” because it’s not “truth.”

Dating consists of a boy pursuing a girl until, finally, she catches him.

These days, America’s biggest export is jobs.

Wit is knowing every clever thing that has been said before, and a few that haven’t.

I prefer to eat meat, not vegetables, because I like to think of my body as a cemetery, not a compost heap.

I think it’s bad luck to be superstitious.

I don’t see what’s so special about virginity. It’s not uncommon. In fact, you might even say there’s a virgin born every minute.

America’s problem is that we lack a separation between rich and state. We need to end privatized government.

This life is not fair, by any means. Most never get all that they worked for, and a lucky few never work for all that they get.

When Herman Cain gets on stage in front of Republicans, half of them start shouting out bids.

Which would you rather have happen to you: be screwed by a donkey or be screwed by an elephant? That’s what it’s like to vote in America.

Democrats oppose the rise in poverty.
Republicans oppose the rise of the poor.

If abortion is murder, then are blowjobs cannibalism?

If ignorance is bliss, why is America so miserable?

A woman’s love is like water. To possess it, you must cup your hands and let it rest inside. You cannot grab hold of it tightly, and often it leaks out over time. Although, I guess you could keep her at the bottom of a well...

In America, the problem isn’t that we have stupid leaders. We are a Democracy, after all. It’s not just the stupid leaders who are the problem, it’s the stupid voters.

I am so neurotic, sometimes I worry that I’m becoming a hypochondriac.

I wanted someone to use reverse psychology on me, but they didn’t want to. So, I tried telling them not to use it on me.

It has always been a battle between those who want to act normal, and those who don’t. The normal people usually win, but they never have any fun doing it.

Americans cannot stand tyranny, oppression, and religious fanaticism. We fight to stamp it out where ever we find it, except here at home.

There are two tricks to being rich. The first is making money, the second is keeping it.

I am always on the side of giving a privilege to everyone or taking a privilege away from a select few.

I’ve always wanted to get married. It’s not because I’m a hopeless romantic, I just can’t stand getting to know women. The overwhelming majority of women are irritating people, and I honestly cannot stand them. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand being around men, either, but I didn’t have to look for a guy to spend my life with. Until I got married, I actually had to care what women thought of me. It’s exhausting to pretend I’m interested in all of those stupid things women like. Movies are arguably one of the worst parts, and I’m not talking about chick flicks. I would be thrilled if a woman wanted to watch “Sleepless in Seattle” or “When Harry Met Sally,” but women today don’t watch chick flicks as often as they watch these horrible films they liked since they were little kids, movies that are only good if you saw them for the first time when you were five. I am ashamed to admit I watched “Adventures in Babysitting” just to get laid. It makes me feel cheap and used.

Economic conservatives tend to disagree with things on principle, because they can’t disagree based on evidence.

What if you worship the wrong god, and every time you pray, you’re pissing her off?

I study history, not out of some misguided belief that I can avoid repeating it, but so that when it does repeat, I know the words and can sing along.

Christian math equation:

I don’t know who first said, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth,” but I bet they lived in Troy.

The first step in being a slave to your emotions is to deny they exist.

A liberal is someone who runs the risk of being on the wrong side of history. A conservative is someone who consistently is.

How do you find a blind guy at a nudist colony? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not hard.

Sometimes I sit and wonder
When the old will learn
They had their fucking chance
Now it’s time we had our turn

Prayer works, but so does not praying.

Cogito ergo sum atheos
I think, therefore I am an atheist

Advantage to having dwarfism: you don’t have to worry about pickpockets. No one would stoop that low.

Mooning someone is the second most fun you can have with your pants off.

Anyone else have a dream where they try to punch someone, but your fist moves in extreme slow motion?

A boss is like a diaper. They’re always on your ass, though you tend to forget about them being there until it becomes apparent that they’re full of shit.

I don’t discriminate against race, age, religion, or even personality. As long as she’s hot.

Sometimes silence is a perpetual lie.

The problem with “zero tolerance” discipline policies is that it harshly punishes minor offenses and never seems to prevent severe ones.

If religions were underwear, being an atheist is going commando.

When it comes to ethics, those who don’t give a shit are clearly lacking in moral fiber.

Tip to police confronting the Occupy Wall Street protesters: you catch more rioters with laughing gas than tear gas.

If God didn’t want His religion to be mocked, He would have made it less hilarious.

My wife and I were about to play a board game, and I said, “Let’s make this interesting.” So, we didn’t play a board game.

They say rape is most common in parking garages. That’s wrong on so many different levels.

Worst idea for a sex-shop item: edible handcuffs

I can relate to vibrantly colored animals, because they value mating more than survival.

If you’ve never offended someone, you’ve probably never spoken the truth. If you’ve never been frustrated, then you’ve probably never stood up to ignorance. If you’ve never cursed someone out, then you’ve probably never been on the internet.

TV Show concept: evil midget with psychic powers escapes from prison.
Title: Small Medium at Large

When God has sex with His wife, she screams my name.

I remember that first morning when I woke up after having accepted that there was no god. The gray Midwest sky seemed just a few shades less gray. I remember thinking, “It all makes sense now. All this time, I thought I didn’t get it, that I was missing out on something. Now, I see that they’re all just trying desperately to fit in, to meet the unrealistic expectations and feel something that isn’t there. But now I’m free. I’m free from all the people who made me feel like shit. I’m free from all of the guilt and shame about not living up to a standard that is as unattainable as it is irrelevant.” That day, I became a born-again-heathen.

I believe in killing with kindness. Did I mention my gun is named “Kindness?”

Being a midget is little more than a small problem, hardly noticeable to some, but others might see something is a tiny bit off. In short, don’t let it hold you down.

You can determine precisely when it was you started caring about politics by thinking back to the time when it seemed like the world went from just fine to being one inch away from complete destruction.

I can order food in three languages, but I can insult you in seventeen. Those are my priorities.

Some questions need no answer. They need only to be asked in order to reap their benefit.

I can’t help it, I just treat people of each gender differently. Like, if I see a guy crying, I want to punch him in the face, whereas if I see a female crying, I want to slap her. Call me old fashioned…

Discrimination is wrong. Everyone deserves to be treated equally, regardless of their race, whether you’re black, brown, red, yellow, or regular.

“I don’t know anyone who’s struggling” isn’t proof that the recession is over, it’s proof that you live a charmed life.

Regarding Obama, I would say I hate his guts, but I’m afraid he doesn’t have any.

I heard hospitals are in desperate need of organ donations. While I can’t afford to donate an organ, I did donate an electronic keyboard, which has an organ setting.

Money talks, and justice is blind, not deaf.

If you don’t pay your exorcist, you’ll get repossessed.

Disturbing fact: on average, five out of six people enjoyed a gang rape.

Republicans are so blinded by flawed ideology, not even their hindsight is 20/20.

I’m allergic to religious nuts.

News reporting in this country has ceased to defend democracy, and instead defends politics.

Sometimes only a few life experiences separate a wise man and a fool.

Pride breeds an “us vs. them” mentality. I don’t believe there’s a “them,” so that means everyone is included in “us,” and I’m certainly not proud of it.

If an embryo is a person, why do eggs taste nothing like chicken?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Death: The Final Frontier

There’s probably one thing we will never know, and that’s what happens after we die. Sure, plenty of people have “died” and were revived, only to tell tales of bright lights, dead relatives, and all sorts of tangible and intangible descriptions. But there are countless stories, each with their own variation. Either death is different for each of us, or these people’s minds have played tricks on them (and I’m sure some of them are attention-seeking liars).

The first is the question: does anything happen for us after we die? If yes, we can move on to another comparison. If no, then the part of us which thinks disappears upon the death of our physical body.

If something happens after we die, we must ask: is our existence linear or cyclical? If our existence is linear, then we move on from our lives here to inhabit some other world. If our existence is cyclical, then we somehow re-enter this world in a new form.

Here you see what are the three primary thanatologies: oblivion, afterlife, and reincarnation.

Not every religion views these as distinctly independent situations. Most religious views of reincarnation hold that there is some place your spirit goes immediately after death; generally, you don’t die and instantly pop out of a womb somewhere (though some may believe this to be the case). You usually go someplace, where you may be judged or tested, or you may just hang out as you wait to be reincarnated, either as a human or an animal (and in rare cases, plants).

The Greeks and Romans believed in both simultaneously, where most people die and congregate in the land of the dead, only to drink from the river Lethe (forgetting) and then be reborn. Some people who are evil (or who piss off the gods), like Sisyphus, are tortured forever in the area of Hades known as Tartarus. Buddhists believe sort of the opposite, that through right living and upon achieving Enlightenment, one can escape the reincarnation cycle and achieve Nirvana, eternal bliss.

Jews, Christians and Muslims are very much linear, believing that we are born once, we die, and then we face our eternal fate. People in the West are quite familiar with this concept, so I won’t go too much into it.

I am fairly confident nothing happens when we die. I know some who try to clumsily quote Einstein as saying energy is neither created nor destroyed, it just changes form. Well, to test that theory, try this: write a comment at the bottom of this post, but don’t send it. Just write out your thought, and see it on the screen. Look at it; it’s there. It is there because of energy. Now, turn the power off on your computer. Is the comment still there? Why not?

The medium through which that energy was flowing has ceased to contain that energy, and it dissipated without so much as a whimper when you turned the power off. What’s more, the information does not have any sort of magical means of being immortal, so if you turn your computer back on, it won’t be there anymore. It’s lost, like someone who has suffered brain damage will never get what they lost back.

But let’s suspend my views and focus on another matter. If I had to rate these systems based on which I believe would have the most positive effect on people, I believe I would say: cyclical > linear > oblivion

[For any confused by my math terminology: cyclical is greater than linear, which is greater than oblivion.]

Oblivion is the worst system, in my view, if one wishes to motivate people to act ethically. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of people who believe in oblivion upon death are perfectly ethical people, but their morality is not in any way tied to their view of death. The only moral one might ascertain directly from the view of oblivion is that one should live carefully, so as not to die.

Cyclical far exceeds linear, because it provides incentives which do not exist in a linear model of existence. If I believe I will be reincarnated, I have a vested interest in keeping the world a nice place to live, or even to make this a better place to live. If I am a man, I would not look down on women or minorities, if only because that would perpetuate sexism that may come back to haunt me if I am reincarnated as a woman or a minority.

Or, that would be how it works, if people were logical. However, both cyclical and linear models have some shortcomings which don’t come with embracing oblivion. In actual practice, believers in both cyclical and linear views tend to see their own privilege as justified. The reincarnationist sees their privilege as a reward deserved for past lives; those who believe in heaven often see any inequality in this life as being not worthy of correction here, since it is a finite time we spend on earth, compared to eternity in the afterlife.

However, oblivion may be the best system for motivating one to act ethically, assuming you have some other view beyond just the belief in a finite existence. If you believe that this life is all we have, and you also value justice or fairness in some form, or even if you just possess empathy for others, then you see that there is no inherent justice in our world. There is no one judging us after we die, there is no one making bad people pay for their actions, there is no one rewarding good people who were unappreciated or abused in this life. These things are not naturally present, so we must construct them artificially.

There is a certain degree of urgency to act in the face of injustice if you don’t just tell yourself, “Well, everything happens for a reason,” or, “Everything will work out in the end.” Nothing is part of “God’s plan,” and none of this was predestined to happen. This mess of ours is ours to clean up, and only we can do anything about it.

And it’s hard to do so when the majority of people just shrug their shoulders and trust their faith.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If Religions Were Games…

Judaism would be Monopoly. There’s a lot of rules to learn, but the goal seems to be to make the most money while bankrupting everyone else.

Christianity as a whole would be the card game War. The name is appropriate, and it’s so simple that any idiot can play.

Catholicism would be Twister. You often end up bending over backwards just to play along, and sometimes you get touched by others without your consent.

Baptists would be “The Quiet Game.” Need I say more?

Mormonism would be Chinese Checkers. It allows for more than just a pair of people to play together, plus it was invented in the 1800s.

Charismatic churches would be Bridge. It’s a game based on tricks, and while those playing are really involved, it just confuses the rest of us.

Islam would be Jenga. Don’t make me explain why…

Buddhism would be solitaire. You play alone, and the goal is to clear all the cards (empty your mind and achieve nothingness).

Scientology would be the game Operation. It seems vaguely based on scientific concepts, but it’s mostly just frustration and electronic beeps.

Hinduism would be Backgammon. It’s really old, and I have no clue how to play it.

Every minor cult in the past would be Mousetrap. They take a lot of effort to set up, they look impressive and fun when it’s ready, but they rarely work out like they were designed to (though when it does, it’s like you in a cage).

New Age spiritualism would be the game based on the TV show Happy Days. It hasn’t been relevant since the 70s, when it built itself around a mythology that naively idealized the past.

Did I miss any religions?

*Late Additions*

Evangelicals would be on a scavenger hunt. They’re always looking for specific things which will bring about the end of the game, and they bother people who aren’t even playing.

Wednesday Word: Blogtrovert

Blogtrovert: a person who really comes out of their shell while blogging

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top Ten: What Liberals Say/Mean

10. War is never the answer / …unless a Democrat is in office
9. I did not have sexual relations with that woman / I think with my dick, and she blew my mind
8. Hope / …is all we have left
7. It’s Bush’s Fault! / Three years of doing nothing can’t fix 8 years of Bush
6. I am the 99% / I am the 1% of the left who ever does anything
5. End Republican corruption / More bribes for Democrats
4. Free healthcare for all / Healthcare grows on trees, right?
3. Change you can believe in / I never said “Change you can prove”
2. We need to win the future / …because today, we lost
1. We are the ones we have been waiting for / Apparently, this is the best we can do

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Reflection #52

Ethics is not a science, it is an art. It’s not a science, because you cannot perform experiments to see what decision is more or less ethical. It is an art, because you have to learn through practice where the line should be drawn.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Less Is Mormon

My wife mentioned something she read, and I don’t know who to credit, but I thought it rang pretty true.

Pretend we’re on jeopardy…

This Massachusetts politician fails to garner support from his political party’s base, despite sharp opposition against the sitting president.

If it’s a new episode, I would go with, “Who is Mitt Romney?” Of course, if this was 7 years ago, I would have to go with “Who is John Kerry?” The similarities are uncanny, not so much between the men themselves as the situation they find themselves in.

Like Kerry, I don’t think Romney will win against the incumbent. It could happen, stranger things certainly have occurred, but honestly… this loss for the Republicans has been a long time coming.

It’s quite ironic, really. The Republican Party has unofficially instated a religious test for the office of presidency within their party, and Romney is likely to fail it. I sense that Republicans know this, which is why they’re grasping for straws as the deadline for entry into the race fast approaches at the end of this month.

I think it’s silly, and quite amusing, to see these different Jesus fan clubs fighting over who really follows Jesus. I stand by my view, which is that Mormonism is no less Christian than Catholicism, Protestantism, any Orthodox church, Gnostics, or even crazy people on street corners who claim they’re John the Baptist. It’s all Christian to me if they say they follow the example of Jesus, regardless of which fictional literary accounts they draw from (or how old they are).

I sort of liken it to the debates I heard among the even geekier kids I knew growing up, when Star Trek: The Next Generation was new. I never much cared for the show, but I was somewhat of a nerd (since I played Magic: The Gathering), so I was present for some intense debates over what I perceived to be ridiculous things.

I don’t remember it happening, but I can imagine the furor that would arise at the table if a fan of Classic Star Trek called Next Generation “not real Star Trek” because it came later. And from my perspective, it would be a non-argument not even worth pursuing, a statement made only to enrage the opponent, and not based on any real criteria. The Star Trek universe is fictional, and to say an older version was more authoritative on the grounds that it came first would make some sense, but to say anything to come after it is “not really Star Trek” is a stance based purely on a malicious desire to baselessly delegitimize the opponent.

That’s basically what we have here. Now, there will be atheists who disagree, perhaps on the grounds that they see a clear demarcation between Mormonism and other sects of Christianity, though I don’t see them calling other Christians “not real Christians,” even if they include different holy texts in their canon. Others may just like to see any religion get bashed, and saying Mormons aren’t Christians will piss them off, so why not say it? Hell, I can relate to that.

Well, I personally won’t say it because this is one of those rare instances where my integrity won’t let me. It’s just simply not true. The matter is plain and simple, really: Joseph Smith has no less authority from a Christian perspective than Paul, whose work dominates the New Testament and Christian theology. Neither of these men ever met Jesus, and neither of them practiced Christianity in a form that most “mainstream” Christians today would agree with. The thing is, religion isn’t democratic or defined by a particular time and place. The majority in a religion don’t get to vote on whether other sects are “real Christians” or not.

Just as one example of a discrepancy between doctrines, Mormons don’t believe God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one being, which puts them at odds with the generally accepted idea of trinitarianism. Believing this doesn’t make you “not a real Christian,” it makes you one of numerous Christian sects in history which knew how to read.

Matthew 24:36 clearly says that, regarding judgment day, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Then you have story after story of Jesus praying… to God… who is supposedly himself. If they were one in the same, this hardly makes any sense.

But hey, who am I but a lowly, literate heathen?

If your reason for seeing Latter Day Saints as non-Christian is because there are “real Christians” saying so, consider that Christians have been calling each other names since the day Jesus hung on a cross, if not before. The ideological in-fighting is still evidenced in the canonical gospels’ depiction of Judas and Thomas, disciples whose followers and gospels were rejected and opposed by those who went on to dominate Christianity, decided which writings would go into the Bible, and then standardized the faith going out century after century and slaughtering those who, while being fellow Christians, weren’t Christian in just the right way.

If Mormonism isn’t Christianity because it adds to the teachings of Jesus, then you should exclude Protestants, and certainly Catholics are not even close. You may even find a Greek Orthodox priest willing to make such a claim, if you can pull him away from the untranslated Greek text of the New Testament on which he bases his views (you know, as opposed to the biased translations most of us non-Grecophones read). By Greek Orthodox standards, the churches which base their views on translated texts have an adulterated understanding of the Bible.

If you decide to use esoteric criteria based on traditions formed centuries after Jesus’ death, then yes, you can “prove” to yourself beyond any shadow of a doubt that one group of Christians are not “real Christians,” just know that you’re only fooling yourself.

I don’t like Mitt Romney, but it has nothing to do with his magic underwear or his avoidance of caffeine. A person’s religion is not important unless they make it important. Romney governed Massachusetts fairly moderately, and from my understanding, did not let his religion get in the way of his duties.

My own dislike for him has nothing to do with his religion, or even that he changes his views. It’s important to be able to change, and I actually respect a politician who governs according to the will of the people over his own personal opinions. I just don’t think Romney will represent me or my views were he to be elected president. I think this is reason enough to not support him, and I don’t need to manufacture any other ideologically charged arguments based on religious bias.

Still… I look forward to the Mormon bashing. It will be a hoot watching the Republicans fall all over themselves trying to support this guy come 2012.

Of course, maybe Romney won’t be the nominee (yeah right…). I kind of hope it’s Herman Cain, because when Obama beats him, then Republicans can finally, once and for all, shut up about how Obama only got elected because he was black.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Word: Kleptocracy

Kleptocracy: rule by thieves

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

When I wrote this post about atheist snobbery, I didn’t aim it at one atheist or blog. I certainly had many specific ones in mind, and one was Camels With Hammers, written by Dr. Daniel Fincke over at Free Thought Blogs.

In fact, you can basically lump in most of the FTB contributors. I say most, not all, because I’m not familiar with all of them (only most… an ambiguous term I imply to mean over half).

This isn’t to say I don’t like what many of them have written. Take Jen at Blag Hag. I think a lot of what she wrote is right up my alley. I’m unabashedly pro-feminism, I thought Boobquake was rather clever, I even grew up in Indiana. But she banned me from commenting on her old site because I stood up for DM’s free speech right to say whatever he wants without some fascists sending the cops to his door to silence him. When someone censors others and then censors me for standing up for free speech, I write them off as little more than a lazy fool, and I think I’m correct in doing so.

If you can’t handle someone telling you, “You’re wrong,” without them even so much as using one bit of obscene language, you’re a lazy fool. If I had gone on her blog and started calling people cunts and faggots, I would feel she had a point in not wanting that sort of discourse, but she decided to ban me for pointing out that no one has the right to not feel threatened, otherwise you could kick black people off the bus when a scared white person was riding. No big loss for me, but it speaks volumes to her lack of character.

But I’m not just some noble free speech advocate out protecting the rights of religious nuts to tell atheists they will burn for eternity. I also get upset when atheists are being silenced. While I anticipated telling religious people to “fuck off” when they try to silence atheists, I have to say… I did not foresee having to stand up for myself against fellow atheists as often as I do.

And yet, that’s what I find myself doing while blogging about atheism or reading the blogs of other atheists. In all seriousness, the infighting I see among atheists is the most counter-productive activity I could ever imagine. We don’t even believe anything in particular, but for some reason there are atheists who are dogmatic enough in their non-belief and presumptuous enough in their own views that they have the audacity to essentially tell people, “I’m holier than thou.”

Fuck you. No seriously, if you honestly see yourself as somehow superior to another atheist because you refrain from what you imagine to be lowly behavior that is unbecoming of an atheist, please go fuck yourself roughly with an unlubricated fire hydrant.

There are few things in this world more pathetic than an atheist who thinks atheism is somehow virtuous, and the glorifying of atheism as some sort of higher intellectual view may actually be the biggest threat to atheism. It is putting atheism up on a pedestal, like it were some sort of god to be worshipped and venerated, and only in a certain, dignified way. And wear nicer clothes when you come to atheist Church. What are you, some sort of slob?

Which leads me to Camels with Hammers. I’m not familiar with this blog enough to make the bold claim that this blog in any way personifies what I’m talking about. From a cursory perusal of it, I think it’s not at all. The only reason I bring it up is because I wanted to talk about one particular aspect of rhetoric, and Dr. Fincke wrote the counter-argument to my own view (I doubt it was because of me, I assume he just holds this view independent of anything I have ever done or said).

While I don’t tend to call religious people stupid (I bet I could find at least one instance where I have somewhere in the over 1000 posts I have written), I don’t see anything wrong with calling religious people stupid. This isn’t because I think most religious people are, in fact, stupid (though most are, in fact), but because I don’t look down upon name-calling. Besides, being stupid isn’t the worst thing in the world; being an asshole is much worse. I’m both stupid and an asshole (as are many Christians), but when it comes to atheism, at least I’m right. In my view, it’s more important to be correct than intelligent or nice. Maybe I’m wrong about that, I am stupid after all, but I am positively correct about atheism, and the fact that I am not nice about it plays no part in the veracity of my position.

I can think of a few reasons why an atheist would call religious people stupid. For one thing, most are. Most religious people aren’t stupid because they are religious, most religious people are stupid because, on the whole, the vast majority of people are just incredibly stupid. It’s probably safe to say there are many stupid atheists, and indeed, there are plenty of atheists I have known who couldn’t coherently explain why they are an atheist (especially second generation atheists).

However, I have noticed a strange phenomenon… and maybe this explains why there is this focus on stupid religious people and not stupid atheists. Stupid atheists tend to keep to themselves, while stupid religious people seem to never shut the fuck up.

Of all the stupid atheists I ever met, I’m the only one who ever talks about atheism. Strangely, talking about it so much has made me a sort of lay-expert (by which I mean that I am knowledgeable without much formal training… I have atheist “street smarts,” not so much “book smarts,” or maybe I could go so far as to say I have “Wikipedia smarts”). But on the whole, I’m still pretty stupid.

Take me out of the realm of politics and religion, and you’ll see how stupid I am. I need to consult written instructions when boiling water. I honestly get lost while driving to places I have been dozens of times. I have wandered the house for twenty minutes looking for a wallet that was in my back pocket the whole time. And most damning of all, I still use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Now, like most stupid people, I grew up not wanting to be called stupid. Luckily, I do well on standardized tests (so, I seemed to have a very high IQ, but I assure you, it is grossly inflated). Growing up, I thought I was soooo smart. My parents told me I was smart, and they know everything, so clearly I was a genius. Ahh, the logic of a stupid person… it makes just enough sense to be believable, if it’s appealing.

Before I stopped being religious, I thought of religion as stupid. I thought the rituals were stupid, I thought many of the religious people I knew were stupid, I thought the nuns in my private school were stupid… even in my own family, my dad is clearly smarter than my mom (as evidenced by the fact that he lets her go on thinking otherwise), and he’s an atheist, while my mother is a Catholic. Growing up, my mom was wrong on a lot of things, but I can’t recall any error my dad ever made. This all accumulates and begins to form a world view based on what intelligent people call “anecdotal evidence.”

Enter the comedians I grew up idolizing on TV for being so funny and confident. Many of them mock religion and religious people as being stupid. It didn’t take a leap in [il]logic to come to the conclusion, “Well… it appears that, in fact, religion is stupid. If religion is stupid and I am smart, I shouldn’t be religious anymore.” Because obviously, if your prejudice is confirmed by a person who makes you laugh, it’s clearly the truth…

When I see people like Dr. Fincke telling atheists to stop calling religious people stupid, my first impulse is to say, “Stop being a fucking pussy.” After I count to 20 and take my medication, I am inclined to point out that really, there is nothing wrong with exercising your freedom of speech to state an opinion. I know Dr. Fincke, who has a Ph. D in philosophy, must be utterly turned off by the level of discourse characterized by stooping to ad hominem arguments, but to those of us not sipping scotch in an ivory tower (a gross exaggeration, I am sure), it’s actually not only a statement that rings true enough to warrant saying, but is also incredibly cathartic to the one saying it.

Religious people are stupid.

God, that feels good to write. It feels even better to say it to a religious person’s face, and I have done it many times in my more brazen youth (and a few times when presented with the appropriate opportunity as an adult). I actually saw my youth counselor from my church once while I was home from college years ago, and he asked if I would be at mass (I think it was right before Christmas). I told him, while in some store at the mall, “Naw, religion is for idiots.”

He didn’t even have anything to say in response, and since I had no intention of getting into a big discussion about it there, my comment did its job. There was no further attempt to get me to go to church, no further plea. No carefully worded apologetics slipped from his lips. He just gave me a stunned look and we both went about our day. And I would like to think he thought twice about approaching a random person he taught lies to about going to church, but I doubt this is the case.

Say what you want, my comment succeeded. I wasn’t out to “convert” him, and I made it abundantly clear right up front that I had no interest in his religious pressuring. To this day, I think it was the perfect comment for that situation. Maybe it’s not the best thing to say at all times to all people, but then and there, I couldn’t have formulated a better response that would garner the results I wanted.

But this gets to the other, more important note. I’m not aiming to “convert” anyone. I use quotes because I don’t know what else to call it, and I don’t want to suggest I see atheism as something to which you can actually convert. It’s more of a deconversion to nothing, so maybe I should use that terminology. However, I don’t think I can “deconvert” someone, either. One’s views are very much internal, and they must be changed by the individual. Even if some external idea from someone else manages to light a spark, the individual must tend the flame to keep it going. At any rate, I’m not actively trying to make anyone an atheist, I just want to say things people find worth reading.

Of course, if something I write makes someone question their views, or an idea I present culls some doubt from the ignored darker recesses of the mind, I’m happy to have played some tiny part in someone uncovering a tiny portion of truth.

I don’t want to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t say. I refuse to do it. If you want to tell other atheists who disagree with you on some particular concept or method to shut up, you’re free to do so. I don’t advocate being crude to religious people as a means to any particular end, I merely support the idea of diversity in thought and approach. I think the more different ways atheists have of representing themselves, the better.

The Bible caters quite often to fools, perhaps because most people are fools, but there are undoubtedly profound truths and intelligent arguments made in the Bible, which is why there are some intelligent people who are religious. This is all the evidence I need that an ideology can harbor both good and bad arguments to great success.

If atheism ever hopes to branch out beyond a highly educated, intellectual elite (which I think they already have to some degree… and I’m living proof), atheism must simultaneously cater to both intelligent people and fools, not to mention those lucky ones in the middle who are neither too stupid to be failures, nor too intelligent to be depressed. There needs to be a full spectrum of atheist argumentation.

Or, you can alienate the vast majority and never get your way. Personally, I see atheism not as an intellectual virtue, but as a social institution that can act as a vehicle for ending the abuses of religion. There is no excuse for the influence religion holds over the non-religious. Those who want nothing to do with religion should have freedom from religious morals and teachings.

I think this is a common aim shared by all atheists, regardless of how smart they are. To achieve this, we need more than just the smartest 1%, or even the smartest 5, 10, 25, or even 45%. Mathematically, we need to delve into the “below average intelligence” category if we ever hope to have the influence necessary for actually changing anything.

I’m not one for making logical arguments, but there you have it: statistical proof we need stupid people who are atheists.

The good news is, stupid people are easy to sway. Stupid people tend to respond to strong speakers and strong ideas. They would say strong, most intelligent people might call it “domineering” or “ostentatious.” Stupid people don’t understand what those mean; they understand “strong.” Stupid people respond to confident and concise messages repeated a thousand times more than you think is necessary. You will get sick of saying something before a stupid person gets sick of hearing it.

If you need help, look at someone stupid people like. I think Larry the Cable Guy is a good example. He has a catch phrase which people love to say, even though no one knows what the hell it means. There’s no logic in that, only sheer, visceral primalism. He even tells his audience when to laugh, “Now that’s funny right there.” He literally points his audience in the direction of the punchlines because they are just that stupid, and Larry the Cable Guy is smart enough to know it.

Doesn’t that just piss off some of you intellectual atheists a teeny, tiny, little bit? A man as dumb as [the guy who plays the character of] Larry the Cable Guy is smart enough to reach an entire class of people on a level you never could. Doesn’t that just sour your frappucinos?

I am thankful to Dr. Fincke for what is, as of the moment of me writing this, over 250 unique visitors to my site thanks to a link he made to a Top Ten list of mine that criticizes conservatives. I enjoy reading your blog and I wouldn’t dream of having you so much as move a single comma on my account. But maybe you, and all other atheists who deign to bless the atheist blogosphere with your intelligent discourse, may come to see those of us eating at the rowdy table as valuable allies, every bit as important as you are. Not more, not less, just equally important for the role we play, for we have different skills, and we apply them in ways I doubt you could even stomach.

I like to think of things in terms of analogies. If atheism was a hockey team, the intelligent atheists are the center and the forwards. Among the defensemen, there are often a couple guys on the roster known as “enforcers.”

The enforcer’s job is to make the game difficult for the other team’s best players. He gets in their faces, tells them how sweet their mom’s pussy was last night, and just generally crawls under their skin. Ideally, the enforcer gets into a fist fight with the other team’s best player, goading him into throwing punches and thereby sending not only the enforcer, but also the other team’s star player to the penalty box (possibly even injuring the talented opponent, if the enforcer is good enough). Some enforcers just play cut-throat defense and stick to him closer than a Southern principal would allow couples to dance at a prom. But the very best are known for being able to get the coolest head to throw the first punch.

Is the enforcer a worse hockey player than most on the team? Of course he is, that’s why he isn’t playing another role. But what he does is no less valuable for the team as a whole, and his cheap tactics in no way detract from any win the team earns, nor from the skills of the other individuals who play in the same jerseys. A win is a win, and there are no points for playing the game clean.

I think atheists need to open their tent up and realize that they are missing out on some large demographics, all in the pursuit of respect they’ll never earn from people who believe we’re going to burn in hell forever. Quit trying to impress people who have no intent on ever respecting you. I’m not saying, “Be disrespectful,” but don’t pretend that if you are kind and polite, Christians may one day think of you as anything more than potential Christians or eternal kindling.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Top Ten: What Conservatives Say/Mean

10. Support our troops / Kill foreigners
9. I oppose big government / I hate when Democrats do anything
8. Family values / I decide what families should be
7. Obama is a Nazi Socialist / I know nothing about Nazis, Socialism, or Obama
6. America first / Me second, everyone else third
5. Only 53% pay taxes / Tax kids, the elderly and the comatose!
4. Wealth will trickle down / The rich are pissing on us
3. I’m pro-life / Unless you’re a black convict or lack health insurance
2. Liberal bias / Science and history
1. I don’t see color / I ignore minorities

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Rule: War Geography

America should not be allowed to attack a nation that the majority of Americans cannot locate on a world map.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Reflection #51

I don’t need a god, because I have a dog. Like a god, you can tell a dog anything, and he’ll just listen quietly without interrupting you or mocking you. They can both keep a secret, and you know both of them love you. Except… I can hug my dog.

Reason, Logic, and Atheist Snobbery

On reading the blogs of other atheists, I am reminded of why I so rarely do so. There are plenty I truly enjoy, especially those that focus on politics (whether I agree with them or not) or on the practical side of atheism, by which I mean “atheism” as it pertains to real-life situations and issues. However, there is a certain atheist snobbery I am getting a bit tired of.

Perhaps what irritates me so much about it is what irritates me so much about religion: I used to be like that, I’m not anymore, and it is frustrating that I can’t pinpoint some sort of roadmap for how I went from there to here. It’s like being at a roaring party and having the noise of where I am drown out any attempt to give someone directions on how to get here.

Let me make something perfectly clear: atheism has nothing to do with logic or reason. Zero, zilch, nada. You can formulate a trillion reasons for not believing in gods without once stumbling upon something that makes any sense at all, and if even one of those “reasons” is meaningful to you, you may believe it and become an atheist.

Don’t get me wrong, there is justification based on logic and reason for why atheism is the obvious default stance, a stance which has not been disproven, and is therefore the only acceptable view for any intellectually honest person. I’m not saying atheism is illogical or without reason. Rather, I question the effectiveness of such arguments on the religious.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but it is my impression that most atheists who discuss logic and reason based arguments don’t do it to reinforce their own views or the opinions of other atheists. Rather, I am assuming the end goal of writing a “proof” against gods is to get someone to abandon their religion.

This is strange of me to assume, because this isn’t my own goal, but I have learned long ago that most people are not like me. In some ways, I am mind-numbingly typical, but in others, I am stubbornly unconventional to the point where I derive glee from espousing taboo ideas. Ironically, I imagine this makes me quite normal. This probably describes most people: average in some ways, proud to be unusual in others.

I certainly began blogging thinking I might change some people’s minds, but people don’t read blogs to be informed or persuaded. People read blogs to be entertained. So, I settle for just saying things no one has heard before, and if it makes you smirk or think or angry… I did my job. As long as you felt something real, besides boredom, I will be driven to keep writing.

This is not the case with some atheist bloggers. Many elucidate long, complex, heady discussions on the fallacies behind religion. I’ve been guilty of this far more times than I would care to admit, and in my lazier moments, I still fall back on writing what is essentially a lecture. I don’t mind writing this way at all, but even I yawn as I proof-read it [this].

And that’s about what happens if a Christian reads it.

I try to write the way those who convinced me of atheism wrote. I became an atheist in the heyday of the early internet. I used to read harshly critical articles on the American Atheists website. I watched George Carlin’s stand-up comedy and read his books. I knew an older guy I worked with one summer in high school who was an atheist, and we used to smoke pot in his attic while mocking religion and other things we mutually hated while listening to Nine Inch Nails.

These are not intellectual pursuits. I was not drawn to atheism because of its legitimate merits; I was drawn to it because I found it to be an escape from the uptight religious world. The reasons I became an atheist don’t hold up under a microscope, they were merely appealing to the rebel inside me that was looking for an outlet.

I sometimes wonder how often this is the case for other atheists, whether people leave religion because religion is wrong, or because it’s no fun. If I took a look around the atheist blogosphere, I might assume that most atheists were enamored with Nietzsche or Dawkins, and that their lack of belief stems from some sort of deep, philosophical pursuit or a strict science-based outlook.

And yet, I can’t help but think this is a fallacy erected by atheists to justify the basis for their views. Again, don’t get me wrong, I think the deeper you delve into atheism, the more it is accurate. But honestly, I think we can drop some (I’m not saying all) of the ivory tower eggheadery in an effort to make atheism more accessible to the average religious person.

Let’s be frank: people who are happy with their religion don’t one day randomly decide to become atheists. What makes people initially question their faith has to come from within, not from without, so in order to reach someone who is religious, you must focus on what someone might not like about their religion.

To put it another way, if religious people cared about logic and reason, they would already be atheists, so trying to present logic- and reason-based arguments for atheism is like trying to shout instructions at someone in ancient Sumerian. No matter how technically right you may be, they don’t understand or care. It doesn’t make any logical sense to approach the religious using language and values they don’t share with you (or in many cases, have been expressly taught are evil and to be ignored).

As far as I know, I have only played a part in encouraging a few people to become atheists, most of them while I was in high school. I have chatted with one of them about this, and he explicitly told me that he became an atheist because of me. This is particularly amusing, because he was my sponsor when I was confirmed in the Catholic Church against my wishes, and he walked down the aisle of the church with me to be blessed by the Bishop while being an avowed atheist. In fact, it was that travesty of religion that he said partially cemented his current views.

He said that in high school, I always pointed out how hypocritical the Bible and religious people were. And it’s true: at the time, I primarily focused on criticizing religious people and the things they did, as well as pointing to inconsistencies and immorality in the Bible. I was greatly concerned with what people said and what they actually did, and of course, I repeated every semi-clever thing I ever heard or read pertaining to atheism or in contempt of religion. I was (and I suppose, still am) a walking compendium of bumper-sticker wisdom.

I was far less educated on the subject than I am now. Many people I know who are atheists became so during college, compared to me becoming an atheist in high school. It’s no mystery why college will churn out so many atheists. There are so many factors.

College is characterized by young people being away from their parents (and churches) in a new place where they are surrounded by people from different cultural backgrounds while being exposed to education that includes a comprehensive criticism of fundamental core values which are instilled by religion. Plus, there’s the sex, booze and drugs, you can’t underestimate those.

I mean, sure, most atheists will deny that last bit played any part (and I doubt it was the only part for nearly anyone), but you show me a sober virgin who became an atheist and I’ll show you one hideously grotesque and lonely person who wishes they could at least get laid.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that people don’t leave religion to become promiscuous. You don’t have to leave religion to have sex before marriage (hell, you don’t even have to wait until marriage in order to feel justified in touring the country claiming that other people should wait, just look at the Palins). Plenty of promiscuous people are religious, and most atheists I have known are romantically faithful individuals.

For me, college was largely about refining an ideology that had taken root years before. Thinking back, this is when my view of religion and atheism really became distorted to the point of being irrelevant to the average religious person. In a way, one can learn too much about religion and atheism for one’s own good.

You should be able to talk about atheism without asking someone to read a whole book on the subject. That has to be my biggest pet peeve: seeing so many atheists say to religious people, “Hey, you need to read [insert book here], then you’ll really see why religion is a scam.” There is only one book that made me an atheist after reading it, and that’s “The Bible.”

I have yet to read any book about atheism itself, and I don’t think I’m any less informed on the subject than anyone I ever met. Reading most of what atheists write about religion is reminiscent to reading a several paragraph essay on why two plus two equals four (which is about as interesting as this essay right here).

This phenomenon has led to a sort of atheist snobbery that I find akin to what I found among art students. Go to a museum with a student of art, and they will be able to appreciate certain works more deeply than I ever could. Something I always found odd, however, was that many of the works I enjoyed were ridiculed and laughed at by “true artists.” Meanwhile, they ooo’ed and ahh’ed over a giant canvas with nothing but straight lines of solid color, a composition which flat-out bored me.

I sort of see the discourse within the atheist community as being comparable to a museum. There is some work that is appreciated by people who don’t know the first thing about it, and some pieces are best appreciated by the experts, but only a select few that can be enjoyed by both (the Salvadore Dalis and Vincent van Goghs of atheist rhetoric). What I can’t stand, however, is that some atheists would force out those who appeal to less academically rigorous arguments, preferring instead to criticize atheists for their lack of quiet, reserved scholarship.

Just as one example, one of the primary causes of me abandoning religion is, without any doubt, George Carlin’s diatribes against religion. He had me convinced religion started all wars. He characterized God as a huge jackass and religious people as little jackass-wannabes. There were no facts beyond humorous anecdotes, mostly mean-spirited mocking that appealed to my own prejudices against the religious.

That’s what stupid people respond to: playground tactics. When you go off to college and you take English 101 or some other class that teaches elementary rhetoric (maybe even in high school), they teach you about these things called “fallacies.” Strawmen, ad hominem attacks, arguments from authority… you have to be literally taught what is wrong with all of the methods people use to convince others, and you have to be taught because naturally, you will fall for them. Without the knowledge of why they are baseless, you will find these arguments appealing.

Religions rely on fallacies, as do politicians, marketers, parents, teachers, administrators, the crazy guy on the corner… literally everyone who wants you to do something their way will use fallacies to argue their point, even if they are correct. They use them because these tactics work, and because you don’t earn any extra points in this world by using logic and reason alone.

Even if a stance can be argued using logic and reason, it’s not uncommon to see it argued using fallacies, because fallacies are like a short cut, a hack for the human brain. Fallacies are like a Jedi trick that works on the weak minded. If religion has taught me anything, it’s that it is easier to deceive a fool than it is to convince him.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from writing long treatises on the logic and reason based arguments for atheism. Quite the contrary, I am glad it happens. I am glad there are people taking the time to shore up the foundations of atheism, and at times I attempt to do so as well (clumsily, but in my own way). Rather, I am asking that atheists consider this: don’t criticize fellow atheists because of their zeal. Encourage them, because it is enthusiasm like that which actually attracts new atheists, not somber essays in the tone of a textbook.

It is counterproductive to criticize someone for being a “militant” atheist, a “juvenile” atheist, a “religious” atheist, or some other derogatory terminology picked solely for its ability to demean and marginalize them. That is a logical fallacy, an ad hominem attack, and it’s particularly stupid to be using such a tactic against someone on your own team.

It’s taken me some time to come to this conclusion, but it’s what I believe to be right. I started out as a crude neophant atheist, then I was a snobby pseudo-intellectual atheist, but now… I’m more of a pragmatist. Even though it goes against my own ethical beliefs, I would call Jesus a faggot if I thought for one second that it would convince anyone to be an atheist. At the very least, it might amuse someone. I mean… he did hang out with a bunch of sailors...

Enthusiastic atheists don’t “make atheism look bad,” we already look horrible to believers. Pretend all you want, but even if every atheist was a calm, collected, college-educated individual who was polite (like I used to be on my blog years ago), there would still be religious people who think we ate babies. It’s a losing battle to try to win the hearts and minds of heartless and mindless people. The best you can do is to get a laugh out of them, just to confirm they’re still human.

But don’t stop writing logic and reason based pieces. While those like George Carlin can convince people to become an atheist in the first place, it is articles about reason and logic that keep one an atheist after the initial excitement wears off and the old familiar cynicism kicks in.

That is what atheists ought to be doing: instilling cynicism in others. Encourage people to be skeptical, to question, to seek, to look around, to read everything, to listen to everyone, to take an active part in the world rather than just be another passive cog turning in one place. That is what leads to atheism: an awareness that we are here, that we have no idea what’s going on, and that the people who pretend to know what’s going on are the most wrong of all.

It’s not logic or reason that leads most to atheism, it’s finally being able to admit to yourself, “Maybe I’ve been lied to all along.” That’s not logic or reason, that’s curiosity. You can’t teach that, you can only hope to encourage it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Interview Conversation with Andrea: Part 1

Bret: I’m speaking to Andrea of the blog “Write Down the Revelation.” Andrea, how would you define your religion? And feel free to go beyond just “Christian.”

Andrea: Religion is a set of rules to keep people in line. It is based on fear of punishment. I am in a relationship with Jesus.

Bret: When did you become religious?

Andrea: I grew up within the Mennonite culture. It was religious - well meaning, but religious. I rebelled at the thought that God could be put in a box like that. I didn’t see that as a witness from the Bible but it’s what I experienced all around me. My “Christianity” was largely ineffective both in my own life to effect change and in others’ lives, as keeping rules tends to be. I finally became “irreligious” about 13 years ago, in 1998 and it’s been a journey into a relationship.

Bret: Is there one thing in particular which you think most people who are not Christian should know about Christianity? Feel free to go beyond just one thing if you get on a roll.

Andrea: This is one thing that I think people should know about Christianity, including many Christians: it is a relationship. God knows you, loves you and he wants to be known by you. It is not a dictatorship, or a set of rules.

God could not love you any more than he does right now. It doesn’t matter if you acknowledge him or not, it doesn’t matter if you grow the biggest church, it doesn’t matter if you pray and read your Bible regularly, it doesn’t matter if you perform miracles and clear cancer from your city. God loves you the same.

Through Christ, and by faith, we are a new creation. You can be born a sinner, but you can not be born again as a sinner. Many Christians live defeated lives, which attracts no one. I don’t want that kind of gospel. In fact, it’s not a gospel at all because gospel means good news.

Bret: How would you respond to the millions of people who say there is no one on the other end of the relationship with God? Are we not trying hard enough?

Andrea: The short answer is they don’t have a relationship. It isn’t about trying hard, it’s about being.

Bret: That’s a very Buddhist way of looking at Christianity. However, it seems odd to me that a being who wants a relationship with someone, and who loves them, would not oblige because the person is trying too hard. Is God a guy who likes to play games, or am I just completely not understanding what you said?

Andrea: When I say that we need to be, rather than try hard, what I mean is that we need to be in a relationship. When we try, it introduces rules and religion which is NOT what Christianity truly is. Being in a relationship means we actively try to please each other; and God pleases us, in the same way we please him. Think of any other type of relationship we can have: friend-friend, parent-child, husband-wife. My son doesn’t have to do anything to be in relationship with me; I will love him no matter what he does, even if he hurts me, I’ll still love him. Does that make sense?

Bret: It does make sense, but that isn’t the sense I get from the Bible. I read a post of yours called “Why Heaven Isn’t For You,” and it sort of raises some red flags. You seem very nonchalant about the fact that some people are, according to the Bible, going to burn in hell. I mean, I find your view to be more accepting and all, but I just don’t see it as the same message as what I get from the Bible. It’s not a matter of, “Well, it’s just not for everyone.” Do you have any feelings on this?

Andrea: There are two questions here, let me answer your first: am I nonchalant about people going to hell? No. Absolutely not. I desire that everyone comes to the full realization of who God is and what his desire for us is. The post was inspired by a conversation I had with my FIL (father-in-law). He’s agnostic and couldn’t fathom an eternity in heaven. It dawned on me that why should he? Heaven is about being and dwelling with Jesus, if he doesn’t have a relationship with him now, why should he want one for eternity? As an atheist, who believes that we live and die and that’s it, it’s a moot point, don’t you think?

In answer to your 2nd question/comment: I believe my views are very biblical. I love what I’ve found in my relationship with Jesus and I want to share my joy with others and I want them to have the same experience but it’s not a set of rules, which can only change things from the outside. A relationship changes the person - from the inside.

Bret: Maybe I read another Bible, but Jesus was big on rules. You mentioned that in a relationship, you want to please the other person. This is one way of saying there are no “rules,” like me and my wife have no “rules,” but there is still a basic understanding of what is expected, and unlike with a person, we don’t get our understanding of what God wants from God, but from the Bible... which is full of rules you have to follow to be on God’s good side. This isn’t to say Christians must follow all the rules (after all, there’s always forgiveness). I have noticed Christianity isn’t about “being good,” it’s about obedience. Am I off the mark?

Andrea: To be on God’s good side, we have to hide behind Jesus, by whom the wrath of God was satisfied. We live by grace, not law. Grace is above the law. Jesus was big on relationship, not rules. He ridiculed, chastised and called the rule keepers of the day (Pharisees), fools. I want to please my husband, so I find out what pleases him and I do it - often times to the sacrifice of myself. Don’t you do that for your wife? Is it about keeping rules with her? Obedience plays a role for reward, not for relationship.

Bret: Jesus opposed people who were what we might call today “fundamentalists,” but Jesus clearly supported many rules. He was opposing people who wouldn’t help a person out of a well on the Sabbath, not disregarding the entire morality of the Jewish tradition. If anything, Jesus added to the rules, usually with suggestions of what to do, rather than emphasizing what not to do (though Jesus had his fair share of pet peeves, and is obviously famous for driving money changers out of the temple with a whip).

I think what I’m trying to get at is... I’m not sure it’s such a good thing that Christianity does not encourage followers to be better people, and what’s more, I think obedience is a very dangerous trait in general. Is there any redeeming value in Jesus’ teachings if it encourages dangerous qualities in its followers and emphasizes that it’s not important to be a good person, only that individuals should aim to have a relationship with Jesus so they can get into heaven?

Andrea: The icing on the cake of relationship is that by it and through it, I become a better person, because I want to please the one I’m in a relationship with. The “fruit” as Christians like to call it, is what happens because of the relationship, it is not what we strive for. John 15 is a famous passage (perhaps only for Christians??) that says he (Jesus) is the vine and we (Christians) are the branches, any branch that is not connected to the vine does not bear fruit but the branches that are connected are pruned to bear fruit. It says, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.”

I also want to say in regard to your last question that heaven factors into my worldview because I am looking forward to dwelling face to face with Jesus but seeking a relationship with Jesus is not simply ‘fire insurance’. If what I experience now is all I’m ever going to experience, I would still be a Christian. The best news is that I can have my cake and eat it too.

Bret: You don’t ever feel threatened by all the food and livestock metaphors in the Bible?

Andrea: I don’t know what you mean by your last question, are you asking if I’m offended because Jesus calls me a sheep?

Bret: Well... apostles are fishers of men, Jesus is a shepherd to his flock, no fruit grows from seed that falls upon the ground or is eaten by birds... there’s a lot of instances where believers are food. You’re not the least bit worried that you’re just being groomed to be devoured by God?

Andrea: No. :)

Bret: I doubt the chickens in the chicken coup suspect a thing, either. I mean, this is all assuming there is a God, obviously, but it just seems very possible to me.

But more than whether God is lying or not, I worry about the human aspect of the Bible. Do you ever worry that you are not following in the footsteps of Jesus, but are instead following the path of those who claim to have followed him centuries ago, despite never having met Him?

Andrea: You and I came across each other because of a post I wrote about God speaking to me, you also said that you’ve spoken with God too. Although I have not seen God in bodily form, I do have conversations (I speak to him and he answers), I have visions and I see things that are beyond this reality. My relationship with God is EVERY bit as real as my relationship with my husband. If God has lied, I have not recognized it, perhaps you think that makes me a fool but I generally trust people at their word until proven false.

Bret: We should both ask God what number he’s thinking of and see if we get the same answer. Up for it?

Andrea: Let’s try this, let me ask God something about you, something specific. Let’s see if I can hear?

Bret: I feel like it would be more scientific if it was numbers, but we can go with that.
I like the old experiment, because it’s not about disproving God, it’s about seeing whether I’m talking to the same god that you are. What if you’re talking to a completely different god who knows me somehow? Er, what if I am, I’m sure you’re talking to THE God.

Andrea: Ok, numbers it is.

Bret: Okay, hold on, I need to light a candle or something. My wife just picked fresh basil, so maybe that will do. The whole room smells like pesto.

Okay, I got the number. I’ll write it out, then you write yours out when you get it, and when I see you send it through, I’ll just hit enter without altering the number... make sense?

Andrea: I’ve got a number. 2471

Bret: 34

My god is obviously less mathematically advanced than yours. Now I’m wondering what happens in 2471... end of the world?

Andrea: Does the number 319 mean anything to you? Is it part of your phone number or a street address?

Bret: I have a 317 area code on my cell, that’s pretty close.

Andrea: On or off the record, let me tell you a story:

I’ve been practicing hearing God, so when I go to a grocery store, restaurant, etc., I ask God to give me a word of knowledge (a fact) about someone next to me. At the last election, I was standing behind a fellow and I asked if his name was Robert. He says no, then I ask, “Patrick?” He says no, his name is Don. A few seconds pass and I ask him if he is from Ontario? He says yes. Then I ask him if he’s from Southern Ontario. He says yes. I’m thinking Lemington but before I can ask, he offers that he’s from Burlington. (I gave myself half points for getting the ‘ington’ right).

Then he asks if I know a Robert from Burlington, I tell him that I’m practicing hearing God. Then he looks at me like the conversation is no longer fun and I’m a kookoo, unfortunately he can’t get away from me because he’s next in line to vote. I smile politely. About a minute later, I ask him one more thing, “Were you driving a tractor around 7 or 8 years old.” He looks at me and says, “Yes, but everyone did and that doesn’t impress anyone.”

I reply, “I didn’t know that and it impresses me.”

Bret: Everyone drove a tractor at 7 or 8? That’s news to me, too.

Andrea: God speaks and says things that are too explicit to be explained any other way. The only time there is error, is on the part of the hearer, not the speaker.

How and when did God speak to you? What did you do with what he told you? And why are you an atheist if you spoke with God, doesn’t that prove to you that he exists?

Bret: I think the problem is, I’m talking to the wrong gods. Plus, the gods told me themselves they don’t really exist.

Andrea: I believe I’ve read on your site that you were born into a Catholic family, what was your experience that led you to believe that God didn’t exist?

Bret: Well, I was raised Catholic. That’s enough to make anyone an atheist. Catholics produce some of the best atheists, from George Carlin to Bill Maher. I think the only religion that has us beat on producing important atheists might be Judaism.

Andrea: But what’s your testimony?

Bret: I don’t have a testimony. I’m not so much a witness as I am a lawyer in all of this. My job is just to not piss off the judge.

Andrea: Of course you have a testimony, everyone has a testimony. Who cares about the judge if you don’t believe in him anyway?

Bret: Sometimes the best judges are the ones you can’t even tell are there.

If you were to experience a relationship with God, like I have, do you think it would make a difference for you?

Bret: I’m not sure what kind of difference religion could make in my life. I’m relatively happy, I handle the problems I do face with the help of more people than I probably deserve, and I have found answers to questions religion and the Bible couldn’t answer. If anything, I feel like worshiping a God would be a step backwards.

Andrea: Are you atheist or agnostic?

Bret: I’m definitely an atheist. I’m really, really atheist. I’m like a Shi’ite atheist.

Andrea: Okay, but what was your journey to atheism? What made you decide that God didn’t exist? What answers do you have that the Bible couldn’t answer?

Bret: I asked God if He existed, and He was quite clear, “No.” As for what information I have that the Bible lacks... for starters, I know who God’s parents are. That’s sort of a helpful tidbit.

Andrea: Enlighten me.

Bret: You want me to tell you who God’s parents are? Or would you rather know what I worship, who my God is, and what my religion is? I think the parentage of some insignificant desert shyster isn’t all that important, in the grand scheme of things.

Andrea: Alright, tell me how being in a relationship with God is a step backwards?

Bret: Well, it’s worshiping a liar. A well-meaning liar, but a liar nonetheless. I’m not saying He doesn’t need attention, I’m just saying there’s over a billion people giving it to him, and He won’t miss me.

Andrea: How is God a liar?

Bret: He’s either a liar or grossly mistaken. His mother assures me he doesn’t realize what he’s doing. But I think He knows, if only because I told him. Maybe he doesn’t believe me.

Andrea: If you have 4 children and one pulls away from you - you will always desire a relationship that will bring the child back to the family. Huh? You spoke with Mary too?

Bret: No no, Sophia, not Mary. Mary is Jesus’ mom, not God’s. Ha, can you imagine a human Jewish woman hanging out before the Earth was created, waiting to give birth to God?

Andrea: I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry for you.

Bret: The correct response is laughter. Don’t make me feel bad by making you cry. Unless you cry laughing. So, to get back on track, do you ever wonder where God came from?

Andrea: No, I’ve wondered and questioned a lot of things about God but I’ve never doubted that there was a time he didn’t exist. As I believe, he is outside of time and space, he is eternal, without beginning and without end.

Bret: So, in your view, God is outside of space and time, and nothing is outside of God?

Andrea: Right. When I asked you about having a relationship with God, you made a comment (a couple, actually) that equate what I asked with worshipping God.

I DO worship but because I’m in a relationship and as I’ve gotten to know God, I have felt that it’s my only response. Not because God demands it but because I HAVE to do it. He doesn’t demand anything, but he wants a relationship with us.

I didn’t always think like that. A portion of my worship testimony is posted on my site under the Worship Flags tab, but essentially I had a major problem with worship, in that, I rebelled at the thought of God demanding that I worship – it was egocentric and I didn’t want to do it just because it was a rule and I don’t like religious rules. As I said before, rules only changes the exterior of a problem, it doesn’t get at the heart issue.

What I didn’t understand before, but feel like I’m starting to now, is that God doesn’t expect us to worship a God we don’t know. He wants us to know him, thus it’s all about relationship and when you know him, the proper response is adoration, and through adoration, I WANT to worship him because he truly is worthy.

So...moving back to your comment, I have to ask why did you equate relationship with God to worship of God? I asked you if you had a relationship with God like I have, do you think it would make a difference in your views?

Bret: I’m not sure you can have a relationship with God without worship anymore than you could have a relationship with a person without love or affection. It’s not that a relationship with God would make a difference in my views, it’s that I would need a very different view in order to embark on some sort of relationship with something I see as incapable of returning the favor.

I prefer to use worship, because I have never seen someone in a “relationship with God” where they feel as equals, or even just as companions. There is always hierarchy, and the flow of adoration seems to always be going up.

Would you say that nothing is greater than God?

Andrea: Correct, nothing is greater than God because he can not be contained.

I disagree about the flow of adoration. It comes down as well. Jesus also called us friends of God in John 15. There are examples in the Bible where God changed his course of action because of a conversation he had with people. Moses being one, and Abraham being another. David had conversations with God as well.

This is one point I want to make about rules and relationship, but I’ll explain using an example of my son.

My son is easily frightened by movies/shows. I frighten easily too, and long ago, I decided that life was too short for me to be afraid. (I like adrenaline rushes – the kind you experience on a roller coaster or even better, sky diving but I don’t need a racing heart because I’ve been frightened by a movie.)

When he was younger, and without the ability to reason (like 2-4), I simply didn’t let him watch those things. As he got older, more mature, we could reason together. He wanted to watch a certain movie and I would tell him yes or no, depending on what I knew the fright factor to be. I explained why I had decided the way I had and he accepted my judgment based on his experience that I usually granted him his desires unless they conflicted with his complete enjoyment of life. He trusted me not to let him get wounded.

Now as he is even older (although I can still wrestle him to the ground), he sometimes decides that I am wrong and proceeds to watch a movie anyway – at his friends, not at home where I can see everything he does. I always know when he’s done that because I spend the next few days dealing with a child who is afraid of going downstairs by himself or his sleep is disturbed. I don’t get mad; I understand that he needs to try some things for himself to realize that what I’m saying is true. I want him to enjoy life, ALL of it. I wish I could spare him all trauma and turmoil but he needs to be able to make choices, some of those choices are going to hurt me, some are going to hurt him. I make guidelines and ‘rules’ but our [continued] relationship is not based on whether he follows the rules.

When he does the things that please me, he is rewarded. For example, if he eats 2 stalks of asparagus, he can have a brownie for dessert – that’s reward. But if he doesn’t, I’m not going to punish him and take away his dinner, and tell him he’ll never eat again. Either way though, I love him.

That’s the way I would describe a relationship with God. The writing on my blog is primarily directed at believers who don’t understand that it’s about relationship and not rules, so you are not alone.

In the Scripture Matthew 7:21, Jesus is speaking to so-called Christians. He says, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? I will say to them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers.”

In Luke 10, Jesus says to his disciples who are exuberant from performing miracles and other exciting things, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have give you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

That is all about relationship, not about doing and performing. We can do a lot in Jesus name (obeying the rules, performing works) but if he doesn’t know us (as in have a relationship with us) then we will not enter his presence. It is not through rules (works) that we are saved but through a personal relationship with Jesus. Many, most Christians do not know this.

Bret: Well, here’s my dilemma: there’s so many gods. Honestly, there are thousands, and hundreds of them claim to have created the universe. The only way I have found to know what I am doing is accurate is to ask questions and to seek the answers. I asked you some of them, and you confirmed my findings.

Nothing came before God. Nothing is greater than God. Ergo, I feel it is only logical to worship Nothing.

[To be continued]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Word: Emaelstrom

Emaelstrom: a turbulent torrent of messages in your inbox

Like/Don’t Like/Famous Person for World Religions

Like: Coolest name for a religion, ever.
Don’t like: Pretty much invented the idea of heaven and hell as practiced in Christianity.
Famous person: Freddie Mercury (lead singer of Queen)

The Baha’i Faith
Like: Teaches equality between men and women.
Don’t like: Worst name for a religion, ever.
Famous person: Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office)

Like: Easily the least violent religion, ever.
Don’t like: Every member is a vegetarian.
Famous person: Frank Black (lead singer of The Pixies)

Like: The beards.
Dislike: When a child is born, they must be named using the first letter on a page flipped to randomly in their holy book, and all boys get “Singh” as a middle or last name, while all girls get “Kaur.”
Famous Person: Manmohan Singh (Prime Minister of India)

Like: I know so little about it, and I can’t hate what I don’t know much about.
Dislike: They add you to a list in a Shinto temple if you’re born in Japan, whether you are Shinto or not.
Famous person: Yoko Ono (broke up the Beatles)

Like: Ganja
Dislike: Dreadlocks and heavy Jamaican accents.
Famous person: Bob Marley (shot the sheriff, but not the deputy)

Like: Aliens in a religion.
Dislike: Bully litigation.
Famous person: Katie Holmes (concubine)

Like: Jewish comedians and matzo ball soup.
Dislike: Israel and never shutting up about how bagels and pizza are better in New York.
Famous person: Turn on your TV. Chances are, you’ll see or hear one of them in a minute.

Like: Martial arts and the band Nirvana.
Dislike: People who pretend it’s a philosophy, not a religion.
Famous person: Tina Turner (survived a relationship with Ike Turner)

Like: It’s the oldest major religion, which is pretty damn interesting.
Dislike: The caste system.
Famous person: George Harrison (sitar enthusiast)

Like: Invention of modern chemistry.
Dislike: Honor killings and Fatwas.
Famous person: Kareem Abdul-Jabar (co-pilot)

Like: Christmas presents.
Dislike: Christians
Famous person: Adolf Hitler (failed artist)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top Ten: Things I Don’t Ever Want To Say (Again)

10. I can jump that.
9. Is my mascara clumping?
8. We identified the remains through dental records.
7. I’m just proud of you for trying.
6. Look, no hands!
5. Would you care to dance?
4. Hand me that chainsaw.
3. I didn’t think it would get stuck.
2. Duck? Why?
1. She’ll never find out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mythical Interview: Satan

BRET: Today, I’m talking with the dark prince of Hell, Satan.

SATAN: I’m sorry I can’t be there in person. I’m sort of limited in my movement. I can’t exactly leave, and if you came here, you couldn’t return. Luckily, we have computers with internet in Hell.

BRET: That’s convenient.

SATAN: Not really. We have dial-up AOL. But hey, limbo doesn’t even have electricity.

BRET: Always the optimist, huh?

SATAN: What choice do I have? I’m just making the best of a bad situation.

BRET: I’ve talked to God three times now, and I have to say, I have a lot of questions for you.

SATAN: Fire away, but let’s try to make this quick.

BRET: Why, do you have a meeting with some famous evil person, like Muammar Gaddafi or Mel Gibson?

SATAN: No, I’m just expecting a call from a Bank of America executive in a little bit, and I only have the one phone line. Like I said, I can’t really meet up with living people.

BRET: Right. Okay… so, I think the first thing that jumps out at me is that God has a several hundred page book, but you have basically nothing. Why is that?

SATAN: See, God feels it’s necessary to tell a bunch of people to write about how great He is. But honestly, have you read the Bible?

BRET: Yes.

SATAN: It’s not very flattering of God, is it?

BRET: No, not really. Is it accurate?

SATAN: Sometimes, but it tends to be accurate when it’s God doing horrible things and inaccurate when it’s talking about how much God loves you. I don’t really need to prove my point that God is a prick, He sort of does it for me in His book. I can just let the Bible speak for itself, and if you listen, it will tell you about the real God and the mask He wears.

BRET: What do you mean?

SATAN: You’ve read it. The Old Testament is the real God, the New Testament is little more than a PR campaign.

BRET: Interesting.

SATAN: I mean, come on. The New Testament is based on a bunch of fisherman’s tales. Of all the professions in the world, only one is more inclined to exaggeration and outright lies than fishermen, and that’s politicians.

BRET: Witty, but I don’t think you really answered my question of why there is no story from your point of view.

SATAN: Why don’t you write my story?

BRET: I don’t know. People who do that sort of thing get a lot of hassle. I’m not sure I want to write the Gospel of Satan.

SATAN: Come on, I’ll make a deal with you.

BRET: I always heard you were inclined to make deals, but this is kind of odd. What could you possibly have that I would want?

SATAN: You want Hell?

BRET: Right… and you have a bridge for sale, too.

SATAN: I’m serious. Hell is yours if you tell my story. I’m sick of Hell, anyway.

BRET: Not interested.

SATAN: I never much thought about this… but you’re right. I have to get my side out there. No one is ever telling the story from my point of view. I’ll tell you what… I’ll give you my soul if you tell my tale.

BRET: You’re kidding me. This is a joke.

SATAN: I’m not joking, I’m serious. What do I have to lose?

BRET: What do I have to gain? One slightly used soul that’s eternally damned?

SATAN: What if I just appealed to your kindness?

BRET: Well… I guess if you asked nicely, I might.

SATAN: Bret, would you please write my story?

BRET: I’ll think about it. How about we finish this interview and then we’ll hammer out the details through e-mail?

SATAN: Excellent.

BRET: I have to be honest… I’m picturing you tenting your fingers like Mr. Burns.

SATAN: I just might be.

BRET: One thing I always wondered was, why do you torture people in Hell?

SATAN: Most of the time, I don’t. I don’t have anything against these people, and most of them weren’t that bad, they just got shut out of heaven on a technicality. I really only mess with the pedophiles and murderers, and even then, I just do it to fight the boredom, both for me and for them.

BRET: Nothing passes the time like watching someone in the throes of agony, or being in woe yourself .

SATAN: Like reality TV is worse. I’ve seen Fear Factor, and you guys are usually worse than I am.

BRET: You get NBC?

SATAN: We only get NBC…

BRET: Brutal.

SATAN: It’s a tough existence.

BRET: How do you feel about the way you’re portrayed in the Bible?

SATAN: Honestly, it’s not that inaccurate until you get near the very end, when it clearly turns to slanderous speculation. But it has been my role to be hated since the beginning, even when I was in God’s good graces.

BRET: I’m not familiar with your time as an angel, prior to the famed fall.

SATAN: I was an observer, and the foremost judge. The only one I reported to was God, Himself. I was a decision maker. There are those who say only God had more power than me, but I don’t know about that. I was given more power than any other, this is true, but true power… when it gets right down to it, violence is power, and I am not a fighter. You might not think it of me, but I despise violence.

BRET: What about all the torturing and such down in Hell?

SATAN: Oh please… okay, look, just as one example, because there are more circles of Hell than Dante could shake a stick at, there is a region where the souls of violent warriors go. They fight and maul each other all day long. I don’t skewer them with a pike and roast them over a fire like some sort of image you might find in Medieval marginalia, I just leave them to it. I am in this for eternity. I don’t want to burden myself with the responsibility of torturing billions of souls. It’s easier to set up a passive system whereby they take care of themselves. So, those prone to fighting end up in this vast field, beating the crap out of each other from dawn until dusk, and then… wouldn’t you know it, these violent men who spent the day shedding each other’s blood… they dine together around campfires, recalling the day’s battle, as if the whole thing was some sort of vicious bonding experience.

BRET: Valhalla?

SATAN: Some of them call it that, sure. It’s strange, really. I watch the anguish on the faces of millions of them each day as they fall on the battlefield, fighting for nothing and everything, as if anything down here is worth bashing in someone’s brain over. And yet, every night, the corpses pick themselves off, they eat a hearty meal with their enemies, and sleep right alongside the men they will be battling first-thing the next morning. They seem to resign themselves to this fate, and take a certain comfort in knowing they still have some sort of task ahead of them. It keeps them from going mad.

BRET: You’re like a babysitter.

SATAN: No, it’s more like… I run an orphanage for lost souls.

BRET: What made God kick you out of Heaven?

SATAN: Questions… I always asked questions.

BRET: Questioning God?

SATAN: How can you not?

BRET: Well, they say God works in mysterious ways.

SATAN: Oh please. There’s nothing mysterious about being an asshole. Any 5-year-old can enjoy tearing the wings off a fly.

BRET: I’m not sure I catch your meaning.

SATAN: Suppose I was a doctor, and instead of treating you, I just stand there. You beg and plead, but I am unmoved as you cry out for help, until you die in agony. Your family wouldn’t look at me and say, “Well, you sure perform medicine in a mysterious way.”

BRET: So, you’re saying that because there is suffering, clearly God doesn’t care?

SATAN: Not by a long-shot. Suffering is necessary. A little suffering is like salt on your food, but a lot of suffering is just salt in the wound. And it’s not accidental; God just does it for his own sick amusement. What ultimately damned me was this, my judgment of God. I saw Him for what He was, not what He said He was. I was unimpressed, and that is the greatest sin of all in the eyes of God.

BRET: Is it better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven?

SATAN: It’s hard to say. I would definitely prefer to be living in naivety as an angel, I was never happier than I was then, but I’m not sure that is possible, even just on my end. It’s like a switch got flipped in me. I don’t even know if it turned something on or if it turned something off, but I can’t go back to what I was like before. And it’s not as though I have the choice, anyway. I am at peace with my fate, or as much at peace with it as I can be.

BRET: What did you judge God on that got you cast down to Hell?

SATAN: To be honest… I don’t remember. At that point, we were at odds over everything. Even the slightest thing could start a fight. I felt like He was always second-guessing me, just to assert Himself. He was unhappy with how soft I had become.

BRET: Soft?

SATAN: For a while there, God was just on a rampage, demanding death and genocide for so many things. It was ridiculous, really. I remember handing down the order to send a prophet to Sodom in order to teach them not to rape random travelers, but God decided to wipe the whole city out, except for one guy which He assured me was truly moral, and his two daughters, who ended up sleeping with their father after they got him drunk. This guy wasn’t even that great, he was just related to one of God’s buddies. But in the end… I feel guilty about the whole thing.

BRET: What do you mean?

SATAN: If I hadn’t been disobedient, I honestly believe God never would have questioned my judgments. Millions of people died because of decisions God made that were meant to display His wrath, not to humanity, but to me. I knew I was supposed to see myself in the faces of those who died at God’s hand. He was sending a message to me, that He would maintain a firm hand… and I just kept criticizing Him, only to result in more people dying. But honestly, the final blow was after being condemned to Hell.

BRET: I bet.

SATAN: No, I don’t think you understand. Before my actions, there was no Hell. If I had never acted in defiance, there would be no Hell. There are billions of people banished for eternity to a land where torment is inevitable… because of me. That is the true punishment, that I retain my empathy and carry the guilt of imposing great suffering to countless people who I am faced with constantly. While I know it is only by God’s will that it even exists, Hell will forever be my legacy. Or, it would have been, if God had not made such a blunder regarding the end of times.


SATAN: It’s no secret. God put the end of the world in my hands, for some reason. He’s decided that I must strike first, or the end of times will not come. It is the one thing I truly have over God, and I aim to never let it go. I can’t beat God, but I can refuse to play.

BRET: That’s pretty bitter.

SATAN: I’m a bitter guy. People ascribe so many horrible things to me, as if I gave man temptation or invented sin. I was there for the creation, I did take part, but I had nothing to do with any of that. You know, the greatest injustice ever done to me was perpetrated by a poet. He said I was the one who put thorns on the rose, when in reality, it was my idea to give some thorns roses.

BRET: Let me guess, he’s tied up with thorns in your closet, and his screams put you to sleep at night?

SATAN: No, he’s in the poet section of Hell, forced to edit other people’s work forever, while never having time to work on his own.


SATAN: Listen, this was fun and all, but I have to go. Duty calls. Keep in touch, okay?

BRET: You bet. Bye.

SATAN: See you soon… just kidding.
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