Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stump a Christian (or a Jew) #39

Why is there no historical or archaeological evidence for the Jewish enslavement in Egypt or the subsequent exodus?

Saturday Reflection #88

When it comes to censorship, I have a very simple philosophy. Writers and speakers have rights; readers and listeners do not.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Snippet: Atheist Conversion

I don’t think I can get people to stop believing in God. I may try, because I would like people to stop being religious, but I can’t beat myself up about it when I fail. I can’t change what’s in someone’s heart, only Atheist Jesus can do that.

Snippet: Conservative Media

There are actually Americans who get most of their information from conservative talk radio, Fox News, and the Bible. These people would have a better understanding of the world if they had been born blind and deaf.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Snippet: Exploration

We live in a very interesting time for exploration. Centuries ago, when Europe began exploring the world, they were faced with the dilemma of not being able to see the destination, though it turned out to be not all that far away (a journey of just over a month or so). Now, we train our telescopes to the sky and can see zillions of places we would like to visit… but none of them are within reach. Exploration used to be a leap of faith, but these days we are left tantalized by countless destinations that are out of reach.

The Several Adventures of Hugh, Part 6

[Continued from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5]

Hugh looked around the room. It was full of things that were utterly foreign to him. Sunlight streamed in through the window upon numerous glinting baubles: metallic eggs with inlaid gems of deep red and green, a half-sized bronze bust of an elderly man, a covered crystal bowl which Hugh opened to find craisens (though Hugh had no idea they were dried cranberries, nor even what cranberries were), and finally, Hugh’s eyes rested on two nails twisted around each other.

He picked them up to get a closer look. It seemed to be two ordinary nails, though they were very silver in color. It almost seemed like they could be pulled apart if they were twisted just the right way…

“Indeed, it is a puzzle, sir,” said Henry. Hugh was so startled, he almost dropped the nails. “I’m sorry if I surprised you, sir.”

“Oh, no problem, I just… that was quick. You were gone for so little.”

“I am valued for my efficiency, sir,” Henry said.

“Well, then if you like being efficient, you don’t have to call me sir.”

Henry nodded. “Very well.”

Hugh looked at the nails again. He fidgeted with them a bit, tried to tug on them, and Henry smiled.

“While I can’t say anyone as large as you has ever tried this puzzle, I assure you: you cannot bend them. They are made of Vulcan Steel. They were forged in a volcano, and you could tie both ends to the two strongest horses in the world and have them pull until their tendons snap, but they wouldn’t be able to get it to budge.”

Hugh looked it over a bit more. The dwarf and giant wandered over and tried to figure out what Hugh was doing. Finally, Hugh twisted it a few different ways, and eventually they slipped apart, much to Hugh’s surprise. “Am I the first person to figure it out?” asked Hugh?

“No sir… in fact, the master’s seven-year-old niece got it last week. Though I must say, you did it a wee bit faster.”

Hugh’s smile evaporated. “Boy, Henry… I said you to quit calling me sir...”

“My apologies,” said Henry. “To show there’s no hard feelings, I’ll have an ottoman brought to your room to be put at the foot of your bed, since we lack any mattresses in the residence that would accommodate a guest of your stature.”

Hugh looked at Henry, not sure how to feel. “Is there one that is a challenge?” asked Hugh.

“Sure,” said Henry. “Try putting them back together. Most people don’t bother to do that. They just leave it for me to do.” Henry turned and began to walk off. “There will be someone sent for you shortly, so don’t meander too far.”

Hugh looked at the two bent nails. Each was bent into a round circle, with the head and tip 90 degrees from each other, sticking out straight, giving it the profile of a circle head with antlers poking out of the middle of its head.

Hugh took one of them and put the point on his thumb and the head on his index finger, then he tried to push them together as hard as he could. The pain in his finger tips was excruciating, but when he looked at it again after his strenuous effort, the nail tip and head were next to each other, forming a teardrop shape.

Hugh panicked and set it back on dresser next to the other one. He hurried out of the room. Next to his was the giants’. Her room was adorned with lace doilies in a pastel palate.

“Can you believe this shit?” asked the giant.

“Maybe you can get another room,” asked Hugh.

“I better. There’s tons of other rooms down this hallway, but all the doors are locked. I didn’t hear anyone inside, so I figure –”

“Ladies and gentleman, I am here to escort you to dinner.” They turned to see a man in a rose-red, velvet tunic over a frilly white shirt. “But first, we’ll need to have you fitted for some clothes which will be appropriate. If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to the tailor.”

Rather than leaving the house, they went upstairs to a room with large mirrors and a raised circular step in the middle. An older man with glasses and a handlebar mustache smiled as they walked in. “Well, I have my work cut out for me, don’t I?”

“Three custom jobs, by the look of it,” said the escort.

“What are the odds,” the tailor said, looking back and forth at the giant and Hugh, “That on the same day, I would make both the largest set of men’s and the largest women’s clothing of my career?”

“I guess I’m small potatoes, then,” said the dwarf.

“Oh, you’re just an added challenge,” said the tailor. “How long do I have?”

“Two hours,” said the escort.

“Better fetch me…” the tailor paused and made clicking sounds with his mouth, “No less than five seamstresses. If you can find six, I’ll take them.”

“Right away,” the escort said before ducking out the door.

The tailor looked at the three of them and smirked. “So, who’s the first victim?”

The dwarf stepped forward.

“Alright, come here, stand on this.” The tailor took a measuring tape from around his neck and began taking measurements. The dwarf seemed uneasy at times, especially when the tailor came suspiciously close to his junk.

“If it makes you feel any better,” the tailor said, “Up to this moment, you’re the biggest set of clothes I will have made in months.”

The tailor wrote a few things down and waived the dwarf to a set of chairs. The dwarf stepped down and went to take a seat along the wall.

The tailor looked at Hugh. “Let’s smash that record, shall we?”

Hugh climbed the step and stood up straight. His head almost touched the ceiling.

“No wonder you slouch so much,” said the tailor. “I bet you hit your head on a lot of door frames.”

“I’ve been tall for a long time,” said Hugh. “You learn to deal with it.”

“All except the stares, I bet,” the tailor said, working briskly and jotting down numbers in chalk on a scrap of fabric.

“Yeah,” said Hugh.

“Not to mention the eye,” the tailor said.

Hugh sighed.

“Oh, I’m sorry there, buddy,” the tailor said, moving in front of Hugh and looking up at him. “I know a lot of people will give you guff for being different, but you don’t have to worry about that in this house.”

“What is the deal with this place?” asked Hugh. “He’s in the flower business or something?”

The tailor laughed. “Oh sure, he’s just a gardener… and a collector of rare animals, and the owner of two chariot racing teams, and the richest man in the entire city.”

“And he got it… from roses?”

“More or less,” said the tailor. “He was a young farmer with a plot of land that would not yield grain or fruit, only rose bushes seemed to grow. One year, he had so many roses that he couldn’t sell, he collected the nearly rotting petals and lined the streets of the city late one night before a fertility festival. People loved it so much that the next year, they paid him to do it.”

The tailor motioned for the giant, and Hugh stepped down as the giant took his spot. “Now, let’s see what the new female record will stand at.” After he was almost done, he asked, “Are the two of you siblings or something?”

“Twins,” the giant and dwarf said together.

“Well, that explains it. Other than your hips and chest, you guys are pretty much identical.” He made a few more measurements. “Alright, you’re done, my dear.”

The tailor opened a door and began rummaging around.

“I have some larger sized clothing for the twins, we’ll just have to rip the stitching on the hems and add a little fringe to supplement the length. As for the cyclops…”


“My name’s Merk. So, as for Hugh, we’re starting from raw materials here.” He pulled out two large rolls of cloth. “I hope you all like red. It’s the house color.”

Merk began tracing the outline of a vest on a large piece of velour that was orangish-red, one might say salmon colored. The first seamstress came in, took a wide eyed glance at the three of them sitting there, and joined the tailor in measuring, cutting, and eventually sewing. Four more seamstresses came in. When the last one had been given instructions, Merk walked over to the three waiting clients.

“Okay, next up is a haircut. I’m also a barber, so if you’ll come with me, I’ll get you all cleaned up.”

The tailor/barber led them through the house, out of the back of the residence, to a large fountain in the yard with a break in the trees. “Go ahead and wet your hair, or even take a quick dip if you’re so inclined,” said Merk.

Merk went back inside as the three of them wet their heads in the fountain. The dwarf stripped down completely naked and plunged in. Merk returned with a chair, which he set up in the sunniest spot. Hugh sat down first.

“How do you like it cut?”

“Whatever you recommend.”

“I won’t let you down.” Merk ran his hands through Hugh’s hair, walking around behind him. After a few snips, Merk asked, “So, what’s your story, Hugh?”

“My story?”

“Yeah, your story. Everyone has a story they want to tell.”

“Well…” Hugh began, “My mom was a water nymph, my father was a cyclops, though I never met him. When I got old enough, I left home and found a small, unoccupied island. A few decades later, I found the twins abandoned on a beach. A couple decades after that, an old man arrived, died, and we’ve been trying to get him a sea burial since.”

Merk had not hesitated to this point, but he stopped cutting and started laughing after Hugh was finished. “Oh my… I have to say, I wish I had more folks like you. I’ve never heard a story like that, from the cradle to my chair with few, yet odd, details.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“No need to apologize, I’m thoroughly entertained. So how old are you?”

“I’m 50.”

“You look good for your age, a nice full hairline.”

“Well, I’m just a scamp as far as cyclopes go. If I’m lucky, I might live a millennium or more, but realistically I’ll probably live another 700 years or so, at least.”

“I can’t even imagine living that long.”

“To be honest, neither can I,” said Hugh. “Things just seem to keep changing faster and faster around me. I don’t know how I’m ever going to keep up. You can kind of see why most of my kind get to a point where they just retire to a cave somewhere, away from everyone else.”

“Oh, I suppose change can be hard,” said Merk. “I mean, sure…people do things these days that would have been unthinkable when I was growing up… but some of those changes are for the better.”

“Very true,” said Hugh. “But on my island, I created my own world, and there is no need for change, because it’s already perfect.”

“It’s perfect on your island?”

“I would say so,” said Hugh.

“Was it perfect before or after the twins arrived?”

Hugh thought for a few seconds. “You know what? I spent so much time worrying about being imposed upon, I never stopped to consider whether I might be missing out on something even better. The twins have made life better, or at least more interesting. They’re better company than my cattle, and when they relied on me to survive, they sort of gave me a purpose. Even now, when they could do just fine on their own, I feel good knowing they stick around, even though they don’t have to.”

Merk continued chatting with Hugh until his hair was finished, then the giant and dwarf had their turn in the chair. As he was brushing hair off the last of them, a seamstress came out and told them their clothes were finished.

They went inside and found their clothes in their rooms. The giant was given a red satin dress, the dwarf a red brocade doublet, and Hugh a white shirt and red velvet vest. When they left their rooms, Hugh and the giant both stifled a laugh at the giant’s consternation.

“I can’t believe I have to wear a dress,” she said.

“You look glorious, my dear,” a voice down the hall said. Walker approached them with a large entourage in tow. “I hope you are ready to meet the city’s rich and powerful.”

To be continued…

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stump a Christian #38

Is there any kind of evidence that could exist that would prove the God of the Bible is fictional?

Wednesday Word: Molextation

Molextation: when someone sexts you inappropriately; see also “textual harassment”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stump a Christian #37

Day four of creation is a confusing one, so I am including the text for it below (Genesis 14-19) in order to make it easier to reference the multitude of questions I have:
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
First of all… I already asked, but what is a firmament? Why does it not exist, even though God supposedly created it before this, on day three?

Next… you’re telling me that the sun, moon and stars are there so that people can… mark time? God couldn’t have handed Adam a calendar? It was easier to create trillions of galaxies, each with trillions of stars, spread out over vast, mind-boggling distances? Really?

I’ll ignore that it is apparent that the sun is not seen as being just another star, but is something special (which it really isn’t… it’s one countless others like it). However, I can’t get over that the moon is called a “great light,” because the moon gives off no light at all. The moon merely reflects light from the sun, being itself completely dark. Why, then, is the moon called “a great light” when it’s just a “great reflector?”

Why does the sun and moon “rule over the day and over the night?” I thought only alone God rules in heaven, and here we have two big circles in the sky that supposedly rule over their portion of the 24 hour cycle. And how does a new moon rule over the night when it’s completely black?

Finally… how on Earth (literally) did we have three days of creation prior to day four… without the presence of a sun? Supposedly this is the day God divides the light from the darkness… even though He already did that on day one, when He said, “Let there be light.” How can you honestly take a fairy tale seriously if the writers of it can’t even stay consistent in the very first chapter?

Top Ten: Reasons I Hate the Military

10. Institutional religious indoctrination
9. That mindless “hooah/hooyah” bullshit they yell
8. Open bigotry, from sexism to racism to homophobia to xenophobia
7. Adherence to the belief that obedience is a good thing
6. Brutal punishment of whistleblowers
5. Bleeding the country dry financially
4. Haven’t been deployed in a justifiable war since World War II
3. Haven’t actually defended America’s freedom since the War of 1812
2. Epidemic of rape cover-ups
1. Deployed US troops kill more civilians than militants

Snippet: Corporate Privilege

If Middle Easterners poisoned our food and water, we would call them terrorists. When American companies do it, we call them capitalists.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Rule: Voting Age Restriction

People over 72 should not be allowed to vote. People that old don’t have any vested interest in the future, they harbor antiquated (see also: bigoted) notions of how the world works, and they think nothing of sending the young off to die in wars or saddling younger generations with trillions in debt (a burden they don’t have to worry about).

This was the compromise. I would start out suggesting old people should all just be put to death.

Snippet: Fundamentalists

“Normal” religious people don’t want you to focus on fundamentalists because they treat women like second-class citizens, persecute gay people, and see the non-religious as inferior. However, the problem isn’t religious fundamentalists… the problem is that these are religion’s fundamentals. Fundamentalists are just religious people who don’t actively ignore the wretched aspects of faith.

Stump a Christian #36

The Yankees and Boston Red Sox are about to play a baseball game. If an Episcopalian prays for the Yankees and a Catholic prays for the Red Sox, who will win?

Special thanks to Tris at My Godless Life for the inspiration for this one.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Two Dudes: Fetishes

The Two Paths That Lie Ahead For Republicans

If political history has taught us anything, it’s that politics is predictable over time. Sure, it seems exciting and new, but that’s only because the inevitable is punctuated by minor surprises and upsets.

Republicans today find themselves at a fork in the road that many political movements have reached. They face what I like to think of as the Nazi/Democrat juncture.

I shouldn’t have to explain much about the Nazis, but I want to point out a few things. The Nazi Party was a fully legitimate political movement, supported by normal, average, hard-working German people who voted their leaders into power in free and open elections. Well… sort of.

Nazis took advantage of every political ploy and loophole they could, and Adolf Hitler in particular is noted for having not won a very significant portion of the popular electorate (he only garnered 33% in 1933, after having been appointed as Chancellor).

Democrats in the US, on the other hand, have a very different history. Looking only at the post-Civil War political landscape, Democrats entering the 20th century were more like Republicans today in their overall outlook and message. If anything, saying such is very insulting to Republicans now, because Democrats were responsible for much worse than the Republican Party in the 21st century.

It was Democrats who formed the KKK (worse than the Tea Party). It was Democrats who lynched black people in the South (as opposed to racists now, who are lynched for saying “nigger”). It was Democrats who labeled anyone they didn’t like a “communist” (bringing them in for Senate hearings, not just calling them out on Fox News). It was Democrats who opposed racial equality (here we see some similarities… since both advocated for voter suppression).

Then something began to change, gradually at first, until 1968 when the whole political party underwent a transformation spurred by the exodus of conservative, southern racists from the party. It became initially apparent with the presidency of FDR and his economic reforms, and it came to a head with the presidencies of JFK and LBJ (what a great era to be alive… when presidents were just three little letters).

Republicans today find themselves in a situation where they have two paths. They can continue down the path they’re on, getting more extreme, angrier, and more fearful (and it will be a long, dismal path). Or, they can alienate the ignorant among them and do what needs to be done, ensuring the success of the party and nation as a whole.

Taking the Nazi route isn’t so much about atrocities. I don’t think Republicans will exterminate millions of people, but that isn’t the lesson the Nazis really teach a student of politics. The Nazis let their most extreme elements define them as a party, and in the process they put their country in the hands of people who ruined it in the name of principles that, frankly, aren’t all that noble.

The Nazi party doesn’t exist anymore, not in any real power-wielding capacity, anyway. That could be the route Republicans take. If Republicans continue to blindly believe their own bullshit, instead of doing what needs to be done, there’s won’t be a Republican Party by the time my [yet-to-be-conceived] kids are able to vote.

I don’t think this will happen, however. It is far more likely that the Republican Party will survive, it just won’t be recognizable as the Republican Party of today. Just as it might be hard for someone my age, born in 1983, to imagine Democrats standing in the way of black people trying to attend a school, it will probably be difficult to imagine Republicans in 2060 having been the party that discussed electrified border fences in 2012.

It’s not too hard to see the path Republicans will take, either. For years, I have questioned why it is that Republicans oppose immigration. It’s quite simple: Republicans oppose immigration to appeal to racists. It has nothing to do with the ideology of immigrants (or their Republican work ethic), for if it did, it would be Democrats opposing immigration.

Immigrants are more likely to be uneducated, socially conservative, religious, and basically not liberal. America may not be a bastion of liberalism, but the countries where most people immigrate (or escape) from are even more socially backward than the US (if you can believe that). Despite the best efforts of Democrats, it will be hard (if not impossible) to convince most immigrants that gay people should be allowed to marry, or that religion doesn’t have a place in the public discussion, or that abortion should remain legal.

Even minorities with a generational presence in America tend to fit the Republican social mold better than the average American of European descent. Black people in America are more likely to be religious and are more likely to oppose gay marriage and abortion, and Latinos are no different. And once they realize that Islam is basically Republicanism, the Religion… it might be all over for America’s freedom.

If Republicans begin to publicly rebuke its racists, the party will change in ways I can’t even predict, and perhaps don’t want to imagine. If I had to guess, I imagine the Republican platform on immigration will change dramatically, but I doubt most of its socially regressive views will be altered (as I think this is what will draw in new minority voters).

What makes this particularly difficult to predict is that one has to consider Democrats, because in the US we have only two parties. Take, for example, the 1960s. Nixon actively and openly courted the racist vote, going after disenfranchised former-Democrats and succeeding in bringing these “state’s rights” advocates into the party. Nixon all but single-handedly brought racists into the Republican fold (with an assist by the Democrats, who jilted them).

This was explained away with the myth that Reagan forged an alliance with the Religious Right. This was actually bullshit terminology invented to explain the influx of Southern racists into the Republican party, explaining the whole thing away euphemistically as “the rise of the Religious Right,” when we all know it was simply official that the Dixiecrats had gone completely Republican.

To know who Republicans will attract in the future, one must also know who the Democrats will ostracize. I wish in my heart of hearts that it might be the radical politically correct contingent, and I can almost wrap my head around how it could happen. After all, telling people how they can speak is pretty socially conservative, akin to telling people how they can dress, who they can love, and what they can do with their body. However, I just wish liberals would get rid of this useless group of whiners, and I find it very foolish to predict something because you wish it would happen.

What I think is more likely, and maybe a lot of people will disagree with me, is that socialists will leave the Democratic Party. Democrats have established themselves as not only a party that supports capitalism, but as one that supports the worst kinds of capitalism. I don’t think the Dems have thrown a bone to the economic left in my lifetime. It’s pretty much been Bill Clinton cutting welfare and Obama sucking Wall Street’s dick.

Any economically left-leaning individual with two brain cells to rub together is bound to say to themselves from time to time, “I don’t think Democrats represent me at all.” What I can see happening is that the Occupy Movement will be snubbed by the Democrats, and that they will take their youth and energy to whoever will listen to them. While it’s almost inconceivable, the only place for them to turn to is… the Republican Party.

And if Republicans lose in 2012, they might just be desperate enough to invite them in.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Snippet: White Minority

Why are Republicans worried that white people will become a minority? Is it because they know minorities don’t vote Republican, or because Republicans believe one of the government’s primary roles is to mistreat minorities?

Snippet: Steady Ground

We all need something in life to stand on, something to be our foundation, that always holds firm. For an atheist like me, it’s always been the floor.

Snippet: Aging Artists

Many artists would be better off if they bowed out at some point. Whether they die or hide from the public eye, they must disappear before they get to an age when they feel the need to “fix” (i.e. ruin) the great work they did in their youth, or as I like to call it: the Lucas/Spielberg Effect.

Snippet: How to Get Religion to Respect Atheism

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what it is that atheism lacks that religion cannot seem to deal with. After much deliberation, I have decided that atheists will never be taken seriously by the religious until we have old atheists wearing funny hats speaking for us.

Snippet: End of the World

If humanity found out that the world was about to end, most people would basically go nuts. This pretty much explains religious people.

Snippet: Manscaping

I don’t keep a strict regimen of maintenance, but I like to keep the old bush trimmed. The problem with shaving (at least, for a guy like me…) is that it’s hard to know where to stop. I end up trying to do a sort of reverse-bikini, where the only places I shave are those which would be covered by a speedo, although this still leaves the matter of the taint.

There’s quite a lot of debate on the subject among philosophers, but I’m in the “Stop at the back of the balls” camp. If you start shaving the taint, it’s only a matter of time before you’re shaving your asshole, and then you have to shave the whole ass, cheeks and all, but then where do you stop? Do you just keep going all the way up your back? What, now you have hair on the front but a shaved back? When shaving the ass, you end up shaving around to the thigh, and you end up doing the whole leg. Suddenly, your arms (which were never a problem before) look bushy, and it’s got to go.

Now you look a lot younger, but a few days later every inch of your body is covered in stubble, and don’t even get me started on the itching and ingrown hairs…

Snippet: Condescending

I’ve seen many people be labeled as “condescending,” and I have even been called such myself, but I think feeling “condescended to” is one of those emotions I don’t experience, like feeling “offended” or “ashamed.” I guess I’m just not weak and self-conscious about it… like some people…

Saturday Reflection #87

I genuinely feel bad for Christians sometimes. For example, they believe that they are so horrible, that their God had to kill himself. It’s kind of sad.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How Do You Judge a Religion?

If I think about it for a while, I can imagine a complex portrait of a religion. I can see it as a changing ideology defined by time and place, spanning a varyingly broad and evolving range of regional sects that are influenced by technology, economics, literature, politics, interaction with other religions or cultures, and they can even be altered by seemingly insignificant matters like climate, natural disasters, and celestial events.

But if someone says, “Christianity,” the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t so nuanced. Unfortunately, neither is it so tangible.

Here, terms like “fundamentalism” come up. Typically, a “fundamentalist” is someone who is more religious than you. For the atheist, then, there is quite a bit of leeway here. Many atheists even engage in the practice of comforting themselves with the knowledge that others who disbelieve as they do are more extreme. Almost every atheist wants you to know they aren’t like those “other” atheists: the mean, rude, horrible, nasty, vile, angry, militant, “fundamentalist” atheists.

One problem that seems to be unique to atheists is that they are familiar with several religions. Most Christians don’t know very much about other religions. Perhaps they have a passing understanding of Judaism, maybe they know Jews can’t eat pork, but they don’t know about how they can’t eat shellfish, or that some of the more observant Jews go all Amish and don’t use electricity on Saturday. Islam probably stirs some unsavory images in Christians, often coupled with confusing PR attempts to rebrand Islam as a vague “religion of peace.”

While I know the most about Christianity than of any other faith, I am always learning more about other religions, even those which have few or no living followers. The snapshot of how I see a religion, then, could potentially be informed by a broad range of factors. However, I’ve come to largely see religions in one way.

I don’t focus on the shortcomings of clergy, or the crimes of the organization, nor even the unjust laws imposed in the name of the faith.

I don’t put much stock in the accomplishments of adherents, the success of cultures who adopt the ideology, or the acts of charity carried out by believers.

I don’t rely upon followers or their actions, because judging a religion by its followers is like judging a book by who buys it.

No, the first and most significant thing that comes to my mind when I think about a religion is its mythology. In many ways, this is the most damning perspective of all.

If you let followers define a religion, you are bound to be inaccurate in your assessment. For one thing, you must choose which followers and at which time are you analyzing them. If you restrict your view of a religion to followers, you will undoubtedly end up with a myopic picture of that religion. There’s really very little point in it.

However, if you realize that nearly all religions now have “sacred texts” of some kind, and that you have access to them… you can skip the variable products of faith and go right for the source.

It’s surprisingly insightful to judge a religion by its mythology. One can almost predict the idiosyncratic religious views of some followers before you even know they exist.

After reading the Old Testament and finding no such belief in Roman Catholic ideology, I came to one of the same conclusions that Calvin did centuries before, when I was merely a young child: namely, that one’s success in this life is largely a product of God’s graces. Such an idea is absolute nonsense, both realistically and when taken in the context of Biblical ideology as a whole, and yet in reading the same texts as those before me, I was able to see what they saw.

If you want a truly accurate picture of a religion, the only color palate you should use is mythology. It is the “why” in religion. Mythology is the root cause of faith, and it must be understood if you ever want to really know about a religion, and it will always reveal how a religion came to be so wrong. All the answers are laid out, plain as day, in the stories that religious people believe to be true and worthy of emulating.

It’s not a pretty picture, either. “Fundamentalism” comes to mind. As I mentioned above, I think most religious people actually use the term in relation to themselves when compared to others (a religious person is rarely going to define their views as “fundamentalist”). However, I imagine most people would think of “fundamentalism” in terms of… well… reading “too literally.”

It is some strange rhetorical gymnastics on the part of the religious person. Nearly every religious group can point to another and tell themselves, “They’re taking it too far.” Each is sitting on a sort of imperfect spectrum, some more extreme than others, and each is able to look in the direction of the more “fundamentalist” sects with a sense that they are taking things “too literally.” Meanwhile, in the other direction are those who clearly aren’t taking certain parts literally enough.

Religions, then, are more of less just very serious book reading groups that interpret varying degrees of metaphor. They all work from the same fables, tales which have been demonstrated to be factually inaccurate by anyone with a basic understanding of them and no deep desire to want them to be true. They all read the same atrocities, the same acts of charity, and each religion then goes out and does horrible or kind things to varying degrees. All this because of some stories.

It’s never a flattering view, but it is only through myth that you can ever really know a religion.

Snippet: Digging to China

I used to play in the sandbox, and my mom would say I was “digging to China.” Back then, I really thought that if I kept going deeper, I would eventually reach fancy plates.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stump a Christian #35

Why would God flood the world, killing all people except Noah and his family… if the end result was a world full of people who still did wicked things? For that matter, why does the all-knowing God change tactics when dealing with us (from smiting to forgiveness) between the Old and New Testament?

The Several Adventures of Hugh, Part 5

[Continued from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4]

Everyone was quiet as they headed toward the road to Polity. They reached it before too long and came to a fork leading to two bridges. A sign at the split read:

A test to weed the dumb from wise
One is honest, one always lies
You get one question to surmise
Which path won’t end in your demise

They stand reading the sign a few times, blinking.

“You know…” began the dwarf. “You’d think he might have mentioned this bit.”

“I don’t get it,” said Hugh.

“Look,” pointed the giant. “Those two guys are each standing in front of a path. One of the paths leads to us to the city, and apparently the other will kill us…”

“So… how do we know which way to go?” asked Hugh.

“Yeah… exactly,” said the dwarf.

“Okay, let’s think,” the giant said. She shifted her weight and began rubbing her chin, looking between the two bridges.

“I got it,” said the dwarf. “We ask them something obvious, like… is the sky blue?”

“The sky isn’t blue during sunrise and sunset,” said Hugh.

The dwarf scoffed. “Okay, then we can ask if he’s a woman.”

“What if they’re a transsexual?” asked Hugh.

“Wait,” said the giant, “It doesn’t matter, because even if we ask a really obvious question, like… are you standing on a bridge or is it daytime right now… even if we know that they lie or tell the truth, we don’t know if the liar is guarding the bridge to the city or… our demise.”

“How do you suppose they’ll kill us?” asked the dwarf.

“I’m not interested in finding out,” said Hugh. “I know what to ask.” He walked up to the nearest one. They heard mumbling in the distance. Hugh waved them over. “It’s the other one, come on.”

As they crossed the other bridge, the giant nudged Hugh. “What did you ask?”

Hugh smiled. “I asked, ‘Which path would the other one tell me they were standing in front of?’”

The dwarf furrowed his brow. “How does that work?”

“Simple,” said Hugh. “You see, they will always answer with the path they are guarding.”

“They the other one, or they the one you’re asking?” asked the dwarf.

“The answer will be for the one you’re asking.”

“Seriously?” asked the dwarf.

“Yep,” Hugh said.

“I don’t get it,” said the dwarf.

“Think about it,” said Hugh. “Think about every possibility.”

“But… there’s so many!”

“There’s only four!” Hugh said, shaking his head.

“He never had a mind for math,” said the giant.

“Probably all of the brain damage you’ve done smacking me over the years,” said the dwarf. The giant pulled back like she was going to slap him, and when he flinched, she lightly kicked him in the backside.

“You’re too easy to fool, brother.”

The first person they saw as they entered the city was a town crier, who was nursing a flagon of beer.

“Oy,” said the town crier, shoving himself straight up from the tree he was leaning on. “What have we here?”

“We’re looking for a place to hold a funeral,” said the giant.

The crier looked Hugh up and down, and eventually addressed the dwarf. “What’s your business here?”

“Oh, uh…” the dwarf stuttered, still trying to figure out the riddle. “Well, like my sister said, we’re looking to get rid of this dead body.”


“What he means,” the giant said, stepping between the dwarf and the crier, “Is that we need to arrange for a sea burial of some kind.”

“Oh, we can’t do that for you here,” said the crier. “Especially not tonight, or tomorrow, for that matter. Tomorrow is election day, and all religious temples and businesses will be closed so that we can cast our votes for our new chancellor.”

“Alright, well…” the giant began. “If we wait until after the election, will we be able to make arrangements?”

“I’m afraid only very important people get sea burials anymore,” the crier said. “You would either have to be very powerful or on a waiting list for years.”

The giant groaned.

“But you can get rid of this body for us some other way, right?” asked the dwarf. “Like burning it or… feeding it to dogs or something?”

The crier winced. “Right… well, there are many fine inns and taverns where you might purchase a room for the two of you…” The crier glanced quite obviously at Hugh. “I don’t know about… that… thing.”

“Come on,” Hugh said, “I can hear you.”

The crier’s eyebrows rose. “Oh, it speaks…”

“Hey, don’t be rude to him,” the giant said. “He’s the one who solved your little riddle to get here.”

“Ah, yes,” the crier said, nodding. “That little ploy stops half of the fools from reaching the city gates.”

“What about the other half?” asked Hugh.

“Drinking, gambling, women… something always gets them.”

“You have gambling?” asked the dwarf.

Hugh and the giant looked at each other.

“Yes, my boy,” the crier said. “We have some of the best gambling in the world: four race tracks, two gladiatorial arenas, and of course, three world-class casinos filled wall-to-wall with tables for every type of gaming known to man.”

“You mentioned an election,” Hugh said.

“I can’t tell you anything today,” the crier said. “It’s the law. Can’t say I’d want to, either. I thought I was going to go hoarse after shouting non-stop for weeks now. But, it’s the law that no one can talk politics today, as a sort of break for everyone. The three candidates are probably sharing a beer together now in some symbolic show of unity, even though all three of them hate each other.”

“Who hates me?” Someone walked up to them, smiling. ““You better not be doing what I think you’re doing.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” said the crier.

“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Walker, and I am but a humble shrub farmer.”

“When have you ever been humble?” the crier asks, walking up to him and giving him a huge bear hug.

“Are my opponents importing voters from distant lands, now?” asked Walker, still beaming from ear to ear.

“Naw,” the crier said. “These folks came here for a burial.” He swept his hand toward the wheelbarrow.

“Oh my,” said Walker. He put his hand on the giant’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry for your loss. If there’s anything I can do for you in this time of need… I’m sure we could still register you to vote.” Walker winked at the dwarf.

The crier shakes his head. “I didn’t hear that.”

“Hear what?” Walker asked over his shoulder. He turned back to the giant and the dwarf. “We can get the two of you registered in the morning. I promise you, if I am elected, I will do everything in my power to provide the proper burial for your… father, grandfather?”

“He’s just a friend,” the dwarf said.

“A very lucky man, with very dedicated friends,” Walker said. He looked at them, settling his gaze on Hugh. “The kind of friends I would like to have, actually. I imagine your dedication is matched only by your sheer size. Where are you staying while you’re in town?”

“We don’t have a place,” said the giant.

“Just my luck,” Walker said. “I simply insist that you stay with me. We can store your friend’s body in my family’s mausoleum. It’s right under my estate.”

The giant and the dwarf looked at each other, then back at Hugh, who shrugged.

They followed Walker through the city, following cobble stone roads through narrow alleys. Stone buildings towered three or four stories over them at times. They came to a large fountain with stone mermaid statues partially submerged in the water.

Past the fountain was a large building with an enormous copper dome that had turned mint green. Hugh looked in the other direction, across a grass plaza, and saw a tall marble obelisk, with swirling patterns of black and gray.

Walker waved to those who stared at them. Soon, they were back into the claustrophobic streets, passing homes and store fronts. The smell of food being cooked mingled with the stench of human waste in the gutters. They moved their backs to the wall as a mule drawn cart passed them.

Before long, they came to an archway covered in roses with a metal gate. Walker stood in front of it for a moment, and a man sitting on the other side got up, threw a latch, and opened the door for them. He bowed his head as they passed, and closed the gate once they were through, locking it.

They walked down a path through a garden, flanked on either side by several small ponds full of fish. As they approached the building, an enormous animal waddled from behind a hedge and sat down next to the path.

“Who’s a good boy?” Walker said in a sing-song voice. He put his hands on either side of its huge face. “This is a tibear, supposedly half tiger and half bear. However, my vet assures me they’re actually a very large sloth.”

The animal looked like a white bear with black stripes. Hugh noticed huge, curved claws. It’s small eyes seemed lost in all it’s fur.

“I’m a man who likes exotic things,” said Walker, “And I have a talent for getting what I like.”

They continued up the steps toward the large home. The entire façade was made of white marble, with the exception of a floor mural of a single rose in the center. A drop of blood drips from one of the thorns. They walked up to the front door, where another doorman opened it for them. Inside was a man in a white hooded robe. He lifted his head as they entered and said, “It is good to see you, sir.”

“Hankster, my boy,” Walker shouted. “Help these three to rooms. I’ll have someone send for them around dinner, see to it that they’re comfortable until then.”

“This way,” he said, walking down a corridor with his arm raised high in the air.

“I leave you in very capable hands, my friends,” Walker said, heading to another part of the house.

“So… your name is Hankster?” asked the dwarf.

“Only the master calls me Hankster. My given name is Henry. Feel free to call me whatever you wish,” Henry said.

“Could I call you Scum Maggot?” asked the dwarf.

“If sir wishes it,” said Henry… or Scum Maggot.

The giant popped her brother in the jaw. “Don’t talk to people like that, you know better.”

Hugh smirked.

Henry opened three doors for them, and inquired as to what was in the wheelbarrow. Upon hearing of Walker’s promise to store the body, Henry lifted the wrapped corpse onto his broad shoulders and carried it down to the catacombs while the three of them went to check out their rooms.

To be continued…

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fox News Headlines, If Romney Was A Democrat

“Is Romney Planning to Baptize Every Dead American into the Mormon Church?”

“Is a One Term Gov. of Taxachusetts Ready to Be President?”

“Does Romney Want to Institute a Polygamous Marriage Mandate?”

“Will Romney Outlaw Coffee, Cigarettes, and Alcohol?”

“Romney Speak French, But Can He Speak American?”

“Would Romney Waste Billions on a Space Probe to Kolob?”

“Can Harvard Elitist Romney Connect With Real Americans?”

“Is Romney Plotting a National Tithe of 10% to the Mormon Church?”

“Will Romney Restrict Healthcare to Millionaires and Billionaires?”

“Romney Supposedly Born in Detroit in 1947; Was It Really Part of the US?”

“How Many Extra Wives is Romney Hiding?”

Top Ten: Songs for the End of the World

[Unlike most lists, this is numbered starting with 1 and ending with 10 to indicate the order in which the songs are to be played]

1. Europe – Final Countdown
2. REM – It’s the End of the World
3. Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter
4. Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun
5. Metallica – Enter Sandman
6. Prince – 1999
7. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Man Rising
8. Barry McGuire – Eve of Destruction
9. The Doors – The End
10. Green Day – Time of You Life

Monday, June 18, 2012

Snippet: Seppuku

I never used to understand why Japan came up with the idea that when you fail tremendously in public matters, you are expected to kill yourself. Then the American financial crisis hit, and I watched as everyone with power, who had failed miserable, walked off with massive fortunes. Meanwhile, those who were children as these criminals were bilking the country are unable to find a job.

If these assholes at the top killed themselves, it’s not even so much a matter of justice being done. Rather, it would create some job openings and save us from having to pay for the retirement benefits of thieves. It’s not about morality, it’s economical.

On the Death of Rodney King

That poor guy has now embodied the toughest black stereotypes: being victimized by cops and not being able to swim. Honestly, I think the only way he could have died that would have been more hilarious to racists is if he had choked on a chicken bone.

I always thought, from his interviews and his now famous “Can we all just get along?” statement, that he was a very thoughtful man, despite his problem with substance abuse. The images of him being beaten on television constitute some of the earliest news footage I remember seeing as a child (I was born in 1983), along with Gulf War footage and Bush Sr. urging me to “read his lips.”

Even all these years later (20 years after the trial, to be exact), that incident still seems as relevant now as it did then. If anything, we have devolved from having to worry about police brutality being ignored to neighborhood watchmen shooting black teenagers and being allowed to walk free… until there is national outcry.

If anything, what people like Rodney King teach us is that we can’t just stand idly by and let things continue as they are, because shit right now is fucked up. We have to demand better from our public servants, all of them. When we fail to expect more, what we end up with are Gestapo goons pepper spraying and tear gassing peaceful demonstrators.

It’s been easy for many Americans to ignore this, because the worst police brutality has been largely relegated to minority groups, but now any fool can see how complacency towards abuse of the poor and vulnerable has resulted in tyranny that includes those who formerly were above the fray. Most of America had its head in the sand, and now the tide is rising fast.

Monday Rule: “Special Forces”

The army should be composed of mentally ill homeless people (as opposed to now, when the mentally ill homeless are composed of army veterans). This would get them off the streets, give them a warm bed to sleep in, and food to eat. Plus, no one wants to fight an army that is fucking nuts.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Visual Pun: Child Predator

The Liberal/Conservative Test

If you aren’t sure if you’re a liberal or a conservative, answer the question below.

When you see someone holding a sign and asking for money, do you:

A. Feel bad for them
B. Get angry at them
C. Tell them to get a job
D. Think about how America is going downhill

If you answered “A,” you’re a liberal. Otherwise, you’re a conservative.

Saturday Reflection #86

One advantage of having sex with an elderly woman is that when you 69, you can suck on her tits.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Discussion: Parental Permission For Abortion

This is mostly for people who believe someone under 18 should need parental permission in order to get an abortion… but anyone can weigh in.

If we can force girls to require parental consent before having an abortion, can parents consent to an abortion when a girl under 18 wants to keep her baby? What I am essentially asking is, do people who support consent requirements actually want parents to have control, or are they just trying to put up another arbitrary roadblock to prevent abortions?

Stump a Christian #34

If God can do anything, why is church so boring?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stump a Christian #33

Why is slavery acceptable to God, but shellfish are not? Honestly, how does the Bible have more condemnation of shrimp than of treating other human beings like property?

The Several Adventures of Hugh, Part 4

[Continued from Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3]

“Are any of you good with a bow?” asked Ginx.

“I’m not too shabby,” said the giant.

“I have a spare one over there by the book shelf,” Ginx said. “We might as well have two of us shooting.”

The shapes below made slow progress toward the tower. There were now hundreds, if not thousands of them. They silently slinked out from the lake, many headed toward them, but scores more merely spread out from the beach in every direction.

“Okay, here’s what I do: I take an arrow, dip,” Ginx put the cloth-tipped head in a jar of clear liquid, “Draw,” he pulled the arrow back, “Light,” he passed the tip of the drawn arrow over a nearby torch, “And fire.” He hits the zombie closest to the tower in one of its thighs. The flame slowly grows and eventually engulfs the zombie.

“Lucky shot,” he said. “I usually have to put a few into them. You’ll see. Either the fire goes out because it hits a particularly wet spot, or the arrow doesn’t stick, or I just miss completely. If we wait a bit, they’ll be so thick that you can hardly miss if you try.”

Hugh stood next to Ginx, looking out. “How long have you been here doing this?”

“Almost a week now,” he replied. “I sort of came upon this place accidentally. I had heard about it before, but I didn’t mean to find it. I was on my way back home from the Siege of Quadrifortica. You know… I helped break through the fourth wall.”

“I don’t know what that means,” said Hugh.

“That’s okay. We have more important matters to attend to. Maybe with your help, I can clear up this lake, we can put up some signs, and we don’t have to worry about this anymore.” Ginx fired another arrow at a zombie a few meters away from the tower, glancing off its skull.

“Bah, I hate when it bounces off their head. Anyway, I was kind of worried I would feel obliged to stay here forever, killing these things until the day I died, but I like your sign idea. I want to believe I would have come up with it on my own, but… I don’t know. Maybe not.”

The giant fired an arrow, hitting the very same zombie in the groin. The fire slowly began licking at the lower torso, and soon spread.

“Nice crotch shot,” said Ginx.

“To be honest, I was aiming for the heart area.”

Ginx smirked. “I blame my home-made arrows. I don’t have much to work with out here. I need to come up with another way to kill more of them faster.”

Hugh bent down to look at the liquid. “What is this?”

“It’s alcohol,” said Ginx. “There’s a distillery with barrels of the stuff in the basement.”

Hugh looked out over the whole scene. “Why don’t you set up the alcohol along the ground somehow to burn them all?”

Ginx fired another arrow into the growing crowd beneath them, which caused a fire that spread to other zombies, eventually leaving a gap that was gradually filled by the slow, trudging mass trampling upon the smoldering embers. “There isn’t enough to cover all the space from here to the beach where they surface, let alone all that out there,” he said, motioning to those scattered about in the distance.

Once all the arrows had been exhausted, which wasn’t very long at all, they retired to the basement to assess the situation.

“Maybe we could fill bottles with the stuff and throw it down on them, then light it,” said the dwarf.

“Where are we going to get bottles?” asked Ginx.

“Perhaps we can get the distillery running again and make more alcohol,” said the giant.

“Unless one of you knows how to repair it, run it, and farm something to put in it… I don’t think that’s an option,” replied Ginx.

Hugh remained largely silent, thinking, as they debated the possibilities of somehow spreading it on the ground or leaving the barrels at intervals and lighting it as the zombies walked by. Eventually, they just went to sleep.

When they woke up, the sun was almost peaking out from above the horizon and all the zombies were disappearing into the lake, all except one, whose foot was caught in a tree root. It slowly tried to press onward, but remained firmly in place. They slowly approached it, and just as the sun’s rays pierced the morning darkness, the zombie began to crumble apart. It then fell into a puff of dust.

“I have an idea,” said Hugh. “Clearly, we don’t need to burn them all, we just need to stop them from going back into the lake. So, we should set up a firewall around the beach. Then, when they turn around in the morning to head back, we can light it ablaze. Any of the zombies who aren’t burned up by the wall will be destroyed by the sun.”

“Brilliant,” said Ginx.

So, they set to work. Hugh began uprooting trees and laying their trunks along the beach, while the other three began moving the barrels to the beach from the tower’s basement. Once it was all set up, Ginx showed them how to make arrows from tree saplings. They killed a goose-lizard for dinner and used the feathers to fletch the arrows.

As the first zombies began appearing in the fading light of the setting sun, they began dousing the tree trunks in alcohol. As zombies began pouring through the thin gaps between the trunks along the beach, they retreated to the tower and sat in the basement.

“Only one thing to do not,” said Ginx, rolling out a barrel he had hidden from a dark alcove. “We drink. If I drink enough, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to piss, then I can wake you guys up, because they turn around and head back pretty late, or early, depending on how you look at it.”

He poured a glass for everyone.

“You know,” he said. “This used to be the seashore, just a hundred year ago or so, before the ocean receded a few miles away. The people who lived along the shore used to bury their bead at sea. They would fill a boat with their most prized possessions, and they would even put their loved ones and slaves on board. Then, the ship would be set off onto the water, and set ablaze.”

“That’s awful,” said the giant.

“Tell me about it,” said Ginx. “It’s another one of those traditions that make you wonder about the mental state of those who did it in the first place, let alone those who continue to do it.”

“What do you think happens after we die?” asked the dwarf.

“I can’t say for sure, but I imagine being dead will be a lot like it was for me before I was born,” Ginx said, smirking.

“What were you before you were born?” asked the giant.

Ginx chuckled, “What were you?”

“I don’t know,” said the giant.

“So if you don’t remember, why would I?”

“Well,” began the giant. “We met a man who said that we become reincarnated into something else after we die, and he remembered what he had been before.”

Ginx shook his head and took another drink. “I don’t want to call that man a liar, because he may genuinely believe what he told you, but imagination is more powerful than memory, and it’s certainly more powerful than reason.”

“So, what are you saying?” asked the giant. “What happens after we die?”

“Nothing, and everything,” said Ginx. “The world will still be here. Other living people will continue to live. However, you’ll be dead and you will cease to exist.”

“That’s depressing,” said the dwarf, staring into his glass.

“I think it’s optimistic and liberating,” said Ginx. “Sure, from a selfish perspective, it sucks that I won’t get to see my grandkids grow up, or my great grandkids being born, or whatever it is people are so desperate to witness. But at the same time, there have been some horrible people in the world. Really, really wretched people whose departure from existence is a huge boon for the universe as a whole. I’m glad people aren’t eternal, because it gives me hope that the ignorance and evil that persists today among us may also be mortal and finite, for it exists only through such fragile beings. The world isn’t a bad place, the problem is the people in it, but the world will persist, while the people come and go.”

“How is that optimistic?” asked the giant.

“Okay,” said Ginx. “Imagine the person you hate most in the world.”

“That would be my brother,” said the giant.

“Right back at you,” said the dwarf.

“Well, this won’t work,” said Ginx. “I mean really hate. Like, imagine a man who kills and tortures people, who makes the lives of all those around him worse off. Imagine him. Now, would you want that person to live even beyond when they’re alive?”

“Well… actually, that’s kind of why we’re here,” said the giant.

“What?” asked Ginx.

“That body we have with us… he was some sort of cruel king or something,” the giant said.

Ginx’s eyes went wide. “Holy shit,” he said. He got up and went upstairs to look at the body. When he removed the shroud, his jaw dropped. He gingerly placed it back and trudged back downstairs in a daze. He poured himself another glass.

“If we cease to exist after we die, why are those bodies coming out of the lake up there?” asked the dwarf.

Ginx just stared silently at the table edge in front of him. After a while, he said, :Maybe we should just call it a night.”

They all went to sleep, except Ginx, who lay awake staring at the ceiling. After a while, he walked upstairs, purposely avoiding the corpse with his eyes, and sat in the top of the lighthouse, waiting for the zombies to begin to turn back.

Hour later, they did abandon the tower and head towards the lake again, so Ginx ran downstairs to wake the others. They each took turns firing out at the tree trunks, but only Hugh was able to draw the bow far enough to reach, after breaking one bow accidentally on his first draw. With the beach ablaze, the zombies stopped dead in their tracks.

From the top of the lighthouse, they waited and watched as morning broke, and every last one of the undead below them were reduced to bonemeal. The bulk of their labor now done, they began the more amusing task of producing signs. They all had fun with the exercise, all except Ginx, who had completely lost any sign of cheer.

Once they had erected signs every twenty meters or so around the lake, Ginx explained to them where they would find a city on the shore where they could make funeral arrangements.

“You know, I never could have done this without you guys,” said Ginx.

“Only returning the favor for saving us,” said Hugh.

“Well, don’t trust anymore birds,” Ginx said, turning to head the other direction.

“I hope our paths cross again,” the giant said.

“It’s always possible,” Ginx said.

The dwarf nudged his sister and whispered to her, “Waiting for hug and kiss goodbye?” She smacked the back of his head with her open palm.

Hugh took hold of the wheelbarrow and turned it toward the city of Polity, his two companions following him.

After there was more distance between them, Ginx turned and yelled, “Take care of him. That’s my father’s body.”

To be continued…

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stump a Christian #32

Are Adam and/or Eve in heaven? If you don’t know, could they be?

Top Ten: Made-Up Words That Sound Vulgar

10. Chooch
9. Prunkle
8. Tweef
7. Pulva
6. Scrote
5. Chizz
4. Furggling
3. Glung
2. Slint
1. Crusticle

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stump a Christian #31

Why do only Matthew and Luke mention the virgin birth? Was this detail not important enough for Mark and John to note? Come to think of it, why do Matthew and Luke bother going to great lengths to list (two contradictory) genealogies for Jesus through Joseph?

Music Monday: The Kills, again

I haven’t done a Music Monday in a while, but I’ve still been listening to music. The problem (or at least, the problem as it pertains to Music Monday) is that I’ve mostly been listening to the same bands. However, just my luck, the Kills released a new album.

Okay… it’s not that new, since it was released on April 4th of 2011, but relatively speaking, that’s pretty new, especially when you consider that most of the music I listen to was made before I was even born.

That said, here are three music videos from the album Blood Pressures by the Kills.

Monday Rule: Ethical Imports

If a product’s actual method of manufacture would have violated labor or environmental laws in the US, it should not be allowed to be imported into the US. We can’t claim to have abolished slavery if we still buy products made by slaves, and pollution in another country is still pollution that will poison us.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday Reflection #85

Everyone knows how easy it is to make someone believe a lie, yet it’s difficult to get anyone to realize they have fallen for one.

Snippet: Zero Tolerance

When an organization says they have “zero tolerance” for something, you can be sure that thing is happening quite often within the organization.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stump a Christian #29

If you are castrated as a young child, die as a much older adult, get into heaven, and you are then reunited with your genitals, are they child sized or have they gone through puberty?

Snippet: Rebuilding People

I don’t believe in breaking people down and then building them back up again. Lots of organizations try to do this: churches, rehab, the army, even some schools. The problem is, every time anyone tries put these people back together again, there always seems to be a few parts left at the end that no one knows where they go.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Several Adventures of Hugh, Part 3

[Continued from Part 1 and Part 2]

Sid wrote the directions on a large, triangular shard of broken pottery. With the old man wrapped in fragrant herbs now in the wheelbarrow, and some more herbs stuffed in his mouth for good measure, Hugh and his friends left Sid’s home.

“What do the directions say?” asked the giant.

Hugh looked down at the crudely drawn map with symbols that Sid had explained. “We head toward the mountain, until we reach the foot of it, then we basically walk around it, then the beach is just a day’s walk from there, away from the mountain.”

The road took them most of the way, and they turned off only about a mile from the mountain’s base. Once there, they encountered thick patches of trees. It began to get very dark due to heavy clouds, and the trio considered whether to continue on or stop. Their decision was easy once the blinding snow arrived.

They curled up under the boughs of an evergreen. Even wrapped in their cloaks, they experienced a cold they were unfamiliar with. It was so cold, it was the first time they had all sat together unspeaking. They just shivered silently, watching each breath exit their body.

The giant spotted an icicle hanging near her. She snapped it off and brought it to her mouth.

“I wouldn’t do that,” said a voice above them.

The three of them all looked up to see movement overhead. Slowly and methodically, a crow hopped from branch to branch down to them.

“They call this the Foul Taiga for a reason, you know,” said the crow.

“We didn’t know it was called that,” said the dwarf.

“What’s wrong with the ice?” asked the giant.

“Taste it and find out,” said the crow.

“I’m not going to taste it if it’s going to kill me,” said the giant.

“Just a taste won’t kill you,” said the crow.

The giant touched her tongue to the icicle and immediately pulled back, grimacing.

“Blah! It tastes like… a burned omelet made from rotten eggs.”

The crow chirped a few times, shaking its head. “There’s sulfur in it. If there was more light, you’d see it’s yellow.”

“Ha, you ate yellow snow!” said the dwarf.

The giant threw the icicle at her brother.

The crow dropped down to the floor to walk among them. “My name is Mem, may I ask what your names are?”

“My name is Hugh, and these are my friends, the world’s shortest giant and the world’s tallest dwarf.”

“And what are their names?” asked the crow.

“We don’t have names,” said the dwarf.

“So… wait, aren’t you guys the same height?” asked the crow.

“Well, she’s the giant because…” began the dwarf.

“I had my growth spurt first, so I was taller than him,” the giant said, beaming.

“I see… so your parents didn’t name you?”

“We don’t have parents,” said the giant.

“Everyone has parents,” the crow replied.

“Hugh is better than a mother or a father,” said the dwarf. “All our parents did was give us life and then leave us for dead. Hugh took us in when we were helpless, but our supposed parents left us adrift in a sealed jar.”

The crow cocked its head. “Your parents put you in a jar?”

“That’s how I found them,” said Hugh. “I was fishing on the shore of my island when I heard muffled cries. When I found the source, it was a large jar, sealed with wax, with two newborn babies inside. I’m surprised they were able to breathe.”

“Curious,” said the crow as it strutted around the ground toward the wheelbarrow. “And this… who was this?”

“That is the body of an old man who came to our island and died,” said Hugh.

“I see…” said the crow. “You haven’t the faintest idea who it is?”

“He never told us his name,” said Hugh. “He went on and on about an Eagle, though.”

“He would,” said the crow. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but I have been following you for some time, since you left your island, in fact.”

“Why would that alarm us?” asked the giant.

“I don’t imagine most people like being spied on,” said the crow. “But truth be told, I wasn’t so much spying on you as I was spying on the Cruel King.”

“Who?” asked the dwarf.

“That is the body of the Cruel King, or as he became known later in his life, the Crazy King, though such a thing was only whispered out of his earshot.” The crow turned to face them. “You don’t know of this King?” asked the crow.

“Nope, never heard of him,” said the dwarf.

“We don’t really get off our island,” said the giant. “There isn’t much need, usually.”

The crow hopped up on the edge of the wheelbarrow. “May I ask why you didn’t bury or burn his body near your home?”

“Is that what he would have wanted?” asked Hugh.

“I can’t say what he would have wanted,” replied the crow. “It’s hard to guess what he was thinking near the end. I’m not sure anyone knows his dying wishes, save perhaps you. Did he tell you?”

“No,” said the giant. “We figured, though, that since he was going to a mansion under the sea that we should bring his body to the shore and let it sink beneath the waves.”

The crow looked over at the giant. “Is that what you’re doing? Taking him to the shore for a sea burial?”

“Yeah,” said the giant. “That was the plan.”

“And he suggested this?” asked the crow.

“Not really,” said the dwarf. “We got the idea, from what he said about the Eagle and the mansion and stuff.”

“This was a very dangerous man,” said the crow. “He caused immense suffering among his people.”

“He had sort of mentioned something about that to me,” said Hugh.

“And you let him stay on your island?” asked the crow.

“He was a blind old man,” said Hugh. “What could he do?”

The crow nodded. “True enough. By the time you met him, he may as well have been harmless. How could you know?”

“Well, tell us, then,” said the dwarf.

“Alright,” said the crow.

Like all people, the Cruel King had been born as an adorable little baby, the son of the king’s brother. His childhood was unremarkable, though as he grew up, he did not turn his attention to girls, but to torture. By the time he was a teenager, he had gone from pulling the legs off of spiders to mutilating peasants with the help of the royal retinue. Through his ruthlessness, he killed his uncle, got rid of the rightful heirs, and claimed the crown as his own.

His reign was matched in atrociousness only by its longevity. He sat on the throne for over seventy years, during which time he bled the kingdom dry of its riches so that he could build monuments to himself. He went through over thirty wives, killing all of them before they could bear him a child. He was a horrible person, by all accounts.

Faced with the inevitability of death in his old age, he reached out desperately to the priests for comfort, and they gladly gave it to him. He told them of old myth he had heard, about an Eagle at the edge of the world who kept palaces under the ocean for those who praised him. More than simply giving him comfort, and encouraged by the priests who sought to keep him occupied, these stories gave the Cruel King a new purpose.

He systematically went through his kingdom with his army and forced one and all to praise the Eagle. Those who would not adopt this new view had their eyes gouged out, for as he said, “They were already blind, I am only making it apparent for all others to see.” He did this for years, converting many, and blinding many more.

Strangely, one night the Cruel King woke up a member of his personal guard from a deep sleep and demanded that he blind the king. The guard thought it was some sort of test, and refused. The king woke another, and another, and all refused the royal request. Finally, with his entire guard watching on in the firelight, the king blinded himself, goring out his own eyes with a spoon.

From that day forward, very little of what the king said made sense. It got so bad that the priests eventually hid him away from everyone, finally claiming that the Great Eagle had carried him off to rule from the tip of the Great Eagle’s beak at the edge of the world forever.

“We birds were suspicious of this,” said the crow, “Because there is no Great Eagle. So, we set out to find what really happened. It appears that the priests set the king adrift on a boat, which is how he ended up on your island.”

“How do you know there’s no Eagle?” asked the giant.

“We made it up,” said the crow. “We just wanted the king to stop hurting so many of us. The king used to put out poisoned birdseed so that he could watch us eat on the royal grounds and then fly away, only to drop dead from the sky. So, the birds got together and came up with this idea where we convince the king he shouldn’t do that. Hence, the Great Eagle was born, and he stopped killing birds for pleasure.”

They all sat in silence for a bit.

“I realize this may make your journey a fool’s errand,” said the crow. “But in a way, it still serves a purpose.”

“How do you figure?” asked the dwarf.

“Well, it wouldn’t be good for the kingdom if it was discovered that the priests had essentially run the king out of town. Things are going well there in his absence, and it’s been more peaceful since his departure than it has been since he took the throne,” said the crow. “If word got out that the priests had done away with the king unfairly, it might undo all that they worked for up to this point. It would be best for all involved if his body was never found.”

“So, you want us to get rid of the body?” asked Hugh.

“I think sinking it in the ocean would be fine,” said the crow. “Though it wouldn’t be any better than burying or burning him right here in the morning. As long as no one finds him, you will be doing the kingdom a great service.”

“I still think we should take him to the sea,” said the dwarf.

“I’ve always wanted to see the ocean,” said the giant.

“Very well,” said the crow. “When morning comes, I’ll help guide you to the shore.”

The next morning, as the snow was melting, an acrid smell hung in the air. They continued on, with Mem on Hugh’s shoulder, guiding them, no longer following Sid’s directions (which Mem said were too long). As night began to fall, they saw the beach ahead.

“I’ll fly back and inform the others,” said the crow. “I’ll meet you back here tomorrow.” He flew off.

They approached the lake, took the old man’s body from the wheelbarrow, and with the dwarf holding the shoulders and the giant holding the legs, heaved him into the water. The old man’s body did not sink, but instead bobbed on the surface.

“Wait! Stop!” a voice screamed in the distance.

From the top of a nearby hill, a man came running at them. It was almost comical, as he ran at full speed from such a great distance, everyone silently staring at his gradual approach. As he neared, heaving for breath, he bent over and put his hands on his knees for a bit before pushing through them and wading into the water. He dragged the body out and up onto the shore.

The man stood with his hands clasped on top of his head, struggling to take in air. “We have to go. Come on, it’s not safe here.”

They loaded up the old man’s soaking wet body into the wheelbarrow and followed the man back up the hill, in the direction of a tower, what looked like an old lighthouse. The man kept looking back behind them nervously. Once inside, he closed the door and laid two heavy planks into metal fittings on either side of it to bar it shut.

“Do you have any clue what I just did for you?” asked the man.

Hugh began, “We were led here by a crow–”

“A crow?” asked the man. “You just followed a crow and you ended up here?”

“Well… yeah,” replied Hugh.

“This is a dangerous place to be, an even more dangerous place now that it’s almost night. Tell me…” the man got up and lip some more lanterns in the room, “Did the crow tell you to throw the body into that lake?”

“It’s a lake?” asked the dwarf.

“Not just any lake,” said the man. “It’s the Great Dead Lake. It’s the saltiest lake in the world. It’s so salty, not only can life not live in it, the dead won’t even stay dead in it.”

“How does that make any sense?” asked the giant.

“I don’t know what sort of sense it makes,” said the man. “But maybe you should explain it to the lake, that way I don’t have to deal with this every night.”

“Deal with what?” asked the dwarf.

“I’ll show you,” the man said, walking over to some stairs that spiraled around the interior of the tower. At the top of them was a complete, three hundred and sixty degree, all window, panoramic view of the area. “There,” he said, pointing at the lake.

They peered out and saw dozens of shapes shuffling out of the water in the moonlight.

“Zombies. It’s a local legend that if you throw a body into the lake, it will come back to life. What ends up actually happening is that some bereaved individual brings their dead relative or lover, throws them into the water, and then waits… until they get attacked, die, and become one of them.”

“You’d think you might put a sign up for something,” said Hugh.

The man blinked a few times. “You know…” he began, “That is probably what I should have done.”

“What have you done?” asked dwarf.

“Well, I live here now, and I shoot flaming arrows at zombies all night… that’s pretty much it, really.”

“You stopped us, didn’t you?” asked the giant.

“Well, yeah…” said the man, “But to be honest, it was only because I thought the cyclops would require a lot of arrows to take down.”

“I’m Hugh, by the way.”

“I’m Bret, but people call me Ginx,” said the man.

To be continued…

Stump a Christian #28

Do animals have souls? If yes, how can an animal get into heaven? If no, how is an animal alive and able to show intelligence and affection?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Top Ten: Additional Bad Product and Business Ideas

Based on the popularity of the first one...

10. Fishbook (social networking for schools; goes downhill when whales can join)
9. MP3-to-8-track Recorder
8. Monkey Off Your Back (wax body hair removal for men)
7. Filet Mignon in a Can
6. Paranoid Thunder (an even louder and more sensitive car alarm)
5. Tads (advertising written in body paint on topless women at major events)
4. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Salt
3. Zombie Insurance
2. (suspiciously inexpensive electronics and cigarettes)
1. Beggars Inc. (a franchise of highway off-ramp and mall exit panhandlers)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Stump a Christian #27

Is there a polite way to tell someone their religion is ruining the world? I’m asking for a friend, because I don’t give a shit about people’s feelings (why mince words?), but some people do, so… how does one convey the idea that these organizations called “churches” are ruining the world while hiding behind a thin veneer of soup kitchens?

Snippet: Tropical Depression

A downgraded hurricane is a “tropical depression,” which is weird. That sounds like the economic situation that would occur if the price of sugar cane and bananas dropped, or the emotional state of a Jamaican if he runs out of weed.

Monday Rule: Congressional Pay

Congress should be paid by the hour for how much actual work they do, and only at minimum wage.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Snippet: Bullying

I depart from a lot liberals on the issue of bullies. Too many liberals think verbal bullying should be legislated against, and if someone kills themselves for being bullied, the bully should be tried with some sort of crime (I guess second-degree suicide?). However, I figure that millions of people get bullied every day, but only a few kill themselves over it. Those bullies shouldn’t be arrested, they deserve a medal for being at the top of their game.

And if you consider physical violence to be “bullying,” I don’t know what to tell you except that we already have laws against assault.

Two Dudes: Crazy

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stump a Christian #25

How do you decide which parts of the Bible to follow, and which parts to ignore as obsolete?

Snippet: Chivalry

I still believe in chivalry. I say a man should be the one who pays for the abortion.
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