Category Archives: religion

Good vs Evil, a Game We Must Play

Whether we find it palatable or not, there is good and there is evil in the world. It is as unavoidable as the fact that there is hot and cold in the world, darkness and light in the world, school teachers and unreachable idiots in the world… Of course, any good philosopher will define the terms being used (not to suggest I am actually a good philosopher… I’m clearly as horrible at philosophy as I am at writing poetry.) “Good” is here being used to mean all that is positive, effectively aiding in life, growth, good health, love, and community. “Evil” is the negative, all that taints, poisons, kills, spoils, and causes suffering..

And as I try to play the game to win for the side of “Good,” I am often accused of being a loony conspiracy theorist, the crazy uncle who is shushed and vilified any time he says words like “Republican,” “Greenhouse gasses,” “Koch Brothers,” “Inside Job.” “Betsy DeVos,” and numerous other words that light conversational infernos in either Texas or Iowa. And I, of course, feel wronged in that I don’t believe the crazies like Alex Jones. David Icke, or Tucker Carlson. I don’t believe the world is run by lizard-men in people skins, or that Democrats eat babies and worship Satan. And I don’t care that Elvis probably faked his death. But I do believe something is wrong and being covered up about the events of 9-11, and the government is covering up the truth about UFOs. I have researched both sides of each question and found many disturbing things have more and better evidence than the debunkers can provide in opposition. Some evils in our time are threatening to cause extinction of life on Earth. That includes man-made climate change, nuclear-weapons proliferation, Chinese economic aggression, and the acidification of the world’s oceans. Opposing these bad things is not a problem caused by me. I am not breaking the rules of the game.

One definite truth that I hope holds true on into the future as it has done in the past is that humankind is made up of numerous innovators and problem-solvers dedicated to helping us overcome the evils that some men do. Solutions to climate problems are out there and being worked on. Things like vertical forests and atmospheric scrubbers already exist, and more are even being built. Gigantic, mountain-installation solar batteries are being designed and built to provide for increasing clean-energy needs. The technology exists to desalinate ocean water and remove or neutralize naturally-formed acids. Hopefully a way will be invented to clean up all the excess plastic waste in the oceans too.

Of course, the hardest part of that game is getting corporations and the billionaires who empower them to pay the price for solving these problems. The profit motive is there to be had. But it is a long-term investment being proposed in a world of quick profits and short-term schemes that rich and heartless people are addicted to.

Of course, many find “Good” is served best through faith and devotion. That might seem a potential problem for an old atheist like me. But, I remind you, I am an atheist who believes in God. I know there is a spiritual dimension to human life, and nothing works well without that. That is why I am a Christian Existentialist. The basis of most religions is some sort of fairytale about faith in a higher power and a better ultimate outcome than merely death. And that would seem to be useless if it is provably false.

But that is one of the beauties of an existentialist philosophy. Since life does not come with meaning already installed in all the hardware, we have the privilege of creating or choosing the operating software for ourselves. Most traditional religions provide instructions on how to live the best life possible and to love one another. This more than merely outweighs the evil done in the name of religion. The heroes who stand against false and harmful beliefs are given their power by being true to the religion inculcated in them in their youth.

This is why it is so tragic when great philosophers like Nietzsche are misunderstood and misused by evil men like Hitler’s Nazi Party. Nietzsche did write about the “Ubermensch” or “Super-man.” But he would never have argued for a “Master Race” like the Nazis did. He was writing about how a man takes ownership over the writing of his own story. And the man (or woman, since he talked about men as if the word meant mankind) can make goodness out of even a life of suffering (just as Nietzsche with his mental illness in later life himself did.) Nietzsche was a philosopher who taught in his writings how people should love one another and should make their own meaning out whatever circumstance they found themselves living in.

It is to be hoped that whatever religious fairytale you adhere to, and however near we are to the actual end of the world, we will all continue to strive for the Good, the Light Side of the Force. It is the only hope we truly have to ultimately win the game..

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Thinking About Thinking About Christmas

Yeah, I know… The title seems like a typo. But this pointlessly obtuse Mickian essay is actually about metacognition of the concept of having the “Christmas spirit.” In other words, I am writing about and analyzing how I think about Christmas. A nerdy thing to do done by a nerd who wants you to think he is smarter than he really is.

The Reason for the Season

Yes, I live in Texas, so I am constantly seeing the “Reason for the Season” signs in every Southern Baptist churchyard. So, what do I think is the reason? Yeah, you probably don’t want to know. I was a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for 20 years. Not that I believed in the evils of celebrating Christmas. I only stopped following Witness commands when they abandoned me in times of spiritual need, but I do retain the belief that if Jesus was a real human being, he was not born on December 25th. If the shepherds were watching their flocks by night, then the latest it could have been was in October. Shepherds don’t graze their flocks in winter. The celebration is what the Christian bigwigs decided they would use to co-opt the pagan Saturnalia. The date represents the rebirth of the Sun after the Winter Solstice on December 21st. The Sun, not the Son.

But unlike Jehovah’s Witnesses, I don’t see the Christmas holiday as a bad thing. People, Christian or not, are nicer to each other this time of year. They are much quicker to think of others and take pity on those who are suffering or are in serious need of help. And they think about giving gifts to others. particularly family. Growing up a Methodist Christian, I never noticed any parents at all giving their kids lumps of coal. Even the really bad kids got cool stuff as gifts from Mom and Dad, or Grandma or Grandpa, or whoever else was lucky enough to have to put up with them daily throughout the year.

People actually willingly spend time with their family this time of year. They hear the minister occasionally when he reads aloud the Bible verses about what Jesus commanded concerning widows and orphans, the homeless, and the poor. And Jesus never said that their reduced condition was their own fault for not working hard enough or not being a good-church-goer enough. And people who choose to reach out and spend time with each other during the season of good feelings generally find they actually like those fellow human beings they chose to spend some of their time with. All people are generally good when they are not being swayed by a way to make lots of money or enraged and vengeful for the real and imagined hurts that others have inflicted on them. I think it is absolutely vital that people have a celebration when they have survived another year of life in which not all of their family and friends are dead and they may even have a little money on hand to celebrate with. If Christmas didn’t already exist, we would desperately need to create something just like it.

Vincent Price’s Christmas Tree again

Vincent Price’s Christmas Tree Explained

The picture above, a surrealist picture-poem of how I feel about Christmas now that I am retired and no longer a Jehovah’s Witness, has never really been explained by me. Now that I am baring my soul as a Christian Existentialist Nudist Atheist who believes in God, I should elaborate on what it means.

The picture is named after the photo-shopped Christmas Tree in the back corner. I photo-shopped it from a photo of Vincent Price, the horror-movie actor, in a TV Christmas special in the 1960’s. I photo-shopped Vincent out of the picture, of course, just clipping and pasting the tree itself. I spent a good share of my youth, including all of my teen years, nursing a terrible secret. I was sexually assaulted at the age of ten. I believed I was a monster. But the Christmas I created the picture and photo-shopped Vincent out, I had successfully made peace with the monster in my past. My story is not a horror story. So, horror-movie-star Vincent had to leave this party.

And part of that is represented by the Cotulla Cowgirl basketball player. Vivi here represents all my 31 years as a public school teacher. By serving the children of South Texas, and later the ESL kids of North Texas, I managed to prove to myself that I was a good and worthy person. I know because of the many things they told me over the years, that my students would mostly agree with my self-assessment that I am not a bad man.

I put myself in the picture as a happy, confident nude boy. This is a thing that I wasn’t able to be after the age of ten. Doubt, fear, and depression clouded my world from 1966 to 1976. When I spent time trying to explain to the high school counselor what was wrong with me, he had to admit that he knew something was wrong, but he did not know what it was nor how to help. And I could not at that time admit what had happened, as I could not even allow myself to remember the actual trauma. So, becoming a nudist in 2017 and coming to terms with the scars and trauma, was a gift to myself. The mental chains are gone.

Anneliese, the gingerbread girl, represents my mental linking with the German-American world of Aunt Selma’s Christmas parties in the 1960’s. The gingerbread cookies, the candy, and the Christmas stories she told with a charming German accent led to the writing of my book Recipes for Gingerbread Children. Christmas is a day full of gingerbread men… and now, making gingerbread houses.

And Annette Funicello is in the picture because Christmas always used to have a Disney-movie, happy-endings sort of theme. I needed that happy ending to every year to keep me going. It was an emotionally essential thing I counted on every year to be able to face a brand new year.

I am an atheist. And an Existentialist. Oh, and a nudist. But I need Christmas. It matters to me. And I know I am not the only one.

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Sunday Sermons in More Innocent Times

There are definitely tendencies in those of us who are really atheists and non-believers in our heads to look back fondly at a time when God and religion filled our childish hearts every Sunday Morning. I have been told that idiots like me with a penchant for writing humor ought not to indulge in making fun of religion and politics. But I look at modern humorists making fun of both those things with impunity and too often end up admiring their success. Because, not only does the the subject of religion provide an easy target for satire and mockery, but we can’t really keep something sacred in our porcelain and breakable human hearts for very long without making sure it is fire-tested. That’s why I intend to take a flame-thrower to it in today’s Sunday Sermon. And I don’t mean I will only make fun of belief in God, but making fun of belief in atheism as well.

Here is a piece of music that gives your heart peace that you might need to play in the background if you really plan to read this purple-paisley-prose post. It is Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, a very spiritual piece to play for peace of personhood and a pinch of paradise.

Now, of course, the first thing to acknowledge in this idiot’s Sunday sermon is the idea of God Himself.

Is there a God?

Remember, I pass the test for believing what atheists normally believe. That should disqualify me from making the following statement. But remember too, I also identified myself in this essay as an idiot. So, I will say it anyway.

There is a God, not in Heaven, but in us. There has to be. I talk to Him all the time, and He answers me. And I keep asking Him, “If you don’t exist, then how can you be answering me?”

“Well, Michael, you are an idiot. And things don’t have to make sense for you to believe them. But also, I am the part of you that never gives up on you even when you have given up on yourself.”

And I try to look as intelligent as I can as I say, “What…?”

“People, Mickey, my son, have a secret power inside of themselves that, when they are in troubled times and dire dangers, they can reach deep into their souls for it and pull it out to save themselves from the situation in the best way possible.”

“So, if people use this power correctly, say the right words and everything, they can save their lives in any situation and even live on after death?”

“I know you are an idiot, my child, but try not to be quite so idiotic all the time.”

“But people who are very religious believe in eternal life of some kind, don’t they?”

“You are not the only idiot out there, my beloved.”

“So, we don’t get eternal life for praying the right things and doing the right things and fulfilling all the elements of the Live Forever Spell?”

“There is no such thing as eternal life nor eternal torment. But you exist. And existence is eternal. There was no life before you are born, and there is no life after you die. But once you exist, you always exist, even outside of the time-frame of your mortal life.”

“That’s why I call myself a Christian Existentialist, right?”

“You are, indeed, that flavor of idiot, yes. But the Christian part means you have to adhere to Christian values. And not the ones Christian Fundamentalist idiots interpret from the Old Testament. The real ones based on choosing love over hate.”

“So, is that all I need to bring this sermon to an end?”

“Well, you should probably thank William Bouguereau for providing most of the internet images you illustrated this thing with. He died before you were born, but he still exists.”

“Thanks, Billy B. You paint lovely naked angels.”

“And you should recognize that this idiotic thing you have written is not a sermon, but, rather, a fantasy dialogue. And then stop adding more to it like a good little idiot.”

“Amen.”

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The Religion of Conspiracy (*not my religion)

I have always had an inquiring mind. That is a curse instead of a plus if your main goal in life is to be happy and unbothered by anything. But it has proved to be of benefit to me as I have become an old coot who actually cares about what is true. Yes, I am willing to personally suffer to bring to light that which is actually true and that which must be disbelieved before it truly hurts us.

Don’t judge me yet based on this next question;

“Did you know that the Democratic party is funded by billionaires who want to use the “Deep State” to promote their Satanic rituals involving the murder and cannibalistic consumption of human children?”

I hope you know that I would never promote such a thing as being true. I am even careful of posting this pernicious lie in a question rather than a statement, because that’s one of the tactics the malign promoters of this religious belief use, not actually stating something that will be contradicted immediately, but taken merely as something to be considered and discussed simply because it is offered in question form.

So, how do you tackle such dangerous nonsense?

I prefer the scientific method which provides the structure for your thinking that will keep you on the most likely paths that lead you to what is true and what is not.

  1. Facts should be confirmed by multiple verifiable sources.

We don’t talk much about cold fusion nowadays because when it was discovered in 1989 by a pair of electrochemists whose single experiment produced more heat than what should result from the energy put into the tabletop experiment, it quickly blossomed into the huge, major breakthrough story that it really would’ve been if only it had been verified. But, as is required by the entire scientific community, it couldn’t be reproduced in more repeats of the experiment than those that turned out negative. So, even though Pons and Fleischman did an experiment that answered the dreams of science-fiction nerds like me, they are mostly ignored by now. Cold fusion? Only one flawed source, studied in 1989 and proved still basically untrue in 2004 by a multitude of scientists who wanted it to be true.

Consider the source for Q-Anon conspiracies. One (or possibly more) anonymous government whistle-blowers whose credentials have never been presented or identities revealed, and mind-blowing statements appearing on places like 4-Chan, 8-Chan, and Parlor to be picked up and amplified on such reliable sources of scientifically proven knowledge as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I hope you understand sarcasm after making that last statement.

Q-Anon is not the only conspiracy religion out there. My friend Giorgi (above) has a more benign, but no less ridiculous religion that chooses to replace God Jehovah, Zeus, Odin, Buddha, and other religious figures and deities with Ancient Aliens.

Here’s a second and third test offered by Carl Sagan to use against their ideas;

2. Encourage debate from knowledgeable people from all identifiable perspectives.

3. Do not accept arguments only from positions of authority.

Q-Anon arguments only have the authority of repetition because social media endlessly asks the same “questions” over and over. There is no debate from any recognizable “authority,” just a plethora of unsubstantiated statements and commandments.

In a way, the Ancient-Aliens crowd is guilty of the same thing. They never have skeptics and debunkers on their History-Channel show. You never see Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society, offering his opinions of their conclusions on that show. Neither do they allow Christian theologians or Buddhist scholars to offer their take on what probably really happened. They do employ physicists, engineers, and historians on their show, but never the ones that don’t agree with their radical theories and conclusions. Since there is no real debate on that show and no identifiable peer review, that show does not qualify as History, let alone Science.

4. Don’t get overly attached to your own ideas.

If you are going to investigate any conspiracy that holds thrall a number of “true believers,” approach everything with a truly open mind. I actually believe alien beings from “out there” have visited Earth. That is based on things, science, and testimony I haven’t even begun to go into here. But I reserve my right to be skeptical about everything, especially my own prejudices, theories, and beliefs. Otherwise I could too easily get trapped into believing in the truth of something that I otherwise would recognize as false. This is the factor that has pulled so many of my otherwise sensible Republican friends onto the flypaper of spurious Q-Anon claims.

5. Use numbers wherever possible. Math is quantifiable information that can “prove” the facts better than most ideas expressed in mere language. It is more precise, and reveals truth in verifiable ways that no poet ever could.

I am known to some in my family (here you could read wife and sisters) as the family conspiracy nut and generally crazy old coot.

But I am not so crazy that I don’t recognize the dangers inherent in some the ideas I am talking about here. As an English teacher I have learned some effective thinking skills that protect me and mine. I can honestly tell you that these thinking skills explained here will help you too. I learned them from a friend who pointed me to Carl Sagan as the source of these thinking skills.

And to any of my friends who might read this post and be offended, I apologize. But you were wrong about Pizzagate, and you are on the wrong side of this too. Aliens probably did NOT build the pyramids. But logic IS the primary structure of this essay.

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The Nature of Our Better Angels

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I have friends and relatives that believe in angels.  Religious people who believe in the power of prayer and the love of God.  And I cannot say that I do not also believe.  But I also happen to believe that angels live among us.

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My Great Grandma Nellie Hinckley was, as far as I am concerned, an angel.  Born in the late 1800’s, she was a practical prairie farmer’s wife.  She knew how to make butter in a churn.  She knew how to treat bee stings and spider bites. She knew how to cook good, wholesome food that stuck to your ribs and kept you going until the next meal rolled around.  She knew how to cook on a wood-burning stove, and knew why you needed to keep corn cobs in a pile by the outhouse door.  Or, in the case of rich folks, why you needed to read the Sears catalog in the little room behind the cut-out crescent moon.

She also knew how to head a family.  She had seven kids and raised six of them up to adulthood.  She sent a son off to World War II.  She had nine grandchildren and more great grandchildren, of which I was one of the not-so-great ones, than I can even count on two hands and two feet, the toes of which I can’t always see.  Great great grandchildren were even greater.  Tell me you can’t believe she was a messenger from God, always knowing God’s will, and making the future happen with a steady hand, and eyes that brooked no nonsense from lie-telling boys.

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Mother Mendiola was an angel too.  I met her at my first school, Frank Newman Junior High in Cotulla, Texas.  She was the seventh grade Life Science teacher.  She had been a nun before becoming a teacher, and she was a single lady her whole life.  But she was a natural mother figure to the children in her classes.  She’s the one who taught me how to talk to fatherless boys, engage them in learning about things that excited them, and become a lifelong mentor to them, willing to help them with life’s problems even long after they had graduated from both junior high and high school.  She was not only a mother to students, but she nurtured other teachers as well.  She showed Alice and I how to talk to Hispanic kids even though we were both so white we almost glowed in the dark.  She went to bat for kids who got in trouble with the principal, and even those who sometimes got into trouble with the law.  She had a way of holding her hand out to kids and encouraging them to place their troubles in it.  She even helped pregnant young girls with wise counsel and a loving, accepting heart, even when they were seriously in the wrong.  When they talk about being an “advocate for kids” in educational conferences, they always make me picture her and her methods.  I can still see her in my mind’s eye with clenched fists on her hips and saying, “I am tired of it, and it will get better NOW!”  And it always got better.  Because she was an angel.  She had the power of the love of God behind her every action and motivation.  It still makes me weep to remember she is gone now.  She got her wings and flew on to other things a long time ago now.

Some people may call it a blasphemy for me to say that these people, no matter how good and critically important they were, could really be angels.  But I have to say it.  I have to believe it.  I know this because I saw them do these things, with my own two eyes, and how could they not be messengers from God?  I convinces me that I need to work at becoming an angel too.

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Debussy Reverie

Some Sunday thoughts require the right music.

Some Sunday thoughts actually are music.

rev·er·ie

/ˈrev(ə)rē/

noun

  • 1.a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream:”a knock on the door broke her reverie

Powered by Oxford Dictionaries

I had originally thought to call this post “A Walk with God.” But that would probably offend my Christian friends and alienate my Jehovah’s Witness wife. It would bother my intellectual atheist friends too. Because they know I claim to be a Christian Existentialist, in other words, “an atheist who believes in God.” Agnostics are agnostics because they literally know they don’t know what is true and what is merely made up by men. And not knowing offends most people in the Western world.

But Debussy’s Reverie is a quiet walk in the sacred woods, the forest of as-yet-uncovered truths.

And that is what I need today. A quiet walk in the woods… when no literal woods are available.

This pandemic has been hard on me. I am a prisoner in my room at home most days. My soul is in darkness, knowing that the end could be right around the corner. I am susceptible to the disease. It didn’t slay me on its first visit to the house, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get me on the second or third visit. Health experts are expecting a resurgence of up to 3,000 deaths per day before the end of the year. If I am relying on luck to avoid it, luck will run out.

I am not afraid to die. I have no regrets. But I have been in a reverie about what has been in the past, what might have been, and what yet may be… if only I am granted the time.

And, as always, I feel like I have writing yet to do. I am about to finish The Wizard in his Keep. And I have stories beyond that to complete if I may.

But the most important thing right now is having time to think. Time for Reverie. And reflections upon the great symphony of life as it continues to play on… with or without me.

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What God Wants from This Crazy World

Tobias and the Angel : Francisco De Goya

So, by what right do I make any assumptions about what God actually wants? I am, after all, arguably an atheist, definitely agnostic, and probably just as stupid as anyone else you could possibly name about the subject of God and His plan… except for Kenneth Copeland and Pat Robertson and every other religious-con-man-snake-oil merchant. Oh, and Tucker Carlson who knows pretty well what Satan wants, but not God… if there is one.

But I can see the hand of God in world events of late as clearly as anyone you can name. No exceptions there.

With the recent quadruple-spiked pandemic, the resulting recession, the insurrection by the criminal former president, and our headlong rush into climate-change apocalypse, any idiot can tell that God is itching to do some serious smiting. Yes, smiting, that unhappy word for getting smashed to death by Thor’s Hammer.

Tucker Carlson has been revealing what somebody with pretty big wings wants to happen nightly on his Fox News Spews broadcasts. He wants almost all of the money in the world to go to Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and all those closest billionaires who want to overtake Bezos or Musk. The God Tucker serves wants the rich to get richer, and everyone else to die or become totally subserviant to the rich.

And the government Tucker’s God has put in place are actively carrying out that God’s commands as Stephen Fry explains.

The zealots who swarm from Trump rally to Trump rally continue to insist that Trump is God’s choice to be their leader, and they must take election results, success, and even life away from Democrats, liberals, socialists, and anybody else who thinks Biden is actually president.-And if their agenda makes climate change accelerate, or causes nuclear war with China, then it will turn out the way they want. They will be in paradise with their God while the rest of us communist-heathens and liberals will burn in Hell for trying to help poor people and wanting to take tax cuts and guns away from the chosen people.

So, I don’t actually know what God wants in these crazy times. But there are people who insist that they do. And it is messy and painful. And I sincerely hope they are wrong.

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Softer Sunday Symbolism

Yesterday I was walking the dog when I was approached by a man and two women in the park. They were Jesus pushers. As a nominal Jehovah’s Witness, I am not supposed to have anything at all to do with such folks. They admired the little four-legged poop factory that I was walking. They listened patiently to the story of how we rescued her as a puppy in the middle of the street as cars zoomed past. They wanted to know what breed she was, and how we came to own her and love her. And then, they wanted to pray for me.

Jesus pushers! Just like the door-to-door work the Witnesses do, they want you to learn to pray their way and believe their truths.

I shared with them that I was a Christian Existentialist, and that could easily be interpreted as saying that I was an atheist who believes in God. And I admitted to them that I have a personal relationship with God and talk to him constantly. I admitted that in hard times I don’t merely rely on science for comfort. I do know what grace really means. “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me,” says the Psalmist David. (The shepherd uses the rod to guide the flock and the shepherd’s crook to rescue the stranded and endangered one.)

It is not in me to turn away true believers, even if I cannot accept the tenets of their faith. I let the Witnesses down. But I am no more a Witness anymore than I am one of whatever flavor of fundamentalist Christian they are.

So, they prayed for me… my poor health, my financial difficulties, and my little dog too. Their prayers touched me. Though I believe they needed the prayers more than I did. They were proving their faith to their God after all.

My own faith, my own spirituality is fundamentally simpler than theirs.

I am a part of the universe, and the universe is all that is relevant, all that there is. The universe is God. And I know my place in the universe. It is as simple as that. When I die, I will still be a part of the universe. I don’t need to live forever. Death is not the end. But it is not the end because when you finish reading and close a book, the book does not cease to exist. Past, present, and future are all one. The book can be opened again.

I appreciate that they wanted to offer me “the good news” and give me comfort. But I don’t need the forgiveness of sins they offer. I have forgiven myself, just as I have forgiven all who have ever sinned against me. I am at peace. Life is good while I have it. I thanked them and wished them well.

And that’s what Sunday means to me.

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Irreverence

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It is a difficult thing to be an atheist who believes in God.  Sometimes it takes an oxymoron to find the Truth.  And you often have to go heavily on the “moron” portion of the word.

The thing I find most distressing about faith is the fact that those who have it are absolutely convinced that if you don’t agree with them and whatever book of fairy tales they believe in and interpret for you, then you are not a True Believer and you do not have real Faith.

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I remember being told by a Mormon girl in one of my classes that I was her all-time favorite teacher, but she was deeply distressed that, because of my religion (I professed to be a Jehovah’s Witness at the time) I was doomed to burn in Hell forever.

Hey, I was raised in Iowa.  I have experienced minus 100 degree Fahrenheit windchill.  I am among those who think a nice warm afterlife wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

But I am no longer actually a Jehovah’s Witness.  So I guess that helps with the whole Hell-burning thing.  The Witnesses are a religion that claims to understand the Bible is full of metaphorical truth, and yet insist that it is literally true.  They don’t believe in Hell, which, honestly, is not actually mentioned or explained in the Bible as we have it now.  But they do believe your prospects for eternal life on a paradise Earth are totally contingent on knocking on doors and telling other people that they must believe what you believe or experience eternal destruction.  I have stopped being an active Witness and knocking on doors because I got old and sick, and all the caring brothers and sisters in the congregation stopped coming around to visit because number one son joined the Marines, and the military is somehow evil hoodoo that cancels out any good you have done in the past.  Being a Jehovah’s Witness was really hard work with all the meetings (5 per week), Bible reading (I have read the entire Bible two and a half times), door-knocking, and praying, and you apparently can lose it all for saying, thinking, or doing one wrong thing.

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According to the Baptist preachers, Jehovah’s Witness elders, religious zealots, and other opinionated religious people I have known and dealt with in my life, if I do not believe what they believe and agree with them in every detail, then I do not know God and am therefore an atheist.  So, okay, I guess I am.   If I have to be an atheist to believe whole-heartedly that everyone is entitled to sincerely believe whatever the hell they want to believe, then I’ll wear that label.

On a personal note, my favorite verse of the Bible has always been 1 John 4:8,  “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.”  That is why I claim to be an atheist who believes in God.  I know love.  I love all men, women, children, animals, sunrises, artwork, paintings of angels by Bouguereau… everything that is.  And I even love you if you exercise your freedom to tell me, “Your ideas are totally wrong, and you are going to burn in Hell, Mickey, you bad guy, you!”  Mark Twain always said, “I would choose Heaven for climate, but I would prefer Hell for company.”  I am not going to worry about it.  I will be in good company.  Some things are just bigger than me.  And trying to control things like that is nonsense. Sorta like this post.

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Quackatoonity (Religion Where Ducks are Always Watching)

Yes, the universe was not formed in a big bang. It hatched from an egg. And God is the Ultimate Mallard.

Anatidaephobia (pronounced anna-tidy-phobia) is a pervasive and irrational fear that you are being watched by a duck. A person with this rare phobia fears that somehow, somewhere a duck is watching their every move.

This phobia about being watched by a duck may seem like a strange basis for forming a new religion. But I may have had an epiphany as a child when a goose at Deer Farm Zoo stuck his neck, head, and beak of retribution out through a hole in his chicken-wire cage and nearly nipped me in my five-year-old neck. That epiphany led to recurring nightmares about being chased by a duck with large white teeth that looked like he had bad human dentures in his bill.

This I tended to interpret as a sign that I was facing a big decision about what I would attempt to do with my young life, and would do it wrong.

Ducks in the farmyard, you see, are temperamental, often impulsive, and randomly violent. They will punish you for sins you did not know you were committing.

So, in this Quackatoon faith in judgmental ducks who are constantly watching our every move, thought, and deed, we should be taking Saint Donald Duck as our role-model and guide. When we see sin and wrongness in the world we are watching, we must dissolve in incoherent rage. Point your finger. Shout things that no one understands. Get the world’s attention. Confuse them completely. And get them to wonder what they did to make you so rage-filled and dangerously aggravated.

Then, hopefully, they will realize their sin and immediately mend their ways. Or at least, rearrange their feathers.

Or we can rely on the incompetent vengeful wrath of Saint Daffy Duck to see the unrighteousness in the rabbits of the world around us, posting Rabbit Season signs everywhere, and getting his duckbill blown off via the shotgun of a nearby Elmer who has been tricked into thinking ducks are rabbits.

Well, that might not be the most efficient prosecution of God’s will on Earth. But at least it will leave us laughing. And who can sin who is laughing that hard?

At this point in trying to establish this new religion, I should probably be talking about financial matters. Where you can send donations to the Church of Perpetual Quackers? Will there be t-shirts with religious slogans like, “You’re Driving Me Quackers!?” Do we still bring deviled eggs to church socials?

But I can’t talk about that right now… a duck is probably watching.

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