Atlas Shrugged: Midnight Train to Death, Part III

GrimReaper

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIIPulled by a coal-burning engine that's not designed for the poorly ventilated tunnel it's about to enter, the doomed train chugs upward into the mountains:Some of the passengers aboard the Comet were awake. As the train started its coiling ascent, they saw the small cluster of Winston's lights at the bottom of the darkness beyond their windows... A black veil went streaking past the windows at times, dimming the lights: it was the heavy smoke from … [Read more...]

The Torture Report is America’s National Shame

The Senate has released a massive report on the torture of terrorism suspects under the Bush administration, and it's as bad as many of us feared. We already knew some of the terrible things done in our name as Americans, but not the full extent. In fact, we still don't know the full extent, since what the Senate publicly released was a summary of an even longer, still-classified report.But even the redacted version is a catalogue of horrors. The Senate's investigation found that prisoners … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: The Mythical Golden Age of Religious Charity

My latest column is up on AlterNet, Do Right-Wing Christians Want People to be Destitute? It's about the conservative politicians who want to slash the social safety net, claiming they want to go back to a time when churches and private charity provided for everyone's needs, and the evidence showing that the actual effect of that policy would be to throw millions into destitution - and its backers not only know that, they're counting on it. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the … [Read more...]

Friday Night Music: Portugal The Man

Like Quiet Company, this is another of the bands I first heard about from Chris Stedman's atheist & agnostic music list. This uptempo, anthemic prog-rock song, from their 2013 album Evil Friends, was his #1 pick, and I find it hard to argue (although I have no idea what the video means): … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Midnight Train to Death, Part II

Tunnel

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIIStuck on a train in the middle of nowhere, Kip Chalmers is furious, and is inundating the head office with telegrams demanding that he be given transportation or else. In New York, James Taggart is woken out of bed late at night, and like any good boss, responds by spreading the misery around to his subordinates. The order goes down the chain, and a curt message is sent to the superintendent of the Colorado Division, Dave Mitchum:"Give an engine to … [Read more...]

The Suppression of Richard Dawkins

Following up on our little contretemps in September, Richard Dawkins has granted an interview to Kimberly Winston of Religion News Service about the remarks that have made him infamous to pro-social-justice atheists. And although he seems a bit chastened, he insists he has no regrets:"I don't take back anything that I've said," Dawkins said from a shady spot in the leafy backyard of one of his Bay Area supporters. "I would not say it again, however, because I am now accustomed to being … [Read more...]

#BlackLivesMatter: A New Civil Rights Movement

BlackLivesMatter

Just a few days after the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson unleashed fury in Ferguson, there's been another civil rights outrage in a nation that's weary of them. This time, it was the police killing of Eric Garner, a black man in Staten Island, allegedly for selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk.The circumstances of this are even less debatable than the Michael Brown shooting, since the entire encounter was captured on video. Garner wasn't violent; all he did was argue with the … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 7

• Creationists lose a lawsuit seeking to keep evolution out of public schools on the spurious grounds that it's "religious". It's worth noting that they've given up on demanding equal time for their own beliefs and are now just seeking to destroy science education.• This painfully appropriate headline says it all: Actual War on Black People Distracting from Fictional War on Christmas". And along the same lines, don't miss the magnificently righteous anger of my Patheos colleague … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Midnight Train to Death, Part I

NightTrain

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIIIn the previous installment, I wrote that we were approaching the most infamous scene in Atlas Shrugged. The scene that ends this chapter, more than any other, lays bare what Rand thinks of people who don't subscribe to her philosophy - and what she believes should happen to them because of it.But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, the setting: we're in the wilderness of Colorado, late at night, on a Taggart Transcontinental train that's climbing a … [Read more...]

“Choose Faith in Spite of the Facts”

As Lewis Black once said, "He smiles so much, I don't think he has a central nervous system."

I usually don't think it's worth beating up on the purveyors of popular evangelical feel-goodism, for the same reason I don't get in boxing matches with life-size Jell-O sculptures. But I had to make an exception for this tweet from human tooth-whitening strip Joel Osteen:The facts may tell you one thing. But, God is not limited by the facts. Choose faith in spite of the facts.— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) November 26, 2014Osteen is most famous for his surgically implanted smile … [Read more...]


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