Friday salmagundi

• Christianity Today praises a new state law in Kansas expanding religious exemptions due to “a sincerely held religious belief.” CT’s Melissa Steffan says the bill is similar to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

RFRA was passed to protect the freedom of religious minorities. Specifically, it was a response to a state law prohibiting the use of peyote in Native American religious rituals. Will the “religious liberty” laws recently passed by Kansas and Kentucky protect the rights of religious minorities the way RFRA was intended to? Will it protect the right of Native American religions to use peyote? The right of Rasta believers to use cannabis?

I will be very surprised if these new laws wind up protecting the rights of religious minorities and not just the privileges of the Christian majority. But even more surprised will be the religious tribalists who sponsored and voted for those bills.

Is this a form of religious discrimination?

• Kristen Rosser offers 10 categories of statements used to silence others — with an impressive, and uncomfortably familiar, set of examples for each.

• Baby steps. Baby steps.

• You gotta believe. Yogi Berra: still awesome.

• David Barton’s plan for universal health care: “Why didn’t we pass a bill calling on people to be more religious and therefore help health over all?”

Two out of three ain’t bad: Ed Stetzer (who posted the wonderful pic here) earns kudos for debunking two recent urban legends spread by the kinds of privileged Christians who enjoy fantasizing that they’re a persecuted minority. At the end of his Snopes-for-Southern-Baptists post, unfortunately, Stetzer mistakes the Christian Post for a credible source and winds up reinforcing a third such urban legend. (Hemant Mehta debunks that one neatly: “No, Christian Post, Mikey Weinstein Was Not Hired by the Pentagon.”)

• Prooftexters get confused when the question requires more than prooftexting. All questions require more than prooftexting.

• Interview fail: Out of Ur says:

How do Christians display courage and civility? We asked the author of Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce.

That would be Eric Metaxas — a guy who makes his living telling white evangelical Christians that they’re Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce and that, therefore, everyone who disagrees with them is a slave-owning Nazi. That’s not courageous or civil. Or true.

Or good, smart, edifying, helpful, or non-dickish.

If Out of Ur is going to interview Eric Metaxas about courage and civility, it should at least show some balance by also interviewing someone who isn’t out to destroy those very things.

•  This is what small-government conservatism looks like. And so is this. And this.

• Here’s Maine Gov. Paul LePage lying about wind energy:

Now, to add insult to injury, The University of Maine, Presque Isle — anybody here been up there to see that damn windmill in the back yard? Guess what, if it’s not blowing wind outside and they have somebody visiting the campus, they have a little electric motor that turns the blades. I’m serious. They have an electric motor so they can show people that wind power works. Unbelievable.

Not true. There is no “little electric motor.” Gov. LePage is just making stuff up.

The remarkable thing about this lie — apart from the absurdity of the claim and how easy it is to disprove — is the way LePage feigns exasperation over such “unbelievable” behavior.

That’s what separates the really skilled liars from the wanna-bes. It’s something I learned last year during the whole “You didn’t build that” extravaganza of dishonesty from the Romney campaign. Romney deliberately and painstakingly twisted Obama’s words into the opposite of what Obama actually said. And then Romney recoiled in horror and dismay that Obama ever said such a thing.

LePage is using the same maneuver. It’s not enough just to bear false witness and accuse others of things that aren’t true. To be a top-tier liar, you have to take the next step and express your disappointment that the neighbor against whom you’re bearing false witness has stooped to such disgraceful behavior.

• Teresa Nielsen Hayden links to this story with the only thing that needs to be said about it: “Lady, that’s the imprint of a Phillips head screw.”

Bonfire list update: Now at 1,409 blogs. Let me know of any I’m missing.

• Do the Math: The Movie

• Homeschoolers Anonymous. Because immersing your child in an alternate reality is unsustainable once that child encounters real reality.

 

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  • learningthrougherror

    If you’re still looking for Bonfire links, Fred, do you mind if I do some self-promotion? I recently started a tumblr devoted to old Christian textbooks.

    http://learningthrougherror.tumblr.com/

    Thanks for the opportunity, and now I’m going to run and hide because I’m shy.

  • AnonaMiss

    That turbine bit is hilarious, in a sad way. Strikes me as Napoleon’s course of action if he hadn’t been able to run Snowball off the farm.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Look, if those poors didn’t want cancer, they shouldn’t have been born in a toxic stew.

  • Vermic

    Can you imagine David Barton’s reaction if Barack Hussein Obama, secret Muslim, actually took his advice and gave a speech calling on Americans to be more religious? Far-right pundits would melt down so hard, it’d be visible from space.

    Now that I think about it, Obama really should do this. Done subtly enough, with just the right dogwhistles, it’d be the troll of the century.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.k.hetrick Dan Hetrick

    No, they’d probably come back with, “Obama was actually encouraging Muslims in this country to become more religious, institute Sharia, and blow all of us good, hard-working Christians up.”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Without a doubt. That’s exactly how they took “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

  • Carstonio

    When hundreds of officeholders reject policies supported by a majority of voters, simply because Obama also supports these policies, that doesn’t speak well for their emotional maturity. Or their courage. Or their principles.

    http://mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2013/05/01/main_line_times/news/doc5180f9ddb3dee859736381.txt?viewmode=fullstory

    “There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.”

    “The toughest thing to do in politics is to do the right thing when your supporters think the right thing is something else.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino
  • P J Evans

    I’d like to take LePage out into one of the big wind fields in California, and let him look at the hundred of turbines all around him, then ask him if he *really* thinks there’s a little motor driving each one. (Especially if it’s one of the days where 15-to-20 is the low end of the wind speed.)

  • Jenny Islander

    Our local electrical co-op just reported that because we were able to add a new wind farm to the existing hydroelectric dam, we are now producing 95 percent of our electricity without the need to buy fuel from off-island. Result: a projected delay of years before the next rate hike, even if the cost of fuel continues to rise. So, what, the little electrical motors inside the turbines are printing money?

  • http://commonplacebook.tumblr.com/ mattsaler

    Reading that goldfish story, I kept having to check that it wasn’t on The Onion. And now I may have a concussion from repeated facepalming.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    Trivia: BT Caberet used to be called T&A Caberet.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    As always I would like to remind everyone that 61% of Maine voters voted not-LePage. The problem is that Maine only requires a plurality (you need the most votes, not a majority) and the not-LePage votes were split by region. In some places not-LePage was equal to Cutler, a lesser asshole and independant, in some places not-LePage was equal to Mitchel, the Democrat who had some problems of her own. Add it all up and even though LePage lost to not-LePage either everywhere or nearly everywhere (I don’t remember which anymore) the not-LePage vote was split just right for 39% of the vote to be enough to elect LePage.

    It was fear of the same thing that is the reason the new Senator from Maine is Angus King instead of Chellie Pingree. King and Pingree would have split the “Not-LePagealike” vote and the Republican (LePagealike) would have won. So when King (independent former governor who is worse than Pingree but was better than the Republican) jumped in Pingree jumped out.

    Anyway, if you want to understand Maine politics right now the first thing you need to know is that LePage is an utter asshole. Even the local Republicans caught onto that eventually and had to smack down some of his bullshit policies. It’s not surprising that when he left the state to DEMAND that a member of the Cabinet do something that was both illegal and impossible the local response was to write her an open letter begging her to keep him out of state for as long as possible.

    Also, one last thing about LePage. As the run up to the election drew to a close LePage disappeared. He was there and then suddenly not. His campaign realized that the thing drawing it down more than anything else was LePage himself, when he opened his mouth his numbers went down. Sure enough his disappearance toward the end did cause a rebound in his numbers.

    It seems that the people who voted for him liked the idea of LePage more than LePage himself. As soon as LePage himself disappeared leaving only his name on the ballot, voting LePage got more palatable. Apparently.

    And this is the asshole running my state.

  • aunursa

    10 categories of statements used to silence others

    A good list.

    I’ve been told by atheists: “Deep down you know that there is no God.”
    And I’ve been told by Christians: “Deep down you know that Jesus is the Messiah.”

    And my response is either one is the same: “Deep down you know that you are not in a position to probe my innermost thoughts.”

  • JustoneK

    I concur. My initial snark response tends to be “Please, tell me more about myself!”
    sometimes “Will I meet a tall, dark stranger or a hot alien man who wants to whisk me away?”

  • Kristen Rosser

    I wish I had said one of those, the last time it happened to me.

    I’m very happy that my post was linked here and engendered such an interesting conversation!

  • Carstonio

    While both are inappropriate in principle, in practice the atheists have much less power to silence others because there are far fewer of them. It’s the distinction between a store clerk wishing a sectarian “Merry Christmas” to all customers, even the ones who belong to minority non-Christian ones, and the clerk wishing a nonsectarian “Happy Holidays” and the customers to belong to the Christian minority getting huffy about it.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    This interjection doesn’t seem appropriate. I may be reading it wrong, but it seems to be an attempt to diminish how insulting and inappropriate an atheist telling any religious person what they actually feel is. I don’t understand the example either; a store clerk wishing either of these to customers is more likely just imparting well wishes and at worse is speaking from the privilege of majority, not attempting to silence anyone of a different faith.

  • JustoneK

    On an even field, it would be. But there is a definite problem with christian supremacy, and atheists in general are part of that marginalized not-christian-enough group.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    No doubt, but that doesn’t turn “Merry Christmas” into an attempt intended to silence non-Christians or relegate “Deep down you know you don’t believe in any imaginary god” to be an acceptable statement. I don’t care if there’s only one atheist in a crowd of a million Christians, it’s still a jerkass thing to say.

  • Carstonio

    Of course it’s a jerkass statement, and I would never tell any Christian not to be offended by it. I just want Christians to understand that non-Christians face that kind of jerkass behavior all the time.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Yes, but that doesn’t make it any better. o.O It might be one thing if there were anyone in the group present who didn’t think they did, but as rebuttal toward a person of Jewish faith, it seems like a non sequitur with potentially unsavory interpretations.

  • Carstonio

    I can see how people who are Jewish would react equally to both of the inappropriate comments, because they’re likely to be targeted by both groups. Bad enough that there are entire denominations of Christianity (Southern Baptist, Latter-Day Saints) that still target them for conversion, so the anti-theist comment might seem like needless piling on.

  • aunursa

    Bad enough that there are entire denominations of Christianity (Southern Baptist, Latter-Day Saints) that still target them for conversion

    I distinguish between those who seek to convert all non-Christians, including Jews … and those who prioritize the conversion of Jews, who therefore specifically target Jews. I’m more irritated by the existence of the latter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    Completely off-topic, I sometimes go about in mid-September wishing folks “Happy Holidays!” It amuses the Jews and bewilders the goyim.

  • aunursa

    You can wish “Happy Holidays” almost any time of year, as Jewish holidays fill almost every month of the calendar. Last Sunday was Lag B’Omer, and Shavuot begins on May 14th.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    Yes, I know. And indeed, the entire period of the Omer can count as a holiday, if one is in the mood.

    But at least the way I was raised, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the period between them are more significant than, say, Lag B’Omer or Tisha B’av or Purim. (Or even Hanukah, though that one gets an artificial popularity boost due to Christmas.)

    Of course, there are plenty of Christian holidays that aren’t in December, also.

  • Carstonio

    No disagreement that both comments that Aunursa described are insulting and inappropriate. To explain the context of my point, society as a whole is far less tolerant of such comments when they come from atheists or from other non-Christians. And comments by non-Christians about Christianity are far more likely to be perceived as inappropriate and insulting than comments by Christians about non-Christian religions. The latter is no different from feminists or black activists being accused of being angry or strident.

    That was the point of my store clerk example. The intentions behind the one saying “Merry Christmas” don’t matter – the effect is still an otherizing of non-Christian positions on religion and their adherents.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I guess I’m just far less concerned with the person and their individual or collective as I am the message itself. I have a tendency to get into situations where I’m defending both sides of a religious argument that way. :p

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Was holding my tongue because you seemed to be talking about aunursa – but now that you’re making it general, can I once again take a moment to point out that you’re generalising from America to the rest of the world?

    I am in Australia, and, as such, am not in a privileged position because of my Christianity. Over here, my atheist friends will rarely if ever hear “Deep down you know that Jesus is God”; those of us who are Christian will regularly hear “Surely you don’t believe that rubbish?” – and not just from internet trolls, but from people in our daily life.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Actually, you still are. The de facto secularized-Christian holidays are probably enshrined in your federal or state statutory holiday acts, and your society is still influenced by Christian religious beliefs and traits.

    Canada is similar: you might not be *as* discriminated against due to atheism, but the statutory holidays here include the major Christian ones and none of the Jewish or Muslim ones. Also, until recently in my province it was de facto accepted that teachers in secular schools could lead students in prayer.

    I would also say that if you were to dig into how adoptions of children are handled, people who profess a broad mainstream religious faith often get a bit of a ‘leg up’ in getting first call on a child.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    In practice, the silencing power I have as an X is a function of how powerful Xes are in my community. I hang out in normatively atheist communities where I can easily silence religious expression, for example.

    I do agree, though, that such communities are much rarer than analogous sectarian communities, and those global power differentials affect my judgments about how much support the community itself should get when it chooses to silence people who violate its expressive norms.

    None of that changes the fact that it’s fucking rude of me to tell anyone what they “know deep down” as a way of rejecting what they are telling me.

  • Carstonio

    Very true. My point is about power imbalances, and yes, a non-atheist can be silenced in a mostly atheist community.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Heck, atheists can be silenced in an atheist community. Just take a stroll into hardcore rationalist territory and suggest that there might be a case to be made for telepathy.

    It goes down exactly as well as a Republican suggesting that undocumented foreigners are vital to the nation’s economy.

  • Carstonio

    I’m an atheism sympathizer rather than an atheist, since I hold no position on whether gods exist. I’ve had my own unpleasant feedback in atheist communities. When I’ve suggested that lack of belief that gods exist is also a lack of belief that gods don’t exist, or pointed out that demagogues like Dobson are a minority among US Christians, I’ve been accused of being an apologist for religion.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Likewise. I consider the truth (behind most religions) irrelevant as subjective experience is the only means by which I can measure their veracity, and my subjective experience is lacking in anything to show whether my believing in the Abrahamic God or Christ made the slightest difference in my life. So I lean toward “no” but my official position is “meh.”

    Nonetheless, I’m willing to bet Helena and J- have particular opinions about my failure to shout down all you gullible sheep who believe in Santa Claus, yadda yadda.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s what still bothers me about Chris Hedges trying to equate “militant atheism” with “Christian fundamentalism” in his books.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Usually when I hear this comparison, it’s someone insisting that atheism is a religion. I used to do it too, so I’m not above criticism, but nowadays I realize how annoying and presumptuous it is. I can see similarities in the attitude and raging tribalism though. A number of atheists treat religious people the exact same way fundamentalists treat “the unsaved” — with a combination of determined proselytization and class condemnation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.k.hetrick Dan Hetrick

    I got ran out of a store and threatened for explaining the Mithras story (and why the whole “war on chirstmas” thing was BS) to a friend of mine, in a quiet voice. I was kicked out of the store, and had my life threatened. This was in MIchigan. Anti-non-christian bias is far more of a problem in this country than the reverse.

    It always amuses me when Christians threaten to kill me, or beat me. I point out that the Old Testament prohibits murder, and that Christian theology prohibits violence against, well, anybody. Not that it does any good, it just seems to make them madder. I wish I could say that it only happened once or twice, but then again, I have a problem with authority, and it’s happened multiple times throughout my life.

    I’m glad that I left the Church. I’m much happier as a Hare Krishna.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Heh, my parents yelled at me by proxy for atheists waging war on Christmas — despite the fact that they are atheists. I’d say it made relative sense since they were using a “don’t rock the boat” style of argument (“It’s always been this way, so why do some people have to ruin everything for people?”), but they then went on less than 10 minutes later to declare that religious people should just be shot and how great it would be if being Christian were a crime punishable by vigilante death, so I guess they’re not afraid to sink the whole damned ship when it suits them.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    WTF? Your folks sound like they swing from one unacceptable extreme to the other, without bothering to stop anywhere along the spectrum of acceptable opinion.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Yeah. There’s a reason I haven’t been keen to visit home since I moved across the country, and my brief visit there last week was… less than pleasant. Lot of uncomfortable moments. The worst one was when they tried to insist that one day I would appreciate white people a lot more after I realized how much everyone else sucks.

  • Magic_Cracker

    The best snappy answer to a stupid question I have ever pulled off was a street preacher asking me “Look into your heart. What do you see?”

    “Lots of blood.”

  • Trixie_Belden

    Oh, that’s excellent! I may steal it, should the opportunity present itself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30319652 Tim Lehnerer

    I had a coworker say he was praying for me today (pretty much entirely out of the blue). I just told him “Good luck” and didn’t continue the conversation.

  • ReverendRef

    I was at our diocesan clergy conference earlier this week. One of the presenters had a great answer for the, “Are you saved?” question.

    “When someone approaches me and says, ‘Are you saved?’ I take two steps back and reply, “Well, I’m feeling much safer now. And if you take a few steps back, I’m sure I’ll be saved.”

    That may not have the same impact here, but at the conference it resulted in a good laugh.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    “Are you saved?”

    “Yes, I made a backup last night.”

  • j_bird

    My favorite is:

    A: Have you found Jesus?
    B: No, have you?

    A: Yes, and I can help you begin—

    B: Well give him back already, he’s been missing for weeks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    I took summer classes at a local Jesuit college in high school, so I had lots of opportunity to experiment with this sort of thing. My preferred response to “Do you love God?” was “Yes, but we’ve agreed to see other people,” to “Have you found God?” was “Oh shit, is He lost again? Here, God God God God…” and to “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior?” was “No.”

  • Magic_Cracker

    Another fun approach to the “Have you accepted Jesus Christ…” or “Have you heard about Jesus…” etc. approach is to pretend to be totally completely ignorant of everything about Christianity, the Bible, etc.

    “Jesus? Who’s Jesus?”
    “The Son of God!”
    “Which God?”
    “THE God! Of the Israelites!”
    “Who were the Israelites?”
    etc. etc.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    “How do you get to Israel without falling over the edge?!”

  • Magic_Cracker

    “Wait, you mean Pharaoh gave them jobs, food and shelter, and they walked away from all that?”

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    When someone asks me if I have found Jesus, I do actually answer “I didn’t know that he was lost.”

  • ohiolibrarian

    Or of course, the ever popular:

    Q: Have you found Jesus?

    A: Did you lose him? (or variants thereof)

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    He was behind the sofa the whole time!

  • P J Evans

    When the JWs would come by the laundromat, my roommate would stop them with something like ‘I’m a druid’. Which is also pretty close to the one I met as a freshman in college: since it’s none of their business what religion you are (it was a state school), tell them something like ‘Olympian Zeus’.

  • ReverendRef

    When the JWs would come by the laundromat, my roommate would stop them with something like ‘I’m a druid’.

    Damn . . . I need to remember to do that when I’m wearing my collar.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I know a guy who wore a collar… as a pagan priest. He has since quit that vocation (a combination of demands on his time and personal doubts) but his day job both then and now was working at company that made things like pillows and comforters. Occasionally their material suppliers would send them free stuff that the supplier makes, like a few bundles of high quality ropes made from the same fibers as the pillow cases.

    Anyway, this guy was driving across the Canadian boarder at one point, and is stopped at a customs checkpoint. He is wearing his priest collar during this drive and had a bunch of those sample ropes in the rear of his hatchback. The customs inspector did the usual thing of looking in the back of the car, and saw the ropes there, and asked him, “Oh, are you into rock climbing?”

    My friend straight-faced replied, “No, I’m a bondage freak.”

    The customs inspector decided to shut up and rush him through the rest of the process.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Could’ve gone badly for him if the Customs inspector wanted to make something of it. Customs officers generally seem to have a hard-on for being fascist turds in their little mini-kingdoms.

  • Madhabmatics

    Wouldn’t work, a lot of the neo-druid orgs accept Christians. After a few months they’d figure it out and start asking whether you were an evangelical or a lutheran druid!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I’ve been told by atheists: “Deep down you know that there is no God.”
    And I’ve been told by Christians: “Deep down you know that Jesus is the Messiah.”

    They say that the zen mind is the beginner’s mind. The only way to gain wisdom is to know that deep down, you know nothing. All other knowledge is built on top of this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    “I’m not aware of too many things.
    I know what I know, if you know what I mean.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    “I’m not aware of too many things.
    I know what I know, if you know what I mean.”

  • Jamoche

    “you know nothing”

    Jon Snow: zen master of Westeros.

  • ngotts

    “The only way to gain wisdom is to know that deep down, you know nothing.”

    How do you think you know that?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    “I think the only way to gain wisdom is to know that deep down, you know nothing… but I’m not sure.”

  • CharityB

    You should ask them where you forgot your car keys. If they can scan your subconscious like that, it should be a piece of cake.

  • P J Evans

    It would certainly be an improvement over walking around saying ‘Here, keys! Here, keys!’

  • Mark Z.

    Chuang Tzu and his friend were walking by a lake, and Chuang Tzu pointed to a fish, and said “See that guy, just swimming around in the lake? That’s the good life, for a fish. That’s what makes them truly happy.”

    His friend replied, “How do you know what makes fish happy? You’re not a fish!”

    Chuang Tzu answered, “How do you know if I know what makes fish happy? You’re not me!”

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    The atheists are being assholes about it but do have a point in that people behave in their ordinary lives as if they did not actually believe in God.
    -They use medicine, not prayer.
    -They act with conscious self-preservation, not trusting their lives to God.
    -They do not spend their every moment afraid of any action which could possibly be a ‘sin’, a rational response to the prospect of eternal punishment.
    -They would consider insane someone who claims God spoke to them, especially if ordered by the divine to kill, in spite of such communications being seemingly commonplace in their holy scripture.

    It is not necessary to probe your thoughts when your actions speak so openly.

  • Kirala

    Wait, really? You think those points are evidence that people don’t believe God exists?

    -They use medicine, not prayer.

    Medicine AND prayer, with most believers – and more with the following point…

    -They act with conscious self-preservation, not trusting their lives to God.

    “Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to the test.” There are times in the Bible where God gets ticked off with people for not making good use of the resources He has already provided, whether through natural or supernatural means. That said, a lot of believers quite consciously work to trust more in God and less in themselves-over-God.

    -They
    do not spend their every moment afraid of any action which could
    possibly be a ‘sin’, a rational response to the prospect of eternal
    punishment.

    Christianity believes we covered by grace for pretty much every contingency, at least theoretically. There are some very warped theologies that act as though salvation were losable at the drop of a hat, as though Christ’s sacrifice were extremely limited in efficacy, but the case for an angry God in the New Testament is hard to make. The only wrath I recall seeing directly from God (well, apart from Revelation, but who understands that?) was against those who tried to use His name for their benefit while pursuing their own ends. And even then, the objects of wrath – the money-changers, the Pharisees, the scribes and lawyers, Ananias and Sapphira – are nowhere expressly consigned to hell. Christ’s blood is still presumably sufficient covering for any who seek it.

    I’m pretty sure Jewish theology doesn’t accept your premises for that statement, either, but I’m not well-versed in Jewish theology.

    -They would consider insane someone who claims God spoke
    to them, especially if ordered by the divine to kill, in spite of such
    communications being seemingly commonplace in their holy scripture.

    This is a couple different statements, but I know plenty of people who regularly claim God speaks to them and we don’t consider them insane. God speaks to me at times.

    But the statement you’re implying is “God speaking with a message that seems contrary to our morals.” The Bible regularly warns that we need to test prophecy to see if it’s consistent with God’s character. I would find it consistent with God’s character to tell Dietrich Bonhoeffer to kill Hitler; I would not find it consistent with God’s character to tell Joe to off Jill because she’s a [insert negative term of your choice here].

    ****

    So if your list is meant to be an indictment of the majority of Christianity as “deep down, you don’t really believe,” then I’m confused by a lack of congruence with the reality I’ve experienced. But am I misreading? Are you referring to a specific real or hypothetical Christian who regularly neglects prayer, relies only on zirself for strength and guidance, lives with a total lack of fear of moral consequence of any kind, and scoffs at the idea of God speaking? I would agree that this specific “Christian” would probably not believe – but I have a hard time imagining such a person placing much stake in the name “Christian” or “believer” to begin with. The ugly hypocrite “Christian” usually spends an awful lot of time in prayer, avoiding hellfire, and claiming God speaks to them.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Great response. Wasn’t expecting so many words.

    Nah, just saying there’s a bit more to believers not always acting like they really believe to atheists believing in god deep down, as one could provide admittedly weak evidence to the former, while the other is entirely untestable.

    BTW, doesn’t prayer sort of imply a non-omniscient god? I usually know what my loved ones want without them asking; I’d expect the divine to be somewhat better at it. This is very much a cognitive bias on my account, as I have a extremely strong mental block against asking for things rather than giving VERY STRONG implications to people that they should ask me what I need.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Great response. Wasn’t expecting so many words.

    Nah, just saying there’s a bit more to believers not always acting like they really believe to atheists believing in god deep down, as one could provide admittedly weak evidence to the former, while the other is entirely untestable.

    BTW, doesn’t prayer sort of imply a non-omniscient god? I usually know what my loved ones want without them asking; I’d expect the divine to be somewhat better at it. This is very much a cognitive bias on my account, as I have a extremely strong mental block against asking for things rather than giving VERY STRONG implications to people that they should ask me what I need.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    BTW, doesn’t prayer sort of imply a non-omniscient god? I usually know what my loved ones want without them asking;

    Only if you assume the point of prayer is to inform God about what you want Him to do.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The easiest explanation for all of that is that their interpretation of their god (not necessarily even a Christian god) is completely unlike the one you have described, or that their religion enshrines modern thought and attitude. It would be foolhardy to try and hold, say, a Neo-Pagan to the standards of Old Testament Christianity beliefs.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    After comparing the Bible to an owner’s manual for a car, Barton said
    that “the more religious you are, the better your health is” and
    suggested that instead of passing health care reform legislation,
    Congress should have passed legislation “calling on people to be more
    religious”:

    If this is seriously the sum total of the man’s proposed solution to the problem of providing health care to everyone in the USA – I can only say…

    Wow. Just wow. (O_O)

  • Madhabmatics

    You know, a hundred years ago I could have made a really funny joke about how sure, we’ll be more religious, and then we will ban alcohol and terrified all the Christians, but now evangelicals have stolen teetotalling from us. You can’t have a “The Flying Inn” in 2013 :(

  • AnonaMiss

    Prohibition was enacted in the US almost a hundred years ago, and it wasn’t the Muslims who pushed it through congress. You’d have to go back way more than a hundred years to find a time when Christians would be terrified by that thought.

    /nitpick

  • Madhabmatics

    Give me a few days to declare Prohibition as cultural appropriation

  • Valancy Jane

    If evangelicals (and Catholics for that matter) *could* force everybody to at least go along with the motions of pretending to be Christian, they’d do it. Barton would LOVE it if government endorsed a religion and pushed it onto people. It’s the entire thrust of his writing and speeches. It’s downright revolting how straightforward they are about demanding privilege and power over others.

  • chocolate covered cotton

    Now I’m having a great time imagining if a car repair manual were written like the bible. Picture a gaggle of mechanics standing around a car with the hood raised, each with differing opinions about which section of the manual applies, how each direction is to be intrepreted, whether the solution lies in Transmission 4:17 or Engine Management 2:12 and whether one can truly ignore the implications of Brakes 6:34, then someone points out that the wording and illustrations have been superceded by a later edition, and can a Haynes or Chilton’s manual truly substitute for the original manufacturer’s Dealer Service Manual? And all of them thanking God that they’re paid by the hour.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    And the blessed molybdenum tools which are frequently stolen by gremlins… </nerd>

  • P J Evans

    That’s how my father ended up with three glass-cutters. (One was in his tools, one was in the shop, still on the card, and one was buried in the shavings under the bench saw out in Arthur.)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    XD I was actually referencing a webgame called Kingdom of Loathing. There’s a quest in which you have to retrieve molybdenum tools from gremlins for a mechanic. Subsequent visits to the area offer the NPC text, “Do you want a little chocolate-covered cotton to munch on while you wait? No? Okay, then. See you later.”

  • P J Evans

    I know people who had a resident gremlin. If they needed to find something that the gremlin was sitting on, they needed two people to look at the same time, because the gremlin could only hide it from one person at a time.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It’s a well-known fact that the laws of physics will rewrite themselves to produce either disaster or a successful conclusion to an experiment, depending on the number of viewers present and the words leading up to the attempt.

    “This is impossible. Watch!” produces a result that an untrained child can replicate.

    “I’ve done this a million times. Watch!” will be followed by a trip to the emergency room.

  • P J Evans

    *snerk*
    Murphy has a strange sense of humor.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    “Murphy never sleeps” is what my father likes to say.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    http://www.openculture.com/2011/10/sir_ian_mckellen_reads_manual_for_changing_tires_in_dramatic_voice.html

    If we got services like that out of the bargain, it would all be worth it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Not true. There is no “little electric motor.” Gov. LePage is just making stuff up.

    To be absolutely fair to LePage, there is a little electric motor in a wind generator. The problem is that he has the function of the motor completely backward. And I mean that literally. A dynamo is the basis of virtually all electrical generators and motors, converting between kinetic energy and electrical energy and vice-versa, respectively. If you were to run a substantial current into the wind generator in the opposite direction the circuit normally runs, it would literally turn the turbine the opposite direction it normally runs (or try to, I am guessing most turbines have a break so they only turn one direction.)

    His problem (if he is not indeed plausibly lying as Fred suggests) is that he does not seem to understand the direction the current is running here. Hell, hydro-electrical dams, nuclear reactors, or even coal plants run on the same principal (driving a turbine by some kind of kinetic force like water or steam.) How does he think those things generate electric power, and why should wind-driven versions of it be any different? This is high-school level science and physics. Did this guy ever even graduate?

  • Carstonio

    If LePaul really does believe that wind turbines are a hoax, what would he see as the motive behind it? Public image? Government grants? Either would probably be negated by the cost of electricity to artificially turn the turbines.

  • P J Evans

    I know that, and you know that, but LePage apparently doesn’t understand what a ‘generator’ actually is. And, far worse, doesn’t want to know.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    FUCKING MAGNETS HOW DO THEY WORK

    When magnetism is treated as almost black magic by a large portion of the populace I’m really not surprised that the linkage between electricity and magnetism isn’t understood very well in those same people.

  • Jamoche

    Some people’s Clarke’s Law threshold is astoundingly low.

  • Jenny Islander

    Somebody once wrote a dystopia in which the U.S. was being run into the ground by an unholy alliance of loopy New Age types and the kind of “environmentally conscious” person whose “green” opinions never go deeper than “house bad, tree pretty.” There was also a developing ice age. There had been a fledgling space colonization effort, but the government had managed to get people to riot and smash every bit of their on-planet infrastructure, marooning them up there, on the grounds that their annual trips to scoop up a tankful of Earth’s upper atmosphere with two space planes had caused global cooling.

    I thought it was a bit hard to believe when I first read it. Now I think the authors were being too kind. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fundamentalist Christian, a libertarian, or a member of Earth First: if you start with the premise that science = magic, you’ll believe all kinds of foolery.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    You’re thinking of Fallen Angels.

  • P J Evans

    I will say that it isn’t easy to understand without a lot more time in math and science than most people are wiling to give it.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    If that is the case, their threshold for giving up on comprehension of this is disturbingly low. Like I said, this is high-school level stuff. Sure, you need a good grasp of math if you want to actually engineer something like this, but only a rudimentary knowledge of electromagnetism to grasp the principal on which such devices operate.

    Short version: you move a magnet near a conductor (like common copper wire) it generates an electric current in the conductor. Conversely, you run a current through the conductor and it will cause a nearby magnet to move. If you put a freely-rotating magnet inside a coil of wire, you get an electric generator / electric motor. If you do something that spins the magnet in place, it produces electric power. If you instead run a bunch of electric power through the coil of wire, it makes the magnet spin.

  • DorothyD

    A demo is probably better than a verbal explanation. This is a fairly good (if a bit dull) one which conveys the basic concepts.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Everyone knows wind turbines run on Flower power!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImK9FISwSPY

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Thank you, that was beautiful.

    My grandfather sometimes asks me what the “point” of a given video game might be. Sometimes I struggle to explain that to him (which is kind of his goal, he is not being curmudgeonly so much as he is an old English professor who likes to push young people to be descriptive and clear.) In the case of games like Flower, I might liken the “point” of the game as being akin to the “point” of music, it exists as a creative exercise by the author as an experience for the audience.

  • ReverendRef

    Ed Stetzer (who posted the wonderful pic here) earns kudos for debunking
    two recent urban legends spread by the kinds of privileged Christians
    who enjoy fantasizing that they’re a persecuted minority.

    Along those lines . . . I have a parishioner who is constantly sending me hysterical satanic baby killing muslim president stuff. Normally I will go to the work to snopes it out (so to speak), send her the link and explain that, no, the president is not going to put a chip in your brain forcing you to marry gay men.

    I must have had a bad day last week, because I simply sent her a reply that said, “Dear L, please remove me from your e-mail list. I no longer wish to receive untrue and paranoid claims like these. Thank you.”

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    “Dear L, please remove me from your e-mail list. I no longer wish to
    receive untrue and paranoid claims like these. Thank you.”

    If that’s you on a bad day, then you must be a real sweetheart.

  • Lori

    Indeed. Anything nicer than “Stop sending me is idiot crap” is nicer than those right wing email deserve. I can’t get my dad to stop sending them to me so I just don’t open them any more.

  • ReverendRef

    If that’s you on a bad day, then you must be a real sweetheart.

    Yeah, well . . . the priest can’t exactly tell his parishioners, “Bugger off!!”

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Yeah, I suppose you’d need a bit of a promotion to pull that off.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xnx-Wcltsbs

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I have to admit I wondered who Lord SMS Tone was.

  • Carstonio

    The BT Cabaret sign reminds me that in my travels, the areas with the most adult establishments also seem to be the ones with the most fundamentalist and Tea Party billboards. Free admission with a church bulletin? Imagine a church in the same neighborhood holding a dinner and offering a free meal with a BT Cabaret admission ticket.

  • Lori

    In case anyone didn’t catch the news—-Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed Rhode Island’s marriage equality law today, officially making RI the 10th state to deem equality before the law more important than enshrining bigotry. That means that all of New England now has marriage equality.

  • Wednesday

    Awesome!

    Here’s hoping Minnesota follows suite in the next few weeks.

  • Lori

    I’m not sure what the betting line is on which state will be 11th. Last I heard folks seemed to expect it to be Delaware, but Minnesota and Illinois are also in the running. It’s nice to watch a bit of a band wagon effect for something positive for a change, as opposed to crap like states trying to one up each other in how shitty they can be to women.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    “Lady, that’s the imprint of a Phillips head screw.”

    Obviously it’s a sign that God is screwing with her.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    The worst bit about that goldfish story is that the reporters apparently could not find a single person who could explain the significance of the fish symbol to Christianity! How many Christians have that symbol on their cars?

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I had someone tell me once that they thought that “ichthys” was Greek for “Jesus”. It blew her mind when I told her that the Greek for “Jesus” is “Jesus,” and “ichthys” is the Greek for “fish.”

  • Chris Young

    And then you have to explain how the Greeks and Romans loved acrostics and wrote them on walls all the time, so that “Iesos CHristos THeou hYios Soter” might look a bit clunky to you or me, but it was exactly the sort of thing that would come naturally to early Christians looking for a coded badge. And by the time you’ve gone through all that, with a bit of luck she’s gone away.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Isn’t the obvious–and also true–explanation Jesus’s line to his fisherman apostles that “come with me and I will make you fishers of men”?

  • Kirala

    That too. Also, the graphic was really easy to copy. Also, loaves and fishes. It worked on a number of levels. The cross, not so much. There’s a reason it didn’t catch on till crucifixion stopped being widely used…

    But I’ve always heard that the fish was a combination of the fishermen and the ICHTHYS acrostic.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Some who have been pushing the federal government to spend less on health care say this is not the right approach.

    “I don’t think there was an intention to disrupt care or move it into
    a more expensive setting,” said Cathy Schoen, senior vice president of
    the Commonwealth Fund, which recently released a plan for cutting $2 trillion in health spending. “If that’s the case, we’re being penny-wise and a pound-foolish with these cuts.”

    I swear to god, people like this–

    (>_<)B Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  • Jenny Islander

    So does the Commonwealth Fund think people are just frivolously traipsing into clinics hither and yon for dialysis? Absent-mindedly developing cancer? Where the blazing blue hell did they think the cuts were going to come from?

    Do these people even understand that folks without the long list of options available to chancellors of this and chairmen of that (seriously, Google them, the board of directors is probably worth a cool quarter billion all told) already voluntarily don’t go in unless things have gotten life-threatening? Do they realize that if they actually want “high performance health care,” it would save a hell of a lot of money if they made it possible for people to go in the day they felt the pain instead of gambling that it was nothing and coming up snake eyes?

    Look up their Wiki page. They talk a good game about appropriate care and availability and this and that, but then they congratulate themselves for meeting the needs of “low income, uninsured, and other minority populations.”

    If you intend to meet the needs of people who will never in their lives make as much as you made last year, perhaps you should first find out how many people live outside your cushy comfort zone.

    “Minority populations.” I don’t often cuss, but holy shit.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    SIngle-payer health insurance would fix a lot of those problems, too. :(

  • Lori

    I have a very dear friend who was diagnosed 14 months ago, which obviously resulted in him paying a higher insurance premium. Six months ago he moved to a new house and his new address resulted in his premiums going up again. His monthly insurance payment is now nearly as high as my rent was when I lived in LA and higher than most people here in Nowheresville pay for their mortgages.

    We rarely talk about it because a conversation between a person paying way the hell too much for insurance he simply can’t be without talking to a person who is uninsured because the only coverage she could get was more than she could afford and basically covered nothing is way too depressing.

    IOW, yes we need single payer.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I thought Obamacare banned some of those practices wrt premiums?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not all of the Obamacare provisions have kicked in yet, and I don’t know the timetable, so it may be legal for the moment.

  • Lori

    As of next January you can’t be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, but there’s no rule that says that insurance companies can’t charge more for people who are higher risk. I don’t know about the issue of charging people more based on where they live. It seems like that ought to be illegal, which means it’s almost certainly not.

  • P J Evans

    The insurance companies seem to be going for the maximum they can collect now, so they can claim it’s the going rate next year, when regulation (even if weak) kicks in.


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