Category Archives: Christianity

Pope-Counter Pope

Pope Benedict XVI (you know, the guy that thinks he is the only true pope) is currently in the middle of an Africa-wide tour. On his first day in the AIDS-ravished country of Cameroon he made the following statement:

“It (AIDS) cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.”

As a counter-point I, Pope Iason Ouabache the Skeptical make this statement:

“Automobile accidents cannot be overcome by the mandating of seatbelts in all cars. On the contrary, they increase the problem. Sure, the statistics show that traffic fatalities have gone down worldwide since the seatbelts have become wide spread. But we believe that the best way to prevent these deaths is to tell people to not drive at all. Or you may obtain a specialized license from the Holy Church of the Skeptic after you swear to never ever drive dangerously.”

The other pope is currently unavailable for comment.

Fundie Telephone Game

And now I shall present to you a dramatic reading that I have entitled Fundie Telephone Game. Please enjoy.

CONGRESS: Hey! Because of that whole church/state thing colleges can’t use bailout money to repair any religious building. LOL, SORRY!

Jay Sekulow, ACLJ: ZOMG!!1 Congress is totally discriminating against Christians. Religious organizations deserve the right to use those buildings. You can’t take that away from them!!


OneNewsNow (while lashing self): Persecution!!!

CONGRESS: Hai, guyz! Did you even read the thing?

Sen. James DeMint: Democrats hate Christianity and eat babbys!

CONGRESS: I thought you was one of us…


CONGRESS: *facepalm*

And scene!

Summum Trolls the Supreme Court

(Cross post from ChaoSkeptic:

Some time later on this spring the Supreme Court of the United States will hear the rather interesting case of Pleasant Grove City (Utah) vs. Summum. For those who have never heard of Summum, they are a religious group based in Salt Lake City founded by a man named “Corky” Ra. It’s sort of Gnosticism meets Mormonism meets Scientology. Weird but mostly harmless.

Back in 2003 they petitioned the government of Pleasant Grove, Utah to ask if they could erect a monument to their “Seven Aphorisms of Summum” next to a thirty year old monument of the Ten Commandments in the city park. The city, of course, said no and Corky, of course, filed a law suit saying that his free speech rights had been violated. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit agreed with Corky, stating that since the park is a public forum and that the Ten Commandment monument was private speech from the original donor Corky is allowed to erect his monument. The city appealed it to the highest court in the land which that brings us around to today.

Interestingly enough, Pleasant Grove is being represented by Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law & Justice, a right wing Christian group that has often fights against the separation of church and state. I say interesting because the ACLJ is going against their usual argument that religious groups should have equal access to public property. They are actually arguing that the original Ten Commandments monument government speech rather than private speech and that the park isn’t a public forum. This means if they win there would be a precendent in the legal system saying that monuments on public property is government speech and every single Ten Commandments monument in America would be subject to removal.

However, if Summum wins it could also be a huge win for all minority religions and irreligions. All public property that currently has a religious monument on it could be considered an open forums that would have to accept almost any religious monument. Discordians could argument for a monument to the Law of Fives. The Pastafarians could argue for even more Flying Spaghetti Monster statues. Atheist could ask for a monument to… um… nothing? It would be just like the chaos in the Washington state capitol last December times several thousand. Sounds like a great idea for a GASM to me.

While everyone is concentrating on Obama’s “crazy pastor”

I decided to do some digging into another candidate’s odd religious links. I’m sorry, but hysteria bores me unless it is very funny, and all the Rev. Wright drama is showing is how out of touch white America is with black America, and how some conspiracy theories are pefectly acceptable for the media to believe in and accept, but others are not.

I think McCain’s religious links are fairly well known, if contested in what they signify, so instead I decided to look into Hillary Clinton who, aside from her Bosnia sniper lies has kept a relatively low fuck-up profile of late.

And that’s why I find so much of this interesting, because while it is being reported on the fringe news sites, it doesn’t seem to have translated over into a general media concern. Not yet, at least.

I am talking, if you hadn’t already guessed, of The Family, the strange religious group to which Hillary Clinton belongs. Very strange, given almost all of their members are part of the religious right, especially on Capitol Hill, where the sort of people who tend to belong to the Family (or Fellowship, they like to play fast and loose with names) include people like Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, most famously known in the UK for denying evolution during one of the Republican Presidential nominee debates.

So yeah, we’re not exactly talking Methodists here.

But there is much more to the Family than a prayer group for Christians in DC. Much, much more. As Mother Jones goes on to explain, The Family is built along:

sex-segregated cells of political, business, and military leaders dedicated to “spiritual war” on behalf of Christ, many of them recruited at the Fellowship’s only public event, the annual National Prayer Breakfast. (Aside from the breakfast, the group has “made a fetish of being invisible,” former Republican Senator William Armstrong has said.) The Fellowship believes that the elite win power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission is to help the powerful understand their role in God’s plan.

Starting to feel a little worried?

You should be, because The Family not only says it wants to do these things, like so many groups of religious nutters, but it apparently has the means as well. In 1978 it secretly helped the Carter Administration organize a worldwide call to prayer with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and in 2001 it brought together the warring leaders of Congo and Rwanda for a clandestine meeting, leading to the two sides’ eventual peace accord last July. But its power is not simply limited to waging peace. It also helped the US government forge relationships with Africa’s brutal postcolonial dictators in the 60s, not to mention Brazil and Indonesia’s anti-Communist military dictatorships.

As you’ve probably realized, at least during the Cold War, the aim would seem to be in building an anti-Communist coalition among the Third World, no matter the cost in money or lives. Suharto killed hundreds of thousands of supposed Communists, and I couldn’t even begin to try and fathom how many were lost in Africa.

So…Christian and dedicated to anti-Communism, but with a decidedly Realist streak of cynicism when it comes to power politics. A question for the political science students: who does this sound like? If you said Reinhold Niebuhr, then give yourself a cookie. Niebuhr is considered among the pre-eminent early Realists. And just so happens that he is a favourite of one-time Goldwater gal Hillary Clinton, who learnt of his teachings under the leadership of Reverend Don Jones, shortly before she joined the Republican party.

I do this to illustrate that despite Clinton’s apparent apathy towards religion except as a tool of power, there are links between her early life and the thinking of the Family, and that this should not just be dismissed by appeals to “triangulation” or cynical politicking.

You shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking the Family is entirely part of the Religious Right either. They probably hate secular Democrats as much as any on the Religious Right do, but if someone is a Democrat and a Christian, they are more than willing to embrace them. Because their mission is a higher calling, they are here to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

One of the more well known members on Capitol Hill is David Coe. Here is a quote of a talk he was giving to, what he thought, was just a cell of Family members, but also included an undercover Harpers reporter:

You guys know about Genghis Khan?” he asked. “Genghis was a man with a vision. He conquered”—David stood on the couch under the map, tracing, with his hand, half the northern hemisphere—“nearly everything. He devastated nearly everything. His enemies? He beheaded them.” David swiped a finger across his throat. “Dop, dop, dop, dop.”

David explained that when Genghis entered a defeated city he would call in the local headman and have him stuffed into a crate. Over the crate would be spread a tablecloth, and on the tablecloth would be spread a wonderful meal. “And then, while the man suffocated, Genghis ate, and he didn’t even hear the man’s screams.” David still stood on the couch, a finger in the air. “Do you know what that means?” He was thinking of Christ’s parable of the wineskins. “You can’t pour new into old,” David said, returning to his chair. “We elect our leaders. Jesus elects his.”

Exactly. Chew on the implications of that for a while.

John Gray kicks up a storm at Comment is Free

While some of you may remember that I was not totally impressed with the conclusion to John Gray’s book, Black Mass, I nevertheless found it a good and enjoyable read, which tied up the links between utopianism, religion, the Enlightenment and secular extremist movements rather well. Gray’s got a lot of perspective in his worldview, which I like. He instinctively understands both the historical context of the movements and how that applies when considered in the current context of events.

Which is why I am enjoying his book review/Comment is Free article. Gray committed the hideous crime of knocking down a few New Atheist sacred cows, and so the usual suspects have come running, howling and moaning with their usual strawmen about atheist inspired terrorism, totally ignoring the context of the argument or addressing any of the issues.

I have yet to see a commenter actually address his point about repressed religion being much like repressed sexuality, or the origins of secular liberalism being tied into the history of Christianity, and Nietzsche’s critical attacks on this. I have yet to see someone either deny that belief in such secular follies as free markets, global revolution or the global spread of democracy and progress are any less ridiculous than belief in a god, or try to claim they are in some way different.

Sure, the comments page may be filled with 300+ screaming monkeys trying to make Gray look like an idiot, but if they think they succeeded in this task, they’re only fooling themselves.

Even a committed agnostic such as myself can take pleasure in such a spectacle.

Wherefore all the Popes?

As some of you may know, one of the things the POEE (Paratheo-Anametamystikhood Of Eris Esoteric) came up with was the True and Holy Fact that every man, woman and child is a pope (“so please treat them right”). Some people wonder what’s up with that. Well, I’ll tell you what that means to me.* 1. It pisses off the Catholics (not that hard, but fun anyway).2. It causes mild confusion in cabbages that can’t get their head around the idea of multiple, non-Catholic popes.3. It is a fairly precise and concise slice of what it means to be Discordian.

Perhaps I should expand/expound on that third one. To wit: The Christian Catholic Path teaches that Jesus gave unto Peter the earthly access of heaven’s kingdom (Matt.16:18-19: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”).

Stemming from this tradition, the Pope has become the singular conduit of God’s will on earth, having final say on moral, ethical, and spiritual matters. Their will in such matters is not to be denied.

Well, Discordians aren’t down with that. They are typically skeptical of any dogmatic authority (or, for that matter, any authority assumed rather than requested). To a Discordian, the self is the final arbiter of moral, ethical, and spiritual behavior. It would simply not do to have some old guy in a funny hat ordering me not to have fun, “just because”. I, Myself, am the key to Heaven, and the Gate; I am the Jailor; I am the Prisoner; and I am Free.

But you see, this applies to everyone. My papal edicts do not affect you, if you so choose, because you are the Pope, as well. Of course, you all know what happens when two popes disagree: SCHISM! And in that chasm awaits the One True Goddess, Eris.

And there’s nothing better than looking into the Eris’ Crack.

*It should be pointed out that, of course, I speak for myself, the One True Pope of the First Church of Last Exit Before Toll. Other popes can damn well speak for themselves, if they so choose.