Saturday, December 17, 2011

War On Christianity, War On Christmas .... yada yada yada...

Alright, we have an ongoing pissing contest in a Texas town over a nativity scene. Big deal. Happens every year, or so it seems. A nativity scene goes up on public property and some big bad atheist group wants to have it taken down. There are many times....hell, most times where I think "Who really cares?". But that is just a personal view on it. A nativity scene and religious symbols surrounding the holiday doesn't really bother me, even though I don't believe in Bible god or Jesus. It's like Santa Claus to me. Do I worry about a man coming down my chimney and invading my home? Of course's not real. The nativity scene could have baby Sponge Bob laying in the manger and it would be just as real to me as the Jesus baby. But, despite my personal opinion, there are valid reasons for not allowing a religious nativity scene on public property. 

First of all, our nation's founding fathers (most of them) believed that church and state should remain separate from one another and that the state (government) shouldn't support a religion. That is not only for the benefit of the government, but it's also a benefit for religion. Religion gets the gift of living a tax free existence, in regards to how much money it brings in. Religion is allowed to flourish, so long as it is not infringing on the rights of others in a tax payer funded place. That means public parks and government centers are off limits for religious displays. If we allow religious displays on public grounds, then perhaps we should expect churches and religious organizations to start paying taxes and have their books audited. And perhaps the government should step in and start looking at the curriculum that private schools teach in regards to religion. Maybe government officials can be on hand at every service to make sure that political candidates were not endorsed? If you want to be a part of the government by being able to display and promote your religion on tax payer funded ground, then you must expect that the public wants to know exactly what is going on inside of the churches. Maybe getting this out in the open and making religious organizations pay taxes could be a good thing. Atheists can start going into these churches and handing out literature on Sunday morning. Gonna feel a little persecuted then? 

There is no "War On Christmas". It's a fallacy. There is no "War On Christianity". It's a fallacy. There are organizations out there that want to beat back religious influence, that's for damn sure, but to believe you are being singled out for persecution because of a nativity scene being challenged is sort getting yourself worked up for no good reason. Would it be OK to start displaying symbols and depicting scenes from other religions on publicly funded ground? If it's OK for a nativity scene to go up, then it must be fine for an atheist group to place their own nativity scene right beside it, right? Or put up a big sign saying "There is no god, Jesus is a fairy tale".....down with that?  Perhaps the Muslims could start sitting outside every courthouse in America and do scenes about Muhammad catching a winged horse to heaven? Maybe Satanists could do their version of a nativity scene? Is that OK? 

The story of this small Texas town got to me and I posted on my Facebook page that I sort of thought....ehh....just leave it be, it's only for a week or so. But, I had a friend make some very good points to me about why you can't give an inch. If you give an inch here and an inch there, when does it stop? And who does it stop? We don't need anti-religion propaganda on tax payer land any more than we need the religious propaganda. And if you allow a Christian display and don't allow other displays, there is no line between church and state at that point, as Christianity would be basically endorsed by the state. What about the Muslims who may live in that town? Are they not tax payers? Do they not have the right to not feel like they live in a town where one religion was not preferred over another? Here is a snippet from the story I'm going to link from FOX News;

Pastor Lorick said it’s time to draw a line in the sand — and start standing up for the Christian faith.
“Christianity is under attack in America,” he told Fox News & Commentary. “Our country is quickly heading down a direction which the Christian faith is taking a hit — it’s quickly becoming suppressed.”
The attorney general (Greg Abbot) agreed with that sentiment.
“There has been an ongoing battle between the forces of atheism and the forces of those who are antagonistic to all things religious against those who recognize the religious heritage of this country,” Abbott said. “And by defending Nativity scenes, by defending the Ten Commandments and by defending students who try to say a prayer at a graduation ceremony, we’re trying to preserve, protect and defend what we know is perfectly legal.”

Those quotes make me cringe just a little and chuckle a little more. You can have a nativity scene at ANY church and you can leave it up year around if you like. You can have a nativity scene at any privately owned place. You just can't do it on public grounds where people who may not agree with you also go and pay taxes to use. Those comments above have no place in the discussion. You can display the Ten Commandments in school. A Christian/Jewish school. You can openly pray to a Christian god at graduation. A Christian school graduation. You can hand out Christian literature at church or in private places. You shouldn't be able to wield your influence in public places, unless you are ready to accept all that is going to come with that. That would be a bad deal for both the Christian and non-Christian. 

Let's face it. Christmas is not a religious holiday. It's pagan. That's it. Pure and simple. Many of the traditions that Christians (and everyone else) follow every year are from pagan cultures, not Christian ones. Besides Jesus, there are other "gods" who claim birth on December 25th. All of them came before Jesus. Coincidence? And let's face something else. If about 80% of Americans consider themselves Christians, what are you afraid of? How can you feel attacked with that number? How can you feel attacked when almost every political leader in our nation brings up god every time they give a speech? How can you feel attacked when "In God We Trust" is on our currency? How can you feel attacked when the pledge of allegiance has the words "one nation under god" firmly in place? How can you feel attacked when a great deal of the Christmas music played is religious in nature? It's nonsense and just a reason for Christians to kick and scream a little bit. If you are offended that a small group of people want to ruin your fun, then shouldn't you also feel concern when a large majority wants to have it's way, simply to have its' way? Try a little self awareness and try to put yourself in the shoes of someone that doesn't agree with you.   

Muslims were not allowed to buy a piece of property and build a mosque in New York City, but Christian groups feel persecuted because they can't put a nativity scene up on public ground? Ha about having your head up your ass! It's WAY up there. 

The answer is this. Find any church or private land and put up your nativity scene. I'd love to take my kids to see it. For full disclosure, if they have a live scene at a local courthouse, I'd take my children to see it if they wanted to go. But that doesn't mean it should be there. There is a can of worms that can be opened and I don't think Christians want that to happen. Once we start giving in to open season on religious displays in publicly funded places, you are not going to be happy with what ensues. You'll be begging to follow the Constitution of the United States again. Enjoy yourselves. Enjoy your religion. Enjoy talking about the birth of Christ with your friends and family. Religion is a personal venture that can have a real impact in people's lives in a very positive way. But everyone doesn't believe and that should be respected. 

And for atheists and agnostics who feel they have to battle religion at every turn. I support the fight to keep government and religion separate. But, get over the anger. Sure, I have my own anger story from my "transformation", but at some point you have to let it go and work from love and knowledge and not from disdain and anger. A dogmatic fundamentalist Christian is no less annoying to me than a spiteful, angry atheist who won't concede that religion can (and does) have a positive place in many corners of our society. 

Let's try to respect each other and not spill our anger, venom, and frustration into areas where we only cause a greater gap to emerge between one another. Love and understanding is the only way to truly bridge gaps. If every move that everyone of us made came from love, how much better of a world would we live in? If we cared more about human beings than getting people to believe or not believe, couldn't we build towards a society, a country....a WORLD, where no child goes hungry? Where no child has to fear a bomb being dropped on their home? Where a mother doesn't have to stay up at night worrying about her 19 year old son or daughter fighting in wars? Wouldn't it be a great world if every child got a meal, not just at Christmas, but every day? Aren't those the important things? Put the nativity scenes on church grounds or private places and enjoy the season. Perhaps you may draw in some non-believers and you can share your religion with them....or not. Maybe we can all enjoy the hope, joy, love, and peace that seems so promisingly close at this time of year. 

May you enjoy thinking of Christmas' past with friends and loved ones who are no longer with us. May you enjoy the presence of friends and family and appreciate the love and compassion we can show one another. May each of us share a little love and compassion with a stranger who is need of comfort.  

Happy Christmas To You All!!!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ahhhh, Hell........

well yu laugh now abot these things like its a joke god is not a joke n yu will c what happens to yu !!

This was a comment made on one of my posts about a Bible story some time ago. I welcome comments on my blogs, even negative ones. This just struck me in a strange way, especially in light of a conversation I had with a friend on the subject of some Christians who love the concept of hell. 

If there is a hell, and if everything I've heard about Christianity all my life is true, then I'm going there (hell) when I die. I accept that. Just like I accept that if I dig in the back yard, I'll eventually get to China. Or if someone scares me when I cross my eyes, I'll be stuck that way.  

I'm not going to carry on about this too long, because I've blogged on hell a couple of times before. As David Bazan says it's "the poison in the well". For any Christian to revel and actually threaten someone else with hell is a concept that I don't understand (although I have a couple of theories on why some like to bask in the glory of another person going to hell), but it's not foreign to me at all. First off....judgemental much? If you are telling someone else they are going to hell, well, who died on the cross on made you judge and jury? And if Jesus is about love and forgiveness, why does he love talking about hell so much? And why even create a hell? Satan didn't create hell to torture souls in, God did. 

The hell thing was constantly on my mind all through my childhood and it lasted clear on up until the very moment that the inner voice said to me "What are you scared of? There is no Bible god." It's as if a huge burden was lifted. I can live my life, not harming others, taking care of my responsibilities and go about my business. I don't have to carry that concrete block. It's stupid. It kept me awake at night as a you can bet your collective asses that I do not speak to my children about hell, nor will anyone else. 

Here is a link to the blog about hell I wrote a year and a half ago. I still consider it one of my more heartfelt and real posts. 

All that aside, if you are a Christian and it makes you feel better or somehow superior that you get to tell others that they will burn in hell, or even if you harbor that in your heart and mind, you should really re-evaluate what has drawn you to Christianity. I'm positive that some of you have probably read something I've written and said to yourself "Well, how hard will you laugh when you are in hell!!!??". Just like the person who wrote that message to me did. The threat of hell shouldn't cause a person to worship a god, love and need are better reasons. Just like going to prison shouldn't deter any of us from killing, and stealing or whatever. If you are a Christian because you fear hell, you are doing it wrong. How's that for a judgement?

Just a quick little anecdote and I'll get out of your hair with my bitching. When I was about 20, the brother of a friend of mine (who I also considered a friend) was killed in an accident that involved alcohol. A relative of mine, who is a fundamentalist Christian, told me, immediately after I had gotten the news during a phone call, that my friend was in hell now. Thanks for that support, love, and judgement. That has stuck with me for 20+ years. I can't think of anything more disgusting and hurtful that's ever been said to me. I say to you, if the only thing that really keeps you chained to Bible god is hell, maybe you oughta look into dropping it and living your life like this is the only one you get. No getting to say your sorry, to tell someone you love them, to give your kids a hug, or to hold grandma's hand in are taking an awful big chance putting off the love you can share now, because you think you will get to see them again in heaven. And you are putting an awfully big burden on your mind being scared that you might go to a hell that likely doesn't exist.  

Here is the difference between Dante, Milton, and me. They wrote about hell and never saw the place. I wrote about Chicago after looking the town over for years and years. 
Carl Sundberg

What Do I Want For Christmas?

I'm a man of simple pleasure. I don't need anything more than my 42" Samsung plasma television. I have an HD DVD player. I have a PS3. I have 5.1 surround sound with a Panasonic receiver that can shake the pictures off the wall. I have an IPod classic that I only keep 6 or 7 thousand songs on. Sure, I may have a Roku 2 and a Technics turntable and 300 blu ray movies. But again, I am a man that doesn't need much. Just my TV, my HD DVD player, PS3, surround sound, IPod, Roku, and my turntable. Oh, and don't forget the 300 blu ray movies. Shit....also, I like my Kindle...forgot about that. So other than all the aforementioned (and the Kindle) I'm a man of simple pleasure. So, I won't be asking for gifts of the physical nature from Kris Kringle. As a matter of fact, he can't do squat for me in 2011. You guys need to go out and shake some stuff up for me. This life is my movie and it ends when I say it amuse me!

1) For heaven's sake.....stop going to Adam Sandler movies. Please. He sucks now. Sure, he can still make the face and go "zipppiditeee dooooo", but that was funnier when he wasn't almost 50. He has become the movie star that he was making fun of with Seth Rogen in "Funny People". It's just sad. Make the man raise his game before you go plop down $8 to see his next piece of garbage....which will probably be called "Jack & Jill: Still Sucking". 

2) Enough with the going nuts over a cell phone already. Seriously. If a phone, let's call it the "Douche Bag Talker", comes out in January and you stand in line for it, you do know that they will release the much anticipated "Douche Bag Talker 2" in April, right? And then, they'll add that second camera, so you can take a picture of yourself taking a picture, in August and you'll be in line at 4 a.m. on a Tuesday morning to buy the "Douche Bag Talker 3", which will cost twice as much because it's a limited edition Kelly Ripa model that they are only producing 33 million of. 

3) Stop supporting stupid, careless, corrupt, egotistical bloggers....ummm, politicians. Stop listening to their bullshit as if what they are saying is true. You can bet that if something they do improves your life, it was an accident. An accident they will all too eagerly accept credit for. President Obama gave us "Hope & Change". Hope isn't all that great. If you are stuck in a cave with two broken legs, you better HOPE someone finds your ass, or you're dead. That kind of hope is OK.  But to sit at home and say "I HOPE I can get a better job or I'm going to lose my house." doesn't seem to be the place we really wanted to be at as the richest country in the world. And lest I forget, thanks for the change. Now if I can get a few pieces of paper money to go with it, that'd be great. Oh, and before any of you conservatives think you're getting a pass......ha ha ha ha ha.....Newt Fucking Gingrich seems to be the candidate of choice for the Republicans. What, John McCain isn't available again? If the stable of candidates is SO bad that Newt Gingrich looks really good, maybe we should just stick with Obama, because at least we know just how fucked up he is. No sense in trying to top the last two war mongering, money grubbing bastards. 

4)  Can't we all agree that there shouldn't be a "Lady Ga Ga"? No, I still have never heard a song by her, and considering how much I love music, this should clue in the rest of the planet as to just how little we need her. I've never listened to Amy Winehouse either, but since the technology of "Frankenstein" era medicine doesn't exist, we should hope maybe Ga Ga either goes away or meets up with Amy to make a duet cover album. And by the way, Madonna should probably sue this jackal for stealing her act and taking it to a new low. 

(...and really what's wrong with this picture? A 15 year old girl, with no pants on, standing next to a character from "Alice In Wonderland" Was it pedophile day at Disney World?)

Happy Christmas, holidays, or whatever, and all that. I hope everyone remembers the less fortunate and perhaps grabs a kid off the Angel Tree or drops a few bucks in Santa's bucket. If you drop in $5, ask him to do you a favor and knock it off with the bell until you get out to your car. And remember the reason for the season; making sure that we reduce the number of unemployed by hiring temp workers, being pissed that our relatives never call until the holidays, and ensuring that mutli-billion dollar corporations make as much money as they can, as you buy happiness from them.