קסם וחסר מזה

Enchantment and lack thereof

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

This Just In from God

This is a controversial topic, which may be disputed.

Please comment below before threatening my life.

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Before there was God

In ancient times, most successful religions were polytheistic. Several deities, each in charge of a different aspect of human life, received worship and prayer. Some believe that deities of classical mythology were products of powerful politicians of the era. The convenient existence of the God of War or the God of Wine may have been political tools to influence public opinion. Politicians, kings, and holy men could claim to know how the gods felt, and could convince the people to go to war or drink more wine. Did these people really talk to their gods? Most modern thinkers would say, “no, their gods don’t exist.” To that I ask, “How do you know?”

They call it mythology when they talk about ‘dead’ religions, how do we know they are dead? How do you know your God exists? How does anyone know anything about God? Maybe the Judeo-Christian God is the made-up one. Maybe Dionysus is sitting on top of Mt. Olympus, throwing himself a party. I bet he’s pissed off that people don’t drink wine like they used to. Maybe there are no gods at all.

The Final Religion

Religion has evolved over the years. Classical mythology caved in to a more popular and efficient religion, a religion that would span the globe unlike any before or since, Christianity. Christianity is much more effective, instead of having to worry about all those old Gods, they can focus their attention on just one. This means that God gets more worship-hours than all of his predecessors put together. Christianity also has something that makes it stand out from other religions, a mascot, a poster-child that every human on Earth can relate to and associate with.

Jesus, allegedly the human manifestation of God, is the ultimate advertisement for Christianity. God is supposed to be a all-seeing, all-knowing, invisible, omnipresent being. For a lot of people, that’s pretty hard to wrap your mind around. Jesus is a much easier concept to grasp. Jesus was a man, just like you and me. He was flesh and bones and his followers could see him and touch him. He walked the Earth and did good things, and all was well. Then he died a miserable death because of a grave injustice at the hands of a traitorous villain. Curiously, this death was foreshadowed in an earlier part of the Bible. I won’t delve into the semantics of how the Bible was written, but it makes an interesting narrative.

Christians say that Jesus died for everyone’s sins; he died 2000 years ago! He died be-fore our sins. It looks to me like some asshole fucked him over and he just died. Through this tragedy and his later comeback, Jesus gained world fame. He was featured in thousands of paintings, all of which were made long after his death. Jesus made quite a splash in his 33 years on earth, yet no historians of the time make mention of him. In fact, the only historical reference to him was the Bible.

The Good Book

The Bible is not much of a history book. It’s more of a heavily edited, convoluted, opinionated, and abridged version of an older history book. The Bible has been rewritten several times, usually being changed for political reasons. Older, more natural versions of the Bible were destroyed when the updated editions came out. I guess they weren’t correct anymore.


Think of all those nuns who have never been laid. If God exists, he gave us sex organs for a reason. It is a waste to ignore the resources at one’s disposal. Abstaining from sex these days is like spitting in God’s face. Sex is a extraordinary experience that should never be suppressed. It is like getting a nice gift and never opening it, how rude.

God's People

The president and the pope are the two most powerful people in the world. Both were chosen by people, not God. I am scared by these facts as I categorically disagree with them. Both individuals currently claim to have a strong relationship with God. The president is stupid and shameless enough to claim to speak with him. Does he use the God phone in the oval office? Do the president, the pope, and God meet annually in heaven for a peace summit? Or do they do it via satellite?

These people claim to be so in touch with God, they are chosen for their positions for exactly that reason. They may well be lying right-out, it’s happened before. How do we know they are telling the truth? How do they know anything about God? How does anyone?

These leaders project an image that they work for God, but how can you do what your boss wants if you’ve never had a conversation with him? How do they know they are doing God’s will? Does God like seeing his people mercilessly kill others? Does he want people to die in wars? Was God patting Bush on the back when he went to Iraq? How are the world’s leaders to know that they are doing what God wants? What if God wanted them to change their minds? How would he influence them? How does the pope know when he has done what God wants?

When religious groups announce that God wants them to take some course of action, did they get his email? Did they have a divine experience? Or is it a political move? If talking to God is a one-way experience, how do we have any clue about anything? The “This just in from God” tactic is as ridiculous as it is lacking criticism. There was never an easier tactic for writing your own ticket, just blame it on God. The gradual movement of American politics toward a religious society scares me for these reasons. Religion has the capacity to bring out the best in people. But in the wrong hands, religion is a powerful opinion manipulation force that is difficult to stop.


I fear that religion is falling into the wrong hands in America. We saw just recently in the 2004 election the role of conservative churches in influencing popular opinion. Preachers in churches all over the country endorsed President Bush, even though this bias in a tax-exempt religious institution is illegal. Republicans in congress are working to reverse this rule that is as old as the Constitution. The legislation is called “Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act”. You can read the bill here, but it’s not very interesting or provocative. Tax codes, you know. You can read about the implications of religious politics here.

Additional Listening

This American Life: Godless America - Find an hour of free time and listen to this

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Name Game

From "Don't Think of an Elephant!" by George Lakoff:

We get compassionate conservativism. The Clear Skies Initiative. Healthy Forests. No Child Left Behind. This is the use of language to mollify people who have nurturant values. This is the use of Orwellian language - language that means the opposite of what it says - to appease people in the middle while you pump up the base. That is part of the conservative strategy.
Liberals and progressives typically react to this straight in a self-defeating way. The usual response is, "Those conservatives are bad people; they are using Orwellian language. They are saying the opposite of what they mean. They are deceivers. Bad. Bad."
All true. But we should recognize that they use Orwellian language only when they have to: when they are weak, when they cannot come out and say what they mean. Imagine if they came out supporting a "Dirty Skies Bill" or a "Forest Destruction Bill" or a "Kill Public Education" bill. They would lose. They are aware that people do not support what they are really trying to do.
[Global warming] science seems increasingly to be going against the conservative position. However, conservatives can counter the science using the right language. People who support environmental positions like certain words. They like the words healthy, clean, and safe because these words fit frames that describe what the environment means to them. Therefore [they] use the words healthy, clean, and safe whenever possible, even when talking about coal and nuclear power plants. It is this kind of Orwellian weakness that causes a piece of legislation that actually increases pollution to be called the Clear Skies Act.

It is not an accident that conservatives are winning where they have successfully framed the issues. They've got a thirty to forty year head start. And more than two billion dollars in think tank investments.
And they are still thinking ahead. Progressives are not. Progressives feel so assaulted by conservatives that they can only think about immediate defense. Democratic office holders are constantly under attack. Every day they have to respond to conservative initiatives. It is always, "What do we have to do to fight them off today?" It leads to politics that are reactive, not proactive.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


There will be a restructuring of the Blog. This will account for the delay since my last entry.

It has been quite awhile and I suppose I should bring you up to speed. I have been thought Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, and The Netherlands (yes, that includes Amsterdam - Dumbass!). The trip was fun. I was most impressed with the European social model and the many nearly-indistinguishable differences between Europe and the US. The only thing that I learned from the "academic" portion of this trip was how dumb and pointless it is to be a business student. Their degree is worth as much as two squares of my shitty, non-asslotion toilet paper that I stole from work because I am a cheap fucker. For someone else's opinion that I am claiming for myself out of sheer convenience and laziness, check out Moose's latest entry.

I have had my wisdom teeth finally removed and am still experiencing the unpleasant effects. Other than that, I have just spent my time on Wikipedia; potentially the most useful website on the Internet.

Tonight was an amazing night, and I am writing as a direct result of it. Because of the people involved, I must never speak of it to anyone. All I can tell you is that it involves an amazing property, a swimming pool, tons of candy, and engineering. It's not what you're thinking!

So what else to talk about? I am in Athens for the rest of the summer. It's calm and slightly eventful. If I could have nights everynight like I did tonight, I:
  1. Would not notice the abnormality - nay the specific uniquity of tonight
  2. Would never be bored.
Several of my wishes have come true tonight, and it's not as creepy as it sounds.

There are 2,014,156,800 seconds in 64 years. And a second is a really long time.