Alan Perlman's Blog – July 2012 Archive (10)

"An Atheist Reads the Torah" -- Why I Wrote It and Why You Might Want to Read It

(Several years ago, I undertook to read the Torah.  For specific reasons, see below.  But basically I wanted to find out, to my own satisfaction, just what it said, to the extent possible, given that it's such an ancient text that's been repeatedly copied and edited. 

To rabbis, thus to most Jews, it is a repository of priceless wisdom.   I set out to find it. 

What I found was both enlightening and disappointing. …

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Added by Alan Perlman on July 30, 2012 at 3:30pm — 11 Comments

Another PhD Candidate Goes Over the Edge

“Here’s an object more of dread / Than aught the grave contains – A human form with reason fled / While wretched life remains.”

Abraham Lincoln, letter to Andrew Johnson, Sept. 6, 1846

 

A heavily armed man explodes a gas canister in a theater, then opens fire,  killing a dozen, wounding many more.  Again, Colorado and the nation are in shock.  The eternal gun debate, which Obama had been keeping quiet, explodes, four months before an election.  There’s…

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Added by Alan Perlman on July 27, 2012 at 12:30pm — 8 Comments

Tisha B'Av and the Jewish History of Tragedy

“CLERGYMAN.,  n. A man who undertakes the management of our spiritual affairs  as a method of bettering his temporal ones.”

Ambrose Bierce



We're just on the verge of a little known but very sad Jewish holiday, Tisha B'Av [the ninth day of the month of Av; July 27-8 this year], which commemorates the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, including, but not limited to, the destruction of the First and Second…

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Added by Alan Perlman on July 25, 2012 at 1:00pm — No Comments

The Meat Thinks: On the Ineradicability of Religion; a Modest Proposal

“I used to think my brain was the most wonderful organ in the universe. Then I realized who was telling me this.”

Emo Phillips

 

(From a fictional exchange between two extraterrestrial intelligent machines, regarding the dominant life-form on Earth:)

“So…what does the thinking?”

“You’re not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat.”

“Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in…

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Added by Alan Perlman on July 19, 2012 at 8:00pm — 26 Comments

Desperately Seeking Approval: Overt and Covert Reasons for the Adult Bar Mitzvah

"As a beautiful flower that is full of hue but lacks fragrance, even so fruitless is the well-spoken word of one who does not practice it."

The Dhammapada

 

Informed of a former colleague’s decision to have a bar mitzvah in middle age, I can’t help but look for reasons, since the ceremony is completely optional at this point in life.

For a complex variety of reasons, many of them personal, some Jewish adults genuinely want to reconnect with their…

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Added by Alan Perlman on July 18, 2012 at 10:00am — 2 Comments

A Mormon President?

The most questionable part of Romney is not his ethics, or whether he created or destroyed jobs.  It's his religion. A President's religion, if's he's a true believer, influences the way he sees the world and makes decisions.  Did Dubya think God told him to invade Iraq?  To what extent does Romney believe all that nutty Mormon stuff? 

Nutty stuff

I was recently fortunate enough to receive a copy of the Book of Mormon, courtesy of the Marriott Residence Inns. …

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Added by Alan Perlman on July 10, 2012 at 10:30am — 33 Comments

Religious Conversion: Who Goes Where? And Why?

Infidel, n. In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian religion; in Constantinople, one who does.”

Ambrose Bierce

It would be great to have reliable numbers on religious migration: how many people change religions each year, how many become new adherents, how many drift away, never to return?

Increasing the ranks

Different religions have different ways of increasing their ranks: birth rate (e.g., all…

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Added by Alan Perlman on July 5, 2012 at 7:00pm — 6 Comments

4th of July Again a Bittersweet Holiday for Lovers of Liberty

(The following was originally submitted to the July 1-4 2008 Blogswarm against Theocracy.  I have made some additions and revisions.  Since my goal is always change in the real world, I urge you to take personal action to roll back religious bigotry and superstition.  First Freedom First is a good place to start.)

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good…

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Added by Alan Perlman on July 4, 2012 at 8:00pm — 11 Comments

On Fake Friends and Groupthink

“Never speak ill of yourself; your friends will always say enough on that subject.”

Talleyrand

“It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you to the heart; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.”

Mark Twain



On June 28, my second wife and I would have celebrated our 31st anniversary.  I meant to write about it on the 28th, but hey, three years after the divorce, a guy’s allowed to…

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Added by Alan Perlman on July 3, 2012 at 7:00pm — 13 Comments

Is Heaven More Like a Hilton – or a Motel 6?

“All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.”

Lucretius

 

I sometimes think that prankish college students with nothing better to do are responsible for at least some of the more outrageous letters to advice columnists.  That may be one explanation for the following letter and response.  Another is that the writer and columnist are absolutely serious,  the latter buying into…

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Added by Alan Perlman on July 1, 2012 at 2:30pm — 10 Comments

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