The following was written last year, after a tornado ripped through a nearby area. I thought it would be enjoyed by my fellows in faithlessness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Once more, that loving Christian god has shown his capricious sense of irony by hurling killer tornadoes at still another Florida trailer park. (Oops.. make that “mobile home community”…wouldn’t want to be p.i. in a godicle). The sick humor here is that this most recent assault was on a retirement community, filled with people who had worked their blue collars off for years, scrimping and saving all their lives in order to spend their final days in the Florida sunshine. Needless to say, they were also people of faith, believers in the goodness and protection of the god to whom they dutifully gave ten percent of their sweat-earned money every week.

One of the first things they did after establishing their community was erect a church in which to communicate with and sing songs to Good Old Dad, lavishing more life savings on pastors, décor, statues, stained glass and all the other accouterments so necessary to the display of humble worship. They built it solidly and strong enough to withstand 160 mph hurricane winds, with much celebratory prayer at its dedication to the prospective tenant. Unfortunately, neither structural soundness nor supplications were sufficient to prevent disaster. The entire community, including the church, was razed to the ground by a random storm last week.

Naturally, this event was the lead story on the local news channels, most of which repeatedly featured one particular sound bite, presumably to emphasize the poignancy of the situation. It shows a woman standing in the midst of the rubble, near her own flattened residence, tenderly cradling a plaster baby Jesus she had found among the church wreckage. Smiling bravely through her tears, she worshipfully tells the camera, “Oh, this gives me so much hope!”

Now, I guess most people would react to this with an empathetic “awww” or perhaps even a lump in the throat. I am decidedly not most people. It did bring tears to my eyes, but that’s because I was laughing so hard. There is so much hilariously ludicrous information in this scenario, so much blind self-deception, each point struck me funnier than the last.

To wit: A sizable group of retired men and women, having spent the better part of their lives praying to and worshiping an imaginary protector, expecting him to provide all things ~ as long as they ask often and earnestly and cough up their weekly tithe ~ have their lives ruined (and in some cases taken) by what is commonly referred to as an “act” of said protector. Not only did this generous benefactor destroy their homes and kill their loved ones, he also obliterated his own house in the process.

Does this not stir up even a little doubt in the minds of the faithful? Does this kind of wanton destruction not raise questions as to the motives of Big Daddy? Or are they perhaps blaming themselves for their own ill fortune? (“Dang! I knew that cheap wine would piss him off!”)

Astonishingly, rather than to raise reasonable doubt, this kind of punishment only serves to strengthen their belief! The worse he hurts them, they more they adore him. The meaner he gets, the more they praise his “love”. And here’s the punch line: a plaster doll that has been mass-produced by child slaves at a Jesus factory in Communist China repeatedly appears on television as a symbol of Christian hope. Nothing ironic about that!

Honestly, I’m not laughing at their hardship…just at their sycophantic glorification of the phantom hand that smites them.

Views: 7

Tags: bites, feeding, hand, that, the, you

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Comment by Reverend Slim / Michael Ham on September 30, 2008 at 11:33am
Nate...I don't want to go into the question of "free will" but the substitution of reality for fantasy as you describe and as it pertains to your gradual rejection of the fantasy of your religious cult's teachings describes just that..the gradual substitution of non-delusional thinking for delusional thinking...not the temporary substitution of lessor or different fantasies.

The following is my personal opinion. Your cult's denomination of your mindset...temporarily for you...was a result of your rejection of personal responsibilities, a dependency, a need to have your opinions and beliefs given to you by others...clearly indicating your unwillingness to be truthful with yourself.

Religion is an addiction and a crutch. Sometimes a substitute addiction is used as a substitute for another...but this only enhances as valid the use of addictions and magical thinking as a cure, but the cure is actually only a panacea. An example would be substituting religion for alcohol addiction. Maybe the addiction to alcohol can be broken but the propensity for the alcoholic to use crutches is bolstered.
Comment by Nate on September 30, 2008 at 10:19am
[TJ.."First you give them their dose of fiction they are addicted to, and slowly but surely you give them less fiction everyday untill there is no fiction left. They are then left living in reality."

I don't agree...perhaps if you gave me an example or an illustration of your proposal.]

Michael..Having left a cult I can relate to what TJ is proposing. Others that have left have begun their journey out by comparing the cult's strict and extremely narrow interpretation of scripture to more mainstream views. Unfortunately, some feel comfortable there and thus ends their quest, for the reasons that you and TJ have described. But others, like myself, continue to shed religious delusions until arriving at unadulterated reality albeit hazy and distorted by our current limitations.

As for how this relates to the question of free-will, one has to wonder why some continue to embrace delusion while others abandon it when presented with the same information. I think the reasons are purely Naturalistic- genetics(who we are) and environment(where we've been, who we've met, what we've read, when we've lived, where we've lived, what we've lost, advantages enjoyed, etc., etc.).
Comment by TJMorgan on September 30, 2008 at 9:19am
It doesn't necessarily need to be a fiction, but something that at least at first motivates them enough, that comforts them enough that can replace the motivation and comfort their belief in god provides. Then slowly we can expose them to other truths that they try to avoid, like they are going to die, there is no afterlife, purpose is subjective, ect...

But the cold turkey making them face the facts right now is not working, it further scares them and makes them hide in their hole deeper. We need to lure them out of their hole first.
Comment by Reverend Slim / Michael Ham on September 30, 2008 at 9:03am
TJ.."First you give them their dose of fiction they are addicted to, and slowly but surely you give them less fiction everyday untill there is no fiction left. They are then left living in reality."

I don't agree...perhaps if you gave me an example or an illustration of your proposal.
Comment by TJMorgan on September 30, 2008 at 8:47am
You have to be able to reach them first, if you can reach them first with reality, then slowly lure them into it even if it requires fiction at first. First you give them their dose of fiction they are addicted to, and slowly but surely you give them less fiction everyday untill there is no fiction left. They are then left living in reality.

The straight hit em up with what is real isn't working. We need to recondition them out of that thinking.
Comment by Reverend Slim / Michael Ham on September 30, 2008 at 8:13am
TJ..."Michael, you don't have to accept absolute determinism to not accept free-will just like you don't have to fully accept evolution to deny the existence of a god." I don't really follow your analogy (how would one partially accept evolution?)..but like you say..."trying not to derail the topic".

"Once you shake thier faith, even if it is with another fiction, then perhaps we can introduce them to reality. - Slowly."

It seems counterproductive to the establishment of a non-delusional mindset, to disrupt one illusion by the use of another. This would amount to the endorsement of the process of non rational thought.
Comment by TJMorgan on September 30, 2008 at 7:50am
Michael, you don't have to accept absolute determinism to not accept free-will just like you don't have to fully accept evolution to deny the existence of a god. Trying not to derail the topic so I will move on. I agree that the believers basis for believing isn't based on reason and logic to begin with, it is based on their desire for comfort, and therefore, it makes it very difficult to shake a believers faith or belief with reason and logic. It is almost as if we will need to shake their faith for one fiction with another fiction that may at least be parallel to the truth. One step at a time if you will. Once you shake thier faith, even if it is with another fiction, then perhaps we can introduce them to reality. - Slowly.
Comment by Reverend Slim / Michael Ham on September 30, 2008 at 7:40am
Ruth...I read a couple of pages of the post and thread about "free will" you mentioned. I have been deep into similar conversations..(I had no choice?) and I understand the premise of determinism. There is no point in posting my thoughts about determinism here...it would be off topic for your "Punk'd again.." essay, but I do not accept determinism as a valid stand alone concept.

I do think the explanation for the failure of many people to (be able to) live within the bounds of reason and logic can be attributed to the chain of perpetual delusion initiated and fueled by Man's need for answers and comfort.

The "answer" doesn't have to be valid...it has to provide comfort or a feeling of security. As Eric Hoffer said..."Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitution for the lost faith in ourselves."

This is why the 'faith' of the believer is in most cases...unshakable. The believer has nothing he can use to replace the security of belonging to the flock and the comfort of surrendering his individual responsibilities.
Comment by Doug Harrington on September 30, 2008 at 12:57am
Now; where is God during the recent collapse of Wall Street? How many of these rich folks are kneeling beside their beds praying that their "Awsome God" will save them from financual despair?
The "Free Wheeling," " Bible Thumping," "Evangelicals," will be scrambling to get the money out of the banks that they have been fleecing from their poor stupid congregations all these years.

"Hello," "Wake up call!" God won't help you! Game over Pastors!

Doug Harrington
Comment by Ruth Dickson on September 29, 2008 at 1:16pm
Michael..There's a lengthy thread on this topic here. There's also a group called "No Free Will" (or something like that). Check them out...BIG topic around here.

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