liveonearth: (Default)
I have often said "it's a free will universe" as a basis for extolling choice as a power, whether conscious or unconscious, for determining your experience. To "choice" I always connect the concept of responsibility. Responsibility always follows immediately upon choice. Those who tremble before this power of choice may even habitually refuse to make choices, unwilling to take on the responsibility that choice of necessity implies. This is a choice in itself, a pattern of omission and passivity with it's own distinct effects and power to manipulate. All this having been said, what if in fact it's not "a free will universe" after all? The concept of "predestination" also has a long history in philosophical and religious thought and stands as a counterpoint to "free will" with it's own ardent supporters. When I look at an average day, things happen and I respond. Needs arise and I must act. My breath and heartbeat and peristalsis are events occurring to me, gifts freely given from what great source I cannot truly fathom. I won't pretend to resolve here a millennia-long question. And in the face of it, perhaps, at the very least, we might choose with lighter hearts, and enjoy the uncertainty knowing that our every action is effected upon waves of permission from powers greater than our own.
--Gil Hedley, Integral Anatomy
liveonearth: (Default)
You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.
~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

About Pirsig and his book: I was made to read this book at approximately age 18, when I first started working at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. I was quite moldable, impressionable, unformed at that age. Payson Kennedy was in charge of training and orienting all new staff, and reading this book was his one requirement. What it taught me was a lesson that took many years to sink in, that small details deserve our full attention, that doing your best it the only way to do anything right. Thank you Payson for requiring us to read this book, for it has helped form my perspective for over 30 years since then. I think it may be time to reread it.

This of course was all brought up because Pirsig has died at the age of 88. It's encouraging to note that his book was rejected by 121 publishing houses before someone decided to print it.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/24/525443040/-zen-and-the-art-of-motorcycle-maintenance-author-robert-m-pirsig-dies-at-88

QotD: Meat

Apr. 22nd, 2017 10:34 am
liveonearth: (Default)
If God had not intended for us to eat animals,
how come He made them out of meat?
--found attributed to Sarah Palin but have been informed that John Cleese said it before she did.....
liveonearth: (Default)
It’s fantastic to look at people and see that they really, deep down, are enlightened. They’re It. They’re faces of the divine.

And they look at you, and they say ‘oh no, but I’m not divine. I’m just ordinary little me.’ You look at them in a funny way, and here you see the buddha nature looking out of their eyes, straight at you, and saying it’s not, and saying it quite sincerely.

And that’s why, when you get up against a great guru, the Zen master, or whatever, he has a funny look in his eyes. When you say ‘I have a problem, guru. I’m really mixed up, I don’t understand,’ he looks at you in this queer way, and you think ‘oh dear me, he’s reading my most secret thoughts. He’s seeing all the awful things I am, all my cowardice, all my shortcomings.’

But that’s not what he’s looking at. He’s giving you a funny look for quite another reason altogether. He’s giving you a funny look because he sees in you the Brahman, the Godhead, just claiming it’s ‘poor little me’.

~ Alan Watts, Lectures on Zen/Spiritual Alchemy
liveonearth: (Default)
So when I say, as the subtitle of my book, that I think religion poisons everything, I'm not just doing what publishers like and coming up with a provocative subtitle, I mean to say it infects us in our most basic integrity. It says we can't be moral without Big Brother, without a totalitarian permission. It means we can't be good to one another, it means we can't think without this. We must be afraid, we must also be forced to love someone who we fear, the essence of sado-masochism and the essence of abjection, the essence of the master-slave relationship and that knows that death is coming and can't wait to bring it on. I say this is evil. And though I do, some nights, stay at home, I enjoy more the nights when I go out and fight against this ultimate wickedness and ultimate stupidity.
--Christopher HItchens
liveonearth: (moon)
Creationism gets treated by religious people as if it were a viable theoretical alternative to Evolution.  They do this in spite of the fact that evolution is broadly accepted by educated people world wide.  Evolution is obviously working on species today, and it is visible to any person with minimal powers of observation and exposure to the natural world.  Darwin was one such person.  Creationism is a myth, a dogma.  It is based on nothing other than a nice fictional book, and promoted by a whole lot of people who need a simple and colorul story to tell about how the world came to be.  Every culture, language and religion has its own creation story.  Creation stories can be spectacular and we love them.  But this does not make them theories in the scientific forum.  This does not make them true.  This just makes them good fiction.
liveonearth: (pentacle 2)
This is the after-elementary-school program being offered by an organization called The Satanic Temple.   It was news to me, but the Satanists I met tonight at the FFRF meeting consider themselves to be atheists.  They do not believe in a metaphysical God or Satan.  Satan instead is a symbol of individual liberty, of the ability we each have to say "I'm out" when someone offers us a load of dogma.  Lucifer, of course, is the fallen angel in Christian mythology who refused to tow the line.  "...Our metaphor of Satan is a literary construct inspired by authors such as Anatole France and Milton--a rebel angel defiant of autocratic structure and concerned with the material world. Satanism as a rejection of superstitious supernaturalism."

This take on Satan is all fine and good if you're inside that particular literary bubble.  If you, like me, grew up surrounded by Christian mythology, Satan is THE bad guy.  So I was a bit taken aback that they want to call their program this, and their club, and so on.  Why choose such a hot button for Christians?  Why not call it after school Humanism, or Atheism, or Evolution???  Well they do have a reason.  The concept is that Satanists can assert their rights as a religious organization and influence public affairs, reminding the dominant religious groups that in America such privileges are for all religions, not just the chosen ones.

I also learned that the legal definition of a religious organization is one that takes a stand about god.  Hence an atheist organization is a religious organization in the good old US of A.

The Oregon chapter of The Satanic Temple is brand new.  They've offered After School Satan Clubs at two elementary schools where Good News Clubs are already offered.  They plan to teach evolution, and how the world was formed.  The only problem is that when the local chaper offered an open house at a local school, the superintendent of the school (Karen Gray) let all the students and teachers go home an hour early, effectively eliminating the curious audience while also ticking off the parents who had to get out of work an hour early to pick up their babies.  Only two students signed up.  I wonder how many would have signed up if it was the After School Spaghettimonster Club?

The 2001 Supreme Court Decision called Good News Club vs Milford Central School resulted in a decision that the Milford school's restriction of the Good News Club violated the Club's free speech rights, and that no Establishment Clause concern justified that violation.  If you don't remember the Establishment Clause, it's the part of the First (free speech) Amendment that prohibits the establishment of religion by Congress.  So after school programs are allowed access to school premises regardless of content.  Free speech is allowed by religious groups as well as boy scouts, debate and chess club...and Corporations, but that's a separate ball of wax.

The Good News Club is a private Christian organization for children.  Their goal is to Christianize the next generation.  They teach elementary school kids that they are sinners and that they are going to hell if they don't repent and do right by this one particular version of God.  The Child Evangelism Fellowship creates the curriculum and trains instructors.  They have over 40,000 volunteers in the US and in 2011 there were 3560 clubs in public schools in the US and over 42,000 clubs worldwide.  THIS is how they get off calling it a Christian Nation.  And they are effectively brainwashing children before they've developed the powers of discimination to know they've been hoodwinked.    A 5th grader is unlikely to really comprehend that the teachings after school are of a different nature from the teachings in school.

Because of the 2001 SCOTUS decision, Satanists have the same rights of access to public schools as Christians, so After School Satan is one answer to the Christianization.  The name is intended to provoke Christians, and it does.  There have been ample protests.  The goal is simple: to get the Christians to remove their programs from public schools, so that then the Satanists will go back into private and stop enticing their children with cool programs and rebelliousness.

One of the coolest things I heard from tonight's programs was the 7 Tenets of The Satanic Temple.  They are beautifully enlightened so I will share:

I. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.


II. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.


III. One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.


IV. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.


V. Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.


VI. People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.


VII. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

Wouldn't it be nice if THESE were American Values?

liveonearth: (moon)
"Do not take the Jews and Christians as allies"

I read this in a summary of an article by Lailatul Fitriyah in The Jakarta Post.  He says "hard-line Muslims" are invoking a twisted interpretation of this verse to argue that true Muslims must not vote for a Christian governor.

Truth be known, American style freedoms only work if all religious people do NOT take the dictates of their religious books as literal requirements.  What if all Christians did exactly what the Bible tells them to do?  Nevermind the old testament, the new is just as full of horrors.

Islamism is what we call government within the Muslim religion.  What do we call what we have, where religious people continually try to infiltrate government and government funded programs?  Christianism?

Islam is not the problem, religion is.
liveonearth: (moon)
The current retrograde is supposed to last until September 22.  It's a long one.  Lots of people think that this planetary phenomenon is the reason that things haven't been going their way.  You're not supposed to make any major decisions or stick your neck out during a retrograde.  Why?  Superstition, in a word.

Most people who believe this bunk don't understand what the mercury retrograde really is.  They think it's something serious, when it is really just an optical illusion in the sky.  Mercury appears to be going backwards because of our perspective from here on earth, and the relative movements of the other planets.  For a sky-watcher, it's interesting.  For the superstitious person, it's momentous.  Like zodiac signs in astrology, it guides their choices and gives meaning to events.

People who embrace "new age" spirituality are the most likely to believe in the negative effects of a mercury retrograde.  They also tend to believe in karma and reincarnation.  These beliefs are indicative of the overall ignorance of our populace.  People think that because they have shed institutionalized religion that their new superstition must be better.  Too many people seek explanations for what they experience, and then latch onto them without further consideration.

How is reincarnation any more plausible than heaven and hell?  Are we capable of living with "I don't know" as our answer?  Is intellectual laziness really our future?
liveonearth: (moon)
I think this may be part of the reason that so many people have defaulted to supporting tRump.  At a gut level he gets it, that somehow the religion of Islam is motivating some people to kill bunches of hedonistic rich oblivious Americans.  We are The Great Satan, after all.  Our women roam around half naked.  We drink alcohol and eat so much that we can't get out of our chairs.  The Muslims who hate us find plenty to hate.  And the teachings of the religion are harsh.  Unforgiving.  Granted, most religions have some myths and stories that motivate hateful actions.  Most religions have a few fundamentalists whose simplistic interpretations lead them to extreme beliefs and behaviors.  Islam has a lot of people like that.  I am certain that the followers of ISIL think that American Muslims who don't help their cause are apostates, no better than the rest of us.  So given that there are quite a few Muslims who think we all deserve to die, and several at least who've been successful at violently killing Americans, being afraid of Muslims sounds kind of reasonable.  If the Dems don't admit to this, and begin teaching Americans about how they've been attempting to quell the fears of peaceable Muslims in order to prevent religious based warfare, they are missing the boat.  Blaming the Pulse shooting solely on easy access to guns is missing the very important point that currently there are a lot of people with this religious background who are motivated to kill.  We need to study them, to understand them.  They are not necessarily insane, they simply live in a different reality dictated by a different culture.  There are also a lot of Americans who are not Muslim who share their distaste for gays, their disrespect for loose women, and their instinctive hatred of other races.  Maybe you should be afraid.
liveonearth: (old books)
It's been decades since I read Siddhartha but it had a strong effect on me.  In my youth I was a philosophy major and a seeker, trying on different religious and spiritual approaches.  Eventually I arrived at myself, at the now, at the goals of non-attachment, awareness, compassion, adaptability.  I adopted bits and pieces of many philosophies, most notably Buddhism and Hinduism, without becoming a believer in reincarnation, heaven and hell, or any of the other dogmas.  New age religion in the US is very much a groovified hand-me-down from the culture behind these religions, and reincarnation is the most common belief system I encounter among people who pretend that they are enlightened.  More appealing to me is the stark realism of the German philosophers.  "To exist is to be in the way".

In Demian Herman Hesse suggests that the truth is not any of these religious structures, the truth is something far simpler, but harder to live.  It is not easy to go through this world stripped of comforting beliefs.  Hesse says we create gods and then we fight with them.  Many of his ideas are reminiscent of Nieztsche, for whom I've always had a soft spot.  He is the German philosopher who said "God is dead" and pissed off generations of religious people.

The protagonist of Demian is a young man named Sinclair, and his story begins when he is only 10 years old.  He is early at becoming aware.  Demian is a character who helps him, initially simply to avoid a predatorial character, and later to begin to think critically and to trust in himself.  When they are schoolmates Demian suggests alternate interpretations of Bible stories, especially the one about Cain and Able, and the mark of Cain.  By the end of the book I was thinking that I too must bear that mark, because I have never been a joiner, never been willing or able to submit to authority or dogma.

This book would make excellent reading for a teen who is beginning to sort out a path through all the competing authorities.  It does not provide a blueprint, but it does say that you must find your own path, and that it won't be easy or comfortable.  When Hesse first released this small book in 1919 it was in pieces in a magazine, and anonymously.  Why didn't he want his name attached?  Why didn't someone recognize his voice and thoughts, when they are so distinctly his?  Perhaps it is because Demian is also a commentary on the sadness of war, on the fruitlessness of giving lives for some shared ideal which might be bunk.  Some of the things he writes harken to the Jungian concept of collective consciousness, for example the shared premonitions of the onset of world war one.  Do we really share a consciousness, or do we simply share some of the same inputs, and arrive at some of the same intuitive conclusions?  Jung and Hesse did.

The most fruitful thing a person can do is to become themselves, I agree with Hesse on this point.  To be with people who are also themselves, this is a very satisfying thing.
liveonearth: (moon)
For me, the characteristic features of a mystlcial and therefore untrustworthy, theory are that it is not refutable, that it appeals to authority, that it relies heavily on anecdote, that is makes a virtue of consensus (look how many people believe like me!), and that it takes the high moral ground.  You will notice that this applies to most religions.
--Matt Ridley in Evolution of Everything; How New Ideas Emerge, page 270
liveonearth: (moon)

Reason Rally 2016: A Bloc Party that Counts

by Lyz Liddell

Executive Director

Reason Rally 2016

The latest polls show that the percentage of people who don’t care about a candidate's religion is increasing, and that “nones” are an ever-growing segment of the under-45 population — key voters! That’s great news for those who support separation of church and state, critical thinking, and just plain good sense. As the Pew Research report [http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/] states:

“Meanwhile, the number of religiously unaffiliated adults has increased by roughly 19 million since 2007. There are now approximately 56 million religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S., and this group – sometimes called religious ‘nones’ – is more numerous than either Catholics or mainline Protestants, according to the new survey. Indeed, the unaffiliated are now second in size only to evangelical Protestants among major religious groups in the U.S.”

We all have the opportunity to celebrate our increasing numbers — and build our power as a voting bloc — by attending Reason Rally 2016, June 4, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. You’ll hear great speakers and entertainers — Carolyn Porco, Bill Nye, Julia Sweeney and more — as well as comedians, lots of music, and a good time for all.

It’s a Voting Bloc Party for those who believe that public policy should be made based on scientific evidence, not religious beliefs. It’s also an opportunity to take the message of science-driven public policy directly to your own members of Congress on the lobbying days that precede Reason Rally 2016. The focus of the lobbying will be sex education and the wasted money devoted to abstinence-only curricula that have been shown to be counter-productive. IN fact, abstinence-only sex ed correlates with increased teen pregnancy!

So check out the speakers, hotel and travel deals, and sign up to lobby at our website, reasonrally.org. Bring your friends, then go home and vote in every election, from school board to president. Let’s Speak Up for Reason! Let’s make the media and politicians court us as much as they court the religious right.

liveonearth: (House religion psychosis)
There was a pretty good turnout at the usual CFI venue, a beer and pizza retreat called the Lucky Lab.  David is younger than I expected, pretty much right out of school having gotten a master's in Religious Studies.  He points out the difference between Religious Studies and Theology right up front: his education is more about comparative religion and history than about the dogma of any one ism.

He has written several books, including Disproving Christianity, which he wrote right out of undergrad school I believe. The Belief Book and the Book of God are intended for the education of children by parents who want to satisfy their natural curiousity with actual information instead of indoctrination.  And he announced last night for the first time in public that he has signed a contract for his next book, No Sacred Cows, which will be a manual for teaching critical thinking to children and adults.

I am very excited that this young man has taken to writing, and based on his public speaking, I suspect he is a clear and concise writer.  I look forward to reading some of his books, and I may start giving them as gifts too.  =-]

His main point in this talk is that the reason that there is so much dogmatic religion in the US is the lack of religious studies education.  People who do not know what religion is and what it has done in history are more likely to be religious, and more likely to be fundamentalist.  He says that to protect your children from falling prey to fundamentalism, teach them about all relgions, and satisfy their curiousity with real information.  Without this education there is in his words a "snowball effect" that leads to a widespread lack of critical thinking---which is exactly what we are seeing in today's political sphere.  If there were a strong component of religious studies integrated into primary school history and philosophy classes, there would be more critical thinking nationwide.

He mentioned an organization called the OASIS network, which is jokingly called "atheist church" but really it "an alternative to faith based community" that provides among other things programs for kids.  For freethinkers surrounded by religiousity, the name is really appropriate

Here's his blogpost on how to respond to door to door religion sellers:
https://davidgmcafee.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/how-to-respond-to-door-to-door-evangelists-and-hotel-room-bibles/

**Created tag: freethinker
liveonearth: (looks like house to me)
It is far better to grasp the universe
as it really is
than to persist in delusion,
however satisfying
and reassuring.

-Carl Sagan
liveonearth: (moon)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] bill_sheehan at Sunday Sermonette: Putting the Christ Back In Christmas

I’ve written about restoring the ancient traditions of Saturnalia to this blessed time of year (Io, Saturnalia!), but some people just have no sense of tradition. They just want me to put the Christ back in Christmas. Fine, I don’t want to cause offense by wishing anyone “Happy Holidays” when all they want is for me to validate their personal piety. So let’s get Christ into our celebrations.

Just who is this Christ anyway? Christians say he’s a person named Jesus, and we can learn all about him in the Gospels. Sure enough, in the first chapter of the Gospel attributed to Matthew, we find a lengthy (17 verses!) section of begats tracing Jesus’ lineage back to the ur-patriarch, Abraham. In the third chapter of Luke’s Gospel, we find fifteen verses of a reverse genealogy tracing Jesus back to Adam, and ultimately, God.
Read more... )
liveonearth: (dont_be_heavy)

"If one allows the infidels
to continue playing their role of corrupters on Earth,
their eventual moral punishment will be all the stronger.
Thus, if we kill the infidels
in order to put a stop to their [corrupting] activities,
we have indeed done them a service.
For their eventual punishment will be less.
To allow the infidels to stay alive
means to let them do more corrupting.
[To kill them] is a surgical operation commanded by Allah the Creator."

--Ayatollah Khomeini, 1984

liveonearth: (starry night)

No matter what our attempts to inform,
it is our ability to inspire
that will turn the tides."
--Jan Phillips

liveonearth: (moon)
The sirens blared for a minute yesterday morning, still tested monthly on the first Wednesday of the month.  My mother has no idea what to do if they go off.  She says she supposes she'd turn on the radio and wait for instructions.  I remember when there was a real feeling of fear, here.  We thought we'd be the first ones to get bombed.  This town was built in the 1940's to support the production of the atomic bombs and other secrets.  Whoever names the city calls it "Secret City" now---it used to be the "Atomic City" but I guess that's not such a popular name these days.

The scientists who work at the labs don't live in Oak Ridge anymore.  I used to think of Oak Ridge as a pocket of international PhD's who were above the southern morass.  Educated and openminded.  That is no longer true.  The road between the plants and West Knoxville has many more lanes, and at rush hour you can see where the lab personnel are going.  My friends tell me that Oak Ridge is become more like the rest of east Tennessee, that is, less educated and more religious and patriotic.

Patriotic externally at least.  On my mother's block most houses have a flag or some sort of "God Bless America" display going on.  My mother has an American flag hanging on her front gate, and there's one in the window of her neighbor's house, and one on the porch of the neighbor across the street.  My father, in another neighborhood, also has one up.  I don't know what exactly all these flags mean.  I think that if you do not display your patriotism, you are suspect of being a terrorist.  I also suspect that the flags declare gun ownership, because the second amendment is enshrined here.  Certainly one would be foolish to threaten anyone, because stickers on vehicles declare that their guns will only be removed from cold dead hands, or that the guns will be smoking hot and out of ammo.  Hanging a flag is in a sense cammo for my relatives who are not so well armed.

Religiousness is endemic here.  Christianity, to be specific.  My mother says Baptists are the dominant sect but the Catholics and Methodists have churches near here and active communities.  I walked by the Methodist church this morning, taking the dog out, and noticed that they have a "First Steps" program for "child development".  Every church has some program for the little ones.  It occurs to me to wonder, does anyone attempt to teach the little ones skepticism and critical thinking?  Are the children getting properly socialized, or dogmatized?  Probably some of each, I suspect.

Oak Ridge is overwhelmingly white.  I did run across a Hispanic mother and her two children waiting for the bus.  She kept them far away from my mother's dog.  And I have seen a few blacks here and there.  The talker who used to work at the gym who now hangs out by the door at Panera to keep social.  He doesn't know when to say goodbye.  Another nonwhite is my mother's old friend Dimitri who is Middle Eastern, and walks everywhere, picking up trash and coins from the sidewalks.  He was an engineer at the plant, has plenty of money in the bank, but lives in a tiny apartment and does not own a car.  I would like to talk to him.  I haven't seen a single native since I've been here, that is, aside from white eyes who were born here like myself.
liveonearth: (critter)
You can't talk about the ocean
with a frog who lives in a well;
he is bounded by the space he inhabits.

You can't talk about ice
with an insect who was born in June;
he is bounded by a single season.

You can't talk about Tao
with a person who thinks he knows something;
he is bounded by his own beliefs

The Tao is vast and fathomless.
You can understand only by stepping
beyond the limits of yourself.


From the Chaung Tzu. 17
via Stephen Mitchell, The Second Book of the Tao.

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] bobby1933 at But I Don't Know The Frogs Language Or Mind, And Can't Know What The Frog Knows.

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