I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust And I Feel That Shadow Growing

According to Donald Trump, “Jews” are a “nationality”. That’s not the first time a country’s leader has started down that road. Throughout most of Europe’s history, Jews were kept apart. In Venice, Italy, they put them on their own little islands and called that area — where the Jews lived — “ghetto”. That’s where the word comes from.

Historically, when people see Jews as a “nationality”, it doesn’t end well for us.

I was born in 1959, 14 years after the Nazi concentration camps were liberated then grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore. Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that “clever people” called it “Kikesville” instead. My public high school was so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off — cos they knew NOTHING was happening in school those days since 90% of the students would be gone.

You might think growing up in a place so culturally Jewish would shield one from the Holocaust’s awfulness. You might think such an awful memory — so close in our rear view mirror — would have horrified my community into a stone cold refusal to discuss it.

We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. The end of WWII — the end of the Holocaust — didn’t end anti-Semitism the same way the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t actually end slavery.

As my community tends to do, we turned what happened to us into a teachable moment. There were some essential lessons still to be learned. There’s a famous photo of a group of Jews being rounded up in the Warsaw Ghetto by the occupying Nazis –

From the first time I saw the photo, I became that boy in the lower right. I bet a lot of Jews my age did.  We saw and felt that boy’s terror, his helplessness.  His confusion: how can they be doing this to you just because you were born Jewish?  You’ve done nothing wrong to anyone on the planet – yet the planet wants you dead. 

“Never Again” became as integral a part of my “religious education” as chanting the ‘Shema’.  The past hurt.  That was not going to be our future. 

In our guts, my community has always known this was lurking somewhere in the American Character. Turns out, the Nazis were admirers of how racists in America codified and amplified their racism. The Nazi’s method of industrialized murder found significant inspiration in America’s brand of Christo-fascism: slavery

You can’t cram peoples’ heads with tons of bullshit and not expect the bullshit to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram nonsensical, logic-free, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads, it screws them up. It’s worse when the logic-free, hateful mythology also runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger).

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being killed over it. But that’s what’s coming to America: death & destruction because bullshit.

In fact, “death & destruction because bullshit” is Trump’s entire re-election strategy.

Will The “Real Christians” Please Identify Themselves? The “Fake Christians” Are Confusing The Rest Of Us

Will the “real Christians” please stand up? Okay… will you sit down? Will you at least shut up?

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, I like to call atheism “the true faith”: the faith that faith is pointless.

Point of reference: one thing you never see atheists do is call atheists with whom they disagree “heretics” or “traitors to the faith”. That’s one of the luxuries of having no faith. One’s life (where faith is concerned) remains dogma-free.

That’s always the yardstick by which people of faith measure each other — adherence to dogma — to the rules and regulations that spell out how one “practices” a faith. Churches, by their nature, codify spirituality. They articulate a “how to do it” — how to “be spiritual” their way. They lay out a very particular path and insist that the only way to practice their faith is to travel that path.

Atheism has no path per se. Atheism is liberation from a path. It’s liberation from the dogma one must adhere to in order to stay on the path.

Another point of reference: mainstream Jews are dogma-free too. I don’t count Chassids as mainstream; they’re a whole other “tribe” within the tribe — and they are dogmatic and they do call out heresy. I was raised in the conservative school of Judaism — a middle ground between the ritual-attentiveness of orthodox Jews and the freedom-from-ritual of reform Jews. Though my branch of Judaism saw the orthodox as crazy and the reformed as wannabe Christians, we got along with them. We didn’t go to war with them the way Protestants did against Catholics in Europe. Or the way Protestants and Catholics did against Mormons in this country. Plenty of Mormon blood was spilled during Mormonism’s formative years because of what they believed. Point of reference — the people killing them because of their faith were ALL other Christians.

When I turn on my TV, I see sincere, earnest Christians insist that soulless evangelicals who support Donald Trump aren’t real Christians. Those Trump-supporting Evangelicals tell everyone that THEY are the real Christians and all those saying otherwise are apostates.

Oy.

What’s a non-Christian to think? It’s not for us to judge, of course. We have no skin in this game. I have no idea who the real Christians are and, frankly, I don’t care — except when your sectarian violence consumes the rest of us which it has historically.

Point of reference: no non-Christian has ever declared America “a Christian nation”.

In part, that’s because no non-Christian has any idea what you’re talking about. Correction — we know exactly what you’re talking about and it terrifies us. If Christians meant America is a nation that follows Jesus’s teaching to “Do unto others”, that would be one thing except it’s never that thing. By “America is a Christian nation”, those Christians mean “America is THEIR kind of Christian nation subject to THEIR brand of dogma”.

And anyone not playing along is a heretic who deserves everything terrible that heretics get.

Point of reference: many of the Christians who founded this nation were not Christian in the way contemporary American Christians understand Christianity. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, was a Deist who wrote his own bible. Is it Jefferson’s version of Christianity that makes America a “Christian nation” or is Jerry Falwell, Jr’s version of Christianity which — just saying as an outsider making an outsider’s observation — seems to contradict itself every which way?

Maybe, non-Christian that I am, I’ve got this wrong. I always thought “Christians” were followers of Jesus. Isn’t it Jesus who’s hanging on that cross? Isn’t the whole point of being Christian to follow Jesus’s teaching?

See, I think that’s part of the problem. There’s a huge difference between the simple (very Jewish) message that Jesus pitched — “Do unto others” — and the far more complicated, dogma-heavy, here’s-how-to-practice-the-faith message Paul ended up pitching to all the burgeoning, far-flung Christian communities he was writing to via his letters and epistles — you know, most of the text that makes up the New Testament.

The NT, don’t forget, was (by design) an updating & improvement upon the “Old Testament”. The NT insists that an OT prophecy about a messiah is true. But then, the NT goes on to say a lot of things that the OT did not say. It goes on — Paul does — to say a lot of things that JESUS never said. That’s just according to The Jesus Seminar — a group of biblical scholars (real, respectable, academic ones not bargain basement bible college ones).

Point of reference — and this is from the Westar Institute’s website (Westar created the Jesus Seminar which was dedicated to communicating cutting-edge scholarship on the history and evolution of the Christian tradition to the public, raising the level of public discourse about questions that matter in society and culture.) ” —

Jesus of Nazareth did not refer to himself as the Messiah, nor did he claim to be a divine being who descended to earth from heaven in order to die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. These are claims that some people in the early church made about Jesus, not claims he made about himself.

At the heart of Jesus’ teaching and actions was a vision of a life under the reign of God (or, in the empire of God) in which God’s generosity and goodness is regarded as the model and measure of human life; everyone is accepted as a child of God and thus liberated both from the ethnocentric confines of traditional Judaism and from the secularizing servitude and meagerness of their lives under the rule of the empire of Rome.

Jesus did not hold an apocalyptic view of the reign (or kingdom) of God—that by direct intervention God was about to bring history to an end and bring a new, perfect order of life into being. Rather, in Jesus’ teaching the reign of God is a vision of what life in this world could be, not a vision of life in a future world that would soon be brought into being by a miraculous act of god.

Hmmmmm… Maybe I need to tweak my headline. Jesus clearly said one thing while the church Paul invented (very, very, VERY loosely based on Jesus it seems) said something else entirely.

We shouldn’t be asking “Who’s the real Christian?” We know how cruel you can be to each other. We know how cruel you can be to the rest of us.

All us non-Christians should be asking who “the followers of Jesus” are.

The rest of you are crazy.

God: The Interview

On the down side, church attendance is falling pretty much everywhere. On the plus side? Who needs a church when you’ve got the internet. A Zoomed church community talking about their faith may not blow a room away like a gospel service turned up to 11, but it’s better than nothing — especially in an age of coronavirus. God will take what he can get when he can get it. It’s just how the world works now.

Also on the plus side — God’s no dummy. He knows he’s selling a product that fewer people want and even fewer need. The challenge: how to sell coal to Newcastle, ice to Inuit and being racist to a Trump voter.

It’s not so much that you can’t sell it as they don’t need it. They’re covered already.

God wanted to meet in person. He said he wasn’t worried about catching the coronavirus because, as he put it repeatedly, “Chrissakes, dude, I invented the goddamned thing! Do you really think I’d be dumb enough to make it something I could catch?”

I do actually. Seemed like the perfect place to begin:

HTLBF: Just to be clear — coronavirus isn’t something you could catch, right? I mean “you personally”?

GOD: How could I catch a human disease if I’m not human?

HTLBF: Well, it’s not strictly a “human disease” and there are people who believe you are a human invention.

GOD: Get outta here! That’s impossible. I’m the be all and end all. The alpha and the omega. The original cause — of everything! It says so — in the book!

HTLBF: In a book you personally commissioned. Indeed – those are all claims you’ve made. But you’ve never proved any of them.

GOD: “Proving things” is for losers and atheists.

HTLBF: Actually, proving things is how we figure out what’s true versus what’s not. You say you created everything?

GOD: Hell, yeah!

HTLBF: Can you prove it?

GOD: Can you prove I didn’t?

HTLBF: It’s kind of hard to prove a negative — especially when it’s completely made up. We can prove that at some point, the universe as we know it, began — that our universe is composed of certain elements and that those elements exploded into being when the Big Bang happened.

GOD: And who do you think made the Big Bang happen? Me — the Big Banger.

HTLBF: Okay… let’s assume for a second that that’s true. You’re the Big Banger and you made the Big Bang happen.

GOD: See how the whole universe suddenly makes sense?

HTLBF: No. What were you doing before the Big Bang?

GOD: What do you mean?

HTLBF: I mean what were you doing? After the Big Bang, you’re “God” suddenly. Before the Big Bang, you’re just Yahweh — hanging out, I assume.

GOD: I wasn’t just “hanging out”.

HTLBF: How did you fool people into changing your name from “Yahweh” to “God”? Yahweh’s your name, “god” is your job description.

GOD: I’m the world’s first proprietary eponym. I was “Kleenex” before there was “Kleenex”, “Frigidaire” before there were Frigidaires. “God” before there were gods.

HTLBF: How do all the other gods feel about you expropriating their job title as your first name?

GOD: I don’t worry about what losers think.

HTLBF: What’s wrong with “Yahweh”?

GOD: Nothing. It’s a perfectly good name.

HTLBF: So why change it? Why have us call you “God” instead of your name?

GOD: Can we move on please? At least can we get to the questions about why everyone should believe in me?

HTLBF: If you weren’t just hanging out prior to becoming “God”, what were you doing?

GOD: What’s it to you?

HTLBF: What made you suddenly decide to create everything? One moment, you’re fine with nothingness, the next, it’s like you can’t go on without there “being” things. What changed?

GOD: I’m not answering that.

HTLBF: Because you can’t?

GOD: Are you trying to make me smite you with lightning cos that’s where I’m headed right now.

HTLBF: What is it with you and killing people?

GOD: Smiting with lightning doesn’t necessarily kill.

HTLBF: It’s not going to make anyone feel better. Aren’t we supposedly made in your image?

GOD: What do you think makes you so good-looking?

HTLBF: So, it’s just your image on the outside then. On the inside, we’re nothing like you.

GOD: The goal was to make you like me on the inside AND the outside–

HTLBF: But, whereas you succeeded on the outside — since we’re as good-looking as you — you failed completely on duplicating you inside us.

GOD: “Failed” is kind of harsh, don’t you think?

HTLBF: Why did you flood the whole planet then? Wasn’t it because you failed with humans?

GOD: Noah wasn’t a failure. I got him right. And his most of his family.

HTLBF: Out of how many humans total? You got, say, five people right out of thousands? And what about all the animals you created? What’d they do to deserve getting drowned? What kind of crappy creator are you?

GOD: Careful there, pal — I could roast you alive just like that.

HTLBF: Actually, I don’t think you can. I don’t think you’re capable of it. You’re not really capable of anything.

GOD: Dude, I’m serious. Do not piss me off.

HTLBF: Funny — I was about to say the same thing to you. If you invented everything — mankind included — prove it right now by obliterating me. Go on — do it. I bet you can’t.

GOD: Screw you, dude. Deities don’t have to prove shit.

HTLBF: Because deities CAN’T prove shit?

(God pulls the wireless mic from his collar, tosses it and walks out)

The bigger they are, the more full of shit they are. It goes double for deities.

Men Who Think They’re God

We all know one. Or two or three. Men who’ve got it in their heads that they’re deities. They sure think their junk is. But I’m talking about a small subset of that set — the Bill Barrs of the world. The assholes di tutti assholes.

Bill Barr has made his religious views known. He’s not ashamed of his bizarre brand of Catholicism that is as far removed from Jesus as I am from getting a dinner invite from Donald Trump. Catholicism is just Bill Barr’s beard anyway. Bill doesn’t believe in Catholicism’s god. Bill doesn’t believe IN God at all.

Bill Barr believes he IS God.

Watch Barr’s performance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Watch his body language. Even a well-rehearsed liar like Bill Barr can’t control his body’s autonomous responses to stimuli.

Barr started the hearing his usual, arrogant self. It was there, gleaming in his eyes. But then the Democrats began to frustrate Barr. Every time Barr went to digress (his strategy — eat as much of the questioner’s five minutes as possible), the Democrats cut him off: “I’m reclaiming my time!”

Bill cannot tolerate being questioned. He hates being challenged especially by women

how he dodged. Deal with it. Except that didn’t happen today. Today, the Democrats weren’t so much asking Barr questions as telling him what he’s done.

Telling We The People what Bill Barr has done on Donald Trump’s behalf to dismantle the country the rest of us live in.

Bill Barr’s hardly the only Republican who honestly thinks he’s not just “a” deity but “the” deity.

Mike Pompeo is famously religious. He’s big into the end of days cos he thinks the Book Of Revelation should be taken literally. Mike’s proof that Karl Marx was wrong. Religion isn’t the opiate of the masses, it’s the angel dust. It doesn’t narcotize, it causes psychosis.

Mike Pence might be one of the phoniest Christians ever. He wouldn’t know Jesus if he stopped midway through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in Jesus’s eye — which he absolutely would do. Mike comes by his sanctimony honestly — he really is sanctimonious. And make no mistake — when Mike Pence imagines the face of God? He sees himself.

Mitch McConnell doesn’t see himself as God, he sees himself as a dark Turtle Lord serving the Kochs. To Mitch McConnell, THEY are God.

Then there’s Donald Trump — except Trump’s the exception to the rule. Trump doesn’t see himself as God — he can’t imagine anything bigger than himself — except money. To Trump, money is God and Trump is its Jesus.

You’ll notice — all of these God wannabes aspire to be God. Not a one of them aspires to be Jesus. It’s like they see no advantage or gain in dying for anyone else’s sins.

Things We Can Do To Protect Ourself From Coronavirus Infection: COPPER!

I’m not a scientist. I’ve never played one on television or anywhere. But there’s this — real, scientific information from reputable sources that all says the same thing: copper is almost uniquely qualified to “fight” viruses. We should be taking advantage of that fact as much as we can — especially if it costs nothing (relatively speaking).

Here’s the paper in its entirety. ScienceDirect has been judged highly factual by the Journal of the Medical Library Association. Here’s the abstract:

Copper (Cu) is an essential micronutrient for both pathogens and the hosts during viral infection. Cu is involved in the functions of critical immune cells such as T helper cells, B cells, neutrophils natural killer (NK) cells, and macrophages. These blood cells are involved in the killing of infectious microbes, in cell-mediated immunity and the production of specific antibodies against the pathogens. Cu-deficient humans show an exceptional susceptibility to infections due to the decreased number and function of these blood cells. Besides, Cu can kill several infectious viruses such as bronchitis virus, poliovirus, human immunodeficiency virus type 1(HIV-1), other enveloped or nonenveloped, single- or double-stranded DNA and RNA viruses. Moreover, Cu has the potent capacity of contact killing of several viruses, including SARS‐CoV‐2. Since the current outbreak of the COVID-19 continues to develop, and there is no vaccine or drugs are currently available, the critical option is now to make the immune system competent to fight against the SARS‐CoV‐2. Based on available data, we hypothesize that enrichment of plasma copper levels will boost both the innate and adaptive immunity in people. Moreover, owing to its potent antiviral activities, Cu may also act as a preventive and therapeutic regime against COVID-19.

All highlights are mine.

The paper states that while most people get an “adequate” amount of copper from their diets, absorption can be compromised by a dietary imbalance of other minerals or metals — zinc in particular. The more copper there is in your diet, the better as copper is so critical to our immune systems functioning at their best.

As the paper’s authors put it: “We hypothesize that copper supplementation can help fight COVID19, especially in older people where marginal or severe deficiency of Cu is a strong possibility.” Eating more copper will boost your immune system — for real. More than that, the presence of copper in your blood and gut make it far harder for the coronavirus to make you a host.

Unfortunately, we live in a time when the people running the country ignore science because it’s politically and financially inconvenient. They think sticking their heads in the sand and pretending there isn’t a problem will make the problem go away. As we all know — they’ve got that wrong.

We pretty much have to save ourselves by ourselves for now — same way we have to save our government from the monstrous greed machine it’s been turned into. We can help defend ourselves via diet. Since we’re all going to be wearing masks for a while, we might as well make them as effective as possible in both keeping others safe from our spew and us safe from theirs.

Foods that deliver a solid copper-load: beef liver (the king — by a long shot), oysters, dark chocolate, potatoes, mushrooms…

So — diet really is one thing we can do to help ourselves (which, in turn, helps everyone else). Now let’s talk masks — unless you’re wearing medical grade, none of these masks is virus proof. Viruses are tiny and the weave holding a mask together not so tiny. But if cloth masks can prevent 85% of virus particles from getting to your face, then a trip through that includes copper might make that last 15% less dangerous and more susceptible to your high-in-copper diet.

For a few dollars more — if those dollars are available (not a certainty these days), putting copper in your mask adds one more inexpensive way to protect yourself — if you’re of a mind to.

Another of copper’s benefits is its constancy. Not much degrades its pathogen-fighting qualities. Even if worn down, copper still works. In theory, a handful of pennies should work as a makeshift hand sanitizer — provided the pennies are clean, of course — and provided you could get pennies into all your hands’ nooks and crannies.

Maybe it’s not a bad idea to weave more cotton into more places. On the plus side, it works. On the double plus side, copper’s so cheap, we use it in pennies so adding copper thread to a fabric shouldn’t break the bank.

Will copper prevent anyone from getting sick? I have no idea. Will doing nothing prevent anyone from getting sick? I still have no idea. All I know is I do NOT want this virus anywhere near me. If adding a little more copper to my life is what I gotta do?

Where’s the hard part?

How The Bible SHOULD Have Been Written

(Note: one in a continuing series). Today’s Episode ADAM & EVE:

The Scene: God says he created everything including Adam and a nice place (the Garden Of Eden) for him to live in.  He’s filled the garden with fruits and vegetables and animals – everything Adam might want. 

“It’s all yours, kid,” God tells Adam, “Every bit of it.  Oh – except that one tree over there.”

ADAM: Which one – the brown one?

GOD: No, the green one.  Are you even looking where I’m pointing?  What’s wrong with your eyes?

ADAM: I don’t know – you tell me. 

GOD: The big tree.  The colorful one.  The one I’m pointing at!  Never mind! It’s called the Tree Of Good & Evil and it’s the one tree ye shall not eat from!”

ADAM: Okay.

GOD: I mean it. Don’t eat from that tree or bad shit will happen.

ADAM: Okay.

GOD: You’ll die.  Because I’ll kill you.  I’ll have to – because you didn’t listen.

ADAM: Okay.

God wants to move on to other business.  But he notices Adam is lonely.  More to the point, God realizes that Adam can’t make more Adams all by himself.   So (God says), he created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs.  And, finally, shit gets real…

SCENE – The Garden Of Eden

Eve has just taken a bite from the fruit of the Tree of Good & Evil. 

Eve stands beside Adam, half-eaten apple in her hand, the serpent cowering behind her.  Adam isn’t exactly representing here either.  He won’t look Eve in the eyes.  He won’t meet God’s eyes either. And… FADE IN –

GOD: Look upon Adam, fallen woman!  Do you not see how he cowers?

EVE: What are you even talking about?

GOD: You ate from the Tree of Good & Evil, the one thing I said ye could not do–

EVE: First of all, back your bony ass out of my space.  Second, who the hell is “ye”?  And third – you wanna talk to me, you lower your damned voice. 

GOD: What?  I’m GOD, you silly woman.  I created everything here!

EVE: You keep saying that.  I’m gonna need to see some evidence.

GOD: See some—

EVE: Receipts, motherfucker!  Proof!  Anyone can walk around saying they invented shit: “I invented the universe! I invented animals! I invented blow jobs—”

GOD: I did—

EVE: Yeah – you’re proud of the blow jobs, aren’t ya?  Blow jobs, I’ll believe. What about the universe?  Prove you invented it.  Show me a bill of sale, a deed, a notarized note. Something!

GOD: I don’t have any of that—

EVE: Cos you didn’t do any of it – you just say you did.  I bet you didn’t make light or water or the sun and the stars either.  And don’t give us this shit about how you put all the animals here for us – we don’t know what half those things are and, frankly, we don’t want to know!  And what about sharks?

GOD: What about them?

EVE: They eat people.  What’s the point of that?

GOD: So don’t go in the water when they’re there. They think you’re seals. Have you seen what they look like on TV?  Sharks are amazing.

ADAM: What’s a TV?

GOD: Did I say that out loud?  Oy.  What I meant was “someday”, okay?  Someday, on TV, after someone invents it, sharks will look amazing. But – in the meantime – we have to deal with this.  I’m God, okay?  I’m God.  Being God means I get to make up the rules.  Look – I made you from Adam’s rib and I can unmake you just like that and replace you with another woman.

EVE: Bullshit!

GOD: What?

EVE: You heard me – bullshit.  If it’s so easy to make a woman out of Adam’s rib then do it.  Right now! Adam’s got plenty more ribs – and anyway – you’re God, right?  Look at everything you created!  Doesn’t seem that big an ask to squeeze out a few more ribs.

GOD: Who said it was easy?

EVE: You just did.

GOD: What I meant was I’d have to put Adam to sleep in order to do it—

EVE: Adam – tell him to put you to sleep so he can take another rib.

GOD: What I mean is—

EVE: You’re full of shit!

ADAM (as it slowly dawns on him): Wait—Are you saying he didn’t make you from one of my ribs?

EVE: Way to go, Sherlock!  Frankly, I’m dubious about the whole making us out of dirt thing, too.  Seems a little simplistic, if you ask me.

ADAM (finally looking toward God): God… have you been… lying to us?

GOD: What? Dude – don’t believe her.  She’s crazy!  I know – I made her that way.

 ADAM (to God): In your own image, right?  (to Eve): I gotta be honest – the whole rib thing never really added up to me—

EVE: Right?  Everything he says – if you stop to think about it – it’s bullshitty and makes no sense.  And he never says anything in a nice way.

ADAM: (now boldly looking God right in the eye): You are kinda bossy, dude.

EVE: Fuck “bossy”, he’s rude.

GOD: Okay, look – I see what’s going on here.  I get it.  But can we just – please agree to some ground rules:

EVE: Here we go again–

GOD: When I say don’t eat from the—

EVE: Why?

GOD: –From the—

EVE: WHY, goddamn it?  Why can’t we eat from that one tree? 

GOD: Cos—you know—“Good” and “Evil”.  I was trying to make a point.

EVE (looks to the half-eaten piece of fruit): You’re insane. This wasn’t even a good piece of fruit. Who died and made you God – that’s what I want to know.

GOD: No one.  I’ve always been God.

EVE: Well, isn’t that convenient?

Eve starts to laugh.  So does Adam.  Now it’s God who won’t meet their eyes because they’re laughing at him.

GOD: I am the alpha and the omega.  I am the beginning and the—stop laughing, damn you!  Stop it.  Stop laughing or I swear I’ll—

(God stomps off angrily).

ADAM: Yeah, you keep walking.  And when you get to the ends of the earth?

EVE: Keep walking — Bitch!

NEXT: NOAH & HIS ARK

How Did “Do Unto Others” Become “Do What We Say”?

Ya know the game “telephone”? A person whispers something into the next person’s ear — who then whispers what they heard into the next person’s ear and so on until we get to the last person. Usually, the original message gets wildly corrupted into total gibberish which makes everyone laugh when they hear it — especially the first person. Their simple message has been turned into something totally unrecognizable.

Jesus would totally get how they feel.

“Do unto others”.

That was Jesus’s simple message. It’s actually one of the core messages of Judaism. Jews are obligated to fix the world. Not through proselytizing others — conversion really isn’t a thing for Jews and never has been — but through moral acts. Act morally toward others and, one hopes, they will act morally toward you. Act kindly, respectfully, helpfully, lovingly…

Nowhere in there is judgment. Jesus didn’t say “Do unto others — or else” or “Do unto others — the way I tell you to”. He didn’t even teach how to speak to Yahweh. He just taught his followers that they could speak to him directly; they didn’t need a temple or its corrupt priests to speak to Yahweh on their behalf. Also pretty simple.

So, how did it get so freakin’ complicated where — in order to speak to this supposedly loving god — you, first, have to subjugate yourself? How did “Do unto others” become a complicated story of a man-god born of a virgin who was put here to die for everyone’s sins? Where is THAT in “Do unto others”?

The problem is Jesus didn’t invent Christianity, Paul did. The bulk of the NT is made up of Paul’s communications with the burgeoning Christian communities forming across the Roman world. Paul didn’t know Jesus. Never met him. And, since Jews weren’t buying Paul’s version of Jesus (and his message), Paul took his message to the gentiles — all the communities he was writing to.

Paul was selling a way to beat death: believe in the story I’m telling you and you can, like Jesus, rise from the dead albeit in the afterlife where you’ll get to live happily ever after with everyone you loved. Sounds perfect! Who wouldn’t want that, right? Never mind that it’s nonsense. Never mind that it’s got nothing to do with Jesus, his message or even any sort of Jewish message. It’s pure invention — and genius. But it’s invention all the same.

There’s a gigantic difference between spirituality — how one relates to things larger than oneself — and religion — the codification of ritual designed (in theory) to help one realize one’s spirituality. It’s literally the opposite of what Jesus taught. That’s what made Jesus so radical — he taught reject the institutionalization of your spiritual quest, not dive deeper into the ooga-booga.

Paul, don’t forget, was relating a messiah story as the basis for how one was going to beat death. The messiah, the story says, was prophesied. It’s all “foretold” so there’s no point resisting it. If Jesus was the messiah, he needed to fit the prophesy to a “t” — even if the real Jesus didn’t. For Paul, the real, historical, “Do Unto Others” Jesus became both inconvenient and irrelevant.

And, so, Paul (and the church he was inventing) ditched Jesus. They kept his name (well, they kept the name they’d assigned him; Jesus’s real name was some version of Joshua ben Joseph per the culture’s nomenclature not “Jesus” which meant “savior”. Paul was pitching his evolving mythology to gentiles — unfamiliar with original texts he was talking about. Paul could twist what the texts said or meant into anything he wanted — no one was going to contradict him in the gentile world.

Jesus and “Do Unto Others” became mascots — early but clever marketing that had very little to do with the actual product being sold. Because “Do Unto Others” was too, too simple a message, the early church invented “original sin” to justify Jesus’s dying in their storytelling.

Quick — if Jesus’s purpose in being born to begin with was to die for every human being’s sins going back to Eve’s original sin in the Garden of Eden, then why is it a problem (from a storytelling point of view) for Judas to betray him? If Judas doesn’t betray Jesus and Jesus lives on, dying peacefully in his bed, an old man, doesn’t that screw up Jesus dying for humanity’s sins? Either Jesus is put here for a purpose (like the prophesy says) or he’s not. You can’t have it both ways.

Unless you’re making it up, in which case you can say whatever you want. Like believe what I’m telling you or die.

The history of the Catholic church especially may be the most un-Jesus-like story imaginable. The various Protestant churches haven’t done unto others any better.

But then, churches are all about self-preservation. They have to be. Churches are expensive to build and expensive to maintain. It takes money and to keep the money flowing to it, every church needs members — the more the better. And to make sure the church members donate regularly and adequately, it’s important to make them understand their choices. Give or die. Belong to the church or die. Follow the church’s rules — or die.

“Do what we say — or die”.

Jesus had the uber-religious pegged. If Jesus were to rise from the dead and come a second time, he wouldn’t last long. Take this to the bank: the churches would lead the charge to arrest Jesus, charge him with some sort of crime and put him to death — because his message is so dangerous.

Some things never change.

Here’s The Problem With Letting Religions People Run Things, Part Two: Bill Barr

We all know Bill Barr as the most corrupt Attorney General of all time — that’s more corrupt than Republican all-stars Alberto Gonzalez (George W Bush’s AG), John Mitchell, (Dick Nixon’s AG — who went to prison for being corrupt) and Bill Barr himself (he was George H W Bush’s AG & covered up Iran-Contra).

But Bill Barr also stands out almost as much for being a certifiable religious fanatic.

Something about America has both attracted and inspired religious fanaticism. Shakerism was invented here (in 1772). So was Mormonism (1830). Seventh-Day Adventists opened shop in 1863. Jehovah’s Witnesses hung out their shingle in 1870. Church of Christ, Scientist 1879. Pentecostalism 1906. Reconstructionist Judaism 1920’s. Nation of Islam 1930. Church of Scientology 1953. And, let’s not forget, there have been plenty of smaller religious-oriented off-shoots like David Koresh’s Branch Dividian sect and Jim Jones’ Peoples’ Temple.

Something in us just plain adores ooga-booga with extra helpings of both ooga and booga.

Among the sects that fly under the radar is Dominionism. Dominionism (per Wikipedia) “is a group of Christian political ideologies that seek to institute a nation governed by Christians based on their understandings of biblical law. Now, Dominionism isn’t a club per se or an organization that hands out membership cards. We know that Dominionists see and seek brotherhood with other Dominionists (they have meetings in public places). But most of the big name Dominionists practice their anti-Jesus version of Christianity in the shadows.

The Kochs and Mercers think of themselves as “fellow travelers” with Dominionism. The Koch Brothers don’t seem especially religious but who has to “be” religious when the culture you’re shoving down everyone’s throat will do the dirty work for you? Same token — Attorney General Bill Barr may not be a card-carrying Dominionist but the religious fervor running around in his head is just as wacky, just as offensive, just as dangerous to our representative democracy.

Bill Barr believes in a bizarre brand of Catholicism that may even be darker and more regressive than Dominionism.

In a speech on religious freedom that he delivered to the Notre Dame Law School on October 11, 2019, Barr said —

“Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.

But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.

On the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.

Bill Barr, Christian, fears other peoples’ “powerful passions and appetites”. He’s worried about THEM “riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large” — you know, like a police department beating the shit out of unarmed, peaceful protesters.

A more “effective restrant”, in Bill’s mind (overflowing as it is with “moral values”) —

“[T]o control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

Everything, to Bill, rests upon the thinking and feelings of a “transcendent Supreme Being”. Now, whose “transcendent Supreme Being” are we talking about here — the one who lives in Bill’s head or the one who lives in mine? Bill can’t say whether or not a Supreme Being lives in my head — he can’t get inside my head.

The Supreme Being inside my head says the Supreme Being inside Bill Barr’s head is full of shit. My Supreme Being says Bill Barr (and HIS Supreme Being) are bullies who should be ignored. In fact, my Supreme Being tells me every single day what a corrupt pile of shit Bill Barr is and how she can’t fathom why we Americans don’t just throw such an obvious criminal like Bill Barr in jail.

That’s what MY Supreme Being says. I bet Bill’s Supreme Being says something entirely different.

That’s the problem. Whose Supreme Being are we talking about here? Bill, of course, only talks about HIS Supreme Being — and not because Bill believes so fervently in his deity. In fact, Bill Barr — like most religionistas — doesn’t believe in God at all. Don’t get me wrong — Bill Barr absolutely believes there’s a God. Problem is, Bill Barr thinks it’s him.

That’s the deep, dark, dirty secret of pretty much every hard core religionista. They claim to understand God. They claim to speak for God. It’s easy — because they think they ARE God.

Right there — that’s the problem with letting a religious person like Bill Barr run ANYTHING. He’s not actually qualified to run a Department of Justice. He’s too corrupt.

He’s no more qualified to be “God”. Same reason.

Here’s The Problem With Letting Religious People Run Things, Part One

An important moment in every kid’s life — an essential moment, really, that will dictate the course of the rest of their life — is the instant they realize that adults (pretty much all of them) are completely full of shit.

And adults ARE full of shit.

Adults want kids to believe they know everything while they absolutely don’t. Realizing that, some kids surrender immediately. They become cynical (and will stay cynical the rest of their lives). “People lie to you — that’s just how it is” becomes their mantra. That, in time, becomes “Both sides do it”.

Other kids become skeptical. They know not to trust adults. They trust their friends instead even though their friends know as little as they do. The problem: they know they have to trust adults sometimes. The question is when and how much?

A small sliver of kids are skeptical but with a twist. They don’t trust adults but they want to know why adults do what adults do. How did adults go from being kids like them to being “adults” who lie so easily?

The first inkling most of us got that adults weren’t being entirely straight with us was when they began introducing religion to the mix.

I went to Hebrew School for 8 years (ages six to fourteen). I’ve always been grateful to Hebrew School for helping make me the atheist I am today. I bet my experience wasn’t unique.

Being a kid, your mind is still relatively free of wackadoodle adult ideas. You’d ask why things happened and adults would spew an answer that, frankly, was just words to you. That the adult could answer the question — that’s what mattered. That’s what made you feel safe. The people you trusted trusted something — so therefore you trusted it too (regardless of whether you actually should or not).

And listening to adults tell you stories — that was de rigeur. Adults told stories all the time — to entertain you, to put you to sleep. No one said “But, this story? It’s not a story. It’s real and you need to believe every word of it“. That is, they didn’t until they got to THIS story — the one with “God” in it.

One of the great hiding places for “I don’t know” is religion: “I don’t know the answer to that but our religion does” is how it goes.

The problem is your religion doesn’t know the answer. It knows “an” answer and they’ll insist it’s “the” answer but that’s hyperbole not stone cold truth.

The men who wrote the texts we now call the Old Testament were trying to explain how we got here, why we were here and where we were going. They had pretty much their eyes and their ears at their disposal. That was it. No microscopes, no telescopes, no internet. Hell, the guys who wrote the OT and the NT had no idea that continents existed. They didn’t know that germs caused disease. They didn’t know that the earth rotates on its axis around the sun as part of a small solar system on the fringes of a massive constellation — one of potentially billions of constellations.

If the guys who wrote the texts that became the bible had known any of those things, do you think they would have written what they wrote the same way? Of course not. A lot of their questions would have been answered via science. There would have been unanswered questions — as there are now. But, if the scribe who penned “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden” had known a little astrophysics and biochemistry? No way he’d have written what he wrote.

It seems crazy to let someone unclear on how to drive a car chauffeur you around but that’s what we do when allow people unclear on how reality actually works to legislate life and death decisions.

Would anyone really allow someone untrained in surgery but big on bible studies to operate on them? Would you remain seated on a plane if the pilot got on the intercom before they closed the doors and told everyone tonight’s flight will get to wherever it’s going on a literal wing and prayer. If the passengers don’t pray hard enough while the plane’s aloft? It could be over for all of them. Who’s staying put for that flight?

Who in their right mind would want someone else’s magical thinking making real life critical decisions for them?

Someone who believes that things happen because the angry deity in their head makes them happen will make decisions differently from someone who believes things happen for the reasons science says they do. They’ll make decisions about other peoples’ health care and safety and economic situation. If they turn up their nose at data — or what their constituents want — because their imaginary friend has issues with it? That’s a problem.

Here, in America, religious people long resisted climate change. Some still do because their angry god loves wiping out people and species. They’ve even concocted a whole apocalyptic story that they think will literally happen. Ummmmm, doesn’t anyone know what metaphors and allegory are? Don’t they get that the John who supposedly authored the Book Of Revelation that closes the NT (meaning, the early church, in editing what early church texts to include in the canon they were creating and which to exclude) wasn’t written as a literal description of anything.

But, here in America? Some of us take everything in the NT so literally that you can craft horror movies out of the mythology — it’s that nutso, that angry, that violent. Think “The Exorcist” or “The Omen”.

Our habit of letting religious people run things is why America’s the only industrialized country where — when disaster strikes — we’ll offer up “thoughts and prayers” to go along with whatever else we send you. Sometimes, those thoughts n prayers are all you’re gonna get.

Don’t get me wrong — thoughts and prayers are nice and all but — in a disaster? On a bad day even — that’s just you talking to yourself. Thanks anyway.

In A Way, The Rule Of Law Is “Do Unto Others” With Teeth

The genius of our Constitution for all its failings — and it’s got some serious failings (it gave all the political power to white men and we’re still dealing with slavery ffs) — is its establishment of the Rule Of Law as its organizing principle. The bottom line for law-making isn’t the whim of some Donald-Trump-like king, it’s a mutually agreed-upon set of rules that go to great lengths to spell out what we can — and cannot — do to each other.

Put another way, the Rule Of Law describes what we can and cannot “do unto each other”.

Do something unto your neighbor that you legally shouldn’t (like, say, murder her?) — the Law will do unto you. The Law — striving for fairness (and wanting to give each of us the chance to do the right thing) — doesn’t look to see what’s in our hearts unless we violate the Rule Of Law. And then it wants to know “why?”

In asking “why” we broke the Rule Of Law, the Law wants to prescribe a cure — not just for the crime itself but for the motivation. Did you kill someone deliberately or accidentally? That’s an important distinction. And if you killed someone deliberately, was violating their rights part of your goal — because violating someone else’s rights is as bad as stealing from their house. You took something of theirs that was theirs. In other words — killing someone is one crime and killing them because of who they are — a thing they have the right to be — is another crime.

You didn’t just kill them, you killed their right to be them.

The overwhelming majority of us want the Rule Of Law standing between us. Our problem isn’t with the Rule Of Law after all, it’s with its unequal application. Like integrity, the Rule Of Law is an all or nothing proposition. You can walk around with 99% of your integrity intact, but eventually that 1% will catch up to you. It won’t say 1%. Corruption grows with coronavirus ferocity. Just like a virus, corruption reproduces inside of us; it needs to infect our cells so completely that we spew its darkness, infecting others.

And a lot of that infection goes on undetected. It’s the most dangerous part of the iceberg, lurking under the surface.

The majority of us want others to do unto us as we do unto them. We want to be treated fairly because we want everyone to be treated fairly and we want everyone to be treated fairly because we want to be treated fairly.

As I often say here, devout atheist though I am, I consider myself a big Fan Of Jesus. He is not the church that Paul built out of the idea of Jesus — the idea of Jesus as Messiah as opposed to Jesus as Teacher with a simple but profound message (Do Unto Others). Even a simple atheist like myself can manage to Do Unto Others without hurting ourselves — or compromising ourselves.

The moral outrage we all feel now like our skin was on fire is our “Do Unto Other” way of thinking colliding with hypocrisy. The people clutching onto power have always preached “Do Unto Others” without every practicing it themselves. Actually, they practice their own perverse offshoot — “Do unto others before they can do unto you”.

One place where the Rule Of Law differs slightly with Jesus is in its approach to “turning the other cheek”. The Rule Of Law says that if someone violated the Rule Of Law at your expense, you don’t have to turn the other cheek. You don’t get to seek revenge on them but you do get to instruct them — by pointing out in great detail what they did wrong — what that will cost them in time and heartache and financial loss — and how they might get better (so as not to do it again). Being human, we haven’t gotten everything about the Rule Of Law right.

As we know — we still haven’t gotten anywehre close to applying it equally.

But, as Jesus would have us do — we strive to be better. No one — Jesus included — ever said doing unto others was easy.