Show Me A Person Who Claims To "Speak For God" & I'll Show You A Person Who Thinks They ARE "God"

This really should be a no-brainer. Ask ten theists what “God” is & you will get ten distinctly different answers.

Ask 10 ardent theists — evangelicals, say — what “God” is and, if you listen really closely, what you’ll get is a person describing themselves. The absolutes and the moral imperatives heavy with the weight of Ultimate Decision-Making which are so far beyond the understanding of mere mortals don’t perturb the uber-religious. You see, THEIR minds CAN parse the subtleties and nuances of Divine Intent. They understand “the code”. They — unlike you or I — communicate with God on a much higher level than mere words. God thinks a thing and voila — it appears magically inside THEIR head so that THEY can dispense it to us.

That is how most theists think. It’s impossible for anyone to contradict them, of course, because no one else can crawl inside their head — the place where these divine messages were generated AND received. They can’t “prove” they DID receive a message but then, in their world, no one has to prove anything. Your word is your bond no matter how nonsensical your word is.

“God told me to do it” goes right back to Abraham coming within inches of sacrificing Isaac — the thing he loved more than life itself (supposedly). It must be “supposedly” because Abraham loved the voice in his head more than his son. He was willing to satisfy the voice’s need for loyalty over his child’s need for Life. This is the angry, self-centered, vengeful and markedly male god at the center of Abrahamic faith.

Even this deity’s “path to redemption” is boiled in blood. His own “son” has to die a horrible death so mankind can be forgiven for the character Eve biting into an apple. Think about the people who insist that these stories, steeped in metaphor and allegory and all kinds of literary device (being written as they were by creative humans) are literal truth. It’s no wackier than someone insisting the every book in the Dr. Seuss canon is literal truth.

The luxury of selling bullshit is that you never, ever have to back it up. There are no warranties, no service contracts. There’s just the sucker you took — their money in your hand and your bullshit in theirs.

Pick a televangelist — Franklin Graham… Kenneth Copeland… Benny Hinn… Joel OSteen… Listen to them get down to business. Listen to how they speak for the deity in whose service they supposedly work. Then actually THINK about it. What did they study to gain this ability? They studied THE BIBLE. They studied a work of literature whose history (how it came together) they probably don’t even know.

In other words — they studied a book of mostly fiction in order to claim expertise on dealing with reality. If the (mostly) men who wrote the texts that, in time, were assembled into the Pentateuch (the OT) and the NT had had access to the internet, if they had had microscopes at their disposal and telescopes — if they had known about germ theory and understood (having seen hard evidence) that the earth was NOT at the center of the Universe — you can bet they wouldn’t have written their texts the way they wrote them because it wouldn’t have made sense to THEM.

The NT & OT texts reflect a great deal of very real (but honest) ignorance. The people who wrote the OT & NT, by the way, didn’t know that more than one continent existed. Hell, they didn’t even know what continents were. If these texts were so divinely inspired, why didn’t the deity who supposedly created the universe have any insight into how the universe actually works?

Every time there’s a hint of “intelligent design” in the mix, we get a strong whiff of how stupid this “intelligent designer” actually is. This guy couldn’t design “hitting water” after falling out of a boat in the middle of the sea. He’s so inept even his union wants him gone.

There’s nothing wrong with taking “spiritual guidance” from the pages of the NT and OT. Personally, I’d say the spiritual guidance those texts advocate is dubious — but that’s just my opinion. The point is, they’re just “guidance” written by people a long, long time ago. People telling you today that those words were literally written by a magical man in the sky — or inspired by him — are bypassing spiritual guidance for ooga-booga.

Spirituality is you and things much larger than you — cosmically larger. How do you see and define that relationship? That’s your spirituality. Even a stone cold atheist, when gazing up at the cosmos, cannot help feeling awe. We live in an awesome universe. It’s so awesome in fact that we don’t even fully understand it yet.

Religion is someone trying to quantify your spirituality. They’re trying to tell you “how” to “practice” your spirituality. But, is that your spirituality they’re talking about — or “theirs”? Trick question — of course it’s theirs! They don’t give a toss about YOUR spirituality. They’re not selling yours, they’re selling theirs.

And they need you to buy theirs because building and maintaining churches is an expensive proposition. They really are black holes of cash. Most religion is trying to get YOU to help pay off THEIR shitty “time share” investment. That takes money. And getting the money it takes to flow in reliably enough requires bodies — paying members in your congregation. Oh — there’s probably a priest or a rabbi to pay for, too.

When televangelist John Hagee looks out at you and implores you to send him money, it’s not because he wants to feed your soul. He’s got expenses. Hard, hard expenses. A bank load that he cannot default on — or else. Or, maybe he’s REALLY rich and owns his own building outright. Then it’s just the upkeep he’s worried about. And his salary.

Ever see this incredible piece of tape where Kenneth Copland explains why this “spokesman for Jesus” needs a private jet to get from place to place? It’s all you need to know about most modern Christianity, televangelism, Kenneth Copeland and bullshit in general.

Look at Kenneth’s eyes in the clip. It’s a great acting job (well, not “great” so much as just an acting job that he’s committed to in his own embarrassingly over-the-top kinda way). Is that a man working in service of a higher power — or does he have it in his head that the reason he can’t fly with “riff-raff” is because GOD don’t fly with riff-raff — and he (make no mistake) is God?

If we take Jesus at his word (meaning if we look at the dozen or so things the various gospels agree Jesus might have said — keeping in mind that none of the actual gospel-writers ever met Jesus or heard his voice or words — one of his core messages is you don’t need a temple or its priests to communicate with God. Any believer can skip the intermediary and speak directly to “The Father”.

If that’s true, then why would one need a Kenneth Copeland or a Franky Graham or any of those sideshow geeks? One wouldn’t. One doesn’t.

One never did. But then, if everyone understood that, Ken & Frank & Benny would all have to find honest work.

What a sad come-down that would be for a mediocre deity.

At Last! We've Reached The Part Of The Story Where Mitch McConnell Gets Revealed As The Uber Villain He's Always Been

This won’t be news to the people who’ve been paying attention all along: Of all the villains in this story — and there are far, FAR more villains than heroes — Mitch McConnell will stand as one of our Uber Villains once all the secrets (finally) get revealed.

There are secrets to come. And Mitch has always lived with lots of secrets. It’s nothing to me who anyone else loves so long as the object of their desire is of age and the feelings between participants are mutual or at least mutual-adjacent (with a bottom line being that “no” always means “no”).

According to this 2013 post in the DailyKos (left wing for sure but not known for inventing stuff out of whole cloth), Mitch McConnell’s army discharge smacks of cover up. Sealed records? Strange, unexplained events? Sure, one could give young Mitch the benefit of the doubt — if one didn’t know what became of young Mitch. And what Young Mitch became Lying and deceit — keeping secrets from We The People — has always been Moscow Mitch’s stock in trade.

Who does Mitch represent? What I mean is — who, in Mitch’s mind, are his constituents. We know damned well it’s no one in Kentucky. Mitch’s history would tell us it’s money. Koch money, Russian money, too. Mitch hasn’t just been Donald Trump’s backstop, he’s been Russia’s backstop, too.

Let’s not forget the Gang Of Eight meeting at the White House in September 2016. The intelligence community is so concerned about information they’ve gathered about Russia’s desire to influence the 2016 presidential election on Donald Trump’s behalf that they blow all kinds of whistles. President Obama convenes a meeting at the White House where the IC presents evidence. What does Mitch McConnell do? Does he worry about Russia influencing the election’s outcome?

NO!

Mitch worries about the truth getting out to the American people. According to Slate — “McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.”

Get that? Mitch told Obama that he would accuse Obama of “partisan politics” if he tried to warn us — us being We The People — that Russia was actively engaged in impacting the outcome of the election. Think about it. What Mitch had just been told wasn’t some abstraction — “Russia’s up to something but we don’t know what…” — he was told specifically what Russia was doing. This wasn’t news to Mitch. Mitch had taken gobs of Russian money. He had already been influenced in various ways by Russia

Mitch — deep in Moscow’s pocket — stood in the way of President Obama warning us about what Russia was actively doing.

Treason doesn’t get much more treason-y than that.

Remember that brand-spanking-new aluminum factory that’s going up in the poorest part of Kentucky — you know, the one paid for by Oleg Deripaska and his very Russian money? That’d be the same Oleg Deripaska who was sanctioned for participating in Russia’s attack on our 2016 election. Deripaska (once GRU, always GRU) received proprietary polling data from Paul Manafort — data for four states: Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. We don’t know why Minnesota failed to ignite for Russia but clearly Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan did.

Deripaska turned the polling data over to the GRU who turned all that info about American voters into weaponized Facebook ads that showed up on individual Democratic voters’ Facebook pages (focused on Democratic voters of color) as propaganda. The goal: misinform or disinform the recipient into not showing up at the polls. This is voter suppression on the hoof.

It’s deceitful. It’s illegal. It’s so bad we sanctioned Oleg Deripaska and made it illegal for any American to do business with him. That meant nothing to Mitch. Putin wants all sanctions lifted. So does Deripaska.

So does Mitch.

See the team Mitch actually plays for? It’s not ours.

Mitch McConnell has himself done more to undermine the integrity of our Democratic Republic than almost anyone I can think of. He promised his constituents — the Republican Money — that he would hijack the judiciary for them. That’s exactly what he did. He hijacked a seat that was Obama’s to fill — and handed it to Donald Trump — a man Mitch knew for a fact was corrupt and working for a hostile foreign government.

I honestly believe that a day will come in the not-too-distant future when Americans wanting to call someone a traitor, won’t call them “Benedict Arnold” but, rather, will call them a “Mitch McConnell” instead.

Life In Trump's America: The Political Thriller Of Our Lifetimes Is Also Theater Of The Absurd

Our inner animals knew it instinctively even as the tide was turning election night 2016. We were being told something that every fiber of our being knew was untrue — or knew was truth complicated by layers of deception, deceit and treachery — that Trump had “won” the presidency.

Ever read the details on exactly what happened chronologically on election night in the Trump campaign — especially between Trump and his flotus to be? Trump wasn’t just “surprised” that he won, he was shocked. And not because he had “pulled it out”. Trump knew better than anyone that THAT was not what happened election night. Trump knew better than anyone that “The Boss” — Vlad Putin — had suppressed, propagandized or — via internet-connected-voting machines — literally stolen just enough votes in three key states (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin & Michigan, three states for which Oleg Deripaska had received proprietary polling data from Paul Manafort) to GIVE Trump the EC victory.

Melania wept openly. She raged at Trump — who, per Steve Bannon, morphed from a “disbelieving Trump into a horrified Trump”. That’s disbelieving he could win to being horrified that he HAD “won”. Winning wasn’t part of Trump’s plan. Using a presidential run to platform launch a Trump-branded news network was. Winning — once victory was gettable (via cheating) — was absolutely Vladimir Putin’s plan. Putin saw a way to put Trump in the White House — the greatest intelligence coup in the history of intelligence — and he took it.

Keep in mind — Putin had already compromised enough of the Republican Party that he knew he could keep them in line. Take Lindsey Graham, for example. You can practically see the Kompromat Vlad’s holding over Lindsey play in Lindsey’s mind’s eye every time he speaks.

That’s where it starts crossing over from John Le Carre territory into Becket — from George Smiley realpolitik into waiting for a Godot who will never, ever appear. Our spy movie as real life beats anything any writer could possibly imagine — or get away with if they did imagine.

We’ve got intrigue and treason and cyber war and actual war and murders out the wazoo. We’ve got a handful of heroes and scoundrels by the bucket. And we’ve got a Main Stream News Media that makes an unsatisfying hash of the whole damned thing. We’ve got liars lying, rapists raping and con artists conning.

The feeling, watching this madness rush by on a daily basis, is a lot like watching an English pantomime (a Christmastime tradition in England). Based on old chestnuts like “Puss In Boots” or “Cinderella”, panto’s are very much the groundlings having a good time at their local theater — talking back to the characters on stage as if a fourth wall never existed.

One of the moments every panto must have — the villain (upstage) creeps toward the hero who’s downstage — while the audience tries to warn the hero. Every time the hero looks toward where the audience points — the villain ducks or disappears — then reappears the moment the hero has turned away again. It’s absurd, of course, because the truth is so apparent — and yet so impossible to hold onto.

It is numbing — by design — how far from “normal” we’ve shifted. It’s inconceivable that Donald Trump’s presidential bid didn’t end the moment he started it by telling us all how Mexicans were rapists. More absurdity compounded by pussy grabbing — compounded exponentially when “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” went back seat to “her emails” sitting in the front seat of the news media’s Scooby van.

Looking back today at “But her emails” — even Ionesco at his most obtuse couldn’t touch the absurdity of our news media obsessing over an abstraction over constant evidence of dubious, devious behavior. Despite three years of this madness, of Trump’s lying, deceitfulness and cruelty, our news media still wants to give him the benefit of the doubt — as if “this time”, Trump “could be” telling the truth.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve shouted far too often at the news “professionals” on your TV set — “FFS, don’t be absurd!”

Is it really asking that much to have our political theater be one thing and our theater of the absurd be something else entirely? Apparently so…

Among All The Animals, Only Human Beings & Monkeys Are Capable Of Lying; Then There Are Republicans…

Some time before humans and apes went their separate ways, something fused into our hominid brains that — no matter how we split off and evolved — stayed with us, as hard wired into us as the impulse to breathe: lying.

Sure, sure — plenty of animals use deception. Blue Jays imitate other birds to scare off competitors, cowbirds put their eggs into other birds’ nests and eastern grey squirrels pretend to hide nuts to throw off nut thieves. There are lies involved in each but outside of those specific survival-based behaviors (breeding and food) — and a species-wide ability to lie in exactly the same way (like that specific lie was hard-wired into them) — do those animals lie in any other way?

No, they don’t. So — when I say “lie”, I mean the way humans genuinely understand the word: a falsehood told mostly for convenience.

Humans lie to get out of trouble — trouble they didn’t have to be in. They cheated on their mate. They stole from someone. They murdered in cold blood. They lied to avoid the punishment they deserved for breaking the group’s rules. Actual premeditation is important. A cowbird slipping its egg into another bird’s nest is not in any way the same thing as a rapist insisting his victim “wanted it”.

Dogs are incapable of lying (hunting as a group is one of those hard-wired survival-deceptions). Ever walked into a room where a dog just wrecked something they know they shouldn’t have wrecked? That’s pretty much half of YouTube. Cats are political as hell — with humans and other cats — but they do not dissemble. You always know where you stand with a cat. They can’t lie.

Only a human being will lie to you in order to sell you insurance or a burial plot or love. Only humans kill each other because other humans refuse to believe the made up stories they believe (that’s how important lies are to us). Only humans insist they want what’s best for everyone when what they clearly want is what’s best for them personally. Well, only Republicans do that last bit of lying.

We have a POTUS whose notoriety for lying is his brand. His official lie count lies somewhere north of 15,000 since he took office. And those are just the official lies. No one’s bothered (except anecdotally) with what he does on a golf course or in his marriage. We all accept that Donald Trump is a liar through and through.

Think about that — and what it says about how readily human beings accept and normalize lying. Think about how utterly Americans have accepted lying as part of our status quo.

Make that “some” Americans. A lot of us do not and will not accept lying as status quo. We’re never going to expunge lying from our DNA. But we absolutely can make lying — done to the collective — so expensive that it simply isn’t worth anyone’s while — even the richest of the rich.

The time to start down that road is right now. We need to normalize a zero tolerance for public lying.

The Most Frustrating Thing About Anti-Semitism Is What It's Based On: NOTHING

I’ve said here before that I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust — in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore just 20 years after the camps were liberated. Many survivors lived in my community. I can tell you from experience — it’s damned hard for a little kid to wrap his young mind around that much hatred for who he is when, as far as he knows — he’s done nothing to deserve it.

The Nazis didn’t invent anti-Semitism, of course, they merely industrialized it — finding ways to make money off the hatred via forced labor and even body parts. If Spain had had similar technology at its disposal, I’m sure the Spanish Inquisition would have been even ghastlier and more gruesome & cruel than it was.

In between the Spanish Inquisition (well before it too) all the way up to the Holocaust, anti-Semitism saw plenty of other outlets — pogroms and other mass murders of Jews often when the Christians decided they didn’t want to pay back the money the Jews had loaned them. The church made it hard for anyone other than Jews to lend money. Follow that? The Church made it illegal for anyone except Jews to lend money — though the Church also understood that the lending & borrowing of money was essential to the Church’s economic survival. Massive churches don’t pay for themselves to be built — or kept up.

The Church made anti-Semitism part of its economic strategy. In a perverse way, it was genius.

But where did the Church’s Jew-hatred start?

Jesus — if he existed in any way as the person we think he was — did not invent Christianity. He was born, lived and died a Jew. Back in the 1970’s, Bible scholar Robert Funk put together The Jesus Seminar — a group of about 50 critical biblical scholars and 100 laymen who wanted to tease out a historical Jesus from the Gospels. That Jesus taught a very simple message: Do Unto Others.

He also taught that one did not need a temple or its high priests to speak to Yahweh (the God character’s actual name). One could go to “the father” directly.

So where did a “church” come from? Where did Christianity come from? That’d be Paul — the former Saul of Tarses. If Saul never has his moment on the road too Damascus, Christianity never gets invented — because Paul’s the guy who invented Christianity.

The bulk of the NT is Paul’s work — his epistles to the far flung churches HE was nurturing and encouraging. But encouraging to do & believe what? What was Paul selling? Paul tried hard to sell his version of Jesus to the Jewish community except they weren’t interested. Paul never met Jesus. Never heard his voice or heard his teachings directly. But Paul did have an agenda — and after the Jewish community rejected him (and what he was selling), he turned his attention to the Helenized-Roman Gentile world.

Paul needed to sell Jesus as The Messiah. And Paul’s Messiah (here’s Paul’s genius) was the answer to “But what do we do about death?” Paul promised that belief in Jesus would allow the believer to live forever. This was all based on a strange re-imagining of strange Jewish mythology. To justify Jesus being the Messiah, Paul and the early Church fathers (picking up the myth-making where Paul left off) created a hodgepodge of texts and documents that told a muddled, confused story.

It wasn’t until the First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) that the church itself tried to make sense of its own confounding, contradictory story. That’s the problem: IT WAS ALWAYS A STORY.

It’s a little like having your tribe be hated because of something Ron Weasley said in the Harry Potter books.

Jews have had the damnedest time defending themselves against anti-Semitism because it’s impossible to argue against bullshit. Bullshit always have the luxury of being bullshit. It never has to worry about being true or real. It never has to justify itself. It never even has to defend itself. It just falls apart and blows away.

It’s a strange experience to have another person look you in the eye and insist that you and your tribe are evil and deserve to be hated, tortured, killed and reviled because of a story. Even stranger? Knowing the person looking at you with all that hate knows less about their own religion than you do.

99% of Christian churches only ever treat Jesus as a mascot anyway. He’s Ronald McDonald selling forgiveness for your sins instead of Big Macs. Jesus — if he could rise from the dead — would never stop being disgusted by what Paul did in Jesus’ name to Jesus’ own tribe.

The Reason "Both Sides Don't Do It" Is Because Both Sides Are NOT The Same

The core conceit at play when a “journalist” like Chuck Todd (which means we’re using the term “journalist” as loosely as we can) insists that “both sides do it” is that both sides do what they do for entirely political reasons. That is empirically untrue.

To act politically is to attempt change. If you are acting politically, you are trying to change the current situation. You’re trying to motivate people to alter what’s happening now — how they’re doing what they’re doing — so that they’ll do what you want them to do in the way you want. You want them to vote against all forms of gun control, for instance. Because you’re desperately afraid that gun control nuts will literally take your weapons away, you resort to all sorts of “persuasion” to stop that from happening. All those acts of persuasion — that’s you being political.

By contrast, when parents mourn their dead children — shot to death in their school — they’re NOT acting politically. When they turn to their political leaders and say “This must stop” — that also is NOT a political act. To see their desires realized out in reality, that WILL demand political action (they’ll have to affect change. But the thing they want to see happen — their children returning from school at the end of the day, not bullet-riddled — that’s NOT political.

It takes politics to negotiate the varying and conflicting needs of different people. But, the common good — the goal everyone’s after — that’s NOT political. It has to be reached via political means. And that, right there, is the source of the confusion.

The dimwits like Chuck Todd see people reacting to politics impacting their lives and call those reactions political.

The Republicans have gerrymandered everywhere they could (as Democrats have also done) for entirely political reasons. When Democratic voters get deliberately under-served as a result, their anger at what’s been done to them isn’t a political reaction, it’s a reaction to dishonesty, corruption and possibly even a crime being perpetrated on them. An African American voter being denied their right to vote is being denied for a political reason — but their anger, resentment and insistence that justice be served — that’s NOT political.

What the Republican Party & Donald Trump are doing to America — dragging it backward in time to the 1850’s — is entirely political. It’s a power grab.

That’s the thing our Main Stream News Media cannot get through its thick head. The reason someone becomes a Democrat is very different from the reason someone becomes a Republican. The reason one goes to a Trump rally is very different from the reason one watches bits and pieces of it on TV instead — with bile and disgust rising in one’s throat. The bile isn’t political. Neither is the disgust.

The Democrats reacting to stolen elections (via voter suppression and Russian involvement) aren’t being “political”, they’re being CRIME VICTIMS. The Rule Of Law could feel equally aggrieved. Ditto the Constitution. They’re both crime victims — and any Democrat rushing to their aid -isn’t doing it for political reasons.

They’re doing it because they’re patriots.

Ask A Conservative — "What Exactly Do You Want To CONSERVE?" — Bet You Won't Like Their Answer

A Progressive rally vs…

I know what Progressives want — it’s right in their name: progress. Progressives want to progress — into the future since you can’t progress into the present and you can’t progress into the past. THAT’S called “regress”.

It’s also called “conservatism”. Just as the Progressive Ideal is there in our name, so too is the conservative ideal memorialized in its name. Conservatives want to “CONSERVE”. Ah — but conserve WHAT?

Just as you can’t progress into the past, likewise you cannot conserve the future. You can however conserve the present — what is. And that — conserving what IS — usually goes hand in hand with conserving what WAS. Since it’s that component of what is (what remains from the past) that conservatives draw toward like mosquitoes to a porch light. They believe if they ferociously hold onto what still IS, they can, by force of will, turn back the clock to make what now “is” more like what “was”.

In the past. Because that’s what conservatives want to conserve — the past. The one where they got to call the shots. Those days sucked even when they were the present — unless you were white, male and Christian. If there’s a date in your average conservative’s mind — a landing spot in the past that’s the conservative idyll, it’d be the 50’s — the 1850’s — back when everyone knew their place.

I really do recommend you try it: ask a conservative what exactly THEY want to conserve. There’s entertainment to be had because when you frame it that way — making conservatives own what they really want to conserve — they get totally tongue-tied.

It’s hard to justify taking a whole country back to a time in its past that the majority want to learn from.

That’s the other thing conservatives want to conserve. The white Christian men who held power for so long (often illegally — by keeping others from voting) know damned well how small a piece of the actual electorate they are. They live in fear that one day, America’s left of center majority will shake off their citizenship seriously and show up at the polls every time there’s an election. They know — the more Americans vote, the worse it’s going to be for the future of the Republican Party & republicanism.

The more Americans vote, the harder it gets for conservatives to keep us living in the past.

It’s why, down deep, conservatives have no use for democracy. It’s bad for their health. Oh, the irony…