The Bible Is What Happens When Books Meant To Answer "One" Question Are Used To Answer Another…

I’ve always said Hebrew School made me the atheist I am today. That’s not entirely true. I have been an atheist since inception. Hebrew School simply closed the deal.

But I don’t regret any of my religious education (which lasted from age 6 to 14). I genuinely learned a lot from it. In particular, I had one truly excellent teacher — Henry Hyman. Mr. Hyman taught this: the bible is a religious text. It isn’t a reliable work of history. But, as a religious text, it is incredibly valuable.

In other words, Mr. Hyman taught “perspective”.

I remember one especially meaningful conversation I had with Mr. Hyman. It was probably when I was 12 or 13. Like I said, I was born an atheist. Skepticism runs in my blood alongside the red and white blood cells. I bumped hard on the Abraham almost sacrifices Isaac story — and I said so.

I’m sure I didn’t articulate well what bothered me then but the same terrible lesson still disturbs me: Jews are meant to revere Abraham (the foundational “First Jew”) because of his absolute fealty to Yahweh. If Yahweh says “kill your son” (“sacrifice” being a kinder-gentler way of saying “murder in cold blood”), we’re supposed to look to Abraham for guidance. Well, we’re meant to think, since Ol’ Abe was down with killing his son, who are we to go a different way?

To Mr. Hyman’s credit, he tried very hard to sell the metaphorical qualities of the story as a whole over the more disturbing, realistic story beats themselves. I wasn’t having it. In the end, Mr. Hyman encouraged me to continue asking questions. Either I was going to find an answer inside the faith that satisfied me or I wasn’t. That he appreciated that fact — that he encouraged a 12 year old to think that way — I am eternally grateful.

Want to have a religious debate? The bible — OT or NT — are excellent resources. Want to know anything about history? Avoid the bible like the plague. Yeah, sure, there’s “background information” — lots of good insight into both Jewish culture and how Jewish culture thinks about itself. But if you want the historical record backing up your “faith”? Prepare to be disappointed.

As Mr. Hymn said: “The bible is not a work of history”. No, it absolutely is not. Fact — it is debatable that Hebrews were ever slaves in Egypt. The Egyptians kept records. Lots of them (they’re called “Hieroglyphics”.) Nowhere in those records do we find Hebrew slaves building pyramids or a Hebrew prince rescued from certain death, raised by an Egyptian princess and slowly remade into a kind of Hebrew Avenging Angel.

Someone made that story up. Or they took a small thing and wrote it larger. Kinda like how Paul did with Jesus. If Saul of Tarsus never has his “come to Jesus” moment on the Road to Damascus, then Christianity never happens.

Jesus — whoever he actually was — did not “invent” Christianity. If you sat him down today and explained to him what “Christianity” was, he’d look at you like you were nuts for suggesting HE was its “founder”. Jesus was born a Jew, lived his whole life as a Jew and died a Jew.

As for creating the Christian church, what we can ascribe to Jesus (at least it’s one of his more consistently reported on teachings) is a very simple (and very Jewish) message — “Do Unto Others”. Also “You don’t need a church in order to have a relationship with god”. Jesus’s message is spiritual perfection — it teaches people how to live a good, happy, successful life and it even teaches them how to do it: be nice to people.

But, of course, not everyone wants to see these religious texts for what they are. We have a whole segment of our population — uber Christians, evangelicals & fundamentalists — who believe that the words of the bible magically appeared on parchment. They say “divine inspiration” motivated the writing.

J. K. Rowling feels exactly the same way. She might not call the inspiration “divine” but her readers do.

Using the bible — old or new testaments — as anything other than a dated “how to live in the past” manual is guaranteed to screw up your life. Ask yourself: if the men who wrote those texts had been aware of germ theory, if they’d had access to microscopes and telescopes and the internet and all the information we now have today about our bodies, the natural world, the cosmos, would they have written the texts they wrote in exactly the same way?

Doubtful. Do televangelists avoid electricity because it would have been unknown to Jesus? Of course not! Modern religionistas use technology when it suits them to accomplish their goals. If any religious work’s author had had access to our modern knowledge base, it would have fundamentally changed what they wrote.

That makes it even more appalling when the faithful try to use their religious texts to answer science questions. They’re compounding the ignorance of the past by continuing to make it part of the present. Wrong information doesn’t suddenly become right.

Bullshit doesn’t suddenly become true.

Magic doesn’t suddenly become real.

The bible doesn’t suddenly become anything other than a story based loosely on reality.

Every Evangelical Has A Deep, Dark, Dirty Secret — They All Think THEY Are “God”

Ask ten people what “god” is and you’ll get ten distinctly different answers. That’s not because “god” is such an expansive, all-encompassing concept. It’s because “god” is an “idea” you can alter on the fly. The magical power god has one moment, he doesn’t have the next. Or he chooses not to use them that time though the circumstances are exact.

You know how “god” is — he works in “mysterious ways”.

In fact, “god” is so mysterious that he regularly hires clowns like Kenneth Copeland to speak on his behalf. You remember Kenneth Copeland, don’t ya…?

I keep thumbing through my copy of the NT (I do have one and it is well thumbed through) but, for the life of me, I can’t see what chapter or verse Ken is using here as the basis for his Christian behavior.

I definitely can’t see what, if anything, Jesus said that Ken thinks he’s emulating.

Evangelicals like Ken (like most American Christians) are churchists, not followers of Jesus. They couldn’t pick Jesus out of a police line up — which is exactly where they’d expect to find him. They know for a fact that the LAST place Jesus would ever show up is at one of their mega-churches. Just as well — they’d never let him in.

Pick an evangelical. Listen to them speak. Watch them while they do it. Bore in on their eyes.

See Ken’s eyes? That’s not “madness” shining out of them. It’s the absolute belief that he is god and it is beyond his comprehension that the reporter isn’t bowing down to that fact.

Kenneth Copeland isn’t special. He’s just good at what he does — bamboozling the mooks, half-wits & ignoramuses who keep him well supplied with jet fuel. If any of those mooks, half-wits or ignoramuses could, they’d ask themselves: “How can a follower of Jesus explain the need for a private jet to begin with?”

But they can’t, so they don’t.

Instead, they comfort themselves with their own godliness.

Show Me An “Uber Christian” & I’ll Show You A Man Who Thinks HE’S “God”

A few days ago Attorney-General-From-Hell Bill Barr gave a speech to the Federalist Society — that bastion of soft, white, institutional bigotry — in which he (again) donned his full Cultural Warrior battle armor.

Barr has a history of stepping in and deflecting justice. He did it most recently by hijacking both the end of Robert Mueller’s investigation and Mueller’s written report. Barr’s gross mischaracterizations of the Report’s conclusions weren’t semantics or “differences of interpretation”. They were a blatant attempt to convince the American public (via its terrible at details news media) that Mueller’s work exonerated Trump — that it cleared him of “collusion” and came to no conclusions about obstructive behaviors.

That is NOT what Mueller’s report says. It says they couldn’t come to any conclusions about whether or not Trump conspired with Russia (via Wikileaks — Mueller’s purview wasn’t the entirety of Trump-Russia, it was a narrow, narrow slice) because they were met with so much OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. To back up THAT assessment, the Report listed (with receipts) 10 specific obstructive acts.

Barr’s history of bamboozlement goes back to the Bush Administration (Junior’s). Bill Barr circumvented justice during Iran-Contra — insisting THEN that Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was being treated unfairly by the people accusing him of being a corrupt criminal undermining the Rule Of Law.

Bill Barr’s never behaved this way on the behalf of a Democratic POTUS. I guess all that Unitary Executive Power actually works when the POTUS is Republican. I find it hard to believe that Bill Barr’s dick would get this hard on behalf of Barack Obama’s executive power.

Bill Barr calls himself a Christian. He ain’t no follower of Jesus — that’s for damned sure. Bill Barr wouldn’t know Jesus if he stopped mid-way through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in Jesus’s eye. Bill Barr is a “churchist”. Bill loves the INSTITUTION that Paul created. Being a die-hard Catholic, Bill loves his church above all else.

Funny thing? Jesus preached AGAINST having churches. He taught that no one needed temples or priests; one could speak directly to “the father”. In other words — a follower of Jesus does not need a church. They don’t want one — because churches are antithetical to Jesus’s most core teaching.

In theory, Bill Barr should love Jesus because Jesus would tell Bill — “Hey, Bill — talk to God, why don’tcha!” But that’s not where Bill’s head is at. He’s still riled up about something. Just talking directly to his deity doesn’t satisfy him. He’s still yapping. Someone’s telling him — “Not good enough, Bill! Go further!”

Now, Bill would say “It was God telling me that”. But, as we know, Bill picks & chooses his articles of faith ever so carefully. He supports and follows and does the bidding of people Jesus would absolutely disprove of. And if Jesus doesn’t like them — what’s in it for God? Are God and Jesus not in agreement about something? Something basic?

No — it’s because the only voice in Bill Barr’s head is Bill’s. Bill doesn’t hear “God”, he hears BILL. Bill may say he “speaks for God” or “understands God” (better than YOU — that’s the suggestion. It’s remarkably arrogant. It’s remarkably arrogant for bullshit.

Bill Barr’s hardly alone in this freak show. Pick the name of any televangelist out of a hat and you have another extreme perversion of (never mind Jesus) Christianity’s most basic message — you have a money changer fooling the faithful. The way every one of these assholes struts — insists they speak for the Divine (and you don’t) — rakes in the cold, hard cash — it’s as far removed from Jesus as human decency or honesty is from a Trump.

What is a Catholic Pope except an attempt to create a “god” who hears God (better than you)? A pope becomes “infallible”. What does that even mean? Infallible in what sense? If we make him draw a perfect likeness of the guy standing next to him — and he fails — does that mean he’s NOT infallible or that we need to redefine “infallible” to include “this”?

It’s ludicrous. Worse — it’s bullshit. Anyone who says they speak on behalf of a deity thinks THEY are the deity.

Fact.

Picture of a man literally praying to himself…

What If The Truth Is We CAN’T Handle “The Truth”?

A core question we each have to wrestle with: what’s our personal relationship with “The Truth”? You know what I mean — the TRUTH: the stuff we know about ourselves (being ourselves) that no one else could ever know or will ever know. The stone, cold TRUTH we all know down deep. Who we really are, what we really want, why we’re really miserable.

Now let’s talk about the Truth we’ll talk about.

We can all see the scene in our heads. Still — it’s so compelling — let’s watch it together:

Great speech. It perfectly encapsulates the yin-yang of what we wish it took to have order and what it really takes to have order.

The Truth, in sausage terms: no one ever walks away from a sausage factory feeling good about sausage.

A couple of cold, very hard Truths are staring us in the face as we all sit here: Donald Trump is a flat out traitor. That’s A Truth. Serious people loathe to even think the word “treason” have entertained the idea that Donald Trump isn’t some hyperbolic traitor, he’s a very real one. They’re not doing that because of politics. They’re doing it because of treason.

There’s a strange thing the news media does along these lines. In their need to be even-handed, letting their readers decide, they’ll give Trump the benefit of the doubt (still) that everything he does has some actual relationship to his being president — ignoring that he’s never, at any time during his presidency, acted “presidential”. Trump is always reported as if yesterday’s outrages, like those from the days before, never happened. He woke up this morning a normal potus doing normal potus things.

Except, of course, he didn’t. Still — of the three possibilities that could explain the past 3+ years — he’s completely innocent is one possibility. In the abstract.

Second possibility: He’s kinda guilty — some combination of bad intent and stupidity that explains away continuing acts of criminal behavior and obstruction of justice. From an odds point of view — you’d at least figure the explanation for everything could live here. In quasi-guilt.

But there is a third possibility — the one our MSM won’t ever go near — even though it’s very definitely a possibility, too: Donald Trump is completely guilty.

Let’s pretend this was a murder instead of treason. Let’s say Trump actually shot one of his supporters — just like he keeps promising to do.

We have Trump saying he could do it. We have the murder weapon. We have Trump’s bloated, orange fingerprints all over the weapon. We have a murder victim. We have everything we need to say a crime was committed. But our MSM would look at all the evidence and insist no one could know for sure if a crime was committed or even if the dead guy was really dead.

What’s wrong with the Truth?

That’s what every day feels like. Turn on the news — hear Trump’s latest treasonous behavior — hear the news media act as if Trump’s just a slightly unusual potus being potus in a slightly unusual way. No — that’s not it at all. He’s not unusual — he’s a criminal who didn’t “win” an election, he got Russia to steal it for him. Literally.

When Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson was called before the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee (August 22, 2017 — they were trying to undermine the Steele Dossier but failed), he described how Fusion, before getting too deep into the oppo work the conservative, Jebb Bush-supporting Washington Free Beacon had hired them to do, did its “due diligence”: they got ahold of every piece of publicly available material on Donald Trump — be it book, magazine, radio interview or TV appearance. They got it from Amazon, from used book stores and even from Amazon. What Fusion found there — in material anyone could get their hands on — convinced them that Trump had been laundering Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos. That, Simpson testified, is why Fusion sought out Chris Steele, former head of the Russia desk at Britain’s MI6.

The Truth has always stared at us with a moon face: Trump is a traitor. He’s a criminal. So’s the rest of his family. So’s the rest of his administration. How much criminality does one have to witness, read about or have rubbed in one’s nose before you’re allowed to fight back?

Okay — the Truth is: Donald Trump is a traitor who betrayed the nation. The Truth is without Russia’s direct assistance, Donald Trump is not POTUS, Hillary Clinton is. Let’s start there: Donald Trump is not now and never has been the legitimate POTUS. If it violates the Rule Of Law to cheat to become POTUS then Trump’s cheating disqualifies him.

If Trump cheated to become POTUS then he won nothing. Having not won the presidency, he was never authorized to 1) take the oath of office or 2) execute any part of his Constitutional because he wasn’t POTUS. Trump had no more right to pick judges than I do. He has no more right today. He’s not actually POTUS.

The Rule Of Law is pretty simple in its fundamentals: It either is or it isn’t. You can’t have 90% of the Rule of Law (what would the other 10% be — organized chaos?) just like you can’t have 90% of your integrity. Is v isn’t.

If the Rule Of Law IS then The Truth is even that much more important. It’s the one thing we should all be able to agree on.

America won’t like any of the Truth they’re about to hear about Donald Trump. It won’t get any better than it already is.

But I bet America handles the Truth about Trump just fine. It won’t make us happy — not one bit. But we’ll batten down the hatches. We’ll handle the Truth about Donald Trump just fine. For sure, We The People will handle the Truth far, far better than Trump will.

There’s An 800 Pound Gorilla In The Room — A Crazy Form Of Christianity Is Now Running The Country

Would you trust your soul to this money changer?

Want to know what’s scarier than a zombie coming to eat your brain? An evangelical opening his mouth to speak.

Let’s get this straight: what happened to us in 2016 was nothing less than a coup d’etat — a messy love triangle of first rate Russian spy craft with American Right Wing Money and America’s fatal flaw, the fact that we made slavery legal. There’s one theme that touches every part of that triangle — Christianity.

What motivates Vladimir Putin? A deep, deep Russian nationalism. And deep faith in the Russian Orthodox church. That “faith” is colored by realpolitik of course. Religion and politics always are. Putin wanted sanction relief because he wasn’t rich enough for his liking. They were willing to back Trump all the way — to accomplish their ends.

Right Wing Christian Money — the Kochs, the Mercers, Sheldon Adlestein too (greed is Sheldon’s religion) — may have hated Trump but when you’re that cynical, you can tolerate an awful lot of rot to get what you want. The Right Wing money recognized that Reagan was their last hurrah. The demographics going forward were completely against them. The only saving grace — the perverse way the senate overweighs open real estate vs actual humans. The RW money knew that, except for stealing the executive branch via phony legal logic (Bush v Gore), there’d never be another Republican POTUS. The House of Representatives is beyond anyone’s control. It’s the Peoples’ house. Our most direct connection to actual Democracy. Expecting to hold the senate — and therefore its overweight toward conservative states — the RW money set its sites on the judiciary. They tasked Mitch McConnell with denying Barack Obama any and every judge they could — including Merrick Garland.

What motivates RW money? Keeping that money of course. To do that, you have to have the reins of power in your hands. Otherwise, those in power might try to take your money — never mind the fact that you built your pile of money on the back of the Commonweal. The rich getting richer does not make Democracy better, it undermines Democracy because some votes become more powerful than other votes.

RW money is also motivated — here in America — by Christian faith. That’s perverse right from the get-go considering how Jesus felt about money changers and greed. But, then, the bulk of American Christianity — to judge purely by the way it talks about itself — couldn’t care less about Jesus. The bulk of American Christianity sees Jesus as a pretty mascot — Santa, but “holy”. “Do unto others” is great stuff for sermons — platitudes always are. But the real purpose of any church is to keep being a church.

Jesus spoke pretty clearly — you don’t need a church or a high priest to talk to god. Anyone can do it directly.

Again — you don’t need a church. But, once you start building a church — literally or metaphorically — it takes work to keep it from falling down. Gravity, the elements and time destroy a building’s integrity. Logic, knowledge and learning destroy metaphorical churches.

Even Christianity’s own history tells a story of what happens when make-believe rules. How many people have died because they stood on one side vs the other in one of Christianity’s great schisms? How many Catholics have killed Protestants because they were Protestants and vice versa? I can’t say I see where Jesus fits into it.

I can see clearly how churches do though. Churches sell religion. They don’t sell spirituality. They’re not qualified.

Churches sell exclusivity, too. That’s why groups like Opus Dei and the Dominionists exist. They’re exclusive clubs within the exclusive that is their denomination. They’re the “extra-religious” ones who see themselves doing Paul’s work — spreading the “good news” that if you say you accept the ooga-booga, you, too, can beat death.

Religious people also confuse success and failure in life with religion. They believe their success is the result of a sky deity smiling on them because they’re special. Literally – that is what they believe.

Poor people, conversely, are poor (to this way of thinking) because they deserve to be poor. It goes no deeper that.

But then, how deep do you really have to do when you’re making it all up?

American RW money and its twisted version of Christianity have always seen the bible as their justification for slavery. If slavery was in the bible, it must be because it’s good. As five minutes spent with any televangelist will tell you, the bible is the most dangerous piece of literature (that’s all it is) ever compiled — if only because it makes stupid people stupider.

You have to be stupid to think slavery is acceptable. Greed made slavery acceptable. Greed makes everyone stupid.

America’s Christian-iest Christians insist that “God” chose Donald Trump to be POTUS.

Somewhere — if he ever existed — Jesus is weeping.

Dear Journalists: Recognize That We, The News Consumers, Are Your Audience; If We Tell You We Have A Problem With You, LISTEN!

I had a little back-and-forth this morning (using my Mulligan Jesus Twitter account) with the Washington Post’s Philip Bump. Nothing significant. For some reason my tweet annoyed him enough to respond.

I view Bump the way I view most journalists – he’s a guy doing a job, sometimes well, sometimes not. I hold journalists in no particular regard. I’ve worked in show biz most of my life. I honestly don’t care how famous you are if you not doing your job screws with me doing mine.

Like a lot of American journalists — like too, too many of them — Bump refuses to take any responsibility for the way American journalism has covered & still covers Trump. They refuse to see how their relentless normalization of Trump — from “Mexicans are rapists” to “Pussy grabbing” to putting brown children in cages to even claiming the entire Russian investigation is a hoax — has destroyed their ability to report Trump.

Reporters like Bump will insist he’s been objective down the line. Perhaps. But object relative to what? To the actual Truth or to some “truthy” version of Truth?

Bump’s hardly the worst of the worst. Reporters like NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell fill that role. 3+ years in to a president notorious for rarely telling the truth and STILL Kelly O’ reports every word Trump says faithfully — like he was speaking Gospel Truth instead of total, unadulterated bullshit.

I don’t watch the amount of news (mostly MSNBC ) that I do for the “news” (except for “breaking news” — whatever that is), I watch it like a canary in a coal mine, tweeting my head off to warn that the environment is toxic in the extreme. One of the things I tweet about with neurotic intensity is how poorly our press has performed in telling the Trump story.

From the beginning, they’ve treated Trump as if he was a normal candidate and a normal POTUS. He was neither — because Russia was doing everything it could to make Trump POTUS. If we take Russia out of the Trump equation, he would never have made it through the Republican primaries in 2016. Trump is a Russian intel asset. Any discussion or analysis of Trump that doesn’t start there, is nonsense.

What Philip Bump – and most American journalists fail to grasp — is that if i perceive a news source is unreliable, I’m not going to rely on it — or, as with the Washington Post, pay my subscription. Yes, I’m just one customer. But if enough customers like me experience the same failure of faith, the Washington Post will go belly up that much faster.

That I perceive Philip Bump or anyone in our MSM as incompetent or incapable or inept is a problem for them, not me. “Well, you’re wrong,” as Bump tweeted at me (“…thank you for your wise assessment” is how Bump put it), misses the point entirely. My “opinion” is an opinion. It may be mis-informed but it can’t (cos it’s an opinion) be “wrong”.

My opinion is that Philip Bump needs to open his mind to constructive criticism. My opinion is that America’s press has failed to meet its Constitutionally mandated responsibilities. My opinion is that America’s press needs to do better.

Hey, Philip Bump — fight me on that. I dare you.

Spiritual People Don’t Have To Believe In Magic; Religious People (Like AG Bill Barr) DO

Last week, corrupt-to-his marrow Attorney General Bill Barr gave a now well-excoriated speech at the University of Notre Dame.

Here are a few highlights of Barr’s 1) profound ignorance, 2) profound ignorance, and 3) profound ignorance:

  • “Militant secularists,” Barr insists, are behind a “…campaign to destroy the traditional moral order”. By “traditional moral order”, of course, Bill Barr means white, Christian men like him being in complete control.
  • America’s “…traditional Judeo-Christian moral system” is under siege by “modern secularists” who, Barr insisted, are responsible for everything from drug abuse to rising suicide rates to illegitimacy.
  • Catholicism and other mainstream religions, Barr claimed, are the target of “organized destruction” by “secularists and their allies among progressives who use mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry and academia” against them, poor babies.

How about we cut to the end of the chase. Bill Barr — and people like him — use fairy tales as the basis for their life decisions. I’m not talking about Jesus here. Jesus taught “Do Unto Others” and “You Don’t Need A Church — Talk Directly To God” — two concepts totally foreign to Bill Barr. Bill Barr isn’t a follower of Jesus — he’s a Christian; a very, VERY different thing.

Bill Barr is a church-Christian (the opposite of a Jesus Follower). Bill believes in all the rubbish the Church (Paul and the early church fathers) invented out of whole cloth while they formulated what Christianity was and wasn’t. Paul, remember, was trying to match Jesus (who he never met, never heard preach) to a pre-existing messiah mythology. To make Jesus fit the story mold (and the messiah mythology is pure fiction to begin with), Paul created the basis for what we still think of as “Christianity”. The “mystery” of a virgin birth and a resurrection.

Meanwhile, off to the side, there’s Jesus — asking only that Bill Barr do unto others.

If that was the extent of Bill Barr’s religion on the rest of us — Bill doing unto others — we’d be okay, I bet. Instead, we’re faced with the fact that Bill Barr believes in all the magic — and nothing BUT the magic. And if YOU don’t believe in the magic that Bill Barr believes in?

Bill Barr thinks you are destroying America. Certainly for him.

I’m weird like this — if I go to get on an airplane — and the pilot says he doesn’t believe in physics (which is why he doesn’t have a license to pilot a plane), he believes his religious faith will keep the plane aloft — I’m not getting on that plane. Same goes for the surgeon about to work on my heart. No idea how any of my plumbing works — but you’ll pray on it before cutting into me?

Not happening.

If you tell me that magic always wins over reason and logic when you go to problem solve? I’m going to doubt every solution you pitch. Especially if the problems you’ve got in your sights are mine. You telling me you believe in magic is you telling me you’re willfully ignorant. It’s you telling me to ignore you any time there’s we need to make a decision more weighty than a lunch order.

That’s the hardest thing for religionistas to grasp. They think they’re spreading the good news. What they’re spreading is the news that they’re gullible.