“Conservative Thinking” Is An Oxymoron

What’s in a name? Everything. I’m a Progressive. I prefer the term “Progressive” because it’s more descriptive than “liberal” which (being less descriptive) can be twisted around to mean even its opposite. As a “Progressive”, my political philosophy is all about progress and progressing into the future.

Conservatives, by the same token, want to CONSERVE exactly as their name says. Considering as the future doesn’t exist, you can’t want to “conserve” it. So, what conservatives want to conserve is the present but, really, the past. To most conservatives, the present is already unacceptable.

Whereas progressives set their minds to creatively solving future problems, innovating wherever necessary, conservatives set their minds to taking us backward in time — to a time when white men ruled without fear of being questioned. We’re talking the 50’s — the 1850’s.

You don’t have to think to want to make that happen. If you could think to begin with, you’d see the impossibility of the task. But it’s not about what is, it’s about what “should be” in the conservative’s mind. And, to them, what should be is a world where they rule with total cultural and political hegemony.

It’s hardly a coincidence that, in America, conservative thinking is deeply racist. Conservatives have convinced themselves that THEY are “American Exceptionalism”. Talk about bullshit. The United States was the first country ever to be a product of immigration instead of long-term tribal occupancy. White men may have made up the rule-making class but that wasn’t because others weren’t interested. White men made the rules. White men benefited more than any other group from those rules.

A typical white, Christian conservative answer to immigration is to build a wall on the Southern border. Stone age technology to keep people out. Conservative thinking doesn’t care about the root cause of people leaving where they are to come to America. It only cares that they’re here and, so, devises cruel scare tactics to encourage them to leave.

White, Christian conservative thinking doesn’t concern itself with the violence at home that sent all these refugees fleeing north. It doesn’t care that the drug violence terrorizing them was born on the streets of America — Los Angeles especially. Conservative thinking, most of all, wants to moralize on your ass. They want to tell you how superior they are to you.

They’re simply not capable of “Doing Unto Others”. They’re not capable of caring enough. They’re not capable, frankly, of even thinking it.

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People Who Believe In Magic Can Never Be Trusted — Because They Believe In Magic

Oh, look — It’s the SS Ooga-Booga!

You’re lying on a gurney, about to be wheeled into emergency surgery. The surgeon appears — big smile on his face — just before they put you under.

“Nothing to worry about,” he says (a little too loudly), “You’re gonna be fine — I just know it! I prayed as hard as I could and god said — ‘you got this!’ — so ya see? You’re gonna be okay!” Then he mentions that he’s never actually performed this particular surgery before. Hell — he’s never performed surgery EVER — he PRAYS instead.

He doesn’t have a “track record” of success per se but there’s a lot of road kill where his patients used to be.

As they go to squirt the anesthesia into you — how’s it feel knowing this is probably it for you because the guy performing your surgery BELIEVES IN MAGIC instead of reality?

The same goes for your airline pilot. As he rolls you out toward the runway, the last thing you want to hear is that he decided to forgo refueling the plane (fuel’s so heavy anyway) because he believes you can all get from where you are to where you’re going on faith alone.

People making policy decisions — or going to war — because their core value is magic are dangerous. In America, perversely, we encourage magical thinking in our public officials. Up until very recently, it would have been political suicide to even hint that you were an atheist — even as a mere constituent. The ironic assumption that people with no religious faith are automatically inclined toward violence and chaos is hilarious considering all the violence and chaos religious people cause.

Let’s be absolutely real here — if you tell me that at the very core of everything you believe — that the basis for what you think and do — is a fairy tale so absurd and illogical that a child could pick it apart — that’s so fragile a construction that they had to invent a word (“blasphemy“) to describe realistic reactions to the nonsense — then it’s going to be hard to take ANYTHING you think seriously.

If you deny evolution because it’s not mentioned in a text written by ignorant desert-dwellers 4000 years ago or insist that the earth is only a few thousand years old, that an actual man named Adam and an actual woman named Eve lived for a time in an actual garden called Eden where a talking snake screwed the pooch for humanity — your gullibility is shameful. So’s your lack of critical thinking skills.

If you honestly believe that the NT is literally true — that a sky deity named Yahweh had sex with a virgin human girl in order to produce a man-god that would have to die to forgive the “original sin” committed by an imaginary woman in an imaginary garden — then you’re going to have to understand why your opinion on how I might live my life is totally irrelevant. Your opinion about anything is meaningless because you think total bullshit is true.

We should know more do what you think as go into surgery knowing the surgeon’s an incompetent fool.

America has lived too long in Christianity’s thrall. We are not now and never have been a Christian nation. That was part of the point. But Christians — as opposed to followers of Jesus (a completely separate group of people) are a pushy lot. Proseltyzing is baked into their culture (going all the way back to Paul). “Have ya heard the ‘good news’?” they want to know.

If you haven’t, can they spew it at you? If you don’t want it, can they force it down your throat anyway?

I wish our leaders were deeply spiritual. I want them all to feel connected in every way to their real constituents — the people they represent. I want them to cast off their religion though — because the first has nothing to do with the second.

America is the place where Ooga met Booga and produced a mother lode of bullshit. Mormonism was created here. So was Scientology. So was Branch Dividianism and the cults of Jim Jones & Charles Manson. These are all religions that demand their followers surrender all reason — and accept the magic.

Maybe Nancy Reagan had it right — “Just Say No!” Her problem was she should have been talking about religion, not recreational drugs.

From A Branding Point Of View, “Christian” Is Kinda Spent; Followers Of Jesus Need A New Name

I’ll own it — a born atheist has no business telling Christians anything about their brand. Except, Christianity — being a sales-based religion (“Hey, have ya heard the ‘good news’ style proselytizing started with Paul, the actual inventor of Christianity) — relies almost entirely on how it’s perceived by others. After all, isn’t the point of me hearing “the good news” the hope that I’ll come to my senses and convert?

Christians are preaching to a shrinking choir. Have they ever stopped to ask themselves why? No, they haven’t — because self-analysis isn’t part of the brand. Confession is. So’s an intense focus on rules & regs at the diminishing expense of any sort of spirituality. Christianity’s problem isn’t branding. Christianity’s problem is its brand.

I’ve blogged on many occasions with receipts (so I won’t do it here) about the Christian Church’s origins. It’s entirely Paul’s invention. Entirely. Jesus’ simple (Jewish) message — Do Unto Others — got subsumed into and under the mythology that Paul created and spread to the brand new churches forming across the Roman world. Paul never met Jesus. Never heard Jesus preach or teach. He failed trying to sell his version of Jesus to the Jews (with its wild, magic-heavy “proofs” that Jesus was the messiah) and, so, turned to the Gentiles.

The Gentiles, having no knowledge of (or concern for) Jewish mythology, accepted Paul’s version — because why wouldn’t they? Paul had created something genius — a way to conquer death. Accept Jesus as your lord and savior and you can live forever.

That has nothing to do with “Doing Unto Others”. And the church Paul created was big on forcing non-Christians to accept Jesus. Ironically, those Christians were going to “Do Unto Others” on pain of death.

The Catholic Church, once it acquired political power, never let that power go. Whatever spirituality there was in the institution died. More irony — Jesus preached against having churches because churches, he said, were corrupt. What could be more corrupt than the Catholic Church? Almost from the day it hung out its shingle, the Catholic Church has concerned itself with rules & regs, getting money into its coffers, and increasing its “membership”.

There is no way to count the number of humans who have died because of religion. Christianity — with its crusades and its inquisitions and its own internecine wars — has put its stamp on a veritable shit ton of them. And all to sell a product that its own supposed creator would never ever EVER recognize.

The Christian Church and Jesus aren’t just estranged, they’re strangers. That disconnect is what’s killing the church (whether Catholic or Protestant). I have a dear friend — a Presbyterian minister — whose job is trying to keep Presbyterian congregations alive.

The proud conservative Christians running the Republican Party — bowing in total obeisance to the evangelicals — have also helped destroy any notion that such a thing as “Christian mercy” exists outside of a sanctimonious Sunday sermon. Brown Children in cages was not what Jesus had children suffering unto in his mind.

If I’m a brand that needs new followers to stay alive — that needs brand loyalty from current followers — that has to compete with a thousand more ideas than it ever had to before — I’m afraid (if I’m Christianity). I wouldn’t be however, if I were Jesus.

Is there a more potent antidote the vile, self-serving piggery of Trumpism than “Do Unto Others”? Republicanism — same question. Christianity — you, too.

Jesus and Christianity have nothing to do with each other. Followers of Jesus — even now — are loathe to associate themselves with evangelicals or the rapey Catholic Church or any of the rules & regs heavy institutions their parents forced on them when they were kids.

I would say Followers Of Jesus need a new Paul — to create a new institution that gets the mythology right. But, right off the bat, that would violate one of Jesus’ core tenants — the need for a church.

Maybe a better way to go would be to actually follow Jesus. If you want to follow him theistically — go directly to god. Skip the institution. If you just want to Do Unto Others? Well, who’s stopping you? All you have to do is “Do”.

Maybe the best new brand for Followers Of Jesus is to call themselves DUO’s. They Do Unto Others. That’s all you need to know about them (so long as their actions match their words). I’d say they don’t even need that.

But what do I know? I’m just a dumb atheist.

Why Do They Even Call It “Christianity” When Their Religion Has Nothing To Do With Jesus & Never Did…

I’ll confess right here — lifetime atheist though I am, I am also a big time fan of Jesus. I don’t know for sure if a historical Jesus ever existed but someone like the character depicted in the New Testament seems to have put forward a teaching — “Do Unto Others” — drawn directly from the Jewish culture into which he was born and lived his entire life — that, today, still resonates loudly across the millennia.

In 1985, a group of actual bible scholars (people with actual academic degrees from reputable institutions of higher learning as opposed to bullshit degrees from bullshit Christian universities with bullshit standards and zero integrity) got together and formed The Jesus Seminar. Their goal — apply some serious objective analysis to the NT texts so as to coax out, as best they could, an historical Jesus.

The Seminar identified 15 or so phrases unanimously agreed upon by the canonical gospels which, the seminar felt, could have been spoken by a historical Jesus — so as to be disseminated by his followers. The Jesus who steps from the pages of the Seminar’s analysis has a simple message — Do Unto Others (which includes suffering the Little Children to come unto you) and, if you need to speak to god, go to “the father” directly. You don’t need a church to intercede on your behalf. GO DIRECTLY!”

If you recall from the stories about Jesus, he didn’t like the money changers. He didn’t like that the temple authorities allowed the money changers inside the temple’s forecourt. That, Jesus taught, debased the core message. It invalidated the temple’s authority to speak for god or to even pretend that they could intercede on their followers’ behalves.

Jesus advocates AGAINST having churches or religious “authorities”. So — how come there’s a Christian “church”? How could so gigantic a contradiction sit right in the heart of the Christian faith itself? The answer is ask Paul.

Paul (the former Saul of Tarsus) invented Christianity. The majority of the NT texts are Paul’s letters & epistles to the various gentile communities to which he was spreading his version of Jesus, Jesus’ story and Jesus’ message. Remember — Paul never met Jesus. Never spoke to him. Never heard his voice.

For a good, solid understanding of and perspective on Paul, I recommend A. N. Wilson’s excellent book Paul: The Mind Of An Apostle.

While Paul started by selling his version of Jesus to the Jews, they didn’t want it — because Paul’s version wasn’t authentic. Gentiles didn’t have any history or knowledge of Jewish customs, thought or mythology so Paul’s contorted version — virgin birth in Bethlehem, wise men presaging greatness, rising from the dead — seemed perfectly authentic. Never mind the fact that it was all invented, top to bottom. When Paul speaks of Jesus, he never stresses the messages Jesus himself stressed.

That’s because historical Jesus was of no use to Paul. So he invented a new Jesus. A Jesus that worked for him. Paul invented the Jesus that smiled upon the Catholic Church — an institution Jesus would have hated with every single atom of his being. Don’t hurt yourself laughing so hard, Protestants — your version of Jesus is just as disconnected from reality.

We won’t even talk about the Mormons (whose version of Jesus even visited North America — a place the real Jesus had no way of knowing even existed).

Ya know how, these days, we can’t figure out why Christians are so… “un-Christian”? This is why. The problem isn’t them, it’s us. All those people are being COMPLETELY Christian. What they aren’t being are “followers of Jesus”. To follow Jesus means all those devout Christians would have to denounce their “Christianity” — and all the oppressive, regressive, obsessive rules and regs that are the real appeal of their faith — and, instead, become spiritual. That ain’t happening.

To follow Jesus, one must be spiritual or have the capacity for spirituality. That’s the opposite of following a religion. Religions are crowd control. They are defined by their rules & their structures — and those structures don’t build or sustain themselves. The money has to come from somewhere which is why churches work so hard to get bodies into the pews and money from the pockets in those pews. Churches don’t really exist for the benefit of anyone’s faith, they exist for the benefit of themselves. Churches are like sharks (and relationships) — they have to keep moving or they’ll die.

If a historical Jesus could come back, he surely would not recognize the faith being touted as his creation. That’s because it isn’t his — and never was. It pains me deeply to quote Woody Allen but he got this one right. If Jesus were to come back to see what’s been done in his name, “he would never stop throwing up”.

Hi — I’m Mike Pence’s Vibrating Butt Plug And I Have A Story To Tell…

It’s not exactly a revelation that Donald Trump is a gold-plated fraud. It shouldn’t be a revelation that Mike Pence is an equally big fraud.

I bet Mike Pence never thought twice about staying at Trump’s shitty golf property in Ireland — then flying 168 miles ffs to get to the meeting he was there to attend. Mike’s a beta dog’s beta dog. He doesn’t even have to know you. If you’re more alpha than he is (and everyone is) — Mike will do whatever you want him to no matter how humiliating.

If the Trump White House is a Rogue’s Gallery, VP Mike Pence is the Elmer Gantry character — without any of the charm or self-awareness of what a damnable con he really is. I dare you to conjure the words “hypocrite” or “sanctimonious shit” and NOT think of Mike Pence almost immediately.

There’s a way of speaking Evangelicals take on — PreacherSpeak, ya could call it. It’s got an oiliness to it — a big bright squirt of emotion but no substance beneath it so the emotion feels staged and phony. There’s a sing-songiness to it also — to distract, I suppose, from the complete & total lack of substance. And the compete & total lack of logic. It’s a vocal delivery that surfs giant waves of hubris and self-satisfaction like a pro. And if it needs to bring on the tears? Wait, wait — is that Noah I see, building another boat?

That voice sounds like this (I enter, as evidence, Pence’s speech at the 2016 Republican Convention — a classic in the annals of complete & utter bullshit). In fact, Mike took sanctimony to bold new heights in this speech. It’s still feeling puke-y and vertiginous from being up so high.

Now, to be fair to Mike (as much as it pains me), I don’t know for a fact that Mike Pence is a closeted gay man. I’ve known many over my life. It’s not fun being them. They shouldn’t have to be “them”. Everyone should be free to express what their biochemistry makes them feel. No one chooses their biochemistry — it’s a package deal. It comes with the DNA that forged us.

Religious faith and science are mutually exclusive propositions. That’s not true of spirituality, mind you. One can be spiritual and scientific without any conflicts. But religious? No. Religions (unlike spirituality) flows from religious organizations. Churches, let’s call them.

One could, in fact, follow Jesus on a spiritual level (by doing unto others) while ignoring all the church’s mythmaking and ooga-booga. I’ve pointed out in other posts that Jesus preached against the need for a “church”. A big part of Jesus’ message was “speak directly to God, the father — you don’t need the priests or the temple interceding on your behalf”. The guy who “built” churches was Paul. Paul was the one who, taking his version of Jesus out to the gentiles (who had no idea who Jesus really was or even if he really was), invented The Early Church as a series of communities spreading throughout the Roman world.

The bulk of the NT is Paul writing to those far flung communities as he invents what we now call “Christianity”.

Mike Pence is a church-goer but he ain’t going there for Jesus. FFS, the last thing Mike Pence wants to do is “DO” unto others. Nope. Mike sees religion as a way to turn others into him. Like a god.

That’s the dirty, dirty secret about the extremely religious — about every single televangelist — about Mike Pence himself. They all think THEY are “god”. Not “a” god — “God”. They may tell you that “God” (or Yahweh — that’s the god character’s actual name, “god” being his job description) speaks through them — they’re lying. No one or nothing is speaking through them. The “god” you hear spewing from their mouth parts is them, all them and nothing but them.

What makes these “gods” so much worse is that they’re all so screamingly ignorant. Why can’t these “gods” have a little knowledge in their pockets to go along with the sanctimony & judginess? I guess that would be too much to ask of men for whom sanctimony & judginess are their principle skill sets.

If you’ve never heard Mike Pence On Evolution — you kinda owe it to yourself. You should know how “god” “thinks”.

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Americans Need To Get It Out Of Our Heads: We DO NOT Do Everything Right

My gut is, this very American attitude — “How WE Do It Is How It Should Be Done” — flows from, the MALE of the American species. It’s definitely got a “I alone can fix it” pong to it.

You know how men are kind of “famous” for refusing to ever ask for directions when lost? Yeah — same chromosomal character flaw. We don’t HAVE to know how to do something, we assume we can figure it out. Then, when we stare at the wreckage our ignorance produced, we can blame the manufacturer or inadequate customer service for the mess. Men — dirty little secret here that I just KNOW I’m gonna pay for — are a lot like Ikea product instructions. You’re never going to “read them” through first; instead you’ll plunge in and get two-thirds of the way through before you realize you put the key piece on BACKWARDS at the very beginning and now the whole goddamned thing has to be taken apart so you can start over.

That’s men. That’s us. No kidding.

Men were mostly responsible not so much for founding the country as taking credit for it and making up all the rules. Women’s role in the founding has gone — shocking, right? — under-reported. I guess, in the men’s minds, someone had to “put the kettle on”. Being men, in whose same minds they were always right, they applied that fallacy to the document (and the country) they created.

If we — White Christian Men — say a thing is so, it MUST be so. Now go and Manifest Destiny already.

White Christian Men decided that slavery was okay. They thought it passed muster that black people were 3/5 of a white person. These things are embedded in our character. They’re part of our swagger (along with the things for which we’re justifiably celebrated as a culture). It’s a package deal. Like everything. Good is a fellow traveler with bad.

But, in our case, that “bad” has caught up with us. I blame the high bullshit content of our swagger.

America does not do healthcare right. We don’t do public education right. We don’t do secondary education — college, university, trade school — right. We don’t do taxes right. We don’t do humanitarianism right any more (we’re hellbent on the exact opposite). On healthcare — we’re the only country that ties healthcare to employment. There’s a REASON we’re the only country stupid enough to do that.

During WWII, employers weren’t allowed to give raises to employees (the money was redirected toward the war effort). To keep good employees from leaving — and to entice new hires — companies offered up healthcare instead. Lots of companies did that. Then the war ended. But that job benefit didn’t. The companies found it hard and expensive to keep providing healthcare. Insurance companies took over the workload — and sank their hooks in deep. They put themselves at the core of American healthcare.

The first question you get asked when you seek medical attention in America isn’t “How can we help you?”, it’s “And how are you going to PAY for this?”

Money, sadly, sits at the heart of what ails America. Greed has undermined the Greatest Experiment in Human Self Government Ever. Let’s be honest, if greed’s involved, the fix is always in. Nothing “trumps” greed. Ever.

America’s greatness flows from its largesse — which, in turn, flows from its diversity. Nothing but cold, Christian calculus (as opposed to Jesus-like, Do-Unto-Others thinking) flows from the White People who believe THEY and they alone are the keepers of the American Flame. They’re the remnant of the Boys Club that — thinking it was always right — sat down to make up the rules some of us still follow that others (Republicans all) blatantly piss on.

I guess “doing it right” is a matter of perspective. If you’re the majority of Americans — we feel in our gut that children dying on our southern border is us DOING IT WRONG. If you’re a republican however… if you’re Donald Trump — you’re a guy waving his dick around, thinking how awesome you are — and how “right” everything is in the world.

No, SCOTUS — A Cross Is Not (And Can NEVER Be) “Secular” In Any Way – BECAUSE Of Its History

The Supreme Court just came down 7-2, allowing a 40-foot World War I memorial in the shape of a Christian cross to remain standing in Maryland. The American Humanist Association had sued Maryland; they wanted the state to replace the cross (erected in 1925 as a memorial to 49 local residents who died) with something more “with something more appropriate and universal.” The SCOTUS however says the cross, while “undeniably a religious symbol” is also now “secular enough” to stay.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/supreme-court-christian-peace-cross-ruling_n_5cfeb071e4b02ee3477b60cc

How to put this politely… BULLSHIT!

It’s hard, apparently, for Christians to conceive of the idea that the symbol for their faith means more than just “their faith”. It means two thousand years of persecution — if you’re Jewish. It means pogroms and massacres and inquisitions and holocausts. A cross always stands in the background of each of those scenes. The people doing the pogroming & massacring were almost always motivated to their violence — at least in part — by that cross and the people who controlled that cross’ message. That cross is the banner anti-Semites have almost always followed into battle.

I grew up in a mostly Jewish suburb of Baltimore during the 1960’s & 1970’s — a kind of gilded ghetto. Jews have been living in ghettos — gilded or otherwise — since the term was coined in Venice, Italy around 1516 to describe the part of the city where Jews were allowed to live. The ghetto.

Jews didn’t force Jews to live in ghettos, Christians did — because Jews insisted on remaining a separate group. More to the point, they insisted on remaining the “original” group from which Christians emerged. They insisted on staying true to themselves regardless of the nonsense Paul and the early Church Fathers INVENTED to distinguish the emerging Christian faith from its Jewish origins. Though Paul didn’t invent the idea that Jesus was “a messiah” (at the time LOTS of people claimed to be messiahs or were declared messiahs by their followers — it was an apocalyptic time in Jerusalem), Paul adeptly used it to create the Christian Mythology that Jews killed Jesus (never mind all the mythology’s myriad logic problems).

Whenever Christians went hunting for Jews to punish — for having killed Jesus — they did it under the banner of a cross.

I’m sorry, SCOTUS, but almost TWO THOUSAND YEARS of being beaten with a cross cannot be undone by CHRISTIANS claiming their core religious symbol isn’t religious “in this instance”. That’s like saying a noose — left dangling at a black person’s desk at work or left outside a black family’s home — isn’t necessarily racist.

Trust me — it’s racist.