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.
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.
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.
Ask ten people what “God” is, you’ll get ten different
answers. That’s because “God” didn’t
invent us, we invented “him”.
Ask ten Evangelicals what “God” is and they’ll draw you a
word picture that, if you stripped it of all the larger-than-life puffery would
look exactly like them.
For reference-sake, let’s remind ourselves that Jesus
preached a simple message: Do Unto Others.
It was Paul, selling his version of Jesus and Jesus’ message to the
gentiles, who actually invented what we think of as Christianity. If Paul doesn’t do what he does, there is no
Jesus, in fact, taught his followers that they didn’t need a
“church”. He raged against not only the
money changers but the Temple Priests, too, who Jesus believed were corrupt. Speak directly to the father, Jesus preached.
Talk to Yahweh (the “god” character’s actual name; “god” is actually his job
description) directly, no need for a church or a priest to intercede on your
Yet lots of American Christians – Evangelicals especially – could
ditch Jesus entirely and be completely at peace practicing a religion that
couldn’t care less about doing unto others. What matters most to them is
maintaining political power and keeping all the money.
The trick every theist plays on themselves – and anyone they
then talk to – is believing that they have a direct line to this Yahweh
guy. When push comes to shove, they can
get Yahweh on the phone and get him thinking straight. The truth, of course, is way more
complicated. Cue the Magical Thinking.
Theists imagine a deity clever enough to create the whole
cosmos – and everything in it – but too inept to get human beings right. In fact, the Yahweh character, as written, is
so inept and incompetent that he (only a male would react like this), faced
with the mess he’s made with humans (it never says Yahweh is unhappy with any
other creature except the talking snake), is willing to destroy ALL LIVING
THINGS – non humans included – out of… what, spite?
What kind of tin pot, third-rate deity is this guy?
Then – when he gets the humans he really wants, Yahweh
cranks the incest meter up to a thousand.
Think about it. First there’s
Adam & Eve. They have two sons –
Caan & Abel. It’s written how Caan,
after he killed Abel, has a massive family.
Okay, fair enough. Where’d his
wife – and HER family – come from?
Unless she spontaneously sprang into being, she had to be conceived,
born and raised. Well – who conceived
her? Who was the sperm donor? Whose was the egg?
If other people existed on earth then those people also had
to spring from Eve. If this story is “historical”
(good thing it isn’t), then every human on earth is the bi-product of
incest. Theists happily re-play the
incest meme hen they get to Noah. If
every other human being is wiped out, every other line of human genetics, then
every last human on earth must be related to Noah – and sprang from incestuous
origins. There’s no way around it.
Religionistas all insist that they have insight about Yahweh
that no one else has. They know what
Yahweh means across however many translations from the Aramaic to the Greek to
the English. Religionistas all claim to
know what lurks in a fictional creature’s fictional heart. What could possibly
History is littered
with the victims of religious people who spoke for god using violent
means. Religionistas destroyed whole
cultures because “God” wanted it. That
would be their “god”. Their white
man’s “god”. Them.
Cut to the end of the chase: even the smartest people you know have a taste for bullshit – their own.
We all believe things that – if we actually had to back them up – we’d realize how silly we were for saying such things out loud (never mind actually believing them). We might even realize our problem’s much worse: bullshit has taken over most of our lives.
That ain’t bullshit.
I was watching the football club I follow – Tottenham Hotspur
– play horribly again this morning. With
ten minutes to go, they were down 3-0 to a team they should have thumped. Spurs lost earlier this week 7-2 to Bayern
Munich in the Champion’s League. With
ten minutes to go – and defeat a dead certainty (in a week we’d been outscored
10-2 FFS!), I still experienced a moment where I thought “Hey, we’re Spurs, we
can still do this!”
No, we couldn’t – and we didn’t. We couldn’t get the ball past midfield. We’re in a mental freefall as a team. That’s the Truth. It’s bullshit to think Spurs can win anything
But, for a moment, I tried to convince myself that they
could. I tried to bullshit myself and I
Bullshit is Hope’s evil twin. Just as Hope is aspirationally positive,
Bullshit is aspirationally negative. It’s
a lie easily thrown together, easily tossed off and easily forgotten –
especially when new bullshit is created to replace the old. It’s the sausage factory from the seventh
ring of hell.
And yet, damned if Bullshit Brand Sausage doesn’t sell.
For a lot of us, the addiction to bullshit starts early – with our “religiouseducation”. That’s a non sequitur. You can learn about religion, but to be educated IN a religion is to be fed a diet of pure, unadulterated bullshit. Religion, mind you, is entirely different from spirituality.
Spirituality is the ineffable essence of the awe any human
feels as they gaze up at the cosmos and tries to see how they fit with it. With the pure fact of “being”.
Religion is rules & regs. It’s crowd control. It’s the perverse corporatization of
spirituality: an institution invents a “way” to spirituality – through them,
through following their rules. Followers
may flirt with spiritual experience but it’s always within the context of the
religion’s rules. Any spiritual
experience outside those rules? It’s
heresy. You’re allowed the church’s
definition of “spiritual” and not your own.
Funny irony? Jesus
himself preached AGAINST having a church.
He taught his followers to speak directly to god. No need for the Temple, its authorities or
And no need to tithe any church either. Just “Do Unto Others”. It’s that simple.
How many American Christians “do unto others”? Not many (relatively speaking). Most are “church-goers”. They’re not followers of Jesus. They’re in it for the “exclusivity”, the clubiness.
They like the mythology, too. They like
the magic behind it because the magic says they’ll never die.
Magic is sparkly bullshit. It’s no more real just because it glitters a little.
The Truth is we’re all going to die. There’s no escaping it. There’s no proof of
any afterlife. None. To insist that one
might exist is simply magic forcing itself upon you.
It’s me thinking Spurs could come back from three-nothing
with minutes left when all the evidence said they were already in the locker
room, their heads hung low.
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.
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.