“U” For “Unvaccinated” IS The New “Scarlet Letter”

In the month since I first published this post (then it was “Should Be The New Scarlet Letter” vs “IS”), the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant has become its own little pandemic here in America — among the belligerently unvaccinated.

Remember Hester Prynne? In Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, Hester is forced by her intensely religious Puritan community to wear a scarlet letter “A” as punishment for having committed adultery. To the sin-hating Puritans, adultery wasn’t just deeply sinful, it was virtually unforgivable.

Jump forward several hundred years to now. America has made peace with all sorts of sins. Even the Arthur Dimmesdale’s of the world — in the person of religionista, pastor, former Liberty University president and super proud cocksman Jerry Falwell, Jr — have come out from hiding. Jerry Junior isn’t just unashamed of his adultery, he’s openly boastful about it!

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the Christian and conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., posted this photo on social media Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, with the caption: “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”

That expression on Jerry-Junior’s face? It’s shouting “Hey, see the smile on this young lady’s face? I put it there!”

These days, we’re more likely to force someone to wear a scarlet “A” because they’re a raging Asshole. Which brings us to anti-vaxxers — another “scarlet A”. Were it not for anti-vaxxers and their relentless spew of bullshit into the info stream, America would have gotten atop the coronavirus already. We probably wouldn’t be talking about “booster shots” because we would have achieved herd immunity within our borders. All that excess production would have already gone into making vaccine for the rest of the world — and, perhaps, that would have spared us the Delta and Mu variants and everything before and in between. Our economy would be more settled, its improvements more sustainable and reliable. And, instead of still dying in droves, Americans would be helping to restore our image across the globe as the main engine of the world’s recovery.

Too bad about the “forces of darkness” within our midst.

Pathogens are by far the most potent weapon on the planet. Throughout human history, pathogens have relentlessly culled the human herd without us even fully understanding how they were doing it to us. The native population of North America wasn’t conquered by European guns or steal. European pathogens did all the hard work. The guns and steel were there for the mop up operation.

Let’s be crystal clear: anti-vaxx sentiment is based on zero science and a clear misunderstanding of how people need to approach science. Because anti-vaxx sentiment doesn’t need science to undergird its call to action, it can recommend anything. It can advocate for utter bullshit because nothing is there to check its work — and point to how bullshitty it is.

Hester Prynne’s community had nothing whatsoever to fear from Hester. Adultery was not going to spread like a virus (although, to be fair — though it wasn’t their intention — if adultery didn’t spread like a virus, venereal diseases, crabs and pubic lice sure did including syphilis — the one potent pathogen the New World sent back to the Old). Perhaps in the Puritans’ worst nightmares, adultery had the potential to do what pathogens can. There’s a big difference between nightmares and reality though. And Colonial Americans weren’t strangers to the harm pathogens could do. George Washington — following the science of the time — had the Continental Army vaccinated against smallpox. We’ve known what pathogens do and how and why for a couple hundred years now. We KNOW how to protect ourselves from them; that should be the basis for OUR “morality”. Sex as the basis is simply too complicated and hypocrites are everywhere.

Hester is a strange mix of sexually liberated woman and mousey good-girl gone wrong. Anti-vaxxers are zombies. The pathogen has already eaten their brains and now is using the anti-vaxxers as their ride while they come for the rest of us. That’s why we NEED to make every single anti-vaxxer wear that “U” they seem so proud of right there on their person. Let’s tattoo it across their foreheads — it won’t be the ugliest tat on any of their bodies.

President Biden led the way, making vaccinations mandatory for federal employees and the military. Even big corporations appreciated on a granular level how devastating the pandemic’s been to their bottom line. Our consumer economy depends almost entirely on people buying things. Poor people can’t buy anything and rich people — they pretty much have everything they need. They’re not the market products and their manufacturers rely on for long term health. That’d be the middle class. America succeeds best when its middle class is healthy and thriving. That, really, is the whole point of Joe Biden’s progressive agenda. It ain’t “socialism”, it’s a robust middle class driving a socialized capitalism that understands it MUST have limits because integrity matters. And so does having a habitable planet with a habitable environment.

It ain’t vaccinated people stalling the economy — preventing people from getting back to work and their lives back to normal — it’s the unvaccinated. Money is everyone’s bottom line. You threaten our wallets and pocketbooks long enough and you will get our attention. That is the massive pile of shit anti-vaxxers (and, in turn the Republican Party for thinking it could ride the anti-vaxx movement to permanent political power) stepped in. And, if your bullshit threatens our kids?

“U” for “Unvaccinated” IS our new Scarlet Letter.

I bet they’ll not only wear their Scarlet Letters, I bet they’ll compete with each other to make THEIR scarlet “U” bigger than everyone else’s. What point is there in being just “full of shit” when you can be the “fullest” of shit?

Just like Hester was stigmatized, so too should every “U” wearing anti-vaxxer. That U should be why they can’t get hired, get get loans, can’t get service at a restaurant and can’t get former (now vaccinated) friends to return their calls. Pariah-hood is almost too good form them.

I’m torn about what to think of the “former” anti-vaxxer putting his new-found faith in modern medicine on social media as he dies painfully from the very disease he boastfully claimed couldn’t hurt him. America has a strange history of willful ignorance. The “Know Nothings” were an actual political movement starting in the 1850’s. They were anti-Catholic, anti-Irish, anti-immigration, populist and xenophobic. They were neutral on slavery (which makes them pro-slavery by default). Their answer to any question was simply “I know nothing”. Though the movement died within a few years, the sentiment zombied on.

Maybe that’s what the Scarlet “U” actually signifies: the zombification of a third of America. They’re not just unvaccinated; some part of them is “undead”. Oh, great — another “U”.

“U” For “Unvaccinated” Is About To Become The New “Scarlet Letter”

Remember Hester Prynne? In Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, Hester is forced by her intensely religious Puritan community to wear a scarlet letter “A” as punishment for having committed adultery. To the sin-hating Puritans, adultery wasn’t just deeply sinful , it was virtually unforgivable. Jump forward several hundred years to now. America has made peace with what we used to call “sin”. In fact, we’ve gotten damned good at “sinning”. Even the Arthur Dimmesdale’s (he’s the town preacher who’s knocked up Hester) have openly thrown in their lot with greed and lust and gluttony. What is a proud cocksman like Jerry Falwell, Jr if not a prideful version of Arthur Dimmesdale? Jerry Junior isn’t just unashamed of his adultery, he’s openly boastful about it!

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the Christian and conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., posted this photo on social media Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, with the caption: “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”

That expression on Jerry-Junior’s face? It’s shouting “Hey, see the smile on this young lady’s face? I put it there!”

These days, we’re more likely to force someone to wear a scarlet “A” because they’re a raging asshole. Which brings us to anti-vaxxers — another “scarlet A”. Were it not for anti-vaxxers and their relentless spew of bullshit into the info stream, America would have gotten atop the coronavirus already. Though it would still be raging in most of the rest of the world, we would have achieved the herd immunity needed to get our lives and our economy headed back to a new kind of normal. There would have been bumps along that road too. Witness Israel and New Zealand and Australia — places that have fought the coronavirus as intelligently as people can.

Pathogens are by far the most potent weapon on the planet. Throughout human history, pathogens have relentlessly culled the human herd without us even fully understanding how they were doing it to us. The native population of North America wasn’t conquered by European guns or steal. European pathogens did all the hard work. The guns and steel were there for the mop up operation.

Let’s be crystal clear: anti-vaxx sentiment is based on zero science and a clear misunderstanding of how people need to approach science. Because anti-vax sentiment doesn’t need science to undergird its call to action, it can recommend anything. It can advocate for utter bullshit because nothing is there to check its work — and point to how bullshitty it is.

Hester Prynne’s community had nothing whatsoever to fear from Hester. Adultery was not going to spread like a virus though, ironically, the madness behind such close-minded religious thinking did spread with viral intensity Perhaps in the Puritans’ worst nightmares, adultery had the potential to do what pathogens can. There’s a big difference between nightmares and reality though. And Colonial Americans weren’t strangers to the harm pathogens could do — even if they weren’t clear that the harm in question was being caused by such a thing as a “pathogen”. But, we, on the other hand, DO know that pathogens exist. We DO know what pathogens do and how and why. We KNOW how to protect ourselves from them; that should be the basis for OUR “morality”.

Hester is a strange mix of sexually liberated woman and mousey good-girl gone wrong. Anti-vaxxers are zombies. The pathogen has already eaten their brains and now is using the anti-vaxxers as their ride while they come for the rest of us. That’s why we NEED to make every single anti-vaxxer wear that “U” they seem so proud of right there on their person. “U” for “Unvaccinated” must become our new Scarlet Letter.

The good news? It’s already happening. France and Italy have already begun culling the unvaccinated from the rest of us. Can’t prove YOU were vaccinated? You can’t eat in restaurants or attend any group entertainments like soccer matches or concerts. In a way, an unvaccinated person’s LACK of a “V” (for “vaccinated”) is the new scarlet letter. But, hey — like I said — the unvaxxed don’t see their unvaccinated status the way Hester saw her adulteress status. I bet they’ll not only wear their Scarlet Letters, I bet they’ll compete with each other to make THEIR scarlet “U” bigger than everyone else’s.

What point is there in being just “full of shit” when you can be the “fullest” of shit?

Both France and Italy are, currently, facing pushback from the unvaxxed. Riots erupted in Paris yesterday. As the unvaccinated get sick and become a smaller and smaller minority, their ignorant way of thinking will achieve true pariah-hood. They will deserve it.

Pathogens really don’t care what magical thinking motivates any human to NOT protect themselves from the pathogen. Their existence is simple: they need us. Their entire purpose is to get inside us and reproduce. That it kills us is beside the point. Before we expire, the pathogen will have used us to infect countless other humans — replacing their silent scarlet “U” (for “unvaxxed”) with a whole other kind of marker: a headstone.

“U” For “Unvaccinated” Is About To Become The New “Scarlet Letter”

Remember Hester Prynne? In Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, Hester is forced by her intensely religious Puritan community to wear a scarlet letter “A” at all times as punishment for having committed adultery. To the sin-hating Puritans, adultery wasn’t just deeply sinful , it was virtually unforgivable. Jump forward several hundred years to now. America has made peace with what we used to call “sin”. Even the Arthur Dimmesdale’s (he’s the town preacher who knocked up Hester) have openly thrown in their lot with greed and lust. What is a proud cocksman like Jerry Falwell, Jr if not a prideful version of Arthur Dimmesdale, no longer ashamed of his adultery (takes two to tango, right?), but, rather, boastful about it —

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the Christian and conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., posted this photo on social media Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, with the caption: “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”

These days, we’re more inclined to force someone to wear a scarlet “A” because they’re a raging asshole. Which brings me to anti-vaxxers — another “scarlet A”. Were it not for anti-vaxxers and their relentless spew of out-and-out bullshit into the information stream, America would have gotten atop the coronavirus already. Though it would still be raging in most of the rest of the world, we’d have achieved the herd immunity needed to truly get our lives and our economy firmly headed back to a new kind of normal. Let’s be crystal clear here: anti-vaxx sentiment is based on zero science and a clear misunderstanding of how people need to approach science. Because it doesn’t need science to undergird its recommendations, it can recommend anything. It can say anything because nothing is there to check its work.

Hester Prynne’s community had nothing whatsoever to fear from Hester. Adultery was not going to spread like a virus — though, ironically, the madness behind such close-minded religious thinking did. Perhaps in their worst nightmares, adultery had the potential to do what a pathogen can. There’s a big difference between nightmares and reality though. And Colonial Americans weren’t strangers to the harm pathogens could do — even if they weren’t entirely clear that the harm in question was being caused by such a thing as a “pathogen”. But, we DO know pathogens exist. We DO know what pathogens do and how and why. We KNOW how to protect ourselves from them — that should be the basis for OUR “morality”. We KNOW how to keep our communities safe from things that we perceive would destroy them.

Hester is a strange mix of sexually liberated woman and mousey good-girl gone wrong. Anti-vaxxers are zombies. The pathogen has already eaten their brains and now is using the anti-vaxxers as their ride while they come for the rest of us. That’s why we NEED to make every single anti-vaxxer wear that “U” they seem so proud of right there on their person. “U” for “Unvaccinated” must become our new Scarlet Letter.

The good news? It’s already happening. France and Italy have already begun culling the unvaccinated from the rest of us. Can’t prove YOU were vaccinated? You can’t eat in restaurants or attend any group entertainments like soccer matches or concerts. In a way, an unvaccinated person’s LACK of a “V” (for “vaccinated”) is the new scarlet letter. But, hey — like I said — the unvaxxed don’t see their unvaccinated status the way Hester saw her adulteress status. I bet they’ll not only wear their Scarlet Letters, I bet they’ll compete with each other to make THEIR scarlet “U” bigger than everyone else’s.

What point is there in being just “full of shit” when you can be the “fullest” of shit?

Both France and Italy are, currently, facing pushback from the unvaxxed. Riots erupted in Paris yesterday. As the unvaccinated get sick and become a smaller and smaller minority, their ignorant way of thinking will achieve true pariah-hood. They will deserve it.

Pathogens really don’t care what magical thinking motivates any human to NOT protect themselves from the pathogen. Their existence is simple: they need us. Their entire purpose is to get inside us and reproduce. That it kills us is beside the point. Before we expire, we’ll likely infect countless other humans — exactly like the pathogen wants us to do. But then, if they had their way, in time every pathogen would replace the antivaxxers scarlet “U” with a headstone.

What Does It Say About You When You Suck At Being A Christian?

In theory, following Jesus is remarkably easy. So easy, in fact, that even an atheist can do it just by “Doing it unto others”. And yet, looking around at the most “Christian-y” among us, people “doing unto others” is the last thing you’ll see — unless they’re doing it unto others before those others can do it unto them. But, in theory anyway, the most Christian people should be the people who most want to model their lives on Jesus’s. Hmmmmmm… the most visibly Christian people visible to us are televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker and Kenneth Copland and Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Joel Osteen Copland famously explained why it’s just not possible for a “man of Jesus” to fly commercial. Each of these characters is a study in performance art, not spirituality. Kenny Copland and Joel Osteen couldn’t care less about your problems unless you start making monthly donations via your credit card. The only thing these scumbags have faith in is their bank account.

Jerry Falwell, Jr wants you to know it wasn’t Jesus who put THAT smile on THAT young woman’s face. No sirree. Jesus couldn’t do that on his best day. But Jerry just did (he wants us all to know).

The fact that it’s sooooooooo easy to pick on televangelists should tell us something. The fact that religious figures have been figures of satiric fun going back to Moliere’s Tartuffe (1664) should tell us something. In Tartuffe, a rich guy takes a religious fraud into his house believing it will raise his standing. Of course, the rich guy doesn’t realize Tartuffe is a fraud (though everyone else in his house does). Even when Tartuffe seduces his wife atop the very table he’s hiding under doesn’t convince him. That’s some serious bamboozlement — but that’s the whole point of televangelism. It’s theater. God Kabuki geared not toward anyone’s spiritual enlightenment but toward enriching the preacher as quickly as possible. As Kenny Copeland will happily tell you — it costs Jesus a bomb to fly private, but a messiah’s gotta fly how he’s gotta fly — and, hell — where’s my damned drink?

Why is it the most ardent Christians seem the least good at it — like they need to keep talking about Christianity or, they know, they’ll stop believing in it. Like they’ve “heard” the good news they’re selling except they can’t quite make themselves buy it.

To be fair, being a Christian is indeed hard: you have to swallow a lot of things no one should have to swallow. But, that’s only if you insist on practicing Christian dogma rather than Jesus’s simple life philosophy.

Fact: just as he did not invent Christianity (Paul did), neither did Jesus invent a single bit of the mythology that says 1) he rose from the dead or 2) is coming back any time soon. Again, Paul the Apostle did all that. Paul never met Jesus (like has family had). He never heard Jesus teach. So, when Paul tried to hijack Jesus, Jesus’s family and followers objected. That’s why Paul took HIS version of Jesus — and the Jewish mythology that suggested Jesus was any sort of “messiah” — out to the Gentiles. They didn’t know Jesus either. And they had even less background in the Jewish mythology than former Jew Paul did. So, when Paul twisted the Jewish mythology around to meet his needs, no one objected because no one knew any better.

Judaism, by its nature, is relatively dogma-free. One can toss the whole religion and still be welcome as a Jew (that’s because Judaism is more than just a religion; fifteen years of isolation in Europe did turn Jews into a unique tribe with its own genetic disorder caused by in-breeding). The most dogmatic part of Judaism is its dietary laws and no one is obligated to follow them. It’s a choice. Christianity, on the other hand, is steeped in dogma — and you absolutely must buy the dogma if you want the Christian bone. And not a whit of Christian dogma has the least bit to do with anything Jesus said, thought or taught.

But then, Jesus was born, lived his entire life and died a Jew. He preached only to Jews about topics only Jews understood in a language that was uniquely theirs. IF Jesus were to miraculously rise from the dead and walk the earth again, the first thing he’d bump on is the staggering amount of hatred his followers feel toward his tribe. He’d be blown away by the number of Jews MURDERED by Christians for a reason that Jesus himself would insist was bullshit: that any Jew “killed him”.

On pure story logic, it makes zero sense. If the whole point of Jesus’s existence is to die for the sins of humanity so as to right the wrong Eve committed in the Garden of Eden, then it would not serve humanity if Jesus doesn’t get crucified and, say, lives to be a very old man who dies happy. For the mythology to work, Jesus must die at the hands of the Romans. If you look at the bigger picture — the one God’s working — Jesus MUST die. To Paul’s credit, his invention endures like few things have ever endured.

I don’t think that’s because the Christian message resonates with so many people, I think it’s because Paul cleverly added a new dimension to Yahweh — and having a deity that cared about humans because he created them was a game changer. Whereas polytheistic gods did very little for individual humans, Yahweh the monotheist deity supposedly cared about each and every human. But Paul improved on that idea of a personable god by having Yahweh offer up something every human wanted more than life itself: a way to defeat death.

That, really, is Paul’s sales pitch to Christians: “Believe in this version of Jesus I’m pitching to ya and, just like Jesus did, you, too, can defeat death!” Who wouldn’t want to live forever and be surrounded by the people and things you love?

The problem for Christianity is, most people have figured out that Christianity cannot possibly deliver on its promise of defeating death. Without that benefit, what’s the point? I mean, Jesus is a perfectly nice guy but so’s my nephew. Can Jesus cut video like my nephew can because otherwise he’s useless to me and probably everyone else. If it isn’t about following Jesus (or beating death) then what’s the point of Christianity for most Christians? This, I suspect, lies at the heart of the problem. The object of being a Christian is to keep Christian dogma in your prayers. You damn well better adhere to it — or stop calling yourself a “Christian”.

For the record? Followers of Jesus do not have the same issues.

Maybe the real problem is that it’s so easy to be (or at least call yourself) “a Christian” that any angry, racist jerk can join the club. When Christians proselytize, they honestly don’t care what you’re guilty of. As far as they’re concerned, once you’ve “bathed in the blood of Christ”, all your sins are forgiven — including the really ugly, violent ones you’re going to do at your church’s behest.

I take back what I said up top. Guys like Jerry Falwell, Jr and Kenneth Copeland don’t suck at being Christians. In fact, they’re great at it. It’s following Jesus where they completely fall down.

As if following Jesus mattered to them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of you are crazy.

Men Who Think They’re God

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

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

Bill Barr believes he IS God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And adults ARE full of shit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

When Gun Lovers Insist They Need Their Guns To Fight Tyrannical Government, What They Mean Is THEY’RE RACISTS

Pro-gun people will insist right to your face that their arsenal of death is all that stands between the collective us and a hostile, tyrannical government taking over all our lives. Their devotion to the second amendment (well, to their bizarre interpretation of it that rearranges syntax and redefines words to make them more convenient) is our last bulwark of freedom.

That ain’t just bullshit, it’s RACIST bullshit.

Do a quick survey of who mouths that nonsense. See what I mean? Not a brown face to be seen. Think it’s a coincidence?

These are the same princes who believe American Exceptionalism is the money rich white men put down in the casino of ideas. They think ownership of an idea is what matters rather than the idea itself. Of course they would — they can’t think of the ideas because their brains have all stagnated. Great ideas are born of diversity — and the many different ways of thinking that diversity organically inspires.

The joke about white supremacy of course is its total wrong-headedness about its core mythology — that white people breeding only with white people will produce white perfection. You might indeed get a “race” of people with alabaster skin — your ideal of perfection. But that blindingly white flesh will come with lots of baggage including genetic issues. Ask the Spanish aristocracy how that works out.

American Exceptionalism (it’s a real thing) flows directly from its diversity. Until travel became easy in the 19th century, most people lived and died within a few miles of where they were born. A family — a community of families — would live on the same patch of land for generations, bonding, becoming a tribe. The tribes that lived around and between the Seine, Rhone, Loire, Garonne and Marne Rivers eventually became French. That same formative process produced the English, the Spanish, the Dutch, the Belgians, the Swiss and every other nation of Europe (and the world up to that point).

Meanwhile, in North America, millions of Native Americans were thriving. When the European tribes eventually arrived, they found a nearly empty continent. That’s because the very first European arrivals brought germs with them that quickly, silently and pretty thoroughly reduced a collective population of millions to a mere tens of thousands. The European tribes were all white and saw their larger tribe as superior.

Had the European tribes had to go up against the native tribes at full size and strength? They’d all still be in Europe — without a bit of the New World’s wealth in their pocket. That fact alone would have changed the fate of humankind.

But white people stepped onto a blank canvas and saw only themselves. But others were here, too. Black people, brown people, Asian people, Middle Eastern people. As there was no native tribe anymore, all the new arrivals filled that tribal vacuum and became a tribe. Regardless of wherever they were from, most came to America to stay. To become something they hadn’t been before because no one had been it: Americans.

It wasn’t just white, European people and their money.

White, Christian people have always lived in irrational fear of every other race. Having invented the myth that America was a white, Christian country by nature, white, Christian people proceeded to make life miserable for everyone who wasn’t white. Over the course of two hundred years, America’s white, Christian people persecuted, enslaved, massacred or disrespected every single other group they encountered — and usually? They used their faith to justify it.

Go back to those faces — of the earnest, deeply concerned citizens insisting that their gun is our freedom. Replace the word “government” with “black person” or “brown person” or “Asian person” or “Muslim” or “Jew” or “Feminist” even. It plugs and plays perfectly.

It’s not a coincidence. Gun lovers fear the government because they love their guns. It’s not the government taking their guns that scares them to death, it’s how defenseless they’ll feel afterwards — when or if one of those other tribes comes looking for payback. Never mind how entitled those other tribes are to every bit of payback they can get, the white people ain’t paying it. Not willingly.

Want fairness? Want Justice? As former proud NRA member Charlton Heston once proudly asserted about gun regulators and his guns, we’ll have to take fairness, Justice and our safety from their “cold, dead fingers”.

Chuck Heston wasn’t staring at the government when he said that. He was staring at “the help”.

America’s Love Affair With “Stupid”, Part III: When Democrats Get Stupid, There’s Nothing Stupider…

Not a revelation: smart people are as capable of profound stupidity as the profoundly stupid.

The instant even an Einstein-level genius begins to view the world with limited or diminished perspective, it’s just a matter of time before they turn as deeply, utterly, right-down-to-his-tighty-whities stupid as Texas’ Louie Gohmert — the (certifiably) Stupidest Man In Congress. When discussing “stupid”, it’s important to define one’s terms.

As a “baseline” for stupid — “stupid” we can all agree is 1) genuinely stupid and 2) quantifiably stupid — Louie Gohmert is (in my humble opinion) The Gold Standard. So — when I say Democrats are capable of profound stupidity, I’m saying Democrats have it in them to be stupider than Louie Gohmert — stupider than the stupidest man in Congress.

But, I’m not here just to call people stupid (as much fun as it is). I’m here to explain WHY they’re stupid. I want to help after all. Louie Gohmert is stupid because stupid is baked in to his genetics. In the human gene pool, Louie and his kin are all “floaters” in the shallow end — turds someone squeezed out because they regularly shit where they eat and sleep. Unfortunately for us, it’s now too late to clear out the pool, empty it of floaters, and give it a good scrub before refilling.

Louie epitomizes conservative stupidity. It has zero intellectual curiosity. Everything a Louie-Conservative knows (or needs to know, it says) comes from the bible. Never mind that had that works’ authors (the bible is a compendium of multiple texts written by multiple people then edited and assembled into the form we know now by other multiple people) operated from a very limited knowledge base. They thought everything in the cosmos revolved around the earth (they were wrong). They thought magic caused and cured disease (they were wrong). They thought the whole world and everything in it was right there where they lived — that no other “continents” existed filled with millions of humans with vastly different experiences from theirs (they were wrong about that, too). Louie-Conservatives holds up this religious text as the basis for all history, science and cosmology.

So — a Louie-Conservative will take the genetic stupidity he starts with and add heaps of experiential stupidity. Rather than open his eyes or, better yet, his mind, a Louie-Conservative will dig in his heels, insisting that these ancient texts, like their authors were “divinely inspired”. They were transmitting the literal “words o’ god”. That’s what every author things, stupid

Conservative stupid is because it will do everything in its power to live in the past — and living in the past (say it with me) IS STUPID.

Democrats get stupid in the exact opposite way. In a sense, Democrats get stupid because we so very much want to live in the future. While conservatives long to live in a past where their tribe dominates (everyone in power needs to look and sound just like them), Progressives (Democrats) want to live in a future where no tribe dominates. That’s a terrific ideal but might not be as doable as Progressives think. Certainly not now the way homo sapiens are “configured”.

Democrats want to think the best of people. Because they want the pool to be as diverse as possible, they allow a tremendous amount of variability in terms of who can join the pool. Progress can’t happen any other way. There are inherent risks because people aren’t uniformly good. Some of us are greedy. Some of us are really greedy.

Greed is a whole other kind of stupid. Everyone is capable of greed.

The moment greed-stupidity enters, all bets are off. Greed-stupidity trumps everything and all other stupidity becomes instantly irrelevant. Greed stupidity is the most willful. It will sacrifice everything at the altar of Greed right down to its own future — like Abraham sacrificing his beloved Isaac just because the voice in his head told him to. The Nature of Democrat-Stupid is we’re terrible at recognizing Greed-Stupid.

Democrats get stupid when they give the benefit of the doubt to Greed-Stupid because they can’t adjudge Greed-Stupid’s true motives. Then Democrats get nuts when Greed-Stupid changes the rules — or flat out ignores them — because all Greed-Stupid cares about is holding onto power (and money) — so they can maintain their Conservative-Stupid hold over everyone — the majority of people.

In bending over backwards to be fair, Democrats initiate the process of their own destruction. Stupid, right? The problem? It’s as baked in as a Conservative’s stupidity.

As the French would say, Voila la probleme.

Is there a cure for stupid? It’s a fair question. I’m afraid the answer’s unsatisfying: no. Homo sapiens are incredibly clever. Industrious. We’re great problem-solvers — maybe the best among sentient beings on earth (though we have no way of really knowing — lots of other sentient beings are good at solving problems). But we’re self-destructive in myriad ways — starting with our knack for over-production. There are far, far too many of us on the planet. We’ve destroyed 90% of all the other creatures we’ve encountered. Destroyed them or made their habitat unlivable, take your pick. They disappeared regardless.

We’re facing a massive, genuinely existential crisis caused by our own greed and short-sightedness. But, in part because there are so many of us and because we’re so diverse, it’s impossible for us to collectively help ourselves quickly if at all. And even if we could collectively help ourselves, because variation is baked in — and because so much of that variation is motivated by greed — we’re doomed from the start.

It’s a fact — homo sapiens will be no more durable on this planet than the dinosaurs. We’re just as doomed to distinction. The one big difference? Dinosaurs had no hand in their own destruction. The cosmos did that courtesy of a massive meteor strike.

In our case — we have only ourselves to blame.

Boy, is that stupid.