Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wish becomes Fact

I know, it's been forever since I've blogged. I've just had so much to do. I'll try to do better, I promise.

But the good news is I actually have something for you today... a couple stories.

First of all, my ex (I know, here I go again). I heard my daughter on the phone with her the other day talking about how she doesn't like history and math in school. And for those of you who don't know, my ex has gone mega-xtian. So I hear my ex telling her that history is basically useless and that all the history she needs is in the bible. Fucking Really? That's what you've got to say to your daughter about history? You really can't think of anything useful that isn't in the bible? Now I know you're a holy-roller and all, but do you have to be such a fucking idiot too? Then she went on to say how much she hated math and how glad she was that she didn't have to ever do math again. I don't even have the strenght to tackle that one fully except to say that I'm trying to keep my kid IN school until she graduates and I'm sure hearing her mother constantly say that she hates and never uses anything she's learning just undermines everything I'm trying to do.

Here's the other story. I'll tie these together at the end.

Ok, actually I started this yesterday and I got busy. But I have to tell you this story before I get into the other story. I was on the phone with my mom today. She was saying that she couldn't believe that my grandmother, being such a staunch xtian, made me a devil costume when I was little. I agreed that it did seem a little out of character. And she said, well, that, yeah, and just that anybody would do that. I said what do you mean, anybody? The rest of the talk went mostly like this:

Well, I don't see how anybody could ever want to dress up as the devil, much less do that to a little kid.

I'm not sure what you mean, you mean that just because it's the devil, and nobody should aspire to glorifying such an evil figure?

Exactly. Why would you want to honor the devil. Do you really wanna teach your kids to grow up acting like that? I mean, even if you don't believe in the devil.

me: Well, the devil is a xtian concept. So how could it be such a bad thing if you don't believe in him?

Because he's evil. He's bad to the core. Why would you want your kids growing up learning to emulate that?

But you have to problem with dracula, the mummy, frankenstein, etc.

Well, that's different. They're not really real and can't really do any harm.

Hah, well maybe so, but they're still all bad guys. Do you want your kids growing up emulating dracula? Do you really want him to become a creature of the night?

They're not as bad as the devil.

So it's ok to dress like someone who's really really evil as long as they're not the ultimate evil.

It's just different.

How is it so different?

Well, at least they didn't grow horns!! The devil's so evil he grew horns.

Really? You wanna go there? OK, dracula grew fangs!

Well still... it's just different.

So anyway... that's just a ridiculous discussion we had and I had to pass it along.

Here's my other story though:
I was also talking to my mom about people driving by with their radios too loud. And she said that cops in her town will ticket you the first time you play your music too loud and the second time they'll take it away for 2 wks. And the 3rd time, they'll sell your radio.

Now this one I just can't let pass. I said, there's just no way the police can get away with stealing your stuff. She said... well it's not stealing because they warned you. Now you're just being stupid. If I warn you that I'm going to come over and steal your stuff while you're on vacation it's still stealing.
She said, well I guarantee you they do that kinda thing out here (in the country). I said, no they don't because there are still laws in this country and you can't steal a radio just because you think it's too loud. I don't care who you are.
And she said, well they'll still give you a ticket.

Um, yeah, they'll give you a ticket, that I'm sure of.

So look here's the deal. I know all of us would like to take someone's radio away when they play it too loud and I know it sounds very attractive to a xtian that all the history you ever need is in the bible, but wishing doesn't make it so.

Xtians wish all kinds of things about the world and about god. And they spill that shit out to their kids like it's fact. But again, wishing something doesn't make it fact.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sparring with Jovies, part 3

And my response, again without hello/goodbye remarks:

--- REGRET ---
I figured the "regret" issue would have linguistics behind it, and I won't belabor the point too much. But, I will stress once again that the passage says "And the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel". It doesn't say, "And the LORD was really upset that Saul was disobedient." This passage implies that God was sad about Saul's disobedience, but it SAYS that he regretted something He had done. BUT, I must say that this was really a side note...God's ability or inability to regret his own actions, change his mind, isn't likely to convince me of his existence or nonexistence. I do thank you for your attention there, though....

--- BAD GOD ---
Putting aside for the time being the idea that the bible isn't the word of next biggest issue with religion, and Christianity specifically, is what we talked about next - that God is most DEFINITELY not a role model. If this god actually existed, I would turn my back on him. But I think that the portrayal of him as a being of love, contrasted with the very CLEAR evidence that he is not, is massive evidence to the fact that he is a work of fiction embellished over thousands of years.

Think of this line of thought: Our people are just and true, loving and good. We are right about God, we are right about the way we live our life. (Clearly we are right...if we were wrong, we'd live some other way!) Those people over there are wrong, they are destroying our culture and threatening our very lives. God wants us to survive and thrive, therefore god must want us to triumph over those people. To triumph over them, to make sure their wicked way of life ceases to be, we must eradicate the lot of them. Except maybe for a few of the women - virgins all, because who wants old used-up women? - so the soldiers can get their groove on.

I'm being a little flippant, but this is the way things work. God didn't tell these people to rape, murder, enslave, and destroy...people rape, murder, enslave, and destroy and then justify to themselves, to the world, to the annals of history. I think it goes way beyond "faith" to decide that rape, slavery, genocide, and the outright murder of infants and children is okay because God Knows Best. Just because it happened thousands of years ago doesn't make it the tiniest bit less evil.

Another side note: "Such sparing of only virgins would serve to protect Israel from false worship and no doubt from sexually transmitted diseases." So how is it that murdering women, but not the virgin women, protects Israel from false worship? Sexually active women then were idolaters, but virgins weren't? Or maybe because the virgins were all kids, probably under 12, and so easily converted by the men who were raping them? It really doesn't sound so good when it's spelled out...

--- REASON ---
We are not children. Taken even in the context of an all-knowing omnipresent God, we are not children. By your religion, we were given free will, we ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That means we can tell right from wrong. If we are responsible enough for our own actions to burn in hell (or by your beliefs, cease to exist) for choosing wrong, or be rewarded eternally for choosing right, then we are quite responsible enough to judge for ourselves whether God is what his followers say he is. This god is not the god of love, he is a fairytale con artist-cum-mass murderer/sociopath.

I would be at all impressed with the god of the Old Testament if he'd done anything at all to actually improve life for the people of that time - brought peace, empowered women, forbidden slavery, improved medicine and/or farming significantly, etc etc. Instead he spent quite a lot of time telling these people to wipe those people out if they didn't take the "opportunity" to surrender and become slaves. This says to me that there is no god, never was a "God"...the men of the time believed things and wrote them down. PEOPLE covet, PEOPLE wage war, PEOPLE justify. There is nothing in history that needs a god to explain it.

--- SUMMARY ---
At the end of my last email, I asked, "you're too nice of a person to agree with a being who's into rape and infanticide. So what explanation do you have, among yourselves, for these apparent incongruities?" Your answer more or less boils down to two things:

- The people who were murdered down to the last infant deserved everything they got. They weren’t his "children" anyway.
- There are things in the bible that God did/commanded that sound evil, but really aren't when you consider what a great guy he is. The same book that tells us about His wroth also assures us that He is perfect.

I am a person, specifically a woman. I'm terrifically lucky to be alive at all, and more so in the time and place that I am. We here and now are better educated, better provisioned, better protected, and have more freedoms than any other women - any other PEOPLE - in the history of life on this planet. I am standing on the shoulders of thousands of generations of people whose lives were a misery...worthless, hopeless, joyless. I am grateful for those people who survived long enough to lead to me, and for the happenstance that places me in 21st century America. My life and the history leading up to it make perfect sense without a god, and especially without a god that claims to be love, and then is nothing but jealous, cryptic, misogynistic, brutal, etc etc etc. Understand, then, that I am not rejecting God. I reject Allah, Zeus, Poseiden, Mars, Ganesha, Jehovah, the tooth fairy, and Zombie Elvis all together, and for the exact same reasons.

I'm having these talks with you not so I can convert you, and certainly not so I can be converted, but because...well, one time I got into a discussion with a co-worker, a guy I respected very much. It turned out he was a Christian, and never swore. So I asked him why...the Bible doesn't specifically forbid swearing, just blasphemy. The explanation he gave was lucid, and while I didn't agree with it, I also respected that it made sense and was based on reason, considering he followed the Bible. What I'm looking for here is that same kind of lucidity...I've had these talks with a lot of people, but I've rarely if ever come across anything like that again. There's an awful lot of faith in the faith, so to speak, and not a lot of reason. I guess I'm just looking to see how much a person who believes in the Bible is truly consistent with themselves. Something like that.

Sparring with Jovies, part 2

Here's her reply, without the intro and goodbye:

Sorry it took me a couple of days to get back with you. I was doing some research. Here is some information related to regret as mentioned in the case of King Saul and the flood.

In the majority of cases where the Hebrew na•cham′ is used in the sense of “feeling regret,” the reference is to Jehovah God. Genesis 6:6, 7 states that “Jehovah felt regrets that he had made men in the earth, and he felt hurt at his heart,” their wickedness being so great that God determined he would wipe them off the surface of the ground by means of the global Flood. This cannot mean that God felt regret in the sense of having made a mistake in his work of creation, for “perfect is his activity.” (De 32:4, 5) Regret is the opposite of pleasurable satisfaction and rejoicing. Hence, it must be that God regretted that after he had created mankind, their conduct became so evil that he now found himself obliged (and justly so) to destroy all mankind with the exception of Noah and his family. For God ‘takes no delight in the death of the wicked.’—Eze 33:11.

M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopaedia comments: “God himself is said to repent [na•cham′, feel regret]; but this can only be understood of his altering his conduct towards his creatures, either in the bestowing of good or infliction of evil—which change in the divine conduct is founded on a change in his creatures; and thus, speaking after the manner of men, God is said to repent.” (1894, Vol. VIII, p. 1042) God’s righteous standards remain constant, stable, unchanging, free from fluctuation. (Mal 3:6; Jas 1:17) No circumstance can cause him to change his mind about these, to turn from them, or to abandon them. However, the attitude and reactions of his intelligent creatures toward those perfect standards and toward God’s application of them can be good or bad. If good, this is pleasing to God; if bad, it causes regret. Moreover, the creature’s attitude can change from good to bad or bad to good, and since God does not change his standards to accommodate them, his pleasure (and accompanying blessings) can accordingly change to regret (and accompanying discipline or punishment) or vice versa. His judgments and decisions, then, are totally free from caprice, fickleness, unreliability, or error; hence he is free from all erratic or eccentric conduct.—Eze 18:21-30; 33:7-20.

A potter may begin to make one type of vessel and then change to another style if the vessel is “spoiled by the potter’s hand.” (Jer 18:3, 4) By this example Jehovah illustrates, not that he is like a human potter in ‘spoiling by his hand,’ but rather, that he has divine authority over mankind, authority to adjust his dealings with them according to the way they respond or fail to respond to his righteousness and mercy. (Compare Isa 45:9; Ro 9:19-21.) He can thus “feel regret over the calamity that [he] had thought to execute” upon a nation, or “feel regret over the good that [he] said to [himself] to do for its good,” all depending upon the reaction of the nation to his prior dealings with it. (Jer 18:5-10) Thus, it is not that the Great Potter, Jehovah, errs, but rather, that the human “clay” undergoes a “metamorphosis” (change of form or composition) as to its heart condition, producing regret, or a change of feeling, on Jehovah’s part.

This is true of individuals as well as of nations, and the very fact that Jehovah God speaks of his ‘feeling regret’ over certain of his servants, such as King Saul, who turned away from righteousness, shows that God does not predestinate the future of such individuals. (See FOREKNOWLEDGE, FOREORDINATION.) God’s regret over Saul’s deviation does not mean that God’s choice of him as king had been erroneous and was to be regretted on that ground. God must rather have felt regret because Saul, as a free moral agent, had not made good use of the splendid privilege and opportunity God had afforded him, and because Saul’s change called for a change in God’s dealings with him.—1Sa 15:10, 11, 26.

The prophet Samuel, in declaring God’s adverse decision regarding Saul, stated that “the Excellency of Israel will not prove false, and He will not feel regrets, for He is not an earthling man so as to feel regrets.” (1Sa 15:28, 29) Earthling men frequently prove untrue to their word, fail to make good their promises, or do not live up to the terms of their agreements; being imperfect, they commit errors in judgment, causing them regret. This is never the case with God.—Ps 132:11; Isa 45:23, 24; 55:10, 11.

Here is some information related to 1 Samuel 15 and Deut 3:6 and Deut 20:16

Laws concerning assault and siege of cities. Jehovah instructed Israel as to military procedure in the conquest of Canaan. The seven nations of Canaan, named at Deuteronomy 7:1, 2, were to be exterminated, including women and children. Their cities were to be devoted to destruction. (De 20:15-17) According to Deuteronomy 20:10-15, other cities were first warned and terms of peace extended. If the city surrendered, the inhabitants were spared and put to forced labor. This opportunity to surrender, together with the assurance that their lives would be spared and their women would not be raped or molested, was an inducement to such cities to capitulate to Israel’s army, thus avoiding much bloodshed. If the city did not surrender, all males were killed. Killing the men removed danger of later revolt by the city. “The women and the little children” were spared. That “women” here no doubt means virgins is indicated by Deuteronomy 21:10-14, where prospective war brides are described as mourning for parents, not for husbands. Also, earlier, when Israel defeated Midian, it is specifically stated that only virgins were spared. Such sparing of only virgins would serve to protect Israel from false worship and no doubt from sexually transmitted diseases.

Many parents today do drastic things to protect their children from harm. The people of the nations were involved in dangerous practices that could influence God's people for the bad. They were given opportunities to change and be God's people.

I have found that the Bible's message pierced deep, revealing our true thinking and motives. Those who read it with a critical heart are often stumbled by the accounts that do not contain enough information to satisfy them. What I have done is made a careful study of the Bible with humility so I can see Jehovah in the context in which the Bible as a whole presents him.

I truly believe what Deuteronmy 32:5,6 says: The Rock, perfect is his activity, For all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; Righteous and upright is he. 5 They have acted ruinously on their own part; They are not his children, the defect is their own. A generation crooked and twisted!

Some may question the way you personally raise your children. But you as the parent know what is best for them, knowing them better than anyone. It's not that I have never has questions about the way Jehovah has handled things, but again I have looked at the Bible as a whole and been able to discern that really he is a God of love. The decisions he made were for protection and preservation of his children.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sparring with Jovies

I do believe I've mentioned the Jehovah's Witnesses I've been talking to on and off the past several weeks. They came by again the other day and we had another nice talk, but you know we don't exactly get anywhere. We're coming from such completely different places.

But I wanted to talk today about something I said to them then, and share my followup email. In our ramblings, I questioned the worshipping of a god who's into infanticide and rape, and they looked at me like I was crazy. So I cited the passage about God's command to a certain army to kill everyone, dash the infants on the rocks and take all the virgins for themselves. I didn't know the chapter and verse right then, but promised to look it up and send it. Here's what I sent:

This isn’t THE bible passage I was looking for, but it’s a good example:

1 Samuel 15
Here the Lord commands Saul “utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but (D)put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey,” and then rebukes Saul through Samuel for keeping the sheep. I like the last sentence too: “And the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel”. I’m sure that people bicker over “regret”, but I’m always stunned that an all-knowing God can make mistakes and regret them.

And another:
Deuteronomy 3:6, “And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city.” This God commanded.

And of course, god killed every living thing in the world (including children) with the flood, and on numerous other occasions through his commands to leaders (Gen 19, Deu 20:16, Hos 13:16, Exodus 12:29). And he’s okay with rape, too: In the cities that god "delivers into thine hands" you must kill all the males (including old men, boys, and babies) with "the edge of the sword .... But the women ... shalt thou take unto yourself. Deu 20:13

And here’s a site that’s great from my point of view…it points out the passages of the bible that are the most disturbing, confusing, contradictory, idiotic, etc. and lists them by bible book, and also categorizes them:

So there’s a few passages that tend to make people uncomfortable, to say the least. This god that most Americans believe in is not a nice guy, doesn’t make any sense, doesn’t seem realistic in the first place. I seriously doubt this is the kind of god YOU believe in…you’re too nice of a person to agree with a being who’s into rape and infanticide. So what explanation do you have, among yourselves, for these apparent incongruities?

I will be very, VERY interested in the answer.