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In the fine spirit of L. Ron Hubbard, the Pentecostals, and Aleister Crowley, I'm here today to start a new religion. Fortunately for everyone involved (all none of them), there are no silly initiations, hidden costs, or even tax loopholes. No, this is much more insidious.

Everyone Think.

Honestly, I think one of my biggest stumbling blocks to religion, among both those who discount it and those who practice it, is the branding of the Big G. Is there something out there? Maybe, but don't go slapping a crucifix logo or a six-pointed star logo or pentacle logo on it. Home-Brewed, For Personal Use Only.

People need divinity in a plain brown wraper. It'd keep them from having to smite the Joneses.

If everyone contemplated what they saw as the divine (capitalized or not) on a personal level, it wouldn't matter if the guy across the street did it a different way, as long as each person's version worked for them.

Not everyone needs something bigger than themselves to turn to; looking inwards, towards self-reliance, is just as valid.

From a conversation:
H: Turning to oneself--the centerpoint of my atheism-- made me arrogant and self-righteous and at times utterly unbearable to be around.
Me: Hey, I resemble that remark! ;-)
H: It was like faith out of tune. Sounded right to my ears, but everyone around me was cringing.
Me: What's that old line about dancing and insanity. . . ?

Nobody needs to prove that their god can beat up somebody else's god.

It's the same impossible approach I have to politics - delete the lazy intellectual shorthand of the formal parties, and make everyone reach for their own conclusions instead of blindly ascribing to a label that encompasses things inaccurately and incompletely.

Initially, people will probably feel lonely and isolated, "I don't have anyone else to share my faith with, or show me the way." But that will change. As people discover their own personal take on the divine, be it Buddy Christ, Foamy the Squirrel, or a small glow in the vicinity of their fourth rib, they will cherish how precise and perfect their discovery is for them. Church would be supplanted by get-togethers where people could talk about how their faith works for them, rather than being told how to do it, and that they'd be punished for doing it wrong.

Encourage somebody to craft something for themselves, and it will be more meaningful. Any boob with opposable thumbs and $68.75 can slap together something from IKEA. But there's pride in craftsmanship when make it yourself, and that can never be stripped away.

That's what's going to be weird about evanglizing - with nothing to market it, the idea needs to sell itself.

"I have the body of a God. Bacchus was a God, right?"
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digitaldiscipline: (rafepark)
[inspired by a question asked by [ profile] gavinsca]

Are the world's religious text all merely obsolete instruction manuals, mean to guide children through the forest but outtasked by the problems facing people today?

They're all overblown rationalizations for justifying entrenched power structures. Really, all anyone needs is a distillation of the golden rule:

Don't be an asshat.

I mean, really - you don't need parables, or gospel, or to make an exact copy of the Torah in long-grain rice. . . you just need not be a dick to the next guy. It covers all the Commandments, other than the one that has no bearing on Life In General, the paranoid mutterings of an insecure deity ["have no gods before me" - and, if you believe in the deity in question, not being an asshat to them means doing this anyways, wouldn't it?]

Antiasshatism means starting no holy wars, no persecution, none of the lovely stuff that we get from the established spiritual structures that are so hell-bent on telling each other to go fuck themselves.

Inconveniently, there's already something similar to Antiasshatism in circulation, and it's gotten a bad rap because the idea man went after the wrong kind of PR. . . "So long as it harm none, do as thou wilt."

"Don't be an asshat. Amen."
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In her column of September 29, Palace contributor Liz Pavek expressed her sentiments on the homosexual and a-religious thusly:

The atheists of the world are in need of a new name, they say.
I've never met any of these atheists. I suspect that these are some breed of ivory-tower asshole, common in academia, and bearing approximately as much resemblance to real people as I do to Britney Spears or the Pope.

Daniel Dennett, one of the leading lights of this group of believers in the negative
Hold it, Liz. If you want to proselytize [and, if I recall correctly, the directive to convert non-believers of any stripe, is a core tenet of Christianity, which I suspect may either color the objectivity of this argument, or at least makes for an interesting counterpoint], slagging an alternative viewpoint right off doesn't build a strong rhetorical foundation.

If you want a more objective view or phrase, I suggest "group of folks who'd like to see objective proof of Divinity, rather than using a reliance on faith (blind or otherwise)."

The term "atheist" is too negative, and should be replaced by something more positive
In this, I think Mr. Dennett has been gazing at his navel a bit too hard, and has moved his head too far astern. "Atheist" is a pleasingly neutral term - the only folks who get bent out of shape by its utterance are people who are rather fervent in their faith.

If you're secure in your belief system, someone who harbors doubts about it shouldn't ruffle your feathers nearly this egregiously. The squawking and denigration that ensues when someone dares to maintain a differing opinion seems, to this participant, to be more indicative of the frailty of that faith on the part of the believers, rather than any intellectual, spiritual, or other failing on the part of the cynic. Maybe I'm an abrasive grain of sand, but it's your paroxyms that accrete about it that make the pearl bigger.

-- something along the lines of term "gay," the word co-opted by the homosexuals in the West to describe their destructive, negative, and unattractive lifestyle.
"Hey, let's slap the queers, as long as we're going to denigrate everyone I don't agree with!" That will improve the ol' rhetoric.

I'm not sure what's so "negative" about being gay, or, nine million remodeling shows aside, what's destructive about it, either. I mean, other than the whole "abomination in the eyes of God" thing, but so is eating shellfish, I think. Maybe this is a broad intepretation of the whole "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's ass," commandment. At least it rules out that whole "Coveting thy neighbor's wife" thing, huh?

As far as being unattractive - I know a lot of fuck-ugly straight folks, too.

The term Dennett thinks will describe his fellow unbelievers and himself is "bright."
*wipes coffee off monitor* After an assertion like that, the -last- thing I'd call Mr. Dennett is "bright." Danny boy, you sound like a fucking idiot, trying to co-opt a perfectly serviceable term from normal use to push your agenda. Sorry, thanks for playing, you don't get to come back tomorrow, you don't even get a lousy copy of our home game.

But is it really descriptive of people who not only refuse to believe in a Creator, but refuse to look at any evidence that might lead to belief in such a Creator?
When "evidence" consists of the testimonials of faith that established practitioners recount, then, no, that's really not worth looking at. I'm amused by the bumper stickers that read "Jesus, save me from your followers," because, on the off chance that you, as Christians are -right,- a lot of you are being real assholes about it without any substantial evidence to back you up.

The burden of proof is solidly with those who assert a thing to be true. "I've got a million dollars" (show me the bank statement). "My wife is a Playboy model" (whip out the issue). "God created the universe" (did he keep the receipts for materials?) There's no way to prove that, is there? There are some pretty strong scientific theories that go a long way towards explaining where the universe came from, and they're subjected to rigorous peer review and objective testing, but faith. . . ahh, that's a personal belief, subjective in the extreme. You'll have to pardon my skepticism that your faith, whether it works for you or not, will stand up in the cold light of day for -everyone-.

"Those of us who subscribe to no religion; those of us who rejoice in the real and scorn the false comfort of the unreal, we need a word of our own, a word like 'gay'," says Richard Dawkins, another "bright" light of atheism.
Apparently, Mr. Dawkins needs to get out of his office more often. I would strongly recommend a weekend spent playing video games, consuming mind-altering substances, and enjoying the company of a professional escort - there's some damn fine enjoyment to be had when you're not hell-bent on being an obsteporous dork. We don't need a word any more than Michael Jordan needs another pair of sneakers.

A simple lack of animosity from folks like Ms. Pavek is plenty good, thanks.

Atheists, by their own choice, are believers in a negative.
Note the word "choice." I'd be interested in seeing the statistics of how many people choose to eschew religion after being raised with it compared to those who choose to pursue it after being raised without. I'd quibble with the semantics of Christians' belief in something that doesn't exist [vis a vis, the proof of God's existence] as being essentially the same thing.

Maybe I should pursue an agenda of militant agnosticism - "I don't know if God exists, and neither do you." Nahhh, that's proseltyzing, and that's too much like work.

[to be continued]
digitaldiscipline: (rafepark)
Holy bleeding fuck, people.

Humility, Fasting, and Prayer, Oh My!

[not to be confused, one presumes, with Lions, Tigers, or Ursine Mammals (which may or may not defecate in federally-protected woodland areas)]

Jumping the gun is a fine and aerobic tradition, much like the faked orgasm. I've gotten pretty good at the former and am not at all adept at the latter. (*Fweet!* Ten yards, roughing the listener! Repeat second down." Sorry about that.)

But some seriously double-clutched gun jumping was in order as I perused this Salon niblet.

The process goes something like this:

* Rev up to napalm the idea of national prayer, citing idealized secularization of government, separation of church and state, and the whole "My Ghod can beat up your Ghod" flavor that casts on the war.
* Ease back when the cited Democrats express similar concerns.
* Resume annoyance and bafflement at the 7-to-1 ratio the resolution was passed by yesterday

The resolution, passed 346-49, says Americans should use the day of prayer "to seek guidance from God to achieve a greater understanding of our own failings and to learn how we can do better in our everyday activities, and to gain resolve in meeting the challenges that confront our nation."

First and foremost, I'm prone to stubborn refusal when anyone, especially the government, tells me I "should" do anything. When that particular something is an activity I find baffling at best and offensive at worst, well. . . I think we can all see how likely my participation is going to be. Ain't freedom grand?

I'm wondering, in my own particular fashion, which God Congress recommends praying to? I'd be far more likely to cast some warm, supplicating thoughts towards Bacchus or Aphrodite than the Judeo-Christian deity I suspect they've got in mind. What about Allah? He's a God, right?

I have my doubts that Cthulhu or Nyarlathotep are on the "approved" list. [Remember, kids - Cthulhu Saves! (He might be hungry later.)]

I mean, it's not like we have an RDA for devotion or anything. Are we talking a good, hard, fifteen minutes (an hour after eating - don't want to cramp up!)? Should we take a serene, all-afternoon introspective spiritual jaunt?

My more cynical side wants to take a practical view of things - isn't someone weakened by fasting, distracted by hunger, and penitent in supplication easier to do away with? Perhaps we should suggest our foes in Iraq engage in a national day of prayer, humility, and fasting . . . the better to eat them with.
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[crosspostd from [ profile] elixxir's LJ]

I forget where I read this, but it sums up my thoughts pretty well.

"I hope the universe is random, because I can cope with the idea that all this shit happens by chance, and I haven't done anything to deserve all this bad stuff."

I don't believe what goes around comes around. I don't think there's a higher power calling the shots.

I believe that honesty, integrity, and some hard work (and maybe a bit of luck, which is also something of a DIY commodity) will reward you with success.

I believe that being selfish isn't immoral, it's imperative - if you don't look out for you, who else is going to? I believe in me first, you second. I believe my senses, not some oft-revised book a couple thousand years old. I believe empirical proof, but am open to wonder.

And I think W.C. Fields was THE MAN when he said, "Everyone should believe something. I believe I'll have another drink."
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