Tag Archives: religion

Happy Holidays, Happy Life

Happy Holidays.  I was just given a brief lesson in bigotry, courtesy of one who shamed me and others for saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  And then, when challenged, realized the error and expanded to a grand total of two religions that were worthy of mention and suggested that instead of saying Happy Holidays, that it would acceptable to say Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.  Did I just Rip van Winkle but backwards in time, or did I just bump into someones who have the gift of time travel and were transported to the present from some more bigoted time in the past.  Or is it really that bigoted now?

Do  Christians really feel so insecure about their religion that if someone says, “Happy Holidays,” they are offended and wishing shame upon them?  Or did I just bump into two bad apples?  Do people think that referring to Holidays means that something is being celebrated “instead” of Christmas?  Is that what is going on?  People thinking that this is an either/or thing?  Or that all the colored light “belong” to one group or another?

Others truly believe that this has something to do with political correctness.

To anyone who finds the phrase Happy Holidays to be unacceptable or  inappropriate, maybe you can find your way to, instead of picking one and damning all the rest, celebrate them all.

Happy_Bodhi_DayI, myself, hereby declare that I am on permanent Holiday, starting today, Bodhi Day and the beginning of Hanukkah, through the Winter Solstice and a very special birthday, to Christmas, and rounding it all off with Kwanzaa for the remainder of the month and up through the New Year.

Unless the Mayans are right and we don’t make it past the Solstice.

There is a whole lot to be celebrating, to be joyful for, with, in and to.  And isn’t that the point?  If I need to squeeze it all in by the 21st, it’s gonna be a joyous 13 days.

Happy Holidays.  Including those of you who think I’m going to hell.  Peace.

Hitchens quote “Heaven intervenes,” from Gibney film

Chirstopher Hitchens and Blue by Annie Liebowitz

Hitch 'n Blue by Annie Liebowitz

I so wanted to go to Hitch’s memorial, and back in December knew that I would try to attend; but in my slackard way, didn’t notice as the date approached.

So thank you, Ms. Blue, for allowing this to be shared out to us, and to Vanity Fair for posting the marvelous readings and speeches from the service.  All who were there know better than I that anything we now say about him, anything of his that we read aloud, pales against hearing it directly from him.  But the mind is a wondrous place, where you can actually hear the person’s own voice as you silently read the printed word.  Marvelous, isn’t it?

I’ve transcribed a short piece from the memorial video of Hitch by Alex Gibney that I posted here this past weekend, and that Vanity Fair has posted.  There are so many Hitch gems in this video.  Here is a favorite (they all are, I confess), where Hitch, with his delicious wit, points out one of the improbable bases upon which the whole of the Judeo-Christian belief system is grounded.

At about 6 minutes in:

A hundred thousand years people have been, our species has been, around.  For the first ninety-seven, ninety-eight thousand of this, heaven watches with indifference. “Ooh, there they go again.”  They’ve all, that whole civilisation has just died out.  “Wha!  What are you gonna do?”  Three thousand years ago, at the most, it is decided that, “No, we’ve got to intervene now.”

You have to believe it.  You have to believe it.

“And the revelation must be personal.  Must appear . . .  So we’ll pick the most backward, the most barbaric, the most illiterate, the most superstitious, and the most savage people we can find, in the most stony area of the world.  We won’t appear to the Chinese, who can already read.”

And of course, there’s the part of the video at about 8 minutes in where he considers the practice of churches – clerics and lay-people alike – of going to visit the sick and dying in hospitals.  He asks whether it isn’t a bit unfair, these attempts at deathbed conversions, and points out that good taste prevents its happening in the reverse sense.   You know, where atheists show up at religious hospitals to call on persons who have but a few days of life and suggest to the ill one that he/she has been duped into serfdom.

Fuck.  Surviving Christopher Hitchens is a bitch.

 

Humans ‘being fruitful’ and abundant can’t mean obliterate the natural system

Humans 'being fruitful' and abundant can't mean obliterate the natural system

No species obliteration in The Garden of Eden. Since they are already wearing the fig leaves, I'm thinking that God is pointing at what his likeness should eat. Just sayin. But that's for another post; this one's about population and extinction.

Does it?  Can it?  Doesn’t “fruitful” sound to you more like living in a green, productive valley, where all of the natural systems flourish? Doesn’t it have to?  I’m not saying that humans can’t build their aqueducts (although I would highly recommend that they not be lined with lead or aluminum or polyethoxylated tallow amine) to bring in or store some extra water.  But if it inflicts significant damage to the ecosystems that depended upon the natural flowing water both up- and downstream, then I’m thinking we may have violated “fruitful”.

Because fruitful can be, as a matter of fact, quantified.  And in an unnatural system, we may have put more on the death side of the scale than we have added on the “life” side.  When we do that, we have added more humans than the system can support.  When you lose habitat for millions of creatures, plant and animal, for the sake of one species, we then lose the creatures;  and when we take away habitat and creatures at a mere fraction of the human numbers, then, well, you do the math.  But only if you want to know.

So, first start dying the animals and plants.  Only later, but inevitably, the human side starts flagging, too.  – The Hot Southern Girl

Scientists have written and will write about this. And although I be/am/is/are/was/were/been/being a geologist, as I’ve said before, I do not hold myself out as anything more than a remarkably bright, and hot, Southern Woman. Okay, unremarkably bright. And the hot? Well, with global warming and my sustainability schtick, and no tree over my house, I’m left with little to do about that one. Hot, I own.

All this yiping just to show you a couple of graphs.  Here’s a link to a graph on human population growth.  You’ll note that there are three projections.  While one might be tempted to get all jiggity with the lower projections, I’ve got news for you.  The correction that will cause that kind of trend reversal will be, shall we say, horrific for our progeny.

But forget about the projections for a moment.  And focus on the actuals.  In the last 200 years, the human population has more than multiplied six-fold.  Thinking that your wee-knee was fruitful?

Well, think again, nimrod, as you take a gander at this graph, which shows species extensions over the same time frame.  Here in the US of A, we had nearly eradicated the black and brown bear and the red wolf east of the Mississippi River and the American bison West of Mississippi before the curve starts its upswing.  “Up to 1870, 10 to 15 million bison had been living in the American West. Less then two decades later, about 100 animals remained.”  But you knew this.  If we use the species alive in 1800 as the baseline, we are “witnessing” an extinction rate, based on a conservative estimate, of 10,000 times the natural, or background, extinction rate.  I’m seeing the number 50,000 as the extinction multiplier that we are “witnessing”, but again, I’m not a scientist.  And need I remind you, just hot.

Witnessing.  Not hardly.  More accurately, causing, but as long as I am witnessing, can I get an “Amen”, brother, and ask you to revisit in your churches the notion of what “fruitful” or “abundant” means.

For even more numbers, here’s a World Clock on Poodwaddle.com, that might also give you a view into the human population/everything else extinction issue.

Religion is like a house guest

He, from http://hitchensdebates.blogspot.com

I would so like to run this thought past him to see what he thinks.  But he’s not here.  And you are.

It struck me as I was doing some end-of-year cleaning that my house was more-than-usually filthy.  And cluttered.  Shoes showed up from under the couch that have been MIA for months.  They showed up, yes.  But not in pairs.

Then off to the kitchen, I became fully conscious to the fact that I have devoted a corner of the kitchen for the function of yard implement staging:  a blower, a couple of hand hoes, two pairs of loppers still in their packaging (Hoarders, stay away from my house.  You can’t handle

Norman and the Misfit Shoes

the Mo), one-third of a box of  wild bird seed (it’s been sitting there since last Winter, I’m pretty sure), and – not really in the yard-implement category but close enough to find itself in that corner filing system – a set of trekking poles that I bought to help me with my bad back.  Not so much because they would really help that, but just that they might get me walking more.

I could go on, but I’ll extract us both from the litany of my chore discoveries and get to the point.

Some people can keep a clean house day in, day out, without being reminded, requested, cajoled.  They just do it.  Sometimes they even like it.  They recognize that keeping a clean and tidy home has intrinsic benefits.  Others may not take up the mantle of cleaning the home quite so frequently as that, but generally give it an adequate going-over every couple of weeks.  Again, without reminder, etc.,.

Then there are people like me.  Who always, or pretty near always, let something – laundry, dishes, vacuuming, going through mail, all of the above – get too far gone for the fix to be anything less than a major undertaking.

Unless.

Unless company is coming.  Then I turn into the human dirt devil and retrieve from the broom closet the otherwise stored “rags”, brooms, sweepers, furniture wax and even sand paper and linseed oil and put them to the use for which they were intended.

And it occurred to me during my cleaning spree, that religion is kinda like that house guest.  The guest stands as a wall, a certain-to-occur event, that motivates the right-thinking and -doing of house work.  The possibility of a house guest just isn’t enough.  To unleash the white tornado, there must be the I’ll be there at 7:00 certainty.

So, while for some, cleaning house is an activity that will be done whether or not one is expecting neighbors to drop in for a little holiday cheer, for others, an external nudge is a necessary part of the house-cleaning system.  Those who clean house without the threat of in-house entertainment are like those who find ethics and morality to be organically generated and not derived from or dependent upon the truth of religion.

And the ones who need to have that house guest on the way in order to clean house?  Well.  They’re like the other ones.  It does occur to me that I always say, “Please forgive the mess” when someone drops by.  Hm.

Cleanliness is next to godliness has a whole new meaning for me.

The Four Horsemen: wonderful conversation with Hitchens on faith

Via the wonders of YouTube and blue tooth technology, as I drove to and from my holiday family visit, I was able to listen to many wonderful Christopher Hitchens’ videos and audios over my radio.  One of the rare treats was a two-hour (in two parts) conversation among Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens. Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris, convened and recorded by The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

The following dialogue, which I particularly like, begins at about 15 minutes and is just a teaser for a marvelous experience with discourse:

  • DENNETT:  I don’t think many of them ever let themselves contemplate the question, which I think scientists ask themselves all the time, “What if I am wrong? What if I’m wrong?”  It’s just not part of their repertoire.
  • HITCHENS:  Would you mind if I disagree with you about that?  A lot of talk that makes religious people hard to, not hard to beat, but hard to argue with, is precisely that they ‘ll say that they’re in a permanent crisis of faith.  There is indeed a prayer, “Lord, I believe; help thou my own belief.”  Graham Greene says, the great thing about being a Catholic was that it was a challenge to his unbelief.   A lot of people live by keeping two sets of books. In fact, it’s my impression that a majority of the people I know who call themselves believers or people of faith do that all the time.  I wouldn’t say that it is schizophrenia; that would be rude.  They’re quite aware of the implausibility of what they say.  They don’t act on it when they go to the doctor or when they travel, or anything of this kind. But in some sense they couldn’t do without it.  They’re quite respectful of the idea of doubt.  In fact, they make, uh, they try and build it in when they can.
  • DAWKINS:  Well, that’s interesting then, and so when they are reciting the creed with its total, sort of apparent conviction.  Is this a kind of mantra which is forcing themselves to overcome doubt by saying, yes, I do believe, I do believe, I do believe.
  • HITCHENS: And of course, like their secular counterparts, they’re glad other people believe it. It’s an affirmation they wouldn’t want other people not to be making.
  • HARRIS:  Also, there’s this curious bootstrapping move  which I tried to point out in this recent On Faith piece, this idea that you start with the premise that belief without evidence is especially noble, this is the doctrine of faith,  this is the parable of Doubting Thomas.  So you start with that, and then you add this notion, which has come to me through various debates, that the fact that people can believe without evidence is itself a subtle form of evidence.  I mean, that we’re kind of wired, Francis Collins, you mentioned,  brings this up in his book, the fact that we have this intuition of god is itself some subtle form of evidence.  It has this kind of kindling phenomenon, where if once you say, it’s good to start without evidence, the fact that you can is itself a subtle form of evidence, and then the demand for any more evidence is itself a kind of corruption of the intellect or a temptation or something to be guarded against.  And you get a kind of perpetual motion machine of self-deception where you can get this thing up and running.
  • HITCHENS: Well, they like the idea that it can’t be demonstrated, because then there’d be nothing to be faithful about.  If everyone had seen the resurrection, and we all knew that we’d been saved by it, then we would be living in an unalterable system of belief, and it would have to be policed, and it would actually be, those of us who don’t believe in it, who are glad it’s not true, because we think it would be horrible, those who do believe it don’t want it to be absolutely proven so there can’t be any doubt about it, because then there’s no wrestling with the conscience, no dark nights of the soul.

But the entire two hours is a treasure of discussion and dialogue.  Enjoy.

And to you I say, Namaste.