Friday, April 29, 2005

Als das Kind Kind war

From 1 Corinthians:
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Christianity also tells us that we have to put away skepticism and trust like a little child. Stop questioning and just believe.

That's a typical style of pitch that a cult, or an advertisement for a worthless object or drug gives when there is no real evidence for its worth. Remember this ad?
If you're a skeptic, just trust me. It works. I don't know how, but it does.

Or this?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Please do not allow your initial skepticism to deprive you of certain financial success! This is your once in a lifetime opportunity!

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

We are like children compared to the Buddha. If we can have a child-like innocence, then it will be possible for us to give ourselves unstintingly to the teaching and the practice, holding onto the hand of the true Dhamma that will guide us.

Just believe, things can only get better,
just believe, your spirit gets so higher,
just believe, tomorrow can shine brighter,
all you got to do is just believe.

The idea is, if you "just believe," your wishes will come true. There's a certain occultness to that belief. That is, that believing in itself has magical properties. Remember Peter Pan? The passage where Tinker-Bell drank poison, and Barrie orders the children to believe in fairies to keep her from dying? What a sick bastard. Adults pull this kind of extortion on kids all the time. Their favorite is using Santa to get kids to behave. Does this work?

The seduction of this "just believe" stuff is great. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be a kid again, to have someone else be responsible for us completely? Maybe, maybe not. How wonderful was it, really, being a kid? Did these beliefs bring us joy, or terrors in the night? Or both? Can we go through it again, this time without the shattering of our beliefs? And would we really want to be that kid? Is it really that wonderful, all the time, to have to answer to someone else? Did we never long for independence?

There's a variation on the Corinthians bible verse from the movie "Wings of Desire" that reminds us that childhood may not have been so much about believing and trusting, as it was about questioning. Here's part of it:
When the child was a child,
It was the time for these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Is life under the sun not just a dream?
Is what I see and hear and smell
not just an illusion of a world before the world?
Given the facts of evil and people.
does evil really exist?
How can it be that I, who I am,
didn’t exist before I came to be,
and that, someday, I, who I am,
will no longer be who I am?

Thanks for listening, Diary.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dehumanizing Idealism

Dear Internet Diary,

I was recently the victim of Jean-Luc Godard, when I innocently popped in the DVD Alphaville, The Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution.

This kiss-kiss bang-bang Bladerunner world of Alphaville is controlled by a computer and a professor. E=MC^2 is posted everywhere. Hotel bibles are dictionaries. Logic is the religion of the state. Emotions are against the law, and punishable by death. The executions are part of water-ballets performed to the amusement of dignitaries and their families.

I made it about 3 quarters of the way through that nonsense. Sure, it was gorgeous cocktail-culture sets and costumes, but that's all I could stomach about the movie. The beauty of the scenery was extremely out of place, and perhaps unintentional. Beauty is illogical, and everything illogical is outlawed. This illustrates something that has been bothering me a lot lately.

Idealists, religious and non-religious alike, are always projecting their own beliefs upon materialistic realists. They say, "you don't beliieve in anything you can't see. But what about love? You can't see it but it exists all the same." These people see Alphaville in me. But they have it backwards. They believe that love and emotion are illogical, not me. As a materialist, I know that love and other emotions exist, because I perceive them. We know, physically, that emotions exist, as concepts in the brain and neurological reaction to stimuli. Through EEG, we know where they start, and what happens in the body when they do. And I know that love and other emotions sometimes seem illogical, but most of the time they are perfectly logical reactions to events in our lives. For example, the man in Alphaville who was executed for crying after his wife died.

So, the question is, why don't these idealists, why doesn't Jean-Luc Godard, believe in love? It is they who place emotion and humanity away from us in a supernatural realm where they essentially don't exist. That is their belief, not mine. They are the ones who believe that emotions and beauty are illogical, not me. They must not know anything about evolution when they make those kinds of claims about beauty. They cannot know, for instance, how completely necessary and inevitable beauty is in human life. Jean-Luc Godard must have known how beautiful his steel structures, those vinelike spiraling staircases that were so prominant in his movie, looked. I hope he struggled with that, at least, for a little while.

This kind of idealism is ultimately dehumanizing. Idealists attempt to take away earthly value and place it out of reach of humanity, declaring it ethereal and otherworldly and forbidden to touch. I say those values are here and now and ours, in the room with us. Movie directors who have it right in their own hands should know better.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Lost in the Holy Land

I'm sorry I don't have much of an entry today, but I'd like to offer a great article I read today about a woman who loses her religion in the "Holy Land." Good reading.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I'm Not a Sim

Dear Internet Diary,

I recently dusted off my old "Sims" game; the version where you move people around in an environment you create, give them jobs, maintain their health and relationships, and so on. It can be really addicting.

Playing the game reminds me of the nihilistic idea that we are all part of a computer simulation, and we don't realize that our reality is not the real thing. We are being experimented upon my an evil demon, aliens, or of course, God. Same thing. It's not very rare that, when I am having a discussion with someone new about religion or philosophy, I am assaulted by the words, "The Matrix." I have to fight to keep from completely shutting down at this point. It's not simply because The Matrix is just not a very good movie, and The Truman Show more concisely and more skillfully explains this concept, it's that I get the feeling that there are millions of guys out there who think The Matrix is a good and original basis for an entire philosophy.

It's not.

If there is no evidence that we are living in a simulated world, there is no point in even discussing the matter. In such a world, we have no way of knowing what reality is. We couldn't know what evidence was if we saw it. For that matter, we would not be justified in judging that the simulators'--or God's--reality was the real reality, and not a meta-simulation of a meta-simulation. We could never trust any perception. There would be no point in communicating, and no point in questioning one's perceptions anyway. Yet many do--and contradict themselves. They would not be able to say that reality is based on an evil demon objectivity, or that reality is subjective--yet they do.

The fact is that simulated worlds exist--in our imaginations. We are not subject to these simulations, we create them. It is a sort of idealism that takes our own concepts that exist in our brains and puts them in an imaginary world that is "more real" than ours. Is the grass greener? Are our lives too grey? I think that it's a lack of imagination and curiositythat is dissatisfied with reality; not the reverse. It can also be argued that it comes out of a desire to place the responsibiliy for one's actions in the hands of another and play the victim. It sounds a lot like Christianity, doesn't it?

But we'll talk more about this, diary.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Ten Anti-Commandments

Dear Internet Diary,

Since I just got through trashing the Ten Commandments, I thought it might be a good idea to replace them with something. Not that it's needed; after all, wherever you are, there are local and federal laws. Whoever you are, you possess an inherent moral sense--if you experience perception. None of it beams down through a magical process. Values are not supernatural.

I would have made up a set of Ten, or Nine, or Thirty-Five Suggestions (suggestions, because value-judgements are contextural), but my nice husband Francois has made a set of Anti-Commandments :
1. Don't accept claims without evidence.
2. Make art according to your rational value-judgments.
3. We give power to words when we make them taboo. Destroying the taboo destroys the power of its words.
4. Work whenever you want.
5. Judge your parents and act accordingly.
6. Defend yourself against the initiation of force.
7. Relationships should be guided by the consent, values and needs of the individuals, not religious institutions.
8. When your life is in danger, think about your life first.
9. Anyone should be permitted to tell untruths about other people's lives, as long as they do not commit fraud in so doing, simply because determining truth and untruth is the responsibility of each individual.
10. Emotions are not a standard of knowledge. Treat emotions as they are - guides to your internal states. Don't repress or give into them, but treat them like any other fact.

I will not be writing a set of my own commandments, because I don't think it's something anyone else needs. It's up to you to know your principles, and prioritize them. What I would like to say, though, is that values need not be lofty, marble gods. Valuing the material is valuing your life and the world. "It's the little things" sounds like a pithy phrase, but it rings true. Those that cannot appreciate the nuances of the world are devaluing the world and life itself. They have every right to do so, but they aren't going to get a second chance if they realize what they've missed. I like a the quote from Peter Falk in Wings of Desire:
Here, to smoke, have coffee. And if you do it together it's fantastic. Or to draw: you know, you take a pencil and you make a dark line, then you make a light line and together it's a good line. Or when your hands are cold, you rub them together, you see, that's good, that feels good! There's so many good things!

Hang that on the courthouse walls.

Thanks for listening, diary.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Thou Shalt Not Have Values

Dear Internet Diary,

The Tenth Commandment:
Thou Shalt Not Seethe a Kid in its Mother's Milk.

For some reason, Orthodox Jews (and Christians too), have seen fit to interpret this to mean "do not mix any meat of any kind with any milk of any kind." The word "mother" has been completely ignored in this interpretation; but why not? Mothers are supposed to be ignored. Except for in the Ten Commandments, anyway. But why not boil a young goat in the milk of a different goat, a yak, or a cow?

It's a good thing that these laws are so specific and clear, so that nobody would accidentally break them. After all, the penalty is hell.

The preferred commandment, since bacon-double cheeseburgers are so damned good, is
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.

Leave it to the scriptures to try and regulate emotions. "Do not want stuff." The bible doesn't even propose a path to the subjugation of desire, like Buddhism. It just says "don't." Considering the fact that Christianity tells us that we are all evil no matter what, we're fucked anyway.

So is coveting immoral? Even coveting something someone else has? It can't be about stealing, since there's already a commandment for that. It's just the process of liking something and desiring to have it. What is coveting if not having values? Values are things that we work to attain or keep. There is no value that we can have that is not material, as there is no value that exists outside our universe--unless that value is imaginary, therefore not worth valuing. The very values that many people judge to be values held by "good" people are values that Jesus tells us we cannot have: family and personal growth. Essentially, the bible, Exodus to the Gospels, outlaws all values but one imaginary one. Are these really the true Ten guidelines to living the Good Life? Is this the kind of religion you want to follow?

Anyway, thanks for listening to my rants about the Ten COmmandments, diary.

Friday, April 22, 2005

First is Best

Dear Internet Diary,

The Ninth Commandment:
The first of the first fruits of thy ground thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.

I'm not sure why God doesn't group his commandments in like categories. The ninth commandment is so much like the fourth. It would have been easier to remember that way.

Sacrificing stuff is a big deal in the bible, and so is "first." Firstborn son, Adam, first fruits, first love, first pubic hairs. But in reality, which is a big challenge for Christians, first stuff is rarely the best. There's a lot of anticipation, but when it comes down to it, the first never measures up to what you think it was going to be. Like your first homemade apple pie, your first lover, or your first child. That's probably why some people have so many children. They screwed up the first one, so they have another go at it. Like Adam and Eve, as the feminists say.

God still could have demanded the best of the harvest, or the child with the best hair, or something. Silly God.

The New and Improved Commandement:
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

This commandment, like "thou shalt not kill," remains the same in all the assorted versions of the Big Ten. Apparently though, it's much too complicated for Christians. That's why you will hear, from Christian Youth Pastors, Easter-Sunday drop-ins, and professional apologists alike, that the commandment says "Thou Shalt Not Lie." Which is deliciously ironic, for the professional apologists, don't you think?

But thanks for listening, diary.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Thou Shalt Not Steal

Dear Internet Diary,

The Eighth Commandment:

The fat of my feast shall not remain all night until the morning.

Well, if there's one thing Christians can do, and atheists, for that matter, is clear away the fat of the feast. I am not a biblical historian. I don't know what the Jews did with the offerings to Yahweh, but I confess, it kind of sounds like leaving cookies for Santa Claus. If you leave those out, Santa is supposed to eat them. If you, as a parent, leave the cookies 'til moring, the kids will be disillusioned, and their belief in your fairy-tale will be shattered.

If you know any better about this commandment, I invite your comments. I live to learn.

The New! and Improved! Commandment:
Thou Shalt not Steal.

As a general guideline, it is a good thought. It doesn't work as an absolute. It doesn't in the bible, either, which is surprising, considering how many christians insist that the Ten Commandments are absolute. The penalty for stealing an ox is five oxen. The penalty for stealing a sheep is four sheep. But if it's in the Code of Lipit-Ishtar, it must be true, right?

So how can stealing ever be good ? American law makes allowances for people whose lives are in danger. If it comes down to a can of orange-juice or death, the moral thing to do is to steal the orange juice. It would be nice if it were given willingly, but sometimes there's not enough time. Allowances must be made for self-defense.

You would think an all-knowing God would know that. But that's not what the commandment says. I guess it's too complicated to include issues of context in graven sound-bytes.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Beware the Yeast Among You

Dear Internet Diary,

The Seventh Commandment:
Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread.

So what is this obsession with yeast? What makes yeast so abhorrent to God? Surely, even if the People did not know that yeast was animals, God did. He made them, after all. But then God never understood anything about germs and viruses, preferring instead the idea that demons invade sick people. Do you suppose Noah brought 2 yeasts in a little bowl of warm sugar-water, with him on the ark? If Moses has to talk about them, surely Noah had to have something to do with it. Or Mrs. Noah.

Jesus said, in his ambiguous way he really likes, "
Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod."
This implied a hidden agenda. Yeast was mysterious even for Jesus. Slip a little into the mix, and watch the magic! Thanks to careful observation--science, we now know what Jesus/God and his followers didn't. Yeast reproduces in the mixture, when it is warm, and when there is enough moisture, and enough sugar for it to eat.

In First Corinthians, Paul said,
Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

Some say Paul was telling us to get rid of our own sins. More sinister, is the idea that we should cast out anyone near us that we deem "evil." One bad apple, as they say. Whatever it means, the evangelists are simply obsessed with--and a little afraid of--yeast.

Oh, and if you were wondering, the preferred commandment seven is
Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.

That's not very interesting. Just another commandment that everyone considers "good," but nobody bothers to make into a real law. A good thing, too. While many courts love to poke their ugly faces into our sex lives, heterosexual adultery remains a grand old tradition. Maybe that's one aspect of our lives we acknowledge that we should have some control over.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Nobody Can Do it Like God Can

Dear Internet Diary,

The Sixth Commandment:
Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, even of the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.

The Pentacost recalls God's revelation of the Torah to the Jewish people. For this festival, the Lord clearly commands, in his inerrant, absolute commandments, that we must bake two loaves of special bread and burn nine perfect one year-old lambs, a goat, a ram and a bull. Then you have to harvest the grain around your field and leave it there. When God became a man, he changed his unchanging mind, perhaps because he realized what a bitch it all was. At least, that's the excuse I'd give if I were a christian.

This is the commandment Christians prefer over the original one:
Thou shalt not kill.

This commandment remains the same whether it's Catholic, Hebrew, or Protestant, but remains a hotly contested and re-interpreted commandment. This is because we rather like our governments to kill us, we love wars, we like to defend ourselves, and we happen to be meat-eaters. We like to pretend that "thou shalt not kill" doesn't apply when it's legal. We don't like to think of the 377,000 + non-flood corpse people God personally killed in the bible. That's because when God does it , it's good. After all, it says "thou" shalt not kill.

Actually, the Ten Commandments verses are just about the only passages in the bible where "good" killing doesn't happen. It's like comic relief. Perhaps that's why we like to focus on it.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Honour Thy Father

Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother
Dear Internet Diary,

The Fifth Commandment:
Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Is it a moral absolute that we must always honor our parents? Upon observation, it looks ridiculous to me. In all my many years of experience working with children and schools, I have seen the worst attributes one can find in humanity among the parent-class. Somehow we have managed to give them a special place in society, as if being able to successfully carry a child to term makes one special. No, I'm not attacking all parents, but I have yet to understand the range of horrors afflicted upon children and the rest of us by parents--because they are parents. Successful reproduction might be a cause for congratulations, if it weren't usually accidental, but it sure isn't some kind of unwritten contract insinuated upon the child for the rest of the parents' lives.

The bible makes it clear that the fifth commandment is an absolute. Exodus says that if a child talks back to or hits his parents for any reason, he will be put to death. This is interesting, as Jesus Christ, God Himself, not only says we must hate our father and our mother in order to be worthy followers, but he bad-mouths The Queen of Heaven Herself in 2 John:
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

Yet Jesus claims, in John 15:10
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I HAVE KEPT MY FATHERS COMMANDMENTS, and abide in His love.

There are reasons to respect anyone in a family relationship, of course. Anyone wanting a happy life should know this. But why would a parent want their children to respect them only because of law, biblical or otherwise? That respect does not come freely but, figuratively (and literally, from more than one person I know) at gunpoint. That kind of respect cannot be trusted. And that kind of respect is most easily abused. It all follows, logically, right to the relationship we are supposed to have with our father--in heaven.

But thanks for listening, Diary.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

All Cows Must Remember the Sabbath, and Keep it Holy

Dear Internet Diary,

Commandment Four:
All the first born are mine.

Numbers 3:13 (God to Moses) says,
From the day I killed all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel of both men and animals. They are mine; I am the LORD.

Way to go, Jehovah.

When the mighty lord changed his mind, this became the fourth commandment:
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

You gotta do what the Lord did, and what the Lord did on the seventh day of creation was rest. Unless the Lord's idea of resting is creating all the rest of the giant universe that He forgot to mention in Genesis, it makes no sense that a god must rest after creating the universe. Not many gods had to rest. The Great Dragon from ancient China rested. Its daughter took over and made mankind. No, that's wrong. Actually, it died, and became the land. So I guess that's not technically resting.

I guess I shouldn't complain that Jehovah rested for only one day. After all, he's only human.

The penalty for working on the sabbath day in Colonial Times? In 1619, it was 3 shillings, two shillings less than the fine for celebrating Christmas. The penalty in the Absolute moral law? Death. Even those Kooky Kolonials who hanged "witches" used secular judgement on the bible. Curious. Another proof that the Ten Commandments are the basis for American Law, right?

But thanks for listening, Diary.

Name Magic

Dear Internet Diary,

Commandment Three:
The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep in the month when the ear is on the corn.

This is from Exodus 34, from the original Ten Commandments. Basically, it commands us, all of us, to have our Kosher Thanksgiving (The Feast of the Unleavened Bread, in the Month of Abib). And, of course, God doesn't change His mind. I cannot imagine why His Holy Finger would inscibe those words on the tablet, and then forget to put them on the next one.

The Third Commandment we generally bow down before and worship (Exodus 20) is thus:

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

This is clearly the origin of the American amendement one. The origin of this commandment is in the Occult. The Swedenborgian library says,
The [ancient] Jews were convinced of the power and holiness of certain names. The prophets, too, performed miracles in the sacred name of Jehovah. The Lord, when on earth, allowed His disciples to control demons and do works of healing in His name - thus proving its holiness.

The ancient Jews were probably influenced by other religions that made names significant, such as the ancient Egyptians. They believed that by simply uttering the name of a spirit could call it into existence. Indeed, the beginning of a magician's spell was "peret herou," meaning "That which comes forth at the voice." In Exodus 3, Moses said,
The Elohim of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And Elohim said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM (I will be what I will to be).

Moses the Egyptian knew that names had power. And as long as we judge words as "bad" or "good" and ban them from public utterance, the words will have great power. Goddamnit.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Zombie Fetishism

Eat...EAT the FLESH of CHRIST! Drrrrink...DRINK thee BLOOD! DRINK!

From The Stranger, April 15 (Savage Love):

Okay, speaking of weird and perverse head-trips: This will come as a shock to many of my readers but I'm Catholic--in a cultural sense, not an eat-the-wafer, say-the-rosary, burn-down- the-women's-health- center sense. I was so Catholic that I attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary North, a Catholic high school in Chicago for boys thinking about becoming priests. Along with my classmates I got to meet the pope in 1979 when he dropped by our school during his visit to Chicago. We gave him a soccer ball.

I would be lying if said I wasn't pleased to see John Paul II's papacy come to an end. On one of his other visits to the United States the pope condemned an "[American] culture that seeks to declare entire groups of human beings… to be outside the boundaries of legal protection." That's rich coming from the same man who ordered bishops in the United States to oppose civil rights laws that protect gays and lesbians (including hate-crime laws), leaving us "outside the boundaries of legal protection." In 2003 a Vatican screed condemned not only gay marriage but also adoptions by gay and lesbian couples. Allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children, the Vatican said, "would actually mean doing violence to these children." (Hmm. Violence against children… perhaps we should defer to the Catholic Church's expertise on that subject?) And two days before my boyfriend and I celebrated our 10th anniversary in February, the pope rose from his deathbed just long enough describe gay marriage as part of an "ideology of evil." Gee, J. P., you shouldn't have.

What's maddening about this pope's signature gay bashing is this: When the pope--the dead one, the next one, the one after that--says something stupid about homosexuality, straight Americans listen. The church's efforts have helped defeat gay rights bills, lead to the omission of gays from hate-crime statutes, and helped to pass anti-gay-marriage amendments. But when a pope says something stupid about heterosexuality, straight Americans go deaf. And this pope had plenty to say about heterosexual sex--no contraceptives, no premarital sex, no blowjobs, no jerkin' off, no divorce, no remarriage, no artificial insemination, no blowjobs, no three-ways, no swinging, no blowjobs, no anal. Did I mention no blowjobs? John Paul II had a longer list of "no's" for straights than he did for gays. But when he tried to meddle in the private lives of straights, the same people who deferred to his delicate sensibilities where my rights were concerned suddenly blew the old asshole off. Gay blowjobs are expendable, it seems; straight ones are sacred.

So forgive me if I can't get behind the orgy of cheap and easy piety that's greeted the death of this pope. Watching the talking twats on CNN pay their respects to this "universally beloved man of God" (how many of them have had premarital sex, I wonder?), to say nothing of the suddenly so reverent assholes on Fox News (Bill O'Reilly didn't have many nice things to say about the pope when he opposed the invasion of Iraq), is making me want to throw a bottle of lube through a stained-glass window.

Written by Dan Savage

Nothing in Heaven Above or Earth Beneath

Dear Internet Diary,

Commandment Two:
Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

This was the original commandment. When God changed His unchanging, immutable mind, he re-wrote it to sound much broader and more widely interpretable, as is much of His book:

You shall not make for yourself a graven image. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.

That's from the Exodus 20 version--the one Moses broke. Then there's the strict version, the one Protestants like. The Roman Catholics don't have this:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

So this is the version that is inscribed on many monuments and written on many laminated posters hanging in schools.The fact that people insist this commandment is an absolute moral, is ridiculous . Don't carve or etch anything. Nothing whatsoever. Stop! No! Read what it says. If it meant something else, it would have said it. This is immortalized as the Second Commandment. Period. No graven images. The end of the commandment is just as clear. If your grandfather or great-grandfather was an atheist and/or an anti-theist, you're screwed, period, end of story. Wonder why the government of the Christian Nation everyone is so dang proud of was so wicked as to not follow God's law and force us to pay for the crimes of our grand and great grandfathers? And when you've had four great-grandfathers, that could add up! After all, it's the basis of American law. And 1/10 the basis of all our morals.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

My Name is Jealous

It's called monotheism, but it looks like downsizing to me.

Dear Internet Diary,

Commandment One:
Thou shalt worship no other god (For the Lord is a jealous god).

My first thought is, how can an all-powerful, all-knowing god be jealous? Does it mean that the god is human, or does it mean that there are many other gods than him? American christians sure don't care.

This should be the first indication to lawmakers and political grandstanders that the imaginary document "Ten Commandments" is not the basis of American law. Compare to the first amendment to the constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Perhaps what they mean is that American law used the Ten Commandments as a basis in that it is the opposite of American liberties. It's not surprising that Americans might ignore or forget these facts. A recent poll shows American teenagers would prefer we do away with the first amendment, because it "goes too far." The pollsters did not ask teenagers if they thought they should make the First Comandment into law. Would America outlaw the worship of gods other than the Jewish one? If you're an American, you'd better hope they don't put it to a vote.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Manata Ja-Ja

Pressing the Antithesis

The Ten Commandments are NOT Moral Laws

Dear Internet Diary,


Could we come up with a set of morals to surpass the 'ten' commandments?

That would be easy, but there's a big problem that comes up right away. People think that the Ten Commandments means "thou shalt not kill, lie or steal." That's three, and one of them is not in there. The version of the ten commandments people like to refer to is not the pinnacle of morality. It's not even the only ten commandments in the bible.

The truth is, christians who claim the ten commandments are absolute and written by an absolutely unchanging God, throw out the commandments that are too inconvenient to follow, idealize the ones that shouldn't be followed in the first place, and re-write those that aren't quite right. If their God's morals were not the whims they actually are, Christians would never mic meat and milk. They would not work or drive cars on Saturday, or Sunday, whichever you please. They would not dream of admiring their Neighbor's Precious Moments Nativity Set, nor would they buy their own, as it is an illegal graven image of the baby Jesus. Actually, the pictures and stickers and light-up nightlights wouldn't be the only things that were sinful. Those Thomas Kincade paintings and Praying Hands would be out of the house, too. Rip those drawings off the refrigerator and spank your child, Steve and Debbie.

What of their precious Amway? Satan's company! Amway encourages distributors to put up magazine photos of things they would like to buy: vacations, cars, boats and breasts. It helps motivate the seller into believing they could actually make money.

Before you assume the Ten Commandments as an example of moral laws, try reading a random set of them. Once you get to commandment one, you should get the idea that they are not moral laws.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Another Category of Existence?

Dear Internet Diary,


Atheists lack belief in the supernatural, but what are the ideals of your atheist life? What is the meaning of existence to you?

First of all, atheists do not all lack belief in the supernatural, but I certainly do. Everything that exists is natural, and there is no other "category" of existence. There is no such realm as "outside" of existence. That's not sad and depressing. That's not a problem. All there is is enough for anybody.

"Idealism," philosophically, is the idea that there exists a realm where concepts are realized--they are actual objects. Of course, I do not have this belief. Ideas exist in the brain as combinations of neurons or psychological entities. I'm not sure that the questioner means ideals in this way. Taking this into context of life and meaning, I can only imagine he or she is thinking of beliefs about purpose of life, and perhaps values. That's because existence is not inherently meaningful. It is an absolute and irreducible. It simply is.

What is it that I think that might possibly make me sound less than completely difficult? I don't like to put words in people's mouths. So, here goes. What is the meaning of my life? What are my values and goals? What do I "believe" in? I exist because my parents had sex. The universe did not intend for me to be in it. But because I am here, I want to enjoy a rich variety of experiences, so that I feel that I have used the little time I had alive to the fullest. A part of me wants to tear through the world, and another part of me wants to make sure that I leave as little mess as possible. I'm just glad I'm here, and hope, that in the future, I will be able to teach others how to ask better questions. Oh, and it's not an "atheist life." It's a good life, in a godless world.

But thanks for listening, diary.

You Can't Take it Back

Dear Internet Diary,


When you realized that you were an atheist, did you feel relief, fear, happiness? What emotion, exactly?

Letting go of religion took me over a decade. But there was a moment where, even though I kind of knew, when I said to myself, "I am an atheist." I felt exhilarated and relieved, like when I leave really good roller-coaster ride. Why actually saying it caused these feelings, I'm not sure. I guess it was because, since I had been indoctrinated with these beliefs, I felt like if I said the words, that was it: I could never go back. If there were a God, and I said "I am an atheist," I would surely go to hell. If I said the phrase, I was taking a big risk that could be my doom.

Have you ever taken a big risk like that, one you knew was important? How did you feel afterwards? about yourself? The only other risk I took that felt that important to me was when I lept into my relationship with my now husband. It was deifnitely a risk. I already knew that he was very likely to be a serious person in my life. If I decided to love him, I would change my life drastically. It would probably mean leaving not only my home, and town, but the country I lived in. It was a giant leap that might screw me up big time, or it would be one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Luckily for me, it was the latter. I can laugh now, but I felt the same way about saying "I am an atheist." And how did these situations make me feel? Exhilarated. Relieved, and extremely proud. Both of these situations took a great deal of courage for me. They made me a better person. I recognized my intelligence, my skill at risk-assessment, and my ability to make judgements. And especially, my ability to be honest with myself and others. This is not the way I felt about myself when I was a Christian. I'm glad I grew out of it.

Thanks for listening, diary.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Did You Have a Bad Experience?

Dear Internet Diary,


Did you have a bad experience with your former church or religion that caused you to reject it and become an atheist?

This is a trick question. It's like asking, "When did you stop beating your wife?"

If one is an atheist, but was indoctrinated in a religion, there is little chance that something bad didn't happen. I mean, sure; whose Christian school-teacher didn't tell her that when God made people out of clay, He left some too long in the sun and "ruined" them, and that's where we get black people. The post-hoc assumption the theist desires to make is that the bad experience caused the atheism. The accusation in this is, "The atheist is only an atheist because he interpreted the bad actions of someone as Christianity itself. He/she is guilty of a logical fallacy."

Not that all atheists are logical.

What the Christian or Muslim or whoever is looking for is some kind of juicy gossip that might result in some love-bombing, Christian council, and maybe a good, down-on-your-knees, repentance session. The best possible answer is, "Why, yes! A Youth-Pastor/Priest molested me as a child." If that doesn't prove the truth of religion, I don't know what can! Luckily for the questioner, there are so many hundreds of thousands of these instances, their faith is safe. If a math teacher hurts you, does that make math untrue? If a baker yells at you, does that make cake any less delicious? If an astronaut clocks you, does that make the moon-landing fake?

Unfortunately for the questioner, there are other kinds of "bad experiences with religion." They're called the recognition of logical contradiction, moral and ethical problems, and "breaking the laws of nature." The Problem of Evil. The Argument from Non-Cognitivism. The most ethical priest, the most beautiful-sounding choir, and the tastiest church potluck Jell-O salads can't mask those bad experiences.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Honoring the Corpus

Dear Internet Diary,


My thoughts on religion have always been that it's a socially inflicted brainwash. most that go outside the boundaries of their society are ostricized to an extent. Therefore, people who go against religion are not as socially accepted as others (at least in the U.S.). Funerals, I believe, are socially inflicted gatherings. ... if you don't go to a funeral, you are usually labeled disrespectful. Personally, i hate funerals. After speaking with other people, they concluded my views were immature and that i would "get it" when i got older. that's offensive, especially when i just "don't get" why a funeral is so important.

Funerals are religious, but most services are not. They are like Christmas: they started out Pagan, the Christians and Jews tried to make everyone believe they started it all, and then the secular world, sensible as it is, made it into a food-centered event. Not a surprise, considering Catholics dress corpses like they would a Thanksgiving turkey. It's ghoulish. But, it's what they do. It has a little bit more of a party feel in Hispanic countries, where the party continues on well after the burial. There's no way they can hide the pagan ritual in that. When you have skeleton bands dancing around with devils, it's kind of hard to hide.

Last time I went to a funeral, I felt way out of place until the son started joking through the whole thing. Rather than being offensive to everyone, it was a big relief. We were doing the Catholic thing, and some of the family was still paying lip-service to it. We had to babysit the body from morning 'til cremation.

Not all of us feel a "duty" towards a corpse. Those that feel compelled to honor someone's memory should do so. My mother-in-law, I felt, was honoring something else. Not a memory or a corpse that hardly resembled her mother at all (it looked like a porceline doll, like the pope does). She was honoring a passage in her own life.

However, not everyone that is bullied or pressured into attending these things feels a need to honor anything about the person. I think its about as disrespectful to someone's memory you could possibly get to guilt someone (who doesn't feel that need) into filling a seat, to appease a sense etiquette. Perhaps it would be better for that person to place a sympathetic phone call to grieving family members. The meaning of that gesture is caring and honest, not superficial.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Just Another Rebellious Child

Dear Internet Diary,


Is it possible that your unbelief in God is actually an unwillingness to submit to Him?

They just couldn't ask this question honestly. What they're really asking is, "You are lying, and you aren't an atheist at all, just a rebellious child."

As this question comes from a Christian organization, I would have to be suicidal to not "submit to Him." What wacky sado-masochists with their submitting to this Jealous and Vengeful god. "He is so big, he is so powerful! Gosh! You just don't know what he is capable of! Better be smart and bow down before him in the hopes that it will please Him and he won't kill you! Come on! I'll show you! Just bend over like this, be sure to cover your face like this..."


Anyway, to answer the question, no. It is not possible that I believe in god. I have thought about it a great deal, and there is nowhere in my brain that I am harbouring a secret belief in this ridiculous Giant Wizard that likes to kill people by manipulating nature and the universe to do things that work fine without Divine Intervention. An earthquake is very good at destroying buidings, and has never needed a giant hand to get it going.

No, it is not possible that I will believe that this Judeo-Christian God exists. The scripture says that this God is all-good. It also says that this god will toy with some scary demon action-figures it made and cause them, at the "end of all things," to cruelly slaughter everyone on earth through disease, poisoning, burning, ripping apart, stabbing, and crushing. Then this God will call what he does to his toys "war," which is ridiculous, because we already know it could never be any kind of fair fight. He will take his toys and throw them in the fire like the crazy neighbor kid that blows up his GI Joes. Since I am intelligent enough to know that contradictions don't exist, I can say that I do not believe in this god, as well as positively avowing that I know for a fact it does not exist.

If that doesn't answer the question, there's nothing more to be done. But I'm sure I'll be answering it again and again.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Good New Days

Dear Internet Diary,

Were things really better "back then?" I guess it depends on which "then" one is talking about.

Were 50's families closer, with the eating of the dinners and the polite children and the dressing-up? I'm not sure. It didn't happen in my parents' families. They both raised themselves and their siblings. They didn't have the money that we always hear about . Nobody was coming back from any war. Neither of my grandmothers were stay-at-home moms: one had a diner, the other worked the farm. Both died young from diseases that would have been detected these days.

It has to depend on who you ask. Were the "old days" better for girls? Not likely. What about for people of color? For people with congenital illnesses?

Looking at the numbers, longevity, literacy, infant death, I'm feeling pretty good to be living now. I am at a point where I would be considered an old lady a hundred years ago. If you have a lot of babies and have to worl your tail off, I'm not surprised that women died around my age a hundred years ago. I'm at the point where it's just a pet peeve now, if I hear it on tv commercials, on message boards, in books. What's so good about the good old days? I know people feel a little wistful about farm life, but it's shoveling shit. I remember my grandparents' and great uncles' and aunts' farms. I never had to get up early and bundle hay and milk cows and shovel poop and cook breakfast for my brothers and sisters like my Mom, who lacks a right thumb due to a tractor accident. But a lot of people seem to think we would be better off if our lives were like that.

I love that I can see movies and tv shows from all over the world. I love that I can, in seconds, listen to any kind of music I want. I love that I can eat just about any kind of food that's being cooked in the world, just by going to my neighborhood grocery. I love that I can get a giant tv for a couple days work. I love that when I got sick last year, it took an hour to get my body filled with a friendly Quebecois' blood. I'm glad that I got immunized against a disease that killed my great-uncle when he was 12. I'm relieved that my father had cancer and is just as alive and funny as ever, composing music on his high-tech computer music system. I'm thrilled that someone from Oman listened to my atheist radio station yesterday, and I can talk to him live if I want, to find out how he liked it. I love that, at 38, I feel and look young, and don't have to feel like a failure that I don't have babies, and can walk out of the house alone without a male escort, and go sit in a restaurant and eat Portuguese food.

I like the Good New Days.

No, I'M a "True Christian!"

Dear Internet Diary,

From The Houstonian Online:

...a self-described "bible-believing preacher from Florida" has managed to cause disturbances at campuses across the country, and had sharp words for just about everyone present yesterday.

Bourgault, who has been escorted off campuses in the past by police, accused Sam Houston students of being "fornicators" and "masturbators," at one point unraveling a condom and waving it about as he spoke of AIDS.

"Brother Matt, are you saying that everyone in a frat is a filthy fornicating bum?" he asked himself. "No. Just most of them. Fifty-one percent or better. Ladies, if you are engaged in premarital sex, what does the bible call you? W-H-O-R-E. What does that spell? Whore!"

Students in the crowd initially brushed off Bourgault's claims by making jokes, however the mood quickly shifted as more people arrived and the situation became heated.

"This is not an accurate representation of Christianity," said Chi Alpha leader Kyle Volkmer.

"This man has not wept for this campus," he added.

Volkmer was among the most vocal of the protesters against Bourgault's message. He alternately read from a bible and refuted many of Bourgault's claims.

Other students broke into impromptu choruses of "Amazing Grace" and "Jesus Loves Me."

At one point, students, led by sophomore Eli Parker, formed a prayer circle (pictured left) in an attempt to drown out Bourgault.

"To everybody here, this is their new view of what Christianity is," said senior Duncan Chance. "This is not Christianity."

When asked why he and Bourgault had come to SHSU, James Bean replied simply, "To save souls."

The statement that most stands out in this article is "This is not Christianity." I can only imagine what terrible destruction Christainity could cause if Christians someday managed to acknowledge each others' Christianity! The mind reels.

But the funny thing is, this is precisely what Christianity is: a wacko in a public place shouting about fornicators. Any healthy college student should proudly proclaim his staus as a fornicator. But who was Jesus? One of the hundreds of Bourgalts on the dusty streets of Bibletown, shouting about fornicators.

These youth-group undergrads are covering their ears with their hands, singing "la la la la la," hoping no one notices the loud man reading from their own holy scripture. No amount of loud praying and praise songs can cover that up. Show some courage and honesty. Sure, you're all christians if you believe that Jesus was the son of god, was sanctified, was crucified, performed miracles, came back to life and flew up into the sky. But if you disagree with what he said, admit it and move on.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What Would it Take?

Dear Internet Diary,


What would it take for you to believe in God? There's so much evidence out there that you must ignore it because you don't want to believe.

This question is complex, and requires that I make a lot of assumptions about the mind of the person asking the question. The first part is, "What would it take to get you to believe in my god?" A lot of people ignore the fact that, since there is absolutely no coherent definition for a monotheistic god between religions and individuals, everyone has his or her own partial idea of what their god does. Hardly anyone who asks this question even has an inkling about what her god is. I'd have to challenge that inkling, of course.

But I will go ahead and assume that this person believes in a sort of Judeo-Christian God, because he or she didn't say "what would it take for you to believe in the gods?" That would have been a bit more interesting. I also assume this because if the person were thoughtful enough to be a pantheist, or even a Deist, he or she would have at least attempted to say something meaningful for me.

If this God created me and is omniscient, it knows exactly what it would take for me to believe in it. If it had intended for me to believe, I would believe. I don't know why this god would be so wishy-washy as to deal in the beliefs of people anyway. It would make more sense to deal in knowledge, but what does sense have to do with religion? I'd much rather know than believe. I hope that answers the latter portion of the question.

As far as the "look around you. Isn't it pretty? Therefore, God exists" argument, well, I am not convinced. When I look at the world, I see the results of natural processes. Using the Razor, it's easy to see that in a comparison between not breaking the laws of nature and ripping them to shreds, the former wins hands down. That includes things that seem magical, beautiful or awesome, and things that are evil, terrifying and tragic.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Monday, April 04, 2005

White Kryptonite

When the white smoke leaves the chimney, the special super-infallible Pope-Soul will be released from its prison of the corpse of John Paul II into some other figurehead. The next live Corpus is the subject of much sweating and gambling, but shouldn't be. The Man will know his place--to uphold the official policies of the Roman Catholic Church

There is a lot of well-wishing sending the body off to its place of storage. Lots of flowers and crying, and especially, lots of opinion polls. Newsweek asks,
Has Pope John Paul II set a good example on how to end a life with dignity?
About 82,000 people said yes, and I said no. For months, I've seen anything but dignity. What I saw was the Roman Catholic Church dressing, stuffing, propping, drugging and voice-boxing a very sick old man just until Easter was over.

Besides this supposed "dignified death" believed in by the majority, what I saw from my peers were hundreds of people claiming no religious affiliation or at the very least, lapsed Catholicism, pouring out love because "he was the only Pope I've ever known." Of course, they knew him as well as I know Arnold Schwartzennegger (although he's not the only muscle-and/or acting-oriented celebrity Governor I've ever known). I'm not mad at people trying to be kind. I just think they are incorrect and a bit delusional when so many of them say "he was a great leader who tried to make the world a better place." This is not true of a pope and a system that has opposed reproductive freedom therefore ensuring the continuation of a worse world for millions. And just as Jesus had every opportunity to condemn slavery in the Gospels, the Pope lost an opportunity to really do something about the truly emergent problems of corruption and sexual crimes in his organization.

I'm not holding my breath about it.

But thanks for listening, diary.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Utility of Atheism

Dear Internet Diary,

Read on a skeptic board:

Being an atheist conveys no utility in the utilitarianistic sense. You can't use "being an atheist" to unlock any puzzles or solve any mysteries. Simply put, it isn't good for anything; it cannot be used.

I'm no utilitarian, but I think this person is getting everything backwards. If everything that is true is useful, then by definition atheism must be useful. But that's besides the point. "Useful" is a kind of subjective term when you're a collectivist. It might be more useful to society to force women to have X number of babies. It might be useful in society to force people into certain mating pairs. It might be useful to promote hoaxes like Christianity in order to keep people in line.

It's really not the point of atheism to "be useful." It's not a worldview. There are atheistic worldviews, but atheism in itself is just not believing in any gods. Not that it isn't useful to reject unproven or outrageous claims. Here's another use: it's called self-accountability. I would argue that it's better to use critical thinking than magical thinking. Not that it's required in not believing in Gods. But this fellow who suggested this nonsense thinks that atheism is a religion. If it were, I would say that materialism as a religion is much more useful and constructive than most religions. If it were a religion, invariably it would be a reverence for reason, reality, science, The World, life, and freedom of thought. Much better than death and hatred of the self.

Unfortunately, it's not. Fortunately, atheists are free to have worldviews that are constructive.

Thanks for listening.

Je$u$ Sells!

Dear Internet Diary,

Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, Access Hollywood: the top story today is The Pope's last moments alive. Yesterday it was that poor lady who died 15 years ago. They prayed for God to resurrect her, but He didn't seem to care for people using a corpse to promote their anti-abortion/anti-gay agenda.

If you're at least 30 and you can get through one of these programs you'll notice something familiar: it's all about Christianity right now.

Back in the days of President Ronald Reagan, when it was "Morning in America," it was the same, tired old thing. Today we have "Joan of Arcadia," and soon "Revelations" soiling our none-too clean tv screens. I the eighties, it was "Highway to Heaven," "Father Murphy," "Aaron's Way," and "Amen." There's nothing new about obsession with demon possession and Apocalyptic themes. We never quite recovered from "The Exorcist" in the seventies.

When I was an emotional teen, I couldn't see any kind of a way out of the Christian Apocalyptic mania I saw around me in the eighties, when we raged about Falwell and The Moral Majority. We used to joke that "The Moral Majority is neither." They were a shrill, loud minority, skilled in being annoying. Just like today, the Media seemed to believe the lie.

Today, the Media seems to be hysterically swallowing the idea that the Nation has collectively been washed in the blood and has fallen out in the Holy Spirit. But that's not really true. Sure, most people are stupid and enjoy crappy anthology tv shows with angels wearing gauzy clothes. They don't want the news. They want to feel good. They simply are not interested enough to be marching christian soldiers. The real soldiers, unfortunately, know what they are doing and have the resources to do it.

Have the pod people have really taken over? Is the United States in the same situation Germany was in in the 30's, like I heard Richard Dawkins suggest? Americans don't seem to have a problem with Anne Coulter and her nazi fetish, suggesting Canada is lucky America doesn't "crush" them. I guess she thinks American soldiers should kill Canadian citizens and overthrow their government because, and I quote, "they speak French." Anne Coulter is definitely one who holds true Christian values. She might be an idiot, but she's less of an idiot than those who like her.

What I really think, even as n American citizen who has jumped ship, is that Anne Coulter is going to be yesterday's news real fast. Fox already has another Eva Braun wanna be to take her place. After all, Fox doesn't need more than one skeletal female decorating their studios, when there are so many fat pasty guys there. I am saying that Christianity is a fad that comes and goes. Right now it's cool to be a catholic, just like it was cool to be a mystic numerologist "jew" last year. It's just really, really annoying.

And that's why I post, and record, and make website after website after website. The world has heard enough Christian voices. I will not stop until the World Wide Web is so sick of me and all the other atheists out there, it tosses us out. You can be paranoid and say maybe it will. So I go back to Xeroxed fanzines. People will think I'm crazy, but I'll be shooting my mouth off 'till the bitter end. And I'll be in Canada, where that sort of thing is still legal.

Thanks for listening, diary.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Thank You, Jesus, for the Salmonella!

Dear Internet Diary,

From Christianity Today:

U.S. churches are facing more and more legal hurdles to holding potlucks.

In Minnesota, potlucks are exempt from food safety inspections only if food is not prepared in the kitchen. In Wisconsin, a church that holds more than 12 public food events a year may be required to obtain a restaurant license.

The Iowa Food Policy Council notes, "Annual and one-time events, like potlucks, can be particularly susceptible to becoming the source of an outbreak." The council lists four reasons: (1) food left at room temperature for too long; (2) inadequate food preparation; (3) inadequate food storage or heating; and (4) the presence of large numbers of people.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is aiming to cut the rate of food-borne disease by 50 percent by 2010, food-borne illnesses affected 76 million Americans in 2000. Most cases start in private homes, not at potlucks or restaurants. From 1990 to 1995, the CDC linked only 2,865 cases to churches, for an average of 477.5 cases per year. CDC spokeswoman Christine Pearson told CT, "Our recommendations for people would be the same regardless of whether they are at a church potluck, restaurant, [or] city picnic."

It seems that these churches are complaining over a 25 dollar a year fee to get their kitchens inspected. What's the big deal? Are they mad that church ladies have to take the 4-hour food handler course? Or are they mad because the bible doesn't say anything about germ theory? I can't help but be amused by these complaints about over-zealous government intrusion upon religion, when most of these people think that the Faith-Based Initiative is just wonderful. If they want to let the government into their churches, they're going to have to realize that it's not leaving after the ambrosia salad is served.

I have fond memories of church potlucks. Looking back it seems like the only aspect about church I can joke about with christians. It's that lime-jello with the Miracle Whip on top, the sliced bananas and the green grapes in suspended animation inside a whimsical Bundt-Cake mold. We know that church lady put a lot of love into that Jell-O Mold. And probably some coliform, too. Now that I think about it, I wasn't the only one in my family to suffer the consequences of those foil-covered tuna hot dishes. Perhaps if the churches want to keep their congregations coming, they should pay the damned 25 bucks and wear those plastic gloves!

Thanks for listening, diary.