Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Atheists Can Celebrate Christmas Too!

The following post was written by my friend Mark from Mark Bryan Is An Asshole. I thought it a fitting post for the holiday season. Enjoy, and don't forget to check out his blog.
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Hi, my name’s Mark and I’m and Atheist who celebrates Christmas. (Hi, Mark!) There is a lot of talking going on about how an Atheist should treat the holidays, it has been brought up on our group forum and in the headlines even "Christmas Season Sees US Atheists' Billboard Claiming Nativity A Myth"

The group claims the $20,000 billboard is “to raise awareness for the movement” and “designed to discourage existing vulnerable atheists, of going against their reason, to celebrate Christmas” They seriously spent the equivalent of one thousand Snuggies, in hopes of Atheists not celebrating Christmas? Good Luck. It’s going to take a lot more than a billboard to bring down the giant that is Christmas.

I know, I know. You don’t need to remind me that they are after the idea of celebrating Christ’s birth, but only a few real die hard Christians really revolve their holiday around the nativity scene anymore. Unless you‘re Ricky Bobby and baby Jesus is your favorite Jesus. People are more interested in giving and receiving this years hottest fad gifts. Case in point, I worked with a guy who would argue with me till he was blue in the face about my not believing in a God, when Christmas came around he mysteriously got a “cold” so he didn’t have to be in the live nativity scene his church hosted. He seemed just fine at work that day and I'm sure he was healthy on Christmas day, when it came time to open gifts and eat.

A few Excerpts of the discussion thread on our group forum.
“I have no problems celebrating Christmas at all. The whole holiday is just a complete fabrication anyhow and I always liked Christmas so I'm not stopping celebrating it just because Christians assign imaginary significance to it.“

“Christmas at this point has become so commercialized and almost secularized that it's not even about Jesus being born (which isn't historically accurate anyway). So I don't worry about it. These things are more like cultural norms than they are Christian events for the vast majority of the population.”

“We have holidays in our house because we're a family. Until there are more secular holidays to take their places, we'll celebrate the ones that are there in our own secular way. With our work and school schedules, we don't often get the chance to spend an entire day together.”

“I celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas and I see no hypocrisy in doing so. I consider it a shared cultural experience. We all know the stories associated with those holidays and like it or not, they are significant within the culture. Enjoying the traditions that were spurred by those stories doesn't mean we have to accept those stories as true (the original T-day is mythological too). I can enjoy Christmas - complete with manger scenes and traditional music (much better than those shitty pop Christmas songs) without believing the Christmas story in the same way I can enjoy great Cathedral architecture without buying into what's preached there. Indeed, I'm happy to participate in the shared cultural experience.”
My point is that people for the most part just don’t care about Christ’s birth Atheist or Christian. Christmas is really about gifts, childhood memories, food & family. Usually in that order. I for one never once celebrated a Christmas in a church service. December came around and I knew time to shape up cause Santa was going to bring me free stuff. I never have and never will associate Christmas with religion. I was thirteen when I finally asked what the baby was doing at the petting zoo under grandma’s Christmas tree. I celebrate Christmas this year in hopes of eating my families favorite foods, spending what time I have left with my family happy together, and pray that Justin Bieber’s book is waiting for me under the Christmas tree.
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Thank you Mark. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Home-School: Responding To Comments

There were a couple of comments left on my blog post about my life as a home-schooled child that I think need to be addressed. The comments came from anonymous posters (imagine that), so I have no way of contacting these people directly. Therefore, I shall do my best to demolish them in full view of my readers.

Anonymous said...
While I agree that there are many parents who have no business schooling their children, your premise is flawed.
http://suite101.com/content/homeschool-laws-for-north-carolina-a39919
November 23, 2010 6:15 PM

First of all, thank you for commenting. Now, the link that you provided did not in any way invalidate the premise of my argument. Perhaps I should have provided a link to the NC Department of Non-Public Education. I am rectifying that mistake now.

NCDNPE - Requirements, Reminders, and Recommendation

There is nothing in the rules of the NCDNPE that controls what I explained. I remember quite vividly my mother sitting down every now and then to make up my school records, grades, etc. I was required to take a CAT every year, which was administered by a family friend who would change the grades on sections of the test that we didn't do so well in. I was great at reading and sucked at math. When the results of the test came out, I was awesome on all levels of my education.

If you want to invalidate my argument, please come at me with something a little stronger than a list of vague regulations that are easily circumvented.
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I am going to take this comment in pieces so that it makes more sense.
Anonymous said...
I agree with most of what you're saying; I was also home schooled, not just for a year but for my entire k-12 education. My experiences, especially in my science and history education, were almost exactly like yours.
A horrifying time. At least I was lucky enough to make it back to public school for my 11th and 12th grade years. I am sorry to hear that you were stuck in that situation for your entire school life.
Even though home school kids are notorious for having poor social and science skills, don't they often outscore the publicly educated children on skills like reading and mathematics? Parents may not be the most effective teachers, but most of them are not outright neglectful of their children. Saying home schooling shouldn't exist is a little extreme, since that is based off of just your experience.
The children who do well in home-school would have done well in any setting. Children who are home-schooled already have parents who have an interest in their education for the most part. I would like to see how children that have parents who are concerned with there education score against home-schooled children. I can almost guarantee that the difference would be within the margin of error.
I guess my take on home schooling is this: I personally dislike it; I think it should be regulated by the same testing system our public schools have (if a parent neglects to teach their children, they lose the right to teach at home; just like if a parent abuses their kids they lose the right to keep them); but I also think that freedom of thought and religion is too important to compromise by forcing everyone who is too poor for the private schools to go through the public schools. If a parent thinks that a religious education is more important than a science education, I disagree, but I think that is one of the excesses that a free society needs to tolerate.
November 27, 2010 12:07 PM
Freedom of thought and religion is great. However if you are teaching children something that is false, then why do you get a pass because of a ridiculous belief in an invisible man in the sky? If I believe that the Lord Of The Rings trilogy is 100% true, do I have the right to teach my child only things that are said to be true in those books? Rubbish! I would be ostracized and would be forced to put my child in an accredited institution, and rightly so.

Home-schools are generally not used by poor families, just families with poor educations. So to say that just because a parent thinks a child should have a religious education, then who is supposed to administer that? Most religious people have no idea what their own “holy” books say.

Your statements sound more like a relativistic view on how society should operate. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but society is not all rainbows and butterflies. When you make it to a university or to the real world, a home-school education isn't going to help you in the least, that is unless you are going to become a preacher.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Home-School Survivor

One important part of my life, as with all humans (except those who are in some way mentally handicapped) is social interaction. I love being around people regardless of their belief structures, personalities, or political leanings. I would rather be around a group of people that I disagree with than to be alone. I haven't always been this way though. There was a pretty bleak period in my life when I was home-schooled and social interaction with new people (or anyone outside of my immediate family) was impossible. My parents were well-meaning, but were also stiflingly overprotective.

When I was in the 5th grade, I was taken out of the private Christian school that I attended because my parents could no longer afford the tuition. Instead of doing the right thing, the thing that would have been best for me, my parents decided to take my education into their own hands. It sounded like a great idea; not having to get up early, getting to go play when I got my work done early, getting to stay up late. These should also be reasons that parents wouldn't want their kids at home all of the time. That great feeling of freedom from a structured school system faded quickly however.

My parents are fairly smart people. My dad has a degree in agricultural science and my mom, while not having a degree, was smart when it came to English. However, my family was poor. My dad worked all of the time and my mom stayed at home to teach me, even though her own problems with depression usually lead to her lazing about the house, almost as if she were uninterested in my education. That may not have been what she felt, but that was my observation as a child. When my dad did have time to try to teach me math or science, he would get so frustrated and annoyed that I would just turn off my ears and not ask questions for fear of being yelled at. My parents were smart people, but they had no business teaching anyone anything, much less being in charge of someone else's entire education.

What made this experience so unbearable was the crushing loneliness. It was just me and my mom. My sister by this time had already left the house (I can't understand why she would rather leave than stay under the watchful eye of my parents) so there was no one for me to talk to, no one for me to play with, and no new people to meet. It is amazing how fast a person in that situation can retreat into their own mind. There were programs at the time for home-schooled children to meet each other and have some sort of interaction even though it usually revolved around some sort of church function. However, the laziness that I described earlier prohibited such activities. Again, sheer loneliness.

After about a year of home-school, I had successfully removed myself from the rest of the world. I fantasized all day about a life that wasn't mine. I had plenty of time to do this since no one was making sure I was keeping up with my work, which I wasn't. My parents were supposed to be in charge of my education; it wasn't supposed to have been left up to the 5th grader. What child would police themselves and make sure their work was up-to-date if there were no deadlines, no tests, and no teachers to answer to?

Not being content with having me at home all of the time, my school material had to come from a good Christian institution which for our geographical local happens to be Bob Jones University. Not only was I alone and poorly educated, the education I was getting was skewed so hard by religion that I could scarcely tell my biology book from the Bible. I liken it to receiving an education about lung disease from the Tobacco Institute.

Herein lies the problem with home-school. There is no regulation as to what you teach your child. When the libertarians stand up and scream about abolishing the Department of Education, what they are saying is they want to decide what their children are taught on a level that the vast majority of them do not have the education to understand. I am sure there are some smart libertarians out there, but the vast majority of people who had that much control over their child's' education would end up like I did: getting a great education of how the Bible has all of the answers and science is wrong, wrong, wrong! There are standards and regulations of the education system (not enough, in my opinion) for a reason. Overall, most of the information out there is solid science, minus textbooks from Texas and Louisiana of course.

The other problem with home-school is the lack of social interaction. I am sure that there are some die-hard parents out there who are members of organizations that let their socially inept kids meet up with each other on a weekly basis, but they are in the minority from my experience. There is an institution set up that allows kids to interact with each other now; and amazing system called “Public Education”. There are standards that the kids have to adhere to and regardless of how I feel about the testing system or the way money is divided amongst schools in the affluent areas and the inner-city schools they work pretty damned well.

The education options for people are not perfect; the public school system has it fair share of inadequacies and private schools have loose standards and have to be examined carefully when choosing , but the home-school system is one that is in such a poor state that it shouldn't exist. I think the vast majority of parents who home-school their kids have no business trying to train a dog, much less teach another human being about the world. Home-school is a bad idea and the injustices that are visited upon the children involved amount to child abuse. Giving your children no other option than to sit at home all day and maybe get some work done all while retreating into their own imagination is not only wrong, but immoral.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

But God Told Him To!

I don’t understand how people can square their belief that God was a burning bush, talked through a donkey, and commanded Abraham to kill his own son can turn around and not apply the same logic to modern-day crimes.

During the opening of the trial for Brian David Mitchell, the guy that kidnapped Amy Smart, the argument was made that Mr. Mitchell was insane because he claims that God told him to go do a load of insane things.
According to his attorney, Parker Douglas, Mitchell believed that God was giving him direct commands – and ordering him to give up his children for adoption, to take multiple wives and to take Smart, who was 14 at the time, as his wife.
Sounds like a story straight out of the Bible. Why would any Bible-believing Christian have a problem with someone following Gods directions?

Giant Jesus? Watch Out For Lightning

Great giant Jesus! No, seriously. The giant Jesus of Sweibodzin, Poland is complete. This monster is 52 meters tall! Just think if the talent and money had went towards something that wasn't stupid and gaudy. I don't think anyone informed the good people of Sweibodzin what happens when you build a giant Jesus though.

Like Father, Like Son

I think this video says more about Christians than I ever could. Enjoy Donnie Swaggart, son of Jimmy Swaggart.



Violence, homophobia, racism... sounds like Christianity to me!

Monday, November 15, 2010

MomLogic: Actually Something Logical

I thought this article I found on MomLogic was going to make me scream, bash my face against the pavement, and set my leg on fire. The title made me cringe in a very uncomfortable way. However, after reading it, it actually gave me a warm fuzzy.
...and I told her something I learned in therapy -- which is my church; the place I seek wisdom. I explained that good and bad exist in all of us. It's not either angels or demons. We choose who we are, we choose our lives and goodness comes to us not because we prayed for it, but because we shared it and reached out for it.
Bravo, godless child. It takes a lot of guts to say there is no god, even more so at the age of 11 (if only I had been so smart/brave at the age of 11). I think the mother did a good job on her part also. I think it is interesting that after years away from the church, the mothers gut reaction was “did I do something wrong?” Brainwashing at its best.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This Is The Tea Party

Sarah Palin is the gift that keeps on giving, kind of like herpes. She recently retweeted a tweet from one of her friends that said the following:
The entire post read: "The blood of Jesus against Obama History made November 2008 a Taliban Muslim illegally elected President USA: Hussein."
What? That doesn't even really make any sense, but I get the picture. I am less interested in this bat-shit crazy moron who thinks Obama is an al Qaeda operative than I am of the response of Palin.
"I've never purposefully 'favorited' any Tweet," she told ABC News. "I had to go back to my BlackBerry to even see if such a function was possible. I was traveling to Alaska that day ... it was an obvious accidental 'favoriting'."
Didn't know anything about being able to “favorite” another twitter-head? As much time as she spends on the damned software, you would think she would know about the “favorite” function. This is example 4289743 of Palin allying herself with the crazy and then denying it when it backfires on her. Oh well, she could just be a moron who doesn't know any better.

I Guess He Wants More Kids Around To Molest

It's the year 2010 and still people seem to care what the Pope has to say, at least that is how it is reported. During the Dark Lords' recent visit to Spain, he blessed the first stone of a disabled children's residence that will bear his name. I am not sure that I would want the name of the pope associated with children in any form. Anyway, the guy shows up and dumps some “holy” water on a rock that is going to be part of the building. Big deal. Here is what caught my eye:
"Therefore, it is indispensable that new technological developments in the field of medicine never be to the detriment of respect for human life and dignity, so that those who suffer physical illnesses or handicaps can always receive that love and attention required to make them feel valued as persons in their concrete needs," he said.
Respect for human life and dignity? That is rich coming from the evil head of an organization that was responsible for the Crusades, the Inquisition, the blind eye turned towards the Jews during World War II (and the endorsement of Hitler), the millions of people who have died in Africa because the Catholic church says condoms cause AIDS, and the rape of scores of children that has most recently came to light. How about their stance on women's rights? Spare me your righteous indignation at the idea that some fetuses are aborted because they are diseased.

I bang my head against the wall and ask the same questions that has been asked a million times before by a million different people: why does anyone give a shit about what the pope thinks about anything, especially when it comes to medicine and technology. If I want to know how to waste my time doing something unproductive while simultaneously convincing people to do things against their best interests, I will ask for the popes opinion and guidance.

Many of the children in the homes for the disabled could have been taken care of before they were born, especially in the case of severe disability. I understand that abortion is a hard decision and it may sound cold and heartless, but disabilities that are so severe that the person is not aware what is going on around them should be eliminated before birth. There are parents who would never think of aborting their disabled fetus, and while I think they are selfish, I also have a great deal of sympathy for them. I think they should be given all of the help in the world to raise their child. However, for the pope to have a voice on this issue is mind-boggling. What has the church done for these children, other than rape them continuously?

One bit of truth and some rather good news was stated in this piece.
"We know that the number of these people has declined mostly because a good number of them are eliminated before they are born," he said.
As it should be. Why should these children be allowed to suffer because of the selfish actions of their parents or because some weird old man in a pointy hat told them the lie that there is a god and he cares about their disable children?

Monday, November 8, 2010

I don't Think The Pope Is Welcome Anymore

Who doesn't love to watch the Pope, the infallible duke of douche, fall flat when he goes to pay a visit in another country? The dude with the giant hat recently visited Spain, to what was described as sparse crowds and a cool reception by the Prime Minister who pushed the legalization of gay marriage, if that is what you call not showing up to see the Pope.

What was awesome about this visit is the 100 or so gay couples that staged a protest where the pope would be driving through. Their protest? Making out with each other so that Darth Sidious could see them.

I like this kind of protest. Had I been there, I would have joined in.

When will the pope get the point. He didn't get it in the UK and he isn't getting it in Spain: Europe is becoming more secularized and modern. The pope represents the worst parts of our past. Perhaps every city in Europe should have giants signs with a picture of the baggy-eyed wonder with the title "Not Welcome Here."

Does anyone in any European country want a roommate?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Republicans And Libertarians: A Vote Against The People

Here in the US, today is the day to vote. It's pretty sad how many people actually end up voting. I won't be the one saying “this is the most important election of our lives”, which is the same thing said at every election. I think all elections are important and change the course of our country in their own way. What I will tell you is this: don't vote Republican or Libertarian. Make sure you vote progressive.

I tell you not to vote Republican because those guys have already had their chance. From 1994-2006, the Republican party had control of the government and nearly destroyed us all. We saw the ridiculous trial of a president for getting a blowjob, we saw Newt Gingrich try to legislate morality only to end up getting caught in an affair, we saw numerous 'family values - anti-gay' Republicans end up with their dicks inside of other men, the largest terrorist attack on US soil (as much as no one wants to admit it, the Republicans were in control when this happened), the near-collapse of the economy, two wars that are draining the country, an intelligence drought, the rise of the Christian right, etc. etc. etc. They shouldn't be allowed a seat at the table until they can either admit publicly that they only care about businesses and their own wallets or they change their ways and start giving a shit about regular people.

I tell you not to vote for Libertarians because they don't make any sense. I have been assured that all Libertarians want is a small government and personal freedom. But when you look at what bill of goods they are selling, it is nothing more than an anarchist platform. They want no regulations because the “market will correct itself.” In what fucking universe? The country was running awesome back in the early 20th century when we had no oversight of meat production, food production, drug production, labor rights, and economic activities. Take a look at that time period and tell me you want to see the day that we have another 'Great Depression', complete with bread lines and a massive homeless population. The areas in which I agree with Libertarians ends at personal freedom. Hell, I am not sure I would agree 100% with them even on that matter. What the Libertarians end up doing is schilling for big corporations so they can conduct their business with no oversight. If they end up destroying a nation of killing a few thousand people, so what? That would effect the people that aren't rich. 'Pick yourselves up by your bootstraps' they would say. Well, what happens when you don't have any bootstraps?

The bottom line is Republicans and Libertarians don't give a shit about people. They are all selfish children who only care about their money. So, if you want this country to descend further down the spiral, then vote Republican/Libertarian (because they are all essentially the same thing). However, if you actually care about what happens to this nation and the people in it, the VOTE PROGRESSIVE.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Crystal Cathedral Goes Bye-Bye

Oh! The Crystal Cathedral is filing for bankruptcy. What a sad day for America. The church is $55 million (!) dollars in debt. They have been forced to cut back on the number of channels that they transmit the “Hour of Power” from and have also had to sell off some land.

I want to know how a church gets that far in debt? I can imagine the pastor of the church wasn't working for peanuts, so I am sure that his salary was a large contributing factor. That coupled with the fact that churches produce nothing but diluted people, fear, homophobia, and racism.

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Update:
The poor-mouthing founder of the church has taken it upon himself to shake down the members of the congregation for more money.
“I need more help from you,” Schuller said, according to an account in the Orange County Register. "If you are a tither, become a double-tither. If you are not a tither, become a tither. This ministry has earned your trust. This ministry has earned your help."
He wants the people to bail him out because he has shitty money management abilities. The church is $50 million in debt and he wants to place it all on the sheep of the church. Who didn't see this coming?

On a side note, how ironic is this?
“We will be out of Chapter 11 once we have a repayment plan,” which could take a “few years” to carry out, she said. “This is a chapter. God will have the last word, and it will be good.”
So when the doors are shut on the church because they decided to not pay the vendors that they owe money and pay their mortgage, I guess the last word of god will be “Fail”.