“Assignments” aren’t just something you get in school:

My wife and I are in regular contact with some friends who consider themselves to be “independent Baptist”.  There’s quite a lot of emphasis on “soul-winning”, and being “ambassadors for Christ”, and suchlike (IE: pretty much what you’d expect).

The other thing (which I at first found bizarre, but have finally started to understand) is their notion that the vast majority of those who “believe” themselves to be Christians really aren’t anything of the sort.

I’ve heard this particular notion expressed (in a variety of different formulations) by members of other denominations, over the years.   What it boils down to, in essense — is this:

YOU might (mistakenly) think that your religion is about what YOU “believe”.

In reality, your religious affiliation is assigned to you, by others — with absolutely no reference to your internal mental processes (“beliefs”) WHATSOEVER.

Thus — you are “assigned” a religious “identity” (which can be reliably predicted by means of mere geography — whether you actually “believe” the various truth-claims put forward by that dogma.   (This is how demographers can get away with insipid claims about “religious population growth” predicated on the “breeding” habits of specific demographic segments.   Those who happen to have been born into a given “demographic”/geographical area, are “assigned” a religious “identity”, merely on the basis of a LITERAL ACCIDENT OF BIRTH.

(In other words: if I had been “born to” Mennonite parents, those involved with the pseudoscience of “religious demography” would “assign” me as Mennonite — with no regard to my “beliefs”, whatever.

The above travesty would be bad enough.

Where it gets horrifying is: even if you explicitly “BELIEVE”/practice a given religion – your actual beliefs/practices are IRRELEVANT to (some) others, and will be blithely dismissed out of hand — if/when they find doing so to be EXPEDIENT.

In other words: your religion (if any) is NOT about your “beliefs” (if any).

Nor is it about your practices (if any).

In REALITY, your religion (or lack thereof) MERELY boils down to: yet another externally-imposed “identity”, which can be foisted on you WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT — and REVOKED just as easily.

I can’t help butt find that increasingly horrifying, the more I examine it.

 

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Post-9/11 America: why didn’t anybody give a shit back in the day?

I used to listen to a lot of Short-wave radio — especially back in the ’90s.  (I “still” listen to short-wave radio — but that’s a different topic.) 🙂

Anyway, one of the things I remember most from “back in the day” was the complete overabundance of crazy-ass Fundie Christian cultist weirdos.   This is why I have never been able to take the hysteria about what happened to the “Branch Davidians” seriously.

Several reasons:

  1. Yes, it is entirely possible for religious groups to have fucked-up doctrines.  I see nothing (in principle) preventing a self-styled “minister”/”prophet” from hoodwinking a bunch of  gullible people into allowing him to create his own personal harem.
  2. Nor is it particularly hard for me to understand that yes, some people are genuinely convinced that they need to be heavily armed, in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon.

So, when the U.S. Government bungled their attempted “siege”, and a bunch of cultists ended up dead, that didn’t really surprise me in the least.

let’s be honest, folks: Jim Jones (The “Peoples’ Temple” guy) positioned himself as a preacher/cult-leader, too.

So it was really disgusting to hear “Conspiracy theoriest” types on Short-wave (self-styled “patriots”, no less!) — uncritically painting the Branch Davidians as some sort of wonderful, sinless utopina comunie — merely because they happened to be a “church”, and/or consider themselves to be “Christians”.

I honestly cannot wrap my mind around the sort of mentality which would actually believe that all “Christian” groups/organizations/cults etc. are wonderful, merely on the basis that they self-identify with Christianity.

I have no difficulty in recognizing the fact that (giving “religion” the benefit of the doubt) — “Religion” serves as a damn-near foolproof “cover” for just about any sort of atrocity you could ever dream up.

So, yeah: the most you can say about the Waco thing was: the Government’s attempts to “defuse” the situation failed miserably, resulting in mass death, and subsequent “blowback” (in the form of the “Militia” movement of the 1990s).

My question is:

Post-9/11, it seemed like everyone was in a pants-shitting tantrum about “Islamic” terrorism, and various foreign terrorist groups.

Why does nobody seem to give any thought to “Christian” terrorist groups?  

Sadly, my theory is: “Christianity” gets a free pass.  Most people are implicitly “warm and fuzzy”  about Christianity in a way that they aren’t about other religions.  Probably this has to do with the fact that most people implicitly “smuggle in” the notion that every other version of “Christianity” is  at least broadly similar to their favorite (idealized) version.

This is, of course, utter bullshit.

 

 

My wife attempted to “brag” on me, tonight

We were at an event the nature of which is not particularly important in this context.

Anyway, she starts doing what she insists on doing — lamenting the fact that I haven’t played music, nor experienced any interest in doing so, since the fiasco back in 2013.

Several reasons:

  1. Truth be told, I hadn’t really “enjoyed” doing so for several years prior to when we finally moved here (2010).  Specifically: performance (doing “gigs”) had become progressively more grating over time.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’ve never been particularly “social”  (boring on social phobia, as time goes on), or maybe it has to do with the fact that the music group with whom I was involved for the preceding 20 years had turned into a total fiasco of endless, bullshit drama.
  2. After the fiasco in 2013 (when I discontinued contact with my “blood” relatives), everything else from “back in the day” became shitty and unappealing, as well.

Specifically, the fact that I had been used as a fucking human interest story by my so-called “mother” back during my teens — specifically by way of the music, itself.

Add to this, the fact that the guys from the music group (whom I had considered to be my “best friends” back in the day) had not only known NOTHING about the shitty abusive “family” situation (which culminated  in a psychotic heroin-addict attempting violence against me IN MY OWN MOTHER’S DRIVEWAY), they wouldn’t have given a shit about it if they HAD known.

Think about that: my “closest friends” knew nothing about me — other than the fact that I could be “milked” as needed, if/when they required a relatively-competent guitar/banjo/mandolin person.

Quite frankly, something “snapped” post-2013, and has never returned.

I can’t really explain it.  The only thing I know is that the last several times I attempted to play guitar/mandolin/banjo etc. — the whole experience was viscerally unappealing, and emotionally “dead” in a way I never used to experience “back in the day”.

And now, she has to go and “brag” on me about something which — in retrospect — I can’t help but find at least somewhat embarrassing.

I really wish she would stop doing that.  If — IF — I want anyone to know, I would TELL THEM MYSELF.  IF I had any interest in getting back “into” that….I would do so.

I’m just entirely sure what changed in 2013 — but whatever it appears to have been rather fundamental.

Not only do I  NOT derive any enjoyment from “playing music” — even thinking back on how much I USED TO “enjoy” doing so is…..embarrassing?  Distasteful?  Incomprehensible?

There are times when I genuinely wish I would never have bought that guitar, back at that yard-sale.

 

“Unitarian Universalism”: utterly inane

Probably the “best” explanation of Unitarian Universalism I have ever found:

Unitarian Universalism is a religious organization that tries to support whatever spiritual/religious path you choose to embark on. It’s no longer a Christian group (although there are some Unitarian Universalists who do consider themselves Christian) as many congregations may not place any more value on Christ or the Christian Bible than any other religious figure or book, and it sees all religions, and their corresponding sacred scriptures, as being equal in worth. Unitarian Universalist ministers will typically give you spiritual education regarding different religions to help you make your decision. There are, however, Unitarian Universalists who do not believe in God as God is traditionally conceived, and even doubt his or her existence, so you may feel at home there. In fact, a new splinter group, the American Unitarian Conference was apparently formed in response to growing numbers of atheists and secular humanists in the UUA.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=367649

 

Quick question:

What do you get when you take religion, and then rip out everything which makes it distinctly “religious”, such as:

  1. Obsessive (and exclusive) “reverence” for a specific “sacred” text
  2. Unthinking, reflexive obedience to clergy
  3. Relentless prosyletizing
  4. Punishing “heretics” (whether by wholesale slaughter, or simple emotional blackmail)
  5. The systematic indoctrination of children
  6. The threat of eternal torment

Well, you get “Unitarian Universalism”, that’s what!

Quite frankly, I have no idea what the “appeal” of this is supposed to be:

  1. I am fully capable of finding value (or extreme disvalue) in specific texts, on my own.  I realize that many (most?) Christians are incapable of committing the “thoughtcrime” inherent in (say) reading the Tao Te Ching, Quran, Rig Veda etc. — let alone listening to (for example) the “Jewish counter-apologetics” put out bypeople like Michael Skobac, Tovia Singer etc. (for fear of being “tempted” to stray from their “faith”)…..but that is their failing.   No amount of “liberal” religion/”Open-mindedness” is ever going to “ween” those who have already succumbed to “Fundie” weirdness.
  2. UUism prides itself on the “diversity” of its members’ “beliefs” — so much so that they appear to be unable to actually discuss of evaluate those “beliefs” among one another for fear of being “offensive”:

A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology.

Laurel Mendes explained that religious doctrine had been duly scrubbed from the hymns in the congregation’s Sunday program.

But Mendes, a neo-pagan lay member who led the service, feared that a reference to God in “Once to Every Soul and Nation” might upset the humanists in the pews.

“I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable by reciting something that might be considered a profession of faith,” said Mendes, 52, after the service. “We did say ‘God,’ which you don’t often hear in our most politically correct hymns.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/29/unitarian-universalists_n_887267.html

In other words: UUism is too damnably gutless and lacking in “content” to ever lead to substantive “dialog” among it’s own members.

I “Get it”: some people become dissatisfied with the particular ethnoreligious “identity” perpetrated on them during childhood.

There are several alternative courses of action open to individuals in that situation:

  1. Figure out your religious “beliefs” (if any) on your own, via an autodidactic search.  (the resources are available) — while keeping it to yourself.   It IS possible to continue participating in a given religious “community” without “agreeing” 100% with their (current) dogma, or shoving your dissent in their faces as a matter of routine.
  2. If that isn’t possible, you can always “Convert” to a different Denomination within your current religious tradition, or even a different religion entirely.  (I realize this take more effort, and carries a fairly substantive risk of “emotional blackmail” from those “closest” to you — but, as I’ve said other places in this blog, the value of any given “relationship” is inversely proportional to the amount of dishonesty required to sustain that “relationship”.  So, THEY can either “get over it”, or STFU, quite frankly.
  3. If NO other religion is persuasive/helpful?  Apatheism/Deism/Atheism etc.

At NO point is there any place for the notion of “Hey, I know!  Let’s create a parody religion with no particular content — dogma/”Sacred” texts/metaphysical pretensions etc. — where “refugees” from other religious traditions can get together regularly, to lie to one another via omission!

What exactly is the point of an organization where Christians/Muslims/Jews/Wicca/Agnostics/Atheists can get together, for the specific purpose of not discussing/evaluating their disparate “beliefs”?

This strikes me as the “religious” equivalent of a methadone clinic: you can’t quite manage to go “cold turkey” – so you switch to something with less severe side-effects, while leaving the underlying “addiction” intact.

I mean, seriously:  let’s assume an Ex-Fundie Protestant Christian and a non-Kashrut Jew happen to both be “members” of a UU congregation.   How is that useful?  Neither of them are particularly enthusiastic/obsessive about the “faith-tradition” perpetrated on them in childhood.  BOTH of them have probably lost contact/given up active involvement with that subculture.

What’s the point, exactly?   There are a plethora of other ways to get access to INOFFENSIVE SELF-HELP PABLUM.

The wonderful thing about living in a culture where “heretics” are no longer tortured to death/burned at the stake etc.: I KNOW that I am no longer beholden to mindlessly ape/parrot what my “significant others” want to think that I “believe”.

I can (and do) dissent — and can do so, without fear of being tortured to death,  or burnt at the stake.

I don’t see any particular “need” for an organization which explicitly gives me “permission” to do what I’ve been doing as far back as I can remember.

There’s something implicitly grotesque about the notion of an “authority” permitting me to “think for myself”.

There’s also something (implicitly) grotesque and absurd about a gaggle of like-minded individuals not being able to give up on the warm fuzziness of “belonging” (IE: HERD CONFORMITY).

 

 

The “Geography of Religion” is a monument to idiocy:

It is a (disgusting) truism that the greatest single “predictor” of what individuals claim to “believe” with regard to religion, is mere geography.  The reason is as simple as it is pathetic: many people merely ape and parrot the words/actions of their parents/grandparents etc.

In other words (as I’ve said elsewhere on this blog) the vast majority — to the extent that they “believe” in anything — “believe in” MOMMY AND DADDY.

I use the above (somewhat childish) terms deliberately, to point out the fact that merely aping and parroting one’s “Elders” is  both abysmally stupid and dangerous.

For instance, I am intelligent enough to recognize the fact that — at a certain point in time — my ancestors were (most likely) “converted” to Christianity at sword-point.  I am also intelligent enough to recognize that at (somewhat) later point in time, at least some of my ancestors engaged in “Protestantism” (which, until recently, the Roman Catholic church — RIGHTLY — classified as a form of “heresy”.)

The truly horrifying thing is: I have no way of knowing whether my ancestors who initially “converted” to Christianity did so for a VALID reason (IE: because they understood what they were being instructed to “believe”).

Quite frankly, it is INFINITELY more probable that they were threatened directly (“convert or die!”), or systematically deprived of the opportunity to continue engaging in their pre-christian (“pagan”) religion (when all Non-christian religions were OUTLAWED by Emperor Theodosius I in 391 AD.)

As I’ve said elsewhere: if somebody stuck a gun to my head, and demanded that I “convert” to Islam, I would have exactly 2 choices: lie to him about having “converted” (and survive), or be honest, and get shot in the head.

Genuine “conversion” is simply not an option in cases such as the above, for two reasons:

  1. It is impossible to “believe” something without first understanding it.
  2. It is impossible to force oneself to “believe” anything.

As an illustration of point #1 above:  do you “believe” the following statement?

ඒබ්රහම් ලින්කන් රෝස පැහැති යුනිකෝන් විය.

Unless you can read “Sinhala“, you have no idea what the above text “says”:

(For the record: it is a machine translation of the English phrase: “Abraham Linsoln was a pink unicorn.”

At any rate: you get the idea: until — and unless — you understand the statement you cannot even know whether or not you “believe” it, or not.

Most christian denomination (and Judaism) have specific procedures for ensuring that children “born into” those ethnoreligious subcultures are indoctrinated with just enough information about their specific religious sect to constitute a rudimentary “understanding”.

The problem with this is (of course): such instruction typically fails to even mention the counter-arguments against the dogma, points of disagreement with other ethnoreligious subcultures, religious/philosophies outside of Christianity/Judaism, etc.

That is intensely problematic, to say the least:

How can you know whether you ‘agree” with something, when you have been systematically kept ignorant of the alternatives and objections to it?

So, yeah.  It is overwhelmingly likely that the first generation of my relatives who “converted” to Christianity did not do so of their own free will.   Moreover, it is overwhelmingly likely that subsequent generations defaulted to the religion perpetrated on them by their subculture — at least partially because they were IGNORANT of the alternatives (both within, and beyond, Christianity).

 

 

 

Mormon “baptism of the dead” = a blatantly EVIL practice

Several reasons:

  1. A lot of people dislike the notion of infant baptism, because infants are (presumably) incapable of consenting to the practice.  Um…..how exactly is that any different from “baptizing” someone after they’re already dead?
  2. It discounts the expressed wishes of the individual (IE: the “belief” — if any — they professed while alive).

The truly horrifying thing is: the LDS church might very well decide to “baptize” you postumously.  I can find NO simple means of stopping them from doing this. 

That’s a problem.  the LDS needs to change their policies on this:  EITHER:

  1. Only do postumous baptisms for those who have EXPLICITLY consented.
  2. Have an “opt-out” list of some kind.
  3. STOP doing it entirely.

Actually, the LDS is in a uniquely-fortunate position in this regard:  their “continuing revelation” shtick gives them an easy “out”, whenever any specific doctrinal point becomes too onerous/idiotic to defend.  (For example: their virulent anti-Black racism).

Assholes. 😦

The only real “down-side” to the facts cited in the previous post:

Any region dumb enough to base their “tourism” strategy around “milking” the Amish will be negatively impacted when the inbred, cult-weirdos finally  go non-viable:

I give it another 15 years (at most):

Quite frankly, if the level of “slippage” has already degraded the two major pockets of Amish “culture” (in Ohio and Pennsylvania) to the degree indicated, then the total collapse of their pathetic little pseudo-“culture” is basically inevitable.

The same kind of thing is happening among some parts of the “Fundamentalist Mormon” population, from what I can gather.

All I can say is: stupidity is its own reward.

(The tragically-funny irony (ESPECIALLY when it comes to the Amish) is: the only way any of these inbred, cultic weirdos will possibly survive, is by means of exactly the kind of scientific/technological knowledge their shitty cult-trap of a “culture” is incapable of producing by design.

I have 0% sympathy of pity for any of them.