Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

RABID JACKELS
April 21, 2016

 

There are millions of   Americans–the majority of us–who recognize a great man when they see one. The guy with  pick and shovel,  The cashier behind the counter.

The farmer planting seed.   Young men and women dying in these senseless wars. But when greatness resides in the White House, in the most powerful office in the world, our chests swell.

He’s brilliant. No one needs a dummy.

His words are elegant.  A pleasure to the ears. He has manners  befitting royalty  hosting  guests at a courtly table. If he’s tall and slender and handsome with a family of equal  beauty  we’re even more proud. Please, at this moment, watch a FRONTLINE document: Inside OBAMA’S Presidency.

This young man made one grave mistake: He thought he could reason with his adversaries. He tried his best. He gave it all. But one cannot reason with rabid jackals. The best thing one can do with a rabid jackal is run.  He didn’t run. He held his ground.  He’d the courage  of a madman. Madman?  It goes beyond bravery to confront such a  dangerous animal.

Frothing with greed. For money. For power. Indulging in beliefs so ridiculous they’re an insult to human intelligence.  Rancor, vulgarity, and deceit are its nature. And this den of disease spawned the greatest frother of them all.

I beg you–all of you– don’t descend to his level. May that brilliant maligned woman and that elegant elder join forces. Together they can–we can–heal.

 

 

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Je Suis L’Homme
March 22, 2016

But, by all means, come out of the closet, if you’re in one.

I’m an outspoken atheist, have been for years, but I don’t claim to have come out of a closet. I was in a big room. Just me. No religion. An only child. Playfully– one day–I  knocked down the walls and set myself free.

My father had sent me to the nuns to be raised and I loved them.  Wonderful teachers.  They were all in love with my father who brought them flowers and made them smile. They were happy women. About in the fourth grade all my  friends took First Communion. They wore white dresses and veils and married god or something–I never quite understood–and I felt left out. So I asked,  “Could I become a Catholic?” He answered. “Yes. When you’re old enough to find out what it’s all about.”

When I found out what it was ‘all about’, I said, ” I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole.”  So off I went in a thousand different directions. Strangely enough, it was an Irish Priest, Father O’Connell who I met–befriended, shared a beer with on the porch of the Manila Yacht Club– who sent me on my way to freedom. He dubbed me a ‘free soul’–a phrase I liked– and knew nothing about, but the more I learned the more I loved the idea.

When the walls came down I found myself surrounded by other bipeds. Related to the apes.  Chimps. Monkeys without tails. Darwin got in the act.

I found human beings. So beautiful. Skin white and black and brown and yellow and pink and every color in-between. Eyes  blue and green and gray and brown, snapping and flashing with intelligence. Hair a vast assortment of shades.  Red. Yellow. Black. Brown. They painted.  They wrote. Composed music. Danced and sang.  Young and old and in-between.  Male and female and other preferences. Once I knew a homosexual stallion. (They’re unipeds.)  He liked boys not girls. Never bothered me.

Humans think, therefore we are. Carry no guns. Carry no flag. We’re citizens of the world.   “Breathes there no human with heart so dead who never to herself has said, This is my home, my planet earth.”

So, if you chose to be a Klansman–hide your face and wear a white robe–burn a cross.  Come out.  We’ll stand on the sidelines and watch you pass.

If you’re a witch who needs to be exorcised, talk to Sarah Palin. She’ll arrange one. We’ll stand on the sidelines and watch.

If you ‘re a nazi, wear a brown shirt– easy to find–and goose step. Tattoo a swastika on your forehead for all we care. We’ll stand on the sidelines and watch.

Strap on a bomb and blow yourself and others to smithereens. Why not start with each other? We’ll stand on the sidelines and watch.

I’m proud to be related to the Chimp. Wonder if she’s happy to be related to me?

 

SPRING HAS SPRUNG
March 15, 2016

Far removed from a religious celebration the Spring equinox is an event that happens every year signaling spring in our hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. It’s a time when daylight equals nightfall. It’s an event  in the sky that’s been observed by humans since humankind became observers of the sky. We were farmers, we were sailors, we hunted, we gathered, we lived with nature.

Think of a time when there were no city lights. Imagine how the night sky must have sparkled with stars, and the  sun–sailing overhead in the daylight hours–was worshipped and warm and played a very  important role in  our lives.  Still does. Of great importance to all, at the time of the equinox, it promised a return of nature’s fertility. The earths’ journey around the sun–although it wasn’t expressed that way then– was there for all to see. In March, all over the northern hemisphere, the sun begins to rise earlier and set later. This event can be measured, predicted, it always occurs, and  everywhere in our hemisphere  it is a time of great rejoicing.

This years in Hawaii, it happens on Saturday, March 19 at 6:30PM.

For Christians it’s called Easter. And in the Jewish faith it’s called Passover.

Pagans celebrate it as Ostara named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre and it’s a celebration of spring. A time for planting and sowing a new crop.

A scientific explanation would go like this, “On the equinoxes the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. The March equinox marks
the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north.” Fascinating charts, videos, observations all over  the internet are well worth a watch.

I can remember when communities celebrated with an Easter Parade. An Easter bonnet, “…with all the frills upon it…”  were the rage. One  dressed up in Easter finery to attend church or go out to lunch or dinner to show-off.

Today, take a trip to the Mall and fill your sights  and senses with candy, eggs,  Easter bunnies and baskets. Ever wonder what that was all about?  Eggs are a very powerful symbol of fertility, and spring is a season when animals mate and flowers bloom. It’s a time of renewal.  Want to talk about rabbits? Many rabbits are nocturnal but in spring mating season  they show up in the daytime. Did you know a doe can conceive a second liter while still pregnant with the first?  And sometimes, when there are too many bucks and not enough does,  the bucks go nuts and bounce around like ping-pong balls. March Hares go Mad.

I was always a  confused, as a little kid, as to how rabbits ended up laying eggs. Does anyone know the answer to that?

Also, of course, it’s a wonderful excuse to spend money.

Whatever you do, enjoy.  Enjoy. Smell the flowers. Smile a lot.

 

 

 

 

Sarah and Trump and Chattel
February 3, 2016

Chattel. What a word. it does not roll trippingly off the tongue. There’s a darkness about it. It means possession of something. Cars, cattle, women…

Today is a wonderful time for Western women. I wouldn’t care to be a Muslim woman in a long black veil–in which she can vote with a green thumb–if she can see through the slits. Sharia law?  Her hair must be covered and you shouldn’t see her feet. Allah commands. What’s the guy got against feet and hair?

In America women are speaking out. Seems to me they’re more concerned about the future–the children, the environment, the health of the planet–than men.

Women on Kauai are vocal in complaining about GMO’s, air-born toxins, over-crowded, wrongly sited milk factories, more cars, more highways, more suburban sprawl, tourist, global warming, CO2.

I love articulate, intelligent, out-spoken women. I love their involvement in the goings-on. “The world crisis came about without women having anything to do with it. If the women of the world had not been excluded from affairs, things today might have been different.” That’s Alice Paul before the passage of the 18th Amendment. I suggest you find the film, Iron Jawed Angels. Watch it. Share it. We owe so much to this courageous young woman. We need more like her. If you must identify with a female figure, identify with Alice.

Today, of course, women often play an important role in politics and law. Think of Sarah Palin. An example of female evangelism gone sick.  Tried her hand in politics. Darling of the religious right. Well, she’s baaacckk. Slithered in with Trump. What a pair. Hope you watched her exorcism on youtube. Bishop Thomas Muthee, Word of Faith Churches in Kenya. It’s an insult to human intelligence.

Which brings us back to chattel

Biblical quotes work here. Ecclesiasticus 15:18, 19 & 33. “And a man will choose–any wickedness but the wickedness of a woman…Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die.”

The history of women as chattel is woven into many legal codes and cultures. In the Old and the New Testament as well as the Quran. Women are property. There’s a world-wide dominion over women. In fundamental patriarchal religious societies, that live by the word, women are valued as objects. A husband owns his wife…

…so she better shut up and do as told.

A quote from Augustine Aquinas is enlightening. In Summa Theologica he wrote, “As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power of the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex, while the production of a woman comes from the defect in the active power…”

Augustine is a Catholic Saint so I assume he resides in a Catholic heaven. As a devout non believer, who does not believe in heaven or hell, I pen a brief note.

“Dear Auggie, to spend all eternity with you would be hell.”

What do you think?

 

 

 

Deniers, liars, and believers
February 1, 2016

Another rant?  Rants are never out of style. And a rant about my favorite subject is a cure- all for insipidity and distraction. Today, it seems, the world is overwhelmed with sweetness and goodness and light. Think cuteseewootsey thoughts, never waver, and all your dreams and hopes will bear  ruby-red strawberries ripe  for picking…

…and the moon is made of green cheese.

To bury your head like an ostrich in the sand will not  solve the problems humankind, and planet  earth, faces.

Join me, flatten  your ears in your brachia and dive headfirst into the frey.

I think I can build a case-and  win it–that deniers, liars, ands believers are a brew  of insane and stupid broth for empty heads and aching bellies.

I’m quite sure many of you will agree to teach a toddler that Mohammad rose up to heaven on a white-winged horse–Al-Baraq–is true, is an insult to a child’s intelligence and great wrong- doing by a loving and caring parent. But it comes in handy as we shall see.To teach a child to believe lies is a marvelous tool of control. Governments use it all the time. If one is taught to believe nonsense, it’s easy to lie and expect him to believe anything he’s told by an authoritative figure is true.The President. The Pope. A dictator. Or pastor, or  priest, or rabbi, or minister, or Insoc Party Slogan of love.  Love is hate, doncha know?

Truth.  A belief is something that is not true. If it were true, it would not be a belief, it would be a fact.

In science one has a theory. Other scientists often attempt  to prove or disprove it. Make a liar out of a man of reason’s theory–a true scientist– and he will drop his false theory like a chunk of red hot charcoal.

This is not true of true believers. Fact is, the more insane the belief you believe, the better believer you are.

Once Zeus came down to earth in the form of a swan, had sex with Leda, who bore him two kids. Helen and Clyemnestra.

The last god who came down to earth–2000 years ago–  had sex with a virgin who bore him a son. Gods don’t do this so much anymore.

Occasionally one  hears that this god has no sex, but doesn’t that conflict with the story? He’s a father. The great father.  And  fathers are usually male. It’s so confusing. How does one  keep the facts straight?

Easy, deny they exist. Fly over the top of the fact  and believe as a true believer believes.

Denies, lies, and beliefs are one extraordinarily dysfunctional family. Linked together  with a chain as strong as the strongest. As weighty as heaviest. As silly–with an evil bent– as any nasty creature in a Grimm’s fairy tale.

This god has rules. Break’em and spend all eternity in the fires of hall he created. I find this an insult to my intelligence. How about you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RICHARD DAWKINS FOUNDATION
November 4, 2015

 

Hi ,
Young people in America are losing their religion. An encouraging new Pew research study says young adults are increasingly moving away from religiosity and belief in God. America is still a religious country, especially compared with European nations, but its youth are breaking free from their upbringing and thinking for themselves.
Republican presidential primary candidate and medical doctor Ben Carson, currently near the top of the pack in polls, has made so many jaw-dropping assertions during the campaign that it is hard to pick the most outlandish. But foundation friend Herb Silverman takes a stab at it.
After you read his piece, watch Herb talk to Richard about Richard’s latest book “Brief Candle in the Dark”.
Things are getting worse in Bangladesh, where four atheist bloggers have been killed. A publisher of one of those was hacked to death over the weekend just hours after three other outspoken secularists were attacked. A human rights researcher fears this presages further attacks: “Given the horrific pattern of violence, we have reason to believe many other lives are now at risk.”
Awards for speaking out are generally bittersweet. Bravery can come at considerable risk and great cost. That’s true of Saudi atheist blogger Raif Badawi, who was given the European Union’s top human rights prize last week. Sentenced to prison for a decade and 1,000 strokes for the crime of promoting freedom of thought, his body was devastated after receiving the first 50 strokes. Raif’s wife fears another round will kill him.

Robyn Blumner

Jailed, Whipped Saudi Atheist Given Sakharov Rights Award

An atheist blogger who was flogged and imprisoned for criticizing Islam in Saudi Arabia has been awarded the European Union’s top human rights award, the Sakharov prize for Freedom of Thought. Raif Badawi is serving a 10-year sentence and has been given 50 of a promised 1,000 lashes despite an international outcry. His wife says she fears the beatings are likely to resume soon — and could kill Raif.

Close your eyes and pick almost any position taken by GOP presidential primary candidate Ben Carson and odds are you’ll find something jaw-dropping. But he recently topped himself by asking the Secret Service for protection. Not because of the very real risks run by those seeking major office these days, but because “I challenge the secular progressive movement to the very core.”
Video of the Week: Dawkins and Silverman Discuss ‘Brief Candle’

Richard Dawkins and atheist writer and mathematician Herb Silverman discuss Richard’s second volume of memoirs, “Brief Candle in the Dark,” and their mutual admiration for Carl Sagan as a tireless promoter of the wonders of science.

Exciting news for the secular community. A new Pew research poll of 35,000 adults shows that America’s religiosity is waning, especially among young adults. According to the survey, only 27% of Millennials — people between 18 and 34 years old — say they attend religious services weekly, while 51% of people born before 1945 say they do. And only about four out of ten Millennials say they hold religion as something very important in their lives, compared with more than half of those in older generations.

 

Brief Candle in the Dark
October 28, 2015

Cherish books. Be determined never to  live without them. They’re difficult to keep in the tropics, but try. I have books I’ve carted around the world for fifty years.  They’ve seen the world. Many are worn, many are torn, many are frayed–held together with scotch tape, Elmer’s glue and duct tape–but all sit on my shelves and are dearest friends. I’m holding a hard bound–once upon a time–Thesaurus, with pages so messed up, so strung out, so dangling,  I wonder through words like a kid lost in a fairy tale  forest.

Words. Twenty-seven letters in the English alphabet strung together into meaning. Nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs. The primary colors writers use to paint pictures with black ink on white  paper.

A recent book that found my desk is a New York bestseller, Sense of Style,  the Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Steven Pinker. He claims, rightly, writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and intellectual  fascination.  Delightful. Explosive. I recommend it to all  writers.

His incredible wife’s –Rebecca Newberger Goldstein–new book 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, is beyond a must read. If  you love to laugh, enjoy wit, brilliance  and entertainment  find this ‘literary miracle’. It’s sad we don’t have a bookstore on Kauai. We’re so backwoodsy. Order it from Barnes and Noble or our very own used bookstore  in Hanapepe.

But my most priceless new possession is Richard Dawkins’ Brief  Candle in the Dark. It’s signed. I carry it with me wherever I go. There’s always a park bench, a chair at a table,  some shade beneath a tree. Started reading it on the plane flying home.  Can’t put it down. I’m trying to read all three at the same time.

Richard is ‘one of the best nonfiction writers alive today’, says Steven Pinker and he should know.

What I loved is the earthiness of it. Richard’s incredible life, his  mind, his charm.  His story telling ability. Soon you feel you know his family, his wife–the beautiful actress and artist Lala– to whom the book is dedicated and who paints all his ties.  (Queen Elizabeth complained about one of them he wore to lunch.) You fall in love with his daughter, Juliet, who became ‘a fourteen- year- old hero’  when her mother died of cancer. All his friends become your friends. All his adventures become your adventures. He writes about people we all love, John Cleese, Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan. I think he knows everybody. He sounds a trumpet blast for truth. He cares.

“Richard always writes like he’s telling a story, which is why so many of us non-science people understand science better than we used to. But when the story’ s his own life, it’s doubly compelling.” BILL MAHER.

Someone  cautioned me, quoting 1 Corinthian 1:25-18 , “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

….blessed are the dense for they will inherit the earth?

Let us hope not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open letter to Richard Dawkins
October 27, 2015

Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015

Dear Richard,

I’m a columnist not a journalist. Columnists have more fun. We break rules.

Quick aside: Ann Druyan and I started a religious war on Kauai. In the November/December 2003 Skeptical Inquirer ‘Ann Druyan Talks About Science, Religion, Wonder, Awe…and Carl Sagan’ and I responded. My letter appeared in the Letters to the Editor section in the March/April 2004 issue. It then appeared as a column in The Garden Island Forum.

Eleven years later and I still don’t understand what it was in that letter that set ‘them’ off. The war’s still waging.

The current column –better known in this back neck of the woods as a bettejo– was a hoot to write. Have already had one response. Before the letter was published–I think there’s a leak–someone named Jerry Terui from Lihue cautioned me, quoting 1 Corinthian 1:18-25, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

….blessed are the dense for they will inherit the earth?

My Editor wants more Richard Dawkins. Will try to work something up about A Candle in the Dark and see if I can include the densers. Don’t want to leave them out.

By the way, I found, on my desk when I returned home, two books: Sense of Style and 36 Arguments for the Existence of God. I’m trying to read Candle, Sense, and 36 Arguments all at the same time.

If gawd had a hand in this, I think he’s got his fingers crossed.

Aloha,

Bettejo

PS: New comment: ‘I’m a Dawkish adolescent.’  In a way I’m kind’a flattered. Adolescent? Don’t I wish.

RICHARD DAWKINS and me
October 18, 2015

 

Many of us, I’m, sure, hold someone so completely in awe that the very idea of meeting him, dining with him, takes our breath away.How could it happen? If it did, wouldn’t we be struck dumb? Turn  loose a tsunami brain wave that washes all our cognitive thinking out the window? We’d mutter. We’d stutter. We’d falter. We’d faint.

Well, it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like that at all. Richard Dawkins, my  companion at the table, was, as David Silverman, president of the American Atheist, Inc., said, “…. sometimes funny, sometimes fascinating, and always interesting…” But, more than that, a delightful host. He made me feel welcome, comfortable, at home. All of them did.

It was a small group at the table. Several brilliant women, three Turks, one who plays polo, a guy from Australia, a lawyer from Texas–hope I’ve not left anyone out–I didn’t count, I listened and talked and had a great time.

The experience, I suppose, was something like it might be for you Christian guys having supper with Jesus. We didn’t drink blood or eat flesh, but we did wine and dine.  Richard didn’t wash anybody’s feet. Good thing. I was wearing a pair of Haines Barely There panty hose which would have turned my foot  washing into an awkward feat under the circumstances.

The introduction by the others was impressive. Lot of letters ‘fore and aft, degrees in fields of science I didn’t know existed. But there was a human quality there.  No chest pounding or me me meing. They were almost humble. Richard’s introduction was,    “I’m Richard Dawkins.”

When my turn came, I said,”I’m Bettejo Dux. The lady from the provinces.  I’m an atheist. No buts about it.” It was an ‘inside’ joke and Richard grinned. That made me happy and set the stage.

Sometimes the banter became a little hefty but all of it fascinated me. Held my interest. I could have sat at that table for hours listening in.

I think the women were a bit more interested in the awful ways in which atheists were  treated. I told my story about guys on Kauai who  say, “I agree with Bettejo but I can’t say it.” “I’d lose my job.” “I couldn’t be elected.”  “Neighbors wouldn’t talk to my wife.” “What would I tell my flock?” We all agreed  speaking the truth was a dangerous step but one which all of us had to take. Someone said, “Like our gay friends, we have to come out of the closet. Too many are sadly locked in there alone.”

I make it easy on myself. As an atheist, I prefer to pal  with astronomers rather than  astrologers. Reason my way through life  rather than indulge in make believe. Browse The God Delusion rather than the Bible.  Watch  Cosmos, narrated by Carl Sagan, rather than any sermon from any televised house of worship.

Lets teach kids the marvelous magic of math, not the  mythical magic of religion.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His name is Scott Sims
July 28, 2015

The ruckus began on Saturday. What a racket. Ari, my beloved old horse, was tossing his feed bucket around like an angry housewife tosses pots and pans.Bang bang. Crash crash. Jangle. Jangle.

He’d had his breakfast: oat alfalfa, salt, carrots, bran and molasses served up with love and kisses on the nose. The bucket tumbled empty. Not a crumb left untouched.  He licks the inside with his long pink tongue, sniffing out the carrot bites, bran and the sweet dark syrupy surprise he loves so well. My father taught me to make a warm mash in the winter and this was the winter of our lives together. Horses have an incredible sense of taste and smell.  Well, look at the size of that nose. It seems to go on forever. Dimpled with kind intelligent eyes–on either side of his noble head, he is prey not predator–  crowned with pointy beautiful ears at the poll and bedecked with long silky hair called a forelock. I’d combed and brushed it this morning.

When I reached his feeding block, he dropped the noise maker–crash, bang, jangle, plop–and gave me that look.

Now any horseman–or woman–worth his salt knows a horse is telepathic. “Never let them put their heads together,”  I was taught by a beloved teacher, ” because they’re plotting.”  I’d experienced that little phenomena, with my own eyes, many time.

But I’d learned, years ago–I live with my horses –that if put my forehead smack against their forehead I can hear what they’re thinking. They understand  English, have their own language, but will communicate with you if you will only listen. “Okay, what’s up?”

Ari is 88 and half years old. 28 in human years. He was born in 1987. He’s three and half years older than I. I was born in 1930. We grow old together and enjoy the process.

“He’s gone to horse heaven.”

“He?”

“The human who cut me open. Sewed me back. Years ago. Remember?”

“Of course I remember. I was there.”

He nodded. ” Left his body.  Gone to horse heaven.”

“Are you talking as about Scott Sims?”

“That’s what you called him.”

“But Ari, we just heard from him…”

“… I know. They cut him open.  Sewed him back. Four fingers and a thumb are handy.”

With my fingers and thumbs I messaged his ears.

“You did that when I was on my back with my feet in the air. Strange feeling. You have good hands,” he said.

“Thank you. I didn’t know horses believed in heaven.”

“You never asked.”

“Okay, I ask,” A theocratic lecture from a horse?

“There is not only a horse heaven. there is a horse God.”

“Pegasus?”

“Don’t be silly.”

When a horse calls you silly, you can be certain you’re pretty silly.

“But why would he go to horse heaven? If horses have a God and heaven, and humans have a God and heaven– and Scott was human–why wouldn’t he go to a human heaven?”

“Because ours is better.”

“Can I go?”

“Depends.”

“I’ll work on it.”