Monday, November 26, 2007

Terrorism and Attitudes

Here's a letter that appeared in last Friday's Calvert Recorder.  (link here)  I wish I could say it's a parody, but I'm afraid it isn't.  The abject willful idiocy and hate-mongering bigotry are exactly what you'd expect to see on the True Christians Unite parody role-playing site.
Right off the bat, the writer begins by bragging about her education, which the rest of her letter proves she doesn't have.  Then she moans about how horrible it is that her granddaughter is getting an education on topics of importance in the modern world.
Her seething hatred for Muslims is so intense that she even thinks that using correct grammar to talk about them would honor them undeservedly.
Then she claims she's been through something called "a revised history book" without finding any reference to Christians.  I have no idea what sort of history book she's talking about.
She decries the death, destruction, lack of respect, and violence in the modern world, utterly oblivious that it's attitudes like hers that are causing it.
She claims the students are not allowed to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  I have no idea what school she's talking about.  Recitation of the Pledge is a regular thing in all of our public schools in this county.
Then she claims the students are not allowed to say the Lord's Prayer.  Hogwash!  Of course they can, as long as they don't try to cram that primitive tribal war chant down the throats of differently-believing classmates.
She complains that freedom is no longer.  The only freedom that's lacking is her freedom to cram her religion down everybody else's throats.
Somehow she believes that the Constitution has been abolished.  She sounds like one of these people who mistakenly think the Constitution is a Christian document, blissfully unaware that the founders of our nation were of various religious beliefs, with Humanism and Deism predominating.
She doesn't believe that Muslims, almost 25% of the world's population, are a fit topic for study by children who are going to have to deal with them.
And then she mumbles something about God, the American Flag, and the Constitution all in one breath, and tries to claim that the Bible is the greatest book ever written, ignoring that other perfectly law-abiding citizens believe the same about other holy books.
And in other news, there's a terror alert active for the state of Maryland.  (link here)  It appears to be faddish nowadays to blame Muslim extremists for all the terror in the world.  We forget that our nation is full of Christian extremists who are only one small step away from terrorism.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Evolution of the Blog

I've been tagged by Greta Christina.  The meme is "Pick out five blog posts that illustrate the evolution of your blog, link to them, and comment on them."
First, a bit of background.  In about 1997 or thereabouts, I began chatting in several Talk City chat rooms, using more than a dozen different nicknames.  For each registered nickname, Talk City gave you a tiny little one-page web site.  Since then Talk City has quit giving out web sites, so all of those web sites have vanished.  I still use four of those nicknames in other places, however.
In most places I use OrneryPest.
In bicycling and physical fitness forums I use RollFaster.
In religion-parody role-playing forums I play the part of Reverend Howell N. Shreack, the Bible-thumping fire-and-brimstone preacher of a make-believe church called the Fundamental United Celestial Kingdom.
In swashbuckling adventure role-playing forums I play the part of Admiral Worthington Scrimshaw, Esquire, the supreme commanding officer of Her Majesty's fine battleship HMS Neverfloat.
When all of the Talk City web sites vanished, I started web sites on Geocities, Fortune City, and Tripod.  Geocities proved to be by far the most satisfactory host.  I don't even know if the Tripod and Fortune City sites are even there any more.  I suspect probably not.
So, now to address the meme.
First post (or group of posts):  Opinions.  Since religion and politics are the two areas in which my opinions differ drastically from the mainstream, these were my first two topics.
Second group of posts:  Poetry.  Ridiculous little doggerel-verse ditties, actually.  I think my favorite one so far is The Ballad of the Purloined Throne.  I've also got a little essay about how to write poetry.
Then I discovered internet diaries, and put up one at DiaryLand.  Nothing memorable here, but it got me into a community of diarists.
Third group of posts:  One of my fellow diarists (who appears to be no longer on-line) got me interested in Fugue, a sort of essay-of-the-month club.  Here's my first entry.

Nothing happened for a long time.  My Demented Diary was happily swing along, nothing memorable being posted.  Then about last July or thereabouts, Michael Gerson published an astonishingly twisted and upside-down version of where he thought moral values came from.
Fourth post:  Finally, I had something memorable to post in My Demented Diary.  A commentary on what I thought about Michael Gerson's monumental ignorance level.
That got me to thinking.  Serious commentary is out of place in My Demented Diary.  Maybe I ought to set up a more serious diary.  That thought sat there and smoldered for a while, until one Sunday in church the preacher preached a sermon that exposed, in a most spectacular way, the total inability of the Christian religion to address anything realistically.  So, says I, a more serious diary it shall be, and this blog was born.
Fifth post:  My response to that sermon, the first Real entry in this blog.
And now, since no one has responded to my earnest pleas for volunteers to be tagged, I'll just tag five of my favorite diarists.
LA The Sage

Friday, November 9, 2007

Religion and Discrimination

An applicant applies for a job in a hair salon.  The owner states up front that one of the job duties is for the worker to show off her own hair-do.  The applicant holds a religious belief that she must keep her hair covered in public.  The owner says, sorry, but it's a job requirement and if you're unprepared to perform the duty then you're not qualified for the job.  The applicant then files a lawsuit for religious discrimination.  (link to story
Several cases have arisen recently where pharmacy workers have refused to fill birth control prescriptions because their religion opposes birth control.  In most cases, another worker is available to take over and fill the prescription.  But what if another worker were unavailable?  Would the pharmacy be justified in firing the employee for nonperformance of duties?
Some grocery stores sell wine and beer.  Is a cash-register person whose religion opposes booze consumption justified in refusing to deal with a customer who wants to buy some?
Suppose a job (police officer, hotel desk clerk, airline reservation agent) requires a uniform which conflicts in some way with a religiously mandated item of clothing.  Is the employer required to make a special exception for that one employee?
I think that if you can't or won't perform the job duties, for whatever reason, religion or otherwise, then you're unqualified for the job and have no business applying for in the first place. If you really want the job, then change your religion.
As soon as a few religious leaders start realizing that their strange doctrines render True Believers unqualified to get jobs, maybe they'll start receiving mystic revelations from God to change these doctrines.  Strange things like that have happened in history, you know.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Modest Proposal

In the Episcopal church, a great fuss is made over how the communion wine gets consecrated for use, as though properly consecrated wine has magic powers of some sort.  If these magic powers could be verified, it would probably qualify for James Randi's million-dollar prize.  I'm sure there's room for a cool million in just about any parish budget.
I propose, therefore, that the magic powers be tested.  Several steps are involved.
Step one:  A panel of theologians (approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury, of course) shall define precisely what these magic powers are and precisely how they can be verified, and shall design the exact test procedure.
Step two:  A case of wine (twelve bottles) shall be purchased from the usual supplier.  Thirty-six canonically valid communion wine cruets shall be obtained from an approved supplier of religious products.  The cruets shall be marked numerically, and selected at random for the following step.
Step three.  Each bottle of wine shall be divided equally into three cruets.  One cruet shall be consecrated by a priest in the canonically approved fashion.  Another cruet shall have the consecration ceremony performed upon it by a lay-person, thus constituting an invalid consecration.  The third cruet shall remain unconsecrated.
Step four:  A record shall be made of which cruets were validly consecrated, which were invalidly consecrated, and which were unconsecrated.  The record shall be sealed into an envelope and delivered to a bank safe deposit box.
Step five:  Some people who did not witness the consecration ceremonies shall carry the cruets to the testing space where they will be tested by other people who did not witness the consecration ceremonies.
If the magic powers conferred by consecration are genuine, the test team should easily pick out the twelve validly consecrated cruets.  If, however, the twelve invalidly consecrated cruets also have these magic powers, we'll immediately know that an ordained priest is not needed to perform the consecration.
Now, since it will be theologians instead of scientists determining the test procedure, that should squelch any bogus excuses by theologians that theological claims are not scientifically testable.  The only thing we'll require is that the consecrated cruets be correctly identified.
And now, Dear Theologians!  Are you up to the task?  There's a cool million bucks on the table for your church budget!