Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hungry for Christ?

A soup kitchen in Spartanburg, SC refused volunteers the other day. But why? You would think that a soup kitchen should welcome all the help they can get. Were these volunteers rowdy or insincere? No. So why were they turned away? The soup kitchen's executive director, Lou Landrum said this group of volunteers isn't welcome to volunteer because "their mission is counter to the mission of the soup kitchen".

Wait... A soup kitchen had a large group offering to help feed the hungry, and they say that they were
countering the soup kitchen's mission? Did I miss something, because I thought that the mission of a soup kitchen is to feed the needy? Maybe we should ask Landrum what the soup kitchen's mission is then...

"Our ministry is to edify God and feed those that are hungry." Oh... so the secondary purpose of the soup kitchen is to feed people, while the primary purpose is to sell religion. Doesn't that seem like they have their priorities mixed up a bit? This is the part where the 'problems' started for Landrum.

You see, the volunteers turned away were from the Upstate Atheist's 'Charity Beyond Belief ' group. Just because they wanted to hand out food without also giving everyone an unsolicited side order of Jesus, they were told they weren't welcome. Actually, more than that Landrum said that they 'have the Devil with them.' Yes, nothing's more devilish than helping the needy no matter if they believe or not...

Since they weren't allowed inside, the Upstate Atheist's set up shop across the street and gave out food and personal care items to the needy. It's rather sad that this Christian soup kitchen choose to be decisive at the possible detriment to those that both parties are hoping to help. Do they ask those in need if they are believers before they serve them too? Why not focus on the shared interest for feeding the hungry, and forget the theological differences? The soup kitchen's website even states that 'every human being should be treated with dignity and respect.' So where was the dignity and respect when they treated these atheist volunteers as rudely and poorly as they did?

Put helping those in need first, instead of placing some silly need to push your religion on the unfortunate just so they can eat. If helping the needy really is the goal, then allow us all to come together, so that we can all work together and make the biggest difference we can.


-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wild and crazy... me?

Many of us atheists have heard and shook our heads at the claims by some theists that non-believers are just wild and crazy party animals. If they were to be believed, we just smoke, get drunk and do drugs from dusk to dawn. However, this couldn't be much further from the truth.

I'm not opposed to someone enjoying a drink, but I've never met an atheist like to one described above. I don't pretend to represent every atheist, but lets put the above claim to the test and point the microscope at me.

Smoking:  I have never even tried a single puff of a cigarette. In fact the very thought of purposely inhaling smoke disgusts and I can't understand what appeal anyone could possible find in it.

Drugs: Again, I've never tried them, held them, or even seen them in person other than the time someone left a baggie of pot on the school bus and driver found it and questioned everyone. While I don't understand why marijuana is illegal, when cigarettes still are, the prospect of smoking anything does not strike me as pleasant in any regard. As far as harder drugs, I'm not about to risk my one and only life on some temporary high.

Alcohol: I must admit that there isn't much alcohol that I actually like. I have yet to find a beer that I enjoy. I like some wines, rum and coke, and the closest thing to beer I like are various apple and pear ciders. So when I've had a rough day, I may choose to unwind with a bottle of Fox Barrel. But I certainly don't take it to the alcoholic drunkard levels some Christians would have you believe.

In fact, I've never been drunk... not even once. And you know what, i actually like it that way. A bit of a buzz is quite fine by me. I'm in the safety of my home, I'm loosened up, and my wife says a little funnier as well. But I am still aware of everything I am saying and doing. My filter may be more open, and i may be loosened up, but I'm still perfectly aware, and I like it that way.

In fact, one of the reasons (the other is the dreaded hangover... seriously, how can being drunk be worth that?) I choose not to get drunk is that I do not wish to surrender that control over my actions. I wish to remain rational and able to make cognitive choices and decisions rather than simply bumble blindly along in a drunken haze. When you're drunk, you don't make the best choices and are easily led. In fact, you may believe anything.

In a way, it mirrors my non-belief. I choose reason over being drunk over religion. I value informed choices and decision making over being blindly led. So in a way, my boring (as some people would call it) stance on drinking and partying (did I mention that parties aren't my thing) is rather appropriate for me on multiple levels.

And don't believe all the claims you hear believers make about atheists. They're almost always false, and sometimes the very opposite is actually true.


-Brain Hulk

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Death and delayed faith

A reader with six months to like decides that asking Billy Graham about death is somehow a wise use of the time he has left...
Don't delay putting your faith in Christ

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I’ve always had the attitude that it’s best to just ignore things you can’t do anything about, such as death. But now I can’t ignore it, because I finally got up enough courage to go to the doctor for some pain I’ve been having, and he’s given me six months to live. Won’t God just laugh at me if I try to turn to him now? — Z.S.
DEAR Z.S.: No, God won’t laugh at you, scorn you, or reject you if you turn to him, even at this late date. The Bible’s words are true: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).
How do we know this? We know it because Jesus Christ gave his life for all kinds of people. He didn’t die just for good people, or young people who have the whole of their lives ahead of them, or people who might make a major impact on society. He died for every person who needs him — and that includes you. In fact, if you had been the only person on earth who needed to be saved, he still would have died for you. God loves you that much!
Far too many people, I’m afraid, do exactly what you’ve done: they shut out life’s most important questions. But (as you’ve discovered) those questions can’t be kept away forever. Wouldn’t it have been better to face your need for God years ago, instead of leaving it until it’s almost too late?
My prayer is that you will turn to Christ for the forgiveness you need, and commit your life to him. Then be assured that someday soon you will go to be with him in heaven forever. Don’t delay, but put your faith and trust in Christ — for he alone gives us hope.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/25/4576379/dont-delay-putting-your-faith.html#storylink=cpy
 Billy Graham is right about one thing, God won't laugh at ZS. But that has more to do with him not existing, rather than him being compassionate. Graham is quick to quote Psalm 103:8, to call God compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love. Funny... when the god of the Bible commands the genocide of entire cities, that doesn't sound very compassionate or loving.

And it's no surprise when Graham tries to sell Christ's pointless and unsubstantiated sacrifice as something amazing and wonderful. Yes, requiring an unnecessary human sacrifice as an arbitrary requirement for salvation is so positive... 

It is true that ignoring things is no solution. And while some are freaked out by the thought of death, it is not something to ignore, and it certainly won't change that fact that you will one day die. But death isn't something that you should have to fear. As a non-believer, death is something that I've come to terms with years ago. I know that I will one day die, and I'm okay with that. For the time being, I am lucky enough to be alive. Lucky enough to have won the lottery of life over the multitude of other people that could have been born in our place. 

Because of the immense gratitude I have for getting this chance at life, I feel like it would be selfish for me to demand a second life when so many potential people don't even get one shot at life. So, while I'd like to extend my life as far as I can, I am actually complacent with the fact that I will one

day return to the same state I was in before I was born. I find it odd that so many Christians worry about death so much, fear it, and even demand that death not be death, but the passage into another life.

And why should ZS listen to Graham's calls for him to devote the rest of his life to Christ? There is no evidence that Christianity is true, so why not devote his life to the Buddha instead? After all, by worshiping the wrong god, ZS is risking to quality of his reincarnation. Worshiping the wrong god means that he would find himself reincarnated as a 'lesser being' in his next life. If only ZS would spend his final months seeking enlightenment through the Buddha, he would find himself rewarded with a truly spectacular next life. Well, that's what a Buddhist would say anyway. 

So, ZS shouldn't fear death. And neither should you. Instead, may the most of this life that we do have. For this one short life is the most special thing we ever will have.


-Brain Hulk

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Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/25/4576379/dont-delay-putting-your-faith.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wouldn't you want to know?

Sometimes when talking with a theist, they will be defiant of even hearing my arguments against
their stance. They'll state that they are happy with what they believe, and that they aren't interested in alternative explanations. I can completely understand being satisfied in your beliefs. But I can't understand being willingly blind to any other explanations or arguments.

Why should liking your beliefs exclude you from considering other possibilities? I am secure in and happy with my lack of belief, yet I'm also always open to hearing opposing arguments. If I'm wrong, I would like to know. Yet, the brand of theist I referenced earlier is adamant in maintaining their belief at all costs. I would like to know if I'm wrong, so why don't they?

If I am wrong in my beliefs, I want to know so that I can amend them. Yet, so many believers don't want to change their beliefs for any reason whatsoever. They would rather live a pleasing lie, than embrace a possible truth.

Listening to the views of others is not a show of weakness. It is a display of honesty. It is also an opportunity to learn. If your beliefs be true, than the other views they fear would actually serve to strengthen the beliefs they  already hold. But if the arguments of others alone, weaken your faith than I feel that say something about how shaky a foundation that faith was built upon. And like I said, you may learn something and find that what you have believed was incorrect.

So... if what you believed was wrong, wouldn't you want to know? I know I would. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. But I'll be satisfied in the knowledge that I remained honest and open. Furthermore, I'll embrace the truth whatever it may be. Like it or not, the truth is the truth. And I'd rather live my life in constant pursuit of the truth, rather than build walls to hid behind. So I must ask... What are those that hide from even the simplest questions afraid of?


-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Childish parenting

And one more Billy Graham letter for the week... This is an odd one, because in a way the questioner is actually worse that Billy. Quite the accomplishment!
Do all you can to reach out to your estranged daughter

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Our daughter’s husband walked out on her and it’s really been hard, especially since she has two small children and has to work. We’d like to help somehow, but we’ve not had the best of relationships with our daughter (especially since we urged her not to marry this man), and we don’t know what to do. Any suggestions? — Mrs. K.W.
DEAR K.W.: Almost nothing is harder than being a single parent, and my heart goes out to your daughter and to all who find themselves in this situation. I hope churches will do more to reach out and welcome those who are single parents (both men and women).
It’s not only hard physically and financially for your daughter, but emotionally, also, as she faces the trauma of divorce. All too often today we think divorce is a quick and easy solution to a difficult marriage, but it seldom is.
The feelings of hurt, rejection and bitterness that often accompany divorce create wounds that may take years to heal — if ever. No wonder God has said, “‘The man who hates and divorces his wife … does violence to the one he should protect.’ … So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful” (Malachi 2:16).
What can you do? Frankly, it may be difficult to bridge the gap between you and your daughter because of what you once did; perhaps others will learn from your experience. Do all you can, however, to let your daughter know you love her and want to help her.
Don’t bring up the past; you can’t change it, and dredging up what you see as your daughter’s mistakes will only cause more hurt.
In addition, suggest some practical ways you might help her — keeping the children occasionally, doing her laundry, taking her a meal, etc. Pray for her, also, that she will turn to Christ and learn to give her burdens and cares to him.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/11/4547088/do-all-you-can-to-reach-out-to.html#storylink=cpy
 Wow... Mrs. KW is pretty damn petty! She states that she would like to help her daughter, but that they told her not to marry this man that has just walked out on her, and now wants to know what they should do... Um, really? If you want to help, then help. It's really no that hard. This shouldn't be a question that needs to be asked. Instead you bring up the fact that you told you daughter not to marry him, which can only mean that KW is apparently torn between helping her daughter and telling her a big fat 'told you so!'. How very caring...

And this is one of the rare cases where Graham is actually mostly right. He tells her to set differences and the past aside, and to help out however they can. Good advice for once! I think I almost fainted.

Seriously though, there was one Biblical reference that I feel needs pointing out. Graham says:
The feelings of hurt, rejection and bitterness that often accompany divorce create wounds that may take years to heal — if ever. No wonder God has said, “‘The man who hates and divorces his wife … does violence to the one he should protect.’ … So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful” (Malachi 2:16).
It seems to be his intention to show the Bible as being anti-divorce and to show KW's former son-in-law in a negative an un-Biblical light. I can agree that just walking out on a marriage is pretty damn low. But was he really going against the Bible?

Let's see what Deuteronomy 24:1-4 has to say about divorce...
If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.  
So according to the Bible, her former husband may be perfectly justified in the eyes or 'the lord', depending on why he left. So while the advice given was pretty good, Graham had to dash in a little bit of deceptiveness in as well.


-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Parents and politics

 It's fairly well known that most kids share the religion of their parents. This isn't surprising, since they are taught that this religion is a fact from day one. I can attest that my Catholicism wasn't something I originally thought about. It was just taken for granted that we were a 'Catholic family'. No rhyme or reason, that's just the way it was. As should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog, I did eventually question and leave the church (and Christianity) entirely.

But just like religion, parents also seem to pass on their politics. My parents are conservative, and for the first many years of my political life, I was too. But why? The simple answer is that I was taught early on that the Republicans are the good guys and the Democrats are villains that are to never be trusted. Young children are programed to learn from their parents and elders, so I soaked up that political view and never questioned it for several years.

I'm ashamed to say that in my first two presidential elections, I didn't vote on politics or issues. Heck, I wasn't really that informed on the issues. Everything that I 'knew' can from the void of integrity known as Fox News. We would sit down and watch Fox News every night, and their rhetoric was the only argument I would hear. So I didn't really put any thought into my votes. I just scanned down the ballot and checked next to anyone with an 'R' next to their name. It didn't matter if I never even heard of some of those people. They were a Republican, so they had to be good right?

Interestingly, it wasn't until I lost my faith, that I also took an honest audit of my political opinions. For the first time I looked long and hard at the issues and asked myself "What do I really think about that?" rather than simply regurgitating what I was told I should think about that issue. What I found is that I am certainly different politically that I thought I was. I am not a conservative that deifies Fox News. Actually, I have trouble even calling Fox News, 'news' anymore. But that doesn't mean I'm some hard core Democrat now.

Nope. That party has plenty of issues as well. I will say I agree a bit more with them than the Republicans, but I would actually have to classify myself as a political mixed bag. I'm now registered as unaffiliated and my past two election ballots have been pretty diverse. In fact, I voted for a third part candidate for president that past two elections. They didn't stand a chance, but at least I voted my conscious. If forced to label myself with one word, that word would probably have to be progressive.

To this day, my parents still assume that I am politically more similar to them than I am. But maybe that's because I tend not to bring up politics and rather just avoid the issue. I just wish we could on day see a world where parents do not install young minds with religion or politics before they are old enough to make an informed decision on these issues. I've overcome it in my case, but I see far too many that blindly follow what they were conditioned to believe in their youth. Perhaps one day reason will prevail. But I fear that will be a long, long road.



-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hearsay for sale! Get your hearsay here!

A reader with shaky faith asks if there is any way to be sure if God exists. Billy Graham's spectacularly poor answer? Read the Bible!
The Bible can wipe always your doubts about the existence of God


DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Sometimes I really believe in God, but then my belief fades and I end up thinking that maybe I just talked myself into believing, and that God doesn’t exist after all. Is there any way to be sure? — A.P.
DEAR A.P.: The most important thing I can tell you is that God doesn’t want you to have a shaky, insecure faith. He wants you to know beyond all doubt that he exists — and not only that he exists, but that you can know him and have a personal relationship with him.
It’s possible because God did something that staggers our imagination: He became a man. That man was Jesus Christ, and one reason he left heaven and came into the world was so we could know what God is like. He proved he was God by doing something no one else had ever done, or ever will do: He conquered death’s power and came back from the grave.
Do you want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus Christ as he is found in the Gospels of the New Testament. And when you do, you’ll discover not only that God exists, but that he loves you and has opened the way for you to be with him in heaven forever. The Bible says, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18).
By a simple prayer of faith, confess your doubts and your sins to God, and then ask Jesus Christ to come into your life — and he will. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). 
 The Bible will remove any doubts about the Christian God's existence? Really? Well, if that's the case, let me share some more breaking news!

The Bible has two testaments? Isn't that cute.
The Qur'an will remove all doubts about the existence of Allah!

The Egyptian Book of the Dead removes all doubt about Set, Ra, Horus and the rest!

The Greek traditions remove all doubt about Zeus and his pantheon!

The Norse stories will make you sure about Odin, Thor, Loki and the others!

The Upinishads and Mahaburata show Krishna and Ganesha true beyond all doubt!

The Tripitaka Proves the Buddha beyond all doubt!

The Kojiki and Nihongi are irrefutable proof of the  truth of Shintoism!

The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will reveal you to him noodley truth!

As I hope you can see, we could make the very same argument that Billy Graham is making for every singe religion there has ever been. What all these books (and the Bible) have in common, is that none have ever been found to be 100% historically and factually accurate. And even if we were to relax out standards, the Bible isn't even mostly accurate. So When Graham references the Bible when he mentions Jesus and his resurrection, he's really not saying much at all. He's just repeating a story. A story that is a fable as far as the facts are concerned. So he is speaking so surely of hearsay, and trying to sell it as truth. In my opinion, that's dishonest.

But as for his actual advice to AP... To read the Bible. In a way, I hope he does it. I hope he sits down and reads it cover to cover. No study guide, no one twisting the meaning of verses. Just him, the
book, and an honest and unbiased understanding. I hope he does this because, in a way Billy Graham is right... reading the Bible can make you sure about God's existence. But not in the way Graham thinks, because when honestly read, the Bible has probably created more atheists than any other book.


-Brain Hulk

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Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/18/4561485/the-bible-can-wipe-away-your-doubts.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/18/4561485/the-bible-can-wipe-away-your-doubts.html#storylink=cpy
 
 

Monday, October 21, 2013

A rather impotent god

A reader asks Billy Graham if he's met anyone that didn't believe in God, and then concludes that they on;y said they were an atheist to 'sound smart'. Then Graham goes on to continue that same cluelessness...
God has done everything he can to reveal himself to us

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Have you ever met anyone who absolutely did not believe in God? I’ve met some people who claimed to be atheists, but after talking with them I decided they only said they were atheists because they thought it made them sound smart. — M.G.


DEAR M.G.: Yes, over the years I’ve met some people who not only claimed to be atheists, but also sincerely believed that God did not exist.
 
But notice that I said they “believed” God didn’t exist — because if they were honest, they had to admit to me that they couldn’t prove it. The best they could do was say that they had never found him. But what if they’d been looking in the wrong place, or in the wrong way? In other words, atheism is based not on facts, but on faith — a faith that God doesn’t exist.

Like you, I’ve found that some people who claimed they didn’t believe in God weren’t really sincere; they just thought it made them sound smarter than people who believe in God. But more often, I’ve found, they didn’t believe in God simply because they didn’t want to — because they wanted to be free to run their own lives.

The Bible warns, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Why does the Bible say an atheist is a fool? One reason is because someday every one of us will die and meet God, and they will be left without hope. But the Bible also says atheists are foolish because God has done everything possible to reveal himself to us. He did this most of all by becoming a man: Jesus Christ. Do you want to know not only that God exists, but also shat he loves you? Look at Christ.
ead more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/20/4561443/god-has-done-everything-he-can.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/18/4561485/the-bible-can-wipe-away-your-doubts.html#storylink=cpy
The oddness of this one starts right with the title... 'God has done everything that he can'? Excuse me, but I was always taught that God was omnipotent. That there is literally nothing that he can't do. So, 'everything he can do' shouldn't even be part of the Abrahamic god's vocabulary. And if he really had done everything that he can do, guess what? We would all be believers. Obviously we're not, and many believe in other gods, so either your god is so powerless that his only means of communication is a very poorly written old book, or he has a sick sense of humor. Or, you know... he doesn't even exist.

Then MG decides to get a bit snarky. Granted, a little snark can be funny, but this case illustrates his ignorance. Yes, we just say that we don't believe to sound smart... Because there's nothing smarter than labeling oneself as some sort of outcast. It's so smart to just state a position that gets so many thrown out of their homes, disowned by family, or even abuse at the hands of those they thought they could trust. It's smart to own your beliefs only to have the close-minded just instantly judge you and turn away... even those that you considered to be friends. And if we secretly did believe (as is being insinuated) would deifying the god we supposedly secretly believe in, be a smart thing to do? Sorry MG, but we say we don't believe, because we actually don't believe. There's really no more to it than that.

And then Billy goes off the deep end... He rightly claims that we can't be absolutely certain that there is no God. Okay, fair enough. That's not what atheism is claiming. But guess what, you also can't be absolutely sure that there IS, a God. Last I checked, no person was omniscient. So you could also be wrong. So let's call that part even and more on.

Then here's the doozey. He claims that 'atheism is not built on facts, but on faith - a faith that God does not exist'. No... Not even close. All Graham has done here is show that he has absolutely no idea what atheism even is.

Atheism is not a faith that there is no God. All it is, is the lack of belief in gods. That means that even if you have never even heard of any gods, you are an atheist. Why? Because you lack belief. Babies are born lacking belief, and that would technically make them non-believers as well. In no way is atheism a faith that there is no God. When asked the question if you believe in God, if you answer in any way other than 'yes', you are an atheist. That means those that say 'I don't know', just as well as 'no'. This is because both groups lack belief in God. And before anyone claims that the 'I don't know' group and agnostic, we are talking strictly about belief here, not knowledge. Agnosticism answers a different question that atheism, which is why I'm an agnostic atheist.

Of course Graham concludes that many 'atheists' simply don't want to believe or so they can live their lives. Let's first realize that we can't choose what we believe. You either believe something or you don't. Sure, there may be some who claim to be atheist for the reasons Graham mentions, but I've never met one. And if I did, and knew their reasoning, I wouldn't consider them an atheist since they actually did believe. But let's remember this important point. Atheism makes no distinction on why people don't believe. Maybe some don't believe because of life events. Some don't believe because of reality that's been revealed by science. There are those that simply aren't convinced by the claims of their church or the Bible. There are even those that wish it was all true, wish they could believe, but they can't. So Billy, tell me how someone that want's to believe but doesn't is somehow also steadfast in some strange faith that there is no God?

I can tell you that I wanted it to be true. I wanted to believe that I would never die. But Christianity just didn't stand up to scrutiny. Scientific explanations made more sense, and I just couldn't devote my life to something that failed every single test along the way and all the evidence was and is, or the side of science. But, no... Graham say that God has done everything that he can. So considering how little it would have taken in order to continue to believe, you're God must be pretty damn weak.

And he closes with Psalm 14:1... "The fool says in his heart, There is no God."Then he says that we are fools because we will one day stand before God.  Well, what about Matthew 5:22?
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
So... You might want to be careful who you're calling a fool, Billy. But more importantly, you speak as if there is absolute certainty that you are correct and have pinned your hopes on the correct god. So who's the fool if you die and find yourself before Odin or Ganesh, Mr. Graham?


-Brain Hulk

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Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/20/4561443/god-has-done-everything-he-can.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/20/4561443/god-has-done-everything-he-can.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, October 18, 2013

Genocide for kids

I don't know about you, but when I was a little boy attending CCD, the way that certain passages were presented is rather disturbing when I think about it now. Take the stork of Noah's Ark for
example...

When I was taught the story of Noah and his floating zoo, it was actually told as a happy and joyous tale. A cartoon caricature at best. God comes to Noah, tells him to build a boat. Somehow the guy throws the craft together without a hitch and all these cute cuddly animals start walking in two-by-two. It rains, everybody on the Ark is all smiles, and then at the end a happy Dove finds a tree and everyone just walks out into a sunny happy place. But they always completely left out the part where God kills everyone and everything else...

Seriously? Talk about whitewashing and papering over a truly ghastly story! No, it isn't a story full of smiles and happiness. It's a story of murderous genocide! I suppose the point is somewhat moot, since the story the Bible tells never happened. But it genuinely bothers me that churches celebrate this story and try to spoon feed it to impressionable children like it's some sort of happy Pre-K cartoon.

If children's Bibles where honest.
www.awkwardmomentsbible.com
Where my picture book Bible showed smiling people and animals on the Ark as is floats on calm seas, the Biblical version is actually quite different. If this had actually happened the Ark would be surrounded by the floating bodies of the scores and scores of people and animals that God mercilously drowned. Why is it that the children's Bibles I had always left out the floating dead? Because it's gruesome? Because it's not appropriate for children? You know what? I actually agree. I agree because the Bible is not appropriate for children!

And what about when the Ark landed and God sent down a rainbow as the Ark landed on a green hilltop with the tree the Dove had found? Unsurprisingly, this is another fabrication and misrepresentation aimed at trapping young minds. If the flood actually happened, there would be no grassy hill or green tree on a hill. Remember, the Earth was supposed to have been flooded for an entire year. The grass would be dead, and the tree stripped bare and lifeless. Rather than there being a grassy green hill, there would have been a peak of muddy slop.
Pay no attention to the dead bodies strewn everywhere.

Also, lets not forget all those dead bodies. Noah wouldn't have found a clear green pasture, but the
randomly scattered and rotting carcases of man and beast alike. Funny that my CCD classes left out the piles of dismembered bloated corpses... I wonder why. Just think, we could see Noah find land, grab a push broom and start clearing a path through all the stinking death only to find his way blocked by the torn open carcass of a great whale. Smiles all around! Oh wait... scratch that... that would actually scare the hell out of a little kid. Dead bodies strewn all about isn't really G rated... Which is why the Bible shouldn't be forced on children!

Aside from the physical omissions, lets not forget the fact that I, and so many other were taught that God cruelly killed almost every person and animal on Earth... and it was a good thing. A good thing that we should all celebrate. Sorry, but I don't see how global genocide can be sugar coated into an act of kindness. I just can't. Even if this god that they were all sinful and beyond redemption, isn't that what he has Hell for? And what did they do that was so bad? God's standards aren't really all that great. Take the family he saved for example. He had Noah present him animal sacrifices after the flood, not to mention his plan for repopulating the earth post-flood was for nothing more than incest, incest, and more incest. Sorry, but at this point I have to call God's judgement into question. And what about all the dead animals? What the hell did they do? Or are we to just assume they are collateral genocidal damage?

World floods, Egyptians don't notice.
When you look at the ghoulish truth that is the Biblical story of Noah, I can't help but notice how stark the contrast is between the two. It's yet more lying to children simply to bolster their numbers. Here's a tip... If you have to lie about your beliefs in order make them appealing to potential converts, that should tell you something about how poor those beliefs are.




Bonus thought: How the hell did Sloth get to the Ark? Even if we are to assume a land bridge that allows travel in a straight line, it would take them years to get there. Sloth on average travel at 6.5ft/min. They likely had to travel somewhere around 7,500 miles. So if they don't stop for food drink or sleep, it would take about 11.6 years to cover that distance. But they sleep about 10hours a day. So without stopping for food or water, the journey would now take about 19.8 years. Then consider that Sloth live about 10-20 years in the wild (And that's with a fairly slow paced lifestyle. I imagine a life-long marathon would slash that figure dramatically.) and you see that they would already be up against their lifespan limits. Perhaps a
They say I walked how far?!?
creationist would say that the Sloth would reproduce on the go. And the offspring would continue the journey from there. It's an interesting argument. But we must remember that an adult Sloth is a sitting duck outside of a rainforest, let alone a juvenile one. It's very likely that they wouldn't survive even a fraction of the proposed journey. The idea that Sloth simply marched to the Ark and hopped on board is simply unreasonable.



-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Deadly superstition

Halloween is quickly approaching, and while I enjoy the holiday, it reminds me of a sad fact. That fact is that far too many people still believe in silly superstitions. Sometimes superstitions can be harmless, like those that think that whether they sit on their sofa a certain way or if they wear their team jersey will effect the outcome of their team's football game.

I can't help but view that brand of superstition as humorous. Yet, the came kind of thinking can often be deadly for an innocent and unfairly maligned group... Black cats.

We have all heard the superstition that it's bad luck to cross a black cat's path. And this month, we will see black cats presented as stalking beings, with arched backs in fear, or simply as the companions of witches. Once upon a time the ancient Egyptians worshiped cats... even the black ones. But when the middle-ages rolled around, it all went pear-shaped for our feline friends.

Why? Witches. Yeah, people (fueled by the church) believed that there where witches, and that black cats where either their familiar, or the witch herself transformed into the form of a black cat. Because of this, black cats became feared as well as vilified. Over the years, the reasons have slowly changed,
but to far too many, the black cat still symbolizes bad luck.

What's the big deal? Why do I care? Let me give you an example. My wife and I were at the pet  store recently, and the humane society was there doing a cat adoption drive. As we walked by we saw four black cats in cages, and probably six or more empty cages. We mentioned that it was a shame that these last four cats likely won't be finding a home today, since they were about ready to start packing up for the day.

That's when the women working the event heard our comment and told us that the day actually started out very well. All the other cats found homes quickly. But as soon as all the non-black cats were adopted off, interest suddenly dropped. Some families had even approached with interest in adopting a feline friend, but turned away as soon as they found out they only had black cats left. Not the slightest consideration to adopting a black one.  It's sad really.

And it's something that is sadly far too common. If you ask just about anyone working in the pet rescue industry, they will tell you that black cats are almost always the last to be adopted, and well as the first to be euthanized. Why? Because some people are still childish enough to think that black cats are bad luck, or even agents of Satan (I wish I was making this up).

My wife and I have a black cat (as well as other), and after seven years, she has not tried to suck out our souls, killed us, or delivered us to Satan. And if she's a witch in disguise, she's a pretty poor one since the other cats never meet much resistance when they mess with her.

This is obviously what pure concentrated evil looks like...
One of our other cats is a orange and while long hair. My parents have his brother, who is an all black
cat. My parents are still alive and well after six years, and if anything, the orange and white brother that we have is much more of a trouble-maker. Black cats are unfairly singled out for their color, and if they were humans, we'd say that they were to victims of racism.

But the cars as they are show us that they are the victims of silly superstitions, and unfairly so. So if you want to adopt a cat, please consider a black cat as a possibility. To many prospective adopters end up not adopting at all just because their options at the moment are black cat, or no cat. Don't let 'no cat' be your choice and send what could be a loving companion be to a premature end.


-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Jesus: real estate agent?

Next up, ZP writes Billy Graham wondering why is big move has left him lonely. And Billy is Billy and gives his usual presumptuous reply.
Seek God's will before you make important decisions

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I got a new job and moved to a big city because I thought it would be exciting to be around so much activity, but I’ve never been so lonely. I haven’t made even one friend here. Why did God let me make such a big mistake? — Z.P.

DEAR Z.P.: Did you honestly seek God’s will and ask him to guide you before you made the decision to move? Or did you simply go ahead and make this decision on your own, and hope that somehow God would bless it?
Only you can answer this, of course, but I hope you will, because it could keep you from making the same mistake in the future. You see, God loves you; he made you and put you here, and he deeply cares what happens to you. That’s why you can turn to him and seek his will as you make decisions, instead of trying to impose your will on him. The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes” (Proverbs 3:5-7).
What should you do now? First, if you have never done so, turn to Jesus Christ and put your life into his hands. When you do, God will come to live within you by his spirit, and he will make you a member of his family forever. When we know Christ, we are never alone, because he is with us.
Then ask God to lead you to a church in your city where Christ is preached and lived. Not only will you grow in your faith, but you’ll meet others who love God and want to be your friend.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/10/4542138/seek-gods-will-before-you-make.html#storylink=cpy
 There's a surprise... Billy Graham assuming again. I suppose he'll never learn. ZP gets a new job, moves to the city, but can't seem to make friends. Graham's answer is to say, "Did you ask God first?" Really? The guy is wondering why God let him make to more. He then asks a religious advice column a non-religious question (Why can't I make friends?) and you assume he isn't religious, or didn't ask God what he should do. I know I risk sounding like a broken record here, but anyone valuing Billy Graham's opinion is probably pretty damn religious. 

How does he know if ZP did ask God if he should take the job and move. If he's asking God why he let him move, and asking Graham this question, it's pretty likely he may have. Perhaps he 'asked God' and received a 'sign' that he precised as God giving him the green light. That's the funny thing with
confirmation bias. Somehow 'God' always wants what you want, likes what you like, and hates what you hate. So is it so hard to believe that he did ask for guidance, and then found a 'sign' that made him think that God was telling him to go for it?

And once more he's pressing on without knowing nearly enough to give helpful advice. ZP never mentions how long ago he moved. Maybe he expects too much, too soon. We also don't know what he has tried. Does he socialize after work? Does he go to social events and mingle? Did he look up local people with similar interests on meetup.com? Or is he just trying to make friends with co-workers? We know none of this. Maybe he is very religious and just expects God to grant him new friendships? Until we know more, it's very hard to help ZP out. 

Billy is also ignoring the possibility that ZP is the problem. It sounds like ZP came from a small town (which tend to be more religious on average). There is the distinct possibility that he is approaching new co-workers asking if they've heard the 'good news', or is always saying Jesus this, and God that. Christian or not, that approach will make most people take a step back. If this is the case, telling ZP that he needs more Jesus will only hinder his search for friends more. If ZP is as religious as he
sounds, finding a church does sound key for him. But I would think that would be the first place he'd look. But maybe he's a member of a smaller sect, or sect that isn't represented in his new home. What if he left rural PA, and is a Mennonite? But now a Mennonite church is nowhere to be found where he now lives.

So, don't ask God why you can't make friends. Actually, don't ask God anything. He's not there and never was. Instead make informed choices, and take responsibility for your choices. Do that and ZP should be able to make himself more at home in his new town.


-Brain Hulk

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Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/10/4542138/seek-gods-will-before-you-make.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dirtbag Columbus

Today is Columbus Day here in the states, and after seeing all the Columbus sales, Columbus this,
Columbus that, I just have to say something. Christopher Columbus was a horrible person that doesn't even deserve to have a federal holiday in his name.

"But he discovered America!" Some will say. No... no he didn't. Columbus set sail to find a trade route to Asia. He never found it though (but if you asked him, he contended until his death that he did). Columbus did not find America on his search for Asia. Rather, he landed in the Bahamas. In all his trips, he also sailed to Santo Domingo, Jamaica, Hati, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Venezuela. So tell me... Why does someone who never even set foot on the land that would become America, have an American holiday?

And even if he had landed in America, he still wouldn't deserve a holiday. Why? Columbus' first voyage was in 1492. Between 1499 and 1502, Amerigo Vespucci also sailed to the area now called South America. Unlike Columbus, Vespucci rightly concluded that this land mass was not Asia at all. In fact, America gets his name from Amerigo. Sure, he was a few years after Columbus, but at least he knew what he 'found'.

But more Importantly, there was Leif Ericson. Leif was a Norse explorer that found North America some 500 years before Columbus' first voyage. Leif set landed in North America in the year 1000. But even though he was the first European to set sail for and set foot in the Americas, even he wasn't the first to find this land. That honor falls on Bárdi Herjólfsson. Another Norse who accidentally found North America in 986 when he was blown of course when searching for Greenland. He did
sight land, but did not stop to explore this new land. Instead, it was his story that inspired Leif Ericson to embark on his American journey. So why the hell don't we celebrate Leif Ericson Day, or Herjolfsson Day?

Finally, Columbus doesn't deserve a holiday when you consider his character. In Fourteen-hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. And when he reached land, the natives were screwed. No sooner did he set foot on land, did he start enslaving the natives. And when he wasn't enslaving the natives, he was taking all their gold. When he would return to Spain, he'd load up on gold and slaves. Of course, most of the natives died on the voyage, and most were killed off in their home land as well. When Chris was all done, the lands he visited were left dead and destroyed.

"But he discovered that the Earth was round!" No, no, no, no, no! No one in the 1400's thought that the world was flat. In fact the Greek scholar Eratosthenes not only showed the world to be round, and even circulated it's circumference all the way back in 250 BCE. That's almost 1,750 years before Columbus set sail.

So to recap, Columbus was a horrible person that never set foot in America, was adamant that he found what he obviously didn't find, killed freely, had amazing greed, and didn't prove anything. And to boot, his theft of the natives gold actual kick-started the African slave trade to boot. He did absolutely nothing to earn a US holiday. Yet here we are... So next year, do like me and wish people a happy Leif Ericson Day instead.


-Brain Hulk

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Root of all evil?

A reader writes Billy Graham to ask if it's wrong to think about money so much. Let's strap in for
Billy's good old brand of Christian hypocrisy.
Money should be servant, not master

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I know the Bible says we’re not supposed to be thinking about money all the time, but I’ve been fairly successful in my business, and I admit it’s all I think about. But why is that so wrong? Doesn’t God expect me to take care of my family? — D.S.
DEAR D.S.: Yes, of course God wants you to provide for your family; He gave them to you, and you have a God-given responsibility to do all you can to provide for their needs. The Bible urges everyone “to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for urgent needs” (Titus 3:14).

But God also doesn’t want us to constantly worry about money or make it the most important thing in life. When that happens, money becomes our master instead of our servant — and before we know it, other things get crowded out. In our frantic search for financial security, we end up ignoring the needs of others and sacrificing time with our families and friends.

Most of all, we lose sight of God and our need to trust him. We think everything depends on us, and we lose sight of our dependence on him. What others think of us becomes more important than what God thinks of us, and we forget that everything we are and everything we have comes from him. No wonder the Bible warns that “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).

Has this happened to you? Stop and evaluate your life — and then open your heart and mind to Christ, and make him the foundation of your life and your family. Then be grateful to God for all he’s given you, and ask him to help you use your money wisely, and for his glory.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/06/4529458/money-should-be-your-servant-not.html#storylink=cpy
 DS, it's not wrong to think about or even worry about money. However, I don't think it's healthy for
that to be the only thing one thinks about. It can be fine to worry about money, as it's natural to want to provide for one's family as best they can. But again, money shouldn't be the chief and only concern.

But that's not for the reasons that Graham offers. He opines that money is the root of all evil. But I have a very different take. Rather, I think that money being number one in your life is negative because it signals a misplacement of one's priorities. You love your family and want to take care of them. That's understandable. But your love for them should never be replaced by your love of money. That's the chief concern. And don't focus more on God, than anything else like Billy says. If you do that, you're just putting your family second again.

And loving your family more than money isn't important because of some odd idea that money is evil. It's simple priorities. In my opinion, it is better to be loved, but have less money, that to be rich and alone.

But let's move on to the hypocrisy... Money is declared to be the root of all evil, yet when I was a Catholic, the church expected you to give a minimum of 10% of your income to them. If money is so evil, they shouldn't be asking for it. What about televangelists that openly tell you to send them money so that God can bless you? Then look at the Vatican. More often than not, the pope has worn a golden hat, and sat on a golden throne (Granted, Francis has seemed a somewhat more humble anomaly). Not to mention the gold emblazoned chapels and other structures. Money is so bad, but give it all to us! ...then again, the Catholic church is pretty damn evil. Hmm...

Then there is Billy Graham himself. He has a net worth Twenty-five million dollars! If money and the love of it is the root of all evil, that Billy is one evil sucker! So Mr. Graham, what say you?

I'm so humble... By the way, did I show you my solid gold book?
But in all seriousness, money isn't and needn't be some automatic source of evil. Case in point, Bill Gates. Mr. Microsoft is one of the world's richest people at a worth of $72.7 billion! On top of that, he is also an atheist. So, he must be the devil on Earth, right? Nope. In fact, Gates is none other than the world's most generous philanthropist. Doesn't sound like gobs and gobs of money made Gates evil, so why the assumption that it (and much less) will make DS evil and lose sight of what's important.

It's not how much money that you have that matters, but what you do with it, and where it ranks in your life. Be not afraid of it. Rather, be happy for what you have, and cherish the things that really matter.



-Brain Hulk

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Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/06/4529458/money-should-be-your-servant-not.html#storylink=cpy
 
 
 
 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Holiday double standard

A couple of story's caught my attention recently, and not for the right reasons. Not one, but two Halloween displays have come under threat, and not for very good and consistent reasons.

The first is in Midlothian, VA. A family's Halloween decorations have come under fire because a sole person found it 'offensive'. So what if they found it offensive. No one has the right to not be offended. But it makes me wonder... What did he find so offensive?

The object of his offense was none other than the inclusion of a fake electric chair, complete with a seated and hooded 'inmate' about to meet his final fate. So... what's the big deal? It is Halloween after all...
"To any passersby it looks like a dead man," said the viewer who wished to remain anonymous. "How am I supposed to explain that to my kids while we wait at the red light? I shouldn't have to. It is tasteless and extremely offensive. I urge you to investigate and see why this kind of display is acceptable in our lovely community."
And the shitty parent of the year award goes to... Hey Hr. Obvious, it's part of a Halloween display. No one actually thinks a state execution is taking place in someones front yard. And what are you going to tell your kids? First off, almost any kid that knows it is an electric chair will know it's a decoration. Those that don't know will view it the same as everything else they've never seen or heard of before. So they might be curious, but not scared.


But suppose your child is aware of what an electric chair is, but doesn't realize it's fake. How about using it as a parenting opportunity. Tell him/her that he was a bad man, and that's what hapens when you break the law. Or try something really daring and tell them the truth. I know what you're saying... "Tell my son that the fake execution is fake? What are you, crazy?". If telling the truth is crazy, I'm guilty as charged.

But the worst part of the 'what will I tell my kids' excuse is that it shows how irresponsible of a parent you are. Sorry, but the rest of the world isn't there to do that job for you. How will you explain that Halloween display to your kid? What about when you took your kid to church for the first time? How did you explain the giant statue of Jesus being tortured to death? If you can explain that satisfactorily, a Halloween decoration should be easy. And what about cemeteries? Do you demand they be bulldozed or a high fence raised? After all, one of your kids might point and ask what a grave stone is. Then you'll be faced with having to explain death. Please, just quit your whining, and try to be a real parent for a change.

Finally, some are calling this display a 'disturbance in the area'. Sorry, but if their display is a disturbance, then the house that puts up a 15ft tall inflatable snowman, or those with animated inflatable Christmas displays are 'a disturbance' too. Funny how no one takes those up with the county in hopes of having them removed.


The second, and a real loss, is the Haunted Garden in Silver Spring, MD. Due to a challenge and temporary restraining order, the Haunted Garden will not take place this year, even though no laws are being violated.

Why? A minority of neighbors (most of the neighbors actually love it) raised a fuss in a apparent need to ruin the fun for everyone. The Haunted Garden was (and hopefully will be again) a five day display that people could experience free of charge. But what are the argument against it?

But not all of Kerr’s neighbors look forward to the annual five-night event, which they say is neither trick nor treat but a big, fat hassle, with traffic and parking headaches on their narrow streets and general disruption caused by the estimated 500 visitors a night.
First off, many of the neighbors have gone on record to state that the traffic and parking issue is being greatly exaggerated by the complainant. But lets assume there is extra traffic and less parking.  How is this any different than when someone has an elaborate Christmas display set up? When there are Christmas displays on the scale of the Haunted Gardens, people stop, look, take pictures. Maybe even take in a live nativity recreation. If the Haunted Gardens had to cancel this year due to a challenge, then surely the county will shut down large scale Christmas displays as well, right?... Somehow I don't see that happening.
On Friday afternoon, the county went to court and argued that the Haunted Garden would endanger residents and cause “immediate, substantial and irreparable harm to the County.” It raised particular concern about pedestrians crossing busy Sligo Creek Parkway at night to get to Kerr’s home, which is one block off the parkway.
Again, how is this any different than a big Christmas display? People cross streets in the dark to look at Christmas lights. So they should pull those down too? What of houses covered head to toe in Christmas lights that blink in unison to Christmas music? That's no different than this Halloween display. So is an overboard Christmas display also cause “immediate, substantial and irreparable harm to the County?” We actually have a house around the corner that lights every square inch of their house, yard and trees from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years. If a five day Halloween display is so, bad than this much be so much worse! Sadly, I have a hard time believing that the same judge would order that the Christmas lights be unplugged. No consistency at all.


So while the first display has been allowed to remain, the second has been forced to cancel. Even though inspectors found that it was all in keeping with the sound and lighting ordinances in the area (they did have to remove a sign). But legality doesn't matter to some apparently. I don't care for the house around the corner that goes way overboard on the lights. But I also don't complain. Why? Because they aren't breaking the law, and neither was the Haunted Garden. Sadly that didn't seem to matter to some. I may be going out on a limb here, but I have to wonder if the initial complaint was by an overly Christian person who (wrongly) thinks Halloween is the devil's holiday. I very well could be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised... I just hope that the Haunted Garden will be allowed to return next year.



-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

His Dark Materials = Shining Triumph

This entry will be a bit different than usual. A few weeks ago I finished up reading the first work of fiction I've read since the Bible. What I read was the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy written by Philip Pullman. I must say that I quite enjoyed it and if anyone is thinking or reading The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, or The Amber Spyglass, I suggest you stop reading here, fore there shall be spoilers
mentioned.

My first introduction to this series actually came years ago when The Golden Compass was made into a major motion picture. All I knew about the film, I knew from the trailer. The Harry Potter and Narnia films were also popular at that time and we had seen and enjoyed them, so we gave The Golden Compass a shot. And I'm happy we did. It was quite enjoyable, and the ending left it obvious that a sequel was planned... something I would have already known if I had done my homework and saw it was the first of a trilogy of books.

The Golden Compass actually won  an Academy Award for 'achievement in visual effects', and given the top name actors of Daniel Craig and Nichole Kidman, I eagerly awaited and expected the next film's release. Alas, that second installment never came. Why? Although it did well overseas, it didn't fare too well domestically. And the Catholic freaking church had quite a role in making that happen. You see, Pullman (like me) is an atheist. So they started out wary, which is a shame. I wonder if they have a problem with he works of Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain as well?...

But the church actually told their congregations to actually boycott the movie. We found that out when we returned home from the movie, and my mother-in-law asked what we had gone to see, and when we told her she exclaimed "But we're boycotting that!" When we asked why so said, "Because they kill God in that movie!". Apparently God is so fragile that a movie will do him in? Not too impressive if you ask me. But we replied by reassuring her that God wasn't even in the movie we just saw, let alone killed. When I read the books later I would learn what the church too so much issue with to order a boycott. But I'll return to that later. Let me just say that they way over reacted and that my mother-in-law was fed some bad information by her church.

So, to the books... I needed a break from the books on science, theology and atheism that i had been reading each night as I'm settling in for bed. So after looking for suggestions, I ordered a nice box set of Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy from Barnes and Noble. The first thing I noticed that the set was very nicely put together and will fit in very nicely on our bookcase that is swiftly reaching capacity. But the real reward came when I began reading the story.

The Golden Compass was far better than the movie that I had actually enjoyed. However, if I had read the book prior to watching the film, my opinion might be slightly less positive toward the movie. The truth is that they left a lot out of the movie, and changed plot points as well. Not trivial things either. They left out an important bits that really made the book. Bits that would be a main story line throughout the story, rushed things, dumbed them down, and even hacked the end of the book off of the movie.I understand that they were trying to make the movie into the 'other Narnia'. But by doing so, they ruined it. It was still good, but far short of what it could have been.

I can understand some of the things they left out to a degree. they wanted to give the film the widest audience possible, so that meant making it kid friendly. But this was very short sighted. They could have gotten away with it in the first film, but I really don't feel there was anyway they could have sanitized the other books to be suitable for young children while also preserving any of the story's integrity.

They left out Dr. Grumman's supposedly severed head. This removed the is he/isn't he dead question surrounding someone who would latter be a very important character. They swapped the order of some events around, they changed who was going to poison Asriel. They have plot points seemingly spoon fed to Lyra at random, Lyra's prophesy was left out, and the dramatic ending of the book is hacked off and replaced with a much different, more tidy ending. In hindsight, the film was quite rushed and killed the beauty of the way the books mysteriously and smoothly progress.

It was a story of commitment, honor, friendship, growth, adventure and even love. All of the characters grew throughout the book. And all too often we had to say goodbye to some of them. There where parts that i predicted in advance, like the true nature or Asriel and Mrs. Coulter as Lyra's true parents. That Grumman and Will's father were not only alive, but one in the same! That Lyra's world's 'dust' is our 'dark matter'. That Will cut into the world of the Mulefa when he opened the door out of the world of the dead. And that Will and Lyra would fall in love. But the story was told so well and developed in
such a way that these realizations did not spoil or take away from the story one bit.

Back to the bits that the Catholic church was in a hissy about. In the story the Authority (God) is actually just the oldest of the angels. He came in to being just as everything else, and actually created nothing. That didn't stop him from taking credit though. But he was a non-interventionist god, so he was actually more of a deist god. As he aged and weakened his Regent, the angel Metatron wanted to take control. He wanted to be the new authority and wanted to rule the worlds directly, intervening in the realm of humans (in negative ways). Not to mention creating the world of the dead. A bleak place that all find themselves in. No Heaven. No Hell. Just someplace that is more like Hell in a physiological way (no fire and brimstone) for everyone.

So Metatron imprisoned 'God' in an unbreakable crystal prison and took control. Metatron met his end when Lyra's parents tricked him and sacrificed themselves to plunge him into the abyss, but I doubt that this is the part that had the church upset. After all, this was the angel the imprisoned God that was killed, and not 'God' himself. However, in The Amber Spyglass, Lyra and Will do happen upon an old angel locked in a great crystal that is weeping and wanting to be set free. Will cuts the prison open with the subtle knife and sets him free. The angel is happy and smiles knowing that he is
free, he is too weak and too old to live outside of his prison, but happily dissolves and returns to the energy of the world.

So yes, 'God' does die in the final book, but he is not killed. Rather he is rescued and set free of his suffering. I fail to see why that garnered so much offense. Plus, it is a fictional book for crying out loud! I'm no freaking out that someone wrote a book and movie where President Lincoln was a vampire hunter. It's fiction, and clearly so. It's not like they are trying to teach that Lincoln hunter the undead in history classes. Actually, maybe I shouldn't give Texas any ideas...

In the end the book is bittersweet. Will and Lyra save all the worlds and fall in love. But shortly after they realize their shared love, they find that they are faced with a choice. All the worlds have to be sealed off again, and they will only live ten years outside their home world. They either have to watch their loved one die early before them, risk the well-being of every world by leaving a window open or continue windows every few years, or sacrifice their new love for the well-being of all and forever part. They choose the latter which leads to a bitter-sweet ending that leaves you wanting to bargain on Will and Lyra's behalf and wanting for much much more.

So I am now about to read the short companion books Ounce Upon a Time in the North, and Lyra's Oxford as I am desperately hungry for more of this great story. They won't advance the plots that I want them to, but any scraps I can find are better than nothing. Additionally, Pullman is currently working on A Book of Dust. It isn't supposed to continue the original series, but exactly what it will contain isn't exactly clear. None-the-less, I shall be eagerly awaiting it's release.

So if you know anyone interested in reading these books, I would highly recommend them. I could actually see myself re-reading them in a year or so. Or if you know a Catholic that is loosing their shit over a fictional movie tell them to calm down and to stop over reacting. Actually, many believers have been able to read this series and retain there belief, while also enjoying the books. If anyone regards these books as a threat to their faith, that actually speaks much higher of the fragility of their faith than the supposed 'dark nature' of these great books. So sit back, read them, an enjoy them. I know I did.


-Brain Hulk

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