Friday, November 29, 2013

Black (and blue) Friday

Black Friday... For me, it conjures up images of people waiting outside in the cold, shoving people aside to try and get their hands on  a 'door-buster' sale, and one big question... Why? What drives these people to wait out in the cold for hours on end? Why do some of these people act like jackals
Wait, is this black Friday, or the running of the bulls?
ready to tear out each others throats?

According to, these black Friday sale events have resulted in four deaths and 67 injuries to date (Updated numbers are 7 dead and 90 injured). Shot over a parking spot, trampled to death... How can any sale really justify such atrocious behavior? The truth is that they can't.

People and stores love to talk about how great the deals are. But are they really all that great? Most of the time, they aren't. And in the rare cases that the items are incredibly discounted, there are only a hand-full available at that price. Once those are gone, you're left with the other sales, that really aren't that special. It's like ordering a filet mignon, and winding up with a hamburger... but you had to wait and hour to get it instead of five minutes.

One of the big black Friday items always seems to be TV's. People will tout the price they paid for the 52" TV they got. But there are pitfalls to be aware of. Many times they are so cheap, because they are a non name-brand TV. It may work just fine, but for how long. Sometimes they are cheaper because they are actually refurbished items or are a bare bones version. Other times still, black Friday electronics 'deals' are special models made especially for that day. They can be cheaper because they
Money saved on black Friday = $15
Medical bills = $500
Getting beat down for a 'Tickle me Elmo' = priceless?

are actually made cheaper. Inferior materials may be used. Corners may be cut. But you are paying less because you are also ultimately getting less.

And in many cases, the 'special deals' really aren't that special at all. For many items, the black Friday sale prices are actually the same sale prices that are offered at other times during the year. And if you time things right, you can even find better deals at other points through the year. All with the added benefit of worrying about being trampled or punched in the face over a plush Elmo.

Black Friday isn't even just Friday anymore. I remember when stores opened at their normal hours the day after Thanksgiving. People would still gt in line, the only difference was that they got to go into the store at 8am or 9am instead. Then stores started competing over who could open earlier. Before you knew it, stores were opening at 3am, them Midnight. This year, black Friday has now consumed part of Thursday as well. Stores near me opened up at 8pm to start their black Friday sales. Why? Is waiting a day, or even a few hours really so much to ask?
Hey, I saw that first! Now we shall fight to the death!

It does remind me of the incredible expanding Christmas season. My wife and I were surprised to see
Halloween decorations hitting the shelves at the beginning of September. I mused then whether they were starting Halloween earlier so that they could start Christmas earlier. I wouldn't have to wait long for my answer, because only a few weeks later, an portion of the Halloween section, became a Christmas section. By time October finally rolled around, Christmas and Halloween now shared equal shelf space. Each week, Halloween shrunk as if it were being devoured by the other holiday.  The week of Halloween, Christmas had all but replaced it on the shelves.

Then the day after Halloween, the Christmas carols began... Already? Two month out, and it starts already. The endless stream of holiday songs seemingly determined to drive everyone into insanity. I've joked in the past that Christmas in July would one day become a reality. That Christmas would last half the year. I now wonder if that was just a joke, because the holiday really does grow larger and longer with each passing year.

When I was young, I recall that we simply looked forward to the next holiday. We would have Halloween, then Thanksgiving was next. After Thanksgiving, we then set out sights on Christmas. Then on the 26th, we sat in wait of New Years. That's not the case anymore. Halloween now just feels
Yeah, it's pretty much like that... But with wolf/sheep/zombie
like a prelude to Christmas. Not a holiday to look forward too, but something to just get out of the way. Not a fate such an enjoyable holiday deserves. Then if you were to go off of corporate America, there's nothing between Halloween and Christmas. I think it's horrible that Thanksgiving now seems forgotten by all retailers but grocers. A historical holiday (even though the details are all wrong) resigned to a footnote. Very sad indeed.

And Christmas doesn't really even stop with Christmas anymore. It has managed to consume the entire festive period, right up to the new year. Maybe I'm just getting older, but I long for a day when we all just take one holiday at a time. A day where people don't mesh Thanksgiving with murderous consumerism. A day when holidays are days to spend with friends and family. A day to be with those you love and share that time with them. Some of your family might get on your nerves. But I'd rather entertain the boring stories of an uncle then brave the rabid hyenas known as black Friday shoppers any day.

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, November 28, 2013


In homes across America, many will be sitting down to a feast with friends and family. Any many of those people will preface their meal by thanking God for the meal and bringing everyone together. I will be getting together with family and loved ones alike, but I will not be giving thanks to any deity. While some are just thankful to God, I will be thankful for much more than the imaginary being the multitudes will thank for the cranberry sauce that will likely stay half untouched.

I may not give grace to a god, but I do feel I have much to be thankful for. I am thankful for those that actually prepared the meal before us. Be it my parents, wife or mother-in-law, hard work went into preparing a meal for all to enjoy. The table full of food did not come about of it's own making. Long hours of cooking and expertise made it happen.

I am thankful that we are lucky enough to share this meal together, while others are forced to go without. We may not be rich, but many don't realize just how good they have it. For some, the worry is whether to have turkey or ham, but there are those that don't even know where their next meal will be coming from.

I am also thankful for the men and women who grew the crops and reaped the harvest. As well as those who cared for and raised the livestock. Their long days made today's meal possible in their own way.

I am thankful for a star. One long since gone, yet who's remains we see each and every day. The death of that ancient high-mass star fortified this area of the Milkyway. I am thankful that the law of gravity caused those ingredients to coalesce as they did. Forming are small home star and the planetary system surrounding it.

I am thankful of the dawn of the first self replicators, who started off the long and unbroken evolutionary train that lead to us and all the life around us.

I am thankful for my parents. They have given me all the love and support I ever needed. All the way along my journey from a single cell, to the person I am today, they have always been there, and i love them for that.

And I am thankful for my beautiful wife. Yes, she may have played her part with today's meal. But she has given me so much more... the gift of her love. I will stand by her for the rest of my days and love her more and more with each passing year. I am so incredibly thankful that we found one another. My life has been ever changed since that day, and I never want to turn those days back.

But what is the thing that I am most thankful for? Well, it isn't really a thing, but a fact. The fact that none of this had to happen. Not the Sun, not the Earth, my experiences, those i love, and even myself. None of that ever had to come to pass. And I very easily could have not been. If the sperm that half of my genes came from had been slightly late, there would be a different me standing here in mt stead. Change one thing and the entirety or my life and my experiences could simply melt away into nothingness. Things didn't have to happen as they did, but here we are. And I think that's something to be amazingly thankful for.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

'Skirt'ing the law

This is not 'in plain sight' you damn creep!
In 2010, Michael Robertson, a Massachusetts man was arrested for taking 'up-skirt' photos of women on Boston's green line. He was charged with breaking the Peeping Tom law, but Robertson claims that he is the victim here. How? He claims that his First Amendment rights are actually being violated because talking those pictures is protected under his free speech rights. What?!

Additionally, his team argued that there is no expectation of privacy in public. So no consent is needed from those being photographed. For these reasons, Robertson is telling the Massachusetts Supreme Court that his case should be thrown out. But should it?

Hey slick... You are bad, and you should feel bad.

First of all, how the heck is taking up-skirt photos supposed to be free speech? It is true that there is no expectation of privacy , but only to a degree. Yes, you may take photos of others in public. But only of what is out in the open and reasonably visible. in short, if it's in plain sight. If a woman is wearing a skirt so short that you can see everything in an every day situation, that you may legally take a picture. Yes, it is creepy, and I personally take issue with doing such, but it would be perfectly legal. The same is also true of guys. If it's hanging out in the open, it's fair game (tasteless or not).

But there would be a difference between a skirt and say... a dress or longer skirt. In those cases there is an expectation of privacy to the area in question. It is covered up and one would have to go out of their way and leave the realm of an everyday position to take the picture. Same could be said for a

Seriously dude? Unless you're 18" tall, that's not in plain sight.

table with a long tablecloth. The tablecloth obstructs the view. In these cases it isn't in pain sight.

It's similar to a guy taking pictures into peoples houses from the street. He would get off scot-free if the windows were open. But if they had the blinds closed, and he opened them to get the shots, the case would have the opposite outcome. In this way, a longer dress, longer skirt, or table cloth is like the shut curtains of that proverbial house. So there is a line where some privacy is expected in public. It's not as simple as a cut and dry statement that all photos are fair game, as his legal team would claim. They simply aren't. It's a nuanced issue with more to consider. It's definitely not a free speech matter though.

I also hate that some are resorting to blaming the victims in this case by saying that they deserved it or were asking for it by dressing as they were. Disgusting. But how where they dressed? We do not know that fact, and it makes all the difference in this case. I have a feeling that the subject of his photos likely weren't in plain sight at all. Hopefully reason will prevail, and this guy will be convicted.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Jesus Christ CPA

Having trouble with your finances? I debt and can't figure out a way to fix it? What's the logical thing to do? Write to a religious advice column of course! Wait... what?
Seek God's guidance to straighten out finances

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I thought our money problems would go away as time passed, but they haven’t. Thankfully we both have jobs, but we still can’t seem to get out of debt. I know this isn’t a spiritual question, but would you have any advice? — K.D.
ead more here:
DEAR K.D.: Let me assure you that God is concerned about every area of our lives, including our finances. In fact, you’d probably be surprised how often the Bible talks about money and our responsibility to use it wisely.
I’m sure almost any financial adviser would give you the same advice I would: Put down your income and your expenses on a sheet of paper, then prepare a balanced budget you can live with. That will probably mean cutting out some expenses you wish you could keep, but you’ll never overcome your debts until you do. Develop a realistic budget, then stick to it, regardless of the inconvenience.

The real question you must face, however, is this: What place does money have in your lives? Is it more important to you than God? I know that’s a blunt question, but most of us have become too concerned with material things, and we could live far simpler than we actually do. Jesus warned, “You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13).

This is why the most important thing you can do is put Christ at the center of your lives, including your finances. God has blessed you in many ways; almost every day I get a letter from someone who’s without a job or struggling far more than you are. Thank God for all he has given you, then ask him to help you not only live within your income, but also to use your money wisely and for his glory.

Read more here:
 This is one of those rare cases where Billy Graham actually starts out by offering sound advice. If you are having money issues, the smart thing to do is to figure out exactly how much money you have coming in, then make a list of where it is all going. By doing this, you may find areas that you can trim back, or eliminate entirely. Maybe the answer is eating out less. Maybe they have an expensive cable TV package they can do without. Maybe the grocery bill can be cut back by buying more store-brand items. Have a gym membership you rarely use? There are all kinds of ways that one
can save money. We don't know how much debt KD is in, so there's no way of knowing if big or small changes are needed. But there likely are areas that can be trimmed back.

Then Graham decides that's enough good advice for this month, so lets blather on about some nonsense... Is money more important to KD than God? Probably not. KD is writing a religious advice column about a financial matter. So it's fairly likely that KD holds his belief very near the top of the list of his concerns.

And what of the line about 'using your money for the glory of God'? Does this mean giving to your church? Because that would be one of the first things I'd suggest cutting in household budget. When you can't make ends meet, you need to cut unnecessary expenses. Handing the church a sometimes considerable chunk of your earnings is an unnecessary expense. I know that when I was a believer, it was expected that you give a minimum of 10% of your income to the church. I don't know where KD or his wife work, but I'm sure that 10% more income would make a world of difference.

-Brain Hulk

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Day of the Doctor

Like many fellow Whovians, yesterday was a day I anticipated for some time. I donned my best Doctor Who shirt, and Chuck Taylor's and buckled in. My wife and I joined in on what ended up
being the worlds largest drama simulcast and were not disappointed in the slightest. I remain a huge fan of Tennant's iteration of the Doctor, so I was naturally very eager to see him reprise the role. That being the case, I was happy to see nods to moments in the seasons when Tennant was flying the TARDIS.

One big story point is that the Bad Wolf storyline was brought back in to frame. Now we know what was reaching out to the Doctor when Eccleston and Tennant were at the helm. Those two words, constantly reaching out to them through time. It turned up everywhere. And when we learned of the Bad Wolf Corporation, we thought that was it. Then it came back. Cropping up, again and again. When Rose was locked in the parallel dimension at Bad Wold Bay, and we saw her and the meta-crises Doctor for the final time, it seemed like that was it. But where were the messages coming from? Now we know!

That's what I thought of the 50th special too.
It was also nice to see seemingly minor things tied together. At the end of The Shakespeare Code, Martha and the Doctor meet Queen Elizabeth I. But she had met the Doctor before, and recognizes his face. She then gets cross and calls for his head. Martha and the Doctor run and muse why she is calling for the Doctor's execution. Time being all Wibbly-Wobbly, means that the future Doctor had already met the past Queen Elizabeth I. And now we know that she has a pretty good reason to be angry. Tennant's Doctor actually married her in The Day of the Doctor, then disappeared in his
TARDIS never to see her again.

And we can place where The Day of the Doctor, falls in Tennant's Doctor's timeline. At the end of The Waters of Mars, an Ood appears to the Doctor... Seemingly summoning him. Then in the next special, The End of Time: Part 1, the Doctor visits the Ood and just happens to mention that he did some traveling and got married to 'Queen Beth'. His relaxed demeanor is in stark contrast of how we had last seem him at the end of The Waters of Mars. Amazing what avoiding being responsible for the death of almost your entire species will do for a guy. Full of worry and despair to cool, calm, relaxed, and joking. And now we know how that transformation took place.

With Gallifrey not destroyed, but instead time-locked, some have suggested that The Day of the Doctor is going to start a story arch where the incoming Capaldi's Doctor goes out in search for his home world. But does he really have to? Some have also complained that this revelation changes everything about the last seven seasons of Doctor Who.  But does it?

In The end of Time: Part 2, Tennant's Doctor casually mentions that Gallifrey and the Time-Lords were not all killed, just locked in time. Quite a difference from when he was still referring to himself at the 'last Time-Lord' in The Waters of Mars. But with The Day of the Doctor, just happening in his personal timeline, it makes perfect sense. So, if you ask me, it all fits quite nicely. And will he go out in search of his people in order to rescue them? I have trouble believing that. In The End of Time: Part 2, the Master does bring Gallifrey and the Time-Lords back. But quickly sends them back because of what they had become during the Time-War. So unless they have had a sudden change of
heart, I can't see the Doctor wanting them back all of a sudden.

All in all, it was a great celebration of 50 years of Doctor Who. And the Tom Baker cameo was a nice treat. I do wish Eccleston would have made a surprise cameo as well, but it was a great show none-the-less. So now we begin the next 50 years of travel through space and time with the Doctor. Allons-y!

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Monumental waste

Last year, a Ten Commandments monument at a Pennsylvania public junior high school came under fire. Two groups rightly protested it's placement on government property, and the district is likely to move it to a local church once some legal stuff gets finalized. It's no surprise that many local Christians were more than upset with this happening. But the law's the law.

Then earlier this year a new group was formed called 'Thou Shall Not Move' (TSNM). Their response? Erect a brand new Ten Commandments monument at St. Paul's AME church in Uniontown. Let's hear what they had to say about their shiny new monument...
“We decided to stand up for Freedom of religion — not from religion. No one is going to move this stone. We will not allow it. We’ve decided to stand up for this monument and to stand up for Jesus Christ.”
 But they haven't stopped with just Uniontown. They've pressed on and donated monuments to churches all across Pennsylvania. Their goal for sending out all these 6ft x 3ft 1,600lb granite monuments? To irk and anger atheists... Wait, what?

Remember, this all started because a school had an illegally placed monument, and it's removal was requested. So the righteous Pennsylvanians thought, "We'll show that atheists! They won't take our monument!" For some reason that thought we'd care that they installed Ten Commandments monuments at churches. But why would we? They are on church property.

Perhaps someone needs to point something out to them. Atheists don't have an inherent feeling of fear and anger with regard to the Ten Commandments. Nor to them emblazoned in the form of a monument. All we care about is if that monument is placed in a location that is a site it can legally be in. These new monuments are being placed at churches... on church property, but government property. These granite slabs are being placed exactly where we think they should be.

We support the freedom of religion, as well as the separation of church and state. So we have no problem with churches displaying their symbols on their property. Such a display does not violate the separation of church and state, like a display at a public school does.

While it is funny that this group is so clueless of the fact that their act of spite completely missed the mark, it is also quite sad. That's because these monuments cost a lot of money. A lot of donations went toward this monumental waste of money. They spent all these funds to make a point, and failed. Worse yet, these funds could have gone to much better causes. How many hungry people do you think those funds could have fed instead. Sadly, this group spent these funds freely only to result in it being a total waste.

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Coke; more caring than Catholics?

As I'm sure we all know, Typhoon Yolanda slammed into the Philippines. It was one of the largest
storms ever recorded, and the death and damage estimates were astronomical. Haiyan hit land, caused horrific damage, and death toll is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 10,000.

With such a big disaster, the survivors desperately need help. Many have donated, and those donations are doing some much needed good. Well... Most of the donations are, anyway.

God the Father Foundation, Inc. has donated about 13,000 rosaries to the victims. Because, you know... rosaries are great for shelter and are oh so delicious. Every time there is a disaster, why is it that some church group has to donate Bibles of the like to the survivors, rather than food and water?

They are giving them something they don't need. They are not actually helping, but act like they are performing a service. It's especially annoying when it's not a predominately Christian country. In those cases, it's like they're saying "This happened because you're all heathens. So read this to keep it from happening again." Disgusting. They may say they are trying to provide hope. But you know what gives a person that survived something like this hope? Something that will reassure them that they won't starve or have to live out in the open. Something like food, water, or temporary shelter.

And in some alternate universe, Filipinos eat rosaries?
These groups that donate Bibles or rosaries instead of actual aid should be ashamed. And they should surprisingly, look at Coca-Cola for an example. Coke has announced that they would stop spending money on advertising effective November 18th. With Christmas just around the corner... a time when Coke does a ton of advertising. In fact, Coke's Santa and polar bear adverts have become a regular and anticipated part of the holiday season. So what would cause then to make such a surprising decision.

Coca-Cola will instead be diverting the funds toward the Philippine relief effort. So far, Coke has donated $2.5 million in cash, $600,000 in bottled water, and $1 million to the Red Cross. Sure, Coke will get a ton of great press from this, but it's still an awesome thing that they are doing. So perhaps this Catholic group that pretends to mold the moral high ground could learn a thing or two from a soft drink company.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The art of ignorance

Recently, Pastor John Hagee delivered a sermon that highlighted the fact that he just doesn't 'get it'. If this sermon he said...
You see this? This is my head. It's where I keep my
brain. I never use it though.
The Bible says, “The fool hath said in his heart ‘There is no God’.” Atheists say there is no God. Let me tell you that atheism has never painted a masterpiece. Atheism has never dispelled fear. Atheism has never healed a disease; faith in God has, but not atheism. Atheism has never given anyone piece of mind. Atheism has never dried a tear. Atheism has never given an intellectual answer to the creation. Atheism is bankrupt and empty; it’s brain dead.
Hagee is being rather simplistic by saying that atheist's say 'there is no God'. True, we don't believe in God. But not believing is not the same as ruling out the possibility 100%. Most atheists I know are open to the possibility, but also recognize that there is no evidence in favor of the God claim. Show me evidence, and I'll change my mind. I will say that there's probably no God, but I remain open-minded. Something I've not found many Christians to be.

Of course atheism hasn't done any of those things! Atheism is not a being, not anything tangible, not a person. But you you know what else hasn't done these things (despite Hagee's insistence)? Christianity and faith in God. Like atheism, Christianity and faith are not beings capable of action. They are ideas. An idea left unapplied is powerless to make change in the world. So no, atheism has not done the things he lists (save one claim), but atheists sure have!

Atheism has never painted a masterpiece? Why would this surprise anyone? Has hunger, love or any other abstract concept ever painted a masterpiece? No, they haven't... But atheists have. What of Walter Crane, Eugène Delacroix, Alfred Gilbert, and Gwen Raverat? Is Hagee claiming that Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Frank Lloyd Wright, and (my personal favorite) Claude Monet didn't create masterpieces? 

Or is Hagee simply referring to how many religious themed painting have been done by the masters of old. That is a pretty poor way to discern one's beliefs. The biggest reason there so many religious paintings is because the church was the biggest client. If the church wants paintings of Jesus, and is shelling out money for them, people are going to paint Jesus. Art is an unconventional career, but a guy has to eat one way or another.

Atheism has never dispelled fear? And Christianity has? Christianity teaches that every single person in all of history deserves to be sent to a land of eternal torment and torture, after their death. What part of automatically being in line for hellfire just for being born is reassuring? But my atheism actually has dispelled fear for me. When I was a Christian, I worried about Hell. I thought I was doing everything to keep from going there. But there was always that worry... What if I was doing something wrong and didn't even realize I was angering God? What if I missed a night of prayer? Would that count against me? Even stuff as silly as being sleepy in church because it was so early. Did God notice that I was yawning so much and almost nodded off?

But I don't have to worry about that anymore. In fact, I don't worry about death at all now. When I did, I expect to simply flicker out like a burnt out light-bulb. When I'm gone, I'm gone. No Heaven, but also no Hell. No need to worry about endless flames or lakes of fire. My only concern regarding death is to try and extend this one life as long as I can. If I die tomorrow, or fifty years from now, the outcome for me is still the same.  But in the mean-time, I want to live life, and live it well.

Atheism has never healed a disease? No kidding... And neither has Christianity or faith. But atheist doctors have healed people, just as faithful doctors have. But Christianity (and other religions) have stood in the way of healing disease. Many believes regularly protest the use of stem cells. Yet they have been used to give the blind much of their sight back, grow replacement organs, and even cure HIV and Leukemia. So tell me, who has more compassion, the (more likely to be) atheist scientist, or the religious person that stands in the way of potentially life-saving research?

Atheism has never given anyone piece of mind or dried a tear? This one is pretty much the same as the fear one. I'd say that having no fear of going to Hell is pretty good piece of mind. I also think that the knowledge that I don't have to worry that a deceased loved one might be in Hell has the power to dry tears. 

Atheism has never given an intellectual answer to creation? Um, maybe Hagee missed the bit where atheism is only the answer to whether someone believes in gods or not. It's not a religion with a creation story and a pile of other dusty old myths. Science has an answer to 'creation' though. And it just so happens that it's the only intellectual answer to date. Perhaps you've heard of it? The Big Bang Theory? You know, the one that all the evidence has supported thus far...

And then the insults come... Hagee claims that 'atheism is bankrupt and empty. It's brain dead.' How quaint... Because following evidence doesn't make any sense. But believing in a talking snake, talking donkey, a floating zoo built by a 900 year old man, light being created before a light source, that bats are birds, Pi = 3, stars can just fall to earth, and a Jewish zombie (etc) is just so smart, right? Interestingly, a look at several studies on intelligence from 1928 to 2012 found that non-believers tent to be more intelligent on average, than believers. 

I have a felling Hagee is dragging his sides numbers down. A conclusion that is supported by some of his other statements. Hagee also said this in his sermon:

It is believed that when people stop believing in God, they believe nothing. That’s wrong. When people no longer believe in God, they will believe in anything. That’s why they start hugging trees. That’s why they start staring into crystals, joining cults, running into the woods, ripping off their shirts, baying at the moon, because it’s something intellectual people do when they get frustrated.
We're the ones that will believe in anything? Remind me again who believes in talking animals and a 900 year old guy performing an impossible feat of engineering? I don't see how worrying about the environment is relevant.  I don't hug trees, but I also don't treat the world like it's just some throw away planet. Maybe Hagee doesn't care what happens to the planet after he's gone, but I do.

Staring into crystals? Not me. Actually, most atheists I know are disbelievers in all types of pseudoscientific woo as well. Maybe he's confusing us with some new-age beliefs?

Joining cults? Sorry, I've had no use for a cult since I left the cult known as Catholicism. 

Running into the woods, ripping off my shirt and baying at the moon? WTF?! Is this guy serious? Do you think I need to tell him that Teen Wolf and The Wolf Man weren't documentaries? If his description is close to any religion, some form of Pagan belief would be the closest, but still... 

Sadly, this clueless man is loaded and has a national television audience to spew this drivel to. And even more sadly, all to many of his viewers will eat his words up, believing them to be true. Believing this man to be an expert on these matters, even when his slightest utterance just goes on to prove just how ignorant and dishonest he really is.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Old-fashioned doesn't always mean moral

What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to openly tell a family member that their significant other isn't welcome? That's what this reader wrote Billy Graham about. And of course, Billy agrees that boyfriend shouldn't be welcome...
Sticking to your moral standards in not being 'old-fashioned'

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Are we just hopelessly old-fashioned, like our niece says? She just moved in with her boyfriend, and now she wants to bring him along when her family comes for Christmas. We’ve told her that she’s welcome, but not to bring the boyfriend. We don’t have a spare bedroom for him, and we refuse to approve of the way they’re living. — K.R.

DEAR K.R.: No, you’re not just being old-fashioned, but you are facing a dilemma that’s unfortunately become increasingly common today. As our society drifts further and further away from the moral and spiritual values it once held, many no longer live according to the standards God has given us in his word, the Bible.
You have every right, therefore, to uphold the moral standards you believe, even if your niece doesn’t agree with them. You also have every right to decide who will be a guest in your home. I know some families might disagree and would take a different path in a situation like this, but don’t compromise your own convictions. If you did, your niece might conclude that your moral values aren’t as strong as she thought they were.
At the same time, assure your niece of your love for her, and your concern for her future. As you have the opportunity, explain to her that you aren’t just being old-fashioned. Instead, you know — both by experience and by God’s word — that the kind of relationship she has with her boyfriend seldom lasts, but often brings only heartache and insecurity.
Above all, urge her to turn to Jesus Christ and discover his perfect plan for her life. God made us, and he knows what is best for us. Jesus’ promise is true: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Read more here:
This is a tough situation, and it's sad that there seems to be a hard line being painted here. In my opinion, KR is being old-fashioned. There could be more to this story, but the focus is being placed on the fact that they are living together. If he has a criminal history, is regularly rude, or has even stolen from the house during a previous visit, I could understand his not being welcome. But the problem is that KR's niece and boyfriend live together, and they don't have a spare room... 

To a point, I agree that it is their house, so it's their rules. But that doesn't mean that the boyfriend can't come over. Maybe KR could let them share a room, but make it clear that they are not to have sex under their roof. Or if sharing a bed is too much for them, they can put an air mattress on the floor. If they are still somehow unable to them sharing a room, maybe he can crash on a sofa, or an air bed could be placed in any room of the house.

There are plenty of options available where the niece and boyfriend can still be welcome, and KR can still be happy. How long have they been dating? They have moved in together, so it has likely been a good amount of time. They are also probably of an age where they can make reasoned decisions, since they are living on their own. Moving in together means that it is probably a serious relationship. It could very well be that they may soon get engaged. Perhaps she wanted to bring him to Christmas to announce the engagement.  Or maybe he just wants to be part of the family and share this time with everyone.

One thing for sure is that by rejecting him, they are also rejecting her. Rejecting her judgement and choices. Holding their opinion as more important that their own niece. They may think that what they are doing is a way to instil their values on their niece, but what they are really doing is driving a wedge in their relationship. I fear that their old-fashioned 'morals' will only cause hurt and division within the family... 

And it's no surprise that Graham agrees with KR. He also applies to the same outdated and sometimes troublesome 'values'. Trusting too much in a horribly flawed and immoral book. He is correct that KR has every right to decide who is welcome in his home, but he should also not be surprised if his decision cases division. The advice that KR needs to stand strong in their convictions, as to not show weakness, is like telling someone to stand right up to a bear and look it straight in the eye in order not to show weakness. Sometimes putting on a show of strength can get you in trouble. The bear may get you if you don't run or hide. Instead of shouting that the bear must leave you camp, perhaps it would be smarter to throw some food, jump in the car and leave. Likewise, maybe a compromise would be a good idea. Work out a solution where their values are still respected, but where all are welcome.

So cohabitation is bad, but Biblical these values are just dandy?
Graham also states that they need to express their love as well as their concern. But if this relationship is serious, saying he isn't welcome is a hit on her as well. They can say that they love her all they want, but their actions say otherwise. What they say is that they disprove, and don't trust her decision making abilities. Emotional damage as well as attacking the niece's intelligence in an indirect manner.

He also says that 'these kinds of relationships seldom last'. Citation please? Since religious couples get divorced more than non-religious couples, I have to question this claim. And so what if they don't work out? Living together prior to marriage can be viewed as a trial run. You get to know your partner much better than you can by just dating them. You will learn their unique ticks. You will find out what it's like to live together. You will find out if you are truly compatible to spend all your days together. And if it doesn't work out, it is still a learning experience. And opportunity for growth, wrapped up with some pleasure as well. 

And there is a benefit that Christians should love. If the relationship fails for whatever reason, that means no divorce. Shouldn't Christians be happy that they moved in together and broke up because of how one of them acts in private, rather than them getting married and then getting divorced because of how one of them acts in private? 

My wife and I didn't move into our house together until the day before our wedding. But prior to that, I stayed with her almost every weekend. In those days I really got to know her. Learn what makes her laugh, cry, and smile. How she acts when she is nervous, learn her little ticks and quirks, and what it would be like to live with her. I feel like our marriage is stronger because of it. We knew pretty much what to expect, so there weren't any rude surprises waiting for us.

Graham also casts a favorable light on following God's relationship rules. So does that mean that KR's niece's boyfriend should just rape her and give her dad some silver coins? After all, the Bible rules that he would then have to marry her. Then he'd be a part of the happy family right? Or maybe her dad should sell her off like the Bible allows? Maybe they need concubines? Maybe she should be just one of many wives to her boyfriend? These are all Biblical 'values'. 

Or maybe they should just stop inventing prohibitions that simply don't exist. Sure, there are verses that denounce sex prior to marriage. But there are none that specifically say that living together is wrong. I know it is an old-fashioned value though.

So KR... Try compromise on for size. Instead of forcing your own way, try and make room for the person your niece loves... if only for her sake. And you never know. This guy that you're so keen to cast away may be your future nephew. So try and get along instead of totally close-minded.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Religion of zero accountability

Some like to state that Christianity makes believers better people. Near the head of the reasons why is the claim that Christianity rewards good behavior. But this really isn't the case at all. This isn't a blog to discuss the fact that more prisoners are Christian than anything else. The question here, is what is it really rewarding.

Does Christianity really reward people for good behavior? Nope! Remember, it is said that all who
believe in Christ as their savior will have all their sins forgiven and gain salvation. Since your sins will be forgiven, it really doesn't matter if you sin or not. So it really doesn't matter how you live your life as a Christian. Just that you are a Christian.

But what about remorse? Surely Christianity at least rewards those that regret what they've done or have apologized to those the have wronged, right? Again, none of that matters. Do you need to feel bad about what you've done? No, you just need to believe. Do you need to make things right with those you have wronged? Nope. You don't need to gain the forgiveness of those you actually wrong. Instead you just need to accept Jesus and he will forgive you (even though he wasn't the one actually wronged).

What Christianity asks for is blind acceptance and nothing more. Accept Jesus as your lord and savior and it doesn't matter if you are as nice as can be, or a right git. Run a free soup kitchen but don't believe? Hell for you. Lead a murderous life of crime but pray to Jesus every night? Here's your reward of eternal paradise.

In reality, Christianity is the religion of zero accountability. As long as you believe, you can do whatever the hell you want, and just be forgiven. No matter how ugly your acts, if you believe, you will be rewarded equal to the person who believes and lived a 'saintly' life. So no, Christianity does not reward good people doing good things, just belief and obedience.

What this actually does is gives those that believe, a 'get out if jail free' card for when they do want to do wrong. They may think that ,'If Jesus died for my sins, but I don't sin, then he died for nothing.' Others may skip those mental gymnastics and just look at the position that they are 'saved' and conclude that they can always just ask forgiveness and still be good with the 'big guy'. The one consistent thing is that if they can just be arbitrarily be 'forgiven', they aren't being help accountable for their actions or the life they've lived.

In my life, I work to be the best person I can be without any promise of reward. I do this not in hope of a prize, but just because I feel it's the right thing to do. And if I do wrong someone, I will work to gain their forgiveness, rather than that of an uninvolved third party. Would you ask the cable company to forgive you for being late on your electric payment? An if they said they would, would that make things peachy between you and your electric provider? Of course not. So why would you ask Jesus to forgive you lying to a friend or stealing a bike? This does nothing to mend the wrong done to the slighted party, just as the cable company can't forgive your tardiness on your other bills. 'Tis far nobler to make right with the wronged, than to hide behind the hollow assurances of another.

So believers, please don't tell me that your religion makes the flock into better people. Christianity many make some choose a clean life. But it also provides cover for those that wish to do wrong. Your religion rewards the wrong things, and sufferers for it. Instead of worshiping the religion of zero accountability, look at your fellow man and live your life in a way to make this life ab better one, for this life really is the one that matters.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The price of honesty

Sometimes being honest isn't the easiest thing in the world. But as far as I'm concerned, facing tough honesty in search of the truth is very much worth it. That's why I am open about my non-belief. I could easily pretend to believe, but I don't. By openly questioning I take a risk. I risk friends and family thinking of me differently. I risk strangers making rush judgements of me, and it could even endanger future employment should the truth leak out. But that is how much the truth matters to me. I am willing to risk that much for my honest search for the truth.

If I wasn't an honest man, I could probably cash in on this whole theology business. Just lie and write a book about how I was a staunch atheist but God has made his truth and glory known to me and that I am now a Christian. I could lie through my teeth and speak at local churches to sell even more copies of that book. And if the book were successful enough, maybe even wind up appearing on Fox News, like the (most likely) fake atheist, S.E. Cupp.

I could do this. I could cash in, but I won't. The thought of if disgusts me. Sure, the money would be very welcome, but it would all be a lie... an act... a fantasy. And that's the kind of thing I'm trying to avoid. I don't want to live a fairytale, I want to live, understand, and know the truth. Being honest with myself and others may not be the easy road, but I feel that it's the noble one. So I will not sell out and exchange my credibility, and honesty for petty financial gain.

Tell me, do these glasses hide how full of it I am?
But on the subject of books, my wife has actually suggested I write one. Something about either atheism, countering Christian claims, or even my personal story. While I like the idea in principle, I don't know where I'd ever find the time to organize and complete such an undertaking. If I did decide to write one, what should it be about? And is the atheism book market already too saturated for it to be worthwhile? But enough of that aside...

In the future I hope you will choose the hard road of honesty. It may not always be easy, but at least you will remain true to yourself. And who really wants to live life hiding behind something you're not?

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Phallic faith

I'm sure we've all seen the pictures of the Christian Science Church in Dixon, Illinois. The church made the rounds online a week ago for it's resemblance to a penis. Time has past, and most have forgotten about it. But now the church is ready for round two.

The architect is saying that it was not intentionally designed to resemble a phallus. And I believe that statement. But the funny quote can from church officer, Scott Shepherd. He stated that "We didn't
design it to be seen from above."

Um, either he's making an unintentional admission, or he's not thinking this through. Christians believe that God is always watching from Heaven above. If you were looking down from 'the Heavens', the church would look just like it does in the aerial photo. Is he forgetting that fact, or did he accidentally admit that he really doesn't believe in that silly stuff in his rush to try and counter the story.

Sadly, he also went on to blame the internet for being 'wicked' and manufacturing the issue to begin with. Sorry, but people saw the picture and shared what they thought it looked like. The irony of it also being a church also helped. But the story wasn't concocted. I wish this church would stop blaming others, and instead just admit that a mistake was made and leave it at that. It's not like anyone is saying they made it that way on purpose.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, November 11, 2013

The myth of sin/perfection

A reader asks Billy Graham why he needs to ask God for forgiveness, since he isn't a bad person. And Graham simply regurgitates the same old claim that all are in need of forgiveness.
You think a sports car is expensive?
That's nothing compared to the price of 'Christian forgiveness'
We all stand in constant need of God's forgiveness

Q: You keep telling people they need to have God forgive them, but I'm not such a bad person and I don't feel any particular need to be forgiven for anything. Why should I pray for forgiveness? -- B.N.

A: No one is in greater spiritual danger than the person who feels no need of God. And that's your situation, for if you think you have no need for forgiveness, then you won't ever bother to turn to God.

And yet (as I said), this places you in great spiritual danger, for it means you'll never feel any need to have God in your life. But someday, we all must stand before God, and then the blazing searchlight of His holiness will illuminate every corner of our souls. Then we will be seen for what we truly are: sinners who stand in constant need of God's forgiveness and grace. Jesus warned that in that day, "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known" (Luke 12:2). Those are solemn words, and I pray you'll take them seriously.

Don't confuse true guilt with feelings of guilt. You may not feel guilty, and when you compare yourself with other people, perhaps it's somewhat understandable. But God doesn't compare us with other people. You may never have murdered anyone, but have you ever been angry at someone? You may never have stolen anything, but have you ever coveted what belongs to others?

I challenge you to ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you -- as someone who falls far short of His standard of perfection. I challenge you most of all to turn to Christ and open your heart and life to Him. Jesus said, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).
Unlike asking Jesus to forgive you, when
you've done nothing to him. Apologize
to real people instead.

 Actually, BN (and everyone else) doesn't need to ask God for forgiveness. Graham claims that people like BN are actually at the greatest risk, but that's not the case at all. There is nothing to fear at all, for sin is but an invention of religion. Billy says that BN is in danger, but the only thing he may be in 'danger' of is seeing thing for what they are, and leaving the fantasy of religion behind.

And please spare the claims that we will one day face God, and there will be nothing that is hidden. Please prove your religion true first before throwing about such claims. Graham wouldn't pay any mind to someone that he will one day face Allah, Odin, Krishna, or any other god, so why should his assertion be taken seriously?

Graham talks of 'God's standard of perfection. But has he read the Bible? He certainly doesn't seem like he has. Many of the things that the Bible counts as sins, are quite laughable. To live a perfect life by God's standards, one would have to be an autonomous little robot to live up to them. Is a life not spent living, really living at all?

But God's standards of perfection aren't even possible. There are rules in the Bible that tell you never to do something in one place, and in another it says to do that very same thing it also says not to. Mixed signals much? Then you heap on the absurd notion of 'original sin', where they claim that all are born with sin. Born guilty, and deserving of eternal torment just for living. Tell me... what parent can look their newborn child right in the eye, and tell them that they deserve to die and be tortured? Because that's what the Christian god does.

And isn't it all rather convenient that they just so happen to offer the supposed cure, for the very disease they invented. Convince you that there's this terrible thing that you need to worry about. Something that had they never told you, would have gone unnoticed as if it were nonexistent. Then just as soon as they have you hooked, tell you they, and they alone have the fix for this problem. Maybe that's true. And if they could provide some proof rather than selling fear we could confirm it. But isn't it far more likely that the problem that they can't even prove exist, simply doesn't? That they are no more than fear merchants seeking control?

And the Christian god is neither...
Finally, why so much worry about 'God's standards of perfection'? Graham mentions that BN may not
be a thief of a murderer, but he needs to ask forgiveness all the same. Yet why point out these facts? If we look at the Christian teachings on forgiveness, it doesn't matter in one was good or bad. The school shooter, and the pedophile will find themselves in Heaven if they believe and ask forgiveness. Monsters like Hitler would great you at the pearly gates simply because they believed, rather than the kind of person they were.

What kind of god rewards genocidal monsters, but would punish someone who wouldn't hurt a fly? All over vanity no less. The Christian god is not a just god... actually quite the opposite. Is he really so vain that he ignores good acts in favor of who will kiss his ass the most? If the Bible is true about what it takes to go to Heaven, then count me out. I don't consider every criminal that says he found Jesus, or believed all along to be very good company. I'd rather rub shoulders with all the great minds and peaceful non-believers that would supposedly be damned to Hell any day.

-Brain Hulk

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