The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2005 April

Just Thinking

April 30, 2005 | 9 Comments

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but . . .

. . . I submitted for publication in last week’s Carnival of the Vanities at Conservative Dialysis a post entitled Sainthood for Pope Not to Involve Cynical, Preposterous Fraud. Participants were asked to provide a brief description of their submissions. I summarized mine as “The Raving Atheist reports on the canonization process for the late Pope John Paul II.” In the Carnival, however, the blurb was changed to “The Raving Atheist explains why he doesn’t think that Pope John Paul II should be elevated to saint.”

Literally read, my post said nothing of the sort. I didn’t say anything about John Paul’s qualifications, much less attack them. To the contrary, I simply explained why I believed that an honest, fraud-free process involving the verification of the two required posthumous medical miracles would result in the former Pope’s canonization.

Admittedly, I didn’t intend the post to be read literally. But why would anyone suppose that my goal was to block John Paul’s sainthood? I don’t believe in saints. I’m not concerned with the imaginary honors that the Church bestows internally upon its departed leaders. What I’m after is the wholesale eradication of the Church itself. In part because the Church engages in massive, preposterous frauds meant to trick the ignorant and gullible. The Vatican hierarchy plainly engages in a great deal of premeditation — meeting after meeting, memo after memo — to select which “miracles” are credited towards sainthood. Would Conservative Dialysis seriously dispute the substance of my post?

Note that CD was careful to emphasize that in the post I was merely expressing what I “think,” i.e., spouting out an unsubstantiated personal opinion. Notably ,he didn’t use that qualification in characterizing other posts (e.g., “Carpe Bonum corrects the record regarding the election of Adolf Hitler” “Rick Moran compares the myths to the facts regarding Paul Revere’s famous ride at Rightwing Nut House”). But when an atheist expresses doubt that dead men work miracle cures

Kill the Afterlife

April 26, 2005 | 180 Comments

Frequent TRA commenter AK has opened shop at a promising new site, Kill the Afterlife. Beneath the blog title, a blunt premise:

The concept of an afterlife is inhumane and immoral. Belief in the continuation of your “soul” or consciousness after death is wishful thinking. Belief in an afterlife devalues the one life that actually exists: this one.

It’s rare to find a blog devoted to a particular subissue of theology. Most religion-related blogs deal with either the question of theism versus atheism generally — as does the group-blog to which AK also contributes, Goosing the Antithesis — or promote a comprehensive religious system such as Catholicism. But I think AK has chosen well: pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die is the dessert most frequently offered by religions to trick you into finishing all the rotting, putrid vegetables their god has put on your plate.

Now all we need is for someone to go after the beforelife. Reincarnation is Satan’s second-biggest lie, and I’m tired of hearing Shirley MacClaine prattle about her past lives.

UPDATE: It occurred to me that I had expressed some of my thoughts on the afterlife in my beforelife, namely, on June 7, 2003 in the comments section to this post (particularly comments 10, 17, 25 and 34). I also vaguely recall some past discussion of whether the question of the afterlife was inseparable from the God-question, i.e., whether atheists could consistently believe in life after death, but I don’t remember where or when. I think it was in connection with one of the God Squad reviews, or perhaps a Question of the Day.

UPDATE II: As Viole points out in the comments, my January 28, 2004 Question of the Day asked “Is believing in the afterlife consistent with atheism?” The ensuing debate centered on whether atheism requires a rejection of all forms of supernaturalism. I think that Jean-Paul Fastidiious was technically correct in concluding that it does not, and that a godless afterlife would be consistent with atheism.

I say “technically” because there are all sorts of afterlife concepts which definitionally or impliedly require the existence of a God. Most “heavens” are run by a god or two. Even the ones without a permanent ruling caretaker are presumably inhabited by the immortal, indestructable souls of the “dead” who, with the accumulated knowledge of billions of years of living, would be pretty close to omniscient.

God Squad Review CXXVI (Prayer for the New Pope)

April 25, 2005 | 27 Comments

The Squad offers a touching prayer for the new Pope this week. “May your prayerful heart let you feel just as comfortable in a poor ghetto as you do in St. Peter’s,” they urge, albeit stopping short of suggesting that he forsake the opulence of his Vatican digs for actual permanent residence in a slum. But I suspect when he does visit a ghetto, his handlers will insure that he does feel just as comfortable as always. Even if it means reupholstering the Popemobile and physically restraining him from drinking sewage-contaminated water.

And there’s one part of the Squad’s prayer I don’t quite understand:

Holy Father, there is always a temptation to be either too liberal or too conservative. We only ask that you be authentic.

Putting aside whatever they might mean by “liberal” or “conservative,” aren’t they really asking him to be a “moderate” (whatever that might mean?). Asking him to merely be “authentic” sounds like a call for the content-free morality of atheistic relativists like Sartre.

Compare and Contrast

April 24, 2005 | 8 Comments

Remember Saint Julitta? I wrote about her here; she earned her title by refusing to renounce her Christianity. She was stretched on the rack and beaten in front of her young son, watched him get his skull fractured after being thrown down stairs, and was punished for rejoicing at her son’s martyrdom by having her sides ripped apart by hooks.

But she’s got nothing on the new Pope. According to the Associated Press, Ratzinger and his family risked their lives for their faith while living in Nazi Germany. They huddled around a radio with the blinds drawn and the windows closed listening to Allied broadcasts. Maybe it’s not same as running outside and calling on Jesus to strike Hitler dead, but if some storm trooper had managed to quietly slip through their bolted door and see them before they had a chance to flick off the radio, they might have ended up in a concentration camp.

Also, the Pope was “never willingly part of the Nazi machine and “very certainly not for Hitler.” Yes, he did join the Hitler Youth, but only because “[y]ou could try to avoid it but it was very, very difficult.” So he didn’t try, but in any event he was so busy with his seminary studies that “even if he had wanted to be active in the Hitler Youth, he never would have had the time.” Moreover, he generally avoided the organization’s meetings even though it created a dilemma — he needed proof of attendance to get a tuition discount. But he bravely “finessed” the problem by acting reluctant until a sympathetic Nazi schoolteacher agreed to “take care of it” (and not put him in a concentration camp).

Obituary Cartoon Contest Awards

April 21, 2005 | 23 Comments

The winners of the Obituary Cartoon Contest (together with the rest of the entries) are as indicated below. Comprehensibility, and not including Johnny Cochran, were key factors in the judging process. Prizewinners please e-mail me (at ravingatheist@aol.com and ravingatheist@hotmail.com) indicating the name and address to which the loot is to be sent.

First Place (Religious Category)

First place and a $50 contribution to Feminists for Life go to Ashli of The S.I.C.L.E. Cell. That an entry to this cruel, mean-spirited contest could deliver such a sweet, genuine message of hope is truly a miracle:

Ashli.jpg

First Place (General Contest)

First place (and two Brian Flemming DVDs and a Sam Harris book with my hair in it) go reader Jean-Paul Fastidious for a cartoon demonstrating one of the many perils of Pascal’s Wager:

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Second Place

Following closely in second place (and winning any two of the first place prizes) is Mr. Swill for an entry demonstrating that Terri Schiavo was indeed a full, worthwhile human being conscious of her plight and capable of ordinary emotions:

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Third Place

Phalse Phrophet earns third place (and any one prize) for this offering (despite its disquieting implication that heaven resembles the Pac-Man game board):

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Fourth Place

R. Wood comes in fourth (for one prize) for depicting Heaven as a Complaint Department:

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Fifth Prize

Fifth place (and one prize) goes to “Andrew C.” for showing that Frank Perdue wasn’t such a “tough man” after all:

AndrewC.gif

The Rest

From reader Andy:

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From Christopher Robert Prokop:

ProkopTheGreat.jpg

From Sharon Hawkins:

SharonHawkins.jpg

From John Hattan of Metroplex Atheists:

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From an anonymous Catholic High School Student:

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From Harley Edmonson:

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:

Ban the Bible

April 20, 2005 | 24 Comments

Brian Flemming has two atheist-themed film projects to his name, but instead of going after those, Focus on the Family is trying to ban his play about an imaginary being who promotes Christian values with tales of rape, incest and bestiality. Are they trying to take the Bible out of the schools?

Simple, Humble Nazi Youth Elected Pope

April 19, 2005 | 96 Comments

The Vatican, Rome, April 19, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was elected the new pope Tuesday in the first conclave of the new millennium. Addressing thousands of assembled Pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, Ratzinger noted that he was ”a simple, humble worker,” an Ex-Nazi Youth and “now your goddamm fucking Pope, schweinhunt.”

“The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers,” the new pope said. “I am truly a filthy piece of shit. Now kiss my pinky ring before I run you down with the Popemobile, dummkopfs.”

Ratzinger was enrolled in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941. He also helped construct Nazi anti-aircraft unit — against his will — when he was 16. When he was 18, he constructed tank barriers — also against his will — on the Austrian-Hungarian border for the Nazis. “I vas just following orders,” he said. “Now follow mine.” Ratzinger added that he was shocked and surprised by the honor which he “totally does not deserve and is not remotely worthy of, but life isn’t fair and you better get used to it because believe me I’m going to run with this, I’m God’s infallible representative on the planet Earth.”

Ratzinger has chose the name Benedict XVI to facilitate anonymous blogging at his breakfast website..

Last Chance

April 18, 2005 | 4 Comments

The deadline for the Obituary Cartoon Contest is today at the stroke of midnight. Perhaps you’ve failed to grasp how very low the standards are? Just go to Windows Paint (Start: Programs: Accessories: Paint) and you can churn out some Etch-A-Sketch-quality artwork in a minute or two (add the caption/word balloon text by clicking on the “A” on the toolbar).

Although I’ve gotten more entries than there are prizes, the margin is narrow so your chances of winning or placing are still quite high. Don’t let the deadline pass and find yourself saying “shit, I could have done a better Pope/Terri Schiavo/Frank Perdue entering Heaven together cartoon than that idiot.” As an added incentive, remember that I’m offering a chance to star in a Brian Flemming film (if you consider making hand shadows on the TV screen while playing a DVD of one of his movies “starring” in it).

God Squad Review CXXV (Jewish Heritage)

April 18, 2005 | 5 Comments

“Golda” was raised by her adoptive parents as Catholic, but is now “confused” after having discovered that her birthmother is Jewish. What the Squad’s answer did to relieve her confusion, I can’t imagine:

You are fully Jewish, even if you were baptized. The discovery presents you with several spiritual options.

You could formally convert to Catholicism and affirm the fact of your upbringing, or reaffirm your Jewish identity, which would be, in effect, a decision to “convert” to Judaism — although that’s unnecessary because you’re already Jewish by virtue of the fact that your mother was or is Jewish. For this reason, most couples adopting infants or small children convert them formally to their religion.

If you choose to become Jewish, you might want a ceremony of rededication, and you would need to study.

The small issue of what Golda actually believes naturally plays no part in any of this. Religion, despite being a deep intellectual commitment and “the core of one’s being,” can apparently change on you the moment you discover who your mother “was or is.” Perhaps non-believers should adopt a rule than anyone related to them in any way is automatically atheist.

It seems to me that if those parents knew enough to call the kid “Golda,” they had some idea about her pedigree. Did they adopt her brother Shlomo, too?

Also, what more than baptizing, confirming and otherwise “raising” their daughter Catholic could the parents have done without it constituting a conversion? You’d think all that would be enough to wipe away the stain of Judaism. And what if those rumors about Hitler having a Jewish grandmother were true — would he go to hell just because he didn’t find out in time to convert?


Don’t forget to enter the Obituary Cartoon Contest!

Fishing

April 17, 2005 | 37 Comments

Submitted by Con Man:

“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.”

Author Unknown

No Offense

April 17, 2005 | 5 Comments

“I mean no offense to people who have religious convictions, but . . . .”

Enjoy this this clip of the late Berkeley folklore professor Alan Dundes discussing Biblical contradictions, the perils of translating the Koran, tricky Orthodox Jews and those kind fundamentalists who were always praying for him to be saved. Dundes died on March 30; the interview was conducted by Brian Flemming about six weeks earlier and will be included in the special features footage of The God Who Wasn’t There.

By the way, I mean no offense either.


Don’t forget to enter the Obituary Cartoon Contest!

Cheap Sex

April 15, 2005 | 55 Comments

Judge Richard Posner explains why economics has triumphed over conventional Roman Catholic sexual morality. Sex is now “cheaper” due to the reduced risk of disease and pregnancy, and marriage offers less financial benefits to women than working. This creates more horny single women, who fuck a lot. And with more unmarried people out there generally, unmarried gay men stick out less than they used to. So everybody fucks a lot and no one thinks twice about it.

Posner thus concludes that “[t]o the extent that as a result of economic and technological change, sex ceases to be considered either dangerous or important, we can expect it to become a morally indifferent activity, as eating has mainly become (though not for orthodox Jews and Muslims).” But then he drops this closing caveat:

I emphasize that this has been an essay in positive rather than normative moral theory. My concern is not with whether the changes in sexual mores that I have been discussing are right or wrong, but with trying to explain what has brought about the changes. I believe they can largely be explained in economic terms.

What is wrong about this last paragraph is precisely what is wrong with conventional Catholic sexual morality: it pretends that the morality of an act can be evaluated separately from its actual earthly consequences. However, once you’ve established that sex is pleasurable and not dangerous (which seems to be Posner’s conclusion), you’ve done as much as you can to prove that it’s right and not wrong. For if, despite the lack of negative consequences, sex was still “wrong” in some way, it could only be so by virtue of the disapproval lingering in the mind of some imaginary being.

So despite his protestations Posner was talking largely about morality. His focus was on the ordinary consequences of the conduct; he just doesn’t think there’s any proof that sex is harmful. Although his couched his analysis in terms of “economic” costs and benefits, I doubt he meant literally that. For economically speaking (as every HMO knows) it’s cheaper to kill a person than to treat him. And Cambodian child prostitutes can be had for a few bucks an hour. But I doubt Posner would ever write an essay defending (or, as here, purportedly “explaining”) those practices on economic grounds. Death and rape are self-evidently bad outcomes, notwithstanding whatever financial aspects may be involved. (Posner does, unfortunately, seem to reduce the abortion issue to mere economics, focusing narrowly the long-term cost-saving aspects of the killing).

Hugh Hewitt, naturally, disagrees with Posner. To his credit, Hewitt finds ordinary human consequences relevant, noting that “the economic factors cited by the judge seem to discount the idea of STDs, emotional injury from casual sexual activity, or the cost to the society as a whole of the AIDs epidemic or the ongoing treatment of HIV patients in the United States and the untreated populations of the Third World.” Not matters entirely unworthy of debate, but Hewitt’s first complaint is that Posner forgot to factor Hell into his calculus. Hewitt concedes that some might find this approach “unscientific,” notwithstanding his efforts to document Hades with the ravings of late nineteenth and early twentieth century nuns who claimed to have actually visited the place.


Don’t forget to enter the Obituary Cartoon Contest!

Pope Cures Jew of Cancer, Judaism

April 12, 2005 | 82 Comments

The Vatican, Rome, April 12, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

Pope John Paul II once cured an American Jew of terminal cancer and Judaism “in just a few hours,” according to the pontiff’s longtime private secretary, adding momentum to the worldwide push for him to be fast-tracked to sainthood.

The pope’s secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, was quoted in an Italian newspaper yesterday as saying that a wealthy American Jew recovered from incurable cancer and Christ-denial after receiving Holy Communion from the pope in the late 1990s.

Communion is reserved for Catholics, and the pope did not realize that the man was Jewish until it became obvious that he did not know how to receive the sacrament — and afterward, John Paul gently admonished him.

“Too stupid to put a wafer and wine in your mouth, Jew?” the Pope reportedly asked. “Or are you afraid of choking on the flesh of the man you murdered, you Christ-killing moneylender?” The pontiff then blinked his eyes and made every last trace of the man’s inoperable brain tumor and false religion disappear.

Dziwisz did not disclose the identity of the cured, converted rich Jew. Although the Jew spent millions consulting scores of top physicians, not one has come forward over the years to confirm the pope’s miracle. “The Jewish medical establishment has conspired to destroy the voluminous records documenting the tumor’s existing and disappearance, for fear they would conclusively prove the truth of Catholicism”, he said.

The Archbishop also explained why the Jew himself has not stopped forward with his story. “Ordinarily, one would expect a man suddenly released from the terror of impending death to spend the rest of his life and all of his wealth proselytizing on behalf of the faith that so clearly saved him — but Mr. S___ cannot because it would violate the editorial policy of the newspaper he publishes, the Catholic-bashing New York Times, Dziwisz said. Dziwisz stated that he was particularly upset because he had pulled strings to get his rich friend a private audience with the pope, who in turn cancelled that day’s plans to heal the AIDS-plagued African continent with a wave of his magic hand.


Don’t forget to enter the Obituary Cartoon Contest!

Sainthood for Pope Not to Involve Cynical, Preposterous Fraud

April 11, 2005 | 15 Comments

The Vatican, Rome, April 10, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

Despite the pressure of popular demand for the immediate canonization of the late Pope John Paul II, Vatican officials have vowed not to perpetrate a massive, cynical fraud to bestow sainthood on the late pontiff. Saint-candidates must perform two posthumous miracles to earn the title.

“We will not stoop to shameless, crowd-pleasing trickery to fill our pews and coffers,” announced Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. “More particularly, we will not exploit an illiterate, delusional third-world peasant by bribing a team of phony doctors to declare that she was cured of some unspecified grave illness after praying to a bedside picture of Pope John Paul II.”

Ratzinger added that if the deceased pontiff does fulfill his miracle quota with medical cures, they will be of an unreproachable sort — fully befitting of an omnipotent being, and performed on live television. “Severed limbs regrown, decapitations undone, the Twin Towers depulverized, Christopher Reeve risen from the wheelchair and the grave to host the Oscars in front of an audience of a quarter-million resurrected tsunami victims,” Ratzinger vowed. “Not some questionable third-hand anecdote about the “unexplained” remission of leukemia at the hidden, microscopic cellular level in the body of a mud hut-dwelling Brazilian commoner.”

Another Cardinal reaffirmed that Vatican stooges are not meeting as we speak to plot an unconscionable global scam that, in a sane world, would be prosecuted under the criminal racketeering statutes of every civilized society. According to His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan, the sophisticated minds responsible for managing the Church’s vast financial empire are not currently chortling over a scheme to con the gullible masses with a transparent faith-healing ruse barely worthy of a snake-oil-selling carnival sideshow revivalist. “Nor will such deceit be practiced with the hubris of an organization accustomed to decades of immunity for child-rape due to its infiltration of the highest level of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government,” Egan pledged.

Blogger and radio host Hugh Hewitt also applauded the Vatican’s decision not to trivialize itself by stooping to the level of lesser, primitive voodoo-religions. “The mainstream media will try to convince us that medical miracles by dead popes is nonsense that nobody can believe in 2005,” Hewitt said. “But aided by the Holy Spirit, His Holiness will prove the supremacy of Catholicism with a display so dazzling it will make Mother Teresa’s coffin-based canonization miracles look like a child’s toy store magic tricks.”


Don’t forget to enter the Obituary Cartoon Contest!

Insipid Mush

April 9, 2005 | 7 Comments

Hugh Hewitt criticizing the Los Angeles Times’ coverage of the Pope-selection process:

The front page article by Tracy Wilkinson, “Spirit May Be Guiding, but Politicking is Strong,” is the usual insipid mush that [the mainstream media] serves up when obliged to report at length on a story for which they have no leads, but it is also unnecessarily offensive to serious religious faith and trite beyond description. A few specifics:

*The very first sentence: “Cardinals gathering to choose the next pope like to say they are guided by the Holy Spirit.” Get it? We all know that “Holy Spirit” stuff is just a cover. Nobody can believe that nonsense in 2005.

Hewitt provides then provides his usual thorough and incisive analysis, including the following:

(1) A precise definition of what the Holy Spirit is, including a detailed explanation of its powers and attributes;

(2) Why he personally believes in the Holy Spirit, including lengthy scientific and logical proofs of its existence;

(3) How he knows that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Cardinals; and

(4) How the Holy Spirit’s conduct proves that Catholicism is true and all other beliefs are necessarily false, and unnecessarily offensive to serious religious faith.

Okay, maybe he leaves out 1 through 4. Insipid mush, indeed.

Spoiled

April 8, 2005 | 4 Comments

Submitted by Gidget:

“Men rarely (if ever) dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.” Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Everywhere

April 8, 2005 | 35 Comments

One atheistic tendency is to think that religious people are not only wrong, but insincere, or even liars. The feeling can be particularly strong during discussions with those who profess a literal belief that God is “everywhere,” in the sense that He’s in the room with them examining every fiber of their body and being. He sees your skeleton; has numbered every cell and atom of your body and keeps track of the most minute of changes on an instant-by-instant basis. He hears the slightest rustling of your hair and rumbling of your stomach; is simultaneously sniffing your armpits and your anus, and tastes every inch of you as surely as if He were licking you with His tongue. What’s more, He views you from every possible angle simultaneously and sees you bathed in every frequency of light, including the ultraviolet ranges that are imperceptible to human eyes.

Yet I’ve talked to enough religious people to know that they do honestly believe exactly that. They feel his presence inside and out. They know he hears their prayers as surely as if their mouths were pressed against His ear. Although unwilling to discuss some of the seedier implications of their theory (“do you truly believe his nose is up your ass?”), they refuse to concede that there are any limits to God’s perceptive abilities. To do so would deny Him the full measure of His glory.

But then again, I wonder, do they really believe this? One question to ask them is this: what would you do if a fifty-foot tall, fire-breathing Jesus suddenly materialized in your kitchen, staring at you intently?* Continue to stir the Hamburger Helper and hum? No: most likely you’d jump out of your skin — or at very least inquire of his mission, determine the purpose of His visit and what he intended to do with you.

But why the surprise? Certainly to those who are sincere about their belief in divine omnipresence, a mere physical apparition of that nature would be far less intrusive than the full-body scouring that His being administers daily. A pair of eyes staring down from several yards away is nothing compared to a God white-water rafting down your bloodstream. It’s no answer to say that there’s something out of the ordinary about God making a physical, personal appearance. Having an infinite being permeating your body is at least as odd, and if you sincerely accept that premise then a housecall from Tall Jesus shouldn’t startle you anymore than a cat walking by and rubbing against your leg.

Also counting against the professed sincerity is the things people do despite their alleged conviction in His ever-pervasive presence. Most of them exercise a certain level of restraint the in company of strangers, children or their grandmothers, even if they’re away in another room. Yet they’ll curse, steal and commit adultery in full view of their God. And here again, it’s no answer to say one “forgot,” or succumbed to human weakness. If I were to thrust my head under a woman’s dress in the subway for a momentary glimpse of what God surveys eternally, she’d never forget the experience; how could anyone who for even a split-second at any time in her life believed that God was doing a complete inventory put that thought aside? And weakness is no excuse either — even the weak exercise caution when they believe that the police are reasonably nearby.

For my part, I know that were I to find myself plucked out of bed at 3am by a pair of giant fingers, suspended over a black void and bellowed at by a supernatural spirit, I’d start behaving. That moment would be enough and He wouldn’t have to follow me around constantly. I might even tone down this blog, perhaps now and then leave the “o” out of G_d. But hasn’t happened and it never will. He isn’t everywhere. He isn’t anywhere.

*Assuming your kitchen has a fifty-foot ceiling.


Don’t forget to enter the Obituary Cartoon Contest!

Holy Spirit to Inspire Uninspired Choice of New Pope

April 5, 2005 | 118 Comments

The Vatican, Rome, April 5, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

The Holy Spirit, who guides the College of Cardinals in the selection of a new Pope, will inspire an uninspired choice of a lackluster, ailing mediocrity whose worst enemy is his own body.

Church insiders say that God’s earthly ghost is looking for a moribund, forgettable, transitional successor to the late John Paul II who will die quickly, and whose name will be forgotten even before he is lowered into the ground.

“In this time of terrorism and plagues, the world needs an enfeebled non-entity to hobble into the new millenium wheezing at evil,” said the Holy Spirit. “He will symbolize the very futility of human struggle and the worthlessness of this earthly life.”

Tepid, half-hearted infighting is raging among the Cardinals over who will assume the ill-fated and short-lived interim papacy before shuffling off into a dustbin of obscurity. Those who have exhibited even the mildest of enthusiasm or physical health have been disqualified, the preference being for a safe, weary, coffin-ready anonymity to function has a placeholder until something marginally better limps along.

The Holy Spirit, however, did not rule out some surprises. “We will have a Pope who represents all people — I will encourage the Cardinals to pretend that they are considering a Black or Asian before they settle on an Italian, or perhaps a Latino with a confusingly Italian-sounding name.” The Holy Spirit noted that before John Paul II, the Church had given a non-Italian the papacy in 1523 and that only 217 of the 264 Popes have been from Italy. He further cautioned that any suitable foreign candidate would likely die on the plane to Rome anyway.

Obituary Cartoon Contest (Updated, with NEW PRIZES)

April 4, 2005 | 3 Comments

In view of the Pope’s rapid demise over the weekend (I was expecting it mid-week), I am extending the Obituary Cartoon Contest deadline to Monday, April 18, 2005, 11:59 pm (EST). I am also substituting new, non-imaginary prizes. The rules (and changes to the contest) are as follows:

(1) SUBMSSIONS. Submit an obituary cartoon depicting Terri Schiavo, chicken-Czar Frank Perdue and Pope John Paul II together in heaven (entering the Pearly Gates or engaged in some other joint activity). All cartoons must have either a caption or word balloons (the oval in comic strips containing the text spoken by a character). Poorly-executed photoshopping and crude stick-figure compositions are welcome. Mere written descriptions of ideas for cartoons will not be accepted. Examples of other multiple-death obituary cartoons may be found here, here, and here (scroll down to cartoon with Ray Charles and Ronald Reagan).

Please e-mail all submission to ravingatheist@aol.com, with a copy to ravingatheist@hotmail to insure receipt.

One entry per person. However, you may withdraw a previously-submitted entry and replace it with a new one, so long as you do so before the deadline. A withdrawn submission may be posted (although not considered for prizes), unless you express a preference that it not be posted.

(2) PRIZES.

First Prize:

* DVD of atheist director, playwright, stuntman and blogger Brian Flemming’s critically acclaimed feature Nothing So Strange, and

* DVD of Brian Flemming’s upcoming feature The God Who Wasn’t There (to be released June 6), and

* Copy of Sam Harris’ New York Times Bestseller The End of Faith — personally inscribed and autographed to your liking by The Raving Atheist (using my pseudonym only, not Mark Shea my real, secret identity) and with a lock of my hair taped to the title page (provided you promise not to send it to the DNA testing division of the F.B.I.’s cold case files).

* Permanent, top-of-page link from The Raving Atheist (see prior post for description).

Second Prize: Any two (2) of the prizes listed under First Prize.

Third-Fifth Prizes: Any one (1) of the prizes listed under First Prize (but if book is chosen, no hair in the fourth prize, and no hair or inscription in the fifth).

(3) SPECIAL CATHOLIC (or other religious) PRIZES.

As an incentive to my Catholic and other religious readers, The Raving Atheist will make a $50, $30, $25. $15 or $10 contribution (depending on how you place) to Feminists for Life. Employ a little moral cost/benefit analysis, and ask yourself, “What would Jesus (or Ganesh or Quetzalcoatl) do?”

(4) DEADLINE. Monday, April 18, 2004, 11:59pm (EST).

(5) PRIZE ANNOUNCEMENT/POSTING/SHIPPING. Prizes will be announced, and all submissions (including losers) will be posted on my blog on Thursday, April 21, 2005. Prizes will be shipped within two business days, except for prizes including the new Flemming DVD, which will go out as soon as possible after it is released on June 6.

(6) ANONYMITY. The Raving Atheist will religiously (and secularly) protect the anonymity of all entrants who so desire. Please specify how you would like your submission to be credited in your entry e-mail.

(7) PRIOR ENTRIES. Entries which have already been submitted are eligible for the new prizes. However, those entrants may submit new or revised cartoons if they wish.

Factor Update

April 3, 2005 | 10 Comments

An edited transcript of the God’s Squad’s March 31st interview on the O’Reilly Factor regarding the Schiavo controversy is now available.

Unfortunately, the Sam Harris segment on the same show has not been posted, although presumably Harris will eventually include a clip of it the appearances section of his site. Peter Sean Bradley of Lex Communis had this to say about it, however.

Media Matters also made note of Harris’ appearance, although not discussing the substance of his comments. And while correctly concluding that “O’Reilly falsely painted Schiavo case as battle between religious, secular Americans,” MM seems to be celebrating the “broad support across religious lines” for killing her — as if broad religious support was a reliable guide to morality (what’s the broad religious consensus on gay marriage MM?)

Pope JP II

April 2, 2005 | 87 Comments

Submitted by Andy:

Pope John Paul II: Good or bad, and why?

Pope Completes Fuckless Streak

April 2, 2005 | 93 Comments

The Vatican, Rome, April 2, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

Pope John Paul II died today, ending a remarkable 84 year-long fuckless streak. Only Pope Adrian I, who endured 103 years of non-fucking, and five other Popes have remained fuckless longer. Prior to 972 A.D., when Popes were allowed to fuck, the longest record was 16 years.

The Pope will not fuck in Heaven because God and Jesus consider it dirty, and because nobody would feel comfortable fucking in front of them, even though they are omniscient and view billions of acts of intercourse each day. Additionally, the Pope will continue fucklessly because God is imaginary and dead people decompose rather than retain consciousness and engage in fucking.

The Pontiff disapproved of fucking and wrote several encyclicals detailing the limited circumstances under which it should occur. Generally speaking, he thought the world was too obsessed with fucking and that homosexuals and unmarried heterosexuals should not fuck at all. The Pope did not oppose shitting, however, declaring that unlike fucking, shitting could not be reasonably avoided.

Obituary Cartoon Contest

April 1, 2005 | 8 Comments

The overwhelming excitement of Terri Schiavo, chicken-Czar Frank Perdue and (most likely) the Pope all expiring within a week will most likely put the nation’s obituary cartoonists on life support. Help them out by entering The Raving Atheist’s Hat Trick Obituary Cartoon Contest and submitting a tasteful artistic rendering of the departed trio entering the Pearly Gates together. It’s the thought that counts, so if like most of us you can’t draw, stick-figures or sloppy photoshopping will suffice. All cartoons must have either a caption or word balloons (the oval in comic strips containing the text spoken by a character). Mere written descriptions of ideas for cartoons will not be accepted. Entries should be attached to an e-mail sent to ravingatheist@aol.com with a copy to ravingatheist@hotmail.com to insure receipt.

Winner will receive a prominent, permanent link on my site under the category “Best Pope/Perdue/Schiavo Obituary Cartoonist,” or, at his or her option, my entire billion-dollar Blogshares fortune. All cartoons will be published in order of prize-ranking (although no prizes will actually be awarded besides first place). Deadline is a week after the Pope dies, but entries may be submitted at any time.

Fatal Flaw

April 1, 2005 | 18 Comments

The fatal flaw, unfortunately, in all of the religiously-based arguments for saving Terri Schiavo:

Schiavo.jpg

Death just doesn’t matter.

Conflicted

April 1, 2005 | 14 Comments

Bill O’Reilly devoted his show last tonight to the Schiavo case, interviewing both Sam Harris and The God Squad. There was enough hedging all around that I didn’t necessarily disagree with anything that was said.

Odd, though, to listen to the screamingly pro-choice O’Reilly cast the battle as one between the evil secularists and the religious right. And his website today attacks the ACLU for believing that “any and all abortions should be legal,” although that’s precisely his view as well.

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