The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2005 December

It Happens to the Best of Us

December 28, 2005 | 26 Comments

Don over at Diana Mertz Hsieh’s Noodlefood has jumped ship:

I was not raised in a particularly religious home, and while my parents weren’t thrilled when, at the age of fourteen, I became an atheist, there wasn’t any significant pressure put upon me to recant.

But as proof that everyone needs a philosophy, my parents reached a point where — despite all the worldly success anyone could hope to achieve — they felt that something was missing from their lives. Seeking answers, they turned to religion. And then, feeling they had answers, decided I needed those answers too.

Recently, my parents read a book called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek. It was a supposedly rational defense of Christianity, and my parents pushed me to read it. Personally, I have no interest in religion. Atheism has been a non-issue for me for years, but I finally agreed to read it on the premise that I would now be able to end any attempt to convert me by saying, “I’ve heard what you have to say, and I disagree.”

I just finished the book, and let me say: I was convinced. I must humbly renounce my former views and state publicly that I have discovered and accepted in my heart and mind the Truth that Jesus was born of God and died for our sins.

However, Don was an Objectivist, so it’s really just switching from one cult to another. Could Francois Tremblay be next?

UPDATE: Francois Tremblay admits he’s an Objectivist.

UPDATE: The Uncredible Hallq counsels Francois.

Fanaticism

December 26, 2005 | 25 Comments

Jeff Nall declares war on the war on Christmas. He’s upset that Brian Flemming is promoting a documentary which, rather than simply conceding that all belief systems are equal, attacks the truth of Christianity. Nall fears that Flemming is playing into the hands the religious fanatics who raise money by promoting the myth that there are people who actually disagree with the core premises of religion and would like to drive it out of the public square:

The sooner atheists realize that spiteful antics and attitudes of superiority sadly mirror the presumptive, “all-knowing” mentality of the Religious Right, the sooner they can move beyond religion and form a truly vibrant freethought movement. One would do well to remember the lesson of the Enlightenment wasn’t that the enemy of reason was/is belief in God. It’s that religious fanaticism, or any other fanaticism for that matter, is the true enemy of rational minds.

Not that Nall actually believes this to be true — for that, too would be arrogant fanaticism. But he nevertheless makes suggestions on how to combat the enemy (not that there’sreally an enemy, mind you). Instead of attacking the truth of their principles (fruitless, since there’s no such thing as truth), we should call them names and attack their motives. Thus, Nall notes that “most sensible people have treated such half-witted rhetoric [of Bill O’Reilly and Jerry Falwell] accordingly,” and approves of the tactics of Joe Conn and Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who both dismiss Falwell’s half-witted rhetoric as part of a “fundraising mechanism.”

There’s a lot I could say about why Nall is wrong. But why bother with reason? Every sensible person can see that he’s just a half-witted fundraiser.

The Rub

December 26, 2005 | 1 Comment

The rub is that the pursuit of happiness, as an end in itself, tends automatically, and widely, to be replaced by the pursuit of pleasure, with a consequent general softening of the fibers of will, intelligence, spirit.

Whittaker Chambers, Review of Atlas Shrugged, 1957

Christmas is for Everyone

December 25, 2005 | 11 Comments

ChristmasisforEveryone.jpg

Christmas Eve Day Miscellania

December 24, 2005 | 10 Comments

So Vincent “The Chin” Gigante — head of the Genovese crime family — “lived a Christian life and was a good man”? That’s what the Roman Catholic priest officiating at the funeral Mass said, anyway. Sure, I understand that the priest was the mobster’s brother, but isn’t the Church a little concerned that it, uh, sets a bad example?


This guy legally changed his name to “Jesus Christ” yesterday. His reason? “I am the person who is that name . . . [t]his was not done for any reason other than I am that person . . . [y]ou’re dealing with the real deal.” In granting the petition, the judge noted that use of the name was fine “so long as the change is not made to deceive or perpetrate a fraud.” I think she’d have a hard time finding anybody, on either side of the God-fence, who’d agree the ruling was correct under that standard.


“The FBI, without warrants, has secretly monitored radiation levels at Islamic mosques . . .to determine if nuclear bombs were being assembled,” according to the New York Post.

A shocking assault on freedom of religion. Oh, did you say “nuclear bombs?” Fine by me.


Google raving + atheist + imbecile and hit “i’m Feeling Lucky.” Here’s the link if you’re lazy. Randroids vs Randites? Was that my mistake? Now you know how I feel when people confuse “proof atheists” with “belief atheists.”

Just Be Nice

December 22, 2005 | 9 Comments

I just don’t understand when they act like this:

The wife of the pastor of the nation’s largest church was asked to leave a plane after she failed to comply with a flight attendant’s instructions, the FBI said Tuesday.

Houston Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen, his wife, Victoria, and their two children boarded a Continental Airlines flight from Houston to Vail, Colo., Monday. The plane’s door had been closed when Victoria Osteen and a flight attendant had a disagreement.

“She failed to comply with the flight attendant’s instructions, and they were asked to leave the flight,” FBI spokeswoman Luz Garcia said without elaborating on the disagreement.

The FBI reviewed a report from Continental after the incident, Garcia said. No charges will be filed, she said.

Rev. Osteen’s last book has sold more than 3 million copies. His services fill NBA-sized arenas and he’s poured some $90 million into renovations of the former NBA arena that now houses his regular congregation. So it’s fairly safe to say that he’s fabulously wealthy man and that he and his family are set for life. No problem meeting life’s basic material needs, ever, or in enjoying all of its luxuries, like ski trips to Vail.

Is it really so hard to be nice to the hired help?

I’m well aware that post-9/11 airline personnel can be a nasty, irrational, vindictive bunch. Nevertheless, it takes some doing to get kicked off a plane. Even assuming the flight attendant was completely in the wrong, and rude to boot, all you have to do is turn the other cheek, shut up and sit down. Just like Jesus would.

According to some accounts (here and here), the incident had something to do with a spilled drink. It wasn’t cleaned up to her liking, apparently. But unless they ordered her down on her knees to lick it off the floor (which is something a good Christian would do anyway without being asked) she could have just let it go. Even if it was in her seat, she could have just covered it up with one of those in-house airline magazines.

The FBI ain’t prosecuting and the airline ain’t talking. Count your blessings, lady, and go forth and sin no more.

Holiday Picks & Pans (Updated)

December 21, 2005 | 22 Comments

It’s not the Winter Solstice Holiday-related season until I’ve heard certain songs, preferably twenty times a day commencing September 28th. Unfortunately, my picks for the top five are singularly uninspired. Familiarity breeds nostalgia, I guess. No particular reasons for the selections or the order, although “Holly Jolly” makes the list only because it’s a family tradition to start the unwrapping to that song. “Rockin'” I like primarily if I am in a car and it is snowing, and the rest I like to wrap by.

(1) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Most versions)
(2) Rockin’ Round the Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee)
(3) Holly Jolly Christmas (Burl Ives)
(4) The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole)
(5) So This Is Christmas (John Lennon)

I do know why I hate the worst six, as set forth below. The radio gets switched off the second I recognize a note from any of these. Except for number 6, which I listen to all the way through just to make sure I can believe my ears.

(1) Green Chri$tma$ (Stan Freberg) The rest are tied for a distant second to this seven-minute abomination, which is more of a comedy sketch than a song. As one commentator put it, “[s[peaking of lack of originality, Stan Freberg’s commercialization-of-Christmas shtick, even in 1956, was about as fresh as a Little Debbie snack cake uncovered from a 1973 landfill . . . [s]atire was not Freberg’s forte,” Trust me — the “humor” is so heavy-handed and obvious it would make even Mark Russell cringe.
If this ever gets added to the holiday playlists, you’ll see America convert from Christianity to Heaven’s Gateism. (And yes, the voice of Bob Cratchit is Daws Butler in his pre-Yogi Bear/Huckleberry Hound/Snagglepuss/Elroy Jetson days).
(2) Dominick the Donkey Did the guy who wrote it really think he could replace Rudolph in our hearts with this obnoxiously braying character? As if the hee-haw hee-hawing weren’t enough, the interjection of ethnicity completely destroys the universality of the All-American celebration.
(3) Jingle Bells (Barbra Streisand version) If the war on Christmas has an anthem, this is it. For the most part she’s not even trying, and when she is, it’s to display her contempt for all decent Christian things. Too liberal.
(4) Little Drummer Boy (any version) There’s something creepy about a little baby terrorizing people into showering Him with their finest gifts. It’s also disturbing that a poor little boy feels compelled to curry favor with the infant God, whose smile at the end reminds me of nothing less than the commutation of a death sentence. If the message is supposed to be that Jesus doesn’t want anything except for us to try hard, why doesn’t he reject all those fancy gifts?
(5) Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Bruce Springsteen version) I’m a purist, and songs shouldn’t contain spoken words even at the beginning. Especially not cutesy patronizing banter from a blue collar millionaire. And no, the emphasis in the first line does not belong on the word “Santa,” as any elementary schooler knows.
(6) Christmas Shoes Discussed here. This generally makes the top of most “worst” lists, but it’s far too bad to be worst.

War On Christmas Part 98,232 (Send in the Ex-Marines)

December 20, 2005 | 26 Comments

Temper Fi:

A former Marine took a stab at saving the Christmas spirit yesterday — knocking over a bloody, knife-wielding Santa that was part of a controversial display outside a Manhattan home.
Julius Spohn, 64, of Newark, said he had read about the display in The Post and wanted to see the macabre scene in front of the East 18th Street brownstone belonging to Joel Krupnik and Mildred Castellanos.

Furious after seeing it, he opened the gate, walked into the small front yard and knocked down the “Bad Santa.”

“I think it’s atrocious,” said Spohn of the display, adding that he acted spontaneously when he pushed the gruesome dummy to the ground.

Simper Fi:

Two officers from the 13th Precinct arrived and told Spohn he was wrong to walk onto someone’s property and mess with their possessions.

“I’m 64 years old. I know what I’m doing. I know what I’m saying,” Spohn told the cops.

“No, you don’t,” one officer replied.

The cops — Sgt. Mitch Ortiz and Officer Sandy Quiñones — let Spohn off with a warning after he apologized to Darla [the daughter of the display’s owner] and “she accepted his apology,” Ortiz said.

Spohn said that this was the first time he had ever done anything like this — and promised not to do it again.

But this display wasn’t considered the sort of freedom he was protecting while serving in the military, he added.

God Squad Review CLIII (Converting Oppressed Atheists)

December 19, 2005 | 6 Comments

A Squad reader wants to bring a besieged atheist friend back to the faith:

What do you say to a kind, loving person who says, “There is no God”? My friend and her husband have five children. They became foster parents to four other special-needs children and then adopted them. The husband is in his last days of a six-year battle with cancer. The wife is also battling lymphoma and goes in and out of the hospital for treatment. Obviously, she’s tired when she comes home and has a difficult time caring for her husband. The children all help, but more than that, she has lost her faith. What would you say to her?

The Squad offers a series of self-contradictory suggestions:

(1) “Give her a pass on the question of whether God exists; let God take care of that.”

(2) “When someone says there is no God, it should represent the beginning of a discussion, rather than the end..”

(3) “Rarely can you convince someone of the existence of God.”

Ultimately, they conclude that “God, who loves us all, will have a very special place for her in the world to come.” In other words, it doesn’t matter whether she believes or not.

Personally, I think that when someone says that it doesn”t matter whether one believes in God or not, it should represent the beginning of a discussion rather than the end. Rarely, however, can I convince anyone of this. What do you th___. . . never mind, I’lll give you a pass on this one.

Wickedness

December 18, 2005 | 21 Comments

Evil Ashli continues to impose her belief system upon women.

The End of the Case

December 17, 2005 | 5 Comments

Accused sex attacker Peter Braunstein was captured yesterday after a two-month nationwide manhunt. He was reading Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, which, as I noted here, has an interesting take on the problem of evil — including an enlightening chapter explaining why we should worship a God who kills little children.

I bet if he were reading The End of Faith, we’d never hear the end of it.

Desecration of Sacrilegious Display Spurs Call for Hate Hate Crime Laws

December 16, 2005 | 5 Comments

New York, New York, December 16, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

Religious leaders are calling for new hate hate crime legislation following the desecration of a anti-Christmas display at a Manhattan brownstone.

Police say vandals beheaded a decapitated Barbie doll in “Psycho Santa” exhibit in front of the home of Joel Krupnik, leaving a ransom note demanding that he write “I am sorry for being a bad boy” 1,000 times.

“This cowardly act of desecration strikes at the heart of irreligious freedom,” said William Donohue of the Catholic League. Donohue noted that according to the League’s 2004 Report on Anti-Catholicism, there were over two documented beheadings of statues of the Virgin Mary. Donohue said that the attack on the Krupnik display was an even worse offense because “the hatred of religious hatred threatens to destroy the very foundation of my paranoiac persecution complex.”

Prosecutors are mulling whether charges may be brought under existing law in view of the fact that Krupnik was responsible for the original decapitation of the doll. In a similar case in Wisconsin last year, charges were dropped against a pair of teenagers accused of beating, whipping and scourging a replica of Jesus and impaling it upon a cross with rough spikes splintering the bones of his hands and feet. The testimony at trial revealed that Catholics are comfortable with such sights, apparently under the impression that the suffering of Christ drains sin from their bodies like pus from a boil.

Hefner Comparison Offends Muslims

December 15, 2005 | 5 Comments

New York, New York, December 15, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

The American Muslim community — whose religion was founded by a prophet with thirteen wives including a six year old girl — is up in arms over a feminist icon’s suggestion that Hugh Hefner is “sort of Moslem.” Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem made the comparison in this week’s New York Observer, calling the Playboy magnate “pathetic” for dating four 20-something women at once.

Edina Lekovic of the Muslim Public Affairs Council called upon Steinem to apologize. “To equate Hugh Hefner with any religion is an insult to that religion,” she said. Ibrahim Cooper, commnications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, added that “[[i]f Steinem is truly a person who values inclusiveness and tolerance in society, she should avoid using religious references in her personal disputes.”

Cooper called Hefner a “eunuch” whose women were “too few and too old.” Noting that no pious Muslim would consider a thirty-way bacchanalian pre-teen flesh orgy outside the bounds of matrimony, Cooper said the comparison to Hefner’s undersexed overaged libertine fornication was sacrilegious. “Islam teaches that marriage is an intimate, personal relationship between a man and fifty-seven slavegirls, meant to endure until the end of time or a mass beheading.”

Message of Christmas Marred by Violent Santa Displays

December 13, 2005 | 21 Comments

New York, New York, December 13, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

A holiday display outside a Manhattan brownstone depicting a bloody-bearded Santa holding a knife in one hand, and a severed doll’s head shooting blood from the eyes sockets in the other, has provoked anger from parents who fear the gory display will traumatize their children.

The outrage is the latest in a series around the nation, including one last week in Miami beach in which a blindfolded Santa was hanged from a tree, a noose around his neck and his arms and legs bound with wire.

“Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of a sweet baby, sent to earth to be beaten, whipped, scourged and impaled on a cross with rough spikes splintering the bones of his hands and feet,” said Donna Rossi, the mother of two. “Why are they trying to destroy the meaning of the holiday by exposing our kids to brutal executions involving mythical characters?”

“This is blasphemy,” agreed Father Thomas Mallory, standing in front of an icon of the Virgin Mary miraculously shooting blood from her eye sockets like a South American horned lizard. “The gentle Yuletide message, for which Christ’s flesh was flayed and pierced so that we all may now wash it down with His blood at Communion, is not served by these unholy displays.”

The owner of the Manhattan exhibit, Joel Krupnik, claimed that he was merely protesting the commercialization of the Christmas season. “The moneychangers must be cast out of the Temple,” he said. Scoffing at this excuse, Rossi suggested that she wouldn’t be surprised if an angry, violent mob “decided to teach that crazy Jew a good lesson.”

God Squad Review CLII (Charity)

December 12, 2005 | 111 Comments

The Squad gives incomplete and inconsistent advice to a reader who donates to almost every cause but still feels swamped by an avalanche of charitable appeals. While they correctly note that “[i]n the Gospel of Matthew 25: 31-46, we’re all reminded that we are called to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit those in prison,” it might have been prudent to emphasize that it’s a bit more than a friendly reminder. Those who don’t nourish the sick, naked strangers in the SuperMax are “cursed” and must “depart . . . into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

The Squad also opines that “[t]he point of charity is not only to change the world but also to keep the world from changing you” and suggests the reader restrict the giving to his or her favorite charities. No scripture is cited for this proposition, and it’s not clear exactly what they mean. One the one hand, they could be saying that it doesn’t matter what one gives to so long as one isn’t influenced to change one’s mind about what constitutes a good cause. But even the relativists among you would agree that there’s some difference between giving to this and this.

More likely, the Squad means that charitable giving shouldn’t cause a significant change in one’s own economic condition. In support of this notion, they propose that one shouldn’t be made to feel guilty by thoughts that “there’s more you should be doing” or feel pressured to sell all one’s possessions and move into a refrigerator box. But their reliance on Luke 21: 1-4 –wherein “Jesus praises a woman who gave a small single coin at the temple . . . [and tells] his followers that her generosity was the greatest because what little she had she gave” — obviously doesn’t support that argument. Jesus wasn’t saying that giving less is good — He was saying that charity is meaningful only if you give until it really, really hurts and thereby changes your circumstances, even if you’re already destitute. Indeed, in the example, the poor woman “put in all she had to live on.”

Anka

December 9, 2005 | 10 Comments

Didn’t have to keep it
Wouldn’t put you thru it
You could have swept it from your life
But you wouldn’t do it
No you wouldn’t do it
And you’re having my baby

Paul Anka, You’re Having My Baby, 1974

Don’t Ask, Don’t Care

December 9, 2005 | 60 Comments

“Being pro-choice,” cautions Debbie Nathan, “is a morality that takes you morally out of the picture.”

The words of a pro-life advocate decrying the abortion culture’s abandonment of any pretext of principle? In fact, Ms. Nathan is a proud volunteer for the Haven Coalition, an organization that provides overnight housing for women who flock to New York for elective, late second-trimester abortions. Its clients come from states lacking clinics capable of stomaching the procedure — and Ms. Nathan’s statement is a celebration of her own indifference to the practice, or more specifically, her ability to fully recognize it as evil without really caring.

The New York Magazine article which glorifies Ms. Nathan’s work with Haven spotlights her stint as hostess to “Adeena,” a Pennsylvania refugee who is is 24 years old and 24 weeks pregnant. Adeena has, in Nathan’sown words, a “disturbingly” large belly. Disturbing, as Nathan concedes, because “[l]ate-term abortion is serious, hard-core”:

This afternoon, sticks made of seaweed were inserted into her cervix, and a drug that causes fetal heart failure was injected into her belly. Now the seaweed is getting moist and swelling, and Adeena no longer feels movement in her womb. By tomorrow the swelling will have opened her cervix a few centimeters, allowing a doctor to extract the dead fetus with surgical tools and a vacuum machine.

Nothing about this procedure is so disturbing, serious or hardcore, however, that Haven’s helpers would ever consider discouraging Adeena from undergoing it. The volunteers understand that there are side effects and that “some complications go beyond the medical,” but Adeena’s state of mind, like their morality, is out of the picture. “I don’t know how much Adeena knows about these details,” confesses Nathan. Indeed, nothing about their clients’ circumstances seems to provoke enough curiosity for the simplest of inquiries. “Why did she wait so long? we all wonder. We never ask.

Don’t ask, don’t care. Never mind that sometimes after hosting a guest Nathan has “bad dreams about sick babies.” She simply reminds herself that “my dreams are just dreams, and that they’re less important than my guests’ realities.” But what are her guests’ realities? Don’t ask. At one point Adeena seems on the verge of volunteering her reasons — while watching a video about a girl who aborts to further her boyfriend’s basketball career only to discover that he decided to support the baby — “[b]ut the movie credits are rolling and she asks for lights out . . . I set the alarm, fluff the quilt, and tuck her in.” No need to know. To Nathan, all that matters is that in a few hours, Adeena will “be back on a bus to Philadelphia, free to do her thing, whatever that may be.

Unclear, too, is why Nathan’s dreams are “just dreams” and not “realities.” As Nathan admits, “[a]t 24 weeks, a fetus is at the same stage of development as those gruesome images shown on pro-lifers’ protest placards.” And one volunteer, Jennifer, reported that a client showed her a sonogram and pointed out that the fetus was a boy: “God! I didn’t know what to say.”

So just as they ask no questions, they have no answers. Occasionally, however, enough is learned about a case to be certain that there is no reason for the abortion. And so while Nathan frets that her “worst story is really no story at all” — she then showcases it as a triumph for choice for the sake of mere choice:

The first woman [Haven volunteer] Levine ever hosted was here having a late-term abortion because she had simply “put off” dealing with her pregnancy until it was almost too late. The delay certainly didn’t seem to be for financial reasons: “She had a late-model pickup truck that was better than my car,” remembers Levine, “and I wondered, Why am I the one paying for dinner?”

Levine rolled out the red carpet anyway. “I had to tell myself, ‘Every abortion is the choice of the woman having the abortion'”.

Judgment, nevertheless, is not withheld with respect to some of the clients’ lesser choices. “[S]ome Havenites insist that their guests eat ‘healthy’ food — fresh fish, for instance, or vegetarian.” And Nathan is “annoyed” at her guests’ “crude manners” at a cozy Dominican restaurant. A patient who wanted to go out dancing to 2 a.m. is condemned for “shocking obliviousness.” Silent on the ethics of the procedure that brought Adeena to her home, the bedtime issue makes Nathan “all chatty and gingerbready and just a little bossy. (Now, honey, no staying up too late. We’ve got to get up bright and early to go to the clinic tomorrow!)

Entitled “The New Underground Railroad,” the New York article lacks the courage to devote a single word to justifying the comparison with Miss Tubman’s enterprise. It does summon the effrontry to reframe the entire issue in terms of class. In aid of this cynical diversion we learn that “[m]ost Haven hosts are white, Jewish, well schooled, and political” while “most of the women helped by Haven are black and Latina, with GEDs or less, low literacy skills, and not much civic moxie.” The relevance of any of this to the moral question of abortion question is never explained. What’s important is that Nathan’s tastes run to Film Forum, Cuban bolero and Yiddish theater, so she finds Adeena’s aforementioned video selection, Coach Carter, to be as unsubtle as Adeena finds her hostess’s own CD collection to be “uncool.”

This conceit, which pervades the article, itself has all the subtlety of most Hollywood interracial buddy movies. As Nathan said of Coach Carter, “the plot is so thin it’s obvious they’ll all be hugging by the end.” At the clinic goodbye scene, Adeena thanks Nathan for making her feel “just like you was my moms.” The hugging is made easier than when they first met by the intervening extraction of swollen seaweed sticks and a dead fetus with surgical tools and a vacuum machine — details which, as noted, Nathan’s sense of noblesse oblige for some reason never compelled her to disclose.

Haven volunteer Katha Pollitt preciously ponders whether she is patronizing her charges by offering them People Magazine. “Maybe they’d rather read The Nicomachean Ethics,” she muses. The reader is then patronized by the suggestion every serious moral issue raised can be explained in terms of class differences. “Sometimes, bridging the divide is just impossible: One patient walked into a volunteer’s home, looked around, said she was going out for a smoke, and never came back,” writes Nathan. Perhaps if these poor, desperate, immature women would only develop a taste for Bolero, Yiddish theater and Aristotle, they’d more fully appreciate Mademoiselle Nathan’s gift of abortion.

Nathan’s white woman’s burden, however, is not shared by all of her race. One day outside the clinic another “white, well dressed” woman scolds a young Latina about “killing your baby.” Although this is precisely how, for all intents and purposes, Nathan views the “serious, hardcore” act, the protester’s willingness to articulate it — to actually care — now somehow renders her “birdlike,” i.e., birdbrained, flighty, inhuman. And despite her presumed illiteracy and lack of civic moxie, for the purpose of the anecdote the young patient is suddenly transformed into a fully informed, empowered moral agent who deflects her detractor with a blast of urban sass: “Get the hell outta my way what business is it of yours fuckin’ goddamned puta bitch!

In short, the Haven Coalition exploits the powerlessness, ignorance and trust of impoverished minority strangers to insure that they kill their unborn children without a second thought. Its volunteers do not bother to discover or understand their clients’ individual circumstances, nor do they care what they are. Their sole mission is to encourage conduct they consider reprehensible for no better reason than the lack of any reason at all.

[Note: This post is a slightly revised version of an essay I first published at The Dawn Patrol yesterday. In the comments there, Jill of Feministe disputes my implication that Haven volunteers are ever in a position to influence their clients’ abortion decision, asserting the first half the procedure is performed before the parties are introduced. I have responded to that comment.]

December 8

December 8, 2005 | Comments Off

DEUS, qui per immaculatam Virginis Conceptionem dignum Filio tuo habitaculum praeparasti: quaesumus; ut, qui ex morte ejusdem Filii tui praevisa, eam ab omni labe praeservasti, nos quoque mundos ejus intercessione ad te pervenire concedas.

Atheist Company Declares War On Christmas

December 6, 2005 | 28 Comments

Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

Atheist-run Beyond Belief Media has formally declared war on Christmas, the December 25 holiday in which Christians celebrate the birth of the mythical figure Jesus Christ, the company announced today.

“Christian conservatives complain nonstop about the ‘War on Christmas,’ but there really isn’t any such war,” said Beyond Belief Media president Brian Flemming, a former fundamentalist Christian who is now an atheist activist. “So we have decided to wage one, to demonstrate what it would look like if Jesus’ birthday were truly attacked.”

As its opening salvo, Beyond Belief Media has purchased advertisements this week in the New York Times, USA Today and the New Yorker magazine. The company’s 300-member volunteer “street team” is also descending on Christmas-themed public events with random “guerilla giveaways” of Beyond Belief’s acclaimed documentary The God Who Wasn’t There.

“No Christmas pageant or Nativity display is safe from our troops,”said Flemming. “Wherever the mythical figure Jesus is celebrated as if he were real, we will be there with an information barrage. We will undercut the idea that there is any point at all to celebrating the ‘birth’ of a character in a fairy tale.”

“Obviously our ‘War on Christmas’ is a bit tongue-in-cheek,” said Flemming. “But the Christian myth does dominate U.S. culture, and there’s no time better than Christmas to take a fresh look at that myth and see it for what it is.”

“Obviously, this story you are now reading about Flemming’s ‘War on Christmas’ is just another of my website’s news parodies,” said The Raving Atheist, a blogger who supplies commentary on one of the DVD’s audio tracks. “The notion that an atheist organization would ever be in a position to run ads in the New York Times, USA Today and the New Yorker is so preposterious that only the most gullible among us would believe it,” he added. “Just check the papers for yourselves, and rest assured that your children are safe.”

God Squad Review CLI (Internet Use/Retirement)

December 5, 2005 | 10 Comments

A woman whose husband spends all night on the computer every weekend asks the Squad how to save her 20-year marriage. Although he never leaves the house, all her friends think he’s met someone on the internet. The Squad has its suspicions, too:

Your friends are probably right. Nobody stays up for hours on the Internet researching the mating practices of the Australian platypus. Our guess is Internet porn or chat rooms. If your husband is never gone, however, it’sunlikely he’s connected with anyone. But that could soon follow. There are computer programs to track his Net surfing, and of course you can check up on credit card charges to porn sites.

* * *

You must help your husband remember that the best place to have fun is with family. The Bible reminds us that we can’t just let other people throw their lives away: “You shall surely reproach your neighbor if you see him sin or his sin will be yours as well” (Leviticus 19:17).

What a cynical bunch. Why wouldn’t a guy be interested in this at 4:00 a.m.? I can’t imagine where they got such a low opinion of men. And didn’t they ever hear of “blogging”? Guys have intellectual needs, too. How do they know that the man isn’t running some Catholic site, or perhaps churning out a weekly post attacking their column? No need to call the dogs on him like that (and why not just burst into the computer room real quick to see what’s on the screen rather than some buying some complicated tracking program?).

In any event, Leviticus 19 is not the solution. Maybe 19:17 is okay, but 19:20 says he can sleep with an unemancipated slave girl as long as he sacrifices a ram in front of a tent afterwards. And under 19:19, the guy’s wife could get in trouble for wearing a wool/linen blend.

On the other hand, Leviticus does have the virtue of definiteness. That’s more than I can say about the Squad’s answer to the next letter, from a retiree who’s “getting bored playing golf and cards and going to early-bird specials.” He’s tried mediation and a number of preachers, but is just depressed and confused. The Squad advises him to do something — literally:

Our advice on how to hear God’s commands for your life when you are spiritually clueless is similar to our advice to people who are clueless on how to pick a career: Do something. Then, after you’re doing something for a while, think about whether it’s working for you spiritually. If it isn’t working, then do something else. If the something else also does not float your spiritual boat and you don’t feel that your life is in synch with God, our final can’t miss advice is: Do something else that isn’t like the two things you just did.

And to think these two command a $12,500 appearance fee. They could at least make specific suggestions. For example, the man could try taking up golf or cards or going to early-bird specials. If none of those work, he could something completely different like meditation or church. It’s can’t-miss advice!

Save Julia Sweeney (Updated)

December 4, 2005 | 37 Comments

Comedienne Julia Sweeney reports on her blog that she’s leaving Desperate Housewives to spend next year preaching atheism through her “Letting Go of God” book, movie and stage franchise:

The time seems right. Things have changed so much, even since I opened the show a year and a half ago. For example, when I opened my show here in Los Angeles, and I got to the part where I talk about Intelligent Design, I felt that about 30% of the audience knew what I was talking about. But now, EVERYONE knows what I’m talking about. Absolutely everyone. It seems like the topic of religion is exploding right now, all over the place. And I really, really, really want to be doing my show.

So far, so good. But before she gets started, she’s going on a cruise and doing a little reading. Number 2 on her list is “Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.” Sweeney writes:

It’s terrible and astonishing that I have not read any Ayn Rand. I think I was put off by her maniacal (it seems to me — in my ignorance) free market solutions to all problems. But I am ready to give her a try and so many people have come to my show and mentioned her — it’s really a sin that I haven’t read her yet.

No it’s not a sin because there’s no such thing as sin, but DON’T DO IT — they’re the BAD ATHEISTS!!! Of course lots of Randites flock to your show and babble about her — only cult-minded atheists are motivated enough to go to live atheistic performances (the rest of us just watch them on cable or DVD). But Rand thought selfishness was a virtue, glamorized rape, thought a rational woman would never want to be president, hated gays and loved abortion. Bad crowd, Julia, bad crowd — read this book instead.

If you’ve got a better idea, go tell her — she completed the move to Blogspot and her blog’s got a comment section now.

UPDATE: I, Egoist responds (angrily).

High Court Weighs Parental Notification for Shoplifting

December 3, 2005 | 33 Comments

Washington D.C., December 3, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

The U.S. Supreme heard a challenge Wednesday to a New Hampshire law requiring that a parent be notified if a child is detained for shoplifting.

The case arose out of an incident in which a teenage girl attempted suicide when, after being caught stealing from a local store, her mother subjected her to what she described as a “piercing silence” on the drive home.

Opponents of the law claim the girl’s case is typical. “Millions of children face abuse at the hands of parents who harbor irrational objections to individualized economic redistribution initiatives,” said Jill Lauren of the Property is Theft Society (the PITS). “Furthermore, in some cases a parent is responsible for the situation, having trained the child in merchandise removal skills and being all too eager to conceal the act from the authorities and take a disproportionate share of the proceeds.”

Lauren noted that a child who comes to the PITS instead will receive non-judgmental counseling on how to dispose of the goods without unwarranted interference from parental or governmental authorities. The PITS runs a nationwide chain of property exchange centers, or “pawn” shops, which accept merchandise at a discount and return a portion of the sale proceeds to any shopkeeper who agrees to keep the matter out of the courts. “The PITS recognizes and respects that people have differing views regarding constitutes ‘ownership,’ and believes that the complex choices resulting from that conflict of rights are best made without state intrusion.”

Lauren added that a child is far better served by Jack-What’s-His-Name from God-Knows-Where that she’s met two minutes before at the PITS than parents with a pronounced bias in the matter. “Property right are a private matter between a child and her fence,” she said.

Ms. Lauren scoffed at the notion that striking down the law could lead to parents ultimately being cut out of decisions involving their children’s and grandchildren’s medical treatment. “Shoplifting is not a life or death matter,” she noted. “In fact, if we were even debating something as serious as that, it would be a sure sign that this country had gone completely out of its fucking mind.”

Holiday Appeal

December 1, 2005 | 88 Comments

December, again, and Christmas memories from a distant, innocent childhood haunt this atheist’s aching, empty heart.

When this spirit seizes me, I can see past the dogma, forgive the misguided messengers, and grasp the essential meaning of Christ’s birth. Before the feeling deserts me, I’d like to ask my readers, believers and skeptics alike, to come together for an important cause. Take a few minutes off from your shopping and forget the about the Xboxes and Ipods. Instead, look deep into your hearts and deeper into your wallets to do what Jesus would do:

Please give generously to Jill of Feministe’s holiday drive to finance elective second-trimester abortions.

Unfortunately, Santa’s bag isn’t full of forceps and none of his reindeer are named Dilation or Extraction. It’s up to you. I know I’ve been down on abortion in the past, but my objections concerned only the first and third trimester procedures. At four to six months, the fetus is neither too chewy nor too crunchy but, like Mama bear’s porridge, just right. Maybe my line-drawing seems a bit arbitrary to you, but of course it’s all arbitrary, mind-dependent and up to the conscience of every person.

So max out your Amex and give a present that you’ll never have to wrap (it gets red-bagged). And keep in mind, as Jill points out, “[t]he right to choose is meaningless if only middle and upper-income women, or women in the bluest states, have access to it.” Just as it’s hard to enjoy the pile of toys under the tree knowing that so many children are going without, well-off women find their second-trimester abortions unfulfilling unless they know the poor are also going without children. It’s all about the quality of life, and the quality suffers if the children of those people suddenly start swarming into your neighborhood.

Take care not to give too much, however. The right to choose also becomes meaningless if life is one of the choices. Putting these women in an economic position to keep the child is coercion. And it’s hopeless, anyway: as Jill notes, most of these women have “spent every penny they have on transportation, the procedure itself, and often childcare for their kids, who they have to leave at home.” So they have no money, which means no more food — ever — and even their existing children will be dead from starvation in two weeks. And even if they manage to eke out a living, they’re better off dead than experiencing the misery of childhood poverty in broken homes like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

So limit your contribution to around $2,000, the amount of the abortionist’s fee. If that’s too much, remember that no gift is too small. A mere $20 is enough to pluck off a tiny arm for the Little Drummer Boy if his own gets tired and he needs a spare.

And don’t let the Grinches steal Christmas! Jill links to an article containing this passage so you’ll know what they look like:

As we entered Parkmed Eastern Women’s Center, a scary nun and toothless old man divebombed Desiree, surrounding her like autograph-seekers, begging her not to kill her baby.

Ghouls! You’d think this was Halloween, not Christmas. As the article also notes, “[r]eal men and women raised with Roe have complex responses to abortion” — who needs fake men and women (with poor dental hygiene, no less) adding to the complexity by articulating the very issues that make it complex? In any event, you can rest assured that the clinic staff itself takes the decision very seriously and will provide thorough, non-judgmental counseling to make sure the woman really wants the abortion. Believe me –they’ll make sure she really wants it.

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