Archive | January 2013

25 things…volume one, February 20, 2009

1.  I love you, Tammy.

2.  I know I’m fat; I’m working on losing it.

3.  I quit drinking because I discovered I was becoming a huge pain in the ass.

4.  I really DID want to draw your portrait.  Seriously.

5.  It was really hard being short, smart, shy, and the only boy with glasses in my junior high.  I got viciously teased for three years by nearly everyone…even some of the girls.  Terry Rollison, if you’re out there, thank you for not being one of them.  You made the difference.

6.  When I was 14, I could run the 100 metres in under 12 seconds.  I know, big deal.  But I could.

7.  For those of you who were my students and have told me how much you appreciate having had me as a teacher, the thought makes me smile every day.  You kids gave me more than I ever could’ve given you.  Thank you.  I mean that.

8.  I gave up teaching for a while because I was tired of being thought of by administration as somehow second-rate.

9.  It’s only hair, guys.  Save your money and say to hell with Rogaine.

10.  All those self-help books are just complete nonsense.  Put your boots on and kick yourself in the ass.  You probably needed it, anyway.  I know I did.

11.  The most important thing in your life isn’t stuff.  I started throwing stuff out when I turned 35.  At the time of writing, I’m nearly 44, and you should see the size of the pile!

12.  I’ve discovered two simple truths.  The first is to never tell ’em everything.

13.  I really don’t care about what people think of me.  I’m me.  Deal with it.

14.  It’ll get done when it gets done.  There’s only one of me.

15.  I don’t know a lot; I just know where to find it.

16.  I don’t need to see photos of you drunk.  I’ve been there; it’s not pretty.

17. “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.”  – Dr. Robert Schuller

18.  I don’t want your chain emails; send them somewhere else.

19.  Life’s too short to not smile once in a while.

20.  Never take yourself too seriously.  You have no idea how goofy you look.

21.  I quote Mark Twain a lot.  Fortunately, he was usually right.

22.  I need my money, so I’m frugal.  My time, on the other hand, is free.

23.  Ask me nicely, and you’ll probably get the answer you wanted.

24.  I’m a guy.  We look, ladies.  Get over it.

25.  George Carlin was too smart for the rest of us.  R.I.P., George… 

25 Things…Part 2, April 29, 2009

1.  I still love you, Tammy.  More, even.
2.  Some of the best music was written and performed in the early 1970s.  It might make me seem old to some of you, but it should.  I’m probably more than twice your age.
3.  I just work at Wal-Mart; I’m not looking for a career there.  But changes are likely coming…
4.  I’m serious about the email chain letters.  DON’T SEND ME ONE!
5.  If you feel the need to send me something, just make it a real message.  I don’t have time to sift through the cute stuff.
6.  I really don’t know everything.  But I really DO know where to find it.
7.  You can’t have everything; where would you put it all?
8.  The perfect gift for someone who has everything is something to put it in.
9.  Items 7 and 8 came from my paternal grandfather and grandmother respectively.  They were a perfect match for each other.  R.I.P.
10.  Every time I get a haircut, there’s less and less to cut.  Shouldn’t I pay less each time?
11.  A wise man knows when to shut up.  A husband almost always crosses the line.
12.  “I’m sorry” doesn’t necessarily mean “You’re right.”
13.  I get less and less attached to “stuff” as I get older.  Now I realize most of it is just SHIT.
14.  I really did quit drinking in 1988 because I was becoming a complete asshole.  I’m happy with just being a partial asshole.
15.  Every new husband must know — and MEAN — these sentences:  “I love you;” “I’m sorry;” “I was wrong;” “It was all my fault;” and “I’ll try my hardest to make sure it never happens again.”
16.  If mama ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy.
17.  The portraits you see on my Facebook albums are really drawn by me.  No art school, no lessons, just curiosity and years of practice.  Good work takes time.
18.  To my former students:  it’s been interesting watching you become adults.  Some of you have made me proud, some of you have made me blush, and some of you have made me nauseous.  Some of you have done all three.
19.  I didn’t realize how many people I knew until I started my Facebook page.  Most of you are younger than me.  Some of you are a LOT younger than me.
20.  I REALLY don’t need to see your photos of the party last weekend.  Read item #18 for the reason.
21.  A finely-tuned engine shouldn’t be audible from blocks away!  BUY A DECENT EXHAUST SYSTEM!
22.  My wife and I belong to the Lions Club because we see too much not getting done by people who seem to need rewards to do the right thing.  Lions Serve!
23.  I respect and value one thing above all.  If you know me, you know what that is.
24.  Here’s 35 cents…call someone who gives a shit.
25.  Someday, I will work for myself.  Lane, Nickey…you know what I mean.

How Christians Stole the Winter Solstice Holiday

Christians celebrate the Nativity (also known as the birth of the alleged Jesus) every December 25.  Contrary to popular belief, no evidence exists to tell us that this Jesus was born in December.  The Bible doesn’t give any hint of a winter season birth for a Jesus “the Christ.”  In fact, there is no corroborating evidence at all for the existence of a historical Jesus, not even from the Roman historian Josephus, who was known for his attention to detail.

None of the practices connected to Christmas come from any Christian origin at all.  The traditions and practices currently attached to Christmas derived from pre-Christian Roman, Germanic, and Celtic people who celebrated the winter solstice.  The use of mistletoe, holly, wassail bowls, Yule logs and decorating a tree derived from early pagan customs.  Many European countries still call this celebration “Yule-tide” meaning “wheel time,” or the cycles of time.  

The Persian Mithras cult spread during the 3rd and 4th centuries B.C.E. and is the source of so-called Christian ceremonies and rites such as baptism, communion wafer, and Sunday rest.  On December 25, the sacrifice of a bull celebrated the Sol invictus (the invincible sun) and announced the birth of a sun god who appeared as a newborn baby from a cave or a rock.

The Romans observed a celebration of the Winter Solstice on December 25th as a yearly renewing of the sun.  The Romans also celebrated the Saturnalia festival from December 17th to the 24th to honour Saturn, the god of grain and agriculture.  The festival was a time of goodwill devoted to giving gifts and visiting friends.

At the beginning of the first century C.E., Christianity was becoming a fledgling religion, but Christians did not celebrate the birth of Jesus until the 4th century C.E..  The motive for the introduction of this celebration was aimed at undermining the practice of pagan rituals like Mithra and Saturnalia.  The Nativity was introduced by Pope Liberius on December 25th, 354 C.E..

By the 5th century C.E., Christmas had become so customary that it began to mark the beginning of the ceremonial year.

Today, we still celebrate with mistletoe, giving presents and decorating trees, none of which has any connection to Christian mythology.  Instead, opt for the earlier secular celebration of the Winter Solstice!  It represents an actual event, and the universe presents us with far more incredible events than anyone in any religion has ever “created.”

IF

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If we assume that the Bible is correct, then we must assume that mankind was created in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) on the sixth day (Genesis 1:27); we must also assume that mankind was told to not eat from the “Tree of Knowledge,” and that if we did, we would die (Genesis 2:17, Genesis 3:3).  Since Eve listened to a talking serpent who told her that eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge wouldn’t kill mankind (Genesis 3:5), then she told Adam the same thing (Genesis 3:6), then God was justified in punishing them for disobedience (Genesis 3:16-19).

IF.

IF we assert that mankind was created on the sixth day after “Let there be light,” we are delusional; I won’t go into the ponderous scientific evidence that denies the claim that mankind was created on the sixth day after light came into existence.

IF we assert that there was some “Tree of Knowledge” that bore fruit which, when eaten, magically gave us awareness of good and evil and whether or not we were naked (Genesis 3:7), we are gullible.  Notice that mankind didn’t die after Adam and Eve ate the fruit?  God LIED to Adam and Eve!  Good and evil are subjective and are agreed upon collectively; as for the naked part, mankind started to wear garments because we needed protection from the elements.  As we evolved and spread into colder regions, we needed to cover ourselves.

IF we believe that serpents can talk, we need medication.  While all animal species have ways of communicating, only mankind is capable of speech.

IF we believe that Adam and Eve were punished by God for disobedience, okay.  Any rational parent would punish their kids for disobedience.  But IF we believe the Bible, we must believe that God evicted Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23) after lying to them about a rule which turned out to be false!!

IF we believe that Adam and Eve were punished for this “original sin,” why would God continue to hold that over the heads of mankind for eternity?  Would you punish your grandkids for something your kids did?  Sounds vindictive and cruel to me, especially considering the sin is connected to a lie by God. There is no indication anywhere in Genesis that anything God created was ever intended to be perfect. Adam and Eve were never told that perfection was expected of them; all they were told was “Don’t eat from the tree of knowledge or you’ll die.” Were they disobedient? Yes. Were they told the truth about the tree of knowledge? No! Adam and Eve did NOT die after eating from the tree! If taking responsibility for violating moral law requires hereditary motivation, shouldn’t Adam and Eve have received that motivation from their father, their “creator?” God demonstrated his morals by lying to his children to enforce their obedience; the source of the Original Sin is the Original Lie.

IF we believe all of this without thinking about it, we have fallen for a story designed to intimidate the ignorant into blind obedience.

IF we look carefully at the details, we must ask ourselves IF any of it is worthy of belief, including the existence of God.  I have asked myself that question, and my answer is “No.”

If god created everything…

For the sake of argument, let’s say that god exists and that god created the universe – including heaven and hell – and let’s also assume each person has a soul. As creator of the universe, god also created the rules by which the universe operates, including the criteria by which souls are judged. Since everything happens according to god’s will, god is ultimately responsible for everything. That must, by logic, include whether or not people go to hell. Therefore the decision to send anyone to hell is made by god. That makes god judgmental and vindictive, not kind and merciful.

Don’t believe me? Okay; let’s assume, for the sake of argument, the following: one, that there is a god; two, that god created two people and told them not to eat from the tree of knowledge, but a talking serpent convinced one of them to eat from the tree; and three, that god punished these people by granting them free will, allowing them to know good and evil.

Why would god then punish people (for using the free will he granted them) by threatening them with eternal damnation? Also, why would god punish later generations for that same mistake when they had nothing to do with it?

I refuse to put any belief in an illogical system that requires us to spend our twenty-first century lives apologizing for having been given the freedom to make our own decisions. Instead, after much thought and consideration, I have become an atheist.

Atheists say that there is no verifiable evidence of the existence of a deity in any religion. Those who believe in a deity must therefore have faith which, by definition, is “confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.” Therefore, to have faith is to disregard logic and evidence. To hold onto an idea that cannot be proven by logic and/or evidence is to suffer from delusion, which is defined as “a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.”

From that, can we say that the faithful suffer from a delusion?

(Definitions from http://www.Dictionary.com)

Why I Don’t Subscribe to Any Particular Religion

– with thanks to George Carlin and Christopher Hitchens –

I have to say that when it comes to bullshit, and I mean major-league bullshit, not even government can top religion’s list of false promises and exaggerated claims.

Christianity, for example, has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day, and this guy has a special list of ten things he doesn’t want you to do, and if you do any of those ten things, he has a special place filled with fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he’ll send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry, for ever and ever, until the end of time.

But he loves you.

He loves you, and he needs your money! He always needs someone’s money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, and somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, doesn’t pay any taxes, and always seems to need a little bit more cash.

I’ve really tried to believe that there is a god who created each of us in his own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things, but the older I get and the more I look around, the more I realize that something is very wrong. I see war, disease, genocide, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime and corruption, and I have to say that if this is the best god can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the resumé of a supreme being. This is what you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. Between you and me, in any decently-run universe, this guy would’ve been out on his all-powerful ass a long time ago. By the way, I say this “guy” because I firmly believe that, looking at these results, if there is a god, it has to be a man. No woman would’ve made this much of a mess of things.

If there is a god, I think most reasonable people might agree that he’s at least incompetent, and maybe – just maybe – doesn’t give a shit (incidentally, I admire a person who’s willing to admit they don’t give a shit – at least you know they’re not lying to you), and which would explain a lot of these bad results. So rather than mindlessly, aimlessly and blindly believing that all of this is in the hands of some spooky, incompetent father figure who doesn’t give a shit, I decided to look around for something else I can really count on to worship. Immediately, I thought of the Sun. It happened overnight; just like that, I became a Sun worshipper. Okay, it didn’t happen overnight; you can’t see the Sun at night, but the first thing the next morning, I was right there, worshipping my fat ass off.

Here’s why: first, I can see the Sun, unlike some other gods I could mention. Visibility lends a lot toward credibility. Second, the Sun gives me heat and light, it makes plants and animals grow, so from that I get food, which is pretty important. The trade-off is the occasional skin cancer, but at least we don’t have to put up with crucifixions. Third, the Sun doesn’t ask us to set people on fire just because they have a different opinion than we do. Fourth, there’s no need for mystery, miracles or pageantry; nobody asks for money to support it, there are no songs to learn, and we don’t have to build a special building where we all get together once a week to compare clothing. We just need some sunscreen and a hat. Fifth, the Sun never tells me I’m unworthy or that I’m a bad person who needs to be “saved.”

So I worship the sun, but I don’t pray to it. I think praying to the sun would be presumptuous. I’ve often thought that people treat god rudely. Think about it; trillions of prayers every day, asking and pleading for favours – “Do this, I need that, I want a better job’ – and most of this happens on Sunday – his day off. That’s no way to treat someone. I wouldn’t ask a butcher, for example, to carve up a side of beef instead of taking the kids to the beach.

But people pray for a lot of different things; I say fine, pray for whatever you want, but what about the Divine Plan? A long time ago, god gave it a lot of thought, decided he’d come up with a good plan, put it into practice, and for billions of years the Divine Plan has been doing just fine. Now you come along and pray for something, and suppose the thing you want isn’t in the Divine Plan? Should the Plan be changed just because you have a special request? Doesn’t that seem a little arrogant? What’s the use of being god if some asshole with a 2-dollar prayer book can come along and mess up your plan?

Suppose your prayer isn’t answered; what are you going to say? “Well, it’s God’s will. Thy will be done.” Fine, but if it’s god’s will, and god’s going to do what god wants to anyway, why even bother praying in the first place? Seems like a waste of time and energy to me.

If you need something in writing to support your views, what about the Bible? For moral lessons or literary quality, you might want to consider that the Bible’s a book written by many authors over many years in several languages, and edited by many people in several groups over many sessions in several countries under the authority of many different Popes (don’t even get me started on Popes). There’s no way any written document that’s gone through that many hands will make any kind of sense or subscribe to any one moral code. Assuming god exists, and assuming that god created man…if man is guilty of original sin, then man is imperfect, including issues involving our moral character. Our imperfections prevent us from making moral judgments and in determining correct choices for ourselves. How, then, can we determine if by choosing to follow god, we’ve made a correct choice? How can we determine if god’s moral character allows him to make correct judgments? We were created in his image, weren’t we? If we’re imperfect, what does that make him?

If one believes that God’s word is eternal and applies to everyone, then why do some Christians ignore sections of the Bible – which is said to be the word of God – and choose to follow only those parts with which they agree? The Old Testament includes references to God permitting slavery – even selling your own daughter (Exodus 21:7) and genocide (Exodus 12:29-30). Seems a little drastic to me; maybe that’s why belief is selective. Some Christians might say that they follow specifically the teachings of Jesus Christ, who said that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Therefore, if you follow the teachings of Jesus, who said to live by EVERY word of God, either you live by ALL of God`s words, or you live by NONE of them. If you live by every word, you`ll have to agree with the practices of slavery and genocide; if you live by none of them, you can`t call yourself a Christian, because you`d be disobeying the teachings of Christ. The way I see it, you don`t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you`ll follow. One person might disagree with one particular verse while another person may perceive no problem at all with it; instead, the second person might choose to disagree with one entire BOOK which the first person upholds completely. The whole idea is ridiculously self-contradictory and can only lead to a sort of conflict that has spawned more than one major war. I choose to avoid the conflict altogether and follow the teachings of reason and rational thinking, having discovered that I no longer need religion in my life.

So what do I believe? There is no proof of the existence of any deity, so instead of ‘commandments,” I adhere to these morals:
• Treat others the way you want to be treated.
• Form independent opinions from your own reason and experience.
• Always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
• Live in peace with everyone, without regret or need for apology.
• Protect the defenceless.
• Inform the ignorant.
• Hide your face in shame if you dare to harm a child.
• Don’t think about using people as private property.
• Don’t condemn people on the basis of their sexual preference, ethnicity or colour.
• Leave valuable contributions for future generations.
• Teach a man to fish, then fish with him.
• Be willing to renounce any god or faith if any of their “commandments” contradict any of the above.
• Support those who follow these ideas.

To quote the late Christopher Hitchens:
“Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody – not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms – had the smallest idea of what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance, and other infantile needs).”