Book Exchange with Religious Experiement

A while back I mentioned that I was engaging in a book exchange.

My book arrived today – Letters from a Skeptic.

A book that compiled correspondence between a believer son and a non-believer father. What that non-belief means, I’ll find out when I read – as often, Christians view the unchurched, cafeteria or angry at god people with people who do not have any of the same beleifs.

So, we’ll see if it’s an actually skeptical perspective or just anger/dislike denier/fallen faithful.

In any case, I am most interested in the son half of the equation, and what learning his understanding, will do for mine.

Thanks Jenny – let’s have some fun.

As a side note, Jenny is a slower reader while I am an avid reader.

I actually went to a bookstore to find something to read while I was waiting for my Mom. I was going to buy a book on Physics for beginners, I want to explore something new.

And I almost bought:

When I randomly came across this and got it instead.

So I am also reading:

Why Elvis is still not considered an artist

Howard Jackson’s Treat Me Nice and books by Susan Doll are ushering in a new wave of Elvis writing.

Not retelling stories and facts, but digging for meaning and artistry – taking Elvis seriously as an artist, flaws and all.

A guest post hits right on point – something that I’ve been struggling to express and am humbled by the elegant and logical manner in which it is explained why Elvis continues to not be considered an artist.

When interviewed and asked about his aspirations, it was always to make a middle class life for his parents, then it was about making people happier and lightening their day for the duration of a song, a movie or a concert.

No message, just straight entertainment. As the man said himself prior to being the first world wide broadcast of a one man entertainment program in 1973.

Perhaps, this is why it could only be Elvis – because being made happy and entertained for just a short time, is the only thing we complex and diverse humans can agree to.

Which is why I think that perhaps the reason that Elvis isn’t considered an artist who made major social change – revolutionary social change no less – is because he was Southern – and not the ideal sort of educated, obviously left leaning and non-religious – as other entertainers who are deemed artists present themselves.

Elvis was a shy humble country boy who never forgot his roots or what it was like to go without. Which is why Elvis not only paid the highest amount of personal taxes of any American, but that his philosophy of money was that it was only good when used as manure – spread around to do the most good.

Elvis as a Southern Charismatic Pentacostal, he believed in speaking in tongues and laying on hands healing. But he was not a religious simpleton – he was savvy enough to avoid the Scientiologists, and he made a private study of world religions.

In the 1950’s he tore down the musical barrier between the white and black halves of the nation and in the 1970’s, he celebrated multiculturalism – never limiting himself to any genre of music, Elvis sang anyone and everyone.

Elvis even covered Aussie hitmaker Olivia Newton-John’s country hits “If You Love Me Let me Know” and others when the country music industry was creating an American country music awards show just to prevent non-Americans from country stardom, as if you can’t sing country if you weren’t born to it.

In his stage wear, Elvis drew from Chinese, Aztec and Middle Eastern philosophies, donned karate inspired jumpsuits with Chinese dragons, Indian Tigers, Aztec sundials and all manner of viral and vibrant imagery from cultures across the globe and history.

Elvis was not the American Dream, Elvis was the Human Dream – to rise on talent and tenacity alone – to become The King.

Elvis continues to be discounted as an artist because of the very versatility and un-pin-down-ableness of his appeal – Elvis can mean anything to anyone – that’s the strength of him for individuals and the weakness of him for the masses.

Alpha, Elvis, Omega

This is what’s fucked up with religion

From the CNN report:

Afghan prosecutors announced Wednesday that a young rape victim, jailed for adultery after reporting the crime and pushed into marrying her attacker, would have her sentence reduced from twelve to three years. The prosecutor said she would, for now, remain in jail — with her child — for not reporting her attack fast enough.

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When religious sexism exists in a society where religion is as government, we have a woman being raped, forced to marry her rapist and then jailed for failure to quickly report a crime for which she will be blamed and punished.

This woman was raped by a man then victimized by her culture and legal authorities.

But because she’s been raised to beleive the unmitigated and appalling nonsense of a religion that asserts women as lesser than men, she has no expectation of corrective action or any kind of justice or protection.

She is blamed for being a temptress, for igniting passion – except that we know rape has nothing to do with passion and everything to do with power – for basically being a woman.

And while Sandra Posey’s country ballad may be a laugh on girl’s night out:

Women do not have to accept this lesser state.

Especially not in democratic secular nations where equality is the law of the land.

Which is why American was founded on the idea of the individual being the social unit of consequence and not families or tribes or religious groups.

The promise of Life Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness was to be able to be in charge of your own life, and able to take liberties with whatever makes you happy as an individual.

America was not founded upon any religious ideals and every social fight to establish in fact what was already established in law – equality – has been a battle against religious thinking.

There is no reason for any person, because of their gender, ethnicity, beliefs, capabilities or sexuality to be lesser than in a society that promises everyone equality under the law.

What causes that inequality to exist in a culture is the religious beliefs of the population, because religion is a system to organize the world according to the beliefs of the religion – that women are lesser than, children should be seen and not heard and no sparing the rod for fear of spoiling the child.

It is the religious idea that one group is better than other groups, and the battle for best of all groups is the substance of inter-religious fighting and violence; and when that can’t be expressed, it becomes social discrimination and bigotry.

It is a religious idea that we shouldn’t have sex – one thing that we can do that makes us feel loved and connected to another person and by extension, to society.

If a religion can convince you that having sex that makes you feel loved and cherished is wrong, evil even, then they can convince you of anything. Even dying a virginal martyr.

If we are ever going to fulfill our highest potential, we have to put away such harmful and limiting ideas as religion.

As a society, we’ve become so disconnected from each other, living in terror and fear that others will bring harm to us or ours. Depriving ourselves or allowing ourselves to be deprived of human intimacy, love, warmth and diversity.

The only meaningful difference between a cult and a religion is the degree of personal freedom you have combined with how much contact you have with non-members. If your whole world is homogenous, you have a cult problem.

If religion is something that’s a matter of private consideration and your life is conducted within the mainstream context of your society, then you have a religious challenge to ensure education and exposure with the broader world than your geography physically allows and that there are no barriers within your brain to being competent with secular information and concepts, such as equality of people being given as a matter of citizenship, not by accident of birth or life circumstances.

Life is hard enough without making it harder than it has to be for ourselves and others.

Sometime today, the BC Supreme Court will be handing down a ruling on the community of Bountiful – Canada’s least kept secret polygamy community.

There are many arguments that can be made for polygamy, but not as it is practised religiously. There is no possible equality when girls are assigned to grandpa-husbands and boys are cast out from the community, doomed in life because they haven’t been educated and prepared to live in the world outside their closed community, and doomed in their minds as being cast out and failing to secure at least three wives means no heaven.

It’s little wonder that these lost boys become truly lost and that the girls live under the stay sweet command of passivity.

There can be no secular democratic society of legal and in fact equality when so many people are cultural shut ins in communities that are varying degrees of closed to outside and non-religious information and influences.

We do not own our children, they are their own people. It is the responsibility of parents to prepare their children to exist in the world – which is a very big place, full of many cultures and storied histories.

It is absolute child abuse to raise your child ignorant of the world. It is an impairment to their development to have them exist in a bubble reality that is homogenous and non-reality driven.

Children learn about the world in stages, first their homelife, then their peers – and how their homlife compares to other homelifes in the same society, We become exposed to more the older we become.

But children who are only exposed to one mode of thinking and being, are mentally hobbled when it comes to understanding and navigating the larger world. A world that is increasingly smaller with every technological advance.

We’re a plane ride away from anywhere and mere clicks away from other people in other countries.

In some ways, Canada is uniquely positioned to be a guide for America.

Being your northern neighbour, we are the mouse that roared. We look like you, we act in similar ways, but our mindset is different. We’re go alongers, mediators, facilitatores, peace keepers.

We have no illusion about our place in the world or our ability to punch above our weight class. We understand history and are able to make moral distinctions with the big picture nuanced and measured responses.

You might notice that we don’t always follow America to war, but we invariably join in on peace making and keeping missions. We understand from our British background that if you’re going in to occupy with a peace keeping force, you’re in for generations of effort, not a quick thrust to make someone fall and then head for home before the dust has settled.

So, this is a battle for generations – and we know that every generation thinks that they were the inventors of sex, drugs and rock n roll.

Masturbation is a victimless “sin” and it’s the starting place to understand that your body belongs to you, not some sky daddy who doesn’t want you to touch yourself.

You can’t know you without touching yourself, don’t let anyone’s god separate you from you. Don’t let anyone control when or with whom or with what toys you have sex. Don’t give way your control of you, because you can never be equal with anyone who controls you in fact or in law or in life.

Throwing Herod over the wall

A recent find of coins is the first physical evidence that the Jerusalem Western Wall was not – at the very least – completed by King Herod as the coins were minted 20 years after his death.

King Herod was a real person and a hated king, despite that it was his alliance with Rome that kept his kingdom intact.

The bible stories would tell that Herod had ordered the death of babies as an overkill to rid the world of Jesus – but reality puts paid to that claim which only appears in the Mathew bible story – as Herod died 4 years before the alleged birth of Christ.

The propaganda that exists today that was anti-Herod does not pick up the biblical claim, but focus on what a blood thirsty tyrant he was – his actual deeds writ larger than reality, but reality nonetheless.