Posts Tagged prayer

Don’t Pray For Me

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Quote of the Day

The mixing of government and religion can be a threat to free government, even if no one is forced to participate…. When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion, it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.”

— Harry Andrew Blackmun, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, majority opinion in Lee v. Weisman, 1992

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How Prayer Works

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Dear Pope

On this Easter, as you address the world and the people sheep who have flocked around you to listen to your hopeful phony messages about love, peace and understanding – concepts you merely like to talk about it seems in lofty attire while releasing doves into the sky but which, given your Church’s track record even as we speak, you have no intention of actually ever backing with real, meaningful actions, let me, as an atheist whom you graciously say is not a monster after all, tell you a few things.

Now, I am not inclined at this moment to go into a whole discussion about the absurdity of religion and, in particular, of your particular brand of faith that prompts you to “pray” for peace every year  and every year we don’t get this peace you, as a especially pious man, have been lobbying for, but I will tell you that Easter is a Pagan tradition that has hardly anything to do with Jesus.

Easter eggs and bunnies and the Spring equinox have as much to do with Christ as Christmas trees, mistletoe and the fall equinox and winter solstice. In fact, there is really nothing Christian or Biblical about forty days of Lent, decorated trees in your homes, engraved images and symbols of Ba’al and Ishtar, the sun Gods, the use of Evergreen and mistletoe, the latter of which Pagan priests (Druids) used to conjure black magic in love potions, “sunrise services”, Santa Clause, decorated eggs, rabbits, hot cross buns and the Easter ham symbolizing and worshiping the Goddess Ēostre.

These things, however, have everything to do with the ancient pagan traditions of Babylon and Mesopotamia. Engaging in such activities makes professing Christians nothing but idolaters, but I guess you know that being the head of the Church. Woops.

Secondly, since you are talking about peace and its importance and how to achieve it, let this lowly atheist enlighten you on the fact that you do not achieve peace by talking about it, but by identifying what the impediments to it are and addressing the challenges that stand in the way of peace, accordingly.

In the larger sense, you achieve peace by recognizing the inherent dignity in all of us; by creating bonds of friendship and bridges of cooperation among people regardless of their identities and inherent attributes.

You achieve peace by respecting and acknowledging an individual’s personhood and inherent value as a rights-bearing, autonomous human being whose agency as a human being should be respected and upheld.

You achieve peace by inspiring those who follow you to respect and acknowledge an individual’s personhood and inherent value as a rights-bearing, autonomous human being deserving of the same rights as everyone else.

You achieve peace by empowering women – which entails recognizing them as fully equal human beings who have the right to maintain control over their bodies and reproduction; as people with their own agency and a right to self-governance because viewing and treating women as second class human beings who ought to have no control and agency over their own bodies according to the finest tradition of your oppressive , bigoted, misogynistic Church and its practices for hundreds of years, is precisely the reason why women are not empowered.

And make no mistake about it: empowerment of women has everything to do with both peace and economic stability and is, in fact, an integral part of it.  By taking a profoundly anti-choice stance, you marginalize women and disempower them, which leads to the very poverty you want to see end.

You create peace by spending some of your tax exempt riches on the under-privileged and poor in society; on educating the ignorant; on giving opportunities to those less fortunate; on giving a voice to the weak, defenseless and exploited by creating communities of support, trust and tolerance where each individual’s autonomy and agency are respected and upheld, instead of spending that money on hate campaigns to insure that gays and lesbians do not get to marry or on political campaigns aimed at controlling what women can do with their bodies.

Sadly, none of that is happening in the Catholic church which still argues that women should not have employment equality; that they should not have access to contraception and abortion; that gay/bi people should not be allowed to marry (which, in the US, denies lots of same-sex partnered people crucial access to partners’ employee-sponsored healthcare, which is a major financial issue); etc.

Colluding with the police to cover up the sex crimes of your priests and blaming allegedly gay priests for the massive cases of pedophilia in your church  – thus equating homosexuality with pedophilia – does not constitute  having done the most you can for victims of childhood abuse as you claim, nor does it constitute “transparency and responsibility” on your part as you also like to claim.

When you condescend to touch a man disfigured by facial tumors as a result of his neurofibromatosis, the church crafts your image as the benevolent leader and compassionate man who does not shy away from touching a man afflicted with a disfiguring  disease, even though not treating someone with a disease or disfigurement like a monster is the most basic sort of human decency, not particularly warranting special accolades, especially not for a man of the cloth who claims to be all about love, acceptance and divine compassion.

Calling transgendered people demonic – is cruel, harmful, dangerous and indecent, not to mention explicitly dehumanizing. It is, per the Church’s own position on demons, eliminationist. It is not a recipe for peace.

As long as you marginalize members of the queer community, as long as you uphold discrimination against women, as long as you value fetuses more than the people carrying them by ordering Catholic hospitals to refuse to give life-saving abortions, or refuse to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims; as long as you refuse to allow unmarried same-sex partners to visit one another in the hospital, and as long as you spend millions of your organization’s tax exempt money on hate, then you are, frankly, nothing but a dirtbag – no matter how many speeches you hold fellating the idea of peace in velvet tones neatly wrapped in false humility and empathy.

When you manifestly refuse to advance a complex deconstruction of the reasons for poverty, such as empowering women, it is mendacious to argue that you are saying bold and challenging things and are a purveyor of peace.

Peace is not achieved by treating some people in society – such as women, gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals  – as less than, ultimately dehumanizing them in the process and depriving them of their rights and privileges – as if they were yours to give in the first place. Helping these individuals to be given the same kind of access, rights and opportunities as everyone else, however, are the things that will empower people and promote peace.

Peace is not achieved through heart-warming speeches, lofty metaphors and, most of all, prayer.  Peace requires a lot of hard work and hard decisions, including the elimination of bigotry and “othering” and all the other myriad of things the Chruch does that are diametrically opposed to the concept of peace and are right-out harmful.

Peace requires humility and thus examining and then eliminating the very things that stand in its way.

That Progressives remain fascinated with you is mystifying as it is  beyond the soft bigotry of low expectations. It is an epic failure on their part to truly recognize the evil behind your organization’s seemingly loving, all-inclusive facade.

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Only Doing Good Things For People In Time of Crisis

Every now and then there is a headline in the news about some celebrity fulfilling a dying fan’s wish or something, such as English musician Ed Sheeran who sang a dying 15 year old her favorite song minutes before she passed away. He is being called a hero now and a great and amazing person, and he may very well be. I don’t dispute that. In fact, I have no opinion on that as I don’t know the man personally and what is in his heart, but I read something similar about Justin Bieber and countless other celebs doing such things for a dying fan and it makes me wonder because I really wish that these people would maybe also consider doing something nice for people or a young fan or whoever when they are not about to die.

I mean, why do people get all generous and giving when someone’s life is about to end and thus when it is too late? Why not be like that with the living? Why not make a young fan’s day, not because that fan is dying, but because they are a fan and doing nice things for people is decent. It is how it should be.

This sort of reminds me of people who get all mushy and generous around the Holiday season yet spend the remainder of the year not really giving a damn, including voting for policies that hurt the poor more than help them.

After all, why not help out in a soup kitchen in July? Why not gather toys and food for the needy in March? Why not help elect officials that will make sure that the needy have food year-round. People are hungry twelve months of the year, not just around the holidaya.

My message to people who want to do good is, do something nice and good for people – whoever they may be and whatever your abilities are  – just because it is the right, humane thing to do. Don’t wait for a disaster to help people in impoverished countires. Don’t wait for a fan to be at the verge of death to make their day. Don’t wait for Christmas to come around to think about the needy and hungry. Don’t just gift someone something nice or call them up because it is their birthday.

A lot of suffering in the world  – from the global to the personal scale – takes place everyday. Most people lead lives of quiet desperation. Out of view, to the point where it has become invisible to most and matters insomuch as it makes great first acts for celebrity Oscar vehicles.

But that is the kind of suffering and need that requires the most attention – diligently and regularly, not just once a year or on a special occasion or because someone is about to die. That is the kind of need (for money, food, kindness, empathy, a shoulder to cry on etc.) that is present year-round, not just when a holiday, a disaster or the grim reaper are around. That is because reaching out and caring do not have seasons or occasions, they should be done all the time because that is, ultimately, what makes the world a better place for all of us – from your co-worker, to your friend, to your sibling, the hungry child in the Sudan, the homeless girl in an orphanage etc.  That is what shows others that you value them because being valued makes happiness possible and unhappiness bearable.

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