Tag Archives: ignorance

How to End Those Pesky Discussions of Racism

The answer to the matter posed in my headline: Stop being racist.

But, it’s a hard human habit to break, along with religious intolerance, class conflict and a host of others. So, let me break it down more effectively.

First, off, when I talk about racism and getting rid of racist attitudes, I tend to be talking to white people…those people who are, like myself, “melanin-challenged.” That isn’t because white people are the source of all racism; far from it. Racism exists everywhere, along with the other ism’s that plague us. But I tend to target my fellow whites (racism), fellow males (sexism) and fellow Christians (religious intolerance) because I live in the United States and most of the people reading me live there, too. It’s a nation controlled by white, male Christians for the most part. They hold the most powerful political offices in a disproportionate number compared to the overall population, they hold the most influential corporate positions, they hold the vast majority of the nation’s wealth and they have the most access to getting their message out and keeping discriminatory structures in place.

Don’t even argue with me about that, because these are cases where the statistics are very obvious and clear, and no amount of internal jockeying on your part changes the truth of them.

So, while my comments here are aimed primarily at whites as I talk about racism today, my points are applicable to nations that are mostly black and persecute whites for the sins of minority white populations before them  who were cruel and destructive to the mostly black native population. Or Asian nations. Or Latino ones. Or Arabic ones. Racism is everywhere.

But it’s here in the United States where I keep hearing how much whites want to stop having racial discussions and want to declare racism over even though there is nothing statistically to show that racism is on its last breaths yet, much less dead.

You want to stop hearing about racism? I’ll give you a starting point with a tweet I made today:

We all have racist thoughts/make racist “observations.” Instead of downplaying them or feeling guilt, acknowledge they’re STUPID & do better

That’s the simplest beginning. The moment you understand that thinking an African-American person is going to rob you just because they are black or a Muslim is going to hijack the plane simply because he or she calls the almighty “Allah” instead of “God” or “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or a Jewish person is going to swindle or cheat you or an Asian driver is going to do something stupid because somehow Asians are all bad drivers…well, you get the idea. Those notions are not true. If they were, the white majority in the United States would be in shitty shape. As it happens, they aren’t. There are plenty of white people who aren’t exactly swimming in financial or social comfort, but their numbers are not so great percentage-wise as the African-American, Hispanic, Arabic and other folks who deal with discrimination large and small every day.

The Earth isn’t flat, yet it wasn’t that long ago historically there was still a Flat Earth Society, and I bet there are people who still insist the world isn’t a globe. Dinosaurs didn’t live at the same time as humans, and the science bears that out (and no, atheists, as a side note, science doesn’t disprove God because science can no more disprove the spiritual world than I can prove it to you). All black people don’t think alike. Neither do all white people.

But if you, my fellow whites, don’t want to talk about racism anymore, actually end it. And that starts by owning your own ignorance when it arises and calling it for what it is.


And then try not to do that stupid thing again. It’s a policy that serves me well, and that’s why I don’t have too many people having to tell me to stop being so racist.

Lack of Focus

Or, perhaps, the title of this post should be “The Wrong Focus.”

Some of the most fervent people pursue their missions from entirely the wrong standpoint, and so it is with many conservative, fundamentalist Christians, because they aren’t really as focused on the fundamentals as their descriptor would suggest.

See, my problem with the “fundies” isn’t so much that they want to promote biblical ideals and Bible-based behavior as it is that they put at the top of their agenda subjects on which Jesus didn’t really focus and/or that are only hinted at vaguely in the Bible…while also putting at the bottom of their priority list those things on which Jesus spoke most clearly and directly.

So, on the one hand, they’ll pick out a Bible passage about ancient punishments for hitting a pregnant woman in the belly and killing her unborn child, along with God’s words in the Book of Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” and say, “See! God hates abortion! Let’s go have a huge campaign against women controlling their own bodies and hijack freedom of choice and science while ignoring more pertinent issues that affect more people.”

Never mind that causing the death of a woman’s fetus in an act of violence or irresponsibility was a crime because it assumed the woman wanted to give birth and you took that away from her (i.e. took the life that she had charge of). Also never mind that the quote from Jeremiah is about foreknowledge and foreplanning on God’s part, not about when life begins. Never mind that Jesus never once mentioned anything about fetuses, and his words are the ones Christians should focus on most.

And then, on the other hand, with poverty rising, kids and adults going without food, healthcare becoming increasingly inaccessible and the rich hoarding more and more of the money just because they can (even though they don’t need that much), you’ll see fundies cringe at any notion that even hints at socialism or talks about fairness and sharing, even though Jesus spent huge gobs of his time talking about economic fairness and taking care of the less fortunate.

Not to mention the fact the early Christian church essentially practiced communism, or something very close to it.

But they’ll ignore that and point to his parable of the talents and claim Jesus was a free market capitalist even though the parable is talking about spiritual growth and responsibility, not wealth creation.

Shaking my damn head…

Mind Your I’s and A’s

While our pastor’s sermon kind of meandered today (good message, but it seemed overly long and somewhat disjointed), there was a portion that caught my attention:

Where there is ignorance, there is often indifference. Where there is indifference, we often see intolerance. And wherever there is intolerance, we will see injustice.

That explains a lot to me about the world. Ignorance remains at the core of so many of our problems. Ignorant Christians, ignorant atheists, ignorant Muslims, ignorant Jews, ignorant agnostics, ignorant pagans…you get the idea.

Now, those who read me regularly might expect me to pick on the members of the Tea Party here in the United States. And certainly, their ignorance is often astounding, as they make people with education seem to be the enemy. Suddenly, to them, knowledge is the problem. God forbid anyone pays attention, or tries to consider complex issues. No, lock-and-load or fly off at the mouth are the ways to go.

But they aren’t alone. I’ve known a ton of ignorant “progressive” people and other liberals. People who say they understand the plight of people who struggle but who distance themselves from such people. They are just as ignorant, because they have some kind of general knowledge or book learning but no connection to the real issues or what needs addressing.

Stay-at-home middle class mothers who knock other mothers’ choices to send their kids to school instead of home schooling, thereby showing complete ignorance of those other mothers’ challenges and lives, which don’t mirror their own and therefore cannot often follow a similar model.

Men who blame women for leaving them and being shallow, while remaining ignorant of their own gender sins and the things they did that helped scuttle the relationship, too. Women who show the very same ignorance as they set unrealistic demands and then dog out their former (or current) men online for not being perfect.

Ignorance is at the heart of ethnic conflict; passive workers who allow themselves to be undercut by corporate interests; corporations who focus on short-term goals at the expense of the country and their own organizational health; teachers and doctors who slap labels on kids like autism or ADHD when they’re just being kids; and so on.

And so, with my pastor’s example in mind, with those four I’s, I now offer my four A’s as a counterpoint. As a healthy alternative. As the path for our salvation, whether secular or religious:

First, we need awareness. Honest, willing efforts to look past the surface of things and challenge our own assumptions about everything.

Second, we need authorship, so that we will be not just show silent accountability but also open assertion of where we fail and where we cease to understand. Such things will lead to us asking for help in increasing our awareness and then our authorship.

Third, with those two things, we will see more acceptance. Always in society, there will be things we cannot accept, but those will be the things that are truly hurtful as a result of cruelty or ignorance. But we will accept that people are different and even when they lead lifestyles that we find uncomfortable, they have a right to be the way they are.

Finally, those three things, if we seek them (and I have no reason to expect that humanity will bother to, but there’s always hope, right?) will lead to the start of ascendancy. This could be secular as easily as it could be spiritual. But it will mean that we are on the path to fully realizing our potential beyond mere self-satisfaction and laziness. We won’t likely become truly ascendant in these our mortal coils, because that’s expecting too much.

But damn it, we need to make an effort to head in that direction.

Co-signing away your soul

I cannot take credit for the following quote, but I can’t help by smile ruefully and nod my head as I read it. It’s sort of the religious/spiritual equivalent of the Tea Party candidates who tout that we need to remain true to the U.S. Constitution, but who don’t know what the Constitution says or what the amendments to it are.

To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it. They just scroll to the bottom and click “I agree.”

That came from a Twitter account known as almightygod (I didn’t know my Father in Heaven had signed on to Twitter until now ;-)), and I don’t know if the owner of that Twitter account is the originator of the quote or simply passing on something he or she heard, but it’s a gem if I ever saw one, regardless.

Sheeple, Sheeple Everywhere

I try to avoid looking too much at the video evidence of how many people, particularly among the poor and working class in various places (especially rural ones), really think that Obama is:

  • A Muslim
  • Will somehow try to do harm to whites if he gains the Oval Office
  • Shifty
  • A terrorist or terrorist sympathizer
  • Against the middle class and working class
  • Etc. etc. etc.

Because, if I look at this stuff too much, I get angry. Not on behalf of Barack Obama but just because I’m tired of sheeple. I’ve used that term before around here; I assume it’s obvious, but in case it ain’t: Sheeple = Sheep + People. In other words, people who can’t seem to think for themselves and just let the big shots tell them what to think.

Obama has done his share of flip-flopping and bending the truth a bit. But no more than his competitor has. Yet somehow people get it into their heads that he’s evil. The man shows more insight, thought, composure, tact and class than McCain, and thus he must be “hiding something.” As if being angry, spiteful and erratic (as McCain has been) somehow should engender our trust and show that a guy is a real stand-up feller.

Look, I come from working class stock. Despite having two degrees, I think and act mostly like a working class guy. My beers may be a little fancier, but it’s still beer I choose over wine most of the time. I can still appreciate a good fart joke in a movie. I’d rather have a comfy couch to watch TV in than to have a fancy looking one that I can’t put my feet up on. So, I’m not slamming the working class and rural folks who say this stupid shit about Obama because they’re working class and rural and in some cases poor.

I’m slamming them because they don’t bother to think.

At all.

It’s the same thing that has turned me off of most brick-and-mortar churches and many of the people who attend them. Just like the Obama-haters, they are often sheeple. Heaven forbid they should study a Bible or question anything a pastor says. Just like the ignorant folks who call for Obama’s head on a bayonet can’t be bothered to read anything that points out McCain’s or Palin’s lies or flaws, can’t be bothered to compare platforms of the candidates side-by-side, and who instead, like good sheeple, just believe whatever Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, their local police chief or nasty hateful bloggers tell them.

Like good sheeple, they go where they are told until the time comes to fleece them or slit their throats and offer them up as burnt offerings to the hungry economic gods.

Deacon Blue vs. Nsangoma

turin-jesus.jpgSo, I was visiting one of my favorite blogs yesterday and made the “mistake” of responding to a comment on one of the topics to correct a gross misrepresentation of history (I guess in hindsight it wasn’t a mistake, because now I have a topic for today). The commenter decided to get a bit obnoxious and when I mentioned I didn’t want to take the commentary off topic with our discussion, he basically turned it around to say that I was simply running away because I would lose the argument. Since his nonsense involves the assertion that Jesus never existed, I don’t feel like that is shit I can let stand. Since I really don’t want to take the comments on that blog off topic, I have decided to reprint the comments of myself and Nsangoma here, respond to the points I wasn’t able to before out, and I will invite him to continue the debate here, where it is appropriate.

Oh, by the way, the original blog post that started all this (and which has nothing to do with Jesus, oddly enough), is at the field negro blog, and it is the March 13th post titled “Hillary You Are Breaking My Heart.” Please check it out when you have a chance.

Now, on to the debate:

Jesus is a myth; Jesus is an anthropomorphism of the Sun. Any Negroe (Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr included) telling you that Jesus existed, is lying. Anthropomorphism, as in the Sun took on human form and dwelled here on earth with human-kind for 33 years.

Kinda like saying Cleopatra didn’t exist man. It was only 2,000 years ago and the man made a splash (and we have reliable history of people’s existence for shite even older than J.C.). Even if you don’t believe he was the son of God, at least give Jesus props for actually being on planet earth. Still, even when you lose me with your line of thought or raise my hackles, Nsangoma, I have to admit you sound awfully cool saying it.

deacon blue, let us be clear. There is no evidence of the physical existence of a Jesus. There is historical physical evidence of a belief in Jesus, but no historical physical evidence that Jesus ever existed.

How much physical evidence do we have of anyone that far back in the day? Anyone have the prophet Muhammad’s body, either? Or busts of him? Much of what we know of the existence of any ancient personage is historical. There is plenty of documentation about Jesus, dating back to within less than a human lifetime of his ministry…whereas we rely on stuff about Alexander the Great and others as “accurate” that was often written generations or centuries after the person died.

I’m just sayin’, ya know? But I respect the fact that you think he was too fringe to be proven and that you don’t trust the source materials…even if I disagree with you. And I sure don’t want to drag this too far off topic. 😉

… And I sure don’t want to drag this too far off topic. 😉
deacon blue 11:56

Why of course you do not, you will lose. The New Testament of the so-called Holy Bible was written a minimum of 70 years after Jesus supposedly existed. And it was written by people who never met this Jesus, who supposedly existed. Saul was struck blind by the Sun; he is the light of the world. Solar metaphors.

I’m not interested in a pissing match. Keep your intellectual arrogance if you must. I was being civil (or so I thought). I admit it, you have a bigger dick. (But I use mine with more finesse).


OK, I admit my last comment was a tad snarky, but I had been pretty accommodating until that point. Fact is, I’m not interested in a pissing match. But I’m also not interested in someone trying to undercut my religion based on some absolute bullshit.

My “you have a bigger dick” comment at least had the virtue of getting him to shut up in the commentary since I presume he is under the impression that I am now cowed by his pseudo-intellectual claptrap (a shame, since most of the commenters at the blog are pretty astute). Fact is, I think Nsangoma is either a bully or someone who was bullied in childhood and now wants payback by metaphorically holding people down and hitting them with his verbal/written arguments until they yell “uncle,” and then sometimes hitting them once more thereafter just for good measure.

Now, Nsangoma, I’m going to respond to your earlier points. And if you’re so damn sure of yourself, come here and try to knock my socks off, man.


Point #1: Jesus is a myth

Highly unlikely that someone made up Jesus to create a new religion, generated so many conversions and spawned so much written material about his life…and no one refuted his existence. The Roman historian Josephus mentions Jesus and, if I recall, there are Hebrew texts from the time that refer to Jesus as some kind of sorcerer stirring up trouble in the region.

Point #2: Jesus is an anthropomorphism of the Sun

This is the kind of shit people come up with when they get some education, start thinking they’re smarter than everyone else, and get wild notions up their asses. This idea is ridiculous. Are we to believe that at a time when there is Judaism, innumerable temples devoted to the Roman/Greek gods and who knows what else, someone decided to just create a new sun god?

Apollo is an anthropomorphism of the sun. Jesus is not. In addition to the metaphors about light, Jesus was said to be the “way and the truth” and it was said that if “you knock he shall open the door” and he was the “good shepherd” and much more. According to Nsangoma’s logic, someone not only made a new sun god, but also made him the god of roads and doors and the patron deity of animal husbandry. Jesus was about much more than light.

If one is going to argue against the divinity of Jesus, one would be better to claim he was an updated rehash of Osiris, an Egyptian god associated with resurrection. Claiming he is an embodiment of the sun is nonsense.

Point #3: There is no evidence of the physical existence of a Jesus.

Unless you were a ruler or other kind of high-flying muckity-muck and people mentioned you on all the papyrus scrolls and made busts and statues of your ass, there isn’t much physical evidence of anyone in the ancient historical record.

But the New Testament documents of the time around Jesus were widely distributed and word of him spread quickly, particularly after his death and resurrection. That no historian of the time refuted Jesus’ existence, and the fact that some mention him, is proof enough he existed.

The church had to start with a fairly sizable number of people in order to be able to grow and spread as fast as it did. Those people would have been people who had been with Jesus or seen him. If Jesus hadn’t existed, there is no way any sizable number of people would have believed in him and formed a religious experience around him because you don’t gather around someone who never existed. Even cults have to have a real person to gather around, much less major religious movements.

Point #4: The New Testament of the so-called Holy Bible was written a minimum of 70 years after Jesus supposedly existed. And it was written by people who never met this Jesus, who supposedly existed.

Actually, the oldest known, surviving copies of New Testament documents date to around 70 years after Jesus’ ministry. Those documents were almost certainly based off older copies and the original texts, which would have likely been written less than a generation after Jesus’ ministry and death. Those would have been written by the authors to whom they were ascribed, all of whom traveled with Jesus.

Furthermore, the accuracy and reliability of these older copies is almost irrefutable (that is, they are very accurate to the original copies) as there are thousands of copies of New Testament documents from a variety of regions and in a variety of languages, which show the same information being transmitted. Pretty impressive for a time and day when no one had phones and photocopiers.

By contrast, the only ancient document that even comes close to having so many copies that remained true to the original through the ages was the Greek Iliad.

In point of fact, most of the ancient history we simply take as truth is based on documents for which the oldest surving copies date to centuries after the chronicled events. Thus, the proximity of the original New Testament documents so close to Jesus’ life means that anyone who wished to refute them (i.e. I was around then and I know there was no Jesus) could have put an easy end to Christianity long before it gained momentum. We trust ancient documents about people like Alexander the Great and Ramses that have fewer copies to corroborate things and which were removed by hundreds of years, yet doubt documents that were 70 years after the fact. Talk about hypocrisy and ignorance.

OK, Nsangoma, the ball is in your court now. Take your best shot. Hell, swing at me a few times. I can take the hits. My savior’s reputation has survived the efforts of the Hebrew priesthood, the Romans and many others to sully it, and the spiritual legacy he left behind has endured and prospered and spread across the world in a way that can only be explained by the fact it resonates with truth. It isn’t going away just because you want it to.

Enlightened ignorance

books011.jpgSo, yesterday I lambasted a large contingent of my fellow born-again Christians for not knowing enough about other folks’ beliefs and practices. Well, now it’s the other side’s turn to get the sharp end of my stick. Because a lot of you “enlightened” folks out there who think you’re so flippin’ tolerant have a remarkable amount of assumptions about Christians who fall under any of the following categories: fundamental, evangelistic, born-again. And the second you hear those terms, many of you who aren’t in those categories start showing very unenlightened viewsand some of you get downright uncivilized.

Some years ago, I posted some of my beliefs on a board and had someone tell me in no uncertain terms that I had to have my brains up my ass to even consider that Christianity could to be anything but a fanciful mythology and anything more real to the world than a Tolkien novel.  

At the shallower end of the ignorance pool, my wife was recently talking with a friend of the past few years who, it seems, had been laboring under the idea that my wife was a very liberal Christian. The kind of person who’s excited about ordaining gay bishops or attends Unitarian-Universalist services or things like that. When my wife revealed she was actually an evangelistic Christian, with fairly conservative faith beliefs, the friend had a hard time wrapping her mind around it.

Because here she knew my wife as someone who believes in trying to raise up the disenfranchised, someone who believes in socialized healthcare, someone who advocates racial/ethnic/religious diversity and tolerance…and all that kind of jazz.

Somehow, the idea that someone could be adamant that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life didn’t connect with those things. Deep down, as far as the friend was concerned, being a born-again Christian meant you had to close your mind and turn off any ability to think critically.

I guess it really would have caused this poor woman to have a stroke to find out that my wife in the past two presidential elections voted for George W. Bush one time and Ralph Nader the other. So, hopefully, my wife won’t hit her with too many revelations at once.

My point is, though, why must we all be cookie cutter Christians? I don’t have to fit in your stinking little cramped box. Why can’t I be a born-again evangelistic Christian and think that Jerry Falwell was a dickhead and Pat Robertson is a closet fascist? Why can’t I believe in the Bible as the Word of God and still enjoy reading some Stephen King or Jim Butcher? Why can’t I believe that you need to know Jesus to avoid Hell and still like you as a person if you don’t?

Because I do. And if you’re going to call me a Jesus “freak” or paint me as a hateful human being just because I’m born-again, well then you need to re-examine which one of us is the closed-minded ass.

(image by Ian Britton, from FreeFoto.com)

Lo, the Antichrist shall be a vegan…

inconvenient-truth.jpg…and forsooth, the Evil One shall also drive an alternative-fuel vehicle and own a copy of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” And he shall recycle and perform all other manner of wickedness. 

Or, at least, that’s the vibe I came away with from a sermon I heard a couple months ago, wherein the pastor equated the shoppers at Whole Foods, Wild Oats and similar stores as being “earth worshippers.” He even went so far as to actually say that most vegetarians are, essentially, practitioners of paganism. 

Well, my wife and I try to buy organic when we can, and we’ve toyed with vegetarianism a couple times (but the bacon and pork chops and hamburgers always wooed us back with their greasy charms), but we’re both evangelically based and believe Jesus is Lord and savior and son of God. 

And therein lies a big problem with too many of my Christian brothers and sisters. There are those who are critical thinkers, but all too often, those who are most dedicated to the Word of God somehow forget to read much else but the Bible. And it’s scary sometimes the level of cluelessness this can engender. 

The other day at church, for example, a woman whose baby had been having massive teething told my wife a friend had suggested relieving the discomfort with some clove. A suggestion she promptly shelved when her husband told her that sounded an awful lot like witchcraft. I guess with folks like Pasteur who recognized the antibacterial properties of certain molds and gave the world penicillin, we should have burned them at the stake, eh? I mean, some common sense would help here. Using herbal remedies and holistic therapies isn’t practicing magic. Using an herb or something else with legitimate biochemical properties (assuming it’s safe to consume in the first place) is no worse than taking a medicine in a bottle. 

Now, if someone tells you to dig up a mandrake root, put a drop of your blood on it and stick in a bowl of milk under your bed for some healing, well, I don’t think I need to spell (pun entirely intended) out what that is. But when was the last time you saw health food stores selling a kit like that on the shelves? 

The big problem with this kind of narrow-minded thinking is that Christians lose out on all sorts of opportunities to understand other people, whether they raise their kids in a different style or eat different foods or practice whole other freaking religions. How can anyone evangelize to a person if they’re already misinterpreting their actions from the get-go? If I look at someone who likes yoga and crystals and I assume that means they’re some New Age wiccan (and miss that the person in an agnostic lapsed Catholic who just likes being limber and owning shiny objects), I’m already coming to this person from entirely the wrong direction. 

More than that, it’s just plain ignorant. And willful ignorance is like fingernails on the chalkboard of my mind.

Frankly, I get pretty damned tired of non-Christians painting me with some broad brush and thinking I’m a self-righteous Jesus freak just because I’m a Christian who believes in the Bible (more on that in tomorrow’s post). It would be awfully hypocritical of me to make broad assertions about their spiritual systems (or lack thereof) without having read and studied something about them. Hell, at least recognize that there are huge differences between Wiccans, Pagans, Druids and Satanists (just to mention a few groups that get tossed together into the same pot on a regular basis). 

So, if you think the Christian walk is worth about as much use as tits on a bull, let me be the first to tell you that even if you think my faith is foolish, remember that some of us can be believers without handing over our critical thinking at the door to be mindless automatons. And for my brothers and sisters in Christ who think it’s OK not to know or understand other belief systems—well, damn, doesn’t the Bible tell us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves? God never told us to be ignorant dolts and judgmental assholes.