Month: May 2013

Sleepy Jesus

This Jesus character in the Bible was one hard-working dude. With non-stop miracle-making, parable telling (and explaining), interviews with the press and recruitment of new fans, Jesus worked day and night doing everything any celebrity would do short of opening a Twitter account. So, it’s no wonder that he was exhausted! I mean, Jesus had to sleep too and when he slept, he must have slept hard. Like, dead to the world hard. In this story, however, it is debatable whether Jesus was actually exhausted or if he was just stoned. Unfortunately, we’re unable to complete an autopsy and do a drug test due to the fact that there is no physical evidence of Jesus ever existing at all. But, these are minor details and I digress.
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(Moses thought god burned his weed when in reality god used fake flames (you know, like the ones used in The Hunger Games) to make Moses think it was unusable so he could save it for his son’s future consumption. I mean, it was some good stuff — the best. And who deserves the best more than the son of god? That’s right — no one.)

Here’s the story:
“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’
 
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!'” Mark 4:35-41
So, basically Jesus is asleep (or passed out) on a boat that is being whipped around so much by the wind and the waves that water is actually overflowing into the boat. It is overflowing into the boat so much so that the others that are on it are afraid for their lives and believed death to be an imminent threat. So what do they do? They wake Jesus up, of course! After all, how could he just let them all die? So, Jesus wakes up and tells the wind and the sea to cool it, and it does (as a side note, I wonder what the other fishermen in that sea must have been thinking when the storm instantly stopped like that…).
Either way, instead of Jesus turning around and saying, “Woah, sorry guys, that got way out of hand. You see, with all this life-saving I have been doing lately, I am just completely wiped. My bad.” he says, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”. This obviously does nothing to calm their fears (they are still fearing “exceedingly” at this point) and instead puts them in awe of him.
And, I get it — they just watched a man completely and instantly stop a raging storm. That’s impressive. BUT, if they hadn’t awoken him, there is a very good chance that they would have all been dead at the bottom of the sea while Jesus simply stood up and walked his way back to shore.
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Is that what is happening these days? Is the “savior” so tired from all the stuff he did on Earth 2000 years ago that he is just passed out somewhere while all of these natural disasters kill people? And how do we wake him up so he can make it stop? What should Oklahoma have done? Or New Jersey and New York? What about New Orleans? Or Japan?
Jesus, if you exist, this had better be the best nap you have ever had.
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Healthcare Heathens

I was on a website looking up some bible verses yesterday when I noticed this little ad on the top of the screen:

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With all the attention being paid to ObamaCare and its damn hippie, communist solution to a VERY big problem in the United States, I just had to click it (You can click the picture above to experience what I experienced, if you like).

What I came a cross was a poorly put together website about a health insurance option, called Medi-Share, for Christians. It doesn’t contain much info (they want you to sign up to receive more) other than a few things that really caught my attention.

What is Medi-Share?

 Medi-Share is a community of more than 50,000 Christians who follow the biblical model of sharing and paying each other’s medical bills much like the early church did 2,000 years ago. And as a not-for-profit ministry that promotes healthy biblical lifestyles, participation is affordable.
The “biblical model of sharing and paying for each other’s medical bills”. I was shocked. Do people really think this is better than the propositions in the oh-so-hated, communist, Canadian ObamaCare policy? This Medi-Share plan basically takes money from everyone that is signed up and redistributes it to those that need it, when they need it. Sound a little like Communism to you? It sure does to me! What is most disturbing is that they are actually getting people to buy into the notion that this is somehow a better option than the “real” Communist actions Affordable Care Act.

Worried about the new Health Care Bill?

Afraid you’ll be forced to buy health insurance you can’t afford? Our economy is bad enough and according to a recent study by Price Waterhouse Coopers, the new healthcare reform bill will make health insurance premiums rise by 40%.

Healthcare sharing ministries like Medi-Share are the only organizations to be exempt from the regulations and costs of the recently passed health care bill (Page 128, H.R. 3590 ).

This means that as a part of Medi-Share, you would be exempt, too. The requirements, the taxes, the penalties, and the high costs will simply pass you by.

(more…)

Blasphemy

“Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:28-30
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Knowing that this picture exists makes eternal condemnation all the more worth it.

And This Little Piggy Went “Wee, Wee, Wee,” All the Way Down the Cliff to its Imminent Death in the Sea

Here is another one of my most favorite Bible stories. It is called, “A Demon-Possessed Man Healed” and it is found in the fifth chapter of the book of Mark. Enjoy.

“Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.”

It sounds to me like this poor guy needs some serious help but, instead of helping him, the people of this country have attempted to bind him with shackles and have condemned him to live with the dead instead. Remind me never to visit the country of Gadarenes.

“When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.'”

So, this man knows who Jesus is and is instantly able to recognize him, yet the first thing out of his mouth is a plea for Jesus not to hurt him? Now why would he think that Jesus would do a thing like that, I wonder? Could it be because demons were allowed to take refuge in his body?

“For He said to him, ‘Come out of the man, unclean spirit!’ Then He asked him, ‘What is your name?’

And he answered, saying, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, ‘Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.’ And at once Jesusgave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa… hold on a minute. Jesus grants permission to demons that beg? These demons don’t want to be deported so, instead, Jesus listens to their pleas to enter the pigs and then he proceeds to kill them all off? Why not just expel the demons and kill them there, in thin air? Why did the poor pigs have to die, too? Wouldn’t killing all the pigs be incredibly detrimental to the welfare of the community he was in? And, I know seas tend to be pretty big, but wouldn’t the water be dangerous to drink with all the thousands of pig corpses in it? Did Jesus really decide that potentially starving an entire population to save one man’s life and to appease the pleas of some demons was the best decision in that circumstance? Keep in mind, this is the same man who supposedly cured a leper, who brought a little girl back to life, who made a blind man see and a paralyzed man walk. This is the same guy that turned water into wine, fed thousands with only a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread.

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He walked on water and calmed the raging storms at sea and now he can’t even expel a bunch of demons without causing detrimental harm to others in the process? Really?! There was no other way?!

“So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.”

Yeah, if someone came in and completely annihilated my entire stock of food, I would want him to leave, too!

“And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.’ And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.” Mark 5:1-20

And in the end, what’s new? Jesus did something to help someone ONLY so that the person he helped could go and tell the story and persuade others to praise him. Jesus never does anything in private and he only ever seems to help those in need when he has a crowd he can show off to. He’s like the guy that won’t donate to the ASPCA unless he gets that “free” t-shirt so that everyone will know that he donated, even though that t-shirt cost the very organization he is trying to “help out” financially.  Jesus knows that the best marketing is by word-of-mouth and never wastes an opportunity to spread that word– even if it is at the expense of others (as it is in this case). So, poor, innocent pigs have to die, people have to starve, and livelihoods have to be started over from scratch so that the demons could get what they so desperately wanted. But, at least Jesus got what he wanted out of it too, right?

and_pigs_can_swim_by_gabo_the_ba1

You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader, But Apparently You Need a Bible

The organization I work for is all about continued learning and growth in its employees. As a part of that, some of us were able to attend a leadership conference that was being held in Atlanta, but we viewed via a live feed in our city auditorium. The conference is called Leadercast and it is put on by Chick-Fil-A. I do not patronize Chick-Fil-A because I think they have awful business practices and they are far too religious and bigoted for my taste. So, needless to say, I had some sort of expectation that this was going to be bad.

chick-fil-a-bigots-2012Last year, Chick-Fil-A put on the same Leadercast event and, except for an interview with Tim Tebow (can he PLEASE just go away already?!), it was great. I learned a lot from the many speakers and they all had very useful things to say. I even purchased a couple of books from my favorites.

This year was different. Much different.

The speakers ended up being just blegh but that wasn’t my problem with them. All of them, with the exception of maybe one, had an underlying Christian tone to their thoughts about leadership. The funny thing was that even though they all mentioned having faith of some kind, the things they were teaching about leadership — the principles one is supposed to take in and implement in their daily professional lives — were completely and totally contradictory to their Christian faith. It was a phenomenon I saw time and time again as each speaker wandered on the stage.

John Maxwell, a bestselling author of leadership self-help books mentioned in his discussion that he has figured out our problem. He says that our problem is that we are always trying to find a leader to fix all of our problems. He said the answer is simple: be the leader that solves the problem.

Now, in the realm of professional development this is great advice. This is how people move up in companies and corporations; this is how shit gets done in this country (or doesn’t). But how can one believe in that while still believing in a god? How does this relate to Christianity? The truth is, it doesn’t. In fact, it is completely contradictory to everything Christianity teaches.

How to Let Go and Let God lasso imagesCAG533J1

 

 

If going to church the majority of my youth taught me anything, it was that god would take care of everything for me. If I loved him and did right by him, well then he was going to look out for me. I was taught that he had a plan for me and that, no matter what, everything would always be OK. This is a direct contradiction to Maxwell’s idea about leadership and responsibility.

The worst offender, by far, was Condoleezza Rice. I have never been a fan of hers and after her interview it only further concreted in my mind that she truly is an idiot. At one point in the pre-recorded interview, John Maxwell asked her who had inspired her most in life — who she would always strive to emulate. Good ol’ Condi answered delightfully, telling a story of how the family was all together for some holiday (I can’t quite remember which) and one night they were all awakened to find her uncle had fallen incredibly ill. She said that everyone was running around the house putting clothes on, finding keys, gathering him up to put him in the car and take him to the hospital. But, she said that in the midst of all that mayhem, she happened to glance over at her grandmother who was sitting calmly on her bed not doing a thing. Condoleezza said that she asked her if she was going to help, to which her grandmother replied, “God’s will be done.”

Let’s recap: Condoleezza’s uncle is possibly dying, everyone is rushing around trying to get him to the hospital for help except for grandma who basically says that she isn’t going to do shit to help save his life because it may be that god wants him to die. Gnarly shit, right?

Not to Condoleezza! Oh, no. She thinks this is admirable. She finishes the story by saying that she is in awe of her grandmother in that moment because it is “remarkable to have that kind of peace.”

Remarkable to have that kind of peace? Or that kind of ignorance? Or that kind of basic disregard for human life?

THIS IS WHAT THEY WERE TEACHING US AT A LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE. Can you believe that? Neither can I.

One speaker, however, Dr. Henry Cloud, spoke a few words that really resonated with me, being an atheist. He said about leadership:

“The worst thing a leader can do is hope. Leaders must create a necessary ending.”

I agree with this whole-heartedly and honestly think the world would be better off if the majority of the people on it did too. For example, Christians hope and pray that something will happen — that their god will implement his divine will in a (hopefully) favorable way. This has always seemed like such a waste of time to me. Why hope and pray for something? Why not go out and get it? Or position yourself in a way that you are more likely to achieve what it is that you want to achieve? That is not true leadership, that is true helplessness.

Basically, all I learned from this leadership conference was that god and religion hold people back from ever amounting to their true potential. So many of these Christian speakers spoke about their faith being the strongest guide in their ability to lead but, from what I can tell, it has been the most hindering. These people had a real opportunity to make a difference in young people’s lives and give them helpful advice for tackling issues in the real world. But sadly, instead they opted to preach about a god that doesn’t exist and while telling us one thing, they were preaching the opposite. Although, I suppose that isn’t anything special or different. Christians do that all the time.

My Soap Box

I firmly believe that atheists should have a bigger voice in this world. We should not allow ourselves to remain sequestered for fear of what others (namely employers, family, friends, potential constituents, etc) will think of us if we don’t. Personally, I’m done with hiding my non-belief. I’m over just answering with a “No” when asked if I go to church. It’s time to start answering, “No, I do not because I am an Atheist” instead because I want them to inquire about it. I want people to start thinking differently about atheism and what it means. I want Americans to begin accepting openly atheist people into their government and local positions of power. We are not evil. We are not immoral. We are not devoid of meaning in our lives.

To me, religion as it stands today is a disease. It is a disease that is spreading through the weak and the weary spreading ignorance and turning us on each other. It has created a culture in which one is not allowed to be happy with themselves or with anyone else if what makes them happy is outside of their religious doctrine. Religion suppresses people. It suppresses progress and tolerance and it suppresses growth and personal responsibility.

If it were up to me, people would practice or not practice any religion they choose if it makes them happy and fulfills their life but also understand that each person is different and will have different views of what that fulfillment looks like. Unfortunately, religious people can’t seem to recognize that those outside of their religion are just like them — they have dreams and goals and families. Instead, they view someone else’s happiness in another religion as dangerous and ignorant. They kill people who are different than they are because they are viewed as a threat. Ok, death is on the extreme end of this spectrum but, you get the point.

What I want to know is this: Why can’t people just be happy for people who are happy? Why do we have to be right all the time? Why do we have to be in everyone else’s business and personal life? If people are not pursuing personal happiness at the expense of others (i.e. murder, rape, burglary, etc.) then why do so many feel so inclined to stop them? Let them be gay. Let them be nerdy. Let them be Muslim or Jewish or atheist. And you should expect the same respect in return.

There is a huge movement happening in this country to put an end to bullying. While it’s great to teach your kids not to bully others, we should consider leading by example first. Adults in this country are bullying each other every day. There are idiots at all ends of the spectrum looking down on those opposite them while belittling, hurting, offending and essentially shitting on everything they believe to be real and true. How could that not make people mad? How could they not react?

I myself am guilty of this. I make jokes about Christianity almost daily. A big part of me even enjoys doing it. I think the difference is that I would never suggest to a Christian that they need to stop being a Christian. I would only suggest that they need to stop chastising me for not being one. So, Christians (or, anyone really) bring on the jokes right back at me. We should all care about what others have to say but we should also be respectful of their thoughts when they say it. Making jokes and/or expressing yourself is one thing, hurting people intentionally is quite another. We are all different and differences make people uncomfortable, I get that. But, instead of falling victim to discomfort by never exploring others, why not engage each other and learn something. By opening our minds to the different and unusual we can become more accepting of what others say and do.

I think, for the most part, atheists get this. We all tend to agree on the premise of, ‘To Each His Own’. Unfortunately, some of us tend to lash out when others cannot accept that premise and 9 times out of 10, those unwilling or unable to accept are the religious ones. This change in human perspective has to start in the religious world. Muslims have to stop killing westerners, Christians have to become more tolerant of other beliefs/lifestyles, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have to stop knocking on my door!

The burden is on religion and those that practice it to make our world a better, more peaceful place. As an atheist, that makes me extremely uncomfortable (to be honest) however, if I have faith in anything, I have faith in people. I have faith that people are capable of great love and tolerance. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing; we just have to agree to disagree on the details.