It Shouldn’t Be This Way

Some things people don’t know because they weren’t taught. Or it was taught in a way that didn’t make sense to the way their brains work. Or it was beyond them for some reason. All of this is fine. It’s the prideful ignorance that is really wreaking havok with this country. The following Daily Show clip is what inspire this mini-rant:

 

Humanity Has Truly Changed Very Little

Yesterday I read through the intro of Don’t Know Much About Mythology. It posited that one possible reason for myths was for the rich to control the poor. I thought, “Yeah. Makes sense back then with their god-kings, but we’re smarter now.” Then I thought about American politics and realized nothing has changed over the past 10000 years.

By the way, so much of the Christian discourse in America is so far away from the actual content of the Bible that regardless of whether you believe in Yahweh/God and Jesus’ divinity, you should regard most of what you think you know about Christianity as mythology.

Teenagers, Sex, School Sex Ed, and The Church

When I became sexually active (which I’ll loosely define as when I started trying to kiss and touch girls), here’s what I’d been told:

  • School: there are tons of diseases you can get so don’t have sex
  • Parents: If you have sex, make sure you use a condom to protect from aforementioned diseases as well as unwanted pregnancy. Because if you get the girl pregnant you’re dropping out of school to take care of that baby
  • Church: The only proper sex is between husband and wife. Also, masturbation is a sin.

Of those, the only practical advice came from my parents. (The school helped, but I’ll elaborate on where they could have done more momentarily) In the end, I did not have intercourse until I married my wife so I guess all the authority figures in my life “won”. To be clear, my position is that the optimal sex is that between a married couple (whether you be straight or gay) or at least a deeply committed couple. Why? Because whether or not you have a religion that tells you to wait or even have a religion at all, I think sex is a special act between two people. I think sex requires trust because you’re making yourself ultimately vulnerable – you have no clothes to hide behind. Your body and your performance will be judged. And I think that the best sex is sex in which each partner is focused on the needs of the other, not their own. This is more likely to happen in a relationship than a casual hookup. And perhaps the biologists will just tell me that it’s oxytocin or some equivalent brain/body chemical, but post-sex I usually feel extremely close to my wife as though something has occurred on the metaphysical level.

That said, I think the schools and the church failed us as teens and continue to fail our children and grandchildren. Let me start with school first. Sex education, as it was taught to me in Florida (starting around 4th grade), primarily focused on sexual diseases. I think sexual diseases are a very important thing to focus on. Many of our STDs/STIs are incurable and some of them have important detrimental effects on children. And some of those that used to be curable are developing drug resistance. So, in essence, once these diseases are contracted, that person will never be able to have normal, unprotected sex again with anyone who doesn’t have those diseases. However, it ignores some important things. First of all, if kids responded to the whole “You’ll get sick if you do this” tactic, we wouldn’t have any more new smokers. Second, there is a lot about healthy sex that is important to learn and which I only learned from conversations with my parents. For example, they warned me that sex as depicted in movies and pornography was not realistic. Movie sex, for example, tends to ignore realistic female orgasm as many women can’t orgasm on thrusts alone. And, while I’m not into watching porn, everything I’ve read online talks about how it makes men think certain weird sexual behavior is the norm. Another thing they did badly was to focus on getting all these diseases from vaginal sex. Oral sex and anal sex were presumed not to exist. Yet study after study has proven that when kids learn that they should have vaginal abstinence, they tend to move on to oral and anal sex and think those don’t carry the potential for disease. I, for one, didn’t realize the potential for disease just from kissing. I think the education needs to be a bit more comprehensive. I’m not suggesting they do something like this:

But they do need to recognize that the goal should be educating the kids in safe sex so that IF they choose to do it, they will not be at risk for getting hurt – whether that means disease or through incorrect notions of what sex is.

Now for the church. I think it is perfectly alright for the church to advocate that sex should only take place after marriage. The church also needs to realize that a) teens have sexual needs (sexual needs are at a pretty important place in Maslow’s Pyramid) and b) people are getting married quite late in life and continue to have sexual needs from the teen years until they get married. You might say “needs schmeeds, humans are better than animals – we can overcome our base instincts”. Perhaps. But I think the experiences of my High School Youth Group at church is quite telling as well as quite common. You see, church tends to be a hookup scene for teens. They’re spending a ton of time there with a bunch of their peers. They’re told that everyone out there is wrong and a sinner and so it naturally makes sense they’d want a boyfriend or girlfriend from the church community in order to be with another holy person. Within our church group of around 100 teens, nearly everyone hooked up with everyone else. We used to divide into tables based on the school we went to (so we could help each other out at school with spiritual support as well as know we weren’t alone there) and at one point I had dated a plurality of the girls at one of the tables. (This will be an important point later) To help illustrate how strong these needs were – there a bunch of us who hung about – about a group of 20 who used to go out to each every weekend after church and did other activities together. Within this group, there were three of the most godly teens I have ever known. In every aspect of their lives they were as close to Jesus as one could get. Every aspect other than sexuality, that is. (At least according to current church doctrine) Whenever we would confide in each other to try and help each other grow spiritually, they would always admit they were struggling when it came to sex; doing things they knew they shouldn’t be doing. One, that I can clearly remember because of the distress expressed, had engaged in mutual masturbation with the partner in his relationship. I know I was constantly struggling and asking God to keep me from giving in to wanting to do anything more than just kissing.

But, alas, it was a girl from church who was the first girl whose breast I ever touched. Interestingly, I didn’t instigate things – we were just kissing when she took my hand, lifted her shirt and firmly placed it under her bra on her breast. And remember that table of girls? When I was later dating another girl from church she broke up with me and when I asked her why, she said, “The other girls had spoken of you doing x and all you want to do is kiss?” (I had been, at that time, trying to stay faithful to what I thought God wanted from me)

Now, given how sexual teens are, the fact that the church doesn’t want premarital sex, and the fact that refraining from sex would also protect kids from STDs/STIs, you’d think that the church would at least encourage self-love. In what I years later realized was a highly inappropriate situation, when the leader of the High School Youth program was driving us to eat at a restaurant, he asked all the guys in the car when was the last time they masturbated. Someone admitted to having done it and we all received a lecture on how wrong it was. And it permeates quite far up the chain in America:

Many progressives were bewildered by Antonin Scalia’s blistering 2003 dissent in Lawrence v Texas, in which he warned that state laws against evils such as “adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, and bestiality” might be invalidated as a result of the decision. Why, liberals wondered, was masturbation included on that list? The answer is simple: masturbation remains not only a grave sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church to which Scalia belongs, but its acceptance as benign and healthy is perhaps the foundational error of modern sexual culture. – Hugo Schwyzer in Masturbation Is at the Root of the Culture Wars

Yes, as Hugo mentions in that article, it has its roots in the Old Testament, but the Catholic and Protestant dogmas against it seem to have their roots in the waste of semen – something that biology has taught us is ridiculous. Lots of Native American (and, if I remember correctly, some old Asian traditions) also though that a man’s essence could be sapped by too much sex. We now know that, unlike women, men produce semen and sperm until the day they day (although of decaying quality due to aging) Really, the modern church view against it has to do with an odd sense of control and an apparent love of contradictory positions. Your one way to help men and women comply with your edict on no sex before marriage is RIGHT THERE. Just let people deal with themselves. Unfortunately, I think it goes to that weird place in American evangelical thought that if men and women didn’t have to have each other for sex they’d never get married. Which is bonkers. It’s like saying that gay marriage leads to the end of straight marriage.

But, really, sex shouldn’t be a reason for marriage. I wonder if it’s not at least part of the reason for the high divorce rate among the churchgoing? After all, many people suffer sexual issues (and tons of studies have shown that some ridiculously large proportion of women have trouble reaching orgasm). So if the whole point of being married is to be able to have sex and then the sex sucks, isn’t that just horrible? People should get married because of love and/or because they wish to be legally recognized as a union. It’s like the comment I heard so often growing up about why women should not have sex with a man before marriage: “Why would he buy the cow if he could get the milk for free?” Again, it limits the point of getting married to being able to have guilt-free sex, it presupposes that the only reason a man will marry is for the privilege of sex, and it undermines all the others reasons for getting married. Think about it, women, if you have to withhold sex just to get married, is that really a strong union?

Hopefully, as things continue to evolve, we’ll end up with a school and a church attitude towards sex that makes sense and protects people. Again, I think it’s perfectly fine to advocate abstinence, but I think it’s folly to ignore the sex drive that starts with puberty and continues until late in life. Make sure those who don’t believe in it are equipped with the best knowledge. And make sure those who DO believe in it are able to alleviate the situation somehow so they can remain holy without needless guilt. After all, the need is so important that ancient armies would keep their men celibate so they’d be ready to rip someone’s head off (metaphorically AND literally) when war came – that’s a pretty powerful urge.

Guess What? Linux May Not Be for Everyone

I feel like I may have covered bits of this here and there, but I couldn’t find it after a cursory check through my blog.  Fanaticism is fanaticism, whether it’s religious or technological it follows the same path.  Witness anyone who has just become an evangelical Christian (and it probably extends to other religions) as they return to life after their conversion.  For the first chunk of time after doing so they will likely do some or all of the following:  get a new wardrobe, get rid of all CDs/MP3s that aren’t by Christian bands, preach the Gospel to anyone within earshot, read the Bible daily, pray in public spaces (sometimes boisterously as possible), go to church every day, and other things.  With time they may soften in some of these aspects.  They may realize that, for example, it’s probably OK to listen to most of U2 and many other bands that don’t have profanity or sexually explicit lyrics.  But the biggest change anyone outside of their family/best friends will notice is that they realize it’s probably not a good idea to go around telling everyone that their worldview is wrong.  It turns out to be better for everyone if the member of the proselytizing religion waits for others to ask their opinion.  At that time, the person asking is receptive to hearing about this new religion.  (Unlike when they’re ambushed and on the defensive)

Techno-fanboyism is the same way.  People who have just discovered Mac or Linux suddenly have the scales fall from their eyes and can’t wait to tell everyone.  After all, surely everyone else is just using Windows because they don’t know about these great alternative operating systems.  They’re so awesome that there’s no way anyone would want to keep using Windows after learning about them!  Like those discovering religion, they will purge their lives of everything from Redmond.  They will subscribe to magazines about their new operating systems.  They will preach the Gospel of Jobs or the Gospel of Torvalds.  And, just like with religion, most people will just be pissed off.

What recent converts to the new OS don’t realize is that the new operating system is not for everyone.  In fact, I have come to the conclusion that Linux (I don’t have as much experience with Macs) is best for users at the two poles of computing experience.  I know I’ve mentioned somewhere around here (if not on some forums) that I installed Linux for Danielle’s nearly-60-year-old aunt, Co Tam.  Every time I went to visit my in-laws, I’d be dragged into fixing her computer because it had yet another virus.  (She lives in the same house as my in-laws)  This was starting to piss me off because the people in her family of that generation were deaf to my instructions not to open ever stupid attachment their friends sent them.  So one day I just installed Ubuntu onto her computer; since then no problems.  And, it works perfectly.  All she does is use the browser to watch videos and send email.  And I’ve had no complaints.  Everything is perfect.  Yay!

And, with myself and other people like me who know about computers, Linux is easy.  I’ve been using Linux for the past 6-7 years and it has evolved so much in that time that it’s unbelieavable!  I can just drop pretty much any distro onto a computer and it will just work without any problems.  And I only ever have problems when upgrading.  Usually those involve regressions that are quickly found and solved.  Or maybe I have to find a new setting and tweak it.  Every once in a while, I’m out for a couple days while solving it.  But 99.9% of the time everything is fine.  I use my Linux computer as my main computer.  I browse the web, listen to music, check my email, create my webcomic, and more on there.  All the programs I have for all those tasks lack nothing compared to the equivalent programs on Windows.  If you’re into programming (as I am from time to time) you can’t beat Linux!  It has free compilers/interpreters for all the major languages.  (And some obscure ones)  There are two product categories where Linux programs don’t meet my needs – photography and video games.  For those I have my Windows computer.  If I only played console games and didn’t do serious photography, I’d only have my Linux computer.

Then there are the people in the middle like my parents or my wife.  When it comes to my parents, there are many reasons why I stopped recommending Linux after coming out of my evangelist phase.  First of all, they are business owners.  They have certain programs they have to run to process payroll, process childcare-things (they run a childcare franchise), and to keep track of the books.  Most of those things are so niche they’re only used by one company so there’s no Linux equivalent.  Also, they get to deduct costs, so who cares if they have to pay a Microsoft license?  And, because some of the software they use is mandated by the franchise, there’s no need to be free to hack or any of the other free software freedoms.  It just doesn’t make sense.  Second, I live in another state from my parents.  It’s hard enough to play tech support with them using Windows, which they’ve been using all their life and know where the things are.  I can’t begin to imagine doing tech support for them with Linux.

My wife is a special case of another kind.  Once the initial learning for Linux was over, she would have been happy as a pig in mud.  I spent a day with her getting Gnome configured to look and act as much like Windows XP as possible. And everything was pretty much working OK.  But Danielle is an Excel guru.  She stopped using Google Docs’ spreadsheet function because it was too basic for her needs.  So, for her, using OpenOffice.org’s Calc is like trying to fly a stealth bomber in which all the buttons were moved to random locations in the cockpit.  As far as I can tell, everything she wants to do is possible, but it’s somewhere else or done in a really weird way.  I don’t regularly do 1/4 of what she does with spreadsheets, so I have no idea where these things are.  Unlike problems with Nautilus or Rhythmbox where I use the programs daily and, therefore, know what to do, I have no idea how to do the things she wants to do.  And the inline help has left her….unsatisfied.

So, if you’ve just discovered the magic of a free operating system, that’s great.  Isn’t it awesome how you’re in total control of your computer?  So great that you can see all the code for all the programs and even change it on the fly?  Yeah, the regular non-computer-geek doesn’t give a hoot about that.  Make sure you think carefully before you recommend Linux all willy-nilly to everyone within earshot.  It may fit your use cases or, like RMS, you may be ok buying some off-brand Chinese laptop so you can remain free, but that doesn’t apply to most people.  Make sure Linux has what they need before you just end up pissing them off and making a Linux (or Mac) athiest out of them.  You often only get one chance per person to convince them your religion or operating system is the one true religion or operating system.

Maybe it *is* genetic?

John Waters was on NPR to talk about his new book, Role Models.  In the course of talking to Terry, he mentioned dealing with people with Alzheimer’s.  He asked a friend of his, a nurse who works with Alzheimer’s patients – “People forget who their family is, what they did that day or even five minutes ago.  Do they ever forget if they are gay or straight?”  And the answer was “no”.  He surmised this meant it was built in versus a choice.  Because you could forget a choice you made.  While not perfectly conclusive proof, I think it certainly adds to the idea that it is inborn rather than simply a choice.

Is it Obsolete? Evangelism

Welcome to my new series where I wonder if some concepts and technologies are now obsolete thanks to our new paradigms and technologies.  Today’s topic – evangelism.

Short term readers of my blog will think I only write about Linux and technology.  Long term readers will know that I’m a Christian.  I was brought up  (what the media refers to as) an evangelical.  Specifically, I was brought up as a Baptist.  My entire church life though high school involved being told how we had to spread the Word of God.  Indeed, if you believe in the divinity of Jesus and the infallibility of The Bible, it even says in the Gospels that Jesus commanded his followers to spread the “Good News”.  And so they became the first missionaries.

I think, however, that evangelism is now obsolete.  Why?  The point of evangelism is not simply to “spread” the Word of God because that is an easy task on its own.  After all, how hard is it to spread information?  But the real point is to create converts to The One True Religion.  (All caps for satirical reasons)  What I’d like to know are the true numbers behind how many people have ever been converted to Christianity because someone came and told them about Jesus.  Everyone I know (myself included) finds this annoying.  It goes against all we know about human psychology.  If someone comes out of the blue and tells you that you’re completely wrong on some topic are you going to a) change to their point of view or b) become defensive.

But even if we move away from the conversion aspect for just a moment, there’s the fact that technology has made the need to Spread The Word by sending people all over the world an obsolete act.  Except for the few people who exist in the middle of nowhere, like the Amazon, everyone has access to the Internet.  Anyone, anywhere, who has a true curiosity about Jesus the Christ can just google Him.  Sure, there’ll be some websites full of garbage, but there should also be sites out there that tell the Christian point of view.  Churches and other organizations can band together and create an omnibus website and then buy up tons of ad space on Google and get people direct to that site if they want to know about Jesus and Christianity.

Back to conversion.  I’m willing to bet that an overwhelming majority of conversions to Christianity come from someone who decides to find out what this Jesus-guy is all about and then asks someone they think might know about it.

So, I think that instead of sending missionaries all over the world, there should just be one Christian website that tell people everything they need to know about Jesus and the Christian faith.  It can have text, videos, explanations of the Bible in many different languages.  Then there can be a link to someone they can email about God.  And if they want to know even more, there can be a skype number.  Finally, if they truly desire a human being, there can be a link to request a missionary’s presence.  I think a requested missionary would find things a lot better than one who just came barging in.  I think this properly leverages technology and efficiency and is a recognition that there really isn’t a person out there who hasn’t heard of Jesus or can’t ask around or look on the net to find out about Him.  Beyond that, all you can do is wait for people to be ready.  I’m a firm believer that a coerced conversion is a sham and does more hard to the cause than good.

How Long *were* They in the Garden?

If you take the Biblical story of Adam and Eve literally (as opposed to figuratively or allegorically) there is one possible explanation for the world as science sees it that I’ve never, ever heard anyone propose. This shocks me as it seems to be a convenient answer that fits with the science. The Bible tells us that when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree (not the apple…) they had to die. This means that prior to that, they were immortals.  At least that’s the only possible reading of the story of Adam and Eve that doesn’t make God a liar.

God tells Adam and Eve that if they “eat from the Tree they will surely die.”  When God catches them, he doesn’t kill them.  However, he does curse them – Adam gets to toil the Earth and the soil will be a pissy little thing, even with the eventual discovery of irrigation a few thousand years later.  Eve is cursed to no longer be Adam’s equal and to have pain in child birth.  They’re kicked out of the Garden and eventually they die.

So I posit the only way to understand God’s original warning is that if they eat it, they will be capable of dying and, logically, if they don’t eat it they will live forever.  Now, since that part of the Bible is rather short and since we’ve already seen the entire Universe (or maybe just Earth) created in a week, I think that most people read this as if Adam and Eve were scarcely done being created when they were rushing to disobey God.  I mean, at the very least, in all the times that I’ve read the story, I’ve assumed that it happened at most within a month.
But what if Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden for 4 Billion years (or however old the Earth is) ?  Wouldn’t that mean that we could have the best of both worlds?  Outside of the Garden there are dinosaurs and all these other creatures living and dying and leaving fossils.  Meanwhile Adam and Eve are chilling for an extraordinarily long time in The Garden.

In some ways this makes the commission of Original Sin even more likely, right?  I mean, if there’s this tree that you aren’t supposed to eat from and it’s sitting there for BILLIONS of years, wouldn’t you eventually be tempted to go see what all the fuss is about?

In the end, I’m not really advocating this as a serious point except that I’m surprised no one has ever brought it up.  It seems to be to appease both the fossil record and the Biblical accounts.  And, of course, there the fact that other than serving as a story for the reason why we sin, does the factual truth of Adam and Eve affect the message of the Bible as a whole?  I think, it’s actually been the most fractious part of the Bible, if you ask me.

So he *does* admit it!

(I’m writing this on the 21 around midnight, but I have a lot of posts coming up so I time-shifted this to the 24th)

If you’ve read my blog long enough, you know that I believe in events transpiring when they should. In other words, God places things in our lives at the right time. If you call it luck, what is luck, but another name for God? You’re still ascribing it to an unexplainable force.

About 5 months ago I was reading an internet FAQ on Islam. Within the FAQ they stated that Jesus never claims to be the son of God in the Bible. Thus it’s ok for them to merely call him a prophet. Christians just assumed he was. I thought it over and since then I couldn’t think of one time that Jesus admitted he was God’s son. He speaks of the Son of Man in the third person throughout nearly the entire New Testament. A while back I remembered that at his trial he does not deny it when the Pharisees accuse him of claiming to be the Son of God and that this really gets their blood boiling. But I knew there had to be other times, didn’t there?

Today I decide to read Scripture. (And here’s where things tie into the top paragraph) My Bible is put away and I’m in the computer room so I decide to try the Linux program GnomeSword. A couple of Bible downloads later, I’m in the program. I don’t remember where I was in the physical Bible so I choose at random. I choose the International Standard Version and it appears they only have the New Testament. I pick Matthew and randomly pick chapter 16. The number’s been in my head a lot recently. And then I come upon this…..

Matthew 16:13-20:
13 When Jesus had come to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They said, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

15 He said to them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”

17 Then Jesus said to him, “How blessed are you, Simon, son of John! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven has.
18 I tell you that you are Peter, and it is on this rock that I will build my church, and the forces of hell will not overpower it.
19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you prohibit on earth will have been prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will have been permitted in heaven.”

20 Then he strictly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

There’s just one part I have never understood, what is the meaning behind verse 20? There are other times such as when he exorcises demons that he tells people to keep their mouths shut. What gives? Has anyone out there ever asked their preacher/priest/sunday school teacher? Why all the hush-hush?

Anyway, I’m glad I at least found another example where he does indeed claim to be the Son of Man.

Certainty and its effect On Wars

In “Things that Shouldn’t Make Me Happy“, Scott Adams hits on one of the most poignant things I’ve read in a while. For a humorist, he has been making some amazing points recently.

If you think about it, wars are generally fought because of a false sense of certainty. Usually some leader thinks he is a God, or talks to God, or descended from the Gods, or thinks God gave his people some particular piece of real estate. The leader’s opinion is the most certain in the land. People flock to certainty and adopt the certainty as their own. The next thing you know, stuff is blowing up.

You can take any major problem in the world and identify a key culprit who has more certainty than he or she should. For example, Osama Bin Laden is certain that Allah exists, and he’s certain that humans can know what an omnipotent being wants us to do. That hasn’t worked out well for anyone.

When you really think about it, this is the ultimate truth. For if Osama or the Pope in the Crusade Era admitted that he wasn’t 100% exactly what it was that God wanted him to do, he wouldn’t really be able to command so many people to commit all these attrocities.

Sacrifices and other Old Testament Rituals

I’m reading through Leviticus right now and boy is it tough going. The entire Biblical narrative has come to a complete halt as rule after seemingly arbitrary rule is spelled out. And the killer is the repitition. Instead of lumping twenty offenses together and saying, for all of these the punishment is X, it lists the punishment each time for each specific offense!

I used to think that these rules were pretty arbitrary and marveled at just how detailed the regulations concerning their lives was. One thing I’ve always wondered about is what the point of it all was. Why did God have to have all these rituals – did He really need the Isrealites to kills goats, pigeons, and sheep? Couldn’t he just have told them to pray and He would answer their prayers?

I came up with the following hypothesis as to the reasoning behind all the rules. They mostly revolve more around God looking out for His people because I really don’t see why He would NEED these things. One theory is that these regulation allowed the Iraelites to have a healthier life without requiring them to learn all the things we know about modern medicine. For example, there were forbidden to touch carcassas. We know now that this can cause diseases, but they didn’t know that back then! Some have also pointed out that, overall, the diet prescribed to the Israelites by God is one of the healthiest diets a person can have. I’m not a nutrition expert, so I can’t comment on that too much.

Another reason I think the rituals were asked for is that God wanted the Isrealites to prove their devotion to Him as well as prove it to themselves. Thus, nearly everything requires a sacrafice of a sheep or goat. For the Isrealites, especially at this point in their history, these animals represented wealth. Not only that, but sheep could provide wool and goats could provide milk. So the animals could be retained while their products continued to enrich the owners. They couldn’t get rid of their sheep with bad wool when sacrificing to God because He demanded perfectly white sheep. So, to partake in the sacrifices was to give God your wealth and means of making wealth. I think this is definitely a sign of devotion.

Those are some of the ways in which the regulations helped the Israelites in their daily lives as well as showing their devotion to God. However, there is also the possiblity, which I have explored before in other blog posts here or in my first blog, whereby sin is something tangible. Rather than just being a word for disobediance to God or a metaphor for our spiritual distance from him, perhaps it is a thing which exists, but cannot be measured in our world. But maybe in the spiritual world, when sin occurs something binds to your soul which prevents it from proper communion with God. So it’s not just that God wants us to obey him as a sign of love and respect but because, we are accumulating “sin” which makes it impossible for our souls to rejoin with God.

Just some ideas on the reasons for the insane number of rituals governing Old Testament Israeli life.

In Mohammad We Trust?

This news is a few weeks old, but I’m behind on my “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” podcasts. However, a congressman said that we have to be really careful with dealing with Iraq and Iran (meaning bomb the stuffing out of them) or else our money may one day read, “In Mohammad We Trust.”

Hey you moronic, racist/religioust, jerk – does our money say, “In Jesus We Trust?” If your improbable scenario were to play out, our money would read “In Allah We Trust” and everyone knows that Allah == God. Therefore it would say the same thing it says now.

In fact, I will repeat again for the sake of my readers – most people in the middle east get mad when we are translating their words from Arabic to English and then don’t translate the word Allah. It makes it look, they say, as though they worship some other god named Allah. In fact, they believe in the same god as the Jews and Christians. The Jews call him Yhwh/Jehovah/Emmanuel, we call him God, and the Muslims call him Allah. You may even notice that both Jehovah and Allah end in “ah”. That’s because “ah” means god. Allah means, as far as I can tell The God. (From the fact that alchemy, another arabic word, means the chemistry)

I’m sick and tired of these congressmen and women playing to xenophobic fears people have about Muslims. For like the sixth time, we may view the current Shia on Sunni action as barbaric, but we did it all throughout semi-modern history in Europe with the Catholics and Protestants. We should not be scared of them any more than we are scared of Jews, Hindus, or Shintoists.