Richard Dawkins VS William Lane Craig – who cares?

October 21, 2011

Lots of people, probably. Dawkins recently admitted the reason he won’t debate the guy and it has to do with the apparent condoning of child massacre in the bible. Lane Craig claims it’s because God had the right to do it simply because he was God. QED. This blog out of the Guardian shits all over Dawkins, calling him “either a fool or a coward” over his unwillingness to debate the guy using theological arguments.

We are left with two possible conclusions from Richard Dawkin’s flimsy sick note. The first is that he doesn’t understand Christian apologetics, which is why he unintentionally misrepresents Craig’s piece [regarding the deaths of Caananite children and conflicts with that morality then and how we think today]. The most frustrating thing about the New Atheism is that it rarely debates theology on theology’s own terms.

The second is where the cowardice comes into play. Dawkins is just plain scared of going to battle against someone that intelligent and well spoken. He’d rather spend his time mocking the stupid ones… The last part is possibly true, but the first part?

William Lane Craig makes appearances in Saskatoon once in a while. One of our Freethinker members debated him at the University of Saskatchewan in January and it was fun to watch, but brutal to watch at the same time. George did what he could against the guy but Lane Craig makes his living off apologetics and all its bizarre arguments to justify God’s existence and behaviour. It’s hard for an ordinary philosophy professor to compete with that. That’s hardly been his area of focus. Plus, it wouldn’t matter what kind of theological arguments George might know and could have brought to the stage because he’s aware that theological arguments have no basis in reality. They’re just thought experiments and there are far better ways to use one’s brain than contemplating what a god might do and why.

That’s why I think Tim Stanley missed the point with his post. Dawkins has a good reason to skip debating a guy like Lane Craig. You can’t get anywhere doing it. Lane Craig could never best him in a science debate about biology and evolution because that’s not where he’s focused his education and career – except in terms of what he can point at and claim God had a hand in. (Usually with a smarmy smile on his face while he does it.) Debating him accomplishes nothing. I wish everyone would turn him down, frankly. Of course, he’d likely count them all as debates he won by default, but what can you do.

For one thing, you can put the time into battles that have a better chance at being won for real. Keeping science in schools. Teaching critical thinking skills and encouraging skepticism. Stopping teachers from overtly preaching in public schools via prayers or posters. Stop employers from employing similar tactics. Making waves when people want to put up monuments that are meant to speak for all but only seem to apply to a specific religious group. Seriously questioning politicians about their belief systems and what those beliefs might mean for the climate change debate, gay marriage or women’s rights to abortion.

Put the emphasis on the things that matter most in this world and fuck William Lane Craig.

Coming soon to Canada: Rate your Pastor

September 13, 2011

Sometime in the spring there may be a site available for Canadians to have a say in how well or poor their pastors are doing. Germany is ahead on this with their “Hirten Barometer — Shepherd Barometer, in English” and according to the Toronto Star:

It’s much like sites that let people rate their teachers or doctors. But this one gets to the spiritual heart of the matter, rating priests for their services, credibility, how much their finger is on the pulse of their community and how they work with seniors and youth.

“We think it’s positive thing for both sides,” Fabian Ringwald, the site’s CEO and co-creator told the Star. He says the site is moderated to prevent abusive comments from making it online.

“Potential community members can get a first impression on what to expect when attending a service by a priest. And since congregation members don’t often speak up about their priests, the priests can now get feedback about their work.”

The Pope’s got a poor rating: 3.84 out of a possible 6. John Paul II rates marginally better.

The group that runs this thing doesn’t want to push an agenda; their aim is just to “give churchgoers a voice,” and I think that’s awesome. If a pastor or priest is doing a terrific job in a community and being incredibly positive and supportive then he should get props for that. Maybe knowing this site is around will vastly improve the ministering done by the rest who may have been slacking off and getting selfish with their time and commitment levels.

“Quite a few priests are huge fans of the site. They like it and see the value of it, how it has the potential to improve their daily work by giving them feedback they’d otherwise never get,” he explained. “And then we have high-level bishops that tend to be more concerned that it might lead to witch hunts, that the quality of the feedback isn’t sufficient enough for a priest to actually benefit.”

I say give it time. People aren’t used to publicly reviewing the quality of sermons and community outreach. A lot of people are shit at explaining themselves, too, or simply have a poor grasp of the notion of constructive criticism. Sure, there are liable to be people who’ll give a priest a bad score due to some personal vendetta but I’m sure more aim to use the site as it was intended to be used – to help leaders become better leaders by pointing out the weak spots. Are they doing enough to help the hungry or homeless? Are they improving the lives of the youth at risk for joining gangs or getting into drugs? What services do they offer the elderly and housebound? Is the church atmosphere comfortable and welcoming to strangers or insular and anti-social? What sort of long-term goals are they working on that will benefit their congregations and parishes on the whole? Is the pastor someone people do feel they can talk to about important issues? What’s his or her stance on homosexual rights or contraceptives? That might matter to someone looking for a church to call home. How forward thinking? How backwards?

Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Toronto’s Salt and Light TV network, is no fan.

“Public polls and mechanisms like that are not the way that we evaluate the life of the Church or the effectiveness of ministry,” said Rosica, former papal appointee as media attaché to the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican.

“We’re talking about saving souls, about very deep things that aren’t often obvious. So while this may sound enticing and exciting, that’s not how we rate things at all.

“The real question is whether pastoral ministers are bringing people closer to God. Only God knows that.

I’d disagree with that last statement. I think the person brought closer to god by a minister knows as well, and, even as an atheist, I’d argue that anyone who believes his pastor’s ministry has changed him for the better should have the opportunity to praise that pastor publicly. Commend him or her for a job well done. I’m sure there probably are pastors who sit after a service and wonder if their words had any real impact on the audience. Seeing their rating on a site like this might improve their own confidence in their work and role in the world at large. Seeing a bad rating would hopefully encourage them to improve themselves. They do themselves and their church and their faith a disservice if they choose to disregard and ignore what’s said there, especially if the intent was to help, not pastor-bash.

“Priests must be accountable for their preaching, but we don’t evaluate that by blogs. Preaching and church and liturgy are not entertainment reviews. It’s about living, breathing communities of faith.”

Father Peter Watters, recently retired from Oakville’s St. Andrew Catholic Church, agrees.

“I think it could lead to significant amount of abuse . . . people who will blame the priest forever and ever because of some little thing that has happened to them in the past,” he says. “It might not even be the same priest, they just feel that way about clergy in general.”

Some people have trouble getting over things so priests should forever be immune from public criticism? That’s flawed logic and a bad idea all around. Priests and pastors should be held accountable. They’re the public faces for these belief systems that believers hold near and dear to their hearts. They are the public voices of these beliefs and if they are doing a shit job of upholding the beliefs that are tantamount to living wholly by that faith in God and Jesus then believers need a place where they can call them on it, without risking ejection from their churches or losing their families and friends on account of those opinions.

Leaders have to care about how people view their leadership, otherwise there’s no real incentive to be good role models. If they’re not going to give a damn about what people think of them, then why should anyone choose to follow them? If the people aren’t going to be allowed a voice, then the people will have no ability to enact useful change and improve their situation. That’s a bad arrangement and not one I’d willingly sit quiet by and put up with. No one should.

What is the purpose of church? Depends who you ask

February 10, 2011

I found a new opinion piece put together by Leon Fontaine at the Winnipeg Sun. I wrote a reply to something else he published recently regarding faith and I’m game for another go.

We live in a world where many don’t belong to a church.

Statistics tell us that church attendance has been in steady decline for the last five decades. However another survey reveals that many people don’t go to church simply because they’ve never been invited.

Fontaine doesn’t elaborate on where or how he found this information. I found a Canadian piece about declining numbers and it splits the stats up between weekly attendance, monthly and yearly. The question asked there is not why people leave the church but why they’ve reduced the number of times they sit in it. They suggest it could be a lack of commitment but are willing to concede changes in community and culture might also play a role.

Christianity Today has the UK survey information from 2007. Three million people apparently stated they’d go to church if someone asked them to attend. It says nothing about whether they’d make a habit of it, mind you. They’d just go “if they were given the right invitation.”

Jesus’ church is to be a place of hope and encouragement, a place where people’s can grow and have their destinies altered for all eternity by coming into relationship with Him. It’s a place where people can feel accepted and unconditionally loved as together they commit their lives to becoming more and more like Him. When you consider the true purpose of church, you can’t help but feel that its decline is very unfortunate.

I think people also like to use church as a community center where they can meet up with their friends regularly, get involved with fund raising and do some nice things for the less fortunate. But church isn’t the only way to get involved with one’s community. There are so many kinds of groups people can join that will provide the same chances to alter destiny .. assuming you buy into the idea of destiny in the first place, obviously.

Governments and community organizations do many great things, but nothing takes the place of a life-changing church. It’s where people learn to become leaders with honesty and integrity.

Any group can promote and encourage the growth of leadership potential. The church doesn’t hold any monopoly on honesty and integrity; as I reported earlier today, billions of dollars worth of church money gets siphoned out of the church coffers by dirty leaders every year (see here).

It is a rescue for those in trouble, a refuge for those in grief, and a place of love, laughter and discovering a higher purpose. Most important, church is about falling deeper in love with God, learning about the good news of Jesus Christ, and growing in a relationship with Him.

I don’t think the Jesus Christ stuff is at all necessary to achieve that. Won’t a Jewish temples can’t offer the same rescue and refuge? Don’t Muslim temples inspire people to find higher purposes? Judging by what’s most likely to get reported, it’s hard to approve of what they might consider a “higher purpose”, but it’s also a major fallacy to assume everyone who practices Islam will become an expert in terrorist tactics in the process. Can’t a Buddhist also know love? He probably thinks an atheist can’t at all, but he’s clueless.

Church should never be a place where you feel judged or condemned. It is meant to inspire you to do good works, to become a better person, discover unbelievable joy and develop faith in God. Where else in society can families learn to grow together, married couples find skills to work through problems and discover a higher level of intimacy, and where men and women find exciting purpose and meaning in their lives?

Psychologists and self-help gurus have to earn a living somehow.

Not very marriage counselor is going to take a biblical tact for dealing with relationship issues, either. Marriage counselors have gotten into hot water by doing that, actually.

If you’ve found a great church, you owe it to yourself to get involved. Volunteering is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It will enrich your life tremendously. You also have the great privilege of growing the church. Make it your mission to share your faith and invite others. Look around at the people in your life. Do they know where you attend church? Have you ever asked them to join you? If not, what are you waiting for? Ask someone new to join you on Sunday morning. You never know, it may change someone’s life—and their destiny—forever.

But keep in mind that the people you ask have a right to say no without feeling guilty about it. The people you ask have a right to live their lives the way they want without your interference or assumed need for intervention. They have a right to believe what they want, think what they want, do what they want, even if it all runs contrary to what you think is God’s plan for their lives. If they want him, they can seek him out anytime. They can seek you out any time and ask for Jesus. Pray for them if you feel you must but it’s none of your business what they do if they don’t.

Maybe they’ve already joined a local chapter of Freethinkers or Humanists and will never want what you’re offering.

1minion pretends to debate an atheist ad complainer

December 18, 2010

Pretending obviously because the column itself was written long before I woke up this morning. It’s by someone named Michael Coren, who also has a blog, but not one I’ve ever read before. So, onto the Toronto Sun article and my lengthy rebuttal… Read the rest of this entry »

Quotable letter to the editor

September 10, 2010

I don’t tend to read our local paper, but the other night at the atheism lecture, someone from the audience mentioned a letter that had been printed by the Saskatoon Star Phoenix that was sure to get seen and talked about. It’s about the new cathedral being built in town but doesn’t stop there.

While the faithful bask in the glory of the new Roman Catholic cathedral, they see hope, comfort and a deep and personal connection to God.

What I see is yet another monument to a 1,500-year-old criminal organization.

In 1962 the church issued Crimen sollicitationis.

In case your Latin is as bad as mine, that means the crime of soliciting.

Catholics should ask themselves how they feel knowing that a portion of their donations went to ensure the relocation and sanctuary of child rapists for the past 50 years, or to silence or compensate the victims (the ones who weren’t excommunicated)?

How do they accept the fact that the Pope lies to an entire continent, telling them that use of condoms increase the chances of getting AIDS? How do they feel when their infallible moral leader says that ordaining women is “grave” a sin as sex abuse?

I think it’s called “compartmentalizing” and everybody does it to some extent. At that philosophy lecture it got mentioned that munitions workers who are making stuff that will eventually blow up a lot of innocent people, including children, can still go home and make love to their wives and hug their kids. They manage to separate those parts of themselves so work never interferes with the home zone and vice-versa. I think Catholics are probably adept at doing the same thing. They won’t believe in zombies but they’ll accept the risen Christ, after all. They may protest against unfair treatment of women in other venues, but under god’s roof, god’s word is still law for those who believe strongly. They can ignore the paradox of that, I guess, where the rest of us wind up shaking our heads.

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church acts like a band of misogynist, homophobic, sexually repressed adolescents. The fallacy that they provide any form of moral guidance is laughably absurd. This organization has proved repeatedly that it has no moral authority.

It could easily be argued that nobody should have been looking at institutionalized religions as moral compasses in the first place, but it’s been a habit to do so hundreds of years, allowing them to have so power over states and laws and humanity. It’s a hard habit to kick, too, even though it needs kicking. One good quote I copied off the presentation the other night was one from Voltaire: “Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.” Clearly the Catholic church has that power.

When will there be enough palaces? This thing will cost $28 million? Build a small non-faith school, build a homeless shelter, or expand the size of the food bank.

That’s a good point. Weblocal lists 200 churches for Saskatoon and it might even be missing some. There are all kinds of places of worship already available. Why do we need another when there are so many better ways that money could have been spent to improve social conditions in this city? Are there really so many Catholics in this city and area that they’ll even manage to fill every pew? And then what happens to all the other Catholic churches in town if most of their congregations migrate to this monstrosity?

Many of us are tired of having all this faith on display in our open, multicultural, multi-faith society.You can worship God from home.

Brent Pollard

People can worship their gods at home but I don’t begrudge them their desire for community connection while they do that instead. They may as well be in the churches than let them all sit empty and ripe for vandalism. I don’t care about the fact that there are churches. I don’t care if people want to spend their days and nights and weekends worshiping in churches. I only start to care when those same people try to make everyone do it or try to influence governments into catering to their whims like they are somehow more worthy of money or dominance or rights than any other group. That is why the push for a secular society is so important. It is more fair to everyone and a good compromise in a multicultural, multi-faith city like this one. Nobody should be above anyone else in terms of what ideologies are most worthy.

Yes, I must tackle the “pressing challenges” of faith groups…

August 3, 2010

How can I not!? This is brilliant! Praise be to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, blessed be his noodly internet appendages which have pulled me in the direction of this article! It’s quite the pile of blog fodder! Ramen, my brothers and sisters of the Holy Meatballs! Rejoice in his tasty glory, for he is the one true God!

Here it starts:

There are many challenges facing Christians in the 21st century. Rather than giving you a list, I’ll highlight one of the most pressing problems of all.

The challenge is getting Christians to develop an eternal perspective, an outlook that sees earthly life in light of eternity. Paul had this viewpoint when he wrote: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Paul certainly had his head up his ass, didn’t he? Why didn’t he preach about enjoying the fleeting life we’re given? Why such a push toward heaven’s great reward for putting up with this fleeting life we’re given? Why can’t the desire be put into making the most of the time here on Earth?

I have to quote some poetry now, sorry. It’s a piece I’ve loved since university and totally worth sharing, written by Robert Herrick in 1648:

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles to-day To-morrow will be dying. The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, The higher he's a-getting, The sooner will his race be run, And nearer he's to setting. That age is best which is the first, When youth and blood are warmer; But being spent, the worse, and worst Times still succeed the former. Then be not coy, but use your time, And while ye may, go marry: For having lost but once your prime, You may for ever tarry.

I most certainly prefer the carpe diem attitude of this to anything Paul might have thought. Gather the rosebuds, dammit. Enjoy your time here as much as you are able. And it’s not just these marry virgins – any age you are, enjoy your life as well as you are able!

But sadly, I go back to Reverend Rick Reed:

Without an eternal perspective, Christians become near-sighted. We live for the here and now. We get focused on accumulating earthly treasures, which wind up eaten by moths or stolen by thieves (Matthew 6:19-21). What’s worse, we lose our passion to help others get ready to meet their Maker. We block out the looming reality of God’s coming judgment

The fuck!? I don’t want to be groomed for any fucking maker while I’m trying to enjoy here and now, getting my treasures sorted out into pretty colours and killing every moth with a hearty spray of soap and water. Thieves haven’t been much of a problem for me so far either as I’ve got squat worth stealing, nor have I felt the desire to take what isn’t mine to begin with. That’s why I make money, you dick. And even then, there’s credit!

We lose the urgency to pass on the good news Jesus announced when He said: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned” (John 5:24).

Some may worry an eternal perspective will make Christians so heavenly minded they’ll be of no earthly good. Actually, it works the opposite way. C.S. Lewis observed that the “Christians who did most for the present world, were those who thought the most about the next … Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.”

C.S. Lewis can kiss my ass, too. The man may have claimed he tried being an atheist for a while but I don’t think he ever really was one. I think he doubted his faith, but like Anne Rice and her silly business, he just went back and manipulated it into something he could live with. Not that I’d begrudge him that experience – it’s what lead to his publishing of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and all the rest. He dove into mythology and the occult while he was on the fence with God and the literary world is better for it.

I think it’s pretty clear that atheists and believers are not really on the same page when it’s time to deal with some issues. How many believers think like Reed anyway? How can we possibly convince these kinds of people to love the earth and treat it decent while we’re on it when they’re already so damned eager to get the hell off?

Quotable open mind

July 28, 2010

I quote from this:

I know many Christians who learn to defend their faith by reading the works of Christian philosophers. Personally, I prefer to read the works of committed atheists such as Ayn Rand (who offers some of the most scathing criticisms of religion I have ever read). After all, isn’t the human immune system most strengthened by actual exposure to disease?

So from a person of faith, to people of faith: give thanks to ridicule and criticism of your religion. Remember that what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. An unchallenged belief is a weak belief – I prefer my opinions be somewhat battle-hardened.

Which reminds me, I put a hold on Ray Comfort’s comfortably bad book entitled, You Can Lead and Atheist to Evidence But You Can’t Make Him Think. While I’m sad my library spent money on the thing, at least it means I can enjoy laughing my way through it without putting my own money toward the opportunity. I’d rather save what I make for worthwhile things, you know? Expect a post of mostly quotes and typed out guffaws at some point in the future.

I also have to work through “O” God: a dialogue on truth and Oprah’s spirituality by Josh McDowell and Dave Sterretts that has been published like a work of fiction. That one’s pretty short so maybe I’ll get it read yet this week and have something prepped for that too.

Prayer does nothing but waste time

July 22, 2010

I’d told a casual co-worker about the Man the last time she was in and we were catching up yesterday during a quiet moment. She said she was happy for me (as all those girls are..they like seeing me smile so damn much — but it’s not like I was a depressing piece of shit prior to Canada Day though) and then said that she’d prayed for me. I’m like, that’s not necessary. Yes, I really prayed for you. Yeah, but really. It’s totally unnecessary…and that ended that bit of conversation with her. She was trying to throw fate into it, too, but I believe in that even less than I believe in deities. Random chance rolled the good result in my direction for a change, that’s all. I’m ubergrateful, but totally aware of the absolute randomness of it.

Anyway, this is one of those crazy Only Prayer Will Heal the Nation! letters to the editor that crop up fairly frequently. I’ll quote from the letter that launched it first, though.

Can’t pray here; can’t have a flag there; can’t say the Pledge of Allegiance; can’t mention Jesus Christ even in a prayer: It has gotten to the point of stupidity and foolishness.

Where are you living? If you live in the States, you can pray in 100% of the space around you (but maybe not out loud). You can hang a flag up on just about anything, say the Pledge whenever your little heart desires, and can Christ the crap out of your daily prayers as much as you want (but possibly still under your breath, depending). The stupidity and foolishness comes into play when, and only when, the assumption crops up that the whole country ought to be thinking and praising and praying like you do, no matter what the venue. Here’s something important that needs saying: government locales should never be the venue on account of the fact that Christians are not the only kinds of Americans and it’s stupid and foolish to ignore that very real fact and then claim you’re forsaken and downtrodden even though you’re still the huge and massively fucked up majority.

We are letting a few people, including many of our top politicians and citizens who have no affection or love for America or God, take away our liberties and force sinful, ungodly lifestyles on us.

Nobody’s making you have same sex partners, abortions or whatever current freakish liberal activity has your dander up. Choice is simply part and parcel of freedom. That’s how you can tell you’re really free.

I ask all those who are willing to humble themselves with me, a dirty rotten sinner saved by the grace and blood of Jesus Christ, to pray like we never have before and then to get off our knees daily and earnestly seek information on the candidates and vote some righteous Sons of Liberty into office this November.

God can’t tell you fuck all about candidates. Do real research. What sucks more is what kind of candidates are the only kinds you’d want. It’s quite disturbing.

We need to take a break from this party culture and “me first” society and focus on what is important because our freedoms are getting gone quickly.

I share all this in humbleness with a broken heart but firm in my commitment to faith and freedom.

Johnny Meadows

Well Johnny, how did you not notice all the Me First shit you threw into this letter? You want the country to be run your way, do you not? How is that taking a break from whatever you think is wrong with your country?

Okay, onto the response:

I was amazed when I read Johnny Meadows’July 18th letter to the editor headlined, “Destructive factions are ruining our nation.”

I wholeheartedly concur that we need to seek God’s forgiveness and help as well as for our nation. In II Chronicles 7:14, God promises to listen, forgive us and heal our land if we humbly pray.

How’d that work with that oil spill? Oh, well, I suppose any positive human innovation on that end still winds up attributed to God’s good graces. It’s so easy when you have an out. Why commend human beings for their ingenuity when God can quietly take the credit for everything great that happens?

It is also important to pray for our president, regardless of our opinions about his performance. He needs to receive mercy and insight from God! He needs to receive wise counsel and make wise decisions. If we seek God’s help for our president, we will enjoy a greater level of peace in our own hearts and in our nation. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)

Which bible verse was the one being paraded on bumper stickers for a while regarding Obama? Anyone remember? I remember. Psalm 109:8: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

If he needs wise counsel and decisions, it’s going to come from his aides and employees who’ve been hired to be wise decision makers that Obama can trust and depend on. He has a hellishly hard job, made worse by having to clean up the shit left behind by his predecessor and, to be fair, he’s never had a job like this before. Anyone would make mistakes in his position. It’s what he does to fix them that really shows his merit and dedication to doing the best he can. Does he fix them? Does he pretend things aren’t fucked up? Does he admit when he’s wrong? I’m asking seriously here. I don’t pay attention to politics at all.

I believe the saying: “Prayer changes things.”

Louise Young

Well, Louise, you can if you want to. I prefer to believe that people do. Eventually. If they want it bad enough.

People can change things.

Weariness: “it’s when your soul is tired”

April 25, 2010

I’d like to see the scientific proof that backs that one up. Alas, none exists. That doesn’t stop columnist Leon Fontaine from claiming such a thing in order to shill his theories on the importance of letting God fix it, though.

weariness isn’t a condition of the body. It’s when your soul is tired.

Weary people have an empty depthless look in their eyes and a discouragement with life that penetrates to their very core. Their condition doesn’t come from over-expending energy or having a stimulating life. It comes from faulty beliefs.

More likely it comes from a chemical imbalance in the brain, or simply from the sudden realization that the wants far surpass the capacity to get.

Weariness sets in when you believe your life will never get any better, that your marriage is doomed, or that you’ll always be destitute.

Some people have very high expectations that can’t be met, no matter who they marry or how much money they have. Other people make really really bad choices when it comes to that kind of thing. Maybe what they need is marriage counseling, or better skill at budgeting. And I suspect most people would be far more satisfied with less if they could get over the feeling that more has to be had all the damn time.

I’d gotten a student loan for university. The folks helped a bit and what I made over the summers would have helped more too if I’d spent the money on classes instead of a stereo, or whatever. After grad, it took nine years to get out from under it. It would have been sooner had I been smarter with the money I was making with my two jobs but so it is with a lot of things.

Wal-Mart mentally and physically drained me. I was weary. I went through years worth of weary. While I’d never state that I believe souls even exist, after a while it felt like a little part of me died every night I had to spend cleaning up after people in the fashion departments. It became my hell on earth. Why didn’t I quit? Because my student loan needed paying off, and after that was done I was still broke. Could I have gotten a different job? Maybe, but then I would have had to give up all my hours at the library, too, and that was my favourite part of making money (piddly sum that it was).

I was very fortunate that I managed to get hired by the library shortly after I started at Wal-Mart because it’s the library that saved my sanity. At first, I only had eleven hours of work a week there, but I was able to apply for more as other people moved around or left and got up to 27, including Saturdays and Sundays. Joy of joys. I got to a point with Wal-Mart where every part of me hated the walk from the bus stop to that building. It would sour my whole day knowing I had a shift there that night, and I felt no remorse skipping any of them. None whatsoever. I was WEARY.

The best way to overcome weariness is to share your burden with God and have faith that He will meet your needs and help you achieve an amazing life.

The best way to overcome weariness is to jump at the opportunity to change something – change anything. A full time term opened up in a different department at the library; I took a chance applying for it and got it. That was a happy day. It was an even happier day when I got to give my resignation letter to Wal-Mart and walked away from it for good.

If you can’t change your job, maybe change what you do with the rest of your time. Find some fun. Find something you like that gives you that boost of “happy to be here.” Yeah, I suppose taking the god route is the way some people can get that feeling, but we don’t all have to do it that way. I never bothered. I was happy to be at the library. It didn’t matter how many books were out of place, or on tables, or chopped up for someone’s art project. It didn’t matter if dead birds got shoved through the book deposit drop, or condoms were found in place of bookmarks. I was happy there. I am happy to be there. It doesn’t even matter how much work is still sitting undone over there, I like being there.

People need to like being wherever they are. If that place is church, fine. If it’s a park, or a zoo, or helping the elderly, or shopping (assuming they can afford it), fine. Bottom line, you need to like being where you are. If you don’t, then what on earth are you doing there?

Accept God’s grace and power in your life. Once you accept Jesus into your heart, you can receive the grace and power of God.

This is not a necessary step for everyone. People in need of money do not need to join a club where they’ll be encouraged to give what little they have away. People who need friends don’t need people who will befriend them only because there’s some heavenly reward for reaching out. People lacking direction should be wary of people with ulterior motives who claim they can help with that, “if” or “but…”. Religion is not always going to be the answer to problems, no matter how sincere the propaganda may seem.

Don’t allow guilt to wear you down. Weariness is often a result of constant guilt.

There are two ways guilt can get to us; when we say no yet feel like we should say yes, and when we’ve said yes but know we should have said no. Freedom from guilt is knowing the difference and following through. Quit agreeing to do more than you can handle. On the flip side, don’t be too selfish. Cooperation and compromise have to keep in some kind of balance. Not just because it’s fair, but because it ought to. We ought to have to give up some things to make room for other people in our lives but we should never give our lives over to other people completely and it is beyond unkind for people to expect it.

You have the power to overcome weariness. To turn off weariness, you need to believe that God will give you the strength.

You don’t need to believe some god can strengthen you before you do anything different. I didn’t need it. I didn’t have to turn to some religion in order to get a better chance at a good and happy life. I took a chance on a different kind of change and it worked out great. Yeah, okay, I’m not married, I don’t have kids, I’m without a lot of the stresses a lot of other people have regarding loans and mortgages and whatever. But really, a change doesn’t have to be a big thing yet it can still make a big difference in how much joy you feel when you get up in the morning, and how much joy you give others.

Changing one little thing can help a lot but you are the one who has to decide what needs changing and when that change needs to be done. Don’t think for a second that you have to follow Leon Fontaine’s advice. Don’t think for a second that I can claim my way is better. All I can claim is it worked better for me, and might do the same for you.

But you are the one who has to decide. Nobody can do that for you.

Sure, men are to blame…

April 20, 2010

This winds up being something of a continuation of a previous post, since it looks like this letter to the editor is a rebuttal of a letter I wrote about here. So, the letter from Tim Van Hoffen Fenwick, entitled “Man, not religion, is responsible for suffering”:

Since secular humanists like facts so much, here are a few. Fact: we are a secular humanist society when it’s convenient, if we invade another country it’s because we’re Christian.

I wonder if he’s being facetious here. Or maybe he’s an American. Doesn’t Canada do more peacekeeper work than actual invading? It’s not like there’s any intention of a long-term takeover, surely. Then again, I don’t keep track of what our military does in Afghanistan, or wherever else “we” go. I have no idea what they’re up to. But are they going because they’re Christians, or because some higher-up told them to pack their gear and get a move on?

Fact: To be a Christian is not a label, you must try to live as Christ lived. Hitler: not even close!

“Christian” is too a label, and if everyone lived like Christ lived, everyone would be broke, bearded, and wearing linen underwear while starving in the desert.

Fact: There is no such thing as generic education; much of what is taught in school will always be influenced by religious perspective. Fact: Having a educational choice when it comes to curriculum is desirable. Why not perspective?

Is he advocating for a strong religiously-inspired curriculum here? I think religion needs to be pulled even further out of school than it is already. They can get that stuff after school if their parents want to give it to them. Religion has no place in math, health or science.

I’ll concede that it needs to be acknowledged for current events, if only as a means of explaining why people do what they do. For example, oil might be a motivation, but what faith fallacies are fed to the masses to justify all the violence required to get it? And history has to include religion, because so many people have guided their thoughts and actions by their belief systems, no matter how wrong and flawed they were – including Hitler.

Fact: the lowest common denominator to “avoidable” human suffering is not God or religion, it’s man. Fact: When it comes to oppression, if man can’t use religion to get what he can’t have, he will use something else. Science can be abused more readily than religion.

Sure, like money, or brute force. Or by killing two birds with one stone, i.e.) selling rifle sights secretly inscribed with bible verses. More often than not, they’ll utilize the wonders of scientific progress only so they can bolster them with a shitload of religious claptrap and remind people that God wants only one side to win – our side.

Fact: As Christians we believe that we are commanded by God to tell others about Jesus Christ. So I guess my question is, as the head of the religious order, the Niagara Secular Humanists,

Humanism is not a religion, it’s an ethical philosophy and not bound by dogma, ritual, or supernatural entities to guide morality. It’s closer to the “lowest common denominator” concept than Christianity is.

why monthly preach its gospel? It can’t be because you believe the world will be a better place without God. There’s no facts to support that, and then who ya gonna blame?

We’ll blame ourselves instead of a devil or a scapegoat. That at least would be an improvement. The reason there are few facts to support it is because few cultures have existed without some notion of a religion to back it up. We can, however, point to the least religious countries in the world (Estonia, Sweden and Denmark) and see how they’re doing. (H/T Daily Atheist for the link)

Men (and women) are to blame. That’s because our societies use Christianity, this man-made religion, to justify doing terrible things and those doing those things will still label themselves Christian and be proud of themselves. The Christian God is a god born of oppression and domination and slavery and war. Toss Jesus Christ into the middle of it and sing your kumbayayas until your heart bursts with joy if you want to, but that is fact. The bible demonstrates it, the Crusaders lived it, and presidents like George W. Bush preached it on a daily basis to a country willing to believe it.

I think the world would be better off without religion. Maybe then we’d see people as people, rather than rivals or heathens in need of soul saving. Maybe we’d be more willing to compromise, to give in, to live and let live. Maybe we’d help more, smile more, think more, visit more. Maybe we’d cease comparing our lifestyles in terms of better or worse, more right or wrong than someone else’s. Maybe we’d lose the chips on our shoulders, the selfishness, the greed. Maybe we’d care more about rescuing this planet instead of waiting impatiently for another life to begin on some other mystical plane of existence. And maybe all the assholes and bastards and sexually deviant child molesters would actually be held accountable for their actions. Maybe we’d get real equality and justice.

To be completely frank, I don’t see how we could do worse.


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