I Am Officially Shocked

You need to go check this out at Buzzfeed. S’rsly. I’m only posting here in case y’all been under a rock, y’alls.

One thing to bear in mind is that Donohue makes $400,000 for pulling this crap.

It’s one thing to piss on the gays – we all expect that – but the Jews??? The motherfucking Jews?????


With friends like these, who needs Pogroms?

Not really a shock – wingnuts have a long and storied tradition of hating Jews, outliers like National Review’s pet Mooslem-hater notwithstanding. The sort of lunatics that are still cheering Donohue on at this point probably enjoy swapping “Bubba sez he heard they like drinking the blood of Christian babies” stories around the dinner table…

Religion has killed more people than pretty much anything. This is not helpful.

I don’t think that there is a single American Jew who thinks that It Can’t Happen Here.

@SanFranLefty: Sorry, no. I just posted in your other thread.

@blogenfreude: Religion’s just an excuse. Folks would find other reasons to kill people without it. We’re a creative species.

I honestly thought no one would dare use such language any more.

@Dodgerblue: The It Can’t Happen Here story is extraordinarily well-told in The Hare With Amber Eyes.

@al2o3cr: The Blood Libel is, to my thinking, the same as that used against we heterosexually challenged Americans who are accused of recruiting and converting the children. Which of course isn’t true. Apart from Catt.

@nojo: Yes. Even the anti-theists would agree on that point. I say we go after the Sockinbirks next.

@JNOV: Actually, the impression I get from Celebrity Atheists is that if only religion went away, the world would be a better place.

One problem with that Happy Thought: We’d still be stuck with ourselves.

Religion isn’t a cause of violence — it’s a symptom, an expression, a convenient excuse. The problem is that we’re violent critters, and we’ll reach for any weapon at hand.

Smug Atheists reveal a profound misunderstanding of human nature. The world they live in is no more real than the world of their opponents.

@nojo: I’ve been off the anti-theist bandwagon for awhile, but if you ignore The Four Horsemen, many have said that the world would be a better place for the individual in the sense that critical thinking would replace magical thinking…hopefully. That the damage isn’t flying planes into buildings so much as freezing one’s mind, especially religions that push “pray, pay and obey.”

@JNOV: “Hopefully” is also magical thinking. Religion doesn’t prevent critical thinking. Just ask the Jesuits.

@nojo: I have issues with the Jesuits unrelated to critical thinking, and I’m not sure that all hope is irrational. Spending one of your last dollars on a lottery ticket hoping that you’ll beat astronomical odds is irrational. Hoping that you live another day is rational.

Hoping that analysis of facts as we know them at the time might replace the almost OCD-type belief that if you say the right words, do the right things, worship the right god(s), you’ll be rewarded or at least not punished, is not magical. Many who have left religion have done so because they analyzed their beliefs with a critical eye to whether or not those beliefs make sense.

Granted, the converse might not be true. If you take religion out of the picture, people’s thought processes will change, but how? Correlation =/= causation, but folks like me who extricated themselves from fundamentalist or cult-like belief systems tend to do so after gradually trying out other religions and testing them until there are no religions left to test, or you just say, “Meh. It’s not likely that any religion is going to make sense to me.” Cog-dis is a motherfucker.

Based on past discussions, I think you and I started from opposite ends of the spectrum of belief based on what we were taught as children. I don’t know how much of your life was imbued with religion, and I don’t know how old you were when you started deciding for yourself if what you’ve been exposed in general makes sense. Maybe critical thinking was commonplace in your environment, and maybe it was praised. I was told that I “thought too much” or got the shit kicked out of me if I expressed that some stuff seemed too fucking whacky to be true. Like jetpacks.

Back to the Jesuits: Loyolas, Inc. aside, their missionary efforts leave a lot to be desired.

@Benedick: Wingnuts always find a new way to horrify me. It’s a cross between stunned disbelief and boredom for me every time.

@JNOV: I don’t know how much of your life was imbued with religion

As a practical matter, none. Mom dropped me off at Sunday School, then drove back home.

On the other hand, I was criticized for reading science fiction during vacations instead of looking at the scenery.

Individual cases will always vary, but on the whole, religion thrives because people want it to. And that’s also part of human nature. We like telling stories.

@nojo: I agree with you, but the question is: If religion were to disappear, would people’s thinking change and not would they be less or more violent or the same.

How would the world change if everyone thought this life is it? No Mulligans. No heaven. No hell.

@JNOV: The Four Horsemen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68SgQLKnlYM

Megadeth, “Mechanix”, the basis for Four Horsemen from when Mustaine was with Metallica. Kerry King from Slayer was with Megadeth for a brief period pre-Reign in Blood. I’ll be seeing Slayer next month.


Sick day due to stomach bug. It might actually be a system-induced day off.

@JNOV: Whoever dies with the most toys, wins.

Honestly, I don’t think there would be any change at all. People use religion to justify their preferences. Nobody reads Leviticus; they just know that God Hates Fags. Remove Leviticus from the stage, and they’ll find some other excuse.

Same thing with politicians. The problem isn’t [Insert Favorite Wingnut Here] — it’s the people who elect him.

@nojo: To which I say, you can’t take it with you.

@redmanlaw: Hey! Feel better.

1. Apparently Hetfield wasn’t always butt ugly.

2. Who’s that poor DudeWithoutASpotlight on the left?

@nojo: How do people without religion or who don’t vote, protest or rally justify their preferences? They have them, right?

@JNOV: Also, you can’t “disappear” religion — we invented it. Religion is humanity’s greatest, most enduring, creative project — both awesome and awe-inspiring.

All because we’re talking critters. We love language. We love telling stories. And religion is The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Which gets to the heart of my issue with Smug Atheists: They think religion is something to be excised, a virus on consciousness. It doesn’t work that way. Religion is a story we tell about the world, and about each other. It frames our very thinking.

That’s why I think there’s only one honest response for an honest atheist: Sheer fascination.

@JNOV: I have plenty of preferences. And I can run circles around justifications. But what do they all come down to?

Gut calls.

You have to learn to identify and trust your instincts. There’s no other way. And there’s no other justification.

@nojo: Honesty — whoa. Pretty value-laden adjective [ETA: noun, gerund, whatthefuck. It’s 100º here!] there.

You can be fascinated and still wonder without being smug.

And here’s the thing. Most people have an idea of what type of society they would like to live in be it egalitarian, homogeneous, whatever. Then you run into the usual, “Are you just going to bitch about the way things are, or are you going to work for change?” And it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about politics or religion. People try to influence others to get them on their team whether they think they are or not. Attempts at influence can be very subtle to the point that one doesn’t know that’s what they’re doing.

So…back to your point about fascination. I’m watching The Story of India featuring my awesome boyfriend, Michael Wood. It’s incredibly fascinating. I’m at 500 BCE and the point where he’s discussing the danger ideas (is Buddhism a religion or philosophy? ;-) ) can pose to a hierarchy. Yes. It’s fascinating.

@nojo: You have to learn to identify and trust your instincts. There’s no other way. And there’s no other justification.

No, no, no. Bad idea. Test assumptions/gut calls all that good stuff all the time. We change. Knowledge is never perfect, but I’d rather make a call based on changing amounts of knowledge than my gut.

Indigestion has kicked my ass way too many times for me to trust my gut.

@JNOV: Pretty value-laden adjective there.

Yup. I have Deep Issues with the Atheist crowd. They’re defining themselves by what they oppose. Bad move.

Also, I’m not a Team Player. (Or, as I like to say, “Depends on the team.”) In a political context, I don’t like Team Blue or Team Red. The moment you identify with one side, your perception is warped. I’m obviously a Prog Lefty by nature, but I don’t like waving the flag about it.

Test assumptions/gut calls all that good stuff all the time.

Well, yes, of course. I’m not saying Hulk Smash. I am saying that when you boil off all the rationality (and irrationality), all that remains is a Gut Call.

Gut Calls are not easy to recognize — we’ve had our instincts socialized out of us. But we’re still critters, and all critters have instincts, so it takes some practice to learn what those instincts are.

(I’m trying very hard not to say “find your center”, because that just rains down a lot of useless New Age crap on you. Also, serious astrologers can nail me as a Taurus a mile away. That fascinates me, too.)

In fact, “question your presumptions” should be the first and only rule of “critical thinking” — another term I’m not fond of. Or, as my all-time favorite bumper sticker says, Subvert the Dominant Paradigm.

@nojo: Labels vs. identity is also a big part of this mess. I dunno. My head hurts.

@JNOV: My head hurts.

Congratulations! You’ve just been awarded an honorary master’s degree — in philosophy!


I think you’ll find that theatre predates religion: her unfortunate younger sister who is given to guzzling communion wine and making reckless promises.

Why yes, I should be at work, thanks for caring.

@Benedick: “Thanks for caring,” said the actress to the bishop.

I think there’s overlap to the point of no distinction — early stories were acted, told through song, dance, and they were usually about creation.

@JNOV: Labels vs. identity is also a big part of this mess.

Now that you mention it, I could test a hypothesis that all contemporary politics is Identity Politics. (“Hypothesis” here meaning, “I don’t have a gut call on it.”) That’s what makes it both predictable and boring after awhile: If I know ThinkProgress’s and RedState’s moves before they do — each pandering outrages to their respective audiences — then there’s little I can learn from them.

Yes, yes, false equivalence. Pandering Lefty Outrage is not nearly as vile as Pandering Wingnut Outrage. But they’re both fucking tiresome.

@nojo: Pandering Lefty Outrage is not nearly as vile as Pandering Wingnut Outrage.

I’m not so sure…

But they’re both fucking tiresome.

I’m sure. (Goin’ with my gut on this one.)

@Benedick: I think you’ll find that theatre predates religion

I’m beyond my historical competence here, but how separate were they for the Greeks? Does religious spectacle and theatrical spectacle derive from the same source? And can the two be separated in Homer?

I use the Greeks instead of the Egyptians because, well, you know, Western Civ. The Greek world is recognizable to us.

@Benedick: Darling. Rhythm is all (as the actress said to the bishop). The phrase must ever be: as the actress said to the bishop. Or, to return to the pure form: as the bishop said to the actress. There can be no word substitution or change of phrasing. There are very few things in life that demand such absolute precision. You can fuck around with the fingering of the Appassionata. You cannot fuck with this.

Now I’m back to work. Mad kisses, darlings.

I’m going back to hunter-gatherer-before-wolves-were-dogs here. Classics, schmassics. We’ve been telling stories since language consisted of imitating animal sounds.

@Benedick: But I can fuck with you, right (as the actress said to the cardinal)? ;-*

@JNOV: Speaking from experience on that one. I used to trawl ThinkProgress every night for story tips. But you have to sort the honest outrage from the ginned-up Outrage!

That’s also why I enjoyed WorldNetDaily: Thoroughly cynical, not an honest word on the site. WND is a weathervane for wingnuts: Every story there is a calculation about what will press a wingnut button. They’re not always right about it, but they know their audience better than I do.

@Benedick: I’m not getting any work done, either. But I was up half the night having a Deep Debate whether to target an iPhone project on iOS 5.0 or iOS 5.1, then realizing I need an iPhone 3GS to make sure what I do runs on it, then buying a refurb iPhone 3GS online (business deduction!), then realizing that if the iPhone 3GS I bought comes with 5.1, I can’t downgrade it to 5.0, which decides the question.

Also: When you press the button, should the screen flip down, or flip up?

All of which will boil down eventually to a Gut Call.

We are all only steps away from being the blubbering idiot on the corner.

@nojo: Up. You’re doing something. Therefore it should have a positive impact. Up. As in movies: good guys always enter screen right, progressing to left. Bad guys enter left, progressing right.

But wait, aren’t we expecting 6?

@nojo: Only if you’re defining “religion” as “christianity.”

@Benedick: We are expecting iOS 6 — in fact, if I wanted to, I could download the development version today and start playing with it.

But it doesn’t get released until later this summer. And then there’s a few months while everybody catches up to it. And while the 3GS will run iOS 6 (with some limitations), the original iPad won’t, and while I’m not designing an iPad version of this project, I’d still like it to run on an older model.

Besides, this is an R&D project to (yet again) learn iPhone programming, and all the best documentation exists for iOS 5. So I don’t mind being a version behind the curve while I’m getting the hang of it. There’s plenty for me to absorb as it stands.

@karen marie still has her eyes tight shut: Too limited. “Religion”, for me, also incorporates Greek mythology, because monotheism is a cultural evolution from what preceded it — “you shall have no other Gods before me” is a great line, because it suggests a crowded celestial room.

Plus, again, Western Civ: The Greek gods are our gods, not some strangers from a strange culture. Makes the insights easier to manage.

@Tommmcatt May Just Have Some MJ In His System As Well, So What?: Wittgenstein: “The world and life are one.”

Of course, that has a specific meaning — he’s just spent fifty-seven extremely dense pages getting there. But in the context of what he’s saying, I would call that Spirituality.

And I’m fully on board with it.

Nojo’s Codicil to Godwin’s Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a Wittgenstein reference approaches 1.

@nojo: I’m on board as long as I get to wear appropriate head gear.

@nojo: Quit it!

@nojo: I’ll trade you my 3G and 3GS for your 1st gen iPad. Thank you.

@JNOV: Sorry. If you’re programming, you need to be a Geek Hoarder — I need all my old iGadgets for testing.

@nojo: Yeah, but all non-Africans started out in the Asian subcontinent, so those Greeks and folks migrated with polytheism in tow, polytheism they learned and modified from civilizations that existed long before they [Okay, the fucking ROMANS. Same diff] planted their flags in their vestal virgins.

So, what’s the starting point for religion? The Ancient Greeks are too young. ;-)

@nojo: I’ll give it back. I promise!

@JNOV: If you want to go there, I’d date the Dawn of Religion with the Dawn of Consciousness — and the Dawn of Storytelling. As soon as we can talk, we’re talking Gods.

I can’t argue with the Greeks being a premature starting point, in that respect. It’s just that Homer lives in a recognizable world — recognizable to us, since our language derives from his, via the Romans. You can draw a 2,500-year line from the Ancients to Here. Beyond that, the path is a bit muddy.

So I start with the Greeks as a convenience, and admit as much. The Egyptians are, well, weird.

@JNOV: Or, if you want to wildly simplify it: All Roads Lead From Athens. You can go back futher — and eventually you have to — but what you learn has to be processed through the Greeks, and then to us.

Unless you want to process it through the Persians, or Indians, or Asians (or Mayans, or American Indians), which you’re entirely welcome to. But that’s another conversation: Those journeys don’t loop back to us for a long time.

Which reminds me of what I think is a Richard Pryor line, although I can’t find it, about criticisms of African-American English: “It’s not our language.”

@nojo: Egyptians were Greek. The Selucids. Before that it was like Alabama on Saturday night.

I thrill to Homer. In Illiad he invents the subconscious mind: with Olympus he personifies the heroes’ desires with gods who battle in their behalf. Troy becomes the proxy war. (sidebar: in Homer, Achilles was most definitely not Patroclus’s lover) In Odyssey, O’s homecoming is peculiar to say the least. Ya, so they had the peas and the extra soda but kill everyone in sight? It’s odd. Then there’s O’s dog who sees him and dies happy. And his bed built around a great tree around which the palace is built. I would argue there is nothing in the OT, as literature, as good, that can even come close. But my favorite mythology is the Norse panoply of gods. I find it so heartbreakingly human that they knew they were doomed, that Ragnarok was inevitable. If the Greek pantheon is drenched in light, the Norse gods know grief, loss, and the VISA bill.

Sanskrit cognates:

Pater (Greek and Latin)
Pitar (Sanskrit)

Mater (Latin)
Meter (Greek)
Matar (Sanskrit)

Asva (Lithuanian)
Aszwa (Sanskrit)

Linguists go to the Rigveda, which leads to the Aryans (“the socialized/civilized/refined persons”) who migrated from Afghanistan or maybe Turkmenistan, and, well…you know. The rest is history.

We could swing into oral tradition and its accuracy, but seriously, we’re going all Möbius strip.

@nojo: Haha! I’ve got some Geechee in me. My great aunt would speak it if you got her liquored up. Otherwise, she was BBB (blue blood black).

re: that ol’ time re-LIE-gion

I’m still waiting for someone in this nation of sadistic, aggresively ignorant, hate-crazed, glassy-eyed, right-wing, mouth-breathing, braying, neo-fascist submorons to explain in a coherent, non-tongue-talking manner, precisely how my long-term relationship poses an imminent nukyular threat to anyone else’s marriage.

Tick freakin’ tock.

@JNOV: Linguists go to the…

Or, Why Nojo Lurves His American Heritage Dictionary.

I used to spend hours tracing word roots in there, because Language is Metaphor, and today’s abstract concepts can be traced to yesterday’s physical descriptions. Understanding the sheer physicality of language is a great help in understanding the world we live in. We’re still manipulating Things. We just call them Concepts.

@JNOV: We could swing into oral tradition and its accuracy

Wrong move. The oral tradition is the beating heart of storytelling, of poetry itself. (Poetry is breathing.) To tell stories — to pass them from generation to generation, with no written means of communication — is to watch language evolve to suit the purpose. It’s not that stories are (or are not) “accurate” — it’s that they’re smooth as a pebble that’s traveled down a river.

That’s another thing Bradbury got right: The conclusion to Fahrenheit 451. If all books — all written language — disappears, what’s left? Talking.

@Benedick: In Illiad he invents the subconscious mind

Julian Jaynes (pause for ducking) would argue that the Illiad is a record of the subconscious mind evolving. It’s not an invention, but a consequence of Homeric tales being passed through the generations.

This is not, however, a Disprovable Hypothesis. You’re free to call it utter bullshit. Personally I like the approach, because it addresses the evolution of consciousness in a manner that complements physical evolution: It offers a reasonable explanation.

But don’t mention it to the Wrong Crowd. They’ll cut you.

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