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Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 03:49 AM PST

Imagine Dragons (and Jesus)...

by BrettSaidit

Reposted from BrettSaidit by Farlfoto

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” -G.K. Chesterton.

 

What do you believe? What do you know to be true? These are two very different questions if you ask me. For a long time I was under the impression they were asking the same things. It has been only recently that the difference became clear, now blindly vivid in my mind. To understand the nature of belief is critical. Far too many have it tangled up with truth, I fear. 

Many people believe in God, obviously. But what does that mean? Does this mean they know there's a God? Of course they may not claim to possess empirical evidence, yet many feel in their heart of hearts that God is real. God exists. They know it to be true. More importantly, they live as if the existence of the divine is understood. They speak in terms of certainty. When discussing God, they make no disclaimers like "Well, if we could know God exists," or any other agnostic tendency. They speak of him like an old friend or a close relative. The matter of existence has been settled. Instead, they skip right to debating who God voted for in the previous election. 

Others do no believe in God, or at least popular notions of God. They equate believing in God to believing in unicorns, leprechauns, or dragons. Why believe in something without evidence? To claim God exists would somehow make all these other absurdities viable beliefs, right? To the atheist, imagining a dragon is no different than imagining God.

I have recently battled with the concept of "belief" quite viciously. I am not an atheist (although some fundamentalists may argue that point), but I cannot say with great certainty what I believe. At least, that's what I thought. I have equated belief with knowing for the majority of my life. If you asked me "Does God exist" a few years ago I would say "Yes." A few years earlier than that I would have said "Yes, of course!" If you ask me today I'd say "How in the heck would I know that? That's freaking impossible to know!" Why did I say "Yes" before and not now? For the same reason many still do today.

We equate belief with truth.

If someone says "I don't believe in God" then, for them, God literally doesn't exist as far as they're concerned (and vice versa). But this is silly. We know it's silly, yet this is how we've been taught to filter reality. Somehow, we have this crazy idea that whatever we believe is how the universe actually works. 

(Spoiler alert: What we believe isn't the same as what is real. Also, Dumbledore dies).

Now, that is not to say that everything we believe isn't true, it just means our beliefs have no bearing on what is actually true. True is true. Believe it or not. 

Personally, it has been tough adjusting to this new revelation. I am coming to terms with the fact that I can believe something but know I might be completely wrong. But maybe it only feels so strange because we have missed the point of belief itself. What if "belief" means (or should mean) something radically different than what we've been told?

I have a certain agnosticism about my faith these days. I don't want to say I believe in anything for sure, yet this is not being honest. For example, if someone asked me "Was Jesus fully human and fully divine?" I'll go into some long discussion about "Well, what do you mean by divine?" or "I think it's a mystery" or some other reflective motif that is more or less a fancy way of saying I don't know, but here are some cool thoughts I have about Jesus. But if someone asks me, "Do you believe the earth was created in six literal days?" I have a clear answer. "No, I do not believe that." If someone asks me "Is there life after death?" then I'll discuss my differing views of the Kingdom of God, social justice, consciousness, the universe, life, love, etc. More examples of me saying "I don't know." But if you ask me "Does God send Muslims to hell?" I would respond with "No, I do not believe that." 

When I am honest with myself, I admit that I am not agnostic about many things. I know, with everything in my being, that certain things are not true (as far as I am concerned). 

So why do I do this? Do I just believe what I want to believe? No. 

When I say I believe something, it is me stating that I believe it could be true, not that it is actually true. If you ask me if God is real, I can say "I believe in God, but I don't know he exists." I can imagine God. I can look around and imagine that he is in everything. Therefore, I can believe. This, however, in no way means God exists merely because I want him to. 

On the other hand, I refuse to believe certain things could even possibly be true, therefore I do not believe in them. Could a loving God send me to hell? No. That could not possibly be true, given the definition of love itself (again, as far as I am concerned). Therefore the answer is no. Now, maybe God is a comic jerk who will end up sending me there anyway. My disbelief in hell has no bearing on him doing so. 

If we can learn to let go of the burden of defining what is true, we may finally discover truth has been with us all along. The real significance of belief is, what do we allow to become real? What kind of life do we choose to live? What do we believe is possible? What battles are we willing to wage?

What dragons are we willing to slay? 

 

weoccupyjesus.org

Discuss
Reposted from The Dave by Farlfoto

Tonight, I am going to write one of the bravest things I have ever written, in the cowardly form of writing them for a bunch of strangers on the internet.  Tonight, I will finally admit to myself a truth that I have long thought, and felt, but could never bring myself to acknowledge.  And then I will go back out to my life, and continue to hide who I am, putting a brave face on my coward's heart.

I do not believe in a God.  

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Reposted from Daily Kos by Farlfoto

Via Joe.My.God:

If "Sharia law" did come to America, what would it look like? I'm talking about religious law that supersedes American law and the Constitution, such that all Americans would be subjected to it regardless of their own personal religious beliefs. A religious law that would, in fact, be methodically embedded into American law by its practitioners, as they rose to higher and higher positions of power, and which would require the rewriting of existing American law in order to properly and fully comport with the interpretations of the religious leaders involved. No matter what your personal beliefs, this law would supersede them. No matter what the Constitution said about religious freedom, those words would be twisted to mean that the chosen religion is free to be instilled into all aspects of government. Your own religious freedom is constrained by the Official religious beliefs of the state. By law. If you go against those Official interpretations of religion, you will be fined, or jailed, or worse.

In the clip above, Rick Santorum talks about the United States as:

"... a country that is given rights under the god, under god, not any god, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, and that God that gave us rights also gave us a responsibility, and laws, by which our civil laws have to comport with. A higher law. God's law."

As you listen to Rick Santorum speak (and I am always sorry for subjecting anyone to that), note that when he talks about the laws of God being higher than those of the nation, he is talking about one very, very specific sub-interpretation of what "God's law" should be, one that is held by a distinct subset of the American population. It goes without saying that Muslims are not included in his religious vision, nor Hindus, nor atheists. The Jewish faith is included to a limited, but hardly encompassing extent. It does not encompass all of Christianity, as there are a great many Christians whose interpretation of God's law is a great deal different from the one that Rick Santorum holds. You cannot claim it encompasses all evangelicals, or all Protestants, or all Baptists: subsets, yes, but entire groups, no.

No, when Rick Santorum is speaking about "God's law" and how it supersedes the laws of the country, he is referring to "God's law" as he himself defines it. That is what Santorum wishes to enshrine into American governance. He quite literally presumes to be speaking for God, when he goes on about how this or that law needs to be changed to comport with God's law, but where other religious figures might simply say that those that believe different interpretations of God's law are going to hell, Santorum and others demand that those that belief different interpretations of God's law be identified as criminals.

Do you believe life "begins at conception?" Rick Santorum does, and so, he asserts, American law must comport entirely to his interpretation, not yours. Do you believe homosexuality is a sin? Rick Santorum does, and so he demands the laws of the nation be written to properly punish those that believe otherwise.

Sharia has become, for no apparent reason other than an addition to fear and conspiracy, a primal, all-encompassing fear for a great number of conservatives. It is just around the corner; we are all one mosque away from setting America down that path. A reasonable translation of the term would be God's law.

It should go without saying, however, that theocratic law would sit quite well with most of the people so terrified of it; they object to the religion chosen, not the idea. There are entire conservative organizations proudly dedicated towards the premise of installing religious law into governance, and a great many conservative politicians who, like Rick Santorum, state flatly that their religious viewpoint does take precedence over American law. Time and time again we hear how we must discriminate properly against this or that group because that is God's plan; time and time again we are told how this or that law must be changed because it goes against God's will.

If a strictly religiously-premised state is a threat to freedom and democracy in other countries, it would seem rather apparent it should be treated with similar distaste in our own nation. This requires a level of introspection that zealots typically do not have, however, no matter what their religion or obsession, and so we are able to watch, on YouTube, as American presidential candidates proudly demand the institution of religious law, with murmurs of approval drifting through the unseen audience. These same people would tremble in terror at the thought of a religious law other than their own governing the country, but it is only because they demand their own.

This is what we mean when we suggest terms like American Taliban. It is a rather simple premise. It comes with a cross, and a flag.

Discuss
Reposted from Milk Men And Women by Farlfoto

Daniel Avila speaks at SPLC-​certified hate group Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit
a few weeks ago, at a symposium titled, “Straight Talk on Gay Marriage”
via New Civil Right Movement. He speaks at the 3:00 mark.

We here at the Milk Men have been tracking a story about the United State's Catholic Bishops Conference lobbyist Daniel Avila, that made some ill-advised theological ramblings in an Archdiocese newpaper. He essentially said LGBTQ people were not the way they are because God created them as such, but rather, because the Devil tinkered around in their mother's womb during pregnancy.

It didn't go over well.

Not only in the gay community but also within the Catholic community. The Paulist Center of Boston sent the publication The Pilot a rather stinging rebuke and circulated the same to the Catholic members of their own community. A retraction and apology soon followed.

Now, we're hearing a resignation has been proffered.

Photobucket

From the Washington Post:

Marriage adviser resigns over Satan-homosexuality column

A policy adviser to the U.S. Catholic bishops’ anti-gay-marriage initiative resigned on Friday (Nov. 4), a week after writing a column that blamed Satan for homosexuality.

Daniel Avila had been an on-staff adviser to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage since June.

Unofficially, Avila referred to himself as the “bishops’ marriage guy” and represented the USCCB’s stance on marriage in Washington.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the USCCB, said Avila “willingly offered his resignation, and it was accepted.”

Avila could not be immediately reached for comment.

What the Devil got into Esquire Avila?
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Reposted from Chrislove by Farlfoto

As you may remember, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the FAIR Education Act into law in July, which mandates the inclusion of LGBT history in social science curricula and also protects LGBT students from discrimination in school activities.  We can’t underestimate the importance of this legislation in making “It Gets Better” a reality for our LGBT youth.  Unfortunately, the new law is under vicious assault by right-wing Christian groups in California, which are seeking to put the law on the ballot for voters to decide (after they’re inundated with anti-gay propaganda focusing on “recruitment” and “indoctrination” of children, of course).  Roland Palencia, the Executive Director of Equality California, is predicting a Prop 8-style defeat of the law if it actually makes it to the ballot, considering the vast amount of misinformation being hurled by hate groups at California voters.  This fight doesn’t seem to be getting much attention, but its significance can’t be emphasized enough.  This bill is a big freaking deal, and its defeat will be an even bigger freaking deal when considered in the larger context of anti-gay bullying and LGBT teen suicide (to say nothing of the implications of consciously denying the gay, lesbian, and transgender movements’ significance in the broader American historical narrative).

The FAIR Education Act is a concrete step forward not only for social science instruction, but also for LGBT youth who are bullied and told that they’re not normal every single day.  So, of course, the California Christian Coalition, a chapter of the organization founded by Pat Robertson, is opposed to it.  Not only are they opposed to it, but they think the non-discrimination language included in the law constitutes promotion of STDs.  Seriously.

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Reposted from cberlet by Farlfoto

Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin have all flirted with Christian Right Dominionism, but there's lots of misinformation about just what that means.

Dominionists want to impose a form of Christian nationalism on the United States, a concept that was dismissed as eroding freedom and democracy by the founders of our country. Dominionism has become a major influence on the right-wing populist Tea Parties as Christian Right activists have flooded into the movement at the grassroots.

At the same time, legitimate questions have been raised about whether or not potential Republican presidential nominees Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, or Sarah Palin have moved from a generic form of Christian Right Dominionism toward the more totalitarian form know as Dominion Theology.

Clueless journalists and crafty Christian Right pundits have mocked the idea that Dominionism as a religiously motivated political tendency even exists. Scholars, however, have been writing about Dominionism for over a decade, some using the term directly, and others describing the tendency in other ways.

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Reposted from Milk Men And Women by Farlfoto

Photobucket

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - Texas Governor Rick Perry's announcement Saturday that he would be seeking the presidency, spurred political insiders to wonder if the Heavenly Father had tipped His hand. The Governor had been on record that he would be consulting God on the decision.

Heavenly Kingdom Press Secretary Simon Peter dashed speculation by releasing this statement quickly on the heels of the Governor's announcment:

"Despite rumors to the contrary and multiple candidates claiming otherwise, Our Heavenly Father has yet to endorse a specific candidate in the upcoming election. There are many fine candidates in the running and His Omnipotency looks forward to hearing what they all have to say before making any formal announcements of support."

The decision by Our Heavenly Father to make an explicit announcement to the press corps is unprecedented and has politicos wondering if even this older-than-time political kingmaker is maturing in His approach to American electoral politics.
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Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:03 AM PDT

Fears of a Radical Atheist

by Jon Stafford

Reposted from Jon Stafford by Farlfoto

For a guy who has repeatedly expressed "zero interest" in running for president, Rick Perry sure looks interested in running for president, doesn't he?  Word is he'll make it official this weekend.  I guess God finally talked him into it.

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Reposted from Chrislove by Farlfoto

The backlash from New York’s historic decision to enact marriage equality has been fierce, to put it mildly.  From Maggie Gallagher’s pledge to spend $2 million to reverse marriage equality to World Net Daily’s call for the arrest of Governor Cuomo and those who voted to (“illegally”) legalize marriage equality, the wingnuts have lost it.  Some of it (in a way) can be a little amusing to watch – there's something satisfying about seeing the anti-gay right all but implode after an historic defeat.  Unfortunately, though, it’s not just rhetoric.  Rhetoric has a way of turning violent as it seeps down from the wingnut overlords, and violent rhetoric has a way of inspiring actual hate crimes.

Since the New York Senate’s vote on Friday night, we’ve seen and heard some disturbing rhetoric.  Chief among them is this comment on a Christian Post article about the marriage vote in New York from a man named Bryan Wilcutt:

Time to lock and load, Christians. God has mandated we clean up this mess.
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Reposted from Milk Men And Women by Farlfoto

Richard E. Barnes, Executive Director of the New York State Catholic Conference has posted a Note On Intolerance on Facebook. He laments the awful treatment that poor Senator Diaz has received from the gay community.

But that was small potatoes compared to the hate speech Rev. Diaz is getting. Death threats, real ones. The vilest filth directed at him that you can imagine. It is now reported, in a popular political blog that all policy-makers read in Albany, that the “F** Ruben Diaz Festival” will be held soon in Brooklyn, where winners of the “F** Ruben Diaz: Gay Erotica Featuring NYC’s Number One Bigot” writing contest will entertain themselves reading their dirty stories to each other, mocking this minister of the Gospel. And this is all known to the press and in the halls of the Capitol. So where is the outrage in the media? Where is the cry for tolerance and justice for Rev. Diaz against these hate purveyors? The answer, sadly, is that there is no outcry. Are they saving it for after something truly awful happens to this good man? Until the hate that is being incited boils over into violent behavior?

Yes, the gay community is mocking "this minister of the Gospel." But not nearly as effectively as he mocks himself, masquerading as a man of God while holding hate rallies.

I'd like to turn Mr. Barnes' question back on himself and ask, where is your own outrage and cry for tolerance when Rev. Diaz invited special guest Rev. Ariel Torres Ortega of Radio Visión Cristiana to speak at his rally in the Bronx last month? As Diaz looked on, Ortega riled against "committing sexual acts between man and man. And receiving the retribution of the things that they have done from straying away." And then he delivered this gem at 1:35 mark:

“Those who practice such things
are worthy to death.”


Video from ThinkProgress.

Curiously missing from Mr. Barnes "cry for tolerance" is any mention of Rev. Diaz's part in fomenting hatred and violence toward LGBT people. Diaz himself gave an TV interview just days ago where he displayed just how insane he is with hatred for gays, and compared being gay with being a drug addict.

Nevermind that the Southern Poverty Law Center has looked at the statistics and concluded:

The bottom line: Homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crime.
Apparently gays getting brutally assaulted on the streets of Diaz's own borough isn't anything that keeps Mr Barnes awake.

Poor Mr. Barnes laments:

We are unjustly called “haters” and “bigots” by those who have carefully framed their advocacy strategy.

I'm sorry, if you're holding rallies where your invited speakers are calling for the death of other groups of people, you are a hater. If you're rushing to the defense of such people, you're not much better.
Discuss
Reposted from Romo2Austin by Farlfoto

Damon Fowler, an atheist student at a high school in Northern Louisiana, had the courage to promote the Constitution (the establishment clause specifically) in a backwards bible thumping region of the country.  Unfortunately, the Constitution and the Bible are often times like water and oil as he soon found out...

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Reposted from Chrislove by Farlfoto

And Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not…unless teh gayz try to adopt, in which case thou shalt displace the children and fire thine adoption and foster care workers.”  Or something like that.

Today (actually, not today – I was a little late reading this) in loving Christianity, Catholic Charities in Rockford, Illinois, has announced it is terminating its adoption and foster care services.  Why?  Because of the new civil unions law set to take effect within days, which may result in cohabitating straight couples, and even gay couples, wanting to adopt children.  Horror of horrors – not.  Regardless, Catholic Charities is not pleased about the idea of couples in civil unions being able to demand service from the organization.  So it’s taking its marbles and going home, displacing approximately 350 children, not to mention 58 employees.

Lovely.

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