Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Giving Christianity a Bad Name

As if God doesn’t already have enough on his plate, his so-called friends are busy burning up bandwidth with such twaddle as that reproduced below, which entered my inbox this morning. To make matters worse, it comes from a minister of my acquaintance…who, you would think, should know better. You would think so wrongly, as it happens.

I hereby spare you the torture of reading it in the original form, which necessitated endless scrolling and squinting against ill-advised color schemes. (Hint: Red type on a black background is to be avoided.) I haven’t corrected the punctuation and other oddities (“the ex-vocalist of the AC/DC”), either. Nor have I made the slightest attempt to verify whether “these facts” are indeed facts.



    Death is certain but the Bible speaks about untimely death!

    Make a personal reflection about this.....

    Very interesting, read until the end.....

    It is written in the Bible (Galatians 6:7):

    'Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sow, that shall he also reap.

    Here are some men and women who mocked God:

    John Lennon (Singer):

    Some years before, during his interview with an American Magazine, he said:
    'Christianity will end, it will disappear. I do not have to argue about that. I am certain. Jesus was ok, but his subjects were too simple, today we are more famous than Him' (1966).

    Lennon, after saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, was shot six times.

    Tancredo Neves (President of Brazil ):

    During the Presidential campaign, he said if he got 500,000 votes from his party, not even God would remove him from Presidency.

    Sure he got the votes, but he got sick a day before being made President, then he died.

    Cazuza (Bi-sexual Brazilian composer, singer and poet):

    During A show in Canecio ( Rio de Janeiro ), while smoking his cigarette, he puffed out some smoke into the air and said: 'God, that's for you.'

    He died at the age of 32 of LUNG CANCER in a horrible manner.

    The man who built the Titanic

    After the construction of Titanic, a reporter asked him how safe the Titanic would be.

    With an ironic tone he said:

    'Not even God can sink it'

    The result: I think you all know what happened to the Titanic

    Marilyn Monroe (Actress)

    She was visited by Billy Graham during a presentation of a show.

    He said the Spirit of God had sent him to preach to her.

    After hearing what the Preacher had to say, she said:

    'I don't need your Jesus'.

    A week later, she was found dead in her apartment

    Bon Scott (Singer)

    The ex-vocalist of the AC/DC. On one of his 1979 songs he sang:

    'Don't stop me; I'm going down all the way, down the highway to hell'.

    On the 19th of February 1980, Bon Scott was found dead, he had been choked by his own vomit.

    Campinas (IN 2005)
    In Campinas , Brazil a group of friends, drunk, went to pick up a friend.....

    The mother accompanied her to the car and was so worried about the drunkenness of her friends and she said to the daughter holding her hand, who was already seated in the car:

    'My Daughter, Go With God And May He Protect You.'

    She responded: 'Only If He (God) Travels In The Trunk, Cause Inside Here.....It's Already Full '

    Hours later, news came by that they had been involved in a fatal accident, everyone had died, the car could not be recognized what type of car it had been, but surprisingly, the trunk was intact.

    The police said there was no way the trunk could have remained intact. To their surprise, inside the trunk was a crate of eggs, none was broken

    Christine Hewitt (Jamaican Journalist and entertainer)
    said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book ever written.

    In June 2006 she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle.

    Many more important people have forgotten that there is no other name that was given so much authority as the name of Jesus.

    Many have died, but only Jesus died and rose again, and he is still alive.

    I have done my part, Jesus said

    'If you are embarrassed about me,

    I will also be embarrassed about you before my father.'

    Lord, I love you and I need you, come into my heart, and bless me, my family, my home, and my friends, in Jesus' name. Amen.'

Oh my.

As usual, one wonders where to begin. First off, the whole thing is pretty damn insulting to God, for it all boils down to “If God gets mad at you he’s gonna kill you.” Worse, in the case of “the man who built the Titanic,” God kills dozens of people and terrifies hundreds because he’s mad at one guy.

I don’t know what you think of God, but as is so often the case it appears that I have a higher opinion of him than some of those who make a big deal about how Godly they are.

(It’s really quite astonishing to think that this was being promulgated by an ordained minister of a “real” denomination, and not prefaced with anything along the lines of “Can you believe the hokum some people send around?” One wonders what sort of things are being taught in their seminaries.)

It’s also difficult to see why God would be so upset with John Lennon. I don’t think Lennon was mocking God. I think Lennon decried what he perceived as the Beatles’ insane popularity, and the public’s insistence on hanging on everything the Beatles said or did.

Also, it’s playing a little fast-and-loose with the facts to say, “Lennon, after saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, was shot six times.” Lennon's murder came nearly 15 years later. As my old debate coach was wont to say, “Your causal link is a little casual.” But
in my experience, “Christians” don’t mind jettisoning the truth in order to make their point. Assuming that God is really that thin-skinned, why would he wait so long to smite someone who “mocked” him?

I have no idea whether the Billy Graham-Marilyn Monroe anecdote is true, but let's say it is. How, exactly, is her statement "mocking" anything or anyone? She is made to say she doesn't need Jesus. Okay. You may believe she was wrong, but to be mistaken is not to be mocking. And, again, it seems to be a little insulting toward the Creator, for it pretty much casts him in the role of saying, "Well, okay, I sent this guy to preach to her one time and she wouldn't listen, so ba-zip! off with her head." Wow. I had the impression that Jesus instructed his disciples to have more perseverance than that, but apparently not.

And all of this begs one big, fat, bug-eyed question: What about people who don’t “mock” God (no matter how fast-and-loosely you define “mock”)? I mean, everybody dies, no? And some very good, very devout people die ghastly deaths. So what’s up with that? The anonymous author of this pretty un-Christian piece of drivel would have us believe that those who “mock” God will die a horrible death. I happen to think that God’s got a stronger ego than that, but for the sake of argument let’s go with it. You mock God, you get smote or smitten or whatever the past tense of smite is. But that would imply that those who don’t mock God don’t get smote—don’t get murdered, don’t get cancer, don’t die of drug overdoses—and, well, sorry, but that just ain’t true. And I’d be willing to bet that plenty of people who do “mock” God—again, whatever that may mean—live long healthy lives and die peacefully in their sleep at the ripe old age of 89.

In short, it doesn’t work that way. God—any god worthy of the proper-noun status—is bigger than that. He must be, or he wouldn’t be worth discussing. And I submit that any religion that holds--as this bit of balderdash certainly implies—that you have to be real careful not to tick God off lest he send a lightning bolt your way isn’t religion at all but mere superstition.

It’s what I call Great Pumpkin Theology. You remember that bit from “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” where Linus, in the pumpkin patch awaiting the Great Pumpkin’s arrival, promises Charlie Brown or Sally or somebody to put in a good word for them if the Great Pumpkin arrives. And then he panics, for he said if. “I mean when! …I'm doomed! One little mistake like that can cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by.”

Well, I am of the opinion that a good many “godly” people are in fact thinking of the Great Pumpkin.

And isn’t that a form of mockery?

Happy Second of July!

I posted this two years ago, and thought it fun enough to recycle. Happy Second of July!

On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote this to his wife, Abigail:

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore."

Well, he had the "pomp and parade" bit right, even if he was off by two days. As you may remember from History class, July 2, 1776, is the date that the Second Continental Congress passed Lee's Resolution, declaring the colonies to be independent of Britain. So you might say that today, not this Tuesday, is the 230th anniversary of US independence. Or you might, as I do, say that this is something worth celebrating twice.

Let us hope, on this commemoration of freedom, that the United States might continue to be truly the land of liberty, dedicated to the ideals of its own Constitution, ever resistant to the tyranny of those who would impose their opinions and beliefs on others, a genuine defender of all freedoms, an exemplar for the rest of the world. And let us hope that everyone enjoys a safe and happy Independence Day...or two!

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Vision Thing

A little while ago I sent this off to almost everybody in my address book (excluding a few that I knew I had entertained with the story already, and a few whom I knew wouldn't give a rip). It seems worth putting here, too:

The Vision Thing
Some of you have heard this story--sorry about that; nobody likes summer reruns. However, it seems important to send to just about everybody, even if that means some repeats. (I'm sending this to about everybody in my address book, which is something I seldom do.)

About a month ago I noticed something "different" in the vision field of my left eye. I have always had many "floaters," more pronounced in the left eye, and scarcely even noticed them after 51 years. But now there was something different among the familiar old patterns, a couple of little blips that moved, jumpily, as my eye moved...unlike the floaters, which tend to go their own little ways. I determined to keep an eye on it. No pun intended.

That was on a Saturday. On Monday, at the movies with my son, I noted a flash of light in my left eye when I glanced toward him at one point. So of course I spent some time looking left-right-left to see if I could duplicate the feat. I did, a couple of times, though not every time.

That evening the pattern of floaters was different from the old familiar picture, and they seemed thicker.

Off to UrgentCare. The doctor there couldn't see anything amiss, and recommended that I hie on in to an emergency room if things persisted or worsened.

No change the next day, Tuesday, but I brought it to the attention of my family doctor at a previously made appointment. He sent me to an ophthalmologist.

On Wednesday at the ophthalmologist, I was informed that I had a tear in the retina and the vitreous had "collapsed," which sounded pretty awful but which seemed to bother the MDs less than the tear. The doctor I visited sent me down the hall to a retina specialist who confirmed the diagnosis and wheeled in the laser gear for, as he put it, some "spot-welding."

Well, all's well that ends well, as they say. A week later I re-visited the clinic, and the doctor was very pleased with how things were looking. No pun intended. I'll go back in a couple of weeks for another follow-up. From my side of the eyeball, the vision in that eye is back to normal, though the floaters aren't. I imagine I now have a new pattern of them that I'll have to spend the next 50 years getting used to.

The moral of the story is this: If you EVER notice anything suddenly different about your vision, get it checked immediately. A torn retina is a big deal, but a less-big deal than a detached retina, which would have been the next thing had I ignored my symptoms. (The torn retina was treated in the exam room with a portable laser unit. Uncomfortable, but not horribly painful. A detached retina would have required big-time surgery. After the "spot-welding" I drove myself home, and there were no restrictions on my activities. Such would not be so with a detached retina.)

As with so many other things in the medical realm, speed is everything. If you ever experience sudden visual changes or disturbances, don't wait for it to "go away." It probably will, but it will be replaced by something worse.

Consider yourself warned!

Are These Guys Even TRYING??

As faithful readers know, I am intrigued by various bits and pieces of spam that come across my radar scope. Much of it is snagged by various filters, which is fine, but every so often one or two slip through. Some of them in the past have showed great ingenuity, and you can certainly see how they must attract marks. But some of them are so half-baked that you wonder how serious the spammer even is. For instance, here's this that arrived this morning:

Dear Customer,

MetaBank temporarily suspended your account.

Reason: Billing failure.
We need you to complete an account update so we can unlock your account.

To start the update process follow the link below :


Once you have completed the process, we will send you an email notifying
that your account is available again. After that you can access your account at any time.

The information provided will be treated in confidence and stored in our secure database.
If you fail to provide required information your account will be automatically
deleted from
MetaBank database.

Copyright @ 2005 MetaBank. MetaBank is an Equal Housing Lender. Member FDIC.

* If you received this message in your SPAM/BULK folder, that is because of the restrictions implemented by your ISP

* For security reasons, we will record your ip address, the date and time.
* Deliberate wrong inputs are criminally pursued and indicted.

Now, we do have MetaBanks in my community, so that's a plus. (You'd be amazed how many times my accounts have been suspended at banks that don't even operate in my locale!) I don't have any accounts there, but that's not the spammer's fault. The rest of it, though, is pretty ho-hum. Sure, there's the MetaBank logo, but come on...anyone can grab a logo off the interweb. The body of the message conveys no sense of urgency, while the best spam of this ilk makes me think I had better get on this johnny-on-the-spot or Dire Consequences will follow! This particular message, though, does nothing of the sort. It comes off as plain old housekeeping. Sort of like all the "important changes to your account" stuff we're forever getting from banks and credit-card companies. ZZZzzz.

Then there's the URL. It so happens that "https://www.ebankmeta.com/onlineserv/HB/Signon.cgi" does indeed take you to the real MetaBank, which is actually a little odd. If I'm one of those people who doesn't trust hotlinks and I copy-and-paste the address (as I did above), then I end up at the real MetaBank and thus out of the spammer's clutches. Which I'm pretty sure is a bad thing, from the spammer's point of view. I'd probably click around on the MetaBank website for awhile trying to find the place where I update my account, and when that failed I'd probably send e-mail via the bank's "contact us" link, at which point I'd learn I'd been duped.

All in all, it seems the spammer has not thought this through.

Those of us of a cynical nature, of course, like to mouse over the links in such messages and see where they really point to. And doing so makes me think this particular spammer needs to be looking for a new line of work, for his heart is clearly not in his current profession. The real link is to http://mail.rottenmann.at/kk.html. Rottenmann? I ask you! He might just as well have used http://www.ripyouoff.com. Crimeny!

And as it happens, following the link in Firefox 3 produces a Reported Web Forgery! page, which is fairly cool.

I'm in general not a big fan of internet entities "protecting" us without our asking them to do so (see "No Worries! AOL Is Watching Out for You!"), but Firefox at least provides an "ignore" option, unlike virtually every other "protector" I've encountered.

So I don't know. Maybe it's me, but it just seems like the glory days of spamming--the days of the truly imaginative spoof, the really admirable phish, the electronic confidence game crafted by people who took pride in their work and really put the "art" in "con artist"--have passed. Now it's all just one step, maybe two removed from virtual pan-handling. I fully expect to open one of these things one day and have it simply say, "Give me money."

Truly, the artists have all passed on.

News from the Outside

A few minutes ago I "dugg" an article from the New York Times at Digg.com, and noted for not the first time the "blog it" link. Never having tried it before, I decided to go for broke. Clicked it. A few seconds later got back a notice telling me that my blog had reported it had been successfully posted. Rather anti-climactic. The results are viewable to you in the post that immediately precedes this one, "How to Put Civil Liberties in the White House" by Geoffrey R. Stone.

When I dugg the article, I added this comment:

    Now THIS is an idea I can get behind. As the author indicates, having an advocate for civil liberties in the White House has historically been sheer happenstance. The way things have been these past eight years, it's high time to make sure somebody is charged with making sure this sweet land of liberty remains that way!

I always find it strange that so many right-wingnut types are simultaneously super-patriots and anti-liberty. Where I sit, you can't be both. If you're opposed to liberty--civil or otherwise--you're opposed to America, period. This is the "land of liberty," after all; the image of Liberty on our currency is as old as "in God we trust," which motto the right-wingnuts manage to twist into "proof," to their minds, that the US is a "Christian nation." Likewise the phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," which the Declaration of Independence tells us are inalienable rights granted us by our Creator. Representations of Liberty grace who knows how many state capitol buildings. And we haven't even mentioned the Statue of Liberty.

So the question remains in my mind: How can you call yourself a patriot--how can you call yourself a Christian--and yet believe that curbs on liberty are a good thing? Ever?

How to Put Civil Liberties in the White House

The next president should create a new executive branch position: a civil liberties adviser.

read more | digg story