Monday, October 27, 2008


Recently some genius in a lumbering sport-futility vehicle backed over the hood of my car. While I was in it, minding my own business, waiting for the behemoth in front of me to move forward – not, um, backward. I assumed I was just waiting for the light to change -- I say 'assumed' because I couldn't SEE the light; all I could see was this massive waste of sheet metal in front of me.

Obviously the guy didn't see me back there either. From his absurdly elevated perch high above the clouds, he no doubt had a lovely panoramic view of much of the city, but alas, he was unable to see the small economy car waiting patiently behind him. Despite sideview mirrors rivaling the Hubble Telescope, his monstrous machine simply didn't allow him to observe his environment in a way that was not dangerous to the rest of us on the street. Or maybe he just didn't look.

I just sat there, incredulously, honking my horn but unable to get his attention, and wondering if he was going to just back right over the top of me like it was some Oklahoma City Monster Truck Rally. In the back of my mind I could hear SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! BE THERE! WATCH THE PUNY LITTLE MAZDA DRIVER GET SMASHED BY THE FURY OF BIIIIGFOOT! Did I mention that I live in San Francisco, work from home and mostly take public transit — in other words, I drive my car once in a blue moon, and this guy randomly decides this is his moment to back over the top of someone. Wunderbar. I couldn't figure out just WHY the oblivious fool was suddenly BACKING UP in the middle of traffic. It made no sense to me at all, but then again, at that moment I was mostly just wondering if I was about to die.

Luckily, at some point he figured out that something didn't seem right, and he stopped. Halfway over my hood. I looked up and saw, inches from my windshield, something beautifully and perfectly ironic, almost like it was a sign from some supernatural prankster. Right there on the back of the SUV was one of those plastic silver Christian fish symbol thingies, and right next to it was the shiny chrome emblem of the vehicle – and I could swear it said, in big bold macho letters, D E N I A L.

As the panic receded and my eyes began to refocus, it was clear that what it really said was 'DENALI', a General Motors monstrosity named after a National Park in Alaska. They like to name those things after places in nature that they will never actually see, since mostly they're used as urban assault vehicles – which could be considered rather ironic all by itself. Perhaps I was in shock, but the juxtaposition of the fish and the too-easily transposed name of the massive metal beast put me in a state of transcendent jocularity. I momentarily pictured myself on YouTube, the camera view mirroring mine as the two Symbols Of Utter Denial presented themselves defiantly before my awestruck eyeballs.

By now I was really just grateful that the guy had actually stopped short of crushing my head, so I got out calmly and asked him if he would mind giving me his insurance information. Actually, he was more shaken up than I was, and when I then asked why on Earth he was going in reverse instead of forward like everyone else, all he could stammer out was "I-I-I'm sorry; I-I-I d-d-didn't see you."

I took down his info, convinced I was dreaming the whole bizarre event, and he was fully cooperative (and rather distraught at the wreckage he'd made of my little car), so I really couldn't get all that mad. The poor guy had likely just watched too many commercials and saw himself scaling windswept mountains in his indestructible all-terrain Galactic Cruiser, only to end up with way more vehicle than he was capable of handling for his daily commute to some shitty cubicle. Denial, I chuckled to myself, wondering if my car would be considered fixable or totaled.

And then he said it.

He really shouldn't oughtta have said it, especially not to ME of all people (but of course he couldn't have known that), but he said it nevertheless. The one thing I just can't bear to hear, ever.

He said, "Praise the Lord that nobody was hurt." Yeah, that's what he said. No doubt he thought it was a nice thing to say. Anybody else might have agreed with him, or at least just let it go. But, you see, my mind went right back to that stupid chrome fish, right next to the word DENIAL, and I just couldn't let him get away with it.

"Praise the Lord?" I said, "PRAISE THE FUCKING LORD?"

I had so much to say, so many things to yell in his face, but none of them were coming into my mind. The absurdity of it all was clouding my frontal lobes and all I could do was shout, over and over, right in his face, "PRAISE THE LORD, OLD MAN? PRAISE THE GODDAMNED LORD?"

Nervously he climbed back into his truck and clumsily drove it down off my smashed hood, and all the while I was standing there, throwing random stuff at him (pieces of my headlights, some kid's discarded sippy cup, a pocketful of small change), screaming louder and louder, "PRAISE THE LORD? PRAISE THE LORD, YOU STUPID IGNORANT FUCK?" I'm pretty sure I scared the shit outta the guy. I think he thought I was nuts. Maybe he was right.

All I can say is, at that moment I came face-to-face with everything that is wrong with this wacked culture we live in. The guy was probably sixty years old, driving a ridiculous environmental disaster of a vehicle (and driving it inexplicably backwards). He came this close to turning me into the meat in a steel sandwich, and instead of having an epiphany that maybe he's doing it all wrong; maybe while driving his DENALI he's actually living in DENIAL — instead of anything sensible like that, he chalks it all up to Divine Intervention and goes on his clueless merry way.

OK; sure — I had his license number, his contact info, his insurance policy number. I probably should have called the cops but they likely wouldn't have shown up anyway, and in all likelihood I could count on Mister Christian to just accept the blame that was undeniably his, and the insurance companies would hash it out and fix my car.

But I just couldn't get past the surreal absurdity of it all.

Deep denial is a powerful force. It operates in the realm of Religion, obviously, and it also has its hand in the multilayered nachos of greed, waste, and entitlement. All of which seem to have become American values, replacing the more sustainable ones I remember being taught as a kid (thrift, trustworthiness, pragmatism, etc).

Denial plays its role in Nationalism/Patriotism just as fiercely. Hence the whole Bush=America nonsense, in which criticizing an administration means you hate America. Any moron can see that criticizing a particular administration is in essence saying “hey man, you are not acting like American government was set up to act” and is therefore a powerful display of patriotism (these days often risking oneself to do so), while blind subservience to whatever agenda the powermongers set is the opposite of patriotism.

Of course, in the secular realm at least we have a Constitution to fall back on, one that was written by men we are familiar with, whose other writings are available, all in relatively plain English that is only occasionally ambiguous due to the unforeseen changes taken place since it was penned. No one claims it was handed down by some mysterious supernatural force, and it is a living document, open to being changed as necessary. Surely there are, as there is with anything else, differences over differing interpretations of those gray areas, but at heart it is a document we can stand behind with reason rather than blind faith. (lately this doesn’t seem to matter much, as the status quo renders the Constitution ‘just a piece of paper’, but my hope is that it will still serve as a grounding to return to when the usurpers are defeated — or else we will have simply proven to have been a failed — and rather short-lived, by historical standards — experiment).

The religious crowd, however, relies on a cobbled-together and endlessly edited (in secret by Church scribes with agendas) collection of medieval and prehistoric tales that have mysterious origins and often contradict each other, with no way to verify any of it other than to refer back to the circular reasoning that somehow it’s from ‘God’ because it says it is. On top of that, each of a zillion sects has its own set of interpretations, many in complete opposition to the others.

So...praise the Lord that the ol' Clueless Christian elderly tank driver didn't kill me while he was busy being self-absorbed and self-centered. Thank God that He was watching over me when one of His many moronic followers went about his usual business of acting like he's the only person on the planet. Hallelujah that I got to be a metaphor for the senseless destruction wrought by those who needn't take any responsibility for the stupid things they do, because God is on their side and whatever they do must surely be His will. The Lord works in mysterious ways, doggone it. You betcha.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Last Daze

The bizarre paradox of fundamentalist Christians eagerly awaiting their ’salvation’ via ‘Rapture’ and yet fiercely resisting perceived 'signs' of impending ‘One World Government’ and crap like that, is endlessly both horrifying and deeply fascinating.

I recently received some email drivel passed around amongst the fundies (I still know a few, and they send me stuff in the hopes of ’saving’ me), and in one particular round of religiospam, I found the following:

1) An email claiming that Barack Obama — besides being a ‘Muslim’ and a ‘Marxist’ and whatever other bullshit GOP smears that the sheeple blindly buy — is the notorious ‘Antichrist’ as supposedly prophesied in the Bible.

2) Another email, this one about Sarah Palin being the person who will lead the way toward confronting our ‘Ultimate Foes’ (it used to be Communists; now it’s Muslims) at the final battle which will bring about the Second Coming of Jesus. Obviously, this is supposed to be a GOOD thing.

Now, granted, these emails were probably not originated by the same person or group. But given the general fundamentalist obsession with ‘prophecy’ and all that, I think the two emails are related, and revealing.

So we can talk all day about the ’scriptures’ and ‘prophecies’ and all that absurd bullshit all day, but what I’d rather focus on here is the odd little conundrum that fundies evidently find themselves in with their ‘End Times’ obsessions.

Because technically, if the Bible actually says that an ‘Antichrist’ will rule the world, and THAT will bring about Armageddon and the Second Coming, blah blah blah — and if, absurdly, Barack Obama IS that guy, then by their own beliefs, isn’t it inevitable (and, actually, a benefit to them) that he wins the election? What are they afraid of, if he’s fulfilling the prophecies? Jesus will defeat him (and the rest of us infidels) in the end, and everybody will get golden halos and sacramental-blood-flavored lollipops, right? So, really, they SHOULD vote for him, in order to start the festivities, right?

OK, so on to Sarah Palin. As stated, the email about HER was basically saying the same thing as the one about Obama — that this person will bring about the series of events that will lead to The End Of The World, and of course we all know that to fundies, the End Of The World is a GOOD thing. I think that’s why they’re called ‘fundies’, as in FUN+DIE.

Paradoxically, however, Palin isn’t called ‘the Antichrist’; rather she’s cast as the ‘good guy’ for bringing about Armageddon. Well, folks, which is it? Is The End good or bad? Seems to me that if you believe in an ‘Antichrist’ and you believe that he (or she) will rule the world before being defeated by Jesus (I’m not making this shit up — it comes straight from the junk that Palin’s church and a zillion others preach, based on a REALLY loose and convoluted interpretation of several disjointed passages from several books of the Bible, especially Revelation), then, um, well, you can’t pick and choose your Antichrists and your prophecies. You can’t warn me NOT to vote for Obama because the prophecies say he will be the bad guy, unless you believe you can override the aforementioned prophecies (and unless you WANT to override them, which, according to the Palin email, you don’t).

Now, I personally don’t believe in any of this Antichrist claptrap — I was raised in the tradition, but then I grew up and took a much closer look and realized that all these people had fed me a bowl of horseshit — but it seems to me that IF you believe in said prophecies, then really what you should be doing is kicking back and letting them happen. It’s not like you have a choice, if it’s God’s Plan From The Beginning. Right?

So — if the Palin email is CELEBRATING her potentially ‘fulfilling’ the prophesied events, and the Obama email is essentially WARNING that he will fulfill the prophesied events, what does this say about the generally confused mental state of believers at large?

I think what it says is that the fundies are both eagerly anticipating the End Of The World and afraid of it at the same time.

And in case that sounds like I just don’t know what I’m talking about, I will repeat that I was raised — steeped, if you will — in the world of fundamentalist apocalyptic Christianity. Basically a good number of these folks are generally convinced that the ‘apocalypse’ — or whatever you want to call it — surely represents the violent end of THIS world, but it also represents their salvation. You can’t have one without the other, right? I mean, what if they go ahead and start ‘Armageddon’ which results in horrible suffering everywhere, including here in Disneycountry, with martial law and starvation and disease in the streets, culminating perhaps in nuclear winter or something equally terrible — but Jesus never shows up?

If you gave a typical fundie some truth serum, they’d probably admit to being scared out of their minds because the Bible is completely ambiguous. It’s not like it says anything straight-up about the so-called ‘End Times’ — it’s all garbled and open to interpretation. So down deep inside, you’ve gotta know that many of them aren’t sure what to believe. I mean, they might believe in Jesus with all their hearts, but can they say for sure what the Book of Revelation really means? Can they say for sure it was talking about NOW? After all, my parents once believed that Henry Kissinger (among others) was surely the Antichrist and that Armageddon was around the corner thirty years ago. I remember spending my childhood waiting for the ‘Rapture’ that was going to come ‘any day now’. So c’mon; even if you believe in all that crap, you know down deep that you can’t be sure when it’s gonna happen — so when things get REALLY tough out there, I think that Christians get rather nervously excited. They want the Rapture to come save them, but what if it doesn’t? What if it’s just another ugly period in history like all the others, and they’ll have to go through the whole thing without being rescued? Oh no! So I think that they relish the actual ‘End’ because they have faith Jesus will save them, but they can’t ever be sure that ‘this’ is IT. Such is the road to insanity.

There are seemingly 2 basic kinds of fundies in this respect — those that are content to wait and see what unfolds, having faith that God has it under control (these people are not the problem; though as a fan of Sam Harris, I will agree that they SUPPORT the problem) — and those that are so friggin’ convinced that their hundred-year-old interpretation (yes, sorry to tell ya, folks, but the whole ‘Rapture’ thing was conjured up in the 19th century) is absolutely true and absolutely imminent, and that somehow God needs THEIR help in making it all come about.

The latter represent a seriously psychopathic wing of the Religiotards, and their narrow worldview reveals an astounding level of arrogance and ignorance — as it places so much faith in a fairly recent set of beliefs so as to literally risk EVERYTHING to follow it to its conclusion, and yet, since they evidently don’t think God has it under enough control that he doesn’t need their meddling, it’s a complete paradox. I mean, if it IS the ‘last days’ according to some ambiguously worded prophecies, why don’t they just chill the fuck out and watch? Why do they need to set the shit in motion? Why does Sarah Palin on the one hand believe so fervently in God as Omnipotent Being With A Plan, and yet also believe that somehow in order for that Plan to come to fruition, God somehow needs the likes of HER to go start World War Three? It doesn’t make ANY sense unless you’re a megalomaniacal sociopath who believes themselves to be instrumental in God’s Master Plan.

Which brings me back to the two emails.

Both follow essentially the same premise: that God’s Plan and His timing can be manipulated by humans. And not just humans, but specifically AMERICANS, since this particular brand of Christianity is absurdly America-centered. I know fundies who can find all sorts of shit they purport to be about the USA in the Bible, which would be truly extraordinary if it could possibly be true. But one look at the passages they mention, and you realize just how deluded they are.

But, of course, if America plays a prophesied role in Armageddon, we just HAVE to be the good guys, right? Because how can we be the bad guys? We’re AMERICANS! We’re GOOD! Well, except for them evil commie gawdless libruls.

So if Obama wins, he’s the Antichrist and that’s bad. So we need to vote against him — but then again, if he’s the Antichrist, then voting against him won’t do any good, because, well, it’s been prophesied, right? And besides, if he’s the Antichrist, then all the Christians are about to be Raptured, right? And that’s what y’all WANT, right?

Then again, if Sarah Palin wins, she’s the AntiAntichrist. I don’t remember even reading about THAT, but whatever. None of this makes any damn sense anyway.

Religion is just Mass Insanity.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Palin My Ass

Sarah Palin.
The illegitimate lovechild of Gidget and Joseph Stalin.

Or, as I like to call her, Claws Barbie. The history majors among you will likely get the reference. Sadly, far too many will have to look it up. But anyway.

This religiofascist bitch must be stopped. And if Christians think she’s on their side, whatever THAT means, they are mistaken. Separation of church and state is what PROTECTS Christians and other religions from EACH OTHER.

Most of the victims of the Taliban, for example, are other Muslims — those who just don’t seem pious enough, or who have a slightly different interpretation, or try to be less vicious to women, or whatever. Theocratic rule is a horror story for EVERYONE, religious or not. That’s why the founders of this country sought to erect that wall a long time ago, never to be torn down.

It’s one thing if a candidate PRACTICES a religion or belief and keeps it private — JFK was not interested in instituting a Catholic Theocracy. It’s quite another matter when the tenets of the church a candidate follows advocate the indoctrination of the masses in their particular dogma, and actively seek to put representatives in high governmental offices to do just that. I too was raised in a fundamentalist environment (as I've mentioned many times), and I can tell you that I’ve listened to enough of their sermons to know unequivocally that Palin’s mission is to destroy the traditional separation and work as hard as she can to institute a government based on the apocalyptic beliefs of her particular sect. She has basically admitted it in so many words.

Any of you who think this is a good idea need not look further than your local library (or the daily news from Muslim theocracies) to see what a disaster this would be.

Wake up, people. This is not what our country is supposed to be about. You think gay marriage and equal rights and abortion and all that is somehow a threat to your way of life? Well, let me tell ya — regardless of how you feel about those issues, they are NOTHING compared to THIS one.

Don’t take MY word for it; read your history books! Pay attention!

Fundamentalist Christianity has infiltrated the political spectrum in an attempt to gain real power — including MILITARY power. And to a large and alarming level, they’ve succeeded. And how have they succeeded? Through the support of mild-mannered masses of good people just following their faith, swelling church ranks, voting for candidates based solely on their religious fervor and attachment to pet religious-based oversimplified issues, and contributing vast amounts of cumulative wealth to psychos like Falwell and Robertson and others, to the point where they are able to buy and wedge and crowbar and threaten their way into positions of authority that men of their caliber could get no other way.

And their influence has severely damaged our country. To the point where both candidates of our already pathetic two-party (if even that) system are forced to pander to the Jeezuz contingent in order to get anywhere.

Anybody with half a brain knows that theocracy, or even a hint of it, is a bad idea even for the followers of the prevailing sect. Why? Because as has been shown in every theocracy ever, not only is it unconscionable that one particular dogma could dictate the rights of sovereign individuals through coercion or governmental law, but quite simply, setting a precedent of theocracy means that at any given moment, a different sect could grab the reins, and suddenly all those who followed the dogma of the previous theocratic power structure are suddenly heathens. And make no mistake, history shows us what happens when you give the self-righteous ‘god on our side’ theocrats of ANY religion access to military power, what once may have been petty ecumenical differences will surely turn into a bloodbath. Wash, rinse, repeat.

So after they imprison and/or kill all us ‘unbelievers’, guess who’s next?

As Sam Harris implies in The End of Faith, while as an average hardworking, non-threatening, even kind-hearted Christian you can personally claim innocence — the same way the average Cambodian or Spaniard or German or Byzantine could in their day — the fact is that you are potentially a moral and financial supply line to a system that produces megalomaniacs hell-bent on supergluing the church to the state, with all the bloody consequences that your history books should have warned you about. So if you're gonna be a follower, be ever vigilant as to whom you are following.

If you can’t see that, plain as day, well, all I can say is I’ll see you in the camps.

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