Spirituality & Enlightenment

Spirituality & Enlightenment

Dear GOP, I Think You’re Choking On Something

 

popetrumpA headline over on Drudge yesterday read “Christians Under Siege!” Yes, I took the bait and made the mistake of reading the whole article. The assaults on Christianity are always a variation of the same two: Christians are now forced to watch other people marry the person they love and/or not everyone says “Merry Christmas” as enthusiastically as our Founding Father’s envisioned. Some people even have the audacity to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” on December 25th .you know, Saturnalia. The main point of this same article shifted to southern Christian conservatives burden to make sure they choose the right, God-fearing candidate. This is a tremendous burden, indeed, as they must decide whether their party should tack stupid, or tack reeeally stupid. I think if Hercules had to choose between these jokers, he’d be like, “Can I just wrestle the giant squid again, please?”

A Couple of Quick Points

Pierce Winslow

I hate to get sucked into these debate things between Zano and McDooris, but there are a couple of things that need to be said.

First:

Pseudo-quote the Constitution: “The constitutionality of any given issue is to be determined by the Supreme Court of the US.” Given that, and that said Supreme Court ruled that the Healthcare Mandate is constitutional, it is constitutional. Debate over. If you expect the hospitals to fix your sorry ass after an accident, regardless of your ability to pay (your right to Life), you have an obligation to help fund that. Just because your rights include being so irresponsible as to not cover your own ass (your right to Liberty), that doesn’t not give you the right to have me to pay for saving said ass, like it or not. The mandate ensures my right to have reasonable healthcare costs despite your irresponsibility (my right to Happiness).

Second:

ISIS is about as Muslim as the KKK is Christian. The argument has been made that since the Koran contains talk of Jihad, and all Muslims must believe in the Koran, that any Muslim not blowing up a mall is not really a Muslim. Lettuce examine the Bible. Here is a list of offenses from the Bible that carry the death penalty:

Murder
Adultery
Bestiality
Rape
Sodomy
Picking up sticks on the Sabbath
A betrothed woman who does not cry out while being raped
A woman who is found not to have been a virgin on the night of her wedding
Worshiping other gods
Witchcraft
Taking the Lord’s name in vain or cursing his name
Cursing a parent
Kidnapping

Of course, in typical Republican fashion you can buy your way out of any of those except pre-meditated murder, but I digress… So, anyone not whipping out the stoning squad for saying “God Damn it!” or building a campfire on Saturday isn’t really a Christian. Then I guess we should have a lot of vacant fancy buildings around town, huh? Islam has evolved as has Christianity. Yes, there are those that live still live in the Bronze Age on both sides. There are also those that site those ancient, now anecdotal excerpts as rallying cries to incite radicalism, but they are the vast minority. To suggest that we as a nation need to launch a military campaign through the Middle East based upon that is medieval thinking; very crusade-like you might say (and historically a disaster). I prefer the age of enlightenment myself. Except for that part where if my brother croaks then I have to bang his wife (another death penalty thing). That rocks.

So, Zano and McDooris, I have resolved your arguments. Enough already. Can we get on with the discussions of midget porn and squirrel water skiing? Jesus Christ…oh, Mohammed…Apollo?

That Which We Call a Radical by Any Other Name

Pokey McDooris

Some random thoughts struck me this week, Zano, like squirrels on water skis, honey badger, and that hot barista over at Starbucks. Then some relevant thoughts struck me, but, since you have no answers, I thought I would list them all in an attempt to continue to annoy the crap out of you. First off, stop the placating! Start to join the voices condemning Islam as irrational, hateful, and just plain wrong. Quit encouraging these bullies and let’s start our own academic Jihad! Then more squirrels on water skis.

This week Rudy Giuliana said he didn’t believe that Barack Obama loved this country but, when challenged, Giuliana didn’t give a very strong defense of his statement and essentially backed down. Glenn Beck, however, did have a good response. Beck asked the question, “Is it possible for a person to want to ‘fundamentally change this country’ and still love this country?” I believe that to be a fair challenge. I know you have nothing but contempt for Mr. Beck, but back in 2013 Beck claimed that ISIS was forming a Caliphate. At this time our president was referring to ISIS as “the JV team.”

Then, this week, President Obama said, “Islam is woven into the fabric of the foundation of the United Sates” (paraphrased). This is totally false. Islam had absolutely nothing to do with the foundation of the United States, and it wasn’t until the 1890s that the 1st Islamic center was built in New York. In the 1700s, if there were such a person on this land who had even suggested Sharia law, they would have been rightly executed.

“We need to transform our history.”

—Barack Obama

President Obama said that ISIS is not Islamic, but rather a “hijacking of Islam.” This is also false. ISIS is not a deviation from Islam. ISIS has a coherent theology rooted in the Koran. ISIS is as Islamic as Muhammad; it might make us feel good to say otherwise, but if anything, ISIS is a ‘Reformation’ of the barbaric, yet theologically rooted, foundation of Islam.

The central message of the Koran is for the community of believers to spread its message through violence. Those people who truly believe that Muhamad is the last Prophet of Allah and that the Koran comes from God are at war with us, whether we like it, believe it, speak of it, or not.

By not addressing the reality of what is actually occurring in ISIS, Islam, and the Middle East, we are putting our heads in the sand as our enemy grows stronger and is emboldened by our feeble signs of weakness.

To say ISIS is not Islamic is like saying that the Nazis were not fascist. Let me start by contrasting the “racist slayings” in the U.S. with the real bigoted slayings going on around the globe like in Syria, France, Africa, etc. Our President and Al Sharpton and you too, Zano, ought to be rallying protests against the bigoted ideology—yes, “Islam.” Say it with me, kids. Isssslaaaaaam. What’s the capitol of Pakistan, kids? Islamisbad. I’m here til Friday. Is this thing on?

Those on the left have been tiptoeing around these bullies for too long. Call it what it is: Islam is a religion of intolerance—no, not just radical Islam, Islam itself. Read the Koran, look at the history. A Moderate Muslim is a person who doesn’t really believe that Muhammad is a prophet and doesn’t really believe that the Koran is from God.  Anybody who really believes that Muhammad is a prophet and that the Koran is really from God is a radical Muslim. 

We, that is reasonable Western thinking democracies, must expose Islam for what it is, no holds barred. Islam is a religion of intolerance. Oh, I know not all Islamic people are violent, but all true believing Islamists are tolerant of the violent worldwide jihad which is right not being waged against you and I.

Oh, and Zano, the only thing separating the Islamic State from you and me is conservative Christians. It sure isn’t the Democratic Party. Those same folks who work tirelessly to undermine, weaken and ridicule, Conservative Christians, kind of forget about Islam. Boo hoo, a reprehensible cartoon depiction of Muhammad, a reprehensible video, a reprehensible book, a reprehensible blog, blah, blah, blah. Yes, your blog is reprehensible but for decidedly different reasons.

I’m tired of these guys making everybody tip toe around them. Oh, be careful not to offend Abdul, kids. No really, he’s wearing a suicide vest.

Oh yeah, and the President will encourage the showing of the ‘Interview’ as a sign of patriotism? Well, let’s paste those cartoons on every newspaper and news station across the world. Oh no, that would be incendiary. What is more reprehensible to joke about the killing of present day world leader, or the satirical depiction of a false prophet who’s been dead for 1400 years?

Next installment: rethinking the virtues of the Holy Crusades…

Manmade Vs God-Given Rights

Mick Zano

To me the ‘unalienable rights’ part of the Declaration of Independence means absolute rights that cannot be tampered with. Whereas the origin of these rights remain open to debate, the rights themselves are not. Pokey worries that without defining the origin-part, liberals will try to change shit. On that note, there’s as much Athens as Jerusalem in our founding documents so let’s begin by replacing ‘God-given’ with ‘Zeus-given’. Then let’s draw a really cool lightning bolt over the entire next paragraph and change the name of this thing to the Bill of Smites.

[Winslow: This is a continuation of a debate that has sadly been allowed to continue.]

To benefit from the spirit of our Constitution we needn’t define the God-part. Our Founding Fathers (FFs) had a healthy dose of atheism, so they avoided naming the particular deity in question. The WHO who bestowed these rights is moot, and with good reason. The Age of Reason comes to mind, or the flip side Sharia Law. Of course, our FFs were more worried about the Church of England at the time. Damn Protestants. They understood God could be any God, Gods, or higher power. But please avoid cartoon Gods where prohibited.

Some believe these rights are bestowed by a bearded guy in the clouds while others do not. But one day YOU WILL ALL KNOW the glory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! To me the key is that these rights are inherent and irrefutable. Sure the FFs stated the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” comes from God, but then these same folks spent no small amount of time ensuring a clear separation of church and state.

To me unalienable means—

[Zano’s 17 page Ancient Alien rant rejected by the editor]

Whereas you, Pokey, are looking at colonial times from solely a Christian standpoint, I realize our founding documents were an amalgam. Sure it’s an amalgam with clear ties to The Bible but, taking a page from Ken Wilber, I believe our FFs were operating at a much higher level of consciousness than the norm for that time period.  The idea of starting with some basic tenants that could not be overruled by anyone from a lower, or even a higher perspective was brilliant (no matter how you slice it). They were certainly light years ahead of either party today. They only used this fundamental origin-myth to protect the essence of their vision, not the least of which is that all men are Created Splenda. (Sorry, but I already changed that part, because Equal causes cancer.)  

After all, they started this schitznik with We The People, not We The Children of God. The people had the sovereignty here, not the all-mighty, or the all-mighty dollar. That came later. The whole tug-o-war between a Christian Nation vs the Wall of Separation between church and state remains ongoing, then and now. I’m not an all-or-none thinker and the answer, as usual, lies somewhere in between:

“The founders were not as Christian as those people would like them to be, though they weren’t as secularist as Christopher Hitchens would like them to be.”

—Richard Berkhiser

Let’s look at the rest of that phrase “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Life

To me life means breathing and stuff.  The GOP seems to only find life in the womb sacred. Discuss any post-natal rights and they get all snotty. Post-natal drips?  I believe The GOP has become a cult of death. Climate change? Nah. Dying oceans? Nah. Overpopulation? Nah. The need to shift to alternative energies? No thank you. We prefer a better life, through death.

Republicans love children and they show this profound Christian love by gutting education, child protective services, and all regulation of food and water. They always just want to turn their heads …and cough.

So in this nirvana of yours the church is supposed to take care of the mentally ill with prayer and with cookies? You don’t need to be insured, you don’t need medical care, you don’t need basic sick leave or any basic wage to function in our current society. You don’t need workers’ rights, you don’t need vaccinations from deadly illnesses…you know, the ones once eradicated through said vaccinations. You have the freedom to either die in the lobby without coverage or die in your designated sweatshop. That’s a wonderful interpretation of our Founding Fathers’ vision. You have the right to life…until our policies kill you. Mass extinction sold separately.

Is life longer and fuller without healthcare coverage? Do you really believe that?

“Just live a little. No really, just a little. That’s all we’re funding.”

—John Q. Republican

Liberty

Let’s take liberty…no really, take it. James Madison extended the Constitution to include the Bill of Rights to protect said liberty. The Bush Administration essentially junked the thing indefinitely post 9/11.

And what about the War on Drugs? That shit-show cost us dearly. Ever heard of the Rico law? Your house car or cash can be confiscated by the police if they even suspect anything you or your family member might have done related to a drug offense. And you’re trying to tell me that having a well-funded emergency room in your town trumps all of these affronts? Isn’t it more likely you’re being duped? I think NSA is all we agree on this topic.

Suffice to say, once you can by picked up off the street by your government without due process, held indefinitely, and then tortured, uh, I think that might infringe on your liberties ….a tad.

 “Never ever get a writ of Habeas Corpus.”

—Groucho Jefferson

The Pursuit of Happiness

Let’s ignore my hedonistic view of happiness for a moment. Sex, drugs, and rock & roll sold separately. Christian “values” keep people from dying with dignity and it keeps them from having access to pornography while in hospice care—which is no small point when your last request is spiritual midget porn. If given a chance Christians would impose their version of happiness on us all. The FFs understood this part, even if you don’t. On a related note, I come from a long line of Impuritans.

One nonstarter is how a Christian Nation invariably tries to remove temptation. They would block even any chance of sin, which is a ridiculous approach to helping someone move toward spiritual growth. Try interviewing some altar boys to see how well that’s working out. This is also why the decriminalization of all drugs must occur. Did God remove the Tree of Knowledge from the Garden of Eden? Hell, he didn’t even block porn in that liberal Portlandia. Eve? Is that you burning frankincense again, you naked hippy chick?

I think there’s a big difference if you call something like healthcare an inherent right, but universal healthcare does seem to work in everywhere it has been tried. Sorry, but freedom didn’t die anywhere it’s been tried. The taxes associated with healthcare costs polled well in all 18 countries. Again, I think there’s a middle ground at play here, well, should our republican friends outgrow their middle school playgrounds. Pursuing happiness from poverty is possible but not always preferable. I don’t want to belittle the efforts of our churches, but they are not the whole picture—they’re not even the previews.

Rick Santorum, a guy cut from your cloth, would like to see the church prominent and powerful again. He feels the separation of Church and State only goes one way. He feels the government itself must be separated from any church, but churches can petition the government as much as they want.

“WHAT?!”

—Our Founding Fathers amidst a collective face palm

And that was just their reaction to his latest sweater vest. If you recall the context back in 1776, our FFs obviously wanted a very clear separation of Church and State. Hey, why not shift the whole wall on our southern border back to where our Founding Fathers intended? …between Church and State.  Lest we forget the church had full control of the West for many centuries. It was called the Dark Ages.

Back to the Other Main Point: The Constitutionality of Obamacare

I never said the individual mandate was a clear violation of the Constitution. I said I had concerns about that one aspect of that 1,000+ page law. I am not a constitutional scholar, nor am I an all-or-none thinker, so I am forced to leave that important task to our partisan Supremes. Any ruling that arises from your infallible document—the one handed to us from God himself—is deemed constitutional or not depending on the ratio of D to R appointed judges during said ruling.  Funny how that works.

Meanwhile, Senator Orin Hatch (R) and Senator Fred Upton (R) have just proposed an alternative health plan, which is suspiciously similar to the ACA, minus the individual mandate. They want to give tax credits to compensate for this emergency room penalty. In their version you can keep coverage for your existing condition as well. But unless you counter the high risk pool with lots of other people that approach makes no sense (See: any other proposal by republican in the 21st century).

Things may go down as Starsky and Hatch are proposing, but essentially it will be Obamacare under a new name and without any viable way to pay for it. Of course, if we elect a republican president what we call the ACA will be the least of our problems.

Others have already come up with some individual mandate work-arounds, as previously mentioned here. I won’t strip millions of Americans from their healthcare coverage for a piece of this law that is not remotely fatal, for a piece of this law that is currently deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, for a piece of this law that may well be correctible. If you change ‘unalienable’ rights to unconscionable then I think you have a point.

How is having access to an emergency room destroying your freedom, Pokey? Could we afford the fire department needed if every household in the U.S. burst into flames? The government takes a lot of your paycheck and it always will, so why is this bit so hard to digest? How much of our check goes to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, fire, garbage, infrastructure, schools etc? If you don’t have a kid, you still pay a school tax. If you don’t have a fire you still pay for that fire department. And now, if you don’t have a medical emergency there still an emergency room down the street should you need it.  You peeps always complain about the money associated with a basic functional society, yet you ignore the fact you can’t unionize, get a raise, get time off, or get a life. Freedom…you’re doing it wrong.

Excuse me if I don’t want to pay for your ‘personal responsibility’ from my pay check. It’s a shared burden…like Fox News. If you don’t like it, live off the grid, nature boy. You’re making much ado about healthcare. And what are you complaining about? You and your ilk are winning. We don’t invest in infrastructure, we don’t take care of our most vulnerable, as we devolve into a third world nation. How do you folks twist reality into such a pretzel? Don’t ask me to get inside the head of a republican; I have weak constitutions. See? I just threw up on my amendments again. Oh and sorry, Pokey, but I changed some of the first part too:

We the Spoof Bloggers , in order to form a more perfect Onion.

What da ya think? Oh, and I already changed the Zeus part again. I’m kind of partial to Dionysius, but I’m still keeping the lightning bolt. It doesn’t have to make sense. Hell, republicans don’t.

Integral Thought Doesn’t Have a Prayer

Mick Zano

Discussing integral levels of thought will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers, about 99% of the world’s feathers if Ken Wilber is any judge. That’s about the percentage of hate mail Obama received after his breakfast prayer last week. Luckily my discussion on the subject will only anger most of my 11 fans, because my fans go to 11. So do the math. No really, it’s a fraction. Anyway, Obama’s event with the Dalai Lama impressed me greatly—I mean, eggs Florentine?! Yum!

Obama’s a gutsy guy, just not in the traditional Republican sense of the word, aka breaking wars and economies over one’s knee in the name of freedom! But where has this guy been hiding? Even though most will miss his main points, I commend his efforts. We should begin to speak to what’s best in all of us, not remain transfixed on those worst aspects of the human condition. Those with a clue deserve a little prime time as well. With religious fundamentalism still tearing our world apart, I loved Obama’s whole shebang.

Note to self: when trying to spell check shebang do not, under any circumstance, use the Google to accomplish this task.

Obama wasn’t throwing any one religion under the bus; he was compelling us to dump the shittier parts of all religions. Religion has a lot of baggage, present and past. Of course, Fox News “slammed” the president’s related comments and then “slammed” our strengthening economy and then “slammed” our falling unemployment rate and then “slammed” our staggeringly high stock market. Shock poll: no one shocked by this. Obama will be criticized for every sentence regardless of its meaning, which brings with it a certain freedom. Post this important speech, Charles Krauthammer honed in on this quote:

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.  And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

He was “shocked” and “stunned” that Obama would speak the truth, out loud, in front of other people. This is not the Republican way (see: U.S. history). I believe Krauthammer is about the smartest conservative out there and, boy, is he out there. Wow. Their brightest bulbs still can’t illuminate a phone booth. Of course Obama went on to list some of the abuses throughout history of some other key religions as well, annoying each country in question along the way. Good.  This was Obama’s answer to that first quote, the part Krauthammer left out:

“So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities—the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?”

Every one of Obama’s words rang true, but taken out of context you can and will offend. For example take my recent quote: “bite me, you gravy sucking whore.” When placed back into the correct context of my article it’s an entirely different beast:

“I would never say to the Dalai Lama, bite me, you gravy sucking whore, unless he continues to ignore my emails.”

See? Oh, and then there’s this bit:

“But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge—or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon.  From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it.”

On Bill Maher last week Howard Dean exposed Obama’s playbook. They were returning to the Affleck/Harris argument, whether or not to call ISIS Islamic terrorists. Dean basically confirmed my suspicion that this President adamantly refuses to increase terrorist recruitment, through word or deed. He will therefore not conflate ISIS with Islam in any way. Does he think they’re related? Well, duh, but because he realizes they kill in the name of Islam many are calling Obama’s language-failure a lie. More accurately, it’s just a smart strategy.

For a brief review: Ben Affleck stands for the liberal appeasers among us who can’t even read a poll about radical Islamic beliefs without playing the racist card (wrong), while our Foxeteer friends forever attack and blame the entirety of Islam (wrong). As usual Obama is threading the needle. He understands how the future lies within moderate Muslim countries and their people. Conflating this as a war with greater Islam is an automatic recruitment tool. Is he shying away from blowing the shit out of stuff? Hardly. He just wants to balance his actions by not creating more of the problem. This is no easy task as Republicans have shown us all too well.

Obama would like to share the burden of tackling these radical groups with regional forces. At least to some degree this is starting to happen. Moderate Islam represents a key part of reigning in the radicals, otherwise this war is already lost. I think more and more Muslims will evolve, but the question remains: will it happen fast enough? Meanwhile my position hasn’t changed, I agree with air strikes and Special Forces to quell these radicals, but boots on the ground need not be American. Land wars have not been effective in this endeavor, remember? Of course not.

Back to breakfast:

Hell, I could repost this entire speech, but here’s the link. Wow! This is one of the speeches history will talk about. Your first clue? No one agrees with me. It’s ahead of its time and Republicans are so far behind the times, it would take a quantum leap forward to get them up to The Flintstones. 

 Paul Waldman differs:

“I’d certainly prefer it if Obama never went to another one of these. He could say that though presidents have gone in the past, the event has become highly sectarian, and since he’s the president of all Americans, he’d prefer to hold his own inter-faith breakfast at the White House, one geared more toward understanding and less toward proclamations of the one true faith.”

Come on, live a little, Paul. Who cares what fundamentalists think? After his diatribe on the ills of religion, Obama doesn’t abandon spirituality but rather encourages us to embrace those best parts inherent in spirituality. To borrow a page from Wilber, he wants to transcend and include what works and ditch the rest:

“Whatever our beliefs, whatever our traditions, we must seek to be instruments of peace, and bringing light where there is darkness, and sowing love where there is hatred.”

And:

“Each of us has a role in fulfilling our common, greater purpose—not merely to seek high position, but to plumb greater depths so that we may find the strength to love more fully.  And this is perhaps our greatest challenge—to see our own reflection in each other; to be our brother’s keepers and sister’s keepers, and to keep faith with one another.”

Who better to have been sitting at this table during this speech than his Holiness the Dalai Lama? People need not defend every morsel of their sacred texts—to the death. Hopefully more people across the globe will move beyond fundamentalism in all of its forms. Face it, all religions contain some shittier, more contradictory parts. Even if you believe your own sacred text is directly from the Hand of God, you must admit the hand of man is evident throughout these puppies, or:

 “I’ve done everything the Bible says! Even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!”

—Ned Flanders

Let’s defend those aspects and those tenants worth defending. Let’s stick with Jesus’ kindness and lose Jehovah’s smiting, strive for the Kalimahs of Sufism and drop Sharia, a little more enlightenment and a little less crusades, a little more Menachem Begin and a little less Netanyahoos, and what do I have to say about those Voodoo Vikings that you don’t already know? Let’s a build a future that is brighter for everyone, not just for one sect, country or cult, but for all of mankind.

“The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism, to rabid nationalist fervor, are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism, and recognizes that an organism at war with itself, is doomed. We are one planet.”

—Carl Sagan

Cranky Crank’s Damage Repair

Cranky Crank’s Damage Repair
The Crank

At this point in my life I have been instructed by my orthopedist that I will not fare as good as my Mom did with the arthritis. In my case, if nothing is done it will kill me, and sooner rather than later. The scoliosis in my lower back is bad but not terminal. My neck is another story. Over the years I have graduated from one big chin to many big chins. Of course I realized this is partly because of Pasta and Twinkies, but also because for some reason I was losing height in my neck area.

Remembering Mom’s issues, I thought it was time I had it looked at. Besides, now if I coughed my arms went straight out like they were electrified. If I looked up I would lose feeling in both arms and part of my chest and face. I also had almost constant debilitating headaches. Not good. I have already had two full knee replacements already in an attempt to head off the kind of debilitating arthritis my Mom had.

After having the obligatory MRI after warning them I already had two metal knees (I really didn’t want my knees ripped from my body) my wife and I returned to the doctor. It was a life changing visit. He brought the scan up on a big monitor and pointed to the area from vertebrae C-2 to C-7. The spinal cord canal had narrowed to the point it was closing off at midpoint C-4 and one good fall or abrupt movement could, and probably would, end in quadriplegia or death. While I have tons of respect for Professor Hawking, I didn’t want to fully emulate him. He said my working days were over, and warned me I had better not drive or even be a passenger in a car for even a minor accident could be disastrous. At 59 I was to go home and watch TV, have restless leg, and eat, for the rest of my life. Tripping over the cats was not an option at this point, an activity I normally participated in regularly.

I went through the whole thing: first inconsolable sadness. I had said to myself that unlike my Dad, I was going to enjoy my retirement, not die just before it. I then had lots of anger at my Mom for inflicting this on me. I would scream at her picture when I was alone. My brother, my sister and I now have so much metal in side of us that airplane travel is all but ruled out without someone from TSA calling out a swat team. I then remembered my Aunt Pauline, my uncle Tony, and all the rest of Mom’s lineage with all their arthritis based issues, and now it’s popping its little bastard head in some of my nieces and nephews.

I then got to a point that I started to look for a fix. Most doctors I read of on line said they were not comfortable with fusing six neck vertebrae and wouldn’t advise surgery. I did some more internet searches for a fix and came upon a name. A man who was the head of Orthopedics for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN had recently tired of cold and wet and moved to the Surface of the Sun. He was also ‘in my plan’!!

We saw him, and after he studied my MRI, he turned to my wife and I said the four words I wanted to hear: “I CAN help you”. He explained he had done many and instructed me on what I would be left with as far as movement (not very much). He also said my headaches would in all probability go away. He was going to remove permanently the backs of each vertebrae in something called a Laminectomy. Just the word gives me the frightened turtle. He would then wire the vertebrae together with 2 long steel posts and 12 large screws. (Hello, Home Depot?) He would even attempt to reshape the neck into something remotely resembling what it was “supposed to” look like. Mary and I had a conversation, and agreed to go ahead.

The surgery went great but the recovery, not so much. The doctor said that when he finally freed up the cord, it sprang out of my spine like a jack-in-the-box, spring. He had never seen one so compacted. After two days in the hospital, I was released. I was weak as a kitten and could barely move my arms. I had to be fed. Now I know exactly what being a Tyrannosaurus felt like. Big head, big mouth, big ass, tiny useless little flappy arms. More fun was finding out I was allergic to large amounts of opiate-based painkillers. Something the Discord crew used as a food group at company parties. I found out my own allergies while in a hospital bed with my wife and niece at my side.

You see, I started to hallucinate, bigtime. Look people, I lived through the fucking seventies and that was nothing. My dining room table became a picnic table filled with itinerant field workers from the turn of the century, in black and white. At the foot of my bed a flower arrangement in a vase became the head of a man poking through the floor, with headphones on, in front of some kind of equipment. He had 70s style aviator glasses and hairstyle. He was in full color. The obligatory women in white gown floated around by the front door. And all these people were staring at me, while talking amongst themselves.

Now, this frightened me, and more so my wife. When I pointed out the guy with the headphones, who she couldn’t see, I naturally accused her of being part of some vast conspiracy. She then figured it was time to call for an ambulance and had me re-admitted. I was put in another MRI to see if I had had a stroke. When I came out I was flipping out. Some story I had seen on TV became real and I was convinced I was integrally involved. The MRI became a helicopter I was being removed from and I was also convinced I was no longer in a hospital, but in some fake hospital set up in a warehouse somewhere a la Blacklist. Crawling under the bed to get the spiders was also helpful to the staff.  Yeah, fun times. I will at this point have to take the space to thank Mick Zano for his help with texting answers to questions we had while watching the doctors argue about my meds in the middle of the night. That really gave me the warm fuzzies. He may be politically incoherent, but in his forte he has my full respect.

It wasn’t all horrific, though. There were the ants. I saw very big, pink ants, coming out of the corners of the rooms. They were dressed in full 70s disco regalia with afros, leisure suits, aviator glasses and platform shoes. And they danced. It started as I stared into the corner of a room. I would first hear the beginning of the song Love Rollercoaster (Ohio Players 1975)  and then the ants would slowly appear along the ceiling, as if they were squeezing out from behind the wall. They would wave at me as they entered. Then they started to dance as they made their way around the room. I implore the readers to go to YouTube and hear this song

While you’re watching, picture what I was seeing. It was wonderful. I would stare at them for hours, they kept me sane while we all waited for the drugs to wear off. To this day from time to time I gaze up at the corners of the room, hoping maybe I would see them again. I really miss the pink dancing disco ants.

It all went better after that. I have very little up or down movement and only about 20 degrees side to side. More importantly I am headache free, except when I read Zano. And that’s easy, I just don’t read Zano. I have built my strength back up and retaught myself to drive with the help of big-assed mirrors. So it’s all good. I just have a block of concrete for a head, but that’s nothing new.

I had an amazing support group. My wife is a nurse, my niece and nephew helped a lot, and my stepson came out for a week to be of great assistance. I could not have done it without all of them.

Oh yea, and ….Thanks Mom.

Atheism: It’s What’s for Last Supper

Mick Zano

So how does a guy deeply interested in spirituality end up championing the coming Age of Atheism? Oh, it’s easy, especially when you’re a spoof news “journalist”. But, before we get started, excuse me while a sacrifice this goat on this pentagram. Pokey, you are that goat.

One of my chief GOP complaints remains their rigidity of thought and their all-or-none thinking. Where does this problem stem from? I think some of their dysfunction clearly has its roots in Catholicism. It’s at least part of why republicans think the way they do, badly. Catholicism and Islam are the main two religions on earth with this good people/bad people, hell/heaven dichotomy and it is still shaping ideologies and legislation in the U.S. today.

“U.S. and them, and after all I’m just an ordinary Dem.”

—Pinko Floyd

Hey, at least atheists believe in science and they believe that ALL men are created equal. They also believe in public television, NPR, and no whip mocha lattes. More importantly, they believe in math, science and outcome measures. They can interpret new data into an ever-evolving position (with the notable exception of the whole mind/brain thing. Related post soon).

Example:

I was not originally opposed to voter ID laws, until I discovered during any given election fraud was estimated to occur only about .004%. That’s when I realized this was more GOP game-rigging (See: Gerrymander 2: A Good Day to Lie Hard) so my position changed. But, if the new data from NC turns out to be accurate, here, I may change my opinion again, especially if it turns out to be even more widespread. But I will reserve judgment as 95% of the stuff covered on Fox News tends to be of the bullshit variety. Yet all along the GOP’s solution to .004% voter fraud was to cover each instance, one at a time…this will explain it:

Dear GOP,

If 130 million folks voted and there was an estimated .004% fraud, if you cover each of the 5,200 stories separately, it doesn’t change the overall amount.

Sincerely,

Math

Evolving positions on the right are almost unheard of. So, minus any evidence, this ID vendetta was designed to disenfranchise our poor voters. Nothing more. Blessed are the…Your paperz, bitte! I believe that ploy was from Josh’nya or was it Dontvoteicus?

If the Foxeteers don’t have any real evidence, they just click on the Breitbart.coms of the world and voilà, instant evidence! It panders, it slanders…and look at that shine! No matter what data emerges the vast majority of republicans are incapable of changing their views. Republicans take their propaganda on faith. There’s at least a five year half-life on any botched issue and by the time they figure it out, who cares? Benghazi! Today’s republicans make Douglas Adam’s Golgafrinchnans seem like the High Elves of Rivendell (who legalized, apparently).

Oh, and how about that recently unearthed 2nd century evidence suggesting Jesus had a wife?

Jesus was married

This parchment was coincidentally released right around the same time that Jesus stopped hanging around with all those sinners and prostitutes. This excerpt from the lost Gospel of Huggy Bear:

“Sorry, guys, ahh she kinda funny.”

—Jesus

“Yeah, everybody funny. Now you funny too.”

—George the Apostle

And then Jesus said, “Blessed is the steady booty” and no one saw Jesus for a time.

Sorry.

But don’t worry about Climate Change, God will send another Moses to cool the oceans, or if they get too acidic Jesus will turn it into a nice merlot, or if it starts to rain too much another Noah will gather two of every iPhone app so they can eMate.

But remember, kids, under no circumstance drink and then try to walk on water. It will end up on YouTube.

Also, atheists are a surprisingly ethical bunch, which at first sounds counterintuitive, like conservative wisdom. Take Christopher Hitchens for example; he created a much more sensible 10 commandments before he went to meet his…oh (throat clear). How could his rules be more relevant than God’s? Full Zano story on here. Most of God’s 10 commandments are meaningless in 2014, like our Constitution. I kid the patriots.

You shall not covet thy neighbor’s ox? Really? Well, once during a Google search I saw something pretty horrific, but I think such things go without saying, aka, no coveting that shit. But, really God? Did you have to carve that into a tablet? (Throat clear)…er, what does covet mean again?

Religion’s main affront to humanity is how it invariably turns out-group members into monsters, which is a source of much of the strife in the world today and, coincidentally, a main theme for Fox and Frauds. More “primitive” cultures, who employ hallucinogens in their sacred rights and/or individuals who meditate, tend to move beyond fundamentalism and embrace some form of humanity’s interconnectedness. Atheists are more likely to squat on a mat for the science-backed benefits of meditation than Christians. A form of Unity Psychology is our future…that is, if we have one. Many more tribal cultures believe in the oneness of all things and, by the way, so did the Gnostics, better known as the people who invented Christianity. Unfortunately, their Frankenstein Monastic wandered away from the castle and started terrorizing the planet.

So I appreciate the work of Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris. Atheism and the leading edge of human knowledge seem married at the moment. And, in a world getting dumber by the second, they give me some small hope for mankind. Many of our atheists are our best and our brightest; they are dizzying intellects who I just happen to be smarter than (cough). I agree with them on this much: we must move passed this “we have the ONE true answer” dogma, or:

“The Indians once called a great council (to discuss their origin myths) as they sat around a fire the Dakota people talked about how they rode in from the Black Hills on purple horses before time and when they finished their story, everyone said, ‘Great story! Great story!’ And then when the Cherokee spoke, they told a story of how their people emerged from a cave, everyone said, ‘Great story!’ And when it came time for the priests to tell their story, they told of the Garden of Eden and of Adam and Eve, and everyone said, ‘Great story!’ Then the next tribe started to tell their story and the priests said, ‘No, no. No more stories. Our story is the only story.’ And the Indians were like, ‘Who invited these guys?’”

—Tom Blue Wolf, Mythic Journeys (2009), paraphrased.

That fear of out-group is organized religion’s biggest problem and, coincidentally, republicans and coincidentally the worlds. It stops the move from ethnocentric to more worldcentric thinking. If we don’t start working together as a global community, it’s going to be bye-bye time. Working together will improve our chances of navigating the rough waters ahead. The only thing stopping us right now is religion and capitalism—the GOP’s dynamic duo—mainly because:

A. There’s no money in saving the Earth (an excerpt from the Gospel of Koch), and:

B. Resources, reshmources, why bother? Jesus is returning soon to suck the faithful into heaven with his Holy Hoover.

Thanks to such reasoning, here we are today, so far behind the 8-ball it would take the aid of the Hubble telescope just to see the town the pool hall is in. I believe there’s some hope in parts of the new age movement (check Reality Sandwich and a related Pinchbeck post, here).

As for the Dawkins and Harrises of the world:

“For the most part, I agree with them. Belief in God is not required and it’s the cause of so much suffering around the world via religious extremisms. However, their approach is too fundamentalistic for my taste.”

—Ken Wilber

So Wilber would likely agree with my “Sure beats Huckabee” pro-atheistic last post snark (PALPS). Dawkins’ approach, in particular, annoys me the most. He captures the essence of scientism. Indeed, there’s even fundamentalism in science. He wants to rid the world of all hocus pocus and all mumbo jumbo, even the stuff he hasn’t bothered to look at or study! And, as for Mr. Hitchens, see my Hitch is Not Great: How Rationalists Are Wrong About One Thing. But at least atheism continues to wage an important unholy war on organized religions:

“Today, every one of our great traditions is in profound disorder. What have been taught as their basic truths seems to no longer hold. Cultures move from a deep spiritual impulse, lyric moment that creates the form of a culture, to more pragmatic consideration.”

—Joseph Campbell

Campbell assigns no blame for this natural societal shift, or as Forrest Gump once said, “Shift happens.” Enters a true pragmatist, Barack Obama, a man thwarted from the onset by the faithful. Why? Because to them he is the personification of some out-group and he’s in the White House!

“So the new mythology to come must be a global mythology, and it’s got to solve the problem of the in-group by showing that there’s no out-group.”

Joseph Campbell

There is no They…except maybe in that John Carpenter film, but that’s different. So is Them, for that matter, and giant ants aren’t even mentioned in the Bible. An oversight? Blessed are the radioactively enlarged ants? Well, God’s not bugnipotent, that’s for sure.

Atheists are much more open to this worldcentric model and they’re less likely to go to war than those still deluded by fundamental religions. And that’s not to say all religious folks are delusional. Christ-consciousness is Buddha consciousness is the Tao, is the way. It’s just that Christ consciousness has little to do with today’s Catholicism, at least for the vast majority of its members (see: the 700 Club).

The right’s ability to get it wrong, every time, is astounding and only with help from the faithful could they be so blinded. Take the death penalty. Who’s for that? Christian conservatives. But it costs society more in legal fees and appeals than if we just let them rot in prison. So it doesn’t even make sense from a fiscal standpoint. Not to mention those wrongly fried. And what about Thou shalt not kill? Are you going to ignore the only commandment that makes sense? Is there a footnote or an asterisk on the tablet that got chipped off?

And step away from that ox, Pokey!

Such fixed beliefs only become barriers to Wilber’s worldcentric level, to pantheism, to unity psychology and to the perennial philosophy, shaken not stirred. In fact, they become a barrier to solving the greatest challenges of our time.

“Science doesn’t have all the answers but fundamental religions don’t seem to have any.”

—Mick Zano

The world will be a much better place when we leave religious intolerance behind for a more meaningful spiritually. Embracing atheism, aka reason, may well be an important step:

“Your old road is rapidly agin’, please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, for the climate is a-changin’.”

—The Gospel of Bob

This is not an actual Zano rebuttal to the recent Pokey McDooris’s post, here, as both contributors decided independently to discuss atheism as their next topic of interest. They both picked on Dawkins, they both mentioned the Hubble, and they were apparently both separated at birther. So I propose, rather than another round of dim-witticisms, we have the deciding post via Skype or some other mediated forum. Cokie? Can you handle these bozos? Meanwhile, any attempt at rebuttal posts from you two knuckleheads will be immediately sent to the Discord furnace, deep in the bowels of the asphalt jungle known as Philadelphia.

Godless speed,

Pierce Winslow

Atheism Is Dead: Don’t Believe the Unbelievers

Pokey McDooris

Pinning down your logical fallacies, Zano, is like playing Whack-a-Mole with a Q-tip, on acid, while surfin’ the web on an outdated Blackberry, while trying to sign up for Obamacare—early on in the enrollment period—and throw in some more acid…but worse.

I’m just gonna focus on whacking one mole at a time. Let’s start with your absurd claim that we are entering the Age of Atheism. If our country really is entering the age of atheism, then how do you explain the American people electing such a devout Christian as Barak Obama? Remember his words, less than six years ago, while he was running for office, and he was asked his opinion about gay marriage; President Obama answered, “I personally believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman; and as a Christian, I believe that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman.” If we were truly becoming an atheistic nation, would we have elected someone who publically professed such a traditional faith? (This is called ‘irony’.)

You claim that all cultures eventually tend to shift toward liberalism and that atheism is potentially an evolved worldview. Name one evolved atheistic culture in the history of humanity? Atheistic liberalism is equivalent to brainwashing. It was brainwashing when Stalin did it; it was brainwashing when Mao did it, it was brainwashing when Castro did; it was brainwashing in Lesbos, that Greek island inhabited by all those beautiful…wait, I kind of get that. But it’s brainwashing now.

Just to prove my point, let’s take a look at Little Johnny’s atheistic education.

“Little Johnny, we know that your foolish parents have taught you that there is an invisible Creator called God–just like they taught you about that silly Santa Claus and his cohort, the Easter Bunny–so we’re here to teach you that you’re parents are ignorant fools. You see, Johnny, the consensus of expert scientists agree on the fact that human beings are mere complex apes that arose from random chance mutations on this tiny speck of a dust called Earth. We’re just circling around a sun as one of billions in this vapor fart-cloud of a galaxy that is but one amongst billions of others galaxies in this black empty universe. Essentially we popped into existence, like one of those breakfast cereal elves.”

Yes, we know how to snap, crackle and pop Little Johnny into shape, so that he will be best equipped to compete in the modern day economy. Oh, he feels a little pressure as his brain is pinched tight until the juice drips to fit the bubble. “So Little Johnny, you’re feeling depressed and stressed from the standardized test. Well, the doctor can prescribe you the THC ‘chill pill,’ and we’ve got the federally funded ‘munchie break’ between breakfast and lunch. Oh, and it’s a bummer that we’ve eliminated recess, but you can burn off some steam in Sex Ed. with our state of the art ‘hump dummies,’ or head over to the cross dressing, same-sex fondling room. You don’t know where that is? Right passed the transgender and metrosexual restrooms. You see, Johnny, it’s best that you explore the full gamut of your sexuality so you can come to an educated decision as to your sexual orientation.

Atheism’s time is over, but some ideas don’t die easy. Zano assures us that our society is becoming Atheistic, and I agree…that our society is being brainwashed by the dead ideas of Atheism, Darwinism, Communism and Overt Zanoistic Hedonism (OZH). Although, I did have fun at that one party, but then I had to spend all Sunday in confession.

Look, atheism has never made an affirmative claim, it merely denies the existence of a theistic God and an intrinsic purpose to life. Modern atheists speak with such arrogance when confronting those silly superstitious people who read their Bibles and talk to their invisible God because of their fears and inadequacies. What modern atheists don’t tell you is that the scientific evidence over the past century points clearly in the direction of theism.

When an atheist use to ask, “Where did the Universe come from?” They would reply that the universe is “infinite, and has always existed.” This was called the ‘Steady State Theory,’ and this theory was held by many within the scientific community. I say ‘was held’ and ‘was called’ because no reputable cosmologist holds that position today, because the observable evidence has proven this theory to be false.

The Hubble Telescope has shown humanity that the galaxies are moving away from each other with increasing speed. Cosmologists mathematically plot the movement backwards to a “singularity point” where all matter was on top of each other –13.74 billion years ago. Thus we now have scientific proof that the first three words of the Bible, “In the beginning…” are in fact true, and truth-seekers are compelled to ask if the fourth and fifth words of the Bible are also true. And let’s not forget the dedication page, To my Loving Wife, Barbara. I admit that part of the Bible code has not been cracked.

Recent scientific investigation has uncovered the structure of DNA and it’s far more complicated than Darwin ever imagined. Unlike mere molecules, DNA actually stores information. Nowhere in nature has matter been found to ever give rise to information. Information comes from intelligence. This discovery of the complexity of DNA has led many scientists to question the theory that proposes “origin of species” and “natural selection” and “random chance mutations.” Dr. Fred Holye says “bio-materials with their amazing measure of order must be the outcome of intelligent design.” Anthony Flew said, “The findings of more than 50 years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument for design.” That’s starting to sound a lot like hate speech. Thought police alert. Hey, what happened to that grant money? But I have tenure. Hey, I even voted for the metrosexual restrooms?

Even Richard Dawkins started changing his tune: “I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that (Intelligent Design) if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.” Oh, but Tricky Dicky Dawkins can’t leave any hope that this ‘sort of designer’ is the first cause intelligent Creator of the cosmos that many of us refer to as God. No, no, Dawkins clarifies, “Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet.” Oh, that clarifies things Dr. D. It was space aliens who intelligently designed life on this planet.

Random genetic mutations, aliens!

You see, now, that the genetic evidence cannot be suffocated inside the stifling straightjacket of Darwinism. These atheists theorize about space aliens–that’s their God, anything but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Okay, Ricky, I’ll humor you. Let’s say that life on Earth was intelligently designed by Evolved Space Aliens–then who or what designed the life that became the Evolved Space Aliens?

Crickets….crickets…and more crickets…followed by doubletalk, distraction, chit chat about the weather (global warming, no doubt), and change of subject. On this question, I have yet to get any coherent response by the proponents of the ‘Space Alien God’ (SAG) Theory. 

This brings me to my last point–the discovery that the conditions for supporting intelligent life is so very, very rare. The earth is indeed a very lucky (or very blessed) planet. When cosmologists first realized the vastness, diversity, and scope of the universe, most assumed that life would be common. After all, our galaxy alone contains billions of other stars. Our galaxy is one of billions of galaxies in the known universe. Scientists assumed that out of so many known planets, there must be numerous cases of life at least as intelligent as ours. As Carl Sagan once stated, “The available evidence strongly suggests that the origins of life should occur given the initial conditions and a billion years of evolutionary time.”

Well, recent discoveries have found that the universe is actually very hostile to life. Life is fragile and requires numerous narrow and specific conditions to be met to make life possible. Our planet Earth has just the right location in just the right kind of galaxy. Our planet is just the right size with a large enough moon, and it orbits at just the right distance from just the right type of star. Our plate tectonics are thin enough to shift, but thick enough to be maintained. Our atmosphere contains just the right combinations of life-nurturing gasses. Yes, the more we discover about the conditions in our own galaxy and in other galaxies in the universe, the more it seems as though the origin of complex life is indeed miraculous.

So what of the numerous reports of UFOs that we hear of in the popular culture? When Carl Sagan extensively studied the details about the large numbers of modern reports of UFOs, he called it pseudo-science. “Think of how many other “explanations” there might be: time travelers, demons…tourists from another dimension…the souls of the dead…each of these explanations has been seriously proffered…” “The least likely explanation of UFOs is the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitors by intelligent beings…”

Atheism led to Darwinistic ‘origin of species,’ ‘natural selection,’ and ‘random chance mutations.’ Darwinism led to genetic engineering and social engineering, which lead to Nazism’s ‘Superman’ and Communism’s ‘totalitarian state’. Now Darwinism’s foundation is undermined by the evidence, which suggests an intelligent designer; so Atheists seek another kind of designer ‘god.’ This god will play the part to give everybody what they want. A soul-travelling pure spiritual being of higher consciousness, a remotely-viewed psychic channel to the Akashic field, or an anal-probing alien from another spoof news blog. I hate those. Choose whatever god best fits your orientation…uh, and the right bathroom.

Pope

Tony Ballz

Last month, Pope Francis shocked the world of Christianity by stating the concept of hell was merely a metaphor for being separated from God’s love and was not an actual place where sinners burned in eternal damnation, hosted by the little red guy with the horns and the pitchfork. Yesterday, the Pope had this to say:

“Gosh, we’re real real REAL sorry. We figured you morons would catch on a few centuries ago, what with the Age Of Enlightenment and all that, but it just kept going and no one wanted to let the cat out of the bag. Looks like I’m the bad guy now. Whaddya gonna do?

“So yeah, sorry about the fear and blind obedience and brainwashing we installed in everyone who actually believed this malarkey. Sorry about the skidillions of dollars we bilked out of all those ignorant trolls. Hey, a church has to make a living too, you know?”

From his home in Beverly Hills, Slayer bassist/vocalist Tom Araya stated:

“No hell? Really, he said there was no hell? Well that’s great, just great. That pretty much pulls the rug out from under our thing, doesn’t it? How are we supposed to make a living without a hell to scare the crap out of our fans? What the fuck are we going to sing about, jock itch and canker sores? Ingrown toenails?

“I mean, we even titled one of our albums Hell Awaits, who’s going to buy that shit now? No one. God damn it, I have alimony and child support payments and a mortgage. Dude should stop and think before he starts flapping his gums. I gotta call Danzig, he will be PISSED OFF.”

A representative from the Hell’s Angels had no comment.

Pope Francis has remained silent so far on the existence of heck, Sam Hill, 7734, or H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.