Category Archives: Religion

Muslims and Christians and fundamentalists and progressives: why our arguments are missing the point

ISIS 2We have this little Point/Counterpoint going today in posts from Josh Booth and Otherwise, and in a lot of respects they are reproducing a debate that has raged for a very long time.

The problem with this argument, writ large, is that it fundamentally sidesteps a critical question – perhaps the question. We argue about whether religion X advocates Y or Z, and we frequently hear proponents of one side or another contend that proponents of the other view aren’t “real” members of the religion. The Sacred Text says thing A unambiguously, and the other faction contravenes A at every turn. The apostates then do the same thing, using thing B as evidence. Lather, rinse, repeat, and the bloodbath goes on for centuries. Continue reading Muslims and Christians and fundamentalists and progressives: why our arguments are missing the point

Merry Christmas from S&R

Christmas Tree Union Station DenverThe other day I wished everyone a Happy Solstice. Tonight, I wish my Christian friends a Merry Christmas.

Even though I have left that particular religion behind me, I can’t help feeling the tug of my childhood, when friends and family, lights and food, the magic of the manger story and, of course, the HDAD-inducing anticipation of Santa’s impending visit made this the most special night of the year. It still calls to me, across the decades.

I hope this is a special one for you.

Funeral for a Dog

This is the full text of the farewell ritual performed on December 21, 2014 in memory of my dog, Ronan.

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Elements of the North, of Earth, locus of Will, of patience, endurance, stability and tenacity – draw near and bear witness.

Elements of the East, of Air, locus of Creativity, of wisdom, intellect, perception and inspiration – draw near and bear witness.

Elements of the South, of Fire, locus of Energy, of passion, of love and laughter – draw near and bear witness.

Elements of the West, of Water, locus of Body, of strength, pleasure, fertility and receptivity – draw near and bear witness.

Elements of the Center, of Spirit, locus of that which transcends our senses, draw near, bring guidance to this circle and bear witness.

A funeral for a dog. What a thing, huh? Continue reading Funeral for a Dog

A strange moment in a New Age bookstore

Never mind religion. Know your customer, right?

Something … odd … happened today. As I have noted here before, I am not a Christian. I’m either atheist or pagan, depending on your perspective, and this afternoon I was in full-on pagan mode, for reasons that will be elaborated on in the next couple of days.

So I head to a local New Age bookstore to pick up some things I need for a ceremony. I quickly locate what I’m after and go to check out. The nice young woman behind the counter rings me up. I pay and as I turn to leave she says “Merry Christmas!”

I thank her and leave and wait, what? The woman at the counter at the New Age bookstore just wished me a Merry Christmas? Continue reading A strange moment in a New Age bookstore

Why Sam Smith is unelectable

Dr-Sammy-for-MericaS&R co-founder Mike Sheehan had a really funny comment on my “Dems need their own Tea Party” post. As in, I laughed until my sides hurt. Checkit:

Well, what’s stopping you from running for office?

If I’d had soda in my mouth I’d have spewed it all over your computer. He continues:

Er wait, never mind… intelligence is a liability in US politics… makes you look godless and America-hating.

He gets it. But seriously, I’ve been bitching for decades. Why don’t I run? I think I have solutions for everything, right? Continue reading Why Sam Smith is unelectable

Charles Keating, high priest of the Church of Jesus Christ Sociopath, is dead

Keating was an icon of the Old Testament morality that defines American culture.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. – Karl Marx

Charles Keating, the fixer at the center of the infamous Keating 5 scandal, is dead. Let’s all lift a glass to mark the passing of an evil man.

The Economist‘s obit is a must-read.

Mr Keating was so doughty in this holy war that Richard Nixon appointed him in 1969 to the national commission on obscenity. When the commission produced a feeble report, Mr Keating dissented. He wrote that “Never in Rome, Greece or the most debauched nation in history has such utter filth been projected to all parts of a nation.” At meetings of his 300-chapter organisation, Citizens for Decency through Law, he would stride round with a big red Bible in his hand. Sundays saw him devoutly at Mass, with thousands of dollars given to Catholic causes. Such was his local influence that when the Supreme Court ruled that obscenity should be judged by “community standards”, every adult theatre in Cincinnati closed down.

Strange, then, that this knight on a white charger—as he saw himself—was also the man who bilked 23,000 investors out of their savings. The total loss was $250m-288m, and the cost to the taxpayer $3.4 billion. In 1984 he had bought Lincoln Savings, a savings and loan association based in Irvine, California, and turned it into a piggy bank for his own American Continental Corporation. He persuaded Lincoln investors to swap their secured bonds for ACC’s junk ones, claiming that these too were backed by the government. Then he speculated freely in foreign exchange, risky development and tracts of raw cactus desert. Staff were exhorted to prey on “the weak, meek and ignorant”.

Continue reading Charles Keating, high priest of the Church of Jesus Christ Sociopath, is dead

Happy Imbolc from Scholars & Rogues

I’ve never quite understood the conventions surrounding the terms “midsummer” and “midwinter.” Each is used to describe the solstice – June 21st or so and December 21st or so – which are, as you know, the beginnings of summer and winter, not the middle.

Today is Imbolc, which we popularly celebrate as Groundhog Day.(I’m not sure whether Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, but if he were in Seattle with me he wouldn’t be able to see as far as his nose for all the fog, never mind his shadow.) In Gaelic cultures it’s called St. Brighid’s Day and the Catholics, in their campaign to appropriate all things pagan, call it Candlemas. Whatever you call it, today is the middle of winter.

Pagans of all sorts, both historical and contemporary, celebrate Imbolc as one of the eight Sabbats, or high holy days. Continue reading Happy Imbolc from Scholars & Rogues

The Sunday Assembly: a weird idea, but a compelling one

When thinking about why churches thrive, understand that religion is far from the most important factor.

Did you see the recent story floating around on the growth of the “atheist megachurch,” the Sunday Assembly? I’m really interested in the concept. Churches have three main draws: religion, community and professional networking. The first of the three is probably the least important to the maintenance of most congregations and community is easily the most important. Continue reading The Sunday Assembly: a weird idea, but a compelling one