Silent Subjugation

I’m a fat, white, American, male.

I’m white…which, thank God for that shit, boy. That is a huge leg up. Are you kidding me? Oh, God, I love being white. I really do. Seriously, if you’re not white, you’re missing out. Because this shit is thoroughly good. Let me be clear, by the way. I’m not saying that white people are better. I’m saying that being white is clearly better.” … “Now, if you’re white and you don’t admit that it’s great, you’re an asshole. – Louis C.K.

Louis C.K. is right. I wish he isn’t. Skin color is for another day though. For this I’m going to give my own quote and say “I’m male…which, thank God for that shit, boy.”  If I didn’t admit that being male was great, I’d be an asshole.

If we just simply look at gender (just male and female, not variations or identity), being born male is a ‘huge leg up.’

I’m not saying this because I believe there is really any reason for this to be the case, I’m saying this because of society’s and, arguably more-so, religion’s treatment of women.

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. – 1 Timothy 2:11-12

In fact, I suggest reading all of 1 Corinthians 11, it’s horrible. Stuff about women being created for man, women being “of the man”, etc.

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. – Ephesians 5:23-24

Talk about a power trip.

Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing. – Judges 19:24

How the Bible is any basis for morality is beyond me.   As the late Christopher Hitchens said, “religion poisons everything.”

These (and the many other) teachings don’t lead to morality, they lead to Donald Trump saying of Megyn Kelly “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

They lead to college males saying “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal!” and “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I fuck dead women and fill them with my semen.”

If you don’t find those absolutely reprehensible, YOU are part of the problem. And, if you’ve ever said those, or similar phrases, with anything other than revulsion, then I suggest you get help. Maybe we should have women walking around with strap-ons saying “No Means Yes, Yes Means Pegging!” It’s only fair.

If you’re posting things on the Internet suggesting horrible things happen to women for some reason or another… you’re a terrible human being. You should know better, and I bet you do. Your anonymity gives you cover to be a male asshole. You know why you feel powerful?  You’re male.  You have no concept. You don’t have to suffer assholes like yourselves. You have no understanding of the fear that women feel because of male assholes.

They lead to attorney Keith Sullivan saying “Look, many women have what’s known as ‘regret sex,’” as a dismissal of rape.  He’s part of the problem. If you are of a same mind, you’re part of the problem. “Due to varying definitions of a “False Accusation”, the true percentage of false accusations remains unknown, but is assumed to be a very small minority of reports of sexual assault”  If you believe false accusation is a platform, you’re part of the problem.

They lead to Anna Duggar blaming herself for Josh’s cheating.  Want to know Josh’s mother’s top marriage tip for Anna? Saying yes whenever Josh wants sex. If you also think this is a good marriage tip, you’re part of the problem.

They lead to assholes putting women’s home addresses on the internet to cause fear and silence.  If you don’t think this is wrong, or worse, you think this is funny or justified, you’re part of the problem.

They lead to women atheists being told they deserve to be raped.  If you’ve ever thought that rape was justified, you’re part of the problem.

What a price for not having a Y chromosome.

So, I’m a fat, white, American, male. I don’t get my morals from religion. I don’t think my wife should put out anytime I want sex. I don’t say horrible things to women, online or offline.  I don’t wish rape on women.  I don’t post home addresses to shut up people that I disagree with.

If you’re part of the problem, perhaps its time to re-evaluate yourself. Follow the words of Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick.” Male, or otherwise.

Swimming Without Cork

Greetings!

My name is Brian Belliford. I am an emissary from your long-lost, and singularly wealthy uncle, who would like to remain largely anonymous. You can call him Hank.

I have a message for you from Hank. He has been keenly watching your life and career and thinks that you seem a bit lost and confused. Hank would like to help you straighten things out, but only if you are willing to help yourself.

I know you are probably feeling a little skeptical, since you may not have heard of Hank before, or maybe you have been wrongly told that there is a different uncle who wants to help you, but please, trust me; if you follow the simple and reasonable instructions within this letter, I assure you,  you will quickly see and feel Hank’s generous guidance and assistance.

First, you need to send daily requests to your uncle. Not directly, but send them to me and I will pass them along. If you do not feel it appropriate to send them to me, write them on a piece of paper and put them in your dresser drawer. Hank is connected and he will be able to find them. Write down how you think you will best be helped by Hank. Hank may or may not grant your requests, depending on whether those requests are compatible with Hank’s Grand Business Plan (GBP).

Second, Hank demands manners. You need to send daily thank-you notes for Hank’s assistance, even if you believe Hank did not grant the requests from yesterday. Remember, Hank has a proven and reliable GBP, and what you think is best may not have fit into that plan.

Third, you also need to send thank-you notes to Hank when things seemingly go wrong. Hank is exceptionally intelligent, and knows many things you cannot possibly know, so something “wrong” might lead to something beneficial in the big picture. It is also possible that Hank feels you need adversity from time-to-time, in order that you truly appreciate his help and his GBP.  So, should you be fired, or lose money, or turn up with ill-health, thank Hank and remember it is all according to and working for the GBP.  Give Hank a ‘thanks’ for all his well-advised help; good and bad.

Forth, make sure to send generous thanks to Hank when anything good happens. Even the small things. Even if you did not ask Hank for that good thing. In fact, especially when you did not ask for it. Hank is always watching and monitoring and always knows what you need before you ask for it (which does not excuse you from sending help-requests). When you get a windfall from an investment, or land a new job that you did not expect, know that Hank was monitoring, and his GBP had put this set of events into motion. Is that not worth a quick thank-you note, and maybe some flowers?

Fifth, you need to send Hank money. Not directly, but send it to me and I will use it under direction from Hank to help you. The more money you send, the more Hank will be able to help you. Ten percent is a good rule of thumb (from the gross, not the net).  Should there be any question as to how you spend your limited resources, always ensure to send Hank his share first. If you think you really need the money, Hanks will make sure you get it back, if, of course,  he thinks you actually need it, and if you have been sending your thank-you notes.

Uncle Hank loves you and wants to have a deeply personal relationship with you, but needs to ensure that you really trust him before he visits with you. Hank will do amazing things for you, but he needs you to do your part.

This letter is just a rough guideline of how Hank can help you. If you have questions or need more information, feel free to ask me, and I will pass along Hank’s guidance. In fact, shall we set up a weekly meeting?  I am free every Sunday at 11:00am.  At the meeting, I can pass along any new information from Hank and,  if there is no new information, we can go over old information in order to ensure that we have not missed anything which might explain why the GBP is or isn’t working for you.

I look forward to working with you, and send you all Hank’s love and affection.

Sincerely,
Brian Belliford
Emissary of Hank

No Man a Minister

“He’s creating a mythology to take back to his people.  Same thing happened to Joseph Smith, and now The Mormons have a monopoly on the hotel industry.” – Dead Like Me

There may be some people – family, friends, Sunday School teachers – who still harbor hope that I will some day choose to return to The LDS flock. That may happen. I can’t rule it out.  If I were, with the knowledge I have gained wandering in the godless wilderness, my personal gospel testimony would probably sound a little different than it did when I was 14.

*Note: To my knowledge, none of the factual claims below are at all disputed by The LDS Church, and every link is to an LDS-friendly website (mostly LDS.org and FairMormon.org)

“I want to bear my testimony that I know The Church is true. I know that The Book of Mormon is the keystone to the gospel of Heavenly Father as restored by Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of The Lord, and that, when he was 16 or 14, years-old he was visited by God, The Father, and/or an angel, and/or The Savior, Jesus Christ. I know The Holy Spirit led Joseph Smith to a deep well where a sacred stone was hidden, which Joseph was able to use for treasure hunting and translation.

I have prayed and studied and felt the presence of The Holy Spirit when reading how Joseph Smith didn’t have or need or even use The Gold Plates in order to read the translated sacred words written in spiritual light on the sacred stone placed into his hat. And though there is virtually no archaeological, genetic, or scientific evidence that it is a historical document, and though it has been changed by The Prophets many times, I testify to you, my brothers and sisters, that The Book of Mormon is the most perfect book on Earth.

I have a testimony that Joseph Smith was similarly inspired by the seemingly common Egyptian funerary text to receive and translate the gospel written in The Book of Abraham, and that by following the words within its pages, we can all, some day, hie to Kolob and meet with Our Lord.

I know that polygamy, as revealed and practiced by Joseph Smith, was a righteous principle, anointed by The Lord. And though, for secular reasons, the mortal practice was commanded to be ceased, I know that spiritual polygamy is still the law in The Celestial Kingdom. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Joseph Smith was commanded by The Holy Spirit to marry the 16-year-old girl, Fanny Alger, who was, herself, led by The Spirit to live with Joseph and Emma in Nauvoo before becoming his first secret spiritual wife.

I have faith that all of the prophets from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson, are God’s representatives here on the Earth, and that they speak to and for Our Lord and Savior, and reveal the truths of the restored gospel.

And though Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and countless other apostles are imperfect men, who occasionally lead The Church astray by exhibiting the racist mistakes of their times, and make other mistaken prophecies, there is no doubt in my mind that Thomas S. Monson and his counselors clearly speak for The Lord when they tell us that marriage is between one man and one woman, and it will always be that way.”

 

I wonder at what point in the previous I would be asked to sit down.  Should you remain a believer and find yourself uncomfortable with any statement in the writing above, you may have some studying and thinking to do.

Defending the Indefensible

In one of the most asinine articles I’ve ever read, Daniel Petersen of The Deseret News, the LDS-owned, for profit, pseudo-news source  in Salt Lake City, attempts one of the lamest, most intellectually devoid defenses of Joseph Smith’s seer-stone & hat method of “translating” The Book of Mormon:

Consider a smartphone or e-reader, for instance. Their screens are very difficult to read out in the sunlight and need to be shaded. Or consider your personal computer. You probably don’t place it directly in front of a window where bright light will be streaming into your face. You need contrasting darkness so that you can see the screen without strain, and especially so if you’ll be working on it for lengthy periods. Otherwise, your eyes will tire and your head will ache.

Technology companies often solve this problem by making the display brighter, but apparently having Joe stick his head in The Hat was a more convenient “darkroom” for The LORD.

Mr. Petersen does not address the obvious impediments of dictating with one’s face in a hat; the muffling of Joseph Smith’s voice and the toll it must have taken to yell through the fabric of the hat. <end sarcasm – maybe>

Mr. Petersen goes on, in stunning fashion, to admit that the golden plates upon which The Book of Mormon was written, weren’t even necessary to the translation process:

According to those familiar with the process, he [Joseph Smith] dictated the Book of Mormon from words that somehow appeared in a “seer stone” or (much the same thing) in the Urim and Thummim. He rarely if ever actually had the plates with him; he couldn’t read what was on them except through revelation anyway, and he could receive revelation (via the “interpreters”) just as easily without the plates as with them.

Once you believe that everything is possible, anything is possible.  If the plates weren’t necessary, why was the stone?  Why not just the hat?  While we’re asking that question, why not just close his eyes and read the words off the inside of his eyelids?

His scribes needed light in order to work, but it’s quite understandable that Joseph sought to reduce the fatigue of his eyes by using a hat to exclude the ambient light.

The implications of this, however, are intriguing. A manuscript hidden in the bottom of a hat would be difficult if not impossible to read.

Petersen seems to believe that the only likely method of committing a fraud on the scale of The Book of Mormon is for Joe to be working alone and fooling his scribes.  Of course, if his “scribes” were doing more than writing, it could make such a deception much less complicated.  Oliver Cowdery, one of Smith’s scribes, just happened to be a distant cousin of Smith’s mother, and also happened to attend the same church of the pastor who authored ‘View of the Hebrews’, which strongly suggested that Native Americans were of Jewish descent.  Sound familiar?  If they wrote the book together, they wouldn’t have needed the hat, except to keep up appearances for visiting financiers.

It appears, thus, that Joseph was dictating from an unfamiliar text. It also seems likely that what he was reading provided its own independent light source, such that he could read it even with ordinary light excluded, in what one historian famously called “a world lit only by fire.”

For anyone who has ready anything but the official LDS version of history, the only thing that seems ‘likely’ in this story is that Joseph Smith was a talented “Glass Looker” in a gullible and trusting society.

Bowing to an Empty Throne

For this entry, I’d like to take a step back from anything specific about religious beliefs or religious organizations and look at  the wider subject.

If you are a believer, I’d ask you consider, just for a moment, that God suddenly disappeared. Maybe God was here before, but no more. Suddenly and instantly this universe is godless. What might change?

Would some truly evil people use deceit in order to gain wealth? Would some truly good people be deceived because of their charity and empathy and finish their lives destitute and begging?

Regardless of their religion and the prayers said or not said on their behalf, would some people suddenly find their cancer in remission? Would others, regardless of their religion and the prayers said or not said on their behalf, die in pain from the same cancers?

Would natural disasters strike seeming random locations – killing believers and non-believers alike, completely indifferent to individual faith?

Could gravity still hold Earth in its orbit for the next several million years? Would the sun rise each morning? Set each night? The moon continue to pull up the tides on a predictable and regular schedule?

How might you act differently? Would you know right from wrong without spiritual guidance? Would evil have control over your actions? Convince you to lie? Cheat? And steal?

On the other hand, if there suddenly was a God, I would expect a great deal to change. I’d expect that everyone who faithfully belonged to God’s chosen sect would never get sick. They’d never be cheated for being charitable. They’d never go cold or hungry. If, for some reason, a faithful servant did get cancer, or diabetes, or other chronic disease, prayers and blessings should ALWAYS work – otherwise, what is their purpose? Prayer would always work, thereby saving the rest of the congregation from having to uncomfortably rationalize away the many documented failures.

When I look out upon the cosmos, the universe seemingly behaves as I have described its godless version; chaotic and indifferent. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. Good things happen to good people. Bad things happen to bad people. We sometimes get what our hearts most desire, and more often we don’t. The physical laws of the universe act as indifferently as one might expect them to do. Hurricanes flood Christian homes. Earthquakes bury Buddhists. Tsunamis drown Hindus. Disease kills the young, the old, the innocent, and the evil alike. In short, the universe works almost precisely as if God isn’t there. Maybe He isn’t. Maybe He never was.

As famed French scientist Laplace once sternly quipped when asked why he hadn’t mentioned God in his lengthy description of solar system mechanics, “I have no need of that hypothesis.”

Neither do I. I’ll find my awe in the stunning, glorious, and unsympathetic chaos.