Sunday, December 30, 2018

c) Intellectually Confronting Faith-Based thinking and Dogma Driven Deceptions

Why not challenge people to realize no human has ever been born capable of understanding the true “God Almighty of Light and Time, Creation and Love” ?

( 2018 was the climax of a decade long crescendo in my decades long effort to network with rationalists, scientists and science communicators, in what I fancied was our communal struggle to confront the dishonest nonsense that corporate funded science contrarians and select politicians were so successfully peddling to an under-informed and mostly disinterested public - and since New Year's Eve is upon us, I feel like collecting some of my favorite essays in an effort to summarize my perspective.  
This is half of a flier that I circulated at the Colorado Democratic Assembly and Convention and where I did my best to summarize a challenge to confront faith-based thinking and dogma driven deceptions - along with some retrospective at the end. )
The Memes Courier
    Colorado Democratic Assembly -  April 13, 2018  
Intellectually Confronting Faith-Based thinking and Dogma Driven Deceptions.

The opposing sides: Children of the Intellectual Enlightenment vs Faith-based dogmatism spearheaded by the evangelical movement (driven by wannabe oligarchs).  Winning at the polls is only half our challenge when well over a third of our country fully supports this amoral president and his white supremest bullying and his attacks upon our government and democratic institutions.  
Beyond winning in the 2018 elections, we need to nurture a massive grassroots movement of informed and engaged voters who are willing to confront faith-based delusional thinking on an individual level, while also standing behind those we elect to make sure they get their jobs done.
Faith-based thinking demands a rejection of serious science along with hostility towards learning from down to Earth evidence.  This attitude is enabled and reinforced by a constant flow of contrived high pitched fear-mongering and paranoid machinations towards “the other” be it different people or ideas.
Why have we allowed their religion and God a free pass?
When these people despise us and want to crush us?  Look at what they broadcast, it’s no secret.  The powers behind this movement are absolutists, and they do literally want to crush us and the governmental agencies and regulations that strive to protect our health and well-being, and they’re playing for keeps!
Why not challenge people to realize no human has ever been born capable of understanding the true “God Almighty of Light and Time, Creation and Love” ?  We are ALL self-absorbed with our own day to day struggles to survive and thrive, while all we see and hear and experience gets interpreted though our individual preconceptions, egos, insecurities and desires.  How can anyone of us presume to grasp something as aged and all encompassing as God?
Remind evangelicals that even their Bible, in the Book of Job spells out that God is beyond human understanding.  It makes sense.  After all, God’s Universe is over 13 billion years old, our planet Earth is about a 1/3rd of that.  Try to imagine the breadth of creation, the infinite folds within folds of cumulative harmonic complexity unfolding one day at a time.  That is what God embodies.  Can you imagine that? 
The true God Almighty can only be guessed at.  Which is why humans have created countless ingenious religious and philosophical shadow plays, since the dawn of man.  Ask yourself and others: How could such an entity be impressed with our petty repetitive, yet ultimately self-serving, worship?  Wouldn’t such a God of Creation and Love be paying more attention to how we are nurturing our brothers and sisters along with this Earth we all depend on?
There have been way too many decades of placid acquiescence to self-certain fantasy thinking which has allowed these people to completely unhinge themselves for our physical reality here on Earth, the one we depend on for our survival.  
God and religion may be a human need, but that doesn’t mean we can master it. God belongs inside our hearts and is reflected in our behavior, but instead its been hijacked by greed driven interests who demand denial of geophysical and humanistic realities.  
Which is okay when confined to the privacy of home and church, but making it the basis for public policy is lunatic. 
I’m not attacking God, I’m attacking the misuse of God’s name!  I’m asking for realistic humility, and a recognition that God is too big for personal relationships with humans who are already totally preoccupied with their own wants and needs during their short walk across Earth’s stage.
Then comes Jesus.  Why not put Jesus and his story into a more realistic light?  The Passion of Jesus, is beautiful, meaningful, and an endlessly useful parable for countless people.  But, he is not the ticket to an idyllic after-life.  
Jesus is a guide for this life.
To help us through our own times of trials and tribulations here on Earth, during our lives. 
Consider that in the course of many lives comes a time we must face our own mortal sins and failures.
Doing so successfully requires going through stages of personal crisis, reflection, pain and transformation that Jesus outlined for us and that his teachings and love can guide many through.  The process culminates with an annihilation of the self, a death on a cross of our own making.  
Time passes, if one has been honest there is a morning after, as we awake renewed.  Different, better than before, ready to continue living with a transformed appreciation and perspective, a reborn spirit.  
But, it’s not only our self-created crosses that Jesus speaks to.  Sometimes life deals out sudden overwhelming losses, Jesus can be there to comfort, guide and support some through the loss and darkness and back to another day and the sunlight.
All this is beautiful and necessary and this is what has given Christianity it’s staying power, Jesus as hope in suffering and an example to live by. As for Jesus as the one and only way to Heaven, that’s the stuff of fairytales and con-men seeking control over others.
Think about it in some depth.
What are we but a union between body and spirit?
Without your body, healthy or frail, liked or hated,
who are you, what are you?  
What can be experienced once we die and our bodies fall away?
The spirit and energy our bodily vessel held and nurtured through a lifetime, of growing and experiencing is released and absorbed by the living world you’ve just departed.  
There’s much beauty and peace to be found in that reality, but it takes deep understanding of Earth and time.
It can seem harsh, though from my personal experience I know truly substantive spiritual strength comes through deeper appreciation of Earth’s Evolution and its intimate connection with who and what I am.  

This is what provides me with a spiritual foundation and peace of mind in the face of death, that no preacher or Bible or words can come close to matching.
Today avaricious pick-pocket evangelical personalities have turned Christianity away from such purity and morphed it into a powerful business/political weapon of brainwashing and mind control for acquiring unheard of power and profits, tax free.  
Rationalists and Democrats have given all this a free pass for way too long - look at what this avoidance has gotten America.  Evangelicals and oligarchs and a lot of brainwashing elevating a clueless promoter, a demonstrable totally amoral, under-educated thug into our Oval Office.  A man who’s mentality never rises above narcissism, anger at others and self-enrichment.  This is what faith-based thinking achieved for our country. 
No one wants to talk about these things, but that’s exactly what affords them free reign.  Amoral evangelicals offer dogma, tribalism and fear of others along with loads of willful misunderstanding, lies, contrived distrust and hostility.  Resulting in a people who are completely unaware of the physical realities that make our comfortable lives possible.  Nor do they reflect any appreciation for the threads that bind societies together, anger and desire to hurt seems the best they got.
Children of the Enlightenment offer objective observations and learning based on experience and facts.  They have established Science, which could be said to be founded on the understanding: We need each other to keep ourselves honest.  
Science strives for honest constructive debate.  Opponents and their arguments/facts are honesty represented.  Mistakes are learning tools to better grasp the situation.  Achieving a better and honest understanding is the goal.  It has no absolutes, it’s substance is always provisional, awaiting more information, and always striving for better resolution.
Right-wing arguments, on the other hand, are dependent on hypotheticals; contrived hostility and suspicions; they erection straw men that ignore the true substance of their opponents’ arguments, plus a huge dollop of self-certainty and absolutism.  They use mistakes as bludgeons to further personal agendas with a haughty disregard for education or truth.  Dogma and self-certainty drives them, rational learning is their enemy.
Such childish, but increasingly threatening tactics ought to be called out, with compassion and a recognition that all sides have a lot to learn and a lot to offer.  Nevertheless, today’s egotistical blind self-certain faith-based rejection of unavoidable geophysical reality has got to confronted, lest today’s self-certain absolutism becomes tomorrow’s totalitarianism.
Citizenschallenge at gmail


notes 4/14/18 - Of Hope - and evangelical patriarchy's victimization complex.

As they say, in the end it’s like the blink of an eye.  

It’s done and I’m feeling good about it.  500 fliers, I stuck to my resolution and engaged with nearly 400 people, actually more, I’m not counting declines.  

Though I kept them to a minimum since I was targeting a specific audience, young, intelligent, serious looking like they were here for business.  Of course, scientific method loving people was there in my introduction and that sorted 'em out in a hurry, with over three thousand people I wasn't planning on wasting copies, or time, I was looking for the chorus and pretty much found them.  ;-) . 

Walking around scanning the crowd, you could say profiling.  In fact, I did say it, it was a good ice breaker.   Not that everyone was chronologically young, many were rather flattered to hear they made my liberal cut, exuding youthful vibes goes a long ways.    ;- )

Dare say I swept up a number self identified scientists, cool people, love the hard eye, yet willing ear, then some nice discussions.  Experiences like those lets me know that I'm not totally bonkers and that I best keep doing whatever it is I'm doing.  (Guess that's what 'bliss' - of the Joseph Campbell variety - is all about, no other options if one's going to be honest with oneself.)  

I had a basic pitch thought out and it held up fairly well through a couple hundred variations.  I was reassured at how many people engaged my intro question with stories and outlooks of their own, before returning back to the flier I was holding in my hand.

Would like to write about it sometime, but not tonight (nor this morning, I'm going home.) 

There is this last item, ironically in light of various discussions centered on evangelical amorality, hypocrisy and their blind-sidedness, after returning to my room, Dartagnan at Kos pointed me to this timely, illuminating opinion piece. 

I never thought about evangelical patriarchy quite this way.  Hessinger and Tobey wrote a column that's like a good hypothesis - it clears up a lot riddles.  As for my title, today at the Convention I saw the hope, the following describes the problem.  I’m quoting the first few paragraphs to get your interest, please read the full column, bet you'll find it time well spent.

By Guest Columnist/  | Posted Apr 11, 2018
Rodney Hessinger is a history professor at John Carroll University.  Kristen Tobey is an assistant professor of religion and the social sciences at John Carroll University.
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- The most recent Pew polls suggest that President Donald Trump hasn't just held his support amongst white evangelicals but actually has grown his support since the Stormy Daniels story took hold.

With his white evangelical support having dropped to 61 percent in December, Trump now enjoys 78 percent support, just a shade beneath the support he won from white evangelicals on Election Day. …

In fact, there are good reasons why we should expect this result. The history and sexual politics of evangelicalism in America fit well with Donald Trump and his message.

White evangelicals, particularly in the South, long ago lined up their party with "family values," which above all else has meant patriarchy.

As historian Christine Heyrman displayed in her classic book "Southern Cross," the authoritarian dynamic was central to Southern antebellum families. To win Southern hearts, evangelicals buttressed patriarchy, empowering fathers and looking the other way when they took prerogatives which crossed moral lines. …

But despite this early and enduring success, evangelicals still often see themselves as embattled outsiders. As sociologists of religion have observed, religious outsiders have much to gain from boundary maintenance, often courting outcast status or even persecution to rally the faithful.  …

January 31, 2018

My life time of witnessing, experiences, introspections and musings are woven into these observations and suggestions.  I'll admit, not receiving any follow up hurt.  Particularly after the interested and even enthusiastic responses I received when speaking with people on the Convention floor.  As I reread the above I have no apologies to make, my points are concise and rational and they provide some insights along with a good foundation for a lively constructive debate about standing up to faith-based deceptions.  But, apparently, it doesn't resonate with anyone.  Still trying to figure out that one.  As for the mediocre 2018 election results, they speak for themselves.  But it was the Democratic failure at the Kavanaugh hearing, that was my knockout punch.  So inept, still talking right past each other rather than focusing on the fundamentals of judicial impartiality, honesty, inappropriateness of passionate partisanship on the bench, specific examples of lying, the sexual misconduct, in that sort of order.  But no, same old script, obfuscation more than clarity.

I figure I've given it my best shot.  Too many tipping points disregarded.  After that what is there when the cascade of global political and physical events hurt too much?  Keep on keeping on, plenty to do around these 40 acres I'm fortunate to live on, plenty good people in my life, endless chores and challenges and my doggy.  Appreciating today for all its worth because the future promises a train of difficult and tragic surprises at this miserable point in humanity's game.  This time people aren't just taking down a civilization, this time we are taking down our entire biosphere along with us and our future.

I'm sure I'll continue sharing, but it feels different, I suspect something more akin to forlorn messages in a bottle, written for the relief writing provides more than anything.  


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