Thursday, May 30, 2013

Demon Possession Made Easy

Via Scotteriology:

This list is like the Oprah of demon possession!  You get a demon! You get a demon! Everybody gets a demon!  According to this list I have about 8 demonic doorways into my life*.  How did you score?

Seriously though, Vampirism? Lycanthropy? LEVITATION?  Do I really have to explain to adult humans that those things aren't real? Good grief Charismatic Christians, you know I love you but you guys are gullible as fuck! I'm not saying you are fucking stupid if you believe in this.  I'm just saying that if someone concluded you were fucking stupid for believing vegetarianism makes you demon possessed I wouldn't blame them for reaching that conclusion!

Also just FYI - those Bible verses at the bottom doesn't actually relate to most things on that list!

*Not going to tell you but you're free to guess!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Passing the Persecution Envy Torch

I've written more than once about the strange phenomenon called Persecution Envy:

"Persecution Envy (not to be confused with Jihad Envy) is a mutant strain of Christian Reality Denial Disease (CRDD). It causes some of the most fortunate, prosperous and free (aka blessed) people in the world to imagine that they are being discriminated against, persecuted and oppressed."

Now it seems the torch is being passed to the next generation.  Behold, The Thaw:

There is so much wrong here.  I thought about debunking the many false claims that video makes but a blog isn't really the best forum for that.  I could try an point out all the misinformation, half truths and blatant lies in that video but I think it may be more productive to talk about the deeper issue at play here.  It seems to me that these well off, well fed, un-imprisoned kids with the freedom to discuss their beliefs in a public forum are suffering from a severe lack of empathy.

I may be just a simple seminary dropout but I seem to remember the guy Christianity is named for saying something along the lines of, "Do to others as you would have them do to you."  Which is pretty much a statement about empathy is it not? So then I don't think I would be unreasonable to expect Christians to have some empathy.  And yet, we all just saw that video.

They make a lot of false claims in that video:  that they're not allowed to pray or read the Bible or talk about Jesus in school.  Even I - a filthy foreigner from the 3rd world - knows that is just blatantly false.  They can do all those things.  What's forbidden is for the school to tell you what to pray and who to pray to.  This is a pretty reasonable rule, unless of course you are completely devoid of empathy, like these kids (and the adults who made them this way).  Instead of being grateful for the protection of such a common sense rule, they seem to be deeply offended that they are not allowed to impose their beliefs on everyone else.  But what if the shoe was on the other foot?

What if school prayer was brought back, except it's Catholic prayers to the Virgin Mary, and you're a Baptist and you believe that's idolatry?  What if Scripture reading was mandatory but the Scripture in question was the Book of Mormon?  What if the God in your history books was Allah?  Does that still sound like something you would want, entitled young Christian?  No of course it isn't! You'd be feeling very oppressed and persecuted indeed and you would be right!! You would be oppressed, that really would be religious persecution!

So why would you want to do that to others then?  Shouldn't you rather offer them the freedom you would like offered to you?  No one is taking your freedom, please stop campaigning to take the freedom from everyone else.  Come on, it's the Golden Rule!  How can you hate it?

So, just one more time:

Are you free to do business? Are you free to take part in your country’s political system? Are you free to share your opinion in the press? Are your children welcomed in public schools? Are you able to work? Are you free to go to the church of your choice? Are you able to freely purchase and read a Bible? Do you have free access to Christian radio and television broadcasts? If you answered “yes” to these questions then you are most certainly not being persecuted. If you answered no you may want to consider moving.

Does your government ever raid your church? Are you forced by law to meet in secret? Are you in any danger of being shipped off to a concentration/internment/”re-education” camp for your religious beliefs? Are you forbidden to vote or run for office due to your religious beliefs? Are you legally forbidden from raising complaints about government policies? If you answered “no” to these questions then you are definitely not being persecuted.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Psycho God Test

Lets do a quick thought experiment.

You're sitting at home, enjoying dinner with your family when suddenly a SWAT team bursts though the doors and windows.  They grab your mother and beat her do a bloody pulp with their nightsticks right there in front of her family.  Then they drag her outside  and kick her until she loses consciousness after which one of the officers takes out his gun and shoots her in the back of the head.  Traumatized and horrified by what just happened, you ask "WHY?! Why did you do this?"  The officer closest to you tells you, "Because we found out she had been gossiping".

What is your response?  Do you say:

A - "Oh, right that does make sense.  We warned her that gossip was really bad.  I'm sad of course but she brought this on herself"



So which did you choose?  Did you pick B?  I hope you picked B, that was the only remotely sane option.  In fact I hope everyone would pick B.  Problem is, not everyone does.  A lot of people have to choose A because they believe that option A is the right, kind and loving option.  Despite any and all internal struggles this might provoke, they will have to pretend that is the right option, the good option.  They will have to do that because they are Christians and this is what they believe about their God.

That is a panel from a Chick tract aimed at children to teach them about heaven, hell and salvation.  See all the things that disqualify one for heaven?  Dirty thoughts, hate, gossip, lies, revenge and cruelty.  None of those are particularly nice but do you consider any of those unforgivable?  Do you consider those to be grounds for eternal torture?  I know I'm using a Chick tract here but this isn't some crazy fringe notion.  While not every Christian denomination believes this, a great many do.  Since earliest childhood this has been the message I've gotten in church - all sins are equally bad therefore doing even the most minor thing wrong makes you a sinner unworthy of God and deserving only of eternal torture in Hell.  Stealing a paperclip and killing someone is equally sinful.  There are no white lies, only lies. Dirty thoughts make you as guilty before God as dirty deeds would.  For a great example of this kind of reasoning, check out The Way of the Master's famous "Are you a good person?" evangelical tool.

So yeah, this is really what millions of Christians believe.  Funny thing, this is not what millions of Christians actually practice.  I'd like to think that most of them would read my little thought experiment and agree that yes, this is an insane way to react to something as insignificant as gossip.  This is because they go through their lives able to forgive small offenses.  Hell, they might even consider some offenses too small to actually count as offenses!  Isn't it odd how people can be more merciful, more kind, more loving and more forgiving than the perfectly merciful, kind, loving and forgiving God they pray to?  Somehow millions of people manage to be more moral than the alleged source of their morality.

If you wouldn't kill someone for saying a bad word, or for that matter thinking it, doesn't that make you better than a God who would?  Eternal torture for inconsequential, temporal wrongdoing seems like something only an insane psychopath would do because it is something only an insane psychopath would do.  Deep down, you know it's true.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

God loves you but His angels could take you or leave you!

You really can't trust angels.  OK maybe that's a little harsh.  Maybe you can totally trust an angel with a loan or something.  What you can't trust them with is their JOB.  A full three quarters of them are just going to blow it completely!  Or at least, that's the impression I got from this new Chick tract called: Four Angels?

If you thought Jack Chick's views on Christianity made no sense then I'm about to prove you right! I've been in some weird churches in my life but this here is some Grade A crazy!  Buckle up!  Here we go!

Meet the Sawyer family.  Well, most of them.  Pappa Sawyer is basically an extra with no lines in this story.  Frank, Bobby, Charlie and Henry are going spend the rest of this tract living the Parable of the sower.  Spoiler Alert - this is really only going to work out well for one of the Sawyers...

Now meet the titular four angels (they don't get names).  One of them is there on a mission from God!  The other three, not sure.  Maybe they thought they were going on a beer run or something and got tricked into coming to the Revival meeting just like the Sawyers!  As the rest of the tract will show, they're clearly not here because they're heavily invested in the whole "angel" thing.

Henry's angel is the one with a mission so he's the one taking the whole "guardian angel" thing seriously.  His job is to keep Henry safe so he takes on that snake like a damn honeybadger!  In case you were interested, Hebrews 1:14 reads "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"  As this tract will go on to demonstrate, the answer (at least according to Jack Chick) is a resounding "Eh, not so much".

Real True Christians know that the best thing for a small child is to tell them they are terrible and that they deserve to be tortured for endless eons.  Fear is the path to the Dark Side and also to Jesus it seems!

See?  Little Henry doesn't convert because he loves Jesus or because he finds the Gospel compelling or because he desires God in any way.  Little Henry converts because he is crap-your-pants terrified of going to Hell.  As we go on you'll see that this is not a bug, it's a feature.  Of course, as the highlighted text points out, you're out of luck here if you don't get the "believe in your heart" thing just right.  As a child this kept me constantly doubting my own salvation and led to many a "re-dedication".  As the Slacktivist recently pointed out, I wasn't alone in this, it's how Evangelicals do business.  Can you see the complete lack of enthusiasm in the other 3 angels?  Clearly they were told there would be cake!  Instead they're saddled with a job they have no enthusiasm for.

Poor Frank!  Because his guardian angel couldn't be bothered to call shotgun, he ends up getting chatted up by a devil while the angel rides in the back making his best judgy face.  Frank ends up hellbound because his guardian angel couldn't make five minutes worth of effort to help him out while being mentally assaulted by a demon.  Here's the thing though, none of this makes any sense.  Frank leaves the faith because a devil convinces him he looks stupid and his girl would leave him.  Frank then continues to live a life of outward piety and Christianity.  So what exactly changed?  Frank doesn't want people to think he's a Christian and yet anyone looking on who wasn't a mind reader would mistake Frank for a committed Christian who loves the Lord.  Also it couldn't have been that offensive to his girlfriend because she seems to be his wife now and sitting next to him and their kids in church.  This is the kind of nonsensical content that makes me believe that Jack Chick lives in a dark basement somewhere and that he's never actually met people.  This is not how people react when they reject the Gospel.  This is not how anyone acts.  Anyway, clearly Frank here is supposed to illustrate the idea that doing the right thing doesn't matter, only believing the right thing on the inside matters.

The same thing happens with Bobby.  He is forced to abandon his Christian faith in order to make it at work.  He then goes on to practice his Christian faith outwardly exactly as before.  So what changed?  Is his boss a mind reader?  Can the CEO of his company measure the faith in your heart come promotion time?  I guess he can, otherwise this entire story would make zero amount of sense.  Well, that's 2 angels back in heaven, breathing sighs of relief at the snack table.  They didn't put in a whole lot of effort but then again, they clearly weren't planning to.  Now we move on to brother Charlie.  Charlie gets to be the one thing Jack Chick hates more than Satanists and Homosexuals - a preacher who tells people that God is love.  There's an entire tract just about that called Reverend Wonderful (which I'm pretty sure is based on Billy Graham, but I can't prove it...)

So how did the good Reverend manage to drive off his personal angel? He looked at porn, which it turns out is angel kryptonite.  Turns out a Playboy is the equivalent of an exorcism for angels.  It's weird, angels are immortal spiritual beings who have been watching over humanity for their entire history.  That's thousands of years of seeing people get naked, even if you're a Young Earth Creationist.  But some boobs in a magazine just makes an angel go "I've seen enough" and run home? Sure...  Anyway, now you know - choking the chicken chokes the word!

Anyway so Charlie is a typical sleazy Televangelist, exactly like all the other Evangelical sleazebags.  Well... Not exactly...  Quick, off the top of your head name me five Mega church pastors!  Easy right?  It doesn't matter what you believe, these ministries are so obnoxiously big you know about them whether you want to or not.  OK, now name me one Christian Mega Ministry attended by people of all faiths.  I'll wait.  Can't do it, can you?  That's not a real thing that exists in our world.  They may be sleazy, they may be greedy, they may be telling you whatever you want to hear, but at no point in history has any Christian Megachurch ever been frequented by Muslims, Hindus and Jews.  Jack Chick doesn't understand the basics of the English Language.  To him the world is made up of Real Christians and Everyone Else and therefore Everyone Else must basically be all on the same team.

Now we return to little Henry.  No longer little but still somehow sporting a band-aid on his face.  Henry is the success story and no wonder since he's the one who got the guardian angel who actually cares about his job.  Like a teacher that refuses to give up on a tough class, this angel has been working hard through the years, watching Henry's back and not giving up at the first sign of trouble like his 3 friends.  As a result, Henry is a committed Christian who has more compassion for the lost than 75% of God's own angels.  His guardian angel didn't quit on him and likewise he doesn't quit on the needy, even if the going is tough.  Henry is a good egg.

Or maybe not.  Here Henry decides to interpret Scripture as literally as possible in order to be as big a dick as possible to his famous brother.  Now I share Henry's deep and passionate dislike of sleazy Televangelists but isn't there an off chance that he would have been able to get through to his brother if he didn't just start acting like a huge fizzy douche right out the gate?

 Like I said, it's not that I disagree with Henry here on principle - exploitative megachurch pastors are the scum of the earth - but wow, he is not as great at picking damning Scriptures as he thinks he is.  Here is the entire verse of Jeremiah 48:10 "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood." Yeah, that verse isn't about telling preachers not telling folks they're going to hell, it's about God ordering the bloody destruction of Moab.  Just sayin'...  As for the quote from James, well that one is just sad.  In a modern English translation, that one reads "But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers."  It has nothing to do with having respect for people, it's about favoritism.  That's what happens when you read a translation from the 1600 as if it's exactly the same thing as modern English - you end up looking like a bit of a twat. 

Brother Charlie has been telling that God loves them instead of scaring them towards salvation with threats of hellfire.  Since this is a Chick tract, this probably won't end well for Charlie...

Suckers!  They gambled on God being progressive, kind and loving and it cost them dearly.  They should have listened to that fire & brimstone preacher in the tent - God will happily have you tortured for uncountable billions of years for not really truly believing in the Gospel! (In a Chick tract, He will...)  The porn was just the sin cherry on the sin sundae!

I don't want to start any blasphemous rumours but if this tract is right, 75% of converts will end up in hell because three quarters of the angels just can't be bothered to help out.  Be honest, those other 3 angels were kind of dicks amirite?  Mull that over while brother Butler plays us out!