Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Understanding Christian Prejudices

One of the most irritating aspects of christians who have at least some knowledge of why they believe what they believe is the belief in the base nature of mankind. I think humans are naturally good and empathetic on the whole, and that their environments tend to damage their better and more altruistic impulses. But christianity disagrees with that position. They believe that only through god can our better natures be found. I found a well written explanation of that in the book "Reborn" by F. Paul Wilson. It is part of a multi-book sci-fi series that I am currently reading, and I thought I would share. This is a Jesuit priest speaking to a woman whose husband had just died a horrible death at the hands of others.

Priest: "A lot of adults never grow up when it comes to religion. They could never accept that Satan is just a symbolic externalization of the evil that lurks in all of us."
Widow:"But where does that evil in us come from?"
Priest: "From the merging of the spirit and the flesh. The spiritual part of us comes from God and wants to return to Him. The physical part of us is like a wild beast that wants what it wants when it wants it and doesn't care who gets hurt in its drive to get it. Life is a process of striking a balance between the two. If the spiritual part prevails, it is allowed to return to God when life is over. If the baser drives and emotions of the physical aspect taint the spirit too deeply, it is not allowed to return to God. That, Carol, is hell. Hell is not a fiery place with pitchfork-wielding demons. It's a state of being bereft of God's presence."

I found it interesting that the priest said that very few Jesuits believe in the existence of an actual Satan or Hell. It had the ring of truth to it, and I had always associated jesuit thought with a more intellectual approach to catholocism.

This crutch of needing to give yourself up to god in order to become a truly good person and to get to heaven is one of the most fundamental disagreements I have with xian thought. It leads to blaming god when things don't go well and writing problems off to "God's Will".

I find that attitude even more clearly in Islam. While xian fundamentalists have the country song "Jesus Take the Wheel" (Really? Your car starts to skid on ice as a metaphor for you life being out of control, and your best advice is to close your eyes, throw up your hand, and hope god steers your car/life away from the ditch. Really? But I digress.) muslims have the expression Insha'Allah or As God Wills.

I see that a lot in news reports and interviews on TV, and have had Muslim friends and acquaintances use it in situations where I think they would have been better off trying harder for the results they wanted. I think a touch of that attitude peeved Winston Churchill when he was talking about the muslim culture's "fearful fatalistic apathy."

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property—either as a child, a wife, or a concubine—must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proseltyzing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science—the science against which it had vainly struggled—the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.

Oh well, just railing against the Nine Billion Names of God on a Wednesday.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Life on the Edge

One of the problems I have with Obamacare is the implied ability of the FedGov to control our personal life choices or reducing care options available to us, in the name of keeping costs down.  We are already seeing that in England where people who are overweight aren't allowed to get hip or knee replacements.  Big private/public employers like insurance agencies and hospitals are mandating urine tests and refusing to hire people who test positive for nicotine.  Is caffeine next?

I'm fat.  On the "Fluffy" scale I am somewhere between DAMN! and Oh Hell No!!!  Is the government going to tell me what I can and can't eat?  Will I be allowed to get that bypass that I am probably going to needs someday?  Probably not if Obamacare takes over.  It may be a few years, but our freedoms are being slowly eroded in the name of safety.

Sure I should lose weight.  I don't enjoy being fat.  But I enjoy eating bad things and choose to make the trade off.  Every life choice has its downsides, and I am generally very happy with my life.  Government, leave me the hell alone.

You know they are going to come for the easy targets first.  The smokers and the fatties.  But that is just the beginning.  What about motorcyclists?  Heck, people who drive cars instead of the much safer mass transit.  All of these can be regulated in the name of health care once we give the government that power over us.

I wonder what they are going to do about these guys.