left biblioblography: March 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

MESSING WITH THE MINDS OF THIEVES

I got a notification from Chase Manhattan today. Funny thing is, I don’t HAVE an account with these folks. And yet, I got in my secondary email account. I KNOW there’s no account under the name of Reluctant Atheist: I’ve never done that.

I’ve developed a new way of dealing with these scheistkopfs: I log in, but not under any real name. Just to mess with them.

They’re getting better, BTW, so best to be careful: just recently, I was able to discern that the email I got from Amazon, when you hold the cursor over it, what shows in the bottom left hand corner is an IP address (you know, 174.1.3.678, or somethin’ like that).

This one from Chase was excellent. http://www.chase.com.ch-ht.com/account.php showed up, it all looked real.

So I logged in:

Login: buttugly

Password: eatmyshorts

Guess what? It let me in. What a surprise.

Prompted me for an ssn, credit card no., the whole works.

I put my mother’s name down as Eva Braun, my ssn was 666-66-6666, credit card #, all 6’s, etc.

So my advice to my readers: when you get this nonsense in your email (I located it in my secondary email account, you know, if you don’t have an Ebay account, and are being told it’s in danger of expiring), always try logging in with a fake name and password. If you CAN get in, hey, have some fun with it. Tell them your mom’s maiden name is Minnie Mouse, etc.

And always clean out your browser’s cache, afterwards. Just to be safe. Deep-six everything. I even rebooted (I’m on Winbloze), just to be safe.

Maybe if enough of us do this little dance, it’ll cut down on what I call the rape-mail. I doubt it, but one can only hope.

So, have fun

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

I MISS THE LOVE OF YOU


I miss the love of you,
The laugh of you, the length and width and depth of you
My chin resting on top of your hair, my arms around your tiny form
When we lay beside each other, the soft brush of your palm against my arm hair
Soft fingers cupping my face, your slim arm linked with mine as we walked
The tears of you, the laugh of you, the hula dance of you
That made us laugh together, weep together, make hot love together
Your tears on my shoulder, my tears upon yours
Your cinnamon skin against mine, my pink skin on yours
Your angel face asleep, as I watched, my hand feeling your breath

Longing for you still pricks my heart
But it becomes smaller with every year
Until
Tears become sighs, and wistful memory
Bereavement becomes autumn leaves
A suicide not of you took you from me
And so I dream of you, or chat on the phone with you
Remembrance of our happy days together

You needed a captain, one that I would not be
And so, you shipped out on a berth of dreamery delusions
As I waved from the shore, tears glistening in coming grief
And occasionally, your message in a bottle comes to me
Over the wires, and we talk, distant strangers with fond memories of one another
But I still wish, sometimes, that you sat in my lap again, or dance for me, or walk with me, or love with me
But I set you free, and you ran into the arms of your invisible hero, from your youth

Do not weep for me: I am almost content alone
For I have been alone most of my life, and I get along with me
But I will always miss the love of you
Always

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ÉCRASEZ L'INFÂME!


(Translation: ‘Crush the infamous thing!”)

I am going to attempt to embark on a series of tributes to men who in no small part contributed deeply to our developing civilization, men to whom we owe a great debt to, especially in no small part we atheists owe more than we could possibly repay.

I begin this with my all-time favorite Frenchman: Voltaire. It was in some small part (due to his writings) that I chose my current path. His wit, his knowledge, his biting satire that even kings feared, has had no small impact on our world today.

Allow me a bit of writer’s intrusion, as to his profound effect on my life.
I often tell the story of how I became an atheist. A friend (Born-again, 2 decades) had sent me both a KJV and McDowell’s Evidence That Demands A Verdict. A rapacious reader, I read the latter twice. Something was wrong with it: rather, a number of somethings. One of those somethings was McDowell’s attack on Voltaire, denouncing him as an infidel; railing against Voltaire’s prediction that xtianity would perish, proclaiming the deceased as lost in the annals of history. I’d always been peripherally aware of Arouet (often quoting his famous Le sens commun n'est pas si commun, Common sense is not so common), and so I did what few true believers do: I researched the injured party. It was reading his works that made me aware of the contradictions in the Gospels: I’d had no inkling there was any contestation whatsoever. So it began. I owe this man a profound debt, which sadly I can never repay.

Voltaire was born “Francois Marie Arouet, who first made a name for himself among the refined patrons of the French salons. He applied his wit and knowledge to writing poetry and political treatises, often incurring the wrath of the French government and the church. Perhaps his most famous work is his novel Candide (1759), with its common sense conclusion that we must "cultivate our garden.” Voltaire influenced political theorists, philosophers, educators and historians, and is one of the most celebrated citizens in the history of France.” From http://www.answers.com/topic/voltaire?method=22.

Here is a link to his online works: http://oll.libertyfund.org/Texts/Voltaire0265/Works/0060-04_Bk.html.

And, of course, some choice quotes:

“Several learned men have testified their surprise at not finding in the historian, Flavius Josephus, any mention of Jesus Christ; for all men of true learning are now agreed that the short passage relative to him in that history has been interpolated. The father of Flavius Josephus must, however, have been witness to all the miracles of Jesus. Josephus was of the sacerdotal race and akin to Herod’s wife, Mariamne. He gives us long details of all that prince’s actions, yet says not a word of the life or death of Jesus; nor does this historian, who disguises none of Herod’s cruelties, say one word of the general massacre of the infants ordered by him on hearing that there was born a king of the Jews. The Greek calendar estimates the number of children murdered on this occasion at fourteen thousand. This is, of all actions of all tyrants, the most horrible. There is no example of it in the history of the whole world.”

“Yet the best writer the Jews have ever had, the only one esteemed by the Greeks and Romans, makes no mention of an event so singular and so frightful. He says nothing of the appearance of a new star in the east after the birth of our Saviour—a brilliant phenomenon, which could not escape the knowledge of a historian so enlightened as Josephus. He is also silent respecting the darkness which, on our Saviour’s death, covered the whole earth for three hours at midday—the great number of graves that opened at that moment, and the multitude of the just that rose again.
“The learned are constantly evincing their surprise that no Roman historian speaks of these prodigies, happening in the empire of Tiberius, under the eyes of a Roman governor and a Roman garrison, who must have sent to the emperor and the senate a detailed account of the most miraculous event that mankind had ever heard of. Rome itself must have been plunged for three hours in impenetrable darkness; such a prodigy would have had a place in the annals of Rome, and in those of every nation. But it was not God’s will that these divine things should be written down by their profane hands.
“The same persons also find some difficulties in the gospel history. They remark that, in Matthew, Jesus Christ tells the scribes and Pharisees that all the innocent blood that has been shed upon earth, from that of Abel the Just down to that of Zachary, son of Barac, whom they slew between the temple and the altar, shall be upon their heads.”
“Let us consider the state of religion in the Roman Empire at that period. Mysteries and expiations were in credit almost throughout the earth. The emperors, the great, and the philosophers, had, it is true, no faith in these mysteries; but the people, who, in religious matters, give the law to the great, imposed on them the necessity of conforming in appearance to their worship. To succeed in chaining the multitude you must seem to wear the same fetters.”

Interesting:
“Tertullian goes farther; and from the recesses of Africa, where he resided, he says, in his “Apology”—chap. xxiii.—“If your gods do not confess themselves to be devils in the presence of a true Christian, we give you full liberty to shed that Christian’s blood.” Can any demonstration be possibly clearer?”


Intriguing:
“In the year 314, before Constantine resided in his new city, those who had persecuted the Christians were punished by them for their cruelties. The Christians threw Maxentius’s wife into the Orontes; they cut the throats of all his relations, and they massacred, in Egypt and Palestine, those magistrates who had most strenuously declared against Christianity. The widow and daughter of Diocletian, having concealed themselves at Thessalonica, were recognized, and their bodies thrown into the sea. It would certainly have been desirable that the Christians should have followed less eagerly the cry of vengeance; but it was the will of God, who punishes according to justice, that, as soon as the Christians were able to act without restraint, their hands should be dyed in the blood of their persecutors.”

And this:
“It is said, sometimes, that common sense is very rare. What does this expression mean? That, in many men, dawning reason is arrested in its progress by some prejudices; that a man who judges reasonably on one affair will deceive himself grossly in another. The Arab, who, besides being a good calculator, was a learned chemist and an exact astronomer, nevertheless believed that Mahomet put half of the moon into his sleeve.
How is it that he was so much above common sense in the three sciences above mentioned, and beneath it when he proceeded to the subject of half the moon? It is because, in the first case, he had seen with his own eyes, and perfected his own intelligence; and, in the second, he had used the eyes of others, by shutting his own, and perverting the common sense within him.
How could this strange perversion of mind operate? How could the ideas which had so regular and firm a footing in his brain, on many subjects, halt on another a thousand times more palpable and easy to comprehend? This man had always the same principles of intelligence in him; he must have therefore possessed a vitiated organ, as it sometimes happens that the most delicate epicure has a depraved taste in regard to a particular kind of nourishment.
How did the organ of this Arab, who saw half of the moon in Mahomet’s sleeve, become disordered? —By fear. It had been told him that if he did not believe in this sleeve his soul, immediately after his death, in passing over the narrow bridge, would fall forever into the abyss. He was told much worse—if ever you doubt this sleeve, one dervish will treat you with ignominy; another will prove you mad, because, having all possible motives for credibility, you will not submit your superb reason to evidence; a third will refer you to the little divan of a small province, and you will be legally impaled.
All this produces a panic in the good Arab, his wife, sister, and all his little family. They possess good sense in all the rest, but on this article their imagination is diseased like that of Pascal, who continually saw a precipice near his couch. But did our Arab really believe in the sleeve of Mahomet? No; he endeavored to believe it; he said, “It is impossible, but true—I believe that which I do not credit.” He formed a chaos of ideas in his head in regard to this sleeve, which he feared to disentangle, and he gave up his common sense.”
On Biblical contradictions:” If St. Matthew alone makes mention of the three magi, and of the star which guided them to Bethlehem from the remote climes of the East, and of the massacre of the children; if the other evangelists take no notice of these events, they do not contradict St. Matthew; silence is not contradiction.”
“If the three first evangelists—St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke—make Jesus Christ to have lived but three months from his baptism in Galilee till his crucifixion at Jerusalem; and if St. John extends that time to three years and three months, it is easy to approximate St. John to the other evangelists, as he does not expressly state that Jesus Christ preached in Galilee for three years and three months, but only leaves it to be inferred from his narrative. Should a man renounce his religion upon simple inferences, upon points of controversy, upon difficulties in chronology?
“It is impossible, says Meslier, to harmonize St. Mark and St. Luke; since the first says that Jesus, when he left the wilderness, went to Capernaum, and the second that he went to Nazareth. St. John says that Andrew was the first who became a follower of Jesus Christ; the three other evangelists say that it was Simon Peter.
“He pretends, also, that they contradict each other with respect to the day when Jesus celebrated the Passover, the hour and place of His execution, the time of His appearance and resurrection. He is convinced that books which contradict each other cannot be inspired by the Holy Spirit; but it is not an article of faith to believe that the Holy Spirit inspired every syllable; it did not guide the hand of the copyist; it permitted the operation of secondary causes; it was sufficient that it condescended to reveal the principal mysteries, and that in the course of time it instituted a church for explaining them. All those contradictions, with which the gospels have been so often and so bitterly reproached, are explained by sagacious commentators; far from being injurious, they mutually clear up each other; they present reciprocal helps in the concordances and harmony of the four gospels.
“And if there are many difficulties which we cannot solve, mysteries which we cannot comprehend, adventures which we cannot credit, prodigies which shock the weakness of the human understanding, and contradictions which it is impossible to reconcile, it is in order to exercise our faith and to humiliate our reason.”
A few more:
http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/voltaire.htm
Of all religions the Christian is without doubt the one, which should inspire tolerance most, although up to now the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.-- Voltaire, from Harry Elmer Barnes, An Intellectual and Cultural History of the Western World (1937) p. 766, quoted from Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom
Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.-- Voltaire, quoted from James A. Haught in "Honest Minds, Past and Present" Talks for History of Freethought conference Sept. 20-21, 1997, Cincinnati, Ohio sponsored by Council for Secular Humanism and Free Inquiry Group
Every sensible man, every honest man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.-- Voltaire, quoted from James A. Haught in "Honest Minds, Past and Present" at the Talks for History of Freethought conference Sept. 20-21, 1997, Cincinnati, Ohio sponsored by Council for Secular Humanism and Free Inquiry Group
“Which is more dangerous: fanaticism or atheism? Fanaticism is certainly a thousand times more deadly; for atheism inspires no bloody passion whereas fanaticism does; atheism is opposed to crime and fanaticism causes crimes to be committed.” -- Voltaire (attributed: source unknown) ††
There is, of course, more to this man than his aversion to organized religion. He fought the good fight: did so with a brilliant mind, and a sharp tongue: his dry satire is an inspiration to read, and recommended to any who seek to further themselves. He battled injustice on many fronts.
Would that I were as worthy as he.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

BUKOWSKI – BORN INTO THIS - 1920-1994

BUKOWSKI – BORN INTO THIS 1920-1994

I watched the DVD last night. Remarkable. Hard drinking, party animal, jagged poet, damaged goods. All this, and still a power, a prime mover, a voice in the wilderness crying “Bullshit!”

These words were spoken: so full, strong, that I paused for each stanza, and wrote them down. Here it is: THE GENIUS OF THE CROWD

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art

These words struck me also:

When the spirit wanes, the form appears.

Both these poems show more insight than I have words.

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J’ACCUSE!


What if you did?
What if you lied?
What if I avenge?
What if eye for an eye?
What if your words could be judged like a crime?”

Creed – What if?

I’m going to level a fairly strong accusation here – one that’s been burning in the back of my mind since the 2000 election debacle.

The time for silence is long past.

http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html  - Umberto Eco


1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages -- in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia.
This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, "the combination of different forms of belief or practice;" such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth.
As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.
[Snipped]
We’re seeing this all the time. Education, and the advancement thereof, is in the sorriest state ever in this country. Of course, we see the bulldozing of basic civil rights, loss of liberties, all this done in the tradition of religion. Of course, the conservative bewails the loss of all the trappings of the ‘good ole days’, blissfully unaware of the extravagant costs incurred. Or, as Ned Flanders put it so aptly: “I miss the good old days, that were only good in my own mind.” (paraphrase)
2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.
Both Fascists and Nazis worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.
Again, religion. Not individually based, no: these covert Theonomists. These faith-based initiatives. Our prez is taking advice from God, no less. The slandering of those ‘pinko commie liberals!’
3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action's sake.
Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering's fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play ("When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun") to the frequent use of such expressions as "degenerate intellectuals," "eggheads," "effete snobs," and "universities are nests of reds." The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.
I don’t know where to begin with this. We see dissent squelched, criticism silenced, academic professors defamed for speaking up. Any thought given to pointing out illogic is shouted down, bullied out of the political arena.
Oh, does this sound familiar? “We’ve got to do something?” Blasting straight into Iraq, hell bent for leather, no questions asked? The slur of ‘Pseudo Intellectual’ spewed from sputtering, foam-flecked lips, an accusation that has no meaning whatsoever!
4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.
In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.
See commentary above.
5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.
Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.
Hmmm. Who’s the latest on the list of fear of difference?
Arab Islamists. Or, as Carlos Mencia put so well, “When 9/11 happened, the blacks and Mexicans ran over, tagged the Arabs, and said, ‘You’re it!’ (Paraphrased).
6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.
That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old "proletarians" are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.
Gee, why do I think of Fox News when I read #6?
7. To people whom feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.
This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson's The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.
Sound the least bit familiar? Thanks, Woodrow Wilson, you asshole. We had an ‘Evil Empire’, they’re gone now, so we have the looming specter of Islamo-Fascism, wielding a bloody scimitar, just over the horizon.
8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.
Why do I think of Iraq when I read that last sentence?
9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.
Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such "final solutions" implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.
Carrot on a stick syndrome, coupled with the Chicken Little Syndrome, coupled with…oh, too many to list here, I think. ‘With us or against us!’ ‘Giving aid and comfort to the enemy’, when the slightest criticism arises.
Pavlovian conditioning, with no true reward in sight.

10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.
Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.

We see this constantly in this country: ‘Homeless people choose to be that way’, or ‘Why didn’t the poor folk in New Orleans just pick up and leave?’, or even B. Bush’s idiotic remark. Yeah, let’s blame the victim, rather than seeking solutions. Our national identity out of control, spiraling downward. It’s one thing to be proud of one’s nation: it’s another entirely to look down the collective nose at any who are not citizens.
11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.
In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la Muerte ("Long Live Death!"). In non-fascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.
And here we have yet another bubble to burst: Americans are no better than, or no worse than, anyone else on this damn planet. It’s one thing entirely to take some sort of pride in our country – it is the best damn government this world’s ever seen – but by no means are we automatically the member of some race of ubermensche upon birth, or citizenship. National identity doth make fools of its citizens.
12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.
This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.
Gee, do the phrases gay marriage and abortion ring a bell with anyone?

13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view -- one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People are conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.
Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against "rotten" parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.

Oh my. Between the argument from popularity, the complete emasculation of the Democratic Party, the ‘Oh, I guess we’ve got to trade in a few liberties for safety’, I think this fits in very well with our current administration.

14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.
Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.

Gee willikers, don’t that ring a few bells. Between commercial jingoism, talk-show vocabulary, constant reframing (the infamous ‘Free Speech Zones’ spring immediately to mind, implemented by Clinton, but abused by Bush)
* * *
Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, "I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares." Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt's words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: "If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land." Freedom and liberation are an unending task.

I see all these symptoms – have seen them for some time – in this country. It saddens me to say this: but our country is falling under the black flag of fascism. We as citizens must tear down this flagpole, reclaim our nation, ere it becomes a hollow echo of that which we once loved. This is our country, our nation. It belongs not to the religious, the conservatives, nor does it belong to the liberals, the gay population, or any other majority or minority one can name:

It belongs to all of us. To discriminate against one citizen is to discriminate against us all.

I will gladly take correction, if I am off in any of this.

Please tell me I’m wrong.

Please.

“It is the duty of the patriot to defend his country against its government” – Paine.
“My country, right or wrong: right to keep right, wrong to make right.” - Stephen Decatur

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Monday, March 27, 2006

“WE’RE GOING IN ANYWAYS!”


What a surprise.

This news item, about one of my least favorite people in the world, the Shrub, surfaced today.

Bush told Blair determined to invade Iraq without UN resolution or WMD

Mon Mar 27, 2:13 AM ET
NEW YORK (AFP) - US

President George W. Bush made clear to British Prime Minister Tony Blair in January 2003 that he was determined to invade Iraq without a UN resolution and even if UN arms inspectors failed to find weapons of mass destruction in the country, The New York Times reported.

Man-o-man, am I pissed off. Sadly, not surprised in the slightest. Son of a bitch. Spoiled little Texan millionaire. Ain’t bad enough he helps screw up the economy, steals the election thanks to activist judges, he also makes (bad) decisions based on the little voice in his head.

Yeah, ‘god told him to’. Great basis to make decisions on. Let’s never mind this asshole was told, by Pat Robertson (in a rare moment of lucidity for that madman) that there’d be casualties, only to dismiss it with an egotistical shrug of his shoulders, and a “There won’t be any casualties.” Let’s just turn a blind eye to the obvious. Not to mention Iraq wants us out of there now.

Can you say ‘sock puppet’, boys and girls?

Thanks to stardust for this quote, which pretty much sums it up in a nutshell.

"President Dwight Eisenhower, Republican, uttered these words on November 8, 1954:"
"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

I say we impeach this bozo. Who’s with me?

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

JACKASS! (NO, NOT THE MOVIE)


This Sunday’s sermon involves the second instance of a talking animal in the OT: Francis the talking mule (Balaam’s ass, no less!).

This is just hysterical, on so many levels, scatological or otherwise, so I’m not sure just where to begin.

Let’s start from the top.

Apparently, Balaam was the only creature gifted with the ability to ‘see god’s wrath’. In accordance with this, he of course receives major favors. The Moabian king, Balak, orders Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam refuses to, based on a nocturnal emission (oops! Sorry! Dream) from on high. There’s the hilarious respite, where only the ass sees the Angel standing in Bal’s way, as following:

Num 22:20 And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, [and] go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.


Okay, so Balaam (Bal) is given the okay.


Num 22:21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
Num 22:22 And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants [were] with him.

This crosses my eyes a bit: didn’t he just get a divine permission slip?

Num 22:23 And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.

Here’s a guy, who can (allegedly) foretell the wrath of YHVH: you’d think seeing an angel would be a cakewalk.

Num 22:24 But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall [being] on this side, and a wall on that side.
Num 22:25 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again.


So here we have Balaam kicking his own ass. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

Num 22:26 And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where [was] no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
Num 22:27 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.


Good thing PETA didn’t exist back then.
So then Francis pipes up:

Num 22:28 And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

This kind and pleasant gentleman replies:

Num 22:29 And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.

Guess that he witnessed YHVH’s wrath so much, it was a matter of projection, eh?

Num 22:30 And the ass said unto Balaam, [Am] not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since [I was] thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.


Most people would probably respond, “No, but then you never spoke before, either.”

Num 22:31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.


Why have his ass be the go-between in the first place? Talk about bugfuckery.

Num 22:32 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because [thy] way is perverse before me:


Ummm…ain’t that how people (in that timeframe) handled obstinate donkeys? They’re not the brightest of creatures, not to mention the legendary stubbornness.

Num 22:33 And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.


Which old Bal knew, how?

Num 22:34 And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.


So get this:

Num 22:35 And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.


Here we have this divine, omnipotent being, who could’ve avoided the ENTIRE EPISODE, by including this little bit in Bal’s nocturnal, er, um, musings.


I’ve chanced across a re-interpretation here, http://www.egodeath.com/EgoDeathAndMythReligion.htm that extrapolates that this may be a revamp of the Minotaur myth. Not an adherent just yet: providing this, as some interesting reading is all. NOTE: this website is all OVER the place, so it’s a kick and a giggle at best.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balaam

“While speaking animals are a common feature of folklore, the only other case in the Old Testament is that of the serpent in Eden. Classical Jewish commentators, such as Saadia Gaon, and Maimonides, taught that a reader should not take this part of the story literally. Rather, they explained, it should be read as an account of a prophetic experience, which are experienced as dreams, or as visions, and consequently, the donkey did not actually speak. Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz, one of the great Jewish biblical commentators of the 20th century, writes that these verses
depict the continuance on the subconscious plane of the mental and moral conflict in Balaam's soul; and the dream apparition and the speaking donkey is but a further warning to Balaam against being misled through avarice to violate God's command'.
Similar views have been held by E. W. Hengstenberg and other Christian scholars, though others, e.g. Voick, regard the statements about the ass speaking as figurative; the ass brayed, and Balaam translated the sound into words.”
Color me curious, and turn the page: I wonder how the literalist interprets this bit of skullduggery?
Oooohhhh, riiiiggghhtt….’allegory’.

This also gives us some amusing wordplay/innuendoes, such ass:

http://www.searchingtogether.org/articles/johnson/imputation.htm

“but the Spirit of God was not in Balaam, nor in Balaam's ass”

One can only hope NOT.

http://www.nathanielturner.com/balaamsass.htm

“But I tell you, if the Spirit of God can enter into Balaam’s ass and cause him to see the Angel of our Lord and speak the words of Yahweh”

Ouch. Or ooohhh, depending on your, um, erogenous zones?

What an ass. Figuratively, metaphorically, literally, or otherwise.

The moral here, boys and girls, is this:

We have medication to treat these symptoms now. Back then; it was ‘divine intervention’.

And that, dear readers, is my nickels worth. Flip a coin, or spend it: up to you.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM


This caught my eye today: (coupled with a recent post):

Sleep Deprivation: The Great American Myth

“People who get only 6 to 7 hours a night have a lower death rate than those who get 8 hours of sleep. —From a six-year study of more than a million adults.

“Many Americans are sleep-deprived zombies, and a quarter of us now use some form of sleeping pill or aid at night.
“Wake up, says psychiatry professor Daniel Kripke of the University of California, San Diego. The pill-taking is real but the refrain that Americans are sleep deprived originates largely from people funded by the drug industry or with financial interests in sleep research clinics. “
Having been a textbook insomniac (until recently, that is), this is of particular interest to me. Mostly due to my overactive cortex.
I’ve walked down this road many times. Tried everything, from cough syrup (yechh!) to melatonin. Most sleep aids induce what is known as a ‘false sleep pattern’: basically, it induces a pattern on the ingester.
I don’t use any of this nonsense any more, I’m proud to say. Melatonin is actually one of the better aids on the market, as it’s more natural (read: hormonal in nature), but it’s best used as an antidote to jet lag (from what I’ve read).
Mostly, it’s a combination of a very physical job, a very physical work-out, eating right, and cutting out the coffee in the afternoon. Old Garfield strip: “Now for a hot cup of java”, “Now for a good night’s sleep”, “Now for a bout of insomnia”.
Not to mention, that sleep is a necessary ingredient to peace of mind. The mind’s method of cleaning out the excess garbage of the day’s toil.
TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) holds that oversleep is the sign of a corrupted spirit. I don’t know about spirit: but it’s hard to argue with that sluggishness one feels going past nine hours.
And the old adage goes like so:
Confucius and some students were walking past a graveyard. One of the students whines, “Can we rest, master?” To which, Confucius points to the graveyard, and says, “Plenty of time for that later.”
There’s a lot to this subject. In adulthood, sleep is something we need to sacrifice on occasion. There’s also that remnant from childhood: it’s a treat to stay up late. Most of that due to the fact the child (and most adults) are afraid they’re going to miss something of portent. We also have those idiotic commercials (“Who needs sleep?”), as if sleep itself contributes loss of opportunity.
There are those cultures, which postulate that one’s dream life is as important as the waking life. I couldn’t agree more.

In short: rest up. Just don’t rest TOO much.

“For in this sleep of death, what dreams may come.”

And that, dear readers, is my nickel’s worth. Go ahead and sleep on that. Get back to me in the morning.


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Friday, March 24, 2006

TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK: ABERRANT BEHAVIOR IN THE ‘FALSE’ CHRISTIANS


Normally, I don’t comment very often on current affairs. Usually, idle speculation flowers into biased gossip, which then blossoms into some imbecilic meme that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.

In this case, I found this example most intriguing: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/pastor_slain - Authorities Say Minister's Wife Confesses
There will be those who cry ‘Unrepresentative sample fallacy,’ but I find that these seem to be represented more and more in the press lately. True enough, you don’t read about the other some-odd millions who behave themselves, but this raises an eyebrow on me.

From the article:
“Matthew Winkler was hired at the Fourth Street Church in February 2005, said Wilburn Ash, an elder at the church. The congregation quickly came to love his straight-by-the-Bible sermons. Church members also took to his wife, who they described as a quiet, unassuming woman who was a substitute teacher at the elementary school.
"They were a nice family," said former Selmer Mayor Jimmy Whittington, who worked with the minister collecting donations for hurricane victims last year. "They just blended in."
“Mary and Matthew Winkler met at the Church of Christ-affiliated Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, where his father, also a minister, is an adjunct professor.
On Thursday, members of the Selmer congregation gathered inside the one-story brick church.
"I can't believe this would happen," said Pam Killingsworth, a church member and assistant principal at Selmer Elementary.
"The kids are just precious, and she was precious," Killingsworth said. "He was the one of the best ministers we've ever had — just super charisma."

They seem (from the article) to have been the pluperfect xtian couple – Daddy was a well-respected preacher, mom being a schoolmarm – well liked, well versed (assumption here), 3 kids.

What then, explains this divergence? This utter lack of ‘turning the other cheek’? ‘Thou shalt not kill (or murder, or whatever)’?

This troubles me, it does. We constantly see a lack of living by the principles in xtians, modern-day or otherwise. The standard out, is that they weren’t ‘true xtians’. ‘The bar is too high’. All that folderol.

For all I know, the lady in question had some mental illness. Perhaps she caught ‘Mr. Charisma’ in the sack (or suspected that) w/another parishioner? Perhaps the ‘devil made her do it’, or she saw some superimposed image of the great ‘Evil One’ on her husband? Questions, questions.

Why is it we see a preponderance of violent behavior in allegedly ‘peaceful’ religions? The ‘hereafterians’, if I may be so bold as to coin this term?

Could it be the ‘absolution’ theorem, that second-chance given? Or, as some atheists posit, the after-life concept breeds sociopathy? This bothers me to no end.

Simple thoughts on a cloudy afternoon.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

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Ahimsa


"An it harm none, do as ye will."- Ancient Wiccan rede.

It is the question plaguing Mankind for centuries.

What is evil?

There are those who would give it face and name: coal-red eyes, hooves and horns, demonic laughter and wanton cruelty. All the old icons, all the old names, all the ancient formulas, from Moloch to Asmodai, Lucifer to Baal, the elder archetypes that plague our dreams.

Psychopathy given shape, Sociopathy given form, personified just enough to resemble humanity, but not quite enough for a good look in a mirror.

All the while, not realizing that the evil lay in each of us, the birthright of evolution, that feral selfishness that defies and denies the altruism that flows in our veins as well.

True evil lies within each of us. The power to do true harm to anything that lives, directly or indirectly. There are larger and smaller evils, to be sure: the careless cruelty, the minor selfish act which may or may not alter the course of someone’s entire life, the misspoken jest, the haphazard word, the slandering gossip or the misread cue. These vary on the measure of impact. In both word and deed.

It is harm inferred and harm incurred. Motive and method, modus operandi and malice aforethought, these are the ingredients for the recipe of malignancy.

It is nigh well impossible to sail through life without doing harm, or being subjected to it. There are philosophies that entail doing absolutely no harm to any living creature (how do they eat? Do they even walk down the street, without destroying some infinitesimal insectile life? Mysteries to ponder).

Life and death. Pain and pleasure. These extremes define us, as mammals, as individuals, as a collective herd.

I have taken enough of your time. I leave you with these words:

Ahimsa – do no harm.

There is no greater morality than this.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

TIME, IDENTITY, GENDER, IS MEANINGLESS WHEN LOVE IS YOUR ANCHOR

Last September, I took a short afternoon nap (this happens a lot: middle age sucks, sometimes), and I had this dream. I woke up, and immediately typed it up. What does it mean? Only that I have a pretty active imagination, for an old guy. It’s too short to publish, just a fragment. Lemmee know what you all think.

     TIME, IDENTITY, GENDER, IS MEANINGLESS WHEN LOVE IS YOUR ANCHOR

     It is a dark, dreary apartment when first I meet Tommy. Tall, tow-headed, wearing that ridiculous leather duster, always carrying his umbrella. Tommy is asking Sensei about some move. Sensei calls me to demonstrate. We stand in the center of that apartment, which seems bigger than it is not, and I am Brenda now, tiny, red-headed, white-clad. I offer my tiny, pale wrist to his large hand, and, as he takes it, I see his eyes close, and I feel him feel me, tasting my pulse. I begin the move, but no more: somehow, he is one with me and I with him, and we are all together, like the Walrus, I hear my pulse in his touch, and I am motionless. “Sorry, Sensei”, I tell my frowning teacher, and Tommy releases my wrist, eyes still closed. I offer my other tiny, pale wrist, and he takes it, eyes still closed. The pulse is no longer heard, but the move, and the memory of the move is still gone.
     Windows shatter inwards, but I cannot see the breakers. Sensei is to his feet, five-foot-five of smooth, elderly Asian, Tommy is whirling in a rustle of leather, umbrella out, but I am rendered helpless by something, and so, I shift…
     I am now a Japanese rent boy in the 25th century, sitting in a retro-rickshaw, and two white men on either side of me are harming me, though it hurts not, and they probe into me with the scaly arms from right and left, impossibly moving my vitals about without killing me, strange gazes from their white-bred faces, and Tommy is reaching in with his umbrella from the roof of the rickshaw, impaling one with that umbrella of his through the head, which oddly sinks in and through, and Tommy’s face is distended as he bellows an unintelligible war-cry, and the other one flails about the cab with fishy appendages without any smell but that of panic. I shift again…
     And I am the hostess, at a suburban house, my name is Brenda again, tiny pale red-head, but I am not that other Brenda, somehow I am different, marginalized, whether it is by the time or the place or the center of that place, and I am paying courtly tribute to my guests in that way only a hostess may. Am I a wife, or a queen, or some CEO? I do not know, but my moves are smooth, as they once were in that place before, where I was another Brenda, but my moves are no longer martial, but societal, and I am a gazelle in miniature here, on neutral ground, still unclear as to the whys and wheres and hows and whens, but flowing smoothly, smoothly. Until I come up to that tall wall of rawhide, and Tommy turns, his psychotropic umbrella in his fist, not a weapon, only his prop, and I look up to his freckled face, and he looks down at mine, and we smile in recognition and warmth. The periphery of my vision tells me my nemeses are here:  I can read their stilted movements, their blank gazes snapping to me whenever the flow of guests permits visual identification, and I panic, though I know I am safe. Tommy cries “Wait!”, but too late. I shift again….     
     I am a teenage hustler in Missouri, and I am backed into an alley because I propositioned the wrong truck driver, and he and his buddy are “Gonna teach me a lesson, ya little faggot” in their words, and I am too small and too slow in this body, wishing I had some memory of far away to help me defend myself. The truck drivers are again those reptilian-eyed men, staring straight at me, with lidless eyes of maroon crescents, and they bear down on me, smiling ferally. Tommy is at them suddenly, umbrella flailing, duster snapping about as he twists and turns and batters at them. I recognize him, and cry his name, but this is error, his attention diverted, one of the drivers has him down, I see the leather corners go up in the air, and the other joins in, and I shriek his name once more, and I shift….
     A rainy day in a small town, and I pull the lacy curtain aside, and see Tommy on his skateboard in the heavy rain, water shedding from that coat he always wears, but he turns around deftly on his wooden plank with wheels, and goes back into the storefront he has recently emerged from, and comes back out with umbrella in hand, and the weird rainbow unfurls to protect him from the falling wetness, and I sigh, and smile, but he doesn’t see me, but skates on, his freckled face looking from side to side, as if seeking something, as if seeking me but not knowing it’s me. I am Belinda now, but so far my enemies have not shown: perhaps we are safe here? Time will tell. I cannot recall if we have ever been safe before, or if ever, or if we had time together longer than a single shift. This puzzles me. But I sigh, and hope, and dream of being in his arms soon, whether as a man, or a woman, or in this century, the next, or the prior.
     Time, identity, gender, is meaningless when love is your anchor.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

DISHONEST ABE - DRIFTER, GRIFTER, CON MAN, SHOWMAN

It’s time again, for my Sunday sermon.

Today’s topic will be the root of all our present day problems. Yep, you guessed it: good ole Abram (renamed Abraham).

Now, I don’t adhere to the concept that morality is hereditary. Environment is most definitely a deciding factor in any sort of behavior.

However, children do learn by example. Ergo, let’s cut to the root cause of mischief: the man himself.

So, in Gen 12:1 we read, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: (image placeholder)Gen 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: Gen 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. “

Granted blessings from above, old Abe goes forth, etc. Here’s where it gets – well – squirrelly.
Gen 12:11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou [art] a fair woman to look upon: (image placeholder)Gen 12:12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This [is] his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Gen 12:13 Say, I pray thee, thou [art] my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

At this point dear readers, I feel obliged to say: WTF? So Sarah now has to play sister to her own husband, so he won’t lose his soul? Way to stand up for your woman, fella!

Onwards:

Gen 12:14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she [was] very fair. Gen 12:15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. Gen 12:16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.

Sooooo…. old honest Abe makes out like a bandit, thanks to his little white lie. And the Pharaoh?

Gen 12:17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.

Real nice. Pharaoh is played for a fool (because of his pheromones, no less!), and so, is gobbed on by YHVH. So the king says:

Gen 12:18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What [is] this [that] thou hast done unto me? Why didst thou not tell me that she [was] thy wife? Gen 12:19 Why sayest thou, She [is] my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take [her], and go thy way.

So they get tossed out. But apparently Abram gets to keep the spoils of his ploy.

I am going to skip forward a few chapters, but will return to the ultimate scam shortly.

So in Gen: 20, we see this:

Gen 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She [is] my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

Good old Abraham. Passing his own wife around again. Real nice. There’s more, however:

Gen 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou [art but] a dead man, for the woman, which thou hast taken; for she [is] a man's wife. Gen 20:4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?

I still don’t get this: why is Abimelech being chastised? Who’s the injured party here?

Gen 20:5 Said he not unto me, She [is] my sister? and she, even she herself said, He [is] my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands have I done this. Gen 20:6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Gen 20:7 Now therefore restore the man [his] wife; for he [is] a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore [her] not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that [are] thine. Gen 20:8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.

So of course, Abimelech asks him:
Gen 20:10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?
To which the reply is:
Gen 20:11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God [is] not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake. Gen 20:12 And yet indeed [she is] my sister; she [is] the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.Gen 20:13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This [is] thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He [is] my brother.

Well, divine visit or no, this would piss me off to no end. Besides, what was said, prior to the Pharaoh incident? Oh yeah: I pray thee, thou [art] my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake. What does Abimelech do?

Gen 20:14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave [them] unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. Gen 20:15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land [is] before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. Gen 20:16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand [pieces] of silver: behold, he [is] to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that [are] with thee, and with all [other]: thus she was reproved.

Oh, honkey, please. Not only that:

Gen 20:17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare [children]. Gen 20:18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.

What? We have none of the following:

  1. Anything resembling a timeframe

  2. Anything resembling any idea of just how Abimelech was not allowed to touch Sarah

  3. Any idea of why Abimelech was at fault in any of this.

Somehow, since Abram’s name changed (and that of Sarai), somehow, nobody got word of this scam? What, Philistines and Egyptians never talked to each other? In the eight chapters between this con job, Abram acquires the lands of the Canaanites, has two kids (yeah, and the division of the inheritance still haunts the world to this day: ghosts of wanting, whispering death in our ears). Besides, prior to this incident:
Gen 18:11 Now Abraham and Sarah [were] old [and] well stricken in age; [and] it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

Or:
Gen 17:17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall [a child] be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

Abimelech still gets the hots for her, given her age?

Who writes this crap?

Now, for the final nail in the coffin:

Abraham is told to sacrifice his son. This is offered up as a token of ‘faith’. Xtians wax rhetorically on this point: ‘He was willing to sacrifice his son on the command of God!’ What utter folderol.
Gen 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, [here] I [am]. Gen 22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Let’s skip the preparations. Cut to the meat of the matter (in a matter of speaking):

And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. Gen 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here [am] I. Gen 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me.

So then God provides a ram instead, etc, etc. Happy ending to the whole wretched episode.

There’s only one MAJOR problem with this whole scenario (outside the fact that a little voice told this mental incompetent to commit filicide):

Gen 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him.

Yes, you read that right. YHVH promises Abraham prior to Isaac’s birth that not only will this invisible deity help, shelter, protect, etc, but also Isaac’s children are heir to that covenant. So Abraham knew this beforehand. Kinda hard to forget a promise like that, ain’t it?

Quick summary:
  1. Abe gets rich quick, passing his wife around like currency, lying about their relationship (kinda, but the explanation given to Abimelech reads like an insertion, especially since it wasn’t given to the Pharaoh).

  2. Abe gets rich off the Pharaoh first, inherits the Canaanites land, is obviously very well off, but what? His funding is getting scarce, so he fools a Philistine king?

  3. Abe offers his son up as sacrifice, even though eight years prior, the little voice in his head promises a ‘covenant’ with the same son?

And we can’t even use the excuse of ‘it was a sign of those times’, or moral relativism, because we have two examples, of nobility, no less, who are aghast at the ploy enacted upon them, for which they’re punished, the injured parties, no less.

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