Category Archives: religion

Well, the wait is over; healing and salvation offered here

CIMG2326

The town of Berkeley Springs is considered by some to be a sacred place, where good spirits converge.  There’s that magical hot water just bubbling out of the earth, right? Thus, it’s the annual gathering spot of all kinds of alternative healers at the Festival of Light.

For a five-dollar entry fee, you can find massage therapists for whatever hurts, palm readers, crystal handlers, future-tellers and past-life revealers.  You may commune, spiritually, with a lost loved one, human or another species.  You may purchase a stone or stick that was blessed under a full moon.  (I’m sorry I did not buy the special socks showing acupressure points but attractive enough for daily wear.)

CIMG2327

All of that harmless activity drew out this proud cross-bearing citizen, with his deep background of holy texts and protected by the First Amendment, who just needed all who enter here to know that this was contrary to the Christian Bible, and akin to devilry and witchcraft. (I heard that the local gendarmerie made a sweep of the building but found nothing technically illegal.)

I did not see his socks, but I think the burlap robe could be cited for a fashion crime.

living in a crafty world — glue-sticking together for reproductive rights

Image

Today at the Supreme Court the ruckus was all about whether that nasty Obamacare tromps on the rights of corporations (non-humans) to deny preventive health-care, specifically in the form of drugs and devices that prevent pregnancy, to employees (humans) who happen to work there. A better solution would be to uncouple health insurance completely from employment and move to universal health-care coverage as many other countries have, and as the Affordable Care Act begins to do. Until then, here we are, where under the cover of religion, a “boss” can play doctor.

Image

I happened to be with a “faith-based” group, singing liberation- and spiritual-type songs, and bearing signs suggesting that people — and corporations! — just mind their own business regarding the reproductive organs of others. We feel this way quite strongly, as a matter of intellectual conscience, which the Hobby Lobby craft store people must understand is at least as valid as strong feelings that come from the Bible, which does not mention IUDs at all, not even once.  As I walked past the long line of folks hoping to get inside to hear the opinion, two called out trying to shame me, but mostly the crowd gave the thumbs up and much more audible forms of support.

Here’s hope that Antonin Scalia will reread that thing he wrote about how it was ok to disallow use of peyote, because not every silly thing that people do can fall under the umbrella of protected religious behavior. People just gotta go with the program sometimes! Hunt down this story by searching with the words “Scalia” and “peyote,” and you will find many sources.

Links about today’s cases: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/03/19/3416214/religious-groups-birth-control-coverage/

Bill Nye takes on 4,500 years of crazy

ImageEnjoying a good debate, I confess that I was drawn to spend a couple hours listening to the back-and-forth on creationism vs. evolution between Bill Nye, a creditable scientist, and Ken Ham, who is decidedly not one, though he claims to know some and helpfully included all the ones he knows in his slideshow.

To sum it up, Ken Ham believes what the Bible says, hard-core and literally — like, all manner of stuff that we know of was created in a seven-day work week a few thousand years ago.  In fact, all life on earth actually dates back to the day after every single acre of Earth was inundated about 4,500 years ago. Those time periods were calculated by running the life spans of guys in the Bible — as reported in the Bible.  Evidence to anything contrary, from any other historical source or actual observation, he does not believe.  Tree rings showing individual trees over 6,000 years old? Fossils of creatures that no longer exist? The fact that all that flooding created one Grand Canyon? Ignored.

Alas, early on, there actually was a concession to evolution.  It was a little hard to follow exactly, because Ham had to use a concept new to me of “kinds,” stating that some “kinds” of animals were indeed on Noah’s boat, but not all that we know today.  So, for example a couple of dogs were on the ship, and after the flood, they then divided into the many species and breeds of dogs seen today.  But that does not mean that dogs evolved from wolves before that, oh, no.

I thought that acknowledgment of mutations into new life forms would end the show, but I was waaaay wrong.  While Bill Nye went a bit overboard for his audience talking about a range of scientific discoveries — from microscopic to infinite — that contradict the “young earth” notion, as it is called, Ham provided repeated bits from the Bible that prove that the Bible is true.

Troubling is the foundational notion that humans cannot believe in something that they did not witness, such as the beginning of the earth, I guess.  Yet, the story of creation, and one would suppose that hot story about the virgin who becomes pregnant, though that never seems to happen in modern times, are completely true, to Ham.

When Nye’s answer to a question was a truthful “we don’t know,” Ham’s answer was that a book has already been written about that – it’s called the Bible.

ImageI loved that Nye referred to the creationists’ source many times the “American-English translation of the Bible,” a subtle reinforcement of the provincialism and narrowness of the documents selected a few hundred years ago, translated well after that, as the primary Judeo-Christian authority.  (I know, I know – plenty of religious people use the Bible in more sensible ways.)

And by the way, the Bible also apparently frowns upon gay marriage, Ham finds, and a lot of other stuff that isn’t actually in my copy.  How about four wives per husband?  Ham explains this with a dismissive hand wave, saying that some parts of the Bible are merely poetry or stories about actual people, and some of them did bad things.  I’ve read the part he’s talking about, and that’s not what it says.  I like to ask adamant Bible-clutchers whether they eat the pork and lobster forbidden in Genesis, and that usually brings about the same kind of quivering and ‘splainin’ about how Jesus came along later and specifically said that bacon was cool.

I understand that there is real evidence that only about two-thirds of Americans believe in evolution (the believers skew toward the more educated). This may explain the disbelief in human-source global warming, or the holding that a fertilized cell is a full-faith-and-credit human being.

I would not want to chat it up with Ham or his likes – too frustrating for me. I might only envy the simplicity of his tasks on moving day, when instead of spending hours or days sorting through hundreds of beloved books, he would only have to tuck the one volume under his arm.

a happy holiday

I find myself within this family that I have joined and the stuff that comes with it:  tsk-tsking about a family member who, alas, has become Christian, and what would the atheist parents say about that!; the family matriarch,  a retired Ivy-educated professional woman, whose every waking hour is dutifully prepping or cooking the next meal for her adult partner and other family members; my in-laws who after 30 years of marriage – the second for each of them – openly show affection; a “walk” in the woods that includes shears and shippers to make the trail as they go.

What the hell am I doing here?