Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rock me Jesus

Well, there you have it. Now its happened to me. Innocently walking around the Lincoln Square neighborhood the other day I spot this rock. It seemed to call to me. When I got down and looked closer I see the image of Christ on it. See it? Is that not the lord on said rock. Of course it is. If I see it and I get this idea then it must be the truth. Networks will be flocking to this rock soon. Pilgrims will come and light candles and pray at the Lincoln Square Miracle Rock. The blind shall see and the lame (but not me) shall walk.

Jesus Christ (alledgedly)
Fred Mertz
What's that you say? You say that this rock guy doesn't look like Jesus Christ? I say it does! And, since Jesus had no portraits of him painted while he was alive NO ONE knows what he looks like. He could look like Fred Mertz for all we know. But I do now what he looks like. I have been chosen.

So, since my sighting is clearly divine (No I don't have to "prove" it! The lord spoke to me and MADE me look at this rock so just SHUT IT!) my rock is holy and worthy of your worship. Also if you like to make a small donation to the Rock Me Jesus Grandchildren College Fund a tax deduction letter will be generated.

Of course there's this annoying research that shows that our brains are wired to look for faces. Research cited here shows that it doesn't take much for a bell to go off in our brain and 'FACE' to be transmitted to our cerebral cortex. Let that face even remotely resemble someone famous (Jesus, Mary, Ernie Banks, etc) and more bells go off as the 'face' matches an already stored image.

Nothing like an ugly fact to ruin a perfectly wonderful miracle. Rock on!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Heaven Help Us!

Thinking about heaven today. . .

Now I'm no expert since I don't think there is such a thing. . .no evidence anyway.


But fun to play devil's advocate and ask, what if?

What if there was a heaven and what would it be like? One of the standard models is that you are there and happy but can 'see' your friends and loved ones. You "look down from above". That's nice. But really think about that. You can see your friends and loved ones but you cannot interact. At first they're miserable (or somewhat bummed) because you're dead but you can offer no solace. As you watch them and the years wear on you see them heading for trouble maybe but you cannot do a thing to warn them or help them. You might watch them die in a firey crash. Burning slowly in great pain. This is heaven?

Or just consider time itself. If you are conscious and I guess you're supposed to be or heaven is just binge drinking then you'd sense time. Right? You get to 'live' like this for eternity.  You exist frozen in amber? Endless bliss? If you are still YOU then wouldn't you want, I don't know, a hot dog? A ball game? Sex? Just endless bliss and contentment but no books?

And eternity is a long time! Do you go on after the end of the universe?

My point is that I think the whole idea of living on eternally has not been well thought out! Sounds good since we are wired to avoid being dead but maybe not workable. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


I am so sick of the Wal-Mart commercials during the Olympics. They all feature a breathless American just about squirting her shorts over the fact that she could have saved $7.25 if ONLY she had shopped at Wal-Mart. Oh.....Fail!

Two points....

1. Wal-Mart has single handely destroyed small town America. They did this by just undercutting small local merchants. They did this by buying boat loads of shit made in China by workers making 25 cents an hour. I hate Wal-Mart but I'm equally depressed about America the consumer that ONLY looks at price and not the effect. Yes you can save a couple of bucks by shopping at Walmart but at what real price? The price is having a really ugly box in your town (actually just outside by the interstate)  with a giant black top parking lot. The price is having no small shops or neighborhood merchants. No walking down the street and window shopping. No expertise. No real choice. You're going to have to buy the Chinese shit that comes on the giant Walmart truck or nothing since all of your downtown shops are now closed. Wal-Mart did this but we went along.

2. Shopping at Wal-Mart is not a fun thing like it shows in the commercials. Much like how they show casino commercials without any oxygen bottles. It's a depressing place with shitty merchandise, dirty floors, uncaring, uneducated, minimum wage help if you can find them, and a depressing, flourescent display of tattoed Americans.

You have to decide if the money you save on buying a fucking bag of Cheetos is worth what a Wal-Mart will do to your neighborhood. Last Christmas I shopped at all small shops in my home town of Chicago. I shopped on Broadway and on Lincoln Ave in Lincoln Square. I had pleasant conversations with merchants and bought interesting little things for people. It was a Christmas shopping experience that I really enjoyed. Can you say that after doing an hour at a Wal-Mart during the holiday season?

People will say that Wal-Mart generates jobs. Sure, minimum wage, retail jobs with no skills needed while the Wal family is currently worth over 100 BILLION dollars. Yes, I had to check that myself - B I L L I O N S.  So your joy at your $7.25 discount is laughed at by the Wal family as they enjoy their BILLIONS and fuck small towns.

Oh, forgot the blog. . . There is no God either!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

CNN Religion column with comments

The usual Sunday religion article. My comments are embedded....

By Timothy Keller, Special to CNN

(CNN)–When I was diagnosed with cancer, the question “Why me?” was a natural one.
Later, when I survived but others with the same kind of cancer died, I also had to ask, “Why me?”
Suffering and death seem random, senseless.

Suffering and death ARE random.

The recent Aurora, Colorado, shootings — in which some people were spared and others lost — is the latest, vivid example of this, but there are plenty of others every day: from casualties in the Syria uprising to victims of accidents on American roads. Tsunamis, tornadoes, household accidents - the list is long.
As a minister, I’ve spent countless hours with suffering people crying: “Why did God let this happen?” In general I hear four answers to this question. Each is wrong, or at least inadequate.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The first answer is “I guess this proves there is no God.” The problem with this thinking is that the problem of senseless suffering does not go away if you abandon belief in God.

Actually, no one has to prove there is no God. You can't prove a negative. It is on the faithful to prove there IS a God.

In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said that if there was no higher divine law, there would be no way to tell if any particular human law was unjust. Likewise, if there is no God, then why do we have a sense of outrage and horror when suffering and tragedy occur? The strong eat the weak, there is no meaning, so why not?

If it takes higher laws to validate lower laws then how is there not an infinite progression of higher and higher laws? Also, the argument assumes that there SHOULD be meaning but who said that was true? Maybe there is no universal meaning to all of this but each person finds his own or  not. The argument crumbles then.

Friedrich Nietzsche exemplified that idea. When the atheist Nietzsche heard that a natural disaster had destroyed Java in 1883, he wrote a friend: “Two-hundred-thousand wiped out at a stroke—how magnificent!”
Because there is no God, Nietzsche said, all value judgments are arbitrary. All definitions of justice are just the results of your culture or temperament.

My Take: This is where God was in Aurora

As different as they were, King and Nietzsche agreed on this point. If there is no God or higher divine law then violence is perfectly natural.

Violence is perfectly natural is a very hot button sentence. Is there violence in the world? Yes. Is it 'perfectly natural'? Hmmm..., when a lion takes down an antelope that's very violent and perfectly natural. When a crazed gunman takes out a movie theater that is very violent and perfectly UNnatural. OK, what does either say about a possible God?

So abandoning belief in God doesn’t help with the problem of suffering at all.

And keeping a belief in God doesn't change the suffering either. What's the point?

The second response to suffering is: “While there is a God, he’s not completely in control of everything. He couldn’t stop this.”
But that kind of God doesn’t really fit our definition of “God.”

How convenient! 

So that thinking hardly helps us with reconciling God and suffering.

The third answer to the worst kind of suffering – seemingly senseless death – is: “God saves some people and lets others die because he favors and rewards good people.”
But the Bible forcefully rejects the idea that people who suffer more are worse people than those who are spared suffering.
This was the self-righteous premise of Job’s friends in that great Old Testament book. They sat around Job, who was experiencing one sorrow after another, and said “The reason this is happening to you and not us is because we are living right and you are not.”
At the end of the book, God expresses his fury at Job’s ”miserable comforters.” The world is too fallen and deeply broken to fall into neat patterns of good people having good lives and bad people having bad lives.

Yes but then it is much more easily and better explained to have no invented God at all than a disinterested one.

The fourth answer to suffering in the face of an all-powerful God is that God knows what he’s doing, so be quiet and trust him.
This is partly right, but inadequate. It is inadequate because it is cold and because the Bible gives us more with which to face the terrors of life.
God did not create a world with death and evil in it. It is the result of humankind turning away from him.  

So, we all get continually punished for someone or ones 'turning away' 5000 years ago? At which evolutionary stage did we 'turn away from God'. Australopithecus? Java Man, Lucy?

We were put into this world to live wholly for him, and when instead we began to live for ourselves everything in our created reality began to fall apart, physically, socially and spiritually. Everything became subject to decay.

So I am to accept an egotistical God who wants me to wholly live for him. . . what ever that means. Why does God need me to do this? And, the instruction book is a little sketchy! I won't get into the problems with the bible but just mention treatment of women and slaves. 

But God did not abandon us. Only Christianity of all the world’s major religions teaches that God came to Earth in Jesus Christ and became subject to suffering and death himself, dying on the cross to take the punishment our sins deserved, so that someday he can return to Earth to end all suffering without ending us.

But you don't really KNOW that. There is no way to KNOW that God came to earth in Jesus. You were taught that. If Jesus was a complete nut ball and made the whole thing up. . . the story would be exactly the same. 

Do you see what this means? We don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, or why it is so random, but now at least we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be.
It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he doesn’t care. He is so committed to our ultimate happiness that he was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering himself.

Stating that God allows evil and suffering to continue implies that he could stop it if he wanted to. So he gets himself nailed to a cross to show he cares while suffering and random violence continue unabated.  I guess I'm just unimpressed with this effort.

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Someone might say, “But that’s only half an answer to the question ‘Why?'” Yes, but it is the half that we need. If God actually explained all the reasons why he allows things to happen as they do, it would be too much for our finite brains.

How do you know? We have pretty good brains. What a smug and convenient answer!

What we truly need is what little children need. They can’t understand most of what their parents allow and disallow for them. They need to know their parents love them and can be trusted. We need to know the same thing about God.

Sure they trust us. . . that's why you can infect their minds with religion at a young age but not after they've reached the age of reason. 

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Timothy Keller.

Friday, August 03, 2012


A Megabus crashed yesterday due to a blown tire with many passengers injured and one fatality. Here's one person's story:

Siegal said she believed she was uninjured because her father gave her a dollar to give to charity, a Jewish tradition that helped protect her en route.

"I believe it was that money that kept me out without a scratch," said Siegal.

How can any sane person believe that? First off.. . . how does it work? What's the mechanism by which money given in one place turns into some sort of protective shield for you in an entirely different place? How does that even sound plausible? And, if you're so protected why didn't this bit of sorcery prevent the bus tire from blowing in the first place?

What about the other people who got off the bus without a scratch? Did they all give a dollar to charity? If not isn't it more reasonable to 'believe' that the nature of the crash was that not everyone was being maimed and you happen to be in that group? What if you had given 2 dollars? Maybe you get off the bus without a scratch and you're teeth are magically straightened.

Why do we rush to the unreasonable scenario?