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Oldie but goodie

Again, on Facebook…

I’ve actually blogged about this before…

A snark (originally posted 04/27/2007)

This email arrived in my box at school this morning:

I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

  • What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?
  • What if we flipped through it several times a day?
  • What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
  • What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
  • What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?
  • What if we gave it to Kids as gifts?
  • What if we used it when we traveled?
  • What if we used it in case of emergency?
  • This is something to make you go …hmm….where is my Bible?

Oh , and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.

Makes you stop and think “where are my priorities?

And no dropped calls!

I don’t know why this kind of thing gets on my nerves, because it’s perfectly sincere in its insecure way. But it does. If I had to be specific, I guess I’d have to say it’s the implied martyrdom that so many of our more conservative Christian friends like to assume. They’re really more comfortable believing they’re in the minority and are persecuted like Paul or Stephen. Lacking convenient ways to be crucified upside down or to be stoned by the community, they pretend someone is throwing rocks at them anyway.

Anyway, I couldn’t resist. I wrote, but did not send out to the whole school like the other person, “What if we treated our cell phones like Bibles?”

  • What if we thought that people who didn’t have cell phones were going to burn in hell?
  • What if we killed people over which cell phone company was the best one?
  • What if most people thought that those new-fangled cell phones that took pictures and did email weren’t “the real cell phone”?
  • What if we decided that we should live our lives only after checking for messages on the cell phone?
  • What if we all heard different messages when we checked?
  • What if we called those who acted on those different messages “godless” or “neanderthals” or any other derogatory term?
  • What if we wanted to make everyone else turn off their cell phones and use only ours?

That’s all I’ve got so far. Any suggestions?

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, beeyotches.

Magickal Thinking


A young man working in the army was constantly humiliated because he believed in God. One day the captain wanted to humiliate him before the troops. He called the young man and said: – Young man come here, take the key and go and park the Jeep in front. the young man replied: – I cannot drive! The captain said: – Well then ask for assistance of your God! Show us that He exist! The young man takes the key and walked to the vehicle and begins to pray…… …He parks the jeep at the place PERFECTLY well as the captain wanted. The young man came out of the jeep and saw them all crying. They all said together: – We want to serve your God! The young soldier was astonished, and asked what was going on? The CAPTAIN crying opened the hood of the jeep by showing the young man that the car had no engine. Then the boy said: See? This is the God I serve, THE GOD OF IMPOSSIBLE, the God who gives life to what does not exist. You may think there are things still impossible BUT WITH GOD EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE. To the person reading this, I pray the Lord work A SUPER MIRACLE in your life today In Jesus Name I Pray.. Write ‘Amen’ to claim this prayer

This was posted, with a photo of a soldier crying, on Facebook by someone I would have thought to be a little more sophisticated in their faith.

First of all, why can’t these people write in English?  I know, I know, they probably aren’t native speakers, but even so—why would an educated person repost it?  If your goal is to witness to the heathen, why would you undermine the message with ignorant delivery?

Secondly, I am always amused at the straw men cum aggressive persecution complex these people have.  If this is from somewhere out there in the world and not the U.S., then perhaps captains make a habit of singling out Christian soldiers, but in our army, quite the reverse is true. Again, why would you post something that flies in the face of documented reality?

Finally, speaking of reality, really??  This author breaks the Spiritual Mystic end of the REMS Scale, just busts right on past the boundaries of the behavior the scale is meant to assess.  We have to assume that the author (at least the original source) created a parable and was not reporting on an actual event, i.e., that they knew and understood that the event could never have happened1, but the bottom line is that the story is put out there for people to believe that it could have happened, such is the magickal power of THE GOD OF IMPOSSIBLE.

Feh. I’m all for woo, but sweet Cthulhu I like mine on the sane side.  If I ever decided to evangelize for my particular Misunderstanding2, I would not use what amounts to the text of scam emails to convince people to join me in my compound. It might make my claims seem… incredible.


1 “How you know? You weren’t there!”  Honey, please.

2 My standard response to any religious discussion is, “I completely misunderstand God differently than you completely misunderstand God.”  Clearly, in this case, I really don’t misunderstand God anywhere in the neighborhood of either the original author or those who repost it on Facebook.

Yes, another rant. Sorry.

Oh dear.

Franklin Graham, a Bible grifter not known for his nuance or understanding, took to Fox Business News yesterday to warn of an impending cliff  a fork in the road: voting for Democrats will doom us because they’re going to turn us into socialism, and “socialism is godless.”

He also claimed that we’ve never had a secular government before, even though “we’ve chosen it,” and besides that “secularism is the same as communism.”


This is pure gobbledygook. I hardly know where to start—it all goes in circles and there’s no good place to start to unravel it.

Let’s start with that epithet, “godless.”  Graham uses it to be synonymous with “evil,” but that ain’t necessarily so.  Is it possible to have a government without a god?  Yes—in fact, it’s preferable.  Is it possible to be a good human being without a god?  Absolutely, and the converse is true as well: you can be a total godbotherer and a complete shit—just look at Franklin Graham.1

We’ve never had a “secular government before”?  Sweet Cthulhu, that’s all we’ve ever had.  Why does he say stuff like this?  Why does he ignore the fact that the Constitution itself prohibits a religious test for office, and the First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing a religion?  Is he deluded, or lying?

Secularism = communism?  What?  For those of us to whom words mean real things, this makes about as much sense as saying “groundhogs are the same as the chair.”  I mean, it’s a perfectly cromulent sentence if you’re teaching Chomskian structural grammar (“Colorless green ideas sleep furiously”) but actual English?  No.  Secularism is not the same as communism.

Beside which, I’m pretty sure he’s using “communism” to mean “oppressive totalitarian dictatorship,” which to be sure is our planet’s only real experience with the theory2, but that’s not really its meaning.

So Franklin Graham’s theory is something like this:

Democratic Party = socialism = godless = secularism = communism

He wants you to think it means

liberal political party = communism = evil = demonic anti-religious forces = oppressive totalitarian dictatorship

but for those of us who use English as a real language, it means

liberal political party = economic theory promoting social welfare = without religious entanglements = the idea that we run our government and our society at large without reference to Franklin Graham’s version of the Bible = economic theory advocating the abolition of private property

and of course one those things is not like the others, is it?  (Hint: it’s “communism.”)

All of this code-speak is meant to tickle the fearful brains of the faithful, and if we wanted to boil it down to a sentence in plain English, it would be

If you vote for the Democratic Party, you are voting for Satan.

In other words, Franklin Graham is campaigning for the party that thinks that promoting our social welfare is the same thing as Joseph Stalin’s oppressive totalitarian regime.  (You should hear them try to conflate the socialists with the Nazis.)

I offer no solution, because there is none.  Franklin Graham is talking in code to people whose brains are wired to fear the world.  We cannot show them the way out, because they don’t want to go.


1 Or worse, Ted Cruz.

2 If we ignore the Christians.   Which apparently Franklin Graham does, with every breath he takes.

Sorry, it’s another rant.

A couple of memes showed up in my Facebook feed.


First of all, SUBJUNCTIVE VOICE, PEOPLE!!  “If kids were allowed”—that’s correct.  But then it has to be “they might not end up in prison,” not “may.”

However, that’s not the problem.  The problem is the idiotic belief that Bibles are not allowed in schools, with its attendant idiotic belief that children are not allowed to pray in schools any more.

This is a lie.

Of course Bibles are allowed in schools.  In my media centers at East Coweta High school and Newnan Crossing Elementary I had Bibles on the shelf for students to check out.  At ECHS, in fact, my religion section (the 200s in Dewey Decimal (PBUH)) was phenomenal.  I had every major religious text, plus commentaries and histories for almost all of them.  Even at the Crossing I had the Book of Mormon and the Koran on the shelf.  (Until I got a security system installed at ECHS, the most stolen book was The Tao of Pooh—every year.)

Not only was it not illegal for me to have religious texts in the media center, it is not illegal for students to have their own Bibles at school, and it is perfectly OK for them to have them out and be reading them if if it’s OK for them to be reading anything at the time.

So why do we hear stories of “persecution” of kids reading Bibles at school?  Two reasons: stupidity and viciousness.

Sometimes a kid will be reading a Bible and some stupid adult in the room who somehow believes the lie about Bibles not being allowed will create a scene by trying to take the Bible away from him.  This adult is A Idiot and deserves all the thwapping he/she will soon receive at the hands of the Intertubes.

And sometimes a kid will viciously pull out a Bible to read when he’s supposed to be doing other work and then create a scene when he is reprimanded by a teacher trying to run a classroom.  This kid is A Idiot and should have to watch C-SPAN as punishment.  It’s no different than when I read Crime & Punishment in 10th grade English rather than pay attention to the freaking workbook sheet on FREAKING PARTS OF SPEECH, KENNETH! I was thumbing my nose at that inadequate teacher, and so is the vicious little Bible-reader.  The difference is that if I had been called on it, and sometimes I was, then I put the book away—and so should the VLBR.

Where does the belief in this lie come from?  Read about it here.  Christian chronic persecution complex: it’s a real thing.

And then there’s this:

Such clever.  Much snide.  So capitalism.  Bless her heart.

Years ago, in the fabulous periodical The Weekly World News, there was a columnist named Ed Anger, surely a nom de plume if there ever was one. He was an irascible Archie Bunker kind of guy, always ranting about some minor inconvenience to his white, male privilege.  It was, as far as I could tell, a Poe.1

One week, Anger announced that he had a solution to whichever recession crisis was going on at the time, and it was surefire foolproof, and this was his plan and it belonged to him: Cancel all credit card debt!

How simple is that?  You see, if you canceled every American’s credit card debt, then we’d all suddenly have a whole lot more money at our disposal, which we would then spend (by charging, of course), which would then end the recession on account of how consumer spending would boom.2

Okay, two things.

One, that’s pretty much the idea behind Keynesian economics, not that Ed Anger or his ilk would ever suggest that the government lift us out of a recession by deficit spending.

Two, Ed seems blissfully unaware of the circular nature of money.  Yes, that sum on my credit card bill is my debt and it would be great if I didn’t have to pay it and I would in fact be able to spend more if it were gone.

But… that same amount of money—plus the interest I pay for the privilege of borrowing it—belongs to other people. That interest goes to the credit card company, who uses it to pay their workers and their bills, plus some amount of profit for their stockholders which I’m pretty sure is ungodly, but let that pass.  If we suddenly yanked the billions of dollars of household credit card debt3 out of the economy, you don’t have to be a student of economics to imagine the disaster that would follow.

(For one thing, all the credit card companies would immediately go bankrupt, so there would be no way for us to charge anything anyway.  A thinker, Ed Anger was not.)

Ed makes the mistake of thinking that our money supply is a zero-sum game.  In his case, he imagines you can just wipe the books clean and start over, like hitting reset on your cassette tape player’s counter.4

Maggie makes the same mistake in thinking of the money supply as a zero-sum game, pretending that she thinks that we will run out of “other people’s money,” when in fact all our money flows in a circle.  However, she’s a little more insidious in the game she’s playing.  She is playing a zero-sum game: she doesn’t want the money flowing in a circle, she wants it flowing in one direction—towards the rich.  They deserve it, you know.  They’re job creators, unlike those unworthy parasites who only, oh, I don’t know, work the jobs.  Socialism: bah! humbug!

It is this very kind of snide punching down to the less fortunate that makes me see red and dream dreams about The Revolution.  And it’s this lack of understanding of basic economic terms that drives me to hover over that Unfollow button more and more every day.


1 Of course, that’s the point of a Poe: you can’t tell.

2 It seems he did it twice, in fact, here and here.  (You have to give the author credit for actually writing a new column for the second one.)

3 $712 billion as of Q3 2015

4 I’m old.  Shut up.  Okay fine, your trip mileage calculator in your fancy self-driving car, you hippity-hop punk. Get off my lawn.

A find

Recently we traveled to Virginia to visit with the in-laws and to continue to help tidy up the old homestead in preparation for an eventual move, maybe perhaps.  One task this trip was clearing out the antique secretary in the living room (not to be confused with the antique plantation desk in the den), which meant looking through the collection of antique books contained therein.  I got an old edition of A Christmas Carol, and this:

What is it, you ask?  It is an actual field notebook, you guys!

For those of you just joining us, I am a huge fan of the Field Notes Brand notebooks, even going so far as to subscribe to their Colors quarterly special editions.  They are just the coolest ever; the recent Winter edition has a pure white cover that turns blue in the sunlight.  (I’ve written about them here and here and here.)

The company tells you on their website that they are paying homage to the old field notebooks given to farmers by one supplier or another as advertising, so when I opened my new find, I knew exactly what I had.

It has a leather cover, and I presume the front was stamped in gold which has faded.  The interior is fabric, cotton or linen, and you can see the stitching near the spine: that’s a pocket, both front and back covers.

The front pages are ads for Richmond Guano Co’s wares (fertilizers), followed by all kinds of helpful and inspirational platitudes.

The back pages are useful tables of yields and prices.  And the center…

…is the grid paper I’ve come to know and love as one of the papers used by Field Notes!  So cool, you guys!

It is unused, except for the top of that page on the left in the above photo and part of the last page of grid paper being torn out.  And finally…

It’s 115 years old.  Awesome.

Lichtenbergianism: an update

When last we checked in on my progress, I hadn’t actually posted about my progress in writing Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy.

So here’s your first real progress report.

If we posit a length of about 30,000 words—not a very long book—then I’m more than halfway there, having scribbled about 19,000 words.

The structure of the book is as follows:

  1. Introduction to Lichtenbergianism
  2. Framework
  3. Precept 1: Task Avoidance
  4. Precept 2: Abortive Attempts
  5. Precept 3: Successive Approximation
  6. Precept 4: Waste Books
  7. Precept 5: Ritual
  8. Precept 6: Steal from the Best
  9. Precept 7: Gestalt
  10. Precept 8: Audience
  11. Precept 9: Abandonment
  12. The 10th Precept
  13. Conclusion
  14. Appendices
    1. The Lyles Scale of Compositional Agony
    2. The Arts Speech
    3. The Invocation

Also, I have begun and have almost finished an actual book proposal to start submitting to publishers, although first I’m going to run it by a friend who’s an editor with one of them fancy New York publishing houses to prevent self-embarrassmentation.

Having said that, though, I have to say that when I started looking at what I’ve written so far in terms of submitting sample chapters, a lot of it is still misshapen and raw.  Like the chapter on STEAL FROM THE BEST, what is that even about, Kenneth?  I’m thinking that I’ve passed that first gush of creativity and am now starting to hack my way into the real part of writing, i.e., psychic pain.  Physical pain.  Will the Lyles Scale of Compositional Agony apply to writing?  Stay tuned.

Right off a cliff (that’s a pun)

I promise I will once again blog about my creative efforts and cocktails and the labyrinth soon, but there’s just so much crazy out there clamoring for our attention.

Today’s crazy is a quote from a Baptist preacher in Nashville:

“We have to do something quickly, because there’s a cliff ahead of us, a civilization, and it’s within sight,” said Lydon Allen, a pastor at the Woodmont Bible Church in Nashville.
(

This pitiful bleat is in reference to the Tennessee legislature’s failure to pass a bill nullifying the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.  (I know, right?)

—click to embiggen—

It’s not actually coherent, but we’re going to give the poor man the benefit of the doubt because his meaning is plain: we have limited time to repent of our Somdomite1 ways before we… Well, the country will… Um…

Okay, his meaning isn’t clear either.

Here’s what I don’t get about these apocalyptic warnings: they don’t actually mean anything.  None of it rises above Revelation-of-John style “beasts with nine heads” or “scarlet woman” ravings.  Sure, it’s scary, but what precisely are they telling us is going to happen if we don’t straighten up (!) and fly right (!!)?

There’s a cliff ahead of us?  Right ahead of us?  What does that mean in practical terms?  If we were talking about investing in new infrastructure projects, we could argue back and forth with numbers and data and historical precedent and facts so we could arrive at a decision on whether or not we need to keep the bridges from falling down.  But a “cliff”?  How are we supposed to make rational decisions about that?

The answer is, of course, that we’re not, at least not for these poor people who keep making these prophecies.  It’s all lizard-brain fear, all of it, and that’s enough for them and their followers.

But just once, I’d like someone to ask Rev. Allen, “What do you mean?  What, exactly, is going to happen if we don’t go back to stomping on gay people?  Names, Travis, I need names.”

I want a list of specific events, with a timeline, and then check in—very, very publicly—on the timeline to see if any of the terrible things have come to pass.  None of them will have come to pass, of course, not that it will matter to the End Times crowd, but I want these people marginalized and ridiculed back into their caves where we don’t have to pretend they mean anything to our society.

Thank you for listening.


1 [sic]2

2 cf.

I have some issues with you people

Some old friends are apparently avid supporters of Ben Carson’s candidacy for the presidency. They are devout, conservative Christians, perfectly nice people, but who clearly have a blind spot where this man is concerned. As far as I can tell, they want us to vote for him because he’s a virtuous man who can “bring this country back to God.”

I have some questions for them.

What does that mean, “bring this country back to God”? What kinds of policies do you expect him to enact in order to do that? How would those policies square with the pluralistic country we live in? Or would that become United States policy, to privilege Christianity over other faiths (or non-faith)?

Is the God you hope he will bring the country back to the God he worships as a Pentecostal? Or is there some other mutually agreed upon version you’re hoping for? Do you understand that there are different versions of even the Christian God in this country? Do you understand that there are versions of God that lie outside what you consider the “Judeo-Christian tradiiton”?1

Do you think that if we elect a devout Christian to the office that the nation’s problems will resolve themselves? Do you think that a Congress would naturally fall in line with this person’s policies?  Or will God simply intervene in our affairs?

What do you think Ben Carson’s policies actually are? How much do you understand about his take on the issues.2 Is it possible that his understanding of some of these could be simplistic and based on erroneous information, or worse, magical thinking? Are the issues he lists enough to run a country, or are there other problems facing this nation which he does not address? How important are those problems?

Do you think that “bringing the country back to God” is the President’s job? Do you think that if we elect a devout man to the office that God’s protection will return to the United States? What do you mean by the phrase “God’s protection”? Is this different from sports figures thanking God for their victory?3

What, exactly, is it that you hope that will change about our country through divine intervention? Have you considered that your vision of a virtuous life and a virtuous nation might not be universal, i.e., that others have different ideas about what is virtuous and godly? Have you considered that these changes might be unwelcome in other people’s lives? How will that work absent change in legislation and policy?

Have you been praying for this country to achieve the results you hope Ben Carson will effect if elected? Has your church? How long have you been doing so?4 If so, then why do you think those results haven’t already occurred? What do you think God has been telling you all this time in response to your prayers?

1 Do you understand that when you say “Judeo-Christian,” everything you associate with that term indicates that you actually mean “Christian”?

2 Have you compared his issues page to other candidates? Trump’s? Sanders’? Clinton’s?  Does his list of issues seem more or less comprehensive to you than the others?

3 Have you read Mark Twain’s War Prayer?

4 Has it been since Jan 20, 2009? Why is that, do you think?

I hear there’s a hell of a good universe next door

In which the Tea Party outdoes its own self

No one has ever accused the Tea Party of being intellectual giants. In fact, most of them would deny the accusation themselves.

But David Brat, the rabid weasel who ran against and defeated rabid weasel Eric Cantor because—incredibly—Cantor was not rabid-weaselly enough for Virginia voters, has set a new standard. After President Obama’s State of the Union address, Brat took to the airwaves to object:

“He’s using the Christian tradition and trying to bring about compassion by bonking Republicans over the head with the Bible,” Brat said. “It’s almost a comedy routine on what compassion and love is. He’s mocking his enemies in order to compel a larger federal state using the tradition of love.”

“Our side, the conservative side, needs to reeducate its people that we own the entire tradition,” Brat said. “If you lose the moral argument, you lose the policy argument every time, so we need to reclaim the moral argument, where we’re so strong.”

(full story here)

To which the world replied:

I mean… It’s just that…

I can’t even.