On December 20, 2004, Edward T. Babinski wrote:
Subject: Logan Pearsall Smith [Anglican wit]
As I came away from the Evening Service, walking home from that Sabbath adventure, some neighbors of mine met and passed me in their car, laughing. Were they laughing at me? I wondered uneasily; and as I sauntered across the fields I vaguely cursed those misbelievers. Yes, yes, their eyes should be darkened, and their mocking lips put to silence. They should be smitten with the botch of Egypt, and with the scab, and with the itch, and with hemorrhoids (Deut. 28:27). All the teeth should be broken in the mouths of those bloody men and daughters of backsliding; their faces should become as flames, and their heads be made utterly bald. Their little ones should be dashed to pieces before their eyes (Ps. 137:9), and brimstone scattered upon their habitations. They should be led away with their buttocks uncovered.
Logan Pearsall Smith [Anglican wit], “The Danger of Going to Church,” All Trivia
Phil: While I was painting today and having looked again at the debate last night I thought,“…Dave wants Ed to concede his points but Dave is unwilling to simply concede that the Psalm in question was not just inappropriate for Beccaʼs funeral but bitterly ironic — unless of course one is an apologist and fully grasps the metaphoric and poetic beauty of such a psalm.” Would this be the need to be right? Iʼll have a look at it again — and the comments — I havenʼt looked at them either
Edward: You can find metaphoric beauty in much of the worldʼs literature, not just in psalms about Godʼs angels preventing a person from stubbing their toe because they love God. The point is that Dave adores the Bible it is his beloved, a letter from God. He will defend it all, from Eden to the Flood, from the tower of Babel to the slaughter of the Canaanites, with poetry, hyperbole, and metaphor if he has to, in fact, anyway he can, to make even the vilest shit in it smell like it should be served at communion to the heavenly choir. Therefore, you canʼt really argue with a person whose perception is that caught up in a single book. I recall a TV show about the garbage-eaters, a sect of ultra-conservative protestants who evangelize college kids and live owning nothing, eating out of dumpsters, memorizing Bible verses, and denying themselves contact with former family members (because Jesus didnʼt even let one of his own followers go home to bury a dead relative, and said that he came to set family members against one another, and said that his brothers and sisters were those who believed the word of God). The Bible is the whole world and only book of these people. One of the kids who joined used to be a college honor student who even owned his own business, but he was evangelized, took the bait, dropped out of school, gave his money to the group, and memorized the Bible. His parents hired a detective to find him, but the other members hid him. Finally one day, he was found, and his Dad, Mom, and sister rushed to see him, but he could only speak to them in Bible-speak, citing chapters and verses and trying to convert them. Finally they had to leave. This was all on a TV show I saw, 20/20 or something like that. You can look up “garbage eaters” on the internet and find into about them. They are an orthodox Christian organization. The sadness that that family experienced, knowing that communication was impossible with their once very bright son, is the same sadness I experience when I see some one as bright as Dave turn over his mind to defending one book and every passage in it, above all. I am sure that focusing on something such as one book or one religion is soothing. It simplifies life. So does being married to one person. But, unlike a single book, people can each read lots of books and seek out the best in all of them. People can also develop different opinions over time as they read widely and deeply from many books. Their views can change. But a book no matter how good, does not have the capability of learning, developing changing. And the New Testament is now older than the Old Testament was when the New Testament was first written, and still no new books from God. Itʼs been two thousand years of conflicts over interpreting the one book (the Bible), and tens of thousands of schizmatic Christian denominations, sects and missionary organizations later (including conservatives, moderates and liberals in each denomination).
Also, have any of the conservative/fundamentalistic Catholics or Protestants noted how quietly the Deity endures the writing of innumerable non-Christian books all claiming to speak for Him/Her/Them/It? Surely any Deity that thought their exact words were vitally important would have “zapped” every scribe, printing press, or website, that dared to put false ones into the Deityʼs mouth. But such “zapping” only appears to have taken place on extremely rare occasions, while new words of the Deity (as well as controversial translations and interpretations of older words) continue to flood the world in a veritable deluge of “God said this, God teaches that-ness.” Could it be that the Deityʼs exact words do not matter as much to the Deity as they do to such defenders of the one true book?
“It is not easy to account for an infinite God making people so low in the scale of intellect as to require a revelation. Neither is it easy to perceive why, if a revelation was necessary for all, it was made only to a few.”
—Robert Ingersoll, Some Mistakes of Moses
What the Priest or Minister Says (And what they really mean)
- “I donʼt feel led.” (“Canʼt make me.”)
- “If it be Godʼs will.” (“I donʼt believe God will answer this one.”)
- “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” (“I am clueless.”)
Sandra Allen, “Sounding Spiritual 101,” The Door, #146, March/April 1996
A minister wrote in the margin of his sermon notes, “Weak argument here. Shout louder.”
Why the whole “priest” and “prophet” routine? If God is God, He can talk to everyone immediately, directly. He doesnʼt need to employ “middle-men” like books, priests, prophets, ministers of a million different sects, denominations and religions—which makes Him look like a confused devil whenever He wants to “tell us” something.
And whatʼs that verse in the Old Testament, “The man who does not heed and obey the priest shall die?” (Deut. 17:12) Tell me some priest didnʼt write that!
I never got into religion much. Too many middle men.
Chris Rock, Rock This!
The faith in which I was brought up assured me that I was better than other people; I was saved, they were damned—we were in a state of grace and the rest were heathens. Our hymns were loaded with arrogance—self-congratulation on how cozy we were with the Almighty, and what hell everybody else would catch come Judgment Day.
Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
Look at the songs of Fundamentalism: “That will be glory for me. I shall see Him face to face. My sins are gone. Iʼm so happy. Iʼm saved, saved, saved. Love lifted me. He holds my hand. Now I belong to Jesus. Safe am I. My Lord is real, yea, real to me.”
I was even taught as a child to sing that shameless chorus, “For me, for me, for me, for me.”
Itʼs like someone decided to set “original sin” to music.
Daniel Stevick, Beyond Fundamentalism
This is not piety, this oft-respected bowing of oneʼs head; this bustling to temples/churches; this kow-towing and tear-jerking, this deluging of affirmations and re-affirmations, vow on vow. True piety lies rather in the power to contemplate the universe with a quiet mind.
Lucretius, On the Nature of Things