Sunday, May 29, 2011

Left Behind (and Loving It)

Admit it.

For one second, you thought: "Hmm. No Third Kingdom update for a couple of weeks. Is he taking his time or has he been . . . raptured?!?"

I mean, c'mon, how great would that be? I mean, I spend my time and money (not really) typing thousands of words about the relative futility of religion in my life and BAM! I get sucked up into a heaven I didn't believe existed. Merriam-Webster would have to invent a new definition of irony because I would OWN that bitch!

With that said, it occurred to me how ironic it was that I had not spent multiple posts on Harold Camping's National Humiliation Countdown considering how rare it is that someone so clearly illustrates one of many reasons to be skeptical of religion. Seriously, if I were writing a movie about my life, I would have invented Harold Camping so my character could create a career on the back of his doomed predictions.

Truth is, I didn't know if there was anything new I could bring to the conversation that the HuffingtonPost and half my Twitter stream weren't already saying. And then it hit me. The fact that everyone was openly mocking Camping WAS the story!

In my brief lifetime (how many decades is still considered brief?), I've lived through at least 10 Doomsday predictions -- the most memorable being some Nostradamus date that occurred while I was in middle school. Much like the days leading up to May 21, my school was buzzing with theories, fears, but mostly jokes. Were some of us uneasy? Sure. But none of us were contemplating selling our homes or giving away our possessions (mainly because we had little or none of both). In all, the world's end was greeted with a smirk and then semi-amnesia.

But this year was different for two reasons:
1. There simply wasn't as much media back in those days. CNN was an infant, the internet was non-existent and cell phones were for Michael Douglas and exactly 10 yuppie jerks in their convertible Saabs.
2. This doomsday prediction was created by a CHRISTIAN. Which, for most people, gives it validity. Whereas we could readily dismiss Nostradamus (French pansy!) and Heaven's Gate (dirty hippies), Harold Camping had all the right qualifications: an old, white, rich man with a powerful radio station, years of "experience" and a dedicated following. In short, the difference between Camping and T.D. Jakes is a few shades of melanin.

To be sure, when I carefully broached the subject with one of my "saved' co-workers, he shook his head in disgust.

"Why would he say that? Now when the real rapture comes. No one will be prepared."

Do you see the issue I'm having here? Most Black folks I know tacitly accept, if not fully believe, that the rapture WILL happen. But somehow, they just knew Camping's datebook was off. Most of this is, I know, connected to the bible verse about Jesus' return being unknown to man and coming, "like a thief in the night." But how were they so sure that this fairytale prediction was any less true than any other? Are there some mass meetings these Christians have? Oh wait, it's called Church. Point being, for a country that remains  predominantly Christian-minded, why was it acceptable to see supposedly impartial national news anchors greeting each other with a sarcastic "Happy Rapture Day" last Friday? Did they have no doubt?

I submit the answer is yes. As much as I rail against those who claim American Christianity is under attack (PS: Fox News Pundits), I can't help but feel that an eroding of faith is to blame for the collective nose-thumbing (who says that?) to the 2011 Rapture.

But where Mike Huckabee and I part ways is that I don't blame gays or mexicans or even gay mexicans for this. I blame, well, the bible. I think in the comfy confines of a family church, it's much easier to accept, or at least not actively reject, some the bible's more, um, interesting ideas of the world. As my lapsed Baptist wife reminds me, "outside of heaven and hell, you don't really think about the details unless someone presses you on them."

And, thanks to the interwebs and the 24-hour news cycle, the rapture -- which reads great on paper -- was thrust into the harsh lighting of reality and made to stand next to tornadoes, the economy and the release of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Give Me Your Money" and the shit didn't stack up.

Of course, Camping has restructured his prediction but, much like Trump's Presidential run, the horse is out the barn. Ironically, the rapture may truly be the beginning of the end of Christianity as we know it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Kink in My Armor

As I write this, we are at Defcon 4 for craziness as the countdown to Rapture is exactly four days away. I wish I had more time to devote to this, but thankfully the left-wing radical media is ALL OVER this story. I especially like MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell's take and CANNOT WAIT to see how Bill Maher attacks/discusses it on Rapture Eve this Friday.

But that's not why I'm writing today.

Imagine, if you will (or because I insist), that you are just dying for a chocolate milkshake. But considering that you don't live atop a Dairy Queen, are very lazy and haven't perfected that "instant food" machine from Star Trek, you accept that you're pretty much shit out of luck.

But then there's a knock at your door and, by Thor's Hammer, there's a free milkshake just sitting there with your name on it. Of course, I would typically warn you about free food you find on your doorstep -- much less food with the ability to knock on your door (does it have arms or telekinesis? does it matter?), but you get the idea, right?

So that's why I'm writing.

As you can probably tell, I'm usually at the ready for a good religious discussion. And while my wife and I have some pretty rigorous talks, there's nothing like getting a little strange, if you know what I mean (wink, wink).

And sure as shit, not 10 seconds after hearing a tentative knock on our front door was I engaged in just such a discussion.

Behold, a two white folks, David and Mattie (no, I don't remember their real names), were at my door complete with pamphlets, mousy hair and those damned puppy-dog missionary eyes. Every JW I've met (usually at my front door) exudes this odd mix of overly-confident vacuum salesman and almost-defeated high school junior looking for your $15 to fund the Hurricanes' uniform drive. Honestly, I don't know whether to pity them or drive them away.

In this case, I engaged them. Like big time. 

So, I paid the customary etiquette, nodding and smiling as he droned on a bit about why God didn't really use the Japanese earthquake as punishment (clearly David never met THIS chick). Nice thought, but kinda old news for me. No, I had bigger Jesus fish to fry. So, like a good host, I interrupted.

"Do you think the rapture is coming on May 21?"

David (mid-20's, could be the nerdy forensic guy on "C.S.I. Des Moines") and Mattie (early 40's and probably right at home with a God Hates Fags picket sign in her hand) shook their heads with a reassuring "no." 

"But you do believe the world is going to end soon, right?"

"Well, the signs are all there," David began as I swooned in deja vu (remembering the conversation/confrontation I had at work). David began running down the "startlting" truth behind the increased earthquakes, floods and Charlie Sheen antics which he clearly saw as the trailers before the big show. 

I rebutted with what I found as sound logic -- like the fact that there have ALWAYS been earthquakes and natural disasters or the fact that the perceived increase in such events is colored by the fact that we have better monitoring equipment. Naturally none of this made a dent, at least not for him. But it was for me.

Please to explain: So I am a pretty firm believer in environmental change/global warming. It makes complete sense to me that human activity has had some affect on the plant which is resulting in harsher weather, homeless polar bears and the like. So, why was I just playing all of those scientific facts down? Did I not actually believe them or was I -- (gasp) a victim of COGNITIVE DISSONANCE!?!?

In any other conversation about weather patterns, I would concede that yes, it does seem that earthquakes are getting more extreme, that tornadoes seem to be getting bigger, more frequent. But that has more to do with the melting of polar ice caps, more moist air and what not. I have no faith that it has to do with the amount of heathens in this world.

"So if it's not God causing the increased earthquakes, whose doing it?" I asked.

In a nutshell, his position was that man's wicked behavior was bringing the world to an end -- but where I saw pollution of the air, he saw pollution of the soul. Which may seem like splitting hairs but I don't see it that way. Mainly because to agree with David I would have to accept a whole host of unbelievable notions: multi-headed apocalyptic lions, witchcraft, the devil, Paul Ryan's budget -- it's all too much, and, not to mention, nonsensical.

Take this tidbit: When they told me that a good atheists' deeds (you know, giving to the poor, saving bunnies and the like) did not weigh the same as an average Christian's I asked why. I was told that a really good person's deeds are bupkiss without the J-Man's stamp of approval. Yes, I knew the answer but I really just needed someone to say it out loud to my face. They did not disappoint, but, wait it gets better.

"Does God help those that do not believe in him?" I posed.

I mean if God really is a master chess player, does he only move the pieces that believe in him? If so, why would he bother to punish them if the ones who don't if they wouldn't recognize it as punishment?

"Well," David looked reluctant for the first time, "No, he doesn't."

"But," Mattie piped up for the first time, "The devil might."

If this was a shitty romantic comedy trailer, this is where they would play the record scratch cue.

I literally took a step back, as if to get a better view of this brand of idiocy.

"So, God won't help those who don't believe in him but the devil WILL help those that don't believe in him?"

Now, to be honest, David looked kinda pissed. It was as if Mattie just admitted that "yes, we do spit in your burgers." If he hadn't been abundantly wasn't clear that he wasn't getting a sale before, Mattie had just sealed the deal.

Mattie shrugged her shoulders as if to say "well, you asked."

Oddly, the illogical lunacy of that statement didn't sink in and instead pooled around their feet.

It was hard to react, so I just repeated a shocked "wow" about four times before saying:

"You know, I really do like the Christian message of 'do unto others as you would have done unto you,' but statements like that are the reason why so many people are turned off." I said this not to be mean, indeed, I assured them that I was not "aiming for heaven," but as a genuine statement of disappointment.

But perhaps we should thank folks like Mattie who lay it all bare. She was clear that for all the Jesus talk, many Christians aren't really interested in Jesus' golden rule -- they are more interested in Jesus' Gold Club Card; that exclusive membership that only lets in the like-minded.

Having exceeded my daily dose of BS I bid them adieu and went back in for some breakfast.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

God DAMMITT!

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Any time someone calls for the end of the world, you can't be shocked when someone makes fun of them.

But that someone was supposed to be ME goddammit.

Alas, I must say Bravo to the American Atheists for really, really putting the screws to Harold Camping and his Rapture crew.

Don't know who Harold Camping is? Well, you don't have much time to figure it out because according to Camping and the hundreds of lunatics believers who follow him, the end of the world is coming May 21. Actually, the END of the world will be in October. May 21 is when Jesus comes back and all good Christians get raptured out of their clothes, cars, jobs and (rubs hands together) money!

Yes, Camping's been wrong about other end of the world predictions. No, the hundreds of people piling into Armageddon-wrapped vans don't give a shit as they cross the country spreading the word. But what makes this different than 1994 (the last time Camping was wrong), is that the American Atheists have enough dough to put up these billboards:


Which are ALMOST as funny as these:


Well done atheists, well done. Too bad it won't make a lick of difference. Neither will the fact that these poor bastards will still be here on May 22 saddled with enough congnitive dissonance to choke a herd of elephants. THAT'S the interview I want.

Actually, I do plan on calling Camping's, uh, camp, to get some ideas on what they're planning to do with all their stuff after they get sucked up by the Jesus straw. I doubt I'll get any replies, but I'll let you know immediately.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Am Legion





So a few days after the devastating Japanese earthquake (apparently the hard work of prayee McGee over here), I reluctantly/fervently got embroiled in an end of the world debate with two of my co-workers.

One of them, I'll call him Francis (because I've always wanted to rename someone Francis), was convinced that the quake, along with the mass deaths of birds and the Mayan 2012 calendar, was proof that SOMETHING huge was about to happen.

Now, let me state upfront that I like Francis. He's a great guy, funny, and really good at his job. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't lose a thimble of respect for him as his argument jumped from one disconnected myth to the next before ultimately ending in a rather heated defense of aliens building Egyptian pyramids; "They have hieroglyphs of aliens on the pyramids!" he raged.

My other co-worker, Alphonso St. Drucker III (not his real name), took the opposite position, or what I called, the Sane Approach. Al (for short) argued that the earthquake was no more a sign than any other natural disaster that we've seen this year alone, let alone since we've been recording such things. He laid out, in a lengthy email, the literal HUNDREDS of people -- mostly apocalyptic Christians -- who've unsuccessfully predicted the end of days. But the real capper happened with this paraphrased exchange:

Al: They're all myths. You can't apply myths and made up stories to the world we live in.

Francis: Well how do you know they're stories? You weren't there to witness them.

Al: Do you honestly believe that Noah's Ark was an accurate story?

Francis: Well, no but by that standard you'd say the whole bible was made up?

Al: Precisely.

I'll admit this to you now -- I came a little bit when he said that.

Not because I was touching myself (lesson learned HR department, let's move on please). No, it was because with one word, I found that I was not alone at work. It's a strange isolation to be Black and atheist. To a very large degree, believing is one of the cultural cornerstones of the Black identity. It goes without saying that without church there would not have been the Civil Rights Movement. Watch any Black comedian and within 10 minutes you'll get a joke about loud preachers, sticky-fingered parishoners and some foul-mouthed old lady in the pews. I can probably count on one hand how many Black people I've eaten with who do NOT pray before grubbing. Long story short, Black folks are religious.

I don't want to get in a whole big thing here (you know -- like devote an entire blog to it or anything) but my lack of faith has often put me on the outside of mainstream Black culture, a perch I've learned to love as I've gotten older. But that doesn't make it any easier, especially working for and with Black folks who can be judgmental and even fearful of non-believers. Quick story: I overheard two co-workers discussing dating and one said she ALMOST dated an atheist. The other woman literally recoiled saying "Keep them away from me!" So you kind of see where I'm coming from.

Needless to say, within minutes of the debate's end, I was calling Al asking him to come to my office. Once inside, I shut the door and opened the floodgates of my heathen soul. And he did the same.

And thus the opening minutes of this year's most unlikely romantic comedy "Struck by Lightning."

Seriously, though, we do snicker a lot now. Shooting each other looks and rolling our eyes when co-workers say things like "death always comes in threes." It is positively gay, but I'm not complaining. At least I've found someone, right?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Full Tilt Crazy



I don't use the word "bitch" that often -- usually just in court or in Wendy's Drive-Thrus (don't ask) -- but THIS bitch right here is crazy!

Look, I get it.

When you're looking for evidence that God exists there's nothing more solid than a good old, 8.9 earthquake to shore up your doubts. I mean it's got everything -- 100,000s of dead men, women and children, widespread panic, fires, massive floods -- it's soooo B.C.!

And considering we only have, what, two months before the rapture, the Japanese earthquake/tsunami is just God stretching his smiting muscles, right?

So I can't blame evagelical Christians who read armageddon into natural disasters, but to actually PRAY for them is just plumb fucking crazy! Strike that, plumb fucking evil.

And not to mention, useless.

Crazy Bitch upstairs says she and her friends prayed for a major sign from God to convince atheists to convert. And while I cannot speak for all atheists, earthquakes, as devastating as they may be, are kind of vague.

Want to prove God's existence, have him do something that, I don't know, doesn't already happen literally hundreds of times a year. How about a HUGE FACE IN THE SKY CLAIMING -- "YES I AM GOD." Or even the whole flipped city from "Inception." Shit, I'll take world peace. But claiming natural disasters . . . oh hell, I can't even give this anymore thought.

Sometimes these believers really suck.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Like Dead Birds from Heaven




Yeah, so . . . . I haven't blogged for a while.

Why?

Cause.

Now, on to other news.

So, as you know by now, thousands of birds dropped dead on new year's in Arkansas and as soon as I saw the news I just KNEW it would be a matter of time before I heard someone marking it as a sign of the end of days. And to be fair, when I saw the newscast, it DID seem like one of the overt foreshadowing scenes in a Jerry Bruckheimer disaster film, one in which I would surely be the Black (and therefore expendable) best friend of the White hero. I'd probably be named Lucius and I'd be full of life-affirming advice like "let go man" and "turn off your brain, turn on your heart."

Clearly I've thought about this too much.

Anyway, it took exactly three days for someone to call "GOD DID IT" (believe it or not, it wasn't Kirk Cameron). If you know anything about my house, you know that the basement floods. A lot. It's like a hobby. A very expensive, teeth-grating hobby that makes me wanna punch my house in the face.

Anyway, the guy who came to fix the basement was all a flutter about the dead birds.

"I tell you, he's coming back." He said. The "he" being Jesus or perhaps The Terminator, he didn't really specify but I assume the former.

You'd be proud, I didn't roll my eyes, not even once.

I wanted to, I mean my eyes were in pole position but I realized there was no point. We are just two different types of people. Which brings me to the new grand conclusion of my life -- that the world has two types of people; those that believe in coincidence and those that don't. I'm the former.

Birds fall from the sky on New Year's Eve -- Eerie? Yes.
2012-ish? You bet.
Coincidence? Without a doubt.

For some, that is simply too much to handle. The event is too ripe with potential meaning for it to mean NOTHING.

There's this little thing I learned about called "magical thinking," which basically breaks down to believing in the causal relationship between unrelated things. Like, cold weather leading to catching a cold (something apparently EVERYONE believes) or celebrities dying in threes. Essentially, its
superstition and I don't have a drop of it in me.

Ok, when I was a kid I may have avoided some sidewalk cracks so as to not put my mother in traction, but after slipping up a few times and finding my mother in perfect health, the "magic" started to wear thin. If it helps, my belief in Santa was broken once I saw how big the country was after driving from New Jersey to Dallas. AND I WAS SEVEN! Logic started to bear out where magic and supernatural did not.

Now, having said that, I allow that there are things that science has yet to explain and that there may be things like telepathy or clarivoyance (maybe), but when it comes to dead birds and the return of a 3,000 Jewish hippie it all feels kinda . . . iffy.

So, as I embark on this new year of blogging, I want to warn ALL believers, be you Christians, Muslims or simply someone who REALLY thinks being born in January makes you different than someone born in June -- I'M COMING FOR YOUR FAITH!!!!!!! (that's really extreme, I mean, keep your faith by all means. It's not, you know, up to me what you believe. I just, well, I just want you to think about some of the things you say and do and understand that some of it is kinda silly). 


Over the last few months I've come to a grand conclusion; there is a distinct difference between myself and the carpenter (ironic no?) in my house. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

This Woman is Whack!

At this point, almost a week since Christine O'Donnell has won the Republican bid to ultimately lose run for the Delaware Senate seat, talking about her kooky statements would seem almost nostalgic.

Except, I haven't yet sprayed my brand of snark on the subject just yet, so yeah, it's going to happen. 

At first I was a bit hesitant.

Back in the 90's EVERYONE was doing crazy shit. Saggy jeans and tight spandex ran neck and neck for the top way to humiliate yourself in public; Paula Abdul was completely and un-ironically relevant; and, most importantly, there was barely even an internet (you can stop raising your hand AOL, we see you and we're ignoring you). Truth, the following things happened to me all in the 90's:
1. I lost my virginity while listening to an extended version of "Moments in Love" by the Art of Noise
2. I had a flatop haircut
3. I cheered when OJ was found "not guilty"

You feel all your respect for me just zipped up its coat and beat a line for the door? I wouldn't want my 1990's behavior/statements/music choices to define me now that I'm all respectable. And neither should Christine O'Donnell. 

Granted, I'm not jockeying for a seat to run an ENTIRE state, but still, fair is fair.

So when I saw the clip of a very 1990's Christine O'Donnell proudly saying that masturbation was un-christian like because it was selfish, I actually thought it was somewhat unfair to dig up some "dirt" as a means of discrediting her. Clearly she was an idealistic teenager who was still finding her way . . . . wait, she was 27! As in the age I was when I had been married for a couple of years and had a child and a mortgage? 

Hmm. 

Ok, look. I understand that being a Christian, or of any faith really, basically requires you to have some absolutes -- otherwise the whole discussion on right and wrong, heaven and hell falls flat. But I assume, that most normal folks allow for some cognitive dissonance as they move through life. "YES,  I believe Jesus is my only ticket to heaven but I'm pretty sure Abdul will get his 72 virgins, too." Like me, I LOVE Star Wars but I don't have the passion, will or time to become the President of a Star Wars fan club. I just don't have it in me.

But Christine did. At the age of 27 she started S.A.L.T. a Christian group that hates vaseline and genitalia or something. Anyway, she was interviewed on an MTV show saying that masturbation required lust which is evil and therefore it too is evil. Apparently, masturbation is ruining marriages. As Christine notes, "if [a man] can please himself, what I'm in the picture for?" Don't believe me? Watch the clip.
  
 
SEE?!?! She was 27 when she said that. Now that she wants to be taken more seriously, she's since admitted to masturbating (JUST ONCE!) in 1999 and claims her faith has matured since the 1990s.

So, I have two quick points.

1. I haven't been 27 for a few years now, but my worldview hasn't changed that fucking drastically. I'm pretty much the same dude.
2. Anybody, AT THE AGE OF 27, who thinks a man will find his woman less desirable because he can jerk off is fucking insane. Yes, there are people addicted to porn who will opt to masturbate over real sex but
A. I'm not talking about them
B. When she made these statements there was no pornhub.com or keezmovies.com for men to get addicted to. Oh, what is pornhub.com? Uh, I dunno.

If jerking off was a legitimate substitute for sex, I, and the rest of the male population, would have never lost our virginity.

No, the real problem is that Christine is an idiot who believes pretty much anything she's told. I can only assume the men she had dealt with at this point were also sexually restricted goofballs convinced that sexual desire would turn them into demons.

I don't live in Delaware but I fear for those that do. Christine O'Donnell lacks the adult ability to discern gray. And while a black and white morality may work when your 18 it does not as an adult and DEFINITELY not as a leader in the government. We need people who can set aside their idiosyncratic views of the world and see life through other's eyes, imagine and have compassion for the varied stations of life. I believe that this woman simply cannot do that. She is too easily swayed by religious hoo-ha.

Just last night, Bill Maher ran the following clip that shows Christine on his Politically Incorrect from 1999 where she said she "dabbled in witchcraft." Apparently a date took her to a movie and then a satanic altar. This is a scant three years after being on MTV as the president of S.A.L.T. So either she was doing a Christian sting or she's a fucking idiot. Sadly, I think it's the latter and this chick may SOON BE RUNNING DELAWARE and then the only jerk-off in the state will be her.