Friday, July 30, 2010

Purgatory University's (P.U.'s) Mission Statement

What? You aren't aware that I'm taking a page from Glenn Beck's playbook and starting my own online university? Click here and read the original post.

Let's not waste any more time and get right to the Mission Statement for PU!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

how are you going to convince all the people whom God has proven himself real to that He's really not there? & how can you convince anyone of anything, God's own Son came here, died for our sins, and everyone's still trying to figure out if He exists!

That was an anonymous message left on the Ask Me Anything page.

We may have a difference of opinions and I'm not talking between the writer of the above message and me. There are fellow Atheists who may have ignored this question. That this person was asking a disingenuous question and only wanted a forum to talk the god talk.


I'm guessing the person who made question/statement read a portion of my blog and then went out of their way to contact me. They accepted my invitation (in that provocative way I have) to have a discussion. Many times I talk to Atheists about Atheism, but what I really like to discuss is Theism with Theists.  I like to believe that I have something to offer. Will this person suddenly suddenly stop being a Theist once they read my response? Probably not. But this is Purgatory and one's best efforts may come to nothing - I accept that premise. 

Here is my response to the author of the question.

I read what you left on the Ask Me Anything page and what strikes me is that you seem to be someone who wants to live a moral life. Me too. I have have a family, friends, and co-workers that deserve to have the best possible world to live in. You have people around you that deserve the best possible world to live in also.

What I think is that people in different places at different times faced similar problems and felt in similar ways as we do. They felt about their god(s) the same way as you do about your God. They felt the same rush at their gods' altar as you do in church. They looked at the night sky and saw the hands of their own gods. You look up at the same night sky and see Jesus. My point is - feeling isn't the way to understand the world. Taking a deep breath and hearing what alternative viewpoints say and critically thinking about them is, what I've found, a good way of navigating life. What you feel very strongly about now may not be the truth. Please entertain that idea.

Ultimately, I'm a guy who wants to make people laugh and for them do a bit of thinking along the way.

I hope you have found my reply useful.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Star Spangled Banner + God = Goderrific!

Here are the improved lyrics to our national anthem.

Oh, say can you see (fellow Christians) by the dawn's early light (made on the first day)
What so proudly we hailed (by the grace of God) at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars (we'll add the cross later) thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air (is it the Rapture?),
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
GOD! GOD! GOD! But not the god of the Muslims.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of Jesus and the home of Intelligent Design!

Yes, shamelessness and insanity are prerequisites...

in Purgatory.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My New Super-Cool Religion: Get Busy!

I had a breakthrough today. While walking around the Charles River I realized something else my new super-cool religion needs - it needs to keep people busy. Think about it. Say I have a really great deity (or deities, I really haven't decided yet), some really funny hats, and numbers coming outta my ass but there is nothing for the faithful millions to do? Those millions are going to go back to their internet porn if they are not constantly reminded that they are part of the bestest religious quackery around. Let's see how other religions get their goddies up and moving.

Islam - Jumping Jesus these guys have it down cold! One of the 5 Pillars of Islam is the salah - ritually praying 5 times a day. In Saudi Arabia they have prayer police to make sure your ass gets to the mosque and perform your godly busy work. Let us not forget that Muslims also have Ramadan, an entire month dedicated to fasting during the daylight hours. You can't forget the Sky Fairy when your tummy is rumbling and you're still praying 5 times a day. That's love - divine love.

Carnival of Progressive Politics

Hey! The post My Jihad Against Traditional Values was accepted in the recent edition of Carnival of Progressive Politics (click here for it). This carnival covers a wide variety of Lefty-ish topics from the environment, civil liberties and of course politics.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Official Mascot's Name

It has been a week and I'm sure you have all been at the edge of your seats about the naming of our platypus mascot. What? You aren't aware of the platypus being Purgatory's animal totem extrordinaire? You should read the original piece - click here.

There were some really good suggestions made: Pluto, Plato, Darwin, and Ryncho el ornitorrinco, to name a few. All were good suggestions, but there can be only one. How would I make a decision? By what criteria?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jew Envy

This may come to a surprise to many Jews, but there are a lot of Gentiles who want to be you.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Into the Day - Providence 48 Hour Film Project

I was recently on the Tango Productions team for the 48 Hour Film Project in Providence RI. The 48 is a competition where teams of film makers craft a short film within two days. This is our movie Into the Day.

If you've seen my other films you will notice that this is different - very different. On this project I was working mainly as writer (though I helped out in a myriad of other ways) and when you do work as a writer on another person's film the job is to capture the story idea on paper and make it "sing".

I am not going to lie to you, dear readers, the job sounds easy but it isn't.

There were several things I found out about myself during the making of this film. I came out of this project as a better writer.
  1. When I've do the 48 in the past I emit an smell of desperation. This desperation has to with the time constraint inherent in the competition. See? Even my wording describes how I see the 48 primarily as a competition. The good thing is that when I'm running my own group I get to set the tempo. As a writer, the job is to work at the tempo of the team leader. Our team leader, Brad Braufman, is very phlegmatic (I learned that word when I studied for the GREs back in the day). I had a real problem shifting gears to Bonnie Cohen's (the other writer) and his speed and I didn't work up to my potential because of it. This was my fault.
  2.  A script doesn't need to be a script. Having written several full length pieces and many, many shorts I am married to the script format. I love it - it's like writing haiku (click here and here to read some of mine). We shot from two pages of scene descriptions/action in non-script format and it all worked out.
  3. I typically work with my regular crew of people and that's not always good. The folks I normally work with are GREAT, but that feeds into my inherent conservatism. Now, the last word most of you would use to describe me is conservative but hear me out. The process that I use to make sense of the world and make decisions is conservative. It takes time for me to observe, hypothesize, and come up with conclusions. The conclusions themselves may be anything but conservative. The process, however, is. Working with new people forces me to be flexible.
That should cover it.

What? You want to me to talk about the  making of the film itself and not just my self involved self indulgent analysis of me, me, me?


We shot the movie in a warehouse/office building that was being renovated. We could shoot as long as we wanted. The bed/make out scene was filmed in one of the crazy open areas. The windows that lined one side of this room allowed that cool shot of Kathy (woman in red) to walk towards us out of the light. The room where the girls kiss was designed to be used as a chemical hazard room. It was boiling hot in a small area - I don't know how folks dealt with it. Which leads me to our actors Marshall and Kathey Brenson, the Dude and Woman in red, and our temptress Corina Bucur. They all did well and went along with whatever crazy stuff our director asked of them. I was really impressed with our DP (camera guy) Anton Shevchenko and David Fisher, the director. Stanley Sagov did the music for my last short Puppy Love and did another terrific job here.

But, you may ask me, "Do you like the film Andy? It is very different from what are used to doing."

I heard an interview with James Levine (director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra) and he said (from what I recall)  that when a person is exposed to a new/different piece of art then it takes three views to really form an opinion of it. It takes that long to process through the novelty and appreciate the piece (or realize it's crap).  The first time I saw Into the Day I knew it was visually gorgeous which is an accomplishment in and of itself, however, a film needs to be more than just pretty. Upon seeing a second and third time I can say that yes I do like it. It is bold, it is ballsy, it makes demands on the viewer.

Here are some pics I took during the project.

This is Bonnie Cohen pretending not to be irritated              Our leader Brad Braufman, demonstrating his
 with me.                                                                             opposable thumb - it's neat!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Top Ten Ways to Initiate the Second Coming!

Christ had said he'd be back. He seems a little shy, so here are my top ten ways of coaxing him back to Earth!

10. Tell Jesus that the Holy Spirit has been here for a loooong time and has been talking smack about him.

9. Sarah Palin is here - even Jesus would have to see her to believe her.

8. Mad Men is premiering July 25th and I'm throwing a kick ass kickoff party! Jesus, you are invited.

7. Jesus would be super popular - to the point it's kinda of culty.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Hey everyone, I've listed all previous questions and my answers from Ask Me Anything on that particular blog page. I think I've done some of my best writing in response to the anonymous questions. Another update is about the letter I sent to the Whitman Express (my local newspaper) about an ad for Sunday School (see my response here). I am sad(?) to announce that they stopped sending me their free weekly newspaper. It's bittersweet, I will now have to read the paper at my local library and continue to satirize them in this blog. Lastly, I will announce the name of our new platypus mascot next Monday! You can still make suggestions - click here

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Talking About My Religious Past - Ask Me Anthing!

I had a really good anonymous question asked of me yesterday from my, Ask Me Anything page and I deleted it by mistake. I contacted support over at and they told me (in not so many words) I was sh*t outta luck.

So here is the question as I best remember it, "You have mentioned your religious past - what made you first think about Atheism?"  I know that isn't it word for word, but I'm going to give a lot of information and hope it answers the original question.

First, I'll start with my religious upbringing. My family belonged to the Warren Avenue Baptist Church in Brockton, MA. Dad was a deacon (a church officer who, along with others, took care of the business aspects at our church) and my mother was our church's organist/pianist/choir director. So I got a lot of God. One of my fondest memories is when the Crucifixion was explained to me in detail (I think I was 7) during Sunday School  (have you seen my letter concerning Sunday School? It's a hoot.) and had a meltdown. I was an extremely sensitive kid and the whole Crown o' Thorns, spear in the gut, and oh yeah - the nailing part was too much for me. My mom had to be called in to calm me down.

During those early years I sucked down all the crazy stuff they had to offer me. Every week there was a new Bible verse to remember and there was a friendly competition in class about who could regurgitate the propaganda the best. I memorized the books of the New Testament and got a fifty cent coin as a reward. When I was thirteen I was baptized. That meant a full body immersion in front of the congregation and it was a very moving experience.

My teen years were a bit more disturbing and confusing than most people's (if you know me personally one of those random stories will pop out on occasion - for the rest of you don't worry most of them will end up in a post eventually) and that was reflected in my religious beliefs. When  I got into middle and later high school many of my peers had very... different beliefs. Some of my friends were pagans, some were Jews, and others Catholics. For a kid who grew up in a fairly restricted home this was eye opening. New ways of being were introduced to me. Do you know what helped?

I kept listening.

I kept thinking.

Oh sure, I did volumes of dumbass/hurtful things like talking about how homosexuals are going to Hell and the such, but at some basic level there was reality testing going on. Instead of ignoring other opinions I thought about them - a lot. At my root I want to understand the world around me (I used to pray for wisdom when I was a kid) and that journey led me away from a strict interpretation of the Bible. Finding Atheism was a long journey for me because a religion's bond with a follower is innately emotional - that meant travelling from a Fundamentalist mindset then to a Liberal view on God, and then making a quick stop at agnosticism before finding Atheism. Getting rid of the Sky Fairy baggage took time.

I just want to add that Carl Sagan's Cosmos (a miniseries) aired for the first time on PBS when I was young (yes I am old) and that made a world of difference for me. Carl Sagan was able to communicate to anyone who was willing to listen about the wonders of science. He also talked about the historical adverserial relationship faith has had with science - that made a big impression on me.

Once again it's about listening...

and reasoning.

I hope that answered your question Anonymous Questioner.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Moon Day!

I was reading Sagan's Brain and found out it was 41 years today that human beings set foot on the moon!


All that work paid off! Let's reflect on what was required to pull off the moon landing.

The Earth centered universe! Thank God for Ptolemy's Geocentric theory that was Church sanctioned for centuries. That's what I call infallible.

Prayer Power It's a common mistake that the rockets which propelled the astronauts were liquid fueled. The US had millions of it's citizens praying around the clock. But everyone saw fire coming out of the engines, right? That was caused by millions of volumes of the Communist Manifesto being burned. Their burning pleased God and along with all of those prayers lifted the mighty vessel to the moon.

Faith Healers Just in case our boys came back with lunar diseases we had the best faith healers available. Best of all they were cheap. No medicine, no fancy dancy equipment needed. Just haul out the leaches and let the healing start!

Snake Handlers Who the hell knows why these guys were around. I'd guess it was for entertainment. It was before the internet and people were bored.

Justin Bieber - The Devil's Disciple!

I have an announcement to make - Justin Bieber is the tool of the Devil!

It's true, that fresh faced 15 year old boy who sings such songs as: Love Me, One Less Lonely Girl, and U Smile, is Trojan Horsing the arch fiend Satan!

How do I know this?

I was on the Westboro Baptist Church's  (you know those folks who picket soldiers funerals because the USA doesn't throw gays into easy-kill ovens) website and God is telling them to picket Mr. Bieber's concert in Kansas City, Missouri on 7/28 at the Sprint Center. The good people at Westboro have been able to see through Justin Bieber's treacherous ways.
Justin Bieber has a platform given to him by God to speak to this world; he has a duty to teach obedience by his actions and words. He refuses to do that because he knows his concert halls would be empty! So, he teaches you to sin and rebel against God's commandments. That is how he got to pose with Anti-Christ Beast Obama last December while performing at Christmas in Washington. He and Obama are of one mind and they are leading this nation to hell! Justin will answer to God! Our message: Put away your idols and filthy manner of life and OBEY TODAY!!
That is such good writing because they mentioned Obama is still the Anti-Christ (in case you have forgotten)!

It's easy to laugh off these lunatics because they don't try to hide their lunacy. They take pride in their Evil Sky Fairy and goddammit they will scream from the highest peaks about it. However (yes there is always a however), they are much less dangerous than those people and institutions that masquerade as legitimate. If the religious leaders of Westboro were molesting children would they get the same hands off treatment by authorities that the Catholic Church has traditionally been given? If the Westboro Church had decided that Empire State building had to flicker its lights because of Jesus would anyone care? When the owners of the building refused to honor Mother Theresa's 100th birthday the Catholic Church played it for sympathy - which is good because it distracted people from all the kiddie f*cking done by priests. If the Westboro folks were the only ones saying that traditional marriage needed to be saved from those horrible homosexuals then gay marriage would have been legalized thoroughout the country a long time ago.

Religion is innately radical. Religion is innately authoritarian. Religion is innately anti-reason.

There is no such thing as a legitimate religion.

I applaud the Westboro Baptist Church because it shows us the true face of faith: intolerant, hateful, and un-American.

Other posts you may like-
America Was Not Founded On Christianity
Alan Turing's Birthday
Christians Of The Southeastern States Unite!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our Official Mascot

I would like to introduce you to the official mascot of Purgatory - Ornithorhynchus anatinus or the Platypus.

This animal is an all round badass of it's environment. You doubt my assertion? Let's look at the facts.

  1. The creature is at home on land and water. Platypus have webbed feet as well as a beaver-like tale that propels itself 'round it's watery domain. On land is hustles on its knuckles as to not mess up the webbing. Have you ever walked around on your knuckles for extended periods of time? I imagine it's tough going ergo amping the street cred of the platypus.

  2. Electroreception - that's right the platypus has the ability to sense the electricity generated by the muscles of it's prey. Where are the receptors for this sixth sense? Where else but that magnificent duck bill it sports. That's right... there is nowhere to hide.

  3. POISON! Yep, the platypus is one of the few mammals that pack venom. Guess where the poison is injected from? No, this critter isn't a snake - the platypus doesn't have fangs in it's mouth. The platypus has it's poisonous spur in it's hind leg. Didn't expect that did you? Neither does the platypus' enemies.

Of  course the playpus will be representing our soon to be P.U. online University which will include the football team - The Fighting Platypi

I'm taking suggestions for a proper name of our mascot (Perry is out of the running).

Here is the original post for Purgatory University (P.U.).
Introducing Laughing In Purgatory University

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Warning! Warning! Warning!




It has been reported (by me at least) that  many of our fellow citizens have been possessed by a rogue meme!

This meme is insidious and goes by many names:


This meme is particularly dangerous and has caused the possessed to:

-Abuse children
-Scapegoat innocent groups of people
-Kill everyone who isn't infected by the meme
and worst of all
-Wear silly hats

Citizens are cautioned to stay alert!
Methods of preventing infection include:

Possessing Critical Thinking Skills
Science Literacy
and most importantly
Reading This Blog

Good luck my fellow non infected citizens!

We need it...

in Purgatory.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Did you know that Dawkins objected to the imposed-upon title of his documentary "the root of all evil", saying that it was stupid and that nothing is the root of all evil?

This is a question from the Ask Me Anything  page. It may have relevance to a similar question I answered earlier Do you agree with Richard Dawkins that religion is the "root of all evil?".  I stated then that I wasn't aware of that quote (and a commenter clarified later that Dawkins never said that) and  I had an opinion that Dawkins may agree with. In that response I stated that religion is a pillar of evil because it is an authoritarian system where an individuals own judgement is replaced by the group's (the Pope, Imam, etc). I used the Milgram Experiment to support my point.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Piece Of The True Cross Stolen! - My Solution


You're watching the news and astounded at the latest events: unemployment benefits drying up for many (hello double dip recession!), that oil geyser thingy keeps geysering, and the crazy Adolf Hitler, Obama, Lenin, billboard in Iowa (see last post).

Well, here in Boston we are ground zero for the upcoming Tribulation and by the title of the post you all know why.

Someone has stolen a piece of the true cross. I am not here to endorse theft (just give them their piece of wood back!), rather to point out the silliness of relics.

What the F*ck?

I was just going to mention how my Purgatory University post got accepted into The Bobo Carnival of Politics (always worth a look!) when I saw this on Yahoo News. America creates it's own unique flavor of insanity (as do other nations) and it's no surprise that this piece d'art was funded by the North Iowa Tea Party.

You know who I feel sorry for? Papa Joe Stalin. That guy needs a better agent. You never see him listed at the top of the a**hole list. He was by far a more successful dictator than Hitler or Lenin. Sure, Lenin got the groundwork going, but Stalin took the ball and ran with it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guest Post From Sarah

Here is a guest post from Sarah, writer of the blog Here & Now. I read the blog on a regular basis and it doesn't suck (high praise from me).

This is a story about how a group of Christians (kind of) converted me . . .

. . . to Atheism, that is. You see, I considered myself agnostic for a long time. I didn’t really buy the whole God thing, but I didn’t want to claim to have all the answers either, so I always said, “Well, you can’t prove that there is, and you can’t prove that there isn’t.” I was proud of myself for being so open-minded.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nothing Happens When You Lose Your Faith?

I was on the Friendly Atheist (click here for the link) and saw this comic (from David Howard). The name of the post was Nothing Happens When You Lose Your Faith.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Filmy Stuff In Purgatory

Hey, I stumbled onto Cose2Cose Productions  while on Atheist Nexus the other day. These guys do a really funny web series called Bible Answers and it's worth checking out. We might do some collaboration in the future. It seems that there's more fun to be had at the expense of wacky, theistically inclined Theists!

Also In Purgatory Film News, I've been getting prepared for the 48 Hour Film Project in Providence, Rhode Island.  The 48 Film Project is a competition where your team writes, shoots, and edits, a short film (typically 4-7 minutes in length) within 48 hours. Sounds easy? No. No it is not. There are several of my past 48 Hour Films on the My Movies page of this blog. It's next weekend and the good news is that I'm not having a meltdown. You see, I'm not running a team as I had done in the past. Brad Braufman, of Monkey Media  Productions, is Executive Producer and Director of our team. Our Director of Photography (DP or as I call him Camera Guy) is the talented Anton Shevchenko. You should check out his site, he's got a variety of beautiful photographs. I've done some production work for the project, but my main role is writing and kicking ass. Once the movie is made I'll do a post about the shoot and place the short on the site.

So that's me...

In Purgatory.

Woman Is The Nigger Of The World

Well, with an intro like that I think I have some explainin' to do.

I was reading the New York Times the other day and saw an article about a rise of honor killings in India (click here to see full article). Honor killings? What are those Muslims up to now? Are they killing their daughters because they want to marry Hindus or Christians?

That's probably happening too, but this article is how Hindus are killing their daughters because they are marrying outside their caste (click here for a full explanation of caste). Hinduism is all about spiritual pollution and becoming squeaky clean. Some groups of people are just born...

dirty - really dirty.

Other groups are born clean and must try their darnedest to stay that way! You can guess that this dogmatic-authoritarian system breeds a strict hierarchy. And as we all know the only way to keep a dogmatic-authoritarian system in place is by the liberal (sorry for the pun) use of force (to paraphrase V. Lenin). This is where the honor killings come in. Marry outside your caste and your whole family is shunned by all the other worshippers of  the local Sky Fairies. The only way to wash the shame away is by killing your errant daughter. This isn't hard to believe when you hear this saying concerning daughters in rural India, "Having a daughter is like watering your neighbor's lawn." It's all work for the father and mother and no return on their investment since they give away their daughter to her husband like a piece of property.

Back to the article.

Nirupama Pathak was a young woman who belonged to the Brahmin caste. The Brahmins are the top dogs of the caste system. She made the mistake of telling her parents that she was going to marry a man of a lower caste. She made the mistake of going home for a visit with her parents.

Now she's dead.

Her body was found in her bedroom.  She was pregnant.

The family says it was suicide.

Her mother has been arrested for murder.

Honor killings are not infrequent in rural India. A United Nations poll in 2006 found that 76% of the population find honor killings not OK (see times article). An uncle to a pair of suspects related to an honor killing stated
What is wrong in it?” the uncle, Dharmaveer Nagar, told the Indian news media. “Murder is wrong, but this is socially the best thing that has been done.”

So, John Lennon probably didn't think about Hindu honor killings when he wrote/recorded the song, but I find it appropriate nonetheless.

Because this...

Is Purgatory.

Other posts you may like-
Alan Turing's Birthday
Taking Responsibility

Friday, July 9, 2010

Introducing Laughing In Purgatory University!

OK, OK, OK...

I'm not making this up.

Glenn Beck has started Beck University. It's totally online so your learning doesn't get distracted by differing opinions of other students. Indoctrination at it's best!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Islamic Defecation 101

I just have to share this crazy story I read about the ritualistic protocol for Muslims who are pooping.

Yep, you read it right and I recommend this piece from The Godless Monster.

It will answer many of your questions regarding this important subject matter.

Click here to read the article.

And don't forget to bring your 3 stones the next time you have to do #2.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My New Super-Cool Religion: Funny Hats!

I've been developing my own religion for some time now.

I've overlooked an important aspect for my new super-cool faith...

funny hats.

Nothing more says, "I'm so hardcore about my particular brand of Sky Fairy (or Sky Fairies as may be the case) that I am wearing this outrageous thing on my head."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Boy's First Trip To A Bar


The family went to a birthday party and got to the restaurant early. We had to wait so my 8 year old boy and his 5 year old sister addled up to the bar as if by instinct. I had just gotten my flip camera and decided to film his thoughts and reflections on this milestone moment.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Behold The Power Of NO!

I got back from Chicago on Thursday night. During my time in the City of Big Shoulders I was able to exercise my favorite superpower - the power of NO!

Here is the power of NO - Part One.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

America Was Not Founded On Christianity

From the Treaty of Tripoli 1796 (click here for full doc.)

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
I think we should pray for the senators who voted unanimously for the treaty as well as president John Adams who signed it.

Obviously, they are all burning in Hell.

As well as the Founders, since they didn't create a theocracy akin to King Solomon or David.

Happy July 4th!

From Purgatory

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Birthday America! or Reboot America 2.0

Well, my favorite holiday is here - July 4th!

I've been making chili, devilled eggs, and potato salad for my annual asskick'n cookout. As I was drinking my third or fourth rum and coke I realized what a mess our country is in. This isn't just me saying it either. Ask most Americans (and it doesn't matter what party they are in) whether they are happy with the Federal Government and they will say no. Gay folks may scratch their heads and wonder why Obama hasn't grown a a pair of testicles and declared the official integration of gays into the Armed Services. Harry Truman did whatever Harry Truman wanted and integrated African Americans into the Armed Forces by Presidential fiat. Isn't Obama Commander in Chief? Other Commanders in Chief (we won't name any names) have declared wars! There's a lot of power in the Presidency. How about asking  Americans about the debt. Hey, it's kinda scary. I'm not going to lie and say I'm all, "Woo-Hoo! We're bankrupting the country even faster than before!" No, I am concerned. Let's face it, most people are unhappy with the state of affairs in Washington.

I have a solution that everyone can sign onto.

Friday, July 2, 2010

If not believing in a god is the only requirement for being an atheist, can Buddhists be considered atheists?

This anonymous question is from the Ask Me Anything page. I've been in Chicago on vacation so it took me a bit longer than usual to answer it.

Well, I think we should start by defining our terms. We'll start with the easy and work up to the not so easy.

Atheist You would think this is easy, right? Sure, Atheists don't believe in god(s) but that leaves a lot of folk under the big umbrella of Atheism. Atheists may be: believers in karma (the moral Law of the Universe), alien abductions, buyers of lottery tickets, or just no nonsense empiricists. We are a very diverse group.

Buddhism Buddhism is based on the teachings of  Siddhartha Gautama who lived in sixth century BCE India (click here for link). His teaching may be summed up as: People are miserable because they attach their sense of who they are to impermanent things like: one's physical body (it will wither and die), a job, and/or social role. The trick to not being miserable is to cultivate a sense of non-attachment. Non-attachment is attained by discipline and/or rituals. That leads us to the two main branches of Buddhism.

Theravada Buddhism has been called Little Boat Buddhism (click here for link and look under Buddhist Faith). This school focuses on a hardcore ascetic  lifestyle. If you see a statue or picture of a thin Buddha then that guy is usually a Theravada Buddha. This form of Buddhism is common in southern Asia. These guys are typically Atheists.

Mahayana Buddhism Is more like "Buddhism for the masses". While Theravada Buddhism asserts that only a few hardcore badasses get out of the cycle of misery and become enlightened, Mahayana states that everyday schmoes like you and me can become enlightened too (click here for link). Mahayana is known as Big Boat Buddhism and is popular in China and Japan. Zen, a form many Westerners are acquainted with, is in the Mahayana branch. As Buddhism migrated from India through Tibet and China it picked up folk aspects of religions already there. Those folk aspects include supernatural entities and deities. Zen, it should be noted does not recognize deities.

So you are asking yourself, "Just answer the damn question Andy!"

What I'll say is that you CAN be an Atheist and be a Buddhist.

But being a Buddhist does not automatically make you an Atheist.


Is it me or is there some kind of weird phallic/Freudian thing going on here?

From my recent trip to Chicago.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Carnival Of Rants

Who would've thought that a blog carnival named A Carnival of Rants would include one of my posts? Which particular rant, you may ask? Longevity - Purgatory Style! is the post where I outline my plan to live to 100 by harnessing the power of Evil. Check out the blog carnival by clicking here.

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