Thursday, September 30, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 30 - Happy Blasphemy Day

This is the winner of the Campaign for Free Expression Public Service Announcement Video Contest. I like it... I wonder if they had seen that Bob Dylan video from back in the day.

A quick review of past events. On September 30, 2005 a newspaper in Denmark published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.  The uber-blasphemnous cartoon (as against the other blasphemous cartoons) had a bomb in the turban of the Prophet. I found this nifty video based on this cartoon and thought it was necessary to share it with you all.

After the publication of the original cartoons much of the Muslim world went... what's the word? Batsh*t crazy. Danish (hmmmmm danish) embassies around the world were under siege by protesters.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister who has been burnt in effigy in dozens of cities across the world since the crisis began in late January, has called the furore Denmark's worst international relations incident since the Second World War.(click here for link)
That's not the craziest thing about this story, however. Jihadis are still gunning for the newspaper (see article here). The most recent attempt was earlier this month.

Beyond God and atheism: Why I am a 'possibilian' - My Response

A buddy of mine posted this article on Facebook and I had to respond. Here is the piece, it's an easy 2 page read.

Does it make your head want to explode?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 29 - Yahweh Says No Way!

I was thumbing through this week's Economist looking for material. I struck gold. Sometimes a news story is so absurd I don't need to make a lot of jokes. The name of the article is, That wobbly balance - Another row between the religious and the secular in Israel  (complete article is here)
The latest effort to tip things the religious way comes from Eli Yishai, leader of the largest Orthodox party, Shas, who is minister of the interior. He wants his ministry’s computers to rest on the Sabbath.
Wow. Is Yahweh making space in the spiritual world for the silicon soul? Does the covenant cover our future digital overlords?

Donate Button -Tip Jar

Hey everyone, I added a Donate Button to the blog. I consider Purgatory to be entertaining as well as informative so this is a way for the audience (you the readers) to tip me in case you want to. Of course, if you don't like the blog feel free to continue to send me your hate mail.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 28 - Lords of the Idiots

Why do you come here?

I hope it's for the humor, a bit of information, and a certain degree of blunt/crass honesty that I spin.

If so, you won't be disappointed.

It was early this morning when my buddy (a fellow Atheist) sent me a link to the LA Times article titled  Atheists, agnostics most knowledgeable about religion, survey says. I read through it quickly and joined the celebration in the Godless blogosphere. This story was on many of the sites that I read on a regular basis and it was all Woo-Hoo! for us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 26 - Evolution of Religion II

This is Part 2 of my answer to this anonymous question,  How do you believe religion evolved in humans? Don't get me wrong, I'm not a crazy theist trying to convert you. Just a confused athiest that has many answers but nothing definitive. If you could cite some sources that would work, but so would logic

As a quick review, yesterday I wrote about the naturalistic case for the origins of religion. This post is more of the nitty gritty of the theories concerning the evolution of religion. First, I think we should all be on the same page about what a theory actually is. How common is it that a Sky Fairyist talks about Evolution is just a theory! In everyday conversation (for us non-scientists at least) a theory is thought of as a guess. This guess may be good or bad (look at any tabloid and there are many theories running about). I found this definition of scientific theory from
A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven. Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it's an accepted hypothesis.
I read The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, a while back and he has quite a bit dedicated on how religion may have developed. The following is taken from that book along with some other sources. When asking why a creature is the way it is you can phrase the question as, "Why is this adaptive? What does this behavior or body part, physiological process, etc do to keep this organism alive and pass on its genes?" Sex feels sooo good  because it ensures that the act will be done repeatedly and ensures the next generation (d'uh). Why is religion adaptive?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 26 - Evolution of Religion

How do you believe religion evolved in humans? Don't get me wrong, I'm not a crazy theist trying to convert you. Just a confused athiest that has many answers but nothing definitive. If you could cite some sources that would work, but so would logic

This is an anonymous question from my Ask Me Anything Page.

Well, that's a big question. Considering I'm not a scientist I think I can muddle through this question and actually make some sense.

Friday, September 24, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 24 - Life of Brian

Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) is must see for blasphemers everywhere. Geeks compete against each other to see who can quote the most lines from this movie. I have not engaged in this activitiy, but I've observed it, and it isn't pretty. A logline is a one or two sentence summation of a movie. I found this logline on IMDb
Brian is born on the original Christmas, in the stable next door. He spends his life being mistaken for a messiah.
I think it ought to be mentioned that the movie is not an attack on Jesus, rather it's a satirical look at the human condition and religion. At one point John Cleese is garbed as a rabbi about to officiate over a public stoning. The crime? Some poor sod uttered the name of Jehovah. In Pythonesque fashion the scene devolves into an absurdist volley of rocks. Another scene has a crowd arguing over a gourd and Brian's sandal as the best symbol for his message. No one is spared in this movie, and that is the theme: We are all idiots.
"You don't need to follow me!," he pleads in exasperation. "You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves! You're all different!"
The crowd responds, "Yes! We're all different!"
And one tiny voice pipes up, "I'm not." (read the full Boston Globe review here)

This movie almost didn't get made. EMI pulled funding for the film just before the team was to go to Tunisia (same country Star Wars was filmed). It seems that someone in the company finally read the script and said something like, Jesus hopping Christ! We can't support this movie. Luckily for our heroes George Harrison cowboyed up the cash for the production (he was a huge Python fan).

Religious nuts loooove controversy because it gets them a lot of free press. Think about it, if there wasn't anyone actively working to irritate the Catholic Church then they would have to make up a controversy. The Catholics, Protestants, and some Jewish groups actively picketed against the showing of the film. The controversy fueled the popularity of the movie even more. There were some countries that banned the movie outright: Norway 1979-1980, Singapore and Ireland 1979-1987. In England various municipalities banned the movie or gave it an X rating which prevented the film from being shown (I guess you need a special permit to show rated X films). I am happy to report good news! Devon, England decided to change its policy and lifted the ban in 2008 - 28 years after the release.

One of the best comedy movies ever...

in Purgatory,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 23 - My Letter to God

Dear God,

I hope you accept the name God for your transcendent diviness. Many down here go about throwing that God name around and just assume we're talking about the same entity. You have Mormons talking about a God who lives on another planet who's making celestial babies with his numerous wives. There's the Catholic God who wants his priests celibate (I'm sure you know best). The Jewish God with the hangup on shellfish and the Islamic, maybe he's the pagan Moon god maybe he's not, Allah. This should cover any and all of you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 22 - God, Gays, and Montana

What is it about mountains and crazy religious people?

Is it the thin mountain air that prevents oxygen from getting to the vital getting your head out of your ass areas in the brain?

Maybe seeing nothing but trees, rock, and sky shakes a person's sanity to its foundations? Prisoners in super-max prisons can display psychotic symptoms due to being alone and in a monotonous environment (nothing but 4 walls 23 hours a day). It's no wonder many prophets went out to the middle of nowhere to become enlightened. They weren't being visited by God, Allah, or the Lucky Charms Leprechaun - they were experiencing hallucinations generated by their monkey minds.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 21 - Blasphemous Parenting III

School is in session.

Do you know how I know?

I got my first phone call from my boy's teacher. When you get a call from your kid's teacher it isn't a, "I just called to tell you that Will is a wonderful student and gosh darn it you must be a fantastic father!" Maybe some parents do get that kind of phone call. Maybe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Good News - I've been able to get Purgatory onto a custom domain. I've been able to do this with only 1 hour spent wrestling with the Google gods. Considering I'm a techiot (technology + idiot = techiot) it hasn't been that bad.

Bad News - It seems that all the previous comments are gone. That's too bad because many readers wrote some excellent insights.

This is the last major change in Purgatory for the foreseeable future.

Thanks again to everyone during this transition.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 19 - Blasphemous Parenting II

I walked in from work last Wednesday at 8AM and the kids were eating breakfast.

Ali (age 5): Hi Dad!

She's so happy, it seems unnatural to me.

Me: Hiya.

Will (age 8): Hi Dad.

Will, he's a happy kid too but in that geeky way. Nothing makes him happier than talking about his favorite superhero show Ben 10. I can understand that.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Blog Update

I'm sorry for doing two blog updates fairly close together, but Purgatory is experiencing some technical difficulties. I am switching from a to a custom domain. The new URL will be and hopefully the transition will be over on Monday or Tuesday. Until then I apologize for any problems.

Any comments, questions, or observations? Email me at


30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 18 - Atheism, Depseration, and God

Why do atheist say "Oh, my God!" in a perilous or life threatening situation, when they don't believe in God?

This is an anonymous question from the Ask Me Anything Page of this blog. I think this is a fair entry into 30 Days of Blasphemy because it does run counter to many theist perceptions. Regardless, it's funny even though it probably doesn't warrant Allah killing me (that counts as blasphemy!)

Though the writer may not have meant to be insulting she has probably succeeded with some Atheists. I picked up this general rule a few years ago. The rule is, Do not turn a person (or group of people) into a characterture. By turning people into a two dimensional figure we assume that they always act a certain way. Religious people are always anti-gay (not true). Children never listen to their parents (though it may seem that way) and Atheists say Oh my God when the proverbial sh*t hits the fan. This seems to be a default setting we humans seem to have as a species. We want ideas to be simple and easy to digest. In the same vein we want people to be easily understood.

That, my friends, is a potentially fatal flaw.

There are many ways to answer this question.  I could talk about the Atheists in the military or the multitude of Atheist therapists and social workers who face real evil every day and don't call out to God for divine intervention. However, I will bear witness and talk about how I almost killed myself. No, it wasn't a suicide attempt, rather a simple example of how I can be a complete idiot.
This was about 8 years ago. We (the wife, the boy, cat, and dog) had been in the suburbs for 6 months or so. When we moved my wife was pregnant and had Will a few months afterwards.  I was still fat Andy (clocking in at a ripe 220-ish lbs). Fat Andy meant that I had allergies. Previously I had been living in Boston and there wasn't a lot of that nasty green stuff....what do they call them? Oh yeah, plants, trees, shrubbery,etc. Since moving to the 'burbs I discovered how much allergies suck. I had gone to my doctor and gave me a bag full of free drugs and said, "Good luck."
So I was on Dad duty one day and my boy was asleep. Who would've guessed that infants can sleep for 3 hours at a time during the day?  I used that time to de-fat myself (exercise) as well as write scripts and play way too much Civilization 2. Way too much. I was motivated that day and decided to shower. I wanted some relief from the aforementioned allergies and took an inhaler before turning on the water. I like hot showers (this has relevance on what happens next).
I'm in the shower thinking about killing zombies and the steam was  filling the room - all was right in the world. I then noticed an interesting effect from the inhaler I had taken moments earlier - bronchial restriction.
I couldn't breathe.
The steam from the shower must've exacerbated the effect from the inhaler (which, I imagine was to get the phlegm outta my lungs).
I couldn't breathe.
I was in the freakin' shower naked and I couldn't breathe. What a complete idiot.
I bent over and tried to cough.
Nope, not working though I was wheezing. This is a good sign. If you're wheezing then some air is getting through. Not a lot, but some.
I work with brain injured men. I know what happens when your brain doesn't get enough oxygen. Bad things. Really bad things.
I vaulted out of the shower and ran to the kitchen phone dripping wet. No towel, just me and the open windows. I reached for the telephone to dial 911.
I hesitated. What if I call 911 and it turns out that I'm fine in a minute or two? I'd have to explain what just happened and they'd look at me like I'm some schmuck. I'm feeling kinda schmucky right now and I don't want other people to confirm that perception. What if I don't call? The wife will find my body in a pool of water. Not the optimal way to be found dead. My ideal way... well suffice it to say that I'm hoping to avoid that as long as possible (fingers crossed for cryogenics). Oh, what about the cat? Did I feed it today? That is one crazy cat and I don't want it to nibble on my dead eyelid.
I am not lying, that was my thought process.  By the time I had processed out that thread my breathing was much better . I didn't call 911. In retrospect, I should've.
What's important to note is:
  1. I was an Atheist.
  2. I really thought I was about to die.
  3. At no point did I say any variation of, "God please save my fat, stupid, and soaking wet self!"
I hope that personal anecdote helped.

This is Purgatory.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

30 Days of Balsphemy - Day 16 - Wow, You Believe In What?

I thought this was going to be a slow night. I'd stare at the computer for a while, think of some lame joke and then write a post trying to make the joke appear as if it was totally spontaneous. I never do that... not really at least.  The news gives me more than enough material to satirize. Today however, was different because no news story really "sang out to me". My ideal bit o' news to comment on can be summed up in this equation: Insanity + Stupid = Funny. Sure there are other variations of the formula, but you get the basic idea. I had been through the New York Times, various parts of the blogosphere and nothing seemed to work. Dejected, I went to the bookstore after dropping the kids off to my wife's aunt (80 years old and a survivor of pancreatic cancer) for a few hours. I plugged in and then the epiphany struck me like a big sack of hammers.

No, not the Pope's visit to England.

No, it's not the story of how that poor cartoonist who started Drawing Mohammed Day now must live in hiding (click here for piece).

No. I found inspiration in a story concerning the Church of Body Modification (there's the link so you know I'm not making this up!).

The story in a nutshell (see full article here) - A 14 year old girl who lives in Raleigh, NC has a nose ring (if we are following the above formula this is neither insane or stupid). This girl, unsurprisingly, goes to school. The school has a policy against facial jewelry and has suspended the girl because she won't take the ring out. Is this just me or does this rule seem arbitrary and stupid? You  know there is this Jedi move that therapists use to help folks put things in perspective. It is the "What's the worst thing that can happen?" question. What would happen if all the students walked into school with nose rings!

I predict chaos. The esteemed Dr Peter Venkman summed up the consequences of a similar situation years ago.
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria! -  from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters


That's the Stupid part of the equation.

Now for the Insane variable.

Why doesn't the 14 year old in question want to take out her nose ring?

It's against her religion.

She belongs to the Church of Body Modification.  This is a real church with about 3,500 members and has a non-tax status. On the plus side there is no Sky Fairy to this faith. However, there is still a lot of wacky wackiness going on there. This is from their home page.
The Church of Body Modification represents a collection of members practicing ancient and modern body modification rites. We believe these rites are essential to our spirituality. Practicing body modification and engaging in body manipulation rituals strengthen the bond between mind, body, and soul. By doing so, we ensure that we live as spiritually complete and healthy individuals.
Really? Sticking stuff into your body makes you a better person?  Are there any peer reviewed studies on this? Can you really ensure that by sticking stuff into your body (I think that includes tattoos too... they're needles involved) that you will live a spiritually complete and healthy life? I don't know, that just seems insane. Harmless, but insane (arguably the best kind of insane).  I'm all for you having the right to do this. Be my guest. If my child grows up to be a member of this esteemed church I'll go to whatever service is necessary (weddings should be a hoot, with the joining of two people) and I'll shut up like I would in any other service (more or less).

This just supports my theory that if you're the only one with the crazy ideas, they lock you up in a Psych unit and/or tell you to take the anti-crazy pills. If you get a gaggle of like minded people BAM! you've got yourself a religion.
I have a few quick ideas for a new religion that I want to throw out to Purgatory's readers.
Church of Banging My Head Against The Wall - I believe that minor brain damage can only make me a betterer (hey, the brain damage is working already!) person.
Church of Sex - It may not make you a better person, but who the cares?
Church of I Get What I Want When I Want It! - Someone has stuff you want? Take it. If they argue tell them they are being intolerant and going to Hell.
Remember, we just need to get enough people to believe.
This is Purgatory.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blog Update

I have added a Laughing In Purgatory Facebook link onto the blog. You see, I come across a lot of interesting articles/videos and think of funny bits that really don't fit well into the blog format. I also don't want to bother my email subscribers with every little thing that I think is cool. What? You're not an email subscriber? This is a great chance to sign up by clicking the link over at the top right Subscribe to Laughing In Purgatory.

Oh yeah, the Facebook page is not a fan page. I have conflicted feelings about being a fan (except for some comic books, movies, and Rush) or having fans (awfully close to that word fanatical... it makes me uneasy). Regardless, I hope you enjoy Purgatory wherever you find it.

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 15 - The Confederacy Sucked

The Confederacy sucked.

It sucked from its beginning to its end.

It continues to suck because the Confederacy continues to have a zombie-like existence in the  minds of many modern day "traditionally minded Southerners". I assume many of these traditionally minded folk are also pro family, pro Intelligent Design, and pro God. See that's the language of code. People use code so that when they are screwing with you it just doesn't sound so... dickish. Let's translate those terms into something that's understandable: pro family = anti-gay, pro Intelligent Design = anti-evolution, and pro God = pro superstition.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 12 - Every Sperm is Sacred!

This is the classic Every Sperm is Sacred from the 1983 movie The Meaning of Life done by Monty Python. I highly recommend the movie. My favorite part is towards the end and there is a dinner party with an unexpected guest. I won't say anything else about the movie in case you haven't seen it.

Of course the movie will cause you to go to Hell. Ireland had the good sense to ban the film when it came out, but the DEVIL infiltrated the hallowed halls of the Irish Film Classification Office (censorship central) and lifted the ban in 1990 (here for link).

Because of that act Jesus will surely b*tchslap them.

As if the Irish haven't suffered enough.

And no, I'm not talking about another great Monty Python movie Life of Brian right now. I'm saving that for next week.

Enjoy the blasphemy...

in Purgatory.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Atheism and 9/11

I was standing on a hill in the park early this morning. The park is one of the nicer aspects in the town where I live. Just a few yards away stands a monument to the Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. My kids, Will and Ali (8 and 5 respectively) were in the annual soccer parade. Yes, a soccer parade where all the kids march a few blocks through the center of town to the soccer field. It's right out of a Normal Rockwell painting.

I was standing on the hill waiting. It was the anniversary of  9/11 when religious fanatics flew jets into skyscrapers. I was driving into work and heard the news while listening to Howard Stearn on the radio. One of his crew called into the radio station and reported what had happened to the first building. I switched over to several news channels, but they had nothing in those initial minutes. I switched back to Howard as I drove into work. Like many, I spent much of my day looking at the carnage.  When the information seemed to much for me to handle I switched to Fox News. When I was ready to plunge back in I switched to TLC where the BBC was covering the story. The BBC focused primarily (as I recall) on the Pentagon attack. The Pentagon was a military target. The Pentagon is the brain for the Armed Forces. The destruction of the Pentagon would have meant the US's ability to respond to any more threats would be significantly weakened. Who knew how many more assaults would come?

I was standing on the hill waiting. The attacks on 9/11 are said to have changed everything. I disagree. The attacks were another part of the war not between Christianity and Islam, rather of the Enlightenment and Barbarity. Enlightenment values (human rights, secularism, and democracy) have more or less have been victorious in the West. Certainly, liberty is always at risk from the it's enemies: fear, hatred, and superstition (God), and we have a ways to go, but the authoritarian societies made powerful by our oil addiction are currently the main enemies of Enlightenment values.

I was standing on the hill waiting. What can I do? How to navigate through a world where madness is often the rule and not the exception? Ruthlessness and compassion. A personal ruthlessness in discovering facts, methods, and systems that can make the world a better place. Compassion in terms of understanding that most people are trying their best. Compassion when talking to them about the problems that face us all. Compassion in the face of barbarity.

I was standing on the hill waiting. The parade was nearing and sirens from the fire engines grew louder. It was nine years after 9/11.

I walked down the hill.

Friday, September 10, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 10 - Ten Blasphemous Principles

Has it been ten days of blasphemy already?

The time has flown.

Let's do a little review and then continue with the blaspheming. I first heard about International Blasphemy Day on Atheist Revolution back in August. The day was created by the Center for Inquiry to acknowledge and celebrate free speech. Free speech is always under threat by those who wish to use force and stifle dissenting opinions. The Center for Inquiry is also running the Campaign for Free Expression video contest. This is pretty cool, filmmakers get to make a PSA (Public Service Announcement) about free speech (link here).  Time is short however, and videos must be in by the 20th.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 9 - Blasphemous Parenting

It's that time of year again, school is back in session. As regular readers of Purgatory know I have two kids, Will and Ali (entering 3rd grade and Kindergarten). After a summer of nerd related activities (many trips to the library, a science experiment or two, trip to the Children's Museum, etc) they are ready to enter the hallowed halls of kid sized academia.

Or something like that.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blog Update - 30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 8

I would like to announce that the deity of your choice has struck me down with - what's the clinical term?

The poops.

All day.

Well, I have other important news my post Glenn Beck, Honor Rally, and the Military made it into the current Bobo Carnival of Politics. I am quite happy that my post has not been pigeonholed into a political camp (conservative, liberal, etc.). If nothing else I try to communicate that reason should trump ideology.

I think I'll call that enough blasphemy for the day. I'm off to the bathroom...

in Purgatory.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 7 - Dove World Church

Straight up - I want to apologize. The video below is from those Cuckoo for Coco-Puffs Christians at the Dove World Church. Who? These are the people who are doing Burn the Koran Day this Saturday on the anniversary of 9/11. I found this nugget on their website.

What I really like is the kick-ass soundtrack and the good pastor's Saint Crispin Day speech (I'm also sorry the the heavy nerd/Shakespeare reference... but Goddamit I love Henry V) that makes me want to say. "Yes! I will follow your mumbo and the jumbo to the end of the world!"


But being on the Dove World Church site is like going out drinking with your loud mouth friend who doesn't know when to shut up. There is just one crazy bat-sh*t rambling statement after the other.

Why yes I do have an example. This is the reason why they feel justified burning the Koran.

From Acts 19 (Amplified)

18Many also of those who were now believers came making full confession and thoroughly exposing their [former deceptive and evil] practices.
19And many of those who had practiced curious, magical arts collected their books and [throwing them, book after book, on the pile] burned them in the sight of everybody. When they counted the value of them, they found it amounted to 50,000 pieces of silver (about $9,300).
20Thus the Word of the Lord [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] grew and spread and intensified, prevailing mightily.
Very good. Their Sky Fairy says it's OK so it must be so. Using this reasoning one can justify burning any book that doesn't have the God stamp of approval.

At this point I hope I have enough Atheist street-cred that when I say, "Gosh, burning books isn't a sign of a civilized society," other Atheists think I've gone soft. I'm not arguing that these Christians don't have a right to burn the Koran what I am saying is that this action will pull more more moderate Muslims into the radical camp (the same argument I've used for the Ground Zero Mosque).

Signing off...

in Purgatory.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 5 - Strategic Blasphemy

I have to be straight with you all, I believe in blasphemy, but I don't believe in stupid. By stupid I mean committing an act (lets say a blasphemous act) in a country with limited free speech (say Indonesia) without weighing the consequences of one's actions.

What? Do I have an example in mind?

Yes. Yes I do.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 4 - Skeptic Blasphemy

I was reading through PZ Meyers' Pharyngula this afternoon and saw a post titled A taxonomy of dicks. Intrigued, and always willing to expand my knowledge of dickology, I read on. I clicked on a link that sent me to a blog named Science Digestive, written by Dr. Dean Burnett (PhD in neuroscience). The post he had written was A Beginner's Guide to Skeptical Dickery. It's worth a read, but what does it has to do with blasphemy?

Friday, September 3, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 3 - Hitchens, Conversion, and Atheist Blasphemy

I was reflecting on Christopher Hitchens today - Atheist (I will reiterate my big A Atheist policy: If Goddies bend and break secular laws then I can capitalize Atheist), prolific author, and Oxford graduate who is sooo smart it makes lesser mortals' heads hurt. I was reading a recent article by Hitchens in Slate titled White Fright. White Fright is Hitchens' take on Glenn Beck's "Honoring Rallies for Honor" or was it "Rallies Honoring Rallies?" Whatever. His point is that white folks will soon be a minority in the USA and the Tea Party movement along with Beck's brand of demagoguery is a fear based reaction to that fact. Whether or not Mr. Hitchens' has been able to read the tea leaves correctly he brings up a salient fact: Power will be switching hands from one group to another set of people. The transferal of power is historically a dangerous time. One of the achievements of the young Republic is that Washington handed the reigns of power to John Adams who then handed them off to Thomas Jefferson. The US is the exception while Napoleon's seizure of power (who famously stated while in prison, They wanted me to be another Washington) typifies the danger.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 2 part 2

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of 30 Days of Blasphemy!

I was reading an article this morning in the Boston Globe concerning a practice of the LDS (Church of Latter Day Saints - the Mormons) - posthumous baptism. As you may or may not know Mormons baptize dead non-Mormons. OK, it's not as gross as you think, they use a "proxy baptizee-person" for this ritual. The purpose is to give the dead non-Mormon a chance to join the church while they are in the after-life. I saw this as a golden opportunity to write a letter and bring up International Blasphemy Day. Here it is.

The article on September 2, Mormons, Jews reach deal on baptisms struck a chord with me. Whenever I read an article like this my first reaction is to write biting satire (in this case about Mormonism), however that means breaking General Law of Massachusetts, Chapter 272, Section 36,
Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.
This is Massachusetts's blasphemy law.

I look forward to the day that exercising my right to free speech is not a crime in my home state. In that spirit I am acknowledging the right to satirize religion by celebrating International Blasphemy Rights Day on September 30th.  Learn more about International Blasphemy Day:

You will forgive me if the letter is brief, but one can only use 200 words or less in a letter to the editor to the Globe. I will post whether the letter gets into the newspaper or not.

In Purgatory.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 1

Blasphemy gets no respect. It is the little brother of Free Speech that nobody in polite society really wants to hear from. Yet he is always around, lurking in comedy clubs, on the internet, and of course in a myriad of prisons around the world.

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