No, I Don’t Envy the Faithful

From time to time, I run across non-believers who pine after faith, or greatly admire it, or think it to be soft, fuzzy, and warm. Arthur Shapiro is a might fine example of that species: I came across a review of his in the Creation/Evolution Journal that begins thusly:

I suppose I should confess up front that some of my best friends are Christians. I can’t share their beliefs, but at times I find myself envying them for having a philosophy that seems to bring them so much comfort. Life is harder, as some wag put it, with no invisible means of support.

And then he descends into preemptive whining about the atheists (“true-believer atheists,” he calls ’em) who will write him “nasty letters” for being “soft on Christianity,” which then degenerates into burbling about Vaclav Havel, “the decline of traditional religion,” and the “hole in the social fabric” it has supposedly left “that science cannot hope to fill.” I had to stop reading* at the point where he decided “theistic science” is not a silly idea. No, seriously: Continue reading “No, I Don’t Envy the Faithful”

No, I Don’t Envy the Faithful

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 3: Leviticus Excerpt: God’s Exhaustive Instructions for Sacrificial Barbecues

I

God’s Exhaustive Instructions for Sacrificial Barbecues

(Leviticus 1-4)

 

God has a disturbing fixation on burning animals.

I mean, if you took all the animal sacrifice stuff out of Leviticus, you’d have just a couple chapters left. Most of it’s hyper-focused on killing animals for God, especially in these opening chapters. One rather begins to get the impression that he created humans and tempted them into sinning just so he’d have everyone bringing him barbecue all the time. That’s so very… uplifting?

The first thirteen verses of Leviticus 1 deal with the proper sacrificing of bulls, sheep, and goats. There’s lots of splashing blood about. The LORD does love him his bloodbaths. But it’s mostly stuff we heard one thousand times in Exodus, when God went on and on about it. We’ll just skim past that bit. (Lev. 1:1-13)

Things get really graphic when God gets to the birds.

Whereas bulls and sheep and goats get the knife, birds are to be slaughtered with your bare hands. You don’t just wring their necks, either: you’re supposed to twist their little heads right off. Imagine how much livelier church would be if your pastor decided to start obeying more of Leviticus than just a few random verses about gays and witches, threw off his poly/cotton blend shirt, and grabbed a few pigeons off the front lawn. I’ll bet the children would find it ever so morally uplifting to watch Pastor Bob tearing the heads off live birds on a Sunday morning. (Lev. 1:14)

Then, following the strict instructions God has laid down, he’s supposed to wring all their blood out against the altar. We haven’t got altars in many modern churches, but I’m sure the pulpit will do. (Lev. 1:15)

So there’s Pastor Bob, holding a freshly-killed headless birdie with its blood dripping down the pulpit. As per the LORD’s instructions, he next tears out its crop and feathers, and throws those against the east side of the pulpit. Once he’s done that, he grips both of its wings and, with a mighty tug, rips the bird wide open (being careful not to tear it completely apart – no need to get barbaric!). Then he sets the whole thing on fire, and the LORD is pleased. (Lev. 1:16-17)

That’ll certainly bring new energy into the church service.

Now, God is pretty much a meat man, but he’ll also accept really premium flour. But if you bake the LORD a cake out of it, just remember that he hates leaven. If you feel you must include leaven and honey, leave those on the side. Don’t forget, now. He won’t merely send his improperly-prepared meal back to the kitchen: he’ll smite you for botching his order. (Lev. 2:1-12)

Don’t forget the salt. God isn’t in to those low-sodium diets. He wants salt on everything. (Lev. 2:13)

After all this talk of flour, God’s ready to go back to animals again. He’d just like to make it perfectly clear he wants sacrifices with no blemishes whatsoever. If God were at the grocery store, he’d be that obnoxious dude who handles every single vegetable in the produce department, trying to find the perfect ones. He’d be that bloke at the butcher’s block who insists on having the butcher hand-cut about two dozen steaks before finally, reluctantly, accepting one. (Lev. 3:1)

For most sacrifices, only males will do, but for the peace offering, you can sacrifice a female if that’s what you’ve got on hand. Just so long as she hasn’t got any icky blemishes. No matter what you’re sacrificing, just remember to splash its blood liberally around the altar. And make sure you don’t keep any of its fat or blood for yourself. All the fat belongs to God. Every single bit. You’re not supposed to eat any fat or blood, ever. So sorry if you’re a fan of blood puddings. God doesn’t think you should have them. (Lev. 3:6-17)

If you sin, the only way to make up for it is by killing an animal and splashing its blood round the altar. God can’t forgive you unless you kill and burn an innocent critter for your fuck-ups. (Lev. 4:1-35)

There you go, then. Four chapters of killing animals and hating on leaven

in a nutshell. Now, don’t you feel ever so much more holy?

Image is Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 3: Leviticus cover. The background is black. Really Terrible is in slasher-style red font, Bible Stories in a white gothic script beneath. The painting beneath it is Tissot's "The Dead Bodies Carried Away," which shows two men in white robes carrying bodies over their shoulders out of the Israelite camp. Below is vol. 3: Leviticus in the same gothic script.

Copyright © 2016 by Dana Hunter. All rights reserved.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 3: Leviticus coming soon!

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 1: Genesis is available at Amazon:

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Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus is available worldwide at Amazon:

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Pick up your copies today!

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 3: Leviticus Excerpt: God’s Exhaustive Instructions for Sacrificial Barbecues

Dear NECSS: You Have Seriously Fucked Up

NECSS is so sorry they offended the fucking asshole who says something awful every 2.2 seconds, and hopes we can all just get along.

Well, we can’t.

Let me explain to the not-so-fine folks on the NECSS board why Richard Dawkins is such a divisive figure, and why giving him his talk back and asking him to be on a panel to discuss the issues “causing conflict both within the skeptical community and within society as a whole” is basically spitting in the faces of those of us who are trying very, very hard to end the abuses that are causing those conflicts.

Here is a brief history of Richard Dawkins being awful, pulled from my own archives, and therefore in no way comprehensive, because the man is a firehose of terrible statements and I have better things to do than spend 100% of my time trying to catalogue all his fuckery. Continue reading “Dear NECSS: You Have Seriously Fucked Up”

Dear NECSS: You Have Seriously Fucked Up

Good Reasons for Removing Abelist Language from Our Vocabulary

One of the hardest things about learning empathy is realizing we need to change. We may see nothing wrong with something we’re doing, and we know we’re good people, but all of a sudden, there’s someone (or many someones) in our face, asking us to stop using some words because they hurt. And that can be hard.

For one thing, we may not see what the problem is. Why shouldn’t we use certain common terms?

Then there’s a knee-jerk, “It’s my vocabulary, and there’s nothing wrong with it!”

There may be the temptation to downplay the whole thing. People are soooo oversensitive, amirite?

But if I’ve learned anything by hanging around the social justice crowd, it’s to shut up and listen when someone from a marginalized group tells me I’m doing something that’s hurting them. Even if I’m part of that marginalized group, I need to listen to perspectives other than my own. I’m not the center of the goddamned universe. My viewpoint is not the only valid one.

So I swallow the resentment and knee-jerk responses, and hear them out. And in many cases, I realize they have a very excellent point, and now I need to do the hard work of changing some things. Continue reading “Good Reasons for Removing Abelist Language from Our Vocabulary”

Good Reasons for Removing Abelist Language from Our Vocabulary

Dawkins Descends Further Into the Dregs

If you are part of a major atheist organization or conference, you should be asking yourself a serious question right about now: Do we want to associate our good name with a man who thinks the height of hilarity is promoting racist and sexist videos, and who is now willingly hanging with the MRAs, GamerGaters, white supremacists, and other dregs of Twitter? Do we really want to extend that big a fuck you to women and minorities?

Because honestly, at this point, willingly coupling yourself with Dawkins is basically saying you give not a shit about women, people of color, or reason itself.

But don’t take my word for it. Take Dawkins’s own tweets for it. You can find them, along with other of his assorted nonsense, in the links I have collected. And this is the mere scrape of a fingernail across the surface.

I know it’s hard to accept. It took me a long time to accept the fact that the man I admired, whom I’d braved crowds for and hung on to the every word of, is actually a tremendous jerk. I didn’t want to think that my hero was harmful. But he is. And the sooner the movement accepts that, the stronger we can make it by leaving him and his dawkbros on the sidelines.

Really, though, it’s okay if you don’t want to do that. We’re making our own secular movement right over here. I’m just saying that if you want to stay relevant, you will peruse the information herein, and decide accordingly. Continue reading “Dawkins Descends Further Into the Dregs”

Dawkins Descends Further Into the Dregs

The Winds of Change Blow Dawk Right Outta the NECSS Conference

So here’s a bit of news that gives me an iota of hope for organized atheism and skepticism:

The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism has withdrawn its invitation to Richard Dawkins to participate at NECSS 2016. We have taken this action in response to Dr. Dawkins’ approving re-tweet of a highly offensive video.

We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However, unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech runs contrary to our mission and the environment we wish to foster at NECSS. The sentiments expressed in the video do not represent the values of NECSS or its sponsoring organizations.

Allow me to find a collection of gifs that properly express my reaction: Continue reading “The Winds of Change Blow Dawk Right Outta the NECSS Conference”

The Winds of Change Blow Dawk Right Outta the NECSS Conference

An Open Letter to the Center for Inquiry

Dear CFI:

I hope you’re proud of yourselves.

We’ve had a long and rocky history. On the one hand, you gave us things like the Women in Secularism conferences. On the other… let’s see, there was Ron Lindsay, and Ron Lindsay again, and Ben Radford. So let’s just say you’ve been sending mixed signals on whether you really wanted women in the movement or not.

Well, now you’ve gone and removed all doubt. Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Center for Inquiry”

An Open Letter to the Center for Inquiry

Updated for 2015: Dana’s Super-Gargantuan Guide to Religion Books Suitable for Gift-Giving

Ohai! It’s another midwinter holiday gift giving season, and you’ve probably got a reader or dozen on your list. Did they give you some titles? Fantastic! Gift giving shall be easy, and if you purchase through this link, you can get your gifties and support ye olde blog, too. No list? No problem! I’ve got you covered with a super-awesome, super-gargantuan guide to many books suitable for secular gifting.

Through the next couple of weeks, I’ll be updating our lists with additional titles. Here’s a wonderland of atheist books not previously listed in our Super-Gargantuan Guides!

Image shows a dark gray kitten with its back hunched, standing on a book. Caption says, "I know it's a spellbook. I'm quite familiar."

Continue reading “Updated for 2015: Dana’s Super-Gargantuan Guide to Religion Books Suitable for Gift-Giving”

Updated for 2015: Dana’s Super-Gargantuan Guide to Religion Books Suitable for Gift-Giving

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus NOW AVAILABLE!

It’s here, just in time for the midwinter holidays! I read the Book of Exodus so you don’t have to, and pulled out the juicier bits. All retellings guaranteed 110% snarky.

Image is the cover for Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus. The painting is Charles Sprague Pearce's Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt, showing an Egyptian man and woman weeping over the coffin of their infant.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus is now available worldwide at Amazon:

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The story of Exodus is often portrayed as a heroic rescue from slavery and an epic journey to freedom. What it’s really about is God’s neglect, followed by lots of malicious destruction meant to show the Egyptians and Israelites who’s LORD. Then there’s a bumbling escape, complete with thirst, starvation, and mass murders caused by the incompetent and sadistic God. The rest of Exodus is basically God being really picky about the clothes, accommodations, and sacrifices he expects from these poor escaped slaves. This book will give you the big pin you need for deflating Christian claims about the awesomeness of their God. And it’ll make you see Exodus in a light you may not have anticipated. Especially useful for redirecting tedious conversations about that wretched Exodus: Gods and Kings movie. Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus is the perfect book for anyone who wants a look at the Good Book without any rose-tinted lenses in the way. Get your copy today!

Also available: Continue reading “Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus NOW AVAILABLE!”

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus NOW AVAILABLE!

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 15, Part Two!

XV

God’s Extensive, Expensive Interior Décor Requirements for Homeless Refugees

(Exodus 25-27)

 

First half of Chapter 15 is here.

 

Having gotten the furniture out of the way, God starts in on curtains. He wants ten of ’em, done up in the finest linen with the most costly blue, purple, and scarlet dyes – remember, kids, those colors were hella expensive to achieve back then. He wants each curtain to have cherubim embroidered on it. And he doesn’t want a few simple drapes, no. He’s asking for enormous, heavy panels that are 28 cubits (about 42 feet) long and 4 cubits (about 6 feet) wide. Then the curtains must be joined in two sets of 5, and 50 blue loops put on the edge of each outer curtain; God’s really particular about that. Then you’ve gotta have 50 solid-gold clasps to put through the loops. (Ex. 26:1-6)

If you want to get an idea of how fun this stuff was to shlep around the desert, go to a fabric store, find the biggest bolt of upholstery fabric you can, and carry it around the store for eight hours. Then, as you lay dying, ponder the fact that you had the benefit of air conditioning, and the Sinai did not.

And that’s not all! God also wants 11 goat-hair curtains, 30×4 cubits (45×6 feet), with 100 loops and 50 brass clasps, for an outer covering for this tabernacle of his. And then, God wants another covering of fine red rams’ skins, and yet another cover of finest leather, which the King James people apparently thought came from badgers. In addition, of course, this tabernacle tent required a frame, so God asks for one made of shittim wood, with silver sockets. I’m shocked he finally remembered he asked for offerings of silver as well as gold: I thought he’d never use it. But of course, God wants the frames, bars, and rings to be overlaid with and made from solid gold. (Ex. 26:7-30)

Not satisfied with the curtains he’s already got, God requests another set. His garish color preferences once again assert themselves, as he wants this inner “vail” to be blue, purple, and scarlet linen – with cherubim, of course. And, obviously, he wants its frame to be made from gold-covered shittim, with solid gold fasteners and silver sockets. And he wants a screen made from the same colors, five gold-slathered shittim pillars, and of course solid gold hooks, but this time, he’ll accept brass sockets. Everything – furniture and hangings – should be arranged just so, including specific cardinal directions for each bit of furniture. God apparently likes a bit of the old feng shui for his desert digs. (Ex. 26:31-37)

Having minutely detailed the tabernacle and its furniture, God goes on to specify what kind of barbecue grill he wants built. It must be square, made of shittim, with horns, and everything covered with brass. He tells Moses he wants all sorts of fancy barbecue tools, including ash pans and meat forks, which are all crucial to ensuring properly burnt offerings and a tidy clean-up afterward. He wants a brass net, and of course the whole thing has to be portable, so the nomads will have to schlep this 7.5′ x 7.5′ x 4.5′ hunk of wood and metal around on poles. Happily, God decrees it can be hollow. That must’ve been a relief. (Ex. 27:1-8)

God’s curtain obsession returns in full force. He asks for the whole area to be enveloped in curtains 7.5 feet tall and 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, with a 22.5 x 7.5 foot high entrance, and a 30 foot screen. The curtains he wants done in fine linen, but plain: it’s the screen he wants embroidered in his three favorite colors. No wonder the Israelites were in the desert so long: do you have any idea how much time it takes to hand-embroider that much fabric? And carrying it had to be an unbelievable pain in the arse: just the outer cloth walls and screen come to 525 feet of fabric! Not to mention all the brass pillars with their silver bands and hooks. God also wants all the pegs for hanging utensils to be brass. That’s pretty brassy. (Ex. 27:9-19)

God then advises that everyone should tithe pure beaten olive oil to keep the enormous lamp burning. He wants the lamp placed just outside the vail, and tended from evening to morning by Aaron and his sons, forever. (Ex. 27:20-21)

It’s about at this point that one wonders why Moses didn’t discreetly clear his throat somewhere in all that soul-crushing detail and say, “I’d just like to remind the LORD that we, not you, are going to be carrying all this shi- stuff, around a desert. And, not only does it weigh a ton, it’s going to take at least half the day to strike, and another half to erect.”

But then, he probably didn’t want to see the LORD’s eye twinkle sadistically as he answered, “Exactly. Mwah-ha-ha!”

The LORD will be discussing proper priestly attire and issuing death threats next. I’m shocked he went such a long stretch without!

 

Image is the cover for Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus. The painting is Charles Sprague Pearce's Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt, showing an Egyptian man and woman weeping over the coffin of their infant.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Coming Soon!

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. I: Genesis is now available at Amazon! Worldwide, even! Pick up your copy today.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 15, Part Two!