Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


Cast-offs at the Cattle Trough

peanutsI’m fortunate, financially.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not rich by any stretch, but I have enough.  I have never had to wonder where I was going to lay my head on any given night and I’ve never had to wonder where my next meal might come from or if I might even get one.

I know this is a somewhat controversial issue, especially given that some ‘beggars’ might make more money with their sign on the corner than I do going to work every day.  And tax free, at that.  But I don’t know which ones they are or if that’s even true.  Maybe for some that’s a chosen lifestyle, but I doubt that’s true for a very high percentage of those who are in that situation.  Besides that I’m sure there are statistics on how many of those who are in that situation are unable to hold a regular job due to some sort of disability, be it physical or mental.

When I see these people sometimes I give and sometimes I don’t.  It depends on whether I have cash in my pocket or not.  Most of the time I don’t.  With the advent of debit cards I rarely carry cash anymore and when I do it’s only a little.  Sometimes I feel guilty about not giving a little something and sometimes I don’t.  I can’t say why exactly that is.

Several years ago, around Christmas, there was an older lady, with obvious problems standing on the sidewalk outside a very popular American steakhouse asking people for money as they walked by.  There’s no telling how many people I watched walk past her, just ignoring her as though she weren’t there.  She wasn’t being pushy or belligerent.  She was humbly and softly asking, “Hey, ya got a dollar to spare?”

I got out of my car and proceeded inside, walking past her just like the rest, and then the guilt washed over me.  When was the last time she’d had a hot meal?  A nice meal?  At a table in a restaurant?  What the hell, it’s Christmas!  So I turned around and asked her if she was hungry.  She replied that she was and I asked her to come inside.  “What, me? Come inside? I can’t do that,” she replied.  “I don’t have any money.”  “Don’t worry about that, I’ll pay for your dinner.  You can get off this corner and sit down for a bit, out of the cold and have a nice meal,”  I reassured her that it would be okay.  So she followed me in.  I told her to order whatever she wanted. “How can you do this,” she asked me.  “I’ve got a job and I’ve been fortunate. How can I not?”  Her eyes widened, “I used to have a job, too.  But I had a breakdown and lost it.”

I told the hostess I was paying for her dinner and asked them to seat her.  They seated her at the very end of the bar and acted as though they were troubled by her very presence.  I was there with some other people and we, too, were at the bar.  We decided to eat there instead of going to a table.  She ordered water to drink. She ordered a modest, but filling, meal.  And she was ever so polite and appreciative to the staff who treated her as though she were, literally, the dirt she was covered in.  She hadn’t had a proper bath in some time.  That much was obvious.

I called the waitress over and asked them if they could be a bit nicer to her.  They needn’t worry that they weren’t going to get paid, nor that they’d miss out on their tip.  Shortly after that the manager approached me.  “Are you the woman who invited her in?  You’re paying for her dinner?”  “Yes, I just couldn’t pass by her out there in the cold, knowing I was coming inside for a hot meal,” I replied.  “I really wish you hadn’t done that.  She’s running off our customers standing out there begging.  Now we’ll never get rid of her,” came the manager’s cold response.  “Please, don’t do that again.  We don’t want her in here.”

I suggested, politely, that she was a human being and that perhaps they could be a little more compassionate.  I suggested that they could strike up a deal with her if she was running off customers.  They could bring her in early, give her some of those free yeast rolls they were going to throw away at the end of the night, and some tea in exchange for her not begging on their corner and not telling all her homeless friends.  That wasn’t part of their plan.  They asked her to eat and leave.

And I went back to my life of privilege.


The Wrath of God

This is one of the first posts I wrote when I first began to doubt my beliefs. I’m reblogging a couple of these as a reminder to myself of where I came from and how far I have come.

Out From Under the Umbrella

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. Romans 2:5-8

Full context here

The great day of the Lord is near,
near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter;
the mighty man cries aloud there.
A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,
a day of trumpet blast and…

View original post 664 more words


Can We Teach People to Be Atheists?

Good points which fit quite nicely with the topic I’ve been exploring. Fundamentalist religions “inoculate” their children with their superstitious beliefs. Would the world be better off if we could do the same as atheists? I’m not so sure. However, I do think a more balanced approach and teaching our children about world religions would be a good starting point.

I Love You but You're Going to Hell

What would the world’s smartest atheist do if he ruled the world?  Easy.  Teach young people to be atheists.

But Daniel Dennett recognizes that in the real world, teaching young people to be atheists would be “inhumane and ineffective.”  Dennett aired his views in a recent bit in Prospect Magazine.  Ideally, Dennett insisted, the only way to fix the planet would be to guarantee

high quality, non-ideological education for boys in girls in every community on the globe.  If we could just liberate the world’s children from illiteracy, ignorance, and superstition, their curiosity would lead them to solutions that were both locally informed and sensitive . . .

Sounds good, but as Dennett recognizes, the devil is always in the details.  As Dennett acknowledges, there is no way to impose the atheistic truth on people without generating overwhelming opposition.  Not that Dennett wouldn’t do it if he could. …

View original post 161 more words


Deeper Down the Rabbit Hole

alice_in_wonderland_rabbit_hole_postcard-p239566519971622318z8iat_400Farther and farther down the rabbit hole you go.  Many of you may wonder why it is so hard to talk to a fundamentalist Christian, why it is they are so out of touch with reality, and why it is that, even in the face of credible and damning evidence to their faith, they will not budge.  They can’t even concede a point.

It’s downright frustrating.  And they seem like complete imbeciles.  They are in fact.  But calling them that won’t help.  Telling them how moronic they are being will not help them to face the reality that they are, in fact, being moronic.

Let’s review: Indoctrination, inoculation, and insulation all begin at a very early age.  According to research from the Barna Group evangelism is most effective among children; young children under the age of 13.  Their study done in 2004 revealed that in America 43% of people who become “born-again” believers do so before the age of 13 and 64% of people who become “born-again” do so before the age of 18.  Thirteen percent of “born-again” believers are converted between the ages of 18 and 21.  Only 23% of American adults make a profession of faith after the age of 21.[1]

I could not find a more recent study from the Barna Group but my guess would be that that number either hasn’t changed that much or that the percentage of children becoming “born-again” has increased while the percentage of adults has probably decreased.  I make that conjecture based on the fact that churches(including the one I attended) use this research data to create programs designed to convert the largest number possible.  Therefore, since children are ripe for the picking, churches have created all sorts of children’s programs designed to draw children in and indoctrinate them.

My previous points have been that this indoctrination psychologically stunts these children and many of them, especially if they don’t attend secular universities, never question the doctrines that were fed to them when they were children. These adults who are designing these programs for children fully believe what they are teaching these children as truth. No one is lying; but no one is telling the truth.

By the time these children have reached adulthood it is nearly impossible to convince them of anything other than what they’ve been taught thus far.  Furthermore, when someone – even a progressive/liberal Christian – tries to penetrate their psyches with new information it is met with utter resistance.  Even when they say they don’t mind their faith being challenged, they don’t actually believe that their faith will be challenged.  You start to speak and before you’ve finished your point they already know their rebuttal.  Very few will bother to investigate your claims. The Bible is all the proof or evidence they need. Like Ken Ham, they start with the presumption that YHWH is, that Jesus is his son, and anything that goes against the literal interpretation of their beloved Bible is a contradiction in their minds. Nothing can possibly be true if it contradicts their sacred text.

Because of this when an attempt to challenge those assumptions is made it is perceived as an attack.  Questions are the enemy. When they present their evidence[I’m using that term loosely] they do so with authority and expect acceptance of it as if it is beyond critique. And while they may seem injured, as if you are infringing somehow on their religious freedoms, deep down they are really pleased with themselves.  They’ve passed the test. 

“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 10:33

When frustration sets in and insults fly that’s even better.

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”  Matt. 5:11 


“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’b If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’  John 15: 18-25

You see, now they’ve identified with their Christ.  This persecution that they suffer only reinforces their beliefs and they fall even farther down the rabbit hole.


Inculation, Inoculation, and Insulation – Insulation

Part 3 – Insulation
in·su·late  (ĭn′sə-lāt′, ĭns′yə-)

tr.v. in·su·lat·ed, in·su·lat·ing, in·su·lates

1. To cause to be in a detached or isolated position. See Synonyms at isolate.
2. To prevent the passage of heat, electricity, or sound into or out of, especially by surrounding with a nonconducting material.
i·so·late  (ī′sə-lāt′)

tr.v. i·so·lat·ed, i·so·lat·ing, i·so·lates

1. To set apart or cut off from others.
2. To place in quarantine.
3. Chemistry To separate (a substance) in pure form from a combined mixture.
4. To render free of external influence; insulate.
5. Microbiology To separate (a pure strain) from a mixed bacterial or fungal culture.
6. Psychology To separate (experiences or memories) from the emotions relating to them.
7. Electricity

a. To set apart (a component, circuit, or system) from a source of electricity.
b. To insulate or shield.

Satan’s first strategy is to keep religion intellectual.” – Rick Joyner, The World Aflame – The Welsh Revival and its Lessons for our Time

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:19 KJV

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalm 14:1 KJV—–

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  1 Corinthians 1:18-25 NIV

All throughout the inculation process, once the presumption of God – and not just any god – but the Christian God has been accepted, once inoculation has taken place, insuring that the seeds planted are growing and there is no room for doubt, you are slowly and steadily being insulated.  Fully convinced that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired, holy Word of God, you diligently attempt to live every word of it as truth.

Deliberately you’ve surrounded yourself with like-minded people and are given dire warnings about keeping the company of non-Christians.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

Oh, sure, you’re supposed to be nice to unbelievers but you are “in the world but not of the world” (John 17:11-16).  Unbelievers are acquaintances, not good friends.  Believers have no business cozying up to unbelievers in any sense – not in business or friendship.  “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9)

Dire warnings also accompany higher learning.  Answers in Genesis propaganda is liberally distributed to insulate against scientific contamination.  Aplogetics are used to ward off philosophical and ethical deviation from the scriptures.  By the time many students reach college age their minds are so filled with all of this information that they choose Bible colleges specifically so that they won’t have to be exposed to the evil secular ideologies.

Others, the ones who do go to secular college, often go through, at least, some questioning of the doctrines and theology they were taught.  Sometimes they lose their faith, and other times they can somehow retain their faith by accepting some form of theistic evolution or clinging on to the notion of inerrancy and completely dismiss evolution theory.  It is entirely predicated on confirmation bias.  As long as one can find something, anything to cling to, their faith remains in tact.  So even when they find evidence that doesn’t line up with the Bible, they find some way to either twist evidence or scripture to fit the presumption of Bible God.

Still others, like myself, don’t attend a post-secondary institution of higher learning.  As of 2009 only 30 percent of American adults had a college degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, though that number is steadily climbing.  So unless there is a specific desire or reason to avail oneself of any higher learning the only science, history, religion, philosophy, or any other subject one is exposed to is what they learned during the twelve years they were subject to the public education system in the U.S.

In the world of a fundamentalist Christian who believes in a literal translation of the Bible, it’s easy to live inside your little bubble,  especially given that deviating from the message can land you in hell.  The wisdom of the world is shunned because God’s wisdom is foolishness to the world and God’s wisdom is the best wisdom. And all of you smarty-pants atheists with your fancy book-learnin’ will look like fools when it’s all said and done. It’s easy for an atheist to assume that everyone is speaking or blogging using the same standards. Yet all of this insulation against the world gives a person who doesn’t know shit from Shinola an arrogance with which they speak. They think this special wisdom entitles them and, moreover, prepares them to enter debates on subjects in which they have no real knowledge and to speak with authority from the scriptures because they don’t need the world’s education.  One can remain a dumb as a box of rocks and feel completely satisfied that whatever that sciencey stuff that scientists talk about doesn’t apply to them.

In fact, the fundamentalist Christian can educate even the most intelligent, well-studied scientist or historian.  Just ask them.  Radiometric dating?  Must be flawed.  Archaeology?  Just look around, Archaeologists are finding Bible relics all the time!  Cosmology?  Who cares?  All you need to know is Goddidit.  In all cases and instances presume God, then make all the evidence support that.  Never, ever follow the evidence where it leads

Then the circle is complete.  That adult, with the much-lauded-by-the-Bible mind of a child, carries on the tradition, perpetuating the indoctrination to the next generation.  One would be hard-pressed (though it isn’t impossible) to penetrate the layers of insulation that have shrouded the mind of the true fundamentalist believer.

Maybe all the words of the Bible aren’t hokum.  The iniquities of the father are visited upon their children to the third and fourth generation.


Inculation, Inoculation, and Insulation – the Inoculation

Part 2 – Inoculation

in·oc·u·late (ĭ-nŏk′yə-lāt′)
tr.v. in·oc·u·lat·ed, in·oc·u·lat·ing, in·oc·u·lates
1. To introduce a serum, vaccine, or antigenic substance into (the body of a person or animal), especially to produce or boost immunity to a specific disease.
2. To communicate a disease to (a living organism) by transferring its causative agent into the organism.
3. To implant microorganisms or infectious material into (a culture medium).
4. To safeguard as if by inoculation; protect.
5. To introduce an idea or attitude into the mind of.

After my dad died the people from the church with the Bible Bus helped us.  A lot.  They brought food, they comforted us, they cried with us, and they helped care for the four kids of a now widowed thirty-three year old woman who, no doubt, felt lost.

As a result my mother was baptized and we all started to go to church every time the doors were opened.  Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night and my mother would be sitting in her rocking chair with my two-year-old brother, my six-month-old sister and her open Bible on her lap.

By this time I was thirteen and a member of the youth group.  We did pretty much everything together from raking the yards of the little old ladies in the church and painting their porches, to having car washes and bake sales to raise funds for church camp, and palling around together even outside of church.

Everything we did was geared toward learning the Bible and hiding God’s word in our hearts. We did Back-yard Bible Drill, discipleship training, and by this time big church.  No more flannel boards with crafts and games.  No, this was the real deal.  We heard the grown-up sermons about the suffering of Jesus, and how it was our fault. We heard the wages of sin were death and death without Jesus meant hell.  We learned that our righteousness was as filthy rags and that Jesus would clean us up.

Line upon line, precept upon precept, doctrine upon doctrine we were inoculated. By this point we believed the genocide of the great global flood was a necessary act on God’s part to cleanse the world of a civilization with only evil in it’s heart all the time.  Sodom and Gomorrah were terribly evil places in dire need of God’s divine intervention.  The slaughter of the Canaanites was an act of righteous religious cleansing.  All the commands of God were righteous – if for no other reason than that he gave the commandment.  What seemed right to us was of no consequence.

Most of all we learned that our identity was in Christ.

Everything we were, everything we had, every fiber of our being was wrapped up in the belief that without Jesus we weren’t good, that we lacked value.  But as Christians, as believers, we were sons and daughters of a King.

There I stood with my stringy hair and freckled face, fatherless, and poor. I was worth something.  I was the daughter of a King.


Inculation, Inoculation, and Insulation

Inculation – Part 1

in·cul·cate (ĭn-kŭl′kāt′, ĭn′kŭl-)
tr.v. in·cul·cat·ed, in·cul·cat·ing, in·cul·cates
1. To impress (something) upon the mind of another by frequent instruction or repetition; instill: inculcating sound principles.
2. To teach (others) by frequent instruction or repetition; indoctrinate: inculcate the young with a sense of duty.

From a very young age I learned about heaven and hell, good and evil, and God, Jesus and Satan.  No, my parents didn’t go to church every Sunday.  In fact up until my dad died when I was twelve my family didn’t go with any frequency at all.  This sweet little couple with two kids of their own operated a bus ministry.  They ran a route on Sunday that came by my house and one day they stopped and asked my parents if it’d be alright if they picked me and my sister up for church on Sunday mornings.  So they came around in their re-purposed school bus painted green and white with Northside Baptist Church scrawled in cursive down either side every Sunday thereafter.  Sometimes I got on the bus and sometimes I didn’t, but they always came around.

While my parents slept in on Sundays, frequently, I’d tool down the road to church.  Seemed harmless enough at the time.  They took all us kids into “children’s church” where we learned about Adam and Eve and creation, Noah and the ark, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Moses, the Isrealites and all their obstinance, David and Goliath, and all the stories of old.  They taught us all about sin and where it came from, about the wages thereof, and about God and Jesus, and mercy and redemption.

They impressed on our young minds the truthfulness and reliability of all of the Bible.  We sang songs about all these things:

‘The B-i-b-l-e, that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the word of God, the B-i-b-l-e’,

‘Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the children of the world’,

‘God told Noah there’s going to be a floodie, floodie, Get those animals out of the muddie, muddie, Children of the Lord. God told Noah to build him an arky, arky, children of the Lord’,

‘I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the Calvary,
Shoot the Artillery,
I may never fly over land and sea,
But I’m in the lord’s Army.’

‘Oh, be careful little ears, what you hear,                                             Oh, be careful little ears, what you hear,
For the Father Up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little ears
what you hear.’

‘Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,
Jericho, Jericho,
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,
And the walls came tumbling down!’

We played games and listened to stories as the leaders ‘acted’ them out with the characters on the flannel board.  Learning about all of this was so much fun.  Sunday after Sunday the greatness of God and his virtues were extolled to us.

Children’s church is where I first learned some really big words.  They seemed big to an eight-year-old anyway; words like omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  We learned that there was only one God, he was the Christian God, and he was all powerful, all knowing, and all present.  God was everywhere all the time, he could see and hear everything and even knew my thoughts, and he could do anything.

We learned that Eve ate the apple, gave some to Adam, and ruined the perfect garden.  We learned that, just like that, sin entered the world and tainted every person ever since.  We learned that God sent Jesus to fix it all and all we had to do was trust in Jesus and everything would be okay.

Child-like faith was all we needed.


On Morality

According to Webster’s morality is defined as:


noun \mə-ˈra-lə-tē, m-\

: beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior

: the degree to which something is right and good : the moral goodness or badness of something

And this definition is courtesy of  Bing Dictionaries

Definition of morality (n)

  • mo·ral·i·ty
  • [ mə rállətee ]
  1. accepted moral standards: standards of conduct that are generally accepted as right or proper
  2. how right or wrong something is: the rightness or wrongness of something as judged by accepted moral standards
  3. virtuous behavior: conduct that is in accord with accepted moral standards

The phrase ‘turn or burn’ caught my attention earlier this morning.  It’s a phrase used often in fundamentalist Christianity by those who believe in a literal hell. Turn from your wicked ways and get right with God or you’ll be in torment for all eternity.  I’m so glad I no longer believe that ridiculous notion.

Conversation ensued that got me thinking about morality and ethics.  We all know that legality has no impact on the morality or ethics of a given situation.  However many people, Christians and religionists(is that a word?) included, participate in highly questionable behaviors simply because there is a loophole in the letter of the law which allows for such behavior.  Not only that, many people would participate in other questionable behaviors were it not for the fact that they might get caught.  In other words, the only reason they don’t commit certain illegal acts is because they wouldn’t want to suffer the consequences of having done so were they to be found out.  They weigh the benefit to themselves to the consequences they might suffer to determine the ‘worth’ of their naughtiness.

I had this conversation not long ago with some family members.  We were watching an episode of an old television program call In the Heat of the Night. The premise of the show was the morality and ethics of capital punishment. That got us talking about morality and why we do the things we do.  These are not church-going family members but they are Bible-God believers.  They don’t believe they evolved, but were created, yet they pick and choose from the rest of the Bible the things they believe are true and the things they don’t.

One of them commented that, “without prisons and the death penalty the world would descend into chaos because people would offend with no consequences.”  I thought on that for a few minutes and posed the question: “Is the only reason you don’t do unethical and barbaric things because you’re afraid going to jail?”  To which they replied, simply, “Yes”.  When I said, “I don’t recall ever not being unethical because I was afraid I’d get caught”**, he elaborated and his wife joined in.  They both agreed that they, at some point would have committed murder or done serious bodily injury just short of murder [as a matter of vengeance or retribution], or committed theft, among a plethora of other things had they not been afraid of the consequences.  I thought, “Well, thank Dionysus for that!”  These family members would also classify themselves as moral, ethical people.

I’ve often joked that I wouldn’t steal from my employer because I’m not cut out for jail.  There is no way in hell I could do the communal toilet and shower thing.  That is a joke, of course.  That isn’t the reason I don’t steal from my employer, or murder someone, or vandalize.  I have a personal code of ethics that is independent of the law.  I know that mine is not the same as others’ and morality is a grey area.

In my line of work, which is accounting, I’m sometimes asked to do some unethical things.  Some of these things might only be unethical simply because they are against the law.  The tax code in America is a complicated animal and I frankly disagree with quite a bit of it.  But there are other things that are unethical regardless of the law. If it is unethical because it’s against the law I don’t do it because I am afraid of the consequences, but if it unethical because of my own personal code of ethics I refuse regardless of the law. I digress.

That got me to wondering if the only reason you give for not doing something unethical is fear of consequences can that really be called morality or is that just pragmatism?  Do people really not stop to consider what their personal ethics are and why?  Is there any such thing as morality?


**I realize I’m saying this never having had a child hurt by abuse. Nothing makes my blood boil more than the abuse of children. I can imagine a scenario or scenarios where my compassion might have it’s limits.  Even though I, myself, have been abused, and even imagined being strong enough (or using artificial means to make myself strong enough) to defend myself, I didn’t act upon it – nor did I seek nor want retribution or vengeance.