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Archive for January, 2007

Many Jews revere the Torah but don’t know the first thing about it. I wrote a whole book about the Torah, the purpose of which was to de-mythologize and de-mystify it.
A few facts
Let me re-cap a few facts about this most misunderstood and overrated document:

Science (linguistics, history, archaeology, anthropology, and other […]

Kingdom of Heaven

It sounded like a really bizarre idea when I first articulated it to myself: the secular humanist’s idea of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Imagine, as Rod Serling might say, a world in which it is the widespread, open, and 90% majority opinion (there will always be a few Irrationals) that God and […]

The occasion for today’s rant was the publication of an interview, in today’s Chicago Tribune, with the makers of the frightening new documentary “Jesus Camp.”
The documentary, to quote the Trib, “depicts a North Dakota summer camp where pastor Becky Fisher trains young troops in ‘God’s Army.’ Among her stock tools: a cardboard cutout of […]

Saving the children (part 1)

How many times have we heard that the children are the future?  They certainly are.  The key to the perpetuation of any doctrine or philosophy is to get ‘em while they’re young.  Jesus Campers, Hitler Youth, it’s all the same.  Get young minds early in the process of maturation, perhaps when the hardwiring of the […]

This entry begins a series of observations on language – specifically, on how people talk about God. In no particular order, I will report what I’ve noticed, so that you can share my linguist’s insights into behavior with respect to this most emotionally loaded of words.
God = supernatural entity
The first thing we understand as […]

If anybody asks me whether I am a religious person, the answer is always yes.
Religion and religiosity
“Religion” is different from “religiosity.”  When people give religion undue prominence outside their home or place of worship — when athletes thank Jesus for sports victories, when prayer and creationism force their way into the school day, when politicians […]

And the pain goes on…

When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Thomas Jefferson
It’s starting — again.
Last night I saw my first active antiwar protest. It was noteworthy because I live in a sheltered part of the world, and I know there have been protests already […]

We might as well get it out in the open: there is no difference between “cult” and “religion I don’t like.” The two labels can be applied by different people to the same beliefs and practices.
To a secular humanist, there is no practical difference between the two. How is the doctrine […]

Life and Death

“All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.”
Wise words from James Thurber.  We have a very limited time here on earth.  Often, it’s less than we thought. What are we going to fill it with?  It’s amazing how few people even think about […]

God and government

What do religion and politics, God and government, clerics and politicians have in common?  Quite a lot, it turns out.
 
First, both groups are self-appointed arbiters of our thoughts and actions.  While religion or politics may be a family business,  neither politicians nor clerics, with very few exceptions, are called into service by vast crowds of […]

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