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Archive for October, 2007

I am probably the only person in America who suffers from Stephen Colbert over-exposure. I think it struck me the moment I saw him on the cover of Parade Magazine, detailing his triumphs over adversity. I didn’t read it. Then he’s on Larry King, coyly avoiding the question of whether he will run. He’s all over the place.

There is nothing wrong with entertainment, but when Colbert exercises this kind of cultural influence, there’s an obligation that comes along with it. I don’t know what that would be. It’s his life, after all, and people like him and Oprah have to decide how to use their enormous power.

Let’s never forget that Islamo-fascism is mirrored by an equally odious and pervasive Christian fascism, which threatens to run America by the principles of the Bible. Since the Bible is an ancient text that’s barely relevant to modern life, that is a really dumb idea.

Religious beliefs are childish fantasies based on faith. Humanity should have abandoned them ages ago, and might have – if politicians everywhere had not found them so advantageous, had not insisted on running whole societies according to their ancient stories.

Ancient religion cannot be the basis for the government of a modern real-world nation. For politicians to consciously maintain religious fantasies is to lock voters in a childlike state in which anything is believable if the right authorities say it is. As many secular Americans (including a letter writer in today’s Trib) have pointed out, we need a government based on facts, not faith.

It often seems to me that the worse a people’s life – the less control they have over things — the more they turn to Orthodox religion, which gives them an explanatory fantasy (including an afterlife that’s much better then this one), as well as some demons to blame (Sunnis, Jews, whites, etc.). Mediaeval Jews with hellish lives created the phantasmagorical Kabbalah, perhaps even without hallucinatory drugs.

I am a self-designated Torah Cop. I’m a police force of one, dedicated to the honest, respectful treatment of the Five Books of Moses. No spin.

Honesty and courage, another Humanistic value, compel me to respect the Torah for what it is: an ancient text from, perhaps, the eighth century B.C.E., with multiple authors, archaeologically unprovable history, and, of course, impossible divine events and interventions.

The real debate is not about whether God exists. It’s about how we use our minds to decide WHAT exists: Do we use scientific knowledge of reality and experience (including hypothesis and conjecture) in order to decide what’s real? Or do we take the religious path and believe impossible stories because influential people and large groups insist they’re true?

Just as important as my venomous diatribes against organized religion…are the posts on secular spiritual practice. Rabbi Wine always taught that humanists had to be FOR something, and so I want to give appropriate attention to what Secular Humanism offers as the alternative to religious ritual and practice.

There is nothing wrong with entertainment, but when Colbert exercises this kind of cultural influence, there’s an obligation that comes along with it. I don’t know what that would be. It’s his life, after all, and he and people like Oprah have to decide how to use their enormous power.

If life on earth is shitty enough, orthodox religion will always find psychotic, easily-molded losers for these suicide bombings. The more orthodox rthe religion, the more desperate and psychotic the losers. However, even educated people can fall for religious insanity, if it resonates with some deep need they have. We’re talking about two different “parts” of the mind.

Bush has no ideas of his own…and limited mental resources (not helped by all the booze and coke), so he relies on Daddy’s friends and connections. He’ll believe whatever they say to believe, whether it’s Laura pushing God or Cheney pushing war.

The real issue is: does the politician really believe? It doesn’t matter whether it’s some Mormon fantasy or some Christian or Jewish or Islamic or Hindu fantasy. If they believe it’s truth, then they should not be in charge of the affairs of state.

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