Let Us Pray

2A15CB05-3680-4A29-8FF3-FB0B083B395E Donald Trump said today that his administration will deem churches and other places of worship “essential” during the coronavirus pandemic. He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will issue guidance that deems houses of worship essential places that provide essential services, and he is urging state governors to allow churches to reopen. “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now,” he said. “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”

Trump added, “In America we need more prayer, not less.” And so he is calling on houses of faith, including churches, synagogues, and mosques, to reopen “right now.”

I’m not a religious man. I’m not a churchgoer. But I have been under the impression that faith comes from within and that you can pray at any time from anywhere. Do you really need to go to a crowded church, synagogue, or mosque to practice your faith and to pray to whatever god you pray to?

This is not a rhetorical question. It’s not a trick question. I really want to know. Do you need to risk the health and life of others and your own health and life in order to practice your religion?

For Those Who Claim To Be Atheists

5EDABF2B-68F5-4282-AF25-80E11407602FThere is a blogger whose posts I occasionally read, even though he and I couldn’t be more different in our philosophies and ideologies. But sometimes I get a kick out of the mostly nonsensical (in my opinion) things he posts on his blog. For example, in this post, titled “If You Don’t Believe In God, They (sic) Why Are You Afraid,” he claims that atheists seem to fear death.

I’d like to examine what he said in that post and respond to his questions/comments about atheists, God, and death.

First he asks, “[F]or those who claim to be atheists, what are they so afraid of on the other side of life?” Just to be clear I don’t “claim to be” an atheist, I am one. I do not believe in the existence of some sort of mythological, mystic, supernatural, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being. I believe that God didn’t create man, but that man created God.

Second, as an atheist, I don’t believe there is an “other side of life.” When you’re dead, you’re dead. Your life ceases. Since I don’t believe in an afterlife, I’m not afraid of it.

But the blogger is correct when he says that, “If [atheists] don’t believe in God, then they don’t believe in a final judgment. He claims that, “The Godly seem to fear the temptation of life that they will answer for come their judgment.” Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but atheists don’t live their lives in the hope of being found worthy of getting admitted to heaven for eternity by the magical judge in the sky. We live our lives to the fullest extent possible because there is nothing to “live for” after death.

Then he writes, “Atheists claim to be free and enlightened, yet they don’t seem to exhibit that which they claim.” I have no idea what he means by that. What is it that he believes atheists claim that we don’t exhibit, I wonder.

And finally he claims that “The atheists seem to fear death.” I don’t fear death and none of the atheists I know personally do either. I love life, and I want to live it as long as I can. But I know that death is inevitable and that once I die, it’s all over. It’s not something I’m afraid of. What I do fear is a slow, painful death, so when I die, I hope it will be fast and peaceful, preferably in my sleep.

By the way, don’t you love it when someone who is not something claims to have a special knowledge about, or insight into, something he’s not?

Opposites Don’t Attract

C8C02577-2BF0-4BA7-9A22-0D3901B6C4A5Mel, over at Crushed Caramel, wanted to know what we would do faced with this situation:

You are in love and the person you have been courting for some time wants to marry you. Although you are very close, there is one main difference in your outlook. One of you believes in a Creator and wants to practice a particular faith. The other does not believe in a Creator and despises all religion. When the two of you talk about beliefs, emotions run high and generally the conversations have to be cut short because it can become hurtful. You realize this may cause challenges, despite the love you share.

In a comment on her post, I wrote:

What would I do? I’d turn around, walk away, and never look back. This is such a fundamental matter and one that essentially defines who we are. It can’t work in the long run.

In a response to my comment, Mel asked me this:

Here is a question for you…and it is not meant to be controversial or provocative, I just wonder what you think. I can see that if one partner did not believe in a Creator and was anti-religion and the other partner was very actively religious and constantly pontificating about it – there could be fireworks. But what do you think of a couple who agree to disagree and decide to talk about it? Or the partner who believes in a Creator does so silently. Perhaps someone who believes in a Creator but steers clear of religions who seem to have their own agenda. Someone who silently prays but does not speak about their beliefs to their partner because they know it would be provoking. I have a few friends in exactly that boat. I have seen a lot of love in those relationships, but also a lingering sadness.

Okay, so here’s the deal. I’m an atheist. I believe that the notion of a supernatural “creator” is a man made creation. I am not, however, anti-religion. My philosophy when it comes to religion is “whatever floats your boat.”

That said, I have no patience for the holier-than-thou religious cheerleaders who are certain that their religious beliefs are right and anyone who doesn’t embrace them is wrong, who go around proselytizing, calling atheists immoral and saying anyone who doesn’t believe in God can’t know right from wrong or good from evil, or who try to foist their concepts of morality or their religious beliefs upon the rest of us through legislation.

My wife, the woman I’ve been married to for more than 40 years, believes that a “higher power” exists, but she doesn’t refer to it as “God” or the “Creator.” She also believes that there must be something beyond our Earthly life, but doesn’t call it “heaven” or “hell.” And while she considers herself to be somewhat spiritual, she’s not religious and finds most “organized” religions to be off putting.

She and I are fine together because religion is not an important factor for either of us, and the fact that she believes in a higher power and I don’t has not been an issue. But in her question, Mel noted that “one partner did not believe in a Creator and was anti-religion and the other partner was very actively religious and constantly pontificating about it.”  And she asked whether such a couple can “agree to disagree” and, thus, be happy together.

My answer is that even if they agree to disagree, each person, in her example, has deeply held beliefs that are fundamental to who they are, and those beliefs are in diametrical opposition. Such intrinsic elements of someone’s being and nature can only be stifled for so long before a pent up resentment for having to suppress their true nature starts to boil over.

Bottom line, in the context of Mel’s question, my response is that opposites don’t attract and love does not conquer all.

Anyone else want to weigh in on this?

A Message from God

A5259EB7-2ABE-40CC-812D-191CEB68E8C2The Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores was planning to stay open during the pandemic after the CEO’s wife received a message from God. In a letter to employees, CEO David Green explained that while the coronavirus pandemic is “certainly concerning,” God informed his wife, Barbara, last week that He will specifically protect Hobby Lobby and its employees and “groom us to be better than we could have ever thought possible.”

Well, either God had a change of heart or Barbara garbled God’s message to her. Seems that Hobby Lobby has now started closing its stores and laying off employees. In a letter to the terminated employees, one senior exec said, “It is with a tremendously broken heart that I’ve been forced to take these unimaginable actions, and I genuinely hope you know that my prayers are with you and your family.”

Hobby Lobby fired its employees by email. People lost their insurance and were offered no severance. David Green told the fired employees that, while he does not know what the future holds for the business, everyone will have to “tighten” their belts. He also stated that “God is in control” of the situation.

God and Trump…so in control, right?

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — November 22

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember?

Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 22nd) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.

This was originally posted on November 22, 2014 in my old, now defunct blog. It was a bit of a rant. Sorry about that.

Second Thoughts

416BE191-4846-4736-907E-881C29AF6489The title of this post is probably a little misleading. I’m not really having second thoughts about anything in particular. Second thoughts imply a change of heart or opinion or resolve reached after considering something again. It might also mean having new doubts about someone or something. But don’t worry, I haven’t suddenly found religion or been having intimate conversations with God or Jesus.

No, this post is not about changing my mind or having doubts. What this is about is complaining (okay, whining) about bloggers who follow certain practices on their blogs. I realize that it’s not my place to tell anyone else how to run his or her blog. But I do have a few strong opinions about certain protocols some bloggers follow.

Awaiting moderation
543E056E-07C5-4DA4-BBFE-45D675E70213When I make a comment on your posts, I don’t like to be told that my comment is awaiting moderation. I mean, seriously, what are you afraid of? If it’s spam you’re worried about, and if you blog on WordPress, Akismet should have you covered. Since I’ve been blogging on WordPress, Akismet has trapped more than 125,000 spam comments on my blog. That’s like half of a quarter million spam comments, for crissake. And if you’re worried that someone is going to post a comment that you or some of your readers might find inappropriate or offensive, then perhaps you should close your posts to comments. Problem solved.

I invite anyone and everyone, without moderation, to comment on my posts. No filtering, no deleting. Say what you wanna say and it will be there for everyone who reads and/or comments on my posts to see.
So this comment is awaiting moderation business — just cut it out.

Chronological order
reverse chronological orderWhat is going through your heads, people, when you choose to display the newest comments at the top of your posts’ comments sections and the older ones at the bottom? Showing comments in reverse chronological order makes no sense. The natural flow of any conversation is from start to finish, not from finish to start. When comments are displayed in chronological order, it’s easy to follow along with the conversation, to see the interactions, the reactions, the responses, and the replies in the order they were made.

This is especially true if someone posts a comment based upon an earlier comment that someone else posted. If the latter comment appears at the top of all the comments, how the hell are you going to know what that commenter was referring to?

So why would anyone want to have the newest comments first, rather than the oldest? If your blog is set up to show the newest comments at the top of your comments, you need to think about changing that. Please.

It’s none of my business

Well, I grant you that. It really isn’t my business. It’s your blog and if you want to moderate comments and/or display them in reverse chronological order, that’s your right and privilege. But in a way, it is my business because I find both practices to be quite annoying. And I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way.

I’m not going to do something silly like add a poll here. But I do wish those of you who read this post would let us know what your thoughts are about comment moderation and about oldest first or newest first in the comments sections. And if you do state your preference or express your opinion, explain why you feel that way. Or not. It’s up to you.

But if you “like” this post and don’t comment, I will take that as an endorsement — nay, a mandate — that I’m right and that comment moderation and reverse chronological order for comments are both inherently evil practices.