#writephoto — Welcome to Purgatory

C32E9638-7188-462B-89A1-1DD256BFD3A3I was one of a group of half a dozen rather unworldly-looking beings, almost ghostly in our appearance and seeming to be without material substance. I had no memory of how I got here and no knowledge where I was. But I knew that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

It was very dark and I could see nothing other than a blueish glow emanating from my companions and me. They all seemed to be as confused and disoriented as I was. I tried to speak but, I could produce no sound.

Without warning, an apparition appeared before us, emerging from the darkness and literally gliding into view. She had the appearance of a woman with long, flowing red hair and she was carrying some sort of bowl in her hand, in a fashion as one might when making an offering. She possessed an ethereal look, translucent and pulsating in such a matter that made it seem as if she was, at the same time, both there and not there.

In a voice that was soft and delicate, yet lilting, she said, “Welcome to Purgatory, my friends. Each of you has died in God’s grace, but you are still imperfect and must undergo the process of purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

“Damn,” I thought to myself, since I was unable to vocalize. “It seems that I bet on the wrong horse when I was alive. I believed neither in God nor in the afterlife.”

The apparition floated over to me, took the bowl she was holding, lifted it over what once would have been my head, turned it upside down, and emptied the contents of the bowl over me, causing me to experience a pressing sensation on my chest. “No,” she said, “you are right where you belong.”

Then I heard what sounded like a cat’s purring and as I slowly returned to consciousness, I discovered that I was in my bed and the pressing sensation on my chest was from my cat sitting on my chest and kneading me.


Written for the Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent. Image credit: unattributed.

One-Liner Wednesday — Absurdities and Atrocities

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“Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher, Voltaire

Voltaire, who also said, “If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent him,” was likely making reference to religion in this week’s one-liner. Followers and believers are expected to unquestionably accept the teachings of the church and the stories in holy books such as the Bible, which to my rational mind, can be quite absurd. After all, look back across human history at the myriad atrocities that have been committed through the ages in the name of God and religion.

But I have a more contemporary interpretation of Voltaire’s quote that has to do with the way Donald Trump keeps saying and doing a absolutely absurd things, which his loyal base, the Republicans in Congress, and the “on-air personalities” and viewers of Fox News not only believe but embrace.

And his atrocities that they seem to turn a blind eye toward include, but are not limited to:

  • separating migrant families at the border and putting children in cages
  • attempting to ban immigration based upon religion
  • calling neo-Nazis “very fine people”
  • obstructing investigations into Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential elections
  • extorting a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political opponent in advance of the 2020 presidential elections
  • obstructing Congress with respect to its impeachment hearings
  • rolling back virtually every regulation designed to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat
  • calling climate change a hoax and pulling out of worldwide effort to combat climate change
  • selling out our country to Vladimir Putin and Russia
  • profiting financially from his office as President
  • abusing the power of the presidency

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. Besides, this post has gone way beyond being a one-liner.


Written for this week’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt from Linda G. Hill.

Imagine

674CBCDF-01CE-4446-B59D-A8E4D0E67F8CIn his song, “Imagine,” John Lennon wrote:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Well, leave it to none other than Rory, A Guy Called Bloke, to pose a bunch of questions about one of my favorite topics: Religion.

Warning. I’m an atheist and I have some strong views about religion. If you are one who tends to get offended when someone questions your believe system, I suggest you stop reading here.

With that out of the way, here are the provocative questions about religion that Rory posed, along with my answers:

Would our world be any different to today [if religion just simply never existed]?

I believe it would be different…and better, with one big caveat. The planet would be seriously overpopulated — even more than it already is — because millions of people who, over the ages, were killed in the name of God and religion would not have perished.

Would the world have begun without some kind of belief system in place?

Of course it would have begun. The world (i.e., the planet Earth) is four and a half billion years old and modern human beings have only existed for only about 200,000 years. So, since humans are relatively new compared to the planet, and it’s humans who have “belief systems,” the planet did just fine without any kind of belief system for billions of years. You’re welcome.

Is religion really needed?

As an atheist, my answer is no. Not for me, anyway. But for some, religion or faith or belief in something bigger than themselves provides comfort and solace. My philosophy on religion and belief in God is “whatever floats your boat.” Just don’t try to sink my boat because it doesn’t look like yours.

Many already say that ‘something’ would have been created to fill that void and if that is the case, what would that have been?

Humans are always seeking answers to questions, some of which, even given present knowledge, may be unanswerable. Hence, throughout human history, humans have invented gods and supernatural beings to fill in the blanks and to answer the unanswerable. So yes, based upon human nature and the need for answers and to belong, some sort of belief system would have been created.

Organized religion, as it exists today, though, is designed to control, manage, and manipulate their flocks, and to create and promote group-think built around superstitions and mythologies. It also tends to divide us based upon our specific set of beliefs, rituals, and practices, rather than unite us based upon our commonalities as human beings.

Organized religion also reinforces the notion of “the other” with respect to those who don’t share the same superstitions and mythologies that they do. That is why so many religions have as their mission converting “the other” to their own beliefs, rituals, and dogma. And those efforts to convert the “heretics” and “infidels” can be violent and deadly. And, to me, that’s not a good thing. In fact, I think it’s the most negative and destructive aspect of organized religion.

Okay, rant over. But this is what you get when you ask an atheist about religion. What are your thoughts?

Share Your World — Cool and Hip Rainy Afternoons

Share Your WorldMondays mean Melanie’s Share Your World questions. Let’s get right to it.

When you’re 90 years old, what do you suppose will matter most to you?

Good health, enough money to live comfortably, and making it to 91.

What’s the best way to spend a rainy afternoon?

Staying dry.8FCE89C2-2027-46DD-B9E7-F052B86A1A5F

What is one thing you don’t understand about yourself?

Who I really am.7B717F8E-8C91-43DB-BBBC-F3A796322410

When was the last time you tried something to look ‘cool’ (hip), but it ended in utter embarrassment? Details?

It’s been a long time since I tried to look cool or hip. At my age, there’s little that I could to do to achieve being cool or hip, and I fear that any attempt to appear that way would end in embarrassment.

Share a picture, a story, or an event that shows your gratitude

One day after a gunman in Texas killed seven and wounded 21 others,Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, said on “Fox & Friends” that mass shootings are caused by “driving God from the public square,” and specifically by teaching kids about evolution. Why am I grateful for this? Because it illustrates, for the whole world to see, how moronic far-right, Christian conservatives are.

The Idiots We Elect

5A3BBFDF-0528-4CCB-855C-68E030A54342Matt Schaefer is an American attorney and Republican politician who is currently serving in the Texas House of Representatives.

In light of the yesterday’s mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, the second mass shooting in Texas in less than a month, this Texas politician went on Twitter to express his position, as a Texas state lawmaker, on how he would “do something” about all of the gun violence in Texas and all across the country. Are you ready for this?78C7EE00-A6CF-4328-AF93-3C7F662E8EB3Here are his statements for what he is and is not vowing to do:

  • I am NOT going to use the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texans. Period. None of these so-called gun-control solutions will work to stop a person with evil intent.
  • I say NO to “red flag” pre-crime laws. NO to universal background checks. NO to bans on AR-15s, or high capacity magazines. NO to mandatory gun buybacks.
  • What can we do? YES to praying for victims. YES to praying for protection. YES to praying that God would transform the hearts of people with evil intent. YES to fathers not leaving their wives and children. YES to discipline in the homes. 
  • YES to supporting our public schools. YES to giving every law-abiding single mom the right to carry a handgun to protect her and her kids without permission from the state, and the same for all other law-abiding Texans of age.
  • YES to your God-given, constitutionally protected rights. YES to God, and NO to more government intrusions.

So, in summary, Matt Schaefer, a Republican Texas state representative, says no to any and all gun reform initiatives and yes to prayers. No to bans on high capacity, military-style assault weapons and yes arming mothers. Oh, and yes to God and “God-given rights.”

By the way, if you’re interested in my thoughts on “God-given rights,” you might want to read this.