The Ear of the Wise – Introduction / Mr. Fischer’s Founding Fables: Part I

Hi, my name is Ben and I’m an addict.

Don’t worry, I won’t be twelve-stepping all over your good time with any jackbooted “Higher Power” mumbo jumbo, but I do have a legitimate problem. Apparently I’m addicted to being really pissed off, and recently I’ve become particularly fond of catalyzing my anger with a specific strain of psychoactive stimulus. My mood-annihilating weapon of choice isn’t a drug, but, according to the tales spun by its insidiously unscrupulous peddlers, it makes heroin’s promise of euphoria sound like a mall kiosk chair massage.

That’s right. I’m hooked on the Word of God.

Okay, so that’s not entirely accurate. My real obsession is Godcasts. That is, podcasts and radio shows of the fundamentalist/evangelical/creationist/all-of-the-above orientation. Seriously. I can’t get enough of ‘em, and I want others to join me in heaping ridicule onto the glistening brain turds that I come across while enjoying my favorite shows, but the people closest to me can only take so much, and no culturally significant cocktail party conversation has ever started with, “You won’t believe what Eric Hovind said the other day.”

That’s what brings me to Crocoduck. I need an outlet for my anger and vexation, and you, the reader, want to revel in the societal nightmares being propagated by rabid theists taking themselves way too seriously in front of microphones. Right? Okay, good. Here we go. [Read more…]

Ben Affleck VS. Sam Harris and Bill Maher

Ben Affleck is enjoying some social media flattery after butting heads with Sam Harris and Bill Maher last week.

This is the kind of conversation that I actually have a difficult time taking sides on. I definitely don’t have the stomach to support Affleck’s wide-eyed version of reality, where mainstream Islam preaches gender equality and tolerance. That’s just not the case.

But I also have a hard time with westerners foisting their value system on other countries. So, it bothers me when people like Harris and Maher argue that we need to promote change within another country’s society.

That being said, I would probably end up sitting on the Maher/Harris side of the table.

At the end of the day, Maher and Harris are arguing for human rights and Affleck is simply calling everyone racist, which doesn’t really address the issue.

If you think I’m an idiot, let me know in the comments. Seriously. I’ll happily change my stance if the argument is solid.

Failure to communicate.

In recent weeks, as the situation in North Korea has heated up, there has been a disappointingly predictable response from certain quarters in the Christian media.  To sum up: with so much gay-friendly news coverage lately, all the crazytown talk coming from North Korea is most likely just the warmup to God’s retribution for the gay-loving sinners of America.  Of course.  The only possible explanation.

Seriously, check this out.

“I would not be surprised that at the time when we are debating same-sex marriage, at a time when we are debating whether or not we should have gays leading the Boy Scout movement, I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that we have a mad man in Asia who is saying some of the things that he’s saying,” Luter said.

It’s not just that loony Luter and his chum, either.  The Family Research Council weighed in last week with a fascinating prayer request:

President Obama, Secretary of Defense Hagel and the politically swayed Joint Chiefs who helped repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, desperately need our prayers for wisdom. U.S. and S.K. defense officials are “highly confident” that a North Korea launch of a medium-range missile is imminent, is “very high” (see Very High, Pulse Bomb, Just Bluster?).

  • God, please intervene! Our brazen sins make us vulnerable despite our nation’s great military power. Our leaders’ perspectives are clouded, only you can navigate our nation though these deep waters. May we rush to repent and obey your word! Watch over our friends. Be our Fortress and direct our civilian and military leaders (Dt 28: all; Josh 7:1-24; 22:20; 1 Chr 12:32-33; Pr 31:4-5; Is 1:16-20; 3:8-9; 56:10; Jer 16:19-21; 1 Jn 3:16).  *see note below–JM

See what they did there?  Their prayer for our government and military is cleverly (I use the term loosely) presented in relation to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – as if it were somehow relevant to the current escalation in international issues.  Yet again, these chuckleheads are setting up The Gays (and their allies) as scapegoats for any harm that may befall our country.

I can’t help but be fascinated that, apparently, an “all-powerful” being hasn’t yet figured out how to communicate directly with anyone (other than Pat Robertson and his ilk, that is).  Every time there’s a breakdown in diplomatic talks, or a terrorist attack somewhere in the world, or a natural disaster, or school shooting, some idiot has to claim “God” is trying to send us a message.  Has this guy never heard of having an open conversation with people?  If he wants us to get a message, why not just come out and say so?  This business of using earthquakes and insecure weirdos (either foreign or domestic) to carry vague-but-violent “messages” to us?  Weaksauce, big guy.  Pick up a damn phone, eh?

Given the number of entirely obvious, wholly rational explanations for all of these occurrences, it is beyond ludicrous to assign any higher meaning to any of them.  So, North Korea’s leader is acting belligerent toward the United States.  Again.  Does it really need to be because God wants to use him to chasten us for our terrible “sin” of tolerance?  Really?  A mentally ill person shoots up an elementary school.  Is the first, most rational explanation divine retribution?  Is an earthquake or hurricane truly a divine temper tantrum?  Or can we, as adults, allow the science to speak for itself, and skip the assignation of blame and meaning?

But then, I suppose I already know the answers to those questions.

*You owe it to yourself to read the scripture citations provided above, with that prayer request.  I got a big kick out of reading Deuteronomy 28, especially verses 15 and following, relating to the curses for disobedience.  We’re talking rape and cannibalism, y’all.  So, we have that to look forward to, if these guys are right.  Edifying!  Oh, how I love the Good Book!

The Bible’s Greatest Hits – Week 44?: Ezekiel 23: 31

The Bible's Greatest Hits - Title ImageWell folks, it appears the unthinkable has happened. Actually, I’m surprised it hadn’t happened earlier. It seems I totally blanked last week and forgot to post a Greatest Hits. My deepest apologies to the families of the victims. Look, I’m just a simple guy who doesn’t actually remember what I was doing last week during the time I normally spend doing this. I’m sure it was important and in no way related to video games. Anyway, I hope you all managed to make it through the week without a boost from the Book. In other news, it’s May 1st, the day where everywhere that isn’t America celebrates International Worker’s Day while America tries really hard to pretend it didn’t execute innocent people over the 8 hour work week. Nope, nothing to see here. But enough of that, Spring is here (not really) and it’s about time we get to our verse.

 Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her cup into thine hand.

Ezekiel 23:31

 

Thus the Biblical tradition of hand me down bras was formed.

Bishops love the ladies.

USCCB LogoJust in time for International Women’s Day, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a statement opposing the newly-signed Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Predictably, one of their chief objections is due to the new law’s explicit provision that no victim can be excluded from protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  They’re claiming that, while nobody deserves to be abused or victimized, by legally identifying those classes as protected, the institution of marriage is once again undermined by the LGBT community.  In fact, not only is traditional marriage threatened, but the entire “meaning and importance of sexual difference” is undermined.

Yes, my friends, the gays are just that powerful.  The simple act of acknowledging their protection under the law can actually tear down religious institutions and their rigid, arbitrary definitions of human sexuality. And we can’t have that.

Delightfully, the fine fellows of the USCCB don’t stop there. In addition to the terrible consequences of legally recognizing LGBT citizens as actual human beings, they have another example of how protecting victims of violence is a bad thing; the new law “omits language to protect the conscience rights of faith-based service providers to victims of human trafficking” – in other words, this law focuses on actually providing services that such victims might require, like unfettered access to women’s health services that would be forbidden by some “faith-based” providers.

What?! Putting the needs of victims before the vacant consciences of these potential recipients of federal funding?  Unacceptable! [Read more…]

Music Monday: “Rated T for Tolerance.” No, really.

Whoa boy. The contradictions run rampant throughout this one! Besides being a rap without a rapper, lines like “don’t propagate your hate” and “this is not to discriminate” parallel a devastating lack of awareness in adopting the video title; it’s something of a tour de force in ignorance.

Yoga is evil.

Kid YogaIt’s always fascinating to me, as a person who was once immersed in the bible-believing American subculture, to witness the highly-selective (and decidedly intermittent) embrace of the separation of church and state by certain religious folks.  For decades the separation of church and state has been dismissed by the religious right as a liberal lie. And those doing the dismissing are the same folks who routinely respond to everything from school shootings to hurricanes with a chorus of blaming the left for kicking God out of our schools.  Every so often, however, they sing a different tune.

Such is the case in California right now, as a religious group is challenging a voluntary elementary school yoga program, on the basis of separation of church and state.  To hear them tell it, the notoriously evangelical Hindu contingent is attempting to circumvent parental authority in order to steal these innocent children away from Jesus and their parents.  (Okay, technically, they’re not just blaming the Hindus for this.  They’re asserting that this yoga program is rooted in Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and “Western Metaphysical religious beliefs and practices.”  But still.  They’re all big-time evangelists, right?) [Read more…]

The Bible’s Greatest Hits – Week 36: Zachariah 1:2

The Bible's Greatest Hits - Title ImageHello everyone and welcome back for yet another juicy, 100% horse meat free edition of the Bible’s Greatest Hits. I’ve got a great bit of Bible to help energize and renew your eternal soul for the rest of this week, but first I want to highlight two news items that made their way into my heart this week. First off, some shitty TV hosts in the UK have been claiming that their onscreen prayers are curing cancer and other maladies. For the record, in my Atheist Utopia, shit like this wouldn’t happen. Just sayin’. Second, Salon.com posted this article detailing some of the more extreme legislation being proposed around the States. One of particular interest to readers of this site is the proposed bill that would require science teachers to provide counter-point to all scientific theories and hypotheses, because the theory of gravity is so controversial. Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for (I don’t know why you didn’t just skip ahead, silly) today’s verse!

 

The Lord was very angry with your fathers.

Zechariah 1:2

But… my dad’s really nice. Why God, why?

The Bible’s Greatest Hits – Week 34: 1 Chronicles 21:7

The Bible's Greatest Hits - Title ImageHello everyone and welcome again to that weekly dose of scriptural heroin that is The Bible’s Greatest Hits. I’m here to help you get through your mid-week slump and push you headlong towards your weekend slump. But first, here’s some more evidence for Creationists to ignore. And here’s a horrifying tale with a happy ending about Christian children in Bangladesh getting kidnapped and sold to terrorists. Religion, doing its part to help the world by turning children into walking bombs. Finally, the U.S. Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act with some new provisions to protect the LGBTQ community and Native Americans. Here’s the voting results, notice that 22 Senators (I’ll let you guess which party) voted against the Act, because you know, why would we want to stop violence against women? With that out of the way, it’s on to this weeks verse, enjoy!

And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.

1 Chronicles 21:7

Makes one glad to not be his chosen people, eh?

Boy Scouts Are Reevaluating Their Anti-Gay Policies

Good news, everyone; the Boy Scouts of America, an organization that is known for its merit badges and bigotry, is reevaluating its national membership restriction on homosexuals. Deron Smith, the organization’s spokesman, explained that this wouldn’t necessarily remove the restriction, but would leave the decision up to the local branches. So, if you’re a gay scout from Arizona, you’re probably still banned.

“The BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation,”  Smith said in an emailed statement. “This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation.”

Unfortunately, the ban still stands if you don’t believe in their imaginary friend, Jesus. “(The Scouts) still have an aspect that excludes certain religions, and atheists,” said Scott Santen, an Eagle Scout who has become active in an alternative organization that was formed in defiance of the Boy Scouts’ social practices. Though, Santen also added that lifting the ban on homosexual members is “a first step.”

Just so we’re clear, this ban isn’t being lifted because of any newfound religious doctrine that recognizes homosexuality as legitimate. Religious organizations don’t make ethical strides on their own merit. They are dragged, kicking and screaming into modernity, and they never quite catch up.

So, yes, this is a necessary first step. Just like it was 50 years ago, when the rest of the country took it.

Source: STL Today