Quote #51

“But here steps in Satan, the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds. He makes man ashamed of his bestial ignorance and obedience; he emancipates him, stamps upon his brow the seal of liberty and humanity, in urging him to disobey and eat of the fruit of knowledge.”

~ Mikhail Bakunin~

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Martin Luther’s Anti-Semitism

I’ve been listening to this audio book:

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

It’s a fascinating book. I highly recommend it!

There is no shortage of vivid descriptions of violence from mankind’s past and present. And of course, there is plenty that details the horrific torture, violence, and murder done in the name of religion.

Yesterday, I listened as the author quoted from Martin Luther and it struck me how, when I was a Christian, I was taught how wonderful Martin Luther was! He was the person who stood up against the Catholic Church and taught about the truth of salvation – that it is by faith alone!

So listening to his words yesterday about how to treat Jews really caught my attention. It doesn’t surprise me that Martin Luther’s views were whitewashed and then handed to me on a shiny platter by Christians: this practice is pretty much par for the course in modern Christianity.

Here is a link to some of Martin Luther’s views and advice on how Christians should treat Jews:

Anti-Semitism: Martin Luther: “The Jews and Their Lies”

Here is an excerpt:

First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­ and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)

Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: “what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord.” Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people’s obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], “You are Peter,” etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.

Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home. (…remainder omitted).

Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God’s blessing in a good and worthy cause.

Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strongJews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]}. For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.

A Great Explanation of How Cherry Picking the Bible Works

During my deconversion process I came to realize how much cherry picking Christianity does with the bible. I had a new awareness of how Christians explain away the distasteful things in the bible while embracing the things they like. I came across this article today that does a good job of explaining how this process works that I thought might be enlightening for some of my readers.

Cherry Picking the Bible: A Perplexing Phenomenon

Share your thoughts in the comments!

A Few Examples of God Being a Jerk

Just in case you’ve forgotten how awful the God of the Old Testament is …

God’s 12 Biggest Dick Moves in the Old Testament

via io9

PS I think Jesus is just as horrible in the New Testament (he does send anyone who disagrees with him in the slightest to roast for all eternity in hell) … but that’s for another post.

Love and Compulsion

Finding Truth

I’m currently reading a book where the author said that God remains hidden from us today so that we may freely choose to love him or not. You can’t generate love through compulsion, he argued. And he’s right about that. As an illustration, he gave Kierkegaard’s story about a king in disguise:

Once upon a time, there was a king who longed to marry. One day, as he was riding through his kingdom, he happened to see a very beautiful young lady in a poorer section of the kingdom. He was struck by her beauty, so he found reasons to travel through there more often, even getting the chance to speak to her on occasion. As time went by, he realized he wanted to pursue a relationship with the woman, but how should he go about it?

As king, he could have her brought to the palace so that he…

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If There’s A God – The Proclaimers

I came across this song today and I’d never heard it before. I only knew one Proclaimers song and was enjoying listening to their other stuff. Being an atheist, I already know my answers to the questions in this song (I don’t think there is a god), but I thought some of my readers might appreciate the song:

Quote #43

Every man has reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone but only his friends. He has other matters in his mind which he would not reveal even to his friends but only to himself, and that in secret. But there are other things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (from Notes from Underground)

(Found in: Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald)

Freedom & Control

Here’s a blog post I read today that really made me stop and think. When you’re done reading it you can come back and read my rambling thoughts if you like:

What it is like to be a Muslim woman and why we know what freedom is (and you may not)

(via Out Campaign Official on Facebook)

I found reading this touching and sad and maddening all at the same time. It was timely though as my thoughts regarding religion and life in general lately have revolved around the concept of individual freedom and our seeming obsession with controlling those around us.

My thoughts haven’t been about politics so much but more how we as individuals spend a great deal of time trying to make everyone be like us and then turn around and try to be like everyone else. I had started pondering these sorts of things and I started paying attention to how I try to control others. I was with my husband one day and made a comment about an older lady who had dyed her hair blue or something. Then I caught myself and said, ‘Why in the hell do I care what colour her hair is? Who is she hurting by having blue hair? Why do I feel the need to control her and make her like me? Why do I need her to get back in line like a sheep?’

Maybe it’s an evolutionary thing but I’m really sick of it and I think we can do better. Of course we can’t all just do what we want when we want to all the time. We have to live together and get along and care about others. But it wouldn’t hurt us to start asking ourselves more often, ‘Why am I trying to control this person right now? What is it in me that is insecure and needs to make this person do or be different so that I will be ok with myself and my world?’

And of course, since I blog about religion, these thoughts about freedom and control definitely tie in with my past as a fundamentalist Christian. Religion is a formalized way of controlling not only the behaviour of others but their thoughts too.  Whether it’s Islam or Christianity or any other religion, control is at the centre of what religions try to accomplish. Christians may shake their heads at what this ex-Muslim recounts, but if they honestly looked at all the ways that Christianity tries to control them they’d see what I see. Christianity has mellowed a bit because our society has become more secular and Christianity has had to adapt to survive, but don’t for a second think that the obsession with controlling people’s thoughts and actions has gone away. The call to be holy by its very nature controls Christians. Just with that one word, holy, the wheels of control begin to turn. Then add in the concept of sin and throw in a good dose of guilt for every time you step out of line or don’t measure up to that fixed standard of holy … and your every breath is controlled. Every word, every thought, every action is controlled. While I can’t relate to the extreme examples of control that she describes in her blog post, I found myself relating to her description of her escape and her feelings of being on one side of freedom and then the other. I often don’t know how to adequately describe to people who haven’t been on one side of religion or the other just how controlling religion is and how seismic the change was when I managed to get myself out of that world.

Well – I wasn’t expecting to have so much to say on this topic. I hope you get something from her post as well as mine. I have one favour to ask of you. As you go about your day today, start watching for when you are trying to control those around you. Look for the little things. Most of us try to shy away from controlling others in obvious ways, but look for the little times in your day where you try to make someone bend to your wishes. Watch for when you try to make someone say something or do something other than what they had originally intended to say or do. Ask yourself what in you is afraid of just letting them be who they are. And my promise to you is that I’ll do the same.