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“So You’re Going on a Mission!” There’s no place like home July 25, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Books, Humor, Responses.
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Continuing series on the 1968 guidebook for prospective Mormon missionaries.

homesick

Chapter 5.  Homesickness

So these missionaries are sent out for two years to be door-to-door salesmen for a bad product that nobody needs.  They are expected to do this six days a week, and the other day will be mostly consumed with getting their chores and errands done.    I’ve talked to some recent missionaries about how cut off they are from their families and previous lives during this time.  I found out that the rules they work under restrict them from almost all contact with the folks back home, and what contact they have is very carefully monitored.  No email, and no internet.  No phone calls to friends or family.  No TV, no radio, no movies, no unapproved magazines, no unapproved music.  Calls home might be permitted on christmas and mother’s day, but no other times.   And essentially no unapproved having fun.   The hazing that these kids are going through to gain future status in their church is being made ridiculously hard with these restrictions.

Given that, our author opens her chapter with this:

“Homesickness is a condition of spirit which comes over you when you are separated from all you love.” (pg 50)

Ya think?

As far as I can tell, the missionary rules are structured to deliberately separate these kids from all they love.  Should anybody be surprised that a lot of them suffer from terrible homesickness?

So let’s see what this book has to say about it.

First she talks about causes of homesickness, from missionaries that she interviewed for the book.  Among the causes listed were writing home too often, calling home, thinking about home too much, and goofing off.  And this might be my favorite:

“I suffered most on the nights when there was a full moon; then I let myself start thinking about the girl I left at home.” (pg 51)

That’s cute, but it sounds more like a song than like an actual case of homesickness.

But what advice does she have to help with this?

“…look in the mirror and say, “Am I working as hard as I can?  Have I really buckled down and learned scriptures and discussions, realizing that discouragement comes most often from not knowing the materials I must teach?” (pg 52)

It’s your fault, so beat yourself up, feel guilty, indoctrinate yourself more, that’s the answer.

But there’s this, too:

“Have I made a real effort to get close to my senior companion?… Perhaps we can console each other.” (pg 52)

I know where my mind just went, but our 1968 guidebook doesn’t acknowledge the possibility that the companions might be comforting each other in unapproved ways.

And this one made my jaw drop:

“Do I really believe that if fear, discouragement, or worry enter my mind I have the power to toss such thoughts into my mental wastebasket and forget them?”(pg 52)

Remember the video “Turn it off!” from Book of Mormon that I posted few chapters back?  I had thought that they were exaggerating when they said “don’t feel those feelings”.  Sounds like they’re not exaggerating so much after all.

There’s also advice to senior missionaries about how to assist their junior partners with homesickness.  And some of the advice given is actually pretty good.  Take a walk, visit friends, do something nice for people where you are, make some personal connections.  Not bad, until she says this:

“Most probably the best results will come from fasting together and talking about nothing but missionary work.”(pg 53)

Because when you’re feeling lonely and depressed, low blood sugar is just the thing to make you feel better?  Seriously?

And she gives us this gem:

“You might even suggest thoroughly cleaning your living quarters.  Sometimes a missionary can get depressed and feeling lonely just living in an unclean, unorganized apartment and it’s amazing what throwing away a three-month-old bottle of unrefrigerated mayonnaise can do for one’s morale!” (pg 53)

Yup, I’m sure that’ll do it!  Next time a couple of missionaries knock on my door, maybe I’ll ask them if they are lonely and would like to cheer themselves up by cleaning out my refrigerator!  It would sure help my morale, but I don’t really think that it would help theirs.  Unless they actually enjoy cleaning, which coincidentally will be the topic of our next chapter.

(I also need to point out that commercial mayo is very shelf stable, it’s a myth that it spoils quickly.)

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Craft Project for Halloween July 24, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Crafts.
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I love making stuff.  I can knit, crochet, quilt, cross-stitch, sew, bead, and I’m generally game to tackle any sort of craft that doesn’t require heavy equipment.  (No space for that in my house.)  With working full-time, I can’t really take on any big projects these days, so I’ve tended towards smaller stuff.  Socks instead of sweaters, that idea.  Well, October of last year I had an idea for a project I wanted to do.  But I needed realistic looking eyeballs to make it work, and I couldn’t find them anywhere.  Even online all I could find was clearly fake cartoonish ones, bleah.

So I decided that if I needed realistic fake eyeballs for this year, I’d need to make them myself.  Sorry I don’t have every step-by step photo of this, but I didn’t think to  take photos until I was nearly done.

I started with some cheap ping-pong balls.  A box of six was plenty.

Cheap Ass Ping Pong Balls

Using an x-acto knife I carefully scraped off the logo from each.  I wanted them to be as translucent as possible, so I cut them in half with the same knife, giving me two nice white hemispheres from each.  Then from Google I found a page of realistic irises and printed them out in color.

 

Eyeballs for Halloween

I carefully cut out the irises I wanted, and cut several radial slits into each to accommodate the curve of the ball.  I suppose you should probably use mod-podge to glue them onto the top of each hemisphere, but what I had on hand was regular glue-all and that worked fine.

But that’s not realistic looking enough – eyes have veins in the white parts.  So I got out two colors of red yarn,

Yarn and Clear Nail Polish and took a small snip from each and teased them out into individual fibers.  Then I coated the rest of the surface of the ping-pong ball with a thin coat of glue and laid just a few fibers into it.  Tweezers were good for this.  Once this all dried here’s the result:

closeup unpolished

 

Pretty good, but not shiny enough to look real.  So I added two coats of clear nail polish to the whole thing, and then another coat for the iris.  Here’s one completed:

closeup shiny

 

Just what I was after!  This isn’t cartoony at all, so the creepiness factor is much better.  I made a dozen of these, all different colors:

Eyeballs

So what are they all for?  Let’s just say I’m planning to have the most unsettling Jack-o-Lantern in the neighborhood this year!  If it comes out well I’ll post a picture of it then.

“So You’re Going on a Mission!” Planes, Trains, and Bicycles July 21, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Humor, Responses, Books.
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Continuing the 1968 guidebook for prospective Mormon missionaries:

Chapter 4. Travel Care

Like the previous chapter, this surprised me with the amount of good advice it contained.  Sure a lot of it was information about specific luggage weight allowances for different countries that’s now outdated, but a lot of it is helpful information for young people taking a flight or a train for the first time.  What to expect at the airport, how to deal with motion sickness, how to tip properly, how to pack your bicycle, remember keep your tickets handy, all very practical stuff.   And, of course, strict rules for polite behavior, because the missionaries are supposed to be perfect role models, not just normal teenagers.

But of course, there are still some wonderfully hilarious or head-scratching moments in this chapter. Amongst all the advice about how to behave and dress while travelling on a train, there is this:

“If you find a stranger sitting at the table with you, a word of greeting is all that is absolutely necessary, but the meal is sure to be more pleasant if you find some general topic of conversation to share.  Actually you’ll be missing the boat if you don’t ask him the Golden Questions!” (pg 40)”

Golden Questions?  What are those?  I went and looked them up.  Here they are:

“What do you know about the Mormon Church?”

And, regardless of the answer, “Would you like to know more?”

Oh boy.  These kids are expected to start right in on preaching at the poor unsuspecting random person sitting in the dining car with them.  If I’m trying to have a nice dinner on a train, and another person at the table starts in on this, I think my response is going to be “Waiter?  May I change tables please?”

And regarding airports, she starts off with this:

“There will always be people who have to run to catch a plane, but if you are on your courtesy toes….” (pg 45)

Courtesy toes?  Are these kindergarteners she’s talking to, or young adults?  Sheesh.

Stewardess_Girl_Pictures_ABU

Her description of what the stewardess on a plane can provide makes me a little nostalgic for the bygone days of air travel:  Chewing gum, airsick pills, tranquilizers (really?), a pillow, socks, and the now-seldom-seen complimentary meal.  (Then I remember that smoking was allowed on planes back then, and I think I’ll stick with today’s foodless cramped steerage seats.  At least I can breathe now.)

But no relaxation for the young missionaries during their flight, nosirreebob!

“HINT: Flight time is valuable time for memorizing scriptures, doing further work on your discussions, or asking the Golden Questions.” (pg 46)

Great, if there’s anything worse than a preachy dining table companion on a train, it’s a preachy seatmate on an airplane.

Next up, what to do about homesickness. This oughtta be good!

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“So You’re Going on a Mission!” Packing and Shopping July 18, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Humor, Responses, Books.
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Continuing with the 1968 guidebook for Mormon missionaries:

Chapter 3. What to Buy and Why

This chapter was pretty long and rather of a surprise.  Most of it was actual good solid advice about how to pack for a long trip.  It talked about which kinds of fabric were better for what kinds of weather, and for laundering, and what things will be useful to bring and what to leave behind. It discussed the possible reasons to buy everything ahead, and when it might be better to shop after arriving.   It reminded me of a college packing list, except for the rules on how conservative and boring the clothes needed to be.

Mormon packing

Modern example of Mormon mission packing

It even had good advice on what kind of luggage would work best, and how to deal with customs inspections.

Apparently the boys were expected to wear suits, and the girls modest dresses with nylons, except on their one day off a week.  Absolutely no socks in “wild colors” for the boys, and no “flashy jewelry” for the girls.  There was a note that the boys might be excused from wearing suit jackets in hotter climates.  I guess they’ve either changed that rule, or I live in a “hotter climate” because I’ve never seen any of the missionary pairs in anything but a white shirt and tie, never a full suit.

But even with as practical as this chapter was, there were a few gems that stood out.  For instance, one of the reasons given that shopping before leaving is:

“7. In some missions it might prove to be an advantage to look “American” because it impresses the local people with your importance.” (pg 20)

Not “makes you interesting”,  it “makes you important”.  What a patronizing attitude towards the people they are sending these kids out to preach at.

Then there was this:

“…In many foreign missions you can even have a suit tailor-made from excellent material for less than it would cost to buy an inexpensive ready-made suit in the States.  HINT: Many times pants are made button front rather than zippered, so if you think you might have a suit made while on your mission, tuck an American zipper into your suitcase. Local zippers, if available, sometimes break easily. ” (pg 20)

Wait what?  I had to go back and read that again.  I knew about magic underwear and abstaining from caffeine, but no button-fly pants?  I had to go look this up.  Turns out that it was attributed to Brigham Young that he once called the newfangled button-fly jeans of his time “fornication pants”!  I wonder if they still have this rule.

A reminder of how outdated this book is can be found in the section on hats.  If a missionary brings a hat along, it should be a men’s business hat, not a “collegiate-looking porkpie hat”.  Porkpie?  Nobody in the 1960’s was wearing those.

Also, among the things they recommend as essential is a “pen, plus extra cartridges”  Cartridges? Like for a fountain pen that can leak all over your luggage? I looked up when the cheap disposable ballpoint pen became available in the US, and it was about 1959.  So this advice was already out of date when it was given.  And under “useful non-essentials” our author suggests “Frisbees (These are small plastic discs…”  I looked up when Frisbees first became popular, and sales took off in 1964.  Why does this author think that she needs to explain what a frisbee is to teenagers?  (That’s like thinking you need to explain to a modern teenager what an iPhone is.)

Who is this author giving advice from the 1940’s to teens in 1968? I looked her up:

Barbara Tietjen Jacobs

Barbara Tietjen Jacobs          1919-2010

Somehow this is exactly what I was expecting her to look like.  (How did she get her hair to be that tall?)  Her birth year makes her about 49 at the publication of this book.  I found her obituary, and her bio paints her as the perfect Mormon wife, raising kids, serving on charity boards and teaching etiquette to children.   Reading this book feels more like she was writing about the era of her own teenage years than trying to connect to the time these kids were living in.

Her obit

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“So You’re Going on a Mission!” What to do about Girls? July 14, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Humor, Books.
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Continuing commentary on the 1968 Mormon guidebook for future missionaries.

On we go to Chapter 2: Girl Care.

This is their chapter on dating and issues with girlfriends back home.  The author spends only three pages on this important topic, but her instructions could have been reduced to one word:  “DON’T“.

Don’t try to keep a long-distance relationship with your girlfriend from before you left, don’t expect to just resume a relationship when you get back, don’t even start dating before you leave, don’t get involved with anybody while on a mission, don’t, don’t, don’t.

This chapter feels more like it was written in 1868, not 1968.  Remember when you were a kid, and children’s books and Disney movies portrayed a world where sex didn’t even exist?  Where girls waited for their handsome prince, and all the prince wanted from her was a kiss, and then they got married followed by “happily ever after”?  I think the author is expecting these boys to keep living in that fairy-tale world of their childhood.

There is no mention of sex in this book, only “temptation”.  Even though girls were known to go on missions, this chapter really only addresses the boys.  And it has great advice for them like this:

“Never be alone with someone of the opposite sex regardless of her age.”

“Always stay at arm’s length except to shake hands.”

“And don’t think that just because you’re going to one of the Pacific Islands or to the Orient that you’ll be immune from temptation.  In working with people you become very close to them and basic differences may be forgotten easily and quickly” (all from pg 17)

And the attitude towards girls is completely shallow as well:

“But if, and when he returns, he finds that she is still interested in rock operas and concerts, all of which have become foreign and insignificant to him, she can easily be tumbled off her pedestal.” (pg 15)

Ignoring the real possibility that while the boy has been off focused 24/7 on religion and religion only, she’s been getting on with her life, maybe going to college, broadening her thinking, and now finds him a colossal bore.

Because the author treats sex as though it doesn’t exist, there is no advice whatsoever for the real problem here – these are 19-year-old males that are being asked to be celibate for two years, and not even supposed think about sex for all that time.  And we know that nothing gets you thinking about something like being ordered not to think about it.  How does a missionary handle the real problem of how to suppress his sex drive, at a point in is life when it’s the strongest?  Or more bluntly – what’s a missionary to do when he gets horny?  In the fantasy world of this book, that apparently never happens.

And there’s also an assumption that all the missionaries are completely hetero.  It says that they are assigned a twenty-four-hour-a-day companion to help them to resist “temptation” but what if the temptation IS their companion?

Since this book ignores this problem completely, I’ll just have to end with this helpful advice from the musical Book of Mormon:

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The Golden Ass – a comment on ancient religiosity July 12, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Books.
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Golden Ass

I’ve almost finished reading The Golden Ass, by Lucius Apuleius, a novel first published around 158.  Yes that’s  158 C.E., and this is an ancient Roman novel, the only one that we have in its entirety.  It was written in Latin, and I’m reading a translation by Robert Graves (the author of I Claudius).

There’s a reason it has survived all this time: it’s a rip-roaring good story, with lots of adventures, magic, and bawdy stories about sex.  But at the end it comes down to our hero being saved from his misfortunes by turning to the one true religion.  That would be the same predictable ending as any number of trite christian books out there, except that our hero in this case devotes himself to the mystery religion of the goddess Isis, and it’s Isis herself that saves him.

But the reason I’m bringing this up is that one particular passage from near the end of the book caught my attention:

“But to secure today’s gains, you must enroll yourself in this holy Order as last night you pledged yourself to do, voluntarily undertaking the duties to which your oath binds you; for her service is perfect freedom. ” (pg 273)

So christians apparently have no monopoly on religious doubletalk. Taking a religious pledge is simultaneously voluntary and mandatory.  Our hero can either submit to a lifetime of religious devotion, or stay a donkey forever.  A lot of the book is meant as humorous, but I’m not sure if this part is meant to be funny or serious.  Either way, it’s in the same spirit as a lot of the stuff I hear from christian preachers who think they are being original.

New occasional series: “So You’re Going on a Mission!” July 12, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Books, Humor, Responses.
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I was at my local library recently, and as I often do I wandered over to see what was on the book sale shelf.  Often it’s just boring stuff, but this time I found this gem, just waiting for me.

So You're Going on a Mission

It’s a book aimed at young Mormon teens, to help them prep for going out on their two year mission.   And it published in, get this, 1968.  NINETEEN SIXTY-EIGHT!  Do I buy it?  It’s only fifty cents, how do I resist?

I don’t think I’m really up for reading this all at one go, or for a full blow-by-blow of every chapter, but I think it would be fun to keep around and every once in awhile tackle a chapter and share a few gems and bits of unrealistic or outdated wisdom.  (It’s not that this blog is specifically targeted at Mormons, I find all religions fairly ridiculous, but this is the book I found.  If I find anything comparably funny from other religions, I’ll have to break up the series with comments on those.)  Most of the book is filled with helpful tips about things like laundry and cooking, because the “elders” being sent out have most likely never had to deal with this kind of stuff on their own.  But there’s some religious stuff injected in there too.

So here goes.  Chapter 1.  Preparing for a Call

On the copyright page it says “This book deals exclusively with the non-theological aspects of missionary life.”  For a book that’s not supposed to be about religion, this first  chapter certainly has a lot about religion. The first thing that popped out at me, right on the first page, was this:

“Don’t for one moment think that no matter what you do there will be a little band of angels hovering around to help you overcome obstacles.  You will receive help and strength only in so far as you keep spiritually in tune and live your religion so that you are worthy of being helped. (pg 1)”

So they are starting right out with guilt, and blaming people for their own difficulties by telling them they just aren’t believing hard enough.  This section also emphasizes that a future missionary must focus on living a “clean honorable life” as if Mormon youth aren’t already under enough pressure to do that already.  And of course an exhortation to study and share the gospel, no surprise there.

Next section is on “Physical Challenge” where they point out that walking all day, almost every day, for two years, is going to be more tiring that the future missionary expects.  (What’s the slang from 1968 for “no duh”?  Oh, I remember.  It’s “no duh”.)  And they say this:

“However it won’t take long for you to discover that there is no place for idleness (in fact, before your mission is over, you’ll learn to feel guilty if you’re not busy every minute)…. (pg 2)”

Again with the guilt.

And “Emotional Challenge”:

  1. Get used to disappointment.
  2. Get used to never being alone.
  3. Live only for missionary work.
  4. Obey authority.
  5. You now have to be a mature responsible person.
  6. Get used to disappointment.
  7. Get used to culture shock.
  8. Don’t expect perfection from the other missionaries.
  9. Don’t go on a mission unless you have convinced yourself that spreading Mormonism is the most important thing you can do with your life.
  10. Don’t get too attached to anybody because you are likely to be transferred.

Some more general tips include assembling wardrobe, learning cooking and cleaning and mending, earning money in advance to cover expenses (because the church doesn’t pay for these missions) and church, church and more church.  All the ceremonies over and over, teach Sunday school, lead scouts, do all the baptism and priesthood stuff, all the church services and rituals available.

Then this book, which is not about theology, then exhorts the prospective missionary to study the Mormon scriptures, the bible, memorize sections of all of those, and listen to their preaching lessons over and over until they are memorized too.  I don’t see how a teenager is supposed to be doing this while also finishing high school, learning housework, holding down a job, and doing every church activity possible.  And of course, not being able to fill this unrealistic expectation adds more guilt.  If they are not effective in preaching, it must be because they didn’t study it hard enough, not because the material is unbelievable.

The general advice in this chapter I think is of mixed utility.  Pay attention in school and learn all you can so you can carry on interesting intelligent conversations.  Good general advice, but in this case they are encouraging it not for it’s own sake, but to be able to use a conversation as an opening for preaching.  They recommend learning about other religions, and actually warn the missionary to be respectful because many of their targets already have their own religions and this must be treated with respect and tolerance.  Hmm.  If the Mormons actually were truly respecting and tolerating other religions, they wouldn’t be sending teenagers out to try to win converts!

And in her discussion about attitude toward where the missionary is assigned, the author says this:  “Actually, you’ll end up thinking your mission is the best in the world and it will be simply because you won’t know anything about anyone else’s!” (pg 13)  Somehow I think this also sums up the marriage advice these young men will get when they get back.

Some basic things I learned about these missions:  The targets of the preaching are referred to as “investigators”, as if they are an active participant in being preached at.  Door-to-door preaching, that I would refer to as “proselytizing” is called “proselyting”.  I don’t know if this is a Mormon thing, or just a weird spelling in this book.

Next chapter will be about girls!  Oh Boy!

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Mystery solved! June 29, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Wow.
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Daylily closeup

I don’t often write about gardening.  The reason is simple, I have a very small yard, and most of it is shaded, so growing anything besides shade plants is very difficult.  So I don’t really have much to write about.

But I’ve had an ongoing mystery for years now, and I finally have an answer.  Some time back, a neighbor who was redoing their yard said “I have this daylily plant a friend gave me.  I was going to throw it out, but do you want it?”  “Do you know what color it is?”  “Nope, don’t know.”

Well, I adopted the plant, and planted it in a bed in my backyard.  This yard has a tall fence on on side, and the neighbor’s huge shade tree on the other, and gets almost no sunshine at all.  The daylily didn’t die, but it didn’t bloom either.  It multiplied like crazy, sending off lots of shoots, and after several years I had a flower bed full of fairly sickly greenery, but still no flowers.

Then a neighbor cut down their tree in the front yard and that gave me one new sunny spot in the front yard where I could plant something.  So I moved a clump of the daylilies there, and waited.  I was hoping for something more interesting than the typical plain orange or yellow flowers.  For the whole first year they grew happily, with tons of lush greenery and lots of new shoots.  And still no flowers.

So this year I decided that if there were no blooms I was going to pull up the whole lot of them, front and back, and plant something more cooperative.  But then this happened:

Daylily

Wow!  The flowers are orange with a lovely red and yellow center, and they are not just double flowers, they’re triple.  Time to go look up what this is.  I found two possible names “Kwanso” and “Flore Pleno” for this variety.  Sometimes I found the names used interchangeably, but other websites were specific that Kwanso has double flowers and Flore Pleno has triple.  So I have Flore Pleno daylilies, and I’m very pleased.  Wikipedia says that this variety is genetically triploid, which is cool, but also means that it is unlikely to set seed.  Which is fine, these things spread like crazy anyway.

So thanks to my neighbor for the gift of these amazing flowers, even if it took years of waiting.  Totally worth it.

Evangelists and the Reason Rally, Third Epistle June 2, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Events, Rants, Responses.
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One more of these before the Rally.  Again, as a reminder, these are some of the things that I would be saying to Ray Comfort’s specially trained group of 1,000 evangelists, who were going to descend on the Reason Rally en masse until they found out they needed a permit and would have to demonstrate at the other end of the Mall.

reason rally preachers

Ubi Dubium’s Third Epistle to the Evangelists

“OK, Mr. Preacher.  I think I’ve made it clear that all the stuff you have carefully learned from Ray on what to say to atheists is going to accomplish exactly nothing as far as converting anybody.  Any of you who have tried this kind of the thing on us in the past should be well aware that it will not be producing the promised results.

“So the question is:  Why do you guys do stuff like this?

“Now I can’t claim to read minds, or know your beliefs better than you do.  But I have some hypotheses about what is actually going on that I’m going to suggest.  If any of the preachers who were actually going to go to Ray’s event want to comment here on these ideas I’d be happy to discuss them.

“An obvious answer is that their bible tells them to go “preach the gospel.”  But there are certainly easier audiences out there, ones that will give more “bang for the buck” as it were.  Even a college campus is more receptive than a crowd of thousands of atheists, and there’s a better chance of actually making converts.  I know people like a challenge, that’s why they do crazy difficult things like climb Everest.  But do you throw yourself at Everest if you know there’s zero chance of success?  So that can’t be all there is to it.

“Another thing that I see is that True Christians™ always seem to want to be seen to be accumulating “cosmic brownie points” with their god (or “treasures in heaven” if you want a nicer term).  Every opportunity for a public display of piety, or to throw a bible verse into an email, or to preach at somebody is a chance for a shout out of “Hey god, look how devoted to you I am!”  I rarely see that kind of thing from mainstream christians, they usually take the bible verses about not showing off their piety in public more seriously (see Matt 6:5).  It usually seems to be those of the fundigelical variety who are intent on making as big a public display as possible.

“But I think that even more than displaying their devotion for god, I think in many cases they are displaying their loyalty to each other.  I’ve talked about the idea of “honest hard-to-fake expensive symbols of commitment” before.  (And I still am looking for a better name for this idea, if anybody has one.)  This is the thing you do that is difficult, or time-consuming, or expensive, or personally embarrassing, or all of those, and is also completely pointless.  You would never do it except for the purpose of getting another group or individual to accept you as sincere.  Among the many things that would fall in this category are Mormon missions, gang tattoos, big diamond engagement rings, fraternity hazings, and tithing.  The bigger the gesture you make, the more you are telling your group that you are a devoted member.  And for a group where preaching is a show of loyalty, what bigger gesture can you make than to spend money to travel to another city, and preach in front of a guaranteed hostile audience?  I think going off to DC to do this is  a sure way to gain status and trust from the congregation back home.

“I’m thinking there may also be an element of territorial marking involved as well.  The atheists are meeting on the National Mall, in public, specifically to challenge christian dominance of politics and government in the country.  If the christians just allowed that to happen without getting involved, it would be a big event that was all about the heathens, and not about them. Perhaps they felt a need to take ownership and put their mark all over the event as much as possible, to reclaim this piece of the public attention “turf” for themselves.  Being relegated to the other end of the Mall just would not accomplish this goal at all.

“Those are my ideas so far.  It’s possible I’m completely wrong (which is something you never hear an evangelist say).

Thus endeth the Third Epistle.

 

That’s all for now.  If I have any interesting encounters at the Rally, perhaps I will have a follow-up.

Evangelists and the Reason Rally, Second Epistle June 2, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Events, Rants, Responses.
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ray-comfort-2

Continuing on with all the things I wanted to say to Ray Comfort’s god squad that was supposed to show up at the Reason Rally to save our souls and stuff.

Ubi Dubium’s Second Epistle to the Evangelists

“OK, now Mr. Preacher I’d like to talk about the content of some of your preaching, but probably not in the way you expect.

“You’ve probably spent a lot of time learning all kinds of apologetics.  Endless arguments against evolution, and lots of arguments for the existence of god that go along the lines of “first cause” and “everything can’t come from nothing” and so on.  You’re prepared to go into those arguments at great length, and expect me to spend a lot of time rebutting you on them.

“Well, I’m not going to bother doing that.  Surprised?

“Let’s look at the bigger picture here.  Suppose that by some really amazing insight you were able to show that evolution wasn’t happening, and that it’s not responsible for the diversity of life on earth.  Well then SO WHAT?  All you would have done is get us back to a position of “I don’t know”.  And if you understand the fallacy of the argument from ignorance, you’ll see that “I don’t know” does not justify jumping to a conclusion of biblegod and Jesus and Noah’s ark and talking snakes.  You still need positive evidence to justify those beliefs, and knocking down evolution, or any other science you happen not to like, does nothing to establish the truth of your dogma.  You need positive evidence, not just an attack on what you see as the alternative.

“And let’s look at those “first cause” arguments.  “Something can’t come from nothing.”  “The universe is too fine-tuned not to have been designed on purpose” and so forth.  Suppose you were successful in making those arguments.  Again, SO WHAT?  The best you can do from winning all those arguments is a vague deism. But deism isn’t what you are trying to sell me on, is it?  Even if you establish that there had to have been some kind of mind behind the creation of the universe (which I’m not actually buying), you have done nothing to show that your religion is true.  Your creator god could be one that created the universe and then died, or left, or one that just  churns out universes all day and doesn’t care what happens to them, or one that became the universe instead of making it, or one that created the universe for some other purpose and we’re just a side effect, or any number of other possibilities.  Winning your “first cause” arguments still do nothing to get you to a conclusion of biblegod and Jesus and Noah’s ark and talking snakes.  “Look at the universe, therefore Jesus!” makes no more sense than “Look at the universe, therefore Muhammad!” or “Look at the universe, therefore Krishna!” or “Look at the universe, therefore the Flying Spaghetti Monster (pesto be upon Him)!”   If what you are presenting isn’t evidence that’s specific to what you are actually selling, then don’t even bother.

“And finally, Ray has probably taught you all kinds of rhetorical tricks to try to trick people into saying that they need god:  “Have you ever lied?  Have you ever stolen anything?  Then you’re a liar and a thief!  And therefore a SINNER!”  I have two things to say about that.  First, any god that would need his preachers to trick people into belief is a pretty pitiful god in my book.  And second, Mr. Preacher, have you ever lied about anything?  I bet you have!  And you know what that makes you?  A LIAR!  You’ve learned your craft from Ray Comfort, and I’ve certainly heard him tell lies.  And if you believed that you could bring somebody to Jesus and save them from the eternal fires of Hell by lying to them, would you do it?  I bet you would!    In which case, Mr. Preacher, that makes you a liar for Jeezus who is not entitled to be up on that soapbox.  Get off that high horse, knock it off with the clever trickery, and actually talk to us and pay attention to what we have to say.  Find out why it is we don’t believe your message, even though we live in a country saturated with it.   Listen before you talk.

Thus endeth the Second Epistle.

(Stay tuned, still more to come.)

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