Bill O’Reilly Says Christianity Is Not a Religion


Wowza – please watch this video clip. Bill O’Reilly says Christianity is a philosophy not a religion. O’Reilly actually argues that Christianity, being a philosophy is exempt from rules governing freedom of religion. O’Reilly’s point of view sat me on my ass; those of Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist – name any faith – follow a religion, while Christians believe in a philosophy.

Pondering this Fox News bombshell leads to several questions.  I would love to ask O’Reilly if  and when this “philosophy” will start paying taxes. If indeed a philosophy, why did he call David Silverman of American Atheists “insane” for then responding that Atheism was a philosophy. If a philosophy, how can it be the only true philosophy, and not be a religion. When did it become a philosophy – certainly not when the church burned philosophers at the stake.

Bill O’Reilly tends to blurt out ridiculous justification for his points of view; I know that and avoid his venomous propaganda. The problem is – millions of Fox viewers take his word as the gospel. For every person who scoffs at O’Reilly, there are two more taking it hook, line and sinker.

Advertisements

Oh Christmas Tree


December graces my calendar, Christmas music assaults my last nerve, snow is expected to fall in the next few days – it must be close to Christmas. I know I loved Christmas as a child; not for the birth of a mythical character, but for stringing popcorn garlands and anticipating the pancakes my father made on Christmas morning. I loved the way the tree smelled, it was organic, intoxicating  – a welcome addition to our rather brown 60’s living room.

I find myself pondering Christmas trees, reminding myself how it came to be that our “Christian” world erects this symbol year after year.

We deck the halls because Pagans used to bring greenery into their homes on  the shortest day of the year for the sun god to eat.  It was an “offering” to get well soon; a custom shared by ancient Druids, Romans and Greeks. Jesus could have been born in July for all we know but Dec. 25 was set to soothe uppity Pagans by coinciding with their solstice parties.

Many stories circulate over the first Christmas tree. One account comes from 8th century Germany; British missionary St. Boniface cut down a giant oak tree obliterating everything in it’s path except a tiny Fur sapling. He called it a miracle, dubbing it “the tree of the Christ child”. Decorate it any way you like – all the tinsel in the world can’t alter the fact Christianity adopted Pagan rituals to suit their purposes.

The Protestant reformation of the 16th century banned Christmas; viewing it as little more than a rowdy Pagan celebration. Oliver Cromwell’s England had no place for Christmas, and puritan immigrants to New England were forbidden by law to deck the halls. Christmas falling on Dec. 25 has nothing to do with the birth of Christ, and everything to do with the Roman festival of Saturnalia.

Romans celebrated Saturnalia for one week every year. From Dec. 17 – 25 courts closed and citizens were exempt from retribution. During the 4th century, Christianity succeeded in converting large numbers of people by promising they could still celebrate Saturnalia. Lacking a Christian angle – the church named Dec. 25, the last day of the festival as Jesus’s birthday. In exchange for “observance” of Christ’s birthday, the church looked the other way as Saturnalia participants drank themselves silly, ran naked through the streets, and indulged in excessive sexual activities.

Historical accounts tell of Pope Paul II standing on a balcony laughing as unfortunate Jewish citizens were forced to run naked through the streets. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Jewish rabbis were plucked from Roman ghettos, placed in ridiculous clown  costumes and marched about for the delight of crowds armed with debris to toss at them. A 1836 appeal from the Jewish community to Pope Gregory XVI to stop the abuse resulted in this response “it is not opportune to make any innovation”. Dec. 25, 1881 Christian leaders whipped Polish followers into such a frenzy, 12 Jews were murdered, countless Jewish women raped.

Christmas is not a religious holiday – it never has and never will be. Jesus wasn’t born in December – Christmas is a Pagan holiday celebrating the winter solstice. Christmas symbolisms like the tree, mistletoe, even gift giving – “Christianized” to placate Pagan hordes.

I plan to put up a tree, buy gifts and spend time with my family. Christmas is a welcome break in the midst of dark winter days and crappy weather. Not for a second will I see it as anything other than what it is – the festival of Saturnalia.

http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm

Bad Bishop of Limburg


When the head of the world’s richest corporation suspends one of it’s executives for extravagance and an overly lavish lifestyle – I stand up and take notice. When that CEO is the pope, executive the Bishop of Limburg – you have my full attention. This is worth pondering; the Catholic church isn’t an institution known for airing their dirty laundry.

So what does it take for the Vatican to draw the line? At what point does the pope stand at attention and declare – “oh hell no”? It appears the Bishop of Limburg knows the answer to those questions – Bishop Tebartz-van Elst probably shouldn’t have spent $42 million renovating his official residence. Even if he bathed in holy water, a bath costing $20,000 is hard to explain. Travelling on a first class ticket to visit the poor in India is a no brainer. Perhaps his nickname – the “Bishop of bling” sealed the deal. Lies to the court under oath about spending, certainly didn’t further his cause.

What does the church do with a suspended Bishop? If this were a sexual abuse scandal, he might be hustled off to another diocese or “retired” to a sleepy little corner of the world. The Bishop of Bling is only 53 years old – retirement not much of an option. Pope Francis has a true papal quandary to resolve; abusive priests are old news – public admission of flagrant, self serving excess, poses an entirely new set of considerations. The outcome should prove interesting.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/pope-removes-germany-s-luxury-bishop-from-diocese-1.2186497

Image from theguardian.com

Searching For the Wrong Eyed Jesus


If you haven’t pondered this documentary – now is the time.

http://kickass.to/middle-americana-searching-for-the-wrong-eyed-jesus-2004-t1261658.html

Church and State


When I look back at history, I can’t help but think scary similarities are rearing their ugly heads. Like it or not; religion has  dictated more historical conflict than not. At the very least, religion has shaped history according to whose temple had the most might at the time. Conquest led to far more than having your home torched – invading forces brought with them little choice – death or conversion. Once the soldiers finished plundering and fires went out, it was spiritual control that kept them in power. Legions of missionaries obliterated traces of former deities,history, and language. It was “gods” way or the highway.

Watching the conservative religious fundamentalist movement gain popularity has me pondering that history. I haven’t the slightest problem with a person’s faith, god, or beliefs. It doesn’t matter one iota what anyone chooses to believe – happy to never discuss religion for the rest of my days – but for this army of religious bullies pushing their weight around. I can’t shake the feeling that history is repeating itself.

In many ways fundamentalist assaults are worse than ancient military campaigns – instead of simply getting the job done – fundamentalists appear as everyday people. They enter politics preying on fear or family values, without blinking an eye to the nature of their assault.without understanding the damage they are doing.  In America they claim to fight for the constitution; the same constitution that promised freedom of religion and separation of church and state. Using media as an unimaginably powerful weapon, they spread paranoia, misinformation, and  dissension without even realizing their attack on fundamental human rights. It is their way or the highway.

It would be incredibly naive of me to think these bullies have the slightest inkling of the damage they cause. The only hope is to ban any reference to God or religion in politics. How dare any of them claim to uphold the constitution – they know of no constitution other than the bible, which has no place in politics.

I don’t have to read the bible or believe in God to respect people who do. My issue is with fundamentalists bullying people  to read the bible and believe in God. Conservative politicians using God as a weapon that takes away the freedom of choice or beliefs. It makes my blood boil.

Land of the Spirit Bear


I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer; for as long as I can remember the wind has carried melodies, certain trees protected on the off chance a fairy had made it her home, the night sky a reminder of endless possibilities. Never a Santa Claus or Easter Bunny believer; appalled by the indignity of slapping fairy after tooth – my spirit thrived and grew on the certainty that ancient people accomplished feats beyond explanation because they revered the world around them. Before Christianity and organized religion closed the minds eye, before worshipping the sun or seasons became a sin, and before pondering the stars resulted in  death on a fiery stake – mankind listened as the earth spoke.

I don’t want to debate religion – I want to ponder what mankind seems to have forgotten.

I find it so disheartening that technology, science, and religion have eradicated “wonder”. Wonder as in awe and reverence; not Godly rhetoric but honest to goodness, gob smacking, holy crap our world kicks ass wonder. Few people gaze at the stars – the cosmos practically invisible from artificial light pollution. We Google answers, opinion or solutions to questions without any attempt to solve them ourselves. Divisions insulate us based on religion or politics – both of which have agendas of their own. Media irresponsibly turns fiction into fact under the guise of “opinion”. Technology lulls us into a false state of invisibility, while our connection to the earth collapses under pressure. Instead of opening our eyes to natures signals, we genetically alter perfection – all in the name of the almighty dollar. Mankind is out of control – simply because we’ve forgotten how to slow down and wonder.

Children’s classics like Mary Poppins and Peter Pan capture the essence of my dismay. Children who could talk to the birds while very young, or never grow old in Neverland. Written as fading gasps for an inexplicable longing; sensing something was lost but unable to remember what it might be. Knowing an emptiness simmered just under the surface, yet never being able to put your finger on it.

My life is no different; despite my beliefs I’m caught in a hamster wheel just like everyone else. Sometimes something happens to shake my world back into perspective. If I’m lucky, when I least expect it – my world becomes crystal clear. Two days on Vancouver Island brought me back from the brink. Not 5 paces into the trail at Cathedral Grove, I stopped as the gently swaying giants whispered to me. I had entered the land of the Spirit Bear. My senses trembled,  years fell along the path;  each footstep taking me closer to wonder. My nose filled with the scent of cedar and damp moss, I heard sounds from birds in the canopy to moles deep underground. Nothing escaped me; I was awake and alive in a techno-colour dream. Aboriginal spirits danced in splashes of sunlight; their voices telling the story of how Raven created the Spirit Bear to remind him of a time when the world was covered in ice and snow. I made a silent promise not to forget that moment.

http://www.wildshots.ca/2009/10/legend-of-the-spirit-bear/

Heaven or Hell?


Polls and statistics are tricky. Without knowing how many were polled, how questions were phrased, or exact details of who paid for the results;  findings are at the mercy of interpretation. With that in mind I’ll proceed with my ponder.

I stumbled upon details of a study taken by the Barna Group in 2003. A little outdated, yet my guess is that not much has changed. They wanted to know how many Americans believed in Heaven and Hell. Having spent my life under the impression that God was an all or nothing deal; the results were fascinating.

Over 80% of Americans believe in an afterlife, 79% of them believed in a soul that would last forever. ( With or without God’s presence ) Now it starts to get wonky – 76% believe in heaven, 71% say there is no hell. Excuse my ignorance; but isn’t that like asking to have your cake and eat it too? Granted, burning for all eternity would suck.  Almost half of those who believed in heaven stated it was an actual place. A third of those who thought there was a hell assumed it came with an address, for the rest hell is a world without God.

I understand why heaven is a clear winner. Harder to comprehend is where these people believe homosexuals will burn. Pardon me for thinking hell was an equal opportunity proposition. Seems I missed the memo that hell is only present when standing on your soap box.

standing on a soap box