July 31, 2011 by Bill
When I read, or hear, the wimpish clichés that we should always respect others’ religious beliefs, I want to gag. I gag, thinking of the millions (as Thomas Jefferson put it) of human beings who have been mutilated, tortured and butchered in the name of religion, even as is happening today around the world.
H. L. Mencken, one of the most respected scholars and journalists in America, spoke to this issue. It should be on every person’s fridge door: “The most unbelievable social convention of the age in which we live is the one to the effect that all religious opinions should be respected, no matter how ignorant.”
People fail to recognize that it was humans who created God, not the other way around.
The insidious and seductive cliché that seems to saturate some minds is that you should not be critical of another person’s religious opinions and beliefs. They all deserve respect no matter how ignorant, how bigoted… how ugly… how false… how cruel… how superstitious… they all deserve “respect.”
This pathology of “respect” for ignorance in our society even motivated nationally syndicated conservative columnist George Will to write: “The principle of which all intellectual freedom depends is this: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH OFFENDING SOMEONE IN THE PURSUIT OF TRUTH.” It reaches the absurd point where a person cannot even write a scholarly critique on a religious belief without being labeled and attacked. Distinguished scholars such as Joseph Campbell or Dr. James Bennett Pritchard, who was biblical advisor to National Geographic magazine and Time-Life books, write about the myth of the Hebrew patriarchs and they are immediately attacked as being anti-semitic. An illustration from my own life: Some years ago I wrote a book review on “Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel.” Only a book review, mind you. A book that had excellent reviews in the New York Times. Letters to the editor came in calling me anti-semitic for reviewing the book. Read more
July 24, 2011 by Bill
The historic Christian church has left a legacy, a world view, that permeates every aspect of Western society. It is a legacy that fosters sexism, racism, the intolerance of difference and the desecration of the natural environment.
Throughout its history, the church has demonstrated a disregard for human freedom, dignity, and self-determination. It has attempted to control the relationship between an individual and the divine.
What we call “orthodox Christianity” is embedded in the belief in a singular, solely masculine, authoritarian God who demands obedience and who punishes dissent. Orthodox Christians believe that FEAR is essential to sustain a divinely ordained hierarchical order in which a celestial anthropomorphic God reigns singularly at a pinnacle, far, far removed from the earth and all human kind.
It was through these beliefs that the church came to wield enormous political power. As it took over Europe, and the Roman Empire collapsed, the church all but wiped out education, technology, science, medicine, history, art and commerce. The church amassed enormous wealth and promoted fear everywhere to keep the population in line. It called for death as the punishment for a dissident society. The church attacked Muslims, Eastern Orthodox Christians and Jews. When any of these attacks failed, the church launched brutal assaults upon southern France and instituted the Inquisition, one of the cruelest periods of torture ever known to man.
Christian terrorism was in a full force tyranny over all of society. Scholars estimate that over nine million women were brutally killed in the witch hunts of 1450 to 1750 C.E. My column, Are Women Human? describes the voting of the bishops of the church on whether or not women were human. In several of the councils, women were declared “human” by only ONE vote. All of the church “fathers” during this period despised women. St. Clement of Alexandria wrote: “every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman.” Even Martin Luther wrote that “all women are here for is to bear children.”
I could continue writing for hours on the history of Christian terrorism, but for anyone so naive as to think it is over, let’s move into the present day.
A friend who works for Planned Parenthood lives in a major city asked me to tell my readers about Christian terrorism here in the U.S. They get daily and weekly bomb threats, death threats, and more from Christian groups who are opposed to abortion.
Listen to what Jerry Falwell was preaching: “The idea that church and state should be separated was invented by the devil to keep Christians from running this country. I really believe that the pagans and the gays and lesbians, the abortionists and the feminists, along with the ACLU and People For the American Way, are all working for the devil and they were responsible for the Trade Center bombing.”
Are you aware that Billy Graham and son Franklin, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, when he was alive, all continually used terrorist language as many preachers still do in churches all over America? Read more
July 17, 2011 by Bill
Stephenville, Texas, known today as the “Cowboy Capitol of the World” has more rodeo medalists from there than any other place in America.
People everywhere define themselves through the places where they are born and grow up. I know what William Faulkner meant when he said that early in his life, he realized he could write for a lifetime and never fully exhaust his “little postage stamp of native soil.”
Each of us carries within ourselves a “postage stamp of native soil,” a sense of place that defines us. It is the memory of this place that nurtures us with identity and special strength. The early lessons are usually where the deepest truth is found.
Memories of my own sense of place always take me back to the ranch country of West Texas. It is a country of shimmering horizons and the rugged canyons of the Palo Duro, where I have camped many times. If you travel south from the canyon you will eventually be in the Llano Estacado, the “staked plains” of West Texas that extend north into Eastern Colorado, that are filled with miles of unbroken buffalo turf and rich grama grasses.
The New Mexican comancheros named it and a road was staked out across its unbroken surface by Spanish travelers to guide hunters and traders across this vast land. On the Eastern side of the Llano Estacado is where I came into the world. Also there is the little hamlet of Jayton where my grandparents on my mother’s side had their little homesteading spread. In this month of July, what cherished memories I have of all my summer days from grade school through high school in that exciting place.
It was a magical place there in the 1920s and ‘30s for a young boy spreading his wings. With a population of maybe 150 people or less, it was surrounded by gigantic working ranches.
My days were filled with horses and riding with cowboys… REAL cowboys, not the play like it Hollywood types. My days included feeding chickens and cutting wood for my grandmother’s wood stove. There was no water… no electricity… no plumbing. A cistern and rain barrel provided water. Light was candles and coal oil lamps. Plumbing was the outhouse with Sears catalogs for you know what. Read more