The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Kid on the Way

While slightly different from New Kids on the Block (Oh, they're comin' back baby!), my wife just had the first signs of our New Kid on the Way. We'll be heading in to the hospital very shortly and as such, the Purpose Driven Thingy will be put on hold for a day or so until I get some time to chill. Thanks to those who are keeping up, I've got the next two days ready to go and they just have to be typed, so those will be up sometime during the next couple of days. After that, it won't be more than a couple of days before I can sneak a couple of half-hours at the keyboard.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Andrew Koenig

As an avid podcast listener, there are quite a few that sit on my iPod to make my day a little more pleasant while I'm working or driving. One of my favorites is Never Not Funny hosted by Jimmy Pardo; if you're a fan of comedy and you don't listen to it, you should start.

A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that Andrew Koenig, one of the producers on the "pardcast" did not return from a planned visit to Vancouver. Word spread around the podcast and comedy community to help find him, but weeks passed. Sadly, it was announced today that Koenig's body was found in Stanley Park in Vancouver, an apparent suicide.

My sincere condolences go out to Koenig's family and friends, particularly the crew at Never Not Funny.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Purpose Driven Thingy - Day 7

"The reason for everything."

...at least Warren keeps his thesis narrow. Day seven is a doozy with several noteworthy contributions from America's pastor. We begin today's blathering with this bible quote:
The Lord has made everything for his purposes. Proverbs, 16:4
Man, maybe that's why there's so much craziness. Imagine if you had the power to create and do anything. I'd have monkeys juggling flaming car tires and people being ridden down the street by animated hot dogs and I'd travel everywhere on that platform thing that Xerxes rode on in 300, only it'd be carried by all the Catholic pedophile priests and secretly gay evangelical Christians.
The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God...God made it all for his glory.
Sooo, that includes Big Brother, season 11, right? Glory to God in the highest, and I hope that girl takes a shower soon. Hey, remember how Saddam Hussein had statues and murals of himself put all over Baghdad and Iraq? What'd we think of that? I believe we though it was the work of a megalomaniac crazy person. Multiply that times, oh, the entire universe and you'll get the ego of God. Let's all bow our heads and have a snack-cake.

There's a lot of repetitive, "God is great...God's glory...blah blah blah..." in this chapter. It's annoying, but what do you expect from a person who thinks the bible is a great book?
Where is the glory of God? Just look around. Everything created by God reflects His glory in some way.
This is just a re-wording of, "Wanna know why I believe in God? Just look at that pretty sunset/flower/little girl/little boy/old tree/interesting mushroom, etc..." You fill in the blank with something that is sort of cool and it'll stick. What this ignores is all the crappy stuff that happens every day. Is God's glory in this little nature scenario? (warning: graphic but way cool nature tale)

Can you see God making a zombie caterpillar to protect the wasp larvae that just chewed their way out of its innards? Man, you wanna talk about "glory". That's a George Romero (or maybe Rob Zombie!) movie in waiting, right there.
In Heaven, God's glory provides all the light needed. The bible says, "The city does not need the Sun or the Moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives its light."
A picky technical point to correct: the Moon does not "shine", it reflects. If you don't have a Sun, you don't have a bright moon...or any life on Earth, so the whole "glory" thing is a moot point. But, haha, I'm being all sciencey and rational. Sorry, back to the blathering.
Because of Jesus, we are no longer in the dark about what God is really like.
See, Jesus is sort of the blind date connection who tells you all about the person you're going to meet at the hip new Wheat Grass Boutique. I find it hilarious that Warren is using a potentially fictitious person (Jesus) to get factual information about a certainly fictional character (God) via a book written by men more than fifteen-hundred years ago. To quote Bill Hicks, "He must carry his balls around in a wheelbarrow, man.

Whew. Ok, we're gonna take a quick break to have a granola bar and read a science news article as a bit of a palate cleanser, then we'll come right back and do Act Two.
...the Sun is the radiance of God's glory.
Warren is all about "glory" today. Like, to the point of obsession. It's worrying. Even rudimentary astronomy tells you that the Sun is a giant nuclear fireball that emits energy totally predictable by Einstein's E=mc². It's right there in the physics hullaballoo.
We are commanded to recognize his glory, honor his glory, declare his glory, praise his glory, reflect his glory, and live for his glory. Why? Because God deserves it...Since God made all things, He deserves all the glory.
Did you count how many times "glory" appears in that quick little quote? I got seven. Again, I don't like to use the word "brainwash", but if the electroshock fits....

Also, isn't the word, "deserves" sort of relative? I mean, I think that the movie The Hurt Locker deserves to win Best Picture at the Oscars this year. It might not, Avatar might get in there or there might be another sleeper that squeaks away the win. I just think that "deserves" is just a human idea (like God, actually) that it doesn't belong in a discussion, regardless of how inane or painfully repetitive it is about the fictional creator of the universe.

Maybe He deserves an eyebrow piercing. Worked for Xerxes.
The bible says, "In the entire universe, only two of God's creations fail to bring glory to Him..."
Can you guess what they are? Go on, take another five minute break and think about it, then come back.

Back? Ok, here they are:
...Fallen Angels - that's demons - and us, people.
Did you get those? Did you think he was going to go "demon" on you? I sure didn't. I thought maybe pulsars, or Jupiter's Red Spot, or perhaps ribbon candy. Awesome that "demons" came out though
Refusing to bring glory to God is prideful rebellion and it is the sin that caused Satan's fall, and ours too.
Great, us and Satan. We're like this (fingers crossed). Basically, we're like Satan's nutritionist boyfriend Chris from South Park.
How can I bring glory to God?
Warren says that the rest of the book looks at five purposes for your life, which I assume, deal with how to properly show glory to God. Great, I was getting worried here that there was going to be no direct instruction and it was just a long sermon about being unworthy sinners.
Worship is our first responsibility to God.
So screw your kids.
...Use your whole body to do what is right for the glory of God
I've only used my left arm and my right leg from the knee down. Dammit....
We bring glory to God by loving other believers.
That's right, he went there. All those folks who don't believe or reject Sky Daddy, well, loving them gets you nowhere. In fact, the bible says lots about them and what to do when you get a bunch of them together:
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and they shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:41-42
See, gather 'em up, burn 'em. Lot's o' gnashing. Alrighty, next comes lots of blah blah about serving others and "learning to love as God loves", which scares me a bit when you see what God is like in the bible. Then comes the white, pressed shirts and the ties:
Finally, we bring glory to God by telling others about Him.
Proselyting. Awesome. I wonder if Warren will bring up how God wants you to give him glory by wearing vibrantly colored helmets?
LDS missionary
By the way, yes, I realize these are LDS missionaries, but still, funny is funny.
It's time to settle this issue: who are you gonna live for? Yourself or God? You may hesitate wondering if you have the strength to live for God - don't worry. God will give you what you need if you'll just make the choice to live for him
What if I need a nice KitchenAid mixer? I am for sale, it's really only the price we're haggling over. My glory-giving is on the auction block, sir, for the low, low cost of a high-end mixer with meat-grinder attachment so I can make home-made sausage.
Receive and believe - The bible promises to all who received Him, to those who believed in his name, He gave the right to become Children of God...no matter what you've done, God wants to forgive you.
Just believe all this stuff. Come on. Seriously, what have you got to lose? Jesus, this makes the creator of the universe and everything/everyone in it into that annoying person who comes up to you with a big hug and says, "It's ok...shhhhh...it's ok...it's not your fault...", and the whole time you're saying, "Yeah, I know. I was just going to make a sandwich. Seriously, I'm good. Can you stop patting my head? Ok, I'm uncomfortable now, could you let go?"
Whenever you're listening to to this, I invite you to bow your head and whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: "Jesus, I believe in you, and I receive you." Go ahead, just say, "Jesus, I believe in you, and I receive you." If you seriously meant that prayer, congratulation! Welcome to the family of God!
Unless you were just screwing around, then your eternal soul is in jeopardy and you just may be tortured for all time in the fires of Hell. That's a real place, you know. You should be scared, nay, terrified of having your eternity of super special specialness placed on the chopping block. Are you scared enough? Ok, then say the damn prayer and mean it this time.

Today's point: "It's all for Him."

Today's bible verse: "For everything comes from God above, everything lives by His power, and everything is for His glory. Rom 11:36" Again, Warren uses a different translation.

Today's Question to Ponder: "Where in my daily routine can I become more aware of God's glory?" I'd urge you to watch the parasitic wasp larvae eating the living caterpillar video above once again to see God's glory in all it's spectacularly horrifying detail.

Tomorrow, Day 8!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Purpose Driven Thingy - Day 6

nataliedee.com
nataliedee.com
"Life is a temporary assignment."

Warren says that we need to, "always compare two 'truths': 1. Compared to eternity, life is extremely brief, and 2. Earth is only a temporary residence. You won't be here long so don't get too attached." Doesn't this sound like more of the Heaven's Gate shit? It's only missing the purple shrouds and the cool sneakers.

Rick Says:
I believe Christians should carry 'spiritual green cards' to remind us that our citizenship is in Heaven.
Wow. Don't get me wrong though, I think crazy Christians of Warren's ilk should carry some sort of identifying card so the rest of us will be made aware of the full-nuts loonytoon mentality we're potentially dealing with beneath their neatly pressed white cotton shirts. It's just weird to hear Warren say so too, albeit for different and crazier reasons.

Apparently, in WarrenLand, all unbelievers think about is their life...as though that were a bad thing. Then Rick says:
When we flirt with the temptation of this world, God calls it "spiritual adultery". The bible says, "You're cheating on God if all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you'll end up enemies of God in his way".
That's right, adultery. He said it. You're all a bunch of cheating bitches if you just do good things and care about your life and the quality of those around you. What the hell, man?! Did you bat your eyes just then?
We're not completely happy here because we're not supposed to be, it's not our final home. We were created for something much better.
...The spaceship behind the Hale-Bopp comet! It's sooo much better, you guys! There's mini-billiards and fruit slushies and every Friday is Hawaiian shirt day, so, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans.
In God's eyes, the greatest heros are not those who achieve prosperity, success and power in this life, but those who treat this life as a temporary assignment and save faithfully expecting the promised rewards in eternity.
First of all, God has eyes? Weird. I wonder what color they are? Also, this message is basically just, "treat this world like the practice green and chip away, but save the driver and your 'A' game for eternity." Excellent message.

Eternal life makes it all meaningless. If you have an infinite amount of time to make amends for the shitty things you do, then nothing has any ultimate meaning. Religious people like Warren love to throw around the accusation that an atheistic life has no meaning and we're just out for ourselves and we have no morality, but it's quite the opposite when you examine exactly what he's spouting. If you're treating this life like the walk-thru before the big day, then if you screw up and hurt someone or whatever, then you've got the whole main game to step up and make it right. It's insane that we non-religious people have let this bullcrap argument slip by for so long and not called people on it.
You will not be in Heaven two seconds before crying out, "Why did I place so much importance on things that were so temporary? What was I thinking? Why did I waste so much time, energy and concern on what wasn't going to last"?
Untestable and ridiculous assertions about a made-up place and what I'll do there. Oh, sorry, what believers will do there. I'll be burning in Hell.
At death, you won't leave home, you'll go home.
...to the spaceship behind the comet.

Warren's fear of death and dying is palpable, it's such denial that it's embarrassing to listen to, actually. This made-up fairy tale land that's full of happiness and childish dreams makes you think so much less of this one life you're given.

Point to ponder: "This world is not my home." (So, you know, screw the ozone and the climate)
Verse to remember: "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Cor. 4:18 NIV
Question: "How should the fact that life on Earth is just a temporary assignment change the way I am living right now?" Well, if I was smart, I'd stop wasting my time with this retarded drivel and do something productive. This is like martyring myself for the skeptical cause....

Day Seven tomorrow!

Is "Epic Beard Man" an Alter Ego?

By now, most people who are mixed martial arts fans, or just fans of stupid random crap on YouTube, have seen the fight on public transit (link contains NSFW language and content) known as one of, "Epic Beard Man" (hereafter referred to as "EBM"), "Amber Lamps" (for how the battered man asks slurringly for an "ambulance"), or the classic "AC Transit Bus Fight: I Am A Motherfucker" (so named for the slogan on EBM's t-shirt...which should have tipped the younger man off to the state of his adversary's mind).

When you look at EBM however, you may notice a striking similarity to a well-known food spokesperson:
Captain Highliner or...Epic Beard Man?!
That's right, EBM just may be Captain Highliner. Hard times and a rough economy have taken their toll, people, and the good Captain just may have had a bit of a fall from grace. So next time you eat some tilapia, think of the Captain, and hope he's not whomping the snot out of a fellow bus passenger, deservedly or not.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Purpose Driven Thingy - Day 5

Alrighty, a week in and away we go.

Today's little theme thing is, "Seeing life from God's view." Not quite sure how we're supposed to do that, but I'm sure Rick will enlighten me. Opening question for this chapter is, "How do you see your life?" He offers many simplistic views of how metaphors of your life equate to actions taken in reality. It's not interesting or important, so I'm not going to get into it here.

Next is how the damn bible offers three metaphors showing God's view of life:

1. Life is a test
2. Life is a trust
3. Life is a temporary assignment

This chapter only deals with the first two, tomorrow's chapter/lesson will tackle number three. Ok, so, Life is a Test. God, apparently, tests people on all aspects of life all the damn time. He did this throughout the bible as well as Warren lists:

* God tested Abraham by asking him to offer his son, Isaac (mentally scarring him for all eternity...ironically)
* God tested Jacob by getting him to work extra years to earn fair Rachel
* Adam and Eve did an epic fail on their test in the Garden
* David failed his tests on several occasions
* Joseph, Ruth, Esther, & Daniel all passed their tests

Warren points out that God tests people all the time on trivial little mundane shit that even heathenous non-believers do, like holding doors for the people behind you or helping someone with their groceries. It's just silly. Then comes this quote:
When you realize that life is a test, you realize that nothing is insignificant in your life.
Right off the bat, this is poorly written. Lose the last three words and just end with "insignificant". Where's your editor? Apart from that nit-picky business, this attitude only succeeds in making your every action suspect because you'll be acting nicely not because you think it's the right action to take, but because you'll be trying to pass a stupid test. It makes all your actions selfish.
Blessed are those who endure when they are tested. When they pass the test, they will receive the Crown of Life that God has promised to those who love him.
The "crown of life"? That sounds like something Mario would get after jumping on some turtles and rescuing a princess.

Life is a Trust...I'm told. Everything is given to us by God in trust. Warren says, "...God is the owner of everything and everyone on Earth." Little bit slave-owner-ish, but ok, whatever. In this section, he says the same thing over and over, using different words to get to the same point. It's boring to the n'th degree.
Our culture says, 'If you don't own it, you won't take care of it', but Christians live by a higher standard. Because God owns it, I must take the best care of it that I can.
Riiiigggghht. You know that taking care of other people's property is not a specifically Christian value, do you not? If I borrow my buddy's car, I'm going to take good care of it - better than I would my own car - because it's his and I don't want to ruin it or have stress in our friendship. Of course, a planet is a little different than a car. I mean, car's don't have climate change and disappearing polar ice caps from global warming and such. Oooohhh...bad topic, sorry.

If you behave accordingly, you'll get three rewards in Eternity, and here they are (made up by Warren, no doubt):
1. You'll be given "God's Affirmation". Basically all this is is a "chuck" on the shoulder from the dude who invented shoulders.
2. You'll be given a promotion. In Heaven/Eternity, you'll have greater responsibility. God says, "I shall put you in charge of many things." Great, so I go from stock boy to account manager. Wonderful. Does that come with sick leave and three weeks vacation?
3. You'll be "honored with a celebration". A party in Heaven with all your "believing" relatives. Sounds like a rip-roaring time, indeed.

Rick says:
There is a direct relationship between how I use my money and the quality of my spiritual life...The more God gives you, the more responsible he expects you to be."
Sort of sounds like the beginning of a pitch to get your moolas. Plus, isn't the second half of that almost exactly like the Stan Lee line, "...with great power comes great responsibility"? I think so.

Today's "Point to Ponder": Life is a test and trust. How original.

Today's "Verse to Remember": Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won't be faithful in large ones. Luke 16:10 NLT (that's "New Living Translation", in case you are as clueless as I was about six hours ago).

Today's "Question to Think About": What has happened to me recently that I now realize was a test from God? (Um...maybe not eating that old curry paste in the fridge?) What are the greatest matters God has entrusted to me?

Uh, this just gets more and more retarded as time goes by. Tomorrow shall be Day 6 and, spoiler alert! There's sex and then, right afterwards, there's very deviant sex. Tune in!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Purpose Driven Thingy - Day 4

We're made to last forever.

Did you know that? Oh yeah. As the Warrenator himself says:
Life on Earth is just the dress rehearsal before the real production.
Boy, I hope in the eternal hereafter, I can catch a production of The Iceman Cometh. That's a great play. Or maybe Glengarry Glen Ross.

Next!
The reason we feel we should live forever is because God wired our brains with that desire.
Nice, eh? It would be awesome if the people on science's side could just make stuff up and throw it out like so much vapid confetti that would rain down on the audience and stick in their hair like gum. There he goes with the whole "cart/horse" thing again too, misunderstanding how the march of time and evolution work. Not that I should expect Warren to have any idea how evolution works.

Warren now states the black and white mentality that religions have come to be known for:
While life on Earth offers many choices, eternity offers only two: Heaven or Hell. and your relationship to God on Earth will determine your relationship to Him in eternity.
So what about all those poor suckers who haven't heard about your specific interpretation of God? If I'm born in a small town in rural China and Buddhism is all I've ever known, then I'm just doomed for a life in Hell because one of your annoying white-shirted missionaries didn't happen down my branch of the Yangze? Thanks, ass.

Just to be clear: Love Jesus = Heaven. Reject or otherwise have no Jesus = Hell.

Warren now makes some stupid argument about there being no, "long term consequences" if you think this life is all there is. Warren clearly has no understanding of reality. Seriously. He thinks that, "(death) is your transition into eternity." It's quite cult-leaderish, if I may. What's the difference, really, between that sentence from Warren and the Heaven's Gate idea that, "death was a path to the spaceship behind the Hale-Bopp comet"?

Go to the Heaven's Gate link there and read about their beliefs. Rick Warren says exactly the same stuff about, "'human' bodies being "only vessels meant to help (on the) journey". It's absolutely the same thing as when, later in this very chapter, Warren says, "The bible says, 'This world is not our home. We're looking forward to our home in Heaven.'" Honestly, the only difference between a religion and a cult is numbers, and if you think differently it's now up to you to show your work.

Warren says that trying to describe how totally awesome Heaven is would be, "like trying to describe the internet to an ant." I think it would actually be just about the same because whether you make shit up and tell me or make shit up and tell an ant, the end result is that you're still making shit up about a place that doesn't exist.
In Heaven, we will be reunited with our loved ones who were believers.
So screw nice Uncle Mike who took you to the zoo and ignited your passion for science and animals to launch your fulfilling career as a veterinarian. He wasn't a believer, so he'll be burning in Hell...would you like to see him writhing in agony as his skin is burnt off and replaced with a new one to be burnt off again? We have a nice "glass bottom" section over by the Philly Cream Cheese lady.

Rick says: You get to do work that you enjoy in Heaven! So you have no pain and suffering, certainly no WSIB, and you still have to punch a clock. Heaven sounds like it sucks. You couldn't even play hooky because, you know, Big Guy would for sure know. Warren is so full of crap, it's like he's a real-life Play Doh Fun Factory just squeezing out bullshit endlessly in a rainbow of colours (except that's a little bit homosexual and that's not kosher...or whatever).
God has a plan for your life but it doesn't end here...The only time most people think about eternity is at funerals, and then it's often shallow morbid sentiments based on ignorance.
Irony meter straining...straining....

Speaking of doomsday thinking, Rick says, "It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our final day." No joke. The focus on death and the "eternity" that this chapter/day dwells on is quite disturbing. I'm really trying to give this book a fair listen, but there's just too much bullshit to not let my obvious bias creep in.

Ok, the point, verse, and question.

Point: There is more to life than just here and now.

Verse: This world is fading away along with everything it craves, but if you do the will of God you will live forever. 1 John 2:17 (again, Warren uses a different translation)

Question: Since I was made to last forever, what is the one thing I should stop doing and the one thing I should start doing today? If I last forever, then I guess cocaine and/or smoking should be ok, right? Nah, God would judge me for that. Damn God, taking the fun out of eternity....

Tomorrow is Day 5!

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Purpose Driven Thingy - Day 3

Baby, you can drive my car.

Today's little lesson was all about drive. Rick says:
Whether you're driving a car, a nail, or a golf ball, you're guiding, controlling, and directing it at that moment."
Apparently, it's safe to assume that Warren is not a stalker and has never seen me golf.

Warren says that there are five things that drive us (most people) in life:
1. Guilt
2. Resentment
3. Fear
4. Materialism
5. Need for Approval

It seems that Warren is in that weird space where he thinks that everyone who is not a well-adjusted Christian is just a gosh-darn mess and is in bad need of a Jesus-Makeover! Side note: I'm amazed that's not the title of a show on TLC. Can you imagine? Putting people in a Lucite box on the sidewalk and asking passers-by what religion the subject is and how much Jesus'n they need before they are up to snuff. I smell pitch session!

Back to Warren and his tripe. He spouts a lot of catch-phrase, t-shirt "wisdom" in this day's lesson. Stuff like:
Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it...Resentment always haunts you more than the person you resent...Your past is past...The most valuable things in life are not things....
It's really difficult to listen to this (I got the book from audible.com and am utilizing my iPod for maximum shame avoidance) and not guffaw out loud from the grade-school level of writing here.

Rick continues with the resentment talk:
Those who've hurt you int he past cannot continue to hurt you in the present unless you hold on to the pain through resentment.
Or, you could put an end to the pain via the "stabby stabby" route...but that would make you a moral-less, Jesus-less, slack-jawed faggot. Wait, sorry, I slipped into Predator there for a sec.

Ok, then Warren says that:
Without a purpose (from God), life is motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason.
I guess someone should just shut down the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation because, you know, as an atheist, that motion has no meaning and saving all those lives is just "events without reason". Man, does Warren even read what he writes? Did he even write this thing?

After firing into the continent of reason, blindly trying to hit...whatever he can, apparently, Warren then launches into this tired old line, familiar to anyone sans faith:
Without a purpose (from God), life is trivial, petty, and pointless.
Nice, eh? This is basically a "go screw yourselves if you ain't got Jebus". This thinking dovetails nicely into Warren's Five Great Benefits of Living a Purpose Driven Life. See, if you know God's purpose for you, it gives meaning to your life. Then you have hope, and like Rick says, "you need hope to cope." Seriously, he actually says that. I wasn't kidding about the cheesy t-shirt stuff. Warren then says that Dr. Bernie Siegel could "predict cancer remissions", which would be amazing, were it true. Sadly, it's not. Warren continues to fail in the area of research.

A question follows:
Ask yourself, 'Does this activity help me fulfill one of God's purposes for my life'?
I imagine that'd get annoying after a while. I mean, every little thing. "Hey, wanna go for a beer?"

"Nah, it's not part of God's purpose for my life."

It's funny how at this point, Warren uses the analogy of light being scattered and not powerful, but then when its focused into something like a point or a laser, it can cut through just about everything...hence, focus yourself on your purpose and you'll achieve it. The thing is, he's talking about the tools developed by science (a magnifying glass, a laser, etc...) to focus the light, not "purpose" or God or whatever.

Afterwards, there's some passable advice on cutting out unimportant stuff and focusing on what's really going to help you move forward (Warren would say "towards your purpose", I'd say towards what's going to make you happy).

Rick now explains that upon Judgement Day (duh duh duh duuuuuhhhh) God shall ask you two questions (and Rick is like this {fingers crossed} with God), and those questions shall be!

1. What did you do with my son, Jesus Christ? and...

2. What did you do with what I gave you?

Now, Rick says here that the purpose of this book is to prepare you for these two questions. And here I thought the purpose was to tell me how to find out my purpose. There's too many "purposes" in this book/paragraph. I love how Warren just asserts out of his heiny that there is a God, first of all, and additionally that he (Warren) knows exactly what that deity, the creator of the universe and all that exists within it, is going to ask me. And atheists get called "arrogant" all the time....

At the end of this chapter, the "point to ponder" is this: Living on purpose is the path to peace. Meaningless drivel. Moving on.

The "verse to remember" is: You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you. Isiah 26:3 (Warren uses a different translation from the one cited, but it's all from God, right? Right?)

Finally, the "question to consider" is: What would my family and friends say is the driving force of my life? What do I want it to be? That's two questions, but whatever. I'm not really expecting basic math competence at this point.

Overall not the worst chapter, but tomorrow we get into some nice Doomsday culty stuff that makes up for the lackluster day three. Enjoy.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Purpose Driven Thing: Day 2

I'm already annoyed. Right out of the gate on Day 2, one of the chapter-opening quotes Warren uses is Einstein's, "God does not play dice with the universe." Warren is, of course, using it to make a point about how God has a purpose for you and that nothing is left to chance. He never lets on that he has any idea how ironic it is, then, that Einstein spoke/wrote those words to cast doubt on the then-new idea of quantum mechanics. It's a quote from a scientist talking about another branch of science that he doesn't understand and is, ultimately, wrong about. "God" does indeed play dice.

Then Warren states that you're not an accident, that God made you, and that you're full of super special specialness. Feel good yet?
...He deliberately chose your race, the color of your skin, your hair, and every other feature"
Somewhere, in a quiet room at the Royal London Hospital, Joseph Merrick's middle finger is slowly raising up in a silent gesture to Rick Warren. All the children with pediatric AIDS join hands and sing a song that lets Rick Warren know that he can take his pseudo-wannabe-feel-good tripe and feed it to his butthole.

Just in case you thought you had a choice at all, we get, "Every day was recorded in your book (by God before you were born)" So the concept of free will is out the two-story, stained glass window.

It is at this point that millions of starving Sudanese families carrying their dead and soon-to-be dead children across the desert lower their eyes and wish with all their straining hearts that privileged, rich Rick Warren could realize how stupid and self-centered he sounds.

Rick says: "God decided how you'd be born." You know, I used to work at group homes for a long time. I have a friend who lives in one of those houses still who has cerebral palsy and a mental handicap. When his mother was pregnant with him, she lived in a northern Canadian city and, while in labor to deliver her then-healthy baby, the fetal monitor malfunctioned. The medical staff didn't know that the baby was in distress. Once he was born, they realized what had happened and that he had been without oxygen for much too long to be safe. He was airlifted to a larger hospital with his mother to follow as soon as she was physically able in several days.

What Rick Warren is saying is that his "god" did this to my friend. "God" did this for some purpose. If your deity does something like that, then screw it. You're on your own, Saddleback.

I love this part:
(God has)...settled on us as the focus of his love...God designed this planet's environment just so we could live in it...we are the focus and the most valuable of all his creation.
Would you like your Conservative talking points with or without the hot sauce, sir? For crying out loud, this is the dumbest thing I've heard in a while. We humans can only live on a fraction of the Earth's surface because most of it is undrinkable salt water. In fact, here's a great display of Warren's ignorance:
The more physicists, biologists and other scientists learn about the universe, the better we understand how it is uniquely suited for our existence, custom-made with the exact specifications that made human life possible.
Ummm...no. This whole video is good, but the first two minutes is the pertinent section for Warren's "argument":

Rick Warren gets himself a horse, buys a cart, then proceeds to throw the cart right out in front. If he's going to talk about physics and biology, he might want to get some sort of very basic education in these subjects to avoid sounding like an ignorant ass next time. I guess the audience he's playing to really doesn't have science education as its prime directive.

It also strikes me as so juvenile that grown humans need this sort of head-pat to make themselves feel good in the year 2010. "We're the most special of all! God made you a special snowflake of happiness that can never be duplicated in either special uniqueness or amazing specialnessitude!" Jesus, go back to Romper Room.

Warren cites Dr. Michael Denton as saying that the world/universe is too special and must have been created. Denton wrote a book called, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, so Warren loves the guy. So does the Answers in Genesis. However, a careful reading and review shows that there's not much there that indicates any kind of "crisis" whatsoever. Bit of a mountain/molehill situation.

Rick says:
If there was no God, we would all be accidents. The result of astronomical random chance in the universe, and you could stop reading this book (edit note: please, can I?) because life would have no purpose, or meaning, or significance. There would be no right or wrong or no hope beyond your brief years here on Earth.
Dostoevsky, much? Jeez, Warren certainly isn't earning his Boy Scout Badge for research, is he? Ok, no, we wouldn't all be "accidents" because some of us would be planned by our parents. Random chance certainly plays a large role in the development of the universe and, indeed, life on our planet. I'd love to stop reading this crappy book. Obviously there would still be right and wrong, you moron. We are social animals and, in order to function in our social groups, we can't allow individuals to murder, steal, rape, etc... because our group structure would fall apart. We have evolved a moral code that includes aversion to these behaviors specifically for our individual and group survival.

Seriously, is that so hard?

Rick says:
We discover our purpose, "...only when we make God the reference point of our lives."
Riiiigggght. So I can still have God's purpose and stone my disobedient son to death (Deut. 21:18-21)? I can return from battle and burn my daughter alive as a sacrifice and God'll be totally cool with that, right (Judges, 11:29-40)? Right? Ri-goddamn-diculous.

Warren then recites a lame poem that sounds like it was written by a sixth-grader...and not an "A" student sixth-grader, either. He then moves in to his "point to ponder" which is: I am not an accident. Whoa. Deep. Then he has his "verse to remember" which is: I am your creator. You were in my care even before you were born." Isiah 44:2 Uh, does that include all the folks who weren't born in a Christian country? What about all the Hindus and Muslims and Buddhists and such? Maybe they'll convert to Christianity at some point - are they watched over in the womb? What about me? I was born into a religious family (although not overly so) but fell away and am now a thorough atheist. Does Warren's God hate me or love me or neither or both?

Alright, to end for today, Warren's "question to consider" is: Knowing that God uniquely created me, what ares of my personality, background, and physical appearance am I struggling to accept? I've got areas that I need to improve on, for sure. What I'm not relying on is some fictional man in the sky to show me the way.

This chapter was annoying and ignorant to a very high degree. It was akin to listening to some blathering idiot talk about subjects they know nothing about.

Yeah, that about sums it up.

I'm out.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Christopher Maloney is a Quack

Christopher Maloney is a cowardly quack, naturopath, asshat.

Please spread the word.

That is all.

Purpose Driven Thing - Day 1

*sigh*

Alright, let's get into this. Rick Warren's book starts out, obviously, assuming that there is a God. He's a preacher in 'Merica, so of course, there's a God. He gives a couple of quotes to start, one of which is aimed to poke at a very misunderstood atheist position:
Unless you assume a God, the question of life's purpose is meaningless. Bertrand Russell
Good thing he didn't quote the teapot argument. To address this point, however, sure, I'll grant that cosmically, universally, life is purposeless and meaningless. Personally, however, life's purpose is what you make of it. Jackass.

Rick says:
The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.
So if you decide that your life's purpose (although you don't decide, do you Rick...) is pain and suffering, so be it. Warren would see this as a moot point because SkyDaddy decides your life's purpose for you, no input required. He says:
You were born by His (God's) purpose, and for His purpose.
So suck it.

The point here was to stop being "self-centred" and to start being "God-centred." Warren points out that his is not a "self help" book and then says that because you didn't create yourself, you can't tell what purpose you were created for; only your creator can do that. So, evidently, we have to have a little chat with God.

The small hitch in this plan is that you might as well have a chat with the flying, six-legged, green buffalo on Venus. There's the same chance that they exist as God. This also misses the point of using items created for one purpose for quite another use altogether. Think of women who use the handles of perfectly good hair brushes to...well...let's just say for a more pleasurable use than brushing their hair. Or those thin, cylindrical mousse cannisters. You know what I'm talkin' about, ladies.

Warren relates a story about getting lost and that when on one side of a mountain, he asked directions to get to a point on the other side. The gomers he found told him that, "You can't get there from here." He had to start from the other side of the mountain.

I'm not sure if a man as religious as Warren just can't follow a logical point, but if you're on a mountain and you got from point A to point B, then you can get back. It's really not a hard equation. It might be a long way from A to B, but it's certainly do-able. Perhaps that's just a difficult transition to make; from water into wine and folks floating bodily up to Heaven (whatever that means) to a point by point logical train.

Rick Says: "You were made by God, for God." Great, so what about the poor fella who gets made to scoop up the donkey poop? I mean, someone's gotta do it. Or the fellas who have to clean out the latrines and septic tanks? Seriously? That's your purpose in life according to God? That blows.

Also: (paraphrased) God uses you for His purpose, not you using God for yours.

Ok, so we're done, right? Your life really has no purpose, just what God wants. You have no say whatsoever. So shut up and pick that cotton. Or, more tragically, shut up and starve to death in Sudan while you watch your young children do the same and likely die in your arms. Awesome, God, you're the best. I'd drop to my knees but I've already collapsed to them due to malnutrition and muscle wasting.

Rick Asks: How, then, do we discover the purpose you were created for? Even the wisest philosophers are just guessing.

Again, this means that we're done here, right? I can stop reading this tripe? No? Ok, only 39 more days....

We know what our life's purpose is through revelation, says Rick. "We can turn to what God has revealed about life in his word." Ok, but my question would then be, how the eff do we know that that's authentic? If I'm basing my entire life's purpose on this, I'm going to have to see some proo...oh, wait. Warren is religious. Dammit, "proof" will get you nothing.

See, all you have to do to know your purpose is to ask God, like as if he were your wacky neighbor with the nice TV and the big hot tub. This is because, "God is not just the starting point of your life, He's the source of it." And here I thought my mom and dad had marital relations. I'm just a big silly-head.

This was a great quote from Mr. Warren:
To discover your purpose in life, you must turn to God's Word, not the world's wisdom.
Yeah, screw all that acquired knowledge, that's just leading you down the primrose path towards being all sciency and non-religious and heathenous and immoral. You, "...must build your life on eternal truths, not pop psychology, success, motivation, or inspirational stories."

Um, aren't most religious tales just a combination of these things? Isn't the damn bible just a collection of what religious people (not me or other skeptics, of course) would term "inspiration stories"? Things that make you go "hm."

Fun point! Apparently, God has a purpose in mind for you before you're born! Oh, wait, crap...ok, awkward moment here...um...so what about spontaneous abortions aka "miscarriages"? It seems like God is responsible for around 25 - 50% of aborted pregnancies. Does that mean God is an abortion doctor? Why are the christians so goddamned against abortions if their God is such a proponent? ...Awkward....

To end the chapter, Warren has some more atheist-bashing quotes and a story about Andrei Bitov who lived in Communist, atheist Russia where "life is crushing and has no meaning." Eff that idiotic sterotype. I thought Warren was better than this.

The "Question to Consider" at the end of chapter one is this:
In spite of all the advertising around me, how can I remind myself that life is really about living for God, not myself?
To end as I began, *sigh*. This really is written in a crappy condescending manner and has no real thought-provoking ideas yet. I hope in subsequent chapters I might be able to at least gain some appreciation of why so many people thought this book was the bomb or why 665 people on Amazon gave it a five star rating. So far, to me, it's terrible...but tomorrow's another day!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lame Purpose Driven Project

I read somewhere in a list of New Year's resolutions that one skeptic was going to make a point of reading a book he did not, in any way, agree with. I thought that was a great idea, so I figured that I'd pick up Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life. Once I came to my senses, I realized that I belong to audible.com and get an audiobook every month - that way I don't have a hard copy lying around to make me look like a homophobic, retarded christian assmonkey.

Ok, but this book sold crazy numbers so obviously people are getting something from it. I'd like to see what's so good about it, if anything, so I'm going to give it a listen and I'm going to try to be fair about it. Now, I'm a pretty hard skeptic, so it's going to be rough-going and there are forty chapters that you're supposed to read one at a time, one per day. I'll attempt to do this to follow Warren's instructions. Today I listened to the introduction and chapter one. These are my thoughts and notes on the former with the latter to come tomorrow (see, that way I'll be always a day ahead in my jottings and scribblings):

Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life, because it is written by "America's pastor", assumes that the Christian god is real and there's no question about it. He really glosses over some of the Old Testament's horror stories to make a point about how "forty days" is an important amount of time for God to test people. Take Noah, for example. Warren says, "Noah was transformed by forty days of rain." I don't think I'd say that Noah was the "transformed" one - maybe the millions of other people and animals and fish and plant life that all were murdered by God just because he was "displeased". Remind me, though, if we ever discover proof that God exists, to apologize profusely.

Warren also mentions that, "David was transformed by Goliath's forty-day challenge." Sort of makes it sound like P90X, doesn't it? Warren fails to mention that after David kills Goliath with the stone (or sword, depending on the verse you prefer), he cuts the giant's head off like a jihadi with a Sony handycam. Pretty harsh material....

Rick says that people don't ponder what they read:
We rush to the next truth without reflecting on what we've learned.
Now, when a guy who thinks that talking donkeys are real starts preaching about "truths", I usually just tune out, but here we are trying to be all professional and such, so I plodded onwards.

Warren tries to sell some of his related "purpose driven" merch here such as the "Purpose Driven Life Scripture and Affirmation Pak". I spell it "pak" because I'm very street and it gives me more cred' with my peeps, k? K. Also, the "Purpose Driven Life Companion Book/Journal", just in case you ran out of the loose-leaf they sell at Wal-Mart or your local small-business stationary store.

Warren makes it clear that the Bible is God's word, His instruction book. Warren also says that he has essentially paraphrased some quotes to make them "more accessible" to the lay audience who just might miss the message (or "purpose", if you will) if they read quickly and gloss over words like an over-worked university student at three in the morning before exam day - like they always do, those assholes.

Rick wants you to sign an actual agreement saying that you'll read a chapter a day for forty days. It's like a contract with yourself, much like that time you promised yourself that you'd stay off YouPorn for two weeks, but eventually (ok, a day and a half) you caved and rubbed one out. Basically this "contract" is to get lazy people to actually read this so-far-pointless tripe.

This is going to be difficult. Tomorrow is chapter one - maybe I'll find my purpose and that'll be that. I wonder if it happens that easily for some people? "Hmmm...I wonder what my ultimate purpose in life is? Oh, I bet it's knowing how to make a nice mac'n'cheese and supplying any and all pot-luck family gatherings with a tray of the stuff. Alright, done!"

Until tomorrow, fine readers.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Kevin Trudeau is Still a Douche, Perhaps Incarcerated

Over at Dr. Phil Plait's blog there's a nice post about one Kevin Trudeau getting a giant-ass fine and potential prison time all thanks to a sensible federal judge named Robert Gettleman. Kudos, sir.

Most people don't know that Trudeau is such a tremendous scumbag and only recognize him from his stupid infomercials...much like the vapid and annoying Suzanne Somers. Somers, however, may just believe what she's sellin' whereas Trudeau is most certainly in the scamming business (check the link on Dr. Plait's post for more deets...yes, I'm very "street" and can comfortably use terms like "deets").

Ok, that's it. Hat tip and thanks, as always, to Dr. Phil (the non-annoying one) for his great work in text and pixels.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tim Tebow Superbowl Ad Response

In case you were unaware, there was an anti-abortion ad shown during the Superbowl that featured Tim Tebow. The ad was paid for by Focus on the Family in a lame-ass attempt to get people to stop having abortions by using a new logical fallacy I'll dub the "You Just Killed Beethovan" gambit, in honor of that silly old email forward that asks:
Q1: If you knew a woman who was pregnant, and she had 8 kids already, three who were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded, and she had syphilis; would you recommend that she have an abortion?

If you said yes, you just killed Beethoven.
Ah yes, memories. Ok, well it seems that Jimmy Kimmel wanted to respond to the advert in his own way. Here you go!

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Meryl Dorey Done, Andrew Wakefield a Douche

The news today has been good. Meryl Dorey, the former head of the strangely misnamed Australian Vaccination Network, has announced that she's stepping down and that this might be the end of the organization (with any luck). Hopefully this destructive religious-type cult will die a quick death.

In other news, The Lancet reported that Andrew Wakefield's 1998 study linking the MMR vaccine to autism was being fully retracted and that Wakefield himself was, "irresponsible and dishonest". A bit late coming, but hey, at least it's being reported by actual news stations as I heard this morning on my local channel.

A short lag in the shit-storm that is "alt.med" coverage in the media. We (the rational skeptical community and the general public) get a brief win to revel in until the next...well, let's be honest, until about three days from now.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I May Have To Start Watching "Dragon's Den"

Here's what should happen every time one of these fucking clownshoe retards tries to sell another "miracle cure". Kudos to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and to the members of Dragon's Den for smacking this little assface down hard.

(Kudos go to right here)