God’s Henchmen

A few of us who chat here just spent the last two days without power, the fall-out from an ice storm. The temperatures have been in the teens and low twenties, and now I’m sure we all have a renewed appreciation for heat and lights. I hope everyone is safe and warm, here and across the country where the storm is heading.

A weather crisis is always a good litmus test of our character and of the character of those around us: Did the neighbors with power open their homes to those without? Did we check on our elderly neighbors, who could not step out of their homes without fear of falling? Who are we when times are difficult, when we have nothing personal to gain?

It reminds me of a movie I saw, Philomena, which is based on true events. If you want to see it and haven’t, stop reading here so that I don’t spoil it for you.

At 18, Philomena became pregnant. Her father sent her to a convent in Roscrea, Ireland, that took in unwed mothers. He then washed his hands of her.

Thousands of girls were sent to Roscrea, where they were shamed and put to work, used as slave labor 7 days a week until their “bill” to the nuns was paid off. The young mothers were forced to give up their parental rights, and wealthy Catholics, mostly from America, “donated” money to adopt these children.

In other words, the convent sold babies.

And then they did everything possible to stand in the way of mothers and children who tried to reconnect. The nuns deemed this as penance, as what these mothers must suffer for the crimes they committed: having sex. Of course, if they had properly become the property of a man first, taken his surname and had sex out of duty, then they would not have been sinners–or saints. You can’t be a Christian rockstar mom like Mary if your loins have been infiltrated.

But here is the most fascinating part of this story. Through the two main characters we see the intersection of faith and reason. Philomena forgave the nuns for taking and keeping her from her son. To this day, she remains a staunch advocate of the Church. On the other hand, the researcher who helped her, atheist and former Catholic Martin Sixsmith, was not so forgiving. He did not want to let the nuns off the proverbial hook.

Does this mean that the religious are “good,” more forgiving while people who do not believe in god are hard-hearted and unforgiving?

Hardly.

What it means is that, in addition to the brainwashing many believers receive from birth, the emotionally-destructive programming that has made them believe they are dirty and sinful and not worthy of justice, religion discourages followers from holding others accountable. The nuns did what they were supposed to do: they were godly and pure, and they were carrying out god’s will. He’s the boss, the rule-maker.

Sure. There are times when we should forgive: when reparations have been made or wrongs have been righted. There are times when we should let go: when nothing can be done and the anger is killing us. But there are also times when we should not forgive. Forget the blather that it’s not healthy. It’s constructive when used to hold others responsible for injustices.

Apparently, in the case of the convent at Roscrea–and in many cases every day, all over the world–you’re not held accountable unless you are one of the poor, unwed girls who were only doing what nature had programmed them to do: procreate. Otherwise, you get to pretend that you’re not really the judge and jury—you’re only god’s henchman.

If you have no personal sense of right and wrong and you’re only doing what you think someone else wants you to do so that you can gain personal favor, then what does that say about your character?

(Perhaps you have none?)

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90 responses to “God’s Henchmen

  1. Interesting thoughts, as always. I agree that without religion people are actually freed to do good out of their own desires, rather than b/c God said so. It’s silly to think that without religion we cannot have morals or values in life. Two women were going door-to-door in my community a few days ago trying to read the Bible to people. I told them I was an atheist & happier than I’ve ever been. They asked what happened to change my mind. I said “I just couldn’t believe that stuff anymore & I am happier without it.” I wish I’d had the clarity of mind to speak my feelings more eloquently but as usually happens to me, I just kind of blanked out. But I was proud of myself for telling the truth. And I’m pretty sure I threw them for a loop with my blatant honesty. Ha!

    • @rlcarterrn It’s actually pretty hard to come out because people take your (meaning, our) honesty about not believing as an ‘assault’ on their views. Many people do take offense that we don’t believe in their god, even though none is meant! So kudos to you!

  2. “If you have no personal sense of right and wrong and you’re only doing what you think someone else wants you to do so that you can gain personal favor, then what does that say about your character?”

    Ahh, and that’s the crux of Christianity, isn’t it?

    It reminds me, too, of a passage in The God Argument in which A.C. Grayling is talking about morality and he asks, “Is something good because it’s good all by itself, or is it good only because God deems it good? If the latter, then it would become bad if God changed his mind, or vice versa. If God decided that rape and murder were good, then they would be good, right? If something is good independent of God, then what do we need God for?” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist.

    Glad you survived the ice storm, Deb.

  3. “You can’t be a Christian rockstar mom like Mary if your loins have been infiltrated.”

    I love that!! But seriously, I completely agree. I would much rather be the person who does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, instead of the person who did the right thing because they were afraid not to. In the end, both people do the right thing, I suppose, but, as you said, there’s that issue of character.

  4. The Magdalen Laundry story all over again, with the victims being better “Christians” than the warders. Yes, thugs to the image of the Punishing Father. I always wondered why if their “God” was so all powerful, why didn’t he strike down the “fathers” of these illicit sin-bread children and the impregnators of the unfortunate girls?

    But he didn’t, thus only two choices exist: either “He” is an unjust tyrannical bastard of a deity or non-existent! Being of the mind that there ARE things I cannot be utterly certain of knowing? I posit the idea that it doesn’t matter which — I owe such a figure nothing but condemnation for inadequacy. And the thugs in hire to such? I own them all the ass-kicking law can deliver!

    I am a humanist, first and foremost, I owe my duty and love and sympathy to humans; any possible deity is on his/her own….specially since we are all SO very much on OUR own.

    • @syrbal-labrys Yes. Unjust! That was one thing I wondered, too. Why were the boys never punished along side the girls? I suppose the women have proof of their deeds, but until recently, the boys could just deny, deny, deny. I love what you wrote here: “I am a humanist, first and foremost, I owe my duty and love and sympathy to humans; any possible deity is on his/her own….specially since we are all SO very much on OUR own.”

  5. I am strongly of an opinion that even religious CAN be good human beings. There are plenty of examples that could force me to change my mind but…

    It is nothing short of amazing how God’s henchmen get free pass of pretty much everything. These nuns were just bad and evil human beings in the work of oppressive religion and horrifying deity, there is little point in sugar-coating it.

    We unbelievers have no excuses – we just have to be good for goodness’ sake.

    • @saab93f Were you surprised to see a story about religion-gone-wrong in a country OTHER than the US?!! ;)

      • Surprized…not really :)
        I am saddened that the people who pretty much destroyed lives of others get away because they did it for Beibi-Jeezus.

        I still believe that we humans are basically good and even though a person was religious, there is a good chance of ending up quite okay. The virus can only destroy a limited amount of what makes us human.

  6. Hi Deborah,

    I’ll add to the discussion. It appears to me that your post today has three parts. The first part is summed up very well by your sentence, “Who are we when times are difficult, when we have nothing personal to gain?” Excellent point. That’s when “doing good” really counts, where the rubber meets the road — when it’s difficult, when it costs us, when there’s real sacrifice involved, and indeed when there’s nothing personal to gain. And the third part is about Accountability. Those horrible evil people committed criminal offenses (enslavement, unjust gain, perjury, etc.) and should definitely be held accountable.

    The main portion of your post today is about Philomena, her son, and the convent in Roscrea in Ireland. Wow, what a sad, awful and terribly unjust situation. Horrific, and yes — evil. The thing I want to point out is that your post’s title (God’s Henchmen) is incorrect — the nuns in the film (and book) do NOT represent God. Jesus tells us to be discerning and prudent when evaluating a so-called messenger of God. His words: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” And Jesus’ conclusion is very compelling: “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord…’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you.”

    So, I think you and I are in agreement about the first and third part. And we are totally in agreement that the attitude and behavior of the Catholic nuns in Roscrea was horrible. In contrast, Jesus is patient and kind and forgiving and gracious and nurturing. And talking about doing good when times are difficult, when there is nothing personal to gain… Jesus utterly personifies that. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

    • Hi Steven, Thank you for your comment. I remember that part of the Bible. The thing is, those nuns believed that they were representing god, and there is a lot of power in that belief. (Just as there is a lot of power in any belief, correct or not.)

      I don’t know too much about the accuracy of Jesus’ story. Historians don’t even know the exact date of his birth and death. But I think we all would like to believe in someone who is “…patient and kind and forgiving and gracious and nurturing.” Better yet, we could all strive to be that way…

    • Steven, the problem with your premise, however, is that is Jesus even was a real person, he’s dead. He’s hypothetical, abstract – not an actual flesh and blood person walking on the earth among us impacting things. There are plenty of actual people, though, here among us, who do evil things and actually believe that they are doing God’s will. Saying that Jesus is good and kind and all that is very well and good, but it’s the actual live people we have to deal with.

    • Hi Steven,
      I applaud you for calling a spade a spade. However IMHO you fall a bit short – retorting to Not Real Scotsman ™ is disengenious. As Debs pointed out, the nuns most likely honestly believed to be working for Yahweh and Jesus. At least neither of those saw it fit to do anything to stop the horrendous deeds…

      • Disingenuous?? (Def: Not being candid; insincere or calculating). I think I was quite candid and sincere. Regarding the nuns “representing God” (NOT), please see my comment to Deosullivan3, below.

        • Steven,

          Once again, contradiction is not an argument. Saab93f and I have pointed out (and Deb has also concurred) that saying that these nuns (and suicide bombers) believe they are acting behalf of god.

          We’re not doubting your sincerity as much as we’re doubting your logic. If you were confused by saab93f’s allusion, you can read up on the logical fallacy that you’ve committed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman.

          So again, “objective”? What do you mean? How can you objectively sort the true xtians (muslims, buddhists, etc.) from the false ones? Are we to believe you only because you profess to be a true xtian vs. these false ones? Why should we believe you? Where is your proof? (And please don’t quote the bible. That’s not proof.)

          • I initiated this topic by saying that the nuns do not represent Jesus. (So, you are contradicting me, not visa versa). The determination of “representing Jesus” (or not) is based upon how well we follow the example of Jesus as reported in the New Testament. There is no need to “believe in” the New Testament in order to concur with this logic.

            I know that you have read the New Testament — do you think the nuns behavior represents Jesus of the New Testament? It’s really a very simple question, not complicated.

            • But Steven, it doesn’t matter what I say or you say in regard to the nuns’ reflection of Jesus in the New Testament. The point is that the nuns believe they indeed are (and suicide bombers believe they are following allah’s will), and they profess to be doing god’s work. That’s the point, not whether I agree with them.

              This is what religion does: it warps our sense of right and wrong, of morality, which has evolved in us as a species not because of religion, but in spite of it.

  7. Hi Lisa,

    A few days ago Deborah made an observation about one of my posts, noting that “by using the present tense (Jesus “is” gracious…), it implies that Jesus is alive, active and present.” Indeed. I’ll share very concisely what brought me to think this. I was not raised with any religion, in fact I was an atheist. At a certain point I began to perceive that there is more to this world than what we can see/touch/hear with our physical senses — that there’s some kind of underlying spiritual realm. And of course, that provoked a lot of personal questions, such as “Why am I here?”, “What is the causality behind all of this?”, and “What is my spiritual destiny, my future beyond this short earthly life?” I began a sincere search for “The Truth.” After many years of diligent pursuit and inquiry, several extraordinary things occurred which lead me to believe in Jesus. My very first prayer was, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” God promptly began answering that prayer. As I read the New Testament for the very first time, I found that the God who I was reading about was the very same God who was revealing himself in my life. It’s been 36 years, growing in a totally real experiential relationship with him. I can attest that Jesus is alive, active and present, just as he said: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” So, this is not hypothetical, I can personally vouch for the fact that Jesus is patient and kind and forgiving and gracious and nurturing.

    Steven

    • Wow, that happened to you? Well, gosh, I’m sold!

      In all seriousness, Steven, I could tell you a story of the opposite happening: of spending my whole life believing and coming to a point where I allowed the questions in that I had repressed for so long, and through a process of searching and inquiry, my belief fell away and I realized that there is no god, there is no afterlife – this one life is all we get and we are accountable to ourselves and to each other, period. And it was like a weight lifted, and I’ve feel liberated ever since.

      Yes, there is more to this world than we can see, touch, and hear with our physical senses. It’s called “imagination.”

      Just because some people hear voices in their heads does not mean that there are actually invisible beings existing among us.

      • Beautifully said, Lisa! I’ve never felt more free (or more happy) than I do right now. Knowing that there is no god and no afterlife — that this one life is all I have — makes me appreciate my day-to-day life and the people in it all that much more. “Liberating” indeed!

    • Hi Steven,

      I think the question, “Why am I here?” arises out of mankind’s ego and desire for self-actualization. We are one of billions, small insignificant creatures who are damn lucky to live during a time when humans have developed awareness, consciousness and a conscience. Instead of searching for answers to big questions that are currently not provable, it is my belief that we should just be celebrating until science provides greater understanding of how we got here. (Although, even now, it’s pretty clear how we got here.)

      We give our lives meaning, and if God and Jesus provide meaning for your life, then at least you’ve found something that is important to you.

  8. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your personal experience and your opinion, I appreciate it. And thanks for reading mine. As Deborah said a couple of days ago, “This is an opinion blog.”

    Take care,
    Steven

  9. It’s funny how some people get to say they speak or act for god and/or religion, and then who doesn’t get to say that.

    When people do good in the name of god, other religious people say, yeah, see, I told you religion is good at its base.

    When someone does something evil in the name of religion/god–suicide bombings or the work of the good sisters in your post, Deb–religious people run for cover and say things like, no, that person is not acting on behalf of god. Or, that person’s not a real xtian or muslim or whatever.

    But what’s the test? Both sides claim to believe in god and to do god’s will.

    Obviously, the test rests outside of religious belief since believing in religion clearly has no consistent impact on a person’s moral choices. And so therefore one does not need religion to act morally.

    More than this, though, religion perverts morality. In fact, because the good sisters and the suicide bombers of the world do what they do in the name of religion/god, it’s much more plausible to say that religion induces people to act immorally, much the way other ideologies–fascism, totalitarianism, racism, etc.–make people do unspeakable evil for the sake of the state, one’s race, etc.

    Humans have evolved a keen sense of morality that we continue to hone thanks to reason and experience. If we could get over our superstition, we could let that blossom and move forward.

    • @deosullivan Good points…

      Religion prevents people from developing an inner structure for morality–it keeps them at Kohlberg’s lowest stages of moral development.

    • deosullivan3, I have a different point of view. For example, I sympathize with the Muslims. After 9/11, there has been a tendency for people to judge Muslims, to lump together the militant extremists with the moderate believers. I feel that’s a mistake, a gross generalization. Based upon reading the Quran, we can objectively conclude that suicide bombers do not represent Islam or Mohammed. Thus Islam should not be judged based upon the evil behavior of non-believers.

      Similarly, we can objectively know that the nuns in the film do not represent Jesus, who is patient and kind and forgiving and gracious and nurturing. Those nuns were the polar opposite. My stating that they “do not represent Jesus” is based upon an objective standard — the words of Jesus as reported in the New Testament. Thus Christianity should not be judged based upon the evil behavior of people who are not actually followers of Jesus.

      Getting back to where I started, this is why I think that Deb’s title for this post (God’s Henchmen) is incorrect. Those nuns were on their own, acting in complete contradiction to Jesus.

      • Steven, I wonder exactly how you come to an “objective” understanding of these things?

      • Hi Steven, Many of us have a different point of view from mainstream America regarding Muslims. We don’t see one religion as any better, worse or different than another.

        I have the same question as deosullivan3. Not having known Jesus personally, and not being able to read anything objective *about* Jesus, how do you know you’re being objective or basing your conclusions on some sort of “objective standard”? I’m just wondering how you arrived at this conclusion, especially since I recently watched “Bible Secrets Revealed: The Real Jesus.” There are so many questions regarding the basic facts of Jesus’ life, such as when and where he was born.

        • Please keep in mind that I simply focused on this one topic, that the title for the post (God’s Henchmen) is incorrect. The title has the possessive pronoun, “God’s”, which conveys ownership and implies that he is responsible for their actions. I do NOT think that God is responsible for the awful, unjust and horrific behavior of those nuns. Those nuns were on their own, acting in complete contradiction to Jesus. Jesus is patient and kind and forgiving and gracious and nurturing. Thus I said that they “do not represent Jesus, based upon an objective standard — the words of Jesus as reported in the New Testament.” This is the point at which you and Deosullivan3 may have misunderstood my intention. I said, “as reported”, in order to identify the most common source of information about Jesus. I am cognizant that you don’t believe that the New Testament is God’s Word. Yet, you attribute the nun’s behavior to God. It’s reasonable (logical in this particular discussion) for us to look at the New Testament to determine if there’s any basis for that. I think it’s abundantly apparent that those nuns do not represent Jesus. His character personifies “doing good when times are difficult, when there is nothing personal to gain.” We are all in agreement that the nuns were the total opposite of that.

          • No, Steven, and again, it matters not if you or Deb or I say the nuns are doing or not doing the work of god. The point is this, and you keep running around it: The nuns themselves believe they are doing the work of god. The suicide bombers believe they are doing the work of god.

            Who gets to arbitrate here? Who decides what’s god’s will and what isn’t? The Pope? The mullahs? You?

      • Hi Steven,
        once again we are in strong disagreement. Moderates – whether muslims, hindus or xians – allow for extremists to exist. Moderates are reluctant to condemn the extremists because it would force them to condemn themselves as well.

        Cherry-picking works both ways. You claim that the Magdalen nuns did not work for Yahweh because what they did was wrong by any standards and contradicted the positive attributes related to Jesus. How about in relation to following words and deeds of Jesus?

        “For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law a man’s enemies will be the members of his own family.”
        “… the brother shall deliver up his brother to death, and the father his child, … children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.”

        The cities of Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum were not impressed with Jesus’ great works, so Jesus said “Woe to you” and cursed them to a fate more unbearable than that of Sodom.
        Jesus taught that any child who cursed his parents should be killed according to Old Testament law.

        • saab93f, regarding your question, “How about in relation to following words and deeds of Jesus?”, you have mixed up separate passages from the New Testament, each from different portions and with different contexts.

          “For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law a man’s enemies will be the members of his own family.” This portion is from Matthew 10:35. Jesus is speaking hyperbolically about how following him may bring division, even among families. Looking at this in the context of the entirely of what Jesus taught, it’s obvious that he’s not promoting divisiveness. The point is about our priorities, as he explains in the next verse: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

          You provided no gap nor explanation as you then quoted from Matthew 10:21: “… the brother shall deliver up his brother to death, and the father his child, … children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” This passage is from a completely different discussion of Jesus, with him talking about the end times — a time of extreme violence in the world. He is predicting these things, NOT advocating them.

          Thus your last sentence is utterly incorrect. “Jesus taught that any child who cursed his parents should be killed according to Old Testament law.” Jesus did not teach that. You have incorrectly attempted to correlate two entirely unrelated passages. They are not connected, the context and intent of each message is totally separate.

          Feel free to ask my any other questions you have about Jesus, anytime.

          • I have a question about Jesus, Steven.

            How do we decide when he was speaking hyperbolically and when should we take his words literally? Sorry, but I don’t find your interpretation “obvious” at all. Sounds and looks like more cherry picking to me.

            • The answer to your “How do we” question is to study the New Testament and learn all of the connected ideas and principles expressed in that very rich text. I’ve been doing this for 36 years. I’d be happy to help you with any specific questions you may have.

          • Did the character Jesus say that he did not come to overthrow (Mosaic) laws but to uphold every single one of them? Killing disobedient kids was part of the Mosaic laws…

            What I find honestly just obnoxious is the believers´ “logic” – one must read the Bible with an open mind (meaning with a predisposiition of it being true word of God) to understand it. Religion has also so many fail-switches or backdoors that it cannot be criticized at all – or that every piece of critique is deflected.

            What I just cannot comprehend is the portrayal of Yahweh as a benevolent, omniscient deity when one reads the OT. Isn´t the deity the same in both parts of the Bible? The one in OT is blood-thirsty, sadistic monster who for some reason could not help the israelites as their foes had iron carts…
            The one in NT is described as a loving father who as an omnipotent could not come up with a better plan to correct the mess He had allowed to happen than to have his son killed…

            • Actually he said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” The word “fulfill” means to accomplish their purpose, to satisfy them – to bring about in his own person. The New Testament also says these relevant things:

              “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” and “But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

              It’s best to first have a solid understanding of the New Testament, which really helps toward then understating the Hebrew Bible.

              • That is exactly the problem – to “understand” the Bible and Jesus on must possess a decoder ring and in order to get that ring, one must understand the Bible…

                We differ ideologically a lot. There is no way your Bible-quoting or claiming that you True Xians ™ are the only ones in the right instead of Hindus or us atheists could force me to stop thinking. Faith is just that – quitting thinking, IMHO :)

              • “It’s best to first have a solid understanding of the New Testament, which really helps toward then understating the Hebrew Bible.” What a bunch of hogwash. So you have to have a solid understanding of the part that was written later (and which is completely rejected by many religions) in order to understand the part that came first? Bah. One of the many problems with the bible is that it is SO open to interpretation. You may think that your understanding of it is the correct understanding, but I can guarantee you that there are millions of other people whose “understanding” of it is quite different from yours, and they believe their understanding is the correct understanding just as strongly as you believe yours is. If the bible were so easy to understand and accept, why has it spawned so many interpretations, religions, and sects over the ages? It’s completely nonsensical and ambiguous, and to say otherwise is delusional.

                And it doesn’t matter that you don’t believe those nuns were acting as agents of Jesus/God. They sure as hell believed they were, based on their church’s particular interpretations of the bible and god’s intended meanings in the bible.

                • Hi Lisa,

                  One of the things which is quite common here is the tangents upon tangents which tend to follow an on-topic comment about Deborah’s post. No prob, but it’s just interesting how frequently that happens here. In this case, about five steps removed from the main topic, I replied to saab93f, sharing a very (very) small suggestion following his “I just cannot comprehend” statement. My comment was clearly just a suggestion, not a requirement. If he wants to read from Genesis to Revelation, that’s fine, go for it. But I didn’t grasp that he was seeking an in-depth commentary, so I simply shared a “personal recommendation” with him — based upon reading the entire Bible numerous times, front to back and back to front.

                  This said, the Hebrew Bible is very rich due to the complexity — it’s very interesting and worthy of exploration. There was clearly a progressive revelation by God to the Jews, starting with Abraham, then further with Moses, even more with King David and Solomon, and lots more via the Prophets. There are many archetypal images and prophetic messages in the Hebrew Bible, focused upon their Messiah — revealed in the person of Jesus. As with any book, reading the final chapters first has some advantages! But reading the Bible from front to back is equally valuable.

                  Jesus said, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Also in the New Testament is this wonderful promise: “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” It’s actually quite amazing, Jesus offers us direct access if we want it. The starting point is: Seek him.

                  Take care,
                  Steven

                  • Steven,

                    As one who spent some 40 years seeking Jesus, I can personally attest that there is no reward in such a quest. Seeking Jesus only works if one’s mind is amenable to the concept of faith. And I’ve come to question why FAITH is so important to “God.”

                    I did seek Him. For my entire life. I was raised in a conservative, evangelical home. I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was in Jr. High School. I was baptized. I was very active in my church. I prayed and sang and studied and memorized. I sought God with all my heart. If ever there was a “seeker,” it was me.

                    But He never actually responded. He never revealed himself. He never showed himself to be anything other than a wish. A hope. An elusive longing. And in the end, I realized I was seeking a pipe dream. It was all about FAITH. And faith just didn’t add up.

                    I DID SEEK HIM. With ALL my heart. I memorized scripture; I worshipped; I prayed; I meditated; I sang; I incorporated the Word into my lexicon– my life. I prayed the Psalms and sang them, genuinely believing that HE was RIGHT INSIDE ME.

                    Yet, He was not to be found.

                    I “thought” He was there. I lived like He was there. I was fooling everyone– most importantly myself. (And as the main theme of Deborah’s post, here, would suggest, there are many, many people the world over who HONESTLY BELIEVE they are within God’s will– when in fact, there is no real way to actually tell, since, like, “God” doesn’t truly communicate with us. [How could He? ...since He only exists in the minds of His followers?])

                    Then, one day, I “woke up.” I realized that everything I was seeking was make-believe. I had been fooling myself.

                    Yes, I had been sincere; I had HONESTLY been seeking Jesus. But at a specific point in time I realized that my “faith” was in something that existed only in my mind.

                    It was as if I had been holding a solid block of salt in my hands; and then, in a moment of time, the salt block began to fall apart, dissolving through my hands. It quickly sifted through my fingers, falling at my feet. In moments, the block of salt was a mere heap on the floor. And no matter how hard I could try, there was no way I could take the heap and re-form it into a solid block. The faith was gone.

                    In my experience, seeking Jesus is only worthwhile if you can, yourself, hold that block of salt together.

                    • I love your methaphor, Matt – very eloquent and apropos.

                      Steven, you can keep quoting the bible and using what the bible says as the foundation for all of your arguments, but the bottom line is that it doesn’t hold water to those of us who believe that the bible is nothing more than an ancient text borne of folklore and superstition. If it works for you, great, but it’s just not convincing to everyone, and it’s used and misused by so many people the world over to justify evildoing.

                    • Matt–As Lisa mentioned, great metaphor.

                      Steven–I admire your tenacity and your loyalty to your beliefs. I’m sure it must be frustrating for you to talk with so many who do not believe the same. You clearly know your Bible.

                      I understand your original comment, that the nuns were not acting like Jesus. But I’m sure you understand the point that they thought they were, just as you believe you are acting as god would want you to.

                      I am also interested in the epistemology of your claims. Some historians think that Jesus was also very knowledgeable of the OT, using it as his guidebook so that he knew what a Messiah would be expected to do. One small change in history and John the Baptist could have been the Messiah instead. I’m sure you also know that in a court of law, the Bible would not hold up to scrutiny as a factual document. Even the NT was started decades, perhaps even as late as two hundred years, after the death of Jesus. Then, as we’ve already addressed before, there were translation and interpretation errors and stories that were lost. Many of the English words in our modern bibles were not around during the times of original translations, and, oftentimes, words have changed their meaning. In conclusion, since you were not alive during the time of Christ’s life to judge the veracity of the stories told about him, since there are no other books to offer other perspectives (except perhaps the Qur’an), how do you know that your beliefs have any basis in truth?

                    • Hi Deb,

                      I too am not blind to the situation in which Steven finds himself in, but I keep the following in mind:

                      (1) He came to this site of his own free will. No one forced him to do so, so what he gets, he deserves.

                      (2) For all his talk of “tangents upon tangents” that grow out of discussions on this blog, he is responsible for more than his fair share of diversion from the main topic. This is, in fact, my principle frustration with him. In a previous thread, you and I repeated over and over our desire that he cut to the quick and address the “meatier” matters under discussion. He even promised to do so but has apparently reneged on that promise. When the topic of the “No True Scotsman” logical fallacy arose, he did the same: he ignored rather than respond to the objection.

                      (3) Citing the bible is very different from understanding it. Like many xtians, he wishes to explain away the inconvenient passages by claiming that we take things out of context. Well, you can always widen the context, but that doesn’t mean that one’s understanding is fundamentally wrong. Moreover, when he can’t explain something through context, he will claim that Jesus was speaking hyperbolically, but when pressed on how to discern which biblical passages should be read hyperbolically (or figuratively as in metaphorically) the answer never comes. I have the answer: when a xtian doesn’t like what the bible says literally, it’s time to read it figuratively.

                      So yes, Steven is in a tough place, but he has only himself to blame.

                    • Hi deo, These things are all true. However, I’m just thinking of where he is right now as a believer. You know, one has to go through some sort of change or shift in perception in order to relate to some of the things you are saying….When people want to hold tight to their belief, they cannot examine it too closely.

                    • Hi Deb,

                      I understand, and I agree for the most part. But I also feel that after 36 years of belief–as he is so quick to tell us–he shows no sign of openness on his part to the big questions. He hones in quickly on smaller questions where he can score “points” and ask people to retract their previous statements rather than advance a true mutual understanding among community members.

                      But hey, it’s all good. I’m willing to keep discussing, but I’m never going to stop asking questions.or back off my position unless I am presented logical, demonstrable evidence to the contrary.

                      Thanks again for hosting this forum.

                    • Nor should you, deo. I very much enjoy reading your responses.

                    • Hi Deb,

                      Wow, I was away for a day and came back to lots of questions for me. I appreciate your interest.

                      Frustrating? Nope. I’m happy to express my thoughts and share about my experiences, no matter what the response. And I am aware that there is quite a range of viewpoints among the members of this blog.

                      You asked, “I am also interested in the epistemology of your claims.” Like…the basis for my belief in Jesus? As I shared with Lisa on Dec. 9th, I was an atheist and not the slightest bit interested in Jesus. Without any initiative on my part, I started to perceive that there is a spiritual reality. So, the question at that point was, “What is the causality behind all of this?” The search began. After some extraordinary experiences and encounters, I became utterly convinced that Jesus is the truth. As I read the New Testament for the very first time, I found that the God who I was reading about was the very same God who was revealing himself in my life. Among many many things learned since then, I feel that the most important thing I’ve learned about God is that he wants us to have a real and experiential relationship with him. He’s given us the option to choose, he does not force himself upon us. My experience with him is that he’s extremely sweet, gracious and patient. To echo a passage from the New Testament, I love him because he first loved me. To emphasize, Jesus offers us direct access, a totally real experiential daily connection with him. This is exactly what happens for anyone who is “born again.” Jesus said that we must be born again, experience a spiritual birth. This is not a small thing, this experience is life changing and real.

                      This is not “religion”, not what so many here have had shoved down your throats by parents, parochial teachers, etc. I truly understand your departure from those “religious” institutions. That stuff is very fear based, primarily the fear of “Am I doing enough?”, “Am I working hard enough to be worthy?” Honestly, it’s exhausting just thinking about so many man-made rules, all of the shoulds and shouldn’ts, dos and don’ts. I totally understand why you departed that — the burden of trying to “be religious” is enormous, and not very rewarding.

                      I can attest that Jesus is alive, active and present. I can attest that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. You wrote, “You know, one has to go through some sort of change or shift in perception in order to relate to some of the things you are saying.” Exactly! Please open your heart and your mind to having a shift in perception. Take a fresh look at the book of John and see what you think.

                    • Hi Steven,

                      I do not understand what you mean or how you came to perceive a “spiritual reality” as you mention here: “Without any initiative on my part, I started to perceive that there is a spiritual reality.”

                      Naming something is neither explaining nor giving it reality. What is true for you (“I was visited by my dead mother.”) is not true or truth for anyone else. How does your specific experience appeal to a greater truth?

                      I realize that religion is independent of belief in god. Religion is a product, but both god and religion, IMO, are manmade.

                      I have read the Gospel of John more than once, but I am no more inclined to believe the stories as true than I am a book about another fairy tale. Sure, there may be true elements, but I believe that the Bible, especially the NT, was propaganda. If you fit the NT into the history of religion–or even mankind’s history, if you step back and look at the larger picture, you can see that religion (and belief in god(s)) is a living, changing organism. It feeds on people and their weaknesses.

                      Believing in god is not bad unless it makes you do bad things to others or yourself. It is no different in believing in the Lochness monster, ghosts, angels or fate. It is not my goal to talk you out of your belief, but understand that you will not find any potential converts here. We’ve been where you are and reasoned ourselves out of our belief.

                    • Hi Deo,

                      I wasn’t complaining about the “tangents upon tangents” that grow out of discussions on this blog, just sharing an observation.

                      Regarding your comment, “In a previous thread, you and I repeated over and over our desire that he cut to the quick and address the “meatier” matters under discussion. He even promised to do so but has apparently reneged on that promise. ” Actually, my very direct reply to Patti on Dec. 5th (regarding the heart of her topic, answering her specific query) was the fulfillment of my promise to address the meatier matter. I added to that in a follow-up comment to Deb on Dec. 6th, to which she said, “I agree. Well-stated.”

                      And regarding your comment, “he wishes to explain away the inconvenient passages by claiming that we take things out of context.” No, I provided a reasonable and objective explanation of the passages which saab93f quoted. It was not inconvenient. Those passages are truly about different topics, so I simply cleared that up.

                    • I’m starting to feel like I’m in a Jean-Paul Sartre play…

                      Steven, I have asked you repeatedly now to address the question of “objectivity” in understanding the bible, but instead of explaining, you just keep using the word over and over again. The question goes to the very heart of the discussion: how do believers discern the will of god and how can we distinguish them from the charlatans. You’re making assumptions, and until you clear them up, we cannot simply take your interpretations as valid.

                      The same goes for your interpretation of one of the passages you “cleared up” for saab93f. Hyperbolic? Says who? By what standard? I posit that it’s the “inconvenience” standard: “Such-and-such a passage is inconvenient for showing others that we (xtians, muslims, buddhists, etc.) are good, moral people, so instead of owning up to the fact that our god sometimes comes off like a real jerk. we’ll say the passage is meant to be taken metaphorically/figuratively/hyperbolically/whatever-ally.” If you can offer a logical and clear way to judge certain passages as hyperbolic and others as to be taken literally, I’d like to hear it.

                      I suggest simply finishing the following sentence, “When I, Steven, use the word “objectively” in interpreting the word of god, I mean ….”

                    • @deosullivan3 That’s funny. I was thinking of Harold Pinter…

                    • Hi Deb,

                      In reply…
                      “How does your specific experience appeal to a greater truth?”
                      For all these years my personal experience with Jesus has been totally consistent with what he says in the New Testament. My relationship with him is totally consistent with his character as revealed in the New Testament. He says he’s faithful. He says he will be with us until the end of the age. He says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” I have personally experienced that all of his promises are true, experiential and real.

                      “We’ve been where you are and reasoned ourselves out of our belief.”
                      Deb, just the opposite is the case. I have been where you are now, an atheist. You’ve shared here that you were raised Catholic and complied with the “rules” until you broke free from that tyranny. What Jesus offers is completely different, a totally real experiential daily relationship with him. This is exactly what happens for anyone who is “born again.”

                    • But Steven, what do you say to Matt who says he spent 40 years as a faithful Christian, diligently seeking Jesus, only to realize that Jesus was never there? How do you rationalize that? How would you respond to my good friend who spent her entire life as a faithful, devout Christian, who believed that Jesus would be there to offer her strength, comfort, and solace in her darkest hours, only to find Jesus utterly absent when her two-year old son drowned? Would you say that they just didn’t try enough? That they didn’t look hard enough? That they didn’t pray the right way? That they did it WRONG? Or would you just say that God works in mysterious ways that are not for us mere mortals to understand?

                      You spout off a lot of nice-sounding stuff, but in the end, your words have no substance, and no meaning to anyone but you.

                    • Hi Steven,

                      I think Lisa did a good job of showing that, for many of us, belief in god brings out narcissism. (God loves me; I am special; god has a plan for me.)

                      As deosullivan3 has pointed out, you’ve been avoiding the questions we ask. I get that YOU THINK (as the nuns thought) that your experience with Jesus is in line with the NT. Jesus shows YOU he’s faithful, and these are the ways in which he might show you (for example):

                      1. You are ill and you pray to Jesus to heal you. You are healed. YOU attribute this to god. I (and others) attribute this to medicine and/or the amazing abilities of your immune system.

                      2. You purchase something you cannot afford, and you worry that you won’t be able to pay for it. You pray to Jesus and the next day you find out that a wealthy aunt has left you $10,000. YOU can say it is Jesus answering your prayers. (Is it even realistic to think that one entity can answer prayers for so many Christians?) I believe it was serendipity. Or perhaps it was the Devil. Human ascribe meaning (after all, we are meaning-seeking creatures) to events. IT DOES NOT MAKE IT REAL OR TRUE. It may SEEM real to you, but believing does not make something true.

                      None of these are proof of a supreme being. They are only examples of faith, belief, guesses.

                      What OBJECTIVE way (deo has been asking this, too) does god show he exists? What objective way do you judge the veracity of the bible? Think of what would hold up in a court of law. Your personal experience is simply a fantasy to the rest of us at this point.

                      Catholics are actually one of the most open-minded of the bunch. It was not the “rules” that made me lose faith. I never suggested this. As deo said, you are cherry-picking what you want out of what we say. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN THIS GOD MAN HAS CREATED, not because of any rules, but because there is absolutely NO evidence that one exists. None. Zero.

                      If you can prove god exists in an objective way, I’m willing to bet that all of us will jump on the god train with you.

                    • Hi Matt,

                      Thanks for reaching out, sharing your experience so far. First and foremost, I can really feel with you the frustration you described. Though my personal experience is totally the opposite, I can relate to your frustration in other ways. Ugh. Well, I’ll just share a couple of sincere thoughts about what you wrote.

                      “I did seek Him….If ever there was a “seeker,” it was me.”
                      I take your word for it.

                      “Yet, He was not to be found. I “thought” He was there. I lived like He was there. I was fooling everyone– most importantly myself.”
                      So, what I understand you to be saying is that you sought to have a relationship with God, you went through the motions (what you thought believers are supposed to do), yet you never found God, never had a real personal relationship with Jesus. Truly, it’s good to be honest with yourself, and with others too. (And it’s good to be totally candid and honest with God too, telling him exactly what you think).

                      As you’ve read here, at one point I was looking for “truth”, though I was not looking for Jesus. In fact, I was looking just about everywhere else beside Jesus. At that point, God intervened and utterly rocked the apple cart, totally got my attention. My very first prayer was, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” God promptly began answering that prayer. I can assure you, this long continuous relationship is real, not make-believe. And this experience is not unique to me, this is what being born again is all about.

                      Take care,
                      Steven

                    • Hi Lisa,

                      Thanks for your note today. My heart breaks hearing about your friend, her loss is huge. My own son nearly died the day he was born. I was told by his doctor that he wouldn’t make it through the night. I was crushed, grief stricken, burst into tears more than once that night. My son made it through the night and got past that, but I’ve never forgotten how tenuous life is. Both of my parents died recently, so I’ve been reminded of this. Hearing a bit about your friend, my sincere inclination is simply to listen, to seek to understand what she felt, to empathize the very best that I can. If you wish to share, do you know why she felt that Jesus was “utterly absent”? Feeling such grief after the loss of her son, I’m sure she doesn’t feel much anything else right now. How long has it been?

                      About your last sentence… Yes, I have responded to questions here about my personal experience with Jesus. My relationship with him is not unique. This has meaning to people everywhere.

                      Take care,
                      Steven

                    • You really haven’t answered any questions, Steven. You just keep sharing your personal experiences, as though that is explanation enough, as though that is answer enough to the questions that are being asked of you.

                      As for my friend, she lost her son eleven or twelve years ago. And you know what? She still goes to church, she still tries to believe. But I know she struggles very much with that belief because there are too many questions that should have answers, that don’t – including the utter absence of god or Jesus she felt in the wake of her son’s death, and still feels today.

                      So, again, has she just not tried hard enough? Has she just done the whole belief thing, the whole faith thing, wrong?

                      It’s really okay, Steven, to just say, “I don’t know. I don’t have the answer.”

                    • Hi Lisa,

                      I feel that I gave you the most sensitive, caring, thoughtful answer possible. I don’t “shoot from the hip” nor do I give pat answers. You and your friend are worthy of much more than that. I’m not someone who is unfamiliar to loss or hardship. And you must grasp, it’s very hard to talk about someone I don’t know, who I’ve only heard about second hand. This said, I’ll try to address your question. Seeking God is always the right thing to do. Yes, waiting upon God is sometimes part of the process. In my own personal experience, I have found that these words of Jesus are true: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” So, reading the words of Jesus is a way to connect with him and gain peace of mind.

                      Take care,
                      Steven

    • “When someone does something evil in the name of religion/god–suicide bombings or the work of the good sisters in your post, Deb–religious people run for cover and say things like, no, that person is not acting on behalf of god. Or, that person’s not a real xtian or muslim or whatever….

      “Obviously, the test rests outside of religious belief since believing in religion clearly has no consistent impact on a person’s moral choices. And so therefore one does not need religion to act morally.”

      SO well said, deosullivan3! That hits the nail on the head.

  10. Ireland was a theocracy in all but name until twenty years ago, when the nation began to try to get out from under the Catholic Bishops’ thumbs. Until 1996, divorce was illegal. Until 1993, contraception without a prescription was banned. Censorship laws, which once banned mention of contraception, still ban promotion of abortion services. The Church has pushed back against other reforms. The Church still operates 90% of the schools , bot public and private, in Ireland, allowing them to freely indoctrinate even non-Catholic children.The Church’s access to the schools allowed priest to sexually abuse children thousands of Irish children with impunity. The Catholic Church also runs most of the hospitals in Ireland. Church policies frequently run foul of patient autonomy when it comes to end of life care and women’s reproductive health. Abortion is illegal and despite provisions to save the life of the mother, physicians prefer to let women die rather than risk being arrested for terminating a life-threatening pregnancy. Blasphemy is a crime in Ireland, carrying fines of up to 25,000 euro for saying or printing things, “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion” with the intent of causing outrage to a substantial number of members of a religion.

    Americans who seek to turn the U.S. into a Christian theocracy need look no further than Ireland to see how a Christian theocracy operates.

    • @Patti OSullivan Just wow. I had no idea Ireland was still in the Middle Ages. The citizens do not have much freedom…

      • I think I’m replying in the wrong spot, but I couldn’t find a “REPLY” link where I wanted to post, so here goes:

        @Deborah Mitchell said: “When people want to hold tight to their belief, they cannot examine it too closely.”

        Wow! That is profound. You have to open your hand to examine its contents. Of course, when you do so, you’re not gripping as tightly, and you run the risk of letting go, or dropping whatever it is in your grasp. That’s one of the best metaphors, IMHO, for how believers are reticent to honest, objective examination of their faith.

        I remember when I was a believer (and I have a few years on Steven’s 36) if you really, honestly opened your hand (to examine the contents), you were demonstrating a lack of faith. And lack of faith is pretty-much the unpardonable sin, since you can’t get into Heaven without it. Definitely speaks to my thoughts on The Paradigm of Faith: http://extrafidem.org/the-paradigm-of-faith/

    • Two things that struck me when I lived there were:

      a) the majority of the Irish people I interacted with referred to black people as “colored”. Really? People use the term colored in 2013??

      b) the OUTRAGE over people who wanted to remove nativity scenes from public buildings. Again, not something that should be an issue in 2013.

      • @Molly

        I heard a few people use the term “colored” while I lived in England in 2002. Having been born around Detroit and currently living north of Memphis, I know that if you say that where I’m from you’ll go back home in a box. I talked to a white married couple who I stayed with for a bit of my time in England about the use of this word. The husband came from money and didn’t see what the issue was. The wife had a poor upbringing in Bradford and said that she found it horribly offensive.

        @Debbie

        Before I forget, congratulations on your new book! I’m so looking forward to reading it! :)

  11. What an interesting and tragic story. I lived in Ireland for a time but never heard of this place or their actions. That poor woman. I could not imagine.

    Funny how the father of the baby apparently didn’t have to pay a penance for his “crime”… it was apparently only the mother who messed up….

  12. Hi Molly! Hope you are doing well….From what you and Patti have said, as nonbelievers in the US, we have it much better. The US is a lot more fair to everyone, even though there are cases of injustices.

    Yes…wonder why the church didn’t put pressure on the boys/men who helped create the babies.

    • They couldn’t help it! Such victims to their lust! (Sarcasm). I agree things are more “fair” in the U.S. but we still have room to grow there.

      I am still avidly following the blog! Just getting busy with the holidays! :-)

  13. I just read the Wikipedia page. The movie sounds heartbreaking; I don’t think I could watch it. Being raised Catholic, but no longer practicing, this story infuriates me. It reminds me of why I can’t stand religion. People think they can force other people to do things in the name of Religion. It is completely atrocious what happened to these women and babies. And the “adoptive” families should be ashamed of themselves. If you are having to “buy” a baby, something is not right. It is downright disgusting and reiterates to me that I am doing the right thing by raising my boys without religion. There is absolutely no excuse for the way these nuns behaved.

    • @Dallasgrl There were famous people and actresses who bought the babies. I guess they didn’t want to wait through the adoption process. Then again, I’m sure the nuns made a case for “doing the right thing” and helping out these poor innocent babies–they probably wanted to make sure they were placed with other Catholics. What was also sad was that Philomena justified the nuns behavior and really believed she deserved all that….

  14. Hey all,
    So I read an article like this and ask myself “how does this apply to my experience in life; what situations around me seem great and then were found to be wrong; how did I continue the wrong process by not acknowledging and not speaking up about it; when i find acts like this to be/exist what do I do to change it; is there anything I can do; is an event like this even possible.” There are so many questions. There are so many discovered situations just like the magdalan/catholic laundries and adoptions I can’t even begin. What is right and what is wrong is simple. A reasonable and proven answer IS simple. An unproven and unreasonable answer is complicated. Religions and their answers aren’t proven and therefore very complicated when attempting to answer really ANY question. This reminds me of one Thomas Paine quote about something not being a true religion if it shocks the mind of a child. I remember going through the mormon temple for the first time and oh my the things i committed to and mimicked were ridiculous and shocking. It would have been nice to be then what and where I am now to adequately respond then. Fearful, ignorant and arrogant humans create a tremendous amount of unhealthy unsubstantiated shit. There ain’t no bull or horse or cat or dog shit here. It’s 100% humanshit (i.e. godshit) with REALLY bad home made frosting on top.

    PS. I love the snowflakes falling! At first I thought it was a “sign” about how right on I am . . . and then I realized there must be a logical explanation ; )
    always with love Dayna

  15. Can religions do good? I think they can. Do they do good? That is a loaded question, and the answer tends to be “not often.” Most religions are all about controlling people: controlling how the masses act and think. Religions routinely have a hierarchy where some people get to call the shots and everyone else has to follow. The people at the top tend to enjoy their power and do just about anything to retain it and pass it along to friends. Religions use guilt and shame (and threats of death in one form or another) to control their masses because religions basically distrust the majority of the human race. What good religions do tends to be wrapped up in the control mechanisms: do and think what we say and we will help you.

    Now, having said all that, I do not confuse religions with people. On the personal level, I think most people tend to be good at heart or at least try to be. There are times when people are at odds on how to behave because their conscience tells them one thing and the community tells them another. This is conundrum that causes the minds of the religious to shut down. They will act badly because their religion tells them to. Don’t believe it: then just ask American slaves in the 19th century or the indigenous people of the Americas for all their history with European christians. People will do extraordinarily bad things simply to appease the powers that be. Most often the powers that be are using some form of fear to coerce the mass (e.g. shunning, excommunication, loss of the hereafter, or outright death).

    On the whole religions tend to be nasty, vindictive organizations hell-bent on getting and maintaining power over as many people as they can. Simply look at history to see the proof. What good religions do tends to be mitigated by public and private agendas. What good they can do regularly comes at a high cost to the person or people on the receiving end. Is the conditional good religions do worth the cultural and personal toll? Probably not. What does god do about this? Absolutely nothing. If god is powerless to make her/his/its followers act in a truly “good” manner, then what sort of god is that? Thus, I think a good chunk of human history proves there isn’t a good and that religions are just one giant suckfest.

    • Oops, the last line should read:

      “Thus, I think a good chunk of human history proves there isn’t a god and that religions are just one giant suckfest.”

      (“god” and not “good)

      • @Derrick

        “Suckfest” made me think of this –

        http://theoatmeal.com/comics/religion

        xD

        • I’ve been a huge fan of Matt Inmann (the oatmeal) for a very long time. The man oozes common sense.

          • He was instrumental in letting me know just how cool Tesla was, that’s fer sure.

            • Nikolov Tesla, one of the most unknown greatest inventors! Unless, you’re talking about his namesake Tesla motors (would love to have one of those!).

                • @LT Good comic. From what I’ve read of Tesla, others took advantage of him, but he was not interested in fortune or fame anyway.

                  “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn says that history ignores the role of previous inventors, discoverers and paradigms. History presents an invention as one finite event. But any discovery is always a collective effort, built on the knowledge of those who have come before us….So even Tesla did not work alone.

                  • James Burke’s PBS series “Connections” opened my eyes as to how our history is not quite so linear as presented in the history texts. Check it out if you haven’t seen it (full series on YouTube IIRC). I’ll pull up his quote from the final episode that I love.

              • I read an excellent biography about Nicola Tesla about 15 years ago. The man was undoubtedly a genius of staggering proportions, but it was his faults that made him very human and very understandable as a person. It balances out the fact this man knew and understood things regarding physics of electricity that are still surprising us today.

                Oh, and helping save Wardenclyffe at Inmann’s urging was a lot of fun.

  16. @ LanceThruster – Those are so funny, especially the one about Nickleback. The one about the “crazy Scientologists” hit home. Although I was not a practicing Catholic after getting out of my dad’s house, I never really questioned it until reading “Under the Banner of Heaven” about the FLDS. When I read how the Mormon religion started, I thought, “They’re crazy.” Then I immediately thought Christianity was just as crazy was the LDS and I began the transformation to being a non-believer.

  17. @Debbie,

    This post breaks my heart. I was very involved in the pro-life movement, I was even an executive director at a Christian pregnancy center at one time. I never pushed girls into putting up their babies for adoption. Adoption is not always the best option. My husband and one of my brothers in law were adopted and boy, do those families have issues! I am certainly not against adoption, but I’m not about to bully someone into putting her baby up for adoption. (There’s a “Call the Midwife” episode about this and it’s hard for me to watch.) I believe many people, especially Americans, have a romantic idea of what fostering or adopting a child is like. My in-laws took in my husband because they’re religious do gooders with money. They adopted him while he was 11, locked him out of the house until about bed time for a whole school year when he was 12, then they sent him off to military school at about 13 for his entire time in high school. They lived in central Florida and shipped him off to north Georgia at that time. My parents went through the adoption process for years because my dad wanted boys so bad. I’ll write about that scenario one day, if I ever find the courage to, it’s quite heartbreaking. Wouldn’t you know it, my parents have always been extremely pro-life! Ironic, isn’t it?

    I still have a bit of a hard time supporting abortion, but I don’t always support adoption. I know that we don’t live in a perfect society and as a result, abortion is needed at times. I just strongly believe that we MUST educate men and women on biology, reproduction and all the birth control options that are out there. We need to thoroughly educate everyone about AIDS and STDs and encourage one another to respect ourselves and each other. We should also strive to hold every rapist and pedophile responsible for their actions and fully educate children, teenagers and adults, equipping them with knowledge to protect themselves. The Church (Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Protestants) are often guilty of raping children and adults. Between these crimes and self righteous attitudes (such as slut shaming), I believe it is the pro-life movement that is pushing women into abortion, NOT pro-choicers.

    @Steven, you can say that these horrible religious types don’t represent Jesus all you want. I was a Christian for at least 36 years myself and I can tell you that the “Son of God” was NO saint! He came with a sword to divide and lo and behold, look how divided we all are throughout the world! He was not gentle and he even says he’s not a peace maker. The Bible is ineffective because its authors continually change according to the influence of leadership in Christiandom, as well as governments throughout the ages. Jesus did say he came to fulfill the law, not condemn it. The law is cold, hard and hateful. How can he get pissy with the Pharisees who were simply doing what their kind had been taught to do for a few thousand years by way of the Torah? The Bible is just as misogynistic, if not more so, as the Talmud and the Koran. World rulers use religion to start wars because they know how effective it is in dividing us from each other. So many people wear their religion (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, precious books and doctrines) on their sleeves, it’s easy to gather them up to fight against the “enemy”.

  18. Mankind censure injustice fearing that they may be the
    victims of it, and not because they shrink from committing it.

    ~ Plato (427 BC – 347 BC)

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