Monday, May 25, 2009

Patronage rant continued:

The church is also an hierarchy of patronage. Jesus, in this case, is a mechanism to allow or restrict access to membership. Since it all takes place in ones head, belief is a key feature. If you really believe in eternal security, you'll get the security part as long as you believe, if you stop believing, naturally, you forfeit any accrued benefits (& you burn forever in screaming agony too while every one else is having a good time. The guarantee on the eternal part is simply not provable). However it requires constant acknowledgment of patronage (prayer, confession, church attendance, tithing, etc). "Forgiveness" insures there are no hard feelings while at the same time makes it easy to re-establish any diversion of loyalty to the patron. Presumably for the benefit of the plebeian, but also for the church (though that's never spoken aloud).

Before Constantine, a lot of this stuff was pretty common among a bunch of competing religions, but Constantine decided to consolidate them all into just one, so he took the one w/ the most potential for intimidation (turning the other cheek, non violence, etc.) and stuffed it full of popular stuff from the competitors, like christmas, easter, virgin birth, Souls, redemption, resurrection, angels and devils, wise men following a star, & so on. The guy was really a genius (well actually, he had some other people do it for him). Another (un-origional) contribution to religious orthodoxy was to make Jesus the Lord of Lords. See, in a feudal society, a lord is an untouchable guy like Bush or Cheney w/ money & power, he owns you, & he can declare war with out asking. Under the Lord of Lords system though, the common man can directly petition the Lord of Lords through prayer and get redress in heaven without upsetting the balance of wealth. Constantine himself wasn't bound by any religious crap though, he had his wife and son executed for treason.

Another example of compelled patronage was used by Emperor Caligula, who threw parties where his political enemies were crucified around the banquet, for the guests to admire. I imagine it really inspired loyalty, or at least discouraged competition, & makes me wonder about Bush's "for us or against us" policy. This could explain why it seems so hard for the US to get out of the torture business: according to the rules of Patronage, we'd loose cred. I couldn't say if that's true or false, I mean if someone thinks you're an insect anyway, they'll change the rules without asking.

‘We did not know that child abuse was a crime,’ says retired Catholic archbishop
Atheist News (
Another faith scam

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

History reveals that there is very little correlation between religion and morality and some may even argue that the converse is true. (

Today's Rant:
A young mans brush with power, or A plausibly universal tale of sodomy and unrequited love:

Joe's dad worked his way up from a bank teller to a loan specialist, it took 35 years. There was however, a glass ceiling to further advancement. Above a certain level, the aspiring professional of this bank was required to join the Mob (Gosh! Which bank is that?). Those of you who saw the movie "The Godfather" may remember the scene where a guy comes in to ask a favor and is required to kiss Marlon Brandos hand in recognition of patronage. Well the '60's version was to dedicate a son to the "family" and, as young Joe learned on an executive hunting trip with mob honchos: the novice is supposed to provide ass to the Don. Joe was repulsed by the proposition and declined, so his dad got transferred to the boonies and bumped to a mid level manager, & Joe grew up to be a homeless scavenger and like most homeless people, worthy of any slur (regardless of fact) because nobody had his back.

A somewhat similar culture in Japan had this to say from the Book of the Samurai: "A man is a good retainer to the extent that he earnestly places importance in his master. This is the highest sort of retainer. If one is born into a prominent family that goes back for generations, it is sufficient to deeply consider the matter of obligation to one's ancestors, to lay down one's body and mind, and to earnestly esteem one's master. It is further good fortune if, more than this, one has wisdom and talent and can use them appropriately. But even a person who is good for nothing and exceedingly clumsy will be a reliable retainer if only he has the determination to think earnestly of his master. Having only wisdom and talent is the lowest tier of usefulness."

Now at the risk of getting sued by the Committee for the Prevention of Defamation of the Mob, I'd like to postulate the following from Joe's albeit limited experience: (and It's not really their fault see, they're just victims of society like us. My heart goes out to you guys, really). I propose the underlying problem is that they're Italian & Catholic. That inseparable combination has a deep tradition of patronage going back through Rome and the Etruscans to be lost in the mists of prehistory. Other cultures have or have had similar traditions but this one has survived the ravages of the centuries with pretty much a working edge. This particular tradition codifies Ass as a form of social commitment. Compare, if you will, the Irish (Joe's people). The peaceful Greens have their smirking pedophile priests to pat their pubescent butts, while the bloodthirsty Orangemen have none and are forced to demonstrate their social discontent through endless strife and upheaval.

The late drift w/ democracy & all (since The Enlightenment) has been to idealize independence, and avoid serfdom & patronage. What used to be called virtues are now social deadweight. So here's contemporary America, Land of the Free, w/ the highest prison population in the world, & a self replenishing source of scandal because the only people in there to form bonds of patronage with are felon Mobsters without civil or voting rights or self respect, who's default class is Pro-Sodomy/Anti-Law. See where this is going? The system denigrates Ass patronage while creating it. There's no socially acceptable rout to a "real world" community. In all honesty though (and I think Joe agrees), that Ass patronage would select for bitchy, pompous incompetents, and not be much different than the politics we have now. But it would cut the crap so people wouldn't get blind-sided by some force they never knew existed, and Joe could have had his own squad of goons by now.

Personally, I'd be just as glad if all that strife didn't exist, but there's a kind of honesty that goes with it. Sort of similar to a commitment that can change the world, like marriage or combat. It may be only a substitute for those, but what (outside of religious literature) makes it such a unique issue of bad morals?

A handy Atheist pamphlet that you can print out on glossy paper to have ready when someone hands you a copy of "The Watchtower".
Atheism is hot! (yahoo)
Atheism pays (the Orlando Sentinel)
Christian Zoroastrianism (Reddit)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

New research shows young Americans are dramatically less likely to go to church -- or to participate in any form of organized religion -- than their parents and grandparents. (abcnews)

A congressional resolution to recognize the religious foundation of America? (action)

Definition of Insane delusion under California law either does or doesn't include religious beliefs. (Reddit)

Survey: Support for terror suspect torture differs among the faithful (CNN)

Evidence is reviewed pointing to a negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief in the United States and Europe. (sciencedirect)

This is Joe's take on the American drug policy:
The standard hard line threat used against druggies is alienation because drug users are said to be socially non-functional and irretrievably broken. But people who explore (& survive) alternate realities tend to be more comfortable with alienation. So ultimately the reaction is more real to hard liners who fear alienation themselves. Not that social alienation isn't real, but shunning is easy, contrived, and inappropriate. So when shunning has no effect, lock'em up, & hurt 'em. Let 'em know they're dogs because dialog assumes something of value can be exchanged, & if we don't talk to 'em, we'll never have to consider that their perspectives might be valid. Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work? Remember the hippies who became Jesus Freaks? They got inadvertently exploited because there was & is no practical structure for dealing with what's objectified as craziness, but is subjectively a distrust of social norms. It's not that the church couldn't do it under any circumstances, the problem was the churches perception that (1) the cause is/was the devil, (2) the solution is/was bureaucratic (just recite certain magical words and you'll be saved).

Dragon in My Garage, by Carl Sagan (godlessgeeks)

Should Churches be taxed? (reddit)