Hear My Confession

It pains me to admit this. I would rather not tell because some people will get the hypothetical idea that my current metaphysical and ethereal conclusions are consequences of my youthful experience, rather than of study and thought. That would be normal but wrong.

When I was two weeks old, no one asked me if I wanted to go into a church and have a strange man, a priest, pour water over my head, and make me a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the Roman Catholic Church. I did not even know ‘Uncle Paddy’ who was my God Father. I don’t recall meeting him, but I may have been to his funeral. I knew my God Mother.

Five years later, I was again not asked if I wanted to start going to school. Nor was I given any choice of which school I would attend. For me, it was kindergarten at Saint John the Evangelist parochial school, which was a five-minute walk from home. Those nine months were the only days I enjoyed out of the nine years I spent there.

A few years later, I was not asked if I was up to telling one of those priests what bad things (sins) I had done and how often. But by then, I was conditioned to doing what they said and going along with the crowd. It was called Confession or the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a rite of passage for virtually all Catholic children. The second of my six Sacraments.

I was not asked if I wanted to go to Mass nor if I wanted to take Eucharist or Communion (Sacrament #3). I was not asked if I wanted to sing or pray. I was forced to memorize things and was demeaned if I did not get it right. The priests and nuns were always correct. Always.

The religious of the Church taught me that it was a sin for me to think certain thoughts or to feel certain ways (think puberty). For some things, Jesus would send me to Hell for eternity, but if I told a priest about it, and said two Our Fathers, Four Hail Marys, and a good Act of Contrition, all that I confessed was forgiven. Eventually, I made up sins because I had to go to confession and needed something to confess. It never occurred to me (maybe I didn’t care) that lying to the priest was a sin.

The idea was if you died then, you went straight to Heaven. Otherwise, the best one could hope for was Purgatory (a virtual certainty) for an unspecified (but long) time. If you either missed Mass (church) or killed twenty people (be it one or 20 mortal sins), you went to Hell. Forever. You could bargain your way to a shorter Purgatory sentence, but Hell meant God was done with you. Again, I was not given the opportunity at that time to say this is bullshit. Later, I did.

My family supported the church (nuns and priests) over me. But eventually, I became more independent and moved away from all that. I attended a public high school during the early 1960s, during the times when things changed from praying in school (the Protestant version of the Lord’s Prayer), bible readings (the King James Version, also Protestant), to moments of silence, then to all of that being judged unconstitutional by the SCOTUS (thank God).

None of my children objected when I had them baptized (none as infants, two Catholic, one Methodist). Only one was ever Confirmed, first as a Methodist. Later, as an adult, he was Confirmed as a Catholic. It was his choice. Today, none of my grown children attend church nor are they religiously active.

My point is this. From birth, religion and God were forced on me. I was given no choice. Even as a teen, I was forced into it for a time. I neither resent nor bemoan any of that. It’s how things were, and for many, still are. While some people might see it as child abuse (and in some cases it probably is), it simply was what it was.

However, I now strongly resent attempts to force, coerce, or to wheedle religion or any god on me or anyone else. Yet, it is a fact that many (most? all?) people would force their religious beliefs on me or others if they could.

They resent my nonbelief, my denial of any god, my contention that prayer is feckless, and my demand for hard evidence if I am to believe as they do. I likewise resent their attempts to convert or reconvert me. One guy told me on this blog that it was his job. I never heard from him again. Must have been something I said.

The difference is they can have their god as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care. Their religion is a different story. It is bad. And every day, more people are coming to see it as I do for the simple reason that neither deities nor religions make sense.

— Bill

And another skeptic is baptized. His or her day will come.

Let’s Talk Bible Poetically

Where the Sun Don’t Shine

Books of myth, fiction, fantasy, and magic,
when truth be told, are wonderous, magical,
fine entertainment.

The darkest are sadistic
lies contained in false truths told,
from pages and pulpits of religious propaganda.

Such cliched moronic nonsense would
make magical mindless fodder if only
some twinkles of truth were told about their
myth, fiction, fantasy, and magic. Of course,
I just did that, did I not?


I’m So Happy

It is challenging to keep coming up with things to write about having to do with religion and one of the thousands of gods I doubt. But once or twice each month some smatchet* fool just hands me a beer and says, “Now, watch this.” How do they do it? It’s pure fooking magic, I’m a-tellin’ y’all. Wham! No muse required.

I simply open a news link on my computer for a bit of depressing now what. And there it is in all that radiant reading glory. The reason why so many of us will take a royal pass on jumping into the Christian corral (or is it chorale?).

Some Pentecostal pinhead preacher in the far east parts of Nashville was literally told, directed, and commanded by none other than the main God himself, personally spoken in English, to cancel a bogus communion thingy and instead have a good old-fashioned book burning. Just like mort old Grandpa Adolph used to do, only this holocaust called specifically for some young adult fiction. It appears that God wanted to mess Satan over with a Harry Potter hot foot, of all things.

Preacher Pinhead claimed his followers had a “biblical right” (well hell yes. God told them to do it) to burn cultish books (as I clear my throat and raise both brows) and such, which they deem as threatening to their religious rights and freedoms. Yep. There ya have it, that ever-loving godly dude who gave his only son, etc.

Videos show a bonfire and people tossing books and other papers into the blaze. Praise god almighty!!! No more gall dang witchery from that ‘Hairy Pooter’ and his kind.

To be fair, no real news here. Harry Potter books were burned when first released. Other members of this panicked sleazeball-slime branch of Christianity, with similar religious loons claim such things encourage witchcraft.

I called J.K. Rowling. She said that she is heartbroken that her publisher will now have to print (and sell) more books to replace those burned. Wink, wink.

Why did this guy do this? This book burning party wasn’t the first time Dudly Dumbass made headlines. He’s denied the entire pandemic (clearly, he’s not an undertaker on the side), he preached that the Tennessee Governor, Bill Lee, was a “coward” for activating the National Guard to help hospitals battle it, and he is full of Trump-related BS conspiracy theories. He and his followers are also full of dangerous buzzard bait and swallowing every bit of it.

But look what I got. Blogger fodder as this snarkastic atheist points and laughs; and all the other Christians yell, “He’s not one of us.” I heard that same yell when Planned Parenthood medical clinics were bombed and killed people. Yes. He is exactly one of you!

And as for burning, here’s what else he said, “I ain’t messing with witches no more. I ain’t messing with witchcraft…I ain’t messing with demons.”

Should I send him a thank you letter?


P.S. *English contains an embarrassment of riches for when we want to say something colorful about someone. A contemptible person may be a blighter, cockloche, dandiprat, dirtbag, dogbolt, shagrag, stinkard bastard, beast, bleeder, blighter, bounder, or boor. They may be a bugger, buzzard, cad, chuff, churl, clown, creep, cretin, crud, crumb, or cur. Also, a dirty dog, rat fink, heel, hound, jerk, joker, louse, lout, pill, pinhead, rat, reptile, rotter, or a Yiddish schmuck; some are scum or scumbags, scuzzballs, or skunks. Anyone can be a sleaze, sleazebag, sleazeball, slime, slimeball, slob, snake, or a plain old so-and-so. Brits can also be sods, stinkards, stinkers, swine, toads, varmints, or any of various vermin. So why do we need smatchet? Just because there be so many contemptible people out there.


No kidding. Harry freaking Potter.



Poetry: well, shut my mouth.

My crank goal is to write
poetry banned
in Southern USA states,
especially mine,
a few up north;
and every country
in Islam.

Find me
on the Catholic Church
shit-list so only Bishops
and Cardinals may
read my magic without sin.
May they touch themselves
with impure thoughts. May I
make a Baptist want a martini.

I want the ghost of Spiro Agnew to
haunt my poems as blatant
anarchist propaganda that threatens
to sap our national strength,
(unlike criminal conspiracy,
bribery, extortion, and tax fraud).

I want priests, rabbis, and mullahs
to denounce my freedom
five times every day from
their pits of pull on up to
minareted gravelly loudspeakers.

Let me be the de Mello or Merton
of modern skeptical letters. Bless me
with the censorship of weak minded
control freaks. May the young
bogart tabooed copies of my posey
into secret unsanctioned rooms.

Damn me to literary dungeon-hood
till the cows come home
and the ravens
overtake Capistrano.

Let sweet Jesus find me
one toke over the line, sitting
in a downtown railway station,
eyes opened, hoping
the literal reality freight train
is on time.

Let them hate me
for my
country mile honesty
about reality.

Yes. This Shel Silverstein poem from “Where the Sidewalk Ends” was banned in some places.

Gloss: In the first line (title), Crank in the sense of having or expressing feelings of joy or triumph.
Agnew was investigated for those crimes (and subsequently resigned as VP of the USA), but that is essentially what he had to say about the song, One Toke Over the Line (which was also banned).


Extra: Yeah, right. If you wanna hear from a couple old folk rockers (older then I), and the story of their one hit, the video is not high quality and about 7 minutes, but not bad. I watched the video of the Lawrence Welk Show number they mention being sung. The ironic humor is of that is beyond great and they agree.

If there is a god, religions are still bad

I seriously doubt any spirits exist with the nature and capability most people consider a god to have. I’m convinced of that, but I don’t know and neither do you. If either of us could prove it, one way or the other, we would certainly tell all and put the great debate to rest. But callers keep trying to do so, and they keep Matt busy on The Atheist Experience.

Many true believers still would dig in if we could prove the negative hypothesis, but if God were proven to exist, the I told ya so’s would flow like Niagara Falls.

I claim to be atheist, but I am also (in my opinion, we are all) agnostic. How so? Because not one of us can possibly ever know if there is a spiritual god.

That is the essence of the biblical golden calf in Exodus 32 and I Kings 12. The calf is supposed to be the supreme act of apostasy. It is, for the people in the story. It’s the rejection of a faith once confessed. Moses seemed to be lost. Was he talking or toking with the Father up on the mountain with the burning bush?

It was a biblical metaphor. Everyone knew the calf was not a god. It was a man-made statue. Aaron, Moses’s brother, was the maker of the object, which was apparently decided democratically by the people. But this is bible stuff, not history. I don’t want to ponder there.

The great sin, for which they were allegedly killed, was loss of faith or belief. Jewish (and Christian) scripture is replete with hate toward non-believers and apostates. Biblically, killing us not only acceptable, it’s also God’s will.

And for what? Thought crimes? Having a different opinion? Remember, believers of other religions (or denominations) are also damned as evil and justly subject to eternal you-know-what. Kill them all! (Sarcasm, mine.)

This unfair and stupid opinion thus becomes a lie believers can scripturally attribute to God (or Allah, if you’re in that lane). I have been told that I am “one of the good ones.” She knew me and decided I was an exception. The implication is that others who do not believe in some god or religion are evil and do harm. Without any evidence, people of other religions or of none, people who’s only crime is to point out that the king has no clothes, are recreated as evil. That moniker is not for doing any crime or moral wrong. It’s for having a different opinion.

And yes, we resent it.


I’m Sticking to It

Just yesterday, I stopped at a traffic light behind a Lexus SUV with three stickers on the painted portion of the rear hatch. One was an image of a US flag with the word pray in the blue field where the stars go. The second said something about prayer and the USA, but I forget exactly what it said. But the third pressed my ponder button.

The sticker said, “I am Christian, and I vote.” My first thought was I am not and so do I. I like stickers, but I seldom put them on my car. When I do, they get peeled off when the election or whatever reason for them has passed. But my laptop and iPad are covered with them (nonpolitical).

I cannot consider the …I Vote sticker as anything other than a political threat or intimidation intended to state the owner’s political and governmental priority. That would be the Christian religion. I could not determine if they were Evangelical Protestant, Mainline Protestant, or Catholic. But I suspect one of the first two since while papists consider themselves the original Christians, they usually use Catholic.

Another bumper sticker I saw about 10 years ago said, “You cannot be both Catholic and Pro-Choice.” It was about then that I took my money and left the Catholic Church (the religion). It had nothing to do with the bumper sticker. But how’d that work for them?

So, the person in the Lexus likely opposes any separation of church and state (as long the church side is Christian). They claim to be one of 215-million US citizens identifying as Christian (now 65%, down from 75% in 2015, according to PEW Research), and one of the 16-million Texans (53% says ASARB) who identify as such.

I must assume the Lexus Christian has no qualms forcing his or her religious beliefs onto non-Christians. What a strange way to wring out freedom of religion (so long as it’s Christian) from the US Constitution. And they are downright proud of it, in a much holier than thou sort of way.

Then I pondered on with ideas for I’m (something), and I vote stickers. My ideas:

I’m old and I vote. I’m (single, married, divorced) and I vote. I eat bacon and I vote (hello CA).

I’m bald and I vote. I’m non-denominational and I vote. I’m an Aggie and I vote.

I drink and I vote (but not at the same time). I’m (Irish, German, Mexican, Swedish, Mediterranean, Apache, or ???) and I vote.

I’m atheist and I vote. I worship Satan and I vote. I’m (rich, poor, middle income) and I vote (and hopefully pay taxes). I’m antigovernment and I vote anyway.

I read and I vote. I’m a writer, artist, creative person, and I vote. I’m a teacher and I vote. I’m a flat Earther and I vote. I’m an old yellow dog and I vote.

I’m a (vegetarian, vegan, meat eater, vampire) and I vote. I’m a nudist and I vote. I’m a pluviophile and I vote. I am apathetic and I vote (I just don’t care).

I’m snarkastic and I vote. I like rock and roll, and I vote. I (do or don’t) own a gun or play golf, and I vote. I drink coffee and I vote. I can dance and I vote.

How about you? Do you vote? Do you have any stickers on your car, bike, computer, or whatever?


Skepticism Seems Weird

I like to think of myself as a simple skeptic in that while I am disposed to skepticism regarding gods, most religious principles, and anyone trying to sell me something (are those last two redundant?), I try to not make too much of it.

I’m prone to read the fine print. One could call me a disbeliever, doubter, questioner, or unbeliever. I say simple because I have no deep philosophical basis for my doubts. To me, skepticism is partly common sense, reasonable caution, and experientially learned discernment. I admit that it gets touchy with religion, but that’s not my fault. Doubting and questioning some things are normal to me.

Conversely, I want to trust people. I prefer to take what people say at face value (except politicians and preachers). I like the little phrase, without trust, there is no us. I assume most people are trusting and generally trustworthy. However, I still request evidence when someone makes claims for which my support, acceptance, or belief is solicited.

As far as supernatural stuff goes, if anything requires my belief beforehand for it to become true, or for it to work, I judge such things with an idiomatic jaundiced eye. The same goes for a lot of health and wealth stuff that I consider quackery, schemes, and scams.

I’m an advocate of traditional medicine. Yet, I don’t accept everything my doctors tell me. I often ask, based on what research do you make that claim? My doctors are not always right, and I think they know it.

So, if skepticism is so normal, why do I say it seems weird?

I have a friend who seems to be skeptical of everything, with one glaring exception. When I suggested he use a fact-checking website like Snopes to verify the accuracy of things, he asked how I knew I could trust them. That discussion lasted a while, but I never convinced him of anything. That was weird.

I continue to be astonished that so many of us insist there is an invisible man in the sky but seem incapable of accepting many things for which there is ample empirical evidence.

Maybe it’s just another conspiracy.


Essay: Masked Fear

Years ago, an acquaintance said this to me as a sarcastic joke. “Quitting smoking is hard, but it takes a real man to face cancer.” Poor taste (we did that), but it makes the point.

A few weeks ago, my daughter posted a similar, but less sarcastic, meme on her Facebook page. The graphic had a picture of C. Darwin and a comment invoking evolutionary survival for those who refuse to take precautions to prevent getting or spreading COVID-19. It said, “If you don’t want to quarantine, it’s okay.” Innocuous enough. If you’ve been exposed, tested positive, or diagnosed it is not okay not to quarantine. However, it attracted comment from a troll since she posted it as public.

While the middle aged man from Abilene, TX, said mostly illogical and incoherent things, and he invoked Communism for reasons only he and his ilk comprehend, his gist was that people are wearing surgical masks and other mouth/nose coverings due to irrational fear. A quick look at his page supported his opinionated hypothesis with memes poking fun at (or insulting) people who mask up. People like me.

For the record, the man currently holding the office of POTUS, two of his predecessors (Bush2 and Clinton1), and I all turn 74 years of age this summer. In my case, I have two manageable, non-life-threatening (in the near term), underlying conditions (as they call them) that would make COVID-19 probably deadly for me. I’ve also had surgery for cancer and am constantly monitored (scanned) for recurrence. Fear? Me? There is more.

I was born into and grew up in a family supported by a subterranean coal miner. Going underground to mine has been a top ten dangerous job for hundreds of years. I attended the funerals of friends and classmate’s fathers who died from cave-ins, flash floods, and explosions. I do not recall my father worried or fearful of going to work, although unions and others tried to improve working conditions with limited success. He feared flying until he did, then he was fine.

I spent years wearing a uniform in foreign countries where I was advised to be unpredictable and to alter my route to and from work for safety. I flew airplanes strapped to ejection seats (upward and downward), wearing an oxygen mask, a helmet, and able to recite from memory and to demonstrate emergency procedures. I never did this out of fear. It was my job. Although I lived through some very scary moments, fear would have negatively affected my performance (the cliché is to choke). It was wisdom, professionalism, and training, not fear, that enabled a young aviator to become this old one.

I have my car inspected (safety inspection) and drive on good tires with good brakes, and I wear my seatbelt because it is a smart thing to do (and the law), but not because I am afraid. Indeed, the driving habits of some people I must share the road with motivate me. It is not fear. I drive carefully and defensively, but not fearfully.

I have ridden a motorcycle for years. I wear a helmet, protective gloves, long pants, good shoes, and cover my face, neck, and arms because I think it is foolish not to. I dress for the crash that will not happen, not for the ride. My first times riding in the rain, riding on interstate highways in highspeed traffic, and other scary situations were tense. I felt fear due to my lack of knowledge, experience, and skill. I no longer fear riding. It’s fun. I also believe that motorcycle riding, like aviation, is inherently dangerous. Fact, not fear.

I drive near legal/recommended speed limits or less. I slow down for corners and sharp curves/turns. I ride sober. I look all around and try to predict the actions of others in cars and trucks. I avoid riding in high wind, rainstorms, ice or snow, darkness, heavy traffic, or busy interstate highways. I have done it all and found them dangerous, but often unavoidable. I mitigate risk and avoid unnecessary danger. That is being responsible, not afraid.

I advise friends and loved ones to be careful. Not out of fear, but as wisdom. I am not paranoid, and I enjoy the risk of life as much as anyone. I do not jump out of perfectly good airplanes, but I know how to wear and use a parachute. One of my favorite musical stanzas is from the song, For What It’s Worth,

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid…

COVID-19 is a deadly reality. I wish it on no one. I take precautions with many things in life. I consider it foolish not to wear a protective mask in crowded areas during the current pandemic. I try not to let my politics or opinion cloud my judgment or warp my wisdom.

I will continue to wear a mask and have negative thoughts about those who do not because I believe they are putting my life and that of others unnecessarily at risk. For some, it appears to be about politics rather than health, welfare, and science.

The people like the man who trolled my daughter’s post will never convince me that I must be an unmasked brave fool who refers to death by COVID-19 as “thinning the herd,” as he did. It has been an awfully long time since I was dared to do something stupid and called a fraidy-cat by another child.

I have no fear of wearing a mask; be it surgical, oxygen, Halloween, neck tube (Buff or gator) pulled up, or CPAP. Fools may never forgive me, but I’m gunna pass on that kind of stupid.


A to Z Challenge 2020 (L = Lucid Dreams/Dreaming)

This is when you are asleep, and your frontal brain lobe makes you aware that you are sleeping and dreaming. I’ve seldom had this experience, but it has happened, and I remembered it. Like dreams themselves, it’s interesting. Also, like dreams, you can spend thousands of US dollars on learning and doing more about it. But, even with personal experience, I must weigh in with a bit of not so fast. The whole dream business is packed with frauds, charlatans, and quacks, and the awareness aspect has been roped in at great profit.

If you need help with lucid dreaming (I cannot do it intentionally) you can purchase books, tapes/CDs or whatever the tech is today, scientific publications, and induction devices such as special lights and speakers. You can spend money and time going to seminars to help you tap into your unconscious mind and get continuing education or college credit (Psyc.).

Perhaps you will fly (in your dreams) with spirits and have an out-of-body experience you enjoy, and that makes you free (again, you’re dreaming) of the restraints of being human and gravity bound to Earth. Maybe you will even feel better. But I doubt it.

There is no special state achievable by paying a fee through which we can find transcendent consciousness any more than we can stop having nightmares because we don’t like them. But, as with so many things, you can pay the price and take your chances. You can also read a lot more about it, if you are so inclined.

I prefer to know when it happens and what the biological cause is. When I wake from my off-base dreams, many of which relate to my life 30 or 40 years in the past, I know immediately that I was dreaming and what facts were twisted in my dreams to create the imaginary scenario.

So, yes, it is a real thing. But I doubt that it is what many seem to think. From reality to woo-woo, and to $$ all the way to the bank once again.


A to Z Challenge 2020 (I=Ignorance)

Ignorance is lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. When I hear or see the word ignorant, I seem to want to interpret that negatively, as a lack of intelligence, for example. But, it’s not. All people, intelligent or not, are ignorant of some things. Some very intelligent people are ignorant of fundamental cognitive biases hindering their own critical thinking.

I’ve heard the idiom; I don’t know what I don’t know. The fact remains that there is a great deal of knowledge of which I’m ignorant. I know what some of it is. I don’t know, for another example, if I go to a church on Sunday and sit with hundreds of other people for an hour or more if I will become infected with a virus that will end my life in less than a month or two. I do know what happened to the ignorant folks who went to choir practice several weeks back. What they did not know infected many and killed some. What I don’t know can kill or injure me or others.

Willful ignorance is not defined the same way. The adjective changes everything. When people today go to choir practice, or to church, or have gatherings in their homes thinking it is a safe thing to do; or when they rely on a medication they are taking as a preventative measure, unlike the choir members who were infected out of ignorance, the new group is being willfully ignorant. They have been provided the knowledge, education, and awareness needed to be safe and to not endanger others. They are choosing to ignore it. Are they so brain-washed by religion, a minister, or family member that they flaunt their beliefs in the face of death to themselves or others? I think so.

But, like so many atheists (agnostics also), I like to say I don’t know when I don’t. I say it often. It turns out there is much of which I am, and shall remain, ignorant. That does not seem to trouble most others. Yet, some folks demonstrate considerable irritation by my confession, and they suffer even more dissonance when they try to apply the phrase to themselves.

I know what I think. I think I like staying home.