Showing posts with label Prayer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prayer. Show all posts

Friday, January 21, 2011

Catholic Church Unveils 12-Step Program for Homosexual Addiction and So Much More

     It was really only a matter of time.  When I was a priest/seminarian, I was formed to believe that my (homo)sexuality was an addiction and prescribed so many "more natural" ways to "deal with" my "depraved" nature that was a "gift" from a loving god.

     The Catholic Diocese in Colorado Springs has adopted a 12-step program that offers "support" for homosexuals.  Despite striking similarities to Alcoholics Anonymous's 12-step program for recovering addicts, proponents claim that the program is less about therapy than it is about support for people experiencing homosexual thoughts that they consider "a burden."
     Sure it is.  And it has nothing to do with a closeted clergy projecting their own crap onto the rest of the world.

     Here are the actual Twelve Steps as reported in The Huffington Post via The Gazette (and my comments):

      1. We admitted that we were powerless over homosexuality and our lives had become unmanageable.

     When I was parked at the edge of a frozen river with the plan of driving on the ice until it broke and I died, I admitted that I was powerless against Catholicism.

     2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

     So, I guess, those of us who are out of the closet are obviously insane.  

     3.  We made a decision to turn our will and our lives to the care of God as we understood Him.

    Clarification: as Holy Disfunctional Mother church taught us to understand "Him" [sic].

     4.  We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

     As a gay Catholic, my greatest was going to hell because god made me gay.  

     5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

     Exact nature?  According to Catholic teachings, their god makes people gay.  How can one's exact god-given nature be wrong?  Unless your god's a vindictive ass hole.

     6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of our character.

     7. We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

     Pray away the gay.  And you'll soon discover that nothing fails like prayer.

     8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make direct amends to them all.

     Someone, who claims to have been injured by someone else's homosexuality, is the person who needs to be making amends for their bigotry.

     9. We made the direct amends to such people whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

     I'm still waiting for Father Mustache and those who covered his tracks to apologize.  But maybe their apology would hurt me too much.

     10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

     Yes, just as Pope Benedict XVI, the Slapping Pope, has promptly admitted his wrongdoings in the sexual abuse scandals.

     11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of God's Will for us and the power to carry it out.

     "Conscious contact"?  I guess that is in opposition to the unconscious contact that being gay implies.  

     12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

     So I guess that makes Rev. Larry Brennan, diocesan director of priest formation, who defended this program to the paper a liar, for The Gazette quoted him: “It’s not about therapy and not about activism.”  Yes, and the Catholic money, DVDs, and pamphlets that support the suppression of gay rights is totally not about activism either.

     And for those of you who just can't stop harping about the penile focus of the Catholic Church , don't worry.  The Gazette reports:
     A 12-step program for lesbians may also be created if there is demand for it, Brennan said.
    Fight on, my feminist lesbian sisters! 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Christian Janet Porter's Ignorant and Insane Prayer for Jesus to Control the U.S. Government

     As if the majority of persons serving in government positions in the United States aren't already Christian.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sarah Palin's BP Disaster Solution: Pray, Baby, Pray, and Don't Wear a Respirator, for the god of BP Will Protect You

     Yesterday, good Christian Sarah Palin, bearer of false witness and hypocrite, offered yet another prophetweet on Twitter, concerning the BP oil disaster.
     Yes, because prayer has worked so well for the protection of people and the environment of the Gulf region in the past.  Pray, baby, pray!  Pray, baby, pray!  Pray, baby, drill!  Drill, baby, drill!  Oops.

     Here's my idea.  Instead of hoping for a deus ex machina to magically clean things up, let's get respirators to those in gulf doing the actual cleanup.  Let's take control of the healthcare for cleanup workers from BP, because BP doesn't have the best interest of the people and the environment at heart.  I think this is something that reasonable persons of any creed or political disposition can agree upon.  

     BP can't admit that there are health risks, because that would open them to lawsuits.  Is it just me, or is letting BP control the crime scene and the care of those working in it insane?  Would a murderer be allowed to clean-up his own victim or a pyromaniac the property she torched?

     Kerry Kennedy of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights has been doing incredible work reporting on the oil spill's impact on local communities and cleanup crews.  The health of these people is at risk, because BP is discouraging people from wearing respirators, saying everything's all right.  Where is Palin's drill-thirsty god in all of this?

     Spill Fighters reports some of what Kennedy said in an interview after being in the Gulf and talking to the residents and clean-up crews:
     “In all three states that I’ve visited, fishermen said when they went out to work on the cleanup, that if they tried to bring respirators they were told it was unnecessary equipment and would only spread hysteria,” Kennedy told Fox News Friday.  “When I went out with eleven people, we had respirators on and within half an hour, all of our eyes were burning and our throats were closing and we all had headaches,” she explained.  Kennedy was also concerned that BP was refusing to release information about the contents of the dispersant being used.
 Image by Glen Cove High School Science Department
     Anyone who remembers high school chemistry and biology will know that oil, gas, and their fumes contain benzene, which is a carcinogen.  For a list of the health problems, including various cancers, caused by benzene exposure see

     But BP's disregard for the safety of human beings continues.  The Los Angeles Times reports:
     Like other cleanup workers, Jackson had attended a training class where he was told not to pick up oil-related waste. But he said he wasn't provided with protective equipment and wore leather boots and regular clothes on his boat.  "They [BP officials] told us if we ran into oil, it wasn't supposed to bother us," Jackson said. "As far as gloves, no, we haven't been wearing any gloves."
     The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health and Hospitals warned that oil cleanup workers "should avoid skin contact, and oral cavity or nasal passage exposure to oil spill products [by] using appropriate clothing, respiratory protection, gloves and boots."
     To Riki Ott, a marine toxicologist who studied the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska, it's "deja vu. What we saw with Exxon Valdez was a parallel track — sick animals and sick people. Harbor seals were looking like they were drunk and dying … and autopsies showed brain lesions.…What are we exposing these poor fishermen to?
     Some fishermen suspect that health problems are going unreported because, with so much of the gulf closed to commercial fishing, unemployed shrimpers and oystermen are grateful for the cleanup jobs.  "It an unwritten rule, you don't bite the hand that feeds you," said George Barisich, president of the United Commercial Fishermen's Assn. in St. Bernard Parish, who said many fishermen have told him about feeling ill.
     At a recent meeting fishermen complained to a BP representative about illness, Barisich said, but got little response. "BP has the opinion that they are not getting sick," he said. Barisich said the company is not providing respirators because "if they give us that type of equipment then they admit there are health hazards."
Image by Flickr, Boycott BP 
     Here is Before It's News' reaction:
     Just like what occurred after the Sept, 11th attacks, brave workers are doing what they can to try to help in a disaster. These workers will likely have to suffer for years and years, just like those workers of 9/11 did. Some might even die from their clean-up efforts. But these workers are knowingly risking their health and maybe even their lives.  Guidry says, "I spoke to several individuals. It was a choice between not paying the bills and having food for their families and maybe taking a chance of getting sick."
     BP is a despicable company that has been engaged in all types of environmental and safety violations... BP is contributing to the sickness of the clean-up workers because it won't allow them to wear respirators.  It is all about money for BP. 
     God [sic] bless America.

The Kerry Kennedy Interviews

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Judge Barbara Crabb's Angry Christian Emails, the Underbelly of the National Day of Prayer Ruling

     After upholding the constitutional separation between church and state in a U.S. district court decision that declared the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, Judge Barbara Crabb incurred the wrath of prayerful Christians across the nation.

     The Supreme Court has noted often that the establishment clause is the result of the lesson learned from history that, when the government takes sides on questions of religious belief, a dangerous situation may be created, both for the favored and the disfavored groups.
     “Judge Crabb needs to be removed from her position,” wrote Bob Ferguson by e-mail. “She is a stupid bitch.”
     Al Kafer of Cleveland, who described himself as a “70-year-old Vietnam vet,” addressed her as “Babs” and wrote: “We could give a damn what some INTELLECTUAL PYGMY in a skirt in cheeseland says.” And he added a P.S.: “We are no longer taking your shit anymore.”
     “You mam [sic] are a disgrace to America,” wrote Michael Yeager. “Only an Anti-Christ individual would deny a national day of prayer. . . . Basically, you have committed treason against God who established our nation.”
     John in Texas ( wrote: “I will be praying God removes her from office.”
     Many others said they were praying for her, as well.  Some told her she was going to hell.
     “Can you imagine what it will be like to live forever in Hell?” wrote David Lee ( “We have had enough of the Obamas of this world, and we plan on stopping them as we will also you.”
     One anonymous letter, addressed “To the Dishonorable Barbara Crabb,” said: “You Barbie are a disgrace to this country just as Obama is. . . . Enjoy Hell, you will be there soon. I pray for your kids.”
     These are the voices of Christians who on May 6, 2010, joined in prayer with President Obama, who defied the judicial branch of the government and,  in an unconstitutional act, proclaimed the National Day of Prayer.  (Oh, the ignorance of the email morons that condemned Obama along with Crabb, when Obama is on their side.)  Obama has already filed for appeal.  

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 6, 2010, as a National Day of Prayer. I call upon the citizens of our Nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I invite all people of faith to join me in asking for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection as we meet the challenges before us.
     The National Day of Prayer Task Force’s mission is to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church and Family.
     It is a Christian organization with a Christian agenda, and our President has sided with them against the separation of church and state.  A professor of constitutional law, President Obama is quite the hypocrite and an enabler of certain Christians, who want to force their faith on the entire nation's "seven centers of power," infringing on people's private lives.

     Please email Judge Crabb and tell her you support her decision, especially if you are Christian, who should know from the lessons of history that separation between church and state is a healthy thing.  (Or do you support the Christian states where Muslims are being slaughtered?).  Let her know that we do not want the government taking sides on matters religious.  You may email her at or send a letter to the address at U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin.

     Also, please consider giving to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, plaintiff in the case, who will need every dollar they can gather in the coming years as FFRF vs. Obama hits the appeals courts.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Facebook Page Prays for Obama's Death

     On Facebook, 1,110,732 good Christian people are praying the following "prayer" to their god of hatred, fear, and racism, which is a most vivid example of the Gospel According to Hate:
     The "fans" of this page, whose title is the words to the "prayer," have posted over 390 pictures full of the racist stereotypes that the Tea Party and many Republicans have been encouraging.  Because he's black, he's a Muslim, terrorist, socialist, Nazi, etc.

     Now, there are a few posts that claim the page is a joke, but this is debatable.  A second page has been started to counter this page.  It's called DEAR LORD: HELP ME IGNORE HATEFUL CONSERVATIVE IDIOTS.

     Here's my idea: stop praying and start listening.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

National Day of (Christian Fundamentalist) Prayer Finally Ruled Unconstitutional

     A giant win for the separation of church and state in our nation occurred last week in a Wisconsin U.S. District Court!

     U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb decided in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a ruling that the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer and requiring a National Day of Prayer proclamation by the president violates the establishment clause of the Constitution's First Amendment.  In her ruling, Judge Crabb wrote: "The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy."
     The Foundation filed its groundbreaking suit in October 2008. Plaintiffs besides the Foundation are Anne Nicol Gaylor, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Dan Barker, Paul Gaylor, Phyllis Rose and Jill Dean, who are all Foundation officers or board members. Defendants are President Barack Obama and Robert Gibbs, his press secretary. Original defendants were President George Bush and Dana Perino, his press secretary at the time.
     All presidents since 1952 have issued proclamations designating the National Day of Prayer each year. Since 1988, the National Day of Prayer has been held on the first Thursday in May. The president’s proclamations are released by the Office of the Press Secretary.
     Judge Crabb enjoined Obama from enforcing the National Day of Prayer law, but stayed the injunction until the appeals process is completed. The law setting the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer passed Congress in 1952 after an intensive campaign led by Rev. Billy Graham.
     Click here for the full and in depth article.  There is an entire history to anti-semite, homophobic Billy Graham, racist Pat Robertson, and the entire Christian right forcing this day of prayer/religion test upon political officials and citizens of the United States. 

    President Obama responded to the ruling, by playing the hypocrite and ignoring his constitutional law education, by vowing on Twitter to go ahead with the presidential prayer proclamation in May.  The Christian right immediately started spreading rumors and lies online that Obama had canceled the National Day of Prayer, that he was making it a day of prayer to Allah instead, etc.  They even have a Facebook page.  How's that for spreading the Gospel According to Hate?

     Here are a few excerpts of the historic ruling:

     "It goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience. When the government associates one set of religious beliefs with the state and identifies nonadherents as outsiders, it encroaches upon the individual's decision about whether and how to worship.”
     "If the government were interested only in acknowledging the role of religion in America, it could have designated a 'National Day of Religious Freedom' rather than promote a particular religious practice."
     "With or without a statute, private citizens are free to pray at any time. Private citizens are also free to join together to hold celebrations of their faith, including by proclaiming their own day of prayer."
     "That is not an accommodation under Supreme Court precedent; it is taking sides on a matter of religious belief. Because supporters of the National Day of Prayer have no need for the machinery of the State to affirm their beliefs, the government's sponsorship of that day in § 119 is most reasonably understood as an official endorsement of religion and, in this instance, of theistic religion."    
Bumper sticker available at

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Roy Ashburn's Compartmentalized Coming Out Interview

    Embedded below is the AM 1180 KERN interview of outed antigay, Republican, California state Senator Roy Ashburn by Inga Barks. (Notice their prominent direct link to FOX News.)

     Here's the gist of the interview: 

     Barking: Ms. Barks spends the much of her time barking about the media and the blogosphere and how unjust it has been for people to call out her Republican hero's hypocrisy and double life.  Wait, didn't Jesus call out the political-religious zealots of his day for their hypocrisies?
  • Matthew 23:27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth.
     Two Faces of Compartmentalization Are Okay:  Both Roy and Inga see politicians' personal lives and public lives as separate (unless you are Bill Clinton, John Edwards, or any other Democrat).  What Republicans do in the dark, doesn't matter in the light.  Their savior would be so proud of them.
  • 1 Timothy 5:20 "Those [elders] who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that others may take warning."
      Double Life:  Roy would have gone on happily blowing random tricks in the closet while publicly presenting himself as a good Catholic Republican and denouncing the civil rights of committed, monogamous, honest, same sex couples.
  • Proverbs 4:19 "The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble."
     Hypocrisy:  While Roy, Inga, and their brood hold the distinction between conservatives' private and public lives sacred, they keep sticking their legislative noses into the private lives of LGBT persons.  When the public invades one of their private lives and calls one of them to moral accountability, that's vindictive, mean, reprehensible, but when they legislate the private lives of "free" American citizens, it's patriotic.
      Still Anti-Gay:  Roy-Toy is going to continue to vote against gay rights for the remainder of his term, when he will thankfully not run for reelection.  (He's not man enough to resign.) He's voted anti-gay all along, because it's what his (bigoted) constituents want.
  • 1 John 2:9-11 "Anyone who claims to be 'in the light' and hates his brother is, in fact, still in complete darkness. The man who loves his brother lives in the light and has no reason to stumble. But the man who hates his brother is shut off from the light and gropes his way in the dark without knowing where he is going. For darkness has made him blind."
     Pray for Me:  When Barks asked him what people can to do help, Senator Assborn asked for people's prayers.  Yes, pray away the gay.  Subtext: "This is all about me and hast nothing to do with the lives of the people I've voted to destroy, all the while pretending that I wasn't one of them.  Pray for me.  It's about me, me, me, me, poor little crucified ME!"
  • Freedom From Religion Foundation: "Nothing fails like prayer."
     Republicans Love Minorities:  Barks assured Aspbin that his conservative base will continue to support him, because, unlike the evil liberal media, Republicans are unconcerned with the private lives of their politicians and race, creed, and sexual orientation do not matter in the eyes of the conservative base.  Seriously, she is delusional.
     The Party of "No":  Barks sent Assburn back to the legislature with the great Republican commission: Go forth and vote NO on everything
  • I doubt she meant No on Prop 8.
    I still stand by what I wrote last night, in hopes of Roy Ashburn becoming an honest champion of LGBT civil rights.  Sadly, this interview indicates that he is still lost in compartmentalization, denial, and shame, and that he is incapable of even comprehending the damage his voting record has done to own kind.

     Here are the recordings of the interviews.

     Part One: the interview starts at 4:35. If you want to hear Inga's shaming of the press and the blogosphere for calling Ashburn on his hypocrisy, start at the beginning.

Part Two: this one is all Roy, all the time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow What? Praying for Beauty: It Really Works!

     Who's the fairest of them all?

     According to god-will-kill-the-gays Ms. Beverly Hills 2010 Lauren Ashley, if you want to stay young there are two options: plastic surgery and/or prayer. 

     In the embedded below from Buying Beauty TV, Ashley bashes a friend's breast enlargement and then prothelytizes a plastic surgeon with her mother's spiritual practices.  Her mother is fifty-one, but you would never know it.  For she has the ultimate youth and beauty preserving weapon on her side: prayer.

     All one need do is sit in god's presence praying, and she will come out looking brand new like Ms. My-Friend's-Boob-Job-Is-Over-the-Top's mother.  Translated into another tongue, Ms. Buying Beauty's  response to youth-regenerating prayer: "Allāhu Akbar!"

     Thanks for the invention, good Christian Lauren.  You get credit for adding Beauty Prayer to my types of prayer list

     I have no doubt that your god has nothing better to do than sit around and wave his magic finger over your aging mother so she can look young again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

An Atheist's Guide to Lent: Part Three, Almsgiving

     Welcome back to An Atheist's Guide to Lent: How to Lose god and Find Peace in Forty Days or Less!  

     We've already covered the Lenten tenants of fasting and prayer, so that leave us atheist almsgiving.  Many religious people have been conditioned to believe human beings are intrinsically concupiscent, "fallen,"  and sinfully inclined and that without religious salvation, humans can't do good.  Well, that just isn't so.  We non-believers have consciences and do good deeds.  Join us for forty day.  Give a forty day god-fast and atheist almsgiving a try!

  1. From your atheist "prayer" exercises considering the frail mysteries of unknowing, life, the planet, and the universe, look at how you interact with the world and ask yourself how you want to be remembered, known.   Honor those you love who have died, by keeping them alive in your actions, embodying the best of their essence and learning from their shortcomings and mistakes.  Do good because it honors them, it honors the future, and it honors the every person with whom you come into contact.  
  2. Give credit where credit is due.  Quit blaming the devil, sin, or evil, and admit that you are the one that is capable of hurting others.  Quit putting off changing your ways for the better to the next life, because god will forgive you.  There will be no divine "do over."  Accept yourself, as you are, here and now.  Acknowledge your gifts and limitations, and then go do what is good, because you only have one life to make a difference.  
  3. Give alms to future generations by doing something that will decrease your carbon footprint in the world, because to a non-theist this is the only world, the one chance we've got.  There will be no parousia, no apocalyptic cleansing, and no rebirth into eternal life for the "righteous."  Planet Earth is at risk thanks to "dominion" theology, which gives us the "right" to use the planet for whatever purpose we see fit, and hypocritical religious fundamentalists, who decry "sinful" scientific knowledge (evolution, psychology, global warming, medicine, etc.) but are quick to use scientific advances (swords, guns, bombs, airplanes, biological weapons, etc.) to kill in the names of their gods.
  4. Research aid organizations that are god-free, that give aid to all persons without any imposition of personal religious beliefs or expectation that those receiving the aid must conform or convert.  Give because it helps others, not because you fear partial eternity in some purgatorial suburb of hell, while your loving, omnipotent, and compassionate god watches from a heavenly perch until satisfied with the torture you've endured and welcomes you into "loving" bliss.
     Thus ends our journey through the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  If any of your other free thinkers, post-theists, agnostics, and atheists have other prescriptions for these "Lenten" practices, please add them to the comments below.
     So, what do you believers have to lose?  You can always quit and return to your pre-Lenten ways at any time, but maybe you'll come to see that non-believers are capable of choosing and doing good..  
     What's holding you back.  I dare you.   Give up god for Lent. 

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    An Atheist's Guide to Lent: Part Two, Prayer

         Welcome back to An Atheist's Guide to Lent: How to Lose god and Find Peace in Forty Days or Less!

         Yesterday we focused on fasting and how you can give up fear, shame, pride, prayer, and your godly distortions for Lent.  We hope that's going well for you, and if you're struggling, don't worry.  It's normal to hear phantom devil cackles and the voices of old nuns and/or your former Sunday school teachers condemning you to hell for the first few days.  Don't stop.  Push through the fear, and with a few more doses of reality, the voices will soon fade away, forever and ever, and let the people say: Amen!

         Today, we focus on the Lenten practice of prayer.  If you've given up cosmic-candy-machine prayer, sports prayer, circular shame, and tell-me-what-I-need-to-do me-centered types prayer for Lent, you will discover that you have a fountain of guilt-free psychic, intellectual, and spiritual energy thirsting for the truth.  

         What is a budding post-theist to do?

         Here are a few "prayerful" practices for your Lenten journey away from god and into peace.

    1. Exercise your brain.  Discuss the hard questions and your doubts about faith and religion with people who won't judge you for going there and won't project their own fears of challenging the faith establishment onto your honest quest.  
    2. Go read a difficult book that is intellectually sound and challenges the assumptions of religion, such as The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins or god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.  Learn what the human brain has to say about the universe and read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.  Check out the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Ex-Minister to see what some post-theists really believe.  Read or watch the extremely accessible and humorous Julia Sweeney's Letting Go of God or other very humble and honest struggles about people's journeys from faith into free thought.  Don't shy away from atheists and agnostics, because you've been conditioned into believing they are bad people. 
    3. Embrace the beauty and mystery of the random chance of the universe.  Reflect upon the frailty and fleeting reality of life.  Meditate on that reality and what it means for your life choices.  What are you going to do with this one and only life that you have to live?  Embrace the reality that everyone with whom you interact has only one life and that together we have only this one fragile planet on which we and future generations are are dependent to live.  Reflect upon these realities and see if you can find reasons to act kindly, justly, and humbly without god.

      Wednesday, February 17, 2010

      An Atheist's Guide to Lent: Part One, Fasting

           The translucent skinned, crusty monsignor looked down his pepper-pitted, crimson, and drooping nose and sternly asked the meek seven-year-old, "And what are you giving up for Lent, my dear?"

           She looked up through the curls hanging like half-closed curtains around her heart-shaped face.  Her black licorice eyebrows squeezed together over her malted milk ball eyes that rose and accepted the monsignor's cloudy sapphire eye's dare.  

           "Mass, Father.  I'm giving up going to Mass."

           As a child in Catholic school, that was always the joke that my friends and I shared.  When Sr. Mary Something or Father Homily asked us what we were giving up for Lent, we always wanted to say Mass.  We dared one another to do it, but none of us ever had the guts.  

           Well, the days of living in fear of some fallible cleric are over.  The dare remains.  What are you faithful Christians giving up for Lent?  This atheist dares you to give up god for forty days and forty nights.  Try it out.  See what it's like.  Your faith will still be waiting there for you in the end, if you still want it.  You have nothing to lose but your chains.

           This is An Atheist's Guide to Lent: How to Lose god and Find Peace in Forty Days or Less.

           Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian season of penitence: Lent.  To kick off the festive season over the next three days, I will focus on a different tenant of Lent (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving) from an atheist's perspective.  

           During Lent, a penitent soul is supposed to commit to (1) exercising extra prayerful practices, (2) fasting/self-denial from something they enjoy, and (3) giving of their time or wealth to those in need.  This practice lasts for forty days and night, and on the other side of the Lenten desert one will find resurrection. 

           Today, we focus on:

      1. Start by giving up fear.  This is not a simple fear, such as being afraid to step in front of a moving bus, this is giving up those deep, darkest, soul-shaking fears, such as being afraid to ask the hard questions, to be honest about who you are and what your doubts and limitations are, to take risks to do with your life what you've always wanted to do, and to let go of things you are not sure you will be able to live without.  The key to finding your deepest fears is to follow your resistance. You have nothing to lose but your false faith, because real faith cannot be based on fear.  Fear is an animal instinct, simple fight or flight.  To believe in some god out of a simple animal fear is not a choice.  Faith must come from a higher human state than fear: awe or gratitude.  So, even if you believers are not going to take this atheist Lenten practice all the way, you can still purge yourself of your fear-based, automatic reaction to believe.
      2. Give up your distortions about god.  Reflect upon what you've been taught to be "true" about god: omnipotence, unconditionally loving, beneficent, forgiving, wants to be known, revelatory, male, three persons, etc. etc.  Honestly ask yourself the forbidden questions.  What if my god isn't the only god?  What if other religions are right?  What if we're all wrong?  Why does god have to be all-loving?  What if god doesn't love me?  What if god isn't all knowing?  What if god doesn't reveal itself to the world?  What if the scriptures were not inspired, but just people's projections of their personal fears and distortions of what they needed to believe for their own benefit?  What if there is no afterlife? What if there is no god?  And so on.  Pick one of these questions and try out the hard answer for a few days.  See how it feels.  Does it change the way you live?  Don't worry.  You can always go back to your beliefs.
      3. Fast from shame.  What if you don't need a savior?  What if you are fine just the way you are?  Are you are capable of doing good because it's the wise and peace-giving choice, not because of some divine prescription for avoiding eternal damnation?  Quit beating yourself down and actually love and accept yourself as someone who is capable of both great good and great harm.  Turn those self-centered, self-pitying shame and guilt energies outward, and do something productive with it.
      4. Fast from pride and the belief that your puny human brain has the ability to understand the greater mysteries of the universe.  Don't try to define the unknown.  Just let it be.
      5. Give up prayer.  Don't pray for forty days.  Try it.  Quit asking for the universe to bend to your will.  Quit looking for the deus ex machina in your life's struggles.  Quit projecting your own fears and needs onto god in your prayer.  (See tomorrow's post for the continuation of this point.)
           If any of your other free thinkers, post-theists, agnostics, and atheists have other prescriptions for these "Lenten" practices, please add them to the comments below.
           So, what do you believers have to lose?  You can always quit and return to your pre-Lenten ways at any time.  So, what's holding you back.  I dare you.   Give up god for Lent. 

           Tune in tomorrow for An Atheist's Guide to Lent: Part Two, Prayer.

      Monday, February 15, 2010

      Prayer Defining Moments

      PRAY, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
      Ambrose Bierce, 1911

           The Christmas season prayer of Republican Senator Tom Coburn:
          Going into Monday morning's crucial Senate vote on health-care legislation, Republican chances for defeating the bill had come down to a last, macabre hope. They needed one Democratic senator to die -- or at least become incapacitated.
          At 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon -- nine hours before the 1 a.m. vote that would effectively clinch the legislation's passage -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) went to the Senate floor to propose a prayer. "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight," he said. "That's what they ought to pray."
          It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) who has been in and out of hospitals and lay at home ailing. It would not be easy for Byrd to get out of bed in the wee hours with deep snow on the ground and ice on the roads -- but without his vote, Democrats wouldn't have the 60 they needed.
           The prayer of Conservative Christian Republicans:

            Psalm 109:8 states "Let his days be few; and let another take his office."  That's mild compared to what the holy bible says in verses 9-15.
       9 May his children be fatherless
             and his wife a widow.
       10 May his children be wandering beggars;
             may they be driven from their ruined homes.
       11 May a creditor seize all he has;
             may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
       12 May no one extend kindness to him
             or take pity on his fatherless children.
       13 May his descendants be cut off,
             their names blotted out from the next generation.
       14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
             may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
       15 May their sins always remain before the LORD,
             that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.
            Prayer of thanks to god for AIDS and 9/11 and for killing gays and those who support them.  To argue over whether AIDS is god's judgment on gays click here, apparently Pat Robertson called and it's still up for discussion.

            School children were indiscriminately crushed to death in their classrooms during the Haitian earthquake, but one girl (16) pulled from the rubble after fifteen days without a broken bone is a miracle attributed to a loving god.

           Disaster and death of 230,000 = not god's will (although some claim it is).

           Random survivors escape the rubble = god's divine intervention; answered prayers.
      (Photograph taken by Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)

           According to the blog, Republican Faith Chat, don't even think about praying for the Haitians and don't give them money, because that's against god's will.

           But be sure you are praying for Americans to win in the Olympics or for your team to win whatever football, basketball, etc. game you've bet on, because god listens to those prayers.
      I guess these Christian Colts didn't pray hard enough, to beat the Saint of New Orleans, where sinners and homosexuals flash their private parts in the streets for beads and screw in the allies.

      Thursday, January 28, 2010

      The Beat Goes On... (Part Two)

      This is part two of my response to the newly named Archbishop Leonard of Belgium's statement that homosexuality is not normal in the same way that anorexia is not normal.  (Click here for part one.)  Just to refresh your memory, we were back in my seminary days, when I was doing everything I possibly could to stop myself from masturbating and having homosexual feelings and fantasies.

      And, the beat goes on...

      Even if there were prayerful ejaculations, the intrinsically-disordered-yet-god-given sexual longings and attractions persisted.  In these dark-night-of-the-soul moments, I was counseled to sidestep my sexual energy and attractions.  In my mind's eye, I was to open up my personal Internet Explorer—Father Tommy's Brain Browser—and click on my "Favorites" tab.  There I was to have numerous bookmarked options, proven in sidestepping the forbidden urge to purge my testosterone cocktail.

      Here are just a few of the options that my seminary formation team prescribed:
      1.      Pray in Public:  Since offering ejaculations in bed is too risky, why not go down to the chapel and pray before the Blessed Sacrament.  You can’t touch yourself in public, lest you be seen by someone else and reported to the faculty.  But it’s dark in the chapel, and there were so many shadowy options: behind the salty oak shield of an empty pew, the dozen creamy marble side altars, the soundproof anonymity of a desperate confessional, or in the abandoned rafters of the vaulted ceiling.  No, it was safer to pray alone, in your room.

      2.      Exercise:  Exhaust yourself physically so that you don't have any energy left for self-abuse.  But, unless you are pumping iron with your cock, the erections will keep coming.

      3.      Hands above the Sheets:  If you are cursed with nighttime risings and everlasting morning wood, you should sleep with your hands above the sheets.  Of course, what man in their 20s and sexual prime is not "cursed" with such obstacles?  I was told that sleeping with a body pillow helps.  Not at all. It added to the possibilities and made the physical feelings match up realistically with the fantasies.

      4.      Cold Shower: The age old prescription, good for avoiding blindness and hair growth on the palms.  Only, in the seminary, the showers were communal.  Even though everyone had their own little private john and shower cubicle, there was always the fear/fantasy that someone would follow you into your marble-walled closet-sprinkler and take an offering on the tongue.  Not a good place to go when a repressed gay boy can't stop the swelling!

      5.      Physical Punishment:   I never went for this, as I wasn’t into spiritual S&M, like John Paul II and the Opus Dei clan.   It was ludicrous that god had given me the gift of a body so that I could scratch, tear, cut, and whip it for god's pleasure and sexual abuse.  The gift of my psyche was another issue.  I preferred psychological mortification.

      6.      Call Somebody (Preferably Not a 1-900 Number):  My phone bills were huge in seminary, not to 900 numbers!  There was no anonymity when it came to our school disseminated phone bills.  Being in the Eastern Time Zone, I spent the hours between ten and eleven on the phone with friends and family out west.  The trouble, Father, is that you quickly discover there is no even Stephen and that others are more important to you than you to them, because they never call first, and before you know it, you are jealous and they are never off the hook to your own personal needs, and how is that dependency good for celibacy?  Furthermore, you can't call and wake someone at three in the morning when you wake up with your desperate dick in your happy hand, unless they are looking for phone sex, which is not celibacy, Father. Great Scott! Next option, please.

      7.      Go for a Walk with a Friend:   This was a great option; one of my favorites.  I went on walk after walk after walk with friends.  Some of my intimacy needs were met by talking with other closeted gay guys who were secretly going through the same struggle as me.  We waxed theological and philosophical, distancing ourselves from the reality of the wet spots on our flies.  The grounds around the seminary were wooded, an inviting retreat from faculty evaluations and peer scrutiny and a great place for blow jobs, even though I never indulged in that fantasy.  There was always someone else in need of a walk.  The risk of all that walking and talking was getting to close to someone, developing a “particular friendship,” and falling in love.  But gay men were disordered and incapable of falling in real love, so there was really nothing to fear.  Then why did my heart go pitty-pat, when my hand brushed his as we walked under the spring moonlight?  Why do I want to hold his hand?  Why can I not imagine my life without his presence, his friendship, his love?  This love, it is real, right?  It is of god, right?  No!  Dry marriages (that is friendships in which celibates become dependent upon one another and live like spouses even though they are not fucking) are not permitted.  A celibate is to be dependent upon no one, but god Himself (and, of course, holy dysfunctional mother church).

      8.      Release the Energy by Singing:  I spent at least ten minutes a day wailing to some musical theatre anathema, I mean anthem, at the top of my lungs.  I majored in acting in college after all, and the theatre was still in my blood.  So I accessed that musical energy: transcendent, purging, and non-touch.  When I was in a butch mood: Garth Brooks or Clint Black provided the template.  But it was safest to stick to the liturgical music of Marty Haugen, David Hass, or Michael Joncas, but even they can be pushed into the background to become a gay masturbatory score.

      9.      Dance:  Eventually, I started dancing as I sang.  This was holy; good.  I offered my dance, my entire body, my being, my erections to god like David before the arc of the covenant, without apology, without shame.  These were beautiful moments in my prayer life, and left me feeling very close to god, but the erections persisted and so did the need to love and be loved in an incarnate way, not some spiritual Jesus, but actual flesh and blood, touching me, holding me, penetrating me.  In agony, I begged the god of my celibate, closeted forefathers, "Is this too much to ask?"  The Baptists were right.  It’s dangerous to have sex standing up, because it might lead to dancing.

      10.  Go for a Drive: Get lost on the road.  Drive through the countryside.  Lose yourself and your erection in the transcendent landscapes of our great Christian nation, and don’t drink any liquids before leaving.  All those rest stops make tempting cesspits for repressive release.  Everybody knows what goes on in those bushes.  But, there are always cops in the bushes, so resist.  Resist!  I did. Still, that didn't help, for it is possible to drive one's stick shift while on the road.   But, the risks are great, who wants to lose control and pull a solo Parenthood?  Imagine the head-lines! 

      11.  Go for a Hike:  Get back to nature.  Feel the earth beneath your feet, the sunlight on your nose, and the wind through your hairy forearms.  Know that the universe transcends you and your celibate struggles.  Commune with the gurgling brooks.  Whistle with the birds.  Walk St. Francis' path.  Only whatever you do, don't hug the trees.  Flora abuse!  Don't pee behind the boulders!  Don't follow the fantasy that the bearded, bearish, sparkle-eyed man with the walking stick and tarnished wedding ring that just greeted you on the path, also looked you up and down, before offering you a willing smile, and inviting, "It's a great day to be alone in the woods, isn't it?"  No!  Don't go there! You sick, perverted, depraved Sodomite!  He's married. There's no way that was a come on.  Stay on the path, the narrow, well-trodden path.  No backwoods ministry for you!  Focus on the smell of the earth, the mushrooms, not Mr. Lumberjack's juicy, musky, begging, loneliness.  That is your own.  Find god in your loneliness!  You are in the desert, not the woods.  Embrace the desert.

      12.  Journal: Don't touch yourself, instead grab your pen and the spiral bound pad on your bedside.  Free write for god.  Offer it all up on paper.  Work it out there.  Pray-write it away.  I have notebooks, leather bound journals, and loose leaf sheets covered with all the sexual urges and tears that I exorcised via my journals while a seminarian and a priest.  But still, it's just paper, and the need to seed never went away.

      13.  Learn to Play and Instrument (other than your organ): Try sitting at a piano in the chapel and plunking out "Home on the Range" and "Fur Elise" while other are trying to pray.  It's not going to happen.  So, buy a guitar, play in your own private room.  I did and again "Home on the Range" got old fast.  I did get myself up to about a third grade level of guitar playing.  I told myself it was a humbling experience, god putting me in my place.  But I had to be sure to only strum the guitar's chords.

      14.  Go Out with Friends:  as long as your friends are also closeted and celibate and that you don't go to any questionable (off campus) venues.  I never went to a gay bar until after I'd left the priesthood, and even then it was a traumatic experience, so indoctrinated I was to believe that just entering a place like that would give me a venereal disease or that I'd immediately be gang raped by lecherous, dirty, old men .  After all, if priests were hitting on me throughout college and seminary, it had to be so much worse in gay bar, right?

           If all else failed, and ultimately it did, I was counseled to picture a big red stop sign in my mind and silently scream "STOP!"
      This is how I was to treat my sexual urges, thoughts, and fantasies.  I was to order them to stop.  I was to sidestep them and ultimately compartmentalize and repress them, all under the guise of celibacy for the kingdom of god, because for a homosexual Catholic, whether or not s/he is a priest, brother, or nun, the only option for one's sexual salvation is celibacy.

      And that, according to Archy Leo, Pope Ben, and Catholic moralists around the world is normal.