Oh the Cognitive Dissonance!

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, officially Preacher of the Papal Household (Tyson lifts left eyebrow, scratches head), thinks the atheist bus ads released last year have helped to serve God’s cause.”

Ok, that’s cool, I can see how something of the sort might cause a backlash and energize the faithful–makes sense to me. But then he says this:

Suffering is certainly a mystery for everyone, especially the suffering of innocent people, but without faith in God it becomes immensely more absurd.

Um… what?! Suffering only makes sense if there is a loving, caring God watching over us as we fulfill his master plan for the universe? You mean, if we are naturally evolved beings struggling to survive in a sometimes hostile world, each of us slightly different than the other, carrying our small genetic mutations forward into an ecosystem that cannot possibly support every living creature, having to both cooperate and to compete for our own and our offspring’s survival–that in such a case suffering does NOT make sense, our lives are somehow MORE absurd?

Father Cantalamessa, can’t you see that suffering only becomes understandable IF we are natural beings in a natural world? Otherwise you will be forced to invent a plethora of complicated excuses for your “loving” God to justify our suffering. You will have to posist that somehow we have angered or disobeyed him, you will have to imagine that in our suffering we deserve it, you will need to imagine that we are both free but also fulfilling His plan at the same time, you will need to invent elaborate contortions of logic to account for natural disasters and child-rapists and reality TV shows… Oh, Father Cantalmessa, what is going on in that head of yours? I must have missed-out on that mutation…

Will the Holocaust Denying “Bishop” Deny his Denial?

Bishop Richard Williams, the fake British Bishop that Pope Benedict recently readmitted into the Catholic fold, is going to have to eat some crow it seems:

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Vatican Secretariat of State said that Bishop Williamson “must absolutely, unequivocally and publicly distance himself from his positions on the Shoah,” or Holocaust, or else he would not be allowed to serve as a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church.

The guy has balls, that’s for sure — first he had himself  ordained without the Vatican’s permission, then he gets himself excommunicated by Pope John Paul II — all the while walking around saying things like this: 

There was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies. The Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new State of Israel…. Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil, and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism.

But will he have the balls (or is it spinelessness?) to stand up and recant his years of anti-semitism? Oh, I’d love to see it — is that petty of me?

In any case, here’s a clip that shows just how smug and dismally uninformed (or is it “in denial”) the guy is:

For a far more thoughtful and complete account of the situation, I recommend going here.

Stuff God Hates: #59 Pigeons

OMG, this is some funny, funny, funny shit…

http://stuffgodhates.com/

Plus, I finally learned what “snarge” means!

Church to Ensure Virgin Sightings Are Not Demonic Hallucinations… Seriously!

The Independent is reporting that new guidelines to be issued by the Vatican will ensure that henceforth only “real” miraculous sightings of the Virgin Mary will be made public. I suppose they are tired of all those non-miraculous sightings. My favorite part of the story was this line:

If the visionary is considered credible they will ultimately be questioned by one or more demonologists and exorcists to exclude the possibility that Satan is hiding behind the apparitions in order to deceive the faithful.

Advertising Board to Rule on the Existence of God

Ooooo… this is getting good!

It seems that some folks have launched complaints about the Atheist “Ads” on British buses. At least one complainant is objecting to the ads on “factual” grounds:

Stephen Green, the Christian campaigner who led the protests against the BBC’s broadcast of Jerry Springer – The Opera, is claiming they should be taken down because the statement in the adverts cannot be substantiated. 

He said: “If you’re going to put out what appears to be a factual statement then you have to be able to back it up. They’ve got to substantiate this proposition that in all probability, God doesn’t exist.” 

The ASA is now considering whether to investigate his complaint, which could lead to it reaching a deep ontological conclusion about a supreme being. 

If it ruled that the wording in the posters was unsubstantiated, it would be interpreted as effectively saying that in all probability God does exist. 

Ruling that the words were justified could be taken as an agreement that God probably does not exist. 

How interesting would that be, if the ASA rules (either way), and then it’s appealed to the courts?! I would seriously have to consider quitting my job, moving to England, and live-blogging the entire spectacle!

News of the Obvious: Teens like getting it on

The Washington Post reports: Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective.

Despite the demise of bands like Warrant and Poison, teens like getting it on, no matter who they promise they won’t — and they’re not always safe about it:

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a “virginity pledge,” but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

I’ve known for a long time that the only way to make abstinence work is to lock the teenager in your basement. Which reminds me, this will have to be a short piece as I have to take more Papa John’s and Fanta down to the basement. (Teens also eat a lot!)

Some other gems from the article:

“Previous studies would compare a mixture of apples and oranges,” Rosenbaum said. “I tried to pull out the apples and compare only the apples to other apples.”

Well, Dr Rosenbaum, we all know the kind of trouble that apples have been credited with starting.

This somewhat good news, that it may take more than a simple pledge to keep teens in the know about sex and its consequences received a befuddling reaction from the National Abstinence Education Association:

“Abstinence education programs provide accurate information on the level of protection offered through the typical use of condoms and contraception,” she [Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association ] said. “Students understand that while condoms may reduce the risk of infection and/or pregnancy, they do not remove the risk.”

The message here would seem to be that abstinence is best prevention, because if you can’t start the car, you can’t crash it. But if you’re going to drive, fuck the seatbelts because they’re not 100% foolproof.

Old Soldiers: The Favre/McCain Connection

Long ago I promised you a piece on the similar stylings of Brett Favre and John McCain. Out of deference to Favre I had to wait until the NFL season finished and Favre’s blimp of a career set the horizon on fire in Hindenberg fashion — although my inner football fan wanted to write this piece weeks ago, as early as the election. As I stated in an earlier comment: Favre is to football what McCain is to politics.

Both men, it is now known, went down in defeat this year, likely final defeat, served up by opponents that can rightly be described as “up and coming.” For McCain, the rising star of Barack Obama; for Favre, the Lazarus-like Miami Dolphins.  In each case, their character and hubris was the key factor in their fall.

Both can be characterized as “old soldiers.” McCain in the literal sense, Favre in the way that Americans laud the leaders of their football squads. The images of McCain’s POW days, his fiery temper, his penchant for reform and “maverick-ness” juxtapose nicely with the images of the grizzled, unshaven Favre, breathing steam in the cold, playing hurt, and never saying die. A broken body wouldn’t make McCain give up or Favre come out of the game. Both were unquestionably heroes, even to those who opposed and hated them. McCain for being the firebrand who would run counter to prevailing Congressional wisdom, Favre for being the gutty leader who, as a fan, you could tolerate losing to.

For reasons entirely within their control, however, memories of both will have a different tinge than bronze-bust-ready, Hall of Fame-Commemorative Stamp one described above. If a high water mark or defining moment in the downward slide of these two had to be picked, I suppose one could throw a dart somewhere around the Spring of 2006 when Favre first hemmed and hawed about his plans for the next year and when McCain made a trip to Liberty University to preside over the graduation ceremony of those he had previously criticized as “agents of ignorance.”  Favre appeared to have nothing left in the tank and McCain appeared to be falling in with the conservative bedfellows he eschewed. Thus commenced the wearing thin.

And it was a wearing thin indeed — the final unraveling took time. McCain’s political career survived and Favre’s passing career stayed alive. McCain’s enough to push him to the front of the Republican heap in no time and allow a cakewalk to the nomination; Favre’s season impressive enough to stir up talk that the MVP caliber Favre had returned. The final blow to these halcyon commanders likely came sometime this past summer-again throw a dart in August. Favre who had retired, held the nation and Green Bay Packers hostage in a multi-week soap opera, petitioning for his return, that ended in the severing of ties with Green Bay and a trade to New York-not a likely destination for a southern boy who preferred wood chopping to wine. About this time, the number of McCain’s residences became national news, he picked a running mate that hearkened more to conservative culture than to Maverick and as days wore on McCain had to throw more traditional conservative (read divisive) hay makers to try to sway the polling. Favre could at least throw touchdowns, for a few more weeks.

Ultimately we know how McCain’s tactics played out, and on Election Night, some of the grace of McCain appeared to have returned. And now we know how it turned out for Favre. Two “Stevie Wonder” quality interceptions in a must win game; no offseason; talk of being mentally fatigued and his body aching. Favre’s past mistakes were always excused by his lust for winning: He’s just having fun, he just wants to win, he just wants to compete. And perhaps in time McCain’s nastiness and desperation during the campaign will be regarded in a similar light. But for now, we’ve seen two swan songs. It’s time for the two old soldiers to fade away.