December 6, 2011

Supernatural Before It’s Natural

If you were to travel back 500 years and tell people then that we can light up a room by flipping a switch on a wall, what would they think? They’d probably think it’s magic. They’d probably try to burn you for being a witch. Or they’d probably think you’re lying, that it’s impossible. They’d probably think lighting a room by a simple switch on a wall rather than lighting a candle or lantern is just some supernatural, science fiction idea.

But now, we have long since harnessed electricity and made it light our rooms as well as do a zillion other things. It’s not some crazy supernatural idea anymore. It’s not something only perhaps some divine power can do. It’s something that through many discoveries we’ve found how to do ourselves, that such a power already exists in the natural world.

Then there’s the electromagnetic spectrum. We can only see visible light, but of course the spectrum is a hell of a lot bigger than that, with all the microwaves and infrared, and on the other side ultraviolet and ionizing radiation. But we have little to no way of knowing these invisible wavelengths are there without special technology. Before such a thing was known, if the idea of undetectable waves flying around were suggested, you’d seem crazy, like you’re believing in things you can’t prove. Although, as we now know, more accurately that statement would be “things you can’t prove YET”. Up until that point, the idea of such invisible energy was perhaps… a supernatural concept.

All that said, I do tire of religious people using “there’s so much in the universe we can’t explain” to essentially mean “so there must be a God!” Um, no shit there’s so much we can’t explain. Earth is the only part of the universe we know all that well and can live on (as of right now anyway), and even here on our own planet there’s so much undiscovered. Even as far as we’ve come, we’ve barely even left tiny scratches in the surface of all there is. But that doesn’t translate to “God did it”. It translates to “we just haven’t discovered it yet”.
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December 25, 2010

Frohe Weihnachten!

Filed under: Christmas Time!,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 11:09 pm

“Just look at us now, part of it all. In spite of it all, we’re still around! So wake up the kids, put on some tea, let’s light up the tree. It’s Christmas Day!” -Neil Diamond, You Make It Feel Like Christmas

Here we are again. It is Christmas Day! Through another year since the last one, we have lasted. Yay!

As usual, yesterday was another run of Christmas Eve, the longest day of the year. The Christmas Eve runaround leading up to the relative lull that is Christmas Day. Started with waking up, running to work to change a temperature chart, back home, wrapping presents, watching specials, listening to Christmas music, etc. All the way until around 7pm when once again my family went to my mom’s Greek friend’s Christmas Eve party. Ate lots of delicious food as usual, then I went to the 11pm Christmas Eve service at church like always. Wearing my Santa hat.

And listened to the sermon, which was about It’s a Wonderful Life, which the priest admitted to only recently watching all the way through the first time (iknorite?!) even though the church had been doing some activity before then supposedly about the movie. So, in other words, the priest admitted to professing to know about something that he in fact knew little about. Bizarre! :cute:

Well, part of surviving a church service when one has ideologically pulled away from Christianity like I have is to look at the whole thing as just some story everyone there is making a celebration of. Pretend nobody actually takes this seriously but that this is all just for fun. Hey, for most of the people there, that may actually be the case!

Once more, after communion, we all held candles, turned out the lights, and sang Silent Night. With joy.

And once more, upon the choir walking back down the aisle, we all sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Which I felt tempted to finish with a loud cheerful “Hell yeah!” But I resisted. Sorry. 😛

Then I talked to the priest, who’s known me for a while. I told him my realization about O Come All Ye Faithful.

Then I thanked him for not being Fred Phelps, and he took that as a compliment. 😆

Went home and prepared last few gifts.

And the NYRA website, which had been down for several horrible days, had at last come back. Just in time for Christmas! Christmas miracle.

Then went upstairs to my living room, on which I had put my colored lights. I gazed out at the divine night sky, watching for Santa…

And off in the distance, under a tower with one of them blinking red lights…

I saw a star.

I think. A star there in the night sky on Christmas Eve…

Or, no, it was actually the big electric star that on a tower that some nearby company puts up every year.

Hmmm… what a time to first notice I’m able to see it from my house! 🙂

So I unplug the lights for the night and go to bed.

And in the morning…

It’s snowing.

Ever so lightly. No real accumulation. I wondered just what does and doesn’t qualify as a White Christmas. Do Christmas morning flurries count? Does it count if it’s leftover snow from several days ago? Does it count if it doesn’t snow until later in the day?

In any case, I drove to my family’s house with the tiny Christmas snowflakes whirling around me, and arrived at the house to my very excited little brother, who got a fancy new train set, and is right now running that train round and round and round and round…

And has been using the new saucer sled he got from Santa as a flying saucer full of aliens attacking the train!

And we had our feast, our feast of roast beast.

What does Christmas have in common with the United States?

They’re both crazy mixtures of stuff from a crapload of different cultures… yet white Christian conservatives seem to think they belong only to them.

And the Dallas Cowboys lost. Sweet.

Christmas.

Yeah.

December 10, 2010

Old Songs Are Old

You know what’s cool about some Christmas carols? Like the super old ones, like Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing? They’ve been around a long ass time.

I was watching the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol this evening, and when Scrooge is with Christmas Present he’s watching his nephew and the Cratchits in church. Where everyone was singing O Come All Ye Faithful. And then I just got this feeling, that this movie from 1938, about a story written and taking place in like 1850 or so, features a church service where they are singing O Come All Ye Faithful. The very same O Come All Ye Faithful I’ll be singing at a church service on Christmas Eve here in 2010.

Times like this I understand more why people cling to their religions and/or traditions. Not so much necessarily any ideological reasons, but that belonging to some long-running chain of events, that makes one feel part of that something bigger, yet in a sense that each one of us is significant in it. Something like that.

When I went to London last year, I visited Saint Paul’s Cathedral, which has been there for like over a millennium. Or, more accurately, since it was rebuilt after that big ass London fire in like 1666 or something, but in any case, that site has been used for religious purposes for that millennium or so. While I was there, they did a quick afternoon service and some choir was singing. And I thought while sitting there that here I was, witnessing yet another service in the countless number of them that had been going on there since so very many centuries ago. Neat.

Christmas songs are perhaps my favorite thing about the season, what with embodying all the traditions have been swept into the veritable Katamari that Christmas is, as well as the general joy. And music is fun anyway!

And I wonder that a century from now, two centuries from now, they’ll still be singing Silent Night and Angels We Have Heard on High, as well as the newer but just as fun and meaningful songs, and the even more Christmas songs that have yet to be composed. Now that’s what I call seeing Christmas Past, Present, and Future!

December 9, 2010

The One About Jesus

Did I ever tell you the story about Santa Claus? He’s the guy who lives at the North Pole for some reason and has a magic sleigh and reindeer with which he zips around the world Christmas Eve night and delivers presents to everyone!

Did I ever tell you the one about Santa’s ninth reindeer, Rudolph? He was born with a glowing red nose, and the other reindeer bullied him over it, until one foggy Christmas Eve, when Santa couldn’t fly anywhere because magic sleighs and flying reindeer are no match for ordinary fog that apparently covers the entire world, they realized Rudolph’s red nose makes a fine fog light, so they were able to go out after all.
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September 29, 2010

Religious Identity

Filed under: Decrees!,The Occasional Godliness,What the hell? — Katrina @ 11:17 pm

I hereby decree…

I get to choose my own religious identity. You do not.

You know how annoying it is for people to decide for you which religious (or any other for that matter) box you fit in? Especially when it is contrary to what you have explicitly stated?

Some people fit in the neat little box of Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, whatever. But not everybody does, in fact I’m certain most people don’t. And that’s where people get confused.

While I don’t really consider myself non-Christian, lately I’ve been going by Secular Theist. When asked what that means, I say “I believe God exists but I don’t believe in doing anything about it.”

And people totally just nod and say that’s cool…

Oh, wait, no they don’t. They instead insist I’m really agnostic. 🙄

Fuck you, I’m not agnostic. I do believe God exists. Agnostics believe there’s no way to know and may or may not lean either way. I do know God exists.

Or then I get called a Deist. No, I’m not damn Deist, either. Deists believe God created the universe. I do not believe God had anything to do with that. So, no, not a Deist.

Then they get really confused that I don’t believe in a Creator. So that must mean I’m really an Atheist!

No! I’m not an Atheist. What did I just say? I DO believe in God. Just because I may agree with most atheists when it comes to religious fundamentalism run amok, such as the God in School entry a few days ago, doesn’t mean I’m an atheist myself. Just because my belief in God doesn’t take the same form as that of most other theists, doesn’t mean I’m not still a theist.

Or then I get the “oh, you just THINK you aren’t an atheist but you totally are, lulz!” Funny, if I were an atheist, wouldn’t I then be smart enough to be able to have a better idea of my own religious identity than YOU? That must mean I’m either a stupid atheist or an intelligent theist. Can that idea sink into your mind? LOL PARADOX!

Or can you try the idea of not assigning useless labels to people based on what specific ideologies they may have? Or is that too hard?

September 20, 2010

God in School

Filed under: The Occasional Godliness,What the hell? — Katrina @ 1:14 pm

Saw the following on a t-shirt not too long ago, and pretty sure I’ve seen it elsewhere as well. Don’t recall exact text, so here’s a paraphrasing.

Dear God,
Why do you allow so much violence in my school?
-A Concerned Student

Dear Concerned Student,
I’m not allowed in school.
-God

Okay, hold still while I feed you this tuna sandwich, full of omega-3s to help your brain heal from that.

This is the sort of thing your average social conservative may nod along with, believing a “healthy dose of Jesus” is the cure to everything. Because if only these kids had good old religion in their lives, schools (and everywhere else) would be a haven of peace and love!
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December 2, 2009

Inaction of Grace

Filed under: Christmas Time!,The Occasional Godliness,Think About It! — Katrina @ 9:39 am

So last week on Thanksgiving, I was at my family’s house and we were sitting down for our turkey dinner, which was late because Thanksgiving dinner really shouldn’t be served when it’s dark outside unless it’s the second one of the day. My mom is the type of person who doesn’t know shit about religion but clings to certain aspects for no other reason than “you’re supposed to”, which I suppose fits her right in with a good 95% of the world’s population. So when all of us are sitting at the table, she starts to say a prayer of thanks, and my dad puts his head down, too. My brother and I, on the other hand, are having no part of it. I just went ahead and kept eating, and he didn’t join in since he saw I wasn’t. My mom noticed he didn’t and was all like “why didn’t you pray?” and he’s like “Katrina didn’t either!”
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March 20, 2009

Smack My Bishop

Filed under: The Occasional Godliness,What the hell? — Katrina @ 10:00 pm

Bishop Excommunicates Mother and Doctors of 9yo Girl’s Abortion

:dubious:

Basically, a 9-year-old girl in Brazil was raped by her stepfather, and she got pregnant with twins. Doctors determined she wouldn’t be able to survive the pregnancy so they had to terminate it to save her life. Even to prolifers like me, sounds reasonable. Rape and the mother’s life being on the line are generally the exceptions to the “abortion is wrong” idea, and this is clearly both. Unfortunate, yes, but obviously necessary, and honestly, there is just all around nothing whatsoever fortunate about this situation.
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December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad

Filed under: Christmas Time!,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 10:28 pm

Once more, Christmas has come upon us. Christmas of 2008, the year which has proven to be truly a year where anything can happen and most likely will. Yesterday, was another Christmas Eve, living up to its reputation, to me anyway, of being the longest day of the year. From still having to go to work, to having to stay at work a little after when the boss told us to go on home (11:30am) to wait for some FedEx package that I ended up giving up on, to finishing the wrapping of presents, to annoying family, to briefly stopping by a party being held by my mom’s Greek friend (i.e. there were like 100 people there and a fuckton of Greek food!), to getting to the late night Christmas Eve church service where I totally wore my Santa hat the whole time!

And an amazing thing happened.

Well, okay, it’s not that amazing. Anyway, near the end of the service, after communion, came time to sing Silent Night. Usually, with the lights low and everyone holding candles and the general mood of it, one can get a little emotional and teary-eyed. Not this time!

Good. Getting emotional like that is a minor loss of self control. Instead of the message being an emotional one, now the same tune and words, they brought happiness and a smile. Why? Emotions are weakness and a vulnerability. What good is being an emotional idiot over some religious passage? None. Instead, the words meant pretty much nothing, and there was merely a triumphant smile.

Yeah, Jesus is born, here to save us, blah blah blah… whatever. I do what I want. So I’m happy! And it’s the only way good can get done regardless of motivation. It’s a nice story, sure, and whether or not it’s true doesn’t really matter that much to me. That’s all fine and good, but the real question is what specifically I’m supposed to do about it. If anything, no different from what is done already. So what difference does it make?

Okay, one difference. And I’d rather be happy and smiling.

Merry Christmas!

December 21, 2008

Mary Magdalene

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Decrees!,Estrogen,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 11:01 pm

I hereby decree…

Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute!

It’s a sort of “common knowledge” tidbit about the Bible that gets circulated around. Everyone is all like “ooh, Mary Magdalene was a hooker and then she found Jesus and was changed.” It gets believed she was the woman they were throwing stones at when Jesus made his famous declaration that only he who is without sin may cast the first stone at her.

But if you actually read the passage in the Bible (it’s in Luke somewhere), you see the woman there is not named.

So where are you people getting this?

I mean, it makes for a bit of an inspiring little story that even this unclean whore could still rise up to being one of Jesus’s disciples, in an unofficial sense. Or his wife depending on who you ask. But that is just not what’s in the story, whether the canon gospels or the lost ones.

Hell, isn’t there enough made up shit in scripture as it is? Must we add to it?

December 19, 2008

Little Drummer Warners

Now, for a divine, animated edition of…

Here’s to You!

So I raise my glass and say, “Here’s to you, Animaniacs!”

I made of mention of this in last year’s Secular Specials entry, where I mentioned the reasons some Christmas specials tend to not touch the story of Jesus’s birth much (or it at least might seem that way). Basically, it’s safer not to. With all these oversensitive Christian morons running around, one false step on the sacred ground that is the nativity story could have like 5,000 midwestern churches wanting your head on a platter. Yet you might have these same people also whining that Jesus is being phased out of Christmas, a doublespeak typical of evangelicals. They want Jesus to get more of a mention, but if you try, they pipe up with “YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!” And because doing the nativity story can have the side effect of coming off as proselytizing, makes it all the more appealing to just stick to other Christmas stories.
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December 9, 2008

The Little Tree

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Idiot Box,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 10:12 pm

So I was watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas last night and noticed something. What’s the “moral” to the story? The thing about Linus telling about Jesus and all. Perhaps. My dad sure likes to talk about how great it is that it focuses on Jesus like that, taking the time to go into another ignorant diatribe about how “the Jews are making it illegal to mention Jesus!”.

But the story continued after Linus’s soliloquy. Charlie Brown was now smiling as he took the tree out of the auditorium, and then came the real moral to the story, one that rings true for a lot of people during the holiday season. When he said this line: “I’m not going to let all this commercialism ruin MY Christmas!”
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March 17, 2008

Holy Week, Batman!

Filed under: The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 10:18 pm

It’s that time of year again! It’s the week of the first full moon of the spring, yet it’s a somber week of reflection on, well, just how nasty humans can be. But we try to better ourselves, and prove it by giving things up for Lent, I guess. A meatless Good Friday ensues, followed by a cautious Saturday, and a joyous Easter Sunday as the day of bunnies and eggs and Zombie Jesus.
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December 24, 2007

He Shall Bring Us Goodness and Light

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Musical Musing,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 4:04 pm

Have you heard the sound of the angel voices
Ringing out so sweetly, ringing out so clear?
Have you seen the star shining out so brightly
As a sign from God that Christ the Lord is here?
Have you heard the news that they bring from heaven
To the humble shepherds who have waited long?
Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Hear the angels sing their joyful song.

He is come in peace in the winter’s stillness
Like a gentle snowfall in the gentle night
He is come in joy like the sun at morning
Filling all the world with radiance and with light.
He is come in love as the child of Mary
In a simple stable we have seen His birth
Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Hear the angels singing “Peace on earth!”

He will bring new light to a world in darkness,
Like a bright star shining in the skies above
He will bring new hope to the waiting nations
When he comes to reign in purity and love.
Let the earth rejoice at the Savior’s coming
Let the heavens answer with the joyful morn.
Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Hear the angels singing “Christ is born!”

December 21, 2007

Secular Specials

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Idiot Box,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 11:53 pm

So the other night, my dad was commenting about the Charlie Brown Christmas special, and how it’s different from all the other specials in that it mentions Jesus. This was, of course, accompanied with some whining about “oh noes, Jesus can’t be mentioned because the Jews and Muslims would complain!”
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December 10, 2007

Jesus Is Love

Filed under: Christmas Time!,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 10:01 pm

For obvious reasons, this is the time of year I’m the most pious. All the Christmas songs, I suppose, being about Jesus and how great He is. The joy of His birth. Mmmm, nice.

As I mentioned several weeks back when ranting about atheists, identifying myself as Christian tends to confuse people. They’ll come up with all sorts of stereotypes and presumptions about my character, as well as what my exact beliefs must be. And when I say that my personal belief system does not align with what they’re telling me Christians all are supposed to believe, I get to be told that I either don’t understand my own religion or I’m not really Christian.
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October 28, 2007

Halloween Is Evil

Filed under: The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 5:26 pm

And that’s why it’s awesome.

Candy and costumes. Good fun!

Of course, you get these religious losers who scream and cry that Halloween is evil and is a Satanic celebration.

Oh, yeah? So let me get this straight. Halloween is about pretending to be scary monsters such as ghosts, witches, or Bill O’Reilly. Not being scared of these monsters that want to rip out your soul and eat it. Not trembling in fear of these demons that want you to lie, cheat, steal, and shop at Wal-Mart. To put on costumes pretending to be them and eats lots of candy. This is a recipe for having a good time.

So, basically, the epitome of making fun of all that is evil, trivializing it, doing the exact opposite of falling prey to it, somehow constitutes a Satanic celebration?

Well, maybe I just don’t understand these things as well as they do then. That’s what they’d tell me at least.

February 6, 2007

Seven Deadly Sins

Filed under: Decrees!,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 7:32 pm

I hereby decree…

Life’s too short for the seven deadly sins.

I’ve been thinking about these for the past couple of days. Pride. Gluttony. Lust. Anger. Sloth. Greed. Envy.

And those are all a damn waste of time. I’d say they are sins for good reason. They suck! They all make you act like an irrational moron and possibly hurt yourself and those you care about. Let’s go through them.
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December 24, 2006

Night Divine

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Musical Musing,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 5:23 pm

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing, “Alleluia!”

Christ the Savior is born.
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus, Lord, at thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth

December 19, 2006

All About Christmas

Lights please! *holds blanket*

And there were in the same country shepherds, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14

And that’s what Christmas is all about. Why thank you, Saint Luke.

Although, last year, I have my own say in what Christmas is about. Newest addition to Eight Mine Fortress section Lore Galore!

The Story of Christmas

Enjoy! 😀

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