Christ’s Suicide and Easter

christ's suicideMy daughter returned from a trip with friends and had to listen to christian radio on the way. She lost interest in Easter; it’s about suicide! Our family had to somehow recover it as a spring holiday. An excuse for feasting, lots of protein, consuming our last home raised ham, curried tofu, green beans, potatoes, and being together as family.

Why would churches be against suicide except for a prophet who claims to be the son of god? How could it be a suicide if Christ knew he would be alive anyway? How is suicide bad if the next world is with god as claimed? How would he be giving up his son if he knew he would become alive or if there were some sort of autonomy-connection-awareness within the triune god? Wars and ostracism have been committed based on the appealed veracity of these distinctions. It’s also why faith of immortality cares less about the truth of it but rather the hope for it. It can’t possibly make sense and that’s its value. To be beyond reason. You can’t easily argue the absurd from within.

The meme that Christ desired to be crucified to redeem the sins of all humans is the cornerstone of christian faith for most. It is what separates the old from the new testament. In order to redeem the Judaic text, the old testament, and not blame Jews for allowing Christ to be killed, Christ has to allow himself to be killed in passive suicide. This has many troublesome issues only the faithful can support. It would have been much less interesting if Christ had stabbed himself to death. The grotesque images of Christ bleeding on a cross resonate deeply. Far beyond the merit of the act. Yet suicide is contagious and becomes its own problem.

The act of living may require more courage than suicide. But for the sake of a good story Christ had to die and the church needed a Paul to create and spread the memes. It is the idea of sacrifice that counts and not how much sacrifice it really is. Confabulating son and father, mortality and immortality, just adds icing to the cake. Think of how a small gesture like taking out the garbage, or doing the dishes, or working late adds to a relationship. Once trusted the gifts need not be so great.

Just how courageous was Jesus? Most men and women would give up their life for their families. Soldiers routinely give up their lives for the group or just for the idea of bravery and courage, to be boldly brave. Terrorist attacks show how individuals will risk all to save the group when if they were passive they most likely would not be harmed. Again and again we have examples of how people will sacrifice themselves for others they do not even know, strangers even.  It’s hard to know who really is a stranger; we all know more strangers than friends and family now.

Would you kill yourself for six friends, 10, 20, 100 or 1,000? If you knew you could stop global warming would you commit suicide? Would you let yourself go when the lifeboat is too full to hold even just one more or would you swamp the raft? Would you jeopardize your life on a  Everest climb by attempting to rescue another disabled climber?

Over and over I hear and read of stories of bravery and courage where the degree of cost, the importance of success, are far less than that of Jesus. If what he believed was true his suicide was a no brainer and hardly merits slight respect. I would bet that nearly everyone would commit suicide if they knew they were saving their entire community. The real question is who would not commit suicide for their family of life?

Jim Newman, bright and well

Saudi Arabia Declares Atheists Terrorists

king-abdullahIn an attempt to silence political dissent Saudi Arabia rebrands atheists as terrorists and of course anyone who disagrees with wahhabi is an atheist.

Article one of the new provisions defines terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based”.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, said: “Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism.

The laws are also meant to stop peaceful protestors and to prevent Saudis from fighting in Syria and gaining weird ideas against monarchy.

Might want to delay that trip to Dubai.

We would never have had this problem if these nomadic tribalists had not been living on top of enough oil to make them the worlds biggest producers back in the 70′s. Further if we had paid any attention at all to the evidence of global warming already present then and changed our energy demands. Further if globalization had meant supportive commerce and not coercion to conservative policy.

Jim Newman, bright and well

Tomas Halik Wins Templeton with Fuzzy Catholicism

Tomas_HalikTomas Halik thinks he stumps atheists when he says his god is a mystery and poses the question of what does god look like? I think god looks like Tomas Halik…

That is why I like to begin my dialogues with atheists with the question, “What does this God, in whom you do not believe, look like?” and sometimes, after my partner in dialogue tells me about his image of God – as a heavenly policeman or a big daddy behind the scenes of our world – I say, “Thank God you do not believe in such a God! I don’t believe in such a God either.”

Huh? How in hell would we know what god looks like? Atheists trusting there is no god means we can’t possibly describe a nonexistent thing because existence precedes essence. How can we describe something that has no trace–what qualities does nothing-yet-shown have? This is a transparent rhetorical trap. This is beyond bullshit to sophistry that has nothing to do with examining the topic nor even discussing the god of his, Tomas Halik’s, bible–only a god that looks like Halik.

Ordained a Catholic priest he knows damned well how the bible and his Catholicism describes god. By claiming god is a mystery and unknowable, multilayered, he sets himself apart from the vast majority and becomes a gnostic mystic at best and just plain bullshitter at worst. The Council of Nicea made sure to exclude all of the mystics and gnostics from the bible(s).

He marches in bright compliance to the Templeton Prize ($1.8 million) which he won this year. Which means he is a professional bullshitter. The Temlpeton foundation wishes to get people to believe in religion by diluting it to any kind of goodness or value as spirit.

…affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.

Halik sounds like A New Age wonder boy. Get the crystals and drums.

 He is a great Mystery. Sometimes I find myself agreeing with atheists when they say there is no God, if by that they mean there is not a God who is “a thing among other things.” In this they are correct.

Bullshit. He like other Templeton misfits make absolute claims to things. (Even his idea is a thing. Even his mystery is a thing. Masturbating with words won’t help.)

  • If you’re altruistic there is god.
  • If you have feelings of awe there is god.
  • If you have feelings of humility there is god.
  • If you have a sense that there is more there is god.
  • If you have a sense of authority there is god.
  • If you doubt there is god.
  • If you eat there is god.
  • If you orgasm there is god.
  • If you just believe, make the leap, there is god.
  • God exists… God moves us…God makes us…

And on and on. Hailk speaks that there is a heaven, eternal life, and on and on. Halik in no way believes god is mystery or he would shut up about it and get on with living a moral life. Even if he denied every bit of all Abrahamic documents he would worship the mystery and do good having faith that god wants him to do good, whatever good means–how would you know by your god? Maybe god wants the poor to suffer, die, messaging a lesson–how do you know in any way what god thinks once you abandon your canon. The fact that you do abandon some canon shows you think your church is bullshit.

Why don’t you be honest? Quit the wrong-headed church and just live a moral life as a fellow human? Start a secular organization to which all may attend.

But then, quite often, this partner in dialogue will admit, “But you know, I am not an obtuse materialist either. I also know there is ‘something’ beyond us.” This is why I say that the most influential religion in the Czech Republic today is not atheism, but “something-ism”: People believe that there must besomething, even though they will not call it “God.” And this is a challenge for the theologian, to continue this dialogue and to interpret this “something.”

More legerdemain. Aaaah, atheists really do believe in something. They usually confess. And that something must be Halik’s catholic god. And anything that remotely seems spiritual proves catholicism true! Albeit a nonpope god, silly Vatican boys. If the church is stupid leave it. Start another one that is mystery based and shut up about god’s qualities to the rest of us that can’t possibly comprehend this solipsistic mystery of yours? You don’t need to know any kind of god to be good. Knowing god seems to be getting in your way of being good–you spend so much time denying the qualities of god all of your churches espouse.

The only truth I can find in the entire article about him at Templeton is

Truth happens in the course of dialogue.

And that has nothing to do with his catholicism–even with a small c. Dogma, cannon, hierarchy, testaments, church councils and revelation. He double talks his mystery. I don’t know yet I do…

Halík examines topics including whether evil in the world proves there is no God and whether God is an answer or a question.

Aaah, doubting is proof of god. Whatever you think god is it must be wrong but you have the answer. Fine throw away all of the sacred texts then and make no claims as to what god is, including his existence on any level other than some Schopenhauer sense that if you think something it must in some way be real. I trust there is no god and we’d better start treating the Earth better or go extinct. Tend the poor, help the infirm, save the Earth and shut up about the mystery of which you know no qualities.

But people of mature faith, when they come to this crossroads, are able to move forward. They move forward as believers, in spite of their doubts. Their main trait is the courage to enter into the mystery of God, into unknown territory, and not become exasperated. They can withstand the mystery of the unknown and they can withstand their own uncertainties. In this life, as St. Paul told us, “we see though a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). It is only in the final eschaton that we shall see God face to face.

Freaky New Age crap. Love is God. I thought god was a mystery? If he is take off that stupid collar that makes you a Catholic priest with all of its baggage that you deny.

Love is not just an emotion – it is a great inner evolution of transcendence, in which we recognize that somebody is more important than ourselves.

We’re all believers and unbelievers? We’re all black and white, we’re all here and there? We’re all up and down? This obfuscation must work for you considering Templeton…but what integrity?

Believers have an unbeliever inside, and the so-called unbelievers have also a believer inside of them.

I believe I’ll have another beer. Sorry dude. When it comes to any Abrahamic god of your worship there isn’t the slightest trust in him, whatever him is. Halik knows me as well as he knows his god. Nada. You would have me buy a god in a sack, a pig in a poke.

What’s hilarious is he credits that atheists are, gasp, more open, more willing to question, more willing to engage in dialog. Ya think.

 I am always intrigued by the fact that I am often able to communicate with someone who proclaims himself to be an atheist more readily than I can communicate with many believers.

The man is a closet atheist that bullshits to inflate his dissonance that he knows it is bullshit. Come out, come out. Leave that cave. See the light.

He ends by pandering to some unbelievers to get them to think they are actually closer to god. Well, if god were truth, beauty, and goodness maybe in at least a Plato kind of way. Oh wait is god a concept? Huh? If ideas were god we’d all be polytheists.

He sallies forth with a final plea that we really wish there were a god. NO, I really wish Halik would start making sense. There are no kinds of gods thatI would wish for. None whatsoever. Halik shows the classic existential negative theology of ontology through accepting bullshit simply because you wish it were true and that if you insist it is true loudly enough it must be so.

There are other people who are not able to accept the existence of God but would like to believe; they have the spiritual desire to believe – they want God to be. I think that this second group of people, even though they may call themselves unbelievers, is actually nearer to God than the first group.

Halik proves once again that religion is nothing more than wishful thinking. And he gets paid for this shit. I want free meals for life!

Jim n

Is My Home A Good Investment?

640px-Belton_House_2006_GianoIs My Home A Good Investment?

NOTE:  This post is part of an ongoing education series.  This information is for educational purposes only.  This information does not constitute investment advice.  Please consult with your financial advisor before taking any action.  For planning advice contact Polaris Financial Planning.

Like many things in the investment world – It depends.  Some say housing is an investment and I think it is more like an expense.  Clearly a home is and asset but, is it a good investment?

I looked around the web to find a good estimate of the average increase in home values and found this really cool chart.


The amount your house goes up depends on: where you buy, when you buy and when you sell.  If you look at the blue line you will see that you could have purchased a house for about $125,000 in 1999.  That same house had a peak value of over $250,000 just 7 years later.  An average growth of 10% per year.  However, over the long run the increase is about 5% per year on this graph.  Historically, I think the rates are lower but let us use 5% for now knowing that it could be too high.

I will create two examples.  House A has a price of $100,000 and house B has a price of $200,000.  (To keep the math simple we will assume that you can by either house with $0.00 down)

If you get a 30 year fixed loan at 4% the monthly payment on house A will be $477.42 and house B will be $954.84 (the difference is $477.42 per month we will use that below).  The payment for house B would be twice as much – just as you would expect.

After 30 years of payments and constant growth in value of 5% every year house A would be worth $432,194 and house B would be worth $864,388.  House B’s value is $432,194 higher than that of house A.  Not bad for just an extra $477.42 per month.

But, what if you bought house A and invested the extra $477.42 in the stock market and you did that every month of every year for 30 years and made 10% return every year you would have a portfolio in excess of $940,000.

You could argue that the higher mortgage could help on your taxes and that is true if the interest is higher than your standard deduction or you are already itemizing.  On the other hand, you probably have to pay a lot more in taxes, utilities, repairs and insurance for the bigger house.  Don’t forget with a bigger house you will also need to buy more stuff to put in it.  Finally, you may have to pay 6 or 7% commission if you need to sell it.

For me, I would rather have $940,000 in cash than the extra $432,194 in home value but, your preference may be different.  You did have the advantage of living in a much nicer house for the last 30 years.  In the end, I recommend that you DO NOT buy the most expensive house you can.  I recommend you buy the most affordable house you can live in and invest the rest.  Nothing provides more security than cash!

Religious German Home Schoolers Gain Asylum

Romeike_FamilySCOTUS declined to hear Romeike v. Holder and demanded the government to respond to their petition for asylum which was granted. For those not in the homeschool universe the Romeike family is a conservative religious family that didn’t want to follow Germany’s mandatory public school requirement because it was too secular.

First, since secularists often consider all homeschoolers to be either religious or the parents of high-need children I must say we home schooled all three of our children more or less for reasons of travel and lifestyle. My oldest son was accepted on scholarship to Beloit and was on the Dean’s List his first year. One daughter received the highest math honor in her middle school (she chose to go to school at 14). The other daughter has had all A’s and has chosen to homeschool a year or two because of bullying and the mindless routine of public schools here.

To be blunt, if your children are smart or stupid schools have declined in their ability to support them. Around here parents of either population shuffle their kids around to various institutions trying to cobble together a decent education. It’s not just Tiger Moms but education-starved children.

I would homeschool my children more if we could afford it. The idiotic routines and mind-numbing activities of underfunded, undersupported, underachieved, and too-religious public schools easily convince me. The middle-school science text in my town does not mention evolution or even change over time. It is an idiotic book that should be thrown out. I also find the moralizing posters and facile motivations in the hallways and class walls horrifying.

Especially now there are many secular homeschool resources available. It helps to remember that homeschooling was originally distance learning for those who couldn’t get to schools. It was hijacked by religious separatists. There are many ways to ensure children meet minimum education standards and if we actually had competent schools we wouldn’t need SAT and ACT tests to prove it long after the fact and long after it can be changed.

I welcome the schools to keep the money they have not had to use to educate my children. They need all of the financial help they can get.

My spouse is now a school teacher and hates it. The authoritarian ego trips and lack of ability to discipline children combined with low parental support means she is little more than a class police woman and she hates it. She is the only teacher with a Phd at her school. I make more money painting houses. This means we are also trying to change the system and not be secular separatists.

With all of these caveats in mind…

Religious separatists have found common ground with libertarians in championing home school. They both want to dismantle the government. The one because they don’t want government and should be more properly called anarchists and the other because it is the wrong government. Religious separatists would be happy under church authority and obedience to their sacred texts and canons. It is a disingenuous or mistaken alliance. While libertarians want the freedom separatists wish to change the goals of the authority and not remove authority.

HSLDA is a hyperconservative  homeschool advocacy business that sells home schoolers insurance again litigation. Yep, for a small fee you can buy some legal insurance in case you have to go to court over homeschooling. They often use scare tactics to convince home schoolers they are going to be litigated and litigated soon if they don’t stand up for parental rights whatever the hell that means. It certainly doesn’t mean they think you can have an abortion, later or early. Nor does it mean they think religion should be out of government or schools. Nor does it mean they would allow me to teach Buddhism, or in some schools, Yoga, even historically.

The Romeikes could have moved to another country in the EU that is more tolerant of homeschooling. HSLDA was thrilled to ensconce them in their circle of scare tactics and hold them as the poster family of religious freedom. Even the asylum granted is proof to them the US is going to avoid their issue of parental rights where you can do anything you want with your children as long as it follows a christian ideal. Though which denomination seems rather unclear.

This is the so called immutable characteristic that HSLDA wishes to assign to home schoolers. But there is no canon, no constitution, no binding characteristic of home schoolers as a group. If home schoolers could call themselves Amish, or Menonite, or any of a number of formal separatist groups of tradition they could claim asylum as that group but  not because they are home schoolers. You can’t ask for asylum because you have a changeable characteristic like carpenter, knitter, prostitute. That’s the law part which most don’t care about but that’s why SCOTUS, conservative as they are now, wouldn’t touch it.

Germany created the public school mandate in response to its Turkish immigrants who moved in or were born in such large numbers as to outnumber the Germans. Further these immigrants balkanized themselves into social and religious ghettos (they are not a homogeneous group either) and do not wish to participate in German society. They want all of the welfare but little of the responsibility.

In Denmark this balkanization with muslims has been such a problem that liberals have given way to conservatives who seem oddly correct that a country does have a character that should be maintained. That certain laws of governance and morality are more universal than the ethnicity of its citizens. 

This should be familiar to Americans since that is precisely why we created the public school system here. Too many immigrants who could not speak the language, know the constitution, and participate in society. The US needed workers who would show up, stay at work, and then go home. It is renewed problem as it is not just theocrats in the Carolinas and Texas that would like to secede but parts of California and elsewhere that are in hispanic majority. Who understanding the US is a democracy would like their own kind of hispanic governance, representation, and if necessary separatism. HSLDA would not approve.

HSLDA falls back on the old libertarian canards of commerce law to squeeze out legitimacy for state’s rights as expanding to parental rights. This tactic fails big. Most citizens don’t know law very well–no lawyer would make more than an “opinion” outside their area of expertise. Most people don’t get that neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, states, and other nations have different levels and effects of standing, jurisdiction, and jurisprudence. Most just see themselves in reference to themselves. This kind of myopia is a problem. We should teach much more law in schools.

HSLDA preys on this ignorance by emphasizing that Romeike should be allowed asylum. Since the US allows homeschooling so should the entire world. It confuse US law with international law, US rights with other countries’  rights. Indeed if religious separatists wish for that they should not insist that every country have the same laws. It is clear it is not a function of governance but the specific issue itself. While claiming separatism they really wish everyone would follow their law. Again they don’t want tolerance they want rulership across the board. Even if a country votes for mandatory public school they insist that country is wrong.

Unless you wish to expand the UN to a global legal empire that not only enforces all rights but all law, countries by long agreement and demand  have their own governance. You can’t criticize Nazi’s in Germany but you can here. Do you wish for Germany to demand  the US change its laws?

Just because you have a right in America does not make it an international right. The right to homeschool is not under any international law. Oddly HSLDA has fought against any US involvement in international law for decades until now. Just as conservatives wished to “Americanize” immigrants for decades, a century or two, they now wish to Americanize the world. It’s not a libertarian issue, it’s a theocratic issue.

If the Roemeikes had been deported the worst that would have happened to them is their children would have to go to school or they could  move to another more accessible country. They are not in danger of persecution. So much so why do we turn away people who are physically abused and tortured but allow this?

The Romeikes can teach their children churchy stuff at home just as I have to teach evolution to my children at home even if I don’t homeschool.

Jim n