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This is the after-elementary-school program being offered by an organization called The Satanic Temple.   It was news to me, but the Satanists I met tonight at the FFRF meeting consider themselves to be atheists.  They do not believe in a metaphysical God or Satan.  Satan instead is a symbol of individual liberty, of the ability we each have to say "I'm out" when someone offers us a load of dogma.  Lucifer, of course, is the fallen angel in Christian mythology who refused to tow the line.  "...Our metaphor of Satan is a literary construct inspired by authors such as Anatole France and Milton--a rebel angel defiant of autocratic structure and concerned with the material world. Satanism as a rejection of superstitious supernaturalism."

This take on Satan is all fine and good if you're inside that particular literary bubble.  If you, like me, grew up surrounded by Christian mythology, Satan is THE bad guy.  So I was a bit taken aback that they want to call their program this, and their club, and so on.  Why choose such a hot button for Christians?  Why not call it after school Humanism, or Atheism, or Evolution???  Well they do have a reason.  The concept is that Satanists can assert their rights as a religious organization and influence public affairs, reminding the dominant religious groups that in America such privileges are for all religions, not just the chosen ones.

I also learned that the legal definition of a religious organization is one that takes a stand about god.  Hence an atheist organization is a religious organization in the good old US of A.

The Oregon chapter of The Satanic Temple is brand new.  They've offered After School Satan Clubs at two elementary schools where Good News Clubs are already offered.  They plan to teach evolution, and how the world was formed.  The only problem is that when the local chaper offered an open house at a local school, the superintendent of the school (Karen Gray) let all the students and teachers go home an hour early, effectively eliminating the curious audience while also ticking off the parents who had to get out of work an hour early to pick up their babies.  Only two students signed up.  I wonder how many would have signed up if it was the After School Spaghettimonster Club?

The 2001 Supreme Court Decision called Good News Club vs Milford Central School resulted in a decision that the Milford school's restriction of the Good News Club violated the Club's free speech rights, and that no Establishment Clause concern justified that violation.  If you don't remember the Establishment Clause, it's the part of the First (free speech) Amendment that prohibits the establishment of religion by Congress.  So after school programs are allowed access to school premises regardless of content.  Free speech is allowed by religious groups as well as boy scouts, debate and chess club...and Corporations, but that's a separate ball of wax.

The Good News Club is a private Christian organization for children.  Their goal is to Christianize the next generation.  They teach elementary school kids that they are sinners and that they are going to hell if they don't repent and do right by this one particular version of God.  The Child Evangelism Fellowship creates the curriculum and trains instructors.  They have over 40,000 volunteers in the US and in 2011 there were 3560 clubs in public schools in the US and over 42,000 clubs worldwide.  THIS is how they get off calling it a Christian Nation.  And they are effectively brainwashing children before they've developed the powers of discimination to know they've been hoodwinked.    A 5th grader is unlikely to really comprehend that the teachings after school are of a different nature from the teachings in school.

Because of the 2001 SCOTUS decision, Satanists have the same rights of access to public schools as Christians, so After School Satan is one answer to the Christianization.  The name is intended to provoke Christians, and it does.  There have been ample protests.  The goal is simple: to get the Christians to remove their programs from public schools, so that then the Satanists will go back into private and stop enticing their children with cool programs and rebelliousness.

One of the coolest things I heard from tonight's programs was the 7 Tenets of The Satanic Temple.  They are beautifully enlightened so I will share:

I. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.


II. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.


III. One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.


IV. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.


V. Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.


VI. People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.


VII. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

Wouldn't it be nice if THESE were American Values?

Burn it down

Suicidality is directly linked to a feeling of powerlessness.  When there's nothing you or anyone else can do about it, it's easy to lose hope, get angry, place blame, become resentful or even violent.  Arson is violence, like rape.  The fires in Israel and Palestine, set by both individuals with both alliegances, reflect the same spirit seen in Brexit, and the election of Trump, and the fires that have been burning in the southeastern US.  I think there's some sour grapes in there too.  If I can't have my fair share, you can't have any either.  Arson is a quick and dirty way of gaining some power.   People of planet earth are angry and frustrated, and rattling the bars of their cages.  Unfortunately the actions taken are usually more emotional than rational, and the end result is a worsening of the situation that caused the loss of power in the first place.  Don't like being poor?  Electing a millionaire won't do you any good.  Don't like living in a depressed place?  Burning down the forests probably won't help.

But the thing is, is sure does feel good.  It is immensely satisfying to last out, to burn something, to smash something to smithereens.  When you are angry, such outbursts are therapeutic.  I personally just LOVE to take the glass recycling somewhere that I can smash it bottle by bottle.  I am praying (atheist prayers) that all the angry people of the world are ready to study and get clear about their true objectives.  I am praying that the angry people will organize and do something productive, now that catharsis has been achieved at least in some places.

Even More Interesting Times

For elitist liberals, the times got so interesting last week that folks are sunk in depression.  The changes that our incoming presidential administration will implement look to be the undoing of generations of work in environmentalism and human rights.  Militant authoritarian nationalism is on the rise world wide.  We have reason to be troubled.

Still, just as before, the world is an amazing place.  It is possible to step back from trying to save it for a few minutes and focus on enjoying it.  We only have this one life, as far as I know, and we can spend it suffering or celebrating.  That is a choice.  To focus on gratitude is to wire your brain to enjoy what you have.  For most of us in this rich nation, we have plenty.  We do not need more.  We are not just making do, we are wasting time playing games or being entertained when we could be doing something productive.

I gain solace from backing away from worrying about my nation, or even my species or my planet.  The Universe is a big place.  Even if this planet experiences nuclear holocaust, something will survive.  Life will persist.  Beauty will rise with each sun.

There is a certain freedom in admitting powerlessness.  I cannot do anything about our new government.  Thus I am free from worrying about it.  I can do something about what happens in my back yard, I have a little more power there.  I will use that power.  If each of us uses our small power to foster love, beauty and joy where we can, we will at least not be miserable.  Life is short and worrying is wasteful.  Act, or don't act.  Or like Yoda says, *There is no try; there is do or do not.*

There is one tool that I'd like to bring back into people's consciousness, and that is NonViolent Communication.  Marshall Rosenberg wrote a book by that title, after studying the Jewish survivors of the Nazi regime.  He discovered that by speaking from a place of our deepest humanity, we can communicate with anyone.  Feelings and needs, we all have them, and we can find consensus when we start from that place.  If you have not read the book I highly recommend it.  If you have read it, I recommend that you refresh your mind on what are Universal feelings and needs, and start using the technique.  At the very least, stop saying "I feel like" when really you are expressing a thought.  It is a misuse of language that leads down a dangerous track.

Last night we watched just a little bit of an old Adam Sandler movie, which was supposed to be funny.  It occurred to me that his style and his movies were a harbinger of what has since come.  His dishonesty, manipulativeness, and ignorance as expressed in his movies are too much like the dominant culture now. It is time to partake in inspiring or educational media or none at all.

Lots more thoughts swirling but I must go.  Be well, and do good work, as Garrison Keillor used to say.
This documentary is well worth seeing.  It explains how the 13th Amendment did more than free the slaves, because it had an exception that said criminals could be imprisoned.  A massive cultural effort ensued to criminalize blacks, and our so-called "criminal justice" system was not sufficient to protect them from powerful white men determined to keep them down.

A Netflix documentary (called 13TH) shows us is just how easy it is to criminalize a previously enslaved population.  This history is ugly, and the present is not pretty either.  The percentage of our populace that is behind bars far exceeds that of any other nation, and the percentage of that imprisoned mass that is black or brown in skin color is also ridiculous.  There is definitely something wrong.

13TH was directed by Ana DuVernay who has quite a resume.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ava_DuVernay
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13TH_(film)
What I learned so far (we haven"t finished watching the documentary)Collapse )

QotD: The Final Form of Love

Nothing that is worth doing
can be achieved in our lifetime;
therefore, we must be saved by hope. ...
Nothing we do, however virtuous,
can be accomplished alone;
therefore, we are saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous
from the standpoint of our friend or foe
as it is from our standpoint.
Therefore, we must be saved
by the final form of love,
which is forgiveness.

—Reinhold Niebuhr

I keep reading in the media that the record Latino turnout at the polls is a new "firewall" or somesuch for Democrats.  Well that may apply in this election, but don't count on it in the future.  Latinos are independent and have been provoked to vote for their own interests.  Trump voters have provided a new impetus for the Republican party to stop shafting its lower income voters.  If the R party can respond in any effective way to this challenge it could result in a shift in the demographics of both parties.

*First use of new tag: hispanic.  This population now activated is likely to become a powerful force in US politics.  Too bad they're so Catholic.

QotD: Lao Tzu on Being

There is no need to run outside for better seeing...

Rather abide a the center of your being.

For the more you leave it the less you learn.

Search your heart and see...

The way to do is to be.

--Lao Tzu

QotD: The American Bias

The strongest bias in American politics is not a liberal bias or a conservative bias; it is a confirmation bias, or the urge to believe only things that confirm with what you already believe to be true.  Not only do we tend to seek out and remember information that reaffirms what we already believe, but there is also a "backfire effect", which sees people doubling down on their beliefs after being presented with evidence that contradicts them.  So, where do we go from here?  The only way people will start rejecting falsehoods being fed to them is by confronting uncomfortable truths.
--Emma Roller
in NYTimes.com

Quranic Verse: Take it Literally?

"Do not take the Jews and Christians as allies"

I read this in a summary of an article by Lailatul Fitriyah in The Jakarta Post.  He says "hard-line Muslims" are invoking a twisted interpretation of this verse to argue that true Muslims must not vote for a Christian governor.

Truth be known, American style freedoms only work if all religious people do NOT take the dictates of their religious books as literal requirements.  What if all Christians did exactly what the Bible tells them to do?  Nevermind the old testament, the new is just as full of horrors.

Islamism is what we call government within the Muslim religion.  What do we call what we have, where religious people continually try to infiltrate government and government funded programs?  Christianism?

Islam is not the problem, religion is.

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