Friday, February 27, 2015

The End of the World is Near, Again

UPDATE VIII:  Read also Wikipedia, Apocalypticism.  

UPDATE VII:   FYI, "ISIS's interpretation of Islam is not literal. It is not serious."

Read The Atlantic, What Muslims Really Want, which notes that:

"The Quran is a single volume, roughly the length of the New Testament. It is a complex and nuanced text that deals with legal, moral, and metaphysical questions in a subtle and multifaceted way. Then there are the hadith, or records of sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad, which run into dozens of volumes spanning literally hundreds of thousands of texts, each on average a few sentences long. Then there is the juridical and theological literature about the Quran and the hadith, which consists of thousands of works written throughout Islamic history.

Does ISIS cite 'texts'? Yes, though its main method is to cite individual hadith that support its positions. But remember: The hadith consist of hundreds of thousands of discrete items that range from faithfully transmitted teachings to outright fabrications attributed to the prophet, and every gradation in between.

Over the centuries, jurists and theologians of every stripe, Sunni and Shiite, have devised rational, systematic methods for sifting through hadith, which are often difficult to understand or seem to say contrary things about the same questions. They have ranked and classified these texts according to how reliable they are, and have used them accordingly in law and theology. But ISIS does not do this. Its members search for text snippets that support their argument, claim that these fragments are reliable even if they are not, and disregard all contrary evidence—not to mention Islam’s vast and varied intellectual and legal tradition. Their so-called 'prophetic methodology' is nothing more than cherry-picking what they like and ignoring what they do not. . .

What distinguishes the interpretive approach of groups like ISIS from others is not its literalism (Sufis are indeed the most 'literal' of all such interpreters of the Quran) but its narrowness and rigidity; for the adherents of ISIS, the Quran means exactly one thing, and other levels of meaning or alternate interpretations are ruled out a priori. This is not literalism. It is exclusivism."

Imam Truthiness (formerly known as Pastor Truthiness and Pastor Poppins) does the same, always claiming his interpretation of the Bible is inerrant

UPDATE VI:  Hallelujah, we are saved.  It appears that certain claims of the end times by our local Imam Truthiness (formerly known as Pastor Truthiness and Pastor Poppins) are "completely off-the-wall . . . an exercise in imagination that is going to confuse many people," so says his "dear and valued friend."

Read Lamb & Lion Ministries Blog, A Confused Book About Revelation.

One commenter even said that Imam Truthiness "wrote this book, purely to make money." Another wrote that he "has been deceived by Satan."  And yet anothers write that he "has been caught up with demonic deceits, this has happened many times over the yrs" and he is "a false prophet. Or if you don't want to go that least he has lost his way on the subject matter in his book."
UPDATE V:  After reading The Atlantic article, it is clear that ISIS is to Islam as David Koresh was to Christianity.  

UPDATE IV:  ISIS "is a religious group . . . [that believes] that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse."

Read The Atlantic, What ISIS Really Wants, which notes that for "certain true believers—the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battles—visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need."

And just how to advance the apocalypse -- with a religious war -- which it seems Imam Truthiness (formerly known as Pastor Truthiness and Pastor Poppins) would also like.

UPDATE III:  As noted before, Pastor Truthiness (formerly known as Pastor Poppins) is fond of citing current events as fulfillment of 'prophesy' of the soon-to-be apocalypse (in support of his personal religious myths of course). Why are people addicted to such 'predictions?'

It turns out his ideology is shared by Islamic fundamentalist.

Read CNN, Why does ISIS keep making enemies?, which notes that ISIS "ideology is that of an apocalyptic cult that believes that we are living in the end times and that ISIS' actions are hastening the moment when this will happen."

UPDATE II:  "Bigotry has always existed, and though its techniques may change, its goal is always largely the same. The bigot, Bronner writes, 'directs his hatred against those who threaten (or might threaten) his privileges, his existential self-worth' by challenging the prevailing prejudices of the day. His beliefs are unquestionably the right ones; he 'hears the Lord’s voice and he condemns those who don’t, or interpret it otherwise.' But if you criticize the bigot for his antediluvian views, he’ll scurry behind the shield of 'traditions' and 'established habits.' . . 

So while the bigot may be a 'true believer,' he is also a pragmatist. He can twist mythologies, including religion and imagined tradition, to fit his needs in a thousand different ways. But behind the bigot’s beliefs is an all-consuming fear of modernity. It was modernity, after all, that gave minorities the tools to combat their oppression—which, in turn, led to the increasing marginalization of prejudiced holdouts.

The bigot’s fight against modernity also allows him to disguise his biases as a principled conviction that minorities are, in Bronner’s words, 'fighting against the natural order of things.' We see this casuistry deployed repeatedly in the right’s strange quest to smear and dehumanize trans people: Because conservatives have always believed in strict adherence to an unbreakable gender binary, that binary must be accurate. 'Things are the way they are,' in Bronner’s succinct phrasing, 'and they are that way for a reason.' If trans people could go millennia without demanding respect, they have no right to demand it today.

Why are bigots so terrified of modernity and its enthusiasts? Simple: As minorities capitalize upon the 21st century’s enlightened cosmopolitanism, bigots feel their power slipping away. After anti-gay activists failed to pass a gay segregation bill in red-leaning Arizona, conservatives cried foul, arguing that the measure’s demise imperiled their own 'religious liberty.' Their conception of 'liberty'—the freedom to discriminate against gay customers—might not be shared by many mainstream Americans in 2014. But conservatives are desperate to cling to this 'liberty' nonetheless; their right to deny gay people basic dignity, so uncontroversial for so many years, is tantamount to an assertion of power over the oppressed in the public sphere. With it, conservatives can cling to a shred of their former cultural dominance. Without it, their cause is revealed as a fraud."

Read Slate, Are Anti-Gay Activists Bigots? A Brilliant, Disturbing New Book Says Yes.

UPDATE:  Does "[a]ll that talk of snake-inspired subterfuge, planet-cleansing floods, and apocalyptic horsemen might hamper [some people's] ability to differentiate between fantasy and reality—or even to think critically."

Read Slate, Is Religion Good for Children?, which noted that researchers have found that the division in perceptions of reality between religiously raised and secular children was striking. Religious teaching, "'especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.'

If you’re surprised by these findings, you probably haven’t attended a church service lately. Religions tend to be founded on miracle stories—exactly the thing religious kids had trouble distinguishing from reality. When you’ve been told that a woman was created from a man’s rib, or that a man reawakened three days postmortem little worse for the wear, your grasp on reality is bound to take a hit. Religious children are told these stories from an early age, often as though they are unquestionably true. (Some are told that questioning them might lead to eternal damnation.) If you’re expected to believe two of every animal could fit on an ark made of gopher wood, wouldn’t you have trouble understanding that magical sails don’t exist? . .

The question of children and religion, then, is really just a small part of the broader dilemma of faith versus skepticism. In the United States, the vast majority of us choose the former and push our kids to do the same. That might make them docile, obliging, and credulous. But it doesn’t make them better people."

Pastor Truthiness (aka Huckster and Con Man) says the end of the world is near.  But before you get swindled by this scam, or spend money on the conferences and books, get educated.

Read and/or watch PBS Frontline, Apocalypse.

There is a detailed chronology of end timers, through 1999 (when the program first aired).

You'll also understand that Pastor Truthiness (aka Huckster and Con Man) stands in the company of other end timers, like William Miller and David Koresh and other cultist, as well as Marx and Hitler.

He's just part of America's Doomsday Industry

Friday, February 13, 2015

Those Clueless Republi-CONs

UPDATE:  As noted before, Obama has fail to create the Republi-con's imaginary hyperinflation.

Is it because "[i]nflation is just a scare story [Republi-cons and] people old enough to remember the 1970s tell."

Read the Washington Post, Inflation is dead: It’s below 1 percent in the U.S., U.K., Europe, China, and Japan.

Rand Paul and the Republi-cons "have, for years, brayed about high inflation that didn't exist and currency depreciation that wasn't happening, even taking the unprecedented step of publicly warning the Fed off its stimulus efforts, all while the real problems were too-low inflation, and, more recently, a stronger dollar that's put a crimp on the recovery. But despite this, Paul wants these people who have been, to put it charitably, wrong about everything to have more of a say against the ones who haven't. And it's all in the name of 'transparency' that the Fed is already providing plenty of, which Paul would know if he actually read something about it anywhere other than the usual Austrian suspects. The worst part, though, is that we know what an economy with the kind of tight money that Republicans prefer looks like right now. It's called 'Europe,' and it has twice as much unemployment as we do. But hey, empirical evidence doesn't matter, right? Let them eat first principles!

That's the kind of crazy that would make charlatans and cranks both say Rand Paul is giving them a bad name."

Read the Washington Post, Clueless in Kentucky: Rand Paul’s ideas about the Fed make absolutely no sense.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

An Example of The Fear, Anger, Hatred Industry

UPDATE III:  As noted before, the  Republi-con Party thrives on a fundamentalist subculture of ignorance that embraces 'discredited, ridiculous and even dangerous ideas'.  Nowhere is it more evident than "on the scientifically indisputable but ideologically fraught issue of vaccination."

Read the Washington Post, Seeking a vaccine for ignorance , which notes that the GOP base "tend to be litmus-test conservatives on social issues and place Scripture above science,"

Read also the Washington Post, A GOP outbreak of scientific illiteracy, which pointed out that Christie stated "that parents need to have some measure of choice" on vaccination, "the same Chris Christie who had no hesitation about imposing mandatory, and medically unnecessary, quarantines on health-care workers returning from Ebola-ravaged countries."

UPDATE II:  Thanks in part to vaccines, "[l]ife expectancy doubled in the past 150 years."

Read Slate, Why Are You Not Dead Yet? , which notes that "[t]here’s nothing like looking back at the history of death and dying in the United States to dispel any romantic notions you may have that people used to live in harmony with the land or be more in touch with their bodies. Life was miserable—full of contagious disease, spoiled food, malnutrition, exposure, and injuries."

Or play the "Wretched Fate game and risk dropsy, quinsy, consumption, and worms," also at Slate, How Would You Have Died in 1811?

UPDATE: "Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, roughly one in five Americans believes that vaccines cause autism — a disturbing fact that will probably hold true even after the publication this month, in a British medical journal, of a report thoroughly debunking the 1998 paper that began the vaccine-autism scare.

That’s because the public’s underlying fear of vaccines goes much deeper than a single paper. Until officials realize that, and learn how to counter such deep-seated concerns, the paranoia — and the public-health risk it poses — will remain. . .

America’s public health leaders need . . . to reclaim the town square with a candid national conversation about the real risks of vaccines, which are minuscule compared with their benefits."

Read The New York Times, Why Parents Fear the Needle.

The "disturbing and well-told chronicle of the childhood vaccine wars in the United States and England" and "the media's role is unsparing; he shows how ratings-hungry news and entertainment shows kept the debate alive [by 'parroting quack claims'], even as evidence for the safety and effectiveness of the shots became overwhelming."

Read the Washington Post, Seth Mnookin's 'The Panic Virus,' on the debate over vaccine use.

Read also an article by Mnookin from The Atlantic, What Drives Irrational Rhetoric? The Case of Childhood Vaccinations.