Ship

Imagine you were an ancient mariner trying to find your way to a new world, and every time you needed to go North you looked at your compass, then looked at the storm clouds or rough waters in that direction and decided to do whatever the heck it was you felt like doing. There’s a good chance that if you were magically transported to 2012 that you’d fit right in with the “spiritual but not religious” voters that President Obama won in a landslide:

[I]t bears noting that another less obvious bloc of key swing state voters helped the president win a second term.

They’re the “nones” — that’s the Pew Research Center’s shorthand for the growing number of American voters who don’t have a specific religious affiliation. Some are agnostic, some atheist, but more than half define themselves as either “religious” or “spiritual but not religious,” Pew found in a recent survey. …

— In Ohio, Obama lost the Protestant vote by 3 points and the Catholic vote by 11, but he won the “nones” — 12 percent of the state’s electorate — by 47 points.

— In Virginia, Obama lost Protestants by 9 points and Catholics by 10 points, but won 76 percent of the “nones,” who were 10 percent of the electorate.

— In Florida, Obama lost Protestants by 16 points and Catholics by 5 points, but captured 72 percent of the “nones.” They were 15 percent of the electorate. …

“It was hard to think this was just Iowa,” Selzer said. “And it wasn’t. One of the reasons Barack Obama won was that he had the ‘no religion’ vote by a huge margin.”

Nationally, Obama lost the Protestant vote by 15 points, won the Catholic vote by 2 points, and captured 70 percent of the “nones.”

Saying you’re “spiritual but not religious” says almost nothing about you. Some people have a “spiritual” moment when they go to confession. Ancient Aztec priests would have said that mass executions and cannibalism were spiritual. There are porn stars who would say being used every-which-way-to-Sunday on film is a “spiritual” experience. Simply acknowledging the existence of a spirit says nothing about whether or not your behavior is beneficial or detrimental to your spirit.

When someone says they’re “spiritual but not religious,” what they’re really saying is that they tend to identify with driftwood. Religion gives shape to spirituality. It attempts to explain the nature of the soul, what feeds and nourishes it and what can poison it. And while man and his institutions are not perfect, over time a few religions have separated themselves from the pack.

The “spiritual but not religious” person doesn’t want to be held accountable for his actions. He believes that there is something beyond human comprehension that is responsible for the formation of the universe, but he wants to deny that there might be a set of rules that apply to him. The “spiritual but not religious” person wants to believe that he is part of something big and grand and interconnected, but that his participation in it all is beyond reproach. He wants to play in the ocean, but pretends that no one is watching the waves he makes.

Let us examine for a moment some text from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

What happens when we reach a tipping point, and a majority of voters decide that our rights do not come from a “Creator,” but from their fellow “spiritual by not religious” peers? It is at that point that the United States is officially and without-a-doubt over. The moment your rights are determined by the caprices of your fellow man is the day that you have no rights. In the absence of God your rights are a mutable mishmash of whims spelled out by the ruling mob of the moment. Living under tyranny is just as “spiritual” as living in freedom, because the spirit can feel itself being crushed just as easily as it knows when it is being elevated.

The spiritual state of our nation is: Disarray. Those with a working moral compass know that it is immoral to leave future generations trapped under mountains of debt. On the other hand, those who determine their own set of rules tend to have an azimuth that always points back to themselves. Your money becomes their money. Your property becomes their property. Your liberties expand and contract according to the definition of “progressive” or “forward” in any given election cycle, and the national credit card allows them to apply such unconscionable theft to your kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Some say that we have already gone over the cliff, and that it’s only a matter before it all crashes into a million pieces. $16 trillion. $17 trillion. $18 trillion. Those are numbers that are hard to argue with. If the worst-case scenarios unfold, the burden falls on those who can articulate the truth to scream it until they hit the pavement. When all is said and done, the survivors will need a digital instruction booklet to put it all back together again.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

56 comments

  1. I totally disagree. Saying you’re spiritual but not religious means that you believe in a higher power but not the one fabricated by a man-made institution and the rules imposed by that organization.

    1. This is what I said:

      “Religion gives shape to spirituality. It attempts to explain the nature of the soul, what feeds and nourishes it and what can poison it. And while man and his institutions are not perfect, over time a few religions have separated themselves from the pack.”

      I also said this:

      The “spiritual but not religious” person doesn’t want to be held accountable for his actions. He believes that there is something beyond human comprehension that is responsible for the formation of the universe, but he wants to deny that there might be a set of rules that apply to him.

      You can disagree, but I think my observation of what’s really going on is closer to the truth than what you’ve offered. I’d argue that I asked “Why?” at least one more time than you did.

    2. Just because I didn’t telegraph my questions doesn’t mean that I didn’t ask them. Secondly, just because someone doesn’t agree with an institution’s rules does not mean that he/she believes that no rules apply to them.

    3. Your statement telegraphed the extent to which you’ve probed the question.

      You do realize that you’re proving my point, right? I’ll pose the same question and challenge to you as I did to adshand:

      Tell me, do you believe that the code you’ve crafted for yourself is closer to realizing universal truths than the aggregated knowledge of thousands of years of study by, say, the Catholic Church or Buddhist monks?

      Please share with my readers an abridged version of your spiritual code, so that they may see the folly of their ways and cast off the chains of man-made religious institutions.

    4. Well, if you think that I’m proving your point then you think I’m proving your point. Re. your “challenge”, I’d ask that you re-read my posts since I never said that I did not follow a religion but that one’s opinions should not be excluded just because they don’t follow a religion. As for my spiritual code, its pretty simple and obvious from my clearly telegraphed responses, no?

    5. What was obvious from your reaction was that you haven’t gone beyond a cursory observation of the “spiritual but not religious” person — or that you didn’t read my post very carefully — or you would have addressed the crux of the issue:

      “The ‘spiritual but not religious’ person wants to believe that he is part of something big and grand and interconnected, but that his participation in it all is beyond reproach. He wants to play in the ocean, but pretends that no one is watching the waves he makes.”

      Nowhere do I discount someone’s opinions simply because they don’t follow a religion. I’m not sure where you get that, or why you would even make the point to begin with. You are either missing the important point, or purposefully trying to distract attention away from it:

      Simply acknowledging the existence of a spirit says nothing about whether or not your behavior is beneficial or detrimental to your spirit.

    6. Doug you are impervious to reason. Whenever someone disagrees you attack them personally. The bottom line is you think you are superior to all others because you call yourself religious. The problem is you can’t prove a damn thing. No matter how much you huff and puff. Neither can the non believers. Only the religious have a moral compass, what one-eyed bollocks!

    7. You used ‘bollocks’. I knew you were a Piers Morgan type of guy.

      I don’t think I’m superior to anyone. One of the Seven Deadly Sins is Pride, adshand. My faith is my anchor; you see my steadfast nature as condescension. I’m not surprised.

      I also don’t believe that only the religious have a moral compass. My understanding of the human spirit prevents that from even being a possibility. You’d like to believe the biases you’ve projected onto me instead of carefully reading over what I’ve written.

      “Simply acknowledging the existence of a spirit says nothing about whether or not your behavior is beneficial or detrimental to your spirit.”

      There’s a clue to you as to where I’m coming from, old chap.

    8. “Broken Compass” wasn’t a catchy or Twitter-friendly enough headline for me.

      On the other hand, those who determine their own set of rules tend to have an azimuth that always points back to themselves.

      All people have a moral compass, in that they know deep down when they are doing something wrong. However, many people don’t have a functioning moral compass when they become wannabe-Rousseaus. When they simply look within themselves they tend to engage in behaviors that are detrimental to the spirit without even knowing it. Over time, their understanding of right and wrong becomes warped, and sadly so does their spirit.

      Was that nuanced enough for you? I know that in the age of Twitter you’re supposed to be able to have all this broken down in a headline of 140 characters or less, but it doesn’t always work that way. I haven’t even addressed how behavior affects the balance between the mind, body and spirit …

    9. Nuanced? No just confusing and contradictory.
      To quote your last gibbering reply
      “All people have a moral compass, in that they know deep down when they are doing something wrong. (ok contrary to the headline on the post you posit that NOW we all have one, thanks so much.)
      However, many people don’t have a moral compass when they become wannabe-Rousseaus. (ok in the next breath, now many people don’t have a functioning moral compass when they read Rousseau.)
      When they simply look within themselves … they tend to engage in behaviors that are detrimental to the spirit without even knowing it. Over time, their understanding of right and wrong is warped, and sadly … so is their spirit.
      Let me summarise the following: If we all have a moral compass, or don’t have one, or have a broken one, our spirit gets warped, that would be the spirit inside the compass, would it? That’s total self-serving rubbish, give it up mate.

    10. *People are born with a spirit.
      *When they primarily look within themselves (their spirit must interact with a body and mind that have desires for the sins of the flesh) they set themselves up for failure — also known as breaking their moral compass.

      I’m not sure what’s so hard about that. In fact, it’s pretty straight forward. If you read more than the headline you wouldn’t be confused. See example: MeAgain. His grasp and understanding (while I disagree with him) seems to exceed yours by leaps and bounds.

      So, when are we going to get that moral code of yours? I’m sure that it’s not confusing and contradictory in the slightest.

    11. Maybe you weren’t discounting someone’s opinions because they don’t follow a religion but it does come across that way. Anyway, if that wasn’t your intent then I was just reading too much into it.

  2. Are you saying only religious people know right from wrong? A confused and confusing non-sequitur argument. Many people are finding a non branded way to relate to God or the creation force. Obeying the precepts of self-appointed prophets and teachers in a specific building or time of the day does not make one any closer to God than someone who follows their own approach.

    1. I like how you essentially came to your own (incorrect) conclusion as to what I was saying, and then proceeded to say I was wrong. It’s a great way to convince yourself you’ve won a debate before it even started.

      Tell me, do you believe that the code you’ve crafted for yourself is closer to realizing universal truths than the aggregated knowledge of thousands of years of study by, say, the Catholic Church or Buddhist monks?

      Please share with my readers an abridged version of your spiritual code, so that they may see the folly of their ways and cast off the chains of man-made religious institutions.

    2. You have no idea whether my spirituality is formal or otherwise. Long before the Old Testament and the later advent of Christ there was organized religion. How do you regard all that accumulated wisdom now?
      It’s always the religious zealots who claim that morality is in decay. Your churches supported slavery, bigotry and sexual discrimination. People enjoy greater freedom and accountability today than ever.

    3. Sadness. The world will not bear witness to the moral code of adshand.

      Kant spoke of the warped timber of man. Guys like me realize that while man is fallible, universal truths exist and that timeless principles are not invalidated by the imperfect men who preach them.

      You? I suppose you wish the world was filled with more godless communists. They only bulldozed churches and slaughtered 100 million over the last century.

      You might want to reconsider putting out that moral code. Maybe you’ll be the next L. Ron Hubbard.

    4. What a strange hateful ranter you are. How quickly you resort to the personal. I am surprised at how defensive you are if you are so certain of yourself and your arguments.

    5. Hate? I don’t hate anyone. Although, I suppose you might think that since you started off the conversation by implying that I think only religious people know right from wrong … before pejoratively referring to “your church.” Or maybe you were just saying it with a Piers Morgan-ish tone. It’s so hard to tell the tone someone is taking online, isn’t it? But you look like a guy who would make time in his schedule for Piers.

      Again, whenever you want to share the intricate workings of your moral compass, humanity awaits.

      Best,

      Doug

  3. The Republican Party is still trying to explain their loss. Perhaps most to thenselves. First it’s minorities and their pellets. Then it’s “selfish and ignorant” Teen Moms and hedonistic Ke$has. Or maybe we’re a nation of “immature” people like Lindsay Stone. Then it’s unions killing Twinkies. Confused minorities? I can’t keep track.

    The really telling part is how Republicans can’t come to grips with that their party had an easy win against a weak president and still manageds to bungle a softball of an election. They put a circus-worthy group of jackanapes on the stage at the GOP primary and managed to only pick the most sane one. Unfortunately, he was aloof and milquetoast at best (not even good enough for his iwn party last election) and between his fellow party members torpedoing him with inane rape comparisons, he manages to depth charge his own ship by making comments about 47% of the America he wants to govern. Neither changed the hardcore base of each side, but guess what effect it had on independents?

    Lets face it, unless your party stops courting the Falwells and Grahams, and starts heading back over to fiscal conservative land, independents are going to continue to make Rove cry on Election Day.

    This post is rediculous, Doug. The “agnostic” ( read: “atheist”) have no moral compass” argument you are all but making here isn’t going to work. Even though you are going after agnostics, nobody is missing the main thrust of your post.

    The idea that organized religion in somehow better than the agnostic way is Not going to bear fruit. Priests and pastors were only needed when most of the population couldn’t read the bible for themselves. Now that people can, why pass the collection plate for the joy of some song and to hear one man’s interpretation of the holy text?

    1. “Isn’t going to work”? What am I trying to “work,” MeAgain? I don’t work for the GOP. I’m not holding focus groups for anyone.

      This post is about the future of the country — not a political party. In fact, this post was inspired by a Romney voter I know who posted the NPR article on Facebook. A Romney voter who isn’t religious. My concerns for the country run much deeper than any political party.

      What happens when we reach a tipping point, and a majority of voters decide that our rights do not come from a “Creator,” but from their fellow “spiritual but not religious” peers? It is at that point that the United States is officially and without-a-doubt over. The moment your rights are determined by the caprices of your fellow man is the day that you have no rights. In the absence of God your rights are a mutable mishmash of whims spelled out by the ruling mob of the moment.

      I would much rather live in a world where my fellow man believes in God than a world overrun with atheists. Hands down.

      You also ignore that having information available does not necessarily mean people utilize the information. We have more education at our fingertips than at any time in recorded history, and yet you have people who believe the “Panetta-Burns” non-existent debt plan exists. That about sums it up. Priests and pastors aren’t needed today? Excuse me while I have a laugh.

      According to your own logic, college professors aren’t needed, either. Or physical trainers. Or … Glad your litmus test for doing away with individuals who specialize in a particular subject seems to be “Can we read? Yep. No need.”

      And yes, MeAgain, while you may get the main thrust of the post, our British friend seems to have a hard time with it.

      Update: Our British friend is really Australian. I still can’t get over how close my Piers Morgan crack was. It must be the “don’t f**k with me sneer.”

    2. Australian and proud of it son. Calling me English or anything approaching it is like calling you Canadian. And your Piers Morgan crack was lame and pointless, you might as well compare me to Mel Gibson.

    3. Oh, you called me “son.” I was hoping you’d go to “pal” or “chief.”

      Canada is actually more economically free than the U.S. these days. It’s more American than America … Depressing.

    4. I think you know which definition of “work” I used in my comment. The argument holds no water. That morality comes *only* from religion, and unless you subscribe to religious dogma you are amoral driftwood is a ignorant line of thinking.

      The quote from the Constitution was laughable, because the writer was certainly no Christian. Jefferson, while a believer in a God, rejected formal churches and wrote his own bible (minus all the magical elements). While that may not be a textbook agnostic, it certainly shoots holes in your argument that the church is required to “give shape” to religion. Was Jefferson driftwood? Do a little research into the founding fathers. Contrary to what the conservative right proclaims, they were not all Christian supermen in wigs and tri-cornered hats.

      You point about wanting to live in a world of god-fearing people is your opinion. I respect that. However, the broader point that agnostics and atheists have no moral compass is false. Basic sociology shows that many of the most basic laws are based on preserving family/tribe/group integrity because we are social creatures. Abhorrent, harmful, anti-group behavior is frowned upon in even the most basic cultures. Arguably, there’s a some play in what is considered just in many societies, though any anomalies can usually be traced to organized institutional (corrupted) power. Those societies often do not tend to last long. That said, there are common threads about what constitutes just behavior.

      Plus, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that paints a pretty plain picture about morality and religion. Some of the least religious countries have the lowest crime rates (Sweden, Norway, Japan, Australia) while simultaneously respecting other’s religious freedoms. All are capitalistic democracies that have lower violent and overall crime rates than America. Coincidence, maybe.

      “In the absence of God your rights are a mutable mishmash of whims spelled out by the ruling mob of the moment.”

      That made me chuckle. Which God? The Abrahamic God? Which sect of Christianity? Which time period? Are we talking about the Catholic Church who were ambivalent towards the Civil Rights Movement, whose Papacy appeased Hitler, who’s governance participated in a mass cover-up of pedophile priests? That’s just this past century. Hell, I’m leaving out the good old times like the Inquisition and the Crusades.

      Compared to that tree, I’ll stay driftwood, thank you very much.

    5. True. There are a lot of sage words in the King James Bible. If only people followed the better parts of it a little more. Love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, as we forgive those who trespass against us, charity for the poor.

      Boy Scouts of America is guilty of the same. Odd, I was both an Eagle Scout and a Catholic. I feel a mixture of sadness and anger that these two institutions clearly failed to protect children. They do so much good and then fail on this basic, most fundamental level. I don’t understand it.

    6. Haha. My friend (and I’m not saying that in the Joe Biden way), all institutions are flawed because humans are flawed.

      “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary,” (James Madison).

  4. The current trend towards atheism really disturbs me. As a Christian I don’t have a problem with someone who doesn’t believe in God, but they’ve become ridiculous in how they try to force their secular worldviews on people. Filing lawsuits to prevent a street in NYC from being called Seven in Heaven Way because it might “offend” people, all the hatred toward Tebow for his belief…. the list goes on and on, really. I don’t have any real respect toward atheists because they don’t have respect for people who think differently than them.

    1. As my brother way saying, by going on this quest to stamp out any trace of Christianity from the public square they are engaging in the behavior they claim to abhor. They just refuse to acknowledge that their anti-religion is their religion.

    2. I don’t think you understand. As an atheist, I could care less what deity to which you pray. Believe whatever you want. I’m not trying to win you to my side, because I have no side. If theism is a 1, atheism is a 0. Anti-theists would be -1. Very few atheists are anti-theists. Most don’t care.

      It’s the prostetylizing and the attempts to marry civic law to theistic belief is what causes atheists to speak out and use the courts to keep your beliefs from intruding on us. We don’t like the tyranny of the majority and the courts are the only redress.

      You have plenty of churches to chose from. You can pray any time you like. But like your choice to do so, I have the choice to not do so. And *mandating* prayer in school, or in the pledge, or in civic spaces encroaches on my right to not believe. I have no battle against Christmas. I just want my government to be secular.

      Think of like this. Would you be happier with a secular government if the majority of America were Muslim and you Christian? Or would you be okay with Sharia?

    3. Actually, you do have a side. Your anti-religion is your religion. I suppose you’ll say again that you simply don’t care. Well, most atheists I’ve met spend an ungodly amount of time talking about a being they equate with Santa Claus.

      I’m paraphrasing my brother, but we’re team Catholic; you’re team Atheist. But for some reason atheists see a rosary in our car window and flip out. Why? My brother can wear his Eagles gear in Denver and no one says a thing. A rosary? Look out! For people who claim to be so secure in their non-belief … my experience tells me that it is not the case.

    4. You didn’t read any of that, did you?

      Must be hard being so persecuted you can’t worship in one of thousands of churches, pray in your home, worship how you please.

      I do not believe in what you do. That does not make me anti-Catholic. I don’t freak out like a vampire at the sight of a rosary, either. I have friends who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholic, Jewish, you name it. Why would I offend them? Nor do they tell me that my lot are cast into an eternal lake of fire due to my lack of belief.

      Truth be told, I think many beliefs religious beliefs are silly and Christians think my soul will burn in hell. Fair enough. Now, just leave religion out of my government and be content with it in your place of worship, your home, or anywhere but a government institution, and I’ll be happy. It’s about choice. I want the choice to stay away from your religion and by wedging religion into civics, it makes that impossible.

    5. No, I did. And I even followed up by saying exactly how you’d respond. You do this thing where what you’re saying is based on the premise that those who agree with you are just as level-headed and intelligent as you are. So you get to reference all sorts of Republican rubes and dumb Christians throughout history, but I’m supposed to agree that all atheists are clones of Christopher Hitchens.

      I’m amazed by people who read my more religious posts and try and make it sound like I’m a raving-mad Catholic.

      This time I’ll quote my brother, who made me laugh in his response to this thread: “Would a close-minded, Christian-theocracy supporting, republican mouthpiece such as yourself (paraphrasing their words, obviously) even know who Ke$ha is?”

    6. Of course I’d say “I don’t care.” I wrote it in the post that prompted your reply. My position never changed. Doesn’t take psychic powers to guess that one.

      I have to agree with you on the rubes bit. Some atheists aggravate the hell out of me. They proselytize in their own way. Unless they are asking someone to leave them alone, there is no point trying to counter-punch someone belief system.

      I don’t think you are a raving mad Catholic. That said, take a good look at your post title. How am I supposed to respond? Part of me says I don’t care, but part of me says that’s not cool, Doug. The latter is typing this.

      The best way for you to understand atheist’s position on religion in government is my original question: “Would you be happier with a secular government if the majority of America were Muslim and you Christian? Or would you be okay with Sharia?”

    7. In order to answer that question I’d basically have to concede that all religions are essentially “equal,” for lack of a better term. They’re not.

      I quote Samuel Adams: “In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and, both by precept and example, inculcated on mankind. And it is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, in the fullest extent consistent with civil society, is the chief characteristic mark of the church,” (The Rights of the Colonists, 1772).

      Islam doesn’t really allow for the whole “Render unto Caesar…” mentality. Politics and religion are intertwined. I highly suggest reading Mark Steyn’s “America Alone” for a glimpse of Europe’s future. They’re … in trouble.

      Would an America where over 50% of the population is Muslim be secular for very long? I think not. I smell a constitutional Amendment coming (i.e., all previous amendments are now superseded by the Koran).

  5. one of my favorite Bible stories is when Lot flees Gomorrah with his daughters and lives in a cave with them. they want to get pregnant, and the only dude around is Dad, so of course they decide to get him drunk on wine so they can “know” him and get knocked up.

    anyway, Christianity would have been a lot better if they didn’t marginalize the Gnostics. also, if churches want to get into politics, they should be taxed.

    1. no point really other than accentuating your condescension toward spiritual, non-religious folks with a lovely Biblical story about getting Daddy drunk and f*****g him in a cave.

    2. Exactly. No point. Your specialty is to drop by once in awhile and throw pot shots. You’re a sad angry loser. You’re the kid who giggled at the end of Grapes of Wrath in high school. I just feel sorry for you.

    3. Doug this can’t be much fun for you having get your dander up to fight all kinds of semi-literate hoons like Lizard19 and me (for free). So thanks for doing it.
      I actually love the Bible and its teachings. When you strip away the more extreme elements such as the commandment about not tolerating witches etc there are so many universal truths that assist billions of people to live productive moral non-violent lives.
      I just don’t see the book and its proponents as the sole channel to God. And I very much doubt that Christianity will be overwhelmed by atheism or any other ism in the medium term. Having said that it’s been a long time since God served up a miracle which is an essential part of the magic show that is organised religion. People today live in an age of material miracles and infinite possibilities but of course much of this is delusion. I’m sure there is a deeper relationship with the universe beyond the material that religion will always serve. However I think it’s better to accept that to be on a spiritual quest whether it be humanist or religion is better than the shallow pursuit of money and material goods that has rendered modern life so unfulfilling. There are many rooms in the house of God and maybe there also many houses in the street. Merry Xmas son, come visit me at http://www.adamshand.com.au

    4. There’s a lot to address here, but first I should say that I don’t believe that the Church is the only way to find God. Even men of faith have that faith tested (myself included), and often finding God does not come while sitting in the pew.

      Atheists seem to forget that one aspect of “organized” religion is a community of believers coming together; it isn’t solely directives coming out of the Vatican, for example. Why atheists spend so much time and energy attacking groups of people coming together for what they (the atheists) think is an imaginary being is beyond me.

      In regards to miracles and events that happen without explanation, those happen every day.

      My grandmother recently died: http://douglasernstblog.com/2012/07/05/missing-etta-final-thoughts-from-a-thankful-grandson/

      After I found out I called my wife and told her. I hung up the phone. My phone then started blasting (yes, blasting), what I can only describe as a Gregorian Chant for at least a minute. It was angelic and beautiful and it came from nowhere. I could NOT stop it. I thought I was going mad. Then it just turned off. My phone has no apps for that and I there is no reason why that should have happened. Even admitting this makes me sound crazy, but it happened. (Insert joke about God using Verizon here.)

      On a more scientific level, I see miracles all around me. I think of how many countless chemical reactions have to take place PERFECTLY ever second of every day just for me to be alive and I consider it a miracle. Then zoom out to eco-systems. And then the orbits of the planets, etc. Everywhere I look I see miracles and proof of God’s existence.

      Finally, don’t equate yourself with Lizard. Like I said, he’s just … sad. I see his cheap shots and then his his ‘Lizard’ avatar and can’t help but think “Why doesn’t he crawl back under his rock?” I really do feel sorry for him.

    5. I don’t get why you pick on the Aztecs so much. While cannibalism is pretty crazy, did the parallels to the Catholicism’s transubstantiation (ritual, *symbolic* cannibalism) and ceremonies worshiping human sacrifice (the crucifixion) get lost on you?

    6. I meant to link back to my Gwen Stefani post, but got sidetracked. Since you follow this blog you know that I do that often. It increases the click-through rate and gets people to explore more of the blog. If “so much” is defined by (I believe) three times in close to 600 posts, you got me.

      And do we really have to get into transubstantiation? I don’t want to talk about how it’s God (and not man) who makes it happen — and how Jesus is always with us spiritually and physically, etc. I mean, I really don’t mind … but maybe it can be saved for my next religious post that makes you roll your eyes.

    7. Damn, that is insensitive to me behind such a nice post. Damn page refresh. That is a lovely story about your grandmother.

    8. Lizard19, totally with you on the taxation. We have big money flowing into pastors hands here with no taxation. It’s a scam, pure and simple. That’s not to diss religion either Doug.

    9. The Catholic Church got into bed with Obama on Obamacare and then they woke up with mandates they didn’t like. That’s what happens when you cozy up to the federal government. The Church can’t have it both ways.

    10. Happens all the time. Billy Graham took Mormonism off his official list of religious cults after a meeting with Romney. Wonder what was said? Surely, Romney didn’t give up his magic underwear and access to future access to planet Kolob to appease Graham.

    11. in our non-profit sector, there are restrictions on organizations getting politically involved. it should be the same for churches. but that won’t work if some church folk are more interested in destroying the Federal government and installing a theocracy, like some of the more extremists elements seem eager to do.

  6. I have a hard time separating organized religion from its long, awful history of persecution, and I have an even harder time with the political proselytizing of social conservatives.

    I don’t know what your “moral compass” tells you Doug, but your depiction of the debt comes off as just tired parroting of right-wing talking points.

    debt means nothing if the global books are cooked and too big to fail keeps getting even bigger and more corrupt.

    but criticizing Wall Street only comes from jealous Marxist hippies, right?

  7. The “spiritual but non-religious” crowd needs to grow a pair and state that they are agnostic or athiest. That is what I do. I don’t agree with allowing a bunch of spiritual, superstitious, human written nonsense dictate how I should think or live my life. So I am not religious and I am not spiritual. I am objective, scientific and therefore very selective in what I believe to be true. So there!

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