The thing that's always bugged me the most about predicting the end of the world (besides the zillion times it's been wrong) is that the kind of God who'd blow up the world and make everybody's last days full of pain and suck is, by definition, a bad guy. Which sorta works for the early Old Testament God that's all "Sacrifice your kid! Flood the world! Knock down those walls and kill everyone inside!" but is pretty out of character for most non-vengeful turbolaser versions of Jesus. So, yes, a lot of these prophecies are bad biblical fanfic.

Of course, Fred's already covered this over at slacktivist with "goofy hat Jesus".

Oh, and no, the world's not going to end tomorrow. We'll still be here for my regularly non-updating blog. But just in case it does, I'm gonna be out where things are fallen down and trying to fix them, and rescue people. Because that's what good guys do. They don't sit back and laugh at other people's misery.

Okay then.

Aug. 12th, 2010 03:59 pm
So I heard this guy was pushing the "America was founded as a Christian Nation!" thing, by trying to say the Founding Fathers were his variety of Christian, but that wasn't what made me facepalm. No, he was trying (of course) to justify it by talking about the Founding Fathers, particularly Thomas Jefferson.


Has he ever read ANYTHING Thomas Jefferson wrote? (Even leaving aside the Jefferson Bible where he wrote out all the supernatural parts)

"But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." Notes on Virginia, 1782

"Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear". lletter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

"Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination." Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

"I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." - Jefferson memorial, from this letter, coming near the end of the third paragraph. The sentence before it is "They believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes." The "they" he's referring to is "the clergy", who "hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U. S."

Hell, Thomas Jefferson was the one who came up with the phrase "Wall of separation of church and state" in this letter.

If he wanted to argue that some of the Founding Fathers were religious, that's fine and dandy, but still wouldn't prove that his religion now should be given legal preferences over others. But Thomas Jefferson? Seriously? Seriously?
One of the things I don't get about people like John McCain's new buddy John Hagee, (besides the anti-Catholic bigotry, the anti-Muslim bigotry, and blaming Hurricane Katrina on "God's wrath") has to do with their whole obsession with prophecy and the end of the world. Specifically, their "support" of Israel. Which is to say they want the state of Israel to exist, and all the Jews to go there, because that will bring about an invasion by Russia and the Arab states which will be destroyed by God and signal the beginning of the end of the world (no, really).

Besides the obvious contradictions of "supporting" a country to hope it's destroyed, what that means for their conception of God is confusing. (And not just because if they're right, their God is a petty, nasty, insecure little jerk) They want to "support" Israel to bring the end of the world quicker. So they want to force God's hand. Isn't God supposed to be all-powerful (and all-knowing, which would seemingly make their plotting pointless), so why would God HAVE to do something just because these people met certain conditions? Wouldn't all-powerful include the power not to do something? Or for God to decide "Nah, I don't wanna do it that way after all." Why would an all-powerful God need a megachurch pastor to help bring about the end of the world, anyway?

And y'know, maybe I just read too many comics and played too many RPGs, but the easiest shorthand I know to tell the good guys from the bad are the good guys are the ones trying to prevent the end of the world.
Now, I realize the Catholic Church is heavily invested in maintaining the power of traditional hierarchies, since they are one. But this is really goofy. VATICAN CITY (RNS) Nuclear arms proliferation, environmental pollution and economic inequality are threats to world peace -- but so are abortion, birth control and same-sex marriage, Pope Benedict XVI said in a statement released by the Vatican Tuesday (Dec. 11).

Here's the actual document.

I've never understood that argument. How having gay people marry is "violence" toward "the family", instead of, y'know, allowing more kinds of families. I've never understood the Catholic opposition to birth control either, since they say it thwarts God's will, but I'd kinda figure an omnipitent, omniescent God like the Catholic Church says they believe in wouldn't be foiled by some hormones or a little bit of rubber, if you REALLY were supposed to have a kid.

Aside from that, and the fact I'm not entirely sure what he's trying to get at in regards to the section on "moral law" other than as a plea to go back to "traditional norms" of some kind, the rest of it's pretty good. But dude. Gay Marriage, birth control, and abortion are "threats to peace"?
So, he's dead. I find it hard to be terribly upset about this. I know, it's not good of me, the man preached racism and hate for years. And he died wealthy, at age 73, after the peak of his political influence. The damage he did to our politics and our country will take many years to undo, and the worst of the heirs of his ideology are still around. And the media mostly is playing dumb about it, as far as I can see. There's an instinct in America to speak well of the dead, or at least not speak badly of them. And it's admirable to a point, and let the body cool and all, but hiding the things he did in vague words about his being "controversial" is dishonest and does no one any good.

So here's an obituary from the World Socialist Website, and here's an excerpt from Jerry Falwell's autobiography about a batshit crazy prank his dad played, (warning, involves deliberate torture of an animal, his dad was batshit crazy). Seriously completely batshit crazy. And if Jerry Falwell, like most people, modeled his image of God on his parents, especially his dad, no wonder Jerry Falwell's God is completely batshit crazy.

But while that may explain some of his actions, it doesn't excuse them, and it definitely doesn't excuse all the people who helped him rise to a position of power and gave him a soapbox for his craziness and hate.

In the end, I guess I want to feel more conflicted than I do about his death, because I should appreciate everyone's humanity etc etc, but I really don't. The man preached hate that covers, one way or another, me and just about everybody I know, and he parlayed this hate into an enormous political movement that helped us end up with Bush and all that's gone along with him. So no, no sympathy for the dead from me.

I think I may go back and revise this into a conversation with an imaginary person later.
Okay. So I feel like I agree with people who say religion shouldn't just be about making you feel warm fuzzies, though it certainly does do that for some people. And it shouldn't just be a list of things to do or not do, because some Big Scary says so. It shouldn't just be about enforcing social norms, or giving people something to do on Sunday. It shouldn't just be about damning people who disagree with you to your particular brand of hell. It shouldn't be assumed to be a literal explanation of the world, because that usually turns out poorly.

So, what I wonder then, is what should religion do? I guess like anything else big, it's something different to lots of different people. What's the point of religion? I'm not trying to attack anything here, I'm honestly curious and trying to understand.
Okay, so last year I talked about part of how I don't get monotheism. Though in retrospect, I'm not sure saying "I don't get it" is quite the right way to put it, but it's the easiest and closest thing I can think of. Maybe it just doesn't work for me.

Polytheism doesn't work for me. Yeah, it addresses the problems about all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, since the gods usually are none of the above. So when bad things happen? Well, it's because Loki's a dick. Or because Zeus was busy chasing ladies and not paying attention to who was driving the chariot of the sun. Or something along those lines. There's no Problem of Evil, because well, there's evil gods and good gods and mostly gods in between.

There's a couple problems with it still, for me. Firstly, that well, most of the gods are dicks. That's not really a glowing recommendations. And yeah, some of them could be not dicks, but they'd still be gods. They (in theory) have all this power, power we don't have. It's nearly impossible to have any kind of meaningful relationship with that kind of power differential. Hell, most people just tell their boss at work what they think the boss wants to hear, and a boss doesn't have anywhere near the power a god theoretically would. I think Cohen the Barbarian said it best, in The Last Hero, to paraphrase "Temples and such are just people trying to make friends with the biggest bullies on the playground." Those kinds of gods aren't worth worship, of any kind. And if you try too hard, you just end up with Stockholm Syndrome. That just doesn't work for me. I guess it's slightly ironic that I first learned about how communication is nearly impossible between people in different positions of power through Discordianism, which is nominally a religion. But not very many Discordians are all that reverent to Eris, and I don't think she cares.

But there's another major reason I can't really make polytheism work for me either. It just seems like it makes the world more complicated. Simple isn't always the best or right answer, it's true, but there's no reason to add things that don't need to be there if a simpler explanation works, either. Why add a god in charge of making sure it rains, for example, when rain can be explained just as well through the interaction of things that are already there? Wind, sun, air, water, and thence rain. It doesn't really need an anthropomorphic representation to make it work. So really, I don't care if there is a god of rain or not.

I can see using gods or demons or angels or whatever as metaphors for parts of personalities and stuff, and not literal, that I can see. I'm in no position to say anything bad about that, what with my own little supernatural cast of figments hanging around LJ. But I'm not really sure if that'd count as religion.

I know there's factions that'd take offense at the first point I made way up there. After all, I'm daring to judge gods, and project my own limited human understanding onto them, when their ways are mysterious and beyond our ken. My reaction to that is pretty much just "Yeah, so?" The only understanding I have is my limited human one, so that's the one I have to use. The only other alternative is to not even try and understand or think, and that's not faith, that's just stupid.

I keep thinking there were a couple other points I wanted to make, but this one's been half-written in my head for a month now, so if I remember it later, I'll update this or make another post. This one's waited long enough. Wonder how many people this'll get mad at me.
Whatever happened to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, anyway? Sold to buy diapers for baby Jesus? Used to bribe soldiers to get across the border into Egypt? I mean, they're really not practical gifts for either a newborn or a budding family.

That's IT?

Dec. 24th, 2006 08:08 am
Okay, so I ran across something today. I knew the Catholic Church doesn't allow women to be priests, but I guess I never really thought about why. I figured it was just another of those things. Leftovers from the Middle Ages. So I found out the official reason. Because Jesus only had guys as disciples. That's pretty weak.

And apparently, there's an underground group of women priests who go around ordaining other women, who say they were ordained originally by some guy deacons and such. There's a story in that idea, I think. Especially since these women priests have made Pope Palpatine excommunicate them, which was something I'd half-thought only happened back in the middle ages. INTRIGUE!

More here and on Google
So I'm researching various religions version of the end of the world, right? At this point, Hinduism. Which of course leads to Kali and Shiva, and there's a mention on Wikipedia about how when Kali's unleashed, often only Shiva can calm her down. And one of the examples of ways he contained her is "challenging her to the wild tandava dance and outdoing her."

An actual precedent for a dance-off. AWESOME. Now, I could confirm this with other sources, but the idea's too awesome, so I'm not sure if I CARE.


Nov. 10th, 2006 02:46 pm
Somehow, it feels kinda weird to be having so much fun writing about things involving angels and demons and the end of the world, and I haven't even gotten to the big dramatic parts yet.

On the other hand, I think the interpretations I have in here of angels and demons and a bunch of other stuff would probably still have gotten me burned at the stake four hundred years ago, so that's all right.

The War in Heaven, abridged )
There's a lot of things I know I don't understand. Especially lately, I've become more aware of the limitations of my own understanding. None of that "Things Man Was Not Meant to Know" nonsense, but more Things I Don't Get. I mean, there's some things we probably can't know, at least not yet. Either because we don't have enough information, or it's something our brains never had to evolve to wrap around back when we were hunting mammoths on the African plains. Like six dimensional geometry and stuff. Which isn't to say we'll never be able to understand them.

But that's not the kind of not understanding I'm talking about. The stuff I'm talking about is more mundane. The kinds of stuff I don't understand because of how I've lived so I never learned it early enough. Or the kind of stuff that's opposite a lot of the things I care about. Or the kind of stuff I just haven't put the time and/or effort into learning about it and understanding. And there's probably some things I'm unconsciously blocking myself from understanding. And there's some things where I can practically FEEL there's something important and meaningful there, I can feel the shape and edges of it, I know it's there, but I just can't quite grasp it.

For example, Religion. This isn't really an anti-religion rant, this is a "I don't understand this" post, but might still offend some people. I'm still curious though. )


Sep. 20th, 2006 10:21 pm
Okay, y'know, I'm cynical about religion in general and the people who claim to be the "best" in specific, but even so, somehow I managed to be surprised when I see things like this from places like the "Traditional Values Coalition".

"The Traditional Values Coalition asked members of Congress to support President Bush's reform of prisoner treatment policies because "this is a war unlike any other we have fought -- the enemy is faceless and deliberately attacks the innocent."

TVC Chairman Rev. Louis P. Sheldon said American military and intelligence experts are hampered by a vague "outrages upon personal dignity" statement in Article Three of the Geneva Convention of 1950.

"We need to clarify this policy for treating detainees," said Rev. Sheldon. "As it stands right now, the military and intelligence experts interrogating these terrorists are in much greater danger than the terrorists. Civil suits against our military personnel are tying their hands as they try to get vital information which will save the lives of our young military people and the innocent."

"Our rules for interrogation need to catch-up with this awful new form of war that is being fought against all of us and the free world. The post -World War II standards do not apply to this new war.

"We must redefine how our lawful society treats those who have nothing but contempt for the law and rely on terrorizing the innocent to accomplish their objectives. The lines must be redrawn and then we must pursue these criminals as quickly and as aggressively as the law permits.

"And since this debate is, at its very core, about preserving the traditional value of prosecuting injustice and protecting the innocent, TVC will score this vote in both the House and the Senate. We encourage all of our supporters and affiliated churches to contact their elected representatives and let them know we support President Bush's efforts to update our methods of interrogating terrorist detainees in order to provide greater protection for our troops and the innocent.""

So... these people, who claim to be representing a God of mercy and justice and stuff are all for torturing the innocent. Um. Dudes. The irony abounds. Along with the stupidity and the hypocrisy.

Borrowed from Obsidian Wings


Sep. 13th, 2006 11:21 am
So I just had a couple Jehovah's Witnesses drive up and try and talk to me about the Last Days. I kinda wish I'd had more time to actually argue with them, but I got the feeling they figured out pretty soon I wasn't gonna be a good target, so they gave me the obligatory handouts and left. Just because I told them I don't think it's the Last Days, or that terrorists are really going to blow us all up. I didn't even tell them who I thought was giving the terrorists the most help in spreading fear!

And then I went to their site and one of their featured articles is about how Yoga is a dangerous outgrowth of "spiritism" and should be avoided. Which almost makes me want to take up yoga, but I'm too lazy. Other than the silly parts of their religion, they seemed like nice enough people, though.

A Link

Aug. 7th, 2006 11:50 am
Sorting Out Life as Muslims and Marines

I don't really have anything to say about this. I just thought it was worth reading.
Let's see what happened when the BBC asked some Satanists..

"Rev. John D Allee is the founder of the First Church of Satan in Salem, America, which split from the original Church of Satan 12 years ago.
"I plan to take Lillee, my High Priestess, to the opening of The Omen movie," says the self-styled Dark Pope. "Then it's out for dinner." "

"The Temple of Set takes a more solemn view. This is another breakaway from the Church of Satan, claiming a history of several thousand years, and "formally incorporated in 1975 CE".
Louise Renard is a priestess and assistant to the executive director in London. "There is nothing significant about that day or that number" she says. "Unless the new Omen movie turns out to be better than expected." "

"Meanwhile, Vexen Crabtree, the Minister of the London Church of Satan, plans to go to one of the alternative clubs that are celebrating 06/06/06. "My official take on it is that 666 is really only a Christian number," he explains. "But any excuse for a party is a good one.""

And I'm amused by the way any subculture seems to have the same kinds of splits over nonsense. Reading some of the details, it's like nerds arguing over Superman v Batman, or Mac v PC, or radicals fighting over the best way to smash the state.

And for more fun, a collection of Numbers of the Beast.

(All the links came from slacktivist's post about yesterday.
He's been hanging around for a couple of days now. Not saying anything, just sort of there every so often. Occasionally, a toenail spanged off somewhere. Finally, I decided if he was going to hang around, I'd get something useful out of him.

"I have a question," I announced.

"I know," the buddha said.

"Of course you do. Cosmic one-ness and time being an illusion and all that. So if I didn't ask, would you get a headache?"

"I'd wait. Like you said, time is an illusion, whenever you ask, that would be when you ask."

I pointed at him. "That," I said, "Is complete and utter Mystic Bullshit. Of course whenever I ask will be when I ask. That's not metaphysical wisdom, that's a tautology. But that aside, the question. There's a whole bunch of various vaguely new-agey CDs out there called things like 'Buddha Lounge' or 'Buddha bar' or 'Buddha Laundromat' or so on. Are those all approved and do you guys get any royalties from them?"

"Unfortunately, there wasn't anything like the Trademark Office around back then. And by the time things like that were invented, there were already so many competing claims, there would have been no point. Besides, a buddha's not interested in money or the things of the world."
"I dunno," I said, "that kind of cash could buy a lot of saffron robes. And what if somebody does something stupid and slaps your name on it?"

He shrugged. "What of it? Their stupidity would be of their making, not ours. And it would hardly be the first, nor the last, stupid thing done with or for the name of religion."

"Speaking of things done in the name of religion. There's something I started wondering lately. Why does it seem like so many religions, especially conservative ones, have such small and petty and fragile visions of God?"

He perched across the room, on my awesomely ugly retro bedside table. "I'm not sure if asking you to explain would make anybody any less mad at you, but you'll probably go on anyway."

"Yes, I will. Okay, obviously, this doesn't apply to a lot of religions, mostly some of the stripes of Christianity that get on display here in the US, but. Okay. So God is omniscient and omnipotent, and yet, we humans can meddle in God's plans. It just seems like, y'know, if God's all of those things, wouldn't any Plans have a capital P, and be flexible enough to deal with a little meddling? I mean, hell, half the time more interesting things come out of actual interactions than what you planned, you know what I mean? So saying God's Plans can be wrecked by us meddling kids seems kinda weak. Not very Ineffable."

"You might want to investigate philosophers besides Terry Pratchett some time."

"Hush, I'm pontificating. Except I don't have a funky hat like a pontiff. Hang on." I dug around a little and found the Robin Hood hat I'd gotten at the renfaire last year. "There we go. Hat. Now, as I was saying. Yeah, a lot of the stuff I'm thinking is covered in Good Omens, but some of it, actually, I got from C.S. Lewis. Which is why I don't understand the God of the fundies. Any God worthy the name, I'd figure, would care more about what kind of person you are and what you did, rather than if you said the secret words to get out scott free. Of course, that leads to all sorts of fun theological arguments I really don't care about, like if God is infinitely just and infinitely merciful, which wins? Rock, meet object."

"Do I even need to be here? There's things I could be doing."

"Yes. Mad ranting always needs an audience. See, the thing in particular that set me off was sex, which lots of religions seem to hate. But in particular about sex, birth control. The Catholic Church doesn't like birth control, for reasons I've never quite gotten. The Internets tell me it's because Catholics should "always be open to the possibility of pregnancy" and suchlike, and that just sorta baffles me. Okay, so you're telling me, if God wants somebody to get pregnant, God's going to lose to a piece of latex? I don't think making something that thin rip would take any kind of miracleing, you know? It's part of the whole thing I was talking about before. If God made humans, God knows what humans are like, and God would know how people are going to react. And if God knows all that, there doesn't seem to be much room for free will, but that's a whole extra ball of stuff I don't feel like getting into, this was just inspired by the ridiculous idea that an omnipotent God is going to be defeated by a condom."

He perched there quietly for several seconds. "What? Oh, you finished. Part of the problem is you're you. You're not these other people, so you see things through what you've seen and done and think. And a lot of religion ends up being a giant ink-blot, since it's almost by definition about things that the human mind isn't capable of understanding, yes, objection noted, people project themselves onto it, their hopes, their fears, their values, through all sorts of different things. How many different ways do people read any holy book? And you value cleverness, so you figure well, of COURSE, God's going to be clever, if there is a God. Other people look for other things, so those are what they see the most."

"Like the cliched anecdote about blind men and elephants," I said.

"Cliche, but yes. And the other thing you forget is not everyone thinks like you. People don't think all of their values out all the way, to see where they conflict. Not even you, for all that you sit around typing to yourself. Cognitive dissonance isn't a fun feeling."

"Meh," I said, "It's not like I have anything else to be doing."

He tipped gently over onto the bed, without moving otherwise. "So you say, but is there any real excuse for being bored in this world, now?"

I shrugged. "Probably not," I admitted, "But that still doesn't answer my original question."

"Perhaps you should ask the Pope. That might be interesting to see. On the other hand, you made up a world where the plans of the gods can be knocked willy-nilly pretty easily, would you really find the world interesting if things couldn't be hacked?"

He had a point. Which is of course when he got up and left.

Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
The Joy of Scrubdom
More About Failure
Book Reviews with a Buddha
Who's Afraid of a Little Enlightenment?
Special Guest Star Daily Drabble
"I'm thinking of getting a haircut," I said.

The buddha gave me an indecipherable look. "For months, you don't call, you don't write, nothing, and this is what you want to talk about? Just pick up the thread of a conversation out of nowhere, no greeting, no nothing?"

"Dude, you sound like a needy girlfriend."

"Any girlfriend you didn't talk to for months would be an ex-girlfriend. You couldn't just show back up and be 'Hey, show me your wisdom, baby.'"

"I hate that term. Ex-whatever. I'm not quite sure why. It just sounds mean."

The buddha sat on the my coat on the bed. "And you know, it's kind of insulting. A haircut? That's a great moral crisis worth asking a fictional construct of a great spiritual teacher?"

"Dude, my hair's longer than yours now. It'd be a hell of a change. Though honestly, long hair, at least this long, is a pain in the ass, and totally hasn't done anything to attract women anyway, so, y'know."

"Why are you asking me, then, since you seem to have made up your mind already?"

"Because I'm not quite sure. And because then I can blame other people if it looks like crap later."

He nodded. "Ah. Yes, I'm sure 'A hippie surfer buddha made me do it,' would be believed."

"You never know. And why not ask you? It's certainly more practical and more likely to affect my life than asking about the Hidden Secrets of the Universe, or the Fundamental Nature of Reality. What're those gonna do for me? Unless knowing them gave me magic powers, which could be cool. I'd be so much better at using them than Neo was."

"One would hope knowledge of the fundamental nature of the universe would inspire something more than kung fu superpower gymnastics."

"Maybe. But maybe the fundamental nature of the universe is Awesome, and those are definitely Awesome," there's an idea I could run with, so I started scribbling it down, "The Universe should be made of Awesome. And then those who can tap into the nature of the Awesome are capable of performing feats of Awesomeness. But to get a story out of it, there'd have to be an opposite. Something to drive conflict. What's the opposite of Awesome? Boring? Stupid? Lame? Cliche? Hmm. It could line up on the Discordian false dichotomy, with Greyface being for Boring Order, and Eris being for Awesome Chaos, except it's not the chaos and order parts that even matter in that, it's the creative and destructive, but Awesome and Boring don't match up to creation and destruction very well, so that's probably a dead end. But hmm. A theology of Awesome. That could have possibilities. Then there could be the false prophet of Awesome, X-Treme. Who's not really Awesome, and seeks to cheapen and deny the Awesome, and is really just a fake. Hmm. I bet it could sell in Hollywood, it'd be like a hipster version of Gnosticism."

I don't think the world's ready for Awesome. )

For Those Just Joining Us:
Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
The Joy of Scrubdom
More About Failure
Book Reviews with a Buddha
Who's Afraid of a Little Enlightenment?
Special Guest Star Daily Drabble
One of the things I've never understood about a lot of brands of Christianity is their references to people as sheep. (I think they may use the same metaphor in other religions, but I don't remember off the top of my head.) Saying people are sheep isn't exactly a compliment. Sheep aren't among the top ten brightest mammals. Or even the top 100, probably. Mostly, they hang about and bleat and work on being fluffier and tastier. It's doesn't seem like a good way to convince people to join you. The shepherd analogy's not as bad, with the looking out for and caring for acts it implies, but there's problems there, too. Most herd animals aren't that bright, and most of the time they're just being raised to be eaten, with other benefits they provide along the way. Which would work fine for, say, Cthulhu, but again doesn't seem like a very good way to convince people God is infinite and loving and caring for them.

I can see uses to the comparisons, if you can make people buy them. Especially for priests or kinds who're "ordained by God." "Just stay home and don't think about it and let us take care of things like good little sheep. Now hold still, this won't hurt a bit. I need a nice wool jacket to protect you, after all." But that doesn't really leave much in it for the sheep, who'd be better off forming a co-op where they could get better prices for their wool and probably build some kind of better sheep-shaver that's more comfortable for the sheep, since they are sheep. And I think I've taken that metaphor far enough to break.

This leads to a larger point that I don't really have time to get into (because I've spent too long grazing and looking fluffy today), about how it's hard to convince people, even if you're right, if what you're saying attacks part of their self-image or things they value, which I'll save for another time. And yes, I know Terry Pratchett did the Sheep/Goats thing much better and more concisely in Small Gods, but if I didn't talk about things just because Terry Pratchett has already said them better, I'd have nothing to say.



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