Opinion

Stand up for reason!

Stand up for reason!

JAMES MERRYWEATHER has a cunning plan to challenge all that baloney spouted in the name of religion. (This article appeared in the June 2009 issue.)

IF YOU ever attend church or listen to religious broadcasts you will be all too aware how much utter drivel is spoken by all present. Congregations – who seem to be unable to function unless they have reassigned all personal authority to a dictatorial leader – corporately chant muddled, meaningless, self-contradictory prayers, scriptures, versicles and responses.

The words of the hymns they sing without a thought are frequently appalling nonsense: “Ye worms of earth arise, ye creatures of the day” or “Where are ye all, ye virgins wise, The bridegroom comes in sight, Raise high your torches bright” or “Crown him with many crowns, the lamb upon the throne”. A trinity should need only three, not many. And what’s a lamb doing, sitting on the throne? I thought He was supposed to be the shepherd.

Lamb of God images were heavily influenced by the 'divine revelation' of St John, in which the Apostle sees the Lamb seated upon a throne.

Editor’s note: Lamb of God images were heavily influenced by the ‘divine revelation’ of St John, in which the Apostle sees the Lamb seated upon a throne.

The clergy – professional philosophers and carers who take upon themselves responsibility for the well-being and general sanity of their flocks – routinely utter, it seems without intellectual reference to what they are saying, the most awful rot. The Methodist minister presiding over my mother’s funeral certainly did. She opened her homily with the preposterous:

I believe in Heaven, and I believe our sister Lilian is in Heaven.

My brain was privately screaming:

Why do you have to say that? If it’s true, it’s true, and if it’s really true, then it doesn’t need you to say so because it will be blinkin’ obvious. But it’s neither true nor obvious, so you have to try to justify your irrational belief by saying it out loud in front of other people. Bah! Get on with it!

But of course I kept schtum.

Nobody interrupts, interrogates or contradicts the priest. I suppose I would have upset certain family members and Mum’s friends if I’d spoken my mind, and I’d have got a “James, really!”  dig in the ribs from my sister. But our “caring pastor” presumed everybody would insipidly accept her daft monologue and didn’t give a damn about the intellectual dignity of those present who actually thought for themselves and might, for well thought-out reasons, not agree.

Priests generally don’t pull themselves up with a jolt of realisation that something they just said was really crass. The gullible faithful swallow it all without question and, anyway, they dare not contradict them, or even consider that they could. Codswallop, no matter how primitive, infantile or downright barmy, becomes truth if they just say it, denying it access to the brain.

Reader:

This is the Word of the Lord.

Congregation:

Thanks be to God.

No it isn’t! Don’t be absurd. What has just been read is a snippet from an old foreign book that, because of some traditions you haven’t bothered to think about or contradict, you happen to hold sacred. The only reason to think it’s the word of the Lord is because it says so inside. Are you not embarrassed by such sloppy logic? If I were in your shoes I’d be mightily ashamed.

When non-believing philosophers point out the silliness of such behaviour they are reviled for stridency, disrespect, rudeness, even ignorance, which, the faithful could discover if they actually read the books of Russell, Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Grayling et al, properly if at all, is untrue. These authors just speak out frankly, presenting measured arguments, but some people simply don’t like what they say and their reactions are knee-jerk.

I have a cunning plan. We non-believers should unobtrusively infiltrate church congregations. Each time the vicar or minister or priest or pastor or preacher says something daft (as they surely will), we should muster our courage, raise a hand, be recognised, stand up and politely ask him or her to justify or explain it. Of course, the congregation will gasp at the effrontery of it. They will turn and stare in disbelief and outrage. But we must stand our ground and not be intimidated by the implicit demand that we should, like them, pay respect to the cloth through dumb, unquestioning silence.

Why should the clergy not take responsibility for what they say and do? They have got away with universal obedient respect for too long. They used to frighten or beat it into people, but now they don’t need to. As Daniel Dennett has shown in Breaking the Spell, many religious sects are self-propelling, with believers kow-towing habitually and voluntarily because of tradition: they do it because it’s what they do and only a general organising convener is required to maintain their ritualistic activities.

If what the clergy teach is correct, justifying it will present these trained professionals with no difficulties. If it’s not, shouldn’t they be exposed and obliged to retract their banal utterances? All other professionals have to defend the positions they take. The politician routinely confronts vigorous grilling from journalists and the electorate, the comedian must entertain his/her audience or be booed off the stage and the career of the scientist stands or falls on approval by squadrons of hypercritical peers.

The law is dependent upon the rigorous application of evidence and logical discussion to protect us from miscarriages of justice, and medicine fails if rigour is not applied at every stage in the research and application of drugs, surgery and even placebo treatment, and doctors who kill their patients are soon found out and kicked out.

But the church stands on a foundation of total baloney and not only gets away with it, but is applauded (silently, for clapping in church is a heinous transgression). Vicars can talk drivel and teach boloney and carry on regardless.

hell

Though many of them are tireless carers for people (a calling for which religion is not a requirement), they can, if they choose, spend an entire career labelling their beetle collections or playing with model trains and declaiming gibberish in church one day a week. It can be an easy life and it’s a shameful state of affairs.

We often hear about the “moderate” church, which I suspect, doesn’t exist. There may be some deeply reflective theologians who take a moderate, modernistic view of their scriptures, but if you listen to, say, Sunday Worship on BBC Radio 4 with a critical ear you will soon discover the worshippers there take the Bible and the liturgy as literally as any fundamentalist.

They happily chant in chorus a load of top award-winning, twenty-four carat trumpery moonshine. They confidently claim to believe in the virgin birth and resurrection, both of which are biologically impossible, and accept the stories in the Bible as true narrative, rather than a self-contradictory, outmoded muddle of history, poetry, folklore, poor remembrance, ignorance and wishful thinking.

Children are habitually taught about the creation as described in Genesis by a Bronze Age desert tribesman who had no way of knowing what really happened, the story of naughty Adam and Eve and a talking serpent, and of a physically impossible world-wide flood that, if true (there are hundreds of simple arguments to show it is not), would turn scientific fact on its head.

They are told about a really nice man who convinced people he once walked across the surface of a lake, could apparently quell storms when he might actually have applied a little meteorological knowledge and perfect timing to the problem, and could do simple conjuring tricks that were reported, much later, by people who weren’t present, as miracles.

Rarely are children told that these stories are just stories, and of course, in many churches they are told emphatically that they are absolutely (“gospel”) true. Rarely are they encouraged to consider that, rather than being a bafffling mystery when Jesus apparently fed five thousand people on a few scraps of bread and fish, the point of the story might be that the generosity of a small boy shamed a selfish crowd into sharing the lunch they intended to keep for themselves, or that the story might not actually have been true but was a rather good morality fable.

Why is it so many children ask the adult-challenging question, “What’s a virgin?” How many worshippers really ponder upon the ghastliness of crucifixion, done by people to other people, and the unfeasibility of resurrection?

Why don’t they treat with healthy scepticism an Almighty God who, stretching his suspiciously human-like imagination, had to have himself, in the form of a man (or so it is written), horribly murdered in order to forgive us for a catalogue of unspecified sins allegedly committed by our fictitious ancestors? Why, if the teacher knows a lesson is based on dubious material, is there any point in teaching it, except perhaps for its literary or entertainment value? Much of what the clergy teach is plainly untrue.

We potential bold contradictors can pick on these apocrypha and many other inconsistencies (syn. nonsense), and challenge the vicar to clarify the truth of the matter, and if s/he can’t, s/he should be encouraged to talk about something more meaningful.No

When the congregation is invited to recite the prayer Our Lord taught us, we should politely ask the vicar first to review Matthew 6: 5-9.

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name, etc.

That should stop him in his tracks.

If minister or Bible reader bleats on about the creation according to Genesis, take the side of evolution (first make sure you know the science, the Bible and creationist pseudoarguments). If he’s a moderate who has accepted the scientific fact but has mindlessly gone into biblical auto-run, he ought to be embarrassed when challenged and hopefully will pull himself together. If he’s a rabid creationist, prepare to enjoy a right old dingdong, but don’t get over excited.

Conduct yourself with dignity and stand firm but fair in the authority of knowledge, intellect and reason. Don’t argue. Let him do the talking. He’ll soon tie himself in knots or trot out nuggets of familiar creationist misinformation about evolution that you can then tackle with a swift academic blow. If you can counter his bogus version of evolution concisely and with authoritative confidence (it’s quite easy really because they have only a few pat items of utter codswallop) you can sustain your gentle interrogation.

Calmly but persistently ask questions to oblige him to deal with the science: “Why do you think that?” – “Is that what Darwin/Dawkins/Ridley says?” – “Are you certain that’s right?” as you reveal the established biological facts of which he has, inevitably, produced the usual false versions. But be prepared: even if you keep cool, the preacher and his flock might not and you could get thrown out. So why not have a press photographer in attendance?

Well, it’s a dream scenario and I’m not sure I have the courage to practise what I’ve just preached, well not on my own. Meanwhile, let us sing Hymn 666, “Stand Up, Stand Up For Reason”.

24 responses to “Stand up for reason!”

  1. […] was very disappointed to read an article entitled Stand up for reason! written by Dave McKeegan over on the atheist blog The […]

  2. Pidge (Celia Blay) says:

    What a great idea. You would be very welcome at our church, All Saints, Maiden Bradley, Wiltshire and please bring as many of the press with you as you can muster. The service is usually at 9.30 a.m. It might be difficult to start a good argument going as we haven’t a vicar at the moment and many in the congregation are deaf but you are welcome to join us for dinner afterwards or a picnic if the good weather keeps up and it’s lovely walking country. Come out with me with a horse and cart if you want, she’s a bit wild and even suicidal passengers have decided they want to live but there’s more than one way to spice up life. We’ve had a pagan in our church for the past 50 years but we are intending to move her skeleton from under the coffee table as soon as we get a faculty. Look forward to meeting you.
    God bless
    Pidge

  3. Matt Westwood says:

    As a lifelong sceptic brought up in a hyperchristian family, I confess that most if the clergy I have met personally have generally been decent blokes doing a good job of holding a community of nutcases together.

    I remember one in particular who was a veritably decent egg. Rather than bang on about how important it is to eat fish on Friday and not to wear a hat in church (if you’re a geezer, obviously), his emphasis tended to be on the “look out for the poor and sick and elderly, they’re not having too good a time of it at the moment” sort of message. I suspect that, had he decided to spout vapidly about the validity of a worldwide inundation happening for real, they’d have caused considerable intellectual distress, but (from what I vaguely remember from when I was young) I think this rather worthy man was more likely to take an interpretative attitude (i.e. “world” meant “the entire valley in Mesopotamia in which this tribe lived” and where the flood didnt actually last 40 days but just got exaggerated in the telling. (After all, it has been proved archaeologically that it did get pretty underwaterly wet in Mesopotamia sometime about 5000 years or so ago, so that hangs together.)

    Such clergymen get seriously embarrassed when fundamentalists step up and spout nonsense indeed, and IMO it would be unnecessarily upsetting to jump up and start causing trouble in church. However, a fascinating alternative is to infiltrate bible study groups and start asking the awkward questions there.

  4. Broga says:

    The first rule of the religious game is that you do not think. All reason, critical thought or reading of a biblical text with the kind of thinking you might apple to a newspaper story is out of bounds. The absurdities, contradictions and violence of the tyrant god with an insatiable appetitite for flattery pass through the brain blandly and with no effect. The fancy dress, music and buildings help deflect attention. To question is to be viewed as odd, insulting and possibly downright criminal. Sunday beliefs are accepted while similar nonsense would be viewed as nonsense the rest of the week.

  5. Equality Jack says:

    Well I don’t know about you lot but you’ll have to count me out of face-to-face confrontations where I live.

    These thick-headed fools around here have the power to make my life hell or to simply do away with me entirely.
    One word in the right ear can lead to your body never being found and local law enforcement shrugging and walking away from the whole thing.

    These are vicious batshit crazy people and I wouldn’t trust them with a piece of roadkill much less my personal freedoms or my life!

    But you want me to “stand up for reason” when the crazy fuckers have all the political power here and I have absolutely none.

    Well, I may live in the USA and have rights on paper, but in the real world I have their smelly boot on my neck and the certain prospect that this will continue for decades.

    Besides, just what the fuck do you think these people are going to do when you stand up and say shit they look upon as blasphemous, heretical, or profane? Give you a back rub?

    Did you think you were going to “rescue” these people from their cult from within the middle of the cult’s religious ceremony surrounded by all the other cult members?

    Are you fucking daft? Yes. Are you being realistic? No.
    Did you think things through? It appears you don’t have a fucking clue how to do that.

    Yes, you are dreaming. No, this is not a “cunning plan”.

  6. JohnMWhite says:

    I have to share Equality Jack’s concerns about following through with such an idea in many parts, and agree with Matt Westwood that if you’re not in fundies-ville it would be a bit unnecessary to start arguments in the middle of somebody’s sermon. We disagree with the religious and we generally stand against them and their efforts to interfere in other people’s lives, so why on Earth would we turn up and start interfering in theirs? It simply provides cover for their persecution complex and makes us look like impulsive, immature little shit-stirrers.

    To be honest I’m not sure what this article is doing here or who this James Merryweather is, but it seems like a rather sudden lurch in a not particularly constructive direction. I do agree that many congregations just seem to sit and absorb whatever their cleric says, and that sometimes it might do them good to demonstrate they have a conscience of their own. Starting an argument with a pastor who says limp-wristed children should have their arms broken seems a reasonable course of action and it’s quite disgusting to observe entire churches full of people not making a peep about that kind of barbarity. But this ‘let us sneak in and cause trouble’ idea is just juvenile.

  7. Matt Westwood says:

    @EJ: Shit, where are you? Idaho? Utah? North KKKarolina? Arkansas? All the other of this hick pigshit states that we hear about on the enlightened side of the pond?

    Funny but we sort of joke about the jackboot of American oppression over here without really believing it (it’s just a bit of light-hearted piss-taking mostly) but then we read something like that and start feeling a little bit chilly around the neck.

    Couple this with the fact that the US law enforcement agencies can waltz into the UK any time they want and pick up anybody they feel has offended their sensibilities, and drag them off back to their putrid copies of Abu Ghraib that are mealy-mouthedly called “pentitentiaries”, and it makes us even more defiant.

    Come and get me, Uncle Sam. You’ll have a fight on your hands. I’ll chew your fucking nuts off.

    (Yes, okay, I admit there are places in the US – New York and California come to mind – which come across as being fairly well civilised and cosmopolitan, and are likely to allow more freedom of expression than places where you can’t even get contraception, FFS.)

  8. Broga says:

    @Equality Jack: I understand where you are coming from on this. I have a friend in the USA who, when he and his family visited us in the UK, was an atheist as I am. When my son visited them in the USA the family were church supporters and my friend helped park the cars for the congregation. The reason being that if he did not go along with the supposed kindly, turn the other cheek and gentle Jesus loving christians he was in trouble. His business would be ostracised, his children would be shunned from social activities and he and his family would be social pariahs.

    This does, of course, raise the question of how many of these supposed christians are going through the motions because of the threat of vengeance of the surrounding christians.

  9. Chuck Longstreth says:

    “Children are habitually taught about the creation as described in Genesis by a Bronze Age desert tribesman who had no way of knowing what really happened, the story of naughty Adam and Eve and a talking serpent”

    I think that was started in the Iron Age rather than the Bronze.

  10. Matt Westwood says:

    Oh, and @Pidge: I see your church (what a delightful little village) but I have to ask: where would I park my car?

  11. Alan Mason says:

    If I went to see my doctor with health problems and at the end of the consultation revealed to them that I had been praying to god for help, I’m certain that they would pass that off and genially end the visit in their usual manner! If I had told them that I had been talking to my imaginary friend every night….psychiatric referral! Oops! Unfortunately, you are absolutely right, believers have been sleep walking for centuries! Time to wake up and examine the basis of belief! Let’s start with the so called pagan days of the week and months of the year that every believer uses without question! Children should not be taught about faith! They should be taught about the history of all religion, from it’s earliest superstitious and ignorant beginnings to date! This is the key to ending belief in any faith based on the total absence of evidence!

  12. Broga says:

    @Alan Mason: I agree. Your post coincides with a book I am reading called “The Sea Kingdoms: the history of Celtic Britain and Ireland.” Time after time pagan beliefs are assimilated by the the christian religion and assumed to be pure and newly minted christian. Another example is the way the medieval monks were given guidance allegedly from St Paul about how to cope with their harsh lives. The real source of the guidance was from the ancient Stoics e.g. Epictetus but they were not christians.

  13. Equality Jack says:

    Matt – it hardly matters where I live when law enforcement is corrupt in every state – the law enforcement unions have made damn sure of that!
    And I have, in my younger days, been on an unofficial “shit list” where I was constantly harassed by the police several times a week…and that was when I considered myself a Christian.

    I’d hate to see what they would do these days if they were to realize I am a militant secular humanist who would like nothing more than to see them all put in prison for their illegal conduct.

    Maybe they wouldn’t do much, since they have all the power and I have none and would leave me alone as long as I didn’t cause any “trouble” for them.

    I guess it all boils down to how much they see me as a “threat” to their criminal behavior, for it is the criminals amongst them who can act with impunity according to their own lights.

    I could move anywhere in the USA and meet the same criminal standards of behavior in both law enforcement and political thugs of almost every stripe.
    Every state in the nation has, at its core, corruption built into the system from top to bottom.
    The elements of this corruption, and they are many, have been slowly and secretly becoming more entrenched with every passing year. It is not just law enforcement, but the back rooms of every government office that have been gradually taken over by criminal elements here.

    Of course, they have to put on a good face for the media, who have been infiltrated and bought out by many unethical and unscrupulous people themselves, and so they are all one big happy family as far as I’m concerned with very few exceptions.

    Religion-wise, it depends not on where you live, but on what subversive religious network has bought out or taken over your local area, local politics, and local government functions.

    Were I to move to Utah, for example, I would run into the monolithic Mormon theocracy that runs in full view of anyone who cares to take a look. I would not be treated kindly, would not be allowed to work or even offered a job in the majority of Utah businesses. They treat all non-Mormons that way on average, although I’m sure exceptions exist in some dark corners of the Utah Mormon theocracy state.

    In California, I would run into different sorts of issues, not necessarily due to my atheism, but still based in the corruption and unethical conduct of law enforcement people.
    So in that respect, California would be better than Utah, but only as long as I avoided showing my atheism openly and did not try to live in a community where religious corruption was rampant.
    California and New York may be more cosmopolitan, but they have their own circles and networks of corruption too.

    And here’s where it gets nasty for me: All it takes is for one cop, one thug wearing a badge, who decides I’m his / her target for whatever reason.
    Maybe it would be because of my atheism and their religion, or maybe because I do not knuckle under enough or fawn over their words enough or do not act like some down-beaten negro slave in front of the “massa”, or for ANY arbitrary reason like my ugly face, the way I dress, or because I am driving my old beat-up truck that day.
    Whatever the reason, and it need not be religious per se, the fact remains that these thugs can do literally ANYTHING to you and lie about it – and be protected, defended, believed, respected, and whitewashed wherever necessary by the corrupt legal system we have here.

    Now I’m trying to avoid hyperbole here, but I do not want anyone visiting my country with an unrealistic expectation of thinking our law enforcement thugs are trustworthy in any way.
    They definitely are NOT, although the FBI is more trustworthy than any state, county, or city law enforcement, but how often do you meet one of them? They are busy chasing the nastier bits of humanity and do not walk down the street in a bid to find someone to bully like our local police do.

    God, what a horrible mess it is here. And we’re supposed to be the good guys. We might be the last superpower but that just means we have the most toys.
    It doesn’t equate into ethics at all.

    As an aside, I made the mistake a few years ago of calling the police at 4:30 am on a Friday morning to inform them of someone fiddling around with a church-owned truck in the church parking lot across the street.
    Long story short, it was just some kid stealing petrol out of the tank of the church vehicle – but what did the cops do?
    They slammed that kid around even though he did not resist in any way, twisted his arm so hard I heard his scream of pain from a block away, tossed him in the back of a squad car and then proceeded to laugh it up while taking pictures of themselves posing in front of this “major” crime scene for shits and giggles.

    I truly regret ever calling those pieces of shit and will gladly watch the church burn down before I ever call them again…even more so when I consider how little any church deserves physical protection of any sort.
    Here I tried to do the right thing for a neighbor and ended up regretting it more than once due to the corrupt and unethical behavior of the cops.
    It is only ironic that I was trying to protect church property, but I regret that too. All churches should be destroyed or put to better use. I see that now. They have convinced me with their actions that they claim are based in their faith and relationship with their imaginary Jesus.

    Who knew Jesus advocated corruption, greed, and thuggery?
    I guess when they figure it out I will be long dead and beyond their reach. You can’t reason with these people. They live in a fantasy world of delusional bias.
    They don’t deserve religious freedom, they deserve psychiatric treatment.

  14. Matt Westwood says:

    Take a mobile phone (cellphone to you) wherever you go and make sure that any encounter with the pigs is captured on video. Make it so that this is streamed directly to an agency which is trustworthy (there are some – or failing that a journalist) so there’s a record of what’s happening. If this is illegal in the US (I believe you have some humongously stupid laws about that sort of thing) then make sure the agency you send it to is in a foreign country (UK for example).

    We too have our problems with corruption, and the national press had a wonderful day recently when a young black guy got roughed up by some of Britain’s finest and he had the good luck to have had his phone recording the encounter (on audio only, but it was enough). Bodies swung and heads rolled.

    Similar stuff is going on in demonstrations all over London. Full details of a great deal of illegal police activity is being distributed all over the net (follow the twitter feed “HeardinLondon” for the occasional fun). This can only cramp the style of the police.

    As for me, the leviathan that is the governing state of the world can swallow me if it likes, but it will find itself with a very awkwardly unpleasant piece of irritant grit in their system. I may not survive (more than one subversive has “fallen downstairs” while in police custody) but the record of my final moments will be something which they will never be able to explain away without damage being done to as high a level as necessary to their organisation.

  15. Pidge (Celia Blay) says:

    Hi Matt,

    It is indeed a delightful village, but there is only room to park three cars by the church. A nearby lane allows a bit more parking space but as the congregation is usually in single figures and lives in walking distance it’s rarely a problem. To be honest I doubt if even the most militant of atheists would find any of the services worth heckling but I live in hope. The only person I’ve met in the village who admitted to being an atheist serves on the church council and is one of its most active supporters.
    It’s a real nuisance as I need a good ‘discussion’ with an atheist to finish off my ‘world views’ portfolio that has to be handed in in a couple of weeks.

  16. Matt Westwood says:

    Oh drat, forgot all about this. I got engrossed in my vector analsis and forgot the time. It’s now 9:15. This will have to wait for a couple of weeks till the next time my wife’s working a Sunday early shift.

  17. Equality Jack says:

    If I am ever able to afford escaping this place, I will do so with a right good will.
    But where to go? The few English-speaking countries out there have stringent immigration requirements that would laugh at me asking for political or religious refugee status.

    We won’t be seeing any changes here for decades.

    Maybe I can find a niche, a small room underneath some stairs, or perhaps a snug troll’s den underneath a bridge somewhere.

    Yes, I will survive on crumbs and tatters and bottled water with a twist cap for easy usage.

    My whiskers will grow to Gandalf-length and I will gain the wisdom of the ancient hobos and eat from old sauce pans in the wilderness.

    People will smell me for miles unless I have soap and wash water.

    I’d better write that down and make a list out of bark and old newspaper, using a bit of charcoal from my last campfire.

    Soap at the top of the list, followed by water, clean water, drinking water, string, a good pair of boots, extra underwear…and clothes that fold up small enough to fit in a thimble…a hat or two, a walking staff with a pointy end for rabid dogs and the occasional pope….cutlery, cooking utensils, toilet paper (1 roll)…a shovel to dig a pit and toss everything into and a tarp for my dead body after I die from exposure from having buried all my stuff…a blanket or sleeping bag that smells like burnt plastic…a bottle of aspirin for major wounds, a small bandage for when I lop off an arm…salt and pepper for when i have to cook the arm to survive…2 rolls of duct tape, a manual on how to cook bison, a large axe, a saw, hammer, nails, some 4 x 4s and that fucker Jesus so I can nail his dead ass to something and show him to believers, a stone sledge, a genuine potfer, a cast iron stove, 30 pounds of instant coffee in waterproof containers (I don’t want to drink it all at once),…and 20 pounds of tobacco, 3 large boxes of rolling papers, 50 pounds of flour for me to accidentally dump into the street as I stagger under the load, 100 pounds of beef jerky, a wheelbarrow, and my latest copy of Smithsonian magazine.

    But that’s just a rough draft.

    I have yet to find the money to travel anyway.

    Money is a strange thing.
    It has no value unless people agree that it has value and this creates a culture based upon illusory concepts that have no basis in reality except as a shared illusion between delusional and piebald primates.

    I really do not like all the fucking corruption. Never have.
    I hated government corruption from the get go when I was a wee lad watching the news of Nixon, Vietnam, and Kent State.
    Those are terrible proofs to a small boy that the world he has been born in is full of fucking pieces of crazy shite and they are in charge of almost every fucking thing in the world.
    Now I am almost 50 and none of this has changed for the better.

    Maybe I should write another list, set it on fire and do a war dance, drink some coffee and go play in the street.
    Okay, now I’ve completely lost the plot again.
    Has anyone seen it?

  18. Pidge (Celia Blay) says:

    Sorry to have missed you Matt. You could have got the congregation into double figures. Wouldn’t have had anything on offer as interesting as ‘vector analysis’ though, half the service was disrupted, not by a rushing wind or tongues of fire but by a noise like a demented woodpecker. Not for once the usual chorus of dying hearing aids but the stand-in vicarette’s mike battery dying. It lacked the entertainment value of the Christmas service when the long retired vicar read from the lectionary to the once a year assembled village, “Woe to you brood of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” You could see it slowly dawning on him that he was on the wrong page and this wasn’t the Christmas message.

  19. Matt Westwood says:

    “Woe to you brood of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”

    Nope, sounds like the xmas message to me. But how on earth did he know the mother-in-law was coing to stay the weekend?

  20. Marky Mark says:

    “Well I don’t know about you lot but you’ll have to count me out of face-to-face confrontations where I live. These thick-headed fools around here have the power to make my life hell or to simply do away with me entirely.”

    Where do you live Jack, West Memphis Arkansas ? They still imprison Witches down there ya know.

  21. Clive Bond says:

    I like it, I like it. Particularly the last two paragraphs.

  22. Judy says:

    I am a christian, your tactics sound interesting – why not give it a go,
    but why not challenge vicars 1:1 – why not go to see a minister or a pastor and have a good debate with them. you will both be human, you both will have something in common.
    there is nothing wrong with disagreement, but i do feel what you are proposing is a little bit childish perhaps.

    do stand up for what you believe, i totally and utterly agree here, but i think you should do it in a well mannered sense so that people who are talking to you will feel like they are being appreciated, and thus will listen and reflect more.

    no one likes a heckler in a comedians show – why folow suit?

  23. JohnMWhite says:

    Did we ever get to the bottom of this random post? It appears James Merryweather hasn’t been around before or since and it is a pretty silly, childish idea that has only made atheists look, well, silly and childish.

    Not that they quite measure up to the pathetic pearl clutching of our friends at eChurch. If you click their trackback you can see my attempt to engage them in polite conversation. I agree with them that this article here is a bit daft, but I’m curious about where all the Christian leaders are to condemn extremism. Somehow this makes me an extremist myself. And I was hoping to deal with adults somewhere on the Internetz.

  24. Wurble. says:

    I run a secular group here in sunny Bristol. About six months ago a well known local Christian troll turned up at our monthly meeting and spent the entire evening asking stupid questions and generally wasting our time.

    At the end of the meeting he approached me and said, ‘you were very good tonight, have you ever thought about attending church group meetings and disrupting their proceedings?’ He seemed to think that I might get some kind of perverse pleasure from doing so.

    The obvious point he missed is that I don’t care what some people choose to believe (some people even believe that Bristol Rovers are a good team!?) as long as their not demanding special privileges, exemption from the law and/or public money. If they are, I’ll do my best to stop them but as far as their beliefs go, it’s none of my business.

    I thought long and hard about my response to his suggestion and the best I could come up with was ‘Fuck off you twat’. I’m really rather pleased with it.