Loud Laughter

In the LDS temple a person takes on covenants. These are promises between you and God, things you promise and presumably will be rewarded for if you hold to that promise. The main ceremony in the temple is called the endowment. It comes after what are known as initiatories.

In the intiatories you receive blessings and anointings to become Gods and Goddesses, if you are super awesome you later on get a second anointing (also known as having your calling and election made sure) where you are made Gods and Goddesses. It is a ceremony that that involves females in priesthood ordinances. (making it even more unique) but this post isn’t about that.

This one is about the endowment, the ceremony that all temple going LDS members are familiar with. To many the first time through the temple is a bit unnerving, you don’t expect anything that goes on there because it is all kept secret from you before going in. You are even given a chance to bailout before they tell you what is going on. But seriously who is gonna walk out in front of all your relatives and people you look up to in there watching you go through this?

I personally went pre 1990, before they removed the penalties of death from the oaths. I still remember how freaky those were and how surprised I was that these ordinances decreed by God himself to his prophets had changed when I got back from my mission. But even more than that there was this one covenant that always worried me. A promise to avoid loud laughter. Seriously you promise to do that. Right between the promise to not say anything bad about church leaders and the promise to avoid light mindedness.

This one really worried me. Because I am a natural goof I suppose, I love to laugh loud and enjoy my life. My whole family does. Poking fun, having a great sense of humor. It was a major survival skill for me. Sometimes I’d be full on belly laughing and just cut it off to avoid it. After a while I decided God must have meant only laughing about church stuff or making fun of that. So I figured normal laughing as ok, even if it was ‘loud’. I like most believers rationalized my own behavior by liberally applying my own interpretation to the cognitive dissonance created by these conflicting beliefs.

These days I am pretty light minded all the time. Don’t worry about much about all this speaking evil of the church and its leaders either. I figure if I am wrong about this religion and it really is the one-‘n-only-right-one, then I am pretty well screwed in the next life. And you know what? To me that is ok. Because of one reason. I am not afraid. I am not going to go quietly into the night pretending to be someone I am not because of a threat of eternal damnation. This being that I was taught loved me as a father seems to think that love requires me to kneel in front of him and not think for myself. As a father who deeply loves my own children, the very last thing I would have them do is kneel and worship me. I would never tell my kids to stop thinking and reasoning for themselves. Because that is not love. Demanding obedience and threatening punishment is not love. It is oppression. It is not kindness, it is fear mongering.

A leader that uses threats to control is not a person worth following. And that is ultimately what most religions teach, do or be damned. A father that beats his children when he screw’s up is not a perfect being and not worthy of unquestioning obedience. So if I’m wrong and the Mormon God whom I covenanted with in the temple is real. And because of my apostasy I am prevented  from living with my family in the next life or condemned to outer darkness on judgement day. So be it. I will gladly face him and laugh out loud. Because fear no longer controls me.

fall or fly

 

Banana-pologist

When you spend way too much time on the internet studying the case both for and against religion like I do, sooner or later you are gonna run into this video.

There you have it. The banana is proof of God. Case closed right?

It is so simple and straight forward that I really like it, I have personally found similar evidence that the Fridge must love me because the ice created by it seems to put my drink at the perfect temperature for a hot summer day.

But sarcasm aside, lets think about the banana proof for a minute. He talks about how it so perfectly fits his hand right? It is so perfect that this banana is the “atheist nightmare!” Well I got news for you buddy. Things that fit in my hand perfectly don’t produce nightmares 🙂

Joking aside though. Really? This is your proof? Did you know that banana have a long history of genetic modification that yep, we humans did to make them just right for us? Heck, even a little bit of research uncovers the fact that the banana today is a replacement for the one we really liked that went completely extinct!

Bananas are a genetic clone, that means they all have have same DNA. So the type of banana that ‘fits perfectly in his hand today’ might get completely wiped out by disease tomorrow. Then we will have to root around and find a new version of the atheist nightmare.

The argument for religion based on this video can pretty easily be summed up in the song made for the last banana-castrophy.

 

 

 

The Secret of Happiness: The Search

If you know me, you know that I’m generally a pretty positive guy. Over the last few years though as I have dissected and exposed the inner dilemmas and even the downright dishonesty that religions (not just my own) have imposed on society I have certainly taken on a more critical and skeptical approach to all things that involve beliefs. However I personally believe (ironic isn’t it 🙂 ) that you can’t critique constantly without becoming a cynic. It is a matter of feeding wolves:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

 

 

Since I started this blog I have always hoped that it would grow beyond just a critique of religion. Sure there is lot to learn when we critically examine the things we do without contemplation nor with comprehension of why we do them. Such is the nature of the self delusion that lies at the core of so many of the things we are so sure about. But also you can make a pretty good case that myth itself (which is exactly what religion is when it isn’t the source of all truth) has value in terms of teaching lessons that directly correlate to a person’s outlook on life.

So this morning as I drove to work I envisioned a series of posts that could help us find happiness. Man’s search for happiness is certainly a core component of my past faith and seems to be a competent of most of the other faiths that I have personally evaluated. Religions proffer following their guidelines so that you, the parishioner, can be happy. If so called ‘legit’ religions can do it, in essence making up their own recipe for happiness for mankind. Why not a totally fake one?

So join me as we look at what faith tells you to do to be happy. Let’s also look at what science says we need to do to increase our happiness. Let’s search together for the best practices and theories to feed the wolf that makes you happy. So that the next time someone asks you what your atheistic belief in the Fridge has to offer. You can point at how joyous it makes you and at the lessons it teaches you, and then you can ask them. “What do you think? How cool is that?”