Our guide and mentor,  Pudenda Wilson, requests the following be added to her Almanac.

In case of a persistently barking, yapping or howling neighborhood dog it is better to inform the police than to use poisoned hamburger, though the latter is quicker and more convincing.

Subject: Consumer Quandry

I have asked consumer's reports and the better business bureau to report on the conflicting offers of the catholics, prots, jews, morons, and the rest.   
I have had excellent comparisons for toasters,  vacuum cleaners and detergents but so far no survey of the afterlife promises nor of the actual prayer value of  the ‘legions.   This should be easy to test in some certified lab.  Competitive prayers with measurable results could be listed along with promptness of delivery and warranty value.  Now that should be straightforward.  Gods could be listed in order of satisfaction.   

Golly, why is everyone so touchy about testing the 'ligions?  Oh sure, in the olden days folks could be burnt or tortured then burnt or thrown out of windows (see Defenestration of Prague--Wikipedia for a fun episode involving windows.) But now that we have freedom of and from religion in America, what is their hang up?   Yeah, their children could be abused by priests and such but that is just part of 'ligious education, isn't it?

Seems you can get a swell afterlife with the right cult but how are we to choose without guidance from the experts?  Some 'ligions offer a warm afterlife on an equatorial shore with the nice white sand, the clear pale blue water with the lovely naked bar-tendernesses.  I want to go there and lounge in aeternum with fine beers and tasty martinis and be coochie-cooed by those eternal lovelies.   But of course the problem remains, which ligion should I pay dues to?  Where are the letters, emails or post cards reports from the ‘saved’?  

Wikipedia has not helped for this nor Scientific American nor the New York Times so I say until I have some definitive data to go on, I will just keep my funds for my favorite atheist, freethinker pals and organizations.   They are the only ones that have ever helped me.  Lots of them, R, Dawkins, D. Dennett,  S. Harris, C. Hitchens and the ffrf, Atheists for Human Rights and Lake Superior Freethinkers have suggested that there is a scam going on here that I should avoid.   Best advice I have had so far.


That would mean a void afterlife on that warm beach; I suppose it would be boring after a while and the sand fleas!    But also no taxes, no anxiety, no rent, no fear so I will donate to the atheist groups until a reliable report is available.

CHAUCER REDISCOVERED!


A recently discovered Chaucer story 
intended it seems for his  Canterbury Tales

[I found it crumpled under his bed.   I regard it as authentic
but then I am no scholar so let each judge it as they may]

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
THE PRIEST’S NUN’S TAIL

A fine and worthy prelate of Engelond there 
    was withal
Attentive was he to his several priestly affairs         And as well to his many secular duties also

This clerical man, yeclept Roger, 
Was nat extraordinary of stature nor of bearing
And his garb was certeyn somdeel shabby blak

He laboreth afteral in the vineyards of his Lord’s       chruche         
Oft in the soil to its murky depths  
so what might ye expect after al                
So certeyn his frock was noot as pure as was his          own veray soul forsooth

Although a somdeel learned a man he was
He dorste not show it over much as it was only of      low order
And might be detected by some of loftier degree

Full many a Sunday found him deep in prayer             before his Lady Faire            
But of a Monday and throughout the week also 
Was he knelt before the several ladies of his ward

He saw to the sacred needs of his flock        
And as well did he attend their worldly needs
Soothly he knew how their fleshly longings to           amend

Thus did our prelate his beste ay the wenches and       ladies to sate                      
lest they defiled be to some unchristian fate
It was his duty playne and never would he shirk it

Specially his attention waxed strong
for his several nuns anon
Tho they married to Christ Jesus sikerly were

Yet wayleth and wepeth they
that their solemn Lord faileth them al pryvely,
in His husbondly duties pleyne

Thus our parfit and compassionate priest                      endeavorth
For his Lord to fill in best he kan
And truth to say he filleth them all full well indeed

But epecially his sacred eye fell on a particular            nun pardee
That he chese to warm his bed at night alway
So glad she was of his especial devotions
That she satisfieth him full oft too as well

So in his parish al were saf in heaven’s perfit delit
That no oon mowe complain nor deem him nat            aright
Al that is save some sour husbonds few
But what could they seye as they faileth
in that ilke fashion as did their Lord Jesu Christus

           Alas and Amen of that

So as al koude ken, many a jolly tale had this              wight
On their journey to Canterbury for everichon to          delit
Thus the Priest’s Nun’s Tail contented was                  evermore

As Popes go........

As popes go, and they should, Pope William I, the Apostate would be an improvement.  We have lots of talk now about how different Pope Francis is from his predecessor clowns.   Still he has not dumped any of the catholic magic nor prosecuted any abusers nor protectors that I know of.  But we need to think out of the confessional box and wonder:  What would a suitably different pope be like: Look no further.  I am glad to offer my services a Pope William the I-th.  Couldn't get much differenter that that.

No problem with my apostical beliefes.  We had Pope Leo X in the Muddled Ages saying something like, "We all know how profitable this fable of Jesus Christ is for our company."  He should know. And he had lots of company among his buddy con artists.  Back then they actually did make ordinary guys with some kind of useful clout into popes.  So I should be good to go, which is what all popes should do - go away, far, far away.  Hit the road, hack, and don't come back no more.

Could happen. Maybe next if this Francis guy doesn't pan out or is poisoned in the honored tradition. And I've had inquiries from the curia.  They want to know of my clothing needs when they elect me. To be suitably different, I would need a different suit.  I have some faded yellow cord trousers but they are warn thin where I crossed my legs before I got my arthritic hips from a former god.  But I don't want to prance about in Judy Garland's ruby Slippers and all the skirts and trash that popes are fond of.  Oh, and I do love the turtleneck, long sleeve,waffle weave shirts for winter here in Minnesota where my new papacy will be installed with barrels of champagne, beer, martinis and community consentual lusty dancing girls or men if you like. I don't but to each his or her own.

I will pontificate big time.  For zample; you CAN have any erotic lust you enjoy as long as no one is abused and that includes priests and nuns who will be able to do whatever the hell they want if no children are troubled.  NO, you cannot bugger children any more, boys or girls and you can not tell them any lies about imaginary, magical two, three four or more part gods in the sky.

What the hell, I will eliminate the nastiness altogether and reserve hell for eternal vacations on pure white sand with charming pale blue water where everyone comes for retirement in their peak condition or better, in many cases.

My pontifical motto will be Chacun A son Gout -- for everyone according to her/his taste long as no one is abused.

Those who disobey will be straightway dispatched to heaven where they will be condemned to sing gawawfully long praises eternally until their throats are destroyed and then they play a harp until their fingers wither.  Oh, but then they will be forced to kiss the ass of Jesus and god until they die of infection or puke out their guts, whichever is last.

FINDING TRUTH THROUGH HUMOR


A BEDTIME READER FOR THE RELIGIOUSLY CURIOUS
WITH OTHER STORIES TO HELP YOU FALL ASLEEP


BY ME, BILL VAN DRUTEN


INTRODUCTION


How and why did a nice guy like me become religiously challenged and the founder of the Lake Superior Freethinkers? 


It all started when I became a fetus in 1932 CE.  No one asked my permission for that construction job.  Then, on the early side of nine months, I was “untimely ripped from my mothers womb” (thank you Mr. Shakespeare, whoever you are).  Again, I was not consulted when they hauled me out of my warm, if cramped, headquarters. I don't remember it, except that, as most babies, I was unprepared and sharply offended.  Then a big person in a white clown suit attacked my plumbing equipment, also without my signed consent. Everything was a shock or a curiosity from then on. What the hell is going on here” were my exact words.  Yet I adapted and gradually learned a language and such stuff as you did, too.  


My parents had post high school educations at Stanford; Dad, an MD, Mom, a nursing degree.  It was depression time in San Francisco.  We ate some very boring foods: Purple potatoes were cheaper, purple from iodine in soil, carrots, peas and some chicken if my father got paid in chickens.  Lunch was usually a homemade apple sauce sandwich on soggy white bread.  I never knew it was depression. It was just the way things rolled then, haltingly. Though educated, they told me precious little of how the world worked and nothing about religion.  


Thus, I was entirely unprepared for the horrendous news from my playmate, Eileen Farley.  She told our playgroup that because we were not Catholic, we and our parents would be going to an agonizing place, and forever, after we died.  But you can read all about that in my essay, "Do you know what happened to Eileen Farley?"  If you don’t buy my book and read that cautionary story, likely you will go to the same agony place.  Just a kindly warning!  The book is so reasonably priced and has so much worthwhile bed time reading inside the covers, (that is where the good stuff is).  


As a cub scout age nine to twelve, I learned even more about religions.  We were polished up and brought to this or that Sunday Ceremony.  Exceedingly boring there, but I discovered more shocks.  Some amazing stories were told in these sessions and even more astonishing, the adults seemed to believe whatever they were told even though the stories and various plans for when they would get dead differed wildly.  I should never have listened, but rather squirmed and poked my pew mates as they did.  Pew?  Sorry, that is their word for the harsh plank we wriggled on for an hour.  Well, you can read what happened to me in my essay, "Revelations 9-13, (years old that is)".  Now you see why you bought my book.  You will be much improved by reading it.  Though actually, you don’t have to read it; just buy it for MY sake and tell all your friends to buy it, too.  Tell them how wonderful it is; lie if you need.  Even though I am 81 years well ripened now, I can still use the proceeds - if any.  


All this and much more learned information is now available to you but I warn that it is best to take it in small doses.  


Me, Bill


FORWARD BY             the real, ME, GOD


After I created this entire shooting match for you, I rested.  Then I split up the corporation into three divisions, which is to say, me at the top of course, a baby named Jesus and a ghost.  I can’t remember why I made that ghost nor what it does now to earn its keep.  I only used it once, that was to tell the cute little Jewish gal, Mary, that she was to be the uterus for my boy.  Perhaps you believe she was grateful, as all the photos and statues show. But no! She was pissed because she had the hots for a local guy named Joe!   Plus she objected to being stoned to death by the ME-fearing Jewish crowd - as most unmarried girls that got preggers were.  Oh, just read about; it is all in my book.   After that, I made a whole bunch of officers: angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers, each with a salary and perks.  And I had another son, Satan, brother to Jesus, who has my permission to generally raise hell with you earthlings.  Yes, I made hell for you too.  All that was all a ton of work, and frankly folks, I was pooped.  


My only mistake was that I made Bill.   No ghosts or virgins used on that job, just the ordinary system.  Satan doesn’t bother him as Bill makes plenty of problems for me on his own.  You all should be grateful to me and stop already with the prayers; you know I don’t even read them! Can’t you just let me sit here in my battery heated clouds for a couple of eternities without twerps like Bill pestering me? 


To be fair though, Bill makes some very good points in this book, which you had best buy quickly before I have my fellow god up here, THOR, crisp up Bill and his book and you with exciting bolts of electric current. 


God



A POSSIBLE BUT UNLIKELY CONVERSATION OF A CHILD AND A GRANDFATHER

Child:  What religion should I be grandfather?
Grandfather: What an important but unusual question!

C: Why is it unusual?
G: Because almost all children assume the religion of their parent without checking any of the other possibilities.

C: Yes, but you know that my father is a Mormon and mother a Jehovah's Witness.
G: Sure and I see your problem.

C: I can't see the difference and they won't talk about it.  And it seems wrong for me just to pick one. Which is the real one grandfather?
G: Yes, it might upset one of your parents if you chose the other's religion.

C: And I have heard of some other religions. My playmate Eileen says her religion has the only real god and that my parents and I will die and go to a horrid place where we will be tortured for ever.  Is that true?
G: I see that you have thought and worried a lot about this so lets think it over together.  In the end though you are free to and must decide for yourself and there is no hurry at all.

C:  But what is your religion grandfather and what do you think?  I would like to be what you are.
G:  I will tell you what I think later but first I will say that I go by the best evidence that I can find and even then I am still curious and ready to change my mind if I learn of better evidence.

C: But you are old and you know a lot that I don't.  How do I find what you call evidence?
G:  Evidence is information or experience that you have collected and checked to see if it is real and fits with other things you know.

C:  That will take a long time for me and it seems hard and I will always be in doubt.
G:  Yes, that is right but it is the only way I know and it has worked very well for me.   If you start now you will be on your way and ahead of most of your friends.

C:  Do all the other adults do that?
G:  Some do it, some do it a bit, but most just follow any leader or believe any teacher or priest or doctor.  So any one that does it the way I do, always, as a habit is rare I think.

C:  Eileen says I should just have faith in her god that is the best and real one.  But then she said that her god is really three gods all in a bundle.
G:  I see that as a puzzle too and have made up my mind about it.  But if that three in one god should appear in person and tell everyone that would be evidence and I would reconsider it against other evidence that I know.

C: I think I would do that too.
G:  Good.  See, you have started.  But you can also check out Eileen's god with other evidence you know already.  What else does Eileen tell you?

C:  She says I should pray to her god as she does but she never shows me how that worked for her, except you ask god for something in a polite way and you get always it.   I have never seen anything she got.
G:  Well, ask her what she got.  And you can do as she said, try it. Pray nicely to her god or to the gods of mom and dad and see what happens.  That would be real evidence.  Ask the god to bring you something in a day or to move a mountain that you can see and then say that you will believe it.

C:  She says I need to have faith first.  What is faith grandfather?
G:  A famous author said that, "faith is believing what you know ain't so".   I means skipping the evidence part and flat out believing something even if there is good evidence against it.

C:  Do you use faith?
G:  I never use faith.  Sometimes I can't get enough solid evidence and need to go with the probabilities or the odds of something being true.  But that is because there is no other choice yet I can change my mind later.

C:  Will you tell me how you did that?
G:   Yes,  Sometimes I need to cross over a lake or river on a bridge and there is heavy fog and I can not tell if the bridge is really there.  The evidence I have was that it has been ok where the fog is before and I have not heard that the bridge fell down or had bad rust and might fall soon.  So go with the best chances and it has always worked but some day it might not.

C:  Do you do that often?
G:  As little as possible.  You know that airplanes crash and people are killed but when I need to get somewhere I will get on a plane.   The odds are very, very good that it will land safely.  Still, I know that if I flew enough one day I might crash and be killed.

C:  I like talking with you grandfather.  You tell me real things; my parents only shrug me off about the important things.    It puzzles me that there are so many gods and so many churches and some are the first church but I never see a second church.  How many gods are there?
G:  No one knows but I have read that there are at least 2000 and that is just for now.  Most people have had so many gods over the years that they are uncountable and I will tell you a secret.  There will be gods invented in the future to replace the ones we have now.

C:  You said invented.  Does that mean you think they are just made up by people?
G:  Well, yes, I let the cat slip out of the bag I guess.  Yes, I think they are all imaginary and invented by people.

C:  I thought that might be how you think and I want to know why but I am full of things to think over for now.  Can I ask you more later grandfather?
G:  Absolutely, yes.   When you are ready just ask.  



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