Tuesday, December 28, 2010


- Buddha

Monday, December 27, 2010

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
if either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for. -Bob Marley

Monday, December 13, 2010

The elephant and Earth's intelligent life

I recently woke up after having a dream about an endearing baby elephant that was lovingly being taken care of by the whole village in some random place on Earth, and so I googled elephants to learn more about this beautiful species of intelligent mammals.

I already have a profound respect for them: they are naturally vegetarians and therefore are naturally inclined to practicing non-violence. When I was involved in the Hare Krishna movement I learned to love animals like cows and elephants who exhibit non-violent behavior.

Elephants have brains bigger than human brains and are incredibly intelligent. Scientists now know that they have an extremely complex language and that they even mourn their dead. This may not be as outlandish as it may sound to some: dolphins also have a complex language and every member of the group even has a name that they answer to.

Humans have traditionally believed that we are the only species on Earth with the capacity for speech and complex communication, or the only intelligent species on Earth. It's only a myth. We merely are lucky enough to combine speech with our hands' dexterity so that we are able to complete tasks that other animals can't. We already know that other apes and monkeys with similar hands also have cultures and build tools to catch ants, break open nuts, for battle and for other tasks.

We even began to understand the communication biotechnology of ants and other insects, who use chemical signals and scent to let each other know where they are going and what they are doing so that, to an outsider, it appears that the entire ant colony operates as if it had a single mind. Much of the chemical communication system is orchestrated by the queen: she rules through chemistry and scent. We have begun using this knowledge to lead ants to specific places, leading them to think they are following the trail of other ants.

Ant communication is not limited to other ants: plants are able to communicate with ants and other insects in order to develop relationships that benefit both. The most intriguing case is the case of the lemon ant, who has evolved to live in the Amazonian lemon tree. The ants produce a pesticide that kills all the surrounding plants, which benefits the lemon tree by letting it monopolize all of the sunlight in the vecinity while the ants find safety, foodsources and are protected from the weather by building their colonies inside the trunk of the tree. Both species benefit.

Is the lemon tree instructing ants to do this (just as, say, carnivorous plants attract certain insects in order to trap them), or are the ants recognizing their special relationship with this plants and engineering an empire? It's intriguing either way, because it requires that all of these hundreds or thousands of little ants be on the same page, and recognize the complexity of the project that they're undertaking.

It also invites the possibility that, if we decode plant chemical communication, we may be able to use chemicals to configure the behavior of certain plants in our favor and develop symbiotic relations similar to the one that the lemon ants and the lemon trees have bioengineered.

There is so much more that could be said about the intelligence of ants. They have complex ventilation and other systems of engineering and building, their civilizations include millions of members with complex social and caste relations, they take care of each other and especially of their queens, and they wage war and enslave each other. All this intrigue happens daily in millions of ant colonies on Earth: in our anthropocentricity we forget that everyday empires crumble and rise beneath our feet.

Another recent elephant epiphany I had was the youtube video of the elephant that paints a self-portrait of an elephant handing a flower to someone. Some speculate that this elephant might be trying to communicate with people, others dismiss this as a trick he learned from his trainer. Regardless, it takes a special skill and level of intelligence for any non-human to be able to paint as precisely and skillfully as this elephant does.

All the science fiction movies that we make about similar things happening in other worlds cannot compare with the facts of nature and the realities of Earth life: especially because the intelligence and language and other features of other Earth species is truly astounding. We have become an arrogant ilk of apes. The movie Earthlings spells this out by labeling our particular forms of prejudice against other creatures of our planet, 'speciesism'.

The fact that we use words like 'beast' or 'animal' in a derogatory way is testimony of our sense of superiority. It is true that we ARE superior in many ways to other creatures, but we should one day strive to speak of how 'deelephantizing' it is for an elephant to work as a slave at a circus just as it is 'dehumanizing' for a human to work at a sweatshop. There is a moral problem there that we have to discern our way through as Earthlings.

The more we learn about the other species, the more we realize that we are just one of the many intelligent species on Planet Earth. This should be a refreshing insight. Some day, thousands or millions of years into the future, we will hopefully develop ways to communicate with other species more effectively and we may be able to continue to cooperate and work together effectively for the common good, just as we and the elephants did in the Thailand relief efforts after the 2004 tsunami.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Your god is your ultimate barrier."

- Joseph Campbell

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion

- Arthur C. Clarke

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two Spirits

I believe this is a hugely important historical film and encourage everyone to watch it. It deals with the hate crime against a nadle, or two-spirit Navajo youth.

Two Spirits are transgendered or gay people in Navajo culture. Virtually all native american cultures had their own version of Two Spirits, who were the shamans and keeper of lore.

Because of how history has been told in a dishonest way in our school system, not many people are aware of the connections between the indigenous and the queer struggles in this hemisphere. But I remember while watching the documentary 'Zapatista' on the Chiapas resurrection and struggle in Mexico, that there was deep awareness of the solidarity between the gay and indigenous struggles among Chiapas leaders, who used to tell stories to encourage people to be more tolerant of gays and spoke against homophobia all the time.

Two-spirit persons were both gay, lesbian and transgender, and before the europeans came they used to marry people of the same gender in THIS LAND, OUR LAND, regardless of what the xtian reich might wanna have us believe. They used to be the ceremonial and spiritual leaders and were afforded total and complete normalcy, not as a matter of civil rights or 'tolerance' but as a matter of basic human dignity.

There were several major massacres of two-spirits that were carried out by the whites during the expansion into the 'wild west', including some where dozens of two-spirits were mass murdered out of fear, hatred and panic and for no other reason.

What people need to understand, and the reason why this movie is so gravely important as a historical document, is that the killing of two-spirits represented the destruction of entire living libraries. Since they were the keepers of the culture and traditions, killing them represented the dismanteling of the cultural infrastructure of the native american, comparable to the extinction of the buffalo for some first nation peoples.

Please take the time to watch this movie if and when you can, and please share it with others.

Friday, November 19, 2010

When the trunk of a tree grows upward, its roots develop deep underneath the earth. The progress of upward and downward growth are in positive proportion. Thus, the tree remains strong, firm and stable. This is nature's wisdom. Weeds grow fast; they are neither strong nor stable.

- Comments to Oracle 53 of the I Ching, entitled Gradual Development

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When the people fear the government, there is Tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is Liberty.
-Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Anne Rice leaves Christianity

Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out ... in the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being a Christian, Amen.

- Anne Rice, author of Interview With the Vampire

Saturday, October 23, 2010

American Socialism rising

Newsweek, in their article We Are All Socialists Now, explains how ironic it is that the Bush years paved the way for an American socialist revolution ... and that the fear mongering that pervaded Republican rhetoric during the last election, where the word 'socialist' was thrown around like it was to be feared, made people seriously look into socialism as an alternative to the corporation-run duopoly that currently exists, which lacks transparency and efficiency.

According to alternet, Thomas Geoghegan points out in
Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?:

Germans have six weeks of federally mandated vacation, free university tuition, and nursing care. But you’ve heard the arguments for years about how those wussy Europeans can’t compete in a global economy. You’ve heard that so many times, you might believe it. But like so many things, the media repeats endlessly, it’s just not true.

Since 2003, it’s not China but Germany, that colossus of European socialism, that has either led the world in export sales or at least been tied for first. Even as we in the United States fall more deeply into the clutches of our foreign creditors — China foremost among them — Germany has somehow managed to create a high-wage, unionized economy without shipping all its jobs abroad or creating a massive trade deficit, or any trade deficit at all. And even as the Germans outsell the United States, they manage to take six weeks of vacation every year. They’re beating us with one hand tied behind their back.

The most mindboggling thing about Germany's exports is not the six week mandated vacation that every worker gets: it's outcompeting China! China is the largest country on Earth, with 1.3 billion people, whereas Germany is about the size of a large state of the U.S. One out of every five human beings is Chinese. That's how efficiently the German economy is being run.

It would be refreshing to have multi-party elections again in the US, and to finally have a truly liberal party representing liberal concerns in Washington. The Democratic party, like Bill Maher and Michael Moore have repeatedly claimed, is centrist. It does not truly speak for a liberal base, which has been powerless in American politics for way too long.

It would be refreshing if corporations were unable to purchase the politicians, if we had people in positions of power that were able to truly curb corporate control of our country, which in effect annuls democracy. What is the use of voting for my favorite candidate if the pharmaceutical industry, or worse yet Monsanto, are able to pay millions to get laws passed that are detrimental to the consumer, and to public health?

The anti-capitalist values of socialists would bring a new set of checks and balances that is sorely needed in the US. If we had a robust, vocal socialist party as part of the public discourse in American politics, the public in general and especially the consumers would be better educated about the corporations that keep the US from progressing, that keep the health of Americans poor, and that keep people sick ... because socialist leaders would create awareness about the roots of diabetes, obesity, cancer and many other health problems that arise from having powerful food and pharmaceutical industries whose lobbyists push for laws and regulations that are anti-consumer.

But for as long as only money speaks in DC, the consumer will be voiceless.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

There will be no swastikas this time but seas of red, white and blue flags and Christian crosses. There will be no stiff-armed salutes, but recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance.

- How Radical Christian Conservatives May Succeed in Destroying Democracy

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beautiful Truths

I am about to share with you what the pharmaceutical industry does not want common folk to know because it would set us all free ...

The Beautiful Truth is an immensely important film, sort of along the lines of The Future of Food and Food, Inc. but it's much more personal: it follows the admiration of a young Alaskan for a 20-th century Doctor who cured many people from cancer, and it also paints an alarming picture of what the movie calls the 'cancer industry'.

It reminded me of the lawsuit that was filed by unscrupulous drug companies from first world nations in South Africa some years back. These corporations used the legal resource of patented medicine to ask for exagerated amounts of money for their AIDS/HIV drugs when South Africa, in the midst of one of its worst health crisis in recent history, was trying to acquire cheaper versions of the meds from Brasil and India. Meanwhile thousands were dying because they could not afford their medicine in this extremely poor corner of the world.

I respect the right of an inventor to hold the patent to his inventions ... or of a writer or owner of other forms of intellectual property. But when a CORPORATION owns the patent to a life-saving medicine, our lives are at risk.

When medicine becomes a for-profit venture and health services are not seen as a fundamental human right, which is what they are supposed to be, humanity always loses. But the more dehumanizing fact is that corporations are not people, they have no conscience, they can't be put in jail if they commit crimes, they can't be shamed ... and not only does it seem that they are far more powerful than people in our day and age, but oftentimes in the case of Big Pharma we are told that we have no choice but to put our lives in their hands. The desperate need to feel better leaves people at their total mercy.

And so, to know that we can go back to nature, and get our medicine from it like the shamans of ancient times did ... and to be able to do so using the science and the vast knowledge that is available to us today, that's very liberating. This is, in part, what this eye-opening film did for me.

Another documentary to watch is Simply Raw, where a group of diabetic patients sheds all the symptoms of their condition by only eating living foods during 30 days.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Winners look for solutions.
Losers look for excuses.

- Adrienne Laris Toghraie

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Prop 8 brought down and declared unconstitutional

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

... Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result ...

Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently ... prohibiting the official defendants [state of California] from applying or enforcing Proposition 8...

Ruling excerpts from U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I finally saw the movie Agora and would definitely recommend it to anyone who cares about the history of science, empirical thinking, and how religion has stopped the expansion of human knowledge.

It deals with the murder of philosopher Hypatia by a mob of Christians in Alexandria during the fourth century of Common Era, and with the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria which held all the scientific knowledge that people had accumulated up until that time.

It was actually in Alexandria where scientist and philosopher Eratosthenes had speculated about the Earth being round and orbited around the sun. Eratosthenes worked at the Great Library of Alexandria and successfully calculated the circumference of the Earth two centuries before Common Era!

Another reason why we know that Egyptian scientists knew that the Earth was round is because they have found coca (the plant that cocaine of made from) in Egyptiam mummies from 4,000 years ago, but coca only grows in the Andes region of South America, which means that the Incas or their predecessors had traded with Ancient Egyptians long before Colombus sailed to the New World.

In other words, the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria held humanity back for about 1,500 years: it wasn't until the Renaissance that we would be able to finally question Christianity again enough to reacquaint ourselves again with all these ideas.

Please watch Agora. It is a very important history lesson for all of us.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Love and hate met in St. Louis. And love outnumbered the hate, in poetic thousands. Hate left. But love stayed. + Together, we sang."

Lady Gaga, refering to a protest by the Westboro Baptist Church (from the godhatesfags ministry) at one of her concerts

For Neda

This documentary deals with the personal story of Neda who was killed by the Islamic authorities of Iran while protesting against the government. As the documentary unfolds, Neda appears to have been rebellious from the beginning, successfully challenged the government's rules on wearing a hijab in her high school and she got away with it!: she was the first and the only teenage girl who didn't wear it in her school ... and then the documentary goes into how women are treated in Iran. This is where my tears started flowing.

I know that the video of her death is very morbid and shocking, and they do show it at the beginning, but I would invite everyone who is unfamiliar with what the current islamic regime has done to the Iranians, to please take the time to watch the documentary and share it with others. Neda has become a symbol of Iranian people's resistance and especially of Iranian women's resistance and courage.

Another movie that shows an Iranian woman's story is Persepolis. It's also based on a true story and the woman who tells the story is a very good storyteller.

Oh, and Neda's name appropriately means 'Voice' in Persian.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. -James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Atheism Rising

Traditionally, the studies that have been carried out on religious attitudes, beliefs and on the psychology of belief have focused on religious people. I believe that a thorough understanding of religious phenomena requires that non-religious people's attitudes and psychology also be the subjects of study. That is what the Atheism Rising study is all about. If you are a non-believer, please support this Study of Values, Attitudes, and Personal Histories of Atheists, Humanists, and Skeptics.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Some lessons are learned the hard way ...

I rede you, Loddfafnir! and hear my rede,—
Profit you have if you hear,
Great your gain if you learn:
Exchange of words
with a witless ape
You must not ever make.

- Havamal 122

... nuff said.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pandora exists!?

Avatarmania has not subsided.

When the movie Avatar first came out, there were news of people who entered a state of depression after watching the movie because they felt unable to live in a world like Pandora. Now, astronomy and exoplanet enthusiasts are announcing the existence of a Blue Moon light years away similar in size to Pandora.

I don't know if it's a hoax, but from my understanding the mathematical laws of probability dictate that in the vast expanse comprising trillions of galaxies with trillions of stars each, there should be at the very least several thousand Pandoras and several thousand Earths, most of them so far away that our race will never hear from them.

This brings up a current phenomenon that science fiction has made popular: it's a phenomenon where life imitates art. In fact, most of the things that were imagined decades ago by science fiction pioneers like Isaac Asimov sound pretty much like a description of the modern world in which we live: airplanes flying over people every five minutes, boxes where food can be cooked in less than four minutes, cellphones, the beginning of space exploration ... we are today already living in the world that Asimov envisioned! And the world that our contemporary science fiction envisions will be in existance in some form or another within several centuries.

The people that colonize other planets will no doubt derive much of their new folklore from modern science fiction, and much of their mythology from Star Wars, Dune and other classics. Sci-fi will provide terms, ideological and social models, even the cultural and technological ideas that will fuel future life in other planets.

I love the science fiction genre because it contains the seed of prophecy, strange as it sounds. It is the only fictional genre where humans can begin to explore the questions that are mostly unasked because we haven't progressed to that point yet, and where many of the premises it's based on are required to be pre-scientific and ergo they may potentially materialize one day in the far future (otherwise the work is considered fantasy instead of sci-fi).

By prophecy I do not mean any type of supernatural agent or revelation: prophecy is to me another name for a pop conspiracy that is cloaked in mystery and appeals to religion for legitimacy and authority in order to become a living cultural tradition.

I remember reading the Nebula-award winning novel Red Mars, and realizing that the work being done today by the Mars Society, which is attempting to organize the pioneering work of terraforming and colonizing our second home in space, is inspired in many ways by this novel, and the novel also asks the philosophical questions relevant to the expedition and the project of terraforming Mars.

Through this genre, we're beginning to mentally prepare for the next leg in our evolutionary journey: this is a huge and absolutely necessary mental exercise for our generation. Most humans haven't even begun to ponder this. Within the next century, we are about to embark on the first seeding of humans in another world, the first experiment in speciation, the birthing of what will with certaintly become the first post-human race after many generations of isolation and adaptation: the Martian Man, the Homo Martianis.

So maybe Pandora exists after all. And if it doesn't, it won't matter because some day in the far future we'll create it ...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Scans see 'gay brain differences'

There have been previous studies that have shown that gay male brains were different, but the brains of lesbians had not been studied enough. These studies had previously observed the size of the hypothalamus, a gland in the center of the brain, and the fact that the nerves that connect the two hemispheres of the brain are more extended in the brains of gay men. Now, there is a more comprehensive study:

Scans see 'gay brain differences'

The brains of gay men and women look like those found in heterosexual people of the opposite sex, research suggests.

The Swedish study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, compared the size of the brain's halves in 90 adults.

Gay men and heterosexual women had halves of a similar size, while the right side was bigger in lesbian women and heterosexual men.

A UK scientist said this was evidence sexual orientation was set in the womb.

Scientists have noticed for some time that homosexual people of both sexes have differences in certain cognitive abilities, suggesting there may be subtle differences in their brain structure.

This is the first time, however, that scientists have used brain scanners to try to look for the source of those differences.

A group of 90 healthy gay and heterosexual adults, men and women, were scanned by the Karolinska Institute scientists to measure the volume of both sides, or hemispheres, of their brain.

When these results were collected, it was found that lesbians and heterosexual men shared a particular "asymmetry" in their hemisphere size, while heterosexual women and gay men had no difference between the size of the different halves of their brain.

In other words, structurally, at least, the brains of gay men were more like heterosexual women, and gay women more like heterosexual men.

A further experiment found that in one particular area of the brain, the amygdala, there were other significant differences.

In heterosexual men and gay women, there were more nerve "connections" in the right side of the amygdala, compared with the left.

The reverse, with more neural connections in the left amygdala, was the case in homosexual men and heterosexual women.

The Karolinska team said that these differences could not be mainly explained by "learned" effects, but needed another mechanism to set them, either before or after birth.

'Fight, flight or mate'

Dr Qazi Rahman, a lecturer in cognitive biology at Queen Mary, University of London, said that he believed that these brain differences were laid down early in foetal development.

"As far as I'm concerned there is no argument any more - if you are gay, you are born gay," he said.

The amygdala, he said, was important because of its role in "orientating", or directing, the rest of the brain in response to an emotional stimulus - be it during the "fight or flight" response, or the presence of a potential mate.

"In other words, the brain network which determines what sexual orientation actually 'orients' towards is similar between gay men and straight women, and between gay women and straight men.

"This makes sense given that gay men have a sexual preference which is like that of women in general, that is, preferring men, and vice versa for lesbian women."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pope failed to defrock U.S. sex abuse priest

Vatican halted trial after cleric’s plea for leniency to future pontiff

I am hoping that we as a society will soon reach a tipping point and that we will get to a place where priests who commit crimes are treated as criminals and not protected by the authorities.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Christians turning belligerent Haiti

Following up on my last article on the hipocrisy of Christian charity, on the heels of the massive 'charity' display in Haiti are news of a Christian mob attacking and pelting with rocks Voodoo practitioners at a Voodoo ceremony for the victims of the quake.

The self-interest I alluded to in my previous post was frankly exhibited by Pastor Frank Amedia of the Miami-based Touch Heaven Ministries in the above cited article. He had this to say:

"We would give food to the needy in the short term but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I'm not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn't want to perpetuate that practice. We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel."

According to the article the Christians even pissed on some of the sacred symbols of the Haitian religion. There is now fear of a religious war exploding between Voodoo practitioners and militant evangelicals, who oftentimes bribe people into converting to their religion or else they would deny aid.

Keep in mind that this is still happening well into the post-colonial era, and whatever negative things might be said of Voodoo, we know that it was during a Voodoo ceremony that the cry for independence was heard and it was thanks to Voodoo that slavery was abolished and independence was gained in Haiti, making it the first black nation and the first free nation in the hemisphere of the Americas. Voodoo is, naturally, very important to the identity of many Haitians, even if just for the historical value of its symbols and legacy.

If the Haitian crisis does evolve into religious warfare, maybe it's time to begin an international dialogue about how we should forbid religious groups with evangelizing agendas, or religious groups of all stripes, from being involved in major charity operations in the future. If they sincerely want to help, they should do so via the international aid organizations that are in place, whose work should be streamlined via cooperation with local community centers.

To introduce bands of millitant Christian bullies into a country already in ruins and where religious violence was the last thing that they needed was definitely counter-intuitive, and should not be acceptable in the future.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Christian 'charity' + Christian self-interest

In my Coming Out of the Other Closet article, I mentioned the influence that the 2008 elections had in my evolving into an atheist.

What I did not visit was the fact that during the week of the 2008 elections, 26 kids died in Haiti from starvation. As the state of California prepared to vote away the rights of its gay citizens, Christians and Mormons spent millions of dollars in a diffamation campaign that was fear based, where gays were presented as predators that took advantage of children.

If the Christians had so much money to throw away spreading LIES about people that they didn't even know, they COULD HAVE made a huge difference in Haiti ... particularly at a time when not only was there a world food crisis going on, but our country was also going through the toughest economic era since the great depression.

Now after the earthquake, 'charity' work translates into more visibility for churches and they're using this as a platform to advance the evangelical message and to enhance their image as charity workers. As I read this article on missionary work in Haiti, with the instances of child trafficking and religious propaganda ... and as I see the curious way in which they always put the stamp of their denominations on everything that they do, I am reminded of Matthew 6.

Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:1-4

The reason why I always remember Matthew 6 in particular is because it coincides with a teaching in the 18th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita that I became acquainted with when I was a worshiper of Krishna. Christ was apparently paraphrasing Krishna. I always thought that was odd and interesting.

Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up but should be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls.
All these activities should be performed without any expectation of result. They should be performed as a matter of duty, O son of Prtha. That is My final opinion.

Bhagavad Gita 18:5-6

Is it fair to give a religion credit for services that are already known to a secular society as non-profit services? Clearly there is no need for supernatural agency or incentive. Humanitarian work can be done by atheists ... or by people seeking tax breaks. What should we make of Christian charity when it is ostentatious, in view of Matthew 6? What about all the hospitals and schools that are founded by religious groups and bear religious names, yet charge for their services and operate in every way just like all the other hospitals and schools?

Is it really a superior kind of virtue to name your non-profit organization after your religious affiliation when it is rendering the same services as other non-profits in the same industry? Is it fair to claim all this credit for one's religion in view of the teachings of the Christ and Krishna about not giving with a sense of self-interest?

Anyone wanting to give can give to the Red Cross or other aid agencies that are very much invested in helping Haiti, yet these churches are wanting to hog all the credit for being able to reach remote communities, where a lot of their work has to do with being critical of Voodoo and of the local religious culture and promoting Protestant ideals. As if religious zeal was what Haitians really need the most.

"Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret" ...

"So that your giving may be in secret" ...

"So that ... your giving may be in secret" ...

Something to ponder.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Return to Africa's Witch Children

The following is a five part documentary on the Nigerian children who have been accused of witchcraft, then ostracized, tortured or sometimes murdered by the Christians.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V