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Political and Social Discussions => Political and Social Discussions => Topic started by: Beatnik on December 03, 2004, 09:40:01 pm

Title: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: Beatnik on December 03, 2004, 09:40:01 pm
This article was in the New York Times by Nickolas D. Kristof:

Published: November 24, 2004
© The New York Times

If America\'s secular liberals think they have it rough now, just wait till the Second Coming.

The "Left Behind" series, the best-selling novels for adults in the U.S., enthusiastically depict Jesus returning to slaughter everyone who is not a born-again Christian. The world\'s Hindus, Muslims, Jews and agnostics, along with many Catholics and Unitarians, are heaved into everlasting fire: "Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and . . . they tumbled in, howling and screeching."

Gosh, what an uplifting scene!

If Saudi Arabians wrote an Islamic version of this series, we would furiously demand that sensible Muslims repudiate such hatemongering. We should hold ourselves to the same standard.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, the co-authors of the series, have both e-mailed me (after I wrote about the "Left Behind" series in July) to protest that their books do not "celebrate" the slaughter of non-Christians but simply present the painful reality of Scripture.

"We can\'t read it some other way just because it sounds exclusivistic and not currently politically correct," Mr. Jenkins said in an e-mail. "That\'s our crucible, an offensive and divisive message in an age of plurality and tolerance."

Silly me. I\'d forgotten the passage in the Bible about how Jesus intends to roast everyone from the good Samaritan to Gandhi in everlasting fire, simply because they weren\'t born-again Christians.

I accept that Mr. Jenkins and Mr. LaHaye are sincere. (They base their conclusions on John 3.) But I\'ve sat down in Pakistani and Iraqi mosques with Muslim fundamentalists, and they offered the same defense: they\'re just applying God\'s word.

Now, I\'ve often written that blue staters should be less snooty toward fundamentalist Christians, and I realize that this column will seem pretty snooty. But if I praise the good work of evangelicals - like their superb relief efforts in Darfur - I\'ll also condemn what I perceive as bigotry. A dialogue about faith must move past taboos and discuss differences bluntly. That\'s what blue staters and red staters need to do about religion and the "Left Behind" books.

For starters, it\'s worth pointing out that those predicting an apocalypse have a long and lousy record. In America, tens of thousands of followers of William Miller waited eagerly for Jesus to reappear on Oct. 22, 1844. Some of these Millerites had given away all their belongings, and the no-show was called the Great Disappointment.

In more recent times, the best-selling nonfiction book of the 1970\'s was Hal Lindsey\'s "The Late Great Planet Earth," selling 18 million copies worldwide with its predictions of a Second Coming. Then, one of the hottest best sellers in 1988 was a booklet called "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988." Oops.

Being wrong has rarely been so lucrative.

Now we have the hugely profitable "Left Behind" financial empire, whose Web site flatly says that the authors "think this generation will witness the end of history." The site sells every "Left Behind" spinoff imaginable, including screen savers, regular prophecies sent to your mobile phone, children\'s versions of the books, audiobooks, graphic novels, videos, calendars, music and a $6.50-a-month prophesy club. This isn\'t religion, this is brand management.

If Mr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins honestly believe that the end of the world may be imminent, why not waive royalties? Why don\'t they use the millions of dollars in profits to help the poor - and increase their own chances of getting into heaven?

Mr. Jenkins told me that he gives 20 to 40 percent of his income to charity, and that\'s commendable. But there are millions more where that came from. Mr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins might spend less time puzzling over obscure passages in the Book of Revelation and more time with the straightforward language of Matthew 6:19, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." Or Matthew 19:21, where Jesus advises a rich man: "Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. . . . It will be hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

So I challenge the authors to a bet: if the events of the Apocalypse arrive in the next 10 years, then I\'ll donate $500 to the battle against the Antichrist; if it doesn\'t, you donate $500 to a charity of my choosing that fights poverty - and bigotry.

Gentlemen, do we have a deal?



Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: gkg on December 03, 2004, 10:09:35 pm
isn\'t that a great piece?!  thanks for sharing it!

lest we forget - Hitler also was the head of state in a great fundamental movement.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: spencer on December 04, 2004, 04:19:57 am
Crap like that, the left behind books, and ultra orthodox religion, it makes me sick.

I\'d like there to be an afterlife, but if it\'s on terms like that... I don\'t know, i don\'t know how bad it would be to cease to exist (and i\'d never know, which makes it the scariest)

HAs anyone ever really tried to think about that?  it scares me.  cuz you know, all we know is how to live, not how we don\'t live...  it would be nothingness... oh man.... oh gosh.... i don\'t know.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: gkg on December 05, 2004, 10:48:21 am
but sweetie, that is it\'s own reward - it\'s the blessing of knowing that if there\'s nothing, we\'re not there to mind there being nothing, because there\'s nothing to mind and no mind to nothing.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: Beatnik on December 06, 2004, 03:39:17 pm
gkg - Brillant!! I totally agree. Personally I think this is all there is. So we make our own heaven or hell, right  here, right now.

Musings on the meaning of life.....

Why are we here? What is our purpose, other than to propagate the species on our clever branch of the eveloutionary tree?

[glb]PLASTIC!![/glb]  :-X

Mother Earth wanted plastic, that is why we are here!! A totally un-natural, un-biodegradeable, permanant remenant of Human race.  ::)

Beatnik  8)

Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: gkg on December 06, 2004, 06:27:32 pm
love it!  

i have to say seriously though, my thought on why were put here?  to be the caretakers.  we\'re doing a lousy job.  we were put here to tend the garden, and we\'ve paved it over for hghways and housing developments.  the trees that purify the air?  we\'re ripping them out faster than we create new cars to add more pollutants to the air.  the creatures that feed us, clothe us and help us in our work?  we treat them like crap.  we gobbled some up faster than they could reproduce and from that we simply decided to create a production line, rather than learn to curb our voracious appetites.  the wonderful array of plants?  rather than learn to use the bounty of nature in her cycles, we force them to a production line as well, robbing them of their flavor and creating the first nation where, as a Brasilian friend visiting my Dad once said, "the tomatoes and the bread taste the same - like library paste."

we DO create our heaven or hell right here right now - and we are allowing someone to herd us into hell... that someone is our government.  they want to kill wild horses for food.  they want to pump oil in the wilderness of Alaska.  they subsidize cars that pollute more than some of the old ones rather than reward reduction in pollutants!  they want us to kill people and grasp control of the Middle East so that we can have more oil, to fuel these cars, to fuel the vast military machine, and to create, you guessed it, MORE PLASTIC!

not only do we allow them to herd us, we\'ve given them the right to spy on us when we meet to discuss the crying need for change.

after all of this - i sincerely hope there is no heaven or hell to move on to, because heaven will be relatively empty, and hell will be severely over crowded by all of us allowing this to happen by not fighting for the removal of this American Regime, and the salvation of the remains of our nation... and rightfully so.  if we don\'t fight for change, it would be what we deserve.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: spencer on December 06, 2004, 11:20:23 pm
That may be alright to you, but i find it to be a scary thing.  i wanna live on.  i don\'t care if we won\'t mind it.  i want my brain to keep moving, i wanna go to another place, be it heaven, hell, down the river styx, or even in the body of another one... i wanna keep going.

i know that\'s probably hard to understand, but being a youngin, i think i worry more about it.  most people come to terms with that stuff later in life.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: gkg on December 07, 2004, 05:37:08 pm
it\'s totally understandable, and for many people it\'s more than that, it\'s their way of viewing things.  i\'m not trying to change your mind about hoping we move on to something else, i\'m just saying that the concept of nothingness is not something to fear.

personally, i hope and mostly believe that we simply become a part of the energy that surrounds and moves through us.  i don\'t fear being nothing, but if we move on, i\'d like to be a positive energy.  the whole heaven thing seems somewhat useless to me... the old concept of lying around heaven watching the doings below, or slogging away in the depths of hell - they both seem pointless - i find it much more likely that our physical energy just transforms to something within the atmosphere mingling with everyone else.
Title: Hell - a question of sRe: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: Beatnik on December 07, 2004, 10:19:01 pm
I like your thoughts gkg. I agree that there are more seriously harmful things to fear then nothingness.  I read an interesting thing on Hell today:

Hell - a question of science (this almost makes sense).  
 
A profound question for all you engineers...
 
The following is supposedly an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.
 
Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?
 
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle\'s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed,etc.) or some variant.
 
One student, however, wrote the following:
 
First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So, we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a
soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.
 
As for how many souls are entering Hell, let\'s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not
belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.
 
Stay with me now!
 
With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle\'s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.
 
This yields two possibilities:
 
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
 
2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.
 
So which is it?
 
If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,"  and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.
 
The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen
over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting [glb]"Oh, my God." [/glb]
 
THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY "A"

I really enjoyed this!

Beatnik  8)
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: gkg on December 07, 2004, 10:25:36 pm
evidently, so did Teresa.   ;)

our oldest is an engineer - i can imagine his red face when i show this to Max\' son, Pete.  yeah, i\'m that kind of mom - i like to make the kids think beyond the safety net, blushing be damned.  Adrian, my boy, will just  nod and laugh his ass off.   ;D
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: caper on December 17, 2004, 05:33:36 pm
QuoteThat may be alright to you, but i find it to be a scary thing.  i wanna live on.  i don\'t care if we won\'t mind it.  i want my brain to keep moving, i wanna go to another place, be it heaven, hell, down the river styx, or even in the body of another one... i wanna keep going.

i know that\'s probably hard to understand, but being a youngin, i think i worry more about it.  most people come to terms with that stuff later in life.
its good you are thinking about death since it is a certainty.  might as well get prepared for it.  as far as keeping moving, there always reincarnation-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation

many humans have bought into this concept for many many generations.  buddhism is a venerable philosophy that includes reincarnation-  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism

of all the schools of Buddhism Tibetan Buddhism seems particularly focused on death and the process of dying.  The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is a really good read on this subject.  its been around for a while so its probably in the library-
http://www.monas.nl/think/boektibet.htm

have fun :)
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: gkg on December 17, 2004, 07:38:50 pm
very good suggestions, caper, and if one is interested in the concept, there are some good books by people like Ian Stevenson and others that touch on it from a less religious viewpoint.

i\'m big on the karma aspect - not sure about reincarnation - one of those things i like the idea of, but i personally don\'t fully accept it as a reality.  i must say the possibility intrigues the hell outta me.

brain food does that for me.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: caper on December 17, 2004, 08:51:01 pm
Quotevery good suggestions, caper, and if one is interested in the concept, there are some good books by people like Ian Stevenson and others that touch on it from a less religious viewpoint.

i\'m big on the karma aspect - not sure about reincarnation - one of those things i like the idea of, but i personally don\'t fully accept it as a reality.  i must say the possibility intrigues the hell outta me.

brain food does that for me.
:)  buddhism isnt a religion imo it is more of a philosophy.  ive heard some buddhist explanations of reincarnation that were distinctly scientific.  reincarnation makes karma much more complicated.

o yeah i agree how you can see karma happening in this life even without reincarnation.  like how taking a certain path will lead to other things.  although i dont think the outcome is predetermined because every moment involves free choice imo.

the tricky part about free choice is how to exercise it.   because our minds are always thinking about the past or future.  its surprising how much you miss when you are all wrapped up in your thoughts and then we end up misreading the present and falling into the same trap.   over and over again.

i like how buddhism is so practical and experiential.  it has training exercises.  like meditation is a main exercise.  the whole meditation thing is not esoteric it is very practical like lifting weights.  when i meditate im exercising my mind to focus.  if its done regularly it gets stronger and easier to do it when youre not meditating.  then you can focus longer in the present moment without distraction.  what you do when you get there, well thats the question.  buddhists it answer it one way-

i do believe Buckethead meditates too :)
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: gkg on December 17, 2004, 10:20:48 pm
it\'s both a religion and philosophy - as most religions can be if approached in a more broad manner.

meditation is a part of many religions and in fact some people see "prayer" as simply another form of meditation; still others may see meditation as a form of prayer to oneself.

there is no doubt in my mind that regardless of what you choose to call it, focusing ones\' thoughts and centering yourself is a positive thing.  be it seeking a quiet place alone, or meditating on the bus.  

being present within oneself is a nurturing and healing thing, that brings you to places you can\'t reach in the tangled dance of the world outside you.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: caper on December 17, 2004, 10:35:55 pm
Quoteit\'s both a religion and philosophy - as most religions can be if approached in a more broad manner.
ill let that slide

Quote
meditation is a part of many religions and in fact some people see "prayer" as simply another form of meditation; still others may see meditation as a form of prayer to oneself.
i am talking specifically about buddhist meditation of following the breadth and quieting the mind.  there is no content like in a prayer. i respect that for you prayer is a form of meditation-

Quotethere is no doubt in my mind that regardless of what you choose to call it, focusing ones\' thoughts and centering yourself is a positive thing.  be it seeking a quiet place alone, or meditating on the bus.  

being present within oneself is a nurturing and healing thing, that brings you to places you can\'t reach in the tangled dance of the world outside you.
its all good
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: oldfolkie on December 17, 2004, 10:41:28 pm
If only we could convince our fellow humans to go through the world with the basic principle "do no harm"...to themselves or others, or to the world we live in.

Sure, I dream of utopia; it\'s good to dream. I try to live the dream too, although I\'m pretty far from the ideal.

There are elements of good in all religions. Wouldn\'t it be wonderful if we could save those and dump the B.S.?

As for death, yes, it\'s inevitable, and we just had one recently in the family so I\'m mourning a loved one.  But I much prefer to focus on life, in the belief that this life is all we have, or all we know we have, and we should make the most of it.

...off soapbox  :-X
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: gkg on December 17, 2004, 11:08:19 pm
sometimes people try too hard to make something out to be a larger statement than it is.  my world view is simply this:

[glb]PEACE brings prosperity of the soul; LOVE brings prosperity of the heart. There are no other riches, man, just distractions.[/glb]

i am sorry for your loss, oldfolkie; you can soapbox any time you like.  peace and love, above all.

Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: caper on December 17, 2004, 11:54:05 pm
im so sorry to hear of your loss oldfolkie.  death is a piercing teacher.  spencer i hope you caught my reply earlier and id sure like to hear more about what you think :)  peace out
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: spencer on December 18, 2004, 04:14:48 pm
Buddhism is definately the most rational philosophy/religion.  I\'d really like to get into that more, or unitarianism, but that\'s just kinda.... well, that\'s what probably spawned those religions based on the lead singer of AFI (forget christians for a second.  THOSE kids are just freaking stupid) :-\\

Reincarnation is kinda comforting.  especially if it works in with karma to determine what you are in the next life.  it\'s very just, and rewarding to those who deserve it.

But, then again, it could be unfair to those who were taught that nothing will happen after death; life DEFINATELY doesn\'t go on.

this is what upsets me about religion:  contradiction. There are so many contradictions to statements made in the religious community which, if there were a heaven, i wouldn\'t want to miss.

Examples:
     If buckethead wasn\'t a devout christian (which i doubt he is), he would burn in hell, however, if i was a devout christian, i would be in heaven, but without buckethead, which would almost be hell.

     Also, someone i know went to a church group and asked how dogs can get into heaven.  the lady running the group said "Well, dogs don\'t have a soul, only humans do."  Not only do i think that\'s complete condescending bullshit, but if i ever got to heaven and didn\'t meet up with my first dog (who died tragically, but was the most kind-hearted dog you could ever hope to meet), i wouldn\'t be totally happy in heaven.

It\'s that crap that makes me think.  Sometimes I wish I was raised in church and brainwashed to "know" that there is a god, a heaven, and that i\'m going there if I don\'t have sex before the government and god tell me i have a bond with a woman.

I\'m way ahead of that one though; I won\'t be able to get any action until i find a girl willing to marry me, so i can be in a state of forced abstinence.  if that makes sense  ;D

What was I talking about again?  

Oh yeah, Buddhism=good.  Christianity=kinda silly at times, but still what i consider myself.  Contradictions in theory=Bad.

End ramblin\'.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: oldfolkie on December 18, 2004, 05:11:44 pm
Thanks for the sympathy, gkg & caper.

My mother-in-law was a really special person & we will miss her every day. And it\'s appropriate to talk about her in this thread, too, because she was a constant resistor to apocalyptic forces in her daily life. She contributed to organizations doing medical relief in South American & Caribbean countries in need, raised 7 of her own children and hosted an adopted son from India, was invariably cheerful and good-humoured (although she had high standards and could take fools down a peg when necessary), and was bright, alert, and interested in the world until the very last few days.

We need more like her! She influenced me for 28 years, and if I can only be a little like her I will be proud. I celebrate her life, and so does my husband, who was very close to her always.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: gkg on December 21, 2004, 09:53:32 pm
spencer - the only absolute is that we don\'t know.  even those who swear they do.  the best answer to your fear is to read.  learn as much as you can.  read read read - then make up your own mind.

oldfolkie - people like your mother-in-law are too rare, and we should all cherish those few we get to know.  in emulating them, we pass on their light to the next generation.  you your mother-in-law, me my father (in my own fractured way).
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: spencer on December 23, 2004, 05:32:38 am
GKG, I\'m well aware no one knows.  i meant i wish i thought i knew, cuz then, well, i think i\'d be much much more relaxed, and hell, if it all ends, not like i\'ll have anything to say about it, right?

But i think my parents raised me right.  at least one adamantly believes in an afterlife, which i like, but the other is wary, much like myself.  i debate back and forth, meditate on the subject, and then put it in the back of my mind until it comes to context.

...Meh.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: caper on December 23, 2004, 10:55:42 pm
QuoteBuddhism is definately the most rational philosophy/religion.  I\'d really like to get into that more, or unitarianism, but that\'s just kinda.... well, that\'s what probably spawned those religions based on the lead singer of AFI (forget christians for a second.  THOSE kids are just freaking stupid) :-\\

Reincarnation is kinda comforting.  especially if it works in with karma to determine what you are in the next life.  it\'s very just, and rewarding to those who deserve it.

But, then again, it could be unfair to those who were taught that nothing will happen after death; life DEFINATELY doesn\'t go on.

this is what upsets me about religion:  contradiction. There are so many contradictions to statements made in the religious community which, if there were a heaven, i wouldn\'t want to miss.

Examples:
    If buckethead wasn\'t a devout christian (which i doubt he is), he would burn in hell, however, if i was a devout christian, i would be in heaven, but without buckethead, which would almost be hell.

    Also, someone i know went to a church group and asked how dogs can get into heaven.  the lady running the group said "Well, dogs don\'t have a soul, only humans do."  Not only do i think that\'s complete condescending bullshit, but if i ever got to heaven and didn\'t meet up with my first dog (who died tragically, but was the most kind-hearted dog you could ever hope to meet), i wouldn\'t be totally happy in heaven.

It\'s that crap that makes me think.  Sometimes I wish I was raised in church and brainwashed to "know" that there is a god, a heaven, and that i\'m going there if I don\'t have sex before the government and god tell me i have a bond with a woman.

I\'m way ahead of that one though; I won\'t be able to get any action until i find a girl willing to marry me, so i can be in a state of forced abstinence.  if that makes sense  ;D

What was I talking about again?  

Oh yeah, Buddhism=good.  Christianity=kinda silly at times, but still what i consider myself.  Contradictions in theory=Bad.

End ramblin\'.

thanks for ramblin!  your words make me think spencer.  i know what you mean about heaven and buckethead and your dog friend.  that makes no sense.  it doesnt feel right either.  so i dont know.  religion has a lot of authority.  it is hard to question authority.  but sometimes you just have to.  i remember jesus did.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: gkg on December 27, 2004, 05:20:59 pm
faith is just that - faith.  it\'s something that we humans use to give is a sense of peace - and it has that element of blind trust that is so hard for many of us to embrace.

i think what you\'re dealing with is a personal quest for what will give YOU inner peace and balance.  read and learn and in the end i think you will come to a place where you feel comforted.

peace, little brother.
Title: Re: Apocalypse (Almost) Now
Post by: spencer on December 28, 2004, 07:36:20 am
My sentiments on that subject can be best expressed  by a quote from simon birch:

"I have faith... I just need proof too."

 :-/
Hopefully someday I\'ll find peace in being, and that\'ll be a good day.