Archive for the Atheism Category

Disgust, Suffering and Morals

Posted in Atheism, ethics on July 5, 2016 by theicidalmaniac

If one looks at a scriptural account of what constitutes evil, one will find that there are essentially two major categories:

1. LOL

2. Duh

In category 1 we may find abominations like eating shellfish (Lev. 11: 10-12), touching pigskin (Deut. 14:8), or interacting with a menstruating female (numerous accounts).  In other words, the kinds of things we all realize have nothing to do with evil or being a decent fellow.

In category 2 there exist laws like “thou shall not kill…steal…bear false witness…commit adultery” (from The Ten Commandments) and so on.  These are those things which we all (save the psychopaths among us) realize are bad and that we strive, through to the present day, not to do.

Scripture being the confused, contradictory mess that it is, one often finds the case that category 1 sins make no sense and category 2 sins are occasionally sanctioned in order to meet some immediate religious end.  In Biblical texts, one finds God sometimes stepping in and giving murder the thumbs up provided that the victims are adulterers, witches, Gentiles, your enemies’ babies, or people who talk back to their parents or who are caught working on the Sabbath.  In the Old Testament God doesn’t merely look the other way, He actually commands acts of murder and genocide against sinners and unbelievers and, as often as not, against civilian bystanders.  Beyond the OT, one finds similar behavior in the Qur’an.  The opening story of the Book of Mormon finds the initial protagonist, Nephi, being commanded by an angel to behead an unconscious man (1 Nephi 4).

There are a few conclusions to be drawn here.

First, we don’t get our morals from scripture.
Our moral sensibilities are not derived from scriptural texts, rather we bring our morals with us when reading scriptural passages, and actively filter the ancient teachings through our modern understandings of right and wrong.  Were this not the case, we would find the faithful in Nevada burning suspected witches and dashing their babies against rocks, believers in California slaying the livestock of their Wiccan neighbors, and god-fearing residents of Maine going straight gangbusters on the shrimp and lobster industry.  This illustrates clearly that believers have chosen to uphold some scriptural commandments and cast others aside.  Therefore we see that there is some higher moral code that is brought to the study table, and that this code is applied to scripture, not derived from it.

Second, scripture authors confusion about what constitutes evil.
“Thou shall not kill” is a nice sentiment, but in scripture (supposedly our source for learning God’s will) it is both preceded and followed immediately by divinely sanctioned genocide, assassination plots, and terrorism.  If God is able to step in and change the rules on a whim, then a God-based moral system does not, in fact, provide us with anything approaching a grounded or stable morality.  There is no clear reasoning behind it that we can discover, and no consistent textual reference.  A God-based moral structure offers only a turbulent and mercurial system that is unintelligible to humans.

Third, not all evil is created equal.
The sorts of acts that are called evil that fall into the “duh” category are those things which have stood the test of time.  The very reason that they fall into that category are because they are as evident to us today, perhaps even more evident, as they were a few thousand years ago.  That category is set apart from the behavior in the “LOL” category, where there are laws proscribing such acts as wearing a cotton-polyester blend t-shirt (Lev. 19:19).  In one category, we have a list of things which cause grave human suffering, and in the other we have a list of things which might have provoked feelings of disgust in some people, in some time period.  Disgust, a subjective experience, is something that is in constant flux across time and cultures, but suffering (also subjective) is constant.

Suffering, on its own, is universally considered to be a bad thing for those who experience it.  This is why the only stable morality that we can ever possibly have is one based upon

a) the reduction of suffering, and

b) the promotion of happiness

Cause no harm, try to do good.  This is what a reliable morality is based upon, not the whim of an indecisive, capricious being whose plans are ineffable or incomprehensible.

It’s not that you should throw away your God-based morality, it’s that you need to realize you never had one and move on.  #Duh

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Jesus is not Krishna, and he isn’t Mithra, and he isn’t Horus,…etc

Posted in Atheism, Bullshit, Christ Myth, Debunking Zeitgeist, Jesus, Krishna, Mithra, Mythicist, Osiris, Skepticism, Stupidity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2014 by theicidalmaniac

If you have had the misfortune to have befriended a gullible idiot with internet access and a lot of free time, then no doubt you have been shown the Zeitgeist Youtube phenomenon.  If so then you are ashamed, and you are right to be ashamed, but you are not alone and you should take comfort knowing that even though you gave the dipshits who produced it another “view” and, as a result, some ad revenue, at least you aren’t stupid enough to believe their presentation.  Which is more than can be said for your gullible friend.  Since you’re so smart, I won’t bother debunking Zeitgeist here…it’s been done.

But I will recap;
The general idea behind the video is that everything you know is wrong and that the narrator has the special insight that will set you straight.  I mean, it must be insight, because it certainly isn’t facts-based.  Despite the fact that deconstructions and debunkings of Zeitgeist have been done and done again it appears that such rebuttals have not effectively inoculated everyone against Zeitgeist‘s very bad reasoning and even worse fact-checking practices.

Perhaps the most annoying result of this video is that it has cast light on the heretofore well-concealed fact that there are a few people who happen to be atheists who happen also to be ignorant fucking tools who will not only believe anything they hear, but who will willfully repeat it.  For example the gentleman who runs the BeyondAllReligion blog, an author of two books that I wouldn’t buy if the world ran out of toilet paper, appears to be one such individual.  Though he was clearly moved by their stunning expose on the “inside job” in Manhattan on 9/11/01 (“stunning” means “grossly inept and fictitious,” right?), what he seems mostly to have gotten hung up on is the segment on astrotheology.

Using my intellectual resources to go into detail about astrotheology just might be the thing that causes me to experience a fatal apoplectic response, so I won’t do it here.  Many, many people have already undertaken that task.  I want to get into Sam Butler’s specific claims at BeyondAllReligion.

Christianity was invented by Constantine, and he based Jesus on Mithra.
I almost don’t even need to discuss this, because after several lenghty paragraphs offered as proof that Christianity was invented, whole cloth, in the year 329 CE, Samuel actually admits that there are much earlier references to Christ worship.  That one fact would seem to negate everything he wrote previously, but I’ll carry on anyway.  Butler makes some interesting claims about Mithra, claims that can be found from other sources like the writings of Acharya S or on a myriad of unsourced webpages that all seem to make the same claims – often verbatim (though I stress again – unsourced).  Such claims include:

Krishna Was an Archetype for Jesus!

Butler states the following drivel as evidence that the Jesus myth is based on Krishnaism:
1. His miraculous birth by a virgin.
2. The mother and child being visited by shepherds, wise men and the angelic host, who joyously sang, “In thy delivery, O favored among women, all nations shall have cause to exult.”
3. The edict of the tyrant ruler… ordering all the first born to be put to death.
4. The miraculous escape of the mother and child from his bloody decree by the parting of the waves of the River…to permit them to pass through on dry ground.
5. The early retirement…to a desert.
6. His baptism or ablution…

Well, I actually read about the birth of Krishna.  I must say, everything listed above is horseshit.  The nativity of Krishna is found in the Bhagavad Purana (also known as the Srimad Bhagavatam) specifically in Canto 10, often referred to as the Summum Bonum.  What does it say?

1.
Krishna was the eighth child conceived by his mother, Devaki, with her husband Vasudeva.  This woman was not a virgin by any stretch (pun not intended) of the imagination.
2.
Devaki was shackled and imprisoned by her brother Kamsa when she gave birth.  There is no mention of shepherds, wise-men, or an angelic host being in her cell, and the quote offered appears nowhere in any English translation of the story.  (Hint; that means it is made up)
3.
The “tyrant ruler” would be Kamsa, but he never ordered that all first-born children be slain.  In fact, thanks to a prophecy, he was expecting Krishna to be the eighth child of his sister.  Killing all first-born children in his realm would hardly have addressed that issue.  I guess that’s why he never issues that order in the story.  For fun, though, he does eventually kill 6 of Krishna’s older siblings.
4.
Krishna is carried across a river to escape the wrath of Kamsa, not by his mother, but by his father.  Does the river part?  Not exactly.  But this one, at least, is sort of close to what happens in the Krishna story.  The problem is, it isn’t at all close to what happens in the Jesus story.  Herod ordering the deaths of the first-born in his lands is mentioned in only ONE place – the Gospel According to Matthew, chapter 2.  There is absolutely no mention of Jesus crossing a river in his flight to Egypt, much less of a parting of waters.  That’d be Moses.
5.
I’m not aware of Krishna living in the desert, but I’m no expert on the Hindu canon.  Perhaps it’s in a Veda somewhere, or in the Gita.  One thing I can definitely say…Jesus does not “retire” in the Biblical accounts.  He dies, badly.  That’s actually a pretty key element of the story.
6.
Baptism OR ablution?  Well, that’s sort of like saying “being touched by water.”  Ablution and baptism are not the same thing, and it should come as no shock that two iconic figures of purity might have come into contact with water at some point in their lives.  Certainly Krishna was never said to have been baptized, though I have no doubt that he is being baptized at some Mormon temple at this very moment.
AND…
There is this whole business of Krishna being crucified.  It may strike you as odd that crucifixion would be used several thousand years prior to the Roman period in a far-distant land.  If so, good for you.  Butler initially claims that Krishna was Crucified, and provides an unsourced quote which states that there is no doubt about this.  He then backs off that statement and admits that Krishna was shot in the foot, accidentally, by his friend’s arrow.  But, reasons Butler, the foot was still pierced, so it doesn’t matter how he died (here he fails to note that Krishna never died).

But that’s okay, because actually…

Mithra Was an Archetype for Jesus!  No, Horus was…

Look, this shit has been rehashed so many times it isn’t even worth getting into it anymore.  I never saw anything before specifically addressing Krishna, so I tackled that.  But many other people have deconstructed the Mithra-Jesus connection and the Horus-Jesus connection, and they come out just as poorly as the Krishna-Jesus connection.  Compounding the problem is that there are MANY Mithras from different religions and time periods, and the Horus myth evolved greatly over the time that it was active.  Suffice it to say, these are all deities, so there are certain things they may have in common (for instance they’re all magic!), but next time you see a website that claims a connection as specific as crucifixion, or virgin birth on December 25th, look for a source.  If you don’t see one (and you won’t) write it off as the bullshit that it is.

Regarding Agnosticism, Atheism

Posted in Atheism with tags , on November 2, 2013 by theicidalmaniac

WHAT WE LACK
If there is some other-worldly being, or group of beings, out there that are responsible for our creation, however intentional or unintentional that creation was, however active or inactive a role that being or beings played in the subsequent development of this creation, we could spend our entire lives imagining what those beings might be, how they might behave, what they may have done, etc etc, but after all our imaginings we are left with only this:
We simply don’t have any evidence to support the existence of such.

Without the restraints of reality placed upon what we ponder, what we imagine a creator or creators to be, our imaginations can go absolutely wild and we, as a species, may invent or imagine or hypothesize or hint at an endless parade of such beings or forces. The chance that any one of those guesses would be right is vanishingly infinitesimal, and I honestly think it takes a great deal of overconfidence for an agnostic to hold out “yeah that’s possible” for any such beings.

WHAT WE HAVE
We have to go with what we have evidence for, because everything else is a crapshoot. Actually, a guess in a crapshoot has remarkably better odds at panning out, since the craps table has a known and finite, and relatively small, number of possible results.  All we can know is that which we can measure and test – that’s it. So all the pondering in the world gets us nowhere, all the uninformed openness in the world gets us nowhere on its own, because without actual input we are completely and forever lost in the unknowable.

What we DO know, (that is, what we can work with) is that people do present their ideas of gods, – what they are, what they do, what they can do, what they are like, etc – and those presentations offer us testable claims. I think that it should be readily apparent that virtually any atheist has found that the arguments for these gods, for every god that they themselves have ever been presented with, are either insufficient or are contradictory to the known world, and therefore must be rejected.  This is the very definition of an assertive atheism. We do not know of, that is we have absolutely no evidence to suggest the existence of, anything remotely like a god outside of the things that people have presented to us. And for each god that has been presented the conclusion is clear to us;
“THIS IS MAN-MADE.”

WHAT WE CAN SAY
If we were to conclude from this anything other than “gods are imaginary” it would have to be based more or less solely on our previous introductions to, and indoctrinations by, the world religions. I know it’s a type of analogy that is all-too-often trudged out, but in this scenario where our only input is from religious tradition, then holding on to the possibility that there may be a god out there somewhere in the Ether is absolutely no different than holding on to the idea that St. Nicholas the jolly fat old elf might exist out there somewhere. We KNOW it is made up.  Without evidence, all we can say is that if there just so HAPPENS to be such a being out there somewhere, accurately asserting so could never be more than the universe’s luckiest guess.  This position is a tautology; the religious tradition is evidence for God because God inspired the tradition.   We know people invent fantastical stories, and without proper evidence we shouldn’t assume that there is a nugget of truth at the center.  So why cling to that security blanket? This position is not intellectual honesty, nor is it humility, and it certainly is not, in itself, courageous.

It IS courageous to be open to the possibility that you may be wrong, and I understand that the objection by agnostics toward the atheist position runs along those lines. But it is a misplaced criticism. The overconfidence lies not so much with the atheist’s unwillingness to be open to the external reality of a phenomenon about which all evidence indicates origins in human culture, but rather with the agnostic’s continued insistence that known myths have a real counterpart in the unknowable depths of existence.  To make that latter assertion you HAVE TO have given some credence to the myths in the first place, a move that is wholly unwarranted, and decidedly theistic.

Sure, this universe had to start somewhere, but it didn’t have to be started by Santa Claus, or a grendel, or a jabberwockie, or any other human invention, even if you give that invention the special name of God, as if the name itself were sufficient to establish existence.  We have no grounds at all to posit it, to expect it, to think it remotely possible.  And thus we revert to the default position of non-belief, not agnosticism, but atheism.

Atheism is a Religion Assholes

Posted in Atheism with tags , , on June 26, 2011 by theicidalmaniac

A title that can hook people on BOTH sides of the issue.  I won’t bother building suspense; to clarify I’m not saying “Hey assholes, Atheism is a religion.”  No, this is actually a post about assholes who insist that atheism is a religion, and the tripe they spew.

Generally I have resisted simply copying dialog from forum chats and pasting them here, cuz it’s lazy, but this is just too perfect to pass up.  I recently encountered a young lady (a hot, svelte, blonde 19-year-old, I’m sure) who had THIS to say:

Technically atheism is a RELIGION.

1. People gather in groups to discuss it.
2. There are organisations[sic] devoted to it.
3. People have FAITH in atheism theology.
4. They have their own worldview.
5. They have their own prophets: Nietzsche, Russell, Feuerbach, Lenin, Marx.
6. …They have their own messiah: He is, of course, Charles Darwin.
7. When you think about it,you atheists really are a bunch of narrow minded sheeple.!

(Though the double punctuation at the end is original, I added the neat ordering and the numbers – I can’t be sure she knows what numbers are)

Amazing right?  But a bit unfair to poke fun at someone who is clearly stupid, you say?  Not at all.  As any atheist who can’t turn down an argument knows these are claims you hear all the time.  I will counter them here in the hopes that some wayward soul who types up “atheism is a religion” will be directed to me, and educated a little bit.  There is so much more to say about this, and there are even some (slightly) more intelligible arguments to this point that I am ignoring for this post – but feel free to leave them in the comments section if you aren’t bashful about your ineptitude in the area of critical thought.

Let’s tackle these one at a time:

1. People gather in groups to discuss it.

Gathering for discussion is called a MEETING.

2. There are organisations[sic] devoted to it.

An “organisation” that is “devoted” to something is not a de facto religious group, unless they are devoted to a religion…

3. People have FAITH in atheism theology.

a) “theology” is the study of the divine beings and religious rituals, neither of which atheism accepts
b) The vast majority of atheists reject the notion that it is possible to gain knowledge by faith, as this would imply the supernatural

4. They have their own worldview.

Worldview does not equal religion. Everyone has a worldview.

5. They have their own prophets: Nietzsche, Russell, Feuerbach, Lenin, Marx.

a) “Prophets” use a supernatural connection to the divine to gain knowledge via faith-based means. Atheists reject the divine, are unlikely to believe in the supernatural, and – again – reject a faith-based epistemology due to its reliance on the divine.
b) Nietzche is a badass philosopher who used LOGIC and FACTS (as opposed to faith) to reveal falsifiable truths that I am allowed to question and try to disprove – this is the EXACT OPPOSITE of prophecy.
c) Bertrand Russell, mathematician, same as above
d) I have never heard of Feuerbach – odd if he is supposed to be my prophet
e) Lenin was an atheist, yes, and he was an out of control power-broker who advocated violence, and I do not revere him or know anyone who does
f) Marx, philosopher, see a). Karl Marx’s primary goal in his writings and political theory were to highlight and relieve the suffering of the underprivileged, which is honorable, but many, MANY atheists disagree STRONGLY with Marxism. If he was a prophet, you would not find his “followers” so fervently challenging his claims, would you?
6. …They have their own messiah: He is, of course, Charles Darwin.

Messiah” is a Jewish concept, and it is based on the Old Testament prediction that a leader would arise among the Jewish people, anointed by God, to become a great military dictator, and expel the enemies of Judaism from Zion by military force, take the literal throne as a literal, Earthly king, and establish a theocratic government to enforce Old Testament law and custom. NONE OF THIS is compatible with atheism (or with Christianity, for that matter).

7. When you think about it,you atheists really are a bunch of narrow minded sheeple.!

Why?  Because they have a RELIGION?  When you THINK about it, it would be REALLY stupid for a religious person to argue that atheism is a religion, and then conclude that its followers are therefore  “narrow minded sheeple.”  It seems to imply that the followers of religions (like the author of said criticism) are sheeple…she called herself a sheep because she didn’t THINK before she typed.  Then again, perhaps that was a brilliant way of proving the point.

This just needs to be stated CLEARLY in as many places as possible:
+ Religions involve a belief in the supernatural
+ Religions are established to provide ritualized appeasement of the supernatural
+ SOME religions have prophets, preists, messiahs, and some don’t, but those notions are antithetical to atheism.
+ Many religions have codes, creeds or scriptures. In one sense atheism lacks this.  There are certainly codes and creeds by which an atheist could live, but there is no capital-A Atheism, and never has been.  The only necessary feature of atheism is a rejection of the theistic.
+ The only 2 things that are really KEY to religion are a belief in the divine, and a set of rituals. Atheism has neither.

Please, do your part in ending this senseless meme in its infancy.  Not because there’s any real danger of it becoming taken seriously by thinking people, but because it’s just annoying.

The End.

Utah loves its porn more than YOUR state does!

Posted in Atheism with tags , , , , on March 3, 2009 by theicidalmaniac

Well, anti-depressants and prescription drugs aren’t the ONLY thing we Utahns lead the country in anymore:  According to a study conducted by a professor at Harvard Business School 8 of the 10 states that lead the country in online porn subscriptions (anonymized data provided by credit card companies) are CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN STATES!!!  I’m so happy!

And guess who leads the pack?

Yup.

Utah.  #1 BABY!!!  So what if the Jazz let us down year after god-damned year, we are #1!!!

 

#1 in prescription and non-illicit drug abuse (National Census Bureau)

#1 in anti-depressant use (National Institute of Mental Health)

#1 in internet porn subscriptions (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16680-porn-in-the-usa-conservatives-are-biggest-consumers.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

HOORAY, Utah.  Your mom is proud.

What I’m not sure about is, does this mean that Mormons are indulging in the forbidden, or are the rest of us just finding that Utah’s bullshit porn laws leave us only 2 options: Drive to Evanston, WY (also the nearest place to buy ACTUAL-strength beer and real fireworks!), or stay home, get a porn subscrip, and rock the night away.

It’s probably a mixture of both, I suppose, but since Mobots outnumber us regular folk, like, 9,000 to 1 I’m guessing that the Morg collective is responsible for the lion’s share of subscriptions.  Either way, it should be clear to the Morg that their tactics are failing and that their decrepit culture is rotting from the inside out, and that our resistence is perhaps not so futile.

Essentially what Utah is doing is pushing normal sexual interests into the closet where dysfunction will fester, pushing drinker’s into the basement where they become a subculture (oh yeah, I didn’t mention the proposed law that would allow cops to issue citations to persons who APPEAR drunk), and pretending that prescription drugs are OK to abuse because your bishop/doctor hooked you up. These laws are actually making things WORSE here, and we’ve got the stats to prove it.  That’s it, next election year I’m voting for people who make decisions based on FACTS instead of beliefs.  …give that a try for once.

 

On a side note, the New Kids on the Block just wrapped up a set on Jimmy Kimmel, and now they are being followed by self-proclaimed “whistle-blower” and ex-con, Kevin Trudeau.  WTF?!?!  We’re bringing THESE PEOPLE back?  This world is going to shit in a pioneer handcart.

Euthyphro for Parents

Posted in Atheism with tags , , on February 24, 2009 by theicidalmaniac

My kid said “Oh Shit,” today while playing with grandma.

I’m reminded of a line spoken by Ralphy in “A Christmas Story,” a line that will certainly be true for my daughter.  “Now, I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master.”  But it is somewhat embarrassing when your child blurts it out at gramma.  I think it probably happened because she helped me fix the sink the other day, which reminds me of yet another quote from the same movie: “I have since heard of people under extreme duress speaking in strange tongues. I became conscious that a steady torrent of obscenities and swearing of all kinds was pouring out of me as I screamed.

Well, that’s an exaggeration, but only a slight one.  I sat down with my daughter and apologized for what I said and told her that Daddy shouldn’t have said those words, and neither should she.  Her mother suggested, “Daddy needs to go on time out.

I don’t go on time outs, but this got me thinking.  SHOULD I tell her that it is bad for me to say swear words?  Should I let her believe that time-outs apply to her parents?  I am reminded of Plato’s Euthyphro dilemma:

“Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious? Or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?”

In other words is a commandment good, in terms of cosmic justice, because a deity commands it to be done, or does the deity command it to be done because it is good?  If a deity commands something because it is good, then its goodness is independent of that deity; in essence it is a law that transcends the deity, or is supreme to the deity.  On the other hand, if it is only good for the mere fact that a deity commands it, then ANYTHING COULD BE GOOD, if only the deity would say so.  In other words there is nothing inherently WRONG with any actions; an action only becomes good or evil when a god arbitrarily assigns that value to it.

If I tell my daughter that I should not swear, and, in order to uphold the order of justice that we are attempting to impose upon her, I must then go on a time out, then those things that should be done and those that should not be done do not come from me at all.  If I let her see this, does that not make me her peer in some way?  Does that not bring me to her level, and thus I lose my authority over her in her eyes?  And what right would I then have to impose a punishment upon her?

OR, if I show my daughter that I may do as I please, and that punishment such as “time-out” will not apply to me, won’t it then become clear to her that I am inventing right and wrong before her very eyes, and then doling out punishment based on her adherence to my inventions and whim?  How is that just?  Will she then come to believe that there is no right and wrong, only that with which one can get away and that with which one can not get away?  Not to sound like a fundy Christian, or to rip off Dostoyevski, but won’t that teach her that “anything is permissable?”

Well, she’s only 2½ years-old.  Maybe I don’t need to worry about it just yet.  Maybe she is not capable of seeing me as her peer, in which case I should submit myself to punishment to teach her ethical stability.  If, on the other hand, I teach her that the rules apply only to her, I could perhaps temper that with the golden rule, but unfortunately there is quite a lot of evidence suggesting that children are not able to empathize with others until they are 5 or 6 years old.  Without empathy, one cannot make a good moral judgment about how to treat others (say she had hit someone instead of just said a naughty word) based on a humanist viewpoint of “it is bad to hurt other people” or a maxim like “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It seems as though I am in a situation where the only effective option is that in which I follow the same rules, and suffer the same consequences, that she does.  But then at what point, and HOW, do I switch that over into a secular humanist ethic, where the only real “good” is in causing happiness, and where the only “evil” is in causing harm to people.  How do I show her that, if she has come to believe in a tangible force of right and wrong, something that is above even me?

This must be why somebody pre-packaged a value system a long time ago and put it on the market as religion.  It would be nice to not think so much…

Euonym

Posted in Atheism on February 20, 2009 by theicidalmaniac

Euonym: an appropriate name for a person, place, or thing

Example: The realtor’s name was Sue House, a euonym.

Etymology: 1889; Gk. eu ‘good’ + onym ‘name’

 ~Dictionary.com

 

Just a quick update to my most recent post, “What Kind of Religion Won’t Let You Quit?”  Actually, it’s nothing new, just something I hadn’t noticed until recently.  The letter I received from the LdS church, informing me that they weren’t quite done with me, was signed by one Greg Dodge, of the LdS Records Department, letting me know that they could not process my request until I spoke with someone at the local level, so that this local person could then contact the LdS records department an tell them that I want to resign.  Is there a better example of bureaucratic runaround?

I found it strange to be toyed with in this way.  Is this one final insult, to dodge my request to be released by sending me the infamous “local ecclesiastical matter” letter signed by a Mr Dodge?  Does this man exist?  Or is it just a really, really funny joke?  Well, I have seen online that many people in my shoes have actually spoken to Dodge directly, and claimed that he was quite cordial…In fact it is apparently a tradition of people who have had to deal with Mr. Dodge to send him Christmas cards at the records department every year.  But isn’t it more likely (or at least more fun to imagine) that when you call you just get some random phone support person who goes by an alias?  Or perhaps they have a strict policy of employing only people with serendipitous surnames:

“Hi, this is Elder Blowoff.  How can I appear to be attempting to be helpful in a condescending and disrespectful way today? Uh-huh.  Oh you don’t say? Wha-?  No I’m listenin, honest.”