Baubles of Blasphemy, Second Edition, edited by Frank Zindler, American Atheist Press, 2010, www.atheists.org.
The books arrived from the printers a few weeks ago, while my Helen was in the I.C.U. I gave her a signed copy, together with a private writing therein thanking her and saying that without her the work would not exist. She was not aware that I had brought the book, nor was she able to read it. I took it home with me the night she died. But I know she would want you to know about this new edition. And since I believe that humor is the only real way to deal with the deepest grief, I will tell you about it.
The new covers, designed by Helen and my daughter Kathryn, make it look like it was just pulled out of the fundangelical fires set for burning Harry Potter books and other forbidden thought. This is because the cover really is burned. I photographed the cover, glued it onto a copy of a disposable religious book, and tossed it into a blazing charcoal grill. After a few moments, I pulled it out and photographed the result. I rather like it. Some people hate it; they think it is damaged somehow because it looks so real, with important stuff missing. That is because it is real. Thus this explanation is offered.
The back cover contains all of the information needed. The editor, Frank Zindler, insisted it be that way. The back cover submitted was nicely burned as well, but the humorless editor kept only the burned front cover and the burned spine. Oh, lest you think I really believe in book burning, I managed to save “The Case for a Creator,” by Lee Strobel, to which my covers were pasted, in very good order, with only the margins charred.
The Second Edition (or Second Coming if you will) adds a bunch of new material, in addition to reproducing that contained (well, almost all of that contained) in the now famous, and virtually unavailable, First Edition, edited by Ed Buckner and published by the Freethought Press of Atlanta, Georgia, 1995.
As a sample of the work's blasphemous contents, here is the 1995 Edwinian prophesy, contained in both editions, of things now coming so terribly true:
ON THE COMING AMERICAN RELIGIOUS CIVIL WAR (ARCW)
War is hell. Little understood aphorism.
THIS MAY BE YOUR FIRST NOTICE OF THE COMING AMERICAN RELIGIOUS CIVIL WAR (ARCW). If so, you should date and preserve this warning. Then your distant descendants (maybe the "Daughters of the ARCW") can have something to be smug about--in the unlikely event that they, and this notice, survive the fires, and anybody can still read.
The ARCW has already been started by the superstitious. They call it a "civil war of values." The shooting has already started. They call that "protecting innocent life." The purpose of the war is to overthrow science and constitutional democracy and to replace them with the Bronze Age myths and laws of ancient Iraq that became preserved in a collection of writings known, in translation, as "The Holy Bible." They regard this undertaking as "bringing America back to God." Loyal Americans should regard it as treason.
The effects of the stated ends of the traitors include: harming children by not teaching them about human sexuality; harming adults by irrationally circumscribing consensual sexual and reproductive freedom; harming democracy by imposing laws enforcing mythological interpretations of a supernatural being's will; harming civilization by preventing inquiry and suppressing evidence that disproves the myths; harming human development by teaching that humans have a duty to live for some superstitious spiritual world rather than for the world of flesh in which they happen to exist. The traitors do not view their teachings or methods as harmful, but neither did their pious ancestors who beat children and burned women alive for their own good.
The fanatics have declared war on reason and human progress. They have done this because they suffer from fundamental misunderstandings of the nature of American democracy and of the Bible.
History tells lies. It is important to understand this to understand the ARCW. A particularly harmful lie is that the United States of America was founded as a Christian nation. The traitors truly believe this because it has been taught them since they colored pilgrims with crayons in church nursery school while their parents were in the sanctuary learning to be more judgmental. As the young bigots grew into adultery(sic), they accepted this teaching uncritically, just as they accepted that everything in the bible is true, and that science is wrong, if not evil, when it proves that humans have evolved from non-human life forms. The traitors should, in fairness, be permitted to prove the intensity of this mental abuse in their defense at the ARCW war crimes trials.
America was not established as a Christian nation. To the contrary, it was intentionally set up as a godless nation. That's why no god or religion of any kind is mentioned in our Constitution. This was so important that it was memorialized in the first words of the first amendment to our Constitution, to wit, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The people who started this country knew what religious war and holy terror was, and they wanted to be very clear that America was a democracy set up under human law, not religious authority or rule. This was made exquisitely clear when, in a treaty with Tripoli, signed by President John Adams on June 10, 1797, the United Stated Senate unanimously declared, "...the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." That's that, said the grammarian. People who don't like the American way, and think church and state should not be separated, really ought to move to Serbia where they can kill and rape non-believers with impunity.
The traitors who push the ARCW think they are doing god's will by trying to force their sacred texts and prejudices on those who want to dance to other celestial music or simply stay home Sunday mornings and brush the cat. Before our Constitution, several states made criminals of people who didn't attend the right church, or, whisper the thought, did not attend holy services at all. Some very wise people made us a nation where it is legal to stay home with the cat. If we want to keep it that way, it is necessary to win the ARCW.
As the believers, who think the fault is in the stars and not in themselves, are waging the ARCW on many fronts, thus on many fronts must freedom be defended. Particularly valuable allies can be found among Christians who find attempts to force their foot into someone else's shoe offensive. After all, if the existence and will of any god were clearly known, there would be no need for faith or debate. No one seriously doubts that objects fall down if dropped, but there is murderous dispute over beliefs that cannot be proved as convincingly as gravity.
This is a wake up call. Don't press the snooze alarm. The barbarians are at the gates, and, because they encourage breeding beyond the ability of the breeders to house, feed, and educate the breedees, violence and social disorganization continue. As the most Christian nation on earth watches its civilization dissolve like a Dove bar fallen off of that ark, attempts to enforce irrational superstitious solutions will accelerate. That Branch Davidian thing was a sample. Lots of other messiahs are waiting. Maybe we can have court ordered Branch Davidian Social Services counseling for people who won't share their wives with god's anointed. Maybe courts can acquit murderers if they believe god's finger was on their trigger. Maybe the barbarians will actually succeed in assuring that books, pictures, ideas, doctors, judges and military commanders share their vision. Then we will have a lot of interesting tribal warfare. One useful defense will be humanistic hermeneutics.
"Hermeneutics" is a fancy word for biblical interpretation. When religious types want to make something simple sound holy and mysterious, they often give it an important sounding high falutin' name. This practice contrasts sharply with the usage of secular humanists, who, in explaining their views, employ simple words, that fall trippingly from the tongue, like "eupraxophy."
Hermeneutics can be an important weapon to use against religious fanatics in the coming ARCW. The hard core nut cases-- those who would control every aspect of our lives by forcing us to accept their understanding of the will of their god--tend to share certain operational assumptions. These include the belief that:
1) Every word of the bible is true.
2) The English translation of the bible authorized by King James the First of England, completed in 1611, Common Era, is the only fully acceptable, authoritative, and inspired-by-god translation of holy scripture. This translation is accurate in every respect, including punctuation marks.
3) The bible is the basis of all morality. Without it there can be no morality.
4) The United States of America was established, and should be governed, according to biblical principles.
5) The bible is without error.
6) No part of the bible is in conflict with, or contradictory to, any other part.
7) Hermeneutics can be used to clarify and explain those truths of god in the bible that might appear, to finite minds, to be in conflict. The goal of hermeneutics is to reconcile all portions of the word of god (the bible) into a seamless, complete, infallible, and final statement of all past and future history (the latter is called "prophecy"), of divine law, and of how humans should behave and understand morality. The bible, properly interpreted, is the final word on everything.
Ignorance, while regrettable, can lead to some interesting discussions. As an example of how hermeneutics works, one gospel tells us Judas hanged himself after betraying Jesus. Another gospel says Judas threw himself off a cliff. Proper interpretation, guided by the holy spirit, reveals this to mean Judas hanged himself over a cliff. Then the rope, or branch, broke, and Judas fell down the cliff. If the author of the "Song of Solomon" in the bible appears to drool over a woman's breasts, this is not to be understood in some sexual sense that would keep the bible out of family friendly libraries, but rather as a poetic metaphor of Christ's love for his church. See, it's really quite simple.
Fanatics feel that only the godless and the immoral could possibly understand the bible as a collection of diverse literary myths, sexy stories, primitive laws, and biased histories, unconnected in their presentation, and unworthy of belief in their totality. Such true believers are quite satisfied with the famous refutation of reason of the early Christian church, "I believe it because it is absurd."
The problem is that they are not content to believe what they want and let others believe, or not believe, as they choose. The ARCW they have declared has the avowed purpose of making our democracy one nation under their idea of god. This is treason in its purest and most virulent form.
America was not founded on biblical principles. There is nothing in the bible about democracy. Democracy was invented in Greece, some five hundred years before Jesus. It was overwhelmed for centuries in religious bloodbaths of kings and emperors, and, with minor exceptions, disappeared from human affairs until it was rediscovered and memorialized in the Constitution of the United States of America. To insure that dictators and priests would be kept forever at bay, after much debate, our Constitution was consciously created as a godless document that established a wholly secular state. Love it or leave it.
The religious fanatics who are traitors to our way of life must be stopped before their
un-American attempts to replace our democracy with their mythology causes the ARCW to become a shooting war. Using their principles of hermeneutics, their own book can become a powerful weapon against them in ways reasonable people (including most Christians) can understand.
The bible contains a relatively limited vocabulary when compared with the great contemporary literary works of Greek and Roman writers. The style is also awkward by comparison. One might argue the a work dictated by god should be expected to be better than the writings of heathens, but, alas, it is not. There are no original ideas or thoughts in the bible. Much of it is plagiarized from Egyptian and Babylonian sources. There is little that passes for morality as we understand it. Slavery is condoned, as is the murder of children of non-believers; a rebellious son should be stoned to death, and women are to be totally subjugated to men. A man could have many wives in the Old Testament. If it is argued that the New Testament created a "new covenant" wherein only one wife is permitted, we might wonder if the changeless god changed his mind. If so, how can every word of the Old Testament be taken as the will of god?
From a search of the sacred text itself, using a computerized King James Bible, available in Christian bookstores, we discover that the following words do not appear in the bible: cooperate; cooperation; moral; traditional; values; rational; rights; morals; independence; congress; compromise; progress; republic; republican; democrat; democracy; insight; morality; jury; vote; test; due process; consequences; coincidence; parliament; majority; minority; constitution; achievement; aspire; human; invention; explore; discovery; humanity; humanism; university; universe; homosexual; fairness; harmony; treaty; logic; sexuality; abort; abortion; fetus; poet; poetry; artist; creativity.
If the bible is the foundation of morality and our way of life, we are in serious trouble indeed. If the ARCW is lost, we will have no need for those omitted words.
(permission is given for non-profit reproduction or quoting. If you make money on this, I want some of it) Edwin.