A generic prayer

There is a big controversy about public prayers in otherwise secular institutions of education, politics etc. Some advocate a generic prayer. Here is an edited version of one I proposed some time ago, that got a little lost when I updated my site.


i.  Our parent(s) and/or legal divine gaurdian(s) and/or designated, covenanted or otherwise contractually obligated divinity, quasi-/semi-divinity, and/or spiritual, and/or ancestral entity, and/or alien-life-form and/or abstract cosmic principle(s) and/or Pasta.

ii.  Who art in any one or more of the following regions, realms, spheres or realities: Heaven, Underworld, deep caves, bottom of the sea, tops of various mountains, Planet Zorg, Ipswich (UK), or any other abode, place, domicile, dimension or locale.

iii.  Hallowed be thy no-name.

iv.  Thy Kingdom / Queendom / Hermaphrodom / Androgydom / Neuterdom come, but not in that sense.

v.  Thy will or unconscious workings of cosmic order be done on Earth and/or any other planets as it is done in any specified, indicated, implied or insinuated heaven or other “place” as listed in verse 2.

vi.  Give us (please) or otherwise empower us to have fair access to (at a fair price) our daily bread, rice, maize, noodles of assorted sorts, taros, yams, gruel, donuts, hamburgers, additional yams as required, bacon, free-range chickens, tasty mammals, cheetos, and/or walruses according to our individual preferences and cultural traditions, respecting, of course, our respective taboos (i.e., don’t worry so much about bacon for the folks in the Middle East, they’ll get by).

vii.  Forgive us our trespasses and unseemly loiterings, and other breaches of religious law, custom, or ethical standards, and for simply being such easy targets when thou art in a bad mood, as we decide to put up with other folk being bastards towards us.

viii. Neither lead, command, direct, tease or cajole us into temptations or otherwise acting like jerks.

ix. In the very least, deliver us from evil, violence, cruelty and so on, including taxes, although a damn good smiting of the bastards inflicting it may, at times, be more appropriate than a simple deliverance. Nip the problem in the bud, we say.

x.  For thine is the monarchy or polity of some another form; the power (although the Unitarians remain free to differ on this point), and the glory and street cred, for ever and ever until we redefine you differently.

Agender (unspecific).


New Atheists are Wussies

This is one of the old posts that got inextricably moved to the drafts folder when I changed webhosts. I’m resurrecting some of them and updating them a little. Like this one.

In view of the big inter-atheist arguments of Joseph Hoffmann vs. Jerry Coyne, P.Z. Myers and Co, I’d like to share repost this because of its additional thoughts on the NEW/Gnu/Neo/Naughty-Atheists. Of course, it’s just for fun.


That’s the conclusion of my friend and colleague in Religious Studies at the U. of Lethbridge, Tom Robinson, who has been studying the history of the girl evangelist movement in the 1920s and ’30s, and in so doing uncovered a lot of information about the atheist movement at the time. He published a brief overview of it in the Lethbridge Herald‘s weekly column “Public Professor”.

Tom’s article “Advertising atheism sparks backlash” (alas, no longer online) begins by commenting on the recent bus ad business (alas, the Lethbridge campaign has not got exact fare, so it is stalled). Anyway, this is mild compared to the ’20s.

In 1925 the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism (the 4As, as it was called) was formed. It declared itself the “Militant Foe of the Church and Clergy.” The association tried to shut down campaigns of revivalist preachers, they established a Junior Atheist League for school children, they set up the American Anti-Bible Society, they successfully argued against having the Ten Commandments read in public schools in New York, they called the Bible “a cesspool of Asiatic superstition,” they established a seminary, and they may have encouraged their members to steal Gideon bibles from hotel rooms. They even sent out missionaries to foreign lands — to British Columbia and then to Sweden, apparently two areas of the world most in need of the message.

In a fit of brilliance that may have inspired Monty Python, one group developed their own atheist hymnal with this classic:

Blame God from whom all cyclones blow,
Blame him when rivers overflow,
Blame him who swirls down house and steeple,
Who sinks the ships and drowns the people.

There was no youtube of itunes back then, apparently, so I don’t have  a recording, but here is Monty Python:

And then there is Queen Silver who Tom says began her anti-Church crusade at age 4.


Take that, Sam Harris! She’ll show you how its done!

Tom briefly mentions the “Godless Girl”, Cecil B. De Mille’s last silent film. Basically it is lust story of two kids who end up in reform school and try to escape , but the thing that sets the story up is a huge brawl that breaks out between the High School bible thumpers and the bible bashers. It is the thumpers who are more militant and try to break up an atheists meeting which ends up in one dead, and 2 in prison.


One of the best scenes comes early when the atheist group is initiating new members. The “converts” to the godless cause have to swear their allegiance by putting their hand on the head of a monkey.


The monkey survived the fight. The fellow here actually backed down from the oath after he was told he would have to give up Christmas. OOOOO They were hard liners back then!

Tom also recommends tracking down this old tome, if you are interested in the 1920’s religious landscape: Charles W. Ferguson, The New Books of Revelations: The Inside Story of America’s Astounding Religious Cults (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1929).

Tom has published another Public Professor column in mid-February on the evolution controversy in early evengelicalism. Surprisingly, not all early evangelicals were opposed to it!

In The question of origins and the reading of ancient texts Tom writes:

Even some early so-called fundamentalists in the 1900s saw the Genesis story as more symbolic than literal. In the most definitive expression of fundamentalism at the time, the multi-volume collection of articles called The Fundamentals, James Orr, a Scottish churchman and professor, wrote an article titled “Science and the Christian Faith.” He argued that the Bible should not be treated as a textbook on science, since it “does not profess to anticipate the scientific discoveries of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” Orr reminded his readers that the world the Bible describes “is the world men know and live in, and it is described as it appears, not as, in its recondite researches, science reveals its inner constitution to us.” Orr even spoke of “a growing appreciation of the strength of the evidence for the fact of some form of evolutionary origenetic connection of higher with lower forms.”

The Fundamentals was a multivolume set finished in 1917 as R.A. Torrey, A.C. Dixon (eds) The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Co., Baker Books, 1917.

Tom also talks about the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in which a Tennessee teacher was fined for teaching evolution in class.


Tennesee, 1925, A monkey scopes out the flapper babes.

Tom writes:

From that time, Christian fundamentalism came to be characterized by its opposition to the theory of evolution and by its defence of a fairly literal reading of the Bible. In part, the fundamentalist reaction can be explained by an increasingly nasty struggle between fundamentalism and more liberalizing fellow Christians (the modernists). Modernist views, arising out of new perspectives of the Enlightenment, questioned the concept of miracle and dismissed the ancient and pre-scientific worldview of the Bible as quaint. In the struggle between modernism and fundamentalism, the theory of evolution came to be seen by some as a choice between the truth of the Bible and the skepticism and rationalism of the modernists. Fundamentalists worried that a non-literal reading of the creation story might lead to non-literal readings of other parts of the Bible central to Christian teachings. Some thought that this might threaten traditional Christian belief at its core. Thus the theory of evolution became one of the prominent markers separating the two sides — the line in the sand, so to speak — and it still serves as one of the key battle lines for many today.

What this says to me is how religious discourses, like everything else, have histories. It would be hard to get many fundamentalists to see beyond the modern polarizations, and some atheists I know would also have trouble doing the same!

Anway, the only post I have ever made on this site that gets any respectable number of hits is the one with a nice picture of a total babe actress, so in a bit of total gratuitous pretty face mongering, here is another one:


Lina Basquette, the Godless Girl.

Next Biblical Studies Carnival Will Be Here!

So, start submitting great blog posts about the Bible and related stuff. Heck, besides recommending my own posts, you can submit links to posts on other people’s blogs, too! Hey, I’m just that kind of guy!

Vote for this kitteh or she will cry

Send your submissions to happilyunchurched[at]gmail.com!

Now, all I’ve got to do is decide on a theme for the carnival. Dr. Platypus, Darrell Pursiful had a basketball theme. A few months before that Jim West had a rodeo carnival. So I need one, too. And  you can help! I thought up some possibilities, and I will let my raving fan base of (yes, all three of you!) decide. So, vote in my poll! You can pick up to 2 choices!

And don’t forget to vote for the thinkingshop as your favourite (or at least tolerable) Bible blog by emailing bibliobloggerstop10 ( at ) yahoo.com

Upcoming carnivals (list cut and pasted from Jim West)
June 1, 2011- Joel Watts
July 1, 2011- Christian Brady
August 1, 2011- Daniel McClellan
September 1, 2011-James McGrath
October 1, 2011- Scott Bailey
November 1, 2011- Tom Verenna
December 1, 2011- Remnant of Giants



“Rape victims not to blame” says guy who thinks women shouldn’t create lustful thoughts in men

A week or so ago I posted Mary’s response to a letter writer in the Lethbridge Herald who essentially blamed immodest dress for causing rape. Mary’s response was great.

Certainly, it is wise for parents to teach their own children how to dress appropriately, and even more importantly, how to treat the opposite sex with respect. It is quite another thing to say that just dressing modestly enough will protect you from being raped. If only that were so! Women in full body coverings, such as the burqa, can still be and have been raped.

Secondly, studies have shown that male rapists of women are likely to think little of women, to believe they caused their own rape, and to have little preference between forced and unforced sex. Motives for rape vary among perpetrators, and there are usually multiple motives involved, and can include desire for power over another individual, wishing to humiliate the person, and so on.

Horray for Mary!

Well the bozo wrote back a few days ago. Here it is.

Re: Mary Fredborg’s March 23 letter, “Modest dress won’t protect women from assault.”
First of all, I was focusing on the eyes, not lustful thoughts. What does a man see? It’s what a man sees that can start causing problems. Men struggle with their eyes. Don’t ever underestimate the power of little things (in Fredborg’s words, involuntary lustful thoughts). They can go a long way in causing problems. I’m talking visual foreplay which may ignite passions and shoot men forward by stages until they go all the way. It’s fact that little things can indeed become big things, or at least have the potential to.
Next, about reinforcing the idea that men “cannot help themselves,” and so forth, maybe Mary Fredborg needs to read my letter through a few more times. At least twice I emphasized full responsibility on the part of men. Absolutely nowhere did I ever suggest the idea that men “cannot help themselves.” And while it is true that I did speak of women helping men, that in no way was meant to undermine men’s own responsibility or to make one think that men cannot help themselves.
Regardless how a woman may be dressed, a man has no business to let himself be aroused. Still, a woman needs to consider how her choice of dress will affect the men around her. In my letter I tried very hard to maintain a fair balance between the two genders when assigning responsibility. I was in no way favouring one over the other (such as men over women). I was in no way making any excuses for men. (In fact, I was actually placing greater responsibility on them.)
The point I was trying to make is that while it may be true that men are the ones holding the matches (reference to their greater responsibility), women won’t help themselves or men by piling twigs all around their feet and dousing them with fire starter, so to speak. Modest dress on women could go a long way in helping men who struggle with visual foreplay. In short, men need to watch their eyes, and women need to watch what they wear and how they adorn themselves otherwise.
Michael Breukelman

I suppose I could sum up most of my feelings through the medium of appropriated lol-breakfast foods

But that would not nearly do this fuckwit justice.

Anyway, I couldn’t resist so I wrote a letter. I doubt they will publish it since it it’s,well, a little mischievious, but what the hell? The guy is ratbag. Since it probably won’t be available in ink, here it is, with some added illustrative goodness.

Re: “Letter wasn’t making excuses for men” Michael Breukelman, March 31.

In his letter of March 31, Michael Breukelman responds to Mary Fredborg’s comments of March 23. He makes even less sense here than in his original letter (March 13) that claimed that modest dress may save some women from rape.

He writes that, contra Fredborg, he was “focusing on the eyes, not lustful thoughts.” It is the mind that interprets what the eyes see and Breukelman’s expression, “struggle with the eyes”, can only be a metaphor for a struggle with inappropriate thoughts. That he can’t “see” this suggests that he has lost a round in the struggle with his own unclear thoughts. See also his comment on how “little things can indeed become big things” to explain how men may fall victim to ignited passions.  Should the reader find an innuendo or a freudian slip here?

He claims, “absolutely nowhere did I ever suggest the idea that men ‘cannot help themselves.’”  But he does just that a few sentences earlier when he writes about “visual foreplay which may ignite passions and shoot men forward by stages until they go all the way” (another innuendo?). This gives lie to his repeated assertions that rapists must be held fully accountable. His odd expression, “visual foreplay”, implies (whether he is fully aware of it or not) that by being seen and desired a woman is agreeing to a prelude to sex. That unwanted “foreplay” constitutes sexual assault doesn’t seem to enter Breukelman’s thoughts.

Breukelman likens women dressing attractively to having themselves tied to stakes and dousing themselves with fire starter. Men are then given the “greater responsibility” of avoiding striking a match. But what man would do that except for a complete monster? The women (and men) who were burned for witchcraft in centuries past hardly volunteered to be tied to a pyre to tempt the executioner. The paranoid witch hunters sought them out and put the kindling there themselves. The “evidence” was faked, the courts a travesty, and the whole process a study in unthinking people justifying their own fears by finding scapegoats. I think this may explain some modern people’s continued fears about female sexuality, which calls their own into question.

And what counts as twigs and kerosene in Mr. Breukelman’s books, anyway? What counts as the minimum standards of “modest dress”? Burkas? Alas, even women in Saudi Arabia get raped. I’m sorry, but women do not owe Breukelman a break when it comes to his struggles with his own thoughts.

In a comment on the first post, Veronica suggested we read this link, guaranteed to get us mad. Yup, it worked.

“Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” Toronto police Const. Michael Sanguinetti told a class on rape at Osgoode Hall Law School. He then apologized and ran for cover, but the fact is, in the Sanguinetti world we live in, women are judged on their appearance.

In 2002, British teenager Lindsay Armstrong, 16, was raped. In court she was told to hold up the thong she’d been wearing when attacked. “Little Devil,” it read. Lindsay had been very proud of her fashionable underwear and, her parents said, she was mortified by having to show them in court. “She was horrified and crying,” her mother said. Three weeks later, Lindsay killed herself.

Guys like Breukelman think they are not blaming the victim, that they are standing up to rapists and offering some kind of practical advice to women, but they are doing exactly the opposite. I doubt any would-be rapist would be feel more empowered to commit such crimes having read Breukelman’s letter, but his is only one voice in huge chorus that leads to tremendous suffering and, as the quote above reports, even suicide. The more merciless exposure (pun intended) the idiocy of ideas espoused by Breukelman and his ilk receive, the better. Clearly, some changes need to be made if laws permit judges to determine culpability of a rapist based on his victim’s attire.

The Unnamable Archaeologist at the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities

His unnamableness, the archaeologist from the down the hall here at the University of Lethbridge is avoiding the weekly (and very ancient) RITE OF OPENING THE MOUTH at the GOOD FRIDAY celebrations today at the Zoo (student union bar on campus) to go do something “academic” at the Calgary Chapter of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities. Shame on him!

The Unnameable One is unnamable because he is teaching an archaeology course on ancient Israel in the same semester as I’m teaching my intro the Hebrew Bible. And he has more students than me.

Anyway, here is his talk:

Ancient Egypt in the Nineteenth Century: Egypt in Victorian Popular Culture and the Emergence of Egyptology

Kevin M. McGeough Ph.D. Kevin McGeough [Not his real name. Honest, would I lie to you?] is an Associate Professor of archaeology at the University of Lethbridge. A specialist in the Late Bronze Age city of Ugarit, McGeough has excavated at many sites throughout the Near East, including the Middle Kingdom town at Abydos.

McGeough will discuss how ancient Egypt was represented in Victorian-era popular culture and how these representations influenced the emergence of Egyptology as an academic discipline. By exploring how Egypt appeared in diverse media (such as adventure fiction, periodicals, theatre, world’s fairs, and the rites of secret societies), McGeough will illustrate the important role of ancient Egypt in Victorian thought and society.

The CCSSEA (which I did not know existed until today when his anonymousness declined the invite for REAL academics in the Zoo.

Next month they have another speaker lined up:

Date: 2011 May 6

Title: Dakhleh Oasis Project

Speaker: Dr. Mary McDonald

Mary will talk about her recent work with the Dakhleh Oasis Project (DOP), and the Kharga Oasis Prehistoric Project (KOPP).


On Secular Antiquarianism

Duane Smith, the abnormally interesting blogger has posted some comments about his experiences at the Pacific Coast Regional meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. He reports that some folks there appeared to use the term “antiquarian interests” as a negative reference to some scholarly pursuits. He said it was used ” a couple of times as if it were a synonym for prurient interests or maybe worse”. He adds,

Scholars who are also people of faith (no not all of them) used this expression while worrying about the question of secular scholarship within the SBL and worrying about those, like me, who think a secular Biblical Studies section at the SBL would be a useful counterpoint to some of the rather obvious sectarian goings on at the national meeting.

Duane’s response is that his “antiquarianism” is hardly disconnected from his interest in the modern world since the Bible is is a major factor in our culture.

If you study the Hebrew Bible, the Christian New Testament, the Rabbinic literature, Homer, the Qur’an, the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Virgil, Augustine, Luther, Aquinas, Hobbes, Kant, or the host of other formative literatures with an eye to understanding what your civilization and culture is and how it got to be what it is, your interests can not fairly be defined as antiquarian. And the same is true if your abnormal interest is the formative literatures of someone else’s civilization or culture.

If we wouldn’t think a mathematical logician perverse for studying the Skolem normal form theorem, why would we think a secular study of King Omri of Israel somehow perverse?

I heartily agree. The attempt by some to dismiss the championing of secularism as an academic principle within the SBL by marking it as implying an irrelevant antiquarianism is something of a strawman. Examination of the use of the Bible in the modern world is a secular discipline (as opposed to advocating for the Bible’s use in modern ethics, politics, etc). Nothing antiquarian there.

For the secular historian (and no historian in the SBL should be doing anything other than secular history) the past does not exist in and of itself. One interests always relate in some way to the historian’s own world as Duane implies. Even if this subjectivity is held largely in check, the study of the ancient world in which the biblical materials were produced is no less important to the world of academia. Indeed, it is more relevant than non-secular historical scholarship.  To imply otherwise is to diminish the fundamental root of all academia: curiosity at the world and how it works, be that in subjects labelled “natural science”, “social science” or the “humanities”.

The study of ancient religions is important because it opens a window on the larger issue of human propensity to be “religious”. The secular study of ancient Judah and its writings is one part of that giant puzzle and an important one since those writings still play into religious lives to this day.

Had the University of Alberta had a Sanskrit and early Hindusim teacher instead of two great Hebrew Bible scholars (Ehud Ben Zvi and Francis Landy) when I started my undergrad degree, I would be to my neck in the Vedas and Upanishads. I guess I do have “antiquarian” interests because I like ancient stuff. That being said, I also want to understand the complexities of human religiosity in all of its myriad of forms through the millennia.

Here is an observation, not supported by real research: it seems to me that scholars of non-Palestinian or even non-ANE ancient religions are more likely to have a more diverse interest in global religious phenomena, theory and methods than those who do are interested in ancient Israel and its neighbours.  The ancient Sanskritists are more likely to read Durkehim, Geertz, etc etc. than are folks in the SBL.

There is something of an intellectual wall around the guild of biblical and ancient Israel studies, a legacy of biblical studies’ origins and continued involvement in modern religious discourses. The wall keeps the “barbarians” who would treat the bible as a scholar would treat any other collection of religious writings at a distance while admitting any approach that helps to preserve the Bible’s cultural prestige and many scholars’ perception of the Bible as deserving of special treatment because of its “uniqueness”. The wall is not as impenetrable as it once was, but it should not exist at all. Societies like the SBL that subscribe to humanistic and social scientific values should be interested in tearing it down.  Dismissive labels like “antiquarian interests” for concern over such issues are another cheap attempt at reinforcing the ramparts.

Its Bibliobloggers Carnival Time!

Over at Darrell Pursiful’s blog, Dr. Platypus! Lots of good stuff

Darrell had this to say:

“By far, however, the most exciting battle” was the dust up between me, the SBL and John Hobbins, and a host of other (mostly in the comments made on one of Scott Bailey’s posts on the issue of secularism

Jim Linville wrote When an Academic Society Does the Church’s Work. Can Elephants in the University be Academic? James McGrath countered with The SBL, the Academy, and the Church. Jim followed up with a swipe at a comment from John Hobbins in Just How Badly Can Someone Miss the Point? This was followed by rejoinders by Scott BaileyJohn Hobbins, and another by Jim.

I expect to resume posting on this in the near future! And the Lolcat Jim West contest got mentioned to0 (for better or worse).

Needless to say there was a lot of posts on the lead Jesus books with contributions by  Jim DavilaJohn Byron, and Doug Chaplin and  April DeConick among others.

In other news, Jim West is again the Top Biblioblogger based on Alexa rankings. Of course, his cause is helped by his frequent posting of total depravity such as the image below.

I would NEVER stoop to that sort of thing. My own ranking went up a little to #30 but it has NOTHING to do with such depravity.

And yours truly will be hosting the April Carnival on this very blog! Please send in links and suggestions to

happilyunchurched [at] gmail [dot] com.

Atheism IS a Religion!

In the same way that Barack Obama is a Muslim from Kenya.

In the same way that “Off” is a TV channel.

Know any more clever versions on this? Add a comment and lets see how long of a list can be made!



You can’t make this crap up! Political Party Platform Fail!

I was just going through the list of the registered Canadian political parties and thinking of posting on the losers. Not that the election is over and any votes have been cast to count, but I mean the REAL losers, the parties whose policies are so reactionary, vague, single-issued, and which, if they get  8 votes (providing they can find a candidate) would be overjoyed since the candidate only has 6 friends, family members and party co-workers.

And then I stumbled on an old website of the Western Block Party the “brain” child of a certain Doug Christie, a lawyer infamous for defending various anti-semites and who ran in a B. C. riding a few years ago.

See if you can spot the FAIL!


Who He Is

  • He has practised law in Victoria for 38 years, specializing in free speech and individual rights cases across Canada
  • He is the founder of the Western Canada Concept (1980) and the Western Block Party (2002)
  • He has been President of the Saanich Water Polo School for 10 years
  • He is a long-time local taxpayer and advocate for tax reduction

Where He Stands

  • On Sewage

Now that’s what I call a platform!

Canadian Technology Years Ahead of the Pack

Some astounding scientific news:

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, British scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years and came to the conclusion thattheir ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Brits, in the weeks that followed, an American archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story published in the New York Times:

“American archaeologists, finding traces of 250-year-old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the British”.

One week later, Canadian Dept of Mines and Resources in Northern Canada  reported the following:

“After digging as deep as 30 feet in Northern Canada in the Ontario region of Thunder Bay Jack Lucknow, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely fuck all.

Jack has therefore concluded that 250 years ago, Canada  had already gone wireless.

Thanks to Howard V. for the news tip.

President Roosevelt on his first official tour of Canada learns about high speed public transportation.