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A Death in the Family

graveNo one’s getting out alive. One of the few constants in the universe is that there is an ultimate end to everything. If we’re to believe all of the philosophical euphemisms surrounding death, we shouldn’t fear it. It comes to all things. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is inescapable. All things are ultimately buried, even if only metaphorically.

When the end comes, whether it be expected or a sudden and shocking event, the process of grieving begins.  People deal with their grief in different ways, some constructive, others not so much. In her landmark book, “On Death and Dying”, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross spoke of what she called the five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although she directed her words to those who were dying, the five stages also apply to those forced to grieve the loss of a loved one.

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Making Amerika Great One Swastika at a Time

aunt-beulahBy Aunt Beulah

Aunt Beulah is a former comatose pseudonym who woke from her slumber when the country lobbed a grenade through her nursing home window.

Is it not refreshing to see America and its citizens finally paving The Path to the Moral High Ground? It’s about time we jumped on High Horse and galloped over the Constitution of the United States of America. Just between you and me, I feel the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, not to mention the Declaration of Independence, are pretty lame. After all, the Founding Fathers of this country couldn’t even be bothered to establish a State religion or mention Christianity at all in any of these documents. I’m almost positive that was an oversight, although I can’t be sure as I wasn’t there and there was no Twitter. Perhaps they were sidetracked while separating church from state and couldn’t find their way back to the pew to ask for guidance. Damn Deists. Horrifying Humanists. Sensible Secularists.  What were they thinking by leaving the construal of those documents to the commoners?!

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The Value of Faith?

A Google quote-of-the-day caught my eye this morning. It amounted to a backhanded slap to the arrogance of humanity. After all, we’re all so damned important or so we think.

The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness.

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The Creation Museum – Disneyland Revisited

I unapologetically acknowledge that I am trained as a scientist. My father was an engineer. My grandfather was an engineer. Logic was revered on the alter in the home of my youth. It has long intrigued me that a substantial percentage of Americans reject the concept of Darwinian evolution. At the risk of offending those who fall into that category, what the hell kind of Kool-Aid are you drinking? I can’t see how anyone with a touch of education and a hint of cerebral activity can believe otherwise. I can think of few things in the scientific world that are so incredibly self evident.

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Pat Robertson – One Sick S.O.B.

I’ve been a little neglectful of this column recently. Most of my efforts have been going into writing a book about a homeless, mentally ill man who served as a unifying force in a community in California. The book is nearing completion and will hopefully shed light on the plight of the mentally ill in this country. It is a touching and compelling story.

As I write about the difficulties of living with mental illness, I see that being a mentally sick individual doesn’t have to be an automatic condemnation to poverty and discomfort. Look at Pat Robertson, the good Christian who is known to call for the death of his fellow human beings from time to time. As most everyone knows by now, this delusional whack job says the tragedy that has befallen Haiti was brought about by God because Haitians many generations back made “a pact with the devil.”

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Oh How Loud Sing the Guilty

Isn’t it funny how so often those most guilty of an offense are the ones that cry foul the loudest when others do the same thing? Case in point, the United Coalition of Reason, a Washington based group that works to raise the visibility of local groups in what it calls “the community of reason.” This community of reason includes a variety of non-theistic organizations including secular humanists, agnostics, atheists, and other non-believers in the realm of the supernatural. Some groups even include Jews and other progressive thinking members of more traditional religious groups.

The United Core of Reason has provided assistance to local Coalition of Reason groups in a variety of American cities to erect billboards and bus signs reaching out to other non-theists to let them know they are not alone and that numerous local groups offer everything from education to social forums for like minded non-believers to get together. The billboard campaign came to Phoenix earlier this year and arrived in San Diego this week. Billboards have also appeared in Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Houston and a host of other cities around the nation.

The billboards proclaim . . .

“Are You Good without God?  Millions are.” or “Don’t Believe in God? You are not alone.”

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The Reader and the Witness

Lest you be forced to guess, Allen Sherpa is an avid reader. Trained as a scientist in college, I find that later in life the subjects in which I had the least interest in my younger years have become those for which I now have a burning passion. History, philosophy, economics, politics, all topics that rest on the nature of humanity and the behavior of mankind. I have found that a lust for new learning is what keeps people young no matter their age. I hope this elixir serves me well as the years go by.

Those that know me well also know that I am not a particularly religious man (I hereby submit this claim for the “Understatement of the Year” award). However, I am not anti-religious, at least until someone’s beliefs impinge upon the rights of others. When the religious-right actively engages in the politics of hate, I draw the line. When religious zealots strap explosives to themselves and wipe out a couple dozen diners, I draw the line. When someone guns down a doctor because he doesn’t agree with his philosophy of life, I draw the line. When someone forces a school board to teach kids, in spite of the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, the earth is only six thousand years old and evolution is a myth, I draw the line. Frankly, I view proselytizing missionaries as cultural terrorists that are attacking the belief systems of others with their own arrogant life views.

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Sinning for Fun and Profit

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I, Allen Sherpa, am an ordained minister, a full fledged member of the clergy. I am legally permitted to perform marriages, baptisms, and even exorcisms. My grandfather was an ordained Methodist minister who ministered in Harlan County Kentucky following the end of World War I. I guess it’s in my blood.

I have long known that a particular religious group headquartered in this country considers itself superior to all other religious groups in knowing the only “true way” to redemption and eternal life. Now that I think of it, I don’t know of any religious group that doesn’t consider itself superior to all others and in full possession of the only direct line to the heavens and eternal bliss.

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My Pilgrimage to the Motherland

Forgive me if I sound a little like John McCain, but for a number of years I’ve had the good fortune of having more than one home. If I’m counting correctly (sounds like I’m a Republican doesn’t it?), I’ve had as many as five at any one time. In an effort to simplify our lives, we’ve reduced that number to only three. After all, times are hard.

When not traveling to mountains around the world, much of my time over the past twenty five years was spent at my principal residence in a small, isolated town deep in the mountains of Arizona. It was about a hundred miles northeast and about eighty years behind Phoenix. Although the community has many fine, upstanding, educated, thinking Americans amongst its residents, it also has more than its fair share of our “less expansive” thinkers. After all, it is an ultra red spot in the midst of an extremely red state. It is so red that from a distance, it could be confused with a swatch of the surface of Mars. The only difference is the level of education is probably higher on Mars.

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Let Us Prey

Yea, yea, I know how to spell. I just don’t always understand the difference between pray and prey. My confusion has its roots in the various public meetings that I attend at which the meeting is opened with a prayer. When it takes place at a government meeting such as a City Council or Planning Commission it is a violation of the First Amendment. When it occurs in a non-government meeting such as a Chamber of Commerce or a business organization like the Association of Realtors, it is an arrogant abuse of the fundamental rights of many of those in attendance. When a high school coach forces his team to pray before a game, to some, it is a form of child abuse. It becomes a particularly insidious act when the prayer is tagged with “In Jesus’ name.”

When these things happen, the rights of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, non-believers and a host of other non-Christians are trampled. What are the people that advocate this behavior conceivably thinking? Surely Commissioner Johnson doesn’t believe that without an open, public prayer that God is going to prevent him from casting the correct vote request for a variance on the placement of a dumpster at a shopping center? Or perhaps it’s a show where the performer thinks the display of prayerfulness will endow him with an image of thoughtful humility; how utterly arrogant and thoughtless.

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