What do clergy do? 7-27-09
Fair and faithful trade: 7-29-09

Bach to the future: 7-28-09

This past Sunday at my church we said farewell to our choir director, a wonderful young man who in his three or four years with us has made great improvements in the musical offerings.


He has gone to be choir director at a large church near Baltimore, and we wish him and his wife -- a great soprano -- well, though we will miss them a lot.

Today is almost the perfect day to be mourning the loss of a church musician because it's the anniversary of the death in 1750 of Johann Sebastian Bach (depicted here), who wrote some of the most marvelous and lasting sacred music.

It will not surprise you to learn that this native of Germany was a Lutheran, but I had forgotten until reading more about him recently how much of his music -- especially the most memorable work -- was written for a liturgical church setting.

Experts think his two most important works were his Mass in B Minor and his St. Matthew Passion (those are YouTube links to performance excerpts), which reminds me of something media critic and teacher Ben Bagdikian once said, which is that trying to be a first-rate writer on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach's St. Matthew Passion on a ukulele.

Well, church music and the culture generally have moved on since Bach's day, and now we have a much broader selection of music from which to draw (including from such countries as South Korea, from which our now-departed choir director came). We aren't limited to dead European composers. And yet some of them -- certainly Bach and Mozart among them -- have given marvelous and ongoing gifts to the church, and the 259th anniversary of Bach's death today is not a bad time to remember that.

* * *


I'll soon be doing another blog book column about newly published volumes with religious topics, but one that I haven't read and won't be including in that collection is religion scholar Huston Smith's new autobiography, Tales of Wonder. So I offer you this review from the Boston Globe. It honors Smith's considerable accomplishments but thinks the book lacks emotional depth. I've read Smith's work, met him and heard him speak, and he's been a great gift to interfaith work. Smith has just turned 90.


Will Graham

Since the atheists here have frequently libeled believers by calling them "delusional" (Iggy), and "Psychotic" (Cole), and smeared them by calling them "fruitloops" (the collaborator) I offer this blog post about a possible connection between atheism and a Material Brain Handicap:


Will Graham

Susan asked that if something is written by Jews, is it taboo to be critical of it?

Who said "taboo"?

And who said "critical"?

But it was remarked that the ridicle and misrepresentation are Anti Semitic and reflect Jew Hatred.

The repeated ridicule of the Old Testament, by misrepresenting it (and ignoring the context the Jews found themselves in...when Susan just got through lecturing us on historical development) and riduling the some 600 laws they had (as if teh 6,000 controlling our lives are fine because they are "secular") represents a focus on the Jews that is common among the New Athesits, whose books are full of antisemtic remarks.

My favorite example is Richard Dawkins who talks repreatedly about the most POWERFUL LOBBY IN WASHINGTON...the NOTORIOS JEWISH LOBBY; as Bill would say: BUNK!

And remarks about the "Space Alien" Yahweh, repeated here like a BROKEN RECORD dozens if not HUNDREDS Of times by Iggy...an especially derogatory reference to the very advanced Jewish Monotheism of its time. Susan will proabably defend that too as just "humor", but it not...it is ridicule because Iggy has repeatedly said that the goes around making fun of area ministers by baiting them with stories about "space aliens".

Yep, Jew Hatred, that what it is.


Adanh said, “You see, communism did not have to be atheistic, but in the form it was expressed in during the 20th century, as a derivation of Dialectical Materialism, it was; and that is what drove it in the direction of trying to eliminate religion by any means necessary...Solzhenitsyn's three volume series The Gulag Archipelago provides abundant, indisputable, proof of this.

Will, after all I have posted on this site with my opinions of atheism, do you believe I support communist parties who rule under their interpretation of atheism? You are kidding yourself, ping pong.

Adamh said, “For the atheists decrying prayer...and I know it has worked where doctors have abandoned their patients...it is amusing that they ignore the 100,000 people killed by medical malpractice every year. 200,000 if you count hospital mistakes and pharmaceutical failures.
One solution suggested by a lawyers I know, Make those acts a CRIMINAL, not just CIVIL, offense.”
If the doctors and responsible parties were PROSECUTED, perhaps they would take the claims more seriously and not blow off a malpractice case because they know how hard it is to get it into court.
Okay. If you want to punish mistakes, then punish those who pray and it doesn’t work. This is so ridiculous. If god answers yes with a prayer, it works. If he doesn’t answer, he has a reason and you shouldn’t know about. And you shouldn’t question it. It simply means no, because he has a plan. I wish we could prosecute god for all his failures but he doesn’t have an address so the court can serve him. How convenient. Continued.


Susan posted yesterday, “Cole, I think I know one reason why Hank Hanegraaf is hard up for money: he is probably still trying to pay off his court costs. He tried to sue some guy who was saying some negative stuff about him.
In California, it was becoming very commonplace for people with money to just start a lawsuit if they were getting criticized by someone with less money. Since the critics couldn't usually afford the time and expense of a legal ordeal, this was often an effective way of shutting them up.

But then the government got concerned that all these lawsuits were seriously inhibiting free speech, so they made it illegal to sue someone just to shut them up. So it was determined that Bible Answer Man broke this law by starting his lawsuit, and he ended up owing the court a lot of money.”

Wow. Thanks Susan. As Johnny Carson used to say, “I did not know that.” I will do more research on this and call Hank. Perhaps he will talk about it. He probably won’t. But I will probably wake tomorrow and try.

Susan your posts yesterday on 2 timothy 3:16 is great. What a POV. I like it!

Adam raves on, “Susan, do you believe ANY of the Bible contains the Word of God? For example, do you believe we have any of the words of Jesus?”

Jesus never wrote any words. So how can you believe what jesus said when other people said what jesus said. This is too weird. Jesus is god and a person but he can’t even write in Aramaic, his own language.

Adam said, “Between the propagandist for "Hannibal Lector", Iggy, and the guy who makes it up as he goes along, Cole, and you justifying murder (when in Rome do as the Romans do) the atheists here are reduced to something that I might have to scrape off my shoe.

Adamh. Evolution has shown that whatever you scrape off your shoe, is still part of you. Lots of luck, bowling ball. Continued


DW, you are shameful. I suggest anyone interested go back yesterday to DW’s post at july 27 09 at 2:26. It’s priceless. Such a scolding Susan got-

Hey, DW. Thanks. I like being called member. For example, boy scouts, they are all members of an organization. Do you think they all like fried chicken?...seafood…French food…or tacos – hard shell or soft -? Just a thought.

I find it amazing so many people –millions – find the new testament as the answer to the old testament prophesies. The clue is in the word ”New”. If you were to write in answer to something said yesterday, you get to answer anyway you want. You can say for example: you are the ‘way’, the ‘light’, the ‘man’, the god!

Do any of you understand this?

A lot of Xs say the new testament is correct. The new testament is a scam. Passed from mouth to mouth, from people they say are their heroes, in a written book which has changed – added to and taken from and expelled- from about 1700 years ago to 2009. It’s still being changed. I hope it wasn’t difficult to take those turns.

DW the bible has changed many times. And is interpreted many ways – (more than 10 – ha-)

Please don’t tell me you believe and teach such things. This is my problem with Xs. Be part of the natural world and see how you can help us all live longer and better. I like this idea. Peace. We help each other to live longer and better. Meanwhile we don’t force our personal ‘wants’ on someone else.

I have to set this one aside. It’s too fun. DW layered, “Do you like the part where Jesus said those who have faith in Him, and only Him, for their salvation will be saved, and those who don't will be condemned forever?” -Him, and only Him? I think I shall sayeth the lord’s name as Himith, from hereth on…

DW, there is another himith? Can you explain this part? Continued


Now to continue with DW’s proofs, all from a written book by people no less…

DW continues: (I think he is talking to me)

“Member, lets see, Bill and Susan are tolerant in their viewpoints expressed on this blog, and Saint Paul and the Bible are intolerant. Therefore, Bill and Susan are right and Paul is wrong. Therefore, Bill's blog is more trusworthy than the Bible. The truth is, Paul is not tolerant because God is not tolerant. God hates sin. He punishes sin. The sins of those who have faith in Jesus for their salvation are wiped away. It's as if they never happened. Those who don't have faith in Jesus are condemned by their own sins. Their sins...not God...condemn them to eternal punishment. It's simple, really.”
Yeah, I will have to agree with the ‘simple’ part, really, DW.

The bible – written by people who had a goal – never set good with me. The beginning sucked. Creating the universe is good, life on earth is good. Then he decided to create humans and screwed up twice. The first three people just couldn’t get it right and now all of us forever – at least on this earth- will have to pay for the mistakes of the past sins.

All from rules. Rules from your god. No thanks. I live in the real world.

When I go to the butcher’s, I simply ask for pig steak.

Wow DW. If I were a praying man, I would pray for you to be nice and not support hatred.

Perhaps you can go to a doctor and get a pill for that condition.

We can only hope.

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

PS Tomorrow I will post DW’s yesterdays post. I want everybody to get a chance to read this a l l the w a y through…It’s enlightening.

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole


Bill, I enjoyed the clips you shared of Bach's work. I especially enjoyed watching the conductor in the second one -- it's good to see people so passionate about what they're doing. I'll admit that while I enjoy a little classical music here and there, I get bored sitting through a whole symphony, so maybe I am jaded.

But speaking of interfaith-respect, something similar comes up in the musical world -- i.e. I've heard that classical musicians sometimes don't see other music forms as real music. And then there's the reverse snobbery of the "jaded" folks saying classical music "puts them to sleep." I think it's time for more inter-music appreciation. My husband's pretty good at that, he plays all kinds -- though I guess it's pretty much all rock, LOL.

Huston Smith sounds interesting -- how neat that he spent a decade each practicing Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam -- while remaining a Christian all throughout. As far as him lacking emotional depth, I wouldn't know never having read his work -- but I rather liked the description he gave of his wife, which the author of the review called "terse" -- "I'll keep it simple. I met, I marveled, I married." Would I like to know more? Sure, I always want to know more -- but I understand that some people really like to keep their private lives private.

Dolores Lear

"The age of reason:part 1;" by Thomas Paine. 1794.

"I believe in one God, and no more,-. - I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, or by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of.

My own mind is my own church, - churches appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise;-. But it is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.

It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief , - that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.

The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mohammed, as if they way of God was not open to every man alike.

Each of those churches show certain books which they call "revelation" or the word of God. It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing.

Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication - after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was in revelation make to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it.

It cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner, for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him."

Or in my case a Revelation to 'her', with a High Tech Science explanation of past supernatural religions and myth. My family's word, friends and others I contact, is that that something happened to me also, but not God.

Some people still do not think the USA put a man on the moon. So what do Humans actually believe as Truth? What we were taught as a Child, as Truth to our parent, who were taught by their parents?

When some cannot accept Parent Truth as an Adult, they change Churches, or become Atheists.



From yesterday -- adamh about your comparison between Biblical law and American law: yes, I've previously heard you or Will talking about the difference in quantity -- the Jews lived under 600 laws whereas we live under 6000 -- but, seriously, don't you think we are freer with our 6000 laws than they were with their 600?

I'll admit that I know next to nothing about owning your own business -- so I'm sure some of this stuff can get tricky. It was probably easier to start a business in ancient times (for people with the financial means to start a business) -- and profit margins were probably wider because of slave labor. But don't you think it's better now that virtually ANYONE who really wants to put in the hard work and long hours, CAN have a go at starting their own business? Whereas back then, I imagine many people (such as slaves) simply never had that option.

adamh, you and Will have brought up the "600 Biblical laws versus 6000 American laws" enough times, that I would seriously like to know if you are saying you would prefer life in that society over life here?! I know you don't like our easy divorce laws -- but did you know that it was pretty easy back then for a Jewish man to divorce his wife? The only person who didn't have an out was the woman!

I have often wondered, Will and adamh, if you guys share the vision of the Coalition on Revival? Would you like to see America's secular government replaced with a conservative Christian theocracy?

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Bible Study - Atheists attend a Church Bible Study. Next Monday 7 p.m. - e-mail iggykc@gmail.com for instructions.

Any Christian who would like to invite us to their Bible study please contact us or post here on the blog.

Any Christian is invited to ANY freethinking events around Kansas City - http://www.KCFreeThinkers.org/calendar.htm

Any Christian who would like to find a Bible study in another church please, let us know.


Member, glad you're interested in attending a Bible study. Faith comes from hearing the word, so I'm glad you are reading the Bible quotes on Bill's blog. Perhaps it does have some value, after all.

Will Graham

To answer your question, Susan, no I don't think we are more free than the Jews were.

First, they were in a different situation, and yet, even with our superior technology, we have more people in prison than any nation on earth, and these are SECULAR LAWS that are getting people in trouble.


Although you don't run a business, but stay at home, you have recognized some of the problems in that area.

And, surely, Susan, you must recognize that with all the laws regulating schooling, you could lose your kids and even your freedom if there were any serious problems?

And you consider yourself free?

You apparently don't get out much.

Will Graham

Iggy, we aren't going to play your "find the bible study game" again, where you send emails saying to be there at 5:30, then send an email saying your daughter has problem and postponing, and then saying that you can make the meeting, and then bellyaching when you say we can't make it.

(anyone wanting proof, email Jeremy7@nycmail.com




Will, the blog post you linked to in your first post today, implying that religious people tend to be neurologically-typical, whereas Atheists are more likely to be atypical, was kind of interesting. Of course, not being Atheist or a collaberator (I wonder who THAT person is?), I can't know how it comes across to them -- but it probably does stand to reason that people who like to think outside the box are probably not typical. I suppose fundamentalists of any religion or philosophy (including Atheism) are more likely to be neurologically-typical (or more inside-the-box thinkers).

But fundamentalist people are not necessarily any more safe or law-abiding than those outside the box, judging by some article I recently read about a mother who allegedly killed her children in her attempts to get the demons out of them (of course, that's just one variety of religious fundamentalism). And of course the Communistic fundies have killed a whole lot of people for not believing like them, so did the Crusaders ... and then there's the Christian anti-Judaism that helped make the Holocaust possible.

So I wouldn't necessarily say that fundamentalist, or neurologically-typical, folks are saner than those who are atypical. It sounds like we all just need to appreciate and listen to one another, and draw upon one another's strengths and differing perspectives. If we listened to each other more, maybe this would bring more balance, and more of a big-picture perspective, into each of our lives.

As to Sam Harris and his concerns about Francis Collins -- on the one hand it seems so backward to say that someone's faith should have a bearing on their appointment to public office. On the other hand, haven't some Christians historically thought this about Atheists? Is Harris's concern legitimate, when he worries about Collins's belief that God inserted some things into the human brain such that our brains are not totally evolved -- specifically, might this belief affect Collins's willingness to support disciplines like neurological research? Has anyone asked Collins about this?


Will, it's possible you may get out more than I do -- but you seem to be forgetting that for a woman, that "simple" Jewish law was a whole lot more likely to be deadly.

I could remain chaste 'til my wedding night -- but if I didn't happen to be a "bleeder," it would be curtains for me. And my husband could write me out a certificate of divorce at a moment's notice for any reason (yet you gripe about OUR easy divorce laws!) -- but there was no out for a woman in a bad marriage. I'm not making fun of the Jews here: I'm pointing out that ancient attitudes were rather male-oriented.

Will, have I somehow given you the impression that I am not following the homeschooling laws in my state? I am actually doing everything within the law: I am just enjoying the fact that I live in a state with very little homeschooling regulation, and I do not welcome the thought of everything becoming more uniform here, as seems to be happening in Britain. In America, homeschooling laws vary from state to state, and those of us who live in easier states naturally want to keep it that way.


Will/adamh, maybe you've already noticed my other question but just don't care to answer it -- but I thought I'd ask again just in case it slipped your mind because of all the other discussion.

When you say you don't think our secularly-governed society is more free than the theocratically-governed society of the ancient Israelites, are you saying that you'd prefer a theocracy over a secular government? Specifically, would you favor a conservative Christian theocracy like what's being promoted by the Coalition on Revival which I linked to above?

Will Graham

Susan, whats your problem with Jewish divorce laws? Our own secular no fault laws have led to a fifty per cent divorce rate and left a lot of women out in the cold...that is why we have the massive increase in single mothers.

Why don't you complain about the Secular State that has set up that fiasco?

And you are certainly aware that Jesus explained WHY such divorce was allowed...out the hardness of people hearts. But he also clearly explained that it was not intended to be that way.

Assuming, of course, Susan, that you think we have any of the words of Jesus...I see you have not answered that question.

Oddly, though, Cole did, with his usual half baked uninformed "scholarship"; heck, Cole even claims he didn't exist.

So, I will refer Cole to his favorite source, Wikipedia, which makes it clear that mainstream scholarship...and that does not mean the latest atheist web site or rant by the little Russian immigrant...does not agree with him.

Of course, he can analyze it any way he wants! (That way he can ALWAYS BE RIGHT...IN HIS OWN MIND!) LOL!


Dolores Lear

The age of reason: part 1, by Thomas Paine.

I was never led to this book, written in 1794. It is fantastic.

"It is not difficult to account for the credit that was given to the story of Jesus Christ being the son of God. He was born when the heathen mythology still had some fashion and repute in the world. - Almost all the extraordinary men that lived under the heathen mythology were reputed to be the sons of some of their gods.

It was not a new thing at that time, to believe a man to have been celestially begotten; the intercourse of gods with women was then a matter of familiar opinion. (Jupiter cohabited with hundreds)

The Jews who had kept strictly to the belief of one God, and no more, and who had always rejected the heathen mythology, never credited the story. It is curious to observe how the theory of what is called the Christian church sprung out of the tail of the heathen mythology. - "

The Jewish Christians were in Rome for 300 years, when the Roman Trinity Religion became the Catholic Religion , combining both religions.

"Nothing that is here said can apply, to the real character of Jesus Christ. He was a virtuous and an amiable man. The morality that he preached and practiced was of the most benevolent kind, and though similar systems of morality had been preached by Confucius and some of the Greek philosophers many years before, by the Quakers since, and by many good men since in all ages, it has not been exceeded by any. -

Jesus Christ wrote no account o himself, of his birth, parentage, or anything else. - As to the account of his resurrection and ascension, it was the necessary counterpart to the story of his birth. His historians, having brought him into the world in a supernatural manner, were obliged to take him out again in the same manner, or the rest part of the story must have fallen to the ground. -

But the resurrection of a dead person from the grave, and his ascension through the air, is a thing very different as to the evidence it admits of, to the invisible conception of a child in the womb. - A thing which everybody is required to believe requires that the proof and evidence of it should be equal to all and universal; and as public visibility of this last related act was the only evidence that could give evidence that could give sanction to the former part. -.


Dolores Lear

The story, so far as relates to the supernatural part, has every mark of fraud and imposition stamped upon the face of it. - Thus far the ancient and the Christian mythologists differ very little from each other. ...Christian mythology is made up partly from ancient mythology and partly from the Jewish tradition.

I know this bold investigation will alarm many, but it would be paying too great a compliment to their credulity to forbear it on their account, the times and the subject demand it to be done.

The suspicion that the theory of what is called the Christian church is fabulous is becoming very extensive in all countries; and it will be a consolation to men staggering under that suspicion, and doubting what to believe and what to disbelieve, to see the object freely investigated. I therefore pass on the examination of the books called the Old and New Testament.

Those books, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation (which, by the by, is a book of riddles that requires a Revelation to explain it), are, we are told, the Word of God.

It is, therefore, proper for us to know who told us so, that we may know what credit to give the report. The answer to this question is that nobody can tell, except that we tell one another so. -

When the church mythologists established their system, they collected all the writings they could find and managed them as they pleased. - Be this as it may, they decided by 'vote' which of the books out of the collection they had made should be the 'word of God', and which should not. - Who the people were that did all this we know nothing of, they called themselves by the general name of the Church, and this is all we know of the matter. -

Revelation, therefore cannot be applied to anything done upon earth, of which man himself is the actor or the witness; and, consequently, all the historical and anecdotal parts of the Bible, which is almost the whole of it, is not within the meaning and compass of the word "revelation', and, therefore, is not the word of God. -

How different is this to the pure and simple profession of Deism! The true deist has but one deity, and his religion consists in contemplating the power, wisdom and benignity the Deity in his works, and in endeavoring to imitate him in everything moral, scientific and mechanical."

How I wish Thomas Paine was here on Bill's Blog, with our High Tech Science 'supernatural' Knowledge today, to use with Scriptures and Myth.

Red Biddy

Thank you Bill for your tribute to the great JSB. The St. Matthew Passion excerpt was super! Not sure if the Mass in B minor is quite on a par with the magnificent Passion. I wish the churches would do the Christmas Oratorio more often instead of Handel's Messiah. Here's a stunning excerpt from it......sung by the great Bernada Fink.


Sorry, Susan that you find it difficult to sit through a symphony. I don't think you'll find this difficult to sit through. Well I hope not anyway !


Hi Will, I'm fairly new to this blog. I was curious which God you subscribe to? Are you a Christian? You mentioned in a previous blog a whole list of people, beliefs, political, or economic systems that God won out on. Which God won?...Christian, Jewish, Islamist, Hindu, Mormon, Southern Baptist, etc ? Just trying to get a handle on your specific beliefs.

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org


You did not have a problem with my explanation that my daughter needed to be picked up? Wide such mood swings? Are you a mentally stable individual? Do you have a mental illness? This would explain all your behavior and problems then - even god cannot help you win anything.

Here is what you wrote below... No indication that you were angry - you were in fact "understanding" of my daughter's situation.

So, why such mood swings? If you are mentally handicapped, it would be nice for us to know.

Jeremy whoever
to "KCFreeThinkers.org"
date Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 6:31 PM
subject Re: Bible Study tonight 6 p.m.

Sorry I missed it little buddy! Would have loved to see you in a Burka, but after the previous message thought you were postponing until next week! Glad your daughter is OK.

Will Graham

Dear cub;

Before asking me to field a series of questions, perhaps the polite thing to do would be to introduce yourself.

After all, I can't see why you would want a "handle" on my specific beliefs since you have mentioned none of yours while you could, if you wanted to take the time, ready many of my posts.

So, thanks in advance for your co operation!

Will Graham

Mood Swings? Hardly. Just the belated realization that you are playing a game with this "find the bible study" jive.

Either say where it is, or forget it.

By the way, since you have published our e mail without asking, there will BE NO FURTHER COMMUNICATION BY EMAIL WITH YOU.

You may call, or post here where the bible study is.

Those are the terms.


Dear Mr. Graham,
You're absolutely right. I should have introduced myself and I apologize. My name is Chris and I guess I'm not very religious but I believe in a higher power and am searching for more. I'm sorry if I came across in a bad way. It's just that I have been struggling with the fact that some believers have a different definition of the nature of God. You seem to be very in touch with God and a great example of Christ's love and I just wanted your opinion. I was hoping you could help me find the answers. Again I'm sorry for upsetting you.

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