Bach to the future: 7-28-09
In a motto we trust? 7-30-09

Fair and faithful trade: 7-29-09

I can't remember exactly when I became aware of The Ten Thousand Villages, which describes itself as "one of the world's largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the International Fair Trade Association."

TenThousandVillages

But in recent years I've bought several gifts at one or another of the organization's stores and have felt good about the fact that the people who produced whatever it was were fairly paid and treated well.

This past Sunday, Linda Zemke, the manager of the Ten Thousand Villages store in our area -- it's located at 7947 Santa Fe Drive in downtown old Overland Park -- spoke to an adult class at my church and described the work the international agency does and why Christians should care about it.

The history of Ten Thousands Villages is interesting, extending back to 1946 and marking the beginning of the global fair trade movement. The agency today is, in effect, a ministry of the Mennonite Central Committee, which does fabulous work all over the world.

Linda said that the agency pays the artisans who produce the products 50 percent up front, before the products are delivered, and 50 percent when they reach the port from which they will be shipped to the U.S. That allows the producers to buy the raw materials they need to produce the products and it doesn't require them to wait to receive the rest of their money until the products are sold by the stores.

She said that women make up about 75 or 80 percent of the workers who produce products sold at The Ten Thousands Villages.

The Bible used by Jews and the one used by Christians emphasize the need to treat workers fairly and with dignity and the need to be honest in economic affairs. That's really what the fair trade movement seeks to do and why I think it's appropriate that communities of faith support its ideals.

* * *

TRAVOLTA'S NOT BOLTING

If you have been fretting about whether actor John Travolta would leave Scientology, fret no more. This report says he's not disenchanted with it and will stay. And if you have been fretting about that, why?

Comments

Will Graham

Susan, I have never heard of the Coaltion you mentioned. As to theocracy, Jesus already answered that question; "Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and give unto God that which is God's".

You believe Jesus said that, don't you Susan?

And as to "the Law", Jesus has fulfilled it.

But my point about the constant ridicule...not criticism...ridicule of the Jewish laws, as if the 6,000 some we live under (including many that call for the death penalty, long terms of imprisonment for what are essentially medical problems, and "no fault" divorce) don't have there own problems is based on hatred of Jews.

This is a common view among the New Atheists.

Will Graham

Why the New Atheists are Right Wing on Foreign Policy,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-wright/why-the-new-atheists-are_b_230448.html

Will Graham

I might add that the most amusing thing about Sam Harris is that the thinks he can get away with saying the most hateful vicious things about beleivers, and then all he has to say is, "you misunderstand me".

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

It appears that the majority of folks at Kiva.org (a non profit site that makes micro loans in the developing world) are also women.

I've been a member for some time, your money can be constantly reinvested when it is repaid in installments by the individual or a group of craftsmen, business people, etc.

There is an Atheist group on Kiva.org that is beating Christians and has been for months now and it looks like they ahve taken a firm lead in the $ amount. An interesting tidbit - atheists are twice as many as Christians, so the amount of loans in $ is smaller per member. Almost 5,000 atheists did 25,000 loans (5 loans on average per person) for the total of $755,000 and 2,300 Christians did 17,000 loans (7 loans) for the total of $518,000.

This to me is a pretty interesting tid bit, these have to be the most "liberal" Christians who are donating and most likely a lower % of them goes to church and donates there.

Sometimes I wonder if all churches would call on their members to not donate for 1 month or 1 year and instead to organizations like Kiva.org - what would happen?

Would the churches fold down after peple realize you don't have to feed the troll of god through the church?

Will they get another level of satisfaction? Will they stop going to church?

Will the world become a better place?

Maybe the minister and his wife find another job where they will make more money or start a business and also dozens of people in a large church? They can further donate to good causes in the name of the Lord or the Pink Unicorn for all I care.

Christians, Think! It will do your Brain and the World a World of Good!

Stop telling and retelling "Three Little Piggies" story when you want to order a pork chop.

Will Graham

Frank Schaeffer on Atheist Morality:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/do-atheists-borrow-religi_b_239239.html

Dolores Lear

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

"The three persons whose names are the most universally recorded were of very obscure parentage. Moses was a foundling; Jesus Christ was born in a stable; and Mohammed was a mule driver. ... these men were founders of different systems of religion; but Jesus Christ founded no new system. -

The manner in which he was apprehended shows that he was not much known at that time; ...the meetings he then held with his followers were in secret; and that he had given over or suspended preaching publicly. -

All the other parts of the New Testament, except the book Revelations, are a collection of letters under the name of epistles, and the forgery of letters has been such a common practice, that the probability is at least equal whether they are genuine or forged. -

The invention of purgatory and of the releasing of souls therefrom by prayers bought of the church with money; the selling of pardons, dispensations, and indulgences are revenue laws,. -

(Church) That she could fabricate writings - the writings in question is of that kind that anybody might do it; and that she did fabricate them is not more inconsistent with probability than that she could tell us, as she has done, that she could and did work miracles.

Since then no external evidence can, at this long distance of time, be produced to prove whether the Church abdicated the doctrine called redemption or not (for such evidence, whether for or against, would be subject to the same suspicion of being fabricated). -

But how was Jesus Christ to make anything known to all nations? He could speak but one language, which was Hebrew, and there are in the world several hundred languages. Scarcely any two nations speak the same language or understand each other; and as to translations, every man who knows anything of languages knows that it is impossible to translate from one language into another, not only without losing a great part of the original, but frequently mistaking the sense; and besides all this, the art of printing was wholly unknown at the time Christ lived."

Continued.

Dolores Lear

Continue.

"It is only in the 'Creation' that all our ideas and conceptions of a 'word of God' can unite. - and this 'word of God' reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God. -

The only idea man can affix to the name of God is that of a 'first cause', the cause of all things. And incomprehensible and difficult as it is for a man to conceive what a first cause is, he arrives at the belief of it from the tenfold greater difficulty of disbelieving it.

It is difficult beyond description to conceive that space can have no end; but it is more difficult to conceive an end. It is difficult beyond the power of man to conceive an eternal duration of what we call time; but it is more impossible to conceive a time when there shall be no time. -

What more does man want to know than that the hand or power that made these things is divine, is omnipotent? Let him believe this with the force it is impossible to repel, if he permits his reason to act, and his rule of moral life will follow. -

As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of atheism - a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God.

It is a compound made up chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as near to atheism as twilight is to darkness.

It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious, or an irreligious eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade. -

It is a a fraud of the Christian system to call the science "human invention"; it is only the application of them that is human. Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed. Man cannot make principles, he can only discover them. -

It is the structure of the universe that has taught this Knowledge to man. That structure is an ever-existing exhibition of every principle upon which every part of mathematical science is founded."

Continue.

Dolores Lear

Continued.

"It is from the study of the true theology that all or knowledge of science is derived, and it is from that knowledge that all the arts have originated. -

As there is now nothing new to be learned from the dead languages, all the useful books being already translated, the languages are become useless, and the time expended in teaching and learning them is wasted. -

So far as the study of languages may contribute to the progress and communication of knowledge it is only in the living languages that new knowledge is to be found; .and certain it is that, in general, a youth will learn more of a living language in one year than a dead language in seven. -

...it would therefore be advantageous to the state of learning to abolish the study of the dead languages and to make learning consist, as it originally did, in scientific knowledge. -

,,,it is certain that what is called the Christian system of faith, including in it the whimsical account of the creation - the strange story of eve - the snake and the apple - the ambiguous idea of a man-god - the corporeal idea of the death of a god - the mythological ideas of a family of gods, and the Christian system of arithmetic that three are one, and one is three, are all irreconcilable, not only to the divine gift of reason that God has given to man, but to the knowledge that man gains of the power and the wisdom of God by the aid of the sciences and by studying the structure of the universe that God has made. -

They not only rejected the study of science out of the Christian schools, but they persecuted it, and it is only within about the last two centuries that the study has been revived. -

...it is true that the age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system. There was more knowledge in the world before that period than for many centuries afterward; and, as to religious knowledge, the Christian system, as already said, was only another species of mythology, and the mythology to which it succeeded was a corruption of an ancient system of theism. -

The event that served more than any other to break the first link in this long chain of despotic ignorance is that known by the name of the Reformation by Luther. From that time, though it does not appear to have made any part of the intention of Luther or of those who are called reformers, the sciences began to revive..."

Dolores Lear

Bill Referral:
"She said that women make up about 75 or 80 percent of the workers who produce products sold at The Ten Thousands Villages.
The Bible used by Jews and the one used by Christians emphasize the need to treat workers fairly and with dignity and the need to be honest in economic affairs. That's really what the fair trade movement seeks to do and why I think it's appropriate that communities of faith support its ideals."

How many corporations by Jews, Christians, etc., began with humble beginnings like this? Walmart is an example, and is usually the Company with the most profits.

The clothing industry started out with women grouped together on sewing machines, and many unequal problems developed.

So hope this movement for women keeps some Equality as it grows. The Human Physic of Trickle Down Economics does not work for the poor workers.

With the Human Lifestyle of Greed, Inequality, and Inhumanity, in the Past, what are the prospects for this new Business movement to become a Big Time Business? 100 %?

Life is what Humans make it, and we have a Planet full of Disappointed Humans, with Capitalism and Greed, instead of Holding All Things In Common, and Sharing Equally of the Resources like Jesus taught.

So what is the Future of our Home Planet covered with Toxic Pollution and Nuclear Bombs on land and sea? Life or Death of our Home Planet, from a Divided instead of United Family of Humans?

Life on a Planet is what the Human Species make of it. Caretakers or Killers. Life or Death.

adam harrison

Hey Iggy, where is that ATHEIST RELIEF FUND YOU WERE GOING TO SET UP!

Remember the post cards you were going send to disaster areas telling people the atheists were going to help?

How did that work out?

Susan

LOL, Dolores, I do believe you're trying to get us all to read "The Age of Reason" through your blog posts! Is this book so old that it's "common domain" now -- or is it still subject to copyright laws? Oh, well, I'm sure Bill knows more about this than me and since he's putting the posts through, it must be legal.

Dolores, it's interesting that you compare fair trade companies to places like Walmart. I'm ashamed to say that we shop at Walmart a lot. I love the idea of fair trade companies, though: the main difference between them and Walmart is that fair trade companies charge shoppers a price that enables them to pay the people producing the goods a fair wage.

The sad thing is that we don't currently feel we can afford to pay a fair price for all our stuff. But maybe we don't need all the stuff, huh?

Places like Walmart ... well ... they provide lots of entry-level jobs for Americans as well as cheap prices for shoppers, and they do this through producing as cheaply as possible using Third World labor. One of my friends was in a bad marriage and hadn't worked for a few years -- and when she had worked it had been basically minimum wage: working at Walmart, she makes a bit more than minimum, and has been able to move into her own place with her kids.

Here's a link to a video that explains it better than I can (about Walmart, not about my friend) --

http://sendables.jibjab.com/originals/big_box_mart

Susan

Bill, I'd totally missed the news of Jett Travolta's death, and I'm very sorry to hear about it!

Red Biddy, from yesterday, yes I enjoyed your Bach link, or at least as much of it as my 4yo would let me listen to! It is very interesting watching all the people involved in these performances. As a matter of fact, it reminds me of that old sit-com, a Mary Tyler Moore spinoff (was it called "Phyllis?") where Phyllis is having a heart-to-heart with her daughter Beth? and learns Beth is an Atheist. And Phyllis takes Beth to the window and says something like, "Look at all that! Now how can you not believe in God?!"

And Beth says something like, "Oh, you mean the beauty of nature?"

And Phyllis says something like, "No, Beth the CHURCHES! So many churches and so many people going every Sunday! How can all those people be wrong?" Well, to get to my point, even though I seem to be too jaded to be able to enjoy an entire symphony, I am nevertheless very impressed by all the gifted individuals who've devoted their entire lives to this kind of music. So I think there must be something more to it than what I've been able to get thus far.

Maybe what I feel is similar to what an Atheist feels watching believers worship?

Will or adamh -- in reference again to "making fun of Jews," I will repeat that I don't see ancient Jews as any more sexist, etcetera, than the other ancient cultures living around them in Biblical times. The reason I seem to be "picking on" them and not those of other cultures, is that I'm trying to explain why I no longer believe that the entire Bible, every jot and tittle, is the inspired Word of God. Wasn't the whole Bible written by Jews? With this in mind, it looks like there's no way I can explain myself without being accused by you of Jew-bashing. Oh well. (Continued)

Jim Christensen

To any "friends" of mine or others who continue to refer to me as the Master Debater, and Glorious Leader, I would respectfully requesst that you cease doing so. I would appreciate it if others would cease doing so also.

I received a call from Iggy today, and was quite suprised since he had previously told me he didn't want to discuss ANYTHING with me, although maybe he only meant privately.

At this point, I don't care. The ostensible reason he called, and in a borderline hostile way in my opinion but he can post the recording here if he chooses, is that some supposed "friends" of mine were texting him repeatedly. That this bothered him is odd, since he "texted" me EIGHT TIMES Monday night. And, of course, whether they were the ones who texted him, I don't know.

Fine. I have no problem with my number being out there, and discussing with any one when I have time but calling this guy about anything is pointless. He made it clear that he does not want discussion, and you shouldn't be suprised because has repeatedly stated on this board what his goals are.

My strong suggestion is to leave this guy alone. Let him show the world what atheism can do for it. He will accomplish far more in that regard than any of you can.

Susan

(Continued) At least now we have better safeguards in place to protect children in these situations -- i.e. tougher child-support laws. I think families that go through divorce still feel left out in the cold -- but laws are now in place that help ensure a better standard of living for the children caught in the middle.

I, like Will and adamh (and I think most people), would like to see more children getting to grow up with both parents in the home, ideally with both parents in love treating one another well, and with both actively involved in their children's lives.

My views on how to work for this are somewhat similar to my views on the best ways to reduce abortion: education and support. It's better for people to stay married because they WANT to stay married, than because they feel "stuck."

I've heard some say they'd like to pull away the supports that are there for single mothers, because that would force some women to stay in their marriages, who might otherwise be tempted to avail themselves of the "bounties" of the welfare system. I think these people can't be serious, or else they're awfully naive.

I don't want to over-generalize here, because maybe some women really ARE dumping "honest Joe's" in order to avail themselves of social programs -- I just think that's the extreme exception and not the rule. I think in most cases things have to be pretty bad for a woman to see welfare as a step-up (but I'm not bashing any men who've been thrown over for welfare, and of course I realize it usually takes two to tangle).

Jim Christensen

That done, I don't want to give the impression that I don't enjoy debating with atheists. I have been to the Community of Reason many times, and there are some very insightful people there, especially Professor Webb, Kurt, Theo, and others. I always enjoy chatting with them.

Also had a chance a while back to sit down and talk to Chuck Lunney, who is a class act and would be formidable competition in any debate.

I just say this because I don't want to discourage anyone from continuing dicussion with me.

But I won't back down from my postion that Atheism is Irrational, in the sense that it is non falsifiable, even though atheists commonly try to assert that they rely on the scientific method. As many of you know, falsifiability is a component of the true utilization of the scientific method; Einstein for example proposed several ways in which his theory could be falsified.

But, I submit, atheism, given a presupposition that all existence can be explained by mindless processes, can never be falsified, even in principle.

Those who don't undertand the Scientific Method might think that is a good thing, but the reverse is true. It means your position is in no sense scientific.

In fact, I challenge ANY atheist to propose a way, at least in principle if not in practice, that Atheism could be falsified.

Jim Christensen

I couldn't help but notice that one poster thinks that there are better safe guards in place to protect children in these situations, I assume they mean the massive divorce rate, but those of us who are really familiar with this area know that is illusory.

The children ALWAYS suffer in divorce.

Tougher child support laws? Perhaps, but that can only do so much, they often can be counter productive. One poster has remarked that there are some 6,000 laws governing our lives, but that is way under the mark, it is more like 10,000 when you throw in IRS regualtions, OSHA, Work Comp, and the rest. And even in those areas the odds are often against the worker.

Our secular society has much to answer for.

That does not imply theocracy, and as was pointed out in the first post Jesus already disposed of that option, but lets quit pretending that Secular is always Superior.

Dolores Lear

Susan:
LOL, Dolores, I do believe you're trying to get us all to read "The Age of Reason" through your blog posts!

:) I am just passed out on this book, that sounds like comments on Bill's Blog today, and this was written in 1794. Although I think he was bashing Roman Catholics instead of Jews.

I do not remember who suggested it, but I think it was on Bill's Blog. My library did not have it, and they went out of system to get it from St. Thomas Seminary Library in Denver Colorado.

I have about decided I am a Celibate Deist, but not connected with any Religious Denomination. I have not been able to put myself in any slot since Missouri Synod Lutheran Christian.

I do accept there is a Force not Human that made the Universes and all Life. And I accept our High Tech Human Male and Female Clone Ancestors did Colonize Earth. Both of these are called the Generic God in Religion.

Also I hope this new business succeeds, but it has to really be exceptional or maybe there are enough people to support it, as well as Walmart.

Walmart and Kmart are my stores. With Walmart's profit margin, I do not Know why they do not pay better.

But that goes for many businesses like the ones that gives million dollar bonus' to top level employees. It does not make sense to me nor how Jesus taught, and many of these people are Christians, Jews or Muslims, that also accept the same One God, even if the Christian One is Three Persons.

Why our Society has billionaires is beyond me, except it is because of Unequal Body Birth, and Environment.

I hope on my next Body Birth rebirth, Earth will have Equal High Tech Birth and Equal Environment for All Humans on Planets and in Spaceships, like God/Us in Genesis, that came to Planet Earth from Space.

I accept this is is the Truth of Genesis and Jesus, who is also with God/Us in their Spaceships or on their Home Planet.

Red Biddy

Susan,
I can see that, in the minds of some, Bible bashing can also be construed as Jew bashing as the Bible appears to have been solely written by Jews. Since the Holocaust, anti-semitism has been a very delicate subject to discuss, as it demonstrated what horrific results can happen when one particular group of people are picked on for either racial or religious reasons. In the case of the Jews it was both !

There are plenty of reasons to make fun of Jews, as there is of making fun of anyone, believing in any religion ! But anti-semitism has become a crime because it has resulted in such horrendous results, so one has to be careful.
To make fun of the religion, but not of the people who believe in it, is perhaps a better course of action.

I find the idea of Jews now being able to Twitter their prayers directly to the Wailing Wall absolutely hilarious !! Thank you Bill for pointing that little item of info on your blog the other day ! Did anyone else who checks out this page, find that as funny as I did ? Or were you too polite to comment on it ? Was this piece of information considered anti-semitic? I don't think so !

As for seeing Jews as no more sexist than other cultures of Biblical times, as Susan has pointed out - she is absolutely right. Unfortunately, those of us in the know (2 Jewish husbands !) are aware that the morning prayer of a seriously Orthodox Jew (which my husbands were certainly not, or they wouldn't have married a shiksah (non Jew) - but they both told me about it with great gusto and humour!) contains the words: "Thank you Lord for not making me a woman." Now why would a man not want to be a woman unless women were considered an unfortunate gender to belong to ?

As for 600 Jewish rules of behaviour versus 6000 secular laws we now live under (who on earth worked those figures out ?!) surely we are living in a far more complicated world than the ignorant nomadic Israelites who only had their wives and goats to worry about.

adam harrison

Wow JC! I can't believe you are caving in to these peopole. Thats all we need. More collaborators.

You know what, I don't even think you made that post. Doesn't sound like you at all.

Susan

Hi, Jim, it's good to hear from you!

I think I am the one you were referring to, talking about the safeguards we now have in place for the children when divorce happens. Did I somehow give the impression that these safeguards prevent children from being hurt by divorce? I thought I'd made it quite clear that that I think divorce is devastating to women, men, and especially to children -- but now I see that post seems to have got lost somehow. Oh, well.

I just think the safeguards are a definite improvement, because it wasn't so very long ago in American history that many men were able to just walk out on their families, start new lives, and never pay a dime. Child support, and visitation with the non-custodial parent, is certainly a poor second to having both parents in the home, pouring out their love on their children and on one another.

I guess from my vantage-point, I see some women in very bad situations, married to men who are verbally or physically abusive, and/or substance-abusers. I live in a lower-income part of the city -- though of course I'm not saying these situations don't occur in middle or upper class families. It just seems more obvious here. And of course some women do these things, too -- men just seem more likely to be the perpetrators in domestic violence cases, and also in substance abuse cases.

I've been greatly saddened to see a couple of different women temporarily getting empowered enough to call the police on their abusive husbands, and kick them out and get restraining orders -- only to have their husbands beg them to accompany them to Christian counseling, wherein the counselor or pastor advised them that the first thing they needed to do was drop the restraining order and all charges, and resume living with their husbands as husband and wife, so they could work on the abuse problems together --

Which advice of course enables the abuser to keep blaming his co-dependent wife, who is usually all-to-willing to accept the blame, so the cycle continues ...

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

I'd like to post a couple of texts that Will Graham texted me yesterday that prompted my call to James Christensen.

I have repeatedly told Will by text to stop texting me yet he persisted. This "delusional" behavior based on "Christian" love had to stop and a call to James Christensen (the proclaimed "glorious leader" and "master debater" of the minions) was forthcoming as his number was on many occasions posted by Will/Adamh

So, here are some texts from Will Graham to me (edited for spelling and clarity) - others made absolutely no sense.

At first it was "Julie" who texted me and then wehn I told her I never gave her this number and only to "adamh/will" "Will" started texting.

* Are you gay?
* Is that all you want to taste, old man, you ought to start an atheist branch of perverts anonymous
* I like testing pervs
* Ok, pervert, we will use other numbers (for you)
* Oh, my god, you leave my (girlfriend alone)
* She thinks you maybe a pervert, prove you are not
* My girlfriend asked about the study and you got weird, so she will not meet you alone

Dear Christians, I present to you "Christianity" at its best - this is what happens when Christian love is spread around by crazies. I actually suspect that this person (Will) is mentally disbalanced individual, in denial of his mental problems.

His religious beliefs are futher feeding his way of thinking. This would explain that he's been trolling the Net for past 3-4 years non stop at ethics, science, atheists blogs where he has been banned repeatedly.

This happened shortly after or about the time when James Christensen was banned from "Kansas Citizens for Science" blog.

Christians, Think! Recognize the demons inside your brains and learn to control them. This will do your brain and the world a whole world of good.

Stop telling and retelling "Three Little Piggies" story when you want to order a pork chop.

Jim Christensen

Susan, I wanted to follow up on your comments with a brief post. I won't actually be posting here much because I don't find blogs that useful and have many projects going, but since my name was being thrown around here so much both by "friends" and opponents, I thought "what the heck"!

Your comments are well taken, but I think, from the perspective of being involved in over 150 domestic cases, that the laws "safeguarding" children look a lot better on paper than they are in reality, and from both sides of the courtroom. There is definitely more divorce now than at any time in American history.

But rest aasured that that the situations you describe occur just as much in middle and upper income families as in lower income families. No doubt about it, but of course I am not free to go into details.

Although looking at your posts I think we would have a number of philosophical disagreements, I think your measured tones and attempt to bring parties together is a welcome counterweight to some of the other extremes, from both sides but, frankly, very noticeably from the atheist side, that we find here.

Keep it up. I will try to drop in from time to time.

adam harrison

Iggy, you offer no proof whatsover that Will said those things. In fact, coming from the guy who thinks "Christian brains are delicious" and who likes to say he wants to taste Christian brains, I wonder what kinds of things you said that would have prompted anyone to make those remarks.

I mean, what would he have meant by "Is that all you want to taste"?

And why, if he texted you, did his girlfriend think you "got weird"?

And, for that matter, what did you text him in the first place?!?

I have had it with this crap. JC is right, you need to be ignored. There are actually some intelligent atheists as he pointed out, but you ain't one of em, sport.

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