The Good Friday Turtle stops by (while James Madison does a facepalm)

The yummy treats that the Good Friday Turtle (if he exists) might bring us next year!

Unlike Christmas and Easter, which unfortunately have become widely commercialized and somewhat secularized, Good Friday remains very unambiguously a religious holiday: specifically a Christian one. Very few people would claim that Good Friday is a secular holiday. There is no Good Friday Turtle that crawls around giving presents to good little girls and boys, no exchanging of Turtles chocolate and pecan candies, no TMNT marathons on TV, no playing of music from The Turtles (though “Happy Together” would make a nice holiday song!).

Although it’s nice to think about, no Virigina, there is no Good Friday Turtle. The only reason that someone would treat Good Friday differently than any other day is for religious reasons. It is a religious observance of the day that some guy named Jesus, who only some people believe was the son of their god, died on a cross before going to hell for a couple of days, after which he miraculously (magically) rose from the dead to go back to heaven. All this trouble just so daddy would agree to let some people up into heaven, while leaving the rest burn for all eternity.

Personally, and for the record, I like the Good Friday Turtle idea much better, but the Constitution says people have a right to believe that whole God-sent-his-son-to-be-tortured-to-death mumbo jumbo. The Constitution also tells us however that government cannot endorse one religion over another. So when the Shelby County Clerk in Tennessee reportedly closes on Good Friday, or the state of Wisconsin recognizes Good Friday as a holiday, these government entities certainly seem to be celebrating a Christian-only holiday.

So what’s the harm in these and other government agencies closing for Good Friday? What’s wrong with people having a day off or people having to wait until Monday to renew their licences? Giving this strictly religious holiday preferential treatment shows an official bias in favor of that religion (Christianity) over other religions or non-religion.

Despite what many religious folk claim, the founding fathers did not intend the US to be a Christian nation, unless you think the entire Constititional Convention did a collective facepalm once they realized they had accidentally left “The United States is a Christian nation” out of the Preamble. Doesn’t seem likely to me.

A photo of James Madison after realizing he and other founding fathers forgot to establish the United States as a Christian nation in the Constitution??

The country was intentionally founded with freedom of religion in mind. People may celebrate their religious holidays if they so please, but government is not and should not be involved. Holidays of other religions besides Christianity are generally not observed or usually even mentioned by government bodies, and this is the way it should be. An occasional nod to Jewish or Muslim holidays may occur, but they normally don’t shut down government just because some religion somewhere thinks a given day is important to their deity of choice. And that’s the way it should be.

Government agencies get around this issue for Christmas because it has now taken on a largely (if not predominately) non-religious life of its own. Few would dispute this fact, although many might justifiably object to it. The main objections to Christmas arise when government steps over the line and starts inserting Christian words and symbols into what has become a secular celebration. Easter has followed Christmas along the path to secularization to a lesser extent (with pagan and secular symbols such as the Easter Bunny, colored eggs, marshmallow Peeps); but since most government agencies are closed on weekends anyway, the issue of officially recognizing Easter by closing offices normally doesn’t come up.

But when government or government-funded agencies (schools, libraries, etc.) declare Good Friday to be a holiday and shut down in observance of that Holy Day, they are very clearly moving from secular celebration to religious observance. That’s something that government isn’t allowed to do. It wouldn’t be an honest argument to claim that Good Friday is just part of some sort of long weekend of a secularized Easter, since Christians obviously must separate Good Friday from Easter enough to want a separate day to observe it. Good Friday is clearly, in practice and by definition, a Christian-only holiday. One that most religions don’t recognize, and some people object to. I don’t want my government telling me or my fellow citizens (whether child or adult) that one religion’s primitive idea of human sacrifice to appease the gods is something to be respected and revered. And the Constitution has my back on this one. Religions can teach this, but governments can’t endorse it by saying Good Friday is a holiday.

Unless The Good Friday Turtle stops by Tennessee, Wisconsin, or elsewhere next year, bringing candies and presents for all, I expect government to drop Good Friday as a holiday and get back to the business of running the country, not promoting religion.

Source of Turtles image: and facepalm image:

Genesis 22 — If you love me, kill your son

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Real Love
By The Beatles
Real Love
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Genesis 22 — If you love me, kill your son

If you really love me, prove it by killing your son! That’s what God says to Abraham in this chapter.

God doesn’t make Abraham go through with it, though, so all’s well that ends well, right? There is so much wrong with this story that it’s hard to know what to say.

Let’s say God never intended for Abraham to kill his son, he just wanted to see if he would. To which I say, Doesn’t God know everything already? This is a perfect example of the sort of mind control that cults try to have over people, getting them to the point that they would do anything for you, including kill your own son.

Maybe God wanted to prove that Abraham would do anything for him. To which I say, why does God always have to prove how great he is? Did some other god give him an inferiority complex? Certainly he must already know how great he is, and such a great God could find a better way to prove it other than having his biggest fan almost sacrifice his son to him.

What about Isaac in all this? I would think it would be rather life-changingly scary to have your dad try to burn you alive. That’s the sort of abuse you don’t outgrow. It doesn’t say here how old Isaac was, but even if he was an adult, I think it is inexcusable torture to be tied up by your dad on an altar, knife in hand ready to kill you and burn you up.

I remember vaguely this story being taught to me as a kid, either in Sunday School or in church. Some explanation about showing that Abraham was willing to give up what mattered to him most. I think it is dangerous and sick that churches teach that this story is a model to look up to. No one should be willing to kill their son, or anyone else for that matter, just to prove how much you love someone. You shouldn’t have to prove love, not to God or anyone. That isn’t real love. Anyone who actually demands you do something to prove that you love them doesn’t deserve your love.

Here are a couple other reflections on this chapter:

* God makes a huge deal out of calling Isaac Abraham’s only son. What happened to Ishmael becoming a great nation? Why is he now completely disowned, and after worrying so much about him, Abraham seems not to care any more? Did God and Sarah wear him down? I guess if he’s willing to kill Isaac for crazy God, he’d be willing to forget his firstborn son as well.

* God has Abraham kill a ram instead of his son Isaac. What’s with the sheep? God could’ve just said that after all that almost killing your son stuff, you’ve done enough Abraham to prove you love me. But no, Abraham also has to sacrifice a ram. God loves the smell of burning sheep!

* The little ending about Nahor, whoever that is, includes a mention of a concubine. So God seems to be okay with having more than one sexual partner, since it’s not condemned here and I know even great kings later on have tons of concubines and wives.

Disowning your firstborn son, trying to commit a human sacrifice on your other son, having sex with whoever you want. True love, God style.