Comic 26 - 1.2.26

16th Feb 2018, 1:44 PM in Book 1: End Zone, Canto 2
Average Rating: 5 (3 votes)
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Author Notes:

Cliff Hansen 16th Feb 2018, 1:44 PM edit delete
Sorry there is just waaaay too much text on this page, but I couldn't find a good pagination point. Hope you can follow my speech bubble track without too much trouble.

For record's sake, the story of Thomas' ancestors actually happened to my own. After the fire, Smith blessed their infant child and thanked them for having faith in him. This appeared to strengthen their faith in Smith, rather than lessen it, and they were close enough to him when he died that they actually heard the shot. I wonder what they would make now of me :-)


Dragonrider 16th Feb 2018, 5:01 PM edit delete reply
Question, went did the morons errrr Mormons start having black missionaries? Last I heard their cult didn't recognize black people as having souls capable of saving. Please tell me the Civil Rights Act actually got one group of white supremacists to change.
Cliff Hansen 16th Feb 2018, 6:22 PM edit delete reply
I had that same question when I was living in West Africa and encountered several African elders. (One, hilariously, was named Helder, with a silent "H", and I joked around that he was older, so Helder the Elder Elder...) Apparently, there was some new revelation to the church that said that now Black people could be Mormon. I've encountered so many Mormons abroad too, it's incredible.
...(RockB) 16th Feb 2018, 6:07 PM edit delete reply
And this Thomas "now relies on his personality getting changed" or so? That would be a loss, methinks.

(Want to know the thing that finally made me an atheist? I discovered it reading the bible which was suggested by a former colleague who was (and still may be) very religious.)
Cliff Hansen 16th Feb 2018, 6:50 PM edit delete reply
A lot of people, particularly creative people, are afraid that medication fundamentally changes who they are. Thankfully this is not the case and when they are working right, actually allow us to express more of ourselves without the black clouds getting in the way.

I had a similar situation with becoming irreligious. I think there is no greater atheist factory than the Christian bible, maybe that's why so few Christians actually read it.
...(RockB) 20th Feb 2018, 1:54 AM edit delete reply
Oh, OK :) I have no experiences with such medications, only, a friend, who's wife is taking some, said that over time, it takes away bits of her personality.

> I think there is no greater atheist factory than the Christian bible, maybe that's why so few Christians actually read it.

That's so beautiful, I had to quote it.
I guess that finding the flaws by oneself has the strongest impact possible.
And from the personal impressions I got, not reading the bible (but being a Christian!!!!) is much more common than not.
On the other hand, I have been hanging around with Mormons for a few months and found them to be nice people. In one case it even seemed that the Mormon community seemed to help dealing with personal issues. (And that's the strange thing: Some people seem to need a religion to function better (or at all, regarding social life), be it superstition or fraud or whatever.)
Cliff Hansen 20th Feb 2018, 9:16 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, it is strange how some people think they need some sort of sacred book to be moral, when more often than not those books call for hideous commands.

I agree with the nice people comment. The mormons I have met have been exceedingly kind. I recently taught several and they were among my best students and so I hope it's clear that my issue is with their religion, not them personally. Most of the comments Thomas makes about the Mormon members of his family were actually true (or slightly modified) elements of my own family history. My ancestors were actually faced with a mob who burned down their house for refusing to renounce Smith, and they were a part of his original church. That is something that really fascinates me now.
...(RockB) 20th Feb 2018, 3:43 PM edit delete reply
That's fascinating, indeed. I'd be interested how and why you got out of the Church. If you want to share (I gladly take a PM if you don't want to tell openly).

The was one strange event... About at the same time I hung out with the mormons, I visited a Brasilian church (all of this in Germany). I noticed that the Brazilians, like the Mormons, had no cross in their church. So at one time I asked them if it was OK, got a "yes" and then invited 2 elders to join for once. Now the Brazilians always made quite a happy event, little preaching, much singing and some dancing. The elders sat in the last row, arms crossed, not moving at all, the whole time through. Whew :( I hadn't expected that and was sorry for them.
Cliff Hansen 20th Feb 2018, 6:17 PM edit delete reply
My exodus was long and drawn out and far later in life than I care to admit. Though I have been fascinated by science, I've always had a believing brain and took things like Santa Claus very seriously. So I was a fundamentalist Evangelical Christian of the Assemblies of God variety. (Same as Seth Andrews if you've ever listened to the Thinking Atheist podcast.) I think unlike a lot of people, I actually did believe. I took it very seriously and lived in Catholic-level shame which I think affected my mental health deeply. My father wasn't a believer, and I was terrified that he would go to hell and burn for all of eternity.

My actual exodus from the church came when there was a guest speaker talking about how women should be subservient to men. I looked around and there were people with their hands up saying "amen" but I was wondering what that bullshit was. I'd always known I was doing some cherrypicking with the bible, but that's when I really looked at it seriously, since the Bible was very clear: women are less than men and it's totally cool to own slaves. This did not jive with my understanding of morality, so I set out to solve the paradox.

There are a dozen other situations and anecdotes along the way in a multi-year journey, but the crux came when I was living in Africa with my buddy Miguel who was very much Catholic at the time and we would debate stuff frequently. In one debate, the blasphemy "There's no god" just slipped out of my mouth. It was like a release valve had been opened and suddenly I felt so much better, like I could finally be myself. (He too was on a journey which lead him to a similar state of understanding.)

In the next few years, I studied my ass off. You can kind of see that represented by the stack of books in Thomas' living room. I read everything there was to read on Life, the Universe, and Everything because I needed to be sure I was right. I learned about science, philosophy, mythology, history, the whole gamut. I started a lot of discussions with religious people to see if they could win an argument, but they could never offer me anything other than tired cliches and bad logic and eventually I became secure in my understanding and felt so much better about my place in the universe.

It was a long and crazy road, but now I'm more on a path toward reconciling how I can be a strong humanist in our modern world.
Miguel1982 20th Feb 2018, 2:36 PM edit delete reply
Man, I was rooting for Thomas the whole time. His use of Hitchen's razor was fantastic: that which can be claimed without evidence, can be dismissed without it. I too have encountered many Mormons in life, but really appreciate you weaving in a bit of your family history into your tale. I am glad Thomas' medication seems to be working well. Fully tax-payer funded access to regular medical (including mandated mental health check-ups for all), dental, and vision check-ups and follow up medications, procedures, etc. is a human right and government responsibility ala Hobbes and Rousseau's "social contracts". It makes me wonder if the mandatory health insurance that folks must pay for or be taxed for includes mental health also makes me wonder if medicare and medicaid offer this as well.
...(RockB) 20th Feb 2018, 3:52 PM edit delete reply
I'm German, we have a mandatory health insurance system. You can choose between a few, or if you're rich above a certain level, you can choose one of the "private" health insurances, they are cheaper (at a high level) but you have to pay all the medical bills out of your pocket first and get the money back later... Anyway, everybody must have some health insurance there are no taxes. And to finally answer the question, yes, mental health is also included.
Cliff Hansen 20th Feb 2018, 3:53 PM edit delete reply
Yes, I think mental health is very important and everyone should see a therapist from time to time, especially those of us with depression, ADHD, etc.
...(RockB) 21st Feb 2018, 2:24 PM edit delete reply
Thank you very much - interesting: Several things came together for you.

For me it was something shorter. I was never very religious in terms of visiting churches, but on the other hand, I took God very seriously and tried to follow the 10 commandments, even though I had some real difficulty with the book of Job since school times.

So, after my colleague suggested it, I started to read the bible, from the first page on. There was lots of stuff I didn't remember... to make it short, once I arrived at the 10 commandments, as they were given when the Israelites traveled through the desert. One says "Thou shalt not kill." But only a short time later the Israelites arrived at Jericho, and the Isralites were ordered to wipe out the whole tribe, babies and animals included - after giving the commandment "Thou shalt not kill"? So God ordered his chosen people to violate one of his commandments, in the worst way one could imagine? I was flabbergasted. After some thinking, I started to ask others. Most people seemed to not see the problem at all, no one had an answer to this contradiction. This led to conclusions: It is claimed that God is omnipotent and all-knowing, how could he not foresee that the Israelites would eventually have a clash with another tribe? No human "lawgiver" would have made such a mistake, they would have said "Thou shalt not kill, unless I, thy God, tell you to", but this commandment is not even "Thou shalt not kill your neighbor", thereby allowing to kill your enemies. So an all-knowing God should have made such a mistake, obviously being too stupid to imagine the possibility for exceptions? And that is supposed to be the creator of worlds and of us, the ones who are obviously smarter than him?

At that point it had become impossible for this god to exist.

With God gone, what was left of the Christian churches, all of them? At the end, 100% fraud. I developed a casual interest in history and came to the conclusion that very few of the ones in power, popes and other church leaders and founders included, really believed in God, most used him as a tool to gain and/or stay in power and for all other evil things they wanted to do. It's always power and money. The good deeds that are done in God's name are almost all done by "small" people.

That's about where I am now.

(Re: Slavery - back in the times of the bible it was apparently possible to "sell" yourself into temporary slavery, so I'd consider that somewhat alike a form of contract workers - we don't call it slavery these days, but all things considered, it's still here, to some extend :p)

Edit, 2010-02-22, 10:30am (MET): Had to correct some typos.
Cliff Hansen 21st Feb 2018, 9:39 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, the god of the gaps gets narrower and narrower for anyone paying attention.