Ask Dr. Salvo
April 12, 1994
I notice that four different groups or people are demanding that The Harbinger become an irrational tool of the religious community. I think they might have succeeded!
In the book, The Unofficial Census, by Tom Heymann, Random House 1991, of 57,317 priests 28,659 have broken their vows of celibacy: 16,049 engage in heterosexual sex, 5,732 engage in homosexual sex, 3,439 engage in pedophilia, 2,866 engage in problematic masturbation and 573 practice transvestism. I know this kind of knowledge is harmful to the American Family Association; the truth usually is. They would not want it printed.
Dancing Rabbit has his own opinion concerning what the so-called Bible Truths are. He says that God did not kill Ananias and Sapphirs; they gave up the breath of life. Why didn't the Nazis use this defense in the war crimes trials. I can just hear it now, "We didn't kill any Jews in the so-called death camps, the Jew just gave up the breath of life because they weren't Christians." How about it Dancing Rabbit, do you want to rewrite history?
Ms. Gilchrist would have us believe that the Creator is to be confused with any of the bible gods. Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, Zeus, Bruce, Satan, and Thor were all created equally, by man, and should be respected accordingly. The Creator is a deity of Deism and is not to be confused with other deities. Nowhere in the Christian Bible is the "Good God" referred to as the "Creator." Calling any of the Christian Gods "the Creator" is the same as saying Jesus and Elvis is the same person. The Christian Bible describes the Antichrist and that description fits such heretics as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen, just to name a very few. It is common knowledge that the supernatural will cause his believers to murder, kill, cheat, pillage, rape, slaughter and practice other forms of religious worship. It shouldn't be surprising that they would be willing to steal the name of another god.
The Declaration of Independence names three gods: The Creator, Nature's God and Divine Providence. If the Founding Fathers had thought Jehovah, Jesus and the Holy Ghost were real gods, they would have been named instead of the three deities of Deism.
I note that Dr. Salvo spent three paragraphs proving that the Jewish scientist, Dr. Einstein, supported Christianity. If one has any knowledge of history, one knows that Dr. Einstein left the nation of Germany to escape the effects of the Christian religion. What Einstein really said was, "The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based upon it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheist..." (N.Y. Times, Nov. 9, 1930)
Dr. Salvo could also have gone to great lengths to prove that Edison was a born-again Christian genius. Edison said, "Religion is all bunk." Edison, Einstein, Jesse Bailey, Thomas Jefferson, Lincoln and others are not in the 85 percent that believe in the stupidnatural.
I know Irrational to be a typical Christian. He will tell any lie in order to promote his religious philosophy. He is also a coward. If Irrational actually believed the ilk he preaches, he would use his real name.
Rev. Hank Shiver
Dear Fear and Trembling,
Your figures are so formidable, and irrefutable, that I can only marvel at your artistry. With a few Arabic numbers and an ordinary forge bellows you have created a stupendous and continuous sexual orgy out of rather drab beginnings. Or should we bow to Tom Heymann? In doing so we should at least hint that he might do well to sift the school teachers, scoutmasters, and nannies through his formidable sieve. Sin is all about us, and having little atheistic sparrows chirping "All is well" will not reassure the thinking man -- who knows we are shipwrecked and need rescue!
As to Ms. Gilchrist, she writes with a simplicity you might study with profit. Your cogitative engine is overheated -- sometimes it produces turgid and terrified prose full of lists. Could you lighten up a little? as they say.
If it is true that Edison said "Religion is all bunk," it is also true that Henry Ford pronounced that history is bunk. In this fat young country monetary success and a talent for gadgets often elevate the ignorant to the status of sages and seers.
Be patient and the next letters will no doubt calm your doubts.
I read your last column with more than a touch of dismay. You were so eager to placate Quite (Ir)Rational that you portrayed Spinoza as a Christian and contaminated Einstein by association. This is a serious offense and I'm sure both men were set spinning in their graves. Both Spinoza and Einstein were Jewish and did not worship the three-headed God of the Christians. Spinoza said, "Philosophy has no end in view save truth; faith looks for nothing but obedience and piety." Einstein said, "I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil." Spinoza was a firm believer in political democracy as a reflection of reason. Einstein was convinced that some social and political practices of the Catholic organizations, specifically their fight against birth control, were detrimental and dangerous. Both men had an idea of God, but not the God who "plays dice with the world." Salvo, say you were joking!
Quite (Ir)Rational presents readers with a fallacious proposition that can only be described as incredible. He proposes that non-believers should ignore religion as he ignores palm reading, astrology, tarot cards, and other beliefs. Newspapers print a disclaimer stating that astrology columns are for fun and enjoyment and have no basis in science. Tarot cards and palm reading are easily avoided or ignored. However, the non-believer is constantly bombarded with the religious extremism of the believer and cannot live his life without having it smeared with religious dogma. If a person registers to vote, he is asked to swear or affirm to God. If he is called to jury duty, he is asked his religious preference. He is often asked to stand and bow his head for prayer at public meetings, graduation exercises, and recreational events. His wife is assaulted at the women's clinic and his child is asked to acknowledge God during the pledge to the flag and prayed over through the school intercom. One cannot ignore such injustice; it has nothing to do with fear, but disgust. To a non- believer, religion is just another term to be added to Q.R.'s list of rubbish. I do not require Q.R. to practice the things in which he does not believe, yet he asks that I practice the things in which he believes, which I do not believe.
I agree with you, Salvo, that religious belief is private, but you must admit that religious practice is not. This is what the principle of the separation of church and state and freedom from religion is all about. As the Jew demands freedom from the Christian practice of speaking to God through Christ, the Christian demands freedom from the Muslim practice of bowing toward Mecca, and the Muslim demands freedom from the idolatry and polytheism of the Christian, non-believers demand freedom from the tenants, rituals, and symbols of all religions. There can be no freedom of religion without freedom from (others') religion.
Dear Sister Chastity,
Such a nice name, though a bit intimidating, the quality being so rare today. Not to worry about Spinoza, as we can call him what we please: His grandfather and father were Christian (in Portugal to save themselves from the Inquisition) but Jewish at heart and reverted to Judaism upon escaping to Amsterdam. What am I saying?! It is the mother's, not the father's Judaism that rules upon which children will be Jewish. The encyclopedia does not mention Mrs. Spinoza's choice of faith. Pity. Also, Baruch Spinoza was excommunicated by the synagogue for heresy. As he aged, unlike good brandy, he got worse. He ultimately embraced pantheism and panpsychism -- the universe seen as a spatial whole conscious throughout. All matter is conscious. The human mind is a tiny particle of God's mind. God has no personality and offers no providence. A good man will love God, but not expect to be loved in return. (Was Spinoza a student of Job?)
The reason much of this sounds familiar is that progressive Christian writers and thinkers have been moving in this direction for fifty years or so. Please pardon me, Sister, if I have slipped and confused Spinoza with Savonarola. It happens.
You paint a grim picture of the non-believer's plight at the hands of extremist believers, and I entirely agree with your letter from "However the non-believer..." on the closing. You are certainly a match for Fear and Trembling. Too bad you're on different sides of the fence!
Carry on, Sister,
The year 1984 came and went without the arrival of George Orwell's 1984. Instead, the Soviet Union went, China is changing, Cuba is crumbling. The totalitarian ghoul has gone! Hooray! we are supposed to say. The witch is dead.
But essences of it keep trying to slip in the back door, like snippets of genetic code from one organism inserted into another to make the host exude some secretion characteristic of the donor. Remember the two-way "telescreens" of Big Brother's gruesome society? They saturated the proletarian masses with propaganda. ("Prolefeed" the dominant strata called it in the Newspeak language invented to discourage rebellion by extinguishing all words and ideas that might allow the drones to perceive their true condition.) These screens, which were everywhere, also functioned as eyes and ears for the Thought Police ("thinkpol" in Newspeak) and other guardians of the system.
Haven't we created the same for ourselves? TVs are inescapable. And snooping gadgets proliferate. Yet they are literally explained away by calling them security cameras and citing the need to capture criminals on film. But most of the time these lenses are just a Peeping Tom on ordinary folks going about their ordinary activities. This caused indignant outcries when such cameras started appearing in stores, office buildings, schools, and streets years ago. Now they are accepted as a normal fixture of life.
The vocabulary and grammar of Newspeak were contrived to stifle the formulation of rational objections to the spying telescreens or to anything else Big Brother and his Inner Party wanted. And aren't we gradually accepting mind control like this as normal too?
The casino pushers around town decided that the word gambling carries unsavory connotations. So their propaganda began speaking of gaming, which is designed to suggest sport, entertainment, fun. Pretty soon parroty commercial media were saying gaming. Even the normally vigilant Harbinger has occasionally fallen into this obvious trap.
You are a delver of the brain's dark depths. Surface from your researches, oh deep-plunging Salvo, and bring a nugget of wisdom. Tell us why we remain so susceptible -- despite all of the shrewd warnings by Orwell and others -- to deceivers intent on twisting our minds for their advantage and our damage.
Well, it is reassuring that we are ten years beyond 1984) and not all of its predictions have come to pass. You are right to pick out trends such as Omnisnoop, Newspeak, and Doublethink as the main noxious trends that did develop. I would add Neopuritanism: Nowadays every thing is bad for your health, especially if it be enjoyable. The very essence of puritanism is "the haunting fear that somewhere, somebody may be having fun." Sorry I can't attribute that gem. Today we must hide behind the barn or risk our life on the 20th story window ledge, just to have a smoke. The whole country is hysterically confessing to alcoholism, child abuse, and wife battering. (I won't mention what one woman did to her husband)
I suspect, as in the case of the state's madness being concealed by the petty folly of individuals, that the snooping and informing trend, or omnisnoop, is closely interlocked with Newspeak and Doublethink. All these devices are used to confuse, mislead, and oppress the ordinary citizen. One of the best antidotes is the close and frequent study of a slim little book called The Elements of Style by Strunk and E.B. White. People who talk and write clearly can think with clarity and honesty. Sometimes.
April 12, 1994