Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category


Chris Hedges just put up a fantastic, fearless post on Truthout about the libeling of those of us who oppose Israeli brutalization and murder of Palestinians as “anti-semitic” (e.g., 200+ murders and thousands of deliberate maimings by Israeli snipers of protesters on the other side of the fence in Gaza during the ongoing “right of return” protests — and just ask yourself, how desperate must people be to deliberately expose themselves to murder and maiming, while the corporate press dishonestly excuses that slaughter — sniper shootings at hundreds of yards — as “clashes”? ). I just wish I could repost Chris’s piece here.

Hence an inadequate but claratory definition from The American Heretic’s Dictionary about what “anti-semitism” means currently in the U.S.:

Anti-Semitism, n. 1) A blind, unreasoning hatred of Jewish people by those who fear, with good reason, that they are inferior to Jews. (This is not to say that Jews are inherently superior to anyone else, even anti-Semites; rather, that Jewish culture encourages self-responsibility, social responsibility, learning, dedication to goals, and individual achievement—things sorely lacking in the mainstream of American culture. Hence Jews tend to be perceived as threatening “overachievers” in comparison with average, “fetch me another beer, Bubba” Americans.); 2) As defined in the United States for well over half a century, the unspeakable act of criticizing the oppression and murder of one Semitic people by another (Palestinians by Israelis). Needless to say, this leads to gross confusion of those who seek social justice with actual anti-Semites—which is precisely the intention of those who use the term in this manner. (Curiously, the ethnicity of all of these individuals is apparently Irish, as they invariablyh respond to the name “McCarthy.”)

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—from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded)

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Astounding front cover(Astounding, by Tim Nevala-Lee. New York, Dey St., 2018, $28.99, 532 pp.)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon

While the subtitle mentions Heinlein, Hubbard, and Asimov along with John W. Campbell, this is primarily a biography of Campbell centering on his activities as editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later Analog), the largest-circulation and most influential science fiction magazine in the 1940s through the 1960s; the book has a special focus on Campbell’s relationships with the authors he published, his influence on their work, and on the authors’ relationships with each other.

The level of detail in this exceedingly well documented 500-plus-page book is, well, astounding, and the amount of work Nevala-Lee did to produce it must have been equally astounding. The dust jacket copy notes that the author drew on “unexplored archives, thousands of unpublished letters, and dozens of interviews.” It shows.

This is not, however, a dry academic history. Nevala-Lee does a fine job of bringing to life the decidedly oddball quartet listed in the subtitle, along with their wives and girlfriends (some of whom did much uncredited work) and many other sci-fi authors of the time. Nevala-Lee has not, however, produced a hagiography: the portraits of all of these figures are nuanced, bringing out both their attractive and unattractive traits. The attractive traits include. in all but Hubbard, dedication to work and writing, the authors’ and Campbell’s mutual support, and in Campbell’s case a messianic belief in the transformative power of science fiction. The unattractive traits include spousal abuse and pathological lying (Hubbard), right-wing authoritarian politics (Hubbard, Campbell, and Heinlein) and denunciations of associates to the FBI as “communists” (Hubbard). (For a good dissection of Heinlein’s most authoritarian work, see Michael Moorcock’s famous takedown of Starship Troopers, “Starship Stormtroopers.”) Even Asimov, who comes off as by far the most sympathetic of the quartet, had a serious flaw: engaging in serial sexual harassment.

For those interested in cults, there’s also a great deal of material on Hubbard’s and Campbell’s formulation of dianetics — basically a rehashing of Alfred Korzybski’s tedious and trivial “general semantics” concepts along with (though they wouldn’t have known the term) abreaction therapy (which can be quite dangerous), all with a “cybernetics” overlay — and their subsequent falling out prior to Hubbard’s coming up with the term Scientology, founding of that “church,” and installation of himself as that money-making machine’s glorious leader.

This brief summation only scratches the surface, and anyone interested in science fiction and its history should have a great time delving into this well researched, well written book.

Highly recommended.

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Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia (pdf sample here). He’s currently working on the sequel, a nonfiction book on the seamier sides of Christianity, two compilations, and an unrelated sci-fi novel.

Free Radicals, by Zeke Teflon front cover


Da Pope

“All feminism ends up being [a type of] machismo with a skirt.”

–Pope Francis, speaking to the Vatican’s conference on pederasty, quoted by Daniel Verdú on the El País site

(Note: The quote in Spanish is “Todo feminismo acaba siendo un machismo con falda.”)


prayer

PRAYER, n. 1) A form of begging, unusual in that it’s often practiced as a solitary activity. When practiced in groups, it is normally referred to as “worship.” 2) A humble supplication, the premise of which is that the omnipotent, omniscient creator of the universe will benefit from the guidance of the humble supplicator.

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— from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded), the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. (The link goes to 50 sample definitions and illustrations.)

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


Death Wins All Wars front coverDeath Wins All Wars: Resisting the Draft in the 1960s, a Memoir, by Daniel Holland, introduction by Chaz Bufe. Softcover, 192 pages, $16.95, ISBN 9781947071353, publication date September 1, 2019.

This entertaining and thought-provoking memoir covers Daniel’s experiences in the anti-war counterculture of the 1960s, experiences which led to his refusal to submit to involuntary servitude as a killer in a criminal war. The book goes on to describe his trial, his legal travails, and life in the counterculture following that trial. The book concludes with a chapter in which Daniel reflects on his and other draft resisters’ experiences during the Viet Nam War, and lessons about achieving peace for today’s activists.

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The Great Evil front coverThe Great Evil: Christianity, the Bible, and the Native American Genocide, by Chris Mato Nunpa, PhD. Softcover, 256 pages, $19.95, ISBN 9781947071360, publication date September 1, 2019.

In this shocking book, retired Native American history professor Nunpa exposes a sordid and little known aspect of American history: The intimate ties between Christian doctrine, Christian churches, and the mass slaughter and enslavement of Indigenous peoples.

(We’ll be running a post by Chris on February 12, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, on why the Dakota people have very little use for Lincoln, why to them he’s more “the great hangman” than “the great emancipator.”)

 


Elbert Hubbard

 

MIRACLE: An event described by those to whom it was told by men who did not see it.

Epigrams


Ambrose Bierce

“When the anointed minister of Heaven spreads his palms and uprolls his eyes to beseech a general blessing or a special advantage, is he the celebrant of a hollow, meaningless rite, or the dupe of a false premise? One does not know, but if one is not a fool one does know that his every resultless petition proves him by the inexorable laws of logic to be one or the other.”

–Ambrose Bierce, Selected Works