Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A fate worse than hell

I've just finished watching an hour-long BBC documentary - in six segments on YouTube, here's the link to part 1 - about the Westboro Baptist Church. This is the small religious community in Kansas headed by Fred Phelps and made up mostly of his family.

I tell you, I've never see a horror movie that scared me more. Just the idea that there are people out there (over 70 of them!) who honestly believe what they believe is terrifying. It completely astounds me that someone can say, in all seriousness, that the sky-god made 9-11 happen because America tolerates homosexuality. They say they rejoice whenever anything bad happens to anyone because it's sky-god's work in action, wreaking his judgment. The younger generation doesn't even consider the option of marriage and children. What's the use, they say...the end-time is coming very soon and all of "this" will be destroyed. They firmly believe that the 70 of them there in Topeka, Kansas are the only people in the world who are going to heaven because everyone else loves gays and worships the dead so we're all going to burn in hell for all eternity. And they say it while laughing at you.

But the thing that has brought all the attention on them, that has made them "the most hated family in America," is the fact that they picket outside the funerals of fallen soldiers, waving flags and singing songs about how "god hates fags" and "America is doomed."

I just can't get my head around the fact that people can really, honestly believe that stuff. It's almost as impossible for me to conceive of as a sky-god is...the only difference being that I have the evidence of the Phelps family right in front of my eyes. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

There were scenes in the documentary showing people passing by in cars, giving them the finger, screaming obscenities at them, and you could just feel how strong their anger was against these monsters who are being so disrespectful of the dead and their families. I kept wondering what I would do if I drove by one of those picket lines. I wish I could think of something so scathing, so undeniably true, so cutting, that they would pack up their evil signs and go home and drink poisoned Kool-aid in remorse.

I wish I could fix it so these hateful, deluded psychotics would have just a moment's awareness after they die to see that there's nothing there. Nothing. Just blankness. No glory, no sky-god waiting with open arms to lead them through the pearly gates. No eternal comfort in the knowledge that everyone else down there on earth was burning in hell. Wouldn't it be the perfect punishment? Even going to hell, for them, would be preferable to that, because they'd figure the sky-god had some reason for it, they must have done something to deserve it. To find out that even hell doesn't exist would be the worst punishment imaginable.

Oh, I wish I could make that happen.

8 comments:

Margie Phelps said...

Patti the Pervert.

That has a nice ring. :-)

So let me understand this -- your sky goddess (otherwise known as mother nature) -- can wipe out entire communities, but the Lord God of Eternity can't send some miscreants to fly planes into some buildings?

Your logic is as undisciplined as you PP.

That concept inside your feeble dark mind -- that you call having trouble wrapping your sick psyche around some words -- is called REBELLION AGAINST GOD. You're a rebel without a cause, squalling all over the airwaves because your Creator doesn't do to suit you.

Stop worshiping dead bodies PP. It's too late for the worship of depraved mankind to help those dead bodies. Wrap your freak fried-brain around this: THEY'RE IN HELL. Nothing and no one can help them now. The time for people to have told them THE TRUTH to keep them from going to that awful place has come and gone.

Meanwhile your duty -- and the duty of every human -- is to fear and obey God. You hate that duty. You hate God. You hate yourself. You hate your fellow man. That's why you barf out meaningless words and become gaspingly breathless when someone doesn't buy into your meaningless swill.

As for the hatred that you and 9.9999999999% of the WORLD show us -- BIG FAT YAWN! You are an arrogant delusional fat assed fool if you think YOU can come up with some words that would move us. We have the faith of God and the promises of the King. What in the WORLD would make you think we give a rat's ass about what any of you hell bound selfish mutts have to say? You're all sprinting to hell as fast as your spoiled butts can take you. You are full of selfish mean base thoughts for each other. None of cares about whether your "friends" have a meal tomorrow -- let alone the state of their eternal soul.

PP, let me tell you when you're going to stop all that jabber, and wrap your mind around these words and the truth of them -- when God Almighty picks you up by your scruffy fluffy neck, and DROP KICKS YOU ASS INTO HELL -- FOREVER. Through your torment you will cuss every person who has lied to you all your life. You'll continue to blaspheme God -- but you will no longer impudently open your smartass mouth calling him the "sky god" and let on like he might not even exist. Every knee WILL bow and every tongue WILL confess that he is God. On that you can count. Then we'll see if a few words your nabby nibs doesn't like are a fate worse than hell. You sloppy lying wench.

Magormissabib.

rlpr said...

I'm pretty sure Margie meant "99.999999999% of the WORLD shows us hatred." Damn the decimal system

A. Martin said...

You’re so disgusted by their “hateful behavior” that you wish for the members of Westboro Baptist Church to commit suicide. And not only that, but you would be happy to see them suffer a fate worse than hell – i.e., the “monetary awareness…that there’s nothing there.”

It would too much to ask, I suspect, that you demonstrate a flash of self-awareness; that you examine your own hateful wishes and measure those against what the WBC is doing.

Do you think such unworthy thoughts as those you’ve voiced here are less hateful because you don’t announce them in the street? Or are you under the misapprehension that because most people agree with you, this somehow makes you right?

If you really want to make the world a better place, you must live up to a higher standard than most people attempt to achieve. In other words, if you’re hoping for a society where people respect one another regardless of personal differences, you yourself must exemplify this behavior.

You’re storing up wrath against yourself. Stop doing that, and at least start measuring yourself by the standard you would apply to others.

R V Raiment said...

Confusing stuff, this...

"So let me understand this -- your sky goddess (otherwise known as mother nature) -- can wipe out entire communities, but the Lord God of Eternity can't send some miscreants to fly planes into some buildings?"

I don't doubt some of the above is based on material I have not read so I hope I am not too far astray in this: that 'mother' nature can wipe out communities is demonstrable - Pompei coming quickly to mind - but that such an action is taken by a god... where's the evidence? The Bible appears to say he does, but books that say Father Christmas comes down the chimney in December aren't proof of anything but human interpretation.

"Your logic is as undisciplined as you PP."

Now there's charming.

"That concept inside your feeble dark mind -- that you call having trouble wrapping your sick psyche around some words -- is called REBELLION AGAINST GOD. You're a rebel without a cause, squalling all over the airwaves because your Creator doesn't do to suit you."

What charming, tolerant language you Christians use, and so strangely at variance with the very beautiful book by which I thought you lived. Most curious.

"Stop worshiping dead bodies PP. It's too late for the worship of depraved mankind to help those dead bodies. Wrap your freak fried-brain around this: THEY'RE IN HELL. Nothing and no one can help them now. The time for people to have told them THE TRUTH to keep them from going to that awful place has come and gone."

The most fascinating thing for me about this... well... is this writer sure she is a Christian and not a Muslim? Muslims are saying exactly the same thing and taking the same apparent joy in the deaths of other human beings. I'm not an American - for which I am often grateful - but such sentiments so closely echo those of Islamists they strike me as verging on treasonous.

"Meanwhile your duty -- and the duty of every human -- is to fear and obey God. You hate that duty. You hate God. You hate yourself. You hate your fellow man."

I'm an Atheist too, you see, so that puzzles me. I don't hate God; never have, didn't even when I believed he might exist. I don't hate the 'Godly' either, just find it sad when they embark on such diatribes. I don't hate myself; I'd like to be a better person in some respects than I am, and I keep trying to be, but the fact is that I am loved by many, especially but not only by children. I don't hate humanity; indeed I love humanity very deeply. That's one of the reasons I don't have a fancy job or fancy education, in fact. Doing right by others, doing unto them even better than I would ask them to do unto me, has taken up a very great deal of my time and energy.

I don't even hate you, come to think of it. It couldn't possibly be that this Atheist's love of humanity is greater than your own, now could it?

"That's why you barf out meaningless words and become gaspingly breathless when someone doesn't buy into your meaningless swill."

Barf means vomit, as I recall? And 'meaningless swill'? I remember no record of Christ using such language, even against the Pharisees. Something for you to think about, assuming you are capable of rational thought, is that some of us wish that we could actually believe in God, not least because of the honourable, intelligent, kind and wonderful words of his Son. The kind of words you use, however, demonstrate clearly that I have no more in common with you than I have with any throat-slitting Jihadist.

"As for the hatred that you and 9.9999999999% of the WORLD show us -- BIG FAT YAWN! You are an arrogant delusional fat assed fool if you think YOU can come up with some words that would move us. We have the faith of God and the promises of the King. What in the WORLD would make you think we give a rat's ass about what any of you hell bound selfish mutts have to say? You're all sprinting to hell as fast as your spoiled butts can take you. You are full of selfish mean base thoughts for each other. None of cares about whether your "friends" have a meal tomorrow -- let alone the state of their eternal soul."

'Hell' and 'Faith' in the above contexts are usually capitalised. 'fat assed'? Fat people are bad and sinful, huh? I didn't know that before. 'BIG FAT YAWN'? You must have a serious amount of time to waste if you need to spend time formulating so long and malicious a response to someone whose opinion you claim not to care about. Shouldn't you be spending it making sure someone is fed or clothed?

'You sloppy lying wench.'

I've ignored the appallingly badly written maliciousness up to that last quote which is itself a 'sloppy, lying' (note the comma)punchline, a gratuitous insult which - if it comes from someone who considers him/herself a Christian - is demeaning even to your God.

In the end it is your arrogance for which so many, I think, must despise you. How is it that this great, all-powerful God of yours needs such nasty mouths to complete his work? Why does he need you, at all?

If He doesn't actually need you to fly aeroplanes into buildings, why does He need you to tell us what it means? Isn't He capable of telling homosexuals or other 'sinners' how He feels Himself?

Your God appears to promise an Eternity, a never-endingness, of suffering for those who offend Him, yet neither you nor the Jihadists consider Eternity long enough; you seem to have to try to extend the sinner's suffering through the brief span of natural life also. You seem to me to be rather over-egging the pudding, and the urgency and vehemence with which you do it suggest an arrogant belief in you that God could not succeed without employing your rather petty nastiness.

It occurs to me that in Iraq at present an awful lot of Sunni and Shia Muslims are dying at each other's hands and that must mean, by your logic, that God is pretty mad at them too. So how about you pop your delightful little party of evangelists over to Baghdad and do some demonstrating over there?

If you're so important to your God surely He would protect you? Or do you actually only demonstrate where you are protected by the godless laws of the godless state you seem so much to despise?

Just curious.

RVRaiment
Author

R V Raiment said...

a.martin (if I have it right) wrote:

"You’re so disgusted by their “hateful behavior” that you wish for the members of Westboro Baptist Church to commit suicide. And not only that, but you would be happy to see them suffer a fate worse than hell – i.e., the “monetary awareness…that there’s nothing there.”"

I suspect that was a 'momentary awareness' - I don't actually remember, but 'monetary' makes no sense in this context.

"It would too much to ask, I suspect, that you demonstrate a flash of self-awareness; that you examine your own hateful wishes and measure those against what the WBC is doing."

From what I know of Pat it would be to ask far less of her to demonstrate that 'flash of awareness'. Most of us are capable of being moved to brief anger by some of the more extreme manifestations of certain kinds of belief. The difference appears to be that even if we - people like Pat and I - had the power to inflict such pain or grief on even our bitterest enemies we would never do more than put it into words.

The genuine truth is that were your God - I'm assuming He is your God - were to put in some kind of appearance and say to me "Hey, fella, there are things I'd like you to do for me" I'd up and do them like a shot, and at whatever cost. Unless, that is, he required me to heap more misery on others, in which case - frankly - I'd ask him to be so kind as to kill me instead and send me straight to Hell.

"Do you think such unworthy thoughts as those you’ve voiced here are less hateful because you don’t announce them in the street? Or are you under the misapprehension that because most people agree with you, this somehow makes you right?"

The blogger concerned publishes her thoughts, represented as her thoughts, in a medium people can take or leave. She's not forcing or attempting to force anything on anybody so far as I can see.

As to whether she is right... I rather suspect that she, like myself, is quite prepared to leave that determination to God, if he exists, and quite prepared to pay a legitimate price for it.

"If you really want to make the world a better place, you must live up to a higher standard than most people attempt to achieve. In other words, if you’re hoping for a society where people respect one another regardless of personal differences, you yourself must exemplify this behavior."

An injunction both she - I'm sure - and I - I know - am willing to take on the chin. Is it a little odd that your criticism is of the blogger and not of she who used such extraordinarily un-Christian language, or am I missing something?

"You’re storing up wrath against yourself. Stop doing that, and at least start measuring yourself by the standard you would apply to others."

I suspect Pat dealt with that in her blog subsequent to your mailing.

I wish you well, stranger, brother, sister, and I hope (truly) for you that your Heaven does exist and that you find your place there, for there is no malice in this.

R V Raiment
Author

A. Martin said...

R V RAIMENT:

I suspect that was a 'momentary awareness' - I don't actually remember, but 'monetary' makes no sense in this context.

It was a silly error on my part. I ran my post through a spell-checker, and didn’t notice that it auto-changed that word. It’s clear, however, that you know what I meant.

From what I know of Pat it would be to ask far less of her to demonstrate that 'flash of awareness'. Most of us are capable of being moved to brief anger by some of the more extreme manifestations of certain kinds of belief. The difference appears to be that even if we - people like Pat and I - had the power to inflict such pain or grief on even our bitterest enemies we would never do more than put it into words.

You’re not angry about what the members of Westboro Baptist Church would do if given god-like powers; you’re upset by their words, obviously, since words are they only weapons they use in their pickets and during media appearances.

The genuine truth is that were your God - I'm assuming He is your God - were to put in some kind of appearance and say to me "Hey, fella, there are things I'd like you to do for me" I'd up and do them like a shot, and at whatever cost. Unless, that is, he required me to heap more misery on others, in which case - frankly - I'd ask him to be so kind as to kill me instead and send me straight to Hell.

What if you believed, as the members of Westboro Baptist Church do, that your warnings were a kindness?

What else but kindness do you think could motivate these people – all of them, despite their individual temperaments – to do something so extreme as picket funerals around the United States at their own expense?

They’re called names, attacked, beaten, threatened, spat upon, and reviled. Do you honestly think they’re driven by unmitigated hatred?

They have families and careers, most of them; it’s not like they couldn’t find other things to do with their time and money.

The blogger concerned publishes her thoughts, represented as her thoughts, in a medium people can take or leave. She's not forcing or attempting to force anything on anybody so far as I can see.

I never claimed otherwise.

As to whether she is right... I rather suspect that she, like myself, is quite prepared to leave that determination to God, if he exists, and quite prepared to pay a legitimate price for it.

If each of us is judged by the standard we apply to others, what would the judgment against Pat look like if it were based on the hateful wishes expressed in this post?

An injunction both she - I'm sure - and I - I know - am willing to take on the chin. Is it a little odd that your criticism is of the blogger and not of she who used such extraordinarily un-Christian language, or am I missing something?

Margie Phelps’ language was not un-Christian. The prophets of old, after whom members of the WBC model their behavior, used all kinds of harsh language in their pronouncements. You are aware, aren’t you, that Jesus referred to at least one person who sought his help as a “dog”?

I wish you well, stranger, brother, sister, and I hope (truly) for you that your Heaven does exist and that you find your place there, for there is no malice in this.

Thank you, but I will likely never see the good side of any world-to-come. I’m here on sufferance.

R V Raiment said...

Hi again, Mr Martin, (I think)

'I suspect that was a 'momentary awareness' - I don't actually remember, but 'monetary' makes no sense in this context.'

One forgets, sometimes, how differently one's words may read in text and I hope you did not mistake the comment above as 'cleverness'; I meant only to indicate that I thought there was a glitch there of the kind you described, one of those spell check 'wrinkles' :-)

"It was a silly error on my part."

An error, noticed, but not 'silly' by any description. Merely one of those things that happens to us all.

"You’re not angry about what the members of Westboro Baptist Church would do if given god-like powers; you’re upset by their words, obviously, since words are they only weapons they use in their pickets and during media appearances."

Actually, and very courteously, I must disagree. I'm not particularly angry about anything, only somewhat disheartened and dismayed, and my dismay is not just about words.

Picketing is of itself - to me - an act of violence. To shout at somebody, to snarl at somebody, to wave an insulting gesture at somebody, is to me an act of violence. There are picketers who in their behaviour and in the words and images they use on placards manage to sidestep violence in making a legitimate an informative point. There are others whose purpose in picketing and whose use of language and images is designed to intimidate. A simple example is the union picket outside a factory which is legitimate in protesting at what the employer has done, legitimate in protesting against the use of 'scab labour' but may be violent, for example, in blocking someone's passage from point A to point B, in such a way that the said someone has to invade the protestor's personal space or have their own invaded. You're clearly intelligent and spelling the point out is probably unnecessary - forgive me if that is so - but as a witness to many pickets, whether in person or through the media, I have very often been conscious of that aim to intimidate and I find it violent.

In this particular case my concern is with an apparent and, in my view tragic, illogicality. The members of this group believe, if I understand correctly, that US servicemen are being killed in Iraq and that the victims of 9/11 were killed as God's punishment for the state and individuals' tolerance of/engagement in 'sin'.

The victims of 9/11 and, arguably, your and our servicemen in Iraq, are being murdered. Many victims, in the case of 9/11, were members of services whose own remit is the protection of life - members of services who would rush to the protection of the same people who argue - it seems - that those police officers, medical personnel and firemen are now in Hell as a punishment by God.

What, then, of other murders? Is the five year old victim of abuse, killed by a parent or deranged passer by, also evidence of God's displeasure?

My own little girl, profoundly handicapped, died 19 years ago of natural causes. That fact did not estrange me from the idea of God, though it at least for a while torpedoed the faith of one of my acquaintance. I know how I would have felt had someone pushed themselves into my face to assert that her death was my punishment, and to see this done - it seems - on a regular basis makes me feel very sorry for those who have suffered a loss and must tolerate such attacks.

Is it the case - in terms of logic - that members of this church believe that murderers - including any 9/11 conspirators left alive - should go unpunished? Do they argue for the closure of prisons? Because surely if their case is that suffering is inflicted by God it is wrong to punish those who are only his vessels? Again, I'm not trying to play games here. If I have misunderstood some of this I shall be interested to know.

"What if you believed, as the members of Westboro Baptist Church do, that your warnings were a kindness?

What else but kindness do you think could motivate these people – all of them, despite their individual temperaments – to do something so extreme as picket funerals around the United States at their own expense?"

There are people who believe that the genocide of handicapped babies is a kindness, pedophiles who believe that their acts are a kindness. There were many Nazis and others who commited atrocious acts against humanity because they believed it was morally right and just so to do. There are many certified lunatics who do things harmful to themselves or to others who believe that theirs are acts of kindness or justice. The Inquisition, I believe, often acted in the belief that they were perpetrating the 'kindness' of saving souls. There are people who believe they are being kind if they say that they 'understand how you feel' at the loss of a loved one, citing as evidence of their understanding the fact that they recently buried a pet cat. The belief in the kindness of one's own actions is not a reliable measure of anything, though it is often merely a form of posturing and attention seeking.

"They’re called names, attacked, beaten, threatened, spat upon, and reviled. Do you honestly think they’re driven by unmitigated hatred?"

It is as probable as anything else, though on the face of it I can only suspect that a large part of their drive is about securing some kind of special relationship with the God they claim to serve.

There are many who claim to be followers of Allah who make the same basic assertion; that any evils which befall the west are judgements by God on the perfidy of the West. It has never seriously occurred to me to wonder if they are driven by love.

"They have families and careers, most of them; it’s not like they couldn’t find other things to do with their time and money."

And some of us simply cannot understand why they don't just do those other things, why they don't simply lead by example. It is not as if such example is a common-place in the western world.

'The blogger concerned publishes her thoughts, represented as her thoughts, in a medium people can take or leave. She's not forcing or attempting to force anything on anybody so far as I can see.'

"I never claimed otherwise."

Perhaps I am mistaken but I thought you drew parallels between Pat's espousal of her cause through the one particular medium and the Phelps' espousal of theirs by similar media, only wider, and direct confrontation. I was not suggesting that you 'claimed otherwise' but was making the point that in my view her promulgation of her beliefs seems a great deal more moderate than those which the church involved seems to engage in.

"If each of us is judged by the standard we apply to others, what would the judgment against Pat look like if it were based on the hateful wishes expressed in this post?"

Only a personal view, of course, but it seemed very much to me that Pat's post as a whole, and indeed her blog as a whole, is considerably less hateful overall than the response from Ms Phelps.

Pat, indeed, regretted her expression of anger, but I have seen no similar expression of regret by the other cause.

If the Phelps' God is one who reads and determines selectively that would again seem rather strange to me and, if it is true, such is a God I would want no part of.

"Margie Phelps’ language was not un-Christian. The prophets of old, after whom members of the WBC model their behavior, used all kinds of harsh language in their pronouncements. You are aware, aren’t you, that Jesus referred to at least one person who sought his help as a “dog”?"

I honestly have no recollection of that canine reference, which only means that I am not the student of the Bible that I once was. Assuming it is true - and I genuinely believe it must be since you say it is - it distances me only further, if that were possible, from this strange Faith.

If Ms Phelps' language is not un-Christian then Christians are clearly not what I thought they were and occupy a state which I would have no desire to share.

Such language could speak, easily, of the Old Testament 'Christianity' which first led me away from the Faith. It is not a club to which I would choose to belong, regardless of threats.

'I wish you well, stranger, brother, sister, and I hope (truly) for you that your Heaven does exist and that you find your place there, for there is no malice in this.'

"Thank you, but I will likely never see the good side of any world-to-come. I’m here on sufferance."

A very interesting and, indeed, intriguing response, that last. On whose sufferance, I wonder?

I do find this an interesting correspondence and I make no great claims to wisdom or knowledge. I fully accept that I could be wrong - in many things - but the Phelps' post offers me no actual evidence that I am.

For what little it might be worth, I am not attempting to demonstrate cleverness, superiority or anything else, only seeking to understand, and nothing in the foregoing is meant with anything but the greatest respect to you. I look forward, in hope, to hearing from you again.

Very best wishes,

R V Raiment

Anonymous said...

Lol...I love the bible!