Browsing Archives for March 2010

Most people think that the pope lives in Rome.

But they are wrong.

The real pope…

The TRUE pope…

Lives just a few miles from me in Delia, Kansas.

His name is POPE Michael.

That Benedict guy is an imposter!

I knew it!

I KNEW IT!

And you know what else?

I really like Pope Michael.

There is something about him…

And his mom…

They just seems so…

Guileless!

Maybe it has to do with the Pope sitting in the recliner with the remote in his hand.
Or maybe it is that scene where he is writing his blog with the water tank in the background.
Or maybe it’s the whole Pope eating a sandwich thing…
Or the papal crest coffee mug…
Or the Pope and his mom watching Jeopardy together!

I don’t know… but I like these people. I really, really do. It’s sort of like the Pope meets Napoleon Dynamite. And honestly… wouldn’t Napoleon as Pope be extremely tolerable?

I originally found this video on a visit to Pochoblog.

Click here to watch the trailer for the full length feature film and read the blog by the film makers.

Pope Michael’s blog can be found here.


I read the book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell over spring-break and I CAN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT! It’s almost like the holy spirit has filled me with a missionary zeal to spread the gospel of Blink to the nations!

The book Blink primarily focuses on the topic of human instincts and how we have a tendency to go to great lengths to not rely on them when we should and to rely on them when we shouldn’t. Humans have all these bodily mechanisms naturally selected over millions of years of evolution to protect us from making bad decisions. Mechanisms like sweaty palms, anxiety, nausea, goosebumps, colon spasms, sphincter twitches, fluttering eyelids, facial ticks, esophageal expulsions, rectum rumblings, gurgling bellies, ringing ears, hair that won’t lie flat, uni-brows, spontaneous lactation, late night snacking, bladder bombs and even the occasional combustible bowel. All these mechanisms are constantly sending us signals about the world around us, but all too often, we choose to completely ignore them and wait to make our decisions based on lab results, further testing, instruction manuals, surveys, statistics, books, opinion polls, sidewalk sales and what other people tell us. 

Okay, okay… Gladwell doesn’t actually use bladder explosions, spontaneous lactation, combustible bowels or hair that won’t lie flat for his examples. But it would have been slightly more interesting if he had.

Let’s take facial expressions for instance…

According to Gladwell’s book, people who study facial expressions - really study them – seem to have psychic abilities. They can study your face (even just a photo!) and tell you things about yourself that would seem impossible. Since the 1980′s, Dr. John Gottman has been studying the faces of married couples in his ‘love lab’ near the University of Washington. Gottman and his staff record the facial expression of a married couple in an hour long conversation and can predict with 95% accuracy whether or not a marriage will end in divorce. 95%! They don’t even need to listen to the VOICES of the couple they are studying! Gottman has become so good at reading facial expressions, that he can watch a couple from across a restaurant and predict whether or not their marriage is destined for divorce. The facial expression that highly favors the outcome of divorce? Contempt. If contempt appears frequently on the face of one member of a marriage – it is much more likely to fail.  Gottman calls his intense examination of facial expression – thin slicing.  

As I read this book, various episodes throughout my life flashed through my mind. I thought back to the times I had money burning a hole in my pocket to buy furniture for my house and salespeople completely ignored me because they saw me pull up in a beat up station wagon and unload three small toddlers.  Their instincts told them that I was too poor to purchase anything and they shouldn’t waste their time on me. I thought about the daily stomach-ache I used to get when I read Pioneer Woman.  On an instinctual level, my body was telling me that I was being sold a story that insisted once too often that it was truly authentic. If I had just listened to my twisted intestines, I would have wasted much less time attempting to model my own blog on the carefully contrived image of PW and wandered off much sooner in my own decidedly hostile direction.   

The same type of instinctual physical reactions frequently happened to me as I struggled with Christianity.  As I participated in church services, committee meetings, reading the bible, and teaching Sunday school – I would often feel exhausted afterwards or I would get a stomachache or just feel like something wasn’t quite right.  My instincts were trying to tell me one thing, but they had to overcome my brain that knew the ‘facts’.  The facts that I considered to be the unassailable truth like the existence of god and the inerrancy of the bible. Like so many people, I don’t trust my instincts enough when I should and I trust them too much when I shouldn’t.  

The research and stories in Gladwell’s book are fascinating. He writes about police work gone fatally wrong due to cops reacting incorrectly to a frightened suspect, because they are frightened themselves and because cops in groups tend to react with a mob mentality (as opposed to a cop that is working alone).  He writes about soldiers succeeding in jungle environments where they learn to completely rely on their instincts and ignore the misleading intelligence they are receiving from their superiors for the sake of survival. He writes about art experts detecting forgeries within seconds due to a ‘wave of revulsion’ reaction that long precedes the scientific testing and close examination upon which museums insist. Gladwell has created a fascinating book about how, when and why people should trust their instincts and ignore their brains.  Because  it turns out – our instincts ARE our brains.  They are the first reaction of our brains.  We just aren’t very good at interpreting what they are telling us.  

I found the following video of Sandra Bullock at the Oscars. The film has been slowed down enough so that the viewer is able (in a manner of speaking) to thin slice Bullock’s facial reaction towards her philandering husband, Jesse James – even though the press had yet to break the story.  It would seem that her joy at winning an Oscar is severely diminished by an entirely different emotion. I’m not Dr Gottman, but it looks like contempt to me. And James deserves every bit of it.  

For a chance to win my copy of ‘Blink’ by Malcolm Gladwell – just leave a comment.  

I will draw a winner Tuesday evening.  

Like Aquinas and Calvin, I reserve the right to burn heretical duplicate entries at the stake.

I have probably completely ruined my husband’s political career. Not that my husband ever had a political career.  But if he ever wanted one, it is completely shot to hell.  The Country Doctor is currently serving on the local school board. He ran unopposed, but I wasn’t an atheist when he was elected – so who knows how it would have worked out if I had been an atheist during the election.

As I have been following the news about the Texas BOE, I have grown more and more panicky about my own state and what could happen if the Kansas school board decides to wreak the same kind of havoc as the Texas BOE. (After all, Kansas has been through this before) And so I suggested to my husband that he consider running for the state BOE.  But then I realized, that as an atheist blogger, I have probably destroyed his chances to win any type of public election. So I decided right then and there that in order to increase his chances of winning, he needs to file for divorce before he files to run for election.

He said, “Would I re-marry you in secret after I won?”

I said, “No… we will just shock everyone by LIVING TOGETHER!”

Somehow I don’t think I am cut out for politics…

Or for being a politician’s wife.

Because I don’t know how to cast a demon out of a VCR.

But I do have about a year to destroy all evidence of ever having been atheist blogger.  My current state BOE representative is Kathy Martin and her term will be up in 2011.  If there is a single member on the Kansas BOE that the Texas BOE would like to marry and have lots of babies with it would be Kathy Martin.

After the 2005 evolution debate in Kansas, Martin was one of six conservative members who forced Kansas science teachers to follow a curriculum that was practically written by the Discovery Institue of Intelligent Design.  Four of those members rapidly lost their bids for re-election and the new ludicrous science standards they created were over turned within a year, but Martin won a re-election bid (against a gay opponent) and remains on the board until 2011.

If a creationist whack job can defeat a moderate democrat because he is gay – what are the odds she will defeat a straight man who is married to an atheist?

What if the straight man is devastatingly handsome?  

What if the handsome straight man divorces his atheist wife?

These are the real issues my friends – at least when it comes to quality public education in Kansas.

The famed Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote an open letter to the members of the Kansas BOE during the evolution debacle requesting that equal time be given to their personal creation theories as well. Three members of the board responded to the FSM with warm letters appreciating the momentary levity, but Kathy Martin said in her letter -

“It is a serious offense to mock God.”

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Last night, as I read more articles and watched a few videos especially of Cynthia Dunbar – the woman who might just make Thomas Jefferson disappear in Texas schools debate Eugenie Scott, the executive director of the National Center for Science Education, I got more and more freaked out.  Middle America laps religious conservatism up like a thirsty dog.  It makes us swoon.  It makes us shiver in delight.  Our eyes roll up in our skulls as we throw our heads back and moan and groan and make breathy whimpering sounds,  Oh god… oh God.  Oh… Oh.. OH MY GOD!!!!  

Because in American you cannot get elected to public office as a public atheist unless you are Pete Stark D. California and you have been there since 1973.

In the following video, the 2008 presidential candidates were asked to raise their hands if they did NOT believe in evolution.

Three men raised their hands.

Mike Huckabee
Tom Tancredo
and the man currently running for governor of my state.

Sam Brownback

Because of Brownback’s funding and the fact that people in my state know who he is, his chances for election are very high. His opponent, Holland faces an uphill battle.

I sure hope Holland’s wife isn’t an atheist.
Or if she is…
I hope she doesn’t write a blog about it!