Wednesday, April 25, 2007

This is the problem, folks

From an interview with Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich on
In a transcript of his interview with Brig. Gen. Gary Jones during a November 2004 investigation, Kauzlarich said he'd learned Kevin Tillman, Pat's brother and fellow Army Ranger who was a part of the battle the night Pat Tillman died, objected to the presence of a chaplain and the saying of prayers during a repatriation ceremony in Germany before his brother's body was returned to the United States.

Kauzlarich, now a battalion commanding officer at Fort Riley in Kansas, further suggested the Tillman family's unhappiness with the findings of past investigations might be because of the absence of a Christian faith in their lives.

In an interview with, Kauzlarich said: "When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don't know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough."

Asked by whether the Tillmans' religious beliefs are a factor in the ongoing investigation, Kauzlarich said, "I think so. There is not a whole lot of trust in the system or faith in the system [by the Tillmans]. So that is my personal opinion, knowing what I know."
Hey asshole, maybe they are upset because you, and the rest of the military, have lied to them for the past two years! Not that it matters, but who ever said anything about the Tillmans being atheist? "Not Christian" and atheist are different concepts, but I doubt this guy can comprehend that. Would you honestly be perfectly hunky-dory fine with losing a member of your family this way just because you believe he/she is now in heaven? The fact that Spc. Tillman died is just as tragic as the deaths of the other 3,000-something American men and women and the countless Iraqis and Afghans (please note that it was a group of self-styled Christians who started the tragedy in Iraq in the first place). The fact that a b.s. story has been spun about it all this time is criminal, and, based on everything I have ever been taught in my life, pretty fricking un-Christian.

Friday, April 20, 2007

United in disbelief, or something

Making fun of Dinesh D'Souza is about as easy as shooting fish that are duct-taped to the barrel of a gun, but I just can't help myself. I once observed how he made a convincing case that debauchery and vice is every American's patriotic duty, and now he sort of makes a case for the inherent kindness and decency of atheists (other good comments here and here). His point seems to be that atheists never show up to make statements/pronouncements/whatever when something tragic happens. As evidence, he notes that Richard Dawkins has not been invited to speak at VA Tech. To my knowledge, Dawkins has never been named the Atheist Pope, so I'm not sure why this matters. D'Souza also offers no particular answers to his own question ("Where Is Atheism When Bad Things Happen?") other than a few paraphrasings of Dawkins' writings that make me wonder if he actuallyt read any of them. All I can get from this (and I acknowledge a possible bias on my part towards rational thought and looking for the good in all people) is the following:

1. Atheists by and large do not congregate in large groups and therefore do not have spokespeople.
2. As a derivative of item 1, they also do not advertise or make public statements on behalf of anyone but themselves.
3. All he does is beg the question of where God was during the shooting, since he's asking about atheists afterwards.

My faith in humanity is restored by the utter beatdown he gets in his own comments section.

I suppose he is expecting Richard Dawkins to show up in Virginia, approach the family of a victim, and tell them in his haughty British accent that the souls of their loved ones do not really exist and that they did not go anywhere after death. D'Souza may be surprised to find that he is dealing with a rather polite and considerate segment of society. Dickishness in the face of tragedy is more the idiom of the religiously-oriented.

How low can they go?

That was a bad pun, as you will see. The Catholic Church has retired the concept of "limbo," apparently:
The Roman Catholic Church has effectively buried the concept of limbo, the place where centuries of tradition and teaching held that babies who die without baptism went.

In a long-awaited document, the Church's International Theological Commission said limbo reflected an "unduly restrictive view of salvation."
Having never been Catholic (and having not been an especially good Episcopalian), I am trying to understand the practical effect of this. Do all of the babies that have spent all this time in limbo now get to go somewhere else? Have they not actually been in limbo all this time? Doesn't that say something about papal infallibility? As in, the Church was for limbo before they were against it. Is it an Orwellian redefinition of reality? As in, unbaptized babies do not go to limbo--they have never gone to limbo...

Just wondering.