314 Comments

The horror! Where will the next generation of grifters come from?

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We still have politics and politicians, so don't fret! 🤪

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Don't forget Mr. Larry Ellison, who runs quite the IT scam.

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They're not all grifters. It's truly sad though that the institutional church does a good job of weeding out the people both men and women who take their faith seriously and really try to help others.

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Faith is the process by which you arrive at conclusions for which there isn’t a lick of supporting evidence, and frequently lots of evidence to the contrary. It’s the root process behind not only religion (which even I, an atheist, admit is generally benign, if foolish) but also other fanaticisms and delusions (imperialism, racism, quackery, homeopathy, astrology, objectivism, ufology, conspiracy theories, climate-change denial, false accusations of ritual satanic child abuse, anti-vax movements, a host of superstitions, personality cults, jingoism, Chinese traditional “medicine”, feng shui, and the insidious brain parasite that leads people to endlessly obsess over anyone named Kardashian).

Faith is the real culprit here. Religion is just one of its many unfortunate consequences. The sooner we all recognize faith for the awful, horrible, misbegotten thing it is, instead of blindly singing its praises, the sooner we will have taken the next stage of our journey to becoming a sane society.

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Kardashian. Why, for Odin's sake? Why?

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You also believe things which cannot be proven such as the idea that we should be kind to each other.

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That can be proven. In evolutionary terms it binds us together into groups and helps us cooperate which is our big advantage. One human is easy prey, 20 humans is not. We didn't evolve as a species by individuals. We evolved by groups, the group kept the individual alive to reproduce. That's why LGBT folks haven't evolved out of the species, I believe. We're beneficial to the group. The trick is the size of the group. When you value all humans, it becomes easy. When you only value the ones like you, that's when the cruelty sets in.

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Conversations like this are why I love this site! I agree. I think you can make a really strong argument that the concepts of good and evil pre-date religion, and are evolutionary in nature. They were the two things that gave you an advantage. Good, for the reasons you stated. But the other way to gain an advantage was to be really good at being bad, and using that to insert yourself in an advantageous position in the community. A 'meh' bad person gets exiled and dies, while one that's actually good at it takes over the community.

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And yet there’s plenty of evidence to support the good for society when kindness is prioritized. And plenty of evidence of the damage a lack of kindness creates.

I can’t remember where it came from but I read some archeologist claim the indication of the first civilization was a healed fractured femur. Because it takes so long to heal and during that time the person is immobile and fully dependent on others’ kindness to survive. In the animal world or non civilized societies they would starve to death or be killed by predators before the bone had any time to heal. But to find early man with a long healed fracture in their leg meant someone had to care about the person even though they could not contribute and demanded extra resources.

It is in our nature to be kind. It’s not a belief but a fact with plenty of evidence to back it up. And even if there are those who are missing that nature, it’s still in our nature to be so, else we wouldn’t have gotten as far as we have. Those missing that are the unusual folks.

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

As long as the person with a broken leg is not sick they can still contribute to the group. There is chores who can be both performed sitting and not jolt the leg like helping to prepare food/leather/fur.

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That was anthropologist Margaret Mead, a remarkable woman.

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You're correct that VALUES can't be proven. However, I was alluding to people who think that various evidenceless things are FACTS.

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Save it, hon. Religion itself is a grift.

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"They're not all grifters"

Yeah, I'm sure there's one or two out there.

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>>> "They're not all grifters."

Uh, just because they don't know what they're selling is snake oil doesn't make it any good, and doesn't make what they do worthwhile. And it doesn't make them honest, just too dumb to figure things out for themselves.

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I don't really see this as a problem. American Evangelical fundamentalism needs to die out.

I know of a young man in his thirties. The young man has spent his entire adult life serving in a poorer neighborhood with homelessness and gang issues. The neighborhood is his home and he genuinely loves it and his neighbors who live there.

And when I say serves, I mean, he rolls up his sleeves and pitches in. He organizes school supply drives every year for neighborhood kids that need them. He organized a service to put together meals for the local homeless population and goes down to their encampments to bring them food, clothing, and whatever else he can gather from donors or buy himself. He ran for public office in his hometown because he genuinely loves the community and wanted to be in a position to expand services to the poor. Perhaps more importantly to folks here, while his faith inspires him, he respects the separation of church and state and doesn't use his position to force his faith on anyone.

The guy is one of three people I know of whom I would look at and say, "That's what a Christian should be." Statistically, there have to be more people like him out there. And frankly, serving as a pastor would diminish his ability to love his neighbors and I have zero doubt he would hate having to carve out hours from his day to prepare sermons, listen to petty church issues, and do things that took time away from his genuine service to other people.

So I have to say that pastors are worried about the wrong legacy they're leaving behind. If you've done your job, pastor, the rest of your flock should be leaving your churches to go out there and actively and demonstrably love their communities and neighbors by helping people.

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Your young man sounds like he would be the very same way even without religion.

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Without fail, the "good Christian" is good in spite of Christianity rather than because of it.

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Probably better.

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Absolutely, I think there are good people who happen to be Christians. But down here in the south, especially, I think the majority of evangelical Christians would see what the young man did as "woke stuff" and he would gradually be pushed out, or quit of his own accord when he saw that he didn't fit with the rest of the group. I think that's one of the biggest reasons that evangelical fundamentalism will die out - all the legacy Christians to whom being a "good Christian" means something like helping out at a soup kitchen are leaving.

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Math problem:

Given: Religion + Good Works = Good Works

Solve for Religion.

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Divide by zero error.

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Reminds me of an error message we used to get from the UNIVAC 1108 computer Case Tech students programmed on, back in the late 60's and early 70s:

INFINITY, INFINITY, YOU DONE DIVIDED BY ZERO!

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Republican Jesus doesn't want you to love your neighbors or do good works.

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Totally untrue!

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Not really surprising. I would expect as well that the Catholic Church is having a tough time finding women who want to be nuns or men who want to be p̵e̵d̵o̵p̵h̵i̵l̵e̵s̵ priests, especially among Millennials and Gen-Z folk. Reason is simple: the word is out. Religion is a fraud.

Between the 24-hour news cycle (thank you, Ted Turner!) and the internet, exposure of less-than laudatory stories about scamming evangelicals, abusive Jehovah's Witnesses, and raping priests is becoming far more common. The untoward underbelly of multiple churches has become public knowledge, and at least some of the public isn't reacting to it very well. As has been reported by Hemant and others, church attendance is on a down-swing, as is identification with any particular denomination. The nones are on the rise, as are organizations such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists. Religions now face blowback like they NEVER have before, and many are ill-equipped to counter such a response.

Mostly, this is just one more indicator that religion's time has PASSED and that maybe ... just MAYBE ... reason's time has arrived.

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The catholic church import nuns and priests from poorer countries but it's still not enough.

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There's a pedophile shortage?

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In my country it seems so. Merging parishes doesn't help more than importing priests and in rural areas it's not rare for a priest to switch between 2 or more.

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When I was a kid growing up in a devout catholic family most of the priests who were not local (Australian) came from Ireland and they were 'fire and brimstone' types - we were all horrible, tainted people, repent ! repent! else burn in hell for all eternity.

I remember being part of a congregation and being yelled at because of the low attendance. It was our fault that others weren't there!

These days the priest are coming from Africa and the attitudes have changed. Not so much a vengeful god any more.

Somehow, I escaped.

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Good for you. You are not the only one with horror stories to tell about the catholic church.

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*IF*, and it's a big if, we survive their final grasp for power, which is not looking good.

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Not looking good at all. And that scares the living daylight out of me.

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https://tinyurl.com/bdfffdvf

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Not his fault if you were born in Ordovician. Or was the Carboniferous ? 🤔

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Sep 9, 2023·edited Sep 9, 2023

🤬🖕

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You'll have to pardon my complete lack of sympathy in this case, I'm afraid.

So far as I can tell, this is the religious establishment reaping what they've sown. This is the result of insisting on cruel, dehumanizing, give to the rich and steal from the poor policies various conservative churches have been pushing for at least decades now. This is the result of mistreating several minorities for what appears to be the sake of soothing whiny children over their hurt fee-fees. This the the outcome for not denouncing the immoral behavior of the con men, abusers, and power/money chasers too often seen in positions of power in churches these days. This is also the consequence for failing to protest corporate America's rewriting of the legal landscape to remove employee protections to the point most working folks just don't have the time or energy to be a leader of anything. If your precious Jesus can't save you from yourselves, I'm not sure what the rest of us can be expected to do here.

Sure, current church leadership can complain that churches aren't doing enough to build new leaders if they want, but at the end of the day, the problem runs much, much deeper.

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"When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion." ~ Robert M. Pirsig

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What a heartbreaking story. Very sad. What's everyone having for lunch?

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I'm having spam spam spam spam spam spam spam beaked beans spam spam spam and spam!

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I'm having leftover Hyderabadi Chicken Curry with Basmati Rice ... YUM! 😋

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Yum! Can I get some?

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Next time you're in Cleveland, let me know, and my gal and I will take you to Paradise Indian Cuisine. Trust me when I say, THEY KNOW HOW!

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I’m there!

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In all seriousness, it would be our joy.

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I would be honored. I might make an excuse to get out there.

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Vegan dishes ?

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I'm pretty sure they have some vegan curries and biryanis. I lean to lamb / goat and chicken, myself. Hell, have a look:

https://www.paradiseindiancuisine.us/aurora/menu

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Interesting but two of my favorites, aloo and eggplant pakora, are not on the menus.

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" Paradise Indian Cuisine."

Where the Saag is green and the Naan is pretty?

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Frequently, the naan is GARLIC!

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I almost put garlicky, but changed my mind. I've got a good naan recipe, but most of my family prefers it without garlic.

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Nice!

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https://pin.it/5jMWgss

I’m having a salad.

ETA: I was disappointed in my salad, they gave me the wrong dressing, instead of a vinaigrette they gave me a sauce that was more of a tartar sauce not salad dressing. Ended up eating a dry salad. Where’s Loki with his drink box when you need him?

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Upstairs complaining he can see the bottom of his food bowl. (Loki is my cat's name)

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I had a dog named Loki.

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Thousand Island?

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Yuck! No.

It was like chicken tenders dipping sauce. Or fish. It was absolutely not a salad dressing, and I tried it to see if it would work, but nope.

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Leftover chicken stir-fry with peppers, onions, mushrooms, and celery.

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Dinner if I find the motivation and strength to get up from my bed. Even my favorite foods seem disgusting right now.

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I have breakfast for dinner every once in a while, but never lunch. : )

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I sometimes bring breakfast and lunch to work, depending on schedule. Today I brought some oatmeal for breakfast thinking I already had some leftovers here for lunch, but I ate lunch for breakfast and will end up eating breakfast for lunch. Who the hell knows what will happen for dinner.

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When we are on holiday I always go for the full English. Then I don't eat again until about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Then I have to skip dinner. But worth it.

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J'ai pas la référence.

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So cereal, à la 𝘚𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘧𝘦𝘭𝘥?

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Usually, waffles (sometimes eggs) and sausage. Not that there is anything wrong with cereal.

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Umm, Fruit Loops at 49?

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Sure, they're magically delicious. ; )

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A green salad with about a dozen tasty veggies and a smidgen of lemon juice and balsamic vinaigrette

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

No lunch but a dinner consisting of a Mini build your own garden salad at Mod Pizza. Also a Mini Mod build your own pizza along with milk and maybe a No Name Cake.

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Prosit!

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Footlong tuna from Subway, but I keep getting interupted.

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Just had Taco Bell. Probably leftover Double Dave's pizza for dinner. Or I might throw a couple of pre-made lean beef patties on the George Formen.

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nothing. I had a very big breakfast

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Leftover pizza, and some French apple cake I made the other day.

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The Joel Osteen's of the world are in the entertainment business, and religion is secondary. They put on a show, tell people what they want to hear, and rake in the cash. However, the further you go down the Christian food-chain the worse it seems to get. They're selling a product fewer and fewer people are buying. I have maintained for some time that organized religion is going to have a hard time surviving the internet with its influence intact. There is just too much easily accessible information to be had, and people all across the free-thought spectrum now realize they are not nearly as alone as they once thought. With every passing day, religion cedes ground they will never retake.

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But sometimes it seems to me that for every inch of ground they cede, they get a dozen more hateful, bigoted pieces of legislation passed, and another school district is thrown into chaos and left in shambles.

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Indeed. I think the churches are in the process of being distilled down to the true believers, and they are capable of rationalizing a justification for about anything.

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OT: Last night I watched the new Netflix documentary SCOUTS HONOR, about that pesky little kid-rape problem that forced the Scouts to declare bankruptcy. I was pleased that the film goes into the connections between the Scouts and organized religion (with the Mormons and the Catholics getting pride of place, of course), though I'd say it doesn't hammer the point home quite hard enough for me.

And the film points out, what a number of us have said in discussions here, that when a guilty organization declares bankruptcy, it serves the interests of that organization, NOT its victims. The victims, by and large, are shit out of luck.

The other thing that struck me is that the spokesman for the Scouts behaves remarkably like religious leaders when they're confronted with the horrible facts about their congregations. He smiles a lot, jokes a lot, laughs out loud a lot, deflects a lot, all in an effort to make the scandal seem trivial. His manner is so much like the "Provincial" of the Marianist order at the hearing into the two of his colleagues who assaulted me, it made my flesh creep.

I recommend the film to anyone interested (and has access to Netflix movies). But I'd watch on an empty stomach.

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

I posted the trailer for Scouts Honor here at FA some time back. I'm surprised Hemant never did a piece on this documentary. After all, the Scouts are a Christian organization.

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Their spokesman claims they're not. Surprised?

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AIUI, They claim it's a generic higher power (like AA), and not specifically Christian, but it's still a no truthful atheist club.

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He claims they severed all ties with religion decades ago. It's pure, unadulterated bullshit, like everything else he says. (The Scout oath, or motto, or whatever the hell they call it, still says "A scout is reverent," for instance. How many ways are there to interpret that? For instance, what the hell would a "reverent atheist" be?)

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I've felt a sense of breathless reverence when I've watched a particularly beautiful sunset a few times in my life. Does that count?

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Lying liar lies like a Christian.

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They should be experts at grooming by now.

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All that ANY religion has EVER had to offer is companionship with its professionals. But why shop there? There’s an even older profession that offers the same deal with much more reliable and satisfying results.

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Dionysiac revels, unlike christian services, really were the religion of love.

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That profession is still technically illegal in most of the country (damn prudes) and because of that too many are forced to be there rather than choosing to be there.

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I have an anecdotal story about my brother, who graduated with a Masters in theology (after getting a Bachelors in Chemistry), and wanted to become a pastor (he became "born again" while in college). He got a job running a church in a tiny town in eastern PA. His salary was a house to live in and $6000 a YEAR.

His wife had every intention of working, she had her own Bachelors and had already lined up a job, but the Deacons were horrified. "OH NO, a wife a of a pastor is too busy helping her husband running the church and taking care of her own duties (unpaid for, of course)!!"

He got out after a year and never looked back, ended up a Group Manager of a research team in a pharmaceutical company.

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

Good lord that's low.

My dad was on his church council when their current priest was hired. At his funeral, she told the story about how when he found out she was a single mom, he argued with the council and the congregation to *increase* her income beyond what the ELCA recommended or would contribute, and to make up the difference themselves, because he thought the recommended amount was too low as a single income to support a family. He won the argument. She remembered that as a big and nice deal, even decades later.

If the parish or denomination doesn't want the spouse to work, be willing to pay for it or live with the consequences. Yet they wonder why they're having trouble recruiting!

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There are SOME decent Christians out there. Sad fact is that the good ones don't get any airplay, because the idiots suck up all the oxygen.

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My ex's dad was forced out of his position as a Methodist minister because he's been too much time looking after old and frail parishioners and not enough time schmoozing the wealthy for donations and what have you. He was left on the bones of his arse because he'd had a low salary and always lived in a church house. To be fair, some of the parishioners got together and bought him a house when he left.

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Even for back then (early to mid 80s).

It was an odd little evangelical church (not too prevalent in eastern PA back then), so they were living on a shoestring, but still.

Best thing that happened to him, though. He still goes to church, but doesn't participate as much as he used to.

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I really don't see a problem here. The decline of religion, especially among the younger generations, means that there won't be a 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 for as many replacement pastors.

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They'd be learning real trades applicable to the modern world.

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Or maybe some of them will become decent therapists and child psychologists for all the LGBTQ kids being traumatized by the current religious/political climate. There be a HUGE need for them.

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Used car sales.

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

Don't remind me. I'm planning on going out to look at a used car in the morning. I like my 2-year-old Lincoln but the payments are killing me. A 4-5 year-old PHEV if the trade-in can bring the financing down to $10-12k would be worth it, but the fact that it was in an accident with some body damage (replaced with OEM parts by the dealership body shop) is apparently more important than mechanical soundness, low mileage and a good-looking exterior so seems to lower the value considerably, so it probably won't happen.

Edit: To clarify it was my current car that was in an accident, that appears to significantly (much more than I think is reasonable) lower the trade-in value.

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

Kinda like this guy? (from 4:20 to 7:15)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1Lvl0V1WHE

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Yes, but I like the car wash segment better.

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

First time I saw the Mighty Misdemeanor Motors ad, I couldn't stop laughing because it was so absurd. The fast talking conman kept going from one wreck to the next, each one worse than the last. XD

I got a kick out of the foreign imports before it. I could imagine myself locked in the gaze of the French one, mindlessly handing the salesman $100 after $100 from my wallet. :)

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I'm guessing that their current problems in finding new blood relate back to something Christian apologist Josh McDowell alluded to. He claimed that the Internet was the biggest threat to Christianity.

Christianity operates best in darkness. Throw a spotlight on it via knowledge and it skitters beneath the refrigerator.

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"Spotlight."

Heh. Good documentary!

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More docu-drama than documentary, but it could be argued that it's both. I have it on Blu-Ray. It pisses me off every time I watch it, but that's the point!

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I 'own' a digital copy. And yes, it is pretty emotional every time.

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I saw my Catholic neighbors headed out with their two young sons and a bunch of beach toys last Sunday morning. I think they've been paying attention!

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotlight_(film)

Scroll down to "Accolades." Wow.

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Cockroaches hate the light.

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Which is odd, considering that their own holy book talks about this matter:

𝐸𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑜 𝑑𝑜𝑒𝑠 𝑒𝑣𝑖𝑙 ℎ𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑓𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑑𝑒𝑒𝑑𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑏𝑒 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑒𝑑.

-- John 3:20

But then, they're not all that great about actually READING their holy book. 🤪

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

That was written at a time when the Christian sects were egalitarian communists trying to preach against the brutality of Imperial Rome. At that point, they probably *did* represent some social light against a pretty dark background.

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How times have changed, eh? 😔

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that was a looong time ago.

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in a galaxy far, far away.

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*cue John Williams theme*

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They give us the Sean Hannity deer-in-the-headlights look whenever we read them something for their sacred text they never new existed. Mainly because these pastors who can't find new recruits didn't bother to share it with them.

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"I imagine some young Christians don’t want to be a pastor for the same reason they don’t want to do PR for a tobacco company. Yeah, it’s a job, but everyone’s gonna look at you with suspicion."

Never mind being a pastor - depending on where you live, just identifying as a christian can net you the same reaction (happened to me once when I still considered myself a christian and attended church....and casually mentioned to a group of friends that this was why I would have to bow out of a planned Sunday outing. And this was decades ago, back in the late 80's - the time of the Bakkers, the Falwells, the Robertsons, etc. The group's attitude toward me subtly changed after that. If that had happened today rather than some 35-40 years ago, I imagine they would all take off running, and who could blame them?)

Christians have no one but themselves to blame. They've tainted their own brand with their obnoxious overreach, their blatant hypocrisy, their arrogance, their prideful and willful ignorance, their hate-filled rhetoric, their casual acceptance of violence against their enemies, their casual acceptance of rapists and pedophiles among their ranks, their vicious behavior toward anyone not like them, and their whole-hearted jumping into bed with the worst elements of extreme right-wing politicos for a chance to force their belief system on the entire country - a country they consider theirs and theirs alone by divine right.

When their leaders behave like the very worst swivel-eyed cartoon villains imaginable for all the world to see, it takes an astonishing dearth of self-awareness to NOT realize that this is why congregations are thinning out.

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The OTHER thing they've tainted themselves with is their utter failure to self-observe, criticize, and CORRECT. They have apparently figured that, so long as the general population doesn't mind what they're doing, they can just keep on keeping on and not bother with cleaning house.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking that mind set is on the clock, and there ain't a lot of time left for it.

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May their time run out soon before it's too late for everybody.

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Brava!

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>>> " Many of the most popular pastors in the country—the ones whose names you’ve heard of—aren’t in charge because of their theological degrees. They just know how to command a room..."

In a word: showbiz. But then, we're told that Jesus preached to multitudes, so I guess it makes sense for his adherents to follow suit.

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I think the unwillingness to adjust the most toxic parts of their platform led to many younger people losing interest. Who wants to be associated with a label stands for bigotry, racism, sexism, resistance to progress, etc? But the real killer was the embrace of Trump. In corporate terms, they suffered irreparable brand damage! Ironically, "pride comes before a fall" is biblical, and that was what did them in - believing their brand was strong enough to absorb Trumpism, when really his absorbed theirs. Now they are associated with Trumpian values, so it isn't too surprising young people want none of that! Just anecdotal, but I was in NYC, and walked past a large church in Manhattan as it was letting out. It was like something from a sci-fi movie set in a future where humans have become infertile and there are no young people! Granted, large, progressive city, but it was pretty eye opening.

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

A good sixty percent of Greek mythology concerns mortals who drank a little too deeply of their own hubris and came to grief because of it (the other forty percent being about the gods feuding, or else fucking anything with a pulse). Every belief system devotes considerable energy to warning its adherents about the dangers of being too prideful- none of 'em ever seem to get the message, though...

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P.D. James, "The Children of Men."

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Thanks! I'd only vaguely heard of it, so I googled and was fascinated. Just got on Amazon and ordered myself a copy!

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Not a happy little flick, but it is very well done.

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“It is becoming harder to find mature young Christians who want to be pastors.”

I'm sure finding immature young kkkristians who want to be pastors is no problem.

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They are the ones on YouTube.

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