Archive | October, 2009

Time and Life

What is time? Does it exist beyond the beginning and end of our universe? From the point of view of the universe there was no time ‘before’ it expanded from a singularity and there will be no time ‘after’ it collapses back into a singularity (that is, if it collapses back). But what about from a hypothetical point of view ‘outside’ the universe? Is there ‘time beyond time’? Ah, things too heavy to ponder on Halloween. How about we set that aside for now and shift to something more within our purview. Let’s talk about life – and ‘time beyond life’.

About 14 billion years ago, time began along with the Big Bang. That means we never existed for 14 billion years as far as the universe is concerned. We were practically dead. But then we are born and we live. And at the end of our lives we will become exactly what we were for the past 14 billion years: non-existent. Or will we?

While the term universe is often confused with space, it actually means space and time or the totality of space and time from the Big Bang to whatever scenario the universe ends into. The universe isn’t just the entire space at this very moment in time; it is the entire space for all the time it exists (note the present tense exists – the universe is present at every minute of its life). And so even after we die, as far as the universe is concerned we will always exist at a certain point in time and space. Points actually, one point for every infinitesimal fraction of every second of our lives.

But then the point is, as far as we are concerned we cease to exist after we die, unless there is life after death. But if there is none, then those we leave behind – our surviving families, friends, and those whose lives we’ve touched – their memories of us will be the only witnesses to our existence. And after they too will all be gone, only the universe will have a record that we once lived.

And if the universe would one day cease to exist, I wonder if there is something beyond to observe all the events from the universe’s birth to its death, capturing the universe’s life and every life it supported – and how each of those lives struggled for survival, evolved, and lived; each joy and each suffering, each triumph and each defeat – immortalizing everything in a ‘time beyond time’.

Posted in Science19 Comments

Of things concerning rock, paper, scissors, and other weapons

One of the common ways to decide things, or to just have fun with just your body parts is using the hand game jan-ken-pon or more commonly known in English as rock-paper-scissors. It’s quite a decision making tool, and it has been used in auctions and by CEOs in their companies to make decisions. This article is about the hand game, how to relatively improve it, and how to add some spices to it as well 😉

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Posted in Entertainment, Humor, Media, Personal, Pictures, Religion, Society8 Comments

Will to be Whole

Oh you being of the heavens, I am praying
In the middle of the battlefield of my soul
I am crying, can you hear me?
Can you see me in pain?
Holding on to the will to be whole

I’m not asking for mercy or forgiveness
Or to help me out of the darkness I’m in
I’m not asking for strength
Or for some kind of courage
Not even to deliver me from sin

Here I’m standing proud like the sun
Hidden behind the gray clouds of rain
I am standing to show you
That despite all my tears
I am willing to endure all these pain

I don’t blame you for the fire that I’m treading
For the evil companions serving guide
Save me if you wish to
Yet I shall not praise you
But I’m grateful that you’re always by my side

Watch me, I shall show you I am worthy
Of the friendship you endlessly give
It might take a while
But someday I shall smile
Not afraid to continue to live

Oh my friend in the heavens, I am saying
I’m standing on the battlefield of my soul
While I’m crying and bleeding
While I’m drowning in my pain
I shall hold on to the will to be whole

Posted in Entertainment, Personal, Poetry, Religion0 Comments

I Just Want Him Safe

I call to you to keep him safe
Are you listening to me?
I want you watching him
Because I can’t
I’m just a helpless girl
Who doesn’t know a thing
About prayer
Well, I’m praying now
Desperately

I call to you to keep him safe
Are you listening to me?

Do I have the right to pray
So doubtfully like this?
There’s no one else to turn to
And I’m afraid
Please make him strong enough
To be alright
Please get him through the night
While I pray in half-belief
To the one he trusts completely

Do I have the right to pray
So doubtfully like this?

Allow me to pretend
To believe and trust you
That’s the best I could attempt
To fight the haunting thoughts
Of his body on the pavement
Lifeless, breathless, cold
Imagination unfolds
And I’m trembling
I’m afraid to lose him

Please allow me to pretend
To believe and trust you

Allow me to embrace
This flicker of faith
There’s this hollow feeling
Of not knowing
And I can’t find someone else to run to
So pardon me if I call you
I mean no disrespect
I’m just a helpless girl
Who’s so afraid

So allow me to embrace
This flicker of faith

I just want him safe.

(This poem was written in September 2003, when I was struggling with being an Agnostic. Photo was taken by me on one of my trips to Japan.)

Posted in Entertainment, Personal, Poetry, Religion5 Comments

Open Letter to the CBCP by Poch Suzara

I would like to share a thought-provoking letter by Mr. Poch Suzara, author of the atheist-oriented blog Thoughts To Provoke Your Thoughtsb636d2b53740d0bd8f7ae65647fa095e-grande, addressing the absurdities of CBCP and the gullibility of Filipinos when comes to religion.

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Open Letter to the CBCP

My Dear Catholic Bishops,

I should wish to share with you words from a psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, author of THE ROAD LESS TRAVEL. It is a bit about psychiatry at its best on top of Christianity at its worst:

“The learning of something new requires a giving up of the old self and a death of outworn knowledge. To develop a broader vision we must be willing to forsake, to kill, our narrower vision. In the short run it is more comfortable not to do this – to stay where we are, to keep using the same microcosmic map, to avoid suffering the death of cherished notions. The road to spiritual growth, however, lies in the opposite direction. We begin by distrusting what we already believe, by actively seeking the threatening and the unfamiliar, by deliberately challenging the validity of what we have previously been taught and hold dear. The path to holiness lies through questioning EVERYTHING.”

Well, in our sick society today, if we question the evils of corruption, we find that corruption is not a political or a legal or a medical issue. Corruption is a moral issue. During these past centuries under Christian authority, hasn’t it been your sole responsibility to shepherd the flock, to be in charge of the teachings of moral values? Especially to establish self-respect and human dignity as the foundation of a healthy and a sane society? Why is it that after 400 years of Christianity solidly established in this country, tens of millions of Filipinos in this 21st century continue to experience interior emptiness, still thirsting for some form of spirituality? No doubt, we still have deep faith in the holy Trinity known as the “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit,” but in our race to achieve a higher standard of living as a people, and to accomplish a higher standard of thinking as a nation – where is the Holy Trinity on our side as our “Creator,” “Redeemer,” and the “Sustainer?”

For my part, as a humanist, I embrace morality as one of the greatest of human values. Not, however, superstitious morality. I do not do good because there is a greater power out there who will reward me for my goodness after death. On the contrary, I do good precisely because of what’s higher and greater than me, namely, – my family, my country, and indeed, this planet earth as the home of humanity.

I duly recognize that there is little difference between the goals of the Christians and the humanists. We both value helping others. But as a humanist I am drawn to this goal out of unselfish love and empathy – which arises from education in rationality. As a humanist my goal in life is to try and spread the virtues of felicity via intellectual growth and maturity. Indeed, to keep ignited the torch of enlightenment. To see things now as they will seem forever, – “in the light of eternity.”

The Christian, however, is driven to it out of fear for his own eternal welfare. For the Christian, helping others is not an end in itself, but only a means of saving himself from damnation.

As a humanist I realize that I could be mistaken about what is best for my fellow-Filipinos; so I am willing to listen to criticism. I am willing to have my ideas torn apart and will listen to the power of reason.

The Christian, however, cannot admit that his ideas of right and wrong might be mistaken, because to doubt would imperil his immortal soul. He must have faith in Christian doctrines – out of fear of eternal torture if he does not. He must be anti-intellectual in order to maintain his faith – out of fear of torture if he does not. And he must never doubt that his action is correct – again out of fear of torture if he does not.

What is happening to us, I ask? Why is it that we Filipinos do not, and cannot as yet enjoy social unity, moral sanity, and political maturity in our own country? We only continue to be a people of childish followers; hardly a nation of intelligent thinkers as leaders. Why is it that in this day and age, under your moral guidance and inspiration, we Filipinos only continue to believe that human life is but a defect, and that we must only live our lives seeking not reconstruction, but only obliteration!

My dear bishops, as citizens of our country, isn’t it time for you to take a deeper look at our spiritually poor and morally bankrupt nation – the Philippines – the only Christian country in Asia since 400 years ago? No doubt, Christianity has been a great success. But what has been a greater success, however, is the Filipino way of life. We are still faithful to a higher power out there, but paying for it at a expensive price down here: the horrors of spiritual corruption, moral degradation, economic stagnation, political delusion, educational deception, not to mention the lack of national health, hygiene, and sanitation in our country everywhere!

In the final analysis, I say it again: it is time for us Filipinos to stop fooling around with our silly “free will” for the sake of heavenly salvation. We should, instead, begin to believe and have faith in our intelligent “good will,” especially for one another for the sake of Philippine civilization?

Yours sincerely,
Poch Suzara, Phsdo

Posted in Politics, Society17 Comments

Posting Guidelines

TheFaulknerPortable (Medium)

image by Gary Bridgman

Here are a few guidelines for posting:

  1. Revise and proofread. Use the built-in Word spell- and grammar-check functions. Or try this free online tool.
  2. Add a picture. Don’t link to an image. Upload one and insert it into your post.
  3. Categorize and tag. Be frugal with categories, but go wild with tags. Do not create new categories. You can create new tags, but be sure there isn’t a close enough equivalent — use the Choose from the most used tags in Post Tags link, or wait for auto-complete to suggest possible tags.

Follow them and we’ll feature you on the that slide thing on the home page. But more importantly, readers will enjoy your stuff even more. (Ok, the picture on the slide thing is actually more important. It really looks bad when the post doesn’t have a picture, plus you can’t click on them to go to the post.)

P.S. We are working on a better review process, but for now, these guidelines will do. And thanks to our prolific authors for making it worth the effort to post about posting guidelines 😉

Posted in Announcements, Organization5 Comments

Forsaken

I don’t even know you’re there
But somehow you show me that you care
Forsaken – what I ought to be
Yet without you there, you seem to comfort me

I’ve committed terrible disgrace
Can’t excuse myself with “It’s only a phase”
Forsaken – what I ought to be
Yet for countless times you seem to shelter me

I find myself in the dark
And I won’t even call your name
But for some unknown reason
You give me something to breathe on
And I realize you’re there just the same

People treat you like a king
People see you as some sort of savior
I don’t see you that way
Would you be mad
Or would that be okay?

I criticize those who praise you
Don’t even know if I believe you’re true
Forsaken – what I ought to be
I don’t call, yet you’re there for me

Don’t know if I consider you a friend
I even laugh at you every now and then
Forsaken – what I ought to be
And what exactly did you see in me?

I find myself in the dark
And I won’t even call your name
But for some unknown reason
You give me something to live on
And I realize you’re there just the same

People treat you like a king
People see you as some sort of savior
I don’t see you that way
Would you be mad
Or would that be okay?

I don’t know what I am to you
Don’t know if I even give you what is due
Why aren’t you forsaking me?
Perhaps you’re really who I believed you to be

People treat you like a king
People see you as some sort of savior
I don’t see you that way
Would you be mad
Or would that be okay?

But I know for sure that it would be okay.

(This poem – meant to be a song – was written in April 2003, when I was struggling with being an Agnostic.)

Posted in Entertainment, Poetry, Religion2 Comments

The Boss

Rule # 1: The Boss is always right.
Rule# 2: When the Boss is wrong, refer to Rule # 1.

For as long as the order is not illegal or immoral, it is poor judgment to defy or even question the Boss. Because even if your immediate boss is not the Boss or the owner/chief executive of the company, you are answerable only to your direct boss, just as he/she is answerable only to his/her immediate boss. So if you think that a certain order is counterproductive and not in the company’s best interest, you still have to obey it, because whether it turns out to be a good or bad move, in the eyes of higher management credit and accountability belong to your boss, and you will be rated by your boss based on how closely you followed his/her instructions regardless of the result. You can point out the disadvantages of his/her plan though, especially if your opinion was sought, but your boss has the final word.

That’s in the corporate world. Now for the spiritual world, a lot of people believe in a Big Boss up there. The problem is we have not seen or heard from this Boss, and a lot of people claim that they have direct instructions from Him that we must follow lest we not only get fired from the company but also get fried for eternity.

In the corporate world, if the Boss is out of the country and a co-worker tells you that the Boss called him and gave instructions for you, if you follow him you will not be putting your trust in the Boss but in your co-worker, believing that what he said is true and didn’t maliciously make it up. However, you can verify this by calling the Boss long distance or by other means of communication. More commonly, before the Boss leaves the country he would make it clear who will be in charge during his absence or if he will be giving his future instructions through a certain officer.

In the spiritual world, there was no endorsement from the Boss. However, some people claim that they are special representatives or ministers of the Boss, and sadly a lot of people quickly believe them.

In the corporate world, even if you were so low in the organization that you don’t even know who the Big Boss is, as long as you are receiving your paycheck for doing what your immediate boss tells you, you know that you are working in a real company.

In the spiritual world, the ‘paycheck’ is eternal life – or more precisely, salvation from eternal damnation. No one has ever seen this paycheck yet, but the fear of not receiving it at the end of earthly life scares a lot of people into believing and obeying whatever the ‘ministers’ say, including, “Your money doesn’t really belong to you, but to the Boss. Give it to me so I can return it to Him.”

Posted in Religion5 Comments

Philippine Historians' Dilemma: What is Philippine Culture?

Bourdaine’s episode in No Reservations about the Philippines quite adequately describes the reality of the culture.

Culture is described by, quite simply, “how we do things” (and all the existential iterations of the idea). Philippine culture is highly stratified by its economic classes, regions and the way different cultures (western, Chinese, and Muslim) affects each of these classes.

You can even say we are the Asian equivalent of America, where you have the largest variety of race, ethnic cultural variety living in one nation. We were malays, impregnated by the Spanish, the Sepoys (Rape of Manila by the British), the Dutch (dutch colony what now is in River Side Marikina), the Japanese (19th century colony of San Miguel, and the Japanese Occupation), and America.

The same traits that make Filipinos so easy to get along with foreigners are the very traits that make Filipinos cultural versatile, and this is the lack of a strong dominant culture. Although, you can make that leap that our “Meta-culture” is not having a culture at all.

In my opinion of what constitutes a Culture can be found in origins in History. Culture is formed over time and practice. It is a method of transmitting values and ways of thinking. Seeing the evidence in our cultural versatility- Philippine Culture is about having No strong commitment to any particular Manner of Living.

Unfortunately, the adaptive culture idea doesn’t really count because there is no active and conscious effort to make it a practice and tradition. By tradition, the Philippines is a Western (Spanish/American) Christian Culture derivative. Unfortunately, Spanish culture only affected the Upper Class and the Lower Class was left to develop its own servile culture based on what the Spanish Aristocracy wanted out of them. (to be humble, servile, conscious of saving face and appearance, and with a strong sense of debt to what ever scraps their masters saw fit to give them).

Actively Filipinos try to work within what their parents think their tradition should be (most of the time based on the Spanish’s familial culture) and try to make it work with what Modern thought and practicality. This is where things get very messy, because the line of “cultural evolution” is heavily interrupted by technological innovation.  Religious and family traditions that cannot some times adapt to these barrage of alien ideals.

I want Philippine culture to actively play the game General Antonio Luna intended: to Adapt, Pander, Innovate and Push forward (his strategy of playing off all the Empire builders). If Philippine culture were to learn its foundation in its diversity. If we could embrace our Bastard nature, then we will not hold on to tradition merely on merit of sentimentality, instead we will create and innovate traditions based on their merits, effectiveness, ability to communicate and connect all generations.

Such a culture will share the Ideals of the past and adapt them according to the revelation of the future. Creating an unbroken chain of growth and identity for generations to come.

Posted in Personal, Society1 Comment

According to Bacon

I have not saw any atheist sites who have tackled Francis Bacon’s quote about atheism and philosophy. Well sino nga ba naman si Bacon? But maybe because I am more interested in philosophy than science eh I was affected by Bacon’s quote. (For your information, I’m not talking about Kevin Bacon puh…leeees!)

According to Francis Bacon, “It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.”

Well…I posted the quote in Yahoo!Answer to find some reactions to fellow atheists. Obviously, there are some useless answers posted…but this one answer has catches my attention.

From student_of_life: I would point to all the great minds that have been atheist or atheistic. Epicurus, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Darwin, Einstein (since his and Spinoza’s pantheism is practically atheism), and nearly all the philosophers of the 20th century. If I were to give a sympathetic reading to this quote, I would take what Bacon means by “religion” is not actually the dogmatic religions
of much of the world. It is, in this reading, a religious viewpoint which appreciates the world, is in awe over the simplest of natural objects, and constantly aware of the mystery of existence, not taking life for granted.

If this is what is meant by “religion” I would agree. Religion is not religious. In fact even the great thinkers who have belonged to religions often have had highly unorthodox religious beliefs.

So if one (mis)reads Bacon to be advocating dogmatic religions, one has a hard time actually coming up with supporting evidence. Most great thinkers have rejected orthodox dogmas. In any case, it is always a mistake to base very much on one sentence took out of context, no matter who uttered it.

Hmmmmmm….most Christians or mystics who would like to use Bacon’s quote should think twice. First, we really do not have any proof that Bacon is talking about organized and dogmatic religion. Second, we know that there are religions out there that do not have a god-concept like Buddhism and Jainism.

That just straightens the facts. So to you religious guys out there, before you use Bacon, make sure it is not as greasy as it looks.

Posted in Religion3 Comments

Atheistic Spirituality

spiritualityI once have a very pleasant tête-à-tête with a certain Canadian. This Canadian guy is a Methodist but what strikes me about him is his resentment with religion. Well, he never really said that religion pisses him off…but you can catch him on how he talks about religion. He keeps saying that religion is nothing more but symbols and practices. I can agree with his observations.

The conversation leads us to the subject of spirituality. He was surprised to learn that I am an atheist and keep asking me why I should label myself as an atheist. Well, that will be tackled in another subject. Anyway, he asked me if I believe that everything is all just about the physical reality and if I believe in the realm beyond the physical reality. Such question arises if the person asking question considers atheism is just mere materialism.

The concept of reality really varies but it’s not a matter of personal choice. Reality must be independent with human opinion, that is the rule, but sometimes human opinion creates his own “reality.” If you asked a person who believes in metaphysical mumbo-jumbos about reality, it would have been obvious for him to explain reality base on the belief system he accepted as true. He will describe a reality which includes parallel universes, invisible territories and palace in the sky. That is his reality. Some will even say to you that reality is just an illusion. Rationalist will say that reality is what the mind perceives and so on. So it seems “reality” vs. “what is real” is not really the same.

This Canadian guy seems not very familiar about the difference between abstract realities versus concrete realities. Well, he still clings with the supernatural so it’s an obvious reaction. He asked me “if everything is physical, what happened to love, emotions, beauty and pain?” He thinks that these are set from realities different and separated with the physical plane. Most people who are into esoteric teachings think that way. A kind of mind over matter stuffs. Abstract ideas are not independent to the material brain. You need a brain to perceive love, pain, beauty and emotion. These abstract things will not exist without the material brain and the material humans to interpret them.

He asked me if I derided the word “spirituality” and was surprising on my response. I have my spirituality and spirituality does not require a belief in a god or gods. Hmmmmm…maybe you are also been bolted from the blue with my answer?

You do not need to believe in a god to have a spirit. Ep! Ep! Ep! Not so fast! You think that when I speak about spirit, I am talking about this invisible, disemboweled, supernatural entities that comes out of a person when he died huh? Nope, the word “spirit” has other meaning.

The word spirit can also mean the fundamental emotional and activating principle determining one’s character; it’s not just about ghost. The best meaning I read so far about the word “spirit” is that the “spirit” is the “I” of the individual. It’s the one that makes him uniquely compares to everyone else.

Spirituality is a very misunderstood term. Most of us believe that the term spirituality means going to church every Sunday or spirituality is only achieved when someone read the Tanack, the Bible or the Quoran. Spirituality is a way of life. That every person is looking for happiness, you are entering the realm of spirituality. You are sitting alone in an empty room listening to your favorite music that is spirituality. As you are looking at your favorite artwork, eating your favorite food, talking to your friends or even doing your favorite house chore that is spirituality.

Spirituality transcends mere religion. It is a question of individual inspiration rather than external practices and rituals. It is the recognition of your identity as a conscious being. Spirituality does not necessary mean a search for the existence of a god. On the contrary, spirituality is more searching for the “I” on an individual. Spirituality is more of an inner affair. Spirituality is the search of your uniqueness as an individual. Religion tends to make spirituality from outside source. Priests and pastors teach their adherents that we can get spirituality from reading the Bible, going to church and doing good deeds. Some even says that spirituality is solely a religious term. Today believers look for “spirituality” at books written by men from the past, outside their time and space. It is not found on the pages of those books, nor is it found on what the priests or pastors discourse. It is found inside the person who is reading the book or the one who is listening to the priests. Spiritual experience comes from within you. It is your craving for knowledge, your desire for love, your experience and search for happiness. It seems that a person who connects spirituality on his religion is more lost than an atheist who accepts the wonder and beauty of his life.

Carl Sagan once said in his book “The Demon-Hunted World” that even science can be a profound source of spirituality. When we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that souring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is truly spiritual.

Spirituality is not mere faith. Unlike faith, spirituality is not an assurance of something or a hope for anything. Spirituality is embedded to anyone’s consciousness. It’s neither about Descartes’ dualism nor Christian tradition of the separation of mind and body. Years of research have already done away with it. Spirituality is about identity. The Buddhists even treat the subject of spirituality to be rigorously empirical not just a statement of metaphysics.

So now you know why an atheist like me still has a sense of spirituality.

Posted in Personal, Religion6 Comments

Freethinkers in the Philippines?

When I was still a child back in the small town of Tinajeros, Malabon, I am as deeply religious as the ordinary Filipino. We all grow up knowing God. In fact, it is very impossible to imagine a Filipino not believing God and the church. God and church are an important part of the Philippine society.

Freethinking is not a part of the Filipino vocabulary. There is no translation available. If you deny the church’s doctrines and dogma you are denying the irrefutable. To a typical Filipino, the pronouncement of the church is undeniable.

Since childhood, I have been thought that there are four pillars of society, namely the family, the school, the church and the government. Yep! THE CHURCH. The church is a part of the Philippine society. We are made to believe that moral and values are impossible without the church, without God!

So where did this idea lead us? The government is still known to be the most corrupt in this corner of the globe. Crime rate is still high. As Philippine economy goes down the drain, and Filipino politicians are pulling each other’s leg, the church keeps blessing the guy who they think they can use. “Oh my papaya! This idea has degenerated the Filipinos to become non-thinking automation, whose only sense of hope is through prayers.

The Filipino: As a non-thinking culture.
If you go to this country every Holy Week, you will notice how Filipinos try to redeem themselves from sin. Sin from what? How do self-flagellation will clean my nation? Can those people think of anything more useful? What useless act of theatrics can achieve for my country?

Since the beginning, Filipinos have let everything to God and fate. It has been the idea ever since, that God will always show the Filipino the way. “Ika nga, Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa Tao ang gawa.” So as a society, the Filipinos have never taken anything that they think may endanger their belief seriously. For example, we now have prayer rallies. Well I really do not know what the significance of these actions is, but I think it has something to do with good governance. WHAT!!!! Heck, like God can do something to show us how to run the government. The dumb nut they called God, cannot even create a foolproof plan. So much on being omnipotent.

In the Philippines, science is just considered a child’s plaything. We never took our inventors thoughtfully. Heck! We even do not support them. Filipino inventors lack the support from the Philippine government. Some surveys, found out, that Filipino never really read books except for comics and the Bible. Well, too much “telenovelas” I suppose.

Now look at us as people…a government in shambles, all leaches trying to step on each other’s head. (Religious leaders included. Diba Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Bro. Mike Villarde?) Ah! The church! Even this so-called church is running to grab power and money. There goes the separation of church and state.

What did it bring the Filipinos?

“If you take away my God, what will you replace it with?”
Now, if you try to take away this “God” to the mind of the Filipinos, what is left?
Hmmmmm….. The question was asked on my last debate to a Christian fundy.
In a desperate answer, my rival asked me, “What will you replace God if you take it away from me?”
But Sir, I responded back, “I’m just giving you something that was taken from you by these pastors.”
“And what is it.” He sneered as a retort.
I smiled at him and said, “Your ability to think.”

The Filipino people are losing hope, and God is the representation of this lost hope. That is why they are holding at it very tightly. The problem is, instead of finding the solution; they just hang into that image.

Rationality is spreading all over Asia. People are starting to work for solutions rather relying on prayers. Unfortunately, to the Filipinos it’s the other way around.

Freethinking is still not for every Filipino. Maybe some of us Filipino Freethinkers are in a wrong place and in the wrong time.When are we are going to wake up? When will be the right place and the right time?

Today is the right time and this is the right place! Perhaps someday more Filipinos will wake from this deep slumber and let rationality make the call.

Posted in Society4 Comments

L2MF Post #03: On Church Offerings and Charitable Donations

Dear Dad,

I listened to the sermon in Mum’s church two weeks ago and the topic was about giving offerings (i.e. tithes) to the church.

According to church doctrine, one of the duties of a church member is to give offerings. Though this is a feature that is common to all Christian denominations, I would like to concentrate on the giving of offerings within my Mum’s church.

You know that in the early years of your marriage, Mum persuaded you to listen to the doctrines of the church through regular Bible studies. However, you have decided to stop attending those studies because you found that her church and its doctrines were not to your liking.

In one of our family dinners, you have mentioned your opinion about the church’s finances. (I’d rather not mention it here.) Thanks to you, I have felt the urge to question church doctrines and take them with a grain of salt.

In this letter, I will mention the Biblical bases of giving offerings (according to how the sermon was delivered).

Why give offerings?

Therefore, through him let us always bring God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.

Do not neglect to do good and to be generous, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.

— Hebrews 13:15-16 ISV

But isn’t it just a doctrine written by man?

For I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin.

For I did not receive it from a man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that person be condemned!

— Galatians 1:11-12, 8 ISV

How should one give offerings?

Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.

Each of you must give what you have decided in your heart, not with regret or under compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.

— II Corinthians 9:6,7 ISV

Where do the collected monetary offerings go?

1. To provide for the needs of the ministers

In the same way, the Lord has ordered that those who proclaim the gospel should make their living from the gospel.

— I Corinthians 9:14 ISV

The ministers are not allowed to have other means of earning money (e.g. job with a salary, business) except through preaching and other church work. In local church jargon, it is called “tulong” (financial assistance). It was based on a law made by Moses.

For in the law of Moses it is written, “You must not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” God is not only concerned about oxen, is he?

Isn’t he really speaking on our behalf? Yes, this was written on our behalf, because the one who plows should plow in hope, and the one who threshes should thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.

— I Corinthians 9:9-10 ISV

However in the next verse (which was not mentioned by the minister during the sermon), I have read:

If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap material benefits from you?

— I Corinthians 9:11 ISV

It was then backed up by another verse:

For everyone must carry his own load.

The person who is taught the word should share all his goods with his teacher.

— Galatians 6:5-6 ISV

2. To provide for the needs of the church and the ministry

For this ministry you render is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but it is also overflowing with more and more prayers of thanksgiving to God.

Because of the proof that this service of yours brings, you will glorify God because of your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and because of your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else.

— II Corinthians 9:12-13 ISV

According to church doctrine, the monetary offerings are used to provide for the needs of the church, for the administrative expenses, and for evangelical missions. In this era of technological advancement, the church uses print media, radio, television, and the Internet to spread the gospel, and that needs money. (Yes Dad, they have a radio and TV station.)

3. To build houses of worship

Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, says the LORD.

— Haggai 1:8 UKJV

The church buys an area of land where a building (or buildings which include offices and houses for resident ministers) will stand. The church also buys building materials, pays the laborers, and provides for the maintenance of the buildings and the things used in the church.

I asked myself, “Why would God, a being who had the power to create planets and galaxies, need a man-made house here on Earth?” There are a lot of homeless people due to poverty and natural and man-made disasters. They do need houses.

The “carrot and stick”

For he will repay everyone according to what that person has done:

eternal life to those who strive for glory, honor, and immortality by patiently doing good;

but wrath and fury for those who in their selfish pride refuse to believe the truth and practice wickedness instead.

There will be suffering and anguish for every human being who practices doing evil, for Jews first and for Greeks as well.

But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who practices doing good, for Jews first and for Greeks as well.

—Romans 2:6-10 ISV

The “good” being referred to is, again, the duty of giving monetary offerings.

And finally, the last reading of the sermon:

How to show devotion?

Never be lazy in showing such devotion. Be on fire with the Spirit. Serve the Lord.

Be joyful in hope, patient in trouble, and persistent in prayer.

Supply the needs of the saints. Extend hospitality to strangers.

—Romans 12:11-13 ISV

This only means that church members should always do their duties, which includes the giving of monetary offerings.

My Conclusion

Being a cheerful giver is nice, but I’d rather give to those who really need the money. God does not need money and houses, people do.

There are a lot of people who lost their homes and livelihood to typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng and they are in need of help. For me, helping them through donations and volunteer work is the way to go. The church can thrive even if I choose to divert my charity pesos or dollars to worthy causes.

efore, through him let us always bring God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.

Do not neglect to do good and to be generous, for God is pleased with such sacrifice

(J) The Freethinking Geek

Posted in Personal, Religion2 Comments

Children’s Choice

mamas-boyHoly Mother Church: that’s how Catholics call the organization sometimes, never minding the fact that females are never allowed to rule it.

The Priests are referred to as father but I wonder why because they are neither a parent nor gods to deserve the title.

So it’s not surprising that the Church invoked the analogy of a parent giving advice to a child; rather, a parent choosing for a child regarding matters like this controversy over the Reproductive Health Bill. In their minds it’s enough to trample on the principle of separation of church and state (a principle their European counterparts seem to abide by) when the child, in this case the Philippines, needs to be straightened out.  Never mind if the surveys say a growing number want the bill to be passed, a parent should correct a child.

And never mind that we are not 100% catholic.

I suppose the first question would be who made them the parents.  Is it just because the Roman Catholic Church is the most powerful group in a predominantly Christian nation?  But we are not all catholic, we are not all religious; surely no child should follow someone who is not his parent.

Adapted child perhaps?  Maybe forcibly kidnapped is the word.

But ok, let’s give the parent analogy a chance.  How can the wishes and the views of a parent be so wrong however nagging and out of touch it may seem at some point.

It is hard to argue with a parent and we have all been there; a child with a mother and father. We have never gone astray with the choices our parents have made for us. Of course as a child we’ve never agreed to it, having little choices for the issues close to our hearts, but it played out well in the end.

We are where we are now because of our parents ‘nosing’ in our business.

And these choices are one or more of the following. I am not a parent admittedly but I was a son, also I have met other parents and I’m friends with people who are parents.

The choices include little things and big things such as: name, religion; time to sleep; clothes to wear; school to study in; going to school on a rainy day; brush their teeth or just watch TV and save it for the next morning; food to eat; course to take in college; places to go on weekends; friends; boyfriends/girlfriends; curfew; career….

The list goes on depending on the parent; depending on the style of parenting. While some of the above mentioned choices may be left to children, it is not too much to presume that had they made a bad one (or anything they disagreed with) the parents will be hot on their heels in correcting it.

They are good choices all, but then again maybe some of them went wrong.  And even if you disagreed with any in this list you are at least aware that good intentions were always behind in making it. There is nothing wrong in what parents do. There is nothing wrong in what motivates them.

In seeing that could it be enough to explain the passion of the Roman Catholic Church regarding this issue of birth control: a distraught parent correcting an errant child?  Should we accept the encroachment on national policy based on that analogy alone? For how can a parent be wrong in making their presence felt.  As for me, if I had known what I know now when I was 6 years old I might have yes all the way to what my parents wanted.

However, if you look at the analogy of parent and child from the point of view of just the child and there you will see what is wrong.

What does it say of the child who always depends on the decisions parents make?

If the child is young nothing at all, the child is just a child.  No expectations of greatness or criticisms of insufficiency.   But like any repetitive exercise it gets old like a child gets old.  When a certain age is reached then comes the more hurtful terms like mama’s boy or papa’s boy.

What truly makes a child great; what makes children bad; what makes people of value to society or a good human being; (and ok let’s do the church’s point of view) what makes them a good Christian, are the choices they made on their own.

Maybe you can call it an informed choice because parent’s opinions are always welcome and weighed along with others, but a choice made alone (for good or bad) is still of greatest value.

Outside of that a child is just a child.

So in the light of the Church’s encroachment on national policy like the RH Bill, you may have heard the Philippines being called the sick man of Asia, well this time try Mama’s Boy or maybe Papa’s boy since the Catholic Church is headed by a Pope.

But if you are truly upset on the encroachment there is still a better term for the Philippines: Retarded.

Also posted in my blog.

Posted in Religion, Society8 Comments

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