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FF Special (Audio) – Nicole Curato on Religion in Public Life

FF Special (Audio) – Nicole Curato on Religion in Public Life

Nicole Curato

This week, we have a special episode featuring sociologist Nicole Curato. She talks about the role of religion in public life.

This was recorded on January 4, 2014 during the first Filipino Freethinkers meetup of the year.

You may also download the podcast file here.




Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, Religion, Society0 Comments

FF Special – Nicole Curato on Religion in Public Life

FF Special – Nicole Curato on Religion in Public Life

This week, we have a special episode featuring sociologist Nicole Curato. She talks about the role of religion in public life.

This was recorded on January 4, 2014 during the first Filipino Freethinkers meetup of the year.

You may also download the episode file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

FF Podcast 27: MMFF and Fired for Trying Out Atheism

FF Podcast 27: MMFF and Fired for Trying Out Atheism

We return for our first podcast of 2014! This week, we talk about the Metro Manila Film Fest and the quality of its films (or lack thereof). Then we talk about Ryan Bell, the pastor/professor who was fired for “trying out” atheism.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Entertainment, Media, Podcast, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

Doge and Lazy Cynicism

Doge and Lazy Cynicism

In Grand Theft Auto V, Trevor Philips complains, “sarcasm is the blight of this country.” This is especially ironic, given that the GTA series is an often unsubtle satire of America and pop culture. Despite this, Trevor is well-aimed in his self-aware shot at the cynicism that has become the sickness of our times.

GTAV topped not a few 2013 Game of the Year lists, but 2013 also brought to our collective attention a pop culture fad that captured the spirit of lazy cynicism—Doge.

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This innocent Shiba Inu seized our lives in 2013. The appeal is not puzzling. Doge is a fat dog with a dopey grin: surrounded by purposefully bad spelling and grammar in reviled Comic Sans colored text. The meme has all the makings of funny.

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Doge has strange origins, but it has come to its essential form as a dog having awkward inner monologue. This usually involves dealing with the consequences of doggy mischief.

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But, as memes are inclined, they mutate, they adapt to their environments—they evolve. And in the competition for limited mindshare, Doge became 2013’s apex predator. Doge now feasts on the overflowing sustenance provided by impotent social media rage*.

In the exclusive club of people who are perpetually unimpressed, Doge has developed into the secret handshake of inarticulate cynics. Starting off as hapless absurdity, doge captions have detached from the image and now entirely compose what are apparently serious critiques of politicians and crummy social circumstances. Conflicts between people that used to be addressed with thinly veiled passive aggressive sentences, now enjoy the concise convenience of, “wow. such stupid. much bad.”

As with sarcasm, the snappy potshots in Doge meme form leave much of the content up to the reader to piece together. After all, how much information can you really derive from “wow. much injustice. very surveillance” that you didn’t already know on your own? There is, of course, a time and a place for sarcasm, but it is worrisome when such things take frequent precedence over fully professed opinions that may often be half-baked, but put enough out there for others to take apart and improve.

Granted, the validity of criticism is not rooted in the wordiness of a diatribe (like this piece you are reading). But, the prolificness of the Doge shorthand has diminished what could otherwise be expressions of original and piercing insights. Using Doge as a constant crutch, we can snipe at things without fear of serious rebuttal. After all, it’s just a stupid joke. In Internet parlance, the abundance of Doge-form criticisms makes up an exasperated circlejerk. People validate each other’s opinions so throughly that they don’t even have to articulate the substance of their beliefs. You already know their opinion: it’s whatever yours is!

Steve StockmanThomas Massie

In the evolution of Doge, it adapted to our shared fear of rejection for being different. When the fad sours, as all memes inevitably do, something else will occupy Doge’s mental niche. We will then use some new catchphrase to signal to each other, “It’s safe to come out. Nobody here will challenge what you say. Everyone here believes the same things you do.” And when that happens, it will reveal that it is not poor Doge that’s really to blame for lazy cynicism—it’s our own self-imposed intellectual exile.

The use of Doge as ironic shorthand often comes from genuine idealism, if exhausted and bruised from constant defeat. This leaves us to find comfort hiding behind memes, in the safety of our self-made social media bubbles, where we only read and interact with people we already agree with and never expose our ideas to criticism.

*Incidentally, Impotent Rage is a cartoon you can watch inside the GTAV world. It depicts superficially passionate liberals, who are sated by doing brief acts that are more showy than they are effective.

Image Credits: Know Your Meme
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Steve Stockman Twitter
Thomas Massie Twitter

Posted in Politics, Pop Culture, Society0 Comments

Why I No Longer Root For Pope “Bergoglio” Francis

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Image from Wikimedia Commons

If you have been following the recent online activity in my social media accounts (Facebook & Twitter), I’m sure you have seen me root for Pope “Bergoglio” Francis. I would share and retweet news of his activities, when compared to that of his predecessors, give us a breath of fresh air and hope for a more inclusive and forward looking Roman Catholic Church. I publicly announce my support and admiration for him. I would even jokingly say that I would head his fans’ club.

This is a big deal for me because I am an atheist… A very outspoken one and very critical of religious bigotry, intolerance, misogyny, and the protection of pedophile priests. Some may even say I have been critical to the point being on a permanent “attack mode” when talking about religion especially the Roman Catholic Church. (Probably because it is the predominant religion in my country and has great influence and impact over the government and the society that I belong to.)

Initially, I had a lot of misgivings against Bergoglio when I heard that he was elected to the seat of St. Peter. Reading about his past, I learned that he supported a dictatorship and had given very misogynistic and homophobic statements.

Then he became Francis. Pope Francis. The first Jesuit pope that started to shake up and “clean up” the Roman curia and the whole of Christendom! He made very controversial statements about being more open to the gay community and even, gasp, saying that we atheists can be good too! He spoke against capitalism and of Catholics being “obsessed” with gay marriage, abortion, and contraception.

He shocked the world with his simplicity. He lived in simpler home compared to the “castle” that he could have lived in. He became the people’s pope and reached out to the masses. He snuck out to feed the homeless at night. He allowed a child to hug him as he preached. He kissed a severely disfigured man. These are but a few of the good things he did that earned him brownie points to become Time’s 2013 Person of the Year.

Many in the online atheist community, including some of those in the Filipino Freethinkers and the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS), were naturally skeptical and still unforgivingly critical of Pope Francis. They said it’s all talk without the walk. They said it’s all a public relations spin. They belittled his efforts and said he has done nothing about the things that really matter. I somewhat agree with them. Being exposed to public relations, I know a lot of the news were PR stunts. I agree that the more important issues have not been addressed by him.

But I chose to stay positive and hopeful. I still supported and believed in him. I held back my tongue (fingers, to be more precise) and chose not to focus on what he lacked but on the good that he has done.

Then, BOOM! I read yesterday about him excommunicating an Australian priest for openly supporting women empowerment in the church and “married” gay couples in unofficial ceremonies during gay rights demonstrations. It’s actually old news that came out last September but it skipped my radar.

The forward walk I was patiently waiting for him to do was actually a run in the complete opposite direction of his talk. I would understand if he defrocked the priest, but to excommunicate?! That’s supposedly the harshest punishment for the most grievous of sins. The priest is banished and cannot receive his god’s grace. If I’m not mistaken, if the priest dies before the excommunication is reversed, it’s tantamount to being condemned to eternal hellfire. (Not that I believe in any of that.)

This made me ask, has any priest been excommunicated for sodomizing young boys? Apparently not. They are actually STILL being protected under Pope Francis’ leadership. He did talk of investigating and punishing those sick bastards. But all this is happening INTERNALLY. Erring priests are removed in “damage-control” efforts but we have never heard of the church cooperating in investigations of secular authority nor have we heard of any priest getting jail time. In fact, they are actually still witholding information and paying off victims. (If you do not understand the magnitude of this problem, I suggest you watch the documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa.”)

So Francis EXCOMMUNICATED a priest for actually walking the talk while failing to do anything substantial on the issue of rampant sex abuses of his clergy. Talk about priorities!

I can go on with a list of other reasons why not to root for Pope Francis any longer, but I think this one act of hypocrisy is more than enough. (Since I am also trying to be more mindful and focus in the things I love and less on the things I hate.)

I still hope for positive change but I am not as confident in Pope Francis. I believe in the goodness of my family, friends, the rest of the decent people in the Roman Catholic Community, those of other faiths, and of those without any religious affiliations or beliefs. We as people can end most of the ills in our society if we promote goodness and denounce the bad.

Posted in Religion, Society2 Comments

John W. Loftus, Author of The Outside Test for Faith – Freethinker Interview

This week, we interview John W. Loftus, atheist author, former student of William Lane Craig, and ex-apologist. We talk with him about indoctrination and debunking Christian apologetics.

You may also download the episode file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

FF Podcast 26: Feminism

FF Podcast 26: Feminism

This week, we talk about feminism with special guests Profs. Guy Claudio, director of the UP Center for Women’s Studies and Leloy Claudio, Ateneo de Manila assistant professor. We joined them to celebrate the UP CWS 25th anniversary.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Gender Rights, Media, Podcast, Politics, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

FF Podcast 025: Do Believers Give More to Charity?

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This week we talk about believers giving more to charity than atheists. Then, we discuss what encourages charity and altruism.

 

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

FF Podcast 023: Is the Filipino Spirit Waterproof?

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This week, we talk about inspirational Filipino memes during times of crisis and the response of Filipinos to tragedies.

This was recorded on November 16, 2013 as part of our live all-day webshow to raise funds for Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) relief.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Society, Video0 Comments

Freddie Aguilar and Special Rights for Muslims

Freddie Aguilar and Special Rights for Muslims

The matter of 60-year-old musician Freddie Aguilar’s marriage to his 16-year-old girlfriend has courted a firestorm of both defenders and critics. Indeed, the knee-jerk reaction to an intimate relationship with such an age gap would often be disgust. Granted, such initial feelings are seldom rational, given their strong emotional motivation. What Aguilar defenders seem to miss, however, is that there is much more cause for concern here than just the private relationship of a public figure. Exempting themselves from secular Philippine law, Aguilar has decided to convert to Islam, despite describing himself as a “born-again Catholic,” to marry his underage girlfriend.

Negative reactions to Aguilar are commonly rebuffed by pointing out the shallow and tabloid nature of the issue. This defense is only supported by the crass and insipid nature of Aguilar critics painting him as a pedophile or a “dirty old man.” Both apologists for Aguilar and his detractors completely miss the far more nefarious implications of Aguilar’s marriage.

However simplistic it may be, Philippine law requires that marriage involve persons aged 18 and above. Given this, Aguilar and his lover have chosen to enjoy the special laws and privileges given to Filipino Muslims by Ferdinand Marcos’ Presidential Decree 1083—the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines.

This special law so deeply controverts the Constitution’s principle of secularism that it overbearingly points out that “The provisions of this Code shall be applicable only to Muslims and nothing herein shall be construed to operate to the prejudice of a non-Muslim.” Not only that, should any conflicts (such as those regarding marriage and divorce) arise between secular law and this special law, the Code shall prevail and that secular laws should be “liberally construed” in order to accomplish the provisions of the Code. The Code establishes special Shari’a courts that are appointed to adjudicate and mete out the appropriate punishment for violations of Islamic laws, as recognized by the Code. Between a Constitution that declares that “No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights” and a law that literally requires belief in Islam, something has to give. Unsurprisingly, in the good old Republic of the Philippines, religious privilege wins out.

Among other provisions, the Code also includes the sexist decree—a belief shared by Catholic opponents of the RH Law—that it is the male in a heterosexual marriage that must exercise authority over the family: “In case of disagreement, the father’s decision shall prevail unless there is a judicial order to the contrary.”

Non-Catholics in the Philippines have long suffered under the tyrannical majority of the Catholic Church and these special rights for Muslims are, ironically, a side effect of this tyranny. While masking as benevolence, these special rights are rooted in the same xenophobic entitlement as the common patronizing expression, “mga kapatid nating Muslim (our Muslim brothers).” This saying paints Muslims automatically separate in any discussion.

Instead of fully recognizing the diversity of religious belief and non-belief, the Philippine state instead split the baby and framed much of our laws under Catholic prejudice, while creating these special exemptions for Muslims—leaving everyone else out of the social contract. This flies in the face of any expectation of justice and the belief, however naive or clichéd, that the law applies to all, or none at all.

The secularist indignation against Aguilar is only inflated by just how insincere Aguilar seems to be in his conversion. It’s bad enough for one religion to enjoy rights not afforded to all Filipinos. Here we have what appears to be the disingenuous and opportunistic exploitation of an already unjust and backward legal system.

Image Credit: Christopher Sundita

Posted in Religion, Secularism, Society2 Comments

Why Our Leaders Should Be Technologists

Digital Art by Richard C. Base

Digital Art by Richard K. Base

If I may venture why our country is in such a dire state, it is because we have a huge lack of leaders who are technologists. Just look at our current crop of leaders: we have mostly lawyers, actors, celebrities and even ex-convicts (as well as convicts-to-be). How our government is run reflects this quite accurately. Go to almost any government office and see.

You will see “lawyers” who make you go around in circles and who burden you with a lot of procedures and requirements to follow. You will see “actors” pretending to work but are actually playing Candy Crush or chatting with their officemates — and yes, this happens even in relief operations in Tacloban as related by a volunteer through her facebook account where she says, “It breaks my heart seeing bottled waters outside the warehouse spread like garbage, rice grains scattered like no one cares, relief boxes literally being dumped by trucks without thinking that whatever inside maybe damage, reliefs outside the warehouse soaked in the rains, and you DSWD staff at the warehouse spending your day talking/chatting/seating while there are a lot of things need to be done ASAP”).

You will see “celebrities” who want to take credit for work done by others, who want their faces and names stamped on projects funded by people’s money. And of course, there are always the ex-convicts and convicts-to-be who are very good at finding ways to line their own pockets.

For the past few years, and particularly in the last decade alone, technologists have been at the forefront of changing how people act, interact and live — and their impact is felt not just in their locality but all over the world. How many people are now dependent on Google, Facebook and Twitter? How many billions and trillions of transactions take place using the internet, cellphones and tablets?

It is clear that the leader of the future, who will have the most influence and impact, should be a technologist. The leader himself may not be a scientist or an engineer per se, but he must have the heart of one. He must be keenly interested in technology and what it can do. Because above all else, a technologist wants only one thing: to solve problems.

And boy, do we have a ton of problems in our country.

How can technology solve our problems? Let me give 3 examples.

  1. Garbage. Do you know that there are some European countries who have solved their garbage problems to the point that they have to import garbage from other countries because they have none left to burn for their own use? On April 30, 2013, The New York Times reported that the City of Oslo in Norway has developed a way to convert “household trash, industrial waste, even toxic and dangerous waste from hospitals and drug arrests” to heat and electricity. Other cities in Sweden, Austria and Germany are also building such plants.Can you imagine what this one technology alone can do for our country? Where is the Philippine delegation to Oslo to study this? At the very least, even if we find the technology too expensive or impractical, we can work out some sort of deal to export our garbage to them. That would be a win-win situation.
  2. Prosthetics. Traditional prosthetics are prohibitively expensive. People who lose a hand, foot, nose or any other body part may find it economically impossible to replace these. A prosthetic hand that can grab things, for example, would cost somewhere between US$20,000 to US$30,000 (around PHP1M or more).However, we have an already existing technology called a 3D Printer which is changing the game in prosthetics. The Huffington Post recently ran a story about a dad who used a 3D printer to print a prosthetic hand for his son who was born without a left hand. His estimated cost was around US$2,000 for the printer and around US$10 for the materials (total cost of around PHP100,000). The plans and schematics for the hand were downloaded free. The Guardian UK also published an article about affordable prosthetic facial parts that can be generated by 3D printing instead of the more traditional and expensive method of making a cast and mold. A traditional prosthetic nose, for example, might cost P200,000 but a 3D printed one would only cost P20,000. That costs even less than an iPhone. Now, what if we had 3D Printers in every public hospital? How many more of our poor, disabled countrymen would now be able to afford prosthetics? How many lives would benefit? They might even be fit for some jobs now instead of being reduced to begging in the streets. Hello, Mayors and Congressmen. Are you paying attention?
  3. Water. The recent devastation brought about by Typhoon Yolanda showed how precious and important water is in the affected areas. However, water is also heavy, bulky and difficult to transport. Since around 2009, a British company call Lifesaver Systems (which is currently actively involved in disaster relief for the Philippines) has developed portable water containers with built-in filters that are so fine that you can literally fill the container with filthy, muddy water and it will produce clean, drinkable water.Those in calamity-stricken areas no longer need to wait for bottled water to arrive. They can simply use the container and get water from the nearest river (or any water source, no matter how dirty). A video demo shows the company’s CEO mixing a tank of river water with mud, sewage and garbage. He then takes a pitcher of the foul mixture and puts it in a Lifesaver Bottle. He pumps the bottle a few times, opens the top and pours clean water in a glass that he then drinks himself. Perhaps, instead of spending millions on election paraphernalia, our leaders could instead invest in these life-saving technologies. After all, nobody (except you and your relatives — and not all of them, mind you) really wants to see your smug faces splattered all over our walls, streets and lampposts, and the best preparation for disaster is innovative planning and willful action not some pretty speech on national television.

Originally published in Sunstar Davao. Also appears in Freethinking Me.

Andy Uyboco is a businessman by profession and an educator by obsession. You may email him at [email protected]. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

Posted in Science, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast (Audio) 021: Microwave Storms and Criticism During Crises

FF Podcast (Audio) 021: Microwave Storms and Criticism During Crises

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This week we talk about the conspiracy theory that microwaves were used to generate the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Then, we discuss when it’s okay to criticize in times of crisis.

Join us on our live webshow on November 16, 2013. 10 AM to 8 PM (GMT +8). Help raise funds for relief efforts for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

You may also download the podcast file here.




Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Media, Science, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast 021: Microwave Storms and Criticism During Crises

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 11.24.00 AM

This week we talk about the conspiracy theory that microwaves were used to generate the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Then, we discuss when it’s okay to criticize in times of crisis.

Join us on our live webshow on November 16, 2013. 10 AM to 8 PM (GMT +8). Help raise funds for relief efforts for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Science, Society, Video0 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers Livestream and Meetup for a Cause

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The super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) left in its wake thousands dead, injured, and missing. Even more have lost their homes and lost contact with family members. Estimates of damage in the agricultural sector alone are almost 4 billion Pesos. Victims of Haiyan in Visayas and neighboring regions are in need of food and drinking water, among many other necessities.

Filipino Freethinkers urges everyone that can help to give what they can. On Saturday, November 16, 2013, we will be live streaming a show, hosted by FF President Red Tani, to get the freethinking community in the Philippines and in the world to raise funds to support those affected by this horrific tragedy. The show will be available on Twitch as well as our site.

From 10 AM to 8 PM, we will be aggregating pledges donated directly to the Philippine Red Cross, either online, bank deposit, or through SMS via Smart or Globe. Donors will receive a tracking number from the Red Cross and we encourage freethinkers around the world to tell us how much they donated. We will also be counting donations by freethinkers to other charities of their choice, such as the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center.

Donors of any amount will get a shout out during the live broadcast.

Donors of P1,000 and above will get to have their topic of choice (not necessarily typhoon/relief related) discussed live by FF. Freethinkers can donate even before the live show. Email us the charity, the amount donated, and the tracking number (if available) at [email protected] and we will add it to the tally. You can also message us through Facebook or join the conversation on Twitter using #FFFundraiser as the hashtag. Share with us how you and others can help.

Join us on November 16, 10 AM to 8 PM live on Ustream. Help our fellow Filipinos in this time of crisis.

About Philippine Red Cross: The Philippine Red Cross is a secular charitable institution that “endeavors to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever and whenever it is found.”

About Citizens’ Disaster Response Center: The Citizens’ Disaster Response Center is a secular non-governmental organization that promotes “community-based disaster management in the Philippines.” It has been chosen by the American humanist charity Foundation Beyond Belief as its recipient of $10,000 in support of relief efforts in the Philippines.

On Sunday, November 17, 2013, we will be hosting a regularly scheduled meetup at the Episcopalian Holy Trinity Church.

Location: Holy Trinity Church, 48 Mckinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati
Date: Sunday, November 17, 2013
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm
Google Map: http://goo.gl/wCMAl

Topics
- Effective Altruism
- Looting During Disasters

During the meetup, we will also be coordinating donations from FF members. We will be donating these contributions to the Philippine Red Cross. Material donations will be delivered to LBC, which the Red Cross will also receive. Please note, though, that charities have items such as old clothes in excess.

Posted in Announcements, Meetup, Organization, Society1 Comment

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