The Catholic Church recently held a synod and discussed how they treat LGBT members. This week, we talk about whether it’s all PR or if there has been real change.
You may also download the podcast file here.
Posted on 18 October 2014.
The Catholic Church recently held a synod and discussed how they treat LGBT members. This week, we talk about whether it’s all PR or if there has been real change.
You may also download the podcast file here.
Posted on 12 January 2014.
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.
Posted on 29 January 2011.
January 29, 1736 is the birthday of Thomas Paine, a man Thomas Edison regarded “as one of the greatest of all Americans.” He influenced intellectuals for centuries with works such as Common Sense, Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason. He inspired such great men as George Holyoake, the father of British secularism; Bertrand Russell, a champion of humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought; and Abraham Lincoln, who lead the fight to end slavery in the United States.
In the 1990s, Truthseeker magazine began celebrating Freethinkers Day on Paine’s birthday. If you doubt that these celebrations should coincide, you haven’t read any of his works, and I strongly suggest you start soon.
For now, here are some excerpts from the writings of Thomas Paine, a founding father who fought not only for freedom in the United States, but for freethought around the world. Happy Freethinkers Day!
Posted on 14 January 2011.
Second episode of the Podcast, now with better lighting! In this episode we talk about the Black Nazarene, Power Balance, works of fiction and the secular movement in Pakistan.
Posted on 09 December 2010.
Last Tuesday was the first day of Carlos Celdran‘s trial. The charge? Apparently, he hurt some people’s feelings toward their imaginary friend — a crime in the Philippines. His trial is one of the highlights of the fight for the Reproductive Health Bill, which is encountering a ton of opposition from the Catholic Church and other Catholic organizations, even though the people themselves seem to be all for it. When Carlos entered that church in Ibarra garb, held up a sign saying “Damaso” and shouted to the priests to stop interfering with politics, it was because the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had been trying to use religion to influence the outcome of the RH Bill’s passing, such as making thinly veiled threats of excommunication towards the president of the country.
The court session was scheduled at 1.30 pm, so some of us from the Filipino Freethinkers met up with Carlos at Starbucks around noon. I was trying to hold up one of the posters from the people at Sex and Sensibilities, but turns out I was holding it upside down.
Carlos was in good spirits, even giving us a short demo of his current favorite gadget, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. (Which totally rocks, by the way.)
Inside the courthouse, we saw a bunch of people in anti-RH bill shirts. These shirts were unfortunately colored bright yellow — the exact same color as that of the detainees who were there for their criminal trials. (Note to self: when dressing for court or planning propaganda shirts to wear to court, make sure to not wear the same regulation prison colors as suspects in custody. Because when you leave, the judge will try to get security to stop you.) I was wearing the grey “excommunication” shirt, while the others were in white, “Damaso” printed on the front and “Pass the RH Bill Now!” on the back. (Speaking of suspects, it was interesting that there was no effort made to separate the detainees and the spectators. There were guys in prison outfits and handcuffs standing right next to me during the session.) The room was airconditioned but there were too many people inside so it was still hot, and I kept fanning myself with my poster. It looked like this. I was seated close to the anti-RH bill people, so I’m pretty sure they saw it. No one said or did anything confrontational, though, which was promising.
It was over under an hour, I think. The complainant presented their case, the defense denied everything. The judge advised them to settle out of court. I don’t blame him. There was a woman who was jailed because she stole clothes amounting to around 1 to 2 thousand pesos, which was bailable, but apparently she couldn’t afford bail, so she’s been in jail for months. I believe our judges have better things to do than entertain ridiculous cases like “offending religious feelings”. After all, who here thinks we should go to prison for mocking Xenu? Oh, and next trial date was set for March 10. (Or was it May? I’m getting old.)
When it was over, we trooped outside with the other pro-RH Bill advocates from the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) in the parking lot and waited for Carlos and his attorney to finish up the last details with the MTC. There were a few media people there with cameras and they took photos of us. When Carlos appeared, he posed for photos with us, holding up the posters.
The anti-RH Bill advocates had a banner. Don’t ask me why being the world’s greatest boxer should make your opinion on whether or not women should have access to reproductive health care weigh more than the rest of ours, because I’m stumped. Don’t ask me either why they spelled Pacquiao’s name wrong — I didn’t notice because I was too distracted by that colon. Later, a friend had to point out to me the missing ” ‘s “.
Oddly, the Anti-RH advocates wanted to have photos taken with Carlos, too. They did not appear hostile in any way. In fact they were quite nice, logical fallacy and typos notwithstanding.
The epic moment was when they shook hands with Carlos.
Oh, and someone asked for Carlos’s autograph on a poster.
There were some spectators watching us speak with the anti-RH Bill advocates and talk to the press. Lots of them wanted to have their photos taken with Carlos, and even one of them asked Carlos to kiss her baby (he obliged, laughingly). The funny thing was, some of them thought he was a priest. Most of them thought his name was Damaso. I’m not sure they knew what exactly was going on, it just seemed they wanted to have their photo taken with him.
“Magpapa-picture ako kasama si Father!” (I’m having my photo taken with Father.)
“Hindi siya pari! Tour guide siya.” (He’s not a priest, he’s a tour guide.)
“Oo, pangalan lang niya Damaso.” (Yes, he’s just named Damaso.)
(Ah, so they know Damaso was a priest, at least. Madame, I suggest you should put down your books once in a while and turn on the TV to watch the news. Haha.)
One of them asked me if I was the girl in the poster. Flattering, but no. For one, she clearly had better hair than I did.
The posters were a hit, though. Lots of women (the spectators were mostly women) asked us if they could have some. One of them asked me what they meant. Before going home, we gave Carlos the remaining posters so he could distribute them on his tours.
Some of us stopped by Makati for a late lunch before braving the traffic home. The trains were full and the lines at the taxi stand were ridiculously long, so we took the bus. It took me more than an hour to get home. The truth is, no matter what side of the condom debate you’re on, we all get screwed by rush hour.
This post was reposted by the author from her personal blog.
Posted on 19 October 2010.
Unfortunately, some screws are loose in his language processor. First of all, inutile means “lacking in utility or serviceability; not useful.” He probably meant “futile,” which means ” having no useful result” or “completely ineffective.”
To his credit he made it clear that this was not meant for “for agnostics who acknowledge no God” or “eclectics who simply choose what they want to believe as their own private and personal choice” or “people who subscribe to any sect here and there that come and go, or any system of beliefs that blatantly defies all logic and reason.”
In other words, this is meant for the Katoliko Sarado (fundamentalist Catholic). But why is he giving the “Resistance is Futile” speech to the already assimilated?
This and the following fallacies and faulty reasoning shows that his rational processor needs upgrading as well.
“The Catholic Church is the only worldwide institution that is some 2000 years old and counting.”
Old Paganism – 30,000 years ago
Modern Paganism – 1,000 BCE
Hinduism – 1,500 BCE
Judaism – 1,400 BCE
Buddhism – 500 BCE
“There is not a single entity in the whole universe that is as one and universal, that has remained that global and vibrant as the Catholic Church. Yes, they are other old creeds – but there are neither one and universal.”
First , where did Cruz get his data about the whole universe?
Second, is he sure that “there is not a single entity in the whole universe that is as one and universal”? Even God? And please don’t tell me that God is the same as the Catholic Church — panentheism is anathema.
And yes, “Catholic” translates to “universal,” but that’s all. That there are more than a thousand other religions (and over 30,000 denominations of Christianity alone) tells us how no single organized religion has been and can be “one and universal.”
“The fact is that the central site of the Catholic Church is officially known, called and acknowledge by the civilized word as the “Vatican City State” that has formal diplomatic relations with most Countries, that sends to and receives Ambassadors from said Countries.”
Are you sure you want to play that card, Oscar? The Vatican was only made a state in exchange for recognizing the fascist government of Benito Mussolini.
“One: In the past, there were Priests, Bishops and even Popes who tried to destroy and erase the Catholic Church from the face of the earth – not to mention secular potentates of all kinds that attempted to do the same. Yet, the Church is still here.”
The Church of 2,000 years ago is no longer here. It has gone through several schisms which resulted in over 30,000 different denominations. The Roman Catholic denomination may be the largest, but it is a modern creation, influenced by all the schisms, internal improvements, and changes in culture caused by mostly secular influences.
The Catholic Church of 2,000 years ago no longer exists, and that’s a good thing. The Crusades and religious wars, the Inquisition and witch hunts, banning books, allowing slavery — these are gone today, and so is the version of the church that condoned it.
“Two: In this period of Phil. History, there are a number of politicians and citizens who harbor hatred for the Church — and if possible, want her out of their way. But as sure as the sun will shine tomorrow, the Church will be then up and about.”
I don’t really get what Cruz wants to prove when he argues for the Church’s power and resilience. There is one institution that is more widespread and resilient than the Catholic Church — slavery.
Does the fact that it was practiced in all continents and that it’s been around for 11,000 years validate its existence? If Cruz wanted to prove the value of the Catholic Church, why didn’t he give reasons it’s a force for good in the world instead of spouting appeals to antiquity and popularity?
“Three, finally, it is good to remember an ominous reality, viz., those Catholics of whatever political affiliation and ideological persuasion, will be usually brought to the cemetery by the Church.”
Ominous means “giving the impression that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen.” At least Cruz got one thing right.
“Lesson: Fighting is the Catholic Church is inutile!”
Trying to reform an institution is different from fighting it. You might not like the word “reformation” but it is inevitable. (Please review Church history, Oscar.)
If the Church has become a more humane, more beneficial, and more relevant institution than it was 2,000 years ago, it is thanks to the people who have fought to reform it.
Awesome image by Jeiel
Posted on 24 July 2010.
It’s been a while since I last wrote a letter. I have been busy for the past five months. The good thing about it is that I have found a job that gave me the opportunity to learn and to earn a living. In the second half of 2009, I was without what you would call a regular job. It was a time when I had to gain more knowledge, to hone my skills, and to gain perspective. The job market was not in a good condition and I was feeling desperate, even depressed.
One fine Sunday morning, while I was attending church, it occurred to me, “Even in a bad economy, these churches still thrive. They offer hope to people who feel that there’s no hope in sight and that only God can help them.” I also recalled that when I was in the United States, I saw at least two churches in every town that I passed through during my road trips. “Hmm… What worked for fast food restaurants, coffee shops and supermarkets also worked for churches. Those churches must have had a lot of property and tax-free earnings.”, I thought. As I was churning a lot of ideas in my mind, I had an “Aha!” moment. “If I can’t find a job, I might as well establish a business… *cough, cough* No, a church. Then, I’ll journey to the West and propagate the bu.. *cough, cough* gospel and gain ca… *cough,cough* converts.” I then did some research on how some Christian churches and denominations were founded. After hours of research, I found out that it is possible to establish a church by forming a religious corporation.
I have come up with a how-to guide for establishing a religious corporation. The procedures may vary depending on the would-be entre… *cough, cough* executive minister.
This how-to guide is a product of months of research and observation. It was conceived during a time when I did not have a regular job. Now that I am back on track in my career, I may not be able to use this guide. Maybe in the future, someone will find this guide useful.
On a final note, I am not of the religious kind, for my spirituality is personal, meditative and nondenominational. If I would be a member of a religious corporation, I don’t want to be an executive minister or a Sunday school president. I would rather become the Chairman of the Bored.
(J) The Freethinking Geek
Posted on 13 July 2010.
We’ve all heard of the parables that the Church or just about any Bible preacher likes to preach. There is one called the “Parable of the Lost Sheep.” Christianity is supposed to be the sheep and the Church is its shepherd. Let’s call shepherds for what they really are: ‘rulers’ – for a shepherd rules over the sheep like the Church rules over its flock in the name of Jesus Christ. Naturally, the Church doesn’t want its sheep to go astray or else it would lose its position of power. One way they stay in power is by not letting their subjects forget them. That’s why they always remind you, the ordinary person, about God’s Promises.
When you first hear of this, that “God is your shepherd” and you are His sheep, it seems like an idea that you’d like to hold on to. The church makes it sound so attractive, especially to someone who is still dependent on others, making them feel that no harm will come to them thereby giving a feeling of security. But is being just a sheep good enough for a person who is free and alive? And, can this ‘shepherd’ really protect you from all the pain and suffering in the world? Is that really what you want? Let me tell you, neither the Church nor God thinks you’re special, to them you’re just another sheep in the crowd. Catholic priests would want nothing better than for you to be the perfect sheep, helpless and without any will of your own, who does everything they say and does nothing but graze in the fields and eat grass.
Let’s talk about herding. How do modern shepherds herd their sheep? They use a herding dog to bark the sheep into their fences. The Catholic Church does the same thing, only their dog can be a lot of things. It can be the threat of going to hell, societal pressure, or it can be actual political influence. Barking is a way of scaring sheep into place without the need of physically forcing them because, like sheep, people like to go in different directions. You only need one dog/one priest to manage a whole flock of sheep or churchgoers. In time the sheep will be trained and will follow without the need to be barked at. Christians now have an internalized herding dog, the all-knowing God speaking to them or something I can also think of as the person’s conscience. Either of the two will begin to bark if they start to go astray. This dog is no ordinary dog; it knows their secrets, their thoughts and every detail of every action in their lives.
Once we realize that this dog is only in our minds. They can’t herd us into a corner anymore and we will be free to relax and go in the direction we choose to go in this life.
I’ll end with these questions. Why will you allow some God to read your thoughts/prayers or record your whole life experience only to hold you accountable about it in the afterlife? How can God actually monitor your every move? Where do we get a conscience? Do you actually need a conscience to do good acts?
Posted in ReligionComments (50)
Posted on 10 January 2010.
My friend is not a very religious person, but he prays before every meal and goes to mass every Sunday with his family. He is aware of and has great respect for my lack of faith, and we occasionally find ourselves discussing and debating on religion. Some of our discussions revolve around our contrasting views of Jesus Christ – he firmly believes in him and his preachings, while I take him to be nothing more than a compelling historical figure. Other discussions are about our similar negative views on the overly-structural methods of the Catholic Church in propagating their faith. Sometimes, our minds repel, while in other times, they are in sync. He is always open to the thought-provoking ideas I lay on the table and tries to judge them without bias.
During one of these discussions, he narrated to me a story about his grandfather. This story had a great impact on him, and he admits himself that it has strongly solidified his belief in God. He told me that a long time ago, his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. He has consulted with several doctors, all of which were consistent with the cancer diagnosis. He was told to have surgery. On the day of the surgery, he managed to escape from the hospital to go to a nearby church to pray. Eventually, he was found by his family and/or hospital personnel and was brought back to the hospital. After a series of medical tests, they found his cancer to have completely vanished. So he never had that surgery and went home cancer free.
My friend told me that he sometimes thinks his grandfather to be overly-religious, but softens his judgment because he knows what his grandfather had been through. That reminded me of my overly-religious mother, who initially was not a very religious person. But there was a time when she was going through a difficult crisis, and with the help of Opus Dei and its teachings, she was able to cope with it and actually managed to resolve the crisis. It may not be as life-changing as the cure of cancer, but it was very significant for her. Now, she is a devout Catholic, and a supernumerary in Opus Dei. These two individuals have had significant experiences in their lives which they attribute to their faith. We cannot just easily tell them that they must resort to reason, that their belief in God is wrong, when their lives are changed by it.
I am in no position to confirm or disprove the validity of my friend’s story. I did suggest certain other possibilities such as: a non-threatening easily curable disease that mimics the signs and symptoms of that specific cancer but cannot be easily detected by medical practitioners of that time and may have been cured medically by some chemical component of the medicines he was taking or cured naturally by his immune system sometime within the duration after his last medical test prior to his escape and the time he was tested after he was found. Yes, that was a very long sentence. The point is, it may just be a coincidence. However, it was a pretty compelling coincidence that I, myself, could not fault his grandfather, who is by all means a normal human being with human thoughts and emotions, to immediately assume it as some divine miracle.
For whatever the scientific explanation behind it, one can still argue that the timing of its occurrence may be the decision of God. Another example would be the parting of the Red Sea. Even if it may have been caused by some natural phenomenon like shifting tectonic plates or unstable magnetic fields, the fact is, it happened at the moment when Moses raised his staff and the Israelites needed an escape route. By their knowledge of seas (they just don’t part) or staffs (they don’t cause seas to part) how else could the Israelites have interpreted it other than as a miracle of God? Whether by lack of knowledge or lack of mental health (let’s say they may have all taken hallucinogenic herbs and may have hallucinated the whole ordeal), the fact is, they believed it to have happened that way, was not presented with enough explanations that disproves that belief, and was greatly and personally affected by its occurrence, and most especially, its timing. The natural phenomenon could have happened on any normal day, but the fact that it happened at that specific time could easily (though not necessarily correctly) be assumed as the will of God. Disclaimer: I do not know if the parting of the Red Sea actually happened. It’s just an example.
My friend believed the story of his grandfather to be true, to have been caused by God, whether miracle or explainable. And he says that I am too mistrusting and over-skeptical to be so vehement in disproving it to the point of trying to come up with some weird disease. Eventually, our discussion ended without any joint conclusion. He stands firm in his belief in God and this so-called miracle, and I still maintain that it may be caused by the weird disease.. or other explainable thing. And then we ate pizza and went to videoke with friends.
Posted on 30 October 2009.
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 SocietyComments (4)