PLEASE JOIN US!   We meet on the first Sunday of each month in downtown Duluth at the Radisson Hotel (Location Map)
            Socializing begins at 9:00 am.
            Optional breakfast buffet at 9:30 am.
            Presentation from 10:00 until about 11:30.

            Co-Host: David Broman - (218) 349-7455
            Co-Host: Jim Lyttle - (218) 464-1652
             Videographer - Jan Resberg


December 2013 Newsletter

December, 2013 Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers

Facilitators: David Broman - 218-349-7455, Bill Guse - 834-4583, 343-4806

First Sunday -Radisson – 9:00 AM Social – 9:30 Breakfast - 10:00 Presentation


George Erickson, editor, tundracub@mchsi.com

Program - Dr. James Lyttle, UMD, will present Having Fun with Religion, which reveals how humor has been used by religious people to win over audiences and lighten serious messages. It also shows how freethinkers and others have used humor to challenge religion and question its assumptions.

Lives of saviors conform to a hero narrative
by Ed Neumann -
La Crosse Freethought Society.
La Crosse, WI Tribune

People have always held deep convictions about bigger-than-life-heroes, saviors who appear at their darkest hour and, wielding supernatural powers, right what is wrong. These beliefs are ubiquitous and cross-cultural, but they are rarely based on reality.

Today, such superheroes are largely found in comic books. However, there are the occasional real people who, over time, accumulate legends of their exploits. Examples include certain Catholic saints, leaders such as Kim Jong-il (who scored 11 holes-in-one the first time he played golf) or former Vice President Al Gore, who singlehandedly invented the Internet.

Despite being rated the second most admired woman in America in a 1945 survey, Betty Crocker never existed. The same goes for Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben and Ronald McDonald. These corporate mascots were invented as part of modern business marketing. Like the legend of King Arthur, a life story often was fabricated, making them seem all the more real.

Saviors in the ancient world, however, tended to conform to a hero narrative. One such narrative is known as the Rank-Raglan hero mythotype. Named for Otto Rank and Lord Raglan, the two scholars who first described it, the mythotype is a list of 22 traits or incidents that occur with regularity in hero myths of most western cultures:

• Mother is a virgin.
• Father is king or rightful heir.
• Hero’s parents are related.
• Circumstances of conception are unusual.
• Hero is reputed to be the son of a god.
• An attempt is made to kill him as an infant.
• He is spirited away from assassins.
• Reared in a foreign land by foster parent(s).
• Little is reported about his childhood.
• Upon reaching adulthood, he returns to future kingdom.
• Before taking throne, he battles and defeats a great adversary.
• Crowned or hailed as king.
• Marries princess, queen or relative of his predecessor.
• Reigns uneventfully for a time.
• Promulgates laws.
• Loses favor of gods or subjects.
• Driven from throne or land.
• Mysterious events occasion his death.
• Dies at top of hill.
• Body goes missing.
• No children succeed him.
• He has one or more holy sepulchers.

In his 1936 book “The Hero,” Raglan notes that historical figures rarely achieved more than six of these traits. Even Alexander, Caesar Augustus and Mohammed, with all their legendary accretions, couldn’t manage half, but for those heroes who meet more than half of the Rank-Raglan criteria, a special category exists.

Historian Richard Carrier, who refers to the hero narrative as “the fable of the divine king,” finds 15 ancient figures who make the grade, fulfilling 12 or more of the elements. They are listed below with their Rank-Raglan score:

• Oedipus (21)
• Theseus (20)
• Moses (20)
• Jesus (20)
• Dionysus (19)
• Romulus (18)
• Perseus (18)
• Hercules (17)
• Bellerophon (16)
• Jason (15)
• Zeus (15)
• Osiris (14)
• Joseph, son of Jacob (12)

Many pre-Christian heroes, who might have made the above list, were considered savior gods, pre-existent beings who incarnated as miracle-workers. Some even “fulfilled prophecy” as Buddha, Krishna and Zoroaster were thought to have done.

The death and resurrection of the Thracian god Zalmoxis assured followers of eternal life. And those baptized into the Osiris cult were saved in the afterlife.

Notably, each of the 15 was at one time regarded as a historical person. That is, each had been placed in a historical context and was believed to have been an actual divine or semi-divine being who lived on Earth. Each would have had followers willing to kill and die for them.

Yet it would be exceedingly improbable for any living person to have made the list. None of the Egyptian, Greek or Roman demigods listed are now thought to have existed. And, according to Carrier, most mainstream scholars think Joseph and Moses were purely legendary characters as well.

That leaves only Jesus, who, when the Gospel of Matthew is taken into account, scores 20. However, if we use only Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ score falls to 14, on par with Osiris. In other words, Matthew, who is known to have copied 90 percent of Mark’s Gospel nearly verbatim, further “legendized” Jesus’ narrative, making him appear even more of an archetypal hero. So, like modern corporate mascots, ancient god-men often were invented and embellished for religious marketing.

“People sought to create unity by fabricating ‘historical’ founders and rallying around their sayings and deeds,” writes Carrier in his upcoming book, “On the Historicity of Jesus.” “Their actual existence was not a requirement, and indeed might have been more of a detriment. But belief in their existence was a must for the story to have a powerful authoritative impact.”

Ben Franklin - (article author not known)

“I have found the Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absented myself from Christian assemblies….”

Benjamin, the 15th of 17 children, grew up in Boston. His father wanted him to become a minister, but decided that ministers didn't make enough money…. When he was 12, Ben became an apprentice to his brother, a printer. A few years later, James began The New-England Courant, the colonies’ first independent newspaper.

Ben wanted to write for Courant, but "Being still a Boy, and suspecting that my Brother would object to printing any Thing of mine in his Paper… I contriv'd to disguise my Hand, & writing an anonymous Paper I put it in at Night under the Door of the Printing House. It was found in the Morning & communicated to his Writing Friends when they call'd." He started submitting letters under the persona of Silence Dogood, a widow, and the newspaper staff thought they were great — Franklin said that listening to them praise his writing in front of him without knowing it was an "exquisite pleasure."

In "her" first letter, Mrs. Dogood said: "I will not abuse your Patience with a tedious Recital of all the Accidents of my Life, that happened until I arrived to Years of Discretion, only inform you that I liv'd a cheerful Country Life, spending my leisure in some innocent Diversion with the other Females, or in some shady Retirement, with the best of Company, Books. Thus I past away the Time with a Mixture of Profit and Pleasure, having no Affliction but what was imaginary, as nothing is more common with us Women, than to be grieving for nothing, when we have nothing else to grieve for."

Every two weeks, a letter from Silence appeared under the door of the shop. In a quiet way, she mocked the Boston social elite and their vices, and she even made fun of Harvard. Altogether, 15 of Mrs. Dogood's letters were published in The Courant, and they were incredibly popular, talked about all over town. When Mrs. Dogood hinted that she would consider marriage again, men wrote to the paper offering to be her husband. Then, suddenly, the letters stopped coming. Everyone was concerned about Mrs. Dogood. James printed a notice begging for news of her. So 16-year-old Benjamin confessed. That was really the talk of the town — people thought it was hilarious.

James, however, was so upset that in 1723 Benjamin left for Philadelphia. He worked in publishing houses there and in London. Back in Philadelphia in 1727, Franklin formed the Leather Apron Club, whose members were dedicated to improving themselves and their community. Franklin started the first circulating library in the colonies. He took over a paper called The Universal Instructor in all Arts and Sciences and Pennsylvania Gazette, renamed it The Pennsylvania Gazette, and made it into the most popular newspaper in the colonies by the time he was 23 years old.

A few years later, Franklin began publishing Poor Richard's Almanac. "In 1732 I first published my almanac under the name of Richard Saunders; it was continued by me about 25 years, commonly called 'Poor Richard's Almanac.' I endeavored to make it entertaining, and it came to be in such demand that I reaped considerable profit, near 10,000 annually, scarce any neighborhood being without it, I considered it a proper vehicle for conveying instruction among the people; I therefore filled all the little spaces that occurred between the remarkable days in the calendar with proverbial sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality, as the means of procuring wealth, and thereby securing virtue, it being more difficult for a man in want to act always honestly, as to use here one of those proverbs, 'It is hard for an empty sack to stand upright.'"

Even though everyone knew that Saunders was Benjamin Franklin, he enjoyed the pseudonym and kept it in place for all 26 annual issues. And it gave him a chance to insult his printer, Benjamin Franklin.

Poor Richard began as a dull astronomer who couldn't get anything right, but he became a hard-working, morally upright citizen. The cover of the first almanac listed its contents: "The lunations, eclipses, judgment of the weather, Spring tides, planets, motions, and mutual aspects, sun and moon's rising and setting, length of days, time of high water, fairs, courts, and observable days." What made the Almanac a mainstay were Franklin’s "proverbial sentences," though he wasn’t exactly the author. Many were already sayings, but he rewrote them to be as clever as possible:

"Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead."
"Fish and visitors smell after three days."
"A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one."

Radio Campaign Tells Atheists “Where to Go”

We’d like to tell atheists where to go!" These words begin a 60-second radio ad encouraging atheists, agnostics and similar others to visit some of nearly 2,000 local groups and national organizations in North America that exist to serve them. The ads aired 340 times in Nov. on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, specifically targeted to audiences of CNN, INDIE Radio, MSNBC, OUTQ, and SiriusXM Progress.

The ads also launched a comprehensive new website geared to helping people find these groups and organizations. Called the Secular Directory, the site offers the largest and most up-to-date database ever compiled of local atheist, agnostic, freethought, humanist, secularist, skeptic and similar groups in North America. Referred to as “godless groups,” each can be found easily. Just type in the name your city and state, and then a list of those within a 50-mile radius pops up.

The Directory also lists national and intl. organizations, special services for nonreligious people, conferences and events, publications, and other resources. The website is at SecularDirectory.org but can also be accessed via the alliterative URL used in the ad: GodlessGroups.org .

The site is a project of the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR), a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 that has previously been responsible for billboard and bus ad campaigns in 34 states and the District of Columbia. These campaigns have been used to launch local coalitions of atheist and agnostic groups. The November radio campaign that announces the site began Monday at a cost of $19,900. And the final modifications and updates to the site were made this morning. Additional radio campaigns are being planned for 2014.

“The aim of all our campaigns is to help the millions of godless people find each other and discover groups that will meet their needs and serve their interests,” said Fred Edwords, national director of UnitedCoR. "Such non-theists don't always realize there's a community for them because they're inundated with religious messages at every turn."

To hear the radio ad, read the text or view the ad schedule, go to www.UnitedCoR.org. Contact Fred Edwords, 202-550-9964 Fredwords@UnitedCoR.org

Prep Rally - by Cameron Smith

In a case of religious beliefs vs. athletic performance, a Kentucky junior cross country runner walked away from a chance to qualify for the state meet to avoid accepting bib number "666", which she said conflicted with her Christian beliefs.

A Delayed Epiphany

“Religion is a chronic disease of the imagination, contracted in childhood!”
Fr. Jean Meslier toward the end of his life.

Springfield Bishop Thomas John Paprocki will preside over prayers of "supplication and exorcism" in response to pending legalization of same-sex marriage, which the bishop said "comes from the devil and should be condemned as such" reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.Paprocki condemned, in particular, Catholic lawmakers -- including House Speaker Mike Madigan -- and said they are "morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin."

Churches Are Full of what?

Recent testing of 21 springs in Austria and 18 fonts in Vienna yielded a conclusion that 86 percent of the holy water in the country's churches was not safe to drink -- most commonly infected with diarrhea-causing E. coli and Campylobacter. Univ. of Vienna researchers found samples with up to 62 million bacteria per milliliter of water, and the busier the church, the higher the count. -ABC News

No comments:

Post a Comment