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A Punishment Inflicted Upon Us For Our Presumptuous Sins

March 24, 2020

What fresh hell does today bring?

Trump is feeling antsy about all this social distancing and people not going to his hotels, so he says he wants to get people out and about and infecting each other as soon as possible. You can tell he feels very strongly about it because he’s tweeting the code phrase in all caps:


The cult got the message, and just a little later that evening, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was on Fox News telling America’s senior citizens to get ready to die for the economy:

Those of us who are 70+, we’ll take care of ourselves but don’t sacrifice the country. Don’t do that. Don’t ruin this great American Dream. … We all want to live. We all want to live with our grandchildren as long as we can. But the point is our biggest gift we give to our country and our children and our grandchildren is the legacy of our country, and right now, that is at risk.

And what’s so great about staying alive anyway? That’s what R. R. Reno, editor of the Christian magazine First Things wants to know. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he wants to do everything he can to save lives, Reno is all, WTF? and calls it “disastrous sentimentalism”:

Everything for the sake of physical life? What about justice, beauty, and honor? There are many things more precious than life. And yet we have been whipped into such a frenzy in New York that most family members will forgo visiting sick parents. Clergy won’t visit the sick or console those who mourn. The Eucharist itself is now subordinated to the false god of ‘saving lives.’

I’m sorry, what did you just say? Like, did you really write that down and mean it? Did you look at it before you hit “publish”? He goes on (and on):

There is a demonic side to the sentimentalism of saving lives at any cost. … [Satan] must rely on our fear of death. … Fear of death and causing death is pervasive — stoked by a materialistic view of survival at any price and unchecked by Christian leaders who in all likelihood secretly accept the materialist assumptions of our age.

We are so, so deeply screwed.

Also of little interest to Republicans: the lives and rights of women. Abortions now must be delayed in Texas in Ohio, both with Republican governors. The Times reports:

… abortion rights activists said that abortions should be counted as essential and that people could not wait for the procedure until the pandemic was over. … “Patients cannot wait until this pandemic is over to receive safe abortion care,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, the abortion clinic at the center of the Supreme Court decision, said in a statement.

Remember how Pennsylvania State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz freaked the hell out when a Muslim was in the building and went Jesus-crazy? She’s back, pushing a bill to establish “A State Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” because the coronavirus is “a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins.”

Donald A. Collins, writing at the UK’s Church and State, sees things the other way around. Contrasting with the 1918 flu pandemic, he says:

Now humans, not some high priest, are heroes and better yet concrete solvers of this humanistic medical crisis.

Never again will this electronically connected world population be unexposed to this revelation!!

Religious fantasy can no longer be offered as a route to human survival. We humans are in charge and responsible.

What a profound moment which may not be immediately recognized but in a short time (in cosmic terms) organized power-seeking religions will lose face if not place!

Isaac Chotiner at The New Yorker talks to Harvard professor of the history of science Naomi Oreskes about coronavirus denial:

… when it comes to science, the big exception has to do with … implicatory denial. That is to say, we reject scientific findings because we don’t like their implications. All of the major areas where we see resistance to scientific findings in contemporary life fall into this category. …

… [Republicans] didn’t want to acknowledge the severity of the [coronavirus] issue, because this is a textbook example of why we need a federal government. … And then you add on to it Donald Trump’s particular—how should I put this politely?—reflex to be hostile to science and hostile to experts. Add that into the mix and I think that’s exactly what you’d expect.

Meanwhile, John Bessler, husband of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, has been hospitalized with the coronavirus, and he’s in bad shape. The senator says, “It’s gonna happen to every family. It’s gonna happen to everyone, whether it’s a friend or your grandpa…”

Carol Kuruvilla at HuffPost highlights some local secular groups that are finding ways to cope with the pandemic in their own communities, even though they can’t get near each other:

In Minneapolis, HumanistMN’s support group for secular folk grappling with grief and loss is planning to forge ahead online. In Los Angeles, a group of Black skeptics has set up an emergency assistance fund for secular people of color and their families who are experiencing homelessness, joblessness, health disparities and educational disruption. And Houston Oasis, part of the Oasis network of secular communities across the U.S., is setting up a volunteer support network to run errands for people in their community who are immunocompromised and unable to go to the store.

Yo dawg I heard you like webcams so I put cams in your web so you can look for Nessie and UFOs for when they webcam across your webcam you can cam them on the web.

For his “Ask the Atheist” column, Jim Underdown suggests toilet paper alternatives. They are creative:

1. Roman sponges. Ok, these are sea sponges, not dish sponges. The Romans put them on the end of stick, and rinsed them before passing them over to the next guy at the baths. It’s this kind of groundbreaking civility that kept the Roman Empire going for over 1000 years. …

… 5. A cat. (This option is self-cleaning.)

Wouldn’t you like to be an astronaut right about now?

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.