Philippe Roose - CC-BY-SA-2.0

Pie Sussudio Domine

November 25, 2019

CSICon attendees got to see Julia Sweeney (CFI’s newest board member) perform part of her latest one-person show, Older and Wider, which features a section in which she deals with the social implications of her Saturday Night Live character Pat. (“My God, what did I do?” she says in the show. “Was I the Al Jolson of androgyny?”) In the New York Times, David Itzkoff explores the issue of Pat further, for good and ill:

Sweeney said that she was willing to listen to criticism of Pat and did not dismiss anyone who felt hurt by the character. “I’m always open to me doing something wrong,” she said. “Because I have done so many wrong things.” …

… Citing “Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer,” another popular recurring character from her era of “S.N.L.”, she said, “If there were Neanderthals now, working as lawyers, they would be like, ‘People call me ‘Caveman Lawyer’ and I was traumatized by it.’”

While Sweeney considered it a worthwhile endeavor to look back at past efforts and consider how cultural standards have evolved, she said we should be careful not to reflexively dismiss performers or works that are deemed out of step.

In another 30 years, she said, “It could be that people will watch movies from now, that are the most politically correct, and you know what they might say? ‘I couldn’t listen to what the characters are saying because they were eating a hamburger.’”

She added, “Don’t dismiss everything, because norms and expectations that we once accepted are going to keep changing.”

Kirsten Berg and Moiz Syed at ProPublica offer 31 examples of the huge reversal of LGBTQ rights happening under Trump.

NBC TV stations put out a major survey of employees of the Catholic Church and found some interesting things. For one:

… about 39% of the church employees who responded to the survey said they believe abuse or misconduct “is still a major problem” in today’s parishes and Catholic organizations. That compares with just under 14% who said abuse or misconduct “is no longer a major problem.” About 46% percent of respondents said abuse or misconduct was never more of a problem in the Catholic Church than it is in other fields that involve the care of minors.

So that’s 60 percent who are in some form of denial of the crisis, which says a lot about why so little has been done. Plus, 64 percent says media coverage of the crisis has been unfair. Ugh. Overall, the nuns in the survey were the most grounded in reality.

Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times unloads on the University of California system for allowing its medical services to be entangled with Catholic dogma, due to its contracts with Catholic hospitals that tie the hands of professionals from advising or treating patients in any way that the bishops don’t like.

The Center for Security Policy, a virulently far-right, anti-Muslim group, hosted a banquet at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club on Saturday. The Post‘s David Fahrenthold reports:

At Mar-a-Lago, many of his best customers quit. Two years later, most are still gone.

In their place, Mar-a-Lago has attracted some Trump superfans, who have thrown banquets and other events to help the president’s bottom line. And it has attracted new customers aligned with Trump’s hard-right politics.

Saturday’s event illustrates the conflict inherent in that kind of business. At this gala, a conservative group that wants to shape Trump’s public policy will also become his private customer.

This is unexpected. David Ludden at Psychology Today explains the results of a study on how religious and nonreligious people apply scientific thinking and standards of evidence to particular claims. He writes:

… religious persons showed no bias against scientific reasoning.

Also consistent with past studies, religious people set a lower bar for accepting supernatural claims versus natural claims. Surprisingly, however, so did the non-religious participants! In other words, both groups needed to see fewer replications of the prayer therapy (compared with the medical therapy) to be convinced it was effective.


The Church of England openly confronts the role of Christian theology in the Holocaust:

Christian theology played a part in the stereotyping and persecution of Jewish people which ultimately led to the Holocaust, a new reflection on Christian-Jewish relations issued by the Church of England acknowledges. … [a new teaching document] urges Anglicans and other Christians not only to repent of the “sins of the past” towards their Jewish neighbours but to be alert to and actively challenge such attitudes or stereotypes.

Pope Francis declares to Hiroshima survivors that nuclear weapons are immoral. Really going for that low-hanging fruit there.

But okay okay. He also said this:

In a single plea to God and to all men and women of good will, on behalf of all the victims of nuclear weapons and experiments, and of all conflicts, let us together cry out: Never again war, never again the clash of arms, never again so much suffering!

The Wisconsin Department of Justice had set up a chaplaincy program that included only six chaplains, all white male Christians. FFRF sued. A new attorney general was later elected. The new AG converted the program to a secular “Employee Support Team.” And there was much rejoicing.

Christopher White at The Good Men Project reflects on how his atheism was a default position to be accepted, not a belief he arrived at:

I have at times been tempted to believe in belief in God as a time-tested psychosocial phenomenon with demonstrable utility. … [But] I remain simply a scientific atheist, recognizing the potential for moral progress in the work of both the hard and the soft sciences toward the relief of suffering in the world.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, aka Ahok, who was governor of Jakarta before being carted off to prison for blasphemy, holds a public office once again, now as president commissioner of Indonesia’s state oil and gas company Pertamina.

Larry Baker writes at the Iowa City Press-Citizen that the irony of 2020 is that “the best thing that could happen to American Christianity would be the election of a former Catholic, gay, devout Episcopalian.” He goes on:

Pete Buttigieg is a devout Christian, but that’s not a reason to vote for him. Vote for whomever you wish.

Me, I’m going to relish the thought of Pete and Chasten’s first Sunday in the White House. I’ll still be an agnostic, but I’ll be a proud American too.

A bonus? Jerry Falwell will be spinning in his grave.

The New York Times has a piece by Arit John called “Is Weed Church Church?” and I just can’t even with that title.

“Sometimes I’m not sure whether the best response to pseudoscience is to ignore it, or to patiently try to explain why it’s wrong, or to get mad,” writes Steven Salzberg in the opening to his latest Forbes piece. “This week I’m mad.” Here’s why. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, with its “integrative medicine” center, is getting $3.7 million from the NIH to study acupuncture’s effect on pain for cancer patients. “Offering these patients ineffective treatments based on pseudoscience–and make no mistake, that’s what acupuncture is–is immoral.”

Discover reports on the finding that a galaxy cluster, the Phoenix Cluster, is forming stars despite a supermassive black hole at its center, which isn’t supposed to happen. But look at that picture, SURELY there are Infinity Stones at work there.

Stephanie Pappas as Live Science talks us through the implications of a flattened Earth:

To flatten Earth without spinning it very rapidly, you’d need magic, or perhaps a galactic panini press. At any rate, a stamped-flat Earth wouldn’t last for long. Within a few hours, the force of gravity would press the planet back into a spheroid. Gravity pulls equally from all sides, which e

xplains why planets are spheres (or nearly so – depending on the speed of a planet’s rotation, those forces may work against gravity to create a bit of a bulge at the equator). A stable, solid disk-like Earth just isn’t possible under the actual conditions of gravity, as Maxwell’s math showed.

And once you get rid of gravity, everything about our planet rapidly stops making sense.

Oh, only then do things stop making sense? We are so far past that.

A North Carolina church’s sign complains that someone is “TRYING 2 IMPEACH JESUS TOO! WONT HAPPEN EITHER!” The pastor “explains,” or, at least, made words form sentence-like structures:

I started thinking about the society we’re in and how it’s become Godless. They’re trying to impeach a president they’re not happy that won an election. I said what’s the difference? They’re trying to take God out of everything as well.

Yeah! A president elected by technicality who’s in trouble for stuff he did versus a mythological deity who fewer people believe in! What’s the difference!

Now it can be told: Baby Jesus was Phil Collins all along. I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT.

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.