Other than fellowship

This could also apply to constipation and S&M.

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Just like a hovercraft

Sadly, I wasn’t in a position to get a picture of this one, but I saw a church sign yesterday that read:

Our Lifeguard
Walks on Water

Well, considering that the gecko is capable of walking on water, are they trying to sell me insurance?

Or, more likely, it’s a useless talent. If you can walk on the water, it’s not going to do you a whole lot of good if he can’t get under the water to reach someone who’s, you know, drowning.

What is justice?

Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach, has been found guilty on 45 of 48 counts involving child rape and molestation. His sentencing is yet to come, but no matter what the actual sentence is, it’s highly unlikely that he will ever see anything outside of the walls of the prison to which he will be confined. (And that’s assuming he isn’t actually given a life sentence, admittedly a huge assumption.)

And those are just the counts for which he was tried. Who knows how many other kids — including his own son — were molested but not cited in one of the counts for which he was convicted? The best thing we can say here is that he’s not going to hurt anyone else.

Undoubtedly, there will be no shortage of blog entries over the course of the next few weeks and months, where the author will argue that Sandusky will be raped and possibly even murdered in prison. They’re probably right that it’s going to happen. Looking at recent examples that follow similar patterns, John Geoghan was killed in prison about a year and a half after his conviction, and Jeffrey Dahmer lasted about two years. Without regard to whether it’s right or even just that it happens, I think it’s reasonable to assume that the same fate will likely befall Sandusky. Barring a heart attack or some other health issue that is likely to come from the stress of this entire situation, he will not die a natural death.

But here’s where the most heinous of crimes really tries the limits of the definition of “justice”. Part of the reason why I don’t really have much of a problem with the death penalty is that — disproportionate handing down of the sentence notwithstanding — is that we go out of our way to ensure that it’s not in violation of the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the eighth amendment of the US constitution. (Although I’m sure that fans of Gilbert and Sullivan might disagree… You can’t let the punishment fit the crime when more than one life has been ruined by the criminal, since the criminal only has one life to ruin in retribution. Read the stories of anyone who was victimized by Timothy McVeigh in response to his execution.)

We should not celebrate the near certainty that Jerry Sandusky will be raped and murdered in prison. It’s not really an “if” but rather a “when”. But we should not look the other way when it happens, either; anyone who does it in prison should be tried and to the full extent of the law.

But with that question out of the way, the bigger question is: how can we help Sandusky’s victims to heal? His conviction clearly marks the end of a painful part of their lives. But what can help them move on? I have never known anyone who has been raped, to have wished that being raped on their attacker (although, I suspect, it is possible for some…)

So how can we truly hope for justice for Sandusky’s victims? Is it a lost cause to begin with? Is justice even a worthy goal for someone whose crimes were as widespread and heinous as Sandusky’s were? What exactly is justice in situations like this?

I’ll be curious to know how other countries would handle something like this. We’re going to see one example in the not-too-distant future with the trial of Anders Breivik.

There’s an App for Hypocrisy

A couple of days ago, I did a search on the iPhone App Store under the keyword of ‘atheism’.

There was a free app a bit of a way’s down, called “No Religion Zone.” I had some reservations about downloading this app, since the creator of this app was credited as “New Life Church” in Sandusky, Ohio.

The description of the app didn’t really give me a sense of what they were about. The description didn’t say much of anything other than exploring the difference between “religion” and “relationship”.

Let me shed some light on the meanings of both terms:

A religion is a community, one which requires adherence to a series of beliefs even in the face of new evidence that directly contradicts those beliefs.

A relationship is any link between two or more people who have some degree of familiarity. There is no requirement of faith, belief, or even maintenance (even if maintenance of the relationship is generally a good idea…)

The reviews were, for the most part, equally unhelpful. Here is the full text of one of the five-star reviews the app has received:

I always wanted to have an app like this for a long time ago.. Cos religion makes me sick!&$@!#%+£€

And here’s another:

Best app ever!! No religion baby!!!

And one more for good measure:

Top quality app A++. Very true and inspiring message!

There’s an adage in the tabloid publishing industry that there’s no such thing as too many exclamation marks. All of the five-star reviews for the app have at least one exclamation mark.

There was a single one-star review that actually made sense: it’s more than a little bit longer than the five-star reviews; the reviewer made a point of arguing that “even a humidor that says ‘no cigars’ can still have cigars in it.”

Since I wouldn’t lose any money in the process, I decided to download the app. It took me about ten minutes of navigating the app, that I knew that this was a lost cause and that this app certainly wasn’t worth it. Here’s the review I wrote, verbatim:

Either the leaders of the church promoted by this app either demonstrate a cognitive dissonance or outright hypocrisy. They say “no religion” yet promote church gatherings in support of their faith.

The degree of disconnect between actions (a faith-based community pledging blind faith in some supernatural power and the associated scriptures) and words (not being a religion) is actually not uncommon in some evangelical Christian circles and is often used to defy the constitutional separation of church and state. Bottom line, if you truly wish to consider yourself not a religion, I’ve got another word to apply to your church: a cult.

It’s glaringly obvious that the five-star reviews came from members. And it’s also glaringly obvious that this is an attempt to proselytize to people who shouldn’t be preached to in the first place.

This app has a total of ten reviews (six of the current version) with an average rating of 2.5 stars. With this high an average, I’m reminded of an old XKCD strip: