Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pat Robertson Says Stupid Shit. Hooray!

People have been forwarding me this video of the Rev. Pat Robertson stating that the recent horrific and deadly earthquake in Haiti was the result of a pact with Satan entered into by the Haitian people.

It's fucking hilarious. I understand why this upsets people. It should. But on the other hand, it just shows how Rev. Robertson continues to marginalize himself and make himself and his cause look more and more ridiculous. This, I think, is a great thing.

In the 80s I was really worried that guys like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell were going to establish themselves as powerful political figures in America. That never happened. Even G.W. Bush's association with the religious right was small beans. I know people will argue about this. And it's fine if you do. It's great that people still care about this and it's one of the ways the religious right will continue to become more marginalized and powerless.

I'm not saying the religious right is powerless yet. But compared to 20 years ago, they ain't nothin'. I know folks will argue about that too and say they're stronger than ever. But, y'know what? They aren't. They really, really are not. So there.

You can see this in just the simple day to day interaction of real people now as compared to 20 years ago. Look. I got hassled and threatened in high school because I was known to be gay. I wasn't actually gay. But I was known to be gay and that's all that mattered. These days Wadsworth High School has openly gay and lesbian students. This would have been absolutely unthinkable when I went there. They would have had the shit beaten out of them. Literally. And this would have been acceptable. Maybe not legally acceptable. But socially acceptable. They would have been seen as having deserved it.

Look at Lady GaGa with her fetish oriented videos. Great stuff! And also absolutely impossible to imagine getting shown anywhere in the 1980s.

Things have changed a whole lot. And mostly for the better. If the religious right were as powerful as some folks fear, these real tangible social changes could not have happened.

There are plenty of other examples of the waning in power of the religious right. But I'm not gonna waste time citing them.

So I say, rock on Pat Robertson! Keep saying stupid shit!


anon #108 said...

Think I'll let someone else be first this time.

anon #108 said...


Jinzang said...

Rather than hope the Religious Right wither away, I'd rather see it turn it's energy to something good. For example, the RR seems to be disproportionately blue collar. (Unfortunately, not true for its leadership.) What if it turned its energy to fight for workers' rights under the slogan, "The workman is worthy of his hire"?

Michael James Gibbs said...

This is pretty funny, being that I'm currently reading Richard Dawkins The God Delusion. It has some of the other nonsensical quotes that Robertson has blurted out in the past. Brad hits upon something that Dawkins also mentions...the moral zeitgeist, Dawkins can explain it much better and I can (plus I'm lazy) but it's simply the recognition of humanities morality slowly evolving in a better direction in spite of a few set backs here and there. We don't burn woman at the stake no more.

QUESTION BRAD: Do you think a person that learns the correct practice of Zazen (correct posture, no goal, thinking nonthinking) without all the philosophical study (which people seem to turn into dogmatic beliefs beyond direct experience) would have the same experience of balance that of a person that practices Zazen and studies the philosophy of Buddha, Dogen, or Nargajuna? If yes, why so? If no, why not? Couldn't such philosophical studies lead to Zazen with goals and couldn't people begin to interpret "reality" through these philosophical lenses rather than see reality clearly from the simple practice of sitting Zazen each day and bringing into balance the autonomic nervous system?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

This is what's meant by "Taking the Lord's name in vain."

Jinzang said...

Couldn't such philosophical studies lead to Zazen with goals and couldn't people begin to interpret "reality" through these philosophical lenses rather than see reality clearly from the simple practice of sitting Zazen

Dunno what Brad will say. But I can't resist giving my own opinion.

People practicing Zen have goals already. The philosophy and practice of Buddhism are designed to wear through them (not rip them away, otherwise you wind up a second rate Krishnamurti.) What the philosophy is NOT designed to do is stuff your head, That would be eternalism (or idealism, as Gudo and Brad like to call it.)

The philosophy and practice are a single system and it's cleverly designed. You should give Buddha et. al. some credit and not reject it beforehand.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

I remember laughing my ass off when Reagan ran for the Republican nomination in 1976. Then the fucker got elected in 1980. Not so funny. But I still laughed my ass off when I saw "Back To The Future" when Doc Brown is told that Ronald Reagan is president now, and he says, "Ronald Reagan? The actor? Then who's vice-president, Jerry Lewis? I suppose Jane Wyman is the First Lady? And Jack Benny is Secretary of the Treasury!"

But then after two terms of Reagan and then George HW Bush being elected I was finding it real fucking hard to laugh anymore. And then came Newt Gingrich and the Contract on America. And then EIGHT FUCKING YEARS OF GEORGE W. BUSH.

Hey, this shit is not funny any more. Not even a little.

And if all that doesn't ruin your fucking day, brothers and sisters, Pente-fucking-costalism is the fastest growing religious tradition on earth:
Pew Forum "Primer" on Pentecostalism

Let us pray.

Dru said...

Last night I was looking for something to listen to on the radio and I passed through someone talking, I went back and heard someone on a religious station talking about abortion (among other things people should be punished for) and somehow Nazism and Shintoism were mentioned as if they were interchangeable. I couldn't really follow the talk it was veering wildly from subject to subject, but it was the Shintoism bit that caught my attention. I'm not a theologian or a historian but from the relatively little I know about these two groups I just can't imaging connecting them; but I guess if your world view is a thin sliver, outside of which all else is evil then those two groups are equally not 'you' there for bad. Strange.

The Donald said...

slow down...

"the fastest-growing Christian movement in the world."

And THAT is not saying much. It is counting a few more chairs in one room over other rooms on a sinking ship.

Pentecostal Churches are closing as fast as any others.

The percentage of American adults who identify themselves as Christians dropped from 86% in 1990 to 77% in 2001.

The percentage of American adults who identify themselves as Protestants dropped below 50% about the year 2005.

Confidence in religious institutions has hit an all-time low. SOURCE

A few friends and I keep track of closed churches to potentially turn into more useful purposes - such as handball courts or basketball courts. Currently there are well over 100 such closed joints nearby. Unfortunately, the prices, and egos, are still highly inflated.

Anonymous said...

Pat Robertson, at 79-years, has a high risk of a deadly stroke or heart attack.

Cheney is in the same (sinking) boat.

Pat claims he can leg press a ton.

Maybe he takes vitamins.

Anonymous said...

"It would be like discovering that Buddha, unbeknownst to anybody, had sat down and wrote down the entirety of his discoveries and it could be verified that he wrote it," said Tommy Davis, the church's top spokesman.

Andy said...

It was only 5 years that the Christian right had a HUGE hand in re- electing George Bush. And they're still key in crushing all gay marriage initiatives. So, Brad let's no overemphasize their insignificance.

Kevin said...

I wonder what Jesus would think of all of the stupid shit done and said in his name? Religious hypocrites do far worse things to his message than the Romans did to his physical body. A few years back Robertson was calling for the CIA to assassinate some foreign leader somewhere. I forget the specifics, but these are confusing statements coming from a supposed disciple of the Prince of Peace.


I'd be happy if the so-called Religious Right would do what they are supposed to do and set their self aside and bear their cross, thus undertaking Christ's work on earth through acts of charity and compassion. It's funny how the teachings of someone as outspoken as Jesus was on the subject of religious hypocrisy have spawned so many judgemental, religious hypocrites.

"Judge not lest ye be held to can you remove the splinter from your brother's eye, without first removing the beam from your own." Always been a favorite passage of mine, that's why it puzzles me when people like Robertson open up their mouths with such judgemental horseshit.


I'm by no stretch of the imagination a Zen master, but from both personal experience and reading on the subject, I understand that the practice of Zazen can lead to a lot of repressed aspects of the ego floating to the surface. Without proper instruction and understanding of the teachings (or at least a mental health professional), these repressed thoughts/feelings can cause serious psychological harm. Found that one out the hard way. I understand why Brad recommends finding a good teacher. If those "personal demons" come floating up to the surface it can really mess with your head. And if you're going to practice Zazen, it it also essential to make an honest effort to live the philosophy. You can't fool yourself. It'll keep coming back up until you do. That's been my experience. take it for what it's worth. don't know if anyone else sees it that way, and I much don't care. it's been my experience, and that's my understanding. just thought I'd share it with the rest of the class.

Michael James Gibbs said...

Thanks for adding your two cents Jinzang. I do give Buddha credit ( what's et. al. by the way?) and thankful that his teachings have survived up until now. But maybe due to the influence of Christianity, I find it difficult to not turn the teachings into self interpreted dogma and often see others doing this as well, especially in the case with my Tibetan Buddhist background. TB makes me spacey and indifferent. I probably keep going back in fear of Vajra Hell (which seems no different than the fear inducing hell of Christianity. But its much easier to see that Christianity is bullshit). I've had some pretty convincing experiences (supernatural like) with TB. On the other hand, I have fallen into many pitfalls while studying and practicing TB as I go back in forth between it, Zen, and now Atheism/Humanism. Currently, I'm fed up with dogmatism. I constantly feel like I'm banging my head against the wall with things that can not be proved anyway. This may be do to my own misunderstandings and not the teachings themselves. But I know I am not alone when it comes to such matters. Never the less, I currently have an appreciation for Gudo's teaching about Zazen balancing of the atomic nervous system and letting body (matter, materialism) and mind (thoughts, spirituality) fall off by synthesizing into reality (action at the present moment). If possible, I feel there should be scientific experimentation done upon this theory. Atheism can often seem to materialistic, TB often seems to spiritualistic. Soto Zen seems to be in the middle, the reality. I don't know! I've been sitting Zazen twice a day for a week in a half. Maybe I'll keep it up this time.

Michael James Gibbs said...

Thanks Kevin. I'm actually going through a personal crisis, so I will keep that in mind while I continue to sit.

Boukman said...

...On 14 August 1791, a black slave and witch doctor named Boukman led the slaves in a voodoo ritual. They sacrificed a pig and drank its blood to form a pact with the devil, whereby they agreed to serve the spirits of the island for 200 years in exchange for freedom from the French. The slave rebellion commenced on 22 August 1791, and after 13 years of conflict, the slaves won their independence. On 1 January 1804 they declared Haiti the world's first independent black republic. An iron statue of a pig stands in Port-au-Prince to commemorate the "Boukman Contract"....

Apuleius Platonicus said...

"I wonder what Jesus would think of all of the stupid shit done and said in his name?"

Jesus would dig it, big time.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say "By their fruits shall ye know them."

mixedi said...

Fòk nou fouyapòt mezanmi. Se zafè patrimwàn nasyonal nou nap pale. Nan yon ka konsa, se pa estati kochon an ki gen enpòtans non, men gade kouman misyon evanjelik anti-Vodou yo defòme koze a. Si nou pa aprann tout ti detay verite istorik lakay nou, si nou meprize ou neglije "la vérité historique", nou san lè vale glòt-glòt tout kalite manti (vyann poul mouri santi) etranje a vin lage nan gòjèt nou.

Antouka, mèsi Michel pou tout enfòmasyon sa yo. Mèsi tou, Gelin, pou ensistans ou sou koze a.
Plizyè fwa deja, mwen konn mande enfòmasyon sou divès bagay sou fowòm lan, epi apre de ou twa mwa moun pa okipe mwen, yon degoutans pran mwen epi mwen jis retire kesyon an. Degoutans lan, se paske mwen remake ke byen souvan Ayisyen plis enterese nan fè vye enfòmasyon san tèt ni pye mache, pou yo kab domaje yon lòt, olye yo fè laverite mache. Si sa ou mande a pa frape yon lòt moun dirèkteman, yo jis ba ou vag, yo pa okipe ou. Se atitid sa yo mwen twouve ki dekourajan lakay nou. Moun lan ki gen bon enfòmasyon an, li jis kenbe l pou tèt pa l, epi li kite manti ap vale teren.

Kevin said...


Any set in stone way of looking at things is bullshit, not just Christianity. It doesn't accept for the current reality of now. That's why people get lost in -isms.

And there may be some Christians who have quite different beliefs than that of those that you've encountered, so be careful with such broad sweeping generalizations.

Anonymous said...


and that caused the tectonic plates to shift!

Kevin said...

Apuleius Platonicus:

Just on speculation: you really think he was the ego maniac they've made him out to be?

ChiPig said...

Boukman was from one of the British islands. Nobody knew his real name, because he was not from a particular plantation where one could identify himself by his master’s name. However, his nickname was “book man” because he was intelligent, and knew how to read and write. He was a seaman, a pirate who escaped from a British ship, and he established himself in the high unreachable mountains of La Selle, and le Cibao. The frontier of St Domingue at that time and still is a no man land; where everything goes.

Zinglindo said...

The iron statue of the pig was not to commemorate the ceremony held in the woods at Bois Caiman. The statue was a gift from the Italian Embassy to the Haitian people..

Anonymous said...

Off topic, sorry. Just a question I had.

If my ego is not reality, then where does the "will to truth", as Brad says Gudo Nishijima calls it, come from?

Mysterion said...

Here's a Haitian talking about Haiti:

voodoo is not satanism, by the way.

but to Xtian DUALISTS, anything that is not their narrow band of christian is satenism.

Set - the dude against Osirus - is where the concept of saten is hatched. the entire concept of hell, satan, and the like were not part of the OT nor were they part of the Judahiac Traditions.

NellaLou said...

Commenter Boukman wrote:
"a black slave and witch doctor named Boukman led the slaves in a voodoo ritual. They sacrificed a pig and drank its blood to form a pact with the devil, whereby they agreed to serve the spirits of the island for 200 years in exchange for freedom from the French."

There was no pact with the "devil". Christian missionaries especially the zealous type tend to label any and all indigenous religious expression as devil-dealing.

In Haiti Voodoo, an indigenous religious practice, has status as a state religion. At the time that happened:

"President Aristide’s state recognition of voodoo was decried by American missionaries as an attempt “to rededicate Haiti to Satan”,"

Lets not start spreading devil-dealing "facts" without knowing the indigenous religious situation.

Here's an educated opinion:

Here's a list of links with reliable general cultural information on Vodun (Voodoo)

mixedi - historical truth is difficult to find since history is always written by those who have the time and money to sit around and write it. We can only try to set that straight when opportunity presents itself.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

mixedi said (8.44):

"Se atitid sa yo mwen twouve ki dekourajan lakay nou. Moun lan ki gen bon enfòmasyon an, li jis kenbe l pou tèt pa l, epi li kite manti ap vale teren."

Interesting. But this can only be partial understanding. After all what is my "bon enfòmasyon" right now? This will take some reflection.

anon #108 said...

Hi anon @ 1.08 -

"If my ego is not reality..."

I don't believe I've read/heard Gudo or Brad say that. Are you assuming "Buddhism" says that?

I'll have a crack at it: there is no seperate, self-existent "self/spirit/soul" that inhabits the body, and is different from the body. In that sense the 'self' is not 'real'. But, clearly, I - my body and what I experience as it's mental processes - exist, or so it reliably appears. And there is, for all of us (much of the time,) a sense of that 'I'/self - we are aware that we exist. Whatever movement of molecules causes us to have consciousness of our physical existence, there's little doubt that we have it. Analysis of aspects of that awareness, and of our behaviour led Freud to develop the concept of the 'ego' (das Ich -the I), along with the id and super-ego; an attempt to define aspects of our personality. That we have a personality - what some early Buddhists called pudgala is not doubted ("The Pudgalavādins asserted that, while there is no ātman, there is a pudgala or "person", which is neither the same as nor different from the skandhas." -Wiki).

So, although you may not have a self/soul/spirit/id/ego that exists apart from your body and that might continue to exist after your death, the organism YOU certainly exists, and your "will to the truth" is, would seem these days...a manifestation/expression/experience of the goings-on of that organism. In that sense, you, your motivations and your actions are certainly real.

For a clear, brief summary of the Gudo school of thinking on the topic of 'Buddhism and the Theory of No-Self', read this - Mike Luetchford says it much better than I. But I couldn't resist -

anon #108 said...

Sorry - I'm replying to anon @9.08pm, not 1.08.

proulx michel said...

C'est sûr qu'en Haïti, ces temps-ci, l'information est un peu déficiente...

Mais faut pas charger le cochon pour rien.

anon #108 said...

BTW, anon @ 9.08, if you don't already know -

"The Will to the Truth" is the Gudo/Cross translation of 'Do-Shin', the 93rd chapter of Dogen's Shobogenzo - one of the shortest, most straightforward chapters, recommending devotion to the three treasures (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha), making Buddha images, producing copies of the Lotus Sutra, and practicing zazen. Gudo remarks that "...some Buddhist scholars suppose that this chapter may have been written and preached for laypeople."

After I'd posted my attempt to answer your question, I wondered if, in fact, you were asking: If there is no autonomous self/ego, what is the 'will' (as in 'free will'); where does it 'come from'? If that is what you meant, I share your confusion and haven't got a clue what the answer might be.

Anonymous said...

anon 108:

hey, it's me Kevin (aka 666 douche) again. I was the one who asked the anonymous question that you answered. Maybe what I meant to ask was if my ego isn't my true nature, then where does the "will to truth" come from? It seems that in searching for one's "true nature" the ego, or discriminating mind, must be utilized, but not clinged to. For that matter, the ego must be utilized, but not clinged to in anything we do. almost like wielding a tool. your thoughts?


Satan existed, although was viewed differently, in the Old Testament. The book of Job features Satan prominently.

And just because some slavers were Christian (does that also make ancient Egyptian mysticism a slaver religion?) does NOT make Christianity a slaver religion. The passage you cite from Ephesians is intended to help slaves endure their subjugation, not an endorsement of slavery. I don't get too much into quoting scripture. Texts can be manipulated to prove any thesis. An understanding of the big picture is always best.

Please don't speak of Christians as if you've met them all, or assume that Pat Robertson, or the ignorant right, speak for us all.

I thought this was a Buddhist forum, and that Buddhism taught non-judgement. But I manage to read a lot of ignorant things on here when it pertains to the subject of Christianity. Perhaps we are not that different?

Mumon said...

Three points, which I'm sure others have considered:

1. The reason the religious right is relatively unpopular today is in part because there was a reasonably organized backlash against them, including that on the internet. That's why, even though his acolytes are so anti-any religion, it's nice to give PZ Myers some love now and then. He'd be doing the Lord's work, if there was a sole deity.

2. The religious right is not dead by any means, and remains potentially virulent. I'll post more on my blog on this.

Mumon said...

3. There is no 3rd point.

Anonymous said...

anon 108:

yeah that's more of what I was getting at, I guess. Haven't read Gudo's translation of Dogen, but I plan to. My only knowledge of it is from Sit down and shut up. As the lead singer in punk rock band, I can really relate to the way Brad breaks some of these things down. Kind of seemed like Brad was saying the "will to truth" was the act of pursuing a realization of Zen. Made me think of something I read when I first encountered Buddhism.

It stuck with me, because at the time I had rejected the Catholic faith of my upbringing and adopted an atheist point of view. As I began to study Buddhism more carefully, I found it turning me back to the faith of my ancestry, albeit with a new perspective. I think what's being described in the second part that the student reads to Gasan is a form of the "will to truth."

Thank you again for enjoyable discussion.

anon #108 said...

Hey Kev!

"...if my ego isn't my true nature..." - Isn't it?

I'm sure there's plenty Buddhists would disagree with me, but I don't see the 'ego' as 'untrue', in the sense of mistaken/erroneous but as one partial aspect of our 'selves'. The ego is no less true than that aspect of you that has the occasional insight or 'spiritual experience'. And, for me, those insights/experiences aren't necessarily 'more true' - all that we are changes from moment to moment. We can analyse and distinguish aspects like 'ego'/id and Buddha-nature/deluded self but those aren't real things - we are not at one moment 'ego', then, 'true self' - they are just convenient concepts/constructed notions that can help us discuss ourselves, in some situations, sometimes. So yes, I guess it makes sense to say "the ego must be utilized, but not clinged to in anything we do. almost like wielding a tool."

We can only start from here, right?
To quote T.S. Eliot:

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

Thems my thoughts.

anon #108 said...

Kevin - my last post crossed yours.

Yeah, I've heard that story before. It's a nice story.

And yes, a nice chat. Hope some of my ramblings made some sense.

Kevin said...

anon 108:

cool, man. what I was talking about relates to a Koan I heard back in college in an Eastern religions course. The prof had spent some time living in a Buddhist monastery. Basically, a student and his master were walking through the woods, and there path was blocked by some dense brush. The student asked for the master's knife to clear the path, and the master handed it to him blade first. The student asked for the master to hand him the knife handle first, and the master replied "what use is the handle?"

At first I took it as understanding that Koans were only meant to be used as constructs (tools) for realizing the truth, but as time went on I began to notice that ego, in a way, functions the same way. Almost like the subjective self is a koan in and of itslelf. But even that explanation is an exercise in intellectualism. I think the real point was to be mindful of how your use of the handle effects your use of the blade, right here and now, always.

Mumon said...


Thanks for the post, Brad, made me think.

But geez, maybe it was your time in Japan? Maybe it was your time in the band?

But politically, I don't think you're up to speed. Robetson's a diversion.


I don't think it's possible for the Religious Right to devote their energy to worker's rights or something else.

While in the early part of the 20th century there were those fundamentalists, such as William Jennings Bryan, who were broadly populist, Prohibition was the beginning of the end for the "benevolent" fundamentalist.

At a deeper level, I think a religious conservative can't, by definition, adjust to impermance (naturally!), or even progress. Conservatism is, without bias, has a gloomy outlook for changing the status quo towards the better.

So, yeah, I think it's good for it to wither away.

Anonymous said...


think it would be better that religious conservatism would begin to move in a progressive direction. slowly, the Catholic church has, but it still has a long ways to go. That sect is almost 2000 years old and it's just now learning to adapt to social reality. I think our American protestant fundamentalist friends have an even longer road to hoe.

Mr. Reee said...

The source of 'Will to Truth'?

In absolute terms, my guess is it comes from reality itself (No word on what the truth is, however.)

In relative terms, my understanding of the Will to Truth is that it's simply acknowledging that each of us has a tendency to massage the 'truth' into untruthful forms to support our delusions. Eventually we realize that we can best start seeing our delusions for what they are by committing to seeing 'the truth' of our situations and acting accordingly (the emphasis is on 'situation' and 'act'--not idle philosophizing...)

In other words, it's a change in priorities. Use the truth to see through the delusion, rather than using delusion to find 'the truth.'

Or something like that.

"Dammit Jim! I'm a doctor! Not a Zenji!"

NellaLou said...

On Robertson's blunders over the years. A collection of stupidity. He's been talking that trash for years.

Jonny said...

Excuse me Brad, but I think you'll find Michael Jackson was doing the Lady Gaga thing way back in the 80s... ;)

David said...

Re: Lady GaGa videos:

A continuous stream of soft porn on TV is a sign of social progress?

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Anonymous said...

It is scary that the Pat Robertson's of any ilk get so much air time. Glen Beck, Rush Limbau(sp?)...
It seems there is an audience for them, there must be if they're on more than sensible people. It is true that the vast majority of the Religious Right is working class. They are kept ignorant and fearful of the "other" by they rightwingers with money. They need them to stay rich and in power. They need them ignorant, scared, poor and uneducated. People like Pat Roberston convince people they are selling knowledge instead of fear.
They claim to speak for Jesus, a poor jewish peasant who many believe questioned the authority of the day, Roman rule and Jewish aristocracy and the