Tag Archives: Christianity

Please Die Already



There has been quite a hullabaloo recently about the healthcare reform bill, incited mainly by this man and this woman. Why are they ranting and raving about Democrats creating “death panels” that will decide whether or not the elderly† or mentally disabled‡ continue to receive medical treatment? Can’t they see that America is chock full of people ripe for Death’s annual picking?

The Democrats want people to have access to “end of life counseling.” That is a nice way of them saying “we want to encourage you to die without eating up millions of millions of dollars in care.” And the elderly and infirm DO eat up millions of dollars; 80% of the money you spend on healthcare will be spent during the last three months of your life. Is it really worth it? To spend hour after hour, barely breathing, barely thinking, hooked up to life support with a feeding tube in your gut?

Americans have become highly sensitive to the issue of death. I thought that the whole reason behind this mushy Christianity stuff was to make people comfortable with the idea of dying. “Oh, don’t worry, there’s always the afterlife! Feel free to pass away as you wish.” Nope. Christian evangelicals and conservative Catholics are amongst the most adamant individuals who support your right to clutch on to your existence by any means; even if your body and mind have rotted away to nothing.

Actually, they’re not even supporting your right to life; they’d keep you alive regardless of how you feel.

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddman crochety old for the State to continue financing your life."

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddamn crotchety old for the State to continue financing your life."

What about my right to death? Listen to me: people need to die. People have been dying for millions and millions of years. Its natural. It happens all the time. The problem is that no one has instructed us on how to cope with and move past these tragic events.

Wait. Tragic? It shouldn’t be tragic; it should be joyful. The joyful passing of your loved one. We are so far removed from our natural state of being that we no longer value death… excluding the deaths of our enemies; that has always been joyous.

Lion King

Even Disney supports death panels.

Human bodies were not designed (intelligent or not) to last forever. Our cells stop regenerating as well, our joints become rigid and sore, our systems fail to save over and over again until it gets to a point that your body just dies. All of this extensive healthcare is in denial of the natural ‘Circle of Life‘. Certainly the deaths’ of those who did not live up to the prime peaks of life are tragic; they died too soon. But that only covers people up to about age 40; if you live past that point, I will be joyfully celebrating your passing with explicit glee.

So lighten up. Embrace death (the insurance companies have been running death panels for years now). Maybe even buy a t-shirt. It’ll balance the budget for Christ’s-sakes.

You don’t want to be alive for the zombie apocalypse anyway…

†‡Not that either of these groups really qualify as  being ‘that alive’ in the first place.

jakefunc is a contributing writer and editor of projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.



Filed under philosophy, Politics, science, social commentary

Seven Bands That Redeem Christian Music

There are a lot of Christians out there, and there are a lot of musicians out there, and like any good Venn Diagram these two groups must, at some point, overlap. And they do; many, many musicians admit to Christianity being their faith of choice. This is not a problem, in general most people who find a band they like, like that band regardless of who’s producing the music what whether they worship Jesus or Allah. However, while it is okay for individual artists to admit to being Christian, when a whole band declares themselves Christian people get uneasy. Tell someone you want them to listen to this new band you discovered, and they’ll be glad to sit down and listen, but ask them to sit down and listen to this new Christian band you discovered and they start to act uncomfortable, regardless of their faith. This is not necessarily due to the content of the lyrics (read as: Jesus), but is due to the fact that, quite simply a lot of Christian bands…well…suck.

Below: what most people think of when they think of Christian music (more or less).

For one of the groups most responsible for the evolution of music into a form of high art, the Christians sure have managed to take music to new lows in the past fifty years or so. It’s no wonder so many people have a bad view of Christian music; what was once meant to inspire now just panders to a mass of people who will buy anything that says “I love Jesus” enough times in the lyrics. Somewhere along the way someone figured out that there was an easy profit to be made in Christian music and ran with it, leaving artists with musical and spiritual integrity in the dust.

To prove that all is not lost, I have searched high and low through Christian music and assembled a slate of seven bands that prove that not every band that calls themselves Christian deserves your scorn. Many of these bands have struggled to make names for themselves, equally being bashed for being “too Christian” by some and “not Christian enough” by others, but one thing that can’t be argued is that  these bands are making some damn good music.

1. The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada is a Christian metalcore band hailing from Dayton, Ohio, who gets more “Christian or not” arguing than most of the bands on this list, in spite of having a music video that centers on someone giving their life to Jesus. While the music may not be for everyone (as I said, metalcore), it’s hard to deny that these guys are indeed, quite talented. They are far from the only Christian metal band out there, but they are, in my opinion, the best and most listenable one I’ve ever heard. The Christian undertones of the lyrics are actually quite refreshing and, in some instances, truly insiring and thought provoking. In spite of (or perhaps caused by) all the controversy regarding their status as a Christian band, they’ve come a long ways, even going so far as to be featured on Warped Tour’s main stage this year. Plus, their strong anti-materialistic values are pretty awesome, as you don’t see a lot of that in modern music.

2. As Cities Burn

As I mentioned previously, The Devil Wears Prada is far from the only Christian metal band out there, and as I alluded to, a lot of them suck. Before the release of 2008’s Hell or High Water, I would have simply lumped As Cities Burn into the “suck” category of Christian metal, but in 2008  As Cities Burn release a much more progressive album that, while being far from the best album of 2008, was also quite a long stretch away from the worst. Once again, the music isn’t for everone, but most people would have to admit that it’s pretty damn listenable. The Christian overtones of the album slide nicely into place without feeling obtrusive, and I’ve found the album to be very easily enjoyed by non-Christians and Christians alike in this regard.

3. MuteMath

MuteMath is a particularly sneaky Christian band. Somewhere along the way, MuteMath soaked up enough indie-cred to find their way onto a lot of people’s ipods (my own included), without anyone figuring out that they were listening to what is, all in all, a pretty Christian band. I greatly enjoy MuteMath (who have a  new album out in just four days), and their Christian-overtones have never once put me off. The only thing bad I have to say about this band is that one of their songs was featured in Twilight, but I’ll overlook it because the music video for the song I just posted is totally killer.

4. mewithoutYou

mewithoutYou is another Christian band that managed to pick up a lot of indie-cred with their music, even going so far as to share a stage with The Dear Hunter this year at several shows. mewithoutYou’s lyrics are intimidating works of art, that are Christian in the same sense that the Lord of the Rings is about World War II; if you don’t know what you’re looking for you’re going to miss most of it. The lyrics, purely as works of poetry, are quite lovely, even to someone who isn’t exactly a biblical scholar, and the music is pretty intriguing. You have to give them this; they’ve really brought indie style to Christianity in a much stronger way than any other band to date.

5. Kaddisfly

Sounding more like J-pop than Christian rock from the Pacific Northwest, Kaddisfly is an impressive band indeed. While many argue that they aren’t a Christian band, I would argue that they are, the overtones of their lyrics are quite spiritual, and with an obvious flavor of Christianity at that. The main reason against calling this band “Christian Music” is that they don’t fall into the stereotypes of what is commonly perceived as “Christian Music”, proving that the bitter taste left in people’s mouths by all that “praise Jesus, play powerchords” garbage makes it so that if a good band comes along with Christian themes in their music we don’t even want to call them Christian just so others will take them seriously.

While I didn’t feel like I could make a seperate space for this, the members of Kaddisfly minus the member who left last year started a new band in the wake of losing their fifth member to take their music in a new direction. Check it out; it’s good stuff.

6. Family Force 5

Other bands on this list have had their status as “Christian” called into question from time to time, but Family Force 5’s electro-crunk-rock-metal-pop-dance music has managed to offend the sensibilities of so many Christians that they don’t want to claim this band as one of their own, no matter how much they plug Jesus. Or maybe the issue is that, although at shows and in their materials Family Force 5 claim a strong Christian morale, their music is mostly about dancing and love and parties and other stuff that’s awesome. The tragedy here it that there’s a belief in a lot of right wing Christianity that dancing and having fun aren’t spiritually healthy things to do. Family Force 5 is out to turn that on its head. To quote Soul Glow Activatur (Famly Force 5’s lead singer), “To me, and pretty much anybody that’s under my age, most Christian music is a turnoff. I don’t want to be affiliated with that. I want to be affiliated with something that is great music.”

7. Sufjan Stevens

Of everyone on this list, this is the artist you’re most like to have heard or have heard of. Everyone saw Little Miss Sunshine, everyone has heard the song Chicago by Sufjan Stevens, but nobody knows the guy is actually pretty damn Christian. In case you honestly don’t know who he is Sufjan Stevens is an indie/folk musician from Illinois who makes music that is quite near divine even without the Christian overtones. While not all of his songs are about God the ones that are don’t make any attempt to hide it. Like his many friends on this list, his music has been attacked for not being Christian enough, to which he has responded that his music is about all aspects of his life, his Christianity being just one of the many things he might choose to write about. He has written quite a few songs related to his faith, some of them (including Casimir Pulaski Day, the song I’ve posted here), being quite interesting from a spiritual perspective. Sufjan Stevens is particularly unusual in that he makes music that doesn’t just praise God, but also questions God, and sounds totally awesome while doing so. Maybe if more artists took the example of Sufjan Stevens in this regard, Christian music would be seen as a valid art form by the outside world instead of the laughing stock it is now.

Or they could at least take a tip from modern Quaker music; we long ago perfect the art of awesome music.

HelloLion is a dedicated wordsmith, spending his time of manditory indentured blogging here at ProjectGroupThink. You WILL follow us on twitter @pgtblog. OBEY!


Filed under Entertainment


A few of you may not know who I am, so here’s a quick biography. My name is Tom. I am married, and I have a 21 month old boy named Ethan. I like long walks on the beach, smoking cigarette butts from the ashtray (not really), and NPR news.  The End. Now onto the post.

Ethan has been saying a range of words for some time now.  He is taking on new words daily. Sometime in the very near future his little brain is going to take these words and begin to formulate them into a billion questions. These questions are going to seem basic and redundant to most, but these questions will be the foundation of how he begins to understand the world and what’s around him.

I am trying to prepare myself for questions that might come up in the next few years while he is a wee lad.

Example: Is there a God?

This is a question I have put a considerable amount of thought into, but with no answer. Eventually, at some point a god based question will cross my path, and I need to have a parental response suitable for a child.

If any full grown adult asked me this I would reply with a simple no followed by an earful of my nonsense.

How exactly do you tell your child or any child truthfully about the likeliness of there not actually being a god without fracturing his/her own sense of free-will to make his/her own decisions?

I do not want to persuade him into not believing in God (though I definitely prefer it). I want him to come to that conclusion himself, but then again I don’t want him packing off for vacation bible school when he is 5 years old.

Granted, when your 5 years old god, money, and other randomness doesn’t play a significant role in your life, but your response to these questions as a parent begins the building of their foundation of thought, and a simple understanding about life. So, I feel answering these questions appropriately is vital.

Amanda and I have had the “religion” discussion in terms of how to go about it with Ethan quite a few times. Amanda believes in a God, as I don’t. She asked “Well, what if I wanted to take him to church?” My response was “How old is he?” I don’t want him as a child (now-16) going to church. Am I being irrational? I don’t think I am. I feel taking him to church would be comparable to me sending him to a Nazi training camp, atheist cult, or Scientology what not as a child. I would just be plugging him into a different train of thought from early on.

Basically, it boils down to me wanting him to be his own free-thinking individual. I would prefer him not to be a sheep from the get-go as I was. I’d much rather he wanders down a path freshly made by him, and not the same beaten path of others.

Feel free to post a response. Tell me what you would do. One day most of you will have a child, or children. They are going to ask a God question. How will you respond? Obviously, you have time on your side, but if you had to answer right now what would your answer be?

ElTigreTom is a contributing writer fro ProjctGroupThink. Follow us on Twitter via the username PGTblog – all the cool kids are doing it!


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Physics, Mysticism, and Flying Spaghetti Monsters

Even though I was born and raised catholic, I went through an experimental phase as an adolescent.  I got dunked in a river by Baptists trying to save my soul; I learned the ways of healthy living from Christian Scientists; I was taught the urgency of the apocalypse by Seventh Day Adventists; I even participated in solstice celebrations with a local Wiccan coven.  I read about Buddhism, Taoism, and Kabbalah.  I learned about Sufis and Swamis, gurus and charlatans, skeptics and believers.  I read about advances in technology and scientific theory, and about a new age return to a life without gizmos and gadgets. 

Having gathered such a wide range of experiences, I am amused by people’s inability to see common threads.  Each person/author/organization I encountered, although genuine, seemed to believe that they had a monopoly on “the truth.”  Scientist clung to their established dogma of empirical, verifiable evidence as tightly as the Baptist clung to their Holy Book.  How do I verify joy?  How do I test for the presence or absence of love?  Can you measure compassion?  Science is excellent at what it does, but its paradigm is not all inclusive of the human experience.

The same could be said for the religions.  Religion is excellent at what it does.  I think the main difference between science and religion is that science is honest about what it does, and religion says one thing and does another.  Science claims to be the objective lens, through which we discover what is true about this world, the universe, and ourselves.  Within a paradigm of Physical Matter Reality (PMR), science does an excellent job of this.

Religion, on the other hand, claims to be the way to unite all people under the direction of “the way.”  Christianity’s many sects all claim to have the truth, which if followed, will lead to everlasting life and peace on earth.  Buddhism claims to have the truth, which if followed, leads to awakening or enlightenment.  Taoism claims to have the truth, which if followed, leads to living in harmony with the Tao, or the direction in which things change.  Wicca, Kabbalah, Islam, Judaism; all claim to be The Way.

What religion is actually good at is helping people find, grow, and maintain faith.  It gives people a paradigm to channel their faith into, a way to hold it in their mind.  The only problem is that the paradigm itself becomes limiting and constrictive, and the religious defend it at all costs as if it were the thing of value.  The true thing of value is the faith inside the paradigm, not the paradigm itself.

The temptation is to become a raging atheist, reducing the idea of Divinity to a Flying Spaghetti Monster in the sky…an imaginary figment that is ridiculous, absurd, and only for the gullible.

Despite this temptation, there are common threads in the paradigms.  Science’s latest theories about the nature of the physical universe sound very much like what mystics have been saying for thousands of years.  Quantum entanglement seems to imply everything is connected.  String theory seems to imply that everything is vibrating energy.  Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle seems to imply that we’re creating our world, or that at least it is affected by our looking at it and our expectations while we’re looking at it. 

So what I’ve finally landed on is a kind of faith filled skepticism.  I believe, but I am skeptical of paradigms that define and contain that belief.  I tend to believe in the commonalities, the similarities, the universal principals that run through the ‘isms’ in our world.  Ironically, many of our ‘isms’ warn against this strategy.  They call it the ultimate evil.  I remember being warned as an adolescent, by a fundamentalist Christian bible study group, against the dangers of “picking and choosing” what I believe in. 

The alternative, being told what to believe, I find unacceptable.

merkaba33  is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.


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