Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I will pray for you



Recently I was asked how I felt when someone says, “I will pray for you”. Well, I have to say it all depends on the situation.

I know some non-believers are very sensitive to this issue. Some say offers of prayer to an atheist are passive aggressive, while others liken it to being given the middle finger. I don’t feel like that. When somebody who knows and cares about me and knows I am having a tough time tells me that they will pray for me, I know it is their way of telling me that I am in their thoughts. I like it. It is nice to be thought about.

However, more often than not when people tell me they want to pray for me, it has absolutely nothing to do with sending good vibrations my way. It usually occurs about 5 seconds after finding out I'm an atheist. It has more to do with protecting my soul from eternal damnation for my atheist ways. Then I’m not so happy about it. I keep my cool though. I don’t want to offend anyone’s religious sensibilities. For some reason those same people often think that my sensibilities cannot be offended.








So, back to my recent conversation and how I really feel inside when somebody wants to pray for me. I guess I feel indifferent. I mean how would you feel if a Voodoo shaman offered to slaughter a chicken and dig through its insides for you. Would that have any meaning to you? No? Ridiculous, right? I mean that Voodoo religion isn’t any less made-up than yours if you have one.










Voodoo follower in prayer. Check out the rest of the intriguing photos here.
Several times a day, light casts down from an opening at the highest point of the grotto ceiling. During these times, many Vodouisants can be found making their requests to the Loa/Iwa. It was that same light that the Taino Indians in that region centered many of their rituals around.



Jesus vs. Doctor Who


And for Thanksgiving, an atheist prayer.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Egzekutor

As a full-fledged user of the local village library, I have decided to take advantage of the library services such as requesting a book that I want to read instead of just buying it. 24 zloty not spent is 24 zloty saved. Plus that, our librarian is very nice. It’s a pleasure to go to the library and now the library is also equipped with a computer and Wi-fi. Ok, so far I am the only person who has ever tried to use it, thus discovering that the library doesn’t know its own password, but whatever. Baby steps, baby steps.
gowniarzu marsz do kataRecently I requested the book “Egzekutor” by Stefan Dąmbski. It’s short, about a hundred pages, and took me a couple of hours to read. Stefan Dąmbski was a member of the Polish Home Army (AK) during WWII and a self-titled “egzekutor”. He participated in many “liquidation actions” as they were called, killing German soldiers returning from the front, German civilians, Polish people deemed traitors, random Ukrainians, general riff-raff and in many instances completely innocent people by mistake or just for fun. The book is not a complete memoir of his life or even his time in the AK. It wasn’t meant for publication and was only sent to publishers by family after Dąmbski’s death. It appears to be Stefan Dąmbski’s attempt to sort through his own memories and reflections before his death. Having said that, this book was hard to take, not because of the brutality of his descriptions, but because of the discrepancy between Dąmbski’s AK and the other accounts of the AK I have read.
Dąmbski as a teen, was permitted to join the AK after “taking care of” an informant, another young man that he knew well. In Dąmbski’s retelling, he volunteered to take care of the problem and killing the man was his idea. He claims that he had to convince the AK to allow him to do it and after a few hours of persuasion, they agreed. Perhaps that is true or perhaps it was the slick manipulation by the AK of a young boy eager to serve kill. And there’s another thing difficult to take in this book. Dąmbski does not present himself as a hero, but as a killer. He says that part of his motivation in writing his account is to contrast what the AK usually writes about themselves, mostly heroic stories. The writer of “Sołdat” had similar motivations. Dąmbski describes feeling like a hero, a patriot, at the time. His descriptions are however void of any heroism and patriotism and sound like the notes of a sadistic killer. What is war but sadistic killing colored with bóg, honor i ojczyzna.
The book includes some reaction of representatives of the AK, people who lived in the places he described and historians. Some of Dąmbski’s accounts are recorded in history a bit differently or attributed to different people. Dąmbski also does not include some actions he most certainly participated in. Some names are also changed, by the accident of memory or on purpose? We will never know. One accusation was that the AK did not participate in liquidating the locals. However, a historian was able to show documentation of such “actions”. I am struck by the absence of Jewish people in his writings. The AK has been accused also of “cleaning up” Jews in some areas. Perhaps Dąmbski didn’t participate in it, didn’t know about it, was so ashamed he didn’t want to mention it or not ashamed at all as not to mention it.
Dąmbski in his own defense in his own writing states,
Z każdej historii można wyciągnąć wnioski i się czegoś nauczyć, o ile wszystko opierać się na prawdzie.  Dlatego w tej książce piszę tylko o działaniach wojennych, w których sam brałem bezpośredni udział. Nie piszę tu o rzeczach, które mi opowiadano i których nie byłem świadkiem. Podaję tu fakty z życia prostego żołnierza Armii Krajowej.
From every story we can draw conclusions and learn something as long as everything is based on the truth. That’s why in this book I write only about those acts of war that I directly took part in. I do not write about things that were told to me or that I was not a witness to. I give facts from the life of a simple soldier of the Home Army.
Pisząc dziś te wspomnienia, próbuję – podając różne przykłady – usprawiedliwić siebie i takich jak ja, gdy chodzi o ogromne krzywdy, jakieśmy w tym czasie wyrządzili rasie ludzkiej. Za późno dziś, by prosić kogokolwiek o przebaczenie, tak się ludziom życia nie. przywróci. Niech to będzie jeszcze jedno ostrzeżenie dla przyszłych pokoleń i różnych organizatorów politycznych. Niech pamiętają, że każda wojna to tragedia, że w niej zawsze giną ludzie młodzi, mający całe życie przed sobą – i to giną niepotrzebnie.
Writing today these memories, I try – giving various examples – to justify myself and other like me regarding the enormous harm we did to the human race. It is too late today to ask anybody for forgiveness, it won’t bring those people their lives back. Let it be another warning to future generations and political organizations. Let them remember that every war is a tragedy and that in every war young people die, young people who have their whole lives in front of them die and they die unnecessarily.
I would have liked to read more about Stefan Dąmbski’s life before the war and after the war as he moved to the United States. I also wish that his reflections were more often and I guess with more reflection in them. I suppose this is a consequence of the fact that the text was written for himself and not for us and that in a few words he was able to reflect deeply enough for his own needs. Stefan Dąmbski perhaps intended to write more. His text ended abruptly mid-sentence. Stefan Dąmbski shot himself in the head in 1993 in Miami where he lived.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Drive

This is how it works. You announce on Facebook that you are doing a book zbiórka. Your friends go through their old books and give them to you –text books, poetry, history, art, detective, children’s books, anything and everything. You transport them to the village library and the glory is all yours! Sorry suckers!

07192013703

Just kidding. I am very grateful to everybody who donated. Thanks to one friend’s donation of intellectual and poetic reading materials, the local librarian thinks I’m quite a romantic.
All in all, more than 400 books were donated. I expect to be invited to the library re-naming ceremony any day now.

07192013707

07192013702

07192013706

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The Alf collection: proof that our library is in need of some new books.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

In honor of Poland’s Independence Day tomorrow,

a lesson on how not to be patriotic.

The Skinheads of Greenpoint, Brooklyn

photographs by Adam Krause

article by Jordan G. Teicher

A shout out to dwakoty who spotted it first.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Quotes of the Week- The “What the What?” Edition

We have to start with the most controversial quote of the week from…drum roll, please…Priest Bochyński. Really, I am not specially targeting the Catholic church. It’s just that priests, bishops and other church supporters keep making idiotic statements in public places in full view of others who have eyes, ears, brains and recording devices. The latest unforgiveable and unable-to-be- explained-away quote was taken during an interview. Before anyone accuses me of taking the quote out of context, I will let you know that I read the transcription of the interview not just the article in the newspaper and the context is disgusting.  In the interview Priest Bochyński states that he personally knows of cases where, "same dzieci wchodziły do łóżek dorosłych, chcąc być spełnionym" and that "to był wybór dziecka".
Ok, English-only speakers, prepare to be disgusted because he said he knows of cases where “children themselves crawled into the bed of an adult looking for fulfillment” and that it was “the choice of the child.” All together now… Aaaamen.
You will be glad to know that the reaction of the media and the church has been swift and the punishment of Bochyński has begun.
I highly recommend this article http://joannasenyszyn.natemat.pl/81237,koscielne-lemingi which sums up what has been going on in Poland recently regarding the church and criticism of the church.
6-latki
The next quote is from one of the leaders of Ratuj maluchy. They collected a million signatures and demanded a referendum about the issue (among others) of lowering the age kids start school from age 7 to age 6. They are against lowering the age. Parliament voted against the referendum.
Łukasz Elbanowski said right after Parliament voted down the referendum,
“To, co widzieliśmy dzisiaj, to było lekceważenie demokracji.”
“This what we saw here today is a disregard of democracy.”
I couldn’t disagree more. I think it was rather a regard for democracy. They collected a million signatures. They were permitted to address Parliament. Parliament voted - just not how they wanted. There was also some talk of our constitutional rights being raped…I wonder how they feel about catechism in public schools being funded by the national budget and days off for the whole school to go to mass? Whose rights are being raped then?
The next quote comes straight out of the exciting private life of Chris. Envy on stand-by, please.
Next to my children’s school there is a private Catholic school, so I am often walking to school in the company of priests and nuns from our public school and/or the Catholic school. In Poland, people greet members of the clergy with a variety of phrases such as ‘praise the lord’ or ‘god bless’ and such others. If I have to, I say ‘good morning’ and if I can get away with it I give my best “you talkin’ to  me?” face. You will get no “praise be to god’s” from me. Anyway while walking to school this week I overheard this conversation between 2 nuns:
Nun # ONE "Wow, I got 8 Szczęść Boże's today just from home to here.”
Nun # TW0 "Well, yesterday I got 11 Szczęść Boze's just in the morning."
I suppose collecting Szczęść Boże's is like Facebook "LIKES" for nuns.

It says, “Let’s take care of this quickly. Which one of you has the most fans on Facebook?”
I know you are green with envy at my glamorous lifestyle. Can you handle more from the real life of Chris? This quote is from the village doctor who was recently needed as our Lizzie has pneumonia. The village doctor is cool. You can go to his apartment (above his office) without calling day or night and if he is home and sober, he will see you…all for the small price of…get ready for it…30 zloty. In addition to that, you will hear gems such as “można się zrzygać”  (you can puke) referring to tummy troubles you may have after taking strong antibiotics and the top hit of the week “i też można się zesrać” (you can crap yourself) referring to toilet troubles that often accompany aforementioned tummy troubles. What can I say? It’s the absolute truth. Oh, and I have no photo or graphics for that, thank goodness, so how about this…

Stay healthy!