No Choice


Harriet Spilman was a dozen years old when she had her first piphany.

Y’all know what a piphany is, don’t you? It’s like when Jesus appears in a dream and tells you something, except when a piphany happens, you’re awake, and it’s real.

The Lord’s message was crystal clear to young Harriet Spilman. It was delivered to her by the pages of a beautifully bound space-age reference: the H-through-I volume of the 1967 World Book Encyclopedia.

Ordinarily, white people’s books were kryptonite to the pudgy black girl. But this one was a dead-solid hardback, with impressive slick pages and fancy graphics. It was coated with a smart looking, two-tone, leatherlike plastic, and had inlaid gold lettering. She tried hugging it against her breast, and found that it felt nearly as important as the Bible.

She had idly picked the book up off the side table in the office as a distraction, while awaiting her turn to be emotionally battered by the school principal. Harriet had just kicked Billy Perkins in the nuts, and now she was seething because Billy, who had perpetrated the crime, didn’t get sent to the principal’s office like she did. She knew it was a race thing, because Harriet was the color of dark chocolate, and Billy Perkins was two shades lighter.

Harriet looked around at the administrative staff. A couple of secretaries living tragic lives as stonewalling bureaucrats. The weasel of an assistant principal with his skinny jaw and greasy combover. The white lady bitching about how bad they’re treating her gifted child at this school. Something was going to have to change about this bullshit.

Because nobody never fucks with Harriet Spilman.

She had been idly fiddling with the book when she discovered that the encyclopedia had developed a habit, from decades of molestation, of naturally splaying itself open to the eight cellophane panes it contained near the back.

These pages were unlike any other pages in any other book that Harriet had ever seen. They were crinkly and clear, silkscreened with colorful images of anatomical details that she could peel back layer by layer, from front to back and back to front. Muscles, nerves, bones, organs, intestines — all were laid bare. It was serious guts porn.

Harriet buried her head in the book, flipping the pages back and forth, finally discovering that the transparent plastic section was an elaborate centerfold for the article entitled The Human Body.

The name of the article caused her to do a doubletake on the book’s spine to check which volume it was. It seemed like it would have been more better for them to list The Human Body under T, for The, but…white people.

The human character drawn on the pages had originally been depicted as an androgynous figure, neither male nor female, but of course, it was Caucasian. The publishers omitted the external sex organs, and made the titties androgynous, so their salesmen could sell the encyclopedia in Texas.

The generic human was drawn as if were standing. Its eyes were staring dead ahead, vacant. Both its arms hung at its sides, palms facing forward, as if Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man had gotten tired of flailing and flapping, and had decided to stand up straight and take a nap at the same time.

Harriet was enthralled, flipping backward and forward through the pages to examine this poor honky, who had the misfortune of being sliced up like Kraft singles.

Someone had drawn a stick-figure depiction of a dagger, it’s blade half buried in the figure’s chest. It was drawn in black ink, like it had been stabbed into the figure from the bottom up. It had red ink smeared from it, like it was blood dripping from the wound, all the way down the figure’s stomach.

She turned the page, which lifted the figure’s skin to reveal the rib cage, the bones white and naked against the red muscles. The graffiti artist had continued the dagger underneath the lowest rib. She turned the page again, revealing the guts. On that page, the dagger was shoved into the figure’s heart.

She turned the page again. The dagger continued out the back of the heart and through the chest cavity, until it was stuck between the ribs in the figure’s back.

She turned to the last page and saw the tip of the dagger exiting out the figure’s back, with more dripping red ink.

Now you may think, this is when Harriet got her piphany. But you would be wrong.

Curiously — and this is where Jesus came into play — some middle school Michaelangelo had hand-inked an impressive, but quite crooked, penis, onto the front page of the figure. It was as primitive as a cave drawing, with a dogleg kink, like its creator must have been partway through drawing it when he realized the teacher was standing right over his shoulder, and then he had to finish it fast, without looking, before it was snatched out of his hands.

Harriet focused her attention on the crooked cock, studying it to make sure her intuitions were correct. And then her brain made the connection.

She recognized that dick.

It was the sex organ of the preacher man who had done that nasty shit to her in the sacristy of his goddamn church.

“Thank you, Jesus,” Harriet whispered, her eyes fluttering as she gazed up inside her skull.

Now you may think this is when Harriet Spilman had her first piphany. And you would still be wrong.

The principal’s door opened. “Harriet Spilman,” he said with his white voice even though he was black.

Harriet turned around and locked eyes with him. They knew each other well. He was a skinny dude who always wore a suit and always stunk of sweat. She saw him inhale and then exhale an exasperated sigh, before disappearing back into his office.

Harriet looked around at the school secretaries, parents and teachers who were all doing their mindless tasks, filing, filing their nails, talking on the phone.

She closed her fist around the cellophane pages and pulled hard, a herculean yank, intending to rip the special pages right out of the book.

But to her surprise, they refused to budge.

She examined the book to see why.

The pages were strong. They had been stitched into the spine with hemp twine.

And at that moment, Harriet Spilman had her first piphany. Jesus appeared right before her, translucent and shimmering, floating in the middle of the principal’s office.

“Harriet,” Jesus said. “Steal the whole goddamn book.”

“But Jesus…” Harriet started.

“Shut the fuck up,” Jesus said. “You ain’t got no choice in the matter.”

(more to come)


The Dixie Drive-In Movie Theater in Vinton, Virginia


I remember sneaking into the back of the Dixie one night when I was around 14 years old. A few of us boys slept out in sleeping bags in the back yard and snuck away in the dead of night (probably around 10 p.m.) a few minutes after our parents turned out the lights. There was a double feature playing, and we knew the second movie was rated R, which meant nudity. The movie starred Richard Thomas, the dude who played John Boy Walton on tv, which was really weird, because John Boy was such a pure and innocent lad. It was an absolutely horrible movie, but we were determined to sweat it out. We sat back in the bushes, hiding from the old dude that owned the drive-in. He would patrol the perimeter and raise hell when he found kids sneaking in. It took forever for the scene that made the movie into an R to show up, but finally near the end, there were about three seconds of titty projected on that old screen in the climactic scene. Actually I don’t remember if it was the dramatic climax, but it was the visual climax for sure. 

Dawkins Scale

dawkins scale

If Richard Dawkins made this, then I’ve just lost some confidence in his logic.

Theism and its opposite — atheism — have little to do with a belief about whether there is a god or not.

Theism is not simply the belief that there is a god. Theism is the belief that there is a god who can be influenced by his human believers. (What good is a god who doesn’t change stuff anyway? Can’t make any money on that kind of god, can we?) 

Atheism, on the other hand, is not by definition the belief that there is no god. Atheism is only the belief that no matter how much you sing, dance, grovel on your knees, cry, weep, scream, shout, mutter under your breath, or swing incense, there ain’t no god who is giving a single shit about it.

So, that doesn’t mean that atheists must believe there is no god. It just means that if there is a god, atheists believe he’s not listening to you. He doesn’t give a shit about you or your prayers. He doesn’t engage in do-overs. He doesn’t come to your rescue. He doesn’t give you your daily bread, or cure your illnesses, or decide who wins your goddamn football games.

To an atheist, the likelihood of the existence of, for instance, the God of Abraham, is approximately equal to the likelihood of a giant tortoise carrying the earth on its back, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Zeus, or Apollo, or any other of the thousands of deities we’ve created, or any other random explanation made up of whole cloth from zero evidence by illiterates sitting around a campfire.

But whether such a disinterested deity exists or not doesn’t actually matter. An uncaring, unresponsive god has absolutely zero effect on the laws of physics, and thus, it has zero effect on our lives. 

So an atheist does not have to believe there is no god. An atheist only has to believe that there is no god who is subject to influence by human believers.


in facie ecclesiae

Weddings were a pagan invention. The church deemed weddings to be sinful, because they inevitably led to sexual intercourse between consenting partners.

But when pagans started showing up at churches to ask the priests bless their new pagan marriage, the priests would do it for a fee “in facie ecclesiae” – literally, at the front doorstep of the church.

A blessing of a pagan ceremony could not be done inside the church, lest it contaminate the holy space.

But eventually, the church realized that weddings would be a revenue boon, so they appropriated the pagan ceremony, just like God appropriated the pagan week when He created the universe. (The week has seven days named after the seven special celestial objects visible to the naked eye – Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn.)

Today, “in facie ecclesiae” is still used in wedding ceremonies, but it is mistranslated to supposedly mean “in front of the congregation.”

George Washington’s Initials at Natural Bridge Virginia

All of us who grew up in southwest Virginia were at one time or another taken to Natural Bridge on school field trips. In case you haven’t been there, it’s a gigantic granite bridge that was left intact as a stream eroded the limestone around it over many thousands of years. It is a priceless geologic wonder that we have been ruining since we paved Route 11 over it back in the early 1900s.
Thirty years ago, when a rock fell off it due to the decades of truck traffic, it hit a tourist on the head and killed him (or her, I can’t remember but you can google it). In response, we relocated Route 11 so it would not continue to ruin this national treasure. I’m kidding! Ha-ha! That would cost too much! Naw, we lined the underside of that rock bridge with chain link fencing, to catch the falling rocks before they killed someone else, and then painted it the same color as the rocks to disguise it. Problem solved!
Anyhow, there is (or was) a large rock in the side of the cliff underneath the bridge, about 25 feet above the stream bed, in which were carved the initials “GW.” Our elementary school teachers taught us that this was carved into the rock by George Washington when he surveyed the area as a young man.
The obvious question everyone has when seeing the location of this rock, is, how did he get so far up the side of the cliff to carve his initials? And the answer, we were taught, was that 200 years before, when George Washington carved his initials, the stream bed was up at that level, because it hadn’t yet eroded down to its current level. So George simply carved his initials at eye level!
Since George Washington’s time in the mid 1700s, until I was around 10 years old in the mid 1900s, they told us, the stream had cut another 20 feet down.
Even at the age of 10 I thought that was geological bullshit.
Okay, so now I’m 60. It’s been 50 years after they told me that story, and I would like to report that the stream has NOT eroded another five feet lower since then. (Do the math – one foot per decade is what they told us.) I know this conflicts with the Bible, but if streams eroded one foot per decade, then the James River would be the goddamn Grand Canyon.
So, I would finally like to set the record straight, by relating a scenario which I believe to be a more likely explanation for the placement of those initials.
I figure George Washington wanted his initials to be carved in a prominent place underneath Natural Bridge, way high up so everyone who came there would see “GW” and be in awe. So he stood there and looked around until he spotted the exact rock he wanted his initials to be carved on. Then he turned to one of his slaves, pointed to the rock, and said, “Go carve my initials on that there rock.” To which the slave most likely replied, “How am I supposed to get so far up that rock cliff to do it? We don’t even have a ladder.” To which George Washington probably said, “I don’t give a shit how you do it, just get it done.”
So let’s give credit where credit is due. A black man climbed up that cliff and carved George Washington’s initials.

What is theology?


A deist believes in a creator who set the universe in motion and walked away. His laws are immutable and he does not respond to supplication. There would be no purpose to studying such a deity, as nothing could come of it.

A theist, however, believes in a creator who set the universe in motion and stuck around to tweak mistakes (the flood, etc.) and respond to supplications (daily bread, etc).

Theology is the study of the latter god, not the former.

The historical purpose of theology is to discover and refine certain rituals that will avert earthquakes, disease, famine, war, personal misery, etc, and/or grant an afterlife to the theologian, by pleasing this deity.

Such rituals are prescribed by some theologians five times a day, and by others, once a week. They both have the same success rate.

Theology is similar to the study of a broken clock, and declaring it to be correct twice each day, because certain rituals were performed in advance to make it happen. Except in the case of averting earthquakes, disease, famine, war, personal misery, etc., the results are not as predictable as a broken clock’s. Ergo, God works in mysterious ways. 

Psychologists studying chicken behavior taught chickens to peck a button for a food pellet reward. Then they taught a second group of chickens to peck a button for a reward that only arrived once every third peck. And finally, they taught a third group of chickens to peck a button for a reward that only arrived randomly.

Then they stopped delivering the rewards.

The chickens who were used to receiving a reward for every peck gave up first. The chickens who received a reward every third peck gave up next. The ones who received rewards at random kept pecking, and pecking, and pecking….

God works in mysterious ways….

It always amazes me how people with life threatening illnesses can go through MRIs, CAT scans, radiation, complex surgical procedures, and IV drips of scientifically designed drugs, and then say Jesus cured them.

Where was Jesus when their grandparents were sick?

(It is also interesting to note that a deity which does not respond to supplication also does not ask for money. Apparently that deity is financially stable.)