"What Would Jesus Rap?"

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The Weekly Standard's always interesting, often excellent Matt Labash provides another of his great pieces of longform profile journalism, this time of the men and ideas behind Junkyard Prophets, a band of Jesus-rappers who give "character education" lessons in various American public schools. It's a fun revelation about the true, weird contours of American ideology, starring a squad of tattooed rap-rockers who teach kids to straighten up, fly right, and not medicalize their own bad impulses; who hate Bush/Cheney, adore Michael Landon, and rely on poop jokes in their lectures; and are confident that both the moon landing and O.J's arrest were conspiratorial setups. Ain't that America?

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  1. Religion is irrational by nature. So, no one should be surprised about the loony things religious people believe. Even when they are doing the right thing – they do it for the wrong reasons.

    JMJ

  2. Blessed are da meek, bitch.

  3. Blessed are da meek, bitch.

  4. Even when they are doing the right thing – they do it for the wrong reasons.

    Jersey, I’m a staunch secularist, but that’s the attitude of a bigot.

    You actually believe the leaders of the civil rights movement risked their freedom and safety for the wrong reasons? Had they been atheists, then they would have done what they did for the right reasons?

    Really, it’s like you’re begging people to not take you seriously.

  5. Don’t bother Les, he’s a troll. Best to ignore it.

  6. Hmm. I wonder if this would qualify under Bill Cosby’s definition of crazy?

  7. Les, the point I am making is that religious morality is arbitrary and by default unaltuistic. It’s all well and fine to do good, but it’s better when you do it altuistically and for empirically provable reasons. That you don’t get that and instead think my coments low brow and simplistic shows me that you are not fit to even understand why you are a “secularist.”

    JMJ

  8. It really cracks me up how much the anti-religionists and the religious fundamentalists are starting to have in common. It is cheerful to realize that “Everyone who doesn’t agree with me is an idiot” is a universal value.

  9. James, don’t be stupid. Do you really not understand what I am saying?

    JMJ

  10. We were setup to go to the moon? You mean the only reason Armstrong and Aldrin were sent up there was so that the mob could sneak Hoffa’s body into the LEM’s trunk? “Tonight he sleeps with the cheeses!”

  11. Someone set up us the moon.

  12. JMJ, (sorry 76, can’t help myself)

    The fact that you actually think you can define “religious morality” as one thing, the same for all people, the way a white supremacist sees all people of a given ethnic origin as the same, even more clearly defines your philosophy as bigoted.

    You didn’t answer my question about the civil rights leaders. How could their work have been better if they had been atheists? Here’s another.

    Can you “empirically prove” what “religious morality” is in every individual who helps other people? If yes, please do so. If not, then I hope you can be humble enough to see the problems in your reasoning. I also hope that you can be humble enough to recognize that all over the world there are very religious people, people whose philosophies you and I might disagree strongly with, who help more people in need in a month than you will in a lifetime.

    And you might consider that if someone, like James, doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it’s not because James is stupid, but because you’re not making sense. Which again, has to do with humility.

  13. Religion is irrational by nature. So, no one should be surprised about the loony things religious people believe.

    Once again, since you started the thread out with these two sentences, you’ve set a snarky/dismissive tone. Given that you’ve got a long history of that sort of thing, why should anybody give you the benefit of the doubt? Only about 10% of your posts are actually reasoned arguments, the rest are stinkbombs meant to piss people off. Your posts are so juvenile and confrontational that most people here are convinced you’re an idiot. I find little evidence that they’re wrong.

  14. I forget. Atheists vs Christians: Which are the bigger jerks?
    3…2…and GO!

  15. Les,

    “The fact that you actually think you can define “religious morality” as one thing, the same for all people, the way a white supremacist sees all people of a given ethnic origin as the same, even more clearly defines your philosophy as bigoted.”

    Oh please, don’t try to bait me. I am referring specifically to Western Monotheism – the Big Three. And the point is simple: Morality = Rules based on mythical belief sets / Ethics = Rules based on empirically provable reasoning.

    “You didn’t answer my question about the civil rights leaders. How could their work have been better if they had been atheists?”

    I never said that their work was bad or could be better just because of the reasons why they did it – just that it was based on mythical belief systems with unaltruistic mythical rewards. In other words, they did the right thing for the wrong reasons.

    “Can you “empirically prove” what “religious morality” is in every individual who helps other people?”

    Well, I suppose you could. But that’s not what I meant by what is or isn’t empirically provable. For example: I did the right thing by helping minorities because that can be empirically proved to be helpful to the society at large – or – I did the right thing because my reverend said to do it. Get it?

    “I also hope that you can be humble enough to recognize that all over the world there are very religious people, people whose philosophies you and I might disagree strongly with, who help more people in need in a month than you will in a lifetime.”

    Again, stop baiting me. It makes you look low-brow. You don’t know me well enough to say something that stupid. Yes, there are many people who do things for religious reasons – bad and good things.

    Lunchstealer,

    Religion is irrational by nature. So, no one should be surprised about the loony things religious people believe.

    “Once again, since you started the thread out with these two sentences, you’ve set a snarky/dismissive tone. Given that you’ve got a long history of that sort of thing, why should anybody give you the benefit of the doubt? Only about 10% of your posts are actually reasoned arguments, the rest are stinkbombs meant to piss people off. Your posts are so juvenile and confrontational that most people here are convinced you’re an idiot. I find little evidence that they’re wrong.”

    Gee, what would I do without your personal evaluations of my writing?

    JMJ

  16. Oh please, don’t try to bait me. I am referring specifically to Western Monotheism – the Big Three. And the point is simple: Morality = Rules based on mythical belief sets / Ethics = Rules based on empirically provable reasoning.

    That you feel baited doesn’t mean I was baiting you. I was merely describing your religious philosophy as you stated it. If you’re referring to something specific, you should say you are. And your simplistic definitions of “morality” and “ethics” are your own. You’ve made them up to suit your own purposes.

    For example: I did the right thing by helping minorities because that can be empirically proved to be helpful to the society at large – or – I did the right thing because my reverend said to do it. Get it?

    I get that you believe you can read the minds of people you’ve never met. How do you know why they did what they did? How do you know what mixture of faith and civic duty compelled them to do what they did? How do you know which of them acted more out of faith than out of objective altruism? You don’t. You should stop pretending that you do.

    Again, stop baiting me. It makes you look low-brow. You don’t know me well enough to say something that stupid.

    Again, no bait intended. Before you accused me of “baiting” you, you said I wasn’t fit to understand why I was a secularist. Why do you feel the need to bait, while complaining that you feel baited?

    Anyway, it’s just obvious from the time you spend on these boards that even if you’d otherwise devoted your life to helping the less fortunate, you couldn’t be doing as much good as a lot of “loony,” “irrational” religious people who have sacrificed the things we take for granted to actually help people. Personally, I try not to make sweeping, baseless conclusions about the validity of value systems of people who do more than I do to decrease suffering in the world.

    And why doesn’t it bother you that absolutely no one here, even those who agree with you, have any respect for the way you conduct yourself? Your behavior is similar to that of the fundamentalists you see at FreeRepublic or Town Hall. And I’m not trying to bait you. I’m giving you my honest opinion (one shared by almost everyone here) in the spirit of “your fly is undone.”

  17. Nah, I’ll stay stupid JMJ. I understand what you are saying. Understanding you doesn’t mean I think there is a whit of wisdom in your argument.

  18. Just sayin, everybody thinks you’re a troll, and they have good reason to. You get all pissed off that people don’t take your ideas seriously, and then you get pissed at me for telling you why. Seriously, if you just used the ‘preview’ button, to go back and re-read what you wrote, and maybe explained things a little better, rather than just reflexively tossing out quasi-coherent snarky one-liners, people might take you seriously. As it is we don’t.

  19. Jesus WOULDN’T rap– that’s for the devil. He’d really start a Butthole Surfers cover band (early Surfers, of course, Locust Abortion Technician era). Man you guys don’t really know anything about Jesus at all. I’m going to pray for you.

  20. Les,

    “And your simplistic definitions of “morality” and “ethics” are your own. You’ve made them up to suit your own purposes.”

    You’re retarded. Read a f’n book, man.

    “How do you know what mixture of faith and civic duty compelled them to do what they did?”

    And that’s the funny thing about morality. It blurs that line. You never really do know, do you? That’s the problem.

    As for your attempt at critiquing me – shove it. You’re not in my league.

    JMJ

  21. Are you kidding, eric? Everyone knows that Jesus is more of a classic rocker–probably with a Led Zeppelin sound (some say ala Led Zeppelin IV, but that’s heresy. I think JC’s stuff would be more bluesy, like Dazed and Confused). Though without the Satan-worshipping backmasking, natch.

  22. Who’s to say anybody does good things altruistically? I think it’s quite possible that people do many things for a selfish reason – it makes them feel good.

    Now I do know people, myself included, who do things because they seem to be the “right” thing to do, but I am saying that much altruism is probably predicated on someone feeling bad about something (poor people suffering, for instance) and want to do something so they don’t feel as bad (helping those poor people), not because they’ve rationally decided that it would be the “right” thing to, say, go volunteer at the local soup kitchen.

  23. Are you kidding, eric? Everyone knows that Jesus is more of a classic rocker–probably with a Led Zeppelin sound (some say ala Led Zeppelin IV, but that’s heresy. I think JC’s stuff would be more bluesy, like Dazed and Confused). Though without the Satan-worshipping backmasking, natch.

  24. Who’s to say anybody does good things altruistically? I think it’s quite possible that people do many things for a selfish reason – it makes them feel good.

    Now I do know people, myself included, who do things because they seem to be the “right” thing to do, but I am saying that much altruism is probably predicated on someone feeling bad about something (poor people suffering, for instance) and want to do something so they don’t feel as bad (helping those poor people), not because they’ve rationally decided that it would be the “right” thing to, say, go volunteer at the local soup kitchen.

  25. Question for philosopher and historians in the room:

    How much (if anything) does the humanistic movement owe to Western religion, specifically Christianity?

  26. Pro Libertate,

    Jesus is a Butthole Surfers fan– it’s in the bible, you can look it up. As JMJ says: “read a f’n book” :). I mean, he may have played the blues with his original backing band, but I think those guys kept him back from his true talent for psychotic acid punk.

    That’s not, of course, to say that Led doesn’t kick the Butthole Surfers ass– obviously they do but you got to go with your muse man.

  27. Lowdog, point taken. At least you seem to have a grip on this. Think of it as altruistism makes you fel good / moralism gives you brownie points with God. Which is more “altruistic?” ๐Ÿ˜‰

    JMJ

  28. Humanism was born of paganism and reborn in opposition to religion, Linguist.

    JMJ

  29. I fail to see how any of these culture peices get my ferret farming rights back.

  30. At least I can sleep well tonight knowing that Jersey McJones’ posts just caused at least one Randroid to blow out at least 2 ventricles.

  31. As for your attempt at critiquing me – shove it. You’re not in my league.

    The League of Extraordinary Assholes? No, I’m certainly not, and rather thankful for it. I appreciate you helping me to put you on my “do not respond” list. For your sake, I hope your off-line personality is nothing like the one you project here. Unless you belong to some kind of “assholes only” kind of club, you must be very lonely.

    Oh, well, enough of this sad speculation on the life of a sad man. This will be my final post to you. Adios, amoeba!

  32. 76, I guess I had to learn the hard way. I’ll pass on your warnings, however, to others foolish enough to waste their time. One might as well argue with a dog. And not a good dog.

  33. linguist, I’d say quite a bit. A lot of Western scholarship started with the church, and quite a bit of the “cult of the individual” associated with humanism came from Christianity’s obsession with the individual soul.

    The Enlightenment thinkers tended to downplay such influences and spent some serious time trashing–with some justification–medieval scholasticism, but my feeling has always been that humanism, science, and Enlightenment ideals didn’t spring up from a vacuum, nor can they be credited entirely to a revival of Classical thought. Just for the record, I say that as someone who considers himself as much a Classicist as anything else. Of course, I also believe that humanism may have developed as much from opposing Christian values as from evolving from those values, which makes answering your question all the more difficult.

    Answers to this sort of question will be colored completely by ones view of the West, Christianity, and humanism. I have some issues with Christianity and with some of the more extreme humanist positions (whatever “humanism” is), but I think that Jim Morrison was, for the most part, right: “The West is the best”. ๐Ÿ™‚

    eric: Jesus wrote “Stairway to Heaven”. Everybody knows that–everyone, that is, who hasn’t been deluded by Satan’s attempts to claim the song. You’re going straight to hell with your Punkian Heresy. Recant while there is still time.

  34. Jesus is Lord and Master — of the pan flute!

  35. “Seriously, if you just used the ‘preview’ button, to go back and re-read what you wrote, and maybe explained things a little better, rather than just reflexively tossing out quasi-coherent snarky one-liners, people might take you seriously. As it is we don’t.”

    On top of it all, JMJ commits a cardinal sin with his snarky one liners. They aren’t even funny.

  36. True dat, MG. Funny makes up for a wealth of stupid.

  37. mediageek,

    Or at least surreal, like Dr. X was. Reading him was the closest I got to understanding the rampant drug experiences of most Reasonoids.

  38. Linguist asks:
    How much (if anything) does the humanistic movement owe to Western religion, specifically Christianity?

    Clearly, about the same as antibiotics owe to the plague.
    And for the same reasons.

    hugs,
    Shirley Knott

  39. Pro Libertate,

    We’ll see whose car is left unmanned after the rapture. We’ll see. . .

  40. I’ll pray for you, eric, while listening to the angels sing “Black Dog”.

  41. JMJ, are you saying that morality is judged by whether it tends or doesn’t tend to make one “altruistic”? If so, then you go read a fucking book. And this time, not “Das Kapital.”

  42. JMJ:
    “Altruism,” by the way, means I serve you to your ends and not to mine. That makes you selfish and greedy, and me a slave. And trust me, JMJ, I wouldn’t give you a fresh shit if you were a starving fly.

  43. linguist,

    In my solipsistic world, where all is synchronicity, topics are mentioned by “others”, then meaning is shortly thereafter conveyed to me. I was just listening to a Teaching Company tape on Voltaire (lectures by Alan Charles Kors, who I believe is one of us), and Kors discussed at some length the influence the Jesuits had had on the French Enlightenment. He argues that the Jesuits trained their students to be critical thinkers and logicians. Of course, they did that to root out heresy and to compete with other powers within and without the Church. . .oops. As you can imagine, that kind of thinking led to people like Voltaire (who was Jesuit trained), who were, at least in part, the founders of modern humanism (whatever that is).

  44. People, people. You never learn, do ya? When you come across a village anti-theist like JMJ, the best course of action is to ignore them just as you would religious fundamentalists. Don’t stoop down to their level by trying to have an “argument” ’cause you won’t have one.

  45. People, people. You never learn, do ya? When you come across a village anti-theist like JMJ, the best course of action is to ignore them just as you would religious fundamentalists. Don’t try to initiate an “argument” with ’em ’cause you won’t have one.

  46. People, people. You never learn, do ya? When you come across a village anti-theist like JMJ, the best course of action is to ignore them just as you would religious fundamentalists. Don’t try to initiate an “argument” with ’em ’cause you won’t have one.

  47. Oh, I’ve learned NP. I’m out of his league, after all!

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