Sunday, March 18, 2007

The non-idyllic side of country living

Not a good few days for the home team. On Wednesday we found out that our well is contaminated with iron bacteria. A new well, it turns out, ain’t cheap. We currently have what is known as a point well—basically a straw stuck into the ground water above the bedrock, and the water is sucked into the house by a pump in the basement. A new point well (cheaper option) would likely tap into the same water. So the preferred option is an “artesian well.” That’s more expensive, but with a longer life. It’s dug deep, through the bed-rock. It contains a more efficient submerged pump that pushes water into the house. While not susceptible to bacteria, it is susceptible to arsenic. Also, they have had to dig deep in our area. Which is kind of strange, since we are on wetlands—our house probably couldn’t be built today. If they dig to 500 feet (you pay by the foot) without hitting water, they stop and bring in another piece of equipment that blasts water into the hole and hopefully creates fissures that allow the well to fill. There is a big incremental cost at that point. Total cost of artesian well, worst case scenario: 0.75 Toyota Camry’s.

A couple days later, Friday, a massive snow storm comes through and dumps about of foot of the most saturated, heaviest snow I’ve ever had the displeasure to experience. Almost immediately it proves more than a match for my aging snow blower, which promptly gives up the ghost. That meant manual removal of the super-heavy snow from our 220’ driveway, walkway and decks. Cost of a new snow blower: 0.07 Toyota Camry’s.

Then today we get up and the house seems unusually cold. Sure enough, the furnace is kaput. The reset didn’t work. It costs twice the usual amount for someone to come out on Sunday. I’m now at the airport waiting for my wife to call with the news: simple repair or a new furnace. Cost of the latter: 0.5 Toyota Camry’s.

Total unanticipated costs, potentially: 1.3 Toyota Camry’s. That’s a bummer. I’d much rather have the new Toyota Camry and some change.

The snow storm made me delay my flight by one day, but the flight was not actually cancelled (I just couldn’t get to the airport, nor leave my wife to deal with the snow.) Cost of changing the flight: $200.

Then I called National Car. I told them that I needed the car one less day. The savings: -$100. That’s right, it cost $100 more—because apparently I was changing from a weekly to a daily rate. So I said: “OK, I’ll keep my original reservation, but I’ll just leave my car in your lot for the first day.” No, that is not allowed. I did the “let me talk to a supervisor” thing. That worked—the supervisor gave me my original rate.

Then I tried, over the internet, to reduce my stay at the hotel by one day. The same thing! My rate was no longer available, and so the charge for each of the remaining days was going to go up! (Are these people on ‘ludes?) So I called the hotel and told them: I’m coming a day later. That worked, they just said: no problem.


The “Live Free or Die” state, as you might imagine, has little or no regulation on well water quality. So what will happen is this: if they detect arsenic, they’ll say: “you don’t have to do anything, since you are in New Hampshire. However, in Massachusetts you’d be required, at these levels, to install a filter." Of course, any reasonable person (I reckon) would install the filter.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Some Local Color, or, Where is Tetzel When You Need Him?

My church is located in an upper middle class bedroom community in southern New Hampshire. (The top picture is the road I live on, about a mile from my house. The building shown is not my church but somebody's barn. Actually, beffitting our town as described below, it's really, I've been told, a state of the art home gym that looks like a barn.) Sitting along the border with Massachusetts, our town has maintained its rural character at a steep price: by curtailing development. While this makes the town very desirable to people attempting to escape the crowds and taxes of the nearby Boston sprawl, it also causes real estate prices to skyrocket. And along with that: real estate taxes—the Live Free or Die (how cool is that?) state's major source of revenue, given that we have no income or sales tax.

This strange calculus produces a tension between the old-timers, mostly farmers who lived here when the town was genuinely rural, and the interlopers (like me) whose influx has produced a sort-of Potemkin village. (Example: there was contentious debate about whether to allow a Dunkin' Donuts in our town. This even though there are more Dunkin' Donuts than people in New Hampshire. The store was finally given the go ahead, although it wasn't allowed to look like a Dunkin' Donuts, and could have only a modest, town-approved, in-good-taste, sign. I must tell you: It is the most beautiful, most efficient Dunkin' Donuts in the history of Dunkin' Donuts.) The tension surfaces in local politics, made manifest at yearly town meetings—the manner by which most New England towns operate. After attending a couple town meetings when I first moved here—because it seemed like the right thing to do—I have avoided local (or national, for that matter) politics.

We are in a strange situation. "The" church in our town (shown in the picture) is the Congregational Church (naturally) in the prized location at the town center, a church Jonathan Edwards once preached at. (I don't think he would approve of its current theological stance, but that's a different story.) Everyone in town will know about the Congregational Church. Many, however, will either not know there is a Baptist church in town or will not know where it is. And a fair number will assume that all Baptists are mouth breathers. We're something like the crazy aunt in the attic.

Our church also has a mix of old timers and interlopers, but there seems to be no tension along those lines. While we have people, like single moms, who struggle financially, the demographics of our town means that, in general, the church families are upper middle class. However, our situation is precarious in that we are not huge—a typical Sunday attendance being around 100, which translates roughly to about 25 families.

That means when a family leaves, on average, the coffers take a four or five percent hit. Over the last few years we have a suffered net loss of maybe five or six families. (So far the pastor has been too kind to point out that it coincides with my tenure of teaching the adult Sunday School.) That's a big hit—and we have, during that period, gone from being very flush to having to "rely on God" (how awful is that!) more than we were accustomed to.

Last night we had our quarterly meeting and talked about ways to raise funds. There aren't many options. Our facilities are spartan and in need of repair—even if we wanted to rent them out it wouldn't be worth it—the modest fees it would generate would be offset by the increased paperwork. Plus we couldn't avoid renting to the Wiccans from nearby Salem, and we don't want all those newts running around the building and getting into the sacramental grape juice. So we'll continue to simply make our building available free of charge to groups like the Senior's Club and Women's Club. Bingo is, of course, out of the question—we already live dangerously by having a yearly dance in our Baptist church, which must bring the poor building near to the point of spontaneous combustion—Bingo would surely bring the roof down on our heads.

My suggestion was not adopted. I recommended that we sell indulgences. It seems to me would could, with total honesty, say: "For a thousand dollars, we guarantee that your Aunt Agnes will not spend one minute in Purgatory!" Our friends the Catholics created the market—we'd just be filling a need.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How Big is Your Circle?

We all have a circle of orthodoxy. It's actually quite an unpleasant aspect of Christianity, but we all make one. Being inside our circle is a necessary but not sufficient requirement before we will have Christian fellowship with someone.

In theory this is a good thing. We are definitely instructed by scripture to judge those who claim to be believers, and to avoid them if we judge them lacking. However, every indication in scripture is that forgiveness, correction, instruction, and discipleship are to be attempted and exhausted prior to excommunication and refusal to fellowship. Love is to cover a multitude of sins.

For myself, I try to use the historic creeds to define a circle of orthodoxy. For example, the Nicene Creed:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

To me, anyone willing to affirm this creed is a Christian--assuming their actions and deeds do not belie their words. By their fruit they are known. The abominable Fred Phelps of "God Hates Fags" fame, for all I know, would affirm these words, but I judge him as an apostate and would not treat him as a Christian.

The Nicene Creed says nothing about predestination, eschatology, or the mode of baptism. On all those things I have strong opinions, and on all of them I might be wrong. I wouldn't think of making one's position on those doctrines a litmus test for fellowship. As others have said in other ways: we must not corrupt our certainty in Justification by Faith Alone with Justification by Affirming the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone.

I bring this up, because over on Ed Brayton's blog there is a discussion of Martin Luther. It's a rather cheap post, bringing up once again Martin Luther's anti-Semitism, as if we don't all know about that. (Should we remind everyone what Darwin wrote about Africans?)

As an aside, I'll reproduce what I wrote about Luther in the comments:

Certainly many Protestants, such as [me], would regard Martin Luther as a "real" Christian. For his development, or recovery depending on your point of view, of the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone--indeed for his illuminating all the solas of the reformation: Scriptura, Christus, Gratia, Fide, and Deo Gloria we owe a great deal to Martin Luther.

At the same time we are repulsed by his anti-Semitic writings. Likewise we are repulsed by the sinfulness we see in ourselves and in our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul wrote about Christians dealing with their personal "body of death" --a graphical allusion to the practice of punishing a killer by chaining him to the putrefying corpse of his victim. In Martin Luther, I would say, we see that his body of death includes a hatred for the Jews that goes beyond what could be explained by the times in which he lived. (Lest we forget, anti-Semitism was, at the time, ubiquitous.)

All Christians have a body of death they drag about. I certainly wish that Luther's wasn't as hideous as it was. But I admire him greatly for that which he did accomplish and am proud to be a Luther-ian (but not a Lutheran.)

Besides, he wrote A Mighty Fortress in German, and somehow it rhymes in English! A true miracle.

(Amazingly, a couple people seem to have taken my comment about A Mighty Fortess seriously. Is my sense of humor that bad?)

Now, the catalyst for Ed's post was a comment on a previous post from The Rev. Fr. Philip Mullen, Orthodox Lutheran Christian Pastor, of Columbus, Ohio. Looking on The Rev. Fr. Mullen's church's website, we find quite a different circle of orthodoxy:

In this Confessional Standard we reject and condemn all infidelity, heresy, apostasy, and immorality ancient & modern. For example, we reject & condemn the following: all abortion and other genocide, artificial fertilization & human cloning, deprivation of nutrition & hydration to hasten death, euthanasia, suicide, and all other murder; fornication, adultery, homosexuality & all other sodomy, pornography, illicit contraception, willfully childless marriage, illicit divorce, intemperance, popular culture, & all other carnal immorality; Women's Ordination & all Feminism, Anti-Christianism, Anti-Semitism, Racism, unjustified violence or cruelty to any of God's creation or creatures, false tolerance, all Humanism & false philosophy; the Papal Antichrist & all Romanism, Byzantinism, Arminianism & all Synergism, Calvinism & Crypto- Calvinism, Puritanism & all Pietism, Millennialism, all Anabaptist errors & Pentecostalism, False Ecumenism, Latitudinarianism & all Syncretism, Modernism, Mormonism, Russellism, Non-Christian Judaism, Mohammedanism, Freemasonry, all other Lodgery and Gnosticism, witchcraft & all occult practices, Unitarianism & Universalism, Agnosticism & Atheism, & all false religion; Evolutionism & all false science; the failure of the Divine Institution of Government to uphold the Civic Use of God's Moral Law in all Ten Commandments, Communism & all Socialism, Fascism, Confederate Rebellion, Slavery, the Democratic Party (USA) & all other anti-Christian political parties, abrogation of the death penalty & just war, Pacifism, illegal immigration, the United Nations & World Unionism, as well as all tyranny, false government, and all other crimes (Ephesians 5:11). Hence, we maintain Close Communion and Pulpit Fellowship with all Orthodox Evangelical Lutheran Christians. At the same time, we cooperate in carefully defined ways with other conservative Christians -- including acceptable prayer, pro-life & pro-family charities, education, and other areas of Christian activism.

That’s not quite the tone I find in Paul's pastoral letters. And, as a confession, I don't think it quite matches the literary standards of, say, the Westminster Confession.

In truth, I am appalled that any church of Jesus Christ would boldly proclaim such a hideous confession, and I'm no liberal. What do you think?

I do admit that it is at least interesting that, among other things, they condemn Calvinism and Arminianism.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Darwin's God? No Biggie.

I have been following the blogdom discussion on the “evolution of religion.” The idea being that man has evolved a propensity for religious belief as a survival mechanism. The discussions resulted from the article Darwin’s God published in the New York Times.

Although I am not even close to being knowledgeable on the subject, I’ll offer two sweeping observations:

  1. This represents the worst that evolution has to offer, in terms of its wanting to be recognized as science. This particular “research,” at least based on what I have read, contains some of the most egregious examples of ad-hoc, unscientific, just-so reasoning. Here are a couple representative arguments:

    Risk taking, to a certain degree, enhances survival. Religious belief facilitates risk-taking. Ergo a propensity for religious belief evolved.

    or how about

    Otherwise rational people, who claim that all religion and belief in the supernatural is superstition, will hesitate when put to the test—e.g., put your arm in this hole in this stone, tell a lie and your arm will be severed. Ergo we all have a tendency to embrace the supernatural .

    Independent of whether or not the hypothesis is correct, such post-hoc reasoning is utterly unscientific.

  2. The second point is that, as far as Christianity is concerned, it really doesn’t matter. Perhaps God really did provide an innate attraction toward religion, precisely for the some of the reasons the evolutionary psychologists are misrepresenting as “proofs” and “scientific evidence.” What we do know is this: that no man is born with a desire to find God with a capital G: there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. (Rom. 3:11) It does not seem unreasonable that God, as part of his common grace through which he prevents us from being utterly depraved and annihilating ourselves, would use such a tendency as a moderating influence. (Utter depravity should be contrasted with total depravity, the latter meaning that we are not born with any desire for the true God but not that we are as evil as we possibly could be.)

Seeking God requires illumination from the Holy Spirit, a bolt out of the blue for which we cannot prepare ourselves in advance. Richard Dawkins is not an atheist because of his intellect; he is an atheist because he has not been illuminated and so the gospel is foolishness to him. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14) Likewise, those seeking false gods and false god-like prophets (Reverend Moon, Mohamed, etc.) are not seeking God but, at most, are seeking what they believe a god has to offer. Richard Dawkins’s intellect is not what prevents him from seeking the true God—he is simply, at the moment anyway, incapable of doing so—but it might permit him to resist a built-in attraction toward superstition.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Playing the Hero

The saga between the Templeton Foundation and Dembski continues. As you probably know, the Templeton Foundation, after an initial flirtation with ID (the extent of which is being contested) has now distanced itself from ID.

The ID movement, whose response to any perceived attack is to claim conspiracy, argues that the Templeton Foundation has become enamored with secular science. It wants to impress its new friends by abandoning its old. For the sake of street creds, according to the IDers, the Templeton Foundation has sold out.

Dembski and company will never, ever, admit the obvious. The ID movement, which is entirely their handiwork, (a) is obviously a (failed) political movement and (b) has not produced any science. This combination is toxic, and organizations (such as the Templeton Foundation) and individuals (such as yours truly) who were at one point, in the early days, sympathetic toward the movement, are now repulsed by what we have seen. Since this can’t be possibly acknowledged by the likes of Dembski and Wells—well we just get more conspiracy theories. Everyone is out to get ID.

In the latest go-around, William Grassie of the Metanexus Institute, the man who managed the program for the Templeton Foundation through which Dembski was awarded a $100K book grant, provides some interesting history and commentary. Grassie charges that Dembski has not delivered the book that he promised in his grant proposal. Instead Dembski used the money to write No Free Lunch, a flawed mathematics book (and another promise for design detection that has detected nothing.) No Free Lunch contained none of the metaphysical and theological content that was promised.

Now whether or not that makes Dembski dishonest on that account I couldn’t say—what is delivered at the end of a grant is often considerably different from what was proposed—and as long as the deviations from the statement of work were approved, there is no dishonesty. Grassie’s statement that the book has no been delivered would, of course, lead you to believe that No Free Lunch was not the result of post-award requirements-changing, but I couldn’t say. Nor do I care.

What is more interesting to me are the reasons that Grassie gives for the disillusionment with the ID movement. He wrote:

Why distance oneself from the Intelligent Design Movement? I cannot speak for the John Templeton Foundation,13 but we at Metanexus grew tired of the increasingly politicized debates about Intelligent Design Theory. Proponents were clearly engaged in a political campaign to change public education. While the erudite advocates were proposing what might be called “Intelligently Designed Evolution,” the core of the movement were mostly Young Earth Creationists. The genealogy of the movement was clearly motivated not by a technical scientific debate, but by a longstanding religious and ideological concern to overthrow evolution. The logic of the ID movement is essentially that evolution = Darwinism = materialism = atheism = immorality = nihilism. This is not a necessary correlation.

Amen, brother. That is quite consistent with what I discovered and a large part of what soured me on the movement. There is a subtlety here: Grassie, as I read him, is not arguing that nihilism is not a problem in the modern education system. (I think it is.) What Grassie is stating, and I agree with him, is that the ID movement’s raison d’etre is not science at all but the destruction of what it sees as an indisputable, direct linkage between evolution and nihilism—the very same presumed chain-of-death that has been the rallying cause for the YECs.

Grassie writes that he tried to get Dembski to disassociate himself from the YECs:

Back in the fall of 2000, I privately challenged Dembski to publicly disassociate himself from the Young Earth Creationists and “come clean” on what version of natural history he thought should be taught in schools. His response, “Intelligent Design Coming Clean”, was published on on November 18, 2000. Dembski wrote:

Dembski responded with an essay, in which he wrote:

Where I part company with complementarianism is in arguing that when science points to a transcendent reality, it can do so as science and not merely as religion… In particular, I argue that design in nature is empirically detectable and that the claim that natural systems exhibit design can have empirical content…

Which I only bring up so I can write, yet again, that while Dembski might argue that “design in nature is empirically detectable” he has never done it. Not once. No attempts. Never. Empty Set. A complete and total failure. Nothing from nature has been demonstrated as having been designed. Books have been written, grants accepted, honoraria received, seminars held, debates televised, positions provided, monies accrued—but not one design in nature has been empirically detected.

But here is where I want to get to the dishonesty part. Dembski wote:

Repeatedly I've been asked to distance myself not only from the obstreperous likes of Phillip Johnson but especially from the even more scandalous young earth creationists… I'm prepared to do neither…”

This is a dishonest tactic. It becomes even clearer in Dembski’s recent response to Grassie, posted on Uncommon Descent:

Grassie makes it clear that one of the things he and others at the Templeton Foundation were concerned about was the ID community’s refusal to ostracize young earth creationists from its ranks.


It’s therefore my policy to firmly resist all pressures from people who think it’s their right or duty to tell me whom I may associate with and what sorts of penalties I will face if I don’t distance myself from the wrong crowd (I faced such pressures continually in my days at Baylor, and I never buckled to them).


Question: How healthy is it for the Templeton Foundation that its associates such as Billy Grassie and Charles Harper feel such an obsessive need for the foundation to place its stamp of approval on only “the right sorts of people”?

This is an ugly and, as I said, dishonest response. Grassie has not asked Dembski to leave friends high and dry, he has asked him to take a scientific and educational stand on the age of the earth. Dembski is distorting legitimate advice—that if ID is science then the question of the age of the earth—or indeed any scientific question (and in spite of a common comeback, the age of the earth is relevant to ID) cannot be off the table. In fact, it is kept off the table for just one reason, one that is plain to everyone: ID really is politics, not science, and in politics one never intentionally introduces discussion that might fracture the base. The way Dembski responds is a dishonest ploy: he acts shocked and appalled that he would be asked to “ostracize” his friends and only associate with “the right kind of people.” Nobody is saying anything of the sort. Dembski is dishonestly portraying himself as one who nobly withstands enormous community pressure to conform—when in fact he is just doing his all to preserve the numbers of the political movement that feeds him. There is nothing noble in Dembski's self-righteous preening.

Friday, March 02, 2007


(Aside: Arggh, more snow! It seems like I've be shoveling for weeks!)

Professor PZ Myers is once again holding a pep rally Get Meaner! Angrier, Louder, Fiercer! against creationists, IDists, and those nasty appeasers (read Ken Miller, Francis Collins, etc.) In the fantasy world where Myers represents science, productivity is not important, only purity of thought.

(Another aside: Soon there may be enough of us to put up a good fight. You see, there is yet another reformed physicist blogger: Todd Pedlar a particle physicist and professor from Iowa. )

Back to PZ. He is crowing over the fact that he has been quoted by a non-scientist creationist. He does so enjoy playing the tough guy against cartoonists and others who don't know much science. The creationist in question, in some obscure article, brought up one of the PZisms that makes everyone's top ten list:

The only appropriate response should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy, far-right politicians … I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It's time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots.

In today's post, here is Commander Myers, exhorting his troops:

I think there is a place for ferocity and partisanship, too. We do not compromise on the science, ever; that is the thin bright line that we do not cross. And we should always make that clear. Others can coddle the fools who dither and simper wishfully over gods and old myths and apologetics, but some of us have to charge forward and stake out a solid position, one that excludes altogether the ancient fairy tales.

There is a lot of support out there for that kind of fiery confidence. Let's see more of us stand up and speak out, and devil take the milksops.

Well, alrighty then! As always, it is fun to select a few gems from PZ's comments:

Ricky writes:

I definitely agree PZ. On that note, I have to mention this press release that I saw today (, in which the American Psychological Association officially adopted a policy against the teaching of intelligent design. I guess it's not big news really, but being a "future" psychologist myself, I was happy to see it. The only question I had was why the heck did it take so long?

Quite a few of us in line for our punishment, to be meted out by brass knuckles and steel-toed boots (metaphorically speaking, of course) also agree that ID should not be taught in science class. Still, it's good to know that those experts in the hard sciences at the American Psychological Association have weighed in with their expert opinion. Maybe Sam Harris could arrange for the American Society of Mystics and Gurus to submit a white paper.

Ichthyic ominously reminds us that the real violence comes from the other side. Responding to someone who asked What would you say to some preacher who exhorts his flock to use brass knuckles on scientists? he writes:

Paul Mirecki would be happy to inform you that they already do, as he has the bruises and hospital bills to prove it.

For those new to these matters, Mirecki is a Religious Studies professor at the University of Kansas, which means he knows even less hard science than the denizens of the American Psychological Association. Not that that should disqualify him from teaching on scientific matters. Back in 2005, he was going to teach a class on ID. In a manner befitting the academy, he established his credentials as an intellectual who could take an unbiased approach to a controversial subject by writing:

"Creationism is mythology. Intelligent design is mythology. It's not science. They try to make it sound like science. It clearly is not."
"The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category 'mythology. '"
The latter of which he signed in the professional manner:
"Doing my part (to upset) the religious right, Evil Dr. P. "
Not long after this, Mirecki reported an assault, in which he claimed to have been attacked in the early morning by two good 'ole boys in a pickup. As far as I know, his story has never been verified. (If it ever is, he'll be beatified.) Ichthyic, however, accepts it as fact.

G. Tingey is very clever. He'll make a sweeping statement about the comprehensive evil of religion—but since he must have been asked one too many times "but what about communism?" he sidesteps that inconvenient criticism by preemptively defining communism as, you guessed it, religion:

"All religions are a form of moral and/or physical blackmail"

And, for the USA - remember also that communism is a classic religion - false predictions and all...

I love that approach. More people have been killed in the name of religion than any thing else. But what about Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler? Religion—all religion.

When an impure commenter in need of reeducation asks the impertinent question: Why should religious people who support science be held responsible for the crimes of fundamentalists? That's like all men being held responsible for the crimes of mysogynists. Ruth gives the orthodox PZistic response:

Because, as the old saying goes, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

If you align yourself with mysogynists by defending their views (like defending oppression of women as 'cultural practices'), then you ARE a mysogynist.
If you align yourself with the enemies of science by defending their right to attack science, then you ARE an enemy of science.

Raj, commenting on a subthread regarding the possibility of language recalling Europe's Christian Heritage appearing in the EU constitution, explains for the Side of the Intellectuals and Rationalists:

[It] was been reported that the Harlot Vatican, the Whore of Babylon, was pushing gor the admission of Poland into the EU because it (the Harlot Vatican) believed that Poland would help re-sectarize (is that a word?) the largely secular EU. They never should have admitted Poland, or any other of the Eastern European hell-holes. But, then again, the US North should never have re-admitted the South after the War of Northern Aggression--certainly not on the same terms as before.

Go to the post in question—there are plenty more nuggets in the comments.

Final Snow Note:
while writing this missive, some unknown angel of mercy has plowed my driveway! That saved me a couple hours work. Dawkins would argue that the unknown trucker's selfish gene was responsible: presumably since I can now get out and get to work, then there is the tiniest reduction in the chance of a recession, and a commensurate improvement of the odds that the throughly self-centered snow-plow-man will not get layed off, he'll be able to continue to pay for food, and have the strength to reproduce, thus ensuring the survival of his genes.

EDIT: typos and reformatting quoted text to stand out.