Higher Power or Else!

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

200px-HK_Central_Statue_Square_Legislative_Council_Building_n_Themis_sA story four days ago caught my attention and I thought I’d present it for discussion. In recent years many have claimed that there is a “war on religion” taking place in America. This “so-called war” has been the result of many rulings that have tried to enforce the cherished principle of “freedom of religion”, but of necessity could also be called “freedom from religion.” When I was young most of the stores in my neighborhood were required to close on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath. This was a hardship for Jews that celebrated their Sabbath on Saturday and Muslims that celebrated their Sabbaths on Friday. It affected Asian merchants, with their own native beliefs, that didn’t have a formal Sabbath. Many of these “blue laws” have been repealed because of the reality that they are showing preferential treatment to one particular religion, in a country that is made up of many religions and whose Constitution is believed by many to ban such preferential treatment.

The Supreme Court’s most important case on “blue laws” is McGowan vs. Maryland.

“The Supreme Court of the United States held in its landmark case, McGowan v. Maryland (1961), that Maryland‘s blue laws violated neither the Free Exercise Clause nor the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It approved the state’s blue law restricting commercial activities on Sunday, noting that while such laws originated to encourage attendance at Christian churches, the contemporary Maryland laws were intended to serve “to provide a uniform day of rest for all citizens” on a secular basis and to promote the secular values of “health, safety, recreation, and general well-being” through a common day of rest. That this day coincides with Christian Sabbath is not a bar to the state’s secular goals; it neither reduces its effectiveness for secular purposes nor prevents adherents of other religions from observing their own holy days.[9]

There were four landmark Sunday-law cases altogether in 1961. The other three were Gallagher v. Crown Kosher Super Market of Mass., Inc., 366 U.S. 617 (1961); Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S. 599 (1961); Two Guys from Harrison vs. McGinley, 366 U.S. 582 (1961). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_laws

I personally disagree with the SCOTUS decision in these cases and think that the logic used is disingenuous. The purpose of the Sunday “blue laws” was of course to promote religious attendance and encourage that attendance at Christian services on Sunday. A secondary reason was one of respect to Christianity and its belief that the Sabbath day of rest demanded in the Ten Commandments was Sunday. To say that it was to serve as a “uniform day of rest for all citizens” is frankly an untruth and adds intent to these laws that was never present in their imposition. This week though another ruling came down in what I see as a related case involving what I see as our right to have “freedom from religion” and I would like to add that to the discussion.“SAN FRANCISCO (RNS) An atheist parolee should be compensated by California after the state returned him to prison for refusing to participate in a religiously-oriented rehabilitation program, a federal court ruled Friday (Aug. 23).

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that a lower court judge erred when he denied Barry A. Hazle Jr., a drug offender and an atheist, a new trial after a jury awarded him no damages.

In a move that could have wider implications, the appeals court also ordered a Sacramento district judge to consider preventing state officials from requiring parolees attend rehabilitation programs that are focused on God or a “higher power.”

Hazle was serving time for methamphetamine possession in 2007 when, as a condition of his parole, he was required to participate in a 12-step program that recognizes a higher power. Hazle, a life-long atheist and member of several secular humanist groups, informed his parole officer that he did not want to participate in the program and would prefer a secular-based program.

According to court documents, the parole officer informed Hazle the state offered no secular treatment alternatives. When Hazle entered the program but continued to object, he was arrested for violating his parole and returned to a state prison for an additional 100 days.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety, a 12-step program with no emphasis on God or a higher power, runs multiple programs in California, but had none near Hazle’s home in Northern California during that period.

Hazle sued, alleging his First Amendment rights had been violated. The district court agreed, citing well-established rulings supporting Hazle’s claim, but allowed to stand a jury’s conclusion that he deserved no compensation.

Friday’s ruling requires Hazle be awarded a new trial for damages and compensation.

“The jury’s verdict, which awarded Hazle no compensatory damages at all for his loss of liberty, cannot be upheld,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the court’s opinion.

“The jury simply was not entitled to refuse to award any damages for Hazle’s undisputable — and undisputed — loss of liberty, and its verdict to the contrary must be rejected.”

The case now returns to the district court in Sacramento.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/26/barry-a-hazle-atheist-religious-rehab-california_n_3818833.html

As someone with some expertise in drug addiction treatment and who is also quite familiar with “12 Step Programs”, I have always been a little troubled by the prominence of appealing to a “higher power”, to which they give a great deal of significance. I understand that Bill W. in his original formulation was trying to cater to people of varied religious beliefs and in truth that was a good thing in that it created a somewhat universal methodology. The 12 Steps were an appeal to humanity’s spiritual nature and were also developed in the context of a world where religious beliefs held far more sway than today. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_W. As interpreted then and today the appeal to a higher power is referent to a divine being. This is not necessarily so, nor is believing in a higher power necessary for a 12 Step Program to work. The proof of that was mentioned in the body of the quote above which names “Secular Organizations for Sobriety” as one example of a 12 Step Program that does not deal with a deity or paranormal force.

As this quote from Wikipedia shows that the idea of spirituality can take many different forms other than the belief in God of a Higher Power:

“There is no single, widely-agreed definition of spirituality.[1][2][note 1] Social scientists have defined spirituality as the search for the sacred, for that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration, “a transcendent dimension within human experience…discovered in moments in which the individual questions the meaning of personal existence and attempts to place the self within a broader ontological context.”[8]

According to Waaijman, the traditional meaning of spirituality is a process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man, the image of God. To accomplish this, the re-formation is oriented at a mold, which represents the original shape: in Judaism the Torah, in Christianity Christ, in Buddhism Buddha, in the Islam Muhammad.”[note 2] In modern times spirituality has come to mean the internal experience of the individual. It still denotes a process of transformation, but in a context separate from organized religious institutions: “spiritual but not religious.”[5] Houtman and Aupers suggest that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religions.[6]

Waaijman points out that “spirituality” is only one term of a range of words which denote the praxis of spirituality.[10] Some other terms are “Hasidism, contemplation, kabbala, asceticism, mysticism, perfection, devotion and piety”.[10]

Spirituality can be sought not only through traditional organized religions, but also through movements such as liberalism, feminist theology, and green politics. Spirituality is also now associated with mental health, managing substance abuse, marital functioning, parenting, and coping. It has been suggested that spirituality also leads to finding purpose and meaning in life”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality

It is quite easy for me to envision that someone can undergo a major transformation in their life, to even conclude there is meaning to it for them and yet not believe in any God or Higher Power. This transformation can be deemed spirituality in my book and yet have nothing to do with supernatural phenomena. Perhaps you differ, but I would caution you to at least consider that Mr. Hazle, in the case above, may well transform his life even if he is a confirmed atheist. He need not believe in a higher power in order to end his addiction and forcing him to serve another hundred days was indeed an unwarranted punishment.

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

105 thoughts on “Higher Power or Else!”

  1. I wrote the following in 2005 as part of a presentation to a conference sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, US Department of Justice. I know it is extremely long, but I am getting tired of sniping about treatment programs, and the their relative efficacy, based on no data. Well, here are the data. I have about forty more pages in this paper, but this will suffice for the moment.


    AA is based on a mutual self-help support group model, with frequent meetings in which the participants admit to having a problem and obtain support from a group of peers in a non-judgmental atmosphere. The dynamic of AA is not a true psychotherapeutic treatment, but on twelve steps that theoretically pace the participant through the recovery process.

    The next non-traditional model that appeared was Synanon. This was a true therapeutic community, but was not operated by trained mental health professionals. Synanon, like AA, was a self-help program run by former addicts. Synanon was also based on what might be called a cult of personality by its original founder.
    Neither AA nor Synanon tried to systematically evaluate their success and fail rates in a well-controlled scholarly fashion. Data are anecdotal, although some statistics on treatment success has been reported. In the case of AA, participants are anonymous, which makes obtaining follow-up data next to impossible, although we were able to locate some reports.

    Alcoholics Anonymous began in 1935 in Akron, Ohio. It was the brainchild of Bill W. and Dr. Bob S. a surgeon from Akron. Both these men had been alcoholics. Both men had been in contact with a non-alcoholic fellowship called the Oxford Group. The Oxford Group emphasized a daily living regimen marked by spiritual values. Most Oxford Groups came under the auspices of Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, an Episcopal clergyman. Bill W. had managed to get himself sober, and then maintained his sobriety by working with other alcoholics. Interestingly, none of these early attempts at helping other alcoholics worked for Bill, since none managed to achieve sobriety. By accident, Bill and Dr. S. met, and the result on the surgeon was profound. Bill was in the process of formulating his notions of what constituted the necessary ingredients for successful sobriety. He told the doctor that he believed alcoholism to be an illness of the mind, emotions and body. Although he was a physician, Dr. Bob had not considered the possibility that alcoholism might be a disease entity. Using Bill’s formula, Bob was able to quit drinking and maintain sobriety the rest of his life. That meeting in 1935 was the founding moment for Alcoholics Anonymous.

    After that chance meeting, both men began working with problem drinkers at the Akron City Hospital. One patient managed to achieve complete sobriety. With the start of Bill, Dr. Bob and the one new success, the three men created the core of what would become Alcoholics Anonymous. In the fall of 1935, a second group was created in New York. In 1939, a third group began in Cleveland. In those first four years, about one hundred alcoholics achieved sobriety. Bill W. wrote his basic textbook in 1939, with the title, Alcoholics Anonymous. In that book, he formalized his twelve steps of recovery. The book also contained the case history of almost three dozen recovered members.

    Following publication of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939, growth of the movement was rapid. The growth was helped by a series of articles in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a prominent newspaper with a large circulation in Ohio. Following the editorials in the Plain Dealer, the small group of twenty members found themselves swamped with countless dozens of people wanting help. In only a few months, the Cleveland group had about 500 members. Alcoholics with only a few weeks sobriety were pressed into service helping new members. At the end of 1939, membership in AA numbered about 2,000.

    In March 1941, the popular magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, ran an article that described the new movement in favorable terms. The response was almost overwhelming to the newly formed groups. By the end of 1941, AA had grown to about 6.000 members spread across the United States and Canada.

    By 1950, nine years later, AA membership was about 100,000. By this time the chaotic rapid growth of AA had become more organized, and the treatment methods more formalized. During this time, Dr. Bob had virtually quit his surgical practice, becoming what was probably the first doctor to specialize in what we now call addictionology. Dr. Bob had become an addictionologist. As a physician, he was interested in the issue of hospital care for alcoholics. As he set up a program of treatment at St. Thomas (Catholic) Hospital in Akron, alcoholics applied for treatment in large numbers. After Dr. Bob died in 1950, Sister Ignatia continued the work at the Cleveland Charity Hospital.

    Bill W. died on January 24, 1971. He had made his last public appearance at the 35th Anniversary International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous.

    The statistics generated by AA claimed a success rate in the early days at around 75% up to 93%. The claimed success rate of AA at the present time is about 2.4% up to about 4.8%. The error rate is unknown, so these figures have to be taken as largely anecdotal or impressionistic. In order to obtain a success rate even as high as 50%, rigorous pre-screening of some type is necessary. In fact, when we review the early work of Dr. Bob, we find that he used a rigorous prescreening methodology. Furthermore, it appears that people who dropped out of the program early were not counted in the final numbers. Sgt. Bill S. began an AA treatment program at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in the early 1950’s. In the Sergeant’s groups, he had a success rate of about 50%, which he describes in his book, On the Military Firing Line in the Alcoholism Treatment Program. Sgt. Bill describes in some detail the rigorous screening methods he used, which accounts for his impressive success rate. For one thing, Sgt. Bill excluded people whom he determined to have serious mental problems that would interfere with treatment. He refused to admit airmen who were so mentally disturbed that they might qualify for Section Eight (psychiatric) discharges from the Air Force.

    Bill W. the founder of AA, wrote and spoke on several occasions that there were good and bad AA groups. He was aware that the difference between the two was whether prescreening was done before admitting alcoholics to the program.

    The treatment modality of AA is for the participant to attend meetings regularly for support and encouragement. The Twelve-Step program is described in the Big Book, which is the book written by Bill W. in the early days of the organization. The participant is encouraged to take the recovery process step by step, all the way through the twelve-steps. The program has a strong spiritual component, as well as some practical things one must do to achieve sobriety. A discussion of the twelve steps is beyond the scope of this report, but the reader can obtain a copy of the Big Book from any local chapter of AA. There is also an Alcoholics Anonymous web site at http://www.aa.org. The Big Book can actually be read on-line at the AA web site.

    It was probably almost inevitable and probably predictable, but the twelve step design, as well as the AA name, has been borrowed by other groups that deal with addictive behavior, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous.

    Synanon was founded in 1958 by Charles E. Dederich in California. Mr. Dederich was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1913 to a Catholic family of German ancestry. He attended Notre Dame University for a brief time. He also was twice married and divorced before he wound up in California some time in the 1950’s. He had been involved in Alcoholics Anonymous for about two years, but felt the AA approach was too limiting. He started holding small group meetings in his apartment, with a core group he had met through AA. He later rented a nondescript storefront in Ocean Park, California as a place to hold the meetings. The group first met under the name, TLC, which stood for Tender Loving Care. The advantage of the storefront was that there was enough space that people who had no place to go could stay overnight. As time went by, the focus of TLC gradually shifted from mostly alcoholics to narcotic addicts. After some disputes with the AA organization over how things ought to be done, Dederich’s group incorporated into a separate organization, severing ties with AA.

    The name Synanon was created when an addict attempted to say “symposium” and “seminar” in the same sentence. It came out “Synanon.” The name stuck.

    Synanon has evolved through three distinct stages. From 1958 until 1968, Synanon operated as a therapeutic society, much like the therapeutic community we know today. Starting about 1969, it became a social movement with the goal of being an alternative society. Finally, beginning in 1975, Synanon became a “church,” with the goal to serve the spiritual and religious needs of its members.

    In 1959, Dederich moved the group from the storefront into an old National Guard armory building in Santa Monica. During the therapeutic years from 1958 until 1969, Synanon used rehabilitation and reeducation with addicts, with the long-term goal that they could return to society with new coping skills. The recovery process was designed as a two year program. The program began by detoxifying the addict “cold turkey.” This means that the addict was expected to withdraw from drugs abruptly, going through the extreme discomfort that withdrawal entails. After the withdrawal was complete, and there were no serious side effects, the addict was expected to take on an increasing level of personal responsibility. The ultimate goal of Synanon’s treatment was for the recovering addict to go to an outside residence and a job. The other alternative was for the addict to take a position within the organization. The former was referred to as “rehabilitation,” and the latter was called, “absorption.”

    Almost from the day of its inception, Synanon was praised by the press and popular media as the true answer for drug addiction. Even the U.S. Senate got into the act with the praise for Synanon. In retrospect, as we look at the Synanon phenomenon, the praise was premature. Most people who went through Synanon were absorbed rather than rehabilitated, using the group’s own nomenclature. This throws a cloud of suspicion over the success rates claimed by Synanon. One sociologist, Dr. Richard Ofshe of Berkeley, found that between 6,000 and 10,000 people went through the Synanon process in the ten years following the founding in 1958. Between 1958 and 1968, Dr. Ofshe was only able to document 65 people who were rehabilitated, using Synanon’s own definition of rehabilitation. In other words, only 65 recovering addicts were known to be able to live independently outside Synanon during that ten year period. This is an admitted success ratio of between 0.65% and 1%, suggesting a 99% (or worse) failure rate. Obviously, the early hyperbole surrounding this new treatment for addiction was premature. Dr. Richard Ofshe won the Pulitzer Prize for his investigative work and writing about Synanon.

  2. Saint Jude Retreats

    The Saint Jude Retreat Program™ success rate is better than 65%, and has been verified by independent research companies. No other program in the country can legitimately make that claim.

  3. Mike Spindell wrote:
    “Well for one I am an expert, as is OS. Besides my education, training, years of professional work, I also created four Drug Rehab programs using the “sober house” concept for transitioning from Rehab Programs to society. Their success is indicated by their continues functioning for more than a decade. The dirty truth about addiction treatment is that the “cure” rate fluctuates between 15% and 20%, with some doubt about the accuracy of the figures. Te other truth about all of these programs is that they work only if the individual is motivated to take responsibility for themselves. This is also true about psychotherapy.”

    I suspect the “continued functioning” just means you were able to convince the government to pay for them, doesn’t it? Many faith based programs operate without any government money at all, and they have much better success rates. What does an expert like you think of faith based programs like Teen Challenge? Their success rates of 70% to 86% are much higher than your measly 15% to 20%.



    It seems to me that if atheists want to develop anti-addiction programs that work, have at it. I have never seen atheists care enough to work out these kinds of programs, so we will probably be waiting a long time. In the meantime, if the faith based programs work, then use them. If an addict agrees to attend a program and then does not attend the program, thereby violating his terms of probation, he is expected to go back to serving time. This is not unusual. He goes back the same way he would if he violated the terms of his probation in some other way, like being seen with a beer in his hand.

  4. heres one thing i didnt notice mention either in the article nor the comments. and that is. for some saturday is the sabbath day. not sunday. they see saturday as the beginning end of the week. which is when they attend church.. another thing missing is the fact that many people work monday thru saturday. sunday is their only day off and for many it was /is the only day they get to go shopping, go to the laundry, visit family and friends, etc. and there are many who know and understand just as horus said the higher power is INSIDE OF THE INDIVIDUAL. im not religious but i am spiritual. to me there is a higher power. my life was saved a number of times by MY higher power. and going to a church to sit and listen to someone try to tell me what is said in the bible. doesnt hold much sway for me. as my understanding is obviously different.

    I do not need to attend a church to know right from wrong. good from bad. its a personal choice we make everyday. from the moment we are old enough to have that type of thought pattern. If everyone didnt have a different understanding of GOD, or Higher Power, Allah. etc there would not be so many different religions. with so many different rules and regulations, and needs and tithes etc. all one needs to do is open your heart and mind to the Higher power of Your choosing /understanding and take it from there. the bible has been written and rewritten to many times by those who did it for their own nefarious reasons. and every religion churns out fanatics who are absolutely sure that their GOD is the right power and will come strike down those who dont believe like they do…

  5. @orneryscribble:

    A Koch Brother troll??? Oh my! Please don’t tell George Soros or he will cut off the check the Birthers are positive that I am getting from him.

    But, oh thank you for making my day! I was feeling kind of bummed out because I skipped a fish fry over at my BFF Fabia Sheen, Esq., an attorney’s house, but there is this stupid guy she has been wanting me to meet that was going to be there, sooo I told her I didn’t feel good. Which made me feel bad because I was lying, but then if I actually started feeling bad because I lied, then it wasn’t a lie after all! Which paradox I was trying to work my way through and then I read your stuff!

    But now, I don’t feel bad anymore which makes my lie not work, so I guess you making me feel good was a bad thing after all. Which should make you feel happy, too!

    This might be too deep for you.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  6. The word Alcoholic is a bogus description/disease.

    What the real description of that person’s behavior is: Someone who is stopping at the liquor store to often.

    I remember an ole story of a small town in Russia in which everyone were unable to control their drinking habits.

    I don’t know if the story is true but the plan outlined should work.

    As the story went there were 2 older guys that realized they had a problem & no one else would be coming to their aid so they took matters into their own hands.

    As their plan went one guy chained the other to his bed room/bath rm area & the 1st guy brought the 2nd food, water, etc…

    After both were sober they moved on & sobered up the rest of the town.

    It’s a rough plan but I think it would work with “many”, not all, cases of physical/physiological additions including eating disorders.

    And no, it’s not a jail model.

    As I heard years back was that an addictive urge in one’s mind only last 3-8 seconds & then the urge is gone. And as one is giving up an addictive behavior the urges come & go often at 1st, but slow the longer one refrains from the subject of their personal addiction, whether it’s drinking or posting on the Internet.

    They just need to remember they won’t die if they quit drinking or stop posting on a blog. 🙂

    Next I have a few bones to pick with the professionals on this subject.

    Yes the drug alcohol & others have caused untold amount of trouble yet without them we wouldn’t have the Edgar A Poe, the Beatles, Doors, Ozzy Osborn, Rollin Stones,etc…

    He’ll look Stones, what are they like 80 yrs old & no signs they need walkers/wheel chairs yet. 🙂

    Another bone:

    Advertising, In a marketing class it was presented the old ads for Coors Beer.

    It was targeted towards young guys. The video would flash a picture of a cute gal & then a beer then repeated all the way through the ad. Then they ran the ad night & day.

    Those type ads work on many people. The Young guy wants the cute gal, the beer ad shows the young guy that the beer is just the same as the cute gal but the beer is easy & available to the young guy any time he wishes.

    To reinforce & to keep the customer the beer companies plaster colorful ads on the sides of their trucks & everywhere around town.

    One tactic that works for some is to counter the brain’s urge is every time the urge hits keep repeating a completely different type reward.

    Every time the young guy gets the urge for a beer, instead of getting the beer start making out with his girl friend.

    I’ve heard some just used cannabis when the urge for alcohol hit because they knew cannabis wasn’t physically addictive.

    What ever the person uses as a replacement should be some thing they know they can control or quit.

    (Yes, it’s tough to quit your cute gal) 🙂

    Another bone, If people are going to use subsidences then teach them how to avoid trouble.

    IE: If your going to drink, get your booze & take it home or somewhere you plan on staying the night.

    At the very least plan on not driving, take a cab, etc..

    Teach young guys that if they drink at least drink the low proof booze instead of say Everclear.

    Use logic with them. Explain to them that the least drunk guys at the party is going to take away the cute gals from the drunker guys.

    Then there’s the issue of the hazards of Hard Drugs/Synthetic Drugs.

    What has been done so far doesn’t seem to be working & a fresh method needs developed.

    Sorry for any typos in advance.

  7. 0john0charles0heiser0,

    You may find these quotes by Robert A. Heinlein, speaking in the voice of his fictional character Lazarus Long, go right to the heart of your observation:

    When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.

    It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.

    One man’s theology is another man’s belly laugh.
    – Robert A. Heinlein

    As for the stick figure, she showed up a while back as a troll. Her efforts so far are attempts to derail any attempt at serious conversation in areas that go against the grain of the “tea party.” Also lacks empathy and has a mean streak. She looks for personal stuff she can use to make cutting and hurtful remarks in order to score what she perceives as “points.” Several of us are convinced she is part of the astroturf effort sponsored by the Koch crime family. Some of the regulars here are beginning to suspect “she” may not even be female.

    Our experience so far has been that stories on the environment in particular bring out a flood of trolls who make dozens of short, disruptive comments so as to make a thread unreadable and rational discussion next to impossible if they can. This behavior on progressive blogs has been well documented by watchdog groups following the activities of secretive right wing billionaires who fund such efforts.

  8. No wonder they said that if you want to have a rational conversation, avoid politics or religion. Perhaps that is why the world is so messed up, Religion has once again morphed into politics. As for the comment about forced religious practices being akin to rape, is anyone paying attention to Syria, or was that Serbia, or was that Chechnya, or Bosnia, or Afghanistan, or Saudi Arabia, or Alabama, the Congo, pretty much any Native American Boarding school, normally rum by ‘good religious’ protestants, or was that the Catholic boarding schools, or the Hasidic(?) ones recently making news… Somebody help. I cannot think of a major religion has has not had their bouts of forced conversions along with rape and all the rest of it. I know, the problem is I studied genocide, ethnic cleansing, basically the story of civilization. I looked, but, could not find a culture whose population numbered in the thousands that had not, when the opportunity presented itself, pillaged, made war and raped, their religion justifying all. So what do we do. By the way, being new, I don’t get, why ‘Squeaky Fromm’…?, speaking of small religious groups. Well, I;m just some old fool anyway. but, an Anishnabe woman who went by the nickname of Tinker, once told me, ‘a person should practices as many religions they need in order to lead a good and honest life. Zero to infinity. Isn’t that the First Amendment?

    1. 0john0charles0heiser0,

      Welcome aboard rational thought and insight are always welcome here. As you can see this is a blog that values freedom of speech so we do occasionally get those who are more doctrinaire than introspective.

      My own religious perspective is Deist, though with Jewish ritual observed. I personally think there might be a creative force informing the universe, but that humanity has no idea of the nature of that force. I see all organized religion as a con game, or an arm of the regressive forces in society and they tend towards encouraging conflict in their search for power. Religion is not the root cause for conflict, power is, but religion is most often used to justify the horrors humans afflict upon other humans.

  9. Well, I just wrote a Higher Power poem. You can use it for FREE, just attribute it to me!

    An UR-Rational Number
    by Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter

    “Your actions are not rational!”
    The Libertarian said.
    “You’re demanding all my money.
    With a gun held to my head.”

    “But your epistemology
    Is filled with contradiction.
    And Tort-wise, have you heard the phrase,
    “Intentional infliction???”

    “Let’s look at this objectively,
    For I’m certain you’ll agree.
    Initiating the use of force
    Makes no sense rationally.”

    The criminal thought a moment,
    And then made a brief reply,
    “My pistol-mology says this,
    “You can cough it up or die!”

    “I hope that you are rational.
    I did not come here to kill.
    The Bible says that it’s a sin.
    I don’t want to, but I will!”

    The Libertarian just sighed,
    And said in tone, ironic,
    “Dude, there is no Higher Power,”
    To think so is moronic!”

    “Really, your belief in a God,
    And Commandments carved in stone,
    Just proves you are illogical,
    And can not think on your own!”

    The Robber thought for just a skosh,
    Then. . . BANG BANG his pistol went.
    There lay the Libertarian.
    But, he won the argument!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  10. As I’m sure some of you will recall when you play country songs backwards you’ll get out jail, get your wife, job, dog, house back & give up hard liquor. 🙂

    Now if this is a favor you’ll like this link below is a nice 1:38 minutes

  11. Squeeker: Death is not a power much higher than me; any more than a cracked engine block is a power much higher than me. Death is not animate, it has no intention, it has no purpose, it has no desire to control, punish, or coerce a person into any course of action.

    A higher power would have to be conscious, intelligent, and able to dictate events and foresee consequences far beyond the normal understanding of humankind. Simple consequences of physics, as “death” is, do not qualify.

  12. OS, Leavenworth was very strict. I don’t know what happened to those inmates. I was a wet behind the ears rookie. And when I saw the visceral reaction when I mentioned Cash I had enough sense to keep my moth shut. But, I’m a betting man and I would bet a c note you’re right.

    When you were trained @ Leavenworth you worked 2 week tours on all the assignments. One of my first was as a bailiff for the disciplinary hearings. That’s where I got a true sense of how tough the place was. Weapons and drugs meant you were going to the hole for a long stretch. Fights w/ other inmates meant the hole, but if no weapon was involved, not as long. I never sat in on any hearings involving fights w/ officers. Leavenworth inmates are older veterans and knew how to do time. I don’t remember the book rule. I do remember the guy who ran shakedown was called “Super Cop” by the inmates. He was respected because he always treated the inmates w/ respect and taught that to me in my 2 week tour. Super Cop didn’t sweat the small stuff. When he shook down a cell he was looking for weapons and drugs and he was zen like in finding them. I found a porn photo once and showed it to him. He just shrugged and waved to let it go. But as you know OS, there are decent hacks and a-hole hacks. That makes all the difference. There was a good book written about Leavenworth called The Hot House. It covers a stretch of time after I was no longer working there, but I know some of the staff and inmates in it.

  13. nick,
    I have worked on a couple of cases where Leavenworth inmates were involved. The rules there are incredibly strict. I would not be surprised if those inmates who came up on stage were put on punitive segregation for violating orders.

    Here is a for instance. At the time this happened, an inmate was only allowed to have four books in his possession at any one time. I don’t know if the rules have changed since then or not…this was at least twenty five years ago. The pod was on their exercise hour, and another inmate asked my guy how to spell a word, because he was writing a letter to his mother. My guy goes back to his cell and gets a dictionary so the other inmate could look up the word. They both got 45 days in solitary. My guy for providing contraband, and the other for receiving contraband.

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