Wednesday, 10 December 2014

U.S. Torture Report.

Reports like this remind me that I pledge allegiance to humanity first, and the country second. As Germany sought to commit crimes against decency and humanity, those that pledged allegiance to the Motherland, carried out those acts or looked the other way. Those that pledged allegiance to ALL humanity tried to stop it within Germany like Schindler, or left Germany like Einstein. I hope we keep our perspective on the bigger picture and seriously try to change this trend. We are a lonely speck of pale blue, united against the universe!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The zombie apocalypse of 1814

Suppose I told you there was a zombie uprising in Kalamazoo, MI in the year 1814. A whole bunch of dead people rose from their graves and walked around in the streets, where lots of people saw them.

How do I know this? I read a report written by someone who knew all about it. It was written anonymously in the year 1874, but it greatly corroborates with another report written in 1854. Well, copied actually, but there are some unique additions as well. The horde of zombies is o
ne of them.

But wait, although this 1854 account was also written anonymously, and doesn't mention a horde of zombies rising from the dead, it DOES mention two specific people rising from the dead:
-The pastor of John the Baptist Church
-The daughter of a man named Jacob

There is also a more prophetic account written after both of these in 1894 that says it will happen again, and the only way to survive the coming zombie apocalypse, is to believe the first one happened. Sure, no witnesses in Kalamazoo around 1814 wrote about it, but I think these other reports are enough to go on, and besides, what if it's true and zombies are coming any day now?


Suppose I told you that several bodies of the dead rose in Jerusalem in the year 30 A.D. A whole bunch of dead people rose from their graves and walked around in the streets, where lots of people saw them.

How do I know this? I read about it in the book of Matthew 27:51-53. Matthew was written anonymously in the year 90 A.D., but it greatly corroborates with the book of Mark, written in 70 A.D. Well, copied actually, but there are some unique additions as well. The dead walking the streets is one of them.

But wait, although this 70 A.D. account (Mark) was also written anonymously, and doesn't mention dead people walking the street, it DOES mention two specific people rising from the dead:
-A rabbi named Jesus
-The daughter of a man named Jairus

There is also a more prophetic account written after both of these in 110 A.D. (the gospel of John) that says Jesus is coming back, and the only way to survive the coming apocalypse, is to believe in Jesus. Sure, no witnesses in Jerusalem around 30 A.D. wrote about it, but I think these other reports are enough to go on, and besides, what if it's true and judgement is coming any day now?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Where I now stand on the immigration debate.

I recently read about some very extremist opinions and actions being taken about illegal immigration happening on the southern U.S. border. (It's never the northern border, I wonder why that is...) I realized I've not expressed my very polarized switch on the immigration debate, so I figured now is as good a time as any.

I used to be all about building up the border. I remember joking with a friend in high school about setting up sniper towers along the border, and while I don't think I actually would have said to kill anyone, I wouldn't have been against the intimidation of warning shots.

How do we Americans regard the lives of others with so little empathy? If a 6 year old boy being led by his 12 year old sister knocked on our door, the vast majority of us would get them a meal, a bed, and call social services to make sure they're well cared for and get a good start on life. How does our thinking change so drastically when we find out their parents are down in Columbia? Think about how dire their situation must be for their parents to consider sending their children by themselves to America, praying that our hearts aren't icy enough to turn them down.

We're not going to go broke feeding, clothing, and educating children, yet that's at the top of the opposition's mind. It amazes me how America can go fight foreign wars without thinking about the costs of paying for them, but when it comes to caring for and educating children, we ask why they should be OUR problem.

While I don't think a decent person would require a "what's in it for us" perspective to get motivated, I'll include it anyway. Don't forget the baby boomers are starting to retire. Don't forget younger generations are having less kids, AND waiting longer to have them. Don't forget that the baby boomers will be the longest lived generation yet, requiring services, and will be drawing from social security that whole time. We NEED an influx of young, educated, taxpayers.

So my position is to let them in. Give them a path to citizenship, feed them, clothe them, house them, educate them, put the American sticker on them for whatever it's worth, and stop viewing them as so different from ourselves. From space, national borders are not apparent, and any differences we perceive in ourselves from the people below a particular latitude are entirely human constructs.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

A Non-Believer's Thoughts on "Ask It" by Mega Pastor Andy Stanley.

I was recently given a recommendation to listen to a lecture series by mega pastor Andy Stanley. Since I'm the type of person who absorbs more information while taking notes, I did just that. Then I formatted them into a more readable blog format and added my own thoughts. The series can be found at

Part 1: Question Everything.
This first part I found kind of...hypocritical. The title is called "Question Everything." What is the first thing he says before he starts? "If you're not a bible believing person, I want you to suspend your skepticism about the bible." Basically, question everything...except the bible. Then he says "Let's start with the words of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians." I guess I'm also supposed to suspend the fact that we don't know who wrote the words, or that most biblical scholars believe it was actually a second generation of Christians who wrote Ephesians specifically. Also, suspend the thought that of the 14 books in the New Testament attributed to Paul, only 7 are considered authentically authored by Paul himself.
Yet, I can see what he wants to get across. It doesn't matter who I think wrote these particular words. Wisdom is wisdom, whether spoken by a saint or a sinner, a wise man or a fool.

He wants us to ask ourselves "What is the wise thing to do? Not the right thing to do, or the legal thing to do, or what works for other people." At this point, I mentally added "Don't ask what the bible says to do, it specifically states a follower shouldn't question everything, but rather just have faith that they're right." Although, I don't think that's what he had in mind. What he meant was "question everything inside this box."

In totality, I agreed with most of what he said. Be wise, skeptical, and plan your future. Learn from the past so you can live in the present in a way conducive to your future.

“The future depends on what you do today.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

Part 2: Musical Chairs.

There are three ways people can be unwise:
Inexperienced - When a person hasn't had the time or opportunity to be corrected or taught.
Fools - When a person has the experience, knows something is wrong, but does it out of apathy.
Mockers - When a person has vocal disdain for people whom he knows are right.

Inexperienced people, through no fault of their own, may be unwise about something. Everyone has been this type of unwise. When not concerned over miscommunication, I like to use the word ignorant. Unfortunately people tend to misinterpret ignorant to mean stupid. It just means a person doesn't have knowledge or experience in a particular area. A 15 year old is ignorant of love. A person without children is ignorant of parenthood. When Dawkins or Nye say someone is ignorant of evolution, what they mean is the person hasn't taken the time to learn or understand it enough to refute it. I think a humble person would say they are ignorant of more things than they are knowledgeable.

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
- Benjamin Franklin

When I think of his definition of fools, I get a sense of not only apathy, but also of false security. I think the target people for this message are apathetic believers. They believe their religion is true, but they don't care much about it, even though they know they should. I would take it a step further. What is the reward from gaining a degree? Opportunity. What is the consequence of lacking one? Generally, less opportunity. We spend about 4 years of our lives to gain that degree. Now, what is the reward for gaining knowledge and understanding about the creator of the universe? In many religions, eternal/infinite bliss. What about the consequence for failing to do so? Eternal/infinite agony. I think if people truly dropped their apathy about religion, they would schedule time regularly to study the various Christian theologies, as well as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc. With so much at stake, why assume you were born into the correct religion? Sure, Christians feel confident because of faith, but so do Muslims and Jews. No matter which one (if any) turns out to be right, it will be a minority of the Earth's population.

When I think of mockers, I think of the religion debating forum on Reddit. It's one of the most active forums for religious discussion on the internet. There is only one rule: No ad hominems! You may not mock someone for their beliefs or lack of beliefs. You may not attack someone's character. Discussions are carried out in civility and rationality without personal attacks. Besides, people who resort to "Well, you don't know anything, you're an evil atheist/Christian/Jew/Muslim" usually do so because their argument has failed them. One can critique views and ideas without criticizing the person holding them, indeed that's how we handle ourselves in politics and other conflict resolution situations elsewhere!

Part 3: Time Over Time

"Time is important and priceless because it's set. You can't get any more. Time spent investing in your health, family, relationships, and spiritual self is cumulative. Neglect is cumulative as well."
I totally agree. I think the main thing I've been neglecting would be my health. Everyone uses winter as an excuse for not working out, but it can't be an excuse for me because I have access to decent indoor equipment. Plus, we just bought a rower that I haven't used once... >.>

He mentioned we shouldn't read the bible all at once. I'm not totally sure what he means, but I do think its a good idea for the sake of continuity and tone to try and read each individual book (maybe with the exception of a few of the longer books) in one sitting. When I read through it, I decided to set aside a couple hours every time I wanted to start and finish the next book I was on. The gospels especially have very different emphases and if they mesh together in your mind over time, you may miss something the individual authors were stressing in particular.

I think his emphasis for this talk was to make time for your spiritual needs in particular. Ironically, this something that lead to my deconversion. I had just gotten married, I had to quit my part-time job in order to plan and attend my double international wedding. After we married, I spent most of  my time in Canada. I couldn't get a job in Canada until my Permanent Resident card was obtained. We also didn't want me to go back to work in Michigan because it would mean we had to be apart. With all of this free time, I felt the need to get to know God and Jesus more. Although we agreed on most things, my Catholic wife and I differed on some things. So I made a goal to research and pray until I knew God more than I ever had. I read books that had been on my book list for years. I was at church every week and went to bible study every week for six months. One of the first things I discovered was there wasn't much reason to believe in the rapture. (Or at least like my favorite book series "Left Behind" had portrayed it.) It's only a belief for a minority of protestant denominations, but the book series had convinced me of it. Upon discovering this misinterpretation, I wondered what else I had believed without researching. I started frequenting Jewish forums to find out why they reject Jesus as the messiah. I read through Muslim forums to find out why they (along with Jews) rejected god being part of a trinity. I started taking free online classes. (yes, they exist!) One class was on the origins/authorship of the Pentateuch, (First five books of the bible) and another on New Testament authorship/history. With these added perspectives, I was free to make my own conclusions. I started watching debates archived on YouTube. I frequented religion debate forums. Agnostics and atheists seemed to always make the best arguments and seemed the most humble. I started reading atheist books. They cemented my agnosticism into atheism.
For me, the act of honestly, prayerfully, and studiously seeking God led to my skeptical view of theism.

I still go to church, sometimes go to bible study, and I'm still not done researching. Right now, I'm taking an online course from Harvard about early Christianity and the letters of Paul. I encourage others to seek with everything they have as well.

Part 4: Edged Out

Don't assume "If something isn't wrong, then it's right."
I agree. Take any class on ethics and they will explain that morality isn't black and white, but comprised of many shades of grey.

"A series of unwise decisions often precede a major bad decision."
Also true and noteworthy.

"Whether you believe it's inspired or not, you should read the New Testament for moral teachings."
I agree, and although I prefer Thomas Jefferson's version, there are good things to be taken from it either way. Some aspects of Jesus's teachings are definitely beneficial to reflect on. Just like some of Gandhi's, Buddha's, Confucius', and Plato's teachings are also beneficial. Although each religion has some people who claim their holy book is the sole source of moral teachings, I think everyone should read the wide range of authors throughout history.
My skeptic side can't help but kick in and think about how one of Jesus' best moral examples likely never happened. The story of the adulterous woman (he without sin cast the first stone) isn't found in any of the earlier versions of the book of John. It appeared in much later copies in the footnotes section and later was inserted into the book itself. It doesn't appear in any Greek manuscript until the 5th century, and no Greek church father comments on the story prior to the 12th century. So this particular moral lesson is likely thanks to an unknown 5th century theologian rather than Jesus himself.

He spends most of his time on sexual morality. If we don't define sexual morality the bible's way, I agree with what he says. In most of the western world, monogamy is expected. Breaking the trust of your spouse is probably the most devastating thing you could do to them. While Christian teachers and theologians have changed their definition of sexual morality over time, (i.e. They eventually excluded marriage between first cousins and eventually included inter-racial marriages.) the lesson that it might be one of the slipperiest slopes with the most devastating of consequences has held true.

Being an awkward, introverted (especially around girls) nerd most of my life, I couldn't really relate to this part as much as others might have. It was still worth watching just the same.

Part 5: Hold My Hand

"Don't make decisions based on emotions."
I would add "don't go grocery shopping while you're hungry" to that list as well!

"Private decisions have public consequences." Definitely. One of the reasons secular people have become so vocal and political is because the private beliefs of some people are being forced into the public square onto others who don't subscribe to the faith. For Christians, homosexuality is a sin, and in a nation where Christianity is the state religion, (Like England) it wouldn't be considered a valid marriage, and would probably even be considered an illegal activity. When the founding fathers fled other nations with state religions, they set up a secular constitution so that people not of the same (or any) faith tradition wouldn't have to be subjected to the religious edicts of others.

"Wise people know what they don't know, and they're not afraid to engage the people who know. They aren't too prideful or arrogant to think they know."
I love this. It's one of the reasons I frequent Reddit. I made an account and customized my feed so it gives me discussions within the Christian community, the atheist community, the conservative and liberal communities, and also several debating communities. I remain open to further change, and I'm always willing to share what I've learned thus far.
This quote also sounds a lot like one of the wiser men in recent times, physicist Richard Feynman. He was considered the smartest man in the world since Einstein. He once said:
"I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs, in different degrees of certainty... But I'm not absolutely sure of anything and of many things I don't know anything about. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things."
I also think of the anonymous quote, "When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken, or cease being honest." I think this can be said of a wise man as well.

I think a more subtle idea he was hinting at, which he kind of mentioned at the very end, was to accept the wisdom of God and Jesus. I'm guessing this was intended for the believers in the audience because to an atheist, it makes as much sense as "accept the wisdom of Allah, Mohammed or Athena." Human history is filled with wise people, Solomon included. There is plenty of wisdom offered throughout history for both believers and non-believers to saturate their lives with.

Part 6: The Beginning

"We all need help from others in painting out our lives."
I agree. Family, friends, and people with experience from whom we can draw wisdom.

"Specifically, we need God's help in our lives."
I guess it depends on the god. Some religions see humans as autonomous and independent. Some see humans as dependent. Christianity is one of those. I've found I'm just as happy, if not happier as an agnostic atheist though.

"To make wise decisions in any arena requires an understanding of, and submission to, the principles and rules that govern that arena."
He used driving as an example, but how do we learn the principles and rules of an "arena?" We use science, reason, and evidence.

"The principles and rules inform the decision making process."
True, and how do we decide which religion to subscribe to? We use the principles and rules of logic and reason. Even a believer would say God gave us these tools to assess truth.

"The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the lord and the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of God is the understanding. All who follow God's precepts gain understanding."
If we applied this in today's multicultural reality without making the assumption that the religion we were born into is right, it would take us forever to go through even just the major religions. As things are, the Christians just submit, the Muslims just submit, and the Jews just submit. Yet, they're all still convinced they submitted to the right god. "Submission first" is an ineffective way to discern truth. Besides, Solomon said this as a theocratic ruler. Of course he would want them to submit first and ask questions later. Mohammed said similar things. "Islam" after all means "submission to God."

"Science and faith don't conflict.
"I'm guessing he takes the modern view that if science reveals something to be true, (evolution, big bang, etc.) it must be how god did things. That's exactly how I saw things. We need more Christian theology like that. We need less segregation and less assuming that one's interpretation is infallible. We also need more curiosity and open mindedness.

Final Thoughts:
Overall I'm glad I watched them all. It was thought provoking and reminded me a lot of self help/motivation techniques. In fact, that's exactly what I would label it. (save for the last part tying the previous 5 to the Jewish god.) The overall summary would be "Think about your future before you act!"

Monday, 3 February 2014

I'm Disappointed with the Attitude Preceding the Bill Nye/Ken Ham Debate.

Preceding the debate tomorrow, there have been many articles and opinion columns from various blogs and news sources and I think I've only read one or two that see the debate in a positive light. The atheist and scientist bloggers say it's a bad idea because it "legitimizes creationism" in the public's eye. The Christians who accept evolution say it's a bad idea because it entrenches Christianity in a literal interpretation of Genesis. Other commentators say creationists are too stupid to understand or too indoctrinated to accept evolutionary theory. Many creationists wish a more scientific person (from the Discovery Institute for example) would debate for the creationist side.

Let's put this debate into perspective. This isn't a debate for the scientific community.
-Paleontologists aren't going to stop using their evolutionary knowledge to classify fossils when they place them in evolutionary order.
-Geneticists aren't going to stop using the evolutionary model to assess gene mutation when they place someone on a family tree or when they research genetic defects.
-Doctors won't stop making vaccines because they no longer accept that viruses evolve.

This battle is over public understanding. The latest poll (Dec. 2013) puts the percentage of people who believe humans have always existed in their present form at 33%. That's a lower number than usual, but it's been stagnant between one-third and half of the population for almost a century.

I was a creationist or "intelligent design" proponent back in high school and early college. I wasn't "too stupid" to understand evolution. I was never exposed to it. My high school biology teacher, Mrs. Moore, told us that (macro) evolution wasn't true because nature can never have a positive mutation, only neutral or negative mutations. She even told us Archeopteryx was a hoax! Beyond high school, I only ever read books on the subject of evolution that were written by religious people. (I read the back cover to see how they approached the subject) Books like "The Science of God" always tried to harmonize 6 days of creation with scientific evidence. I know now that it cherry picked data and ideas that gave the illusion of support from science. It wasn't until I watched a documentary on evolution that my horizons expanded. It had no religious bias or preconceived notions to conform to or harmonize with. Here's the theory, here's the evidence. Mind. Blown. I started reading books by actual scientists who produce peer-reviewed papers, and I stopped rejecting evolution immediately

What can be taken from my story is the creationist perspective. The point of the debate is to expose people, and especially children to the uncensored, unbiased perspective of evolution. I've never talked to a creationist who understood evolution well enough to reject it. You can't blame them either. The teachers and parents in their lives have given them what they know and put them on a set course. Bill Nye knows this isn't a debate to be won as much as it's an educational experience to be had. In between Ken Ham's performances of misrepresentations and "argument from ignorance" logical fallacies, kids being raised in creationist science classrooms will hear for the first time an inkling of the grandeur of nature.

People don't seek or accept other answers if they believe they already know the truth, but children are an exception to this rule. Their minds are too open to be trapped yet. We can break them free, and Bill has been doing it for decades.

Then there will be a fantastic follow-up: The Cosmos coming March 9th!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Is Our Constitution Based on the Ten Commandments?

     There are monuments of the ten commandments outside courthouses and township halls all around the country. When a group trying to maintain the separation of church and state tries to remove the monument, the typical response is "This country was founded on Judeo-Christian values and our laws and Constitution are inspired by the ten commandments." Let's explore this idea.

1st commandment: "I am your one true god, and you will worship no other gods."

This goes against our very first Amendment and disallows the primary reason our forefathers left England! The right to practice or not practice a religion is what made America unique. How anyone could say our Constitution has anything to do with this is beyond me.

2nd commandment: "You may not make any graven images depicting anything in heaven or on Earth. You also shall not worship these images."

This one goes against two core American values: the freedom of speech, and once again, the freedom of religion.

3rd commandment: "Do not take God's name in vain."

This one also goes against our freedom of speech. When the U.N. proposed a ban on blasphemy last year, the U.S. was one of the first to say no. At the assembly, President Obama said:
"I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs."

4th commandment: "Do not work on the Sabbath and keep it holy."

It's not illegal to work on Saturdays or Sundays. I also don't ever see this changing.

5th commandment: "Honor your father and your mother."

This command also has no place in our constitution or laws. Children are not required by law to obey their parents and it would be immoral to do so. If anything, the opposite is true. We do have laws in place to take children away from unfit parents who should not be honored.

6th commandment: "Do not murder."

This one is obviously a good idea. It's so good, every civilization has had this law since, well, civilization. There's nothing uniquely Judeo-Christian about this commandment at all. In fact, it was written in the Code of Hammurabi - a law code from Babylon that existed long before the Jewish holy books were written.

7th commandment: "Do not commit adultery."

Adultery is not illegal in the Constitution or any federal laws. It's illegal in a few states, but it's rarely enforced. Over the years, they have been decreasing in number and severity. Once again, this is not something our nation was based on.

8th commandment: "Do not steal."

Like number 6, this one is a good idea, but it's not uniquely Judeo-Christian.

9th commandment: "Do not lie."

Like number 6 and 8, this one is a good idea, but it's not uniquely Judeo-Christian.

10th commandment: "Do not covet your neighbor's possessions."

Not only is this not illegal, but it's also the underlying mechanism that drives capitalism. Back when the people lived in a caste system under God appointed monarchies, (Romans 13:1-7) this was useful to keep the peasants from pursuing class warfare. In a country like the USA where we claim to cherish upward mobility, we want people to want things. The free market is based on supply and demand!

So to summarize:
1, 2, 3, 4, (almost half) stand directly against our freedoms of religion and speech. These four alone make the monuments an affront to our laws.
57, and 10 are not reflected in our constitutional or federal laws. The last even undermines our economic model.
6, 8, and 9 are moral laws that we would have had anyway. (Every other country already had them as well.)

There are two more things I want to mention while we're on the subject.

     The first is that biblical morality is so often black and white. We're given unconditional morality dictated by absolute laws. True ethics are much more nuanced. Anyone who's had a university class on ethics has read "Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics" or something similar. Not only are there many shades of grey between right and wrong, but also in the corresponding punishments. The laws of the bible aren't anything like this. They list a crime followed by a punishment. Our own laws don't follow this template at all. God is not our judge. A judicial appointee is our judge.

     The second issue is that the nature of biblical divine law is nothing like our Constitution. God's laws are revealed as eternal truths. Our Constitution is a "living document" and can change. Imagine if our constitution stopped changing after the Bill of Rights. Our country would have collapsed! If our laws were based on the unchanging bible, we would still have slavery, women would not have any say (vote) over men, and our science/technology would have remained right where it was. With no acceptance or understanding of evolution, we would have never developed things like vaccines that combat ever evolving viruses.

If nothing here convinces you, then let the primary writer of the Constitution tell you himself in his own words:
"It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service [writing the constitution] had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven... it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses."
-John Adams, "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" (1787-88)

If you're religious, thank God for the separation between church and state. It's made our country strong!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

My History with the Emperor's Clothes

I was a big fan of the emperor's clothes. My family and friends weren't fashion experts, but they all knew about his legendary and wonderful fabric. One day, I overheard a few people speaking in hushed tones at my university. They said that the clothes were either invisible or didn't exist. What a radical and serious allegation! What's the likelihood of the emperor being naked? How could people not notice? How could my parents not have noticed? I didn't think much of it, but every time the topic of the emperor's clothes came up, their murmurings popped into my mind.
So I started going to the tailor's shop every week where he would tell the crowds about the fabric he had used while making the emperor's clothes. He said it was the softest he had ever felt and the most beautiful he had ever seen. The best part: he told us that he knew where to get more of the same fabric.  He promised to order a large supply of it when he could afford it and make a robe for each person at his shop! So, every week we would buy his clothes or sometimes just donate money to his shop. Occasionally he would donate clothes to disadvantaged children. I would say that was a win-win!
While many people came for his stories and his promise, I found myself enjoying the music he played in the background the most. It must have been the work of really great composers throughout the ages. I also noticed that the people who came to the tailor's shop were always really nice! I don't know if they were all genuinely nice, or if the tailor's shop and all his promises made people want to be nice. Either way, the effect was the same. This is where I belonged and the murmurers had nothing on us.
Except, they weren't murmuring anymore. Years had passed, and in that time they had started speaking out loud. They were writing books that accused the tailor of lying. They said the emperor's clothes were a "delusion" and that their belief was hurting society. Actually, it's true that the tailor and his closest followers wanted school to start every day with a mention of the emperor's fabric. It's true that in my sewing class, we had spent a lot of time talking about how to use the emperor's fabric rather than the fabric we had in stock. Also, it was the emperors opinion that the color chartreuse should never be worn. It was unnatural, eccentric, and it clashed with the emperor's clothes horribly. The townsfolk passed laws that made it illegal for people to wear chartreuse colored clothing. If chartreuse was your favorite color, you were out of luck. You couldn't even wear it in your own house. This started to seem wrong to me, but it was only a minority of people affected. I wasn't a fan of chartreuse myself, so I put it to the back of my mind.
I continued to ignore the books by the dissenters and started reading books about the emperor's fabric. In retrospect, I realize I only cared about hearing more about why I was right and why the dissenters were wrong. This was easy to do because there were a lot of books to choose from! Every book with positive things to say about the fabric was a bestseller in our town.
Yet, for some reason the number of dissenters continued to grow. One day, I got the crazy idea to hear what the dissenters had to say. I would have just a peek inside their insane world and be done with it. I borrowed one of their books from the library, and covered the front so nobody would see. I sat down on a bench one morning and started reading. It was so different! It discussed philosophies as old as the ancient Greeks, a history of "invisible" fabrics from all over the world, and the latest findings from fabric scientists! All of it relevant and all of it building up to an increasingly inescapable conclusion. The fabric books I had read started to fall down in my mind. My defenses were crumbling and every chapter dismantled yet another brick. As I was finishing the last chapter, I heard the emperor's processional bell down the street, which now sounded more like a funeral knell. My lifetime flashed in an instant as I re-imagined my whole life from this different perspective. I finished the book and suddenly noticed it was silent. I looked up, and to my horror, there was the emperor, and a crowd of people. The tailor's shipment had come in. Everyone was wearing their new robes of soft, beautiful, and most importantly: comforting fabric...and they were all naked.