Atheism, Democracy, Liberty, News, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

Nature’s God: The Misunderstanding of our Founding Philosophy

Does this sound like a proponent of Christian Theocracy to you?

“All men are created equal” was a statement made by Enlightenment Era deists who believed in a non-personal non-acting metaphysical being. It was not a pronouncement that all rights and morality came from a Christian god. The Declaration of Independence is no more of an endorsement or confirmation of the supremacy of Christian morality and theology then is Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals. The fact that some people find a reason to think that this is in fact the case shows more about the ability of conservatives to project their beliefs onto any secular document than anything else.

The founding fathers were certainly not of one mind regarding spirituality or belief (I hardly think that George Washington would have found the need to reedit the Bible as did Jefferson) but the men who had the most influence in shaping and passing the Declaration and the Constitution were in no way men of faith as a conservative Christian of today would understand it. Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and Hamilton were al believers to a degree (with the possible exception of Jefferson) but none of them were fanatical in their belief or an advocate of Christian moral law as a basis for a Constitutional Republic. These men grew up in colonies founded for the most part upon the principle of religious freedom, or at least fear of government interference and partnership with religion. These men were also highly educated in the philosophy of the European Enlightenment thinkers of the past century. Rousseau, Locke, Fichte, Voltaire, Hobbes…none of these men is exactly known for their writings in favor of theocracy as a mode of civil government.

Jefferson in particular feared the pernicious potential of state and church uniting. He helped to guarantee religious freedom in his home state, and he had no intention of betraying his principles when he had a chance to shape the national dialogue. The fact that nearly each and every major delegate to the Constitutional Convention and the Continental Congress had a different religion or different view of religion was not lost on the founders who crafted our foundational documents. The deliberate exclusion of reference to a deity or even to any matters of faith or morality, save for religious freedom protections, from these documents puts the lie to the idea that these men saw America as a potential Christian Republic based upon Biblical precepts.

Many revisionists will have you believe that the private letters and papers of the founders are positively littered with references to the almighty and the Bible. In some regards they are correct: it would be strange if men born in an era and a civilization that took to heart biblical ideas and teaching did not reference such views in their personal lives. This, however, is not a sign that they meant the secular and civil documents and institutions they created should be run or interpreted based on limited biblical conceptions of law and ethics. They would be bad enlightenment thinkers, and indeed bad stewards of the traditions and ideas of their forebears, if they were foolish enough to be led by purely biblical precepts. These men knew in what context the bible was written, and they knew that this context could not be directly fused onto a civil society based around Enlightenment precepts and English common law. Lord knows that the precepts and traditions of common law itself did not adhere strictly to even the most liberal readings of scripture then extant.

“The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. This was not the wording of a theology friendly or familiar to traditional Christianity at this place and time. Just imagine a preacher referring to “Nature’s God” in the pulpit of a Catholic Church in Baltimore, or in a Baptist preacher’s sermon. It would have been a scandal! Just ask any evangelical today if they worship “Nature’s God” and they will laugh you out of their Church…and then pray for the redemption of your sinning soul. “Nature’s God” and the rights that derive from it were a deist precept, the belief of a theology of humanistic enlightenment. Jefferson or Adams would be horrified by the idea that their Declaration would be interpreted today by some Christians as a vindication of Biblical prophecy or of the inherency of scripture. “Nature’s God” was not a god of active creation or omniscient interference or will: it was the basis of a humanistic philosophy of nature as the center of all understanding of morality and ethics. Nature provided a world that allowed for the full potential of the human mind and heart to be realized. Look into the Bible. There is no striving for deeper knowledge of creation, there is no guarantee of fair and equal status for all, there is no unalienable right to anything beyond the “right” to worship and obey an unfathomable and inscrutable metaphysical force! Show me anywhere in the Declaration or the Constitution where government procedure, law or ethics is in any way attributed to a deity, let alone a specifically Christian one.

And even if there was, which God would it be? Would it be the God of the Quakers who vouchsafed our liberty? Of the Catholics? Of the Unitarians? But today Christians insist on interpreting the Constitution and the declaration from a Christian perspective that would be as alien to the founders as the founders beliefs would have been to the elder fathers of church doctrine and law! And furthermore, these men who are revered by Conservatives for their unwavering devotion to their ideals, how come none of them ever even made a gesture towards even trying to establish a more “Christian Union”. Jefferson was President, so was Washington and Adams and Madison…None of these men made even the slightest nod towards theocracy or a theological interpretation of the document and government they themselves forged. Were they moral cowards then? Or is it more likely that they never intended for their ideas to be taken as an endorsement of Christian moral theory in government? I think we can all realize the true answer here.

We were indeed “created” equal in the minds of our founders, but not equal within the bosom of a Christian god. Equal in the sense that we all have within us as human beings the potential for good and ill, happiness and sadness, rashness and wisdom and we also all have the responsibility to protect and serve each other equals in a march towards greater prosperity, stability and enlightenment. There is not Christian god to be found within the Declaration or the Constitution because he was never there to begin with. To think otherwise is to grossly misunderstand, and underestimate, the intentions and the wisdom of the founders.

Atheism, Democracy, Feminism, Liberty, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

I Met a Misogynist Today

It can really throw you off balance when you run into the human personification of your ideological worst nightmare. I am still reeling from my encounter a few minutes ago. I was out running some errands, which included stopping at a shop downtown that I enjoy searching through. They have a lot of interesting things and also will buy some stuff off you if it is interesting enough. Well I was selling some old DVD’s when I struck up a conversation with the owner (something I try to force myself to do in order to get out of my autistic comfort zone). It started out friendly enough until I came to the subject of politics. I mentioned that I really did not care for Bush and he, to my surprise, agreed with me and declared he had voted for Kerry in ’04. I said I did as well (little white lie to keep the conversation going: I was 7 months shy of my 18th Birthday in 2004, but I would have voted for him) and thought that for once I had found someone over the age of 30 in this town who was not a Tea Party fool…and then it all fell apart.

I told the man that I reserved my vote for the person who I felt could best express my values and philosophical beliefs. I paused expecting my conversation partner to agree, and he did…To a degree. “I will vote for any man who think has the capacity to run the country well…and I do mean man. If you know what I mean.” He then stared intently into my face, waiting to see if he was in the presence of a fellow misogynist compatriot. I all but felt the white- heterosexual male privilege oozing from his pores and reaching out for a high five. I declined to meet him halfway.

“Umm…Well I am afraid I do not know what you mean.” I suddenly felt like I had walked into a meeting of Klan members.

“Well, I mean I will only vote for a man. Men are placed over women by God, and I don’t even want to think about the trouble our world would get into if a female were in control of things. The Bible tells us how things are supposed to be.”

At this point I could not even keep a friendly smile on my face. “Well I supported Hillary Clinton in 2008, and I think she would have made an amazing President. I still think she would. And anyway, I’m an atheist and don’t really buy into biblical morality.”

This seemed to take the man aback a bit. He was honestly expecting me to agree with him I think. He blinked a few times before responding. He seemed to be choosing his words carefully. “Yeah, well, yeah. I respect your different view (his vaguely disgusted expression told me that he obviously did not)…But that does not make right and wrong any less right and wrong. Man was placed as the head of woman for a reason.”

It was at this point that I almost broke out laughing, and I think I confused the poor schlub with the smile that spread across my face. There were a thousand snarky comments I had on the tip of my tongue, and I was ready willing and able to have a debate right there, but I knew it was futile given that he was a Christian and a Tea Party hack…and he was buying my shit and I really did need the gas money…So I just said “I guess we gotta agree to disagree. I personally think that things would be a ton better if women ran things for awhile” . After receiving a deathly stare in the place of a response I took my money and left. I broke out laughing as soon as left the shop though. It is one thing hearing Rick Santorum and Catholic bishops inveigle against the wiles of the women folk, but it was quite another to have to encounter it in real life…and 5 blocks from my apartment!

It was an eye opening experience indeed, and I think next time I visit his shop I might wear my “I’m a feminist” T-Shirt. Maybe we’ll have an interesting conversation about it.


Song of a Hedonist

Sing me a song of temptation

And I’ll dance like a Dionysian child

For if there’s a hint of elation

In your voice well then my spirit will go wild


Everything is partaken of freely

Though nothing is taken for granted

The aroma of salvation is deadly

But its dangerous reputation is vaunted


Tethered to the immortal credo

A tin-pot lie sold to us as the golden truth

Don’t the prophet’s realize what we do?

Theodicy is getting a bit long in the tooth


For once let us gain from our progress

Instead of fleeing from change in all forms

For faith is an infinite regress

That feeds upon long discredited norms


Religion is naught but a draught

Taken by the platonic to sooth their wavering consciences

Sobriety is what we have sought

So that we can finally enjoy our corporeal senses

Democracy, Liberty, News, Philosophy, Politics

10th For Tat

Not Gods but Men


Forgive me for the length of this post but I really think that the topic deserves an in depth discussion.

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution must be reexamined and reimagined if we wish to persist as a Democratic Republican nation concerned with Universal Individual and societal rights and decency.

When the Amendment was passed they were as a sop thrown to the Anti-Federalists and Southern Slaveholders who wanted to make sure that their “reserved” rights to hold human chattel as property were not abridged by a newly formed central government. This is an aspect of the “founding” that many people have forgotten or have chosen to forget: There was no universal agreement on what constituted a “right” or what authority should be central to the protection and proliferation of rights.

The Articles of Confederation proved to be an enormous and ill-conceived failure, at least as far as running a country and not a multi-national imperial conglomerate of independent nations. The myth that the founders created the Constitution  in order to cement State authority is just that: a myth. Reading the Constitution, and more importantly the letters and the pamphlets of the people who wrote the thing, reveals a document that nothing if not an indictment of state privilege over national unity and democracy.

From the banning of state administered religious tests for office to the assertion that it is the central government elected directly by the people who should be responsible for taxation and the general welfare of the nation as a whole. The preamble mentions “We The People”, and not “We the States and the people residing therein”. Conservatives claim that the founders were near infallible in their logic and statecraft, but if that is the case we must also accept that the founders knew what they were doing when they said what they did in the preamble and wrote what they wrote about the authority of the central government over the states. Steven L. Tyler, Professor of Political Science at Troy University, said this about the supposed “fear” the founders had of a central government in his article “The Founders and The Central Government” [ ]:

If, in fact, the founders feared a central government, why did they form one?  The very purpose of the Philadelphia convention of 1787 that produced the Constitution of 1789 was to create a central government that could actually govern the United States.  It was a purposive transfer of power from states to the central government.

This is the truth, especially considering the way the first 8 President’s ran the country: as moderate to extreme proponents of Central Government authority over the states. Their ideas and programs forged a United States that for the first 40 years of its existence was striving towards a more unified and cohesive nation, and no nation can exist as a conglomeration of semi-independent states. The very concept of some of our basic governmental systems shows us that the founders not only trusted Centralized authority but actively expanded and strengthened it. A Supreme Court to arbitrate disputes that cannot be solved at the state level, a three branch governmental system that explicitly does not include, let alone mention, state governments as part of the greater central authority, and a Bill of Rights that almost exclusively deals with issues that would have been decided on a state by state basis otherwise, therefor weakening the entire idea of National Republican Democracy. Even so called “Small-Government” minded politicians like Jefferson recognized that the states must be led from the center if the nation stood any chance of surviving as anything other than an international laughing stock. Taking action against the Barbary Pirates, the purchase of mass quantities of land by the federal government from the French, and the voyage of Lewis and Clark, these actions could not have ever been undertaken at a state level nor would the even have been likely to be proposed at all. For good or ill it must be acknowledged that if strong central authority was not exercised by the founding Presidents, the United States would not exist as an international force, or even as a Constitutional Republic in any more than a de jure sense.

Which brings me back to the Bill of Rights. It is obvious which Amendments prove to be the exception to the generally Republican and cohesive layout of basic individual and societal rights and liberties: The 9th and Tenth Amendments. It bears repeating that many of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention were Southern and/or Slave holders, and they saw it as an essential right to own and control their property, albeit human property. This was a genuine debate, and it certainly was not self-evident that slavery would not end up as an essential right. Of Course the 9th and 10th Amendments were not created just as a protection of slavery, but at the time the rights that people who hope to reserve often dealt with property or business concerns. And for much of the nation those two concerns could not be separated from slavery as an institution, and therefor as a right. Madison knew what he was doing when he introduced the 10th Amendment, but he did not know what sort of federalist monster he had unleashed upon future generations of an inevitably more populous and centralized nation.

The 9th Amendment is actually much less of a concern to me in particular. It deals with “the great residuum being the rights of the people”, as Madison put it, and not with particular concerns of state and local authority. It was more of a rhetorical admission that by enumerating rights the delegates were not eliminating the common law rights and privileges of a free people that necessarily exist within a civil society as envisioned within the context of The Social Contract. We must always remember that greatest movers and shakers of Constitutional law were Enlightenment Philosophers and theorists in the French philosophe tradition. This context does not lead one to see the founders as extreme reactionaries against central civil law. On the contrary, many of the founders and their supporters realized that there must be a central authority in order for rights as laid out in law to be possible and to be truly universal as a human political ideal. If in one state one possesses or lacks rights that one does or does not possess in the next state over, is that indeed a Republic or is it a corporation of regions who do not respect the primacy of enlightened human reason as a universal ethical construct? The Founders as a whole realized that there could be no guarantee of Rights and Liberties for individuals or for a society if the same rights and Liberties were extended to the same degree to the states. The Revolutionaries threw off a tyranny that did not represent their concerns or their rights. They were indeed fighting for the right to participate in a central government authority. They realized that no rights or privileges can be assured in isolation or in a piecemeal sense: there must be a central arbiter, and a central authority wherein the social contract can be executed, enforced, and yes, expanded.  And clearly any questions about the superiority of central authority as protector of the general rights of all citizens over the whims of the states was settle definitively by the Union Army and the American People in the Civil War.

The 10th Amendment is an anachronism that no longer has a place in a strongly centralized and proactive government with progressive and strong protections of civil rights. It is a sad fact of history that authority is needed in order that the good of individuals and society can be maintained, but it is a fact. The 10th Amendment, which started as an admission that the debate over the existence of the USA as a concept was far from over, has now become a catch-all tool for those who would claim that the states have overriding authority over the general will of the people as a nation. What is the United States if it is not united in its protection and recognition of basic human rights? And what is a Constitution of it cannot evolve and expand and be reimagined in order for an expanding and ever evolving and imaginative nation to endure? The Supreme Court (whom Conservatives seem to respect only when, against the Court’s own convention, it rules in favor of the restriction of central authority as a way of protecting Universal Rights) has made its opinion on the matter clear. In United States Vs. Sprague the court states that the Tenth Amendment “added nothing to the [Constitution] as originally ratified”, and really stated nothing more than a truism that is implied by the very Enlightenment nature of the Constitution and its authors: That Human Beings by the nature have rights and that government is enacted in order to protect and expand those rights. The Anti-Federalists would not be championing the 10th Amendment as a tool for every extreme libertarian or reactionary at the state level who tries to retard or stall the general progress of human decency and freedom in the name of some sort of State privilege.

Does a state have the right to have different conceptions of rights and laws than the country does? Or the county from the state? Or the city from the county? Or the household from the city? Where does the infinite regress of an applied 10th Amendment end? It ends with the end of the idea of Universal Human decency and rights as the purpose of government, and it negates the very revolution that the Enlightenment Era founders imagined and executed.

I will end with a quote from the ruling in the case of United States Vs. Darby. It is as relevant to the nature of our constitution now as it was then at the height of the Second World War:

The [10th] amendment states but a truism that all is retained which has not been surrendered. There is nothing in the history of its adoption to suggest that it was more than declaratory of the relationship between the national and state governments as it had been established by the Constitution before the amendment or that its purpose was other than to allay fears that the new national government might seek to exercise powers not granted, and that the states might not be able to exercise fully their reserved powers…..

Democracy, Entertainment, Liberty, News, Philosophy, Politics

Reactions to “Crips and Bloods: Made In America”

I am not going to attempt a thorough review or analysis of this remarkable documentary  right now. There is far to much I want to say and I think the subject deserves a well thought out and researched essay.

In the meantime here are my thoughts on the Independent Lens showcased documentary “Crips and Bloods: Made In America”. Some of these are tweets from while I was watching the documentary, others are just passing thoughts I’ve had since finishing it:

This documentary is amazing. “Crips & Bloods: Made in America” should be required viewing for every American voter. Especially conservatives 

“The pen is the new cotton field.” 1 in 4 black men will either go to jail, prison, or be put on parole or probation. God Damn.

Racism is the root of all the problems of poverty and violence in cities and suburbs. How can we ignore this fact?

“The gang member is the scapegoat [of our society]”–Quote from a Professor Interviewed for the film

And what do we see in the media? We see blacks being violent, blacks causing problems, white victims. The media is the tool of racism.

Take away all hope and chance at an education, tell people for 400 years they are less than human, provoke and abuse and attack these same people for generations and you are shocked when there is violent reaction on occasion?

So many people fail to remember that cancer like gang violence comes when a body (or a body politic) is allowed to go hungry and cold and scared.

The solutions are not easy…but they are clear. People need to stop seeing “different communities” and start seeing ONE community…And by one community I do not mean a raceless or perfect society…I mean a society that sees everyone as equally deserving of love and care

These gangs and all gangs regardless of nationality or color or religion are not made up of animals or sociopaths. They are made up of human beings, who fear and love and hate and have dreams and think

Man what a moving film. We have failed as a democracy and as a community. And we still refuse to see that the problem IS our way of life.


Well those are just my passing thoughts on the film as I watched it. I am sure I will revise them and add to them as I think about the film further. There is a lot to digest here, just like with history in general.

Atheism, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

Confessed Confusion

No this is not Newt Gingrich, but I could not resist using this Pope in a Wind Machine photo

Not a big fan of the Bible. Not a big fan of Christianity…at least not how the Christians choose to do it these days. But let’s pretend for a moment that I did give a messy bowel movement about both. Just for fun.

Every conservative evangelical voter out there will tell you that the Bible is infallible. Every last bit of it. For trues. But I have found that is not actually strictly speaking the case. The Bible is apparently only infallible when used to defend the truly infallible doctrine: gays are icky and they do icky things, Israel is the best thing to happen to the world since the creation of fire and the poor are poor because of their own laziness and the rich shall inherit the earth. The first two propositions have some backing in the thing: Israel indeed does get a lot of good mentions, and the Bible does not tend to have nice things to say about gay people. Especially from Saint Paul…then again not much gets a good word from Saint Paul. Guy needed to get out more. But as to the last idea, the stuff about the poor, not much is said that would back up their vitriol against them. I have checked. It was not fun. (in Jimmy Fallon voice) You’re Welcome.

It does say a lot about killing those who do not believe in your god. And in how shellfish has the potential to send you to a burning lake of fire. Oh, and a lot more incest then you would expect. But sadly no general condemnations of the poor or any reasons at all for why they are indeed poor. Ron Paul missed the deadline to get his particular thoughts on poverty  included in the Bible. Ron Paul’s Newsletter to the Corinthians…HA! That’s funny…

Guess what it does say about the poor and the powerless though? A lot! And it is all rather Pinko if you ask me…I mean look at this stuff! It is downright Obama level Communism:

“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys.” Luke 12:33

“For many and great are your sins. I know them all so well. You are the enemies of everything good; you take bribes; you refuse justice to the poor.” Amos 5:12

“If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land”.  Deuteronomy 15:7

“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”  Proverbs 21:13

“Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they’d begin the process of rising.” Newt 40:23

Oopsie! That last one was not from the Bible! That was just silly ol’ Newt Gingrich showing how he so so wishes that the USA would once more send its children to do hard labor instead of sending them to school for all that New York elite subway riding edjumacation they have been wasting their time with. The way conservatives quote people like Newt and Mitt “Banks are Feeling the Pain” Romney you would think that they were long lost Biblical Prophets. Maybe they are…Who am I to question the will of God? But until they are proven to be Prophets are messengers from Jesus, they had better start shutting up about the Bible hating poor people. Actually, poor people seem to be the only people or things that the Bible doesn’t hate with a vengeance. Have you seen what this book has to say about women? Some omnipotent entity needs to get into the dating scene or something…

This has been a bit of autistic blabbing and obsessing, brought to you by my genetic make-up.







Nerds Assemble!

Not an Accurate Portrayal of Me. Sort of.

Ok, just to prove that I do not exclusively think/talk/write about political and philosophical ideas that are so mind-numbingly serious that they would put Clint Eastwood into a coma…I am going to talk about two comic book flicks I am HUGELY LOOKING FORWARD TO!

For people who know me it is no secret that I was once a complete comic book FREAK. I used to collect comics, and I read them religiously. My favorite titles were “X-Men”, “Uncanny X-Men”, “Iron-Man” and of course nearly any “Batman” permutation. I no longer actively read new comics mostly because the major titles (with the exception of Batman on occasion) now suck monkey taint, to quote…I think it was St. Thomas Aquinas? Anyway, I no longer actively read or collect comics, but I still love the characters and the mythology behind them. And I also love (for the most part) the films that they spawn. They bring the comics I love to life in a way I once could only dream about. I get chills when I see the Joker attacking the Batman with a piece of 2×4, laughing like an idiot. I get to enjoy all the technology and the genuine coolness behind Tony Stark and his creation Iron Man. I can see what it would be like to have the ability to control all forms of metal, and the very magnetism of the Earth itself. And I can do all that by going to a theater or logging into a website (totally legal downloads of course 😉 ) ! Oh, and I want to BE Tony Stark.

And this coming summer I get to see potentially two of the best new comic films.

I have been obsessed with Christopher Nolan’s take on the Caped Crusader since his first film came out in ’05. To say that I enjoyed the second in the series, The Dark Knight, would be an understatement worthy of being carved into a golden plate, buried, and found centuries later by a con man from New York. Wait a minute…

Anyway. The third film in the Trilogy is coming out in July, and I am already looking for a way to get early tickets! I have plans to see the opening of this film at Navy Pier with my artistic partner in crime, budding director, and brilliant actor Tyler. We shall then gorge ourselves on Chicago foodstuffs and talk about the ramifications of what we just saw until we are blue in the face or dead. Bane. Selena Kyle. GARY OLDMAN!!! What is there not to like? And after seeing the leaked teaser trailer a few weeks ago I am about ready to renounce my atheism and become a convert to “The Church of Nolan”. So, I guess you could say that I am excited about the movie.

And then there is The Avengers. I have been seeing hints of this flick coming for years…The Hulk revival, Iron Man 2, the Introduction of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in the same, and now Captain America. Oh, and Jeremy Renner taking up archery or whatever. During that large sporting event we had a few Sunday’s ago I saw the first full length teaser for the film…And I about peed myself. I did not think I would get excited over the Avengers film. The comic only occasionally held my interest, and those were mostly back issues from the 70’s and 90’s. As far as story-telling and art go, The Avengers has kind of been the “Waluigi” of the comic hero book pantheon: entertaining, but a little bit uninspired and familiar. But THIS film…THIS story…I personally loved ALL of the re-imaginings of the Marvel Heroes. Especially Iron Man. Did I mention that I want to BE Tony Stark? As I was saying, this version of the Avengers looks like it is going to kick ass and take names. I was even wowed by the special effects shown in the TRAILER for the movie. And I was already laughing at all the in-jokes and nerding out about the references to the Marvel Universe. So while this film may be more of a guilty pleasure for me compared the “inevitably-going-to-be=cinematic-genius”-ness of Nolan’s film, I am really looking forward to seeing this f**ker in the theaters. I may even go see it in 3-D. Or not. (I am so sorry for my moment of weakness, Roger Ebert)

That is all. Just a moment of Nerd. Back to the Constitution and Expressionist Painters and such.

DISCLAIMER: Of course all names, concepts, titles, and themes of the Heroes mentioned and their respective attributes are totally and UTTERLY IN PERPETUITY SO HELP ME JESUS the property of their respective copyright holders, corporations and artists (This means you Marvel and DC comics), and the films are the same (This means you big Hollywood studios) . YOU OWN THIS S*IT! I am just bowing down in awe of your collective amazingness…that is all…please don’t sue me… :p