A Couple Of Noteworthy Videos for Paleos: Whole Foods and Religion

So what first, the funny or the serious? Coin toss? How about that the funny is shorter and relates to paleo a bit more, and if I might suggest, makes a bit fun of the Whole Foods fetish, and especially so for the super environmentally conscious.

I give you “Whole Foods Parking Lot.” It’s gettin’ real. Laf.

Now on to those who take evolution seriously top to bottom, to include neolithic power structures, including religious ones — having exploited the natural trepidation of a thinking being over the realization of death.

Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, David Wolpe and Bradley Artson debate the fantasy of an afterlife. I’d have said “Mother Goose fantasy,” but that’s just me. Oh, wait, they didn’t even use the word fantasy. Never mind.

I do hold rabbis and intellectual catholic priests in far higher esteem than I do the ignorant charlatans you might get in a debate here, such as some pulpit pounding Baptist preacher who is not even smart enough to actually understand that metaphor is more powerful than the literal in terms of inspiring rational and healthy human behavior.

While this isn’t entirely apropos to what I just claimed, it is nonetheless something I wrote yesterday for my book and serves to illustrate some of the utter absurdity I encountered from the authoritarian religious realm.

The Board Room, Tennessee Temple University: some Saturday morning, spring, 1980

  “Dr.” Lee Roberson, founder, head pastor, shepherd of the flock, and best dressed sat at the head of the table in his dark blue pinstripe, double-breasted suit and asked me to explain myself.
  “We went to LuLu Falls, in the afternoon.”
  “Did you check into the chapel, for services?” he asked, with a piercing look. He’d done this before.
  “Yes, I did, and then left right away.”
  “And you went to LuLu?”
  “And what did you find?” he asked, and as with all his questions, knowing the answer already.
  “They tossed me a beer they’d brought along.”
  “Did you bring anything for them?” he asked.
  “Beef jerky.”
  “No alcohol?”
  “No; none.”
  “Because I didn’t know about the alcohol.”
  “And did you drink it?”
  “So, they brought it along, and you yielded to the temptation; is that correct?”
  In their view this was essential. My culpability was that of an average sinner tempted by all the things that serve to undermine the authority and concentrated power of those who make being a prison guard in that realm their life’s work.
  After, “Dr.” Dennis Michelson (these Bible schools incestuously bestow honorary doctorates upon each other to prop up the aura and schtick of authority never seriously questioned) speaks up. “We just want our son to be right,” Michelson tells Roberson, relaying the essentials of a conversation he’d had with my mother a day or so after he woke me from a sound sleep at 2am of the night in question. I didn’t take substantial account of the gross insanity I was being subjected to at the time, because I was largely ignorant and, in those days, you did not learn from any varied collection of history and philosophy books. You learned from only one book.
  Squinting to the fluorescent lights from the massive ceiling unit, 2am: “Yes, sir, I’m Richard Nikoley.”
  “Can you come with me?”
  And down we went, to the stairwell at the end of the hall.
  “Were you out at LuLu Falls this afternoon?”
  “And did you bring a cache of booze?”
  “Don’t jive me, boy!” as he hovers over me and gets in my face, for maximum intimidation. Hi, “Dr.” Micheleson.
  He ran me up, over, down and about, from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. In the end I confessed to the crime. It had been either guys I’d been to the falls with before, or friends who knew my love of the place. It was an easy decision for anyone who knew the ins & outs of a supposed college life: there were no classes this week, only boring indoctrination — something they call a “revival” — and it spans a week.
  We thought we’d not asked for much. We decided to take a day. And they decided to give us hell.

So there you go. You can like and tweet the post, if you like. I won’t mind.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Rafael on June 14, 2011 at 10:51

    woow richard you have done it again. turned a food blog into a discussion about religion. great

    • Jim Arkus on June 14, 2011 at 11:27

      I love these kinds of posts. I was disappointed he never finished those posts from awhile ago where he talked about the fear of death, etc..

  2. Grok on June 14, 2011 at 00:23

    LMAO when I watched that music video from Melissa’s tweet earlier. Too funny.

  3. Steve Macey on June 14, 2011 at 04:46

    I suppose I should count myself lucky I was brought up in a household that was half lapsed catholic, the other half assed Anglican. I still ended up in a religious youth group with the most effeminate, emasculated male role models you could ever imagine. Not a good environment for an adolescent male in need of some strong male role models / mentors. Should have been illegal to do that…..

    • Dave, RN on June 14, 2011 at 10:11

      Read “Why Men Hate To Go to Church”.

      • Steve Macey on June 15, 2011 at 04:43

        Hmmmm, No.

  4. Justin on June 14, 2011 at 04:51

    Can’t watch the video because YouTube is blocked in China (Booo!) but I let out an audible chuckle at, “Don’t jive me, boy!”, which slowly became a nice belly laugh. Thanks for that.

  5. Alex on June 14, 2011 at 05:50

    I than God for my atheist upbringing.

    • Natasha on June 14, 2011 at 18:19

      I was brought up in commie Russia where atheism was perverted to a point to be presented as a religion, where the God-head was the almighty state… Nasty stuff, but parents and grandparents avoided it by just keeping me out of public school as long as it was safe for all involved, then teaching me to think for myself, and take nobody’s statements for granted. Being a math geek helped, because you naturally overthink things when being one — and want proof where some claim none is needed. As to the diet… I’ve been eating like this since I was born… Russians tend to prefer real foods, culturally… When I came here I was told I was wrong, as far as my diet went… I did not believe it, mainly because the stuff that was supposedly “goodforme” tasted like shite and had no ingredient I had ever seen before or could pronounce. Atheism and skepticism are survival tools… If you have these, you can thrive pretty much anywhere…

      • Richard Nikoley on June 14, 2011 at 18:35

        Yep, Natasha, they substituted one ultimate authority for another, one opiate for another. In the long scheme of things, I guess I’d have to take the mystical, unreal ultimate authority over the very real one.

        Some days I’m amazed at how really little we’ve evolved. Still driven by fear of the unknown as always, it just manifests differently.

  6. Avalanche on June 14, 2011 at 05:56

    As a woman, and intending no particular offense to religious males (but not having too much care if I do {shrug}), I find in myself nothing but disgust and dismay at the …. crawling subservience …. religions seem to demand (and work very hard to inculcate in the young) from the males; and the universal guilt and self-directed disgust they inculcate in the females unfortunate enough to be born into that milieu… The picture that keeps coming to mind when I think of religious males, is a man (male) I once saw, folded over in his chair with his forehead in one hand, praying for… what? acceptance? deliverance? acceptability? For someone ELSE to take over?!

    I see very little of masculinity in what religion would create in males. “Turn the other cheek” is a slave’s choice. Making a virtue out of slavery is a slave’s choice. The “moral superiority of the weak” is a slave’s choice. Conversion by the sword is an illiterate brute’s choice. The preference for non-science, the deathgrip on beliefs that require turning away from knowledge is the slave’s choice (or the intentional choice of the head slave, forced on lesser slaves).

    Where is Nietzsche’s Superior Man — where is the aristocrat who is gentle and protective with his own and violent when necessary with outsiders? Where is the man who discards the surrender, the subservience, the submissionto religion and takes up the burdens of adult manhood?

    Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don’t. {sigh}

    • zach on June 14, 2011 at 07:16

      My experience has been the exact opposite within the presbyterian church. It seems that the males within this institution are much more masculine than those without, in general. Especially younger generations.

      “I see very little of masculinity in what religion would create in males. “Turn the other cheek” is a slave’s choice.”

      That seems to be the majority report these days, yet more and more people seem both vicious and cowardly simultaneously. Religion is out, but slavish behavior is in. Quite the opposite of your assertion. The last time I was at the airport, people were going through naked body scanners. Men, even if they didn’t look to be the church going type, consented to having fat people in blue uniforms stick their hands down their pants. I left fuming and got a rental car.

      • Joe Branca on June 14, 2011 at 11:41

        “My experience has been the exact opposite within the presbyterian church. It seems that the males within this institution are much more masculine than those without, in general. Especially younger generations.”

        As a former evangelical and now confessional Presbyterian, in my experience I’d say that’s because American evangelicalism embraced Romanticism in its notions of faith and spirituality, whereas traditional Protestantism (pre-revivialistic) in general did not. The Jesus-is-my-boyfriend sentiment and come-fly-with-me praise songs may very well likely lower testosterone over long term exposure.

      • Brian Scott on June 14, 2011 at 13:02

        Perhaps it’s because I’m unjustifiably conflating this evangelism with fundamentalism, but given the fundamentalist apprehension of gender roles outside of traditional ones, to hear of this tendency towards “unmasculinity” in Christianity is startling.

      • Avalanche on June 17, 2011 at 18:39

        Vicious and cowardly IS slave morality! The ‘fear-biter’ dog — who isn’t attacking in protection of “his own,” but is losing his composure and biting because he’s afraid!

        We may define masculine differently. (And/Or my experience of religion may differ from yours.) So much of religion that I have seen has been about blunting masculinity, about making men soft and gentle and accepting, not just to “their own” but to anyone and everyone (“we’re all god’s children” — as if that means all those “children” have to live in our house, and we’re not just morally but financially and educationally and medically and etc. responsible for all of them) — no matter the threat they represent to each man’s family. (Sheesh — my own brother-in-law had stated categorically that he would never use a gun in protection his own son, “because he might hit an innocent.” He would allow his own son to suffer a violent assault and would fail to protect the boy on behalf of someone he does not even know. That’s not moral, it’s unbelievable cowardice!)

        However, I’d also ask: is it (individual) cowardice to submit to the armed control of a service (flying) that’s necessary for business, or one more way in which the lack of a willingness (an ability?) to band together in a fighting force to control our OWN govt, and stop interfering with other men’s govts shows up?

    • Richard Nikoley on June 14, 2011 at 09:09


      Nice comment. I see Randian undertones. :)

      • Avalanche on June 17, 2011 at 19:06

        Thanks but oh Richard, I’ve gone way past Rand. She had barely started moving in the correct direction (for all she stepped past the common understanding) — and she, too, seemed a proponent of individualism. A “pack” of individuals cannot overcome an organized force (guerrilla warfare not withstanding!). Nietzsche (but not as he is misunderstood in modern academe because he’s unacceptable to their ideology!) teaches more accurately of the need for, yes of course a government (which breaks with libertarianism), but a government of your OWN — not a govt created and run by outsiders with outside loyalties and goals. We as those unorganized individuals (sharing a paleo aspect) need to create our own tribes, to band together and establish our own versions of “society” — which may or may not be able to make larger change in the society around us. (And so, I despair. I doubt a nutritional viewpoint can form a sufficient underpinning fir tribal cohesion.) (If I were at all religious, I’d pray I’m wrong. {eye roll})

      • Richard Nikoley on June 17, 2011 at 23:25

        “I’ve gone way past Rand”

        Yea, took me 2-3 years, and that was early 90s. I do however hold he epistemology in pretty high esteem, as well as her great perspective of man as a heroic being and that was what I was mainly seeing in your comment. It is very, very rare to see someone argue against self debasement on _moral_ grounds.

      • Avalanche on June 19, 2011 at 15:07

        Man ought to be a heroic being! (Alas that “modern” women have been taught to degrade and disparage them at every turn!) You accurately see my respect for (real) men in my comment. I am SOOOOO lucky that I married a heroic man — one who merges the virtues of a complete willingness and preparedness to commit violence in my defense with a gentleness and kindness towards women and children, animals and his possessions; and one, amazingly, who is smarter than anyone I have ever met before (including myself!). (I once WAS a “modern” woman — I’m all better now! {wink})

        I was just listening (podcast) to two men discussing how men need to bring a loving-kindness not just to their own family but to every human being, and how that will raise the energy of the planet and there will be peace… And then they proclaimed how, in their ‘men’s group’ they are sometimes “fierce” with each other, calling each other on their BS… and I thought, again with dismay: drop a couple of these “fierce” men into South Central and see how their “fierceness” works out!!

        Honor lies in doing the right thing even when no one is watching! Submitting to the overwhelming power of an armed and insane govt is *honorable* because you cannot have any chance of effecting any kind of change if you throw yourself on their swords to no purpose! (We in the know are always cognizant that we live ‘behind enemy lines’ and so we do not do stupid things, like actively protest the TSA in the airport!) Martyrdom is sometimes, but OH-so-rarely appropriate. More often, it’s just impatience and a desire to do anything — whether or not it has any useful effect.

    • Joe Branca on June 14, 2011 at 11:53

      great is the mystery of the interior life of others to those who judge appearances

  7. el-bo on June 14, 2011 at 07:02


  8. rob on June 14, 2011 at 08:17

    re turn the other cheek

    A literal interpretation of the passages, in which the command refers specifically to a manual strike against the side of a person’s face, can be supported by reference to historical and other factors.[2] At the time of Jesus, striking someone deemed to be of a lower class with the back of the hand was used to assert authority and dominance.[3] If the persecuted person “turned the other cheek,” the discipliner was faced with a dilemma. The left hand was used for unclean purposes, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed.[4] The other alternative would be a slap with the open hand as a challenge or to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality. Thus, by turning the other cheek the persecuted was in effect demanding equality.


    • Avalanche on June 17, 2011 at 19:08

      Funny how that’s NOT what the churches seem to teach.

  9. Liz on June 14, 2011 at 12:37

    The thing I love about Hitchens is the way he keeps his arguments fresh. It seems that almost every time I see/hear him, he makes a new point or some imaginative illustration, which keeps things interesting.

    The Whole Foods video is great. I lived in Pittsburgh for a short time, and that Whole Foods parking lot is definitely an experience!

  10. Brian Scott on June 14, 2011 at 13:05

    Richard, in regards to the use of the metaphor as a powerful tool, have you ever read Eric S. Raymond’s “Dancing with the gods”? (http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/dancing.html)

    It honestly changed the way I viewed religion. It was a sorely needed antidote to the prevalence of literal-minded fundamentalism I see present today.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 14, 2011 at 14:32

      Brian, nope, haven’t read it but am generally familiar with the power of myth and metaphor.

  11. Jim on June 14, 2011 at 14:25

    Richard I have a friend that describes himself as a recovering Catholic………I think I understand him now!

    The book should be interesting….to say the least


  12. Natasha on June 14, 2011 at 18:24

    You know, I think there is a connection between how you eat, how you live and how you view yourself , e.g. “a human animal” vs. “god’s slave” (I hate that expression, translated directly from some Russian Orthodox sermons)….

    • Avalanche on June 17, 2011 at 19:19

      LOVE that! There is a difference, and it is my fondest hope that paleo living will lead more people to human animal status, and away from a religious concept on themselves as god’s slaves! Now, if any want to go towards worshiping Ares/Mars, or Odin and Tyr, or Guan Yu, or Huitzilopochtli, or Hachiman — manly gods who rewarded manly behavior — I could applaud that! But a god who rewards submission and meekness? {shudder} How does a true man, a real man, an ubermesch, find any desire in himself to go there?!

  13. Natasha on June 14, 2011 at 19:31

    Recovering Russian Orthodox, here… Give me knowledge and facts, and informed opinions… I’ll sort it all out on my own! :)

  14. Alex Good on June 14, 2011 at 20:57

    The thing about religion is in order to have faith you can’t know, so those who “know” that god exists don’t have faith in him.

    • el-bo on June 14, 2011 at 23:57

      >>”The thing about religion is in order to have faith you can’t know, so those who “know” that god exists don’t have faith in him.”


      douglas adams on ‘babel fish’ :

      “Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:
      “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
      “But,” says Man, “The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”
      “Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanished in a puff of logic.
      “Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.”

  15. Oingo Boingo on June 14, 2011 at 22:08

    Rather odd that none of the 1st three at least–Hitchens bores me to tears–mentioned the burgeoning field of NDE studies. If you want to find out if there is an afterlife and if so what it’s “like,” talk to people who claim to have actually died, read their accounts (examples: http://aleroy.com/board00.htm ), etc. Interview them with a skeptical eye, as I believe P. M. H. Atwater and Pim Lommel, among others, do, but skip the presumptuous “we can’t possibly know” blather.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 14, 2011 at 22:19

      Watch the rest of the debate, moron, at the link provided in the video.

      Hitchens demolishes it and the rabbis have to concede.


      If you want to post here, do your homework and don’t come off as as an ignorant fuck.

      And lose the fucking NAMBLA link next time you post, you fucking pervert. What, a real women or a real man is too much for you to handle, pathetic pussy? You have to dominate kids?

      • Kevin Alexander on June 20, 2011 at 10:20

        He’s probably posting from the Vatican…

  16. Gene on June 14, 2011 at 22:54

    Nambla? You sick fuck.

  17. Gabe on June 15, 2011 at 00:03

    I was raised Jewish lite, and don’t observe or believe much of anything these days, but I’ve always enjoyed the skeptical spirit that seems to run through much of Jewish thought. I remember once consulting an Orthodox rabbi about the very topic in this video, and what struck me, more than the actual content of his answer, was the lack of preaching, dramatics, or veiled threats. He told me, in essence, “This is the classical Jewish position, you don’t have to accept it, it may be wrong, but here it is.”

  18. el-bo on June 15, 2011 at 05:18

    >>”the skeptical spirit that seems to run through much of Jewish though”

    one of the factors in me losing what little faith i had, early enough that i could have saved my parents the expense of my barmitzvah, but far too late for my poor foreskin…CUUUUUU*TS !!!!!

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