Religion


Not sure why I’ve got an urge to blog and photograph religious topics lately, but here comes another one.

Bobble Head Jesus, on dark background

Umm, actually I meant here’s another blog post, but the photo will do nicely as well.

Reading up more on The Satanic Verses controversy (once I was done ogling Olivia Wilde, that is), I came to the conclusion that I am blasphemy. No, that’s not a typo, nor is it a form of strange English spoken by a Russian dude. I simply mean that my existence is blasphemy. I am an atheist, and by simply being an atheist I am saying that the Christians, Jews, Muslims, Scientologists and Pastafarians are off their rocker and that their imaginary friends don’t actually exist. So, quite literally, I am blasphemy.

For instance, Massachusetts still has on its books this horrid throwback to the Dark Ages:

PART IV. CRIMES, PUNISHMENTS AND PROCEEDINGSIN CRIMINAL CASES

TITLE I. CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS

CHAPTER 272. CRIMES AGAINST CHASTITY, MORALITY, DECENCY AND GOOD ORDER

Chapter 272: Section 36. Blasphemy

Section 36. Whoever wilfully [sic] blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.

Of course, that law is un-enforceable in the United States, but it’s still something to consider that my mere existence is described as being punishable by jail time and a fine.

And of course Massachusetts is not the only place in the world that has this BS, as this helpful page illustrates. Oh shit, I wanted to visit the pyramids, but 6 months to 5 years in prison is sort of a deterrent. Well, I guess I’ll just have to settle for that pyramid-shaped flashlight in Vegas.

Currently listening to: Bon Jovi.

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Threats for breaking Morocco fast
A Moroccan man campaigning to change the law banning eating in public during the Muslim Ramadan fast says he has received 100 death threats this week.
Radi Omar denied that his group was anti-Islam. “We are in favour of individual freedom,” he told the BBC.

Under Moroccan law, eating in public during the hours of daylight, when Muslims are supposed to observe a fast, can lead to a fine and up to six months in prison.

Man… I’d complain that it’s wrong for a government to support a specific religion and “help” its followers adhere to their beliefs (by throwing them in jail), but same shit is being pulled by the US government as well.

Now, this may sound judgemental and all, but what is it with Islamic countries (Morocco is a self-described Islamic state) finding it necessary to police and enforce Islam? Where’s the sense of personal responsibility? If I eat at the wrong time and will be punished by god, what weight does (should?) any mortal punishment hold? And what about all the non-Muslims? But then again, I would ask that of multiple situations:

  • Eating in public – I don’t believe in your god, why can’t I eat?
  • Burqa – IIRC, wearing a burqa is required by law in some countries, even if the woman in question is not Muslim. Up until 2002, US servicewomen in Saudi Arabia had to wear a burqa when in public.
  • Portrayal of Muhammad – touchy subject, but as long as the portrayal is non-offensive, why should non-Muslims be barred from it? Qur’an condemns idolatry, but this once again is an issue for Muslims: if you’re Muslim and you’re worshiping an image of the prophet, you’re screwed. On the other hand, if you’re not Muslim, why can’t you look at an image of Muhammad?

Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things; One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.

Butch Hancock

Charles Darwin film ‘too controversial for religious America’

A British film about Charles Darwin has failed to find a US distributor because his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences, according to its producer.

Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin’s “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

creation_1479638c

Holy fuck. If the rest of the world didn’t think Americans were out their minds, then this – blocking a film because it deals with a historical figure who described one of the most influential scientific theories – will not help in the least. I’m curious as to the exact reasons that the Religious Right is opposed to this movie: if your faith can be shaken by 120 minutes of cute Paul Bettany and his hot wife Jennifer Connelly (playing Darwin and wife Emma, respectively), then maybe that says more about your faith than it does about the movie. And if evolution to you is as much a fairy tale as the Bible is to me, well then, you can just look at the film as a story of a confused and troubled man suffering from the death of his daughter. Big whoop.

This debacle brings to mind a somewhat related bit of controversy that recently swept the nation: the President’s speech to school-children. Now, that is old news, but I’d still like to comment on it. Unlike some people, I was perfectly fine with parents keeping their kids home, telling them not to listen to the Big Bad President or being prepared with a rebuttal after the speech was made. I actually think that that was a very good thing to happen. America’s Right helped emphasize a point I’ve been making for years, and that is of personal responsibility: if you don’t want your kids brainwashed by MTV, the liberal media, evolution-spewing “science” teachers, violent movies or whatever, stand up and ACT LIKE A PARENT. Which is what the Right finally did. I’m somewhat disappointed that they would pick this time to do it, but that’s their choice. It’s actually good parenting to talk to your children, find out what they were taught in school that day and reconcile that new-found knowledge with whatever baseline you happen to adhere to. Maybe the Religious Right should take the same stance with Creation: let your kids watch it, then at home explain that it was all horse-shit, non-sense and contained about as much truth as a Harry Potter flick.

Just three post-cards to examine today.

liam_smaller

Well, if you’re gonna believe in God, might as well believe in one who sounds like freaking Liam Neeson. Personally, I might have also tried Sean Connery, James Mason or Jeremy Irons, but yeah, it essentially has to be someone with a British-like accent. Ooh, I almost forgot: Alan Rickman.

manasgirl_smaller

OK, that’s just… fucked up. I’ve heard of lots of messed up things that happen to kids, and this mind-fuck is seriously weird. I’ve got no idea why they did this (and trust me, I’ve been contemplating theories since last night), but I’d just like to slap this guy’s parents around like two pinatas.

yourehired_smaller

A popular motif, where one of the partners is going to leave just as soon as the kids are gone, all someone cheats, or they’re ready for it economically. I wish them the best of luck, of course. Whatever it takes to be happy, right?

Currently listening to: Led Zepellin‘s “Stairway to Heaven“, “Whole Lotta Love” and “What Is And What Should Never Be” and of course Pink Floyd:

While biking, I generally listen to stand-up. It’s more interesting than music or just plain silence. And I’ve gotta say, aside from the Blue Collar Comedy Tour folks, I have yet to hear a comic come even close to being conservative or having conservative material in their show.

A lot of comics do liberal bits, because they’re just so damn simple. It’s very easy to appeal to San Francisco crowds with the usual litanies about Republicans being anti-gay while at the same time being caught in gay scandals, or with classic Bush-bashings.

Today I listened to two albums by Margaret Cho. Some good stuff there, but that much political commentary really made me realize that there really aren’t a lot of conservative comics. Probably the same reason that movies and TV shows are generally about Democrats: it’s hard to cheer for a President who’s pushing for oil drilling in Alaska, as opposed to working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (“The American President”).

Honestly, I’m not quite sure how politically right-wing material can be made funny. It’s one thing for Carlin to pull this left-leaning gem out, “‘Have you ever noticed that all those women who are against abortion are the ones you wouldn’t want to fuck anyway?”, but  making Ann Coulter funny is something else.

On second thought… Maybe Ann Coulter can be a successful comic. Just tell people that everything she says is an act, that no one in their right mind would be such an intolerant and hate-filled bitch. See, Coulter is just a female version of Colbert. Hell, the first article I read by her, I assumed it was all satire. I didn’t think anyone could seriously say any of that shit. Boy, that was a rude awakening.

Well, enough about that. Here’s a cute Carlin bit about rights:


email

Holy fuck! I seriously hope the these rules (try to read whatever isn’t obscured by the message) are not part of some corporate contract. I think that this is a list of rules at a church, for people working there. I certainly wish that’s the case. Though that’s still a lesser-evil stance. The fact that any organization has specific rules about “[riding] alone in a vehicle with a member of the opposite sex” is unsettling.

catholic

The comment under the image said:

I understand how hard it is to try to live your faith in a world where no one seems to believe the same things as you – be strong! I’m praying for you.

Just a few thoughts on this one, in addition to a bit of a ramble.

First, if you’ve found something that makes you happy, like Catholicism, good for you.

Second, it is regrettable that we must hide our true selves, for any reason.

Third, to the commenter, the problem here is not that others don’t believe in the same thing (this is not necessary!), but that believing in something different is frowned upon, or worse.

 

I’m sure everyone finds themselves in situations where pure personal honesty will be detrimental. I keep my beliefs to myself around certain people, mainly because it makes life simple and avoids un-necessary conflict. There are certain coworkers who don’t know that I’m an atheist. Most don’t know about this blog. The reason for it is that this makes life easier. Two of my coworkers (very brilliant people for whom I have a great deal of respect) are particularly religious, so I tend to keep religious discussion out of our non-work dealings. Others… well, they know exactly how opinionated I am on the subject of beliefs, faith and the “pointlessness” of life. (Though even in that case, there are overlaps, where not all people are privy to everything I think.)

Does this make me a hypocrite? Am I a sometimes-closeted atheist? Certainly. But it makes life easier, and so I go on with the charade.

Above I mentioned that it is regrettable that we must hide our true selves. In some cases, in certain parts of the world, the truth about our beliefs (or sexual orientation or political views or whatever) can be harmful and even deadly to ourselves or our loved ones. (Have you heard about one of the most popular extreme sports in Russia? Political humor.) This is quite different, though, from the choice that most of us make to hide ourselves. I can tell every person I know what I think about organized religion, Republicans and sexual repression (or expression), but this would make my life more difficult.

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