webofevil: (all hail)
Lord Dear sternly informs the House that he wants parents to be able to withdraw their children from lessons where same-sex marriage is being endorsed, or practised, or where bawdy parodies of traditional marriage are being filmed, or whatever the hell shenanigans these people think are going to go on once the Bill is passed. Anyway, he seems blithely unaware that parents can and do already yank their children out of lessons for any old nonsense. Fifteen years ago my mother was informed frostily by a parent that she was withdrawing her daughter from her GCSE English classes. "Why? It's her exam year!" said my mum incredulously. "Macbeth," replied the Parent-Who-Clearly-My-Lords-Knew-What-Was-Best-For-Her-Child. "It's got witches in it."
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Potential future Tory leader and post-Boris Prime Minister Michael Gove (oh yes, the next 10 years is just going to be a cascade of competence) continues to bear the brunt of criticism and scorn for his mission to spread the Gospel to Britain's schools, but he is imperturbable—he understands better than anyone how neatly the work of the Lord dovetails with the aggrandisement of Michael Gove.

The latest to ping slings and arrows his way are the “disability bullies”, as the right wing has definitively identified anyone with an impairment or a special need, who are pointing out that paper Bibles are no good to children with visual impairments or dexterity problems, and that the Education Secretary has made no allowance for this or even mention of it. As a man of exquisite faith, though, Gove knows intimately something that Guardian-reading disabled-lovers never will—the eternal Word of the Lord:
For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,
Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
No man that hath a blemish... shall come nigh... unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries...

Leviticus 21:18-21, 23
You may have erroneously thought that the coalition's drive to stamp out tolerance for disabilities, special needs and health impairments was based purely on the witless prejudices of privilege, but in fact Iain Duncan Smith is right after all: they are doing God's work. With that in mind, if being ignored by the Education Secretary is all that special-needs kids have to kvetch about, they're doing pretty well. They should make the most of that exalted state while it lasts.
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Cardinal Keith O'Brien is the latest senior churchman recently to rail against the legalisation of gay marriage, calling the plans “madness” and accusing the government of trying to “redefine reality”. Leaving aside the reality or madness of the cardinal's own chosen beliefs (virgin birth, transubstantiation, mandatory celibacy has no adverse consequences etc), he and his fellow protestors such as the Archbishop of York are following in an ancient clerical tradition of admonishing and scorning their errant flock, and as they become shriller and more strident over the next few months it's worth placing them in their proper context:
Eminent Victorians ... backed the idea [of an underground railway], though there were also voices ranged against such godlessness. At an open-air meeting in Smithfield, a preacher called Dr Cuming warned, “The forthcoming end of the world would be hastened by the construction of underground railways burrowing into the internal regions and thereby disturbing the devil”.

Stephen Smith, Underground London
See also: this.
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A round-up of things I have learnt recently:

In the confusing array of obscure Muslim sects, the Druzes were among the most obscure. They were a schism of a schism of a schism. Their roots led back to Shi’ite Islam, but the tie was tenuous. So secretive was the Druze religion that even most Druzes didn’t know the details of its teachings. Women and children were told almost nothing. Of the men, only about 10 per cent, al-uqal (the initiated) were allowed to study the ancient manuscripts. The rest, al-juhal (the ignorant, were not even expected to pray.

To say that the religion was obscure was no slight. The Druzes themselves admitted as much. The Druze Faith by Dr Sami Makarem, a Druze professor at the American University of Beirut, was on of the only books ever produced with the blessing of the religious authorities that provided a ray of enlightenment for the ignorant ones. It summed up the religion this way: “Druzism is an esoteric faith. To understand it one needs to be acquainted with Arabic esoteric terminology and with the way esoteric beliefs were written. The latter include deliberate disarrangement of arguments, brevity, and the introduction of trivial subjects while discussing issues of utmost importance.” A real incentive to delay further.

Lawrence Pintak, Seeds of Hate

EDIT: Obviously the Druze still exist now. Lawrence is setting the scene in 1982.

An Easter tradition called “strike the Jew”, whereby members of the Toulouse Jewish community would be batted around a public square by Christians, was ended in the middle of the twelfth century, after hefty payments had been made to count and capitouls. The clergy protested, but the ban held.

Stephen O’Shea, The Perfect Heresy

The former chief mufti, Shaikh Abdullah bin Baz... was a hugely influential figure in the [Saudi] kingdom. In 1982 he won recognition of the King Faisal award for international services to Islam. The same year he published a book entitled The Motion of the Sun and Moon, and the Stationarity of the Earth which held to the pre-Copernican, geocentric cosmology according to which earth is the centre of the universe and the sun moves around it. The cosmology is consistent with Quranic references to the “seven heavens” which modern scholars would see as referring to the Ptolemaic cosmology that held sway before the discoveries of Kepler, Copernicus and Galileo...

In an earlier article the venerable shaikh had threatened all who challenged his pre-Copernican views with a fatwa of takfir, pronouncing them infidels. He did not repeat this fatwa in his 1982 book, which was just as well, as it would have anathematized Prince Sultan bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, the son of the mayor of Riyadh and grandson of the kingdom’s founder. Prince Sultan is the Muslim world’s only officially certified astronaut. “Carried aloft in NASA’s space shuttle, [he] could certainly have commented on the Shaikh’s thesis if he had not been preoccupied with the urgent task of determining the direction of [Mecca] for his prayers.”

Malise Ruthven, A Fury for God

The only clear guiding principle [of Hinduism] is ambiguity. If there is a central verse in Hinduism's most important text, the Rig Veda, it is the Creation Hymn. It reads, in part,
Who really knows, and who can swear,
How creation came, when or where!
Even gods came after creation's day,
Who really knows, who can truly say
When and how did creation start?
Did He do it? Or did He not?
Only He, up there, knows, maybe;
Or perhaps not even He.
Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World
webofevil: (*gulp*)


All right. Things are calming down. I know we’ve got Ireland to contend with, but give them a couple of decades of poverty and they’ll likely come around. The important thing is that we’ve got a lid on this thing. We’ve removed the priests who were guilty of abuse, we’ve apologised and our own people are in place to safeguard children in congregations. Yes, I think we’ve got this covered. Now all we need is time.


Your newspapers, Excellency.


Oh, for fuck’s sake!


A child protection official for the Catholic Church has been caught with 4,000 pictures of child porn. Father-of-four Christopher Jarvis was arrested after uploading pictures of children being abused to a website.

Married Jarvis, 49, a former social worker, was employed by the church following sex scandals about pervert priests. His job was to monitor church groups to ensure paedophiles did not gain access to children in the church’s congregations. But he was caught by police in March with more than 4,000 child porn images on his home computer and his work laptop. [Mirror]
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I’m confused: we’re meant to hold Cherie Blair in contempt for having worn a magical amulet to ward off negative spirits, but at the same time we’re generally expected to respect her husband for getting his military advice from The Bumper Book of Middle Eastern Myths?

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“‘Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes,’ Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair. ‘What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?’ Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon last week. ‘There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes.’

This is exactly the sort of behaviour we’re talking about.

“Seismologists have warned for at least two decades that it is likely the sprawling capital will be struck by a catastrophic quake in the near future. Some experts have even suggested Iran should move its capital to a less seismically active location. Tehran straddles scores of fault lines, including one more than 50 miles long, though it has not suffered a major quake since 1830.

“The welfare minister, Sadeq Mahsooli, said prayers and pleas for forgiveness were the best ‘formulae to repel earthquakes. We cannot invent a system that prevents earthquakes, but God has created this system and that is to avoid sins, to pray, to seek forgiveness, pay alms and self-sacrifice,’ Mahsooli said.” [Guardian]

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So far, in defence of the Vatican, Catholic bishops have blamed the torrent of recent revelations on the liberal media, Jews and gays, while this retired bishop reckons it’s all down to the Masons (and finds time to excuse the Holocaust). At this rate it’s surely only a matter of time before one of them goes ahead and tries to blame all the sexy children.

Oh, right.
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A couple have taken legal action after claiming motion sensors installed at their holiday flat in Dorset breached their rights as Orthodox Jews.

Gordon and Dena Coleman said they cannot leave or enter their Bournemouth flat on the Sabbath because the hallway sensors automatically switch on lights. The couple’s religious code bans lights and other electrical equipment being switched on during Jewish holidays.

They have now issued a county court writ claiming religious discrimination. They also claim breach of their rights under the Equality Act 2006 and Human Rights Act 1998 and the case is due to be heard at Bournemouth County Court next month.

The light sensors were installed at Embassy Court in Gervis Road to save money and energy but the couple, who live in Hertfordshire, felt they breached their religious rules.

Dr Coleman and her husband offered to pay for an override switch as a compromise but Embassy Court Management Company rejected this and the couple took legal advice. They have said they will drop the legal action if an override switch is installed and their legal costs and compensation are paid.

Other residents in the block of 35 flats, who could end up having to pay legal costs, are upset. [BBC]

Orthodox Judaism forbids working on the Sabbath, which hardliners usually interpret as doing anything, ever. Answering the phone, looking out of the window, scratching: name it, and it seems that some furious beetle-browed rabbi has condemned it at some point as the ultimate blasphemy.

Actually, the list of prohibitions has been carefully worked out from the techniques necessary to build the Tabernacle of the Israelites. So, no ploughing earth, sowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, lighting fires, extinguishing fires, and so on for 39 exhaustive categories, comprehensively designed to ensure that one day a week would be spent not being made to work. Generations of worshippers have, essentially, fetishised a union agreement.

The progress of technology has presented a few challenges, notably electricity. Do the tiny sparks involved mean that it counts as “lighting fires”? Or—and this is when you realise just what a huge contribution faith can make to all our lives—given that “a device which is plugged into an electrical outlet of a wall becomes part of the building, but is nonfunctional while the switch is off”, would turning it on then constitute “building” and turning it off be “demolishing”? [1]

Either way, it seems, it was generally agreed among Orthodox lawmakers that electricity must be bad somehow, and it was duly verboten on the holy day. A get-out clause for those who selfishly insist on being able to see after dusk is that it is acceptable for an Orthodox Jew to make use of a light that has already been switched on by someone else—perhaps by a close gentile friend who respects their religion (or just ignores it) and is happy to pop round on the Sabbath for a chat and a switch-on. It is also deemed acceptable by some Orthodox commentators to install timer switches. [2]

I believe it’s a new twist, though, to claim that the act of walking past motion sensors that switch on lights remotely can in any sense be classed as you “making fire” (or indeed “demolishing your house”). While I suspect Orthodox rabbis will vigorously approve, I’m not sure it sets a particularly useful precedent, and I’m a little concerned that the default response from our courts might be along the lines of “omg its ur religion soz hav ££”. This couple, after all, are pressing two of the biggest, shiniest buttons available to them—“FAITH” and “RIGHTS”— and [livejournal.com profile] psychonomy probably whammed the nail squarely on the head when he said that the most important sentence in the news story comes right at the end:
[The Colemans] said that their solicitors told them they had a strong claim.

[1] From the same article: “While ‘winnowing’ usually refers exclusively to the separation of chaff from grain, and ‘selecting’ refers exclusively to the separation of debris from grain, they refer in the Talmudic sense to any separation of intermixed materials which renders edible that which was inedible. Thus, filtering undrinkable water to make it drinkable falls under this category, as does picking small bones from fish. (Gefilte fish is one solution to this problem.)”

[2] It’s important to emphasise that we’re dealing with the outer fringes here—the off-off-off-Broadway of Judaism. Even those who are content to be known as Conservatives, hardly liberal when it comes to applying holy rules, think the electricity stuff is a bit nutty.
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The majority of Britons do not believe the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus, a survey has suggested.

Of 1,000 people questioned, 70 per cent doubted the account, according to the British Market Research Bureau. Almost a quarter of people who described themselves as Christians shared their scepticism.

St Helen’s Church in Bishopsgate, London, which commissioned the survey, has produced a film of “sound evidence” supporting the Bible’s account.

Simon Gathercole, a new testament scholar at Cambridge University, said people were sceptical because they were not aware the origins of Christianity were anchored in real history.

“Jesus was born while Augustus was emperor of Rome just before Herod died... we’re talking about events that are anchored in real history not in ancient Greek myths.” [BBC]
It should really be redundant for me to point this out, but apparently the fuck not: what Simon Gathercole seems to have done, despite being a “new testament scholar”, is confuse the issue of the apparent existence of a historical Jesus with people’s heartening reluctance to accept that he was born by MAGIC.

Here are a couple of other beliefs regarding Christ’s conception that we, as a nation, disgracefully do not propagate at this time of year.
During the early centuries of Christendom, it was widely held that Christ had been born by emerging either through Mary’s breast or navel in order to avoid contact with what the Germans call to this very day “the parts of shame”. So widespread did this belief become that a book was written by Ratramnus attempting to prove that Christ had indeed been born though the normal channels. […]

It was, of course, difficult for many to accept the notion that Mary could have been impregnated by the Holy Ghost and still remain a virgin. The myth obtained that she had been impregnated through the ear. In some early paintings the Holy Ghost, in the form of a dove, is seen descending with the sperm in its bill. Still another painting shows a lily through which the seminal words pass before entering Mary’s ear.

[Ben Edward Akerley, The X-Rated Bible]
Honestly, it’s almost as if we don’t want to believe.
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Last November 35 members of the “True Russian Orthodox Church”, a generic extremist sect that believes in the imminent apocalypse and thinks that barcodes are the mark of the Beast, etc etc, barricaded themselves inside an underground cave in Russia to shelter from the coming apocalypse. They threatened to set themselves on fire if any attempt was made to remove them by force. The date set for the apocalypse was May, according to Pyotr Kuznetsov, the group’s leader. He is said to have ordered his followers into the cave but he didn’t join them, having been taken into custody for psychiatric evaluation.

Negotiators and local priests tried to talk to the cult members, not least to warn them that the cave was unsafe and in danger of collapsing, but communication was sporadic and hostile. Then, towards the end of March, the cave partially collapsed and began to fill with water. Kuznetsov, by now diagnosed schizophrenic, was brought along to negotiate with his flock. Seven female members were persuaded to leave the increasingly unsafe cave, although they were granted their wish to remain isolated until the world ends in May. More cult members followed them over the next few days, along with the four children they had taken with them. It was at this point that Kuznetsov said he realised he had been wrong about his prediction and tried to commit suicide, apparently by laying his head on a tree stump and striking it with a large plank.

Meanwhile, the remaining members of the True Russian Orthodox Church stayed in the cave, being either faithful hardcore zealots or dead. The hardcore zealots made it clear that they would not leave despite worsening conditions, while the dead consisted of one woman who had already been very ill with cancer and another who had “fasted too intensely”. Two weeks later the remaining cult members resumed negotiations, saying that they were now running out of water and could they please have some. It’s something of an anticlimax to read that they are said to be preparing to emerge on 27 April.

The fact that the sect leader is demonstrably mentally ill, has recanted his apocalyptic predictions and indeed now faces charges for his activities is no bar to other sect members dreaming of inheriting his mantle. Vitaly Nedogon, one of the cultists who quit the cave in early April and then shut himself away ready for May’s rollercoaster ride, has told Russia Today: “There are signs I am to be the new prophet and the one to bear the cross... but I’m in no position to judge.” Go Vitaly! After all, God’s got to speak through someone.

Moral: It’s as important as ever to respect other people’s firmly held religious beliefs.

Indulge me

Dec. 7th, 2007 11:40 am
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You know, it’s all too easy for us secular types to be cynical about religion, but it’s time we acknowledged that institutions can change with the times. No longer, for example, is the Catholic Church simply a repository of unbridled wealth and power maintained by peddling ridiculous superstitions to the credulous and vulnerable. Twenty-first-century faith is a sophisticated lifestyle choice, a rational sober decision, an intelligent response to the moral dilemmas and deeper questions posed by a complex world that—oh look, they’re giving away papal indulgences again. It’s a limited offer: get yourself to Lourdes some time in the next year and knock off some of the time you’re due to spend in purgatory. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of a young girl hallucinating an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you have an unrivalled opportunity to triumph over the Catholic Church’s cosmology thanks to the pope’s magic powers! Distance yourself from the horrific sadistic tortures of Hell dreamt up by weird ascetic medieval monks! Only the Church’s special blend of spells and incantations can preserve your eternal soul!

Sorry, where was I?

Remarkably, I have not photoshopped this picture. That is his nibs’s actual hat.
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Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] liquidindian for this post, without which I might never have come across the Spiritual Science Research Foundation—which offers, for example, the chance to “Learn how spiritual healing chants can overcome mental illness caused by ghosts”. Here’s this week’s featured case study:

I have been doing spiritual practice under the guidance of SSRF since 1998. In 2001 I began to get mouth ulcers very frequently. They would surface every fortnight or so in different places in my mouth cavity. I consulted various doctors. The treatment regime provided by them was B-complex supplements and Dologel (a local anaesthetic solution to be applied on the ulcer). I also consulted a Homeopath but to no avail. I continued to be plagued by ulcers in my mouth for a period of five years.

One day I happened to mention my problem to a subtle department seeker of SSRF. She told me that it was due to ancestor problems. At the time I was chanting 3 maalaas (i.e. 3 x 108 times) of Lord Datta’s Name. She told me to increase it to 9 maalaas a day. I could almost immediately perceive the benefit of the increased chanting. The intensity of the ulcers and the frequency with which they occurred also reduced. After about two months they did not occur again.

Now looking back, one thing that should have given me a hint that the problem was spiritual was the fact that the ulcers would mostly appear around the full moon day or new moon day.

Comment from the Editor:

Even though Mr. Marathe was chanting 3 maalaas day of Lord Datta since he started spiritual practice with SSRF, it was inadequate to combat the problem of ulcers. Only when the requisite amount of chanting was done did it go away completely.
Of course, that isn’t the first person on this journal to suggest that immediate problems might be caused by long-dead ancestors. “Archbishop” Gilbert Deya, featured here recently, turns out to be currently facing extradition to Kenya to answer multiple charges of baby-trafficking. after it turned out the explanation for the “miraculous” pregnancies he claimed to have induced simply by flying women who could not conceive from the UK to Kenya and praying—sometimes resulting in a baby appearing after mere weeks of pregnancy—was somewhat more prosaic.

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Of all the tribulations that have faced Christianity through the ages, surely the greatest has to be the modernisation of the spelling of one of the translations of its holy book:
This particular edition of the Cambridge Bible that calls itself a King James Bible is not genuine. IT’S A COUNTERFEIT! It’s not the Bible of my forefathers!

Here are some of the changes I located: Asswaged has been changed to assuaged. Basons has been changed to basins. Chesnut has been changed to chestnut. Cloke has been changed to cloak. Enquire has been changed to inquire. Further has been changed to farther. Jubile has been changed to jubilee. Intreat has been changed to entreat. Morter has been changed to mortar. Ought has been changed to aught, and rereward has been changed to rearward.

Brother Nic, why get so upset? These are just minor changes in spelling. Well maybe they are, but have you never read “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” You see I believe God wrote the Bible through sinful men. I believe God copied the Bible through sinful men. I believe God translated the Bible through sinful men, and I believe God edited (purified) the Bible through sinful men. So therefore I believe God gave us the exact words in the exact order He wanted us to have them in. If that’s the case then He spelled the words exactly the way He wanted to spell them, and gave them to us in a pure language, and that language is the standard text of the King James Bible. This is the Bible that has stood the test of time without any editing whatsoever ... Once you modernize spelling, change capital letters to lower case letters and add hyphens, you are changing the standard text in order to please modern society ...

One thing a lot of them do is change the spelling of words that end with the letters o-u-r to the more modern American spelling of o-r ... Now the very worst of this battle of o-u-r vs o-r comes when dealing with the only begotten Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The modern day counterfeiters have changed Saviour to Savior. They have given us a six-letter Savior in place of a seven-letter Saviour. In Bible numerics seven is the number of completeness, purity, and spiritual perfection. On the other hand six is the number of man which is earthly not heavenly. Everyone has heard of 666. It has a bad connotation and is not highly esteemed in Bible numerics.

The seven-letter Saviour is the only begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The six-letter Savior is the son of perdition, the anti-Christ. He wants to be like the most High (Isaiah 14:14), but not in a good way, but in an evil way. He is not a follower. He’s a counterfeiter. Therefore his final destination is the lake of fire. The new versions, along with the new age movement, and some of the King James Bible counterfeits are preparing the way for this six-letter so called Savior. That's the way he will spell his name, S-a-v-i-o-r not S-a-v-i-o-u-r. No thank you Satan.
webofevil: (his nibs)

I don’t mean to boast, but I can state with confidence that during the course of an average working day I see more bishops than many of, for example, you—unless you work in the House of Lords as well, for the General Synod or at the Happy Halo Bishops’ Ball Pool at Membury Services. It’s because of this that I can vouch that there is indeed the odd bishop who has something useful to contribute and doesn’t deserve to be immediately FedExed to Spitzbergen to fend for himself among the polar bears. The Bp. of Worcester, for example, is an active campaigner for the poor and the imprisoned. Having just checked his biog, I see that he is also about to retire in a couple of days’ time, which may bring the average down again.

You could be forgiven for thinking that all bishops had been designed specifically to waste your time. Unless you read the Telegraph, whose fixation on the minutest goings-on in the Church of England is surpassed only by that of the Express on the fate of Madeleine McCann, the only time bishops are going to crop up on your radar is when they’re sulking at each other over homosexuality or making helpful contributions like these:
* The head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique, Archbishop Francisco Chimoio, has told the BBC he believes some European-made condoms are infected with HIV deliberately, and claimed some anti-retroviral drugs were also infected “in order to finish quickly the African people”.

* As you may remember, the C of E Bishop of Carlisle pronounced that this year’s floods were God’s judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society.

* It was the wrath of the bishops the government was flinching from recently when it blocked the first ever plans to exempt a state school from the requirement for “a daily act of worship of a broadly Christian nature”.

* The daddy, of course: the Bishop of Southwark—it’s what he does.
All right, the next example is cheating a little as it’s very obscure and your radar would have to be pretty powerful to have picked it up, but the man calls himself an Archbishop and I’m not going to risk gainsaying that kind of dark magic:
Now, I have discovered that medical science has developed a particular types of vaccines in order for them to develop immunity to some diseases. They are claiming that the body will build antibodies to fight against these foreign matters (i.e. the disease) that are injected into the system, giving the people resistance if they should come into contact with the disease later on. I believe that medical doctors also use this method with AIDS, injecting small doses of the disease and then administering various types of medication, to people who are tested and proven to be HIV positive, as an experiment.

They do not have a cure for this AIDS disease because it is a ‘spirit’. AIDS is a ‘pestilence’ that comes upon people who are cursed, and drugs cannot cure it because it is a ‘spirit’.

- Archbishop Gilbert Deya, Curses of Sexual sins That bring problems in marriage, Singleness, Barrenness poverty and misfortunes...

This particular Archbishop—who is far too excited that he once met Prince Philip [site since taken down]—has a thing about curses. Noting that the Book of Deuteronomy is quick to call down “God’s curse” for a whole range of offences, Gilbert sees the results all around him:
There are people who are highly educated but their education is ‘dry’ (barren); it is not bearing fruit in their lives in a manner that enables them to enjoy the good of the land. They have Degrees and Diplomas yet they do babysitting jobs and look after old people. Do not misunderstand what I am saying here, these jobs are not unworthy—there is nothing wrong with doing these jobs if that is what someone is qualified to do.

My point here is that persons who are highly trained and educated should be in employment that is suitable to their qualifications, above but not below it. I am addressing people who struggle in jobs that are below their qualifications and live from one pay cheque to the next, without being able to pay their bills or to save. They may be walking under a curse and are not aware of it.

... Ladies and gentlemen in your search for solutions to your problems, consider that this situation may not be your fault or that of your partner, but rather as a result of generation curses. Your father or mother or fore-parents may have had sex with their relatives, and these past sins have caused you to be now living under a curse.

- Archbishop Gilbert Deya, Curses of Sexual sins That bring etc, etc
So if things in your life aren’t really panning out as you had hoped, you now know the question you need to sit your parents down and ask. You’re welcome.
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Floods are judgment on society, say bishops

The floods that have devastated swathes of the country are God’s judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society, according to senior Church of England bishops. One diocesan bishop has even claimed that laws that have undermined marriage, including the introduction of pro-gay legislation, have provoked God to act by sending the storms that have left thousands of people homeless.

While those who have been affected by the storms are innocent victims, the bishops argue controversially that the flooding is a result of Western civilisation’s decision to ignore biblical teaching.

The Rt Rev Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle, argued that the floods are not just a result of a lack of respect for the planet, but also a judgment on society’s moral decadence. “This is a strong and definite judgment because the world has been arrogant in going its own way,” he said. “We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused.” […]

“The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God’s judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance.” He expressed his sympathy for those who have been hit by the weather, but said that the problem with “environmental judgment is that it is indiscriminate”. [Source: Telegraph]
webofevil: (do not cross)
A recent survey had around 63 per cent of Britons counting themselves as secular, while even more recently 82 per cent of us reckoned religion was “divisive”. Let’s see the numbers after last night’s showing outside Parliament—my money’s on a slight rise in the divisionistas. Please God.

“They’ll make us print gay filth!” claimed evangelical opponents of the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

“Only if you’re already printing heterosexual filth,” came the written answer.

“They’ll make us convert our children into gay paedos!” claimed the evangelicals.

“Is there someone else we could talk to?” replied the secularists.

At about 5.45 there were maybe 300 of them, though they were making enough noise for twice that many. Their numbers swelled to the high hundreds as the evening went on. Alternatively, according to the following impartial observer, everyone in Parliament failed to notice that five thousand people had shown up:

Have Your Say, bbc.co.uk
They sang the odd hymn, they chanted the odd chant. We couldn’t make out the latter. “(Something something something)! No no no!” Repeat.

“Are they saying, ‘It’s all wrong! No no no!’?” said my friend, brow furrowed.

“I’ll be honest,” I replied, “all I’m hearing is, ‘It’s your bum! No no no!’”

Of course, after that, that was all either of us could hear. But then, to judge by certain contributors to the debate that was going on in the building, bums were the sole point of contention anyway:

Lord Tebbit: ... “black” is about being. Sexual orientation is also about being. We would not wish to discriminate against people for being black or on grounds of their sexual orientation. The concerns being expressed this evening are primarily about sodomy rather than about sexual orientation—that is, doing not being.
Lord Tebbit seems to think this is a direct threat in, for example, a high street printer’s. The contested regulations ban businesses from discriminating against gay couples in any walk of life—just as you already can’t discriminate against, for example, Christians. In Lord Tebbit’s dystopian vision, that means gay men will now, en masse, descend upon innocent Christian-run businesses and start having sex right there, in front of the owners’ children, and there will be nothing they can do about it. You couldn’t make it up, etc.

That whole Tebbit/sodomy interface. Has anyone ever taken him aside and explained that many gay men just don’t do that? And that, conversely, some straight couples do? In fact, his obsession isn’t really even funny any more. It’s just a one-man freakshow, like the old boy who used to hang around outside Waterloo station, yelling and swiping furiously at invisible enemies.

When I first moved to London I rented a room in a house belonging to friends of the family. They had five cats. Occasionally the only female cat would suddenly be on heat. At those times, when there were just women in the house she’d be fine, but the moment there was a man around she would transform into a crazed, crawling, yowling goblin, entering your room slowly and backwards to give you the best possible view. The door to my room didn’t shut properly so I would have to sit there, trying to concentrate on an essay or a translation, while this rampant changeling, which vaguely resembled a prim, fastidious cat I otherwise knew, would rub its engorged parts against my leg, begging to be satisfied. This was so unsettling and off-putting that eventually one evening I found myself sighing and idly wondering, “If I just took this pencil...”

I didn’t, of course I didn’t. But these thoughts can flash across your mind if you’re driven to it. And my point is, I’m at exactly that stage with Norman Tebbit. Seriously, would it satisfy his curiosity—would it shut him up—if I just took this pencil...?

Islam dunk

Nov. 13th, 2006 01:36 pm
webofevil: (God hates us)
It shouldn’t be any surprise that the BNP’s Nick Griffin was cleared of race hate charges. He had confined himself to giving Islam a good slagging, and the Government’s attempt to make that illegal foundered last year.

Sadly, the Qur’an seems to go out of its way to hand over whole rounds of ammunition to its detractors:

“You will find verse after verse after verse that says you can take any women you want—so long as they’re not Muslim women—any woman that your right arm can own. That’s the sword arm, it’s the fighting arm, the arm you hit a [guy] with a baseball bat with. Any woman they can take by force or guile is theirs.”—from Griffin’s offending speech

Unfortunately, that’s all true. Everything he’s referring to, and the interpretation he gives it, is correct. Several verses make it clear that you (that's a male “you”, obviously) can have sex with female captives (whom “your right arm possesses”), who Allah has by definition “given to you”.

The field of Islamic scholarship is full of bearded men chirpily explaining to women why they're much better off under Islam, and why it's all for their own good. There are opposing voices, however; for example, this exhaustive demonstration that Islam sanctions the rape of non-Muslim women:
”Mr Zakaria admits that Islam permits the jihadists to have sex with their female captives. His primary claim is that this does not constitute an endorsement of rape. His claim is not credible for one simple reason: He assumes that the captive non-Muslim female would willingly engage in sex with the Muslim men who had just slaughtered her people (her husband, and/or other family members and loved ones, etc) some time within about one month of that killing.”
Mr Zakaria will undoubtedly not see anything wrong with that assertion. Women are insatiable demons, aren’t they? They just can’t get enough of it, wherever it comes from. Look, my friend, it says it in my holy book.

One of the reasons the Qur’an is such a problematic sacred text—
(apart from the fact that its compilers put its verses together in order of length, leaving it up to subsequent generations to try and decode the chronology of its creation; or the fact that on several occasions God appears to correct and contradict earlier verses of the Qur’an, which surely means that the entire book by definition can’t be perfect; or its assertion that half the population of the planet do not have souls and are agents of Satan; or... look, I haven’t got all day)
—is that in the latter part of Muhammad’s career as a prophet, he God let his violent fantasies get the better of him. Whether it’s graphic descriptions of hell or of what you can do to your enemies and their women, the Qur’an revels in the gore of unbeliever and saved alike, just as any true end-timer’s eyes light up when they contemplate the coming carnage of Tribulation. All manner of barbarism gets divinely sanctioned, a key feature of any world-beating holy book. Maybe the more bloodthirsty the book, the more devotion it inspires.
“... it became known in Baghdad that the Jew Ibn Kammuna had written a volume... in which he displayed impudence in the discussion of the prophecies [in all three Abrahamic religions]. God keep us from repeating what he said. The infuriated [Muslim] mob rioted, and massed to attack his house and to kill him... Upon the amir’s order, it was heralded in Baghdad that, early the following morning outside the city wall, Ibn Kammuna would be burned. The mob subsided, and no further reference to Ibn Kammuna was made. As for Ibn Kammuna, he was put into a leather-covered box and carried to Hilla where his son was then serving as an official. There he stayed for a time until he died.”—Fuwati
That was recorded in the year 1284. Salman Rushdie’s angry Muslim mobs burned him in effigy in 1989. Islam has a rich and unswerving tradition of being terribly offended at any perceived slur on its good name. (Those slurs include observations that it’s very quick to raise angry mobs in its defence). This has to be in large part because there is not allowed to be any doubt that its holy book is the sacred word of an angry god.

Islam has not gone through any of the processes of self-investigation that Christianity did, with its holy writ being dissected and investigated by its own scholars like so much profane prose. While protestant theologians were busy pinpointing four distinct probable authors of the Pentateuch alone, Islamic scholars have spent their centuries reminding everyone that every syllable of their holy book is God’s sacred word—even the bits where He changes His mind and corrects what He said earlier. (According to the book itself, the original version of the glorious Qur’an sits in heaven. Presumably it’s covered in Tipp-Ex and crossings-out.*)

Consequently mainstream Islam doesn’t really have a dissenting equivalent of the Church of England, calmly accepting the human origins and resulting contradictions in its sacred texts but still convinced of the essence of the truth at their heart. No, there’s nothing figurative about the Qur’an; it’s all, much as I hate to repeat myself, THE WORD OF GOD. I believe that strict denial of the human origins of your faith breeds fanaticism and superstition; the conflict in Afghanistan and the war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s bred countless stories of brave and pure mujahideen killed in action whose corpses never rotted but instead started smelling sweeter than the sweetest nectar, al-hamdulillah, I swear it is a miracle, he was a good Muslim and died with a smile on his face, surely even now he is in heaven getting the blowjob of his life. These stories have spread, and can now be found applying to any conflict involving the Mujahideen: Chechnya, Lebanon, Afghanistan (again).

Of course there's a more moderate, even progressive, side to Islam, but its star isn't exactly in the ascendant at the moment. However, the jihadis and the angry teenage terrorettes are still utterly outnumbered by Muslims who despise their violence and their nihilism; most are not extremists and find their own way to live an ordinary life, just like millions of people of other faiths who have grown up in the shadow of their own holy books yet are unencumbered by too many of the demands their dead prophets make of them. But the idea propounded by Nick Griffin, that his audience would carefully distinguish between attacking the pillars of a faith and attacking those who believe in it, is risible and can safely be discounted.

Immediately after the remarks quoted above, Griffin made the comment that has become most notorious in this case: “And that’s the way that this vicious, wicked faith has expanded from a handful of cranky lunatics about 1300 years ago till it’s now sweeping country after country before it.”

A religion that starts with a handful of cranky lunatics and ends up sweeping the world... why does that ring a bell?...
“The ‘Powers That Be’ realised [that TV was corrupting children] and learned how to exploit this to their own advantage; they even told us that smacking our children, was wrong (despite the Bible stating “spare the rod and spoil the child”), and made smacking a criminal offence... The Christian values we have assimilated since the Gospel were carried around the world by the first disciples, but have been stolen within little more than two generations. Britain was the first Christian country outside of the Middle East and was in parts already prepared for the coming of the Message of Salvation; brought by travellers from what became known as ‘The Holy Land’, as they visited the settlements of their kinsfolk here in Britain. If we look back at our own society over the last couple of centuries, we see it approaching the pinnacle of success; then without lingering near the peak, plunging into decadence and lawlessness.”—Richard Colbourne, BNP candidate for Wokingham, recent press release

Ah yes, Christianity. So much more sensible than Islam. So much more British.

Ultimately, the speech for which Griffin was in the dock could not be successfully prosecuted under race hate laws. The BNP had been happily stirring up local ethnic tensions at the time, but in general had been careful to pin the blame for disturbances on “Muslims”, rather than “those Asian lads up the road”. However, the speech given by Griffin’s co-defendant Mark Collett, which had explicitly accused Asian people of being racist, hating white people and being responsible for rapes and muggings on white girls and pensioners, and ended with the words, “Let’s show these ethnics the door in 2004”, was quite clearly incitement to racial hatred. The fact that he too was cleared raises stark questions about the state of the Yorkshire community the jurors were picked from.

There’s plenty to despise about people’s holy books, but just as much to despise—with nothing positive to leaven or redeem it—in the BNP’s bigoted, poisonous, divisive, quasi-fascistic nonsense.

* NB for anyone under 25: Tipp-Ex actually used to work before its active ingredient, trichlorethane, was ruled too dangerous and removed, leaving Tipp-Ex the pointless watery see-through fluid you probably hated when you were at school.**

** NB for anyone under 18: Tipp-Ex was correcting fluid we used to use at school in the days before you could just print out the essays you’d stolen off the internet.
webofevil: (Default)
Beyond the Veil, Fatima Mernissi:
[For hardliners] the sexual act is considered polluting, and is surrounded by ceremonials and incantations whose goal is to create an emotional distance between the spouses and reduce their embrace to its most elementary function, that of a purely reproductive act. During coitus, the male is actually embracing a woman, symbol of unreason and disorder, anti-divine force of nature and disciple of the devil. Hence a dread of erection, which is experienced as a loss of control and, according to Ghazali [11th century], referred to as darkness in verse 3 of sura 113:
Say: I seek refuge in the lord of daybreak
From the evil of that which he created
From the evil of darkness when it is intense.
In an attempt to prevent a complete merging with the woman, the coital embrace is surrounded by a ceremony which grants Allah a substantial presence in the man’s mind during intercourse. The coital space is religiously oriented: the couple should have their heads turned away from Mecca. “They should not face the ‘holy shrine’ in respect for it” [Ghazali]. This symbolism of spatial orientation expresses the antagonism between Allah and the woman. Mecca is the direction of God. During intercourse, the man is reminded that he is not in Allah’s territory, whence the necessity to invoke his presence.
It is advisable for the husband to start by invoking God’s name and reciting “Say God is one” first of all and then reciting the takbir “God is most great” and the tahlil “There is no god but God” and then say, “In the name of God, the high and powerful, make it a good posterity if you decide to make any come from my kidney”. [Ghazali]
At the crucial moment of ejaculation, when the physical and spiritual boundaries of the lover threaten to melt in a total identification with the woman, the Muslim lover is reminded:
It is suitable to pronounce, without moving the lips, the following words: “Praise be to God who created man from a drop of water”. [Ghazali again]
(Other reports on the words a Muslim is supposed to pronounce during coitus are in Imam Bukhari, al-Jami’ al-Salih, and Imam Tarmidi, Sunan al-Tarmidi.)

They’re not just any old sacred recitations he’s muttering to himself as he ploughs away—they’re incantations specially chosen to protect him because he believes you’re the embodiment of evil! That’s got to make any girl feel special.

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