Feb 182011
 

Amy snapped this picture on her phone as we were out shopping for party favours. Bibles for $2! King James version. Leaving all the religion aside, this is some of the best and most influential writing in the English language ever. For two dollars! Canadian dollars!

At first I was going to continue with the joke I made in the headline — but then I remembered that this was spotted at a Dollarama, very near to shelves that contained games like “Line Up 4” and “Sea Battle” so … copyright? Didn’t really seem like an issue.

Oh, Jesuses

 Posted by on 27 May 2010  Vintage/Retro
May 272010
 

If you like this kind of thing (and I do) you’ll love the story of a 1950s psychologist who took three people — each of them convinced that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ — and made them live together.

Then, he subtly messed with them. All in the name of “science.”

Oh, it couldn’t possibly be ethical. And he didn’t learn anything — except, perhaps, that Jesusii will come to fisticuffs, the Golden Rule notwithstanding.

You can buy a whole book, “The Three Christs of Ypsilanti“, or you can read about it at Slate:

Leon seems to waver, eventually asking to be addressed as “Dr Righteous Idealed Dung” instead of his previous moniker of “Dr Domino dominorum et Rex rexarum, Simplis Christianus Puer Mentalis Doctor, reincarnation of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” [The psychologist] interprets this more as an attempt to avoid conflict than a reflection of any genuine identity change.

The Christs explain one another’s claims to divinity in predictably idiosyncratic ways: Clyde, an elderly gentleman, declares that his companions are, in fact, dead, and that it is the “machines” inside them that produce their false claims, while the other two explain the contradiction by noting that their companions are “crazy” or “duped” or that they don’t really mean what they say.

Feb 202010
 

As I picked up Amy from work for a little bit of lunch this afternoon, I caught a brief snippet of something on the radio. It was a retelling of the Genesis story, but with humour instead of ponderous moral overtones.

After some searching online, I found it — it’s actually a rebroadcast of a Jonathan Goldstein show called WireTap on CBC. This one included the retelling of Genesis, but also some other religious-themed stuff.

If you’re already a fan of WireTap, you’ll fit right in. If you’ve never heard it before, it’s kind of like a radio grab bag. The podcast (and all the archived WireTaps) can be found on the CBC site here.

I’ve embedded the one I was talking about, below. The Genesis retelling starts about 5:30 in. The full podcast is a little under half an hour.

WireTap – The Genesis Story

Oh, and I found a transcript here.

Dec 172009
 

poster_1545170c

According to the Telegraph, a church in Aukland, N.Z., has caused a stir by posting the billboard, above, showing Joseph and Mary after sex. The article says that the church is aiming to spark conversation:

Archdeacon Glynn Cardy said the billboard was intended to lampoon the literal interpretation of the Christmas conception story “and that somehow this male God impregnated Mary”.

“What we’re trying to do is to get people to think more about what Christmas is all about,” he said.

“We actually think God is about the power of love as shown in Jesus, which is something quite different than a literal man up in the sky.”

He said the church had asked an advertising agency to come up with ideas for the poster and the one they had chosen was not the most radical.

“One of the options we turned down had a sperm coming down with the words ‘Joy to the World’,” he said.

Apparently, it has already been attacked by a protester who smeared brown paint over it.

I’d like to see the alternative proposals from the ad agency!

How to move a church

 Posted by on 28 November 2009  Modern Life, Music
Nov 282009
 

It is difficult to describe the surreality of some of the following video, in which ant-like humans scurry around and move a century-old church hundreds of miles across the US. The video is sped-up, and looks a little tilt-shifted — so the church looks like a big toy, and the workers are tiny.

The curious little boy inside me wishes that they had spent some time (even with the chorus) exploring things like cutting the church off its foundation, and whether or not there was a basement. But still pretty cool!

(via Coudal)

Nov 122009
 

I’m really not sure how to go about writing this post without being somehow offensive, so I’ll say only this:

The more intense your devotion, the more difficult it is to tell apart from intentional parody.

Take, for example, the website SexInChrist.com:

Are you saving yourself for your wedding night? The Devil wants you to fail, that’s why he puts stumbling blocks in your way. But God wants you to succeed, and that’s why he has given us an alternative to intercourse before marriage: anal sex. Through anal sex, you can satisfy your body’s needs, while you avoid the risk of unwanted pregnancy and still keep yourself pure for marriage.

“I thought the Bible said anal sex was a sin.”

This is a common misconception. Anal sex is confusing to many Christians because of the attention paid to the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual acts. However, it’s important to realize that these often quoted scriptures refer only to sexual acts between two men. Nowhere does the Bible forbid anal sex between a male and female.

This is a parody site, as becomes (slightly) clearer when you go through the other sections, like “Masturbation, God’s Great Gift To Us” and “Threesomes Within a Christian Marriage” and “Fisting and God’s Will.”

But there’s a very similar site, called ChristianNymphos.org, that I’m pretty sure is not a parody at all. They address many of the same concerns, like masturbation and anal sex. But they are absolutely sincere in trying to do so as much as possible within the confines of the Bible.

I’ll leave the discussion to the comments, but I’m  so fascinated by the correlation between the parody and the sincere.

Also, I kind of wanted an excuse to post this video:

Nov 082009
 

DarkAges

The graph above was posted at the tail end of a lengthy rant on NoBeliefs.com, in which the author rips apart the assertion that Christians were responsible for the birth of science. I don’t have a dog in that particular fight, but I’m often saddened when inflexible dogma of any sort gets in the way of open-mindedness. Too often, in my experience, the inflexible dogma is religious in nature.

My point of view is that science and religion operate in separate spheres — science, which is based upon rigorous examination of the physical world, can never hope to prove or disprove the existence of God, a being whose existence, by definition, must transcend the physical world and be supernatural.

For it’s own part, religion does itself no favours when it attempts to explain the mysteries of the physical world through faith.

I suppose that, as explorers of the moral and spiritual world, there is a place for religious practitioners in modern society. Similarly, scientists and science fiction authors can be good friends. But nobody turns to Isaac Asimov for the actual nuts and bolts of spacecraft design. Similarly, priests, pastors, imams — even shamans — can make excellent counsellors or moral philosophers. But I don’t think they should be directing scientific inquiry.

There is a wide range of religious belief among the readers of this blog, I know, and I’d interested in some discussion about the overlapping role of religion and science. The graph and link above are deliberately inflammatory, but I hope none of that will spill over here. Personally, I don’t like the way the Dark Ages are attributed to “Christianity” as if that faith is monolithic. I would prefer the term “Christian Totalitarianism” — and emphasis on the totalitarianism as the problem.

(I saw this graph on my friend Mike’s Facebook page, but I did some research of my own to track down the original author.)

Oct 272009
 

Paul Haggis, the award winning director of Crash has very publicly left the Church of Scientology after 35 years.

In a letter to national spokesman Tommy Davis, Haggis cited the church’s p0licy regarding Prop 8, and the policy of “disconnect” within the church — which requires members to cut off contact with family members and friends who are no longer part of the church (and is denied as being a policy) — as his reasons for leaving the church. It was originally published online in four parts on the blog of ex-Scientologist Marty Rathbun, and in its entirety at the Village Voice.

Haggis was, like I mentioned, part of the church for 35 years. That’s most of his life. His wife is a member, as were her parents. It is pretty clear throughout the letter that this was a difficult decision for Haggis, but one he had to make in light of the position of the church in recent years.

Here is part of the letter:

I joined the Church of Scientology thirty-five years ago. During my twenties and early thirties I studied and received a great deal of counseling. While I have not been an active member for many years, I found much of what I learned to be very helpful, and I still apply it in my daily life. I have never pretended to be the best Scientologist, but I openly and vigorously defended the church whenever it was criticized, as I railed against the kind of intolerance that I believed was directed against it. I had my disagreements, but I dealt with them internally. I saw the organization – with all its warts, growing pains and problems – as an underdog. And I have always had a thing for underdogs.

But I reached a point several weeks ago where I no longer knew what to think. You had allowed our name to be allied with the worst elements of the Christian Right. In order to contain a potential “PR flap” you allowed our sponsorship of Proposition 8 to stand. Despite all the church’s words about promoting freedom and human rights, its name is now in the public record alongside those who promote bigotry and intolerance, homophobia and fear.

This was my state of mind when I was online doing research and chanced upon an interview clip with you on CNN. The interview lasted maybe ten minutes – it was just you and the newscaster. And in it I saw you deny the church’s policy of disconnection. You said straight-out there was no such policy, that it did not exist.

I was shocked. We all know this policy exists. I didn’t have to search for verification – I didn’t have to look any further than my own home.

The letter goes on to describe the shock Haggis felt when he read the St. Petersburg Times series on Scientology leader David Miscavige, and that he had no idea of the injustices taking place in the church. As an outsider, we may find this hard to believe, but if you are in the church, it is hard to see the problems of the church.

Now, for any other religion, this would probably not be news at all. People lose their faith all the time. But Scientology has had a more difficult time, especially in popular culture. People feel that it isn’t a legitimate religion — more of a cult, really — and that it abuses its members while simultaneously taking their money.

Never mind the problem of Xenu, thetans, and alien races, or the fact that the religion was started by L. Ron Hubbard — a science fiction author. A lot of people look at the church very skeptically, especially considering how privately they conduct their business, and how aggressive they can be with their denials. Take this interview with Tommy Davis, for instance:

There’s no doubt that the church will deny Haggis’ letter, or try to discredit him. In fact, Davis is already saying that a misunderstanding has taken place, but the fact remains that Haggis’ letter is just another example of an ex-member publicly discrediting the church.

Hypocrisy is funny

 Posted by on 13 October 2009  Modern Life
Oct 132009
 

hypocrisy

(Click on image for a slightly larger size, if you require legibility)

This was posted on my friend Sarah’s Facebook page. She says she is not an atheist, which only goes to show that humour can transcend all boundaries.

Sep 302009
 

Touched_by_His_Noodly_Appendage

Today is International Blasphemy Day! It’s celebrated on Sept. 30 as a memorial to the publication of the cartoons of Mohammad in Denmark that stirred up Muslim rage around the world. It’s intended as a free speech rebuke to religion.

From an article in the Toronto Star:

Organizers are “inviting people to speak their mind on issues related to religion, free speech, censorship, secularism” and other related topics, said spokesman Justin Trottier.

Despite the day’s stated purpose, Trottier say they do not intend to offend the religious.

“We feel there’s no such thing as a human right not to be offended,” he said. “We live in a democratic society, which means you get offended and you better get used to that.”

They’re slightly more inflammatory on the official website, though, where they have an “Apostasy Challenge” inviting you to convert to Islam, then defame Allah or the Koran — risking death, by the way.

I find organized religions to be insidious — they are organized in such a way that the less you can prove, the more your faith is worth. And unless your particular god or religion is more believable than the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I can’t respect it.

Aug 212009
 

shadowcat

That’s my cat Shadow. I love her, and take good care of her. When I go on vacation and I can’t take her with me, I always make sure that caring, loving people come by and make sure that she has food, water and playtime.

But what if I went on a permanent vacation? What if I never came back? What if Jesus came back and all the believers ascended to heaven, and left their pets behind?

Now, I don’t think I’m in any danger of being Raptured. But there are plenty of True Believers out there — and loads of them have pets.

At least two websites, postrapturepets.com and gracethrufaith.com, address the question of what will happen to the pets left behind. Interestingly, they both counsel the faithful to approach friends and neighbours, and gracethrufaith.com offers this advice as well:

Have you ever considered what a witnessing opportunity this could be? If you have friends who are not believers, have you considered asking them to take care of your pets in the event of your sudden disappearance, even if they don’t live nearby? It’s sure to start a discussion about why you think you might be disappearing.

If they don’t become believers after seeing your sincerity about the Rapture, they almost certainly will after you’re gone, and will adopt your pets. If they become believers before the Rapture, then pick someone else and repeat the process.

Of course, some of us have more money than friends — or maybe you’re sure that everyone you know will ascend to Heaven with you. In that case, enterprising atheists have a proposition for you:

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you’ve received your reward.  Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.

That’s at Eternal Earthbound Pets, which offers 10-year guarantees in 20 states that your pet will be taken care of post-Rapture. They charge just $110 per residence, with additional pets a very reasonable $15. Of course, they look to expand to other states as soon as they can, but if you’re overseas, a similar service exists in the UK called Post-Rapture Pet Care (a bargain at just £69.99, with no time limit, apparently).

And, it’s hit Craigslist, where $50 buys your pet protection and you peace of mind.

Of course, my lovely Shadow will still have me.

An actually funny comedy blog

 Posted by on 7 July 2009  Modern Life
Jul 072009
 

jesusandjudas

I came across a site (thanks, Metafilter) run by twenty-something Avery Edison from England.

It is a medium for her comedic writings, which are part social commentary, part random humorous scenarios, and part religious spoof. A recurring project I enjoyed is a dialogue between Jesus and Judas.

Basically, Jesus is a total dick, and Judas is the voice of reason. I have a feeling this will explain some sort of betrayal …

Here’s a typical exchange:

Judas: Hey, Jesus — I have a question about the Pharisees.
Jesus: Your mother is a prostitute.
Judas: You… you haven’t even heard my question.
Jesus: You just can’t deal with the fact that I tell it like it is.
Judas: No, Encyclopedia Britanica “tells it like it is”. You’re just a douchbag.
Jesus: Oh, hey — my phone’s ringing. I wonder who it is.
Judas: You don’t have a phone.
Jesus: Oh! It’s my dad — God!
Judas: AT&T cancelled your contract…
Jesus: What’s that, God? Judas should cut it out?
Judas: …because you kept trying to pay them in “Jesus dollars”…
Jesus: I agree, Dad, Judas *is* a dick.
Judas: …and because you told that customer representative that you’d send her to hell…
Jesus: You saw Judas’s mom doing *what*, Heavenly Father?
Judas: …and then you asked her out and she said no and you called her a lesbian…
Jesus: So I guess I was, right, huh? Judas’s mom _is_ a prostitute?
Judas: …and then you started crying and she had to call her supervisor and you kept trying to convince them you didn’t understand that the “unlimited” plan only meant 2,000 texts a month. And then they hung up and you were so mad you cursed that fig tree…
Jesus: Thanks, God. Talk to you later.
Judas: …
Jesus: That was God on the pho-
Judas: Yesiheardthankyou.

Funny stuff! Check it out at AveryEdison.com

Jul 052009
 

Here’s another clip from That Mitchell and Webb Look, this one sent in by my friend Kris, who liked the last post. I particularly enjoyed the sly retelling of this famous parable and how it is recast in a modern, “PC” light.

Next up, how Jesus managed to offend both celiacs and vegetarians with his loaves-and-fishes obsession. Couldn’t divvy up just one orange or apple, eh, Jesus?