left biblioblography: November 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pity The Poor Palestinians...Why, Exactly?


Cross posted at God's For Suckers!

Time to stir the hornet's nest, it seems.

One of the items that set my teeth on edge, is this humongous blind spot leftist atheists have in regards the Palestinians.

I know, I know - I've gone on at length about this topic. Follow the link, please...while people do learn from repetition, there's only so many times I can parrot the actual facts before I'm ready to put a fist through a wall in frustration.

And this - well, I confess I start seeing red when I hear/read this egregious horseshit:

Commodifying Honor in Female Sexuality: Honor Killings in Palestine

The family constitutes the fundamental building-block of Palestinian society. Family status is largely dependent upon its honor, much of which is determined by the respectability of its daughters, who can damage it irreparably by the perceived misuse of their sexuality

Every year, hundreds of women and girls are murdered in the Middle East by male family members. The honor killing-the execution of a female family member for perceived misuse of her sexuality-is a thorny social and political issue. Palestinian activists campaigning for equality find it difficult to stop the killings altogether. Legitimacy for such murders stems from a complex code of honor ingrained in the consciousness of some sectors of Palestinian society.

'Thorny issue' my homesick ass. Yeah, a real progressive society, I daresay. (To give credit where it's due, there are Pali's who are actively working to change this.)

Does this stem from any religious proclivities? Apparently so:

The Kurds of Turkey and Iraq who practice honor killings are not Arabs, nor are the predominantly Pashtun peoples of Afghanistan who engage in the practice. If honor-killing is a survival of an Arab, pre-Islamic custom, then it has been exported to Kurdish peoples and those in Afghanistan and the Indian sub-continent, a "fellow-traveler" during the early (pre-Ottoman) historical spread of Islam. Therefore, I do not buy into the argument that honor-killings have nothing to do with Islam. They are a living part of its history. Adultery, according to Sharia principles, is punishable by death, and most honor-killings involve suspected adultery. Apostasy is also, according to some Islamic schools of thought, punishable by death.

Of course, nothing is quite monochromatic, as this link shows there are varying degrees of Sharia law in different countries.

Honor killings are a barbaric, archaic holdover from earlier traditions. Note also, that the Palestinian Authority still doesn't prosecute, as this is a holdover from when the Jordanians ruled the Gaza Strip, the last vestige of which was in 1988, via a law that is nearly 50 years old.

Back to this link:

In 2005 in Israel there were 15 recorded honor killings, with three of these taking place in the municipality of Ramle. Palestinians have engaged in savage honor killings, and with the rise of the Islamist group Hamas, there may be a rise in such murders. In April 2005, a young woman was killed for the "crime" of being with her fiancé in the Gaza 3 strip. Her killers were said to be Hamas' morality police, the Anti-Corruption Unit. Twenty-two year old Yusra al-Azzami was in a car with her fiancé, and was shot from a vehicle which contained five masked men. After Yusra was shot, her dead body was dragged from the car and beaten with iron bars. Later, the fiancé and (her) sister were also beaten.
In the Palestinian territories, there has been an increase in honor killings. Last month a 40-page report was compiled by Ohaila Shomar of women's rights group SAWA. Until 2004, there were 10 to 12 murders of women each year in Palestinian territories. Over the past three years, there have been 48 murders of females aged from 12 to 85 years old. Of these cases, 32 have been honor killings. The Times states that last year, 17 Palestinian women were honor victims. 12 were killed in the Gaza Strip and 5 were killed in the West Bank.

For more gut-wrenching facts:

The reasoning behind honor killings is alien to the Western mind. Though not recent, the case of Amira Abu Hanhan Qaoud, a mother of nine who killed her teenaged daughter Rofayda on January 27, 2002 shows a callousness that shocks. Rofayda had been raped by her two elder brothers in their shared bedroom in their Ramallah home.
She became pregnant
. On December 23, 2002, Rofayda gave birth to a baby boy at a women's shelter in Bethlehem. She returned to the family's three bedroom home in the suburb of Abu Qash. The family and village heads signed a promise that they would not harm the teenager. The two brothers were jailed.
Amira Qaoud did not keep her promise. She bought razor blades, and ordered her daughter to slash her own wrists. When Rofayda refused, her mother smothered her with a plastic bag, slashed the girl's wrists and hit her with a wooden stick. The killing took twenty minutes. Amira Qaoud said: "She killed me before I killed her. I had to protect my children. This is the only way I could protect my family's honor." Her nine year old daughter Fatima echoed her sentiments, saying: "My mother did this because she does not want us to be punished by people. I love my mother much more now than before."
In Palestinian territories, a murder is regarded as less serious if it is an honor killing, and thus honor killers receive from six to twelve months' jail. This stems from Jordanian legislation from 1960. Article 340 of the Jordanian Penal Code affirms that "he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery with another, and he kills, wounds or injures one or both of them, is exempt from any penalty...he who discovers his wife, or one of his female ascendants or descendants or sisters with another in an unlawful bed and he kills, wounds or injures one or both of them, benefits from a reduction of penalty." In addition to this, Article 98 of the Penal Code allows a educed sentence if a perpetrator kills in a "fit of fury".

Even though the FSM (geez, I long for the days when the only acronyms we knew were NFL and NBA, but oh well) is a fairly heavy Christian apologetics site, this doesn't negate the facts. Here's yet another report from the BBC:

She was last seen at half past two on a Saturday afternoon looking down from a window in her family's apartment.

They live on a main road, in a building that houses an ice-cream shop. Outside a religious procession was making its way through the streets.

Someone walking in that procession, who knew her face and her troubles, glanced up and saw her.

Less than two hours later, she was dead - her skull crushed - reportedly by blows from an iron bar.

Her name was Faten. She was 22-years-old, a Palestinian Christian from the West Bank city of Ramallah.

After her lifeless body was found, her father and an aunt were taken into custody.

So let's take inventory:

We have a group here (mostly Arab Muslims, not restricted to Palestine) that

A. treats women like property (read: shit), and
B. teaches their children to not only hate the 'invaders', but also that it's good to fucking blow them up.

And 'fess up, folks: if this were any other religious group, the bunch of Pali apologists among you would be hollering, nay, bellowing your lungs out, for something resembling justice, wouldn't you? Demanding fist-in-palm that some sort of reforms be set in place, some form of gob-damned education be instituted, some mechanisms be put in place to halt this hideous activity?

Do please, spare me all the old vacuous homilies: the 'this is all Israel's fault!' folderol, the Palis are responding to invaders of their home turf (who had it first, anyways? What's the statute of limitations on that sorta thing?), the long-winded arguments over land ownership (I, for one, don't buy the 'empty land' argument of the Zionists), or the romantic painting of Palestinians' plight as underdogs.

It's a paintbrush dipped in blood, for one.

Oh, and do please spare me the rubbish that I'm intimating that Israel's above reproach, because it's not. Just about every government on earth is in need (dire or otherwise) of serious reform. There are varying degrees of lunacy to be found in any ruling body: take as your yardstick, the current events of the situation, measure, and cut accordingly.

So, in a nutshell: I'm going to withhold any sympathy, until these loons actually get their shit together, stop begging Allah (peanut butter and jelly be upon him) for an intercession that'll never come, and actually alter their approach (because let's face facts, folks: it's going onwards of about 60 years of butting heads against brick walls, and there's a lotta spilled brain matter, and little in the way of erosion of said wall) that somewhat resembles something other than an Iron age anachronistic behavior pattern.

Choose the lesser of two evils, I always say: choose wisely.

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

When The Religious Rule The Religious - Marriage Is Going To The Dogs


Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!

I was reading some news off my newsfeeds for the BBC, which put me in mind of this quote, circa 2005, by one 'Dr.' Jerry Sutton:

"The most religious nation in the world is India, the most irreligious nation in the world is Sweden. We are a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes."

In fact, the simile has multiple parallels for both countries (India and the US). While their government borrowed heavily from the British, the constitution is the power, not the parliament (that's reversed in Britain). The term 'secularism' was inserted via a Constitutional amendment in 1976. As noted in the entry, the 'freedom of religion' has some serious consequences:

Left-wing critics note that the right to change one's religion is restricted in a handful of states. While no state has ever banned conversions altogether, and while most anti-conversion laws are directed only at "fraudulent" conversions obtained through bribery, fraud, or coercion, these laws may have been implemented unfairly. Furthermore, these critics note that religious violence is a serious problem in India, as reflected in events such as the 2002 Gujarat Violence. Right-wing critics note that Muslims, Hindus, and Christians have their own separate civil codes-and that while the Hindu code has been ' Westernized," no efforts have been made to reform Muslim civil law. They also note controversial efforts to "appease" Muslims through actions such as subsidizing pilgrimages to Mecca-though even Hindu pilgrims have certain benefits.

What really prompted that quote from 2005, was this entry - Man 'marries' dog to beat curse

An Indian man has "married" a female dog, hoping the move will help atone for stoning two other dogs to death.

P Selvakumar, 33, said he had been cursed since the killings, suffering paralysis and a loss of hearing.

Judging by the following paragraphs, I'd say he's been 'cursed' by some severe psychosis.

The wedding took place at a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu state. The "bride" wore an orange sari with a flower garland and was fed a bun to celebrate.

Superstitious people in rural India sometimes organise weddings to animals in the hope of warding off curses.

Feel free to lug this out next time some mook pulls the 'same sex marriage will lead to people marrying their poodle and couch' gambit. After all, homosexuality is illegal in India.

'Tried every cure'

Crowds cheered the newly-weds at the end of the ceremony in Sivaganga district, about 50km (30 miles) east of the city of Madurai.

The "bride", who is called Selvi, was led to the temple in Manamudurai wearing a sari before vows were exchanged in a traditional Hindu ceremony.

What did Selvi do? Bark them out, or howl them?

A relative of the groom who attended the wedding said he hoped Mr Selvakumar would now be cured.

"Fifteen years back Selvakumar was physically fit. But, once he attacked a pair of dogs and thereafter Kumar could not move his limbs freely," the relative, Ramu, told the BBC.

Yeah, it couldn't be the lack of medical treatment in a 3rd world country, could it? Why did he attack them? They were mating in public, that's why. Oh, the horrors! Oh, the (non) humanity!

"He tried every cure for his ailment but could not be rid of his disability.

A list would be nice, but I'm guessing 'every cure' is pretty much limited to charms, talismans, and maybe the occasional trip to some fakir/faker in the street.

"On the advice of an astrologer and others, he decided to marry a bitch to get cured. Then we arranged Selvakumar's marriage with a bitch."

The restraint I'm exercising here is...difficult at best. So I guess mAnn Coulter is still single?

Further on this:

However, Selvi later became restless and ran away. She was subsequently caught and brought back to her husband.

Got cold paws, huh? Imagine "Lassie Come Home" in Prakrit. Or the 'Runaway Bride' debacle as reported by the Hindi version of Faux Noise.

Sadly, this isn't an isolated example - for instance, when a woman married a snake last year. And, as reported by the preceding link,

Marriages between humans and other living beings are not uncommon in India. A tribal girl was married to a dog near Bhubaneshwar recently.

(Special note - I wrote this, and then discovered my good friend Stardust has already done some pieces on these items. D'oh!)

On a more serious note, monkeys are going somewhat apeshit over in India, biting babies and accidentally killing a mayoral deputy - and again, religion rears its ugly head: 

Part of the problem is that devout Hindus believe monkeys are manifestations of the god Hanuman and feed them bananas and peanuts, encouraging them to frequent public places.

So, here we have a nation of Indians ruled by Indians, and what do we get? Human-animal marriages. Local fauna doing harm to humans. Human sacrifice and witch burnings. As well as some inhumane examples of exorcism. And even some cases of widow-burning. And while not in India, one Nepalese fellow decided to rid himself of an unruly appendage, via the eight-armed Goddess of Harm, Kali.

So the lopsided simile has become, with a touch of research, a valid example. We really do need the 'Swedes' to run things, or otherwise, we'd have a whole lot more crazy-ass fairy-beggars running rampant in the streets, flagellating themselves and bellowing into their foam-flecked beards, blathering in tongues and puncturing themselves with serpent teeth.

Religion sure brings out the best in people, doesn't it?

Let the innuendoes and double-entendres commence.

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pissing In The Ear of Gwad - Unconditional Love, My Homesick Ass - I Just Might Glurge


Cross posted at God's for Suckers!

"Castles in the sand, must fall into the sea, eventually" - Jimi Hendrix.

I realize that I've gone off on a tangent on this before - but the utter weirdness the religious invest in is somewhere between addled and insane.

Take this particular hoary old chestnut - "Gwad wuvs you THIS MUCH" (aka the old 'unconditional love' gambit).

Not realizing, of course, that the thought rarely (if ever) matches the 'deed'.

So here we have a quantitatively HUGE amount of supplicants (read: beggars) asking for some form of pittance from on high.

What does their book say about this?

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receives; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. [Matthew 7:7-8].”

One can, with a little dishonesty, play the 'translation changes the message' game - but the aforementioned quote is not only open-ended, but fairly clear. Every Christian is considered the 'favored child'. And regardless as to whether the mendicant gets his/her request granted, it's always the fail-safe: "It was meant to be."

And then there's this 'unconditional love' nonsense. I contend there is no such thing among us mortals: even a mother's love for her child is conditional. Andrea Yates springs immediately to mind. Or Abraham's readiness to sacrifice Isaac, for another. Or Medea, for that matter (albeit that last example is mythological. In fact, the one prior is as well).

Let's dissect this little ditty, with one of my favorite points: the Glurge story. Snopes.com defines this as

"Think of it as chicken soup with several cups of sugar mixed in: It's supposed to be a method of delivering a remedy for what ails you by adding sweetening to make the cure more appealing, but the result is more often a sickly-sweet concoction that induces hyperglycemic fits."

As an example, the famous Internet hooey about how a young woman prayed, and spared a rape, has darker undertones. Not only is the tale sparse on details (names, locations, times), the fact is, that while this young woman was (allegedly) spared a horrible experience, someone else was not 'passed over'. Along these same lines, a missionary is spared a robbing and murder because of 'guardian angels'. Again, sparse on details, time-constraints are asynchronous, an unverifiable story. As opposed to, say, this one? Or perhaps these women were less than favored? Or perhaps these five?

So, in fact, Gwad plays favorites. For every wish granted like some genie in a bottle, there's at least a thousand (perhaps more: likely in the millions) where the aforementioned promise is broken. Where the door's unopened: the question, unanswered: the sought, never found. And no doubt, some are found more worthy of others (these of course, are items that would've sorted themselves, without pleading to the deaf sky).

So, in short, knee-mail is free mail. It lacks postage, and the address is non-existent. So it goes nowhere fast, and lands in fantasy Neverland - or, to put a different spin on the whole shebang, if a prayer is uttered and there is no divine ear to hear it, does it make an impact?

Obviously not.

And the mental masturbation continues.

And to top off the tank, a quote from one of my favorite skeptics:

Pray, v.  To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.  ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

And Today's Word Is....


Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!


This is an item that has been nagging at me lately: do the religious invest in self-loathing?

Let's see what the definition says:

Self-hatred, self-loathing, also sometimes autophobia refers to an extreme dislike of oneself, or being angry at oneself. The term is also used to designate a dislike or hatred of a group to which one belongs. For instance, 'ethnic self-hatred' is the extreme dislike of one's ethnic group. Accusations of self-hatred are often used as an ad hominem attack.

Hmmm...on outwards appearances, it seems not. Specifically, they usually love one another and themselves with an abandon that borders on narcissism.

Let's examine a further snippet, same source:

The term self-hatred can refer to either a strong dislike for oneself, one's actions, or a strong dislike or hatred of one's own race, gender, or sexual orientation. When used in the latter context it is generally defined as hatred of one's identity based on the demographic in question, as well as a desire to distance oneself from this identity.

Now, here's an excerpt from Boiling Point: Dealing With The Anger In Our Lives, by Jane Middleton-Moz:

'All self-hate is based in shame, the belief that "no matter what I do, I will never be good enough."

I think the sharp-eyed reader can guess from context, where I'm going from here.

Let's now examine the definition of original sin:

According to Christian theology, original sin (also called ancestral sin, hereditary sin, birth sin, or person sin) is the fallen state of humanity. In the history of Christianity this condition has been characterized as something as insignificant as a slight deficiency to something as drastic as total depravity. Western Christian tradition regards it as the general condition of sinfulness (lack of holiness) into which human beings are born, distinct from any actual sins that a person may or may not commit later. Eastern Christian Tradition too identifies original sin as physical and spiritual death, the spiritual death being the loss of "the grace of God, which quickened (the soul) with the higher and spiritual life"[1] Others see original sin also as the cause of actual sins: "a bad tree bears bad fruit" (Matthew 7:17, NIV), although, in this view, original and actual sin may be difficult to distinguish.[2]

Of course, the bible goes on at length about this unattainable goal, this bar set far too high for us mortal men:


Matt. 5:48 - "you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect"
I Cor. 13:10 - "when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away"
Phil. 3:12 - "not that I have already become perfect, but I press on..."
Phil. 3:15 - "let us...as many as are perfect, have this attitude..."
Col. 1:28 - "that we may present every man mature in Christ"
Col. 4:12 - "stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God"
 Heb. 5:9 - "having been made perfect, He became source of eternal salvation"
Heb. 7:19 - "the law made nothing perfect"
Heb. 7:28 - "a Son, made perfect forever"
Heb. 12:23 - "the spirits of righteous men made perfect"
I Jn. 4:18 - "perfect love casts out fear..."

There would be those who claim the language is different - I think not. Here's a nice little translation of the word perfect as used in the wholly bibble:

The second of this verse's two problems, and the crux of the matter, is the word perfect. In the Hebrew text, this is tamîm (Strong's #8549), and its basic meaning is "complete" or "entire." It does not mean "perfect" as we think of it today, as "without fault, flaw, or defect." Other English words that translate tamîm better than "perfect" are "whole," "full," "finished," "well-rounded," "balanced," "sound," "healthful," "sincere," "innocent," or "wholehearted." In the main, however, modern translators have rendered it as "blameless" in Genesis 6:9.

Balanced with the English definition, they're hardly that far apart.

So here religious folks have this unreachable goal, taught they're the flawed creation of something essentially 'flawless' (a more mixed signal to the subconscious mind, I can't imagine), and the only way to 'perfection' is accepting the yoke of being sub-standard, always and 'forever' falling short of the mark conjured up by the fevered imaginations of some Iron-age desert nomads long ago.

A mug's game, in short.

There is no 'test', via which we are graded when our time on this earth is done. The only gantlet we run is this one, no other.

We wear this cloak of flesh, in the blink of a metaphorical eye in geological time. We should neither despise it nor wallow in it, but instead to walk in it and wonder at the rainbows of life we live in, and are a part of.

Till the next post, then.