left biblioblography: May 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Allegories Gone Wild–Holy Mary, Mother Of Who…?

Cross-posted @ the Atheist Oasis

whatifvirginmaryAh so long Marianne
It’s time that we began
To laugh and cry and cry
And laugh about it all again – Leonard Cohen, “So Long Marianne”

“Read the Bible again sometime. Women are painted as bigger antagonists than the Egyptians and Romans combined. It stinks.” Serendipity, the movie ‘Dogma’

One of the more familiar tirades against that compendium of cautionary fables is the correct accusation of misogyny. And let’s face it: it’s true. From Eve to Jezebel to Mary Magdalene, women have been maligned, mistreated, and bartered off like chattel. There’s old Abraham, pimping his wife (not once, but twice!) under the disguise of siblinghood. Eve ate the fruit (apple, whatthefuckever) and doomed all of us. Samson met his demise because of Delilah (although from all accounts, Mr. Jawbone was a multiple jackass anyways). Women weren’t taken as disciples during the alleged Palestinian Ministry but were second-raters, right behind the 75 righteous guys (messiah groupies?). And the man-child myth constantly dressed down his mother through 3 of the 4 books.

Becoming a vessel for the divine, however symbolic it may be, is considered something of an honor. Pre-Christian fertility rites were ubiquitous until the holy-rollers rolled in and started banging bibles over the pagans’ heads. Males have always feared and been mystified by a woman’s ability to conceive. A shift from the matriarchal to the patriarchal intensified this irrational fear, even fostered it. But there is no denying the power of a woman – it is a reality, and one that even the most fortitudinous delusionist cannot explain away. And so begin the stories…

I speak of that strange illusion of the Marianne Apparition.

This woman is seen everywhere. On grilled cheese sandwiches, for one. Tree stumps for another. There’s no doubt a laundry list, but we’ll skip over those. They’re everywhere anyways.

Anyways, the definition (from the link above) says:

A Marian apparition is an event in which the Blessed Virgin Mary is believed to have supernaturally appeared to one or more people.They are often given names based on the town in which they were reported, or on the sobriquet which was given to Mary on the occasion of the apparition. They have been interpreted in religious terms as theophanies.

Marian apparitions sometimes are reported to recur at the same site over an extended period of time. In the majority of Marian apparitions only a few people report having witnessed the apparition. Exception to this include Zeitoun, and Assiut where thousands claimed to have seen her over a period of time.

And as well to be expected, the reports vary so widely in so many ways, it’s obvious that they can’t be taken seriously. I’ve gone on at length on one such topic, but centuries of ‘eyewitnesses’ would seem to testify that…these people saw something, albeit the likelihood is that they saw what they wanted to see.

For the most part, careful examination of these events opens subsequent cracks in the stories, some with holes in them large enough to drive a semi through. In fact, there is so much wrong with eyewitness identification, that there are actually rigorous standards used to assess the reliability of a witness. Note that when religion is involved, these standards vanish like light clouds on a windy day.

We’ll go ahead and skip to the criticisms for the sake of brevity:

Some Protestant Christians and non-Christians regard claims of Marian apparitions as being hallucinations encouraged by superstition, and occasionally simply as deliberate hoaxes to attract attention. Many such apparitions are reported in economically depressed areas, attracting many pilgrims who bring trade and money into the region. For instance, some sources dispute the very existence of Saint Juan Diego.

Yes, it’s mostly Papists who indulge in this sort of tomfoolery. Small wonder there.

Some spontaneous healings reported at apparition sites such as Lourdes are also disputed by some scientists[who?]. Other scientists[who?] have claimed that a handful of unexplained cures have occurred; the Lourdes Medical Bureau has recorded sixty "inexplicable" healings which match its requirements.

I don’t know about anyone else, but this is the first Wiki entry I’ve ever seen where the footnotes says [who?].

Critics maintain that some other healings are incomplete, leaving the sufferer with disabilities or chronic illness, and that other claimed healings are likely to be the relatively rare but unmiraculous spontaneous remission of illness or injury. Such remissions might be expected to occur in a few of the large numbers of ill (and perhaps credulous) people who visit such sites. That viewpoint is debated by religious people and by some in the medical profession. The Lourdes Medical Bureau will not review cases of claimed healing involving illnesses known sometimes to go into remission by themselves, or incomplete healings, or those which take place gradually.[106]

It always boils down to this one sentence: It’s all guesswork. Nobody subjects any of these ‘miracles’ to anything resembling the scientific method, the ‘testimonials’ turn out to be a smorgasbord of ridiculous anecdotes that nobody in their right mind would take seriously, and the only people doing any exhaustive research on these hallucinations are the Catholics (can you say ‘conflict of interest’, boys and girls?).

So there you have it: if you see a woman in your grilled cheese sandwich, everyone will laugh at you. Unless you claim there’s divine iconography involved, in which case you can sell the fucking on EBay for thousands of dollars. Nice return: it costs what? About a buck-fifty to make the sandwich?

It’s a sad, stupid world we live in sometimes.

Till the next post, then.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday Funny–Six Feet Under…The ‘Rapture’

Given the recent silliness that transpired on May 21st (the Rapture that never was), this video clip is hysterically relevant:

What’s even more interesting, is that this actually was reported as real news, but was quite bogus. (No surprise there, eh?)



Saturday, May 21, 2011

For All The Donner Und Blitzen – Only A Light Drizzle

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

rapturezombieIt's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.
- REM, "It's The End Of The World"

When you've fallen on the highway
and you're lying in the rain,
and they ask you how you're doing
of course you'll say you can't complain --
If you're squeezed for information,
that's when you've got to play it dumb:
You just say you're out there waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come. –
Leonard Cohen, “Waiting For The Miracle”

As no doubt the bulk of our readership is aware, the alleged Second Coming has come and gone – a foofaraw of ‘biblical proportions’. The heavens did not split open, no reverberant shook the world’s pillars, and millions of people did NOT suddenly fly up into the heavens. No, not even the alleged 144,000.

For my own part, a short heavyset black woman was canvassing our apartment complex as I went to retrieve the mail this afternoon. We greeted each other, and she asked if she could speak to me. I said sure. She immediately started in with trying to hand me materials (in this case, it was some dogma on a printed blue page in a plastic sleeve), and when I saw that it was religious in nature, I wouldn’t take it and I informed her that I was an atheist. I was wearing my “Atheism: Thinking for ourselves since the evolution of the brain” T-shirt. I informed her she wouldn’t get very far. Nor did she. She immediately tried a sloppy version of the Paly’s Watchmaker crap, asking me “Who put the breath into you? Who put the stars in the sky?” etc. My response was: “Nobody. Religion is just humanity’s effort to cast its own shadow onto the universe.” Failing there, she started blabbing about the bible. Oops, bad move: I know my shit. I told her absolutely NONE of the ‘prophecies’ ever came true; the bible is like the internet, 99% full of shit.  She tried to whip out that old “In Isaiah, there was a prediction..” To which I pointed out that the verse is out of context, it was entirely topical, and that that is known as contextomy. She blithered on about sinning, I told her that was a lame effort to explain mistakes. We went round and round in that vein – I kept my cool, and she proved to be quite polite as well as unflappable. We parted ways amicably enough (I was pretty much laughing out loud through most of her ‘fishing’ expedition), and she went on to bother other folks, including the elderly lady upstairs  (with whom I wagered a neat 1,000 USD that nothing would happen today), that went on for some hours.

I’ve been (lackadaisically) monitoring various news sites, and wouldntcha know it, there’s not been a single report of people being spirited en masse into the sky. Surprised? No, not really.

In fact, the oncoming ‘Second Coming’ as been something of a long-running joke, both in realtime as well as the blogosphere.  My musician buddies from Mojo Hannah were cracking wise about it last night (mentioning the Pre-Rapture Agreement, etc.)

Sadly, it is not all humor and fun. As I mentioned in March, a mother went wankola and tried to harm herself and her two kids. And now some teenagers have no money to go to college because of Camping the Con Man.  News from New Zealand is as expected: nobody’s rocking the boat down there either. And as an extra treat: the senile old vulture predicted this back in 1994.

So there you have it. Nothing happened – AGAIN. And again, without a doubt, there will be the more hidebound of these crazies proclaiming their faith and insisting it will still happen. Which it won’t.

[On a side note, given what I now know about the ‘bible’ – I say we dispense of the term ‘of Biblical proportions’ because….well, again, nothing happened the way it says it did. If anything happened at all.]

Till the next post, then.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday Funny–Firesign Theater

While I remember being terribly stoned while listening to these folks (this being decades ago), Firesign Theater is still funny after all these years. This bit is about UFO’s invading:



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Uganda’s Anti-Gay Legislation ‘Shelved’–Sometimes There Is Good News, Sometimes Not…

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

gay_witch_hunt_in_ugandaI’ve railed at length multiple times about Uganda, and its execrable taste in right-wing ‘mores’ – this is at least somewhat cheerful news:

Uganda anti-gay bill 'shelved by parliament'

Uganda's parliament has adjourned without debating a controversial bill which includes the death penalty for some homosexual acts.

It had been reported that a vote could be held on Friday.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been condemned by Western leaders and human rights groups, some of whom are celebrating "victory".

The bill, first introduced in 2009, could still be brought up when the new parliament meets later this year.

Uganda is a largely conservative society and many people condemn homosexuality both as un-African and un-Christian.

But in recent years, some gay rights groups have been set up in the country.

Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda but the bill would increase the penalty for those convicted to life in prison.

Those found guilty of of "aggravated homosexuality" - defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a "serial offender" - would face the death penalty.

Anyone failing to report to the authorities a person they knew to be homosexual would also be liable to prosecution.

International pressure

Internet campaign group Avaaz said the bill's lack of progress was a "victory for all Ugandans and people across the world who value human rights".

"We must now ensure this heinous bill can never return to parliament again," said Avaaz campaign director Alice Jay.

Gay rights campaigner David Kato was killed in January

Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch said it would still be a very long fight to stop the Ugandan legislation as "the issue has not gone away".

"The international pressure over the last year and a half has been very important to show that Uganda cannot act in isolation from the international community," she said.

US President Barack Obama has condemned the bill and donors have urged Uganda's government to ensure the measures never become law.

But David Bahati, the MP who introduced the private member's bill, said he would try to re-introduce it when the next parliament convened after February's elections, and said it had achieved his goal of sparking debate.

"We have made important steps in raising the issue and that will continue," he was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

In January, David Kato, a campaigner who led condemnation of the bill, was murdered not long after suing a paper that outed him as gay. Police denied the killing was because of his sexuality.

Three months before the murder, Uganda's Rolling Stone newspaper had published the photographs of several people it said were gay, with the headline "Hang them."

It’s quite frightening, really. That anyone would even countenance such nonsense in the 21st century is almost unbelievable (qualifying word is ‘unbelievable’ – I do so wish it were). So who was it exactly who brought this utter bullshit with them? Yep, you guessed it in one: American evangelicals:

Uganda is a country where American-style evangelical Christianity is exploding, and there are close links between many American anti-gay preachers, politicians, and activists, and their Ugandan counterparts. As Jeff Sharlet has reported, Bahati, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s sponsor, is the secretary of the Ugandan branch of The Family, the secretive American evangelical organization whose members include Sens. James Inhofe, Jim DeMint, and Tom Coburn. Martin Ssempa, a Pentecostal preacher who has championed the bill, was a protégé of Rick Warren and, during the Bush administration, a recipient of at least $90,000 of American aid earmarked for abstinence promotion. Another major anti-gay activist, Stephen Langa, the head of Uganda’s Family Life Network, is an affiliate of the Phoenix-based group Disciple Nations Alliance.

Wait – ‘abstinence 'promotion’?  Doesn’t that have an 80% plus failure rate? As for Disciple Nations Alliance…well, follow the link and make your own judgment. And Rick Warren? Don’t even get me started on this asshole.

The point is not that American Christians urged their Ugandan counterparts to try to institute the death penalty for homosexuality—they didn’t. After much public pressure, Warren has spoken out against the bill, and the Disciple Nations Alliance issued a somewhat lukewarm objection, noting “concerns” but insisting on the right of sovereign nations “to establish their own laws.”

Actually, the real point, is that that silly book of fables I term the ‘wholly bibble’ does indeed advocate (and strongly, too) the death penalty for any and all sexual transgressions.

Yet the ideology underlying the bill comes from American conservatives. It is Americans who have elaborated a vision of homosexuality as a satanic global conspiracy bent on destroying society’s foundations, akin to the Jewish octopus in classic anti-Semitic narratives. According to Warren Throckmorton, an evangelical psychology professor once associated with the ex-gay movement, when Uganda’s anti-gay activists speak about homosexuality, they cite materials by Scott Lively and Paul Cameron, two of the fiercest American opponents of the so-called homosexual agenda.

Since America (and other Western countries) are slowly but assuredly losing interest in the Byzantine and labyrinthine totentanz of the priests, it’s a matter of course that the snake oil peddlers set up their grift in underdeveloped countries.

Religion – dividing people and fanning the fires of ignorance and xenophobia since…well, since the written word.

So let’s get this out in the open. Fuck these people. This attitude of ‘gee whiz, everyone has an opinion, why be so intolerant’ is just a blind eye turned to the nutcases who foster these horrors.  In the case of American fuckagelicals, it obviously severely (and horribly) impacts some poor gay folks in Uganda whose only crime is that they prefer someone of their gender. And as long as the American culture brownnoses these crazy ass fairy beggars the way it does, there will be more tragedies, not less.

Till the next post, then.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Funny - Blazing Saddles

Truly a classic in every sense of the word.



Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Madness Of Muslim–Even Female Children Are Not Safe…

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

wife-beat_new2Wrapped in the frenzied throes of religious stupidity, another girl child suffers. The story that follows is horrifying:

Only 14, Bangladeshi girl charged with adultery was lashed to death

Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.

Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public.

Hena dropped after 70.

Bloodied and bruised, she was taken to hospital, where she died a week later.

Amazingly, an initial autopsy report cited no injuries and deemed her death a suicide. Hena's family insisted her body be exhumed. They wanted the world to know what really happened to their daughter.

Islam is, of course, a hastily cobbled bit of manure stolen from Judaism, so it is no wonder that the misogyny came along with the compost. What’s even more inequitable, is this:

Hena's family hailed from rural Shariatpur, crisscrossed by murky rivers that lend waters to rice paddies and lush vegetable fields.

Hena was the youngest of five children born to Darbesh Khan, a day laborer, and his wife, Aklima Begum. They shared a hut made from corrugated tin and decaying wood and led a simple life that was suddenly marred a year ago with the return of Hena's cousin Mahbub Khan.

Pissing on the poor? Oh sure, Islam sure does inspire charity – but only if you’re wealthy.

Mahbub Khan came back to Shariatpur from a stint working in Malaysia. His son was Hena's age and the two were in seventh grade together.

Khan eyed Hena and began harassing her on her way to school and back, said Hena's father. He complained to the elders who run the village about his nephew, three times Hena's age.

Yes, this is way more than ‘boys-will-be-boys’ behavior. It’s a huge red flag, at least in civilized countries.

The elders admonished Mahbub Khan and ordered him to pay $1,000 in fines to Hena's family. But Mahbub was Darbesh's older brother's son and Darbesh was asked to let the matter fade.

Predictably, it went south very quickly.

Many months later on a winter night, as Hena's sister Alya told it, Hena was walking from her room to an outdoor toilet when Mahbub Khan gagged her with cloth, forced her behind nearby shrubbery and beat and raped her.

Mahbub is quite obviously a sexual predator.It gets worse, fast.

Hena struggled to escape, Alya told CNN. Mahbub Khan's wife heard Hena's muffled screams and when she found Hena with her husband, she dragged the teenage girl back to her hut, beat her and trampled her on the floor.

In a culture that sanctifies men and spits on women, this is all to common.

The next day, the village elders met to discuss the case at Mahbub Khan's house, Alya said. The imam pronounced his fatwa. Khan and Hena were found guilty of an illicit relationship. Her punishment under sharia or Islamic law was 101 lashes; his 201.

This imam should be shot.

Mahbub Khan managed to escape after the first few lashes.

And then he bolts? Charming. Wouldn’t mind spending a few hours in a room with ‘Bub Khan.

Darbesh Khan and Aklima Begum had no choice but to mind the imam's order. They watched as the whip broke the skin of their youngest child and she fell unconscious to the ground.

"What happened to Hena is unfortunate and we all have to be ashamed that we couldn't save her life," said Sultana Kamal, who heads the rights organization Ain o Shalish Kendro.

What most of these folks don’t realize, is that they’re simply enabling the crazies with their obnoxious superstition.

Bangladesh is considered a democratic and moderate Muslim country, and national law forbids the practice of sharia. But activist and journalist Shoaib Choudhury, who documents such cases, said sharia is still very much in use in villages and towns aided by the lack of education and strong judicial systems.

The Supreme Court also outlawed fatwas a decade ago, but human rights monitors have documented more than 500 cases of women in those 10 years who were punished through a religious ruling. And few who have issued such rulings have been charged.

They should probably get right on that shit, but accommodationists are everywhere, in every country it seems. The US alone teems with millions of them.

The government needs to enact a specific law to deal with such perpetrators responsible for extrajudicial penalty in the name of Islam.
--Sultana Kamal, head of rights organization Ain o Shalish Kendro.

(Strikethrough mine)

Last month, the court asked the government to explain what it had done to stop extrajudicial penalty based on fatwa. It ordered the dissemination of information to all mosques and madrassas, or religious schools, that sharia is illegal in Bangladesh.

I’d be willing to bet this has been done before.

The United Nations estimates that almost half of Bangladeshi women suffer from domestic violence and many also commonly endure rape, beatings, acid attacks and even death because of the country's entrenched patriarchal system.

Oh yeah – the same assholes who tried to pass some ‘bill’ prohibiting attacks on religion, but when crazies hide under the religious umbrella, nobody sees them.

There was some action taken because of the media furor, though:

Monday, the doctors responsible for Hena's first autopsy faced prosecution for what a court called a "false post-mortem report to hide the real cause of Hena's death."

Public outrage sparked by that autopsy report prompted the high court to order the exhumation of Hena's body in February. A second autopsy performed at Dhaka Medical College Hospital revealed Hena had died of internal bleeding and her body bore the marks of severe injuries.

Police are now conducting an investigation and have arrested several people, including Mahbub Khan, in connection with Hena's death.

Normally I’m a pacifistic fellow, but I wouldn’t object to stringing these animals up. And there’s more reason in the following:

Police were guarding Hena's family earlier this month. Darbesh and Aklima feared reprisal for having spoken out against the imam and the village elders.

They had meted out the most severe punishment for their youngest daughter. They could put nothing past them.

Because religion is little more than a boot upon the neck of the poverty-stricken. It is nothing more than the excuse used by the savage to prey upon the weak and the weak-minded. Religion is not the root cause of problems in our world, but rather the flimsy centuries-old excuse used to inflict injury, both mental and physical, the psychotic’s alibi for brutality.

How I yearn for the day that there is no religion. No more excuses, no more free passes. But still that day is far away, and not likely in my lifetime.

Till the next post, then.


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Tuesday Funny - SNL 'Jizz In My Pants'

Rude crude and socially unacceptable...
...but funny nonetheless.

I could come up with a number of euphemisms - but I'll leave it to my readers (all 12 of them).