The Odd Blog

And when our cubs grow / We'll show you what war is good for

Posts Tagged ‘religion’

You know, I wish people who would opine on the Constitution would actually learn something about it first. Ditto for people who opine on Atheism and Atheists.

Posted by That Other Mike on 20/12/2011

Founded on Christian principles, huh? Christian principles like separation of church and state and there being no religious tests for office? Yeah, you convinced me. What a powerful argument, etc.

And enough of the horseshit about Atheists – you are not only not qualified to talk about us, you are wrong in every particular, you obnoxious little religionist.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Why the fuck aren’t these people being arrested?!

Posted by That Other Mike on 25/11/2011

Churches Told Dying Patients They Were Cured

At least six people have died in Britain after being told that they had been healed of HIV, and could stop taking their medication.

There is evidence that evangelical churches in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow are claiming to cure HIV through God.

We sent three undercover reporters into the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) , which is based in Southwark, south London.

All of them told the pastors that they were HIV positive. All were told that they could be healed.

Once a month the church has a prayer line, where people from across Europe come to be cured of all kinds of illness.

At registration they have to hand over a doctor’s letter as evidence of their condition

They are filmed giving before and after testimonies, which are put on SCOAN’s website.

The healing process involves the pastor shouting, over the person being healed, for the devil to come out of their body, and spraying water in their face.

One of the pastors, Rachel Holmes, told our reporter, Shatila, who is a genuine HIV sufferer, they had a 100% success rate.

“We have many people that contract HIV. All are healed.”

She said if symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea persist, it is actually a sign of the virus leaving the body.

“We’ve had people come back before saying ‘Oh I’m not healed. The diarrhoea I had when I had HIV, I’ve got it again.’ I have to stop them and say ‘no, please, you are free.'”

SCOAN told our reporters they would be able to discard their medication after their healing and that they would be free to start a family.

Former health secretary Lord Fowler, who led the HIV/Aids awareness drive in the 1980s, says this message is dangerous.

“It is foolish advice and it is tragic advice because the consequences of this kind of advice can only be that people pass on HIV and can only be seriously bad for the individual concerned – including death.”

Medical professionals have told Sky News of at least six patients who have died after being told by various churches to stop taking their HIV tablets.

Emmanuel came off his medication a year ago, on the instructions of a pastor at his church in North London.

“He told me I’d been healed: ‘You’ve got to stop taking the medicine now. I’ll keep praying for you. Once God forgives you then the disease will definitely go.'”

Emmanuel admits he suspects he may have passed his HIV onto his boyfriend.

“Yeah, I think I’ve passed it on. He got ill. Physically he’s lost some bit of weight. He’s very small. I think he’s worried… Yeah I feel guilty, if I’m the one who passed it onto him I’m feeling guilty. Yeah very much guilty.”

The Synagogue Church of All Nations is wealthy. It has branches across the globe and its own TV channel.

On its website it promotes its anointing water, which is used during the healing, and it also makes money from merchandise, such as DVDs, CDs and books.

Church members are expected to give regular donations.

It is also a registered UK charity. The Charity Commission is looking at our findings.

The Department of Health says it is very concerned: “Our advice is clear that faith and prayer are not a substitute for any form of treatment, especially for HIV treatment.”

Sky News asked the church for its response to our investigation. Here is its statement:

“We are not the Healer; God is the Healer. Never a sickness God cannot heal. Never a disease God cannot cure. Never a burden God cannot bear. Never a problem God cannot solve.

“To His power, nothing is impossible. We have not done anything to bring about healing, deliverance or prosperity. If somebody is healed, it is God who heals.

“We must have a genuine desire if we come to God. We are not in position to question anybody’s genuine desire. Only God knows if one comes with true desire. Only God can determine this.

“That is why, if anybody comes in the name of God, we pray for them. The outcome of the prayer will determine if they come genuinely or not.”

Seriously, why aren’t these fuckers being dragged off in handcuffs? They’re lying to people and causing them to die!

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Science and Religion

Posted by That Other Mike on 19/09/2010

It’s old news, but still funny…


Posted in Atheism, funny, Politics, science | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Unconscienced?

Posted by That Other Mike on 27/03/2010

Shorter Evil Ned Flanders, Eternally Twatters
Unconscionable
The fact that all the supposedly celibate Catholic priests who attacked young choirboys are men means that all homos are pedos, and the fact that the world at large views this as an unconscionable slur on the millions of non-rapist homos is a sign of political correctness gone mad!

It is emphatically not a case of pedophiles preying on the nearest available child in a hierarchy arranged almost solely of men, no sir, no way, no how. I will admit, grudgingly, that the Pope was naughty not to fire the priests, but that’s about it. Anyway, the fact that they were men makes my flaming homophobia A-OK!

In my next post, watch as I explain how the existence of Black crack addicts make it OK for me to say “nigger!”

Even Shorter Neil Simpson, Ike Turner-ty Matters:
Unconscionable

Fuckin’ fags. Am I controversial and douchey enough to be Pat Robertson’s One True Heir yet?

Posted in Atheism, blogging, Odds and Sods, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

-1 means he’s 11…

Posted by That Other Mike on 11/12/2008

So this guy Twelve shows up here. I made a couple of comments on a post of his a while back, the comments of which turned into a Thread That Would Not Die! Presumably, he’s been led here by a referrer or by clicking on my name or something; that’s not really important. He then made a looooooooooooong comment on a post I wrote some time ago called Fools, Damned Fools And Christians.

Oddly enough, I couldn’t remember a damn thing about the post in question until I looked at it, and found that it was dedicated to making fun of some Christian who posted a bunch of stupid stuff. How unusual.

Anyway, this looooooooooooong comment of his was dedicated to criticising my post. That’s fine; I welcome controversy, and I’m always happy to be criticised, if only because it often helps sharpen one’s writing abilities.

In this case, however, it seems that I won’t need to strain myself too much.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hehehe…

Posted by That Other Mike on 30/10/2008

Hehehehe…

How true is this cartoon? A darkness supposedly filled with dragons which turn out never to have been there in the first place… A perfect metaphor.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Big Love, Small Love

Posted by That Other Mike on 12/10/2008

I’ve just recently been thinking about polygamy and gay marriage.

Big LoveThis has come from a number of different directions — I’ve been watching HBO’s Big Love via the On Demand service that comes with our cable TV.

The series is about a polygamist family of fundamentalist Mormons living secretly in a suburb of Salt Lake City, and the various troubles and difficulties it brings to them, both personally, professionally and in terms of their religion.

The series takes an even-handed look at the issues raised, not judging in favour of or against the practice. Of course, it also makes for good television; conflict is the root of all storytelling, and the conflicts between the public personas and private lives of the family create a lot of conflict.

Another source of inspiration has been the interwebs, as usual: in a recent comment to a post on my wife’s blog, for example, Truthwalker posited the following in regards to governmental influence and involvement in the subject of marriage:

I personally think that civil union should be the law. For everybody. Any two people, male, female, straight, gay, or sexually inactive, should be able to enter a legal relationship with the consenting person of their choosing where one person is the primary bread winner and the other does more non-monetary work.

Leaving aside the problematic assertion regarding one partner being the breadwinner and the other the housekeeper1, this also brings up another question: why should it only be two people involved?

The final source of inspiration, of course, has been the recent decision by the Supreme Court of Connecticut regarding the civil rights of gay couples. In a divided opinion given on the 10th October, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the State’s Constitution required that the government extend marriage rights to gay couples, by virtue of the State Constitution’s equal protection clause in Article 1, Section 20.

One of the commonest tropes used against gay marriage is the assertion that it will lead to all kinds of horribleness, like polygamy, bestiality and even child marriage.

Leaving aside the fact that the slippery slope is a logical fallacy, let’s take a look at some of the countries which have created gay marriage rights in the past decade or so. The Netherlands enacted same-sex marriage rights into law in 2001, Belgium in 2003, followed by Canada and Spain in 2005, South Africa in 2006. Norway is due to follow in 2009, after 16 years of civil partnerships. The following countries have created civil partnerships: Andorra, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay. The status of civil partnerships in these countries varies somewhat, with some having only partial rights while others are identical in all but legal name to marriage, with entirely identical rights, such as the UK, where people routinely refer to civil partnerships as gay marriage, legal titles notwithstanding.

Opponents of gay marriage have, as we’ve said, predicted all kinds of social doom and gloom as a result of various court rulings and laws creating the appropriate rights in law; various groups are trying busily to reverse them, as in California Proposition 8, all of which efforts are happily meeting with fierce opposition.

No such terrible consequences have occurred in any of the countries which have enacted gay marriage or civil partnership laws. You still cannot marry your dog, three of your friends, or children; . It’s almost insulting, really, to think that opponents of gay marriage think that people will fall for this kind of stuff, and none of these mooted dire consequences are likely to occur; child marriage and bestiality both fall under the heading of cruelty and meaningful consent, to a degree that most people find the very idea respulsive.

Likelihood of its occurrence aside, how do we object to new concepts of marriage like polygamy while freely assenting to the concept of gay marriage? Isn’t that contradictory and even hypocritical?

I would argue that it is not. While the institution of marriage is by no means perfect and acts in some ways as discriminatory towards single people, it does perform a useful social function: it provides for at least minimally stable homes for children; allows for people to express a solemn commitment to one another socially with a formal commitment; allows for the pooling of financial resources and shared prosperity; allows for partners to make legally binding decisions on behalf of children and loved-ones in the event of need; allows for partners to provide for each other in the event that they die intestate, and so on.

The extension of marriage rights to gay people simply broadens the categories of people who may marry each other, in much the same way that extension of interracial and interreligious marriage did. It provides for more stable families and couples, and as such, carries benefits to both the individuals involved and the society in which they live.

Polygamy, however, does not do this. While gay marriage simplifies, polygamy complicates. All the benefits of marriage, such as stability, combined financial responsibility, power of attorney in difficult situations, simplified inheritance and so on, all of these are unneccesarily complicated by the addition of extra members. What if the wives2 disagree over who should have power of attorney when their husband is in hospital? Who decides who inherits what in the event of a death? While these are not insoluble problems, they represent a big enough sphere of difficulties to argue against enshrining officially recognised polygamy into law; they would create monstrous legal headaches, and the alleged benefits of polygamy would be far, far outweighed by the problems caused. That’s even leaving aside the issue, frequent enough in the past to remain a possible future concern, of young people entering polygamous marriages before the age of consent or even too soon afterwards.

While I’m concerned for the right of people to live as they wish, I can also see a valid point of distinction between leaving others alone to conduct their private affairs as they see fit and making them into legal entities. I cannot in all honesty see that the enshrinement of polygamy into law serves individuals or the society they reside in, practically or otherwise.


1This is troubling to me, I must admit; not only because it buys into the idea that there should be strictly defined roles within marriage, but also because it’s profoundly unrealistic. The “traditional” ideal of marriage which social conservatives most fervently posit as orthodox marriage fails to admit that this model was only true for a tiny minority of people across a short period of time, and it is even more irrelevant today, when two-income families are the norm.
2I say wives here because it seems that most advocates of polygamy seem really to be advocating polygyny rather than true polygamy per se.

Posted in Odds and Sods, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Poetry Blogging and Religious Iconography

Posted by That Other Mike on 05/10/2008

In fictional terms, I’ve always been attracted by the elements of religion. If there’s one thing that can fairly be said about lots of religions in their favour, it’s that they often have a terrific sense of grandeur, at least to a point. Who couldn’t hear about the idea of a chariot pulling the sun across the sky and not be at least a little awed by the greatness of it?

I should rephrase the point about grandeur; they exhibit the kind of grandeur that one might feel if science and reliable sources of knowledge had never happened, the greatness of ideas that comes as a consequence of feeling alone, scared and naked in the face of an incomprehensible universe. In light of that, who wouldn’t be impressed by Thor and his hammer?

There is a kind of rough and ready sense to be made of things by use of religions, if you don’t have a reliable external source of comprehension; they make sense of things because they seem to apply a kind of order to the world which cannot necessarily be found without them.

While religions themselves have outlived their usefulness and been shown to be wrong in every sphere, from morality to the very structure of the world to the origins of life, their iconography still has a powerful hold.

Guido Reni's conception of the Archangel MichaelI have a particular fascination with angels, no doubt partly inspired by finding out about the existence of the eponymous Archangel from whom my name derives, but also because I find the idea of the personification of abstractions to be, well, fascinating.

The Archangels and their attendant hosts are truly a marvellous invention in terms of religious iconography; they represent a true extension of the idea of a hidden and mysterious god. Paradoxically, they affirm the mystery and distance of the godhead by creating a buffer between the deity and its worshippers onto which the supposed minutiae of the daily running of the universe can be projected and onto which they can focus.

In this, they affirm that God is mysterious and unknowable, but also that he has a finger in every pie, so to speak.

Anyway, this post was inspired, at least partially, by Johnny Cash; I was listening to American IV: The Man Comes Around again, the eponymous first song of which features Cash quoting the Book of Revelation:

[..] and I heard, as it were
the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying,
Come and see.
And I saw, and behold a white horse…

[…]

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts…
And I looked and behold, a pale horse
And his name that sat on him was Death
And Hell followed with him

This is what prompted me to start thinking about religious iconography in the first place. It’s a barnstormer of a song, even allowing for the fact that it’s religious in nature; it’s full of religious imagery and references, most of it relating to the end of the world and the second coming.

And this triggered the portion of my brain which jumps to the nearest related topic, otherwise known as the bunnytrail node, and then I recalled the following poem, by Yeats, which is called The Second Coming:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The poem was written in this form following the First World War, and also references the various revolutions which had preceded it, and apparently also refers to Yeats’s ideas about the end of the world and the collapse of civilisation, an event which he seems to greet with no small amount of satisfaction, I might add. A sentiment I kind of share; there’s something fulfilling about a neat and tidy apocalypse.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Hotbuttons

Posted by That Other Mike on 10/08/2008

There are some topics on the internet which arouse a lot of ferocious argument. They tend to be pretty obvious – people’s hot buttons are pretty consistent in most cases, whether on the net or off.

The subject of politics figures pretty highly, of course, as does religion, in all its aspects. As an example, the consistently-busiest tag categories on WordPress seem to be on politics, religion, atheism and similar.
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Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Aaarrr, Jim Lad, and other pirate noises

Posted by That Other Mike on 29/05/2008

Over the weekend, I developed some pain in my lower back. I was rather mystified, as I hadn’t done anything to injure it that I knew of, and it seemed to go away on Monday.

Tuesday saw it come back and be quite painful, and yesterday I was off work all day. It wasn’t a constant pain, but it would twinge and be excruciating, and it seemed to have extended into my right hip, as well. I managed to get up and get dressed, but I couldn’t make it even to the end of the street before it got too bad for me to handle, and so I spent the day at home, saying “Ow…” every so often and feeling self-pitying.

Luckily as it happens, on Tuesday I’d made an appointment with the doctor for today, and I managed to hobble up there this morning to see him.

Apparently the problem is in the Sacroiliac joint, and it is called Sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Basically, it’s a problem of movement where the spine joins the pelvis; it’s very common, usually remedies itself through movement and often comes from simply sleeping in a funny position.

There’s not much to be done about it in the short term except to swallow painkillers and attempt to maintain a normal range of movement. If it remains a persistent problem, I can visit a chiropractor (I would only ever visit a McTimoney’s practitioner, of which there is a school locally). For now, I just have to wait and hope it’ll work itself out.

He also gave me a huge prescription for cocodamol; while I can usually buy it over the counter, it’s also relatively expensive to do so. This way, I get my 200(!) pills for just the cost of a prescription charge, which is cool.

So, nothing to worry too hard about. On the negative side, I did forget to ask about getting a refill on my sleeping pills, even though I don’t use them that often. Oh, well. I can manage without. I have a few left.

* * *

In other news, today is the last day for you to nominate douchebags and arseholes for the anti-carnival; I have a large number, which I will be whittling down to a small core of evil shitheadery for Friday.

Please feel free to nominate anyone who’s annoyed you lately.

* * *

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here are your weekly recommendations in honour of Thor.
Cosmodaddy has an interesting and well thought-out piece on his blog at the moment regarding the intersection of various conflicting rights and freedoms under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation Regulations) Regulations 2007. Well worth a read.

Despite being a massive jerk most of the time, Robert over at Expat Yank has a legitimate criticism piece up about the rise of sensationalist public service messages by the UK government.

The ever-clever Greg Laden has a guest blogger doing a statistical experiment about the levels of science present in science blogs.

Lottie has A Question of Ethics, in which she discusses the ethics of blogging about personal issues and problems in a truthful manner while using a pseudonym.

Gary talks about Hollywood woo and stupidity, illustrating exactly why Sharon Stone’s opinion on anything besides acting should not be taken seriously.

Helen at Bird of Paradox wrote a little while ago about gender neutral pronouns and the attempt to bring in artificial GNPs.

That’s all for now, folks.

Edit: Ampersand has a good post about the minimum wage over at Alas, A Blog, relating to Krueger and Card’s well-known studies. Definitely worth reading.

Posted in news, Odds and Sods | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »