philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Considering Aronofsky's Noah Film

1. The Ridiculous Bible Story

Noah has long been a bit of a punching bag when it comes to criticising religion. Certainly when Christians are deciding which stories to reject as fables, the truth of the Noah story seems to be rejected quicker even than the truth of the Adam and Eve story. And I can understand that.

Both stories have a clear problem with a population bottleneck, at the end of the story we are expected to believe that just a very few people are going to need to produce the entire human race through centuries of inbreeding and it's generally just presumed that God would have to make it work somehow. But the Noah story also brings in some very concrete and obvious logistical issues that are much harder to ignore.
- How does Noah gather up the animals?
- How does he make space for all of them in one craft?
- How does he keep them from eating one another during the long time at sea?
- How does he feed them if they cannot eat each other?
- How does he clean up the excrement of this varied group of animals?
Read more... )

2. Aronofsky's Graphic Novel

So how is Aronofsky going to make this story compelling for modern audiences? Well, now I've had a chance to check out the graphic novel Aronofsky is basing this one there are several clear reasons why this is compelling. And they might be rather surprising to anyone who is seen the rather uninspiring trailer.

The graphic novel is, essentially, science fiction.

Yes, you read that right.

Read more... )

3. The Target Audience?

Which is why it is so annoying that the trailers for the Noah movie seem to avoid suggesting that there is any kind of interesting reinvention of the story present. It looks mostly like a bland by-the-numbers version of the story. There's a simple reason for that though and it's not hard to work out. Conservative literalist and hardcore Christians came out by their droves to see "Passion of the Christ". They are saving the recent "Son of God" from being a complete flop. The Bible has a massive fandom and the studio funding "Noah" do NOT want to miss out on this.

Read more... )

4. Poor Marketing

The trailer could be said to mislead the audience because it looks like a simple retelling of the Noah story. But actually there are loads of snippets of the imagery Aronofsky intends to employ. They are just buried as a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments.

This includes Noah with a flaming sword:

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

But remember, Jesus wasn't a zombie... He was a Lich. (Explanation below.)

(click here or on the image to see it slightly bigger)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Some "big news" recently that the woman who worked for British Airways who had already won a ruling to allow her to wear a cross in the workplace, has now taken that same case to the European Court of Human Rights and proven that she has the same right there too.

Cue ridiculously misleading headlines:
The Independent: "Christian woman wins landmark discrimination case."
("Landmark"? Seriously?)

The FT: "BA employee wins right to wear cross."
(She already HAD that right. FFS!)

And of course, the Daily Fail: "'Thank You Jesus' Christian British Airways employee tell of joy as after European court finds she DID face discrimination over silver cross."
(Thanks Jesus! You've allowed a court to re-state the obvious! Well done!)

What most of the coverage is failing to make clear is that there were in fact FOUR court cases being brought before the ECHR and the other three ALL LOST their court cases.

One of those who lost their court case was Gary McFarlane, a relationship counsellor who refused to counsel gay couples because of his religious views. I previously posted an interview with him here (shocked at the lack of opposing voices provided in the interview, but fairly pleased with the amount of pressure placed by the interviewer himself).

The other two were:
- Lillian Ladele, a chaplain who refused to perform civil partnerships. It has now been decided that her wish to discriminate on religious grounds does not trump gay rights or the requirements of her employers.

- Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who had refused to accept the option of wearing a cross a different way in her workplace, such as in the form of a lapel pin. She lost the case that wearing the cross on a chain, which is against the uniform rules for nurses in UK hospitals, was a necessary part of her freedom of religious expression in the workplace.

Andrew Copson, as always, delivers some proper common sense below:

(video link)

Interestingly, a google image search for "ECHR religion rulings" mostly comes up with images related to a case from 2010 where a woman was unable to get her abortion within Ireland in spite of a risk to her life. There were a lot of protests against the ruling by anti-choicers, but perhaps if Ireland had taken that case a little more seriously (since unlike the above, it actually contradicted their own rulings) Savita might still be alive.

(cross-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Seriously.... best frikkin' SMBC comic ever....
(Via SMBC Comics)

I'm afraid this is all one image so there's no way to put it partially under a cut. Hope you all think it's as worthy of the space on your f-list as I do. :)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Religious leaders furious over Norway’s proposed circumcision ban

by Barry Duke

JENNY Klinge,  Norway’s Centre Party justice policy spokeswoman, has angered religious leaders by condemning the ritual circumcision of infant boys. Calling it “outdated” and “dangerous”, she called for its ban. She said:

In my view, this is a custom that we cannot accept in a modern, civilized society. Our aim is to prioritise the rights of small children. Fortunately, it has become forbidden to circumcise girls, now it’s time for boys to get the same legal protection.

Jenny Klinge says the ritual circumcision of infant boys is barbarous

She stressed that boys who have been ritually circumcised can never remove what she called “a religious marker” if they choose to convert to another religion or have no religious beliefs.

I’m not buying the argument that banning circumcision is a violation of religious freedom, because such freedom must involve being able to choose for themselves.

Read more... )

Glen Poole, Strategic Director of The Men’s Network in Brighton & Hove, reports on his Ending Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK blog that the proposed ban had also been condemned by Espen Ottosen, Information Director of Misjonssambandet (Federation of Christian Missionaries), and a Muslim Norwegian physician, Mohammad Usman Rana, who voiced his opposition in a newspaper article entitled Circumcision: Those who will forbid circumcision of young boys in reality invite a totalitarian guardian-state.

Poole points out that pro-circumcisionists claim:

To circumcise boys is a minor operation. Internationally there is a plethora of medical studies which report few complications. We know that the procedure actually provides health benefits.  Urinary tract infections for example are far less common among circumcised boys.  The risk of HIV contamination is also reduced.

Poole counters:

We say all the reported health benefits have either been disproven, contradicted or considered too insignificant to justify the agreed risks and complications which include bleeding, infections, meatus stenosis (narrowing of the urethra) and panic attacks. There isn’t a single medical association in the world that supports the procedure. 

The British Medical Association, for example, stated in 2003 that ‘the medical benefits previously claimed have not been convincingly proven’ and ‘that the evidence concerning health benefits from non-therapeutic circumcision is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for doing it.

(Source: The Freethinker)

Nothing much to add to this except that I find it amusing to see a religious objection that protecting young children from abuse is "totalitarian". 'My goodness, laws against the mutilation of young boy's genitals? Parts of young children cut off in the privacy of my own home should be of no consequence to the government. It's the nanny state I say!'

Pretty much the only argument against this law is "what about freedom of religion?" and, to be frank, it's not looking like a strong case. You could make a similar argument for human sacrifice, though that has the added benefit that at least the person affected would be doing it of their own free will.

(x-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

(video link)

This time Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the representative of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland decides to come out with the same BS that we've seen in the past. He says that Christians are being persecuted for wearing crosses in public.

0:31 Beginning of relevant report.
2:24 Interview with Andrew Copson on the issue.

Andrew Copson from the British Humanist Association strikes again. Once again he explains very clearly and diplomatically why the latest "Christians are being marginalised" story is BS. (His phrasing: "their claims have very little basis in fact" rather than "they are making s**t up".)

Also liking the new beard. :)

Cardinal O'Brien has previously claimed that when the New Labour government were in power there was "a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values". Why's this? The introduction of civil partnerships, allowing adoption by same-sex couples, allowing embryo research and not passing a law to lower the legal time limit in which an abortion may be carried out. He also referred to the Equality Bill as "legislation which would completely and permanently undermine religious freedom". And now he has the audacity to push the lie that Christians' rights to wear crosses are under attack. Ugh!

(cross posted to [ profile] atheism )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
(Short answer is "no" btw..., but there's more.)

Interesting article.

The article states its focus as follows:
"Joseph Ratzinger knows that he can’t aim his pious invective at the Jewish people as his predecessors did. So this most contemporary pope takes aim at the next best enemy of his faith: atheists. It’s another blood libel in the making."

Now it's quote strong words to call Ratzinger's rants against atheism equivalent to the blood libel against the Jews. But I think the point is that if Ratzinger still held the politcal power that Popes of the past did, this would be a great deal more worrying.

That said, the rise of secularism and the Church's waning reputation are precisely why Ratzinger is making comments like this in the first place. Personally I see this not as a worrying blood libel, but as another example of the Pope talking out of his arse.

However, I think the article may have a point that ranting about atheists is a more publically acceptable alternative to ranting about Jews. Apparently there's been a recent shift of people moving out of the Church because of its dealings with the "Legion of Christ" religious order, whose leader is known to have been a drug addict involved in a string of sexual abuses including paedophilia. Meanwhile seemingly in the same week there's been an uproar over a bishop in the "Society of Pius X" blogging the blood libel. The fallout of this specifically anti-semitic issue forms the context for Ratzinger's speech in Assisi.

When the focus is on the crimes of religion, how can he shift the blame? The answer is simple: lie.

"The enemies of religion – as we said earlier – see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.

"Yet I do not intend to speak further here about state-imposed atheism....

Now Ratzinger knows damn well that the Third Reich did not have state-imposed atheism. He also knows that the holocaust was fuelled by anti-semitism, often backed up by Christians. Even Martin Niemoller, remember for his poem "First They Came..." is known to have committed the blood libel. The fact is that anti-semitism was a fact of life for most people at the time and using religious, specifically Christian, excuses for bigotry against Jews was far from uncommon in Germany long before the Nazis gained power. In fact, this bigotry was, for many Germans, an incentive to elect Hitler in the first place as a strong leader entrenched in good Christian values.

What's more, for many Jews expressing God's absence was the consequence of experiences in the camps, not the other way around.

So why does Ratzinger, who grew up in Nazi Germany, put the blame for the camps on atheists? They're a handy scapegoat and one that much of his audience will readily accept.

Meanwhile Ratzinger informs us that agnostics choose to be agnostic because really they are "they are seeking the true God". While I can imagine a few agnostics agreeing with that, it's pretty condescending at heart. "You know when you said you weren't sure that there's a God? Well that's just because you were searching for the real God. I guarantee that you are most likely to find Him if you check out our traditions. Go ahead, dive right in!" - Yeah, f***ing charming...

In other news, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have asked Susan Sarandon to apologise for calling the Pope a "Nazi". Because "it only serves to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust". Perhaps they should talk to the Pope about that little issue too....?

(Via Butterflies and Wheels)
(Also several articles used on "The Freethinker")
(Ratzinger's full speech)

x-posted to atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Okay, so I just heard of her for the first time ever the other night when she appeared on the BBC Radio Comedy show "Museum of Curiosity". I've got lots to say about what I've come across, but for now I'll simply leave you with this transcript of her bits on the show.

Remember that it's a comedy show, so she's being intentionally flippant and her fellow contributors to the "museum" aren't taking it all entirely seriously either:

Host: Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou is the senior lecturer of theology at the university of Exeter, a member of the European Association of Biblical Studies and the presenter and writer of the BBC series "The Bible's Buried Secret". She also happens to be an atheist.

What's more, her time on TV has been spent arguing that Moses never existed, and that the Bible was re-written to malign Eve and erase God's wife from memory.

So Francesca, God's wife who was she then?

Francesca Stavrakopoulou: Well, she's a goddess called Asherah who was responsible for various life-giving functions in the earthly realm along with her consort, her husband, Yahweh. She's kind of fairly well known throughout the ancient Near East and she's pretty cool.

Co-contributor: What was she called again?

Francesca Stavrakopoulou: Asherah.

Co-contributor: So God was married?

Francesca Stavrakopoulou: Hmmm.

Co-contributor: Wow. I imagine that was a big spread in Hello wasn't it?

Francesca Stavrakopoulou: But he divorced her and she didn't do quite so well in the divorce settlement. The God that's worshipped today by Jews, Christians and Muslims isn't the same as the God that the Bible was written about - and that God actually was the God who was married.
Host: That's really remarkable, I mean this has been kept a pretty tight secret then?

Francesca Stavrakopoulou: Really it's like a testimony to how bad scholars are at just communicating stuff that we talk about, because we've been talking about it for a long time. But a lot of people disagree with me. Anne Widdecombe disagrees with me.

Co-contributor: I think calling her "a lot of people" is a bit cruel.

The rest is under the cut... )
Cross-posted to atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)
I previously posted an article about Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, entitled "The Slow Whiny Death of British Christianity". I also included a video about how a Christian bigot's appeal that his discriminatory practices ought to be somehow defended by law were answered with the following claim by the judge:
"Religion is entirely subjective, not objective. It's beliefs and practices are therefore completely irrational and have no basis whatever in fact... The protection of religious beliefs and practices are divisive, capricious and arbitrary."
(The guy who made the video noted that these words will now act as a precedent in future civil suits.)

Anyway, the bigot himself appeared on Radio Four recently and I was quite shocked to see him being sought out for an opinion, especially considering that there were no other interviewees to counter some of his ludicrous assertions (though admittedly the interviewer made a special effort to very diplomatically make up for this lack of balance).

Interviewer: The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, publishes a leaflet today, it’s called “Not Ashamed”, encouraging Christians to defend their faith which, he says, is under attack in an increasingly secular society. Among those who support Lord Carey’s alarm, Gary McFarlane is a man who’s often used as an example of some contemporary attitudes. He was a counsellor working for Relate. You may remember the story. He objected to giving therapy to gay couples because it was in conflict with his own personal beliefs. He lost his job as a result and he failed to get the high court to back him. And he’s with us now. Good morning.

Gary McFarlane: Good morning.

Read more... )

…but essentially what we’re dealing with is my ability to live out my faith in the way that I would seek to do as other faiths are actually entitled, indeed encouraged, to do.

I: Do you think that’s changed in the last few years?

Significantly so, in the sense that other faiths are given rights, are championed, if there is, for example, a festive occasion arising, then the systems, the NHS, will actually give those individuals rights. I have to look behind me, almost metaphorically speaking, to check “Where am I?” in case I’m going to have a conversation about the things of the Bible, Jesus Christ, in case it might offend somebody. I have to be cautious.

Read more... )

Asides from the introductory bit at the beginning, the section I have left visible (the rest is under the cut) shows McFarlane trying to claim that he is somehow disallowed from expressing his faith in the ways that others do. This is a rather sensible way of phrasing it disguises the fact that the principles of secularism (which he claims to be opposing) are actually intended to ensure that all people can express their beliefs equally regardless of religious affiliation (presuming that expression of those beliefs do not undermine important individual rights).

The thing is that he gives no examples of how he has less rights than any other religion. Do other religions have to avoid offending people? Heck, hate-preaching Imams and Fred Phelps are both similarly barred from entering the country. Not Pope Benedict though, so I guess that gives Christianity the upper hand, wouldn't you say?

As for special effort to celebrate religious festivals, this isn't America! Christmas lights are all over the town. There is Christmas stuff everywhere. We're not celebrating Hannukah right now (BTW Happy Hanukah!!!! all those who are celebrating that right now! :)) and I've long expressed my wish to include Diwali amongst our national festivals. (Experienced Diwali night in India and loved it, y'see.) Public celebration of Christian festivals is not an issue in the UK. This is just another example of an irrational believer in the bizarre "war on Christmas" myth. Give it a rest!

(To those people who are actually Christian on my f-list, please note that I do realise that this moron is expressing a minority position amongst Christians, in the UK at least, however that's precisely why it annoyed me to see this bigot being given time to express his views on a popular national radio station.)

X-Posted to [ profile] atheism 
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Well, Mr. Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, wishes to let us know that he thinks the Church is on its last legs. And yet we've still got Bishops with guaranteed seats in the House of Lords. This is no good!

Anyway, the big issue is this stupid Covenant thing he wants to introduce. The issue is that it will force all the Churches to agree before they can accept any new stuff. Basically it means that the ultra-conservative and bigoted elements within African Churches will guarantee that there is no progression in the Church again. So yeah, nothankyouverymuch. (Yet strangely, opponents of the covenant have been compared to the BNP. Oh dear me.)

Mr. Williams has this to say:
"There is no Plan B. If this falls, the communion is in ruins."

Well, as much as I hate to say it, that probably means this is the end. All your nice Church buildings will simply be tourist attractions from now on... (Well, I say "I hate to say it", but presumably this means the end of those guaranteed House of Lords seats, doesn't it?)

Meanwhile, the Queen has a speech:
Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Okay, I've had a bad day of apologetics recommendations. (Well, just two actually, but anyway.) I don't seek this stuff out, but in two separate places it's been recommended to me and so I'm being actively encouraged to get pi***d off.

The second (and far more annoying) of the two recommendations came from [ profile] talk_religion in this entry. The piece of apologetics they link to says "oooh btw the verse in the Bible doesn't say girls must marry their rapist" and then goes on to say "stupid atheist should have known better".

(Please note: The two quotes above were paraphrased from the general gist of the article for the purpose of summarising and comic effect.) 

The apologist give three reasons why they disagree.

The first reasonRead more... )

The second reason Read more... )
The third reason is the only one I felt it necessary to comment on. And that was this:
The third reason is that, to interpret the law in Deut 21:28-29 as a rape is to make God the commander of a morally heinous command.
Oh I'm sorry. It's horrible, so we'll have to change it, eh? After all, that's obviously how you should read the Bible. You don't go into the Bible looking for moral truths. You go into the Bible interpreting it especially so it fits with your existing understanding of morality, don't you?

For me, this was quite enough. No need to make a big long explanation (as I have done above). This alone was enough to show how daft this whole thing was. I gave the following response:
So the reason it can't be translated as "rape" is because that would be horrible....

Yeah, that's some pretty lame apologetics right there.
Then I found myself following up with this:
I do wonder what his explanation is for punishing a woman who loses her virginity outside of marriage with stoning....
(Deut 23-24)
And that's when I got the following response and the naivety managed to quite severely enrage me. (I kept my annoyance restrained obviously, but even so. Grrrr!):
Well, ask. The website itself deals with a lot of biblical stuff and in interesting ways. He or she (there are two) might make it a blog post.
The basic gist of this response being "hey, if there's still some stuff you aren't sure of, maybe they can explain!" The commenter didn't seem to understand from my nice and restrained response to the initial article quite how ludicrous I would find this. My stance is that the initial article (which they recommended) was rubbish and quite possibly intentionally disingenuous. As such, I have little reason to think any follow-up articles won't be similarly rubbish and disingenuous.

The first line of my response to them was this:
There are tons of apologetics websites out there. What's so special about this one?

I'm not really terribly interested in apologetics, wherever it comes from. The fact is that there is tons of sexist stuff in the Bible and plenty of religious people who want to offer excuses for it.
I then looked into the article further and found a number of issues, and I'll quote the rest of my response below. The main discovery however, was that they were actually responding to an article from Michael Martin (amongst other things, the editor of the "Cambridge Companion To Atheism"). The article he wrote is available online and the point of it was not to start whining about particular verses in the Bible, but to respond to the idea that atheists can't have objective morality. His argument was intended to demonstrate that looking to the Bible for morality doesn't work and if there's one thing that the apologetics article failed to demonstrate in response to that, it's that the Bible is a clear source of moral precepts. In fact, they've shown, at very least, that there are clear language barriers and cultural barriers to interpretation, if not actually unconscionable recommendations for the treatment of women.

The rest of my response is quoted below. Including the bit where I get annoyed by yet another mistake in his references, this time for a passage from Aquinas. Grrr!:Read more... )
x-posted to [ profile] apololgetics 
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Earlier this year, Rice, who was raised a Catholic, lost her faith and returned to it in middle age, posted a message on Facebook. "I quit," she wrote. "In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen."

Given the unchanging nature of the Catholic church, the obvious question is, what took her so long? "Yes," she says, carefully. "I'm still stridently criticised by Catholics who say, you should've known, when you came back. But we all learn; isn't that part of life, that you learn? I joined with the best of intentions, thinking I knew this religion from childhood, thinking it's a fine religion, an honorable religion. Then I began to really study it and I found it was not an honorable religion, that it was not honest. Now, someone else, maybe, would draw totally different conclusions. But I think the argument that I didn't have a right to change my mind is absurd."

Attending mass became stressful. She had a terrible row with a priest friend. "He said Obama was just as bad as Joseph Stalin because of his allowing abortion. And I said, 'Are you seriously saying that? Do you know who Joseph Stalin really was and what he did?' And he wouldn't back down and there was no more discussion."

For years, she thought, if she studied the Bible hard enough she might work out the contradictions. "But then, as I increasingly saw what I thought was sophistry and lies, I thought: 'I can't abide this.' I can't remain with this. This is crazy. There is no basis in scripture for any anointed hierarchy, let alone a male hierarchy. It's just not there. And how in the world did this man-god die, preaching against the temple, and then we wind up with St Peter's in Rome? How did that happen? There were so many issues where I thought the church was flat-out immoral. I had to leave."

I must say, I was one of the people saying "how could you not know?" However, I cannot help but feel like I understand the sentiment in the interview here. I really do see how the Church can seem quite attractive when you don't look too far into scriptural dictats, hierarchy or history. When I visited St. Peter's in the Vatican City I found the experience very powerful indeed (even if the expense of the building doesn't quite feel in keeping with the teachings of the religion - though naturally the expected response would be that the cost of the Church is dedicated to God and not the possession of a rich man). In the end though, you cannot remain in a religion for long without recognising its politics. I know some Catholics are hoping for big changes in Church politics, but those changes are looking pretty remote right now.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Suspension of the Defection Process

In April of this year, the Catholic Church modified the Code of Canon Law to remove all references to the act of formal defection, the process used by those who wish to formally renounce their membership of the Church.

Since then, the Catholic Church in Ireland has been reflecting on the implications of this change for those who wish to leave the Catholic Church. Despite our requests for clarification, the Church have yet to reach a firm position on how or whether they will continue to accept requests for the annotation of the baptismal register.

In recent weeks we have been contacted by an increasing number of people whose defections have not been processed, due to the limbo created by this canon law amendment.

Because of this uncertainty, we have taken the decision to suspend the creation of declarations of defection via from today (12th October 2010).

In response to this, the Church in Ireland released the following statement to RTE News:

The Holy See confirmed at the end of August that it was introducing changes to Canon Law and as a result it will no longer be possible to formally defect from the Catholic Church. This will not alter the fact that many people can defect from the Church, and continue to do so, albeit not through a formal process. This is a change that will affect the Church throughout the world. The Archdiocese of Dublin plans to maintain a register to note the expressed desire of those who wish to defect. Details will be communicated to those involved in the process when they are finalised. Last year 229 people formally defected from the Church through the Archdiocese of Dublin. 312 have done so, so far this year.
Article continues here: (Source: The Irish "Count Me Out" website)
(Via The Friendly Atheist)

As if it wasn't hard enough to defect from the Catholic Church already. The article proceeds to explain that there are some countries where a formal document is required to avoid paying a Church Tax. There are also some requirements in relation to marriage.

Have the number of people wishing to defect from the Church really risen so high that they find it necessary to shut down the process entirely? Have organisations like "Count Me Out" been providing for a growing need in places like Ireland in the light of certain scandals in the Church? Then again, hasn't the Church always been rather disinclined to let people leave and wasn't the decision to prevent formal defection simply inevitable?

Removing references to defection from Canon law seems quite extreme whether looked at from the perspective of strong believers or defectors. Surely making sweeping deletions from the Canon law in relation to this issue is a little desperate?

(x-posted to atheism)
x-posted to [ profile] ontd_political 
philosoraptor42: (Default)

I'm very pleased to see that this includes the awesome David Schneider, who I first saw in various projects of Armando Iannucci such as "The Saturday Night Armistice" and "I'm Alan Partridge". (Armando more recently writes and directs "The Thick Of It".)

Another good video from the same guy.
Grey Guy Learns About The New World Order (other guy in the video is a comedian)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
I saw this awesome video a fair old while ago (before I saw Arj Barker in the awesome "Flight Of The Conchords"), but it was taken down pretty much everywhere all at once. Anywhere it seems to have appeared again. It's a spoof on Buddhism and it is absolutely f***ing GENIUS! (It seems that it's more fun the more familiar you are with Buddhism. Apparently during the video you can see him turning the Dharma wheel the wrong way. I've put the lyrics below under the cut.

Read more... )

Of course, as I've mentioned in the past, Buddhist rapping is not such a big break with tradition anymore.

Another rather insightful piece of religious satire I've seen recently is a BBC tv series called Rev. There's a clip here where a charismatic preacher visits. (It's not like "Vicar of Dibley". It's more like "The Thick Of It" only with clergy rather than politicians.) You may recognise Tom Hollander from the movie "In The Loop" and Olivia Colman from the early series' of "That Mitchell and Webb Look".
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John Milbank first notes that Ed Milliband, the new Labour leader in the UK, is actually an atheist. Something he has actually kept rather quiet. (This is by contrast to the current Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who is now deputy Prime Minister of the coalition government and announced his atheism several months prior to the last general election.) Since Milbank is writing for an Australian audience these days he compares this with the figure of Julia Gillard. (Goodness knows why he's now writing for an Australian publication. Perhaps his suggestions about how to "improve" feminism didn't go down so well with The Guardian.)

As per usual, John decides to name a load of different writers without giving much reason for his choices. So apparently Nietzsche, Heidegger, Carl Schmitt and Louis-Ferdinand Celine are all right-wingers who are darlings of the left-wing. Milbank follows this selection up by saying:
Atheist, and especially nihilistic, Right-wingers can be applauded, even if their thinking requires a little radical-chic tweaking. (The exception clearly is the Catholic Schmitt. But it is not accidental that the bleakness of his vision caused him to regard politics in a more or less nihilistic light.)
Sorry, hang on... Heidegger was also a Christian. I can only presume that John refuses to ackonwledge this because of Heidegger's well-known Nazi party membership. This is the first time I've heard of Louis-Ferdinand Celine, so I can't really comment. Apparently he wrote anti-semitic tracts but also inspired later writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre.

As for Nietzsche's "right wing credentials", Nietzsche does have some right-wing elements. However, he's not easy to pin down. He was most certainly against anti-semitism and nationalism. While most certainly a misogynist (in the footsteps of his early inspiration Arthur Schopenhauer), he believed it important that women be educated. (Amusingly at one point Nietzsche argues that women should not be kept to the kitchen... because the kitchen is far too important to leave to women. *facepalm*) The thing to point is firstly that I have as yet to hear Nietzsche touted as an important left-wing political thinker and secondly that Nietzsche, in spite of his misogynistic views, was actually a hero for many early feminists. Nietzsche's has all sorts of unusual perspectives to offer on a variety of topics and he writes with the firm intention of starting a fight. He wants you to disagree with him. His most important contribution to the history of western thought was his demolition of oppositional binaries. Whether it was war and peace, selfishness and piety, love and hate or good and evil, Nietzsche always tried to mix everything together to get us to see the wider picture.

Thus ends today's Nietzsche rant. On with the show...

So who are the contrasting left wing figures? "T.S. Eliot, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and Joseph Ratzinger." Oh yeah, he went there. Apparently Joseph Ratzinger is a left wing figure:
the Left bizarrely ignores the way in which they advocate an ethical critique of capitalism and propose alternatives that may be both more practical and more genuinely transformatory than the average run of Social Democratic proposals.
Yeah, I'm sorry, when did Joseph Ratzinger outline a practical proposal to solve issues of Capitalism? Also, isn't that a bit rich coming from a Pope who is trying to canonise one of his forebearers who was prepared to make a deal with fascists rather than risk the Marxists (who really did want to oppose capitalism) making any headway?
One can only conclude that what is really hated here is religion, along with certain moral stances that religion tends to advocate. And not just religion - more specifically Christianity, because the academic secular Left can sometimes forgive also Right-wing thematics if they derive from an Islamic source.
Of course, this is rubbish. If there were an Islamic figure that the left was really keen on then Milbank would not have hesitated to list it above along with all the white male authors he decided to mention. He refers to "the academic secular Left". If he'd referred to the left-wing media, he might have had more ground since we recently saw how Maryam Namazie (campaigning against the stoning of a woman for adultery) was left out of a debate to which she had been invited to contribute, while two apologists for stoning were given screen time. However, he has instead decided to talk about academic figures where, unlike with his own ranting here, the opinion tends to be more nuanced.

Of course, where he is absolutely right is where he mentions the "moral" stances religion tends to advocate. By moral he is, of course, referring to things which you and I would consider thoroughly immoral. The Pope has most notably contested the UK's equality laws. The Pope's moral stances appear to be opposition to gay rights, opposition to women's rights and opposition to police inquiries into Church figures. Excuse me if I don't think any of those stances are terribly "left-wing".
This prompts the question: can atheism sometimes be not just incidental to a political program, but lie at its very source - as Pope Bendict recently suggested on his visit to Britain?

I think that this can indeed be true of both ostensibly Right-wing and ostensibly Left-wing programs. The Nazis tried to disenchant the world by enthroning pure material force as the only reality: in conversations Hitler admitted that even his racist rantings were but a populist gloss upon this goal.

Stalin and Mao tried to disenchant the world by removing all traces of tradition and most traces of beauty from the world. For the problem with beauty is that it is too enigmatic and unsettling in its intimations of transcendence. Was the Cultural Revolution in China driven by socialism? Surely it was driven by a ferociously virulent and scientistic secularism.
Yeah "scientistic". A new word has just been invented.

What we are looking at here is the real crux of John Milbank's comments here. What he is basically saying is "the Pope is right. You atheists are all a bunch of Nazis".

It's one more excuse to add to John Milbank's absurd campaign for "Red Toryism" (i.e. I'm support the Tories but I'm actually really liberal donchaknow?).

At this point there's a (very) random aside about how awful Thatcher was, along with a claim that Thatcherism wasn't really compatible with religion (depsite Thatcher being a self-professed Christian).
Given the evidence that atheism itself can become a political program and seek to enact nihilism with dire results, should we not be worried about the gradual drift of the Labour party towards atheism, despite the genuine - though varied - pieties of both Blair and Brown? 

I would go further, and suggest that this drift towards atheism keeps exact pace with a retreat from any genuine radicalism. The party of R.H. Tawney, the party shaped by Methodism, by Anglo-Catholic socialism and the legacy of British philosophical Idealism, was a party that sought to create an entirely ethical market, whether through State intervention or (in my view more promisingly) through mutualist association.

But the largely secular party we have today essentially agrees with the Right about the inevitably amoral character of the market, a view that is increasingly backed-up by new modes of social Darwinism.
"New modes of social Darwinism"? What the hell is he on about?

By the way, the idea that "atheism and secularism are nihilistic" is a common refrain in John Milbank's work. Don't you just love how his method of justifying this position to his popular (rather than academic) audience, is to note how lovely and perfect one random unsuccessful political party was?

Let's also not forget that the "piety of Blair" apparently encouraged him that it was good idea to go to war with Iraq when we still hadn't finished our war with Afghanistan under the ridiculous pretense of weapons of mass destruction. In an interview with Michael Parkinson, Blair claimed that he asked God for guidance in this decision....

After a while of asserting that neo-liberalism and democratic socialism are pretty much the same thing before finally asserting that what they really need is Jesus, John Milbank finally calls atheism "totalitarian". But not before insisting that only atheists would have any problem with the monarchy and a political body traditionally run by the aristocracy and of course, we're opposed to Churches (rather than simply not wanting to make use of them ourselves) and we're opposed to the family (do I really need to explain how dodgy this assertion is in view of John Milbank's "critique" of feminism?):
A programmatic atheism is at work in the growing hostility to the Crown, to the House of Lords (which needs reform, not total mutation into a second House of Commons which would likely be a less radical body), to the Churches, to the family and to group-rights, and in favour of foxes, exclusively metropolitan life-styles and absolute value-pluralism.

Indeed, it can sometimes appear that for sections of today's Left, as for past totalitarianisms, a naturalistic atheism is the main program. This is why political categorisation is increasingly made in terms of attitudes to sexual issues, to traditional cultures and to religious belief, rather than to issues of substantive economic justice. 'Culture wars' have come to displace older debates about just distribution.

But the evidence of history is that the politics of atheism drifts towards a nihilism of the rule of power alone. The evidence is equally that advocacy of the sovereign power of the individual soon gives way in practice to the absolute power of the amoral market and of the sovereign State whose only purpose is itself.
As opposed to the sovereign state of the past whose only purpose was the sovereign.

John Milbank's full article can be found here.

I've also cut and pasted it below for the hell of it: 
Read more... )

Article discussed on ONTD_Political
Article discussed on Atheism
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Glastonbury abbey apologises after allowing Nicolas Cage to plug film

Ah yes, I can see why they'd be upset about Nicolas Cage being allowed into their sacred space. :P

Ok ok, so it's to plug a movie and so presumably the issue is they didn't want their Church turned into a Hollywood advertising spot, right? Well no....
Hollywood star broadcast live to US chat show from site thought to be King Arthur's grave

The director of Glastonbury abbey today apologised for any offence caused after allowing the Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage to promote his new film, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, from the site said to be King Arthur's grave.

Cage and a film crew were allowed into the abbey in the early hours of the morning so they could broadcast live to an American chat show earlier this year.

But some local people were upset that a film featuring magic was promoted in a place important for many Christians. One resident said he was "horrified and disgusted" that the abbey had been used to sell a film "full of sorcery and black magic".
Ok, first of all it was used for this during the early hours when no one was going to be using the Church for anything else. But yeah, I can see how there might be principle involved. Once they've been allowed to advertise their film there, how are you going to say no to the next lot of people who ask?

What I have absolutely no sympathy for is the whole "it involves magic and magic is eeeeevil" nonsense. Firstly, it's a f***ing Disney movie! Seriously, would they spouting this nonsense if someone asked to advertise a local production of Peter Pan on their notice board?

Secondly, your whole blooming religion is full of f***ing magic! How is Christ consumed in the bread and wine? Magic. How does God hear prayers all around the world? Magic. How does Christ's crucifixion have anything to do with human sin? Magic. The whole religion is full of magic.

And y'know what? The people who made that movie aren't promoting magic. It's fantasy, pure and simple. They don't have spells, they have a visual effects team.

Of course all real magicians are actors, whether they are trying to convince their audience that they can cut a person in two and then return put them back togther, or whether they are asking their audience to feel the presence of the holy spirit.

Little side note... )

It seems that the Glastonbury Abbey website actually makes it very clear that the Abbey is a tourist site. It is also a ruin, so it won't have a congregation. As such, the people complaining are actually locals getting upset over what happens in a public venue, not worshippers getting upset over a private place of worship that is occasionally rented out. Any suggestions I gave earlier that these guys might actually have a leg to stand on have been wholly shot in the foot now. Also, I had not been aware that Nicolas Cage actually lives in Glastonbury.

(x - posted to atheism)


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