Saturday, May 12, 2012

And so to a Sunday bagging of sundry religions and a celebration of loonism ......

(Above: thanks to anon, we start off Sunday with muscular Jesus, and plenty more Jesus portraits here).

The pond's been away from the Sydney Anglicans for some time, and now is terribly anxious.

Still no more from Michael Jensen, who seems stuck at chapter four of his Sins of Sydney septology (hmm, you only come across that word when loons talk of the Harry Potter septology. Is there hidden Sydney Anglican pagan code at work here? Is there something wrong with heptalogy?)

By golly, the pond has been off under the knife and back again, and still Jensen seems to have been stricken by the writer's block, the blank page and the empty canvas ...

On the other hand, the pond was vastly relieved that the Sydney Anglicans are Taking Jesus to all the nations, including:

... two missions in regional NSW (South Tamworth and Glen Innes) and one to Papua New Guinea.

It's well known around the world that South Tamworth is full of barbarous, primitive, dissolute people, way worse than any stray headhunter you might discover in the highlands of New Guinea. Redeem them, Sydney Anglicans, or send them to hell.

But enough of angry Anglicans. These days there seems to be a trend in high end American magazines to find a little space for Islamic studies.

In the New York Review of Books, Christopher de Bellaigue recently wrote In the Supreme Shrine (currently outside the paywall) and a cynic might well reel away from it imagining a juxtaposition of a trip to Lourdes mixed with a visit to Disneyland.

That mood grows even stronger if you read Basharat Peer's Modern Mecca The transformation of a holy city (sorry, inside The New Yorker paywall), with its casual juxtaposition of idle superstitions and hideous modern transformation of the site into a kind of up-market Cloch na Blarnan for true Islamic believers.

Anything you pray for when you first see the Kaaba is granted and fixed - eyesight, health, cancer; kissing the stone will see all the sins of mankind absorbed; the waters of Zamzam have healing properties, and so forth and etc. It's superstition central ...

There's a curiously innocent aspect to Peer's intermingling of his own pilgrimage with his description of the way the Saudis are embarking on a project to double the capacity of the circumambulation area around the Kaaba, while the very last aspects of the architectural heritage of the city of Mecca are being swept from view. Why let tradition get in the way of getting bang for the bucks and the pilgrims?

And the icing on the cake is Wendell Steavenson's Radicals Rising (sorry also behind The New Yorker paywall), which takes a look at the hard-line Islamists now on the march in Egypt.

It turns out that conservative Islamists are just like conservative Christians - not a fresh insight after a couple of thousand years of evidence, but always one worth re-visiting.

The Salafis seem to get their knickers in a knot about the right of Egyptian policemen to wear beards while bashing the bejesus out of suspects, which led to a little jocularity on the part of Steavenson:

One of the first issues the Salafis took up in parliament was the right of policemen to wear beards, despite an institutional policy against them. For Khairallah, the matter was clear. "This is a personal freedom," he said.
"So why can't I wear a bikini on a beach?" I asked. "Isn't wearing a bikini a personal freedom?"
"I am free within some restrictions," Khairallah replied carefully.

Yep, there's nothing like a little "restricted freedom" (patent pending).

It's the Republican war on women re-located to Egypt, with the Salafis adapting to the regulations requiring that political parties field female candidates ... by putting pictures of flowers instead of head shots of the female candidates on posters.

Vote one for flower power ...

And then there was the desire to re-live in Egypt all over again Prohibition and Elliot Ness and Chicago gangsters, by banning alcohol.

The pond's partner routinely visits countries run in an Islamic manner, and notes two strong trends - the routine, insidious marginalization and demonisation of women, and the underground culture of the ruling elite getting on the piss, especially when in the company of infidels and outside the purview of other true believers (unless it's a gaggle of ruling elitists happy to see everybody get pissed).

The alcohol thing is on a par with the casual misogyny you find in the United States amongst conservative Christians, including the likes of Jesse Lee Peterson:

"I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote," Peterson said to his congregants in the 12-minute video. "We should have never turned that over to women. There are more women out there voting than men now … and these women are voting in the wrong people. They are voting in people who are evil, who agree with them, who are going to take us down this pathway of destruction."

It probably never occurs to Peterson that he is the evil one, in league with the Islamics and taking the world and women down a pathway to repression, inhibition and submission, but that's always the way with recalcitrant conservatives of a fundamentalist kind.

It's a reminder of how in the deep, dank and dark recesses of democracy there still lurk people who want to return to a theocracy, and how it's necessary to maintain the rage against cults and religions of all kinds - remembering that it's not just Islamics and Christians who are united in their desire to do harm to gay people, gay marriage, women and anyone else that doesn't fit into their set of inhibiting and punitive societal structures. Mormons think the same way too ...

You know you're in the company of such geegaws when you turn to the Pellists for the weekly message in the Sunday Terror, titled Anzac Day:

Like the majority of Australians, Catholics opposed conscription but supported the Allied War aims. Many Catholics fought and died and common suffering drew the Protestant and Catholic communities closer. Ancient wrongs and mutual antagonisms were seen in a new light and the yeast of Christian forgiveness encouraged greater tolerance.

The yeast of Christian forgiveness encouraged greater tolerance?

Religion's some kind of modern bakery? Is there a bad moon or a doughnut on the rise?

Greater tolerance? Tell that to a couple of loving gays who, in the most conservative way imaginable, want to settle down and share a life together.

Perhaps what Cardinal Pell was really thinking about was the yeast of Christian forgiveness, and a decent tribe of lawyers demanding an apology or else! Here's your yeasty Christian forgiveness, permit me to shove it where the sun don't shine. (here)

So how do you tell that you're in the company of a scoundrel, who will at any point revert to patriotism as a last refuge?

Only such a nation with deeply Christian roots who believed in redemptive sacrifice could set this Anzac failure at the heart of their legends.

Oh flay him alive Samuel Johnson.

Who'd have thought that Archbishop Mannix would in time appear a more attractive figure? Well at least in the matter of dealing with a sordid trade war that needlessly cost millions of lives ...

Remember a cardinal is just a parson by another name:

Afghanistan anyone?

But of all the bizarreness on parade during the week, perhaps the pond's favourite was Joel Hodge making The Drum seem like an outlier for rational thinking, as he scribbled Against a human-made religion: Atheism and Christianity.

There's no need to synopsise the piece - not when you can get the full saddle-leather Hunter valley red tang of the thing by reading it in full, but it seems that atheism is negative, and Christianity is against false religion, and so to a resounding finale:

We are told atheism wants to put an end to human-made religion? So does Christianity! Bring it on, we say. Let's together - atheist and Christian - purge every last vestige of false religion out of the church and the world and, if any church or world is still left, it will be entirely Christian - free from violent sacrifice and perfected in divine, gratuitous love.

Oh sweet absent megalomaniacal delusional lord, aux armes, aux armes atheists, and the world will be entirely Christian. And pray tell, will this reich last a thousand years? And can atheists go straight to heaven, as Cardinal Pell promised, without all the lovey dovey Jesus stuff?

Just one point of order Mr. Hodges. When we talk of entirely Christian, are we talking of the heretical Roman Catholics, the heretical Protestants - such an abundance of schismatics and heresies - and the heretical Mormons, the heretical Russian Orthodox, the heretical Greek Orthodox, and dozens of other sub-cults and ratbags, each gratuitously propounding their own version of divine love? Such a diverse flowering of Jesus follies ...

The pond would love to drink what they serve at St. Patrick's campus at the Australian Catholic University.

It would help when developing the philosophy and religion of loonism (TM), which will join with atheism to sweep away Christian cultism in preparation for the return of L. Ron Hubbard from the volcanoes of Mars, where he has been hibernating these past few years.

So there you have it. We think we've mentioned and dissed quite a few religions in this brief survey. There's the usual parade of angry Anglicans, angry Islamics and angry Pellists, and it seems, angry atheists who must march together with angry Christians to rid the world of other believers in imaginary friends.

Which leads us naturally to the first text of loonism (TM), which happens to involve a William Blake poem:

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.

(Below: speaking of bikinis and repression, here's Bondi beach inspector Aub Laidlaw checking out an offensive item in November 1958. How he loved the bright lights and the tabloid coverage and getting to perve).


  1. Jesse Lee Petersen sounds like a Sydney Anglican! All religious conservatives are the same...they repress women to maintain power.

  2. I know you hate Twitter, DP, but just to let you know I've bagged #PellWall. It came like a bombshell, how everything would be so much nicer if we were all behind the Wall, being ministered to by friendly Fathers. We could watch with pity & alarm as those outside the Wall degenerated into a kind of vicious slime.
    Being well on the outer, myself, idle thought does turn to the fate of humanity, and how mindless subscription to irrational belief threatens progress. Would it be better, in the long term, to let the Pellists have Govt, since most of us are too greedy and/or lazy to be bothered?


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