It's always fun to start with a guessing game. Who scribbled:
... my religious instruction did tell me to listen to the reasons given for conscientious conclusions, and on this Abbott, I'm afraid, does well. He's wrong about the boats, he's wrong about the debt, he's wrong about climate change. But he stands for something.
Something? It, the X factor? He's Clara Bow?
Yes, it's terribly important to stand for something, and it seems that Peter Craven, "culture critic", stands for stupidity.
Wouldn't that sentence have read a little bit more sensibly if Craven could, in all seriousness, have scribbled Abbott's right about the boats, about debt and about climate change?
And another thing:
My heart does go out to him a bit, however, when he gets abused because Marr has unearthed stories about his denouncing poofs and deriding dykes and punching walls in the vicinity of women's heads. But that's partly because around the same time I was marching the streets singing songs in honour of the mass- murdering tyrant Mao Zedong. And what's a bit of wall pounding compared with a youthful enthusiasm morally equivalent to membership of the Hitler Youth?
Moral equivalence? We should care that Craven was a Maoist nong? And that makes his current nongdom okay?
Moral? Once a political twit, always a political twit ...
Lordy lordy there's plenty more to bewitch and bemuse as Craven struggles to work out why he feels such a man love for Abbott while the red-headed vixen leaves him cold, and you too can enjoy his feats of ambivalence by haring off to The mystery of Abbott's appeal.
You might conclude there's an even deeper mystery, which involves wondering why Craven manages to write about politics in such a foppish way ...
But enough already, let's get on to the professional sycophants, and who better in his sycophantic ways than Christopher Pearson to start off a Saturday? Yep, there he is scribbling away furiously, explaining how Coalition has cred on defence (inside the paywall and aren't you glad).
Who'd have guessed defence is a real winner for the Coalition. Okay, it's hardly news or worth wading through Pearson's turgid worshipful prose, because in Pearson's eyes, Tony Abbott has cred everywhere.
He's Cred Man incarnate, higher than Duff man, right down to his Reg Grundies. Every week Pearson continues to amaze with his worship of Abbott, and every little move he makes, and every heart he breaks, and yet bizarrely he'd probably reject suggestions that he's an idle propagandist of the basest kind, preferring to imagine himself as a fiercely independent commentator with a mind of his own.
Which only goes to show how delusions are rampant in the modern world.
Speaking of delusions, the real winner this weekend is a delightful piece by Angela Shanahan explaining how religious fundamentalists have much in common, as they suffer blasphemy together and battle wicked secularists.
It's all there in If nothing's sacred then we are in trouble (behind the paywall to limit the impact of the toxix fundie fumes it gives off).
You see there's rioting on the streets, and then there's religious harmony:
In June I had the privilege of moderating the 10th Abrahamic faiths conference in Sydney. The theme of the conference was the family. We were a pretty mixed lot of Jews, Christians and Muslims, and, interestingly, all the speakers were women.
Naturally, as mothers and grandmothers we found some very strong unifying ideals. We all acknowledged the social function of the family; but because this was a conference based on our common faith heritage, we also strongly confirmed that for Christians, Muslims and Jews alike the family belongs not just in the realm of the everyday but in the realm of the sacred. It is the image of the eternal bond between God the Father and man, his creature.
Yes, yes, but you all believe in a different god, with different notions of what makes a true believer, and according to your beliefs, one tribe's picked a winner and the other tribes are losers destined to go to hell (just ask an Angry Anglican).
Why there's even some who believe in the eternal bond between God the Mother and woman, her creature ... But do go on:
In the rush to condemn the violence and analyse its causes, not only have we ignored many of the things we have in common with Australians of the Islamic faith but some of the opinionated have started to condemn all faiths. Atheists and the superficial secularists have seen an opportunity to weigh in and condemn all religion, and particularly what sparked all this: the idea of blasphemy.
Yes, yes, where would we be if we forgot the Catholic notion of persecuting the blasphemers and in particular those opinionated superficial secularists. Why it's ignorant and perverse!
We in Australia are used to ignorance about religion, but this reaction is almost as extreme as that of the Muslims in Hyde Park. It is a kind of reverse intolerance. It declares, by some perverse logic, such as that of US political scientist Emanuele Ottolenghi, that the shocking Muslim reaction to blasphemy justifies further trampling on the intimation of the sacred, an intimation that all religions, not just Muslims, have in common.
Religious fundamentalists unite! If you lose the right to abuse the blasphemers, where will it all end? Piss Christ?
Accordingly we get the puerile and quite revolting notion that pornographic images and blasphemy are equated with freedom of speech. Liberty is not merely being unconstrained by blasphemy laws, as in Australia, but we must deliberately go out of our way to insult, to commit blasphemy, so that, to quote one correspondent, Islamists can "catch up with the rest of the world on freedom of speech and freedom of religion".
Because deep down your average fundamentalist Catholic is at one with fundamentalist Islamics. If only they hand't abolished the Inquisition and the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
Does one need further proof that some commentators simply don't get the problem Islam has with the West at all? Another aspect of the fallout from the riots in Sydney is that although it has complex origins, we have fallen into two glib camps. You are either a proponent of "Western values" and secular "freedom" or else you are naively on the side of the "mad Islamists", a victim of "moral relativism".
By what right have the super-secularist opinion makers, who despise the sense of sacredness common to all religious people, elevated themselves to be the only spokespeople for "Western values"? Meanwhile, the religious traditions that attempt to put themselves into the public square on social issues with coherent, ancient, common philosophies are derided as irrelevant and narrowly religious.
Oh those damned heathen, atheist, filthy, super-secularists, always out there in the streets rioting about the elevated sense of sacredness to be found in religious people, who have a set of simple coherent policies - like persecute teh gays and strip uppity women of their new-fangled notions of equality.
Submit, angry women, and if you find submitting to your current partner repugnant, make sure you find an Angry Anglican. He will accept your submission, and offer you a set of nifty handcuffs for some jolly night games.
Our understanding of our origins, particularly of the Judeo-Christian moral tradition, is so pathetically weak. How can we attempt to combat the real clash of cultures that Islamo-fascism presents to the West when we don't really understand or respect our own tradition? Hence we have no real yardstick to judge freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Blasphemy? Who cares? That is the message from those for whom religion, the numinous, the spiritual in general, is a no-go area in the great democratic-values free-for-all. And what values would those be, exactly? The values that allow 100,000 abortions every year, the values that try to equate any sexual relationship with the sacred relationship that can of itself generate children, the very nucleus of the family? And what about that "value" of free speech? A great value, to be sure - unless you are Cory Bernardi.
Yes, yes, because there are blasphemers everywhere. Stone them. These damned secularists just love abortions, why it's water off a duck, and nil emotional impact for a secularist woman to agonise over having an abortion. And as for those damned gays, they can't have children, they shouldn't have children, it's indecent, it's flagrant. Stone them, or next thing you know we'll be on the great slippery slope where everyone fucks everyone, and the animals scuttle inside in fear because Cory Bernardi couldn't save them and bestiality and zoophilia is rampant and we all live in William Burroughs' The Naked Lunch, with quivering and twitching boy spasms spreading jissom everywhere ...
And where do these values come from? The opinionistas usually identify them with great pomposity and certitude as Enlightenment values. Was that the Enlightenment that produced the United States of America, or the Enlightenment that produced the Terror and then the Directoire? What of the values that produced the Decalogue? They are beyond the ken of many of the opinionists.
Those damned atheist opinionists, with their guillotines and their terror and all because Marie Antoniette cared to offer them cake and a cup of tea!
As if somehow they'd got their ideas of torture from the Jesuits! Don that cilice, you opinionated opinionists, and see real decalogue values at work. And make sure there's some blood, just to show you're serious.
We will never understand the human in each other unless we understand what other human beings hold sacred. What is more, we cannot understand others' sense of the sacred unless we take the time and make the effort to understand what we should hold sacred.
Yes, indeed. The pond holds deeply to the sacred notion of cannibalism, the munching of human flesh and the imbibing of human blood. And you too can get that notion of the sacred at your local Catholic church on any Sunday you like, unless you like to retreat to the Amazonian jungle because it feels more natural ...
The problem is we have lost that sense. We are completely cut off from our Judeo-Christian roots, so we know nothing about how to argue about religion.
Completely cut off, I tells ya. The Pope disowned, the Angry Sydney Anglicans mocked, and yet they go on and on and on and John Howard talks up the history wars, and yet they snipped our roots ...
What relevance can Pakistani blasphemy laws have for us, even if they are abhorrent? We point the finger at others but it is partly an attempt to compensate for our own intolerances. Anti-blasphemy laws make more sense than the "hate speech" laws we have at present, which can cause a person to be quite arbitrarily hauled up before "human rights" tribunals, the secular equivalent of blasphemy tribunals.
And so it pops out, like a little hoppity toad. It seems Shanahan would love to bring back blasphemy laws, instead of this secular nonsense about being polite and talking of human rights.
I, for one, am fed up with having to put up with anti-Christian blasphemy.
But never fed up with explaining how teh gays can't produce beebies.
I can't see how Enlightenment values are helped by this. Paul Kelly touched on this; it stems from the notion that there are no sacred domains.
Today's secularism is merely disdain for religion. In fact, there is a growing body of opinion that religion is dangerous. The voices of religion do have to compete in the same arena as every other idea - no matter how lacking in philosophical depth - but respect all around, especially for dearly held beliefs, is not such a bad thing.
I have lived among Jews in the eastern suburbs and Muslims in southwest Sydney. I have often sat with Muslims and Jews, intelligent people with strong religious and secular ideals, keen to co-operate with and understand one another. It is very wrong to characterise all Muslims as nutters.
Yes indeed, but not so wrong to suggest that poor old Cory Bernardi was out of line. Or berate opinionated secularists, as if they're a vast herd of group thinkers all moving in the one direction like a flock of foolish unbelieving sheep.
Of course there are a few problems with the Muslims. They breed like crazy, they're dole bludgers and they're easily taken in by crazy fundies, but of course it would be wrong to characterise these fundies as nutters. They're just being misled by fomenting ratbag extremists, like a bunch of dumb goats and boofheads dragged by the nose into street riots:
... as some imams have pointed out, there are plenty of ignorant ones, and there are plenty of young and unemployed ones. The mean Muslim birthrate is four times the national average and, especially in southwest Sydney, Muslim unemployment rates are more than double the average. Surely this combination, as the English experience shows, leads to a drift towards crazy fundamentalist do-it-yourself garage mosques. Whether the drift continues is partly up to us.
The marginalisation of young Muslims is not the reason for the recent outbreak. It is being fomented by extremists taking advantage of the large numbers of Muslim youth. But neither is marginalising them the answer. We can't trivialise, insult and stamp on things that people hold sacred and, at the same time, expect to have our own vague ideas held sacred.
The only answer to this is for all the people who do still have some reverence for real values, not just of the Enlightenment but perhaps those contained in the Decalogue that preceded it by thousands of years, to speak out.
What, like not having carved images or any likeness of anything in heaven above or the earth and water beneath? Smash up those pagan Catholic temples.
How about serve the wrong god and false prophets like (take your pick) Jesus or Mahomet?
Take your break on a Saturday? Or is that a Sunday?
Not murder? Quick better whip up an excuse for a just war.
Not covet a donkey or an ox? But what about a Ferrari?
And so on and so forth. Truly it was a sublime read, and as always we can thank that bastion of fundie conservatism, the editor of the lizard Oz, for cultivating religious fundamentalism as a healthy corrective balance against the chattering, secularist, inner city, chardonnay-swilling, opinionated elitists. So many cliches, so many stereotypes, so little time ...
And the real tragedy? Trapped behind the paywall on grand final day, few will read it and understand the deep synergy between religious fundies of all stripes, because the real religion is football.
Now if you want to take a stand against that religion, be prepared to be caste into the wilderness. The anti-football league is torpid, Keith Dunstan long gone, and while a few valiant souls struggle on with a lunch, you could riot on the street in Melbourne today and no one would notice.
Naturally it's all the fault of opinionated secularists ...
(Answer to the riddle: Clarence Badger directed Rangle River with Victor Jory in 1936 and That Certain Something in 1941. Never heard of them? With a bit of luck you'll be able to say that about the scribbles of Angela Shanahan in due course).
(An oldie but an always relevant goody)
(And now for a little comedy. Turns out that evil humans made dinosaurs go naughty. Naturally it's all the fault of militant, immoral, source of all evil, guillotine loving, anti-religious blaspheming, abortion-loving, bestially inclined, filthy, vile, opinionated secularists. Imagine! We could have had nice crocodiles for pets if it wasn't for them. Found here).