Sunday, July 07, 2013

The vanity of the fundamentalists ...

(Above: click to enlarge Crewdson's Brief Encounter)

Feeling a little poorly, the pond took to bed yesterday afternoon.

What else to do but turn on the telly? (And what's wrong with the sybaritic indulgence of a telly in the bedroom?)

First up was a repeat of a documentary about Gregory Crewdson, which made the pond contemplate the vanity of staging still photographs like an indie feature film shoot. But the results have a nice Hopperish feel, so never mind.

Next came Richard Burton in Where Eagles Dare, a truly appalling movie, but never mind that, because Burton was happy to be a star, with a star wife, and the price of stardom is a willingness to sacrifice talent, cultivate a love of grog, and appear in bad movies about the second world war.

The show was directed by Brian G. Hutton, who might well have gone on to direct traffic in Bangkok, but instead went on to make the equally dire Kelly's Heroes.

Burton's fate reminded the pond of the best bit of poetry in the bible, in Ecclesiastes, about vanity, and how all is vanity, and so on (and on).

And the mention of vanity immediately reminded the pond of the angry Sydney Anglicans, because though they do their best to hide it, to pretend they're not vain, it lurks everywhere as a kind of passive aggressive Uriah Heep vanity, a perverse power designed to sway the world to their way:

Father and me was both brought up at a foundation school for boys; and mother, she was likewise brought up at a public, sort of charitable, establishment. They taught us all a deal of umbleness - not much else that I know of, from morning to night. We was to be umble to this person, and umble to that; and to pull off our caps here, and to make bows there; and always to know our place, and abase ourselves before our betters. And we had such a lot of betters! Father got the monitor-medal by being umble. So did I. Father got made a sexton by being umble. He had the character, among the gentlefolks, of being such a well-behaved man, that they were determined to bring him in. "Be umble, Uriah," says father to me, "and you'll get on. It was what was always being dinned into you and me at school; it's what goes down best. Be umble," says father," and you'll do!" And really it ain't done bad!' It was the first time it had ever occurred to me, that this detestable cant of false humility might have originated out of the Heep family. I had seen the harvest, but had never thought of the seed. 
'When I was quite a young boy,' said Uriah, 'I got to know what umbleness did, and I took to it. I ate umble pie with an appetite. I stopped at the umble point of my learning, and says I, "Hold hard!" When you offered to teach me Latin, I knew better. "People like to be above you," says father, "keep yourself down." I am very umble to the present moment, Master Copperfield, but I've got a little power!' (Charles Dickens, Great Expectations)

Indeed. So it comes as no surprise to see the way the Sydney Anglicans are preening themselves over scoring from the taxpayers, and being a very successful leech on the public purse:

In an ever so umble way of course.

And then, since we all need a good dose of righteous judgmentalism on a Sunday, who better to supply it than Phillip Jensen in A Muslim's Oath - An Atheist's Affirmation.

Reading Jensen on Labor politician Ed Husic's swearing on a Qur'an is a truly bizarre experience, and a first class example of what might be termed the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" thinking.

If the pond decoded the Jensenist text correctly, it turns out that Christians don't need to swear, because they're full of integrity (stop that sniggering in the back stalls!).

But it's okay if they do swear, though that won't increase their truthfulness (any more laughter will be dealt with forcefully).

It also turns out that it's okay to swear by Molech, at least if you're an ancient Ammonite:

There is no point swearing by something less than yourself. For an oath to be believable you have to point to something, like God, greater than yourself. However, to which god can somebody be held accountable? At first glance you can only swear by the true and living God. For swearing by Molech is of not much consequence, as Molech is a powerless imagination of the ancient Ammonites - hardly reassuring to the modern listener. Yet you must swear by the god that you believe in. If you were an ancient Ammonite there is no point swearing by Yahweh, while to swear by Molech would indicate your sincerity.

Which means when the pond demands to swear on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, or perhaps Beckett's Waiting for Godot, it's doing the right thing, by swearing by a god it believes in ...

It also means Ed Husic is safe swearing on the Qur'an, even though he believes in a god as useless and worthless as Molech, which will in due course see him cast into eternal fire and brimstone in hell, while smug Sydney Anglicans sit in heaven.

Australia is a Christian nation, not in the sense of it being run by and for Christians with an established religion that all must follow, but in the sense that Christianity informs the people, heritage and culture.  

And the Romans informed the heritage and the culture, and the Chinese inform the two dollar shops, so we're not quite sure how a multicultural modern Australia conforms to this vision, but that's what happens, most likely, when you're stuck thinking about the Moloch.

As a Christian nation we have freedom of religion, which involves limiting government to matters secular, while allowing free expression of religious beliefs. It is part of our wonderful Christian heritage that a Muslim migrant can become a Cabinet minister and express his religion without fear or favour.

But not, it turns out, without rabid ratbags littering Facebook with obscene and ethnic/racist comments.

But the pond promised you a little umbleness, and here it is:

When Christianity has ruled in government, both Christianity and the government have been distorted. We win people to Christ not by government fiat but by prayerful persuasion to the truth. 

And there you have it - megalomania in the knowing of the truth, and prayerful persuasion to get others to toe the line.

The real attitude to others, the condescension and the righteousness, then emerges from the cocoon like a rather shabby moth, as poor old atheists cop yet another battering:

The practice of swearing an oath is therefore better than a simple affirmation. 
Affirmations have been in use for some centuries because of the conscience of people not wanting to invoke God in their promises. Some of these are tender Christian consciences, who misunderstand Jesus’ prohibition on swearing. However, others will only make an affirmation because, as atheists, they refuse to refer to a higher being than themselves. They are like Napoleon placing the crown on his own head for there was nobody greater to crown him. So they are not answerable to anybody or anything other than themselves. 

Yes there's your prayerful persuasion at work. It turns out your average atheist is just a bloody Napoleon, and never mind that they might be answerable to a court of law if they've taken their oath in vain!

 With an affirmation we have to take the word of a politician seeking more power on the basis of their ‘say so’. Often this doesn’t matter in practice as most of the oath-taking politicians are practical atheists and most of the affirming politicians unconsciously practise Christian values. However, theoretically those who affirm are swearing by themselves for they have no greater source of moral reference to which they can point or to which we can call them to account but themselves. Of such arrogance comes tyranny. 

Actually the real tyranny in Great Expectations came from Uriah Heep, and if you want to exercise your rights in an angry Sydney Anglican's church, expect a decent burst of  tyrannical arrogance worthy of Napoleon.

You see how trippingly abuse flows from an atheist's keyboard? Thank the long absent lord we have the demented Sydney Anglicans to show us how its done, with their poisonous verbal darts.

The New Testament understands the problem of the atheist. 

Uh huh, and how lucky that Dickens understands the Uriah Heep problem of the angry Sydney Anglican.

This sort of judgmental fundamentalist claptrap - my swearing is better than your affirmation because I'm a chosen one, nah nah - made the pond think of other fundamentalists, most notably the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt (please, no talk of the Islamic Sisterhood, that would upset Islamics and angry Sydney Anglicans).

It would be tempting to see the recent upheavals as secularists against fundie religious ratbags, but truth to tell, it's just as likely that's because the Islamics stuffed the economy, while trying to steer the country towards their repressive conservative agenda.

There's nothing like pushing pie in the sky by and by, while trying to institutionalise your power base, when others are more interested in getting enough of the worldly pie just to get by.

That's the thing some societies have learned - even Jensen recognises that placing an angry Sydney Anglican in charge of things could only lead to tears, since in their heart of hearts, Oliver Cromwell still holds a lot of appeal.

Which is why the pond sheds no tears for the Egyptian fundamentalists. And mocks this talk of noble Christians and naughty Napoleons. Try persuading the Irish about the pleasure of being ruled by the fundie Cromwell ...

Fundamentalists rarely tolerate minorities. Jensen's toleration of Husic, condescending as it is, is merely a device to display a more fundamental intolerance and a desire to punish unbelievers.

Better to believe in tosh than to be an unbeliever. Oh and stick out your paw and cop a government grant ...

And lastly, speaking of superstitions, what better institution to show the way than the Catholic church, and the news Pope Francis to make John Paul II a saint.

Yep, a second miracle has seen John Paul take the field as a saint, but in the case of John XXIII, they don't even need a single miracle to get him from the bench on to the field, and perhaps save Australia's losing sporting heroes while they're at it.

Never mind, they're going to be able to sell a motza of plaster statues in Rome.

But at least all this thinking, of the humble Anglicans, the crazed Islamics and the plaster cast Catholics brought the pond full circle ...

(Below: click to enlarge on Crewdson's The Madison)


  1. I'm sure David Copperfield had expectations but they weren't as great as Pip's ...

  2. I should, without humility, recommend some early chapters of Evan Whitton's brilliant "Trial by Voodoo" to the fundies, pollies, and assorted other loons for their edification and clarified understanding from whence, how, and why this contemporary Australian legal ridiculousness of claptrap medieval oath swearing, or other similarly laughable secular magic mumbo jumbo issued and evolved. But, attributive explete 'em, I won't.

  3. Oh be fair Anon, be fair:


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