Kevin Andrews suddenly learns that everyone else knows Catch The Fire are batshit #auspol

Minister for Putting Single Mums in Their Bloody Place Kevin Andrews, among other Team Australians, has recently learned that the people of Australia don’t particularly like that the “World Congress of Families” is run by well-known slavering extremist anti-choice homophobic bigots Catch The Fire Ministries and has decided not to open their adorable little Hatesturbate For Jesus for them after all.

Catch The Fire Ministries, whose head douche Danny Nalliah infamously linked Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires to that state’s abortion laws (and will now have to find other high-profile fundamentalist scenery-chewers to mix the green cordial [red is SINFUL!] and run the games of “pin Satan’s pitchfork on the eternally burning lesbortionist,”) have since thrown K-Drews under the bus for being a sad wuss. Because how dare any public official in a secular democracy respond to public outcry over lending explicit government support to a pack of fringe-dwelling cultists whose lunacy is only exceeded by their self-importance.

I suspect that, much like a pair of cling-wrap Y-fronts, this is a transparent arse-covering on the part of Kev and his fellow Tory wingnuts, Eric “I Am The Politican Every Sketch Show Bases Their Politicians On” Abetz and Cory “Looky, I Wrote A Book Just Like God Did” Bernardi, who would surely have gone along had the public not had something of a issue with members of our government explicitly validating the dark-ages lunacy of extremist evangelist hooligans.

Not Catch The Fire but close efuckingnough, amirite?

School Chaplains: why can’t you lot just stick to the pulpit #auspol

It appears the Abbott government still wants to exclude secular workers from the School Chaplaincy program, despite widespread opposition and two High Court challenges.

Religious people have numerous avenues available if they wish to seek spiritual guidance for themselves or their children; this constant push by some of them to have exclusive access to other peoples’ children while in school is distasteful and extremely presumptuous (and possibly even un-Constitutional – while Section 116 has historically not been applied to state funding of religious schools, implementing exclusively religious programs such as this in state schools might be a different basket of loaves and fishes. While the Abbott regime might be able to use the general term “religious” to escape being accused of favouring of one faith over another, the very term “chaplain” has an exclusively Christian origin and I doubt very strongly that we’ll see a great many imams, rabbis or whatever those used-god salesmen-for-Xenu call themselves counselling state school students).  

Apart from the blatant discrimination involved in barring secular counselors from consideration, kids with serious problems (or even mild ones) don’t need Divinity lessons, they need trained professionals. Religious exceptionalism of this sort is highly likely to expose vulnerable children to inappropriate proselytising and unhelpful advice – when compared to the likelihood of a properly trained secular counselor attempting to proselytise their philosophy, it’s practically a stone-carved certainty.

If a counselor is appropriately qualified and experienced they should be hired; their religious status, just like their age, marital status and orientation, should be irrelevant to their practice. It’s not legal for the Commonwealth to refuse employment in any other area of operation on religious grounds; how such a proscription wouldn’t apply to state school counselors escapes me. This appears to be yet another example of a government operating by ideology and working off a checklist, with pragmatism, fairness and perhaps even legality being secondary concerns.

Evangelising students in school is not only preying on an audience that’s legally compelled to be there, it’s also based on the offensive and arrogant presumption that the evangelists have the right (God-given, of course) to undermine whatever religious traditions those kids’ families may already observe in their own homes or places of worship or whatever non-religious philosophies they may subscribe to.

Not only that, but those churches that evangelise more often than not subscribe to fringe conservative and flat-out fundamentalist interpretations of Scripture which have absolutely no place in our public schools, where there frequently is a plurality of ethnicity and culture.

I’m sure we can all imagine the outcry from decent Christian folk if Islamists or JW’s or Mormons were given privileged access to state school students (even if ostensibly to use their powers for good and explicitly not for the purposes of conversion attempts); it’s much better for all concerned (chiefly the kids who’ll need professional advice and support) if preachers (or preachers-by-other-names) stay in the pulpit.

Noah’s Ark – retold for realism #noah

You may have heard that Rusty Crowe is starring in a new film about Noah’s Ark – you may also have heard that some Christians have a problem with its historical accuracy and have forced it to be edited.

Yes, really.

I won’t spend any time discussing the sheer hilarity of the idea that an obvious and clear myth – which is itself an obvious and clear reboot of at least one prior Babylonian flood story – could be at all “accurate” in any meaningful sense of the word.

However, I do believe a Noah film could be shot realistically. Make it from the point of view of one of Noah’s neighbours. It’d start off with Noah being a normal, decent chap but a little quiet. After a little while, he starts being a bit withdrawn, even reclusive; you don’t see his family much any more either. When you do see him he’s furtive and glances at you sideways; he’s always hurrying somewhere, always ushering his wife or family members back inside. People start talking – is he drinking? Does he hit his wife? Then the noises start. Sawing. Nailing. Is it a house extension? Eventually something takes shape. It’s big. A barn? You go over to ask Noah what he’s doing. He’s up a ladder and shouts something unintelligible; he seems angry. You leave it for the moment.

Months later, Noah’s construction is still growing – but it’s still just framework. Noone knows what it is but noone bothers to ask anymore. It appears he’s spending all his time and money on building whatever it is. It’s too big for a barn. A marketplace? A new temple? Maybe, but of wood? Surely stone or even mud bricks would be more appropriate. You ask the local elders and merchants and priests but none have any idea what’s going on. The whole family seem to be involved now; always up ladders, fetching tools, timber, following instructions barked by an increasingly preoccupied (and dishevelled) Noah.

The thing – now called “Noah’s Folly” by the people in town – is taking shape and there’s cladding on it now. It’s shaped like a boat but there’s no rudder, no masts, no oarlocks, barely even a porthole. It’s also far too big to be practical as a river boat – you’re not even convinced it’ll float, let alone be able to manouevre downstream where it becomes shallow. The smell of pitch now fills the air; Noah’s sealing it against the water. It’s a boat after all.

Eventually curiosity, and hatred of the smell of pitch, gets the better of you. Over you go to ask what Noah’s up to; this time you’ll not leave without an answer. Noah arcs up, enraged and perhaps a little terrified. He rages on and on about how all are doomed, including you; only Noah and his family are righteous and deserving; all will be judged by God and washed from the Earth. You glance at his wife; she just looks haunted and avoids your gaze. Noah’s children don’t even look up from their tasks. Something very curious – very wrong – is happening at Noah’s house.

After a while, things go quiet. Construction appears to have stopped. No more hammering, no more smell of pitch. You think maybe it’s over and Noah’s giant boat – which must surely bankrupt him if it hasn’t already – will sit there as testament to what you now assume is his madness (or perhaps his well-known love of wine) until it rots.

But then the noise starts again – it’s different this time. Livestock. Goats, geese, camels, sheep. Maybe this boat is a barn after all! It will be the rainy season soon – maybe he’s starting a new career as a breeder and wants to protect his investments. But it doesn’t end with livestock. Noah’s even bringing creatures in from the wilderness: wolves, ostriches, even a pair of lions. All restrained (barely) with ropes. Maybe it’s a menagerie like the ones you’ve heard princes and kings keep! They keep coming, brought in by his family. You marvel at how eight people could do all this; you notice how tired, hungry and defeated they all look – all except Noah, who seems consumed, obsessed – perhaps possessed. Noah ushers or just drags all the creatures into the boat. At night you can hear them complain – has he any water or food for them? You hope the ropes on the lions are strong, lest they roam the decks in search of prey. How do they even breathe with just a single window in the top cabin? How can they not suffocate on the stench of their own waste? This isn’t constructed like any barn or boat you’ve ever seen – even in this winter weather, it must be like an oven during the day and a dank, stinking cave by night.

Noah stops bringing the animals after a while. Then all he does is stand atop his boat and watch the sky all day, as if waiting for something. He becomes increasingly agitated. After a week, the rains come – just like they always do. The river floods, just like it always does. It’s a little bigger than last year (though smaller than some you can remember from your youth) and you thank God you built your house halfway up the hillside instead of moving further down on the valley floor, like Noah (you recall asking him why during the last planting season; he just smiled and continued pushing his barrow).

The river widens and deepens as the rains continue. Eventually the water laps at the sides of Noah’s boat. He hurries his family on board, carrying what seems to be a bare minimum of supplies. The water keeps coming (it’s definitely a big one this year!) and consumes Noah’s yards, enters his house. He seems unconcerned, just watching the sky. Some of his other neighbours wade through his submerged yard to confront him; they plead with him to get to higher ground. They’re very concerned about the safety of this boat or floating barn or whatever it is. Noah curses them and spits at them. They retreat back up the hill and watch the water rise.

Two days later; nobody’s seen anybody on the top deck but Noah and the water’s a few feet up the side of Noah’s boat; you’re wondering if the pitch will keep such a large thing watertight, let alone whether it’ll float. You’re not the only one; the hillsides are packed with people curious (perhaps morbidly so) about the fate of Noah’s boat. After a few more hours of steady rain, the boat shifts a little. You hear a gasp from the assembled spectators. More rain. More water. Just before dusk, the giant craft creaks, groans, protests and is finally shifted from its cradle of gopher logs. No sound from the crowd – everyone’s just staring, breaths held. Noah’s boat is now floating. Maybe it’s seaworthy after all! Maybe Noah’s some kind of strange, misunderstood genius (though that still wouldn’t explain the animals).

As the boat is taken downstream, you hear Noah bellowing something over the sound of the rushing water and falling rain – you can’t make it out but it sounds triumphant. Then you hear a sound that chills you to the bone. A creaking, groaning sound. It graduates to a cracking, splintering sound. The vessel is visibly twisting as it’s turned by the current – as if some unseen giant is wringing it out like a large wet cloth. Cladding bursts free from the side of the vessel. Water rushes in, animals fall out. You see a lion, an ostrich, a goat, all fall in to the river. Then a man – one of Noah’s sons? Frantically they paddle and kick but more cladding and beams fall on top of them. You and the crowd are now running down the hill to the riverbank. Perhaps you’ll be able to help save one of the crew. The stricken craft, now waterlogged, runs aground on a sandbar downstream, but it doesn’t stop dead. It starts to tip over, one side dug into the sand. The weight of its own timbers and waterlogged lower decks makes it collapse in on itself. Above the roar of snapping timbers you can hear the desperate screams of animals and people alike.

When you draw level with the sandbar you see among the cracked, twisted ribs of the boat some of the dead: sheep, an ox, some people floating face down. From your vantage point on the riverbank you see Noah on a small patch of sand. As he was on the top deck he was thrown clear by the impact. He’s on his side, still moving. The wreck of the boat is forming a dam, diverting the still-rising water around him. You and some neighbours start talking about a rescue plan – how can we get across the river to the sandbar? Will the wreck hold long enough for us to bring him back? Another grisly cracking sound answers your question as the rest of the hull begins to give way. You and your neighbours rush back up the hillside and turn just in time to see the hapless Noah engulfed by the merciless grey river and the shattered remnants of his creation. You and the other villagers sit in silence as the wreckage flows beyond the sandbar and out of sight down the river. Some of it remains where it fell, stuck in the sand or snagged on the riverbank. As the rain eases and the river subsides, the full extent of the carnage is revealed. Gopherwood beams, planks and logs and the carcasses of animals and people litter the riverbank from the sandbar onward. Noah’s body is never found.

After the funerals are held for Noah’s family, the dead animals disposed of and the remnants of Noah’s vessel cleared away (and reused – it was good timber!), people start retelling the tale of Noah and his “ark”, as people are now calling it. Each time you hear the story, whether in the marketplace, the tavern or via some passing travellers, it appears to grow in magnitude. Some giraffes here, two hippopotami there. By the time you hear a version where Noah’s floating menagerie is an astonishing three hundred cubits (!) long, contains a breeding pair of every animal on the Earth, endures forty whole days of rain and spends a year afloat without any creatures starving to death, you give up trying to correct people. Yes, you were actually there, knew Noah personally and saw the whole thing unfold, but noone wants to hear that. Nobody wants to hear the truth when it’s so much more fun to tell a good story. Next thing you know people will be saying he was called on by God!

______________________________
Update 16 March 2014: Yo, Aronofsky – this is the film you should have made, brah! 😀

The enemy is indeed in our cross-hairs

Recent revelations that hundred of thousands of US servicemens’ rifle-scopes are carrying references Gospel verses have littered the web recently. Today it’s been revealed that Australian soldiers are using those very same scopes. The Bible references appear like any normal-looking serial number, for example ”2COR4:6” is a reference to Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.

The manufacturer, Trijicon, was founded by a fundie Christian over thirty years ago and its website carries this message:

”As part of our faith and our belief in service to our country, Trijicon has put scripture references on our products for more than two decades,” a statement on the company’s website said.

”As long as we have men and women in danger, we will continue to do everything we can to provide them with both state-of-the-art technology and the never-ending support and prayers of a grateful nation.”

Ah, nothing like militarised Christianity. Nothing like lining up your enemies’ skulls in a scope you know is blessed by the words of Jesus. Nothing like the old “God is in MY side but not YOURS’ gambit, used by everyone from Moses’ merry band of child-killers to the Crusaders to the loons who routinely blow themselves up to gain eternal paradise.
Unsurprisingly, defence chiefs from the affected nations including the US, Canada, NZ and Australia have stated they didn’t know these serial numbers were in fact Gospel references. Why does it not surprise me? Because, historically, the people most likely to want to sneak their religion into other peoples’ lives are the ones who cling to it the tightest (google “Dover Trial”). I could always give Trijicon the benefit of the doubt and say the fault lies, if anywhere, with the defence chiefs who didn’t research the company – but hey, how many generals or defence ministers would think to check their equipment suppliers aren’t using evangelising serial numbers on their products?

Now, notwithstanding the first amendment to the US constitution and the inarguably secular intent of the founders of that nation – not to mention the secular nature of their Allies who also use these scopes – I hope someone has realised that this is going to be more propaganda fuel for the Taliban and for many Iraqi insurgents who already believe this is some kind of war against Islam, a Fourth Crusade. When news gets out amongst the “enemy” that Allied forces have Bible verses inscribed on their scopes, those servicemen may as well drop the fatigues and start wearing white smocks with big-arse red crucifixes on the front. Seriously, this is one little speed-bump our poor bastards in the desert didn’t need.

US religious group sends digital Bibles to Haiti (Rated M: coarse language)

Yes, some Yank bible-thumpers are sending iGods to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Source.

These are solar-powered audible Bibles that can broadcast the holy scriptures in Haitian Creole to 300 people at a time.

Called the “Proclaimer,” the audio Bible delivers “digital quality” and is designed for “poor and illiterate people”, the Faith Comes By Hearing group said.

According to their website, the Proclaimer is “self-powered and can play the Bible in the jungle, desert or … even on the moon!”

Just what a bunch of starving, desperate, homeless, bereaved, scared people fucking need: to be fucking preached at by a fucking toy. Pardon my French.

As the employee of a well-known and well-respected international humanitarian organisation (which has people on the ground as we speak), I can’t help but wonder how much these bibles are worth, how much it’s costing to ship them and precisely how many first aid kits, emergency shelters or ration packs that amount of money could have provided. I’m also wondering how much time is going to be wasted unpacking and distributing these toys when people in Haiti have more important things to do. Getting aid into crisis areas like Port-au-Prince is difficult enough without people cluttering up the ports and distribution centres with unnecessary flotsam like digital bibles. The reason organisations like, for example, Red Cross, say “don’t send blankets, send money” is because money is useful straight away and doesn’t take up space on a C-130.

Pardon me, Americans, but only American Christians would think it appropriate to send a shipment of electronic bibles to people who don’t even have food or water and may not even know whether their families are still alive. The capital city in ruins, over seventy thousand dead, a million without homes and someone bright fucking spark in Halfwit, Alberquerque, thinks “Oh yeah! That’s what them folks need – some diggital Jeee-zuss!” Give me strength.

Say, how about we look after people’s immediate needs, say, immediately, and leave the preaching until they have a roof over their heads, a full belly and clothes on their back? Here’s a newsflash for you ten-gallon lackwits: there are already lots of Christians in Haiti, which means there are already lots of Christian ministers in Haiti (also: anyone who isn’t a Christian isn’t likely to change due to some cheap trinket) and I’m sure they’ll do what they do soon enough, maybe once they’re safe and have had something to eat. So why don’t you show some fucking respect, leave the religion to the locals and do something fucking useful, like go to the Red Cross website and drop them some cash?

People are starving, homeless, frightened, desperate, bodies are still being pulled from the rubble – and these clowns think bibles will make them feel better. Is it really any wonder that atheists get so damned angry?

With tens of thousands of Port-au-Prince residents living outdoors because their homes have collapsed or they fear aftershocks from last week’s quake, the audio Bible can bring them “hope and comfort that comes from knowing God has not forgotten them through this tragedy”, the group said.

Tell me, is this the same God that pushed the “Earthquake” button to punish them for their pact with the devil, which they entered into in order to escape from French slavery, as professional arsehole – I mean evangelist – Pat Robertson recently said? Or is it a different God – a kind, loving, benevolent one who works in mysterious ways (including earthquakes and tsunamis, from which he saves select people in order to appear merciful)? Or just the “God” that’s in all things beautiful, from the nice feeling you get when nana hugs you to the inspiration behind Mozart’s Requiem? Forgive me – you people seem to believe in so many different kinds of God it’s tough to keep track of which one is worshipped by which sect.

Look, never mind all that – if you’re going to do anything for Haiti, send money! It’s available instantly and aid organisations have loads of practice discerning where the needs are and where to spend the cash. Don’t send goddam Jesus Tamagotchis!!

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It’s a racket

With a mobile phone/appliance rental/bank loan/investment product contract, it’s all about the conditions – conditions which have been carefully put together to simultaneously protect the provider and the receiver. Default on a repayment or use your product or service in any way that’s contrary to the conditions in the fine print and you lose your rights. They can take your TV back & sue you for payments, void your warranty, cut off your phone service; maybe they’ll raise your interest rates without notice or perhaps the bank can go under and they can file for bankruptcy and be freed from giving you back any of the money you invested – but you agreed to all of those potential outcomes when you signed up. Perhaps you didn’t read those parts but hey, you signed the bit indicating that you had, which makes you responsible.

But that’s what happens with a normal contract made between two adults who it is assumed are aware of their rights and responsibilities. But what about the contract that Christians believe we’re all bound to?
The substance of this contract is this:

  1. All humans are born carrying the guilt of our original ancestors who dared to use their god-given free will to defy the god (hereafter referred to as “God”) who created them & the universe
  2. An avatar of God, named Jesus, came to Earth to spread the word of God, perform miracles and was tortured, executed and later returned to life in order to forgive us all of this inherited culpability
  3. All humans are born with an immortal, non-physical soul which will leave our bodies after we die
  4. Those of us who accept (1) and (2) will be rewarded with a place in an infinite paradise where our departed souls (as noted in (3)) will dwell in blissful eternity alongside God
  5. Those of us who do not accept either (1) or (2) (or both) will have their souls damned for eternity, in a place of unspeakable agony either created or merely allowed to exist by God; this place is named “Hell” and run by a former employee of God
  6. There is no “opt-out” clause. Once you’re alive, you’re eternally bound by this contract
  7. You can not choose to not have a soul or choose to just cease to exist when you die; you MUST exist forever and you MUST do so either in bliss or torment
  8. The ONLY thing you can do to escape the eternal torment mentioned in (5) and win the bliss mentioned in (4) is to believe (1) and (2). You can not do so by good works, being a decent, humble, person, being a loving compassionate humanitarian and good example for your children, neighbours, and everyone else. It’s (1) and (2) or it’s (5).

So there’s really no two ways about it. By the terms of this contract, a truly rotten, murderous, lying, thieving, child-raping bastard of a Christian who repents on his deathbed has a better chance of entering Heaven post-mortem than a Hindu, Jew, atheist, Zoroastrian or Muslim or Buddhist or Raelian who dedicates his or her life to being a shiny happy benefit to the world whilst alive. Theoretically you could be better than Jesus himself (hey, he did have one or two unseemly public outbursts) and still become the Devil’s property.

Speak of the Devil … there exist in history inummerable dark, cautionary tales of signing contracts with he of the awesome guitar-shredding skills and promising him your eternal soul in exchange for temporary Earthly power or pleasures or profits. It is always explained in these tales that you can’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t take the Devil at his word, even if you do have his word in writing. But hey – he’s The Devil, right? Lord of Evil, Prince of Darkness, The Deceiver, He Who Graces Countless Heavy Metal Album Covers? With names like that, why should anyone be naive enough to trust him at all? It’s an unwritten law that any contract with the Devil isn’t worth the skin it’s carved into.

But this other celestial contract we’re all presumably bound to, in-utero & in perpetuity, is authored by the all-knowing, all-loving God of the universe. He of the perfect goodness – why, the word “good” is derived from his very name itself! Given that, you’d expect God to at the very least be fair, to give us what we need to use the free will he allegedly bestowed upon us to make an informed choice. But we don’t know anything about this arrangement until after we’re born. We don’t get a choice, let alone an informed one – the Christian operating system is marketed as the only one in town and you either play by its rules or you go to Hell. Once born, you’re told starting from before you can even understand how to not defecate on yourself that you’re the product of something called Original Sin, that you’re stained with this Sin from hundreds of generations ago and that unless you repent for this crime of someone else that you barely understand and accede to the terms of the contract, you’ll pay the price. Forever.

This is not a contract. Contracts are entered into freely by two or more informed parties. You don’t just draw up a contract with someone behind their back and give them no choice but to be bound by it – and you certainly shouldn’t do so while they’re still a foetus. This is little more than a racket. It’s an offer you can’t refuse, straight out of the gangster stereotype playbook: “Hey, nice little soul you got here. Shame if something … happened to it. We can help you. We’ll keep this Devil mook out of your face, no problem, but you gotta do for us, capiche?”

But look, if Christianity is so awesome, why not let it sell itself? Why doesn’t the avatar named Jesus bounce in now and again? And I don’t mean by appearing in a tree stump, a dog’s arse, or a cornflake. I mean by actually physically coming back, like he told his disciples he would, and giving us the sales pitch of a lifetime instead of relying on innumerable salesmen in amusing hats telling everyone something different. Imagine that – getting the full story from the source. Not just that, but it’d be a gesture of good faith if he give us an opt-out because he respects the free will he says he gave us. It’s hardly “free” to give someone a binary choice between ecstasy and torment. Why should this Christianity plan be compulsory with Hell being the only other option? Believing in God as the creator of everything, accepting Jesus as his awesome hippy avatar and having faith that he loves you – that’s one thing. Leaving aside the lack of support for those claims, there’s nothing really that bad with believing that kind of thing. If “God loves me, be nice” were the sum total of the doctrine, most people would probably be ok with that. But the fact that Christianity needs to bolster those beliefs by telling people they’re the protagonists in the ultimate horror movie – and that there’s only one way out of the clutches of the killer – has to make you wonder about the alleged infinite goodness of the God behind it. It certainly has to make you wonder if someone prepared to do or allow such a horrible thing for not loving him is worth your love at all. Indeed, if God was so very concerned about us going to Hell, it should make you wonder why he allows it to exist in the first place and why he doesn’t give everyone the same information as to how to avoid it.

Re-post Theatre

I present to you a *rofl* classic from July 2008 – all about Satan! Click this: [linkage] or read the below the fold.

Can you be a Christian without believing in Satan?

I begin with a basic overview of Christianity:

God’s first humans, Adam & Eve, are tricked into obtaining forbidden knowledge by a talking snake. God punishes them by kicking them out of Eden to a now-mortal life of back-breaking toil. This “Original Sin” of Adam & Eve is deemed sufficient cause for God to doom all of their descendants – all of humanity, all of us – to eternity in Hell, which is a place of eternal torment & agony, ruled by Satan, a former angel who rebelled against God (whether God created Hell for Satan or Satan created it himself aren’t clear. What’s also unclear is whether the snake was Satan in disguise and whether God kicked Satan out of Heaven before he tricked Adam & Eve or after). After a few thousand years and a few prophets, God sends his son, Jesus (who is also God) to be tortured & murdered by Romans and resurrected three days later. This bloody sacrifice & re-animation is intended to cleanse us of our inherited guilt and allow our souls entry to Heaven after we die. As long as we believe Jesus/God died/had himself killed to cleanse us of the guilt of a millennia-old sin we had no part in committing, we shall indeed see Heaven. If we do not accept that Jesus is our saviour, we shall join Satan in Hell and be tormented by him forever. For eternity. Until the end of time. During our lives on Earth, Satan – as you’d expect from the Prince of Darkness and Lord of Evil – will constantly be tempting us to follow him in the ways of evil. Why? Because he wants our souls to torment them forever! The only way to negate Satan’s machinations and avoid an eternity of Guantanamo-style hospitality is to accept Jesus as our saviour and allow him custody of our souls.

Bear in mind that I said “basic” and not “brief”. When the hell am I ever brief?

So, anyway, I wonder about Christians who believe the Jesus & Heaven part, but not the Satan & Hell part. Because of that, I wonder if Christianity even has a point without the existence of Satan & Hell. I wonder this because a lot of Christians I’ve spoken to and read the words of have insisted that Satan as the Lord of Hell, the demon who wants to devour your soul, is a fable – a boogeyman from a bygone era, a medieval creation – and Hell isn’t a literal place. They say “Satan is a metaphor for the evil within us all” and “Hell is spiritual separation from God” (which remains undefined anyway). Even some Catholics say this, yet the Vatican still maintains that demonic possession (and subsequent necessary exorcisms) is real and not a giant bushel of rotting cheesy smegma. But I’m not addressing the New Testament literalists who believe Satan’s a real guy who lives in a real place called Hell. I’m addressing the nice, modern, moderate, once-a-week Christians who insist on the “Satan lives in us all as our impure thoughts and Hell is life without God” metaphor and probably only go to church and tick “Christian” on census forms out of habit (we’re over 25% Catholic here with 5.1 million, but there were 3.7 million “no religion” ticks in 2006 which is 18.7% of the population! Nice.).

So Satan is our un-Jesus-y impules. Really, you wishy-washy demi-Christians? No Hell or Satan or soul-hungry demons? But, if it’s all just metaphorical, why must we pledge literal spiritual allegiance to the divine good guys of this story when there aren’t any freaking demonic bad guys? If there’s no eternal torment of Hell and no Satan to poke us in the butt with a sharp stick for a billion years, why did Jesus/God make himself suffer so terribly? To make a macabre plea for attention? Why not, as an omnipotent uber-being should be able to do, just reveal himself to all people simultaneously and proclaim “I am your Creatoooooor, give me your loooooooove” instead of putting himself through such an elaborate ritual execution? I can understand martyring yourself to save countless souls from eternal torture (even though you had personally set that Hell shit up to begin with and then condemned all of us to it because of something our great^100 grandfather did without our knowledge or participation), but why would you allow yourself to be whipped and scourged and stabbed and nailed to a cross to die a slow agonising death just to get people to love you? What a bizarre cry for attention! This makes Jesus sound like the ultimate emo kid.

This modern, moderate metaphorical version of Christianity makes even less sense than the old-school “good guys v. bad guys” version. At least in the traditional Catholic school version you’ve got the classic literary good/bad scenario: good guys trying to get your soul to eternal hookers & blackjack, while bad guys want to roast your soul in a confit of your own faeces or something equally nasty. Never mind the fact that the good guys created Hell and the bad guys that populate it and never mind you’re condemned to it from birth through no action of your own – that’s an impolite question to raise so shut your mouth and put your hand down, little Timmy. But at least it sort of makes sense, from an anthropological “isn’t this primitive mythology simply fascinating?” point of view. It’s got balance – Yin and Yang, black & white, good & evil, dark & light, pleasure & pain, all on an infinite scale. The new “Satan isn’t a dude, he’s our sinful impulses” bollocks renders the Christian story of martyrdom and sacrifice completely pointless. If there’s no actual Satan and no real Hell, what exactly are we being saved from and why was the price Jesus paid so disproportionately high (and who the heck was Jesus tempted by in the desert)? It just smacks of a theological interpretation of scripture to make it seem less ridiculous – and more difficult to criticise. Aah, yes! Theologians are always doing that (find an Alister McGrath debate, if you can stomach his infuriating “I feel“, “it’s true for me” smugness, condescension and gaseous half-answers to questions requiring solid responses) – redefining God & religion in evermore infuriating, goalpost-shifting ways to make critics of religion appear pitifully ill-informed about what the “real religion” is and who the “real God” is. Never mind that your average Christian’s version of the faith isn’t anything approaching the shape-shifting versions that theologians constantly throw out in their debates with heathens, as badass ninjas whip smoke-bombs.

I really think I prefer the actual Christians who actually think Hell exists and contains malevolent spirits who wish us harm; that there one day will be a physical battle at Armageddon between the forces of good and evil (I imagine it’ll look like Peter Jackson’s battle of Mordor in LOTR: ROTK, but bigger – how aaawesome) and that Judgement Day will see people lifted bodily to Heaven while the rest of us duke it out down here for the remaining refineries and breweries and strip clubs and Aston Martin dealerships. Sure, it’s a lot more wacky and dangerous and it’s utterly evil to teach that shit to children, but I tell ya – in terms of an argument it’s a lot easier to draw a bead on a giant, red-hot barrel of bullshit than on a wispy, vaporous, barely-defined half-religion.

Ah, the heady days of 2008. Enjoy!

Proper new post scheduled for tomorrow.

>M<

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