Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Eostre

Ever since reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman I’ve had a great sympathy for Easter. As portrayed in the book, this poor goddess of Spring is unknown while her name and symbols have been stolen by the Christians. I wanted to research this and write a blessy about it. My theme being; give this woman back her holiday! I don’t care that she’s fictional. I don’t care that holidays are “made up”. It breaks up the year and gives the kid inside me free reign to pretend. I’m fully behind Linus and his celebration of The Great Pumpkin.

Then I got sidetracked in my research by the editorial on Easter over at ChristianAnswers.Net. On the one hand they fully acknowledge that Easter was a pagan holiday and that rabbits and eggs are fertility symbols. Their solution to this is to recommend using the phrase "Resurrection Sunday" rather than "Easter". They then use the Bible as their primary historical reference to show how “this terrible false religion” had its origins from the Tower of Babel. Because they believe Tower of Babel was a pyramid-shaped structure, they claim that any culture that built a pyramid-like structure as well were decedents of those scattered away from Babel when god confused their language.
Most, if not all, of these people carried their evil Sun-God-based religion with them.
Their conclusion:
"Easter" is simply one of the names of a woman [Queen Semiramis] who mightily deceived the world and whose religion has caused untold suffering and misery. She was clearly an enemy of Christianity, and her son Tammuz was an anti-Christ, a false messiah that ultimately deceived millions.

How is it possible to be an enemy of a religion that did not even exist at that time? How is it possible to be an anti-something that hasn’t been thought of yet?

The seductive symbols of ancient ungodly religions inspired by Satan have been incorporated into people's everyday lives, even to this day continuing to obscure the truth of God.

Christians naively use symbols and practices that unknowingly perpetuate ancient anti-Christ traditions - symbolic customs followed by the same religious cults that inspired the destruction of great numbers of Christians and Jews.

Yeah, you True Christians ™, if you happen to stumble onto the fact that there were all these pre-Jesus religions that had myths about gods-made-flesh, born to virgin women, that had spring celebrations celebrating their resurrection from the underworld, be assured:
If you are Christian, it is not difficult to discern the bizarre deception and confusion that Satan has successfully orchestrated.
While all those stupid ancient peoples were worshiping the wrong born-of-a-virgin-died-and-resurrected gods, you can be assured that you are in fact worshiping the right one. Because it's all the trick of another supernatural entity that, while having all the powers and abilities of your god (based on his reputation, if he does exist he's obviously a stronger more influental god), isn't considered a god because there's only one true god. A modern person such as you couldn’t possibly be deceived they way those ancients were.

Could you?

Reference: Easter; Its Pagan origins , Eostre

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nonbelieving Literati Sidetrack

I’m not allowed in bookstores. I’m not allowed on Amazon unless I have a gift card or am strictly using it as a reference for selecting books from the library. This is due to my inability to leave without spending upwards of $100 on books. It’s a compulsion. I love books and have the same reverence for books that Henry Bemis shows in Time Enough at Last. So it was unfortunate that the selection for this session of the Nonbelieving Literati was unavailable at my library;

However they did have, and what I will discuss instead, is David Wellington's zombie-apocalypse trilogy:

From Publishers Weekly: Fans will relish the monster mash finale, in which a Welsh sorcerer, a horde of animated mummies and a decomposing zombie army engage in a pyrotechnic firefight complete with heavy artillery.

Your first question could be why “Monster” and not “Zombie” for the book titles? The answer for that lies in the several twists that Wellington has added to the Zombie genre; conscious zombies, the cause for reanimation lying in something referred to as “the Source” rather than a virus, and reanimated Celtic Bog Mummy from Scotland who turns out to be Mael Mag Och, a druid who believes he is to be the final instrument of judgment on mankind.

In Monster Island we meet Gary, a medical student faced with the inevitable choice of either becoming a zombie or zombie food. Working on the theory that the brain becomes damaged through lack of oxygen between death and reanimation, he decides to try and retain his consciousness by keeping his body packed in ice and his brain oxygenated through using life support medical equipment stolen from the hospital. He awakens to find his experiment a success. He is one of (we later discover) three individuals to make the transition as a conscious zombie.

These three individuals are the driving force of the “Monster” aspect for the trilogy. They have to decide between either retaining their humanity or abandoning it. As Mael explains to Gary; “There’s no debate, Gary. This is what we are. Uamhas. There’s good in this world and there’s evil, and we’re evil. Now either come with me or leave me be, lad. There’s work to do.” The choices the characters make throughout the course of the trilogy span all shades of grey as well as black or white.

Initially “The Source” was ambiguous; it could be either natural or supernatural. The way it was initially described changed depending on the character experiencing or using it. However as the story progressed through the trilogy, the magical and supernatural aspects of it and the characters became clear. I was a little disappointed by this. The traditional viral explanation for zombieism always left the genre in the category of extremely-unlikely-but-ever-so-slightly-possible and made it that much more intriguing. While I appreciate the twists of the genre to create something new to explore, I still wanted there to be logical explanations, even if the explanations weren’t apparent to the character.

As the next book for the Literati is A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf and is ready for me to pick up at the library and I’m going on vacation in a couple weeks involving a long plane ride and plenty of time to read, I’m going to have to come up with a really good excuse for not reading it.**

Maybe I can blame the time spent on making Easy Cheesy Chili Dip.

** I fully intend to read it, but it’s Virgina Woolf for fuck sake. The last time I tried to read Virginia Woolf was Mrs. Dalloway and what a goddamn boring book that was!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I saw Richard Dawkins… neener neener

BEYOND is a pioneering international center at Arizona State University specifically dedicated to confronting the big questions of existence raised by these stunning scientific advances, and facilitating new research initiatives that transcend traditional subject categories.

You would think that having attended the Richard Dawkins lecture I’d have a lot to talk about. And probably if I were writing an article that I knew would be read by people unfamiliar with Dawkins I would. But I know my audience. Who of you hasn’t read the God Delusion? Who of you hasn’t seen Dawkins several times speak at least on youtube? [crickets chirping] Thought so.

Seeing Richard Dawkins in the flesh was fantastic. I will never understand how he can ever be described as “ranting”. He never raises his voice. In fact I think he’s got a damn sexy voice and would listen to him read his grocery list. His lecture was enjoyable, but it was also like watching your favorite band perform live instead of on television. You know all the songs, so really you’re just there for the shared group experience.

I did get to finally meet some members of the Phoenix Atheists Meetup group. They’re a fun group of people who get together for events that I’ve always been meaning to go to but never got around to it. I think now that I shall try a little harder. One of them mentioned wanting to have a movie event to see Expelled, he envisioned something like going to the Rocky Horror Picture show where we’d talk back to the screen and have squirt guns.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Celebrate Heresy

Two articles about Ahmed An-Na'im

"The Future of Sharia Is the Secular State"
Law professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim supports secularism, in which a neutral state makes the laws for all citizens, while leaving enough room for them to lead their lives according to the rules of their own religion.

"We Muslims Have No Church!"
The Sudanese born Abdullah Ahmed An-Na'im teaches law at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Active in the fields of civil, human and international rights, he sees the Islamic Sharia as an important point of reference for him. The Muslim law system, which dates back to the seventh century, must, in his opinion, always be open to being questioned.

I’m rather confused about this man. Granted, I have only two very short articles to base him on so some further inquiry may be warranted.

On the one hand he says, “Human rights and secularism are so important to me because they create a space within which I may protest” and “I believe that religion and the state should be separate, institutionally.” Right on so far, but then…

“There are many questions in which [secularism] cannot interfere. It can handle the basics about how we can live with and maintain respect for one another. But answers to questions on things like abortion or the right to take one's own life must be sought elsewhere [religion]” and “If I am in need of money so that my children can receive religious education, then the state must help me. These are civil rights.”

I’m not getting a really clear picture about what his world would look like. Yes, in a secular world secularism would not “interfere” with topics like abortion or suicide. Everyone would have to right to live and act according to their own beliefs provided they didn’t interfere with or harm others. But that should not include helping to fund institutions that do want to “interfere”. If he believes that “whatever your value system is, it is you, not the Imam who must decide what is relevant and what isn't” what religious education system is it that would be funded? When he states he has, “difficulties with the idea of someone else defining what my religion should mean to me. No one should be given the power of deciding what is right or wrong” what Islamic religious school teaches that?

There is one quote that I can somewhat agree with though:
Every orthodoxy began as heresy. All religions have their roots in heresy. Christianity began as a Jewish heresy; Islam was once a Christian-Jewish heresy. It is in breaking with tradition that we strike the vein of greatest creativity. This is true of all societies. So celebrate heresy!

I don't think he'd go so far as to celebrate my atheist heresy, but than again who knows. I certainly celebrate my heresy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Yay, new computer

OK, it's not a real blog entry or an atheist rant, but I thought you might like to see what I've been playing with. My son is the four-legged one, the two-legged one belongs to my friend.