National Day of Prayer and Reason!

It’s funny, but somehow right, that the National Day of Prayer and the National Day of Reason are on the same day. I’d almost call that intelligent design, except… well the joke writes itself, so I won’t belabor the point.

But in all seriousness: I tend to preface my religious posts with “I tend to pick on religion a bit…,” but today, I think I’ll just stick to plane old argument.

Prayer and reason are two sides of the same coin. Not that one adds any more truth to the world than the other, but some find truth only in one. Me? I find truth in reason. But some of my best friends find truth in prayer. So… live and let live?

Um… yeah.

But I will pick on religion a little with the page image.

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Until next time,

-M

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National Day of Prayer and Reason!

Have You Spoken With Your Children…

About the harmful effects and potential terror that can be wrought by organized religion?

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In all seriousness, I pick on religion a fair bit. But pay mind, I don’t call out people who are religious; but rather institutions that seek to maintain the status quo using their god or gods as a reason.

Remember: for more than a thousand years, people simply could not question the church. They were a social, political and military power in dozens of nations. Now, I can question that terrible things various churches do from the privacy of my own room.

Until next time,

-M

Have You Spoken With Your Children…

For All

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You know, I’ve never been particularly secretive about my distaste for organized religion. Or maybe I have and I just offended a bunch of people. If I’ve offended you, please feel free to berate be in the comment section.

But really, I don’t want to offend anyone. It’s just that we’re so easily P.Oed these days that I can’t even listen to my favorite band in the car without someone next to me a a stop-light yelling -really yelling- at me to “turn off that fucking devil-worshipping trash.”

No, really. That happened the other day on my way home from work. It was one of the most surreal moments I think I’ve ever experienced. I honestly didn’t think people thought that was anymore. I mean: yes, maybe my music is a little loud; and yes, maybe it’s Marilyn Manson and the point is shock and awe… but for someone to call it devil-worshipping trash and to swear at me in public that way? It shocks and awes me.

Anywho, I’ll just leave you with the advice that I once attempted to impart on an uber-religious friend’s mother in the last year of high school: I respect that you have religious beliefs, so please respect that I don’t.

Best wishes,

-M

For All

For Conservative Christians

This is an oversimplification of a much larger paradox involving devout Christians who happen to be politically conservative and their religious obligation to the needy that they seem to largely ignore around election time, but I think it makes a good point.

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Soured from “Conservatives Are Destroying Our Future” on Facebook.

For Conservative Christians

ISIL, ISIS or Daesh?

One of the least important arguments over the illegitimate state calling itself a part of Islam is the name.

I mean, so lacking in importance that Sunday seemed the best time to write about it; as we all know, I’d make a very bad God. For starters, you wouldn’t get a day off each week.¬†You might get a holiday on my birthday or something, like Jesus. ūüėČ

I was on Facebook today. Always a bad idea; especially when going out of my way to find people acting the fool. One such fool I found on a friend’s page. He had posted an article about President Obama’s response to Daesh (which itself refers to heresy; best name in my opinion) several months ago and had commented:

“Every time I have seen or heard Obama he never refers to ISIS, he always says ISIL and there is a major, major difference. The L refers to Levant which covers the whole area of what is Biblical Israel and is representative that this area is Islam and there is NO Israel. He knows this and it clearly is a code to Islam that he does not recognize Israel and this area belongs to Islam. It is a deception.”

Oh. My. Me. (As opposed to “Oh, my God.”)

Yes, President Obama says ISIL. But this is because of a problem in the media’s early attempts to translate the group’s name. ISIL is the closest we have to a title that both translates closely and makes sense. Yes, one translation says the L in the acronym refers to the Levant. But do remember that the area traditionally called the Levant is a large portion¬†of the modern-day Middle East; including Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Turkey and, yes, Israel.

This is part of the problem I have with fundamentalism in any context. Such folly is not only for Muslims or Christians, but Jews as well. I would know. I put up with such for years before I could willfully ignore my mother’s synagogue and the ridiculous obligations I was forced into as part of a covenant I never really agreed with and, on a technicality, don’t have to uphold. This kind of reverence for Israel without historical or factual context is why I make such fun of stupidity.

Just because other faiths don’t revere “biblical Israel,” doesn’t mean they openly oppose it. In fact, most Muslims and Christians are either in favor of or don’t care if the Jewish people have such a homeland. If you want to blame anyone for the state of affairs there and the tensions about that land, look no farther than the British Empire who had promised the land there to just about everyone they could to gain political favor.

The point is this: don’t make assumptions about the world, be those assumptions political, religious or otherwise, based on what you see on the TV news. They’re probably wrong and will cling to their opinions more than barnacles cling to the underside of ships. Be smart, don’t get keel-hauled.

Until next time,

-M

ISIL, ISIS or Daesh?

THE SONG OF ROLAND AND THE ATTACK ON PARIS

Most of the responses to the recent attacks in Lebanon, Iraq, and Paris perpetrated (most likely) by ISIS sympathizers in Europe and the Middle East has followed the modern standard of what is appropriated or expected to be debated after a terrorist attack. We decide who is responsible, we have a (usually brief, rehearsed and passionate) debate about whether or how many people we should kill in retaliation, we give ourselves a pass at racism for a while while we boo and hiss at the brown-skinned terrorists, and we then return to work without thinking too much else about it.

That superficial understanding (if understanding is even the right word) of modern terrorism and of the Islamic State in general presents a far greater danger to national security then the threat of terrorist attacks themselves. It encourages jingoism and xenophobia as a default response for those that cannot understand the significance and ramifications of world events like the recent attack on Paris. But there was nothing surprising about these attacks, given France’s long and messy history with Islam.

There has been so much discussion on what ISIS really wants, what its goals are, etc., and I don’t want to delve too much into that here, but the popular opinion is that ISIS is an organization bent on bringing about the apocalypse, a gigantic cult so to speak. Certainly there’s plenty of evidence to suggest this is how ISIS recruits new members to its ranks; every culture in the world has a small, clinically insane segment of its population that believes the apocalypse is imminent and they are called to help bring it about. But that theory leaves a lot to be desired. It’s overly simplistic, it has a racist tinge to it, and it smacks of propaganda. At the very least, saying ISIS is a larger version of Jonestown with more aggressive tendencies is an incredibly difficult argument to make.¬†In truth, this has far deeper roots. The organization’s recruitment strategy might take advantage of radical propaganda; there’s not a military in the world that hasn’t done the same at some point. But ISIS’s behavior suggests it’s attempting to restore the dark ages era Muslim caliphate that one dominated the Middle East and came very close to dominating Europe.

If you’ve ever read or heard of¬†The Song of Roland¬†you’ll understand where this is going. The Song of Roland is a very old French military epic poem from the eighth century AD. It celebrates the victory of Charlemagne’s general Roland over forces led by the Emir of Cordoba, as well as some Basque forces, some time around 777 ¬†or 778 AD. Even though Charlemagne had to withdraw from Spain a year later and the battle might actually have less historical relevance then the poem would have us believe, The Song of Roland still evolved into a piece of anti-Muslim propaganda through the Middle Ages. The poem wasn’t even written until at least¬†three hundred years later¬†and was steeped with western Medieval tripe about the superiority of Latin Christianity over the pompous and debauchery-laden Saracens.

Charlemagne, of course, was Frankish. And the Franks, after a few hundred short years, became the French. And one does not attack Paris unless one’s target is the French. At least that’s true if we assume one is even remotely competent.

The French have struggled with Islam and Islamaphobia in modern times as well. General Charles de Gaulle, venerated by modern French as a national hero (he even has an airport named after him) took power in France after WWII and immediately made it a priority of his to¬†wage a vicious and bloody war against Algerian independence.¬†This was a war for Algerian independence led by nationalists but¬†many of those nationalists were Muslims. In other words, in modern times countless Muslims gave their lives for a cause dear to their hearts that was directly opposed by the French. Simply given the fact that old propaganda has a way resurfacing during times of war, it’s safe to assume many modern Muslims have read or know of the Song of Roland, and it’s likely that people inside the ISIS command structure know of it as well.

France was a critical turning point in the story of the early Islamic Caliphate. Its military advance was stopped by ancestors of the French, and Medieval Europe turned the story of that into sectarian propaganda. This is only scratching the surface of why ISIS is, but understanding the history of the first Caliphate is crucial to understanding the political and cultural environment of modern Islam and the motivations of the Islamic State in general.

-G

THE SONG OF ROLAND AND THE ATTACK ON PARIS