Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

The Cruel Smell of Roses

October 30, 2013

Whenever I feel sad and lost and lonely in America, overwhelmed by questions like “Why do they stir their coffee with straws?” or “Why do they think ‘In God We Trust’ is not religious?” or “How is my money worth 60% of what it was when I got here?” I go for a walk around my neighborhood. It’s my alternative to buying a bottle of red wine and drowning my sorrows, because when I’m sad, I don’t know the meaning of “a couple of glasses to relax”.

It smelled of bath salts I bathed in once, when I was 15 and I accidentally went on a date with a preacher's son. True story.

It smelled of bath salts I used when I was 15 and I accidentally went on a date with a preacher’s son. True story.

So instead I walk around, smelling the roses. Orange is flat – it’s a lot like the Cape Flats except the streets are cleaner, there’s no crime, and the low-ceiling, two bedroom houses cost about R3-5million each. The smelling the roses thing started because I wanted to see which ones had a smell, and which ones didn’t. Then it was supposed to cheer me up.

sign_parkingwitch

Got to admit, this was sorta cute. A witch above my least favourite parking sign, which over the years has cost me about $120 in fines. In the USA, you actually have to pay your fines or they put you in County Jail eventually. No wonder their prison population is growing so fast when they criminalize you for being disorganized / poor.

creepycat

A black cat crossed my path. Literally. And it’s got a really weird eye.

But my rose smelling thing always backfires. there’s something about the smell of roses that makes me terribly sad, these days. And it doesn’t help that it’s Halloween. I know it’s supposed to be fun, but the macabre shit all over the place just freaks me out. I don’t get it.

I find this in poor taste. But then again, I'm not American. I think the alienation this makes me feel is scarier than all of it.

I find this in poor taste. But then again, I’m not American. I think the alienation this makes me feel is scarier than all of it.

I can’t wait til it’s over and Orange can start redecorating for Christmas instead. The out-there Christianity is tiring at times, and the carols drive me up the wall, but at least they’re not terrifying.

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America rises above the bombers

April 19, 2013

Just finished a column for News24.co.za that makes me realise how different the America I arrived in is to the one I left, thanks to Obama.

Miss you. I miss you like I miss measels.

Miss you. I miss you like I miss measles, acne, or broken bones, you spineless brat.

What happened in Boston is terrible. The way America has responded, however, gives me hope for humanity. It’s like America has grown up. That’s what my column is about.

America: Bigger than Bombs

I at first assumed the bomb attacks in Boston would play straight into the hands of the Islamaphobes who’d love to just “kill ’em all”. But it seems like Americans – in general – are rising above it.

“Al Qaeda is a real threat. But terrorism has no religion.” Well put, by Al-Marayati, a member of the Faith-Based Advisory Committee of the president’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. Of course, the people who really need to hear his words won’t be listening to them. Events like the Boston bombings play straight into the filthy hands of those who are longing for an excuse to attack or oppress muslims in the name of fighting terrorism. As news of the bombings came through, muslim Americans were not only mourning the loss of lives, but simultaneously praying: “Please, don’t let it be a Muslim.”

It hasn’t been posted yet, but when it has, you can read it here
UPDATE!!! 12.40AM FRIDAY

Seconds – not kidding – after my column went live, news came through on twitter about a gun battle with two very similar sounding suspects in Watertown, Mass. Some responses from twitter…

NidalM Abdullah Mohiuddin: My reaction to hearing the names of the #watertown suspects:”
Terrible but true.

Terrible but true Relief for many here. Makes sense given the complete lack of responsibility taken. Al Qaida generally likes to boast. UPDATE: Turns out it was the work of two stupid kids who happen to be Muslim but weren’t organized. Of course, this makes the prejudiced types really gleeful.

Could be fake. I could fake this easily. But if it's real it's freaky.

Could be fake. I could fake this easily. But if it’s real it’s freaky.

Dutchguy000 Kristian Tuinzing  – “Bullet hole in my wall from Watertown shootout. My head was there minutes before. #watertown pic.twitter.com/mqtHREc2Rp”

Oh look, it’s the crazy Jesus people in their anti-gay scary-mobile!

March 2, 2013

Whatever you do, and whatever they offer you, DON’T GET IN THE VAN! This has got to be the creepiest Jesus van I’ve ever seen, and they get pretty creepy. This is the kind of van where you’d expect “corrective rape” and “reconditioning” to occur, in the parking lot of a Walmart, which funnily enough is exactly where the occupants were shopping at the time…

So we're all going to heaven except for GANG, HOMOSEX and ABORTION. Whatever they're good at, subject noun-agreement isn't it. Oh, and HATE. So people who hate fags and women's rights be in trouble with Jesus too?

So we’re all going to heaven except for GANG, HOMOSEX and ABORTION. Whatever they’re good at, subject noun-agreement isn’t it. Oh, and HATE. So people who hate fags and women’s rights be in trouble with Jesus too? No? I guess you gotta make your hypocritical exceptions or it wouldn’t be a real religion, would it.

sign_scaryjesusvan1

I have no words. And what’s funniest is the people who drove this van were SO CRAZY that they assumed I was taking photos of them because I approved of their insane religious-based intolerance of others. Then again, what should I expect from people whose license plate is customized to read WARNING.

Oh, and this is Bible verse they’re so sure is the word of God. It would just  be funny if the law didn’t entitle them to home school their kids in this kind of doctrine, and carry guns. And yeah, there are people like this all over the world. I just happen to live in California right now. So cool off, patriots.

Romans 1:18-32

New International Version (NIV)

God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

Come on, people.

Hot Button Tantrums

November 30, 2012

My next film is about how we overreact like little kids to certain things – rightly or wrongly or just because. I also wrote about this on News24 in my latest column.

tantrum_likeromney

The worst thing kids can be is intolerant. The other worst is open-minded to only one source. When they grow up and stop thinking completely, they can be dangerous.

tantrum_republicans

It can get scary.

tantrum_liberals

Rebel nuns in the USA defy the Vatican! Awesome!

August 12, 2012

The news these days is silly to ridiculous. Romney’s choice of Ryan as his running mate implies confidence in right wing conservatism that worries me. After all, Obama’s not left wing, merely democratic centrist. I take refuge in NPR stories from Snapjudgement or This American Life that through their specificity say so much more about the world than the day to day news ever could. Hell, I nearly went out and bought a novel, but I won’t have the time to read it, so I stopped myself.

So I needed something that gave me faith that the war of brain vs. knee-jerk would still be fought by somebody. And then by this action was reminded that this war is fought all the time, quietly. Catholic nuns all over the world know that condoms will save certain societies, and that breeding more Catholics is not the way to save the religion.  Their practical compassion in the face of the Church’s male dominated stupidity is of course, underappreciated by the dudes in dresses.

So I found the picture here: http://cbsloc.al/LAiT8g Seems a few men agree on this. Taken in Philadelphia.

Today, they made me happy, these brave girls, who apply the teachings of Jesus H Christ, whether the other boys like it or not. Of course the vatican is calling it “Radical Feminism’. Someone remind me why that’s a bad thing for the world?! Come on, boys. Time to grow up and check out which century you live in – or move to a country like Iran or Afganistan, where they don’t dig uppity chicks much either.

A Sunday of unexpected strangeness

August 5, 2012

I brought the weirdness of today on myself, of course. I have been traveling recently, and this has reawakened my appetite for new experiences and re-evaluation of habitual thoughts. So after I blogged last night about cray-cray Bible stuff triggered by seeing the words “Explicit Gospel” on a sign outside the Calvary Temple in Orange, CA, I set my alarm for 9am so that I wouldn’t be late for the 10am church service. My journalistic ethics demand that I do a bit of research. And my curiosity was aroused by the term “explicit”. How explicit, exactly?

Looks less scary in the morning.

I guess I was expecting oh, I don’t know… at least a mention of the gay marriage controversy in the sermon today. But the church was set up more like an AA meeting than a church, with coffee and cake and grapes at the entrance, and lots of greeting and hand holding and talk of love. The vibe was friendly, warm, and relaxed. I felt very welcome and a little sheepish for jumping to conclusions.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a church without awful sing-along music, played by ecstatic, mulleted ladies in barmaid blouses and some geeky dudes on guitar and drums. After the first few songs were over, Pastor Ray surprised me in one way. Firstly, he stuck to the “love is God’s power” message that seems to be at the heart of the Calvary Temple theology. He also surprised me with his ability to fictionalize what’s already fairly fictional, adding colloquialisms to modern dialog to the story of Adam and Eve and Satan. As I sat listening to him telling the story of creation and the Garden of Eden, mocking evolution with creationist zeal at every turn, I found myself becoming childlike. As in bored. Really, really bored. And unlike the two kids in the row ahead of me, I had nobody to punch and mess with in order to pass the time. So after an hour and a half, I left, half relieved, half annoyed and half confused.

Religion’s biggest attraction for most people is probably the comfort it provides. This is nice, and I have no complaints in a way. The safe space of the church and the light through the windows made me happy too. However I can’t help but think that part of that comfort lies in the dumbing-down of the world; the turning of miracles into fairy tales so that we don’t have to try to understand the wonders of how the world really works, or wonder about the grey areas of life that really do exist day to day. It’s harder to get angry about than hate speech, but still disturbing for me. Harmless? I don’t believe so. In the USA, parents have the right to force their kids to go to schools where they are preached at and where creationism is taught. I consider this a form of mental abuse. Education should not include indoctrination. Storytelling is one thing. But presenting the stories as literally the truth? That’s another thing entirely.

I guess I was expecting Prairie Home Companion when I got into my car and turned on the Radio to KPCC / NPR. Instead, there was news. Far away in Wisconsin, a Sikh Temple had been attacked. Sikh is a really peaceful religion – an offshoot of Hinduism. It seems like such a terrible thing to happen on a Sunday. Or any day. I can’t help wondering why the shooter did it. As if anything justifies actions like his. He’s dead, now, shot by police, and hopefully was operating alone. “Early reports describe the gunman as a white male in his 30s.” – Mother Jones

I was so distracted that I parked in a handicapped space at Trader Joe’s as I went to buy comfort food in preparation for Not Leaving the House Again Today.

Whatever I feel about religion, places of worship should be places of safety.

I don’t know what to expect anymore. I just feel sad.

Explicit Gospel – Reason #667 to be scared of Sundays in Orange, CA

August 5, 2012

So what kind of church is this? I know there are some pretty kooky religions in the USA. I first realised this when I was charged with taking care of a couple’s dildo and porn collection.

UPDATE Sunday 4th August 2012: As promised, I attended Church this morning in order to see what really went down: Blogged it here. There was none of the homophobia that the Bible guaranteed. Something much worse happened in Wisconsin though. A weird day in every way so far.

They’d left it with my housemate, and I held on to un-opened, until I left for the USA two years later. As I threw out or gave away or sold everything I owned, I came upon it. And I finally looked inside the box. They had nothing too crazy in the toys department. Dildos and vibes. A couple of anal plugs – I think. Porn DVDS… and this bizarre little book which I still have somewhere, and which was linked to some grouping in the USA. It’s a gospel of nudism of some sort, with all these pretty unsavory photos of a bearded man with his winky out. It wasn’t erect, which made it grosser somehow. I don’t know if it’s just me, but penises seem quite pretty when they’re up and about. When they’re not, well, I don’t really see the point in them. Selfish but true. When floppy, they just remind me of awkward times in bed with drunk guys, and bad art movies with too much voice over.

Anyhow, back to the topic: Church! Calvary Temple in particular.

I am thinking of going tomorrow at 10am, to check out this crazy stuff.

And here’s what I was able to find out about this church, which seems to have picked an interesting time to talk about “explicit gospel“. By this they mean that what is says in the Bible is all true, and all the word of God, the almighty.

They believe all this crazy stuff:

Kill blasphemers – Half the world must go. To make space for the crazy people.
One who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer. Aliens as well as citizens, when they blaspheme the Name, shall be put to death. (NRSV)
Leviticus 24:16

Kill adulterers – You know how everybody’s so outraged – and rightly so – when this happens in Iraq/Afganistan/Nigeria? Well, sounds like the same deal to me.
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (NIV)
Leviticus 20:10

Kill female sorcerers Male sorcerers are okay – dates from Christianity’s crushing of female-driven religions during the bloody, cruel Crucades and colonization wars.
You shall not allow a woman to live who practices sorcery. (AMP)
Exodus 22:18

Kill naughty kids – But only after they’re born
Anyone who dishonors father or mother must be put to death. Such a person is guilty of a capital offense. (NLT)
Leviticus 20:9

Kill people that work on Saturday Christians are all going to die for breaking this rule.
You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the LORD. Anyone who works on that day must be put to death. (NLT)
Exodus 35:2

Kill women who have sex before marriage – they’re no good to you if it doesn’t hurt the first time you do them.
“If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ … and evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones … (NKJV)
Deuteronomy 22:13-14,20-21

Every sperm is sacred – with apologies to Monty Python
Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.” But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother. What he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD, and he put him to death also. (NRSV)
Genesis 38:6-10

Slavery is OK as long as they’re a different race – how convenient
Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. (NIV)
Leviticus 25:44

Women should shut up and do as they’re told – no comment
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (NIV)
1 Timothy 2:11-12

Homosexuals must die I have a feeling this one will come up tomorrow morning! And that they’ll act like they’re being nice by just preventing them from getting married… A quick note though. In this bit, it does sound like God is fine with lesbian sex. Like, duh, most men.
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. (NRSV)
Leviticus 20:13

Thanks to http://www.christianitydisproved.com for this source material on cray-cray bible stuff… although I should probably thank whatever self-serving zealot originally wrote the Bible to suit their personal needs and profit margins.

No, It is not my goal to disprove Christianity. It is, however, my goal to combat hate. Christianity has survived by adapting – all religions that survive do. There are good things in the Bible, but a lot of it is garbage too. The version of Islam practised in South Africa by people I know is an enlightened version – a version for this century. There’s a lot of outdated hatred masquerading as “tradition” in any old text. It’s important to see the difference between right and wrong, no matter what you’re told by nutcases promising absolution and eternal life in heaven.

My point: Any version of Christianity that says everything in the bible is true is no different in its rules to what the Taliban advocate. Nobody should be required to take it seriously, and it’s hard to see how belonging to this particular religion is any different to belonging to the Klu Klux Klan.

I have a feeling when I go there tomorrow to investigate the Calvary Temple, I’ll discover that they’re anti-gay, and that they want my money.

Note to my readers: I went to church, and I was proved wrong – they’re really sweet people: Read that blog. But I stand by everything I said about taking the Bible at its word. It’s dangerous.

Chick-Fil-A pays the price for their cheep, cheep, cheep homophobia

August 4, 2012

Chick-Fil-A not only speaks for Jesus (how presumptuous) but also has opinions about its customer’s personal lives. Eat more chicken? Eat less [insert body part here]. I don’t think so. Your funny ads don’t mask your hate speech.

Lesbians kiss in protest in a branch of Chick-Fil-A.


Chick-Fil-A – national chicken chain known for its Christian links (it closes on Sundays, that’s how old school it is!) is not the only fast food chain to be heavily linked to religion. Lots of chains have openly Christian agendas, including In-‘n-out burger (check the bottom of their soda cups for bible verses) and Tyson, supplier of cruelty-full meat to theme parks, prisons, and schools across the USA.

But Chick-Fil-A crossed the line by announcing its opposition to gay marriage recently, with crazy republican Michele Bachmann’s square-jawed support.

Of course, they’re trying to fudge the issue. Are “fudge packing” jokes bad taste in the context of my outrage at their homophobia? I guess so… Anyhow, Here’s how they try to wiggle out of it in their website FAQ in answer to a fake-sounding question:

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our Restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect –regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

Sure, so the stories of you firing employees who came out aren’t true, then? And we’re supposed to ignore what your Chief Operating Officer said – even though he hasn’t apologized? Here’s what their COO Dan Cathy said in defense of Chick-fill-A’s donations of millions to anti-gay groups. He prayed for “…God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.” Sorry, but that is not open to interpretation. He’s dragging Christianity back two centuries. What’s next – black people? Mixed marriages? Women’s rights? Cause the Bible’s not into those either. Using your brain is the cause of progress and enlightenment. If God’s against intelligent reasoning? Well, then I’m against God.

As I drove into Hollywood today, I passed this building about a mile from a branch of Chick-Fil-A. We have no idea what Einstein thought about homosexuality, so not sure this group can truly claim his support.

Was Gandi gay? Who cares in one sense. But he didn’t eat the Christian kinda chicken either, being Hindu. As the “Young Turks” point out later in the video linked below, this information underlines how discrimination is so terrible. You might oppress the person who will liberate your nation. The Indian government, meanwhile, wants to purchase and destroy the letters between Gandhi and his lover to protect their image of their national hero…

Protesting in the hot sun. Not too sure what side the dude in the white suit is on, but it could be either.

It’s good to see people standing up for something. I may go hang out for a while myself. Although if I get arrested, I get deported, so I don’t really have a fair shake.

The protesters were still there at 5pm when we returned after taking the Koreans who’re visiting form Busan to see Hollywood’s walk of fame and on the way to a beachside restaurant in Malibu.

I used to love this billboard. No longer, now that I know what’s behind it.

Can’t wait to see Chick-Fill-A’s next ad campaign: What will it be? “Eat Less Cock?” Whatever, you intellectual and cultural troglodytes. You are not welcome to your opinion, because it’s a litany of hate that dirties Christianity and obstructs the slugglish old religion’s inevitable entry into the 21st Century world.

Jesus is always saving people. Someone needs to return the favor, and save Jesus from the clutches of these dead-meat-peddling haters. Talk about “audacity”!

Small Brain? Help is at hand, as new solve-it-all “doctor” scam hits Twitter

May 11, 2012

I thought I’d seen it all – or I mean, seen it all before, and again, and repeatedly. You know those doctors who advertise to desperate people who’ve run out of all logical options? “Here, drink this vinegar and your lover will return!” Actually that probably worked once, since vinegar is known to help cure yeast infections. But I digress.

Move aside “DR MORRIS”…

Image

Upside down on the roof of a train in Cape Town. I had to flip and rotate it… and unfortunately it’s blurred.

 

DR. BUJJAGALI MUHINDO is here to solve all your problems. On twitter – @bujjagali!

Image

I sent him a question on twitter. “@bujjagali Dear Dr. I have a small penis. I have had a small penis all my life. Please can you help me!”. Let’s see what he suggests.

 

Free for Fatherless boys: Camping. Bike Shop. Fishing. Jesus!!!

May 5, 2012

Sometimes I have no words. The signs speak for themselves. What’s weird is that nobody around me seems to see them for how fucking weird they are.

I have recently been accused of generalising about Americans. It’s true, I do it. It’s my attempt, as a politically passionate, ultimately peaceful person, to make sense of a place in which people avoid discussions about politics, yet wage war constantly. But I’m going to stick my neck out and generalise again: To me? What’s normal here is pretty weird. Prime example: This poster.

poster in orange, ca

I think the hardest thing for me to understand about the USA is probably the overwhelming ASSUMPTION of Christianity, as the norm. Replace Jesus with Allah? You’re entering a shitstorm for sure. This thing’s been hanging across the road for weeks, and nobody except me seems to find it bizarre.

Welcome to quaint-town. Orange, CA. Home of Jesus!! Free to fatherless boys.

Don’t think for a second that I haven’t felt like a fish out of water everywhere I’ve ever been. Cause I have. I’m always lying just outside the fish tank, gasping for air and stubbornly refusing to get back in.