Category: Christianity


I’ve been damned by some as an unbeliever, an anti-christ. It pleases me, therefore, and reinforces my self esteem, to know that to others I’m the cool atheist across the street.

My youngest daughter calls me daddy and my mother insists that I was brought up a good catholic kid and on the right track.

So I drink a lot of whisky. So did my grandfather. Who doesn’t? It’s a family thing. At the age of fifteen I was a good father to three kids, and I always went to confession.

Now, suddenly, I’m an apostate Jew. I wake up one morning and that’s it.

Corner shop proprietor Anita Devi — I knew her father, he was like a Rabbi to me, although he was an apostate Sikh — told local reporters: ‘I’m sorting the papers for the delivery wallahs, you know, like it’s 5am, and in walks Dustin Hoffman. “It’s not safe,” he says, “but I’m a very good driver, Mrs Robinson.” I ask you, do I look like a Nazi dentist?’

No comment, no jazz.

However, Kafka told me this sort of thing was a possibility and, hey, Anita, he gave me a couple of other clues too: like, until this beard grew overnight I was Al Pacino a la Godfather 2, like an old dead uncle always insisted I should be. And Bukowski told me once that when I realised I’d failed as a writer I could maybe scratch a living as an Ernesto Guevara lookalike. Now I’m a 55 year old Ratso Rizzo.

Life’s a bitch. Forget about it. Just learn the lesson: never judge a close relative by his cover.

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God told me…

…that I’ve been neglecting my blog of late, so, to keep him happy, here’s a little snatch of a rather one-sided conversation about music I had with Jon Hilltown the other day:

‘I love it. Late at night I think about it. I slip a disc in it and I turn it on: it’s a darkness like velvet.

The low lights create highlights that shimmer. Then I cry.

So I drink and smoke and listen to the jazz and imagine it could be me making that beautiful music. All the time I know it’s Cloudy.

Nobody’s fooling anyone.

For twenty years she mixes that brass and breath and now it sounds like heaven.

The sax teaches her how to sing and the traps and the bass and that belligerent guitar unite and become her heartbeat. Then her rice-paper-voice-skin freezes beneath those lime-lights.

She is born for this. I am just a pair of ears.

I still feel her nerve-ends stinging like a high-hat shimmy, slightly but work-ably out of time. Her blood is air to me.

I recall her touch and it’s like being alive again but ever so secretively. And when the music is over I sleep and dream she still lives.

When I wake up I walk naked through the rooms and when I have searched every one in vain I make coffee. Then I dress myself and realise that I will always be a honey for the jazz bear.

Whether I am alone or with friends or with a lover or an enemy; whether in security or fright or in flight or at home or abroad…

I’m fish food. And the fish are all playing saxophones, guitars…

A Negro double bass player clinks some ice into a glass just before the dawn and endlessly, increasingly weirdly, I start to die.’

Alright God? Now perhaps you’ll f**k off and let us get on with our earthly (or otherwise) sins for a while?

To my mortal friends — Jon Hilltown’s story is coming soon to a book store near you.

Love y’all…

Here’s an interesting question: isn’t religion a bit like pornography?

P.Z. Myers has ten good reasons for answering that question in the affirmative:

it has been practiced for all of human history in all cultures;

it exploits perfectly natural, even commendable, impulses;

its virtues are debatable, its proponents fanatical;

people love it but can’t give a rational reason for it;

it objectifies and degrades women even when it worships them;

you want to wash up after shaking hands with any of its leaders;

the costumes are outrageous, the performances silly, the plots unbelievable;

there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it but it’s nothing to be proud of; 

it is not a sound basis for public policy, government, or international relations;

its stars are totally fake.

Professor Myers is a Secular Materialist and he’s welcome at my table any time.

Visit his blog.

In the name of the father? This is War. In the name of the son? This is murder. In the name of the Holy Ghost? This is iniquity. In the name of democracy? This is a lie.

They have created a wasteland in our name and called it Democracy. Dare we look on their our victims?

“Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit immediately, but, like the earth, in due season, and advancing by little and little, it eradicates the man who committed it. …justice, being destroyed, will destroy; being preserved, will preserve; it must never therefore be violated.” Manu 1200 bc

This video should only be viewed by a mature audience. I suspect that it will very soon become ‘no longer available’.

What did I tell you?

Death by schism

There’s a guy on the penthouse balcony of a high-rise about to kill himself. A negotiator with a loud hailer is trying to convince him he shouldn’t jump:

“Stop, stop, don’t do it.”

The guy looks down and asks:

“Why not?”

“Well… there’s so much to live for.”

“What’s that then? My kids are on crack and my wife just eloped with their dealer.”

“Well, there’s your faith. Your religion.”

“Yes?”

“Are you religious?”

“Yes.”

“Me, too. Christian, Muslim or Jew?”

“Christian.”

“Me, too. Catholic or Protestant?”

“Protestant.”

“Hey, far out. Me too. Methodist, Baptist, or Presbyterian?”

“Baptist.”

“Right on. Listen, are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Saviour?”

“Baptist Church of God.”

“Praise the Lord, we’re brothers. Tell me, are you Original Baptist Church of God or Reformed Baptist Church of God?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God.”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God Reformation of 1917?”

“1917.”

“Hey, you know what, Jump, you filthy heathen heretic scum.”

So, I’m talking to God. I’ve been working all night on this serial-killer story and I start drinking black vodka at 10am. 

“Forgive me Father for I have sinned,” I tell him.

God shuffles his feet, adjusts his blanket, butters another slice of toast and replies in a perfectly reasonable tone:

“Tell me, son, without shame.” 

Well, of course, as you might imagine, I just fall apart and it all starts to flow:

“Oh, Father, I have opened my door to sentiment and hubris;

I have pimped and used the innocent and spoken ill of the dead;

I have insulted my friends and damned them as unworthy;

I have blasphemed and taken the word of Ford in vain;

I have cheated those to whom I owe tax and over-taxed those who owe tax to me;

I have pan-handled and swindled and hustled and wasted the fruits of my endeavours;

I have been unfaithful to my wife and blinded my eyes to her infidelities;

I have entertained wicked thoughts regarding my animals and have occasionally kicked the cat (affectionately);

I have no visible means of support and yet remain solvent in an arogantly upright and wickedly handsome manner;

I disrespect my natural talents and stubournly refuse to exploit them and…

last night I viewed an illegal copy of Borat ,that I didn’t even pay for, and fell asleep.

Oh, Father forgive me…”

And then I just collapse in a helpless heap and pray for a line of Coke, in tongues.

“Truly your sins are great, my son,” says God, “and so, therefore, must be your penance.”

“You mean?” I reply in horror.

“Yes. There is no other way. You must watch Borat again, and stay awake until the end credits!”

Too much! Too much!

I feel damned…

But by this time the bars are open, so I tell God to blow it out his ass.

The separation of Church and State has been a fundamental principle of government since the Enlightenment. Why are we going backwards?

My regular readers will be aware of my views concerning religion; for the rest I’ll sum up: you believe what you wish, worship as you will but don’t use your God to influence my life. I’m not interested. I believe in God — any God — in the same way that I believe in the Tooth-Fairy, Santa Clause and the existence of true democracy: it’s a nice idea but, let’s be real, huh?

The fact is, however, that your beliefs do affect my life. I’m increasingly being told that I live in a Christian country. More and more, the Church extends its influence into politics. My children are fed fairy-stories and are encouraged to consume them as facts.

I’m pissed at that because I don’t want to live in a country whose ethics are determined by the supernatural. I want to live in a secular society where moral and ethical choices are made with the end in mind of achieving best consequences.

If you’re a “moderate” Christian or an atheist, an agnostic or a “just don’t give a damn” you should watch the following clips and be very afraid. They’re from a documentary called Jesus Camp about an evangelical summer camp in the US where Pastor Becky Fisher indoctrinates children using methods that pretty much constitute child abuse.

AND, HEY, GUESS WHAT — IT IS ‘NO LONGER AVAILABLE’!



It’s official: as of today, “limbus infantium” is no more, having been formally abolished by the Catholic Church.

The concept, based upon the theological belief that children who die before being baptised are suspended in a space between heaven and hell, was developed in the 13th Century in response to the harshness of earlier Church teachings, which held that such children are stained by Original Sin and so are condemned to hell.

 Joe “the rat” Ratzinger, a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI, never believed in the idea anyway. In a pre-papal interview circa 1984, he said:

“Limbo has never been a defined truth of faith. Personally, speaking as a theologian and not as head of the Congregation, I would drop something that has always been only a theological hypothesis.”

However, Joe (or Ben, as he is now), being an acknowledged expert on all things Islamic, and with his eye on Africa and Asia, zones with a high infant mortality rate and ripe for evangelisation, must be intensely aware that Muslims believe the souls of stillborn babies go straight to heaven.

Hence the new edict: stillborn Christian babies do as well. 
  
The status of “limbus patrum”, where those “good people” went who were unfortunate enough to have died before the coming of Christ, on the other hand, remains… well, in limbo, so to speak.

The other day I’m having a drink with a friend and she starts on about the Pope thing and I tell her: “Yeah, I read the speech but I didn’t write anything about it.”

Actually, I read it very closely with a view to doing just that but, as an atheist, concluded that there was really nothing to write about, except to say: listen guys, don’t worry about it, because, you know, THERE’S NOBODY THERE!

Of course, they’re not going to fall for that one, are they — scientists and modern philosophers have been telling them the same thing without avail since the Enlightenment.

Fact is, they want to believe it, don’t they? And that’s fine: I have no problem with other people’s beliefs, even though, in my opinion, religion — any religion — is the ultimate sting. I think: let them be stung.

So look, I have to tell my friend to forget about the Pope thing. To my Muslim friends (I have many and they know and respect my views, which is more than I can say for the few Christians I count as friends) I say, if the Pope’s speech upset you, forget it, take strength from your faith, ask yourself: can words, or cartoons for that matter, harm the Prophet? 

Outside of friendship, as a secularist, what I say is that everything, faiths and deities included, is, in a secular society (which accurately describes the society I live in, although sometimes it seems that I’m the only one in it) open to discussion and sometimes criticism. And if that strikes you as simplistic and dismissive then you’ve got my view on the subject nailed to the cross (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

Because the whole “faith” thing, although it doesn’t hold scientific water, is in a very real and dangerous sense water-tight: If you’re a secularist and you’ve ever tried arguing the non-existence of a supernatural God with a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew you’ll know exactly what I mean. You can’t do it, can you? Because faith precludes reason: “well, look, you can say what you like but I know God exists because I believe he does”.

What the Pope said about Islam was that it is incompatible with reason, because some medieval Christian bigot said it was a faith of violence. The pot calls the kettle black and, while they’re arguing about it, the water goes cold.
 
The main agenda of the speech, however, wasn’t about about Islam versus Christianity. It was about the war — and by that I mean the very real conflict — between faith and reason, between religion and secular humanism.

I’m over it.

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