It is often said that Apathists don’t care enough about religion to build a church. Well here it is. For those who believe that it is important to treat religion with apathy, I have built this church.
To ban or not to ban? That is the question. You would think that the artistic board of Newtownabbey council would have learnt from the ridiculous banning of The Life of Brian back in 1980, but no. Last week they banned a play of the Reduced Shakespeare Company entitled “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)” on grounds of blasphemy. Some council members claimed it mocked Christianity. However they later came to their senses with other members claiming the decision made them look like a laughing stock and they reversed the decision. So if you can’t be bothered to read the Bible (and let’s face it not many can), why not catch their show tomorrow night or the night after in Newtownabbey. The show promises to address great theological questions including whether Adam and Eve had navels. Check out their website for more information.
Yes, those satanic seagulls are at it again. Exactly one year ago seagulls attacked two doves released by Pope Benedict as a sign of peace, but the doves escaped. Yesterday, the gulls decided to bring some reinforcements for their mission in the shape of a crow. You have to admire their choice. A crow is a more classical bird of evil, perhaps we may get a raven or two for next year’s rematch. Shortly after Pope Francis and two children released the doves, they were attacked by a seagull and a crow. Despite their being a crowd of tens of thousands of people in Saint Peter’s square, nobody knows if the doves survived. Well I guess that’s a miracle of sorts.
Not to be outdone by the Satanists, a Hindu organisation also wants to place a monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol. The proposed monument is of Hanuman, a monkey-like Hindu deity. Hanuman statues are very common in India, the highest of which is 135 feet high. Politicians haven’t been as quick in dismissing the Hindu deity as they were with the Satanic monument. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is continuing with a lawsuit to have the 10 commandments monument removed, which caused all this in the first place. It’s all quite amusing. Maybe we should propose a monument to Apathy? No, I think you have to care too much.
Do you believe in freedom of religion? Are all religions equal? Conservatives in Oklahoma City thought it would be a good idea to allow a privately funded Ten Commandments monument to be erected on the Statehouse steps in 2009. Now a New York based Satanic Temple has notified them that they also want to donate a private monument to stand next to the ten commandments. They insist their monument, an homage to the historic/literary Satan costing in the region of $20,000, will be in good taste and in keeping with community standards. The design may feature a pentagram or an interactive display for children. Well I guess it’s important to get both sides of the story. However, Republican Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, who is pushing for legislation to allow religious themed symbols in public places, dismissed the Satanists saying they are in the Nut category.
I keep telling people that if there is a God, He certainly doesn’t want us to worship Him. Remember the first commandment, Do not Worship. Back in 2010 that Jesus statue was smote down. Excessive worship seems to be making God a little irate of late. Last month as services started in Quincy, God unleashed a lightning bolt at the church and knocked the top off the steeple. The service was abandoned for fears that further debris may fall through the roof. Undeterred by this millions of people continued to attend churches, so God sent forth a second lightning bolt, this time destroying the Tudor church of St George in Lincolnshire. This time the damage was so severe that the Churches Conservation Trust doubt that it can be restored. Stay out of churches lest ye anger the Lord. Mark Driscoll, a Seattle based pastor, published an article this week saying “Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist”, “He is saddling up on a white horse and coming to slaughter his enemies” and “Blood will flow.” Understandably, a lot of people who preach quite the opposite reacted noisily on Twitter. It’s a war zone out there. Keep your head low and use our online services to stay safely away from churches.
When the mother and father of a new born child in Tennessee could not agree on which surname the child should have, they went to court. However, when the judge heard that his first name was Messiah, she ordered that it be changed to Martin and include both surnames. The judge explained that only Jesus Christ had earned the right to that name. Many people of other religious beliefs might disagree. In other states, it is possible to call your son Messiah. The name has risen from 633 most popular in 2010 to 387 in 2012 according to the official website of the US Social Security. Arya has risen most among female names, probably due to the popularity of “A Game of Thrones”. There are laws in many countries prohibiting people from giving certain names to their children. Originally Sweden introduced the law to prevent commoners giving royal names to their offspring. Life was so much easier when you could tell a person’s rank from their name. Sweden has used that law to prevent parents calling their children Metallica and Superman. New Zealand too controls what names parents can bestow on their fortunate children. They have turned down Lucifer, Messiah, Queen Victoria, Christ, President and *. However, they did slip up a few times and allowed twins called Benson and Hedges and an unfortunate child called Number 16 Bus Shelter. Back in Tennessee, the mother of Martin, formerly known as Messiah, is appealing the case. She should get a t-shirt made stating “I have not the Messiah” on the front and “I’m a very naughty girl” on the back.
Following an embarrassing interview on Fox News with Resa Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Time of Jesus of Nazareth”, his book has shot to number one in the Amazon Book charts. The book describes Jesus as a zealot Jewish preacher who started a revolutionary movement that was so threatening that he was captured, tortured and executed as a state criminal. Looking beyond the myths and examining historical documents he describes Jesus as a man of conviction rife with contradiction. He preaches peace, but tells his followers to carry swords. He urges his disciples to keep his identity secret and promises to liberate them from Roman rule. The book also examines why the early Christian church portrayed Jesus as a peaceful teacher rather than a revolutionary.
In the interview, Ms Green asks “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”
Surprised Mr Aslan answers “I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim. It’s not that I’m just some Muslim writing about Jesus, I am an expert with a PhD in the history of religions.”
Buzzfeed posted the interview under the title “Is this the most embarrassing interview for Fox News ever?” and it went viral with about 4.5 million views.
Later a delighted Mr Aslan told the New York Times, “I’ll be perfectly honest — I’m thrilled at the response that people have had to the interview, you can’t buy this kind of publicity.”
At the end of the World Youth Day week of celebration, the Pope’s Mass had to be moved to the beach of Copacabana due to weather changing the original location into a mud field. The shoreline most famous for night clubs and partying was swamped by over 3 million people enthusiastically greeting the pope and offering up babies to be kissed.
In his sermon Pope Francis encouraged young people who have protested against corruption to continue their efforts, fight apathy and offer a christian response. Many young people in Brazil have taken this as support for peaceful change, not a crusade. I agree that there cannot be apathy to corruption, but as for religion, that is a different matter.
Meanwhile, back in Rome, the media are being anything but apathetic towards Pope Francis and have been busy digging up dirt. The Italian clergyman hand-picked by Pope Francis to be papal delegate for the Vatican Bank, Battista Ricca, had a damning story published in the Italian press just days before the pope left for Brazil. The article charged that while Battista served in Uruguay from 1999 to 2001, he had a live-in male lover, cruised gay bars and brought a young man back to the Vatican embassy and ended up trapped in an elevator with him overnight. So far, Battista has retained his position. Additionally journalists have discovered that a woman Pope Francis appointed to a commission to study reform in the Vatican, Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, while having excellent credentials, has issued some Tweets critical of the church. And just to round it off, the media published a letter allegedly written by Nunzio Scarano, the former Vatican accountant, arrested for his part in a plot to smuggle $26 million in cash, to Pope Francis protesting his innocence. He claims to have documents to show Pope Francis secretly, which will prove that he only acted under the direction of his superiors.
So I guess Pope Francis will not be going home for a rest. There’s a lot going on.
Personally, I blame Homer Simpson. In one episode he prayed “I know I’m not normally a praying man, but if you’re up there, please, save me, Superman!” So that got people thinking about the similarities between them. That in turn has led to Warner Bros targeting their Man of Steel movie at US Christian audiences by explicitly comparing Superman to Jesus. Together with a marketing firm, they have set up the Man of Steel – Ministry Resource web site, to encourage Ministers to use Superman in their sermons. They thoughtfully provide Sermon Outlines such as “Jesus – The Original Superhero” and “Jesus – More than our Super Man”. Unfortunately, I’ve missed all the advance screenings of Man of Steel for pastors, but I don’t think they were in my town anyway. How in God’s name are we going to nail the man of steel to a crucifix?
It seems a lot of atheists would like to go to a Sunday service, but most are put off by the believing in God aspect. Now, in North London at least, there is a monthly Sunday service for non-believers, loosely following the format of Christian services. The Sunday Assembly, as it is called, was started by comedians Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones. They have readings, sermons about caring for others, silent reflection, sing songs like “Don’t stop me now – Queen” and of course take up a collection. It’s everything you would expect from a religion, apart from the faith in God bit. For the second meeting, the service attracted too many people and some had to be directed to a nearby bar to watch a video feed of the event. It turns out that religion can be fun if you omit the faith in god. Watch the video on BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-21325805
The Sunday Assembly website (sundayassembly.com) has a link to help you if you want to set it up in your area. I think it’s a great idea, but I’m too much of an Apathist to do anything about it. however, if you start it up in my area, I’ll drop in from time to time.