Twit of the Week – 01

This week there is a real toss-up between Robert Mugabe, demented incumbent dictator, and Angus Buchan self-appointed prophet and erstwhile potato farmer from Greytown, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Seeing as Mugabe qualifies for twit-of-the-decade, and I have already berated him in a previous post this week, Angus Buchan is the winner this time.
 
Why Angus you may ask? Well, an interview with Angus was broadcast on Carte Blanche last Sunday, probably after his “successful” Mighty Men Conference (MMC) held on his farm, one weekend in April this year. The good evangelist boasted how 60 000 men turned up; he claims they were not invited (“And you’re going to ask me – the next question is – who invited them? I don’t know – they just came. I mean, there were no big speakers here… it was just us.”). Turns out that 80 percent of those who attended were farmers, mostly Afrikaners, presumably looking for a quick-fix to all their problems. The fact that mostly Afrikaners attended is telling in itself; this group are becoming increasingly marginalized in the new Apartheid-free democratic South Africa. It’s easy to see that they were looking for some sort of miracle; maybe Angus could help them pray for a return perhaps, to the days when their bibles vindicated their abuse of black farm workers, and their hegemony on ruling the country.
 
But Angus, from a misguided sense of morality gleaned from his precious bible, decided to preach about the “erosion of masculinity” and how wives should “submit to their husbands”. Yes, this twit was preaching, in the modern era, the paternalistic doctrine so prevalent in the bible of Abraham’s days. This “men wear the pants around here” practise does not belong in the era of equality. Surely there ought to be laws against people who advocate sexism. Not to mention laws against evangelists misleading pitifully desperate people who have no self-respect or self-confidence. There should be free psychiatric help for all people in need of “saving”, to ensure that they don’t waste their money on enriching evangelists.
 
Those who visited this years MMC, coughed up R100 per person for the “privilege”. Considering that about 60 000 men attended, and most of Angus’s costs (by his own admission) were covered by religious benefactors, that’s a good bit of dosh to be pocketing for a weekend’s work. Religion is the world’s best business model. Imagine a business empire where you can sell shares in an imaginary product (salvation), use eternal damnation as your insurance policy/scare tactic/selling point, and make your customers believe that they can expect their dividends to be payed out in the afterlife. Ask Angus Buchan; he’s also discovered that religion sells better than potatoes…

The Atheist’s Cross to Bear

Following the AvC (Atheism vs Christianity) discussion threads on Google Groups, I am constantly amazed (shocked really) at how weak the arguments are, from the faithful brigade. And yet, they persist with weaker and yet more disingenuous arguments, each time they are shot down by Atheist posts. It’s not that hard to visualize them hanging onto a precipice, clutching onto the last few straws in desperation, while we Atheists pull them (the straws) out, one by one. It is pathetic in the extreme. And yet, this penchant to hang onto a discredited ideology, far from indicating a strong sense of perseverance, is an extremely dangerous proclivity.
 
Believers ask us Atheists why we care so much about their beliefs and faith. As a matter of fact, we are sometimes accused about being more concerned, obsessed even, with religion than they are. It is true we are overly concerned about religion and I’ve tried several times to come up with a rational reason why this is so. It has finally dawned on me that we are not so much concerned with religion as we are about the well being of the world. Yes, I now finally understand that Atheists are the world’s minders. We provide rationality and reason in a religious-mad world; we are the only force left that is preventing these religious nut-jobs from plunging us back into the dark ages. It is entirely  possible that if left unchecked they are liable to pre-empt global war to fulfill the “apocalyptic visions as described in Revelations”. As fellow Atheist, Psycho Dave (David W Irish) warns us on his blog Fundamentalist Deceit: An American Tradition, the evangelical-dominionist movement is all too real.
 
As Atheists, we keep the religious crowd, who are potentially fundamentalist, in check. You might say it is our cross to bear. Fellow Atheists, stand up tall and proud everywhere…

The night the world honoured one son of Africa and reminded us of the ignominy of another

Last night, I watched the live broadcast of the 46664 concert from Hyde Park, London; an event staged to both celebrate the forthcoming 90Th birthday of Nelson Mandela (on 18 July 2008) and to help raise funds for HIV AIDS projects. The evening was emotionally charged as artist after artist heaped well deserved praise on Madiba and the 46664 charity, and finally Madiba himself appeared on stage, supported by his wife Graca Machel to remind the world that the work he had started was not finished; he handed over responsibility to all of us with the words ” it’s in our hands” which is the slogan of the 46664 charity.

On this wonderful day which belonged to Madiba, sadly another gratuitously despicable event was playing itself out in his home continent, Africa, where an election was being shamelessly rigged and stolen. I am referring off course to Robert Mugabe, the tyrant from Zimbabwe who has gone ahead with the run-off elections, after blatantly intimidating his opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai into withdrawing, using violence and other disgraceful tactics. This despotic asshole had the temerity to ignore even Madiba’s wishes, and go ahead with his lunatic scheme to cling onto power.
These two events falling on the same day, reminded me of individuals from the government in my own country who are as disgraceful as Robert Mugabe on the one hand, and in total contrast to the ambitions of Madiba, on the other. Yes, you have guessed right. Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, whose unforgivable lack of leadership and implicit support for Robert Mugabe has contributed immensely to the dire situation in Zimbabwe, and the Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, whose stance on HIV AIDS is legendary for its utter stupidity, and the number of lives it has cost.
Africa is in desperate need of leadership, even morality. Oh, Madiba how I wish you were even thirty years younger; then you could have shown these three delinquents the error of their ways…

Bought Gas Lately?

Recently fuel prices have been sky-rocketing in South Africa, with an almost bi-weekly rise. This is not unique to us however, as prices seem to be soaring around the world. I’ve heard complaints from Europe and elsewhere but not too much from Northern America (must be a conspiracy there somewhere, involving G.W. Bush, big business and a certain war on terrorism). It is said that paying for fuel will be damn painful in a few months from now, but until then, happy driving.

Farewell George Carlin, 12 May 1937 – 23 June 2008

Sadly, George Carlin, arguably one of the greatest comedians of all time, has passed on. It was only recently that I called him a “God” and now I wonder if that was maybe an insult to a man who hated the concept. I certainly hope not.

George was regarded as the prototype for Richard Pryor, Cheech and Chong, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Bill Maher. Getting into trouble for pushing the envelope was all in a days work; squashing taboos was just plain enjoyable. Goodbye George, I will always remember you for the following take down of religion, certainly one of the funniest I’ve heard:

“When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit! But I want you to know something, this is sincere, I want you to know, when it comes to believing in God, I really tried. I really, really tried. I tried to believe that there is a God, who created each of us in His own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize, something is fucked up. Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Scapades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the résumé of a Supreme Being. This is the kind of shit you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently-run universe, this guy would’ve been out on his all-powerful ass a long time ago. And by the way, I say “this guy”, because I firmly believe, looking at these results, that if there is a God, it has to be a man. No woman could or would ever fuck things up like this. So, if there is a God, I think most reasonable people might agree that he’s at least incompetent, and maybe, just maybe, doesn’t give a shit. Doesn’t give a shit, which I admire in a person, and which would explain a lot of these bad results. So rather than be just another mindless religious robot, mindlessly and aimlessly and blindly believing that all of this is in the hands of some spooky incompetent father figure who doesn’t give a shit, I decided to look around for something else to worship. Something I could really count on. And immediately, I thought of the sun. Happened like that. Overnight I became a sun-worshipper. Well, not overnight, you can’t see the sun at night. But first thing the next morning, I became a sun-worshipper. Several reasons. First of all, I can see the sun, okay? Unlike some other gods I could mention, I can actually see the sun. I’m big on that. If I can see something, I don’t know, it kind of helps the credibility along, you know? So everyday I can see the sun, as it gives me everything I need; heat, light, food, flowers in the park, reflections on the lake, an occasional skin cancer, but hey. At least there are no crucifixions, and we’re not setting people on fire simply because they don’t agree with us. Sun worship is fairly simple. There’s no mystery, no miracles, no pageantry, no one asks for money, there are no songs to learn, and we don’t have a special building where we all gather once a week to compare clothing. And the best thing about the sun, it never tells me I’m unworthy. Doesn’t tell me I’m a bad person who needs to be saved. Hasn’t said an unkind word. Treats me fine. So, I worship the sun. But, I don’t pray to the sun. Know why? I wouldn’t presume on our friendship. It’s not polite. I’ve often thought people treat God rather rudely, don’t you? Asking trillions and trillions of prayers every day. Asking and pleading and begging for favors. Do this, gimme that, I need a new car, I want a better job. And most of this praying takes place on Sunday His day off. It’s not nice. And it’s no way to treat a friend. But people do pray, and they pray for a lot of
different things, you know, your sister needs an operation on her crotch, your brother was arrested for defecating in a mall. But most of all, you’d really like to fuck that hot little redhead down at the convenience store. You know, the one with the eye-patch and the clubfoot? Can you pray for that? I think you’d have to. And I say, fine. Pray for anything you want. Pray for anything, but what about the Divine Plan? Remember that? The Divine Plan. Long time ago, God made a Divine Plan. Gave it a lot of thought, decided it was a good plan, put it into practice. And for billions and billions of years, the Divine Plan has been doing just fine. Now, you come along, and pray for something. Well suppose the thing you want isn’t in God’s Divine Plan? What do you want Him to do? Change His plan? Just for you? Doesn’t it seem a little arrogant? It’s a Divine Plan. What’s the use of being God if every run-down schmuck with a two-dollar prayerbook can come along and fuck up Your Plan? And here’s something else, another problem you might have: Suppose your prayers aren’t answered. What do you say? “Well, it’s God’s will.” “Thy Will Be Done.” Fine, but if it’s God’s will, and He’s going to do what He wants to anyway, why the fuck bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me! Couldn’t you just skip the praying part and go right to His Will? It’s all very confusing. So to get around a lot of this, I decided to worship the sun. But, as I said, I don’t pray to the sun. You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci. Two reasons: First of all, I think he’s a good actor, okay? To me, that counts. Second, he looks like a guy who can get things done. Joe Pesci doesn’t fuck around. In fact, Joe Pesci came through on a couple of things that God was having trouble with. For years I asked God to do something about my noisy neighbor with the barking dog, Joe Pesci straightened that cocksucker out with one visit. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a simple baseball bat. So I’ve been praying to Joe for about a year now. And I noticed something. I noticed that all the prayers I used to offer to God, and all the prayers I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same 50% rate. Half the time I get what I want, half the time I don’t. Same as God, 50-50. Same as the four-leaf clover and the horseshoe, the wishing well and the rabbit’s foot, same as the Mojo Man, same as the Voodoo Lady who tells you your fortune by squeezing the goat’s testicles, it’s all the same: 50-50. So just pick your superstition, sit back, make a wish, and enjoy yourself. And for those of you who look to The Bible for moral lessons and literary qualities, I might suggest a couple of other stories for you. You might want to look at the Three Little Pigs, that’s a good one. Has a nice happy ending, I’m sure you’ll like that. Then there’s Little Red Riding Hood, although it does have that X-rated part where the Big Bad Wolf actually eats the grandmother. Which I didn’t care for, by the way. And finally, I’ve always drawn a great deal of moral comfort from Humpty Dumpty. The part I like the best? “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.” That’s because there is no Humpty Dumpty, and there is no God. None, not one, no God, never was. In fact, I’m gonna put it this way. If there is a God, may he strike this audience dead! See? Nothing happened. Nothing happened? Everybody’s okay? All right, tell you what, I’ll raise the stakes a little bit. If there is a God, may he strike me dead. See? Nothing happened, oh, wait, I’ve got a little cramp in my leg. And my balls hurt. Plus, I’m blind. I’m blind, oh, now I’m okay again, must have been Joe Pesci, huh? God Bless Joe Pesci. Thank you all very much. Joe Bless You!”

US Elections

I’m terribly disappointed that Hillary Clinton lost the democratic nomination for the upcoming elections. This is a setback for the democrats being returned to the oval office. In the race between Obama and McCain, I fear Obama may end up the loser with the American penchant, come time for voting, to choose conservatively between a veteran White candidate and an upstart Black dude. You see where I’m going with this…

I hope I’m wrong and the Americans can see past this conservatism and possible racial thing and elect Obama to the Presidency. America needs a change from the Republican hold which has dragged the country down. I also hope that Obama selects Hillary as Vice-president and she accepts. History in the making – America’s first Black president and female vice-president. It would be a joy to behold…

Atheism

Recently, I have been corresponding with a few people via e-mail, Christians mostly, debating various subjects concerning religion and the existance of God. I would prefer to conduct such debates through my blogs, but obviously not everybody has access to the Internet and the WWW. So I have taken to cutting and pasting some of my e-mail correspondence here, which is not ideal.

This morning I had a great idea: I’m going to compile a video (DVD) of some of the research I’ve found online, including YouTube videos, but I first have to check if there are any copyright restrictions. Over the last week alone, I found some videos on YouTube which are pretty impressive, and which I think needs a wider audience.

More about this project later…Filmstrip