Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

If this book isn’t already a cult classic, it most certainly should be. Subtitled The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch and released around 1990, Good Omens is a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett [although Pratchett did more of the writing and editing], both well-known fantasy authors in their own right.

Having not read either author’s work previously, this introduction to their comic genius has prompted me to purchase a few of their individual books which I’m eagerly looking forward to reading very soon.

The main plot revolves around the impending end of the world as we know it – Armageddon, and the efforts of the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, to prevent the Antichrist in the guise of Adam Young, an eleven-year old boy from bringing it about, having taken a liking (in their own ways) to humans and becoming inured to the comfortable life on earth over the millenia. Aziraphale we are told is the angel originally from the biblical Garden of Eden, while Crowley is better known as the talking snake who tempted Eve.

Being the respective representatives of God and Satan on earth, both form an unlikely friendship and conspire to ensure that the baby from Hell that Crowley is tasked to integrate into human society, does not actually grow up learning to differentiate between Good and Evil. Needless to say, in a comic mix-up at the hospital the future Antichrist winds up with the wrong family and grows up to be a relatively normal eleven-year boy who begins to utilize his unearthly powers without knowing it.

As the fateful day of the Rapture approaches, the race is on by both demon and angel to find the Antichrist a.k.a. Adam Young, to prevent him from initiating it. But there are also a host of other characters after him, some to help him end the world such as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding motorcycles, and others such as Anathema Device, the descendent of the witch Agnes Nutter, and Newton Pulsifer the witch hunter  descended from the man responsible for burning Agnes at the stake. The latter pair team up to find Adam and help save the world.

The rather neat ending in which the world is saved from annihilation was a bit of a let-down, but overall the many laughs and perceptive commentary about the state of the world up to that point, more than make up for it. I found the final thought from Adam [listed further below] is something everyone should aspire to.

Perceptive Commentary About the State of the World, or My Favorite Quotes

  1. God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.
  2. It happened to them at a certain age, wives. Twenty-five blameless years, then suddenly they were going off and doing these robotic exercises in pink socks with the feet cut out and they started blaming you for never having had ti work for a living. It was hormones or something.
  3. They’d been brought up to it and weren’t, when you got right down to it, particularly evil. Human beings mostly aren’t. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye jeans and playing guitars at people. Offer people a new creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow.
  4. It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.
  5. They were born into a world that was against them in a thousand little ways, and then devoted most of their energies to making it worse.
  6. People couldn’t become truly holy, he said, unless they also had the opportunity to be definitively wicked.
  7. There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that , despite thousands of years of manmade evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf.
  8. “Churches? What good did they ever do? They’m just as bad. Same line o’ business nearly. You can’t trust them to stamp out the Evil One, ‘cos if they did, they’d be out o’ that line of business…”
  9. He’d have liked to believe in a supreme God, although he’d have preferred a half-hour’s chat with Him before committing himself, to clear up one or two points. He’d sat in all sorts of churches, waiting for that single flash of blue light, and it hadn’t come. And he’d tried to become an official Atheist and hadn’t got the rock-hard, self-satisfied strength of belief even for that.
  10. It was then that Marvin got religion. Not the quiet, personal kind, that involves doing good deeds and living a better life; not even the kind that involves putting on a suit and ringing people’s doorbells; but the kind that involves having your own TV network and getting people to send you money.
  11. “I don’t see what’s so triffic about creating people as people and the gettin’ upset ‘cos they act like people,” said Adam severely. “Anyway, if you stopped tellin’ people it’s all sorted out after they’re dead, they might try sorting it all out while they’re alive.”
  12. There never was an apple, in Adam’s opinion, that wasn’t worth the trouble you got into for eating it.

The end of the world is (not) nigh…

Harold-Camping-FailIt’s less than 4 hours to go before 22 October rolls around here where I’m writing this, and it’s already that in some parts of the world.

If you’ve looked around and can’t find anybody you know suddenly missing for any strange reason, it could mean one of three things:

  1. We’re all evil bastards who don’t deserve to be Raptured, and have been left here on Earth to rot forever by [insert your version of a mean-spirited, invisible father-figure here]
  2. We’ve all been Raptured and are now in Heaven, which inexplicably looks just like Earth. And the whole event went unnoticed; occurred not with a bang, but with barely a whimper, as Camping is recorded as re-predicting.
  3. Harold Camping is a lying scumsucker.

Need I tell you which one I pick?

However, let’s for the hell of it, imagine if the first or second scenario played out. If we’re all evil bastards who have been left behind, it is highly likely that the mother of all floods is headed our way soon. In which case, I hope you have your Ark schematics approved.

If we’ve all been Raptured and are now in a Heaven, which looks and feels just like Earth, it probably signifies that we’ve all been had by the cosmic father-figure of our choice that we’ve trusted for so long. It therefore sucks being us.

I’m therefore quite justified in declaring that you can’t possibly win by believing in, and trusting invisible, all-powerful father-figures.

All that’s left is to wait for Camping to explain this monumental failure of prophesy, which I’m sure will be as hilarious as his previous attempts.

This time it’s for real, and you can bet your ticket to heaven on it…

Volcanic material thrust high into the atmosph...
Image via Wikipedia

So May 21, the day of the Rapture passed us by with only a small volcano eruption in Iceland to show for it. There was off course the more tragic tornado ripping through Joplin, Missouri in the USA a day later, but even the most optimistic Rapture devotee will find that to be a rather abysmal display of the Christian god’s wrath, as predicted by the now infamous Harold Camping.

I think by now most people who predicted that the Rapture would not happen are smugly making fun of Harold Camping and his credulous supporters – and rightly so. They are collectively responsible for spreading an ideology that undoubtedly is going to have severe repercussions for a lot of people; mostly those who fell for it. But it did provide hours of fun for the rest of us and for that we’re awfully thankful.

Considering that it’s not the first time he’s done something like this, it’s no wonder that so many people are not only calling Camping a fraudster and demanding that he reimburse those who donated money to him, but some are actually demanding that he be prosecuted criminally as well.

It must therefore come as something of a shock with Camping now claiming that the world will actually be ending on October 21, 2011. But an even bigger shock is that many of his followers who were naive enough to believe him the first two times, are actually going to believe him yet again. I don’t know whether to despise them even more, or take pity on them.

Perhaps its best to just let them continue thinking that the Rapture did indeed occur on May 21, and that the Christian god, finding nobody who qualified for ascension into his version of Heaven this time, have given them all a reprieve until October 21, when he will return to exact real vengeance and perhaps cause a few more volcanos to erupt, even extinct ones.

Somehow, I expect Camping to still have many delusional followers even after this, even if he’s found criminally liable in the interim.

Just to see the expression on the scumbag's face…

According to Christian fundamentalist Harold Camping, the world is about to end in less than two hours at 6PM…in this time zone at least. The event better known as the Rapture will herald the return of Jesus.

In a South African context, with the local elections just completed and the ANC still retaining a fairly large majority, the Rapture will have special appeal to all those facing the prospect of another 5 years of self-indulgent rule, and remembering the moronic statement President Jacob Zuma made a while back that the ANC will rule “until Jesus comes back.”

While most of us will not qualify to ascend to a Christian Heaven, I’m sure we would like the to Rapture to occur nonetheless, just so that we can see the silly smirk wiped off the face of the prat. I’m giggling hysterically right now just thinking of how utterly stupid Zuma and his unquestioning followers will feel as Jesus reappears to end their victory celebrations, just 3 days after maintaining their majority at the elections.

Off course, being a rational person I’m not expecting Jesus or the Rapture but I guess I should just be happy with the small consolation that the opposition DA not only won the Western Cape outright, they have made significant inroads elsewhere in the country. I’m sure many ANC big mouths who predicted that they would win all Provinces convincingly, are feeling like sheepish twats right now.

If that’s the only pleasure I’m going to get from this election, I guess it’s enough.

Cometh the hour, cometh the Rapture

According to Harold Camping who predicted that all righteous Christians in the world will be Raptured on 21 May 2011, 6PM is the magical hour when it will start.

While Camping didn’t elaborate in which time zone it would occur, we would have to assume that he either meant 6PM local time California where he is based, or 6PM simultaneously around the world. I’m sure all of you who don’t qualify to ascend to Heaven on May 21 because you’re ridiculously rational, will immediately see the problem with the magical hour put forward by Camping. Those of you who are non-Christian believers shouldn’t even bother.

But rather than spoil the last moments on Earth for the selected few by posing these scientific questions which you no doubt have no appreciation for, I would just like to wish you well on your flight upwards to Heaven. May you get great service and an open bar.

I would like to dedicate the song Rapture, by Blondie to all you good Rapturees. I hope you take one last listen to some good earthly tunes before you subject yourselves to an eternity of harp music. This particular version which is a clever mix of Blondie and Jim Morrison of the Doors, may not be to your purist tastes, but just live a little before you depart.

I’m sure those of you who will remain behind like me to face the Tribulation, will appreciate this too while we party on regardless.

The End of the World is at hand….again!

Yes folks, the end is nigh…again! According to Harold Camping, President of familyradio.com, May 21, 2011 “will be the date of the Rapture and the day of Judgement.”

This crackpot previously predicted that the Rapture was going to occur on September 6, 1994, but when Jesus failed to appear, the former civil engineer claimed to have made an error in his calculations. Meanwhile another crackpot religious organization, WeCanKnow.com claims that after the May 21 Rapture, god will destroy this world and those who presumably didn’t meet the Rapture criteria, with it.

Personally I don’t picture Zuma and the ANC running to Pastor Ray McCauley demanding a refund for having their “rule until Jesus returns” cut short. But you never know; some in the ANC are that conceited. I do however see certain people taking advantage of this impending imaginary disaster to make a one time offer to the ignorant to purchase Power Balance armbands in preparation for a balanced judgement at the Rapture.

The only certainty is that religious crazies are going to continue to make claims for the end of the world until the sun implodes or said religious crazies start a nuclear war, or something else totally natural [or unnatural] causes us to go extinct.