Monday, 17 November 2008

Even the church now admits that education is corrosive to religion!

Bishop says education is ruining the church, and for some reason he seems to think that's a bad thing.

Essentially this guy (Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster) is saying that when a catholic goes to university, they get all sorts of funny ideas about most of Catholicism being bullshit and then they have the gall to continue to call themselves Catholic and go around telling other Catholics what they've learned!
And apparently their education has "a dark side, due to original sin". What the fuck? Original sin, let us remember was caused by Adam and Eve eating fruit from a tree that God told them not to; an event the catholic church even admit never fucking happened.

Again I offer you what I think may be becoming my catchphrase "You just can't make this shit up; except, of course, that someone did."

Friday, 7 November 2008

Fuck Christmas!

Fuck Christmas! Fuck it in its stupid ass.

Christmas is shit. The never-ending ads on TV trying to sell me Christmas crap are shit. Crowded streets and shops are shit. Millions of Christmas lights using valuable energy is shit. Loads of people having to go places they don’t want to because of family obligations is shit. Christmas music is really shit. Christmas music repeated endlessly in every fucking shop and pub is really fucking shit. Annual “What I’ve done this year” bulletin letters are shit. Buying gifts for people who don’t buy you presents is shit. Being given a gift by someone for whom you don’t have a present is shit. Getting shit presents you don’t feel you can immediately sell or throw in the bin because you feel you might offend the giver is shit. Christmas cards, office Christmas parties, Salvation Army bands, children singing carols, Cliff Richard, lying to kids about Santa: all shit. Christmas TV specials, even ones of shows that are normally good, are shit. Houses covered in lights, illuminated giant Santas on ladders or in sleighs or giant inflatable snowmen are shit. Advocaat, “Eat Me” dates, net-bags of nuts, turkey, sprouts, jokes from crackers, “gifts” from crackers, people buying mountains of food because the shops will be shut for a whole day: shit, shit, shit, all of it.

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: Jesus, if he was born at all, almost certainly wasn’t born on the 25th of December; that date was almost certainly chosen by the Romans because that’s when the festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun) fell. You would think that if a religion was meant to hold the birth-date of their messiah as some special event that Jesus himself might’ve said that, or even told people when it was, but apparently he never mentioned it; it certainly doesn’t appear in the bible anywhere, or even in the apocrypha*. You can’t even rely on the gospels to decide the year he was supposedly born, let alone the month and day. The census of Quirinius, explicitly mentioned by name in the gospel of Luke (2:1-7), the one Joseph and Mary were supposedly going to, was held after Quirinius took power over Judea in 6/7AD; while Matthew tells us that they lived in Bethlehem, so no need for the census to take them there, and only moved to Nazareth later. He also tells us that Herod the Great massacred all young male children in the village of Bethlehem† (Matthew 2:16-18), trying to murder Jesus, but Herod died in 4BC. So Jesus was born after 7AD and before 4BC? Hmmm, something is not quite right here. Oh and the census was for Roman citizens only, and thus didn’t cover supposedly pure-bred, descendant of David, red-sea pedestrians like Joseph the carpenter‡. The whole nativity stuff in Bethlehem was just fabricated to make it look like Jesus fulfilled some old Jewish prophecy. It’s not even mentioned in some of the gospels; in fact even the Gospel of John even tells us of complaints that Jesus cannot be the messiah as he wasn’t born in Bethlehem (John 7:41-42). It’s fiction; just all made up; no stable, no manger, no star, no shepherds, no magi (that’s wise-men or “kings” for the ill-educated among you), no angels or little lambs, no gold, frankincense or myrrh; none of it; It’s all bollocks, sorry.

So having established that the principle on which we base the three-month long orgy of commercialism we call Christmas is just plain false, what’s actually wrong with it? Surely it’s only a nice tradition that we can and should all enjoy? The festival of goodwill to all men, surely? A time for remembering that we have it well, gathering with our friends for a little life-affirming merriment, and perhaps giving a little something to the poor? Well if that’s all it was I’d be happy to go along with it and you wouldn’t hear a word of complaint from me, but unfortunately it has been hijacked by hucksters and hawkers, who have turned it into a festival of greed and ostentatious waste that lasts fully one quarter of the year.

Christmas cards

What a fucking waste of paper? OK I’ll grant that having a time of year when you think about those you haven’t seen for a while and send them a token to show you haven’t forgotten them is a nice thought. But to friends you see all the time? Your spouse? Your fucking workmates? If giving a bit of card with a picture of a snowman on it to someone you hate but are forced to see every day isn’t a waste of time, money, effort and natural resources I don’t know what is. And if the people you do like and see all the time don’t know that you like them already then a card probably wont help and is frankly the most pathetic way of trying to show it.

Christmas presents

People like giving gifts, people really like receiving gifts. However, the idea that you have to give gifts to all your friends and family all at once is just a colossal pain in the arse that leads to all the big-businesses rubbing their hands with glee at all the cash they can get from us poor bastards who’ll buy any old shit just to have a prezzie for great-aunt wossname who we never see and don’t like anyway. Boots lily-of-the-valley twat-freshener? She’ll love it. C’mon people, let’s give it up and save the cash for either A. giving to charity or B. getting that person a better birthday present than usual when you have more time to think of a decent gift and the shops aren’t full of pointless tat and crowds of inconsiderate idiots buying it. If you were going to buy me a present, I’d rather you gave that money to charity, especially if you were going to go for a “thought that counts” type present from the “3 for 2” aisle. I don’t want it and that money could feed a child in Africa for a month; assuming of course you don’t give it to one of those “Christian” charities that will waste it setting up schools that do nothing but teach them about the bible, and that using a condom (likely the only thing that will save them from a lingering death) is evil. If you bought me something from my Amazon wish-list, excellent, thank you; that is the thought that counts: the thought that you might buy me something I actually want. I really do appreciate the gesture, but I would still prefer you to have given the cash to a worthy cause.

Christmas Lights on Houses

I’ve no serious objection to the odd string of lights tastefully strung from your eaves or windowsill, except that the combined energy waste of everyone doing so probably contributes significantly to global warming, but c’mon, an entire house smothered with gaudy flashing monstrosities? Who’s that for and why? Not only is it a monumental waste of our dwindling energy reserves and a contributor to global warming, it’s also fucking gaudy, hideous, and makes your house look like the eyesore abode of an over-extended family of charving scumbags. Save the money you’re spending on lights and electricity and buy your school-age kids (and their kids) some books for fuck’s sake.

Christmas TV

Actually, I’ve been finding it increasingly OK over the last few years thanks to the advent of cable TV “on-demand” services and PVR technology. Last year I rarely had to watch any of the re-runs of shit Christmas specials of yesteryear (Dad’s Army FFS!? Haven’t we been tortured enough?), Eastenders, The Queen’s Speech, or any of the twee movies that are hideous in their niceness. I could instead pretend Christmas wasn’t happening and watch Sharpe, Ray Mears, Coast, Planet Earth and the like. Last year the either the History Channel or National Geographic did a whole day of programming about why Christianity is all bunk, which was nice, but I bet we won’t get anything similar this year.

Christmas Music

Insipid drivel all of it. Look at the list of UK Christmas Number Ones, go on, LOOK AT IT! Now download all those songs and listen to them in one sitting, in the order of your choice. I defy you not to try to gouge out your inner ear with the nearest object that looks sharp/solid enough before you get halfway through. If by some miracle you do make it, invite the local old people’s home round to jostle you while you mime picking tat out of the “3 for 2” section and listen again and you will have accurately simulated the experience of Christmas-shopping in Boots or Woolworths.

Strangely I’ve nothing in particular against religious Christmas music, other than the obvious fact that it’s religious, at least it’s largely written by decent composers; when it’s murdered by pop-artists though it does become the world’s most execrable horror.

“Carol” Singers

Sorry kid, badly shouting “We wish you a merry Christmas” through the letterbox doesn’t entitle you to free handout. Fuck off and beg somewhere else. If you can actually sing and will sing an actual Christmas carol I’ll to do my best not to stab you, although I can’t promise anything, but either way you’re still not getting any cash.

A Christmas Carol

When I wrote my list of things I wanted to rant about last year, I put this on it, so it must’ve fucked me off in some way, but currently I can’t remember why. It’s shit anyway.


Christmas gifts on display at the start of October! FFS! Is Christmas not bad enough without making it last for three fucking months?

I could go on, but I think the prosecution rests here. So, you can don your “gay apparel” and watch the year’s most depressing episode of the most execrable example of the detestable genre that is soap opera, if you like. Then you can follow it with a speech by another pointless relic of an embarrassing history if you must, but I won’t be joining you. Next year, we’re going to take a holiday in whatever place around the world celebrates Christmas the least, although finding one may be hard; I understand there was a Christmas tree stall in Baghdad square a few year back. So it’s the North Pole here we come. Ooh maybe we’ll see Santa!
*The gospels that the Romans decided were too embarrassing, or not sufficiently misogynistic, to be included in the New Testament.

† A mass-slaughter for which there is not one shred of actual contemporary evidence.

‡This just reminded me of an old gag:

Jesus dies and goes up to Heaven. The first thing he does is look for his father Joseph; He looks high and low but can’t find him.

He asks St. Peter "Where is my father?" But St. Peter says he doesn't know.

He asks the archangel Gabriel "Where is my father?" But Gabriel doesn't know.

He asks John the Baptist "Where is my father?" But John does not know. So he wanders Heaven, impatiently searching.

Suddenly he sees out of the mist an old man coming toward him. The man is very old, with white hair, stooped over a little, and seems familiar. It’s been years since he’s seen his father so he’s not sure if it’s him so he says to the old man. "Who are you?"

"Oh, please help me, my name is Joseph, I was once a carpenter, I am just an old man in search of my son, you look a little like him." Jesus is very curious. Could this be his father?

He demands "Tell me of your son, old man."

"Oh, you would know him if you saw him. Holes in his hands where the nails used to be, he was once nailed to a cross, you know..."

"Father!" Screams Jesus, throwing his arms wide to reveal the holes in his hands.

"Pinocchio!" yells the old man.
FYI: Geppetto is a nickname for Giuseppi, which is the Italian form of Joseph.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

My Christmas Wishlist

I fucking hate Christmas. It's a three month long celebration of commercialism centred around a myth. With that in mind, as in previous years, I've decided to ask my friends not to buy me stuff this year, but instead to spend any money they would have used to buy me a present that'll do some good in the world. My wife and I sponsor a child in Africa through Plan International, a wholly secular organisation doing good works where it's needed, regardless of religion, and without wasting any of the money given to them indoctrinating children into foreign religions. They have a selection of gifts you can buy for disadvantaged children all over the world at a range of prices. Here are some of my suggestions for things you might like to purchase for them on my behalf this festive season, please demonstrate your goodwill to all men (and women obviously) by not buying me something I don't need, and instead giving to those do really need stuff.
P.S. Plan's wish list feature is a bit rubbish and won't tell me that you've given anything on my behalf. I'll just assume that my friends have given something and that other people haven't, but if you would like to let me know what you've given, please feel free to post a comment on this blog.
Merry Mythmas everyone. :)

Register a child (includes mosquito net)
Price: £6.00

Give a child an identity. In Burkina Faso, if a child isn’t registered at birth, they are not officially recognised. This means they won’t be able to receive any health care, urgent medical treatment, go to school, own their own land or vote. Just £6 will give two children birth certificates and a big mosquito net to help protect them from malaria.

Three Textbooks
Price: £6.00

This gift will provide one child at school in the Philippines with three text books, covering Maths, English and Science. As a result, the quality of their education will be greatly improved. They’ll no longer have to share with lots of other children in their class, making the learning process much more enjoyable.

Water for school children
Price: £7.00

Give a child in Ethiopia access to safe, clean water at school. This gift will help to install water systems in two primary schools, providing safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities. Children will no longer have to travel long distances during lesson time to fetch water and will be less likely to catch water borne diseases from a dirty source.

Sight for sore eyes
Price: £8.00

Give the gift of sight to two children in Nepal. They will be screened for eye problems and receive treatment they may need in the form of glasses or medicine. What’s more, you’ll also be helping to set up and maintain special eye clinics which make these much-needed tests possible.

Chickens for change
Price: £10.00

Give a family in Uganda a feathered friend. This cracking gift will provide a family with a hen or cock and training on how to keep livestock. By breeding the chickens and selling their produce, the family will be able to earn an income. Plus the eggs will help to improve the diet and health of the children.

Village vaccinations
Price: £12.00

Be a life saver. Help to improve the health of young children and their families in Burkina Faso. This precious gift will not only immunise 30 villagers from meningitis. It will also help to raise awareness of the importance of meningitis vaccinations throughout the communities.

Accessible education for girls
Price: £14.00

Help give girls in Nepal better access to education. This special gift provides a girl with essential materials for a whole year and includes text books, school bags and stationery. If parents can’t provide these basic materials children can’t go to school and where there are several children, it’s often the son’s education that takes priority. This gift will give girls the same opportunities.

"Little doctor" training
Price: £16.00

This gift will provide 2 children with special healthcare lessons in Niger, so they can promote better personal hygiene, first aid and healthcare practises in their school. Teachers will be given lesson materials and training on these subjects, as well as the child to child teaching approach. The children will be encouraged to pass on their knowledge and will be able to use the school health and hygiene kit provided.

Fruit tree seedlings
Price: £20.00

Help a child to grow. By learning how to grow trees from seedlings, Ugandan children and their families will eat more fruit, improve their health and even earn an income by selling the surplus produce. Every child receives 20 seedlings and the community as a whole gets agricultural management training.

School dinners
Price: £21.00

Food for thought. This gift will provide 50 nutritious school dinners for girls in Sierra Leone who have been left vulnerable with little or no family after the civil war. This is a vital part in a project that aims to give girls their final years of education and board, before they are old enough to leave. It will provide them with more chance of getting a job and having a safer future.

Farmyard Friends
Price: £30.00

Help malnourished children have a better chance of survival. This gift will help to buy cows, goats, chickens and ducks for families in the Philippines, providing eggs and milk as well as a source of income. They will be trained on the care and management of these animals. And community-based enterprises will be set up, so that they will be able to generate a shared income across families.

After-school education for girls
Price: £35.00

Help send girls in Senegal to the top of the class. This gift will provide a practical opportunity for girls who have missed out on education and want to catch up with their learning and maximise their potential in their community. It will encourage girls to stay in school and acquire basic skills, as well as allowing them to achieve some educational independence.

Well water
Price: £40.00

Keep a family fit and well in Pakistan with safe drinking water. This gift gives one family access to a safe local source of water by helping their community to build a well, fitted with hand pumps. They'll also learn how to look after and maintain it. Women and children won't have to travel for miles to get water for basic household use and having safe drinking water will help to prevent disease.

Tools for teaching
Price: £50.00

Give teachers the tools to teach. In Indonesia teachers need tools and training to encourage a child’s educational development. It will help them achieve better results and make lessons more interesting. This wonderful gift provides books, school supplies, play and art materials and teacher training activities.

Vocational training for girls
Price: £50.00

Improve girls’ lives in Bangladesh. This gift will help to increase their chances of employment, as well as their earning potential, by allowing them to take part in a structured vocational training programme. Not only will they learn a new skill – either dressmaking or electronic technology. They’ll also receive expert support to help them get a job at the end of the programme.

Forgotten children
Price: £60.00

Along with Sponsorship, Plan’s Forgotten Children programme is one of the ways in which people support our work with children through monthly contributions. This special gift is unique because it runs for a whole year and gives support to a range of projects focussed on helping children in extremely vulnerable circumstances, such as those who have been trafficked into illegal labour or are living and working on the streets.

It also includes the opportunity for your friend or family member to receive two updates on some of the projects they have supported during the year, to see how their gift is really helping.

Support a school for disabled children
Price: £70.00

Help a school for disabled children in Tanzania. You could give these children a much richer school experience by providing specialist help and equipment. Your gift will help to improve the facilities at a school for disabled children and provide specialist teaching aids for children with special needs.