The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Well that was nice of Him

So, god ignored all the millions of daily requests for an end to war, disease and good parking spaces to give a large sum of money to the overweight, middle-class mother of a young American man who doesn’t believe in him anyway.

Yeah, OK.

That the man thinks this is what happened is bad enough. But what’s truly terrifying is that we live in a world where a major network reports it as news, rather than the asinine dribble that it so obviously is.

Damage, Inc.

I have a lot of sympathy and understanding for religious people in general, but religious leaders make me really, really angry. They always seem to escape their own teachings unscathed. Their hapless followers, not so much:

America’s National Public Radio interviewed groups of people who believed they would be “raptured” on May 21, with many saying they no longer cared about keeping their jobs or worrying about their retirement funds.

One Orlando couple, Adrienne and Joel Martinez, who have a toddler daughter and a baby on the way, quit their jobs and decided to spend all of their money.

Harold Camping may very well have believed his Rapture prediction, and good intentions often excuse bad decisions, but there has to be a limit to how much damage you can cause before you are labelled an irresponsible charlatan. And given that Camping has already come out with a revised Rapture date, he is certainly doing everything he can to reach that limit.

Which makes a nice seguey to these guys:

An evangelical offshoot of Hillsong Church has opened a “School of the Supernatural” offering a course it reportedly says teaches the power to cure cancer, help women conceive and bring the dead back to life.

These people, the religious leaders I mean, cause real harm, to real people. They prey on vulnerabilities and fears, and are never held to account for the damage they inflict. We force companies to provide refunds for misleading products, but if you’re a religion, we’ll give you a tax-break.

Time for a rethink, methink.

Harold Camping speaks… sort of

So the Rapture came and went, and I didn’t see a single zombie. Gutted.

Needless to say, most of us knew ol’ Harold was merely giving harmless stupidity a bad name. There were, however, quite a few people who took his claims seriously, and they are now the poorer for it. This poor man spent $140,000 of his own money on Rapture advertisements, and appeared genuinely distressed when 6pm arrived but Jesus didn’t.

Harold himself is feeling a little disappointed at the moment, as International Business Times discovered when they knocked on his door:

“I’ll need a day,” he says.

Well, Harold, I hope you use that day to think up an apology to all the people you have defrauded, rather than another excuse for why your “calculation” was wrong. Again.

Returning some of your massive fortune would be nice, too.

10 Questions for Harold Camping

1. Where is today’s countdown video? I miss you!

2. What’s the age cut-off for automatic rapture? I mean, I assume all new-borns will be raptured, but what about one or two year olds?

3. Are only the children of Christian parents raptured? What about a one day old child with Muslim parents? What about the six week old embryo of a Jesus-hating atheist?

4. Will blastocysts also be raptured, and if so, will said blastocst exit the mother via the belly-button or vagina?

5. Will you be compensating couples who have their frozen embryos raptured?

6. Will conjoined twins be separated at rapture time, or will they have to stick together in heaven?

7. I’m pretty sure I have nits. And a tapeworm. Will my nits and tapeworm be removed before rapture? I hope so… I don’t want to be made fun of on my first day in heaven.

8. What if I change my mind about getting raptured when I’m, say, ten metres off the ground? Will Jesus just unceremoniously dump me, or place me down gently?

9. I’m curious about the zombies. If I completely remove a zombie’s head, will that stop them being raptured, or will they simply respawn, like in Call of Duty games?

10. You said that you arrived at 21 May 2011 by adding 722,500 days to 1 April 33. Does it bother you that your calculations are actually 11 days out? (one day because you are supposed to count the first day or the last day, but not both, and 10 days because when they changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, Thursday, 4 October 1582 was followed by Friday, 15 October 1582)

Counting down with Harold Camping…

That enigmatic robot-voiced super-brain, Harold Camping, has been counting us down to the May 21 Rapture with daily videos on YouTube. Here’s the first:

It’s good to see that he possesses the idiotic certainty of his many predecessors.

Here’s a quick summary of the rest.

13 days before The Rapture
A caller asks, if Harold is so sure the world is going to end, surely there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be willing to hand over all his worldy possessions beforehand…? Needless to say, Harold dodges the question. Perhaps he’s not as certain as he makes out.

12 days before The Rapture
Harold tells us that there will be a lot of zombies walking around on May 21. Must remember to watch Shaun of the Dead on May 20.

11 days before The Rapture
“If you are still preaching in a church”, cue dramatic music, “you… are… a… servant… of… SATAN”. Kind of agree with him on that one.

10 days before The Rapture
“Numbers are words. Numbers are words. Well, now, the number 17 is a word”. Last time I checked, numbers were actually numbers, but anyway… In this video, Harold dazzles us with the rigorous calculations that led him to the date of May 21. More on this in a later post.

9 days before The Rapture
Sorry, I fell asleep during this one. No idea what it’s about.

8 days before The Rapture
Harold gives himself a well-deserved pat on the back for being the longest serving radio host in the history of the universe.

7 days before The Rapture
He seemed to be running out of new material at this point, because he’s pretty much just cobbled together a few sound bites from the previous seven videos. Oh, and there is no chance that The Rapture won’t happen on May 21.

6 days before The Rapture
Harold confirms what we suspected all along – it’s all the gays’ fault!

5 days before The Rapture
In which the Family Radio Internet Department, a guy named Guy, looks lovingly at his answering machine. Seriously good viewing.

4 days before The Rapture
Harold explains why he was wrong with his previous Rapture prediction, but not this one.

3 days before The Rapture
In this video, posted just over an hour ago, we meet Harold’s wife of 68 years, see what looks to be a paid advertisement for The Rapture in USAToday, and learn that Harold likes pretty much anything, except spicy foods. It’s also starting to look like Harold may not actually make it to May 21.

But I sooo hope he does.

An open letter from The Gays of Uganda

I just received this open letter, and thought I should pass it on…

“Dear Ugandan Legislature,

We just wanted to write and tell you how grateful we are that you haven’t completely abandoned the proposed anti-gay legislation. You guys are the best! Here’s why:

You care about the little people
We think it’s awesome that you take such an interest in our love lives. Politicians are supposed to only worry about the big issues – but not you guys. You are so magnaminous and loving that, despite nearly 130 children per 1,000 dying before the age of five, child labour and marriage rates of 36% and 46% respectively, a life expectancy of just over 50, and over a quarter of the population being illiterate, you still take time out of your busy schedules to keep an eye on the freely-chosen bedrooom activities of a tiny subsection of the population. Thank you so much!

You are true to god’s word
Let’s be honest… with 96% of our population following either Jesus or Mohammad, it’s pretty clear that, as a country, we think god is pretty awesome. And whether you follow Jesus or Mohammad, the rule is the same – homosexuality is a sin.

It’s just such a shame that we can’t get this through our heads! We just can’t help thinking that, as an activity that affects no one but the two people involved, and only adds to the amount of happiness in the world, it really can’t be that bad. But, thankfully, we have you here to save us from our vile temptations, and remind us that it is that bad, and we need to be put to death for it. You are smart enough to know that an eternity in hell isn’t punishment enough, and for that we are thankful!

Also, we just wanted to say… the bible says it’s better to give than to receive, and we think that’s tops.

You are diligent
You ran out of time this time, but we know you will follow your hearts, and reintroduce the bill later in the year.

You have an eye for detail
It is just awesome that you singled out disabled homosexuals for a special mention. All of our disabled members were rather chuffed that you remembered them!

You aren’t hypocritical
We know that there is no chance that any of you are closet homosexuals, and, even if some of you are caught in homosexual relationships, you will all have valid reasons that don’t apply to the rest of us. Probably along the lines of “I tripped while walking naked down the alley and landed on that gay man’s penis”.

In conclusion… see you at the gallows, and fuck you.

Yours sincerely,

The Gays of Uganda”

Uh oh…

It looks like it might be time to recall our ambassador, revoke the passports of our IPL players, and dust off the old ‘duck and cover’ videos. An Australian just put a Hindu goddess on a swimsuit. This shit could go nuclear.

Well, that may be a slight exaggeration. But some Hindus in India are mightily pissed off:

Demonstrators in Amritsar burned the Australian flag and waved placards on Sunday in protest at a skimpy swimsuit print depicting the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, which was shown at Australian Fashion Week.

Personally, I’m offended by (among other things, and in no particular order) sexism, racism, homophobia, violence, slavery, paedophilia, willful ignorance, and religiously-inspired bigotry (often the sole source of the previous seven). Pictures of imaginary deities on swimsuits don’t do much to incite my indignation. It is, after all, just a picture.

Also, a tip for the future… if you’re offended by a picture, you might want to consider whether it’s sensible to express your anger by printing off a few hundred copies yourself.

The Heavy

All I can say is… wow.

And thanks, Bimmo, for the recommend.

Funny, yes. But ethical?

There is a certain type of Christian that is obsessed with the end of the world. Specifically, the end of the world that heralds Christ’s Second Coming – when all are raised bodily from the dead, and the righteous are taken into god’s bosom (if she has bosoms), and the wicked are cast into the eternal fires of hell, where they are apparently afflicted with something tortuous enough to result in the gnashing of teeth. And, while your average Christian believes that Jesus will make an appearance at some stage (either as described above, or some watered-down version thereof), there are some Christians who positively yearn for it.

Which leads us to Harold Camping, from Family Radio. This small group of Christians has done us all the extraordinary courtesy of calculating the precise date and time of The Rapture, the moment when Christ will come down to earth to gather up the faithful and take them to heaven. Those of us left behind apparently have 153 days to think about what we’ve done, before god destroys the entire universe, probably with some kind of bomb that we haven’t invented yet.

In case you’re wondering, it’s happening on May 21, 2011.

Now, this isn’t the first time someone has predicted the end of the world. It’s not even the first time that Harold Camping has predicted the end of the world. He originally predicted that it was going to happen in 1994, but, once the Rapture failed to eventuate, he discovered an error in his calculations, which he has now corrected (I think he had forgotten to carry the Son). So, this time, apparently, it’s for realz. I guess that means I have nine days left for my token, half-hearted conversion. Seemed to work for this guy.

Anyway, this obviously raises a few problems for the damned (what if there aren’t any more bartenders?), but don’t be thinking that it’s all peaches and cream for the raptured, either. I mean, they have their pets to worry about. That’s right, their pets. Apparently there are no dog parks in Heaven.

If you are planning on being raptured, though, there’s no need to panic. Thankfully, there are many kind-hearted atheists around to look after your pets for you after you’re gone (for a small fee, of course). Bart Centre is one such atheist.

I must admit that, when I first heard about this last year, I thought it was hilarious. My thoughts alternated between “Why didn’t I think of that?” and “How can people be that stupid?”. But, while it’s easy to laugh at idiots paying for an apocalyptic pet-minding service, it’s also fairly easy to see that it’s unethical.

When you think about it, it’s no different to the TV evangelist, or the astrologer, or the homeopath. In fact, you could even argue that it’s worse, since a homeopath, for example, probably believes in the crap they’re peddling, so you could at least say that they were peddling crap in a warped form of good faith. You can’t say that about Bart Centre – he’s peddling crap, and he knows it.

My imaginary friend is better than your imaginary friend

Have you ever wondered what happens when “turn the other cheek” meets “the religion of peace”?

Wonder no more. They kill each other.