Girl Scouts Insult My Intelligence

I’ve been struggling for the past several weeks.  You see, I came up with a better idea for my last post right after publishing it.  The problem is, my “better idea” will be even harder for people to stomach than “Dead Puppies Insult My Intelligence.”  In the interest of artistic freedom and general bad taste, I have decided to publish that other idea now.  If you are capable of being offended, please do not read any further.

Since these girls are no longer girls, I guess the image is safe to use here.  (For copyright information, go here.)

Since these girls are no longer girls, I guess the image is safe to use here. (For copyright information, go here.)

The following is a public service announcement from the writer of this blog.

If you or your loved ones happen to discover the flattened carcass of a girl scout lying on the road, please do not touch, eat, or otherwise disturb it.  God put roadkill on this earth so that the flies and vultures might prosper, for He loves the smallest and ugliest creatures on this earth as much as He adores the cute little girl scout.  The car that squished the girl scout is an instrument of His will.

God Bless Chrysler.

In keeping with the girl scout’s theological purpose, please wait for the county’s professional sanitation workers to properly dispose of her.  It is government’s proper role to serve as God’s right hand and clean up the mess He occasionally makes, no matter the odor you must endure while waiting, no matter how many children start weeping upon seeing the dead girl scout, no matter whether the girl scout would have consented to being part of this spiritually bureaucratic undertaking.

And while you wait, please be so kind as to remove the girl scout’s poo from the sidewalk.  It is unpleasant to look at.

Moral of the story: Most shocking blog posts can be made even more cringe-inducing by replacing the main character with a girl scout.

Dead Puppies Insult My Intelligence

The following is a public service announcement from the writer of this blog.

If you or your loved ones happen to discover the flattened carcass of a puppy lying on the road, please do not touch, eat, or otherwise disturb it.  God put roadkill on this earth so that the flies and vultures might prosper, for He loves the smallest and ugliest creatures on this earth as much as He adores the cute little puppy.  The car that squished the puppy is an instrument of His will.

God Bless Chrysler.

In keeping with the puppy’s theological purpose, please wait for the county’s professional sanitation workers to properly dispose of her.  It is government’s proper role to serve as God’s right hand and clean up the mess He occasionally makes, no matter the odor you must endure while waiting, no matter how many children start weeping upon seeing the dead puppy, no matter whether the puppy would have consented to being part of this spiritually bureaucratic undertaking.

And while you wait, please be so kind as to remove the puppy’s poo from the sidewalk.  It is unpleasant to look at.

No dead puppies to see here.  Please move along.  (Image credit: Adam Gerard)

No dead puppies to see here. Please move along. (Image credit: Adam Gerard)

The Ten Commandments Insult My Intelligence in Bed

We all know the childish little game that goes along with every fortune cookie.

Sometimes the game works correctly.  (Photo credit: The DeliciousLife)

Sometimes the game works correctly. (Photo credit: TheDeliciousLife)

For those of you who need a reminder, some people like to add “in bed” to the end of their fortunes.

And so…

Since many of my readers would like to feel a little younger, I have decided to behave like a child today.  Like a child who’s going to Hell.

I think I’ll play the bed game a little differently and see what we get.

1- I am the Lord thy God and thou shalt not have strange gods before me in bed.

This God person is obviously energetic if he can service so many people without having them worn down first by other partners.  Either that or the population will start dwindling rather quickly.

2- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain in bed.

Kind of like Santa Claus, he sees you when you’re sleeping AND when you’re sleeping with somebody.  Doesn’t he have better ways to spend his time?

3- Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day in bed.

Finally!  An excuse to not mow the lawn…

4- Honor thy Father and Mother in bed.

Um, gross.

5- Thou shalt not kill in bed.

Catholic Church: please take note.  The Bible says we should use condoms.

6- Thou shalt not commit adultery in bed.

Instead, thou shalt commit adultery on the kitchen table, in the bathtub, or under the car.

7- Thou shalt not steal in bed.

A commandment to benefit the wealthy hotel owners.  This prevents the theft of their precious pillows and teaches us that we must honor the primacy of corporate needs.

8- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor in bed.

Everyone loves to gossip while they’re sleeping or performing adult activities, right?  And people love it even more when their partner starts spouting off about someone else.

9- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife in bed.

Since you can’t commit adultery in bed, it kind of makes sense that you should covet her in a place where you can actually do something about your feelings.

This also looks like a good place to interpret the Bible literally for political purposes.  This commandment forbids sexual interest in certain women and the First Commandment prohibits sexual activity with certain men.  (The commandment says nothing about strange goddesses.)  It seems unlikely that one commandment would be addressed to women and another to men, so I can only assume that these two commandments constitute a Biblical justification for bisexuality.

10- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods in bed.

What kind of “goods” is meant here?  This might be a call for guys with smaller “goods” to feel more confident.  I’m impressed that this commandment was stated so diplomatically.

The Neverending Barrage Insults My Intelligence

I fear headaches.  (Photo Credit: Ashley Rose)

I fear headaches. (Photo Credit: Ashley Rose)

You just need to watch more TV because normal people love TV and you’ll love it eventually if I just keep talking about it and talking about it and talking about it even though I know you don’t care and then you should go out to a bar or two or three or fifteen because the only legitimate way to meet women is at a bar (because only the good women like to drink and drink and drink and drink) or at a steroid enhanced sports event or at all of those places you claim not to enjoy but you will enjoy them because I’ll make sure you do because I know what’s best for you because I have the wisdom because I live in front of the television and I go to church every Sunday, which in turn is something you ought to do because it’s good for the soul and because everybody does it and because the Bible says so and because it’s fun and I don’t want you to experience eternal damnation with the prostitutes and the murderers and the thieves and the intellectuals and the Kardashians and glory be to Jesus and glory be to Jesus again because you really can’t give Him too much glory, especially after you’ve joined me at the latest action movie with lots of sex and severed limbs and more dead bodies than a mortician sees in a lifetime plus blood spurting and spraying and flowing from the bodies across the floor, amassing into a puddle until the red liquidy goodness overflows the room and surges as a river like the Blood of Christ, which is what you ought to be thinking of in that movie theater because He is everywhere and you must do everything according to Christian beliefs and popular culture because that’s the only way you can be likeable and there’s absolutely positively no contradiction whatsoever between religion and everything I want you to do for the rest of the week and if you listen to me you can be saved both in this life and in the next and my selling of television and movies DOES NOT sound like the way I sell church and I can’t understand why you you would accuse me of trying to “sell” either one because they’re both wonderful and I don’t have to sell them and it’s completely unfounded to say that I don’t know when to take no for an answer because I do listen and I do stop talking and I do take your preferences into consideration and I am not being judgmental and I want you to be yourself and I want you to decide for yourself and I don’t want to force you into anything you’ll hate and I want you to come here and watch season six of Survivor with me but first let me give you the complete rundown on the first five seasons and then we can go to church and you will have so much fun…

Prejudice Insults My Intelligence

Notice to readers:

Today’s post veers far from the humorous tone you’re used to.

The following question came up today:

If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking?

That’s simple.  They’d probably start screaming “What do you mean they’re not Jewish?”

Ah yes, the joys of mixed marriages.  I still have the Jewish family name but I’m not considered Jewish because Mom isn’t and I was raised Catholic.  (In Judaism, Dad doesn’t matter.  Jews traditionally allow the children of Jewish mothers to be considered Jewish because antisemitic sexual violence was so often committed by outsiders.  The resulting children would be born into the Jewish community and it was felt that these kids should not be ostracized.)

As you can imagine, many members of a group that has often been persecuted grow to take stands on behalf of other persecuted groups.  (The Arab-Israeli conflict is too complicated to deal with as a possible exception.)  And “the Jews” themselves are a lot like Christians.  Imagine taking a bunch of Southern Baptists, pro-gay-marriage Episcopals, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and Amish from around the world and cramming them all into a tiny slice of land about the size of Israel.  Do you think they’d get along?  Jews are about the same, but there’s fewer of them.

Talking about “The Jews” is about as meaningful as talking about “The Christians.”

But back to the topic.  The Jews are a diverse people who tend to be among the most open and tolerant of other cultures and traditions.  Not all Jews, of course, but it seems to be true as a general tendency.

However, there seems to be one exception… and I don’t mean Muslims.  The non-Jewish children of mixed marriages aren’t treated very well, at least in my own personal experience.  It’s only a fraction of Jews who behave this way, but it’s a tendency I’ve noticed in how they behave towards me.

I’ve been offered help on my job search until I informed the person I’m not Jewish.  Then, bye-bye.  And I’ve seen a look of fear in their eyes when I tell them this and I’ve heard sneers (when I mention my brother) that “oh, there’s another one of you.”  And I’ve seen my knowledge disregarded from that point on.  Remember, I have a Ph.D.

I understand one fear that many Jews have.  Marrying outside the religion means the children may not be raised Jewish.  For a group that’s so small, extensive intermarriage threatens their continued existence.  But that’s no excuse for bigotry against human beings who came into existence after an interfaith marriage took place.

Stained Glass Windows Insult My Intelligence

With all the focus on Pope Francis’ humility, I thought I’d share a photo from my visit at St. Peter’s Basilica:

Among the details less commonly viewed...

Among the details less commonly viewed…

Besides the ornate wall decorations, you might have noticed the plain old windows Windows that allow fresh white sunlight to enter.  Windows that don’t seem to match the overall church.  Windows that an unemployed guy like me could afford to have at home.

If this weren’t usually a humor blog, I’d tell you that the windows resemble the current pope and reveal how stained glass is overrated when it comes to making a statement.  However, I prefer to have some fun because these windows also resemble the pope in other ways: they are fragile, old, and pale in color.

I’d suggest black windows but that sounds like something you’d see on a prom night limousine.  Not very religious…

Recruiting Minors Insults My Intelligence

It’s a normal, average, uneventful eighth-grade day in Catholic school.  I find myself surrounded by classmates, desks, books, the Holy Ghost, and all the paraphernalia typically associated with such an environment.   In our parish, eighth grade was the year us little kiddies experienced the sacrament of Conformation.  (Oops!  That’s supposed to be Confirmation.) Confirmation focuses on conformity, which is why I got the name messed up.  One pledges to God that one will remain affiliated with the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” for the rest of one’s days, confirming one’s baptismal vows and conforming to the church’s prescriptions.  It’s a big deal and the school treated it that way.

Fortunately, those of us attending the school didn’t have to exert any effort towards this end because confirmation classes took place in our regular religion course.  So… no outside time commitment except for attending the ceremony.  We didn’t have a priest or nun teaching the course, or anyone competent for that matter.  I think they had intentionally given our teacher this assignment so she couldn’t screw us up on the “important” subjects.

You have to love that logic in a Catholic school.

But this teacher did have one thing going for her.  Her manner and physical appearance resembled this lovely specimen:

Dana Carvey as The Church Lady

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To steer clear of copyright infringement, I shall refer to my teacher as Lady Church.

Lady Church was a pious little thing and I suppose that’s why the school didn’t fire her.  Every day in class, students would take turns reading one paragraph aloud from the textbook.  When a chapter ended, we took a test.  As you can see, not much teaching took place.

Usually.

One day, it was time for Lady Church to prepare us for our Confirmation interviews.  Before receiving the sacrament, we all had to pass an interview showing that we understood its significance and wanted to proceed.  After all, the sacrament was optional, to the extent that Catholic school students can permissibly abstain from religious proceedings at the center of a grade-bearing course.  Even the dabblers in Satan worship who I wrote about here didn’t refuse.  God bless the path of least resistance.

But I digress.   Lady Church had to prepare us for those interviews and the textbook did not include any relevant information.  Would she stand before us and stutter and stammer and pontificate incoherently?  Surprisingly, no.  Lady Church was one of the interviewers and she spoke to us directly in class that day, triumphantly providing us with the interview questions and correct answers.   Just memorize it and spit it back.

“Just memorize it and spit it back” pretty well sums up daily life in Catholic religion classes, at least in my experience.  But that’s not why I write today.  I was 13 or 14 at the time.  My decision-making capacities were, by law, insufficient for me to pursue relations with my sexy homeroom teacher.  I was not considered mature enough to drink alcohol responsibly and not old enough to make sufficiently informed political judgments to allow me to vote.  And if I had committed murder, my mental immaturity would have meant that I couldn’t be imprisoned beyond my 18th birthday.  However, 14-year-olds receive the “freedom” to “choose” whether they want to affiliate themselves with a religious institution (but not with a spouse) for life.  Or until they realize the lunacy of keeping a promise to a deity they don’t worship.  Or until they realize that few organizations besides their church let children make lifetime vows… and then hold them to their word.

Well isn’t that convenient?  Who could inspire such shenanigans?  Could it be Satan?

Sorry.  I couldn’t resist.  But… December 23rd has arrived and once again I’m preparing to observe what remains a secular holiday for me.  Lady Church is my holy ghost.

Do Absentee Stories Insult My Intelligence?

If you follow this blog, you may remember this grand photo I posted with no explanation not too long ago:

grand

I’ll discuss the photograph relatively soonish, I think.

In the meantime, I’d like to tell you about a book I’ve been reading: “My Name is Red” by the Turkish author Orhan Pamuk.  Aside from the novel’s murder mystery aspect, it includes a lot of Islamic philosophy on art… specifically drawing.   And as far as I can tell, it incorporates an Islamic traditionalist point of view. (Yes, other perspectives are included.)  Considering all the death threats made against artists and authors who depict Muhammad, I found this novel extraordinarily relevant to today’s world.

That’s in spite of the novel’s 16th century setting.

(Caveat: I have relatively little knowledge about Islam.  Since the author won a Nobel, I trust that his representation is reasonably accurate and relevant.  I apologize if I am butchering the religion.)

Throughout the novel, much is made of how drawings ought to be created to illustrate something else; in other words, it ought to accompany a story.  Loose pictures with no referent are to be avoided and “style” is considered a flaw.  A horse, for example, ought to be drawn from memory in the style of the Old Masters and any deviation from that ideal is inherently wrong.  Allah’s vision for the world, according to the traditionalist view, is best replicated through a hand that draws from its own memory of having drawn the same horse a thousand times; individual “style” cannot hope to compare.

Thus, blind men are believed to have the greatest artistic vision.

If one draws the horse one sees in a pasture, the drawing will inevitably be flawed.  Moreover, the horse will be insulted by the drawing because the artist is depicting the animal in a less perfect form than Allah sees him in.  Similarly, using a Western ground-level perspective with a horizon reduces a drawing’s quality because it’s not drawn from an overhead perspective as Allah would see it from.

And, if I may extrapolate from this, that’s presumably why visual representations of Muhammad are considered blasphemous.

That’s not to defend those who make the death threats against artists.  I abhor that such a thing is done. Those of us who are not Muslim ought not be compelled to behave according to that religion’s dictates, and a death sentence for irreligious behavior, no matter how blasphemous, is more than a little excessive.  Nevertheless, we benefit from knowing that deeper philosophical reasons exist for the prohibition than an intolerance for religious criticism.  Until Muslims and non-Muslims learn to understand each other, little will improve between us.

And that brings me to my real reason for posting today: the photograph, an image from a technology that has replaced drawings. The original post about the photograph garnered a couple of interesting guesses… and you’ll have to visit the post if you want to see them.

Anyway, what we have here is a picture stripped of its context, much like a drawing of a horse in a pasture that was similarly decontextualized.  And so the question for today is: did the photograph gain or lose stature because I had disconnected it from its origin?  To answer that, you probably need to know where that photo came from.  I shot that photo at the ruins of Pompeii, which a volcanic eruption destroyed in 79 AD.  This was the public bathhouse.

Unchanged Melodies Insult My Intelligence

Dies Irae

(Photo credit: suyensedai)

So…

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge deals with how music has impacted or represents your life.  My regular readers already know to be afraid of this.  Very afraid.

Fortunately for you, those fears are well grounded.  Out of all the tunes ever written, you can probably guess what I’ll be writing about.  (Hint: it ain’t Wrecking Ball.)

Today’s post will discuss the Roman Catholic funerary hymn Dies Irae.  It just screams my personality, doesn’t it?

For those of you who don’t know the song, here’s a version that some monks performed:

Even though religion didn’t figure prominently in my home life, I attended Catholic schools growing up.  You might say that I absorbed more religion than vodka in school.  That’s vodka, not wine.  The Church endorses an occasional sip of wine from an early age.  So, I suppose I absorbed more alcohol than religion as a child and that’s why I became such an upstanding citizen.

Although the schools offered strong academics, the religious content droned on and on like the monks.  That’s not to say that the monks lack talent, but they, like theological instruction, don’t connect with listeners unless the listeners possess a preexisting desire to drink it in.  I didn’t have that.

Wine, on the other hand, connects whether you want it to or not.  That post will have to wait, though.

Back to the story: I graduated from high school and never attended church again except for weddings and funerals.  I no longer had to appear religion-friendly because I was no longer subject to religious expectations.  During these years, I picked up a CD with another version of Dies Irae… this time by a goth band called Mantus:

No, I never took on goth dress or anything like that.  In retrospect, though, I find it rather amusing that a goth band would choose to sing Catholic liturgical music, even if it was originally for funerals.  I suppose that means the band, much like myself, never became anti-religion in any real sense.  The updated hymn also makes for a more substantial listening experience than the mindless Satan worship that comes from so many cheap metal bands; I guess that’s why I’ve never gotten rid of my old goth-style music.  Goths appreciate the classics.

And then I reached graduate school, an experience that would suffice to send anyone into a greater depression than the average goth band depicts.  Fortunately, I stayed psychologically healthy and made it through to graduation.  And then I became unemployed.  Normally, unemployment is supposed to be depressing but I’ve somehow remained happy.  I guess it’s a lot easier to deal with new problems if you’re glad enough to be free of where you were.  Unfortunately, I can’t use that explanation in a job interview because it counts as badmouthing former employers.

I probably need not inform you that I discovered a more upbeat version of Dies Irae.    I may be in a morbid state of affairs but I’m still cheerful when my intelligence isn’t being insulted.  Anyway, here’s the song:

I presume you want me to finally explain the point of this whole post.  So, here we go: if your music doesn’t fit your life, change your playlist to something more suitable.  Change is liberating, and there’s something in the new tune that will hold an echo of the old… even if that echo is heresy to your earlier life.

Since I’m feeling generous, I’ll give you a second moral to the story: funerary music is much more enjoyable when it’s not being played at a funeral.

Fear of Religions Insults My Intelligence

Ramayana

(Photo credit: chooyutshing)

In case you couldn’t tell, I like to read.  And today, I’d like to share a book that I don’t often see recommended in the US: the Ramayana.

In case you’re not familiar with this book, it’s an epic tale not far removed from things like Beowulf and the storylines of RPG video games.  However, this one comes with a twist; the book jacket explains that the Ramayana is “essentially scripture.”

When one isn’t an adherent of the accompanying religion, one doesn’t usually think scripture will enthrall.   Enlighten perhaps, but not excite or enthrall.

The Ramayana is a gem for people who love fantasy and adventure books but want some brain food thrown in.  Since this is a Hindu work, there’s plenty of philosophy to feed on and, of course, a dose of intercultural understanding for those of you not from the Hindu world.

Not all of the great ancient epics come from the West.

And did I mention that this work runs as long as a Dostoyevsky novel?  Sometimes length is not a bad thing.

I think the missionizing religions would have a much easier time converting people if their sacred texts were as enjoyable to read.  But I suppose you don’t get to write your own holy books.

Go figure.  Some guilty pleasures are good for you… except for one minor detail.  I just wrote an “entertainment” post about scripture, which means I’m going to Hell.

Kentucky Insults My Intelligence

Welcome to Kentucky (Where Education Pays)

(Photo credit: jbcurio)

I used to drive through Kentucky regularly and I always got a laugh from the highway signs welcoming visitors to the state:

Welcome to Kentucky

Where education pays

As far as I could tell, they were trying to tell me one of two things:

1- Kentucky has more education than everyone thinks.

2- The people in Kentucky are really ignorant, so an educated person who moves there is guaranteed a high salary.

Don’t get me wrong.  I live in the South and I like it here.  I just think that certain parts of the region aren’t too good at expressing what they are… and what they aren’t.

With that in mind, Kentucky finally got rid of the signs several years ago and replaced them with this:

Kentucky

(Photo credit: davebarger)

According to kentucky.gov, the slogan “unbridled spirit” means:

“Kentucky is a place where spirits are free to soar and big dreams can be fulfilled. We relish competition and cherish our champions for their willingness to push beyond conventional boundaries to reach new heights of success.”

Kentucky’s PR firm needed a lot of education to come up with that explanation.   I thought “unbridled spirit” meant “we praise Jesus here.”

If you’re going to insert religion into state matters, at least be honest about it.