Religion Makes Itself Hard To Take Seriously…Again

Not that I want to oversimplify things, but religion can be really, really silly sometimes. Like seriously, we’re all so hung up on our dumb rules and traditions that we have to literally fight over who gets to say their prayers at which section of wall?

Thousands of young ultra-Orthodox Jews have clashed with a liberal Jewish women’s group at one of Judaism’s holiest sites, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem.
Dozens of members of the Women of the Wall group, who are seeking equal prayer rights, had to be escorted away by police.

A number of people were reportedly injured in the incident.
The Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City – a relic of the Biblical Temple compound – currently has separate sections where men and women are allowed to pray.

The Jerusalem Post says 150 members of the group were met by more than 10,000 ultra-Orthodox women early on Friday morning, with insults exchanged between the two sides.

“During the prayers, friction arose between the worshippers, including the Women of the Wall, including curses and various comments,” police said in a statement.
In a tweet, the Women of the Wall said two of its members had to get medical treatment after the incident. The group was later escorted to another area of the wall that allows non-traditional prayers to take place.

Police also said that one man, apparently part of a group of dudes looking to crash through barricades to get at the women, was arrested for trying to assault an officer.

Have I mentioned how silly this is?

According to Orthodox Jewish tradition, women should not perform these religious rituals. Under pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties, the Israeli authorities in 2017 scrapped plans to create a mixed-gender prayer area at the wall.

If I haven’t, it’s silly.

Chow, Chau.

I’ve been wanting to write about this story since it came out, but I can’t seem to get going. All I can think to say is “hands off!” To be completely honest, I had the urge to tell him off in more vulgar ways, but since he’s dead, I’ll stick with “hands off!” for now.

Here’s the story. John Allen Chau thought he was god’s gift to missionary work. He decided that North Sentinel Island, an island off India that was inhabited by a tribe that made it clear that it did not wish to have outside influences, needed some religion, and he was going to be the man to bring it to them whether they liked it or not. Let me explain how clearly they made it that they wished no contact from the outside. There have been laws put on the books to protect their way of life. Everybody who lives anywhere near the island knows that you don’t just go “loo dee doo dee doo” onto their island.

It turns out that they did not like his intrusion onto their land at all, and they killed him. His friends, a rather loose term in this case, who helped him get close to the island, got to watch the tribe drag his body down the beach and bury it. Police and coastguards from India wanted to get his body back, but it was no easy task and I don’t know if they ever succeeded.

Now, do you see why I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Mr. Chau? He doesn’t help matters with the entries in his diary where he claimed that God was protecting him from being discovered by the coastguards. Actually, God would have protected him better by not letting him get near the island. That whole passage where he said a kid fired an arrow at him and it hit his bible, and he thought that was a sign of being protected was also pretty ridiculous. No, that was a sign that he should get the hell out of there and rethink this whole conversion of the Sentinelese people thing.

I would have more sympathy if I got the sense that he genuinely wanted to help the people, but it sounded more like he viewed the island as a conquest. I can’t stand the idea of religion being forced on people. When I read about the way things happened when Canada was colonized, I could not feel good about it either. It drives me nuts when missionaries offer help, but under the condition that their recipients convert. Why not just help somebody and leave it at that? And in the case of Mr. Chau, why couldn’t he respect their wishes and stick to reaching out to people who welcomed him?

Maybe it bothers me because on a smaller scale, I have had people try to force religion on me. I have had people accuse me of not praying hard enough and that’s why I’m blind, I have had people lay hands on me in an attempt to heal me without asking if I want this, I have had one cab driver push religion on me by locking me in his cab until I gave him some sense that I might attend a service. If I want religion, there are plenty of ways I could seek it out. Forcing it on me does not work, and it doesn’t make me feel respected either. A conversation is fine I suppose, but if I say no, listen to that and move on.

So now, this guy is dead, and the seven people who agreed to help him are arrested, and some of them are likely traumatized from watching him get dragged down the beach. I hate to be an asshole, but they all kind of deserve it. If they’d just respected these people, they’d all be alive and safe.

You Can’t Spell Christkindl Without Christ

It’s not every day I agree with church people on something, but it’s hard to argue with them here.

A controversy has surfaced from Kitchener’s Christkindl Market after a group of performers say they were silenced for talking about Jesus.
Pastor Jacob Reaume had to shout his message at the opening night of the market after his microphone was turned off by city staff.
“I thought it was probably an accident, some type of technical difficulty but then I looked around and realized, no this is intentional,” Reaume says.

Hey continued to say the microphone was cut off three times. Once during a German bible reading and twice when he was reading the story of Christ.
The city of Kitchener says the church group did not indicate it was going to be reading from scripture or be providing a sermon during their performance.

And they should have to indicate this because why, exactly? Especially if what they say is true and they gave the same performance last year. Not to mention that they’re representing a church, so what else could anyone have possibly been expecting them to do?

I get that we maybe don’t want to bombard people with nothing but super preachy religion when they just came to skate, drink hot chocolate and generally engage in the less church-laden version of Christmas, but no matter your belief system, I don’t think anyone has the right to expect that they can celebrate Christmas in public without smacking into just a little bit of Jesus along the way. He’s a bit of an important figure, you know.

Vacation Bible School Makeover

Here’s Gill with a few words on what she’s up to these days. I don’t know where she got her ideas about volunteering, but that was never what I saw where I grew up.

When you think of Vacation Bible School, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably you think of arts, crafts, Bible studies, and maybe the pastor’s wife talking about how she and the pastor assembled a church school for thirty children in Botswana when they were missionaries. What if I told you it was something completely different, and more like the most fun you could have at a day camp?

So Different

When I was a kid going to VBS, we did traditional things, games, devotions, arts and crafts, and trivia. That was then, but where I’ve been volunteering, the kids had a choice of basketball, drama, or soccer. I helped in drama, leading games, giving out ideas, and watching as the mostly six and seven year olds ran around and enjoyed themselves. It was really satisfying observing the kids practice cooperation as they allowed their imaginations to soar skyward. The kids were great and I felt respected. They called me “Ms. Gill” and when I gave instructions, they listened and were polite and gracious.

The Verdict

As today was the last day of the program I am slightly sad, but here I sit smiling on the priceless and abundant blessing those children gave me. I never thought much of volunteering, sure I volunteered some at a local hospital growing up, but I never thought about it as much. What do I mean? Where I grew up, unless you were volunteering for a sporting event, retired, or intellectually challenged you generally didn’t. But this experience has broadened my horizons. I am thankful that the head of the Children’s Ministry approached me and proposed the idea of helping out at a Vacation Bible School. I really enjoy working with children, and would happily do this again.


What is a volunteer job you had that you loved, or are you interested in volunteering?

Believe It Or Not

There are some strange and not so great religions in this world. Here’s Gill to talk about a few of them.

Religion is a touchy and divisive issue, the very word can make people uncomfortable. As an Evangelical Christian, I sometimes have to hold my tongue as to not make my fellow human beings uncomfortable when debating an issue.

  • Jediism – Yes this is a thing, and it is recognized in some places. Basically they believe in the power of the force, and wish to use it for good.
  • The Flying Spaghetti Monster – This is a reactionary move when the people of Kansas USA debated whether Evolution or inteligent design should be taught in public schools.
  • Christian Identity – I mentioned a second ago I am an Evangellical (Seventh Day Adventist) and the teachings of my church promote the loving of one’s neighbor. Christian identity is the exact opposite. They teach Jewish people are evil, and that whites are God’s chosen people.


Whatever you believe, we share this spinning ball of chaos, so we should try to love one another.

Lead Us Not Into A Telephone Pole, But Deliver Us From Crazy Mommies

You know what would be nice? If either the fact that a crazy religious lady would drive a carload of people into a pole on purpose to prove that God is real or that substances don’t appear to have contributed to the decision making came as a great surprise to me.

Authorities said the mother was traveling northbound on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard when she crossed into the southbound lanes and drove head on into a pole, Channel 2 Action News reported. Her children, ages 5 and 7, were in the backseat. 
One of Warren’s daughters told police she thinks her mom did it on purpose.
“…Her eyes (were) closed and she was saying, ‘blah, blah, blah, I love God,’” the girl said. “She didn’t want us to just have a car accident. She wanted us to know that God is real.”
Police said Warren told her children to buckle up their seat belts before she rammed into the pole, Channel 2 reported.

Bahari Shaquille Warren did eventually admit to police that her daughter was telling the truth, so at least if God does exist he didn’t have to watch her lie for too long. She has been charged with two counts of child cruelty and is currently jailed while she waits for the lord to scrape together $22,000.

The children are staying with their grandparents, who are hopefully more sensible about the faith thing.

It’s Official. You’re Not Going To Heaven

So we were checking out Jonathan Coulton’s new album, Solid State, which might need a post of its own. Anyway, we listened to it on Spotify. A few months ago, Spotify rolled out a new feature called Album Radio. When the album’s done, it makes you a mix of other stuff you might enjoy. I wish there was a way to turn it on and off, because sometimes I just want to listen to an album as a complete unit and then stop and think about it.

But it’s not a totally bad feature, because it introduced me to Bo Burnham. Steve had heard his stuff, and I had heard his name when people called him “the new Tom Lehrer” but I’d never heard any of his music. That is going to change and fast, because I think he’s awesome.

Here’s a song that won’t stop playing in my head, and it sums up so much of what I’ve said about religion before. I almost think it should be the soundtrack to this old post.

Here are the lyrics if you need them.

If you think he’s funny, go listen to all the things. I obviously have missed out for years…always late to the party.

Welcome To Our Place Of Worship, Distructicon 6152. May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You

So here’s a question with no good answer. When Superintelligent AI Arrives, Will Religions Try to Convert It?

My immediate, emotional reaction is oh god, please don’t. Considering how many of the world’s problems religion is at best indirectly responsible for, the last thing we need is a civilization possibly more advanced than our own warring with and discriminating against itself and us. Besides, if one of the goals of these superinteligences is to have them help us scientifically, do we need to fill them full of doctrine that can often tend to run counter to science and logic? What good would that do? It would only confuse things.

But on the other hand, humans crave information. We thrive on it (ok, most of us thrive on it). So it would only stand to reason that a being capable of processing more information than any of us could even begin to imagine should be fed as much of the stuff as possible and allowed to draw its own conclusions as it was designed to do. Maybe that would go fine. Maybe it could teach us mere humans some sort of great, universal truth we’ve all been missing for centuries. But what if it doesn’t? What if it becomes a living embodiment of those emails people used to forward about taking the bible literally? And remember, it’s smarter than we are. What do we do if that happens? Can we do anything?

People much more qualified than I to sort these things out have no real answers, so I’m not going to pretend I do. But this much I know. There’s a reason I’ve never been in a hurry for us to create a sentient being that will be able to out think us. If you give anyone power he’s eventually going to figure out that he can use it, and that never ends well. Yes these things are going to theoretically be smarter than us, but remember, we’re filling them with human knowledge and perspective. In some ways that hasn’t done us any good, so why should we think this would be any different?

Hail Mary, Full Of…Uh, Guys? Is She Supposed To Be Full Of Those Things?

These songs, as you may have noticed, are just a tiny bit different. But while this observation did not get bye you, the same cannot be said for the person responsible for printing up the lyric sheets for this year’s Catholic Joy to the World Festival.

A Christmas carol service in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo has accidentally printed out the lyrics to late rapper Tupac Shakur’s ‘Hail Mary’ in its programme instead of the 15th century Catholic prayer. 
The mix-up occurred at the 2016 Catholic Joy to the World Festival at the city’s Nelum Pokuna Theatre during one of Sri Lanka’s largest Christmas celebrations earlier this month.
Instead of finding the words “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee/blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb”, the carol singers were invited to reflect on the 1997 song’s themes of mortality, violence and sex and whether they wanted to “ride or die.”

If it hasn’t happened already, somebody please find a way to mash these up. It would make things so much easier next year.

Your Vehicle, Which Art In Our Living Room. Damaged Be Thy Frame

Whether she was praying too hard or not hard enough is a debate for another day, but it’s pretty clear that this woman’s deity of choice might be trying to tell her to change up her methods a little.

A 28-year-old woman was taken to the hospital for evaluation after driving into a Mary Esther house Thursday morning.
The woman told Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies she was praying at the time and had her eyes closed, according to the OCSO.

The Fort Walton Beach woman was traveling eastbound on Marcia Drive when she failed to stop at a stop sign, went through an intersection and into the yard of a home on Miramar Drive.

The woman, who’s name has not been released, was cited for reckless driving with property damage.

Nobody in the house was injured, thank someone you might pray to but hopefully with your eyes open and focused where they’re supposed to be.