Thursday, November 29, 2012

Anti-Gaga protests fail. Spectacularly!!

Lady Gaga has arrived in South Africa for 2 sold out shows and I find myself having so many feelings about this.  So to help me deal with all these feelings I'm calling in some emoticats to help me!

Firstly, while I would have absolutely LOVED to see her live in concert I couldn't get tickets.  They were sold out so fast and even if I got a ticket I would have no ride to the concert.  This made me one very sad panda.

Then I found out that the South African Council of Churches were planning massive demonstrations to get the government to ban her from entering the country.  They were worried that her performances here "could lead to an exponential growth of Satanism".  This left me feeling very puzzled.

See, I'm a pretty big Lady Gaga fan and I'm also NOT a Satanist.  At no point did I ever feel tempted to become a Satanist while listening to her music or watching her videos.  In fact, I can't seem to recall her even trying to convert me to Satanism at any point in time.  So where was this all coming from?  I mean if they were upset about her support for gay rights, it would at least make some sense but Satanism?  Based on WHAT pray tell?!  I even took a moment to skim the Facebook group South Africa: No to Lady Gaga and satanists and I couldn't find anything resembling proof there either.  Hey guys, the 80's called, they want their Satanic Panic back!  Srsly, this is some stupid-ass fearmongering bullshit...

It was pretty worrying though.  Back during the Apartheid days, the churches were the first and final word on what people were allowed to see.  If the church branded an artist as being immoral or a bad influence on the youth, that was it.  They could forget about getting any airtime.  Was this going to happen again?  I know we now have one of the most progressive constitutions in the world but the population is still very conservative and religious.  I had a lot of feelings about this and none of them were good...

But then the protest happened and I got better!  The thousands of righteously indignant Christians that were supposed to hand over a memorandum to the government didn't show up.  According to the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld only about 14 people showed up and most of them were late.

This meant that the 30 people who showed up for the Cape Town protest seemed far less pathetic in comparison!
Source: Paula Chowles
 This was just EPIC failure!  Contrast these protests to the numbers there to welcome Gaga to the country:

This made me happy.  Very very very happy!

So even though I won't get to see her live in concert (this time) this is a great day!  The fearmongers lost so everyone wins.  Here's hoping the SA Council of Churches decides to spend its time focusing on actual problems instead of imaginary ones.  Heaven knows we have enough real issues in this country that can use some attention.  Also, I'm no longer a sad panda!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dirtier, Sexier Demonology

Do you ever find yourself feeling disenchanted by the inherent passivity and lack of sexiness of "lamestream" Christianity?  Ever wish you could do more to fight the forces of evil?  Sure, praying about it and hoping God will do something somehow at some point is nice and all but don't you ever wish you could do something more exciting, more dangerous, perhaps even something more... sexy than that?  Do you ever say to yourself, "Evangelical Christianity is fine I guess but I sure do wish it could be more Medieval Catholicism!"?  Well then, you're in luck!  Welcome to the exciting world of Charismatic Christianity!

In the first installment of Dirty Sexy Demonology I shared a bit of this incredibly exciting branch of the Christian faith - how it creates a far more exciting version of Christianity by throwing out all the boring bits and making it more about exciting magic* battles against demons.  After all, why would you want to live in a messy, complex world where you have to wrestle with morality and other complicated issues when you can instead live in a black and white world where everything is demons?  Life is both simpler and far more exciting this way!  But maybe after a while you feel like that is not quite enough and you find yourself wishing there was more to it.  Well I hope you're sitting down because Charismatic Demonology is about to get even dirtier AND sexier!  Have you heard the good news about Sex Demons?

"Can demons engage in sexual activity with humans?  As bizarre as it sounds, those who minister to people in occult bondage say it's more common than you think. 
For nearly two decades, Contessa Adams felt as though she had no power against the demonic violators of her body. She felt trapped in secrecy and shame and knew that the demons tormenting her wanted things to stay that way.  But God had another agenda for Adams when she found Christ in 1979. The former stripper has a ministry through which she exposes one of Satan's darkest secrets—sexual demons.  These spiritual rapists, as Adams describes them in her book, Consequences, often prey on people by performing sexual acts through nightmares and erotic dreams. Some people become so dependent upon these demonic experiences that they actually look forward to them.

"Anybody that has been attacked by them will tell you ... they're worried [that] they could not find that pleasure with mortal people," says Adams, who claims she was once possessed by sexual demons.

The two most identifiable sexual demons are the incubus, which is a male sexual demon that traditionally assaults women, and the succubus, which is a female sexual demon that assaults men. Sometimes they also lure people into homosexual behavior.  Adams notes that one evangelist, whose name she would not divulge, was so troubled by the sexual pleasure the succubus gave her that she even contemplated suicide.

Adams says the succubus spirit that used to attack her confused her so much that she contemplated becoming a lesbian.  "
I tried to find a picture of the very real succubi the article mentions but could only seem to find them in fiction and Role Playing Games...  My sincerest apologies.

Now you may be tempted to think I'm trying to "punk" you by quoting something from the Malleus Maleficarum but I assure you I am not.  This is an actual extract from an article in Charisma Magazine and I shit you not, it was published in the 21st Century!

This has to be really good news to any good Christian who feels conflicted about having a libido.  You do all you can to squash down your feelings all day long but then and night you still end up sinning in your dreams.  Frustrating right?  Well not anymore!  Not if what you're really dealing with are SEX DEMONS!  That's right, you don't really have homosexual tendencies, you're just being tempted by a SEX DEMON!  Doesn't that make you feel a lot better?  You're not a sinner, you're a righteous man/woman under attack!  So let go of your guilt and get your spells* ready, it's time to kick some demon ass!  [Disclaimer: This could take a while.  Pesky demons always keep trying their luck, so you'll be doing this for a while.  Maybe for ever.  But hey, still better than being guilty of gay adultery!]

Now I understand that some of you would love to blame your nocturnal sinfulness on a succubus but you're still hesitant because it seems more like something from a Dungeons and Dragons manual, not something from the Bible.  You are of course completely right, none of this is in the Bible.  For some weird reason the various Bible authors spent a lot of time NOT talking about demons and completely failed to turn the Bible into a Spiritual Warfare manual.  Luckily for us, the Bible is completely optional when it comes to Dirty Sexy Demonology!  In fact, the less you use it the better it gets! You see, Charismatic Theology has kind of a "take it and leave it" approach to the Bible, in that if it doesn't tell you what you want to hear you leave it and take it from a different source instead.  This was brilliantly explained by one of the comments on the article:
"For some reason God chose to not put "everything" in the bible. God has a reason for every thing. That is why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to lead us into "all truth". Take heed people Holy Spirit is trying to teach you the hidden things that can only be discerned by the spirit. Those who are able to hear Holy Spirit are reqired to teach those who are not able to hear. "
See?  You don't need the Bible, the Word of God is a pretty fluid thing it turns out.  You can get totally new doctrine from the Holy Spirit at any time.

Did I say Charismatic Christianity is just like Medieval Catholicism?  I was wrong, it's better!  Medieval Catholicism had a Pope, Charismatics do not.  No Pope, no Vatican, no Council of Cardinals - no one at all to provide any structure or guidelines on what can and cannot be doctrine!  This frees you to believe whatever you'd like and since no one else can hear what you imagine the Holy Spirit is telling you, no one can tell you that you're wrong!  It doesn't matter how ridiculous it sounds, you get to seriously believe it and teach it to others as a fact!

Is it any wonder that Charismatic Christians are the ones spearheading the return of the long forgotten art of witch finding?  Because if reviving one ridiculous medieval superstition is a viable option, then why can't they all be?  

*Obviously I'm using the word "magic" here as a form of shorthand.  Charismatic Christians obviously don't engage in magic.  Magic is an evil and demonic thing and any good Charismatic Christian can tell you that.  What they do may seem like exactly the same thing in form, function and core principles but it is completely different!  Magic implies the use of demons while Christians use Jesus instead so it's completely and utterly not the same thing.  Obviously!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

You don't touch the Lord's Annointed, the Lord's Annointed touches you!

Don't you just love it when people accidentally make your point for you?  For a while now I've been trying to make the case that calling out religious leaders when they make statements that are wrong/evil/lying/bullshit is nothing short of a sacred duty.  So then I find this video of Creflo Dollar over on Scotteriology (go read his take on it, it's brilliant) which totally makes my case for me:

Question:  Did you see anything wrong with what he just said?  If you said to yourself "Wow, that seems incredibly wrong and dangerous because it clearly sets up religious leaders to abuse their followers without fear of repercussions" then congratulations, you just had the sane, healthy reaction to a terribly abusive bit of preaching.  If on the other hand you watched it and saw nothing wrong with any part of it then you are the reason I feel the need to keep writing these posts because believe me, your response is neither sane nor healthy.

I know this because I used to be there.  A couple of years ago I would have listened to a sermon like that and gone "Mmm-hmm, preach it brother Dollar!"  See, the Christian worldview is driven by authority so for it to work this authority must be obeyed absolutely.  Now in theory of course that authority flows directly from God and His Word.  In practice however that authority is wielded by the men of God - Pastors, Priests, Bishops, Rabbis etc.  They're the ones who dispense the Word and Will of God to the people so therefore they are the ones with all the authority.  When you get socialized into this authoritarian view of Christianity, it's very hard to see the problems with it.  I know that 10 years ago I certainly would not have seen anything wrong with a teaching like this one.  If anything, I would have perpetuated it by teaching it to others (and I probably did).  But that doesn't change the fact that it is utterly and completely wrong.  It is wrong to the point of being evil and the only just course of action is to reject every word of it.  If you can't see why, hear me out and I will demonstrate why.

Firstly, try a simple thought experiment.  Take everything Pastor Dollar just said and pretend he said it about kindergarten teachers.  All that stuff about overlooking and covering up the wrong things they do no matter how bad.  Everything he said about not telling others about bad things you learned.  Still sound OK to you?  What if he said it about doctors or coaches or camp counselors or babysitters or psychiatrists?  No, of course not, it doesn't sound like a good plan at all, it sounds like a recipe for abuse.  Because it is!  So then why is it OK to make a special exception for clergy?  Just to be clear, he isn't talking about malicious rumors or hearsay here, he explicitly references true facts about actual wrongdoing.  If you wouldn't keep quiet and cover up for other professions, why is it different for preachers?  And just in case you think that surely he couldn't possibly be including sexual predators under that umbrella, think again.  When Bishop Eddie Long was accused of sexual misconduct with young men in his congregation, Creflo Dollar was right there to "cover him" and "restore him".  Honestly now, if you don't even draw the line at sexual abuse then what can't you excuse?  Because of teachings like this we find countless cases across denominational lines of people protecting the abuser while attacking the victims.  This is inexcusably evil!

For another thing, why do clergy even need to be put above the simple societal rules that the rest of us abide by?  No, really?  Again, we aren't talking about malicious lies here we are talking about people you absolutely 100% know are doing something bad.  Why protect them instead of exposing them and protecting everyone else?  Seems to me that only frauds and abusers would fear the truth becoming known.  You don't swear people to secrecy unless you have something to hide.  Abusers thrive on secrecy.  Frauds fear the light.  Honest people do not and therefore they tend not to preemptively insist that you cover their misdeeds.  A good person wouldn't ask you to become an accomplice to wickedness, would they?

That just leaves one more question - isn't it all Biblical though?  That is certainly what Creflo Dollar is claiming here.  He isn't the one telling you to hide your pastor's misdeeds, GOD is the one telling you.  Except God is not telling you that and his claims here are not supported by the Bible.  But what about David then?  Yes, what about him? Everything Pastor Dollar said about David and Saul was technically correct except for one teensy but very important detail - Saul was not David's pastor, he was David's king.  That's a difference that changes everything.  Complete allegiance and obedience to government authority is a running theme throughout the Scriptures.  Regardless of whether they are good or bad you are supposed to obey them.  Even if they are heathens who are brutally persecuting you, the Bible commands that you follow their orders and pray for them.  Funny then how most Christians today (especially in the American Right wing, looking at you Tea Party) are happy to be flagrantly disobedient to this clear teaching of Scripture while still claiming to "Bible Believing Christians".  But I digress, my point is that while the Bible does teach that you should always humbly obey government office (and not for instance slander, rebel, secede or wish them dead - still looking at you Tea Party) that doesn't hold for those in spiritual office.  Why yes, I can back that up with an example from the Bible!

"When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.  When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?"  (Galatians 2:11-21)

Here you have the Apostle Paul publicly reprimanding the Apostle Peter - yes THAT Apostle Peter - for being a hypocrite.  Does that sound anything like the model Creflo Dollar proposed?  No.  Yet, this too is in the Bible and it is far more applicable than the story of David and Saul.  In fact, why not take the time to read through the Epistles (seeing as how they are the books dealing with church and Christianity as opposed to ancient Israeli monarchy) and see what they have to say about the matter?  I think you'll find that far from telling you to hush up crimes in the church it commands that the immoral and wicked be exposed and expelled from the congregation.

Besides, do you think someone with real authority has to resort to vague threats like a non specific "facebook curse"?  Please!  People with actual authority don't try to scare you into cooperating with empty threats.  Even the curses in the Bible were incredibly specific.  Pastor Dollar is being vague because he has nothing.  No power, no authority, spiritual or otherwise.  He stays vague so the credulous can create their own curses.  This way the supposed "curse" can be whatever you want it to be.  Yes I said what YOU want it to be - washing machine breaks, must be the curse!  Flat tire?  Facebook curse!  Stuck in traffic?  Twitter Curse!  Come on, that's just stupid!  Don't fall for it.

So if you see something, say something.  It doesn't matter if the perpetrator is an esteemed clergyman, abuse* is always wrong.  If it isn't OK when your postman does it, it's not OK when your pastor does it either.  When you cover up wrongdoing, and when you side with the abuser over the victim, you debase yourself and everything you stand for.  So just don't do it.
*Remember, sexual abuse is not just a sin, it's also a felony!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Conservatives straining gnats and swallowing camels

Just in case ever wondered why this blog so often takes aim at American conservatives, I think I found the perfect way to explain.  No, it's not because I'm a left wing socialist hippie.  It isn't because I'm a Democrat or a huge fan of President Obama either.  No, it's nothing like that.  I found a great visual aid to help me explain though.  Check out this movie trailer, it contains the distilled essence of why I find American Conservatives so incredibly annoying:

Conservatives frustrate me to no end because they are endlessly obsessed with non-issues while happily ignoring real problems.  They are just tone deaf beyond belief!  This trailer showcases it perfectly.  First you have all this talk about how America is changing, how rights are disappearing and the constitution is under attack.  That's a great start because it's all true.  This is a conversation that needs to happen, Conservatives need to call out Liberals on the fact that under Obama:

  • Indefinite detention without trail became legal.
  • State sanctioned murder without trail of citizens at the president's discretion became legal.
  • The books get cooked regarding the collateral damage of drone strikes by simply labeling all casualties as enemy combatants regardless of whether they were or not.
  • The Bush era warrantless wiretapping and surveillance program was extended, and
  • the only people prosecuted in relation to spying on citizens and torturing POW's were the whistleblowers who alerted the public of government misdeeds.
So yes, liberty is under attack.  Freedom is in danger.  The constitution is being undermined.  But guess what?  When Conservatives say those things they aren't referring to the Fourth Amendment becoming increasingly pointless.  No, instead all they ever get riled up about is the idea that America isn't Jesus-y enough.

Instead of dealing with any of the many real problems they instead choose to play the martyr over the most ridiculously superficial things like putting up religious displays or whether people say "Merry Christmas" or not.  It's as if the religious right have no idea what "freedom of religion" even means!  Not getting to put giant crosses, mangers and a baby Jesus on every piece of public land in no way affects your freedom to worship.  In fact, last I checked the Bible specifically warned against turning your faith into a public spectacle.  Unless I'm mistaken, those verses should be in American Bibles too.  This has nothing to do with freely practicing your faith and everything to do with making a public display of piety.  Just a thought, but if the only indications of your faith are your lawn ornaments your faith may very well be superficial to the point of nonexistence.  If you can't be happy in your beliefs without forcing everyone else to go along with it, what does that say about your beliefs?  This movie may depict a fantasy world where evil secularists are trying to oppress Christians but that bears no relation to real life. It's just fantasy role play.  It allows you to pretend to be brave Christian heroes when in reality you are being neither brave, Christian nor heroic.  If you keeping the 10 Commandments on the local courthouse to be more important the suffering of the poor in your community then you really have nothing to offer but empty gestures and hollow symbols.  You are not fighting for freedom, you're not being noble, you're being a pompous ass.

It's  actually easy enough to figure out whether your religious liberty is really in danger or whether you're just suffering from Persecution Envy.  Just answer the following questions honestly:

Are you free to do business? Are you free to take part in your country’s political system? Are you free to share your opinion in the press? Are your children welcomed in public schools? Are you able to work? Are you free to go to the church of your choice? Are you able to freely purchase and read a Bible? Do you have free access to Christian radio and television broadcasts? If you answered “yes” to these questions then you are most certainly not being persecuted.

Does your government ever raid your church? Are you forced by law to meet in secret? Are you in any danger of being shipped off to a concentration/internment/”re-education” camp for your religious beliefs? Are you forbidden to vote or run for office due to your religious beliefs? Are you legally forbidden from raising complaints about government policies? If you answered “no” to these questions then you are definitely not being persecuted.

Comedians making fun of Christianity or aspects thereof may be guilty of bad taste but they are certainly not guilty of persecuting you. Placing an atheist sign next to a nativity scene may be a dick move but it doesn’t count as oppression of the Christian faith. Matt 5:10 only applies in cases where people are persecuted, insulted and mocked for doing good. It does not apply to cases where Christians are insulted (or prosecuted) due to fraud, blatant dishonesty, unfair censorship and general douchebaggery (See 1 Pet 2:19-20). As long as you have the freedom to disagree, people expressing opinions contrary to yours regarding religion, abortion, birth control and homosexuality are not guilty of persecuting you either.

So no, your religious freedom is just fine.  So why pretend it isn't?  Why ignore all the extremely valid criticisms of Obama's presidency in favour of imaginary issues?  Why attack straw men when there are real problems to address?  Because as long as you keep doing that, it's going to be very hard for people to take you seriously on anything.  If you put all your efforts into avoiding reality, don't be surprised when it renders you increasingly irrelevant to people in the real world.

So the movie's villain just happens to be a liberal black lawyer?  Real subtle!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hungry Hungry Altars (are why you should smash them)

In the beginning there was a world we did not understand.  It was full of strange and terrifying mysteries and humans being what they are, we just couldn't bear it.  So we invented the gods to explain to ourselves why the sun appeared and disappeared, why the seasons came and went and so on.  But that wasn't good enough either because we don't just crave reasons we also crave control.  So we decided to bargain with the gods we made in order to try and bend the universe to our will and so the altar was born.  It was simple enough, we scratch a god's back by setting something on fire and the god does us a solid some time later.  It's a simple concept and it's easy to see how we got there but since it was based on an erroneous assumption, it also turned out to be one of the worst our species ever had.

Since the gods weren't real, the altars did nothing.  But people being what they are, they could not accept this.  If sacrificing your crops did nothing then it couldn't be because there is no god to accept your sacrifice, it has to be because you were supposed to give more.  So you sacrifice more.  You sacrifice better.  And if your crops and livestock cannot work then you give things even more precious - flesh, blood, even if it belongs to your children.

Altars are hungry.  Very hungry.  In fact they are downright insatiable.  If you let them, they will take everything you have to give.  They will take everything, give nothing and still demand more.  Altars are very bad things.

"So they took the bull given them and prepared it.  Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention."

Which brings me to the recent US elections and the way the conservatives behaved.  Now I'm not saying they had any literal altars to any pagan gods but they certainly behaved as if they did.  They had a demanding yet impotent god, a host of prophets and priests calling for more sacrifices and of course, they ended up with the inevitable failure of this god to deliver what his prophets promised.

I realise that all this talk of failed, impotent gods must be deeply offensive to American Conservatives.  After all, they are the ones who worship the One True God - the Christian God - and not only do they worship Him, they worship Him more truly than all others.  They don't pick and choose what to hold as sacred, they simply follow His inerrant Word, unlike some people who also claim to be Christians.  In fact, Conservative Christianity is the only Christianity.  Liberals are just fooling themselves.  Or so I'm told.  Respectfully, I have to disagree.  When the most far right wing fundamentalist elements took prominence in the party it became very clear that their god looked nothing like the Jesus of Scripture.

Bible Jesus was primarily concerned with the poor and the helpless members of society.  Conservative Jesus considers those people parasites who are just too damn lazy to lift themselves up by their bootstraps.  Unlike Bible Jesus, Conservative Jesus thinks the best thing to do for the poor is to give them no help at all, since that should motivate them to do better in life.  Conservative Jesus is primarily concerned with abortion, gays and women's reproductive rights - all things Bible Jesus was completely silent about.  While Bible Jesus had deep compassion for the sick, especially when they were too poor to get treatment from doctors, Conservative Jesus thinks that helping poor people have affordable access to medical help makes you worse than Hitler.  Bible Jesus had compassion for the imprisoned, Conservative Jesus thinks we should imprison more people for longer.  Conservative Jesus thinks government is a great evil that needs to be opposed at every turn while Bible Jesus (and the rest of the Bible) preached obedience to the government - all governments, even the bad ones.  I can keep going but I think this should be enough to make the case that Bible Jesus and Conservative Jesus cannot be the same person.  Conservative Jesus is pretty much the opposite of the Jesus of the Bible.  Clearly this is not the same god.  I'm kind of partial to calling him Bizarro Jesus but you could always use his more traditional name: Anti-Christ.  He is a god created in the image of those who worship him.  He loves who they love and hate who they hate.  Call him whatever you like, he was raised up on the Republican platform and a hell of a lot of sacrifices were made unto him.

I think compassion was sacrificed first - for the foreign, the stranger, women, gays, the poor, the "urban".  Soon after that went love for the neighbour, especially if the neighbour was in any way "other".  Before too long, reality itself was placed on the altar along with truth and reason.  Science, facts, figures, statistics - none of these were safe from sacrifice.  One by one the sacrifices were lined up and the candidates all fell in line to praise this god and seek his favour.  No position was to extreme, no sacrifice to great.  All who disagreed were swiftly dispatched.

As a quick aside yes, I realise there are conservatives who do not worship this god.  They may even be the majority.  If so, shame on you.  Don't balk at comparisons to the Bachmans and Santorums in the movement.  Where were you and your moderate opinions when the primaries were going on?  If you stayed silent while the extremist fringes took over the movement then you have no one to blame but yourself.

So then, the sacrifices were made and the prophets of this god swore that this would ensure victory.  Problem was that this god was as powerless as he is mean.  Those sacrifices were all in vain and it left you with less.  Well less good things anyway, since those were the first things to go on the altar.  There still seems to be plenty of hate and anger and fear left.  In fact that's what prompted this post, the reactions from conservatives I saw on Facebook.  It's one thing to oppose the other party but I'm not seeing opposition, I'm seeing naked, seething hate for anyone who voted differently.  People are talking about revolution and bloodshed, they're talking about abandoning their motherland and telling each other scary stories about the coming apocalypse.  I see lots of slander for those who disagreed, which makes sense since understanding and empathy found its way  to the altar early on.  This is very bad.  For all of you.

So what to do now?  Well they could do what people with altars have always done.  They can assume that the fault lies not with the altar but with them, that they simply did not try hard enough, that they should have given more.  They could increase the fearmongering, they can up the attacks on reproductive rights and marriage equality.  They could shut themselves off from the reality of the world around them with even more resolve and pretend that the winds of change are not blowing.  They could keep fanning the flames of division, telling more scary stories about everyone who is "other" and insist that there are dark conspiracies everywhere.  Basically they could decide that the problem was not that their strategy was built on anger and fear but that it wasn't built on enough anger and fear.  The less the results the more they can do what they've always done.  More more more on the altar, always more.  That is after all how people with altars tend to behave.

Though not always.  Some people realized that the futility of it all and smashed their altars to bits.  I hope conservatives choose this course.  I hope they realize that to keep doing the same thing but expecting different results is madness.  I hope they choose to face reality.

No political movement is perfect and no party has all the answers.  A healthy democracy needs a healthy opposition in government (healthy being the key word here).  Blindly opposing everything the other guy does on principle is not healthy at all. But can conservatives be a healthy opposition party?  Only time will tell.  A lack of altars to bad ideas would be a great place to start though...

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Grammar Nazi Gene

I've been reading The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins and while some of the references in it may be a little dated, it is still a great and interesting read.  Every chapter is like:

I never quite realized just how amazing genes are!  They control so much!  I guess I've always been a little anthropocentric in my thinking because as humans we can do things because we learned to do them.  In many cases though, learning had nothing to do with it, it was just the genes telling the organism what to do.  One example he gives is the gene for hygienic behavior in bees.  When larvae gets infected with disease some bees will open the nests and throw the diseased larvae out of the hive thereby keeping the whole hive safe from infection.  Not all bees have this gene though.  The fascinating thing (for me anyway) is that experiments showed that this behavior was not due to one gene sequence but two - one for opening infected nests and one for throwing out sick larvae.  If a bee only has the one they will either just open nests and do nothing or do nothing until someone else opens a nest.  So a hygienic bee is a bee with both the genes.  Nature, it's pretty amazing right?

So that got me thinking.  How much of my behavior comes from my genes?  Certainly not all, maybe not most but surely some, right?  I'm really wondering about that because someone put this sign up in my neighbourhood and it is driving me NUTS!

Honey bee's what?  You move Wendy's what?  What?!  WHAT?!?!

Why do people who can't use apostrophes upset me so?  Is there a grammar nazi gene?  Do I have it?  Because it would explain a lot!  I shouldn't care about spelling errors on home made posters but I do!  So much!!  English isn't even my first language but when I see English language spelling and grammar mistakes I have a nearly uncontrollable urge to correct it.  It feels like I'm itching on the inside and the only way I can scratch it is by fixing the mistake! Could it be because both my parents were teachers?  Did they pass on the gene that gives me the urge to whip out a red pen and fix spelling mistakes?  Could such a gene sequence really have evolved?  The other day I was at the hospital and the trilingual sign they had up had a translation error in the Afrikaans part.  It took every bit of self control I had not to get a pen and fix it, even if it meant irking the very people in charge of strapping me into things and sticking needles into me!

I think I have a problem.

You know what?  No.  I'm not the one with the problem!  People who can't use apostrophes, they're the ones with the problem!!