Friday, May 20, 2011

Dear Doomsdayers & Naysayers: It’s OKAY to be WRONG

Since this morning, I have been receiving a lot of emails, messages, etc. from friends and readers wanting my opinion on whether or not the Rapture told of in Revelations is really going to kick off tomorrow.

So I thought that maybe a blog post would be more effective than answering them all individually.

Let me begin by explaining that I credit my mother with my flexible views on religion. As anyone familiar with my work probably knows, I do not have a religion … meaning I claim no allegiance to any form of organized religion. However, I am NOT an atheist.

To be honest, I feel that I was unable to truly seek out God until I finally chose to abandon the rules and dogmas of organized religion. But, as is my tendency, I am starting to get off the subject.

When I was young, around 15 years old, something my mother said to me about the Branch Davidians (if you don’t know who these people were, you can Google it) would turn out to have a huge impact on my views regarding religion and spirituality. Just to put things in perspective—this was around the time of the Waco standoff, but before the fire that finally brought the situation to its tragic end.

The main topic that seemed to be on everyone’s lips back in those days (including certain teachers at my Junior High) was how INSANE these folks in Waco must be, and how stupid they were for believing a guy like David Koresh was the messiah.

Well, I came home from school one afternoon and began regurgitating to my mother all the opinions I’d heard other people voicing all day, trying my best to act as if they were my own thoughts and ideas … though, in all honesty, my teenage mind really had no idea what to think of it all.

My mother rarely tried persuade me on certain issues … instead, she would ask me questions or plant ideas that would help me come to my own conclusions. This time, however, she sighed and said something to me that I never forgot:

“Yes, I believe that what Koresh has done is wrong. And I agree that the people in that compound are probably fools for following him. However, if it turns out they are right and this guy really is a messenger of God and that everyone else is wrong, and that I am wrong for believing as I do … then I would ask that God please forgive me.”

Whoa.

Believe it or not … I stopped thinking about the whole Waco thing right then and there (ADHD tends to do that).

Though I doubt she even realized it at the time, what my mother had just said suddenly opened up my mind to a possibility that I’d never considered—it was OKAY to be wrong about religion and spirituality. This idea would grow and blossom for years, and lead me to believe that it was OKAY to form my own beliefs about God, and to allow others to do the same. If I got it wrong, so be it.

These recent doomsdayers, those who claim that the Christian Rapture will begin at 6pm (New Zealand time) tomorrow, are not violent, gun-toting fanatics like the Branch Davidians … and by no means should it be misinterpreted that I am making a direct comparison here.

However, I notice that a lot of people are saying the same sorts of things now, about these doomsdayers, that people were saying back in ‘93 about those folks in Waco—that they are INSANE, that they are fools, that they are a cult.

And, yes, I agree that it is pretty likely they will turn out to be WRONG (especially considering that this is not the first time their leader, Harold Camping, has prematurely pulled the apocalyptic fire alarm) … so, yeah, I believe they are wrong about this … but I also believe that it is OKAY for them to be wrong.

So … do I personally believe that the Rapture begins tomorrow? Well, here is my answer:
NO. I believe that what Harold Camping is doing is wrong. And I agree that the people who believe his prophecy are probably fools for following him. However, if it turns out they are right and this guy really is a messenger of God and that everyone else is wrong, and that I am wrong for believing as I do … then I would ask that God please forgive me.”

To the Doomsdayers: if tomorrow comes and goes, and the Rapture does not occur, just let it go and move on. And, though I do not agree with your beliefs, I highly respect your dedication and level of faith.

To the Naysayers: I get it…it seems crazy. And I know it’s always easy to play a round of “Let’s make fun of the na├»ve” when you hear about stuff like this. I have been guilty of it myself, plenty of time. But please remember that your jeers and insults only serve to increase the belief that it is NOT okay to be wrong about religion and spirituality. So, on Saturday, try to cut them a break and keep the “Nanny-nanny-boo-booes” to a minimum.

To everyone else: If the Rapture DOES occur ... for those of us left behind ... I am totally thinking AFTER PARTY!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In Observance of Zombie Awareness Month (a.k.a. "May")

Hello Dear Readers!

While May is among my favorite months of the year, it being Zombie Awareness Month and all, it also seems to always turn out to be one of the busiest months of the year for me (of course, its not like June is any better...but I digress).

The recent business that is my life has resulted in my epic failure to blog any zombie-related posts during this most auspicious of times. This is the Romero-version of Christmas, after all ... um ... yeah ... it's Romero-mas.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “Just great! Yet another generic blog post that's going to bore me with a bunch of oh-so-obvious tips on how to survive a zombie apocalypse.”

Oh yeah? Well, you know what, Mr. and/or Mrs. Cynicism? Perhaps, you might want to read more than a paragraph of this blog post before you come to such a BOLD conclusion!

Frankly, I find your lack of faith disturbing (cue Darth Vader voice and creepy breathing sound effects).

Anyway … what was I supposed to be doing?
Oh, yeah … it’s Zombie Awareness Month! For those who don't know, this is that special time of year when everyone (or, at least, those who are aware that such a month even EXISTS) take a day here and there (after all, we have the whole month ... so why wear ourselves out?) to prepare for the unlikely yet inevitable day when the living dead come knocking on our doors, wanting nothing more than to feast on our warm flesh and, by doing so, finally force us to join the moaning collective of their mindless horde.

Good times!

However, I would not dare to insult the intelligence of my dear readers by regurgitating the same old Z-Day survival strategies that everyone already knows, for what would likely be the kajillionth time. Seriously, every year some genius publishes a set of ridiculously uninsightful tip in an article or weblog ... shoving the same old tired maxims down the readers' throats:
“Horde food and water!”
“Aim for the HEAD!”
"Stay away from largely populated areas!"

Whoa … REALLY? … well thanks for enlightening me, there, Captain Obvious! Thanks be to [insert deity of choice here] that you happened along my path! I shudder to imagine what would have become of me, had you not blessed me with your sage-like tidbits of zombie-survival wisdom!

Okay … I think I’ve more than satisfied my biting sarcasm quota for the day.

Moving on.

So, at this point you are probably wondering “Well, if this guy is not going to offer us any zombie apocalypse survival tips, what is he going to tell us?” (Then again, you may just be wondering why on Earth you ever opened this blog post in the first place, and/or are currently shaking your fist at the heavens for cursing you with such a cruel fate as this ... either one)

Very well, dear readers. I will stop punishing you with what appears to have become an increasingly obvious testament to my rampant ADHD.

I shall tell you of the awesome for which thou art all in store! Verily!

What I bring you …. IS …

WHAT NOT TO DO TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! (woot! woot!)

That’s right! You will now be able to say to others, “I’m going to survive Z-day by NOT doing stuff.” While all your friends are still running around, tiring themsleves out & lookin’ like fools … because they’re doin’ stuff.

While everyone else is telling you to do "this thing" or "that stuff" for this year’s Zombie Awareness Month, I am going to ask quite the opposite of you …

I want you to NOT do stuff.

You can start by NOT doing ANY of the below listed training and preparation methods, all of which have been tried and tested (and epically failed) by our tester team, comprised primarily of expert, Darwin-Award-winning, amateur zombie survival enthusiasts from across the globe:

1. Throwing a rock at a hive of Africanized bees and then running like hell is NOT a recommended method of training for the Zombie Apocalypse

2. Chasing stray cats around your neighborhood with a tennis racket at 2:00 in the morning is NOT a recommended training method for the Zombie Apocalypse

3. Jumping into the lion pit at the Zoo & trying to avoid being eaten is NOT a recommended training method for the Zombie Apocalypse

4. Chasing chickens with a cricket bat through the darkest alleys of the New Orleans French Quarter is NOT a recommended training method for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

5. Eating nothing but SPAM and Sardines for a month is NOT a recommended training method for the Zombie Apocalypse

6. Backpacking from Detroit to Flint, Michigan is NOT a recommended training method for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

7. Kicking over the line of custom Harleys that are parked in front of the local Biker Bar, then throwing up both middle fingers while screaming "Honda FOREVER!" & immediately running for your life is NOT a recommended training method for the Zombie Apocalypse

8. Putting landmines in your backyard is NOT a recommended preparatory measure for the Zombie Apocalypse (that poor puppy)

9. Preemptively lining the perimeter of your front yard with razor wire and a 40000 lumens motion detecting floodlight may violate several of your neighborhood’s Home Owner Association policies (unless you live in a warzone, you should probably just assume that it does ... so do NOT do this ... yet)

10. Do NOT destroy the staircase BEFORE you and your supplies are UPSTAIRS. (and, besides, what happens when you need to get down? It's not like you can live up there forever!)

And there you have it folks!

So, when/if someone asks you: “What are you doing for this year’s Zombie Awareness Month?”

You can reply with, “Well, I’ll tell you what I’m NOT doing.”

HAPPY ZOMBIE AWARENESS MONTH!

Now get out there and stop doing stuff!
(FYI … the “Aim for the head” rule still stands)

The Problem of Forced Exorcisms Pt II (cont)

Nigerian "Child Witches"

Here is a link to an article that further discusses the horrific crimes against children that are currently being committed in Nigeria, mentioned in my previous post:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1383732/Buried-alive-New-report-reveals-suffering-Nigerias-child-witches.html

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Problem of Forced Exorcisms, Part II

Suffer the Children.

This is Part II in the continuation of my look into the global problem of forced exorcisms.

"Love the whole world as a mother loves her only child."--Lord Buddha

"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children."--Mohandas Ghandi

"Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God."--Jesus the Christ

"Truly wonderful, the mind of a child."--Yoda


Back in August, I came across a news story out of India that caught my attention (the incident had occurred in July, just to be clear). According to the article, a translation of an original article published by The Press Trust of India, a five-year-old little girl had been hacked to death and beheaded by two male relatives, and her body dumped without so much as a prayer or a single shed tear. I have a little girl around the same age as the girl in this article, so the fact of her murder alone was enough to make my heart sink into my stomach.

However, I forced myself to read on ... and was further saddened when I learned of their reasons for committing this heinous act. They claimed to have killed the little girl under the advisement of a religious figure, who claimed the child was demon possessed and the source of all the family’s hardships. The only solution, according to this so-called “man of God” … make a human sacrifice of the little girl.

I swear that I felt something break inside of me when I read that part. Of course, I would dismiss anyone, man or woman, as being "of God" the moment they endorsed human sacrifice, ESPECIALLY of a CHILD!

Sadly enough, this story is indicative of a frightening trend in several parts of the globe.

The trend? Children being used as supernatural scapegoats—ultimately leading to them being tortured, exiled, murdered, and abandoned.

In Nigeria, the problem of belief in demon possessed or “child witches” causing hardships has become so ridiculously widespread that shelters have had to be created for the increasing number of children who have been attacked, cast out, or abandoned by their parents and/or villages. Can you imagine being nearly killed by the very same people upon whom you rely for love and survival?

And, of course, there are special “exorcists” all over Nigeria, most of them self-proclaimed and improperly trained, if trained at all … and, of course, these charlatans are more than happy to perform ritual exorcisms … if the price is right. When the family or village runs out of money, the “exorcist” packs up and moves on to the next group of suckers … usually claiming that the child is so seriously possessed that the demon will not leave. This leaves the family and/or villagers believing that their only option is to kill or exile the child in order to remove this fabricated evil from their presence.

I just don’t get it.

I have always believed that children are supposed to represent innocence, potential, and the embodiment of all our hopes for the future. How has this been so drastically reversed in certain parts of the world?

Why are people blaming children for the “sins of their fathers”?

I am interested to hear your opinions on this.