Category Archives: Religion

Celebrating Reason: Non-Believers and Muslims Sing Along in Melbourne

Today is Sunday, a day which most Christians consider to be a day of rest and worship of god. First of all because it is the belief that this is the day of Christ’s resurrection, and secondly because by the seventh day, the man in the sky had completed his work and took a well deserved day off to rest (creating the universe with everything in it sounds tiring). Interestingly enough, Christians can’t decide amongst themselves on which day of the week they should observe Sabbath, as a minority believe they should do so on Saturday instead of Sunday, as do the Jews of course, making the entire practice somewhat more trivial. Additionally, in Israel and in most Muslim countries, Sunday is a regular working day. At least they seem to be on the same page where this matter is concerned. For non-believers, Sunday is part of something we call ‘the weekend’, during which we read a larger edition of our newspaper, our children watch cartoons on television in the early morning, and our favourite sporting team will make their appearance on the pitch. How lovely all these differences between people can be.

But I mustn’t digress. As the Muslims and non-believers can do anything they like on Sunday, they ran into each other in Melbourne earlier this month at the Atheist Convention 2012. Was there signing? Yes! Was there chanting? Yes! A Sunday not unlike one that Christians would have? Judge for yourself:

Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton: Building a Successful Case for Atheism 2.0?

How could you not want to read a book that is titled Religion for Atheists? The title appeals to both believers and non-believers, and phrased in web terms, it makes the perfect link bait. Although the term link bait often has a negative connotation, stemming from the practice of luring people into reading content using a provocative title, De Botton’s book shouldn’t be judged by its cover. In the end it is the content that determines whether the author will be accused of link baiting or will be praised for writing good content, or in this case, a book. But before I elaborate further on the content of Religion for Atheists, it is helpful to know a bit more about De Botton himself. Also using web terms, De Botton is a proponent of what he calls Atheism 2.0, a concept that he elaborates upon during one of his TED talks.

Continue reading Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton: Building a Successful Case for Atheism 2.0?

Jihadist Daydreaming: Flying a Remote-Controlled Aircraft into the Pentagon

The New York Times displayed the kind of headline that sadly enough does not stand out any more in 2011: “Man Is Held in a Plan to Bomb Washington”. What does stand out are the means by which this was going to happen, which lead to suspect that this individual has been locked up in a shed together with the Jihadist brother of MacGyver and the A-Team (where A stands for Allah).

The 26-year-old Mr Ferdaus, an American citizen from a town west of Boston, has been charged with plotting to attack the Pentagon and the Capitol using remote-controlled aircrafts filled with explosives. But not only that, according to the FBI the man was to use the “aerial assault” to “eliminate key locations”, at which point attackers would herd survivors into a tight corner and “open up on them” and “keep firing”. The shopping list of the generation-Y religious fundamentalist: three remote-controlled planes, C4 explosives, a couple of Kalashnikovs and, why not, some grenades. Luckily the would-be terrorist only managed to obtain one remote-controlled plane, C4 explosives, and small arms before he was apprehended by the FBI. Continue reading Jihadist Daydreaming: Flying a Remote-Controlled Aircraft into the Pentagon

The Pint-sized Preacher, GI Joe, Jihad Joe and Hamas Mickey Mouse

Today I stumbled upon a controversial YouTube video of the 4-year-old Kanon Tipton from Mississippi that has been dubbed the ‘world’s youngest preacher’. Is this a dramatic sign that childhood is changing rapidly in recent times, or does a closer look learn that there is more than meets the eye?

Children have always and will always mimic adults around them. This is the main way through which they learn. From this perspective, it is not difficult to comprehend the case of preaching 4-year-old, which doesn’t make it less of a sad history however. If anything, this ‘pint-sized preacher’ is a sign of the times, not because of the fact that he is mimicking, but because of the fact what it is he is mimicking. As part of their learning curve, children aged 4 are only just considered capable to play with LEGO that contains slightly smaller pieces than a 3-year old is allowed to play with, so where does preaching in front of a congregation fit in? One YouTube user commented: “I’ve always said a preacher’s job could be done by a 4-year-old”. And indeed, either this display says something about the job of a preacher, or it says something about those being preached to. Either way, it is quite a telling story. Continue reading The Pint-sized Preacher, GI Joe, Jihad Joe and Hamas Mickey Mouse

Meeting the myth makers of the modern world (but not Robert Crumb)

A weekend of graphic storytelling, animation and music took place in the Sydney Opera House on the 21st and 22nd of August. American illustrator Robert Crumb was supposed to be one of the main attractions of the festival, but he decided not to come to Sydney after The Daily Telegraph and Hetty Johnston described Crumbs work as perverted images emanating from what is clearly a sick mind, and instigated nothing less than a moral crusade against Robert Crumb and his work.

A crusade against an artist that draws images. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Kurt Westergaard can testify of what upheaval a drawing can cause. His drawing of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban caused Islamic protests, some of which escalated into violence, including the bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan and setting fire to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran, which resulted in a total of more than 100 reported deaths. In addition several people were arrested plotting to kill Westergaard or do him harm, including a man who made his way into Westergaard’s home with an axe and a knife. Continue reading Meeting the myth makers of the modern world (but not Robert Crumb)