Amazing Grace

August 3, 2017

I just watched an amazingly brave young man, a professed ex-Muslim, speaking truth to religious fanatics, largely people from the same cultural background as his. By doing so, he is placing himself in clear and present danger of assassination by those professed Muslims who interpret the words of their ‘holy book’ as licence to murder so-called apostates like Mohammad Alkhadra. I just hope that this never comes to pass.

He gave his short, impassioned speech at a Secular conference in London, one of the great cities of the Western world; a city where freedom of thought and speech is all but taken for granted. Yet London, like so many other great cities in the West, and the vast populations they represent, kowtows to religious claims made not only by Muslims, but by Christians of all denominations, and even Scientologists – the latter being an almost transparent con in that their claim to be a religion is highly suspect and deserving of far greater scrutiny.

But I digress. I was brought up a Catholic, or should I say I was brought up by Catholics? My family was notionally Catholic, and even managed to go to mass at Christmas and Easter, but religion was never discussed at home; the existence of God was a given, and one had better comport oneself accordingly. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, the mythology never took deep root in my psyche; it was more like a weed than a mighty oak of belief. Nevertheless, even as a weed it visited a good deal of pain and suffering on me, the sort of passive-aggressive torture no child ought be subjected to. But pain and suffering was, and probably remains, the prevailing ethos of a certain branch of Catholicism, the branch that displays images and icons of a barely alive flayed Christ hanging by his impaled hands from the cross. This imagery is fetishistically worshiped by adherents to the ‘faith’. To me it seemed like the working-class congregation, to which my family belonged, identified or over-identified with Christ’s suffering; it somehow made the shittiness of their lives more bearable.

More digression. What I wanted to get to was simply this: I can more or less poke fun and ridicule at ‘my religion’ with impunity. Doing so might offend a few people, but it would not make them issue a death warrant with my name on it, let alone carry it out. In modern-day Islam, the opposite is often the reality; so-called apostates are marked for execution, and too often and all too willingly an executioner steps forward and commits this ghastly crime in the name of his religion. I say ‘his’ advisedly for it is almost always a young male perpetrator who carries out the wishes of his imaginary prophet.

Two things. Bravery such as that displayed by Mohammad Alkhadra deserves our commendation, and respect. And the bloodlust and ignorance of those who would harm people like Mohammad Alkhadra deserves nothing but our bluntest condemnation. Above all, we, as a society based on reason and evidence, ought not to be encouraging stone-aged thinking in any part of our population. Bullshit ought not be rewarded, except perhaps as manure for our gardens.




Reaching for the numinous

July 20, 2017

I’ve been trying to absorb the passionate torrent of philosophical inquiry that Professor Jordan Peterson evinces whenever he opens his mouth, or so it seems to me. Listening to him has made me excited again about a facet of our existence, namely the spiritual realm, that many of us have rejected, often for mundane reasons. For me it was the abject poverty of spirit – for want of a better word – that I witnessed during my formative years as a pupil of Catholic education. Nuns were teachers and whatever other hat they’d been assigned by their superior for that day, week, or month. Many of them were, to my child’s eye, cold and distant, unwilling or unable to actually connect with their young charges on what we regard as a human level. There were one or two exceptions, one very young newcomer to the cloistered life, and one older woman who just beamed with an inner glow that nothing could extinguish. From the age of six – newly arrived just off the boat and not a word of English in my vocabulary – to the age of 14, if memory serves, I was  a captive of these dour, cheerless ghosts in their black heel to toe habits with not a smile able to escape the stale, crucified version of religiosity that they seemed willing lambs for.

That was my understanding of these oddly clad women, and the priests who officiated in the church that was actually part of one of the two school buildings. The priests lived in a house that was on the school grounds though fenced off, and were often seen around and about  when they weren’t to be seen sitting on the verandah of their house watching the children at play.

I wonder now, were these people reaching for the numinous? My uneducated guess is that they were, in their own constrained way. But at the time nothing they did or taught helped me see any glimmer of what the whole crushing edifice of Christianity was about. That part of my education I had to see to alone.






Writing for pleasure

July 19, 2017

When I last visited here I spent a few hours committing various thoughts about all kinds of stuff, stream-of-consciousness-like, to this place, only to see it vanish when I foolishly fucked about with site controls I knew nothing about. Sorry for the silly ff alliteration. It’s a habit I picked up reading writers who also had little of value to impart in their screen scribbles. Shit, there I go again.

Anyhow, the moral of this story is to never fuck around with stuff you don’t understand, and if you do, have a good lawyer handy.

Oh, and if you write for pleasure, or for any goddamn reason, do it locally in your word-processor of choice, one that saves frequently, and only post here when you’re ready. Then if you foolishly fuck about with site controls you don’t understand you won’t feel such a dill.




Adblock my ass…

May 13, 2017

What is it with some people? Apparently downloads of this Firefox add-on are going through the roof. Who are all these sissies who are too damn stupid to comprehend that it’s the ads that pay for most of that free stuff out there? Yes, moron, it isn’t really free. When was the last time you did anything without a pay-off of some kind?

Sheesh! Do you really feel so disenfranchised that you resort to such penny-ante bullshit? I suppose you have a “No Junk Mail” sticker on your real-world mailbox, too. And while you’re at it, you probably look down your long, ugly proboscis at all kinds of other things in the real world you don’t approve of but are impotent to change. You poor, bloody weasel!

Stop Smoking

March 28, 2017

How does one stop smoking? Call the fire brigade? Stand in the shower and turn on the water? Wait for rain and step outside? I’ve tried them all and yet I’m still smoking. Clearly, some better strategies are called for.

I have been smoking for several decades, and it shows. The walls are discoloured. My clothing reeks. My wife won’t come near me. Heck, even my psychiatrist insists on there being a plexiglass partition between us, even though she smokes one of those electronic thingies, that glows blue every time she inhales. This makes me sad, the blue light I mean.

I’ve tried gum, rubber bands, and self-help books; dozens and dozens of self-help books. I still smoke, and can diagnose a frog at ten paces. Well, no I can’t, but I’ve helped several friends deal with their issues.