"This book doesn't have any answers!" – Homer Simpson in The Simpsons Movie.
The Bible is filled with instructions on how to lead a great and fulfilling life. Really. There's all sorts of amazing self-help stuff going on in there, from learning how to forgive to simply practicing consideration for your fellow man. But also, of course, it's one of the most destructive forces around.
The Bible has been able to spoil so much of human history because it is just is so fucking vague. It's a book-length fortune cookie or horoscope, wherein people can glean anything they want from the text. Want to sleep with your little cousin? Surely there's something in there that'd give you the thumbs up. Feel like committing a little murder? Just check out whatever section the latest abortionist assassin was dwelling over before pulling the trigger. You can debate anything you want – and win!
A great example of this is the pro-choice movement. You'd think because of where it fits in today's religious environment that super religious folks would have never supported a woman's right to chose. But in fact, the Christian opposition to abortion hasn't been the norm that long. In a post over at CNN, Jonthan Dudley researches the Christian position on abortion throughout the past century and finds that the Bible was, as late as 1971, used as proof that God actually believes there's a difference between a fetus and the life of the mother. (Exodus 21:22-24 was the specific snippet they pointed to.) But it wasn't until the late 70s/early 80s when Jerry Falwell started believing it was his job to protect fetuses that the opinion shifted across the Christian landscape. And now, officially, abortion is bad because “The Bible says so.”
Just keep that in mind when someone uses that excuse. Not because they're wrong. The Bible probably does say that. It also says everything else as well, meaning it really says nothing at all.
Onto the roundup!
- A man is suing a New York Roman Catholic Church for $3 million in damages after a 600-pound stone cross fell on his leg.
- Delmon Young – outfielder for the World Series losers, the Detroit Tigers – shouted “Fucking Jews!” before tossing a panhandler to the ground last April. As punishment, he will have to complete a few courses at the Museum of Tolerance.
- A suicide bomber in Syria drove a car full of explosives into a building used by President al-Assad's security forces, killing at least 50 people.
- Well, this is some good news: The country of Malawi has decided to suspend their anti-homosexual laws, which punish being gay by up to 14 years in prison. For now, at least. There still has to be a “public debate” and an actual parliamentary vote before being gay in Malawi becomes completely OK. Take a gander at the horrific photo at the link, and you'll realise that this may not be a slam-dunk.
- Sister Mary Anne Rapp, a nun with a gambling habit, stole $128,000 from two rural New York churches where she worked.
- Muslims and Buddhists are still going at it in Myanmar, accounting for at least 89 deaths and 35,000 people displaced during the month of October.
- Yes, we're all sick of politics and demographics and exit polls at this point, so I've made a conscious decision to keep most of that out of this week's round-up. But it's still worth checking out this video from New Left Media. They interviewed Romney supports at a rally in Ohio. There's a humanising quality to the whole thing, as a good percentage of those interviewed are simply frustrated at the economy (understandably so) and looking for some kind of change. But every now and then you'll get a batshit insane religious freak who is a one-issue voter, and that issue is God and keeping a Muslims out of the White House.
- Over in France, a hacker took over the website of their EuroMillions lottery and stuck up warnings about how gambling is impure, alcohol “sows hatred between yourselves,” and it's all the work of the devil. Most everyone believes the hacks came courtesy of an Islamic militant computer whiz, seeing as the messages were in Arabic and gambling and alcohol are forbidden in Islam.
- The Pope made sure President Obama knows he still doesn't approve of the whole birth control being forced on church healthcare programs thing. Obama, no doubt, said something like “Thanks, Pope, we'll look into that” and stuck the letter in his circular file drawer.
- Mark Basseley Youssef, the filmmaker responsible for The Innocence of Muslims – the viral video that sort-of-but-not-really started anti-American riots throughout the Middle East – has been sentenced to one year in prison after violating his parole by using the internet.
- A blogger over at the Christian Men's Defense Network believes Romney lost the election because of a demographic that could not be polled and targeted: the slut vote.
- Pat Robertson is shocked that women watch porn.
- A group protesting the occupation of Tibet by China have decided to forgo the horrifying and not very effective practice of self-immolation. Instead, they made a "Gangnam Style" parody video.
- Turns out, 68 percent of Republicans believe that it is possible for “people to be possessed by demons.” Maybe scarier: 49 percent of Democrats also believe in such nonsense.
And Our Person(s) of the Week: Voters in Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota, who saw past the bullshit religious-based nonsense and blocked attempts to end same-sex marriage in their states. That's 4-0 in the war between tolerance and bigotry last Tuesday. As you can tell by this interactive map, while we're not quite there yet as a whole, it certainly is getting better.
Previously - The Case for Voting