You can argue whether or not Bob Dylan is “good” and deserving of that freedom plaque thingy Obama gave him last week, but you can't argue that one of Dylan's worst “eras” was between the years 1979-1981, his “born again” phase. This is when he released Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love, a trilogy influenced by Christian gospel music and his love of the Jesus.Some Dylan scholars – why is that a legitimate life pursuit? – will say that Dylan needed to find religion during that time. That it was a necessary spiritual throat-clearing before he could continue. That a man can be in the spotlight for only so long before he cracks and needs to turn to a Higher Power to find salvation.
It doesn't matter, though: The music's still shit.Onto our rollickin' roundup!
- Speaking of gospel music (in a way), yes, of course we're going to lead off with this viral sensation of a four-year-old singing “Ain't No Homos Gonna Make it to Heaven” in a crowded church, getting oodles of slack-jawed grins and lawd-howdy guffaws from the idiotic congregation. - [Another self-immolation against China's occupation of Tibet](http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?article=Tibet+continues+to+burn%3A+Mother+of+three+torches+self+to+death&id=31497 http://www.voanews.com/tibetan-english/news/Two-Tibetans--carry-out-self-immolation-protests-in-front-of-Tibets-holiest-temple-in-Lhasa-Tibet-capital-154865075.html) happened last week, but this time it was a mother of three young children. This comes just on the heels of two older gents pulling the same thing a few days previous.- Five policemen were killed in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan after a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into a checkpoint. - In Baghdad, a series of explosions rocked the city over a three-hour period – predominantly in Shiite neighbourhoods, probably not a coincidence – and ended up killing 14 people and leaving a whole bunch more injured. - In Nigeria, a German engineer who was abducted last January by al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda-a-likes, was killed after a botched rescue attempt. All the kidnappers died too, so, there's that? - Going to Pakistan? Don't you dare make fun of Islam, or you're just asking to be convicted of violating their medieval, and highly sensitive, obscenity laws. That kind of thing carries with it a death penalty, it should be noted.- Kind of updating a piece I mentioned a few weeks back: Lady Gaga has decided to cancel her show in Indonesia after being bombarded with all sorts of religious-based violent threats. The biggest group behind the threats is the Islamic Defenders Front, who vowed to buy tickets to the event and, according to the AP, “wreak havoc.” Their reasoning is that her provocative dance moves would corrupt the youth, which makes them basically the same as the John Lithgow character in Footloose, but much more into beheadings.
- U.S. drones took out two more of those “suspected militants” in northwest Pakistan, before pressing the Turbo button and blowing up another 10 and 15 in consecutive days. Which begs the question, just for argument's sake here, how many of those “suspected” aren't really “actual"?
- In southern Yemen, a bit of a skirmish resulted in one Yemeni soldier dead, along with ten al-Qaeda fighters. Allah's running out of virgins! - Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Istanbul to protest plans to curb abortions. The current law allows abortions up to ten weeks after conception, but a new piece of legislation tries to drastically lower that time frame to only four weeks. It should be noted that Islam is the hugely dominant religion of the country, accounting for over 99 percent of its citizens. So, maybe the silver lining in all of this is that Muslims and Christians can find some common ground after all? Sorry ladies! - Last week DC Comics revealed one of its long-time superheroes, Green Lantern, was actually gay. Now it's not the version of the Green Lantern that was played by Ryan Reynolds in the movie. That was Hal Jordan. What they mean is the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who, well, that's actually the last shit I'm giving about the intricacies of comic book alter-egos. The point is, yes, don't worry, that completely-bored-with-life group One Million Moms are “coming out” against his “coming out”, by probably calling for some kind of inane boycott of comic books, or lanterns or the colour green, or some shit. I don't know. I kind of stopped reading their complaints.- Photographer Lauren Pond has a bit of Necessary Reading over at The Washington Post about her project documenting followers of one of those snake-handling religions, and what happened when her subject got bitten by a rattlesnake and eventually died from the poison. It's an eerie and illuminated peak into a world we rarely see.- Sorry, family in Houston. That's not Jesus you're seeing in your shower. It's just mold.- And our Person(s) of the Week goes to: Mid-Ohio Atheists, who got one of their three billboards pulled after the owner of the land where the billboard resided threatened to cancel his lease. That, in itself, isn't so much noteworthy. But just the fact that they're doing something in a Bible-laden part of the country deserves some kudos. Sure, it can be seen as being overly dick-ish, and no doubt there's a component of in-your-face contrarianism that comes with putting up billboards that just say “There Is No God”. But thinking back, as a young half-believer full of questions about the religion I was baptised into, seeing something like that on the side of the road certainly would've expedited my escape from the church and acceptance of other ways to live. So, keep up the good work!Previously - Throw the Gays in a Corral