Tuesday 15 December 2015

December doodlings

Surely reruns of The Roy Rogers Show and Only Fools and Horses should have Trigger warnings? And The House at Pooh Corner – a Tigger warning.

Does God read? But of course. Children’s books for serious reading, theology for laughs, and the Daily Mail or the Washington Times as emetics.

Peter and John are sitting at a table drinking cappuccinos outside the Guiding Starbucks in Jerusalem. “Hey, Andy,” Peter asks, pointing to a guy on the corner, “who’s that fruitcake waving the ‘Jesus died in my place’ placard?” “Him?” John replies. “It’s that evangelical, Barabbas.”

As Mary gave birth to the King of the Jews, I guess you could say that she had a Caesarean, right?

If you want to do something radically Christian this Christmas, something that might overcome ignorance and even contribute to world peace, give someone a Koran.

What chillingly prophetic timing. René Girard dies on November 4th and 10 days later there is an outbreak of religious violence followed by preparations for secular counter-violence, in its own way also sacred (see William T. Cavanaugh on the “migration of the holy” from the church to the state), and driven by the identification of scapegoats – pagans and apostates for Isis, the Muslim “other” for the West, either as collateral damage in the Middle East or as victims of hate crimes in Europe, North America, and Australia and New Zealand.

Nous sommes tous Carl Schmitt” – President François Hollande, on his declaration of war on Isis and his announcement of an extended “state of emergency”.

Criminalising the wearing of niqabs and burkas in public, as in France, is a huge mistake; rather, it should be compulsory. And Muslim men – I propose that they should be required to sew a minatory star-and-crescent badge on their outer garments. After all, there is good precedent for such mandatory religious self-identification. That way, no more marshmallow Islamophobia – female or male, we could pick “them” off one by one… Okay, you got me: I’m angling for a job as an adviser on US Homeland Security. But frankly, I am more frightened by the sulfuric stench of xenophobic vengeance in the air that I am by the threat of Isis on our urban streets.

Godwin’s Law has recently acquired a corollary called “Cameron’s Law”, named after the British prime minister. It states that if, in a protracted debate, someone smears his political opponents by calling them “terrorist sympathisers”, he has ipso facto lost the argument. In addition, if he is then called out on such irresponsible character assassination and refuses to apologise, he is an asshole as well as a loser.

If we were doing this Christianity thing correctly, the church (metaphorically) would have more physiotherapists than priests – to treat our chronic prepatellar bursitis.

The late and wonderful Roger Lundin said, “The older I get the less nostalgic I become, and the more I become oriented towards the future.” Absolutely. Or in the phrase of the late and wonderful Fred Kaan (in a hymn for Remembrance Sunday), in my late sixties I am learning how to “remember forward”.

The contemporary university seems to be a cross between a mall, a sanctuary, and a caliphate of correctness, its students at once customers, refugees, and ideological jihadists. How easily sensitivity and indignation morph into a discourse of trauma and oppression. Yet because it is inescapably compromised by egotism and self-interest (Simone Weil), “the language of ‘rights’,” observes Rowan Williams, “becomes a fully moral affair only when it connects with empathy” – when, one might say, it is embedded in a culture of generosity and inquisitiveness. Put it like this: there is a fuck-you feeling about student protest today quite absent from the late sixties (I graduated from Wesleyan in 1970), when teachers were often our comrades, and we liked arguing with opponents, even real bad guys, not silencing them, lest our own convictions become immutable and canonical. With grotesque Girardian irony, against scapegoating, campus activists now practice scapegoating.

You know the now ubiquitous trope “the perfect storm”? It drives me cyclonic.

Letter published in the British newspaper the i, 8 December:
As an expat New Yorker, I can confirm, with Stefano Hatfield, that not all American gun-owners are “right-wing nutjobs”; to wit, Mr. Hatfield’s American cousin, who owns a gun “just in case” (7 December). Just in case of what? Presumably just in case of a violent assault in his home, i.e., for protection. Yet this sense of security is completely ill-founded, as studies show that people who keep guns at home for protection are more likely to be victims of homicide than people whose homes are firearm-free; and that guns meant for protection are more likely to be deployed in domestic violence than self-defence, or to cause accidental injury, particularly to children. So no, not all American gun-owners are right-wing and insane. Some are actually quite liberal but just plain stupid.
It is not the Second Amendment but the First that is the real sacred text of the NRA. The right to bear arms is, foundationally, a matter of freedom of religion. The deity is Moloch (and Charlton Heston is his Moses): worshipped with weapons (V: “Praise the Lord!” / R: “Pass the ammunition!”), propitiated by blood (“Hic est sanguis tuus”) – a lurid liturgy – his providence unfolding in a national narrative of redemptive violence. Hence the remorseless fusillades against proponents of gun-control: they are not just liberals, they are heretics.

You think the tyranny of the majority is dangerous? Try unanimity.

When I think of sad times in the past, they make me feel sad again. When I think of happy times in the past, they make me feel sad now. And when I think of the future – don’t even go there. Time is a bugger. There is joy and hope only in its apocalyptic interruptions, which – Deo gratio – happen all the – time.

The bad news is that Donald Trump is raving. Or rather the good news, since the gods first drive mad those they would destroy.

At least a Trump presidency would have a silver lining for the UK, as the compassionate media personality Katie Hopkins (who called asylum-seekers “cockroaches”) has recently tweeted: “If Donald Trump wins the race … I’m moving to America.”

What is success but failure either in denial or waiting to happen?

More intimate than sex, prayer is an erotic act, and therefore, like sex, susceptible to pornographic distortion. For X-rated images and “money” shots, see God TV.

Many thanks to Digital Cinema Media for its pusillanimous decision to ban the C of E’s 60-second advertisement featuring a variety of people – including a traffic cop, a dairy farmer, two refugees, and some weightlifters – saying the Lord’s Prayer. What toxic proselytising! It’s always encouraging to see atheists du jour applauding PC at its most risible – unbelievers who are more quickly offended, more shrilly illiberal, more obnoxiously smug, and more proudly ignorant than many of us Christians. You are the shock troops of evangelism. Keep up the good work.

Jesus died to save me. From what? From killing him again … and again … Well, it was the right idea. Lord, have mercy!

“The Word popped, peeped, and pooped among us” (John 1:14, original autograph).

Finally: “Let me remind you of the ladies of the Spanish court, who always kept their pet apes by their side so that they themselves would look more beautiful” (from John Huston’s Moulin Rouge, 1952). My oh Myers, come January it will be 10 years since I have been an occasional blogger here at F&T. Never has a baboon been so indulged by – and so grateful to – his (Ben) Meister. Cheers, mate!

And Nadolig Llawen, everyone!


Alan K said...

As always, much thanks.

I offer one little criticism. You say: "I am more frightened by the sulfuric stench of xenophobic vengeance in the air that I am by the threat of Isis on our urban streets." I feel exactly the same way, but you are better than this. I know that you have it in you to say the same thing in a manner that will produce both laughter and sighing in the reader. The above-mentioned rendering just made me sigh, and I can get sighing from just about anywhere and anything these days. Your doodlings, now they are like an oasis in the desert and the laughter they produce is water and shade amid the dry sands of sighs.

Merry Christmas

Unknown said...

Thanks, Alan, for your beautifully put "little criticism". But you are too kind to say that I "am better than this". The shadowy figures of cynicism and despair are two of my closest companions, and they often get the better of me. The only good thing that can be said about the buggers is that paradoxically, though unsurprisingly, without them I would never be funny at all.

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