Quran Day: Verses 60 and 61 of The Cow speak about the Israelites in the Desert

What’s in the Bible

The premise of this short passage is in the Bible: the Israelites grumbled about water and they complained about food. Regarding the water, Moses did strike a rock with his staff. There is no talk of the division of tribes here in the Bible, but in the Quran the passage leads us to the point of saying that what was derived from this experience was the tribes learning their place and that they should spread no discord in the land because God will provide for them all. I like that.

Where This Passage Goes

At first, this passage is speaking of the Israelites’ complaints against God but very quickly it ends up speaking of God chastising them for wanting to exchange what is good with what is bad (?) and telling them to go to the city. This, I don’t understand. I’m not sure what the city refers to nor why them going there will get them what they want. In addition, the Israelites are then disgraced. I’m unsure why, other than them questioning God’s ability to provide what is right, the same theme of the previous verse. However, at the end, everything returns to a common biblical theme whereby the Israelites don’t listen to the word of God and treat the prophets unjustly. It was a quick move and link from the complaining in the desert to a characterization of the Israelites’ behavior for the next 700+ years.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to do with these two verses, as they start and end with familiar ideas (to me) but speak of things I don’t understand in the middle. Do you know what is being discussed here? Should this city, whether symbolic or actual, be obvious to me?


Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read more Quran Read-A-Long.

To read about tonight’s South Park episodes, which interestingly concern the issues of Islam and terrorism and the degree to which the American preoccupation with terrorism is a mental issue, click HERE and HERE.

The Cow 60-61

60. And remember, when Moses asked for water for his people, We told him to strike the rock with his staff, and behold, twelve springs of gushing water gushed forth so that each of the tribes came to know its place of drinking. Eat and drink, (enjoy) God’s gifts, and spread no discord in the land. 61. Remember, when you said: “O Moses, we are tired of eating the same food (day after day), ask your Lord to give us fruits of the earth, herbs and cucumbers, grains and lentils and onions;” he said: “Would you rather exchange what is good with what is bad? Go then to the city, you shall have what you ask.” So they were disgraced and became indigent, earning the anger of God, for they disbelieved the word of God and slayed the prophets unjustly, for they transgressed and rebelled.


“Imaginationland,” South Park’s Epic Trilogy about Real v. Imaginary Things, Begins Here

I, for one, absolutely love the Imaginationland trilogy. It’s brilliant. At first I wasn’t too keen, because towards the end of the first episode I didn’t see it wrapping up to a point, but upon realizing that it was more than a single episode – and then three episodes! – I became enthralled by the depth to which the entire trilogy was taken and the sensational points that arose out of it.

Imaginationland is about the existence of the make-believe – how real imaginary things are. This hour and a half of philosophical speculation interwoven seamlessly with a plot about Kyle finally having to lick Cartman’s particularly vinegary nuts – “How do you like your sundays Kyle? With extra nuts?” – is nothing short of genius.

From the perspective of The Zen of South Park, Imaginationland adds particular vibrancy because the understanding that imaginary things – like many of the religious figures we revere, and even, say, maybe, God – are real and can have far more importance and influence than tangible things has a dual effect. At once it provides us with historical fodder while simultaneously affirming the fact that historicity can be far less important than perception.

For instance, haven’t people like Superman or Jesus, with their values of justice and the importance of fighting for truth been more influential and important than almost every other person? What about Luke Skywalker – imaginary – vs. Mark Hammell, tangible. Skywalker is more important (by far) and has had far more of an impact on the world. Can we really say that just because he’s imaginary he isn’t really real?

What do you think of the Imaginationland episodes? Did you like them? How do you feel about the idea that imaginary things are real?

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about other South Park episodes.

South Park’s Most Self-Reflective Episode, “Cartoon Wars (1),” Episode 1003, Speak of Muslims, Terrorism and Free Speech

Personally, I think that the two part episode, “Cartoon Wars,” is out-of-this-world amazing. The layers of meaning in these two episodes go beyond almost anything most of us experience on a regular basis as we engage with the satirical media around us.

When Family Guy plans to show an image of Mohammed, the Muslim prophet, on its program, the Muslim world is outraged and the Americans are terrified of offending Muslims, primarily for fear of retribution. In large part the episode is about free speech and defending our American values, but it’s also about so much more than that. I recommend that everyone watch this episode and its sequel which will be on tomorrow night, Thursday.

A great free speech quote from the episode comes from Mr. Stotch, Butters’ dad:

“What we need to do is just the opposite. Freedom of speech is at stake here, don’t you all see? If anything, we should all make cartoons of Muhammad, and show the terrorists and the extremists that we are all united in the belief that every person has a right to say what they want! Look, people, it’s been real easy for us to stand up for free speech lately. For the past few decades we haven’t had to risk anything to defend it. But those times are going to come! And one of those times is right now. And if we aren’t willing to risk what we have, then we just believe in free speech, but we don’t defend it.”

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about other South Park episodes.

I’ve actually written an essay called, “In Defense of South Park,” in which I discuss the importance of these episodes in the context of their genre and satire.

What do you think of this episode? What about free speech and the need to defend it?