Quran Read-A-Long: The Cow 177-182 Creates Two Ways of Keeping Wills Honest

The First Half

What a wonderful opening verse! At a basic level it seems to speak of what piety is. Is piety related to which direction you face (presumably for prayer), which is to say a religious matter? No. Piety is about those few fundamentally important beliefs (God, Last Day, etc.) and in being a charitable person who helps others. Piety and social responsibility, then, are rather related – a wonderful message. Interestingly, though, this discussion turns into one about wills, inheritance and retribution.

What is meant by “recompense (for blood) paid with a grace?” This seems related to the retribution for the murdered, but I’m wondering if we’re talking about the same dead person. Is it saying that God gives grace (i.e. brings to Heaven) whosoever is murdered? Obviously it couldn’t be anyone who gets that privilege, but some who may have made amends, surely. Perhaps that’s why it is seen as a concession by God, because the idea is that the murdered man may not have been worthy of Heaven at that moment but could have become so given time. I feel like I’m stretching to make this verse work when I simply don’t understand what it’s saying.

The Second Half

At first I was very confused about verses 180-182, but by the end I think I got it. I kept asking myself, Why does one need to give away his stuff at the end of his life rather than after his death, but 182 makes it quite clear why: because people have been known to change wills. What’s interesting is how the Quran recognizes this societal problem (there would not be laws about it if it were not a problem) and takes a two-pronged approach to solving it.

On the one hand, there is a practical, on the ground approach, and on the other, a celestial approach. First, the solution is that people nearing death will bequeath their goods before they die, thereby ensuring that the people who are supposed to have them do indeed have them. Thus, there can be no mistaking that the will was not altered. Second, the Quran makes this more than a mundane matter and tells us that anyone who does mess with wills will be divinely punished, and it even encourages those who suspect will-tamperers to come forward by ensuring that such people will not be punished, either by God or, I assume, other people (at least the Godly injunction would seem to prevent such thing).

I must say that I find this to be very clever. It is by no means a unique way of doing things. The Torah is all over this dual method of ensuring that problems are solved with a heavenly and an earthly solution, as well as other societies in which religion and penal codes are one and the same, but this is very well done. Identify a problem: will-tampering. Propose a solution: give away stuff before death. Reinforce divinely: God punishes those who break this law. Bravo!

Do you have anything to add to my assessment or would you like to point out anything that I’ve missed? What do you think of these verses?

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

Read More Quran Read-A-Long.

The Cow 177 – 182

177. Piety does not lie in turning your face to East or West: Piety lies in believing in God, the Last Day and the angels, the Scriptures and the prophets, and disbursing your wealth out of love for God among your kin and the orphans, the wayfarers and mendicants, freeing the slaves, observing your devotional obligations, and in paying the zakat and fulfilling a pledge you have given, and being patient in hardship, adversity, and times of peril. These are the men who affirm the truth, and they are those who follow the straight path. 178. O believers, ordained for you is retribution for the murdered, (whether) a free man, or a slave of a slave, or a woman of a woman. But he who is pardoned some of it by his brother should be dealt with equity, and recompense (for blood) paid with a grace. This is a concession from your Lord and a kindness. He who trangresses in spite of it shall suffer painful punishment. 179. In retribution there is life (and preservation). O men of sense, you may haply take heed for yourselves. 180. It is ordained that when any one of you nears death, and he owns good and chattels, he should bequeath them equitably to his parents and next of kin. This is binding on those who are upright and fear God. 181. And any one who changes the will, having heard it, shall be guilty and accountable; for God hears all and knows everything. 182. He who suspects wrong or partiality on the part of the testator and brings about a settlement, does not incur any guilt, for God is verily forgiving and merciful.

Kenny Saves Heaven from Satan During a Right to Life Debate in South Park Episode 904, “Best Friends Forever”

With the release of the new PSP and the accompanying game, Heaven vs. Hell, Kenny is found to be the greatest player on earth. Thus, God strikes him with a truck so that he can come to Heaven and defend it against the minions of Hell. That’s right: God designed the game to find Heaven’s very own Keanu Reeves (think, Constantine).

But in the past Satan has actually been a rather pleasant – if misunderstood – fellow, so why is he now attacking Heaven? Well, his minion/adviser/boyfriend, Kevin, has persuaded him to do so, and so in Lord of the Rings fashion (this episode hits just about everything) orcs are created to do battle against Heaven.

Unfortunately for Heaven’s retention of Kenny and his excellent ability to defend it against Hell, doctors on earth have hooked Kenny up to life support, thereby trapping his soul in his vegetative body. Think Terry Schiavo. I told you: this episode hits everything. Since Kenny left his PSP to Cartman in his will, Cartman wants him to remain dead, but sensing Cartman’s evil machinations, Kyle and Stan try to keep Kenny alive. As it turns into a national debate with Republican involvement on the pro-life, and in this case, Satanic side.

In the end more of Kenny’s will is discovered; he requested that he never be shown on tv in a vegetative state. Realizing that they were wrong but for the right reasons, Kyle and Stan allow Kenny to die. He goes to Heaven and defends it successfully in a battle that is amazing but which we are never allowed to see.

This great episode tackles so many elements of pop culture while making a mockery of America’s handling of the Terry Schiavo situation. A true testimony to Matt and Trey’s skills.

What did you think? What was your favorite part?

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

Read about other South Park episodes.

Hilarious Motivational Posters about Education, Common Sense and Baboons

Pretty funny stuff, huh?

Which was your favorite?

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

Enjoy more hilarious Motivational Posters.

Fun with the Bible: A New Year’s Exhortation from the Book of Proverbs

In a few days it will be the New Year, and I’d like to wish each and every one of my readers a very happy new year. I hope that it’s your happiest, healthiest and most successful new year to date! On that note, let’s take a look at a few lines from the book of Proverbs, specifically 2:20.

“Walk in the way of the good, and keep to the paths of the just.”

Simple and straightforward, just the way I like my exhortations.

“Happy are those who find wisdom.” – and don’t forget it.

Seek yourself out some wisdom in this new year. Not that you don’t have plenty, but more never hurt a body. Well, that’s not necessarily true, but hey, what I’m trying to say is that we should all be good, practice justice and seek wisdom. These things will lead to better, happier lives with more success and good health.

Happy New Year!

What do you think about these verses?

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

Enjoy some Fun with the Bible posts.

Zen Talk: Misery Ends Where Friendliness Begins

“Let one be friendly and well mannered; then one will have much happiness and put an end to misery.”

Could you imagine if we were all – and I mean every person on earth – friendly and well mannered? Buddha says that would bring an end to misery. What do you think? It’s certainly worth a shot, and I’d like to start right now. Good manners and friendliness are the names of the game.

Can you do it?

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

Enjoy more Zen Talk.

Brad Pitt Gives a Great Performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” was about as close as the author ever came to writing anything science fiction-like. To be fair, however, there was no attempt at a scientific explanation, as fictitious as it all may have been.

Science fiction or not, the first time I saw the trailer for this film I was compelled by the idea – that someone would have been born very old and as the years passed he, at least in physical appearance and bodily abilities, became younger and younger. Conceptually, I find that idea tantalizing, primarily to see how it is that one executes on that initial concept.

Personally, I found myself very satisfied by David Fincher’s execution. Yes, the movie was a bit long, but it was also very engaging to watch this character learn of old age before youth and value life in an entirely different way. There are lots of cliche questions or phrases that people toss about, including ‘youth is wasted on the young’ and others, and this movie did a nice job tackling such notions without telling you that it was doing so. It’s very subtlety made it as enjoyable as it was.

At the same time, the love story between Benjamin and Daisy (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) was very touching and, understandably, distressing. Two elements of symbolism (humming bird and clock) were perhaps a little strained to have the effect they were meant to (though I could see why they were there) but other than that it was a very good movie.

7.5 Chocolate Salty Balls.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

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

Read more movie reviews.

You should own your very own copy of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Around the World Pic: Texas Honkey Tonk Cantina in Tallin, Estonia

honky-tonk-cantina_2

Oh, the memories of the Honkey Tonk Texas Cantina in Tallin, Estonia. Tallin, by the way, is a magnificent little capital on the Baltic. We ended up spending three days there, which was most unexpected considering the speed with which we had been moving.

One day, as we were walking around Tallin, we stumbled upon this little gem. Tallin, Estonia – Honkey Tonk Texas Cantina. What!?! we cried, before shoving our way inside and demanding a table.

We enjoyed wings, quesadillas, and a variety of other hilarious tex-mex food that was entirely out of place in Estonia. We decided, too, that we would speak like hicks the entire time we were there, figuring that these random people on the Baltic wouldn’t understand our English, much less our ridiculous accents.

As it happens, Estonians, because their language is so obscure and useless worldwide, all speak relatively perfect English with little or no accents, and when we spoke like jackasses – a charade that we insisted on maintaining through the duration of our meal – they knew exactly what was going on. Yeah, we were idiots.

Have you ever been to Tallin, Estonia? Are you aware of this hilarious restaurant?

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

Read about and see more Around the World Pic posts.