Quran Read-A-Long: We Learn about the first Halal Laws in the Cow 168-176

Making the Dietary Laws as Serious as Possible

I think that the opening line here begs a question: how do we know what things of the earth are lawful and good to be eaten? That is, what’s Halal? As we read on and see that verses 168b-171 all relate to not following Satan and only obeying God, and that they are sandwiched in by lines 168a and 172, both about eating the good food given by God. We come to think (at least I did) that the food being spoken of is not your typical french fries and hambuger (or humus and falafel if you prefer – yum!), but rather, the spiritual nourishment and guidance provided by God, particularly through the right words of the Quran.

But then suddenly, we’re right back into the food again. So my question becomes, are these interim lines an intentional blurring of concepts here so that we come to equate eating what is right and following God’s law with being a good person and following God spiritually? It would certainly serve to make the commands weightier, and this seems to be further echoed by the verses that proceed the list of taboo foods as well.

The Specific Foods

The actual list of forbidden foods is fascinating, I think, because each is paralleled in the Torah, which is to say the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut (that’s why many in Israel who are not fanatical about what they eat but just don’t want to eat anything really wrong will eat at both kosher and halal restaurants since it’s effectively the same).

No blood, which is forbidden in the Torah because it was considered the lifeforce of the animal and that part was reserved explicitly for God. Somehow I think that Islam’s commandment was based on something less religiously primitive. No carrion birds for Jews or Muslims either, and of course nothing that was sacrificed in the name of any other God.

No pig, which is interesting, and many theories have been derived for why. After noticing that it was forbidden in both religions, one scholar concluded that the pig is a terrible animal to raise in the desert climate of the Middle East because it needs to be kept cool, and without adequate water will resort to filthy means of doing so (rolling in its own feces). Thus, that law insured that people would not waste time keeping and tending to pigs. Just a theory though. There are numerous theories for laws that don’t seem to have a scientific basis – all interesting – but all just that: theories. We don’t really know why it is that such things were forbidden, though the consistency in God’s commandments in the Torah and Quran is noteworthy.

Please feel free to comment on and add anything that I missed or said. What are your thoughts upon reading these verses? Do you keep halal (is that the phrase – it’s keep kosher)? What do you think the correlation between the texts and religions is here?

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The Cow 168-176

168. O men, eat only the things of the earth that are lawful and good. Do not walk in the footsteps of Satan, your acknowledged enemy. 169. He will ask you to indulge in evil, indecency, and to speak lies of God you cannot even conceive. 170. When it is said to them: “Follow what God has revealed,” they reply: “No, we shall follow only what our fathers had practiced,” – even though their fathers had no wisdom or guidance! 171. The semblance of the infidels is that of a man who shouts to one that cannot hear more than a call and a cry. They are deaf, dumb and blund, and they fail to understand. 172. O believers, eat what is good of the food We have given you, and be grateful to God if indeed you are obedient to Him. 173. Forbidden to you are carrion and blood, and the flesh of the swine, and that which has been consecrated (or killed) in the name of any other than God. If one is obliged by necessity to eat it without intending to transgress, or reverting to it, he is not guilty of sin; for God is forgiving and kind. 174. Those who conceal any part of the Scriptures that God has revealed, and thus make a little profit thereby, take nothing but fire as food; and God will not turn to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor nourish them for growth; and their doom will be painful. 175. They are those who bartered away good guidance for error, and pardon for punishment: How great is their striving for the Fire! 176. That is because God has revealed the Book containing the truth; but those who are at variance about it have gone astray in their contrariness.

Mr. Hankey Saves Kyle and Christmas in the First South Park Christmas Episode, 110, “Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo”

It’s the first South Park Christmas episode ever. And you know what that means! It’s time to meet Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, the latest and greatest Holiday Season icon who’s there for everyone, no matter what s/he celebrates. As long as you have a high fiber diet then Mr. Hankey will be coming to your town.

Of course, as South Park’s Christmas falls apart do to an overemphasis on the separation between church and state and a misguided attempt not to offend anyone with any kind of decoration or festivity, the Broflovskis are not amused at Kyle’s suggestion to the mayor that Mr. Hankey become the new Christmas icon.

In fact, Kyle finds himself in increasing levels of trouble (and then the nut house) when Mr. Hankey comes around and makes a mess in the bathroom and later launches himself at Cartman after he sings about what a bitch Kyle’s mom is. Dubbed a fecopheliac, Kyle is locked away by his friends. Backstage at the disastrous elementary school play, however, Chef asks about Kyle’s whereabouts and upon learning what happened, tells the children that Mr. Hankey is real.

That’s when Mr. Hankey can finally be seen by everyone else and he saves the day on Christmas by telling the town:

“You people focus so hard on the things wrong with Christmas that you’ve forgotten what’s so right about it. Don’t you see? This is the one time of year we’re s’posed to forget all the bad stuff, to stop worrying and being sad about the state of the world, and for just one day say, ‘Aw, the heck with it! Let’s sing and dance and bake cookies.’”

Then the whole town goes out to the nut house and rescues Kyle; they all sing Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo’s special song. And miraculously enough, Kenny doesn’t die!

What do you think of this episode? What was your favorite part?

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Ike Broflovski is Taken to Saddam Hussein’s Canada in South Park Episode 715, “Christmas in Canada”

When Ike Broflovski’s birth-parents interrupt quiet, family Hanukah prayers and insist on taking Ike back to Canada by decree of the new Canadian Prime Minister, Sheila and Gerald Broflovski are devastated. Cartman tells Kyle that this is what he gets for being Jewish at Christmas time: some Jesus revenge. In a show of unprecedented good faith, the South Park townsfolk offer to forgo Christmas gift-giving and donate all of their money to the Broflovskis for legal fees to take their case to Canada.

Rather than lose Christmas, the boys decide to help Kyle go to Canada and confront the Canadian Prime Minister about taking Ike. The whole time they want to hurry back to South Park, though, so that they are sure not to miss out on any Christmas adventures. Funny, since they are traversing Canada by foot after their plane crashed and confronting all sorts of weird and wacky characters Wizard of Oz style (with Scott, the dickhead Canadian as the Wicked Witch).

As their plane is crashing (it’s piloted by the same guy who owns City Wok and is called City [Shitty] Airlines), the pilot tells them: “As you can see it appears that we are going down. Now would be a good time to reflect on your life and pray to whatever deity you believe in.”

At the end of the episode, Kyle speaks about the importance of family and who we love and explains to the Canadian Prime Minister – who turns out to be the escaped Saddam Hussein! – that, “Family isn’t about whose blood you have in you. Family’s about the people who cared about you and took care of you. We’re not the same blood, but I love my little brother. We’ve taken care of him because he needed us to, and that makes us more family than anything.”

Very touching and a lovely Christmas episode.

What do you think? What was your favorite part?

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South Park Sings, Dances, Offends and Celebrates in Episode 315, “Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics”

This is a ridiculously silly episode and not a conventional one by any means. When I first started watching it, I expected to be bored, and I was pretty annoyed that Trey Parker and Matt Stone thought that they could get away with giving me some bs songs instead of a real Christmas episode. As it turns out, these had to be a lot harder to compose and produce than a regular episode and they were really funny, at that.

The episode is set up like a pitch for a Christmas album by Mr. Hankey, and he share his ten favorite Christmas songs with us, each of varying length but all sung by South Park characters in hilarious and new ways.

Cartman’s rendition of Silent Night that celebrates Jesus’ birth and lets him get presents is quite good. My personal favorites are the Hanukah song that opens everything up (a new take on the Dreidel song) and Mr. Garrison’s around the world explanation of how most people fail to celebrate Christmas adequately. He visits all kinds of eastern religions and countries and pretty much behaves like a bigoted, American asshole. Shocking!

A very amusing episode overall.

What did you think? Which was your favorite song?

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Satanic Forest Creatures Try To Bring the AntiChrist in South Park Episode 814, “Woodland Critter Christmas”

If anyone recalls this episode, he or she will surely agree that it is a disturbing one. The whole thing is told in rhyming couplets after the fashion of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Stan functions as the main character.

Walking through the forest, he stumbles across some woodland critters, each of whom seems goofy and innocent, and who collectively implore him to help save their Christmas by murdering the Mountain Lion that continues to kill the porcupine’s baby year after year. Unaware of what he is doing, Stan does so, but as it turns out – what!? there’s a twist!? – the Mountain Lion was the protector of the world and preventing the Spawn of Satan (aka the antiChrist) from being born. That’s right: Satan was doing the porcupine and the baby was going to be the antiChrist. How exciting!

When Stan then tries to stop this hellaciousness, the woodland critters, possessed demons that they are, use their satanic powers to stop him. They even kill other creatures and then have sex in their blood. “Blood Orgy!!” It is sick and twisted, and what we learn when Kyle later agrees to be the host of the antiChrist so that the Jews can finally have their revenge on Christmas, is that the entire story is made up and being told by Cartman as another way to rip on Kyle at Christmas for being Jewish.

As we learn during the Imaginationland episodes when the most f-ed up thing to come from the evil side of Imaginationland is the Woodland Christmas Critters, we sure wouldn’t want to meet the kid that thought those things up!

What do you think of this episode? What was your favorite part?

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