Silly Motivational Posters about Deception, Tanks and Teamwork

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Jimmy and Timmy Join the Crips When Christopher Reeve Starts Sucking Stem Cells in “Krazy Kripples,” South Park Episode 702

When Christopher Reeve, the crippled actor who played Superman in the original movies, comes to town, he steals Jimmy’s spotlight, and puts out this boy who’s been crippled from birth – and proud of it. Christopher Reeve, Jimmy notes, became crippled later in life. Christopher Reeve has decided to speak out about the importance of stem-cells, and in order to prove their value, he demonstrates how sucking on a dead fetus restores some of his strength.

Why is this a hilarious comment on the stem-cell debate? Because opposers of stem-cell research like to promote the notion that something akin to cracking open the spines of dead baby fetuses and drinking their fluid is what’s being proposed when scientists want to experiment with stem-cell research. South Park, as usual, has taken this ignorant vision to the extreme.

Jimmy is appaled that a non-born that way cripple would try to uncripple himself and at the same time hog Jimmy’s spotlight. He decides to form a club of crippled people from birth to isolate Christopher Reeve, but actually discovers that such a club already exists: they’re called the Crips, and they can be found in Denver. And from their on the hilarity never stops as Jimmy takes Timmy and the two friends go to join this gang.

By the end, it’s Jimmy and Timmy who learn that hating others because they’re a different kind of cripple isn’t right, and so they rectify the fued between the Crips and the Bloods by explaining this lesson. How touching.

What did you think about this episode? What was your favorite part?

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Zen Talk: Removing the Concept of the Absolute

“Natural and super-natural, temporal and eternal – continuums, not absolutes.”
– Albert Schweitzer (paraphrased)

My mind found this quote incredibly jarring. It seems to me that Albert has picked things that are quite opposite and quite distinct from one another. There does not seem to be, in my mind at least, but I’d venture in the minds of others either, anything in between these extremes.

Yet it is the very notion of extremes which these words attempt to shatter.

Rather than be extremes with nothing in between, we are being told that these notions have vast continuum of possibilities between them. Though I cannot imagine what particulars those might be I do find it to be a mental exercise even to attempt to imagine such a continuum. It’s literally the creation of space and ideas within my mental schema. And it’s those mental schema that Zen wants me to break in order to understand what else the universe has to offer.

Hmm, quite an exercise.

Can you help us better understand the middle ground between the so-called absolutes? What other absolutes are not really so but have a continuum? All of them? Specifics please!

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Kyle, as Jesus, Preaches Faith in the Economy and Saves South Park in “Margaritaville,” Episode 1303

We haven’t stopped hearing about the economy ever since it, well, started crapping all over our heads. But for some reason, I’ve only seen two intelligent pieces on the economy. The first was from Jon Stewart on The Daily Show and comes from his extended debate with Jim Cramer (of Fast Money). Indeed, Stewart had Cramer admitting that he had to change the terrible way he’d been treating the public through his ridiculous show. The second is this episode of South Park.

As the economy begins crashing all around us, everyone angrily points fingers at everyone else. The only person people start listening to, however, is Randy Marsh. He preaches an end to spending and a return to constant savings and old ways (sheets for clothes, llamas for transportation, squirrels for toys, etc.). The whole town follows his advice and nobody gets anything at all.

When Cartman blames the Jews for the problems of the economy, Kyle denies his baseless accusations and rebels against this no-spending spree that has overtaken South Park. He becomes a renegade Jew, or as it were, the Jesus of the economy. The economy only exists because we have faith in it, he tells people. It’s not some powerful and vengeful, angry god. This position is much akin to that uttered by the Wise One in episode 1004. Fascinating that this would be the position taken by the Jesus figure of the episode, causing us once again to recognize that South Park‘s thought on the existence of God, inferentially, is that God is most powerful as a human idea rather than an actual divine being.

Randy and his ruling council decide to stop Kyle and his blasphemous preaching and do so with the aid of Cartman (who is Judas in this biblical reenactment). The theological jokes abound, especially when someone on Randy’s council proposes that Kyle could be the only son of the economy. Father Maxi insists that this idea is totally retarded since any omnipotent being could have more than one son. Hmm…

At a Last Supper of pizza with his friend, Kyle vows to do something he always knew he’d have to do in order to restore people’s faith in the economy: he pays off everyone’s debt on his no limit platinum American Express, ultimately sacrificing himself (i.e. his economic future) for the sake of humanity and the economy.

All the while, we’re learning what’s actually going on in the economy as Stan runs from person to person trying to return a Margaritaville blender. Everybody keeps sending him to the institition above that’s now responsible for his return. Eventually he winds up at the Department of the Treasury and learns that the government makes its decisions in a totally random fashion: by sacrificing, as it were, chickens, and then letting them run around with their heads cut off until they land on some point of a grid that determines what action the government should take.

As a blog about South Park and religion, you can imagine that this was an episode that had me squirming with delight the entire time. For me, this will go down as one of the classics.

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Around the World Pic: Disturbing Parthenon Statues at the British Museum in London

centaur-in-bm

Most of what could be taken off of the Parthenon in Greece was taken off of the Parthenon in Greece by the British. Now it can be seen in the British Museum. This is one such piece, if I recall approximately a meter squared. It depicts a centaur carrying off a captured woman who he obviously intends on raping.

The depiction itself is far less grotesque than the reality it recalls, in which women were carried off as spoils of war – the stronger the man the more women he has and the more progeny he begets.

Apparently 1/6th of men in the Asian steppes and the surrounding areas are descended from Genghis Khan, who sired a crapload of children as he conquered and raped and pillaged.

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Quran Read-A-Long: The Cow 254-257 Speaks of Monotheism and the Invalidity of Forced Conversion

From Polytheism to Monotheism

An important element of the Quran’s continual affirmation of God being the only deity (verse 255) lies in the need to do away with the other deities worshiped by the Arabs in the Hijaz in Mohammed’s day. Not that affirming God being the only deity isn’t important anyway, because it is, but at the same time, it reinforces the notion that the other shrines in the Hijaz dedicated to other deities (daughters of God?) were illegitimate.

I find this interesting because the move from Arab tribalism to Islam was a move from accepted polytheism to strict monotheism with no monism in the middle. That’s a difficult transformation, and considering the time it took monotheism to root fully in Arabia I think it’s nothing short of astounding.

Consider the ancient Israelites. They weren’t monotheistic. They were monostic. That is, they believed in their god, Yahweh (God/Allah) but not to the exclusion of other gods. They worshiped him (well, at least for the short period that they were behaving) to the exclusion of other gods, but in the world of the ancient Israelites other gods existed – theirs was just superior and the only one worth believing in. This is particularly evident in the Ten Commandments which order the Israelites to worship no other gods before Yahweh.

On the contrary, Mohammed didn’t say, “You can’t worship the other gods.” He said, “Those aren’t other gods,” which was a rather dangerous thing to say, and ultimately, sent him out of Mecca for the safety of his life. And yet despite this, very quickly, Islam spread throughout Arabia and the Middle East and polytheism became monotheism with no extended period of monism in between. Truly incredible!

No Coercion

Verse 256 is terribly important for its invalidation of the notion of “conversion by the sword,” something that even Asad points out in his note, and an idea that runs wildly through western minds.

Would I say that Muslims have at some point in history converted people at the edge of the sword? Certainly, but those were rare instances, and not recognized in Islam as acceptable behavior or valid conversions. Are we really to believe that the entire Middle East and North Africa converted at the edge of a sword, became Muslims and then didn’t ever read this verse to realize that their conversion was illegitimate. I’m doubtful.

In addition, Christians are historically far greater perpetrators of forcible conversion, yet it is conservative Christianity which continues to spread this unreasonable and unjustified message. One instance of Christian forced conversion that comes to mind is the mass forced conversions of Jews that took place throughout 14th century Christian Spain. That’s why when Islam came knocking at the door in places that Jews lived during the 7th and 8th centuries (Spain being notably one of them), Jews welcomed the Muslims as liberators and helped them overthrow many cities from Christian rule. Indeed, when Muslims moved through Spain during the 8th century, they often left Jews in charge while the army marched forward, knowing that the Jews were far happier with them in power.

So, conversion by the sword – what narrow-minded rhetoric continually believed and spewed by westerners after centuries of Islamophobic behavior. Let’s stop spreading this nonsense and make an effort to understand Islam, an incredibly important world religion, better.

Please feel free to add anything that I neglected to discuss from these verses, and share your thoughts on them with us.

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The Cow 254-257

254. O YOU who have attained to faith! Spend [in Our way] out of what We have granted you as sustenance ere there come a Day when there will be no bargaining, and no friendship, and no intercession. And they who deny the truth -it is they who are evildoers! 255. GOD – there is no deity save Him, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsistent Fount of All Being. Neither slumber overtakes Him, nor sleep. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. Who is there that could intercede with Him, unless it be by His leave? He knows all that lies open before men and all that is hidden from them, whereas they cannot attain to aught of His knowledge save that which He wills [them to attain]. His eternal power overspreads the heavens and the earth, and their upholding wearies Him not. And He alone is truly exalted, tremendous. 256. THERE SHALL BE no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from [the way of] error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing. 257. God is near unto those who have faith, taking them out of deep darkness into the light – whereas near unto those who are bent on denying the truth are the powers of evil that take them out of the light into darkness deep: it is they who are destined for the fire, therein to abide.

The School Children All Get Lice in South Park Episode 1103, “Lice Capades”

This is a bizarre episode, that’s for sure. The premise is that Clyde gets lice, but the majority of the story is told from the perspective of a particular lice living on his head – and the hell Clyde’s poison shampoo wreaks on his family and life.

The South Park children get very uppity when they learn that one of their own has lice, but as it turns, Clyde isn’t the only one bringing this vermin around South Park Elementary.

One particularly noteworthy moment is when the lice refers to God’s plan, as if he is somehow part of it. Kind of throws our own obsession with being part of God’s plan into sharp relief.

What did you think of this episode? Favorite part?

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