Funny Motivational Posters about a Cool Dog, Easter and Horniness

Quran Read-Along: Is Al’-Imran 181-189 Talking About the Jews?

Slay Them Prophets

Whenever I see talk of slaying prophets, I immediately think of the accusations leveled against the ancient Israelites and assume that we must be talking about them. This would also fit, in parts of the Bible, with, “God is poor while we are rich.” For instance, during the Conquest of Cana’an that happens in the book of Joshua (and only in the book of Joshua I might add as the rest of the Bible and history itself make it rather clear that none of this really occurred, but it was only a story to demonstrate a few lessons), the people take some of the riches that were meant to belong to God. There’s no prophet slaying, though (beyond disobedience of Joshua), and this seems a rather literal interpretation of the fact.

The history of the First Temple during the reign of the Kings of Judah (pre-Josiah) might also call attention to this, as this was the period during which the people (priests) grew wealthy, ignored God, and killed his prophets (supposedly). But again, this seems quite literal, when in fact I detect a spiritual element to this idea: the presumption that we know what God doesn’t and are rich in life (and spirit), and that we ignore the prophets who are sent to him (i.e. slaying prophets is perhaps less literal and more along the lines of ignoring them, like say, what the Jews of Medina are doing to Mohammed).

Can We Start the Sacrifices Again, or What?

As we move into verses 183 and 184 my suspicions feel both confirmed and belied.

That is, the Jews would want their apostles (or prophets) to come to them with news related to burnt offerings – that is, the reinstatement of sacrifice and presumably news of all this happening at the Temple in Jerusalem (that implies fresh autonomy and perhaps the arrival of the messiah).

The rabbis say that prophecy ended with Alexander the Great (c.332 BCE in Jerusalem) because with him came Hellenization, a process that the rabbis considered antithetical to their own tradition and culture. Thus, prophecy was long considered over (nearly 1000 years over) by the time of Mohammed (this disregards the fact that the book of Daniel was written in the 160s BCE because it was believed to be from the early 6th C. BCE) and therefore Jews would have been most disinclined to believe Mohammed unless, presumably, he told them what they wanted to hear: that the future held sacrifices and a reinstatement of their tradition. The Quran seems to be saying that even back in the day when prophets said what Jews claimed they wanted to hear, you killed them.

Spread a Little Revelation

By verse 187 it sounds as though we’re talking about the notion of chosenness. That is to say that the messages of revelation were meant to be shared and spread around the world but instead they were turned inward and used for trifling gain – to make the Jews special for themselves (this is my guess). Christianity was doing the opposite (as an early proselytizing religion) so this seems to be a reference to only the Jews (unless I’m totally missing someone else here). I’m not sure where the line to ‘make it known to mankind’ comes from though. Where was this said?

As basic advice (toned down a smidge-a-roo), I like this: “Think not that those who exult in what they have thus contrived, and who love to be praised for what they have not done – think not that they will escape suffering: for grievous suffering does await them [in the life to come]” When I say toned down, I mean, it doesn’t have to be about grievous suffering for it to tell us that we don’t have to love pretentious people, what Holden Cofield might call phonies. Don’t pay them any mind, it seems to say (without the suffering part…).

Please feel free to comment and critique!

Al’-Imran 181-189

181. God has indeed heard the saying of those who said, “Behold, God is poor while we are rich!”  We shall record what they have said, as well as their slaying of prophets against all right, and We shall say [unto them on Judgment Day]: “Taste suffering through fire 182. in return for what your own hands have wrought – for never does God do the least wrong to His creatures!” 183.  As for those who maintain, “Behold, God has bidden us not to believe in any apostle unless he comes unto us with burnt offerings”  – say [unto them, O Prophet]: “Even before me there came unto you apostles with all evidence of the truth, and with that whereof you speak: why, then, did you slay them, if what you say is true?” 184. And if they give thee the lie – even so, before thy time, have [other] apostles been given the lie when they came with all evidence of the truth, and with books of divine wisdom, and with light-giving revelation. 185. Every human being is bound to taste death: but only on the Day of Resurrection will you be requited in full [for whatever you have done] – whereupon he that shall be drawn away from the fire and brought into paradise will indeed have gained a triumph: for the life of this world is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion. 186. You shall most certainly be tried in your possessions and in your persons; and indeed you shall hear many hurtful things from those to whom revelation was granted before your time, as well as from those who have come to ascribe divinity to other beings beside God. But if you remain patient in adversity and conscious of Him – this, behold, is something to set one’s heart upon. 187. AND LO, God accepted a solemn pledge from those who were granted earlier revelation [when He bade them]: “Make it known unto mankind, and do not conceal it!” But they cast this [pledge] behind their backs, and bartered it away for a trifling gain: and how evil was their bargain! 188. Think not that those who exult in what they have thus contrived, and who love to be praised for what they have not done – think not that they will escape suffering: for grievous suffering does await them [in the life to come]. 189. AND UNTO GOD belongs the dominion over the heavens and the earth: and God has the power to will anything.

Silly Motivational Posters about Bottled Water, an Anteater and an Awesome Cat

Quran Read-A-Long: Al’-Imran 156-180 is the Return of Our Exploration of the Quran Together

156.  People are told not to presume that bad things would not have happened had others believed as they did, because believing as, say, a Muslim would doesn’t preclude bad things from happening, this verse explains. God decides what bad things happen and we must rest assured that whatever is happening is by God’s will and therefore as it should be (in the case of death, at least, if not everything else . . . ).

157. This verse seems to condone martyrdom by saying that dying in God’s cause results in something better than all the good of this world. Verses 169-172 convey a similar message: death in the name of God when doing for God what is right is not death. It is everlasting life – a key theme.

159. This verse pertains to the disaster at Uhud when the prophet was forgiving rather than retributive and that resulted in the retention of his community rather than their abandonment of his cause.

161. It’s curious that the Quran says that a prophet can’t deceive because he’ll be faced with his deceptions come the Day of Resurrection only because there are false prophets. Now, presuming that a person is a real prophet, he’s not lying. And that’s that. However, if there’s a fake prophet and people believe him then he could be lying. Sure, he’ll face that on judgment day and be punished, but if he’s dissimulating and doesn’t care and people believe him then knowing that he’s going to pay for it later doesn’t help us avoid the problem now – it just let’s us know that if we walk around believing everybody who claims to be a prophet then we can be content in the knowledge that the liars will be sorted out when the time comes. Again, though, I don’t find that be particularly reassuring (nor do I mean to suggest that we should believe everyone in the hopes of being in good shape because we were only trying to follow God – my point is, this presents us with difficulties).

Verse 164 and those that precede it don’t seem to be referring to Muslims. Sure, God did raise up an apostle for the Muslims, but not in the midst of the believers because there were no believers (at least not in the right thing) in Mohammed’s day. That was part of the problem. Does this refer to Jesus as we are in the surah about the House of Imran? Does it refer to someone else (or multiple people) in the past?

You know what? On a second (or third/fourth) read it does seem as though verse 164 is referring to Mohammed as the prophet – an “apostle from among themselves” is part of the importance of Mohammed. An Arab prophet and an Arabic revelation. The believers could be those who would believe once given the truth, those who no longer wished to be lost in error.

As I hear verses 177-178 in English I can only imagine what they sound like in Arabic. That is not to say that they sound particularly good in English, but I can see through the translation (a bit) to the poetry of the words themselves. The rhythms of the repetitions of words and phrases and so much more must be beautiful when chanted properly in the original.

179. The idea of “that which is beyond the reach of human perception” is a fascinating one to me right now. I’ve been reading a book about the way people have understood God over the last 4000 years (Karen Armstrong’s A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and one of the primary motifs is the idea of God as unknowable. That may seem quite obvious but the different ways that the three monotheistic faiths have embraced that notion, and the overlap among them, is quite fascinating, especially as it comes to the essential lack of knowledge that some have come to in regards to God. That is, reason and logic only get us so far and there is only so much we can know about God, much of which must be expressed as what we do not know about God. Anyway, that these ideas are not merely arrived at by certain Muslims wrestling with how to understand God but that the Quran points them to the notion that there is that which that they cannot know (whether here about God specifically or not is unclear) is neat.

180. Is this verse a reference to the importance of zakkat? That is, is this about not clinging to the material things of this world and making sure that others get what they need when you have it to spare (and God knowing of those who cling to objects) or is this a reference to something else more specific? Or! as I’ve noticed the Quran is want to do, is it a reference to both, part of the constant reinforcement of central ideas amongst the specifics of the ongoing text? I love that!

Al’-Imran 156-180

156. O you who have attained to faith! Be not like those who are bent on denying the truth and say of their brethren [who die] after having set out on a journey to faraway places or gone forth to war, “Had they but remained with us, they would not have died,” or, “they would not have been slain” – for God will cause such thoughts to become a source of bitter regret in their hearts, since it is God who grants life and deals death. And God sees all that you do. 157. And if indeed you are slain or die in God’s cause, then surely forgiveness from God and His grace are better than all that one could amass [in this world]: 158. for, indeed, if you die or are slain, it will surely be unto God that you shall be gathered. 159. And it was by God’s grace that thou [O Prophet] didst deal gently with thy followers: for if thou hadst been harsh and hard of heart, they would indeed have broken away from thee. Pardon them, then, and pray that they be forgiven. And take counsel with them in all matters of public concern; then, when thou hast decided upon a course of action, place thy trust in God: for, verily, God loves those who place their trust in Him. 160. If God succours you, none can ever overcome you; but if He should forsake you, who could succour you thereafter? In God, then, let the believers place their trust! 161. AND IT IS not conceivable that a prophet should deceive – since he who deceives shall be faced with his deceit on the Day of Resurrection, when every human being shall be repaid in full for whatever he has done, and none shall be wronged. 162. Is then he who strives after God’s goodly acceptance like unto him who has earned the burden of God’s condemnation and whose goal is hell? – and how vile a journey’s end! 163. They are on [entirely] different levels in the sight of God; for God sees all that they do. 164 Indeed, God bestowed a favor upon the believers when he raised up in their midst an apostle from among themselves, to convey His messages unto them, and to cause them to grow in purity, and to impart unto them the divine writ as well as wisdom – whereas before that they were indeed, most obviously, lost in error. 165 AND DO YOU, now that a calamity has befallen you after you had inflicted twice as much [on your foes], ask yourselves, “How has this come about?” Say: “It has come from your own selves.” Verily, God has the power to will anything: 166 and all that befell you on the day when the two hosts met in battle happened by God’s leave, so that He might mark out the [true] believers, 167 and mark out those who were tainted with hypocrisy and, when they were told, “Come, fight in God’s cause” – or, “Defend yourselves” – answered, “If we but knew [that it would come to a] fight, we would indeed follow you.” Unto apostasy were they nearer on that day than unto faith, uttering with their mouths something which was not in their hearts, the while God knew fully well what they were trying to conceal: 168 they who, having themselves held back [from fighting, later] said of their [slain] brethren, “Had they but paid heed to us, they would not have been slain.” Say: “Avert, then, death from yourselves, if what you say is true!” 169 But do not think of those that have been slain in God’s cause as dead. Nay, they are alive! With their Sustainer have they their sustenance, 170 exulting in that [martyrdom] which God has bestowed upon them out of His bounty. And they rejoice in the glad tiding given to those [of their brethren] who have been left behind and have not yet joined them, that no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve: 171 they rejoice in the glad tiding of God’s blessings and bounty, and [in the promise] that God will not fail to requite the believers 172 who responded to the call of God and the Apostle after misfortune had befallen them. A magnificent requital awaits those of them who have persevered in doing good and remained conscious of God: 173 those who have been warned by other people, “Behold, a host has gathered against you; so beware of them!” – whereupon this only increased their faith, so that they answered, “God is enough for us; and how excellent a guardian is He!” 174 – and returned [from the battle] with God’s blessings and bounty, without having been touched by evil: for they had been striving after God’s goodly acceptance – and God is limitless in His great bounty. 175 It is but Satan who instils [into you] fear of his allies: so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [truly] believers! 176 And be not grieved by those who vie with one another in denying the truth: verily, they can in no wise harm God. It is God’s will that they shall have no share in the [blessings of the] life to come; and tremendous suffering awaits them. 177 Verily, they who have bought a denial of the truth at the price of faith can in no wise harm God, whereas grievous suffering awaits them. 178 And they should not think – they who are bent on denying the truth – that Our giving them rein is good for them: We give them rein only to let them grow in sinfulness; and shameful suffering awaits them. 179 It is not God’s will [O you who deny the truth] to abandon the believers to your way of life: [and] to that end He will set apart the bad from the good. And it is not God’s will to give you insight into that which is beyond the reach of human perception: but [to that end] God elects whomsoever He wills from among His apostles. Believe, then, in God and His apostles; for if you believe and are conscious of Him, a magnificent requital awaits you. 180 AND THEY should not think – they who niggardly cling to all that God has granted them out of His bounty – that this is good for them: nay, it is bad for them. That to which they [so] niggardly cling will, on the Day of Resurrection, be hung about their necks: for unto God [alone] belongs the heritage of the heavens and of the earth; and God is aware of all that you do.

Kyle Swims Through a Water Park of “Pee” in the South Park Season 13 Finale

This was the last episode of the 13th season of South Park. That makes me sad. Wednesday nights will be forever emptier because of this. Well, not forever more. They’ll be better again in a few months when South Park is back.

In this episode, the boys go to the local water park, Pi Pi’s, where Kyle opts to stay out of the water indefinitely due to its incredibly high concentration of urine. Cartman, however, is disappointed for other reasons: the water park is filled with minorities.

Black people.

Mexicans.

Chinese.

He thinks he even saw some Native Americans.

This, of course, is less stated than it is sung in a beautiful song. Trey Parker is quite the composer – always has been. Indeed, Cartman predicts that the Mayans got the year of the Apocalypse wrong and that rather then 2012, it’s actually happening in 2009, since the water park has been taken over by minorities and Cartman is the “last of his kind.”

When warned that the pee content of his water park is so high that the park is on the verge of disaster, Pi Pi does nothing – to the detriment of human kind . . . well, human kind currently in attendance at his water park. With the urination of one final little girl, the water becomes 100% pee and disaster ensues. Everything goes to hell – in Cartman’s eyes, the Mayan Apocalypse.

In order to drain the pee from the park, Kyle has to hold his breath and swim through it down to an underwater release valve, but in order to do that he must first drink pee in order to avoid the bends. Since pee grosses him out so much, this is obviously a monumental task. It’s pretty hilarious listening to the other boys be honest about all the things they do related to pee that Kyle considers unacceptable:

– pee in the shower

– pee in the pool

– not wash their hands after peeing

Gross!! I’d never not wash my hands after peeing. Yeah . . . never . . .

Obviously the moment Kyle drank the pee they were all rescued, since is was discovered that the antidote to anger caused by the overexposure to pee is bananas. And yes, the part where the monkeys got angry while getting urinated on was hilarious and disgusting.

Funny enough, I loved that Kyle hated bananas so much and had to eat one after drinking the pee. Why? My wife loves most foods but HATES bananas. She finds them revolting, particularly the smell. Sometimes to be cruel when we’re at the grocery store I’ll hold a bunch of bananas behind her head and then say her name so that she turns around and finds them there. She hates that. I’m very mature.

This wasn’t a killer episode like a few of the other poignant ones this season, but it was amusing, particularly the unbearably racist sentiments that got called out and exposed for being illogical: minorities are beginning to make up the majority. Get used to it. It’s okay and that’s where things were going. We’re all immigrants – thanks White Stripes.

An interesting aside: there was a commercial for Avatar during South Park, which is interesting because last week’s episode made fun of Avatar and showed South Park being really angry that the movie was ripping off something else (I asked what that something else was but nobody knew to tell me).

What’d you think of this episode? Did you like it? What did you think about the 13th season? Which episode was your favorite.

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Cartman Becomes the School Announcer and Rips on Wendy (like she’s Obama) in South Park Episode 1313 – and a lot of Smurfs die in an Avatar Satire

The profundity never ends on South Park – god, I f-in’ LOVE it!

The episode began with the brutal murder of the kid who does the school announcements – a murder we all hear happen over the course of five minutes on the announcements (I know that this probably undermines my opening sentence about the profundity of South Park, but I assure you that this is going somewhere). With his death there’s obviously a need to fill the spot of morning announcer, and so auditions are held. Upon beating out Casey Miller, who describes his voice as “audible chocolate,” by telling Mr. Mackey that Casey described his haircut in an unsavory fashion, Cartman becomes the new morning announcer.

On his first day as said announcer, he adds in quite a bit of impromptu commentary about the way that the school has been suffering as a result of the direction taken under its new leader, Wendy Testeberger. From here forward it’s quite clear that everything Cartman is saying about Wendy is meant to echo the way that some people in the news talk about the United States president, Barack Obama.

Essentially, Cartman drones on continuously about Wendy’s horrible policies and how she’s trying to turn the school into a liberal, socialist, left-wing, communist haven that wants to destroy the Smurfs. Upon writing a book and gaining an increasing amount of support, Cartman is told that he can no longer continue with these senseless ramblings or sell his book on school property. He storms out of school but does his morning announcements by video from abroad. Abroad where? The Smurf Village.

Cartman claims to have gone to live with the smurfs, to learn their ways, to pick Smurf berries and to live a Smurf life; Cartman also says that he fell in love with Smurfette. Tragically, he alleges, Wendy Testeberger came and destroyed the Smurf Village. But why, Wendy, why? In order to take all of the Smurf berries which she will use to power the school.

The allegations about Wendy (including the degree to which she’s a heinous slut) have become pretty extreme, and she’s being blamed for everything wrong at South Park Elementary. Since this is supposed to represent the way that people address Obama, I think lines like “maybe you should look into what student council actually does before you listen to an idiot with a microphone” and “just because a guy’s voice is on the intercom and his words are in a book doesn’t mean you should listen to him” are an amazing dig at the idiots out there with a platform to speak and the morons who believe every word they say.

Does that mean I support Obama and disparage his bashers? Hell no! It means that I agree that we all need to get a grip on the things we consider him responsible for and the degree to which his actions are having certain effects versus that which he has specifically put in motion.

Along the lines of Wendy destroying the Smurfs, I imagined at first that the Smurfs represented the “little people” or “small business” (that Obama is supposedly destroying), but as the episode went on it became clear that South Park is really pissed off about Avatar and the idea of somebody infiltrating a group of fakeass blue creatures by pretending to be one, gaining their trust and then going rogue on his own people who are trying to get an important supply of some power source. My question is, what did James Cameron rip off to make Avatar? I have to know! Please help me if you know the answer.

Back in the episode, Wendy agrees to go on Cartman’s show in order to get him to finally shut up (this after Butters urinates on her house in protest of her policies). Most unexpectedly, she admits to the whole destruction of the Smurfs thing, but only in order to take Cartman down with her by saying that his life amongst the Smurfs was meant to infiltrate and destroy them from the inside. Thus, Cartman is made to look like he destroyed the Smurfs. Wendy resigns from her post and hands the student body presidency over to Cartman. Obviously, the job is boring, thankless and sucky, and Cartman runs away crying after everybody hates him.

In a similar fashion, this is saying that those who bash the president and claim to know “what would definitely work” don’t know shit and couldn’t do any better of a job.

The episode also made a nice jab at Glee at the beginning by way of the rehearsals announcement (Glee‘s an awesome show, by the way).

What was your favorite part of the episode? Can you help me figure out the Avatar thing?

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In South Park Episode 1312 the Boys Launch a Campaign to Change the Word “Fag” to Mean a Loud, Douchebag, Harley Rider

By way of having a real meaning I thought this episode was the king of the season so far.

Harley Davidson bikers are driving around South Park trying to be cool and badass. They’re actually just disrupting everyone’s lovely days by making tons of noise and generally being obnoxious. They boys start calling them fags, and when the bikers don’t stop ruining everything the boys shit on their bike seats and spray paint, “Get Out Fags,” all over town.

This, of course, causes grave concern, first amongst the gay people in town (Mr. Slave and Big Gay Al) and then amongst the school administration and the local government. Everyone is shocked that Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman so freely admit that they’re guilty of being abusive towards gays, and this causes the boys to explain their behavior. They say that the loud and obnoxious bikers are fags. Not gay. Gay people are fine. It’s fags (i.e. bikers) that they hate.

It takes everyone a while to understand the differentiation between the words “fag” and “gay” but eventually a dictionary is actually broken open on the show and the evolving definition of the word is explained. Fag has referred to a variety of different hated groups throughout history, only recently gay people, but it’s meaning continues to change as those addressed by the word become irrelevant or no longer hated. That is, as a group, gay people are no longer fags.

In fact, in order to make this entire situation clear and officially make the new meaning of Fag “annoying Harley Davidson bikers,” the boys ask the keepers of the dictionary to make it a permanent definition.

So incensed are Harley Davidson bikers at the idea of being the new fags that they nearly destroy the entire town fighting about it. That, of course, only makes them faggier. By the end of the episode it is clear that those loud bike-riding douches are the world’s biggest FAGS.

I loved that this episode separated the word fag from the word gay. All too often people use gay as a negative adjective, and that’s terrible. Fag, however, is another story. That word is meant to have a negative connotation, and though it’s still a shame to draw that connotation because of its modern relationship to the word fag, it’s great that someone is making an effort to change the word to something new. Leave it to South Park to instigate social change.

Funniest line from the episode: when the boys are asked what someone who is considering getting a Harley and driving it around loudly is called, Cartman replies, “bike-curious.” Say it fast and you’ll get it. Just a nice pun on the use of fag and gay in this episode.

What’d you think of this most recent episode? What was your favorite part.

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