Around the World Pic: Gypsy Children at a Romanian Train Station

gypsy-girls-with-our-bracelets

As we awaited our train to Bucharest in the Brasov train station some gypsy girls came up asking us for money. We said no so they started pointing to things that we had and asking us for those instead. As it happens, Nance had some plastic bracelets and so he gave those to them which made them very excited. And so we took their picture.

As one of our traveling companions was smoking cigarettes at the time, we also ended up giving them some of those, which they immediately proceeded to try to sell to everyone else on the train platform.

Good times.

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

Read about and see more Around the World Pic posts.

Advertisements

Quran Read-A-Long: The Cow 232-235 Speaks of Child Support and Waiting After Divorce

Note

I would like to begin by noting that the translation provided below is that of Asad, who is often quoted by some of Quran Read-A-Long’s finest participants. I figure I should switch to his translation and see if that helps facilitate my understanding a little. I think that my copy of the Quran is very nice, but let’s mix it up a bit.

Child Support

Verse 233 seems to support precisely the modern notion of child-support. Not only is the woman allowed to continue to nurse her child for two years regardless of having divorced the child’s father (I’m guessing that the implication here is that the child belongs to the father, not the mother, when the parents part ways and so the woman has to be allowed to see the child), but the father must be able to provide for all the children he sires.

Today we try to hold fathers accountable for their children, but it can be hard to do so due to lack of funds for paternity tests or even being able to find those fathers. By making it part of the Quran, this obvious social necessity becomes linked to God, final judgment and the afterlife, thereby providing in most cases the necessary incentive for becoming responsible for one’s children. We’ve seen this already – making a necessary social action part of a holy text from God means that it is more likely to be obeyed.

Post-Marriage Behavior

Verse 234 releases the woman from her husband after an appropriate period of time, and I imagine this is referring to a sexual situation. Not intercourse, per se, but based on an earlier verse the waiting period between her divorce and being with another man seemed to be very practical – enough time to make sure she wasn’t pregnant with the original husband’s child. Are there other reasons for this particular period? So after this proper waiting time the woman can do what she wants pending that it’s legal. Does that include sexual intercourse? What is Islam’s policy on premarital sex when you’ve already been married once? What if you had divorced the man do to sexual disatisfaction? Wouldn’t it be prudent to investigate that situation a little more thoroughly before diving into another marriage? I imagine that what would be legal is discussions about marriage with another man. Is flirting acceptable? What about kissing (for each of these things I mean after the prescribed period)?

Interesting that this leads into a talk of what a man can do in this situation: appropriately insinuate his interest in a woman (if it’s long-term and marriage guided), but not anything blatant because that would be a violation of the period post-divorce. However, God knows what you intend. The interjection of God is appropriate here (not that it would be inappropriate anywhere in the Quran or in life!) but particularly because the verses are telling us to behave properly while being the appropriate judges of what is proprietous behavior. We can do that, the Quran tells us, so long as we keep God in mind as we act. Certainly, that is a rule of thumb for all behavior. Keep God in mind as you make decisions and choices and you should make the right ones. God knows what you’re thinking and will be merciful and forgiving.

Thanks for reading along! Can you answer any of my questions? Correct anything I said erroneously or just add anything helpful for me and other readers?

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

Read More Quran Read-A-Long.

The Cow 232-235

232. And when you divorce women, and they have come to the end of their waiting-term, hinder them not from marrying other men if they have agreed with each other in a fair manner. This is an admonition unto every one of you who believes in God and the Last Day; it is the most virtuous [way] for you, and the cleanest. And God knows, whereas you do not know. 233. And the [divorced] mothers may nurse their children for two whole years, if they wish to complete the period of nursing; and it is incumbent upon him who has begotten the child to provide in a fair manner for their sustenance and clothing. No human being shall be burdened with more than he is well able to bear: neither shall a mother be made to suffer because of her child, nor, because of his child, he who has begotten it. And the same duty rests upon the [father’s] heir. And if both [parents] decide, by mutual consent and counsel, upon separation [of mother and child], they will incur no sin [thereby]; and if you decide to entrust your children to foster-mothers, you will incur no sin provided you ensure, in a fair manner, the safety of the child which you are handing over. But remain conscious of God, and know that God sees all that you do. 234 And if any of you die and leave wives behind, they shall undergo, without remarrying,* a waiting period of four months and ten days; whereupon, when they have reached the end of their waiting-term, there shall be no sin in whatever they may do with their persons in a lawful manner. And God is aware of all that you do. 235 But you will incur no sin if you give a hint of [an intended] marriage-offer to [any of] these women, or if you conceive such an intention without making it obvious: [for] God knows that you intend to ask them in marriage.* Do not, however, plight your troth with them in secret, but speak only in a decent manner; and do not proceed with tying the marriage-knot ere the ordained [term of waiting] has come to its end. And know that God knows what is in your minds, and therefore remain conscious of Him; and know, too, that God is much-forgiving, forbearing.

In “Proper Condom Use,” (507) South Park Has Mr. Garrison and Mr. Mackey Teaching Sex-Ed

In this episode Mr. Mackey teaches sex ed to the boys and Ms. Choksondick teaches it to the girls. Mr. Garrison, because it’s believed that younger and younger children should learn about proper condom use, teaches sexual education and proper condom use to the kindergartners. Basically, it’s a huge mess because none of these people should be talking about sex with children. Unfortunately the parents were too chicken to do it themselves. At the end of an episode that has seen total chaos and all out war between the sexes (terrified of pregnancy and disease), Chef says the following:

Well I hate to say it but you all got what you deserved. Look, schools are teaching condom use to younger and younger students each day, but sex isn’t something that should be taught in textbooks and diagrams. Sex is emotional and spiritual – it needs to be taught by family. I know it can be hard parents but if you leave it up to the schools to teach sex to kids you don’t know who they’re learning it from. It could be someone who doesn’t know, someone who has a bad opinion of it or even a complete pervert.”

After everyone agrees the boys ask Chef when the right time to start having sex is. He answers, 17. It’s as simple as that: 17. Good advice, I think.

Though I don’t think sex ed in schools is such a terrible thing and talking to parents about sex can be very awkward, I certainly support the importance of having an open dialogue between parents and their children about sex. It is difficult to know when the time is right to have the talk but starting to be honest at a young age – when they see sexual advertisements and images of sexual things in pop-culture around them – can be fine if you start simple. You need not describe the anatomical specifics of the Lotus position, but just share a little so that by the time the questions come and the big issues need to be discussed, there’s a foundation of openness and understanding.

Did you like this episode? Have you had to talk to your children about sex? Awkward? How did you do it?

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

Read about other South Park episodes.

Stained Glass Church Window Inadvertantly Suggestive…of Child Molestation!

Maybe it's time to get a new design?

Maybe it's time to get a new design?

It is my firm belief that this design is not recent. Either that or it was commissioned by a huge idiot and done by someone with a wonderful sense of humor.

In any case, considering the nature of this blog and the numerous times we’ve discussed the issue of Catholic clergy molesting boys, I figured that I would go ahead and share this image with you.

If you’d like to read about the Pope’s Mixed Signal speech in Australia, click HERE, and if you’d like to read about episode 608, “Red Hot Catholic Love,” click HERE (this one includes a picture of me at the Vatican…with my pants on).

To show how these things can sometimes be funny accidents I’ve included this very real sign that a business probably didn’t get until the sign was printed and hung:

Whoops!

Whoops!

Do you have anything funny like this to share?

Cartman Takes to the Pulpit in “Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?”

I’m not sure if Comedy Central is just trying to delight me and my senses these days or if it’s just a coincidence that great religious episode after great religious episode seems to be on. Actually, it reminds me of how many episodes in which South Park focuses on religion. And tonight’s episode is 410, “Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?”

The show begins with Father Maxi preaching fiery brimstone and damnation to his congregation after catching the boys behaving poorly in church. By scaring them into going to Sunday School where they can prepare for their first communion by taking their first confession, Father Maxi ends up filling the boys with all sorts of theological diatribe that they can’t seem to shake.

Concerned by what they’ve heard, Cartman, Stan, Kenny and the other boys try to save their friends who might otherwise be destined for Hell – Timmy, for instance, who can’t say more than his own name, much less confess. Oh, and obviously Kyle. Father Maxi’s ill intentions are best demonstrated when he quotes the Bible to tell Kyle he’s going to Hell but actually quotes from a passage that doesn’t mention anything about the Jews. It is also clear that all he cares about is greater church attendance.

Realizing that it is the Bible from which both the priest and the church’s sister, Sister Anne, draw their authority when making their bold assertions about going to Hell, the boys begin to fear the power of this book. That is, until Father Maxi is caught having sex in the confessional booths and ousted by the children, only to have Cartman take up the pulpit in his place, determined to save the souls of all of South Park’s children. You can’t miss the conclusion of this two-part episode, “Probably,” tomorrow night.

The reason I love this episode is multi-fold, but two issues in particular are its treatment of theology and the Bible. The Bible is used as a source of authority – almost the source of authority – and it’s only by getting a hold of it that Cartman’s power can actually take shape. We see him mimic the terrible lessons he’s learned from his Church: how to wield undeserved and unjust authority through threats and coercion.

Second is the use of theology. When the boys are taught theology as children, they are simply confused. Communion is illogical to them because the notion that crackers and wine really become Jesus’ body suggests that Jesus was made of crackers and wine. They approach these issues like children: skeptical and curious. Why? Why? Why? they ask. In typical dogmatic fashion, they are told, because the Bible says so, because that’s the way it is, and stop bothering me or you’re going to Hell.

And then there’s so much more.

To read up on tonight’s other episode, “Fantastic Easter Special,”  click HERE. Click HERE to read about other South Park episodes.

Need professional editing services at great prices for papers, essays and more? Click HERE for killer deals and Fall Semester Savings!

19 Ways to Enjoy Life a Little More

I thought I’d change it up a bit today and share something with you that made me laugh. My favorite was definitely number 7 and any of you who knows the spirit of this blog will understand why. Here’s a list of 19 things that might help you enjoy life a bit more. Sure, they’re not all great, but the execution of one or two could be pretty special.

1. At Lunch Time, Sit in Your Parked Car with Sunglasses on and point a Hair Dryer at Passing Cars. See If They Slow Down.

2. Page Yourself Over The Intercom. Don’t Disguise Your Voice.

3. Every Time Someone Asks You To Do Something, Ask If They Want Fries with that.

4. Put Your Garbage Can On Your Desk And Label It ‘In.’

5. Put Decaf In The Coffee Maker For 3 Weeks. Once everyone has gotten over Their Caffeine Addictions, Switch to Espresso.

6. In The Memo Field Of All Your Checks, Write ‘For Smuggling Diamonds’.

7. Finish All Your sentences with ‘In Accordance With the Prophecy.’

8. Don t use any punctuation.

9. As Often As Possible, Skip Rather Than Walk.

10. Order a Diet Water whenever you go out to eat…use a serious face.

11. Specify That Your Drive-through Order Is ‘To Go.’

12. Sing Along At The Opera.

13. Go To A Poetry Recital And Ask Why The Poems Don’t Rhyme.

14. Put Mosquito Netting around Your Work Area And Play tropical Sounds All Day.

15. Five Days In Advance, Tell Your Friends You Can’t Attend Their Party Because You’re not in the Mood.

16. Have Your Coworkers Address You by Your Wrestling Name, Rock Bottom.

17. When The Money Comes Out of The ATM, Scream ‘I Won!, I Won!’

18. When Leaving The Zoo, Start Running Towards The Parking lot, Yelling, ‘Run For Your Lives, They’re Loose!!’

19. Tell Your Children Over Dinner. ‘Due To The Economy, We Are Going To Have To Let One Of You Go.’

Which one’s your favorite? Do you have any you’d like to add to the list?