Funny Motivational Posters about Time, War and Lord Knows What

Silly Motivational Posters about Deception, Tanks and Teamwork

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The Boys Return a Goat to Afghanistan and Discover that “Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants,” in South Park Episode 509

This is a great episode for a lot of reasons, both relating to American diplomacy and the perceptions of the U.S. abroad as well as what it is to be an American at such times. Despite being seven years old, the episode resonates with remarkable familiarity even today. The only difference is that we haven’t caught Osama bin Laden yet.

When Ms. Choksondick tells the students to send Afghan children $1 at the behest of President Bush, they do so. A few Afghan children then send the boys a goat in return because gift-giving is an important part of their culture. Unable to keep the goat, the boys try to send it back and end up on a military plane to Afghanistan with a goat that everybody thinks is Stevie Nicks set to play at the USO show.

The boys arrive with the goat, but the local Afghan children tell them to piss off and that they hate them for being Americans. Needless to say, these eight-year old boys just don’t understand. With yet another racial epithet, Cartman explains that Jawas (sand people) have no hearts. Later, unwilling to be mistaken for Canadian, Cartman gets the boys captured and taken to Osama Bin Laden’s lair where they are held for ransom.

The Afghan boys discover this injustice and go to rescue Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman. After all, they know the difference between right and wrong and have good hearts: they know that the boys are not to blame for any aspect of this terrible war and that they must help them.Interesting how this echoes of a conversation that I recently had over on a Quran Read-A-Long day post about only oppressing those who have oppressed you and not having the right to oppress anyone else. It seems that these boys’ Muslim upbringing has instilled this excellent since of justice in them.

Cartman decides to remain behind in order to deal with Osama Bin Laden, insisting that Osama’s not crazy, he’s just an idiot. The Bugs Bunny-Elmer Fudd spoof that ensues is priceless, and at the end of the episode, after the army goes in to save Miss Nicks, the boys are rescued and Osama shot in the head.

The mockery of Osama is great. The analysis of the world’s hatred of the U.S. is profound, and my favorite line is incredible. The U.S. General shouts to the troops, after learning of Stevie Nicks’ capture: “Grab your guns and your Bibles. We’re going to get Miss Nicks back.” Suffice it to say that the joining of those two weapons – the Bible and guns – makes for a poignant moment.

What did you think? What was your favorite part?

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Zen Talk: A Buddha Quote on the Nature of Victory

“Though one defeats a million men in battle, one who overcomes the self alone is in fact the highest victor.”

What do you think of this saying by Buddha? I think it’s meaning is fairly straightforward, but how do you react to the statement?

We must conquer and understand ourselves if we hope to have the spoils worth having (enlightenment/nirvana), which are far more valuable than the glory and victory of war. Does that about sum it up?

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An Open Letter to Sarah Palin about Her Fundamentalist Christian Beliefs

Before you is a letter from someone I know and respect whose work is all about helping fundamentalist Christians who have chosen to leave their abusive and delusional religions do so in a safe and psychologically sound way. As the author of this letter has written, “Marlene Winell is a Bay Area psychologist who specializes in recovery from fundamentalist religion. She is author of Leaving the Fold:  A guide for former fundamentalists and others leaving their religion. She is the daughter of Assemblies of God missionaries. A longer article about Sarah Palin’s religion is on Dr. Winell’s website:  http://www.marlenewinell.net.”

Please feel free to leave any comments at the bottom of this letter and reproduce the letter in its entirety elsewhere on the internet (so long as you provide Dr. Winell as the author). If you would like to read an interview that I once conducted with Dr. Winell, please click HERE.

An open letter to Sarah Palin, from Marlene Winell, Ph.D.

Dear Sarah,

As a former fundamentalist, I’d like to call you on what you are doing.

This is not about disrespecting your private beliefs.  But you have a huge conflict of interest here by running for office and you can’t have it both ways (see Jesus’ words in John 2:15).

You have not been honest about the most important thing about you:  the fact that you are a born-again, literal Bible-believing, fundamentalist Christian.   Voters need to know you are not merely a “Christian” – a follower of Christ’s teachings.

Most people who have never been entrenched in the subculture of fundamentalist Christianity may not understand what this really means, but I do. Like you, I was raised in the Assemblies of God and I was a zealous part of the Jesus Movement.  Like you, my life was consumed with seeking God’s will for my life and awaiting the imminent return of Jesus.  It’s clear to me that you want to do the Lord’s will; you’ve said and done things like a true believer would. You are on a mission from God. If that is not true, then I challenge you to deny it.

Former fundamentalists like me know that your worldview is so encompassing, authoritarian, and powerful that it defines who you think you are, the way you view the world, history, other people, the future, and your place in the world.  It defines you far more than hockey mom, wife, woman, hunter, governor, or VP candidate.

You believe that every bit of the Bible is God’s perfect word.  You have a supernatural view of reality where Satan is a real entity and where good and evil beings are engaged in “spiritual warfare” (Ephesians 6:12).   Like Queen Esther, you believe that God has “called” and “anointed” you to lead America.  This is why you have accepted blessing for office through the “laying on of hands” and prayer to protect you from witchcraft.

So what does this mean for governing?  What could Americans expect with you at the helm?

You cannot affirm basic human decency or capability, because according to your dogma, we are sinful, weak, and dependant on God. And so, your decisions would not be based on expert advice or even your own reasoning, but on your gut-level, intuitive interpretation of God’s will.

This would allow you to do anything and claim you were led by God.

Your thinking necessarily is black or white.  People and policies are either good or bad.  After all, Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me” (Matt. 12:30).  Under your leadership, diplomacy and cultural nuance would be less important than not blinking.  In a spiritual war, you don’t negotiate with the devil.

Regarding social policy, as a believer in individual salvation, you would emphasize individual morality and responsibility, not a community approach with structural solutions.  You would be judgmental and controlling of personal choices regarding sex, reproduction, and library books instead of addressing global warming, torture, poverty, and war.  Your belief in eternal hell-fire, your deference to a literal Bible despite its cruelties and vengeful god, and your indoctrination to disbelieve your own compassionate instincts, are likely to leave you numb at your moral core.  You might recall the verse, “If a man will not work he shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).  However, faith-based initiatives would be okay because they would use caring to evangelize.

How about science?  As it has in your governorship, your interpretation of the Bible would trump scientific scholarship and findings.  You would deny the human role in global warming because God is in control.  More importantly, you would not make the environment a priority because you do not expect the earth to last.

International affairs?  Since your subculture has identified the establishment of Israel in 1948 as the beginning of the end, you would see war, epidemics, climate change, and natural disasters, all as hopeful signs of Jesus’ return.  You would be a staunch supporter of Israel and deeply suspicious of countries like Russia identified with the antichrist in the end times literature.  (You have publicly said that you expect Jesus to return in your lifetime and that it guides you every day.)

The Christian fundamentalism that has shaped your thinking teaches that working for peace is unbiblical and wrong because peace is not humanly possible without the return of Jesus (1 Thess. 5:2,3).  Conflict, even outright war is inevitable, for Jesus came not to bring peace but a sword (Matt: 10:34-37).  Like millions of fundamentalist Christians, you may actually find joy in global crises because these things portend His return (Luke 21:28).

But all of this certainty and fantasy in today’s complex world is dangerous, Sarah.  There was a time when all of humanity thought the world was flat.  Today, the stakes for such massive error are much higher.

So we want to know, Sarah, Warrior Princess for God —  How dare you presume to take responsibility for our country and our planet when you, in your own mind, do not consider this home?   I mean home for the long haul, not just until your rescue arrives from space.  How dare you look forward to Christ’s return, leaving your public office empty like a scene from the movie, Left Behind?

What if you are completely wrong and you wreak havoc instead with your policies?  If you deny global warming, brand people and countries “evil,” support war, and neglect global issues, you can create the apocalypse you are expecting.  And as it gets worse and worse, and you look up for redemption, you just may not see it.  What then?  In that moment, you and all who have shared your delusion may have the most horrifying realization imaginable.   And it will be too late.  Too late to avoid destruction and too late to apologize to all the people who tried to turn the tide and needed you on board.

And you, John McCain, how dare you endanger all of us for the sake of your politics?  How dare you choose a partner who is all symbol and no substance, preying on the fears of millions of Americans?   Shame on both of you.

Leave this beautiful, fragile earth to us, the unbelievers in your fantasy.  It’s the only heaven we have and you have no right to make it a hell.

Sincerely,
Marlene

Marlene Winell, Ph.D.
October 21, 2008

Press Release – October 21, 2008
Contact:  mwinell@gmail.com

If you would like to read an interview that I once conducted with Dr. Winell, please click HERE.

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Cartman Ends Atheism in the Future in “Go God Go XII” South Park Episode 1013

I LOVE this episode – it is the spectacular conclusion to episode 1012, “Go God Go II,” which aired last Wednesday and can be read about HERE. Sassy Doc and I had a great conversation following my post so check it out.

This episode is about an atheist future in which Cartman has found himself and where three atheist factions are at war over what atheists should call themselves. They have learned that it’s not enough to believe something but that you have to be a dick to everyone who doesn’t think like you.

The lesson of the episode is that not having God or religion will not necessarily result in a war-free future. What we need is to stop treating people like crap for not believing as we do and then we won’t have war. But even getting rid of all the -isms, as they call them, isn’t necessarily enough. Maybe we’ll still find things to fight about.

One of the greatest lines comes at the end of the episode, when Cartman is about to be sent back to his own time. He is told, “Tell everyone in the past for us, that no one single answer is ever the answer.” Wonderful.

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Fun with the Bible: The Lesson of the Battle of Jericho and Why the Wall Came Down

Are you familiar with the book of Joshua in the Bible? It’s the first book after the Five Books of Moses, because it’s the book named after the person who led the Israelites after Moses kicked the bucket.

Joshua and the Conquest

Well, traditionally, the story of Joshua, which is to say the book of Joshua, is known as the Conquest of Canaan because it’s the story of the Israelites marching into Canaan, conquering the entire local population and taking all of the land for themselves that God had decided to give them. On multiple occasions the text says explicitly that the Israelites conquered all of the locals. For example, Joshua 11:19 reads, “There was not a town that made peace with the Israelites…all were taken in battle.”

Curiously, however, numerous later discussions of the Israelites in the land, whether from Judges, Samuel, Kings or other books speak of other local Canaanites being in the land, an indication that the book of Joshua did not accurately reflect what happened.

Interesting as well is the fact that half of the book is consumed with the division of the land for the tribes and other such technical details and not actually the conquest of the land. Only a few battle stories occur, all of which have different reasons for existing and which collectively lay down the “way things worked.” I’d like to focus on one: Jericho.

Jericho – Silliness Equals Victory?

God tells Joshua that in order to properly concur the city of Jericho the people needed to do a bunch of things related to parading the ark for seven days around the city, blowing their trumpets at allotted times, etc. and then the wall would fall down and they could go inside and kill everybody.

This, you may say, sounds silly. Run around the city a bunch of times, play some music and CATCHA! – the city walls come crashing down. But do the Israelites do as they were commanded? Yes, they do. And what happens? The wall tumbles down and the Israelites are victorious.

What, then, is the battle of Jericho actually meant to teach us (us being the contemporary reader, whether at the time of the story’s composition or now – or theoretically the Israelites at the time)? That we should do exactly as God says and we will be victorious in battle. Repeat: exactly as He says, no matter how silly sounding or how unlikely a path to victory, and God will take care of the rest for us.

And what about the battle with the Gibeonites, when they deceive the Israelites into swearing peace on God’s name despite the fact that God wanted them dead? Well, we learn here that we must under all conditions respect oaths made in God’s name, even if those defy God’s wishes, because an oath on God’s name is more important. Curious, no? An oath before God’s wishes?

Summary

What lessons do you derive from the book of Joshua? Did you notice how few battle stories there actually were?

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