Archive - Mar 21, 2008

It Could Be Worse Friday

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Memo to America: I SUPPOSE IT COULD BE WORSE.

American religious extremism has been in the news a lot this week. Well, if it's leftist black religious extremism, it has. And if you combine that with all the times crazy right-wing religious extremism has been in YAD, then you can sort of achieve a kind of bare minimum parity required to set up the idea of a column looking at religious nutters who are even nuttier than the local variety, in what I'm calling SPASTIC TOPIC GOOD FRIDAY!

We start in India, where around 50 people made it impossible for me to avoid making a "blind faith" joke. Apparently, rumors spread that a religious image was appearing over the home of a resident of Kattayam, India. Hordes of people came out to stare at the sky, searching in vain for the image, until they burned their fucking retinas.

The image, by the way, wasn't Krishna, or Ganesh, or any of the iconography usually associated with the subcontinent. It was the Virgin Mary. Apparently feeling a bit capricious after years of appearing in potato chips, urine-soaked underpasses, and frying pans, Mary decided to play a little trick on rural Indian Christians and blind them. It's like a missionary version of Punk'd.


When it comes to the kind of self-abuse the Christian faith doesn't frown upon, though, you're gonna have a tough time beating the Philippines. Because the Filipinos are too busy beating themselves. Apparently not content with the traditional forms of Easter torture - crappy chocolate bunnies and an entire week of painfully proselytizing B.C. cartoons - people in the Philippines nail themselves to crosses and whip themselves.

Not metaphorically. According to the Manila Times, the national health department is warning that "in the hot and dusty atmosphere... using unhygienic whips to make deep cuts in the body could lead to tetanus and other infections." Apparently, it's left to me to point out that using hygienic whips to make deep cuts in the body could lead to DEEP CUTS IN THE BODY.

They also want to make sure that people properly sterilize the nails they DRIVE THROUGH THEIR HANDS AND FEET INTO CROSSES. You know, say what you will about atheists, but not only do we not go around re-enacting scenes from Richard Dawkins books, if we DID, we wouldn't be impaling ourselves to do it. One guy in the Philippines has crucified himself fifteen years in a row to thank God for his mother's recovery from tuberculosis. Never mind that he could have just sent a fucking FTD bouquet to the guy who discovered ethambutol and saved himself a truckload of agony.


And finally, because the Internet belongs to no country, I must mention the Church of Scientology's newly launched Scientology Video Channel. It's an attempt to counter a series of YouTube videos released by a hacker group, "Anonymous", which has decided it wants to take down the Church of Scientology.

I have to say, if there's one thing that could make the Church of Scientology seem almost sympathetic, it's a bunch of irritating fuckwads on IRC who think they're on a crusade. But the Scientologists, in a marketing move that really makes me wonder how the fuck they get and keep any followers at all, has decided to counter three Anonymous videos on YouTube with EIGHTY TWO pro-Scientology videos on their own website.

Guys. I know that you go after Hollywood types who'll make a short film at the drop of an e-meter. But 82 is a bit much. Especially the 21 different videos in the "Way to Happiness" series. Here's a sign that your religion is barking up the wrong god-forsaken tree. When you think watching 21 short videos by Scientologists on the Internet is the way to anything except a wasted evening and a splitting headache.