Archive for category Religion
The uncertainty of the danger belongs to the essence of terrorism.
~ Jurgen Habermas
As I write this, I am shaken, confused, scared, angry… today morning I nearly lost sensation in my legs, I stood trembling in a dark corridor for an hour and fifteen minutes hearing the macabre symphony of grenades for snares and the terrifying staccato of 39mm AK-47 rounds ricocheting on walls and floors, and whizzing through the air, and ripping through human beings whose only mistake was to be non-locals and followers of a different faith that had chosen to try their luck in Mandera. This all took place a mere fifty metres from where I was trying to catch forty winks before being awoken by the loud bang of an Improvised Explosive Device whose purpose was to blow open the gate to a compound that held over thirty souls whose lives were about to be put on a knife’s edge by extremists who have no respect for the sanctity of life. At the end of the carnage, six were dead, scores were injured, and the police and other armed forces then kept the town on edge for hours as they shot continuously into the air targeting remorseless phantoms that had already disappeared into the night with innocent blood on their hands.
Those 75 minutes were excruciatingly long and hard, they brought me face to face with myself. I contemplated the worst. I was numb. But in all this, I remembered something I had read in a book recently: confronting the reality of our own mortality is important because it obliterates all the crappy, fragile, superficial values in life. While most people whittle their days chasing another buck, or a little bit more fame and attention, or a little bit more assurance that they’re right or loved, death confronts all of us with a far more painful and important question: What is your legacy?
Allow me to share a story from this book with you.
“Ernest Becker was an academic outcast. In 1960, he got his Ph.D. in anthropology; his doctoral research compared the unlikely and unconventional practices of Zen Buddhism and psychoanalysis. At the time, Zen was seen as something for hippies and drug addicts, and Freudian psychoanalysis was considered a quack form of psychology left over from the Stone Age.
In his first job as an assistant professor, Becker quickly fell into a crowd that denounced the practice of psychiatry as a form of fascism. They saw the practice as an unscientific form of oppression against the weak and helpless.
The problem was that Becker’s boss was a psychiatrist. So it was kind of like walking into your first job and proudly comparing your boss to Hitler.
As you can imagine, he was fired.
So Becker took his radical ideas somewhere that they might be accepted: Berkeley, California. But this, too, didn’t last long.
Because it wasn’t just his anti-establishment tendencies that got Becker into trouble; it was his odd teaching methods as well. He would use Shakespeare to teach psychology, psychology textbooks to teach anthropology, and anthropological data to teach sociology. He’d dress up as King Lear and do mock sword fights in class and go on long political rants that had little to do with the lesson plan. His students adored him. The other faculty loathed him. Less than a year later, he was fired again.
Becker then landed at San Francisco State University, where he actually kept his job for more than a year. But when student protests erupted over the Vietnam War, the university called in the National Guard and things got violent. When Becker sided with the students and publicly condemned the actions of the dean (again, his boss being Hitleresque and everything), he was, once again, promptly fired.
Becker changed jobs four times in six years. And before he could get fired from the fifth, he got colon cancer. The prognosis was grim. He spent the next few years bedridden and had little hope of surviving. So Becker decided to write a book. This book would be about death.
Becker died in 1974. His book The Denial of Death, would win the Pulitzer Prize and become one of the most influential intellectual works of the twentieth century, shaking up the fields of psychology and anthropology, while making profound philosophical claims that are still influential today.
The Denial of Death essentially makes two points:
1. Humans are unique in that we’re the only animals that can conceptualize and think about ourselves abstractly. Dogs don’t sit around and worry about their career. Cats don’t think about their past mistakes or wonder what would have happened if they’d done something differently. Monkeys don’t argue over future possibilities, just as fish don’t sit around wondering if other fish would like them more if they had longer fins.
As humans, we’re blessed with the ability to imagine ourselves in hypothetical situations, to contemplate both the past and the future, to imagine other realities or situations where things might be different. And it’s because of this unique mental ability, Becker says, that we all, at some point, become aware of the inevitability of our own death. Because we’re able to conceptualize alternate versions of reality, we are also the only animal capable of imagining a reality without ourselves in it.
This realization causes what Becker calls “death terror,” a deep existential anxiety that underlies everything we think or do.
2. Becker’s second point starts with the premise that we essentially have two “selves.” The first self is the physical self—the one that eats, sleeps, snores, and poops. The second self is our conceptual self—our identity, or how we see ourselves.
Becker’s argument is this: We are all aware on some level that our physical self will eventually die, that this death is inevitable, and that its inevitability—on some unconscious level—scares the shit out of us. Therefore, in order to compensate for our fear of the inevitable loss of our physical self, we try to construct a conceptual self that will live forever. This is why people try so hard to put their names on buildings, on statues, on spines of books. It’s why we feel compelled to spend so much time giving ourselves to others, especially to children, in the hopes that our influence—our conceptual self—will last way beyond our physical self. That we will be remembered and revered and idolized long after our physical self ceases to exist.
Becker called such efforts our “immortality projects,” projects that allow our conceptual self to live on way past the point of our physical death. All of human civilization, he says, is basically a result of immortality projects: the cities and governments and structures and authorities in place today were all immortality projects of men and women who came before us. They are the remnants of conceptual selves that ceased to die. Names like Jesus, Muhammad, Napoleon, and Shakespeare are just as powerful today as when those men lived, if not more so. And that’s the whole point. Whether it be through mastering an art form, conquering a new land, gaining great riches, or simply having a large and loving family that will live on for generations, all the meaning in our life is shaped by this innate desire to never truly die.
Religion, politics, sports, art, and technological innovation are the result of people’s immortality projects. Becker argues that wars and revolutions and mass murder occur when one group of people’s immortality projects rub up against another group’s. Centuries of oppression and the bloodshed of millions have been justified as the defense of one group’s immortality project against another’s.
But, when our immortality projects fail, when the meaning is lost, when the prospect of our conceptual self outliving our physical self no longer seems possible or likely, death terror—that horrible, depressing anxiety—creeps back into our mind. Trauma can cause this, as can shame and social ridicule. As can, as Becker points out, mental illness.
Becker later came to a startling realization on his deathbed: that people’s immortality projects were actually the problem, not the solution; that rather than attempting to implement, often through lethal force, their conceptual self across the world, people should question their conceptual self and become more comfortable with the reality of their own death. Becker called this “the bitter antidote,” and struggled with reconciling it himself as he stared down his own demise. While death is bad, it is inevitable. Therefore, we should not avoid this realization, but rather come to terms with it as best we can. Because once we become comfortable with the fact of our own death—the root terror, the underlying anxiety motivating all of life’s frivolous ambitions—we can then choose our values more freely, unrestrained by the illogical quest for immortality, and freed from dangerous dogmatic views.”
The cretins are winning, the killers have us by our gonads, and it is all because we took their bait and decided to play this game, this deadly game, their way.
I don’t often quote Tony Blair, after all if I were to channel the much more progressive Noam Chomsky then I’d recall that he aptly said “Wanton killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, not a war against terrorism”, in which case I’d have to classify Blair and his pal Bush as among the worst of the lot. But still one of Blair’s quotes rings true, that: “The purpose of terrorism lies not just in the violent act itself. It is in producing terror. It sets out to inflame, to divide, to produce consequences which they then use to justify further terror.”
And therein lies our biggest problem. That we have swallowed the gambit, and we’ve brought out the ethnic bogeyman in response to the wave of attacks in our midst.
You see terrorism by nature is a form of psychological warfare, a propaganda assault of sorts. Those who trade in murder and mayhem ultimately aim at to manipulate us and force us to make changes in outlook and thinking by creating morbid fear, uncertainty and limbo, and divisions based on irrational and illogical reasons in society.”
We need to step back, examine how we have responded to the recent on social media and in conversations with friends and families and ask ourselves if whoever is attacking us isn’t succeeding.
I am very disappointed that I look around and see that these faceless murderous bigots have succeeded in leaving most of us with our undies in a bunch as we:
- Spew vitriol at perceived tribal enemies,
- Cook up fantastic conspiracy theories that are borderline insane as well as incendiary and
- More or less get paralysed from thinking of much else when we have so much more to fear than sporadic attacks from deranged murdering bastards.
I have come to the conclusion that we are our own worst enemies, or at least our collective inability to see beyond our own noses is, basically:
- Anybody who thinks that these are attacks targeted at just a particular tribe or ethnic group needs to have their head examined.
- Anybody who imagines the opposition in Kenya is really that well organized, and shockingly diabolic, that they’d pull off hours of indiscriminate slaughter to further an agenda needs to check if the doctor dropped them on their heads at birth.
- Anybody who swallowed the sad and pathetic deflection and prevarication that Ole Lenku gave in the name of assurances, as well as the reckless allusions to a certain prominent individual being somehow tied in with these atrocities deserves the reaming they are getting.
- Lastly, anybody who imagines we can solve conflicts rooted in religious differences and/or ethnicity by throwing in more religion of our own and engaging in a pissing contest about whose God is greater, or by balkanising and banding together in ethnic cocoons, deserves a Darwin award themselves.
It would do well to remember that terrorism itself is not limited to attacks on malls, or markets, or buses. We should not lose sight of challenges that simmer below the surface that terrorize us more than the perceived terrorists who dominate our national dialogue. We should not take our foot off the government’s neck in terms of demanding accountability and the provision of basics of life as mandated in our constitution (basics which lack of murders more of us than any terrorists ever have).
In the words of Pope Francis: “Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.”
I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that’s not what America’s about. Usually, our constitutions expand liberties, they don’t contract them.
– Barack Obama
Kenyans… most of us claim to be staunch (read conservative) Christians and Muslims, which is why I find it interesting that we support Obama (somewhat a liberal) unreservedly to almost a man, but I understand why: we love politics of ethnicity like that, we extrapolate our politics globally like that.
Now a few of us, pricked by their conscience no doubt, would have rather Mitt won, this is because they disagree with Obama’s decision to be the first president to “support” gay marriage, as well as to put a condition that Africa ceases discriminating against LGBT communities as a precondition for aid. Well let me try to put this into perspective and, in so doing, try to make everyone sleep better knowing they root for “our boy” even though the positions Obama holds clash with their own.
I think choosing an LGBT lifestyle is a matter between two consenting couples and their God. As a matter of fact it is misleading to simply say Obama demands “acceptance of homosexuality”, the correct way to look at it is that America demands that African countries agree to stop discriminating against people on the basis of sexuality, the same way we stopped discriminating on the basis of sex, or race, or creed.
I am not comfortable with homosexuality, I don’t want to see men kissing in the streets, I definitely would be very distraught if a child of mine turned out to be gay; but do I want to see this child jailed?, do I want to see this child live condemned and shunned or even facing death by a frothing self-righteous mob, a mob probably made up of adulterers and coveting hypocrites who forget the bible condemns their sin in the ten commandments itself? I mean if we are going to make homosexuality and lesbianism criminal because it goes against our beliefs, why isn’t adultery, coveting, speaking God’s name in vain, etc, criminal as well?
Where does one draw the line between their personal beliefs and those of others. Where does personal choice end and state law take over? Where does a country tip over from secular to religious? We might think these things don’t matter because we who share a certain faith are a majority at the moment and can speak almost in unison; but what if the tables were turned and we were not? What if we were in a situation like they have in northern Nigeria where it is Sharia law for everyone? What if we were in a communist state where religion itself is outlawed outright? What if someday homosexuals outnumbered us and voted to ban straight relationships? What if….
I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.
– Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Fortune raises up and fortune brings low both the man who fares well and the one who fares badly; and there is no prophet of the future for mortal men.”
I generally try to steer clear of any debates that touch on matters of personal faith and which are peppered by religious belief. This is a decision I came to consciously after seeing the futility of such undertakings and the passion and irrational heat, sans illumination, they generate that does no one any good.
However in the wake of the Helicopter crash that took the lives of Saitoti, Ojode and four others, a lot of pronouncements have been made and many have been clothed in religious garb that to me was of a dubious nature.
Naturally a lot of “prophesies” are made in hindsight when tragedies strike, and they always take on the same form and pattern, which is to declare that we, godless Kenyans, brought this on ourselves by din of our iniquity, and that prayer and not greater attention to safety and maintenance is what would avert such tragedies. Of course I am looked at with shock when I scoff at this sort of line of thought.
Now normally, like I have already stated, I simply keep it moving when I come across this sort of thing, but it does take on a different significance when our poor excuses for national papers, in their desperate need for sensationalism and in a show of journalistic barrenness, decide to trumpet these so called prophecies. And do it incessantly at that.
I thus took my time to read today’s edition of the paper that is published from a building sitting on a road reserve along Mombasa Road. My focus being on this newly famous “prophetess” and her pronouncements in this story
Among her prophesies were these gems:
- “Kenya would lose prominent people this year and many more unless the leadership turned truly to God, as well as all citizens of this nation.” ~
I think this is something that is very general and which can be said of any year in my opinion, but they tell me it is a prophecy because God has been mentioned in it.
- “She had predicted that she had seen who would most likely lead this country after the next general election. she had prophesied that the person would have a very rough time and stiff opposition. This leader she prophesied is one who realises his mistake and turns around quickly just like King David in the Bible – he retracts unfavourable statements fast leaving people confused often what his real stand is yet in this lies his strength according to the prophetess. Friends will run away from him and he will remain as if his standing alone but he just has to do one thing – pray hard and turn to God because the leadership is being handed to him,”
Now in all honesty, how much more vague can this get?
- “She also tells of a government which does not know how to keep secrets and this could be a great undoing as State secrets spill over to the wrong people. She says that the she saw a vision whereby people sell government secrets for money.”
Why does a government chosen by God’s hand need to keep secrets in the first place? Do we have a secret nuclear program wikileaks hasn’t heard of or what?
- “Baffling in her list of prophesies is one business that has grown and is leading to more deaths – the making of coffins for display. She says that God is faithful and gives what people ask for, Therefore if people make coffins as seen in every street corner, then people are asking God to let others die so that they can get business and so God brings death.”
This last one would be funny if it were not said of such a sombre subject and at such a time of mourning. But it makes me wonder whether this is all an elaborate joke or not, are we now saying that God is calling his children to be with him solely because there are empty coffins that have been made and are not occupied? So were we to build empty banking halls wouldn’t that compel God to fill them with money, or am I getting this line of thought wrongly?
Anyway, when it is all said and done, we shall each carry our own crosses when we meet our maker, it is in that regard that I hasten to add that if I appear to be rubbishing what are genuine prophecies for anybody else, then you have my apologies, I just don’t have the same unwavering belief as you in what appear to be generalities, intelligent and mostly not so intelligent guesses.
“When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand.” — Deuteronomy 25:11-12
“If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane.” ~ Robert Green Ingersoll
“On her radio show, Dr. Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as informative:
Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination …. end of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them:
1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual unseemliness – Lev15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
Your adoring fan, James M Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia
(P.S. It would be a damned shame if we can’t own a Canadian.)”
“John: 19 tells us that Jesus wore designer clothes,” Avanzini said, referring to the purple robe that Christ’s tormentors wrapped around him before the Crucifixion. “I mean, you didn’t get the stuff he wore off the rack…. No, this was custom stuff. It was the kind of garment that kings and rich merchants wore.”
Yesterday, while channel surfing in boredom, I happened upon Family TV where the now standard ‘love gift’ pitch was being laid out by Bishop Clarence McLendon, standing besides TBN’s Paul and Jan Crouch. While I wasn’t giving the show 100% attention something caught my attention when McLendon implored, with a straight face no less, that for those watching seeing how wealthy those on the pulpit are and how fabulous their surroundings look should be no hindrance to continuously handing over money to them, in fact the good preacher said it was preferable to give to the rich, meaning him & TBN’s Crouch, than to the poor. He then went ahead to thump the bible as having said “when you give to the poor it will be given back to you in the same measure, but if you give to God it will be returned a hundred fold”
The part I don’t get is this: That giving to those already wealthy is equivalent to giving to God, and not only that, but also far better and profitable than helping out the poor. I just couldn’t wrap my head around why people accept this kind of preaching without question; and so I went to look at some of the “Prosperity Gospel” teachings from the crew I had just watched and below is what I dug up.
Pastor Paul Crouch calls it “God’s economy of giving,” and here is how it works:
People who donate to Crouch’s Trinity Broadcasting Network will reap financial blessings from a grateful God. The more they give TBN, the more he will give them.
Being broke or in debt is no excuse not to write a check. In fact, it’s an ideal opportunity. For God is especially generous to those who give when they can least afford it.
“He’ll give you thousands, hundreds of thousands,” Crouch told his viewers during a telethon last November. “He’ll give millions and billions of dollars.”
Other preachers who appear on the network offer variations on the theme that God appreciates wealth and likes to share it. One of them, John Avanzini, once told viewers that Jesus, despite his humble image, was a man of means.
“John 19 tells us that Jesus wore designer clothes,” Avanzini said, referring to the purple robe that Christ’s tormentors wrapped around him before the Crucifixion. “I mean, you didn’t get the stuff he wore off the rack…. No, this was custom stuff. It was the kind of garment that kings and rich merchants wore.”
TBN viewers are told that if they don’t reap a windfall despite their donations, they must be doing something to “block God’s blessing” — most likely, not giving enough.
Crouch has particularly stern words for those who are not giving at all.
“If you have been healed or saved or blessed through TBN and have not contributed … you are robbing God and will lose your reward in heaven,” he said during a 1997 telecast.
A central element of the prosperity gospel is that no one is too poor or too indebted to donate. Bishop Clarence McClendon, a preacher whose show “Take It By Force” appears on TBN, told viewers in March that God had asked him to deliver a message to those in financial difficulty:
They should “sow a seed” by using their credit cards to make donations. In return, the Lord would see to it that the balances would be paid off within 30 days.
“Get Jesus on that credit card!” McClendon said.
Most mainstream theologians and pastors say the prosperity gospel is at best a doctrinal error and at worst a con game. They point out that Jesus and his disciples abandoned their possessions in order to live a spiritually rich life.
“It is difficult to fathom how anyone familiar with the abundance of biblical teaching about the ‘deceitfulness of riches’ could have devised the prosperity gospel,” said William Martin, a sociology professor at Rice University and author of a biography of Billy Graham.
“While the Bible does not condemn all wealth, it surely points to its dangers in numerous passages.”
Critics of TBN say that the promise of financial miracles — besides being a distraction from the core principles of Christianity — can cause real harm.
Ole E. Anthony, founder of the Trinity Foundation in Dallas, a televangelist watchdog, said he knew people who had given the last of their savings to TV preachers, hoping for a windfall that never came.
“The people on TBN are living the lifestyle of fabulous wealth on the backs of the poorest and most desperate people in our society,” Anthony said. “People have lost their faith in God because they believe they weren’t worthy after not receiving their financial blessing.”
Thomas D. Horne, of Williford, Ark., a disabled Vietnam-era veteran, said that in 1994 he was swept away by the rhetoric of TBN pastors and donated about $6,000 in disability benefits.
Time went by and he did not receive the promised surfeit of money. Last year, he found out that TBN had purchased a Newport Beach mansion overlooking the Pacific. He wrote to the network, asking for his money back.
“I want to recoup my hard-earned disability money I sent to these despicable people,” said Horne. He said he has received no reply.
(quotes and investigative reporting above redacted from the LA Times)
God help us all if this is what the church has come to.....
Pampered televangelists, in their bespoke suits, praying for the death of those they count among the sheep; seeking divine help to expedite the orphanhood of children, who are innocent and whom christians are called to become like if they are to see the very kingdom that their– the preachers– constant plugging keeps them in fuel guzzlers and heavenly mansions; cursing in prayer and pronouncing afflictions on wives of men who obey orders and enforce law as a duty. What a shame that we have come to this.
“I ruku musupuu, I ruku muyang’i, I ruku musupuu” ~ Apostle James Ng’ang’a…
First off all, you’re not an apostle:
apostle: n noun. 1 (Apostle) each of the twelve chief disciples of Jesus Christ. Øan important early Christian teacher or missionary. 2 a vigorous and pioneering supporter of an idea or cause.
Then a so-called tolerant and forgiving man of the cloth goes in with this vengeful curse of a prayer: “Wanawe na wawe yatima, na mukewe awe mjane, kutangatanga na watangetange wanawe kama machokoraa, na kusihi kusikose siku zote katika hiyo nyumba mtu atakaye kuwa anaokwa na damu siku zote”
So this is the gospel we preach in Kenya now? Is the church above earthly laws that they can disobey city council by-laws and then pray for the death of those who enforce them? And then they wonder why they are no longer taken seriously by any right thinking person, as is clear from the crushing defeat at the constitution referendum (where they tried to throw in the usual bogeymen of Islamic law being forced on Kenya, women being given abortion on demand and homosexual and gay marriages being legalised), I also hope they lose their ridiculous attempt to block the ascension of Willy Mutunga to the helm of Kenya’s judiciary with their feeble family values excuse that is based on nothing more than an ear stud.
Looks like we forgot that Jesus taught that we should: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”
Here’s a clip of the Church’s demolition and the “Bull’s Eye” segment where they spoke curses against the city council employees: