Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fire and Brimstone in California

Well, fire at least. In the wake of wildfires striking California, Christian evangelist James Hartline offered his explanation for the disaster to anyone who would listen. God was smiting California because of gay activism in the wake of Proposition 8's passage.

This brings up a number of questions. First of all, if homosexuality is really the biggest issue in God's mind, and God and Jesus are the same, why is it that Jesus said absolutely nothing about gays during his ministry? Doesn't the complete lack of any comment suggest that maybe Jesus just didn't care about this issue that much? He did instruct his followers to "keep the commandments," which likely refers to the Jewish laws set forth in Leviticus that refer to homosexuality as "abomination" - but the same term is also applied to the eating of shellfish. A lot of Christians eat shrimp and their churches are silent on that issue.

Second of all, Proposition 8 was a ban on gay marriage. It passed. So shouldn't God be happy if he indeed considers gays to be the root of all evil? Couldn't he find something more important to be angry over besides a bunch of protests that aren't going to change the law? I mean, it seems like the smart thing for God to do if he supported the ban would be to shower California with all sorts of good fortune after it passed. In fact, couldn't you argue that God is angry over the passage of the ban because he's in favor of committed relationships, both gay and straight, or because he's opposed to writing discrimination into the state's constitution?

Finally, if Hartline indeed is a prophet of God as he claims, we can be absolutely certain of one key detail: this guy is God. God taking on the form of a homeless person is a pretty shrewd move, especially for highlighting poverty and other social justice issues that Jesus clearly cared about so much more than gays during his lifetime.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Political Magick in Thailand

With all the coverage of the US Presidential election, the ongoing political crisis in Thailand has attracted little attention. Briefly, in 2006 a group calling themselves the People's Alliance for Democracy led a military coup against the government of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, alleging corruption on the part of the Prime Minister and his ruling party. With a new government in place, the coup leaders stepped down and declared their goals accomplished. However, Thaksin's allies came back to win a majority in the 2007 general election, prompting the current incarnation of the crisis. From wikipedia:

The PAD re-established itself after Thaksin-affiliated parties, led by Samak Sundaravej's People's Power Party (PPP), got the majority in the 2007 general election and decided to ratify the Constitution after one of its leading figure was charged with electoral fraud. According to the Constitution, this violation could lead to the dissolution of the party. PAD also believe that the real cause of the attempt to ratify the Constitution is to rescue the ousted Thaksin Shinawatra back to power. In May 2008, PAD began its street protest at Makhawan Bridge, on Ratchadamnoen Avenue. The main objectives of the renewing protest are the resistance of the constitutional amendment and the rejection of the PPP as the ruling party.

PAD began formal protests in May of this year, and during August and September seized the government house in an effort to force the current government to resign. The Thai seat of government is still occupied and the crisis shows no signs of letting up any time soon - especially since dark magick is apparently involved.

Sondhi Limthongkul, one of the leaders of the group which is illegally occupying the seat of Thai government, claimed in a recent televised speech that a wicked wizard has blocked the protective power of some of Bangkok's holiest sites.

It seems to me that this is a pretty inefficient way to go about creating political change using magick. I mean, why not just do a spell to restore the former prime minister to power? As an reasonably accomplished political magician, I can tell you that just specifying your final outcome without any intermediate means works fine. But I digress - naturally, once the spell was discovered Sondhi's supporters moved quickly to counter it.

He described how his own magicians removed six imaginary nails that had been placed around a towering royal statue in the city centre to block its power.

"I must thank the women of the PAD," he continued, "because after [the imaginary nails] were pulled out, to ensure they could not be replaced, they took sanitary napkins from menstruating women and placed them over the six points.

"Experts said the (evil wizards) were furious because they could not send their spirits back," Mr Sondhi boasted, "Their magic was rendered ineffective!"

In Thai superstition women's sexuality, and especially menstrual blood, is believed to have great destructive power.

Some thoughts - first off, why imaginary nails? You could use metal talismans, enchant them all together so that they are linked, and set them around the area of the statue at various distances forming a field. They would thus be difficult to find, especially if deeply buried or well-hidden. Imaginary nails used as talismans are kind of silly, since from a technical perspective you would be better off drawing a bunch of sigils over a polaroid photo of your target.

Secondly, blood and especially menstrual blood is very magically energetic, but that energy can be turned to many different purposes - it is not necessarily inherently destructive. If Sodhi's magicians don't realize this, the "remedy" could easily be reversed by a skilled rival. It would be especially diabolical because once the energy shifts, the blood itself would become the new anchor for the blocking spell and the only way to break it at that point would be to undo the remedy itself - and doing so would probably look very bad politically after Sondhi made such a big deal of it in his speech.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Appeal Filed in "God Lawsuit"

No, the lawsuit filed by former Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers against God is still not dead, even after being dismissed with prejudice by a judge. Chambers has filed an appeal protesting the dimissal. The appeal will take the case to the Nebraska Supreme Court, who hopefully will refuse to hear it on the grounds that it's just plain silly.

I think Chambers needs to find himself a hobby, or more to the point find himself a different one.

Monday, November 10, 2008

When Monks Attack

Why is it that the religions that disagree the most are so often those with trivial differences in theology? You never hear about Christians and Thelemites getting into brawls, for example, or Wiccans fighting Buddhists. Comedian Emo Philips had a routine on this very subject that he used to do back in the late 1980's, and I still find it funny - but it's funny in part because it's so sadly true.

The latest chapter in this saga finds a battle between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of Christianity's holiest sites.

The feud revolves around a demand by the Greek Orthodox to post a monk inside the Edicule - the ancient structure built on what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus - during the Armenian procession. The Armenians refused, and when they tried to march the Greek Orthodox monks blocked their way.

I realize that this likely has great spiritual significance to both sides, but from the outside looking in it seems like a pretty silly thing to fight over. Nonetheless, neither side was willing to budge.

It ended with the arrival of dozens of riot policemen who separated the sides, seizing a bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead.

Both men were taken away in handcuffs.

I guess it's a good thing for all involved that Western monks aren't trained in Shaolin Kung Fu.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fascist Candidate's Dark Magick

I have been deliberately avoiding blogging about the imminent US presidential election, but this is just too funny. Did you even know that the United States has a Fascist Party? I didn't. Their presidential candidate is a dark sorceror by the name of Jackson Grimes.

Grimes is a Sunshine State-born Vietnam War veteran with an artificial British accent who failed at acting, spent a year on the New York City streets and now aspires to the Oval Office under the auspices of the United Fascist Union.


He was offered the party leadership and has spent much of the past decade traveling and making speeches to raise money. His supporters can be unlikely – he’s spoken before the Flying Saucer Society and recently had engagements in Canada – but he sincerely believes in his efforts.

Maybe it's just me, but I've always found that a fake foreign accent totally screams "LOSER!" On the other hand, I have no problem with Grimes speaking to UFO enthusiasts. I mean, I'd do that. UFO hysteria is fun, whether or not it's factually true.

But wait a minute. I said sorceror, right? Where on earth would I get the idea that this guy is a powerful dark magician? Why, from his secretary and partner Heather Goldsmith!

Goldsmith connected with the party’s pagan affinity and gravitated toward Grimes. “The Pentagram flag by his desk by the bust of Saddam Hussein was also an occult symbol, so I thought this guy can teach me a lot about magick and witchcraft if I can get in with him,” Goldsmith wrote in an e-mail. “Learning he had no wife, a couple of days later I went back and asked him if he’d like one and moved in with him a couple days later.”

Clearly any practicing magician recognizes that combining the occult symbol most widely recognized by complete ignoramuses with the bust of a secular dictator who pulled a bunch of stupid crap and got the entire world pissed off at him is a sign of incredible unholy power. Oh, wait...

And isn't success supposed to be thy proof? Just saying. So far Grimes has lost three elections in a row by a lot, and yet he still clings to the idea that he could actually win.

“I’m in this to win,” the Florida native said with distinctly British enunciation. “If I didn’t think I could become the president of the United States by being a fascist, I wouldn’t be a fascist.”

But hey, at least Grimes' magical weirdness got him laid, even if it won't make him President.