September 3, 2008 (4 Responses)
IT’S BEEN YEARS since I last visited the USA, certainly before 9/11, but I’m about to change all that on Friday as I headÂ across the big pond for a couple of weeks… but I guess politics, sex, law, religion and so many other topics are off the agenda right? Read more
March 15, 2008 (17 Responses)
THESE WELSH JEDI lot are a forward looking bunch; I’ll give them that at least. Whether you think they’re whackjobs or take them seriously the UK Church of Jedi actually exists, presumably as a subset of the Jedi Church itself, and most recently they have made the headlines because they selected a rather interesting place to build their latest church, not to mention forming a new Galactic nation state.Â I refer of course to the story that some Welsh JedisÂ decided to create a space colony on the moon.
Yep. You read that right, on the moon!
Of course the first step in such an enterprise is to purchase some real estate, which they have in fact managed to do. Actually, they’re not just interested in buying the land (a one acre site apparently), they are also in the process of setting up a new Jedi nation up there as well. You see the moon is classed as being in ‘international waters’ (although I challange anyone to find water up there!) so legally speaking there is nothing to stop them forming their own galactic state up there.
The two brothers at the head of the UK Jedi Church organisation have gone ahead andÂ set up a government, constitution and royal family of the sovereign state as well. The nation is called The Galactic States of Jediism and they have also nominated theirÂ own capital city on the moon called Testa City.
What beats me is how they can fit all this into one little acre of real estate… still it could set an interesting precedent if we ever manage to, you know, actually colonise the moon… although why anyone would want to at this point is a bit of a mystery to me.
Still, it’s not as weird as the next item, because quasi-religious sci-fi enthusiasts doing their thing on the moon is at least ‘out there’ somewhere, a possibility that might be a problem in the future sometime if we ever go back to the moon, where as this next item is closer to home but just asÂ weird. Read more
January 9, 2008 (25 Responses)
I WAS READING the comment trail for an article I wrote recently entitled “Alien Anthropology: Religion Is Dead But Faith May Yet Prevail” when it sparked off a few chaotic thoughts in my noggin and got me thinking about a hypothetical scenario. It’s a simple enough question to ask, but the implications for any answer are likely to be far reaching and widely debated.
I’m not looking to evolve a perfect answer here folks, but I do think it might be interesting to see what perspectives you can bring to this topic, so please do feel free to comment on it. And so to the question at hand…
What if there were no religions?
Imagine a world without religion, any religion; what would it be like? Not a world where religions suddenly ceased to exist, rather a scenario where they never began in the first place. Would we be better or worse off as a result?
Please don’t just run to your comfortable corners with this one folks and spew out any practiced positions if you can avoid it, rather take some time to examine the possible implications and then let rip with your views. To kick things off hereÂ are my initial thoughts on the subject.
I decided to look at some key topics and examine if they would be significantly changed or not in light of the hypothesis and to be honest (speaking as an agnostic) I was quite surprised by the results myself because I would have predicted a completely different outcome… Read more
January 5, 2008 (347 Responses)
December 16, 2007 (19 Responses)
WE VISITED AN ALIEN WORLD this morning. It had been many many years since I’d seen the inside of a church, excepting of course the usual weddings and funerals that require perfunctory attendance but none of the usual alertness I’d associate with the giving and receiving of actual organised religion.
This morning SusiQ and I attended a mass (the reasons for which are not really central to the theme of this post) and as I sat there and looked around at the church, the audience, the priest, the whole interaction I was struck by how alien it all was for me. The church in question was one I’d frequented when I was a young boy growing up in Dublin, but by the time I was twelve I’d basically bailed on the whole organised religion thing and left mass and churches behind in the process, much to the distress of my mother.
And so it was that I found myself back in this church, with my mother as it happens and SusiQ, and the occasion provided me with an opportunity, anthropologically speaking, to observe the alien process in action and see for myself how things had changed in the decades since I last found myself in that church.
For starters, the
audience congregation had changed dramatically. I’d say only 25% of the seats were taken up, and of those probably 90% of the participants spectators were at the over-sixty stage. I only counted two kids in the entire church and probably four or five middle aged or young couples, most of whom were eastern European by appearance. Attendances have dropped off significantly from when I was a boy.
My firstÂ surprise was when the priest stood up and announced the start of the service for ‘those listening at home’; they were broadcasting over a church radio network. An obvious progression I know, but still I wasn’t expecting it for some reason. As the priest droned on in the usual monotones I took stock of the churchgoers in the rows and rows in front of him and would liken them to robots, going through the well established and comfortable motions, rather than active partipants in any religious ceremony. They came in, sat down, switched off and performed when required. There was no real engagement as such.
Then of course it got weirder, which is only to be expected I suppose in an alien landscape… Read more
June 26, 2007 (2 Responses)
WHO SAYS the Germans don’t have a sense of humour? Well – probably Tom Cruise actually, considering his latest film venture has run into trouble with the German authorities, the kind of trouble that will prevent him from filming on location at various military sites around the country.
It’s all the fault of those whacky scientologists apparently, or at least that’s what the Germans would have you believe.
You see in Germany Scientology is seen as a bit of a cult. Well actually, it’s considered to be a cult masquerading as a religion in order to make money, and given that the Cruiser is one of the most public supporters of this alien-legacy-rebirth thing the Germans have decided to bail out on any support for his film.
Why you may ask?
More importantly… you might also ask what kind of film the Cruiser is working on which could evoke such a response from the Germans.
Care to guess? It’s actually kind of funny – although I’m not sure the Cruiser and his staff will be seeing the funny side of it at the moment.Â There’s a clue in the title of the post if you are really desperate to guess but before we get to the film, let’s deal with the reason the Germans gave forÂ not supporting it. Read more
March 12, 2007 (5 Responses)
YOU ARE PERHAPS wondering what the hell a fire ant (that’s him on the left there) has to do with religion and plausible deniability, but stick with me here because there is a point to this. Regular readers will know I’m pretty much agnostic – basically I can’t be arsed with religions, even though I was raised a Roman Catholic. I have however done my fair share of gbloe trotting (that’s travel, not basketball!) and been exposed to many different types of cultures, philosophies, belief systemsÂ and religions.
One of the most serene and passive religions or belief systems I’ve ever encountered is Buddhism, and if someone ever put a gun to my head and said ‘choose a religion or die’… well it would be a close thing and knowing me would probably depend greatly on how moody I was that day, but I might (at a push, maybe) go for a buddhist approach to life in one shape or another if I had to. Probably not the full monty but you you understand right? No choice, gun to head.
For the uninitiated, Buddhism is a dharmic, non-theistic religion, which is also a philosophy and a system of psychology. So basically it’s a mixed bag, with an estimated 300 million followers and a history going back about 2500 years or so, but at the very center of this beilef system is a desire to “Do no harm“. Now – consider the ant on the left there again. It’s a mean little bastard and usually has lots of friends too; Fire ants often attack small animals andÂ kill them. Unlike many other ants, which bite and then spray acid on the wound, fire ants only bite to get a grip and then sting (from the abdomen) and inject a toxic alkaloid venom (piperidine). For humans, this is a painful sting, which closely resembles the sensation of being… well … on fire I guess, hence the name.
So – what happens when a colony of fire ants invades a buddhist temple? How can an ancient and serene religion as accepting and benevolent as Buddhism deal with such an invasion of creatures without harming them? Read more