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Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Another year over

29.12.2011 15:34

Christmas is more or less gone (at least the climax of it), and another year is almost over. I can’t help but wonder what 2012 will bring. New Year’s Eve usually has that effect on me, and I assume I’m not the only one who does.

As usual, this year’s Christmas catch was modest, and I don’t mind at all. This year, I got a large tea cup, two mugs, two small plates (which goes with several tea cups I already have with a similar design), some licorice/cinnamon tea (Pukka brand, not pictured) that was actually quite good, a small bath towel, a concrete @-sign decoration (which unfortunately broke the second after I had opened it due to bad packaging, also not pictured), a luxury soap with bath towel, a fleece hat, a scarf, and some DVDs. Out of DVDs, I got Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2, Hodejegerne (a Norwegian thriller released earlier this year), Cars 2 (Blu-ray+DVD edition), and the two first seasons of NCIS. All of these DVDs were on my wishlist, but I’m going to exchange Cars 2 and one of the last Harry Potter films, since already got Cars 2 about a week or so before Christmas, and I got two out of Deathly Hallows part 2. No biggie, though, as they’re in “exchangeable” condition (sealed). And, as usual, I got another thing I wanted, which is on my list every year: Time spent with family.

I can’t help but notice a disgusting trend recently making rounds of well-deserved ridicule around the Internet, though. Namely, the high number of spoiled brats who complain about getting or not getting an iPhone/iPad/iPod, laptop/MacBook or even car, or getting the wrong one of these. I’m simply baffled that people can be that selfish and spoiled to feel depressed about something so materialistic when there are people in the world who don’t have a great life. People who don’t have a home, who don’t have a family, who don’t have enough food or clothes, who don’t have safety and security, who don’t get presents, or even a combination of these. And I’m not just talking about people in poor and/or war-torn countries in the so-called second or third world, but also domestically in the so-called Western civilization. There are people who spend Christmas alone, not because they choose to, or because that happened to be the case this year, but because they don’t have anyone to spend it with, even if they desperately want to. There are people who consider “a great Christmas” to be shelter and food for the day, or maybe even the whole week, and when I see people complain about such high-priced gifts, I feel like whacking them with a clue stick. I mean, at least you got something! If you don’t like it, you still have to option to exchange it for that other thing you might’ve wanted!

When it comes to helping those in need, I feel that organizations like the Salvation Army does help a lot. I may not agree with them in religious or political terms, but I do believe they do a lot of great work for the less fortunate people in the local community (in terms of food, heat, and to some degree, shelter). I did contribute my small share to their Christmas kettle in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It wasn’t much on the larger scale of things, but I did at least contribute something, and I hope they will keep doing the good work they do. And they do it without pushing religion onto those they help, which is a big reason I like their work.

To sum up, be thankful for what you have, be even more thankful for other things you get, and hope the new year only have good things in store for us. And to make my wish a little early: Happy New Year! 🙂

Bless You, Gabriel

02.12.2011 00:43

Earlier this week, I was on a brisk walk from my workplace to my doctor’s office. I was running about 10 minutes late (and since no taxi cab available for at least another 15 minutes, I had to walk), I was my doc’s last appointment for the day, and on the way, I was being stopped by some guy who made a quick comment about my yellow rain hat (it was raining and blowing, and as someone from Denmark, he seemed to want to know what it was called in Norwegian). He kept on talking, I was stressed out, and he casually mentioned that he was a monk (he didn’t look like it, but then again, it was cold), and was spreading the word of true yoga. I really didn’t have the time, so I had to cut him short if I wasn’t going to be too late for my appointment. The next day, I ran into him again, at the same location, and I was waiting for the bus onwards to work (it was another bad weather day, but at least it wasn’t raining). He started talking again, showed the book he was handing out, and again, finally asked for a donation of some coins (just so he could cover his travels). As the bus was arriving, and about to leave, I had to cut his speech short, but not before he handed me his book and kept badgering me for some money. I only had some small coins in my wallet, so I handed it off to him. Frankly, I was annoyed at him, I was the last passenger coming onto the bus, and this monk guy was holding me back.

Later in the day, after coming home, I tried finding out what the hell this thing was, and reading the inside cover (where the title, copyright and ISBN is listed), I found a reference to the Hare Krishna movement (by its offical name, ISKCON). I mean, if you found your religion, I’m fine with it, but please don’t go around pushing your agenda on random strangers like that. Most people find it annoying.

I’ll keep the book, though. It’s likely to collect dust at the back of my shelf, I might pull it out some time, just to get a more thorough understanding of that religion (which would be around the same time I get my own Bible and Koran for my bookshelf). I’m not taking the trouble to walk around with it, trying to find the guy again so I can return it, it’s just not worth the extra effort.

On the brighter side of this week, I just got the “Stand-Up Revolution” DVD (with Gabriel Iglesias, aka. “Fluffy”, and his friends) I ordered from Amazon.com two weeks ago.

It has 2 DVDs in it, has the complete  8 episodes of the show from Comedy Central, and has Fluffy himself, plus 18 of his stand-up comedy friends (according to the cover). While I’m writing this, I’m about half-way through the whole thing, and I’m enjoying every second of it!

If you ever come across Fluffy’s stuff, I can recommend it 100%. I’m just sorry I missed out while he was in Norway last month (it was in Bergen, and I found out about it only a few days before the show). I hope I’ll be able to meet him in person some day, though.

In other news, Christmas time is off to a start, and present shopping is officially well into it’s second lap. I already have two presents down, and several others to go.

I’ll get back with an update later, I guess.

Bless you!

17.02.2011 02:19

While on my lunch break today, I had a very interesting experience. I was approached by young, deeply Christian people, twice. Let me share the moments for a bit.

The first encounter was outside a grocery store (where I had just made some minor purchases). I was sitting down on a bench, enjoying the last few sips of some strawberry milk (no, I’m not making that up), when a Swedish girl asked to sit down with me to talk a little (she did bring a friend, but she kept very much in the background). She revealed that she was a Christian, with a deep faith in Jesus (you know, that guy from the second half of the Bible). She wanted me to know that God sees me, and will continue to protect me (no matter what I believed), and asked further what my faith was (agnostic – I’ll explain further down – as I also explained to her). My faith is very inclusive towards all/most religions, basically. She also asked if everything was alright, if I had any problems in particular, which I really don’t. We had some small talk for a few minutes before we said our goodbyes. The whole thing kinda put me off for a few minutes after that, but all in all, it was a slightly positive experience.

Later on, about 15-20 minutes after my first encounter, and on my way back to the office, I had a second encounter. This time, it was one guy (Norwegian, who sounded like he was from the Oslo area) and two girls (who the guy identified as being Canadian and American). I had noticed their faces a few minutes earlier, as I had just passed them about a block earlier, heading in the opposite direction, but they must’ve taken an interest and caught up with me inside a shopping mall. They, too, were Christian, and they asked if they could pray for me. Heck, I’m an open-minded guy, and thought that if it would make them happy, I’d just let them. They, too, asked if there were some problems in particular to pray for, which I really didn’t. They each put one hand on me and took a turn with their prayers, basically asking to protect me and praying for my continued kindness, each in their own words. The whole séance probably took about 5 minutes, with odd stares from people passing by. When they finished, they thanked me for the opportunity, and we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, leaving me with a strangely positive feeling of some strangers caring about me enough to do all that.

Yep, today, I was a Christian magnet! It was a particular “life is good” kinda day, too. My monthly pay rolled in the day before, and my 31st birthday is tomorrow (well, technically speaking “today” at the time I write this – it’s way too late in the evening/night, though).

Agnostic? What’s that?

Some of you might wonder about my stance towards faith and religion. I define myself as an agnostic, which means I’m in doubt.

I believe there’s something all around us, which is yet to be properly defined. I believe that religions world-wide have made efforts to define it by giving it names. Some call this feeling God, some call it Yahweh, some call it Allah, some call it The Force, some call it Mother Nature, some have even split it into several deities. In essence, I believe all of these are one and the same, only with different names.

I believe there is “one truth” for all of us, yet to be defined, and that this truth is somewhere in our common future, somewhat further down the line that any of us can see. In the meantime, it is not only correct, but essential to keep your current faith, as long as you respect the faith of others, even if it seems to differ from your own. The important thing is not what you believe in, but that you practice your belief respectfully and without resorting to violence.

OK, that’s probably enough words of wisdom for one day. I guess the idea of growing older is sneaking up on me today.

Cartoon trouble

10.02.2006 01:50

As most of you have caught up in recent news, the Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten published a caricature of Mohammed, the Muslim prophet. Knowing full well that depicting the prophet is against Islamic law, several other European newspapers republished these caricatures for some strange reason, among others, a Christian extremist newspaper called “Magazinet”. I have a feeling that they did this just to piss someone off.

These events generally caused Norwegians to become targets in countries and cities heavily influenced by Islam, with flag burning, riots and physical attacks against Norwegian offices and tourists in those countries. Not police, though, but by rioting groups. And it almost feels like we’re on the brink of World War III, which I seriously hope never comes into fruition.

The newspapers and magazines that have published these caricatures claim freedom of speech as the reason for doing this.

I think this is wrong. With freedom of speech also comes the personal responsibility for what you’re saying. Say the wrong things, and people get insulted. I’m not saying we should abolish freedom of speech altogether, but I think that those who have the freedom also should take the responsibility to not directly offend anybody’s religion, race, gender or sexuality.

The rioters were also demanding that our government apologize for the insult. Trouble is, with freedom of speech also comes the fact that a gathered country can’t take responsibility for what a single person expresses. If they’re going to paint targets, do it to the ones who were insulting them instead of targetting an entire country. We don’t all have that same opinion, and people should respect that.

I heard a good example today that could help you get a feel for how muslims react to this issue: How would you feel if someone either found a nude picture of your grandmother or constructed one and then published the picture on the front page of a nation-wide newspaper? False or not, “all” they did was use their freedom of speech, expressing their opinion of the world or their skills as an artist. Even so, it doesn’t make it right, does it? There’s a fine line between trying to provoke a reaction and outright stupidity, apparently. If you have something you know will violate the emotions of an innocent person or a group of innocent people, the freedom of speech you should exercise is to not publish it. You know, spare their feelings.

At least something good came out of it; the editor of the Norwegian newspaper was reported to the police by the Muslim Al-Jinnah Foundation. It’s good to see that doing something like this isn’t entirely without legal consequenses.

Aftenposten: Caricature publisher reported to police

I’d like to say that I don’t side either with the rioters or the publishers. The rioters on their side went too far with their death threats against the people who were even remotely involved with the publishing of the caricatures (such as Norwegians or Danes in general). The publishers on their side went too far by throwing these caricatures into their newspapers. Bad ideas from both ends, I think.

Death threats are medieval ways in this modern world. Modern times react better to lawsuits. I say that all Muslims take up class action suits against the newspapers that published the caricatures. Judging by the widespread of Islam in today’s world, single lawsuits are a waste of time; several gathered class action lawsuits would be more effective in my opinion.

Go ahead. If you’re a Muslim reading this, gather up your friends and fellow believers in your region and get in touch with lawyer. I’m sure there’s something you could figure out there.

Silly Christian extremists

22.07.2005 02:16

Some of you might’ve noticed these two recent headlines:

CNN.com: Congressman suggests way to retaliate for nuclear terror
CNN.com: Muslims denounce congressman’s statement

Now this is a congressman who’s judgmental and that has no idea about the workings of the real world. Let me just put things in perspective.

If a group of rouge catholics bombed some target within the U.S., like some big landmark building or even an entire city, would that entitle this congressman to green light a bombing mission against the Vatican State? The terrorists in this example were catholic, after all.

In fact, what Tom Tancredo entirely missed out on, is the fact that real muslims are against the terrorist attacks made by so-called other muslims. I say “so-called”, because what they are doing, has nothing to do with the Islamic religion whatsoever. Islam teaches high respect of all life. Even I have caught up that little factoid, and I’m an agnostic. Islam even teaches respect towards other religions, in terms of “we all believe in the same god, even it has a different name or is split up into more than one god”.

Come to think of it, all religions teach some level of respect towards other life and religions, except for the Christian religions. You’d have to look a long way for religions more intolerant towards other religions and ways of life than the Christian religions.

The hate towards homosexuality comes from the Christian religions. The believers say that it says so in The Bible that it’s wrong. You know what? I looked that one up. According to Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” That’s one sentence. That’s ONE FRIGGIN’ SENTENCE. And that’s it. I know of another story that covers things wrong with that book….

Susan Stepney, jokes: an open Letter to Dr. Laura, by J. Kent Ashcraft

Read further down on that page for more crazy quotes from the ol’ book. If you don’t have The Bible at hand, you can look up the passages on site such as Bible on the Web. The passages are for real, and they really do say that.

Now, what if a Christian extremist decides to take upon the role of being the judge of all mankind by using The Bible in a literal context? Bush has already rolled the ball, other Christian conservatives keep pushing that ball through the snow. At some point, some nut is bound to stockpile a bunch of dangerous weapons and is planning to use these as punishment for how people have abandoned the “rules” of that old rag some use for spiritual guidance.

Don’t get me wrong; many things in The Bible contains good ways to behave, parts which have the basic unwritten rules of what we call common sense in writing. It’s just that this old thing is bound for a rewrite to fit the society of today. Keep in mind that not much of the contents has changed in this book for almost 2000 years. That is, if you’re Christian and has the New Testament expansion pack. If you’re working off the basic edition, it’s even older than that.

Returning to the congressman’s statement this week, I think he could use a real slap on the wrist. Or the face. He and a whole bunch of conservative Christians need a real eye-opener before it’s too late. Before the next terrorist attack attributed to a so-called muslim. Before the next mistake of a war comes to life.