Category: Religion - THE CATASTROPHIZER
 
I was going to write something really glib and flippant about the topic I am about to introduce, but the more I looked into it, the more all the glib and flip got knocked out of me. What's left of me when those things are knocked out is mostly sadness and Bridge Mixture.

I recently started getting odd emails. Here's one of them:

Hello!

You are receiving this email from J.T who has signed up for X3watch, a personal accountability service from Triple X Church.

J.T. has identified you as their accountability partner. If you've received this email in error or you don't want to be J.T.'s accountability partner, please ask them to remove your email address from the X3watch application.

What Happens Now?

You will receive an email every week containing all possible questionable sites they may have visited on their [list devices the user runs X3watch on] devices.

This information is meant to encourage an open and honest conversation between friends and help us all be more accountable. You should also add the address reports@x3watch.com to your email address book to ensure it's not marked as spam email.

I naturally assumed Triple X Church was a made-up place that existed in order to somehow acquire my banking details. Or a real-life place that existed in order to provide people who are not me with High Anglican pornography. Either way, it was suspicious, and I CLICKED ON NOTHING. But the emails kept coming, so I finally, STILL CLICKING NOTHING, googled "XXX Church" and discovered that it's a website for religious people grappling with porn addictions.

The name of the man who suggested I might like to regularly monitor his use of pornography was included in the email (I obviously redacted it here, because I am not an animal), and as far as I can tell, he's a prominent gastroenterologist somewhere in Kansas. He's also a devout Christian and a married man, and his pornography addiction has jeopardized his relationship (he has posted comments on blogs about porn addiction and religion). The only other thing I know about him is that he probably has a trusted friend or relative with an email address remarkably similar to mine.

If I can figure out a way to no longer be a stranger's online porn accountability partner without having to correspond with someone from a Christian website or with that stranger who is right now totally unaware that some girl in Toronto is his porn accountability partner, I'll do so.  And I haven't looked at a single one of those reports, because if I wouldn't want some gastroenterologist from Kansas knowing incredibly personal things about me, I'm not going to give into the temptation to know incredibly personal things about a gastroenterologist from Kansas.

Thankfully, I found some statements on the website that allowed me to drown out my reluctant pathos attack:

"Each year, we distribute 25,000 bibles within the porn industry."

"We take the light of the gospel to the darkest of places around the world: porn shows, strip clubs, and brothels."


You can, naturally, donate money to fund their bible- and gospel-distributing endeavours. And why send your money to the world's less-dark places when you could use it to send a Christian to a strip club?

I am heartened to find myself glibbant once more.

                                  ***

This post was supposed to end after that last paragraph, but I just discovered that Triple X Church runs something called "Operation: Save the Kittens" and I think you should know about it:

"'Every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten!' This notion came to us in an email by an anonymous person, and we took it to a whole new level."

A WHOLE NEW LEVEL, INDEED.

The Triple X Church thinks that masturbating (even if one distracts oneself throughout with THOUGHTS OF FRUIT) is wrong, and suggests that people make anti-masturbation pacts and remind each other not to masturbate by sending weekly emails with catchy subject headings to one another. Because the world is not all bad, they provide examples of such headings:

    * OSTK
    * Please, think of the kittens
    * Killed any kitties this week?
    * The kittens thank you for your support
    * Long Live the Kittens!


Pure awesome.
 
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When I grow up, I wanna be righteous,/ I wanna be holy,/ I wanna be a Christian.
You may already have heard about the eerily eager, fervently faithful, God-loving children who have become an internet sensation by God-ding up some almost-still-current popular songs. They cleverly transform Fergie's "My Humps" into "My Faith" and risk improving the Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?" by redoing it as "Don't Cha Wish Your Saviour Was Right Like Mine?".

They have created a storm of controversy amongst people who a) don't appreciate musical proselytizing, or b) hold that lyrics such as "I'm a get, get, get, you drunk,/ Get you love drunk off my hump" should never be taken in vain or adulterated. 

But wait! I know it's difficult not to be filled with indignation, not to revel in the kind of delicious outrage always inspired by tiny, preaching, Jesus-praising children. In this case, though, you would be better off putting that indignation on hold and saving it, say, for a re-watching of Mike Huckabee's 9/11 cartoon for kids, because the whole thing is a bizarrely-convoluted gag. 

The "Praise Bop" videos were produced by an outfit by the name of "Manka Bros." It has a website, albeit a disorienting and murky one, and claims to be "the world's largest media company." For the world's largest media company, it has a suspiciously low-rent site, and some suspiciously low-rent products, and so it's not entirely surprising to discover it's some complex and, to my mind, profoundly unsuccessful attempt to lampoon media conglomerates. Or something. 

A guy from Warner Studios thought it would be hilarious to parody the bombast and delusions of a production company by creating a fake one. Maybe my problem is that I just don't think he's done it very well. I don't think it's so funny. It's like a badly-organized website version of a sub-par Christopher Guest movie. 

So that all that righteous, pop-culture-deformed-into-Christian-propaganda-related anger won't have been rustled up in vain, here's some high-quality, creationism-themed edutainment for kids. As far as I know, it's on the level.


POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by axident. 
 
The other night, my husband and I were on our annual drive to collect what turned out to be an only-marginally-deformed Ikea Christmas tree (last year's was truly defective, but this one has only one funny empty patch that can be camouflaged by way of strategic bulb placement), and we were listening to that radio station that's been playing Christmas music since June (the one that features DJs who sound increasingly exhausted, rattled, defeated and drunk).

We were driving along, happily criticizing some familiar Christmas standards, when we heard a song. A song unlike any other song. A song that was released in 2000 and that I somehow missed until now. A song that caused us both to lapse into a stupefied silence and then dementedly and desperately struggle for words as though trying to speak English for the first time in the middle of an emergency.

The song is called "Christmas Shoes", and it's by a Christian group called New Song. It may well be the most stunningly appalling song ever written. If it were only half the song it is, it would still probably be the most appalling song ever written. And it keeps getting worse - that's the most amazing thing about it. You hear one verse and think, "surely that has set a new standard of awfulness and the next verse cannot be any more astonishingly awful" and then you hear the next verse. And it is worse. You start with a poor and raggedy child who wants to buy shoes for his mother. Then you find out his mother is very sick. Then you get the raggedy child looking forward to his dying mother MEETING JESUS. Then you get the narrator claiming that God has made this urchin's mother terminally ill to help the narrator appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. Then, when you think your brain can hurt no more, there is a children's choir. 

Here's a link to the youtube video. It's actually worth going to the website itself to read the comments section and to realize that you are on one side or the other of a great and unbridgeable divide. You will either be one of those people who questions why a young ragamuffin would want to buy his dying mother footwear, why the be-turtlenecked (I was going to go with "en-turtlednecked", but decided the "be" sounded more sophisticated) singer is sitting on a giant tree, and why anyone, ever, would listen to such a song by choice, or you're one of those people who can barely type your response to the video through the tears you're crying over that poor, poor boy who wants to make sure his mother is well-shod for Jesus.
You will be, if not in good company, at least in company whichever side you're on. Patton Oswalt has transformed his amazed horror into a Christmas stand-up routine.
And if you're one of those people who can think of nothing more moving than a man in turtleneck and blazer singing Christian things about death and a terrifyingly didactic and heartless God, you might enjoy both the BOOK AND MOVIE based on this song. 


POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by axident. 
 
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The Self is often misunderstood in Society.
It's been an exciting week for disapproving of things. Many of the things offered up by the world for my disapproval were offered up at the CNN Tea Party GOP Presidential debate. 

When Wolf Blitzer, who always asks my favourite hypothetical-comatose-patient questions, asked the candidates who should pay for the care of an uninsured coma victim, and responded to Ron Paul's response with "Are you saying that society should just let him die?" a number of audience members I would very much like to meet and date cheered and someone yelled "yeah!"

Michele Bachmann spoke piercingly about "little girls" (11 and 12 year-olds; still young, sure, but not the pig-tailed, thumb-sucking cuties she piercingly evoked) being given "government injections" (HPV vaccinations) and yesterday managed to up the ante on her own stupidness and lyingness by indicating that the vaccine might cause mental retardation (which it doesn't). When various people, among them quite an unsurprising number of doctors, told her she was wrong, she said, "I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist. I am not a physician. All I was doing was reporting what a woman told me last night at the debate." She's referring to a random member of the public who came up to after the debate and told her the vaccine had harmed her daughter.

So one is apparently allowed to report ignorant, unfounded claims about something as long as one has oneself no knowledge or expertise related to the subject. 

Except when that's not the case. There's an astonishingly discouraging story out of York University this week, for once not related to a faculty strike. Cameron Johnston, a York prof, was teaching a Social Science class ("Self, Culture and Society" - a staggeringly descriptive title) and stated that not everyone was entitled to have and express an opinion. "All Jews should be sterilized", he said, was the kind of opinion that was egregious and inexcusable. At that point, a student stormed out. I assumed it was some kind of free-speech defender, rushing out to fetch Noam Chomsky (who waits out in the car for just such an eventuality), but, no - it was a student convinced that Johnston had just asserted that Jews should be sterilized. Sarah Grunfeld immediately contacted a campus Israel advocacy group, and it immediately sent out news releases calling for his prompt dismissal. 

The best part of this whole story isn't that some poor man who'd really rather be thinking about your Self and its Culture and Society was plunged into controversy by way of a complete misunderstanding, but Grunfeld's response to being told that it was a complete misunderstanding: "The words, ‘Jews should be sterilized’ still came out of his mouth, so regardless of the context I still think that’s pretty serious.”

Actually, Bachmann and Grunfeld have at least one thing in common: both failed to consider the larger context surrounding the words they heard (i.e. some stranger at a public event with an unsubstantiated story not supported by science in the first case, and quotation marks and total condemnation in the second). What's so wonderful and inspiring is that it's the listener who decides whether something should be believed in with no cause or denounced for no reason. I'm so inspired, I might just ambush Hudak after a debate and tell him cuts to social services cause Muskoka cottages to spontaneously burn down. After all, there's a good chance he's no smarter than a potential presidential candidate or York university undergraduate. 


 
Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.


 
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We all know higher education is inherently left-wing. Professors drive Volvos and subscribe to the New Statesman, and students flirt with homosexuality while performing in experimental theatre productions put on in their friends' loft spaces.

Or so I always thought.

I spent much of the day reading articles about Michele Bachmann, the Republican presidential candidate with the plasticized face and unshakeable Christian values. Much is made of the fact that she is a lawyer, and so must be marginally more intelligent than a shoe-horn. I wondered whether law school had obliged her to at least feign the appearance of critical thought. 

And then I discovered what I should already have realized: if you're Christian and don't want to mix with heathens or Volvos or women's studies majors, you don't have to. You can, like Bachmann, attend Coburn Law School at Oral Roberts University, an "interdenominational, Bible-based, and Holy Spirit-led" institution in Oklahoma. Or, like her husband, a Christian counselor, you can attend Regent University (founded by Pat Robertson) and become educated and insightful enough to say things like this when discussing homosexuality: "Barbarians need to be educated, they need to be disciplined, and just because someone feels it or thinks it, doesn't mean we need to go down that road."

Bachmann was profoundly influenced by a Presbyterian minister named Francis Schaeffer, who argued, according to journalist Michelle Goldberg, that "our entire perception of reality depends on our worldview, and that only those with the right one can understand the true nature of things". Which is sad, when you think about it, because that means people with the wrong worldview will find it difficult to adopt the right one, because what they see will always be skewed by their wrongness.  And people with the right one can always discount the opinions of those who disagree with them because they are grounded in a flawed worldview. 

Of course, that's what I do with Michele Bachmann's opinions. I can only conclude that the habit of smug self-assurance can also be learned at godless institutions of higher learning. 


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.


 
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What have various experts had to say about the now-iconic photograph of all those Important People watching or maybe not watching the take-down of Bin Laden? Obama reveals his humility and profound presidential confidence by not needing to sit on a giant chair. The presence of Clinton and that other woman is visible proof of the increasing visibility of women in photographs of important events. The fact that Clinton is holding her hand to her mouth is visible proof that women are dangerously emotional and should not be allowed to take part in the taking of iconic photographs. Things like that.

I myself find the fact that Clinton and that other woman are in the photo profoundly disturbing. Any little girl or boy will now be able to pick up a coffee table book or commemorative plate, see that photo, and think that women can grow up to do things other than shop for small, decorative tables, hug one another, and learn Romance languages. 

Thank God for the Orthodox Jews.

Celebrating the fact that "women should be appreciated for who they are and what they do, not for what they look like" and respecting "Jewish laws of modesty", Di Tzeitung, an Orthodox Jewish paper published in Brooklyn, published the following version of the White House photo:

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I applaud their resourcefulness! If women insist on showing their faces at moments of historical import, simply airbrush them out. 

I have only one complaint: shouldn't Biden, Obama, and all those other people whose names I'm not going to bother looking up also be respected for who they are, what they do, and not what they look like? I know I find it hard to focus on the significance of the image because I'm so busy furiously objectifying Joe Biden. So here's a retouched offering I hope will satisfy everyone:
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Perfect.

Di Tzeitung has also inspired me to release a new photo of Stephen Harper's victory speech.

Before:
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After:
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Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.

 
Marilyn Davenport, Tea Party activist and elected member of the central committee of the Republican Party of Orange County, has landed herself in hot water by sending a totally harmless, inoffensive, and hilarious email to local Republican officials.

The email included this image:
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And the words: "Now you know why no birth certificate." As Davenport said when it was suggested the email might just be subtly racist, the whole thing is "much-ado-about-nothing" and she didn't realize it could be considered racist "until one or two other people tried to make this about race". (She has since apologized more apologetically, although no more convincingly.)

She's absolutely right. It would take someone aware of history, politics, and other people to realize that this could be seen as profoundly offensive. Her email inspired me to create my own amusing and unobjectionable messages:
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Now you know why no brain.
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Now you know why no soul.
The problem is, these funny jokes aren't nearly as inoffensive because they're about people who belong to a group that hasn't historically been subjugated. So I tried again:
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Now you know why so gifted.
That is SLIGHTLY more amusing and innocuous. 

And remember, even if a couple of people "make" my art about anti-conservatism or sexism, I can just say about myself what Marilyn Davenport has said about herself: "I am an imperfect Christian lady who tries her best to live a Christ-honouring life". 

How better to honour Christ than to send humourous emails that couldn't possibly offend anyone? Who can forget this classic, sent by Christ to his early followers:
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Now you know why money-changers at temple so greedy.
Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.
 
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Toxic and inflammatory right-wing rhetoric may not be directly responsible for mass murder, but that doesn't mean it's not toxic and inflammatory. Or resilient and resourceful. Today, Sarah Palin added to the already impressively offensive conservative lexicon with her use of the phrase "blood libel." 

"Blood libel", writes The New York Times, is "generally used to mean the false accusation that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals, in particular the baking of matzos for passover. That false claim was circulated for centuries to incite anti-Semitism and justify violent pogroms against Jews." Sarah Palin, courageously aligning herself with the Jews, referred to the claims that she is in some manner responsible for the carnage in Tuscon as "blood libel" in a message posted today on her Facebook page.

This is a very exciting idiomatic development, because for too long parties on both side have been relying on the generous and seemingly random use of "Hitler" as a political slur. George W. Bush was Hitler. Obama is Hitler. Now Palin is expanding and improving upon the WWII analogy by throwing the suffering of the Jews into the mix.

It was certainly unpleasant and distasteful when pundits on both sides (there are only two sides) responded to the tragedy by excitedly finger-pointing, but responding to some of the more hysterical accusations of some left-wing commentators by claiming kinship with the Jews is also unpleasant and distasteful (it would be even if Representative Gabrielle Giffords didn't happen to be Jewish). 

But my primary objection to her use of the phrase involves her choice of forum. Facebook? Isn't it possible there's a more symbolic, more creative, more "no matter how reasonable David Brooks and other moderate Republicans might be, don't forget about all those loons" way to get one's point across?

Enter the Palmetto State Armory, which is, according to (inevitably) The Huffington Post, releasing a limited edition line of AR-15 assault rifles with the words "you lie" engraved on the lower receivers. "You lie" was what Rep. Joe Wilson (R - S.C.) yelled during an Obama health-care reform speech (when the President claimed the new legislation wouldn't provide illegal immigrants with medical care).

If this weapons manufacturer can honour Joe Wilson, could another weapons manufacturer not seize this exciting opportunity to honour Sarah Palin? I think "Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible" would look just dandy on an assault rifle.


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.

 
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Christine O'Donnell (Repubican candidate for Senate in Delaware) is an inspiration. To me, and, if you are right-minded and/or a Satan-worshipper, perhaps to you too.

First she admitted on Bill Maher some time in the 90s that she dabbled in black magic when she was in high school. Her defenders defended this revelation in the following manner: "Who DIDN'T do something wacky in high school?" I know I regularly attempted to induce malign forces to manifest themselves in my friend's wood-paneled basement.

Then she made the claim that a married masturbator is adulterous because he or she can't do it without lusting after someone to whom he or she is not married. Or something. She didn't believe this when she was worshipping the Evil One on altars and such, which means that while she was maybe a bit sketchy then, she was at least more fun. I suppose that's what's often said about Satan. Which is why I totally revile her early fun-ness and embrace her self-abnegating grown-up self. 

But I don't just like her because she's a once-devil-loving masturbator-hater. She's also living proof that it's way easier to be an expert than you might have thought.

In a recent debate with her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, O'Donnell indicated she couldn't remember what the Fourteenth and Sixteenth Amendments to the Constitution were all about and MAY have revealed she wasn't all the sure what's in the First. 

Ignorance is never worrisome, but it's especially un-worrisome in this context because O'Donnell has already proved she's a constitutional scholar. She's mentioned on a number of occasions that she received a "graduate fellowship" in Constitutional Government from the Claremont Institute. 

Would you like one also? Not as difficult as you might think! Turns out the Claremont Institute is a right-wing think-tank, the graduate fellowship is not, strictly speaking, a graduate fellowship, and the whole thing lasted exactly one week.

This has filled me with hope. I've always wanted to be a cardiac surgeon. Now, thanks to the folks at the Cavy Institute, I have a fellowship in Cardiac Surgery Preparedness. The fact that the Cavy Institute was founded by Benson and Stabler, my guinea pigs, does not in any way call this honour into question, as they are completely dedicated to the Life of the Mind.
Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.


 
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Hurray for Jim DeMint! The courageously outspoken senator from South Carolina has enriched the national discourse yet again by reminding us of his courageous outspokenness of six years ago

What kind of statement does not grow stale with age? Why, the one that expresses the sentiment that gays should not be allowed to be teachers, of course.

A number of years ago, DeMint said just that, and he was viciously criticized by homemade-seitan-loving, Islamic-extremist-supporting Democrats (we all know that Republicans hate gays, Democrats love them, and libertarians don't mind them as long as they're not taking up room in their underground bunkers). 

Now he's revealed that while most people, cowed by the prospect of retaliation from vicious hippie types, remained silent after he was taken to task for his unabashed truth-telling, hordes of the secretly brave-minded came to him privately to let him know that he was not alone. As a result, his marvelous axioms are once again before the public eye.


Only one thing interferes with my enjoyment of the first of DeMint's unassailable claims: it's become a bit...old. Passe. Familiar. What conservative radio host DOESN'T think that all homosexuals should be kept away from all children?

Jim DeMint, though, is not one to rest on the homophobic laurels of other boosters of straight male Boy Scout leaders. No, he's far more daring. Free-thinking. He hunts moral conclusions to the murky swamps in which they tend to hide. He doesn't just think gays should be kept out of America's flourishing educational system; he believes children should also be protected from the damaging math and English lessons of "single", straight, pregnant women who are living with common-law spouses. 

Bravo, Mr. DeMint! The morality of the young is under attack not simply from teaching-obsessed homosexuals; it's also besieged by the free-loving lifestyles of teaching-fixated women who fail to use contraception.

My only quibble with DeMint is that his argument doesn't go far enough. What about the men who've impregnated the pregnant women and insist on living with them without making them honest? What about the people who are ill-advisedly friends with either gay teachers or pregnant, unmarried teachers? 

The more I think about it, the more I think no one is sinless enough to teach our children. And this has a bright side: with no teachers and no schools, there'll be far less of a chance that kids will be forced to learn about evolution.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.