Thursday, December 27, 2007

Spoiler Alert: Atheists bitter, annoying

Ever complain about how Hollywood is just overrun with Christian moralizing? Yeah, me neither. Then again, neither you nor I write for the Canadian press. I would say the guy is a moron (okay, I still will), but he's more likely writing in blatant bad faith (um, pun kinda intended?). In Hollywood, he concludes, "even the gentlest criticisms of church and faith are touchy." Right... because I can't for the life of me remember a movie in which believers were portrayed as intolerant backwards hicks, hypocriticial moneygrubbing sinners, sinister mafia killers, close-minded churchgoing repressives, immature naifs ripe for sexual awakening, child-raping closet-cases, mindless robots, or zombie monster alien sadists from another dimension out to harsh our mellow - can you?

The real story here is the atheist columnist's incredible bitterness over the recent box-office success of a small handful of pro-faith movies (movies which until very recently had to be independently financed, with Hollywood only reluctantly getting in on the act as it finally realized money can be made from movies which don't blatantly insult their audiences), and the terrible showing of the hugely-hyped, viciously anti-Christian Golden Compass movie. Also, his feelings are apparently still hurt from reading Frankenstein in high school (I just thanked God he didn't start ranting about Brave New World while he was at it!).

And did he really have to go and ruin the ending? What a jerk.

If you'd like to read about faith and film from someone who actually knows what she's talking about, see here.

UPDATE: A relevant list.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Rant - Profanity Warning

I just spent an entire evening with a person who drives a hybrid Lexus. I am not in a good mood.

I have refrained from vulgarity in this blog so far (well, more or less). Well, I have just about had it this Christmas, and maybe I've been reading too much Rachel Lucas (though, to be honest, there can be no such thing), but the gloves are coming off right now. I apologize in advance for offending your sensibilities.

So, have you spoken out about how commercial Christmas has been getting lately? Have you commiserated with friends over the loss of the true meaning of Christmas? Have you rolled your eyes at all the advertisements and looked reproachfully at the people standing in line for hours at the stores? Have you written a letter to the local paper, advising us to remember that the season is about love, not gifts? Perhaps even suggested doing away with presents entirely, or giving them to charity instead?

If so, I'd like you to do something for me. Look around your house for something Christmasy, but not too commercial. Something really true to the genuine spirit of the season. A pine cone, a candy cane, an ornament, a cross, a little Baby Jesus figurine, whatever you see fit. Anything works, as long as it's pointy. Now, what I'd like for you to do is, I want you to take that object, and I'd like you to please SHOVE IT UP YOUR BUTT, YOU ANNOYING RETARD.

I swear to God, the next time I hear someone, full of smug, holier-than-thou condescension, complaining about the commercialization of Christmas, I will take their I-Pod (because you just know they have an I-Pod) and I will shove it so far down their throat they'll be crapping cute little earbuds into the new year. You do not even want to know what I'd like to do to this guy (hint: it involves a razor-sharp credit card, and his nipples).

I think I finally snapped when my local paper's idiot cartoonist drew Santa's sleigh with a Visa logo on it. How awfully clever! How subversive! How original! Hey, local cartoonist: GO FUCK YOURSELF.

Folks, you know what? WE GET IT. WE KNOW. Christmas is not about presents. It's about Jesus, and being with family and loved ones, and about love and kindness and all sorts of other wonderful, non-commercial things. But there is nothing wrong with giving people presents. IT'S NICE. You are not being a pawn of the capitalist system if you give someone a Macy's gift card; if you think so, I'm very sorry to say, but you are an annoying killjoy dumbass. EVERYBODY KNOWS being with those you love is the most important thing. But, if you can afford it, giving people stuff is also - I loathe to repeat myself - nice. I really enjoy buying presents for the people I love. Getting something neat makes them happy, and seeing them happy makes me happy. And, presumably, vice-versa. Deal with it, you jerkoffs.

Reminds me of that dumb Frank Capra movie (no, not that one, this one). Nobody actually thinks work is more important than those you love. Nobody actually thinks toys are more important than those you love. But you work because you need to support those you love, and if you've got some extra left over, you buy them toys because it makes you happy to see a smile on their faces.

I am willing to concede that the criticism of Christmas commercialism may have been valid the first time, perhaps even the first dozen or so times. Not anymore, not by a longshot. I would even go so far as to say that today, well past its millionth iteration, it has lost all trace of sincerity. I honestly do not believe the people making these complaints truly give a damn about the true meaning of Christmas. I think they are sad, bitter, lonely, unloved, quite possibly deranged individuals who are deliberately trying to ruin the holidays for the rest of us. In a word, grinches. Partly to display their superiority, partly because the sight of happy, well-fed Americans and Canadians (in a world full of starving Africans!) makes them sick.

So, to all those complaining about how Christmas is being ruined, here is my message to you. You want to know what really ruins Christmas? Assholes complaining about how much Christmas is being ruined. SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP. And Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jesus: So Hot Right Now

Let me start out by saying that, despite my love for Flannery O'Connor, I know very little about Christianity. Not much more than I've picked up from the occasional Christmas song and the Chronicles of Narnia, and that's about it. In short, I'm not the first person you'd come to if you wanted to learn the fundamentals of the faith, not by a long shot. But that's exactly what I had to teach a couple weeks ago.

I was supposed to tutor this Korean kid in American history, which I know (more or less...). But there was some kinda mix-up, what with his parents not understanding English and me not understanding Korean, and so I found myself teaching him world history instead. And, as it happened, the chapter his class was working on was The Rise of Christianity. I gave it a shot, I figure why not - as Evelyn Waugh put it in equally absurd circumstances, it's amazing what one can teach when one tries.

Dude didn't know a thing about Jesus. Not. A. Thing. Never heard of the crucifixion or resurrection or anything. So I had to teach him. I wish I could show you the scrap paper, with my hastily-scrawled stick figure Messiah (sure, drawing stick figures is easy, you might say - but try drawing a stick figure Jesus on top of a crucifix! No simple feat, let me tell ya), my Jew-Christian diagrams, my Old Testament-New Testament bullet point comparisons, I'm telling you, it was great. Anyway, I enjoyed it, but I don't think it went through.

The best part is what he wore, around his neck, every single day, to each of our lessons: yep, you guessed it, a cross. A shiny silver one. So when I mention Jesus' name for the first time and meet a blank stare, I figure maybe I was speaking too fast, so I slow down and point to his neck and say, "You know, Jesus Christ." No hint of understanding. Rather flummoxed now, I ask, "Why are you wearing a cross if you don't know who Jesus is?" Now it's his turn to look at me like I'm an idiot. His reply? "Oh, this is just for fashion."

UPDATE: Well, at least I'm not the only teacher ignorant about Christianity. What a relief!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Very Interesting

I'm not the world's biggest fan of Canadian law, to put it mildly, but the Supreme Court just came out with a pretty darn interesting ruling you could talk me into liking. The case is about some Orthodox Jews, but, with some luck and a bit of elbow grease, it might one day be used to rule against the far more serious and widespread misogyny of a certain other religion...

Here's the ruling if you'd like to see for yourself. The question is whether Canadian courts have any say over Jewish divorce practices - specifically, the awful Orthodox rule whereby a woman cannot get a (religious) divorce and remarry in the faith without the husband's permission (as the ruling explains, this permission is often used as a bargaining chip by the man to get concessions from the woman in the civil divorce). In this case, the man (a real s.o.b. by the looks of it) signed a contract with the woman promising he would release her from the marriage after the civil divorce, but then refused to do so, and said the courts had no right to enforce the contract, since it was a question of his religious freedom. Today, the Supreme Court stood up for women's rights and told him exactly where he could shove that religious freedom.

Key lines from the decision:
"The claim to religious freedom must be balanced and reconciled with countervailing rights, values, and harm, including the extent to which it is compatible with Canada’s fundamental values." (the Court defending Canada's fundamental values??? please, nobody pinch me - if this is a dream, I don't want to wake up)
"Any impairment to the husband’s religious freedom is significantly outweighed by the harm both to the wife personally and to the public’s interest in protecting fundamental values such as equality rights and autonomous choice in marriage and divorce."

Meanwhile, the dissent puts up a warning flag right away by invoking the loathful m-word: "Canada’s adoption of multiculturalism and attachment to the fundamental values of freedom of conscience and religion and of the right to equality guarantee to all Canadians that the courts will remain neutral where religious precepts are concerned."

The other big warning flag is that he concludes with a quote from Gandhi. I have few hard and fast rules about life, but one of them is that anyone who concludes with a quote from Gandhi is a moron.

Though, to give the dissenter some credit, he does somehow talk himself into seeing his dissent as protecting a woman's right not to wear the hijab. He writes, "The courts may not use their secular power to penalize a [...] refusal to wear the veil." I would counter that he's just framing the issue wrong here; the question wouldn't ever be whether the court can intervene to punish a woman's refusal to wear the veil, but, in accordance with Canadian (and not multicultural) values, whether the court can intervene to protect her from having to wear the veil and submit. I think that this ruling will certainly help make such a legal attack on the hijab possible.

But then again, like I said, I'm no judge and will never be, so what do I know? With the Supreme Court's track record, they'll probably make an exception for Islam and use this ruling to force Catholic ordination of transgendered atheists.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Let the bastard go

If you don't make even the slightest effort to house-break your puppy, is it right to punish him when he pees on your bed? I say no. As Cesar Millan could tell you, when dealing with animals and other primitive retards, it is your responsibility to strictly outline what is acceptable and what is not.

I think fairness requires Canada to adopt a similar standard in the case of the evil bastard who murdered his daughter. As hinted here, no effort was made before the murder by Canadian society or laws to impose Western values on the man. Just the opposite, in fact - he and his 'diverse' traditions were welcomed with open arms, invited to thrive in multicultural bliss. How can we punish him for simply doing what we've been encouraging him to do since he got here - that is to say, holding on to his traditional Muslim (i.e. wife-beating, honor-killing) values?

Some of you will respond that this, this very case, is our opportunity to assert ourselves, to make an example of him. Applesauce. This is just one extreme case, a murder. The message we'll be sending is 'be careful, don't hit them too hard.' The number of burqas and hijabs will only rise, since I remain convinced that their real purpose is to hide the bruises. Though I may be too charitable: the honor killings would likely continue, but now the unassimilated among us will know better than to call the cops afterwards (or to stage the scene as a hate-crime, complete with hastily-scrawled Bible verses, if they do).

No, if I were the judge, I would rule something like this: "The defendant is not guilty, he was simply exercising the religious freedom promised him by his adopted country. If Canada does not wish for its citizens to practice Islamic traditions, it must make such a statement firmly and clearly; otherwise, punishing an honor-killing would be as unjust as punishing a Christian for being literate (well, bad example there, but you see what I mean). Until Canada adopts serious measures to protect its liberal values on a society-wide level (I would suggest a ban on the hijab, for starters), killers like this goat-humper cannot in good faith be held responsible for their actions. He did nothing but live the Canadian dream."

And that's all you need to know about why I'm never gonna be a judge.

Catching Up

Very slowly catching up on my blog reading. This is hilarious. Poor Moxie; as much as it enlivens her blog and radio show, she sure does live in a messed-up neighborhood.

And I was going to write a rant about the self-service check-in at airports (I spent more than 30 hours in the air this past weekend, no joke), but Prof Althouse beat me to it. I will grant that the Vancouver Airport is simply wonderful, and the people there super-helpful. But Montreal's Trudeau airport? Oh dear Lord. In addition to being incredibly ugly, it's full of super-rude people just like in the Prof's post (except, even worse, they're French!). Anyway, all of us poor travellers go to line up at the counter as usual, but the lady tells us all to scram, to go use the computerized check-in (used to be you could choose to use the counter if you wanted to, but no more). And then we even had to tag our own bags while the lady just stood there and watched us like we were idiots (which, when it comes to checking baggage, I am - since, unlike that lady, it's not my damn job!). Naturally, between self-check computer issues and sticker trouble (yes, yes, feel free to bust out the '..and you went to Harvard???' line, but the instructions were confusing, I tell you! there was a thin layer on top of the adhesive that said in one corner 'Do Not Stick Here,' so I didn't - I took that layer off before sticking. Apparently, this is wrong), most people ended up having to go line up at the counter for help anyway. Totally absurd experience.

Well, that's all the catching up for now, goodnight!

UPDATE: I almost forgot (um, language warning):

Black Snake Moan

Well, I'll give it an A for effort and a D for execution. By effort, I mean I think it tries to create a Southern Gothic feel and to pass along a Christian, conservative message (and any movie that features an anti-abortion blues number sung by Samuel L. Jackson can't be all bad!). But a D for execution, cuz Flannery O'Connor it ain't. She had herself a real pair, for one, and this movie just doesn't. It chickens out in its Christianity, watering it down with p.c. amateur psychobabble and let's-talk-about-how-we-feel therapy (i mean, literally, therapy - one of the final scenes could have come straight out of Dr. Melfi's office), and no amount of religious symbolism can redeem that. Also, the whole white-guy-really-into-blues-music-because-it's-just-so-damn-real thing can get pretty patronizing and annoying sometimes (see Zeppelin, Led). Plus, it way overdoes the whole Christina-Ricci-writhing-sluttily-on-the-floor-thing (almost as much as I'm currently overdoing the whole connecting-all-my-words-with-dashes thing) and basically ends up glamorizing what it set out to condemn (though, let's be honest, that's a flaw I could live with...). Oh, and Justin Timberlake is in it for some reason.

But, it is Hollywood after all, and if there has to be exploitation and huggery alongside the salvation, well, it's better than the morality they usually give us - that is to say, better than nothing.

And, yes, the music is great. They have Ricci sing this, I leave you with another version:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


So this is what it's come to. A man strangles his beautiful, outgoing daughter to death because she wouldn't wear the hijab. Not in Saudi Arabia, or Sudan, or the suburbs of Paris - no, right here, in Canada.

The spin has already begun among the Muslim groups and the press (I watched CTV news tonight, Lloyd Robertson and co. spent maybe a minute on it, downplaying it as much as possible, of course).

I'll refrain from adding my own spin. I'm in shock. Despite all that I've written, I still cannot believe that this has happened. In Mississauga, for Christ's sake! I just can't get over it. Mississauga. Jesus.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


It snowed yesterday. A lot. I'm back home in Montreal, we live right next to some woods, and it was bee-yoo-tiful. I spent an hour playing with the dog, which was hilarious. He's a big German shepherd, but the snow came all the way up to his belly, so he can't move his legs to run, he has to take these intense leaps that get him maybe half-a-foot forward at a time. It slows him down a lot, so winter is the only chance I get of catching up to him, and we have some pretty intense wrestling matches for the tennis ball in the deep powder, lots of thrown elbows and biting (on both sides), ending invariably with losing the ball completely in some huge white pile.

Then I spent three hours shoveling snow, which, as long as it's not too cold (and it wasn't), is pretty much my favorite thing ever. Yes, shoveling snow is fun! It's great exercise, zen relaxation, and intense natural beauty all rolled up into one wonderful, hot-chocolate-anticipating snowball o' fun.

Writing all of which is my roundabout way of welcoming SarahK to the north country. I like Florida a lot, but life just isn't life without a decent stab at four seasons. Being north enough to frolic in the powder with your dog, yet south enough to stay in a real country? Perfection.

Avant-garde is one way to put it...

I did not know about this. Married women in Quebec are legally forced to keep their maiden names! Chalk another one up to the Charter of Human Rights. You know, Quebecois human rights, like the right to protect your worthless, low-class, Elvis-impersonating, speedo-wearing, illiterate 'culture' by banning English stop signs, or the right to walk around wearing a Nazi uniform during WWII and then get elected prime minister.

My favorite line from that story? "'It's like collective amnesia,' she said of young women who want to go back to using their husbands' names. 'They have benefited from the struggles of their mothers and grandmothers.'" Yes, because we know that if there's one thing radical Quebec university professor feminists value, it's tradition.

Oh, and please feel free to add your own woman's-right-to-choose joke, we all know how important that surely must be to Prof Langevin.