Blimey. The subtitle “Archbishop sees sense, sort of” was tempting here, but I resisted it. A news item on the BBC today is titled ‘Respect Atheists’ says Cardinal. Basically, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, has called for more understanding of atheists! Wonderful. He also reportedly said: “Believers may be partly responsible for the decline in faith by losing sense of the mystery and treating God as a “fact in the world.‘” Strangely, I agree.
(From the department of tastelessly picking on the distraught and clueless)
The ever comical Sunday Times has picked up on Kate McCann showing that, despite all the evidence of human history and the immediate evidence of the last year of her life, she still has faith…
In an article titled “‘Pray like mad,’ begs tearful Kate McCann” she apparently broke down in tears at a church and urged the congregation to pray for her daughter’s return. Now, I haven’t lived on another planet this last year, so I am aware that barely has a week gone by without something from the McCann PR Machine alternately proclaiming their innocence while begging everyone pray for the return of Maddie. It is a regular occurrence.
Despite all this, despite the prayers of almost every Christian (and lots of other faiths), despite the intercession of the Pope himself, Maddie McCann is not back.
What does this tell us? For the rational it is obvious. Prayer does not work. I am sure most sane people did not need the McCann tragedy to realise that, the evidence of cripples is a good start. The same is not true of the “faithful.” These seems to be a batch of people who will deliberately fight against the evidence of their senses. For them, a years worth of praying hasn’t worked just means “pray more” and “pray harder.” Is God deaf? Has old age made him hard of hearing? Does he have a Prayer-ometer and he only acts when it gets to a certain level?
On a more general note, maybe the McCanns just have it wrong. Millions of children die or go missing the world over. Why should God listen to their selfish whining for more prayers over the prayers of (insert random other child here)?
Still, it isn’t just their belief in magic that seems weird to the sane. Look at this:
In an interview before the anniversary the couple revealed they had been given
new hope in the search by the “massive” response to their appeal for fresh
information last week.
Their team of private investigators are combing hundreds of recorded calls and
e-mails for further leads.
Gerry said: “The lines have been overwhelmed; we’ve had to call additional
What? Despite this massive response and huge amount of expenditure (they are approaching the financial turn over of a reasonable company now), they are no closer to catching the killer than they were a year ago. They spend more money on private eyes (and mediums but that is another story) than a normal police force. Yet they are still no closer.
Kate recently viewed footage from last year and said she could not recognise
Yeah, interesting. I wonder if coaching has anything to do with it.
The ultimate irony of this latest round of the McCann media train returns once more to poor old Robert Murat. Before you read on, remember the McCanns have a huge legal defence fund and are willing to sue at the slightest hint that they may have been involved…
Brian Kennedy, the home improvements tycoon backing the McCanns, admitted
yesterday that he flew to Portugal last November and spent an evening with
Robert Murat, apart from the McCanns the only other official suspect. A
source close to Kennedy said he was “gathering information”.
Kennedy’s lawyer, Ed Smethurst, approached Murat through a mutual friend and
said that Kennedy wanted to offer him a job.
But the job offer never transpired. Kennedy spent the evening with Murat and
his lawyers at his aunt’s house in Praia da Luz, discussing Madeleine’s
He left with a “flea in his ear” after being confronted over reports that
Metodo 3, the McCanns’ private investigators, had suspicions about Murat.
By Thor’s ear! The Portuguese police suspicions of the McCanns aren’t enough to avoid a court case, but a PI having “suspicions” is enough to get a rich financier to stage a fake interview so he can put a “flea in the ear” of someone who has less evidence against him than the McCanns.
Wrong. This is just plain wrong. Who said money can’t buy you justice.
(Hat tip Pharyngula)
For all those sensible people infuriated by the claims that Hitler was an atheist…
The text reads:
“The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life” (‘My New Order‘, Adolf Hitler, Proclamation of the German Nation at Berlin, February 1, 1933)
The Nazis burned books trying to teach evolution.
Does all this sound familiar?
Well, it seems that the media furore around the plight of poor, missing, Maddie McCann wont be dying down any day soon. As I have said in the past (more than once) the whole deal around this incident infuriates me. It must be interesting / infuriating / exciting lots of other people as well, because around 1/4 of all traffic to this blog last week was generated by people looking for comments about the McCanns being murderers. Not surprising really, given the massive amounts of media coverage.
First off, I am in complete agreement with the Archbishop of York that, for all intents and purposes Kate and Gerry McCann are innocent until proven guilty of murder in a court of law. Although he never said it, I will be charitable and assume that Dr Sentamu also included all other people charged with any form of crime – because that, basically, is what the law is supposed to uphold. What I may personally think about the McCanns is nothing more than my own opinion – unless by the will of Loki I am called up for Jury duty over their case (although if the Portuguese court calls me up for jury duty it would be bloody good evidence Loki existed…), nothing I think about them really matters.
The oddest thing I find about this whole saga, and I still find it odd even now, is how the presumption of innocence seems so strong towards Kate and Gerry McCann that people will go out of their way to show support for them. Total strangers, who can have had no contact with either of the McCann parents, stormed out of an Irish comedian’s act because he made jokes implying the McCann parents were murders. Foolish Patrick, if only he had stuck to jokes about race, war and so on – they are much more acceptable. People in countries across the world have put up posters “raising awareness” about missing Maddie (so obviously there is an assumption she is the last person on Earth who doesn’t need ten forms of ID to get on a plane…) and ordinary, poor, people have donated a fortune (over Â£1,000,000 so far) to support the parents in their round the world
holiday awareness raising mission.
Not to be outdone, the rich and famous have joined in with this madness. Based on nothing more than Kate McCann’s hearfelt TV appearances (and the outpourings of their professional team of spokespeople…), Richard Branson has donated Â£100,000 to set up a defence fund to ensure they “have a fair hearing.” This nearly made me choke to death. Last Sunday, the BBC reported:
“Over the last few weeks Richard has been watching events as they have unfolded,” said his spokeswoman.
“There is a whole family involved here. When the McCanns made it known that under no circumstances would they touch the Find Madeleine fund, and discussed selling their house, Richard felt something had to be done.”
Sir Richard is a father himself and the most important thing for him is that a four-year-old girl is missing, the spokeswoman added.
“If he can help a little bit to take the burden off the family and extended family in this small way, then that’s all to the good.”
Wow. I never realised Sir Richard was in the business of funding suspected criminals in their defence – to ensure they get a fair trial. Are we to assume this is purely out of the goodness of his heart, and nothing to do with the fact the McCanns are middle class, Catholic, professional (white) people who have spent the last three months all over the TV and newspapers (often saying how innocent they are, so it must be true…)? If so, there is a long list of other people, the world over, who are at risk of not getting a fair trial because they cant afford Â£100,000 on legal fees… Where shall I start?
Not to be outdone, Cheshire-based millionaire Brian Kennedy has jumped squarely on the bandwagon as well. This time, saying “he felt compelled to help” the offer reads:
He said he was providing Kate and Gerry McCann, of Rothley, Leics, with the support of his in-house lawyer and their new spokesman, Clarence Mitchell.
Wow. They have a Â£100,000 defence fund and a top flight lawyer as well as a brand new “family spokesman.” They are sure to get a fair trial now, aren’t they…
Even if you leave aside, again, the issue of what an innocent family need with a “spokesman” the whole deal is madness. These otherwise intelligent and shrewd business geniuses are jumping to support what is basically two people who are suspects in a disappearance – there aren’t even any formal charges yet! – so one has to ask what is going on here.
The cynic in me (and it is a strong cynic) thinks this is nothing more than publicity stunts for the two tycoons – Virgin are going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment and, be honest, who has even heard of Brian Kennedy in the past? I am sure if the McCann’s were not worldwide media personalities now (will they be on Big Brother one day or, more ironically, “I’m a celebrity get me out of here…”?) neither of these two would have given a hoot about their legal status, nor any possible “Unfairness” over a foreign court.
However, I may be wrong. It is entirely possible that these two gentlemen are so “family orientated” that any case involving a missing or dead child, where other family members are suspects, will inspire them to equal acts of generosity. If we look through the recent news we should see boundless cases of parents accused of a crime, claiming they are innocent and then millions being thrown at them to ensure a fair trial. Sadly this is not the case.
Today, the BBC has a short article on a teenage mother who has been remanded to appear before Norwich Crown Court, charged with Causing or Allowing the Death of her daughter. Assuming she pleads innocent, will we expect to see a defence fund in her name set up? Or does Richard Branson think, because she is a teenage mother being tried in the UK, she is not worthy of his support? Will she have to suffice with legal aid because she doesn’t own a house to threaten to sell to cover her costs?
In August, the BBC had a report about a teenage girl who went missing (Natasha Coombs) which led with the heart rending:
An insurance firm manager whose only child went missing nearly a week ago, has spoken of his “unimaginable pain” at her disappearance.
Despite this, there was no fund set up to raise awareness about her status, after she was found dead on the railway line there was no fund set up to help either the family or prevent further deaths – certainly no billionaires stepped in to help and eventually when the mother could take the loss no longer, there is still no public outpouring. Cruel though it may sound, the McCanns still have each other and two other children, Gary Coombs really does have nothing left.
Searching through the news to find similar cases is, sadly, all to easy. Almost daily there is a case where a child goes missing (or dies) and a family member is under suspicion. Unfortunately lots of these are in working class or ethnic minority households. While I am not going to suggest that we, as a nation, have such deep seated double standards that this impacts the perception, it is strange.
The question I would love to ask Sir Richard or Brian is what makes the McCann parents special? Why do they deserve this support when no one else does? If I could ask the public this, I would, but I think the answer would be a lot less coherent.
[tags]Double Standards, Catholic, Catholicism, Church, Murder, Kate McCann, Gerry McCann, Maddie McCann, Sir Richard Branson, Richard Branson, Brian Kennedy, Gary Coombs, Natasha Coombs, Killing, Violence, Society, Culture, Racism, Philosophy, Legal Aid, Trial, Fair Trial, Defence Fund, Patrick Kielty,Portugal, Portuguese police, Law[/tags]
As a result of growing up with an entirely secular background, in (at the time anyway) the very secular United Kingdom, there is a large part of me which refuses to accept that people like the posters on Teens4Christ really exist. This part of me is convinced they are just trolls, or kids who are living out a fantasy life which is a sanitised version of Dungeons and Dragons or the like.
By chance, following a link on FSTDT, I came across a thread which purports to be a poll asking atheists what they would do if they were possessed by demons. Seriously. The choices given were basically exorcism & convert to Christianity, exorcism but don’t convert, no exorcism and become friends with the demon/devil and no exorcism but don’t become friends. The choices, if honestly presented, give a scary insight into the mind of the “teen” who made this post. Bring back D&D, that’s all I can say…
To highlight my point about the sheer off-the-wall nutjobbery, this is what the conversation degenerated to: First a post by Esther:
oh my goodness I just heard on the news that a man was caught choking a three year-old girl and I guess they were doing an exerocism on her. thats so awful! I know demons are real but whenever someone says they see an angel or demon I always think there crazy. angels appeared to people all the time in the olden days in the bible so I shouldnt think that but would you guys believe if you heard someone on the news who said an angel talked to them?
And then Follower (who initiated the thread) replies with:
That’s what’s tough about Demon possessions. You have to make sure the person doesn’t have a mental condition first. Otherwise, Holy water and chanting won’t help.
Mentalists. I can only assume this is a debate between pre-teens in the manner of how secular kids will discuss if Ninjas can fight Batman. (Reassuringly, later on Follower states he is not yet of college age, hopefully some education will eventually rub off on him.)
Sadly, there is one poster, rch10007 apparently adult and mature enough to be an admin there, who seems to demonstrate that there is little chance this “younglings” will change with age. [tags]Logical Fallacy, Logic, Philosophy, Society, Culture, Atheism, Christianity, Belief, God, Anti-Atheist, Exorcism, Demons, D&D, Role Playing Games, Dungeons and Dragons, Fantasy, Ninjas, Madness, Woo, Nonsense, Weird, Possession, Catholic, Hatstand[/tags]
You might think the Catholic Church had enough to worry about with the laughably huge sums its having to drag from the contributions of the faithful to pay out to kids abused by its minions, but the Pope seems to be going for “the best defence is offence” strategy.
The Pope has been spraying papal bull^^^ in all directions, making some mockery of the concepts of ecumenical fellowship.
In Sunday’s Observer, Will Hutton compared the Pope’s recent pronouncement on Protestants to the tribally offensive behaviour of drunken Orange marchers, pissing on the Wigan train while shouting anti-Catholic rants. He referred to the Pope’s Continue reading
In case you were in any doubt about how religion can breed some major league nutcases, then you need to see:
Amazing. I love the way she starts off really sad and shocked, then her righteous anger comes to the surface and she becomes a “Christian Warrior.” She is absolutely insane.
I feel sorry for her family more than anything else.
[tags]Religion, Society, Culture, Nutcases, Religious Lunatic, God Delusion, Belief, Catholic, Anti-Atheist, Weird, Woo, Christian[/tags]
I am somewhat saddened that I came across Dinesh D’Souza’s blog at a time when I have very little spare time to make my own posts. The things D’Souza says are stunning in the bigoted idiocy they demonstrate. If I didn’t know better I would have thought it was one big joke blog written by some teenagers laughing to themselves. Sadly, this wingnut appears to be a real person.
Looking over his blog today, I stumbled upon a post titled “Good Heavens, No More Limbo?” which is another fine example of his, erm, thinking. Basically, this is a post reporting that the Catholic Church has decided to do away with the concept of Limbo (where babies went if they died before being baptised) and from now on, all babies who die go to Heaven.
Seriously. Continue reading
I’ve found a page on teacher net where the faith schools have got together to issue a statement about how necessary they are, including a proud claim that they promote community cohesion.
This is my main objection to faith schools. I don’t really care that much – except because of an obscure moral objection to lying to kids – that they teach nonsense. If school students actually paid attention to anything they were told in school it would be a novelty. I assume most of the tosh gets ignored, when it’s not required for a test, and regurgitated verbatim, without passing through the brain, when it is.
I do object to kids getting separated out into religious camps, so they grow up to see other kids as the enemy. Kids are really good at fitting into a peer group and defining non-peers as the enemy. Generally, a lot better than they are at listening to what the teachers say.
(In fact, if anything, faith schools, particularly Catholic schools, seem really good at turning out atheists. Ask any non-believer who’s been taught by priests and nuns about their schools. You will usually feel you’ve been floored as collateral damage, as a result of the tsunami of anger that splashes out.)
What do the temporarily-unified faith schools present as arguments then? Continue reading
In today’s newspapers (front page news even!), there is a bit about a nun who wrote down the Pope John Paul II’s name and was cured of Parkinson’s disease. The Catholic church is using this as one of the miracles towards JP’s saint hood. When I read it, I had to do a quick calendar check to make sure it wasn’t 1 April yet – phew. (It will be when this gets posted but never mind) I am not for one second going to doubt she had Parkinsons, nor will I doubt she is now cured.
Now, while I am glad that this nun was cured I think it is remarkably selfish of her to have asked for the cure – surely the fact she had Parkinson’s was part of God’s great plan? Is it not arrogant of her to ask to be “cured” of the same ailment John Paul II was suffering from? Is the suffering not the way God “tests” his followers?
When I read this, I couldn’t help but think of the “Why Wont God Heal Amputees?” web site. What is so special about this nun that JP2s powers were spent healing her? This is especially strange when he could have been doing so much more. 2005 was a harsh year, and surely there were millions of the faithful begging for help in one way or another. I mean, it is not as if he isn’t capable:
On June 2 2005, two months after the pontiff’s death, Marie-Simon-Pierre accepted her condition was so bad that she would have to resign from work. It was a difficult decision, being from a deeply observant Catholic family of five in northern France she had always felt a calling to serve in maternity. Her superior told her not to give up hope. “She asked me to write Jean Paul II on a piece of paper to give me strength. I didn’t want to write in front of anyone because I had such difficulties, and if someone was watching me, it would be even harder. But I wrote Jean Paul II. It was almost illegible.” Later the nun was “seized by a need to write”. It was such an unusual urge that she couldn’t even find a pen to hand. She wrote a few lines. “I looked at my writing and thought that’s funny, your writing is very readable.”
In the morning she was aware of a lack of the usual stiffness and pain. She said she felt an “inner strength”. She went to the chapel at 4am, with none of her usual difficulty walking. “I realised that my body was no longer the same. I was convinced that I was cured.
Seriously, if you were a saint, would you waste time healing nun’s in the backwaters or would you be putting paid to hunger, disease and the like all over the world?
Are saints limited in what they can do? (And if so, why and how much?). Is God a bit jealous about what powers he lets them have – if so, can some one in the Church have a word with God and tell him to unclench a little. How about the millions of people who died during that time – why couldn’t JP2 have saved them?
Maybe, just maybe, we are in fact slipping back to the eleventh century. The Catholic Church is indeed favoured by God and it’s workforce get special privileges. Time to get down to church, hand over some money and ask for a few indulgences. Obviously these guys and gals have the hotline to God and his saints, which no body else does.
It seems that no matter how hard I try (or dont try as the case may actually be), I cant avoid the madness that permates the Internet and specifically the Blogosphere. Just to get a bit of perspective, there are millions of websites, millions of blogs written by sane, “normal” people. They just aren’t as much fun…
The serendipitous wonder which has been following my bored searches on Technorati brought me to a blog by one “joannafrancis.” This really was a descent into the world of madness.
The internet has always been a hotbed for “conspiracy” lunatics of all branding, and among the big three Abrahamic religions, Jews often get a rough end of the conspriacy deal (people even try to claim General Relativity is a Jewish conspriacy), so lots of this blog is no real surprise. What is shocking, especially for a blog from what appears to be a devout Catholic(religion of compassion?) is the sheer vitriol and hatred which oozes from pretty much every word on every post.
Just to be open, the reason I think she is a Catholic is she makes the following statement: (read original)
And yet, what Catholics should realize, whether Novus Ordo, SSPX, or sedevacantist, is that these Jews from the SPLC are attacking not only our religion, but all of our ancestors as well.
As an atheist, I find it quite entertaining how much she rants about even the slightest hint of Jewishness in people (for instance, apparently Courtney Love is a Jew, based on an oblique entry in NNDB)
The post which really made me chuckle (on the assumption she reall is alone with these ideas) was made on 10 Nov 06, titled “Israeli Snipers Killing U.S. Troops?” in which she postulates the idea that Mossad or another Israeli organsiation is responsible for killing Americans in Iraq to drag the war out. It is a great post. It has every single one of the crackpot conspiracy nut hall marks in. It could be used as a teaching tool to help spot nutters.
She has some “proof” that the Israelis are involved, for example:
At the very beginning of this video clip, you see a rifle with a video camera attached to it. This weapon is made by the Rafael company, an Israeli arms manufacturer, that also makes IEDs.
So at the very least we know she has no idea at all what an IED actually is. If they were manufactured, they would not be “improvised” would they? Manufactured IEDs are called bombs and mines etc. After some nonsense about rifle mounted cameras being another sign of the Jews, she somes out with:
Mossad is a master at false flag operations, e.g., Oklahoma City, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, the July 7, 2005 London bombings, the 9-11 attacks in New York, the assassination of the Prime Minister in Beirut, the stoking of Muslim riots in France last year, the bombing of the Hassan al-Askari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, etc.
Wow. Mossad took out the World Trade Center and the London Underground. Amazing. I bet they even killed Jean Charles Menendes and just blamed it on the Metropolitan Police. I mean, he was a catholic as well wasn’t he?
The post carries on along these lines – even going as far as to say the Mossad Liaison was in charge of US troops at the time of a bombing in Fallujah. The rest of the posts on her site follow this thread. One of the other themes seems to be blaming Jews for American abortions – it all being part of a Jewish plot to kill more and more Americans.
Madness does not do her justice.