9/11, abortion, cryonics, faith in politics, Hypatia and mobile phones
Here’s some stuff I’ve found on the Internet recently.
Stephen Howe wrote about the “reinvention of Islam” since 9/11 in New Humanist magazine. People have become defined by their religion, rather than their ethnicity, he says. He ends:
The caveat that all collective identities are potentially oppressive and dangerous, not just religious, and not least national, ones, surely requires little reiteration. Even so, personally, I’d quite like to see the past decade’s wave of ethnic cleansing reversed. That is, I have no objection at all to Muslim neighbours, friends, fellow citizens – but given the choice, on the whole I’d prefer to get rid of them, and bring back the Sylhetis and Somalis, Turks and Tunisians I used to live with.
Phones 4U has been banned from using an advertisement by the Advertising Standards Authority because an illustration of Jesus winking and giving a thumbs up was considered “disrespectful” to the Christian faith. The BBC quoted Andrew Copson of the BHA in its report, saying that the ban was “completely ridiculous”.
Click, the BBC’s programme about “the world of technology” (mostly computing, the Internet, and smart phones) had a report on the popularity of religious phone apps in Singapore, where app developers are creating software “to make the most out of religion”. Here next?
The BBC’s Radio 5 Live had an item on a report that almost two thirds of schools in England are ignoring their legal duty to provide a daily act of worship. This isn’t news, as many teachers will tell you. The law on collective worship in schools has been widely flouted for years. One of the speakers was from Accord.
The truth, if you can claim such a thing without a hotline to anyone, is that the people who are keen to bring faith groups into politics are often the ones who don’t know all that much about faith.
In the wake of Hurricane Irene, with reference to politics over the Pond, Hadley Freeman wrote in the Guardian,
To see British politicians adopting the Christian right’s misogynistic and anti-sex attitudes is frankly terrifying; a lot scarier – funnily enough – than the thought of an earthquake sent from God.
The same article referred to Nadine Dorries, who’s just failed to get her amendment to the Health and Social Care bill passed in the House of Commons. If she’d succeeded, it would have prevented abortion choice charities like the British Pregnancy Advisory Service from counselling women, who’d have been offered the services of “independent” counsellors instead, some of them from religious organisations. Dorries claimed that organisations like BPAS had a financial interest in retaining their counselling service, which was nonsense – it’s a charity! In his blog, Bad Science, Dr Ben Goldacre pointed out just one of Ms Dorries’ many errors. She’s well known for them. One wonders why the good people of Mid-Bedfordshire voted for her.
Until someone posted something on Twitter about Hypatia T-shirts from the Masters of Grok, I’d never heard of her. She was a mathematician, scientist, astronomer and philosopher who lived in Alexandria and was murdered by a mob, a fanatical Christian sect, in 415 AD.
Marking the death of Robert Ettinger, “a pioneer of the cryonics movement”, the Guardian had a poll asking if you’d like to be “brought back to life after death”. Amazingly, over half the respondents said yes. There’ve been films about this. Woody Allen’s Sleeper is full of slapstick, the most depressing is Denis Potters’s TV drama Cold Lazarus, and my favourite is Dark Star, a low budget film by John Carpenter, where the captain of a space ship is frozen after an accident involving a faulty rear seat panel. No, I wouldn’t like to be frozen thanks.