Stranger In An Even Stranger Land - blog by Gurdur

 




A blog of random jottings on events, science, renfairs, travel, reading, music, humanism, religion, atheism, and even the odd spot of gardening.

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A short, true story not really about cults and deprogramming

Posted 06-Apr-2016 at 09:23 AM (09:23) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

A long while ago, deprogramming was a real fad. People made their livings from offering it 'professionally', or from writing about it (both for and against), or from writing or politicking about the cause of the deprogramming fad, the rise of certain religious and quasi-religious cults. In response to that, and to a recent exchange on Twitter, what I offer here is a true story, and a cautionary one. All it will do is illustrate that life can be very complex, and that simple answers can be utterly...
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A new school of Islam based on ijtihad, the concept of critical thinking, rejecting extremism and fundamentalism?

Posted 21-Jan-2015 at 05:40 AM (05:40) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Jan-2015 at 07:00 AM (07:00) by Gurdur

At the end of an article on the loose collection of those who try silencing anyone who challenges extremism, Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani), an author and former Wall-Street-Journal reporter, proposed founding a new school of Islam based on ijtihad, the concept of critical thinking. Her article is here; she further gave a link to a new net site for this project, where another basic principle for this proposed new school of Islamic thought and law is given as adaab, good manners. Unfortunately, I...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Hemant Mehta (The Friendly Atheist) goes off the rails on the #Manoora case

Posted 23-Dec-2014 at 06:25 PM (18:25) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-Dec-2014 at 07:49 PM (19:49) by Gurdur

There was a very distressing incident a day or so ago. An Australian mother, Raina Thaiday, is accused of having "stabbed seven of her own nine children, and a niece. The victims ranged in age from two to fourteen". This happened within the Torres Strait Islander community in Manoora, Queensland, Australia. The mother is charged with having murdered "three of her daughters, aged 2, 11 and 12, four of her sons, aged 5, 6, 8 and 9, and her 14-year-old niece".

Psychosis happens. Look...
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Very odd religion news

Posted 11-Oct-2013 at 03:48 PM (15:48) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Just a small bit of very odd news in religion and so on. Normally, clergy are victims of murder (and of assault); it is a very high-risk occupation, leastaways in Britain, Australia and so on, owing to many targeting clergy for whatever reason. So it's a little odd to see a Kentucky clergyman, Pastor Kenneth Allen Keith, charged with triple murder, in reverse of the usual.

The report says, "A small-town pastor charged in a triple...
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Rating: 10 votes, 5.00 average.

Can a demon cause cancer of the pancreas?

Posted 14-Aug-2013 at 09:57 PM (21:57) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 15-Aug-2013 at 02:57 PM (14:57) by Gurdur

Many years ago, I knew of an ashram - a Hindu religious community open to most - where the members would undergo a ritual when confronting their own non-optimal thoughts or behaviour. They would take one of their shoes and stamp it repeatedly on the ground to rid themselves of the bad thought or habit. The theory was that the bad thoughts or habitual actions were caused by bhutis (singular bhuti; see the note below the post, please), and that the ritual stamping would drive out the demon. Thereby...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Actually meeting ArchDruid Eileen (Gerrarrdus)

Posted 02-Aug-2013 at 08:58 AM (08:58) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Before going to London, I tweeted and blogged as I most often do a general invitation to anyone interested in a meet-up. You could have knocked me down with a feather when @Gerrarrdus answered with an arrangement for a meet-up. He is a CofE Anglican blogger responsible for the creation of @ArchDruidEileen and the blog "The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley", full of whimsy, satire and Thomas Hardy. I always thought his real identity was super-secret, but he tells me it isn't, so here are two photographs...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

The eternal cyclic rebirth of Satan and evil

Posted 28-Jun-2013 at 08:34 PM (20:34) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 28-Jun-2013 at 09:01 PM (21:01) by Gurdur

Give the Devil his due; he can constantly reappear in the most surprising ways. The Devil, Satan, Shatain, and under many other names is a figure who appears in many belief systems. Andrew Delbanco, who is now the Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, is the author of a book now out a fair while, but very well-worth reading: "The Death of Satan: How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil" (USA hardcover and paperback, British hardcover and paperback editions). In...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Why the strange absence of both science and theology in Game Of Thrones?

Posted 18-May-2013 at 03:01 AM (03:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 24-Aug-2013 at 10:04 PM (22:04) by Gurdur

Game of Thrones is a very readable series of books by George R. R. Martin, and has also been filmed as a series by HBO, now into Season 3. The book series is more correctly known as "A Song Of Ice And Fire", but after the HBO series more commonly known as Game of Thrones (GoT). In the fantasy, the land of Westeros has been thoroughly settled for over 5,000 years - a significantly long time, which gives emphasis to the omissions in it I wish to point out. Iron and steel seem to have been in manufacture...
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Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.

Death of an ignorant peasant woman, survivor of a witch-hunt

Posted 14-Apr-2013 at 05:20 AM (05:20) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Apr-2013 at 04:58 PM (16:58) by Gurdur

On Sept. 7, 2010, Delfina Alvarez Cruz Selgado, a 42-years-old Mayan mother of five, became the target of witch-hunts - some face-to-face, one being police-action prompted against her, and another being online. Delfina originally came from a village, but then lived in the town of Punta Gorda, in the Toledo district, Belize, in a house she had built herself out of scraps scrounged from garbage-dumps around town. Her name wasn't even Delfina Alvarez Selgado, but that is how it was entered in the...
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Tax Justice in Britain and internationally - dealing with tax avoidance & evasion, poverty, injustice

Posted 12-Sep-2012 at 06:44 PM (18:44) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 12-Sep-2012 at 07:06 PM (19:06) by Gurdur

In Britain, a new campaign is starting, one aimed at focusing on tax injustice - the problems of large corporations and the very wealthy avoiding (legally) or evading (illegally) tax, thus causing economic injustice both at home and for developing nations, especially at a time where the economy is threatened by the ongoing credit- and banking-crises affecting the West. This new campaign is being promoted through use of a travelling bus, on the Tax Justice Tour. It will all start tomorrow with a...
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Islamism resurgent? Events in Libya and Egypt on 9/11

Posted 12-Sep-2012 at 02:05 PM (14:05) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Sep-2012 at 12:12 AM (00:12) by Never (fix date to American)

Sad news from Libya, apparently the American ambassador has been killed there. The murder of the ambassador happened yesterday, on 11 September, 2012, during a protest outside the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Two to three security staff of the ambasador's were apparently also murdered, and three members of Libyan security forces were injured. On the same day there were also large protests outside the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt. An Egyptian blogger, @Zeinobia, has raised the point...
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Rating: 13 votes, 5.00 average.

So why did James E. Holmes murder twelve people in a cinema at a Batman movie?

Posted 21-Jul-2012 at 12:55 PM (12:55) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 02-Aug-2012 at 01:33 PM (13:33) by Gurdur

People aren't usually machines. They make choices. Was James Eagan Holmes * insane, driven by madness? He was born on December 13, 1987; on midnight of July 19 and the early morning of July 20, 2012, he killed 12 people and injured another 59 in a movie theater in Denver, Colorado, at a showing of the latest Batman film, a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. Was he insane? Let's tackle the difficult part first.

The blogger The Last Psychiatrist once said in connection to...
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Reporting on the Church of England synod in July - BYOC, Bring Your Own Collaboration

Posted 30-Jun-2012 at 07:52 PM (19:52) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 30-Jun-2012 at 07:57 PM (19:57) by Gurdur

As you will know, I will travel to York and around about, Britain, in July, to report/blog on the CofE synod, and to meet as many people as I can and whom would like to meet me. There are a fair few things to note in connection with this:
I will have to make a major effort in reporting properly, and that means all sorts of things needing done or tackled. I can very much use your help to explain to me what is going on, what something means, who and what someone is.

Bring Your...
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LOL, post-atheism redux. The Empire strikes back, well, at least it tries to.

Posted 27-Jun-2012 at 04:58 PM (16:58) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 27-Jun-2012 at 05:15 PM (17:15) by Gurdur

Into every life a little rain must fall, but sometimes that rain is quite refreshing and welcome. A while back - we're talking 28 April this year here - I did a blog post on the Post-Atheism Phenomenon, and then I simply let it completely drop from mind, as a nonimportant thang. Just a couple of days ago, I noticed angry flamers flaming in inadequate ways, so I looked for the source, and it turns out that the board X I mentioned in that old blog post of mine had finally woken up and noticed my blog...
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Rating: 18 votes, 5.00 average.

Preliminary report on the Cologne (Koeln) 2012 European Atheist Convention, Germany

Posted 26-May-2012 at 04:01 PM (16:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 27-May-2012 at 02:20 AM (02:20) by Gurdur

I went to the 2012 European Atheist Convention in Cologne (Köln, a.k.a. Koeln), Germany, yesterday, and will go again today (if I can; other jobs are pressing too) and tomorrow. It's a bit of a mixed bag, and this is only a preliminary report; I'll blog more in depth on aspects later. You can find the convention schedule here. Embedded here are two audio clips I made, of the speeches by Dan Parker and PZ Myers. I didn't get to do more recordings, but there was a video team at the convention, and...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Who owns atheism? Trouble and exclusivism within the atheist movement today

Posted 28-Apr-2012 at 09:46 AM (09:46) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-May-2012 at 05:32 AM (05:32) by Gurdur

Atheism, despite gaining much ground in public acceptance in the USA in recent years, is having difficulties. It may be getting into trouble in other parts of the world; as possibly in Russia, for example. As for the USA, the impact zone is secularism rather than atheism itself. Jacques Berlinerblau has a new article up on the British New Humanist titled, "The death of American secularism", in which he worries about conservative backlash in the USA. The atheist movement may cease to be effectually...
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Rating: 8 votes, 5.00 average.

Totally bizarre and utterly untrue: claims by Pastor Steven L. Anderson about Germany

Posted 28-Apr-2012 at 08:43 AM (08:43) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Apr-2012 at 09:13 AM (09:13) by Gurdur

By random chance, I was reading through the blog of Rev. Bosco Peters, an Anglican in New Zealand. He has some very funny posts, including one on Song Of Solomon pick-up lines, and he appears to have quite a sense of humour himself (he's on Twitter under @Liturgy). He had a post that included a video from Pastor Steven L. Anderson, which I watched, and which mindboggled me. In that video, Pastor Steven L. Anderson claims men are officially prohibited from pissing standing up in public restrooms...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

The weird post-atheist phenomenon

Posted 28-Apr-2012 at 04:07 AM (04:07) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-May-2012 at 05:30 AM (05:30) by Gurdur

I'm currently watching a bulletin-board destroy itself very slowly. I watch not out of horror, as I did with the old RDFRS board, but this time round out of sheer amusement; it's a punishment for them fit for the crime. The bulletin-board in question - call it say X, for want of a name - is made up largely of atheists but with a fair smattering of Christians and general whatevers who migrated from other boards. Most of these folks take great, oft-voiced pride in being "post-atheist", that is, they're...
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Malcolm Bowden gets his jollies from others' sufferings, claiming mental illnesses are only a sin of pride

Posted 26-Apr-2012 at 01:29 PM (13:29) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Apr-2012 at 01:52 PM (13:52) by Gurdur

Malcolm Bowden is a man who does not seem to have any medical training at all. That doesn't stop him dictating on medical issues; like someone with no experience nor knowledge telling you what to do with your appendix, you would be very well advised to be very wary of him. Bowden, a self-declared Evangelical Christian, has a strange website up advertising many of his off-the-wall opinions, ranging from on geocentricity of all things, to Young Earth Creationism, to stellar parallax and redshift variations,...
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Support the nuns! #WhatSistersMeanToMe

Posted 23-Apr-2012 at 03:34 PM (15:34) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-Apr-2012 at 04:17 PM (16:17) by Gurdur

In one of those things that one never dreams one would tweet, and therefore does with extra vigour when one does, I'm going to tweet in a moment to support nuns. The problem is the Vatican, the target of the week for the Vatican is American nuns using their brains and their individual consciences. See this here in explanation; as to what can be done in real, practical support of people including nuns actually using their consciences, I do not yet know, but one can at least spread the word for the...
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