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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The Garissa terrorism attack by Al-Shabaab in Kenya, and its context

Posted 08-Apr-2015 at 03:23 PM (15:23) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Six days ago, Al Shabaab gunmen entered Garissa University and murdered at least 148 people. The initial death toll was reported as 147, thus the hashtag #147NotJustANumber, which was created by Kenyans to honor the murder victims. The terrorists had taken over 700 as hostages, then let most of the Muslim students go, and ended up murdering 149, mostly Christian students aged between 19 and 23. At least one Muslim was also murdered by the Al Shabaab terrorists.

Al Shabaab is an Islamist,...
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Don't tell me you love me when you don't even know me: some Christians' hatred for atheists: @eChurchBlog, @KathySchiffer, @LisaGraas

Posted 20-Jul-2011 at 02:52 PM (14:52) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 20-Jul-2011 at 05:11 PM (17:11) by Gurdur

When I mix with Christians, it is often a topic that they are mystified and appalled by atheists flaming of them. But the hatred often enough goes both ways, and as far as I can see, historically many Christians have been very ready to express hatred of atheists in general, way before the advent of the New Atheists and their own flaming of Christians. Ironically, as an atheist, I got recently stupidly flamed by some Christians for being an atheist (in person, and on the net) - because I went to...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

The silliness pushed by Bishop Nazir-Ali and the Christian Broadcasting Council of Britain

Posted 29-Mar-2011 at 04:33 PM (16:33) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Mar-2011 at 04:46 PM (16:46) by Gurdur

I have often seen tropes around the religious blogospheres, with claims of Christians being persecuted in Britain, and less ludicrous claims of Christians being marginalized there, often blaming the mainstream media for allegedly being overly sensationalistic or even hostile. Additionally, there are more valid concerns about Christians feeling unable to do theology in public, being disregarded and ignored, or even feeling a hostile reception. There's a lot to say about all of that, but one main...
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The murders in Pakistan just go on and on and on and on; attack on Sufi shrine, Akbarpura, Nowshera District, eleven dead

Posted 05-Mar-2011 at 04:23 AM (04:23) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 05-Mar-2011 at 06:50 AM (06:50) by Gurdur

At least eleven people have been killed, and thirty-seven more injured, by an explosives attack on a mosque, at the Akhond Panjo Baba shrine in the village of Akbarpura in the Nowshera District, Pakistan. The attack came during the distribution of food after prayers.

The significance of this is that the mosque and shrine are Sufi Muslim. The Islam of the terrorists is often Barelvi, Deobandi (which both belong to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam) or similar.

All moderates...
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The non-mystifyingly inadequate Christian response to the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti

Posted 04-Mar-2011 at 02:42 AM (02:42) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 04-Mar-2011 at 04:21 PM (16:21) by Gurdur

There is a worryingly inadequate Christian response to the murder of the Pakistani Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, but I think it's unfortunately clear why that response is inadequate, and I shall discuss that here, though I am basically confining myself to discussing British Christians here. Please read this explanatory blog post first if you haven't already read it. And if you think I am being too heavy on Christians, wait till tomorrow when I get stuck into atheists. Because as an atheist...
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British Christian tribalism, #1

Posted 04-Mar-2011 at 02:37 AM (02:37) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 04-Mar-2011 at 03:14 AM (03:14) by Gurdur

After a conversation on Twitter with Bishop Alan Wilson and @tree_and_leaf, I've slightly changed my new blog post, and I am adding this one to explain more. My new blog post was originally on the inadequate Christian response to the sad events in Pakistan, but after conversation I realised it fits in with something else I wanted to say, that being what I see as wider problems in the overall psyche of Christians. In this first part, I will be discussing self-imposed ghetto mentality, artificial...
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More news on the Pakistan situation after the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti

Posted 03-Mar-2011 at 05:54 PM (17:54) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Mar-2011 at 06:24 PM (18:24) by Gurdur

The situation regarding Bhatti's murder still leaves a lot of big questions open; allegedly, Shahbaz Bhatti had told his security detail to take the time off, but the murderers numbered a well-equipped team of at the very least three (and more likely at least five, including necessary spotters and so on), and they knew exactly where to find Bhatti, and when, and knew when to attack - i.e. when no security were around. So how exactly did they know that? We already know the security around Taseer...
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Moderates holding emergency meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, following murder of Shahbaz Bhatti; vigils held outside press clubs

Posted 02-Mar-2011 at 03:57 PM (15:57) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 02-Mar-2011 at 05:20 PM (17:20) by Gurdur

Moderates inside Pakistan are holding an emergency meeting right now in Islamabad following the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities in the Pakistani government. It is essential to realise just how much pressure is being placed upon moderates of all stripes inside Pakistan, through threats, intimidation, lynchings and other murders.

Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities, was murdered today; he was a Christian, but was supported by many moderate Muslims, like Salmaan Taseer,...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Criticizing myself on how to define faith

Posted 19-Nov-2010 at 01:59 AM (01:59) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

In a previous blog post of mine, I wrote:

" .... I've seen Christians twist themselves into terrible knots on just what "faith" is, usually in response to atheist criticism, and try illegitimate tactics in reply, as for example redefining faith in a very trivial sense as just some form of trust based on experience. That is a tactic that trivializes both faith and religion, and it simply is bogus from one end to the other -- but I'll get into the specifics of that soon all by itself...
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And on correcting myself on Pope Pius XII

Posted 09-Nov-2010 at 04:13 AM (04:13) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 09-Nov-2010 at 08:34 AM (08:34) by Gurdur

A while back, I blogged on the visit of Pope Benedict XVI (Ratzinger) to Britain earlier this year, and a rather inflammatory speech he made. In the comments thread under that blog post, we had quite a good and wide-ranging discussion of various issues; a commentator named Foxymoron (I do not know why, OK?) came up with some remarks about any alleged Fascist sympathies of Pope Pius XII being wildly exaggerated (as in, for example, Richard Dawkins' remarks about the "Nazi Pope", etc.). And last night...
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Why do I wear my atheist label upfront? And so what can be wrong then with religion?

Posted 07-Nov-2010 at 06:14 AM (06:14) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 19-Nov-2010 at 02:45 AM (02:45) by Gurdur

If you look through my blog you will see I'm usually far more concerned about atheism, rather than religion, and that I make rigorous scrutiny at times of the antics of some atheists. There are periods where I don't tackle religion at all. So exactly why do I find religion can sometimes be not terribly good, and why am I so upfront about being an atheist? Now I am going to answer the questions mostly from my own experience, mostly not from all the examples abounding in history and the press. And...
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Always talking about the relationship; Christians, the Bible, and so on

Posted 27-Oct-2010 at 01:53 PM (13:53) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 27-Oct-2010 at 02:02 PM (14:02) by Gurdur

If you're ever in a relationship with someone, and they keep bopping up to you and complaining, "I'm not happy about the relationship", at some stage you're really going to want to thwack them over the head hard and ask them, "Do you think you could possibly be a bit more specific and a bit more helpful?" If they can't get more specific and actually cooperative, you're going to be fully in your rights to see them as being very damned egocentric, narcissistic and simply using you. Anyone who keeps...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Did Peter Kropotkin's writings influence George Orwell, specifically on "Animal Farm"? Mutualism, cooperation, altruism, Social Darwinism

Posted 02-Oct-2010 at 10:54 AM (10:54) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 02-Oct-2010 at 05:46 PM (17:46) by Gurdur

Muddleglum brought up an interesting question as to whether the writings of Peter Kropotkin influenced the writings of George Orwell. It's a question that is not only interesting in its own light, but also one that reminds me that certain debates among atheists and others are in fact quite old.

Peter (Pyotr) Alexeyevich Kropotkin (Russian: Пётр Алексеевич Кропоткин)...
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Cultural inheritance of moral values: reactions of the Church Mouse, Archbishop Cranmer and others to the Ed Miliband / Jeremy Paxman interview

Posted 01-Oct-2010 at 03:37 PM (15:37) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 01-Oct-2010 at 04:04 PM (16:04) by Gurdur

We've been talking here on my blog a bit about cultural inheritance of values and of value-systems. The initial spark was the variety of reactions to Ed Miliband saying in an interview that he is an atheist, but cultural continuing inheritance of values is a worry for many from many totally different directions. That whole conversation is a very interesting one with many different angles to follow up.

Yes, "Christian" values form a great deal of cultural inheritance in many Western...
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The fascinating case of Martin Niemöller (Niemoeller), part 1

Posted 30-Sep-2010 at 05:13 AM (05:13) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 30-Sep-2010 at 04:14 PM (16:14) by Gurdur

Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (14 January 1892 – 6 March 1984; the ö = oe, so it can also be spelled Niemoeller) was a deeply interesting man, and a very good case of someone who makes full, real penance and atonement. Martin Niemöller was a Lutheran clergyman, locked up by the Nazis in Germany for a long time (for protesting against the Nazis), and he is famous for what is often presented as a poem in the form just below:
They came first for the Communists,
And I didn't speak up
...
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Sunday/Monday blogs round-up - 26 September 2010

Posted 26-Sep-2010 at 08:25 PM (20:25) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 28-Sep-2010 at 02:28 PM (14:28) by Gurdur

As usual, here are ten blog posts I found in the wider blogosphere in the last few weeks, and felt interesting or worthy, and all quite random - keep in mind, I may totally disagree with any one blog post mentioned here, but I felt it worthy of mention.

First off, combining two of my favourite things*. Women and malaria research in the 21st century, as done on the PLoS Medicine Community Blog. As someone who suffered chronic malaria almost yearly throughout childhood, I'm all in favour...
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Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.

Pope Benedict XVI (Ratzinger) on "atheist extremism" and "Godlessness", Richard Dawkins on the Pope. The Reichskonkordat of 1933, the yellow star, the Holocaust

Posted 19-Sep-2010 at 09:49 PM (21:49) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 19-Sep-2010 at 11:50 PM (23:50) by Gurdur

Pope Pope Benedict XVI (Ratzinger) made a sweeping attack on "atheist extremism" and "aggressive secularism" on last Thursday as a big introduction for his Papal visit to Britain. Among a good deal else, he said, "Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live". Looking overall at his speech, the Pope was blaming godlessness...
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Everyone's feeling so abominated: the Vatican, Jerry Coyne, Ophelia Benson, Gnu atheists, all feeling terribly persecuted

Posted 16-Sep-2010 at 09:16 AM (09:16) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 16-Sep-2010 at 09:55 AM (09:55) by Gurdur

Every now and then the global irony becomes so thick that it's like the world was covered in Jello. Cardinal Walter Kasper complains that, "England is today a secularised, pluralist country. When you land at Heathrow airport, sometimes you think you have landed in a Third World country". Whoops. When the remarks get reported, Cardinal Kasper suddenly gets dropped from the Papal entourage of the visit to Britain. Whoops. Of course, Cardinal Kasper just would have to have a history of alleging persecution....
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You win some, you lose some. Anne Rice, Harriet E. Baber, deconverting, converting and Christianity

Posted 06-Aug-2010 at 12:29 AM (00:29) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 06-Aug-2010 at 12:36 AM (00:36) by Gurdur

You win some, you lose some.

The author Anne Rice wrote on her Facebook page:
Quote:
In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
Meanwhile, the philosopher Harriet E. Baber wrote in the Guardian:...
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More on alcoholism, and on Alcoholics Anonymous in regard to atheism and secularism

Posted 14-May-2010 at 09:27 AM (09:27) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-May-2010 at 09:48 AM (09:48) by Gurdur

I would just like to stress a couple of points from my last blog post (on alcoholism and on Alcoholics Anonymous) and to broaden them.

Often the alleged "spirituality" of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is used in accusations against it, yet I personally know several recovered alcholics who are longterm attenders of AA meetings, yet are still very atheist indeed. The invocation of a higher power in AA can simply mean invocation of one's own subconconcious, or just "letting go" of problems...
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