How long will it take—how many decades, how many more centuries if we’re really unlucky—before the Christianity virus just completely and utterly burns itself out? At what point will there just simply be no more use for it and we’ll all just give up the (holy) ghost once and for all, call it a day AND MOVE ON?
I don’t have a prediction to make about that—Voltaire, who died in 1778, once wrote that he thought religion would die out in twenty years time—but I can say with some assurance (and even gratitude!) that idiot Palm Springs-based televangelist Joshua Mills is doing his very best to make people shake their heads in DISBELIEF and walk out of the church, hopefully never to return. Mills has claimed in the past that God can whiten teeth better than dentists and remove wrinkles better than Botox.
Here on the Internet talk show, It’s Supernatural with Sid Roth, Mills relates the story of how God covered him in glitter in an elevator in Toronto. Three onlookers in the elevator were saved before the doors even opened again. But best of all, they reenact this “anointing”! Hilarity ensues! Sid makes George Noory seem skeptical and it’s too bad that they didn’t have Mills play himself, that was really a missed opportunity if you ask me.
Recently I saw a social media post touting a newly “stabilized” version of the infamous 1967 “Patterson-Gimlin film” of “Bigfoot.” I was astounded to find that this footage, which I assumed everyone knew had been debunked, was still making the rounds for folks wanting to believe.
Is it just that the debunking stories don’t get told as often because they aren’t nearly as interesting as the prospect of a seven-foot-tall hominid cryptid skulking the woods of Northern California having been caught on (excessively shaky, out-of-focus) film, or is it simply that there are still so many people willing to believe—even in the face of credible sources explaining their role in the fakery?
Wikipedia indicates that there are at least seven scientists who have conducted studies favorable to the Patterson-Gimlin film being legit. One wonders if these might be the same seven scientists denying global warming.
A few years back I attended a lecture by the man who claims to have produced the actual suit worn in the film. He tells a compelling story.
79-year-old Philip Morris of Charlotte, North Carolina is a magician and entrepreneur who began a costume and stage prop business in the early ‘60s, Morris Costumes, which has grown to become one of the largest costume companies in the country. In the 1960s, Morris Costumes was one of the few companies producing gorilla suits for magicians and carnivals. Morris claims that in 1967 a man called him, identifying himself as Roger Patterson, stating that he was a rodeo cowboy wanting to buy a gorilla suit for a “gag.”
According to Morris, Patterson swindled money out of investors to raise the money for the (relatively expensive for the time) $435 suit. Morris claims that Patterson promised seven different investors a 50% cut of the profits for a “Bigfoot film” he was going to produce (do the math). Through these “investors,” Patterson was able to send Morris a money order for the gorilla suit.
“I didn’t think it was a real big deal,” said Morris. “It was just another sale.”
Morris shipped the suit to Patterson.
Patterson later called Morris back asking how to make the suit more “realistic.” “He asked me to send him some extra fur and asked how to hide the zipper in the back and how to make the person in the costume look larger,” Morris said. “I told him to brush the fur over the zipper and use hair spray to hold it, and then get some football shoulder pads and sticks for the arms to give the illusion of being taller, and use stuffing to get more bulk.” And that was the last Morris heard from Patterson.
In October of 1967 Morris saw the famous footage on television and recognized his suit. “I was watching TV when I saw Patterson and his film on the news,” Morris said. “I called my wife from the other room and said, ‘Look it’s our gorilla costume.’”
Morris indicates that he didn’t initially go public with the information about the sale of the suit because he didn’t want to expose a fellow illusionist, stating: “In my mind it was a magic trick.”
He didn’t want to break the magician’s code.
Morris didn’t start speaking publicly about the suit until Patterson died in 1972. Even then, he mostly told his story at trade conventions.
Eventually, Morris’ story made its way to Bigfoot researcher Greg Long.
Greg Long’s The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story devotes an entire chapter to Morris’ claim that he provided the costume for Patterson. “I couldn’t see any motive beyond that he wanted to tell the truth,” Long said. “This was just a good story that he decided to tell.”
“Most people believe me, but there are people that are very hostile to me when I tell them it is a hoax,” Morris said. “It is like telling them Santa Claus doesn’t exist. They grew up believing it was true and do not want to admit to themselves it’s fake.”
His story seems believable, but can Morris really prove that he sold a suit to Patterson which was used to fake 59.5 seconds of jerky out-of-focus “Bigfoot” footage? I suppose not, but then again, I want to believe.
Here’s Philip Morris talking about the sale of the suit to Patterson:
A self-proclaimed “wizard” and “energy healer” named Andrew Wright from Christchurch, New Zealand has been banned from the Orana Wildlife Park after chanting and beating his chest at the gorillas. Wright’s actions enraged one of the park’s largest gorillas so much so that the gorilla charged the glass and tried to attack him.
According to gorilla keeper Rob Clifford, he told Wright to knock it off because he was clearly upsetting the gorillas with his, er, wizardry. But Wright refused to believe Clifford and thought the gorillas were reacting positively to his chanting and chest-beating.
Christchurch’s most famous wizard had a few words for Andrew Wright’s very un-wizardly behavior:
Christchurch’s most best-known wizard. His name is unknown, but he is most assuredly a wizard
“We don’t normally go out and beat our chests in front of gorilla cages,” The Wizard says. “It’s not the normal behaviour of wizards. You wouldn’t get merit points for that.”
Andrew Wright has had his membership to the park revoked indefinitely. No wizard merit points were awarded for his little display, either.
The town of Mansfield, Ohio, lies about halfway between Cleveland, on Lake Erie, and the state capital Columbus in the center of the state. The city is known for hosting the Miss Ohio pageant and as the birthplace of Luke Perry of Beverly Hills, 90210—and as the location of BibleWalk, purportedly Ohio’s only life-size wax museum.
The full name of BibleWalk is the Living Bible Museum. It has been in operation since 1983 and welcomes 40,000 curious visitors through its doors annually. The purpose of the museum is to illustrate scenes from the Bible with wax figures in dioramas, much like exhibits at the Museum of Natural History.
The museum features more than 300 figures, many of them reclaimed after having been discarded from other museums—which means that there are more than a few celebrities and famous people in the mix. When the figures “true” identities shine through the Biblical costumes, it can make for an odd experience.
Among the Hollywood movie stars you might spot in the museum are Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Taylor, John Travolta, Steve McQueen, and two figures from British royalty: Prince Philip and Prince Charles.
Julia Mott-Hardin, the director of BibleWalk, will not admit patrons if she thinks they only want to see the celebrities in this odd context: “I’ve had calls from people who wanted to take the tour, but only if I accompanied them pointing out the celebrities. I refused. The museum is about glorifying God and his work.”
Some of the figures have not been identified (if they indeed are celebrities). Feel free to guess—is that one Al Pacino? Margot Kidder? Do you spot Gloria Steinem in there?
Tom Cruise as Jesus Christ
Elizabeth Taylor, looking startled
George Harrison as God
Not the easiest to identify, but this monarch was originally John Travolta
I went to an all-girls Catholic high school. Sadly, not once did I ever catch one of the nuns who taught at my school behaving “badly” or “out of character” for someone married to Christ, but boy do I wish I would have. These nuns gave detention left and right for the dumbest, most innocuous shit ever (like my socks being the wrong shade of blue or my skirt being 1/4 of an inch too short). The nuns had it out for my ass. I was convinced they were evil robots not nice ladies doing the Lord’s bidding.
Nuns still make me nervous to this very day…
So to my surprise, I found these vintage photos of nuns “letting their habits down” and even a few of them being slightly naughty a turning point in my appreciation for nuns: Apparently they’re not ruler-slapping robots after all. I could hang with some of these nuns!
Etsy offers some truly fascinating options in the way of DIY religious paraphernalia; whether it’s chintzy Wiccan charms or chic, modern crucifixes, there are niche articles of worship for nearly every strain of spirituality. Then there is Etsy seller Zoe Jordan of Tel Aviv, Israel, whose store BeanSproutLadyJew offers handmade “Vagina Kippahs,” knitted yarmulkes of a graphically vulvar nature. Obviously, these little Semitic statement pieces are intended for the more liberal observer of Judaism.
These unique and meticulously handmade kippahs (kippot / ki-pot) are the perfect gift for the ladies in your life. Ideal for Bat Mitzvahs, Lesbian Weddings, Lady Rabbis, Feminists of the chosen variety, Midwives, Doulas and Renewalists. Also great for any-gendered and any-affiliated folks who appreciate a cheeky traditional-non-traditional way to acknowledge and REMEMBER WHERE YOU CAME FROM. It’s kind of like a high-five and a wink at your creator.
These kippot (למה? כי פות) are inspired by the fact that typically kippahs sit on the crown of the head, in the exact spot that (typically) the baby’s head first enters the world in birth. They are not intended to be irreverent but rather to embrace the wholeness and transcendent power of life.
Ok, ok, but what if you don’t see a vulva that resembles your own? Don’t worry, she takes custom orders!
Examples shown are from the birth set (of increasing dilation) but non-birth oriented kippahs are in the works as well. Kippahs can be custom-ordered and modified with regard to colour palette, anatomy, grooming particularities, size, and if you think of other variations, feel free to discuss with me.
Now I am all for more terrifying vaginal art, but doesn’t the more . . . dilated of the options defeat the purpose of the kippah, which is intended to cover the head in reverence to the creator? And far be it from me to question gynocentric interpretations of religious garb, but I just prefer my fashion—whether religious or secular—without an anus. But you go, Zoe Jordan; you have created a truly . . . unique product!
It’s not the Passover time of year, but we just couldn’t wait nine months to post this unbelievable gem uncovered by the reliably demented blog Christian Nightmares. Every good Jew knows that God used a series of plagues to basically extort the Egyptians into releasing the enslaved Israelites from captivity, leading to the Book of Exodus and countless Passover Seders.
Some company called Rite Lite decided to cash in on the Passover hysteria by selling these amazing masks for the traditional Passover trick or treating or, more likely, just around the table while the family enjoys its ritual Seder.
So many of these, ahem, “cute” masks are highly cringeworthy, esp. the “Blood,” “Boils,” and “Lice” masks. But the “First Born” mask, which depicts, well, a slain infant, is in a whole other category. According to the picture, this product was available for $14.99 at a Bed Bath and Beyond (a retail establishment a friend of mine who worked at one invariably referred to as “Bloodbath and Beyond,” a nickname that is all too appropriate for this particular product). It’s also available at Amazon.
As you can see from this gentleman’s expression, the masks are incredibly fun. (Just to clarify, that blogger has the same perspective on these masks as we do.)
Below is a closer look of the masks, taken from this large picture. I dislike learning about history or religion from children’s masks, I learn from Wikipedia! So I’ve annotated each mask with the name of the plague as described on the Wikipedia page for the Plagues of Egypt, as well as the correct order according to the same page.
In every generation there is a moment when some writer, artist, politician or whatever comes forward to announce that their generation is at the start of a revolution—some seismic shift in culture and society that will change everything for the better—forever. It’s rather like the way each generation appears to think it is the first to discover sex or sexuality and flaunts it through clothes, songs or horrendously written books.
A case in point is this roundtable discussion with a young Harlan Ellison from sometime in 1969-70, when the author declared “We’re in the midst of a revolution.”
It’s a revolution of thought, that is as important and as upending as the industrial revolution was—sociologically speaking. We’re coming into a time now when all the old “-isms” and philosophies are dying. They don’t seem to work any more.
All the things Mommy and Daddy told you and told me were true were only true in the house—the minute you get out in the street, they aren’t true any more. The kids in the ghetto have known that all their lives but now the great white middle class is learning it and it’s coming a little difficult to the older folks—which is always the way it is.
We are no longer Kansas or Los Angeles or New York—it’s the whole planet now. They got smog in the Aleutian Islands now; they got smog in Anchorage, Alaska; they got smog at the polar icecaps—can you believe it, smog at the polar icecaps. There is no place you go to hide anymore. So the day of thinking that the Thames or the English Channel or the Rocky Mountains is going to keep you safe from some ding-dong on the other side doesn’t go anymore. A nitwit in Hanoi can blow us all just as dead as a nitwit in Washington.
We’re beginning to think of ourselves not as just an ethnic animal, or a national animal, or a local or family kind of animal—we are now a planetary animal. It’s all the dreams of early science-fiction coming true.
That Ellison could have made this speech in nineties or the noughties, or indeed any decade, only shows how each generation discovers certain truths that are eternally consistent.
Humans, he continues, are now aware of a bigger picture and that by not taking responsibility for our actions—whether thoughtlessly throwing away a cigarette butt or garbage—is “screwing up the ecology.” Which is apposite considering the news of some scientists claiming Earth is on the brink of its sixth extinction.
But Ellison—in sunglasses looking like a Jordanian revolutionary—is only warming up to his theme—the importance of speculative fiction (or that dreaded word “science-fiction”) in imagining (shaping) the future. He has a very valid point—but again one that is made generation to generation-six years before this the writers of previous generations C. S. Lewis, Kingsley Amis and Brian Aldiss held an informal chat on the same subject where they agreed:
...that some science fiction really does deal with issues far more serious than those realistic fiction deals with; real problems about human destiny and so on.
Harlan Ellison is one of those very rare writers who is always inspirational or thought-provoking in everything he writes or says. Like most people, I came to his work through TV before having the greater pleasure of reading him. His seminal episodes of Outer Limits, “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier” (which James Cameron later used as a basis for Terminator), or his script for Star Trek or “The Sort of Do-It-Yourself Dreadful Affair” and “The Pieces of Fate Affair” on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. stayed with me long after viewing and were cause for my seeking out his fiction. This interview comes from just after Ellison had edited the classic volume of speculative fiction Dangerous Visions, which he hoped might lead to a revolution in the mind of its readers.
It probably did, but the revolution is always moving, changing, evolving.
The conclusion of Harlan Ellison’s talk, after the jump…
The director of a conservative policy institute in Australia has announced that he and his wife of 10 years will divorce if the Australian state recognizes the legality of gay marriage. On the surface Nick and Sarah Jensen appear to be happily married, are in love, have children—the move would be a response to the changing nature of marriage as defined by the Australian state.
Millions of married couples have watched gay marriage enter their communities and not file for divorce, mainly because they recognize that the extension of marriage to apply to homosexual couples does not threaten their own marriages as such.
It would take the director of a think tank to make a stand such as this—in other words, Nick Jensen is grandstanding in order to make a political point. It is interesting that Sarah Jensen is nowhere quoted on the subject, it would be interesting to hear more from her. Or their children.
You can also read his statement, which ran in the Canberra City News. On this page from the Sydney Morning Herald you will find snippets of an interview with Nick Jensen in which he explains his reasons for getting divorced (it was not possible to embed the video). It runs like this:
Well, once you say that marriage is detached from children and is just about love, then when three people come to the state and say, “We’re all in love,” then the state has no grounds, except on just discrimination, to say why they can’t get married. So when it becomes detached from a child’s right to a mother and a father, and the sacred institution that it is, then suddenly it becomes meaningless, and those boundaries can’t be put back into place.
When we got married all those years ago, we made an agreement with the state—when we signed that marriage certificate—and that was an agreement about what marriage was and what we were entering into, and that was, as husband and wife, as a fundamental order of creation, part of God’s intimate story with human history, man and woman, for the sake of children, faithful and for life. And so if, later on in the year, the state does go ahead and potentially change the definition of marriage or change the terms of that contract, then we can no longer partake in that new definition, unfortunately.
I think states should have a role in marriage if it is affirming what is good about marriage. I can understand why some people might be upset, but our intention isn’t to hurt anyone or focus on any individual, but really our intention is for discussing at a deeper level what marriage actually is.
Opponents of gay marriage have long trotted out “slippery slope” arguments identical to the ones Jensen uses here—Senator John Cornyn famously speculated about a marriage between a man and a box turtle. Obviously such arguments are oblivious on the subject of the way marriage has been redefined over the centuries, from a system scarcely distinguishable from organized rape and kidnappings to suit political ends to one based far more on consent. Furthermore, the inclusion of homosexual couples in the kingdom of marriage doesn’t have any relation to marriages involving three people or involving a person and a bear. (Also, there have been cultures that permitted polygamy, it’s not a gross contradiction in terms or anything, society continued to function.)
Jensen invokes these spectres because he has no good arguments and because he wants to scare his fellow citizens into supporting measures to protect “traditional” marriage.
Whenever the subject of gay marriage would come on the news, my atheistic mom would cry out to my agnostic dad—in complete facetiousness—”Oh no! Don’t you see—the gays, they’re threatening the sanctity of our marriage!!!” In this mutual joke they were both affirming the silliness of any political position that relies heavily on “sanctity” or any “sacred” quality.