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Harlan Ellison is revolting: Speculative Fiction and the revolution of the mind
08:41 am



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…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Three nuns, one punk and an attempted exorcism
07:46 am




Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me. ~ Matthew 16:23

Here’s a short clip of three nuns attempting to pray the SATAN punk away. Anyway, the guy’s a good sport and just goes along with it. It’s sort of a dawwwwwww moment if you ask me.

via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Idiot Christian couple pledges to divorce if gay marriage is legalized
12:11 pm



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.
via Death and Taxes

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Black Power Tarot’: Beautifully illustrated tarot deck with Sun Ra, Richard Pryor and more!
10:27 am



With the seal of approval from tarot maestro Alejandro Jodorowsky, comes these beautifully illustrated tarot cards by artist Michael Eaton and arranged and edited by King Khan. “The Black Power Tarot” is a version of the Tarot De Marseilles featuring black activists, public figures, comedians, musicians and important historic figures.

The cards are quite lovely if you ask me. If you look closely you’ll see Malcolm X, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and more.

There are 21 high quality prints that come in their own box. The set is £25.00 GBP (or around $39 USD).


More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Cast that first stone with The Jesus Slingshot
04:54 am



You’ve tried church. You’ve tried prayer. You’ve even sacrificed the fatted calf, but God still won’t smite your enemies. Get The Jesus Slingshot, new from My Left Behind Toys! The Jesus Slingshot will help you do unto others before they can do unto you!

This blasphemous gravel launcher has been cropping up at least since H. R. Giger imagined Satan using a Jesus slingshot for his painting Satan I in 1977. That particular image gained notoriety as the cover for non-yodeling Swiss extreme metal band Celtic Frost’s album To Mega Therion in 1985.
More recently, Berlin-based artist Jaybo included a Jesus slingshot in his exhibition Useless.
And the Jesus slingshot has been used as a meme bait linked to the Bozar shop in Brussels.
If you’re handy with a blade, you can carve your own, otherwise, you may be lucky enough to come across one in a market for around $7.
H/T Nerdcore

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Muslim televangelist: Jerking off will make your fingers pregnant in the afterlife!
06:32 am



Once upon a time, masturbation was said to make you blind or lead to hairs growing on the palm of your hand, now it is claimed onanism will have serious consequences for men in the hereafter.

During a television interview in 2000, self-styled Muslim “televangelist” Mucahid Cihad Han told viewers that men who masturbate will find their hands pregnant in the afterlife. (What I wonder, happens to women’s hands?)

Han’s bizarre warning took place during a Q&A session with viewers when he was asked for advice by a viewer who “kept masturbating even though he was married.” Han initially looked puzzled by the question, but after the interviewer repeated the sticky question Han urged the man to “resist Satan’s temptations” and added:

“Moreover, one hadith states that those who have sexual intercourse with their hands will find their hands pregnant in the afterlife, complaining against them to God over its rights.

“If our viewer was single, I could recommend he marry, but what can I say now?”

Frankly, I’m at a loss.

When Han tweeted this interview to his 12,000 followers on Saturday, he “was mocked on Turkish social media,” according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.

In its report on the story, the paper queried Han’s interpretation:

“Istimna,” the Arabic term for masturbation that Han also referred to, is a controversial issue in Islam, as there have been varying opinions on its permissibility throughout history. The Quran has no clear reference to masturbation and the authenticity of many hadiths is questionable.

Despite Han’s assertive religious stance, only a limited number of Islamic interpretations categorize masturbation as “haram,” while most of others call it a “makruh” (disliked) act. Many of the mainstream Islamic interpretations even allow it in certain conditions, like if the act could be used to avoid the temptation of an extramarital affair.

Han, who has more than 12,000 followers on Twitter, was mocked on Turkish social media on May 25, after newspapers published his latest television “fatwa.”

“Are there any hand-gynaecologists in the afterlife? Is abortion allowed there?” one Twitter user asked, while mentioning Han’s Twitter user name.

“So you think that being pregnant is a God-given punishment?” another user asked.

We have the video of Mr. Han’s interview, but alas no subtitles and still no answer regarding women’s hands.

Via the Hurriyet Daily News.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Baptist exorcist explains why playing Dungeons & Dragons will curse your great-grandchildren
07:43 am



Dungeons & Dragons was invented in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, but it wasn’t until the early 1980s that the legendary table game became a national phenomenon worthy (just like Elvis and the Beatles) of an organized backlash from religious authorities. As would also happen to Harry Potter a generation later, some concerned parents heard the word “spells” and concluded “witchcraft” or “Satan.” Groups like Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons generated fantastic pamphlets like this one. Jack Chick got involved too (see below). Of course there was also the early Tom Hanks TV movie Mazes and Monsters that purported to tell the true tale of the 1979 disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III but got the story totally wrong (Egbert’s D&D experience was limited, and it had nothing to do with his death).

Why it took him so long we’ll never know, but Win Worley, pastor at the Hegewisch Baptist Church in Highland, Indiana, took up the cause in 1992, as seen in this video. It probably wasn’t his main gig, but this article here calls him a “pioneer in exorcism,” a fact confirmed in this eye-popping volume.

You may be expecting the full-on fire/brimstone treatment but Worley here is unexpectedly engaging and likeable. This is the kind of demonizer I can get behind! (Almost.) In the first few seconds Worley is reading from some text and the result is a remarkable word salad that I’ve highlighted in bold below:

Satanic salute, and the unicorn, flying horse rainbows. Of course, that’s new age symbols. Enchantments, strategies, potions, spells, Dungeons & Dragons they’ll call games like that. Psychic readings, reincarnations, pyramid, clairvoyance, mental science, false visions, superstitions, talismans, Satanism, karma. These are some of the occult spirits. Now if you’ve dabbled in any of these, then you’re cursed, your children are cursed, your grandchildren are cursed, your great grandchildren are cursed. Now, there’s a way to take care of that, and we’re gonna do that. It’s quite simple, really. There’s—Satan is a legal expert, and as long as he has legal rights to be somewhere, you cannot budge him, I don’t care who you are. You can throw your coat on him or blow on him or whatever, he’s not gonna go anywhere. You’ve got to take away the legal grounds, that’s what we’re doing. Now we’re gonna take away the legal grounds on the occult, if you’ve ever been involved. You say, “Well, I don’t think I’ve never been involved.” Well, your ancestors may have been, so take no chances, let’s renounce it, it’s not gonna hurt you to renounce it. It might hurt you not to.

Watch it for yourself, it’s short and ends in a prayer.

After the jump, a great Chick tract on D&D…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
If you’ve never tried Quaaludes before, they’re kinda like this guy singing ‘Jesus Loves You’
11:42 am



Clearly this video of Rod Boucher singing “Jesus Loves You” has been slowed wayyyy down. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to pick up on that. But the result is a type of seemingly Quaalude-induced hilariousness. If you’ve never done ‘em before, look no further than this video because this pretty much sums up what the experience is like. Minus the fun parts, of course.

Dig Rod’s Minnie Riperton-esque high notes, “Somebody loves you! Wooooooooooooooooo!” Also, his use of the word “forever” literately goes on forever and ever.

The video was taken from a Christian Television Association advertisement. An Australian ad from 1980.

via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Eye-popping: Sufi holy men stick knives in their eyes
06:13 am



If you’re squeamish—then look away now…

During the annual Urs Festival in India some Sufi Muslim holy men of the Chisti order show their devotion by sticking knives in eyes….Okay.

Thousands of devotees attend the six-day festival Amjer in Rajasthan commemorating the death, some 800 years ago, of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, the founder of the Chisti order of Sufism. Apart form stabbing themselves in the eyes, these Sufi Muslim holy men also self-flagellate, drive spikes into their backs, pierce their cheeks with knives and skewers and take part in a 75 mile walk to a shrine in Bhadiyad, ending with an all-night (dhikr/zikr qawwali) singalong with other (presumably similarly maimed) worshipers.
Sufism differs from other forms of Islam with congregations formed around a grand master (Mawla) who are claimed to maintain “a direct chain of teachers back to the Prophet Muhammad.” Sufis consider themselves to be “the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam.” The eyeball stabbing and the self-torture form part of the strict self-discipline Sufis consider evidence of their devotion. I wonder what they do for an encore?

And now here’s the usual caveat: This video contains images some may find distressing. Yep.

H/T Metro

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Holy Ghost People’: Snake-handling, faith-healing, speaking in tongues
06:21 am



Filmmaker Peter Adair is best known for his seminal queer classic, Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives, a 1977 collaboratively directed documentary featuring 26 gay men and lesbians. The film, created with his lesbian sister Nancy, showed a truly diverse array of subjects speaking plainly about their lives and experiences. (The interviews were also later compiled and edited into a fascinating book by Nancy and the siblings’ lesbian mother, Casey.) Adair’s impulse for treating his subjects with sympathy wasn’t totally personal though. Ten years before Word is Out, he made Holy Ghost People, an intense but humane document of a Pentecostal church in Scrabble Creek, West Virginia.

With unembellished, almost flat narration, Adair describes the practices of Scrabble Creek Pentecostals. (Note that minimalist composer Steve Reich was one of the audio recordists on the film.) Adair interviews attendants and records their four to six hour long services, where they sing and play music, pray for divine healing and “speak in tongues.” They jerk, shudder and drop to the ground in religious ecstasy, some of them “paralyzed” by the experience, and of course, there is the most infamous of Pentecostal traditions—snake-handling. Adair even records a non-lethal bite.

As someone with some exposure to Pentecostal churches and environments, it’s worth noting that denominations like this are often considered marginal by the more mainstream flocks, perhaps more so as rural Appalachian enclaves continue to change and (sort of) modernize. At the services I attended, “catching the spirit” (the shaking and convulsing) wasn’t particularly common (possibly because the spectacle interrupted the music). Speaking in tongues was even rarer, and generally gossiped about later in skeptical murmurs. Praying collectively for a “brother” or “sister”‘s health was common, but actual faith healing was done at special services or events, rather than during regular sermons. And I only saw snake-handling a few times at tent revivals—children weren’t allowed to participate, or even witness, but there were snakes, so (obviously) we found a way.

It was also generally accepted that a lot of snake-handling was vaudeville flash, with little risk of actual death. The snakes used were considered “docile,” and it was always rumored they had been defanged, or at least “milked” beforehand to exhaust them of most of their poison.  Supposedly, you could make a pretty penny from popping a snake’s fangs through a bit of cheesecloth stretched taut with a rubber band over a mason jar. Many parishioners said that nearby hospitals would purchase the subsequently expelled venom to produce antivenom, adding to skepticism surrounding the “spirituality” of snake-handling. That being said, Pentecostals do sometimes die from snake bites, though when word of a death—or even near-death—reached to our church, it was rare enough to elicit little more than an exasperated head shake—no one ever thought it wasn’t dangerous, most thought it was idiotic.

There are moments of Holy Ghost People though, that will ring pretty familiar with any former Pentecostal. A woman recounts an experience following a series of surgeries where a mysterious child brings sweetened milk to her deathbed for a few days; by the grace of God, she was healed, her recovery the result of her trust in the Lord, an act of God here on earth. These deathbed stories are incredibly common. The poverty and geography of Appalachia fosters a desperate, insular kind of faith, and in the common context of poor health, the spiritual and corporeal congeal into a complex delusion of “miracles” and inexplicable, supernatural forces. While more recent portrayals of Pentecostals tend to resort to smug sensationalism, Holy Ghost People manages a dignified, compassionate look at an all too frequently spurned community.

Part 2

Via Internet Archive

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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