Monday, March 19, 2012

Game of Thrones

I'm hotly awaiting the return of Game of Thrones to HBO on April 1st. Fittingly, I'll be watching a full-contact jousting tournament in Austin that afternoon, and in accordance with this blog, also be visiting the Atheist Experience postshow dinner at El Arroyo. Now what does Game of Thrones and atheism have to do with each other?

One of the things I like most about GoT is that most of the show is akin to watching a historical drama. Literal and political warfare are waged as multiple parties vie for power and prestige. But just like real life, the few powerful settle their differences of honor and personal failings with the lives of those who serve them. Again, I enjoy the faux historical nature of the show, but this aspect gives me pause. This is exactly the problem with communism, fascism, nationalism, and religion: the petty whims of a select few may affect the lives of billions.

The real world is pretty messed up, but I thank the imaginary god that things are better than they used to be. Gone are the days of ultra nationalism, and the power of the Catholic church has waned. These are just some of the attitudes and institutions that have made it possible to get individuals to forget themselves and to move mobs to madness. But obviously there's still a lot of work to do. We still have theocratic states in the Middle East and there are elements in the United States trying to establish a similarly styled form of government, albeit for a god who answers to a different name.

If you haven't seen the show, please do so, especially if you aren't into democracy or secular governments. It'll turn you around, if you pay attention.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Posthumous Postjewish

In closing my introductory post I mentioned that I would discuss American politics and the accidental suppression of the theocratic state, but then news of the Mormon posthumous baptism of Daniel Pearl came to light this morning, and I thought I would hit on that topic instead.

Ah, Jews. Thanks to the Mormons, more powerful in death than life, the very Jedi of the religious wars. These issues, of course, have come up before, and when they did, the Mormon church backed down at the protests of Jewish advocates. Now, the practice seems to continue against official church doctrine, and LDS representatives scramble to control the damage. Meanwhile, a website has popped up to help anyone with an internet connection to "homofy" dead Mormons. Sadly, the creators stipulated that dead Jews were not eligible to be homofied, and I cry foul on that.

The tide seems to be against the Mormons on this issue, but I, for one, stand with the Mormons' right to practice their useless rituals. And the Jews are being stupid for bothering to complain. I'm sure that everyone understands that if Jewish souls can be turned Mormon-- then living Jews should be converting in droves. But obviously they are not, so it seems to be an issue of respect. Is it disrespectful to baptize dead Jews? Well yes, of course it is. But if they think they're saving souls from hell then the occasional metaphysical faux paus probably isn't at the top of the Mormons' list of concerns. Furthermore, if this information didn't keep getting leaked out, then no Jew would know about it, and they would never know about it because it doesn't do anything. Respect is a moot point.

Unless, that is, Jews believe in the mutual inclusivity of some or all religions. I guess I would feel pretty spooked too if I felt a disturbance in the Force every time my dead uncles flipped to the dark side.