October 2008

I woke up today from a horrible nightmare.
Its a recurring genre of nightmare I have where Christians are making me feel horrible.
This happens quite a bit, actually. The one this morning was of an old Protestant pastor I
knew who in this particular dream was telling me to stay away from the youth of his church for fear that I would corrupt them and called me “an assassin of Christ”.
It made me feel horrible.
Its not just dreams like this that can ruin my mornings. All I have to do is recall Christian friends who have begun to feel that I was “too Christian”, “too legalistic”, “too liberal”,”not Christian”, “not the right kind of Christian”, or “under the influence of demons” (this is a personal favorite).

That dream made me realize I needed to clarify a statement I made back in a comment dialogue attached to my movie review of “Religulous” where I stated that “I didn’t mind people telling me that I was going to hell but was more interested in how the belief that others are going to hell affects the potential for community.”

I take it back. To a certain degree. I know that I will always be in the wrong to someone and as the saying goes, “You can’t please everyone’s God 100% of the time.” So, I’m ready for whatever horrible dungeon any number of devotees might threaten me with.
not everyone is.
And I think that I’ve got to start holding these ‘eternal torture’ asswipes accountable.

You see, kids don’t know that hell is bullshit. Kids believe whatever you tell them. I tell my friend Jared’s niece Tiffanie that she’s cool and she is TOTALLY NOT cool. She still plays with Barbies. I mean c’mon. Bratz  are soooo much cooler. Tiffanie pretty much sucks.

And let’s face it: Telling Irish Catholics that they’re going to hell is old fucking hat.
I tell my entire family that they’re nothing but a bunch of Babylonian Sluts or Whores of Babylon or whatever. Slutty Persians.
They’re a big ol’ idolatrous heathonistic pile of pagans as far as I’m concerned. We’re an easy target and for as much ribbing as we get from the “Real Jesus Lovers” nothing too bad ever happens to us.
For instance, we recently haven’t had to fend for our Constitutional rights by a majority vote.

I’m a white guy who’s pretty hetero-normative (I’m not so much bi-curious as I am thigh-curious. Have you seen the legs on Shia LaBouff?) so I’m under the radar of the Hounds of Hell.
But it seems to me that its no coincidence that those who are more easily ‘essentialized’ get more of the
shitty end of the hell stick.
That’s the way it usually has been right? Women, people whose skin doesn’t quite match the en vogue pigment, people who love people with unapproved genital sets….

Hell, if God’s gonna torture ’em for eternity, why not get ’em warmed up?
Give ’em a razzin’ or two? Drag some folks behind trucks? Keep them folks on THAT side of the fence.

Just as I have white privilege, I have “hell privilege”.
I can praise Jesus loudly and fool the Hell Hounds.
Some people can’t hide there “hell-boundedness” as well as I can.
The real life results of Hellish thinking make it easier to beat, diminish, oppress, and throw away as ‘Other’ “unsaved and hellbound” folks and its for those reasons that I’m repenting on hell….
I do care who you’re saying is going to burn in hell forever.
Because they’re my friends and family.
And you spoutin’ off that they’re maggot fodder to their very core-their very essence
gets played out in all kinds of real, tangible violence.
I’m sick of Napolean Complex Gods in the tiny minds of Hell Hounds going unchecked.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that peoples minds will ever be changed theologically aside from loving, listening, caring dialogue. So all you Hell Hounds better be ready for a considerate and patient response from me next time I hear you say “hell”.
That’s right. I’m gonna listen carefully and show you how much I value you.
And then I’ll gently offer you another way.
Because life is hell enough as it is without turning religion into an argument.

Ryan “Flames Are Presently Licking My Taint” McGivern


Hot damn do I love a challenge.
Life the last 75 years has been so boring.
I’ve seen a man walk on the moon. Wow. Big deal.
No one likes a braggart or vacation photos, so that news cycle sucked.
I saw the end of WWII which was good for Europe, but really sucked
for me as I had to come back home and look for a job.
But things have finally got interesting around here.
Here comes the Greater Depression!
Yeeeeehaw! Bring it on.
I’ve got my brand new dentures (bought on credit) and I’m ready to
bite into (figuratively) what is to be the world first global economic collapse (literally).
So to help all you young whipper snappers out there (some of whom actually
snap whips, I’ve been surprised to find out on YouPorn.com) get a handle on
how to not only survive….but survive with your children uneaten by roving bands
of hungry Midwesterners.

Let’s first clear one thing out of the way: drippings burnt onto the bottom of your rich cousin’s oven are delicious, savory, and often nutritious depending on the grade of salt pork he stole from the back of a van.

Now, we all know that education is expensive. Even when I was a youngin’ we were expected to bring acorns to the school house for roastin’ and an apple to give to the playground attendant/milking goat Boots. That got pricey! And goats are irritable!
So if you plan on sending your children to college-I’ve got a couple of surefire tips.
Move to India. Give your child to someone in one of them good castes.
Believe me, I’ve given some kids to castes that in retrospect were not good choices. But
my biological son Mrbuti says he’ll forgive me in a couple of lifetimes.

Now, let’s talk about penny pinching in the sex department.
I’ve been to one of these here, whatya call ’em, “stores” (we only had family owned corner markets around when I was young) and I come to find condoms cost like 5 bucks for a little box with only a couple of rubbers in there! Believe me, I’ve humped some pretty weird things out there-I was a Army Private for 13 years, I was a prisoner in the Federal Penal System for 9, and I lived in Houston for 3 months for Chrissakes. I’ve seen it all. And…..I don’t know where I was going with this but the point is condoms are expensive so do the “pull out method”. It keeps pregnancies down to a level that is pretty acceptable and I don’t believe in STD’s so there.

There is a bright side to any Depression.
When my second wife Elsa got depressed, she’d buy me Gin and Tonics all day long just to keep her company.
This Depression will be no different. There will be a lot more parties. Drinkin’, druggin’, sleepin’ around. It’ll be like a Lew Stevell and His Home-Cookin’ Bluegrass Band concert!!
(I was at their 1925 Cleveland show during their ‘Man Ain’t Meant To Fly’ tour. That was a GREAT show. Too bad their band train derailed the next day, killing all fourteen band members and critically injuring their milking goat.)
So anyway. The last Great Depression was a hoot and this present Greater Depression will
give us all a lot of fun memories. So drink up and make the best of it!!

Horm McGivern

Editor’s Note:
This blog was transcribed from the scribbles Horm made in his porridge by his
great great grandson Ryan. Tragically, later that morning, Horm died from Syphilis.

Our crack squad of journalists and phone tappers at Mindflowers have got our America-lovin’ paws on our two most favoritist political powerhouses: Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.

Joe the Plumber: Uhhh, hello?
Sarah: Hiya Joe.
Joe: Yes, how can I help you?
Sarah: Joe-this is Sarah, doncha know.
Joe: Oh shit! What are you wearing?
Sarah: Joe! (laughs) Well, a powersuit. A nice little number that cost me eight grand.
Joe: Hoooooweeeeeee!
Sarah: Joe. Look I’m calling about business.
Joe: Oh! You got another clogged up toilet over there?
Sarah: No, its not that. Y’see Joe, I need some more talking points.
Joe: Sarcasm. That always works.
Sarah: Well, yeah! Duh. But I need you to tell me the words to say in a sarcastic tone.
Joe: How ’bout……..Socialist!
Sarah: Good! That’s good….. Who’s a socialist?
Joe: Barack Obama!
Sarah: Ohhhhh. That’s good. That’s really good……What’s a socialist?
Joe: You know. Uh. Like France and stuff. Not America.
Sarah: Yeah. Socialism is pretty un-American isn’t it?
Joe: You bet.
Sarah: You betcha.
Joe: How’s the campaign coming?
Sarah: Great!
Joe: Really?
Sarah: No. It sucks frankly. I was being sarcastic.
Joe: I can never tell. Everything kinda sounds at least a little sarcastic when you say it.
Sarah: Listen. Joe-so you’re a plumber right?
Joe: Yes.
Sarah: What do you know about politics? I mean, you must have been around politicians in your time.
Joe: Well, I once unclogged a sink stopped up with vomit and cat food in the trailer home of some crazy ass who was listening to AM talk radio. And I think she was a Representative in Minnesota.
Sarah: That works. What’d ya find out?
Joe: Well. Some Americans aren’t American.
Sarah: I’ve never said this before but…I don’t know what that means.
Joe: Some Americans are Anti-America. What was that lady’s name? She had the eyes of a madman-vacant and cold…Michelle Bachmann. That was her name. She smelled like old people and had four bibles in her living room and she’d written on the wall “get out of my head, voices!” in her own feces.

Sarah: Mmm. Alaskan you say?
Joe: No. Minnesotan. Anyway. Like I says…Some Americans are Anti-America.
Sarah: Like when they complain about what’s going on in America. Like Martin Luther King.
Joe: I guess.
Sarah: Like Women’s Suffrage.
Joe: Yeah.
Sarah: I hate trouble-making America-haters.
Joe: Exactly. So do other old white people.
Sarah: Aha! I’ve got my next interview all set now. Thanks Joe.
Joe: That’s what I do. I fix toilets and inspire our nation’s top intellectuals.
Sarah: Oh, and by the way. I think I will need you for something else……
Joe: Oh, baby!
Sarah: No. I mean I just clogged the toilet.
Joe: Again?
Sarah: Its this new ‘Extra Absorbant’ Charmin! Its like trying to flush bedsheets!
Joe: I’ll be over as soon as I finish my edit on Sean Hannity’s opening piece for tonight.


If you would like Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, or John McCain to brighten your workday, 
email us (or leave as a comment) your office work number (or the number of your Republican co-worker) and get ready for your brush with greatness!

Ryan McGivern
we’ll call you within 4 work days up to the Nov. 4th election.

Dian Agung Nugroho took this photograph on the streets of China. For some reason it reminds me of people that vote Republican. Link

Dr. McCain: What’s all that rootin’ tootin’ noise down there?
Igor Palin: Nuthin’.
Dr. McCain: I just heard an explosion and a scream of terror.
Igor Palin: Uhhhh.

(Just then, a giant monster comprised of the reanimated bodies of a million stinking
corpses bursts through the laboratory walls of the castle.)

Dr. McCain: My Monster! Its…..so murderous and huge! Have you been feeding it, Igor?
Igor Palin: I’ll have to get back to you on that.
Dr. McCain: Monster! Listen to me. Hearken unto me!

(Monster smashes down a forest screaming “these trees are arab” and “oaks are terrorists”)
Dr. McCain: That forest is an upstanding forest!
Igor Palin: (whispering to the Monster) Maple? I don’t know about that. I just can’t trust them.
Monster: Raaaaar!
Dr. McCain: Now, let’s raze this forest in a thoughtful way! We’ll put up an oil well or something! Nooooo!!

(Monster looks with disdain at its tiny master and then eats him.)

Igor Palin: Well, all the more room in the castle for me.

Epilogue: Igor and Monster settle down together in an apocalyptic wasteland of their making.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

This project is based on the design concept of “Newton’s Cradle,” prolly more widely known as perpetual motion tapping balls (Fig. 1).

The delight in this modification comes from using delicious cabbages.  Although heads of lettuce could be considered, I feel that cabbages have a better weight and density for their size.  It would necessary to select five heads of cabbage of approximately the same dimensions and weight, although you may feel free to vary the color. You will also need to gather ten forks and a ball of twine before proceeding to whatever you will use as your set of mounts –  turnstile guides or line guides in an amusement park would be ideal.  Affix the twine to the handle end of the forks somehow (certain fork designs will work better than others), and tie them to your mounts so they are plumb at the tips, straight across from each other, spaced so that the cabbages will just touch each other when hanging, and long enough so that the cabbages will hang about a foot from the ground.  Stab the stabby end of the fork as deep as you can on each side of the stem (Fig 2).  By now, you should be all set to unleash the perpetual motion on the world.  Give it a try!  Let us know if it works!  Shit, we don’t know!

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Bill Maher has said that his goal for Religulous is to make people laugh.
And that it does.
I saw it opening weekend along with other Maher faithful who lined up the sidewalk to see the Larry Charles (of Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Borat) directed film, and we were not disappointed.
The film mustn’t be mistaken as a “no holds barred” critical analysis of religion. It isn’t. It is however a send up of fundamentalist religion in its many guises.

Fundamentalist faith is a easy target, we’ve all got to admit. The affiable Maher seems at ease in his role as the Eternal Skeptic and he makes his comedic interviews look easy because let’s face it: its easy.

But the film is bookended by matters more serious than the common South Park faire: Armeggedon.
Here Maher stands at Meggido, the titular site of the End of Days showdown where Jesus is said in Revelation to open some serious Whoop-Ass cans. The only thing more frightening, says Maher, than apocalyptic prophecies are self fulfilling apocalyptic prophecies. He then points to the necro-fetishism of Fundamentalist religion-the hatred and bigotry it fosters, the lack of environmental concern, the eager willingness to push the world towards final cataclysm as the greatest threat to humanity.

This did not have us laughing. Here I heard sighs, gasps. With a backdrop of images none too subtle, including 9/11, nuclear mushrooms, and belching smokestacks, Maher ends the film with a not too agnostic sounding challenge: “Grow up or perish.”

This is a sentiment that many social critics and theologians are airing recently. Our world is too small and fragile; our societies too vulnerable to messages of absolutism to condone the worldviews that got us where we are today.

And like some other voices critical to fundamentalisms, he implores the open-minded or secularized religious to come out of their traditions-their support only implicitly giving credibility to the extremists of their faith.

I liked this film. But I’m not sure if I completely I buy Maher’s thesis.
I do agree that fundamental religion is a great threat to our world-but it’s posed as ‘Religion’ often in the film-not fundamentalism. Maher and Charles could have strengthened their argument if they had separated faithful people who work for the betterment of the world from those who are antagonistic towards justice, love, and understanding.

The next morning after seeing the film, I went to a local church to check it out. What I found there would have been interesting to get Maher’s response on. Without naming its denomination, I will say that it is an ‘open and affirming’ Christian denomination that celebrates the LGBTQ community and individuals. The congregation was outspoken in their desire to be radically inclusive to all people and sought to build bridges among cultures and communities with mutual respect. The pastor referenced St. Francis, the Jewish Days of Awe, Jesus, Lesbian activist and feminist Del Martin as sources of spiritual strength and inspiration. He read Jesus’ words of comfort to those who mourned while adding that the Bible was only one source of spiritual truth among many.
Was this the religion that Maher had in mind to skewer? I don’t think so.
Its too bad that he didn’t focus on the diversity of religion’s cultural effects because it would only give better critique of those who decide to accept fundamentalism.

Now, Maher does give time to gay muslims, the Catholic Church’s teaching deriding erroneous Young Earth beliefs (a la Sarah Palin’s ‘dinos and people lived simultaneously’), and a Catholic priest who brushes off theologies of sin and hell, but only with the feeling that these types of religious believers are in a vast minority.

The best argument against misanthropic and culturally destructive religions are those individuals who are faithfully religious while remaining open-minded, considerate, and impressionable by new scientific developments.
The less effective argument is one that remains sarcastic, finger pointing, and dismissive.

The type of ineffective thought that Fundamentalism represents happens all the time and is not restricted to its religious incarnations. Dogmaticism of thought, stubbornness, cultural colonialism, bigotry, and devout ignorance occurs all around us- in academia, the business world, Nationalism, and the slavish adherence to your particular political party. 

Hopefully the discussion surrounding Maher’s (well worth seeing) film will be more articulate and patient without losing any of the good humor and playfulness.

In all, I give Religulous: 8 prayer beads out of 10.  


Ryan McGivern


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