Not of the apocalypse

This is basically just a transcript of a Youtube video (admittedly it is potentially one of the greatest videos ever to be uploaded to Youtube), bound in a hardback and given a pretty foreword by Stephen Fry. I am (apparently) a gushing fanboy and therefore completely powerless when it comes to resisting this kind of gimmicky, consumerism claptrap. (Will)power was my dump-stat.

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I do have to admit something… I always just assumed that when they (Dawkins, Dennet, Harris and Hitchens) were referred to as ‘the Four Horsemen’… I just surmised they meant, of the Apocalypse. I mean I didn’t really give it much thought, that sorta made sense to me, insofar as the horsemen of the apocalypse are a sign of the nearing of the end times (My knowledge of all things apocalypse and its precursors is based almost entirely on the reading of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and may therefore contain some ontological gaps).

In any event reading the foreword I was horrified to discover they ACTUALLY meant Arthos, Porthos, Aramis and d’Artagnan. (As in the musketeers) with nary an apocalypse in sight.

Ha ha. I had to laugh at myself. I am such a dumbass.

I also have to admit I kinda liked Stephen Fry’s Foreword. Even though I tried not to. I have a pathological aversion towards Forewords. Why can’t books (or even transcripts) just stand on their own merit. Why do they need someone to set the scene or give context or even (in some cases) apologize for the offence that might be taken within the confines of the dust-cover. Stop treating us like idiots. (Even though, in some cases, and I am mostly speaking for myself, we are).

Exodus

While not really what one might term ‘an ardent enthusiast’ of the sacred texts, I feel there are some notable exceptions. For example…

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‘Do not  follow a multitude to do evil’, Exodus 23:2

Which is such a great line. And generally speaking… good advice (in my opinion).

Less of a fan of what comes before it. Beating your slave with a rod is okay… as long as they can recover within two days. Also, if you should accidentally hit a pregnant woman while fighting… and she goes into labor prematurely as a result… if the baby is fine, no foul. BUT…

… if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life.

Those two precepts have aged… eh… less well than the first I feel. I am however not a bible scholar. I tried it once, but was pulled aside after the second evening and asked kindly by the wizen layperson who chaired the circle not to come back. I think she figured me for being too adversarial. (I really wasn’t). Or maybe I just ate too many of the free cookies. (this actually seems like a more reasonable gripe)

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Nom nom nom. Cookies!

 

Apatheism

I don’t think apatheism is a real word. It’s the smashing together of apathy and theism. For me at least, it’s meant to describe an outlook that I think isn’t neatly intended by atheism, agnosticism or indeed apostasy. (I wanted to alliterate early on)

“In fact, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.” We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.” – Sam Harris, Letter to Christian Nation. 

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I used to be a devout Catholic, the product of childhood indoctrination. Throughout my entire schooling I attended a Catholic convent school (the kind crewed with nuns and other zealous laity). My best friend in my mid twenties was a Catholic priest* (who was more or less the same age as me). This was likely the beginning of the end because it allowed me to pull back the veil (so to speak) and get a clear glimpse into the inner workings of the Catholic church. And it was not pretty (still isn’t).

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On Death

Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris’ (remember human, that you are dust and to dust you will return)

Interacting with a skeletal chassis wrapped in a black cowl and wielding a farming implement of questionable hygiene seems a little dated. (and let’s be honest, somewhat Pratchetty*)

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* look at me, creating an adjective.

Having never experienced death, I’m loathed to hypothesize on how our interaction will play out. I imagine some surprise (on my part) possibly followed by some light Q&A, maybe a pamphlet or laminated brochure being thrust at me, ‘Welcome to the afterlife’. Hopefully I will think of something witty to say, I’d like to make a good first impression. I think that might be situation dependent though, difficult to say something clever if you’ve just died in a suicide bombing and you’re preoccupied with picking drywall screws and bits of pressure cooker out of your skull (well.. what’s left of it)

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