A Pocket Full of Clemsonite

July 11, 2009

What’s In The Mind Of An Iranian Fundamentalist Militia Man

Filed under: Doom & Gloom — Tags: , , , , , , — floreign @ 5:33 pm

Inside the Iranian Crackdown – WSJ.com.

The early Hitler had the Brown Shirts volunteers. Ceausescu relied heavily on the Securitate and its network of informers. Had his network been as developed as the Basij militia, he wouldn’t have been executed by his own army who eventually sided with the people. Still, the former rank-and-file members of that network flourished even after the collapse of communism in the Eastern European Bloc. I’m sure other totalitarian regimes have had their share of such friendly thugs.

Now we see the religiously conservative Iranians in the Basij Militia having the same perks, which will definitely build a ruling caste in time.  They have all it takes: do what they are told, beat and kill before asking questions, and, most of all, believe uncritically that they are right in what they do and have the right to do so, even at the expense of other people’s lives.

The only optimistic part is in the end of the article: the underdog female gender could be able to call for a reality check (and overall improvement of our species). It’s beyond my understanding how a repressed female population could have voted for the denial of  their most basic rights during last month’s elections.


July 10, 2009

Bruno At A Glance: The True Distorted Mirror

(A funny thing that happened before the actual feature presentation was the US Air Forces advertisement. Besides the fact that a military camp shows up in the movie, it makes you feel the lack of the slogan “don’t ask, don’t tell”.)

Once you get over the first reactions of disgust during the first minutes of this movie (see the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes here and a trailer above), the rest of the exaggerated stuff becomes bearable. Kind of like an immunization that makes you dig further and get the message. Because there are some reasons why at least some of the film’s skits were put in place.

A character from the Austrian TV fashion world, looking significantly different from Borat, is revealed to us after the first moments when we get to hear a Scooter song. He has a “suicidal” take on the fashion (I won’t reveal what caused what), and he is subsequently fired. While Borat was driven by the wish to “make sexy time” with Pamela Anderson, this time we have a very non-standard Austrian gay guy driven by the need to get famous.

His trajectory may seem a bit haphazard and the plot may seem minimal, and I’m not going to deny it too much. But I want to make a point here that there actually is a certain structure/plot, albeit different from the Hollywood typical recipe.

The careful watcher can identify a number of cultural themes that Sacha Baron Cohen is making fun of. Actually I think that the main purpose of the whole thing is to make people acknowledge them. The main pupose of this post is to discuss these succinctly.

So, beyond the satire aimed at the fashion world, we get to laugh at:

– the desperate will of Hollywood parents for their children’s accomplishment in the world of movies. The list of conditions made by the TV host -to-be Bruno to the parents of the would-be stars is at least breathtaking.

– the shallowness of the humanitarian approaches of the stars: they only want to embrace fashionable causes, so that people will worship them more and more;

– the inferior status of the Latinos, which were told to pose as chairs and tables when Paula Abdul came in the house having no furniture;

– the political correctness tendency related to African Americans shown during the show at which Bruno was invited as a single parent. Frankly, even I have difficulties in finding a term for European Americans, or for African Africans;

– the very little margin for alterity people allow: the hotel personnel was completely shut off mentally at the sight of two men entangled in bed with erotic paraphernalia. Another memorable scene was the one with the psychic.

– the selectivity of fame’s gatekeepers: they only promote straight people, so the gay Bruno decides he wants to become straight. A pretext for lots of other commentaries.

– the empty pretenses of certain Christian pastors aimed at converting “sinners”, they only want conversions to their religion, showing a clear lack of understanding toward the personality and needs of other people. There was a much milder joke than I feared with the first preacher about proselytizing, but this one was not well received by the people in my little Southern town (although they laughed quite loud at other jokes);

– the attitude toward women within the church, explained by use of the second preacher’s words, who was explaining Bruno that although women are boring and meaningless, they would be better for him;

– But all these pale in comparison with the great finale when Bruno finally landed a wrestling gala’s moderator job as “Straight Dave”. Let me get this straight (pun partially intended): wrestling is a male preferred fun thing to watch, which is very close to NASCAR, and additionally the wrestlers actually move and fight in a fashion that is considered by many (but not by its fans) as “gay”. Well, the crowd was cheering in the beginning, but when the fight turned into a gay body contact, although it still seemed similar, people became disgusted and angry. Oh, the Celine Dion track from “Titanic” fits magnificently in this scene.

I believe the bottom line is he started from the straight scene and he replaced it with gay behaviors, heavily exaggerated. in this fashion he managed to make a distorting mirror like the one Hans Christian Andersen created in his “Snow Queen” tale. Only this mirror of Bruno allows us to see right, while Andersen’s mirror makes people see nice things as being ugly.

Who knows, maybe Bruno can be credited with handing us the mirror of truth. Thumbs up from me for this demential comedy.

June 23, 2008

Halloween crestin – Hell House by George Ratliff

Deschid acum o miniserie dedicata filmelor care trateaza teme legate de practicile crestine, in special cele care sunt in evident dezacord cu Biblia, Coranul, ori alte texte religioase de baza.
Filmul “Hell House” din 2001 reprezinta imaginea unei “case a iadului”, pusa la cale de catre membrii unei comunitati penticostale din statul Texas, in preajma sarbatorii de Halloween, considerata diavoleasca de catre ei. Pe scurt, membrii comunitatii religioase re-creeaza aici o serie de scene ale pacatului: avort, viol in grup, abuz familial, homosexual murind de SIDA etc., cu scopul declarat ca macar o parte dintre privitorii ne-evanghelici sa se indrepte catre Hristos, pentru a evita acest rau care-i impresoara.
Cateva elemente semnificative de pe parcursul filmului:
– fata care jucase in trecut rolul fetei violate si vede in sala pe cel care o violase cu ceva vreme in urma;
– scena fetei care moare din cauza pilulei pentru avort RU-486, in situatia in care comunitatile religioase nu recomanda “pilula de a doua zi” ca o alternativa la aceasta;
– pentagrama desenata care este de fapt crucea lui David;
– interviurile referitoare la sursele de inspiratie pentru scenete, incluzand cea cu intalnirea stabilita prin internet – in urma unei asemenea legaturi stabilite pe internet, un membru al comunitatii crestine “nu se mai afla intre ei”;
– scena in care cativa tineri contesta autoritatea morala a organizatoilor de a judeca unele alegeri a oamenilor: problema homosexualitatii ca optiune liber-consimtita si problema petrecerilor rave, la care o persoana declara ca a paticipat fara sa ia droguri sau sa faca sex; tanarul mai “slobod la gura” ii face “ignoranti” pe organizatori in timp ce pastorul isi pastreaza un calm glacial;
– scena de dupa vizitarea casei groazei, in care organizatorii utilizeaza un truc de marketing clasic: “mai ai cinci secunde ca sa treci de aceasta usa in spatele careia se afla oameni care sa iti raspunda la intrebarile tale despre Isus si sa se roage impreuna cu tine, patru, trei, ganditi-va bine unde ati vrea sa mergeti daca ati muri la noapte, doi, unu…”.

De fapt, in documentarul “The Devil Made Me Do It!”, realizat de George Ratliff in 1999, documentar care -la si ajutat de fapt pentru a obtine sprijinul necesar realizarii lui “Hell House”, putem vedea chiar scene din masacrul de la liceul Columbine, dar si ceremonia “Hell House Oscars”, dupa perioada de show-uri, cand actorii primesc premiile pentru “cel mai bun actor in rolul fetei violate” etc. Acest scurt documentar poate fi gasit pe Daily Motion, de exemplu aici.

Las subiectul deschis, in parte si pentru ca urmeaza sa discut despre filmul “Jesus Camp” (unii critici spun ca Hell House este mai bine realizat decat acesta), care in 2007 a pierdut “Oscarul” pentru documentar in favoarea lui “An Inconvenient Truth” , dar si pentru ca astept sa primesc de la Netflix filmul “Persepolis” care trateaza viata in republica islamica a Iranului. Acest film bineinteles ca a fost interzis in tarile musulmane, insa ar fi interesanta de vazut paralela cu indoctrinarea de tip fascist pe care o realizeaza predicatoarea americana din “Jesus Camp” cu copii de sase-zece ani.

June 1, 2008

Categorii de crestini baptisti in Statele Unite

Filed under: Americani in Romania, Franturi de America — Tags: , , , , — floreign @ 8:13 am

Dupa cum putem vedea pe website-ul BWA, exista 17 denominatii baptiste afiliate la Baptist World Alliance. Daca insa ne-am orienta doar dupa aceasta lista, am neglija total conventia baptista de sud (SBC, Southern Baptist Convention), a doua denominatie religioasa din Statele Unite dupa numarul de aderenti (prima fiind cea catolica).

O lista completata se afla pe Wikipedia.

Istoria mai recenta a cultului baptist in SUA a cunoscut o schisma serioasa in anii dinainte de razboiul de secesiune, cand, din motive incluzand acceptarea sclaviei, baptistii din zona de sud a SUA au fondat SBC. Actualmente ei constituie cea mai numeroasa denominatie baptista, undeva in jurul a 16 milioane aderenti. Exista variatii insa si in sanul acestui cult, in anii ’90 fiind cam 14 milioane, iar in ultimii ani incepand sa aiba mai putini membri, conform unui articol publicat pe Yahoo News in 25 aprilie 2008:
“The number of people baptized in Southern Baptist churches fell for the third straight year in 2007 to the denomination’s lowest level since 1987, and membership dipped as well.”

Cealalta ramura, cea de nord, este in general considerata mai inclinata spre ecumenism si actiuni sociale, unul dintre cei mai cunoscuti membri ai sai din trecut fiind Martin Luther King. O descriere a American Baptist Churches USA poate fi citita pe website-ul lor oficial.

Un alt proces important pentru baptistii americani a inceput in anii ’70. Mai multe grupuri care au parasit ulterior SBC sustin ca un grup de oameni ai bisericii de extrema dreapta au inceput campania de schimbare a directiei conventiei. O astfel de relatare poate fi gasita aici.
Dupa ce a castigat alegerile interne, grupul Patterson-Pressler a inceput “epurarea” bisericii de cei care gandeau altfel. Toate aceste presiuni au culminat, in anul 2000, cu adoptarea unui document doctrinar, “The Baptist Faith and Message”, care continea mai multe modificari fata de precedenta versiune, datand din 1963. O privire comparativa a celor doua documente se gaseste aici.
Principalele modificari ar fi urmatoarele:
– Biblia este textual adevarata, ea neadmitand interpretari;
– natura “substitutionara” a mortii lui Isus pe cruce;
– prezenta spiritului divin in credincios garanteaza mantuirea acestuia;
– nu exista nici o alta cale de mantuire in afara lui Isus;
– este eliminata autonomia bisericii si responsabilitatea egala a membrilor congregatiilor, responsabilitatea in fata semenilor fiind inlocuita cu cea in fata lui Dumnezeu;
– doar barbatii pot fi hirotonisiti
– crestinii trebuie sa se opuna rasismului si tuturor formelor de imoralitate sexuala;
– persoana umana este considerata sacrosancta inca din momentul conceptiei pana la moarte;
– este consfintita inegalitatea conjugala: “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ”

Toti pastorii si profesorii de la seminariile baptiste au fost nevoiti sa semneze adeziunea la acest act, cei care au refuzat ori au demisionat ori au fost indepartati. Iata un exemplu aici.

Au existat grupuri de baptisti moderati care s-au retras din SBC, o parte din ei au constituit “Cooperative Baptist Fellowship” care a primit acceptul de aderare la Baptist World Alliance. In acest moment, SBC a retras sprijinul financiar pentru BWA si, la scurt timp, s-a retras din aceasta alianta mondiala.

In ultimul timp au fost initiate contacte de colaborare intre ABC si CBF. Acestea, dupa unii, ar putea duce la o fuzionare a acestor denominatiuni.

Mai exista ramura NBC, National Baptist Convention, care in general este formata din credinciosi afro-americani. Nu detin informatii referitoare la aceasta ramura.

Nu stiu ce importanta are aceasta caracterizare pentru Romania, insa presupunerea mea este ca o mare parte din sprijinul acordat credinciosilor baptisti din Romania a fost din partea SBC. Se pare ca a existat si o anumita influenta “politica” din partea SBC, dupa cum putem citi aici.

Despre influenta politica romaneasca asupra bisericii baptiste, BBC a publicat anul trecut cateva articole referitoare la colaborarea cu Securitatea a doi membri marcanti ai comunitatii baptiste romanesti: Petre Dugulescu si Iosif Ton: aici si aici. Petre Dugulescu, dupa cum scrie in articol, a decedat anul trecut, iar Iosif Ton traieste in prezent in Portland, Oregon.

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