Monthly Archives: April 2010

on sexy porn models and human dignity


Last night in a dream I suddenly had clear and developed plans to make an awareness system for pornography, which at least in my dreamy state seemed perfectly possible to do. When I woke up a lot of the ideas was lost, and it also seemed a lot less practical and much less obvious to do in the real world than I had imagined in my dream, but nevertheless I thought that I could try to just  write it down the way I remember it, and share with the world…

Even without taking my faith as a christian as a factor, I simply as a human being find the concept of porn a very bad idea that enormously devaluates human dignity. Getting yourself sexually exited on a picture of someones sexy body generally goes together with the reducing of thet person to just her body, and the reducing of that body to just some organs that can give you sexual pleasure… No woman (or man) deserves to be robbed of her humanity that way, and it’s extremely low to make money using people in such a way.

The use of images of sexy women to sell something that has nothing at all to do with them is totally degrading for both sexes. It’s not only woman-unfriendly, but also sexist to the other side. It is just assumed that I as a man will follow my natural urges and buy whatever crap they sell just because those women arouse me. sorry, but tend to I find this very offending! it’s an insult to her, and to me, and it devaluates humanity for everyone who would be conditioned enough to fall for it… For a long time I have been thinking that I should not take this nonsense, but still what can I do about it? I am not the type to write letters and stuff. and I’m not a knight who can fight wind will, let alone real dragons…

(and I’m not even talking about teens in their puberty time who are filled with unrealistic pictures of the female body and sex before they even have sex, which can be very destructing for their relationships later in their lives. I know there are already age limits for porn and that they don’t make any difference in real life, but maybe awareness raising in school suring lessons about sexuality may be a good idea… )

Every woman or man is a person. (As a christian I would add that we are created in Gods image, but that’s not an argument that I can use to convince people who believe differently) so even speaking just from a basic humanist position, every person deserves respect as such, and a whole industry that is built on the abuse of the human sexual integrity should not be allowed to just do anything. At least they should be balanced with warnings and reminders.

Like the warnings we have here on packs of cigarettes, there could be awareness stickers on magazines or other publications of a pornographic type. Just a reminder that the people who are shown are human just like the reader. I had a cool text in my dream, but I lost it.. Something like “All men and woman shown here, are humans just like you are! They don’t only have a sexy body, But  also  a  personality,  and  human  dignity, friends and family, hopes and dreams, and they need love, friendship and happiness just like you and everybody”. The same kind of reminder sticker could be used for publicity and advertisements with (almost) naked women (or men) used to sell something that has nothing to do with sexy human bodies. And naturally also on the boxes of pornographic movies such a warning could be put… And the films could be preceded with a small awareness video clip (like the anti-piracy vids) For example starting with the sexy picture of a model, and then parts of an interview where she is in normal clothes and without make-up, telling about her family, her time as a child, her hobbies, her hopes and dreams, to conclude with a photograph made with ‘aging software’ to show how she might look within 40 years… and then al last slogan as ‘sexy models are as human as you are’

The same could be done to certain music videos (cough, cough, R&B)…

No I’m not a conservative puritan, far from it. And it’s not that I would want censorship as it exist in the USA (which is extremely irritating), just a very personal reminder for the uncensored versions that everybody, also those with a sexy body that make money with it, are much more than their body. and that it is not fair to treat anyone like a sex object. Human dignity is something we should not trample. Not in war and torture, but also not in all this commercialising of sex!

But I guess I’m just being naieve, and my imaginary activism will never do anything in the real world…

shalom

Bram

On praying for president Obama’s death and Christian black magic…


I’m puzzled again about Americans…

I must say, as a belgian I don’t understand much of American politics, and neither do I understand the role that something that is for some weird reason called Christianity plays in it. Nor do I allways understand what is Christian about american consevative politics…

The dichotomy between republicans and democrats is just weird to someone living in a country where there are more than 5 parties. And Obama would not even qualify as ‘left’ here, a bit less right than Bush maybe, but still… Everybody calling him a socialist doesn’t know anything about socialism at all… The dichotomy in politics between liberals and conservatives is even stranger, because the liberals here (the party together with the ectreme right party I’ll never in my life vote for) are the ones obsessed with the same kind of free -market capitalism (lassez faire jugle law capitalism more correctly) that the American conservatives believe in, which is pure economic darwinism (‘struggle of the fittest’) But the conservatives are supposed to be against darwinism? WelL I don’t get it but nevermind…

But some other things are beyond my head. All this anti-Obama hate speech (even on facebook) from conservative Americans is really odd. From roaming on the internet in the Bush era I though one shouldn’t even be too critical ofthe president (Romans 13), but that was only before there was a non-’conservative’ president I guess… Now I didn’t like most of Bush’s politics (as did most people on my continent, including much evangelicals) and I am not always too enthousiastic about Mr. Obama, but overall I like him al lot more than Bush (and he is less lethal to the third planet of the star called sun) but if we are critical of a president, we criticise his politics. We don’t want evil to happen to his person.

But the the thing that worries me is the (mostly so-called humorous) call to pray for the death of president Obama. There is a facebook group protesting another group called “DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN” Now this is supposed to be humor I guess, and if anyone has this view of God that alose is troubling, so I hope no-one realy will pray like this. But still there is so much hate speech on this group (and pure nonsense, and freakiness). And the troubling thing is that it isn’t the first weirdness in this direction that I see. The ‘psalm 109:8′ bumper stickers with a request to pray for Obama are really dark if you take your bible and read the verse in context…

1 I praise you, God! Don’t keep silent.
2 Destructive and deceitful lies are told about me,
3 and hateful things are saidfor no reason.
4 I had pity and prayed for my enemies, but their words to me were harsh and cruel.
5 For being friendly and kind,they paid me back with meanness and hatred.
6 My enemies said,“Find some worthless fools to accuse him of a crime.
7 Try him and find him guilty! Consider his prayers a lie.
8 Cut his life short, and let someone else have his job.
9 Make orphans of his childrenand a widow of his wife;
10 make his children beg for food and live in the slums.
11 “Let the people he owes take everything he owns. Give it all to strangers.
12 Don’t let anyone be kind to him or have pity on the children he leaves behind.
13 Bring an end to his family,and from now on let him bea forgotten man.
14 “Don’t let the Lord forgive the sins of his parents and his ancestors.
15 Don’t let the Lord forgetthe sins of his family,or let anyone rememberhis family ever lived.

I don’t know what I have to do with such psalms, there is a lot of hatred in them, and it is directed towards the enemies of the psalmist, who most likely were evil and unrighteous people (vs 16: e was so cruel to the poor, homeless and   discouraged that they died young.) There is a place for this kind of feelings in the human experience, but Jesus teaches us to do otherwise… And this surely is not a prayer to pray for your president.

Now whatever you say of president Obama’s politics, this has crossed a lot of lines. First as a Christian, we are supposed to pray for leaders, not for their death… And when Paul wrote this the Roman emperor was persecuting Christians, so any comparison with Mr Obama wall fail. If you want to pray for the American president, fine, pray for wisdom, pray for insight, pray for the Spirit to guide him…

But praying for his death? I may have missed something, but I never heard of people praying for the death of GW Bush, (or even Saddam Hussain for that matter). None of the more progressive and left American Christians I’ve met has ever said anyhthing about praying for GWB’s death. Now I hope that all of this is nonsens and satire, and that I’m speaking about people that do not exist, but anyone who would genuinely be praying for the death of the president has crossed the line, and has fallen into dark black magic disguised as Christianity.

Yes, black magic, that’s how I would call the use of prayer to try to kill someone. What is the magic the bible forbids? It is using supernatural power to get more power yourself, and it is mostly connected to manipulation… Now abusing the Christian God for something like this is foolishness beyond the folly of Simon the sorcerer who thought to make personal profit out of the Holy Spirit, and it won’t work either, but the idea is still there: the invocation of supernatural powers to destroy people is black magic.

Christianity and black magic have nothing to do with each other. I may sound fundamentalist here, but we should not tolerate this kind of Christian black magic in any way. It goes against everything Jesus stood for. It goes against the love of our neigbor and our enemies. Even as humor it goes to far. To wish someones death is as bad as to kill someone, to paraphrase the sermon on the mount…

Pray for the peace in America, some things are really weird over there…
Pray for president Obama, for wisdom, and guidance from the Spirit, and protection…
Pray for the Churc to become more like jesus, without being tied to weird politics…

Shalom

(we need it here on planet earth)

Bram

On anti-zionism and anti-semitism


I’ve been writing on more controversial subjects for Christians, here and on my dutch blog, but I don’t think this subject has been covered already, so let’s open a new controverse… Being just a belgian blogger without influence it will not make much dust-clouds, but I think the subject is important.

I’ll start with a quote from Samuel Lee’s 95 concerns (btw: very interesting to read all of the concerns of this more ”progressive’ pentecostel pastor who looks with a critical eye at Christianity as it is today) :

58. Concerning Israel, it is important to underscore the difference between Zionism and Judaism. Judaism is a religion, one of love and peace. By contrast, Zionism is a political agenda, a program that is unfortunately supported by our modern day evangelicalism and Pentecostalism.

59. I love Israel. I repeat: I love Israel, but I do not tolerate what Zionism does. Zionism acts in the flesh and not in the Spirit of God. And, Christian Zionism can be as dangerous as Islamic extremism. Zionism should not forget what Fascism and the Nazis did to the Jews during the World War II by the massacre of so many millions of Jews and others. The Jews know the pain and sorrow of the Holocaust. How much greater is their obligation to be loving and caring for others, especially their neighbors! God spoke to Abraham in Genesis (12:1-4), saying, “You will be a blessing to others.”

60. Furthermore, the fundamentalist Christianity that supports Zionism is a modern form of idol worship! We worship neither Israel, nor Zion; neither a temple, nor in a temple. None of these can offer humanity salvation. For we ourselves are the temple of God and His temple was restored on the day Christ Jesus rose from the dead.

I couldn’t say it better… A further observation is that some christians like to call everybody who criticises the state of Israel anti-semites. I for myself do not understand this way of black- and white thinking, in fact I see it as a bit autictic sometimes, but I do recognise that this ideology has its historical roots, and is based upon certain political and eschatological schools of thoughts that are far from mine, but that have been developed by thinking people too. and I know that ‘Christians for Israel’ still has a lot of influence on lots of evangelicals here in the benelux too….
But like I said, the idea of “anti-zionism=anti-semitism” is a bit silly, not even all jews do believe that the ‘new’ state of Israel is valid. For example the Hasidim, a historical minority here in Antwerp, who are still here for some reason, and not in Israel. A lot of Hasidim believe that without a God-annointed Messiah it is wrong to have this Israelian state again. So not even all jews (and you cant’ get more orthodox than the Hassidim) are for the state of Israel as it is now. Extreme anti-zionist jewish groups among the Hasidim for example are the Satmar, Toldos Aharon and Dushinsky. So anti-zionism does even exist among ultra-orthodox jews, which are the last people on earth to ever be accused of anti-semitism…

An interesting discussion on this topic can be found on Jason Cokers pastoralia blog, especially in the comment section, and on the Mike Todd blog it refers to.  I’m not going into the discussion about the covenant with Israel for now, but I’l just say that something is totally wrong in the so-called ‘Holy Land’. A lot of wrong things do happen over there, on both sides of the conflict. The state of Israel does a lot of bad things, and the more radical Palestinians also do commit a lot of terrorism and stuff. So none of both sides is ‘right’ and none is ‘wrong’ (like in most conflicts) but the truth is that  a lot of people are oppressed in palestine, and that’s injustice.

And we should not forget our brothers and sisters the christian palestines, who get persecution from both the state of Israel and some muslim groups. Indeed, to put a needle in the dispensationalist scheme about godless palestines getting erased for the state of Israel to reappear;  not all of those ‘evil palestines’ who stand in the way of  Israel are muslim, a minority of them are Christians.

I also remember how a friend of me, a belgian girl; who went to Israel and stayed with the palestines, was shoqued about the way how the palestines were treated. She talks on her blog (in flemish) about a friend she made there, a guy from palestine. He lived only 7 km from Jerusalem, but who hadn’t been there for years since like all of his people he was considered an enemy of the state. When the wall came in 2003, 50% of the men, who worked in Jerusalem lost their jobs since they weren’t able anymore to go there… From one day to the next people lost the freedom to go where they wanetd and they were pushed into their little patch of ground. And they started building their ultramodern villas illegaly on the ground stolen of the palestinians.

I’ll translate the end of her blog post as a whole:
“Imagine that I am a Palestinian and urgently need medical aid, which they cannot offer me here in Palestine. Can I get through the wall? Natalie shakes her head: Your don’t want to now how many people have already died by lack of resources.

It is strange to be here. Strangely to see the wall which ensures that no Palestinian can leave Palestine. Strangely to see how respectable, old Palestinians  must undergo all kinds of (humiliating) formalities to the checkpoint… whereas they open a special small door for me, without even looking at my passport or visa. And in one way or another, we Christians have the inclination somewhere to favor the Jews… But don’t you see? I believe that we are called to have a heart for people.”

We are called to have a heart for people, and Jesus had a heart especially for the poor and oppressed. So what about our brothers and sisters in Palestine? should we not love them as well?

shalom

Brm

‘repetitivus primitivus’ on the Habañero Hour podcast


The Habañero Hour podcast is a very interesting podcast exploring ‘christian music’ outside of the marketing segment that bears that name. It’s great to discover great music…

And now they have included one of my songs (an instrumental called ‘repetitivus primitivus‘) on their ninth episode. The featured artist aradhna is very worth checking out (if you like something other than western pop music..) and they have also included one of my favorite welcome wagon songs too…

My free Bram Cools compilation album ‘I am the belgian Christian lo-fi scene’ can still be downloaded @ noisetrade or last.fm.

enjoy

Bram

Easter bible meditation


Read slowly, and take the time to meditate on it in silence

Lectio divina style

I’m not going to comment, just let the Spirit speak.

(1 cor 15) 1 My friends, I want you to remember the message that I preached and that you believed and trusted. 2 You will be saved by this message, if you hold firmly to it. But if you don’t, your faith was all for nothing. I told you the most important part of the message exactly as it was told to me. That part is: Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say.He was buried ,and three days later he was raised to life, as the Scriptures say. Christ appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. 6 After this, he appeared to more than five hundred other followers. Most of them are still alive, but some have died. 7 He also appeared to James, and then to all of the apostles. Finally, he appeared to me, even though I am like someone who was born at the wrong time. I am the least important of all the apostles. In fact, I caused so much trouble for God’s church that I don’t even deserve to be called an apostle. 10 But God was kind! He made me what I am, and his wonderful kindness wasn’t wasted. I worked much harder than any of the other apostles, although it was really God’s kindness at work and not me. 11 But it doesn’t matter if I preached or if they preached. All of you believed the message just the same. 12 If we preach that Christ was raised from death, how can some of you say that the dead will not be raised to life? 13 If they won’t be raised to life, Christ himself wasn’t raised to life. 14 And if Christ wasn’t raised to life, our message is worthless, and so is your faith. 15 If the dead won’t be raised to life, we have told lies about God by saying that he raised Christ to life, when he really did not.
16 So if the dead won’t be raised to life, Christ wasn’t raised to life. 17 Unless Christ was raised to life, your faith is useless, and you are still living in your sins. 18 And those people who died after putting their faith in him are completely lost. 19 If our hope in Christ is good only for this life, we are worse off than anyone else.
20 But Christ has been raised to life! And he makes us certain that others will also be raised to life. 21 Just as we will die because of Adam, we will be raised to life because of Christ. 22 Adam brought death to all of us, and Christ will bring life to all of us. 23 But we must each wait our turn. Christ was the first to be raised to life, and his people will be raised to life when he returns. 24 Then after Christ has destroyed all powers and forces, the end will come, and he will give the kingdom to God the Father.
Christ will rule until he puts all his enemies under his power, 26 and the last enemy he destroys will be death. When the Scriptures say that he will put everything under his power, they don’t include God. It was God who put everything under the power of Christ. 28 After everything is under the power of God’s Son, he will put himself under the power of God, who put everything under his Son’s power. Then God will mean everything to everyone.

Holy saturday meditation (from Peter Rollins)


Let us imagine that we have died and are waiting to stand before the judgement seat of God … Try to imagine how it feels to look over your life – what you are happy about and what you regret… Now imagine being brought into a magnificent room within which there is a great white throne. Upon this throne is a breath-taking being who shines as if full of light…
After a moment the one who sits on the throne begins to speak: ‘My name is Lucifer and I am the angel of light. I have cast your God from his throne and banished Christ to the realm of eternal death. It is I who hold the keys to this kingdom. I am the gatekeeper of paradise and it is for me to decide who shall enter and who shall be forsaken.’
Now imagine that this angel stretches out his vast arms and says, ‘In my right hand I hold eternal life and in my left I hold death. For those who would bow down and acknowledge me as Lord, I shall grant them safe passage into paradise, but those who refuse I will vanquish to death with their Christ.’
After this the devil rnoves his arms so that each of his hands is placed before you and asks, ‘What do you choose?’


It is only as we experience Holy Saturday that we can ask whether we would follow Christ regardless of heaven or heil, regardless of pain or pleasure, whether we would follow in the midst of the uncertainty that Holy Saturday brings to our lives. It is only here that we can ask if we have truly offered ourselves to God for no reason other than the desire to offer ourselves as a gift. Faith does not die here, rather it is forged here.

(from the book ‘How (not) to speak of God’ by PeterRollins)

Would you still follow Jesus? Would I?

Do we follow Jesus for Jesus, or would we just take any way to eternal life available? whatever it would involve?