Thursday, August 19, 2010

Falun Gong - harmless exercise fanatics or weird cult

I'm sure you will have come across Falun Gong folks exercising in some public space or other. There's invariably a chap handing out leaflets with graphic pictures of their followers' persecution at the hand of Chinese authorities. They carefully craft a picture of being a religious grouping practicing their exercises and being all about compassion, tolerance, benevolence, and other nice things. Well, for better or worse, they're anything but tolerant or compassionate. Here's a couple of quotes I compiled using documents from their official website featuring the teaching of their 'Master', a bloke by the name of Li Hongzhi. I'm presenting these quotes here not to suggest that it is ok for the Chinese authorities to torture Falun Gong adherents, but to say that I agree with the authorities verdict that this is a dangerous cult. The cult is clearly racist and homophobic, not to forget outright crazy (see the 'Masters' blabber about aliens below). Think twice about supporting their campaigns.

This blog post is also available in Chinese translation here.

Racist:

"Question: If people of mixed race practice cultivation, which paradise will they go to?

Teacher: As far as humans go, people of mixed race no longer have corresponding human races in heaven. If they’re cultivators, their outward appearances are no longer important and it all depends on the person’s Primordial Spirit (yuanshen). If his Primordial Spirit is of the white race, he’s white; if his Primordial Spirit is of the yellow race, he’s yellow; if his Primordial Spirit is of the black race, he’s black. It’s a different matter if he practices cultivation.
Make sure you have your kids learn Chinese; you can’t lose the characteristics of your yellow race. Since there’s no place for you in the Caucasian paradises, you still need to return to the paradises of the yellow race’s people."
"Question: Different races have different Heavenly Kingdoms. Why don’t black people from Africa have any?

Master: Black people, too, have the gods that created them. It’s just that they forgot them rather early."

Crazy and Racist:
"the way alien beings get human beings to shake free of the gods is to mix the races, causing human beings to become rootless people, just like the plant hybrids people make nowadays. South Americans, Central Americans, Mexicans and some people in South East Asia—all of these races have been mixed. None of this can evade the gods’ eyes. Alien beings have made rather extensive preparations for overtaking human beings."


Homophobic:
"Why was their civilization destroyed? Homosexual things have been found in the archeological artifacts and remains of ancient Greek civilization. The lifestyle at that time was very corrupt, degenerate, and extravagant."

"People now want to find a partner of the same sex. Gods think that people do that because they no longer have human values. You are wantonly indulging your thoughts. Your thoughts, like the ones I just mentioned, are not actually you. The mentality that makes you homosexual was driven by postnatally-formed bad things. But you yourself were numbed by them and went along with them and wallowed in the mud. You need to find yourself again and stop doing those filthy things. Gods view them as filthy. No matter whether a government permits it, the law of your government is not the truth of the universe. That’s because the law of a government is made by humans, and when humans make laws, they have the intention to rule and punish others, or they make laws against their conscience in order to protect things and gain power or votes. So they are not made with good intentions."


Adele Mercier did some digging of her own and requested I add a further heading:




Sexist and misogynistic 

"According to the theory of yin and yang, females should be gentle and not strong. Males are yang  and strong, while females are yin and gentle. When strength and gentleness are put together, it’s sure to be really harmonious. ... this society has degenerated, there’s been a reversal of yin and yang in modern times, and it’s most noticeable in China. Look at the athletes—women always win more medals, while men seldom win medals.  Why is it that yin is very strong and yang is very weak in everything? This factor is caused by the reversal of yin and yang. And then there’s the side-effect of advocating so-called women’s liberation. It is the degeneration of society’s morality that causes the changes in people’s hearts in society

"Question: In today’s society, the concept of equality between men and women prevails. As female disciples, how can we be gentle and tender while progressing diligently in cultivation?

Teacher: People are saying nowadays that women are becoming more and more liberal and their personalities are getting stronger. ... If in your daily life you’re like a gentle, true woman, your competence will let you have everything you deserve all the same. You don’t necessarily have to express yourself in tough and manly ways to obtain those things. In other words, if you’re a woman, you must act like one, and be kind and gentle. Only then can you gain respect and love from men. If you aren’t kind and gentle, men will be afraid of you when they see you.  I remember that in the West before the fifties, men were very gentlemanly, and they treated women with respect. And because women acted like women, men loved to help them, respect them, and care for them. At the same time, in a womanly way, women cherished their husbands. That was human behavior. Yet today you have corrupted it all.

In Asian society, women have become overly strong, causing the men to become like women.  If the way of the society becomes like this, will men still be able to walk around with confidence and self-respect? Will they have their manhood? Two people can’t be the head of one household, just as there can’t be two kings of the same mountain. There has to be one head of the household. 

It’s even more blatant in Western society ... The sense of a woman relying on her man when they’re married is simply nonexistent. I’m telling you, that is not how human beings should be! (Applause)"

" When a person becomes a Buddha through cultivation, he or she will have a male body. ... I don’t hold any prejudice against women. ... Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, if you have done bad things or done wrong in certain respects, you might reincarnate in a female body in your next life.... Perhaps women don’t easily generate large amounts of karma."

Monday, August 09, 2010

Catholic Church is at it again and Iran doesn't fail us either

There was an opportunity, and senior Catholic Church management grabbed it. As is routine in Catholic agitprop, disasters are being used to ruminate about God's punishment for human failings (aka 'sins'). Well, the Love Parade (a pretty pointless commercial music festival in Germany) recently translated into 21 deaths and hundreds of injured people. Official investigations are still ongoing as to who should be held responsible for these deaths and injuries.

Well, God man and Salzburg's archbishop Andreas Laun said in a commentary the following (the translation is mine and, as you know, I'm not a certified interpreter, so check for the original German language text here): 'The Love Parade and the participation in it, leaving aside its disgusting imagery, are objectively a kind of insurrections against the Creation and God's order. They are sin and invitation to sin.' As our God man knows, there has been public uproar in the past when his organization decided that this and this or she and he had been sinful or sinners and deserving of God's punishment. This time then he's a bit smarter and leaves open the question of whether the deaths are God's punishment for the young people's participation in the Love Parade (really nothing much other than an open air music festival). Instead Mr Laun goes on ruminating about why people reject the idea of a punishing God. He concludes eventually that there is a punishing God and that God punishes out of 'love'. We should not then reject the idea that what happened in Duisburg, including the 21 deaths and more than 500 serious injured Love Parade attendees, might be God's punishment. That is what true love, Christian style, might well require. Mr Laun can't understand why we can't see the world by his light...

Remains just one question: Why ain't God busy punishing his pedophile earthly representatives and those in the church hierarchy who cover(ed) their tracks? Why is God busy with young people going to a musical festival? Odd chap indeed. Strange, strange priorities.

Well, as to our all-time God favorite, the Islamic Republic of Iran (different God, you might note, same principle), is busy trying to hang an 18 year old kid, Ebrahim Hamidi, alleging - demonstrably falsely I might add - that he's engaged in same sex acts. Boggles the mind as ever. I can never decide whether North Korea or Iran are my all-time favorite caricatures of states (well, after that all-time winner, Vatican 'state').

The lesson to be learned from it all: Where there is a God there is cruelty. Try atheism for an ethical alternative.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Weird stuff - academic appointments German style

University of Cologne
As you might know, I have worked in a whole bunch of places during my academic career, including Germany, Australia, England, South Africa, Scotland, and now Canada. In all of these places bar the first one (Germany) a clear ritual is followed. You are invited to a job interview, you got to do some loop and hoop jumping activities (give a lecture, meet students etc) and after a day or two you fly home. Everywhere (including South Africa) the institution that short-listed you will cover your airfare (sometimes covering a business fare, usually though sticking to economy - we're humanities based cheapskates after all), your hotel and usually your meals. Not so in Germany, universities that shortlist you expect you to pay your own way; if you're lucky they might pay for your meal and/or a night in a B&B. Worse, while in the other  countries, once a job offer has been extended to you, you will get a reasonably generous allowance to help with your international removal expenses, in Germany usually you're expected to pay for your own removal expenses. From my own experience, the older you get the more of your life you carry on your back with you, so it gets consecutively more expensive. So, all of this makes me wonder: why is Germany so determined to stay non-competitive when it comes to trying to attract top scholars of international standing? Clearly, how the process is being handled suggests that the country's universities don't care too much about who accepts their offer eventually, as long as whoever ends up there comes free of charge.

And before you ask, no, I did not recently apply for a job in Germany, a German friend of mine did.