Archive for the ‘New Humanist Magazine’ Category
If you’re anything like me, you’re not particularly interested in the royal wedding. Perhaps you have republican leanings, or you can’t bear the mawkishness of it all, or you disapprove of the terrible waste of money. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that this cloud has a silver lining – it has presented the nation with a golden opportunity to have some fun. Let’s face it, an opportunity to have a prank in the glare of the world’s media doesn’t come along very often. And the nation’s satirists and lampooners have been rising to the occasion with gusto.
To begin with, we had the Royal Wedding Sick Bag, available in letterbox scarlet, royal blue and gold (limited edition). This was followed by – to graze just the very tip of the iceberg – a book of irreverent lookalike photographs by Alison Jackson called Kate and Wills up the Aisle, and a report on thespoof.com that the happy couple intend to tie the knot wearing “full nuclear radiation protection” as a gesture of solidarity with the Japanese. And it’s even rumoured that the Little Britain team is planning to stage an alternative ceremony, with Matt Lucas playing Kate Middleton.
But no spoof piqued global interest quite as much as the Jewish Chronicle’s deadpan story which ran on the festival of Purim (where Jews get drunk to commemorate the execution of a malevolent Persian minister, four hundred years before Christ). Kate and Wills, the Chronicle reported, are planning to acknowledge “the multi-cultural nature of modern British society” in their nuptials. While the ceremony will be “completely Anglican in nature,” the happy couple will smear “mehendi” paste on each other in accordance with Muslim tradition, then, following Hindu custom, offer each other a “morsel of food”. Finally, the Chronicle quipped, the prince will “smash a glass with his foot” in a nod to the Jewish tradition.
The response to this nugget of foolishness was extraordinary. News outlets all around the world took it seriously, including Israel’s leading broadsheet, Ha’aretz (who, red-faced, have since removed the report from their website). Meanwhile, the Twitterverse took the ball and ran with it. Wiccans demanded a human sacrifice in Trafalgar Square; Jedis suggested that Charles lop off Wills’ hand with a light sabre; and Pastafarians – devotees of Dawkins’s Flying Spaghetti Monster – began lobbying for a “traditional” pasta-based feast.
All great fun, of course, but for my wife and me the Jewish Chronicle touched a nerve. Read the rest of the article on the New Humanist website
It may be a little odd to open a review — rather than close it — with a conclusion. But in the case of Ours Are The Streets, a novel by the Derbyshire youngster Sunjeev Sahota about a homegrown suicide bomber, such a break with convention is called for. Here goes: it didn’t blow me away.
OK, OK. But if you thought that pun was in poor taste, compare it with a line from the novel itself: “it were touching midnight when he got in and hung his brown bomber jacket up.” Yes, I know, two wrongs don’t make a right. But the difference is that my pun was intentional. Sunjeev Sahota’s was not. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s not easy being an atheist. Your rational self informs you that God – or Zeus, or the Ju-Ju, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster – does not exist. Your intuition, however, often has other ideas. Despite your best efforts, you can’t rid yourself of the feeling that things happen for a reason; that there exists some benevolent force greater than yourself; that departed relatives are still, in some sense, around. After all, whose brain isn’t prone to breaking the wind of superstition from time to time? And, more importantly: why?