Christians upset about Muslim billboard

I know, those crazy Christians are always upset about something. For that matter, so are the Muslims. Let’s be honest, the religious of any persuasion have always got something to moan about. But it’s been a while since I lampooned a bit of religious idoicy here on The Word and when I saw this article in the Sydney Morning Herald, I knew I had to comment.

In a nutshell, an awareness campaign by Islamic group MyPeace has resulted in some billboards going up to try to point out that Muslims really aren’t so different to Christians, or anyone else for that matter. Of course, they’re just people like all of us. The religious, regardless of persuasion, are all far more alike than many of them will ever be comfortable admitting. If nothing else, they share a large portion of willfull ignorance. And, that one foible aside, they’re no different to anyone else. But I digress.

One of these awareness billboards says: JESUS: A PROPHET OF ISLAM. And there’s a number and a website.

Some Christians are upset because it demotes Jesus from the son of god to a mere prophet and thereby injures their delicate religious sensibilities. And here’s where the relevance to this blog comes in – I can turn anything I find interesting into a debate on words, language and storytelling after all. The Muslims in question are trying to point out that they revere Jesus too, just not in the same way. Meanwhile, the Christians are upset that the status of Jesus is not being recognised. What we have here are two fantasy epics warring about who has the better angle on truth, when, in fact, neither of them have anything even vaguely resembling proof. Ah, religious tolerance – what’s that then? Some of the quotes really made me laugh.

One complainant said that Jesus “must not be associated with such [an] aggressive religion”. Oh, the irony! She burns!

Here’s my favourite:

“What [my child] knows of Islam she has learnt from watching mainstream news broadcasts and to have her saviour identified as being part of this malicious cult was very traumatic!”

Your child told you that, did she? After a considered exploration of available religions and a decision to be Christian? Or did you just tell your kid that’s what she thought?

Anyway, a complaint was lodged with the Advertising Standards Bureau and, thankfully, common sense prevailed:

”such a statement does not, of itself, discriminate against or vilify people who hold different beliefs… The board acknowledged that the Islam faith does consider that Jesus is a prophet of Mohammed… and that it is not unreasonable for children to be exposed to a variety of information in their daily lives, some of which may conflict with the views with which they are raised”.

No shit, Sherlock. We can be thankful for that decision, at least.

MyPeace founder Diaa Mohamed said, ”[The advertisement] conveys the message that, like Christians, we the Muslims also regard Jesus with extreme reverence. The idea being that the people will see beyond the words in the advertisements and recognise that Islam and Muslims are not much different from any other ordinary Australian.”

Which you’d think was quite fair enough. I wonder if he would be equally magnaminous if the Christians put up billboards all over town saying, “Mohammad is not a prophet of god and the only way to heaven is through Jesus.” The Muslims would be fine with that, right?

These kind of things give me so much fuel for characterisation and plot in fiction. People really are fascinating creatures. Or, to put it another way, as my old Grandad used to say, “There’s nought so strange as folk.”


A few funny words

I’m often entertained by notices in public places, from street signs to restaurant menus and everything in between. Sometimes it’s a case of English as a second language creating the funnies. Other times it’s people trying too hard to say the right thing. After Freecon this Saturday a bunch of us went out for dinner and I found some comments on a menu that seem to be the result of both these things.

The photo hasn’t come out all that well unfortunately. It’s the red bits that made me laugh. The one at the bottom under Spaghetti Vongole says:

WARNING: Please allow on rare occasion clams may have an insignificant minor sand content.

Well, it’s either insignificant or minor. And if you can notice it while eating the clams, it’s really neither.

The one above that is even better:

WARNING: Please allow on extremely rare occasions, Neonata Fritters may contain Sea Matter. While extreme caution & preparation go into preparing this dish Sea Matter may appear in the final dish.

There is so much wrong with this sentence. First and foremost, what the fuck is Sea Matter? That could mean anything from a shark to a turd. Also, notice that extreme preparation goes into preparing that dish. Is that preparation while bungee jumping or something?

And it was a night for weird wordage. While at the restaurant I was sending an email from my iPhone about the board game High Frontier. I made a slight typo in the word “boardgame” and look what the old Autocorrect suggested:

That’s right Apple. You won’t show boobs in any of your applications, but you’ll jump at the chance to suggest “bisexuals” when I’ve typed “biardgame”.

It’s a funny old world.


You have to dream big

I’m a big believer in reaching for the stars. If you only ever have mediocre dreams, you’ll probably only ever have medicore results. I firmly believe in working your arse off and holding onto those dreams of great success in whatever it is you want to do. If you don’t have faith in your ability to achieve great things, why should anyone else?

Work hard, dream big, don’t be a tit. That’s my philosophy lesson for today.

With that in mind, Joanna Penn pointed this out to me and I thought it was hugely entertaining. So I’m using it to dream big. Click on the pics for a bigger version. Go and try it yourself.

(I’m not sure if I’m expecting my books to one day be Broadway musicals, but that would be kinda mad.)


We’ve tried three times already

I was driving home this weekend and I saw this. I apologise for the blurry picture, but I had to snap it as I drove by. It did make me laugh:

Fourth Coming Auction

At first I thought that maybe it was a clever way of saying that you’ll get a good price, because it’s been on the market three times before or something like that. But the fourth (ironically) bullet point say, “1st time offered in 40 years”. So there’s no excuse.