Friday, 31 October 2008

Religion, power and money

Maybe you know the joke: two Jews stroll around St. Peter in Rome - tourists I suppose - and suddenly they see the Pope arriving in a black Mercedes 600 or so. Said one to the other: "You see that, Shlomo! That's what I call a career. Their Jesus Christ came into Jerusalem on a donkey and now look at his successor: he travels in this big car!

That's only an introduction into the subject.

I know a few people who seem to be deeply religious and what I am saying here does not concern them. They are religious and religion is a means for them to be good to others and at peace with themselves.

No, I am talking of the upper echelons of those various religions that thrive on this unhappy planet. The bosses of these institutions, the movers and shakers, the chiefs and CEO's of all these numerous and different creeds.

They are all talking, endlessly and volubly and what do they say, all of them: "The other religions are very bad, stick to mine, the only true one". Or even better, more convincing: "If you leave this one, you'll be dead in no time".

And they are right, from their point of view. Religion means profitable and continuous business, steady income and thus the power to keep the stuff smoothly flowing in. Who would like to loose his customers to the competition?

It should be said, to be true, here in Western Europe, religion has fallen on harsh times. The number of the faithful is dwindling year by year, nearly all churches stay empty most of the time - they serve now as a tourist attraction and are used for social customs by the "Four-Wheel-Christians", those who drive there for baptism, marriage and burial.

But this is not the end of religion in Europe. The potential for brisk business continues to exist and numerous start-ups are competing for customers. First, there are the immigrants from Africa and Asia - the Muslims - plus all those numerous minority creeds that cater mostly for us Europeans, a huge untapped potential in the spirituality business. The Moonies, the Scientologists, all those overfed Swamis from India who sponsor their Ashrams here and there for a regular fee, the Buddhist and Zen monks in their yellow uniform who don't feed on a daily rice bowl but on a more substantial fare. Let's not forget the Mormons from Utah/USA, always neatly dressed in white shirts and tie who propose their kind of paradise against a tenth of my income. Same for Jehova's Witnesses and last not least all those Evangelicals made in USA who try to re-Bible us. Honestly, I don't know in which way they would cash in later - but my American friends are certainly able to supply some input on that matter.

They all keep a kind of low profile. They are - for the moment - a tiny minority and thus are very tolerant. But on their home turf, where they happen to be important because numerous, you might experience a very different tune. The fight for supremacy is on and no kidding about it. Want some examples:

Buddhism: splendid dictatorship in Burma/Myranmar. The very affluent rulers there give lavishly to the official monks and monasteries. For the rest, the country is poor.In Sri Lanka they wage a bloody civil war against the Hindus in the North. No compromise in sight.

Communism: just say you would get rid of the commies and you are eligible for a prolonged sojurn in a labour camp where the only washing is brain washing.

Islam: in Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi-Arabia you face death in case you decide to quit Muslim religion for another one.

Jewish religion in Israel: land grabbing and evictions of the locals in Palestine go on there for dozens of years.

Hinduism: killing Christians and Muslims in India during well organized riots seems to be on the agenda of a political party there.

Christianity: we are the only good ones, everybody knows that. And besides, this post is already too long (as always). So, if you don't agree, just make a comment to complement the picture.

Monday, 20 October 2008


When I made my military service at the German Air Force we were lodged in rooms of four in kind of barracks. One night at about 12 pm or so, my room mate came back from a drinking expedition.

I heard him singing/talking/laughing to himself, on the other side of the closed door and I tried to stop him from entering. I shoved a broom under the door handle and told him to go to hell or sleep in the sink.

He did not insist and went away but some minutes later the chap entered through the window. While crawling into the room he vomited copiously on my little radio standing on the table right under the window.

That radio was precious to me, it was the very first thing I bought with my own money earned by working during school holidays. He vomited so much on it that the little thing nearly disappeared under it.

From that day on I am regretfully unable to show any tolerance for active drunkards. I mean I shall not help someone drunk who cannot walk upright and is falling down. Must be the vomit,I fear.

On the other hand, I love drinking songs. Please lend your ear to Ivan Rebroff, one of the deepest basso voices I know and nevertheless able to go into high pitch (near the end of this song). It's about someone sitting in a wine cellar and telling how he feels. "Im tiefen Keller", composed in 1802.

Lots of my friends and acquaintances drink too much. They are never drunk - at least I've never witnessed this - and when it is obvious they have had too much at a party, there is always their obliging wife who takes to the steering wheel.

Strange world. If you drink too much and let other see it you become a social outcast in no time. But if you are a tea-totaler - total abstinence from alcohol - then very easily you achieve the same goal.

As to me, I like to drink a glass of red wine in the evening. Just one glass. And I have been drunk once in Paris in a restaurant where we went with friends. My wife was clasping me and I needed it to prevent zigzag-walking towards home.

Now have a look here. This is out of Carmina Burana "In taberna quando sumus" (when we are in the tavern drinking)

Composed in Latin about 800 years ago, music from Carl Orff. To those of you who have enough fortitude, try to follow the music in Latin (right in YouTube). It's great - no need to know Latin, just for fun - especially the second part where he gives the list of all those who drink. Quite exhaustive. One more point: when you play this, make it loud, very, very loud. This is not for the faint hearted.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Georgyporgy's ideas about fashion

Living in a farmer's village, people who dress "à la mode", on top the current fashion don't abound. In fact, you could say we just cover us, we don't dress as long as we stay here in the country side.

Last weekend, our village club made an excursion to Brive-La-Gaillarde, a beautiful city 80 km (50 miles) from here, near the Dordogne valley.

Everybody was dressed up, did his/her best to show that we might be living behind the moon but not on excursion day. And in fact, looking around at the slick city people passing by and comparing them to us I must admit: there is absolutely no difference in the cover-up.

Nearly everybody clad in shades of gray, brown or black. The eternal November under blazing sunshine. Look for yourself, I am not kidding

That was our guide from the local Tourist Office. Good looking gal, very chirpy but dressed like the oldies from here.

Here she is again. Could be my best photo made on this trip. Could not resist showing it to humanity.

And here, look at the lady, half hidden, on the right side of the photo. She and her husbald are quite well off, big car and so. Have a look at those pants she is wearing. Shit brown and full of creases. To me she looked as if she got her outfit at the local outlet "Christians care for the needy", or the Kathrina Refugees Center. You pay 50 cents or even nothing and you get some clothes in case you were obliged to leave home in pajamas or in a nightshirt.

My wife told me this stuff must have have cost a pretty penny, latest fashion, boutique stuff.

This pic has been made in Samoëns, French Alps, during our last holidays. Look at the couple in front. He is having his symphony in grey and she is is trying to communicate with him color wise. And under her white shirt there hangs something slightly grey. And both are having those "high water pants", very good for fording rivers without getting wet.

I know that's today's fashion but I don't like it. Why should I? Colorless and miserably looking, as if everybody gets ready for for World's End.

I can't help thinking that fashion is for people who have no taste of their own.

Sometimes I wonder if there is meaning behind this. Why do we live in this colorless world? Our buildings are cheap, square and devoid of color, our cars are mostly in "elegant light grey", even the girls manage to have strands of grey 30 years before this happens naturally to them.

And that was not always like this. We have evolved, lately. But as I see it, we are on a downward slope.

That is the Changing Of The Guard in London. Two hundred years ago, all over Europe, those who could pay were colorfully dressed.

And that is a numerical reproduction showing how the Parthenon in Athens/Greece may have looked like around 450 BC when it was constructed.

So, in a nutshell, my message to the world at large. Dress at least colorful, throw the grey or shit brown stuff in the dustbin or any other bin available. Stop complaining. End of message.