The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Friday, April 13, 2012

No, He Does Not Need A Stupid Exorcism

CBC is reporting that an exorcist was being sought for a potential case of demonic possession. You know, I really wish that news anchors could have a "facepalm" gesture for stories like this. Let's follow the timeline:
According to church officials, a priest was called to a Saskatoon home by a woman who said her uncle showed signs of being possessed by the devil.
So we have established that the niece is a religious person who actually believes that some guy in a dress with no counseling training might be able to help her emotionally disturbed uncle. Alrighty.
At the home, the priest encountered a shirtless middle-aged man, slouched on a couch and holding his head in his hands.
So the priest showed up to Scarborough(or insert local edge-of-town, hicksville, big-hair, stripmall township of which people make fun)! Ba dum dum!
The man had used a sharp instrument to carve the word Hell on his chest.
Ok, so now we're into self-abusive, crazy behavior that betrays the individual's need for professional counseling. He's crying out for help and all he gets is a deluded priest with a cross who is going to reinforce the delusions and "treat" them by blessing him. Awesome. I'm invested in this story; what happens next?
When the priest entered the room, the man spoke in the third person, saying "He belongs to me. Get out of here," using a strange voice.
It's weird that something basically straight out of the movie, The Exorcist is actually being seen in a "possessed" person, isn't it? No? It's not? Oh, I stand corrected.
The priest told CBC News that he had never seen anything like this and was concerned enough to call police, for safety reasons.
Pat on the back due to the priest here as he at least had the common sense to call the police. It's a small pat, but hey, it's a pat nonetheless.
He said he then blessed the man, saying he belonged to the good side, to Jesus. With that, the man's voice returned to normal for a short time...The unusual voice returned when police arrived, and the priest continued to bless the man until he resumed a more normal composure.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, right? The only thing the priest could do was bless the guy. What else was there? Checkers? The man losing his shit is obviously a religious fella, so perhaps reassuring him that Jesus had him on the "cool list" was a positive move, but it still seems like that is playing into the delusions, doesn't it? It's like a person who says they've been abducted by UFOs joining a "support group" of others who have been "likewise abducted" so they can share their stories and spiral downward into a world of fantasy and craziness. Watch this clip from Penn & Teller's Bullshit - the CRAZY starts at 54 seconds, "support" group at 6 min, 25 secs:
Bishop Don Bolen explained that the ritual of exorcism is a very structured exercise. He said it was not clear if the Saskatoon man was possessed or experiencing a mental breakdown.
As Samuel L. Jackson said in Pulp Fiction, "Oh, well allow me to retort!" He was having a mental breakdown. I can say this with confidence because being "possessed" isn't fucking real. Pretty straightforward, really.

Did the cat drink the milk from the saucer on the floor, or was it the Blue Milk Fairy who comes through the glass in the kitchen window and slurp it up with her magic lucite straw?'s a mystery, I guess we'll never know!
"I would think there are perhaps more stories about exorcisms in Hollywood than there are on the ground," Bolen said. "But the Catholic Church teaches that there is a force of darkness, and that God is stronger than that darkness."
You'd guess that there are more in Hollywood? Holy hell, this Bolen fella needs a reality check, stat.
Church leaders in Saskatoon have been considering whether Saskatoon needs a trained exorcist.
Let me save the people of Saskatoon a little bit of their hard-earned money: NO! You do not need a goddamn exorcist. That's like asking if the city of Saskatoon needs a sabre-tooth tiger wrangler. For fuck's sake....
Anglican priest Colin Clay, who has worked with Bisztyo (a Catholic priest with "exorcism training" who retired), told CBC News the topic of exorcism touches on questions that go back centuries.

The issues revolve around the nature of evil and how to respond to people who claim they have the devil in them.
Again, I'll give a succinct answer: If someone claims to have the "devil in them", you get them professional counseling. You don't bring them to some guy who thinks there's an invisible all-loving man in the sky and another freak living in the core of the Earth who makes you bad. Sometimes treating "fire with fire" is a really bad idea.
"The churches have to respond," Clay said. "And they'll either do it by saying — some churches will say — 'Well that's the devil, and the devil is at work in the world and we've got to deal with it,' or the churches will say, 'Well there's certainly evil in the world, whether there's an actual Satan or devil, there's certainly evil in the world, and it has a terrible effect on people's lives,' and so we've got to respond to it."
*Sigh* Yes, there's evil; no, there's no devil. The way you deal with evil is you either kill it (the person), you throw their ass in jail, or you get them professional counseling (are you seeing a theme here yet, religious folks?). At no point in the response-tree of dealing with evil or crazy are priests involved. At all. Ever. You serve no purpose other than the most basic of social tasks (marriages for people who believe in your nonsense, funerals for people who believe in your nonsense, weekly talks to people who believe in your nonsense). Please, leave the serious tasks to people who have put in the time to actually know what the fuck it is they're doing.
"I take evil very, very seriously," Clay said. "I take the effect that it has on people very seriously, but I don't think that there's any quick fix. The word exorcism worries me a little bit, because it's been given a Hollywood sort of flavour to it, and it's not as simple as that. You don't just say you've got the devil, I'm going to drive it out."
No, YOU don't do anything. YOU just stick to your basics and leave the mental breakdowns and chest carvings to the professionals, please. Clay is right that there are no quick fixes, but no part of that long journey to recovery involves dealing with some quack in a dress talking about their Sky-Daddy who's going to beat up the other bad Daddy-Down-There.

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Monday, April 09, 2012

Religious People Being All "Religious"

A small public school district in Ontario has decided to ban the distribution of Gideon bibles. Apparently, the bibles have been made available to grade 5 students for decades now (flying under the radar, I assume) in quite a few school boards, most of which have already banned the practice.

What do you think happened when the ban was proposed? Hmm...Perhaps the religioius people:
unleashed a torrent of threatening calls and hateful emails directed at trustees...Some racist sentiment and question trustees’ patriotism
Well keep the balloons in your pocket when you call 911 because I'm going to die of not-surprise.

It seems that this is what usually happens when a group has a special privilege that gets taken away to make everything more fair. The group (in this case, Christian religious people) feels like it is giving up ground it has won, which it is. But they don't see that by giving up said ground, everyone is now equal. I'm sure that sentiment would snap into focus pretty quickly if the Nation of Islam was to hand out free copies of the Koran to all the grade 5 students, or if a secular group handed out copies of The Demon Haunted World (not that they're equal).

To be fair, the people who have been acting crazy (at least one who made a death threat) are in the minority, as per usual. Hopefully the crazies won't sway public opinion and they'll fade into the woodwork where they belong soon enough.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

TCM - Totally Crappy "Medicine"

As I am a massage therapist, I work at a clinic. This clinic offers acupuncture as one of its treatments. It annoys me, but I let it slide for the most part so I can have a pleasant work environment, although I do let my opinions be known if asked directly.

Because of the acupuncture, the clinic receives a newsletter called, "Eastern Currents". This is chock full of the strong woo and begs to be chopped at with the sharpest of skeptical axes. Let us take a few swings, shall we?

This flyer I have talks about the 9th Annual Canadian Oriental Medical Symposium and describes some of the events/seminars offered. For example, on Friday, March 9th there was a talk on "Facial Diagnosis" by someone named Lillian Bridges. Please read the description of the talk below:
Lillian's morning talk explores the signs of Jing deficiency on the face, and the markers that show what kinds of Qi need to be made to buffer the Jing. In her afternoon workshop, you will learn how to diagnose the Qi of the organs from the face. This information will be immediately applicable to clinical practice, giving more depth to your diagnoses and offering new point combinations for increasingly effective treatments where underlying emotions are involved.
Pretty straightforward, right? How many of us have tried to explain to our significant others that they have a Jing deficiency in their face? The hours that could have been saved if only I had seen the markers so I could go downstairs and make the correct plate of Qi to "buffer the Jing".

(Interesting side note: When Pete Best left the Beatles, he formed a short-lived trio named "Jingo & the Buffers". True story*)

This lady, Lillian Bridges, seems to be...weird. She believes that the face is "a hologram for who you are inside". Check out this video ("hologram" bit is at 1:14):Of course she has a book coming out. Of course she does.

Moving on (although I could spend a large amount of time back there on, "Jing deficiencies of the face"), some of the other talks/courses on offer at this conference include:

Hara Diagnoses - how to "engage the patient's Hara", whatever the hell THAT is.

Qi Gong for Cancer - The first line of the course description says that, "Qi Gong is the most extensively researched method of energy medicine in the world", but oddly when you check PubMed (here) you only get studies with researchers named either "Qi" or "Gong" and no actual papers on Qi Gong itself - the notable exception being the 18th listed paper entitled, "Effect and Mechanisms of Gong-tone music on the immunological function in rats with liver (Gan)-Qi depression and Spleen (Pi)-Qi deficiency syndrome in rats." Weird, huh? Maybe I'm not checking the right journals. Perhaps I should check in the journals that have...dammit...what's that called? Oh, right, "lower standards".

Contraindicated Acupuncture Points in Pregnancy - Hopefully they included the newly formed eyeball of the fetus. Wouldn't want to shove a needle through the mom's bellybutton and into the tiny face of the kidlet. Or maybe you do...especially if there's a deficiency of Jing.

So, yep, TCM is still full of absolute crap. The studies that come back positive for acupuncture are almost universally flawed in some critical way(s) and the well-controlled studies come back negative or neutral. I have no idea what the fuck a "Jing deficiency" is, nor to I care to find out. Any comments or educational tidbits are, as always, welcome.

*Not a true story

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Suck My Neck

The application of a vaccuum force on the skin which leads to the breaking of surface capillaries causing (usually) mild brusing.

The above defines the TCM practice of "cupping"...

...also a hickey.

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Monday, April 02, 2012

The Noise Has Gotten Duller

You know that noise? The noise you hear when you're in a big city, or perhaps with a kid who has colic; it's an unending hum or background weeping/crying/screaming. It never goes away and you can only tune it out for so long before it grates on your brain to an extent that wears you down. You just need to get away, run to the woods, call in favors from the grandparents, anything to remove yourself from the situation so you won't, as Louis CK said in one of his bits, "end up in the paper tomorrow."

That's how I felt in late January of this year. To a much lower level, I still feel that way now, but it's waning. I heard about stories and statements and nonsense that I could have written about here, but it was just tedious and felt like I was trying to clear up the shit of a thousand elephants with a grapefruit spoon. It was time to take a break from the online blathering.

Now that a few months have passed, I think it's just about time to get back to the business of taking up the grapefruit spoon and shoveling away. Perhaps "shoveling" is a tad grandiose for what it is that happens here. Usually I just point out something silly or annoying; make some crude, profanity-laden commentary; then wrap it up with a pithy observation often making some inane pop-culture reference that six people will get, most of whom will think I'm weird. Such is the yoke I hoist upon my scaly shoulders.

All that said, with any luck and a bit of spit on the hands, this blog should be up and running at medium speed for the forseeable future. It will likely take a bit for me to get used to sitting down and tapping the keys again, but writing often (at least once a week, hopefully) is a goal. I hope the twelve of you will stick it out.

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