Tag Archives: religion

The Greatest Loss in Online Christendom: RIP, The Babylon Bee

I’ve never been ashamed to openly admit that I’m a Christian (or that I was a virgin, for that matter, way back in 2011 when I still updated this blog on the reg). That being said, the truth is that I spend precious little time in faith-related spaces on the internet. I might pause mid-scroll when I spot an interesting thread from /r/christianity, but the majority of my engagement with religious writing online comes from Facebook, where a friend will share a link to a Relevant article or a rebuttal from a Professor of Theology at Wheaton College to a write-up on how his school has become too “woke.” But that wasn’t always the case. There was a point in time, almost exactly six years ago, when the faith-related internet content I read and enjoyed was of a decidedly different bent.

The Babylon Bee, March 17, 2016

The Babylon Bee was launched on March 1st, 2016, and by all accounts was something believers never even knew we wanted: a Christian version of The Onion. In its early days we were treated, and I write this with complete seriousness, to such satiric bangers as “Worship Leader Caught In Infinite Loop Between Bridge And Chorus” and “Witty Church Sign Sparks Revival.” These were articles clearly written with the kind of inside baseball that is so integral to comedy, deftly lampooning the life experiences of countless Christians. And, just like The Onion, The Babylon Bee was an immediate hit on platforms like Facebook, where the headline alone is enough to sell the joke.

As the years went by, however, I noticed that not only were fewer members of my various circles linking to the site, but those that were yielded stories that were less and less focused on (sorry about the alliteration) critiquing contemporary Christian culture and more and more focused on…politics.

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Buddhism Is ****ed Up Too

This was the image I stumbled across as I was pondering what to write about today:

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Click image above for the actual imgur post.

“The world is not only for Muslims.”

That was the focus of the person who posted this image, but I found his Islamophobic sentiment to be a whole lot less interesting than the way he chose to show it.

There’s any number of pictures out there that could convey the same sentiment, but he zeroed in on the one with men in saffron robes. Why?

“When even Buddhists don’t like you – you know you’ve ****ed up.”

Because they’re Buddhists, right?

Everyone knows Buddhists.

They’re the nice people with the shaved heads and bare feet. The ones with that perpetual look of serenity and profound wisdom. The ones who practically ooze peace and goodwill out of their chakras.

It’s the thing that Jack Kerouac and all the beatniks fell in love with. The thing that melded so beautifully with the hippies in the 60s. Love, altruism, placidity – that’s what Buddhism is, right?

Or maybe it isn’t. Continue reading

There Are Actual Newts Less Slimy Than Gingrich

This week’s post won’t be a long one. After all, there’s not much to say that we (and a thousand others) haven’t said already.

It’s been another day, another senseless and tragic attack.

Another wave of people sending their “thoughts and prayers”, another wave of people mocking the ease and meaninglessness of profile filters.

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Another reaction of people pointing out our own hypocrisy as attacks twice as deadly (though no more or less terrible) go without mention in Africa, Asia, South America.

And nothing we’re going to do in the next days and weeks will change what’s already happened. The only thing we can do is decide how to react, and readers, please don’t react like serial philanderer and defender of “traditional marriage” Newt Gingrich.

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You’d think a guy who does this would be more thrilled about the prospect of a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy…

His reaction to last week’s appalling attack in Nice has been to propose- I kid you not- a “Sharia test”, in which all Muslim Americans would be tested to see if they support fundamentalist Islamic law. Any that did would be promptly deported, Gingrich says.

Now some of you might be saying, “But Gordon, you stalwart vassal of decency and dignity, is that really so absurd? Gingrich himself stated that he doesn’t have problem with moderate Muslims and that he’s even “glad to have them as citizens.” And you support the complete separation of church and state, so wouldn’t you be cool with this?”

No, and I’ll tell you why.

Answer me this- what’s a “Muslim?”

It’s someone who believes in Islam, right?

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Free State of Mind: Andrew Govender Discusses Acting, Tradition, and Religion

Free-State-Updated-PosterThis is the third and final installment of “Free State of Mind”, a series of Q&As with the cast and crew of a South African film currently making the rounds at film festivals. You can read my review here, find out more about its creation from producer Terwadkar Rajiv here, and get some insight on how co-lead Nicola Breytenbach’s prepared for her role here.

Today’s interview is with Andrew Govender, who plays Ravi, the other half of the couple at Free State‘s core. Another former model like his co-star, he began his career at just sixteen-years-old. Being crowned Mr. South Africa in 2012 is only one of his many achievements, which include creating the Andrew Govender Book Club with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and being involved in various awareness campaigns.

Given that their characters share a few interesting parallels Govender answers a number of the same questions that Breytenbach did, with a few that are unique to Ravi himself.


An arranged marriage is the biggest barrier that Ravi faces in his relationship with Jeanette. How would you say he views that tradition and what it means for his future?

I think he respects it and accepts it. He was brought up in a traditional Indian family and those are Indian traditions. However, when he gets to meet his arranged wife he realises that he doesn’t have much in common with her. That’s when he meets Jeanette and falls madly in love. He knows that he shouldn’t be pursuing a relationship with her because it’s illegal during that time for inter-racial relationships. However, he can’t help himself and that results in detrimental consequences.

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Ravi makes it clear that he’s concerned about his sister’s safety, but what does he ultimately think about what his family does under cover of darkness?

He understands that they are doing it for a greater cause and he respects that. However, he does care deeply for them and doesn’t want anything to happen to them when they go on these missions. He’s close to his family and wants to protect them.

From what I can tell this is your first role in a feature film. How was that experience, especially with it being a South African production instead of a big Hollywood movie?

It was an incredible experience. I got the opportunity to work with some really talented South African actors. I learnt a lot by being on set and having these actors mentor me throughout the filming process.

Our director Sallas de Jager was also really supportive and helped me to give the best performance I could. Even though this was a South African film, the production standards on the movie were really high. That can be attested to with all the international awards that the movie has won. I really hope that I will have the opportunity to work on more films both in South Africa and Hollywood. Acting is really something that I enjoy immensely.

How much did you know about South Africa’s Immorality Acts before signing on to this film?

Not a lot. I grew up post Apartheid, so most of what I knew was from what I heard, not what I could have experienced. It was quite eyeopening to learn more about that time in South Africa’s history and how Indian people were treated. I gathered as much information as I could from my parents about their experiences during that time. I also was really fortunate that my acting teacher had been in an inter-racial relationship and she was able to help me understand my character better.

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Religion plays a large part in Free State for both Ravi and Jeanette’s families. Did you come from a religious background, and did this have any affect on how you played the role?

Yes, I did. I grew up in a conservative traditional Indian family so religion was important to us. My character was also brought up with the same core values and so religion would have been important to him too. There’s a scene in the movie where my character meditates and also seeks relationship advice from a guru. So we are aware that he relies on religion to guide him in the choices that he makes.

Free State of Mind: Actress Nicola Breytenbach on Getting in Character

Free-State-Updated-PosterThis is the second installment of “Free State of Mind”, a series of Q&As with the cast and crew of a South African film currently making the rounds at film festivals. You can read my review here, and find out more about its creation from producer Terwadkar Rajiv here.

Today’s interview is with Nicola Breytenbach, who plays Jeanette, one of the two romantic leads. While she has spent the past several years as a successful model, with her career taking her to runways across the world, Free State marks the beginning of her acting career. Just last month The Blue Mauritius began filming in Montreal, with the US and German co-production being her second ever silver screen role.


Jeanette is first introduced returning home to her father after finishing law school. While it isn’t heavily covered in the film, what kind of impact do you think that education had on how she views life, especially after she meets with Ravi [co-lead and love interest]? 

As Jeanette went to Wits University, which was a more liberal university than many others, it would have changed the way she viewed and felt about apartheid and the immorality act. She pursued higher education as it was instilled upon her by Maria and her father, but her true desire was to be a wife and mother.

Jeanette was raised in the very small remote town of Memel and even though it was a Christian white community it was very sheltered, and as she says in the beginning of the film that’s why she was a real ‘political innocent’. She wasn’t exposed to the reality of it much, except for a few remote incidents which completely shocked her. As her mother also passed away at such a young age and her father had a difficult time reaching out to her because of his grief, she was raised almost solely by Maria who is black South African Zulu.

Hence when she met Ravi, she didn’t think about his race and it didn’t deter her from seeing a friendly man who went out of his way to help her in this traumatic incident of a near accident. She only saw his compassion and how selflessly he had helped her. As time goes on, they both come to the realize the severity of the situation they are in, as well as the fact that they are engaged to others, but at this point it is too late, they have already fallen in love. Continue reading

Eight Things I Learned in Indonesia

A little over a year ago I spent four months in Indonesia. I didn’t really travel across the country, at least not in the way you would expect during that much time abroad. Instead I had the great privilege to live in Indonesia, and see it from the inside. It’s hard to put to words all that I learned, and impossible to do justice to the people I met and the experiences I had. Here is my attempt to share are a few things I learned while I was travelling.

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1) Hospitality

The first notable quality of almost every Indonesian I encountered, and especially of my host family, was their hospitality. Within 12 hours of arriving my concept of generosity and hospitality had been put to shame. My hosts not only shared their home, they shared their family, lives, and friends with me. I was adopted into their social circle, taken for day- or week-long trips by their friends while I was there. I was honoured to be one of the first people to greet the family’s first grandson alongside the immediate family.

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2) Hijabs aren’t scary

This is a fairly potent topic these days so I won’t comment too much. Over half the women on Java wear hijabs, a head covering worn by Muslim women. When I asked why they wore them, all the women I asked answered with “I wear it because I choose to.” I began to recognize beauty and comfort in these headdresses, as well as freedom of expression. These women were neither ashamed nor pious in their religion, it was simply a part of their life.

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