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Only the banana has a heart
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on April 2, 2007 124 Comments 3 min read
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The exodus to the countryside has begun, and anyone left in metropolitan areas is distracted and not focused on anything to do with current events. To be sure, there’s some news but who are we kidding? The week before, the week of, and the week after, Holy Week, very little, if at all, gets done. Carl Rove rapping is about as serious as I’m willing to get. I’d rather be examining Venn Diagrams.

So no politics for this week and in fact, this blog’s going on vacation. Over in the Inquirer Current blog, my entry is on the great debates that have surrounded the choice for the date of Easter.

Congratulations are in order for the winners of the Philippine Blog Awards (an event, according to FriskoDude, on par with Guns n’Roses’ surprise concert in Bangkok!), which I had the honor of judging for, though I was unable to attend the awards ceremony. On a related note (to Easter and the religious festival it’s part of) the event was apparently not without incident, as Atheista complained about the content of the invocation (not having an invocation per se) that began the program (in Bayanihan Blogs Network, though, the invocation was described as witty). Personally, I have no problems with invocations, provided they are preceded, and not followed by, the national anthem.

Anyway, the vacation, whether one goes out of town or not, is usually spent catching up on reading, viewing, and listening (and eating). So here are some lighter things you might want to look at.

Vanity Fair has a cover story on the The Sopranos, the landmark angst-ridden mobster series, which bows out this year. Here are some amusing things to view: caffeine sparks points to movie dialogue, courtesy of Mark Lapid: and how others have copied it. Through the blogger behind The Mad Tea Party, I learned of what is probably the wierdest vintage Filipino film to get a second life: watch a 1970s Filipino dwarf James Bond. They say the makers of Casino Royale were sent the clip and loved it.

When it comes to food, I love to eat, but can’t cook, so sometimes I comfort myself by enjoying food vicariously: Slice, for pizza fanatics, brings you to a recent pizza festival, for example; A Hamburger Today discusses perhaps the most insane (and sinful) hamburger ever, the Luther burger, which uses a Krispy Kreme donut as a bun (for a really focused look at McDonalds, on the other hand, there’s McChronicles, though another Hamburger Today entry is disturbing: McDonald’s burger surviving unrefrigerated for 18 years! ).

Wierd Meat focuses on the disturbing: deep fried sand worms, for example. Speaking of fried: kottke.org points to goldfish in Japan that live in a functioning, deep fat fryer!

Lovingly and I must say comfortingly, delicious, is kitchen cow, to which I’ve linked before, but really, it’s the prettiest food blog ever.

For music, check out Last.fm – The Social Music Revolution, while very kind of cultural podcast is covered by a great blog, Open Culture, which can consume hours of bandwidth (read: downloading) time. Downloading Is a Packrat’s Dream is how you’ll end up if you’re not careful, though.
Happy vacation to all! See you on Monday.

I think this photo says it all. For a few days, at least, let’s hope everyone’s minds will be on lighter things.
Att08751
(Image from The Straightlaced Bohemian.)

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  1. Fr. Stephen Cuycops… And is it true, or is it not true, that all members of the Philippine Catholic priesthood have the duty to spread the faith…. and to separate wheat from chaff? [ The females have dispensation to be good citizens only — taking care of orphans and sick — without need to ‘divide’. ]

    But of course… all in jest.

  2. yes, these days of political correctness, it’s secular in nature. But, let’s not kid ourselves. moment of silence was derived from prayers, it is prayer in disguise. true atheist are supposed to be against this practise.
    rp excluded, i’ve never been to a meeting, seminars or a conferences that starts, or ends, the proceeding with a “moment of silence”. then again, i have never been out of ASIA. pardon my ignorance.

  3. Since when did “true atheism” equate to being against everything that has something to do with religion? I think you’re confusing fundamentalism (in the atheist sense) vs political correctness. I don’t think atheism necessarily translates to being an anti-establishment mentality towards all religions. Limiting the definition of atheism to a religion-hating individual is totally false matter. I have no idea where you’re drawing your “tenets” of real atheism. Atheism is denying the existence of god. that’s it. anything else that the person does doesn’t make him a real, ‘unreal’ or ‘virtual’ atheist. I’m atheist – not a member of Al Qaeda.

    bote, go to UP. Twenty pesos says it’s in Asia.

    Shaman of Malilipot: Again, the speaker made an effort to include everyone in attendance and assumed that everyone was christian.

    Jeg: I am not aware of what other atheists want, so I’m sticking to what’s logically sensible to me. Having myself (and my blog) lumped into a pile of “vessels that would lead closer to the christian god” is a bit too presumptuous.

  4. Shaman of Malilipot : I have nothing against christians who advance their religions via blogging. Once they take advantage of a secular event and hijack it as if it were a christian extravaganza, I think it’s no longer proper.

  5. SC Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez told law grads from Bulacan State University to be “prayerful,” is that problematic too?

    What about when Ate Glue once said that an ideology for national unity could be based on “Christian Democracy,” was that poor taste too? hmmm.

  6. of course it is. LAKAS used to be NUCD only – the NUMD just followed later. I don’t think there needs to be a debate on whether or not the church has a strong influence in politics and society.

  7. I think ‘hijacked’ is the right word. Secular events should not have ‘invocations’. It’s not the proper venue to display one’s religion (or lack of it).

  8. [delurking]

    If Justice Gutierrez was a guest speaker, then she’s free to speak her opinion. They got her for her advice. However, if this “prayerfulness” is found in a state university’s mission statement, then it is problematic.

  9. benj, i said “rp excluded”.
    jusst want to say something about the “Hijacked” thing. The man was invited to do the invocation, he’s a catholic priest, the organizers knew that. You don’t expect him to deliver an invocation that will be against the his practice and belief, do you?
    Anyway, you’ve made your point and the organizers said it won’t happen again.
    happy holidays, man! peace!

  10. Pinoy movies reflects pinoy mentality – Hilaw! Totoo yan, saging lang ang may puso, Bwahahaha!

  11. rp excluded, i’ve never been to a meeting, seminars or a conferences that starts, or ends, the proceeding with a “moment of silence”. then again, i have never been out of ASIA. pardon my ignorance.

    Rp is just but a dot in the world map. The world is not only dominated by Christian faith. It is not too late to acknowledge new facts for your life. Time to educate yourself.

  12. long ago, in my philosophy class, the professor asserted that atheism presupposes the existence of God because how can you deny something that doesn’t exist? I believe him then and I believe him now. Existence of anything does not depend on one’s belief or unbelief. God exists no matter what you think, but you can disbelieve only at your peril. After the Fall (eating the “forbidden fruit”), man was invested the freedom to deny his creator and thereby suffer eternal perdition.

  13. Here are some statistics:
    — less than 3% of Filipinos do not believe in God; same with Poles : 3% atheists;
    — 65% of Japanese do not believe in god; 1 in 4 Canadians do not believe in god;
    — 1 in 4 Taiwanese are atheists; 8 in 10 Swedes; 43% French atheists;
    — 45% South Koreans; 30% Israelis atheists; 45% Germans atheists;

    People interested may read:
    Justin Barrett : “Why Would Anyone Believe in God?”
    Scott Atran : “In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion”

    Both these 2 books explore the relationship between religion and science (anthropology, cognitive behavior, psychology, evolution).


    As for God of Filipinos…. why does He let miserable things happen?

  14. Justin Barrett arrives at the conclusion that believing-in-God is self-evident
    and is the natural conclusion to things (I suppose he says that all countries
    will eventually be like the Philippines or Poland — atheists being the 5%-or-less
    very insignificant minority).

    Scott Atran posits that God is a spandrel. [Those interested can do a
    Google-search with keywords spandrel Scott Atran New York Times
    to find several sites that has the New York Times article on
    Scott Atran and others’ discussion of how human-evolution has
    meshed the God-concept into their beliefs. ]

  15. @bencard: your philo prof is using an outdated definition of atheism. Today atheism is simply lack of belief in god. Why should we deny something that does not exist? 🙂

  16. missingpoint, if you don’t believe in “nothing” why even talk of not believing. The idea (of unbelief) is so repugnant, it is a waste of time expressing it.

  17. Bencard… believing in “nothing” is totally rational, or at least commonplace, especially in its many variations. For example, many Filipinos believe that they have “no future”. There are also many others who believe that imperatrix GMA has “no legitimacy”, and you can bet your retirement check that they will talk to you about it if you will listen.

    As always, being able to articulate clearly one’s thoughts (be it “believing in”, or “lack of belief in” X-Y-Z) makes for interesting conversations… or yelling and screaming and name-calling.

    All in jest.

  18. “The idea (of unbelief) is so repugnant, it is a waste of time expressing it.” – Bencard

    I believe that line of argument falls under the category of sophistry.

  19. there you go once again,cvj. out of context. you know i was not talking of general “unbelief”. i was talking about belief in the existence of God which the atheist denies.

  20. You can deny the existence because there is an existing paradigm wherein the existence of a god is forwarded without much substantiation.

  21. Bencard, we’re on the same page, neither was i talking about general unbelief. Your line of argument where you state that the “idea of [unbelief in God] is so repugnant, it is a waste of time expressing it” is a form of sophistry. Repugnance in itself does not invalidate an idea.

  22. benj, “without much substantiation”? how much is “much”? where there is an effect, there HAS to be a cause. when a light bulb lights, you know there is electricity even though you don’t see or feel it (unless you touch it and perish in the process). There may be an infinite chain of causes but there has to be a FIRST cause that is ITSELF uncaused – God, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha,or simply the “Force” or whatever you want to call it. If you want to articulate your denial, you may want to substantiate it too beyond a conclusory: “I don’t believe it”.

    cvj, you are a creature and you must have a “creator”. You did’nt come into this world by sheer accident or ‘big bang” or magic, black or otherwise, or the mere action of your parents. Unbelief in your Creator’s existence is denying your own. How weird (repugnant) can that be since you are there blogging every which way you can.

  23. “cvj, you are a creature and you must have a ‘creator’. You did’nt come into this world by sheer accident or ‘big bang” or magic, black or otherwise, or the mere action of your parents.” – Bencard

    Unlike perhaps in the courtroom, you cannot establish scientific fact by merely manipulating words (i.e. ‘creature’/’creator’). Aristotle was a far greater philosopher (than any of us), but he got a lot of things wrong about the world because he was simply reflecting and manipulating words (i.e. speculating) and not doing honest to goodness scientific investigation. To be scientific, the existence of a ‘Creator’ must be proven within the context of a given theoretical framework. We cannot take it as a given – that’s why it’s called faith, and i’m ok with that as long as we’re able to separate one from the other.

    “There may be an infinite chain of causes but there has to be a FIRST cause that is ITSELF uncaused – God, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, or simply the “Force” or whatever you want to call it. If you want to articulate your denial, you may want to substantiate it too beyond a conclusory: ‘I don’t believe it’.” – Bencard

    Bencard, if we were to go about this scientifically, the burden of proof would be on you. Also for an ‘infinite chain’ to have ‘first cause’ is a contradiction in terms.

  24. cvj, again i don’t want to engage you in an interminable argument which benefit neither of us. i concede that there is an unbridgeable chasm between our points of view in most, if not all, issues that come up in this blog. remember, i was the first one who complained, and repeated time and again, about your habit of “manipulating” words and concocting “theories” reflecting ideas of others, both known and unknown, in the hope of giving them some credibility or profundity.

    GOD will not be if HIS’/HER’S/IT’S existence is subject to scientific proof or non-proof. I don’t think you appreciate that the concept of God is beyond the realm of human reason and understanding and it would be the height of presumptuousness to hold otherwise. The problem is you think of God in terms of human paradigms and rationalizations.

    I used “infinite chain” to illustrate what, in human terms, is the mind-boggling evidence of God’s presence. i guess you are right, though, that “infinite chain” contradicts the FIRST CAUSE description. Therefore, I would restate it to read “incomprehensible chain”.

  25. “GOD will not be if HIS’/HER’S/IT’S existence is subject to scientific proof or non-proof. ” – Bencard

    Then why did you demand that Benj ‘substantiate’ his denial?

    “I don’t think you appreciate that the concept of God is beyond the realm of human reason and understanding and it would be the height of presumptuousness to hold otherwise. The problem is you think of God in terms of human paradigms and rationalizations.” – Bencard

    Didn’t i just say above that’s why it’s called faith, and i’m ok with that as long as we’re able to separate one from the other?

  26. see that manipulation…. I said “if you want to articulate your denial, you may want to substantiate it too beyond a conclusory: “I don’t believe it”. Did I DEMAND “substantiation” of God’s existence?

  27. so you’re ok with faith, then what’s your problem? “separate” faith from what?

  28. “Did I DEMAND “substantiation” of God’s existence?” – Bencard

    You’re quibbling.

    “‘separate’ faith from what?” – Bencard

    Separate faith from science (and act accordingly).

  29. Benj, Fr. Cuyos was invited to play a role in the event, to do a job, if you will. Now, he is a Christian, and as he explained it in his blog, necessarily his invocation had a Christian flavor. It couldn’t have been any other way. If someone of another faith delivered the invocation, it would have had a different flavor.

    And you exaggerate. How long was the invocation? Two minutes? Three minutes? Five minutes? How could a 5-minute invocation turn the whole event into a “christian extravaganza”?

    Now, you had a choice on how to react to Fr. Cuyos. You had the choice to let the invocation bounce off you, or to get offended. You chose to get offended. You had a problem because of the choice you made. If you insulted me, I could make the choice of not being offended. Then I wouldn’t have any problem. Even if you complimented me, I still could make the choice of not letting that flatter me either. Do you get the drift?

    So, the next time you find yourself in an event with an invocation, you know you’ll have a choice: you can choose to either have a problem or not. You’ll only have yourself to answer to for your choice. Nobody else.

    And please don’t be so arrogant as to try to bend others to your will.

  30. Shaman, i hope you’re not advocating self-censorship. I don’t think the length of the invocation matters. It’s like having a fly swimming in the soup. It does not matter how small the fly is. We all have the right to be offended and in the case of Benj, he expressed his offense by blogging about it. That’s a plain and simple act of free speech. Taking offense is one of the safeguards against tyranny of the majority.

    Here in Singapore, they have ‘Out of Bounds markers’ that indicate what topics are not permissible to be discussed (e.g. in the interest of racial and religious harmony). That’s something i don’t care much for.

  31. cvj, what damage did the invocation do to benj except ruffle his sensibilities? Is making a Christian invocation in a convocation where an atheist is present a crime? Is it against public morals? Is it even against good manners and right conduct? Was there tyranny, really? Was benj forced to say the prayer? Was he forced to listen? As I’ve said earlier, when he knew that an invocation was coming, he could have stepped out of the room and no one would have prevented him from doing so. Was his right to non-belief in a Deity violated?

    What was benj’s purpose in blogging about his taking offense? To simply express his displeasure publicly or to advocate the elimination of invocations in public gatherings? I know of a religion that proscribes the singing of the national anthem or pledging allegiance to the flag. Should the singing of the national anthem now be eliminated from public gatherings on the chance that a member of that religion might be in attendance?

    My point is that this is something that is best left tolerated. Religion to me is my personal relationship with my God. I’ll talk to you about it only if you want me to. Otherwise, I’ll not impose myself on you. Whenever I hear something against my Christian belief, I always say it’s not for me, it doesn’t concern me, period. No quarrel. Tolerance equals peace. But how many wars have been waged because of religious intolerance?

    So, you’ll never catch me arguing about religion. Religion is based on faith. You either have the grace of having it or you don’t. You either believe in God or you don’t. No use arguing. And the fact of the matter is that it’s only when we die that we’ll find out who is right. But then it would be too late.

    Those who seek God at the 11th hour die at 10:30.

  32. Shaman, it’s a matter of principle. At the very least, it was an act of insensitivity by the majority Catholics towards the minority non-Catholics (whether atheists or people of other faiths). As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” The time and place for engaging in a conversation with God (via an invocation) is in private or within a community of like-minded individuals. An event where you are bound to have a diverse lot of individuals which include nonbelievers like Atheista, Sassy or BryanBoy, such collective expression is out of place and smacks of in your face proselytizing. A personal relationship with God is best kept personal.

    By contrast, singing of the national anthem is ok since the event was held on Philippine soil and even foreigners have to respect that.

  33. I still return to my thesis that an underlying purpose of Catholic priests is to separate chaff from wheat. The priest intended the speech that he delivered.

    And for those who don’t seem to know it exists, there are many examples on the Web, and you yourself can write them and practice delivering them — inspirational speeches without the religious themes.

  34. cvj, I hope you’re not advocating a tyranny of the minority. I never thought that a little prayer could do so much harm. Wow! In a democracy, the minority is forced to bend to the will of the majority, and no one complains. At least, no one should. Here in a little act of prayer, delivered in the context of “to whom it may concern”, you are not even required to do anything except to be tolerant for a few minutes. Is it asking too much?

    Personally, I offer everything I do, in private or in public, for the greater glory of God. What if I went to a gathering of a majority of atheists and demanded that, as a matter of principle, there should be an invocation, otherwise it would be an act of insensitivy on their part? I could be as intolerant, couldn’t I?

    You see, this thing can cut both ways. And I again hold that tolerance is the best response to any given situation. What better thing is there to ensure racial and religious harmony (even in Singapore) than tolerance? Without tolerance on everyone’s part, things can be taken to extremes of absurdity. That’s when conflicts arise.

  35. Shaman, in a democracy, the minority has to accept the will of the majority as long as it does not violate their own rights. The event was a secular one, so prayer is out of place. We Catholic Filipinos just feel it’s normal because we’re so used to it, but at some point our insular culture has to change so we can catch up with the rest of the outside world.

    As to your counterexample, if you were inside a church or if it were a religious event, then perhaps you are within your rights to force the atheists to sit through an invocation, but not in any other public or secular space.

  36. When the anniversary of EDSA 1 was still attended by a lot of people, I remember that ecumenical services were done by representatives of different religions.

    I don’t exactly remember what those representatives said but they took their turns in saying them. (Maybe worthwhile if anybody remembers what was actually stated in those prayers)

    There was a discussion here once regarding an alleged insult to the Chritian faith. I remarked then that if the intention of those involved were to insult the Christians; would the Christians be at fault if they indeed took it as an insult?

    Fr. Cuyos implies that he did not intend to offend anybody. If anyone took the content of the prayer as offensive, well I can only surmise that they view their own reasons as valid.

    But please let us remember that even the concerned blogger has no problem with an invocation and nor that an invocation was included. Clearly even in a secular event, he didn’t consider a prayer out of place. The alleged problem is supposed to be in the content.

  37. Well, cvj, in a democracy the minority does lose some rights; the right to pursue a different policy or course of action, for instance.

    But, here, we are talking more about sensibilities than about rights. Hearing an invocation doesn’t make anyone lose his right to be an atheist. I don’t know about the Christian Brothers, but the Jesuits taught me to glorify God in all places and in all the things that I do, yes, even in a public or secular space. So, I prefer to make an act of offertory every time I start an activity. Don’t tell me I don’t have the right to do that.

    Now, what you are saying is that as a Christian, I should not demand that atheists must be considerate of my sensibilities by allowing an invocation to be made (even if they have to step out of the room for a few minutes). But, you are also saying that it’s perfectly all right for an atheist to demand that Christians must be considerate of his sensibilities by preventing them from saying a little piece of prayer (not even if he has to step out of the room for a few minutes). Are the atheists’ sensibilities superior to those of the theists’? Is the public domain the exclusive territory of the atheists? See how this thing can go the way of absurdity?

    You have not said anything about the value of tolerance. Remember that the secular state, where the theists and the atheists can co-exist, can only be made possible because of tolerance. Intolerance engenders constant conflict. It produces either a theocratic state or a godless society in the extreme. Neither of which, I suppose, you want.

    Democracy, if you look at it closely, is essentially based on tolerance.

  38. justice league,

    Precisely because benj didn’t have a problem with an invocation being said, although he didn’t believe in it and it was meaningless to him, he should not have cared about its content. Did he really expect Fr. Cuyos, who is a Catholic, to pray as an atheist? It’s impossible. It’s a contradiction.

    As I have earlier said, everyone present had a choice of how to react to what Fr. Cuyos had said, either to get offended or not. They even had the choice to listen to him or not. Why should Fr. Cuyos be faulted for someone else’s choice?

  39. Why should Fr. Cuyos be faulted for someone else’s choice? – shaman

    Please ask Father Cuyos that he too has that choice not to offend anyone, but he chose to and he intended to deliver the invocation knowing it. But I’m still glad he did it, at least we now, is debating an issue that we here long ago figured out already that it was not in the best interest of harmonious relationships among diverse social fabrics of our society.

  40. vic, from the facts we know, it doesn’t appear that Fr. Cuyos “knew” that he was offending anyone, and there was no reason for him to assume that.

  41. Shaman, in the Philippine setting, we may find it normal to have invocations at secular events, but what is normal in own little world is actually considered archaic or even backward practice in the more developed countries. We have to decide what kind of society we would be. Would we like to be more like the Catholic version of Iran, that the friars and their successors want us to remain as, or do we want to go further down the road to enlightened civilization? As per Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.” It will take awhile but i find the presence of atheists and their restlessness as a sign that our society is moving forward.

  42. Shaman: the problem is that the Christians aren’t even aware that they’re offending anybody. Now, thanks to Benj, the PBA and other groups who have read about this issue are now conscious of the fact that they need to be more ecumenical when formulating invocations. Fr. Cuyos can’t pray as an atheist, but he should’ve been aware that there are people of other/no faith. He could’ve been more inclusive and should not have assumed that everyone present is there for the glory of his god. Bryanboy’s blog is proof enough of that.

  43. The virtue of tolerance is in the non-Catholic who does not take the Catholic invocation as an affront to his sensibilities; in the Catholic who does not take a Koran reading as an attack on his faith; in an atheist who does not take prayer as an assault on his godlessness.

    Tolerance is not an attribute of the stimulus (a Catholic invocation) but a response or reaction of the receiver to the stimulus.

    Don’t you think that there will be more peace, less conflicts, if people can only be more tolerant of each other?

  44. “Would we like to be more like the Catholic version of Iran, that the friars and their successors want us to remain as, or do we want to go further down the road to enlightened civilization?” – cvj

    I’m preaching tolerance precisely because I don’t want extremism (intolerance) to produce a theocracy nor a godless society.

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