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steve tomkins
crows nest
By Stephen Tomkins
More Crow's Nests here
Strippers and hallucinogenic church tea
October 2010

When you consider the vast teams of journalists, correspondents and spies working for Crow's Nest around the clock to dig up obscure stories of religious idiots do nutty things for Jesus, it's quite frustrating seeing the world's media splashing Revd Terry Jones and his proposed cheeky Qur'an burning antics all over their front pages. He was ours!

Burning the Qur'an to draw attention to his contention that Islam is "a violent religion" had various obstacles to qualifying as a good idea, not the least being that anything short of getting done over in reprisal would prove him wrong.

Ah well, we'll just have to dig a bit deeper this month. But it's all there if you know where to find it. And where to find it is America.

Here, for example, is a delightful story from OneNewsNow.com about the US Olympic track and field trials. The implausibly named Tyson Homosexual qualified for the Beijing Olympics running 100m in 9.68 seconds. Apparently, "Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue."

Readers of other news sources might know the unfocused athlete as Tyson Gay, but OneNewNow.com, part of the American Family News Network, has fundamentalist software that automatically replaces the word "gay" with "homosexual". Altogether now: "Let's drink, a drink a drink, to Lilly the sexually deviant, the sexually deviant, the sexually deviant...."

Still in the US, a Santa Fe Christian church has finally won an 11-year legal battle after customs seized 30 gallons of tea destined for their service. To be fair, it wasn't Typhoo, but the class A hallucinogen ayahuasca, as used by South American shamans. A church spokesperson says they use it in too dilute a form to trip, and it merely "aids concentration". If you buy that, this ought to be the next big thing for churches across the world. When your church starts serving its after-service tea before the sermon, ask to see the packet.

Getting a taste of its own medicine is a church in Ohio called New Beginning Ministries. In the religious role reversal of the month, the church is being picketed by workers from a strip club, the Fox Hole, waving placards bearing Bible verses.

New Beginning Ministries had tried to get the Fox Hole (which is nine miles away) closed, saying, "We cannot share territory with the devil". For four years, believers have photographed the number plates of clients' cars and sent them to their wives. Now they have to walk past bikini-clad protestors to get into church. The verses on the placards include, "Talk no more so exceeding proudly" (1 Samuel 2:3), and "Pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 6:44).

Finally, a heart-warming story of new beginnings, kind of. A man by the implausible name of Tracy Province went to Meeteetse Community Church in Wyoming, hoping to make a new start. (In fact, he had already made a new start 10 days earlier by escaping from an Arizona prison.) Telling the pastor after the service that he wanted to join the church and make himself useful, he was asked to cut the grass. Whereupon a parishioner recognised him from the news, reported him, and he was arrested.

It's the kind of story you feel ought to have some kind of message or moral, but it doesn't seem to. So it must be more stuff that just happened.
also see
hubris 2
Mark Howe's regular rant about Internet culture
strangely warmed
Andrew Rumsey's regular column about the religious life
loose canons
Stephen Tomkins' regular round-up of the saints of yore who were one wafer short of a full communion
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