My happiness is not contingent on a god.

Over the past four or five years since I became fascinated by religion, and Christianity in particular,  I have become struck by the impression given off by those who attach a religious label to themselves that they fall into two distinct camps; overriding indifference and overriding misery.

Those who live in the indifferent camp are what I always was with regards my religion. ‘Oh yeah, I’m Christian. Of course, what else? There’s Jesus, his dad …er what’s his name, again? God, yeah, and … er… Oh, look, football’s on, sssh!’

I would venture that the vast majority of religiously affiliated lean towards this form, which is more of a cultural affiliation
rather than any form of spiritual devotion.

I would also venture that the majority of such people if informed that Jesus and his dad and Moses were really fictitious they would respond with similar apoplexy, full of wailing and teeth gnashing. Not.

‘Oh, look, football’s on, sssh!’

Which is backed somewhat by the number of people leaving religion; hundreds of thousands if stats are to be believed ( including professional pastors. vicars and what have you) the empty pews and the number of people who list ‘None’ under religious affiliation on their ballot card,  library card renewal form and Reader’s Digest subscription.

Then we have the other camp – or the Dark Side as I like to think of them.

They seem to inhabit the internet; blogs, chat forums, conservative Facebook and Twitter groups and odd looking family gatherings  from the Southern States of America who might be inclined to wear ”I hate Burt Reynolds” T-shirts and are only holding hands with their cousin because they needed to jam up close for the photograph. Honest!

These lot always seem to be miserable. Especially on the internet.

Oh, they put on that Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam  face but this has all the hallmarks of a constipated grimace caused by a carrot up their backside.

Now, you would think that having found their god they would, be truly joyous. I mean, they have become enlightened through revelation. This is like perishing Christmas every day. Not if the blogs are an indication.

Almost all of them are waiting for Jesus’ return. Waiting for their saviour to obliterate every living soul except them. They become fanatical about the bible and can quote – and do –  reams and reams of scripture at the drop of a coin in the collection box.

They are invariably very conservative and  the more militant openly vilify homosexuality, feminism, abortion, liberal politics, socialism, the general school system, (tacitly) revile  every other denomination/sect of Christianity, consider the unemployed part of a failed political system, but appear to have little sympathy, are more prone to believe in conspiracy theories, think climate change is a liberal plot.

Oddly enough, on the Dark Side there is more divorce, more depression and associated mental illness, more misogyny more spousal abuse and the (US) prison population is almost exclusively Christian!

Hate is another thing they seem preoccupied with, have you noticed?

How often do you read: ”Why do atheists hate ‘God’?”

I don’t hate anything and have mentioned this innumerable times, but still they insist that one must hate christians and hate their god.

Because this is what atheists do, right?

I have never read a non-religious blogger that stated they hate any god or any religious person, but if one were to judge solely from certain Christians sites – and the fan mail Dawkins gets –  atheists and non-believers are the vilest people on the planet. And because we don’t believe in their god, every non-believer is going to Hell for eternity.

When I think of bloggers like IB22, Wally, Colorstorm,SOM, Isaiah53, Tribulous,CitizenTom, Naivethinker,unklee and similar what comes to mind is  ”miserable people”.

Truly. Everything is a trial. They are always fighting – demons, conscience, the devil, the cable company for cancelling their subscription to the porn channel  

When I think of JohnZ over in Brasil, walking his dog and leaving food and water for strays, Mak up in Kenya, designing homes and buildings and things for people, Roughseas over in Gibraltar giving chocolates to her neighbours and finding no mistakes in a piece of my writing,( okay that bit is fantasy) Tish in the UK down at her allotment growing veggies or sitting writing like me, Nate Owen playing with his kids and listening to Hendrix, Notestoponder up in Canada looking up at the stars almost wetting herself with excitement, Victoria looking at the image of a brain scan as if it were a Rembrandt and all the other blogpals I have and especially Arch who is probably laying out dog poo landmines and setting the timer on the garden sprinkler for when the Jehovah’s Witness’s walk up his path, I can only smile.

And I wander out on to my stoep, cup of tea in hand and hear the baby cuckoo meep,meep, meep all bloody afternoon outside my office … and I smile. I am content.

And … oh … football’s on , Sssh!

 

Leading you up the garden Path: A Sticky Tattoo’d lady

Yesterday, while I was trying to spy the cuckoo I stood next to the plum tree that grows close to the front gate.

As the colour of the leaves are … well … plum,  I guess, something like this tends to stand out somewhat!

It was on the underside of a leaf; I imagine trying to hide from potential predators.

With such vivid colouring it would stand out like a sore thumb on a plum tree so I wonder what it was doing there? Besides munching on leaves, of course.

I gently lifted it off the leaf so’s I could get a slightly better photograph and when I removed it from my thumb it felt like peeling away Velcro!

click on image for a larger view

caterpillar green 2 1

 

caterpillar green 41This is called a Stinging Slug Caterpillar. Something I only found out this morning when researching.  Ooops!

Maybe I was fortunate I did not get stung, as from what I read these spikes can hurt as bad as a wasp sting.

Ignorance is bliss?

The Ark

A tune  before dinner…

Here’s an artist that isn’t heard too often; the late,  but always marvelous, Rory Gallagher.

From the album, Tattoo.

Tatoo’d lady

 

Leading you up the garden path. ”Oi! I’m hungry!”

diederick cucckoo 1

Several years ago our spot was graced by a visit from a Diederik Cuckoo.

Unfortunately it was not an adult – although they must have visited at some point, obviously – but a chick.  Mummy had laid her egg in a sparrow’s nest and later one very hungry, and noisy youngster emerged.

For nearly a fortnight he/she sat upon one of the lower branches of the black wattle tree we have in the back garden and cried . Meep meep meep - all perishing day!

What began as something cute eventually became an incessant irritation. Goodness knows how the pair of poor house sparrows felt. Flown off their tiny wings feeding this voracious little monster!

Then, one day, it was ”All quiet on the Western Front” as baby cuckoo decided he/she was strong enough to take care of itself and scarpered. Kids eh?

And the silence was all the more loud! This bird had flown.We were all a bit miserable for a day or two.  Never realise what you’ve got until it’s gone and all that , right?

Anyhow, yesterday, I hear an excited yell from the kitchen. ”Ark, come quickly!”

We have another cuckoo!

This one is even younger and  it seems its adopted parents might be weavers, from the one shot I was able to get.

The chick was high up so I apologise for the quality of shot. I am really hoping it hangs around a while so I can get a few better photographs than these.

Even so, this bird is such a rare visitor it was a fantastic treat, and I am thrilled to have captured this species for the portfolio.

click on image for a larger view

diederick cucckoo 21

 

The ”adopted” parent is to the right of the cuckoo, further along the branch.

diederick cucckoo 321

 

 

 

Photos The Ark ©2015

Leading you up the garden Path. That butterfly! Chaos theory? Er … not quite

Humans are funny sometimes. Maybe that should be odd, rather than funny.

Take butterflies. Most of us love them. I certainly do, and am trying to build a photographic portfolio of every species that visits The Ark’s spot. To date, I have managed to record 15 species.  And there are two more, I am aware of, that I have sighted but  not captured  on camera – yet!

However, their ”predecessor”, the caterpillar is often given a bad ‘rap’, labelled a villain for munching on the leaves of veggies an other garden delectables it needs to grow and eventually become that beautiful butterfly we like to say ‘Wow’ at as it flutters around the garden.

The caterpillar has to be clever to outwit its ”enemies”, and like many creatures has developed natural camouflage to either make it look innocuous or threatening.

Wandering by the side of the pool yesterday I noticed this clever little thing munching on a fresh leaf of the lemon tree  we have in a pot.

I have never seen this caterpillar on any of the other lemon trees in the garden so this was a treat.

The first four photographs are of the Citrus Swallowtail species of caterpillar and motionless it looks just like  a bird dropping.  Clever!

I am in the dark regarding the other caterpillars, but I am quite happy to let them much away!

click on image for larger view

caterpillar 21

 

Imagem 223

 

caterpillar 61

citrus swallowtail on lemon

caterpillar 4

Caterpillar on Alysm 3

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caterpilar

 

Fifty Shades Of Hypocrisy. Brought to you by, The Ark’s Review Corner

The  furore surrounding this mini-phenomenon   is making my little writer’s heart beat with resounding joy.

Not only has EL James’ work quickly become a best-selling  series ( of all time?) the movie seems to be attracting sell out crowds wherever it is shown.  Maybe they come back for a second view?

I have been meaning to take the time go watch but I always seem to be tied up. ( that line is especially for Arch)

Yet for all its incredible success, it has a shallow plot, Barbera Cartland style, one-dimensional characters, and seems to leave those who read the book or watch the movie in a state of  limbo like the unfeeling lover who asks, ”Are you finished?”

By the way, I haven’t read the book  and my impressions are based solely on the reviews  and articles that are springing up all over the internet like a brand new  STD.  I think the whole smorgasbord of cheesiness is enough to make one groan, ”Gorgonzola”.

If any of you lot have seen the film or/and read the book/s and your impression differs, then speak up!

Naturally, I am drawn to the views of many Christians who are only too keen to get their jollies off by writing long, heaving, palm sweaty reviews chastising this very unchaste  bit of  misogynist T& A.

I stumbled across this particular blog after catching an oblique reference to one of my comments that was deleted by another Christian blogger. They do so love to turf The Ark in the trash for some reason? Most odd.

So I click-clicked, and her current post, Fifty Shades of Personality Disordered has  a comment from one Christian reader who states:

I read the books out of curiosity (shh, don’t tell…)

My immediate thought was: Er … Books? Why did you need to read more than one if  you thought the first was trash and demeaning to women?

And the blog host then goes on to gleefully announce:

..and don’t worry, your secret on actually reading the books is safe with me. ;)

Because we are all grown up and simply being a little naughty – nothing wrong with this – even if we are Christian we are doing it with the best interests at heart and we also have a sense of humour and God will understand.

”Spank me, Christian, spank me.”

Good  for EL.  Go Mommy Porn! Love it!

Here’s the Stones, with , When the whip comes down. Fantastic song from the album Some Girls 

 

If anyone is spreading evil it is you annoying ….

CHOW167__Saladin_by_Edge_01PUT ON THE FULL ARMOUR

OF ALLAH

Artwork  credit to: http://edge-01.deviantart.com/art/CHOW167-Saladin-131084969

An inoffensive little post of Saladin for  blogpal, *James over at The Isaiah Project,  who, like his pal, Wally, just doesn’t seem to get it.

Maybe some of you would like to explain it to him also?

* Who receives this week’s …

Far King Dickhead Award.

 

Leading you up the Garden Path. Open for a day. Best Bee Quick!

This cacti grows up the western wall at our spot. It has thin ‘sticky’ roots that it sends out to attach themselves to the stone, worming their way into any crevice.

When we first planted it, it took a while before it flowered, and for the first year or two produced two maybe three blooms.

But now …

The flowers are large and quite beautiful, and they only flower twice a year for a single day each time, then  they rapidly wilt, dry up and drop off.

But for that day, they are magnificent and the bees love them!

click on image for larger view

cacti 50

Imagem 167

Hovering on standby awaiting her turn.

hovering fly

A thoroughly exhausted Wilfred, taking a short breather.

 

bee tired

The Ark © copyright 2015

Leading you up the Garden Path. Let’s go shopping.

As I stepped out the back door, camera over my shoulder, for a five minute break, the Missus, asks me to bring back a lemon.

‘No. rather fetch two. Oh, and some basil, and rosemary.’

‘We having people for dinner? And why do I have to fetch them?’ I ask.

‘Funny, man,’ says she.  ‘Here, take a plastic bag and bring back some gem-squash if there are any ripe ones.  Might as well see if there are any beans while you are up there.’

‘Perhaps I should write a list?’

My wife is like this. When it comes to shopping, be it in the garden or the supermarket, she asks for one thing and before long you need a trolley!

I mentally tick off the inventory: Two lemons, gems, basil and rosemary, beans.  Got it. I saunter off toward the gate that separates the front from the back garden. I  was in no hurry.  As expected, I was hailed once again.

‘Ark, see if you can find some spring onions for the salad!’

‘Right! I’m going now, okay? Are you sure there is nothing else?’

‘No, that’s it,’ she assures, poking her head round the door jamb grinning.

‘Well I have my cellphone. If you think of anything, give me a call.’

I was being ‘sarcy’  as it is an unwritten rule that the moment the car pulls off on its way to the shops,the cellphone will ring, and upon answering a voice on the other end will say something  like, ‘Milk! Remember to buy milk.’

So it was no great surprise when the phone rang once I had managed to achieve the Garden Shed, less than fifty metres from the back door at a pace a snail would have admired.

‘Yes,’ I said, unable to suppress a smile.

‘If you want potatoes, you better dig up a couple; I just checked, there’s none in the pantry.’

I hosed myself laughing. And when I ended the call I switched off the phone.

On the way ‘back’ the lemons were the last on the list. As I reached out to pull one from the tree, a tiny movement from the asparagus fern growing  next to the lemon tree caught  my eye.

I put down the plastic bag and knelt down for a closer look.

This is what I saw.

jump spider 41

jump spider 51

jumping spidwer 14

Tiny jumping spider.

When I entered the kitchen a few minutes later the Missus says,

‘You took your time, where’d you go, Timbuktu?’

‘I stopped to photograph this cutie,’ I replied, showing the images on the screen on the camera.

‘Well, as you think you’re so smart switching off your phone you can pop back up the garden and fetch a …’

‘Tomato?’ says I, fishing one out the plastic bag.

She laughed.

Imagem 204

 

Being saved. God loves porn too … apparently.

I’ll be perfectly honest, for me, the best example of being saved was when English goalkeeper Gordon Banks made an almost superhuman dive to his right to keep out the headed ball from Brazilian striker, Pele. I don’t care what planet you are from, you are not going to see a better save than that – ever.

That said, being saved, or at least the notion of being saved has always fascinated me. No, I am not suddenly going to leap up from my chair , fall to my knees and call out , ”Oh, Jeeezus, save a poor wretch like me.”

Sorry all you Christians, I have not found The Lawd as yet.

But I believe he lurks on porn sites a lot these days.

In fact , he seems to have a rather unhealthy attitude toward sex per se, based on his El Supremo earthly representatives who spend a considerable time cross-dressing and wearing funny hats, never get married but many do indulge their lustful predilections.

And let us not forget that Yahweh in his human disguise  gave the distinct impression he was not interested in women for anything much but to wash his feet. Most odd.

And if the number of born-again Christians claiming to be saved is anything to go by, porn is a major factor when it comes (sic) to Seeking the Lord. However, looking for him … sorry, Him, is completely unnecessary , as we all know  He is right there, looking over the shoulder ogling at all that T & A right alongside those dirty sinners!

Well, he must be, right? We all know he is acutely aware of your ”Private Parts” and all Christians are made painfully aware Jesus watches you , right? And you can easily recognise those in need of saving – they are the ones wearing glasses. And if you wear  contacts you aren’t fooling anyone, Sunshine, do you hear?

Now, to be saved, you first must acknowledge you are a sinner and then you become Christian. Or is it the other way around?

I have not been able to figure that out. But both are part and parcel of Being Saved.

And all it takes is this: Say a prayer, acknowledge that you are a worthless piece of es aitch one T, believe that a narrative construct in a fallacious book is the Creator of the Universe and, Bob’s your Uncle. Saved! Eternal life for almost ever. Of course, you have to die first. Odd, I realise, as it sort of defeats the object of eternal life. Even so, still pretty cool

In fact, seriously cool, in  my book.

But what if you don’t feel comfortable saying a prayer and reckon that this story book character could not possibly be any sort of Creator?

Guess what? There is a plan for you also!

Yes, you will be burning in a place called Hell for eternity. ( That is a lot of charcoal briquettes, people, a lot.)

Sigh … Jesus eat my shorts!

This is what saving is all about.

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