It's Saturday the fifteenth of January two thousand and five. That is, it is twenty-four days since I started writing this, or twenty-five days since the Winter Solstice, the day of the longest night, in the two thousand and fifth year since a certain historical and mythological personage was deemed to have been born, in what is usually designated the first month of the New Year.
Who knows what day it is if we measure the count from the beginning of the Universe, say, or from the creation of life on this planet, or even from the birth of consciousness, which is generally identified with the evolution of the human race?
Personally I think that the human race is pretty fucked right now, and just about ready to wipe itself off the planet. If this is consciousness, I say, then it's about time we went back to sleep.
This morning I read an analysis of the Asian tsunami by the Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. This is what he said:
"People must ask themselves why this earthquake occurred in this area and not in others. Whoever examines these areas discovers that they are tourism areas... where forbidden acts are widespread, as well as alcohol consumption, drug use and acts of abomination."
In other words: these people deserved it.
Which still begs the question - if we insist on ascribing meaning to the disaster - why not all the other places on the planet where alcohol consumption, drug use and these so-called "forbidden" acts of "abomination" are also rife?
Pretty much the whole of the world, I would have thought.
Why did the tsunami not wipe us all out?
And what about those people in that part of the world who were not engaged in any of these acts, who were simply getting on with the business of being alive? Why did God wipe the poor fishermen of Sri Lanka, and the honest farmers of India, and the workers of Indonesia off the planet at the same time? Just ordinary men and women trying to feed their families. Or perhaps God doesn't care.
It is left up to our imagination to work out exactly what these forbidden and abominable acts might be. The mind boggles.
Who forbade them? To whom are they abominable?
Personally I can't imagine anything a few tourists get up to on holiday warranting such a term. Farting in public? Drinking and falling over? Standing on tables dancing to ambient techno handbag funk-rap disco-music, while waving one's tee-shirt over one's head? Swimming? Sunbathing? Slapping on the coconut oil as sun-tan lotion? Using crummy chat-up lines and then being surprised when they actually work? Visiting sites of historical and cultural interest? Dining out in cheap restaurants with a view of the sea? What? What? Tourism may be crass, it may be stupid, it may be tacky and thoughtless at times, but is it in any way an abomination?
Or perhaps he is referring that expression of love and excitement between two human beings of the same sex, who both happen to enjoy the mutual pleasure of each other's bodies.
Yes, that's what he means. Homosexuality.
It's not something I want to do It’s not to my taste. Then again, I don’t like mashed potato either, or custard. Maybe I should declare a fatwa on all those obviously immoral and degenerate people who like the things I don’t. Kill all custard-heads and mashed potato-eaters, that’s what I say. They don’t deserve to live.
I hate mashed potato, and therefore, by the Judeo-Christian measure of things, God must hate mashed potato too.
Here’s something I have noticed in my long years upon this planet: that attraction and repulsion are actually two sides of the same process. Like magnetism. You don’t blame a magnetic coil because it attracts some objects while repulsing others. Why blame human beings?
Sometimes, indeed, the being that is attractive to you can become repulsive overnight. This is another one of those laws of nature. It has to do with reversing polarities, something that seems to be happening in our world right now, as the polarities of North and South are in the process of shifting. Sometimes the most repulsive can become the most attractive. And who are we to ascribe moral reasoning to the fundamental processes of nature?
In fact it would be a glorious irony, wouldn't it, if that Muslim cleric, and all the other Judeo-Christian thinkers who proclaim knowledge about the mind of God, were to wake up some morning, and, as a consequence of the reversing of polarities, were to find that they had become homosexual overnight?
Wouldn't that be funny?
So some people travelling in some parts of Asia have a liking for the genitals of people of the same sex, and God wipes out one hundred and sixty thousand or more, mostly innocent people, as punishment.
If that is God, then I'd rather worship my own arse-hole. It makes a lot more sense.
There are abominations on this planet, of course: vile, vicious acts of torture, of murder, of cruelty on a grand scale, but most of these are not conceived by holiday makers on the beaches of South East Asia, but in the boardrooms of multinational companies, and by their stooges in governments across the world.
The war in Iraq is an abomination. Poverty and hunger are abominations. Factory farming is an abomination. Obscene wealth is an abomination. Torture is an abomination. Imprisonment without trial is an abomination. Child-labour is an abomination. Child-starvation is an abomination. Slavery is an abomination. Wage-slavery is an abomination. Racism is an abomination. Exploitation is an abomination. And the economic imperative that drives all of these things is the biggest abomination of all.
But love? Love can never be an abomination, not matter how or by whom it is expressed.
The argument is entirely spurious, of course. This Muslim cleric believes that he knows what God thinks, and that therefore he has a right to tell the rest of us what to do. He read it in a book. He even believes he has the right to legislate against us and our bodies in the pursuit of this claim.
He's not the only one. Such thinking is in general usage amongst people of religious persuasion across the world. I'm sure there will be fundamentalist Christians in the United States and other places saying very similar things, ascribing their own meaning to the blind processes of the Universe, as if the Universe had purpose and consciousness.
Well maybe the Universe does have purpose and consciousness. I don't know.
I just don't think that any one of us on this planet is qualified enough yet to say what that is.