Robin Hood is one of the legendary symbols for fight against oppression. A famous and popular symbol of the little people fighting against the greed of the mighty. The story has had many, many film adaptations along the years. Every filmmaker gives their own interpretation of the legend. As it is legend and not an historical story, it is quite malleable, without any good reason to tell people, that is not how it actually went.

Exept, that while art owes nothing to history as such, when a legend is set in historical backround, history is often distorted totally out of proportion when historicity is not an issue interresting to the storyteller. In the 1960’s there was a time where a western movie telling a story about cowboys had a certain look. None of it looked remotely like the 19th century in wich the stories were set. Both men and women had their hair and makeup made according to the latest fashion of the release date of the film and much of what they wore followed the same logic. Infact, one could say, there was a genre of western fantasy and the expectations of the audiences echoed suit. Then some Italian dudes made their own westerns, and because they were poor, they could not afford all the gimmicks and fashions of the Bonanza-style western fantasy and they had a vision of gritty, but realistic poor west. The basic story was always the same, not much different from Robin Hood, where the poor man has to fight for his rights against the magnate. After that all the western movies made before, turned into total camp. The fantasy version of old west, was suddenly percieved as it was – a bit silly.

Now me, I expect, that some day a scriptwriter, a director and a producer will see this opportunity to do to the film industry what the spaghetti westerns did to the western movies in regard to medieval and for example viking-age stories. There have been attempts to make something authentic, such as for example the film Being Human (starring Robin Williams), but as of yet, none of them has prevailed the genre. The day someone does this to the Biblical movie genre, will be a day to remember, but alas – I do not expect that to change anything, because the major audiences of that particular genre are so invested and indoctrinated, that they could not possibly see the difference between an authentic version of what may have happened in comparrison to the fantasy, because to them the fantasy versions are part of their identity. Even though, the fantasy in Biblical stories is quite fansy indeed.

My favourite filmatisation of Robin Hood remains the 1980’s TV series Robin of Sherwood. This even despite the occasional silly bursts of nationalistic nonsense. Though low on budget, they at least tried to make it look like it actually could have happened during the reign of John Lackland in the turn of 12th and 13th centuries. What they achieved was far too often only showing the time of the making of the film. Yet, at least they tried, wich is more than can be said about most high budget movies or TV adaptations of the story. My favourite version too had some mythical elements to it, but at least during the first two seasons, the idea was much, that some events seemed supernatural to the characters who lived in a superstitious culture and we modern viewers were only led to their perception of the situation, rather than that these were supposed to seem like supernatural to us. The characters were well built and grew during the series and my personal favourit still remains the frustrated bureaucrate the sheriff of Nottingham as portrayed by Nicholas Grace.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle robin of sherwood

Well, I was a kid and every generation seems to get their own Robin Hood. I guess the story remains popular as long as people can see the injustice in the abuse of power and the poor man forced to fight it. Just as in the western movies. That sort of injustice has not disappeared from the world, not by a long shot, but do we get many movies about modern day Robin Hoods taking a stand against it?

I am affraid, that most filmatisations from Errol Flynn to Prince of Thieves, through Robin Hood (starring Russel Crowe), to the new movie (of wich I have not yet seen more than the teaser) are so fantastic – and more fantastic by the number- that they have a tendency to turn the historical events behind the legend into a blurr in the minds of the greater audiences. That ultimately as a result of such medievalist fantasy the line between fantasy and history gets more and more bogged. That people will be having more difficulty to understand what is known about history and what is mere legend. Or that the real history actually took place and that we have something to learn from it.

 

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The theological faculty at Helsinki University has decided to start teaching the theology of Islam beside their Christian studies. They already teach at least the Lutheran and the Orthodox versions of Christianity. Some of the Finnish politicians from the far right “immigration critical” party the “Finns” (previously known as the “True Finns” party) were alarmed by this new development.

There is this idea of “Islamisation” of Europe and western world, that is at the bottom of the fear for such a turn of events. Fear is a powerfull factor in politics. Sometimes fear is justified. There have been immigration from Islamic countries to Europe for generations and today it is more visible and wider than ever. The reason is of course, that there are many wars ongoing in Africa, Near- and Middle-East. Many powerfull western powers (both governments and capital) have supported this and that regressive form of government in North Africa, the Near- and Middle-East. This has led to a bunch of wars and people are running from the chaos, bloodshed, oppression and poverty. Hence there are more and more Islamic people even here in the norther part of Europe and even in Finland.

 Medieval illustration of a battle during the Second Crusade

This is the reality we live in today, not the time of the crusades. Closing the gates from more comers would be devastating to our own society, as it would send a message to the Islamic people who already live here, that they are being considered as some sort of second class citizens, or even totally unwanted people. This would lead to the radicalization of many of them and would serve no purpose, exept the purpose of the populist rigt wing politician, be they our own fascists, or members of the Islamist radical movement. For they truly are the opposite sides of the same coin. Their goal is indeed the same, to create a barrier between people on the artificial lines of religion and race and to rule people through the fear they themselves have created.

To me as an atheist, the study of theology, be it Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, or whatever is the study of nothing, by meaningles methods. It is ultimately a wasted effort to try to find some super- or otherwise unnatural meaning from ancient folklore alledgedly put there by some form of divine power. Theology only exists in universities because of cultural and traditional reasons. Not because it represents an actual form of science. It is a non-science where the end result of the “nature” of the ultimate study subject has been prediceded and it is simply nothing but magic. This meticulous study of such sources for generations has led us absolutely no closer to any evidence of said divinities even existing, let alone influencing writing work of primitive cultures. At the end, all divinities still demand blind faith, wich is by no means even a remotely reliable method to find the truth about ANY issue.

However, to me the possibility for people to practice their religion and especially trying to study it, is the sign of an open secular society, where all religions are represented, as long as any of them is studied and have followers anyway. Only in such a tolerant culture can the religions themselves develope towards peacefull co-existance and be interpreted in a tolerant way – thus benefiting also us atheists. In this sense secularism is not only the base for a stronger and more inclusive society, but indeed the base for a better society to live in. For everybody.

 

I never thought I would find myself defending the rights of the ultra religious conservative right. But here we go. The funny thing is, that I have to take a stand on the issue against themselves.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle joulupukki

Denmark has something against Santa Claus! Denmark has issued a ban on the Burka, Niqab, balaclavas, hoodies and false beards. Yes really – false beards… The purpose of this law is quite ridiculous. They mean to follow the example of France and some other European countries in order to make sure people could not hide their identity by obscuring their faces in public. Why obviously, because typical people to wear false beards like Santa Claus actors, and often the older Muslim women wearing niqab are the real menace to peace and order in public. Are they not?

Hiding one’s identity or face can not be stopped by such nonsensical laws. A person may alter their appearance by so many different methods. Make-up, or a wig may change the face totally, just like sunglasses. Why ban false beards? Why not real beards?

This finally proves how the right wing conservatism is equally stupid all over the world, based on subjective world views resulting in fearmongering and having the ultimate goal of getting to order other people around. Here you must wear a burka because they get to say what you may wear and there you must not wear a burka because the same sort of nincompoops get to say what you may wear. They want to oppress people by ordering them even in as seemingly trivial issues as what clothes to wear. What is wrong whith people who want to decide for other people what to wear?

However, it is not trivial to make such laws, because what you wear is about identity and freedom of expression and usually does not harm anyone else. The niqab may harm the person wearing it emotionally, if she is forced to do so, but a ban on the use of such a garment is just as bad as if you were forced to wear it.

The goal of such a ban has absolutely nothing to do with equality or feminism. If you thought so, you were sadly mislead. This can easily be observed by who expressed their joy about it. It was not the social movements fighting for equality, but all the xenophobes celebrating the idea, that this might somehow turn immigrants from Islamic countries back from Denmark. The very same people who constantly express their misogynism. Because they are affraid of Muslim women!

If the purpose of the Danish government was to fight against terrorism, and specifically Islamically motivated terrorism, they have just failed miserably. Such laws, that are direct attacks on the liberties of Muslims (although I suppose the attack on Santa was a clumsy way to try to hide the agenda) and the freedom to express their faith and/or identity are not only hypocritical, but also very dangerous, as they are the causes that drive Muslims already living or later moving to Denmark into radicalization.

People really need to understand, that religions do not cause political radicalization. The real causes are always political in nature. Religions provide people with identity and sadly also excuses by the imaginary divine authority they represent to put tribal moralism into action and ultimately unethical deeds, such as violence. You may think that Islamist terrorism is the only violence at hand, but you would be wrong. You should take a look at history and what the western nations have been doing in Islamic countries for the past century. Remember though, how the Islamists started out only by issuing orders about who gets to wear and what (especially women).

I am becoming really worried about Europe, as the right wing conservatives, both Islamist extremists and our own political opportunistic populists have caused changes on politics through fearmongering. Our right wing nationalists are handing on a plate again and again reasons to hate the western culture for the Islamist extremists to point out to other Muslims.

I wonder how long will it take for the Europeans to wake up and see how we are increasingly governed by so many people who have totally lost contact with reality and whose actions are motivated by fear and hatred. A niqab may be a tool for oppression, but it is also a strong religious and/or cultural symbol and it is pointles, cruel and barbaric to attack the women wearing them, wether by their own choise or not. What this sort of law can achieve, is only that the woman having to wear one, for any reason, shall find it much harder to go out into the society. It is a law of segregation, not different from the stars of David forced on the Jews during WWII, and it will close the woman into a very small ghetto of her home.

I am now expecting reports from Denmark about the police enforcing the law and fining Santa Claus actors for wearing false beards… Well, at least when the season comes again.

In the spirit of oncoming Chirstmass:
Kuvahaun tulos haulle mary icon wiki
Mary did you know your baby boy would one day be brutally tortured?
That religious conservatives would demand his death?
That fundamentalists would demand capital punishment on your son?
Mary did you know your son would be executed by an empire?
An empire, that only sought to protect it’s interrests over seas?
Mary did you know your son would condemn the businessmen and what would follow?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of a future troublemaker?
Did you know your baby boy would demand all should sell all of their property?
Mary did you know he would think it impossible for a rich man to enter heaven?
Mary did you know your baby boy would drive pigs off the cliff?
Because he thought they were infested with demons?
Was it you who made him think himself as a son of a god?
Mary did you know your illicit son would become a nazarene?
And what good ever came from nazarenes and other religious fanatics?
Mary did you know, Mary did you know, Mary did you know?

Within the many sects of Christianity there is this ideal of evangelism. Some Christians really do think that they would do you a favour by turning you into a believer.  I find this curious. What are they actually offering and have they thought it through?

The evangelical Christian is offering you a path to salvation. But to a salvation from what? The wrath of their god for not following the will of this god of theirs (given to the humanity in an iron age mythical pamphlet of a particular nation). What is the path? To worship this god and hoping for “Him” to forgive you your transgressions despite this god thinks you are worthy of being tortured for an eternity, or at very least being destroyed while those who worship “Him” may get a second chance and  an eternal afterlife in some sort of bliss. What is wrong with me, for not finding this a moral suggestion at all?

It is evermore difficult because how is one to know what this god of the Christians really considers a transgression. What?  Well, some of these alledged transgressions against the will of this particular deity may, or may not be – depending on the particular sect of Christianity and the mindset of the individual believer one happens to ask – for example male homosexual sex, or according to the Bible eating of pigs, but not for example rape, or childmolestation). Is the entire point to make the rules so ambiguous and hard to know, that they inevitably result into a failure of following them?

This all gets even more complicated and immoral as the religion insists, that you and everything EVERYTHING in the world or even the universe were alledgedly created by this same creator entity, who also knew beforehand how it would all turn out and who now demands you are guilty for not following the guidelines provided in, let us be honest, quite an unreasonable method for most of human kind. Many Christians would like to release their god from any responsibility of human actions by appealing to the concept of free will. Yet, at the same time they are all too happy to declare, that in the alledged afterlife there is no suffering. Is there then no free will either? If it is possible, that there exist free will and at the same time no suffering, then all the suffering in this material universe would be totally pointless, and the creator of such pointless suffering would necessarily be responsible for it.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle hieronymus bosch

One preacher on the street reasoned the notion, that everyone is deserving of helfire for an eternity, to me by claiming that a perfect judge would not be leanient, but just. Then he offered the belief in Jesus as a pathway to salvation. I wondered and still do, how the preacher could think, that his god was at the same time the just and unrelenting judge for transgressions made by humans and mercifull for a select group of people who choose to worship “Him”. What sort of judge would be mercifull and leanient to a group of criminals who worship him? Would we not call such a judge totally immoral and corrupt?

In reality, the entire idea of evangelism is based on a blame-the-victim mentality and tribal moralism in wich the few select see it perfectly moral of their god to cast most of humanity to eternal torture, or if they have even a slight suspicion, that everything is not right with this system, they simply prefer not to think about it. Such segregationist ideals are very harmfull indeed, as they dehumanize the outgroup. People who are not part of the tribe are not really humans to the tribalist, as they are deserving of the eternal punishment, but at the same time the god who is willing to punish the non-believer, the infidel, the heretic, or pagan by inhumane measure. I have even run into Christians who justify this by appealing to might makes right, as if their god had the right to torture “His” creation or set impossible rules simply because he can and he somehow owns all of us sentient beings. This is a dreadfull demonstration of how a religion may twist, corrupt, or simply excuse the most heinous moralism.

The evangelical is often totally unaware of the harm they cause even when they themselves are among the victims of it. This makes the entire idea terribly insidious. They think they are relieving death anxiety, while they are actually causing it by creating this fear of hell. I guess, it is because of the seeming relief they provide, that makes them blind to how such empty threats are typical for a cult to stop people from questioning the unfalsifiable, unverifiable, unverified and unwarranted bold claims about the supernatural, so that they keep in and as a group keep the pyramid scheme going.

I think the entire thing is based on a myth written long before the concept of human rights and holds no truth to it. Most people who believe in it have been taught to do so without question. As have their parents and ancestors for ages from beyond times immemorial before the scientific method or skeptical thinking, let alone natural sciences, were not widely understood. Even today some of them are actually obstructing scientific research and the rest give credence to the wildest superstitious claims, that they themselves do not share, by not opposing them because they share the religious motivation. Putting that aside, one would expect that any myth that people commit themselves with equal fervour would at least be internally consistent. Yet, who is to say a myth needs to be moral?

Steve Bannon promised to support US president Trump after he had resigned from the White House. He went back to Breitbart and now we are told, that Breitbart has been very critical of the latest descisions of the US president and some of his staff. I do not see any controversy here. A critical newsmedia should be critical even about the political leader they otherwise support. Otherwise it stops being critical and becomes just a form of propaganda for the politician. This is a positive sign.

The US president Donald Trump made a comment about the intended demolition of the statue of Confederate general Lee. He defended the statue and asked wich statues are the next to be tumbled. I agree with him. Pulling down statues, even those of people whose values we no longer share is a bit barbaric.

Of course, if a dictator has littered the landscape with enormous statues of himself or symbols of regressive and oppressive regime all over, it is only natural that when such a dictatorship falls, the people vent some of their anger on those statues and that a good number of them do not need to be in the open any more.

I do not think we should hide our past by taking down old statues, even if they represent ideals we no longer share. History should not be re-written as such, but rather that some of those statues should stand in order to remind us how we have been wrong once.

Now, in the US, it seems to me as an outsider, the problem is actually not so much the taking down of such a statue, or pulling the rug over history, as it is the crowd that came to protest the statue being taken down. People organized into paramilitant groups toting automatic guns and waving the Swasticas and the Confederate flags. These people were not there to protest against the cultural barbarism of pulling down an historical monument, but to demonstrate that they dare still openly hold racist values. I guess, it is these groups, and their audacity to publicly demonstrate their ultra-conservative extremist right-wing values really existing, why such a statue as the one representing general Lee was decided to take down at the first place. To make a gesture, that the US society no longer finds racism, or slavery as values to support, or even to flirt with. The fact that there was a counter protest finally made the gestrure. So in order to defend the statue, these right-wing extremists actually made the gesture bigger. It would have been even bigger if the US president had taken a firm stand against the neo-nazies. But he wavored. I guess he felt he had to accomodate for some of his most scared and angry voters.

Now poor president Trump is in dire straits with this. He has pulled much of his most loyal support from such extremist groups and even more from large amounts of individuals who may not be members of any of these groups, but symphatize with them, and share their concern of the world changing around them. Many of his supporters may not be open racists, but feel anguished about being monitored by demands of political correctness and not really knowing how to behave, when their former inhereted values no longer seem to be seen as valid by the ever changing society around them. Having a cultural heritage of already a bit old fashioned set of values, that as so many ancient cultural traditions are more based on arbitrary authoritarian dictates, than the ability to reason what is actually good and what is poor behaviour, these people have elected a president who seems to fit the picture of an authoritarian, white, strong, conservative male, who in addition speaks in simple phrases, rather than using complex political jargon. The thing is, that one of the many misconceptions of these sorts of voters of the president, is that they think they represent the majority and that the not only have the democratic majority, but the right of might of the majority and indeed even the right of might of their god, who no doubt agrees with them about all the moral issues. Yet, that is not how reality works and this means they are in for a nasty ride in the future and that they may get even more desperate, if this president fails to provide them the imaginary golden age of the past, they think existed when they were kids.

What options does president Trump have? He tries to provide a picture where he has not abandoned this large support group of ignorant and possibly desperate people. He has the advantage, that they often are limited in their cognitive abilities to analyze reality, so he – knowing his own crowd – may be able to numb them down with his message, that the “other side” was just as much to blame as the right-wing conservative extremists who demonstrated waving open the flags of Nazi-regime and those of the slave-owning Confederate magnates. The main question is what other side? Should we not stand against nazies? What follows, if we do not? I truly hope, that not even president Trump would really want that as in his own family there are people who would be among the first victims of such extremist right-wing conservatives would reach the sort of authoritarian absolute political power they expect him to weild, now that he is the elected president.

Ultimately, just as the ultra-conservatively motivated right-wing extremist Islamist terrorist is good at igniting the fear and hatred of the ultra-conservatively motivated Western right-wing extremist to demands of segregation and even violence (wich I might add is the goal of the Islamist terrorist), both are good at slowly waking up the great majority of the modern people, who just want to live their lives in peace, that at least some of the values they may share with these conservatively motivated right-wing extremists may indeed be bunk.

It may be slow progress, that no longer do we need to only argue with religious conservatives, that there are atheists even among conservatives, that liberal values like freedom of speech is defended as a conservative value, while it has not been that for a very long period of time, and in most extremely conservative and authoritarian cultures it is not valued even today and that some regressive extremist conservative political movements are infact led by women, but I call it progress never the less. Now there are even homosexual advocates of the right-wing conservative extremist values. Women and homosexuals have thus emancipated within the conservative culture up to a point even though opposing such emancipation used to be and still is, so very centrall to so many extremist conservatives of the right-wing tradition. Now, even a political leader who obviously is trying to fill in the leadership model of an authoritarian strong-man such as Donald Trump is critizised by his own supporters, like the Breitbart, who otherwise have had a tendency to spout out all manner of authoritarian propaganda in his defence. The world is turning and it changes. Let us hope it changes fast enough in comparrison to how fast we are detereorating it around us.

Hundreds and thousands of refugees flood Europe from the so called third world countries. Some of these people come to seek better income and are not refugees as those who come from countries where there is a war going on. But we no longer speak of war, because conflict seems like a better description of the situation in countries like for example Afghanishtan.

Many of the people who come to Europe are young men. Instead of fighting for one or a nother faction or a cause in their homecountries these young men have chosen to flee the conflict area and leave their families behind. Why? Because they are the ones who can leave, are most likely drafted to to this or that militia to fight for a cause they do not even recognize, or support. In Europe our wars both against other Europeans and the rest of the world have been fought with countless young men who did not have a clue about the cause and were drafted to do the fighting. Sometimes some of them even thought they had a notion of the cause they were fighting for. Most often those causes were quite abstract, like a “Fatherland”, or the “King and country”, or even “The Empire”. If a cause can not raise enough people to fight for it, is it a good enough cause to fight and die for? If it can rally masses to the banner, does that make it a good cause to die for?

Europe seems to be divided, or perhaps even a bit schitzofrenic about how the refugees should be met. Some fear the outsider, or simply have suspicions based on the culture and religion of the newcomers. Some see them as a representation of the faceless threat that the modern times, cultural changes, or even globalization represent. Some view them as humans in need of help, or see their desperation when they brave the Mediterranean with tiny, but very full boats. Most recognize these people as the victims of human traficking.

The European countries try to limit the amount of refugees coming in to satisfy their voters who fear the change the refugees represent. Be that change the fear for increased amount of terrorism, something strange called “Islamization”, or even the amount of cheap labour. In reality, countries like for example my native Finland has an actual problem in how our population is growing older and older.  What terrorism we have had has been domestic and not motivated by extreme Islam. Some of the political violence one could call terrorism in Finland has been motivated by racism and the fear of the outsider. Some of it seems to be a direct result of some populist politicians riding on the fear of the change and of the outsider.

We have a refugee crisis going on. The crisis is not that there are many people coming to our countries. It is a crisis to the people who need to leave their homes and seek new fortunes elswhere. It is a crisis to families, who spend a lot of money to send their young men away from all sorts of militia draft systems just because that is the one person who can leave and they can afford to send to the perillous journey. A crisis to families who pack their few belongings to move to a foreign country, a destination they often know almost next to nothing about just to get away from the war – sorry, conflict. A crisis to thousands of people who get abused and robbed to get to Europe. A very real crisis to thousands of people who have already drowned and drown on their way. A humanitarian crisis to untold thousands who end up in refugee camps mostly at the outskirts of Europe.

The populists of Europe are against specifically Islamic refugees. This should reveal their game to everyone. As if Islam was somehow more intolerant religion than Christianity. It is not. In Europe Christianity has simply been pacified by secularism. The people who come may have their own problems, but it is childish to think we can recognize their specific problems when they come. The terror attack in Manchester a couple of days ago, was committed by an Islamist radical. The previous terror attack in Manchester was made by a Christian extremist. It was made in 1994 by the IRA. Both attacks were motivated, by politics and were done by emotionally unstable people. Let us face it, sane people do not engage in terror attacks. Do they? Not even when they commit such by the commands of some military organization and not even when they use a bomber to deliver the bomb, instead of blowing themselves up with a suitcase bomb.

Finally, I have to say, that the idea of “Islamization” is ridiculous. It is only a threat if the society to wich the Islamic people come to join is not a truly secular. If religion holds any political power and people are segragated according to their superstitions, only then many Islamic people may hold political power in a democracy. Secularism is the cure to extremist religiously motivated violence, not some other religion, as we have so often throughout history witnessed, the most peacefull religions, like for example Buddhism can be distorted to be used as motivation to violence. The extremist Islamist terrorist has exactly the same motives as the neo-nazi. The neo-nazi may even be totally non-religious, but has a similar misunderstanding of reality as that of a Theist extremist. Their common motive is to create division and conflict between cultures, because they can not stand pluralism. They have difficulty to stomach other people not living up to their standards, even when the other people are not stepping on their individual rights. Should we ever again yield to the demands of such lunatics?