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On confusing Liberty with Queen Victoria and the Blessed Virgin

Friday, June 5th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — ’tis but a short skip from iconography to iconoclasm ]

Apparently it happens:


In the case of Nairobi (upper panel), it is Queen Victoria who is mistaken for the Virgin Mary. In the case of Pretoria (lower panel), Justice is mistaken, variously, for both Her Majesty and Our Lady.


Is it any wonder people get agitated about graven images?

Human ping-pong

Monday, May 18th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron – reports from the twitter-stream — and this is only the game as played at sea ]


In more detail:


Meanwhile, in the Mediterranean:

Paris, in a DoubleTweet with Nigeria

Friday, January 9th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — what’s the value of a human life in tweets, in column inches, in my attention span? ]

I really don’t have much to say — I’ve lived a year in Paris, have never been to Nigeria, am human.


I was in Managua shortly after the 1972 earthquake there, driving past block after block of city rubble with yellow flags indicating the locations of bodies buried too deep to be recovered. My Pentax served to dilute and capture my emotions then, as my DoubleTweet and other formalisms do now with these mind-numbing horrors piled on horrors.

Politics, Religion and Apocalypse #n+3

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — in brief: Zuma, Mugabe, Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Saint Paul ]

I keep on thinking we’ve seen enough, but no: the heady blend of statacraft and religion — all too often, apocalyptic, “end times” religion — just keeps on cropping up. Here are three more DoubleQuotes, these ones centering around President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, with scattered flashes of Robert Mugabe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez and Saint Paul.


SPEC DQ Mugabe Zuma


SPEC DQ Ahmadinejad Zuma


SPEC DQ Zuma St Paul


I’m way behind after ten or so days of a cough and cold, yesterday I was more or less up and about, and today feels normal with mild residuals, so I’m trying to get this post out at last, and won’t make any comments about the specific pairings — except to say that my long-running obsession with matters eschatological seems to lead me into the far corners of almost everything.

Which considering how déclassé and generally marginal a topic “the end times” is generally assumed to be, makes me feel both very fortunate and somewhat astonished. Go figure.

Christian cannibal: first the horror, then the meditation

Friday, January 17th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — you may not want to watch the video – read the text first, okay? ]

Here’s what the BBC-wallah said:

The Christians were victims; now they’re on top. It’s a dangerous time to be Muslim. A charred and dismembered body is dragged through the streets. Christians have just killed a Muslim passerby. Ouandja “Mad Dog” Magloire was at the head of the mob. He was in a blind fury that day. Muslims killed his pregnant wife, his sister in law, her baby, he tells me. They broke down the door and cut the baby in half. I promised I’d get my revenge. Revenge was an act of cannibalism. First, he stabbed j\his victim. You are Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, he said. I poured petrol over him, I burned him, I ate his leg, right down to the white bone. The victim was just passing through on a bus. Most Christians are horrified, but resigned. No-one tried to help him, say these eyewitnesses. Everyone is so angry with these Muslims. No way anyone was going to intervene.

This happened at two o’clock in the afternoon, when the streets were crowded with people, just like you see today. Everyone we’ve spoken to is still at a loss to know what to make of it. Was it the act of a madman, was it somebody who’d been pushed by sectarian hatred, was it explained perhaps, by traditional beliefs in magic and sorcery. These fighters are Christians but they also believe in magic. their amulets contain soil from their ancestors’ graves. Some carry the flesh of enemies they’ve killed. These charms are a delicate subject, not often discussed with outsiders. We are bullet-proof, says the commander. Mad Dog Magloire went further. perhaps his crime resulted from his own demons, but to some Christians he’s a hero. That doesn’t bode well for this country’s future.

If you want to watch him say it, it’s powerful. Here you go:

Okay, now for the meditation: I want to rescue something out of all this horror.


The very first thing I want to note is this:

We are bullet-proof, says the commander.

I’ve run across this before, it’s a common motif. Remember the Lakota Ghost Dance shirts? Johnny and Luther Htoo, the cigar-smoking twins who led God’s Army in Myanmar…? Televangelist Wilde Almeda of the Jesus Miracle Crusade in the Philippines?

This is just to say that in my view, religion with spiritual bullet-proofing is different from religion without it, no matter what name you tag the religion with.


Next up:

Most Christians are horrified, but resigned. … perhaps his crime resulted from his own demons, but to some Christians he’s a hero.

It could be tribal. It could be magical, maybe. It could be religious, specifically Christian. It could be Mad Dog Magloire‘s “own demons”. It could be, and surely was, that he saw his pregnant wife slaughtered before his own eyes.

But he projected his thirst for vengeance not on the man — a Muslim — who had butchered them, but on a guy in a passing bus who looked like he was Muslim.


Some weeks back, Commander Abu Sakkar of the Farouq Brigades in Syria ate what he took to be the heart of one of his enemies. It turned out to be his enemy’s lung.

  • If you think Mad Dog Magloire doesn’t represent Christianity, maybe Abu Sakkar doesn’t represent Islam.

  • If you think Abu Sakkar is representative of Islam, maybe Magloire is representative of Christianity.
  • I think it is fair to say that any religions with in excess of a billion adherents will find the odd cannibal among them in time of war.


    But then consider this, in peacetime:

    In Ireland this week, a man confessed he’d murdered his landlord over a chess game, and eaten his heart. Forensics showed it was a lung that was missing


    We are, after all, human.

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