Pity the poor atheists

Abstract: Everyone seems to hate atheists. But why?... God knows I'm an atheist! There you go, I've said. I've 'come out', as it were and acknowledged the fact that I don't believe in God or any other superpowerful supernatural being that supposedly made us and the universe, and who spreads their word via one or many prophets, angels, saints or persons in some manner or form. Writing that very sentence is either very brave of me or just very stupid because for some or other reason most people really don't like atheists. The chances are pretty good that when you read that sentence you felt some form of emotional reaction, anything from gentle surprise at the boldness of the statement to complete horror, and you now consider me akin to a trafficker of small children. Am I perhaps being a little overdramatic? It seems

The Crusades on our playgrounds?

Abstract: There is something that could threaten to tear apart even moderate Muslims and Christians - a potential battlefield on our children's playgrounds... Ever heard of Pollokshields? I doubt it. In fact, I doubt if anyone outside of this suburb of Glasgow has ever heard of it. And yet it may be a defining player in Islam's relationship with the West that could have repercussions in South Africa. I have just returned from the UK where the Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoon debacle is still making the news. In a country that boasts a press that is legendary in its tenacity and sovereignty, the British press has been remarkably restrained. Unlike some of their European counterparts, they refused to publish the 'offensive' cartoons. Their moderation had nothing to do with censorship though. Like South Africans, the British are sensitive towards offending different

Why blacks shouldn’t be priests

Abstract: If saying blacks shouldn't be priests is racist, why is saying women shouldn't be priests, not misogynist?... I have a confession to make: I've misled you. Well, only to a certain degree. You see this is not really about why blacks shouldn't be priests because, obviously, I cannot think of a single reason why they shouldn't be. But your reaction to the title of this piece is central to its theme and potential impact. And if you were drawn to the title because of some expected discourse on the matter of priests, you won't be disappointed. I'll get to them later. But let me first remain with the theme of the title, and let me ask you this: can you think of any reason why blacks shouldn't be allowed to be priests? What about bishops, or rabbis, or mullahs? Of course not; the

Preparing our children for war

Abstract: Ever stopped to think how you may be emotionally and psychologically preparing your children to fight?... Every day, without knowing it, we prepare our children for war. We do things and we say things that prepare them mentally and emotionally to fight. We do this calmly, even rationally; and we do it because we love them and because we think we're doing the right thing. Have you ever asked your 8-year old child what is his or her political affiliation? Are they an ANC supporter, or do they identify more with the centralist liberal ideology of the DA? Perhaps they consider the ANC sell-outs, and yearn more for the fiery rhetoric of the SACP? Of course, you're not going to ask them because they're far too young. How is an 8-year old supposed to understand the subtle and twisted shifts in politics? Besides,

The monster within us

Abstract: Why we should leave smokers alone... I caught a glimpse of her upper thigh as she teasingly lured the hem of her skirt towards her waist. My breath shortened in expectation waiting for a heavenly full disclosure. What would I see, what would she show me? She shrieked with delight and then collapsed on the table to tremendous applause from her friends. The party nearby had been going at it all afternoon and was clearly in an advanced stage of celebration. They had encouraged one of the girls to take to the table in a high-kicking act of can-can, but she couldn't. Instead, she had lifted her skirt in a sensual tease before the sudden increase in altitude cleared her head of consciousness. As I replayed the image in my mind it was accompanied by a subtext that had nothing, and yet

The sometimes bitter side of allowing sport players to glorify alcohol

Abstract: When the Proteas take to the pitch they become unfortunate Lords of a war where only innocent people get killed... Watching the Proteas in action in Australia I am struck with a feeling of utter disappointment; not because of how they are playing, but because they have been dragged into peddling misery, injury and even death. There's a remarkable opening sequence in the recent Nicholas Cage film Lord of War. As the credits are fired onto the screen, the viewer follows a single 7.62mm round from its birth to a death. We see it manufactured in a grimy Russian factory then sorted, boxed, delivered via ship to a war-torn African country, selected by a drugged-up soldier, pressed into the magazine of his AK47, loaded into the rifle's chamber and then fired at a target. It misses, and instead you see it smashing into

The digestive tract of love

Abstract: "Love you with all my heart"? A scientific impossibility, I'm afraid... One of the downfalls of being brought up in a home that embraced the pursuit of knowledge through robust and empirical scientific process is that I find this time of the year really gets up my nose. And I'm not talking about hay fever. My father was, during the 1960s, one of Europe's leading scientists. He was, by all accounts, something of a genius. Computers were his area of expertise, but his real love was scientific enquiry and the quest for logical thought. And he shared it with me in his own special way. He explained why Spock was the coolest character on Star Trek because he was purely logical in his thinking and didn't let piffly little things like emotions get in the way of his duties as First Officer on

Hearts on our sleeves

Abstract: How can we expect to win by 'working together for a better South Africa'? We each need to take our respective bows... As far as international sport is concerned, August was a month of mixed blessings for South Africa: We were emasculated in Sri Lanka; in Athens we scored what SABC radio news called a 'haul' of medals (less gold medals than a single swimmer - Michael Phelps - and only a few more in total than we collected 12 years ago in Barcelona); and yet we powered our way to victory in the Tri-Nations. Does this mean our cricket team are pathetic, our athletes kind of so-so, but our rugby team are kings of the world? No. But it does convey the impression that magic muti works. Think about it. Other than sheer bulk, what is it that our rugby team had

Women are better on top

Abstract: Why women can run government departments but can't drive taxis... When I heard the announcement of the new provincial premiers I thought immediately of Athens. You see 44% of athletes taking part in this year's Summer Olympics will be women. This is not surprising seeing there are so many of them around - women, that is, not athletes. Similarly, 44% of South African provincial premiers are women. Again, statistically speaking this shouldn't be all that startling given the large number of women there are in this country. And yet the media's commentators seemed genuinely shocked that so many women had "made it". It was as if a national soccer coach had just trawled through the crowd and picked people at random to play for his side on the day of a World Cup final. Perhaps this has something to do with another statistic: it's