Month: August 2015

Let’s talk about abortion…

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Just to clarify, I’m against it unless in cases such as giving birth being a danger to the mother’s life. Now before I get called a “religious fanatic”, I’m not religious. I don’t need to be religious to have ethical manners. I don’t need religion to know that murdering an innocent child is unethical.

Now those who are “pro-choice” would argue that governments banning abortion would cause women to go for abortion in an unhealthy, illegal way. I would say that governments issuing a law against abortion won’t solve the problem; so how about governments improving the economical situation so that if women get pregnant they can be secure about providing for their future kids? How about governments educating people about ethical manners in schools so that they know it’s wrong to murder an innocent child? The problem has to be solved from its roots. And even those abortion clinics are involved with illegal acts. Ever heard of the abortion clinic called Planned Parenthood selling body parts of aborted babies to private companies for research? This is so disgusting I don’t know what to say anymore.

Those who think that by supporting abortion they are supporting freedom of choice, well, the truth is that, whether they know it or not, they are supporting the dehumanization and depopulation of human beings.

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Reply to those who say “God Is A Woman”…

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This graffiti was written by the protesters in Beirut which I previously talked about; from the “You Stink” campaign as well as others.

Some religious people (Christians mostly) view God as a male, and in other religions a female Goddess is worshiped. Pagans worship male as well as female Gods, and sometimes those Gods are half-human and half-animal. Whether all this is wrong or right is not my concern here. Religious people sometimes face difficulties in finding a spiritual connection with a divine entity or a creator that is neither male nor female, which they can’t identify with or be close to. So they give this higher power a personification: a name, a gender, and some humanitarian characteristics, whether in a one God/Goddess or several deities.

However, those who write slogans as the one above do not have a religious or spiritual purpose; they just want to use the shock method to rebel, and they don’t even specify what exactly they are rebelling against: some day it’s religion, another day it’s corruption, then it’s the garbage crisis (in Lebanon), another time it’s the politicians/party leaders…nothing particular, no specific aim to be achieved, just rebellion for the sake of rebellion.

Who is behind the #YouStink (‏#طلعت_ريحتكم‬) Campaign in Lebanon?

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Recently, the capital of Lebanon is witnessing another Lebanese Spring (like the Arab Spring; with the first Lebanese one being the Cedar Revolution in 2005).

The country is already full of economic problems, corruption, sectarianism and so on, and above all those came the garbage crisis. All this is what the #YouStink campaign claims to be protesting against in Beirut. That’s why they call their campaign #YouStink ; it is directed to corrupt politicians who do not solve the garbage crisis effecting Lebanon. The protests began peacefully; but they ended up with violence where people with covered faces started breaking glasses of cars, shop fronts, throwing stuff at the security forces and removing street signs out of their places.

The organizers of the #YouStink campaign said that those who started using violence are merely infiltrators; and insisted that peaceful protesting is the way which their campaign follows. Whether those violent rioteers were really infiltrators or a part of the original campaign is not the question.

The protesters claim to be ”leftist” and ”secular”; though they were shouting slogans that were used by Islamists during the Arab Spring in countries like Egypt. #YouStink claims; on its Facebook page to be a ”grassroot organization”. However; their coordinator Imad Bazzi is trained by Otpor. Otpor, with its CANVAS Institution, trains activists (with financial support from George Soros) and it is behind the Arab Spring, as well as opponent activism in places like Iran, Latin America, etc… The purpose of ”activists” of this kind is not to fight corruption, or to solve anything (like the garbage crisis for example)…history has proven that their purpose is to destabilize countries.

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Our friend Imad Bazzi; the Otpor-backed activist and coordinator of #YouStink is also a blogger, ex TV/Radio host, and currently working as a councillor for a local Lebanese TV channel. The Foreign Policy Magazine picked him, in 2011, as one of the Most influential Bloggers in the Mediterranean.

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He is also an environmental activist who previously worked for Greenpeace. I previously exposed the hypocrisy of environmental activism and the fact that those misanthropes are after depopulating the planet (from the populations of third world countries of course; because ”let those savages die, who cares”) rather than solving the environmental problems; in addition to cooperating with and getting financed by companies who pollute the environment.

Mr. Bazzi also was one of those who protested asking the ex-Lebanese president Emile Lahoud to resign the presidency in 2006. Emile Lahoud is a pride for us Lebanese Christians, and for all Lebanon as well, because he supports the Lebanese armed resistance against Israel. That’s why activists serving a foreign agenda do not like him.

We want reforms in Lebanon; we want the garbage crisis to be solved. But destabilizing the country won’t solve anything; it would make it worse. And it’s time to tell Soros and Otpor: You Stink!

 

The Difference Between Celtic Paganism and Its Depiction in “The Mists of Avalon”

“The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley is a novel; a retelling of the Arthurian legend from the point of view of the women behind king Arthur’s throne. However; its portrayal of the pre-Christian paganism in the British Isles isn’t accurate. My fascination with Celtic paganism lead me to find out that it’s depiction in that novel is different than what it really is.

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note: this is in no way a criticism of Marion Zimmer Bradley – as a writer myself, I highly admire her writing skills, and the way she makes the characters so real and complex.

(the nice photos below are from the 2001 movie based on the novel, and no spoilers, so don’t worry and keep on reading)

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The differences between Celtic old religion and its portrayal in The Mists of Avalon is in the following aspects:

1.Priesthood 

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You think the Celts had female priestesses like in The Mists of Avalon? Only in your dreams. The Druids (class of educated people and priests among them) were all males, and there’s no evidence that suggests otherwise.

However, this is not to say that women had no important role in the Celtic society. Women were warriors (Boudica for example), NOT priestesses.

2.Beltane 

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In “The Mists of Avalon”, Beltane is celebrated by performing a fertility rite where males represent the Horned God and females represent the Goddess; and thus ensuring fertility and the growing of the crops, four times per year.

In Celtic beliefs, the Horned God, aka “Cernunnos” (who is half man and half deer, and symbolizes fertility, animals and hunting) marries one of the Celtic Goddesses at Beltane.

Beltane was, and still is, in some areas, celebrated on May 1st. It is one of the four major Celtic celebrations in a year: Beltane (May 1st), Lughnasa (August 1st), Samhain (November 1st), and Imbolc (February 1st). In Beltane, Celts lighted two Bonfires and made the cattle pass between them to ensure their fertility; because touching the fire flames means being touched by the Sun God. People also passed between the two Bonfires to drive away barrenness and hard luck.

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Cernunnos carved on a cauldron…

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…and Cernunnos on an album cover of Celtic metal band Eluveitie

3.Beliefs

The Mists of Avalon gives an impression that the Celts worshiped just one God and one Goddess. However, in reality, they had a huge pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. The saying which frequently appeared in The Mists of Avalon that “all the Goddesses are one Goddess, and all the Gods are one God” is a quote from the esoteric occultist Dion Fortune who wasn’t even alive during the time of this old religion. In short, Celts were polytheists, not duotheists.

What Bradley portrayed in her novel resembles more the neo-pagan religion Wicca than the ancient Celtic paganism. Female priestesses is a Wiccan thing, and so is duotheism. A sect of Wiccans (Dianic Wiccans) even believe only in the Goddess and no God, and those are often associated with radical feminism. As for Beltane, some Wiccans celebrate it by fertility rites the way they did in The Mists of Avalon.

Update: I found out even more info about the Celtic religious beliefs thanks to further research, and again; noticed a difference with how it was presented in that novel: 

Sun and Moon: in the novel, the Sun represents the male gender (and the God; the Horned One), and the Moon is female (representing the Goddess/Great Mother). However, according to ancient Celtic beliefs; the Sun and the Moon changed sexes based on the function. The Moon wasn’t always the female and the Sun wasn’t always the male. Again, the “Old Religion” in the novel = Wicca and the permanent Sun/Moon, Male/Female dualities are Wiccan beliefs.

Elements: In the story, it is clear that the followers of the “Old Religion” based their beliefs on the four elements: fire, wind, water and rock, and performed their rites by those elements.

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However, Celts divided the elements into three: Land, sea and sky; NOT four! And it actually makes sense because almost everything to them was divided into 3; they had triadic Gods and Goddesses (triadic=having 3 forms), and 3 realms: This World, The OtherWorld and The UnderWorld (which not necessarily evil as a monotheist might think). However, Wiccans divide the elements into fire, wind, water and rock.

Afterlife: I promised that no spoilers; but just a tiny teeny example. In the story a lady meets someone who was her lover in a past life. The thing is, the ancients in the British Isles did not believe in reincarnation and past lives and all that. Their view of the Afterlife was similar to the monotheistic one: good people become happy in the Afterlife and bad ones suffer. Reincarnation is a Wiccan belief which Wiccans themselves most probably borrowed from the Hindu or Buddhist beliefs. But as the religion of the ancients in The Mists of Avalon is Wicca then you see why it goes this way.

I don’t blame Marion Zimmer Bradley for portraying Wicca as the “Old Religion”. After all, no matter how much we research, little do we know about the Celts and their beliefs. I recommend the book because it’s great; just don’t take it as an accurate portrayal of the Celts.

What Environmentalists Are Really After

Environmental NGOs are not an innocent bunch of hippies and environment-lovers; instead, they have purposes which have nothing to do with the environment. Here’s a simple story to clarify that.

In Ecuador, a country in Latin America, there’s a national park called Yasuni, and it is characterized by it’s indigenous Native American population and a large amount of biodiversity.

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The problem is, under this area there is black gold — oil! Since Ecuador is not a rich country and needs to flourish its economy, oil needs to be extracted. And thus the Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa suggested a solution: The Yasuni-ITT Initiative; in which the UN raises donations of $3.6 billion (half of the estimated value of the oil reserves under that park) by 2020 for Ecuador, in exchange that the Ecuadorian government “leaves the oil in the soil”.

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However, only $13 million were raised by 2013. This caused Correa, the president, to end the initiative, saying that “the world failed Ecuador“.

Then, directly, them environment-lovers went furious. A member of an NGO called “Amazon Watch” (based in the USA) said that drilling the oil in that national park is equivalent to “ignoring a ticking time bomb for the entire planet“.

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Photo: Environmentalists protesting in the Ecuadorian capital; Quito, against oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park. Source

In other words, Correa agreed not to drill the oil, on condition that he gets international compensation, because a country like Ecuador basically relies on oil for its economy. When they didn’t compensate in a sufficient way, of course he will go back to drilling! The UN and the international community could have avoided all the possible damages of drilling which they keep complaining about, but they weren’t willing to. And now they won’t leave Correa alone.

The question is, why all of a sudden those environmentalists rallied their forces in this instance, while when some famous oil company such as ExxonMobil or Chevron is involved, no one moves a muscle or makes a fuss in the media? Because those NGOs secretly cooperate with those multi-national corporations and get funded by them (Greenpeace itself is funded by Chevron, remember?). NGOs rush to stop a third world like Ecuador from developing itself, while corporations do whatever they will, damaging the environment without being held accountable.

This is said because there is another environmental disaster in Ecuador, but no one talks about it. Why? surprise – Chevron is behind it! Chevron dumped more than 18 billion barrels of toxic wastes in the rainforest in Ecuador, causing the indigenous population there to suffer from several kinds of diseases. The most important question is : where are the environmentalists?

My Review of Epica + Blaaykum’s concert in Lebanon (Byblos Festival 2.8.2014)

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After a long wait for the symphonic metal fans in general in Lebanon, and Epica fans in particular, the day finally arrived. On august 2 of 2014, at 8:30 pm, the opening band Blaakyum showed up on the stage. They started with a song called “Ceasefire”, and from the title we can tell that it is about what is going on currently in the region, and after it the lead singer of Blaakyum called for a minute of silence for all the victims of terrorism and Israeli attacks in the Arab world. Then, despite the technical problems, Blaakyum didn’t disappoint the audience, providing an outstanding performance which restores faith in the metal scene in Lebanon, along with their stage presence and interaction with the audience (especially when they asked for a mosh pit). Not to forget their unique sound which mixes thrash metal sounds with traditional Arabic melodies.
After the opening band’s performance was over, the fans waited with playback music in the background, then a playback of Originem – the intro track of Epica’s latest album The Quantum Enigma. Then, Epica finally appeared, starting with another track from their latest masterpiece, The Second Stone, followed by The Essence of Silence and Victims of Contigency!

The Quantum Enigma perfectly presents the essence of Epica’s musical style – the angelic/demonic balance between Simone Simons’ pure vocals which blew the fans away during the show, and Mark Jansen’s brutal vocals in harmony with orchestral and heavy melodies creating a bombastic performance during the whole show.
But the setlist did not consist only of tracks from The Quantum Enigma. Unleashed from Design Your Universe followed, then their most successful single Storm The Sorrow from Requiem For The Indifferent. The show continued with Chemical Insomnia, followed by the epic masterpiece from Design Your Universe – Kingdom of Heaven part 1, then Natural Corruption from The Quantum Enigma, after it the first track from The Divine Conspiracy during the show – The Obsessive Devotion. After a heavy track such as The Obsessive Devotion, Epica returned to their symphonic roots of their first album with The Phantom Agony. Despite the track being symphonic and orchestral, the band gave it a dance-y edge in some parts during the performance, but this didn’t affect its quality in a negative way, instead, it made the performance even more interesting!

Epica couldn’t play in an Arab country without performing Sancta Terra with its distinctive oriental melody, and of course Cry For The Moon – the classic (demanded by the fans) which proved that Simone’s operatic vocals keep getting better, though she went off tune sometimes during some tracks. Also the band showed that they do not only seek to provide a great show for the fans, but they also enjoy what they are doing and have some fun on stage and interact with the fans. First, Simone asked the fans to repeat the chorus of Cry For The Moon after her, then she introduced each of the band members by their names and the instruments they play instead of singing the original lyrics. Cry For The Moon ended with a drum solo from Arien. The show ended by Unchain Utopia and Consign To Oblivion.

During the whole performance, Simone and Mark stayed in touch with the fans and the fans responding by chanting “Epica! Epica! Epica!” while the band said that the Lebanese crowd was the best crowd, and promised to return. The stage effects, the uplifting sound, the great stage presence and overall performance of the Epica members made the show the most epic metal concert which Lebanese metalheads ever had.
Thanks to Epica, Blaakyum and Byblos Festival for the great work and the unforgettable night !

( image above found on glamroz )

My Review of Nightwish’s “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” (2015)

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This is the second review I write about anything so if it’s unprofessional then be easy on me, I’m still inexperienced in those things…

This album differs from the previous Nightwish albums, not just in being their first studio album which features the new vocalist Floor Jansen, but also in its theme. Nightwish drifted away from their previous fantasy/pagan/mythology atmosphere in favor of a theme which is new to them: Evolution. Whether they started meddling with scientific issues to become another Epica, or because Tuomas reached the peak of his creativity in Imaginaerum and the movie and he wanted something new; the question is open.

The album opens with one of its best tracks in my opinion, Shudder Before The Beautiful. it is powerful, symphonic, and reminds of the era when Tarja Turunen was the vocalist of Nightwish, especially in the album Once.

The next track, Weak Fantasy, is the typical song which you would expect to get when you have Floor Jansen as a vocalist, though it has some symphonic elements.

Elan, in my opinion, is the weakest track in this album. It sounds like an awkward mix between Evanescence/Delain and Eluveitie, and being a major folk metal fan, the only thing that is good about it is its folk-y/Celtic sound in my opinion. It is a single after all, so what to expect?  Yours Is An Empty Hope is almost the same type as Weak Fantasy; the difference is that it sounds like a song from Dark Passion Play or Imaginaerum sung by Floor Jansen instead of the other ex-vocalist Anette Olzon

Our Decades In The Sun is a ballad, it never harms to have one or two ballads in a symphonic metal album to change the mood a bit. My Walden (named after a book by Henry David Thoreau) is special with its distinctive Celtic sound, and shows, like some tracks on Imaginaerum, what Troy Donockley has really added to Nightwish.

The title track is another symphonic song, and Edema-Ruh is “slower” than the rest (except the ballad) but still it’s not bad. After it comes Alpenglow, another one of my favorites; it starts with the most beautiful intro on the whole album, and I really like Floor’s vocals in it!

The Eyes of Sharbat Gula is an instrumental prelude to the last track, The Greatest Show on Earth; aka The “Richest” Song on The Album! It contains everything; growls, clean vocals, and even Floor’s operatic abilities are clear! However, there are two things which the longest song in the history of Nightwish could be better without. First, the animal sounds. Okay, we got it Nightwish, the theme is evolution, no need for jungle sounds to ruin the most beautiful song on the album. Second, Richard Dawkins. Though he did not say in this song anything anti-religious as I was worried, still… call me paranoid, but the fact that Nightwish featured him on the album could mean that they approve of everything which he had said/done, including the anti-religious prejudice and this is disappointing. Plus, the song could be way shorter without the jungle noise and Mr. Dawkins recitals. They are repeating the Song of Myself issue of producing an “long, epic song” where almost half of it is poem recitals not singing.

Not a bad album overall, but Nightwish can do much better. 5.5/10.