Three Articles to Check Out

The Walking Postman

I came across three interesting articles this last week. I thought I’d pass them along.

Somebody Went Postal on Him

Over at the WFMU blog is “The Ballad Of The Walking Postman”. It’s a tale from the Civil Rights Era. Here’s what WFMU says about it:

Today’s musical selection tells the story of Bill Moore, a white civil rights protester from Baltimore who was murdered in rural Alabama in April 1963 while on a one man Freedom Walk. He was killed on the way from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi where he planned to hand deliver to governor Ross Barnett a letter imploring him to accept racial equality and integration.

On his walk, Moore promoted his agenda by wearing sandwich board type signs reading “Equal Rights For All – Mississippi Or Bust” and “End Segregation In America – Eat At Joe’s Both Black & White.”

That alone would have been provocative enough to warrant concern for his safety. But Moore, a committed atheist, also pushed a cart displaying a “wanted” poster adorned with a sketch of Jesus that was captioned “Jesus Christ – Wanted for sedition, criminal anarchy, vagrancy, and conspiring to overthrow the established government.”

Moore had been warned of the danger of undertaking the march by himself while carrying such signs through small towns across the deep South, but he was undeterred. On the third day of his journey, his dead body was found along the side of the road about an hour northeast of Birmingham. He’d been shot twice in the head. An arrest was made, but the grand jury neglected to issue an indictment so no one was ever convicted.

If you go over to the WFMU website, you can download an MP3 of the mediocre memorial song, “The Ballad Of The Walking Postman”.

Christianity as Social Disease

Jeff Eyges alerted me to this article: “Christianity’s early days debated by scientists”. He wanted me to see how retarded some of the commenters are. That’s sort of a given on the internet. I actually found the article itself of more interest, at least a couple of parts of it.

There was a very interesting sentence in the article. Actually, it’s the first half of the sentence that is interesting:

Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, of course, after the death of Jesus around 33 AD, moving from a persecuted minority in the time of the Roman emperor Nero in 64 AD…

The remainder of that sentence is then completely botched in the original article. The rest of the sentence should be:

…to perceived persecuted minority today.

The article also discusses several possible models for how Christianity spread. The one I like is described this way:

The “social” model, where every exposure to an early Christian is seen as possibly leading to a pagan converting, much like the chances of catching a cold.

Don’t yell at me. I’m not the one comparing Christianity to a disease.

Fiction that is Stranger than Fiction

I came across a fascinating website: The Continent of Lost Anime that Time Forgot. It tells us about some of the strangest Japanese pop-culture you’ve never seen.

There is the bizarre journey inside the abnormal Japanese body, produced by the Japanese Rice Growers’ Council.

Normal Japanese. Abnormal humans.

There is an especially disastrous manga version of Quincy, M.E. (not to be confused with the especially disastrous Windows ME).

Quincy manga

There is a simplistic rip-off of Space Battleship Yamato. Not long after the show’s premature cancellation, the producer killed himself in shame. Why couldn’t he have done that before creating this embarrassment?

Turd Blazers

Next we have a truly bizarre creation that exploits the unhealthy Japanese fixation on underage girls. This show is actually called (loosely translated): We Swear to God, She’s 19 Years Old: Fetishtastic

More like 14 or 15

Finally, we have the religious hired-guns of Hikyou-Kisei Studios. Are you a religion? Do you have money? Do you want to have a cartoon made?

The first example of what they produced was… well, let’s let the website describe it:

[I]t features the adventures of two children, Cash and Penny, who travel around the world accompanied by the disembodied head of preacher Robert Tilton and learn about the importance of giving money (to Robert Tilton)…

The more you give, the more you make!

If you don’t like that religion, there is always Satanism:

[T]wo children named Damien and Rosemary learn about Satanism by going backward and forward in time with their talking pet goat, Anton.

Wait a minute. A story about The Pet Goat? Stay away. That never ends well.

Hail Satan, Prince of Feta!

If that doesn’t work for you, whip out your E-meters! We’re going to explore Scientology!

[T]wo school children, Tom and Nicole, who traveled backward and forward in time accompanied by Elron, a clam who hoped one day to become “clear” and thus a true human being instead of a shellfish.

It's a mental illness. Too bad they don't believe in psychiatry.

I alerted ParrotLover to The Continent of Lost Anime that Time Forgot. I was curious how he’d react, since he’s a connoisseur of better anime. I hope he doesn’t mind my reprinting his comments:

Holy crap! I know Japan is weird (by our standards) and that’s part of the reason I am absolutely in love with their culture. The first two in that list [rice & fetish] totally didn’t surprise me. Even the author seemed bothered by the fetish robot and the boy screaming, but to me it’s just a Japan anime company beating the crazy mental illness fetishes on the chans by about 10 years and portraying them through the eyes of a very girl-shy Japanese teenage boy (which is a pretty common character in anime). Crushing? Vore? In anime in the 90s? Thank you, Japan, for not disappointing.

But even knowing that, I was absolutely perplexed by the religious anime. What. The. Fuck?! I could say “awesome” but that would not in any way describe level at which my jaw was on the floor at pure stunning amazement at the weirdness that can and does come out of Japan on a regular basis. Japan found a new way to amaze me in its weirdness—I thought I had seen it all. And for that, I bow to them.

I hope it’s real and not made up. Because if it’s made up, I will be disappointed.

I’m pretty sure it’s real. Nobody could make this stuff up. Except the Japanese.

8 Responses to “Three Articles to Check Out”

  1. Parrotlover77 Says:

    I don’t mind the reprint at all! When it comes to new and bizarre moments in human culture, Japan never ever disappoints. I love the Japanese.

  2. Helena Says:

    That rise of Christianity article seems to have been written by scholars completely unacquainted with Patristics or the history of the early church (I’ve certainly never heard of them).

    The problem is not insoluble.

    The Church concerned itself with setting up an alternative social network that helped the poor and powerless in the Roman world, something the state was not overly concerned with. In the mid third century, the state nearly collapsed, and the the church took over many of its duties: for example offering ecclesiastical courts that were markedly less corrupt than the official courts, providing a dole to the poorest of the poor, etc. By the time the state recovered and reestablished itself in the 290s, the Church was approaching the state in power and about 10% of the populace was Christian. From the point of the view of the emperors, who were jealous of their authority, the natural thing was to wipe the Church out of existence, and this is what they tired. However this proved to be too bloody for many, and so a second option was found, incorporating the Church into the state. This naturally entailed conversion of the state to Christianity, but even with the co-ercive power of the state, the conversion of the population of the Empire to Christianity was slow. It probably did not reach 90% until 500.

  3. Jeff Eyges Says:

    The Japanese produce some very weird and perverse stuff. I sometimes have trouble believing these are the people who produced netsuke and those exquisite lacquer boxes.

    On the one hand – Zen calligraphy. On the other – underage girls in maid uniforms. Go figure.

  4. Syldoran Says:

    Oh, Japan. All your weird stuff gets mainstream so that the rest of us who enjoy your more legitimate works get cast out of social circles due to misunderstandings and willful ignorance.

  5. Noir the Sable Says:

    …er.

    Sorry, I just had to comment. Was the whole anime thing supposed to be a Poe’s Law taken to Japanese culture? ‘Cause as someone who is studying Japanese history, I can say that these are rather blatantly FAKE.

    …okay, well, not so blatantly for the untrained eye, but upon closer inspection and the proper prior information, its authenticity pretty much sinks faster than an argument for Noah’s Ark. Let’s look at the first two, shall we?

    1. Pain in The Stomach — Really, come now. Look at the art. Do you really think it looks like something made in 1966? Furthermore, the question arises: why India? Relations between Japan and India have been more than cordial ever since the introduction of Buddhism, and anyways, the Japanese rice trade internationally has been nearly nonexistant since WWII, due to self-efficiency turned excessive surplus. While it was true that the consumption per capita of rice drastically sank during that time period, the so-called “Japanese Rice Growers’ Council,” if it ever existed, would have more likely focused on getting sick from eating imported Western bread and red meat instead of imported rice.

    2. I Swear to God It’s Fake — Note the image probably representing the “Cute Mad” episode. Note how blocky and how spartan the scenery looks. Nothing, however, hit me like a brick worse than the grammar of the title. “Kanojo wa 19 nen!” …really? The more proper way to say this is “Kanojo wa 19 sai desu!” or “Kanojo wa 19 sai da!”. A missing copula, as well as mixing up the phrases used to differentiate age and number of calendar years is a very novice mistake. I’m going to leave the idea that it actually got funding for 52 episodes of anime, which mind you is a full YEAR’s worth of episodes, and NOT gotten any sort of online reference. Something THIS crazy would have gotten at the very least some sort of mention in Japanese online memetics (Just look at how popular the epically bad anime “Musashi GUN-DO” got).

    Considering I’ve got work I need to do, I’ll leave the other three for now. Honestly, though, it is my strongest opinion that this site is meant as parody, not actuality. I really hate to be a wet blanket, but considering I’m reading THIS blog in my spare time, rather than AIG or some other creationist material, the sentiment is rather obvious.

  6. Ron Britton Says:

    Maybe you’re right. I know just enough about this stuff to be taken in by it. I’ve seen weird American stuff skew from the norm by a large amount, so it’s totally plausible that the weird Japanese stuff would be equally batty.

    People who have been to Japan have told me that Japanese consider themselves physically different from everybody who is non-native. That’s why the rice one seems the most plausible of the bunch.

    The Japanese went bonkers for Columbo in the 1970s, so the Quincy manga is equally plausible. It’s just fanfiction, really. You can find weirder stuff than that on the internet.

    The Scientology/Satanism/Tilton bit is the least believable of the bunch—although I have seen a few American fundie cartoons that were pretty weird.

    I’m still inclined to believe they’re real, but I can always be persuaded with enough data.

  7. Brian Says:

    I’ve always been fascinated by Japan, and especially by its anime. I can even credit one series in particular, Neon Genesis Evangelion, with taking Judeo-Christian themes and making it compelling, even gripping, to watch. Granted, like Christianity, the whole thing ultimately makes no damned sense at all, but its still cool to watch, nonetheless. As for the Space Battleship Yamato/Starblazers rip-off, I wouldn’t be too surprised by it. Yamato is still highly regarded as one of the best anime series of all time, so knock-offs are probably inevitable.

  8. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Ahh, Evangelion! BONES rocks my world. Eureka Seven is still, imho, an absolute masterpiece!

    Anyway, I’ve read that even to the Japanese, Evangelion was confusing, so after the translation and cultural differences, it’s not suprising it made no sense to us in the west, despite being extra cool.

    There are plenty of reasons those anime might be Japanopoe. However, after learning about Mai-Chan’s Daily Life, the subject of the content is the one thing I won’t believe that disproves any of it. (TVTropes gives you a nice sanitized version of the horrors of that manga. Google if you have a morbid fascination for more.)