On the Diplodocus

Pagan Dinosaurs of the Cretaceous Period

The diplodocus has long been known as the most religious of all the dinosaur groups. While it was long known as an atheist, its scientific name means “to see,” and is derived from a Greek word meaning “to discern,” a reference to the way the fossilised bones in its skull appear to pick up light from a nearby star as it glides across the sky. It’s even speculated that this ability helped it survive the extinction event that wiped out many dinosaurs and ultimately ushered in the modern era of the dinosaur world. There are some, however, who argue that Diplodocus was an especially devout member of the religious group as it was the only dinosaur to be a complete member of the group from birth, rather than being merely a juvenile that was left to its own devices. This would explain why the animal had so many other “religious” characteristics, including the unique habit of sitting on a rock and holding its tongue out, which was also believed to be the means by which it communed with its divine creator, the Great Architect of the Universe.

The fierce atheism of the triceratops is not surprising, as the species’ thick skull and neck are covered with thick, bony plates. Some experts have speculated that the thick plate might have allowed the triceratops to hold its breath during deep dives, but this remains unproven. Another theory, based on a study by Dr. Jonathan Caulkins, suggests that the thick plates may have helped the animal with its ability to move its heavy body around by stretching the neck, which was so large that it could extend up to 30 feet during the breeding season. This could have allowed the triceratops to reach heights of up to 35 feet in flight.

Among other flying dinosaurs are the plesiosaur, the pterodactyl, the saber-tooth cat and, surprisingly, the ornithomimid, which was discovered in North America by a team of researchers led by paleontologist Michael S. Currie. Religious motivations, as one would expect, are not confined to this group either. In fact, the oldest of these ancient flying reptiles are known to have been some 300 million years older than the last dinosaur to be discovered.

The Vatican has been the site of considerable controversy over the age of the world’s first flying reptile, which some claim was an adult tyrannosaurus rex, which would have been about 160 feet long and 10 feet tall, and that is now thought to have been a member of the family of plesiosaurs, of which only one species remains.

The opinions of St Paul concerning ‘Thunder Lizards’ are also cited in the ‘Acts of Peter,’ a work of the ninth century by St. Ignatius, who quotes from the same writings of St. Paul (see below). The first dinosaur-like animal known to exist is known as ‘Pyrghisaurus lindermanensis’ and is described by St. Basil as being about 5 to 10 feet long and 2 feet wide, and weighing 100 to 120 pounds, with the skull being a bit like that of a horse. This species was described by St. Clement of Alexandria in his book ‘On the Genesis of the Creation’, written in the second century, when the first dinosaurs were thought to have lived.

Whatever the case, we can rest assured that religious dinosaurs like these are a thing of the past.

Reflections

One of the most important things a parent can provide to their child is consistency.

I recall an incident from many years ago, back when I was a kid and still living at home. It was a Good Friday, and as good Catholics my brother, mother and I were fasting and abstaining from meat. Doing so makes for a pretty miserable day, but there was one thing that made it bearable, which was having a decent feed of fish and chips when dinner time came around.

So we phoned through and placed an order (nice and early, Good Friday being the peak day for fish and chip consumption nationwide) and Dad went off and picked it up. He bought it home and in the kitchen he and Mum divided it up onto the plates. I grabbed mine, and reached for the tomato sauce, only to be prevented by mum who in a very serious and pious voice declared that fancy condiments were forbidden on the day of Christ’s crucifixion, and that the only salt (representing the world’s tears) and vinegar (like that offered to Jesus on a sponge and hyssop stick) would be permitted.

So I doused my food with salt and vinegar and went off to watch TV.

A year or so later Easter again rolled around, and again we fasted and abstained until dinner time when Dad went off to pick up the fish and chips. Once again it was divided into portions and as I waited to grab the suitability pious condiments of salt and vinegar I was somewhat shocked to see Mum smear tartar sauce all over her fish, then reach for the tomato sauce bottle. In puzzlement I suggested that we should only have salt and vinegar on Good Friday, and Mum looked at me like I was insane.

It was one of very few occasions when I lost a bit of respect for her.

My brother and I had quite a strict Catholic upbringing. I didn’t actually realise this for many years, not until my brother mentioned it – ruefully – at a party. My imediate response was to laugh and declare “as if!”, but on thinking about it I realised – to my surprise – that he was right. We were sent to Catholic school. We attended church every Sunday morning and all through Easter. We were both enrolled as altar servers and inducted into the Guild of St Stephen. We received all the Sacraments when they came around. We said prayers every night, and instead of bedtime stories we got read the Bible from end to end. It would be hard to imagine a more Catholic upbringing without involving a drunken Irishman whipping us with a belt for the Sin of Disobedience.

Skipping church was, of course, a big deal. The only excuse was serious illness. I recall one Sunday towards the end of my schooling when I had a big exam coming up and I declared that I couldn’t go to church because I had to study. It took a good twenty minutes of arguing before Mum backed down, and even then she was in a foul mood all day and had Dad keep checking on me to make sure I was actually studying rather than goofing off.

In spite of occasional incidents like the former, my upbringing never really rankled with me. Call it autistic, but I accepted this state of being as the only possible state of being. I was born already having drunk the Kool-Aid. My childhood was one of earnest piety, and religious conviction followed me well into my teens – even as I modified my beliefs to deal with irreligious friends and raging hormones. I tend to think of myself as a rational being, and remember myself as a rational teenager, but I can also recall thoughts that seem quiet strange and alien to me now. Worrying about the immortal soul of a girl I had a crush on who was known to be sexually active, or being both shocked and saddened when my friend Ryan stopped going up to Communion at school masses.

Religiosity also affected my social life, or lack thereof. For much of my teens I tried to avoid romantic entanglements on the basis that they could only lead to temptations that couldn’t be fulfilled, sex before marriage being a dreadful sin and something I would never do. The lack of dating and social experience resulting from this philosophy turned it into something of a self fulfilling prophecy – by the time I revised my views it was too late to be the gawkish, shy, inexperienced guy, a problem that still has an effect on my romantic endeavors to this day.

My brother, I think, had it worse however. Where I was happy to spend much of my teen years as some kind of contemplative monk, he rankled under the rules and restrictions.He was social and outgoing, having his behaviour tested and scrutinised through a religious lens must have been excuciating. On top of this, coming to terms with the fact that you’re gay is not easy for any teenager, let alone one raised in a Catholic household and attending a Catholic school. Discussion of feelings and emotions is just not done in our family so I don’t know the full scope of his suffering, but I knew at the time that he had some kind of problems, and looking back I see that they must have been awful. I don’t think that I was much help either, floating along in my self assured little cloud. The depression and anxiety that I’ve been bedeviled with since my early twenties really makes me despise some of the ignorant attitudes towards mental suffering that I had – and expressed – as a teenager.

So, here we are at another Easter. I no longer consider myself a Catholic, I’m more of a sort of agnostic-pantheist who believes in a Deity but will happily admit that no hard evidence for such a Deity exists, and therefore I could very easily be completely deluded. I’ll more than likely attend church at some point this weekend, if only to hold up the traditions and to keep Mum happy. Then I’ll eat my chocolate and wish good to all those who wish good unto others.

Happy Easter!

Faith, Cheese and Anime

The old black dog is biting a bit hard at the moment, hence the general lack of updates. But I thought I’d jump in and post this remarkable chart…

The Evolutionary Chart of Religion
The Evolutionary Chart of Religion

Click to enlarge and all.

You obviously can’t sum up the entire scope of human spirituality in one simple diagram, but it’s still a fascinating attempt.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, here’s a few things I promised Paula I’d link…

* Where’d the Cheese Go?
* Smoke Week Every Day

I’m so sorry…

Later: Oh! I also promised to link these stories from Hyperbole and a Half. No need to apologise for these, they’re great! πŸ™‚

* Dogs don’t understand basic concepts like moving
* Wild Animal (The Simple Dog goes for a Joy Ride)

Tlot Tlot Tlot Tlot Tlot Tlot Tlot Tlot Tlot (Should I go on?)

A musical diversion

I was thinking the other day about Tlot Tlot.

Tlot Tlot were a Perth band from (I think) the 1990s. I don’t know that much about them to be honest, in fact I only know one of their songs. But that one song is a doozy.

Imagine you put the members of They Might be Giants and Barnes and Barnes in a room with a honky-tonk piano, a mixing desk and several sound effect CDs. Then got them slightly drunk. They might come up with something like that one song – a work titled Box of Gods.

Box of Gods is hard to pin down. It seems to be some kind of attack on either religion, or the commercialisation of religion (or maybe both). It’s stuffed full of wacky sound effects, distorted vocals and lyrics so nonsensical that it’s hard to tell if you’re hearing them right. But it’s energetic, crazy and catchy as hell.

Now, your odds of finding a copy of it (or the album it’s off Pistolbuttsatwinkle’atwinkle) are probably pretty low, but because I’m a generous guy I thought I’d post the lyrics (insofar as I can make them out). This will also have the effect of increasing Tlot-Tlot’s web presence by at least 10%, which has to be a good thing πŸ™‚

So here we go…

Box of Gods – Tlot Tlot

(Playing tennis, in the Herald…)

(Bop! Bop! Bop!)

You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down,

Now wouldn’t it be funny, if you could purchase,
Religion on a stick?
And wouldn’t it be funny, if you could buy,
A god to get you by?

(Playing tennis, in the Herald Sun)

You bought me a box of gods (Bop! Bop!),
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods (Bop! Bop!),
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down,

Now wouldn’t it be funny, if you could purchase,
A god soap on a rope?
Wouldn’t it be funny, watching your father,
Break down into a lather?
And wouldn’t it be useless, to buy a used car,
From a man with an honest face?
And wouldn’t it be horrible, to scrub the bathroom floor,
With holy water purchased by the case?

(Just make sure, you wash behind your ears!)

(Bop! Bop!)
(Bop! Bop!)

Now wouldn’t it be funny, if you could purchase,
A costume just like this?
And wouldn’t you be better off, if you weren’t,
All thumbs and two left feet?

(Pin yourself, on the cross, in the Herald Sun)

You bought me a box of gods (Bop! Bop!),
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods (Bop! Bop!),
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down,

You bought me a box of gods (Bop! Bop!),
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods (Bop! Bop!),
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I –

You bought me a box of gods (Bop! Bop!),
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods (Bop! Bop!),
I brought you down, I brought you down,
You bought me a box of gods,
I brought you down,

(Bop! Bop!)

That’s your lot for the day! πŸ˜€