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ISSUE #116
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Features

ArrowLost in Translation
McCain's Iraq perception gap explained

Allan Uthman

ArrowThe BEAST Totally Irresponsible Guide to Campus Massacres
If it makes you laugh, you're a bad person!

ArrowParenti Guidance
Our interview with Michael Parenti

Josh Bunting

ArrowTrail of Tiers
Disgrace for the WHite House!

Matt Taibbi

ArrowA Graphic Guide to Democratic Tiers
See how your candidate ranks!

ArrowAnd God Cursed us with Boredom
Diary of an internet-addicted infidel

Ian Murphy

ArrowNotorious C.H.O.
The creative aftermath of the VA Tech massacre

Eric Bryant

ArrowWhy is Sam Harris a Best-Selling Atheist?
A. Monkey

ArrowYe Neocolonialists
Dems poised to pillage Iraq

Matt Taibbi

ArrowBattle of the Network Stars
Are elections bad for democracy?
Allan Uthman

ArrowGuten Tag, Bitches!
A brief message from the father of psychoanalysis
Sigmund Freud

Departments

ArrowThe Beast Page 3
Retarded Presidential Candidates

ArrowKino Kwikees: Movie Trailer Reviews
Spiderman 3, Lucky You, 28 Weeks Later, The Flock, Georgia Rule, Delta Farce, Shrek the 3rd, The Ex

ArrowBEAST-O-Scopes
Your completely accurate horoscope

Arrow[sic] - Letters
Intolerance intolerance, Electophobia, Islamormon, Rush the Magic Honkie

 

And God Cursed us with Boredom
The diary of an Internet-addicted infidel

by Ian Murphy

Wednesday: Internet down! Panic ripped through me. Left with no choice, I had to bravely stand up and do something. After deciding on and executing a brief nap, I rummaged through an old chest I keep filled with religious texts and classic pornography. I like to think they have some pretty wild times in there when I’m not looking. The milky white pages of the Bahgavad Gita intermingling with the supple spine of the leather bound Buddhist Kyoden, Traci Lords riding the Tibetan Book of the Dead like a jackrabbit in heat, John Holmes doing lines off the Virgin Mary’s pristine ass through a rolled up Dead Sea Scroll. Of course, I have no proof of any of this, but I have faith, and that’s all that you need, apparently. Partially hidden under a stack of vintage Hustlers, my never-opened, non-divine English translation of the Koran was calling to me. It seemed to be saying “Mmmmph! Mmmmph! Get this bitch’s ass off my face!” Allah’s will be done. I began reading. Everything was going great, until I reached the second paragraph:

As for the unbelievers, it is the same whether or not you forewarn them; they will not have faith. God has set a seal upon their hearts and ears; their sight is dimmed and grievous punishment awaits them.

So basically, I don’t believe in Allah, because Allah won’t let me? For an omniscient being to purposefully obscure people’s faith and then promise hell to those who don’t believe—it just strikes me as counterproductive. I couldn’t in good conscience read any further without first consulting a local Imam. Without my virtual lifeline or even a phone book, I knew there’d be one mosque local citizens could point me to: “The Home of the Lackawanna 6 Terror Cell!” The folks there don’t much care for when you call it that, I would later find.

Heading south in my car, I stopped at the first building I saw with that squiggly writing the Muslims are so fond of. Damn! It was closed. Walked into the diner next door to use the can and get some directions. Rooster’s would have been a great location for an eatery, if the abandoned factories and coke ovens littering the desolate post-industrial wasteland still brought a massive lunch crowd. The proprietor’s face lit up at the sight of a potential customer. He seemed less excited when I exited the bathroom. “So, um where’s the mosque?” “Next door.” he said. “Is that, you know, the, um, notorious one?” I asked, giving him a sly terrorist wink. His eyes shot to my backpack with suspicion. He and the dishwasher collectively recalled the route. “Why do you want to know?” he asked. I explained I was bored and had whitespace to fill. “You should write about Roosters!” he said hopefully, pointing to a wooden sign hanging over the lunch counter that read, “It’s Roosterific!”

The Masjid Alhuda Guidance Mosque, too, was empty and locked. Guidance denied; boredom prevailed.

Thursday: “Google.com cannot be found.” Went back to Masjid Alhuda. A praying man sprung up from the carpet to meet me at the door. There was but he and another, the Imam wasn’t in. Spent rest of day drawing caricatures of Mohammed quietly in my room. Fell asleep demanding Allah remove the seals and show himself.

Friday: Day three without access to the web; my boredom was at new heights. Signs of life lifted my mood, however, as I parked in the same spot I did the two previous evenings. I opened the glass doors and small brown children and the smell of cheap cologne enveloped me. The kids took immediately to playing hockey in the parking lot. After retreating to the curb, I kept my eye out for the grayest, beardliest guy in the bunch. He would no doubt be in charge. I pretended to take notes while all the men filtered out, each in turn giving me the once over. Back inside the vestibule, I was met by a young Yemeni named Rathwan who informed there was no Imam. We talked a little about terrorism, but neither of us was really into it. A spindle-legged old man with a cane gummed “terrorist center!” I wasn’t sure why he said it. Rathwan was just as reluctant to discuss theology as terrorism and sent me in the direction of local Koran scholar Ibrahim Memon.

Back on the road, burning refined Middle Eastern oil and failing to decipher my own chicken scratch, I was lost. An enormous white complex caught my attention, because of its sheer size. The building swallowed the whole block with its heavily fortified brick walls and barbed wire. Curious, I swung around the block for an inspection. As fate would have it, it too was a mosque, just not the one I was looking for. It turns out the place is an old detention center. I took off my shoes and made my way through the cavernous labyrinth of dim hallways. The air was thick with the same cologne I’d encountered at the Lackawanna mosque. I was hoping it would cover the odor rising from my damp socks. After interrupting the prayers of about a hundred guys with my dumb smile, I was, appropriately enough, told to drive east to find Ibrahim.

I pass “Muhammad’s Mosque” on the way. No time! Must… get… seal… lifted… from… heart…

I finally arrived at Masjid-e-Zakariya. The nearly empty lot was discouraging, but a monkey-faced man with thin white hair and a dress loitered in front of the main entrance. The once-Polish neighborhood was now the stomping grounds for Middle Eastern immigrants. The mosque itself is a former Catholic church; the Islamic meme had moved into the religious shell like a hermit crab. A suspiciously patriotic fire wrecked the place in October of 2001, I would later learn. After a minute or so, the doors were opened for evening prayers and the calls of “Allahuwooowowowoo…” commenced. I inquired about Ibrahim while I removed my shoes and was told to sit tight. After some deliberation in a language I couldn’t understand, it was determined a man name Fazal would keep me company while I sat on the floor. Fazal, a Pakistani-born banker, was the most Western-dressed man present. He left for a moment to go wash his feet. Sitting alone, men walked past me, saying something about salami. I nodded. “Yes, salami,” I thought.

Fazal went to the prayer room to do some leisurely calisthenics and returned after a few minutes to tell me Ibrahim wasn’t there. While he was gone I noticed several stray cologne bottles nestled on a ledge. Fazal made some calls but the Koran scholar I’d been searching out couldn’t be located. Fortunately, when prayers ended I was greeted by a talking beard named Asim, pronounced something like “awesome,” which was his high school nickname. Sitting cross-legged on the carpet, we had a lengthy conversation about Islam. He was very pleasant and exuded a penetrating calm. “As an unbeliever, how am I ever to become a believer if Allah has placed this seal over my heart?” I asked, pointing to my Koran. “If he’s this all powerful being, it seems like he’s holding all the cards. If he wants me to believe, isn’t it Allah’s responsibility to remove the seal?”

“Just seems like kind of a jerk thing to do,” I said. Asim distilled the problem over the course of the next half hour into two words: “fear” and “submission.” I must first fear Allah, then submit to his will, to have the seals lifted. I again pointed to the Koran verse in question and asked him how I could ever believe if I submitted to Allah’s will of making me an unbeliever. Asim blamed the Islamic catch-22 on the translation I was quoting, and stressed the importance of footnotes and historical context. He repeatedly brought up the aforementioned cornerstones of Islam, fear and submission. He was scared of eternal punishment, for deviating from a submissive relationship with God. He wanted to go to heaven. “For the chicks?” I asked. A subtle nod followed. “Eternity’s a long time and some people think eventually you’ll get bored,” he mused, “but what you have to remember is that boredom is a creation of Allah; in heaven he’ll take all the boredom away.”

Great. All I needed to do was live an entire life of devout submission and fear, and after that I’d never be bored again. That seems worth it. Either that or get a more reliable Internet provider.

 

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