Tag Archives: the Usual Suspects

Taught by the past

There will always be one TV channel that remains in my heart. It does not matter how they go, what series they have and whether they stop existing. They had one thing right, the one thing above it all was their slogan ‘the story is everything‘, it still reverberates in my heart, and for years (when I had cable) they proved that they understood their own premise. The story was indeed everything and they stood by it. It should be the cornerstone in entertainment, but it is not (for some). Some have a setting that is nowhere near there. It does not matter how they go that journey, how they pass the time in their product, they forgot that one truth that makes all the difference.

This takes us to Eidos. I had a good connection there for the longest time, so when I got an early copy in the summer of 1996 to take a look at some game called Tomb Raider I had no idea what I was in for. I loved it, apart from the part that the hero was a woman, the game was new, it was different and we all wanted more, that would be delivered a little over a year alter and for the most we were all hooked, not merely because of Lara, little Lara, but the setting from the first to the second became a much larger leap. Even as the story for both was not the greatest, the levels, the design and the challenges made up for that. Over time we saw that the story become much more important and as we went through the stages, on PlayStation, PC, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One the story evolved and it became to some degree a real story. In all this there was an evolution (to some degree). Now we are confronted with ‘Tomb Raider – makes Lara Croft look boring‘. The Guardian gives us (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2018/sep/10/shadow-of-the-tomb-raider-review-lara-croft) “This game revels in its own beauty, but the plot collapses under the slightest scrutiny“, now first the important part. I did not play it myself, but I saw a large amount of videos. First the bad part, a few games back. When the definitive version on PS4 was launched, I became very upset. Not only was the game shallow, too easy (on hard) and way too small. It became the first game I ever returned to the shop. I had finished the game in hard mode under 10 hours. It was perhaps one of the most upsetting acts I ever did, mainly because my gaming experience with Lara Croft over 4 systems had been so good. When we look deeper into that game we see something that was perfectly placed on an island, the setting could have propelled in many direction and the graphics were amazing, even now I look back (in my mind) to that level when you arrive near the ocean and you see that large tugboat in the sea, I need to acknowledge that graphically it was an amazing feat, so when we see the setting where we could have had at least 20 hours of additional play, but the makers overlooked or ignored that opportunity. In a gaming sidestep, I realised the same with Assassins Creed Rogue, the remastered edition. What could have been nice story to side missions ended up being merely the setting of running to a marker and press the dig button or simply violently resolve it. All opportunities missed (in that case) by Ubisoft. So back to Lara, after that disappointing episode, I decided to give the second game a miss, something I partially regret now, because the third game (for hat I saw was a pretty amazing result). The graphics were still really good, yet the story is, as I saw it better and they took effort with the stealth part. A much better game overall (comparing to the first relaunched PS4 game). I liked Lucy O’Brien’s review in IGN giving us the parts that count (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdEfROL2Wx8). If there is one part that I personally do not like is the use of ‘scripted moments‘. I get it that it essentially needs to be there (especially in the introduction), but in the end, the best game does not require scripted events, or requires them to be minimised to the biggest possible degree. Even as the stories are better, we need to address the Guardian verdict. We see the first quote “Shadow of the Tomb Raider nails the former, with sumptuous South American locations to climb, dive and rappel around, ranging from ancient Inca cities and missionary crypts to modern-day Peruvian jungles and towns. But it does Lara a disservice, turning her into a deadly mud-camouflaged jungle warrior without much interesting to say, pushed along by a plot that’s more concerned with prophecies and supernatural artefacts than with its main character“, so was that not always the case? I personally like the entire stealth upgrade, but is that just me? It might be, I was merely in that setting of trying to figure parts out. Yet I saw too many references towards Uncharted and Far Cry 5, which makes sense and it is not a bad thing, yet when we look back at what was and what should be, going through the other titles is not what I hoped for. Still Tomb Raider for all I saw remains Tomb Raider, so why did the Guardian give me that jump?

There were two parts in that. The first was: “Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s series of amazing places is held together by a plot that collapses under the slightest scrutiny. The narrative is an incoherent mess that goes well beyond the usual action movie/video game suspension of disbelief” and “when Lara shows up in an undisturbed native settlement filled with people who have somehow avoided the outside world for hundreds of years, is she instantly welcomed into their midst and put to work resolving their disputes? How does she communicate fluently with them? At first, Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s narrative inconsistencies are ignorable, but with every new convenient riddle or magical artefact, pointless revelation or paper-thin character, my tolerance for nonsense wore thinner“. Now, I need to tell you that I do not always agree with the assessment of the reviewer Keza MacDonald, yet that level of disagreement is more about our preference for gaming. Keza is a good reviewer, hence her view matters to me, and I have absolutely no issue accepting her view on the Tomb Raider game. I like her two issues as I saw a similar setting as an optional solution towards Watch Dogs 3. Just like I designed what might optionally become Elder Scrolls VII (6 is being made now). My setting for my version of a new Elder scrolls would have been three times the size of Skyrim with optional story lines worth 150-200 hours of gameplay. In addition, if possible I could pull it off with Watch Dogs 3 as well. This is where the FX part comes in, the story is indeed everything!

So if I can add 100% to the first PS4 Tomb Raider, which merely took me an hour or so to come up with, why can some designers not do a much better job? In case of the new Tomb Raider, we see the optional shortage, but we also see that all the Far Cry games (3 and later) gave us similar parts and so did Far Cry Primal, and the less said on the story failings of Assassins Creed (except for Origin and optionally Odyssee) the better.

The setting is extremely important, as the current Shadow of the Tomb Raider could have been 90% instead of the 81% that Metacritic gives it now, and if we translate that to the three stars Keza rating, it would translate to an optional 70% at best. This gets us back to the story is everything, when we see that this translates to an optional 15%-25% more, ignoring that element is just too weird. It is to some extent the one element that Games and movies have in common. So if we translate that to the now, we see that the right story makes the larger impact. Merely see Dev Patel in Hotel Mumbai, rated by IMDB at 93% to see how the right story makes for the impact. This translates to games as well, the better the story, the better the game. It is visible on nearly every level. Yet, that is not the only part in Tomb Raider and We see the goods on the negative side of the game as Keza gives it to us with: “Salvaged outfits for Lara offer meaningless bonuses (“gain more experience for assault kills”), crafting materials are so plentiful that they are not an exciting reward, and new skills or weapons are seldom used. Oddly, items such as lockpicks that open up new treasure-hunting possibilities are sold by merchants, not earned through exploration. It is very weird that so much of this optional content is incorporated so badly“, as well as “The places Lara visits and the things that she does, especially when she doesn’t have a gun in her hands, are beautiful and entertaining. But it lacks a coherent plot or creative vision to hold it all together, and the opportunity to make an interesting character out of Lara Croft is squandered“, that does grasp the heart in a not so good way and it matters a parts could have been dealt with in a better story setting and parts would never have been better. That negative part is exactly the impact that Ubisoft missed with AC Rogue. There we run for Viking swords, crosses on the map, opening bars with thugs, merely points to run to, yet the ‘rescuing’ of a bar from thugs could have been the start of a side quest line and in all this, much more could have been reached, when one leads to the other, instead of running over the island, from chest to chest, glitch to glitch and sometimes doing a Prince of Persia for some pirate shanty, meaningless actions that could have been a dimension all by itself in the game, all options lost and even as both franchises have amazing graphics, we see that this alone does not hold a game. I wonder how many developers are revisiting the current setting of their game that is in development, because if they are not then it does not matter to anyone how many games are being released between now and December 2019. If they do not up the ante for their own game, they will merely release something that is good, not great and it sits on the shelf until the game retail store has a large sale and the game is up for grabs at 50% or less, or people merely wait for one of the producers to add it to the ‘for free’ subscription monthly download bonus, what a waste! Merely because the simplest of all lessons was ignored by too many; It all starts with a good story, not with ‘Lara needs to look cool (or different) in the jungle, how can we do that?‘, or ‘Where is the next Assassins Creed story? When have we not yet been?

 

That is the part given to us in complete contrast when we realise that with the end of God of War we were treated to: [CENSORED TEXT REDACTING SPOILERS]. When I saw that unfold on my screen, my jaw dropped on the floor. It was not merely some twist, it was the setting for at least two more games in a way I never saw coming and I do remember my Nordic mythology. It was brilliant, indeed the story was everything and Santa Monica Studio’s treated us to the perfect meal (listening to Bear McCreary was an added desert that is just too surreal).

In the end, I know that I am a goof, I am creative and I can weave a tale like no one in my mind at the speed of the Deep Blue Super Mainframe, but overall, I cannot fathom why the game makers are not better at this, I never got that, because until lately I never thought I was on their level, yet recently I was shown (confirmed by a few sources) that I am on their level and even higher, but I am not a programmer. So when I see the lack of a storyline, I merely get sad, when opportunities are missed I get frustrated and when too much scripted issues show up, I tend to get angry. I do get the fact that some part requires scripted events. A certain boss fight, the introduction to one is the setting that cannot remains unscripted, yet at times it is too scripted deflating the tense moments it had been built to and the first PS4 Lara Croft had that flaw too much (as well as the shortness of the game).

So how can they do it better? Well this is seen in several clips in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and you might have missed them. Consider an optional reality, a reality we missed in the Far Cry, Assassins Creed and other games. You pick them off one at a time, I get that part. What I do not get is that when you are on a patrol and You are in a team, when one falls away their nerves are up (like in the Arkham games), yet in the earlier games, often enough they relax and go to their old ‘relaxed’ setting. In reality, my nerves would be in the stratosphere, so there will be no lapse and even as you can get the drop on others, only the first one is ‘free’, the others need to be close to perfect or all hell breaks loose. That part was never learned correctly, not in one decade of stealth gaming, weird is it not? OK, Far Cry did get that part right (to some degree). And even as the setting evolves over an act, a larger level or a chapter in the storyline, we see that some opponents are harder, yet the overall setting no longer gets to be more complex, which is also weird. It seems to me that only Far Cry 3 got that part better the most other games and here too Lara had her lesson to learn, or better stated her opponents. So even as we see her take out the enemy, in most cases when other vanished nerves did not get that much bothered, a missed opportunity.

Even if this is the optional end of Lara Croft, we see that there was a lot more to be had and it was missed. Will that lesson not be learned? The story is everything, but how to set the story properly in the frame of it all. That part will remain a challenge and solving it, or finding some level of a better solution will aid the game makers as well as the player, a win-win for all. In this, the loss is already there, but not setting the in-game bar higher, we see what looks really well is merely a 70% game, yet with the insight that should have been there, it could have been a 90% game which makes me sad. Yet I do acknowledge is that this game is a good game, everything shows that there is positive growth in several places and in many ways (especially the underwater parts, they were awesome), yet I feel that it is steps short of being a great game, whilst it could have been a great game. It is hard to put my finger on it without playing the game through until the end, but all reviews do support my view, the story could have been better making it overall better, and this game is not the only one that had that ‘flaw’.

So, as we agree that the past is a good tutor we see that partially the past is used to make this game better, that is good, some of the levels and the natural view that these levels seem to give is always good and this game got to be better at it and that matters too. In the end, on everything I faced, I regard this to be a 80%-85% game, whilst I feel that the setting and upgrade of the game would have made it a 90% game at least, and they should have done better than I would have been able to be and that makes me sad, especially as it might be the end of the Tomb Raider games for now. It will not ever be the death of the Franchise; it is in comparison very much a better game than that first relaunched game and several other Lara titles, which is a good thing. In my personal views, after seeing the play parts, seeing the reviews and watching the cut scenes, I get to the end conclusion that this is not the game to buy on day one, especially with Spiderman PS4 available, yet on special, Christmas sales and at discount sales? Yes! At that point it will definitely be my game of choice.

What a difference a stronger story makes.

I wonder if the makers will catch up to that part down the line, because higher ratings turns that, down the track to buy outright and in the end, that is still the name of the game in gaming, and not merely gaming. There is in my view every indication that the entire Chris Pine mess (OK, mess is a perhaps too strong a word), is not entirely about the money (what some sources indicated), I believe that the story is part of that too. Do you think that some starts would have given any ‘eff’ (censored) on money if they had the chance of becoming a main player in The Usual Suspects, or Silence of the Lambs? You have got to be kidding!

Yes, you want some decent remuneration. When you are a lead player in MI-Fallout, costing $178M to make, whilst the return at present is $726,386,554, one would hope that their income is slightly better than $73,559 for their part. If you are an extra, then you need to shut up, when you carry the family name Cruise, Cavill, or Pegg the amount should be larger (I have no idea what they are making, and I personally do not care either). Yet if the story would have been a legendary one, would you care? That is the part that matters in the long run, because over time, we will forget the MI titles, however we will forever remember titles like Ghandi and The Usual Suspects and that can drive a career (especially in the beginning as well). Star Trek showed in the Movie Star Trek Beyond that it did not consider that part too strong (even as I enjoyed watching it, and it had fresh looks), it did fall short of Star Trek Into Darkness and that was a shame. I have no illusions, getting to the Wrath of Khan levels is not to be expected, yet the relaunch in 2009 did pull it off (based on Rotten Tomatoes), so in that it had options and started to fall flat after that, I believe that this is also part of the decision for some actors to feel worried, Star Trek (2009) opened door, yet I personally believe that Beyond started to close doors, even with Idris Elba upping the ante by a decent amount, also in my personal view largely the reason it got an 85% rating and not an 80% rating. So when the actor is the pillar and not the story, we see a much larger flaw in all this and even as I do have idea’s to fix it, they will need a specific person to fix that for them over two movies (as I see it) and get the rating back to 94%, the number that the 2009 movie pulled off. The question is can they afford him and more important, are they willing to stick their necks out? In my personal view they have the option of doubling the 2009 box office revenue twice over and with two movies the overall cost goes down as well making it even more appealing, but in the end, their saviour will not be special effects or merely a good cast, it will be the story, it will be everything. Are people like JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof willing to make that $250M splurge? In the end it remains an actual risk whether that $250M becomes $1.3B (hopefully better), and it the one factor is the one writer who can pull it off. It has never been done in any Sci-Fi ever, making it not merely novel, if it does work, will it be the game changer that brings 1,635% of cost (Jurassic Park), or an Iron Man 2 giving a mere 312%? Yet, what if we consider that it is like Gravity, ‘only’ 716%, yet regarded as the 4# best Science fiction movies of all time, would you still not do it?

How strong is the story in all that? I personally remain with the faith that the story will forever be everything, yet when it is all about the box office and $1 billion versus $600 million, what path would you take? In this games and movies are more alike than not; making it a fascinating setting, but also a very personal, and set on one’s own perspective. It is the ultimate objective versus subjective view and I am not sure what the best path is for either game or movie, making the setting for a movie of gaming score harder, not correct or incorrect, merely harder.

 

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The devil is here, who is he?

We have seen attacks on nearly every religion. There was the satanic verses that attacked Islam, a book I never read mainly I had close to zero knowledge of Islam in those days. There was Apologie (1581), a book by William of Orange who would later create the Netherlands as a nation as well as taking that territory away from the Spanish, showing that the Inquisition as merely a power behind every Catholic throne, controlling kings who became mere puppets in its hands. It was all done by sacrificing ladies who lived a natural life and brand them Witches (as well as a few other niche population groups). Then there was Awful Disclosures (1836). this book was important as the book was proven to be a hoax and Maria Monk was merely a fraud, but in the end this book ended up doing massive damage to the Catholic ’cause’ and even gave additional rise to the Ku Klux Klan later on as well as the American Patriotic Association. Finally there is American Freedom and Catholic Power (1949) which is apparently still in print today. The writer saw the Catholic Church as an anti-democratic force bent on world domination, an alien power in American society determined to keep the masses poor, ignorant, and breeding.

These books are important to the setting, a setting of both corruption and nepotism on a global scale. That evidence was seen quite recently when we were treated on the world stage by the revelations in the Boston globe, which was shown in the movie Spotlight based on the true events of the Boston Globe Spotlight team. When the world is exposed to this, the world gets treated to a setting where thousands of priests on a national scale and a scale that was unfathomable on a global scale. In the search, the 6% rule where they investigate Boston Priests gave them in the end an initial 87 out of the expected 90 and the search started for the victims. The day after the story went to print; we see that the spotlight team gets swamped by phone calls from victims coming forward to tell their stories. This could in the end become the most shocking revelation of the twentieth century.

The movie seems to keep as close to the truth as possible with the setting that one of the members had initially failed as a list of 20 paedophile priests by lawyer Eric MacLeish in 1993, which he never followed up on. Yet at this point, they have done more than merely follow up on this and the setting became a movie that got the academy award for best movie, and best original screenplay. In the end, the audience is treated to ‘Cardinal Law resigned in December 2002 and was eventually promoted to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome before presenting a list of places in the United States and around the world where major scandals involving abuse by priests took place‘ this is what disgustingly might be considered as ‘nepotism at its finest‘.

Is this going somewhere?

Yes, this is the setting that you need to consider when we have two elements. The first is given in the Guardian where we see that in Ireland, one of the most devoted nations to the catholic church (next to Italy) is giving us: ‘‘Hit-and-run’ visit: Irish protesters reject pardon plea from Pope Francis‘. Large demonstrations with slogans like “The Pope is protecting paedophiles”. It is a setting that visiting Pope Frances would not have expected; a setting where the people are confronted with literally thousands of paedophilic priests and for the most (as far as I can tell) none of them are in prison. In Australia the scandal of Cardinal Pell hit the news and even as we cannot tell just how far it went, the setting where we were confronted with ‘The most serious charges were thrown out for “fundamental defects in evidence”‘, as well as ‘credibility issues over witnesses‘ has angered the population to no end. For me, from a legal perspective it needs to be about the law and the evidence. The fact that the Catholic Church has a large following of powerful people and that Australia too is drenched in operational nepotism does not help the case for Cardinal Pell, but that does not make him a guilty party. It counts against his visibility that the setting ‘The most serious charges were thrown out for “fundamental defects in evidence”‘ was not given more clear daylight in the media. We must accept that a judge will not merely throw away ‘fundamental defects in evidence‘ because it sets the stage for acquittal, the issue had grown too much by then, but in equal measure it will fuel all manners of conspiracy theory where the people will throw themselves into speculation, I do not feel that need, but the issue remains that 6% of the clergy with most of them not getting any conviction is fuelling rage, anger and even abandonment of the Catholic church and that is the setting that the current pope is confronted with. It is interesting that we can easily find the setting of ‘Studies estimated approximately that 20,000 Muslims convert to Christianity annually in the United States‘, yet we have to really dig to get any kind of statistic to see how many people move into the other direction. Yet the previous number is opposed by CBN who gave us “A recent article in Christianity Today (Aug 20, 1990) reported that in the U.S., the average age of those converting to Islam (31) is about twice that for conversion to Christian faith (age 16)“. Even as the numbers might have been dented due to extremism on one side and sexual child abuse on the other side, we see that the media is clearly set on misrepresentation as much as possible. The churches are that powerful that even that so called independent journalistic side sways to ambiguity as much as we see. One of the examples we see in that case is ‘Media, Culture, and the Religious Right‘ by Linda Kintz and Julia Lesage. If there is one issue then it might be that this is set into the American fit in all this (which makes sense). The setting we are given with “the ideology of clarity has helped move the centre of contemporary US politics far to the right as it made a tidy fit with a media culture that privileges the quick, simple message over time consuming complexities and ambiguities and that manufactures a commoditised audience by ratings” So basically trivialisation and simplification works for the church and their masses (pun intended).

I believe that the setting is actually a little less clear. I do believe that it is within the nature of all people to grow through faith and that faith in the Catholic Church is waning because of the events that are out in the open and the actions by the Vatican are not seen as acceptable (Ireland being a perfect example in all this). The people are more and more exposed to Muslims through work and through personal interactions and we are shown that the small group of extremists and the personal interactions show us Arabian and Pakistani interactions, especially the Pakistani interactions (which is much larger), where we see a more westernised group of people and we find a kinship. People all dedicated to a healthy family life as well as a dedication towards good work ethics and an appreciation towards the finer things in life. Even as most are dedicated non alcoholics, they do show a real appreciation towards good food. It is a personal observation, but I see that there is a more readily acceptance of Muslim elements than of Judean elements in all this. Yet the numbers are very sketchy, it seems that the media is embracing the Christian need on how far the flock has grown, yet the opposite direction seems to be actively ignored by all, which is interesting because the full picture is essential for anyone to give appreciation and acceptance of what could be perceived as the whole truth.

So when the Irish were confronted with “The pope’s requests for forgiveness in his Phoenix Park sermon, including for members of the church hierarchy who covered up “painful situations”, were far too little and too late for the crowd who had gathered at the garden dedicated to the memory of those who gave their lives for Irish freedom“. there are two additional parts that need to be addressed, one in the positive light, which is seen with “The author, activist and abuse survivor Colm O’Gorman organised the event, which was timed to coincide with the mass. He told reporters that the pope had apologised and met survivors but evaded Vatican responsibility for crimes and cover-ups. “I think [his visit] has made it worse”“, in this I tend to agree with Colm O’Gorman. Apart from his movie as well as the coverage shown in the BBC, we need to accept that the pressures that the church gave through ‘Crimen Sollicitationis‘ was such an unacceptable setting and the fact that the media has for the larger extent ignored this and reported close to nothing is also a fact that should be seen as evidence. Especially when the document included: “every person, who in any way belongs to the tribunal or is given knowledge of the matter because of their office, is obliged to keep inviolate the strictest secrecy (what is commonly called “the secrecy of the Holy Office”) in all things and with all persons, under pain of automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication, incurred ipso facto without need of any declaration other than the present one, and reserved to the Supreme Pontiff in person alone, excluding even the Apostolic Penitentiary“, I will soften the blow by not including the Latin part of this.

It seems to apply to both victim and perpetrator, so the priest who would eagerly accept that silence, whilst the victim would not have any options at all. Consider being an excommunicated catholic in Ireland. It seems that all things are not created equal, especially via the Vatican and in this, the pope is pleading for forgiveness? How was this ever going to work?

In opposition we must also see “Maeve Lewis, of the advocacy group One in Four, agreed. “A missed opportunity. He made not one concrete proposal about what he intends to do.”” Here I cannot agree. I understand the setting that Maeve Lewis is trying to make and I get it, but this is too big, the entire setting of ‘one concrete proposal about what he intends to do’ was never realistic. The best the Pope could have done was to merely pray for strength of the victims whilst he admitted that such a large issue requires more time. That was as good as he was going to get in all this. The priesthood of sexual release in the light of the bible on the scriptures inside Mark 10, Matthew 12 and John 11 was not going to find any insight any day soon and the amount of non-prosecuted priests was too large by every standard. In the Netherlands the Commission Deetman report gives us ‘several thousands of children between 1945 and 1985 were seriously sexually abused , an estimated 1000 cases of penetration were established‘ in this we see later ‘since 2010 the Roman Catholic church in the Netherlands have fired 12 priests from their profession and removed 2 from their profession‘, in this, how many went to prison exactly, and in light of the thousands of transgressions, how many priests were never considered for prosecution in any way?

In all this, the people are in conflict with themselves, we see more and more growth of Christian abandonment, merely because of the treason by the Roman Catholic church, whilst protecting its flock of abusing priests and now we see more and more that since the 60’s the church has put in place draconian self-preservation settings like ‘Crimen Sollicitationis‘ and in addition we see the stage of Father Joseph Henn, who was fighting extradition in 2006, when the media treated us to “An American priest who is wanted in the United States on child molestation charges has gone missing while under house arrest in Rome” on August 3rd of that year and whilst we are partially informed through “is believed to be hiding in Italy while there is an international warrant for his arrest“, until this day for well over 12 years the Church seems to be actively engaged in keeping this priest form getting prosecuted in court. This is your faith and your children will remain a valid target for any priest. That is the setting that the people are confronted with and whilst the movie Spotlight gave much larger visibility to the entire setting, we see that millions of Christians now more and more in doubt of the Christian (Catholic) church as a whole. I would speculate that moving from church to church is not as completely acceptable (catholic to Baptist of protestant) to perhaps an agnostic or even a Muslim setting.

In support of my view there is in the first “Although 500,000 tickets for the papal mass were allocated, the Vatican estimated the crowd at 300,000 and other estimates were lower“, so basically in one of the strongest strongholds of the catholic church, merely 60% decided to attend, in what would have been close to a once in a lifetime event for many Irish people.

In this we now get the new setting that will play out over the next decade. As we are treated to more and more vilification that the Catholic church is bestowing on the public, are we witnessing the first steps towards the diminishing if the Christian church? Even as this is unlikely to happen in Ireland and Italy, or in England (Church of England) and Sweden (Lutheran), we are seeing a more rapid growth of Islam all over Europe. France has an estimated 2500 Mosques, and Germany seems to have well over 3000, many mosques in Germany are seemingly funded through Turkey.

What about the title?

Yes, here we need to address The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. I have not read the book, but from the settings and descriptions (read: reviews) we are confronted with the optional view that the book gives us the elements of identity, alienation, compromise, and conformity. They are concepts that confront all those disillusioned with their culture. In this, when we see the acts of the Vatican is very much in the centre of Christianity. If we accept that this is a path that a Christian in thrust upon through outside forces, at that point, we partially accept the Muslim setting that Mahound is the vilification form of Christians against  Muhammad. Yet, what if that was NOT the case? What if the path of Mahound is the path a Christian must walk to find his faith? What if the path of true faith is one that takes some people a lifetime, especially when they were on a forced faith through the pressure of parents and their surroundings from birth? To change faith is not what is done through insight of wisdom, what if the path is one we seek out because of our doubts and our love for our family to find the homestead of our lives to test the place where the safety and health of family is proven to be the correct one? Consider my thoughts in another direction, if the Agnostic wants to believe and does believe that there is a larger power, but cannot tell what it is and we see the Christian in doubt, knowing that there is a larger power, but there is now more and more evidence that they followed the wrong power, how can either find the right larger power? In my view it will take a journey that if completed within one’s life is still a great accomplishment. If we all accept that Muhammad was the true messenger of Islam, how can one set on a path to prove this to one’s self? If we see that the internet gives us thousands of books, all proclaiming that they lead to faith and immortality is the path to find the right book not a true journey? In this I give that we accept in two parts: “Every Muslim proclaims in Shahadah: “I testify that there is no god but God, and I testify that Muhammad is a Messenger of God.”“. In the first nearly all Christian’s will accept that there is ‘no god but God‘ and the challenge is merely to find the true messenger, and if we are on a path where there is too much doubt on the Christian church is the Journey not merely to setting to learn the truths of Muhammad and how he is the messenger of God?

If our lives can be seen as fulfilled when we address that one part in our lives, is the switch, the conversion towards Islam that hard to believe? When we come to think of it, is the Vatican not merely giving us the additional ability to walk away from their teachings as they embrace the protection of what in the largest setting of the world is seen as a criminal act against our children as well as the children of our neighbours?

So if the devil is here, what shape has the devil taken and how can we prove that this is the shape of the devil?

In finality, it seems fitting that I make a reference to one of my all-time favourite movies: ‘the Usual Suspects‘. The quote we get is “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist“, the problem is that he does exist and we have been pointing at all kinds of people on who the devil was, yet we forgot to embark on a journey to learn who the devil was not and that is the one part where Christians and more directly the Catholic church failed that task. So when we accept that the Catholic church was not that good, perhaps we can also accept that Islam is not evil, because the data and historic evidence shows the church to be not that good (well over 17 destroyed civilisations is only one part of the evidence), so those appointed as evil are more likely than not, not the setting of evil we were told. If we also accept the evidence that in 1095, 923 years ago, at the Council of Clermont, we were told “Pope Urban II begins by reminding the clergy present that they are shepherds and that they must be vigilant and avoid carelessness and corruption. He reminds them to refrain from simony and to adhere to the laws of the church. Urban complains about the lack of justice and public order in the Frankish provinces and calls for the re-establishment of the truce protecting clergy from violence. In the Historiography of the Crusades, there is a long-standing argument as to how much the pacification of the Frankish realm was designed to go hand in hand with the “export of violence” to the enemy in the east“, important here is ‘pacification of the Frankish realm‘, as well as ‘the “export of violence” to the enemy in the east‘, it comes from Fulcher of Chartres, who was at the proceedings and gave this account in ‘Gesta Francorum Jerusalem Expugnantium‘ 6 to 10 years later. The account would be given much later by Georg Strack in ‘The sermon of Urban II in Clermont 1095 and the Tradition of Papal Oratory‘. It became the foundation of Christian exponential growth into a region that was never that Christian to begin with, and through this, through the crusades the setting of hatred grew on both sides. The estimation is that over those two centuries (1095-1291) close to two million lives were lost in a time when the global population was a little short of 350 million, so 0.5% of the entire global population died in that one ‘skirmish’ that is not easy to overcome and we must realise that part too, because it polarised both parties in all this. So when we consider that we were pushed into a war by the greedy need of the church (several pieces of evidence exists), what other paths have we wrongfully considered? Now, let’s be clear that we all still openly oppose extremism in every form. Yet we also see that when we talk to our neighbours and we see that many Muslims embrace fundamental values of family and prosperity, how wrong have we been on several other fronts?

We need to realise this in the light of utter unacceptable levels of forgiveness requested whilst anti-Muslim actions are on the rise in many places. When we see politicians like Geert Wilders move into these streams proclaiming “he thinks Christians “are my allies” and that they fundamentally should want the same thing“, so how does that go over when that Christian priest sodomises his child? Are those views still aligned? Too much consideration on one side and total non-consideration on the other is merely giving view to levels of acceptance of evil and we should not ever allow for that.

Some players in this large game have been given way too much leeway and that needs to be openly scrutinised by all players.

In light of the issue I mentioned in my blogs in the last few days when we were confronted by the ‘Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest‘ that had been started months ago. We now see the Dutch Prime minister give us: “The Dutch prime minister on Friday distanced his government from a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest being organized later this year by anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders. Wilders “is not a member of the government. The competition is not a government initiative,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at his weekly press conference“, yet the competition is still held in Dutch Parliament, which makes no sense in any valid universe. In addition, we see a ‘casual’ distancing, whilst in equal measure that we are introduced to “This man, Geert Wilders, is known for testing the limits of freedom of expression. He is free to do that“, in this, if the Dutch are so ‘politically‘ correct, when we accept “Artikel 147 Sr, verbiedt sindsdien smalende godslasteringen die krenkend zijn voor godsdienstige gevoelens” (Article 147 Sr forbids blasphemy that is regarded as offensive to religious feelings), and in this the Parliament building is accepted as a suitable location for the venue of a ‘Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest‘?

The overall lack of coverage by the global media at large remains a much larger issue and it seems that giving a global light to these acts is becoming more and more important, in addition, it seems that when it comes to values, we see that some are not having any and believing in the Golden Calf called ‘Freedom of expression’ should also see vilification by the global population when it is done to intentionally inflict mental abuse of ANY ONE religion. It seems that the Dutch have liberalised themselves a little more than should be regarded as acceptable, but that is merely my view.

In the end: “I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze”, which is another nice quote by the Usual Suspects what remains for consideration is: ‘Who exactly is Keyser Soze and which identity does he have now?

 

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