Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Devil According to Scott Adams

Haj Pilgrimage Mecca This, from the Dilbert blog, by Scott Adams. As an opening salvo in a discussion of theodicy, it’s not bad.

The Devil
     According to MSNBC, about 50 people died in Saudi Arabia during the annual ritual of throwing stones at the devil. Apparently a stampede broke out when somebody tripped on luggage. That sounds like a poorly conceived punch line, but it actually happened. And it isn’t the first time. In 1990, 1,426 people died in a stampede while throwing stones at the very same devil. (No word as to whether luggage was involved.) And in 2004, the devil killed another 244 stone-throwers the same way. By my count, the score is Devil 1,720 and Believers 0.
This is on the same day that the guy who shot John Paul II was freed. Clearly, the devil is having a good day.
I think it’s interesting that when you pray to God for a new bike, it hardly ever materializes in your bedroom within seconds. But when you throw stones at the devil, quite often you get an immediate response. That’s an example of good customer service…
His first commenter, Irshaad, makes a telling point about the Saudi arrangements for this ceremony:

What's needed is for the Saudi's to be seriously taken to book for their dismal incompetence at managing the flow of crowds during the hajj over the years. Having visited the hajj sites (not during the hajj but in the "off season" - it's fairly evident that there are several areas where there are serious man-made bottlenecks and until those are alleviated, these unfortunate incidences are going to repeatedly (and unnecessarily) recur. The score is currently on the side of Saudi inaction and incompetence and against the pilgrims who (if they want to go on hajj) have to unfortunately put their lives into the care (ha!) of the Saudi hajj management committee.

Irshaad has his own blog, Islam From the Inside Out. He is worth reading, though he doesn’t seem to post often. I recommend looking at his images and reading the post on knowledge.

4 comments:

Evanston said...

You are recommending the post "Shards of Knowledge" -- right?

Wally Ballou said...

So who took that picture of the Qabah? Don't you still get lynched for that? If not, these are certainly lax times.

The most interesting thing about the big cubic rock is the widespread belief (I first read it in Isaac Asimov) that the "Rose Stone", which the Qabah is built around and was built to honor, is in fact a meteorite. How's that for modern enlightened thought? "Ugh - big rock fall from sky"

In fact, the muslims didn't build the Qabah, they inherited it from their pre-Mohammedan forebears (kind of like the Christmas tree?). They just tacked on a story about Abraham.

At any rate, rock worship seems a teensy bit inconsistent with scripture-based monotheism, but hey, who am I to judge? After all, some Irish folk used to kiss one (although they largely leave that to tourists now).

Dymphna said...

Evanston--

Yes, that's the one. It's unusual, don't you think.

Hey, Wally--

Just remember, that the blarney stone, not the baloney stone.

PhilippinesPhil said...

I just watched "The Flight that fought back" on The Discovery Channel about Flight 93. So excuse me for saying that the Saudis are doing an OUTSTANDING job managing the crowds at their Devil Rock! And... GO Devil! Maybe they should just hijack an airplane and crash it into the rock. Why mess about with little stones anyway? (Yup, I'm being hatefully sarcastic).