Bloody shovel

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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Tradition

So the slowest year on record for this blog is over. If you think this is just the beginning of the decline, you might be right. I’m not blogging as frequently as I used to, and there are good reasons for that. One being my recently started family. Another being that my comment threads aren’t as rewarding as they used to. Another that I’m going through a reverse Dunning-Kruger effect: the more I know the less I think I know. It’s starting to get harder to write a post that I can be proud of, and I just don’t have the time or energy to do the necessary research to write really good posts.

This may just be me being too hard to myself; substandard content doesn’t seem to bother a lot of bloggers out there, even fairly famous ones with academic careers. I should probably just loosen up and just go on writing, maybe on a fixed schedule. Thing is I’m very bad at fixed schedules; my brain just doesn’t do self-discipline. My ego always pairs up with my id. Or I’m just very bad at fooling myself, which might not be a bad thing.

I can do monthly though, if only to avoid gaps in the archive list in the right sidebar. So here goes a light post for December 2014.

A lot gets written around about religion, the importance of tradition, rituals, all that. There’s the old debate on whether religion is either something you believe in, or something you do. These are likely to be different things. Religion is often treated as a gestalt, but that is fallacious. Religion is a composite of different things, and the different components behave and evolve differently.

Last week, while most of the West woke up hungover from drinking too much during Christmas, some people in Hunan province, China, were celebrating something different.

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Yes, that’s old Mao. And December 26 is his birthday, so people gathered at his birthplace of Shaoshan to celebrate it.

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Those flags say “Long live the Communist Party”, “Chairman Mao the most (something), and “Chinese Dream”, which is the trademark bullshit from the new chairman Xi Jinping.

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The Mao worshippers all clad with bright-red scarfs sing communist songs from their childhood.

Right now you’d think, so what? Some commies go to celebrate Mao’s birthday on a state-paid trip, and take a lot of well posed pictures to post in the state-owned newspaper. Big deal.

But wait, look at this.

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Shaoshan villagers sacrifice a pig. Yep, a pig.

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Nice scarf

 

 

And they offer the blood to a bronze statue of Mao. Yes, they are offering pig blood to a statue of Mao.

You may have noticed that this is Christmas we’re talking about. Early winter is slaughter season everywhere in the world, basically because it’s the first time in the year when it’s cold enough that meat won’t spoil easily, so you have time to process it into sausages and other stuff for the winter. And while you’re at it, you have a feast.

Slaughter season is often turned into a religious festival, with offerings from the slaughtered beast given to the local gods. The Chinese have been offering pig blood to the local gods for millennia; most likely well into prehistory. Let’s say 8,000 years.

Mao is both the great communist who rescued the proletariat and made great contributions to Marxist theory. And he’s also the new incarnation of a local neolithic god. It’s certainly convenient that he was born during slaughter season.