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Blog Archive/August 2006

August 31, 2006

Part III of SoMA’s "Summer Soul Series"

On the surface, tranquility seems easy indeed to define. It’s the same thing as peacefulness, or serenity, or calmness, right? As we’ve seen in Parts I and II of our “Summer Soul” series, however, tranquility is a highly complex subject that involves many different aspects, from various spiritual philosophies and practices to the very way in which we relate to the world and make our place in it. The truly tranquil person is not merely someone who possesses an inner serenity; he or she must also be able to deal with the paradoxes inherent in human existence, not only maintaining a calm center in the midst of flux, frustration and chaos, but embracing that flux, frustration, and chaos as an inevitable, and therefore natural, part of life.

Continue reading Mary Beth Crain’s Tranquility: The Many Facets of the Diamond.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

August 28, 2006

Sweet Revenge

“In my view, criticizing something for being passive-aggressive is like faulting a tactic for being discreet. Just as there are times when subtlety is the worst approach, there are also times when passive aggression is the best.

“In fact, the more I talked to friends about similar experiences—sometimes in dealing with roommates or neighbors, but most often in dealing with larger and faceless adversaries—the more I realized that passive aggression is actually the vehicle for a noteworthy array of scrappy ingenuity…”

From “In Praise of Passive Aggression,” by Ian Urbina, which you can read here.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

August 23, 2006

Joke of the Week

What goes: “Clip, clop, bang. Clip, clop, bang”?

An Amish drive-by shooting.—Submitted by Mary Beth Crain

Heard a joke you’d like to share? Does it have to do with religion? Send it to editor(at)

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

August 17, 2006

Can You Scam a Nigerian Scam Artist? Apparently

We’ve all received our share of Nigerian scam emails over the years. You know the appeal: You, and you alone, have been chosen to help a Nigerian get his (or his company’s or his family’s) tens of millions of dollars out of his country. In return, you’ll get 10 percent of the loot. All you need to do is send him an advance fee (or a government bribe) to set up the transfer. Say, $18,000. Or maybe $100,000. Not bad, if the payoff is several million clams, right?

Anyway, Chuck, our web manager, sent me a link to a very amusing website today—, which details the elaborate lengths to which some Brits have gone to scam Nigerian scammers. “Scambaiting,” they call it, the goal of which is to engage the swindlers in a long-drawn exchange “simply to waste their precious time and resources,” thus “helping to keep the scammers away from real potential victims,” all the while “screwing around with the minds of deserving thieves.”

The Nigerian scammer targeted here is “Prince Joe Eboh” and, if the conversation is to be believed (and why shouldn’t it be?), the scambaiters get the “Prince” to fall for most of his own tricks—plus several new ones. For instance, they get him to join their Holy Church of the Red Breast, filling out an official-sounding induction agreement in which the Prince vows, among other things, not to “touch the one-eyed trouser snake” and to “honour the words of guru Shiver Metimbers.” They also get him to paint a red symbol on his chest, photograph it, and mail it to the church.

Question is, are they clever enough to dupe the Prince into sending them some cash—an advance fee that will enable the church to process the Nigerian’s advance fee? You bet they are, and that’s when things really start to get interesting—and off-the-wall wacky as hell.

It’s fun stuff to read—complete with photos, copies of “official” bank and church documents, actual delivery forms, etc.—but is there a lesson in all this? I guess it’s that when we think of the desperation, greed, and gullibility that must lead scammers’ victims to fall for such absurd offers, we rarely pause (or at least I hadn’t paused) to consider that the scammers themselves could be just as desperate and gullible as their prey. Even more desperate, considering that these guys supposedly understand how the game works.

Read how Prince Joe Eboh got hoodwinked here.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

August 16, 2006

Hell Hole 911

So, how many of you out there have seen “Clean House”? This “reality” show focuses on families for whom the term “dysfunctional” is no longer even remotely adequate. Psycho-obsessive-compulsive-passive-aggressive-narcissistic-sado-
masochistic-LOSERRRRRS! might be a more appropriate description—and even that doesn’t go quite far enough.

On “Clean House,” host Niecy Nash (“Reno 911”), who could be the offspring of Ru Paul and Weezy Jefferson, assumes the role of a mouthy, funny-bitchy fairy godmother who visits people living in messes you can’t imagine and, with a wave of her magic wand, transforms their lives into paragons of beauty and order. No matter that the interiors of the homes Niecy and her crew of intrepid remodelists take on rival those scenes of bombed-out southern Lebanon. The worse the bedlam, the sweeter the victory.

Continue reading Mary Beth Crain’s A Fine Mess.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

August 11, 2006

Bugging Out

Like many travelers, the Rev. Bill Whitehead spent most of his summer vacation swatting mosquitoes, which were worse in number this season, he says, than in any recent year he can recall. Part of it is that the Good Reverend camps in northeast Pennsylvania, which received more rainfall this year than the area had seen in the past 30. And the skeeters, of course, were grateful for the millions of extra puddles in which they could lay their larvae. So by the time Bill and his family pulled up to their campsite, the air was thick with buzzing, blood-sucking little buggers eager to feed on them.

Slapping and scratching himself wildly all week gave Bill lots to think about:    

As I sat in that beautiful campground pondering the beauties of God’s creation, I couldn’t help but wonder why He had created these little monsters. It really is 21st century remake of the David and Goliath story, with a perverted 21st century twist: David is the bad guy. He’s a tiny insect who takes advantage of the summertime bounties of warmth, and rain, feeds off of our blood, gives us diseases that kill and maim millions. We Goliaths spray him, swat him, and bug zap him. We spend billions trying to come up with the most sophisticated weapons with which to annihilate him. But he cannot be vanquished. The greatest technological achievements of the modern world have come up with only one sure fire way of escaping him—jumping in a space ship and leaving the planet.

But as he pondered further, Bill came to find a silver lining in the clouds of mosquitoes he couldn’t escape. No, really. He did.

To find out what this bright side was—and to decide whether Bill had merely developed a case of Stockholm syndrome at the hands, er, proboscises of his tiny captors—read his essay, “Of Mosquitoes and Men,” here.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

August 11, 2006

How to Reach Us

For the next week, we’ll be using a new temporary email address. To contact SoMA for everything from editorial submissions and mailing list additions to requests that we add your website to our links, please email us at somareview (at)

After next week, we hope, you can resume contacting us via our (at) addresses—e.g., editor (at), updates (at), etc.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

August 10, 2006

Send Us Your Links!

There are so many religion blogs and spirituality magazines out there, I just can’t keep up. So, if you have a God blog or online magazine, shoot us a url. If you add SoMA Review to your links, I’ll add you to ours. Unless, of course, your site is messed up or inappropriate.

Send ‘em to: somareview (at) (After next week we should be back to our old address, editor (at) See explanation in the entry above.)

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

August 9, 2006

DWM (Driving While Mel)

We all know the ugly turn fate recently handed Mel Gibson. He got pulled over by the police in Malibu, exploded in an expletive-laden “barrage of anti-Semitic remarks,” and was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. The next day, he issued a statement admitting that he “acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable...” (Emphasis ours.)

See, the actor-director-darling of the Christian right desperately wants the world to understand that it was the booze talking. He personally does not believe that the “fucking Jews” are “responsible for all the wars in the world,” as he put it to the arresting cops. That’s merely what the alcohol made it seem like he believes.

So here’s our question: How does quaffing a few chugs of grandpa’s old cough medicine transform a person like Mel Gibson, who is not a racist when he’s sober, into a raging anti-Semite when he’s potted?

There was one way to find out. We hit the nearest bar, ordered some drinks, and turned on the tape recorder to catch any racial slurs that might happen to fly out our mouths. The results of our scientific study may not be pretty—or very scientific—but they’re certainly revealing.

Continue reading "Tequila Sunset," by John D. Spalding and Billy Frolick, here.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

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