Friday, 22 April 2011

Happy Easter - you're going to Hell

In celebration of one of the holiest events on the Christian calendar - the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - I thought I'd try to find all of y'all a bit of Christian belly dancing to mark the event. Even though Jilly and I aren't Christians, we here at The Occidental Dancer like to be inclusive.
Jilly has even been busy painting turtle eggs for the seaside hunt on Sunday, and the benefit of having four sets of arms is that she's already finished hundreds of 'em. We thought we'd show some love because being a committed Christian and a belly dancer must be a lonely business (as this thread at The Pink Gypsy, uh, 'testifies').

Another evil Jezebel wreaks havoc on the populace
Against the odds I did find some Christian belly dancing on YouTube, but the music that went with it was that bland, pop-ballad stuff. There are all kinds of belly dance sub-genres these days, so why not Christian?

Well, to tell my heathen arse exactly why not here comes Tetaun Moffet of exministries. Tetaun is here to warn his brothers and sisters in Christ that raqs sharqi is "an ancient pagan practice" (a bit like Easter and the celebration of Christmas, which were both co-opted from religious events on the ancient Roman calendar) that makes many references to the serpent. As in the serpent in the Garden of Eden. As in ... domdomdomDOM ... Satan!!!

I am not going to laugh at Tetaun or his point of view - to give the man his props, he references Wendy Buonaventura's Serpent of the Nile (though not in a way she would have imagined, I'm sure) and that great bastion of infallible information, erm, Wikipedia. It's not like he just sat down at his internet machine and pulled the idea that belly dancers are akin to prostitutes and strippers out of his butt: he actually did some rudimentary research and misinterpreted some key facts before arriving at that conclusion. Newsflash, Tetaun - belly dancing does not actually turn a woman into a temple priestess/whore. Really. At best, it turns her into (big breath in) a dancer! Who'd have thought, eh?

In fairness, Tetaun seems like a very level guy, pointing out that belly dancing is 'not inherently sinful' but in his view this is not a dance that women should be performing in public, particularly if they're unmarried. "But it's just belly dancing," is his reasonable conclusion. Obviously Tetaun and I are never going to agree on this. 

Tetaun sees lustfulness, licentiousness, and women "displaying their headship by the use of their body to control and dictate the roles and rights of men" [sic - anyone out there who can translate that into English for me?]. In the same places he sees that, I see women having fun, making friends, expressing themselves, creating art and, in some cases, doing a class just to get themselves out of the damn house. Though I guess that Tetaun would argue that we should get ourselves back to the house quick smart, before we start dictating the roles and rights of men to them and reducing them to quivering piles of useless, lusty flesh. 

Feminism aside, I can see where Mr Moffet is coming from: a Christian perspective. [Edit: NB 'a' Christian one. Not 'the' Christian one. As the reference to the thread on Pink Gypsy shows, Christianity includes a broad spectrum of people and viewpoints.] It's just that I think he's wrong, and that his arguments tell me a great deal more about his low opinion of weak-willed men than they do about the respectability, or not, of belly dance. You need only check out the eye-popping images he selected to illustrate his article to see what I mean. (Though I'm sure he had an awful lot of fun finding them.) All in all, his article got my hackles up about 30%, which is not very far when you think about it.

What really fizzed my soda were the comments. Here's a choice selection for your delectation, and you may agree that they tell us quite a great deal about the people who wrote them:

Spiritualwarfare: "You got young ladies striving to become strippers or vixens! Marriages destroyed because men opening their eyegate to destruction".

Striving to be a female fox is a noble aim. Why, even on my street here in London, urban foxes scavenge the rubbish bins for food - they are nature's recyclers! Stripping is a different story. I once spent a summer taking peeling paint off our house. It was hard work, and I have not disparaged a paint stripper since. 
As to men opening their eyegates to destruction, well, what can I say? The merciful Lord has not made eyegates a part of the female anatomy, so I cannot imagine how much of a struggle this must be for poor married men, what with their wives constantly threatening to leave them because of those gaping male eyegates that allow all that destruction to just wander through the house leaving muck on the carpet.

Taura Helms: "I can't bring myself to watch this at all".

I know what you mean, Taura. Last week I was going to watch a movie but I was just too tired. Didn't stop me from forming an opinion about it though. Peace!

Standing Up 4 Holiness & God's Word: "REAL Christians WORSHIP Christ, NOT try to seduce (even through Christ is all knowing and powerful and that this IS NOTHING to Him but sin which He {and I} cannot stand) Him with bellydancing!!!!"

Pithy user name there, SU4H&GW! It's great to know that you and Christ agree on this issue and that you're allowed to speak for him. I thought the official line was more of a "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone/judge not, lest ye be judged" type deal - but hey! I'm sure you know better than the Holy Bible and I stand to be corrected. I do agree with you on one thing though: I too wish women would stop trying to seduce Christ with belly dancing. We all know that is one drawbridge that ain't never comin' down.

hvinismyhome: "I knew something didn't feel right about this."

A lot of beginners forget to brace their abs to support their lower backs, hvinismyhome. Don't sweat it. Woah - I just twigged to your user name. Are you a ghost?

Wise Angel: "As for Christian married couples who do this in their privacy of their homes, I say don’t. Stop bringing worldly seductions into the your Godly union. Seek God in all areas in your life including the bedroom. That’s my view on it."

Wise Angel, that is so wise. And angelic. And intrusive into the sex lives of married couples everywhere. And really freakin' kinky in ways that I can't even begin to -- ah. You're thinking of the crucifix scene in The Exorcist, aren't you?

Marlon: "Over the past 10 years, I have watched Eastern culture slowly, but strongly creep into the houses of American Christians. It has always been in Hollywood, but there were some things that Christians would not accept. Our people are really allowing themselves to be deceived."

FINALLY! Someone talking sense. Know what this world needs, Marlon? For America and the west to go to war in the Middle East! It's about time that our lazy tolerance of Eastern cultural influence in the form of dressing modestly and extending generous hospitality was stamped out.

Tiffany D: "We must be careful Saints. What if I were to do that for my husband and it sparked a desire in him for porn or strippers???"

I couldn't agree more. What a blow to the ego that would be for the New Orleans Saints NFL team: trying to spark desire in their husbands only to find they'd rather have porn or strippers with really skeezy names, like Tiffa ... oh.

Stephanieb: "The person would have to be doing it to arouse others because what other purpose would it serve."

Meet Stephanieb: a woman devoid of imagination. Please give generously.

Krystal Herrera: "Come on my Christian brothers and sisters there is better music out there than this pagan Rythmitic music and dances come on now do I have to show you it’s obvious.I now listen to more Melody Christian music.Orthodox chants,Catholic chants are the most beautiful music I have ever heard better than this Pagan stuff.Give it a try you’ll love it!!!"

Yeah! These jungle rhythms belong to a savage, wild, primitive, godless culture! Except they don't! What you're saying is both racist and xenophobic. You're getting confused with the arguments that racists used against rock n' roll in the 1950s: with such outmoded thinking it's a miracle that you can use the internet at all. Praise the Lord?

KGore (in response to Krystal): "I agree yet disagree. Anything that comes from the Catholic church should be carefully watched because Catholicisim itself is made up of pagan beliefs and especially derrived from Babylonian ancient religions. From the Mitre of Dagon that the Pope wears on his head to Mother Goddes worship of Mary. Catholicism is a perversion of christianity. So is eastern orthodoxy. We aren’t to be “CHANTING” anything. Chants are basically prayers or or saying names of gods in vain repetition. Please search what I’m saying. You’re leading people from mud to mud."

Please, someone, search what KGore is saying. For real. The Catholic Church was the first of all the organised Christian Churches, and that's perverted. Chants are basically prayers and that's wrong. You know who agrees with KGore about the perversions of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches? Nazis, David Icke and the KKK. Search it.

Stephanieb: "There are alot of Christians who are really into that Zumba stuff. I know of quite a few who go to the classes on a regular basis and I almost joined one myself, but something (the Holy Spirit I believe) kept me from doing so."

Look who it is! Our old friend Stephanieb, the woman devoid of imagination and, apparently, will power as well. Or maybe you DO have an imagination after all, because it's not the Holy Spirit holding you down on the couch, Steph, it's your fat lazy butt! 


photo credit: mangpages (found on the Belly Dancing Secrets blog)


  1. I gave up on reading psycho Christian rhetoric a long time ago. Their favorite thing is to find fault with is really the Christian pastime.Cuz if there is no "sin" lurking around every corner, what is there to be "saved" from?

  2. The Sharktopus?

  3. How in the world did you find the Tetaun link on the first place??

  4. Oh my gosh... Your replies to the comments made my day, not only are they funny but true.

    I shall keep this in my "favorites" for those tough days when someone thinks they can tell me how to express myself

  5. Wow... Some comments are even saying that yoga is demonic...

    Then there's his article on Pantomime. Well since I'm an actor and a Bellydancer. Send me a one way ticket to hell

  6. @RetroKali - I think you're right. There's no point upsetting myself by reading this stuff, but I was shocked that these attitudes are so strongly held (it was news to me, for some reason!).
    @famousfeline - I just Googled 'Christian belly dance' and the internet vomited it up. That poor woman who posted the video of herself rehearsing for a church service never imagined that the fact that her friend clapped and cheered at the end of it meant she was 'like a stripper'. Ouch.
    @Allyse - Thanks! You're welcome. And yes, I too was bemused by the Satanic origins of mime. ?? It seems to me that there's a small group of people out there who would prefer a world without art, joy and freedom. That's very sad for them.

  7. I find it hard to believe that some churches offer belly dance as a part to make their members get active and yet there are churches that condemn this type of dance. It makes one wonder if ignorance is not the case anymore. Maybe it's hard-headed intolerance.

  8. I think you're right. And I think it's a case of being overly cautious too - some people seem to be so afraid of transgressing that they've decided the best way to avoid sin is to avoid doing anything at all. That can't be the right way to treat the precious gift of life, can it?

  9. Already being on Twitter has paid off - tweeted this and I think we'll make it the final word:

    "Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp." - Psalm 149:3