"Cleric"?

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Every story about Iraq these days identifies Moktada al-Sadr as a "cleric." Is he really a cleric, or does he just play one on TV? Levelheaded accounts from Iraq over the past year have suggested pretty plainly that Sadr's claims to religious authority are false, and that he's actually exploiting his late father's standing to validate his claims to leadership. In fact, Iraq's leading Shi'ite clerics ? real ones like Sistani, Hakim, Bahrul Uloom, etc., none of them U.S. stooges—seem to regard Sadr as a pretender and troublemaker. As it happens, accounts of the uprising story that originate in the Middle East's media (those that I've seen) do not identify Sadr as a "cleric"; rather, they identify him as the head of an armed force.

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  1. here’s how you become a cleric. From the sound of it, al-Sadr isn’t one.

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2098364/

  2. Ramster-
    I read that Slate article, but generally from all else I’ve read it sounds being declared a holy man in Islam is like being declared an intellectual in America: pretty much anyone can label themselves thusly; it’s just a matter of whether or not you can get folks to agree with you. If enough Iraqis think of Sadr as a cleric then for all intents and purposes he is one; declaing that he doesn’t have the right credentials won’t make a difference.

  3. Jennifer-

    “Sausagefest”? That sounds so, well, gay.

    Besides, if you think we sound weird talking D&D, think how bad it would be if we had a serious discussion of the self-proclaimed cleric, and people start weighing in on how evil Islam is.

  4. Name two famous American clercs———Bevis and Butthead totally assholish.

    Allah-save da chilren.

  5. Thoreau-
    What, you mean gay as opposed to the raging heterosexuality of Dungeons and Dragons discussions? Ha!

    Of course, in all honesty I’m just mocking what I don’t understand. The only superpower I still have is the ability to look good in a swimsuit despite being over thirty.

  6. I also rock at bargain shopping.

  7. So, are we working to discredit him by covert means, or are we just throwing troops at him?

  8. Cleric, necromancer, mental patient, megalomaniac… it doesn’t really matter what this Sadr guy likes to title himself, or what others in Iraq choose to title him. The only things that really matter at this point are:

    How many people are willing to die/kill for him?

    What would be the reaction of most Iraqi’s if he were to be hit by missle while crossing the street?

    He has already stated he’ll fight the US till we leave, and from the looks of things he’d just try to wrangle some control for himself once we do leave. So everything else is just academic.

  9. Well since his primary weapon is an automatic weapon, you have to consider whether or not the bullets are considered blunt weapons. In any case, he could also multi-class.

    Jennifer, I know a few girls that played D&D. Granted, they were a distinct minority.

    In all seriousness, we need to arrest/kill this guy before he can get some serious backing and legitimacy among the Iraqi people. It’ll send a powerful message, epecially if we can capture him alive. It’s time to send out our squad of Rainbow Six trained marines (I couldn’t let the geek talk end at D&D).

  10. Sadr is a Shia. I think their various divisions actually do have a formal cleric system.

    I’ll confess ignorance on 2nd edition rules, but wouldn’t a necromancer be a magic user? And wouldn’t Keith Richards be a pretty high level undead and exempt from control?

  11. Mo-
    If we kill the guy, won’t that just make him a martyr?

    If the conspiracy theoristsd are right and the CIA has mind-control drugs, we should arrest this guy and then use him in a Marion Barry-style tape showing him smoking a crack pipe and talking to a whore. Or maybe just get some computer-animation genius to make a tape. You can do cool stuff with technology these days.

    I never played D & D, but I always thought they had pretty dice.

  12. Jennifer,
    It depends how big a following he has. The difference between a martyr and a dead rebel is the size of the following. That’s why the ideal solution is capturing him alive.

  13. I don’t play D&D anymore, but when I did my favorite part of Gencon was always the girls in chain mail bikinis. Those girls gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “Use protection.”

    Thank-you, I’m here all week! Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

  14. He might not be a cleric, but (warning: cliche ahead) the fighting is still “fierce”!

  15. To quote a famous ancient Hebrew, “worse? how could it get any worse? JEHOVA! JEHOVA!”

    This guy is a threat, should be dealt with harshly, and should be dealt with immediately. The Israelis took out Yassin and, 48 hours after the deed, things were back to what passes for normal in that part of the world.

    The threat of “more” violence shouldn’t deter us from doing what’s right in Iraq. Sadr’s a bad hat and is messing things up for the majority of Iraqi’s who want this situation resolved and to live in peace.

  16. Oh… sorry for failing to continue with the D&D motif. Hope I can make amends with the following:

    Sadr’s charisma appears to be 18, but I doubt he’s got much of a constitution. I say we join the melee with a +5 sword of turban splitting. If we get lucky, we might roll a head-shot and score double damage.

  17. That’s why the ideal solution is capturing him alive.

    Or just killing off the following.

  18. “Mo-
    If we kill the guy, won’t that just make him a martyr?

    If the conspiracy theoristsd are right and the CIA has mind-control drugs, we should arrest this guy and then use him in a Marion Barry-style tape showing him smoking a crack pipe and talking to a whore. Or maybe just get some computer-animation genius to make a tape. You can do cool stuff with technology these days.”
    Posted by Jennifer at April 8, 2004 02:51 PM

    Could we capture him and put him in a confined space with a demure ewe for a couple of days while doing a Paris Hilton on him?

  19. The only superpower I still have is the ability to look good in a swimsuit despite being over thirty.

    My wife also has this superpower. It’s certainly not the only reason I love her (nor even the main reason), but it makes me proud nonetheless! Why somebody that attractive would ever agree to marry me is one of the great mysteries of the universe.

  20. I never played D&D, but am aware of some of the “culture.” (sic) I wonder if Jennifer would look better dressed as Red Sonja than Wendy Pini used to? Bah, I curse you all for putting that image in my head!

    http://tinyurl.com/3d47m

    Now knock it off, before I dig up a snapshot of Mercy Van Vlack in a Dave Cockrum Saturn Girl costume!

    You have been warned!

    Kevin

  21. If you’re a cleric, you don’t have as scary a bunch of body-guards, or do you?

  22. In the Middle East, you justify assholery by saying “I’m a cleric.” In the United States, you say it’s “for the children.” Same shit, different culture.

  23. Islam has no official priesthood; so anyone may call themselves a cleric as I recall.

  24. Actually, he’s a level 20 wizard.

  25. Well, it depends on whether he uses edged weapons or only blunt weapons. According to the Player’s Handbook clerics only use blunt weapons unless their deity specifically permits it.

    But the real test is whether he can turn undead. So, let’s send Keith Richards to Iraq. If this Sadr guy can banish him then we’ll know he’s a real cleric. On the other hand, if he summons a fireball to burn the guy, then he’s probably a wizard.

    I wonder how many hit points he has…

  26. Dungeons and Dragons? See, guys, this is why most people think libertarians are weirdos. Be grateful you have me, to prevent this commentary from devolving into a TOTAL sausage-fest.

  27. Thoreau,

    As an evil cleric I’m sure Sadr cannot turn undead, but instead can attempt to control them to do his bidding.

    The real test is can he cure or cause light wounds?

  28. Obviously he’s a fighter, and a pretty high level one. Look at all the henchmen.

  29. Hmm, so then as an evil cleric Sadr should be able to control Keith Richards…

    If at a concert Keith Richards suddenly yells “Death to the west! Tony Blair is the Great Satan!” we’ll all know what happened…

  30. thoreau,

    Unless, of course, he’s a necromancer (2nd edition rules). Is Kieth Richards a zombie or skeleton?

  31. I’d never thought I’d say this, but: “Let’s all get in touch with our feminine (i.e. non D&D) sides so we can go back to discussing War and its various players.”

    See? On any other website in the world that statement would be oxymoronic, but here. . . .

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