hummingwolf: (two)
There seems to be some reason to quote this every other week and a quick search for it in my own journal didn't turn it up, so it's about time for me to post this passage here.


I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme--whose highest real claim is to reasonable prudence--the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.

--C.S. Lewis, from the essay "A Reply to Professor Haldane," as printed in On Stories And Other Essays on Literature
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)
Hey, guys! It's Summer Rerun time! This is an entry from 2005 which I am reposting for two reasons: (A) I still like my answers, and (B) I want to see all of yours! Please, if you happen to be interested in writing out your own answers to this survey--or if you happen to be bored and can't think of anything better to do that doesn't put you at risk of prolonged incarceration, extreme injury, or imminent death--please post your own answers to your own journal!

Because I'm curious, that's why. Or because I said so. Whichever answer works for you. Now, on to the show!

~~~~~~

Questions taken from the "What religion do you fit in with?" quiz going around. Answers are my own. [Edit: Original URL removed due to uselessness. Quiz may now be found at this location should anyone care to find out their own results.]

Do you believe that man was created in the form of God, or that man evolved from other species?

Both. I don't believe in results without processes. That isn't how creation works for humans--and if we were made in the image of a Creator, why would we expect process-free results from Him?

Are you a believer that you should try everything at least once?

Oh, I should try being tortured to death, dying of lung cancer, dying of heart attack, dying of gunshot wounds... erm, no. No, I believe that some things are better left untried, thanks.

What do you trust more, your feelings/intuition or your logic/rational capabilities?

I think that feelings without logic lead only to madness, and I feel that logic without emotion ignores a necessary part of the data. Reasoning and feelings are both essential. That's why we've got them.

Do you plan to recant on your deathbed?

I don't believe I've canted enough. Or cantered. I definitely should canter more often, perhaps with a cantor along.

Do you often find different ways of expressing your own spirituality?

I am a spiritual animal. Everything I do is a way of expressing my spirituality, as well as my animality.

Do you believe in any kind of afterlife?

Yes.

Do you believe in capital punishment?

Yes, there are too many reports of capital punishment taking place throughout the world for me not to believe in it.

Oh, I know, I know, "believe" in these two questions is not meant in the same way. Then again, maybe it is: Maybe "believe" in both cases means, not "Do you think this is true?" but "Do you think this is the way things should be, whether they are or not?" In that case: I believe that some people deserve to die, but that the judicial system is currently too fallible for me to endorse capital punishment whole-heartedly. Also: I'm not sure I believe that an afterlife should exist--maybe this world really should be all that we get, but I don't think that it is.
More questions and answers inside! )

Links

Friday, January 11th, 2008 11:24 pm
hummingwolf: Drawing of a creature that is part-wolf, part-hummingbird. (Hummingwolf by Dandelion)
For fellow fans of House, M.D.: The Metaphorical Medicine of House. Includes bits of interview with the technical advisor for the series.

The 2007 International Privacy Ranking from Privacy International. According to this report, the U.S. privacy record isn't the worst in the world: in 2007, this country actually ranked better than Singapore, Russia, China, and Malaysia. Woohoo! We only did worse than nearly everyone else on the planet. On the plus side, as about half of you lot have already noticed, "A telephone company cut off an FBI international wiretap after the agency failed to pay its bill on time, according to a U.S. government audit released on Thursday." While one must admire the elegance of the checks and balances set forth in the United States Constitution as well as the nobility of much of the Bill of Rights, one sometimes suspects that the greatest guardians of freedom in this country are general laziness and incompetence.

On an entirely different note: Ghee Happy, "a brand that celebrates Indian/Hindu mythologies and culture thru design and storytelling in a fun and charming way." Do check out the free Kali desktop. (This is one of those links where it's hard for an outsider to tell just how serious/reverent/etc. the artist is being. That odd Spiderman Ganesh photo going around a while back was from an actual Ganesha festival, was a serious attempt to meld East and West, even as it seemed to so many people that it must have been blasphemous. So I at least feel compelled to reserve judgment about the cute little deities, just admiring the cuteness.)

Last and probably least, a link for my own reference, though it could be useful for anyone else with an analog TV: The US Government's TV converter box coupon program.

There was going to be more to this post, but I decided I was too sleepy to say it.
hummingwolf: Mathemagical animation made out of string. (Incredible String Thing)
A Source Critisicm of Richard Dawkins, which will likely be entertaining to some of you and utterly confusing to others of you. This was linked to by Andrew Rilstone, comics fan, C.S. Lewis fan, Dr. Who fan, and general geek, who has been doing a fun job of picking apart Dawkins' God Delusion in his series
A Sceptic's Guide to Richard Dawkins. Unfortunately, as with so many blogs using tagging systems, this shows you the most recent post first and the first post at the bottom of the page, which is a bit annoying since most of the posts are rather long and his blog doesn't use cut tags. Douglas Adams fans may appreciate the entries more than most people, or at least appreciate the entry titles more than the less well-informed.
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Turquoise & peach 1)
Frederica Mathewes-Green has a new book some of you might be interested in. Here's the text of the e-mail about it:


My new book, "The Lost Gospel of Mary: The Mother of Jesus in Three Ancient Texts," will be coming soon from Paraclete Press -- official release date is March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, but I was told that they'd have it on hand starting today. On my web page you can read an excerpt and description and blurbs, and click through to the Amazon page:

http://www.frederica.com/books/

(The Amazon entry has an earlier version of the subtitle, "The Theotokos in...", and we're trying to get this corrected.)

I know "Lost Gospel" sounds like a surprising title. One of my goals is to recover for Christian use a few of the wide range of documents that Christian believers cherished in the early centuries. These works weren't regarded as Scripture, but they filled a worthy supplemental role. They can be compared to the sort of thing found in a Christian bookstore today: commentaries on Scripture, histories, prayer collections, inspiring letters, hymns, poetry, and life-story narratives (or "gospels") of heroic Christians.

The one I'm calling "The Gospel of Mary" is a narrative about the Virgin Mary that seems to have been passed along orally for some time before taking written form prior to AD 150. So it is surprisingly early, especially if you think that interest in the Virgin Mary began around the year 1200. In fact, this story was *extremely* popular among early Christians in Asia and Africa, and scores of ancient copies have been found, in 8 languages. (Not in Latin, however, till the 16th century; it was rejected by a pope and so got "lost" to Western Christians.) It's a charming tale, simply told, with a "folk" quality. It begins with Mary's elderly parents mourning their childlessness, and concludes soon after Jesus' birth. It's natural that the first followers of Jesus would want to know more about his background and earthly life, and this "Gospel of Mary" provided what we could call a "prequel."
More about the book, plus an excerpt )

In the news

Thursday, December 21st, 2006 02:57 pm
hummingwolf: Mathemagical animation made out of string. (Incredible String Thing)
Via [livejournal.com profile] rsschristdot:
BOSTON (AP) -- The "crazy, crazy Jewish fun" of Kosherland looks a lot like the board game Candy Land, except gefilte fishing substitutes for visits to the Ice Cream Sea.

In Catholic-opoly, like Monopoly, the job is to bankrupt your opponents. The difference is it's done "in a nice, fun way."

And role-playing can get pretty realistic with the Biblical Action Figure of Job, which comes complete with boils.

Maybe it's just me, but some of the games described in the article do sound kinda fun.

In other news, "Lawmakers have drawn up a resolution naming Jesus Christ as the honorary king of Poland, but have failed to win support from the country’s powerful Roman Catholic church."

[livejournal.com profile] delish_fractal brings us Christmas Science, featuring useful links like the NORAD Santa tracking page and the science of Santa.

Something to do when you're bored at Christmas: Construct complex fractals out of light using a few shiny Christmas tree ornaments. Pretty!

Via [livejournal.com profile] rssworldmag: "A Commack School District bus driver says he nearly lost his job because he refused to take off his Santa Claus cap while driving his route... Mott said he was told that a parent of a child complained to the district about Mott's headgear, saying that the child doesn't believe in Santa Claus and was bothered by the hat."

Via almost everybody: The title of the next Harry Potter book has been revealed! It is behind the cut, for those who don't want to know. ) And ten zillion fans are already complaining about the title and wondering what impact it will have on the epic Snape slashfic they're in the midst of writing.

From [livejournal.com profile] bbc_scitech: "A Japanese man has survived for 24 days in cold weather and without food and water by falling into a state of "hibernation", his doctor has said." Another version of the story here.

Woman with two wombs gives birth to triplets. Or, depending on how you look at it, twins and a singleton all at the same time. This is what I'm wondering: What are that woman's menstrual periods like?

Also from the BBC: "Robots could one day demand the same citizen's rights as humans, according to a study by the British government." I wonder what MegaHAL thinks of that idea?

From [livejournal.com profile] endicottstudio, we get Yuletide Goblins of Iceland. So cute!
hummingwolf: Part of a julia fractal in colors of fire and smoke. (Fire-flavored fractal)
The Snopes Urban Legends Reference pages have confirmed that certain pictures floating around the internet are authentic photographs of Muslim protesters in London during this year's unrest over the Mohammed cartoons. Behold the face of the Religion of Peace! This is the harsh reality, people. We're so much better than they are: They have placards urging the faithful to "BUTCHER THOSE WHO MOCK ISLAM"; We have Left Behind: The Videogame.
Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is "to conduct physical and spiritual warfare"; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old. You are playing a real-time strategy video game whose creators are linked to the empire of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life.

I have to admit, after reading more about the game here, here, and here, it sounds very well-done, very entertaining. It may not be so good at providing spiritual clarity, however, judging from this article (Edit: if that link won't work, same column here, or use a search engine to find the Left Behind column by Joel Stein):
By the end, [Left Behind Games President Jeffery] Frichner had 24 soldiers and I had three. Defeated, I asked him if the game had accomplished its objective of making him feel invigorated about the believers' role in the end of the world. "I thought I was playing the devil," he said with a confused look. I took that as a no.

Personally, I think players of the game should be required to read all of [livejournal.com profile] slacktivist's Left Behind posts (latest one here).

In other news: "Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products."

The problem here isn't that the Bush administration is Evil: the Clinton administration and all your favorite lobbying firms have produced the same kinds of "news" and sent them to all the same television stations for years. The problem is that the major TV news organizations all pass this stuff off as real news. Look, the Republicans hate the MainStream Media because they think it's biased in favor of the liberals, the Democrats hate the MSM because they think it's biased in favor of the Eeevil Bush administration, and what they all fail to recognize is that the media are, quite simply, biased in favor of whoever will do their work for them. If you're not willing to do something to change that fact, maybe you should quit complaining and go back to playing your videogames.

"Religion" survey

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005 11:59 am
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (one)
Questions taken from the "What religion do you fit in with?" quiz going around. Answers are my own.

Do you believe that man was created in the form of God, or that man evolved from other species?

Both. I don't believe in results without processes. That isn't how creation works for humans--and if we were made in the image of a Creator, why would we expect process-free results from Him?

Are you a believer that you should try everything at least once?

Oh, I should try being tortured to death, dying of lung cancer, dying of heart attack, dying of gunshot wounds... erm, no. No, I believe that some things are better left untried, thanks.

What do you trust more, your feelings/intuition or your logic/rational capabilities?

I think that feelings without logic lead only to madness, and I feel that logic without emotion ignores a necessary part of the data. Reasoning and feelings are both essential. That's why we've got them.

Do you plan to recant on your deathbed?

I don't believe I've canted enough. Or cantered. I definitely should canter more often, perhaps with a cantor along.

Do you often find different ways of expressing your own spirituality?

I am a spiritual animal. Everything I do is a way of expressing my spirituality, as well as my animality.

Do you believe in any kind of afterlife?

Yes.

Do you believe in capital punishment?

Yes, there are too many reports of capital punishment taking place throughout the world for me not to believe in it.

Oh, I know, I know, "believe" in these two questions is not meant in the same way. Then again, maybe it is: Maybe "believe" in both cases means, not "Do you think this is true?" but "Do you think this is the way things should be, whether they are or not?" In that case: I believe that some people deserve to die, but that the judicial system is currently too fallible for me to endorse capital punishment whole-heartedly. Also: I'm not sure I believe that an afterlife should exist--maybe this world really should be all that we get, but I don't think that it is.
More questions and answers inside! )

Language, under God

Wednesday, June 16th, 2004 02:07 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Cuddly plush toy)
Since hearing about the U.S. Supreme Court decision to make no decision about that controversial phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, you have surely been saying to yourself, "Yes, fine, we've heard all the lawyers and pundits jabbering on about the case. But what is the linguistic perspective?"

Well, dear reader, if you followed the [livejournal.com profile] languagelog feed, you would know.

One nation [head], under God [adjunct]
Dysfunctional Shift
Never say never
Out with Under God

So now you know.

(Also on the religious language front, there's the ridiculousness of the Unitarians being referred to as a "controversial cult", but those of you on my favorite mailing list have already heard about that one.)

Sounds about right

Monday, April 29th, 2002 02:41 pm
hummingwolf: squiggly symbol floating over rippling water (Default)
Gallup says that the high degree of religious tolerance reflects, in part, "not only a lack of knowledge of other religions but an ignorance of one's own faith." In some polls, he says, "you have Christians saying, 'Yes, Jesus is the only way' and also, 'Yes, there are many paths to God.' It's not that Americans don't believe anything; they believe everything."

--from a U.S. News & World Report article, "Faith in America"

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