11.2.04

I just read this article, and I am not to sure what to say. It scares me. I always knew that the 'Left Behind' series was popular, I have read the first 6 books myself. But that it is being associated so directly with such a major political power? The Christians who speak in this interview seem entirely to ready to damn, and entirely to representative of the state of evangelical Christianity. Speaking of the rapture, one man said "I have to accept that and believe it. Or I begin to reject it, then it begins to work on my faith in the wrong direction … It would lead to doubt. Doubt is not even an option.” How has the rapture become so closely tied to this man's faith that to doubt it would cause him to 'doubt' in general? I don't believe we should doubt Jesus Christ, if we can avoid it, but I also don't think that is so wrong. On the side of doctrine, I think a good healthy dose of humbling doubt is exactly what many of us need.

And what about the one man think tank, funded by LaHaye, who works out of his garage to prepare for the last days? The 'Pre-Tribulation Research Center'!!! Or LaHaye pointing out the fear that can drive people to Christ?!?!?

Last night I was talking with the PinkMoose about pop culture, and how the only entity that has really managed to come close to it without being assimilated or destroyed is the evangelical sub-culture (this view is open to debate, i am sure). We wondered if that was a good thing, if it was possible to be so close to pop culture, and to be your own sub culture, without somehow distorting the message? even if it is possible, is it good? Having read this article though, I realize that in creating a sub-culture so close to pop-culture, evangelical Christianity has created a population of people, evangelicals, who have some startlingly similar traits to many pop culture consumers. Heavily influenced by what is popular in their culture, willing to take things at the words of 'experts' regardless of credentials and without research (compare to how many ppl believed that Sadaam was resposnible for 9-11 or other such fallacies), consumers to the core, with a slightly different label on their products.

Witness the 'Left Behind' series; a series of fiction novels, full of doctrine which would once have been on the edge of Chrisitan belief, becomse popular, and boom (not to say this is solely responsible for the mainstreaming of their beliefs, nor to say they were on the edge before LB was published, but it has had a huge effect. I can see this personally, as well as in such articles as the one referenced above). Compare to the Prayer of Jabez. Or Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven" stuff (I think he has some good ideas, but I can think of very few books which have worse biblical exegeisis). All incredibly popular books and programs which get passed around the country with such eagerness and forcefulness, driven by popularity, consumed by the masses.

There is at least one sane comment in that article, and the writer/editor was wise enought to put it at the end. It is from Rev. Gomes, a Baptist Theologian at Harvard (they don't make it clear what he believes, I feel like they cut his quotes to match the rest of thier article, but thats just an impression, in any case his last one is good.)

"Not everybody who thinks they know what's going to happen knows,” says Gomes. “So, I'm willing to take my chances, not with the evangelicals, but with the Lord. I'm going to place my hands in his.”

10.2.04

My first, and last, midterm is tomorrow night. Its great to only have one. After that we get reading break for all of next week and Chapter is coming down, so I am very excited. I will have to get work done over the holidays (bleggghhh) but thats school for ya. It also means I probably won't post much between thurs the 12th and monday the 23rd. As soon as I get back, I have an appointment with the surgeon too. Its not the surgery, just the preliminary thing. What I want is for that meeting to go quick and for my surgery to be scheduled quickly afterwards, instead of having to wait 6-8 weeks, but I suspec that is what I will have to do.

7.2.04

You purchase Pain with all that Joy can give, and die of nothing but a Rage to live.
Alexander Pope

4.2.04

When I die, freeze me...?

Yesterday I was pointed to a very odd sight. Dark Passage which is a site about these guys who go around and explore old abandoned asylums and stuff, taking pictures and writing about it. I read the account of the Hospital of Seven Teeth which is very wierd. This place is being used as a shooting range by some unknown people, has a bowling alley in it, was home to at least one brutal murder, and they found an Alcor logo, or the old Alcor logo. Alcor is a real company, working on cryonics and life extension. They have a section in their library devoted to religion and cryonics, explaining why its ok for people of various religions to go with it. They have a whole lot of other stuff to.

Here are some quotes from their website:

Although it is widely believed that all cryonics cases are "post mortem," this is biologically not correct. When the heart of an Alcor member stops with a fully-equipped cryonics team standing by, the brain can be resuscitated before death of anything occurs. Restoring blood flow within moments of cardiac arrest means that all the cells, tissues, and organs of the patient will be in the same condition as a patient that is legally alive. For such patients, the typical objection that cryonics can't work because cryonics patients are "dead" is spurious. These patients are biologically alive. The only uncertainty for such patients is whether the cryopreservation process itself will someday be reversible.

True, reversible cryonic suspension for adult human beings is not here today. Only the very tiniest human embryos put into cryostasis have been restored. But the technology applicable to eventual recovery of people now in cryonic suspension is growing. And if and when that technology comes into being, it might just possibly save your life, and the lives of people you care about.

And the existence of the Cryonics Institute isn't science fiction but fact. We're here right now. And ready to help.




Wierdness, thats about all I can say.

2.2.04

The Rainbow Never Came

Yesterday a friend, the same one who I talked about responsible use of power with (who will henceforth be known here as Rimau) sent me a song to listen to. "The Rainbow Never Came" by Artisan. Artisan is a British trio who do most of there work a capella. I have only heard one song by them, but it is excellent, and I am pretty sure that I am going to buy one of their CD's if I get the chance. (the lyrics are at the bottom of this post if your interested)

"The Rainbow Never Came" interweaves two main themes, and adds some very strong symbolic links to the flood account in Genesis, though it is never explicit. The two main themes are man's arrogance/selfishness/power hungriness, and how the earth is taking a beating by man (in this case as a direct result of the first issue). I would say this is a mythopoetic retelling with modern themes and ideas mixed in, and with many details removed.

In Genesis God sends the deluge as a result of humanity becoming completely evil. In this song, the reason God cites is the destruction of the earth, even though the song makes clear that the destruction of the earth is a result of man's character. Also in Genesis God does give Adam some kind of leadership over the earth. Christian interpreters point out that this power was handed over to Satan, though I am not sure if that is included in the Hebrew Bible. Finally, after the flood, God creates the rainbow as a pact with man, that though he is evil (God does not point out any changed character in the nature of man, the words given at the end of the story describing man's condition are identical to the words at the beginning that described man's condition, and which were given as reason for the flood) God will never destroy the earth like that (another interesting switch, in the flood story God destroys the earth and creatures on it as well as man, whereas it is implied at least that this is not the case in the song). The chorus of the song includes the line "and the rainbow never came", and after God cries out and wipes man from this image the chorus does not change. Instead of being exlicit though, Artisan leaves the last line of the chorus the same, thus ending the song with the transparency to interpretation that embodies many of the structures of myth.

This song gets me thinking about one other thing, probably because it came from Rimau whom I was discussing power with. That is, it gets me thinking about power. In this song, "the man" brags about his power which is directly associated with the ability to manipulate and alter his environment (including living things, fellow creatures, and presumably humans?). It strikes me that this is the kind of power men seek, and this is the kind of power men respect, and this is the kind of power, in many ways, that Jesus did not take hold of. In that famous story, "The Brother's Karamazov", when the priest is speaking with Jesus he points out that Jesus, in turning down Satan's three offers, or temptations, Jesus threw out everything that he could have used to fix the world. If you control men's daily bread, you can control them. Men don't seek God so much as the miraculous. And men don't want freedom, they can't handle it, they want someone to rule over them. He tells Jesus that it has taken over a thousand years for the church to clean up the mess Jesus made, and so Jesus should leave. It also strikes me that this kind of power is the power has gotten, and continues to get, humanity in trouble every step of the way.

This, of course, brings us back to Crichton. In the intro to "Prey" he points out that we are very arrogant, we always think were right no matter how many mistakes we have made in the past. He then predicts that "Somewhere in the twenty-first century, our self-deluded recklessness will collide with our growing technological power." He bases this prediction on the idea that our biosphere is so complicated that we have no idea what kind of effect we will have with any given action. He gives an example: "Anyone who is willing to argue, for example, that the industrial policty of clear-cutting forests is more damaging than the ecological policy of fire suppression ignores the fact that both policies have been carried out with utter conviction, and both have altered the virgin forests irrevocably. Both provide ample evidence of the obstinate egotism that is a hallmark of human interaction with the environment." I particularly liked the final lines of his book, which don't give anything away, so don't worry. "They didn't understand what they were doing. I'm afraid that will be on the tombstone of the human race. I hope it's not. We might get lucky."

Yet, this is the kind of power we continually pursue and use. I wonder if it's reading to much into Jesus idea's and life to say he shirked this very kind of power? In some ways, from a Christian point of view, it is no surprise we idolize this kind of power. We are created in the image of God, and it is this power which God demonstrates first, and every day of our lives in the beautiful creation he made. On the other side, God is perfectly wise and we are not, and so God came down to us and demonstrated a better kind of power, and perhaps a power we could use without killing ourselves?

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of aservant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to deaht - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to teh highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to teh glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)

But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28, or see Mark 10: 42-45 or Luke 22:25-27)




Said the man, "I made god in my image
and I made the world that you see.
Like the god that I am, I will do what I can,
I can do what i want when I please."

Chorus:
and the rainbow never came
as the sun beat on the land
and the dove flying high simply died in the sky
when the man who was god raised his hand.

Said the man, "I'm the wisest of creatures
the ruler of all I survey.
I will twist, I will change
all my world rearange,
in my gardedn of eden I will play"

Chorus

Said the man, "I give life and I take it,
I own the earth and the see.
With a wave of my hand I can clear all this land,
til the only one left will be me."

Chorus

Said the man, "I control every creature
and their futures I hold in my hand.
I'm a god, i'm a king, I can do anything
for no one can stop what I plan.
I need no idol to worship.
I worship the progress I make.
When I tear down the old, build tommorow in gold,
I will take, I will fake, I will break."

Chorus

Cried the God, "I made you in my image
You harnessed the earth I designed
With the power you employed, all my work you destroyed
I'll wipe you and your world from my mind."

Chorus