The Meaning of Life
according to various rather famous people (Dennett, Fukuyama, etc). I'm watching the Dennett video at the moment and it starts rather weakly, but, by midway through, is rolling along nicely. With topics like "being good without god" and "the anthropic principle" it struck me as relevant to a couple of recent askmefi threads
Dennett: [pause] i guess i'll say it again, more slowly...
(oh, and the player interface is rather delicate - give it time to load and click play a few times...)
posted by andrew cooke
on Oct 1, 2004 -
Utopian Christians, despisers of all ornament, in some rough sense protomodernists, the eighteenth- and nineteeth-century millenarian cult known disparagingly as the Shakers
has had an impact on the history of design far in excess of its size. (At most, there were only ever a few thousand, and it's easy to understand why, given their emphasis on "perfection" to the point of celibacy.) Key to the Shaker world view was the perfectability of the material world
- its purgation of all decoration, artifice and frippery - as an act of worship. This ethos of design, summarized in these theses
toward the improvement of the domestic environment, has gifted us with a legacy of highly esteemed craft objects
. None has been more celebrated than that canny apotheosis of domestic utility, the Shaker rail
, which survives here
in a particularly nice contemporary interpretation. If only half the artifacts we're currently offered were as thoughtfully designed...
posted by adamgreenfield
on Sep 29, 2004 -
If America were Iraq, what would it be like?
Private armies totaling 275,000 men; platoons of Christian Soldiers Militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery; the grounds of the White House constantly under mortar fire; the Secretary of State, President, and Attorney General all assassinated in the past year; and the Air Force routinely bombing Billings, Flint, Philadelphia, and parts of LA and DC to destroy "safe houses" of "criminal gangs."
posted by johnnydark
on Sep 27, 2004 -
wants to play basketball. She is also a muslim, and wishes to observe traditional muslim attire for a woman of the faith. Intolerance ensues.
(A link from my local paper to an Orlando Sentinel story, in that this woman is from Oregon.)
posted by Danf
on Sep 24, 2004 -
The full wealth of the world's religious knowledge has been collated into the quite extraordinary "God FAQ"
. A valuable resource indeed. [via b3ta]
posted by Pretty_Generic
on Sep 24, 2004 -
Redemption and the Power of Man.
In Christianity, redemption is essentially an act of divine grace, the salvation of a sinful humanity that is incapable of saving itself. In Judaism redemption depends entirely on man, who is responsible for his own fate. To what extent did Judaism influence
the development of progressive, pluralistic democracy?
posted by semmi
on Sep 22, 2004 -
Conscience Clauses and Health Care
--"Yes, we need to respect individual freedom of religion. But at what point does it cross the line of not providing essential medical care? At what point is it malpractice?" she asked. "If someone's beliefs interfere with practicing their profession, perhaps they should do something else." The Protection of Conscience Project
feels differently: Protection of Conscience Laws are needed because powerful interests are inclined to force health care workers and others to participate, directly or indirectly, in morally controversial procedures
, while NARAL says: ... Many of these clauses go far beyond respecting individuals' beliefs to the point of harming women by not providing them with full information or access to medical treatment. Medicine, not ideology, should determine medical decisions.
posted by amberglow
on Sep 17, 2004 -
Devil Worship: The Sacred Books and Traditions of the Yezidiz
, by Isya Joseph, 1919. 'This is one of the only public domain sources of information on the religious beliefs of the Yezidi, a small group originally from the northern region of Iraq. Although they speak Kurdish, they are a distinct population from the Kurds. The Yezidi are notable because they have been described as devil-worshippers, which has naturally led to constant persecution by the dominant Islamic culture of the region ... They have many unique beliefs, such as that the first Yezidi were created by Adam by parthenogenesis separately from Eve ... ' New on sacred-texts.com.
posted by plep
on Sep 17, 2004 -
Breeders are winning
. "Conservative, religiously minded Americans are putting far more of their genes into the future than their liberal, secular counterparts." (WaPo link, bugmenot
says try email@example.com and
fedup if you don't care to register. Definition of genetic fitness here
posted by jfuller
on Sep 6, 2004 -
Richard Dawkins discusses religion with a Darwinian outlook.
RD: Could religion be a recent phenomenon, sprung up since our genes underwent most of their natural selection? Its ubiquity argues against any simple version of this idea. Nevertheless, there is a version of it that I want to advocate. The propensity that was naturally selected in our ancestors was not religion per se. It had some other benefit, and it only incidentally manifests itself today as religious behavior.
posted by skallas
on Sep 3, 2004 -
It is well known among the computer elite, who are mostly Atheists and Pagans, that Pokemon's pro-Darwinism propaganda
posted by isol
on Aug 15, 2004 -
The Pope to Women: "get back in your place"
- The Vatican, fearing it may still share some semblance of the same reality as the rest of us seeks to rectify this problem by telling women that they should stop hoping for the same things as men have. "The obscuring of the difference or duality of the sexes has enormous consequences on a variety of levels," the document said, asserting it has inspired ideologies that "call into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father."
It also warned of challenges to fundamentals of church teaching, saying the blurring of differences "would consider as lacking in importance and relevance the fact that the Son of God assumed human nature in its male form."
posted by Space Coyote
on Jul 31, 2004 -
We have all seen online quizzes to aid in making important life choices. For instance, this quiz
purports to guide you in making career choices. Confused about religion and seeking to find a faith that suits your beliefs, now we have Belief-O-Matic
posted by caddis
on Jul 30, 2004 -
, the new novel by Brooklyn-based Contemporary Press
, just got denied
a reprinting by St. Louis-based Plus Communications
. Although they printed the first edition less than one month ago, the publisher says that their religious clients would be upset by the book's 'language' and have refused to reprint it.
I guess that is in the same spirit as Rev. Breedlove's attempt to rekindle
the tradition of book burning earlier this month.
posted by Miyagi
on Jul 28, 2004 -
You may not have heard of Jansenism.
But on May 1, 1727
one of its more prominent members, Francois de Paris, died. He was a popular fellow for his charitable works and lots of people visited his tomb. That's when things got weird. At first it was just a bunch of people claiming to have been cured of things like "cancerous tumors, paralysis, deafness, arthritis, rheumatism, ulcerous sores, persistent fevers, prolonged hemorrhaging, and blindness."
Then things started to get really weird
...The mourners also started to experience strange involuntary spasms or convulsions...the 'convulsionaires,' as they came to be called, displayed...the ability to endure without harm an almost unimaginable variety of physical tortures....
These events lasted years and were witnessed by thousands as well as commented on by the likes of David Hume and Voltaire. Louis-Basile Carre de Montgeron investigated it for the Paris Parliment and published La Vérité des Miracles
in three volumes detailing the events. The tortures were asked for by the convulsionaires. Montgeron details one time when while having an iron drill hammered into a convulsionaire's stomach he, "maintained an 'expression of perfect rapture,' crying, 'Oh, that does me good! Courage, brother; strike twice as hard, if you can!'"
posted by john
on Jul 23, 2004 -
"How do we nurture the healing side of religion over the killing side? How do we protect the soul of democracy against bad theology in service of an imperial state?
OVER THE PAST few years, as the poor got poorer, the health care crisis worsened, wealth and media became more and more concentrated, and our political system was bought out from under us, prophetic Christianity lost its voice. The Religious Right drowned everyone else out. And they hijacked Jesus. The very Jesus who stood in Nazareth and proclaimed, 'The Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.' The very Jesus who told 5,000 hungry people that all of you will be fed, not just some of you. The very Jesus who challenged the religious orthodoxy of the day by feeding the hungry on the Sabbath, who offered kindness to the prostitute and hospitality to the outcast, who raised the status of women and treated even the tax collector like a child of God. The very Jesus who drove the money changers from the temple. This Jesus has been hijacked and turned into a guardian of privilege instead of a champion of the dispossessed. Hijacked, he was made over into a militarist, hedonist, and lobbyist, sent prowling the halls of Congress in Guccis, seeking tax breaks and loopholes for the powerful, costly new weapon systems that don't work, and punitive public policies."
Bill Moyers on democracy excruciate.
posted by fold_and_mutilate
on Jul 15, 2004 -
Churchgoers get direction from Bush Campaign:
The instruction sheet circulated by the Bush-Cheney campaign to religious volunteers lists 22 "duties" to be performed by specific dates. By July 31, for example, volunteers are to "send your Church Directory to your State Bush-Cheney '04 Headquarters or give [it] to a BC04 Field Rep" and "Talk to your Pastor about holding a Citizenship Sunday and Voter Registration Drive."
Isn't this blatantly illegal?
posted by widdershins
on Jul 1, 2004 -
A View from the Eye of the Storm.
An Arab intellectual in Europe ponders on the Muslim world and comes to some interesting conclusions. Israel is a sideshow. Iran is the most dangerous country in the world.. in the long run the only way for us (the West) to win the war of terror is to force the problem nations to reform both politically and culturally.via Steven Den Beste weblog
posted by stbalbach
on Jun 25, 2004 -
"Jesus?" he murmured, "Jesus -- of Nazareth?..." Pontius Pilate
, is the only historical figure named in
the Nicene Creed
-- Coptic saint
or eternally damned
, his role in the greatest story ever told
has been debated by many of history's greatest minds: St Augustine
, Dante Alighieri
, John Ruskin
, Mikhail Bulgakov
, Monty Python
. Unfortunately, there is very little historical evidence
about him. His role in the death
of a certain
healer and apocalyptic
preacher is still being debated today
and historians alike
. He is also, of course, the main character of The Procurator
, the classic short story (complete text in main link) by Anatole France
. (France's magnificent story has lately been tragically neglected by publishers, even if the author was one of his era's most acclaimed writers in the world -- he won the Nobel Prize in 1921 over Shaw, Yeats, Joyce, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, and Proust, and when he died in 1924, hundreds of thousands of people followed his funeral procession
through Paris). These last 2,000 years of fascination with Pilatus
can be explained, some argue... (more inside, for those unwilling to wash their hands of this post)
posted by matteo
on Jun 24, 2004 -
Dear Leo, Dear Mohandas
"The longer I live -- especially now when I clearly feel the approach of death -- the more I feel moved to express what I feel more strongly than anything else... the doctrine of the law of love unperverted by sophistries. Love... the highest and indeed the only law of life".
The Kingdom of God Is Within You
(full text available) is Leo Tolstoy
's tractatus of "Christianity
Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life", a primer of (among other things) the doctrine of non-violence
. Among the many fans
of the 1894 book was an imprisoned
Hindu barrister, a "half-naked fakir"
if you want, a certain Mohandas
who was fascinated by "the independent thinking, profound morality, and the truthfulness"
of the book
. So he ended up writing fan letters to the great Russian man: who warmly wrote back to his young Indian "friend and brother". The old wise Christian anarchist
and the shy, insecure young man
who sparked a revolution: to paraphrase another wise, badly-dressed , pacifist old man
, "Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such men ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."
posted by matteo
on Jun 17, 2004 -
The Supreme Court ruled today
that Michael Newdow did not have standing to sue on behalf of his daughter in challenging the recitation of the pledge in a public school classroom in California.
posted by monju_bosatsu
on Jun 14, 2004 -
Pray For Reason
is a call to Americans of all religions and belief systems who want to see their country's policies at home and abroad based on facts, history, and reasonable thought processes.
My favorite: Dear God (in all your forms),
protect us from those humans among us who wish to direct the destiny of the world for their own gain. Bring them humility, compassion and enlightenment, and allow them to see the interconnection of all beings. (Or bring down upon them a rain of burning rocks, whichever strikes your fancy.)
posted by amberglow
on Jun 11, 2004 -
currently under consideration in the Ohio General Assembly would force public schools to "display the official motto of the United States of America 'In God We Trust' and the official motto of Ohio 'With God, All Things Are Possible' in each classroom, auditorium, and cafeteria of each school building in the district." Ohio Public Radio reports here.
posted by Otis
on May 20, 2004 -
Unitarians denied tax-exempt status in Texas.
Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn ruled that Unitarian churches don't qualify as religious organizations because they lack a single creed. In issuing this ruling, Strayhorn ignored the fact that lower courts and the Texas Supreme Court have both ruled against the Comptroller's Office in an ongoing lawsuit stemming from a similar ruling (by a former Comptroller) in 1997. Strayhorn has vowed to continue the legal fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, stating that "Otherwise, any wannabe cult who dresses up and parades down Sixth Street on Halloween will be applying for an exemption." (if you run into userid/password issues, use "firstname.lastname@example.org" and "privacy")
posted by Irontom
on May 19, 2004 -
Interactive Church Music Player
The LDS Church has created a cool new tool for exploring its hymnbooks: a Flash application that not only shows the sheet music, but allows transposition, tempo changes, part selection, and all kinds of other nifty things.
posted by oissubke
on May 16, 2004 -