Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blackalicious : Make You Feel That Way

Money Quote...

All up in her vibe something coming over me
Summer days more likely that you notice breezes
Winter days more likely that you notice heat
When I'm warm more likely that you notice me
In the dark it's more likely that you notice light
In the light more likely that you notice night
Hungry more appreciation for that meal
Dead broke more appreciation for that grill
A bad day'll make you really notice ones that's good
And that'll make things a little better understood
Times I feel I wanna shout, man it's real that way
When I think of things that make you feel that way
Make you feel that way...(Blackalicious)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Logic and Relativism

But one would have to believe in the objective standards of sound reasons and effective inquiry – i.e. “logic” – to advance such an argument in the first place. But the only way one can believe in such a standard is to also be convinced of its value. Which is to say, logic as a cognitive standard can only be rationally judged to be of any value if one is rationally satisfied that one ought to reason in such a way. But any claim of “ought” is ultimately an ethical claim. Any claim that one “ought” to reason logically is a claim about the Right thing to do, the Good form of reasoning, the Valuable method of inquiry.

Lest there be any lingering doubt, the above argument does indeed place various ethical propositions at the very foundation of even the possibility of reasoned inquiry. Before there can be science, before there can be logic, before there can be any concern for truth at all, there must first be an accepted axiom that such things are good. So any attempt to quarantine relativism to “merely” an ethical claim is doomed to have that quarantine shattered by the rational necessity of an ethical commitment to the truth. Gary Herstein

Patty Wickman, A Thief in the Night

Patty Wickman, A Thief in the Night [1996], oil, 72 x 115.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Gang Starr - Discipline

Money Quote...

And just because I want to it don't mean I will
And just because I'm angry it don't mean I'd kill
And just because she looks good, it don't mean I'd hit it
And just because I'm horny, it don't mean I'm widdit
Just because I make records, don't mean that I'm gassed
And just because I'm rappin, don't mean I chase ass
And just because I'm whylin, don't mean I can't stop
I got discipline baby whether you do or not
Gang Starr

Friday, June 19, 2009

The video is a artistic depiction of hell and then heaven as seen on a elevator ride. It's interesting how people's view of heaven is often hellish. In the video there is not much difference between heaven and hell. Case in point is that Arnold Swarchenegger has a prominent place in both. Anyway this stuff is fun to think about.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Scientists" Concealing Information

The "studies thus far find that between 8 percent and 21 percent of homosexually parented children ultimately identify as non-heterosexual," the psychologist wrote. "For comparison purposes, approximately 2 percent of the general population are non-heterosexual. Therefore, if these percentages continue to hold true, children of homosexuals have a 4 to 10 times greater likelihood of developing a non-heterosexual preference than other children."

However, those researchers who found such differences "nonetheless declared in their research summaries that no differences were found," the report said. Bob Unruh

HT Creative Minority Report

The Church and the Fiction Writer

Henry James said that the morality of a piece of fiction depended on the amount of "felt life" that was in it. The Catholic writer, in so far as he has the mind of the Church, will feel life from the standpoint of the central Christian mystery; that it has, for all its horror, been found by God to be worth dying for.

To the modem mind, as represented by Mr. Wylie, this is warped vision which "bears little or no relation to the truth as it is known today." The Catholic who does not write for a limited circle of fellow Catholics will in all probability consider that since this is his vision, he is writing for a hostile audience, and he will be more than ever concerned to have his work stand on its own feet and be complete and self-sufficient and impregnable in its own right. When people have told me that because I am a Catholic, I cannot be an artist, I have had to reply, ruefully, that because I am a Catholic I cannot afford to be less than an artist. Flannery O'Connor

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper

Some interesting commentary on Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper.
The painting is a demonstration of how the brain works and a revelation of how belief conditions our senses of reality. It is not an attempt to illustrate one moment in time. That apparently was too simple for Leonardo. If you approach the work with the idea that it illustrates the words ‘one of you shall betray me’ all the figures in the painting assume poses that clearly respond to those words with shock honor and revulsion. One of the principles of Renaissance communication was that the position of a figure revealed character and emotion.

On the other hand if you shift the message you hold in your mind to the institution of the Eucharist, “Take this and eat: this is my body,” the meaning of the apostles’ gestures change before your eyes in response to this first call to communion. Think of it, two completely separate ideas in two different moments in time being simultaneously conveyed.

The mural is filled with irreconcilable contradictions. The table is too large for the space its in, yet too small to accommodate the apostles. Christ is enlarged (astonishingly this is almost never observed) so that seated he is as tall as Matthew and Bartholomew who are standing. Because Leonardo is interested in saying two different things at the same time, the painting can be read left to right where the apostles on our left have only heard the announcement of betrayal and those on the right are responding to the theme of the Eucharist. On the other hand, Christ is also speaking directly to us with his dual nature expressed in his two hands, his nervous right simultaneously referring to the treason dish and a glass of wine, his left offering redemptive self-sacrifice. It’s important to understand that the apostles are not aware of the entire gesture. They, after all, can only see Christ in profile. Only we can see how all the forms in the painting converge on the triangular form of Jesus to represent his divinity.

Of course for us the question is why would the most lucid mind in human history introduce so much ambiguity in a work that intends to affect its viewers? Ambiguity incidentally is a military term that means to be attacked from two sides at once. The answer may have to do with the way we process information. The human brain is a problem-solving organ, a characteristic that probably is at the center of our dominance over other species. The brain frequently remains inert until a problem is presented to it. In the case of The Last Supper, the profound ambiguity it contains alerts and stimulates the brain into action. DaVinci clearly believed that ambiguity was a way of arriving at the truth. As a result, the painting moves us in a deeper and more profound way than any direct statement. (Milton Glaser Inc.)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Unintended Consequences Wolverine Style

[FYI... this video is gruesome and drops the F bomb]

This video is what I think of when I hear people being excited about the coming singularity between humans and computers.

Holy Shroud Dating

Shroud of Turin

New transparent carbon dating testing should be done.

HT Mark P. Shea

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Andy McKee - Into the Ocean

I hope to create a life that is as beautiful to God as McKee's performance of this song is to me.

Literary Gaming

Dante's comedy goes pop...

Yes, in 2010, as the frankly mad-looking trailer for Dante’s Inferno has it, you too will be able to “Go to Hell”.

Anyone expecting a faithful interactive representation of the Commedia’s sorrow and pity will be somewhat taken aback. Made by the developers of last year’s outer-space zombie shooter Dead Space, the game recasts Dante as a muscle-bound anti-hero, carving his way through the Nine Circles with a scythe and a cross to liberate his girlfriend from Lucifer.

As he lies around, “punishing” or “absolving” the damned souls surrounding him, the disembodied voice of Virgil provides instructive quotations from the poem. The creators have even promised to recreate the topography of the Inferno, an uncannily good fit for the levels of a computer game. In short, it sounds like amazingly good fun. Tim Martin

Meaningful Work

This article really struck a cord with me.

A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this.

Nor can big business or big government — those idols of the right and the left — reliably secure such work for us. Everyone is rightly concerned about economic growth on the one hand or unemployment and wages on the other, but the character of work doesn’t figure much in political debate. Labor unions address important concerns like workplace safety and family leave, and management looks for greater efficiency, but on the nature of the job itself, the dominant political and economic paradigms are mute. Yet work forms us, and deforms us, with broad public consequences.Matthew B. Crawford

Emotion and Rationality

Here is a quote in regards to an error in the economic understanding of rationality.

The word "emotional" has overtones of irrationality, but actually emotion is at once a form of telescoped thinking (it is not irrational to step around an open manhole "instinctively" without first analyzing the costs and benefits of falling into it) and a prompt to action that often, as in the case of investment under uncertainty, cannot be based on complete or even good information and is therefore unavoidably a shot in the dark. We could not survive if we were afraid to act in the face of uncertainty. Richard A. Posner

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Washed Away

Some more old school for ya...

Money Quote...

Why we let them wash it away ?
Why are we allowing them to take what's good ?
why don't we teach our children
what's real ?
Why don't we collect and save what is real ?

Theology and Science Fiction

This is what I refer to when my wife complains about me watching Star Trek season 1 on Netflex.

Outgrowing God is indeed a favorite theme of science fiction and fantasy. Evolution/technology/aliens/time travelers from the future/computers/what-not are always just about to prove that God does not exist, life after death is a fantasy, the soul is a function of matter, man is but a sophisticated meat machine, Jesus never existed, etc. And yet the astonishing thing is that science fiction and fantasy are absolutely awash in theological speculation. Lots of it is pagan, in the Chestertonian sense. That is, it is an attempt to reach God through the imagination, hampered by the inability to conceive of something truly outside the created world. The result is a sort of quasi-supernaturalism that acknowledges planes of existence beyond the human, but refuses to entertain the notion of angels and demons.
Mark Shea

HT The Sci Fi Catholic

Law, Economics, and Justice

An interesting study...

The bottom line: students taught by economically-minded professors were both more selfish and more likely to see fairness as a form of kaldor-hicks efficiency. By contrast, students taught by humanists were more generous and also likely to see fairness as a matter of equity. Dave Hoffman

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Star Trek Gospels

Since the new Star Trek movie is out I thought that I would post this quote.

When I think of Luke, I think of the Dr. "Bones" McCoy on Star Trek. He seems like your archetypical family doctor: down-to-earth, sensitive, compassionate, and thoroughly human. Matthew and his Gospel seem more kingly, like Captain Kirk. John and his Gospel seem more prophetic and philosophical and mystical, like Mr. Spock. But Luke seems more priestly and more doctorly, like "Bones" McCoy. Matthew emphasizes morality and the will. John emphasizes wisdom and the mind. Luke emphasizes compassion and the feelings. To complete the Star Trek analogy, Mark is the practical engineer Scotty. Peter Kreeft

I have also seen the Star Trek characters connected to the Myer-Briggs personality types. I wounder if this fits with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John's personality?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Equality, Sanctity of Life, and Atheism

To understand Singer, it's helpful to contrast him with "New Atheists" like Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins. The New Atheists say we can get rid of God but preserve morality. They insist that no one needs God in order to be good; atheists can act no less virtuously than Christians. (And indeed, some atheists do put Christians to shame.) Even while repudiating the Christian God, Dawkins has publicly called himself a "cultural Christian."

But this position creates a problem outlined more than a century ago by the atheist philosopher Nietzsche. The death of God, Nietzsche argued, means that all the Christian values that have shaped the West rest on a mythical foundation. One may, out of habit, continue to live according to these values for a while. Over time, however, the values will decay, and if they are not replaced by new values, man will truly have to face the prospect of nihilism, what Nietzsche termed "the abyss."

Nietzsche's argument is illustrated in considering two of the central principles of Western civilization: "All men are created equal" and "Human life is precious." Nietzsche attributes both ideas to Christianity. It is because we are created equal and in the image of God that our lives have moral worth and that we share the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nietzsche's warning was that none of these values make sense without the background moral framework against which they were formulated. A post-Christian West, he argued, must go back to the ethical drawing board and reconsider its most cherished values, which include its traditional belief in the equal dignity of every human life.

What they haven't considered, however, is whether Singer, virtually alone among their numbers, is uncompromisingly working out the implications of living in a truly secular society, one completely purged of Christian and transcendental foundations.

Singer resolutely takes up a Nietzschean call for a "transvaluation of values," with a full awareness of the radical implications. DINESH D'SOUZA

Problem With Neurotheology

Here is a quote but read the full article to the point.

Skeptics used to argue that anyone with half a brain should realize there is no God. Now scientists are telling us that one half of the brain, or a portion thereof, is "wired" for religious experiences. But whether this evolving "neurotheology" is theology at all is doubtful. It tells us new things about the circuits of the brain, perhaps, but nothing new about God. Kenneth L. Woodward

Quantum Phenomena

Read the whole article but this is some amazing stuff...

Stranger still is entanglement. When two photons get "entangled" they behave like a joint entity. Even when they're miles apart, if the spin of one particle is changed, the spin of the other instantly changes, too. This direct influence of one object on another distant one is called non-locality.

These peculiar properties have already been proven in a lab and tapped to improve data encryption. They could also one day be used to build much faster computers. Some philosophers see quantum phenomena as a sign of far greater unknown forces at work and it bolsters their view that a spiritual dimension exists. GAUTAM NAIK

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

"It's realer than real, for real, for real"

De La Soul is one of my all time favorite hip hop groups.

Money Quote:

Or the chalk might outline ya one day
You oughta try steppin' outside you one day
You circle round yourself like you the answer
To the question of your inner son
But keep ya falsehoods to a minimum

Rest of the lyrics here

"pointers to God"

Collins says belief is ultimately a matter of faith—that God's existence can't, in the end, be proved by science. And yet he sees plenty of "pointers to God," natural phenomena that imply the existence of a biblical God. Here are Collins's "pointers":

  • There is something instead of nothing.
  • The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics, which make simple and beautiful laws.
  • The Big Bang: out of nothingness, the universe came into being. That cries out for explanation, since we have not observed nature to create itself . . . it causes us to postulate a creator, and the creator must be outside of time or you haven't solved the problem.
  • The precise tuning of the physical constants in the universe. If gravity was a little weaker, things would all start flying a part. You can see a creator in these constants. Francis Collins

The Deadliest Catch

The wife and I have been watching The Deadliest Catch to wind down the day. The series has gotten the two thumbs up. What makes the show fascinating is the type of people that have a calling to that kind of work. These fishermen are somehow able to give up control to the ocean. They are not normal. They work days with only a few hours sleep. They are constantly exhausted moving 800 lb cages in and out of the water. One false move and they are in the ocean with a high likelihood of death. You don’t last long in the cold water and survival highly depends on how well they work together. They do all this just to make a living. It takes a certain type of person to be able to thrive in that kind of environment and it shapes them all in very similar ways although I really can’t put my finger on how. I guess you can say that they are the salt of the earth type people.

I think by watching the show you can get a feel for what Peter and Andrew must have been like before they dropped their nets to follow Jesus. It also give some great insights into the metaphor of the bark of Peter. The ocean gives and it takes away. Maybe in some ways these men are more in touch with reality because the stakes are so high and they know that they are not in control, the ocean is.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Rembrandt's Jewish Bride

(Click on Image)
She is weighing up the responsibilities of loving and being loved, of receiving and of giving. It is not by chance that her other hand rests upon her womb, since children are the ultimate responsibility of married love.

Love binds, love weighs, love is the most serious experiences that we can ever know in our life. It is Rembrandt's awareness of this profound truth, and the glorious visual beauty with which he makes it accessible to us, that makes the "Jewish Bride" so unforgettable. Sister Wendy Beckett

Prolife Movement Weakness

In the Biblical story of David and Goliath, David initially put on a coat of mail and a brass helmet and girded himself with a sword: he prepared to wage a conventional battle of swords against Goliath. But then he stopped. “I cannot walk in these, for I am unused to it,” he said (in Robert Alter’s translation), and picked up those five smooth stones. What happened, Arreguín-Toft wondered, when the underdogs likewise acknowledged their weakness and chose an unconventional strategy? He went back and re-analyzed his data. In those cases, David’s winning percentage went from 28.5 to 63.6. When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win, Arreguín-Toft concluded, “even when everything we think we know about power says they shouldn’t.Malcolm Gladwell

The prolife movement is in the underdog position. As such it needs to acknowledge its weakness and chose an unconventional [indirect] strategy. The weaknesses as I see them and a quick answer….

  1. It makes us uncomfortable to make others uncomfortable. (blessed are those that mourn)
  2. We don’t want to look intolerant. (blessed are the meek)
  3. We don't want to be judgmental. (blessed those who hunger and seek righteousness)
  4. We don’t want to make people face hard realities and give up potential goals and resources. (blessed are the poor)
  5. We fall for the compartmentalization of separation of Christian ethics from government. (blessed are the pure of heart)
  6. We don’t like to fight. (blessed are the peacemaker)
  7. We don’t want to further hurt those who have had abortions. (blessed are the merciful)
  8. We don’t want to be hated. (blessed are persecuted for seeking righteousness for my sake)

The unconventional strategy should be to follow Jesus in the beatitudes without hesitation.

Divine Freedom

Friday, May 01, 2009

"So What'cha Want"

I'm feeling a little old school. Here is the money quote...

Let it flow like a mudslide
A when I get on I like to ride and glide
I've got depth of perception in my text y'all
I get props at my mention 'cause I vex y'all

So what'cha what'cha what'cha want (what'cha want?)?
A you're so funny with the money that you flaunt (that'cha flaunt)
Where'd you get your information from huh?
You think that you can front when the revelation comes?

You can't front on that!

Practical Romance

And the key thing is to be held to account for the risks and rewards of the romantic adventure. Chesterton writes: "If I bet I must be made to pay, or there is no poetry in betting. If I challenge I must be made to fight, or there is no poetry in challenging. If I vow to be faithful I must be cursed when I am unfaithful, or there is no fun in vowing. . . . For the purpose even of the wildest romance results must be real; results must be irrevocable." And marriage, he says, is the ultimate example of a real and irrevocable result. (BRAD MINER)

Evolutionary Pantheism

Nevertheless, if we develop Darwin’s insight, we can see the emergence of purpose, as of life itself, by small degrees, not from above, but by small increments, from below. The first purpose was the organization of matter in ways complex enough to sustain and replicate itself—the establishment, in other words, of life, or in still other terms, of problems and solutions. With life emerged the first purpose, the first problem, to preserve at least the improbable complexity already reached, and to find new ways of resisting damage and loss. Brian Boyd

There is a line with evolution where you are no longer doing science and enter the realm of religion. The above quote is more theology than science. The author is constructing a modern creation myth. Anthropomorphising evolution as if it has a master plan to create purpose to solve problems is a lot like saying that gravity wants to keep me connected to the planet.

It is essential to keep theology separate from science. There is a tension between the two points of view that makes it more likely to question. Giving the why questions the same answer as the how questions makes the world one dimensional. If evolution becomes the only reality then there is no need to question. Any question that is asked has the answer of evolution and because of this there is no longer any need to think or question.

Mathematic Agnostic

The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics creates many intriguing puzzles: Does mathematics have an existence entirely independent of the human mind? In other words, are we merely discovering mathematical verities, just as astronomers discover previously unknown galaxies? Or, is mathematics nothing but a human invention? If mathematics indeed exist in some abstract fairyland, what is the relation between this mythical world and physical reality? How does the human brain, with its known limitations, gain access to such an immutable world, outside of space and time? On the other hand, if mathematics is merely a human invention and it has no existence outside our minds, how can we explain the fact that the invention of so many mathematical truths miraculously anticipated questions about the cosmos and human life not even posted until many centuries later? Mario Livio

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Forecasts for the Future

This stuff scares the shit out of me. Good thing I have my tinfoil hat, daisy bb gun air rifle and 20 year old Mormon food storage left to me by my mother in law. I'm ready for Armageddon.

Catechism of the Catholic Church on Torture

2298 In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.
Sad state of affairs when you have to state the obvious. Torture is wrong.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Samurai Saints

ROMA, November 26, 2008 – A samurai carrying the cross is not a conventional image. But there were some of these among the 188 Japanese martyrs of the seventeenth century who were proclaimed blessed two days ago in Nagasaki. There were noblemen, priests – four of them – and one religious. But most of them were ordinary Christians: farmers, women, young people under the age of twenty, even small children, entire families. All of them were killed for refusing to renounce the Christian faith.

The beatification of "Fr. Peter Kibe and his 187 companions" – as the title of the ceremony put it – was the first ever celebrated in Japan. The new blesseds joined 42 Japanese saints and 395 blesseds, all of them martyrs, elevated to the honors of the altar beginning with Pius IX.

The new blesseds were martyred between 1603 and 1639. At the time, there were about 300,000 Catholics in Japan, evangelized first by the Jesuits, with St. Francis Xavier, and then also by the Franciscans. Sandro Magister
HT Mark P. Shea

Monday, April 27, 2009

Religion involves the whole person

Here is a quote for my anonymous buddy to freak out on in the comments section.

But religion, once the glow of conversion [to atheism] had worn off, was not a matter of argument alone. It involves the whole person. Therefore I was drawn, over and over again, to the disconcerting recognition that so very many of the people I had most admired and loved, either in life or in books, had been believers. Reading Louis Fischer’s Life of Mahatma Gandhi, and following it up with Gandhi’s own autobiography, The Story of My Experiments With Truth, I found it impossible not to realise that all life, all being, derives from God, as Gandhi gave his life to demonstrate. Of course, there are arguments that might make you doubt the love of God. But a life like Gandhi’s, which was focused on God so deeply, reminded me of all the human qualities that have to be denied if you embrace the bleak, muddled creed of a materialist atheist. It is a bit like trying to assert that music is an aberration, and that although Bach and Beethoven are very impressive, one is better off without a musical sense. Attractive and amusing as David Hume was, did he confront the complexities of human existence as deeply as his contemporary Samuel Johnson, and did I really find him as interesting? A N Wilson

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gianna Jessen

Babies might be more conscious than adults

Modern science has largely agreed, spending decades outlining all the things that babies couldn't do because their brains had yet to develop. They were unable to focus, delay gratification, or even express their desires. The Princeton philosopher Peter Singer famously suggested that "killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all."

Now, however, scientists have begun to dramatically revise their concept of a baby's mind. By using new research techniques and tools, they've revealed that the baby brain is abuzz with activity, capable of learning astonishing amounts of information in a relatively short time. Unlike the adult mind, which restricts itself to a narrow slice of reality, babies can take in a much wider spectrum of sensation - they are, in an important sense, more aware of the world than we are. Jonah Lehrer

Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

Pieta by Cassy King

My dad showed me this beautiful poem in the paper ceated by Cassy King.

Mary Grieves.

How hard it must be,
to balance the mangled body
between her knees
and in her mind.

Draped like the folds of her dress
he spills across her.
One arm hangs like a broken wing.

She sits because
she cannot rise,

what she holds in her mind
is more than a prayer
more than a plea

words, yes,
and memories
spill over the sides.

She longs to speak to
one more time
to wake him
have him brush her cheek
to tell him
all the thing whispered
when he was young

Things she taught him,
Things he learned on his own,
Things he just knew:

How to lace his sandals;
the meaning of woman
touching his garment hem;
His soul too large to cradle;

She wonders without thinking-
Alpha and Omega - Is this
the end or the beginning?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Review of In Bruges

Last Judgment Workshop of Hieronymus Bosch (This painting is used give a Twilight Zone style ending to the movie)

The CD jacket said that In Bruges is a dark comedy. If it wasn't for this, I probably would not have known it was a comedy. It's like those British comedies that are sometimes on PBS late at night. I can feel the jokes flying over my head. The laugh track only highlights that I don't get it and it's quite frustrating for me. In Burges doesn't have a laugh track but I didn't laughed once during the movie. Due to my track record with British comedies, I can only assume the the problem resides in me and not in the movie.

Starting this review out with my little issue you would think that I didn't like the movie In Burges. The truth is that I liked the movie. The movie has a rich layer of meaning to analyze and it has a good ending that reminds me of the old Twilight Zone episodes.

In Burges is about two hit men Ray and Ken who hide out in a small medieval town named Bruges. They are hiding in Burges due to Ray accidentally killing a young boy while taking out the Priest he was paid to kill. The hit men's boss, Harry, tells Ken that the murder of the child caused too much publicity and he orders Ken to kill Ray for his mistake. While Ken is about to kill Ray he stops Ray from killing himself. Ray wants to kill himself due to guilt of having killed the innocent boy. Harry then goes to Burges to kill both Ken and Ray due to Ken refusing to kill Ray. Then the movie ends with a showdown. The movie is more complicated than this but this gives a quick overview.

In Bruges asks the question, in a post-Christian world how do you gain redemption? Ray goes into a confessional to kill a Priest that has a hit out on him. Ray shoots the priest and while the priest tries to run an innocent boy is hit in the cross fire while praying in a pew waiting for his confession. To me this was analogous to saying that by rejecting the Church you threw out the baby with the bathwater and the rest of the movie looks into how to you gain back what was lost.

Harry's means of redemption in the movie was to follow a strict unforgivable honor code but when he thinks that he has not fulfilled the letter of his own law he commits suicide. Kens means is to suffer and die for his friend but even by doing this he may not have the power to redeem his friend. Ray's only means is true remorse and trying to cling to the good. The movie doesn't give an answer to the question. It leaves the answer for the viewer to ponder. I have to give the movie props because it does ask the question in a honest way. There are some gruesome scenes but if you have a strong stomach I would say go see it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jimi Hendrix - The Wind Cries Mary

I know this song is not technically about the Virgin Mary but about Jimi's girlfriend. I reserve the right to interpret and hear whatever suits me in art so for me the songs is about the Mother of our Lord. Anyway it's a great song and at the very least you will get a good laugh at the two white dudes with Afros.

Prisoner's Dilemma

Economics as a science has helped improve the lives of many people and I am thankful for this. But economics tends to overreach science into the realm of ethics. The economic principle of "rationality" is one example of this. Rationality is defined by economics as someone acting to maximize their own "utility". That is, to act in their own best interest. On a scientific level this is not true. There are many times when people do not act in their own best interest but for a greater good. Since people don't always act "rationally" economics then moves from the level of science (what is) to the level of ethnics (how people should act).

From a Catholic perspective rationality requires the theological virtues of "faith, hope and love" because without these virtues it is not possible to see reality. If your not reasoning from the perspective of faith, hope, and love then the reasoning will be faulty. According to Christ there are times when we should act counter to our own self interest.

I want to look at game theories scenario of the "prisoner's dilemma" to look out how economics theory reasons how people should act. Here is the scenario...

Two suspects are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated both prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal. If one testifies (defects from the other) for the prosecution against the other and the other remains silent (cooperates with the other), the betrayer goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence. Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation. How should the prisoners act? Wikipedia

There are a lot of assumptions to the argument which I will not quote to make the reasoning valid (you can go read them yourself) but here is the economic conclusion...

In the classic form of this game, cooperating is strictly dominated by defecting, so that the only possible equilibrium for the game is for all players to defect. No matter what the other player does, one player will always gain a greater payoff by playing defect. Since in any situation playing defect is more beneficial than cooperating, all rational players will play defect, all things being equal. Wikipedia

In game theory you never pick a strictly dominated position. So in the case of both suspects being innocent, according to the game theory logic, you should still make up a story about the other prisoner so you don't get 10 years. The scary thing about this is that our legal system is actually set up to make this scenario with plea deals. The problem is that the question, "What is the right thing to do?" is not considered because it stands outside the bounds of economic, "rationality".

The other issue that I have is that by fitting real life situations into this model you lose perspective on unknown risks. For example, You could be haunted with guilt for ten years or after 10 years of plotting the betrayed prisoner will get out of prison and execute his revenge. Those "unintended consequences" are bound to turn up when you oversimplify a situation and fit it into an artificial economic model.

From the Christian perspective I think the following is true, "Blessed are those who pick a strictly dominated strategy for a greater good."

It is important to understand the economic principle taught by the prisoners dilemma. Lawyers, economist, and politicians are probably going to go with a dominate strategy and we should factor this in when making our decisions of what is the right thing to do. If not you may be faced with the Charley Brown Dilemma....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Incarnation of Mercy

...openness to Christ, who as the Redeemer of the world fully reveals man himself, can only be achieved through an ever more mature reference to the Father and His love. Although God "dwells in unapproachable light," He speaks to man he means of the whole of the universe: "ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made." This indirect and imperfect knowledge, achieved by the intellect seeking God by means of creatures through the visible world, falls short of "vision of the Father." "No one has ever seen God," writes St. John, in order to stress the truth that "the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known." This "making known" reveals God in the most profound mystery of His being, one and three, surrounded by "unapproachable light." Nevertheless, through this "making known" by Christ we know God above all in His relationship of love for man: in His "philanthropy." It is precisely here that "His invisible nature" becomes in a special way "visible," incomparably more visible than through all the other "things that have been made": it becomes visible in Christ and through Christ, through His actions and His words, and finally through His death on the cross and His resurrection.

In this way, in Christ and through Christ, God also becomes especially visible in His mercy; that is to say, there is emphasized that attribute of the divinity which the Old Testament, using various concepts and terms, already defined as "mercy." Christ confers on the whole of the Old Testament tradition about God's mercy a definitive meaning. Not only does He speak of it and explain it by the use of comparisons and parables, but above all He Himself makes it incarnate and personifies it. He Himself, in a certain sense, is mercy. To the person who sees it in Him - and finds it in Him - God becomes "visible" in a particular way as the Father who is rich in mercy." (Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia)

Doubting Thomas

Doubting Thomas, Caravaggio

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
But he said to them,
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe."
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." John 20:24-29)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spiritual Self Experimentation

I am going to do some self experimentation to try to develop some virtue. Yes it's time to use science as a means to holiness. To biblically proof text what I'm doing Paul tells us to,
"Test everything; retain what is good." (1Thes 5:21) and that is what I'm going to try to do. Seth Roberts in this 10-minute talk has two main points when doing self experimentation.

1. You learn by doing not over thinking an experiment. You will learn what’s wrong with your experiments by starting to do them.
2. When you do something, do the smallest easiest thing that will help, that will tell you something you don’t know.

The problem that I want to address is my lack of progress in holiness. Every time I go to confession it is the same sins that occur at about the same incident of occurrence. This has been happening for the past 8 years and it is amazing to me how consistent my confessions have been. When I was younger I always thought that with age comes wisdom and holiness. All I needed to do was to go to church on Sunday and try to be a good person and I would continue to grow. It hasn't been working out like that.

So here is what I am going to do. Every night I am going to do an examination of conscious, record my sins using a short hand that no one but me will understand , and pray an act of contrition. In a month, I am going to go to confession and I will see if I made progress. I can tweak and tinker from there. There are a lot of types of spiritualities and devotions that I want to try out but for now I am going to stick with Seth's point number 2.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rihanna - Umbrella

I think people are really stressed out right now. If it's not the economy then it's the culture wars. If your wearing thin then listen and sing along with this song. This song is very meaningful to me when listening to it like Christ is singing the song. The lyrics are here if you want to sing along.

Here is my favorite part...

These fancy things, will never come in between
You're part of my entity, here for infinity
When the war has took its part
When the world has dealt its cards
If the hand is hard, together we'll mend your heart

When the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I'll be here forever
Said I'll always be your friend
Took an oath I'mma stick it out 'till the end
Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella

Review of Religulous

I just wanted to point you to a review of Religulous that I really like. In the interest of full disclosure I wanted to say that review was written by my sister. It is still a good review even if I'm biased.

Review of Let The Right One In

The movie, Let The Right One In, starts with a 12 year old boy named Oskar who looks to be on the path of becoming a serial killer. Oskar is a vulnerable boy and is mercilessly harassed by bullies. Oskar's cereal killer type fantasies come from a desire to get revenge and gain freedom from the bullies. A young girl, Eli, moves into Oskar's apartment complex along with an elderly man. The girl turns out to be a vampire and the elderly man kills people for blood to keep Eli alive. Eli and Oskar become friends and through their relationship Oskar is able to grow and defend himself against the bully. The closer the relationship between Eli and Oskar becomes the more healthier Oskar seems to get. The old man get's caught. Eli kills the bullies and Oskar takes on the new role that was left void by the old man's death.

The movie is not scary, as in I didn't have a fight or flight reaction when watching it. There was some gruesome scenes but this is not the true source of the horror in the movie. The horror came 5 minutes after the show ended when something was nagging at me. After getting emotional connected to Oskar and Eli's relationship and even cheering them on, the horror then came with the realization that the movie was about pedophilia. The movie is told from the perspective of a sex offender and how the offender rationalizes the process of grooming a victim. The horror comes from the moral level of cheering on a sex offender.

Vampire movies are about sex. The Vampire's taking of blood symbolizes the lust of making someone a piece of meat for ones own desires. The tension always comes with how this is violently opposed to how Christ, gave his blood, by laying down his life for his bride the Church. From the view of a sex offender everything that is done is good for the victim. Oskar was vulnerable and really had no one he felt he could turn to until Eli came and used this vulnerability to groom Oskar to be a victim. It was Oskar who let Eli in, yes he was open to it, but to truly believe this you have to rationalize and ignore what Eli did to groom Oskar to get to that point. This is what a pedophile and sex offenders do. At the end of the movie there is a quasi-baptism scene. Oskar is held under water at a swimming pool by a bully and is about to die. Eli then comes to be the savior and kills the bullies and brings forth Oskar to a new life.

The point of view of the movie is that of a pedophile and as such the movie is sick.

There are some things that can be learned about sex offenders from the movie that can be used to protect children.

1. Looks are deceiving. Eli looks like an innocent 12 year old girl. The reality is that she was hundreds of years old and that her motives were anything but innocent. Sex offenders like religion because they can use it to easily gain trust to gain access to children. Anything that has power for good has the power for evil. That is why, as someone once said, the corruption of the best is the worst. We need to be aware that there will always be a Judas in the Church.

2. The process of grooming a victim. Sex offenders spend a lot of time fantasizing about how they are going to perpetrate. Sex offenders are very good at manipulation and they know how to use people's weaknesses to get what they want. An analogy of how it works it that they hand the victim a hand grenade and pull the pin. This puts all the pressure off the perp and onto the victim. The victim and the sex offender know that no matter where the victim throws the grenade that the truth is going to hurt someone. As parents we need to make sure that our children are supported and love so they are not as vulnerable to sex offenders. As parents we need to make sure we let our children know that it is ok for them to tell us anything and that we can handle it and take care of it. If we do have reason to believe that a child is being abused we need to contact law enforcement or child protective services.

3. Sexual perpetration is repetitive. The movie shows how Eli got ride of the old man. The old mad poured acid on his face when he got caught so no one would know who he was to protect things from getting back to Eli. Eli went to the old mans window at the hospital. The old man willingly came to the window for Eli to drink his blood. She then disposed of him by throwing him out the window to his death. The movie gives clues that this process had happened repeatedly in the past. It is possible for sex offenders to stop but they will always have a strong temptation to do it again. The temptation will not go away in this life time and because of this perps should never have any access to children. It also means that if one victim is found that it is highly likely that there are a lot more.

If your are wondering why I know so much about sexual assault the reason is that I'm a social worker and I have conducted sexual assault investigations.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The only serious argument against God

Two Reasons Not to Give Up

With the constant chattering about gay, "rights" I think it's important to remind ourselves what we are fighting for. Here are two reasons not to give up on the fight against same-sex marriage

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Theological Virtues and Reason

Atheist seem to set up a false dichotomy between faith and reason in a very similar way that Protestants make a false dichotomy between faith and works. The reality is that you can't separate faith and reason just like you can't separate faith and works. The categories overlap. Faith without works is dead because we need faith working through love. The same is true with faith and reason. Any basis of reason has to have a starting point that is unprovable, reason requires faith. Human reason is connected to not only to faith but also hope and love. It is impossible for humans to see something without placing value upon what is seen. You don't just see a tree but a big or small tree, a beautiful or ugly tree. Reason requires not only faith but also hope and love. This is because without faith, hope, and love humans are not able to see reality. Reality that has its foundation in Christ.

Atheist, Nones, and Religion

My sister brought this to my attention. I think it fits into the, how not to be a turkey, as a Church.

Trapped in the Drive-Thru

Life can get too serious so here is a Weird Al song to groove to. Weird Al always improves the song that he parodies.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Miracle of Life

From Catholic Media House

The Degradation of Art

Conversely the degradation of art has never been more apparent. And the most widespread form of degradation -- more widespread even than the deliberate desecration of humanity through pornography and gratuitous violence -- is kitsch, that peculiar disease that we can instantly recognise but never precisely define, and whose Austro-German name links it to the mass movements and crowd sentiments of the 20th century. ROGER SCRUTON

And later...

Simply put, kitsch is a disease of faith. Kitsch begins in doctrine and ideology and spreads from there to infect the entire world of culture. The Disneyfication of art is simply one aspect of the Disneyfication of faith -and both involve a profanation of our highest values. Kitsch, the case of Disney reminds us, is not an excess of feeling but a deficiency. The world of kitsch is in a certain measure a heartless world, in which emotion is directed away from its proper target towards sugary stereotypes, permitting us to pay passing tribute to love and sorrow without the trouble of feeling them. It is no accident that the arrival of kitsch on the stage of history coincided with the hitherto unimaginable horrors of trench warfare, of the Holocaust and the Gulag -- all of them fulfilling the prophecy that kitsch proclaims, which is the transformation of the human being into a doll, which in one moment we cover with kisses, and in the next tear to shreds.ROGER SCRUTON

Handing Out $5 Words: Kitsch


(/kɪtʃ/) is the German and Yiddish word denoting art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art. The term kitsch was a response to the 19th century art whose aesthetics convey exaggerated sentimentality and melodrama, hence, kitsch art is closely associated with sentimental art. Moreover, kitsch (art) also denotes the types of art that are like-wise æsthetically deficient (whether or not it is sentimental, glamorous, theatrical, or creative) making it a creative gesture that merely imitates the superficial appearances of art (via repeated conventions and formulae), thus, it is uncreative and unoriginal; it is not Art. Contemporaneously, kitsch also (loosely) denotes art that is æsthetically pretentious to the degree of being in poor taste, and to industrially-produced art-items that are considered trite and crass. Wikipedia

Counter Arguemnt for Barbell Strategy

A couple of posts ago I talked about the Barbell Strategy which was to put 90% of your efforts into hyper-conservative efforts and then put 10% into highly risky. I have recently read the following quote that would challenge this idea.

Courage is the mean between recklessness and cowardliness. Here, narcissists are also at both extremes, never in the mean. Indeed, they are often bold or inordinately daring. Their inflated sense of superiority propels them to recklessness; for they are subject to fantasies of omnipotence and unequalled brilliance, and they feel that they are above the law. And it is this sense of superiority that allows them to underestimate the intelligence and determination of their adversaries.20 But they are not brave; they are cowards at heart. They lack the courage to gaze upon the dilapidated specter of their true selves, nor can they bear to look into the eyes of one who has discovered their true nature. They inspire terror only because we recognize that the inhibitions that govern the impulses of normal healthy persons are completely lacking in the pathological narcissist. They are psychopaths.21 The terror they inspire is a source of narcissistic supply that contributes to their sense of existing, which they need to counter the sense of their own nothingness, created by their immoral and unrepented choices.DOUGLAS MCMANAMAN

Not a good sign that the type of strategy that I just described in my barbell post is similarly described in reference to narcissism. Especially when reading Taleb's book I felt that there was a touch of narcissism to his writing.

I think Taleb's answer would be that the problem is that we do not know the scale of risk. It is unsure where the center point is between recklessness and cowardliness. It isn't even sure if there is a true linear scale. Because risk is fundamentally an unknown, making the center unknown, this is the precise reason the barbell principle is needed.

The other problem is that this theory doesn't really work for depicting Jesus' life due to him knowing the risk and were real courage resides. So my answer is that I don't know. I am going to have to think about it.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

absence of the personal God

A quote...

For related reasons, Europeans seem also to be living in a postreligious fantasy. Very few go to church or think of themselves as members of a church. Hostile to the various forms of repression caused by their nations’ religious past, Europeans generally see religion as little more than a source of injustice and repression, a multifaceted affront to the person and his rights. Just a few decades ago, European intellectuals prided themselves on being full of existentialist anxiety in the absence of God—but the contemporary European claims to be too enlightened to be moved, as a person, toward any kind of illusory transcendence. He refuses either to believe in God or to be haunted by His absence. But the longings that make a person more than a merely biological being remain just beneath the surface. The person remains miserably disoriented in the perceived absence of the personal God. Peter Augustine Lawler

Free Thinker

I have seen people categorize themselves as free thinkers as part of an argument for a certain point of view. This is a neat word trick on many levels. It's always cute to name your own position something that you would have to be crazy to disagree with. Who wants to be a slaved thinker or a brainwashed thinker? The term free thinker is used here to make the category do the thinking for us. Someone will say that I don't believe in God because I'm a free thinker. If you are not free to think that there is a God seems to me that this is a position that is less free. It's being used to limit the thinking options. If you are using the category of free thinker to discount a position before you actually think through a position then you are actually less free and actually doing very little thinking. People who use this term are really trying to limit thoughts and beliefs to a certain type. This term is used as a herding mechanism. Kind of iconic in that they are doing that which they usually accuse the Catholic Church of.

Lets think through the possibility of being a faithful Catholic and a free thinker.

We need to look at the nature of freedom. Freedom does not mean having no limits. If you put me into outer space, free from the restraints of gravity, I would have little freedom to get around. I would not be able to control my direction at all. Scientists are not free to think whatever they want in regards to the data of an experiment. If they do, they are no longer doing science. Artists are not free to draw a picture of a giraffe with a short neck because then it would not be a depiction of a giraffe but something else. So freedom of thought needs some level of restraint, a strong foundation, a starting point to get from point a to point b for thoughts to have any freedom and practical use.

Thinking is a lot like flying a kite. Your thoughts need to be connected to true data for them to be useful. A kite needs to be connected to a string that pulls back. If you let go of the string the tension comes off the string and the kite will fall to the ground leaving no freedom. The wind is like every day life and there is some freedom to move back and forth, up and down, but this freedom comes from the string providing tension.

The question then becomes how do we get access to the data that will give the tension for free thought. The secularist will answer that the data comes from science and personal experience. There is a couple of problems with restricting the data to these two points. The problem with science is that it only gives a certain type of data. Science gives us the objective facts for the material world. Science doesn't give much relevant data for questions that are the most important to my personal life. The data that I really need is the data of who I am, what I should do, my purpose, and my place in the universe. Science gives little relevant existential data. The secularist will respond that he is able to create his own data based on his own experience. The problem with this is that the data is not separate from oneself. It's like tying the kite string to the kite. There is not going to be enough tension to get the kite off the ground.

The data that is needed is Christ. Using Christ as the data does not make me less a free thinker just like the scientists conforming to scientific data doesn't make scientists less free thinkers. The reality is that the Logos, by providing the data, makes the act of free thought possible.

So how not to be a turkey? Don't fall for the idea that free thought equals a rejection of Christ and his Church.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Christian Barbell Strategy

I talked about Nassim Nicholas Taleb a couple of posts back and gave his analogy of the turkey. Another idea that I like a lot from Taleb is his barbell strategy. Here is a quote by Taleb that givs this strategy.

…the good investment strategy is to put 90% of your money in the safest possible government securities and the remaining 10% in a large number of high-risk ventures. This insulates you from bad black swans and exposes you to the possibility of good ones. Your smallest investment could go “convex” – explode – and make you rich.

This is very different from Aristotle ideal of the golden mean. The golden mean says that the best position between two extremes is the middle. The problem that I have with the golden mean is that Christ's life really doesn't fit this model. Jesus' life wasn't always moderate. Sometimes Jesus was incredibly radical. I think Taleb's barbell strategy looks more like how Christ lived his life.

In the majority (90%) of life's situations it's really a good idea to be hyper-conservative. If you live your life 100% conservatively you miss out on a lot of things that makes life worth living. Always playing it safe is just not fun. So there should be that 10% of life were you are ruthlessly risky to expose yourself to what Taleb would call the black swan and what I would call from a Christian prospective the Holy Spirit. You really don't want to go more than 10% because most attempts at innovation (mutation in evolution) fail.

If you take the golden mean when dealing with our society your are going to take on too much risk. Your going to take on too much crap and when things blow up your going to end up a turkey.

An Essentially Christian Plotline

There is a young man, different from other young men. Ancient prophecies foretell his coming, and he performs miraculous feats. Eventually, confronted by his enemies, he must sacrifice his own life—an act that saves mankind from calamity—but in a mystery as great as that of his origin, he is reborn, to preside in glory over a world redeemed. Tell this story to one of the world’s 2 billion Christians, and he’ll recognize it instantly. Tell it to a science-fiction and fantasy fan, and he’ll ask why you’re making minor alterations to the plot of The Matrix or Superman Returns. For reasons that have as much to do with global politics as with our cultural moment, some of this generation’s most successful sci-fi and fantasy movie franchises follow an essentially Christian plotline. Benjamin A. Plotinsky

I would disagree in that I do not think the reason is substantially political or cultural. I believe the reason is that truth is inherently interesting even if it's only true on an allegorical level.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Proper Ends (Goals)

How not to be a Turkey? (context)

Our society puts a high value on making and achieving goals. It's something that I like about American culture. The challenge of setting, striving for, and accomplishing a worthy goal is exhilarating. Lets do an experiment to see if you have the focus to accomplish the task given by this clip.

Goals have a dark side. Goals can mislead if they are not properly ordered. To speak like St. Thomas Aquinas, our ends need to be the good that we are truly seeking. The risk is overly focusing on things that will not really obtain what we are looking for. Like being too preoccupied to see the gorilla, there is a risk of striving for non-essential things that will fail to lead to where we truly want to go. Ultimately making you end up a turkey. So to end with a quote from Christ...

Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:31-34)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock attended a strict Jesuit school from age eleven to almost fourteen. He later recalled that the school placed particular emphasis on fear, realism, and reason as key traits of religion. Whatever Hitchcock may have said about the role of religion in his life and work, that education remained a lifelong influence. As McGilligan writes: “The fear, the realism mixed with fancy, the reasoning power and discipline of ordered thinking—these were the cornerstones of his art” (McGilligan 24). Not only that, but they helped shape his view of the world.

The mind behind Alfred Hitchcock’s body of work is preoccupied, even obsessed, with questions of goodness and evil, innocence and guilt. Screenwriter Arthur Laurents, who worked with Hitchcock on the 1948 film Rope, observed that it was “obvious to anyone worked with him that he had a strong sense of sin” (quoted by David Sterritt in the essay “The Destruction that Wasteth at Noonday: Hitchcock’s Atheology”). Rope itself is an excellent example of this, with its tale of two young men who are inspired to commit murder by their former housemaster’s Nietzschean philosophies about superior beings and their right to act as they please. Gina R. Dalfonzo

The article where I got this quote is a good read. Go check it out

Don't be the Turkey

When I started this blog, I was interested in what I called indirect apologetics. I got this idea through a book named, Strategy that looked at what made successful campaigns in war. The best strategy was to be unpredictable or to attack where it was least expected. Direct attacks were very costly and didn't tend to work. I tried to apply this idea towards bringing people to Christ.

It is time for a change in course due to the situation that Christians find themselves.

Instead of thinking exclusively on how to bring people into the truth of Christ. I am going to now focus more on keeping fidelity to Christ. I am going to try to tinker and take risks to do this.

Secular culture has been extremely effective with using indirect tactics against Christians. So the question that I am going to keep in mind is the following; How do you protect against the constant barrage of indirect attacks by the media and secular society so that you do not end up being a turkey.

I have been influenced by the book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb entitled The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. In Taleb's book he used an annalogy of the turkey. The turkey's every day experience confirms the belief that the owner cares for his best interest. Every day the owner feeds and gives waters to the turkey. This keeps going until the turkey reaches a maximum level of trust for his owner but then comes the chopping block.

What I want to do is to look for ways as a Christian, immersed in a powerful secular society, to not be the turkey.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Vs. Old Humanists

Here is an interesting quote,

The British Humanist Association is currently running a campaign against religious faith. It has bought advertising space on our city buses, which now patrol the streets declaring that "There probably is no God; so stop worrying and enjoy life." My parents would have been appalled at such a declaration. From a true premise, they would have said, it derives a false and pernicious conclusion. Had they wished to announce their beliefs—and it was part of their humanism to think that you don't announce your beliefs but live them—they would have expressed them thus: "There probably is no God; so start worrying, and remember that self-discipline is up to you." The British Humanist Association sees nothing wrong with the reference to enjoyment; it seems to have no consciousness of what is clearly announced between the lines of the text, namely that there are no ideals higher than pleasure. Its publications imply that there is only one thing that stands between man and his happiness, and that is the belief in God. Take that belief away, and we can run out into the garden of permissions, picking the fruit that we wrongly thought to have been forbidden. The humanists I knew as a young man would have reacted with disgust at this hedonistic message, and at a philosophy that aims to dispense with God without also aiming to replace Him. Roger Scruton

The old school humanists always had a problem. They didn't have a tangible answer to why make sacrifices when things get hard. Because of this they didn't have staying power. The old school humanists were depending on a residual Christian morality that the next generation is not going have. The humanist movement will always eventually drift to be hedonists.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Great Depression Cooking with Clara

I love these videos. I think it really shows what makes a life well lived.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Homosexuality, Experience & Tradition by Eve Tushnet

I found this very enlightening...

Experience & Tradition

by Eve Tushnet

One of the frightening aspects of loving somebody is the way that love can seem to offer unique access not only to pleasure but to truth. Love of another person-not only romantic love, but familial love and deep friendship as well-promises or threatens to reshape us completely. It can become the lens through which we see the world.

When I came out as a lesbian, provoked in part by a puppyish crush, I felt as though I had found the key that unlocked the secrets of the world. The only experience that has ever given me a greater rush of self-understanding was my conversion to Catholicism. The two experiences felt weirdly similar: both were frightening and illuminating, separating me to a certain extent from friends and family, yet both were prompted by love.

The rest can be found here...

The Crisis of Credit Visualized

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is the Pope obviously wrong on condoms?

My comments on a post.

It is hard to calculate the consequences of condoms because human behavior is complex. If you only look at the issue through an abstract level then I can see how the Pope's statements can seem like "obvious nonsense". A barrier of latex between someone and infected body fluid is going lower the risk of getting HIV. But if you look at all the complex variables, then it's not so clear if passing out thousands of condoms really lowers HIV in the long term. Condoms being readily available is going to have an element of risk compensation. People are going to act more risky because they feel more safe while using condoms. Does the protective benefit of condoms offset the risky behavior? I really don't know and there is no scientific data provided on this blog that would make this question "obvious".

The other variable that I think the Pope was trying to get at and which the author of this post was trying to separate from the popes comments is the question of whether people are actually going to consistently use condoms. This is the real issue.

The truth is that asking people to use condoms every time they have sex is like asking a fat person to have salad for every meal. It just not going to happen. Sure people will do it a couple times but in the long run using condoms get old. Using condoms is just not that fulfilling. So to sum up, condoms increase risky behavior but over the long term the average person is not going to use condoms consistently. This leads me to believe that what the Pope is saying has a lot of truth to it. And it's not because the Pope says that condoms are wrong, but because using condoms suck.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The stuff of life

Quote of the day:

A man who is holding down a menial job and thereby supporting a wife and children is doing something authentically important with his life. He should take deep satisfaction from that, and be praised by his community for doing so. Think of all the phrases we used to have for it: “He is a man who pulls his own weight.” “He’s a good provider.” If that same man lives under a system that says that the children of the woman he sleeps with will be taken care of whether or not he contributes, then that status goes away. I am not describing some theoretical outcome. I am describing American neighborhoods where, once, working at a menial job to provide for his family made a man proud and gave him status in his community, and where now it doesn’t. I could give a half dozen other examples. Taking the trouble out of the stuff of life strips people—already has stripped people—of major ways in which human beings look back on their lives and say, “I made a difference.”
By Charles Murray

Monday, March 16, 2009

Some thought for Christians

Some thought for Christians.

If you are not able to see why homosexuality is wrong, it does not necessarily follow that, because of this, homosexuality is therefore not a sin. It reminds me of the scientists who believed that, because they could not see anything in breast milk that was essentially different from baby formula, that therefore it was equal. Mothers in third world countries were given formula and encouraged to stop breastfeeding. When the formula ran out mothers were not able to feed their babies due to their breast milk drying up. Formula fed babies were more likely to die from diarrhea because they were not protected by the antibodies that is in mother's breast milk. Some studies have even shown that babies who have been formula fed have a higher incidence of lower IQ's. All these problems and more have occurred because these scientist's were not able to see all of the unintended consequences. There has to be the realization that reality is extremely complex, and there are a lot of things that we just don't know that we don't know.

Our society is very good at science, but this strength comes with the weakness and illusion that we know more than we really do. Science does not have anything to say about morality. Science tells us about the physical world, but it has nothing to tell us about what we ought to do. Philosophy alone does not have access to the data to gain the objective perspective on who we really are and what our end is. As Christians we have been given the data that gives the answers to know who we are and what we ought to do morally. Our data is Divine Revelation. The fact that evil acts sometimes looks like good is more reason to hold firm to the faith that was given to us by Christ.

Christians who are faithful to Divine revelation are going to be marginalized by secularists and tagged as a "hate group". It's already happening. And it's not because we "hate" those with same sex attraction but because we will not agree that homosexual acts lead society to good ends. We need to trust Christ and the deposit of faith that He gave us.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Secular Songs for Lent

Dave Matthews Let You Down Cover

Linkin Park - What I've Done