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The Maharishi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement, has died. He was somewhere around 91 years old.

I haven't done TM for over a decade, now, but it was a useful spiritual discipline which I grew up with. I did transcendental meditation from the time I was five, until, basically, I went to college, when I stopped. Yeah, I suppose it's more common to START doing TM when one goes to college, rather than STOP. . .

It was one of the things I was raised with, and was useful to me. And the TM movement has touched my life in, sometimes tangential ways, quite often.

At least one of my friends on my friendslist has been practicing TM since the Sixties. I THINK she's trained as an instructor, and she met several of her friends (such as Andy Kaufman) through it. The first ten years of Lis's employment history were at Lotus, a company founded by another TM instructor, Mitch Kapor.

So, the Maharishi has been a positive influence on my life, and I wish him well in his next incarnation, or as a bodhisattva or whatever it is he becomes next.
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Seems like it's after midnight here, which makes it Christmas Day.

Guess this means that we failed to win the War on Christmas this year. Well, there's always next year.
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So, I was thinking about that poster of Jesus washing the feet of various modern leader-type people -- including Osama bin Laden. And the controversy about it, and the things which people offended by it have been saying about what they believe about Jesus.

There was a comment that was made that many modern American Christians have all sorts of beliefs about Jesus, but lacking from their conception of Jesus is anything from Jesus's actual ministry.

And I was thinking about that. And it occurred to me how ironic it is that our dominionist folks in the United States are Christian. Because I couldn't really think of any religion in the world LESS suited to the message that the Christian Right tends to attempt to send.

I mean, their message is one of patriotism to the extreme of jingoism, strong leadership, admiration of the wealthy and powerful. And many other factors, too. Some of it is hard for me to verbalize, but I have a general feeling about what the Christian Right seems to want.

Now, I can think of religions throughout history that would dovetail perfectly with these -- the Roman state religion from the late Republic/early Empire period, for instance. Frankly, that's the religion that the Christian Right ACTUALLY wants. But you could twist Confucianism to fit these goals, without TOO much strain. There are historical forms of Judaism, and even some modern forms, that might be able to fit into this model, although the form and shape of Judaism that I practice wouldn't. The Norse religion, you could do it.

Taoism and Buddhism would be hard to shift into this mode, but there's nothing particularly in them that is AGAINST it. After all, the Samurai managed to find forms of Taoism and Buddhism that fit with their worldview, which isn't that far off from the worldview of the Christian Right.

But what of Christianity itself? That's the irony. How do you take a religion that was founded as a protest against a worldview, a religion that was designed to be a direct challenge to nationalism, earthly power, wealth, focus on crime and punishment, focus on sexual morality -- and use it to support a regime EXACTLY LIKE THE ONE IT WAS FOUNDED TO COMBAT?

I want to write an attack ad. "Jesus forgave a sinner. Jesus didn't support the war of freedom that his country was fighting. Jesus: soft on crime. Soft of defense." I bet, if I was Christian, I could actually pull that all together.

If all of y'all Christians want to write up a script for an anti-Jesus attack ad. . . I'm sure it's been done.
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First, you have The Other -- that which is from the other world, eerie, eldrich, weird.

Then you have people who notice that the time is like that, and use it to let loose their own chaotic side.

Then society notices this time, and finds ways to tame it, and channel it -- to let the channeling of chaos be directed into less-destructive means -- perhaps there is destruction, but it is a lesser level of destruction.

Society keeps working to lessen and lessen that destruction, and it becomes ritualized.

And then it becomes commercialized.

What is Hallow'een? Why are all the costumes nowadays pre-made, and slutty? Why can you not give out homemade goodies for trick-or-treating? Why do you give them out at all? And why, in more and more neighborhoods, are there no trick-or-treaters, and what does "trick-or-treat" mean, anyway?

First, you have the night of the cross-quarter day when the veil between the worlds is thinnest -- a delicate day, a careful day. One where one must be very careful about what one says or does.

Or you have the night of the Winter Solstice -- the darkest night of the year -- a day full of threat, and yet also promise -- a day sacred to the deity in charge of Revenge for the Romans, celebrated with feasts. And celebrated as the birthday of the human manifestation of the Christian God, and celebrated as a birth-and-death day of many other gods, as well. Also a perilous time.

And people notice that day, and respond to it -- but you have a second response: instead of spending the day being careful, you spend the day being as careless as you can.

Somehow, teenage males always seem involved in this step. And alcohol. Alcohol and teenage boys. These days -- and nights -- of peril and danger become days and nights of mischief and revelry.

"Revelry", by the way, is far from a completely pleasant idea. The word "revel" comes from the same root as "rebel". These are nights of danger in the most physical, brick-to-the-back-of-the-skull manner, as much as from the spirits which also form a danger.

And yet -- there is benefit to them, as well. "Rebel" and "revel" come from the same root -- and it may be that having the one inoculates against the other. Besides, entirely quashing these things never works. So you channel it.

Sure, it may be that there is a riot, a rebellion. But what if you formalize that rebellion? Elect a King and Queen of Misrule? Instead of having the drunken mob break into the houses and steal your food and drink, they stand outside and yell for you to bring it out to them. Yell? Perhaps we can do better, and make them SING for their figgy pudding and wassail bowl. Or, perhaps, instead of simply destroying your property, they'll give you a fair chance -- they'll offer you a deal -- if you don't want them to play pranks, such as setting your fields on fire, or putting your wagon on your roof, they'll give you a chance to bribe them. They'll offer you the choice: trick, or treat.

And as they get more formalized, they get less dangerous. Less terrible. They become for younger children -- not the drunken mobs of teenagers, but elementary school children.

We decorate a tree. Because the children enjoy it -- and we tell them stories of a jolly fat man who brings toys. Oh, sure, I guess if he divides people into good and bad, I guess he makes judgments, too, but we don't think about that. EVERYONE must be good, right?

And we've ritualized it to the point that we all know what to expect. It's ritualized to the point of being standardized. And, if it's standardized, then can't it simply be bought, rather than made? It's more efficient that way.

Just as the Fair Folk are a proud and terrible race, not to be named less they notice you and take offense, and yet fairies are little more than butterflies with human faces. How can Titania and Tinkerbell be of the same race? But we control our ideas, shrink them, make them less terrible.

What is an angel? I saw a quote once: some person wrote a book in which they claimed that everyone has a guardian angel, but many times, we overlook them.

And the quote asked, how the HELL is it possible to overlook an angel? An angel is a Messenger of God -- the problem with an angel isn't in OVERLOOKING it -- it's in not having the composition of your soul blasted to nonexistence by the inherent power of the radiant Glory of the angel. Angels can just about tone their existence down to the point where exceptional humans can SURVIVE an encounter with one -- NOTICING them isn't usually an issue.

How do you get from there to the idea of a cherub that you could, y'know, MISS?

We take the frightening, awesome things, ideas, and times of our life. And we make them safe. Christmas is a time for family, and presents, and not a time for overthrowing the social order and slaughtering the right in their beds and stealing their things. New Year's Eve isn't for getting drunk in public -- it's for the wonderful First Night celebration, with artwork, puppet shows, and fireworks. Halloween is for children dressed up like goblins, and not the real ones. And not even dressed up as real goblins, but dressed up as Willem Dafoe dressed up as Norman Osborn dressed up as the Green Goblin. And they trick or treat during daylight hours, since our government has so kindly extended Daylight Saving Time to make sure that they don't even need to experience the night during All Hallows' Night.

But.

There is only so far we can go. And we've gone too far. And that's why this one is bursting at the seams.

All that which we have repressed, pushed back, turned our clocks against -- it's all still there. And these times of year still touch it. We in Boston are fortunate in that we won the World Series and therefore were able to spend October 30th screaming and dancing through the streets, drinking, and watching our heroes dance Irish-influenced jigs through the streets of Boston, to Dropkick Murphys' music. That helped us.

But not the rest of you.

Why are there no non-sexualized costumes for women?

And why are there starting to be sexualized costumes for GIRLS?

What are we repressing, and where is it oozing out through the seams?
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They're both too suspicious of authority.

I mean, Mister Rogers is one of those people who tries to get people to think for themselves, and have empathy, which makes people tend to be a little worse at being Mindless Drones Of The Man, so that, alone, would keep folks from wanting his message to get out.

But Jim Henson . . . Henson was a deeply Suspicious Of The Man hippie.

I got the first two seasons of Fraggle Rock at Costco, and we've been watching them some. I'd never seen them when I was a kid because we didn't have . . . what channel was it on? HBO or something? Anyway, we didn't have it, so I never saw it.

The second episode, the lesson they're teaching kids? "Sometimes, 'slavery' feels like 'freedom'." So you have to be very careful NOT to let other people be authority figures. Because authority figures will make you feel like you belong, if you go along with their authority, but they are really just using you.

And the third episode. . . well, see, as far as the Gorgs know, whenever they go to the pump in the garden, like they do every day, they get water.

As far as the Fraggles know, at some point, every day, the pond drains out. But that's okay, because after that, the Pipe-Bangers come, and do the Pipe-Banging Ritual, and then the water flows and refills the pond.

And Doc, the human who lives in the house over where Fraggle Rock is? He's decided to fix the boiler so that the pipes stop banging. So he shuts off the water as he repairs the boiler.

The Pipe-Bangers are confused when their ritual doesn't work, so they get a NEW pipe-banging stick, by which time the water is turned back on, so the ritual works, and everybody is pleased with the Pipe-Bangers ritual.

What, exactly, is that saying about religion?
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Doesn't "Jack Chick" sound like the name of a gritty noir two-fisted detective hero?

And doesn't "Doctor Bronner" sound like the name of someone who might be a bad guy he was trying to put away?

It couldn't be a fanfic -- it would have to be a comic. But it would work.

"Yeah, Doc -- your syncretism might fool some of those mooks out there -- but you know as well as I do that it's a one-way ticket to hell. I know what you're up to -- and I'm going to take you down."
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Someone posted to [livejournal.com profile] weirdjews asking 1) if animals have souls, and 2) how wanting the body to decompose is compatible with a belief in bodily resurrection.

I think I've posted these theories before, but I can't remember. Oh, well -- if I have, that's what cut tags are for.
Read more... )
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So this story just popped into my head. It's really just a first draft, so if anyone wants to offer any suggestions, feel free.
Read more... )
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So, it's my impression that about a third of my friends list finds religion, either in general or specific, to be a very useful and good thing for them, about a third is more-or-less indifferent to it, and about a third is hostile to the ideas of it to some extend.

Oh, and that those thirds are NOT entirely disjoint sets -- there are people who like religion AND are indifferent to it AND are hostile to it. Um. I may be one of them, actually.

Anyway, this dance, which I got from [livejournal.com profile] vvalkyri, would be an example of one of the reasons I like religion.
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So, one of the people on my friends list was in a discussion on someone else's journal, about the nature of religion, and was mentioning the discussion, and I figured I should jump in and offer my 2 cents. And as long as I offered them there, I figured I could offer them here.

(As it turned out, my input wasn't actually useful, because people just sort of ignored it and said, "Well, despite all historical evidence and theological study which shows that I'm wrong, I still think I'm right." I eventually had to say, "Oh yeah? Well, YOUR definition of religion is WRONG, and mine is RIGHT, and I know this because people pay me $90 a week to teach their kids what religion is." I hate using "arguments from authority." I just kinda got frustrated. . . )
So, here's what I posted )
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So, over in another blog, Dwindling in Unbelief, the blogger is compiling a list of "How many folks did God kill, vs. how many folks did Satan kill, in the Bible?"

Obviously, Satan only even shows up in Job, so his total is 10. And God's is, of course, somewhere well in excess of two and a quarter million in enumerated deaths alone. Not counting "destroyed cities" and the like.

Far as I'm concerned, from how I understand Jewish theology, this really isn't much of a paradox -- nobody ever said God was nice.

To quote Sondheim:

You're so nice.
You're not good, you're not bad,
You're just nice.
I'm not good, I'm not nice,
I'm just right.


Also, from the way I understand Jewish theology, Job is one of those books, like Jonah and, arguably, Esther, that's really supposed to be a fairy tale more than something that you're supposed to take LITERALLY. So, really, Satan oughtn't get credit for even those ten. Which, again, is fine theology the way I see it -- Satan doesn't have the power to kill. And even in the book of Job, Satan is using God's power, not his own.

And, as can be expected, most of the comments to the thing are fairly moronic. I'm pretty sure that there's an inverse correlation between how fervently you hold your religious belief and how much theology you understand. So most theological arguments end up degenerating into competing camps of people yelling variations of "YOU'RE GOING TO HELL!!!!"

However, there are a couple interesting things there, and I responded to one of them.

Tom said...
That's quite paradoxical. As a human, our entire concept of cause and effect presuppose a time frame in which any given event takes place. Think about it...for you to claim that something 'caused' or 'created' something else, you have to have accepted the premise that the cause came before the effect.
So, in order for your Creator to live up to his name, time must have existed. Humans simply cannot fathom a "beginning of time", because the term 'beginning' implied that there was time BEFORE that event, in which that certain event never took place. Again, causation presupposes both existence and time. Either god is subject to the the constraints of time and therefore is not omnipotent or he does not exist at all.

That was an interesting enough comment that I decided to follow up with this: )
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Blame this on [livejournal.com profile] dakiwiboid. I got to it through her LiveJournal. And she got to it from Diane Duane's blog.

Anyway.

This is a discussion of, and, more importantly, a downloadable MP3 of, the worst rendition of "O Holy Night" ever done, anywhere. (And I'm including this one as one of the ones that is better.) The supposition is that this was an audition tape sent in for the Christ In Youth summer program talent show. By someone who, presumably, thought he had talent.

The first twenty seconds or so are just wince-worthy. Then the next twenty seconds are actively painful. But then, something changes. And it becomes Ed Wood-level great.

My stomach hurts from laughing too much. I may start listening to this clip in lieu of doing sit-ups.

The discussion is here:

http://www.thesneeze.com/mt-archives/000570.php

If you just want the goods, the MP3 is here:

http://www.hipcast.com/export/Pcdb6ba80abb10db44cedbd78f4ac15adYVhxQFREYmJ3.mp3
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So, I'm totally not "in the closet" about being Jewish at work. I'm a function bartender, and when we function bartenders and waitstaff are talking and getting to know each other, one of the basic questions that we ask is, "So, what ELSE do you do?" 'Cause most of us have other jobs, or school, or something. A fair number of folks basically do waitstaff stuff, but twenty hours for this temp agency, and thirty hours for that hotel, and another ten or twenty hours made up of whatever they pick up.

(By the way, if you're a congresscritter who's bitching about having to work five days a week at, y'know, Congress, note that that adds up to sixty or seventy hours a week, and no benefits, like health care. Just think about that -- that's an entire class of Americans, and that's considered normal. Some of them make sure to take time off once a week to go to church. Many of them have children. Those children tend to have two parents who love them very much, and would be more involved with them and their schoolwork and stuff -- except BOTH parents are working -- one sixty or seventy hours a week, and one twenty to forty, with no benefits. At that, they can probably pay rent on a crappy apartment, deal with some emergencies, and get enough food for them and their children, but can't save for retirement or college for their kids, and can't really pay for health care. Just think about if that's what you want your country to be. But that's not the point of this. Sorry for getting diverted. It's just that it's IMPOSSIBLE to not be political when you deal with people. 'Cause, y'know, that's what "politics" means -- "people". There are lots of different opinions about how things could and should be changed, but the one thing that it's impossible to do is to have NO opinion when this is directly about your life, and the lives of your friends, family, and co-workers. Like, the main reason I'm against crackdowns on illegal immigrants? Because I have worked with them, and like them, and they're cool people, and great to work with, and I want them HERE in the USA, where I can work with them and where they make the country better. The political is always personal.)

Anyway, my point is that you have the conversations, about "what else do you do when you're not waiting tables/tending bar/whatever". Some folks are college students, some folks are parents and are the primary caregivers of their children, some folks have other jobs, some folks are college students and have children and have other jobs (they're the ones with the dark circles under their eyes that NEVER go away). Me, I tell folks that this is my main job, and I teach Hebrew school on Sundays. So everyone knows I'm Jewish. Which is cool.

So, today, I was hanging out in the kitchen of the MIT Sloan Center Faculty Club, and the dishwasher turns to me. He's, I guess, maybe forty, maybe fifty or so -- could be younger with a rough life, could be older and aged well, dunno. I think he's from Chile or somewhere in that area -- he looks like he's got a little Indian blood in him somewhere, as well as Hispanic, and there's something about his face that just says "Andes" to me. He speaks perfectly reasonable English, although his accent is thick enough that you have to listen.

So, he says, "Hey, Rabbi." I grin and say, "Yep?" "I got a joke, about a rabbi and a Catholic priest."

Turned out it was one I know, but it's one of my favorites, so I didn't have to fake a laugh.

You know the one. I'm going to tell it about the way he did. 'Cause I liked his delivery.

A rabbi and a priest are friends, and one day, they're talking. The priest says, "So, rabbi, your laws say you can't have pork, right?"
"Yes."
"Well, you ever, you know, once in a while, go and have some?"
(Here, he kind of looks around, over both shoulders like he's checking for anyone listening.)
"Well, yes, once in a while, nobody's around, I'm in another town, maybe I'll have some pork, some ham, something."
"It's good, yes?"
"Yes. Well, your rules say you can't, you know, have any business with a woman, right?"
"That's true, yes."
"So? Do you?"
(He looks around, just like before.)
"Well, every once in a while, maybe, yes."
"Better than ham, eh?"

Why do I like that joke so much?

Well, in this case, because it was a Latino/Indian Catholic telling it to an Anglo/European Jew, in the kitchen of a function hall, while we were killing time and working together. That's why.
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So, I just went to the convenience store across the street to get a drink of juice (I have plenty of juice in the house, but I saw that Fonzi, the owner, was in, and I wanted to buy something and say hi), and he asked me whether Anna had put that thing up in my front yard for grapes or something, and I said that, no, I'd done that for a Jewish holiday. There were two other customers in the store at the same time, and they had both been wondering what it was, too, so I gave them the one-sentence summary ("Two thousand years ago, everyone would go to Jerusalem for the Jewish new year, but there was another holiday like a week or so later, so, instead of everybody going back home, they'd just put up those things and live in 'em for a week, and so we do that to remember it. 'Course, if you're in the Mediterranean, you can actually live in 'em -- around here it's a little cold for that, so it's more symbolic. But when I was a little kid, I'd sometimes get my sleeping bag and camp out in it, but I'm a little old for that these days.")

One of the folks said that he used to know a rabbi down on one of the streets around here that would do that, and I told 'em all that, next year, when I put the thing up again, feel free to ring my doorbell and I'll feed them, 'cause we're supposed to have guests over for it.

I like living in a neighborhood. I like having neighbors. I like being able to do weird Jewish things and have people ask me about them. It feels good, y'know? Our town has Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Unitarians, Congregationalists, Jews, Pagans, atheists, and all sorts of folks, so I feel comfortable talking about being Jewish. If you live around here, you've got to be more-or-less cool with other kinds of folks. Fonzi is, I think, a Lebanese-born Christian, although I'm not sure about either of those parts, and he's got no real problem with Jews, Muslims, Anglos, or anything.

The other thing I notice, and this is kind of unrelated to my first point, but I've been thinking about it for a couple days, anyway: I do religion because I like it. This is good, because it means that I've got no problem if other people DON'T like doing religion. If I didn't like my religion, but did it anyway, I'd be doing it because I felt I had to, and I'd get kind of put out of other people didn't do religion.

But, for me, I like religion, and I like role-playing-games, and, if you don't like doing religion, that bothers me exactly as much, and for exactly the same reasons, as if you don't like playing role-playing games. Which is to say, "not in the slightest," and "why should it?"
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I think it would be very interesting to have a polling firm do the following poll, throughout the United States. Two questions, but the second one would be a bit long:

1. With the caveat that you might be able to see exceptions in some cases, do you, on the whole, come closer to supporting or opposing the display of the Ten Commandments in public, not-overtly-religious buildings such as courthouses, town halls, or schools, and the like?

2. Please name as many of the Ten Commandments as you can.

Question 2 would be scored from 0 to, oh, about 14 or so, with half-points given for partial credit. The reason for going over 10 would be for people who could name multiple versions of commandments, including the "keep" and "remember" distinction in the commandment of the Sabbath, and between the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish versions. Actually, perhaps one would want to score from -1 to 14, to cover people who list things that aren't in the Ten Commandments, such as "Love thy neighbor".

I hypothesize that there would be no correlation between the "support" or "oppose" answer, and how many they could name. And that the average number would be somewhere around 2.
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Okay. It sucks, because I know so many people who are Christians who use their Christianity to be decent human beings. Yet I STILL have a visceral negative reaction to the word "Christian" -- even when, if I THINK of Christians I know, they are good people, and part of their goodness comes from and is shaped by their Christianity.

Then I see a story like this, and I say, "Yep, those are the sorts of things which caused my negative reaction in the first place."
My thoughts below )
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So, yeah. Apparently, some folks said that the Rapture was gonna be yesterday.

As far as I know, nobody I know vanished, but that was to be expected. I asked Lis if we could think of anyone who would vanish when the Rapture happened. Lis suggested Jimmy Carter.

I said, "No way. Carter would start to be Raptured, and he'd say, 'Listen, God, there's going to be all these tribulations and stuff coming, and folks are going to need help, so you'd better put me back down there so I can help 'em all out.'"

So, that's what I figure. The Rapture comes, and nobody who's expecting to be Raptured would be taken, of course, and the folks who WOULD be taken all say, "Forget it -- if there's gonna be nasty stuff coming, they're going to need me HERE."
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This one was at Temple Beth Avodah in Newton -- which is a GORGEOUS building -- well, actually, it's a nice building but GORGEOUS grounds. It's also off a maze of twisty little streets, all alike, so I was fifteen minutes late, but it all worked out okay anyway.

I've been working for Bruce Silverlieb for these parties, and I think he's fantastic. The parties all go off without a hitch, everyone has a good time, the staff is competent and totally together, and Bruce feeds us and is an AMAZING cook.

For this one, I was working with another bartender, and we were just serving mimosas, bloody marys, and soft drinks. But the parents of the bat mitzvah were old friends of Bruce's, so he wanted to make sure that everything was absolutely PERFECT.

Not that I've ever been anything less than absolutely perfect while working for him. Um, except for showing up fifteen minutes late today. Oh, and that time that I'm pretty sure that I served a kid with a fake ID. But other than that.

So, we were absolutely perfect. A bunch of people came up to us to compliment us on how nice the bar looked, and how smoothly we were making things run. My general answer to that is, "I know. That's just how good we are."

I got to chat with people during slow points. I talked to the, um, beadle, or maybe Shabbes Goy, or maybe custodian -- I don't know what his title is, but every Temple has one, and the whole place would fall apart without him (they're invariably male). He's from Peru, and looking at him, you can tell -- he looks mostly Peruvian Indian, with a little Hispanic mixed in. I really liked him. He rowed competitively back in Peru, at a yacht club he was a member of, he is planning to spend all day tomorrow swimming, because the place he lives has a pool and, "if you have a weekend like this, you don't waste it -- you know next Sunday is going to be cold, or raining, or something." Smart man.

I was also amused by one of his turns of phrase -- tomorrow, his plans are to get up early, "go and drop off my sins, and spend the rest of the day in the pool, before I go to work in the evening."

Isn't that a great phrase? I mean, it almost made me want to be Catholic for a second -- you can go and drop off your sins, like you take the garbage to the dump, and then, once the chore of emptying out all the ick in your soul is done, you can spend the rest of the day swimming. It's like, y'know, a maintenance chore -- one of those things that you have to do every week or so, so that your soul doesn't become stinky and attract flies and stuff.

I bet it works, too.

I also spent a few minutes chatting with a woman who works for an ambulance service, as a driver. I don't think she's a paramedic -- what she does is pick up and drive around people who are in wheelchairs. She was cool, too. She was going to spend tomorrow fishing with her father.

Um, I guess that's the most interesting folks I talked to, and now we're going to go off to [livejournal.com profile] roozle and [livejournal.com profile] sunspiral's beginning of summer party.
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[This isn't a humor post, or a political post. This is a history/theology geeking post. Just so's y'all know what to expect.]

First off, as you all know, the Number of the Beast is "616", not "666" -- the whole "666" thing is a transcription error. The earliest versions of the Book of Revelations have "616".

Second, as you all know, in Hebrew, every letter also has an associated numerical value, and Hebrew numerology is based around the numerical values of words.

Hebrew LetterValueNameEnglish Approximation of Sound
א1AlephSilent
ב2BetB or V
ג3GimmelG (historically, also could sound as j)
ד4DaletD (historically, could also sound as djz)
ה5HayH
ו6VavV, or oo, or oh (historically, sounded as "w", "oo", or "oh", and was called "waw")
ז7ZayinZ
ח8Chetkh (as in "Bach")
ט9TetT
י10YodY
כ20KafK or kh
ל30LamedL
מ40MemM
נ50NunN
ס60SamekhS
ע70AyinSilent, basically
פ80PayP or F
צ90Tzadets, as in "pizza"
ק100KufK or Q (a little more gutteral than K)
ר200ReshR, more or less
ש300ShinSh or S
ת400TavT, T or S in some dialects, T or Th historically


As an aside, I find it interesting that, historically, the following letters had two sounds:
Bet, B and V (no English equivalent of which I know)
Gimmel, G and J (the English letter "g" maintains both sounds)
Dalet, D and djz as in the French "gendarme" (no English equivalent that I know of)
Kof, K and Kh
Pay, P and Ph
Shin, S and Sh
Tav, T and Th

So, a fair number of the Hebrew two-sound letters made it into English. . .

Anyway, that's not what I'm posting about.

The Book of Revelations is clear that "616" refers to a person's name. So you need to find a name, or name and title, which adds up to 616.

How about קסר נרו ? That's 50+200+6 + 100+60+200 = 616. What are the English equivalents of those letters? NRV QSR. Of course, that "V" may be a "W", a "U" or an "O", and we need to add vowels.

NRO QSR. NeRO CaeSaR.

Hard to argue with that one. Emperor Nero pretty much deserved the title of "the Beast", and, for that matter, was the Emperor when the Book of Revelations was written.

So, my point is to just plain relax about the Book of Revelations. We KNOW what the "number of the Beast" is, and who it refers to, and why. It's not a great End-Times Mystery or anything.
xiphias: (Default)
Here's what snapped it all into focus for me. Flemming Rose, the editor of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, a right-wing paper, realized that Muslims are offended by physical depictions of Muhammad -- drawings and the like. He thought this was stupid. So he decided to get artists to draw Muhammad in cartoons.

So: a person decides to do something offensive, purely because it's offensive, in order to see how the people to whom it is offensive will react.

We have a word for that here on the Internet.

It's called "trolling."

And once you realize that, the whole thing makes sense. . .

September:
Jyllands-Posten newspaper of Denmark:
"MUHOMMED IZ The SUXX0RS!!!1!1! IZLAM SUXXXX! MUZL:IMS SUX!"

Almost every Muslim who hears about this:
"It's a troll. Ignore the troll. Don't feed the troll."

Jyllands-Posten newspaper:
Is mostly ignored.

A couple Muslims, here and there:
"D00d, you're being an asswipe. Stop it."

Nothing much happens. Months pass. Then the Jyllands-Posten newspaper gets it buddies involved -- after all, if your FIRST attempt at trolling fails, get a bunch of friends together and troll again:

"LOOKAETZ THE WEEERD MUSLIMS ALL OFF#ENDED CAUZ MUHOMMED SUXXXORS!!"

Again, not too much reaction, until, finally, JACKPOT! Finally, they get a troll to bite on the OTHER side!

They are given the gift of Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban, who bites exactly the way that Jylands-Posten HOPED someone would bite.

"OMG! WTF!1 YOU I KEEEEL j0000!"

Now, things have gotten good -- once you've got trolls on BOTH sides, THEN you're cookin'.

'Cause, at THIS point, you can't even be a REASONABLE person on either side without outside folks thinking you're allied to the trolls. And, in effect, at this point, if you're a reasonable person making reasonable points about the importance of freedom of the press, and secular society, or about the importance of multicultural respect, and treating other people's beliefs with dignity even if you don't agree with them -- well, then you ARE allied to one set of trolls or the other.

At this point, the only thing that reasonable, mature people can do is post the whole thing to LJDrama or fandom_wank, and point and mock the whole kerfluffle.

The problem is that this has become a flamewar with real flames. I mean, when we talk about incendiary rhetoric now, we're talking about actual, literal incendiary devices to go with it. And this rarely happens on the Internet, since few browsers have implemented POIP -- Petrol Over IP.

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