Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Uncomfortable truths

This is simply one of the bravest things I've ever heard. It's a Thanksgiving sermon by a certain Jim Rigby of Austin, Texas.

It begins with some readings from scripture, so skip ahead 10 mins or so if that bores you.

I read a lot of shrill condemnations of religion and its adherents on the net. Some of them may be justified. But too many just sound like the bigotry their writers perceive in others. A certain saying about beams and splinters comes to mind.

I myself have abiding problems with religion. But I have also met enough people who were devoutly religious, often in idiosyncratic ways, to know that many religious people are good, kind, generous, and tolerant of fundamental disagreement.

And for an example of the courage to face up to uncomforable truths, and in public, listen to Jim Rigby's sermon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Devil Speaks

Wandering through infernal regions of caustic fire, which to genius is a delight though to rationalists and angels it appears a torment, I saw inscribed on the air in letters of corrosive flame

New Sayings of Hell

Never pick your nose after chopping chillies – proverbial wisdom!

When man invented smilies, God and the devil put aside their differences for they both found them intensely irritating. >8^‡

All the sayings of hell are false.

Drink in the evening, repent in the morning.

Eye never saw the sun unless it became sunlike, said the philosopher. The devil replied, because the eye is a moist sphere, so is the world a moist sphere.

Cyber-luddite – one who disseminates his views using technology of which he disapproves.

I am a cyber-luddite.

Hypocrisy – the art of making friends.

The devil’s work is never done.

Cynicism - the fruit of knowledge.

Eat in the morning, work in the afternoon, sleep at night.

Desire is the work of the devil, guilt the work of religion.

I used to have friends, but really, it was my enemies who kept me going.

Damn braces! Use a belt.

Obstruct the doors! Cause delays! Be dangerous!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Gene for Reductionism Discovered!

Researchers at the University of Bog-End claim that there is an evolutionary advantage to being a reductionist.

“Many evolutionary psychologists have had successful media careers by embracing absurdly simple-minded and untestable versions of reductionism. Clearly having such views confers an adaptive advantage in the competitive world of tv punditry,” said Dr. Spangle Hopfkrauer, the lead author of the new study. “Success on tv confers status, enhances careers and brings in bags of cash,” he added.

“In the past people held the na├»ve view that reductionism had something to do with getting at the truth,” he continued, “but we have discovered that it is literally hardwired into the DNA of successful scientists. In the war to win research grants and get promotions this can be a big advantage.”

Dr. Hopfkrauer went on “This research may also have medical applications. There are millions of people around the world who insist on believing things we don’t. We cannot allow them to go on living in the dark ages of superstition and even raise their own children in a way we do not like. In about ten years we will have a successful treatment for this condition. By inserting the reductionist gene into all children at birth, we will ensure that future generations see the world correctly.”

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Parable for Our TImes

There was once man, his eyes wild with grief, who approached the Buddha saying "My whole day's work has gone down the toilet thanks to Microsoft. Please make this sodding programme work properly." Buddha replied saying "knock on every door in your village and if you can find one person who has never been screwed by Bill Gates I will fix your computer." The man quickly realised that suffering is intrinsic to Microsoft products and sought release from the endless cycle of trying to fix his Word document formatting only to have something else go wrong.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thought for the day

"It is a sign of a tiny mind to look for reasonable explanations…The universe is full of unreasonable things only capable of being explained unreasonably." Not Oscar Wilde but Doctor Who, in the shape of Tom Baker, in the story the Seeds of Doom by Robert Banks Stewart.

I'm thinking of using the first bit as the tagline for this blog.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More old news: God letting the side down

This is really too good not to post, even if it is past its sell-by date. It was a comment made by a certain Pastor Arnold Conrad at a rally for John McCain in Iowa:
There are millions of people around this world praying to their god whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Old News: The Republic in Peril

I have recently been investigating Philip K. Dick's so called "exegesis", and came across this:
The Constitutional guarantees of our country have been suspended for some time now, and an assault has begun on the checks and balances structure of the government. The Republic is in peril; the Republic has been in peril for several years and is now cut away almost to a shadow of itself, barely functioning. I think they are carving it up in their minds, deciding who sits there forever and ever, now. In the face of this no one notices that virtually everything we believed in is dead. … I’m trying to learn what the Lie is or what the Lies are, but I can’t even discern that any more. Perhaps I sense the Lie gone from the world because evil is so strong now that it can step forth as it is without deception. The masks are off.
Sounds eerily up-to-date, and the most prescient thing in it for me is the statement that without noticing it, almost everything we believed in is dead. I'm thinking here of the UK government's collusion in torture, the erosion of habeas corpus, the increasing state suppression of peaceful protest ... and nobody seems to give a damn. Of course the above was written about the US, and they have led the way the last few years. Hope our American cousins get a decent president next election. If they do, there's a chance things'll look up in the UK too.

The above quotation comes from Philip K. Dick, In Pursuit of Valis: Excerpts from the Exegesis (Lancaster, Penn.: Underwood-Miller, 1991), p.236. Dick wrote this particular passage in July 1974, in the midst of Watergate.