Friday, December 10, 2004

Well, I'm off at 6AM, I'll blog after Christmas

I'm flying out at 6AM in the morning to Orlando Florida, my parents are already there. I'll leave you with an online Christmas quiz.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
You are 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing'. You take
Christmas very seriously. For you, it is a
religious festival, celebrating the birth of
the Saviour, and its current secularisation
really irritates you. You enjoy the period of
Advent leading up to Christmas, and attend any
local carol services you can find, as well as
the more contemplative Advent church services
each Sunday. You may be involved in Christmas
food collections or similar charity work. The
midnight service at your church, with candles
and carols, is one you look forward to all
year, and you also look forward to the family
get together on Christmas Day.

What Christmas Carol are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Merry Christmas to all. May our Lord's birth be good to you all.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The best Lutheran comedy magazine ever

Finished my interview final for Islamic Mysticism, did pretty well, though I ended up biffing a question about Al-Arabi. I think I'll end up with an A in that class.

A really bad joke in poor taste

The following is supposedly an actual question given on a University
Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so
"profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic
(absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law
(gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So
need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the
at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that
a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different
Religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions
that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.
Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do
belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of
souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of
change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in
for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the
of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which
enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase
until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls
Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes
over. So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by
during my Freshman year that, "it will be a cold day in Hell before
sleep with you, and take into account the fact that I slept with her
last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell
exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory
that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting
any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven
proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last
Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A piece from Sojourners

Don't put a restraining order on God
by David Batstone

In Cupertino, California, a public school teacher ignited a cultural powder keg this semester when he supplemented the standard-issue history book with materials backing up his contention that religion was central to the founding fathers.

In New York City last week, several major television networks banned a paid advertisement produced by the United Churches of Christ. The commercial features a core value of the UCC church - that it welcomes with grace all people into its community regardless of an individual's background.

These recent, high-profile events give us a clear view into the often muddled moral values debate that rages from shore to shore in America today. They show both cultural conservatives and cultural liberals using the same arguments to restrict public conversation. More pointedly, each side of the polar (as in cold...war) divide is happy to ban a message from the public square if that message does not align with its own cherished beliefs.

I expect a spirited debate from both ends of the spectrum, so better to address the assumed frontline counterattacks. Liberals claim they are upholding the cherished separation of "church and state" when they put a restraining order on God from entering public schools. The Constitution, however, nowhere stipulates that religion should be deemed a taboo subject in public life. The state (and by extension public schools) is prohibited from the establishment of religion, indeed. But that's a far cry from outright exclusion.

Steven Williams wants to teach his fifth-graders how deeply Christian values shaped early America. So he passed out to his class William Penn's "Frame of Government of Pennsylvania" in which Penn wrote, "Government seems to me a part of religion itself, a thing sacred in its institution and end."

Talk about crossing the church-state wall! With that kind of pedigree, we should kick Pennsylvania out of the Union posthaste. Wait a minute, put Delaware on that list as well. A list of religious clauses in the 1776 Delaware state constitution requires officeholders to "profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son."

To ban any reference to religious conviction in the early history of America would be rewriting history. So that's ridiculous. But the complaint goes deeper in the Cupertino case, because Williams is a practicing Christian who wants his students to realize that faith in God continues to be an important element in government. A parent of a student at the Cupertino school complains, "This is not about teaching history, this is about indoctrination."

I honestly do not know if Williams is directly proselytizing in the classroom. I bet not, though I would not be surprised if he hopes that a seed of faith might be planted in his students' lives. For most secularists, it does not matter. Any teaching about religion in history or contemporary life is akin to "indoctrination."

Cultural conservatives likely are standing atop their chairs cheering at this point. But why don't they apply that same enthusiasm to defend the right of the United Church of Christ to proclaim its message on national television? It's because they are no less interested in legislating their own narrow stream of moral values. They, too, want all Americans to be converted into their own image.

After reading all of the hype about the "controversial" commercial, I went to view it on an Internet site. I was totally shocked at how innocuous it was. In my opinion, it also captured the gospel stories of Jesus accepting into table fellowship those very people that his society deemed as "unclean." Like it or not, UCC theology and ethics has a firm grounding in the biblical tradition of grace and freedom.

The commercial does not address gay marriage as much of the conservative media would lead you to believe. It does not even address the gay lifestyle, beyond showing two men who fit the stereotype approaching the church steps and being turned away by a bouncer. At another point, two women standing together smile broadly at the camera. I suppose that's the offensive "lesbian" moment.

But even if the United Church of Christ did promote more directly its theological position that God blesses gay people, even to marriage together, is that sufficient reason for censoring its message? I hope you agree with me that it is not, for I would like to reserve that same open platform for other faiths and other values. Surely, we could all come up with extreme, destructive viewpoints that do not merit public access, whether they offer divine justification for their values or not (the KKK comes to mind). But that's not the case here.

Maybe the toughest challenge of living in a democracy is to respect the freedom of other people to live according to values that are not your own. Real freedom, however, does not thrive in a moral vacuum (the ardent secularist) or a moral straightjacket (the ardent theocratic). What does my ideal of democracy look like? I can sum it up in a single sentence: A person arrives at faith freely, practices it openly, and uses dialogue with others about their own life path to deepen their understanding.

And we snub the world again

At the beginning of this year's conference on global warming, the head of the Climate Change Convention had seemed to be offering an opening to the US.

It was suggested that in the next phase of action after 2012, countries might be able to pursue different routes towards a similar end.

The US mantra has been that it is committed to addressing climate change but has simply chosen a different path.

But if it was an olive branch, the US has brushed it aside.

Dr Watson, who is leading the American delegation here, told a news conference that this was not the moment for the US to reassess its policies.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The questions for Wednesday

The questions
1. Miracles. Do you believe in them? Do they change your outlook on the cosmos in any way?
2. Without using entrenched religious rhetoric describe God. Can you?
3. What is the point of the book of Job? Is Job a real guy or a parable?
4. If Jesus is the perfected Adam, as Paul says, then is he still of the flesh or spirit only?
5. How should we take Song of Songs? Is God the lover and humanity the beloved? or is it a song between two humans? If both how?
6. What is up with all the sacrifice and such pre-Christ? Did God ordain those things or is it something else?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Al-quada's last attack

Well, there was a new tape, now there is a new attack... typical pattern. I'm wondering if they can reach outside of the Middle East? Of course if you count the Spainish thing too... but then again that was an entirely different issue, for example they made sure no one was killed.
Anyway, I'm wondering if a containment ring against terror would have been better than a war on terror?

How empires start

This is a really brief account of how the British started their empire.

He says we're already creating human-animal hybrids

Check out this article, there are some alternatives to stem cell research, like creating imperfect humans to harvest, or harvesting embryos pre-programmed to die.
On one hand I'd love for someone to grow me a new heart so I don't have to worry about the pain and trauma of surgery any more, on the other hand stem-cell research is kind of a gray area that I do not have enough scientific knowledge about to make a real judgment.
Back to studying.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

This looks kind of good

I generally don't blog on Sunday, but I saw this video clip and thought it looks like it will be a good (more entertainment style good, not intellectual good) show, "Ramses: wrath of God or man?"