May 15, 2015

Fundraiser For The Temple Of Promise

The goal is a modest $60,000.

permalink | May 15, 2015 at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2015

Two Interesting Things In This Story

This story: man invites salesman into apartment; man gets naked without so much as a "by your leave;" offended salesman departs. But those aren't the interesting parts.

Interesting parts:

  1. The undressed man, Colin Maher, "said his religion requires him to be naked." Unfortunately for Mr. Maher, this story took place in Oklahoma where the state is not as enlightened as Indiana where this sort of statement would, assuredly, cause the police to immediately back off and release the perp who expressed his sincere belief that his rights were being substantially burdened. I think that would cover the window he kicked out of police car, too, if he can work it into his religion fast enough.

  2. But the real eye-grabber in the story is that the salesman was a door-to-door magazine salesman! Yes! Those are from back when we used to get eggs and bread delivered to our front door twice a week. Unless "magazine salesman" is a new euphemism for something like "marijuana dispensary operator," then this unnamed salesman actually walks from residence to residence to sell, face to face, subscriptions to stacks of paper that would be brought to the subscriber's home on a regular basis by the postal service. The subscriber would entertain himself for a time by perusing the magazine, even though it contained no audio or video files, just text and still photos. Once the subscriber finished perusing the magazine he just set it aside and either kept it or threw it into the regular household trash as there are almost never any environmental hazards in a magazine. So, rather than being able to return the used magazine to get a discount on the upgrade price of next month's magazine, you just get a whole 'nother magazine delivered and the process repeats. The cycle continues without end until either the landfill or the subscriber's home is completely filled. If it's the subscriber's home, then some distant relatives will come along and commit the subscriber to a facility where no magazines are delivered, thus bringing about healing or death, whichever comes first.

permalink | April 21, 2015 at 09:24 AM | Comments (2)

March 17, 2015

Presbyterian Church (USA) Votes For Same-Sex Marriage

The vote reported in the N.Y. Times stands at "87 presbyteries in favor, 41 against and one tied." The church has 171 presbyteries and 87 puts the vote just above 50%; but it's 67% of the presbyteries who have reported their vote. "'Finally, the church in its constitutional documents fully recognizes that the love of gays and lesbian couples is worth celebrating in the faith community,' said the Rev. Brian D. Ellison, executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, which advocates gay inclusion in the church."

But the opposition has been heard from too. "Paul Detterman, national director of The Fellowship Community, a group of conservatives who have stayed in the church, said: 'Our objection to the passage of the marriage amendment is in no way, shape or form anti-gay. It is in no way intended as anything but concern that the church is capitulating to the culture and is misrepresenting the message of Scripture.'"

And we all know that if it's in scripture, its interpretation can never change. We've seen this in the Presbyterian church (and other churches) before.

In the Civil War the church split over the issue of slavery. From the "Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America":

In the first place, we would have it distinctly understood that, in our ecclesiastical Capacity, we are neither friends nor the foes of slavery, that is to say, we have no commission either to propagate or abolish it. The policy of its existence or nonexistence is a question which exclusively belongs to the state. We have no right, as a church, to enjoin it as a duty or to condemn it as a sin. Our business is with the duties which spring from the relation; the duties of the masters, on the one hand, and of the slaves, on the other.

It goes on at length to point out all of the parts of the Bible that support slavery. But that wasn't good enough for the Confederate Presbyterians. They claimed that slavery improved the lot of Africans who were captured and brought here as slaves: "a gracious providence that they have been brought in such numbers to our shores and redeemed from the bondage of barbarism and sin."

They don't express an opinion on those African-Americans who were born into slavery, possibly of Presbyterian parents, who did not need to be redeemed from the bondage of barbarism and sin.

There's a lot more pretzel logic there, if you want to try to follow it. But really there's no need to go back in history. Just listen to those good church people who are not in anyway whatsoever anti-gay (not a bit, why some their best friends...etc.) but just have to adhere to what the Scripture says. Because you know that never, ever changes.

Polygamy, slavery, stonings, racism, genocide. It's all in the good book.

permalink | March 17, 2015 at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2015

Kirk Cameron's Big Night

Razzies for worst picture, worst actor, worst screenplay and worst screen combo were awarded to Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas.

The film has achieved the remarkable distinction of a 0% critics' rating on RottenTomatoes. Even the user reviews put it at only 31% approval.

On Metacritic, the numbers are different: 18% critics' rating (which is better), but only 1.6 (out of 10, IOW 16%) from ordinary viewers. All of the 5-star reviews from viewers sound like they were written by the same person, as they call claim radical transformations of the viewer. Like this one:

ATHEISTS: when you go to see this movie, do NOT go with your preconceived notions about Christianity. I went with mine and, well....I can in all honesty...they were utterly shattered. Kirk Cameron's speech to Christian in the car is so moving, so compelling, so convicting...I was brought to my knees in a moment of cognitive dissonance in which I ultiamately renounced my atheism because of an overwhelming desire to surrender my life to Jesus. I'm serious, guys. This film changed my life. And I really can;t say that about any other films.

Amazing. All these centuries of searching for the magic cure for atheism only to discover it in a really bad American movie. Makes you wonder why there aren't any good movies that shatter atheism.

permalink | February 22, 2015 at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2015

Greater Depths Of Stupidity Than Previously Known To Humans Have Been Found In Alabama

This amazingly stupid graphic has been brought to you by a group what calls itself Sanctity Of Marriage Alabama.
No Limit To Stupidity

Their website. Their Facebook page.

The group claims that the Alabama Attorney General has appealed the decision of U.S. District Court Judge Granade. Actually, he has said he will appeal to the 11th Circuit Appeals Court. He did ask the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of the decision; a request they denied. The group also says Governor Bentley "has promised to oppose the ruling and stand on the Constitution he vowed to uphold," but in this news article it sounds like the Governor's main concerns are image and jobs: "I don't want Alabama portrayed in a negative light because when it's portrayed in a negative light, it hurts me recruiting jobs into Alabama. And so I'm hurting families when I can't help people get a job in this state."

permalink | February 13, 2015 at 03:49 PM | Comments (1)

November 4, 2014

Shots Fired At Islamic Center In Coachella

Press Release: Shooting at Occupied Building-Mosque / Possible Hate Crime
Agency: Coachella Police
Station Area: Thermal
Incident Date: 11/04/2014 Time: 5:01 am
Incident Location: 84000 block of Avenue 49, Coachella


On Tuesday November 4, 2014 at 5:01 AM, Coachella Police officers were dispatched to a report of shots fired at an occupied building in the 84000 block of Avenue 49. Officers arrived at the location, Islamic Society of Coachella Valley, and determined that several shots had been fired striking a vehicle and the building. No injuries were incurred. The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The Coachella Police Department has Zero Tolerance toward criminal activity and will be vigilant in investigating all crimes. The Police Department encourages citizens to report any criminal activity. Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Investigator Kenneth Willow with the Coachella Police Department at (760) 863-8990.

permalink | November 4, 2014 at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

October 8, 2014

Nudists Testify Against Kansas Republican

Having a little bit of fun while running for a House seat. Representative Yoder skinnydipped in the Sea of Galilee, doubtlessly just like the Son of his God...but, hey, it's Kansas so nothing has to make sense.

permalink | October 8, 2014 at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

The LDS Response

Released on Monday afternoon:

The succession of federal court decisions in recent months, culminating in today's announcement by the Supreme Court, will have no effect on the doctrinal position or practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is that only marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable to God. In prizing freedom of conscience and Constitutional guarantees of the free exercise of religion, we will continue to teach that standard and uphold it in our religious practices.

Nevertheless, respectful coexistence is possible with those with differing values. As far as the civil law is concerned, the courts have spoken. Church leaders will continue to encourage our people to be persons of good will toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, and differences in sexual orientation.

permalink | October 8, 2014 at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2014

Owens Valley - 1940

Owens Valley 1940 from the film Brigham Young

In the 1940 Darryl Zanuck film Brigham Young, the Owens Valley in California played the role of the Salt Lake Valley in Utah as Brigham Young first saw it and announced "This is the place." The film showed Brigham Young (played by Dean Jagger who himself was baptized a Mormon in 1972) striding across this grand view of the Valley shot from the Sierra mountains above Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills, but I've edited it to remove the church leader from the scene.

Dean Jagger playing Brigham Young in the Sierra above Lone Pine
Dean Jagger as Brigham Young looking down on Owens Valley from the Sierra

Owens Valley 1940 from the film Brigham Young (2)
The other Mormons taking a gander

The movie itself is a moderately fictionalized version of the trek from Nauvoo to Utah which received the full endorsement of the Church of Latter Day Saints. From listening to the commentary on the DVD, I learned this expensive film was considered a Really Big Thing at the time, comparable to The Grapes of Wrath, but it lost money and over the years lost its fame. I think I probably heard about it during my visit to the Lone Pine Film History Museum.

Zanuck intended the persecution of the Mormons to be seen as a metaphor for the German persecution of the Jews (this was 1940). Apparently most people understood it that way too, even though the film had to be bit light-handed in suggesting that metaphor, since it simultaneously suggested the non-Mormon Americans were in the role of the Nazis. Early in the film Brigham Young delivers a fictional speech in which he expounds on the freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment from a 1930s point of view. In the 1840s it was yet to be settled whether the Bill of Rights applied to the states as well as the federal government.

The film includes scenes of the cricket invasion and seemingly miraculous appearance of the seagulls. Those scenes were shot in Nevada during a genuine cricket invasion where seagulls really did show up to complete the verisimilitude! In the commentary on the DVD it is said that the gulls did not show up until after the official church liaison to the production prayed over the day's shooting.

The film used some other beautifully mountainous area of the west to represent Council Bluffs, Iowa, and the area that would become Omaha some day. I'm not going to bother with that. I'm sure it brought much amusement to the residents of that area during the dark days of the early 1940s.

permalink | September 26, 2014 at 10:31 AM | Comments (3)

July 21, 2014

Temple Guardians

A short (7½ minutes) video about the Burning Man Temple and its Guardians.

permalink | July 21, 2014 at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

July 1, 2014

Boston Team Gets Super-prime Location For Their Burning Man Art/Science Project

Some Bostonians - or at least one Bostonian, Douglas Ruuska - have designed a minaret tower to be placed on the playa at Burning Man. What's really different about this minaret is up at the top it will have a real, genuine, live-time cosmic ray detector. All you have to do is climb one of the 5-story ladders to get to the top to enjoy the science and the view.

The project has been considered so exceptional, it has been selected to be the art project at the 6 o'clock keyhole.
6 O'Clock Keyhole Location Map
The red dot is at the 6 o'clock keyhole position
. Every year a large, monumental artwork gets positioned here. It's the first thing you see after exiting Center Camp via the main entrance. It's the piece of artwork that people will pose next to for photos so that the Man will be in the far background.

Being selected for this prime location has required the minaret-builders to beef up their structure to accommodate the expected heavier use, and for that they are trying to raise $10,000. As I write, they are only $823 shy of their goal. They offer a range of rewards for contributors, but they don't get really interesting until you get up to the $375 level. If you contribute $375 and if you have an early-arrival ticket, then you will be invited to a cheese and beverage reception atop the minaret at the time the gates are opened for the hoi polloi. I imagine they visualized this occurring at the socially appropriate hour of 6-ish, but the BLM has disrupted their plans so the cheese party will be happening at the ungodly early hour of 10-ish in the AM. It's like cheese for brunch.

If you contribute $5,000 you will get the actual spark chamber! I assume this will be after its use. They will also give you plans that will enable you to bring it to life as a genuine cosmic ray detector in your own home. Or you can just put it on your coffee table.

permalink | July 1, 2014 at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2014

"Kidnapped For Christ"

July 10, 7:30 PM on Showtime.

A documentary which follows a young evangelical filmmaker, who is granted unprecedented access to a Christian boarding school in the Dominican Republic for troubled US teens that bills itself as a rehabilitation center. There she discovers the shocking secrets of the behavior modification program that is being forced upon students who have been kidnapped with their parents' permission, and she makes it her mission to free a young man who will change her life.

permalink | June 24, 2014 at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

June 6, 2014

After Christianity

A map showing the second most popular religion in each state. Buddhism's got most of the west, all the way into Kansas! Arizona is an exception, where Hinduism comes second. Delaware is the only other state where Hinduism is the second most popular. But the fun part is that in the former Confederate states the number two religion is (drumroll please) Islam! South Carolina (Bahá'í) and Tennessee (Judaism) are exceptions.

permalink | June 6, 2014 at 07:52 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2014

Technical Point Resolved

Plant and harvest your crops for six years, but let the land rest during the seventh year. The poor are to eat what they want from your fields, vineyards, and olive trees during that year, and when they have all they want from your fields, leave the rest for wild animals.

That's the rule for shmita and the coming year will be a shmita year. Seven years ago the Israeli medical marijuana program was small with only a single physician in charge of the whole thing. Since then the program has expanded to include nine physicians with about 9,000 patients. There are seven licensed growing facilities. IOW, it's grown a lot in the past seven years, so it draws more attention, thus leading to the question...from an IDF veteran yet:

"I receive grass as a medication," explained M., a religious man who suffers from shell shock, in a letter to the Rabbinate. "The shmita year will begin in four months, and observant IDF disabled veterans have been asking themselves whether the grass should be grown differently like fruits and vegetables."

The official answer is that it's medicine, not food, so no problem. Grow. Consume. But not recreationally. In addition, raised-bed greenhouses and hydroponic farming do not fall under the shmita rule because it's not a "field." Since all Israeli marijuana is grown under those conditions, then it's doubly-cleared.

permalink | May 25, 2014 at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2014

A Fresh Direction In Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuits

"North Carolina prohibits couples of the same gender from obtaining a marriage license and makes it a crime for ministers to officiate a marriage ceremony without determining whether a couple has a license." The U.S. Constitution (and probably the North Carolina Constitution) guarantees freedom of religion. The United Church of Christ performs same-sex weddings. So you see where this is going. The General Synod of the United Church of Christ has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court saying the law is a restriction on their religious freedom.

permalink | April 28, 2014 at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2014

Leonard Knight

The Man Behind The Mountain - An Intimate Look at American Folk Artist Leonard Knight

permalink | April 14, 2014 at 07:08 PM | Comments (1)

April 3, 2014

"What should a Christian expect at Burning Man?"

This question was asked by a 32-year old "Biblical believer" (boy, that doesn't narrow it much) on Reddit. He plans to go in a couple of years with his wife and daughter. He got answers from several Burners. It is, as I said, Reddit, so you have to read it with your internet goggles on, but OTOH every reply sounds like it came from a real Burner, so they are all probably 100% true and reliable, forever and ever, amen.

And, on a semi-related note, it has been announced that this year's Temple will be the "Temple of Descendants by Ross Asselstine and The Temple Crew." I don't know anything beyond that, but the people involved have worked with the David Best crew, so the result will probably be something "traditional" in Burning Man terms.

permalink | April 3, 2014 at 07:27 PM | Comments (1)

March 21, 2014

Still Can't Get Stoned In New York

The ATLAH World Missionary Church in Brooklyn put the following message on their sign:
Jesus Would Stone Homos

Jennifer Louise Lopez saw that and dutifully brought herself in to be stoned. It went like this:

If you're curious, it is explained that God spoke to Pastor Manning and told him that the new name for Harlem would be "ATLAH." It means "the land where the people shall walk barefoot, because the land is holy ground."

permalink | March 21, 2014 at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2014

One Down

I imagine Nike and Kansas State briefly thought about initiating some sort of legal process against Phelps and quickly decided to let it go.

permalink | March 20, 2014 at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2014

Na Nachs

Why are these people not coming to Burning Man?

Story here.

In a sense, the Na Nach are very traditional. They keep strict religious rules about diet and modesty, for example. But in most other ways, their religious style diverges from other Hasidic groups. Shaul Magid, a scholar of Hasidic Judaism from the University of Indiana, says while most Orthodox movements focus on reading and studying, the Na Nachs are more interested in having intense, personal and ecstatic experiences with God.

"...the truth is almost none of the Na Nachs use drugs." Almost.

permalink | March 15, 2014 at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)