Monday, November 25, 2013

Somewhere At The Root Of Things

"The rise of Christianity, while admittedly resulting in a lot of people being set on fire, also saw a dramatic increase in charities. Almost immediately after the church gained a foothold in Europe, they started introducing a widespread system of charity that distributed food, clothing, and money to those in need. Perhaps not by coincidence, the concepts of goodwill hospices, hospitals, and shelters for the poor were also invented during the "dark" ages, paving the way for the public health care system."

Read more: J. Wisniewski

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Even MORE Variations On A Thanksgiving Theme

In 1943 Norman Rockwell produced a series of four paintings on the Four Freedoms, a concept that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had introduced in one of his speeches. One of these paintings, Freedom From Want, has come to exemplify the old American traditional Thanksgiving, and is most often referred to as the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving. Over the years there have been many spoofs and variations on this image; I present here several more of them.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

String Section

“Life is like playing the violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.”

― Samuel Butler

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Merlin Lives

Arthur: Where have you been these many years? Is it true that Morgana--

Merlin: Lies. Stories. You brought me back. Your love brought me back. Back to where you are the land of dreams.

Arthur: Are you just a dream? Merlin?

Merlin: A dream to some...A nightmare to others!


Kay: I was dreaming.

Arthur: Of Merlin?

Kay: Yes. He spoke to me...

Arthur: I dreamed of him, too. Merlin lives. He lives in our dreams now. He speaks to us from there.

Friday, November 15, 2013

From "Cracked" and Amanda Mannen: Jesus, Horus, Mithras, and "Religulous"

#4. Religulous -- The "Jesus Is Fake" Evidence Is Fake

The Film:

In Religulous, Bill Maher sets out to make you question what you think you know about God, telling you everything church leaders don't want you to know. He interrogates everyone from truck stop parishioners to pious scientists to visitors of a holy amusement park, poking holes in their beliefs by pointing out things like how the original sin isn't mentioned in the Bible or how the Christ mythology is eerily similar to other ancient religions -- at one point, a Tumblr-ready slideshow informs us of the many similarities between Jesus and the Egyptian god Horus.

Man, that's some incriminating evidence right there. How come the entire Catholic church hasn't collapsed under the weight of this one documentary?

The Fallacy:

All this "Jesus was copied from earlier religions" stuff has been going around the Internet for a while, and it will make you look awesome if you post it on a Halo message board, but none of it is true. The Egyptian links have been debunked by actual Egyptologists.

Let's start with the "virgin births" part: You've gotta make some pretty big logical jumps to claim that any of those earlier gods were born from virgins, having come from a mother seven times over (Krishna), some freaky necrophilia (Horus), and a f---ing rock (Mithras).

Then there's the resurrection thing. Contrary to Maher's claims, Mithras was never resurrected, and the older versions of the guy's story don't have any of the Jesus similarities -- those came about in the first or second century A.D. (that is, after Jesus was born). Horus, like Mithras, was also never resurrected, didn't have 12 apostles, and didn't raise Asar from the dead (which doesn't translate to "Lazarus" even a little bit). There isn't even any record of a figure call Anup the Baptizer; the closest we come is Anubis, the god of embalming, which astute readers will note is a leeeeeetle different from baptism.

Oh, by the way, original sin is totally in the Bible, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a scholar who disagrees with the overwhelming evidence that a person (not necessarily a divine being) matching Jesus' description existed during his purported lifetime. So where did Maher get all this crap? Probably from the viral "documentary" Zeitgeist (which doesn't cite any sources) or, and this is a serious possibility, the f---ing Da Vinci Code (which is about as historically accurate as the movie Splash).
None of this means the Christian Bible is right or that it represents the one true religion. But if you think something is bullshit, the answer is not more bullshit.

--Amanda Manning.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Little Gods

"Some Christian readers may be troubled by the wild paganism to be found in the last few chapters of Prince Caspian—the river gods and forest goddesses, Silenus and Bacchus and his maenads. As Susan says, “I shouldn’t have felt safe with Bacchus and his wild girls if we’d met them without Aslan.” She’s quite right: Bacchus and his train would be a dangerous lot indeed if they were left to their own devices. Those who don’t believe it can visit Panama City some Spring Break and see for themselves. But Aslan is here, and all that wildness and freedom is an expression of the enlivening, joy-giving, creative energies of Aslan himself. What Lewis says of the God of the Bible is true of Aslan:

'It is He who sends the rain into the furrows till the valleys stand so thick with corn that they laugh and sing. The trees of the wood rejoice before Him and His voice causes the wild deer to bring forth their young. He is the God of wheat and wine and oil. In that respect He is constantly doing all the things that Nature-Gods do: His is Bacchus, Venus, Ceres all rolled into one.'

This is not polytheism that is breaking out in Narnia. The little nature gods of Narnia do not set themselves up as rivals to Aslan. They are his servants, just as Trufflehunter and the Pevensies, and now Trumpkin are his servants."

--Myth Became Fact: Prince Caspian, Jonathan Rogers

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Emperor and Death

"Cold and pale lay the emperor in his royal bed; the whole court thought he was dead, and every one ran away to pay homage to his successor. The chamberlains went out to have a talk on the matter, and the ladies’-maids invited company to take coffee. Cloth had been laid down on the halls and passages, so that not a footstep should be heard, and all was silent and still. But the emperor was not yet dead, although he lay white and stiff on his gorgeous bed, with the long velvet curtains and heavy gold tassels. A window stood open, and the moon shone in upon the emperor and the artificial bird. The poor emperor, finding he could scarcely breathe with a strange weight on his chest, opened his eyes, and saw Death sitting there. He had put on the emperor’s golden crown, and held in one hand his sword of state, and in the other his beautiful banner. All around the bed and peeping through the long velvet curtains, were a number of strange heads, some very ugly, and others lovely and gentle-looking. These were the emperor’s good and bad deeds, which stared him in the face now Death sat at his heart." --"The Nightingale," by Hans Christian Andersen.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

First and Second Friends

“The First [Friend] is the alter ego, the man who first reveals to you that you are not alone in the world by turning out (beyond hope) to share all your most secret delights. There is nothing to be overcome in making him your friend; he and you join like raindrops on a window. But the Second Friend is the man who disagrees with you about everything. He is not so much the alter ego as the antiself. Of course he shares your interests; otherwise he would not become your friend at all. But he has approached them all at a different angle. He has read all the right books but has got the wrong thing out of every one. It is as if he spoke your language but mispronounced it. How can he be so nearly right and yet, invariably, just not right? He is as fascinating (and infuriating) as a woman. When you set out to correct his heresies, you will find that he forsooth has decided to correct yours! And then you go at it, hammer and tongs, far into the night, night after night, or walking through fine country that neither gives a glance to, each learning the weight of the other's punches, and often more like mutually respectful enemies than friends. Actually (though it never seems so at the time) you modify one another's thought; out of this perpetual dogfight a community of mind and a deep affection emerge.”

― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

Wednesday, November 6, 2013