Archive for Immaterial Witness

Meanwhile beyond the sky

Tim Blair quotes a writer on the environmental beat:

“The Anglican Church has told the Abbott government to change its approach to climate change, urging it to respect and base its policy on scientific evidence.”

The comic power in that paragraph is equal to several kilotons of the finest plutonium. Here we have an organisation founded on belief and faith now demanding that selected scientific opinions inform government policy. These same people think they can talk to the planet’s inventor just by putting their hands together.

I demur somewhat on that last sentence — apparently there are Anglicans of a sort who don’t even believe in God — but one thing I have learned is that false prophets are generally trying to generate profits. (See, for instance, Saint Albert the Gaseous.)

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Up from wherever

Tony Woodlief on the Littlest Immigrants:

I don’t think they love their children any less than I love my own, which tells me something about what their lives must be like, to send their babies away. Their children stream northward in droves — as many as 60,000 this year — and we don’t want them. We don’t want their skin lesions and their hungry bellies, we don’t want their parents and aunts and uncles likely to follow, we don’t want them taking our jobs and clogging our classrooms and driving without insurance on our roads. We have no place for them in our country and certainly not in our hearts.

And yet:

What if, instead of greeting the federal agents with protest signs, we greeted them with petitions? Give us these children. We will feed them, we will clothe them, we will give them shelter. We will teach them and we will pray over them. Their parents, God help them, sent them away, and now here we stand to make good on the faith or hope or desperation in which those mothers and fathers sent them forth. Give us these children, and we will find a way. We will show mercy, because while we can scarcely agree between ourselves on anything else, we agree that the kingdom of heaven includes a hand stretched out in love.

It’s utterly impractical, I know. But how have we done so far, Christians, with practicality? For Christ’s sake, let’s not be known for our practicality.

Yeah, I know, I know: we’re being played for chumps by our wicked (no other word applies) government. Think in terms of a Higher Authority.

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Hindmost being taken

Tickets for a Civic Center Music Hall presentation of a Black Mass go on sale today, and, well, the event is not going unnoticed:

A group called Dakhma of Angra Mainyu is holding a Black Mass at the Oklahoma City Civic Center on September 21. The permittee for the event is Adam Daniels, a registered sex offender. The Civic Center is owned by the city and funded by a foundation that includes a city government official and the head of a Catholic hospital on its board. The event has been condemned by the Archbishop of Oklahoma City. (I first read about this on Fr. Z’s Blog.)

The group itself seems to be sort of anti-Zoroastrian:

Dakhma of Angra Mainyu is about freedom from any religion that chooses to bind you to some type of dogma the forces you to restrain your natural animal instincts. They say desire and “sin” move you away from the ultimate consumer of souls through fire. Ahura Mazda is the slave driver that forces laws onto mankind that completely against man’s nature. Only through spiritual and chaotic destruction of this enslavement, will one become spiritually free from not only mortal/ethical enslavement, include freedom from Atar which is the Holy Fire that will consume your soul to recharge Ahura Mazda. The truest form of freedom is brought about by evil speech (blaspheme). 3 ways define the human existence: thought, speech, and action. Knowing that mankind is judge off this paradigm, does it make sense to inhibit your animal desires because some “God” said they were evil? No, the inhibition is to build internal pressure, like a teapot without a valve. Upon death this gives the Ahuras (angels) that much more energy to consume as they live off of pain and blood. Thus requiring sacrifice and becoming a mayrter.

Which I suppose is being (accidentally?) like a martyr, only with bells on.

I note here for record that I do follow the BaphometOKC Twitter account, though this is mostly for amusement purposes.

If you object to this sort of thing, Dawn Eden suggests some ways to make your objections heard. Attendance will not be high regardless, simply because the event is booked for the downstairs City Space Theatre, which is geared to Equity Waiver/Showcase Code-sized audiences: fewer than 100. Last time, apparently, they drew zero.

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Quote of the week

Relatively few QOTWs come with footnotes, but this particular version does have one, and it deserves inclusion:

While the Margaret Atwoods of the world worry about the Baptists enacting some horrible draconian theocracy here in the US*, it’s actually happening in other corners of the world. I guess over there it’s charming and ethnic and we shouldn’t judge them by our imperialistic Western standards. Why, one person’s flogging for an unapproved marriage is no different from another person’s $15 ticket for jaywalking!

* Both atheists and believers want to feel oppressed here, because oppression is the coin of the realm in 21st century America and can be traded for valuable cash and prizes.

Yep. Don’t even think about writing a memoir unless you can cite examples where you were victimized by The Man, or at the very least by The System.

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Speaking of trees

Tony Woodlief, on ice storms and their impact:

There is no predicting which trees will break, nor how they will falter. Some shed limbs as a rebirthing, others lose not a one. Some are sundered to their roots, as if a rotten core had crept up through the center of them, or had been birthed within them, had been inside them from the beginning, only to be revealed in the testing hour.

A pin oak behind my house cast down a dozen widow-makers, a proud magnolia fell into itself grotesquely. A pear tree shed half itself across my driveway. Branches speared the earth, some of them a foot deep, because when you stretch to heaven you have much further to fall, and your breaking is perilous to all around you.

To sum it up:

Sometimes the ones we thought strong topple, while the stoop-shouldered endure. They endure because they bend beneath the weight, they shoulder it as beasts of burden and within them is something like faith that it will pass.

Sometimes they get by with a little help from their friends, but they survive.

Two years of unrelenting drought killed off three of my trees, and surely weakened the others; yet the others are still standing, still green (or other color as appropriate), still keeping watch. It’s hard not to feel somewhat comforted by that, even as I mourn the departed.

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Give or take a cubit

We’re not saying that they’d all fit, but we’re saying that they’d all float:

[R]esearch by physics students suggests that a structure on the scale of Noah’s ark as described in the ancient text could have been built.

And what’s more, they say it would have been buoyant even with two of every animal on Earth on board.

Okay, you’ve gotten my attention. How does this work?

  • The dimensions for the ark were provided in cubits in the Bible, an archaic measure based on the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger.
  • Noah was commanded to make the boat out of ‘gopher wood’ and in order to calculate the weight of the empty ark they needed to know the density of the material the boat was constructed out of, but there is no modern-day equivalent of gopher wood.
  • English translations of the Bible refer to cypress wood instead, so this was the material that the students used.
  • In order to calculate the overall downward force of the ark, the students needed to know the mass of the animals on board; previous research has suggested that the average mass of an animal is approximately equal to that of one sheep, 23.47kg, which was the figure used.
  • “Our conclusions were that the ark would support the weight of 2.15 million sheep without sinking and that should be enough to support all of the species that were around at the time.”

Still unexplained: why Noah didn’t swat those frickin’ mosquitoes when he had the chance; and dammit, you expect unicorns to be smarter than that. Or at least I do.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Ark of the Clumsiest

After sampling several reviews, Chris Johnson concludes:

So why make Noah in the first place? I can think of only two possible explanations. The first is to sabotage the idea that Biblical movies can make money. “See?! We made Noah and nobody cared! So stop bugging us to film more of this fundie crap!”

Although he prefers his second explanation, and so do I.

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Freddie’s still dead

Last week’s QOTW speculated that Fred Phelps might have had something of a change of heart before shuffling off this mortal coil.

In possible support of this premise:

Last week, Fred Phelps’ son posted on Facebook that his father, the longtime head of the notoriously venomous Westboro Baptist Church — famous for protesting military and other high-profile funerals and events with neon “God Hates Fags” signs — was “now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka.” Despite Drain’s attempts to downplay the severity of Phelps’s condition, it was reported Tuesday that the 84-year-old Phelps had passed away.

Most intriguing about Nate Phelps’s Facebook post was not the news that an octogenarian’s health was failing, but that Fred Phelps Sr., who founded the hatemongering church in 1955 and turned his progeny into some of the loudest and most despised people in America, had been excommunicated last summer.

“Drain” is Steve Drain, who may have orchestrated that excommunication and installed himself in Westboro’s seat of power.

Still, this might be the single most salient thing said about the demise of Mr Phelps:

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Quote of the week

Tony Woodlief, on the recent departure of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps:

In truth, people like me need someone like Fred Phelps. He made me feel better about myself. I am as the Pharisee who gave thanks he was not the tax collector — a comparison to which some might object, on the grounds that in that story, the tax collector was a humbled man, aware of his sins and begging mercy.

But none of us knows what transpires in the heart’s final beating. We can never know until it is we who lay waiting for judgment, our hearts softened or hardened or indifferent. Perhaps Fred Phelps saw, in his final seconds, the cost of his life, the dreadful bloody stink of it, rising up to heaven. Perhaps he saw and he begged forgiveness. And perhaps — how scandalous to think it — he was forgiven.

And while the state of his heart is now a settled and secreted thing, perhaps mine turns, as well as yours, on whether we are willing to pray that it was so, that the likes of Fred Phelps could be saved from the sickness that consumed him. Perhaps such a merciful heart is, in the end, all that saves any of us from his sickness.

Which reminds us that justice, the legal concept, and Justice, the operation of the cosmos under divine guidance, share little more than a word.

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For those who need a patron

A saint for our times, perhaps?

Since February 2004 San Precario, patron saint of precarious, casualised, sessional, intermittent, temporary, flexible, project, freelance and fractional workers, has appeared in various Italian cities. The saint appears in public spaces on occasions of rallies, marches, interventions, demonstrations, film festivals, fashion parades, and, being a saint, processions. Often he performs miracles. Although the first appearances are recorded on 29 February 2004, San Precario has multiplied and materialised in different disguises. Equitable in his choices, San Precario does not privilege one category of precarious worker over another, and he can appear in supermarkets in urban peripheries, in bookstores or, glammed up, at the Venice Film Festival. San Precario is also transgender, and it has appeared also as a female saint. A “cult” has spread rapidly and has led to the development of a distinct and colorful iconography, hagiography and rituals. Appropriating the Italian Catholic tradition of carrying saint statues in processions in urban spaces, the cult of San Precario functions at the same time as étournement, as a Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ), as carnival. It is also a tactic to make visible issues arising from the increasing casualisation of the work force. At a different level it can be considered a site of mythopoetic production.

I do like that word “mythopoetic”: with twice the latitude of either myth or poem, it conceivably could pack four times the punch — a useful attribute for a saint whose feast day occurs only once every four years.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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Only the fuse is burned out

Mars, said Bernie Taupin, ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids; what’s more, it’s cold as hell. But if this bothers the Rocket Man, it positively repels official Islam:

A Fatwa has been issued against living on Mars by clerics who say that trying to set up home there would be un-Islamic.

The fatwa — or ruling — was issued by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE) in the UAE after the Mars One organisation announced that it would try and establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.

The committee argued that an attempt to dwell on the planet would be so hazardous as to be suicidal and killing oneself is not permitted by Islam.

Unless, presumably, one self-identifies as a heretic.

I suspect, though, that this declaration is a tad less portentous than advertised:

The GAIAE has issued around two million Fatwas through its Official Fatwa Centre since its inception in 2008.

This is a fatwa every 90 seconds. And you thought official Washington had its thumbs in too many places.

(Via Francis W. Porretto.)

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The order of stone-casting

A Shreveport Councilman gets his world rocked, so to speak:

A City Council member in Shreveport, La., has abandoned his effort to repeal an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinance, following outcry from the public, including a transgender woman who dared him to stone her to death.

The council passed the ordinance in December by a vote of 6-1, following a successful campaign by a pro-LGBT coaltion known as Be Fair Shreveport. The ordinance, which bans discrimination in housing and employment within city limits on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, received its lone “no” vote from Councilman Ron Webb. During the council’s debate last December, Webb voiced his opposition, saying, “The Bible tells you homosexuals are an abomination,” adding that he does not socialize with LGBT people, according to TV station KSLA.

At least, he thinks he doesn’t.

Still, he wasn’t about to give up:

Ten days after the council approved the ordinance, Webb drafted a proposal designed to repeal the nondiscrimination policy. On Tuesday, dozens of people registered to testify at the City Council meeting, ready to speak out against Webb’s measure, report Lone Star Q.

But none were quite as bold as Pamela Raintree, a transgender woman. Raintree called out the Bible-quoting councilman, daring him to stone her to death.

“Leviticus 20:13 states, ‘If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they shall surely put him to death,’” Raintree began. “I brought the first stone, Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn’t just a smoke screen for personal prejudices.”

By the end of the meeting, Webb had withdrawn his motion to repeal.

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Up from under

The Satanic Temple, which has applied to place a monument of His Devilish Majesty at the Oklahoma State Capitol, has released the design for the proposed statuary:

Proposed statue of Satan

The Capitol Preservation Commission, which receives such applications, has declared a moratorium on such things until a lawsuit over the extant Ten Commandments monument is resolved.

Meanwhile, the Temple, through Indiegogo, hopes to raise $20,000 to cover the costs; at this writing, they’re a little over halfway there.

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Thou shalt pay here

Near the bottom of any conceivable automotive market is the buy-here-pay-here dealer: you know going in, or should know anyway, that the interest rate will be stratospheric, the vehicle’s condition will be questionable, and the terms will be unforgiving.

Now: is BHPH compatible with JHVH? The following flyer was stuck under a wiper while I was grocery-shopping:

If your family is like most, you are struggling between buying the kids some Christmas presents or getting the family that much needed newer car. We are here to help solve that problem. <><

Our cars, trucks, and vans start at $1,000 and go to $7,195 with down payments as low as $500 to $2,000 depending on your stability factors. All it takes is just a few minutes to drop by the lot to look at our selection of second generation cars, trucks, and vans. <><

So saith By Faith Auto Sales, 19th and MacArthur, including the little fish-y brackets. The flyer, it says, doubles as a $250 “gift certificate.” And it does say not to bring it out until they start the paperwork, which strikes me as a good sign, but I’m still a trifle suspicious of the whole thing: it’s like the Godfather suddenly resurfaced as the Archbishop.

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Quote of the week

That whole “separation of church and state” business, if you ask me, has it exactly sideways. Christ spoke of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s; today’s Caesars are keen to have the population rendered, once their ability to mulct us fails for lack of further mulctables.

Francis W. Porretto, having noted this sort of thing before, has pretty much had it up to here with professions of [some sort of] faith as part of political campaigns:

The various Christian denominations differ on a number of things, most notably abortion, divorce, and sexual conduct. However, they are united around the Noachite Commandments:

Then someone came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and your mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Matthew 19:16-19]

Government’s penchants for theft and false witness should make any sincere Christian extremely uneasy about contact with it, approaching absolutely unwilling to be involved with it at any level. Make no mistake: to confiscate from unwilling Peter is theft no matter whether or not any of the proceeds reach Paul. The insertion of government, the supposedly disinterested servant of the “general welfare,” as the confiscator makes no difference whatsoever.

There’s a Catholic doctrine about “occasions of sin,” circumstances which are likely to lure the faithful into transgressions. Getting oneself parked in one of the seats of power, whether for graft or simply grasp, does not augur well for the future of one’s soul.

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If you meet the Buddha on the road, race him

Valerie Roedenbeck Maloof, who raises children and races cars, on the spiritual aspect of track work:

For those of us who have spent a lifetime attempting to espouse the teachings of Buddhism and Yoga, which encourage practitioners to stay in the present moment and not waste time on the past or the future, a race car at speed is the perfect place to live this teaching. You simply cannot be anywhere but right there, driving. The result is nothing short of absolute calm and joy, all while traveling at high speeds. Then, you exit the car and life returns — your shoulders are sore from the HANS pushing down on them, your back and legs are tired from shifting, your arms are tired from turning the wheel without the help of power steering, and your hair smells like exhaust. But the joy stays with you. I believe we drive so we can experience that joy. It is no accident motorsport is a passion. It is no wonder we forget the danger as we pursue that perfect spiritual experience in the car. It is nothing short of prayer.

Even those of us who never get near a track have gotten this sensation, or something very like it. There are, of course, those who have declared their unalterable opposition to doing interesting things with motor vehicles; but this, too, is a religious experience, a dictum from a less-than-almighty god created by the ego of a timid man, whose first Commandment ends with the phrase “… because something might happen.” The condition in which nothing happens, incidentally, is called “death.”

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They didn’t open with a prayer

The Friendly Atheist at Patheos tells of a campaign event he perhaps didn’t expect:

Dr. Ed Shadid, a current Oklahoma City councilman, is running for mayor and has a bit of an uphill climb ahead of him since he’s running against the incumbent, popular Mayor Mick Cornett‎.

It’s worth noting, though, that Shadid is courting the atheist vote. According to a now-deleted Tweet, Chas Stewart of the Oklahoma Atheists Godcast mentioned that Shadid attended one of his group’s events.

Outreach, y’know. And if this race turns out to be close … well, you can see where this is going. Oklahoma Atheists claims about 1500 members, which is not an inconsiderable number by any means.

It doesn’t mean Shadid is an atheist himself, but so far, his visit doesn’t seem to have hurt him. Progress!

Now if only Shadid would stop talking about how he wants to raise property taxes and taking pictures with children wearing shirts with the words “Penis” and “Vagina” on them, he might have a better chance of winning this thing.

Yeah. At the very least, those words belong on pants.

(Via The McCarville Report.)

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License with the plates

The first book of Nephi, which opens the Book of Mormon, as told by Will Truman:

God tells Lehi to get the heck out of Dodge (Jerusalem) because there is some bad stuff coming. Lehi tries to round up his family, but a couple of his sons (Laman and Lamuel) object. God picks Nephi, the youngest (at the time) son, as his favorite. This causes much trouble and murmuring with the other brothers. Laman and Lamuel are tagged as bad apples, though God (through Lehi and/or Nephi) alternates between telling them that they are bad apples and that they should behave. There is another son, Sam, who seems to be a swing vote between good (Nephi) and evil (the other two). God gives Nephi some shapechanging powers and gives them a magic compass. After some time in the wilderness, Nephi builds a boat and they sail off to America.

That murmuring can get you into a lot of trouble.

As I recall — one of my best buds in the Service was LDS — the descendants of his brothers, Nephi envisioned, would be a “dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.” Mind you, this was written before MTV.

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Governmental overreach

If sometimes it seems as though Barack Obama will stop at nothing to increase governmental power — well, he still hasn’t come up with anything like this yet:

In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which [went into effect in 2007] and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.” But beyond the irony lies China’s true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region’s Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.

A statement by the current Dalai Lama (source):

When I am about ninety I will consult the high Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not. On that basis we will take a decision. If it is decided that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should continue and there is a need for the Fifteenth Dalai Lama to be recognized, responsibility for doing so will primarily rest on the concerned officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust. They should consult the various heads of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions and the reliable oath-bound Dharma Protectors who are linked inseparably to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. They should seek advice and direction from these concerned beings and carry out the procedures of search and recognition in accordance with past tradition. I shall leave clear written instructions about this. Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.

Tenzin Gyatso, the current (14th) Dalai Lama, turned 78 this year.

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, largely for his post title.)

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Remission control

The Vatican, 1967:

Although indulgences are in fact free gifts, nevertheless they are granted for the living as well as for the dead only on determined conditions. To acquire them, it is indeed required on the one hand that prescribed works be performed, and on the other that the faithful have the necessary dispositions, that is to say, that they love God, detest sin, place their trust in the merits of Christ and believe firmly in the great assistance they derive from the Communion of Saints.

[Pope Paul VI in Indulgentiarum Doctrina.]

The Vatican, 2013:

Indulgences these days are granted to those who carry out certain tasks — such as climbing the Sacred Steps, in Rome (reportedly brought from Pontius Pilate’s house after Jesus scaled them before his crucifixion), a feat that earns believers seven years off purgatory.

But attendance at events such as the Catholic World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, a week-long event starting on 22 July, can also win an indulgence.

Mindful of the faithful who cannot afford to fly to Brazil, the Vatican’s sacred apostolic penitentiary, a court which handles the forgiveness of sins, has also extended the privilege to those following the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media.

“That includes following Twitter,” said a source at the penitentiary, referring to Pope Francis’ Twitter account, which has gathered seven million followers. “But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet.”

This is not, I hasten to add, a Get Out Of Hell Free card.

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh.)

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When the letter killeth

Flirt with “modernity” however it may, Catholicism is still guided by Scripture and by two thousand years of accumulated wisdom, not necessarily in that order. Now which of these traditions, do you think, prohibits a gluten-free Eucharist? Both of them, apparently:

A great theologian of the Church during the 1200s, St. Thomas Aquinas, was one of the first Church theologians to describe clearly what valid matter is for the Eucharist: “Now among other breads, wheaten bread is more commonly used by men; since other breads seem to be employed when this fails. And, consequently, Christ is believed to have instituted this sacrament under this species of bread. Moreover, this bread strengthens man, and so it denotes more suitably the effect of this sacrament. Consequently, the proper matter for this sacrament is wheaten bread.” Accordingly, Canon Law specifies the use of wheat bread, stating that the Eucharistic species must include unleavened wheat.

It is possible, however, to meet the specifications of Canon Law — if not necessarily the requirements of the most severe celiac sufferers — with low-gluten breads for the sacrament.

(From Improbable Research via this Jennifer Ouellette tweet.)

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Thou shalt take heed

Something perhaps lost in translation over the millennia (well, two of them, anyway):

[J]ust about any time I teach from the Scriptures I have to point out a place where the English Bible says “you,” but the original Hebrew or Greek indicates you plural rather than you singular. This means the original author was addressing to a group of people, but a modern English reader can’t detect this because in common English we use “you” for both singular (“you are awesome”) and plural (“you are a team”). This often leads modern readers to think “you” refers to him or her as an individual, when in fact it refers to the community of faith.

Here in Texas (and in the Southern US more generally), I tell my audience that we have a perfect equivalent to the original Greek/Hebrew second person plural: “y’all” the contraction of “you all.”

In some particularly Suthun climes, it’s even more subtle than that: there is Singular (“you”), Specific Plural (“y’all”), More Generalized Plural (“all y’all”). This inevitably baffles New Yorkers and such, who are used to constructions like “youse.” However, with a little practice, anypony can get used to a new set of pronouns.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Unanswered sprayers

As a general rule, I don’t think much of vandals. Now imagine what I think of illiterate vandals:

Hassan Ahmed, the imam of the Grand Mosque, said he was the first member of his congregation to see the vandalism because he was first to arrive at the house of worship on Saturday.

He said vandals painted the words “Hale [sic] Satan” along with a four-letter profanity and a racial slur on the mosque’s exterior. He said the vandals also drew a phallic shape on the building.

I’m sure Satan is hale, even hearty; it’s not like he has to exert himself, given his abundance of minions, but it’s a pride thing, you know?

This sort of, um, undocumented decoration is most commonly the work of the local Tagging-American community; however, no self-respecting tagger would turn in such sloppy work, so I’m having to believe that this is the work of some pissed-off drunk guy. And I’d hate to think that there are pissed-off drunk guys nearby; the Grand Mosque is just about one mile from the palatial estate at Surlywood.

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As foretold

Ridiculous rims

Inasmuch as this is from CatholicMemes.com, the Scriptural lookup goes to Douay-Rheims (in translation): “The wheels had also a size, and a height, and a dreadful appearance.”

In other news, Gog and Magog evidently have been replaced by Manny, Moe and Jack.

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Quote of the week

David Warren wrote this on the day before Good Friday:

[E]ven within quite “mainstream” Christian folds, Christ is reduced to an abstraction. The Gospel Christ is too particular, the times call for a more generic Christ, who will treat everyone the same. For a Christ who will not be objectionable to the State authorities; who will mind his own business & not create a disturbance. A democratic Christ, who will bless everyone equally, & preach multicultural homogeneity if he must preach at all. A Christ who would not have to be crucified, whose case would never come before Pontius Pilate, because he would never offend anyone. A nice Christ, who embodies niceness, & looks the other way whenever something he doesn’t like is happening. Not man in the image of God, but God in the image of man: a Christ we have made for ourselves, & given a liberal education, so that he does not speak of demons & the like, but only in terms of scientific theory. For we are nice people, & we do not want to hear about demons. We have no theory for that.

And please, would this Christ not rise from the dead. That is terribly disruptive.

This may be why I get along fairly well with atheists: their lack of belief, often as not, turns out to be the product of actual conviction.

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Unlicensed Pilate

@TheMorningSpew reports seeing this, um, Easter card at a Target store:

Judas - Worst Friend Ever greeting card

This explains the circle on the Target logo: it’s the ninth.

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Not too damned good

Bad Catholic lists several reasons why so-called “Christian music” ought to be put out of its misery. This is just one of them:

Isn’t all singing about Jesus inherently valuable?

No. Love covers a multitude of sins, but a cliched refrain of his Most Holy Name will not cover the fact that your melody, chord progression, and overworked synth track are recycled versions of Nickelback’s last single.

Oh, it gets harsher:

If the reality of Christianity is that which is expressed in the majority of “Christian” songs — and that which K-Love takes as their guiding principle — than I would much prefer to be an atheist. K-Love plays “positive” music. (Don’t get me started on the “cutting-edge.”) Every Christian radio station in existence gives the bizarre assurance before every song they play that they are in fact “positive”, “encouraging”, or “family friendly”. (It seems they could replace it all with “We are about to give you a song that sounds like a blanket on top of a kitten.”)

I know exactly what he’s talking about, so here’s a kitten with a blanket on top:

kitten under blanket

Determining the exact sound of the song is left as an exercise for the student.

(Via this Jeff Quinton tweet.)

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Include/unclued

You can see where this is going a mile away:

The University of Michigan is accused of kicking an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter off campus because the group requires its leaders to be Christians — an apparent violation of the university’s nondiscrimination policy.

The nerve! Don’t they know about diversity?

In other news, the Pope is still Catholic, and I’m sure you can find someone in Ann Arbor who’s annoyed about that.

(Via Dyspeptic Mutterings.)

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Deconstruction zone

Precisely what does this mean?

The valuation of order qua meaningful order, rather than order-in-itself, has been thoroughly objectified in the Darwinian worldview. This process of de-contextualization and reification of meaning has ultimately led to the establishment of “dis-order” rather than “this-order”. As a result, Darwinian materialism confronts us with an eradication of meaning from the phenomenological experience of reality. Negative theology however suggests a revaluation of disorder as a necessary precondition of order, as that without which order could not be thought of in an orderly fashion. In that sense, dis-order dissolves into the manifestations of order transcending the materialist realm. Indeed, order becomes only transparent qua order in so far as it is situated against a background of chaos and meaninglessness. This binary opposition between order and dis-order, or between order and that which disrupts order, embodies a central paradox of Darwinian thinking. As Whitehead suggests, reality is not composed of disordered material substances, but as serially-ordered events that are experienced in a subjectively meaningful way.

Answer: Not a damned thing.

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh.)

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If your sin’s original

Why are things so screwed up? The more I think about it, the more I feel like blaming two naked humans and a snake.

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