the trajectory of all the major currents of the mighty stream of scripture. ... the overriding, over-arching biblical mandate of love and justice and love, love, love.
And yet there are some verses, a bunch of them, that can be plucked out of that great stream and divorced from the context of that biblical current. And if you set those verses off to the side and allow them to dry off so as to no longer be tainted by all the other verses and arguments and principles to which they were formerly attached, they can be read in such a way that they seem to forbid gender equality in the church[, or acceptance of sexual minorities, or racial equality, or care for the environment].
This process of selecting verses to extract from the rest, elevating them above the rest, and thereby interpreting them to contradict the rest, is what I call the clobber-text hermeneutic. This approach to the Bible is pandemic in America, where it was perfected and popularized because it provided the only excuse that white Christians could come up with for reconciling their defense of slavery with the gospel of Jesus Christ.[emphasis mine]
young-Earth creationism isn't just a consequence of a clobber-text hermeneutic, but a vital tool for defending that hermeneutic and declaring every other approach to the Bible to be illegitimate, anti-God and even "nihilistic."
Thus if we want gender equality to prevail in the church, as love says it must, we cannot be indifferent to young-Earth creationism. If we want all people to be included in the church, as love says we must, we cannot be indifferent to young-Earth creationism. Young-Earth creationism is an ideology that feeds and reinforces the clobber-text hermeneutic that stands against love.
Young-Earth creationism stands against love.
We can't treat it as an inconsequential sideshow — a distraction to our higher calling to love each other and to love our communities. It won't allow us to do that. It stands against our doing that in any but the most sentimental and anemic way.
That doesn't mean we need to attack every individual who has been taught that believing this guff is their Christian duty. That doesn't mean we need to treat everyone who believes in young-Earth creationism as an enemy. They are not our enemies. They are just more of the victims of a deceptive ideology that stands against love.
And we need to kill that ideology. We need to kill it with fire.
Fred argues -- and I agree with him -- that creationism is only secondarily about science. It is really, fundamentally one might say, about *how to read the Bible*: the split is not between "science" and "religion", or even "science" and "the Bible", but between different ways *Christians* interpret the Bible.
And it is other Christians, non-creationist Christians, who have ceded power to Ken Ham and his ilk. They have let a clobber-text hermeneutic be the public face of Christian interpretation of the Bible. They've let scientists and atheists lead the fight against putting creationism in textbooks, and let the YECs' arbitrary, hyper-"literalist" reading become what people (Christian and not) think of as "Bible-based Christianity".
They need to take it back. I honestly believe that Fred would be a great point person for this task -- he has speaking experience, he's not tied to a pastorship, and he could use the speaking fees. If, that is, there's any real demand for an anti-creationist Christian on the public stage -- because there certainly is a need.
Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to,
or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement; ... or treat any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement as valid.
They're concerned not just about the huge amount of criticism they've been getting via social media (which is how I heard about it), but also about concerns raised by the business community in this right-to-work state -- because the bill gives an employee's religious scruples (which the employer isn't allowed to ask about) precedence over the employer's intentions. Basically, a clerk can refuse to serve someone *even if the boss wants them to* -- and the boss wouldn't be able to fire them for it.
All this is aside from the fact that the law has "unconstitutional" written all over it, in way that should be obvious to any elected official or other adult, frankly.
Today, even Representatives who voted for the bill are back-tracking:
John Rubin, R-Shawnee, said he would vote for the bill again based on his beliefs on religious liberty, but he said it was unnecessary since the U.S. and state constitutions already offer religious protections. "It's a bit redundant," he said.
"In other words, I think this whole trip was unnecessary, and I question really why the bill even came to the floor for a vote," Rubin said.
That's a good question, and reporter Bryan Lowry of the Wichita Eagle has been on the trail of the answer.
Lowry points out that "Rep. Charles Macheers, R-Shawnee, who introduced the bill, has repeatedly said it applies only to wedding celebrations" -- but "Macheers did not write the bill and said he did not know its origin. It was crafted by the American Religious Freedom Program, an organization based in Washington D.C. Similar bills are being considered in Tennessee and South Dakota."
The ARFP is part of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, "dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy", and works with The Becket Fund, a law firm specializing in "religious freedom" cases.
A catch-all clause allows businesses and bureaucrats to discriminate against gay people so long as this discrimination is somehow "related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement." (Emphases mine.) This subtle loophole is really just a blank check to discriminate: As long as an individual believes that his service is somehow linked to a gay union of any form, he can legally refuse his services. And since anyone who denies gays service is completely shielded from any charges, no one will ever have to prove that their particular form of discrimination fell within the four corners of the law.
I have no idea if the bill is sloppy on purpose, to ensure that it will be challenged up the court system -- possibly providing a way for the Becket Fund to pick up some fees or at least a prominent amicus brief -- or if it's just another instance of the "traditional marriage" people not being very good at their job?
More states should follow Kansas's lead. Faithful adherents of a religion should not be compelled to provide goods and services in the service of sin.
-- without even mentioning, or apparently thinking about, the fact that there are obvious constitutional issues involved, and that the law was set up to fail. Live by the echo chamber, die by the echo chamber. But while Erickson (founder of RedState.com, formerly at CNN, now at Fox News) lives and profits by that echo chamber, the Kansas State Legislature are the ones who are going to be dying -- of embarrassment, if they have any self-awareness.
I didn't watch the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, I've been too busy working to devote 3 hours to writhing between embarrassment and rage. And I definitely fall (or fell) in the camp of scientists who thought Bill was just feeding the trolls by agreeing to the debate.
Now, I'm not so sure, because I've seen many comments to the effect that Nye's enthusiasm and joy in science came across really well. And he also was able to convey how much scientists change our minds, and how much we *like* it.
But you can't get all the way to Truth this way, Truth is a singularity or mathematical limit. You just get *closer*, close enough for one purpose or another -- but you'll never be exactly there. And it's a spiral, not a straight-line, Zeno's-paradox-type approach, because the direction you're coming from is always changing -- you're never heading directly toward Truth, it's always at an angle. A scientist can never be 100% certain, just 99.999...% -- and always striving for another 9. The truth always comes with an error bar.
What Ken Ham wants is not science, it is 100.000% Certainty. He thinks that he can be absolutely positively sure about some things, without any need to strive for another 9. He believes his Certainty has nailed Truth in place, that there's no singularity or spiral of knowledge. There are no error bars on his Biblical Truth.
The kind of epistemological uncertainty that Bill Nye can accept and even revel in is a trauma for a lot of people like Ham. Perhaps 20 years ago I remember reading an article in Biblical Archaeology Review, in which the author was expressing irritation at historical-critical analysis of the Bible, because "what kind of real knowledge changes every generation?" Well, that would be scientific knowledge, actually, where even if new knowledge doesn't sweep the old away, it changes it so it becomes gradually unrecognizable.
For a lot of people the result will be Future Shock. I think this is what a lot of the "culture wars" are about: people who've been trained to rely on Fundamental Truths, who don't expect the shock of the new, being hit with it wave after wave.
I know it often looks, from the outside, as though scientists are hyper-certain judgmental assholes who can't deal with disagreement. But in fact there's a huge difference between the disagreements and uncertainties within the Pale of science -- which are many and loud -- and those with outsiders who don't come armed with scientific-type evidence.
For instance, right now scientists as a whole "believe" in evolution a lot more than we "believe" in gravity. The basic theory of evolution by natural selection is very well-supported and stable, it's in what Thomas Kuhn calls a period of "normal science". Gravitational theory, on the other hand, is over-ripe for a paradigm shift: physicists are quite certain that most current theories are *wrong*, but they haven't been able to agree on one that might be *right*. And this has been going on for decades.
-- a text from Sprog the Younger this afternoon. Snow day again tomorrow.
We haven't had such a hard winter since the Fimbulwinter of 1993-94. For those of you who weren't living in eastern North America at the time and may have forgotten it, that was the winter where e.g. New Jersey got *sixteen* winter storms -- and for us, *thirteen* of them were ice or "wintry mix" storms. Oddly, most of the storms seemed to hit on Wednesday, too, so there were so many school cancellations that the state legislature had to consider altering how many days counted as a full year of schooling. In the end, pretty much everybody got rid of spring break, and quite a few districts had school on Saturdays in late spring to make up the time.
It was generally a sucky experience for everybody. Children were bored and restless when they weren't in school, over-burdened when they were. All the adults were worn down because going from place to place took so much more time than usual, and driving was so stressful. Not just from snow and ice, but from huge numbers of potholes. I remember driving through the local small town in mid-February and realizing that almost every house still had its Christmas tree up, because no-one had the spare time or energy to take it down. And that's even for people who didn't have the roof problems we did, or a hurt knee from falling on the ice as I walked away from where the car had skidded into the driveway ditch.
It was my impression that the Fimbulwinter had two longer-term consequences. One was the phrase "wintry mix" or "winter mix". I can't find much information about when this term became officially part of the meteorologists' lexicon, but my memory is that it was over the course of the Fimbulwinter, as the weather people got sick of saying "a mixture of snow, sleet, and freezing rain." Reporter John Kelly says it first showed up in the Washington Post in January, 1997, while the ever-stodgy New York Times didn't start using it until 2007, as near as I can tell. My memory is of the phrase "winter mix", which always reminded me of something you'd nibble on at a cocktail party -- but I may have just misheard "wintry mix". Our family generally called it "oobleck", after the stuff that appeared when King Derwin of Didd wanted "something new to come down from the sky".
The other consequence, I believe, is that SUV sales really took off in the Northeast. My memory is that SUVs hadn't been very popular in this part of the country up to that point, they were more a Southern and Western thing. But even I found ads showing SUVs driving unhindered through snow and rough terrain pretty compelling by the end of the Fimbulwinter.
– occurred late in the spring semester of my senior year at college. I looked up from the paper I was writing, out the window to where the sky was lightening over Princeton with the dawn.
I said to myself: "When you're out there in the Real World™, you won't be able to procrastinate and then pull an all-nighter to get it done."
Never have I been so comprehensively wrong. I got into that Real World™, and here I still am, pulling the occasional all-nighter to get something done. My husband does it too, but then we're both self-employed so strict 9-to-5 isn't really what we've signed up for.
So I pulled one last night, but I got everything up and running and to the client today. I'm a website designer/builder, and this was a project to basically build a small content management system. I decided to upgrade my skills and learn more about PHP/mySQL/jQuery/Ajax -- I've tended to do more Microsoft-centric stuff in the past -- but it was a really exasperating learning curve that I don't feel right billing them for.
Anyway, for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it was yet another illustration of one of the more accurate predictions I've encountered in the last couple decades: back in the late 90s, our ISP had some tutorials up, saying something like "in the Internet Age, we'll be going back to school for the rest of our lives."
So tell me: your favorite accurate and/or failed prediction? Do you still pull all-nighters? Do you see dawn more often from the back side or from the front?
Since I'm spending most of my time beating my head against code or doing other grownup stuff, here's a short postette. As I've admitted before, I watch Teen Wolf. The show is in the second half of its third season, and by fannish calculation less than a year has passed and it's still 2011. Which means these characters are high school juniors, 17 years old plus or minus one:
On the left, star 22-year-olds Tyler Posey as Scott McCall, and Dylan O'Brien as Stiles Stilinski. On the right, Posey and O'Brien when they were 16.
27-year-old Daniel Sharman as Isaac Lahey, in a scene where the character protested that he looked like "a boy". On the right, Sharman at 16, looking his age.
Because Teen Wolf is taking multiple seasons to get through a single high school year, it's got a particularly bad case of Dawson's Casting. But even aside from that, I really don't understand why
TV makes so many shows about teenagers, and so few about 18-22-year-old college students. It's notable that the most popular current shows about college-student-type people are Community and The Big Bang Theory -- and neither are about characters the age of usual American undergrads.
It's particularly strange because the customers for TV are advertisers -- we viewers are just the product. In the Nielson ratings, under-25 viewers are an 'outlier' and under-18s aren't usually counted at all, so why make so many TV shows about them? Is this a habit TV got into back in the early days and never got out of? Or are teens much more sought after as viewers -- and 18-22-y.o.s much *less* -- than the usual Nielsen ratings indicate?
 In fairness (or something), the creators' grasp of their own timeline can only be charitably described using terms like "non-Euclidian".
This article, by Jonathan Berger, the "Denning Family Provostial Professor in Music at Stanford University, where he teaches composition, music theory and cognition" (some of his research is here), about how music is able to alter our preceptions of time, was interesting, especially since it has excerpts from Schubert's String Quintet in C major to illustrate his points. On the subject of time and music, I read and am now unable to find, an interesting piece suggesting that our notion of an appropriate length of music is dictated by the original technology for sound reproduction, the wax cylinder.
One story that often comes up about the relation between music, time and technology is Beethoven's Ninth and CD length. Though he probably wasn't the source of this observation, my horn teacher once suggested that the concerto length of your typical [french] horn concerto was perfect because anything too long had the horn player's chops give out and the audience get bored, yielding a perfect match of form and function...
Anyway, a thread about how you hijacked time and/or music or how music and/or time hijacked you.
This Rolling Stone cover story about Pope Francis is well worth reading. Some grafs I found interesting:
A reporter asks Francis, who is standing at the head of the aisle, about the existence of a "gay lobby" within the Vatican. Francis begins by making a joke, saying he hasn't yet run into anyone with a special gay identification card. But then his face becomes serious and, gesturing for emphasis, he says it's important to distinguish between lobbies, which are bad – "A lobby of the greedy, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of Masons, so many lobbies!" he says later in the press conference – and individual gay people who are well-intentioned and seeking God. It's while speaking to the latter point that he makes the "Who am I to judge?" remark, and this part of the video is really worth watching, because, aside from the entirely mind-blowing fact of a supposedly infallible pope asking this question at all, his answer is never really translated properly. What he actually says is, "Mah, who am I to judge?" In Italian, mah is an interjection with no exact English parallel, sort of the verbal equivalent of an emphatic shrug. My dad's use of mah most often precedes his resignedly pouring another splash of grappa into his coffee. The closest translation I can come up with is "Look, who the hell knows?" If you watch the video, Francis even pinches his fingers together for extra Italian emphasis. Then he flashes a knowing smirk.
Even simple gestures, like Francis' rejection of the papal palace, went beyond mere symbolism. "The main reason he didn't want to live there mostly had to do with autonomy," says a Vatican clergyman who has worked closely with multiple popes. "In the palace, they can control what gets to you." Now, while Francis' days in some ways follow an expected papal itinerary – early rising and prayer, morning Mass, visits with dignitaries and heads of state, the occasional off-site trip to a hospital or a church – the space he's carved out for himself has allowed for an unprecedented degree of independence. While past popes maintained detailed public schedules, Francis handwrites his own agenda in a private datebook. "This is unheard of," a senior Vaticanisti who wishes to remain anonymous tells me. "Aides who'd ordinarily know what's going on have to piece things together by talking to other people." Confirms Father Lombardi, the Vatican press secretary, with the hint of a sigh, "Before, I was in contact with the Curia and could ask them what the daily agenda is. Now, we have to discover what the agenda is. He is very free in organizing it."
No word yet on if the Pope has purchased 5 copies for his mother.
I see that ESPN's "Outside the Lines" is reporting that football players at Northwestern are attempting to unionize. I'm not an expert on labor law, the National Labor Relations Act, or the National Labor Relations Board. It seems that the key question is whether football players should be considered employees under the Act. Here is a brief legal analysis that says they are likely to fail.
The NCAA, of course, thinks no. NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy said "student-athletes are not employees within any definition of the National Labor Relations Act." And that "their participation in college sports is voluntary." I'm not sure what "voluntary" has to do with anything. Certainly my employment is "voluntary," yet I'm still considered an employee.
Even if the "voluntary" issue is somehow relevant, how voluntary can it be for, say, the average Division I football or basketball player on a scholarship, especially at a private institution like Northwestern? If a player decided he just didn't feel like practicing one week, could he "re-volunteer" the next week and everything would be just fine?
Also this from Remy seems rather silly: "This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education." But surely many other students hold down jobs, even unionized ones, while in college.
Anyway, this brings up the whole question of whether college athletes should be paid more than they are. And I can't believe people continue to think "no" is an acceptable answer, or at least I don't find any of the arguments in favor of continuing the current system at all persuasive, although I am open to hearing them. Playing big-time, Division I college football or basketball is effectively a full-time job during the season, the colleges and universities generate millions of dollars from their programs, the NCAA and Big Conferences receive billions in TV royalties, and the coaches at the biggest schools are paid 7 figure salaries.