Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Will anti-gay stance be fall of Scientology?

Film director Paul Haggis ("Crash"), announced he is quitting the Church of Scientology because it opposes gay marriage.

A spokesman for the religion says that the church does not oppose California's Propostion 8, which would ban same-sex marriages, but that Haggis may have misunderstood a local congregation's announcement.

Comments on the Los Angeles Times site indicate that Haggis may be right, though.

Haggis is correct.
Hubbabard (sic) himself had this to say:
"In any event, any person from 2.0 down on the Tone Scale should not have, in any thinking society, any civil rights of any kind, because by abusing those rights he brings into being arduous and strenuous laws which are oppressive to those who need no such restraints."
L Ron Hubbard
Science of Survival
Yes, gay people are considered to be below 2.0 on the Scientology Tone Scale, so
are people with black, yellow or brown skin.


I believe Haggis' letter already states that he understands that the San Diego chapter didn't represent ALL of Scientology.

His issue was that the "church" had not done enough to discipline the SD chapter, or clearly state that the "church" was not in favor of discrimination. He requested that the "church" do this and waited a long time for the "church" to act.

I think he did a brave thing.


If celebs start to find conflicts in their trendy religion will they dump it?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Conservative Bible might be a liberal translation

Lots of conservative Christians have gotten upset in recent years over attempts to "liberal up" the Bible. Now they've got something else they should be upset about: a Conservative Bible.

The New International Version, which has usurped the King James Version in popularity for at least the past two decades, attempted to put more gender-inclusive language in the text a few years ago. It didn't go over well.

Already words such as "brothers" had been translated "brothers and sisters" and "men" were called "people" when it was clear that both sexes were being represented.

But now the group that brought you Conservapedia as an antidote to Wikipedia is undertaking to translate the Bible with all the liberalism taken out. (They're doing this on the Conservapedia site at http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project.)

Much like with Wikipedia, men, women, boys and girls can log in, and, if they feel confident in their ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin and Koine Greek, can offer conservative translations of the text.

While I'm biblically conservative myself, I was skeptical of a project to purposefully translate the Bible in a conservative context. I've read several opinion pieces lambasting the idea, usually from people more liberal than myself. Leonard Pitts throws in the ad hominem that Conservapedia intends to "remake Jesus of Nazareth in the image of Dick Cheney." That's unnecessary. There's enough to attack this effort on, even from a conservative point of view, without resorting to cheap shots.

First, why set out to translate the Bible from a conservative point of view? Theological conservatives are typically biblical literalists, so if you truly believe modern translations have been corrupted from a liberal mindset, then you should correct it from the viewpoint of accuracy, not conservatism. (Of course, whether you be conservative, liberal or whatever, you consider your own viewpoint to be The Truth. Problem is, if you are biblically conservative, you also believe yourself to be "sinful," a Greek archery term for "missing the mark." So you're probably wrong about something, hence your need to pray regularly and seek God's guidance.)

But no, the Conservative Bible Project intends to reduce "liberal wordiness" and nine other such principals, a good many of them anti-liberal/pro-conservative rather than anti-error/pro-truth.

They've caught flak from liberals for wanting to get rid of the passage from John about the woman caught in adultery. They have good arguments for deleting it: It isn't in the oldest available manuscripts, and liberals themselves agree on this point. But the conservative Bible project wants it for that reason and because "liberals commonly put their own spin on" it.

Dudes, liberals can put their own spin on anything. And so can conservatives--which is exactly what you are trying to do with this project. The best translators try to overcome bias by using teams that include various points of view, thus reducing the chance of getting a conservative or liberal Bible, but one that is as close to the original texts as possible. The Conservative Bible Project is using only conservatives for it's project, and in fact, is trying to speed the process by having a single person translate each section -- not a team.

I hate to break it to Andrew Schlafly and the rest of the crew at the Conservative Bible Project, but "conservative" means not changing, while "liberal" means advocating some type of change. So, essentially, their Conservative Bible is theological liberalism.

Photo courtesy:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

R. Crumb pens entire comic book of Genesis

Comic book legend R. Crumb has adapted the entire first book of the Pentateuch in his latest release.

For those unfamiliar with his work, he might be best known as the creator of the "Keep on Truckin'" poster from the 1970s that featured a dude with a greatly foreshortened leg and giant foot.

Crumb, who was raised in an atheist household but schooled by nuns, describes himself as a gnostic. He doesn't believe Genesis represents true stories, nor does he believe it to be the Word of God. Still, he has reportedly remained faithful to the story, and has included all 50 chapters.

The book sells for $24.99.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ave Maria Grotto to dedicate statue of creator

The Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama, will dedicate a statue of its creator, Brother Joseph Zoettl. The Benedictine monk created miniatures of famous sites such as St. Peter's in Rome, and the site has become a major tourist attraction at St. Bernard Abbey.

The life-size statue will be unveiled in the grotto on Sunday, October 18 at 2 p.m. The dedication ceremony also will show off the grotto's redesigned gift shop. Admission during today's ceremonies is free.

Read more on the dedication on al.com.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Airlines to charge non-fliers

In an effort to increase revenue major airlines have instituted a no-fly policy in which travelers will be assessed a fee when they choose alternate modes of transportation, an airline industry official announced today.

"More vacationers are choosing to drive their cars," said Tim Terry, president of Sky Craft Reacting Enjoyably With You, "and that means less revenue for the airlines." Still, Terry noted, non-fliers receive benefits from commercial aircraft because the people who do fly cause less congested roadways.

"This has been used by local governments for years," Terry explained. "Non-users of sewer systems are sometimes taxed because they receive a benefit by their being a sewer system in place."

Travelers weren't so happy.

"Well, they've already exhausted all the other ways to stick it to travelers," said frequent flier Phil Durt outside Chicago's O'Hare Airport. "I guess this was the next logical step."

The fees began today, and Terry said that next non-business travelers will be charged when they hold web meetings.

Photo courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marinaavila/ / CC BY 2.0

Social cognitive neuroscience is our friend?

"The hard sciences are interpenetrating the social sciences. This isn’t dehumanizing. It shines attention on the things poets have traditionally cared about: the power of human attachments. It may even help policy wonks someday see people as they really are. "

That's how New York Times columnist David Brooks ends his recent column extolling the virtues of social cognitive neuroscience.

I guess it depends on your perspective.

A lot of people would take the news that most of our feelings, beliefs and actions are merely the result of neural firings as quite dehumanizing, indeed. Some scientists have said for generations that the existence of God cannot be proved because he can't be put under a microscope. Trouble was, at the time, neither could his creatures.

Now, it appears, we creatures can be reduced to mere electrical impulses. While I'll not argue against their science, I do find it less than humanizing to say that's all we are. It seems that once you can show something under a microscope, that's all it is. The search for a unified field theory doesn't include philosophy; that's just a hobgoblin we're on the verge of killing with hard science. Microscopes: Real. Ideas: Electricity.

Brooks marvels in his column that the scientists exploring this brave new field are young -- in their 20s and 30s. Whatever happened to the wisdom of age?

Photo courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mybloodyself/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Whatever happened to forfeiting?

"The UAB volleyball match with Marshall has been rescheduled for Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at Bartow Arena. The match was postponed from last week because several Marshall players (were) ill," reports The Birmingham News.

Because several players were ill? Didn't we used to forfeit a game if for any reason we couldn't play? Should the Florida Gators reschedule all their football games until they're certain their star quarterback Tim Tebow is fully recovered from his concussion? Maybe Republicans should demand a new presidential election because they didn't have an adequate candidate.

Jon and Kate should just declare a do-over. Wait, they already did.

Life ain't fair, we used to be told, so you just have to live with the results. But more and more someone will ensure life is fair and the playing field is leveled. I hate to tell the Marshall volleyball team, but Mommy, Daddy and the athletic director won't be able to secure their second chances throughout their lives, so enjoy it while it lasts.