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An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-12-24 04:49
Subject: [links] Link salad waits for the fat man to fly
Security: Public
Tags:books, cancer, contests, cool, links, personal, politics, polls, publishing, religion, science, tech, videos
Don't forget the latest caption contest voting poll

daveraines on my cancer, from a Christian perspective — Dave's a pastor whom I like and respect a great deal.

E-Book Pricing: Attack of the Consultants — Andrew Wheeler is snarky (and interesting) about the book market. I especially like his observation about the limits of competition. It's really not a zero sum game.

Ring Shadowplay on a Saturn Moon — Something to make you smile, from Bad Astronomy.

Honda develops a motorized unicycle — (Thanks to chriswjohnson.)

Imprecatory prayer — And people wonder why I'm an atheist. In truth, not because there are religious nuts; there are plenty of non-religious nuts. I do feel accurate in observing that religion privileges many kinds of nuttery that would be diagnosable outside that context. Though I do love the notion of God as an inept assassin. (Thanks to garyomaha.)

?otD: How do you like your turkey?

Body movement: 30 minutes on stationary bike
Hours slept: 7.5
This morning's weigh-in: 225.0
Currently reading: Finch by Jeff VanderMeer

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shelly_rae: Piglet!
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2009-12-24 17:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I like my turkey in mole sauce served in a handmade tortilla. With cheese.
Thanks! When will it get here?
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User: daveraines
Date: 2009-12-24 18:11 (UTC)
Subject: "God as inept assassin"

The story I like concerns Ben Franklin and the invention of the lightning rod. The rods proved effective, so people all over started putting them up. Except the churches: wouldn't want to defuse the weapon of God's anger.

What happened, of course, is that churches got hit by "God's anger" and other places didn't.

It was complicated by the fact that, in colonial America, churches were often used as repositories for explosives.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-12-24 19:40 (UTC)
Subject: Re: "God as inept assassin"
I have to ask, what was the point of storing explosives in a church? That they were common property with solid architecture?
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User: daveraines
Date: 2009-12-24 22:42 (UTC)
Subject: Re: "God as inept assassin"
Yes. And they had nice deep basements. Crypts and wine cellars and so forth.
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Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2009-12-24 19:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
One of the things that I take away from Dave Raines' essay is that, from the perspective of an unbeliever, it's... "short sighted" is about the only word I can think of.

It doesn't help Jay to think about it, but let's face it: the therapies he's using to fight his cancer are new, they've only been around for twenty years. Before that, Jay Was Doomed. Now, he has a chance.

Twenty years from now, if we're smart and lucky, we'll have more than a chance. It'll be an almost sure thing. The risk of needle-related sepsis may be higher than whatever therapy they're using for cancer twenty years from now.

Dave seems self-aware enough to recognize this eventually: it used to be that one experienced cancer as a Great Opportunity To Prepare To Meet One's Maker (if maker there be and It has any desire to meet you). Now it's a great opportunity to "come through cancer with a deeper appreciation for life, love, and God." Someday, barring civilizational collapse, that opportunity will be lost.

Leon Kass is already mourning that day. I don't think Raines would; he comes across as humane in a way that Kass does not. Still, I can't help but wonder how Raines feels that this "Christian... opportunity for experiencing the sacred" is being whittled away, day by day, by men and women whose only real wish is to see to it that Jay gets to dote on his grandchildren someday.
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User: daveraines
Date: 2009-12-24 23:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Re: whittling away cancer - Well, I praise the men and women who work on it, and also praise (you should excuse me) God.

I feel like I'm both short-sighted and long-sighted. Yes, with luck and skill, cancer therapy will progress, and cause no more trouble than the flu. A shot of nanobots, and back to work! So, yes, I'm saying that - right now - cancer can lead to spiritual depth. I haven't experienced it myself, so I'm kind of uncomfortable making that claim; but I know people who do. Future mileage may vary.

On the other hand, I'm far less sanguine than I once was that our scientific progress will lead to Utopia. I think there'll be plenty of "opportunity" for people to go through crises of death and mortality, alas. And, I should add, joy and vitality. Any kind of intense experience can, for a Christian, lead us to "experience the sacred." The real artists of faith experience the sacred in the day-to-day as well.

I make no claims for non-Christians.

And now I'm going to have to find out who Leon Kass is... Google, here I come!

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User: ulfhirtha
Date: 2009-12-24 23:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The piece on imprecatory prayer brings to mind Twain's "The War Prayer", let alone that those who would make such prayers would do well to meditate on their Matthew 5:21-22 ("You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire"). By this attitude, would not these "righteous men", appealing to God to smite the offender, become themselves the offenders by so doing? (to use their own paradigm, let alone the sheer monstrousness of what they are doing and how blind they are to that horror)

As for lightning rods, Melville's short story on the Lightning Rod man is an interesting examination of the theme.
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January 2014
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