Archive for October, 2009

Michelangelo GodCreates-Man-Sistine-Chapel

So this is how it happened… an appealing story, though… one has to admit.

It’s really easy for people today to assume that people who lived ‘back then’ were dumber. 

And some modern historians want to belive that a lot of people who lived ‘back then’ were secret athiests, becuase today it’s pretty obvious that much of what organized religion will claim is fairly laughable and unscientific.  (Excepting for the christian ethical code, which in its historical sense, is probably one of the better ethical codes that any religion has come up with – a good mix of humanism and egalitarianism lies at the core of the gospels). (more…)


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I like to think about how truly and deeply quiet it was…

From my own experience and from talking with other college professors, I know that the great majority of university students assumes that technology is almost all good.  Historians tell us that that the average person in western society became increasingly enamoured of science, and of increasing technology, since about the mid-nineteenth century; at roughly the same time when advances in chemistry and medicine enabled the creation of effective drugs on a whole new scale.  While many traditional medicines did help many ailments, there were also plenty of basic things which were untreatable by such methods.  For example, the industrial revolution caused many people to live crowded together in cities, so that they could be close to the factories where they often worked for 16 hour days, six days per week. 


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The other day a friend posted this economist article about British Darwin-popularizer Richard Dawkins’ latest book.  The article goes on to note that there is no scientist worth their bachelor’s degree who would suggest that evolution is anything other than how things work:  to deny evolution is to deny, at this point in history, almost every basic law of science, since they all corroborate far too neatly:  to deny evolution is literally as irrational as denying the law of gravity.    

That story reminded me of a Caravaggio image that I’d seen a few days earlier, depicting “St. Matthew and the angel.”  Sadly, the original painting was in Berlin during the war, and was destroyed, and so all we have now is a black and white photo.  I actually came across the image on a book cover, and I did a double take, and then I began to stare.  For some reason, the image really moved me – because I began to see what it was about:  St. Matthew, of course, is writing the first of the gospels– those books of ‘good news,’ which announce to the world that it is now saved:  that Jesus has come to redeem mankind from Adam’s fall, a disaster which had occurred some eight thousand years earlier and condemned the entire race to perpetual darkness.  But from now on, the gospels were interpreted as saying, everyone in the world who believes in Jesus could go to heaven and have eternal bliss, whereas everyone prior to this announcement had, by default, gone to hell, due to the original sin of Adam and Eve.  May sound harsh to us now, but what moved most people through the history of Christianity, in the harsh world they found themselves in, was the possibility of redemption:  the beauty of the notion of paradise, and the astonishing good fortune that they had, as people who were lucky enough to be there when God was handing out free passes to heaven. (more…)

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So here’ s a little theory that if i wrote up for the right magazine, might get me a few hundred bucks.  But, because i’m not really in the right network, and because i’m concentrating my writing powers on my academic career at present, i am publishing the idea here, even tho someone might use it to write a book out of, because i think that this is a piece of the political dialogue which has generally been missing.

It seems like the liberals are finally starting to get it.  One of al gore’s books a few years back, i forget which one, started with the notion that fear was the enemy of reason, and therefore enemy of democracy.  And obama has been talking a lot about empathy lately.  (Maybe Yoda finally clued them in…)  And reproduced below is an article from ‘the onion,’ which clearly points to the notion that the main charactisteric of ‘gay haters’ is that they have not yet found much in the way of empathy for others. (more…)

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Sometimes, particularly in the evenings, I think that my best friend’s death has really sapped my resilience… or maybe it was having kids.  No, it was definitely both.  I think that having two kids 2.5 years apart, which has meant:  six years of not sleeping through the night, coupled with five years of almost continuous crying, followed by and blended in with 3-4 years now of continuous inane prattle (and i really do think my kids are super cute, and they are pretty bright for kids, but still…) has done a permanent number on my ability to be resilient.  that, and, perhaps reaching my late 30s, when it now definately feels like i’m starting to slide into middle age.  and, having an ADD asshole for a boss the last year hasn’t helped either. (more…)

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  calvin klein_edited

Thank gravy for Thomas Merton…perhaps he was Michael Moore’s spiritual mentor?  Image originally from adbusters, courtesy the following link: (tho said person devotes their time to talking about how Adbusters isn’t really much of a ‘buster’, but more of a kind of weird love/hate relationship thing that’s not so much subversive as perverse, which I have always thought myself).   

So, as it says above… is it morally wrong to major in advertising or marketing?  …and, we can now add, are these professions potentially dangerous and/or damaging to a democratic culture?  Yes, and yes.  Is the short answer.   

Why?  Because, as an advertiser, your entire job is to convince people to buy things that they otherwise would not.  Sure, we know this.  Who cares?  The problem is, it has become much more insidious than that, as we shall see momently. (more…)

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…and is this bad for democracy?

The enlightenment asserted that all men (and by implication women) are created equal.  This we know.  But perhaps the most significant advance of the enlightenment was the notion that each person should be treated with dignity by the court system:  the notion that every person had an inalienable right to bodily integrity.  Clearly, the person in the photo below has lost their right to bodily integrity. 


(Yes, this is a problem…with broad social implications.  Taken from a post in which the author argues that he especially likes the “sound” of exploding heads in Gears of War 2).

It can be argued that the most fundamental change in European life brought about by the enlightenment, then, perhaps even more fundamental than the French revolution itself, was the reform of the judiciary in England, which brought about the notion that accused persons should always, even after they are condemned, retain the right to be treated with dignity, rather than having their very bodies be turned into a grisly public spectacle, as was normal from the middle ages through the eighteenth century.


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