Mar 26, 2011



Getting out of town ...

Mar 22, 2011

End Times economics

I'm sure it has more to do with changes in technology and culture, than anything about how apocalypticism itself has changed, but still, it's curious:

The Millerites, predicting the imminent end of the world in 1843, only accepted pre-payment for their literature.

The We Can Know-ers, saying the world will end by October, give their literature away for free on the internet but do accept credit card donations.
Save the date

The most famous American millennialist movement to actually pick a date for the end of the world, The Millerites, picked Oct. 22.

Forerunners of the Adventists, William Miller and co. picked that date in 1843 based on interpretive reading of the numbers of the book of Daniel.

The religious group most actively pushing the idea of end of the world in America today has also actually picked a date: Oct. 21.

The date, according to the group, can be figured from the story of Noah, 2011 being exactly 7,000 years after the flood, God having said "7 days" and a day meaning a thousand years.

They say May 21, 2011 will the rapture, and that's the date that's gotten a bit of attention on their billboards and in the media, but they also set the second date in the fall for destruction of the world by fire. ("On October 21st, 2011, God will completely destroy this creation and all of the people who never experienced the salvation of Jesus Christ along with it.")

The two groups have similar interpretive methods and, obviously, are fixed upon the same subject, but why do the two dates come out so close together? Ostensibly, they're using two different starting places from which to count, Daniel vs. Noah. For both groups, the year(s), 1843 and 2011, respectively, seem like the important part and the day is a little more incidental. As far as I can tell, the recent, WE CAN KNOW! group isn't Adventist and has no connection to Ellen White or that tradition, which might connect them to the date. The Jewish calendar is lunar, so I don't think a particular festival or ceremony would always fall on that day...

So, why the connection of Oct. 21/22?

Mar 21, 2011

Wife in evening

Mar 20, 2011

Then one day I looked around / and I found the sun shining down

"The coverage of war by the press has one consistent and pernicious theme--the worship of our weapons and our military might. Retired officers, breathless reporters, somber news anchors, can barely hold back their excitement, which is perverse and--frankly, to those who do not delight in watching us obliterate other human beings--disgusting ... turning war into entertainment and a way to empower ourselves as a nation and individuals. And none of us are untainted. It is the dirty thrill people used to get from watching a public execution. We are hangmen."

Chris Hedges, The Press and the Myth of War

Mar 18, 2011

Confusion and seeing

Mar 17, 2011

A few things I like about the first sentence of The Pale King, the book David Foster Wallace was working on when he killed himself and which is going to be published next month

"Past the flannel plains and blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-​brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the a.m. heat: shattercane, lamb’s‑quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nutgrass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtail, muscadine, spinecabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butter-​print, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all heads gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother’s soft hand on your cheek."

Mar 16, 2011

Evangelicals @ the A.V. club

The recent universalist kerfuffle & Rob Bell twitterstorm is only another example: conservative American Christians are very actively engaged with new technology.

There's a persistent notion that they're not, though. That they're technology averse. Or unsettled by it and by the "new fast pace of the world." Longing for the good old days ... etc.

The evidence says otherwise.

The evidence says evangelicals and conservative Christians dominate when it comes to technology, and are avid, eager users.

Mar 15, 2011


Watching for the way it will be
Donald L. Cox, Black Panther, dies at 74. May he rest in peace. Bret Easton Ellis: Charlie Sheen is winning: winning America Christian college head resigns, guilty of wire fraud Online poker invaded by poker-playing bots What if you took Glen Beck seriously? Mormons running for the White House One man's fight to save the Euro What comes before the question? Adapting Philip K. Dick's Ubik The internet tried to kill me The abuse of Private Manning Don't talk to the police Edward Gorey mania All things nuclear Writer's sheds Thomas Kuhn's ashtray A history of anarchism America's Muslim debate Germany's Muslim debate Marijuana legalization a serious issue Smithsonian to restore Jefferson Bible Introduction to Rene Girard anthropology of violence The problem with Mardi Gras -- you have only one body Eddie Kirkand, who lived the blues while trying to live the blues, dies at 87. May he rest in peace. Owsley Stanley, LSD chemist, is dead at 76. May he rest in peace. Musical pi Mathematical ad-speak America’s new psychedelic music Coming out of New York subways More read news online than on paper How Obama betrayed his Gitmo promise When do negative reviews have positive effects? Interview with the author of “Unprotected Texts” Bands with crazy but awesome names from SXSW ‘11 Ira Glass defends public radio from charges of liberal bias “that which I lack faith in is Church of England Christianity” Alexander Graham Bell's delightfully weird sketchbooks David Simon on opportunities for actresses in “other America” Talking to Eugene Peterson, pastor and translator of The Message Bible.

Mar 14, 2011

Tom Wait and his 93 moons

Tom Waits’ work started with a moon.

His very first song on his very first album is “Grapefruit Moon.” In the song, the title image, along with “one star,” is “shining, shining down on me.” It’s a lovesick ballad played slow on the piano. A pining song that’s that close to cliché. It teeters on the edge, almost sappy, almost silly, a song built around that lunar fruit that almost drips with saccharine.

It’s the first moon in a career of moons, and like a first crush, it’s clumsy and, in retrospect, maybe a little bit embarrassing. He wasn’t done, though. Waits has a thing for moons, and has been working on lyrical variations of this one metaphor for gong on 40 years.

There are 93 moons in Waits’ songs, according to the Tom Waits Library. 93 moons — it’s a lot of commitment to one image. A lot of work on one turn of phrase.

Tom Waits' many, many moons @ TheThe.

Mar 12, 2011

I'm really trying / to make it through the night

Mar 11, 2011

Peep

Mar 10, 2011

Going higher

Mar 9, 2011

Holy Hubert preaching (for my father)



Also, pictures.

Mar 8, 2011

But kings don't sleep here anymore

The art of the police report
David Foster Wallace, edited
Tom Waits and Robert Frank (what they were thinking)
Don't blame the victim (even though it makes you feel better)
Christopher Nolan's Memento, 10 years later
Jesse Jackson reads Green Eggs and Ham
Map of the languages of the world
NPR letter writers are the worst
Reading Gaga's Born This Way
Pulpy German sci fi covers
Richard Dawkins, literally
Leo Strauss archives
Reading churches
Picture on the cover: the origin of the use of photos on book covers
Judith Coplon, who gave Justice Dept. info to Soviets, dies at 89. May she rest in peace.
Peter Gomes, complicated man and minister, dies at 68. May he rest in peace.
Jewish identity and pride is not a good reason to oppose anti-semitism
Security studies should seriously consider non-violence
Tao Lin’s ‘Shoplifting from American Apparel’ the movie
Radical Atheism and the arche-materiality of time
First Latino Archbishop in US takes to the pulpit
Catholics come out with new bible translation
Mil chaplain: rape must have been God’s will
The libertarian case for health care mandate
C.S. Lewis’s translation of the Aeneid found
Unsung heroes of the thermo-nuclear age
Yoga: neither very old nor very Hindu
The marginalization of Lacan
Lovecraft’s favorite words
Rap lets the freak flag fly
The evolution of the eye
Rumsfeld’s clean-up job
Blue Like Jazz, the movie
The president’s speech
Boyle’s finest novel yet
Religious art is still art
Tyson’s pigeons

Mar 7, 2011

The fight for the right to define 'evangelical'

There's nothing very theologically interesting about the recent controversy within evangelicalism over hell. The sides were pretty much what we know the sides to be. And, more than an argument, much less any new or creative arguments, most of what there was, was re-insistence.

That, people said, is not Christianity.

Like an ex-communication could be twittered.

Mar 5, 2011

Mar 4, 2011

Translating the Bible & the 'human hand'

The translator's introduction to the NIV Bible -- at least in Zondervan's 2001 edition with the blue hardback cover, produced en masse for churches, though I assume the introduction is used in multiple editions -- goes over your basic, scriptural translation issues. It talks about the process, a little bit, how there were teams of translators and also style editors. It talks about a couple of translation choices that were made, what word, for example, they translated as "God," and what "Lord," what "LORD," and what they did when the translation would have read "Lord LORD," which just sounds weird in English and so got translated another way.

All that seems pretty normal, but I was surprised by two things:

Mar 3, 2011

Snyder v. Phelps

Free speech won, in Snyder v. Phelps. And repulsively evil people won too.

The two are connected. That's the way it works.

Free speech is only free speech if it protects horrible, unacceptable speech.

The right to say acceptable things doesn't need to be protected. It can't just protect artists ahead of their time, and righteous people speaking truth to power. Cretins are the vanguard of the defense of free speech.

Justice Samuel Alito's dissent is mostly an argument that free speech is not limited by prohibitions against defamation. The Westboro Baptists were "Exploitat[ing] a funeral for the purpose of attracting public attention," they "intentionally inflict[ed] severe emotional injury on private persons at a time of intense emotional sensitivity by launching vicious verbal attacks that make no contribution to public debate." Alito characterizes the horribleness of the Westboro Baptists as brutalizing the dead man, and argues "they maintained that the First Amendment gave them a license to engage in such conduct. They are wrong."

But who decides what is a contribution to public debate?

Legally, defamation is communication published "so as to hurt his good fame." This means it must be: 1) not true, 2) malicious, 3) damaging to his reputation.

Clearly the Westboro Baptist were being malicious. Which is Alito's point. They could have free speeched somewhere else, but it was an important part of their plan to cause pain and outrage. If the Westboro Baptists were to defend against defamation, they'd have to just admit the malicious part.

The reputation part is more questionable, though it seems like the church could successfully argue they didn't damage Snyder's reputation. It wasn't his they were really after, anyway.

The claim of truth would be kind of moot. I'm not sure the truth of those claims could be determined by the court. God couldn't exactly be called to testify about whether or not he hates America and is glad when soldiers die, because he hates homosexuality so much.

Which is probably a good thing for Westboro, since if God could come to court he would be able to file his own defamation claim against the church, since they're bruising and battering his reputation all over the place.

Late night books


Photography must be the most self-erasing of arts. The most self-effacing: it makes itself invisible. The texture of photography is invisible and it has an authority that’s so great as to seem not to be an authority, but just to be a natural state. It is just there. Of course we take photographs to be more than record, but to be, actually, evidence: they are not just most in line with our idea of actual truth, they are what we mean by the word and idea. The photography itself erases itself for us, and leaves us just the real.

Or so we think.

The photographic nature of photographs, the photographic qualities of photographs, the photographic characteristics and texture of photographs … they all evaporate before us. We can’t see them. They disappear for us and we see only the referred to, only that which is signified. The sign is see-through, the referential transparent.

Read the rest of the essay, The photographic character of photographs, @ TheThe.