Wednesday, June 30, 2010
With the old Fremont NUMMI plant being resurrected to produce electric cars, and all the amazing news of the Tesla Motors stock offering, I thought it might be fun to check on the possibility of trading in one of my old clunkers for something new. Would the Tesla Roadster work?
Being used to driving a beat up old minivan, the Roadster looks a bit cramped, but maybe the price tag would make the case a bit more compelling. In this case, the number is $109,000. Given that the most expensive car in a church parking lot I have seen is the BMW 750il, which is only about $90,000, this is definitely out. Bad image.
For the rest of you without these constraints, don't be too quick to reject this as overpriced. Normally a high priced item like this would get Edward Kennedy's ire and be hit with a luxury goods tax, but Ted is dead and this is different. This roadster is fully electric powered, thus, it is good for the environment. The US federal government thus provides a rebate of $7,500. Then there are state incentives which apparently added up to $42,000 in Colorado at one time. California currently has a $5,000 rebate. Don't know about tax and license yet. Europe supposedly provides rebates too. Should I take a trip across the bay to Menlo Park with my camera and check one of these little enviro-wonders out?
The nice thing for me is that I can enjoy the benefits without even owning or driving the vehicle. The Tesla Motors Company picked up a $465 million repayment optional loan from the Federal Government to keep their Fremont plant going, while another $535 million of taxpayer money is being pumped into nearby Solyndra, which does great things for my house price. The next question is whether or not the taxpayers will have an appetite to continue subsidizing the rich to keep this going.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Since I have nothing new to contribute as far as scholarship goes, I will start with Witherington's quote:
"Bearing these things in mind, let us turn to the crucial Thucydidean text in 1.22.1-2 which has been analyzed endlessly by classics scholars, ancient historians, and biblical scholars." - The Acts of the Apostles, A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, Introduction, Luke-Acts and Rhetoric, Rhetoric, Speeches and Thucydides Approach.
There is much more that has been hashed out on this subject which is beyond me. The student Witherington had in mind presumably had a Greek version of Thucydides (460-395BC) handy and was proficient both in classical and Biblical Greek. All I want to do is to set the quotes in their English form side-by-side so that the subject can be comprehended by anyone, and, well, for my own amusement.
"With reference to the speeches in this history, some were delivered before the war began, others while it was going on; some I heard myself, others I got from various quarters; it was in all cases difficult to carry them word for word in one's memory, so my habit has been to make the speakers say what was in my opinion demanded of them by the various occasions, of course adhering as closely as possible to the general sense of what they really said." - The Peloponnesian War, 1.22.
Let's just say that the classical era had a pattern for speeches. The quote from Polybius is longer so I will leave it at the end. Another key feature is the first hand account: "some I heard myself". This parallels Luke's first hand observations:
"We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Kios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day to Miletus." Acts 20:13-15
There are several more of these, but the emphasis is that Luke is part of the events. Another passage is from 1 John:
"That which was from the beginning, which we heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us." - 1 John 1:1-2
While Luke may subtly follow his classical training, John - who is also quite aware of his classical studies - claims a higher standard.
Polybius (203-120BC) has much to say on the methods of scientific history, so here are only a few excerpts:
"Because of the importance and the unexpected character of these later events, and above all because I not only witnessed the greater number of them but also took part in some and directed the course of others, I was persuaded to write about them and to make them the starting-point of what amounts almost to a new work." - The Rise of the Roman Empire, 3.4
Heh! I got a relevant quote that Witherington missed! But his scholarship is still amazing.
"Now the special function of history, particularly in relation to speeches, is first of all to discover the words actually used whatever they were, and next to establish the reason why a particular action or argument failed or succeeded. The mere statement of a fact, though it may excite our interest, is of no benefit to us, but when the knowledge of the cause is added, then the study of history becomes fruitful." - The Rise of the Roman Empire, 12.25b
Taking these two together may both tell us about Luke's method, while also informing us on why Luke's speeches are shorter than others from classical writers. This is followed immediately by one of the most famous statements (at least in a paraphrased form) in the study of history:
"For it is the ability to draw analogies between parallel circumstances of the past and of our own times which enables us to make forecasts as to what is to happen: thus in some cases where a given course of action has failed, we are impelled to take precautions so as to avoid a recurrence, while in others we can deal more confidently with the problems that confront us by repeating a solution which has previously succeeded." - The Rise of the Roman Empire, 12.25b
The modern form is "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it". That, of course, presumes that history is recorded and taught correctly. And what of Christians who don't know their Bible?
I am not an environmentalist in the sense that I don't worship mother nature, nor do I feel compelled to listen to intellectuals who have the mentality of Chicken Little yet wave a Ph.d. At the same time, I love the environment and believe that God gave it to us as a gift to be cherished and used properly. Today's Mission Peak climb had me tuned into all the little creatures, but then this image of a chip bag jumped onto my camera sensor. Earlier a half eaten bag of snack was by the trail which I picked up. With my senses suddenly on alert, I was on the look out for more trash and less tarantulas.
As I continued, I found numerous plastic bottles, many more wrappers, a yogurt container, a six pack container for beer bottles and various other junk. Yes, that is a dirty diaper in the photo which was thankfully sun dried.
Now some may protest, "Why are you bothered about this, haven't you seen the news of the BP spill?". Yes, I saw the news. As much as BP needs to be held responsible for what they have done, I believe that BP did not deliberately blow their well, nor did they walk away and pretend like nothing happened. Incompetence and negligence are bad, but what of those who deliberately throw their trash aside and walk away? The magnitude of the crime might be less, but what of the morality?
Please pack your trash out. Scold someone who doesn't. And take a moment to stoop and pick up something that is just laying there. This time I accidentally came across a plastic grocery bag which made picking things up easier. Next time I will bring a bag.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Ah, the fun questions that we don't get to seriously discuss anymore! This one bothered the classical philosophers. Aristotle wrote on the subject and his work caused a great deal of discussion in the late Middle Ages - almost 1,500 years later. Here is what Aquinas concludes as a young man:
"I answer that it should be said that, though some say otherwise, it seems to me that neither in the soul nor in any spiritual substances can there be matter in any way, but they are simply forms and natures." - The Nature Of Theology, Book 2 - The Creation of Man.
Aristotle's view is described here:
"Moreover, according to the Philosopher in Metaphysics 8, the action of any agent terminates in a composite, But the action of God creating terminates in the soul which it brings into existence. Therefore it is composed of form and matter." - The Nature Of Theology, Book 2 - The Creation of Man.
In this, matter is per our modern usage and means something like material. Form is an arrangement or configuration of matter. A naturalistic conception of the soul is that it is like a computer program that runs in the biological hardware of our brain. Thus, I view Aquinas as being closest to the modern view, although as a practical matter we cannot separate program from computer for humans, so Aristotle has some merit. But then there were the Epicureans:
"The same reasoning proves that mind and spirit are both composed of matter ...
Here is a further indication how flimsy is the texture of the vital spirit and in how small a space it could be contained if it could be massed together. At the instant when a man is mastered by the carefree calm of death and forsaken by mind and spirit, you cannot tell either by sight or by weight that any part of the whole has been filched away from his body. Death leaves everything there, except vital sentience and warmth, Therefore the vital spirit as a whole must consist of very tiny atoms, linked together throughout veins, flesh and sinews - atoms so small that, when all the spirit has escaped from the whole body, the outermost contour of the limbs appears intact and there is no loss of weight. ...
On every ground, therefore, it may be inferred that mind and spirit are composed of exceptionally diminutive atoms, since their departure is not accompanied by any loss of weight." - Lucretius, On The Nature Of The Universe., 3.168-290
The Epicureans were effectively atheists and, as you can see, masters of science! Their answer to the question is the opposite extreme - that the soul is matter, not form.
The Bible has a few tidbits on the subject, but we will leave this for now.
That seems to be the gist of the ruling. The litigation on these matters has generally been successful for religious groups, but this seems to reverse everything. Countless groups ranging from the Boy Scouts to various Christian Fellowships will be tossed off campus, while groups that are committed to maximizing the spread of HIV and depravity will be permitted. Of course Christian groups discriminate against Muslim groups and Muslim groups discriminate against Christian, but that doesn't disqualify them. Being of the Carnivore orientation, I would shed no tears if a group committed to the Vegan orientation found me offensive and excluded me. I also have to wonder if gay groups would be particularly thrilled with Al Qaeda or Taliban types joining them. Only discrimination against gays disqualifies ... or does it? Will a Muslim group be excluded?
A new web site for San Francisco sports showed up, but first some random babbling:
The greater San Francisco area is both the most beautiful place on earth and has the most sporting events where people can actually participate. Trail runs, swims, bicycling. One event I did was the Napa Valley Vineman. At 8:00am I was swimming the 2.4 miles along the Russian River using the redwood tree tops to navigate. Most of the day was spent bicycling and
The Stinson Beach Marathon was another such event. We began on the sandy beach, push ourselves up over a ridge and down into Muir Woods National Monument for a scenic run through the redwoods. Climbing back up the mountain, we then do the second half with a long run along Bolinas Ridge at the peak of wild flower season. If I had to come up with a slogan for this event, it would be "pain and flowers". Anyway, there are countless more events like the run/climb up and down the various falls of Berry Creek in Big Basin Redwoods, but hopefully it is clear that it takes little effort to make an artistic event here.
The new website is called Swim Art, which is for another group that is organizing San Francisco Bay swims. And what could be more artistic than putting yourself into a situation where you are going to be water boarded for an hour? They have an Alcatraz Swim coming up on July 4th which looks promising. This group also has an option for renting a personal kayak escort (only $30) to guide you in. What raised an eyebrow was an event called "Gay in the Bay". I will need to take some time to process this.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
It has been popular with modern academics to dismiss Luke as the author of both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts in the Bible. Allegations of inconsistency abound, and they plead that the genre is unknown, but search for other sources where someone wrote a history and then contrived to put himself into it. (Sounds like some modern US politicians.)
On reading through Witherington's The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, Ben quotes someone who claims that the genre of Luke/Acts is that of the classical Greek Historians, Thucydides (460-395BC) and Polybius (203-120BC). Some of the reasons will be highlighted. To make such a statement is quite radical. Thucydides isn't some random minor writer. Instead, he is one of the most famous Greek historians and would be known to any classical Greek scholar. In fact any historian would know the name because Thucydides set the standard for carefully investigating historical facts. The larger theory is that Luke was given a classical education, for which Thucydides would have been mandatory reading. As such, it is likely that this would be the standard that Luke strived for as he set about recording the gospel and the acts of the apostles.
Here is an example:
"So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." - The Peloponnesian War, 1.20.
"Therefore since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." - Luke 1:3-4
We will see what else comes up as I read Thucydides.
Friday, June 25, 2010
"From this we can draw two conclusions. One, that this science (theology) as the principal one commands all the others; second, that it uses for its own sake all other sciences which are its vassals, as is evident in the ordered arts, where the end of one comes under the end of another. For example pharmacy, which is the art of preparing remedies, is ordered to the end of medicine, which is health." - The Nature of Theology, Book 1.
This notion of the ordering of sciences is new to me, but seems quite sensible. Today, the principle theology is atheism or theistic atheism which acknowledges God but denies God's relevance. Everything has been made subservient to this master.
"It is from such principles, not disdaining common principles, that this science proceeds; it has no way of proving them, save to defend them against naysayers, but then no scientist proves his principles." - The Nature of Theology, Book 1.
This statement contradicts the former notion. If each science/scientist has his own principles, then an ordering is quite meaningless. Some argue that the science of the middle ages was superseded by modern methods, but this is only true for engineering, and not even fully true there.
Then there is the science of evolution which only has the principle that evolution has no principles: Instead, principles are borrowed and discarded willy nilly from other sciences, praised and/or mocked depending on whether or not they support atheism, with no consistency whatsoever. A biology professor will publicly condemn intelligent design in the morning, and then use an intelligent design paradigm to explain to his class how something evolved in the afternoon, oblivious to the lack of consistency. Things are definitely not as orderly in the modern era as Aquinas had in mind.
"The statement that faith is below science is not true of infused faith, but of acquired faith, which is opinion fortified by argument." - The Nature of Theology, Book 1.
This notion of infused vs. acquired faith is new to me. If faith is "opinion fortified by argument", then what is faith fortified by argument, censoring all disagreement, and slandering those who disagree? (Again, evolution springs to mind, but there are plenty of other examples.)
Today is officially empty nest day. Everyone is packing and getting ready to go to the airport.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
"Therefore Allah will guard them from the evil of that day and cause them to meet with ease and happiness; And reward them, because they were patient, with garden and silk, Reclining therein on raised couches, they shall find therein neither (the severe heat of) the sun nor intense cold. And close down upon them (shall be) its shadows, and its fruits shall be made near (to them), being easy to reach. And there shall be made to go round about them vessels of silver and goblets which are of glass. (Transparent as) glass, made of silver; they have measured them according to a measure. And they shall be made to drink therein a cup the admixture of which shall be ginger, (Of) a fountain therein which is names Salsabil. And round about them shall go youths never altering in age; when you see them you will think them to be scattered pearls. And when you see there, you see blessings and a great kingdom." Qur'an, Surah 76.11-20
"Surely those who guard (against evil) shall be amid shades and fountains, and fruits such as they desire. Eat and drink pleasantly because of what you did." - Qur'an, Surah 77.41-43
Many passages have gone by which I hadn't given much thought to. Certainly eat and drink our necessary for our bodies, but is this the future for our resurrected state? We are taught to despise these cravings here on Earth so that we can focus on something better, yet it seems that the something better in the Qur'an is what we are to despise now. Christianity does have some worldly imagery, but the heaven of the Bible seems as something which makes all these desires meaningless - or at least that is how I have viewed it. Isn't there some cognitive dissonance to hoping for something in the afterlife which could be a sin now?
On Being and Essence is an essay regarding Aristotle's notions for classifying everything. Much of this talks of how we move between more general abstractions to the concrete, such as genus to species to man. We have an instance like Socrates or Plato. Then there is the notion of essence being a combination of matter + form, which then produces the argument over whether or not immaterial items like intelligence can have essence. There are also negative items like blindness which signifies the absence of something.
My main thought on reading this was about Object Oriented programming with the various base classes and derived classes, sub-class and super-class, abstract classes and interfaces. Then there is multiple inheritance that can bring together things like matter and form.
Some of the commentaries indicate that Plato and Aristotle were taking opposite views with regard to the class layout. Plato considered the most abstract and general to be the starting point, with everything derived from there, similar to sub-classing. Aristotle started with the concrete instance as the most basic, but then aggregates as if building the general classes out of multiple inheritance.
A picture is certainly worth ten thousand words in this discussion, but Aristotle only left us the words, thus, causing a great deal of confusion among 12th and 13th century philosophers who tried to digest all this. From my experience with object oriented design and analysis, there really isn't one right way to define and organize classes. There are simply designs which are easier or harder to work with depending on the application(s). Certainly it would be worth a dissertation to go back through the myriad discussions of philosophy and put it all into a modern, object oriented framework, but it won't be me doing this.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
"This is the book of the commandments of God, and the law that is for ever. All that keep it shall come to life; but they that have forsaken it, to death. Baruch 4.1" - Aquinas, The Inaugural Sermons, Commendation of and Division of Sacred Scripture.
This is a great sermon on the infallibility of scripture, yet it begins with this quote from Baruch and includes quotes from Ecclesiasticus, Judith and Tobit. If a preacher were to suddenly do this today in many conservative churches, he would be dismissed and tossed into outer darkness where there is only weeping and gnashing of teeth. Liberal churches would do the same, but regarding the content, rather than the choice of scripture in this sermon given by Aquinas.
I have a very sketchy notion of the acceptance of the Apocrypha (obscure writings) which came and went as scripture. What do we make of spiritual forgathers who taught from scripture that we no longer accept? In my case, I view much of it as inspired by the Holy Spirit, yet at the same time - for the sake of unity - I both study the Apocrypha but restrict my usage in teaching.
This certainly isn't an exact parallel to LDS scripture, but it does have me wondering how they view the Apocrypha.
Monday, June 21, 2010
"And I had come to you from the Gentiles and fixed my attention on the gold which you willed your people to take from Egypt, since the gold was yours, wherever it was." - Confessions.VII
The early church fathers considered the Bible to be both history and allegory, but their allegories went far beyond our current ones. The gold of Egypt represented to them truth about God which was to be found in Pagan religion or Pagan philosophy. This allegory, which few Christians know about today, has a huge impact on our theology, because much of the abstract discussion of God's nature derives directly from vocabulary and reasoning patterns of neo-Platonism. This was the training of Augustine and many other church fathers before they became Christians.
Another massive book. My plan was to read classical philosophy, early church fathers, and then work my way up to Calvin (John Calvin the theologian, not Calvin and Hobbes) so that I would have a complete knowledge of New Testament background and Christian theology. Reading the intro to this set my plan back by twenty years! Perhaps I need to set a less ambitious goal? Following is from the introduction, but I took some liberties.
Aquinas (1225AD-1274) is one of the Doctors of the Church and one of the most regarded theologians in Christian history as well as a key figure in the development of philosophy. Related to this is Averroism which was due to Averroes (1126AD-1198) who was an Arabic philosopher and is presented to us as a super-human intellect. The introduction highlights competing histories: First is the official one that Aquinas learned of Aristotle from Averroes and followed the lead of his intellectual superiors. In this version, learning is saved from the fanatical Christians of the Dark Ages by the intellectual superiority and tolerance of Islam. In turn, Islam proceeded to re-educate the Christian barbarians as they began to seek true enlightenment. This is more or less official dogma in our government schools.
The second version of history is based on a more careful study and shows that Averroes blindly followed and misunderstood Aristotle, claiming that there was no conflict between Aristotle and religion (i.e. Islam). This was picked up by others who proceeded to make a complete mess of theology and science by syncretizing Aristotle with the Bible (sounds like theistic-Darwinism!), generating an anti-Aristotle backlash from theologians. (Thus, teaching of Aristotle was banned in the University of Paris in the year 1210, as the middle ages were mostly over.) In this climate, Aquinas proceeds to correct Averroes misunderstandings, separates out Aristotle from Christianity again and goes back to the tradition of Augustine where we don't try to conflate pagan philosophy with Christianity. Instead we study pagan writers, noting what is good/bad, sharpen our thinking and get a better understanding of the Bible in the process. (Example from Augustine here.) For this sensibility Aquinas offended nearly everyone.
Needless to say, I prefer the second narrative since it brings Averroes down to a mere mortal, doesn't overly glorify Aquinas, and fits in quite well with my understanding of human nature. The other fact is that the official story can't be reconciled with the damage that was done by the followers of Averroes/Aristotle as we proceed into the future and ponder Galileo and others. Then there are plenty of tantalizing indicators that the lost knowledge was never lost - just that monks didn't preserve their reading lists. Off we go ...
Sunday, June 20, 2010
"So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners ... and (as for) those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will by no means allow their deeds to perish. He will guide them and improve their condition. And cause them to enter the garden which He has made known to them." - Qur'an, Surah 47.4-6
Thus, creating a bitter rivalry between me and my blog, whereas none had existed a few days ago. This certainly has the potential to develop in interesting ways.
I always appreciate her creative little stories from her experiences in India.
"Once, when St. Columba was living in the island of Hinba, he set about excommunicating those men who persecuted churches, in particular the sons of Conall mac Domnaill. ... Now, at the devil's prompting a man from the band of these men of evil attacked St Columba with a spear, meaning to kill him. To prevent this, one of the brethren, called Findlugan, stepped between them, ready to die instead of the saint. As it happened, he was wearing St Columba's cowl and miraculously this garment acted like a strong, impenetrable breastplate that could not be pierced, however sharp the spear or great the thrust of a strong man, but remained undamaged. ... " - Book II.
There are hundreds of such stories which sometimes give a Lord Of The Rings sense. This reminds me a bit of the tales of Eusebius, but these are all dismissed by historians like Gibbons as so much nonsense. Having read a wide range of classical and ancient literature, what strikes me the most is that there is nothing like the Christian literature.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
The coin is being proposed for a future reserve currency in a post-America / post-dollar world economic order. Clearly it isn't post-English, but it is post-Latin since E Pluribus Unum has morphed into Unity in Diversity, which isn't quite the same meaning. To make a clean break with the past, however, we really need a new language - something other than English. Thirty years ago, Esperanto would have been the logical choice, but what about today? Klingon? Elvish?
Friday, June 18, 2010
It is about one more week until I am formally empty nest. Mission San Jose had 29 valedictorians this year, but they saved us the torment of 29 speeches by having one speech where each one read a line.
"And We have enjoined on man doing of good to his parents; with trouble did his mother bear him and with trouble did she bring him forth; and the bearing of him and the weaning of him was thirty months; until when he attains his maturity and reaches forty years, he says: My Lord! grant me that I may give thanks for Thy favor which Thou hast bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do good which pleases Thee and do good to me in respect of my offspring; surely I turn to Thee, and surely I am of those who submit." - Qur'an Surah 46.15
It doesn't say at what age a woman becomes an adult, but it does remind me that I have wonderful parents.
Get ready for a shock: According to the report, the actual per student spending in the Los Angeles school district is $25,208, while the publicly stated spending is $10,053. Apparently the majority of the spending is off the books. Transportation is one area, but then there are things like benefits and payments for servicing loans that have been taken out.
I wasn't chosen, so am now free to give my observations. This being Fremont, a Jury pool is an international affair with Filipinos, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Koreans, assorted Indians Middle Easterners, plain dumb white folk and miscellaneous aliens. One had the last name Aung, which I will guess is Burmese and related to a famous politician. The representative from the police department was a young lady with the last name of Cang who was less than half the weight of the defendant. And no, the defendant wasn't particularly over sized. The prosecuting attorney was named Lau and the defense attorney named Gudaratna, although I have probably messed up the spelling on the latter. Both of them seem to have been born in the US, given their accents. With Sihk turbans and Muslim garb among us, the judge proceeded to scold a Hispanic named Jesus for wearing shorts and then gave us this instruction:
"Come dressed appropriately, as if you were going to church on Sunday."
What does that mean anymore?
The judge struggled patiently through the phonics of the Indian names while stopping one Indian gentleman from giving him the correct pronunciation before he had a chance to butcher it. One of the Chinese engineers gave incoherent answers to the judge until the judge let him go for being incapable of handling English. There were two other software engineer types who clearly were insane, one being from the Ukraine and the other from New York. This is, of course, the normal state for those of us who work in software, so the attorneys made peremptory challenges to get rid of all of them, including the ones who appeared temporarily rational.
I am not into the World Cup, but this certainly did provide me a few days of stimulation.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The long introduction to this book is written by Richard Sharpe and relates to a discussion of the accumulation of legends, stories and interpretations of the man named Columba. After outlining the development of the stories, including rather scholarly ones from the 19th century, the concluding introductory remarks are these:
"Even books founded on wide reading in the learned literature are liable to offer something far removed from what the early sources provide, for too few writers have recognized the influence of older churchmanship on the history widely accepted as the authorized version.
The power of St Columba still to excite the imagination of those who visit or read about his church at Iona has produced a remarkable literature. Too much of it takes its departure from misconceptions dating back to the nineteenth or even the eighteenth century, and too much of it fails to recognize the important difference between that which bears witness to the Columban church in Iona in its first centuries and that which derives from later Irish legends." - Introduction
This could be written about so many other 19th century historical narratives, as well as many modern writers. Both the religious and irreligious are equally prone to agenda driven revisionism, whether conscious or unconscious. Looking further back through the history of histories, however, we must realize that the writer always had a human nature. This observation is one that I have come across earlier and which has led me to dismiss the vast majority of modern historical writings as being untrustworthy, except for the list of original authors which they cite, but may or may not have actually read. That attitude is one to maintain whether I agree with the agenda of the author or not. The nice feature of rejecting so much historical writing is that it narrows the field sufficiently that it appears feasible to get a decent understanding of theology, church history and/or Bible context. It is still a lot of work.
"When your Lord said tho the angels; Surely I am going to create a mortal from dust; So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall down making obeisance to him. And the angels did obeisance, all of them, But not Iblis; he was proud and he was one of the unbelievers." - Qur'an, Surah 38.71-73
My impression is that Iblis corresponds to Satan. The corresponding but different story is from Isaiah:
"How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'" - Isaiah 14:12-14
"Morning star" is the literal meaning of Lucifer, which is a name for Satan. The Qur'an says Satan's fall was due to a refusal to bow to men, whereas the Bible asserts that Satan wanted to be God. My MacArthur study Bible has a note that this refers to the King of Babylon also, so that this attitude of wanting to be God afflicts men as well as Satan.
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence." - Sixth amendment to the US Constitution.
This will be an interesting subject for me to blog about soon, but I must wait until all the proceedings are complete first.
Monday, June 14, 2010
"For we have heard, and it is indeed well known, that there are many of the villages and hamlets of our people located in inaccessible mountains or in dense forests, where a bishop has never been seen over the course of many years performing his ministry and revealing the divine grace. But not one of these places is immune from paying the taxes that are due to that bishop. ... Thus it may come about that not only do the bishops not evangelize freely and confirm the faithful, but also they do something much worse, which is that having received money from their congregations, something the Lord forbade, they neglect the ministry of the word which the Lord ordered." - Bede's Letter to Egbert.
The letter contains many such notes on the corrupt state of the Catholic clergy who indulged themselves in luxury and venality and had little time to be serious about Christ. With his history celebrating the triumph of the Catholic church in England, this letter stands in contrast. Perhaps it is a caution that historical records aren't what they seem to be.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
We went to the grocery to buy some fruit. I was sent to pick a watermelon, and dutifully set about fulfilling the task in the most responsible manner that a good husband could do. As I reached the melons, there was another lady there picking up each melon one-by-one and thumping them with her ear carefully positioned so as to be able to analyze the acoustic frequency response spectrum with directional consistency in a scientific manner worthy of Newton. Knowing I had been shown up, I sheepishly thumped one melon and took it, ashamed that my technique could not begin to compare with this connoisseur of fruit.
Arriving home, my wife sliced the melon up and complemented me on having made a good choice. The melon was slightly more ripe than I like, but this is ideal for her, while it was sweet but not over sweet. Upon hearing this I was compelled to give thanks to the Lord for such a wonderful gift, but then I am forced to ponder why I was chosen for this melon, or perhaps the melon was chosen for me. Did I do something to deserve it? Or could this have been simply a random pick? But then again, this being mid-June, maybe all the melons just happened to be ripe to perfection. Whatever the reason, I am thankful it is a good melon and that I was dissuaded from too much pretentious melon thumping.
The usual story of the translation of the Bible into English begins with John Wycliffe. This excerpt from the book is an interesting addition to the story:
"During those days there were two pieces of work worthy of record, besides the lessons which he desired to finish: the gospel of St. John, which he was turning into our mother tongue to the great profit of the Church, from the beginning as far as the words 'But what are they among so many?' ..." - Cuthbert's Letter on the Death of Bede.
This was a translation into Old English which is a foreign language to us today, yet still a predecessor to modern English. It is curious to see that the Catholic church had no apparent fear of a translation of the Bible into a language most people could understand at this time.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
This note is regarding efforts to promote a new Bishop to Britain about the year 668:
"Just then there was in Rome a monk known to Hadrian whose name was Theodore. He was a native of Tarsus in Cilicia, a man well trained in secular and divine literature, both Greek and Latin. He was of upright character and of venerable age, being sixty-six years old. Hadrian proposed his name to the pope, who agreed to consecrate him but on one condition, that Hadrian himself should take Theodore to Britain ... " - The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Book 4, chapter 1.
and the result:
"And because both of them were extremely learned in sacred and secular literature, they attracted a crowd of students into whose minds they daily poured the streams of wholesome learning. They gave their hearers instruction not only in the books of holy Scripture but also in the art of metre, astronomy, and ecclesiastical computation. As evidence of this, some of their students still survive who know Latin and Greek just as well as their native tongue." - Book 4, chapter 1.
The more you study history at the first source level, the more it conflicts with what we learned in our secular-atheist textbooks. In this case, Bede is talking about how education and learning was brought to the barbarians of Britain by the church, while I was taught the exact opposite growing up long ago in the backwoods of East Tennessee.
A side note is that Bede is writing about 250 years before Anselm. The introduction to Anselm's writings claimed that there was no knowledge of Greek or Greek writings in England in Anselm's time, yet Anselm's writings have countless allusions to Greek philosophy. It certainly is possible that this learning was lost, but it is also possible that the learning was still there but simply not considered notable so it wasn't recorded.
Regarding the abbot Hadrian:
"It is one testimony among many to his learning and to that of Theodore, that his disciple Albinus, who succeeded him as head of the monastery, was so well trained in scriptural studies that he had no small knowledge of the Greek language and that he knew Latin as well as English, his native tongue." - V.20.
"To the most excellent and glorious Lord, King Nechtan, Abbot Ceolfrith sends greetings in the Lord. ...
Indeed a certain secular writer has said very truly that the world would be in a happy state if kings were philosophers and philosophers were kings. ..." V.21
This is a reference to Plato's Republic.
"According to either version of that chronicle which Eusebius composed, it seemed to him that the years [from Creation] are five thousand two hundred and twenty-eight." - The Greater Chronicle.
Bede mentions the content of The History of the Church by Eusebius several times. Given that Eusebius only wrote in Greek, we have an indicator that Bede was probably both familiar with Greek and had Greek manuscripts available to him.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Don't make too much of this, but some pattern matching jumped out at me:
"Say: If the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would surely be consumed before the words of my Lord are exhausted, though We were to bring the like of that (sea) to add thereto." - Qur'an, Surah 18.109
To my knowledge, this imagery of the sea filled with ink for writing God's praises doesn't occur in the Bible, but it does occur in the worship song below, The Love Of God. The same Surah gives us this:
"And warn those who say: Allah has taken a son." - Surah 18.4
Thankfully this worship song does talk about God's son and the forgiveness we receive as a result. This makes me wonder if I could talk to the author of the song to find out what he was thinking. The good news is that the author, Fred Lehman, currently resides in Glendale, California. The bad news is that he died in 1953, while having written the song in 1917. Too bad. Do listen to the song.
Update: After more tracking, there is more to the plot as Mr. Lehman did leave an explanation. Additionally, others have connected this song to the above passage of the Qur'an, while Jewish connections going back a thousand years are also claimed.
"The king, in accordance with the bishop's entreaties and commands, recovered his spirits, but the bishop, on the other hand, grew sadder and sadder and at last began to shed tears. Thereupon a priest asked him in his native tongue, which the king and his thegns did not understand, why he was weeping, and Aidan answered, 'I know that the king will not live long; for I never before saw a humble king. Therefore I think that he will very soon be snatched from this life; for this nation does not deserve to have such a ruler.' Not long after, the bishop's gloomy forebodings were fulfilled in the sad death of the king which we have already described." - The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Book 3, chapter 14. (~644AD)
I hadn't paid much attention to the Democrat primary, but then I met the mother of Garrett Yee who is a coffee shop regular and suddenly my interest spiked. Go Garrett! But it seems that he will lose to Wiecowski. Yee opposes medical marijuana and doesn't think medical malpractice should be an extension of the lottery, which apparently isn't far enough left for the Democrats in this district.
The Republican race of interest was for the right to go against Babara Boxer in November. This was Carly Fiorina from HP vs. über-RINO Tom Campbell vs. true Republican Chuck Devore. Fiorina won nicely, but is still trying to figure out the concept of Republicanism. Campbell's strategy is to position to the left of Boxer, making him a media darling, while Devore's 18% tells us a lot about the state of the Republican party and is indicative of the fact that America's fiscal and social trajectory is irreversible - without divine intervention. On the other hand, Fiorina has a chance to beat Boxer whereas Devore probably doesn't, so it will keep things interesting up until November.
As for the governor race, I am just glad that I won't have to see advertisements for a few days. November will see Governor Moonbeam vs. Terminator 3 (i.e. "Schwarzenegger's third term") with Brown vs. Whitman.
On the proposition side, prop 16 caught most of the news where PG&E bankrolled an initiative to make it difficult for cities to get into the power business. From my viewpoint, this was a Fascism vs. Communism fight, so not much to do but yawn. California losses either way. The most significant was prop 14 which is the open primary initiative - and it passed. This was dreamed up by Republican politician Abel Maldonado as part of a deal where he broke a solid Republican attempt to hold the line on taxes in the state of California instead of forcing fiscal reform. It is hard to say what this will accomplish long term, but the short term result was that fiscal reform hasn't yet started and is completely off the media/political radar.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
"And those who disbelieved said to their apostles: We will most certainly drive you forth from our land, or else you shall come back into our religion. So their Lord revealed to them: Most certainly We will destroy the unjust." - Qur'an Surah XIV.13
Justice is something quite big in popular discourse, yet it seems like something that is all too easy for people with different backgrounds to invoke in conversation without realizing that they are talking past each other. In the case of the Qur'an, justice is all about being a Muslim, while the unjust are those who reject Islam or Mohamed's testimony.
The story of Joseph and his brothers is given in Surah 12. This is much shorter compared to the Biblical account. To give an idea, the Qur'an's version is 112 verses, while the Bible's account extends over 11 chapters with 367 verses, although this includes 30 verses of the story of Tamar that isn't in the Qur'an. The Qur'an also has a lot of "boilerplate" (see informal definition here), so it is very short on details compared to the Bible. Most of the stories retold in the Qur'an are of this form. At least for me, the repeat of boilerplate phrases disrupts the story and causes a loss of focus.
Monday, June 07, 2010
After much agitation by the American public, a fence was finally put up to restrict the movements of these illegals, as you can see in the picture below. It seems to be having an effect, but on closer examination ...
This lame Canadian hobbled boldly up to the fence, stuck his nose under it, and slipped right through. I have decided to make a special index to document the utter disrespect for American sovereignty.
"Now Paulinus also preached the word in the kingdom of Lindsey, the first land on the south bank of the Humber, bordering on the sea. His first convert was the reeve of the city of Lincoln called Blaecca, he and his household." - The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Book 2, chapter 15. (events from ~630AD)
As a vocabulary note, a "reeve" is a high ranking government official. A key office was that of the reeve of a shire, which was known as the shire-reeve, which later transmogrified into our present word sheriff - or so I have heard.
Bede's ecclesiastical history is a history of the elites. A missionary is appointed and empowered by Rome to go and convert, and his target is the kings, queens and officers. A similar pattern is observed in reading the history of the Jesuits with Matteo Ricci and Francis Xavier. No doubt the most efficient way to spread Christianity is to convert the leaders.
At the same time, I have to wonder about the validity of such a strategy. The bishops who brought Catholicism to England are of a completely different character than Patrick who worked earlier in Ireland. Augustine of Hippo and Ambrose were both made bishops by popular acclaim, but the appointments that Bede describers are only from top down. The earlier popular arrival of Christianity to England is dismissed as so many heretics. If I were to read between the lines, my impression is that Christian communities were probably already scattered throughout the island, while a pagan structure was still in place. The papists then worked to establish their power over everything.
The book of Acts is more of a mixed bag on this with the original seven church leaders being appointed democratically. Leaders are preached to, but they don't really seem to be targeted or even necessary for the spread of the gospel.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
This is reported of a Vatican representative named Augustine (no, not the famed Augustine of Hippo) as he ordered the native Christians to recognize the authority of Rome (~600AD):
"'You do many things which are contrary to our customs or rather to the customs of the universal Church; nevertheless, if you are willing to submit to me in three points, we will gladly tolerate all else that you do, even though it is contrary to our customs. The three points are: to keep Easter at the proper time; to perform the sacrament of baptism, whereby we are born again to God, according to the rites of the holy Roman and apostolic Church; and to preach the word of the Lord to the English people in fellowship with us.'" - The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Book 2, chapter 2.
The native Christian leaders refused the threat and Augustine cursed them as a result - that they would die in battle. This death being fulfilled, Bede's history gives the following:
"Thus the prophecy of the holy Bishop Augustine was fulfilled, although he had long been translated to the heavenly kingdom, namely that those heretics would also suffer the vengeance of temporal death because they had despised the offer of everlasting salvation." - Book 2, Chapter 2.
Needless to say, the papal cult notions here are shocking.
This is Surah IX. I was initially thinking this might be a bit like Christian repentance, but ...
"Say: Do you await for us but one of two most excellent things? And we await for you that Allah will afflict you with punishment from Himself or by our hands. So wait; we too will wait with you." - Qur'an Surah IX.52
Repentance is something only for the unbelievers. It is the duty of God or His servants to force the repentance according to this Surah.
"O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil)." - Surah IX.124
This is an excellent verse to have memorized prior to a discussion of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
Friday, June 04, 2010
"And know that whatever thing you gain, a fifth of it is for Allah and for the Apostle and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah and in that which We revealed to Our servant, on the day of distinction, the day on which the two parties met; and Allah has power over all things." - Qur'an Surah VIII.41
I had been collecting quotes regarding tithing from religions other than Christianity, so this is added to the collection. This is actually a double tithe, but the context isn't regular work but rather the spoils of war. With the expected casualties, the command looks to be for the maintenance of the tribe. And when do we go to war?
"O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand." - Surah VIII.65
I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine when the tribe should go to war and in what manner. And yes, I agree fully that we "are a people who do not understand".
"And when those who disbelieved devised plans against you that they might confine you or slay you or drive you away; and they devised plans and Allah too had arranged a plan; and Allah is the best of planners." - Qur'an Surah VIII.30
Other translations use scheme/schemer in the place of plan/planner. What bothered me with this is that scheming (the translation I hear is more accurate) is something I view as devious and with malicious intent, whereas I believe God's intentions are always good in the end. The other aspect that bothers me here is that it implies that God and man are almost playing a game against each other at the same level, with God simply being better like a chess master against a beginner. When our Maker knows our thoughts and intentions, we can't even begin to consider ourselves as being at the same level.
The Canadians kept their distance. It was a good swim, but I am not ready for tomorrow's Swim Around The Rock and will look for another event later in the summer. Today was the first time that I could pick the pace, so I really need another month or two for a 3.25 mile swim event. The other fun for the day was that I misplaced my swimming goggles and had to do this the old school way.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
1) Humanitarian Relief is the process of bringing weapons and foreign combatants into a territory to Relieve the Earth of the Humans.
2) Humanitarian Relief is the ultimate act of Relieving Humans from their Earthly worries.
This is what I have learned from the recent news regarding the incidents in the eastern Mediterranean.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
"Because Britain lies almost under the North Pole, it has short nights in summer, so that often at midnight it is hard for those who are watching to say whether it is evening twilight which still lingers, or whether morning dawn has come, since the sun at night returns to the east through the regions towards the north without passing far below the horizon. For this reason the summer days are extremely long. On the other hand the winter nights are also of great length, namely eighteen hours, doubtless because the sun has then departed to the region of Africa. In summer too the nights are extremely short; so are the days in winter, each consisting of six standard equinoctial hours, while in Armenia, Macedonia, Italy, and other countries in the same latitude the longest day or night consists of fifteen hours and the shortest of nine." - The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Book 1, Chapter 1.
Doing battle against the Flat Earth madness shouldn't be necessary, but theologians are loathe to give it up, along with other fictions like the Dark Ages. Bede was a Christian monk writing about England and Christianity and tosses the above note in at the beginning of this book.
For those who haven't been particularly enthusiastic in their science/geography studies, the latitude is the angle above the equator and refers to our position on the sphere of the earth. Then there is the phrase "under the North Pole", which means that the North Pole star is almost directly overhead. This can occur in a spherical earth model, but not a flat earth one. Another important observation is in the length of days: In a flat earth model, the sun rises and sets for the entire earth at the same time so that the length of a day or night would always be the same no matter how far north or south you went. Then there is the correct deduction about the availability of the sun in the southern areas when the northern areas are mostly in the dark. Could a modern college student do better?
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
"First, then, the reason why the blue expanses of heaven are shaken by thunder is the clashing of clouds soaring high in the ether, when conflicting winds cause them to collide." - On The Nature Of The Universe, Book VI.96
Wow! If I read a full 200 pages of this, will I go insane? This indeed is the science of the true originators of the theory of evolution as they try to explain how it is that the gods have nothing to do with nature. Although the Epicureans denied the power of the gods, they generated a considerable amount of amusement from other non-Christian intellectual quarters as we can see from this quote from Cicero (106-43BC) regarding the airs of a fictitious Epicurean intellectual:
"Then Velleius, with the breezy confidence customary with Epicureans, and fearing nothing so much as to give the impression of doubt about anything, spoke as if he had just come down from attending the gods' assembly up in the Epicurean intermundia." - The Nature Of The Gods, 1.18
The intermundia is a hypothetical part of the universe that the Epicureans invented. The gods supposedly reside there, totally disinterested in the affairs of the universe due to being absorbed in their own bliss. It is essentially atheism, but anthropomorphic gods which don't interact with the universe were postulated as Cicero describes with these words placed in the mouth of a fictitious Academic:
"So undoubtedly closer to the truth is the claim made in the fifth book of his Nature of the Gods by Posidonius, whose friendship we all share: that Epicurus does not believe in any gods and that the statements which he made affirming the immortal gods were made to avert popular odium. He could not have been such an idiot as to fashion God on the lines of a poor human, even if merely in broad outline and not in substantial appearance, yet endowed with all the human limbs but without the slightest use of them, an emaciated, transparent being conferring no gifts or kindness on anyone, and in short discharging no duties and performing no actions." - The Nature Of The Gods, I.123
And so we see the invention of theistic atheism, for which we are afflicted today as well. The main item that catches my attention in all this is the pretense of scientific knowledge and god-like intelligence from those who both deny God and are simultaneously scientifically ignorant. This scientific ignorance wasn't just based on the times, but actually exceeded the ignorance of the times since others had determined (based on eclipses and shadows) that the sun is much larger than the earth, while the Epicureans insisted that both the sun and moon were small since this is the way they appeared.
Having set Lucretius and Cicero's quotes together, I should compare them in other ways. They lived at the same time and were both Latin writers, yet seem to represent completely opposite views of knowledge. Lucretius moves along with an amazing confidence, inventing whatever science is expedient for his point in the manner of modern Darwinists, with no regard to whether or not the science conflicted with a previously invoked imaginary science. Cicero is much more cautious, bringing up competing views and setting out fictitious debates.
"When Allah will say: O Isa son of Marium! Remember My favor on you and on your mother, when I strengthened you with the holy Spirit, you spoke to the people in the cradle and when of old age, and when I taught you the Book and the wisdom and the Taurat and the Injeel; and when you determined out of clay a thing like the form of a bird by My permission, and you healed the blind and the leprous by My permission; and when you brought forth the dead by My permission; and when I withheld the children of Israel from you when you came to them with clear arguments, but those who disbelieved among them said: This is nothing but clear enchantment." - Qur'an, Surah V.110
Isa = Jesus; Marium = Mary; Injeel = gospel, or good news.
Islam teaches that the gospel (Injeel) isn't the New Testament of the Bible, but claims that this was corrupted so that the teachings of Jesus are unknown. The western modernist generally claim that Jesus was a teacher with a great message, but denies the miracles. Islam is in some sense the reverse, claiming Jesus did do the miracles, but that his message is the same as Islam. Both groups deny the position of Jesus in the trinity so that this same Surah has something more:
"And when Allah will say: O Isa son of Marium! did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah, he will say: glory be to Thee, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to (say); if I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it; Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I do not know what is in Thy mind, surely Thou art the great Knower of the unseen things." - Surah V.116
From this we can deduce that Muhammad was familiar with Mariolatry of the sort that afflicts the church of Rome. Regarding the crucifixion, we have this:
"And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, this apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure." - Surah IV.157
Thus, the Qur'an claims that Jesus was never crucified, implying he isn't risen either. The destiny of Jesus is given as this:
"Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise. And there is not one of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his death, and on the day of resurrection he (Isa) shall be a witness against them." - Surah IV.158-159
I didn't fully understand this translated text, but Jesus was taken up to heaven by God according to the Qur'an and will be a key character at the final judgment.