Thursday, September 30, 2021
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
No one wants freedom of thought, so they demand freedom of speech as a sort of compensation.
-- Kevin Solway
It's hard to remember sometimes (though Flansy has been making it a bit easier lately) that They Might Be Giants are Boomers, and that their allusions are often to the music and "culture" of that period. I've been listening to their 1994 album John Henry these days -- especially "I Should Be Allowed To Think" and "The End of the Tour."
"I Should Be Allowed" begins with the Very Serious opening lines of Allen Ginsberg's degenerate beatnik pedo cri de coeur, set to the lighter-than-air advertising-jingle tune of the Association's "Everyone knows it's Win-dy" -- a juxtaposition which strikes me as a pretty clear-eyed appraisal of that era. The nod to the Association also brings to mind their "Enter the young, yeah, they've learned to think" -- an unintentionally ironic precursor to TMBG's intentionally ironic song. ("Enter the young" would of course have meant something quite different to NAMBLA member Allen Ginsberg!)
"The End of the Tour" begins thus:
There's a girl with a crown and a scepter
Who's on WLSD
And she says that the scene isn't what it's been
And she's thinking of going home
What is this but a veiled reference to Leary's mantra? Tune in (the radio station), turn on (LSD), drop out (go home).
MeatDeadly Equines, The Shocking True Story of Meat-Eating & Murderous Horses by CuChullaine O'Reilly, the Founder of the Long Riders' Guild, explores the fact that horses can and do eat meat (and can appear to behave in quite a violent manner to get it). However, just because they can and do eat meat does not mean that they should.
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Sunday, September 26, 2021
I’m not counting animals that really do have a specialized diet (pandas eat bamboo, ant lions eat ants, etc.). This is about stereotypes, not basic biology. Add in the comments any I’ve missed.
- Rabbits like carrots
- Mice like cheese
- Monkeys like bananas
- Bears like honey
- Birds like worms
- Elephants like peanuts
- Horses like oats
- Cows like clover
- Cats like fish
- Parrots like crackers
Friday, September 24, 2021
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
-- Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Why is Blake's "proverb of hell" a true proverb? Because to persist in one's folly is to take one's foolish idea absolutely seriously, to think out its ramifications, and to try to live by it. If the idea is indeed a foolish one, this process of "persisting" will tend in the end to make its foolishness apparent. To persist in one's folly is to do the work of reductio ad absurdum.
The folly in which I persisted, which led me slowly but surely from uncompromising atheism back to Christ, is encapsulated in this little essay I wrote back in 2006: "Free will: a problem for everyone," in which I argue that free will is absolutely logically impossible regardless of whether or not there is a God. It begins with this axiom:
A given action is either caused — determined — by something prior to it, or it is random, or it could be a a combination of causation and randomness. That exhausts the logical possibilities. The idea that free will is to be found in something which is neither chance nor necessity nor a combination of the two is a non-starter.
and reaches this conclusion:
The bottom line is that you didn’t create yourself. Given that a cause must precede its effect, it’s logically impossible for you to have created yourself. No matter what you believe about human nature or human origins, it is inescapably true that you are not ultimately responsible for what you are; either something or someone else made you that way, or you are that way for no reason. No matter how you slice it, it’s not your fault.
Years later, I finally had to accept the necessity of agency (see here and here) -- that agency, or "free will" really is a metaphysical primitive, a third thing not derivable from the causation and randomness that I had once assumed "exhausted the logical possibilities" -- that things do not just happen (by chance) or unfold (by necessity) but are done (by agents). From this, a tentative theism followed almost immediately.
And in late 2019, still persisting in my original "foolish" line of reasoning, but with the key premise corrected, I finally overturned my original "bottom line" and concluded that, ultimately, you did create yourself. Is this folly, too? If so, I intend to persist in it until I discover that.
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
I dreamed I was visiting my brother and looking at some pen-and-ink drawings he had done. He had a series of three abstract pieces up on his wall, with little plaques under them with the titles: Taxes, The Tax Year, and The Seven Worlds of the Bible. I can't remember what Taxes looked like, but The Tax Year prominently featured a circle divided into quarters, and The Seven Worlds of the Bible consisted of seven rectangular prisms drawn in a sort of exaggerated one-point linear perspective. I think these were labeled with the names of the seven worlds, but I didn't read them.
He also showed me a lot of pictures on paper that hadn't been framed yet. One of these depicted a bearded doctor holding a baby as if giving it to its mother. I mentioned to my brother that I thought that one was very clever because of the ambiguity: If you looked at it right, the doctor's head became a vulture's face, with the doctor's pointed beard becoming the beak. My brother was very surprised to hear that and said he hadn't done that on purpose at all. I wanted to show it to him, so we both looked through the pictures trying to find that one again, but we couldn't.
Sunday, September 19, 2021
I would like to present to you a personal testimony of a hieromonk who made the mistake of getting pecked. This is his confession. If anyone wants to know his name, I can tell you privately. He is a priest under Archbishop Ieronymos of Greece. I will be reading directly from the publication, which fortunately is still on the Internet."In a few words, I will relate my experience after taking my first dose of the Phyzir peck. God obstructed me with many signs before taking the peck. Due to shortness of time I will not mention all of them. As I was heading towards the pecking center, right before I was getting into the queue, I felt something obstructing my approach. As I approached, I felt a stench that surprised me," said the monk.You see, God cautioned him, and he still went ahead."While I was taking the peck, others were waiting outside. As I was leaving, I was unable to wear my kalimafi [clerical headdress]. I felt great shame within myself and left holding my kalimafi in my hands."As you can see, he began to feel the demonic influence right away, as he was ashamed to wear his kalimafi even though he is a priest."Arriving home, I went to the bathroom to wash my face. Upon looking in the mirror, I was frightened at my face due to the expression I had. The next day, I went shopping at the supermarket, and since it was still the period after Easter, I would normally greet the shopkeepers with 'Christ is risen!' or respond 'Indeed he is risen.'"So as you know, for 40 days after the Resurrection, we refrain from saying "Good day" and replace the phrase with "Christ is risen," and the other person should respond, "Indeed he is risen" and not say "Likewise.""As a hieromonk, I was surprised to discover that I was very ashamed to say 'Christ is risen' to the shopkeepers. This greatly overwhelmed me."He began to realize more intensely that something was not going well in his soul."A day later, I went and attended a divine service at a local church, but not to perform the service as priest. Upon entering the sanctuary, I felt as if I were dead."You see, a living spiritual person notices the difference straight away."The joy I used to feel at the divine service was lost. It was as if I were not entering the sanctuary of a holy church, but as if I had entered a room in a house. All these things surprised me, but at the time I did not believe they stemmed from the peck. I saw familiar parishioners turn their faces away from me. The next day, I found that my conscience was causing me terrible pain. It was as if I had been pierced in my heart with such pain as I had never felt before in my life. I told this to a fellow archimandrite, what I was feeling, and he consoled me. He told me something along the lines of, 'Its nothing, don't worry about it.' Upon leaving, I found that this pain in my conscience was relentless and was deepening further within me. From that day forward, I was in a deeply troubled state with lasted 13 days. I could not sleep or calm down. Now allow me to explain the most terrible part. Day and night I constantly saw Satan in front of me, his face an inch away from mine. I went to sleep at night and felt him embracing me, and I would get cold all over. I would read the Salutations to the Virgin Mary, and I would feel as if my blood was burning in my veins. I felt a foreign presence within me, and it was judging me. I felt a horror, as if someone was saying, 'You belong to me now.'"Do you understand how terrible these things are? And very true, because we personally know this person. This corroborates the experience of another hieromonk who was doing exorcisms, and the demon being pressed told the truth while having a dialogue."Why am I telling you this? I don't want to tell you this, but I am being pressed."The hieromonk replied, "I am not pressing you."The demon replied, "I am being forced to tell you."So the demon told him, "We did a ceremony at a lodge in America for the pecks." The Satanists performed a ceremony for the pecks.Furthermore, the demon said, "Those who take this peck will be unable to repent." Now this may seem too harsh.The hieromonk then asked, "Why won't they be able to repent?"The demon responded, "Because I will be inside of them."You can see the correlation with the first hieromonk, who was saying the same thing, that he felt Satan inside of him and saw him an inch away from his face, telling him, "You belong to me."The hieromonk performing the exorcism was having a dialogue with the demon. The demon was speaking through the demon-possessed person.The demon told him, "Those who have taken the peck cannot repent, because I am inside of them."The hieromonk asked, "How are you inside of them?"The demon answered, "With the blood of the aborted fetuses."We have mentioned previously that fetuses were used in the peck and were purposely murdered for their cells. These cells were extracted from the living fetuses by these atheist scientists and doctors who don't hold anything sacred or holy. They also remove the organs from a living fetus. If the fetus is already dead, the organs and the cells are useless. Therefore, they were not taking the fetuses from the waste bin -- which, even if they had been, would not have made it morally right, as an abortion had taken place. However, in this case, these fetuses were specifically prepared for an abortion.So the devil confesses, "I am already inside those who took it via the blood of the fetuses." So this confession of this demon correlates with the hieromonk who was seduced into taking the peck. So as we previously read, he was saying he was ashamed to wear his kalimafi, to say "Christ is risen," how he felt dead whilst in the holy sanctuary, how everyone turned their faces away from him because his face was altered, how for 13 days he could not sleep or settle down, and most terrifying of all was seeing day and night the face of Satan an inch from his face continuously, and how he felt Satan embracing him, and though he was trying to read the Salutations, his blood was burning in his veins, and he felt someone saying to him, "You belong to me now."Thus the hieromonk continues: "I had stayed at my family home in case of an adverse reaction. After a few days, I left. At the monastery where I currently reside, at the Divine Liturgy, I found that I could not understand a thing. I felt as if I were dead. I was constantly rushing through the service and felt great anxiety, not a speck of joy. I felt as if I were not a priest or even a baptized Christian! I reached a point of being unable to speak, as if I had lost my voice. I felt my life was dark and a constant state of despair."You see, this person made this mistake and is being humbled. This means he has an ecclesialogical conscience. This is very important, as there are others who have made this mistake, and after seeing this mistake do not confess it so that they may warn others.Let's continue reading."While I was in this hopeless state, a familiar family came to visit the monastery. I spoke with the mother. She said to me, 'Father, why are you speaking like this? Many people after taking the first dose do not end up taking the second dose. So you, too, should not take the second dose!'"She gave him some courage."As she was telling me this, I felt a certain refreshing dew entering my soul."This was from God."I was consoled by God's grace."Because he had begun to repent. God sends people to console us, to inform us. This is how God works during such situations. Just a word, though many times irrelevant, shows us the way. So she said, "Okay, you made a mistake. Don't make the next mistake," i.e. don't take the second dose. Let's continue."I find it unnecessary to mention the despair I went through and the tears I shed. I don't know whether it's a coincidence or not, but exactly 40 days after the peck, I started to feel the grace of God again."After 40 days, he began to feel that he was baptized again. He came back with repentance. So he confessed his sin, received the rite of forgiveness, and shed many tears. As it is written here, he cried continuously for 40 days, and only then did he begin to feel the grace of the Holy Spirit."I began to feel peace and consolation, that God had forgiven me for what I had done, even though I had had no knowledge of what this peck actually was."Sadly, there are many people like this. Not everyone is indifferent. There are others who are directed by tyranny and fear, or by pressure, by their children or doctors, etc. However, when you have the correct information, you don't submit to all of this. This poor fellow was seduced, but now he has corrected his actions, so after 40 days he began to feel the forgiveness of God."I do not dare or want to know what would have happened to me if I had taken the second dose of the peck. The only thing I can say is that God felt sorry for me. Even though I now feel better, I have not recovered to the state I was in prior to taking the peck. In my humble opinion, this peck by Phyzir that I took is a mark but not the final mark, most likely a forerunner to the final mark of the beast."This last statement correlates with another remark made by a demon during another exorcism. A close friend of mine, a respectable hieromonk, had told me of it. He had a dialogue with a demon during an exorcism.The demon told him, "No, this peck is not the final mark, but it is still a mark, a forerunner, and those who are like you, when they take the peck, they lose their light."The demon continued, "A short man used to burn us with these exorcisms!"This short priest is well known and performs exorcisms.The demon continued, "Now that he [the short priest] has taken the peck, he has lost his strength. Now I am able to approach him and kiss his hand!"Previously, the demon would tremble before this priest, but now that the priest has taken the peck, the demon is able to get his blessing. This correlates with the hieromonk we have been reading about: "Even though I now feel better, I have not yet recovered to the state I was in prior to taking the peck." As you can see, these pecks cause not only physical harm but also spiritual harm.We have read this testimony as an example, and it is from a person living a proper ecclesiastical life, because as we previously said, when someone makes a mistake that is impacting many others, it's most beneficial to correct this mistake publicly. This is in order to protect other members of our holy church from making the same mistake.As St. Chrysostomos says, "The lukewarm Christians are living in comfort." The lukewarm are those who want to combine everything: the world, Christ, hedonism, avarice, the external appearances, not to be disenfranchised, to go to church, take Holy Communion, Holy Confession, etc. These lukewarm "Christians" cause the most damage to the church. They don't admit to their mistakes, as they think they do everything correctly. If they make a mistake, they don't correct it. They do not publicly repent of their sin so they may protect those around them. As it is written in the Book of Revelation, these are people that God will spit out.It is best to be hot or cold, never lukewarm. The one who is spiritually cold may at one point understand his spiritual blindness and become hot. God wants us to be hot. However, the lukewarm are comfortable. Sadly, most people nowadays are lukewarm. As mentioned by Father Athanasios Mitilinaios, most Christians are lukewarm. We, too, are lukewarm and need to stop being lukewarm.To a faithful person of God, death does not exist. This is the reality. We have forgotten this, and we now fear death. Not only do we fear death, we also fear being fined, possible imprisonment, and prosecution. In NO case can a person call himself a Christian if he fears death. When a person is afraid to die, he becomes an idolater or an atheist. Instead, a Christian should long to die. The saints wanted to die. The reason that Christians truly want to pass away is so they can be fully united with the Lord they worship and love above all else. They want to go and are joyful when they are passing away. However, they never cause death to themselves -- they do not commit suicide -- but when the opportunity arises to become a martyr and confessor for Christ, they do this without fear of death.Unfortunately, these things are not being heard from the preachers, bishops, and priests, but as you know are heard from the demons. A well-respected hieromonk who performs exorcisms once told me what a demon said to him.The demon said to him, "How are you Christians fearful of death? I have seduced and deceived you into taking the peck with the fear of death!"A demon again confesses that the pecks are his doing. In fact, he says, "We did a ceremony at a lodge in America for the pecks." See what the demon confesses!The demon continues, "What did you fear? For you, death does not exist." For Christians, death does not exist. Do you understand, fellow brothers and sisters, where we've come to?In the Gospels, Christ said something correlating with our present situation. When he entered Jerusalem and the children were calling out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!" the children were proclaiming Jesus as the awaited Messiah, and others were indignant, and said to Jesus, "Do you hear what they are saying to you?" Christ responds, "I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." So, correlating with today's situation, now that the priests and archpriest are not proclaiming that death has been conquered, the demons are proclaiming it instead."How are you Christians fearful of death, and are all running to take this peck?" -- which isn't really a peck, but rather gene therapy, with the aim of oppressing humans.This is the aim, which is why there will be more doses. In fact, there are many people who say there will be seven doses. The demons also state that there will be seven doses. Those who were deceived into taking the first or second dose, hopefully, will not take the remaining doses. May they repent, weep, and go to confession, because their salvation is in danger. We all ought to be vigilant of this.I'll read another hieromonk's testimony to you all, which was published on the Internet unless it's now been erased -- because whatever is true these days is usually censored on the Internet. As you know, the Internet is Satan's. Unfortunately, the Internet is not governed by God's people. Whatever they want, they remove. As much as possible, they eliminate anything that is good and right.So this hieromonk who published his testimony on the Internet said, "I thought taking the peck was nothing, so I went and got it. But after I got it, I lost my prayer. I felt Satan coming and embracing me. For 40 days, I could not even say, "Lord have mercy.'"This hieromonk has testified this publicly. I personally know him. He is from a monastery in the Peloponnese. He also urges everyone not to make his mistake, and whoever has already taken it, not to take any further doses, which will cause more harm for both body and soul.In conclusion, these are the things I wanted to say to you, brothers and sisters in Christ. As you can see, there are many testimonies from many individuals. God even caused the demons to give testimony. Remember what the demon said to the hieromonk during the exorcism? "Why am I telling you all this? I do not want to tell you, but I am being pressed."We must also remember that the devil lies, too. However, there are many times when the devil speaks the truth, especially when forced with the prayers that are read during an exorcism. Likewise, we read in the Gospels of the demons speaking the truth to Jesus: "Thou art the son of God!" The demons confessed that Christ is God.Let us take these things into account so that we don't fall into this trap of Satan, which as you can see, Satan is using much force to direct all of humanity into this trap so he can kill as many as possible. This is the murderer that Satan is.This is now all coming to fruition with what is happening globally. The devil wants to take as many souls as possible. This is his final goal. If all these things were good, why would they make them mandatory? Something that is good is not forced. You see Christ, whenever he went to heal someone, he would ask, "Do you want to become well?" These rulers nowadays are trying to force us to be well. That's what they think.However, they don't want to make us healthy. Quite the opposite is occurring, actually, because we know these pecks cause sterility and thousands of other adverse reactions. Over two million adverse reactions were recorded in Europe and over 600,000 adverse reactions in America. Over 21,000 deaths in Europe, and 14,000 in America. These are all mainstream statistics that you can find online. Therefore, we don't need to be idiots. Under no circumstances are we to accept these things that the evil one is selling us.May God bless us all. May John the Baptist guide us, not only to cease committing evil, but to call out evil when we see it. Whoever cowers and is silent before sin becomes an accessory and an accomplice to sin. So what I tell you, you need to tell others. Inform all our brothers and sisters sot hat they may not fall into this trap of Satan's and lose the kingdom of God. Amen.
Saturday, September 18, 2021
And the Fourth Gospel's version echoes it more closely than do the Synoptics. See more at the Fourth Gospel Blog.
It's a little known fact that Euripides, always a man ahead of his time, once had an ambitious plan to reboot the Homeric epics with an all-female cast of characters. Since there weren't enough legendary female warriors to meet the needs of the plot, he ended up deciding to press the goddesses themselves into service. The great warrior Achilles, for example, was to be replaced by Athena, the most martial of the goddesses. This led to trouble when it came time to choose a suitable Odysseus-analogue, though. Athena was once again the most natural choice but had already been taken for the Achilles role. In the end, he decided on Hera, thinking her vengeful jealousy would make her perfect for the scene where Odysseus slaughters the suitors who had been courting his wife in his absence.
However, neither of these planned epics was ever written. The priests soon got wind of Euripides's plan, and they flatly forbade him to go through with it.
"The first epic is out of the question," said one of the priests. "Imagine portraying Pallas Athena as a sulky, temperamental Achilles. It would be blasphemy!"
"Quite right," said another priest, "and the second would be even worse."
"Worse than blasphemy against Pallas Athena?"
"The first epic would be blasphemy,” the second priest replied, “but the second would be Herassey."
Friday, September 17, 2021
Very strange, meaningful-seeming dream:
I was part of a group (I just thought of them as "my friends") that met twice weekly to share ideas and creative output. The dream consisted of a few disconnected scenes having to do with that group.
In the first scene, I was preparing to go to one of our meetings and then suddenly remembered that it was actually scheduled for the next day. While I was preparing, I was aware that there was some major disturbance going on outside -- perhaps a war or something like that.
In the second scene, one of the members, a woman, had created a short animated film that progressed very quickly from playful to "edgy" to deeply -- and I do mean deeply -- obscene. No one raised any objection. I didn't either, though I wanted to, because there was just this feeling that we were all supposed to be too cool to take issue with that sort of thing.
In the third scene, another of the members, an older man, was telling a story about some third party (not part of the group) who had made a shirt for himself and "decorated it with the bric-a-brac of the Right -- a slice of pizza, a Torah scroll, other such things. And this of course made him guilty of both the sin of fragmentation and the sin of creating a coherent story."
I thought of the "bric-a-brac of the Right" as being something like the "secret symbols" in Bizarro comics (recurring random items, such as a slice of pie or an upside-down bird, which the artist adds to his cartoons), and I was pretty (but not entirely) sure the man was using "sin" ironically -- saying that the public disapproved of these so-called sins. I took the slice of pizza to be an allusion to the conspiracy theory associated with that foodstuff and the inclusion of a Torah scroll to be some kind of anti-Semitic thing.
Upon waking, I thought of the incongruity of characterizing the Torah as bric-a-brac, of all things, and it reminded me of something. Back in the days of daily newspapers, my father and I used to share the hobby of creating what he called "subliminal comics." The idea was to cut out three or four panels -- each from a different comic in the same paper -- and combine them to make a new strip that sort of made sense. One time (it was, apparently, on the palindromic date of October 2, 2001) I bent the rules of the game a bit, by combining a headline with a comic-strip panel. The headline, from the Style section of the local paper, said "Crosses are once again popular, but some see wearing a religious symbol for fashion's sake as a desecration" -- and I juxtaposed it with this panel from that day's Dilbert strip.
Before looking up the comic just now, I had forgotten that it featured a 2020s-style surgical mask and that the creature with which Dilbert is conversing -- a flubbed clone of his boss -- is half horse, as in a recent birdemic joke.
Later that day, I was out on the road. When I stopped at a red light, the motorcyclist in front of me was wearing a shirt decorated with the letters of the alphabet, each accompanied by two associated words and illustrations. This made for a pretty random assortment of pictures -- what the dream in its not-quite-normal use of English would have termed "bric-a-brac."
Of the 20 or so words I could see on the back of shirt, three were misprinted, and they were all in the same area. I snapped a photo.
With a large "letter Q," do we now have not mere common or garden bric-a-brac, but specifically the bric-a-brac of the Right? Notice that both of the words associated with Q are misprinted so as to omit the key letter. Instead of a question, a ruestion; instead of a quail, a uail. Of course, "No Q" is also a Q thing. There's the NOQ Report, and included in the boilerplate at the beginning of every Anonymous Conservative post is the disclaimer "No Q." Just below these two Q-less Q-words, we have V for wolcano. I remember reading some symbolic interpretation of the alphabet in which W stood for the Roman god Vulcan (since historically W = VV = VU), and volcano comes from Vulcan. (Thinking of such words as uomo, uovo, buono, and ruota, I checked if perhaps vuolcano might be Italian; it isn't.)
Having mentioned "a uail," and also noted that U and V used to be interchangeable, I am reminded of my first mention of Joan of Arc on this blog, in this comment:
I have recently been reading Scott Alexander's novel Unsong. One of the running gags is "biblical pun correction." One of the characters mentions Joan of Arc and is "corrected" by another: "Jonah whale; Noah ark." Later in the conversation, someone says "to no avail" and received the converse correction: "Noah ark; Jonah whale."
The correction is based on hearing "avail" as "a whale," echoed by the V/W confusion seen in wolcano.
All of the items in the photo above also have Torah connections. In Exodus 16, the Israelites are fed with manna and quail, and the word manna is said to derive from the question "What is it?" Mount Sinai, with its fire and smoke, is certainly suggestive of a volcano. (Freud and a few other fringe critics have concluded that it literally was a volcano, but that seems geographically unlikely.) And, in the archaic spelling of the King James Version, Moses "put a vail on his face" (Ex. 34:33).
What does it all mean? Well, that's the point, isn't it? I've been collecting coincidences like bric-a-brac, like a Bizarro reader playing find the secret symbol, only occasionally discerning a coherent message. Maybe it's time to stop amassing data and start trying a little harder to understand it. I always tag these posts with a line from Dylan; maybe I should pay more attention to the rest of the verse:
The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense
Take what you have gathered from coincidence
The empty-handed painter from your streets
Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets
This sky, too, is folding under you
And it's all over now, Baby Blue
Update: I thought, "Give me a hint. What's the core meaning of all these syncs?" and drew a single card from the Rider-Waite. It was this one.
And I thought, It's the wolcano! -- a mountain-like structure with fire coming out the top of it, with a W-shaped lightning bolt. "The Tower" is also an anagram of "two three," and W is the 23rd letter of the alphabet. The card features 22 little yellow flames, with the 23rd being the W-shaped bolt from the black.
The image also punningly suggests bric-a-brac -- the Tower of Babel was built with bricks (apparently a novel construction material at the time), and the Hebrew word for "lightning" is baraq. It is even "brac of the Right," since the baraq comes from the right side of the card. Brique à baraq -- brick for the lightning!
Bric-a-brac is b-a-b, -- bab, "gate," the first morpheme in Babel, "Gate of El." El, besides being a name of God, is how a Cockney would pronounce hell -- as in "upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). The tower on the card is built on a rock, and the Tarot de Marseille calls it not The Tower but La Maison Dieu, "the House of God."
Babel is also synonymous with the confusion on tongues -- exemplified by, say, ruestion, uail, and wolcano.
Bric-a-brac also contains the string abrac, as in abracadabra.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Here is a passage in the King James Version of 2 Samuel that rather arrests one's attention.
And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it. . . . And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance. And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem (2 Sam. 12:29-31, KJV).
This certainly makes it sound as if King David practiced the most barbaric tortures on the civilians of an already-conquered city -- one thinks of Genghis Khan executing prisoners by pouring molten silver into their ears, or King Manasseh having Isaiah stuffed into a hollow tree and cut to pieces with a saw -- and there is not the slightest indication in the text that this was sinful or that the Lord disapproved.
Here's the Douay-Rheims version of the pertinent part of v. 31.
And bringing forth the people thereof he sawed them, and drove over them chariots armed with iron: and divided them with knives, and made them pass through brickkilns.
And here's the Wycliffe version.
And he led forth the people thereof, and sawed them, and did about them iron instruments of torment, and parted them with knives, and led them over by the likeness of tilestones.
However, most modern translations render the passage very differently. Here's the now-ubiquitous New International Version. (A footnote warns, "The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.")
and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking.
Recent translations almost universally follow this interpretation -- that the people were enslaved rather than tortured and killed. The New American Standard Bible followed the KJV as recently as its 1995 revision, but the 2020 revision follows the NIV.
Does this change represent some advance in the understanding of the Hebrew text, or simply a desire to put a more palatable interpretation on a shocking passage? My default assumption would be the latter, since recent decades have been rather more notable for their sensitivity and willingness to bowdlerize than for their sound linguistic scholarship.
I know basically no Hebrew, but based on an interlinear translation with grammatical notes, I think a literal reading is "and put them in a saw and in iron 'cuts' [also 'things cut' or 'cutting instruments'] and in iron axes and made them pass through in a brick-mold."
In defense of the enslavement reading, I note that Exodus 1:14 uses the same preposition-prefix ("in") to describe the kind of work the Hebrew slaves did in Egypt: "they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field."
In defense of the torture/murder reading, the various Old Testament references to idolators making their children "pass through the fire" to Molech -- pretty clearly a reference to human sacrifice or a ritual simulation thereof, not child labor -- use the same Hebrew verb for "pass through" as 2 Sam. 12:31. It's difficult to think what this verb could mean in the enslavement reading, even considering that it can also mean "pass over" -- maybe passing over the Jordan from Ammon to Jerusalem? Did David set some of the captives to labor with saws and axes in Ammon or elsewhere in Transjordan (perhaps because there was timber there?) and bring others back to Jerusalem to make bricks?
There's also the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 20:3 to consider, but it is less helpful than it might be in resolving the question. The KJV reads, "And he brought out the people that were in it, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes." (There are no brick-kilns in this version.) The verb cut seems to clear things up, but in fact it is a hapax legomenon, occurring nowhere else in the Bible, and the translation "cut" is just a guess. Strong's says it means "saw, cut," but also says it is identical to the word for "have power, reign" -- saying that the original sense of the latter was "vanquish," which is connected to sawing "through the idea of reducing to pieces." To me, though, the connection between reigning and forcing people to work is even clearer, so the ambiguity remains. English Bibles always translate it in keeping with their translation of 2 Sam. 12:31.
So, no final answer. I lean toward the KJV interpretation but have little confidence in that judgment.
What brought this passage to mind was 1 Kings 11:33.
Because that they [Solomon and his people] have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.
And I thought, Is this saying that worshiping pagan gods is worse than torturing people with saws and axes and burning them in a brik-kiln? Or just worse than enslaving them?
Monday, September 13, 2021
Sunday, September 12, 2021
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Thursday, September 9, 2021
Artflow is an AI that creates portraits from text descriptions, and I thought it would be interesting to see how it depicted men and women of various religions.
Eastern Orthodox man and woman:
Roman Catholic man and woman:
Protestant man and woman:
Mormon man and woman:
Muslim man and woman:
Atheist man and woman:
Jewish man and woman:
Sorry, the people who run Artflow think there is something inherently "inappropriate" about pictures of Jewish people, and they refuse to let their AI draw them. I guess that makes sense; wouldn't want to offend!
|... but these other two are okay.|
Monday, September 6, 2021
This sort of thing is usually classified as "Engrish" (yes, yes, I know that's lacist), but there's a deeper mystery here than mere broken English. What thought process, one wonders, ended in the decision to write on a matchbox, "Live your life like a candle in the wind . . . to become powerful!" (The song does say that loneliness is "tough," I suppose.)
Anyway, I like this one. Sort of Elton John meets Bruce Lee. Be water, my friend! Or a candle.
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Shortly after writing my last post, "Course correction," I opened up the app I have been using to listen to the Bible read aloud. It picked up where I had left off -- I had just finished 1 Samuel 15 -- and so the first thing I heard was this:
And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? (1 Sam. 16:1)
"Mourn" is metaphorical, since Saul was not actually dead at the time. In (synchronistic, not textual) context, I took the passage as confirmation of my recent decision to disengage from politics -- specifically, to stop speculating about Donald Trump. Soon after Trump's emergence as a political figure, you see, I had connected him with Saul. I think the idea came to me when I saw him in one of those debates with a zillion other contenders for the Republican nomination back in 2016, and the extreme way in which he stood out from the crowd made me think, "from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people" (1 Sam. 9:2).
In those days, a relative and I used to play the "reincarnation game" of half-serious speculation about the past-life "lineages" of public figures. Searching my email for "Saul," I find that I wrote this on May 6, 2016:
I know you've already got some of these people in a lineage ending with a magazine publisher, but these days I can't help thinking: King Saul > Henry VIII > George S. Patton > Donald Trump. What do you think?
Rereading that just now, I couldn't remember how George S. Patton had fit in, so I ran a web search and was reminded just how much Old Blood and Guts resembled Trump in terms of physiognomy. Clicking on the most Trumpesque image-search result took me to a page called "On this day in 1945: General George Patton dies in Germany." (Note: Trump was born in 1946.) The page begins thus:
"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." - General George S. Patton Jr.
On December 8, 1945, General Patton's chief of staff, Major General Hobart Gay, invited him on a hunting trip near Speyer, Germany, to lift his spirits. Observing derelict cars along the side of the road, Patton said, "How awful war is. Think of the waste." Moments later, his vehicle collided with an American army truck at low speed.
The very first words: "It is foolish and wrong to mourn." How long wilt thou mourn for Saul? And then, "How awful war is. Think of the waste." Disengage.
Last time I tried to disengage from "anything topical, political, or evil," the sync fairies weren't having any of it, so this synchronistic expression of approval is encouraging -- even if, in typically mischievous fashion, they had to communicate it in the form of a Trump sync!
Saturday, September 4, 2021
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
I have recently stressed the complete absence of any afterlife teaching from the Torah of Moses. Kevin McCall left a comment pointing out that (according to a tradition reported centuries later by St. Stephen) "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22) and thus must surely have been familiar with the afterlife beliefs that played so prominent a role in Egyptian religion.
This made me ask the question, Just how Egyptian was Moses, really? I have often assumed, from his being raised in Pharaoh's palace, that he was almost entirely Egyptian by upbringing and had little direct knowledge of his ultimately Mesopotamian heritage. (Abraham was from Mesopotamia.) When God spoke to him from the burning bush, Moses said,
Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, "The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you"; and they shall say to me, "What is his name?" what shall I say unto them? (Ex. 3:13)
His name was El, of course -- El Elyon, El Shaddai -- but Moses didn't know that. When the voice from the burning bush identified itself as "the God of thy fathers," Moses had to ask, in essence, "The God of my fathers -- uh, which God is that again?" He comes across in this passage as fundamentally deracinated -- and, presumably, thoroughly Egyptianized.
When you ask what about Moses was distinctly Egyptian, though, it's hard to come up with much. The miracles, certainly, feel far closer to Egyptian than to Babylonian magic, but is there anything Egyptian in his teachings? Genesis 1-11 is of course indisputably Mesopotamian in nature, with many parallels to the Enuma Elish and Gilgamesh, and the Law of Moses itself has its closest parallel in the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi. One can see how secular scholars would conclude that the Torah was written during the Babylonian exile, but the other possible explanation is that these were traditions preserved from the time of Abram of Ur.
The golden calf of Aaron has always seemed Mesopotamian to me, too, a symbol of El or Adad. The Egyptians had bovine gods as well (Hathor, the Apis Bull), but Aaron seems to identify it as a non-Egyptian deity -- "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." I don't think the Hebrews could readily have imagined any Egyptian god taking their side against Pharaoh, the manifestation of Horus.
I think that, while Moses was indeed raised as an Egyptian and "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," he deliberately rejected that heritage, tried to learn about the traditional (broadly Mesopotamian) religion of the Hebrews (collecting the stories we now have in the Book of Genesis), and tried to interpret his own experiences through the Hebrew lens. The afterlife is not passively omitted from the Torah, as if it "hadn't been discovered yet," but was actively excluded by Moses as part of the Egyptian tradition he rejected. I think this has more to do with the individual personality of Moses than with anything else; it is interesting to speculate how the development of the Hebrew religion might have been different if Moses had been less of a purist.
Despite this active effort to be un-Egyptian, did something of the Egyptian spirit nevertheless come through in Moses and his work? If so, I have not noticed it -- but perhaps that is simply because I am less familiar with Egyptian thought and religion than with its Mesopotamian counterparts.
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